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Troubleshooting with your Teddy Bear

My buddy Dave once shared with me a bit of computing wisdom which I've since found invaluable.

"Proper troubleshooting requires a Teddy Bear."

As it was told to me -- long ago in a university computer lab not so far away -- there was a sysadmin who became frustrated with the number of questions he was asked by student developers. It wasn't that the questions were invalid, or that the students weren't thinking them through. Rather, his frustration was with questions which found their own answers.

Students seeking his help would begin to explain the problem they were working on. More often than not, they wouldn't finish explaining before having an "Aha!" moments; That tiny moment of clarity every developer, admin or desktop analyst seeks as a part of their job.

Being forced to explain the problem had some effect which thinking about the problem alone didn't. How can you achieve the same mind-altered state without bugging the sysadmin, or taking a handful of Adderol and Xanaax*?

The weary sysadmin found a brilliant solution. He attached a teddy bear to his desk, and forced anyone who wanted to ask him a question to address the bear and explain the problem.

So, the next time you're halfway through asking a collegue a question and find yourself saying, "Wait, I think I just got it, never mind!", remember to thank them for being your teddy bear.

* Download Squad does not condone the abuse of Adderol, Xanaax or any other prescription drugs. Just sayin'.

Tags: cool, geek, teddy bear, TeddyBear, tricks, tricks-of-the-trade, troubleshooting

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