Look for the Simple Solution

Posted: September 11, 2008 in software, troubleshooting

This week I’ve come across a trio of things that reminded me to look for the simple solutions.

The week started with two patron records mysteriously sharing the same barcode number. Because of some recent testing I’ve done with loading patron records, I immediately went back to the data looking for anomalies and mismatched data fields. A colleague over in Circulation was also looking at the records which incidentally both had the last name. He quickly hypothesized that a student worker had pulled up one record by name and accidentally linked the barcode to the wrong record. Oh yeah. That could be it too.

Yesterday started off with the SharePoint problem. All of the other computers were working properly. The reference desk computer is running Windows Vista and is therefore just a little different from all the others. We looked at some network settings and SharePoint permissions before finally isolating AIM Toolbar as the culprit.

Just by way of making things lively yesterday, a power outage threw things into disarray when the firewall failed to come back up properly. When we first started investigating, the odd mixture of public and office problems made this issue seem more widespread than it actually was. In the end, the problem was resolved simply by rebooting the firewall.

All of these problems had fairly simple explanations or solutions. However, in each case I started troubleshooting by looking for the hard answers instead of the easy ones – a backwards approach if there ever was one. Lately I’ve worked on a number of odd problems that had complicated solutions or causes. Because of this, I think I’ve fallen into the habit of looking for the hard-to-find exotic solution rather than the simple straightforward one. I guess after so many hard problems, you kind of think that the simple solutions just won’t work. After all, they haven’t worked the last few times you tried ’em, right? But of course the simple solutions often DO work. And yes, sometimes rebooting really will make a problem go away; it’s not just a tech support ploy to buy time.

So . . . note to self . . . remember to look for the simple solutions!

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