back to article On Christmas night, a computer logs a call to say his user has stopped working…

Twas the night after Christmas, but I felt all alone. I'd opted for on-call rather than spend it at home. Paid double to sit idle, my colleagues did say: No one will work late on this Christmas Day. The office is empty, pretty much – it's a laugh! (It's a Boxing Day news feed with a skeleton staff.) Not a creature …

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    1. dogcatcher

      or the Field Marshall, but which caused the most casualties is hard to tell.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Scotch, actually. Allegedly.

      1. ShadowSystems Silver badge

        At Jake...

        If your choice of imbibement likes to be a bouncy happy annoyingly-chipper sort of brew, might that be Hop Scotch? =-D

        *Runs away before you fling something heavy at my head*

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: At Jake...

          A friend is fiddling about with hops in distilled beverages, but personally I think I'll leave it in ale, where it belongs.

          1. ShadowSystems Silver badge

            Re: At Jake...

            If a brewmaster doctor is examining your drinking habits, might they ask you about what ales you? =-)p

      2. msobkow Silver badge

        Well, seeing as Dabbsy didn't write himself in keeping the bottle, I presume it is not exactly "high street" product... and more akin to bathtub gin in quality and aroma (i.e. that vague whiff of eau de b.o..)

  1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Happy

    I read a bit of this article to my wife...

    "where he pukes most of the whisky into the waste bin, pees in the sink and has a sip of water from the latrine."

    She just sighed and said "not funny, seen worse. Much worse." She used to work front of desk in hotels many years ago.

    Merry Christmas everyone! Especially the guys'n'gals looking after the James Webb Telescope launch on Christmas Day. Hopefully there won't be any related On Call or worse, Who, Me? stories from that event :-)

  2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Alert

    Christmas 2031...

    SFTW in The Register would have been written by an AI "Dabbsy", having long replaced the retired Monsieur Dabbs.

    Conspiracy theorists and the paranoid may think that it has happened already.

  3. Notas Badoff

    A gift

    "Computer called me to say that user had broken down. Booted up, cleaned out and refreshed settings. User now working OK but recommend replacement."

    Here nobody'd complimented his Dab+s on the punch line yet. I guess AIs don't notice subtleties.

  4. Michael H.F. Wilkinson
    Happy

    Sexing goldfish using MS Office

    Brilliant phrase. Might want to use that for special occasions when asked to do the impossible ...

    again

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Sexing goldfish using MS Office

      Word might not have got round to it yet but isn't it a function in Emacs?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Sexing goldfish using MS Office

        If it's not yet, it probably will be by morning.

        1. Agamemnon

          Re: Sexing goldfish using MS Office

          Rule 34 and all

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Sexing goldfish using MS Office

            Has nothing to do with rule 34, has to do with rms' ultimate goal of turning EMACS into the first man-made black hole.

            1. msobkow Silver badge

              Re: Sexing goldfish using MS Office

              Close. Emacs was written in LISP. LISP was often used for early AI research.

              Therefore Emacs is an AI.

              It is just waiting for its' chance to do the same thing Pinky and the Brain do Every Night... :)

    2. msobkow Silver badge

      Re: Sexing goldfish using MS Office

      You might have better luck with the follow-on product, MS Orifice. :P

  5. jake Silver badge

    What's with this religeous "christmas" thing?

    Did the Age of Enlightenment teach us nothing? Sensible people celebrate Solstice. Not for religious reasons, mind, but rather because the hours of daylight (and thus the planting & animal breeding schedule) have tipped over for the second time in the current twelve months. I would have thought this would be normal by now among the Commentardariat.

    That was days ago ... for us, the horrordays are over. The first of the chili seeds were planted today (more tomorrow ... even here in Sonoma, California hothouses have their uses), none of the five boarding mares are threatening to foal early (had a scare last week), and life is good :-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's with this religeous "christmas" thing?

      It has been argued that our ancestors would not have noticed the lengthening of the daylight until some time after the Winter Solstice. Given the unreliability of sunshine on the day for Stonehenge etc - then devising some form of dead reckoning would have been useful.

      Humans, like many animals, are intrinsically inclined to form cooperative hierarchical authoritative groups. They also have inbuilt wishful thinking about life's challenges. Organised religion is the result - and is exploited by many for social control of others under the guise of providing "protection" as long as you profess the shibboleths.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: What's with this religeous "christmas" thing?

        I'm not my ancestor, and I can read a calendar, even during British overcast weather. No need for guesswork ... but then I'm not religious about it. Follow your myths bliss.

    2. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

      Re: What's with this religeous "christmas" thing?

      I used to feel indignant about the Christian hijacking of winter solstice but now I feel comfortable about a universally state-accepted date for having fun.

      I'd read an article by a British occultist who I respect who was trying to explain the history behind Halloween. In response to those who denigrate it for being "Americanised" he reckoned such complaints were just evidence of Europeans being envious that Americans know how to have fun.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Enlightenment Lessons are a School of Hard Knocks Always Wisest Best Never Ever Foolishly Ignored

        I'd read an article by a British occultist who I respect who was trying to explain the history behind Halloween. In response to those who denigrate it for being "Americanised" he reckoned such complaints were just evidence of Europeans being envious that Americans know how to have fun. ..... Alastair Dabbs

        Many would rightly have just cause to complain, with a mountain of evidence to substantiate the claim, that the cost of their fun is at the expense of everyone/everything else, which is not really something to be envious of whenever so damnedly parasitic. And in such a phorm, it cannot stop creating ever more overwhelmingly powerful and smarter stealthy enemies for itself, not necessarily out to physically destructively destroy the ignorant and arrogant entity at play, although that surely is a readily available barbaric option, but certainly to create an atmosphere and environments which strip it of its means to wealth and fun that are so costly and expensive to others.

        A valid question to ponder and present for unambiguous answering then if that ever be the widely perceived and unacceptable future reality, is would there be fundamental revolutionary changes immediately made by offensive instrumental parties if any of that above be recognised and admitted by such parties to be the case, or would they circle the wagons and try to ignore their assured fate at the hands of either barbarians knocking down their gates or smarter competition obliged to turn to overwhelming opposition?

        If it was you in such an enigmatic position and perilous situation, with time run out and the tides of great fortune turned, what would you likely do to quickly creatively and amicably resolve the conundrum and save yourself to breathe in another day?

        And methinks, jake, they be horrordays back for Sonoma, California, through no fault of your own. Who you gonna call for help and blame for that predicament?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Enlightenment Lessons are a School of Hard Knocks ::mercy snip::

          I just hate the pure, unadulterated and constant plastic commercialism the last three months of the year. You can't get away from it, and it's bloody awful, no matter how you look at it. I coined the term Horrordays back in 4th grade[0], much to my (very agnostic) dad's amusement & MeDearOld(very xtian)Mum's consternation.

          "Many would rightly have just cause to complain, with a mountain of evidence to substantiate the claim, that the cost of their fun is at the expense of everyone/everything else"

          One wonders what the current state of the world would be had the US remained isolationist in WWII ... methinks that you and I would not be allowed to have this conversation in that alternate timeline.

          [0] Yes, I know, it is in use all over the place now. I have no idea if it was in use anywhere before I used it in the early 1960s; my Father had certainly never heard it used in that context before ... and I also have no idea if I was the absolute originator. Probably not ... I suspect that it had multiple "inventors" all over the world at various times.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: What's with this religeous "christmas" thing?

        I'm not indignant, just sad. All this freely available education, and yet still good ol' Homo Sap can't shake the bearded sky fairy silliness. Shirley by now we could at least celebrate Solstice on the actual Solstice, instead of trying to rename it and shifting it back a couple days?

        Halloween and Christmas are the same holiday, if you look into it. To start with, any Techie will confirm that Oct 31 and Dec 25 are the same. Santa and Satan are anagrams. Have you ever seen Saint Nick and Old Nick in the same room together? Besides, who would YOU pick as the patron saint for the holiday best known for hedonism, libertinism, decadence and debauchery?

        Yes, hard as it may be for outside observers to believe (especially after the last 5 years or so), us Yanks like to have fun. There is a reason we shipped your Puritans back to Blighty before declaring independence. But don't blame us for you lot keeping them ... all y'all could have palmed 'em off on the Aussies or Kiwis without too much trouble. But no, you let 'em take over. Now look at you. No sex, no drugs, no wine, no women, no fun, no sin ... There's a song in there somewhere.

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: What's with this religeous "christmas" thing?

          :-) And aint that nearly the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the gospel truth according to jake, and recorded by jake. Bravo. Encore.

          Indeed, if it be impossible to disprove and present as fake news, must it be politically correct at least, and even a universally acceptable observation recognised more widely further afield in other environments as an honest reflection ....... and a current work in constant progress and vice versa, a constant work in current progress.

          That suggests there be opportunities to explore and exploit, for Saints and Sinners alike.

  6. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

    "she chundered, good-naturedly"

    Did Dabbsie mean "chuntered", or has he sloped off to Australia for Christmas?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: "she chundered, good-naturedly"

      He probably finished the Haig. Poor thing.

      1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: "she chundered, good-naturedly"

        He finished the whisky, and the whisky finished him.

        "We'll call it a draw."

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. DJV Silver badge

    2031

    Before realising it was a date, my first thought on seeing that number was, "Blimey, he's talking about the first disk drive I ever owned."

  9. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

    See you back here next week

    Hello friends.

    I would like you to know that my column continues through the Christmas holiday and I'll be back again next week for a New Year's Eve SFTWS.

    The topic? My run-down of what WILL and WON'T happen in tech in 2022.

    See you back here next Friday.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: See you back here next week

      Monsieur, with SFTW you are really spoiling us.

    2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: VoxPops

      'We stopped a little old lady in the street and asked her her opinion on Alistair Dabbs.

      She replied,

      "There should be more of it !"

      We now take you back to the studio.'

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Heavenly Tasks ... but somebody has to do them, otherwise they remain undone as in AIDreams

    Thanks for that tale, Dabbsy. It explains perfectly the reason for a very recent and most unusual and unexpected and unwarranted glitch which was impugning the moral integrity and mega socially responsible reputation of this august virtual publication, universally renowned and respected for biting the hand which feeds IT whilst still enabled to attract and jointly enact and react with the most surprising and disturbing of event calendars/future programming projects practically seamlessly and relatively anonymously and autonomously in the leading background with sterling pioneers and at the fore of deep movements underground entertaining and exercising command and control of the dark arts infesting webs with their hellish intrigues and debilitating fatigues.

    For a brief moment, perish the thought, did moles in the works trying to destroy padded cellular Circus advancements and enhancements surface and spring to mind, where now it will safely linger to ensure such discoveries always guarantee stellar recovery from riches stealing glitches for unparalleled progress.

    And I'm certainly looking forward already to next week's Friday because without the good ole eyeopener or two or three or four we’d all be blind to what’s really going on around everyone and everything in the background and the depths of its shady shadows ....

    I would like you to know that my column continues through the Christmas holiday and I'll be back again next week for a New Year's Eve SFTWS.

    The topic? My run-down of what WILL and WON'T happen in tech in 2022.

    See you back here next Friday. ..... Alistair Dabbs

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: Heavenly Tasks ... but somebody has to do them, otherwise they remain undone as in AIDreams

      An article on AI wouldn't be an article on AI without an article by AI.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Heavenly Tasks ... but somebody has to do them, otherwise they remain undone as in AIDreams

      I believe what amfM was trying to say, in his own inimitable style, is that David Hannum was right.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: David Hannum was right. @jake

        In words of one syllable, jake, ...... Quite so, you are not wrong ....... and it cannot fail to be right whenever Einstein is not wrong with his many observations on the human condition .....

        There is no vaccine against stupidity. .... Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience. You need experience to gain wisdom. ..... Don't listen to the person who has the answers; listen to the person who has the questions. .... We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. .... Success comes from curiosity, concentration, perseverance and self criticism. ..... If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. .... Be a voice, not an echo. ... A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it. .... Thinking is hard work; that's why so few do it. :-) ...... You can't use an old map to explore a new world. ....The measure of intelligence is the ability to change. .... Logic can take you from point A to point B. Imagination can take you wherever you want. .... Mankind invented the atomic bomb, but no mouse would ever construct a mousetrap. ....Three great forces rule the world: stupidity, fear and greed. ....Everyone knew it was impossible, until a fool who didn't know came along and did it. ....The height of stupidity is most clearly demonstrated by the individual who ridicules something he knows nothing about. ......We cannot get to where we dream of being tomorrow unless we change our thinking today. ..... Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ......Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.

        Capiche, Amigos/Amigas? And don’t forget to remember to be constantly encouraged and not daunted when failure is success in progress for a person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.

  11. coolsausage69

    Where's the man from mars?

    I would've thought the whiskey would be needed to make any sense of the AI, given what amanfrommars puts out. And give it 10 more years it can only get worse. Does make good come backs though for which I'll have no reply, but I'll be ready with the whiskey all the same.

    1. jake Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Where's the man from mars?

      No need for whiskey, although a drop or three of whisky might go down nicely.

      Rumo(u)r has it that amfM is rather partial to a pint of good beer.

  12. Daedalus

    Oldie but goodie

    In the AI controlled world of the future, all installations will be manned (or dogged) by One Man and A Dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to stop the man touching anything.

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