back to article Your taxes at work: Three hours driving to turn on politician's PC

Welcome again to On-Call, in which fellow Reg readers share their experiences of going out into user-land to fix stuff, often under trying circumstances. This week's tale comes from reader John, who wrote to share his reminiscences”working for a local authority in the north of England covering some 800 square miles of …

  1. James 51

    Reminds me of the infamous Lotus support call but with a politer ending.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shhhhhh.....

    don't shout about those gifts too loudly or the Taxman may come a caling.

    Benefits in kind and all that...

    Then there is the expense fiddling that goes on. The £5.00 pint suddenly appears as a £50 dinner in the givers expenses.

  3. banalyzer
    Facepalm

    Gift or curse?

    Has a client offered you an interesting gift after you sorted out their mess?

    You would call a free membership to any political party a gift?

    Either I need another cuppa to nudge my sarcasm detector into action or the world is getting madder

    1. Simon Sharwood, Reg APAC Editor (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Gift or curse?

      Madder for sure.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Gift or curse?

      Gift is German for poison... Works for me, sitting here in Lower Saxony.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Gift or curse?

        You also have to remember that until recently (at least up until Corbyn landed) the whole UK political system was fairly much red/blue colour-blind, given how difficult it was to tell the main parties and their policies apart...

  4. tkioz
    Pint

    A six pack of beer is about the biggest 'gift' I ever got, and it was terrible stuff.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This one time...

    I had a 30 minute dash to a customer at 5pm on a friday. He knew how to turn his computer on, but didn't realise that the extension lead he had it plugged into had a switch on it (that was in the 'off' position).

    So yes, an hour's driving for a 10 second diagnosis and resolution.

    The clincher: his job. He was a university professor.

    1. Fullbeem

      Re: This one time...

      Better to be a jack of all trades rather than a Professor of one

      1. Why Not?
        Happy

        Re: This one time...

        upvoted & stolen

    2. Bloodbeastterror

      Re: This one time...

      "He was a university professor."

      This reminds me of the Volvo advert a few years ago extolling the technical wonders of the vehicle to a white-coated man, the punchline being "But what do I know? I'm just a brain surgeon."

      1. Infernoz Bronze badge
        Holmes

        Re: This one time...

        That is exactly the point of the seemingly ironic "But what do I know? I'm just a brain surgeon." statement in the Volvo advert. Most people don't need to know how a tool like a car or a computer works, just be competent in using it. If someone is really smart or challenged in their occupation, they may even be incompetent in other areas, they should be competent in, because they have neglected them.

        1. mstreet

          Re: This one time...

          In my experience servicing small offices, it's the lawyers, and even worse, the money managers who are the worse. It's not that they are more intellectually challenged than the average user, but that they THINK they are genius', and will arrogantly ignore all the good sense you try to ram down their throats.

    3. kmac499

      Re: This one time...

      Whilst working as the contract IT guy in a little enginneering company a sales bod arived to do a prearranged demo of a new super CAD system consisting of a Top End 286 PC (it was a long time ago) and a hulking 19 inch RGB monitor. After fiddling with an apparently dead system the increasingly worried sales person called back to base and their techy hopped in a car and shot over.

      After a cursory exam of the system, and when no one else was looking, the techy quietly turned the brightness up on the screen

      I noticed this but did not shop the said sales person for two reasons.

      1) Sales person was a woman and I didn't want to give the mildly macho Drawing Office manager an excuse to diss what in all other respects was a perfectly good demo.

      2) There but for the grace, we all may pass.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: This one time...

        Professors are amongst the worst.

        Last week I got a call to a Professor who had moved to a new building a year previously. He'd got his scanner out of the crate, plugged it in, hooked up the USB, checked that he still had the scanner software on it, nothing. Nada. BUT! the PC had said it was installing the device driver.

        So I went down, checked the scanner was plugged in, scanned the USB bus - there it was, identified and everything, downloaded new software for it, removed the drivers, reinstalled...

        Working on it and scratching my head for an hour about. I was concerned, however, that the scanner didn't seem to be going through a proper initial motor / head calibration cycle when I plugged it in. Just a "pip" from the motor.

        Surely that can't be it? I thought. Pip?! These things growl and clunk for at least 30 seconds.

        Check power supply voltage... the brick on the floor was a 5V unit. Was this the right one? No power labelling anywhere on the exciting, funkily designed to match an old G4 Power Mac HP scanner. Can I find the manual? No. So I look at the PSU again. Magnifying glass out on the microscopic engraving and it reveals "Gilson" on it. It's for charging rechargeable power pipettors.

        But no joy on finding what it should be. So I go hunting through my rag tag collection of discarded wall warts and take a punt on a 12V positive tip with the same diameter barrel.

        Bingo!

        5V was just enough to power the USB circuitry so it could be seen, but not enough that if any other component kicked in, like a button press or a back light or a motor, then it would disappear from the bus.

        I got tea and biscuits during the fix. And treated to his guided tour of preserved mammalian genitalia.

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: This one time...

          I got tea and biscuits during the fix. And treated to his

          guided tour of preserved mammalian genitalia.

          I'm pretty sure when I've seen this plotline before, it ends very badly indeed.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: This one time...

            Comparative reproductive anatomy. It is actually a science thing. As well as being 66% of the use of the internet.

        2. ShadowDragon8685

          Re: This one time...

          That sounds like it'd be an interesting tour, well worth the viewing, TBH.

        3. Imsimil Berati-Lahn
          Coat

          Re: This one time...

          He had a collection of mammalian genitalia?

          Sounds like a load of bollocks to me.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This one time...

      Used to work hardware helpdesk for Dell in the U.S. When slow, the manager would pull us over to

      the software helpdesk for various General Electric divisions in the US.

      You'd get plenty of the bookkeepers needing help with Excel, but the worrying calls were Engineers from GENE (General Electric Nuclear Energy) where they showed a complete lack of technological aptitude.

    5. G.Y.

      Re: This one time...

      Sociology?

  6. John Robson Silver badge

    Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

    ...that she could have asked what colour the light was?

    I'd have suggested she grab someone off the street to check the colour. I am presuming that this is before the days of camera phones, where a simple picture message of the light would have done the job...

    1. Mag07

      Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

      Preety much - not sure this story meant to ridicule the client is not achieving exactly the opposite... :p

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

      I worked with Engineers.

      Us mere mortals would judge the Engineer candidates who came for job interviews by which ones could successfully operate the clearly marked push/pull front doors.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

        so... an engineer who could solve complex areodynamic problems in their head but pulled instead of pushed the door would fail the job interview even if the jod was for an such an engineer?

        It is little wonder young people don't want to go into Engineering today if there are PHB's like you in charge of hiring.

        Not evetyone is a perfect as you. God help us if it were. The world would be an awfully boring place.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

          I do that, but because I'm dyslexic. Push/Pull both begin with P. So yes, I can read. My concious mind works fine. Tell that to my dyslexic half though. It insists on doing things a different way.

          1. zb

            Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

            You should try living in Brazil where pull is 'puxe' which is pronunced 'push'.

          2. cosymart
            FAIL

            Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

            Why are there handles on doors that need to be pushed?

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

            Your not the only one my friend. I'm the same with left and right.

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

          Rather depends if you want an engineer who can provide broad solutions or one who can pay attention to detail.

          1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

            Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

            "Rather depends if you want an engineer who can provide broad solutions or one who can pay attention to detail."

            A competent engineer should be able to do both. And be able to see when to use what.

            Disclaimer: no, they won't teach you that at uni. That's experience, both in your field and life in general (people!). You pick it up over time. That time is shorter when you can profit from someone else's experience, i.e. learn from someone who's been around the block already.

        3. joeldillon

          Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

          I don't think he implied he was the guy making the hiring decision.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Boffin

          Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

          Surely what matters is the cost of getting it wrong.

          A push vs pull door, cost one second of your time and possibly a tiny laugh at your expense. Attention to that level of detail needn't be a priority. Getting obsessed with it could indicate a personality issue, or at least someone seriously under-employed.

        5. Scott 53
          Headmaster

          Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

          To be fair, engineers who can solve problems on how plate tectonics used to work on Mars are rather thin on the ground.

          Was there also a spelling test?

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

            People who catch shipping containers that are dropped by aircraft. They're pretty thin on the ground as well.

        6. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

          More accurately: so.... an idiot architect who decides that the millennia-old "doors open *INTO* the place you're going *INTO*" paradigm is just too pass/e for his building.

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

            "the millennia-old "doors open *INTO* the place you're going *INTO*" paradigm"

            That'a a paradigm? Hmm, well for the buildings that I can accurately remember right now, I'd say it works nearly every time for houses and no more than 50% (possibly quite less) for other buildings.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

              "I'd say it works nearly every time for houses and no more than 50% (possibly quite less) for other buildings."

              IME, at least here in the UK, doors on commercial or public access buildings almost always open either in AND out or, more likely, open in the direction of the escape route so doors to the outside almost always open outwards.

            2. Kiwi Silver badge

              Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

              Hmm, well for the buildings that I can accurately remember right now, I'd say it works nearly every time for houses and no more than 50% (possibly quite less) for other buildings.

              I know a number of retail buildings where the doors open outwards. The reasoning was that someone entering the building would have hands relatively empty whereas people going out could be carrying heavy items, so they could push through.

              Of course, why they didn't make the doors swing both ways (little more cost, much customer friendly) or go all-out with automatics....

            3. Wensleydale Cheese

              Doors

              "I'd say it works nearly every time for houses and no more than 50% (possibly quite less) for other buildings."

              Workplace fire regulations say that doors on an emergency exit route open outwards.

          2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

            idiot architect

            Me defending architects is a rare event, but in all fairness doors openig to the outside has usually to do with building codes and safety regulations. If its a public building or a large-ish office block or hospital or whatever it's usually a (primary) evacuation route. Trust me, when the building is on fire you don't want to be in front of a 'pull' door with dozends of people behind you trying to get out.

          3. Sherrie Ludwig

            Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

            "More accurately: so.... an idiot architect who decides that the millennia-old "doors open *INTO* the place you're going *INTO*" paradigm is just too pass/e for his building'

            In the USA, public-use doors must open OUT, because if a fire or other emergency occurs, people inside will rush to the doors in a group, and tend to push OUT. A door that opens INTO a building could get jammed by a mob all trying to get out and with the people at the back not knowing what's going on at the front, be unable to back up enough to allow the doors to swing open to the inside.

          4. Andy A

            Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

            That paradigm only holds if you are on a particular side of the door. The "both ways" doors are more difficult to secure, so most offices these days use the "make it easy to get out if there's a fire" paradigm.

        7. cray74

          Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

          "so... an engineer who could solve complex areodynamic problems in their head but pulled instead of pushed the door would fail the job interview even if the jod was for an such an engineer?

          I'm glad that's not the case at my engineering job. I just amused several coworkers this morning by trying to pull open a push door. Amused commentary included a, "Gifted." Fortunately, I deduced the door handle's mechanism before anyone needed to help me.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

        Addendum:

        Original AC here.

        We didn't interview them, we would just bet on the probable winners and losers by checking their door handling abilities.

        Geesh!

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

        Maybe a good engineer would have pointed out that it should have been "We mere mortals".

      4. G.Y.

        push/pull Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

        The glass doors of my building, seen from outside, have "pull" on then -- but also (effectively) "push" in mirror writing; and I can read mirror-writing pretty fast ...

        1. Kiwi Silver badge

          Re: push/pull Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

          The glass doors of my building, seen from outside, have "pull" on then -- but also (effectively) "push" in mirror writing; and I can read mirror-writing pretty fast ...

          A great great many years ago, when I was still young and probably about as dumb as I am now (maybe more intelligent even - I hadn't started in the cesspit that is IT back then!), I was drving a truck through town with the boss beside me. He gave me directions for a turn. I started the turn and saw "NO ENTRY" clearly on the road, borked, went over a traffic island to avoid going the wrong way into a one-way system. With the boss swearing considerably..

          Only after we'd "talked" some (with me telling him I saw a NO ENTRY sign there) did we go back and look. Sure enough, "NO ENTRY". Upside-down from the angle I saw it at.

          I instantly regretted teaching myself to read upside down nearly as fast as I could read normally (hey, I wanted to read whatever notes the teacher had about me...). All my brain saw was "NO ENTRY" in big letters... It was a big truck, first time I had driven it on the road, boss in a not-great mood beside me..

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Joke

            Re: push/pull Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

            The door to the local Chippy has "Open" painted on it.

            When they close, they go home.

    3. illiad

      Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

      NOPE... you forgot to get your client to identify the different parts of the PC... dont you know that even 'clever' people often think the *monitor* is the computer???

      The peopl I hate are those that decided they did not need a *second* socket on the PC PSU, to feed the monitor...

      - ONE plug to feed both PC and monitor, improves fault-finding! Nowadays two sockets are needed, and quite ioften the monitor is plugged in a long way from the PC plug! >:(

      1. chris 17 Silver badge

        Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

        @ illiad

        My old mac performa (ppc640?) had power out for the monitor on the tower, helped keep cabling tidy.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

          "My old mac performa (ppc640?) had power out for the monitor on the tower, helped keep cabling tidy."

          So did most of the PCs of the era, hence why the OP mentioned it.

      2. VeryOldFart
        Coat

        Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

        I spent 45 minutes trying to get one of these 'second socket' machines working - monitor on desktop, tower under desk. Ended up calling supplier asking where the 'jumper' was in the tower because the screen worked but the tower wouldn't power up. "What on earth are you talking about" was the reply.

        Very red-faced, I realized that, in the mess of cables under the desk, I had plugged the power cord for the tower back into the second socket in the tower and the power cord from the wall directly into the monitor.

        Weirdly, a month later, a colleague had a similar problem with two Ethernet cables and two computers. Computer plugged into computer with one cable and wall socket to wall socket with the other. He was amazed how quickly I worked this out, until I told him about my previous experience.

        I wasn't offered any gifts for solving that one.

    4. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: Really - there wasn't a cleaner or anyone else in the building...

      Oddly enough I usually ask if they can feel air coming out of the vents. Doesn't take much and is pretty much guaranteed to show a problem if its not (unless it's a thin client jobbie but never had the misfortune of having to try and figure one of those out yet)

  7. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Also happened to myself.

    PC was off, nobody could get it to switch on. First line support suspected a dead PSU, so they sent me off to investigate.

    Never swapped the PSU out, took one look at the monitor (was dead as well), searched for the circuit breaker distribution box, and reset the tripped circuit breaker, and hey, presto! All fixed! 1 hour charge plus callout fee for 10 minutes' work.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      But...

      Did you have the right cerifications to reset the breaker?

      Were you a member of the right Union?

      did you have a 'mate' standing by in case you were electorcuted by the breaker?

      did you make out a safety case in triplicate and submit it for approval first?

      did you do a risk assessment?

      Just resetting the breaker is clearly not enough in today's world.

      1. illiad

        Re: But...

        either the premises has a VERY small amount of appliances, and the 'circuit breaker' was a very small domestic type, just needing a *plastic* button to be pushed/ flipped...

        do no one notice the lack of power???

        Or was thier phone 'powered by the line' (not digital, just *ancient* ) or hear the client mumbling, " cannot see the compter properly, we have a power cut at the moment.... " :O :O

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But...

        "Just resetting the breaker is clearly not enough in today's world."

        Racist!

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKcWu0tsiZM

  8. chivo243 Silver badge
    Go

    Customers have been good to me

    In house we regularly get chocolates, baked goods, more chocolate and on occasion a bottle of wine.

    Freelancing, I've gotten a lot of cool stuff. Bottles of scotch, a mobile phone, the computer I came to fix, and even a couple of short lived relationships. Being married now I don't do much freelancing...

    1. John Tserkezis

      Re: Customers have been good to me

      "..and even a couple of short lived relationships. Being married now I don't do much freelancing..."

      Exactly what line of work were you in?

    2. Andy A
      Pint

      Re: Customers have been good to me

      Rewards for many of the tasks I undertake outside working hours tend to be of an alcoholic beverage nature.

      Generally, decent bottled ales are appropriate, but a recent one was a bottle of single malt.

      One company I helped out in the early 80s came up with a CASE of Margaux, which I am thinking about opening soon.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not IT related but

    Was tasked to work a Sunday to help 'lift' a vintage car up 10 steps into a Town Hall for an exhibition.

    Not my usual (IT) gig, but money is money.

    Six of us were paid double time for a minimum of 4 hours each.

    We turned up expecting some very hard graft.

    Lo and behold, the geezer who owned the car had his own specially made ramps.

    It wheeled inside in minutes with just 2 guys pushing it.

    Government job of course.

  10. Winkypop Silver badge

    Best?

    A kiss, actually.

    10 minutes before a big exec presentation.

    Very attractive lady was trying to change 30 Powerpoint slides in a hurry.

    It was template based, so I introduced her to the Master Slide.

    One change, all change!

    Sweet.

  11. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    I once spent...

    36 hrs straight in a datacentre - diagnosing, planning, reinstalling/reconfiguring to PROD status a 6 frame AS/400 and integrations for a large media company after a total and complete systems failure. To this day I still get chilling flashbacks whenever I hear "JD Edwards" mentioned.

    They gave me sweet FA. But I did get paid day rate x 1.5 in full rather than TOIL so that was nice - although I admit, not quite as nice as free membership to a local political party :-$

  12. Stuart Halliday

    Car park space for life

    Accountancy company offered me a free car space once I fixed their embarrassing IT backup procedure.

    Some twat had set it to backup their clients work at 02:00. For 2 years it had came up at the due time "Are you sure you want to overwrite this tape". Of course it defaulted to NO each and every night.

    I added /Y to a batch script. Got given a car park space in a busy city centre. :)

    Saved the CEOs bacon didn't I?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Screen?

    My first wife thought the (CRT) monitor was the computer, and the PC was just the "hard drive"

    Anonymous because... you never know...

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Screen?

      Is that why she became an 'ex' then?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Screen?

        "Is that why she became an 'ex' then?"

        She found his porn stash on the "hard drive".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Screen?

          "She found his porn stash on the "hard drive"."

          She could never have managed that- d'oh!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Screen?

        "Is that why she became an 'ex' then?"

        Swapped her for an electrical engineer

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Screen?

      This is so common. It's almost a given to check that the users aren't referring to the monitor/screen as the computer. They just assume, I guess, that the big box just stores the documents. It goes back to the days of the telly box being the whole works and the saved programmes being put into a VCR box on a big black tape.

    3. phuzz Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Screen?

      When I'm troubleshooting down the phone, I usually take the time to stress that I'm talking about the computer, ie the box under the counter, not the screen.

      However, this is assuming that the user actually listens to me. I once spent twenty minutes on the phone to someone who was trying to turn the 'computer' on, before I asked the question a second time and discovered that no, they'd just been toggling the monitor off and on.

      Oh well, it was all chargeable time.

      1. mstreet

        Re: Screen?

        Don't think it's so much a matter of them not listening, as it is just plane lying. I can't count the number of times I've asked the question: "What were you doing before the computer <insert problem here>?" and gotten an obvious lie as an answer.

        I had a panicking user call me over to look at a laptop once, and the monitor was showing a garbled start up screen. When asked if anything had happened prior to the freeze, like new hardware added, or a BsOD, she replied no.

        Her face never even flinched when I turned the laptop over to check the serial number out, and half a cup of coffee poured out of the fan vents.

    4. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: Screen?

      To be fair, if it's a laptop is kinda one and the same.

  14. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
    Megaphone

    Why fucking green and fucking orange Arrrggghhh!!!!

    What is the most common colour blindness clash? Oh yes, green and red. So why the bloody hell must these people insist on having one light that changes colour. As I said above: Aaarrrgghhh!!!!!

    I believe it's something like 8% of men who suffer from some sort of colour blindness problem. It's not even 1% in women - presumably as they all took the precaution to get 2 lots of X chromosomes.

    I sometimes have to resort to going and getting a green thing to hold up against the status light, so I can tell what colout it is. When it would be so much easier to use blue and red, or blue and green. Or, in fact, almost any other possible colour combination you can think of. Even easier - just have two lights.

    In my case it's the result of a different visual impairment anyway. So while I'm on the subject I'd love people to print things a bit bigger so I don't have to carry a magnifying glass around whenever I have to fix something. Because 6pt black writing on a black background is always so easy to decipher...

    My leccy tripped last night, and it was nice to see that someone thinks that 10pt type is the appropriate size to put on a box that's going 7 foot high in a dark cupboard - and may well be viewed by torchlight. Thanks for that one guys!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why fucking green and fucking orange Arrrggghhh!!!!

      I can fix this for you.

      First of all monocles are available again - small and convenient. My grandfather had one, in addition to his loupe, for watch repairing. 2.5 dioptre, convenient working distance.

      Second, the red/green thing is easily fixed. All you need is a small piece of red transparent material, such as a bit off a broken red brake light cover . View the light through it. If it goes very dark then it is green. Drill a hole in it, put it on your monocle cord, job done.

      The reason, of course, that red and blue wasn't used is that for many years blue LEDs weren't available. But also, due to the randomness of evolution, our eyes have two different colour encoding systems (if God is an intelligent designer, she failed value engineering). The four sensors in the retina (roughly R G B and blue-sensitive rods) are encoded into red/minus green and blue/minus yellow channels. Therefore if you have normal colour vision, the red/green or yellow/blue alternatives are more distinguishable.

      1. Peter Simpson 1
        Happy

        Re: Why fucking green and fucking orange Arrrggghhh!!!!

        LED Red/Green/Yellow all look about the same to me. I can often pick out the red, but the yellow and yellowish-green (I'm OK with "traffic light green") are a problem.

        Yes, I'm color blind. I'm also an electrical engineer and I design embedded systems. I always try to use discrete LEDs instead of multi-color ones for this exact reason. Hope it helps someone.

      2. Mr Dogshit

        Re: Why fucking green and fucking orange Arrrggghhh!!!!

        I had a telly once with a power off indicator. The LED was on to tell you the TV was off.

    2. PNGuinn
      Flame

      Re: "Even easier - just have two lights"

      Labelled in black on a black front panel which light up black......

      Still wouldn't help some people.

      Really, though, these multicolour general purpose indicators carefully placed either to be completely out of sight or glaring in my face are NOT A GOOD IDEA (TM).

      Ergonomics? Set traps for 'em, Or put poison down.

      What's wrong with soddin' common sense??

      Hello? anyone in "Design" sober enough to turn off the whalesong, put down the splif, snuff out the joss sticks and think for a change?

      /Rant

    3. Streaker
      Coat

      Re: Why fucking green and fucking orange Arrrggghhh!!!!

      "‘It’s the wild colour scheme that freaks me out,’ said Zaphod, whose love affair with the ship had lasted almost three minutes into the flight. 'Every time you try and operate these weird black controls that are labeled in black on a black background, a little black light lights up in black to let you know you’ve done it.’"

    4. Terry 6 Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Why fucking green and fucking orange Arrrggghhh!!!!

      Pale green and pale orange. And tiny. And dim. And half hidden.

      Comes out of the same school of PC design that put USB sockets and serial numbers at the back, camouflages switches under the trim and CD drive buttons that are so recessed you can't press them.

      1. The First Dave

        Re: Why fucking green and fucking orange Arrrggghhh!!!!

        I'd rather have dim LED's than the ultra-bright, laser-loud blue ones that seem to be used these days on so many devices. For example the DVD player that sits close to my telly, and had to be covered with duct tape to avoid burning out everyone's eyes, even in a normally lit room, never mind 'cinema lighting' levels.

      2. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Why fucking green and fucking orange Arrrggghhh!!!!

        I'm fairly sure that a lot of final design decisions are made because the CEO's wife/girlfriend/child/cat/enema nurse likes it like that. So many products reach the shops with such illogical features.

      3. Colin 27

        Re: Why fucking green and fucking orange Arrrggghhh!!!!

        :)

        Then again (being a little old-school), I remember the days when reboot switches stuck out of the front of consoles.

        Never forgot the day one of the senior ops caught the switch with the sleeve of his suit jacket and bounced an ICL2972. It was down for 2 days before they could get that beast back up again.

        Or the time on an ICL3930 someone managed to toggle the disks to read-only (again a toggle switch that stuck up on the front panel).

        And its not only computers - I also remember my boss hitting the emergency stop button on the extremely large aircon unit at the back of the machine room - and then we couldn't get it going again. Sprung loaded twist-to-release button (cleverly made to look like anything but).

        Intelligent design for uni-intelligent people...

    5. Guus Leeuw

      Re: Why fucking green and fucking orange Arrrggghhh!!!!

      Dear Sir,

      I was taught that two lots of X chromosones cannot produce red/green colourblindness in people, hence women are actually not reg/green colourblind... I would have hung up on that person and would have told to spin her lies elsewhere.

      Blue/yellow for sure, because that's not a sexe-chromosone...

      Just my two cents,

      Guus

      1. Tony Haines

        Re: Why fucking green and fucking orange Arrrggghhh!!!!

        //I was taught that two lots of X chromosones cannot produce red/green colourblindness in people, hence women are actually not reg/green colourblind... //

        Then you were taught wrong. Even thinking about it for a moment would tell you that.

        If someone has a broken version of the gene on each of their two X chromosomes, they won't have a functional one and so will be colourblind.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why fucking green and fucking orange Arrrggghhh!!!!

          The faulty genes responsible for colour blindness are on the X chromosome, not the Y. Women with one faulty X chromosome are not colour blind but can pass it on to sons, women with it on both X chromosomes are colour blind.

          The reason colour blindness even exists is because during the course of evolution, early mammals lost a colour receptor (they were nocturnal and didn't need it). When the big dinosaurs started to have problems, the mammals evolved to fill some of the ecological niches - which included diurnal ones. The primates re-evolved three colour vision; the red receptors became two variants, one of which was "greener", and the red/blue opposition mechanism which had not vanished, became able to use the two cone types.

          Our colour discrimination is still not as good as that of birds or reptiles. What's more, the variant genes for the green cones only appeared on the X chromosome.

          I also have read, I think, that the degree of separation of the red and green cones is variable depending on the exact genetic makeup of the X chromosome so you can get everything from disagreement over shades of yellow and brown down to canine eyesight.

          When we hold our hands up at some buggy bit of software with odd class reusage, we should remember that nature is just as good or as bad at it as we are and releases stuff into the wild without any proper QA other than "it either works or it doesn't."

      2. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: Why fucking green and fucking orange Arrrggghhh!!!!

        A girl has to inherit colour blindness from both her parents, so it is much less likely to happen.

    6. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: Why fucking green and fucking orange Arrrggghhh!!!!

      And this is why my gaming rig glows iridescent blue (deepest fans behind vents so it's not very garish, sort of like chekhov radiation) no mistake when it's on.

      Though the last time it stopped working the psu popped big style, loud bang and smell of the magic smoke kinda let's you know something wrong.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken
        Pint

        "chekhov radiation" ???

        Isn't that the one used to sterilize tribbles?

        Cool design choice, though. Have an upvote.

  15. Ashton Black

    Gift.

    I got a bottle of good scotch, once, for hacking into a Win XP (stand alone) that he user had forgotten the password for. (Ahhh Hirens, a great CD)

    1. Shades

      Re: Gift.

      Why did you need to "hack" into the XP box? Most installations of XP I've encountered had the "hidden" safemode administrator account password set to "administrator" (if it even has one set at all that is, most often not). Login, remove the other users password, log out. Do it quick enough that the user has absolutely no idea exactly what you did and then enjoy the surprise/shock on their face that you got into their account so quickly... never before has anyone learnt how to erase their browser history as quickly as someone who's just realised their computer isn't as secure as they thought it was.

      1. Andy A

        Re: Gift.

        It's usually an empty password. Just sorted out two of the blighters without having to bother asking the chap who was in charge. Ctrl-Alt-Del twice and type "administrator" in the box.

        At least they had a "user" account which was NOT an admin.

  16. Dan McIntyre

    Colour blind

    Another (severely) colour blind male here, who also can't distinguish between the orange and green light. Lost count of how many times I've had to tell people I can't tell what colour something is.

    1. Chris Tierney

      Re: Colour blind

      Dan,

      There might be a cure for you depending on the type of colour blindness that affects you.

      Take a look

      http://enchroma.com/

    2. magickmark
      Angel

      Re: Colour blind

      I once had a friend who was an electrical engineer for a UK sports car manufacturer. Totally colour blind with red/green. When I asked him how he knew which wire was which he said they were different shades of grey!!!

      My favorite happening was going to round to visit one day and he excitedly showed me his new manly redecorated bathroom, thinking it was a blue/green colour, his face was a picture when I gently said "What a wonderful shade of pink". Took a while to convince him I was not joking!!

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Colour blind

        It really annoys me when somebody says "the (insert colour) button" when the buttons have clearly distinguishable non-colour descriptions. How the hell do I know which of the mucky buttons on this chip'n'pin terminal that millions of grubby hands have mauled is the "green" button? They're all mucky brown. But there's one and exactly one "enter" button, or "bottom right" button if the "enter" legend has rubbed off along with the colouring.

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Colour blind

          I have a TV box with one of the buttons labelled "Timer".

          It doesn't have a timer. The button actually un-changes channel, to the channel you were previously watching. Which is good to know.

          The message may be that colours are more easily translated to another language, than technical words. Although perhaps if that's a challenge then it is one better left unaddressed..

  17. 0laf Silver badge

    Had a teacher once screaming at me once that her printer was broken, utterly unacceptable, condemning children to life of drudgery etc. Turned up to find it was out of paper.

    Regularly get Councillors and executives demanding (and getting) security rules bent and broken to suit them, whole systems put in to serve their specific personal purposes (£10k spent used by 3 Councillors) and regular demands for new toys (usually Apple themed which don't work on the network).

    They along with teachers for some reason are unable to resist the BS peddled by snake-oil salesmen.

    1. Peter Simpson 1
      Happy

      Identify the kid with the abillity and allow them to help you to diagnose & repair the printer. That kid will go on to greatness.

      The remainder of the class will work in cubicles.

      1. Shades

        "Identify the kid with the abillity and allow them to help you"

        Sadly not everyone thinks like that,

        One of my jobs, when I was younger, was working in a warehouse. Once they found out I was bit of a nerd and could touch type I promptly got stuck on the dispatch desk, typing out the delivery addresses into, what I presume was, a terminal for the delivery company which also printed out the dispatch labels on a proper old fashioned dot matrix hole fed printer.

        The labels had a habit of coming unstuck from their backing and sticking to the roller inside the printer, which if caught early enough, could easily be peeled off, occasionally though they'd completely jam the printer, especially if printing off multiple labels for multiple boxes to be delivered to the same address.

        One time it happened, instead of waiting three hours for a "tech" to come from our other unit 100 yards away - and watch the backlog of boxes pile up and up - I decided to grab a screw driver, unplug the printer, lift the lid, unscrew the two screws that held the roller in place, scrape the roller clean and put the printer back together. Total time: 5 minutes. Never before had I had such a bollocking! Apparently it was better to wait three hours for a lazy sodding "tech" to get his arse in gear and thus let deliveries that customers had paid for next day delivery be delivered the day after, than for me to fix, in 5 minutes, a "dangerous" piece of equipment.

  18. Danhalen

    Back in my technician days I once had a happy customer gift me a selection of fine ales from Waitrose - genuinely one of the nicest gifts I've ever recieved

  19. jake Silver badge

    Palo Alto to Halfmoon Bay. 1AM.

    Executard's genset didn't work in a power failure. Executard completely impervious to answering questions intelligently.

    Drove the Taurus SHO. ~40 minutes, ish (don't try this at home, unless you know those roads).

    Discovered that said executard had managed to actually fire up the genset, but didn't figure out the simple transfer switch

    ::insert much swearing on my part::

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Palo Alto to Halfmoon Bay. 1AM.

      I humbly confess that I don't understand this story.

      1. smilr

        Re: Palo Alto to Halfmoon Bay. 1AM.

        Let me see if I can translate:

        Our hero service tech is called up at around 1 am by an Executive level employee who is suffering a power outage. The executive's problem is that the site in Halfmoon Bay California is without power, and their backup generator isn't working right. Sadly, the executive can't manage to communicate well over the phone, so our hero has no chance of figuring out what is wrong by asking the executive questions, much less succeed in having the executive actually do anything to fix this.

        So our hero drives his Ford Taurus with the better than average 'SHO' engine from Palo Alto to Halfmoon Bay at 1 am. The road between these places is very twisty on hilly terrain, so making the trip in only 40 minutes in the dark is not advisable for those who are not familiar with the roads.

        Upon arriving at the job site, our hero finds that the executive HAD managed to get the generator running, but did NOT figure out how to operate the switch which swaps the building between external power and internal generator power. Nothing was broken. Flip this one last transfer switch and the problem was solved.

        Our hero was very angry and verbally expressed his displeasure at having to drive a dangerous road very fast at 1 am because an executive level employee both could not figure out a big honking huge obvious AC transfer switch, and also lacked the communication skills that would have allowed our hero to walk them through the fix over the phone.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Palo Alto to Halfmoon Bay. 1AM.

          The site in Halfmoon Bay was the executard's home. He was legless on arrival.

          I'm no hero, just a conslutant.

  20. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Fibbles
        Trollface

        Re: There was a better gift she could have offered

        So long as the males also have to offer the same courtesy there's no problem. It'd certainly cut down on the number of needless callouts.

  21. GlenP Silver badge

    Power & Pressies

    Couple from my helldesk days:

    The use who phoned in a panic at around 16:30 asking how to turn her computer off (back in the days when they had proper switches). I asked if she'd turned it on that morning, and suggested using the same button. Reply, "I know that, but I've forgotten since then!"

    There was one who insisted that the computer was dead, I specifically asked her to make sure the socket was switched on, and to unplug and replug the power lead (that Apricot was notorious for loose sockets). She said she'd done all that so I finally called an engineer, they did get a bill for pushing the power lead back in.

    A similar one was someone claiming the software was faulty. It was clear it was a database crash which only ever occurred if the computer was powered off without shutting down. She was adamant it hadn't been but I arranged for her to get the data back to us for a rebuild (on floppy of course). A couple of hours later she phoned back and said her boss had just sheepishly admitted to knocking the power lead out but had pushed it back in and hoped no one would notice.

    Only real presents I've had have been from friends, one used to give me a bottle of Scotch every C*******s to secure my help for another year and I've had quite a lot of beers in exchange for advice over the years.

    Glen

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Power & Pressies

      "C*******s"?

      Cuntsmas?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can top that

    A decade ago or so I got a call from a fast food restaurant some 500+ km away. 20 minutes of trying to resolve why a PC didn't have network access but no success. The computer wasn't critical for the business at all, but the restaurant manager still requested me to come there instead of trying to resolve this on the phone. I quickly calculated that just the travel costs would creep way over €1000 but that didn't matter to her.

    At the site it took 5 minutes to find out that the patch cable in the comms room cabinet for that particular wall socket had been removed. Now, there were other technicians installing equipment in the same room for some other business in the building, but I didn't bother asking them about it. I told the manager what was the cause and left the building. Took about 12 hours in total for the 1000km round trip.

  23. John 110

    Worst "gift" eva...

    After spending 2 days disinfecting a PC that had every malware in existence (and the only copies of the guys baby pictures (his babies, not someone else's) so just blowing away and reinstalling was not an option), the next week he presented me with the PC back, along with a new cargo of parasites...

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Worst "gift" eva...

      OTOH I once did a similar job for someone who'd by then bought a new laptop anyway. I got to keep the old one (which was nearly new anyway) for the sake of sorting it out. Only took a day to flatten and rebuild.

  24. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    Professors eh? What are they like?...

    ... One Saturday morning the PC of a professor at a Russel Group university appeared at my house. 'It won't go". Plugged it in, switched it on, BIOS problem, motherboard battery is dead. Replace battery, boot up, desktop appears (no password required of course!) MASSIVELY slow. Solution, deinstall, all but one of the six antivirus programmes. Fixed.

  25. John 110

    Phone support...

    "I've pressed the button on the screen but the PC still isn't on"

    "See the big silver DELL...."

    "I've pressed that, nuthin happened"

    "...there's a wee black button below that..."

    "wait till I get my specs"

    "...press that"

    "Oh, that worked....what's the password?..."

    "for f......."

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Phone support...

      Oh God. Don't mention the P word!

      My Mum hands me her Macbook because the printer won't work. OK, what's your password? What password? The one for the laptop? What one for the laptop? Try guessing the three other passwords of hers I already know from fixing her email/phone/whatever - which she also always forgets the password to.

      I once spent half an hour on the phone to various BT 1st line support staff who simply wouldn't deviate from their damned script - setting up a friend's Dad with a WiFi router, back before they came free with broadband. BT had managed to set up his account without an email, so I couldn't reset it - and he'd lost the paperwork - and their indian call centre staff either couldn't or wouldn't understand the problem, and kept trying to get me to reboot the PC with that horrible USB router. In the end I gave up and found some dodgy software online that unhashed the password in XP - I hope XP protected other passwords better...

      Still I was given a couple of bottles of wine. Which was nice. Then I was rather embarrassed by a knock on the door a few days later, and I got a delivery of a 15 bottle case from the local wine merchant. It was quite nice stuff, so they probably spent as much (or more) on me as paying someone. And I was perfectly happy to do it for the original contracted price of a cuppa and bacon sarnie while I worked.

      1. Flatpackhamster

        Re: Phone support...

        I encourage all of my customers to have a password book these days. I tell them to write all their passwords in it. "Nobody's going to break in to your house to steal your passwords" I tell them. "Burglars are after iPads and jewellery and cash. If someone is breaking in to your house to steal your passwords, they're from the intelligence agencies, and you have far more serious problems than I can help you with".

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rewards...

    I once had to fly out to South Africa in the Apartheid era at very short notice on a Thursday to fix a problem with some equipment in a factory*. I was on site so long I didn't get back to the hotel till Saturday night. On Sunday morning the grateful client turned up at breakfast time, and proceeded to take me out to a country club where we spent most of Sunday. Then they offered me a job...diplomatically I explained that my family is sufficiently Indian that this would present severe problems.

    I remember this trip as well because on that Sunday I got talking to someone who asked me how bad things were in England, When I expressed surprise I discovered that the South African television was giving the impression that the IRA was bombing the country rather like the Germans did in WW2. I explained that southeast England was rather a long way from Belfast, but I got the impression I wasn't believed. I guessed this was an attempt to dissuade anybody with a British passport from leaving the country, but perhaps he was just paranoid.

    *It was a genuine major problem, not the time I went out to Detroit at a day's notice to, as it turned out, change a lightbulb. A bulb that you could get from Radio Shack, which is in fact where I got the replacement.

  27. Alien8n

    Colour blindness

    I've worked with 2 people who are colour blind. The first was the assistant factory manager who was given the job of choosing a green anti-static bag so the operators could quickly tell the engineering batches from the standard production batches (amazing how many operators would completely miss the big "CALL ENGINEERING BEFORE PROCESSING" stickers if they were in the same colour bags. After 2 hours he finally says "I'm probably not the best person to be doing this, I'm colour blind".

    The second one was one of the engineering managers at a site where we upgraded to PROMIS (the engineering version being terminal access). I had to create a blue/yellow colour scheme for his terminal as the standard colours for the terminal shortcut keys were red and green. I also completely redesigned the alert graphics for the production GUI as PROMIS is primarily a waferfab system and green/amber/red warning graphics don't work too well in orange lighting (it's pretty much only used for wafer fabs, and all waferfabs that I know of have at least one room that has orange lighting in which begs the question what drugs were the GUI designers on when they created it)

  28. dgc03052

    Trip across the pond

    I got flown from the states to Germany to check the version number of video card firmware, and install the update. Back in the day when 1280x1024 was high end CAD workstations...

    That was after a couple days of back and forth making "sure" they already had it.

    Of course, I had another trip where my largest suitcase contained a server, padded with some clothes, so I could run tests.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was being replaced...

    ... by 'local school district IT people' at a satellite school and was given a pallet of 9 Dell Optiplexs w/Windows 7 Pro licenses a few years ago. $profit$

    They liked me - I still get mournful calls here and there with network issues, but nothing I can do anymore. Tis not allowed per IT staff.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I was being replaced...

      That reminds me of some time in high school. I was sent to an alternative high school for students with learning disabilities and attitude problems, for reasons which I maintain to this day are unfair and unjust, but also that's why AC.

      Anyway, I was in the most normal group (again, unfair and unjust, I had neither learning disabilities nor a problem with authority; my peers, on the other hand, I had many problems with, which is why I question their decision to segregate me with the most violent of them,) and the student body could be somewhat wild. For a time we had free reign on un-locked-down PCs, which we were, surprisingly, mostly good with, since we knew that blatantly looking up porn would get us smacked down.

      Eventually, the bubble burst for entirely unrelated reasons; one of our teachers, whom I'm to this day convinced was an undercover narcotics officer and not primarily a schoolteacher, was showing us a true classic of American cinema - Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles.

      Now, all of us were in the 17-18 range, most of us swore like Longshoremen, and all of us understood the difference between actually swearing at someone, or using real vitriol, and mockery of those who do so. Anyway, we got to the "[town's] brand new... nigger." part, and in walks the school's guidance counselor.

      Middle-aged African-American Church-lady. If anybody knows the states, you know the type. Of course the teacher paused the movie, and as most of us had seen it previously, we knew why and kept mum.

      The counselor had NEVER seen Blazing Saddles... And insisted we not stop the movie on her account. The mortification on her face was almost worth the crackdown that ensued... But I digress.

      Anyway, the school went overboard with their political correctness, and this included the euphemistic "IT guy" installing nannyware on our computers. I was irate at this, and complained about it in his presence. He smirked and said there was no way I could find porn now.

      I pointed out that I hadn't, but I bet him my lunch money against his day's wages I could have the nannyware off the computer in ten minutes. He TOOK THE BET, in front of the teacher no less.

      After about four minutes of poking at it, and four more minutes of trying to remove it through add/remove programs, I just browsed to the program directory and ran uninst.bat. It politely sodded off.

      No, the jackass didn't pay me the money, but he did leave in rather an annoyed huff when I brought up the playboy frontpage and shrugged at him.

      It's not always the "tech guy" who's the smart one. Usually. But not always.

  30. NXM

    I can beat all of these on distance grounds.

    About 10 years ago I designed a lighting circuit for a company, which involved an infra-red light beam and detectors with lenses on each. It worked really well, considering it was made out of really cheap components, and I sent working samples plus all the PCB designs and diagrams off to the Chinese production company. A few weeks later they told me it wasn't working. I said it was, just look at the samples, but over and over again they told me it wasn't working.

    So I interrupted a holiday to fly out all the way to Shenzhen, China, via Hong Kong and a 3 hour works bus ride to the factory. I said, show me what it is that doesn't work. They gave me their version of the board, which they'd decided to design themselves from my circuit diagram. Bearing in mind the light beam was supposed to hit the user's hand and be detected by the phototransitor, and they'd put them in different positions so the beam wouldn't even get through the lens, never mind never hitting the detector, it wasn't suprising it didn't work.

    I put their version down, asked them to find my sample, and told them to make that. Job done.

    I charged triple time for the entirety of the excursion.

  31. cs94njw

    Depends on the type of "party" ;)

  32. ElectricFox
    Angel

    PRINTERS ARE EVIL!

    My mother-in-law had a wireless printer that failed to print every month. Her work-around was to re-install the software each time she wanted to use it. Turned out the software simply allocated a static IP address to the printer when it installed. She turns the printer off for a few weeks, and it is allocated a different IP address when she then turns it back on to print. I'm sure there's a nifty driver/software solution, but I just reserved a static IP address to the MAC in the router. That way, it should work with any other devices that she wants to use it with in the future.

    I didn't want any reward, as harmony with the in-laws is priceless!

  33. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Back when ATX PSUs, Win95 etc were new I was just leaving the client's premises for the night & got waylaid by the MD - or maybe he was just the FD back then. His PC wouldn't shut down either by software or the power-button-that's-not-not-really-a-power-button-but-just-sends-an-interrupt-to-the-motherboard-if-it's-listening. That sort of thing happened back then. Windows PCs weren't really my thing except that Windows was good for lots of Telnet sessions to the Unix box. But I wandered over to take a look. As he said, it wouldn't shut down from the button or anything else and you can't do "shutdown -g0 -i0 -y" on Windows. So I just leaned over & unplugged the mains from the back. Cue a silent "why didn't I think of that?" expression.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      You can, but the parameters are different - https://technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/library/bb491003.aspx

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IBM Netfinity

    Many years ago I worked for a company in Leeds that was involved in an EU funded project to put learning centres into small businesses and government offices in SE Scotland. These generally consisted of an entry level spec IBM Netfinity tower server and some client PCs. When you plugged a Netfinity in, it would spin the fans and light up for a few seconds before going quiet again. To switch it on, you had to press the On button on top of it.

    We got a call from one of the sites saying that their server wouldn't turn on. They described the symptoms as that it would come on for a few seconds and then go off. After stating that this was normal power on behaviour and asking in multiple different ways "have you actually pressed the On button?" the client started to get a bit peeved and asked if I was doubting their intelligence. My answer was diplomatic.

    The upshot was that I was dispatched to drive up to Edinburgh to have a look at the server (no remote access boards in these things). Sure enough, I just needed to switch the bloody thing on.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: IBM Netfinity

      "When you plugged a Netfinity in, it would spin the fans and light up for a few seconds before going quiet again."

      A large site started on a round of desktop upgrades and the new PCs were Intel DQ35(??) based motherboards which had the same symptom. This coincided nicely with a recent program of reminding users to always power off at the wall any unused devices. Naturally enough, powering on the PC at the wall would bring it to life just long enough for the POST to look at the BIOS setting for what it should do after a power "failure". In line with Energy Star and other power saving measures, the BIOS is set by default to "Stay Off" after as power "failure", which is what the system thinks has happened if you turn it off at the wall.

      Cue large numbers of "fault" calls....

  35. daveinch

    Cake

    I've had £50 worth of frozen gateaux after installing a companies new phones!

  36. CanadianMacFan

    Managers and email attachments

    This was in 2005 so I don't remember what virus was going around then but the department had sent a warning about it. One morning my manager's boss dropped by. Nothing unusual in that because he worked nearby and our group got along well with him. There were only two of us in as it was still fairly early and he says, "Uh, can I ask you guys something?"

    We both say, "Sure," and are wondering what's up.

    The unnamed (for his protection) manager goes on to say, "You know that virus that's going around? I think I got it in my email."

    "No problem. Just delete the message and you'll be fine," I replied.

    The manager replies, "Well I double clicked on the attachment."

    My co-worker and I quickly look at each other, suppress a laugh, and he gets up to help the manager while I return to my deployments to production. On the way to the manager's office I hear my co-worker say, "The first thing we'll do is unplug your computer from the network and then we'll call the help-desk."

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