back to article Welcome to my world of The Unexplained – yes, you're welcome to it

I'm getting funny dreams again. Either that or I have stepped into one of Arthur C Clarke's episodes of Mysterious World of The Unexplained albeit without the Sri Lankan foliage and Eric Morecambe glasses. Inexplicable things have been occurring around me this week. In other circumstances, this might be fun. With the grim …

  1. Filippo

    Movable GUIs...

    ...like everything else, have their target audience. That is not "everyone".

  2. GregC

    Sounds familiar

    I gently ask my trainee to click on a menu. In response, she clicks her mouse frantically 279 times on random things all over the place before grabbing the title bar of her one remaining document window and dragging it four fifths of the way down her screen. Only then does she click on the menu I suggested.

    I only have to do training a couple of times a year these days, but I always seem to get one of these people. Maybe I did something wrong in a previous life.

    That paragraph did have me genuninely laughing out loud.

    1. DropBear

      Re: Sounds familiar

      Some people apparently instantly lose no less than at least one thousand IQ points as soon as anyone steps up behind them (while they're sitting at a computer) attempting to accommodate a request to enlighten them. Clicking absolutely everywhere completely randomly for some unexplainable reason, as depicted, seems to be one of the symptoms of this, almost as if it were some form of "padding action" of a thoroughly paralyzed and blanked-out brain, similar to people making "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah" sounds between words while they have no idea what to say just to avoid shutting the hell up*.

      *some of the lowliest scum actually do that on purpose just to "hog the channel" at all times trying to subdue everyone in the group, making sure nobody gets to speak their mind except them in a "conversation".

    2. Rol Silver badge

      Re: Sounds familiar

      "Hello and welcome to your personalised Excel tutorial. My name is Rol and I'll be guiding you through the next few hours to better understand the huge potential of this program"

      "Excuse me"

      "Yes"

      "Err... you said personalised, but there are twenty of us, how do you intend to achieve that?"

      Click, click click

      "I was just about to get to that. The course fees have been set to reflect the training of absolute knuckleheads, which I'm sure you're not, and so by the end of the session, those of you who have, by my judgement, breezed through this, will be getting a £50 cash refund"

      "Excellent. that £50 will come in handy"

      "£45"

      "You said £50"

      click click click

      "Yes I did, but you're down to £40 so far"

      "What?"

      click click click

      "£35"

    3. stu 4

      Re: Sounds familiar

      I too, do a few training course a year... any more and I think I'd go postal.

      Some highlights from the last one - student is a 'sys admin' for a company. very 'windoze' focused. This product was on Linux.

      Firstly again and again issues with him typing commands in the wrong case, and then after it being explained to him that linux is case sensitive moaning and complaining.. only to do exactly the same thing about 20 minutes later...

      Vi... oh christ.... it took 30 minutes to walk him through editing one line into a file... no.. press I.. now type the line... no you didn't press I... no you need to start again.. press ESC ! x... ESC - it's the top left... no don't hold it down.. just press it once, press ! then x.. ok now lets start again....aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh

      but the best were these 2 gems:

      ok, you are on the command line. type ls -al

      ok what do you see ?

      nothing

      you did ls -al.

      yes.

      in lower case.

      yes

      ....did you press return ?

      no.. you didn't tell me to...

      aaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh

      But the best one... was setting up a linux VM:

      I was on a mac, he was on a windoze box. I took everyone through all the setting the static IPs up, etc - I told them DO NOT COPY MY IP on the projector, use the one your own PC has given the VM (and walked them through ifconfig).

      2 painful hours of setup later, this bod isn't working... turns out he DID copy my IP ranges (172.* instead of 192.* on windows)... then of course, being the 'one eyed man' and this being a windows things... tried to changed vmware player to support the new ranges, and fucked everything right up - nothing worked.

      We were in a classroom with clean PCs, so I figured the best thing rather than spending hours trying to work out how he'd broke this one, was just to do it again properly.

      "OK, it's all screwed up, just go to the PC on the next desk and do that task over again"

      I got on with the rest of the class.

      An hour later, I checked on him - how you getting on ? is it working now ?

      no... same problem.

      same.. how ? I mean.. oh ASFASFASS#@$%%@#^%@#^%%%!!!

      yup.. he has indeed did the task over again... again using my IP address, again hacking the fuck out of vmware to try and get it to work.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "This means it'll be precisely as reliable as the cheap one he's replacing."

    Ah - but was that the root cause?

    I sold my old car after 13 years to a dealer. Several years later a knock at the door announced a subsequent owner who was having trouble with a flat battery. Being a helpful sort - and it was nice to see my car still going - I took a look under the bonnet. I did point out that doing car maintenance outside on a freezing winter's day was one reason I had stopped owning a car.

    The problem was quickly diagnosed. Someone had replaced the alternator with the wrong type. I had refitted the vehicle with a blocking diode dual battery system that required an alternator to sense the voltage at the battery terminal.

    I asked him if he had looked at my circuit diagram that I had added to the car's workshop manual. He said he hadn't had that manual passed on to him when he bought the car. I doubt if the boot still contained the super strong wheel brace either - that had proved to only way to change tyres without a garage's tools.

    1. DropBear

      At least was she hot...? Otherwise I can think of quite a few candid words I'd use in a similar situation on a request for assistance with a vehicle I long since no longer own - "oh wait, you're serious - let me laugh even harder" being the absolute mildest of them.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      What ?

      "I sold my old car after 13 years to a dealer. Several years later a knock at the door announced a subsequent owner . . ."

      So, you sold your car to a professional, who then sold it to a customer and told him/her who you were ?

      Isn't that grounds for a lawsuit for breach of trust and violation of privacy ?

      1. GingerOne

        Re: What ?

        "So, you sold your car to a professional, who then sold it to a customer and told him/her who you were ?

        Isn't that grounds for a lawsuit for breach of trust and violation of privacy ?"

        Wouldn't they just get it from the V5 logbook?

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: What ?

        It should be but there are ways to find previous owners of a vehicle and also maintenance issues, insurance claims, etc.

        And yes, any idiot who showed up at my door like that would be laughed off the premises.

  4. TRT Silver badge

    My colleague has just returned from Excel training...

    And wants to use the fantastic features he's been told about. But he can't find any of them on his desktop. He produces his training manual. Excel 2013 on a Windows 8 machine - one version behind the official company build, which is odd seeing as though the course was delivered by a company trainer in a company learning suite.

    "Where's the view panel in the ribbon?"

    "You don't have one. Use the view menu instead."

    "But I want it to be the same as my manual..."

    "You have a Mac running Office 2010. The functions are all there, but they will be in slightly different places."

    "But why isn't it the same as my training manual?"

    "Because you are using a Mac with Office 2010. This is for a Windows 8 PC running Office 2013."

    "Oh, Ok. But look at this... I can see all the formulae at once if I just... Where's the alt-key? And where's that key with the little bar with a tail at the right hand end?"

    "You're using a Mac. The keyboard has subtle differences."

    "But I want it to be like it is in my training manual."

    "You're 57 years old. You have a PhD. You have been using a Mac for over 10 years. You have been using Excel for over 10 years. Why did you want to go on a training course to learn how to use Excel?"

    "I didn't think I knew enough to be getting the best out of Excel."

    "You are currently getting no use out of Excel. You've come back in a worse state than when you went. All the basic ideas and concepts you've learned these last two days are valid. The options are there, but they might be in a slightly different place."

    "Why isn't it the same though?"

    "Bec... Oh FFS. Here, have a PC."

    "I don't want a PC. I like my Mac."

    etc etc etc until I was rescued by someone who had managed to remove some wires from the spaghetti explosion behind the videoconferencing unit. Again. And bending over upside down with a torch clamped in my mouth, straining my weakened back muscles and compressing my lunch-filled stomach, whilst reaching into the electronic equivalents of the intestines is far, far preferable to trying to explain why some people shouldn't go on training courses.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: My colleague has just returned from Excel training...

      He just went on the wrong training course. He should have gone on the one to train him how to choose the right training course.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: My colleague has just returned from Excel training...

        As long as that one begins with "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing..."

        Unfortunately both of the above sound all too familiar. It's probably karma or something.

    2. DropBear

      Re: My colleague has just returned from Excel training...

      One must not mistake "make the real word fit my mental image of it, serf! Immediately!" demands for the innocent-sounding "questions" people try to disguise them as. I don't purport to have a solution to this problem, but it's important to recognize it's not information they're actually asking for, it will not help to answer the question or indeed any number of questions, and they will definitely not adapt to the way things actually work. The only appropriate response to these people is "fuck right the fuck off you entitled fossil" but unfortunately expressing that openly is not actually an option in most cases.

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: My colleague has just returned from Excel training...

      I feel your pain. (Been there, done that, didn't get a t-shirt.)

    4. elDog

      Re: My colleague has just returned from Excel training...

      And only in this one case do I love the Reg's fading off into oblivion of the "rest of the story".

      It perfectly states the mind-numbing changes that have been made to this particular brand of products --- moving menu items, adding candy ribbons, taking over Alt/Cmd sequences, dumbing down everything, forcing "schemes" into gawdful limits.

      I participated in one of these brand focus groups way back when. Of course I am a developer and have a tweakish nature but most of the changes implemented seem to be from a group that only included the 45-55% percentile, a lot of color-blind UI experts, and pseudo-UI-experts that failed optimization of spacial usage tests.

      So much of the wannabe new UI has forced many of us back to that most primal and most effective one: CLI.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There was a time when I bought a second-hand Mini-Moke. It was painted purple with flower stickers - so I had it resprayed to white.

    After a while the orange dynamo light on the dashboard showed it wasn't charging unless you revved hard. Adjusted the regulator settings - but it made no difference ...except the low oil red indicator was then lit and the battery went flat.

    Then the penny dropped. During the respray the garage had removed the speedometer - which contained all the vehicle's primitive instrumentation of two bulbs for "charging" and "oil". When they refitted it they had swapped the bulbs into the wrong holders. The problem had been that the oil needed topping up.

  6. Your alien overlord - fear me

    You can take a trainee to a menu, but you can't make them click it :-)

  7. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Level of trainee

    Sometimes you may have a trainee that can work like an airline pilot and needs to speed through the technical stuff ( I dunno, never had that problem).

    Mostly they will more like fear of flying than airline pilots, techno-phobics, Some of these at least will be on a course in Advanced Office, when they should be on a course for computer basics. And some of those will be there because they are under the cosh. Often for the simple reason that they are terrified of the computer they need to be able to use.

  8. tiggity Silver badge

    LOL at Haerïbutøks

    1. Brennan Young

      If "Haerïbutøks" was a real show, it would be called "Behårede Balder". You're welcome.

  9. BebopWeBop Silver badge
    FAIL

    Dictionary recommended for this man

    "This one is guaranteed for five years!" he gleefully assures me, perking up. Oh whoopy-do. This means it'll be precisely as reliable as the cheap one he's replacing.

    Upon really don't know what the words precisely and reliable mean do you?

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Dictionary recommended for this man

      Is there a book that tells me what "Upon really don't know" means too?

    2. LesB

      Re: Dictionary recommended for this man

      I'm not sure you know what the word "upon" means

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        "Upon"

        I think it's short for "You XXXXXX" where the second word presumably is very rude or possibly a playing piece in chess. Or it's peach-wreck cognition or textile author-connect shoving its bad lady in.

        Either Reg or The Inq used to say very rude things about GroupOn.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The random trainee

    I delivered some training in the past, and sometimes you have to accept that some individuals are simply not suited to the job they are being trained in/applied for.

    In my case the employer put up with described individual for years, despite no clear change in behaviour (no idea why). It ended up being quicker to just do their job and let them have a cup of tea.

    I have though, committed the reverse crime of pointing out inaccuracies in provided course notes too. That is just as frustrating for the trainer..

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: The random trainee

      In our organisation we call such individuals "line managers" (at least in polite company anyway, what we call them under our breath isn't repeatable) and generally try to work around them. It's generally easier than trying to clear up the mess afterwards...

  11. MrT

    Battery box...

    We had a Peugeot 206 1.4LX petrol, third owner, only 3yrs old when it came to us. The battery box is a large item in the engine bay, but it contained a weedy 225CCA (cold cranking amps) battery that occupied about half of volume - it even had a small booster board under it so that the restraining strap was secure.

    When it failed, as all eventually do, I replaced it with a decent brand 650-odd CCA battery normally fitted to the leccy-roofed Coupé-Cabriolet model, which filled the battery box completely. The difference in price was only about £15-20, but the car started immediately and was generally a lot healthier (no charging problems either). It's not always the case that bigger is better, but was right for that engine, just not factory-fit for that exact hard top model.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Battery box...

      third owner, only 3yrs old

      Yeah, a year with one of them is about all most people can tolerate.

      1. MrT

        Re: Battery box...

        Ha! They had a reputation, but this wasn't a bad one - we kept it for another 9 years and 65k-ish miles, but had to scrap it after the rear subframe failed when the car was worth buttons. Shame, because it was a nippy little thing. It still had most of the older 205-style chuckability, which finally got killed off with the lardy 207,

    2. paulf Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Battery box...

      I had a 1999 version of that model 206 1.4LX petrol (second owner). When the battery failed I had no way to get a new battery back from the car parts shop (and wasn't sure it was the battery) so called out Acme Breakdowns to take a look. He fitted a new battery (handily leaving the old one with me). The new one was something like 240CCA replacing the old one with something like 325CCA. Funnily enough from that point it was very reluctant to start cleanly - and I only realised the cause afterwards. My garage had the solution a nearly new 450CCA battery - as with your experience it burst to life promptly when the ignition key was turned from then on.

      As an aside Acme breakdowns refunded the cost of the underspec'd battery which I gave to a family member for use on their boat.

      Joking aside mine was a nice little runner and very few problems in 10 years. I only got rid because the insurance wrote it off after a taxi driver ignored a Give Way sign and drove into it on an icy day.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Batteries

    I have had two batteries go on me - one on a VW Diesel, which suddenly died at the age of 4, and another one on a Prius, also suddenly, not in winter, and at the age of about 4. My two current batteries are coming up to 5 years old and I'm thinking about pre-emptive replacement - perhaps with the spiral wound ones that are supposed to last longer. The thing is, Diesel batteries have to work hard but a Prius battery is just there, presumably, because Toyota thought it was cheaper than a step down converter would be for the main battery, and has almost no work to do other than keep the lights on for a few seconds after you leave the car.

    With the increase in car electronics, you'd think someone would have come up with a better car battery technology by now. Gone are the days when if the battery went on my Citroen all I needed was a determined hand crank and I could get home without it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Batteries

      "Gone are the days when if the battery went on my Citroen all I needed was a determined hand crank and I could get home without it."

      My Range Rover series A had a starting handle. Even with a low compression head it would have taken an unusually strong person to turn it over fast enough to work. A big rugby playing friend tried it once.

      On the other hand the Mini-Moke was easy. You just scooted alongside it in gear until it fired - then hopped in.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Batteries

        "Even with a low compression head it would have taken an unusually strong person to turn it over fast enough to work. "

        That was bad design somewhere.

        I used to work with a guy who was in the African desert in WW2. He and two others were sent out in a truck for some reason, and rather cleverly overnight they left the radio on. Come morning the battery was flat, the Germans were supposed to be somewhere around, and they were very nervous. Well, terrified.

        But they decided to read the manual. It gave precise instructions for starting; when it came to the big about "give a strong swing on the starting handle" he said they actually laughed at the idea of turning over a substantial Diesel engine by hand, not to mention the risk of kickback. But they waited till the sun was up enough to warm things a bit, followed the instructions, the biggest one grasped the handle and gave it a mighty heave - and the engine started at once.

        People start marine engines by hand. If Rover couldn't run to a geared starting handle on a 4 by 4 that might need to be started that way, I think that's a bit feeble.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Batteries

          My late dad's old Lada, about 30 or more years ago had a starting handle. The car itself was of the old Soviet design. Cheap and solid. One or two pushes on that starting handle and it would start.

          There have been a few occasions over the years when I've wished for such an item. Usually while sat in a cold car waiting for the RAC/AA, late for an appointment and needing a wee.

          1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

            Re: Terry 6's dad's old Lada

            "My late dad's old Lada, about 30 or more years ago had a starting handle. The car itself was of the old Soviet design. Cheap and solid. One or two pushes on that starting handle and it would start."

            Technically, old Italian design. The first Lada (the VAZ-2101) was basically a 1966 Fiat 124.

            In 1966, Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli ("L'Avvocato") brokered a deal with the Soviet Union which resulted in Fiat building a car factory in Tolyatti, a planned city named after an Italian communist, installing British machine tools supplied by Herbert-BSA.

            Unfortunately, the deal stipulated that Fiat was compensated with automotive sheet steel made in the USSR - which turned out to be of such poor quality that Fiat and its subsidiaries ran into massive quality issues that nearly killed Fiat. Hence the adage of Fiat cars already rusting while still just a picture in a sales brochure.

            Well, water under the bridge... by now, Agnelli, Fiat and the USSR are gone - Fiat morphed into Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, incorporated in the Netherlands with tax domicile in the UK.

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge
              Unhappy

              Re: Terry 6's dad's old Lada

              And with it the rather useful manual starting handle.

              BTW I think that the Lada, unlike the proper Fiat, compensated by Never mind the Quality Feel the Width. That old Lada was built like a tank.

            2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

              Re: Terry 6's dad's old Lada

              Yes, 2101 was a licensed production of 124. With minor tweaks. First batches produced in 1970 had FIAT insignias stamped all over, even on boltheads. 1972 model I happened to have still contained lots of components manufactured abroad - Italy, Japan, Yugoslavia, Hungary, East Germany come to mind.

              Bodywork had its own story: for first 4 years, huge rolls of sheet steel were shipped to Sweden for post-processing, then shipped back. Without this extra processing it wasn't possible to punch body panels out of the sheet. Corners were way too sharp for that.

              Jimbopedia has differences between 124 and 2101 mostly covered:

              "Compared to the Fiat 124, 800 modifications were made in all,[5] including to rear brakes (discs to drums),[5] suspension (for higher ground clearance), carburettor, and some other parts in order to satisfy a wide range of Russian climate conditions, as well as thicker-gauge steel (so the 2101 weighed 945 kg (2,083 lb), the Fiat 90 kg (200 lb) less[5])"

              "Early models included a crank, in case the battery went flat (an item later dropped) and an auxiliary fuel pump.[5]"

              But this part about the engine is fishy:

              "first variant was equipped with a 1,198 cc (73.1 cu in) engine (a overhead valve design, never used in a Fiat)[5]"

              All Lada engines have single overhead cam (SOHC) layout, not OHV. Whereas Fiat 124 used OHV and DOHC engines throughout their production run. SOHC engines appeared much later on 131.

              1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

                Re: Terry 6's dad's old Lada

                Some pictures of early 2101 specimens:

                vaz2101.ru/forum/viewtopic.php?t=30362

                vaz2101.ru/forum/viewtopic.php?t=31071

    2. Alistair Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Batteries

      Hmmm.

      Just checked the receipt for the battery in the FamilyVan.

      6 years old. 212,000Km.

      not sure which means worse, but perhaps I should consider a new battery....

      (and the VW is 5 years old and .... ick 320,000Km)

      Canada. Innit lurrvely.

      1. 404

        Re: Batteries

        It used to be that as long as the alternator/generator was good, your car would run with a bad battery. Ever since they started putting computer engine/transmission controls in vehicles, your battery has to be the correct size and properly operating, or electrical gremlins will begin to appear throughout the vehicle. Sucks but there you go.

        Optima batteries (spiral wound/dry cell style) aren't as good as they used to be and are more expensive since they moved production to China fyi. A good marine deep cycle battery is now a better purchase.

        1. Conundrum1885 Bronze badge

          Re: Batteries

          Yup, happened to me. Many good card have been needlessly scrapped for want of a decent battery and even Mira themselves (and others) now advise all garages to run a battery check before condemning the ECU.

          In my case the failure was inside the cell at the back, found a huge lesion 2/3 of the way down the battery which had been there probably since manufacture.

          1. John H Woods Silver badge

            Re: Batteries

            My battery is going, so rather than replace it before it is absolutely dead, I bought a RAVPower "car starter" from Amazon. It's a tiny little box, barely bigger than, I dunno, 3 iPads stacked together, in a neat little case. No way is that going to start a 2.0l diesel, I thought, so I charged it up, threw it in the boot and forgot about it. Maybe it'll help my sister in law out when her little 1.0 won't start, and at least I can use it as weekend USB power when away from the mains ...

            Then a friend, who has an older 3.5 V8 Diesel Range Rover, asked me to help her start her car. Left for months, it was totally dead, not even enough juice for the central locking. It was also parked in a corner making it hard to get another vehicle there for a jump start. So, in a talismanic gesture, I whipped out said little box, connected the puny croc clips to the massive battery and did my best to weather the withering storm of contempt, spanning the spectrum from polite skepticism to unrestrained mockery, from the assembled mechanic / farming / military types who inevitably, in a busy rural yard, gather thoughtfully around a very attractive young woman with a non functioning car.

            Honestly, if that little box never works again it was worth the fifty quid just for the reaction from the assembled crowd when the engine roared into life on the first turn of the key.

            1. Dr_N Silver badge

              Re: Batteries

              +1 for a RavPower Li-Ion jumpstarter pack.

              The thing with modern car batteries is that most are sealed and even if they are not, people never check them any more.

              It just takes one of the cells to degrade and it'll keep starting the car until the first cold snap (normally when you are late and need to be somewhere) for it to give up the ghost.

              1. Conundrum1885 Bronze badge

                Re: Batteries

                Had a look at these, inside are essentilly monstrously overpowered (20+C) Li-Po batteries.

                The interesting thing is that some of the better ones use ultracapacitors to absorb the initial current pulse which is *just* enough to overcome inertia and allow the motor to turn.

                I also found that like any Li battery they do degrade over time which is why most new units have an expiry date and a health indicator to advise replacement (similar to smoke alarms)

                Not so much of a problem in the cold weather because self heating from high current normally works well.

            2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

              Re: RAVPower

              550A over these leads? And from a lithium battery? This thing will become dangerous if used for more than 1-2 seconds.

              For a good engine it'll suffice, of course. One guy made a jumpstarter from large capacitors. Worked quite well in extreme cold, but only for a better part of a second.

      2. Mark York 3 Silver badge
        Go

        Re: Batteries

        Had that here in Alberta recently my Avalanches old battery couldn't cut the mustard first thing on a cold morning (its not called Cold Crank Amperage for nothing). A very nice man from AMA dropped in a new one for an additional $20 (Unlike Crappy Tire who wanted $200), which saved me the hassle of doing it myself.

        I used to have a TR7 back in Blighty that continually needed jump starts, after various batteries\alternators a humping great battery used on Volvos (about twice the CCA IIRC) just about fitted (it over hung) into the battery bay, main reason being the starter motor harness cabling had developed a impedance & there was a voltage drop across the harness from the battery to the starter motor, that was giving the "flat battery" symptoms.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Batteries

      The best thing I've ever done - and putting some IT back into the subject - was to buy for my own home an UPS with 24V connectors for external battery packs.

      This uninterruptible power supply, curiously, accepted up to 80Ah batteries on the charger, unusually large batteries for a 1500VA affair. In short, a tiny UPS with a current limiter on the charger sized for 80Ah batts, that could be heard humming from the next room. I could use a truck battery and half-inch thick grade cables if I wanted.

      Being 80Ah its limit, I could, in theory, put 2 x 12V automotive batteries in series and this sucker would keep my server running for some 8 hours without a hiccup. I did exactly that with 2 x 60Ah batts, and it worked ever since (remember, they are in series, so each one provides 12V while the charge is limited to the smallest one before a voltage drop-out, so they should have the same capacity).

      The first set of batteries lasted 10 years, which I promptly replaced for another set that would last me to this day.

      The best part of having this setup? I helped friends and neighbours to start their cars countless times, just removing one of the batteries with the terminals and everything, and taking it to the battery-stricken vehicle. Having 2 batteries in a row also allowed a quick comparison of the voltage between them and the voltage of the stricken battery: they should have, at all times, the same voltage and the same behaviour upon disconnecting from the UPS charger. Defective batteries would simply drop the voltage after unplugged.

      In one particular occasion, my own father's battery went pear-shaped, so I was mostly happy to donate one of the batteries to its original purpose.

      Now, about the hand crank: I've seen large generators being started with compressed air instead of a hand crank. They simply keep a compressor and a reservoir topped up on the premises, (along with an oil heater). If the power supply goes sideways, this thing can start a ship-sized 5MW generator in 10 seconds. I suppose we could have something similar for small vehicles... some form of air reservoir, for cold weather places, or a plug that could accept compressed air from an external source...

  13. chivo243 Silver badge
    Boffin

    Not dead, Just sleeping

    This is nothing new. I lived near Chicago, and some mornings my car wouldn't hardly crank over once... then nothing.

    Two things could fix the issue:

    1. Turn on the headlights for a minute, get some 'juice' flowing through the battery.

    2. Wait until the sun came around the house and warmed the hood of the car.

    On the note of training sessions... training groups of people who work at different speeds is worse than herding cats...

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: training groups of people who work at different speeds is worse than herding cats...

      But at least you could have more fun with the laser pointer if you were herding cats.

  14. Floydian Slip
    FAIL

    Racing ahead

    I've delivered a number of training courses and there's always one who pipes up with the phrase "but my screen looks nothing like the one you're showing now". I used to slowly and carefully walk them through the process and, most of the time, it was all OK but a few still had the same complaint.

    It took a while for it to sink in. These were the know-it-all smart arses who thought they knew where I was going and thought it would demonstrate their brilliance by racing ahead so they could finish first.

    Unfortunately they'd left their psychic powers at home and were way off beam and so I'g start sessions with something along the lines of "F**king do as I do and say, and don't go f**king about with your own ideas dipsh*ts" [Not quite the wording but they're the ones that I said in my head]

    However, in the words of the wise and great Murray Walker, "To finish first, first you have to finish"

  15. Potemkine

    B'stard

    If repair man tells you that a battery is guaranteed... don't believe him, he will never recognize it's battery's fault when it will fall you down.

    1. cortland

      Re: B'stard

      Never buy a battery from a sailor; that's (wait for it!) a Salt and battery...

  16. Potemkine

    Regarding Nordic Noirs...

    ... I would suggest having a look to Lilyhammer, which is outstanding IMNSHO

  17. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    There, there, Dabbsy...

    Worse things happen at sea, y'know?

    Anyway, if karma works, you've got some in the bank now.

  18. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Alistair,

    I hope for your sake this is only a one week trip to hell. Some of us put months, nay.. years in that place.

  19. EastFinchleyite

    Hamsters

    Car batteries are like Hamsters. They die.

    One day the furry little bugger is running round its wheel auditioning for the role of Nation's alternative energy source and the next it is stone dead. As with Hamsters, so it is with batteries.

    Perhaps if you had fitted a backup Hamster to the alternator none of this would have happened. That's the problem with you Software types. When something goes wrong its up to us engineers to fix it while at the same time being responsible for the fault in the first place (only five years!).

  20. uncommon_sense
    Thumb Up

    supernatural-cum-crime thrillers..???

    ??????????

    Are you saying she has started bulk downloading alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.comics ?

  21. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    I once read a book called The Naked Island by Russell Braddon. The latter part was a harrowing first-person description of the torture, deprivation, disease and death suffered by Allied servicemen interned in Changi prison by the glorious forces of Nippon during the war.

    Perhaps "a visually arresting Japanese drama" is their way of saying sorry.

  22. Ian 55

    Blue

    I thought that was only available on CD, for obvious reasons...

  23. Anguilla

    Shit VW !!

    I've got a shitty VW Golf - about 5 years old - that eats batteries!!

    Fault at the moment is that, despite the battery is good enough to light the headlamps, just turn the ignition key and bugger all happens, just a "click noise from somewhere around the dashboard.

    If one sit there for a bit (an extendable time) & tries again [several times] the fucking VW will decide that I've waited looong enough, and then starts the engine - till the next time.

    The useless official VW service station in HK fails to find the problem!

    1. arctic_haze

      Re: Shit VW !!

      If it is a diesel VW, it may wrongly assume you are testing the emissions.

  24. cortland

    Hmm

    Lucas, Lucas, LUCAS?

    Ayup; that'd explain it.

    http://www4.ncsu.edu/~mtmorris/index3.html

  25. Brennan Young

    "supernatural-cum-crime"

    ectoplasm, a hacked webcam and one-handed browsing?

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