as-yet undocumented Perl scripts
How dare you sir! Everyone knows that Perl is self-documenting.
Haha, what an idiot! He was clicking like mad and nothing was happening! Of course it wasn't because – haha – he was clicking in the wrong place! He looked utterly baffled! I am regaling my night-shift colleagues with utterly hilarious tales of that afternoon's support calls from the incompetent users in our care. Those …
Perl scripts are ubiquitous, and thus their existence is a priori documented. Even where you're sure there aren't any, they lurk somewhere in the shadows.
Top scientists have theorized that Perl scripts existed before Perl itself, and Larry Wall's Lovecraftian invention simply allowed us to perceive them.
After the laptop left to rot for 6 months because no one else knows how to fix it, yet all being self apointed experts, and telling me "it's so easy, obviously we all know what is wrong, but can you fix it". I offer to, say I'm off for a couple of hours to do so (fair point, most is sitting waiting doing other stuff, but TBF file recovery is not quick)... and they respond "duh, it'll only take a few mins". I fixed that one, but have not offered to do so again.
Their money. Their ego. Their problem.
I can tell my anecdote hit the spot as they are visibly cheering up as I collect my things and don my coat.
I'm pretty sure they were happy as you were leaving. You know what the night shift guys say about the day shift guys... Oh, I see you've never worked the night shift ;-}
The worst item of plug and eat that I have come across was a toasted sandwich maker at a place I visited. It looked as though the last time it was cleaned was coming off the production line. The manager I was dealing with said he had seem people warming up old pizza, putting crisps in it and shuddered to think what else had been warmed up in it.
It was one of those staff room items that would need blokes in white overalls and a forced air helmet to dispose of it.
But now that manufacturers of coffee machines, microwaves et al insist on making them so feature-rich and user-interface-poor that they might as well be considered fully-fledged computers, you can hardly blame civilians for being baffled by them. Especially as the age of the user manual is long past, and the best you can hope for is a "Getting Started" poster which explains everything in nice simple pictures which <sarcasm> everyone in the world can understand by some mysterious intuition which makes traditional word-based explanations obsolete. </sarcasm>
I recently found it harder to teach my nonagenarian dad to use his new microwave than it was to teach him to use the linux laptop I set up for him so he could see his bridge scores on the web.
Oh I do love a grumpy-old-git-rant on a Friday...
Just this morning my neighbour called me round because her *TELEVISION* had crashed.
It kept playing promos for a pay-per-view channel. Using the remote I selected 'input source', there were two options: cable and DVD. I asked: where's your cable box? What cable box? Well, where do you get your TV from? I just press the channel numbers.
Turns out it's one of those TVs with a built-in digital terrestial decoder, but there was no option to select "just plain TV please!" and I had to fumble my way through to find the factory reset option and make it rescan for channels. Only then would it deign to select a 'proper' TV channel.
Never again. Not only is the UI bloody awful and clearly far more complex than the CPU can handle, it takes forever to start up and crashes/freezes several times a day. Using YouTube followed by Netflix seems to have a 90% chance of failure.
Plus it refuses point blank to remember that I have an optical sound system. FFS guys, if I buy a big TV I almost certainly have an amp/receiver.
My next TV will be a dumb panel with absolutely no features whatsoever beyond the appropriate video inputs and maybe colour correction.
And it won't be a Sony.
Before you switch note that in my experience LG 'Smart' TVs are no better. It seems that all smart appliances have 'human machine interfaces' created by creatures that once viewed a documentary about humans; or maybe they missed that day at school and just blagged their way into a job.
That, and the tendency for the 'Smart' to age because you have't yet bought this year's model and support is lagging for the one you do have.
"My next TV will be a dumb panel with absolutely no features whatsoever beyond the appropriate video inputs and maybe colour correction."
Are you sure you'll be able to find one? When I bought mine (admittedly 2015), the options were a "smart" TV with a decent panel, or a "dumb" TV with mediocre-at-best panel. So, I ended up with a "smart" TV that never has the "smart" features being used.
It is usually quicker to reboot than troubleshoot my Sony Android telly (hold down power button on remote). The telly seems able to bring down the whole LAN sometimes. Also, holding down Home for a few seconds takes you into a task switcher that allows you to kill off apps which can also sometimes help responsiveness. The TV tuner app is shocking though. Lucky broadcast telly is less and less important in my household (telly in general is less and less important but obvs I am tech support to wife and children at home)
There is an alcove in the corner which is out of site of the screen --->
that reminds me of the lamest feature of my Sony telly. My house has a DTT aerial and a satellite dish. The telly supports both but if you go into the setup menu and enable the Satellite decoder (which was a little fiddly to do) it disables the ITV PLayer app (no great loss in either content or user experience) but teh real stupidz is that every time someone tries to launch the ITV Player app, it disables the satellite decoder again
The attempts to dejargonify (oops, squiggly red line) computers has a lot to answer for and the car comparison is relevant.
Ask any car driver about the accelerator, brake, clutch (at least on a manual), engine, gearbox or whatever and they'll know what you mean. At some point all these items were new and their names technical and drivers had to be introduced to them. But they just became part of the vocabulary. It was accepted that even f you didn't know exactly how they worked you knew what they were for and what they did. Nobody was unsure as to whether the brake speeded the car up or slowed it down (being able to hit the correct pedal was a different matter).
Somewhere along the line we got to a stage where people who would never dream of challenging the names for the bits of their car was start complaining about jargon when it came to their computer. Obligingly, vendors took to hiding the workings, trying to make everything seamless so that users, who would have coped just as easily with names for the components of their computer as they would with their cars*, now see it as an undifferentiated "thing" which works by magic.
* I will make an exception for my late aunt who must have been well into middle age when she got her car, an ancient Morris 8. She knew that when it appeared to have run out of petrol she needed to open the bonnet and hit a nameless black cylinder with something solid. Readers of a suitable vintage will instantly recognise an SU fuel pump but she didn't need to know that.
My Granddragon knew her Ford Fiasco powered by 1.1 litres of raging death and hatred, had a manual gearbox, but would be flat as a tack and redlined on the motorway at 70 mph because the "car only has 3 gears, like my old Hilman"...
This also explained the terrible fuel & oil consumption and frequent visits to the garage when they could never understand wtf...
My wife had a friend who owned a Metro. SWMBO was incandescent after travelling with said friend because, although it had a five speed gearbox, said friend only ever used four of them, and when admonished, replied "That's the Overdrive, and should only be used on Motorways". She also used to drive across the southern bypass at a constant 35 miles per hour, even though it has a 50 limit.
Our ageing golf went into the workshop and they loaned me a shiny new polo, but the damn thing wouldn't start, flashing up some kind of red warning symbol about a foot pedal.
Little did I suspect that modern cars need you to press the clutch to allow them to start! Embarrassing but understandable...
My new car has one button and no key.
Press it to turn it on
Press it again to start the engine - which doesn't really start because of some electric thing
Press it again to allow you to switch into drive
Press it again to turn off the engine
Press it again to turn off the car
But all these steps take about a second to respond, you only know you have done it because the dash changes and if you press twice within a second it goes to the next step.
It's like trying to get the exact time on a digital watch.
Add in a single multi-way dial knob to control everything else and a menu system designed by an autistic blind person who thought he was trying to configure active directory using only a sendmail config file ....
And why do they label everything in a car with indecipherable icons rather than simple words?
1) icons, once you've learned their meaning, can be recognised quicker than words. At least if they're sufficiently dissimilar.
2) they work across different languages as well as across different manufacturers: the icon for "check gearbox" is the same for Mercedes, Fiat and Renault. Also, I expect the Welsh text version to require a dashboard that's at least three times as wide as a German or French one.
"icons, once you've learned their meaning, can be recognised quicker than words. At least if they're sufficiently dissimilar."
Perhaps I'm wired different, but I can read a word in a split second glance but have to stare at an icon quite a bit longer to parse its meaning, especially if I'm driving a rental car, for example. Which is why when I'm using Windows for example, I always set my taskbar options to "never hide" labels.
One problem is words are universal. If a display in a car says "low tire pressure", I instantly know the meaning. But I might not immediately know what that weird saggy-ass icon with the lines means, especially if every manufacturer decides they should style it a bit different. Of course if the menus/warnings are in a different language, then icons are welcome.
3) Old gits like me with ageing eyes can recognise the shape of icons more quickly than reading the words.
The icon I like is the fuel pump with the little arrow showing which side the filler is on. Another one that would be handy is a massive arrow pointing to wheretf in this hire car is the fuel release tab, particularly as hire cars often come without the instruction book. (Why is that? People nick 'em I suppose.) I digress.
When I was a Ford Apprentice, one of my postings was to Safety department at Dunton Research Facility in Essex. The project involved sticking different sets of symbols onto the switches and other controls of a pre-production 3litre Granada (debadged), and putting a varied cross-section of the local populace through it to record how each set of symbols fared. This was a world wide project, and most car manufacturers took part in it. We had a great time chasing this Granny up and down the Southend Arterial Road (A127) between Dunton and Basildon town centre, where we had been allocated space in the pedestrian precinct. One weekend I was allowed to take the Granny home with me, and I took my parents out to lunch at a local beauty spot (Hainault Forest). When we returned from the pub to the car park, we couldn't see the car because it was completely surrounded by people having a good old look at this strange, badgeless car.
Sorry! Insider joke, we at Ford had derogatory nicknames for all Ford (and some other) products, Ford seemed very adept at giving their models strangely adjustable names. JangleBox (Anglia, especially the "Kicked-In Back Window (KIBW) variety), Crapi (Capri), Transhit (Transit), Concertina (Cortina), Escrote (Escort), Grandma (Granada), Fiasco (Fiesta), F*ckus (Focus), Tortoise (Taunus), CoarseHair (Corsair), etc., We in Apprentice Training had the use of a Mk4 Zodiac, which we always referred to as "The Shed". There was also rumoured to be a successor to the Mondeo, which was to be called the Tuesdeo, but this never saw the light of day.
I asked my neighbour to give my 5 year old automatic Polo a run every week or so when I was on holiday for 2 months (I’m retired). He emailed me to say that there was something seriously wrong as the yellow engine warning light was on and the car wouldn’t start; he hadn’t noticed the "foot on the brake pedal" warning light. I phoned him and told him that the car must be in "Park" and his foot needed to be on the brake pedal, he refused to believe it. Anyway, he went and tried it, and when he came back after successfully starting the car was muttering "bloody stupid German car" (he has a Hyundai). I have a new "run-out" Golf which is the same, but has the added feature of an electric handbrake - So now after starting the car, the handbrake cannot be turned off without applying the footbrake...
He emailed me to say that there was something seriously wrong as the yellow engine warning light was on and the car wouldn’t start; he hadn’t noticed the "foot on the brake pedal" warning light.
I loaned out my 1990 BMW K75 to a fellow motorcyclist who needed transport while his bike was being redone. After a week or so he mentioned seeing a red warning light with a white triangle for the first part of every trip. "Tap the rear brake before you ride off; it's the brake light check".
> but has the added feature of an electric handbrake
Recently hired a Nissan while in Dublin. It was manual but had the electric handbrake. The apartment we rented had an underground parking garage accessed over the pavement so, on exiting, you had to stop on a steep ramp, press the remote to open the gates then give the engine enough beans to pull forward and trigger the brake auto-release but then hit the foot brake a moment later to stop you shooting into a pavement full of people.
An old-fashioned handbrake would have been much easier to use. Hey ho. Progress, of course.
 While I'm on my rant :-) this was a real WTF moment. They remove the old-fashioned handbrake and in the space liberated they put other switches (so they're not saving on wiring or assembly costs) but the handbrake switch is put behind the gear lever, at the foot of the console where I had to stretch to reach it. And if you lent forward a bit too quickly the seatbelt mechanism would lock up. Aaaargh.
It gets worse, I changed to a car with an electric handbrake and not only did I meet the same problem as your ramp but when I tried to do some work on the car I realised how they had made it impossible form home-mechanics. You an only release the handbrake in certain conditions and the main one is that the engine must be running so if you have removed the battery to do some work and need to shift the cara couple of feet you release the handbrake and push it......or not.
That simple mechanical brake system is now replaced by at least 4 sensors, an operating swicth and a motor drive drive for the rear shoes (discs are also an option). If any of those fail the car will only move by pressing the magic 'disconnect' system which then needs a trip on a flatbed to the dealers to reset.
I discovered when putting my car up on ramps that if the door is open, it will let you roll forward a few feet, then unceremoniously slam the parking brake on. The first time it happened I thought I was an idiot and hit the button without realizing it. I understand the merits of this safety feature with all the roll-away crashes and people running themselves over with their own cars, but nowhere in the manual was it documented that it would do this.
I took my Classic Range Rover to a main Land Rover Dealership for its MOT. It failed because "The air suspension is low and not responding", plus four more Fails concerning not having enough clearance between the axles and the bump stops. They sent it home on a trailer as it was considered unroadworthy. I plugged in the diagnostic computer and reset the ECU, whereupon the suspension pumped up and worked perfectly. Although they were supposed to be Land Rover experts, they had neglected to press the Isolator Switch before jacking the car up on a two post lift, so the suspension had dropped out to full rebound, and the ECU had put itself into Limp Home Mode and deflated the air system. I have not taken the RR there again since, and it passed its MOT at a local garage with flying colours.
I couldn't get the damn cabin light to turn on in my Volvo because there was nothing to indicate that you had to PULL the HEADLAMP knob out of the dashboard. I kept fumbing away at the ceiling around the light fitting, as in every other booldy car I've ever been in.
... that SU fuel pump reference did. In my youth (we're talking 50 years past) I had a beloved AH 100-6, the BN6 two-seat variety. The fuel pump (electric) was located directly behind the driver's seat below the trunk. Once could actually feel it go into Atrial Fibrillation when the tank ran dry, giving you about 1/2 mile notice to find a gas (I'm on the wrong side of the pond) station or safe parking spot before the SU carbs ran completely dry.
Yeah, although some of that would have to be downhill. The engine wasn't happy the last quarter mile. I think I did this maybe 2-3 times... but that was in the 70s and my memory ain't what it used to be. Truth be told, it was probably sucking a little gas sloshing around the tank during the first minute or so of 'fibrillation'.
In the 80s a friend's dad fitted a cut-out to the fuel line in his Capri as a safety device (in a country where car-jacking was a possibility). It was based on sound logic that the thieves would be half a mile away when it cut out and therefore unable to immediately turn around and beat the location of the cut-out switch out of you.
"She knew that when it appeared to have run out of petrol she needed to open the bonnet and hit a nameless black cylinder with something solid"
Sounds like the (Sun support approved) mechanism for fixing a Maxtr hard disk that had got stuck n the "head park" position in a Sun Sparcstation4 (aka pizzabox)!
It was wonderful to read that the Choke used to be called the Strangulator. Not that any car has had a manual choke for maybe 40 years?
Probably the Strangulator was used along with the Ignition Advance/Retard lever. I've wondered was that for variable octane of fuel in the days when you might have bought cans of petrol.
I remember a mini-van that had a long stick. If the engine started to falter the driver would use that to tap the fuel pump near the nearside back wheel arch.
I was watching Lucky Jim (1957) the other day, and in the car-chase sequence, Jim pulled some sort of handle from the dashboard too hard that it came out with a length of trailing wire. I think I've learned what it was, but not why. I vaugely remember something about choke for starting the engine from driving lessons in the 1980s, but when I came back to lessons in 2010 there was nothing mentioned, and from memory I'm sure it was a button, not some sort of rope you could pull through the dashboard.
I think I've learned what it was, but not why.
It closes a butterfly valve on the inlet side of the carburettor, making the fuel/air mixture richer which you need on a cold engine. The accelerator adjusts a valve on the outlet side to control the total volume of the mixture into the cylinders, and thus the power the engine will deliver.
In more modern cars (when they still have carburettors, that is) the engine control unit closes and opens the choke as needed.
Ah manual chokes
They could, depending on the temperature require some real skill to use properly.
Typically you also needed to manually adjust carb settings (delving around under the bonnet task) on most cars occasionally (typically an imprecise Summer or Winter mode, but some had more fine grained tuning possible) - such that on a particularly cold and damp June day you might need to click carb onto Winter settingsto make life easier
I really don't miss manual chokes & adjusting carb settings
About a million years ago, I used to occasionally drive an ancient VW microbus from Los Gatos to Santa Cruz California, up and over Highway 17. This is a roughly North/South mountain road, with the summit of ~1800 feet at Patchen Pass. The Bus had a 1.1L (69ci), 24HP (18KW) motor. I had to stop twice on the way up to adjust the carb for "altitude". I tried to drive it to Tahoe once (6,225ft), up Highway 80. After stopping to adjust the carb every ~600ft of altitude, I had to physically change the jetting at Colfax (2,425ft). I finally gave up and turned around at Blue Canyon (4,700 ft).
The owner later put a Mazda 13B into it. Mileage went to hell, but at least it was driveable at altitudes above sea level without dicking around with the carb.
That top bay is a CD reader (slot-in type).
That's unlikely. Impossible even. That machine was on sale in the early 1990s. If there were any CD readers around at that time they'd have been almost as large as the desktop unit itself. No way in hell you could get an internal CD reader in the early 90s.
Sorry, had to attend to something else. That machine is a Compaq DeskPro 386/33 (I actually grabbed that image from this web page). Checking Wikipedia suggests that it went on sale in 1989.
There is no way that top slot is a CD Drive - not in computer that old.
No way in hell you could get an internal CD reader in the early 90s.
The first CD drive that appeared in my system was an LMSI <something>, anno 1991. It was a factory surplus, so must have been in production for a while already. Standard 5.25 HH form factor, caddy loading, although you needed a converter card to be able to hook it up to a SCSI bus (it had a proprietary 16 pin connector).
Yeah, I remember CD caddies. It was probably late 90s before slide in CDs came into existence. From what I remember of those Compaqs the 5.25" disks slid in and kind of clicked into place. Not as forcefully as a 3.5" but a definite click. Then the button caused them to spring out slightly.
It was probably late 90s before slide in CDs came into existence.
Slightly earlier. In 1996 I briefly worked at a small software company, and the system I was given to use had a three-disc CD changer using a multidisc caddy, a Pioneer IIRC. Probably almost like one of the ones in their car audio systems, but of course ever so slightly different The others had plain tray-loading drives.
I had gone from that LMSI half-the-speed-of-molasses drive to a more usable 4x drive using normal caddies by then. Those LMSI caddies consisted of two parts: a C-shaped inner part that actually held the disc, and an outer shell, about half as thick as a conventional caddy. You inserted the caddy into the drive, the mechanism inside unlocked the inner part from the outer, you pulled the outer part out again and you could start reading the CD. Unloading was done by reinserting the shell, the drive mechanism let go of the 'C' which then latched inside the shell, and you pulled them out together. Apparently this saved space inside the drive compared to the normal caddies, allowing it all to be fitted in a 5.25 HH form factor.
IIRC, 1.2 Mb 5.25" floppy drives had a button release as shown in the picture, while the 360 Kb drives had the swivelly locking handle.
Early 5.25"/360k floppy drives nearly all had a lifting flap, like their 8" predecessor.
Almost all later 5.25" drives, including the HD ones, had a rotating lever, with just a few models having a button release.
3.5" drives except Apple's had a button release; the fruity ones had a motorised eject.
"If there were any CD readers around at that time they'd have been almost as large as the desktop unit itself. No way in hell you could get an internal CD reader in the early 90s."
The Sony DiscMan portable CD player (name changed to CD Walkman later) was released in November of 1984, just in time for the Horrordays.
The CD-ROM standard was released in 1985. So was Grolier´s Electronic Encyclopedia.
Microsoft Bookshelf was released in 1987.
My first Pee Cee SCSI CD-ROM drive in a floppy bay was ~1988.
Apple, late to the party as usual, released it's first CD-ROM equipped Mac (the IIvx) in 1992.
I think this shows an example. Pretty sure the top bay is a 5.25" drive and that looks like a button rather than a rotating lever.
It is. Drive made by Chinon, IIRC; it was slightly taller than a 3.5 drive, and hardware design being what it was you couldn't fit one together with a 3.5 drive in a single front bay. Only Compaq cases had the necessary mounting spacing, which also meant that you couldn't fit a standard 5.25 drive without giving up that 3.5 drive (I have one of those in my Pile Of Rare Hardware). TEAC even had a combo 5.25/3.5 that actually did fit in a single standard bay.
Not always. Some of the compaq 5.25 disk drives just had a button.
The Compaq Portable II had 5.25 floppy drives that had a flap similar to a letterbox, as wide as the drive itself, and no button at all. You pushed the disk in, against some spring near the end with the spring latching, then you could shut the flap. Push the flap again to open it, and the disk slid out a bit so you could grab it.
Bezel design together with the case front made it appear the drive was half as high as a standard 5.25 drive, but internally it was just a normal HH drive
 It had a carrying handle.
I'm surprised nobody's mentioned the tape drive ... and not nicely.
Ah yes, the QICtape ones that sat on the floppy interface. And Exabytes weren't referred to as the "Write Many Read Never" drives for no good reason at all.
Using a real tape drive (DC6150) to facilitate sneakernet between work and home worked quite OK though.
In his post-prandium confusion, no doubt brought on by the cheese, he had somehow forgotten that simply looking at a menu and clicking with a mouse was not always enough when the cursor was hovering elsewhere; not even if he stared at it very intently, which is what he had been doing during his demonstration.
I've been working with WIMP interfaces since the mid 80s and I still want a "focus follows intent" setting, rather than the "sloppy focus follows mouse" one I use. Maybe with gaze tracking something near to that will become possible. (Although it will still be useless for the blind and partially sighted.)
I totally agree... but if you push that GUI outside of your own use/personal rig, then I will blame you for creating the next Facebook of horror in design.
Nothing wrong with the right tool for the right job... eye tracking in Elite Dangerous would be fun. Eye tracking on a web browser/OS would be a nightmare.
Arthur the cat,
My reading glasses are 5x magnification and are the same thing that you see surgeons using to do detail work - small telescopes glued to a normal glasses frame.
So focus follows eye detection shouldn't be a problem for me - though of course it would be given that it's such an unusual situation and won't fit the sytem design. Face recognition on phones and tablets can't cope with it either, for obvious reasons.
Although I'm actually happy with focus being where I fucking left it! Rather than messages and/or other programs stealing it halfway through me doing something. I was fixing the office's spare laptop the other day. And when a computer's not been run for a while, everything needs updating. Which is fine. But. Every. Single. Fucking. Piece. Of. Fucking. Software. Demands that you stop. Right now! And change focus to this pop-up box with some "oh so important" message or other.
Sometimes with computers, swearing is the only answer.
Oh, don't get me started. Even some Linux/etc (Mint used here) versions do it, but also Windows and Android have done it to me.
Typing in something really important, message or password etc, [Popup] "Your system needs to restart/update/we have an offer for you/this random program finally finished loading" and all force takeover window focus/cursor/keyboard input.
Stealing something out of my hand is not ok. Even if it's in an OS.
I do a lot of transcibing of old documents, and I've lost count of the number of times I've been merrily typing away reading the source doucment, and some piece-of-shit software has decided to steal (yes STEAL, I didn't give it permission) my input focus and I've been giving it incomprehesible commands.
Totally agree with you 100% And often when you're merrily typing away and some dialog jumps up and steals focus, you've inadvertently either agreed to it or cancelled it--who knows, because it disappeared with your first keystroke before you could even read it, also messing up what you were typing.
Apps not stealing focus is something that every GUI in Linux has always had right but something Microsoft still needs to learn after decades. And don't get me started about the ridiculously persistent "need password" dialog on an iPhone if it doesn't have passwords stored for every email account and app on the phone constantly. The one that will pop up and ruin your efforts to enter a password for a different app in mid stream and reoccur every few seconds.
I have come to the conclusion that the kids over at Microsoft missed the classes on GUI and Human Factors Engineering, and have just said, "screw it, they'll figure it out."
Because UI design seems to have been relegated to the dumpster. In favor of really sh*t apps which run only when an internet connextion is available, if then.
My company has embraced: Office 365, Google Drive, Teams, Asana and Sharepoint.
Between all the jumping around and slightly different UIs, it is almost impossible to be productive.
It used to do that with tvdb.com but since they revamped it, not only do you have to click the magnifying glass to start a search, the results are sorted alphabetically instead of by likelihood of match so your result is often half a page or more down the list, even if you type in the EXACT name of the show.
FSCKing useless devs/designers/marketers/whoever signed that off.
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I've seen it done with a laptop. They were using a plug-in keyboard to allow them to still type on the laptop - which at least still worked as a convenient stand - for the now portrait mode screen. Actually an improvement on some widescreen laptops...
A friend phoned me yesterday. The computers frozen. All I can see is this picture of a waterfall. Not one I've taken, so it must be one of the ones built into the OS. No buttons do anything. The answer being to press CTR+ALT+DEL to get the login prompt. Obvious when you know, completely baffling when you don't.
I have to do this on the rare occasions I am using my laptop without an external monitor. Some dialogue boxes on the software I use object to the 1366 x 768 display on my decrepit work machine, and wont provide the action buttons at the base of the forms, Solution - rotate display to be be 768 x 1366.
This may have been fixed, I havent checked after recent updates..
Hailing, as I do, from the dark ages when modesty existed, I consider myself an Icky.
I am staggered that someone calling themselves a 'Pathfinder' managed to stumble over the dusty El Reg pages to your 2015 article, presumably a statistical anomaly like shakespeare from primates. I had a glimmer of hope that my faith in humanity was about to be restored until i read the linked post and then the posters' profile. Glimmer extinguished.
I've often considered the sarcasm and snobbery that comes from experienced IT staff. As the writer explains, to laugh endlessly at the Luser for mistakenly calling a monitor a Computer, purely because they're not swimming in IT jargon 24/7 is the worst of all IT Staff's failings. Having been in this industry for 20+ years I still get angry when I see someone do this.
I've seen a woman with a PhD in astro physics struggle to work a computer but she can manually calculate the path of a satellite from earth to Pluto. With just a pen and paper. Can you do that?
Be nice to your users, they're human beings, deserve your respect and one day you might need to calculate the path of your own rocket (for reasons) and might need their help.
Although I agree with your sentiment, this phenomenon is not exclusive to IT professionals, not by far. All professions develop their own jargon to talk about and mock the "normal" people they interact with.
I guess it is basic human gregarious behavior: It is "us" (who have this secret knowledge) vs "them" (who don't have it)
The worst offenders, in my opinion, are doctors and in particular ER surgeons... the terms a couple of friends of mine use to refer to people involved in car crashes are truly blood-chilling.
The worst offenders, in my opinion, are doctors and in particular ER surgeons... the terms a couple of friends of mine use to refer to people involved in car crashes are truly blood-chilling.
I've got a surgeon in the family who spent years doing emergency surgery. It's gallows humour, letting off steam - if they didn't do it they'd crack up and/or kill themselves. Be very thankful someone does the job.
One of the reasons we use the 'jargon' is to make it as confusing and difficult for anyone without the required technical knowledge to try and do our jobs for us.
Because we've all got horror stories about the users who've heard something about a light tap to move the sticky printer carriage and belted the thing with a hammer.....
Or my fav of the operator being told in no uncertain terms not to use the rapid speed on the machine....yupp you can guessed what happened.... £100 000 that one cost.....oh and a new set of undies for the operator... once he released his grip on the roof beams......
Which leads to the moral of the story.... only tell the users what they need to use the software/hardware safely without buggering it up.
"One of the reasons we use the 'jargon' is to make it as confusing and difficult for anyone without the required technical knowledge to try and do our jobs for us."
Oh, horse shit. We use technical jargon because it's the easiest, most correct, and fastest way to gfet the point across. Trying to put it into so-called "simple English" often doesn't work because "simple English" doesn't have the correct terminology ... That's why we invented the new jargon in the first place!
"Oh, horse shit. We use technical jargon because it's the easiest, most correct, and fastest way to gfet the point across. Trying to put it into so-called "simple English" often doesn't work because "simple English" doesn't have the correct terminology ... That's why we invented the new jargon in the first place!"
What excuse does management speak have for existing, then..? It can certainly be replaced by plain English ...
I take your point Bangem, but at the same time (in my experience) users don't get mocked unless they fall in to one of 2 categories.
1. I don't like computers, I refuse to learn and will ask the same questions constantly. Fair enough, some people are set in their ways but computers are not going away and a refusal to learn new things (not just limited to computers in the case of these people) means they get no sympathy.
2. Users who think they know things, but don't. Developers often fall in to this category, they don't like IT having control over their machines and either try to fix things themselves or try to bypass restrictions that they don't think should apply to them. My pet hate for this being developers who insist (and are often backed by their equally ignorant line managers) that they need to be admins to develop, then are shocked when what they have developed doesn't work for the users it's intended for.
I would argue that two points are simultaneously correct:
point 1: IT people tend to be more dismissive of users than they should,
point 2: IT people have very good reasons to be dismissive of some users.
I've seen both sides, as I'm sure have most others reading these comments. I've seen the IT people who think they know a lot more than they do and think everyone else is an idiot. I've also seen the users who don't know anything and refuse to do anything these IT idiots have suggested. It can often be tempting to ignore one point by focusing excessively on another, but that doesn't help. If you lean to hard on the stupid users, you don't treat the large set of users who have problems, don't know how to solve them, and need and rely the help of IT to keep things going with the respect they deserve. If you lean to hard on IT having an arrogance problem, you end up trying to be nice as opposed to efficient. While the people who actually fall into the "stupid user" group might feel happier at the end, the people who really need IT's help probably aren't getting it. Once again, they lose.
Something should be done about users who waste the time of the IT people. IT people need to respect users more. I think this applies to pretty much every profession.
"I've often considered the sarcasm and snobbery that comes from experienced IT staff. As the writer explains, to laugh endlessly at the Luser for mistakenly calling a monitor a Computer, purely because they're not swimming in IT jargon 24/7 is the worst of all IT Staff's failings."
That depends on the user being referred to. Many users have been using PCs for everyday work and tasks since they were at school. Possibly since they first started school. Anyone who left school, college or university in the last 15 years probably did large amounts of their schoolwork on computers. If they don't understand the basics of their tool and how it works, then either they didn't want to know or their education was sadly lacking.
whose laptop was 'completely dead'.
So, obviously, first question; is it the battery that is completely dead or is the entire power supply blown?
No, it powers up okay, the OS boots, I can logon and connect to the network BUT the screens connected to the docking station are blank!
Now I'm completely down with the 'jargon relative to employment and experience' thing but how in the name of seven hells is that 'completely dead'?
Not to mention the manager who didn't even know where his computer was! That's right, we'd replaced his all-in-one with a power-user tower system under his desk, and he still thought everything was still built into the back of the display unit. Talk about a moron! I laughed about that with the night shift for ages and I'm sure they were all grinning inwardly behind their stony faces.
The reverse of this is the lady who, upon having her monitor replaced*, spent the rest of the week telling everybody how much faster the new computer was. No, it was not an all-in-one.
* "I think my monitor is on fire!" Smoke is coming out. Someone else had to walk over to turn it off for them.
That one happened to a friend of mine in the late 80's.
User, "I think my monitors on fire."
User, "There's smoke coming out of it!"
Friend, "Have you turned it off yet?"
User, "Are you crazy!? I'm not going near that thing!"
Cue friend running out of the building, up the street to the other building where the user worked in the pathology lab, & into the lab to disconnect the monitor. Turned out that they has spilled a significant quantity of ethanol into it... (or maybe water, not sure any more.)
To them it's all about clicking on wee pictures and we keep moving them.
That's a perfectly reasonable complaint. I just spent most of a month beating a new smartphone into submission in an effort to make it work the same way as my old one.*
It's ridiculous that every software or hardware upgrade also completely changes the UI and basic operating assumptions. My Mint Linux machines haven't changed the desktop layout or functions in at least five years, but Android or Windows 10 seem to reinvent themselves every ten months.
Users are not "stupid" for wanting consistency in how their tools work.
* after a month we figured out that it was Huawei's insanely aggressive power management that was causing everything from GPS trackers to podcast downloads to operate in inexplicably erratic fashions. Fortunately with it locked down in "Performance" mode there seems to be no difference in actual battery life.
"Users are not "stupid" for wanting consistency in how their tools work."
Similarly, it has gotten very tiring to get a tool that does the same thing, but works completely differently and no better. Case: now using git.. before that CVS... before that an internal product re-written to be different (and worse in my opinion).. before that an internal product that was rewrittent in the aforementioned step... before that a DIFFERENT internal product... and so on all the way back to the first internal library product encountered when I was hired.
These are all library products and despite the howls of how superior one may think any particular variant is, they all do the same thing with only minor differences. I want to do my job, not waste time learning yet another ******* library system. Git might be the last one, seems to be the cheapest and that is what attracts bean counters. They could ditch insecure SHA-1, but at least doing so won't change the UI (OK, it shouldn't, but I'm sure someone will attempt to feature creep the change into a completely different UI!!)
The one thing I'm regretting about Linux is not having multiple builds/OS installs FOR. EACH. PROGRAM. I WANT. TO. USE.
I know we complain about Windows, but I can usually fire up any program, from decades ago. But a Kernel update in Linux can kill compatibility of software a year or two old. And even those updating, will release "beta" options that now instead follow cloud solutions, have the worse GUI and 10% of the functionality.
I need to sandbox/airgap an older Linux/NIX build and get some of that old stuff running again. :(
Only if you are still using XP. The Official solution for Win7 64 and Win 10 64 is to use a VM containing XP. Curiously that works just as well on Linux, so what value is Windows 10 for legacy software?
Almost nothing using VB 6's serial gadget works in any 64 bit Windows.
In 15 years the only thing I've had a Kernel version issue with on Linux was a driver for a PCMCIA modem. That was over ten years ago.
Yes, sometimes there is the Linux equivalent of DLL Hell, but it's always been easily solved.
PSP4. I've got a demo of PSP9 (which also works on XP, 7 and 10), but the bells and whistles work hard to get in the way of any usability, so 99.9% of the tasks I need to do are done with PSP4. If I need to rotate an image a fraction of a degree, that's the sole time I fire up PSP9 on the one machine the demo hasn't expired on.
I will say that despite IBM having despicable business practices as of late, that their programmers, at least in the last couple of decades, were top-notch. We are still (unfortunately) running some IBM PC apps from the early 2000s on Windows 10, and they still install and function reasonably well, with some quirks. I'm sure this is due to their programmers strictly following best practices and using only documented APIs... of course, if they didn't at IBM, they'd likely be flogged.
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"a Kernel update in Linux can kill compatibility of software a year or two old."
You are running the wrong distro. Try 2016's Slackware 14.2-stable. It is still on the 4.4.x LTS kernel. Runs all modern software quite nicely (ex. LibreOffice 4.2.4), right alongside the older stuff. And yes, it'll run just fine on, and make proper use of, newer hardware.
This kernel will be supported by Linus and crew until 2022 ... and as the first kernel selected for Super Long Term Support (SLTS), the Civil Infrastructure Platform will provide support until at least 2026, possibly until 2036 ... No idea how long Slackware 14.2 will actually be supported, but no EOL has been announced as of yet.
Also, evaluate slackware-current, which will become the 15.0 release "when it's ready". Obviously I can't see the future, nor can I read POV's mind, but I suspect the long-term support of slack 15.0-stable will be similar to that of 14.2 ...
Well trolled sir. It looks like you took a typical Microsoft bug report and replaced every reference to Windows with Linux. What gets me is the blatant dishonesty depicted by posters such as the above anonymous troll.
“The one thing I'm regretting about Linux is not having multiple builds/OS installs FOR. EACH. PROGRAM. I WANT. TO. USE.”
You have actually described the current incarnation of Windows where each application has to have its own private set of DLLs, in order to prevent something breaking on the next update that replaces one DLL with another incompatible DLL. This is the solution to the DLL HELL problem. It achieves this by, for each application, dynamically hard-linking C:/some/application/dll-folder into C:/windows/system. A quick-and-dirty hack if there ever were one.
That's a perfectly reasonable complaint. I just spent most of a month beating a new smartphone into submission in an effort to make it work the same way as my old one.
Sometimes that's just not possible. Such as some big-name cellphone maker (hello, Moto...) that in their earlier units had a perfectly functional voice-dialing utility, with when connected to your bluetooth headset would allow you to call anyone in your phonebook with a simple "call <Name> at <Home|Work|Mobile>". But ***NOW*** they've decided to remove that completely functional, self-contained and OFFLINE utility with some hack-me/spy-on-me set of apps from Google. All of which demand you have mobile data always-on and always sucking down your mobile data allotment. And they have the gall to call it an "improvement". Yeah, it worked as it was before, and with time to evolve the tech and better processing power, you sould make that OFFLINE tool even better. Or at worst case just leave it where it is and don't fuck with it, since it was working fine before.
Fortunately with it locked down in "Performance" mode there seems to be no difference in actual battery life.
Such is IT now - where if the next version didn't get worse then you could probably even consider if an improvement.
Shame you have to fight the task killers that smartphones are now loaded with first. If it were Tron inside there it'd look like the French revolution.
"To them it's all about clicking on wee pictures and we keep moving them."
At a certain university (probably applies to all education establishments), the start of the academic year ALWAYS results in many, many helldesk calls relating to upgrades/updates because icons have changed or move or the entire OS has been upgraded over the long holiday.the academic staff being the worst offenders.
This despite many, many emails being sent before the end of the previous academic years to tell them of the changes, inform them why the changes are being made and lots of pretty screen shots included so they will know what to expect and offers of training course both online and in group sessions.
For some of them, they are terrified they've been hacked or got a virus so at least they are aware of those possibilities.
Users getting new pretty icons....
I love Windows XP.
I hate Windows 7.
I love Windows 7.
I hate Windows 10.
I love Windows 10.
To them it's all about clicking on wee pictures and we keep moving them.
I resemble that remark. I don't love computers for their sake, they are a tool, and I hate it when somebody messes with my tools or workbench (I'm a jeweler). Computer software seems to deliberately and randomly mess around via updates that actually do nothing discernible FOR me, but change things enough to irritate me.
I still use one of those sort of things. Faster and more responsive than many newer sorts of thing for the sort of things I do. Of course, the needs of bloated web pages and reluctance of browser makers to support older OSes means I have to use a modern sort of thing to do most online things.
I like the background of Penguin and Pelican books in the second picture. Reminds me of when I lived at home.
I had one user that I ended up with, that every time we did an OS upgrade, I would take a screenshot of her desktop icons and make sure that they were back in the "correct" [lace after said upgrades. We usually had new hardware along with the OS change as Windows environment, the new OS needed new hardware so that it didn't run like a tortoise running through mollases. She had tunnel vision, had no idea on how computers worked, but knew the steps necessary to do her job. Very upsetting to her if that changed so I did my best to avoid that as she got stressed and her work did not get done. Apparently I am patient with people, although the trouble and strife would disagree.
Have one of these for your needed hard work!
For every programmer/designer/manager who likes to move the GUI around, I wish I had their address, so I could sneak around in the middle of the night...
... to move their *coffee* into a different cupboard. See, I worked as a cleaner, but even I knew NOT to do that to other people!
"Is minge universal slang or is it relatively UK specific"
UK specific, with some bleed-over into the former Empire. My Big Dic says it first appeared in print in 1903, but was used in the spoken form in various lower-class dialects in the British Isles starting sometime in the late 1800s. It's probably from the Romani language ("mitch", 1874), and possibly originated in Armenian. Derivatives (minger, minging, etc.) seem to be inventions of the 1990s. I certainly don't remember them from my Schoolboy Daze in Yorkshire a couple decades prior ...
Not to be confused with "ming", with a hard g, which is Scottish, meaning excrement, first seen in print in 1924 ... and from the 1970s, minging (mingin') meaning stinking, unpleasant, or drunk. Or perhaps unpleasantly stinking drunk.
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