back to article Summer vacations put an end to rampant desktop crimewave

I'm drowning in ballpoint pens. I mean this figuratively, of course. Let's just say I have an uncommonly large number of ballpoint pens available for my immediate use at the moment. How many? Ooh, several. Can you borrow one? No, get lost, find your own. The reason I suddenly find myself awash – figuratively, again – with so …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "humans remain more effective than machines when it comes to securing digital assets"

    Well they certainly are more effective at goofing it up.

    As for where my pen is, I see what you did there and look forward to the inevitable rise of that site's popularity.

    1. Red Ted

      Re: "humans remain more effective than machines when it comes to securing digital assets"

      To err is human. To really foul up, you need a computer.

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

        Re: "humans remain more effective than machines when it comes to securing digital assets"

        "To err is human"

        But to arr is pirate

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: "humans remain more effective than machines when it comes to securing digital assets"

          ... and to moo bovine.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: "humans remain more effective than machines when it comes to securing digital assets"

          But to arr is pirate

          All based on the guy who originally played John John Silver - said thesp hailed from deppest, darkest Devon..

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: "humans remain more effective than machines when it comes to securing digital assets"

            The first two Long John Silvers in film were Yanks (Charles Ogle in the 1920 silent and Wallace Beery in the 1934 talkie). The third is probably the one you are talking about, as played by Robert Newton in 1950. He was born in Dorset, and grew up in Cornwall. (Seems to me the Depp-ist Poirate hails from Kentucky ...)

    2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: "humans remain more effective than machines when it comes to securing digital assets"

      Would professional writers be interested in =-)P

  2. hplasm

    The best way to stock up

    On pens, and other assorted stationary-

    -is to have a job that involves crawling under desks, or for the big haul, removing cables after the desks have gone elsewhere.

    Downside - the amount of manky 'desk sandals' that remain, mostly hidden...

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      Re: The best way to stock up

      I prefer to mine for lost coins of the realm when under desks.....

      Also there is also the story of a young lady that used to have an interesting way of err keeping herself amused while giving out train timetable information, that I only found out while replacing computers at her cluster of desks.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The best way to stock up

      'crawling under desks' - when I first started doing nights in TV Centre many years ago and the 2 TV channels closed down at night and everyone but the engineer went home - I was bored one night so I decided to clean up the continuity booths. They were both lovely brown colour throughout and with the lights on looked filthy. Under the desk I recovered about 100 pens - I presumed that if an announcer dropped one*, he or she deemed it too dirty and dark to find it and just got another one from the stationary office.

      *As smutty as we all are/were, there is no euphemism intended here.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: The best way to stock up

        just got another one from the stationary office.

        That's how it should be, yes, but the trend over the past two decades was to move them about, then joining them into a single open-plan area where the people moved about and your thinking ability went out the window.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: The best way to stock up

        'crawling under desks'

        In my distant, dark days of being desktop support I very quickly got into the habit of warning people when I was about to crawl under their bank of desks - largely to give any ladies (especially those with short skirts) the opportunity to preserve their modesty..

        It's a whole other world under the desks - especially if they have been in the same place for a long time.

  3. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    Disposable income

    The secret is to in turn nick the pens from hotel rooms when you stay there, so that there is a large buffer stock to keep the cycle ongoing.

    And as for loo roll, most of the stuff isn't worth the effort as its so cheap, waffy and thin that you have to use 3-4x the amount you normally would folded together before you get something that you won't put your fingers through. Indeed it's become one of my judgement criteria for any workplace, hotel or other location you might need to spend an extended period of time in.

    So the question is whether it's getting nicked, or people are just using it up significantly more quickly than at home because it's so thin and useless?

    Forget all the fancy promises and pledges you may get, go look in the bog cubicle and see how much they really care for their staff/clientelle by the quality of the paper they provide. It's a surprisingly good yardstick for whether the place is worth having anything to do with...

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Disposable income

      Yes, at some of the places I've worked at, the bog roll provided makes Aldi's discount rolls look like a luxury living item in comparison.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Disposable income

        In the bad old days of Izal, people would bring their own toilet paper to work, but still nick the employer-provided stuff for their kids to use for tracing.

        1. Alistair Dabbs

          Re: Disposable income

          Re: Izal

          My Dad actually preferred Izal bog paper, the one saving grace is that he bought it in flat cardboard dispensers that would let you take one folded sheet at a time rather than bewildering you with the physics of the non-tearable perforations on the rolls. I think Izal must have reminded him of school or happy days of Blytonesque derring-do during the war or something. How the creators of Izal never won a Nobel prize for inventing the perfect frictionless surface is beyond me.

          1. antman

            Re: Disposable income

            ISTR the folded sheets were the posh type and the rolls, often with "government property" printed on each sheet (as if anyone would steal them) were the cheapo variety. I don't recall having a choice of hard or soft when I were a young man or having much of a problem with the "tracing paper" then. It's possible that because we ate better in those days (not so much fast and easy food around) our turds were more solid and there was less mopping up to do. Now I couldn't imagine using Izal or Bronco (remember Bronco - does it buck the chug-nuts?).

          2. Uk_Gadget

            Re: Disposable income

            Same. horrid stuff

          3. Daedalus Silver badge

            Re: Disposable income

            Nah, Dad liked Izal because it was better than pages torn from Titbits.

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Disposable income

          That brings back memories of the outhouse at my grandmother's house. :-O

          1. Alien8n

            Re: Disposable income

            We had that at school for exactly one term. The kids hated it so much we used it to write home with. Considering how expensive the school was it didn't take long before they decided maybe they should just buy better toilet paper rather than face of wrath of a few hundred angry parents.

          2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

            Re: Disposable income

            Our house (When I were a lad)..

            Good stuff - Upstairs.

            Azal - Outside loo.

            Your priority & need dictated your choice of inside or out, if the bathroom was occupied.

        3. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: Disposable income

          The other use for Izal was playing a comb ( millennials will have to look it up).

          For those times when my pen is nicked, I always have some of the free pencils from Ikea or Argos.

          Disappointed with the legionaire pic it should have been a mind bleach worthy pic of Dabbsy slave girl.

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

            Re: Disposable income

            Dabbsy put the image of the Rimmer concubine into my head too.


            Icon - In vast quantities to mind cleanse the brain into unseeing.

          2. LeahroyNake Silver badge

            Re: Disposable income

            Screwfix still have pencils but Toolstation have pens. Guess where I prefer to shop!

            I hope Dabsy is saving the Princess Leia and Orion slave girl outfits for the bedroom or the respective conventions (or Facebook for that matter) I can quite easily avoid damaging my precious little mind :)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Disposable income

        At one time my work had loo paper that was so cheap I used to nick it to use as sandpaper. You certainly couldn't put it anywhere near your arse.

        1. quxinot Silver badge

          Re: Disposable income

          Super cheap shitpaper is like super cheap beer.

          Just say no. Life is nasty, brutish, and short enough already.

        2. macjules Silver badge

          Re: Disposable income

          Inverse rules: the worse the bog paper the higher the rate at which pens, staplers and paperclips disappear. Never used to touch anything government related, but I have a whole home office stocked with logo-emblazoned cups, mats and pens from one particularly nasty company I once slaved for. Suffice to say their loo paper was like rubbing sandpaper on your backside.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Disposable income

            Inverse rules: the worse the bog paper the higher the rate at which pens, staplers and paperclips disappear. Never used to touch anything government related, but I have a whole home office stocked with logo-emblazoned cups, mats and pens from one particularly nasty company I once slaved for. Suffice to say their loo paper was like rubbing sandpaper on your backside.

            One particularly nasty company I worked for (I've suspected the owner was a member of or connected with the Chinese Tong), the owner's wife was fussing over having to buy basic supplies like toilet paper. My own observation was I could use incoming customer orders i we ran out of TP.

        3. navidier

          Re: Disposable income

          > At one time my work had loo paper that was so cheap I used to nick it to use as sandpaper. You certainly couldn't put it anywhere near your arse.

          I once worked for an Institute that was attached to a National Atomic Energy Agency. We were continually in and out of the facility -- in fact my office and lab were inside the perimeter. (The FedPol used to try it on when I approached the barriers -- both ways -- on my motorbike, holding out my site pass, until the last possible moment before I needed to drop the pass to pull the clutch, or stall.)

          Our "company car" was a Holden station-wagon (oops, I may have given it away), and our CEO was such a pragmatic chap that he ensured that there was a bog-roll in the back, in case a driver ever got caught-short away from facilities. One day a colleague was leaving the facility and the FedPol decided to do a search of the vehicle. Having found said loo-roll, they then proceeded to accuse him of theft of Government property and threatened all sorts of Draconian punishment. Even calling the CEO across from our offices just outside cut no ice, until it was pointed out that the paper in question was standard supermarket quality and thus far superior to the GI stuff on site.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Disposable income

      If your place of work has

      a) terrible bog rolls

      b) the type of holder that holds two rolls side-by-side

      ... bring a roll of high-quality TP and your labelmaker.

      Replace one of the terrible rolls with the premium one.

      Stick a label saying "Management ONLY" above the good roll.

      Sneak back to your desk and wait.

    3. Boo Radley

      Re: Disposable income

      The local county hospital had, some years ago, nice high quality toilet paper and paper towels in their bathrooms. I'd regularly go in with my backpack empty and leave with it full of items. Then they switched to those huge kilometer long rolls of tp, and I was forced to shop at a regular store for my toiletries.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Disposable income

      Back in the dim, distant and happy days when SWMBO & I were both palaeoecologists fieldwork involved taking multiple samples from peat faces. (Just checking I typed that OK). To avoid cross-contamination the spatula had to be wiped clean between samples. So the field kit included a bog roll.

  4. big_D Silver badge

    Not here...

    I tend to throw away the pens after they stop working or start leaking... It must be a Teutonic thing, the pens just appear, not disappear and if someone toddles off with a pen, they will turn up all apologetic 10 minutes later.

    At home we are swimming in the damned things. Every time we meet a sales person or go to a training session, customer presentation etc. we get given a hand full of pens, which land in our drawer, along with the note blocks. It means that each of our games that require score keeping, a number of pens and a pad are tucked away in the box, no having to run around trying to find pens to keep track.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Not here...

      With average luck you eventually get to a time of life when most of the branded pens you pick up are those handed out by undertakers at funerals.

      At least, that's been my recent experience.

      1. Tim99 Silver badge

        Re: Not here...

        Most of mine are from aged care providers and retirement homes...

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Not here...

        Most of mine come from Kindergardens and childrens charities - my wife works with young children.

        As we are now looking forward to grandchildren, it keeps me feeling young.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Not here...

      "At home we are swimming in the damned things."

      Back in my dim dark youf I worked for a govt department (post office) as a tech. Nobody really paid too much attention to pens - you had them in your pocket for stuff and invariably they went home. Some went on longer trips. If you showed up at a remote site and there were no pens for the logbooks/dead pens, you left yours there, etc.

      Every so often someone would show up with a shopping bag full of the things collected from home and dump them in his desk drawer or a tray in the workshop and the cycle would start over.

      On the other hand, companies which made a fuss over missing pens never got them back.

  5. msknight

    Just an observation

    I currently have six ballpoints of various descriptions on my desk.. not counting those that are peaking out at me from a desk tidy.

    This puzzles me because I write with a Blackwing Palamino.

    Lesson learned... if you don't want anyone to nick your pen... use a pencil :-)

    There is, of course, another method of saving your precious writing implements from going walkies... ensure that the main suspects of said thefts see you prominently chewing the ends of your writing implements.

    1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      Re: Just an observation

      I have used a cartridge pen (a Rotring ArtPen EF, too. It's lovely to write with) for the last 20 years and not one person has ever asked to borrow it nor has it ever gone walkies. I think people have memories of ink-stains and frustration from early in primary school and the very sight of it brings back disagreeable memories.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Just an observation

        I have used a cartridge pen (a Rotring ArtPen EF, too. It's lovely to write with) for the last 20 years and not one person has ever asked to borrow it nor has it ever gone walkies.

        A similar method applied to not having your calculator nicked: RPN.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just an observation

      ensure that the main suspects of said thefts see you prominently chewing the ends of your writing implements.

      Or in extremis go full office psycho and start picking your nose and ears with them.


    3. Dave 32

      Re: Just an observation

      Or, use a fountain pen. No one wants a fountain pen (Besides, stealing the ink well is a bit too obvious, and a royal pain in the arse.).


      P.S. And, yes, I used a fountain pen all through school, college, and at work.

      P.P.S I'll get my coat. It's the one with the ink stains on it.

      1. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

        "use a fountain pen" is the correct answer.

        Since I was plagued by the ball-point problem myself, I bought a modestly priced fountain pen. That was twenty years ago. It's still here and still works perfectly. I got the sort that uses the little generic ink cartridges you can buy in Smiths, so no messing with bottles of Quink. Job done.

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: "use a fountain pen" is the correct answer.

          I have a beautiful titanium fountain pen made in China (€25), the Chinese still use a lot of fountain pens and make really high quality for low money. It makes me write slower and more legibly.

          1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

            Re: "use a fountain pen" is the correct answer.

            Could you post a URL, please?

        2. richardcox13

          Re: "use a fountain pen" is the correct answer.

          > no messing with bottles of Quink

          Well that's your problem. Much better inks are available.

          /me Currently favouring Pilot Iroshizuku shin-kai – a lovely blue black that really flows beautifully on to the paper.

    4. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Just an observation



      Get two, one up each nostril.

      Stops the boss eating them.

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Re: Just an observation

        Sayng "Wibble" a lot is optional I presume?

    5. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Just an observation

      ensure that the main suspects of said thefts see you prominently chewing the ends of your writing implements.

      I've found that chewing the end of Bic Crystal pens would lead to an increased use of toilet paper.

  6. Potemkine! Silver badge

    '- you've got a tampon behind the ear

    - Woops, but where is my pen?

    When a company begins to count pens, it's time to see if grass is greener elsewhere

    Disclaimer: both sentences are unrelated

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Erm, is your hovercraft full of eels by any chance?

  7. Caver_Dave


    I managed to run one of those cheap and nasty ballpoints that offices supply to empty. I was so proud of the achievement that I kept it on my desk. In two years it never did walk! The complaints from colleagues about that one not working suggested who were the normal culprits for stealing the working pens.

  8. PerlyKing Silver badge

    The only pen I ever finished...

    ...was a father's day present from my young daughter. Bright pink with a big fluffy wobbly thing on the end. Nobody ever even borrowed it!

  9. Alan Sharkey


    What's a pen? Is it like a keyboard?

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Umm

      Ask your mum. It's a grown-up thing.

    2. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: Umm

      My pen is long and round and stiff to the touch. Always good to make sure it doesn't leak over the keyboard.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Umm

        Round? Like a turnip?

  10. GlenP Silver badge

    This is True:

    I once worked for a company with one of those dragon-like beancounters who would only open the stationary cupboard once a day and you had to produce the remains of the old pen/pencil/Tippex*/whatever before being, reluctantly, given a new one. The only reason it reduced theft from the company was that people tended to bring their own and guard them fiercely as it was easier that way.

    *She also insisted that recycled, as in only printed one side, paper was used in the fax machine, until the day somebody decided to Tippex out the printing on one side of the page so it could be reused. Do you know what fresh Tippex does to a laser drum? Glen does!

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      Re: This is True:

      > Do you know what fresh Tippex does to a laser drum?

      Something similar to what a transparency not meant for a laser printer does?

      Co-worker of mine got annoyed about some guy who would "borrow" printable transparencies, even going through drawers. At some point he just put one box into his drawer, but replaced the contents with non-printable ones (apparently not even easy to get). Soooo... Mr. Arsehole spoiled a very expensive printer and had to pay for the repairs, more than 2000 Euros. His own money, there had been repeated stern warnings for this specific scenario.

      1. Baldrickk Silver badge

        Re: This is True:

        Proper BOFH here

        1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

          Re: This is True:

          > Proper BOFH here

          Yep. Otherwise a truly nice and always helpful gentleman. Just somewhat allergic to over the top stupidity(*) and outright a-holes.

          (*) When one interface-designer-type suggested something outright impossible should be done AND insisting after said impossibility was explained to him there was a mighty shouting, shocking me even through three closed doors. I really thought he well and truly had lost his mind. Peeked into his office ... he just calmly smiled.

          Days later interface-designer-type made the same suggestion to somebody else. Word got around and his life got significantly more miserable. As in: hell. I almost felt bad for him. Almost.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is True:

      Those people never seem to understand that they're actually wasting resources by being so strict about pointless things. At one point, I worked in a place that did IT support for small business clients in the area next to mine (development). In that area, they had a large shelf packed with old hard drives off servers, ranging from several years old to reasonably modern. One day, a client's server lost a disk and was running degraded. Its RAID configuration meant all the data was still present, but they couldn't afford losing another. When I heard this discussion, I suggested to the manager of that division that they had several disks of the appropriate size, speed, and style on their shelf, so they should probably just do a test on them and get the disk over to the client*. I was informed that they would not be doing this because the client had to purchase their own hardware; we didn't give it away. When I attempted to point out that nobody ever used that shelf of disks, so it hardly mattered what happened to them, that the disk would cost about the same as coffee for the managers' meeting, and that this could prevent a larger problem with data integrity, I was politely informed that this wasn't my affair and I should finish my development task.

      *The disks concerned were not failures--they smashed those separately. Usually, the disks were ones that had been used for a little time and then taken out of service. They were there for internal projects in case anyone needed them, but nobody ever did. For the same reason, they had a somewhat thorough collection of desktop memory sticks ranging in modernity from four to twelve years out of date.

      Posting anonymous in case someone reads this. I don't think they do. If someone there does, they probably know the place is bad already.

  11. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

    Quality evaluation of pen is not hard.

    How to divide into "keep" and "leave for stealing". Unscrew the thing (if impossible, leave for stealing). Does it have a fat mine and does it write well? Then keep. Otherwise leave for stealing. You'll keep just one out of ten pens, but your life will be much better pen-wise.

    For the not-so-much appreciated co-workers, leave some that randomly leak (enough ink to spoil a shirt for good). Pens that write the first word just fine, then fade quickly are also good for this. Oh, and pens that click the mine out but retract it back upon the slightest touch of paper.

    For those nice persons that repeatedly grab a pen form your desk for "just signing" something always have a perfectly working pen ready. With pink ink.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Quality evaluation of pen is not hard.

      I like your style. You may find this useful:

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

        Re: Quality evaluation of pen is not hard.

        Careful: when I was a young boy I got a "disappearing ink" prank set. Tried it on my grandma, she was NOT happy. I reassured here that ink would disappear. Ink lost some of its color within hours but did not disappear. Machine washing did not fix the problem either. Ooooops. Sorry grandma!

        Top tip: acid based ink does disappear reliably. Together with the fabric.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Quality evaluation of pen is not hard.

      You git! It was you that ruined my shirt that time I errrr, borrowed that pen. It wasn't even a nice pen either!

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Quality evaluation of pen is not hard.

        So we can add 'Anonymous Coward' to the list on

  12. Franco Silver badge

    I have drawers full of vendor pens and stationery, so it's usually easy to spot when someone has purloined one of mine. Still using a Windows 7 pen, I'll retire it if the OS ever actually dies. Windows 10 pens get replaced rather more often, in an interesting case of life imitating art (not really art, but you know what I mean).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've always had a theory, that you tell the quality of a company and its products by the quality of their freebies.

      The brightly coloured pens for Truevision, promised fun and creativity - didn't work even when new, just like some of their graphics cards.

      The Optibase pen - very boring, but worked well but stopped working in the middle of an important job (writing up my expenses)

      1. Franco Silver badge

        There may be some truth to that, the worst pens I have ever receieved were from Symantec and GFI.

        I won a lot of swag from Symantec over the years, including a NAS, a laptop and an iPad, but their branded stuff was tat.

        Anyone who is on LinkedIn will probably have seen ads/spam for a webinar from Verkada promising a free Yeti travel mug as well for attending. The mug is worth £70 apparently, and although it does keep your coffee warm the lid is crap and not watertight and the mug is far too big for a cupholder in a car.

        1. PM from Hell

          Insulated coffee mugs

          I worked for a company on a COMA site, they had a great health and safety record and were so proud they had some insulated coffee mugs printed up with '365 days without a reportable accident' on them these were not the standard starbucks like vessel with a clip on lid, these were like tankards with a thick rim around the base for stability, foam filled voids and a large screw on lid which prevented spillages even if the mug was dropped, this really was a big deal. The clock finally ticked over after a full year without a single reportable accident and the mugs were distributed, followed a couple of hours later by an email requesting people to take care about hot contents, One of the management team had returned to his desk after a couple of hours gap, taken a swig of what he thought would be tepid coffee and found out it was still near boiling pint. It was a close run thing but it was decided that accident wasn't reportable. In the end most people didn't use the mugs because they did keep the drinks too hot and were uncomfortable to use without the lids screwed on.

  13. Dr. G. Freeman

    I have always found it odd that people in the lab would often ask to borrow my pen (or in one case snatch it out of my hand mid-writing), rather than get one out of the box of over 500 we have that were given as freebies to be given out- where I had got the pen from in the first place.

    Found out that it was they weren't sure the freebie pens worked, and wouldn't test them to see, but rather wait until I'd "broken them in" and just steal them

  14. Joe W Silver badge

    It's a sport....

    I had that problem when in the army[1]. The pens in our office would just disappear. Until I devised a new game: when in another office, leave with one pen more than you came in with. Bonus: leave one, nick two. Next visit, ask them for your biro.

    Hey, they started it. My sergeant was reasonably proud...

    [1] mandatory service.

  15. mr_souter_Working

    Borrow a pen?

    I remember the halcyon days when I worked for companies that provided stationery to the staff - notepads, pens, etc...

    sadly my current crowd (DXC) are such a small and poor lot, that there is no stationery anywhere - unless you attend an event that has customers (they have plenty of DXC branded crap to give away then)

    my monitor stands are reams of paper - and if want any notepaper, I go and acquire it from a printer. Pens - I bring my own, and will cut the hands off anyone that lays a finger on one of them!

  16. batfink Silver badge


    Ballpoints? Bah!

    I only use a fountain pen because the supply of quills has dried up.

  17. Christoph

    I had to go down to stores every week to get more pens, until I left a note in my drawer saying something like "How about getting your own pens instead of always nicking mine?"

  18. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    In one job I was so fed up of the stapler going walkies, that I screwed it to the desk. Surprisingly, it had two little holes in the base that seemed to be there for exactly this purpose.

  19. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    smaller sub-set

    I work from home, so I have a much smaller set of likely thieves to choose from (most likely the daughter).

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ...and confirming that's an average of "£12.50 worth of items per person...

    Seems like there's some co-workers not keeping up their end of the job...

  21. Uk_Gadget

    Don't forget

    the most famous web site for missing pens:

    1. LeahroyNake Silver badge

      Re: Don't forget

      PenIsland still gets blocked by our Web filter. No idea why ;p

      1. Ken Shabby

        Re: Don't forget

        Do you live in Scunthorpe by any chance?

        1. Uk_Gadget

          Re: Don't forget

          As it happens, no...

    2. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: Don't forget

      What about the good ol' ???

  22. Dave 32

    Skillcraft Pens

    Actually, there's an interesting story about the ink pens the US federal government uses (And, they are some mighty fine pens. Uh, never mind.).


    P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the pockets full of stolen government property.

  23. cosymart
    Big Brother


    The best method for preventing pens from walking is to only ever have one pen visible on your desk, no-one nicks the last of anything as it is obvious that it's been nicked.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Simple

      I have one left, someone has a bogey pen!

      I had 4 last week!

    2. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: Simple

      Monsieur Dabbs est en France, n'est pas?

      So that theory won't hold.

  24. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    I bought a friend, who was trouble by pen theft, a box of pens marked...

    ..."Stolen from Barbara". She reported success.

  25. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    The story of an unwanted pencil

    I have a lovely blue pencil that has been living on my desk for as long as I can remember (that's about 6 months then).

    The rubber (eraser) on the top has gone but its mighty golden crown remains and is unchewed.

    It is a grand 3 inches long, it doesn't know how long it is in mm cm m or any other new age measurements as it was made long before metrificatication.

    It is blunt but not in a nasty way. It remembers being larger at some point in the past but it has chosen perhaps wisely to block out certain painful experiences and now never complains that it has to be pressed to the media with increasing force to leave its mark.

    I call it my pencil, nobody else wants to look after it, kidnap it or accidentally loose it somewhere.

    I can almost see it smiling at the other stationary when they occasionally join it on the desk. They look really happy for themselves being all new fangled and ball pointy. They don't stick around long.

    Pencil is still there, he is happy to be a pencil. He has decided that it's better to be a blunt almost useless balding implement.

    It could be worst he thinks. I could be a pen.

  26. Blackjack Silver badge

    The Bic Crystal conspiracy!

    Whatever happened to the famed paperless office anyway?

    And why are we still using pens and pencils if everything is done digitally nowadays?

    Evidently is a conspiracy by the B-Men so we keep buying their Bics!

  27. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge

    The delayed emails

    All this talk about pens.

    The email tale reminds me of the time when I found an enormous collection of failed emails on an email server.

    Turns out the developers of some software which sent emails understood software but not email. They constructed the message, lobbed it at the SMTP port, then went merrily on assuming that it was fire and forget.

    Well, yes, it was but sometimes the send failed (too much load on the server, perhaps) and got dumped into the failed queue. Where it languished forgotten.

    I had to craft a small script to resubmit all these emails in small batches to gently clear the backlog. No doubt the recipients appreciated the eventual arrival.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: The delayed emails

      Does this explain why, when I was studying at university, emails would work just fine when sent from nearly everyone but backdated emails from the administration would appear about three weeks after they were supposed to arrive cheerfully displaying a faked early date but not fooling anyone because the headers would have the real one? Curiously enough, this often happened to campus IT's emails as well. If that wasn't a thing you fixed after I left, I think I have another client in need of your services.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dance time!

    Such a marvellous tune!

  29. Precordial thump

    Maybe this is where they've gone

    Finally, an answer to the age-old question, "where have all the bloody teaspoons gone?"

    Keep a lookout for the HHGTTG reference.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very late to this, but.....

    Back in the dim, distant past I was a student at a school where you could ONLY use fountain pens sold by the school shop; huge ugly things that looked like they had been inspired by 17th century quill pens.

    They wrote OK, but were always vanishing, so replacements were bought on almost a weekly basis.

    I long harboured a suspicion that the Prefects were stealing them and selling them back to the school shop to make a little cash; a suspicion that was pretty much confirmed when I bought a "new" pen and found that there was still wet ink in the nib, despite no cartridge being fitted.

    When I went to engineering school, the same thing used to happen with 6" steel rulers; but I put a stop to it by keeping mine on a full keyring, so it jangled it anyone tried to "lift" it.

    These days I live with a pen/pencil thief; I can buy a whole box of either and all will vanish within hours - to reappear in SWMBOS "tub" on her computer desk.

    If I then try to "borrow" one, she gets really grumpy at me stealing her pens; even though I have never seen her buy a single one in 8 years of marriage.

  31. Sherrie Ludwig

    Non technical solutions

    I have survived in open plan offices with pen-takers in several ways

    1. I keep one pen in my pocket. Zero on the desk or in any non-lockable drawers. or

    2. The top of the desk is littered with NON-WORKING pens - ones that have either run out of ink, glopped up my hand when used, or leaked, smeared or blotted. Traps for the unwary. or

    3. When I worked in a mostly guys office, I had a bottle of nail polish in a sickening glittery pink. It was applied to staplers, pens, tape dispensers, etc. that resided in or on my desk. If one went missing, easy to spot the offender. I would take it back and (for repeat offenders) leave a floofy little dollar-store ballerina toy glued to their desk with an adhesive that only I knew the solvent to remove. (helps to be a hobbyist with large array of adhesives). They ganged up and took every piece of pink-glittered equipment. Every desk AND CHAIR the next morning had several ballerinas. They relented. BTW, my supervisor was a woman, and amused.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020