back to article Here's to beer, without which we'd never have the audacity to Google an error message at 3am

Welcome back to On Call, The Register's weekly dive into the world of those who live in dread of the surprise pager or midnight phone jangle. Today's tale comes from a reader we'll call "Jordan", who was working at a systems integrator a few short years ago. He and his chum (who was put into the Reg anonymiser and spat out as …

  1. Nick Kew

    Never mind the beer ...

    That's exactly what google is for, innit?

    The hour is immaterial. The drink is immaterial. The dramatis personae are immaterial. He googled the problem, and found a fix.

    1. Anonymous Custard

      Re: Never mind the beer ...

      The drink is never immaterial, except of course for when it's absent or empty...

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: Never mind the beer ...

        Unless it's a spirit.

        1. BillG

          My Personal Rule

          My personal rule - if I am not sober I do not answer work phone calls and I do not reply to work emails.

          Experience has taught me that the temporary consequences of me not answering are a lot less than the permanent damage I can do to myself & my career if I have an impaired conversation.

    2. macjules

      Re: Never mind the beer ...

      Now, trying doing that after you have been trying about 10 different gins during the evening and your boss phones wanting "urgent help understanding New Relic reports. Luckily "whydontchajustfeckoffandcallmeonmonday" does not come across clearly enough.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Never mind the beer ...

      Knowing how to phrase a search to get the best results is why so many family and friend think I am a computer God.

      I do get pissed when the same old question gets asked over and over; when simply typing the error message into google gives you the answer on any one of the first 5,000 hits.

      1. tekHedd

        Re: Never mind the beer ...

        "...simply typing the error message into google gives you the answer on any one of the first 5,000 hits"

        Well, once you manually quote half the words it does. "<error message> is not very common, so we didn't search for it. Here are some shopping results for things we noticed you've browsed to on other web sites that you thought we weren't tracking. Did you actually want to search for <error message> instead?"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Never mind the beer ...

          AH, but I block 99% of trackers - including all Google Trackers; only Amazon and GCHQ know what I am up to on the interwebs.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Never mind the beer ...

      without enough beer in you, you MIGHT have chosen a different path first. Instead, the alcohol goodness went straight to the lazy section of the brain and said "just google the error message and get this over with".

      1. macjules

        Re: Never mind the beer ...

        But with the Magic Search engine, you know that you can type anything in to Google at 2am when you are slaughtered and it will still come up with exactly what you wanted.

    5. CommanderGalaxian

      Re: Never mind the beer ...

      To be fair, Jordan isn't that bad. It's when somebody (not infrequently a know-it-all "manager") googles and in that situation turns and says "Have you ever heard of this hosts file thing?"

      And the most annoying thing is, the cunt will more than happily take all the credit for "sorting" the problem.

  2. Martin Summers Silver badge

    My excuse with Googling something to fix a technical issue is that I'm an expert at doing it. It's not cheating, because you have to understand what you're doing and the context of the issue to implement the fix. This as well as understanding what the fix will do and whether it is appropriate and it's impact on everything else.

    Sometimes trying to find something sensible amongst the thousands of pages of misleading information and wrong answers on technical forums is like digging for gold and a skill in itself.

    1. Nick Kew

      Of course. Googling is just today's RTFM, with the huge advantage that TFM hasn't gone permanently missing as it routinely used to do.

      Now consider the quality of many FMs - not least those for the most sophisticated and expensive packages - and the information on Google (when filtered through the basic techiedom of a Reg reader) is b***** brilliant by comparison.

      1. not.known@this.address

        <quote> ...with the huge advantage that TFM hasn't gone permanently missing as it routinely used to do.</quote>

        Or even more fun is a PDF which, because the manufacturer is run by a tight-fisted bunch of accountants, is not supplied on CD or DVD but is only available on the machine which is now refusing to boot because of an issue you can't fix 'cos the answer is in the manual...

        A bit like putting the Recovery Partition of a Windows computer on the "Primary" (as in, ONLY) HDD and forgetting to tell the non-technical purchasers that they should burn it to CD or DVD in case the HDD dies...

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

          even more fun, the help files on the CD require them to be installed to an IIS server and doesn't work in Edge/Firefox/Chrome so you are forced to use IE (in Enterprise Mode)

        2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

          Even more fun when the unit doesn't ship with a optical drive........

          (Yes I know burn the iso to a USB - The majority of my users are not the sharpest pitchfork in the toaster).

      2. Vometia Munro Silver badge

        It's kinda scary when your GP looks stuff up on Google, though. Thankfully my actual GP hasn't done that but I have encountered those who do and it's kinda... well, exceedingly bizarre and a bit surreal.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Scarily enough my GP googled my condition in front of me with week, because he wasn't familiar with it! It was my yearly check-up so nothing serious.

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

            GP's are the medical equivalent of level one support...

            1. Adrian Midgley 1


              There are several levels below.

            2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

              The hint is in their name - General practitioner. They are the gateway to specialists. A couple of years ago I had to take a couple of photos* of the superflous dangly bits in my throat to my doctor - he'd never seen the condition in real life before, and not being an ENT specialist it was something he didn't have the equipment to examine himself, but my photos were enough to gateway me to an ENT chap.

              *A USB miniuture camera has more uses than examining hard-to-see electronic equipment ;)

              1. eionmac

                Often used to send photos to my dentist.

        2. cream wobbly

          And to the point of the chap who started this thread with "my excuse", the difference is that a qualified GP will interpret the results differently from a casual googler. It's really not an excuse, it's an explanation. I'm not going to stop it because it works well.

          * I peanut butter it for management with "consulting Stack Exchange", because that's where most of the useful results come from.

        3. Adrian Midgley 1

          She may find

          an article written by other GPs and specialists, and editable by her.

          Or she may find something poured out by managers.

        4. ICPurvis47

          GP or Dentist?

          I am trying to register with an NHS Dentist, they are very hard to find around the welsh borders. I phoned one practice and had a very technical discussion with a nice lady dentist about the problem I am encountering. She said afterwards that she was impressed by my technical knowledge, and asked whether I had a background in dentistry. I replied that no, I didn't, but that Google was my friend, and as an engineer, I like to get all the relevant facts at my fingertips before I open my mouth (no pun intended). I am now on their waiting list, but have been warned that it could be up to 12 months before I reach the top of the list.

        5. AkodoGilador

          The above applies to doctors, too:

          "Sometimes trying to find something sensible amongst the thousands of pages of misleading information and wrong answers on technical forums is like digging for gold and a skill in itself."


          1. Vometia Munro Silver badge

            Oh, absolutely. Some days the degree of filtering just makes my head hurt way too much; and particular subjects can make pretty much every day "some days".

          2. heyrick Silver badge

            The above applies to doctors, too

            Fun Google game if you are bored... Google a symptom. Anything, split fingernail to itchy penis. It won't take long until you find a condition where that is a symptom, and the end result is "you will die slowly and in pain".

            There's a lot to be said for NOT looking up medical conditions until you have enough experience to sort out the likely (minor ailment) from the unlikely (agony-death).

    2. Oh Matron!

      No excuse needed.

      There are two things that I learnt doing my BSc IT degree that I still use today.

      1. The 7 layer OSI model

      2. How to research / search

      Google does still support some rudimentary Boolean logic in search terms, and knowing this, as well as using search term can get you very quickly to the right answer

      Even as an Apple Genius, you were taught to use the very excellent Apple Technician Guides to diagnose and fix problems. After watching two of my ex colleagues literally replace every component of an iMac only to have it fail POST, a quick shuffties of the Technician guide, replacement of RAM with known good, and up it boots.

      RTFM will outlive nearly every technical mantra there is, apart from turning it off and on again.

      1. Mr Sceptical

        THIS times one meeeeeelion

        "RTFM will outlive nearly every technical mantra there is, apart from turning it off and on again."

        I can only upvote once, so cheers! --->

      2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        RTFM will outlive nearly every technical mantra there is, apart from turning it off and on again.

        And turning it off and on again is usually on the first page of TFM ;)

        1. MCMLXV

          I'm surprised we haven't heard anything from T.F.M. Reader yet :)

      3. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Apparently checking the RAM seating & replacing with known good RAM has ceased to be (One of) the first steps* then.

        *Along with counting POST Beep\LED error codes.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "Along with counting POST Beep\LED error codes."

          Few do that these days. Lenovos will sometimes play a little tune which you need to play into a phone app to get a diagnostic result from though. A stupid technological solution to not fix a non-problem.

      4. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        There are two things that I learnt doing my BSc IT degree that I still use today.

        1. The 7 layer OSI model

        Did you also learn that most of the problems occur at OSI layer 8? And I even encountered a couple of problems at OSI layer 9.

        1. Yes Me Silver badge

          Good grief

          +1 to layers 8 and 9, but WTF use is there in the concept of layers 1 to 7? It isn't as if the Internet actually respects the OSI model in any way, shape or form.

          1. Trixr

            Re: Good grief

            Yeah, the only time it's actually been of any use to me is to do technobabble so Networks will actually listen to what I'm saying.

            Honestly, it boils down to "is the plumbing working?" (connectivity, NIC, cable, drivers), "can a packet get there on the right port" (routing, firewall), and then the rest is "application layer" almost always.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I've made quite a good living from companies that employ diagnostic technicians who think they are above having to RTFM or follow the diagnostic path presented to them onscreen, usually because 'it wouldn't be that' - which it invariably is.....

      6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Google does still support some rudimentary Boolean logic in search terms"

        But they're doing their best to fix that.

        1. Simon Reed

          Absolutely. Once Upon A Time, Google followed Boolean operators fully, and it worked well for those of us who understood how to use them. Around the same time they 'improved' by adding synonyms which clutter the results with irrelevances.

    3. Outski

      Googling: referred to in our team as escalating to level 4

      Obvious Friday icon ----->

      1. Anonymous Custard

        Name of the game?

        So what is the equivalent of percussive maintenance, but using Google instead of a hammer or similar blunt instrument?

        Or is Google classed as one these days?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Googling a problem is not science it's an art form. You first have to understand what it is you are trying to do/fix then you have to understand how it's supposed to work and the process. Only then can you use search to fix the problem unless of course it's a straight forward error message however nine times out of ten it's not and the potential to make it worse is always a pitfall you have to avoid.

      1. stiine Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        another pitfall

        Another pitfall is being the first person to ever encounter a particular error. I too have google-fu, and sometimes it amazes me how many error message I get don't show up in google search results. All I can think is: Come on! Surely they indexed the source code for this application from GitHub or elsewhere and the error messages have to be in the source code, right? Right?

        Sometimes I'll RDP into a machine in another state or on another continent and run the same search from there just to see if they are hiding things from me....

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: another pitfall

          Surely they indexed the source code for this application from GitHub or elsewhere and the error messages have to be in the source code, right? Right?

          I've written enough code where the error codes are built up from various parts and the error message isn't in the source at all but retrieved using the error code (iSeries using message files), but my source code isn't on GitHub either.

    5. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Also, keep yourself current with Google's search operators..

        top tips thanks!

      2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Also, keep yourself current with Google's search operators..

        And now as a clickable link.

        1. Bluto Nash
          Thumb Up

          Re: Also, keep yourself current with Google's search operators..

          Plain Text Linker Add-On for Firefox made it clickable the first time, too... :-)

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Also, keep yourself current with Google's search operators..

            But not everybody is using Firefox, leave alone that add-on.

            1. Trixr

              Re: Also, keep yourself current with Google's search operators..

              But for those of us who ARE using Firefox, knowing about the add-on might be handy.

              I mean, "I have no use for something therefore no-one else could possibly care" is not really a spectacular way of going through life.

              1. TSM

                Re: Also, keep yourself current with Google's search operators..

                If you're using Firefox - as I am - then there's no need for the add-on. If your text selection looks like a URL Firefox adds the appropriate options to the context menu. Just select the URL, right-click, "Open link in new tab", simple as that.

  3. Martin-R

    Not sure about working under the influence (well not anything critical!) but while hungover can definitely be good! Forces you to concentrate and actually read the code properly rather than skimming over it thinking "I know the problem's not in there..."

    1. defiler

      Programming assembly on one beer was good for just that reason. It dumbed me down enough to think in assembly rather than skimming concepts at a higher level.

      Doing a once-through write whilst sober, and then a bug check after a beer was good for finding niggles.

      1. Vometia Munro Silver badge

        I've occasionally(ish) written chunks of code under the influence of several alcoholic concoctions in the past. Nothing part of a core system, for the record, just my various background "glueware"-type projects, but I've noticed they tend to be more creative than I would be normally. Sometimes they're a wonderful solution to a problem inasmuch as they work in a nice, concise way that I couldn't previously figure out, but sober me can't quite understand the reasoning, nor how I managed to imagine it into existence. Which is something that perturbs me a little.

        1. Mark 85

          @Vometia Munro

          but sober me can't quite understand the reasoning, nor how I managed to imagine it into existence.

          The beer gods work in mysterious ways. Just accept that fact.

        2. Tomato Krill

          Worth a sober session afterwards cleaning up the language though - few of those methods were given pretty fruity names under the influence...

        3. Ptol

          I've had a couple of bosses in my early career that would take me out for 3 pints before setting me off on some complex programming stuff. I'd consistently get the core of a complex problem implemented in an afternoon, and spend the following morning dealing with the compiler not recognising my genius (aka syntax errors)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Having once spent an entire shift in a diagnostic centre popping to and from the toilet, I cannot agree that a hangover helps in problem resolution. We had a team nigh out of the Friday and I was the unlucky stooge who was scheduled on at 8AM Saturday. I had arranged a lift to and from work with an older more sensible colleague as I knew it was going to be a bit of a session but hadn't really expected to finish drinking at 2 am not get home until 3 then be up dressed and ready at 7. It was a 12 hour shift but felt more like 12 days.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        I read that as a 12 hour shit.....

    3. Chris King

      I've passed exams I know I would have failed, if I had faced them stone-cold sober.

      So here's to Vitamin Beer, the under-rated study aid !

      1. Alien8n

        I took one A level after finishing off the remaining beers from the night before. Guess which one I got the highest grade for? There is something to be said for enough beer to give you the confidence to get on with the task, but not so much that you can't see the exam paper straight

  4. Rich 11

    Milton Keynes nightlife

    he and Tim "pushed the Milton Keynes nightlife to the limits"

    Translation: they got wasted and buggered a concrete cow.

    [Edit: Oops, I misread 'nightlife' as 'wildlife'. Never mind.]

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Milton Keynes nightlife

      Unfair. I'm sure those abrasions have a perfectly logical explanation.

      Those chemical burns, tho'...

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Milton Keynes nightlife

        Which brings me back to the story of a chap nicknamed "Pebbledash", so named because while in a secluded corner of a building covered in the stuff, lost his stuff into the mouth of a lady that was until that point relishing his manhood, who promptly showed her displeasure by scraping the exposed head along the exterior wall.

        Icon...Muff said I mean Nuff..

    2. Alister
      Thumb Up

      Re: Milton Keynes nightlife

      Damn, you beat me to it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Milton Keynes nightlife

      "Oops, I misread 'nightlife' as 'wildlife'."

      Pretty much the same thing as far as Milton Keynes is concerned.

    4. Chris G

      Re: Milton Keynes nightlife

      Buggering a concrete cow?

      That's rough!

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Milton Keynes nightlife

        Not if you polish it first ;)

  5. David Robinson 1

    Coding under the influence

    In my younger days, I did some of my best coding on personal projects while under the influence of an alcohol buzz. There's even the obligatory XKCD cartoon for this:

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Coding under the influence

      You can apply the same effect to playing pool, I'm not that great at pool, not terrible but not good. However on a night out if I hit that sweet spot I can 8 ball someone, never lasts though.

      1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

        Re: Coding under the influence

        Then the chances are that you're either too tense, or too worried about making a mistake.

        A small amount of alcohol will decrease each of these, and will increase the ability of most players by allowing them to relax or to ignore the potential for failure.

        One easy way to improve your game is to learn to cue in a straight line. Get hold of a square bottle, Jack Daniels or Jim Beam work fine. And then attempt to cue down the neck of the bottle. If the cue keeps touching the side of bottle neck then your cue is not travelling in a straight line. Once you've trained yourself to be able to cue down the neck of the bottle consistently you should find your game has improved and become much more consistent.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Coding under the influence

          I got to the black from the break once, opponent hadnt even got to pick a cue up, then missed the fairly easy black due to the pressure

          1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

            Re: Coding under the influence

            Have been on both sides of that equation too often.

            I found that one of the best ways to get past the black ball jitters was to live in the moment. The last shot doesn't matter, the next shot doesn't matter (except the need to gain the right cue ball position), the current shot is all. And even then it's just a shot .... something I've done thousands of time before. When I could do this I won way more games than I lost, some of which I had no right to win at all.

            The downside to getting into the moment is that you can easily lose the enjoyment of actually playing the game well. Each shot is forgotten the instant it's over, and in the end all you have is the satisfaction of shaking your opponent's hand.

        2. Chris G

          Re: Coding under the influence

          The method for emptying the JD bottle so that you can lay it down may impact your cuing action.

          1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

            Re: Coding under the influence

            True! You do have to go with the "Here's one I prepared earlier!"

            And if you're playing pool in the UK you want to go for a 35cl bottle, which has a neck at just the right height to 'simulate' a UK cue ball.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Coding under the influence

          I'll stick with Neuropseudoscience and brain waves aligning or it could just be the beer. Who really knows? On a side note I've never dropped a kebab on the way back from the pub so there must be some sort of magical science at play.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Coding under the influence

            On a side note I've never dropped a kebab on the way back from the pub so there must be some sort of magical science at play.

            That is known as the magic of Lesmosyne, the goddes of forgetting and the often forgotten sister of Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Coding under the influence

              I like your thinking however regardless of drink I forget nothing. I even remember my last kebab six months ago and stopping off at a mccolls for a bottle of lambrini on the way home, the dogs had most of it to be fair (the kebab obviously). I also remember my best kebab which was an £8 monster from a kebab shop in ashton-under-lyne opposite the baths back in 1994 that eventually closed due to hygiene issues. Memory can be a blessing and a curse.

              1. Alien8n

                Re: Coding under the influence

                Much enjoyment can be got from a memory that remains intact regardless of alcohol intake. Only once have I forgotten the events of a night out. I remember everything from that night with the exception of how I got from the bottom of the stairs to getting into bed.

              2. MrBanana

                Re: Coding under the influence

                My most memorable kebab was in Cambridge. While waiting to be served, past 11pm, very busy, a pair of ne'er-do-wells took a crowbar to the fag machine on the back wall. It came off pretty easily, and they then headed off down down the road with it. The speed at which the guys serving vaulted the counter was Olympic (they were Greek). One of them was still holding his mahoosive knife that they use for slicing the kebab meat off the skewer. And shouting, there was lots of shouting.

              3. LadyK

                Re: Coding under the influence

                I remember that place.....alongside the even dodgier place near to the RBS over the road from Lidl (used to be Spread Eagle) with the even more avoidable health rating. Usually only ever ventured when being ejected from the nightclub formally known as Yuppies at 3am when the bouncers had had enough.

                In fact at some point we were probably trawling the same pubs in 1994, AUL was legendary cos a beer crawl was simply a stumble from one pub to the next without having to focus too much. Shame it all ended the way it did

        4. Dr. Ellen

          Re: Coding under the influence

          I'm rather dependent on thyroid meds, and find beer a useful calibration device. If I drink a beer and fall asleep, I'm under-stimulated. If I start running more smoothly, I was overstimulated. Helps me maintain an even keel.

        5. Rich 11

          Re: Coding under the influence

          Get hold of a square bottle, Jack Daniels or Jim Beam work fine.

          The moment I get hold of one of those is the moment when I lose all interest in playing pool.

    2. Aladdin Sane

      Re: Coding under the influence

      Back when I was in a band, we always played better after a beer.

      1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

        Re: Coding under the influence

        Were you actually better, or did the "beer goggles^w headphones" just make you think so?

      2. keith_w

        Re: Coding under the influence

        The listeners probably thought you sounded better after a beer or two as well, even if you hadn't had one.

    3. G.Y.

      Pauli Re: Coding under the influence

      Wolfgang Pauli was reputed to need schnapps to do his good physics

      1. Ochib

        Re: Pauli Coding under the influence

        Paul Erdős took amphetamines, despite the concern of his friends, one of whom (Ron Graham) bet him $500 that he could not stop taking the drug for a month. Erdős won the bet, but complained that during his abstinence, mathematics had been set back by a month: "Before, when I looked at a piece of blank paper my mind was filled with ideas. Now all I see is a blank piece of paper." After he won the bet, he promptly resumed his amphetamine use.

        1. Chris King

          Re: Pauli Coding under the influence

          Spotted on a couple of memes recently...

          "I'm addicted to drinking brake fluid, but I can stop any time I want".

    4. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Coding under the influence

      I wish I could find and link the relevant Mitchell and Webb sketch on the "Innebriati" (I know it was That Mitchell and Webb Look S04E04) Unfortunately it seems to have been scoured from Youtube.

      1. UncleNick

        Re: Coding under the influence

        Highlight word - right click - "search google for" - first result.

        This one?

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Coding under the influence

          Possibly, but it's blocked on my side of the North Sea, so I couldn't tell.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Coding under the influence

        Thanks - spent a fruitful half hour watching this episode -

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Coding under the influence

          Thats the one. The sketch I meant starts at 26:20 (last one of the episode).

  6. defiler

    Fuck SCVMM

    I'm just putting that one out there just now, because I'm cobbling together SQL to strip an orphaned Hyper-V host out of the database. And I'm trying to catch the bugs in somebody else's instructions so that it doesn't delete *all* the NICs from *all* the hosts in one go.

    The relevance? Not much, but it's the Edinburgh Festival and I shall be imbibing later on. I may be called upon to give insight whilst drunk. --->

    And SCVMM? I like Hyper-V (mostly), but SCVMM sucks more balls than Ms Pacman...

  7. Sgt_Oddball

    I find it depends on the drink...

    If its more than a couple of beers then I'll try anything and come up with some awe-inspiringly stupid solutions to problems (though not wrong per say....). Usually in the style of 'hold my beer'.

    On whisk(e)y however, 2 and a half measures is great for bug hunting.

    That said I'm glad I gave up smoking all those years ago. Always made the hangover so much worse.

  8. Ochib

    Here’s to alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Homer Simpson, SysAdmin of the Year.

  9. Totally not a Cylon

    As told at college

    I was taught at college that a good engineer doesn't know everything but they know where to find the info they need.

    Back then it meant which 3inch thick book it was in, now it means which search pattern in which engine will find it quickest.

    Most solutions are found by doing the 'idiot checks' which are easier to suggest when slightly dis-inhibited by alcohol. Plus next day one can always say "You knew I'd been drinking what did you expect?"

  10. Omgwtfbbqtime

    Very much reminiscent of 1980s military.

    If you can't do your job drunk you don't deserve to have the job or be allowed beer!

  11. Blockchain commentard

    Years ago, working for a bank doing 24 hour shifts in the mainframe department, midnight shift started at 11pm, back when pubs shut at 11pm. Was Christmas time, well late in the year anyway. Can't even remember going into work let alone understanding why I did the night shift and morning shift's work. They complained to the afternoon shift that I'd left them sod all to do so they had to sit around reading newspapers and drinking tea all day (pre-internet this was). Fortuneately the afternoon shift didn't mention I'd turned up so p!$$ed, I would barely walk, as they told me the following day!!! This was in the days when going to 'lunch' meant a few pints of Diamond White (which are a source of many more stories).

  12. OssianScotland

    Under the Influence...

    Far too many years ago, writing my Honours Dissertation on Ice Ages - this was back in the days before "Global Warming" when the next glacial was coming "real soon now" - I had one or two drinks and rattled off 1500 words on Ice Ages in Fiction. A couple of weeks later, I came across my supervisor, walking across campus and laughing hysterically. On closer approach, I realised he was holding draft N (where N=>infinity) of said dissertation, and had just got to that bit.

    We then had a discussion about and he told me to leave that section in - it must have worked, as I ended up with a First and a PhD studentship....

    Separately, the dissertation was supposed to be "around 10,000 words". Some time before submission, I told him I was going to be "a bit over" - he said that was OK, and suggested I might get to as much as 15,000. I told him I was then "at 20,000 words and counting", and ended up over 25,000 (and enjoyed writing all of it). I got away with it, but these days Universities take word counts far more rigorously, and wouldn't even accept such an overrun.

  13. Admiral Grace Hopper

    The Universal Manual

    These days Google is a more up-to-date and accurate technical manual, installation and user guide than anything published by by most of our suppliers. The Red Hat documentation is still worth accessing in its own right, but for how long under the new owners remains to be seen.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: The Universal Manual

      The Red Hat documentation is still worth accessing in its own right, but for how long under the new owners remains to be seen.

      Considering the documentation those new owners have on the iSeries, the Red Hat documentation might even improve.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Google is only useful if you have the kind of easy problems that someone with a clue can resolve on their own. If you know your stuff, and run into a problem you can't solve and try Google, 99% of the results are irrelevant, useless, misleading, wrong or all four.

      Once in a while you will find the right answer, but only because someone took the time to post to a question to some type of forum, and someone who knows their stuff took the time to answer (or the original questioner eventually solved it and was nice enough to come back and provide the answer)

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Bullshit

        Google is also useful to find IBM documentation. The IBM documentation is very good, but the index of it isn't.

      2. Tomato Krill

        Re: Bullshit

        The bigger issue is people not returning to debrief.

        Question, often well written (and hence easily found by search) followed by suggestions but nothing from OP to break down the fix when it was found. Makes it hugely inefficient, much more than it needed to be.

      3. stiine Silver badge

        Re: Bullshit

        If you can't separate the wheat from the chaff, you should not use google to search for answers.

        I never use any information gleaned from a single stackexchange thread, or any personal blog unless I can confirm it elsewhere. If I cant' confirm it elsewhere, I'll poweroff, snapshot, power on and test knowing that I have an image to revert to in case the cure is worse than the problem itself.

  14. KittenHuffer Silver badge

    I remember on a Unix course decades ago the lecturer saying that he had tried to convince his boss that learning Unix required you to be in the same state as the students that wrote it ...... but that his boss wouldn't stump up the hard drugs for that to happen!

    1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

      "required you to be in the same state as the students that wrote it"

      New Jersey??!

      1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

        I believe he was refering to BS, which came out of University of California, Berkeley.

        I seem to remember there was a command called BIFF, which would notify you of incoming emails, and was named after Biff, a dog on campus that would let students know the mailman had arrived by barking his head off.

        1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

          Dumb ass! That was supposed to be BSD not BS!!! I think my internal spellchecker kicked in for that one!

          1. OssianScotland

            Freudian Slip

            No, I think you got it right the first time

  15. GlenP Silver badge

    Google use for problem solving is fine, it used to be a much better search engine for the AS/400 support site than the one provided by IBM1

    I will confess to having had to connect remotely from a bar last weekend, but I'd only managed one pint at that point so it was fairly safe.

  16. Mr Dogshit

    Last time I looked it was hosts file, not "host" file.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      In the original story, it was probably the "hoshts" file, given the beer.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Late nights

    Two decades ago while working helldesk for a British ISP, you ncould always tell when the systems team got back from the pub because the support queues exploded. No, qmail does *not* need recompiling....

  18. BigAndos

    It still amazes me just how many IT workers are incapable of using Google and doing any research into an issue themselves! 9/10 times someone comes to me asking for technical guidance with an error message and the answer is the top result on google...

    1. Mr Sceptical

      Not just IT!

      How many queries do you get from coworkers asking a question about almost any topic that can be solved in the first hit on any serch engine (Bing excepted)!

    2. defiler

      That's because you, like me (and many others), are a solution machine. People are lazy and will throw you the question and regard the problem solved.

      I get it all the time with people who should damn well know better.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "I get it all the time with people who should damn well know better."

        I have been known to respond by emailing them a "solution" that is a just a link to the Google results.

    3. Fred Daggy Silver badge

      If the answer can be found by (1) on the helpdesk page (now a wiki), or (2) as one of the top 3 sites in Google, the coworker owes me 5 zorkmids, or a beer, in local currency. Nearest working colleague owes me his firstborn (grandchild).

    4. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      "It still amazes me just how many IT workers are incapable of using Google"

      I usually email or IM thost simple answers as an lmgtfy URL, and select Bing as the engine. Lessens my support burdens though the bosses don't seen to appreciate it.

    5. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      These situations are where the solution I provide is a simple link to

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    never mind the beer...

    Something happened with the non-liquid refreshment just the other day... not a work incident.

    The rest of the family is away so I am rolling some fat ones, and eventually run out of the little bits of card i use for the filter, so i delve into the paper recycling box. First suitable bit of card appears to be from the post office, about a parcel that was delivered while we were away... must have been dumped with the usual ream of junk mail and pizza leaflets. Turns out it was an irreplaceable parcel with a prize that my daughter won, even including £50 in banknotes!

    All saved by the weed.

  20. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    Not on booze...

    Many, many moons ago I was enjoying a sunny afternoon in the swimming pool. My excuse: I was still at university at that time, so this is obviously no representation of my work ethics. Until the phone rang - a colleague ran into some sort of problem. That was deep in the pre-smart phone era and with no computer, let alone internet connection, nor any book/manual at hand. Mind you, I was actually in the water. Having only a cordless phone in my hand and no clue at all, I simply started to ask questions, trying to understand the very abstract problem. That is, until I until my colleague found the solution.

    To these days I still haven't got the slightest idea what the actual problem was. But my colleague had been deeply grateful for my invaluable help. And I've made a career out of it and became auditor.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Not on booze...

      One of the people I worked for was a hero for providing "no help whatsoever". They had no technical knowledge at all but were brilliant at listening and leading one through explaining a problem until the light came on.

      For all those glorious "D'oh!" moments ->

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Not on booze...

        Also known as Rubber Duck Debugging

        1. Outski

          Re: Not on booze...

          Or the Cardboard Consultant - as you patiently explain to them what you're trying to achieve and how, the lightbulb goes on...

          Cardboard Consultants need beer just as much as fleshy ones --->

          1. Ken Shabby
    2. Gonzo_the_Geek

      Re: Not on booze...

      Being the rubber duck is my super-power I think, although I do have enough technical knowledge to stop the one doing the talking going down down blind alleys.

  21. lowjik



    The art of asking The Big G the right question, phrased in the right way, so as to get a workable answer in the first couple of results and judicially applying said answer to bring about a solution

  22. ColinPa

    External memory

    Having been in support, I learned it was worth blogging/documenting the solutions to problems, to benefit others. It is amazing the number of times Ive searched for a problem and found I had already documented the solution. My short term memory is not what it was - Ive forgotten what it was.

    1. Red Bren
      Paris Hilton

      Re: External memory

      I have no short term memory, or long term memory, or short term memory...

    2. Chris King

      Re: External memory

      My memory plays tricks on me sometimes, it's like one of those things, round and full of little holes so you can drain stuff, it'll come back to me soon enough.

      I also make sure to take notes when I come up with a solution to something, because I just know I'll forget it otherwise and have to start from scratch...

      SIEVE !!!! That's what I was thinking of !

      1. Tim99 Silver badge

        Re: External memory

        I thought you meant colander, or is that something that tells you what the date is?

        1. Vincent Ballard

          Re: External memory

          Wikipedia is the thing that tells you what the date is. Apparently it's the fruit of a palm tree.

          1. Ken Shabby

            Re: External memory

            Except when in Aus...

      2. TimMaher Silver badge

        Re: External memory

        You’ve been watching “Eight out of ten cats does Countdown”.

        Probably on the couch with a beer?

  23. Mark Manderson

    thats what separates average engineers out from the best engineers IMO, if your not fully sure about it first!

    hell dont we all just love lmgtfy?

  24. anothercynic Silver badge

    That wouldn't be...

    ... Santander (the UK bank), would it? They have (had) some systems integrators in Milton Keynes.


  25. Kevin Fairhurst

    Once upon a time I worked on the Commissions system at a mobile telco... I haven't the foggiest what was going live that night but I made it clear to the people doing the deployment that I was going to be unavailable, as I was going to see Iron Maiden at Brixton Academy (which means, thanks to SongKick I can tell you it was 20th March 2002).

    So having thoroughly enjoyed the gig, and many alcoholic beverages with mates, I'm off the last tube and waiting for the night bus home. And my phone rings. I don't recall any of the conversation, but something had gone wrong, and I was being asked if I could help them identify what!

    My boss said he had two things to note... I was quite obviously hammered, and yet was giving the exact SQL commands for him to run with no problems whatsoever. And I was very loud, so half of south London probably heard what I was saying :)

  26. Chris King

    Grading problem difficulty by number of pints

    In one of my early jobs, I used to solve lots of technical issues over a beer with one of my managers. Most of them were solved after the first or second pint, but he did occasionally throw me a "three-pinter" when everyone else had given up on the problem.

    Problem solved - but what price my liver ? Cheers !

  27. Fred Daggy Silver badge

    One particular Thursday evening, we got stuck in to the Whiskey. Aided by 3 colleagues and a bored barmen. Then the lock-in. Finished when I should have already been at work and called in sick. Cue three hours later and our biggest market local Exchange 5.5 raid bites the dust. Spend Friday arvo feeling a whiter shade of pale while talking them through a tape restore of MSX databse.

    Then drove through the night to Germany for a 21st birthday party the next day. Party finished also during the daylight hours of sunday. Talked colleagues through Exchange integrity check of MSX database from midnight to 6am monday morning, while driving back to said abode. 4 hours sleep over three days.

    Home, shower, shave, off to work I go.

    Turned up looking worse for wear and I am sure smelling like brewery. To a nice smiling boss and an thank you from Senior Management for saving the business.

    Not that young anymore and I'm sure a hangover like that one would now take me a week to recover.

  28. Jonathon Green

    “Have you checked the hosts file?” is generally a good opening gambit regardless of alcohol consumption or google input...

  29. Steve Kerr

    Emergency work for a spanish bank

    Had to do some emergency work for a Spanish bank once to help move a banking operation from the Caymans to Jersey after the Caymans got hit by a bad hurricane many years ago. Had to fly to Jersey in an emergency and with no Caymans staff, some vague assertions of help and not much else, try to get global payments back up.

    That's the background.

    Turned up, was there for a couple of hours when the Spanish staff said we were all going for lunch, my response being "Er...I just got here"

    Lunch + Beer, wine, shots.

    Back to office

    Work for a few more hours

    "We're going to dinner now"

    Dinner + Beer, wine, shots.

    Stagger back to office, stare at wavy screen and continue until midnight....

    Repeat for 5 days

    What came out of this, was working payments, staff they found in the caymans and flew over and a happy bank.

    5 day working bender paid for by Spanish bank and bender instigated by Spanish staff on full expenses paid!

  30. Stevie


    Pfft! I once recovered an entire database, by hand, *after* the trainees had been given a free hand to effect "repairs" and thus turned a "puppy crapped on the carpet" problem into "and then the roomba was left alone in the same room for three hours" one.

    Did it on a Saturday night. Did it before Google was invented. Did it on a skinful of Bacardi. Did it over the phone spelling stuff character by character to a production controller.

    Effected complete recovery and repair in splendid order, saved the day and brought the system online before the Sunday schedule was seriously impacted.

    Or so I'm told. I remember nothing of the event because I had drunk so much rum.

    And yes, this was a wake-up call on every level.

  31. chivo243 Silver badge

    Remote support while on Holiday

    a few years back, I was on holiday in the land of Wine and Cheese, and lunchtime quaffing. I had finished a nice lunch at the in-laws house, was on my third or forth glass of wine and cheese after lunch, and I get a text one of our DC's gave up the ghost. Gladly I didn't have to talk to anyone as my Franglish was kicking in. I sent an email back with my advice within 30 or so minutes. Not one word of my advice was heeded, it was a nice return to work ~ \s

  32. This post has been deleted by its author

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Semi-conscious troubleshooting

    At a former job, I was on call a lot. It became a lifestyle.

    The NOC would call at some wee hour to escalate a problem, apologizing for waking me up. I'd politely reassure the caller that I hadn't just been dead asleep, and proceed to walk them through some technical solution.

    This became such a routine that I didn't remember any of it. My girlfriend would tell me the next morning, or I'd see a call logged on my phone. Then I'd fish around at work to learn what happened on the call. Somehow this didn't go horribly wrong, though I got a reputation as someone who never slept.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Semi-conscious troubleshooting

      That gives a whole new meaning to earning your money asleep.

  34. earl grey

    I don't remember being called

    But i was often told on a prior employment that i had been called during the night and had apparently given them the right help and then fallen back asleep and never recalled having been on the phone. I was so much younger then...

  35. jonnycando

    Not a professional.......

    But I do like breaking OS's.....and I do......verbose boots let the errors scroll by, and yes.....Google is a great help sorting out the messes I might make.

  36. shedied


    Makes me wonder if he had clicked on I'm feeling lucky that night.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's a reason

    Lmgtfy is a thing

  38. Shooter

    Drunken troubleshooting

    About 25 years ago, when I was transitioning into industrial maintenance, an old army buddy and his wife were visiting over the Christmas holidays. We'd spent the evening drinking, went back home and everybody retired for the night. Just as I was turning the lights out, my pager went off in that annoying fashion that they have. Even though it wasn't my week to be on call, I answered the page anyway (new enough at the job to want to appear reasonably eager to please).

    The tech paging me was in full-on panic mode: He had what he swore was an electrical problem at a paper mill, and the entire mill would shut down in about two hours if he didn't get the machine up and running. I told him I was three sheets to the wind and not about to go to work in that condition. He said I was the only one who had answered his cries for help, and he was practically in tears. So I agreed to look at the problem, but he would have to pick me up and drive me back, and under no circumstances would I speak to the customer or touch the equipment - I would just point and tell him what to do.

    Got back to the mill with about 45 minutes left before the shit hit the fan. Several mill supervisors standing around asking dumb questions. We went to the machine in question and shut the door behind us. The original tech showed me the problem - the motor would bump a little, but give no more movement before tripping the overloads.

    I took one look and told him that the motor was fine, but the brake was so far out of adjustment that it wouldn't release. Not an electrical problem at all. Two minutes later everything was running smoothly, and I was in the passenger seat of his truck snoozing while he wrapped up the paperwork and basked in the adulation of a grateful customer!

  39. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Nothing to be ashamed of...

    If you go to an accountant or solicitor's office you will see bookcases full of -er- books with boring titles.

    I have a customer whose name graces the title of a series of books on a very specific aspect of Law: when he speaks he does so with the air of someone who knows what they are on about, regardless of subject, and yes, his library is chock full of books with boring titles.

    I remember the last VAT inspection I had the lead inspector thudded a copy of Tolleys onto the boardroom table before introducing himself - thankfully it remained closed throughout the proceeedings, and the table survived the impact.

    The issue with Google is the amount of "old wives' lales" that appear in the search results, often from people who have a problem and resolving it by doing something that, by complete coincidence, occurred at the same time that the real reason rectified itself - and this is where our skills come in, separating the wheat from the chaff.

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