No problem with the use of "baud", but how are you pronouncing that? *narrows eyes*
Welcome to On Call, our weekly dip into the seemingly bottomless pool of user, er, difficulties, told by the unfortunates who are sat at the other end of the telephone. Today's tale comes from a reader we shall call "Peter", who had the thankless task of answering the telephone calls from users of a certain ISP. It was, Peter …
Or Maud? Cf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89mile_Baudot
Apropos of nothing:-
Come into the garden, Maud,
For the black bat, night, has flown,
Come into the garden, Maud,
I am here at the gate alone;
And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
And the musk of the rose is blown.
Apropos of nothing at all, back in the days of music hall a performer called Marie Lloyd was taking the boards by storm with risque songs and suggestive comedy etc. She was one of the most famous performers of her time really and was known as the "Queen of Music Hall".
She was called before some sort of censorship board to investigate whether or not she was violating public decency laws (or some such other guff) and in response she sang a couple of her most suggestive songs in a totally straight-laced manner and the censors thought "if this is her act then there's no problem with it". Then she proceeded to sing "Come into the garden, Maud" in the most suggestive way possible - a song that the censors' daughters would have known and sung.
She wasn't censored, but she was considered too risque to take place in the first Royal Command performance.
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I've always used baud as a synonym of bits per second.
Found out now I've always been wrong, as the baud is a unit of symbols per second, and modems used "6 to 10 bits per symbol, plus increasing baud rates from 2,400 to 3,429, to create 14.4, 28.8, and 33.6 kbit/s modems"
Read The Register, everyday you learn something new :)
Understanding what baud rate is as important today as it has always been as we, humanity, now require kitten videos streamed on demand in 4K over the air, which necessitates the likes of 1024-QAM and other unworldly modulations achieving more bits per symbol over the air than what was feasible mere years ago over tv cables. Very interesting stuff!
The term Baud rate is one of (if not the most) misused term in electronics and communications. For dial up modems, the highest rate where baud rate and bit rate were the same was 1200 bps (Bell 202) although the Bell 212 was 600 baud (QPSK, 2 bits per symbol).
Many in the industry don't even use the term baud any more (because it is so widely misunderstood and misused) and prefer the term Symbol rate.
I don't think I've ever heard your accent, then, but I'm sure it works for you. The great thing about accents is that, mostly, the sound changes happen together in such a way that words that are distinct in one accent remain distinct in all others. Once you get you ear round what a particular vowel sounds like in an accent, you can usually rotate the whole set round to fit.
But not always. I vaguely recall a lesson at primary school where the teacher was asking for words that are spelled differently and one of my classmates offered "paw", "pour" and "poor". In my book, those are not remotely homophones. They don't even have the same number of syllables.
"...you're giving the customer too much credit. Who says they had a modem?..."
This! I came here to say I was once asked by a woman at work why her dad hadn't been able to get online with the AOL floppy disk that he'd got with a magazine.
"Oh it could be he chose the wrong modem... what sort does he have?"
"What's a modem?"
"The box between your computer and the phone socket*"
"We don't have one of those...."
*Most people had external ones back then. They had none at all.
It must be a very special diagnostic sequence that manages to progress so far without alerting the techie to elements like that.
Not really. If you are on a computer or internet helpdesk, then you probably start with certain assumptions about the caller: that they have a computer, and that they have (or want to have) internet.
I would imagine (as a random example) that a plumber call out service don't usually start by asking "do you have any water pipes" if you ring them...
Over the years I have had variations of this, such as "My printer is not connecting". "What model of printer is it?". "No, I do not actually have one but the manual for this software says to now switch on the printer."
I would love to simply ask 2 questions of any user before attempting to exercise any problem solution:
1) Do you actually have a computer?
2) Do you know how to switch it on?
4) Is there a small child in the house?
My daughter was about 5 years old. We had friends come round but I had a doctors appointment to go to and told my friend to use the computer while I was gone and if he had any problems to get my daughter to fix it for him and there was much laughter on his part.
I arrived home 90 minutes later (why make an appointment for a specific time and bloody doctors always run 60+ minutes late) and was told my friend had a problem but my daughter fixed it for him. I was so proud. She now has 4 Degrees, 2 Bachelors (one being in IT) and 2 Masters. It was destiny.
Paris because she too has tears of joy and pride.
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Had a customer that was moving house and wanted to work from home for a few days while this was happening; no problem, VPN and RDS setup on laptop and tested and working.
On the following Monday, after the weekend, we receive an irate phone call from said customer complaining that the VPN/RDS wouldn't work. A few minutes into the call the customer states "we don't have the internet connected yet"! Apparently, "nobody told her that a VPN and RDS solution requires an working internet connection".
Admittedly we didn't think to ask that question ......
This is the equivalent of
Hello, ACME plumbing, how can I help?
I'm not getting any water out of the tap, can you help?
I'm holding the tap in my hand, it's not connected to anything.
I don't see how anybody who can manage to use a telephone to call for support could make the mistake in the article. I know it's early computing but still.
What did they expect to happen? Were they expecting Star Trek style "HiFI, do my reports"?
There was a story in the papers a few years ago about a couple who were refusing to pay a gas bill
In the end an engineer turned up to cut them off. He asked where the meter was. They explained that they had been trying to tell the gas board for years that they didn't, and never have, use gas
send the CEO a letter notifying them that their network is about to be encrypted and that they should send $1000 in prepaid Visa Cards within 5 business days to the mailing address of their IT department (easily gotten through some simple phone phishing). Also write in the note that if this is made public, then the CEO's stock options will plunge on a rumor that their network has been hacked and the organization is going to have to spend $25,000,000 to recover and it will take 3-6 months before things return to normal.
Drop the letter in a mailbox outside the local office of the utility, after walking in and handing the letter to a staffer to have them confirm that the mailing address is correct (wearing gloves so that the only fingerprints on the envelope are the aforementioned staffer's). Then go have a beer or 5.
Sarcasm, folks, purely sarcasm
I received a letter from my electricity supplier (British Gas at that point) saying that I could receive an extra discount on my bill if I also took gas from them. I rang them up and said that I would love to take gas from them in order to get the extra discount. It took nearly 5 minutes before they worked out that there was no gas supply to my village. And they refused the discount even though I was (in my eyes) fulfilling my end of the deal by agreeing to have their gas.
That wouldn't surprise me. In a slightly Douglas Adams-esqu series of telephone calls, I tried to persuade BG that our house didn't have a gas supply, and that I'd like one to be fitted. They repeatedly assured me that it had, and that bills were being paid for it, which I found slightly difficult to believe as it had been empty for the past 30 years. Eventually, after much going around in circles, they agreed to send an engineer to show me where the gas supply was. Day of the engineer visit, I'd taken the day off work, and sat in the house with flask of coffee, gloves, hat, scarf, big jacket and mobile phone. Eventually, mobile phone rings from engineer saying he's at the house and has found the gas supply, would I care to come and see it? I asked where it was and I'd pop out and see him. He explains what he can see, and I explain he's not at *my* house, he's around two miles away and must have the address confused with someone else. He assures me that he hasn't, and I must have the wrong address. I assure him I haven't got the wrong address, but in vain. Eventually, his colleagues in the call centre tried to convince me that my house was the correct address but in the wrong place...
A friend of mine one once built a house back-to-front. Or at least started to. The stairs ended up the other way round to all the other houses in the street. And they had to do a bit of emergency re-design so that the front door didn't open into the kitchen and the back door into a long corridor leading to said kitchen.
Bit different building one in the wrong place though...
My parents are in an extremely similar situation. They live in the middle of nowhere, the postcode covers a massive area including several large farms. They both have o2 mobile phones which get absolutely zero reception in and around the house, it seems to be in a bit of a black spot because 100 yards down the road in either direction it is absolutely fine. The service checker only allows you to enter a postcode, and has a little dot where it thinks you are, and it says they are fine and have a great signal. Many calls and emails to technical support and o2 still refuse to acknowledge that the little dot on the map is nowhere near where their house is, and while you get a great signal if you go to where the dot on the map is, that isn't much comfort to them. They've asked for an engineer to attend and check, which o2 refuse to do because their system says it's fine.
I have tested with all major networks and get the same blackspot, so there wouldn't be much mileage in switching networks. Only step remaining is to reinforce the wall to accommodate all the banging of heads.
"My parents are in an extremely similar situation. They live in the middle of nowhere..."
I am in the same situation. I'm also in the middle of nowhere, pretty much. I think it's over a mile (!) from here to the Cambridge Science Park. Depending on weather conditions, there's no mobile signal anywhere in the house on any provider. We have to walk out into the street to send or receive SMS messages.
Rather than wall reinforcement, we've gone for a wired connection and WiFi calling, though the latter is flaky enough that we should probably consider the former as well.
"Eventually, his colleagues in the call centre tried to convince me that my house was the correct address but in the wrong place"
It sounds a bit like an insurance company's call centre I had dealings with. Someone had swapped the day and month numbers on SWMBO's date of birth on data entry. As a result they were effectively trying to tell me I'd survived several decade's of marriage without knowing my wife's birthday.
I'd survived several decade's of marriage without knowing my wife's birthday.
I have zero problems remembering the wife's birthday; it's the wedding anniversary that I forget. I know what you are all thinking and that it is easy to do but the problem is that we got married on MY birthday and every year, except for the first one, I have forgotten it. Go figure.
I once had an argument with Brent council as to whether my flat had been demolished. To build a new supermarket a few houses had been demolished, and the supermarket had built a small block of 6 flats to replace them. However, Brent Council hadn't updated their records (bearing in mind the flats had been there for at least 2 years when I moved in) - hence a somewhat bemusing conversation when I tried to register for council tax where I was insisting that I would definitely noticed if I was living in a pile of rubble.
I've had conversations with TransCo where they have insisted until they were blue in the face that I did not have a gas connection, while I was standing by the gas meter attempting to tell them the serial number, in the nice warm gas-heated flat. They still refuse to let me ask a supplier to bill me.
The lady a few doors down had the same problem with NORWEB. The common character is that we both live in flats above converted shops.
Thinking about it, I should run a pipe to her flat, and a cable in the other direction. :D
Npower tried that one on me. Somehow they came up with a bill for a certain number - quite high - of cubic metres used. I tried explaining to them, but they insisted the meter existed and the gas had been used. So I reported the gas leak they claimed existed, and they got told off by the gas grid people.
Npower tried that one on me
SW Water tried to convince my wife that the house she inherited from her gran didn't have, and never had, a water supply.. Since it had been there since about 1901 and had had a water supply for all of that period (and SW Water is the the successor company for the previous water utility and had all their records it was a bit puzzling. In the end, it turned out that they were looking for water meter records and, not finding them, assumed that the house didn't exist. Since the purpose of her call was to get a water meter fitted a certain lack of thought seems to have occurred)
(And since they have outsourced their surveyer duties to an external company that doesn't appear to have access to any of the water company records the surveyer visit (for which she had to pay) was functionally useless since he couldn't even find the stopcock let alone anywhere to put a water meter. She finally persuded them to send one of their own staff who, in short order, found both the stopcock and arranged for a water meter to be fitted.
 In the pavement below the house, down about 30m of very steep slope.
 Which will save us (and the next tenant) a good deal of money since SW Water are charging about £1000/year on the basis that there isn't a water meter and thus they can't measure water usage. So they estimate. Since their estimate was what they would charge for a 4-bed house with full occupancy and this is an unoccupied 2-bed house undergoing renovation we thought that was a tad excessive.
Doesn't surprise me that much, a few years ago I moved into a new house on a new build estate, the first occupant. We started getting gas bills for someone else who couldn't possibly have lived there before us and kept ringing up to tell British Gas no one had ever lived in the house before us, so please stop sending us bills for someone else (we hadn't even had our own first bill yet)
It took about a year before they sorted it all out.
I had a similar issue when we moved into our home. It was a new build and no one else had occupied it.
But instead of getting a bill for someone else, we couldn't get a bill _at all_
The original provider was ELF and they sold up but because we hadn't officially taken ownership when this happened, the new owner had no record of our meter.
It took a year to get a bill, which was huge, at which point I complained, followed by escalating to Ofgen who were surprisngly toothy - I asked for a 50% reduction, after showing them the evidence of my fortnightly attempts to resolve the issue and Ofgen made them cut it by 75% and insisted that I was given the option to pay the remainder over another 12 months. Since I'd taken a decent estimate of our usage and had set aside the money ready for the day they did catch up, I was in a really pleasant situation of being able to pay the amount and have a nice bonus for Christmas.
It is worth noting that this was all 18 or so years ago.
I recently bought a house with no central heating, just a gas water boiler for hot water in the kitchen. Fine, no problem, paid some folks to fit a boiler, radiators, etc and all that, it worked, all great.
Did the kitchen up. Electric oven, but a gas hob since there was a gas fitting on the wall for a cooker. A week or two into the process, the builder phones me in a panic: the gas hob doesn't work because there's no gas. Asked the gas fitter who did the heating, he said "Oh, we wondered why there was a loose length of gas pipe under the floorboards..."
The previous owners had disconnected the gas to the cooker but not the heater on the other side of the kitchen. You never know what dumbfuckery will occur until you look for it.
There is nothing worse than a previous owner who thinks they know what they're doing.
House I live in was owned by an electronics engineer. When he left there were loads of electronics components left in the garage for building circuits. The problem though is electronics engineer does not equal electrician. As we found out when we investigated the kitchen lighting.
Light switch in the kitchen, turns on the 5A under cupboard lights. The lights were connected to a connector box under the sink, so bare open wires in proximity to the taps. From there to another box behind the cooker. (This should start ringing alarm bells for anyone who knows electrics).
Yes, he had wired up the 5A lighting circuit to the 30A cooker main. The result being that in the event of a fire caused by a faulty light the house would not be insured.
"There is nothing worse than a previous owner who thinks they know what they're doing."
Flat I bought, built in the 60s and had that really old-style wooden electric conduit on the outside of the walls. Short-term tenant before I fixed up the place (who was a mate of mine) reported occasionally feeling electric shocks while in the shower.
When I re-did the wiring with my dad we found out that the mains supply was wired the wrong way into the fusebox, so that the 'live' wires were actually neutral, and all the 'neutral' wires were actually live (and, of course, unfused)
In my fickle youth back in the 60's the fist place i rented when i left home was a very old cottage built in the mid 1800's. It had been wired up in the 1930's, but no one had every bothered to put a damp proof course in. Hence on very wet rainy periods the lower parts of the walls woudl get VERY damp, and if you placed your hand flat on the wall about two feet from the power socket in the bedroom you noticed two things - 1. the wall was very very warm and 2. there was a distinct tingling in your hand that got more powerful as you moved your hand closer to the power socket.
It kept the chill off the air in the bedroom in winter though......
In the 70's i rented a small workshop, it had been much chopped about and altered over the decades. During the process of reconciling the wiring, we decided to run what appeared to be a wierd duplicated feed to a separate socket in another room. Before we disconnected and moved it over we checked it carefully. Good job we did, that one lone socket was fed from a different phase from next door, if we'd moved it over there would have been some interesting cross phase disagreements when we turned back on.....
That just reminded me of another one.
I bought a flat. Previous owner owned this and the one upstairs where his aged mother lived and he'd converted the entrance so that it had been like a single unit, then converted it back to sell.
When I redecorated I carefully switched off the power before replacing the light switches.
In a moment of well founded paranoia I put a tester on the first one I did, by the front door, before I touched it and yes! It was still live. Turned out he'd wired that one from the flat upstairs so that he could turn the stair light on or something. Another Dick.
In my student days some of the sockets and light switches in the rented room and shared kitchen gave nasty tingles. (Late 70s)
Since landlord was useless I investigated. And yes. Neutral and live wires apparently connected at random. I went round the entire fucking house redoing them. Dick!
Back in the 80s helping a mate move into a house outside Durham. Amateur electrician had been busy!
Couldn't work out why there were an odd number of wires into the fuse box, given the concept of 'ring'.
Cooker not working - traced 30 amp cable under floorboard upstairs, complete with puddle of melted iron where owner had nailed floorboard back down, straight through live cooker cable.
Extension socket in bedroom - had been installed as a spur off the ring. That's okay. what wasn't okay was the way he'd stripped back the insulation from the ring to expose bare wires, then stripped insulation from end of spur cable and wrapped one round the other. Without even insulation tape to cover it!
I'm sure there were more...
"Extension socket in bedroom - had been installed as a spur off the ring."
Had one of those, but instead of dodgy wire-wrapping the Amateur Electrician had been Clever. The spur ran from one double socket to another, using a correctly wired 3-pin plug at both ends of the spur wire, which was then plugged safely into the two sockets.
Shame about the live pins on the downstream plug, mind, but what are the odds that some future owner will remove that plug and think "unplugged, so surely safe"?
Honestly I shudder when I hear stories like this.
I am a fully qualifed electrical and electronics engineer but even I will draw the line at any electrical work where it should be certified - I'll just pay someone to do it.
I have Hive at home because things like the gelocation really have helped to cut my bills over the time and you should see the number of posts to various groups where someone has taken their old-style boiler controller off the wall and asked the question "how do I fit the Hive controller?" to get various, conflicting, answers. Usually ending in a "I'll have a go".
I think it's because people cannot usually see or hear electricity, so they fail to understand the devastation that it can cause.
fail to understand the devastation that it can cause
We've had years of the (usually very reliable) central heating/hot water controllers blowing. I think I've replaced them about 5 times in the 20+ years we've been there.
Two years back, we had an extra spur added to power an outside all-weater double socket (on its own RCD and a switch) which involved having the fuse box replaced as the original 1997-vintage one was no longer compliant with the electrical codes.
The sparky went slightly pale when he took the lid off the box.. Apparently, the original person that had fitted it hadn't been particularly scrupulous about how well they linked to wires to the fuse box and at least one of the bare cable-ends wasn't securely fastened into the back of the fuse.
We haven't had any electrical oddities since.
(Unlike the water - you can't use the main bathroom hand taps at the same time as our en-suite taps otherwise all the happens in the en-suite is that no water comes out and air gets sucked into the pipework, creating a bubble that blocks any more water coming out.. The only way to get rid of the bubble is to put your hand over the mixer outflow and turn both taps on. After a while, you'll hear loud bubbling from the header tank and the bubbles are forced out by the hot water going the wrong way up the cold water pipes. At which point, everything starts working again).
Also reminded me of a workshop I used to work in.
When I started (I can't remember why I found this out) it turned out that my bench and the bench next to me were on different phases of an incoming 3-phase supply.
415V between equipment plugged into different benches.
Oh and then there's the time the senior engineer in (yet another) workshop had removed the earth from various mains leads. Not always a bad thing - we all had one set to one side, wrapped with red tape to remind us - but this genius was taking them off the general lead rack, removing the earth, failing to put the earth back and then just returning the cable as-was.
Cue much anger when faulty PSU's weren't tripping the earth leakage breakers because of earth faults and engineers were getting electrocuted when touching e.g. a heatsink that should've been earthed.
Similar problem in a new-build house near us in Scarborough. The upstairs bathroom toilet connection had not been made so everything from the toilet went into the gap between the exterior brick wall and interior breeze block - this went on for several months during which time the owners complained of the smell and the builders insisted that there was no problem with the toilet. Eventually the insurers paid for the owners to live in an hotel for several week while the builders sorted out the problem
I was forced to sell my house a couple of years ago, and the new owners had BG in to fit a new gas boiler. The ten year old boiler was up in the loft, but the new one was fitted in the kitchen, and the supply to the loft cut off and capped. Some months later, when the Beast from the East was rampaging, I received a phone call from the new owners, asking me where the gas fire in the lounge was isolated, as they couldn't get it to work. Apparently, the gas fitters (NO, NOT ENGINEERS!) had not checked to see where the pipe run for the gas fire went, and had cut that off as well, as it was teed off the upstairs run.
You never know what dumbfuckery will occur until you look for it
During the renovation on the house my wife inherited we discovered that randomly scattered throughout the house there were still short lengths of lead water pipes.. It looks like whoever did the original conversion to copper had just ignored areas that were hard to get to..
Fortunately, the renovation has involved pretty much gutting the interior and starting again so we were able to get it all removed.
Many years ago a friend of a friend bought an old farmhouse that the suburbs had grown up around. Just the house, no appliances or furniture. His new wife preferred to cook on gas rather than electric, so they went out and bought a gas range.
Not being very handy himself, he called my friend for help with the install when the range was delivered. My pal went into the basement to look for the gas line, but couldn't find it anywhere. Thinking that he would start at the gas meter and work his way back, my friend discovered a capped gas pipe next to the house - not even a meter on the pipe!
Depends though, it can be the other way around. At least in Universities where they often hire students to do user support. So as a PhD scientist I tried to do something online and got a DNS error as a response. Putting the url in numerically worked, remember that?
So I ring up support to alert them, the student on the other end asks 'what's DNS?' . . .
Mind you I've had similar issues with Virign, in the past, and had to escalate it to someone with knowledge. They do have them and it can be most pleasant to interact with them.
At least the user had pre-empted the request to box up their PC and return it. 28.8k modems places the tale around the mid 90s, and while PCs were themselves still quite rare they were making some headway into the home market, care of Windows 95 and an advertising campaign using Edie Brickell to push Windows Media Player (her video came on the Windows 95 installation disc as an example of what WMP could do, arguably the best bit of the installation). If the user wasn't aware that they needed a PC in order to connect it's a safe bet they wouldn't have been able to use the PC itself. This would also place then in the generation above my own given mine is the generation that grow up with the variety of home computers and lessons at school on how to play Elite (er, how to use a word processor).
ZX81 - ZX Spectrum - Commodore 64 - Amiga 500 - PC (486). By the time I got the PC (required for an OU course I was doing) I was regularly asked by my boss to help with his PC at work. A refusal to consider me for an office role (despite clearly being the most PC proficient person in the company) being the deciding factor for leaving said company.
"If the user wasn't aware that they needed a PC in order to connect it's a safe bet they wouldn't have been able to use the PC itself."
I suspect it might have been quite a common problem. In the run-up to the launch of Windows 95, I distinctly remember radio DJs repeatedly telling their listeners that yes, you did actually need a PC to use it.
Mind you, this was on Radio 1...
"A refusal to consider me for an office role (despite clearly being the most PC proficient person in the company) being the deciding factor for leaving said company."
I'm surprised you didn't become the head of IT. Your experience, for the time period, is exactly how many people ended up running everything IT related, especially in smaller companies.
Strangely enough that's now my current role. Except now I have about 20 years experience in IT so can actually do the job.
The office role they turned me down for was just data entry, so nothing even that taxing, the problem was I was also the best production engineer they had as well, so training my supervisor on how to do my job also didn't go down well with me at the time. The excuse was that they felt I was too young, at 26. The manager at my previous role had been 24 so I did the sensible thing and changed jobs.
Oh there were some classics in the days when many people were meeting computers for the first time. Although I was the IT project manager, people assumed that I would be happy to fix their little problems. My favourite went like this. "My computer isn't working!" "OK, have you switched it on?" "Yes, do you think I'm bloody stupid?" (Biting inside of cheek - hard). "Have you turned the monitor on?" "What's a monitor?" "The big TV thing on your desk." Silence...
Same problem, different (and politer) user. Computer on? Check. Monitor on? Check. Hmm, screen still black and no little light. Is the monitor plugged in? Nope.
Reminds me of the apocryphal story of the user complaining about not being able to get onto the internet:
"I can't get onto the internet."
"Have you turned the PC on?
"I've pressed the button on the PC, nothings happening."
"Is it plugged in?"
"I can't tell."
What do you mean?"
"Turn the lights on then."
"I can't, there's a power cut."
They though that because they were only using a remote terminal of the mainframe, that the mainframe would be powering it!
To be fair, that's exactly how the UK (landline) phone network works, so if they'd had the experience of using a phone during a power cut and knew the remote terminal was connected via a phone line they probably put 2 and 2 together to get 22.
Luckily these days most phones wont work when there is a power cut. I've got an old one that we plug in just to report the outage to the local distribution company.
At the end of that recent 15 minute major power cut it was entertaining watching the 4G internet connection slowly get its shit together.
The M/B on my Mythbox reports no keyboard on POST although the BIOS has a configuration variable set to tell it there's no keyboard. It doesn't, however, wait for an F1. For those wondering about this, the keyboard is simulated by the IR remote kit but only when the drivers get loaded.
"To be fair though that one makes some sense. It's telling you there's no keyboard, therefore the solution is to plug one in and then hit f1 to continue."
Which was fine for the DIN plug older keyboards, not so much with the PS/2 keyboards. That required a re-boot or power cycle.
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"My all time favourite: 'Where is the "any" key?' when presented with 'Hit any key to continue'. A colleague of mine at the time did engrave "any key" on a couple of space bars."
Samsung did this on a remote for some DVD recorders. No, really!
Take a look at this picture:
Third button, from down to up, at the left.
Beer icon, because... do I need a reason to beer?
I failed to ask a pertinent question once. As a helldesk op on a weekend a call came in for a common issue. Process was to power off the PC, power off the UPS and then power it all back on again. Talking through the user to power off the PC I then said to open the locked box so they could access the UPS, and base unit, they of course didn't have a key. Fortunately for me there were units dotted all around the county and they were able to send someone to get a key from another site.
We had a similar problem, After repeated PC thefts from some buildings we had to use we put PC cages in, we couldn't leave the keys accessible or the thieves would use them so installed lockable key safes, but where was the key to our key safe to be kept. One enterprising manager used to keep our key in the key safe for the building keys and kept the key for that in a jar on her desk full of her collection of redundant filing cabinet keys. It was a physical demonstration of obfuscation.
Whilst thieves could have broken into the key safes with a sledgehammer we were inventive about where they were installed. There was no point in using a sledgehammer on the cage as the PC was destroyed before the door broke open.
we didn't stop the PC theft problem locally but we did train the thieves to go to easier targets.
I have been called out for 'a broken cup holder' back in 2002 ish, this was a CDROM drive. In 2010 I had to explain to someone that their internet did not work as they had no phone line. Just last year I had to explain to my mum that the PS4 game she got me would not work in my XBox...
To us tech people it may appear obvious but there will always be someone who asked where the 'any key' is...
Actually, that does remind me about something I should probably 'fess up to.
Back in the day we had an Amiga 500, and at the time we pretty much only had the games that had come with it. So, one day we'd gone into town, and whilst wandering around, I'd found somewhere that sold games! After perusing the stock, I found one for (I think) about £10, which if I got a bit of advance on my pocket money, I could afford. So, after some wheedling, I got cash from my folks and bough "Populous: The Promised Lands". As soon as we were in the car, I pulled out my purchase and set myself to reading the, rather thin, manual.
It wasn't until we were about halfway home, that I had to admit to myself that I'd just bought an expansion disk (what the kids would call DLC these days), that required the full game to run. Then of course I had to admit it to my folks, and start the even tougher task of persuading them to part with even more money (£30 IIRC) to buy the original game. (I somehow persuaded them eventually and got my introduction to proper gaming).
bought the 4K version
Nowt wrong with that - slightly higher price notwithstanding. Use the HD BluRay now, and if you ever do upgrade to a 4k TV etc., you'll have a ready-made library.
I did it when BluRay first came out. I had a standard DVD player at the time, no immediate plans (or cash) for a BluRay player or HD TV, but started buying (when the price difference wasn't dreadful) the combined BluRay/DVD packages. One Christmas the 10 year old DVD player died, so we bought a 3D BluRay player and could access all the extras, even if we didn't benefit from the extra pixels (in fact it was worse as the BluRay player didn't have an SD RGB output, only HDMI or composite).
We started buying 3D BluRays (which always come with a 2D version, but rarely with a standard DVD included) and three or four Christmases later when my lovely 20 year-old Sony Trinitron widescreen went 'pop', suddenly we had a library of high definition and 3D content ready-to-go on our new 3D TV.
I'm sort of hoping that 3D will come back before I need a new screen or player. While for most films it's take-it-or-leave-it, there are one or two for which (in a darkened room) it works rather well. Our TV is passive 3D too, so cheap glasses and reduced flicker.
Don't get me started on the argument about shelves and shelves full of physical media. I still have a working (and occasionally used) Laserdisc player :-)
I have updated many times over the years just to play the latest media but the HD BluRay upgrade has been horrendous. I had to BUY AN XBOX ONE, the pure unadulterated horror of creating an M$ account, using the worst interface ever and a controller that causes hand cramps in minutes.
Luckily I found a remote control that isn’t totally useless and I use it only as a disk player but it still looks so Wrong sitting amongst all my decent Sony kit.
And in the end I’ve only ever bought about five of the damned HD disks....
Don't get me started on the argument about shelves and shelves full of physical media. I still have a working (and occasionally used) Laserdisc player :-)
You get no arguments from me. I've said it many times before, you can pry my CLD-925 out my dead, cold hands.
I prefer the physical media. It works whether internet connection is working/good enough or not. It wiill keep working regardless of if the seller goes bust or changes its terms and conditions.
Speaking of LaserDisc, I actually prefer it to DVD/BR/whatever fully digital format. Maybe its me but it looks better despite resolution difference and feels more natural and you still get benefit of digital multi-channel audio.
Speaking of LaserDisc, I actually prefer it to DVD/BR/whatever
I remember in the early days of DVD lots of reviews along the lines of "it doesn't look any better than LD" and wondering - because I'd seen some in action - what on earth they meant. A good quality LD came close to "broadcast quality", but a good quality DVD was better in nearly every sense, particularly the lack of noise, the more stable colours (lack of PAL artefacts) and the visibly higher resolution (particularly the colour).
It was some time later that I realised that nearly all of the reviews were US in origin and suffered from one major flaw - both the Laserdiscs and the DVD players were connected to their TVs using a composite video connection. Over here we'd had SCART for a decade or more, a connection which usually had full-bandwidth RGB available, but apart from a few high-end tellies with "component" connections, composite video was the best quality connection available to the majority of left-pondians.
In other words, I was comparing a composite-connected LD player with an RGB-connected DVD while many of the reviewers were comparing composite connections for both units. LD couldn't really benefit from RGB (or even S-video) connection as the signal on the disc was composite, but DVD could.
As for digital audio, my old LD player managed 16 bits, 44.1kHz stereo but PAL Laserdisc releases rarely had Dolby Digital as it was an all-or-nothing option - NTSC players could give up one analogue audio track for the DD signal, leaving the normal digital stereo intact. PAL players had either analogue, or digital audio tracks, so including a DD track would remove the digital stereo track, leaving only a mono analogue track as fallback.
Many years ago I used to work for Compu$erve in the days when they were probably the most prolific supplier of magazine cover disks and their tech support was by a freephone number. The number one reason for connection problems was "You need a modem to connect" but "You need a computer" was far from unknown. Those ID10T level questions you have to go through every time you ring tech support? They're there for a reason. They solve 90% of calls.
I work in the industry, and many years ago before I bought all my own hardware, I was leasing my cable modem. Had a run on faulty replacements, and after going through the local office ("this is your third modem in 2 months, there must be something wrong with your connection, we need to schedule a very expensive technician to come to your house...."), I finally called their tech support line.
Now at this time, their tech support people were almost as bad as the ID10T group that they were hired to serve, but I knew from working with customers that if one called at a certain time in the evening and had a bit of luck, I would get connected to a specific call center in a college town where students were working their way through Uni. My luck held out and a tech from that center answered. I explained to him my background, and the problems and said I knew it was a bad modem (to which he concurred), and he said "ok, just let me run through the 20 questions list really fast, and then I will issue a replacement request".
Finally got a modem that worked, but then purchased my own after they bumped the rental charge more than double, and retail prices dropped on the hardware.
We got a call from a 'node site', our high speed link ran to their office then split into a number of lower speed links to area offices. They were down, the area offices wee down, sure enough were there any lights on thew x.25 switch, no, was the power switch depressed, yes. Could they trace the power cable to the socket, yes, was it plugged in, yes was the socket turned on, no. Would they be so kind as to turn the socket on so 150 people could start work? No. I had to send a network technician on a 100 mile round trip to turn the bloody socket on. This was in a very rural county so it took the whole morning for my guy to get there, flip the switch and drive back.
Would love to know what valid reason they gave for that. I know some users don't like touching things themselves but a power socket is hardly complicated looking equipment. I'd have asked to speak to someone more senior and told them exactly what kind of trouble was being caused by their none compliance.
"I'd have asked to speak to someone more senior and told them exactly what kind of trouble was being caused by their none compliance."
Just charge 150 people's unproductive morning's salaries and the travel costs to their cost centre. Let their more senior person explain it to the beancounters. That's a bit closer to the BOFH solution.
Some later ones might have done so, but this definitely wasn't common- if it happened at all- with early CD players predating the widespread use of CD-ROMs. Supposedly you could- in theory- damage your speakers or amplifier (IIRC) if the data in track 1 was played too loudly as audio by the unwitting player.
Mid-80s, a colleague was showing off his new Sony discman. We persuaded him to try a new-fangled CDROM from a microVAX to see what would happen. He pressed play, and we heard the screech from the headphones he was wearing. He almost fell off his chair, and dropped his new CD player. We'd have been in even deeper shit if it had broken!
The damage would come from a series of 8/bit values, that when rendered as PCM audio, either create a standing wave or a longstanding monopolar offset from zero. Speakers and amplifiers don’t like DC.
Anyone who has ever used a hifi amp and speakers as a PA for a synthesiser capable of creating waveforms outside the bounds of musicality will have faced similar repair bills.
I might be misremembering coverage of an early multimedia title called "Don't Play Track One" although there is a description here of such. In French. Apparently from 1994.
Track one of the "CD" contained multimedia software. The rest was music. Track one did not sound good if it was allowed to play.
Someone claimed that after a while, cd-rom devices became both cheap and more accurate compared to the audio only CD players, so it made sense to build hifi units around cd-rom devices. It goes a long way to explain why newer units didn't produce satanic sounds when attempting to play the first track.
There's the one about the call centre operative who spent several hours trying to get the customer up and running with the just purchased computer.
After getting nowhere, operative asks customer "Do you still have the box?"
"Yes", replies the customer, "why?"
"I'm afraid you're going to need to package it up and take it back to the shop"
"And what do I tell them in the Shop? asks the customer.
"Tell them you're too stupid to own a computer". Click!
I used to work in Tech Support for a major PC manufacturer. When nothing else added up the question to go for was:
"Is it plugged in?"
Invariably, people got upset, made wild proclamations about their immense intelligence, grumbled when you tried to placate with them reassurances that you really didn't think that would be it, but y'know it's best to check just in case and a few moments of silence whilst they crawled under the desk, followed by a "oh, well, someone else must have unplugged it".
I once had an entire 100,000 sq ft office block wired up with wall sockets for my cleaners to use, as they kept unplugging equipment from the floor boxes, (To be fair it was during a refurb to install a raised floor & air conditioning) In the meantime all critical equipment was fitted with red MK plug tops.
I had problems with my first PC which drove the support guys nuts, and in short order me too.
They would keep telling me to reboot the computer, and I would tell them that because I was using a voiceview modem that would hang up the call. They would insist. I would insist they recorded my phone number and call me back when they got hung up on, to loud "pshaw" noises on their end.
One lost connection and dialback later a shamefaced tech would actually start listening to me.
After six months of this nonsense they replaced the motherboard and the problems stopped.
But I have to say, the "Is it plugged in" script never got old.
Bought my mother (82) a Chromebook this year so she could receive emails and view family photos. She's never used a keyboard or mouse before, let alone a computer of any description.
So, showing her the basics, moving the mouse - she asked "what's that fly on the screen" - it was the mouse cursor.
Fortunately I'd got her a touchscreen Chromebook. She found that much easier to use than the touchpad. I have to phone her to let her know when I've sent an email (with a link to photos on Google Photos) so she can start the Chromebook (just lift the lid), click on the email tab I'd left open and view photos.
Yet to find any Chromebook guides at a suitable level.
Years ago, had a call from a user who was unable to have her laptop wireless connect to our network in our St Louis office. Eventually discovered she was in San Francisco on business. I agreed with her that our wifi was crap, but what are you going to do?
I'm sure many others have had the same conversation.
Back in the 80's a couple of blokes turned up with a computer.
Nah mate. What you have there is a VT (I forget) monitor and keyboard off a mainframe. Have you just robbed the place across the river where we work?
Never underestimate stupidity. There were a couple of pubs we couldn't go into for a while because "we'd ripped them off".
I used to have one of these!
Supposedly its possible to use an Arduino R3 and some resistor logic to make it verk but its a lot of effort.
But if you love that orange glow and want to use it as a novelty lamp it will work just fine.
Incidentally some of them actually did have an external power supply so it would run off some strange voltage like 28V and this will (I tried!) run off two SLAs in series. So come Armageddon the thing will still work! Handy in these uncertain times.
Think some of the newer ones had dual orange/green screen using the high/low energy phosphor method.
I had a friend how came from Hong Kong along with a load of her Hong Kong DVDs. She bought a combo TV-DVD player in the UK, but it refused to play her HK Region DVDs. She phoned the helpline whose advice was along the lines of:
Right-click on the start menu....
"How do I do that?" Point your mouse at the button in the bottom corner and press the right button. "What mouse?" etc.
I had a call way back when I worked in support for a PC manufacturer in the early nineties. No matter what I did I couldn't successfully get the customer to copy the config.sys onto the floppy drive. Time and again we'd read through the instruction character by character.'C' 'O' 'P' 'Y' 'C' COLON BACKSLASH 'C' 'O' 'N' 'F' 'I' 'G' . 'S' 'Y' 'S' SPACE 'A' COLON
What could possible be wrong?
They were typing out every character; 'S' 'P' 'A' 'C' 'E' etc.
Which, if computer instructions appear to you as mystical incantations, is exactly what you would, even should, do.
And on the non-IT world I've dealt with plenty of instruction guides that would have the same effect on the uninitiated. Including some school assessment packs that only made sense if you understood how the tests were supposed to work.
I once had to designate one of my staff to sit with a teacher who'd messed up a school based spelling assessment test because of this and help him rub out the students' answers ( in pencil luckily) and then show him how to administer the test correctly. He'd never used a test of that sort, so he'd done what he'd always done. The test had sentences with blanks for the kids to write in the word, and he had to read it out to the class and let them write the word in, but he hadn't understood he was meant to tell them what the word was ( it was a test of spelling not guessing). The instructions just weren't explicit enough.
I made a 'transatlantic' mistake once.
I was on the telephone to our supplier to get a new lending library module installed so...
Me: I've switched into the lib-one user directory. What do i type next.
Support: OK, change into the code directory "cd fixcode"
Me: OK - and I type "cd fixcode"
Me: I've confirmed this with a pwd - yes - right directory.
Support: OK confirm that the module is there "ls -l | grep start-mod1"
Me: (I type the command and) Yes, I confirm the module is there.
Support: OK, now type "period slash start-mod1"
Me: (I type what I hear as ...) "period /start-mod1"
Me: it says command not found
then after some 'chat'...
Me: OH! 'period' - 'dot' or 'full-stop'
Me: Thanks - that fixed it!
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