back to article Behold: The ghastly, preening, lesser-spotted Incredible Bullsh*tting Customer

Friday is here! How is your weekend looking? Same as the last one, and the one before that? Never mind – before breaking into the lockdown lagers, join us for another entry in The Register's tales of those brave souls who are On Call. Today's anecdote comes from "Leon" and concerns the outrageous porky pies occasionally …

  1. MrMerrymaker Bronze badge

    "He had made up the stories of his friends"

    I see why.

    Perhaps the radio spots were imaginary also, the CD containing just an audio clip of this fellow talking to all his mates, on his own interviewing himself in the dark.

    1. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: "He had made up the stories of his friends"

      I've had somebody tell me something similar with their new laptop. This was a family friend (of my parents) and they'd written a series of emails which had never sent and vanished after they'd hit send. This person was using Hotmail and long enough ago that it was certainly before MSFT bought it. So they were doing everything on the browser and a new window was the norm no tabbed browsing yet. So some of them were still sitting on other windows waiting to be sent. I pointed out that fact and got no thanks as I was doubtless pointing out stupidity or ignorance on the part of the laptop owner. That wasn't all of them, and it became obvious during him sending a test email he'd deleted them instead of sending them. Now it's the turn of hotmail.com to be berated for their "idiocy" in designing their webpages.

      Anyway as I'm getting ready to leave I was asked what else I'd been snooping on? I hadn't but he had the history open and there was a list of sites. I pointed out these were dated yesterday as last visited and that I certainly hadn't visited the bottom one which had a very "adult" address on any computer. I was then asked to leave and that was the last favour I ever did for that person.

      1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

        Re: "He had made up the stories of his friends"

        I was then asked to leave and that was the last favour I ever did for that person.

        Good.

        Wonder if he asked other persons and gave them merry grief when they were not too careful?

        I don't need such persons as clients, they can have the pleasure of going to my competition.

        1. MatthewSt Bronze badge

          Re: "He had made up the stories of his friends"

          I went to help an acquaintance out with some missing documents once, and ended up missing "My Documents" and clicked on "My Pictures" instead! Let's just say he didn't go out of his way to hide anything...

    2. Shooter

      Re: "He had made up the stories of his friends"

      I suspect he made up the "friends".

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: "He had made up the stories of his friends"

        I suspect he made up the "friends".

        Did they go to another school?

        1. Shooter

          Re: "He had made up the stories of his friends"

          A school in Canada. You wouldn't know them.

  2. chivo243 Silver badge
    Terminator

    Love in a multi-member team

    I love it when I assist a user, problem solved, they are happy. Then the issue returns, and another member of the team takes the call. And then the original cause of the issue was all of a sudden me?! According to the user. It was a very uncomfortable moment for said user when I, and my colleague roll up to the office to confirm the issue and resolution.

    1. MrMerrymaker Bronze badge

      Re: Love in a multi-member team

      Ah quite, the blame game in all its glory.

      IT *CAUSE* issues, they don't solve them.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Love in a multi-member team

        You mean PC doesn't stand for problem creator?

        1. MrMerrymaker Bronze badge

          Re: Love in a multi-member team

          IT stands for IDIOTIC TROUBLEMAKERS!!

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Love in a multi-member team

      We all know that the first knowledgable* person to deal with a computer problem owns that problem. If the knowledgeable person is unpaid, perhaps having done a favour, then they own all subsequent problems, but no successes.**

      *For certain values

      *The same used to apply with cars, but not so much these days.

  3. Chris G Silver badge

    In Leon's place I would have been blunt ' I understand that you are not a computer operator and so are likely to make mistakes but I am not going to tolerate you blaming me for your mistakes, calling me while on holiday and spoiling my time off'.

    I have to admit though, that my actual words may be somewhat less polite.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have to admit though, that my actual words may be somewhat less polite.

      I would have been impeccably polite. While informing the twunt that the unnecessary callout fee has gone up to £250...

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Back in the early 1990s I did just that.

        The organisation in question had setup email as an experiment (uucp on a 14k4 modem), with the understanding that my assistance was on a best effort basis and might take a few days to sort out as they have their own people who should be able to deal with things

        Fast forward 6 months and I'm on holiday on the other side of the world. A paniced phone call comes in "email's not working, it's critically urgent. we need you here now!"

        They weren't impressed when I said that as I was on holiday - which they'd been told both before I left and when they phoned the office insisting on speaking to me - I could be there in 2 days and it would cost them $3000 in callout fees plus whatever the airline charged for a walkup return flight, which I estimated would be not less than $12000 for a business-class seat, given they'd want me fresh enough to work on the issue as soon as I arrived, having crossed 12 timezones and flown for 26 hours.

        Funnily enough, they declined. When I got back I was told they'd found one of the secretarial staff had emailed 200+ copies of "the dancing baby" clip (at 4MB apiece) to friends offsite. 14k4 was about 1MB/hour. Those emails got flushed, the link got upgraded and people got a lesson on how experimental systems can become critically urgent when useful

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      The correct term, I believe, is "Computer User (Non-Technical)". There's a handy acronym if you can't remember the full thing.

  4. Empty1

    Pillocks like that don't have friends so they have to pretend.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      They do, however, have people they know who can't get rid of them.

  5. Jaspa

    There should be an IT Driving Test

    Not quite the same but in a similar vein.

    I got a call from a Friend early one New Year's Eve.

    Rather than the expected drinking session I'd imagined, he was in a panic as he was DJing that evening and had lost his music.

    It transpired that after hours of creating playlists his ageing slab was low on storage so he deleted the MP3s to save space since he had his playlists, right?

    Not wanting him to miss the gig,a fair few beer tokens and Ladies phone numbers I sent him t the bar while I booted a recovery stick.

    Sure enough, said MP3s started to return from the abyss, along with some assorted trash and some "interesting" videos.

    Convinced I had put them there he started to protest.

    A quick call to his significant other and the culprit was identified.

    We recovered all of the music plus 'er Indoors' deleted stash of entertaining videos.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

      Judging from my drive around yesterday to charge the car after 6 rusting I think driving tests should be re-done every year too!

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

        sorry - I dont know where the weeks have flown!

    2. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

      There is. Unfortunately it's not mandatory

      1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

        Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

        unfortunately HR often think its a "top drawer" qualification, was turned down for one role because "you don't have an ECDL, which means you don't have the computer knowledge the role demands"

        While ignoring my HND and BSc in Computing entirely AND the myriad of projects that had been done in relation to that amongst others.,...Jesus wept....

        1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

          Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

          Been there done that

          Being told by a local technical college that because of a lack of one piece of paper I was not qualified in robotics/CNC, despite 25 yrs experience and several other pieces of paper that I was , was not very nice.

          Still was able to raise a rosy glow on the paper shuffling HR bod with "Next time you go on holiday, check to see if the engines have the rolls royce sign on them, then think that the primary fuel pump bearings were made by someone unqualified to make them... have a nice trip"

          1. DaveDaveDave

            Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

            Doctors are called Dr, unless they're surgeons in which case their title is Mr(s). Cardiac surgeons on planes have been told to go back to their seats and stop interfering with Dr whoever, the retired GP, trying to deal with a heart attack patient. In one instance the flight crew insisted a non-medical PhD was the doctor, but fortunately the PhD had a top cardiac surgeon on hand for advice :)

        2. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

          Always wondered... Do Formula 1 drivers need a valid driving license?

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

            Yes. To drive in Formula 1 you are required to hold a valid FIA Super Licence. One of the requirements to receive a FIA race license is that you are licensed to drive on the road.

          2. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

            Max Verstappen competed in 14 F1 Grands Prix before he passed his test to qualify to drive on public roads.

            https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/headlines/2015/9/verstappen-passes-driving-test-on-18th-birthday.html

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

              Yeah, he squeezed in before they changed the rules in 2016.

              (I'm kind of embarrassed that I know this... I'm not fond of F1. To me it's been nothing more than a game of "follow the leader" for several decades now. Most of us outgrow follow the leader when we get to grade school ... because quite frankly it's boring as shit.)

              1. WonkoTheSane
                Trollface

                Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

                That's why I switched to watching Formula E. At least there's overtaking!

          3. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

            No. There was a quiz question about which champion celebrated his 18th birthday by taking a driving test, during the week.

        3. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

          I looked at doing and ECDL some years back. Since there wasn't anything in it that was all that complex, and that I hadn't done years before and anyway doing IT stuff was never more than a side component of my substantive job, it clearly wasn't worth it to me. But I can imagine if I'd decided to change direction a few years later for some reason I'd have been turned down for all sorts of roles for not having it.

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

            I looked at one when they first came out, and laughed. I imagine the same is true of other qualifications. For example, I have an IPAF licence. It qualifies me to operate certain types of access equipment (cherry pickers, scissor lifts). I've taken the test several times, the first in 2000.

            After a hiatus of six or seven years and a couple of job changes, my new job needed me to re-qualify. The test consists of a written (mostly multiple-choice) exam paper and a practical test. I've re-taken it twice since, and each time the examiner (a different one each time) likes to make you take the paper before you've done the study, find out where weaknesses are and make sure you know the answers before taking it "for real".

            I can't remember my scores back in 2000 (can't remember any problems), but on that unprepared first-take after a 7 year break? 100%. And 100% in the for-real paper, and 100% and 100% five years later, and (oh dear) 98% (one missed question) and 100% five years after that. I've never been a straight-A student, mostly Bs and Cs...

            M.

        4. Andrew Moore

          Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

          My company once sent me on a train course to learn the basics of a piece of software that I had been using for over 10 years- On the first morning the instructor said that she didn't know why I was there because I knew more about the system than she did. On the plus side, the new head of the division was on the course too (he was one of those strange managers that thought it would be a good idea to have an understanding of the area he had just been put in charge of) and we forge a strong friendship in the after-hours eating and drinking.

        5. fajensen Silver badge

          Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

          The funny thing is that sometimes they call you in later as a consultant for more money to get them out of the hole they are still sitting in from when the "employee interviews" were done.

          HR never, ever, makes mistakes and so the only way forward is to mutate the job and go again!

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

        The only people I know who have a ECDL are people I wouldn't actually let near a computer and constantly need handholding. (but they constantly remind you that they have a ECDL.....)

        1. Mr Humbug

          Erm... I have ECDL.

          Some years ago I worked at a training company that assessed them The qualification for marking the tests was to have passed it yourself - I think it took me two hours to do the 5 hours of tests.

          There were good intentions behind it, but, as with all targets, it rapidly fell victim to Goodhart's Law (a label that I only learned about from this week's More or Less).

          I also have ECDL Advanced, which was equally difficult to get.

          1. keithpeter

            @Mr Humbug

            Count yourself lucky that you did not have to complete the TDLB or A units for assessors as well. You had to compile evidence for those - in voluminous quantities.

            1. Mr Humbug

              I think I must be older than you. I have the D units (D32 and D33)

              1. keithpeter

                TDLB was the D units. Later came the A units. Fun not

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

          It was about 30 years ago that pieces of paper started to become meaningless in the computer/networking world. That was when learning to pass the test became more important than actually learning the subject matter.

          People who think that learning by rote is the answer are a huge driving force in the anti-intellectualization of our current society.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge
            Flame

            Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

            Yes, and this starts at around the age of 4 now. Governmental tests of mechanical skills that schools are required to impart for the kids to achieve. My favourite example of this is the 12x table.

            In the days when teaching the tables was strongly taboo I fought for it - it's rather useful.

            So I have no objection to making teaching tables a requirement.. But not for testing of it. Testing, with the likelihood of failing, makes learning that kind of stuff much harder for a lot of people ( not just kids) and leads to disposable learning ( learn, pass test, forget) which defeats the object.

            But the govt. have mandated testing - to 12x12. It's the 12x12 that gives the game away.

            Tables to 10x makes sense. We only needed 12x though when we had shillings and inches, but it has no intrinsic value today. The govt. motivation isn't mathematical knowledge, but rather measurable and traditional fact based, Behaviourist, education.

            The whole reading curriculum is based on a behaviourist premise that to teach reading all you need to do is teach kids to decode words sound by sound, despite decades of evidence that "Phonics" is not how we actually read and represent a small but useful part of reading.. All based on "research" performed by a government committee that was appointed to reach that conclusion. A lead chair who was a known advocate of phonics, who took evidence from "successful " schools, which he both defined and then identified as being good at teaching phonics. As opposed to producing kids who read well and liked reading. Then having demonstrated that the schools which taught phonics well were good at teaching phonics he recommended that this was how schools have to teach reading.

            Am I angry about this? Too fucking right I am.

            1. Martin an gof Silver badge

              Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

              decades of evidence that "Phonics" is not how we actually read

              How many upvotes would you like?

              Fortunately my children worked that out fairly early on and the particular scheme used in their school soon became known among them as "Read, Write, Stink".

              Reminded me rather forcefully of my own early education. My parents (and my grandfather in particular, who moved to live with us shortly before I started school) made the mistake of letting me learn how to read before I went to school. Since reading was about 75% of what that school did with its early years classes, I found myself bored to tears at the back of the class, having completed the reading scheme (why did the red lorry have to go up the hill?) independently.

              I was tasked with running errands during reading lessons - collecting dinner numbers, that sort of thing.

              It all came to a head when the school made the mistake of bringing my mother in as a supply teacher to a reception class. She had been trained at the Montessori school in London and was not only displeased with the curriculum, but thoroughly outraged to see me - aged about 6 - up on the stage in the school hall, reading a poem or something and being held up by the head as "an example to all you bigger children who are about to go to secondary school but still can't read this well".

              Or somesuch.

              My father had always been an advocate of education through the medium of the Welsh language, but my mother was wary of it and had insisted I go to the local English school as neither she nor my father were fluent in Welsh. After that incident, however, she moved me to the local Welsh school saying something along the lines of, well, he won't be able to sit at the back of the class there!

              Teaching reading is an emotive subject because everyone has pet theories. Mine? Get the children interested in the content of books (by reading to them) and they will soon want - and learn - to read for themselves. Of course there can be problems such as dyslexia to get around, but personally I don't think phonics is the be-all and end-all that government has seemed to think it is for the last 10+ years, certainly not for more than very, very basic English (I think it teaches bad habits which are difficult to shake off), though it has to be said that other languages (and I only have particular experience of Welsh) are much more amenable to phonetic decoding than English.

              M.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

                Adding fuel to the fire ...

                My Dad started reading Herb Caen's column to me every morning from the time I was born, followed by the headlines and the first couple paragraphs of the first section of the S.F. Chronicle. One morning Dad was ill and in bed. Mom was flabbergasted to discover that I had gone outside to get the paper, and was making good progress on reading Herb's column for myself. I was three.

                I don't remember the events in the above paragraph, but a year or so later I do remember being irritated on the first day of kindergarten because I wasn't allowed to bring my newspaper to read.

                If you are a new parent, read to your kid early and often. It's important.

                1. Terry 6 Silver badge
                  Thumb Up

                  Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

                  Yes yes yes. THAT.

                  BUT ALSO TALK TO THEM.

                  Talk develops language, which precedes reading.

                  1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                    Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

                    Talking used to come naturally to most people, but it seems that it doesn't any more. Teachers are complaining that children enter nursery not even able to hold a simple converation. Schools send home patronising notes about talking to your children. Is it because parents have their noses buried in Twitface these days? Is it because children get their first phone aged about 2 and no longer have to negotiate with siblings when they want to play a game?

                    We have a running joke at home since one such note came home from school some years ago. If ever conversation dries up at the dinner table (aside - it seems we are unusual in insisting as far as possible on at least one sit-down family meal each day), someone will pipe up with "so, who do you think is going to win The Voice this year?"

                    The school had sent a note home encouraging parents to talk to their children, with suggestions for interesting topics that would engage youngsters. Most of them were irrelevant, but this one particularly so since we have always actively avoided that kind of LCD "reality" show. In fact, if ever anyone wants to interrupt a conversation that might be getting out of hand, "so, who do you think is going to win The Voice this year?" is excellent at killing the atmosphere.

                    M.

                    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                      Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

                      I don't know why you call those notes "patronising" since the same paragraph your comment makes it clear exactly why those notes serve a need. There's probably a better way. Schools would love to have a better way to get parents talking to their kids- some have meeting for parents, coffee mornings and the like where they can discuss it For the six or seven parents who turn up. And in the schools I've worked the attendance level is usually inversely proportional to parental availability.

                      But you don't provide any such creative solution.

                      My suggestion over the decades that no one should be allowed to have a child until they past a test hasn't gained much support. (Driving a car otoh you do need to.Even more Ironic since this thread is about the IT driving test, so even that.......)

                      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                        Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

                        Ok, point taken, but I could easily turn it around and say that, like the people who are most likely to turn up to your coffee mornings, the people who are most likely to read and understand the notes - and crucially have a clue about how to act on them - are ironically the people who least need the help. I don't have an answer and I know it is frustrating - I have been out of the profession for a long time now but - once upon a time I did teach at primary level.

                        What I would say is that particularly in primary schools it is very likely that teachers have an excellent idea of the children whose parents might need a bit of encouragement and just as good an idea of the children whose parents don't. Sending blanket "advice" to everyone is likely to be counterproductive to both sets, though you might find a willing ear with some of the "struggling but trying our best" in the middle.

                        Ok. Here's another one. No, two. This time from the secondary school.

                        First came a very simple one. Something along the lines of "your child will soon be leaving school and moving on to university or an apprenticeship. Now would be an ideal time to ensure they learn essential skills such as how to cook a simple meal and how to sort the laundry". I mean, really? That's all the life advice they have to offer after seven (well, six and a half) years of schooling?

                        The most perplexing one however came a couple of Fridays ago; "why not wear red, white and green today instead of your school uniform, in aid of <worthy cause>?"

                        At first glance this looked like a simple passing-on-without-thinking of a press release by said worthy cause, presumably prepared before schools closed. I went to the appropriate website and read their fundraising media and nowhere was "instead of your school uniform" mentioned. In fact, while the campaign is real, nothing on the website had similar wording to the note sent by school.

                        Surely the only conclusion can't be that school is expecting pupils to wear school uniform at home while completing the two or three hours of schoolwork they are sent each day, can it?

                        M.

                        1. jake Silver badge

                          Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

                          "how to cook a simple meal and how to sort the laundry"

                          In my family that's pre-teenage normal, and has been for the last several generations. Most kids make their own Birthday cake before they are 10, and it's been tradition for the pre-teens to do a sit-down meal for the rest of the family at least once per week. There is a step-stool in everyone's laundry room; kids are expected to do their own laundry as soon as they can reach the controls (I've got a picture of my dad starting the hit-and-miss powered washtub & wringer when he was 7 years old). I was at Uni before I discovered this wasn't normal ...

                          "Surely the only conclusion can't be that school is expecting pupils to wear school uniform at home while completing the two or three hours of schoolwork they are sent each day, can it?"

                          I have had several friends comment that their assorted bosses were horrified to discover that people suddenly working from home weren't wearing "proper business attire". I suspect this is an artifact of business/management school teaching "Be in charge! Maintain control at all times! You are the BOSS! Don't let your peons/minions forget it!". So to answer your question, yes. I rather suspect that they do think the kids are wearing their school uniform while doing schoolwork at home. Look for some schools to try to make it mandatory.

                        2. A K Stiles Silver badge

                          Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

                          7 year old child of friends has apparently decided that he should be wearing his uniform whilst doing school-work at home, without any apparent prompting from parents or school.

                          Parents are happy enough with that as at least the uniform clothes are getting some use before he out-grows them.

                          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                            Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

                            It's nice when a kid is proud of their school and takes learning seriously.

                            Too much of my career was working with kids who had learnt from their parents that school meant nothing and teachers were just there to childmind. I've had to defend physically a class teacher from a parent threatening physical violence, because she'd had the temerity to tell the kid off the previous day, for some appalling piece of behaviour. Literally preventing said parent from running into the classroom with fists flailing.

                            And I've watched two mums start thumping nine bells off each other outside a school gate.

                            I've seen kids parked outside a pub at 9pm while the parents were inside boozing in a pub next to their school .

                        3. Terry 6 Silver badge

                          Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

                          Judging by some news items over the last few weeks. Yes.

                          When there are thousands of schools, each one effectively independent of and even competing with the rest, and these days no longer under the control of local authorities, there will be a bell curve of barminess. From extremely sensible and relaxed where possible, through to extremely rigid and demanding for no particular reason.

                          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                            Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

                            When there are thousands of schools, each one effectively independent of and even competing with the rest, and these days no longer under the control of local authorities

                            We're in Wales, where this isn't quite the case. Things are a little calmer here.

                            The BBC explains it here.

                            Wales Online explains it here, though that website is an utter mess of third party Javascript.

                            M.

                2. Terry 6 Silver badge

                  Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

                  Yes. The evidence for how we do really read is pretty solid as long as you don't use "reading is sounding out words" as a starting point, and then measure progress in reading by how well you sound out. Hint, kids who've been well taught phonics will do really well on reading tests designed to see how well they can decode words. As long as the test is constructed not to have too many irregular words. And they will read books constructed to have phonetically regular words really well - though the richness and lucidity of the content might be rather lacking, to say the least.

                  But we know that;

                  *readers don't actually scan words sequentially, our eyes dot around the page, drawing in information

                  *we don't really read whole words and phrases; we pretty much recreate the text by drawing upon our existing knowledge of language and story ( or facts in non-fiction, though as far as I'm aware non-fiction is a bit of a Cinderella in research terms- at least it was in the 90s before Phonics became everything anyway).

                  *that a significant proportion of words do not have any kind of phonetic regularity (chasm, busy etc) or are ambiguous ( e.g. The wind blows/ wind the clock now or most ea words like head/read/lead/dead/weather/wheat and so on ) so clearly need to be accessed by other means. Another group have complex phonic patterns that will slow reading, and so fluency, down to a crawl ( as in "ambiguous" above).

                  *that human perception and recall do not work by recording a video of events, but that we actually construct and reconstruct perceptions, e.g we are not aware of the blind spot in our eyes, even if we shut one, because our brain reconstructs the scene as if it isn't discontinuous.

                  *that likewise attention is not continuous and sequential as it has to be in phonic reading, but is also largely reconstructed. Which is partly how magic tricks work. And then there's the fun observation experiments where the subjects fail to notice a gorilla walking through the middle of a basket ball game they've been asked to focus on, or the more serious research on crime witnesses that show how easy it is for them to miss seeing what actually happened if they were looking a some other event. And so on.

                  1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                    Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

                    Not just reading, language in general is often considered as a collection of words, people are encouraged to "expand their vocabulary" and comprehension tests are based on lists of words, but I have long had what I call my "cliche" theory of language, that - pretty much as you say, we don't actually learn individual words, instead we learn short phrases, concepts etc. So much so that we often mis-hear what someone says because our brains think, from hearing the beginning of a sentence, that they are going to say one thing, when they actually say another.

                    Later in life we begin to learn that some complex words are actually made up of shorter word-parts, and so even without an academic grounding in etymology or semantics we can make good stabs at the meanings of new (to us) words by reference to context and words (or word-parts) that we already know.

                    Phonics - as regards reading and writing, and as I have peripherally experienced it - seems to me to offer precisely what you say - a way of sounding out words that makes it seem as if you are reading, but without giving any tools to real understanding. I feel the same way about times tables to be honest, but about 20 years ago the teaching of maths worked this out and a lot of emphasis was given to using maths and relationships between numbers rather than just learning tables by rote, hence children working on "number bonds", for example. Language teaching should look and learn.

                    Even English does have some rules, but I offer "ghoti" as an example of where is all goes horribly, horribly wrong.

                    M.

                    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                      Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

                      Absolutely. My daughter is the true expert at this point, she's a paediatric ( try sounding that out) Speech and Language Therapist ( or at least was pre-Covid19, she's currently working on a Post-covid recovery ward, not having worked on a ward since her degree, assisting some qualified nurses who, themselves haven't been on a traditional ward for even more years.).

                      But she'd agree. As would the specialist teachers she usually works with.

                      And they also agree about phonics, I gather, saying pretty much word for word what I do, despite being about 40 years younger.

                      The support for what you say about language is pretty evident too. We don't normally choose words to say/write/. They just appear. And spelling too. We do not normally decode our words to spell them. We just write/type them, maybe correcting them if they look wrong and we can usually identify why and where they look wrong. Sounding out tends to be an act of desperation and is more often than not embarrassingly rong.

                      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                        Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

                        My wife is a teacher of the Deaf and works closely with S&L therapists, currently in the paediatric cochlear implant programme of a large teaching hospital. We have this kind of conversation from time to time :-)

                        She thought she was going to be re-assigned to a nursing auxiliary type role, but it turns out that at the moment (and hopefully permanently if the current fall in cases continues) she is more valuable continuing to follow-up and support implanted children and their parents. They are waiting for the day they can re-start the implant programme because delays in language acquisition lead to delays in learning for years to come.

                        ToDs and support workers in schools are going to have to re-learn things that have become less important in recent years, now that the majority of deaf children are implanted in the first months of life. They are going to have a bubble of children through the system in the next few years who haven't had the benefit of "hearing" as early as their slightly older peers.

                        As for spelling, what you say is certainly true of the way I spell and the word I have most trouble with is one which caused me a little trouble aged about 7 or 8 and I was forced to learn it by rote, by a teacher. I still can't type it fluently. It isn't a word I use a lot.

                        Then again, should anyone ask me to spell a word for them I usually have to say "wuh, o, rrrrr, d' " rather than "double-you, oh, arr, dee". I'd have been useless at one of those "spelling bees".

                        M.

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

                    *we don't really read whole words and phrases; we pretty much recreate the text by drawing upon our existing knowledge of language and story ( or facts in non-fiction,

                    This right here? - this seems to explain so much about why people don't understand my emails.

                    Thank you.

                    Signed, an autistic person.

                    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                      Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

                      Interestingly, Phonics packages that have been disastrous with most kids have worked well for a number of autisitc kids we'd worked with, but to a limited level.

                3. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
                  Boffin

                  Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

                  I learned to read upside-down before I could read the right way up. My mother used to read my Noddy books to me, and when i asked her where she was on the page, she started following her finger along the lines of text. Of course, I was sitting opposite her, so the book was upside-down to me, and that became the normal way for me to hold a book when reading. Many years later, when I was in the Forces, we oiks used to plot and write on the back side of the transparent Display A and Display B maps, so that the scientists could do their predictions (of fallout spread) on the front side, so I learned to write backwards as well. I can read and write backwards or forwards, both upside-down and upright. This also came in yseful one day at work, our draughtsman was stumped, he had been tasked with writing the word "OBSOLETE" on several hundred drawings of parts we no longer made, but with the proviso that the writing should be able to be erased without damaging the original drawing if the part was reintroduced into manufacture. I took one of the transparencies, turned it over, and wrote "OBSOLETE" backwards on the back side, then turned it right side up again to show the writing the correct way round, but which could be erased simply by turning the drawing over again and rubbing the text out.

              2. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. druck Silver badge

              Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

              Tables to 10x makes sense. We only needed 12x though when we had shillings and inches, but it has no intrinsic value today.

              I'd argue that the 16 times table, up to 16x16, is rather useful in these here parts.

              1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

                Err, yes and no

                Because that's a bit specialised, and can wait.

                Also, kids are taught partitioning quite early on.

                So will easily get that 7x16 = 7x10 +7x6 or 2(7x8) and so on

                ( and that 5x12 is 5x10+....etc).

    3. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

      At university I was a Tech Helper which was a voluntary role for those more technically gifted students. It meant that you were supposed to help other students who were struggling. One day I was asked to help two media students who were having a problem. This was their third year final project and was the big one which a lot of their grade would rest on. This was in the last millenium back when what I can do now with videos on my phone was considered a big deal to be done on a desktop. The problem turned out to be that most of the files they'd digitised from tape the previous day had vanished. The uni had one high spec computer (a Mac) that was as advanced as the budget had stretched to. It was runing Media 100 from memory and probably a quite early version of that. Each of the groups on the media course was allocated four days on the computer. Day one was digitising day two and three were editing with rendering done overnight on day three and into day four. Then the finished product was supposed to be ready to be copieed off and before the next lot were allowed on. Memory on an external hard drive was very tight and only one project was able to be on the machine at any one time.

      The files for these two girls were showing in the media bin on the editing system but greyed out and missing from the folder. I searched and they'd gone completely it was very odd as this had never happened before, The files were too big to be in the trash (or just weren't there) and there were some other files that had appeared which would have overwritten the space on the drive. They said that two other students had been hannging round the machine the previous evening when they'd had to stop. These two were identified as being in the other room on a tape editing machine I'll call them Thick and Less Thick. I got the lecturer for the Media course and he asked if they had touched the computer. At first they said no but eventually admitted they'd deleted some of the video files becuase they were now "in the editing system". They hadn't listened when it was explained how the system worked and had assumed that the files were magically stored by the editing prog. They were the next group timetabled to use the machine and had thought they could digitise their own files before the girls had finished.

      Thick couldn't see what the problem was whereas it was dawning on Less Thick that something was very wrong. Less Thick went white when the Lecturer mentioned that they had sabotaged the girls final project, destroyed files and hindered a fellow student in their work. These he explained were very serious disciplinary offences and could result in the two of them being unable to finish their degree. Thick still hasn't cottoned on that they're in trouble and three years of university study may well be in the toilet. Less Thick is now really really uncomfortable. The lecturer (imagine Brian Blessed but with a quieter Scots accent) said it was obvious that they'd not done it deliberately. However they couldn't go unpunished so they would give a day of their editing time to the girls so they could redigitise the missing work. Thick started to protest that they hadn't done anything wrong and Less Thick immediately told him to shut up. They also had to offer to do that work if the girls wanted them to. They didn't and just wanted to get on with it themselves. The lads were told that they would also be shunted to last in the timetable and had better pray that some other group didn't need all their editing time so that they had their full four days.

      Thankfully the girls had detailed notes and knew exactly what needed to be redigitised from the rushes on tape. Somebody did the same thing a year later but to themselves this time thinking it was safe to delete!

  6. jake Silver badge

    Contrary to popular belief, the customer is not always right.

    Firing customers who are a more of a pain in the ass than they are worth is one of the truly great joys of being self employed.

    About three times per year, or thereabouts, I quite literally use the phrase "you're fired" to a client of mine, or of the wife[0]. Frankly, I quite enjoy it. The look on their face when they realize I am dead serious is priceless.

    [0] She's a softy, so I draw this detail by default.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Contrary to popular belief, the customer is not always right.

      This. When customers have literal dog **** in your way, and blame such a problem on you, not their dogs or their inability to look after the dogs, you can only be kind so many times before dropping them like a... you get the picture.

      Add to that the busy client, whom insists you can only go do the job for them at 7am every wednesday, even when you explain in winter it's too dark and frozen outside to do said job. Then when you drop them you notice (driving by on a different day) they are at home all day and week. Wednesday is the only day they head out to work from 8am, thus were running you in circles for their own sadistic gratification of getting you in the only time inconvenient for them so they have a reason to complain every time!

    2. Andrew Moore

      Re: Contrary to popular belief, the customer is not always right.

      I recently had the opportunity to fire an ex-client (I'd already fired them before). Got a text from them screaming that they were just about to board a flight to the Bahamas when it came to their attention that their payment gateway on their website wasn't working AND I HAVE TO FIX IT NOW!!! I completely ignored it as I knew the payment gateway had recently changed their terms and conditions and the ex-client had obviously ignored any emails asking them to accept the new T&Cs.

  7. Pete 2

    Mistaken identity

    > Ever taken a call from a customer unable to discern fact from paranoid fiction?

    Many decades ago, when the concept of "technical support" was still in its infancy I was called in to see the boss's boss's boss. Me and another individual from the "industrial" (I worked with "commercial" customers) side of the biz.

    We got a rollocking because one customer had filled in a survey (I didn't know we did surveys. If I had, I would have "helpfully" filled them out for my customers - just another example of going "above and beyond") and given a big fat ZERO for customer satisfaction. Somehow mentioning me and my colleague by name, hence the carpeting.

    When put under the spotlight about this, I rightfully said that I have never heard of this customer. Nor were they one of "ours" - which my colleague agreed with. The B's B's B took all that in, then ignored it with the words "I don't want to know. Go out there and fix it"

    From the customer's point of view this all worked out fine. They got the attention they were seeking. They got loads of free support and they got their own lack of technical competency sorted out. They also got my office phone number - although by an error of transcription (I'm sure I said " ... 2, 3" - but they wrote down 3, 2 ) that phone line was terminated at a junction box in a store room.

  8. Bogbody

    Customers

    Ah customers ......

    Cant live with them

    Cant pay the bill's without them ...... .

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: Customers

      Ah, the lack of correct apostrophe placement is strong in this one.

      1. TheProf Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Customers

        Ah, the lack of correct apostrophe placement is strong in this one.

        FIFY

        1. DJV Silver badge

          Re: Customers

          No, be fair. An attempt was definitely made to place one apostrophe in there - you can easily spot it if you concentrate on all the words that shouldn't have an apostrophe in them.

          1. wjake
            Pint

            Re: Customers

            It's all very clear:

            Bill the landlord

            Bill the grocer

            Bill the Barman

            1. DJV Silver badge

              Re: Customers

              You forgot the Old Bill, who need bribing have tickets to their annual Policeman's Ball for sale.

      2. Weiss_von_Nichts

        Re: Customers

        Yes. Even I know how to write "C'nt".

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Many moons ago, worked at a place that used to have processing plants that used modems to dial in and drop files onto a mainframe (yes, mainframe).

    One manager at a processing plant called in to complain he couldn't send files. He was really not a happy man. It was our fault, it always used to work. We'd changed something. So in the interests of soothing the situation, I asked him to try there and then so I could diagnose the problem. With him on the phone he starts the transfer. Those of you familiar with old tech will remember that the modem starts the negotiation (so you can hear it), and then goes silent. This one never stopped warbling and of course would not connect.

    So next day, with a modem in the company pool car (a beat up old diesel Orion that had a perpetual cloud of blue smoke behind it), I make the 3 hour journey to the plant. The manager greets me with indifference and points at the modem. My gaze, however, is immediately drawn to the mess of wires hanging out of the phone point.

    Me: "What happened there!"

    Him: "I couldn't hear it (pointing at the modem). It kept going quiet, so I just removed some wires until I could hear it."

    I just advised him to get the telephone company in to fix the mess, there wasn't anything I could do with it. Nothing left to do but jump in the car and make the 3 hour journey back to the office.

    Fun days!

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Nothing left to do but jump in the car and make the 3 hour journey back to the office.

      After telling him there would be a serious bill for the unnecessary visit.

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

        I doubt that.. "worked at a place" means he was employed by that company. There is no visible bill until you visit the bean-counter with a detailed report about 6 hours of wasted time. Which might not play out so well in some environments.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          " "worked at a place" means he was employed by that company. "

          Not always true, and I'm a living example of it. I'm a contractor permanently based at a client's site. I work AT the client's site, but FOR my employer.

          1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

            Oh, that interpretation, I would have used a different wording then. But only the TO could answer that...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Ditto - same here, based at a NHS hospital. I tell people I pretend to work for the ICT department, while I actually work for a different company.

            In company terms, I'm known as a site engineer. If I'm on hols or ill, they can get a field engineer to cover me. This engineer is known as a "floater"!

            1. Precordial thump

              It's a self-preservation strategy

              It's the ones that float that are the hardest to get rid of

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: It's a self-preservation strategy

                To be fair, the "floaters" (engineering type) were easy to get rid of. They turned off late and buggered off early.

                I did mention that they were like birds - free spirited and didn't like to tied to one place. Also like birds, make a bloody mess and leave it for me to clear up.....

        2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          I doubt that.. "worked at a place" means he was employed by that company. There is no visible bill until you visit the bean-counter with a detailed report about 6 hours of wasted time. Which might not play out so well in some environments.

          There is a small, subtle difference between telling somebody there will be a serious bill and there being such a bill. Just telling him will already bring its own reward (read: punishment for that manager). Having that bill truly materialize is just the icing on the cake.

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Unless they had a transfer charging system in place.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Unless they had a transfer charging system in place.

            Where I work at the moment there is such a ridiculous system of internal wooden dollar trading that you have to think carefulLH before interacting with anyone from another department leat they inflate the time and effort to increase their worth. It is strangling communication and teamwork.

        4. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "There is no visible bill until you visit the bean-counter with a detailed report about 6 hours of wasted time. Which might not play out so well in some environments."

          And in the days before phone cameras, this kind of thing was likely to be heavily disputed.

  10. big_D Silver badge
    Coat

    Social Media incompetence...

    At a previous job, I was forced to take on the role of Social Media Manager. I was supposed to write a German post for Xing, an English post for LinkedIn and one in both languages for Facebook every single day... I tried to point out to the CEO that over posting isn't considered good practice, I also tried to tell him that the different platforms need different approaches, but he wasn't having any of it.

    So we started our campaign. The first day or so went smoothly, although I had to submit the posts to approval to the CEO and he was never happy with the wording and re-wrote most of the short, witty posts into long meandering nonsense, it was also hard to find enough topics to write about as well, I tried to say we should put in things about the IT industry in general, but there was an iPhone zero-day, so I wrote a warning that Apple had patched the zero-day and users should update their phones. Vetoed, I can't bad-mouth other companies. Our own stuff? I couldn't mention our staff (GDPR), I couldn't mention our customers (he wouldn't let me get clearance to use their names), most of our products were taboo as well, we wrote software for the slaughter and meat-processing industry and he didn't want a PETA shitstorm attached to our posts...

    Anyway, I usually found something to write about. But after a couple of days, the posts weren't appearing! I was called into the CEO's office and he tried to wipe the floor with me, the posts weren't appearing, I wasn't doing my job! I quickly went to his computer and navigated to the relevant Facebook, LinkedIn and Xing pages and there were the posts.

    Well, I must be incompetent, because they weren't appearing in his feed! I tried to explain about their ranking systems and how they used his interests and browsing history to work out what was of interest to him, and that although he was CEO of the company, Facebook & Co. didn't know that and, based on him browsing his favourite football and basketball teams all day long, they had decided that his company wasn't of interest to him!

    That didn't work, I had to find a way to change the Facebook ranking system, so that the company posts popped to the top of his feed every day! ARRGH! I quit left shortly thereafter and I'm much happier now.

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

      Re: Social Media incompetence...

      > ARRGH!

      So you literally ran away screaming...

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: I quit left shortly thereafter

      Whether you quit left or right, I'm sure it was the best professional decision you've ever made.

    3. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

      Re: Social Media incompetence...

      That brought back memories of clients to walk away from.

      "All you have to do is write a web page that keeps my business at the top of the search results for ********* in Manchester" (in perpetuity, with no updates required, ever) and "I've not got a huge budget but I've been told you're really good so it shouldn't take you very long to do".

  11. don't you hate it when you lose your account Bronze badge

    Yes the users are bad

    But it's the absolute bullshit that techs spout that has given me the most fun.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: Yes the users are bad

      Especially when equipped with the BOFH excuse calendar

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Yes the users are bad

      At some point, the world in general must have come to the (incorrect) conclusion that I prefer technical terms babbled out basically at random by users who think they know what these terms mean, but don't. For example, I was helping someone get some remote working up and running when this lockdown got into view, containing the following interaction:

      Them: I know the VPN you set up and I'm connected to it, but the network doesn't work.

      Me: Do you mean you have no internet access, no access to local resources, or both?

      Them: No, the internet is working, but the server isn't.

      Me: Ah. Local resources then. Can you go to [internal address deleted] and tell me what it says?

      Them: No, that thing works. It's the server that doesn't work.

      Me: The server doesn't work?

      Them: Yes.

      Me: The page you said works is on the server.

      Them: I know that. The server is working, but the router isn't pinging the network when I ask it to.

      Me: What specifically are you trying to do?

      Them: I'm trying to access the network protocol.

      Me: What is the end goal for what you're doing?

      Them: I have to open the accounting data.

      Me: How do you do that?

      Them: I open this program and use it to open the database.

      Me: And where is the database?

      Them: It's online, but the firewall isn't letting me open it.

      Me: You read that with an accounting program, right?

      Them: Yes. That is working fine.

      Me: What happens when you try to open that program?

      Them: It crashes with an error message.

      Me: What does the message say?

      Them: It says the network driver address was invalid. [When finally read verbatim, it says the file couldn't be found]

      The issue ended up being a configuration problem in client-side software. I helped solve it. If they could realize that server, router, firewall, and network aren't just catchall words that apply to any kind of technical thing, we could have skipped that and many other sections of that particular conversation. The most useful thing that I think would improve my impromptu support calls would be that error messages are only ever read verbatim and are read fully the first time I ask, without the typical response of "It isn't important" or "That's not the problem". It's surprising how many of these I get given that I don't work in support. These experiences and the many stories here have convinced me to stay away if I can.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yes the users are bad

        You're absolutely right, doublelayer. I've also been on the other end, of course:

        Me: I can't connect to the internet. The DSL light is flashing continuously, and the Internet light is off. There's a lot of noise on the line. (Lights clearly indicate of loss of carrier between modem and ISP, and obvious 60Hz tone in background)

        Tech support lvl 1: Have you tried rebooting your computer? Yes? Well, do it again. How about the modem? Yes? Do it again. Let's look at your network settings...

        (An hour later...)

        Tech support lvl 1: As I'm unable to resolve your problem, I'm going to transfer you to level 2.

        Tech support lvl 2: The DSL light is flashing, and you've rebooted the modem? Can you get to the modem config page? Good. Please read me such and such a line... whoa. That's a LOT of noise. I'll dispatch a tech to fix the line.

        1. Shooter

          Re: Yes the users are bad

          I loved my old (boutique) DSL provider for exactly the opposite thing. I would have an issue (rarely, 2-3 times in over 10 years), troubleshoot on my end and give them a call.

          I'd get a real tech on the line, not a script monkey. I'd tell him what I've already done, and he would believe me. "Right then, we'll run some tests on our end". It always turned out to be an actual line problem. Once it was because AT&T cut their own line while running service to my neighbor :(

          I was sad when that provider decided to get out of the residential service biz.

          1. Mark192 Bronze badge

            Re: Yes the users are bad

            Zen internet (UK provider) are like this. Their business model appears to be to provide sufficient pay and conditions that they can attract and retain people bright enough to do the job, and also to train them well.

            I used to be with BT, who very much take the opposite approach.

            1. Trollslayer Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Yes the users are bad

              Zen don't outsource.

              I am with Sky but will be changing to Zen at some point, very impressed.

            2. Juan Inamillion

              Re: Yes the users are bad

              I used to be in Zen's Partner Program so I got a small commission if I sold clients their services (I was an independent Apple trader, retired now). Incredibly helpful, they'd even help out if the client equipment hadn't been purchased from them. In nearly 20 years I never had a complaint about them.

              1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                Re: Yes the users are bad

                Might be looking for an ISP before too long. Just went to visit Zen's website, but it's one of those where unless I agree to all the cookies - including the tracking and analytics cookies - it keeps an intrusive pop-up on the screen. I'm sure this isn't correct behaviour. Some websites seem to get it right - even ElReg's recent updated cookie policy allows me to stop all except "essential" cookies.

                Zen has just fallen down my list of possibles :-(

                M.

          2. TSM

            Re: Yes the users are bad

            My ISP's technical support used to be really good, but then they got bought out by a larger firm and now it's back to script monkey level. Fortunately I hardly ever need them so it's not too big a problem.

            It was difficult when my 10-year-old ADSL modem died though. It was impossible to get them to understand that a problem with the line would not cause the modem's power light not to come on, nor would it stop the various computers on the LAN from being able to talk to each other. They insisted that I had to try moving it to a different phone socket, replacing the phone cable, etc. before we could do anything else. We even had to have a tech visit to test the line, which unsurprisingly was fine.

            When we finally did manage to convince them that the modem was dead, they wanted to charge me $150 or so for a new one - I had to explicitly ask why I couldn't get the "free modem with a 2-year contract" deal that any new customer could get to get them to concede that yes, I could do that and not have to pay for a new modem.

      2. Lilolefrostback

        Re: Yes the users are bad

        To be fair, sometimes we do the same. Last week, I received an email from a colleague (same IT dept, same job title and description) saying that when he'd run a program, it had given him an error. No details profferred, just that there was an error.

        I had to actually email him for details on the error. Got the details, but no apology.

        If we cannot do things sensibly, why should we expect our users to do so?

        1. ibmalone Silver badge

          Re: Yes the users are bad

          Not long ago I had an email. It read approximately:

          "Hi, when I run X I get an error."

          Where "X" was the thing they were trying to run, but "an error" genuinely read, "an error".

          I had to resist the temptation to tell them that it could be fixed by "doing something".

          1. Ken Shabby Bronze badge
            Trollface

            Re: Yes the users are bad

            Now I get this error "Something went wrong..."

      3. pfleming

        Re: Yes the users are bad

        I had a boss who used to complain when his CPU was acting up. It didn't have enough storage. Couldn't use the search feature in email either...

        1. the hatter

          Re: Yes the users are bad

          Not really their fault, just archaic usage. When the main cabinet of transistors, valves and cables didn't contain a potted silicon die, it was the CPU. Miniaturisation happened and more and more parts became integrated into the big cabinet, and then into the little boxes. Pretty sure even when I was at school in the 80s the diagram of a PC was labelled 'keyboard', 'VDU', 'CPU', 'printer'.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Yes the users are bad

            Yes, by the 80s I was teaching and I'm pretty sure there were posters in the computer ed rooms with such labels.

      4. irrelevant

        Re: Yes the users are bad

        Absolutely. I've had callers saying they had an error doing something, and when asked what the error was, "I can't remember, it was yesterday!" That's only beaten, of course, by the "I don't know, it's working now." The only resolution is to ask them to call back a bit quicker, like when the error is still on-screen, if happens again. What they expected me to do when they called, I have no idea. Consult my crystal ball, perhaps?

      5. Neil Woolford

        Re: Yes the users are bad

        Ah, that moment when you have to ask then "What are you trying to do?". Often repeatedly, to cut through the mix of panic and bullshit. Also "What can you see on the screen?", again repeatedly to get to the error message or status indicator that actually starts you on the path to working out what is actually happening.

        My brother (never do family support, but you knew that) has a speciality, which is that he begins to read the message, then about five words in starts saying "... dah de dah de dah..." rather than just reading what it says out to me.

        1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

          Re: Yes the users are bad

          I often get "and then some numbers"

          Yes, those numbers are the error code and will point me at the exact error. That's the only really useful bit of the message, not something to be skipped over.

    3. Old Used Programmer

      Re: Yes the users are bad

      Hmmm... Yes... Like the time I was in a meeting that was almost all management, between the project I was on and the data center where it was going to be run.

      After describing what we intended to do (ASCII async to an IBM mainframe DB2 system), one of the data center people said flatly, "It can't be done." So I innocently said, "Oh... In that case, why was I doing just that 5 years ago at another company?" The data center person grumped and said, "Well...*we've* never done it." Management on my side of the table actually noticed the goal post move and the data center management said they'd look into it. Couple of months later...that data center announced a new service, ASCII async to EBCDIC data transfers.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a customer's employee that has attempted to blame my software for his dumb mistakes multiple times, complete with "no, I never clicked there" and all. Eventually, I was forced to make the program take screenshots every time certain critical features were invoked (as well as when "yes" was clicked on the confirmation box, etc). After getting caught lying a couple of times in front of their manager, they got the hint and stopped with the bullshit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh I've seen something very similar but from the other perspective!

      Had one guy who wrote some software to process some data from a file. It worked fine for a while, then suddenly started failing. Just blamed the operating system - it COULDN'T be his code! This went on for a few days, then I had the idea of comparing the input file from a run of his code where it worked, and one where it didn't (FYI, this is going beyond the remit of my job at the time).

      The failing file had odd characters in there that caused his code to fail.

      His response was "Well the system should be able to cope with it". I had to politely tell him the system just ran whatever code he wrote, and if his code was bad.....

      Never did find out what caused the input file issues. It all rather conveniently went quiet.

      1. james_smith Silver badge

        I've got a similar issue right now. Wrote and extensively tested a new data import feature on my Linux development laptop. Deploy new app version to my boss, where the import fails on his Windows machine. It turns out the system that generates the data to be imported checks the OS and produces a subtly different format for Windows.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      I had a similar issue in one of my consulting gigs. I had created the application that the user had specced, and testing had gone swimmingly until one day the user called and complained that his notifications in said application were not going out to the right people.

      I checked the code and the logs, and could find nothing wrong. I racked my brain trying to find out what the issue could actually be. After two days of searching, I finally hit upon an idea : he was using a local group that was named the same as the group defined on the server.

      Not bothering with asking him the question because I was sure he'd deny any fault on his part, I simply changed the log to record the actual names of the people that were supposed to be notified. Sure enough, the next time he called to complain that it was _still_ not sending to the proper people, I checked the log and compared it to the server group : not equal.

      I printed out the log and went to his desk and confronted him with the proof.

      Never heard of him again.

  13. Sam Therapy
    Pint

    Thousands of 'em. I was one of the poor buggers working in the call centre for "A Major UK Electrical Retailer", as they are sometimes known, and while some of the calls were genuine complaints, either about the products they'd bought or the arsey service they'd got in a store, many of them were either total bollocks or completely insane.

    Had a customer phone up in tears, telling us she'd bought a camcorder that was dud and the store refused to exchange or refund, even though it was only a few days old. I called the store in question and had a chat with the manager who told me "Oh, her... yep, she brought this camcorder in and it was completely buggered. Scratched and bashed about, big cracks down the casing, and when we opened it up, a ton of makeup powder fell out. She's obviously wrecked it herself so we told her it wasn't covered under warranty".

    I had the joyous task of calling her back to explain. That went well...like buggery it did. She went absolutely bananas, screaming down the phone (and I mean it), threatening to go to the store and kick off, break their windows and stab the manager, and generally being rather displeased.

    Any road up, as per company instructions that all threats of violence should be reported to the police, I called the plod and passed on her details.

    The daftest one I remember was someone saying their phone started to float in mid air one evening, and tried to smash its way out of the window. I assured the customer we didn't sell flying phones.

    Then there was the one my mate took about a printer with a live lizard in the box.

    Beer icon because... beer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The lizard I can believe.

      But the customer who's LCD TV "broke all by itself" while his "totally honest never lies" daughter was playing a game, and the breakage was exactly the shape of a PS3 controller, I don't.

    2. Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

      "She went absolutely bananas".

      In other news, Ladbroke's has declined to take any bets, at any odds, on whether or bot 'She' was named 'Karen'.

    3. logicalextreme Bronze badge

      Did said mate have the temptation to start referring to himself as "Mr Lizard"?

  14. chivo243 Silver badge
    Devil

    No Mention yet?

    PEBKAC? You Twat...

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: No Mention yet?

      Also known as a "layer 8 problem" or the "swivel-chair-interface" (the German "Drehstuhlschnittstelle").

      Or listed with the identification of 10-t...

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: No Mention yet?

        I prefer PICNIC myself and coming from the mainframe, I can still tell some nice tales about unreliable peripherals (aka users).

        EDIT:

        If you think layer 8 is bad, try problems at layer 9.

        1. Keven E

          Re: No Mention yet?

          Keyboard monitor interface error.

    2. Gala

      Re: No Mention yet?

      Haven't seen it mentioned here before (and I suspect it might have fallen out of use in recent years for, er...reasons!), but an IT department of my acquaintance used ISIS (Idiot Sitting In Seat).

  15. ColinPa

    "Lying" to your boss

    We had an Asian customer who rolled out an application and very publicly announced it. The problem was that some bank transactions done last thing at night got lost. After a day or two there were tweets like " do not do your online banking before you go to bed if you want it to work". A major problem to the image of the bank.

    The manager got on to technical support and wanted action IMMEDIATELY. Of course he could not wait for us to look at the problem, and he escalated it up our management chain. He went to his boss and said as it was all the vendor's fault, the vendor( us) was going to fix it. It was all about loss of face etc. From our side it took a lot of effort to handle the management flack - more than the effort to "fix the problem".

    The memo back to the customer - copying all the important people, was very calm and along the lines of "We have looked into this problem and there is no product defect. We can see that the records are deleted because at 0030 each day a userid AUTOOPS1 is issuing the command to clear the messages on the work queue. This command was successful in deleting the requested messages". It turned out that in testing, they ran an automated job overnight to clear old messages from the queue, to get a nice clean system for the next day's testing. This code had been ported into production, so any messages submitted just before this job ran were purged.

    I heard the next meeting was a blood bath - The CTO said he had phoned the CEO of my company and asked for help, and it turns out to be a simple user error! A major loss of face for the CTO. We never heard from the manager again and no one would tell us what happened to him.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: "Lying" to your boss

      We never heard from the manager again and no one would tell us what happened to him.

      Depends a bit on the country, but in some countries there is a pretty good chance he got (self)promoted to daisy pusher.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Lying" to your boss

        More likely promoted to CEO/CFO.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: "Lying" to your boss

          Highly unlikely in Asia after making your boss loose face.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "Lying" to your boss

      "The CTO said he had phoned the CEO of my company and asked for help"

      I wonder what the T stood for. Not Technical, obviously.

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: "Lying" to your boss

        Twat ?

  16. Gala

    Size matters

    Happens too often to recall specific incidents, but it's always amusing when telephone customers clearly overestimate the size of the support department and assume we don't communicate with each other.

    The best conversations are usually along the lines of 'I spoke to one of your colleagues yesterday and they said...' and I get a happy glow and get to reply, 'No, you spoke to me, I remember the conversation and I said exactly the same thing I am saying today.'.

    1. Mark192 Bronze badge

      Re: Size matters

      This.

  17. William Higinbotham

    Spooked Myself

    Companies keep tweaking up features with their software, and like all above, I catch myself asking what the hell !? I then wish for the old Norton Commander and Compuserve again for a short minute. Then I realize I am stuck with this feature until I try to see if I can turn it off.

    Old ASCII Guy

  18. A2HostingUserEnraged
    Holmes

    Beware enterprising users...

    Several geological ages ago, it seems, I was contracting for a major financial company writing a VB4/Access2 (yep, MANY years back.. 1996 my CV says) reconciliation system which involved users typing in data from an ever-inceasing stack of paper Traveller's Cheque slips and my code trying to make sense of the input, reconciling each record with theoretically matching data from an imported text file and producing a bunch of reports.... mmmm.... Crystal Reports... lovely.

    It went live and worked pretty smoothly for a couple of months, then suddenly one day the numbers stopped adding up, dates were going haywire and all-sorts. Journals didn't add up any more and reports on data that shouldn't have changed for weeks had altered dramatically.

    By then I was working on another project for a department upstairs, I'd not changed the code for some time and there were no other developers that might have (all the other techies in my old team were writing code for the ominous AS/400 - IIRC, something black and TARDIS-like anyway - standing in the corner) so this was most puzzling. I tested and retested, inputting data and nursing it through the process, running the reconciliation, producing reports and all was fine every time.

    The machine it ran on was OK, running repairs on the db file produced nothing scary, no other programs used the database at all, my program didn't even have an 'edit this old record from weeks ago' screen anyway, how on earth was this happening ?

    After much head-scratching and somewhat in desperation, I tried to get a handle on what point in the process everything was going awry, I added a function to store record counts and totals of various fields from important tables into another table and had this function run on startup, shutdown and various key points in the workflow.

    All worked fine from that point, classic 'add diagnostics, problem goes away' scenario, I was wary of touching anything so left the row counter code in, executed the time-honoured 'walk away slowly backwards' procedure and things were peachy... for a while, then the problems came back as before.

    I was called back downstairs to sort things out again, checked my meta-numbers table and was surprised to find that some pretty dramatic changes in record counts were happening between two key points, namely the program closing down and the program starting up.

    In that order.

    The data was changing when my program wasn't actually running.

    Some swift investigation resulted in a confession by one of the more enterprising users that in order to not have to wait until that PC was free, and to save time with pesky stuff like data validation, he was typing his pink slips into a spreadsheet on his own PC, copying it to a floppy disk and using the Access import wizard to insert the data on the application machine.

    Of course, this was just MS Access on a local drive so credentials ? - pah - anyone could get at it if they could get their bum on the seat. Local machine, no internet connection, LAN just for printers, super-secure room anyway with all the foreign currency lying around so what's the problem ?

    He had reverted to boring old manual input when the sirens went off and kept his head down while I was running around with my hair on fire, but then started being enterprising again, when things had settled down, one would hope with some fixes applied to his process.

    He was told in no uncertain terms not to do that again by his manager but I tidied up the new 'DetectEnterprisingUser' functionality and left it in just in case, and added some choice comments to explain why it was doing this; and walked away slowly again.

    Several months after that I was called downstairs again, not by a phone call from the users as before, but by my current manager telling me my old manager had most sternly requested my presence at a specific time in his office that afternoon. Curious. I turned up as requested and found him, my old team leader, a suit from Personnel and a stranger waiting for me, all having clearly been there a while already.

    It turned out that the stranger was a new contract developer they had hired to make some changes to my system and he had read my 'choice comments', which included the expletive 'c*nt' in close proximity to the christian name of the enterprising user in the explanation about the record counting. He reported me for my potty fingers and it was only my old team leader pleading on my behalf that stopped it being fatal to my contract.

    Sheesh... reporting your predecessor for rude comments... that's simply not cricket !!

    That same team leader chap once fell foul of the super-secure nature of the Traveller's Cheque room, the door opened by card access and required a card to exit as well as enter. After a particularly fraught evening out, one morning he was at his desk and felt the need to ah, dispel his breakfast. He got up, ran for the door, realised his card was on his desk, made it half way back before decorating the carpet right in the middle of the room, in full view of the entire technical team and a dozen admin workers - a great boss, and still a good friend :)

    Holmes icon, because it was an investigation, and that's what I'm reading right now.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Beware enterprising users...

      Sheesh... reporting your predecessor for rude comments... that's simply not cricket !!

      On the other hand, you can be pretty sure he did read the source, so not all is bad.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Beware enterprising users...

        I've recanted this story before, but when I was in the support for a large multinational business system supplier, I was the co-ordinating specialist for a consorium of educational customers who were getting a reputation for not checking or testing any fixes we supplied to them. Unfortunately, they were important for PR reasons, which is why they had an allocated specialist as a primary contact point.

        One of my jobs every week was to call my contact there and ask whether they had made any progress in apply any of the updates or fixes they'd been given.

        One frustrating day, I put into the problem record my true feelings, something along the lines of "Sheesh, <Customer name> applying any fixes? Not a chance!". It was only mildly derogatory, but what I didn't realize was that not only did the customer have a technical advocate, they also had a relationship manager who allowed them to read the problem records....

        I was duly hauled into my managers office with the relationship manager, and whilst my manager privately agreed with my sentiments, he had to be seen to be telling me off.

        Unfortunately, a few months later, the then relationship manager moved into the support centre - as my manager! Fortunately, he was quite a decent guy, and we actually ended up with a good working relationship once we had cleared the air.

    2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

      Re: Beware enterprising users...

      > reporting your predecessor for rude comments

      Oh when I see such thing I tell the customer "Oh, that's from my predecessor who got fired...". Doesn't have to be true though, but quite often it is.

    3. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: Beware enterprising users...

      Ah comments in code.

      I (and I am not alone by a long shot) have often included choice comments in the code to explain bits of code. Usually the comments are critical of some less than stellar policies or practises necessitating some jiggery pokery, so more likely to be potty mouthed against the company (possibly manglement) than any specific user.

      I do recall colleagues being told off and asked to remove the offending comments.

      I suppose ideally anyone above team leader shouldn't have clearance to see code. I mean what is the point, it is not like its likely (apart from rare exceptions) they'd understand it.

    4. logicalextreme Bronze badge

      Re: Beware enterprising users...

      Beware enterpis*

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Beware enterprising users...

      Sheesh... reporting your predecessor for rude comments... that's simply not cricket !!

      Very Swedish, though.

      Our hiring process is totally broken so: Whenever a new person shows up at my TBTF they will do everything to suck up to management during their 'probation period', including grassing up on their colleagues to make themselves look bigger.

      These idiots really think that "with management support" this will have no consequences for them.

  19. ThinkingMonkey

    When customer descriptions go high and right...

    About 25 years ago the computer repair shop where I worked would be very busy after thunderstorms. Lightning running in on electrical wires, phone lines, etc. Using the decidedly unscientific yet highly accurate "sniff test" (simply smelling near the power supply fan), it was pretty easy to tell if a computer's woes were due to being burned by what I call a "power surge".

    A day or two after one such storm a lady brought her desktop computer in, I gave it the "test" and told her it was at least a burned power supply, possibly much more. In many cases, the "surge" didn't go inward past the power supply, though. Surprisingly, she said that was not possible. I said what do you mean it's not possible. She said it couldn't have gotten "power surged" during a storm.

    I asked her what gave her that idea. She replied that it was because the computer was "underground". I was dumbfounded. I asked her what "underground" meant and she said "It's in the basement". When I pointed out that it STILL had to be plugged into the wall and power could STILL run in on the lines, despite being "under ground" she got a little red-faced and said "Just fix it.". So I replaced the power supply, tested it, it worked fine and everyone was happy.

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

      Re: When customer descriptions go high and right...

      You got lucky! You got a customer who understood what you meant!

      A bull* customer would have gone rage.

  20. AbortRetryFail
    FAIL

    I done nuffin

    "It just stopped working. There's obviously a bug in your code."

    "Did you change anything?"

    "No, absolutely nothing. It just stopped working. Your code is at fault"

    (clickerty)

    "Ok, well I am looking at the logs and I can see that you have swapped out the <piece of discrete hardware> for another, that has a different serial number, different firmware version, different configuration, and I'm seeing error messages saying that you haven't connected it up properly."

    "Oh, yes, we did do that"

  21. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Fake BT Call

    I'm not sure why, but this reminds me of an incident with a client who rang and told me he'd just got a call from BT telling him that his broadband will be disconnected and his computer is infected. I told him that it's just a scam, that we provide his broadband anyway, and that it's all untrue.

    "But what about my PC being infected?"

    I explained that his PC wasn't infected, it was just a scam call and that they didn't know who he was.

    "but they told me that my computer is sending out viruses"

    I explained that it wasn't true - it was a con, and that everything the guy told him was untrue.

    "but he got me to go into the event viewer thing on my PC and told me I had errors, which I had"

    Jesus, I thought, I just want to get off the phone. I patiently explained that every single piece of information the guy had told him was not true.

    "Can you check my computer, just in case"

    Well, I tried to say no, there's no point. But he insisted. He insisted on a thorough check. I spent two hours scanning and checking his computer remotely while I did some other more pointful work. We charged him two hours of time and he was delighted.

    Sometimes, customers will NOT be told, but sometimes it's to our advantage I guess

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

      Re: Fake BT Call

      > "Can you check my computer, just in case"

      Actually the customer did the right thing. If the customer knows not to be an expert an extra confirmation from an expert is needed. In your case it was only the scam call, but it could have been a scam message on the screen, or the computer already being hacked and THEN the call to fix it and so on.

      You might do the same if someone says "your car is strange, XXX is broken. Should I check and repair it?", and you bring it to the auto-shop you trust instead.

    2. Rol Silver badge

      Re: Fake BT Call

      "OK, I'll have a look at your PC for a virus, based solely on the deceitful spiel of a scammer, but while I'm busy doing that, you might want to pop around to your wife's workplace, 'cos she's shagging her boss"

  22. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Devil

    Simply put, these are ex-customers

    Being an independent body I have the luxury that many imprisoned within a hierarchical management chain of command lack. That is telling someone about themselves when they deserve it, and subsequently refusing service. (On the other hand, there is something to be said about a steady paycheck as well. You take the good with the bad.)

    I have had three customers in my time read me a line of bullshit then double-down, and I terminated my business relationship with them right on the spot. One of them a similar situation to that of "Leon." Customers like this are the worst kind and will always abuse you.

    Now, I have also had a few customers embellish their situations, and when called out they sheepishly accepted, we had a chuckle, and we moved on. In one situation I was more diplomatic than the situation warranted, and we moved on never again speaking of the event. In fact, I had mostly forgotten about these until being forced to recall. These are good, human, customers, Whereas the other kind are demon spawn direct from Hell sent to test your fortitude, and they can return to Hell.

    NOT posting anonymously because, if the demons read this, they likely know who they are.

    In the interest of fairness, there has been a situation in which I completely and utterly [expletive deleted] up and was summarily dismissed, deservedly so. It works both ways, I just make it a priority to never be in the position of "dismissee."

  23. Gil Grissum

    There's always the idiot who claims he/she, typed in the right password, but didn't, got locked out of his/her Active Directory account, and wants a root cause analysis of why it happened. When we provide system based proof not only that he/she typed in the wrong password, but how many times, causing him/her to get locked out oftheir account, he/she shuts up, goes away, and leaves us alone.

  24. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Trollface

    "Well, that doesn't explain why I got those phone calls"...

    The correct response in that case is: "You're absolutely right - but since we have already verified that the photos aren't on the CD, there must be something else going here. I'll need the names and numbers of everyone who called you about this, as it sounds like your machine might have gotten a virus on it somehow, and I'll need to make sure they haven't been infected as well. Oh, and I'll need your browser history too..."

    Watch the bullshit machine reverse faster than Boris Johnson's lockdown policy...

  25. Lotaresco Silver badge

    Taking the rap...

    Two decades ago a customer decided to interrupt my holiday, insisting that I had fouled up their client's document storage system with "unauthorised changes". Since I had made no unauthorised change, I was sceptical. The manager in question tried to insist that I drop my holiday and return to the UK at my own expense and "fix the mess you made". I declined pointing out that I was 2,900 metres up a mountain and implying that I was bravely clinging to a cliff to answer the call at severe risk to my own life. I was actually enjoying the apres-ski in a nice warm bar but, I didn't actually lie about it, just a bit economical with the truth. I then removed the battery from my phone and didn't use the phone again until I got home.

    At work the same manager shouted himself hoarse at me, insisting that I had failed, his company would sue me for every penny of the costs (etc.) I checked the system it was failing as the end client had observed. The search engine couldn't find several documents by keyword or content. I checked the source documents and superficially they looked OK, but the timestamps all dated from about two days after my holiday started and the metadata had all gone. Hence keyword search not working.

    I looked carefully at one document that I knew well and found that the phrase "non-blocking inputs" that had been in the original was now "non-lo10cking inputs". All of the documents that I checked had similar errors. This was why some searches for body text were failing.

    I found the manager and asked why the entire document set had been replaced with OCRed copies. He called me names and called me a liar and hen threatened to get me thrown off site with a "You'll never work again!" threat. I documented what I had seen and mailed copies of my report to him, his boss and the end client. The end client investigated and discovered that the manager in question had been "playing with the system" and had deleted all the originals with a classic rm -rf /docdir when what he intended to do was to delete the cache and free up some disk space. He'd then tried to restore from the R/W optical drive "backup" and had managed to overwrite that data with an empty directory by getting his arguments the wrong way round. Fortunately all logged by the system. He'd then forced his staff to work all weekend OCRing the paper copies to cover up his blunder but they had no time to fix the errors.

    He was escorted from the premises, my contract was reinstated. Victory of a sort.

  26. Richard_Sideways
    Holmes

    Oops

    Back in the Beforetime, when I was a tech guy, we had a small consignment of smart new laptops come in on approval for the corporate bigwigs, and a few of these made it into the pool for the sales guys. Once word got around that there were new lappys available as opposed to the tacky plastic HP ones, ther was a sudden spate of mysteriously broken machines come in... once the pool of the shiny new ones was exhausted, this didn't stop the tide of smashed screens but all we had left were the knackered old stock of paving slabs salvaged from the refresh. This did not go down well with those wishing to show off at the Travelshed for mobile reps and we had all kind of tantrums and pissing and moaning about how it wasn't their fault their laptop had "just broken on its own" when you could clearly see when a pen had been slammed inside the thing repeatedly.

    Oh yeah, and one of those BigWigs had 2 of those nice new ones 'stolen on the train', one after the other, just around the time his kids were off to university... weird that, particularly as they had the security tracking on and were traced to the cities his kids went to uni too... passed that one to our fraud team for investigation. When I followed it up, was told it was "sorted, and delete those two from the tracking register".

  27. heyrick Silver badge

    Why I no longer touch people's computers

    I used to fix people's borked machines for a fiver and a cup of tea. Usually they did something stupid like pull the plug without shutting down and XP (current at the time) would wet itself and blue screen on startup. Hirren's BootCD fixed it easily and since these were friends it didn't feel right charging more than a token amount.

    But since I was "the last person to touch the computer", anything that went wrong for months was somehow my fault and needed to be fixed immediately and for free of course.

    The final straw was somebody bad-mouthing me and my so-called skills before contacting me and when I finally did go around to sort out what had happened, complete with an audience, I looked at the computer and said "where's the Dell?". They got a new machine, fucked it up by installing everything in sight with no antivirus, and then tried to make it my fault. I told them it was offensive to be accused of breaking a computer that I've never seen before, you should be ashamed of yourself. I left, and never touched another computer that wasn't my own. That crowd no longer speak to me. I couldn't care less. Life's too short for that sort of bullshit.

    Now when anybody finds out I'm a nerd and ask if I can fix things, I tell them I deal with embedded devices, little microcontrollers like the 8051 or SAM88 chips that you'd find in stuff like bread makers and intelligent rice cookers. If their eyes haven't already glazed over, I start talking about dimly remembered 6502 hacking (they won't know the difference). It usually makes the message clear - I'm some sort of geek but not one who can fix their computer for free. Not getting into that shit again. Ever.

  28. D-Coder

    Sorry to bring in politics, but this sounds exactly like the popular-vote loser currently in a large white house on this side of the pond.

  29. staringatclouds

    More Bullsh*tting Customers

    I once was called to a client back in the days when I was desperate for work & did hardware calls.

    They had a dead server, well it was a Windows NT PC they used as a server.

    The server was situated on a desk in the middle of the office & was never turned off, but one day it just died.

    They did a lot of grinding being an auto repair shop & there was a high concentration of metal dust in the case, which I dutifully hoovered out, but it still wouldn't turn on so I looked at the power supply.

    Took out the PSU, tipped it on it's side & a large pile of highly conductive metal dust started to fall out, so I replaced the PSU & the machine started, I advised the client to get an enclosure to filter the dust, job done, I thought.

    Then they refused to pay, saying I'd walked off site with a CD containing a reference database for parts & they weren't paying until they got it back.

    I hadn't taken anything off their site I even left them the dead PSU to remind them about the dust problem.

    This "he said, she said" continued for months until eventually the CD in question was found in the clients desk drawer.

    It turns out someone installed some freebie ISO mounting software on the server & shared out an ISO of the CD over their network, putting the original CD in a safe place.

    Because the server was never turned off they didn't put the ISO mounting & sharing instructions in the autoexec either, it all had to be done manually from a logged on account, it wasn't documented anywhere, so this was forgotten.

    I let them figure out how to mount & share the ISO file.

  30. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

    Does this just confirm my bias: most celebrities are cunts?

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