back to article Das reboot: That's the only thing to do when the screenshot, er, freezes

Welcome to Friday the 82nd of March. Or is it only us for whom the days are blurring? Luckily The Register is here to bookend your week with our regular On Call feature. Todays teutonic tale comes from "Ben" and concerns that most dreaded of all On Call incidents: the one where someone spots you and ushers you over to help. …

  1. WanderingHaggis

    Funny that

    Once upon a time a colleague who will remain nameless to protect the guilty took a screen shot / copy of the desktop and saved it as the background to the desktop. He then moved all the shortcuts off the desktop and hid the menu bar. When our PFY returned was clicking on "icon" trying shortcuts menus getting more and more frustrated. Nothing would happen, rebooting no good. For some reason his distrust of the team guided him to enlightenment.

    Good days

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Funny that

      That's a hoary old one, points deducted for lack of originality. Up there with plugging their mouse into a different machine, but still on their desk.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Funny that

        Other old ones:

        • Swap mouse buttons
        • Remap mouse buttons to different functions (requires custom mouse application)
        • Small amount of tape on the optical sensor
        • Removing the battery of a wireless mouse
        • Swapping wireless mice between desks
        • Swapping wireless mouse dongles between systems

        1. AndyMTB

          Re: Funny that

          Or setting someone's VMS prompt to "Help ?" and seeing how long they persevere trying to get out of "Help".

          1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: Funny that

            Or the old ctrl+alt+arrow keys to rotate the screen...

            1. wegie

              Re: Funny that

              "Or the old ctrl+alt+arrow keys to rotate the screen..."

              Those of us with cats who sit on the laptop keyboard for warmth when said laptop is streaming something to the TV are still intimately familiar with that one.

              1. jason_derp Bronze badge
                Linux

                Re: Funny that

                "'Or the old ctrl+alt+arrow keys to rotate the screen...'

                Those of us with cats who sit on the laptop keyboard for warmth when said laptop is streaming something to the TV are still intimately familiar with that one."

                When I made the switch to Linux, my cat pulled those shenanigans on me as well (though it was a desktop and they just like to sit on my keyboard because they're needy jerks). In my Linux distro that combination switches workspaces. So, having dealt with somebody pulling that on me at work and learning how to undo what got done, my cats inflicted on me a new set of symptoms from the same disease. I did not see the "workspace #" words pop up so it took me a bit. (Duckduckgo + Android) = [all my current solutions] .

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Funny that

                Cat arse on the keyboard makes my usually not germaphobic self cringe.

                Any furbaby that sat on my keyboard would be repositioned, delicately by air if required, towards the dirty laundry hamper, where their posterior wouldn't be as much of an issue.

            2. Ozan

              Re: Funny that

              I hated that keyboard shortcut. I always hit it accidentally.

              1. richardcox13

                Re: Funny that

                I just remove it

            3. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

              Re: Funny that

              > Or the old ctrl+alt+arrow keys to rotate the screen...

              Doesn't work any more since Intel remove that functionality a while ago.

              Use iRotate if you need it.

              1. phuzz Silver badge

                Re: Funny that

                It was disabled by default a while ago, but I can still enable it on my work machine which is about five years old.

            4. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Funny that

              If I was prowling the floors of Building 225 at one place, I would in true BOFH style ctrl+alt+arrow key the screen orientation to any unlocked PC & tell their co-workers.

              "I'm in Room 322 or thereabouts if Izzy wants to come & tell me what she did wrong, otherwise I'll be back in 20 minutes to ask her!"

              Fair does that department always tried to poison me with weird confectionery from overseas trips.

          2. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

            Re: Funny that

            Or setting someone's VMS prompt to "Help ?" and seeing how long they persevere trying to get out of "Help".

            A good one was to set the DOS prompt to C:\DOS> and leave the user wondering just what the heck's going on, especially when a DIR shows no DOS files.

            Or to change said prompt to something else like C:> ... leaving them in limbo just where the heck they are.

          3. uridium

            Re: Funny that

            Hit return a few times? ^C ? .. gets me out easy enough.

        2. RedRichie

          NMNMN

          Don't forget levering out the 'N' and 'M' keys and swapping them over.

          All fun and games until you roll in at 9:45 and discover that the victim had one of those characters in their password...

          1. KillStuffMount
            FAIL

            Re: NMNMN

            Had that one completely fizzle when the intended victim turned out to be a touch typer who probably hadn't looked at their keyboard in years.

            1. dvd

              Re: NMNMN

              If you're a touch typist and a hot desker you can 'reserve' your favourite desk by swapping the key tops on the keyboard at that desk.

              1. tony trolle

                Re: NMNMN

                or plug in your cheap keyboard with the worn out keys

          2. ChrisCoderChap

            Re: NMNMN

            There are deeper levels of devilry available along those lines, back in the mid-80's I was working for ICL, VME Comms department, we were implementing x.400 for VME on the shiny new 3900 mainframe using even shinier new DRS300 terminals.

            Great little thin client/office setup, pretty cutting edge at the time, I imagine we were essentially beta-testing them. They were semi-dumb terminals running off a box per team which were mainly just used as terminal hosts to get at the mainframes (with.... tada!!! - multiple terminal sessions on one screen... up to 4 I think, amazing, more than one terminal per box, woohoo!), but we managed to get some games going.

            One feature of the new DRS setup, apart from not looking like a robotic version of ET's head, was you could change the fonts, and even edit them. The traditional trick for newcomers to our team was to do the N/M physical key switch but with added vim, editing the N and M and n and m characters in the typeface to swap those too.

            This meant when you pressed N (which was actually where the M key should be) it displayed N, when you pressed M it displayed M but under the covers of course they were swapped.

            So your lovely S3 code would look perfect, but say BEGIN or THEN, would be interpreted as BEGIM and THEM, the compiler would barf out and you'd be told BEGIN and THEN weren't valid S3 - in those days printing out code was still a thing (god, dot matrix printers grinding away, there are some things one doesn't miss !), and there it'd give away the trick but unless you compared with the keyboard at the next desk it was pretty proof against discovery.

            1. ICL1900-G3

              Re: NMNMN

              Upvote for mention of S3… SFL, anyone?

        3. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: Funny that

          Other old ones:

          Swap mouse buttons

          Remap mouse buttons to different functions (requires custom mouse application)

          Small amount of tape on the optical sensor

          Removing the battery of a wireless mouse

          Swapping wireless mice between desks

          Swapping wireless mouse dongles between systems

          Swapping the mouse and keyboard outputs on a KVM switch. A colleague of mine did this by accident and spent a good few minutes trying to work out why everything had stopped working. He had a degree in engineering which made it all the funnier when he had IT support round to fix this.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Funny that

          Or using your IR wireless IBM PCjr keyboard to control another jr in class.

        5. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Funny that

          Switching the language on unlocked mobile phones left on the desk to Greek, Russian or some other non-Lating langauge.

          I quickly learnt how to change the language without having to look at the display. The first thing I did, once my new handset could be locked was to set a PIN, that stopped the problem.

          1. T. F. M. Reader

            Re: Funny that

            @big_D: "Switching the language"

            These days you don't even need to switch anything. I found out that Google present the initial Account/GMail login screens in the language they guessed from (I suspect) your IP. Now, assume you see everything in an unfamiliar language and an unfamiliar alphabet. That's everything, including an unobtrusive link or button you need to use to switch languages...

            1. Dog11
              Boffin

              Re: Funny that

              Eh, I had one client who accidently switched the default language of Windows. To Hangul (Korean). Fortunately, all the windows system stuff works the same, and if you've done settings enough you can figure how to change it even if you can't read any of the options.

              1. Dwarf Silver badge

                Re: Funny that

                @dog11

                That’s how I used to manage to install and fix NT3.51 /NT4 in both Japanese and German on customer sites whilst speaking neither of those languages. It all goes well until you get an error message ...

              2. big_D Silver badge

                Re: Funny that

                When I first came to Germany, I visited a friend and they lent me a computer, that ran German Windows. I had to go in and change the network settings and give it a dedicated IP address (back then, DHCP servers weren't that common in small companies). I had done it often enough in English that I could do by rote, click Start, click the "System" thing where Control Panel would be, then the thing where Network would be (was close enough, Netzwerk), then the adapter, then...

                Just remembering which option was where in each dialog helped even though I didn't understand the language.

            2. Paul Cooper

              Re: Funny that

              I have problems with that when I'm trying too use a PC belonging to my sisters-in-law. Their first language is Cantonese! I usually have to get them to swithc the language setting for me.

        6. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

          Re: Funny that

          > Remap mouse buttons to different functions (requires custom mouse application)

          Autohotkey. I use it to replace the "forward backward" buttons with "PageUp PageDown".

          1. David 132 Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Funny that

            I have an AutoIt script, inspired by an old Verity Stob article ("Cruft Scale") that idles for N seconds (where 20<N<240), then jumps the mouse pointer an inch to the left, before going back to lurking again until the next time. I put it on PCs I build for people. It only activates if a particular filename is found in User's downloads folder.

        7. diguz

          Re: Funny that

          the new ones are:

          - fakeupdate

          - fakebsod

          - fake lcd crack

          now every colleague of mine knows better than to leave the pc unlocked when he/she takes a break...

          1. David 132 Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Funny that

            -fake lcd crack

            Back in the days of CRT screens, the thing to do was to create a 5px x 4px .BMP using Paint, and set every pixel to the standard Windows teal desktop color apart from the top-right one, which was set to magenta.

            Set the bitmap as the desktop wallpaper, stretched to the screen size, and Windows would obligingly dither the single magenta pixel into a very convincing simulacrum of a badly discolored and expensively distorted CRT phosphor...

        8. donk1

          Re: Funny that

          Add keyboard/mouse from empty desk opposite theirs.

          All cables go into cable management tray so they cannot see.

          Randomly go over there and move mouse/type characters!

        9. Josh 14

          Re: Funny that

          I actually pulled the tape over the sensor one, on one of our IT guys.

          A corner of a sticky note, with a smiley face drawn on it, worked well and was slightly less rage inducing once he found it.

        10. BillG
          Devil

          Re: Funny that

          Nothing matches the lazy manager and his sheer panic and desperation trying to coax support out of a company tech because I deleted all the games (solitaire, minesweeper, etc) off his computer - games he spent more time playing than clearing his backlog.

      2. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: Funny that

        I've was in a mobile phone store years ago when a customer came in complaining that their phone wasn't working. The sales assistant listened whilst the nice bloke explained his problem in detail. His new phone he'd bought from them earlier in the day isn't working correctly. The "top" display has frozen and only the one underneath it works. Everybody where he works thinks it's laugh out loud funny that his new phone has gone wrong. He produces the offending feature phone and it becomes obvious what the problem is. There is a plastic scratch protector on the screen that has a copy of the phone menu printed on it icons, text etc.

        The sales assistant I could see was finding this extremely funny but trying to be professional at the same time. She peeled off the protector and said it would now work fine. Realisation dawns on the bloke that he's not been the sharpest tool in the box and taking his phone quickly leaves. Whereupon the three of us left in the shop started laughing.

        1. andy_c1984

          Re: Funny that

          Similar story (don't work IT but I am in one of the more techie departments of my company). We get new mobiles every 3 years or so and while working away one of the more venerable members of staff's voice starts to breach through the protective wall of my headphones. This goes on for sometime with more and more mutterings of I'm doing that and shouting at the poor helpless object. Eventaly when this has reached the point where I can stand it no longer I wonder over to try and help. the problem they were trying to use the fingerprint sensor all while the anti scratch film was still in place. it took nearly 5 mins to convince them that this was not needed and would hinder phone use rather than help it.

          1. Ochib

            Re: Funny that

            A limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples were provided to media for review. We have received a few reports regarding the main display on the samples provided. We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter.

            Separately, a few reviewers reported having removed the top layer of the display causing damage to the screen. The main display on the Galaxy Fold features a top protective layer, which is part of the display structure designed to protect the screen from unintended scratches. Removing the protective layer or adding adhesives to the main display may cause damage. We will ensure this information is clearly delivered to our customers.

            Samsung’s statement regarding the fold phone breaking because the "Screen protector" was removed

          2. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Funny that

            Perfectly reasonable if it doesn't have a little "peel me" arrow. Sometimes they do sometimes they don't.

      3. juice Silver badge

        Re: Funny that

        > That's a hoary old one, points deducted for lack of originality. Up there with plugging their mouse into a different machine, but still on their desk

        Back in late nineties, we were working on personal workstations which anyone in the group could connect to and switch to root access.

        And we were all running Netscape Navigator on these machines, as we were building a (fairly advanced, for the time) self-care system for an ISP.

        And it turned out that Netscape allowed you to send instructions on the command line to the currently active browser process.

        And a co-worker discovered this.

        And so, one day, my machine started to throw up new browser windows, mostly pointed at playboy.com and the like, while I scratched my head and various team members joked about how I'd clearly been doing some dodgy surfing...

        Ah, those innocent days, long before the features facilitating such japes became security risks...

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: Funny that

          Ah, those innocent days, long before the features facilitating such japes became _recognized as_ security risks...

          FIFY

          1. juice Silver badge

            Re: Funny that

            > Ah, those innocent days, long before the features facilitating such japes became _recognized as_ security risks...

            Bit of both, TBH. After all, these were the days when memory addressing was contiguous, CPUs could safely do branch prediction, and viruses either displayed a rude message or corrupted your hard drive, rather than locking the entire thing up and demanding that you send a bitcoin to a random Eastern European address. And this was at the dawn of the first browser war, so Microsoft hadn't yet managed to push the wondrously insecure Internet Explorer into a position of market dominance.

            Or to put it another way: many of the threats we deal with today simply hadn't been invented yet.

            Alas, things evolved, and as new attack vectors were discovered or invented, the hardware and software they target has adapted in turn. It's an ever escalating Mexican stand-off, and it's frankly shameful (if equally inevitable) how much of our computing resources have to be used to safeguard our data and activities, rather than doing something functionally useful.

        2. Mike007

          Re: Security Risks

          Ah, those innocent days, long before the features facilitating such japes became security risks...

          You mean the days before security risks were able to access such features. When the only people who could use that functionality were trustworthy people it was fine, the problem only appeared when people who just wanted to cause problems found out about them.

          Is being able to access a bank vault a security risk? It is only a problem if the person accessing the vault is there for the purpose of stealing money that isnt theirs.

          I would therefore argue that the only security issue that exists is the fact that we have allowed people to have access to computers without first checking that they come from a reputable background. The last time I went to a shop to buy a computer that could connect to "the network" the only information I had to supply was an email address, which was not checked against any kind of approved user list. When I gave the sales person my letters from a judge and a teacher vouching for my moral character she refused to check them and said that as long as I had the money she would give me the computer!

          The youth of today with their liberal hippy nonsense... oh crap, when did I become an old person?

          1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

            Re: Security Risks

            > oh crap, when did I become an old person?

            Life automatically makes you that way after you were kicked a few times in the balls for nothing.

      4. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

        Re: Funny that

        That's a hoary old one, points deducted for lack of originality.

        I'm sure world+dog still thinks it is an original one, and it still is getting pulled off on unsuspecting victims.

      5. phuzz Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Funny that

        Our computing lab at uni had a room full of iMac G3's, which had a USB keyboard and mouse.

        Some of us realised that you could plug a second mouse or keyboard in, and both would control the pointer. So as someone attempts to click on something, you move the second mouse so it looks like their pointer has a mind of it's own.

        I also remember when I was at school and BackOrifice, was released. We had great fun 'spontaneously' rebooting people's computers.

    2. A K Stiles Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Funny that

      Now try doing that with a non-GUI command line interface... No self respecting PFY... caught dead... mouse...

      As well as hiding the menu bar you should dock it to the top or right edge of the screen so any inadvertent edge bounce at the bottom doesn't pop it up.

    3. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re: Funny that

      That pretty much was one of the SOPs for unlocked and unattended computers. Others were rotating the screen or sending out invitations for after-work drinks or even the odd date. Thinking of it, I'll have to re-implement some in our office...

    4. churchoflambda

      Re: Funny that

      At university, way back when CRTs were a rarity and punch cards were what you used... I had access to one of the terminals and wanted to 'reserve' it.

      So I put the terminal in 'local' mode, typed in the standard login text, put it back in 'remote' mode and disconnected the keyboard, tucking the cable under the monitor so that it appeared to still be connected.

      Nobody could login... and we weren't supposed to power-cycle the terminals, so I was able to 'unreserve' the terminal later, by reattaching the keyboard.

    5. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: Funny that

      Worst is we did the same on a so called "Senior engineer" and it took him ages to work out what the issue was. Pretty much confirming what we already knew, he didn't deserve the title or pay of a senior engineer as he knew jack shit.

      Feel guilty? No. He was an arsehole and would make you feel shitty when you first join. Monitor what you'd be doing when it wasn't part of his job, comment if you used a browser other than IE (back when they still thought IE was secure despite Firefox clearly showing it wasn't) and then eventually would go silent when he'd realise you knew more than him. For fear you'd expose he knew less than he should.

    6. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: Funny that

      I was about a year in to my new roll over 10 years back. Learnt how to remote to my home PC via SSL tunnel created via Putty (another engineer showed me. He said as the traffic will just look like https traffic cause of the port we were using, 3rd line shouldn't notice). They didn't appear to. But, the engineer next to me that day, from another department noticed me on my home machine. He was nice, kept quiet.

      Then I made the rookie mistake. Left the PC for a few mins, unlocked. Came back, all still fine.

      Got home and took a few days till I noticed some icons on my home desktop that said something onlines of "wanker" "knob" etc I realised who'd been next to me, mentioned it to him. He laughed and said "That's why you don't leave your machine unlocked when you walk away from your PC"

      :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Funny that

        if we found any PC's left unlocked in a lab where I work for a number of years we would always send sexually suggestive emails to other members of staff from their account. That'll teach em!

        1. WanderingHaggis

          Re: Funny that

          I'd use outlooks ability to send an email at a certain time so that it sent itself an email twenty minutes later much to the amazement of the user who'd be confused as how they had sent them self a rude email. When called by panic user I was able to enforce the don't leave your workstation unlocked message. Fun and pedagogic.

    7. steviebuk Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Funny that

      Windows 3.1.1 and in the study room of college in early 90s. Appears the computers aren't locked down and I had a bit of free software off a cover disc (I'm still looking for it to this day with no joy :( ). It was a screensaver or it might of been a standalone app that was like a screensaver that had tiny spiders on it. When it would kick off, it had taken a screenshot of your desktop and the tiny spiders would start to eat all the screen. All you had to do was move the mouse and it would stop and your work would look normal again.

      Being the immature dick I was back then I thought it would be funny to stick this on all the study room PCs (I think there were 6) and set a timer for it to go off. Sat next to a lady one day and she panicked as it kicked off as she was doing her course work and hadn't saved.

      Funny at first as caught a few before who moved the mouse and it stopped. But she was getting more panicked and backed away from the mouse. Under my breath I was shouting, just move the fucking mouse. I can't remember what happened. I couldn't own up as would off gotten kicked off the course. But, with hindsight I could of said I'd seen the issue before just move the mouse. But having just come from school, it wasn't the dun thing to be helpful or talk to other people.

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Funny that

        > would off gotten kicked

        > I could of said

        Nope, nope, nopedy-nope!

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Funny that

          Now now, no need to loose your temper...

          1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Funny that

            > loose

            You basterd!

            Strangulation-over-IP activated in 3, 2, 1...

    8. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: Funny that

      In IE we discovered you could edit the register and change the title that would display at the top of IE, for customisation. So remote regediting we'd change it to the likes of "Dave is a knob" and see how long they'd take to spot it.

    9. Dinanziame Bronze badge
      Windows

      Re: Funny that

      I'm going to be my cranky annoying self, but I really feel it's a mistake to pull tricks like these on people you might need to rely on when you have a real problem.

      Personally, in such circumstances, I might decide it's exactly the moment for me to go for a cuppa, and let you flounder...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Funny that

        Or if asked who isn't pulling their weight on the team, mention said "prankster"'s name.....

        "How was I supposed to know that would stick you to the top of the redudancy list?, it was just a joke"

      2. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Funny that

        We had rules. Nothing nasty. Don't touch anyone who clearly won't find it funny (normally cause they've done it to you they are fair game) and NEVER anything that stops the person from working.

    10. logicalextreme Silver badge

      Re: Funny that

      Changing the batch separator in SQL Server Management Studio from GO to SELECT has caught out every database professional, no matter how seasoned, I've ever punished with it for not locking their workstation.

    11. WereWoof

      Re: Funny that

      Even better, change the keyboard layout to Azerbaijan, and watch them lock themselves out of their account. Good for people who lock multi user machines so no-one else can use them.

  2. MrMerrymaker Bronze badge

    User education

    So basically the user was befuddled by a colour picture.

    Good grief. One wonders if black and white would have startled him less?

    1. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: User education

      "One wonders if black and white would have startled him less?

      No, that would have just generated a second "symptom".

      "When I click on it, it not only freezes but it also drains all the colour from my monitor"

      1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

        Black and white

        A little off topic but you've reminded me of an observation from my oldest grand kiddie.

        He was 8 when we'd taken him to the Amberley Museum. We had reached the exhibit about television and radio history. There were loads of elderly CRT sets, wheezing their last, entertaining the punters with generated historical test cards and sundry content. Some if it was in colour but an awful lot of sets were, naturally, monochrome.

        Laddie looked thoughtful as we came away. Eventually he asked "When did they invent colour?"

        We were some way from the exhibit by then, so his question was a bit out of context. We gently probed to work out what he was really asking.

        It turns out he'd seen the monochrome TVs and understood that the pictures were old. He had put two and two together and come to the conclusion that the "Real World" (TM) had once all been monochrome.

        Gentle explanation followed. Sweet kid.

        1. RedRichie

          Re: Black and white

          Reminds me of this absolute classic Calvin & Hobbes strip!

          https://i.imgur.com/4rPGp.jpg

        2. ibmalone Silver badge

          Re: Black and white

          Italo Calvino, Cosmicomics, Without Colours, http://www.ruanyifeng.com/calvino/2007/07/ch_5_without_colors.html

          (A small number of the Cosmicomics stories are collected as "The Distance of the Moon", for the outrageous price of £1 https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Italo-Calvino/The-Distance-of-the-Moon/21523008 or here's the whole lot https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Italo-Calvino/The-Complete-Cosmicomics/11397953 )

        3. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: Black and white

          My youngest asked something like that to my dad.

      2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: User education

        I can't even begin to describe in detail some of the phone calls & texts (She never manages to send the picture of the screenshot shes texting me about) I've had with my massage therapist, after I upgraded her laptop to W10 & a SSD in January. Its not been helped with the lock down, I'd have solved them in the time it takes to drive there, 5 min's onsite & back again, compared to the 1 hour & up phone calls.

        Won't boot she's on a external monitor that the back light has failed on & hasn't looked at the laptop screen itself.

        That one was my fault in part so she wasn't seeing the Windows update messages...."do not reboot".

        Trying to talk her into F8 for safe mode (Also above - Added a batch file running at startup calling bcdedit /set {bootmgr} displaybootmenu yes & a 5 second delay).

        Outlook not working for her, shes so used to the web portal for e-mail.

        One of her USB devices now doesn't like the port it's plugged into & causing the laptop to hang at the BIOS splash screen, having to repeatedly talk her through the concept of unplugging one USB cable at a time to establish which one it is (This was yesterday after she finally dropped it off last week for me to look at due to self isolating & picked it up the night prior ).

        The concept of Windows updates applying themselves at 3am & her coming to find the machine hung if she can't find the correct USB cable (See above).

        Complaining that the system has frozen with a pretty picture of a cave with time & date on & the keyboards not working - System is still working in the background & not ready for keyboard input at this precise moment (Also yesterday).

        Icon - Needed one yesterday while helping her yet again.

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

          Re: User education

          > One of her USB devices now doesn't like the port it's plugged into & causing the laptop to hang at the BIOS splash screen

          There is a BIOS setting for that. Either it is enough to change the boot sequence, or you have to disable USB boot at all. IMHO something you should do on the next real visit. I hope you have Autohotkey/Teamviewer/Whatever installed as service.

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: User education

      Perhaps the email should have been sent in Morse.

  3. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Seriously though...

    Whenever I include a screenshot in an email I always make sure that it's edited somehow to make it obvious that it's a screenshot - resized, borders, cropped, anything it needs so it doesn't appear to be "real"

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Seriously though...

      funny, we, in the office, were just talking about making attachments that fit the screen perfectly ;-} No scroll bars on the sides or bottom!

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Seriously though...

      I suspect you've been in this game a similar amount of time to me.

      I've taken to darkening most of the image, just leaving the target item bright. so instructions that say 'click this button' will highlight the button and dull the context.

      Users really are dumb sometimes.

      1. Richard Crossley

        Re: Seriously though...

        Annotation, I use rather easily visible drawn shapes, but does the same thing

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Seriously though...

          S'what I used to do, a hand drawn arrow, with spidery "click here" messages. In the early days printed on to a sheet of paper and given to the colleague(s) in need of help. That sort of thing. A few years later getting my hands on a decent free programme ( when personal computing was still not so common) that allowed me to annotate screen shots was a God-send. Can't remember what it was even called now, decades later.

          1. conscience

            Re: Seriously though...

            Same here. Back in the day I'd just use paintbrush. It had everything needed e.g. a line tool to paint huge red arrows pointing to highlight whatever users needed to interact with, and the text tool to give it a helpful caption like 'click here'. It's about the only time pbrush was of any use.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Seriously though...

            I do that too!

            Do you have to send another copy a couple if days later because they've lost the first one?

      2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Seriously though...

        I had to do that with most of my users who were really really challenged, I had a script ready to go, that pushed out the appropriate common fixes via email with screenshot attachment .

    3. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

      Re: Seriously though...

      MSPAINT LIVES!

      I use rounded red rectangles to highlight what should be clicked. If the order is important I add numbers.

      Why does Snipping Tool and its newer compagnion "cut and <whatever it is in english>" not have a simple "draw line" "draw rectagle" and "add text" ? Another needed extra: Draw an arrow.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: Seriously though...

        Snipping tool for me (Snip & Sketch tries to be to helpful)

      2. Fabrizio
        Megaphone

        Re: MSPAINT LIVES!

        GreenShot on Windows

        FlameShot on Linux

      3. low_resolution_foxxes Bronze badge

        Re: Seriously though...

        Mspaint is possibly my most opened program after Outlook and Chrome.

        International Tech support - need images to break the language barrier.

        What I need is an accent software tool - so I can provide UK support with a Russian / indian accent.

  4. chivo243 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

    Ever had to resort to words of two syllables or less? Computer have become just a gadget, users rarely RTFM or RTFS. I wish I had a beer for every screen shot of an error emailed to me asking for the solution... RTFS?

    1. tip pc Silver badge

      Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

      "I wish I had a beer for every screen shot of an error emailed to me asking for the solution... RTFS?"

      the funniest ones are where someone has taken a photo of the screen and sent it

      1. MiguelC Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

        I used to deal with a user who regularly sent me scanned copies of printed PDF documents generated by the application they used, even after I showed them the "send as attachment" option...

        (we need an icon for "not the sharpest tool...")

        1. aje21

          Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

          Or when you get a ZIP file which contains a Word document (which, those of a technical bent will know are ZIP files by another name), the Word document contains only a bitmap screenshot of an error message which includes showing the helpful "copy to clipboard" button). Number of times I have had to re-type an error message sent in that form, despite reminding the sender that having the plain text is both more useful and less time-consuming to process.

          1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

            At least you get an error message!

            Annoying when I ask someone for what error they get on their ticket only for them to come over and yell about helldesk asking to many questions (GAH!)

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

            ...or the zipped Word document containing an embedded powerpoint containing nothing but a pasted bitmap which is a screen capture of the Putty terminal in which they've opened the relevant logfile in VI and scrolled to the least useful 25 lines. When what you asked for was "send me the logfile".

            Yes, this happens on a quarterly basis to me, although sometimes the more advanced users will omit one of the layers.

            Anonymous because I really like my customers and want them to keep liking me.

            1. irrelevant

              Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

              Even more annoying when you don't actually have PowerPoint installed yourself. Had that one, years ago, in an attachment respoding to my job application. Took me a significant amount of trouble to find a copy to install to find out that all they had attached was a map to their office!

        2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

          I repeatedly had to try & tell children at a private school that you cant edit a picture once it's been saved into a PDF as its not a picture format like a jpg.

          They were all coming from the same class too.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

            Walk them through the painful process of extracting the images a simple pdf wraps, editing then rebuilding the pdf and they'll quickly learn not to lock their work in a pdf wrapper!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

            I repeatedly had to try & tell children at a private school that you cant easily edit a picture once it's been saved into a PDF as its not a picture format like a jpg.

            If they're here for the challenge, then teach them how to convert the pdf, save as an image format, import to edit.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

          That reminds me of an incident that I've probably posted on here before, but is worth re-telling.

          I work in quite a large organisation where getting anything useful done inevitably involves filling in God knows how many forms and dozens of emails to assorted admin whallas, all of whom seem to be bound by as many different, and incompatible, policies, most of which I've never heard of. For example, the process for making new appointments is shrouded by many mysteries, which only our venerable HR department can (or claim to) understand, but only after at three different desks in the same office have been placated individually.

          The appointment system is supposed to be all electronic: candidates download a word template (really!) fill it in and return it allong with their CV. Once the deadline arrives, HR send me paper copies of all those that demonstrate the minimum criteria for me to shortlist. I go through them, making a few notes identifying candidates worth shortlisting, along with possible interview questions, and then asked HR to send me the electronic copies of the shortlisted candidates. Their reply was "sure thing" but you'll have to return the paper copies first.. Experience showed that there's no point in arguing (it's policy innit), so I sent back the paper copies and the electronic versions duly arrived.

          Imagine my surprise when I found the electronic copies had my own hand written annotations on them!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

            > getting anything useful done inevitably involves filling in God knows how many forms

            No, sorry. I've no idea either.

      2. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

        Sometimes this might be your only option though, particularly if capturing startup messages. I guess some hypervisors will have logging features for this stuff, but desktops don't, and sometimes a video is handy for catching very fast scrolling text. At one point I found the high speed camera in my phone useful to check whether a very hard to see fan was actually running or not.

      3. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

        Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

        That is the only way to send a blue screen, isn't it?

        Or the BIOS startup message complaining about something preventing boot...

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

          Well, not entirely. Hardware-based remote control like Intel's vPro AMT system will give you full remote control/viewing of the target system via Ethernet or WiFi, regardless of OS & power state, provided it's been configured first. Super handy for remote Helldesk duties.

      4. Jiggity
        Boffin

        Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

        One of my colleagues regularly sends me phone camera screenshots, even though they have been told on several occasions about the existence of the magical [PrtScr] key on their keyboard.

        (I figured that "[PrtScr] key; new email; [Ctrl]+[V]" was simpler to explain than the snipping tool... yes, some of my colleagues make the chairs they sit on look like Mensa candidates - at least the chairs have obvious utility. but I digress...)

        What's even more impressive is that, somehow, this user's screenshots always appear *upside down* in the emails.

        Either their phone is so old/unsmart that it doesn't know which way "up" is and thus auto-rotate the resulting picture, or (and?) they just don't know how to rotate an image.

        Either way, it's additional processing that always brings an extra smile to my day, I can tell you! </drippingSarcasm>

        (icon for their likely grasp of technical knowledge)

      5. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

        yes, the millennial solution, when in doubt grab your phone...

      6. terrythetech
        Facepalm

        Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

        Or the user (by which I mean friend) who doesn't understand screenshot etc. so you ask them to read the error message and they refuse because it is gobbledegook.

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

      RTFS?

      I received an email today with an attachment showing a Catalina error message which pops-up when trying to run my 32-bit app ...

      "The developer of this app needs to update it to work with this version of macOS. Contact the developer for more information".

      I sent my reply - "The error message is incorrect. Apple needs to update macOS so your app will work exactly as it used to. It is only not working because Apple will not allow it to work. Contact Apple for more information".

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

        In all fairness, they did read that screen and they did what it said. Apple didn't say anything about why the app didn't work and told them to go talk to you. They did that. There's little the user could do at that stage; either you would have to update your app, Apple would have to reverse their 64-bit only decision, or they would have to downgrade their OS. The latter option isn't really an option because that's a lot to ask, plus the error message didn't tell them to do so.

      2. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

        If it’s 32 bits, how long ago did you stop developing it?

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

          Give him credit, packing an entire application into only 4 bytes is pretty damn impressive.

      3. low_resolution_foxxes Bronze badge

        Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

        If the app is biz critical

        I really don't think they'll be happy with that answer?

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

      No. you can blame the companies for this. When did you last see a manual that stated more than the blindingly obvious bits, or even any manual at all, quite often? As soon as something gets beyond that initial start-up level, as in using the many and various controls within a device or programme the manual, index or whatever becomes resolutely unhelpful. And even the get-started manual will often stray into telling you to use some switch, menu or option that it a) doesn't define or b) give the location of.

      When you have competed installation you need to place the 2nd level whooshdiggler into the wamabooxle filter. WARNING USING A 1ST LEVEL WHOOSHDIGGLER MAY INVALIDATE YOUR WARRANTY

      And of course any such product specific terms or commands used in the manual will not appear in the Index if there is one (unlike "print" "save" "on" etc. which are all present).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

        > When did you last see a manual that stated more than the blindingly obvious bits

        When I bought my HP48GX.

        1. Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

          Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

          Hah! Beat me to it. And that's only the User's Guide. The Advanced Programmers Guide puts it to shame.

      2. terrythetech

        Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

        Back in the day you had to used to have to use a sneevling rod

      3. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

        I think I know why companies stopped writing manuals. At some point, they must have realized that, with their manuals online, I could download them before a purchase to do research on what their product could do and how complicated the process was. No, they want me to figure out those things only after the purchase, which led to the new idea of refusing to publish the manuals and only including a paper copy with their product. But then, people started scanning those and uploading them, so what more could they do? They just had to stop making the manuals. I'll still figure out how the feature works, won't I? Surely I'll keep buying things without any idea what they do or how.

  5. Fading Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    ID10T error

    These types of error are sometimes the hardest to solve especially if you wish to minimise embarrassment (in the work place this can be essential for long term success) . It is though an opportunity to be creative - nodding sagely, muttering about broken links in emails and showing a way around the problem would probably have been quicker than trying to explain the concepts of static images versus GUI. Ignorance is forgivable - will-full stupidity, not so much.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: ID10T error

      "showing a way around the problem would probably have been quicker than trying to explain"

      Until next time. And the time after that. And the time after the time after that.

      It's lack of understanding that produces these errors and the way to engender understanding is through explanation.

      1. Fading Silver badge

        Re: ID10T error

        Depends on the usability of the workaround - the one suggested would work for all situations of email image versus GUI. Faux understanding leads to the same repetitions as no-understanding it is just harder to spot and impossible to call out politely.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: ID10T error

      Helping the user understand what went wrong and how to have it not go wrong next time is very useful. However, even if the tech was busy and just wanted to do a quick solution, let me show you how the workaround would have gone.

      Tech: "Right. Now instead of using this email, I want to try loading the program the normal way."

      User: "But I'm supposed to use the new version. It's coming out now."

      Tech: "Let's just try it."

      User: Opens old program.

      Old program: Works.

      User: "This one works, but it's the old version. I'm supposed to use the new one."

      Tech: "No, use that one. The other one isn't ready yet."

      User: "The email says it's ready. They sent it to me because it's ready."

      Tech: "No, they want you to use this one. They're just showing you what it will be like."

      User: "I don't think that's right. You don't write this program; you're tech support. Trust me on this one. I use this program all the time."

      Tech: "Trust me. The program you can open normally is the right one."

      User: "Maybe you should discuss that with my boss, but he's not here. I'll get his boss."

      Tech: "No, I don't need to talk to"

      Tech: "Wait. Come back. No, really, it's just a minor"

      Door: Closes behind user.

      Minutes: Pass slowly.

      Customers in line: Look angrily at tech.

      Door: Opens. User comes back.

      User: "This is the manager of my boss. She will tell you about the program update."

      Manager: "What's the problem?"

      Tech: "There will be a program update but the user thinks it was released now. They're trying to run a screenshot."

      Conversation: Forks here. If manager is clueless you can end up in a loop. We will proceed on the fork where the manager knows what a screenshot is.

      Manager: "I see. Can I see the message, please?"

      User: Shows message to manager.

      Manager: "Ah. You see here where the update is said to be coming out soon, but not yet?"

      User: Yes.

      Manager: "And this attachment is a picture ..."

      Manager: Continues to explain situation to user.

      Manager: Now annoyed at tech for not doing this themselves.

      Isn't it a lot easier just to solve the situation well with a useful explanation that will probably prevent it in the future as well? Workarounds only work if the user understands why they're doing the workaround. They can cut out several contingent explanations, but if you provide no reason for your alternate suggestion, people will think you're just winging it and you don't really know what you're doing.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: ID10T error

        The users at my last place were incapable or unwilling of reading the e-mail announcements or following the instructions, treating it as a SEP.

        Bit them on the ass when they were on-call & hadn't set up the 2FA (Or even signed into the Windows 10 replacement for the old one) on the branches "On-Call" laptop, when they were at home & ended up having to go back to branch to set up 2FA & deal with their own on call call-out.

        For the record I printed out sheets & applied stickers with each Departmental On-Call Windows 10 laptop advising of this & that phone calls at 5pm for this would possible result in them staying in branch until 7pm gotta love multiple time zones across Canada, so they had best set this up in the morning. Those too were promptly ignored.

        Icon - I give up, I need a beer!

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: ID10T error

          A long time ago, on logging on the splash screen said something like:

          Remember: Save your files in your HOME directory on drive H.

          To my amazement I saw multiple people respond by carefully pressing H.

  6. RockBurner

    Ever had to resort to words of two syllables or less to get the message through to a user?

    Every single time I talk to upper management about how what they want me to create will take 6 months, not 6 days.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Ever had to resort to words of two syllables or less to get the message through to a user?

      In my experience, upper manglement generally require the 2-syllable words to be printed on something like a baseball bat or a length of 2-by-4...

      Must be a lack of oxygen up there?

  7. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
    Facepalm

    RTFM

    On a similar note, I once gave a relative of mine explicit instructions how to get to my new home. I told him to drive to a certain town, then follow a numbered road in the direction of another named town, and after about four miles, turn left at XXX village onto a B road, then stop and call me for more instructions for the last half mile. Some time later, I received a phone call from him, he had arrived at the second named town, and couldn't find the B road mentioned. I asked him "What happened to 'turn left after about four miles at XXX village'?" "Oh, I forgot about that". He had driven an extra 12 miles past the village, and now had to drive 12 miles back again to find the village and turn (now right) onto the B road.

    1. TheProf Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: RTFM

      I'm lost! What's your phone number?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: RTFM

      By "similar note" do you mean "unrelated rambling story not even about IT"?

    3. proinnsias
      Pint

      Re: RTFM

      And that's the reason I usually add "If you come to a <landmark>, you've gone too far" when giving directions like that :)

      Bitter, bitter experience

    4. ibmalone Silver badge

      Re: RTFM

      "Explicit instructions"

      "XXX village"

      Hmm.

    5. WobblyBelly
      Devil

      Re: RTFM

      I love the directions that go like " take the second to last turning..."

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: RTFM

        ...or worse,. turn left where the old station used to be, carry on past where the Rose and Crown used to be until you get the corner where the Queens Head used to be and you're there!

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: RTFM

          In London they don't even say "where used to be".

          It's all "Go past [ famous name who used to live there but died in the 1950s] junction. Turn right at [service station that was demolished before you were born] corner. Bear left onto the [Pub that lost its licence in the 60s interchange]" and so on.

      2. irrelevant

        Re: RTFM

        I had a customer once that in all seriousness told me they were "half way along" a rather lengthy road. Thankfully they had enough signage up that I spotted them.

  8. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Angel

    Been There Done that

    My reward for carefully guiding someone through the perils of... ummm, 'guey' interfaces, while studiously not noticing their embarrassment, was lifelong loyalty.

    P.S. 'guey' because the little pictures stick where you put them and remember what they did last time.

  9. ColinPa

    Check your background

    I recently saw a document which some marketing guy had developed, and was about to publish to the world. It was meant to look really modern. The diagram had a white background, and had off-white lines linking boxes. The diagram made no sense. If you tilted your screen a certain way you could faintly see the lines. When I changed the background to a different background, it was obvious (and still made no sense).

    I also asked what the thatched cottage and museum icons meant, and suggested they have hover text to explain what the items were, but have not heard back from him.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Check your background

      Check your background

      but have not heard back from him.

      Obviously, he is still checking on his "background", and no trees or clouds will stop him.

      /coat

  10. John H Woods Silver badge

    Hilarious...

    ... but I wouldn't claim that I have never clicked on a screenshot

    PS: best example I have seen was my young niece (2yo, I think) trying to do pinch-to-zoom on a picture in a book ...

    1. Jiggity
      Facepalm

      Re: Hilarious...

      My mate sent me a WhatsApp message with (what turned out to be a perfectly cropped screenshot of) a video thumbnail with the play button in the middle of it.

      To my shame I was mashing the screen like a bloody idiot for about 5 seconds before the 15 watt pygmy bulb slowly glimmered to a dull red glow.

      Bloody git... the only thing that made me feel slightly better was that he later admitted that he'd mashed his screen for a full 15 seconds *and* rebooted the phone, thinking it had frozen, when *he* first received the image.

    2. molletts

      my young niece (2yo, I think) trying to do pinch-to-zoom on a picture in a book

      Reminds me of an occasion in about 2004 when the school's internet connection was down and a Year 8 (12/13 years old) class were in the library to do research (which would normally have been done in the ICT suite by copying & pasting from random websites into their essays then handing it in as their own work without even checking if it was actually relevant). I heard one of the children ask "How do you search it?" while staring bemusedly at a fairly hefty reference tome.

    3. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Hilarious...

      Sadly I have been guilty of trying to touch scroll printed media.

      Too long on the tablet. :-(

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Or is it only us for whom the days are blurring?"

    You are not alone.

    Since lock down started we have had the following:

    1 - One of the lads started working on a Saturday morning and then called his manager saying "I'm waiting in the daily stand up, where are you?"

    2 - One of our customers called me on the Bank Holiday asking where I was as he was waiting on the meeting. This was at 2:30pm and he had been working since 8am and had had a lunch break.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Or is it only us for whom the days are blurring?"

      .. And?

      Is this a joke or something?

    2. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: "Or is it only us for whom the days are blurring?"

      Decades ago I had a big fight with my live in girlfriend. I wanted to argue it out because I was in the right for once, but she insisted on going to bed because I was in the right for once. I was fuming.

      So I changed all the clocks, her watch, her car clock, the alarm clock by two hours. She had a 45 minute drive to work and arrived two hours before she could get in.

      Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent, but stealing someone's time is sweet.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: "Or is it only us for whom the days are blurring?"

        I can't approve that, but otoh......

        Years ago i was wanting to buy a pretty expensive calculator in a department store. They were displayed in a square counter sort of arrangement, with the sales staff on the inside. I stood near the one I was interested in. On this occasion the staff were over the other side, chatting. And ignoring the customer, me. They knew I was there, just not bothered.

        So I got annoyed waiting, and decided to occupy myself. By collecting the price tickets, from in their little holders, walking round to where the sales staff were so engrossed in their conversation.

        I simply said, "You've wasted my time, I'm wasting yours." Then dropped the pile on the floor in front of them and walked out.

  12. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Teardropping a Win95 PC of a colleague who's fond of browsing news sites instead of working. Its HDD died before I could teardrop it more, sadly.

    I also did the wallpaper-icon trick.

    As the I and l is most often similar, I retyped an user's login name , replacing I (Uppercase i) with lowercase L

    He swore a blue streak until he jabbed the reset button.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Teardropping?

      Teardropping? Is that one of those words in South African English that means something different to what it does elsewhere (like "robot")? I'm afraid I have genuinely no idea what you mean by that.

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

        Re: Teardropping?

        https://insecure.org/sploits/linux.fragmentation.teardrop.html

        Affected Windows and Linux. I stopped lucasarts.com a few times that way... But I was young...

  13. doublelayer Silver badge

    Escape is sadly rarely an option.

    ESC, however, is surprisingly often an effective option. I think that's why it's over in the corner of the keyboard, to make it easier to press by someone looking over the user's shoulder.

  14. MOH

    Welcome to Friday the 82nd of March

    It's the 83rd, surely? 52nd of April?

  15. Daedalus Silver badge

    The nasty version

    "Es tut mir leid. Dass kann ich nicht verstehen. Ich bin aus Barcelona. Ich weiss nichts. Auf wiedersehen."

    Seriously haven't you ever wanted to just walk away from such displays of average intelligence?

    1. whitepines Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: The nasty version

      No, that's actually understandable to a German speaker. You need to make it unintelligible except for the "I can't understand you" bit.

  16. bill 27

    Ah yes...long, long ago I was a sysadmin. We took care of the "Classified" side of the shop. I had an "Unclassified" desktop that they'd left me enough privileges to install a screensaver on. A really nice BSOD image. The other side would wander down to update somethingorother and invariably hit the power button first. At least they didn't complain to me...my other one said "Puppies, the other white meat".

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it too picky of me?

    To suggest that it should be "der Reboot"?

    I don't think the Anglicism even existed the last time I spoke German but personally I would go with the masculine article. And capital 'R', or it is not a noun.

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

      Re: Is it too picky of me?

      > To suggest that it should be "der Reboot"

      No, "Das reBOOT", a pun on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Das_Boot

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is it too picky of me?

        Good catch!

  18. IceC0ld Silver badge

    top quality thread, some great responses, but for ME, the best bit of the article was :-

    stretching metaphors past breaking point,

    Who here, hasn't had to do this at least a million times, getting so that my response to anything remotely user ballsed up is damn nigh instantaneous and is fluent with total bollox as well :o)

    ah yes, good times, and a sure sign that you have reached the part of your career when you are no longer the padowan, and are well on the road to full BofH righteousness

  19. Danny 2 Silver badge

    This Means War!

    Scotsman sent by a Dutch head office to implement a domain policy in the German office, not thinking historically. The manager was great, he insisted everything was in English because localisation introduces errors. The engineer assigned to shadow me, not so great. Late in the evening as I was testing the policy he was briefly locked out of his laptop. Like for seconds, and not deliberate. Rather than saying to me he indicated his displeasure by smashing his laptop on his desk into tiny pieces for five minutes.

    "Okay, I'll roll that back and we can call it a night"

    Scary mad but it made my Dutch colleagues guffaw.

  20. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    Probably posted this before, but where I used to work, each tech had a PC assigned to him. My colleague and I were working one saturday, and for various reasons, we weren't working in our own offices. We were working in an office shared by two technicians. One was Scottish and one was, shall we say, a little vain.At the end of the day, the vain man had Right Said Fred's I'm too sexy as his Windows NT Startup sound and the scottish one had Mull of Kintyre. The Scot loved his.. The vain man didn't.

  21. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Back in the 90s, I once changed a colleague's Nokia phone profile to one I had created called 'SIM read error'. He said there for a good half hour rebooting it, reseating the SIM etc. until I let on.

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