back to article PC printer problems and enraged execs: When the answer to 'Hand over that floppy disk' is 'No'

Hey, it's the 111th of March, or thereabouts. How will you celebrate this milestone? May we suggest a biscuit, a beverage of your choice and the schadenfreude that comes from a dip into The Register's On Call mailbag. Today's tale, from a reader we will call "Tom", takes us back to simpler times at the end of last century, …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Ah IT 'managers'

    The people who either never actually had a clue, so were moved somewhere 'safe' or have been so long out of the field that they have no idea what's going on these days.

    1. Dave K Silver badge

      Re: Ah IT 'managers'

      Not all managers fall into those groups you know. Some (such as myself) spent many years doing IT technician work, moved up to team-leader level before progressing into a more managerial role. Thing is, a good manager in that position will realise and recognise where their knowledge may have become a little outdated and will trust the experience of those technicians that work for them.

      I still know my way pretty well around Windows 10, Office, networking and all that, but for up-to-date foibles of certain business apps and the rest of it, I'm happy to defer to the experience of my team. The problem arises when a manager *thinks* he knows everything and doesn't trust his own team.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Ah IT 'managers'

        The problem arises when a manager *thinks* he knows everything and doesn't trust his own team.

        But said manager doesn't, think that is. He just knows he knows everything. As for not trusting his own team, he is completely correct as he has lost their trust already and they are now out to get rid of him.

        1. Joe W Silver badge

          Re: Ah IT 'managers'

          As Simon put it: "Just because he is now an IT manager he thinks he can manage IT"

          (and then there's those whom you gladly buy a beer at the pub as they keep the manure coming from above from interfering with your work, who actually know their stuff but also the limits of their often quite extensive knowledge)

          1. PM from Hell

            Re: Ah IT 'managers'

            I'm likely to be the one buying the first beer. In general if I'm keeping the brown stuff off the team it's to give the the chance to work on whichever problem is causing a corporate issue.

            One of my most used phrases during these times is 'if it was simple we'd have fixed it by now. Give the guys time to investigate it properly'.

            One reason for the beer is I will always involve the vendor at the beginning of a large unplanned outage. Often they add no value and are just asking the techs to repeat diagnostic tests they've already carried out but it allows me to re-assure the senior execs that there really is nothing more that can be done. Also If I do need specialist skills we don't have I'll normally know someone who I can bring in. Its amazing how many times that is rejected 'because he's very expensive' in reality the independent consultants I know cost less than vendor consultant and small fraction of the cost of the large consultancies.

            1. Cynical Pie

              Re: Ah IT 'managers'

              AH but @PM from Hell your cheaper (and probably better) consultants probably don't have marketing budgets and the chance to take Execs on Golf days or the like.

              Less common these days I know but still important to remember

        2. Dave K Silver badge

          Re: Ah IT 'managers'

          Oh absolutely, the guy in the story isn't a good manager. He's a crap manager, has rightly lost the respect and support of his team and deserves his comeuppance.

          Good managers listen to their team, understand where their team's expertise lies and trusts the people in their team to know what they are doing in situations such as this.

          1. J. Cook Silver badge

            Re: Ah IT 'managers'

            "A manager's role is not to hire and fire, but instead to lead and inspire."

            I heard this from somewhere (reddit, probably), and the intent from Maxim 63* is present as well.

            * "The brass knows how to do it by knowing who can do it."

            1. Tomislav

              Re: Ah IT 'managers'

              You are refering to the online strip "Schlock Mercenary". I follow it regularly, it is quite fun.


              1. John PM Chappell

                Re: Ah IT 'managers'

                I own that book, too :)

                1. Trygve Henriksen

                  Re: Ah IT 'managers'

                  The annotated version, I hope?

                  And yes, for us ho work IT support, that book is even more essential than a TCP/IP or Unix bible.

            2. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: Ah IT 'managers'

              "A manager's role is not to hire and fire, but instead to lead and inspire."

              I've seen that go wrong too. They feel the need to lead, by which they mean tell everyone what to do and how to do it at all times. After all, if the people did things based on their expertise and their own evaluation of what was needed or most important, the manager isn't leading, are they? Inspiring the team members is less likely to outright anger them, but it can waste time. Most of the time, the team members already know what they're doing and why, so they don't need inspiration. Inspiration is needed when the team members have been cut off from information about why what they're doing is important or when they've been mistreated. However, it's not really inspiration that is going on there, but some degree of protection from external attacks and solidarity with the team when the protection isn't sufficient. That's what a good manager does, in addition to successfully coordinating the work of the team.

              I was originally going to try to extend the line to state my point and maybe include a fourth rhyming term, but then I couldn't think of a good rhyme for that and started writing other couplets. I ended up with this, which seems a little silly but now I've written it, I might as well post it:

              A manager shouldn't just hire or fire, nor should they try always to lead and inspire,

              They must keep the team healthy--know who has done well, and when needed the team members' merits they sell,

              To diffuse conflicts, keep the work on a good path, and insulate others from excessive requests or wrath,

              to remember always what they can and can't do, and to know when to delegate something to you,

              To strive for work well done, not focus on just power, and know not to nitpick about every last hour,

              but when needed they may have to bring someone to anger if that guy has become a team-dragging anchor,

              and if they can manage that, both below and above, they will earn the workers' considered love,

              but if they fall short, it will become clear, and the workers will flee in less than a year.

            3. Gordon 10 Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Ah IT 'managers'

              Have another Schlock related upvote. Maxim #2 also applies.

              A Sergeant in motion outranks a Lieutenant who doesn't know what's going on

      2. Symon Silver badge

        Re: Ah IT 'managers'

        " a manager *thinks* he knows everything"

        A man's got to know his limitations.

      3. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Ah IT 'managers'

        The problem arises when a manager *thinks* he knows everything and doesn't trust his own team

        This is the Managers' Disease. It can strike down any manager, but especially one who's team are doing stuff that's technical ( in the broadest sense - so could include pharmacy or psychology workers etc). Promotion into incompetence (Peter Principle), age and rustiness, but above all people who want or need to get away from the frontline doing of stuff (or need to be got away from it).

        It includes teachers who can't wait to get out of the classroom to become headteachers, and have a promotion plan even before they get through their first year - they're easy to spot- whatever the current bandwagon > they're on it. And mostly are crap teachers. They also tend to be crap heads too, but the Powers-That-Be love them, at least until there is a crisis.

        It includes Psychologists who are wedded to a School of Psychology they learnt on their degree or MA and were uncritical about, but got good marks (because they were uncritical about it). And in turn promote to the next generation of young Psychologists.

        And so on.

        1. Hollerithevo

          Re: Ah IT 'managers'

          This, a thousand times. My sister did many years as a teacher, got promoted to deputy head, and then decided to take the top job upon the Head's retirement. Recently she has mentored a new Head at another school and remarked that the young woman had all the ambition, too little experience of being a teacher, and no sense at all. There was little she could do except say 'listen to your oldest teachers; there is wisdom there."

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Ah IT 'managers'

            (Sighs) Mutters "Seen it so often" and shuffles off for a coffee. Shaking head sadly all the while.

      4. SotarrTheWizard

        Re: Ah IT 'managers'

        Then there are the other kind. I had a .gov IT manager who was **proud** of the fact that he no longer did anything "technical" on computers. The last time he had done so, he was coding COBOL. . .on punchcards ( this was circa the year 2000)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ah IT 'managers'

          A good IT Manager doesn't need to do anything technical. They should fully understand technical concepts , language and ideas though. That way they can form an understanding of a problem, make decisions that are of a technical nature and sort the wheat from the chaff when suppliers come knocking.

          However an IT manager who spends his days with his sleeves rolled up probably isn't effective as a manager or has a really small team where it's all hands on deck.

          Sure a technical knowledge can be useful, and in a crisis good technical leadership is great to have, but it is not necessary to be technical if you have a great team below you.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Ah IT 'managers'

            Sure a technical knowledge can be useful, and in a crisis good technical leadership is great to have, but it is not necessary to be technical if you have a great team below you.

            But to collect and keep a great team below you, you have to be aware of and acknowledge your own limitations on the technical side, otherwise that team will either never collect or (if you became the manager of an existing great team) it will fall apart as at least some will leave looking for a good leader.

          2. David Jackson 1

            Re: Ah IT 'managers'

            Technical knowledge is absolutely essential I would say. "Never manage anyone whose job you couldn't do" would be an excellent motto for a manager. That's not to say the manager actually needs to do the work, but he can't manage effectively if he or she couldn't do so if required.

          3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: Ah IT 'managers'

            It's like: the best programmers know how to program. Not "program in C" or "program in Pascal" or "program procedurally", but know how to program full stop.

      5. Andy A

        Re: Ah IT 'managers'

        Have worked for managers at each end of that range in my time.

        However the best ones were not very technical and had no pretensions to be, but recognised the ability in others.

        When you really notice is when shit is hitting the fan. The good ones ask "Can you fix it?" and on being told "Yes", then say something along the lines of "Right. That's your job, Mine is keeping the high-ups from bothering you while you do it. Let me know if you need anything."

        Unfortunately there are also the terrible sort who will drag you into a phone conference "to discuss progress" for 15 minutes out of every half hour.

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Ah IT 'managers'

      I've been deputy head of department at one employer and would happily admit if I didn't know something. There were occasions though where I was happy to explain what my job title was and why I was correct.. With one senior manager/director I said I'd bet them a weeks extra holiday I was correct. Sadly she wasn't born yesterday and she conceded she may well be wrong.

      My family have on occasions where I've been helping them queried my instructions. I'm used to this and I had a reply ready when the hapless person doubted me. My sister for example whilst I was fixing something for her over the phone told me:

      "It won't work like that!"

      "Which one of us has Engineer in their job title?"

      "Oh well you do but..........F@$% me it's working again"

      She asked how I knew all this stuff. I just said it's my job to do so.

      1. spireite

        Re: Ah IT 'managers'

        To be fair, family are the worst.

        Wife: My desktop has started running slowly

        Wife: What have you changed - this despite the fact I don't have admin access (her work machine, now in house)

        Me: Nothing, I don't have access

        Wife: You've definitely changed something

        Me: GFY (exit)

        So, if you have you have the knowledge AND not the access, it's your fault. If you fix the fault (that isn't YOUR fault), you fixed it easily, because you broke it.

        This is why I don't support family........

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: family

          Typical scene - I get in wife's car, start it, flames shoot out of the windshield defroster vents.

          Me: "How long has it been doing that?"

          Wife: "Doing what?"

          1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

            Re: family

            A friend nearly lynched his wife when he found that every time she started her car she cancelled the "oil lack" warning and just carried on driving. When it refused to be cancelled she put her sunglasses case in the way because it annoyed her. The car was close to requiring a new engine by the time he found this.

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: family

              Better wait until it does and let her pay for it (from her own money), that lesson will stick.

              1. Scroticus Canis

                Re: family - "let her pay for it (from her own money)"

                I have a suspicion that you haven't been married.

                (Icon - me, after the divorce went through)

                1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                  Re: family - "let her pay for it (from her own money)"

                  Second marriage and we have an agreement: You break it, you fix it!

                  1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

                    Re: family - "let her pay for it (from her own money)"

                    Brave... but fair!

            2. Bogbody

              Re: family

              Did we share an ex-wife somewhere along the way? Thats the sort of thing she did with cars.

          2. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: family

            Daughter: We need a new lawnmower.

            Me: What? Why? What's it doing?

            Daughter: Well, I was cutting the grass and I worked until the blue smoke started coming out as usual when ...

            Me: BLUE SMOKE???!!! The mower does not make blue smoke "as usual"! It makes blue smoke when the grass is too long and too wet and you try and make it cut the lot in one go! Blue smoke means the engine is overheating and burning oil!

            Daughter: Do you want to know the problem or not?

            Me: Go on ...

            Daughter: When I click the lever only one wheel turns.

            Me: So the mower works (apparently yea unto the gates of death). Your problem is that you have to push it by hand. Right. I will fix it, you will cut the grass more often and take more time to do it.

            Daughter: (Rolls eyes).

            Turned out that it needed a pair of front wheels to replace the ones with stripped gears. $18.

            New mower of similar type? $500+

        2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

          Re: Ah IT 'managers'

          > This is why I don't support family........

          You've got the wrong family! Get one which values your knowledge.

          1. Sherrie Ludwig

            Re: Ah IT 'managers'

            My husband keeps the home computer humming, I cook him tasty dinners. We don't butt into each other's domain. Forty four years of relatively smooth sailing.

            1. julian.smith

              Re: Ah IT 'managers'

              I do the IT stuff at our house: LAN, Wifi; 3 Linux, 1 WIN 8.1 desktops), tablets, smartphones, plenty of peripherals

              My wife understands the 5 Minute Rule (call for help within 5 minutes)

              She is quite computer literate yet doesn't try to fix something she doesn't understand if it's not working normally

              Happy husband + happy wife + few IT problems = harmony

              1. Nutria

                Re: Ah IT 'managers'

                Windows 8.1 desktops in 2020??

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Ah IT 'managers'

              Sounds like my wife and me. I can program in a dozen languages, but have ruined microwave oatmeal. She can do gum paste sculptures on cakes, and while computer literate, she isn't a techie.

              Both of us have family who contacts us for help in our respective domains.

        3. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

          Re: Ah IT 'managers'

          @spireite - "This is why I don't support family........"

          You get a CHOICE?!

    3. stungebag

      Re: Ah IT 'managers'

      IT Managers are no different from any other type of person. Most are doing a reasonable job, some are stars and a few are idiots.

      I worked for one in the last category for a while. As a very junior technician (despite being in my 50s; I was contemplating a second career) I was asked to set up a network share for a user. I promptly did so.

      "You did that WRONG", said matey. "You mapped it as N: It should be D: If you don't believe me go check the server".

      Yes, he was American, and didn't even know how Windows shares worked. Turns out he'd blagged a Network Director title on the strength of a bit of Unix admin on Wall Street in the 70s. And this was well into the 21st Century.

      Any PC needing a rebuild had it done entirely manually. Insert Windows XP CD, install, apply SPs, install Office and so on. A few programs were then installed, but the majority ran from a network share.

      He didn't know about virtualisation, so by the time I left we had 11 decent servers to run a fairly small school. In fact he didn't understand how any contemporary servers worked at all, and neither did anyone else on site apart from me, and my experience was mostly of RM CC3. An external contractor did anything major and some Micky Mouse set of bought-in scripts did simple things like provision a new user.

      When I left, a year later, I'd set up WSUS so that updates were installed automatically, installed FOG to image workstations and virtualised a few servers as a proof of concept.

      All that I'd done was promptly removed after I left. Seemingly unrelated problems had been encountered that hadn't happened before my changes, so must, therefore, be due to them.

      Actually he wasn't a bad guy, but had clearly bitten off much more than he could chew and was petrified someone would find out.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Ah IT 'managers'

        Actually he wasn't a bad guy, but had clearly bitten off much more than he could chew and was petrified someone would find out.

        And he didn't even notice you found out almost immediately.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Ah IT 'managers'

          i guess he's only worried if someone upstream finds out

    4. nematoad Silver badge

      Re: Ah IT 'managers'

      I have to say that with the exception of one "IT" manager they did know their stuff and I had few if any problems with them. The one exception got confused with one of those credit card CDs that used to float around and shoved it in the floppy drive where it took me a while and a pair of fine-nosed pliers to get it out without ruining the drive.

      The problems I did have were with middle managers in general, most seemed to have been over-promoted and were extremely defensive in any of their doings, quick to take offence and really difficult to deal with, relying on a loud voice and a hectoring manner to try and get out of any awkward situations they found themselves in. The top brass and the line workers were doddle compared to these characters and I approached dealing with them with some reluctance.

      1. My other car is also a Trabant.

        Re: Ah IT 'managers'

        Peter Principle. They are middle managers because they have been promoted to their level of incompetence, and now know just enough not to be sacked but won't go any higher. A colonel once told me that the MoD was full of majors who had managed to get to that rank and would go no higher and who were doing jobs that could be done by a competent PA - and, this being the 1980s, added "but much less attractively."

    5. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re: Ah IT 'managers'

      IT manager? I thought those people end up in the audit department.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Ah IT 'managers'

        Nope, those are the ones who failed at management.

        Those who can, do.

        Those who can't, teach

        Those who flunk teaching, manage

        Those who can't manage, audit.

    6. J27 Bronze badge

      Re: Ah IT 'managers'

      Our current IT manager is so incompetent that for anything even remotely difficult, he just bothers me until I do it. I'm a software architect, it is on no way my job to do any IT at all and I also theoretically outrank the guy. But it's a small company so if I don't do it, it doesn't get done.

      I'm just waiting for him to majorly screw something else up like he does every month or two and have it tweak the nose of the CEO (many have been fired for less).

    7. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Ah IT 'managers'

      Me; "Need to go back to the office and get a new driver"

      Senior Idiot: "You only just got here! Will you be back today?"

      Me "No, tomorrow"

      Complaint made: "Your IT manager left the computer unfixed saying that he had to go and buy a new golf club."

    8. Tuesday Is Soylent Green Day

      Re: Ah IT 'managers'

      Nothing has changed in 20 years of IT management. I still fume over our It dept's idea of providing a fit-for-purpose pc to our graphic designer. 8GB of RAM running Windows 7 32-bit. Despite my repeated requests, they ignored the fact that it never worked well and was slower than frozen molasses and refused to upgrade the OS to 64-bit. 10 years later in the same organisation and they are still useless.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

    The only time clutching a clipboard is acceptable in when you're a doctor in a hospital reviewing patient details, or if you're a construction site manager checking the progress on how the construction is working.

    A clipboard is not part of an IT manager's work tools. The fact that he had one, and that he brought some underlings to a discussion where they had absolutely nothing to do, is the hallmark of the office weenie who's in over his head and just trying to impress.

    Well he impressed all right. What incompetence.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

      I'm not an IT manager, but I use a clipboard in lots of situations, namely locations I would never bring a lappy into...

      1. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

        When I was working as a field technician (B2B repairs, service agent for various extended service companies, etc.) I kept my work orders and a pad of paper in a contractor's clipboard. (basically a hinged box with a divider inside to hold writing utensils, and a clipboard clip riveted to the lid) Kept my paperwork tidy enough, and it was part of my tool bag.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

      The only time clutching a clipboard is acceptable in when you're a doctor in a hospital reviewing patient details, or if you're a construction site manager checking the progress on how the construction is working.

      Never underestimate the power of a little old lady clutching a clipboard and organising a village fete / community event / church social gathering / etc.

    3. Vasten_the_Barelegged

      Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

      "The only time clutching a clipboard is acceptable..."

      Oh good grief. That reminds me of the time when an IT manager (I was a tech consultant to the company at the time) insisted on monthly reporting of helpdesk calls, which was fine, but insisted that the more calls they got, the better they were performing. Almost up there with one company where I did take over as IT manager who had a concept of "normal problem"

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

        Ah, the technical equivalent of the quality department drone who wants "everyone to be above average"...

        1. My-Handle

          Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

          One company I worked for (not a small company) had a policy of putting the lowest 15% performers of an entire department on a disciplinary action at the end of every month. People who got fingered two months in a row were fired.

          Most people who worked there actually did a decent job, and given their "targets" were way above the actual amount of work they were given to do, the performance statistics were largely random. This effectively turned the entire policy into a game of Russian Roulette. Strangely, the performance of the department tanked and we ended up losing on average 4 staff every Friday for an entire summer.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

            And those 15% improved the next month, proving the policy was right. Pity nobody had heard of regression to the mean!

          2. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

            I've heard one or two stories about companies that do this informally. Marking certain staff members cards and then making their lives a misery till they leave. Being careful not to do anything that would get them before a tribunal. But targetted staff could do nothing right. There would always be a fault found. That sort of thing

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

              Old job got to be toxic after multiple department transfers and 6-ish different bosses over 3-ish years, and I got on the short list somehow.

              By the end I was telling the boss to fire me instead of yank me around. Boss had the stones to do the old "I've played this game longer than you've been alive.", and "I will make you quit before I fire you".

              I guess he was right though, I bounced out to greener pastures where it wasn't astroturf or turfpaint on thistles.

              Anon, because there's still a few poor souls I know working there.

          3. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

            One company I worked for (not a small company) had a policy of putting the lowest 15% performers of an entire department on a disciplinary action at the end of every month. People who got fingered two months in a row were fired.

            They should have started with the HR department, that manager would without doubt have been in the lowest 1% performers every single month of the year (until fired).

        2. Gerhard den Hollander

          Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

          If he is included in the calculation, it's very easy for everyone else to be above average, as he's dragging the average down tremendously

          1. Maty

            Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

            Actually useful things, clipboards. We had a department which was inspected regularly, and those who didn't have their stuff together would spend a day of panic getting organized.

            Since I was organized and unwilling to get pressed into the service of those who should have done the work earlier, I'd pick up a clipboard and wander around going 'hmmm' and ticking off an imaginary list. No-one ever asked what that was about. I had a clipboard. End of story.

            1. Shooter

              Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"


              A clipboard, a flashlight, and a pissed-off expression guarantees that no one will bother you!

              1. Ethangar

                Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

                Exactly! Worst hangover I ever had. Stood there glassy eyed, praying for death. But, because I was holding a clipboard and hadn't moved in 20 min. It must have been serious so everyone left me alone.

            2. TomG

              Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

              Finally someone that recognizes the visual power of a clipboard. In the government job I previously held if any supervisory personnel came around emptyhanded you knew immediately he/she did not know what they were doing or what they were supposed to do. In a pinch a handful of papers would work.

      2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

        I had one contract where I had to phone in before leaving home, phone in when arriving on site, email in completion documents before leaving the site, and then phone in before getting back into my car to go home. Anal doesn't cover it.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

      It was the 90's. He wasn't using an iPad.

      1. spireite

        Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

        A4 Pad

    5. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: The only time clutching a clipboard is acceptable

      Or if you are James Bond attempting to gather intelligence on the goings-on inside the desert lab of Willard Whyte.

    6. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

      Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

      I am in the IT, and I do use clipboards from time to time. Writing with a pen is faster. Compare: Turning on the laptop, tell the person "wait, I have to boot up". If you brought it along already running: Search for a table to put it on, be ready, and then tell "OK, what is the issue?" and try to type fast enough.

    7. rototype

      Re: "The IT manager turned up clutching a clipboard"

      It's important to make a differentiation between someone who uses a clipboard as an essential way of organising paperwork on the move and an eejit with a ticklist.

  3. Fading Silver badge

    How to be diplomatic in the face of idiocy?

    As Sun Tzu states "Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across." but how do you manage to keep a straight face when in similar situations?

    1. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: How to be diplomatic in the face of idiocy?

      This was back in the years when Mr Jobs and his iPhone were still fairly new Blackberry were still RIM. My boss asked me tp go and see a senior manager on the top floor. He and I knew nothing about what this problem was. He'd just received a call from this woman's PA asking for a member of Technology to come up. When I got there I was ushered in and told by the director that she wanted a recommendation for her personal mobile phone. I didn't want to say that's not part of my job description so Iasked a few questions instead. Such as what did she plan to do with it, what form factor was she most happy with etc.

      I said I'd have a report in her email inbox by the end of the day. I then spoke to her PA who also gave me some pointers. I wrote said report listing her requirements, mentioned a few phones and the pro's and con's of each. At the end I wrote in conclusion that she basicaly wanted to send emails and make the very odd phone call. Therefore the best phone options from her carrier was either the latest iPhone or the latest Blackberry. The iPhone was touch screen and had more apps than the Blackberry. The battery life wasn't as good as the RIM offering and the battery fixed so you couldn't swap it and continue your day when it runs out. The BlackBerry on the other hand did not have a touchscreen and would last longer on a swapable battery. Also we were about to use them as company phones in the business. So we could possibly loan her an extra battery and she could have a machine to try out for an hour or two. Plus we'd have somebody looking after the company BlackBerrys so there'd be in-house support. It was entirely up to her but if it were me given her usage I'd choose the BlackBerry.

      Heard nothing else like "Thank you" although her PA confirmed the report had been seen. So about three weeks later I'm on the end of a screaming phone call from this director. I'm an Idiot and I don't know what I'm doing and she wants to see me upstairs in her office ASAP. I explained to my boss what I'd done and what she'd said and gave him a printed copy of the report. We go upstairs and she's got an iPhone on her desk and a not very calm demeanour. She says that iPhone battery is shit it doesn't last half a day with her usage of it. She has to turn it off when driving to try and preserve some battery. "Why on earth your underling recommended it I will never know!"

      My boss pointed out that:

      It wasn't my job to recommend phones.

      That I had advised the BlackBerry over the iPhone.

      He then opened the report and circled this bit in bright pink highlighter.

      He's technically my boss and would much prefer it if complaints were sent through him not screamed directly at his employees.

      She did concede that her friend had told her an iPhone was more cool. She'd forgotten (or more likely ignored) that I'd said BlackBerry and had signed an eyewatering contract for the iPhone. Boss told me not to worry about it in the lift back downstairs and bought me a drink in the pub after work. An email went round the entire company that afternoon explaining about migrating to BlackBerry. It also contained a message saying that Technology staff would not be supporting enquiries about personal phones anymore. Funny that.

      1. red floyd

        Re: How to be diplomatic in the face of idiocy?

        This is the kind of boss you want to work for.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: How to be diplomatic in the face of idiocy?

          Yup, shame about that "manager", such an experience would make me consider finding another job (and taking my boss with me).

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: How to be diplomatic in the face of idiocy?

        Well, ya know, Apple, Blackberry, they're all a bit fruity, what's the difference?

        Having said that, I's not uncommon these days to hear people referring to their Android phone as an iPhone and their nondescript tablet as an iPad. Apple products seem to be going the way of Hoover and Sellotape in terms of brand dilution into a generic term.

  4. Admiral Grace Hopper

    "I'm the IT director for ..."

    I was immensely proud of a junior member of my team when we were third line support for an early web application for a Large Government Department. Things that reached us had been through two lines of support and were deemed to be Technical Issues, rather than user or process problems.

    I could hear his side of the conversation going circular with the punter obviously losing it from the sounds like Dick Dastardly's boss in Stop That Pigeon that leaked out of his headset. This young lad kept his calm, was clear and direct and gave simple, good instructions until I heard him say, "Well, I'm surprised that you can't configure a printer then". The call ended fairly quickly and he turned to me and told me there was a complaint on the way. I was surprised, but sure that he'd done the right thing.

    When I and three layers of management listened back to the call (recorded for training purposes) we heard our man calmly trying to guide an increasingly irate and frankly stupid man through the process of printing from the browser. He took him to the point where the problem was local to his machine and went the extra mile to fix his local setup. Having got to the point where there was nothing left that it could be apart from the printer itself, which was so far beyond our remit we couldn't see it from where we were standing, matey on the other end explodes in foul mouthed fury and shouts that he is the IT director for [NATIONAL NEWSPAPER] and that he will be shouting at the minister personally.

    Our young hero was exonerated and bought beers, by me and others, at the next available opportunity.

    Printers are the Devil's work, but the General F*cking Public is far, far worse.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: "I'm the IT director for ..."

      I sure hope the complaint was answered with:

      "We listened to the recording of the call. We will no longer take your calls and are cutting you as a customer", preferably with a CC: to the C-level above that IT director.

      1. Admiral Grace Hopper

        Re: "I'm the IT director for ..."

        A Large Government Department doesn't get to pick and choose its customers. That's why they aren't customers. Service has to be delivered to all, no matter how much of a custard they might be. We were a third party supplier so we had to play the same game. If the Department were so minded I am sure that they could have made this person's life uncomfortably complicated, but that, fortunately for this guy, was not how they rolled.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "I'm the IT director for ..."

          Upvote for custard! Ages since I've heard that expression!

          1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

            Re: "I'm the IT director for ..."

            Humph! A slander on a fine name and dessert :-)

            Roobarb, roobarb, roobarb!

    2. juice Silver badge

      Re: "I'm the IT director for ..."

      > Printers are the Devil's work, but the General F*cking Public is far, far worse.

      I've told the tale before of the Cheap "Wireless" Printer With Just Two Buttons, on which you were meant to tap out some complicated pattern to put it into the right mode for WPS configuration. I ended up having to drive into town to buy a USB cable, boot up an ancient Windows laptop and then wait for Windows update to chew through a year or two of "upgrades" before I could install the printer drivers, hook up the USB cable, perform a firmware upgrade on the printer, and squirt the wireless config over from the laptop.

      Fun times. Not.

      But the general public can definitely be worse. Back when I used to work at an ISP, the call centre used to get absolutely hammered by irate customers, especially at Christmas when people have a tendancy to buy cheap fairy lights and other similar gadgets which then spew garbage across the EM spectrum...

      1. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: "I'm the IT director for ..."

        ... I try to not buy those printers, or buy ones with an actual UI on the damned machine.

        I also don't work with the general public anymore, and I try to not interact with the bulk of my users either.

        (Being at that company for 10 years and having the letters 'senior' in my job title generally means that If I'm busy doing something, best not to bother me, because either a) I already know it's broken and I'm neck deep trying to fix it; b) on the phone with the vendor doing same; c) doing something which, if done wrong, will cause items a or b. )

  5. ColinPa

    Sending a child to do an adults work

    I was visiting a customer in India about various problems - architectural and implementation. I was approached by a nervous young Indian girl about a problem they had ( same product, different problem). She said they had had the problem for a week, and not been able to solve it.

    The documentation said if you get this problem - check the following a).. b).. c)

    me:"Have you tried a)?" her:"Its not that"

    me:"How do you know" her:"My team leader said so...."

    by now the team leader and his manager (and lots of people had come round to watch).

    me:"well could you try it?"

    now her team leader stepped in

    him:"Ive been working in this area for 5 years... it is not a)"

    me:"Ive been working in this area for 20 years, I sit next to the guy who wrote the code please try a) we've spent more time discussing it than doing it"

    her:"Well lets try a) at least... ahhh it has fixed the problem - thank you"

    It turns out that the team leader thought he knew every thing, had to make every decision, and so make himself very powerful. He asked the most junior girl to come and see me, as he did not want to be seen not knowing everything.

    The team leader went off in a huff. I spent more time with the girl who actually knew her stuff -she just wasn't very confident in her abilities.

    The manager asked me to have a "quick look at the architecture", "hmmm I said, this wont scale, and if there is a power cut you'll lose this, and what happens when you need to reboot this box...." I think he was glad when I left.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: I think he was glad when I left

      It is true that incompetent nincompoops are very often highly annoyed by people who actually know what they're doing. They keep the idiot from whitewashing his mistakes.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: I think he was glad when I left

        It is true that incompetent nincompoops are very often highly annoyed by people who actually know what they're doing. They keep the idiot from whitewashing his mistakes.

        For some reason I can't give this the upvote it deserves, seems like the PTB don't like the truth.

        Instead, have a ====>

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: I think he was glad when I left

          For some reason I can't give this the upvote it deserves

          Hmm, same here, I just get "Sorry, this post is no longer open for votes".

          What's that about elReg?

          1. logicalextreme Bronze badge

            Re: I think he was glad when I left

            They're protecting the commenting software from a known Int32 overflow bug.

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: I think he was glad when I left

              Unlikely, 4,294,967,296‬ upvotes would be a bit much, I don't think there are quite that many commentards here.

              1. David 132 Silver badge
                Black Helicopters

                Re: I think he was glad when I left

                Works for me - if my browser screen is to be believed, I just gave the post its first upvote.

                Yep, I went back, re-loaded the page in a fresh tab and the lone upvote is still there.

                Bring back the Moderatrix!

      2. Ethangar

        Re: I think he was glad when I left

        I used to regularly wear a T-Shirt that said on the back. "People that think they know it all, really annoy those of us that DO." Kept most people away from me.

    2. Symon Silver badge

      Re: Sending a child to do an adults work

      "a customer in India" " if there is a power cut you'll lose this"

      From my experience working in India, I respectfully suggest that they'd know that already, as the Duke of Edinburgh will confirm. To be fair to him:-

      1. Mr Army

        Re: Sending a child to do an adults work

        Regarding Indian wiring, a few years ago a colleague of mine was working in India. He had a load of equipment he needed to power up outdoors. The local hire company offered him the choice of distribution racks with either 15amp or 16amp outlets. The 15amp version being the old UK standard domestic round pin plug, the 16amp version being the industrial water resistant free-form type.

        Obviously he specified the 16amp version as better protection in case of rain. He was less than impressed when it was all wired up as they had used bare cables with the stripped ends poked into the holes in the sockets and held in place with broken twigs.

        1. H in The Hague Silver badge

          Re: Sending a child to do an adults work

          "industrial water resistant free-form type"

          CEE form?

          Here's one for the weekend -->

        2. My other car is also a Trabant.

          Re: Sending a child to do an adults work

          I was offered a job in India. The perks included a house with its own water treatment plant and backup generator.

          Unfortunately the factory needed reliable power for continuous periods of 24 hours at a time, and the factory generator wasn't up to ensuring that.

    3. My other car is also a Trabant.

      Re: Sending a child to do an adults work

      An awkward situation in India, as the poor girl might have had it taken out on her afterwards.

      Been there, done that myself. Piece of kit doesn't work. Discover it's massively misconfigured. Manager says "that's your fault, no documentation."

      This is in the days of paper manuals, and the piece of kit actually has a documentation drawer. Inside which is the manual, pristine, obviously never been opened.

      The mistake I made was that I should have agreed with the manager, got all the other staff to leave the office, "found" the manual, apologised for the original (Indian) installer not having referred to it, and let the manager be the hero when the kit now worked. As it was, endless trouble for the next few days till a director got involved and told the guy to stop the shit.

  6. MarkET

    Often the basics are overlooked

    Used to work for a paper copying firm in the 80s. Sent to Norway to fix a comms problem. Copied configuration from a working machine to the failing one. Job done. Spent a few extra days in Oslo with my girlfriend. Good old days.

  7. chivo243 Silver badge

    IT Managers and GateKeepers

    Once you get the power, it is hard to share it, or let it go...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    when a user doubled down ...

    The original meaning of "doubled down" was to commit further to an already chosen course of action while gambling.

    I've seen a lot of that in IT over the years, the gambler attitude and afterwards complete and utter commitment to a course of action.

    Regardless of the facts.

    4 times in my career I've seen that result in companies going completely broke and more often than that companies just waste a lot of money.

    Maybe its time for a new career, gardening maybe?

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: when a user doubled down ...

      Doubling down a variation on Sunk Cost Fallacy - the "I've come this far so might as well continue" mind-set?

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: when a user doubled down ...

      I'm going into pottery... custom coffee mugs for all my friends at the bar!

  9. LDS Silver badge

    We had the inverse issue

    Microsoft and other software CDs and licenses were sent to the CEO assistant which also kept them. IT made copies of only the ones they routinely used, and when developers needed something outside what IT supplied - i.e. IT only deployed Win95 machines for "hardware compatibility reasons" (and their games, we guessed), while we needed NT4 and its service packs - we were left to deal with that nice woman ourselves, a woman well known for liking to make "underlings" life as much miserable as she could - and being unable to understand what we asked for and why didn't put her usually in a good mood.

    She was also in charge of the office furniture - and she liked it to be "prison gray" - but that's another story....

    1. Anonymous IV
      Thumb Down

      Re: We had the inverse issue

      > She was also in charge of the office furniture

      This reminds me of an obnoxious and officious Buildings Manager of a multi-storey office building in R*dh*ll in the last century. The IT Staff on site awarded him the honorary title of Head of Carpets, to recognise his true competencies...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We had the inverse issue

        had one of these in my old job, we called him Head of Plants

      2. jonathan keith Silver badge

        Re: We had the inverse issue

        I never knew Rod Hull had a town named in his honour. Every day is a learning day at The Reg!

    2. Vasten_the_Barelegged

      Re: We had the inverse issue

      > She was also in charge of the office furniture

      I worked at one company from before it moved into new offices. Some years later, I left, and afew years after that, I returned as a consultant, spending 3 days a week there, (the same company as in an earlier post above). I had known these open plan offices for 8 or 9 years. Most people had a standard four-block cubicle desk but some, who regularly needed to speak with others. had a longer section ending in a tear-drop round-ish table. I had one of these.

      But along came my boss and said that someone had complained that I was at a desk to which I wasn't entitled. I said "Do you mean the teardrop?" "No," my boss said. Your desk has rounded edges.

      Yes, the edges of the desk, for the great and the good, had rounded edges, while apparently the plebs were only entitled to desks with sharp edges. In 9 years I, and no doubt most others, had never noticed. Pity the person who made the complaint when suddenly nothing happened. What else may have been on his mind?

      1. logicalextreme Bronze badge

        Re: We had the inverse issue

        Normally hearing "I've had a complaint" or "people have noticed" or "I've been made aware" from a mangler is a steaming great hybrid neon sign/red flag that what you're about to hear is none other than the poorly-anonymised opinion of the mangler itself.

      2. Morrie Wyatt

        Re: We had the inverse issue

        His name wasn't Steve Jobs by any chance was it?

    3. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: We had the inverse issue

      I had one of those.

      The MGR was the person who controlled the licenses for the software involved.

      MGR: "Why can't you implement Project Nowin?"

      Me: "Because we don't have the proper license to do it the quick way. Will you authorize a license or do you want me to do it the [days] long way?" [a day elapses]

      MGR: "Let's call the vendor"

      V: "Does this guy know what he's doing?"

      Me: "The message from the software is in clear English. We don't have the proper license." [a day elapses]

      V: "You need a different license." [ a day elapses]

      Mgr: "We have two different licenses for this? Who is responsible? Who made that decision?"

      Me: [In head: You did of course, you extremely annoying waste of space]

      Me [in real life]: "A legacy decision from before the time I joined the department. No-one remembers making that decision or why. Do you have a license for me? We no longer have the time left to implement Project Nowin the long way." [etc]

  10. Terry 6 Silver badge


    In my few weeks working as a filing clerk for a mail order company - and knowing that I and all the others would be fired eventually (written about previously) I found a clipboard lying around. For two weeks I wandered round the building holding this and generally avoiding being where I was meant to be. I wasn't missed in that office, probably because no one knew or cared what we were doing. And no one, ever , questioned who I was and what I was doing. The suits were not interested in any part of the business either too busy to notice a 20 something menial worker.

  11. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
    Paris Hilton

    I'm confused why the article called the location "[premises}" (with those brackets). Is that a reference to something that I've missed somewhere, and Im now revealing my neophyte ignorance by asking?

    Paris because I'm feeling clueless...

    1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

      My guess: the author was quoting the reader Tom ("I was called..."). Tom probably used an original expression for location/premises that people wouldn't be familiar with, and the author chose to replace it with the word "premises", putting square braces around it as per the convention when altering a statement. A case of fat fingers replaced the closing square bracket with a curly one.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Possibly the original word that 'Tom' used might have identified what company they were talking about, and the editor removed it to preserve their anonymity.

      2. David 132 Silver badge

        An unresolved paranthesis creates a low-level tension (that will stay with you all day.

        1. jonathan keith Silver badge

          ... but throwing in a deliberate spelling mistake as well is the mark of a true sadist.

    2. tekHedd

      Normally this indicates the substitution of a proper noun for a pronoun when a quote is trucated, as in "I never respected Donald. He was an idiot." quoted in short as "[Donald] was an idiot." In this case it appears to be sort of the opposite. :)

  12. Squeensnex

    As Mark Twain wrote...

    It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.

  13. Luiz Abdala Bronze badge

    No drivers.

    The only thing I've ever installed without any drivers was a Plantronics USB Headset that came LITERALLY without an Install Disk.

    It had a NO-CD icon printed on the cardboard box to reassure you the thing had no drivers whatsoever, it wasn´t a case of missing parts or documentation in the box.

    It simply stated that the headset was fully enclosed on the USB Media definitions of Windows, and required no extra drivers. It had volume controls and a mute button for microphone that would operate the Windows counterpart directly.

    Not even mice were ever truly plug-and-play like that headset.

    1. Peter Simpson 1

      Re: No drivers.

      Funny you should mention...

      My company-issued laptop runs Win10. With the work-at-home being normal now, I took the time to equip my Fortress of Solitude (basement office) with a decent (i.e.: free and robust) laser printer, to wit: a very clean used Laserjet 5M*. Bought a JetDirect card for it ($20 on eBay) and put it on my home network.

      The company laptop installed it as the default printer and all was well.

      Fast forward a couple of weeks. IT discovered my laptop needed updates. Duly installed, and I spent a day getting things back the way I like them (and deleting XBox stuff, etc -- why this is installed on an "industry Pro" version of Windows, I don't know) and noticed the printer was missing.

      After a little investigation, I find that sometime between the last update my PC had and the most recent one, HP removed the PCL5 driver from Win10. Now...why would they do that? Go to HP website...older version of the PCL driver is not to be found. And PCL6 is not downward compatible with PCL5 (at least as far as the LJ5 is concerned).

      Could HP be trying to get me to buy a new printer? One, perhaps, with the ability to "expire" toner cartridges whenever HP's cash flow takes a dip? You might certainly think that, I couldn't possibly comment.

      Luckily, The Internet came to the rescue. Some nice chap has archived the old HP PCL5 drivers for Win10. They install quite easily printer is working again. Except every print job now pops up a little warning telling me: "black toner almost empty". Goodness me, and I just installed a new cartridge and have printed maybe three pages off it.

      So HP has chosen not to offer driver support for "older" printers. I'm sure this was a huge burden for them, and I find their actions quite reasonable...NOT!

      *The LJ5M is built like a tank, metal chassis, easily repairable and the necessary parts are inexpensive and readily available, since the LJ5 was sold by the millions and is still doing service as the default office printer, even in my company's offices. Mine was offered free and broken by a local law office. $150 worth of parts (a rebuilt fuser assy for $125 and a $25 gear) and it's like new. Repair instructions, of course, on YouTube.

      1. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: No drivers.

        Yep. those Canon EX based printers are my personal favorite. major things that go wrong with them are the pickup rollers and the fuser assembly. Give me 20 minutes and a 'maintenance kit' for them, and it'll be good to go for another 50,000 prints.

        1. gryphon

          Re: No drivers.

          Indeed. LJ4 final feed assembly was a bit of a pain to replace though.

          Try replacing the Teflon? coated roller within the fuser assembly itself though, such fun. :-)

          I think the IIISi's were the most bulletproof though, probably because they were built like a tank. Company I did maintenance for had several in one office that had done 1.5 million pages each. I'd hate to have had their paper bill let alone their toner bill.

          I'm sure I saw one that had done nearer 3 million but that might just be age catching up with my memory.

          Problem with the Si versions of course was that they'd always be shoved up against a wall and were a pig to shift to get at certain parts due to the weight.

      2. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: No drivers.

        LaserJets! Filled with concrete, a wonderful boat anchor! Workhorses for sure, but we out grew local printers, leasing MFPs now. Still have two or three LJ4700s in speciality offices, how old are they?

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

          Re: No drivers.

          Mine was built, if I am to believe the test page, in 1996, and has printed around 330k pages. It was almost spotless inside. Someone had taken good care of it, but the fuser jammed and busted some gears. Thus the "free to a good home" advert whixh brought me to pick it up.

          It replaced a series of inkjets, the last of which, refused to work no matter how many new cartridges you put in it. The family refused to have another inkjet, and I was ready to buy a Brother laser printer, when I remembered I had this one in the basement. Took about a week to get it fixed. All you need is a screwdriver. Everything comes out and the replacemnts drop in. A beautifully designed machine.

          Agree the workplace has gone beyond this but we do still have some very similar machines in the office area, not that I'm there very much anymore. What worked for the office last year is often quite a good bet for home this year. My Procurve gigabit switch was a discard from work. As were my personal laptops.

          Being nice to the IT people has its benefits.

      3. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

        Re: No drivers.

        You need two information from someone knowing more (yes, that would be me):

        The HP LaserJet 4 and later HP LaserJet 5 were removed form the internal driver list. Two solutions: Choose the next best alike printer, like Laserjet 4000 or 4050 which is still PCL5 and just rename it to "LaserJet 4". Second best method: Get the HP Universal PCL driver, which is a bit annoying since it throws popups when a toner gets low or when a page was printed, but it works.

      4. Luiz Abdala Bronze badge

        Re: No drivers.

        I love those printers! You can program one of them to print the low battery warning from a Nokia 3310, on the day before of the Heat Death Of the Universe, after God printed all of our sins on it, and the thing will still work.

        It is built like a tank indeed, with a maintenance kit for every million miles.

        And clip-on ties were invented because of those things.

      5. Snapper

        Re: No drivers.

        I'm still running 2 x LaserJet 4100dn printers from new. Every year or two I put in a new toner cartridge and they just keep going...! If I update the OS the drivers are built into it (thanks Apple).

  14. Kev99

    I am far from being an IT expert, just someone who's been putzing around with the fool things since the mid-80s. The other day my boss came into my office wanting to know why he couldn't download any pictures he had emailed himself. I asked him if he right clicked on the image and then selected save as. He responded he had but it didn't work. So I went down the hall to his his office to see what the problem was. Well, he had Outlook's preview pane open, something I've told everyone to not do. I explained he had to have the actual message open and then right click. Problem solved. It's kind of an ego massage when this old dog can teach the young pups something.

  15. logicalextreme Bronze badge

    A bevy

    sounds like it might be pushing the recommended unit allowance.

  16. ecofeco Silver badge

    ...that it lacked the drivers for the existing printer, a common enough occurrence in those early days of Windows.

    Oddly enough, it still is.

    Ever found yourself on the receiving end of an idiot-blast when a user doubled down?

    At least once a year. At the very least. End user. Boss. Co-worker. Vendor.

  17. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    What used to be a joke has become fact

    I see that POTUS has recently accused the author of a book that exposes how stupid Trump is of revealing state secrets.

    1. logicalextreme Bronze badge

      Re: What used to be a joke has become fact

      Upvote, though I don't think you can expose something that's been butt-naked and shining like a supernova from day zero.

      Apologies for the image.

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: What used to be a joke has become fact


      It's not really that much of a secret, is it now?

    3. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: What used to be a joke has become fact

      So Winnie the Pooh game him some advice when they met?

    4. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: What used to be a joke has become fact

      I keep saying that Donald Trump is not as stupid as he seems, but apparently that is some special kind of secret because no one believes me.

      I do say he's not as clever as he thinks.

      1. TSM

        Re: What used to be a joke has become fact

        I used to believe that he wasn't as stupid as he seemed, but it's become increasingly difficult to justify that opinion. When he came out with "testing makes our numbers go up so I asked our people to slow down the testing", I lost the last few remaining shreds of any desire to do so.

    5. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

      Re: What used to be a joke has become fact

      Downvoted because your stupid politics are not relevant to this thread.

      Only idiots try to push their politics to places where politics are not discussed and where there might be people with opposite views.

  18. MiguelC Silver badge

    I once did some consultancy work for a bank (whose name sounds like you have a sort of rod, or pole, and something little kids play with... doh!).

    The client's IT manager was the proud gatekeeper of an in-house designed software interface that worked as a presentation layer for mainframe screen I/O, on which I was to do some work. He gave me a user manual he'd written and I went to work. As there were no description of the option buttons I needed, I had to design around the SW specification for a way to make it work.

    On the day internal SW validation was due I got the message my solution did not work - because I'd designed it not exactly according to what the manual dictated, it was the manager's *opinion* that it didn't work, and he didn't even let his team test it. I went to one of his juniors and showed how I'd made it work and all the tests my team had done... She told me she'd already knew it worked, but could not contradict her boss.

    My options were: 1) go back and find a different solution to the problem (with no guarantee of acceptance); 2) go over his head, to the client who originally asked me to do the job.

    Without going much into it, I never saw the manager's face again for the remaining few days working there and, to my knowledge my solution worked without a hitch for - at least - the next 10 years and has been adopted by others since.

    Oh, and I left in very good terms with the juniors on his team. It seems I wasnt the only one annoyed with his attitude.

  19. Colonel Mad

    New phrase

    Bev o'clock, I like it a lot.

  20. Anonymous Tribble

    Name of the Game

    I had a manager send me a nasty email saying that I had emailed a customer and spelled their name wrong. I responded with "But that is how they spell their name on their emails. Their email address is spelled differently because it was set up wrongly (customer's company's fault, not ours)."

    I did eventually get a slight apology.

  21. Stuart Halliday

    Reminded me of a battle I had when I worked at Maplin. Next door was PC World. Customer came to me to get a cable for their desktop PC as instructed by the PCWorld person.

    I told the customer that such a cable didn't exist. So back to PCWorld he went for further instructions.

    He came back with a piece of paper and once more I said, such a cable didn't exist.

    This exchange went on about 6 times. Until I feeling pity for him went with him into PCWorld and looked at his PC myself.

    I saw immediately that PCWorld technician was inventing cables. You can't get a 6 pin graphics card power cable to ATX 24 pin main board adapter. I of course sold the customer the correct PSU cable....

    Made a change from telling the customer to refund their £90 HDMI cable from PCWorld and buy a £6 from us instead.

    1. Bob.

      I recently had a couple of weeks convalescence in a Care Home. I was pretty locked down and my dodgy mobile phone charger cable decided it would become permanently dodgy. I couldn't charge my lifeline.

      My sis sent me a new charger but it came without a cable. Just the socket outlet power supply.

      I asked around for any spare USB chargers and cables. Only one Health Worker could help me.

      But he referred to it as a Samsung Charger. Knowing if it was reasonably modern it would be fine and it was, I said yes please.

      (Strangely, we both had the same Huawei Y6 phone)

      Apparently, all phone chargers are known as Samsung Chargers these days :)

      According to him and a couple of others.

  22. Wzrd1

    Yeah, had a few clients like that

    Some, with the CEO being the obstruction.

    We simply raised our $135/hour rate to the problem child $185/hour rate and for a special few, $235/hour, and one, $250/hour.

    As no other peer would accept their business, yeah, it was worth the effort. With the two highest rate charged companies, I was given free hand and given that no other company would deal with them, it was priceless.

    If someone doesn't know or understand, I'm patient and can educate the village idiot, but abusive and obstructive, those are folks that I explain to all listeners about that invaluable individual being a primary example of why one does not poke baby in the fontanelle - repeatedly.

  23. stick box

    Bordan Tkachuk

    Ah, Bordan Tkachuk, (Lord) Alan Sugars boy and former Viglen CEO made us all curl up in pain when he triumphantly shoved his ignorance at Stuart Baggs (RIP) via national TV.....

    "I know what ISP is. It's an Internet Service Protocol. And that's what you're providing. It's not a telecoms operating licence. It's a protocol that allows telecoms over bandwidths. .. "I've been running Alan Sugar's companies for the last 25 years, and that's why I know a little bit about technology."

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