Is he any relation of Mondrian?
It is Friday so may we suggest taking a moment out of your preparations for a weekend charge to the pub to enjoy another tale from those tasked with helping the confused in today's On Call. "Tom" spent the decades from 1985 to 2005 working for a large insurance broker. He had reached "the dizzy heights of 'Senior Technical …
How the Muddy Mildred do you counterfeit freaking gold? It's really not difficult to tell what a sample of some mystery metal is made of. Nobody with O-level chemistry and physics could fall for the "scam" described in that article; which, I suppose, tells you something about the intended audience.
Nope, you're not.
Also see kicking out cables, pushing monitor power buttons with the back of the keyboard, pressing switches on power strips with shoes / handbags, replacing toner in printers / photocopiers, fixing the franking machine and swapping the fuse in the plug of the fridge in the office kitchen.
I've never been employed as first line support but apparently having a technical bent and being in proximity to anything with a power supply immediately makes it my problem...
I've never been employed as first line support but apparently having a technical bent and being in proximity to anything with a power supply immediately makes it my problem...
Indeed, my favorite was being asked to fix the coffee machine "because it has a log in code on it..."
As the newest recruit to the electronic engineering section of a large R&D department, I was warned that one of my jobs would be fixing plugs on things for people.
This was because after a hard fought battle the EETPU had conceded that the electronic engineers were allowed to fit 13A plugs, whereas trying to get an electrician out to do the job could take weeks - not good if you had an experiment to run.
I really became a hero when I demonstrated how a small 3-phase motor could be converted to run with a capacitor, because of course only the electricians were allowed to connect up 440V - though usually you eventually got an apprentice sent out to do the job who had no idea what he was doing and had to be "helped".
Some years ago I went to one of the schools in my patch where I was doing specialist literacy support on behalf of the local authority ( at a small but usefully higher pay grade than the classroom teachers.
In the open plan section there was a horrible smell coming from a row of sinks.
I was greeted by the headteacher with a "Could you sort out that smell for us"..
My response that I was the literacy specialist, not even employed by them and that they had a schoolkeeper for that job was met with, "Ah but he's too busy".
NEVER ever jimmy open a lock in public. To my defense, I was 18 at a time, with my cute innocent doe-eyes. Big welcome-the-noobs party at the Uni, the sound equipment was in a locked room, the girl in charge was quite cute and obviously would show appreciation even to a geek if he solved her issue...
Bottom line, after that, seemed like people looked at me sort of strange, not in a good way. Never saw the girl again....
Did something like this late at night to gain entry to my university's computer department. Obviously there were students with keycards in and out of there all night, so no alarms or security to worry about, but it did get me some odd looks and comments along the lines of 'do your parents know you can do this?'. Don't think it did me any lasting harm though, the excitement of doing something illicit seemed to be quite titivating, in fact.
What happened to horizontal computer cases? They were much more practical than having a monolith from 2001 beside the monitor, sometimes so tall as to tower above it too, while the monitor itself is at the wrong level. Now, all that remains of them is very niche product.
What happened to horizontal computer cases?
Good point. I remember back in the late 80's/early 90's when we all had horizontal cases, it was quite the fashionable thing in my workplace to stand them vertically. IIRC this was an evolution of having the monitor sitting on the desk itself, and having the case (horizontal) off to one side...I think because it was considered to be a bit cooler than having the monitor atop the base unit in a conventional manner. The practice of then putting the base unit vertically was just to save desk real estate. None of the machines even had CD drives then so there was no worries about whether a disc would stay in place.
> What happened to horizontal computer cases?
Veeery simple: How often do you need to insert your boot floppy disk in drive A:, and your program + data disk in drive B: nowadays?
Today: You simply don't need to put in disks or even CDs on a daily base. Only when you reinstall the machine, which most do via USB thumb or from the network.
> What happened to horizontal computer cases? They were much more practical than having a monolith from 2001 beside the monitor, sometimes so tall as to tower above it too, while the monitor itself is at the wrong level. Now, all that remains of them is very niche product.
I used to put my case vertically because:
(a) it was easier to move it forward/backwars to inevitably plug something into the back, without the huge weight of the CRT to shift with it at the same time.
(b) I could take the panels off to twiddle something without moving said heavy CRT off to one side, assuming I had space on the desk for the CRT and the case horizontally.
Basically, I used vertical cases back then because of the weight and bulk of the CRT. With flat panels now, that issue has gone away, however nowadays you don't need to access the back of your PC often (most of the time you just want to plug a USB device in, and most monitors have built in hubs for that now), and the PCs themselves are quite small.
I still have an old tower as my desktop, but that's because its a lovely Apple G5 case that is nice to look at. If it wasn't for that, I would probably shove it out of sight somewhere behind my desk and never think of it again (unless something goes wrong).
If you want a horizontal PC case, you can do what I did for a while, and buy a 2U rackmount case (there are "short depth" ones around 55cm) and use that. I find the 1U's have small fans which are too noisy, but the 2U fit standard "silent" fans, and take normal size PSU's well
it was easier to move it forward/backwars to inevitably plug something into the back,
Or, more poignantly, to get to the fu****ng serial number which is always on the f***ing back.
And even now, when I've not had to do this for years I still feel my blood pressure rising!
I always put it down to our user base at the time being used to having a terminal and a keyboard on their desk while the processing was done in a building somewhere "over there" in an air-conditioned room filled with magical boxes, spinning tape reels and the happy band of skilled acolytes servicing their every need. I could understand the assumption that all the user had to do was switch on the screen, log in and start typing. That understanding faded and lapsed into frustration by the time we got to Windows 3.11 and folk really should have started to get it without me reaching for the Clue Hammer.
Hollywood "cool" has a lot to answer for. From people ripping faxes or printout off (and causing jams) to modern times when people have learned from Hollywood to SLAM their laptops shut. Even when there a pen or other foreign object just waiting to smash the screen. At least the HDDs are solid state now and can survive the shocks.
Not forgetting that sitting on top of the "screen" would be a collection of soft toys and potted plants, which did wonders for the ventilation.
The results of an over-watered potted plant dripping on to an overheated CRT were usually quite spectacular.
Back in the days of CRT monitors in offices I Was once warned against Christmas tinsel bedecking monitors.
Something about static charge being gathered by metallic tinsel.
I was also given the line that CRT monitors give you spots. The screen does get charged, which produces an image charge on your face which attracts dirt.
SO spotty IT nerds may not be that much of a cliche.
"The screen does get charged, which produces an image charge on your face which attracts dirt."
That takes me back around four decades, to Apple ][s with crappy monitors which got very static and gave me a facial rash. Never had that with any other display before or after. Mind you we were posh, I think we had 48 k memory, way more than the base model of 16 k.
--> That time of week again.
"That takes me back around four decades, to Apple ][s with crappy monitors which got very static and gave me a facial rash"
I was working in a place that had IBM Displaywriters, and one of the secretaries complained that hers gave her a rash on her arms. Whether it was the static itself, or the dust that it collected, or psychosomatic, adding a filter over the CRT made of conductive glass that was grounded stopped the complaints.
Re the showers of sparks, I never did see that, though occasionally a monitor died with a faint burning smell. But I wasn't present the day that the cat who slept on top of my 21" monitor got attacked by another cat and lost control of her bladder. Diagnosis on that one was by smell, too.
Back in the days of CRT monitors in offices I Was once warned against Christmas tinsel bedecking monitors.
Something about static charge being gathered by metallic tinsel
I reckon the reason for that is the tendency for small metallic ribbons making their way into the monitor casing through the ventilation slots, and despite being plastic-coated, not being sufficiently so to prevent a high voltage short...
The small shiny bits that make up tinsel and other decorations are inside out compared to your understanding. The plastic which provides the base colour and physical strength is on the inside. Aluminium is then sputter coated on the outside in an almost mono-molecular layer, thus making it almost transparent. The result is as you have noticed, reasonably conductive at higher voltages.
Reminds me of finger print scanner/readers.
We'd always see them failing a bit more in winter mornings. Root cause was people putting on a load of hand moisturiser as soon as they got into the office and it was a bit reflective so the scanner could read the prints properly. Once we figured it out, we did have one person put in a complaint that it was discriminatory because it was affecting women more than men
A working from home colleague had recurring issues with her broadband connection which would die at random times of the day, IT support asked her to send a photo of the back of her home router so that a replacement could be ordered. The photo received showed the router with a large table lamp sitting on it and blocking the air vents on it's top surface, so the poor thing was overheating and shutting off, only recovering when it'd cooled down, and so on.
When asked why she'd placed a table lamp on top of the router, her reply was that there are vents on the sides and front of the router, so she thought it'd be okay.
As the old saying goes, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing...
I use to have to visit a customer who had a number of servers in an old kitchen with a small extractor and a desk fan for cooling. They kept the door closed as it was so noisy with all the server fans running on full.
Frequently our server would overheat, it'd also log all the internal temperatures. We showed the customer how hot it was running, their response was to find the data sheet for the mother board and show that it was within it's operating parameters. Fortunately my manager agreed with me that we should exclude heat related faults from our maintenance agreement.
We had an incident during my first proper IT job in which a system became intermittently unresponsive, then completely so. Soon another system went too. Once we'd hit three and clocked that they were all hosted in the warehouse, we phoned the building manager over there to ask him to go and check the server room (which had recently been upgraded to a relatively swanky setup for our company; logged electronic access, brand new cooling, gaseous fire suppression etc.). He said there was no need because he'd just been in there half an hour ago.
"What did you need to go in there for half an hour ago?"
"Well I'd noticed the lights on the air conditioning were lit when I looked through the window, so I just went in to turn them off because you guys are never over here so it's a waste of energy"
Ta mate, could you Ctrl-Z that please?
My last day at one job included this gem of a slow running systems in the morning at a Doctors office especially on a Monday morning. So Friday afternoon go to site.
Router is in a wall mounted cabinet, they left open for access to medical supplies during the day, but at night.......
Other stories from Somerset County Council around the time of South West Con......
Users blocking up vents by storing handbags & bankers boxes of papers & files
Users blocking the top vent over the fan with Sony monitors with circular bases that when artistically centred covered the vent.
Overheating machines following a new suite & office moves done by Deskside support over the weekend (They worked in the council offices, the field/hardware guys worked in the wooden ht in the car park), pushing the side vents to the soft fabric new cubicle walls & being artistic with the Sony monitors.
Their other project was memory upgrades which failed brilliantly thanks for using mismatched memory.
Wiser heads (Me!) redid the work by pairing up machines & putting in new memory in two banks & populating all the banks with the old in the other.
Icon - Beer O'clock
Reminds me of the user claiming that since my last software update the mouse was consistently moving in reverse: pointer moving left as the mouse went to the right, or up as the mouse was moving down. I asked her to demo this, and noticed she was somehow holding the mouse with the wire (no wrireless in the early 90s) towards her. A quick 180 degree turn of the offending rodent solved it.
I honestly did toy with the idea of introducing a software option that would invert directionality of the mouse, preferably switching on or off at random intervals for seriously annoying users (complte with undocumented key combination that would kill that behaviour), but I thought the better of it.
I had one had a boss who had some weird trait that meant that whilst up/down were normal she needed left and right to be reversed.. there used to be an option in the mouse advanced settings to allow you to flip just the x axis.. I was the only one who spotted that option in 2 years, guess who always got a call when she got a new machine even when I no longer worked for her.
I was sent along as "tech support" for a trial run of a training program for a new internal ordering program that was being put in. Since everything was running flawlessly, once I'd set it up, I just sat in the back of the room with nothing to do.
I noticed that one of the trainees kept twisting the mouse as if she expected that to do something. At a break, I mentioned to the instructor that that particular trainee appeared to be trying to rotate the screen pointer by turning the mouse.
When things started back up the trainer started wandering around the room, seemingly at random, but ending up behind the trainee I'd been watching. Then went back to the front of the room a launched into a lesson on how mice and the pointers worked.
The trainer thanked me later for the observation.
I think my quickest fix was answering a call from a user and hearing a distinctive beep-beep-beep... so pretty much before she said anything I told her to move the file that was resting on the corner of her keyboard.
She was impressed I knew the problem without even seeing the computer!
Not had that problem for a while, largely since I developed a DMS so most of our docs are available online now.
When I was a PFY we had a lot of "Girls" in the typing pool, whose job it was to type up the minutes of various meetings and letters written or dictated by managers, etc. One of our ladies complained that her (green screen) workstation kept inserting extra spaces in the text she had typed. We had the equipment sent up to our lab, but could not get the same effect, so declared it OK and sent it back. Next day, same complaint, so workstation laboriously carried up to lab for more extensive testing, all of which it passed. When I took it back down to the typing pool (at great personal danger) I stood and watched as the lady started typing. After a sentence or two, she would lean forwards and to the right to read the next sentence on the manuscript, at which point her left boob would depress the space bar, resulting in the offending row of spaces. I went to the Pattern Makers and procured four 3 inch cubes of Deal and four 4" woodscrews. Turned the typist's chair upside down and attached one block to each leg. Problem solved, no more errant spaces.
At least it was just a file. I've heard of one user call where the problem was a large & more intimate part of upper anatomy resting on the space bar...
My father-in-law, rest in peace, ran across that sort of problem when he worked for IBM in the "good old days" of keypunch machines. I have mentioned FIL before, the perfect IBM employee for 40+ years, dark suit, starched white shirt and personality to match. He was called out to diagnose a particular keypunch that was jamming up repeatedly. He stood at the back of the room, observing the "keypunch ladies" on a half dozen of these. He realized what the problem was as one very well-endowed lady went to clear a slight jam in the card path, but it turned into a nightmare jam as she leaned over the keyboard, simultaneously pressing many keys at once. I wish I could have observed the conversation he had with the supervisor, since he blushed spectacularly while recounting the tale....
Had contractor installing a printer for a user, he was having problems with the drivers not working.
I could hear the printer in the background, and I'm embarrassed to say this - recognised the model of the printer from the sounds it made, and could tell the contractor that he was installing the wrong drivers...
Not sure if this counts but I've sometimes received an email from one of my website clients saying either they can't get something working or something else is broken. However, sometimes even before I've had the chance to look at the email, another email has come in saying they figured out what they were doing wrong and it's now ok, so I end up not having to do anything whatsoever.
This has taught me to check exactly how many emails have come in from a customer and then read the last one first.
I've walked into rooms where there's been a problem with a printer, and without touching or saying anything, the printer has started working. I've seen other people do it too, so I know it's not just my electromagnetic field (although I often turn street lights off when I walk past them)...
"Equipment needs to know who's boss."
YES! This! A thousand, thousand, thousand times this!
I have to explain to many staff that the reason the machine starts working when I do exactly what they did is because mine was the first hand to touch it and it knows I *will* slap it if it misbehaves.
And if anyone ever starts a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Computers, they may be subject to a Terrible Accident...
My ex-wife had the exact opposite effect. I had a small rack of computers in my home office, and by rack I mean a dent and ding wooden shelving thing from Ikea. It had a Sun SS10, MAC G4 tower, 1 or 2 PC clones depending on what I was up to, and a rather large rack mount UPS underneath. If she walked with in 5´ of the rack at least one of them would crash. Usually the PC, but more often than can be attributed to chance, the Mac and SparcStation as well. After all 3 crashed 2 or 3 times when she walked too close I had to tell her not to get within 10´ It wasn’t just computers either.
Lightbulbs had a real bad habit of burning out just as she walked under them, any incandescent bulb in any room and other peoples houses. It seemed to be tied to her mood as well. The more upset she was and in particular the more angry, the stronger the effect would get.
I thought it was just me as well!
The Head of Marketing had issues getting to a website. I walked in, hit the (apparently same) link that she'd been trying and hey presto!
Can't explain the street light thing though. That's just weird.
Infra-red light sensors as well. They don't spot me unless I'm right on top of them. Very annoying when I'm in the gents and the lights decide that no-one's about any more.
I learned the hard way about optical mice and their dislike of contrasting lines (including printed timber "grain" on table tops) , so I used a piece of cardboard as a mat. It was scratty enough to be ready to replace on the day that a supplier's rep walked through our office and recognised an opportunity for product placement. He opened his bag of shiny things and offered me a proper neoprene mouse mat with his company's logo printed where I would see it all day, every day. I told him that it was no good because of the high contrast graphics, then demonstrated why. The unhappy look on his face made me wonder how many mats they'd had printed. The mat worked fine after I turned it over.
The father in law gave me a very beautiful Chinese bird painting one. Had to explain that I couldn't use it for this reason which disappointed him somewhat. Now I just it as a picture on my desk and stick to using a grey paper cutting board that I've had for years (nice and stiff, really smooth and teflon mouse feet glide over it like a charm).
There used to be a Raspberry Jam held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. (Said Jam is no defunct because said museum wanted to be paid for people to come in and do something educational for the public...go figure.)
I would set up system on a long side table near the snack bar in the museum lobby. The tables were completely smooth and a very even white. Optical mice wouldn't work on the surface at all. A white piece of paper would work, but not the table top.
Am I the only person who doesn't use a mouse mat any more?
I use one, but not because the mouse needs it, more like the desk needs protecting from the mouse. Had to replace a fairly nice desk once before when I wore through the veneer where the mouse was, and didn't feel like scraping the mouse or my hand across the sandpaper-like glue board underneath!
A nice sheet of blank A4 does the job nicely, and it's rather cheap to replace when it wears out.
"Am I the only person who doesn't use a mouse mat any more?"
Upgrading a lab with new kit and the new mice are optical, partly because they are the new "in thing" and partly because the lab has to be spotless and bio-secure at all times. Except the mice act as though they aren't plugged in. No pointer movement at all. Oddly, the buttons seem to work, eg right mouse button brings a context menu up. It turns out optical mice really don't like beautifully smooth white shiny lab benches which get cleaned and sterilised frequently. A sheet of A4 paper worked as a mouse mat which was cheap and could be replaced every time the bench got cleaned.
Problem with cardboard and ball mice is the dust. The best mat I ever had was a 3M Precise Mousing Surface (unfortunate initials) which had tiny plastic pyramids as a surface. Ball mice needed cleaning much less often.
It also had a muted blue pattern under the pyramids which meant that when I swapped to an optical mouse, it still worked just fine.
In fact it's still in use on my main computer, which is currently sitting on a desk surface completely unsuitable for either ball or optical mice. The mat must be at least 25 years old by now.
Thanks to Norwich Computer Services and Paul Beverley who drew my attention to it!
In the late 90s an aunt of mine bought me a Seven-of-Nine mouse mat for Christmas (can't imagine why!). Jeri Ryan was wearing a silver metallic looking jumpsuit, and of course the mat itself was very very shinny.
This worked fine initially, as I still had a mechanical mouse, but of course the late 90s was also when optical mice started to take off, and the mat became useless[*] fairly quickly.
* Except for aesthetic reasons of course!
The first couple of generations of optical mice had problems with certain colours. A chap I worked with had a mouse mat with a red-eyed green tree frog printed on it. He swapped from a ball mouse to an optical one and retained the mouse mat. Every time the optical sensor moved over the frog's eyes, the mouse pointer went crazy. It took him a while to figure that one out.
Yeah until over ten years ago I just ordered those plain blue mousemats, my current mousemat is one of those larger gaming mousepads (Akasa Venom, but I find it works with everything. My old man actually got one as well, as for Autocad apparently loves it for detailed Cad drawings)
"I remember the early optical mice only working with their specific mouse pads and nothing else."
I believe these mice needed the fine grid lines printed on the surface as reference markings. I never got to play with one, might have been fun to see if the pad had to be in a certain orientation as well. So many potential failure modes to contemplate...
I learned when working in schools that if a headteacher tells you they can't log on you need to turn off the caps lock. Time to fix: about a second.
Well, a bit longer as you then need to reassure that that we all do it from time to time, of course you're not stupid and so on.
My favoured wireless keyboard has all the status LEDs on the receiver pod. Which is usually sitting out of sight behind piles of paper on the desk. Still having regular WTF! moments after gaming sessions & frantic kbd mashing, before remembering it might be capslock.
Back in the days of MS-DOS, it was trivially easy to programmatically alter the keyboard CAPs, NUM and SCRLCK LEDs. I've no idea if it's still possible, but it was used in some games for extra status info or just for a cheap extra effect of flashing them in sequence.
"Damn good idea, a giant trackball / foot rest, with buttons ..."
There are actually quite a few models available.
When I had bad RSI I figured it wasn't the pointing with the mouse that hurt me, but clicking the buttons. So I got some foot pedals from a musical instruments shop and connected those to a mouse PCB - worked really well. Nowadays you buy units like that.
Providing support for hardware and assembler types often involved asking if we should bring the "micro-scope". Newbies often thought we were taking the proverbial before they encountered logic analysers and DAS systems...Also, once went to see a potential software supplier who lived on a farm, had a server rack in an open stable. Not to mention his wife's unmentionables drying in front of the fire.
Fix an issue with a managers HP printer printing emails in the mid 90's where he had been having aggro for weeks with desktop support where emails weren't printing, about a second "Load Letter" - press continue.
When outlook used to default and be hard to change from Letter to A4 and it always seem to end up back at Letter
That's all he needed and wanted to know.
The mention of green screens reminded me of the early PC days when the monitor was monochrome, and either green or amber for upmarket CAD systems (Hercules graphic cards anyone?). I remember my CAD operator walking into my office and cheerfully sat down with a fresh coffee, saying that his screen just died, and therefore could do no more work until I bought him a new one. After assuring me he'd done nothing to cause the fault except tidy his desk off I went to have a look. Power LED? Check. Computer on? Check. Cables connected? Check. Keyboard pushed right under the monitor, touching the control knobs ... Ah! Restoring the brightness and contrast levels to a central position soon wiped the grin of the smug git's face ...
"Restoring the brightness and contrast levels to a central position soon wiped the grin of the smug git's face"
Turning the brightness and contrast down to minimum used to be a fun jape. Usually it stopped after the first contract maintenance engineer (me!) arrived on site, explained that this was not a contractual fault and we'd be billing them for the call-out.
Anyone else remember the lead-lined aprons issued to 'Computer Operators' because of the (alledged) radiation from the cathode ray tube monitors? My company's health and safety people allowed their use to be optional unless the operator was pregnant. Most of the computer operators had peviously been short-hand typists now updated to using 'word processors' - big ugly things looking like the control station from Star Trek, with stacks of big floppy disks around.
I remember the psychological effort of getting secretaries weaned off floppies.
"If I save them on this W drive thing, how will I meet them lined up in my floppy disc box?" or
"But other people will be able to read them!" - that's because W stands for workgroups. and
a complete inability to understand that when they got a new PC or moved to a new office, they did not need to back up their stuff and restore it on the new computer.
I think that the thing that eventually won the over was the search functions ability to search for words inside really large numbers of documents across their entire. It was much easier to use back then.
When floppy drives stopped appearing on new PCs, none of them noticed.
Late 80s or early 90s (too many brain cells have meanwhile been obliterated to recall the exact timeframe) I worked for a software house that had its first RISC mini delivered, an HP3000/925 which I was eager to get my mitts on. The kit had been delivered, the customer engineer arrived and off we went to the data centre (read: basement of the house where the company was situated).
I dutyfully and impatiently assisted him getting my new toy racked, experiencing those Christmassy emotions I vaguely (same brain cell thing) recalled from my childhood, after which the moment suprème arrived and we powered the mighty machine up. The system console (an HP2392 or 'Calypso' terminal) was sitting on a desk next to the rack which was about 2m high. The Calypso stayed quiet and just offered a green glare. We booted and rebooted (or at least attempted to), checked cable connections over and over again, unracked and reracked, and all seemed fine, except we didn't see anything happening on said console.
That is, until I eagle-eyed - after 2 or 3 hours of unsuccessful troubleshooting and both of us contemplating to declare it a DOA, despite all diagnostics giving it a clean bill of health - noticed that a screwdriver (not of the liquid variety) that early in the process had fallen off the top of the rack, had hit the 'Stop' key on the keyboard, which sent a Control-S or X/OFF. The Calypso actually displayed 'STOP' below its function key blocks at the bottom but we had been concentrating on the void in the rest of the display.
We both still bring that up today. Good times.
Aah the joys of HP consoles... I remember turning up for work one day at a major bank, my colleagues panicking because the HP OpenMail server was not pumping into its X400 mta. Quick look at the X400 logs, last entry hours ago. OK, it also logs to the con. Onto the con, nothing. Hit a couple of keys, still nothing. Ctrl-Q whoosh! The dams are open, email flows. Bloody mta, 100% Heisenberg pain in the arse it was.
When model 35 TTY's were used to connect to time sharing mainframes our head secretary got a call from a user. She heard a loud buzzing noise in the background caused by low paper in the TTY so she said press the "buzzer release" button on the far left to stop the noise so they could talk. The buzzing stopped and she asked the user what the problem was. The user sheepishly said, "That was the problem."
One problematic fix i had to do was an older gentleman kept bringing in his laptop complaining that his wi-fi quit working. Turn on laptop, connect to my wi-fi, worked fine every time he brought the laptop in.
Shortly before I retired he had the laptop back in. My wi-fi isn't working, and hasn't worked properly since the last time i saw you.
Again, connected to the wi-fi I used and it worked fine (I had learned to just leave the connection in the list).
Showed him it worked fine and again asked if he had any problems with his other wireless devices.
He said he never had any problems with his phone or tablet, but every time he plugged in the Ethernet cord, his wi-fi quit working on his laptop.
Cue Loony Tunes music and a Yosemite Sam angry face.
I repair computers, home appliances, consumer electronics, and also help out with small healthcare devices. Mobility scooters, powerchairs, heart monitors, TENS, that kind of thing. Recently got a call from a customer saying her Ladyshave had stopped working. "It's worked fine since I bought it two years ago, now it's not cutting!"
Guided her to where the cutter button was, and told her to open it over a bin, and clean the blades. "Ooh, didn't know it needed to be emptied and cleaned!" Same with Hoovers. The amount people drop off to my shop not sucking that just need deep filter cleaning. They empty the cyclone can but forget the filters, and motor filter. They think the detritus just evaporates. Unbelievable. Humans are so cute!
An entire bank of servers has been mislabelled. Nobody knew which was which. Ops were about to fix it, when one server died.
The hot spare was ready, but nobody knew which one to replace. People were talking all kinds of crazy ideas that would take hours to try.
I created an Ansible file with one single command and fed it to the cluster.
CD drives on 83 servers slid open. One didn't open - they replaced that. Job done.
Time to write script and launch: 5 seconds.
Another method: If you have actual servers they all have ILO/iRMC/Whatever, and with such a large number a central management for that. Turn on the blue light for the affected server, and if that doesn't work any more turn it on for all servers. That is OS independent. Your Ansible method is nice if you have the environment, but it shows the lack in a lot of other important things, like the labeling you mentioned.
I hope you did following, in writing: "I just saved the company X admins guessing and trying for two or more hours each by investing one minute, therefore saving the company Y hours of working people. Not taking into account other costs saved by speeding up the processs." you can guess the rest. Advertise your efficiency, and don't forget the recommendations on what to do to avoid future confusion.
There are too many admins out there with no will to optimize and simplify, rather clocking in hours no matter how stupidly.