back to article There are two sides to every story, two ends to every cable

Welcome back to On Call, this week with some pantomime-like japes. 'Tis the season after all. A Register reader called "Geoff" (no, he's not really called that) shared this story of telephone tomfoolery at a certain computing colossus in the mid-1990s. The company in question had an office in the UK city of Portsmouth and …

  1. cheb

    And under the desk no-one can see you unplug if necessary.

    1. tip pc Silver badge

      "And under the desk no-one can see you unplug if necessary."

      yes wasn't plugged in under the desk!!! Will take 20 mins (or however long it takes me to go to the patch room and check/plug that end in to the switch then login to the switch and ensure the port is configured).

      to be fair, in those days it likely was Token Ring so not quite a case of just pushing it in or it accidentally falling out.

      1. Unoriginal Handle

        Obligatory Dilbert . . .

        https://dilbert.com/strip/1996-05-02

        1. MiguelC Silver badge

          I miss that time, when Dilbert was actually funny

          1. Annihilator Silver badge

            Back when the author wasn't on a Pro-Trump/Anti-MSM rant and was sticking up for the little guy getting screwed by corporate America... I notice he's on the "the election was stolen" bandwagon now.

            1. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

              So it is not that Dilbert not funny, is it. It is just that you disagree with their politics?

              It is so lame when people decide that jokes are not funny the moment they are not supporting their politics.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                It's not lame at all - it's often hard to find something funny if you also find it politically distasteful. I'm sure right-wingers would feel the same about some of the comedy I find funny - and there's nothing wrong with that.

                I can't speak for the earlier commenter, but for me it's only partly because the tone of the cartoons has shifted slightly (often putting the nastier edge of his politics up front and centre), but also because the general quality of the strip also seems to have declined - even the apolitical ones don't hit the mark as often. It's all subjective of course, but my enjoyment of his strip has lessened considerably in the last few years.

                I still follow it, but it's no longer an "essential" part of my daily routine.

                1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                  Yes,

                  mostly Dilbert is still Dilbert. But sometimes the cartoon seems to be written to express a particular viewpoint that doesn't actually carry any sensible punchline. It's not that it's right wing that's the problem then. Nor that it's making a point. It's that he seems to be making his point without any joke. It's just Dilbert saying something for him.

              2. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

                Well Dilbert's office does run rather like a Trump administration. Even has the pointy-haired guy in charge.

              3. Stevie Silver badge

                So it is not that Dilbert not funny, is it. It is just that you disagree with their politics?

                It's both.

              4. Annihilator Silver badge

                I didn't equate the two things - I still find Dilbert occasionally amusing, but struggled to read it for a while when he was pushing his blog entries in between each comic, thankfully he seems to have separate the two now and predominantly does vlogs instead.

                It's rather repetitive and derivative these days though. Not surprising though, he's been knocking them out for 30+ years, and doesn't work in the environment that originally inspired it.

                Incidentally, there's a difference between disagreeing with his political views and despairing at his conspiracy theories. I don't really think he's even a republican.

        2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          just flipped through the next half dozen from that one ..

          class!

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Only half a dozen? Any link to an old Dilbert strip is usually good for half an hour.

            1. Shooter

              Nobody said Vogons are speed-readers!

          2. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Flipping through Dilbert....

            I did that also... and came across this: https://dilbert.com/strip/1996-05-20 It would seem the US is currently being run by Dogbert. https://dilbert.com/strip/1996-05-20

        3. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          What does it say that I knew the strip without looking at it?

      2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Token Ring

        ...especially, since the story strongly hints that the organization involved might have been the "King of Token Ring".

        To be fair, those Type 1 connectors were a bit of a PITA.

      3. Mage Silver badge

        CheaperNet Thin coax.

        Companies were ditching coax and Token Ring to have Cat5 with hubs or better was switches.

        We lived in a 3 storey house. All the kids had their own PCs. Loads of PCs. WFWG, DOS, NT3.51.

        The kids learnt to play 'Hunt for the loose BNC plug". Only one PC was an actual bought one (used for Video Editing). Everything else including all the screens was junked stuff from businesses upgrading. We probably had one bought Epson ink jet as well as the 132 column junked DMP, which could do stencils for the junked rotary duplicator. Cheaper than any laser or photocopier to run as long as you needed more than about 20 copies.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Here are some under the desk and other shots from one of my feeds.

      https://www.demilked.com/tech-support-nightmares/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Demilked+%28DeMilked%29

      1. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
        Mushroom

        Re:

        I laughed. I cried. I SMDH-ed.

        Then I realised it could have come from my archives - except the snakes.

        Mine had a friggin' great spider nest et al in it.

        Only way to fix it ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------^^^

      2. Giles C Silver badge

        The worst one I saw once was a 600mm deep patch cabinet where the cables nest finished a metre in front of it... unfortunately I don’t have a picture.

        The worst bit as a network engineer is you complete a patch panel wiring with a neat solution and then you have to go back to the cabinet a month later to find it has been wrecked by some idiots.

        Makes you want to wire the cabinet to a large live mains cable...

  2. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo

    Beware of the desk rabbit

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fe9bBjJx4Lo

  3. tip pc Silver badge

    Idiot Boasting Mob

    fill in your own IBM acronym interpretations below

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Idiot Boasting Mob

      An internal one from one of their re-org periods: I've Been Moved

    2. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Idiot Boasting Mob

      It's Being Mended

      Mainly from the PS/2 days

    3. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Idiot Boasting Mob

      I Be Movin on...

    4. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Idiot Boasting Mob

      I Bribed Management

      Obvs

    5. Admiral Grace Hopper

      Re: Idiot Boasting Mob

      Inefficient But Marketable.

    6. bawbee

      Re: Idiot Boasting Mob

      I've been misled

    7. Admiral Grace Hopper

      Re: Idiot Boasting Mob

      Inert Blue Monolith, according to my colleagues in payroll in the 80s. We used other machines for production.

    8. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Idiot Boasting Mob

      Incredible Bloody Mindedness

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Idiot Boasting Mob

      More recently:

      I've Been Made... redundant

    10. TimMaher Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Idiot Boasting Mob

      “I’m back Monday” and “I bring manuals” were at least two that I encountered in the 80’s.

    11. knottedhandkerchief

      Re: Idiot Boasting Mob

      When I lived in Pompey, it was known as the Institute of Broken Marriages.

    12. Old Used Programmer Silver badge

      Re: Idiot Boasting Mob

      Itty Bitty Monopoly Co.

    13. cob2018

      Re: Idiot Boasting Mob

      What ever happened to "It's Better Manually" ??

    14. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Idiot Boasting Mob

      Infernal Brotherhood of Morons

    15. the Jim bloke Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Idiot Boasting Mob

      It bit me!

    16. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      I've Been Mugged

      A customer might say.

    17. richdin

      Re: Idiot Boasting Mob

      Inshallah Bukra Ma'alish

      Tomorrow Allah willing, there will be something to sell!

      Also - I've Been Married, I've Been Moved, Idiots Become Managers, Itty Bitty Machines and It's Better Manually

  4. Jay 2

    It's not unknown for higher up sales bods not to know things (or basics) about the product they're selling. Many years ago my first job was as a placement student at a well-known company that makes cash machines/PoS/etc. One of my fellow placement students was in sales and told me of a higher salesbod who could quite happily flog loads of computer kit, but using a mouse was a bit beyond him.

    In all fairness he's probably be pitching to other higher ups who also probably couldn't use mice either. All their underlings and sales tech support could work out the detail I'm sure!

    1. Fading
      Paris Hilton

      The above can apply to many sales bods of all levels....

      Knowledge of the product may, in some cases, risk the sale.....

      1. Imhotep Silver badge

        Re: The above can apply to many sales bods of all levels....

        If you don't actually know what it does, it's much easier to tell the customer it will do all those things they want it to do. You might even be right. And if not, that is what support is for: to fix it.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Also in fairness cash machines are usually mouse-free.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sales people

      Went with a bunch of other people from a previous company to a sales pitch meeting with a large client at their London head office. I was there to provide answers about Citrix but didn't get asked anything. The lead sales woman spent some time waxing lyrical about all the wonderful things the network could do (was a while ago so can't remember the exact details). What I do remember is the client paused for a few seconds then turned to face the lead network engineer and said "Can your network really do that?". Brief pause, then "Errr, no".

      Beautiful.

  5. TonyJ Silver badge

    To be fair...

    ...it is not something I'd expect a typical user to have thought to check. And if the clip was broken on the plug, it'd be all to easily pulled out of the socket.

    I once had to install some video conferencing kit at Barclay's in Northampton. I knew next to nothing about the kit but between myself and a guy on our helpdesk who'd at least seen it before we got it all set up. Bear in mind this was the early/mid 90's so it was ISDN based.

    It was very high end for the day as well - the camera tracked the speaker as they moved around etc. and there was even a mini-mixing deck for the audio.

    Anyway, my colleague and I did a handful of test calls each way and all was good. I brought the director in to see and show her it was working and she was happy and signed the work off.

    A few days later, I got a call to say said director had called in a huff to complain it wasn't working and denied ever seeing it thus so I had to drive all the way back to Northampton (about 100 miles or so each way).

    It turned out the ISDN line was shared and also terminated in her office. When she was connected in there, then obviously the line wasn't usable in the meeting room. Always nice to be able to say it's still working when you use it right and you need to get something else sorted.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Recently...

    Had to go in to the office when connectivity failed after some desks have been moved a few feet due to C-19, "but they didn't change anything". They didn't, except for unplugging the LAN cable to the local switch* feeding all 8 desks.

    *Too many desks, too few wall ports after multiple office layout changes. Easiest just to put a local PoE switch in to service the phones and PCs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Recently...

      is that a switch or a hub?

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Recently...

        Can you even buy hubs any more? Let alone a PoE one.

  7. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    My game must be getting old , i didnt see the blindly obvious user error coming .

    I was about to post "dont take error messages at face value" !

  8. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
    Coat

    'Tis the season after all

    Oh no it isn't

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: 'Tis the season after all

      Oh yes it is.

      1. TimMaher Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: 'Tis the season after all

        Behind you!

  9. OGShakes

    Rats!

    I once had a similar issue at a firm with a site based in the countryside, as we knew there were rats/mice there we always asked them to test things by plugging in to a different port to be sure it was a new cable fault. This would be then followed by a call to the exterminator and cable guy to correct the issue. Unfortunately, one sales manager got 'smart' and instead of calling started just swapping peoples ports around then calling us, was just swapping peoples ports with the ports of someone who was not there. This fast ended up with them playing musical ports with anyone who was not in the office and lots of long cables being trailed over the floor. This carried on until someone did a heath and safety audit, then they tried to read us the riot act about the trip hazard...

  10. chivo243 Silver badge
    Windows

    I was close

    I thought we would end up with the UTP cable plugged into another computer, or heaven forbid, back into the same computer with two NICs?

    1. Andytug

      Re: I was close

      That is even more likely where you have the IP phone and PC on the same port, so goes port to phone, phone to PC, 2 patch leads. Twice the chance to do it and have the data go round in circles, presumably!

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: I was close

      Reminds me of the story a friend told, about having to go find out why a whole school had lost it's networking.

      Turned out that someone had decided to be "neat and tidy", by plugging a cat5 that had been dangling from a wall socket, into the socket next to it. The switches didn't have spanning-tree enabled, and swiftly took themselves out, trying to send packets around the loop

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It Goes

    I once asked an engineern to trace a patch to see where it was going, as I suspected he had plugged an isdn card into a network port. After 10 minutes he reported in a very grumpy way "It goes to the wall". Another engineer took him away from my wrath and helped him trace it through two cabinets to a network switch.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It Goes

      Indeed, it goes... On, and on, and on... The head of our data center team insisted from June 10th until yesterday the cable at one of our AIX frames was "firmly plugged, with green lights". He refused to track the patch all the way to the switch. Cue In some irate phone calls until we had enough and dispatched a CE on site. Long story short, he was looking at the wrong expansion drawer, and the card in question was UNPLUGGED.

      I said to my local manager I'd happily exchange my bonus for a round trip air ticket to have the chance to punch the guy in his face.

  12. ColinPa

    Try turning it end to end

    A different type of problem. My grand father was the boss of a construction company, and worked his way up to the board. He was on site and a bright new, straight from university kid was showing off his knowledge, and upsetting the rest of the team. They had a problem. The pump to get the water out of the foundations was not working - or rather the pump was working - but no water came out of the hose pipe. The crew stood and watched the kid fail to get it working.

    My grandfather came on site as part of an inspection, and told him to turn the hose pipe round. The kid said it would make no difference. My grandfather said just do it or get off site. They turned it end to end and lo - it worked.

    The reason was, inside the hose pipe was a liner. If it was old, it tended to come way from the walls. With water flowing one way it just pushed the liner against the walls. If water went the other way the liner acted as a plug.

    When we had a problem with a printer cable - we turned it round and it worked ....

    1. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: Try turning it end to end

      That's often the problem with the wet behind the ears whippersnappers fresh out of education. Lack of experience.

      Seen it enough times with placement students/fresh grads who have all these great (in theory) ideas. Some listen when I tell them "In an ideal world perhaps, but in the real world...", some don't.

      When you add real world constraints (deadlines, budgets, resources, legacy requirements etc) things tend to work out bit different.

    2. wjake

      Re: Try turning it end to end

      "When we had a problem with a printer cable - we turned it round and it worked ...."

      How? Unless it's a network printer.

      USB Printers usually use A to B cables, not reversible.

      Parallel printers usually use DB25 to Centronics cables, not reversible.

      Serial printers (ok, I'm really old!) may have used some combination of DB9, DB25, Male, Female depending on vendor, implementation, etc.

  13. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Devil

    For when diplomacy is required

    That type of fault is described as "insufficient conductivity in interface between network cable and wall socket... by about 2ft"

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pranked 2 people at once though.

    Had an old cable that had been cut, so tied it with a reef knot. Replaced the boss's working cable with the cut one. When he came in, he complained he couldn't log in, and I said the Network guy was the person to ask as he'd been busy cabling. The Network guy rolls up, takes a look and starts laughing. Pulls the cable and shows it to the boss, and I just said "There you go, typical networking job"!

    Fun days!

  15. Karl Vegar

    Been there, done that.

    Although in my case it was a teachers work room, where all network was down after the summer vacation. And half an hours from my office.

    So before I even got into the car I looked up swtich locations for the building, and prepared myself for a round of "trace that port". (I still do not understand why "wallplug - switch" port is never documented anywhere.)

    Got to the teachers workroom, had a little chat with a smug teacher, that happened to be the teacher for one of my kids, and usually an intelligent and technically hands on kind of guy. Traced the cables to the wall to find the wall plug label, only to find that they were all unplugged.

    I'll admit I had to let him know the cables really need both ends plugged in to work properly.

    And then there are the jokers that put a piece of clear tape on the switch end of a cable just for laughs. Took a while to troubleshoot and find.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Been there, done that.

      >>>I still do not understand why "wallplug - switch" port is never documented anywhere.<<<

      Because unless you're the only one who ever touches the patch panel the documentation will be useless in zero time flat.

      If you can stand the cost having wires individually numbered (at both ends!) is a fairly idiot proof method of proving you're still with the same wire you started with when entering the cable pixies playground.

    2. David Woodhead

      Re: Been there, done that.

      And then there are the jokers that put a piece of clear tape on the switch end of a cable just for laughs. Took a while to troubleshoot and find.

      That's a hanging offence, or shooting, or something involving large sticks with nails in the end.

      There is no court in the land which would convict. Enough of us have been there.

      1. Rob Daglish

        Re: Been there, done that.

        More years ago than I care to admit to, I was a bright and shiny newbie on a Novell Network Troubleshooting course. We'd had a week of playing with and examining various types of hardware of all sorts, and over lunch on the last day, our trainer set up a few "issues" for us to solve. Well, I managed to get through most of them fairly quickly, but there was an issue with a PCI SCSI card that I couldn't get to the bottom of easily: the card was detected by the PC, but wouldn't detect any SCSI devices. I'd very carefully checked all the IDs, cable directions, connector pins (they occasionally got bent if someone wasn't careful swapping the cables out) and termination, and even a different PCI slot, but still nothing. I was fairly convinced at this point that it must have been a duff SCSI card kept for just such situations...

        My instructor, however, was trying his best not to laugh at this point, and other people on the course were starting to get interested... the pressure was on, not least because a quick fix meant the early train home. After being assured that it was a perfectly functioning SCSI card with a simply remedied fault, I set about it again, rechecking my work. I pulled the card from the chassis one last time, and looked closely at the contacts - to find that some sellotape over some of the contacts. Somehow, the instructor had found that strategically sized sellotape would mean that the PC detected the card, but the card wouldn't detect any drives. One small piece of sellotape removed later, card reinstalled, and bingo! A fully working server once again, and an early train home. Or it would have been, if it hadn't been cancelled by the pitiful excuse for a railway we suffer from in Northern England...

    3. irrelevant

      Re: Been there, done that.

      UK BT modular plugs, when wired correctly to those older phones with proper bells, have an interesting property in that if you cover just one of the pins with sellotape, they ring fine, but when you lift the handset to answer them....

      ... They carry on ringing..

      Sorry to my Ferranti colleagues, 1982..

  16. Dave Schofield

    Back in the days of coax...

    Or the late 90s. We had a network segment that randomly kept falling off the network for a few seconds at a time. The "fault" was eventually traced to one of the network guys stretching his legs under the desk and moving the cable just enough to break the connection. Then when he sat up straight it started working again.

  17. This is not a drill
    Angel

    IT Guru

    Once had to deal with a PC that wasn't powering up. Luckily the department was fairly friendly and helpful to IT, so when they said they had check plugs and stuff I believed them.

    As I walked up to the desk I could see the problem that no one had spotted. The computer was plugged into the dreaded 4 way extension cable and I could see that the plug for that was not fully in the socket (Thankfully UK plugs have a safetly latching to prevent sparking/discharge). However it was Friday and being in a mischievous mood I thought I'd have some fun.

    I went through the motions of trying the front power switch, checking the power cable at the back of the PC, unplugging and plugging the PC back into the 4way adapter, obviously still nothing, so scratching my head I told the user I couldn't see any obvious issue and I would have to try something unorthodox .

    I sat in front of the PC grasped the case with both hands with my finger on the power button, closed my eyes, started mumbling and rocking back and forth, then surreptitious I pushed the extension cable plug back in with my foot. Miraculous the machine sprung into life, I opened my eyes, got up, gave an enigmatic smile to the user and walked away.

    Mythical IT Guru Level 10 achieved.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: IT Guru

      I pulled something similar on my son, we have a macbook air driving our tv, with blue tooth mouse, keyboard etc... sometimes it is very slow to wake tapping the spacebar. I sneakily picked up the mouse, started chanting while clicking the mouse behind my back, and presto the computer woke! He tried it a few days later with no luck, as he wasn't fiddling with the mouse.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: IT Guru

      I've done similar where as I walk up to the desk I can see the slightly off plug, and as I approach the user I push it in with my foot while asking them to explain the problem - which miraculously no longer exists.

      The more common one is a user has reported some "computer won't work" issue, I sit at the desk, turn everything on, get to the logon screen* and ask: so, what's the problem? And they say: what? how did you do that?

      *or open the printer dialog, or the file-open dialog, or the file manager, or the etc. etc.

    3. knottedhandkerchief

      Re: IT Guru

      My "Dad's Joke" (not IT related) is on the Victoria Line, which usual stops for 30 seconds before the terminating station (perhaps waiting for confirmation/switching of which of the two platforms it could terminate at). Train stops in tunnel, cue get up, and start pushing the stanchion in the middle of the aisle. By time kids have agreed to push, the train moves off - it worked!

  18. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    This is why...

    I really approve of desk columns with network connections mounted just below the power sockets for monitors/laptops.

    Makes this kind of thing so much easier to fault find.

    That is until you need more than 2 ethernet ports... Say for managing 4 switches and 2 routers. Lots of extra cable runs on loose hanging ports. At least the network bods ziptied the cables to the sockets.

  19. mikecoppicegreen

    there is alway's the looped mains lead

    I recall on one occasion going to sort out a "my PC won't power up" issue, where the user had elected to plug the 4 way adaptor back into itself.

    They appeared to think that, as long as it was plugged in somewhere, all would work. Unplugging the adaptor from itself, and then plugging the adaptor into a wall socket magically fixed the problem.

    1. swm Silver badge

      Re: there is alway's the looped mains lead

      It's called "perpetual motion."

  20. Must contain letters
    Coffee/keyboard

    mystery brain fairy

    +1 made my day.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Laziness

    In the eighties I got a call from a software guy working for me at the French site of CERN (North Area) saying that he could not work because his terminal was dead. My obvious question was whether it was plugged in and he assured me it was. Reluctantly, I got a CERN car to go from the Swiss Meyrin site to the North Area to investigate and found the guy in the barracks at ease drinking coffee. I followed the power line under the floor tiles and discovered it was disconnected there because someone had needed a power socket temporarily. So after the fix he had to start working again! The guy was fired a year later for other reasons.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Laziness

      You cant ask a user to diagnose if the end of a power cable is live beyond

      "is it plugged in" which a lot of them seem to struggle with , let alone "is the socket switched on?"

      So - make them do their own diagnosis unwittingly , just sayto them

      "Please swap the power cables for the base (thats hard drive to you) and monitor around

      Half the time the fault will move , indicating no power in one of the leads

      Half the time the fault will disappear becasue the leads are now pushed in properly

      A "fraction to small to measure" amount of the time , nothing will change indicating both leads are out , or the computer is broken.

      1. LeoPukk

        Re: Laziness

        A physics experiment starting up again is rather a frenzy: many people installing equipment in a limited room, in a limited time. In such an environment everybody is expected to be able to act independently and not in need of a babysitter as I, a starting postdoc, had to be then. At least, I expected more from a member of the Computer Department. The Newbury terminal had only one lead, handling floor tiles was a daily routine.

  22. codejunky Silver badge

    Helping an older friend of the older end of my family I went to see if I could help fix his brand new printer. His son who is really good with this stuff had plugged it all in and the printer had power but windows would install the printer but was unable to connect to it. While poking at the windows printer interface and asking about how it was set up he mentioned a spare cable. A USB cable. The USB cable in fact.

    With that it suddenly sprung to life! I have helped a few more older friends of relatives and learned to start hardware first.

    1. Victor Ludorum

      Been there (sort of)

      The number of times I've had to supply a USB A-B cable for a customer who's just bought a new printer that didn't come with a USB cable. Or a CAT5 cable for a 'network' printer that didn't have built in wifi...

      1. A K Stiles
        Facepalm

        Re: Been there (sort of)

        My mother in law - couldn't figure out why her printer no longer worked, until I ascertained that she'd had a problem with her wireless router a few months previously and they'd sent out a new one so the ssid and password were now different... Ah - okay so the printer needs to connect to the new network settings, but the WPS button approach won't work. Right, connect it to the laptop via USB - "where's the lead for the printer?" "What lead?" "It would look a bit like (describe USB A to B lead)" "Oh. all the leads I have are in this drawer" <opens drawer with three wires in it, none are USB A-B> "There should be another one - it came with the printer" (A fact I know to be true as I used it to set the system up originally). "Oh, I must have thrown it out with a bunch of other stuff I wasn't using"...

  23. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Pint

    Well

    given that I live around here and know the general abilities of the locals.... and I know someone who worked the helldesk in that organisation

    I would say that the story is indeed true.

    As is the 'any' key story

    As is the 'coffee cup holder' story

    And the "lights are on, but nothings working' story

    Which also nicely describes some of the locals too

    Beer ... because its friday.....

    1. Nursing A Semi

      Re: Well

      You forgot "please close all open windows." phone clunks onto desk, person walks off to do a round of the office.

  24. Sean o' bhaile na gleann

    I Believe in Magic

    Install Bigger Machine

    1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      It's a Budget Machine

      (as in your whole departments budget....)

  25. Marty McFly Silver badge
    WTF?

    Similar story...

    Back in the day, installing a half dozen or so PCs in a location. Network refused to work on one PC. Round and round with troubleshooting. Made the call back to the HQ to ask for replacement kit. Old guy tells me... "Do exactly what I say. Do not question it. Just do it."

    Yeah, sure, okay.

    "Swap the keyboard between two PCs"

    I did, the network started working. Both keyboards worked fine too.

  26. chivo243 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Nobody likes the Efficient Roadie?

    I had a call to assist some SIPs(self-important people) with a critical issue during an important, hush hush meeting. I was in the room 10 seconds correcting the issue, and my boss at the time got flack because I fixed the issue, and I left without a word due to the nature of their meeting.

  27. DS999 Silver badge

    He forgot to follow up the question

    of whether the cable is connected to "are there blinking lights under/over it?"

    Though to be honest I thought the kicker was going to be that the hardware in question had a serial port with an RJ45 pinout that the network cable had been plugged into. Fortunately I've never seen such a thing in a PC, but it is pretty common in stuff like POS machines.

  28. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Expectations of users

    Users....use the equipment. If you want information from them or actions performed you have to ask very specific questions. Or give very specific instructions. There is no room for assumptions. .

    Is the cable plugged in the back? y/n

    Is there a light where the cable is plugged in? y/n

    Can you see the whole length of the cable? y/n

    Is the far end of the cable plugged in? y/n

    Is there another wall plug the cable can go into.....? If yes, Try the cable in the other plug.....

    Are there any breaks or scrapes along the length of the cable... and do on.

  29. Muscleguy Silver badge

    Hmmm

    MUST a cable have two ends? Magnetic monopoles are possible so surely a mono ended cable has to be possible, theoretically.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      If a cable only has one end, then arguably the actual cable part isn't required at all. You know you can get a cordless mouse with a separate tiny little USB plug... that id where the wire is, for wireless operation.

      I think.

      Or you can just loop the wire round and connect the output signal to the input channel. But you are only talking to yourself then.

  30. imanidiot Silver badge
    Facepalm

    It looked plugged in

    I've had a similar encounter, though in my case if you just peered behind the computer it LOOKED plugged in on that end. After feeling around it turned out it WAS plugged in, but only the plug! The cable itself had mysteriously disconnected from the end and was dangling behind the desk on other cables out of view. Some other cables lined up so that when you peered behind the case to just look, it looked just like the network cable was in place.

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