back to article Two wrongs don't make a right: They make a successful project sign-off

Despite my warnings last week, one of you – yes, you – hexed the New Year. "Oho, it couldn't be as bad as 2020!" you quipped, along with 7.8 billion others as the world spun in its approach to perihelion. Well now look what you've done: barely a week in and we're back in lockdowns, Resyk is overwhelmed, and QAnon has fan- …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "adequate stationary supplies "

    Needed because in a pandemic you have to stay put.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      stationary supplies

      I do hate it when they move around.

      1. Red Ted

        Re: stationary supplies

        Just outside Sawston in South Cambridgeshire are road signs to a "Stationery Factory".

        Ironically it has now moved!

        1. Evil_Goblin

          Re: stationary supplies

          Shirley it would be a problem if it was signposted Stationary rather Stationery? Or I'm I just having a whoosh...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: stationary supplies

        the chaps who manage our corporate laptops and phones and such have one stationary cupboard and one mobile cupboard.

  2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Two wrongs do not make a right: three lefts do

    Out of sticky notes? How will everyone remember their new passwords?

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: Two wrongs do not make a right: three lefts do

      You'd better leave a sticky note on the monitor reminding you to order more sticky notes.

      1. don't you hate it when you lose your account

        Re: Two wrongs do not make a right: three lefts do

        That's what my mate's mum used to do because she was terrified of making right turns :)

        1. Dog11
          Big Brother

          Re: Two wrongs do not make a right: three lefts do

          But 3 rights makes a left. The US's J. Edgar Hoover required his chauffeur to do that. Whle it's tempting to ascribe the habit to his political preferences, it was because they'd once turned left and been hit by another car. (the US reins of power weren't in the hands of the rational 60 years ago, either).

        2. Intractable Potsherd

          Re: Two wrongs do not make a right: three lefts do

          To be honest, dispute being a reasonable good driver, I've started avoiding right-turns in some places if I can. This is because of the number of cyclists dressed in VantaBlack on stealthed bicycles travelling at well above the posted speed limit whilst cutting blind bends. I really don't want the hassle associated with being an agent of Darwin.

          1. Intractable Potsherd

            Re: Two wrongs do not make a right: three lefts do

            My observation stands, regardless of your opinion.

    2. Franco

      Re: Two wrongs do not make a right: three lefts do

      "Out of sticky notes? How will everyone remember their new passwords?"

      Jumping back a few Dabbsy columns, they'll be written on the interactive whiteboard in permanent marker.

  3. DJV Silver badge

    "crowdfunder for a book of T. Rex lyrics"

    As someone whose 16th year coincided with Mr Bolan's heights of popularity, that absolutely cracked me up! Cheers for brightening up my Friday, Mr Dabbs!

  4. Stephen Wilkinson

    I was hoping for some Denim and Leather to go with the potatoes!

    1. Steve Foster

      I thought at first (before spotting the problem) that the potato picture was a topical reference to this story:

      'Human foot' in Gateshead field turns out to be potato

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        And a mushroom growing beside it. They thought it was the corpse of some fun guy.

        Ok, OK.

        1. SuperGeek

          Off to your shroom to calm down young un!

  5. rjsmall

    Talking of getting it wrong

    Track and trace is what Royal Mail does with your post. Test and trace is the one the NHS does.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Talking of getting it wrong

      What was that about 2 wrongs?

      At the moment, I am waiting on...

      1. Track and Trace. Royal Mail to get back to me as to the whereabouts of a tracked item that is showing as being with them.

      2. Test and Trace. NHS to tell me the result of drive-through facility test 1 week ago.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Talking of getting it wrong

        A few weeks ago, I ordered a case of UHT semi-skimmed through Amazon. I'd had it before, and my elderly mum - who it was for - asked me to get her some more.

        I got an email telling me it was due Wednesday. Then one telling me it was due Tuesday, but superseded by another telling me Wednesday again.

        On Wednesday, it was out for delivery 'before 8pm'. Bear in mind Amazon's despatch depot is 30 miles from my front door in the Midlands (UK). By 5pm it hadn't arrived, so I checked the tracking information.

        It was in... Arlesheim, Switzerland (Herne-Börnig there is where the UPS depot is). I guessed it might not arrive on time. It didn't.

        I was obviously worried about the compressions/decompressions on milk cartons. But just to test it further, the package then went to Köln and spent a bit of time there, then it went back to Herne-Börnig (presumably via Arlesheim), then Stanford-le-Hope (on the north bank of The Thames).

        By this time, Amazon - whom I had already complained to - reported that 'it may have been lost' and that I was entitled to a refund. I took that.

        Then I re-ordered from the original supplier. The re-order arrived two days later - by road this time - along with the original. The cartons in the original had mostly leaked, and the box was all wet and disintegrating.

        Sometimes, you couldn't make it up. And I'd love to see the carbon footprint of THAT shipment.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Talking of getting it wrong

          So they still haven't got round to getting "parcel hasn't made the expected move" into the next sprint. However, to be fair to Amazon, they're not alone in the logistics world in collapsing into a heap when something goes akilter.

          Software development is about more than assuming it all goes as intended, especially where the real world is concerned.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Talking of getting it wrong

            True, and to be even more fair to Amazon, UPS admitted THEY made the mistake.

            Apparently it missed its planned connection and ended up going on holiday to Europe. They did apologise profusely.

            It's still a logistics systems issue as you say, though.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Talking of getting it wrong

              Thank goodness for Brexit. They wouldn't be able to do that now. Far too complicated.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Talking of getting it wrong

                Alternatively, it might be able to go - but not get back!

          2. My-Handle

            Re: Talking of getting it wrong

            I find that software development is almost entirely a game of imagining all the bad things that might happen, then making sure they don't.

        2. cookieMonster Silver badge

          Re: Talking of getting it wrong

          you buy milk on amazon????

          fuuuuuuck, I'm so living in the last century, I just get it in a shop.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Talking of getting it wrong

            We're in lockdown - and certainly we have been several times.

            My old mum only drinks UHT semi-skimmed, and buying it in-store is currently problematic in that a) it gets panic-bought, b) they don't always have it, and c) I am my parents' 'carer' and part of their bubble, which means me going out and buying puts them at risk. Both are in the 'at extreme risk' category.

            Outside of COVID times, I buy it in the shop like everyone else. I actually have it delivered several times a week by the milkman - but that's fresh milk.

            Right now, there is method in my apparent madness.

            I've upvoted you because I know you didn't see why I am currently doing it this way :-)

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Talking of getting it wrong

          I was once waiting for a consignment to be delivered to Fife. It was a tower system for delivering training media on CD (was a few years back). It would either be one huge tower loaded with drives, or two smaller towers, one of which contained the SCSI controller. At just before knock off at 5pm, the courier arrived. Looking at the box I could see it was the small tower system, but there was only one box. I was at least hoping it would be the tower with the controller so I could configure it, but of course it wasn't. Rang the office to find out what the score was. After about 45 minutes of them chasing the courier they rang back to tell me the other half was in Southampton. Not sure how they managed this when both boxes were collected from the same location.

        4. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Talking of getting it wrong

          I've you haven't already done so, you'll now discover that because Amazon doesn't allow food items to be returned, there is no possible way to report them damaged on arrival. I get apple juice from them on a monthly order and when one lot turned up with two bust cartons I just had to grin and bear it.

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Talking of getting it wrong

        2. Is probably in the post.

      3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Talking of getting it wrong

        I had a "Royal Mail 48™" package (note 48™ not 48HR) sent to me at the end of November. RM's tracking sat at "with sender" when we all know full well it was in the middle of a heap somewhere in a sorting office. It turned up 15 days later, so circa 360 hours, not 48...

        It's entirely possible that RM's track and trace is being run into the grounds by exactly the same bunch of profit-extracting tory wankpuffins as "test and trace".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Talking of getting it wrong

      An item coming from Hong Kong has taken a tracked slow boat - but finally synchronised with its allocated Royal Mail tracking code. It has now apparently been with UK Customs "for assessment" for 11 days.

      I can't decide if the £5 worth of ICs in a small bag has dropped down a crack - or is a random check "strip search" - or is still part of a container load - or whether HMRC are too busy with Brexit EU customs form checking.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Talking of getting it wrong

        I buy a lot of stuff from China, and my personal impression during last year was they they had become very, VERY keen on imposing charges on smaller items.

        Oddly enough, though, the one item I bought which I was expecting to get stung for - a OnePlus 8 Pro flagship in a configuration that wasn't available here - came through with nothing on it last November.

  6. not.known@this.address

    Grauniad fluffed it again.

    Has nobody else spotted that the Tripod's legs come from the bottom truncated cone-shaped part of the machine while the strange thing at the front is coming from a hole on the bottom of the saucer section? I wonder if there was supposed to be a hand or grab at the end of an arm that has been hidden behind the Invisible Man's coat?

    Or, since there is a definite grab at the end of the tentacle emerging from the bottom of the Tripod, maybe the fourth "leg" is an access slide to keep baby Martians amused while mom and pop get on with the serious business of catching cold and killing themselves off in a spectacular demonstration of interplanetary suicidal stupidity?

    1. ibmalone

      Re: Grauniad fluffed it again.

      "the serious business of catching cold and killing themselves off in a spectacular demonstration of interplanetary suicidal stupidity?"

      Sadly we can no longer look down on the Martians for this.

      1. Robert D Bank

        Re: Grauniad fluffed it again.

        they have learned well from the Covid-idiots on Earth

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Grauniad fluffed it again.

      I wondered about this but am not convinced. From time to time, someone claims the tripod depicted on the album cover of Jeff Wayne's WOTW has four legs until it's pointed out to them that what might look like a front leg is the "heat ray".

    3. Cuddles

      Re: Grauniad fluffed it again.

      "Has nobody else spotted that the Tripod's legs come from the bottom truncated cone-shaped part of the machine while the strange thing at the front is coming from a hole on the bottom of the saucer section?"

      No it isn't, it's exactly the same as the other three legs, the first articulated part just happens to be mostly in front of the body at the angle it's viewed (well, drawn) from.

      1. A. Coatsworth Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Grauniad fluffed it again.

        I thought the same as user not.known, but it is because the angle and lightning in the Grauniad's photo are very bad. It really looks like the 4th leg comes from the top of the machine... looking at additional photos on the web, it is clearer that it is in fact a tetrapod.

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Grauniad fluffed it again.

          Are these photos or is it rendered?

          I'm not alone evidently in suspecting that DC Comics' villain "Gentleman Ghost" has got involved. He being (usually) a dead dandy highwayman with no visible head but a visible monocle and top hat, you are correct in inferring that it's a... bother to pull this off in action figure modelling. Usually they give him an extremely high coat collar, and the hat is stuck to that, and the monocle to the front of the hat. He actually can be entirely invisible, and keeps his face invisible because he died about 200 years ago (give or take several history rewrites) and he isn't looking his best.

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Grauniad fluffed it again.

          looking at additional photos on the web, it is clearer that it is in fact a tetrapod.

          Damn you. Now I've got to wondering why we usually say quadroped from the Latin root, rather than tetrapod from the Greek, and why we don't say triped rather than tripod. For that matter, why do we say octopus and not octopod, and gastropod not gastropus. Anyone?

    4. Paul Kinsler

      Re: four legged tripod

      Well, if Lowry was allowed to paint a five legged dog...

      1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

        Re: four legged tripod


        It starts that b*st*rd earworm of an alleged song again. If I concentrate really hard I can substitute a hippy-trippy option**.

        * Yes, I've read Maskerade.

        ** Apologies for the number one presenter.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: four legged tripod

          Is that the one that goes "Matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs, He painted kids on the corner of the street that were sparking clogs"? Or some other one?

          Yes thanks, I already got it, I'll run along now ----------------------->

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: four legged tripod

        Didn't David Dimbleby get a tattoo of six-legged scorpion a few years back?

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: four legged tripod

          Didn't David Dimbleby get a tattoo of six-legged scorpion a few years back?

          To be fair, it's easier to find an 8-legged scorpion and pull two legs off than to find a 4-legged dog and make it grow an extra leg (no smutty responses please!).

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: four legged tripod

        Who says all 5 were legs?

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: four legged tripod

          If you call a dog's tail a leg, then how many legs?

          I assume that's what you meant!

  7. macjules

    Gerard Butler in a Jamiroquai buffalo hat.

    You owe me a new keyboard Mr Dabbs.

  8. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "circus act"

    Ah, yes, that's why we use the phrase "Not my Monkey, Not my Circus!" often in our office. Many thanks for the clarification!

    1. Mr Dogshit

      Re: "circus act"

      No, it's Polish, and the expression is "Not my circus, not my monkeys"

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: "Not my Monkey, Not my Circus!"

        This is an example of Reverse Polish notation.

        Your post fixed it...

        ---->>> Coat Going

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: "Not my Monkey, Not my Circus!"

 the entire audience groans! Run Ken, run like the wind!

  9. Chris G

    Verbal heiroglyphics

    I once had a report land on my desk refarding an important piece of machinery, ' extreme flange pressure on the cremknacker coils was causing void spring failure'.

    I knew it was BS, because we had stopped using cremknacker coils years before, we had replaced them all with toe joint spirals.

    Though I liked the H.G.Wells mural, Darwin did live in the bourough at Downe House, Downe village. I used to rent a part of Downe Bank as horse pasture, one of the places that helped to inspire Darwin's theory due to some of the plants there being unique to that spot. IIRC one of the plants was a tiny orchid.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Verbal heiroglyphics

      Sadly, though fortunately too late to upset Mr Darwin, Chris G's horse ate the tiny orchid.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Verbal heiroglyphics

      "one of the places that helped to inspire Darwin's theory"

      Also, I think, the inspiration for his work on the significance of earthworms.

    3. Flightmode

      Re: Verbal heiroglyphics

      Isn't it time we all watched the Turboencabulator presentation again? It's been a while.

  10. Mr Dogshit

    the MCAS on a Boeing 737 Max

    I read that as "the MCSA on a Boeing 737 Max"

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: the MCAS on a Boeing 737 Max

      No reason to drag Borkzilla into this, Boeing screwed up royally all on its own.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At a company I used to work for, we had a very old filling machine for sterile ampoules. It consisted of a rotating turret, and at various points the ampoules were successively filled, flame-sealed, and ejected.

    The company was as tight as a duck's arse and wouldn't pay for servicing by manufacturers of equipment. It did it all in-house.

    The machine turret was mounted on a large brass bush (bearing). It was so old and worn that the departmental engineer regularly had to insert shims to reduce the rocking and jamming problems. It produced rejects by the skip load.

    In an attempt to sort out the problems once and for all, I suggested either a full manufacturer service, or buying a proper replacement bush from the manufacturer. I was viciously shouted down by both middle and senior management for daring to suggest that, as it was 'too expensive'. Instead, the department engineer took the bush out and - in the absence of any proper drawings, since they also cost money - had the local fab shop turn one up based on the original.

    It was a bearing, and it needed to be very precise. But what we got back was a direct copy of the old worn one, with a bit added on.


    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      'too expensive'

      And, of course, the skip loads of rejects weren't.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You probably won't be surprised to hear that that was EXACTLY how they thought.

        In another department, a continuous candy cooker running at 1,300kg an hour would sometimes produce up to 100% rejects for an entire product run (the candy was medicinal and had active ingredients added).

        No problem, because they could be reworked at up to 10% - by milling and storing them, then adding them at cooking time by adjusting the concentration of the active ingredients. No worries that the orders were now late, or that there had been costs involved making the rejects. Or that there were about 30 variants which couldn't be mixed.

        By storing them, they hadn't been 'written off' and so no money had been lost!

        The logistics of having to deal with that when I first took over managing that department were the stuff of nightmares.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          " there had been costs involved making the rejects."

          But there were no costs with milling and storage, of course.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            No. And believe it or not, at the start we had over 200 TONNES stashed all over the factory - which at that time was largely unused.

            All in 25kg boxes. Each with a 1kg bag of silica gel to stop it getting sticky.

            Even better, being unused, there were open/broken windows, which allowed pigeons access on occasion. Pigeon poop over some of the boxes from time to time, and even the occasional dead pigeon that couldn't get out again.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      I wonder if this is an English disease, or more general round the world. It's a story, in various versions, I've met before many times. Companies that would rather waste significant amounts of cash in lost production than invest in new machinery. Sometimes it comes coupled with manufacturers trying to bullshit clients that substandard production meets spec.

      My late father, a manager in the rag trade, went through a couple of these. In one he spent more time keeping ageing sewing machines working than he did managing his factory. In another he was i/c quality control. A significant amount of stuff was substandard due to machines been worn and out of alignment. Dad would remove these items from dispatch, knowing that the client (M&S) would reject the entire batch otherwise. The directors would then put the stuff back in the dispatch and send it off to M&S.

      Who sent it back, of course. And his bosses would go blazing mad, raging against M&S, the staff, dad's manager ( and I'm guessing dad himself, though he never mentioned that) but never accepting responsibility. They lost that contract of course- and it was their main one because it had been very lucrative so they'd taken on more and more work and lost smaller clients by not bothering with them. So they went bust.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It's certainly what used to be a very English ailment.

        The company I'm referring to was (and still is, in part) multi-national. Used to be FTSE 100, too, until it withdrew. At one point, it had factories in the US, Europe, and the Far East.

        Essentially, it had a retail and manufacturing division, though it was more complex than that. Retail - which is pretty much all it is now, which explains much of what I have said - was always the Blue-eyed Boy as far as Group was concerned. Manufacturing was, once certain patents expired and another high-profile development failed with the FDA, always running at a loss. There was minimal investment, and listed buildings built in the 1930s and 40s were only slightly older than much of the equipment.

        Various takeovers/sell-outs/etc. have resulted in Retail being all that's left.

        Don't get me started on contracts. If you can't do what is required, you shouldn't tender. The company I was with did, won (because of the name), and then immediately couldn't supply. It was embarrassing.

        The real problem was that the people at the top believed we could.

        I'm sure the same thing has happened to many companies in the same time period.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          The factories I knew, or knew of ( often through dad) were all small - up to 1 or 200 staff.

          A consistent thread is that the owners were second or third generation family, with almost all the equipment and the reputation having been built up by the previous gens. Speaking to them and hearing them it was pretty clear that they thought that a) their grandparents' business sense was hereditary,so they had massive over confidence in their abilities and didn't need to take any notice of the managers who were meant to be running the place for them, and b) the business owed them a living but they didn't owe it any investment ( or effort). They saw their factories like an old cow that would keep giving milk.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Nail on the head.

            Over-confidence. Also known as 'pride' or 'arrogance'.

            The company I was with couldn't see how each screw up chipped away at that name. More than one client commented at our reputation when they complained about service.

        2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          "Don't get me started on contracts. If you can't do what is required, you shouldn't tender."

          But, but, how will I get my £20million fee for arranging PPE for the NHS as a specialist in Jewellery design, if I have to be competent before I tender for thew work? This would be the end of entrepreneurship for classics and PPE graduates who really really know they can do whatever they like, because, well, you know a public school education gives one such confidence, and an obligation to run things because 'the little people' have not had the benefit of a proper education or upbringing. (Or something like that.)

          1. Mooseman Silver badge

            "But, but, how will I get my £20million fee for arranging PPE for the NHS as a specialist in Jewellery design, if I have to be competent before I tender for thew work?"

            Be a "mate" of a cabinet minister. Or just run a bar one of them used to go to.

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Neighbour of a wife's friend will do the trick too.

      2. DWRandolph

        Either some other departments budget, or playing EBITR games with CAP vs OP expenses? So many stupid accounting games for this divisions this quarters numbers, instead of the Total Cost. ~sigh~

      3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        In my youth I worked for a well-known public broadcster. At the time, news images were on 16mm film, with the sound recorded on a magnetic track using a separate amplifier box.

        One of my first jobs was to repair one of these amplifier boxes: a reporter in Beirut had left it perched on top of a wall he was hiding behind, and a grenade had filled it with shrapnel, which had done the circuit boards inside no good at all.

        But while replacing this box would have been the cheaper and far more logical thing to do, muggins here had to fix it because that way the cost came out of the running budget and not the capital plant budget...

      4. Chris G

        @Terry 6

        If it is an English disease they have definitely exported it to Spain, I have seen all kinds of equipment patched with chewing gum, string or anything else that was handy just to keep it going that little bit longer.

        A carpentry company I worked with had a huge bandsaw I was convinced originally had a steam engine powering it. The boss Pepe, was in the market for a new one but explained he wanted to sell the old one first. The price he was asking was about two thirds the price of a shiny new one with lower running costs, more functions etc, he had had the price on the old one for several years and preferred to patch it up rather than drop the price, buy a new one and increase productivity.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I wonder if this is an English disease

        On a visit to Germany a few years ago, over beers, one of the locals was talking about the much delayed Berlin Brandenburg Airport, and how embarrassing all the problems and delays were for them. I suggested that the project must be under the direction of someone trained in England

    3. Gene Cash Silver badge

      > At a company I used to work for

      This sounds like exactly the plot of the 3 or 4 books I have discussing the downfall of the British motorcycle industry. I believe at one point, one of the engine manufacturers had a guy with a special stick pushing on the lathe so it would machine proper crankshafts.

      Along came the Japanese who ate their lunch.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        As I mentioned a few days ago, we had machines that used to 'trip' on a regular basis. Only the official 'electrical' engineers had a '69' key to open the panel and reset the standard circuit breaker. What was inside the machine at the time was both very expensive (medicines) and time sensitive (it was a wet-granulation process). But instead of those engineers being stood at your side, they spent 80% of their day outside on 'cigarette breaks' where they couldn't be located or on 'other jobs' that were 'more urgent'.

        And they were unionised, so questioning them was a major problem.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And get this one.

        I was asked to look into overtime payments, which were considered 'excessive'. I discovered an engineer whose basic salary was £18,000, but who had cleared over £40,000 for two years running.

        When I looked into it further, there was a pattern. They took it in turns to do the overtime. And in one definite (based on information received) case they had broken a machine on purpose (or reported it broken) so they could fix it on overtime. On another occasion, when asked to fix a machine with a simple fault, they deliberately (also based on information received) made it worse, to get overtime.

        But I was prohibited from sacking his ass immediately because of 'the union' (a bit more to it than that, of course, with employment law and all that, but that was the upshot). He also happened to be the most belligerent git imaginable (another benefit of union membership), but his skills were 'valued' in the absence of anything else.

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          And b r e a t h e

          I had a gas boiler in the flat I bought, with a well-known company's service agreement (paid monthly instalments). Anyway, we have 'aggressive' water here, so the boiler, early one November decided to shut down, pretty much permanently. I called out the service agreement. Here follows a much abbreviated synopsis:

          Engineer visit arranged - engineer takes one look a the boiler (which I had described when booking the visit) "I don't know anything about them." Pause. Me - "Well you'd better go , then." Unhappy engineer departs.

          Next week, Wednesday evening awaiting engineer, I phone up to check on what is happening as we had confirmed the visit on Monday: "Oh, we've re-scheduled for Thursday evening" (without telling me).

          Next visit. Different engineer - Cleans a pipe. After engineer departs - No improvement.

          Next visit - replacement circuit board required.

          Next visit - wrong replacement circuit board (5 connections instead of 3).

          Next visit - circuit board installed, boiler, seems ok.

          Next week - boiler fails.

          Next engineer - "Oh, the circuit board fitted had a capacitor in the link to the fan. The fan also had a capacitor, hence the fan broke. You need a new circuit board, and a new fan"

          Next visit - replacement circuit board and new fan fitted.

          Next week, boiler fails again.

          Next visit - Saturday morning - Three (yes 3) engineers in my kitchen 'fixing' the boiler with replacement pressure vessel, cleaning pipes, new circuit board and fan. Me "I'm happy to BUY A NEW BOILER if this one is too old". Them "no, we can fix it".

          Next week, boiler still not working.

          We are now in January. I am tired of having to boil 9 kettles full of water to have bath (I was in training for a marathon and frankly after a 20 mile training run I need a bath), tired of no central heating (it was not like I ever 'scored' every week, but you cannot ask someone round if there's no hot water and no heating).

          I eventually cancel the service agreement, buy a new boiler (which works) and sue said 'service provider' for the distress and inconvenience.

          Looking back I am certain that the 'engineers' knew the boiler was past it's life and just wanted the overtime payments in the run up to Christmas, they were always so pleased to visit me. (I guess I am a mug.)

          Happy New Year everyone!

          1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: And b r e a t h e

            Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do...

            1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

              Re: And b r e a t h e

              Upvoted for the reference to Flanders and Swann ("The Gas Man Cometh").

              Sulk because you got more upvotes than my original post :o(

          2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

            Re: And b r e a t h e

            @Eclectic Man

            That is the root of all the problems - Eclectic"Electric Man" would have been all "Electric"!

            (Though I'd steer clear of Economy 7)

      3. Mooseman Silver badge

        "one of the engine manufacturers had a guy with a special stick pushing on the lathe so it would machine proper crankshafts."

        That's why you could always spot a British motorbike parked up in a row of bikes - the Japanese ones sat there rather boringly while the British (world-beating probably) had a large puddle of oil underneath it.

    4. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Is this one of the reasons why certain vaccines of current interest are taking longer to be available than we'd like?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well, it's certainly one of the possible cogs in the mechanism.

        If the company I am referring to had been involved (and it isn't) there would definitely have been a lot of rejects, and plenty of sub-standard 'good' stuff (sunken tops, if it involved ampoules, and incompletely capped vials, if it was those).

        In the UK, the ability of the supply system to handle ultra-cold shipments is a major factor. At least one shipment of the Pfizer vaccine - sent to a GP surgery in Macclesfield - was lost due to 'refrigeration issues'. And I have it - on hearsay, admittedly - that the same has happened to at least one more shipment elsewhere.

        The hospital trust involved said they would 'correct the issue' and reschedule appointments that had had to be cancelled. How? Vaccine in short supply is irretrievably lost? How do you fix that?

        And what about the extra time those who've had appointments cancelled will now be at risk of becoming infected?

        The thinking is all wrong.

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Accidents happen. Sometimes expensive ones. And I don't think they're claiming that a delay in vaccination can be undone.

          I hope that there isn't too much time lost by people attending the appointments which were cancelled. Apart from key health workers, the people currently being vaccinated don't have much on, being elderly or poorly.

          I expect the vaccination site would like to have a surplus supply on site to avoid cancels, But as you say, it's a limited quantity available..

  12. Flightmode

    "Where once managing IT at senior level was all about putting out fires, it's now a role that rewards career pyromaniacs."

    You, sir, owe me one cheap but clicky mechanical keyboard.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Four baking potatoes

    Five potatoes in a pack labelled 4 potatoes is clearly a consequence of Brexit.

    Before Brexit, low paid but otherwise well-educated Europeans would come over at harvest time to assist our farmers. Not only could they pick potatoes but they could count as well.

    Post Brexit, the pickers are the UK's finest, home-grown seasonal labour. Last Autumn they were picking potatoes; right now they are being trained to give vaccine jabs.

    1. TomPhan

      Re: Four baking potatoes

      It's four potatoes and a Brexit bonus potato.

      1. Irony Deficient

        Re: Four baking potatoes

        It’s a potato baker’s tetrad.

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: Four baking potatoes

          Tsk, and Fie! and shame on you!. Clearly FOUR of the potatoes are for baking and the other one* is for chips.

          *Identifying 'the other one' is an exercise to the reader / purchaser.

  14. Dr_N

    the interface flange


  15. aje21

    Just for reference, it's not a tripod

    If you go to the Royal Mint website he says:

    The characters in War of the Worlds have been depicted many times, and I wanted to create something original and contemporary. My design takes inspiration from a variety of machines featured in the book - including tripods and the handling machines which have five jointed legs and multiple appendages.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Just for reference, it's not a tripod

      And how many people believe that excuse?

      .. But there can be no excuse for the invisible man hat screw up.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Just for reference, it's not a tripod

        Or the misquote. But they have previous.

    2. TomPhan

      Re: Just for reference, it's not a tripod

      "Multiple stories" = two

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Just for reference, it's not a tripod

      So not only can the crayon dept. count, it can calculate averages.

    4. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Just for reference, it's not a tripod

      And taking inspiration from the author's name, the coin will be commemorating the works of GH Bells.

  16. GBE

    Damn, I must be getting old.

    Two paragraphs in, and I've already had to google three things...

  17. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Zeros and Heroes

    I have to confess I have never known what the rules are for the pluralizationalism (*) of words ending in "o".

    (*) Have at it you Grammar Nazis of the Commentariat - It's my wilfully given gift for 2021.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Zeros and Heroes

      I was going to say that Zeros was a very dry Linux distro but it turns out there really is a ZerOS.

    2. Irony Deficient

      Re: Zeros and Heroes

      surch enjin sez:

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "[...] celebrating the literary works of HG Wells that depicts a four-legged tripod."

    There is a quote round the coin edge which apparently comes from some fairly obscure Wells text. It says "Good books are warehouses of ideas." - except apparently the original is "... ideals" and is said by a character who believes ideals are dispensable.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Someone once made an an apocryphal observation about a company board approving financial outlays. Several multi-million pound ones get ticked off quickly. The next is a new bike shed for the workers. This takes a much longer discussion because everyone present knows what a bike shed is.

    1. genghis_uk

      Getting £1M signed off is easy as, at the management level required, they assume a lot of checks have been carried out first.

      Trying to get £20k signed off is practically impossible because everyone feels they can question to the n'th degree.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      The legend was that a QUB prof of Botany tried for ages to get a minibus for field trips. Eventually he took advantage of the name of the VW Microbus and slipped it with a lot of other micro stuff. Legendary is far as I'm concerned because the other half of the legend is that it was written off when somebody took a right turn too quick. When I got there all we had was a battered mini which got a few of the sump fins ground off by being driven up mountains.

      1. Spanners Silver badge

        @Doctor Syntax

        That reminds me of a story from my science teacher father in law.

        They needed a kettle for the science lab but the only way they could get it through the system was by listing it as a "steam generator"!

    3. herman Silver badge

      "This takes a much longer discussion because everyone present knows what a bike shed is." - If only it was apocryphal - I have experienced it so many times...

    4. Krassi

      law of triviality

      "Someone once made an an apocryphal observation...."

      This was originally by the master himself: the "law of triviality" in the chapter "high finance " in Parkinson's Law . Actually, it is the supply of tea coffee and biscuits that sparks more discussion than needed for approving a nuclear power plant or the staff bike shed.

      "All management science (? ) is a series of footnotes to Parkinson. "

    5. Terry 6 Silver badge

      It's from Parkinson's Law. Not the famous one about work expanding to fit the time available, but another, later one. I can't remember now whether it was in a book he wrote or another essay. About the efficiency of committees. He says that they will rush through a major decision like building a new power station then spend hours on something they can understand, like a new bike shed.

  20. genghis_uk

    Labels and LEDs

    I must have spent at least 2 years of my life in meetings discussing labels and LEDs (or rather flash patterns of LEDs) - Management feel they can add value so nothing gets decided.

  21. lglethal Silver badge

    Wisdom for the age...

    Two wrongs don't make a right, but make enough wrongs and you'll be promoted right to upper management!

  22. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    H.G. Wells in Woking

    Unlike Bromley, Woking has no problem in remembering one of their residents...

    H.G. Wells Statue

    Michael Condron's sculpture of a Wellsian Tripod

    note: 3 legs!

    House, No. 141 Maybury Road

    May be visible from the adjacent London-Woking railway line

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: H.G. Wells in Woking

      The usual suspects are agitating to have that statue removed, because Wells is racism personified now.

      1. Mooseman Silver badge

        Re: H.G. Wells in Woking

        "The usual suspects are agitating to have that statue removed, because Wells is racism personified now."

        Unfortunately some people see racism anywhere they look. However this doesn't mean that there are not genuine cases (such as Colston).

  23. Anonymous Coward


    "What were the chances? A million to one, you said?"

    As Sir Terry Pratchett reminds us: "Million-to-one chances...crop up nine times out of ten.”

    All plans should take as a given.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Damn I'm boring

    I've spent quite a while researching what IPSEC and OpenVPN parameters to use for about 90 site to site links and around 2000 road warriors.


    P1: AES128-GCM for the algo, AES-XCBC for hash, Diffie Hellman Group 31 (Dan's Curve 25519)

    P2: same as P1

    If you use a PSK then it should be stupidly long and randomly generated eg by Keepass or sha256sum or whatever. AES256 might be indicated in some environments (eg US DHS) but it will impose some sort of performance penalty.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't throw out the baby yet!

    Just want to make the observation that all those horrible goofs that Dabbs points out were consequences of *2020*, the old year. That some may have been revealed in 2021 should not be held against the new baby year....

  26. martinusher Silver badge

    Can't be that bad? Really?

    Being a 'merkan we've got our own problems but having got relatives in the UK I do hear a bit about life there. He's a couple of excerpts from emails I got from two of them just yesterday.....

    "Another little story to cheer your heart. We have well over 80,000 retired doctors and nurses who have volunteered to give the vaccine. Step 1: they

    must have a DBS security check - no acceleration - 6 - 8 weeks. Step 2:they must undertake a 21 modular virtual training programme\; Diversity,

    Terroism, Security, Human Rights, Gender equity and equality etc etc Only 3 of these modules have anything to do with vaccinations, giving the vaccine,

    infection prevention and PPE. Step 3: they need their HIgh School Certificate. No not their medical qualifications, their high school. We

    are 70 years old, highly qualified professionals - how many of us have kept these? We have gone bureaucratically crazy. Each module represents a mid

    level management department within the NHS. When I hear these things I despair."

    "Here, we have a target, set by the politicians, to carry out thirteen million vaccinations in the next four to five weeks. It is not a joke. Round here, the fact that there might be a vaccination seems to have recently surprised the local medics, despite the fact there has been talk of nothing else for the last six months and the first actual jab was carried out five weeks ago. The state of play is that they have identified a “suitable” venue and “hope” to start a programme “sometime next week.” The only suitable venue available to the inhabitants of the whole area, from Bognor through to the Hampshire border is apparently, in Selsey. Selsey is a nondescript sort of place known mainly for being almost impossible to get to – or from. I presume it is where the boss of the body that is disorganising this is based. For some reason, places like the Chichester Leisure Centre, the assembly halls at the university and the dozens of empty school halls littering the area, along with village halls, scout halls, etc., etc., are all unsuitable. But they are “hoping” to have a “more central” second centre available in “the coming weeks.” (Everything in parenthesis is a quote.) And, of course, 90% of the jabs will be the Oxford/AZ version which is no more difficult to administer that the annual flu jab. At least some of the training might be axed. The Minister stood up in Parliament on Wednesday and said “I accept that anti-radicalisation training is not strictly necessary for the administration of a vaccine.” Could anyone have foreseen, ever, a UK Minister, standing up in Parliament and actually saying those words? Does no one think it is mad?"

    What's a pseudo-coup (more a "Beer Hall Putsch" without the beer) compared to this? I can see why people are taking refuge in "its all just a conspiracy".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can't be that bad? Really?

      There's a bit more to that stuff you received about our UK push.

      The government has targeted 14 million vaccinations by the end of January. As of 8 January, they have delivered 1.11 million, having commenced vaccinations on 8 December.

      My parents are over 80 and in the bracket for vaccination imminently. We have been told to 'wait for the letter of invitation', and 'do not phone the NHS or your GP to ask'.

      Then, someone sent me a link to Swiftqueue, an online healthcare platform working with the NHS.

      I have got them booked in for their jabs next week, with the booster date already booked for March (though that may change once the 21-day-no-3-month-no-21-day-after-all conga dance is sorted).

      Swiftqueue lists four local vaccination hubs - all of which are not the ones the media keeps going on about. One of them had vacant slots at from 6.15pm today when I checked at 6pm! So those slots have gone. Another has dozens of slots from Monday.

      And yet no one has been told of these places. It's word of mouth.

      That information you were given can be seen here:

      And then we have people defending this purely on the strength of the fact we 'beat' the French and started vaccinations before they did! It's too much of a game for some people.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can't be that bad? Really?

        Sorry, that date should be 'as of 3 January' - not the 8th.

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Can't be that bad? Really?

      “Did you see the list of things you have to do to volunteer to help the inoculation programme? To impose it on people who are just sticking a needle in an arm is bonkers.” Sir John Bell, regius chair of medicine at the University of Oxford

      Elderly couple get first dose of Covid vaccine from household doctor...

    3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Can't be that bad? Really?

      It could be cockup but I think these are all steps required before someone is let into a hospital in a white cost with Doctor printed on it. So that people like me with none of the qualifications don't do it for a prank. Look, it was just once, and almost no one died.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can't be that bad? Really?

      Far be it from me to accuse your UK relatives of making stuff up, but the "High School Certificate" doesn't exist in the UK.

    5. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Can't be that bad? Really?

      I'm in my 50s and I *still* get asked for my GCSEs.

      I tell 'em I haven't got any, but I've got a dozen 'O' levels that I might be able to remember.

    6. David Hicklin Bronze badge

      Re: Can't be that bad? Really?

      I'm really getting fed up with these electioneering moonshot soundbites from the government - promise the moon and deliver McDonald's just around the corner.

  27. Lucy in the Sky (with Diamonds)

    Two Wrights Make an Airplane...

    The sort of people who would depict a tripod with four legs are the very same people who would use the word “decimate” to indicate total destruction, instead of “decrease by ten percent”, which is the actual meaning. On the plus side, when I hear a story about a population being decimated, I sigh in relief, that at least 90% of them is okay. See, I feel optimistic about other people’s ignorance of the meaning of words and assume the best.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Two Wrights Make an Airplane...

      Decimate - As frequently actioned by IBM Management on the workforce

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: Two Wrights Make an Airplane...

        Isn't the IBM version "Get rid of anyone over the age of 10"?

  28. Caver_Dave Silver badge

    Followed the link

    I followed the link "total cost of poor software quality".

    It offered "the complimentary report".

    I bet that it's not complimentary!

  29. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Mea Culpa

    I apologise to the entire el Reg community for wishing my friends* a better 20201 than 2020.

    It is my fault that 2021 has started out so badly, and I am deeply ashamed of myself for entertaining the idea, and that my callous disregard for the jinxing of the New Year has caused and will continue to cause severe distress to the entire population of the world. Were it not for me, man-made global warning would be completely nullified, Brexit would be a success, racism, bigotry and prejudice of all kinds would disappear, and everyone would be happy, smiling and successful. There would be no disease, pain, crime, or failure by anyone to achieve their full potential in 2021.

    I just hope that in the fullness of time you can forgive me.

    I hang my head in shame.

    * Yes, all three of them.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: Mea Culpa

      OK, so obviously I meant "a better 2021", rather than "a better 20201".

      1. khjohansen

        Re: Mea Culpa

        Well, the typo is somehow appropriate!

  30. Potemkine! Silver badge

    "Honesty pays" - Yeah, right

    That's how Trump or Johnson got their today's job. And many others.

    The more crooked you are, the more successful you'll be, just learn to lie again and again. Truth is out there - probably on another planet.

  31. Janis1207

    "Besides, after being told to draw a tripod from HG Wells' War of the Worlds, an artist who holds up three fingers and sees four possibly read George Orwell by mistake."

    Now that was a true Carrot statement. Innocent as all hell, but one can read it isn several ways :)


POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like