back to article Forget GameStop: Keyboard warriors and electronic trading have never mixed well

This week's Who, Me? is dedicated to that moment when you realise you're about to do something silly but are unable to stop yourself. The year was 1986. Halley's Comet had graced the skies (and the European Space Agency's Giotto probe had taken a close look). "West End Girls" by The Pet Shop Boys was troubling the popular …

  1. DwarfPants

    That would be an OhNoOh Second.

    Definition: The gap between some irreversible action and the realisation it is a bad thing

    1. John Riddoch


      I'm reminded of this Dork Tower strip:

      More related to the act of spotting your typo just as you hit "send" on an email, but in the same vein...

      1. muddysteve

        Re: Microsecodn

        Done the email thing many times.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Done the email thing many times.

          And somehow even having a 10 minute edit windows doesn't fix the issue.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Ignisecond, n.:

      The overlapping moment of time when the hand is locking the car door even as the brain is saying, "my keys are in there!" —Rich Hall, "Sniglets"

      1. diguz

        Re: Ignisecond, n.:

        this is why my car (2 years old) shouts at me like an angry whale if i leave the smartkey-thingy inside and lean on the door while just talking with someone (i suppose it's got a pressure sensor) without meaning for it to lock...

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: Ignisecond, n.:

          My grandfather told me he once shut the car door, and realised that his jacket with car keys, house keys, wallet etc. were now locked in the car. Fortunately the car also had a 'sun roof' and a boot which was not automatically locked containing his toolkit. (This was long before hatchbacks and rear seats which fold down.)

          He opened said boot and used the tyre levers in the toolkit to peel back the sunroof. A police officer watched him for about 5 minutes before walking over and asking him what he was doing. Grandad explained the situation and was allowed to continue.

          1. ICPurvis47

            Re: Ignisecond, n.:

            I once found a wallet lying in the street, so I picked it up and put it in the rear of my estate car (Mk3 Cortina). I drove to the Police Station and parked out the front. I locked the car and used the key to open the boot to retrieve the wallet, and slammed the boot closed. (No central locking back then). I took the wallet in and deposited it with the desk sergeant, before returning to my car. As I approached the car, I could see my keys in plain sight - inside the boot! Knowing that Mr. Plod also used Ford cars, I returned to the desk and asked if they might have a selection of Ford keys with which to try to unlock my car. The desk sergeant told me to go back and wait by my car, and someone would be out soon. A young copper came up out of the underground garage and I explained the situation, indicating the keys in the back of the car. He took off his flat hat and said to me "Don't watch", before removing a doubled length of plastic parcel strapping from inside the headband. He inserted this between the rubber seal and the B pillar, and fished around until it snagged the lock button, which he pulled up to unlock the door. I later obtained a similar length of parcel strapping and used it on several occasions when friends or workmates had locked themselves out of their cars. The advent of remote central locking obviated this necessity, so I haven't had to use that trick for many years now.

      2. Electronics'R'Us

        Re: Ignisecond, n.:

        One of the places I worked at in the late 90s into early 2000s was a spinoff from SRI (which used to be RCA labs) in NJ.

        The place was populated, to a great extent, with PhDs who typically were incredible researchers but with almost zero common sense and perhaps no concept of what was actually going on around them..

        They retained a locksmith on staff to open up cars that had been locked with the keys still inside (and often with the engine left running). They also had a group of those nice people in white coats to help staff who needed some extra mental health treatment.

        1. Sam not the Viking Silver badge

          Re: Ignisecond, n.:

          We employed a real genius in his field but often these clever people see things in other dimensions. At the interview he was clearly the man we needed and seemingly very competent. Salary and perks were agreed and a start date fixed.

          He turned up on the day, everything went well and we got off to a cracking start; he really was very good.

          At lunchtime his company-car arrived and we went to look it over. When it dawned on him it was part of his employment package, and indeed he would need it to visit sites around the country, he bashfully admitted, "I can't drive."

          Now this was a bit of a blow. We wanted to keep him so we took on a trainee with duties to drive him until he passed his driving test.

          1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: Ignisecond, n.:

            Wouldn't there be the danger that the "ability to drive" knowledge would push the "genius stuff" out of his brain?

            1. uccsoundman

              Re: Ignisecond, n.:

              My son (who was raised in the Midwest) got a job in the financial industry in NYC. He got to go on all of the business trips because he was the only one in his office of many that had a driver's license or had ever driven before. The company saved $$$$ by just renting a car and my son driving everywhere.

            2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

              Re: Ignisecond, n.:

              Judging by the genius programming behind Tesla's autopilot, not much of the "ability to drive" knowledge ever makes it in. So, scant danger.

          2. Bogbody

            Re: Ignisecond, n.:

            Watched that happen with a Young Man employed in the Stores ..... fitted all requirements

            .... until "can you please take the (electric golf like) buggy over to the main building" .... Um.... sorry, no..

            "Why?" .... I don't drive... (not can't but couldn't).


            Much fun followed .....

        2. uccsoundman

          Re: Ignisecond, n.:

          In the early 1960's, my dad went to Business school next to a prestigious engineering school. He once passed some multi-PHD professor in tears next to his car, unable to figure out how to change a flat tire (even with printed instructions on the trunk lid). And yet somehow they were still superior to all of the peasants surrounding them.

        3. a_yank_lurker

          Re: Ignisecond, n.:

          I knew a few of the RCA lab staffers as a kid. too many needed help finding their desks.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Ignisecond, n.:

            High IQ up around genius level does often seem to come with very strong levels of focus on an area of study to the almost absolute exclusion of everything else around them. We've probably all met the equivalent of the rocket scientist who can't tie their own shoe laces (assuming they remembered to even put their shoes on!)

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Ignisecond, n.:

              There is a reason I refuse to do work for anyone who insists on being referred to as "PhD", along with all doctors, lawyers and politicians.

              Life's too short to do work for someone who knows how to do it better than I do.

              1. swm

                Re: Ignisecond, n.:

                I have a Ph.D. (phoney Doctor) but anyone who called me "doctor" was delivering some sort of a subtle insult.

        4. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: Ignisecond, n.:

          "The place was populated, to a great extent, with PhDs who typically were incredible researchers but with almost zero common sense and perhaps no concept of what was actually going on around them.."

          Oy! I've got a PhD, and,


          Fair point well made.

          At Uni I trained myself to NEVER shut a lockable door without my keys IN MY HAND. See - obvious PhD potential right there ;o)

        5. swm

          Re: Ignisecond, n.:

          When dial telephones appeared I watched a full professor (unsuccessfully) try to dial a phone call. He was used to hearing a voice, "Number please?"

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Ignisecond, n.:

            I'm assuming that this was somewhere where you couldn't just dial 100 for the operator? I think that still exists, although I believe it stopped being free long ago, when BT, as a no-longer-publicly-owned entity decided it was something that could be charged for...

    3. UCAP Silver badge

      Otherwise referred to as the OhSh*t second, although that also includes the shortest measurable time unit (i.e. the between you pressing the button and everything starting to collapse in the heap).

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Shortest known period of time

        is actually the time between the traffic light going green and the sound of the horn of the taxi behind you.

        1. Martin

          Re: Shortest known period of time

          Teacher:- What does the red traffic light mean?

          Child: That means stop, miss.

          Teacher: - And what does the green traffic light mean?

          Child: That means go, miss.

          Teacher: - And what does it mean when there is a red light and an amber light?

          Child: That means you shout at the car ahead to get going, miss.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Shortest known period of time

          "the time between the traffic light going green and the sound of the horn of the taxi behind you."

          I thought that was a New York Minute?

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Shortest known period of time

            If you wait anything like a minute to move away from a green light in NYC you are likely to have a bus or taxi traveling up your exhaust pipe. It's the only town I've ever driven in where you are expected to hit the gas BEFORE the light turns green, in order to have your front bumper past the cross-walk just as the light turns ... Even California's capitol city (Sacramento), with drug dealers brandishing guns indiscriminately, is safer to drive in for out-of-towners.

          2. waldo kitty

            Re: Shortest known period of time

            I thought that was a New York Minute?

            you're probably right... remember, NYMs are measured in picoseconds by normal humans with a true understanding of how time works...

  2. QuiteEvilGraham

    Virtual Machines on an IBM Mainframe?

    It's been a while, but wouldn't you IPL a guest operating system in a virtual machine, not bootstrap, and hit the enter key, not the return key?

  3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Just last week....

    Remotely fixing a user's system. User on phone "I just need to pop out for a hour". That's ok, I don't need you.

    tapitty tapitty tappitty. Hmmm.... network issues... tapitty tapitty... that hasn't worked.... tappitty.... I'll just refresh the IP address...... ARRFGFGFG!!!! UGGBER!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just last week....

      A bit like rebooting via Teamviewer (other remote app's are available) and just the instant before Teamviewer disconnects, you see a message pop up to the effect of "xyz application has been unable to close. Force Close Now? ", but it's too late, it's gone.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: Just last week....

        Recently had a helldesk bod trying to remotely fix some connectivity issues I had repeatedly losing connection because he'd disable something or another like he was troubleshooting it locally, and always seemed surprised when he reconnected that the zoom call had fell... I ended doing the repair myself (bog-standard network drivers reinstall, but it's not something I was supposed to do)

        1. Remy Redert

          Re: Just last week....

          We have an admin-credentials required set of tests. Since we don't have admin credentials on our testing VM for reasons, we need to make a ticket for IT to start such a program.

          So we made an agent instead. IT starts the agent, the agent starts our jobs whenever we need them. This of course completely circumvents the controls IT put in place.

          The problem is that the agent would regularly get killed or fail to start on a reboot of the VM, so we'd have to bother IT.

          After a particular week with daily outages on our remotes (which would take hours to fix and render us unable to work) our team leader decided ended up writing around 200 manhours onto a timecode for IT related overhead.

          We now have admin credentials for our software testing VMs and no longer require IT intervention.

          Edit: The restrictions on admin credentials where put in place because of certain people in marketing/sales/HR. Everyone in QA and development still has local admin rights

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Just last week....

            After a particular week with daily outages on our remotes (which would take hours to fix and render us unable to work) our team leader decided ended up writing around 200 manhours onto a timecode for IT related overhead.

            The correct way to convince bean counters button sorters, as that usually is where those restrictions come from anyway.

            1. Anonymous Custard

              Re: Just last week....

              Sounds similar to how we "persuaded" our bean counters to process and pay our expenses in a more timely manner by putting the credit card interest bills for delayed payments on expenses as well, as due to the lack of prompt payments several team members couldn't afford to pay off the cards in full...

              This of course being the same group of bean counters who refused point-blank to give us company credit cards in the first place and insisted that personal ones were used and reimbursed.

              1. Gene Cash Silver badge

                Re: Just last week....

                > insisted that personal ones were used

                Is that even legal? I can't use your company card for personal expenses, so you sure as hell can't use my persona card for company expenses!

                1. uccsoundman

                  Re: Just last week....

                  I suppose that depends on the country you live in. In the USA some people are even required to provide their own PC's for the company to use. Certainly using your private credit card for company expenses, maybe to be reimbursed sometime in the future, is not unusual. The company's reply to complaints would be "Be glad you have a job, fool!"

                  1. David WE Roberts

                    Re: Just last cards

                    At one firm everyone was issued with an Amex charge card.

                    [Note: not a credit card, although some sales people didn't settle it at the end of the month and then paid the penalty charge so whatever.]

                    Anyway, first trip to the USA and I found that most places didn't accept Amex.


                    But is says American on the card!!

                    [Allegedly due to the gouging of the retailers by Amex.]

                    Just glad that I had a personal credit card so I could pay tolls and fill the hire car up with fuel.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Just last cards

                      > Anyway, first trip to the USA and I found that most places didn't accept Amex.

                      Most places in the world don't accept Amex. And yes, that's for the reason that you mention. Fees of 5% weren't at all uncommon back when I was using one.

                      The advantage in decades past was that they had great service and could get you out of trouble if you ended up in some foreign country without money and even without ID. As long as you could get yourself to one of their offices or had access to a phone they would sort out a hotel for you and have someone bring some cash and even clothes if necessary (e.g., when as a civilian you have to evacuate from a war zone).

                      My company used to pay for our yearly subscription. They didn't require us to use the card but it was highly recommended to have one just in case for the reasons mentioned above.

                      But in more recent times Amex cut down on a lot of services and with the internet nowadays it's a lot easier to get help anyway.

                    2. jake Silver badge

                      Re: Just last cards

                      It's hardly the fault of the tool manufacturer if a company sends a mechanic off with a metric tool kit to repair a piece of equipment assembled with SAE or Imperial fasteners.

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Who, me?"

    Well, in this case, not you, "Dave" but whoever said it was OK to reboot.

    But not doubt an issue of clean underwear for all concerned.

  5. cosymart

    Oops moment

    A colleague was adjusting a microwave link and prior to the tweak decided that it would be good to speak to his opposite number on the other tower via moble (cell) phone so they could synchronise their actions. They agreed a course of action: Switch off towers, make adjustments, affirm safe to switch back on via phone call. Bet you can't guess which tower was routing the phone signal.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Oops moment

      Bet you can't guess which tower was routing the phone signal.

      If Murphy was involved, both towers were.

      And the connection for the phone signals between those towers was that microwave link.

  6. phy445

    The illusion of real time

    A good example of how we delude ourselves that we work in real time. In reality the brain issues commands via the nervous system and although we think we move in instantaneous response to said commands the reality is that it takes time for these things to happen and once the commands are issued it is hard to stop them. We rarely come up against this view of "reality" being tested.

    What I find really remarkable is that the illusion is so complete we can compensate for it near instantaneously and work out how to catch a ball, or play music together etc

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: The illusion of real time

      That illusion is helped tremendously by the speed the nervous system operates at, assisted by the processing at the same speed of the input.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        You might want to check out this video and revise your understanding of how the brain works.

        If you don't want to watch all of it, the relevant part starts at point 12:45.

        Enjoy !

    2. juice

      Re: The illusion of real time

      > We rarely come up against this view of "reality" being tested.

      Video games are a good way of testing this.

      I'm a fan of a game called Geometry Wars 2[*]; it's a top-down shooter on the Xbox 360, and has a 3-minute mode which exponentially ramps up in difficulty.

      As such, it can actually be something of a meditative/zen experience, because once you get past a certain point; there's too much going on to consciously process, so you just have to relax and go with the flow while your fingers dance.

      And this also means that I get to "observe" just how long it takes for my brain to react for things, since there's a definite gap between my conscious brain seeing a new threat, and the time it takes for that information to trigger a response.

      Further to this: I'm actually not too shabby at playing this game; the last I checked, my all-time best score was lurking at the bottom of the the world's top-100 list. Which isn't too bad for a game which sold millions of copies :)

      And that was accomplished while playing on a 40" Toshiba LCD TV which I bought about a decade ago.

      But then last year, I upgraded to a 52" Hisense model. And that includes a "game" mode, which turns off some of the processing effects to give you a faster response time.

      Interestingly, that actually made my game-playing worse. Because going from "brain processing time + 40ms"[*] to "brain + 20ms" (or whatever the difference is) seriously screwed up the reflexes and mental models which I've built up over the years.

      Having said that, now that I've started to adapt to the new timings, my average scores are improving. So hopefully at some point, I'll be able to creep a bit further up that high-score chart :)

      [*] I first encountered the GW games at a retro-gaming event semi-hosted by Jeff Minter, who's spent most of his career making similarly trippy "in the zone" shmups. Albeit with more ungulants, sheep noises and occasional herbal supplements ;)

    3. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: The illusion of real time

      There is also the illusion of actually making our own conscious decisions. Being self aware has been likened to being a man riding an elephant. The elephant goes where it likes and the man persuades himself that is where he decided to go. There is a similar effect when I go running. Whatever I decide on my route before going out, my body decides in real time whether I'm going for the 1.5 mile route or the 5 mile route. I find I have or have not crossed the road and consciously accept the decision my subconscious / body has made without my conscious intervention.

      Life is weird.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The illusion of real time

      Conversely, see "time dilation". E.g., if you've ever been in a critically stressful situation such as under fire or, I'm told, ejecting from a plane, etc., and you can recall in minute detail entire trains of thought that developed in the space of a second or two.

    5. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: The illusion of real time

      There are two sorts, as has been mentioned, and specifically when rock climbing:

      There is the "oh SH*T" - I'm about to fall off (and there is nothing I can do about it).

      And there is the "Oh F**K" - I've fallen off and hit the bottom, what happens now?

      That is the thought. People's individual 'falling off' noises can be quite interesting. Mine is more of a low level 'Aarrghh', a friend's is fairly high-pitched 'oooh', but as the saying goes, 'it's the thought that counts' ;o)

      1. cosymart

        Re: The illusion of real time

        As the "oh SH*T" moment occurs an experienced climber pushes away from the rock face. This is to clear any nasty obstacles on the way down and hopefully encounter a grass slope rather than the boulders at the base of the cliff :-(

  7. Paul Cooper

    Similar phenomena

    A similar phenomenon happens in boating circles. It's the never-ending pause between realizing that you're going to go in the water and actually getting wet. Frequently caused by a dinghy moving away from the jetty while the person concerned has their weight neither in the dinghy nor on the jetty. Can have more complex causes involving free water effects.

    A VERY long time ago, I saw a MAD Magazine cartoon which described the shortest interval known to mankind being that between the traffic light turning green and a New York Cab driver honking the horn!

  8. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    You want a real

    oh no second... trying several 100 thousands pounds worth of industrial equipment.. and you're the sucker programming it.

    And you hit the oh no second.... and you dont know if its just gonna trip out with a wimpy error message, or attempt to spin the robots arm around at 6000 rpm because you forgot the unclamp command.....

    ah... the joys of proper programing.... ;)

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: 6000 rpm

      A friend told me story of a very special centrifuge. This one was restricted to senior staff at the Uni because it had THREE buckets. Those el Reg readers of a mechanical or physical engineering bent will understand that centrifuges need to be balanced, weight wise. Well the day came when a senior member of staff forgets to put in the requisite THREE buckets and turns the thing on.

      This was a high speed centrifuge, so was bolted to the floor. Nonetheless it chased him down the corridor. One assumes that gyroscopic action kept it upright for some time.

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