back to article Yep, you're totally unique: That one very special user and their very special problem

The weekend is upon us, and we can think of no better time to celebrate the efforts of those courageous individuals tasked with sorting the problems of users. Be they Mac or PC-based. Welcome to On Call. Today's contributor, Regomised as "Philip", was the resident "PC guru" for a major computer manufacturer. It was the mid to …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    Not all that unusual, publicity or marketing in need of brightness.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Not too many decades ago ...

      ... we often lamented that the brightness knob didn't seem to work on the users. DEC had a (not very) official Field Service Memo on the subject, somewhat similar the the IBM "Mouse Balls" one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not too many decades ago ...

        Got a link? Would love to read it.

        1. el_oscuro

          Re: Not too many decades ago ...

          https://www.mit.edu/people/dmredish/wwwMLRF/links/Humor/Mouse_Balls.html

      2. el_oscuro

        Re: Not too many decades ago ...

        I actually remember the Mouse Balls one.

        1. VBF
          Happy

          Re: Not too many decades ago ...

          Me too.....I was in Field Service at the time and we made great sport of that! I even had one customer who asked if he should stock up on said spherical objects!

    2. Cederic Silver badge

      Don't underestimate the malicious intelligence of marketing people.

      They know how to exploit your psyche and influence you against your will.

    3. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

      "Brightness" did not refer to screen illumination, it was just an intelligence test. Job's was always picky about who used his computers.

  2. b0llchit Silver badge
    Pint

    When turn off/turn on fails

    When you meet a user, where turn off/turn on help fails, then that user should be removed from the list in plain good BOFH style. You know it, I know it, we all know it. Can we please get some Darwinian population control going and ensure the survival of the fittest (computer user)?

    1. short a sandwich
      Thumb Up

      Re: When turn off/turn on fails

      Could I suggest a refinement over quicklime and carpet for disposal?

      Pigs are more effective (quicker with little if any remains for forensics to work with).

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: When turn off/turn on fails

        You can identify human DNA in their dung if you can work out which bit of dung it might be in! They do lose bones into the muck too. My dog however will destroy bones and leave the evidence on his long walks. He's descended from a thylacene and can destroy basketballs so I imagine a hum skull wouldnt last long.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: When turn off/turn on fails

          I recommend a Goughnuts if you have a dog that destroys regular chew toys. The kid's super chewer dog is still on it's first Goughnuts.

        2. elbisivni

          Re: When turn off/turn on fails

          You need to be careful making claims like that - the local 'Thylacines are not extinct, and here's a picture that would be rejected by Bigfoot and alien hunters for being too blurry to prove it'' group would take that as actual empirical proof of their continued existence.

      2. Juan Inamillion

        Re: When turn off/turn on fails

        But you have to remove the teeth...

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3qy4Zv4snI

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: When turn off/turn on fails

      I've seen a PC without an on/off switch. Well it had one but it was a bit like Hotblack Desiato's space craft: Very black on a very black background and flush with the surface. If you didnt know where it was it took some finding until it got a bit grubby round the outside and even then it was hard to spot so it was eventually spotted with tipex which worked for a while until it rubbed of and then the tipex was used to circle the button. Probably a really beautiful design feature if it had not been on a box that would be shoved under a desk in the dark!

      1. juice Silver badge

        Re: When turn off/turn on fails

        I was genuinely bemused, the first time I had to try and deal with a PS4; the power button is roughly the size of a pinhead and buried in the little groove which runs between the two "halves" of the case.

        To be fair, ot does have a bit of white paint on it, but when said button is just 2mm square and visually part of the groove, it's nigh on invisible, especially in dull lighting!

        1. nintendoeats Bronze badge

          Re: When turn off/turn on fails

          I ask you to consider the XBOX power button, which is inexplicably NOT the huge button with the ring around it which is OBVIOUSLY a power button. Instead, it is the small button underneath which is OBVIOUSLY an eject or reset button.

          And then there is the thing on the center of the controller, which is so OBVIOUSLY a button that they decided to actually make it one for the next iteration of the system :p

        2. gerryg

          Re: When turn off/turn on fails

          I think it was a super dinky Sony(?) laptop in the late 1990s.

          I was giving a presentation off site, luckily not about IT. It was lent to me as a kind gesture as it weighed almost nothing to carry.

          I could not find the on switch to save my life. Neither could two or three people lusting after the form-factor. It took about 15 minutes.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: When turn off/turn on fails

            I had this problem with a Lenovo Yoga recently, it looks like a thinkpad so you expect the power button to be on the base as they always are, but of course its a foldable so its actually on the side, but so damned stylish you think its part of the case. My stepdaughter was highly amused that I had to google it to power it on for her.

        3. MJI Silver badge

          Re: When turn off/turn on fails

          PS4 or you eject the game

      2. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: When turn off/turn on fails

        I've seen a PC without an on/off switch. Well it had one but it was a bit like Hotblack Desiato's space craft: Very black on a very black background and flush with the surface. If you didnt know where it was it took some finding until it got a bit grubby round the outside and even then it was hard to spot so it was eventually spotted with tipex which worked for a while until it rubbed of and then the tipex was used to circle the button. Probably a really beautiful design feature if it had not been on a box that would be shoved under a desk in the dark!

        I've been asked to find a very particular printer before for a Call Me god senior manager before. The printer has to match the executive desk and therefore must be black in colour. So I spent a while searching for a dark in colour printer. I found that there weren't all that many but found a few. I forwarded these on and was summoned back to the office with the black desk. They weren't black enough apparently, they had light patches. The feed tray, the on off button etc. it didn't matter that the majority of it was the desired colour. Everything had to be black and I considered buying a few and taking a can of spray paint to some of them. It also had to fit on the desk which was yet another complication.

        I eventually found a couple of totally black ones well if you excluded the logo and button labels. These were forwarded on as before and I have to explain the differences between them. After doing the inkjet vs laser chat (laser picked) I was then asked if either of them did colour. I nearly suggested that the C in C-Suite meant something else at that point but didn't. I said there weren't any lasers that would fit on his desk that did colour. We obtained a budget code from him, bought the damn thing fitted it and everyone was happy. That is until he found out the price which hadn't come up before......

        1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

          Re: When turn off/turn on fails

          I hope you gave it to him preloaded with black paper.

          1. JimboSmith Silver badge

            Re: When turn off/turn on fails

            I hope you gave it to him preloaded with black paper.

            He was a real pain at times but was only a temporary C suite as a result of a merger. I think he was just out to enjoy his authority whilst he could. Black paper would have been a nice touch though.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: When turn off/turn on fails

              As vengeance I'd have recommended the all-black HP that my daughter's previous employer supplied for home office use. It was built long after HP was a force to be reckoned with in printer manufacture.

              This was an all-in-one so you'd have needed to spray the scanner glass with black paint, of course.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: When turn off/turn on fails

            And two black cartridges

      3. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: When turn off/turn on fails

        My PC has a black switch flush with its black surface in an unlit part of a room I often use in darkness. I reliably press it using muscle memory.

        Only took a few days to build that up, but I can understand the challenge for anybody unfamiliar. But that's a good thing, they shouldn't be touching my computer.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: When turn off/turn on fails

        Shirley you mean an "on/Mode Execute Ready switch".

        (took me forever to find the exact quote)

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: When turn off/turn on fails

        I hate the all black design style on electronics. I keep meaning to all a piece of white labeler tape on the DVD/CD eject button on the new PC. All black on the front and all smooth so no bumps to give anything away. And of course it's under the desk. But I guess with the printer having just support died.* I could put it topside now and see if that helps.

        *No more manufacturer made toner.

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: When turn off/turn on fails

          the DVD/CD eject button

          on the new PC

          A new PC with an optical drive? Ah now come on, can't fool me, April 1st was yesterday!

        2. MJI Silver badge

          Re: When turn off/turn on fails

          All black on electronics

          What like the mid80s?

      6. tip pc Silver badge

        Re: When turn off/turn on fails

        Her 2012 iMac has a power button round the back left hand side somewhere, i don’t recall seeingitbut know it’s there.

        It’s probably only ever been used 4 or 5 times over the last 9 years.

        Cisco switches don’t have power buttons, used to wind me right up.

        Uk plug sockets are normally switched so do you really need a power button on a computer in the uk?

        1. the hatter

          Re: When turn off/turn on fails

          A physical button that only logically turns the machine off does have it's uses, but as the imac case shows, it's rather limited, when you can often achieve the same from inside the running OS, or from a key on the keyboard. I do like a physical switch on a psu - lets me isolate the power but keep earth connected when I'm doing some quick fiddling with it's internals in situ. Most tech here is plugged into socket-dense power strips so no switches at the other end.

      7. Allan George Dyer
        Facepalm

        Re: When turn off/turn on fails

        How about a floppy driver with a hidden on/off switch?

        I got called to a user who couldn't get their new PS/2 external drive working. It took me 5 minutes to find the switch cleverly hidden by the recessed base, half the problem being that I didn't expect the drive to have its own switch.

        1. Aus Tech

          Re: When turn off/turn on fails

          "I didn't expect the drive to have its own switch"

          I've only seen one external floppy drive with an external switch, many years ago now. Half of the time the owner of the computer would forget to turn the drive on, until it wouldn't read. He wasn't impressed. Just don't ask me what breed of PC it was, as I've long ago forgotten.

      8. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: When turn off/turn on fails

        The siwtch on a PC laptop that used to give me trouble -- and still does -- is the one that was added as an afterthought that disconnets the wifi R/F for so-called "aircraft" mosde. (We all remember the days back when WiFi wasn't monetizable where we were all warned that if we as much as turned on a phone or PC with the wireless enabled our plane would plunge from the sky and We'd All Die and that suddenly planes seemed to become radiation hardened.) This swiich was either a little, invisible, slider or a key combination, it was an afterthought that worked independently of the wireless driver. Hours of fun figuring what had gone wrong and, of course, no Internet to answer the question.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: When turn off/turn on fails

          I had several cries for help from users, work and outside, with laptops that wouldn't connect. And it was an f key that switched it off, which they'd knocked without realising. I assume it was either accidentality doing cntrl+key instead of shift+key or just that the dedicated f key was just above a number (fat finger effect).

          The issue is really that the wifi could be turned off by accident, without any screen message- and no obvious status indication.

        2. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

          Re: When turn off/turn on fails

          While theoretically you could interfere with aircraft signalling, it would be really hard to do without a misbehaving device. It was largely down to pilot and industry preference, as who would sign the paperwork to say it was safe?

          I do recall a few tales about actual high powered signal generators that could cause complete havoc, hence why you have to remove the power source in shipping/transit.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: When turn off/turn on fails

            I used to work with an engineer who did a stint working for a private aircraft manufacturer. He spent many hours on test flights trying to get an electronic item on the plane to play nice when a cell phone was on board. Intermodulation distortion is a bitch, and composite body aircraft don't help with noise.

            The other thing to remember about "airplane mode" is that I recall it was the FCC, not the FAA that pushed it. Early on, cell phones in airplanes were hitting many base stations (due to altitude) in unexpectedly rapid succession (a plane moves much faster than a car) which caused problems with cell networks.

            When air assets like highway patrol or medivac helicopters connect with trunked radio systems, they have similar concerns, and have special procedures to follow, including moving to "scene of action" channels where possible.

        3. fireflies

          Re: When turn off/turn on fails

          That's quite a common setup, even for present day laptops - either a wifi symbol or airplane on one of the function keys, and the manual helpfully states that you press the aforementioned function key on its own to toggle the wireless, or press fn+the function key if you have already toggled the hotkeys function.

          Some laptops had a wireless switch on the side that did the same job.

          And of course, who includes a manual with their laptop nowadays? It's all online, hidden away on the manufacturer's website, along with the declaration of conformity, the service guide, the 100 different language versions, etc.

          The more recent problem has inevitably been webcams - all these Covid-19 era zoom sessions have given new meaning to them, and their little foibles... again, there can be a function key or fn+function key toggle... there may be a separate switch on the side... maybe a sliding privacy cover over the lens... some even have a pop-up camera hidden by default. Then there's the software - Lenovo have a sneaky way of hiding their own camera privacy toggle in the "Lenovo Vantage" software, requiring the user to open the program, search for device settings, then into display and cameras, then scroll down to find the privacy switch that effectively disables the camera. Add to that a combination of the above functions to impede the camera and diagnosing a webcam fault almost needs a manual in its own right.

        4. AK565

          Re: When turn off/turn on fails

          I've encountered several laptops that have a completely separate, physical, on/off switch hidden somewhere on the OUTside of the computer. NOTHING in the software makes any reference to it. One simply has to know of its existenc and location and make it part of your checklist for wifi mysteriously not functioning.

      9. Jakester

        Re: When turn off/turn on fails

        I find extremely irritating like the black power button on a black background and designed to blend into the rest of the computer as Tom 7 noted. Equally infuriating is the manufacturer who puts the model number and serial number in grey letters on a slightly different shade of grey in 8 point type.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: When turn off/turn on fails

          This seem a universal bit of stupidity. Last dishwasher we had had it's serial number conveniently just inside the door. Sensible, except it was in tiny digits engraved into the stainless steel. It just looked like a chicken had scratched it.

        2. Snapper

          Re: When turn off/turn on fails

          Ever looked for a serial number on the outside of an iPad? I have a special pair of glasses just for doing this.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: When turn off/turn on fails

            I'm pretty severely nearsighted. I take off my glasses for this sort of thing.

            Was browsing in a jewelry store with the wife one time, and was shown a diamond ring. "It comes with a certificate of authenticity, with the serial number laser-engraved into the girdle of the diamond" he said, showing me a cert. I took a look at the ring with my glasses off. Imagine the look on his face when I told him that was the wrong cert for that diamond!

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: When turn off/turn on fails

              "Was browsing in a jewelry store with the wife one time"

              You like to live dangerously!

              I used to be short-sighted like that. I still am except that with age my range of accommodation has shrunk. back in the day something had to be quite small before I had to reach for a lens. I miss that.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: When turn off/turn on fails

                "Was browsing in a jewelry store with the wife one time"

                We were fairly newly married, and both knew full-well that we didn't have the money for diamonds. So, just browsing, wouldn't buy anything regardless. It was really the salesman that wanted to show the diamonds; my wife is more interested in sapphires. And dark ones at that, which are cheaper.

                It's nice having a wife who DOESN'T have expensive tastes.

        3. veti Silver badge

          Re: When turn off/turn on fails

          8 point type? Luxury! Round here, the standard is closer to 6 pt, and some are too small for a normally sighted person to even see, let alone read, without artificial aids.

  3. WallMeerkat

    To be fair it happened to me on a car I bought on the other side of the country. It started to get dark, I turned the lights on, but the dash didn't light. Cue pulling over, checking fuses etc.

    Turned out there was a brightness thumbwheel on the steering column that I hadn't seen (and probably got moved when the car was valeted)

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Ugh. Rental Car Hell.

      We've all been there.

      Get off the flight, wait around for your luggage, wait for the (correct) rental car bus, load your luggage, stop at the rental car lot...etc. Get in the car, start it up, now, where the HELL is the light switch, and how do I adjust the seat and where's everything? Loads of fun when you're dog tired, have no patience, and it's an hour to the hotel you've booked.

      Japanese cars are the best, you can usually count on the controls being where you expect them to be, plus or minus the wipers. But, after years of driving Japanese cars, I ended up in an American one. After flailing around (in the dark...or near-dark, because the interior lighting was...inadequate) for five minutes, looking for the headlight switch, I finally found it: hidden on the left, lower dash, invisible, a knob you needed to pull. How quaint, when for 10 years, I had been twisting the left stalk.

      1. Zarno Bronze badge
        Holmes

        Add to that removing the 30+ "My iPhone/Android10/Samsung/Nokia/yadayada" bluetooth devices in the stereo to get GPS directions routed out properly. Then remove the customized sound settings...

        Then find the power port for the phone charger...

        Oh, and don't forget to factory reset the comfort settings to not boil your toes and freeze your nose...

        My 3 series BMW has a rotary selector knob on the dash for headlights, which took some getting used to at first.

        Dash/stereo brightness is set in the Kombi menus, but since they sensibly use red-orange lighting and transflective LCD's, it's set-and-forget at desired night-time brightness.

        As far as pull-knob headlights, the last time I saw those was on an 80's Chrysler. Old is new?

        Icon, because I feel we all need a detective to find things. Even worse on the new Visual Studio made flat-apps...

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          I always do a nice fat factory reset on the 'entertainment' system of a rental car before I return it... wipes all paired BT devices, wipes any destinations that may have been used in the in-car GPS, resets everything to spec. It's just... nicer that way. :-)

          1. the hatter

            Be kind, rewind.

          2. Negative Charlie

            "I always do a nice fat factory reset on the 'entertainment' system of a rental car before I return it."

            The previous renters of my free-upgrade-cos-we're-out-of-Camrys Mercedes did that.

            Bastards. Do I look as if I speak German?

          3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Frankly, I would never pair any device I owned with a rental vehicle in the first place. That's a whole big limb of the attack tree I'd much prefer not to explore.

      2. Stratman

        You'd love a TVR

      3. Nick Pettefar

        Where’s the effing handbrake!?

        I had the same thing at Southampton airport. Got the keys to a VW something. Loaded up, got in, started it up, oops - no handbrake! Tried everything but nope! Went back and got a car with a handbrake. WTF!? Why can manufacturers mess around with stuff like that? Of what possible use is it to remove the handbrake?

        1. Fursty Ferret

          Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

          Did any of you consider the irony of making sanctimonious comments about users being unable to use brightness* controls, and then in the same post rant about how difficult it is to find the switch for headlights in a hire car?

          * It is terrible design to have a control that makes the computer completely unusable without any other indication and it's a bit unfair to blame a user for this, especially if they didn't do it.

          1. the hatter

            Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

            If the users had called to say "I can't find the brightness control" that would have been a different matter. And likely resolvable with a google for the monitor's manual, over the phone.

            1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

              Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

              To be fair to many users, once the brightness control was set and they were using the monitor they didn't need to know that it was there. Particularly if the monitor wasn't new to them.

              I've had the odd panicked call that someone had moved their monitor, often to clean or just to adjust the comfort of their desk and when turning their PC on not seeing a picture. Their first instict was to check the power cable (OK), green light on monitor (OK) followed by "argh, I only moved it and I've now broken it" type of panic. Typically when picking up the monitor they would sensibly pick it up around the edges and inadventently change the brightness setting when doing so.

              1. Snapper

                Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

                And how many of the displays had a separate mains SWITCH next to the cable input in addition to the sexy one on the edge of the display that was so easy to turn off when installing/moving/kicking the screen!

                "Find the plug in the wall socket, is it turned on?"

                "Fine, now follow the cable to the monitor."

                'No, it's not the computer, it's the screen for it, so you can see what you are doing."

                "you see where the cable is plugged into the monitor, is there a switch next to it?"

                "Yes, it IS difficult to see isn't it!"

                "Have you got a torch?"

                "Okay, can you now press the tiny unlit button at the bottom left of the monitor?"

                "Yes, it's on the outside edge where you can't see it easily."

                "Okay, now switch the computer on."

                "Excellent."

                "No, you don't have to do this every day."

            2. SuperGeek

              Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

              "If the users had called to say "I can't find the brightness control" that would have been a different matter. And likely resolvable with a google for the monitor's manual, over the phone."

              Back in those days? Googling a manual? Downloading a PDF over 33k/56k would have taken years! I doubt they had even HTML versions back then.

              1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

                Why do so many people (and techies included) forget there are the "unknown unknowns"?

                Users may well not even know that such a thing as a brightness control exists . And since it's usually hidden away or buried in the settings that they are barely even aware of, why would they?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

          On one of my cars, the parking/emergency brake is a pedal to the left of the regular brake (automatic transmission, so no clutch). A couple previous cars were like this, too. Why would it need to be a HAND brake?

          1. ClockworkOwl
            Coat

            Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

            How else are you gonna do HANDbrake turns???

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

              Not so much for handbrake turns but, if the parking brake works on the driving wheels, it serves as a useful diff slip limiter - has got me out of mud or snow on a few occasions over the years.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

                There used to be an aftermarket kit for the VW Beetle that would add two small levers next to the handbrake, one on each side. That way you could individually brake either rear wheel.

                With the weight biased over the rear wheels and the independent rear axles, you could already make it through just about anything.

          2. Tomato Krill

            Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

            11pm, Atlanta airport, left home almost 24 hours priory and could not figure that out.

            Had actually decided to drive with the damn thing engaged and just had a pause when setting off - and checked and found it

          3. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

            Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

            They are quite common in heavier cars (i.e. small transporters and up) since you can give a lot more pressure using your foot. But the automatic-electronic parking brake becomes common, including some weird behaviours...

          4. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

            First time driving a (Grand) Caravan, got to hotel, parked up.

            Next day could I figure out how to release it, could I fuck.

            Had to find a car parking valet for advice.

          5. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

            The emergency brake ***IS**** the one you operate with your foot. The handbrake is ****NOT****** the emergency brake, it's the hand brake.

        3. Eclectic Man Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

          My first (and so far only) hire car in the USA was not only the first automatic transmission car I had driven (note, keep your foot on the brake when you turn the engine on or it will move of its own volition), but also the first with automatic seat belts. I spent literally 5 minutes trying to figure out how to get the seat belt to stay up before I turned the engine on and it did it all by itself.

          1. Richard Cranium

            Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

            "My first (and so far only) hire car in the USA was not only the first automatic transmission car I had driven..."

            Me too and do you know what else? The silly buggers had stuck all the controls in front of the passenger seat, I ended up having to sit on the left to control the damn thing. I understand the same happens in France but I'd expect that kind of contrariness from them.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

            Mee too. Automatic seat belts, stupidest feature ever. I liked automatic drive a lot, though.

          3. Remy Redert

            Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

            My (manual transmission) car won't even turn over if you don't have your foot on the brake pedal and the clutch. It's an idiot protection feature, as in it prevents idiots from trying to move the car with the starter motor or accidentally throwing themselves off a cliff/into the car in front while trying to start the car. I'd have expected that kind of feature to be standard in automatics where it's even more important to hold the brake.

            1. Dusty

              Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

              I had the fun experience of trying to manoeuvre a large Kia Sedona some years ago.

              It was a manual transmission, but had one of those US style foot operated parking brakes with a tab that you pulled to release it (IE No ability to actually to use it for controlled braking. Simply on or off).

              I was trying to reverse parallel park up a hill.

              To my Horror, I realised that one needed two left feet to do this.

              You are backing up hill slipping the clutch.

              Now you need to apply the brake (parking or foot), put the clutch down so you can gently roll forward controlling the car with the brake before raising the clutch to resume the move back up hill to complete the manoeuvre.

              Unfortunately one only has one left foot. You cant use it on the brake, the clutch, or the parking brake at the same time!

              HTF are you supposed to manoeuvre safely with such a setup?

              The foot operated parking brake is OK on an auto, but on a manual transmission, it is insane!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

                "HTF are you supposed to manoeuvre safely with such a setup?"

                Left foot on clutch, right toes on brake, right heel on gas. If you are coordinated enough to drive a standard transmission, you're coordinated enough to handle the heel-toe trick. If you're used to using the handbrake, it will be an adjustment.

                I spent a couple years driving a manual in a very hilly city. The clutch, car, and I all survived.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

                  Many moons ago, I drove a diesel car with poor compression (the engine rings were wearing out). It was a minute after first starting until the engine would keep itself running without my foot on the gas. I got used to using left foot for brake, right foot for gas for the first half a mile.

                  Also drove a '64 Chevy for a bit. I've done that toe-on-brake, heel-on-gas trick. Definitely takes practice.

          4. PM from Hell

            Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

            Most automatics will not start unless in park,they also insist on the foot brake being applied before you can move from park to drive. Whilst most still creep I did have a C-Class turbo diesel in the 90's which did not, it would hold itself on a hill but on the flat would just sit there until you pressed the accelerator. Ironically I've owned later mercedes and creep is back.

        4. Scene it all

          Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

          My US-made EV does not have a traditional big handle for the parking brake. Instead it is a little push/pull button on the center console, about like an electric window control. The actual mechanism is electric. Luckily the salesman pointed it out.

          The headlights are automatic, but if I want to override them I need to twist a momentary-contact knob at lower left. I had not seen that before.

          I was about to say that the brake button was next to the gearshift, but it does not have one of those either, lacking a transmission. It does have a handle that LOOKS like a gearshift sticking out of the center console, and it serves the same function (clever design choice), but it is really yet another control input to the computer. Some engineers might have wanted to be clever and use buttons, but here is an example of correct human factors at work - if people expect a handle they can grab with their right hand, then give them one.

      4. Shooter

        Took my wife car shopping about the turn of the century. Her car was about 15 years old, my truck was about 8 years old, so we weren't really up on the current design trends...

        During our test drive of a Subaru (she was behind the wheel), she somehow managed to turn on the wipers. On high speed. During a bright sunny day.

        Neither one of us could figure out what she had done, and she was getting panicky enough that she almost rear-ended a car at a stop light. I made her pull into a parking lot so I could skim through the half-dozen or so booklets in the glove box. I finally found the culprit - the stalk on the right side of the steering column, where we were used to having the gear selector. Should have clued in earlier, as the actual gear selector was between the seats, near the hand brake.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Holmes

          Took my wife car shopping about the turn of the century.

          & that my friend was your first mistake!

          BTW Are you still waiting to leave the mall?

      5. KevinO

        Rental car Hell (U.S. version, with an American car):

        I'm returning the rental car and stop to top up the fuel just outside the airport. There's a locked hatch over the gas cap. Oh, I'll just find the unlock button and I'll be good to go. By the door on the floor? No. On the dash by the door? No. Between the seats? No. I look all over the interior and fail to see the switch. Eventually, I figure that maybe the owner's manual might indicate the correct location. I open up the glove box hoping that the owner's guide is still there. No manual, but THERE'S THE GAS HATCH RELEASE! Inside the glove compartment!

        1. Denarius Silver badge
          FAIL

          Car controls

          @Kev. Thats a 1970s VW layout. Just suffered similar hell with emergency services vehicles and hire cars in Oz on a deployment. Mercedes van: Auto gear are right stick on steering column. Brake is little button on end of said stick. Turn indicators on left stalk where windscreen controls used exist in Oz. Never did find them. Parking brake automatic I think Fortunately not needed despite floods around. Hate having to swap muscle maps around because the thousands of petty rules dont specify anything useful, like standardised controls despite them being much the same for 90 years. The Europeans mass car makers (all one and half of them) are morons when it comes to user interface design.

          Two Toyota RAV4s of slightly different vintages Older one good layout as one would expect. Newer one no obvious parking brake. At least switch bank to left of drivers seat has a red light on a button that lit up if PB automatically engaged at power down. On none of the b##td things was there an obvious secure place to stash the open/energise fob so keys went into different places making getting them from different users tedious. Back to IT design fails. I still use a PC with white sticky tape on power button because it is like HBD spaceship. No buttons visible without a UV lamp.

          1. Andy A

            Re: Car controls

            You should try driving a car built before controls became "standardised". Mine has accelerator as the middle pedal and brake on the right. Gear lever on the right (a £10 extra) rather than cluttering up the middle of the car. Lights are switched on by turning the ignition switch further (the starter button is foot-operated), Indicators have a lever on the dash, and wiper is up above the screen.

            Surprisingly, you adapt to weird arrangements very quickly, and back to modern vehicles without problem

            Worst switching arrangement I've come across was a hire car in LA in the 80s. The dash had a mixture of rocker switches, knobs to pull, knobs to rotate, buttons with push-to-latch, knobs to slide left and right, knobs to slide up and down - and all without proper labelling. I forget what the stalks on the steering column did.

      6. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        It's nice if the instrument lights have a brightness control at all.

        Some years back I had a rental Hyundai Santa Fe -- one of those indistinguishable, undistinguished crossovers that have polluted automaker lineups. The lower trim levels of those things are popular with rental companies in the US.

        It had the obligatory unnecessary irritainment screen in the middle of the dash, and its backlight did not dim with the instrument panel. So there I was driving through Darkest Kansas in the middle of the night with this brightly glowing rectangle in the corner of my vision. Incredibly annoying.

        Of course, it's been many years since I had a rental car which wasn't more or less terrible in one way or another.

    2. juice Silver badge

      > Turned out there was a brightness thumbwheel on the steering column that I hadn't seen (and probably got moved when the car was valeted)

      My first car was an ancient Peugeot 205, which was old and knackered enough for all the paint to have worn off the various stalks and controls.

      Not long after buying it, some friends and I went to the cinema in it. And while it was daylight when we arrived, it was dark when the film finished. And none of us could figure out how to turn the lights on!

      Cue three mildly embarrassed techies crawling around the car looking for clues; we even tried ringing a friend who had once owned a French car! Thankfully, I discovered that you could twist one of the stalks and thereby illuminated the situation...

    3. Ordinary Donkey

      Ow, that thing.

      I think I had one of those cars. The brightness knob was behind the ignition in just the right place that turning the key would turn the brightness down ever so slightly, giving the impression of a gradual fault until you worked out what it was.

    4. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Happy

      My car has auto-lights, I never need to even think about it, they turn on and off automatically ... until I take the car in for service and they turn the lights off when it goes into the service area. So I pick the car up and drive around in the daylight for a day or two until I end up in the dark one morning, driving around and wondering why it's so dark outside ... LOL, and then suddenly remember why.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Automatic on car lights

        First time I saw them was on a car driving through a parking lot. Their headlights were turning off every time they went under a street light. Then on again when they got to the dark in between spots.

        So on, off, on, off, on, off, on, off...

        1. swm Silver badge

          Re: Automatic on car lights

          A friend had a car (1960's?) with an automatic headlight dimmer. So two cars are approaching with their bright lights on. The automatic dimmer dims the headlights in his car. The oncoming car does the same. So the automatic dimmer immediately turns on the bright lights again.

          This goes on until the automatic dimmer is overridden.

    5. Giles C Silver badge

      I once had the opposite experience, a pool car from where I worked. Stopped at a filling station to refuel. When you started the engine all the dashboard illumination came automatically. I had the lights on as I pulled up

      I pulled off the forecourt to find I couldn’t see anything as the lights hadn’t switched back on - I thought that as the dashboard was lit they were on.

      Could be wrong but I think it was a focus about 10 years ago...

      1. Nick Pettefar

        Where’s The Effing Ignition Lock!?

        Saab 900. Ignition lock is by the gear lever which is locked until the key is in and turned. The look on friends’ faces when you challenge them to start the car was priceless.

        1. Shred

          Re: Where’s The Effing Ignition Lock!?

          And if it’s unlocked, you cannot remove the key until the gear lever is placed back in FIFTH gear! Only Saab would do something that insane. Very little braking assistance from the engine if the hand brake fails.

          1. John Arthur
            FAIL

            Re: Where’s The Effing Ignition Lock!?

            All the Saabs I have had, about a dozen, have needed to be in reverse before one can remove the key, not fifth. To show how old I am my third car, back in the 1960s, was a Saab 96 which had a steering column change and the ignition switch was next to the gear lever on the steering column. The key could only be removed when the lever was in reverse. I assume that when they moved to a floor shift lever that they kept the same arrangement out of habit.

          2. Steve Kerr

            Re: Where’s The Effing Ignition Lock!?

            I had a Saab 900

            You had to have the car in reverse to remove the key.

            Personally thought it was a great safety feature that you have to have the handbrake on and leave the gar in gear which stops incidents like the car rolling away when you walk away from it because you forgot to leave those in place.

            Ever since then, have always left my car in gear.

        2. Dog11

          Re: Where’s The Effing Ignition Lock!?

          That was nice, but for its ancestor Saab 93, the starter was a T-handle under the center of the dash. Right next to the little chain that could pull up a window shade between the grille and the radiator, to make it warm up faster.

        3. Fogcat

          Re: Where’s The Effing Ignition Lock!?

          When I had a Saab the salesman told me that the ignition key was down by the gear stick because they'd analysed injuries from a lot of crashes and discovered that even in relatively low speed impacts there were an awful lot of damage caused by legs impacting the bunch of keys dangling from the dash.

          No idea if that's true but it sure sounds good.

  4. My-Handle Silver badge

    (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

    <RANT-MODE ON>

    We have a graphics designer here who shouted loudly and constantly that she absolutely had to have a Mac to do her job. She was working with Photoshop, had one of the best machines in the company, but it wouldn't do. When asked what a Mac would give her that her current PC wouldn't, she kept falling back on stuff like "you can click this key and that key to do this...", "the monitor's better" or "a Mac's just better".

    We showed her the equivalent hotkeys in Windows, bought her a new, decent monitor (because that's actually a reasonable request for a graphics designer) and then showed her the specs for her current machine compared to the £2k+ machine she was proposing. Then we started giving a list of reasons why we wouldn't be buying one (mostly surrounding the fact that it wasn't cost-effective to spend the time figuring out how to attach it to the Windows domain, train support staff on how to support it, or spend a daft amount of money on a machine that's worse than her current one in every measurable way). IT helpdesk said no. She raised it to the engineers. They said no. She then raised it to her boss (head of Marketing, who bought it completely), who raised it to the IT director. Who laughed, then said no.

    Then they raised it to the MD. So often, in fact, that he ended up storming in to the IT director's office and told him to get the damn thing because he's fed up hearing about it, and that the head of Marketing / graphics designer had better produce the increased workflow promised.

    She got her Mac. We had to hire in a technician to hook it in to the domain & network (and it fell off again within days). Her performance actually went down. But on the plus side, all the technical issues she kept throwing our way (along with comments like "this wouldn't happen with a Mac") suddenly disappeared because she refused to admit that her beloved piece of Apple-ware had any problems.

    <RANT OFF>

    Whew, that feels better. Sorry, that word is one of my triggers.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

      "because she refused to admit that her beloved piece of Apple-ware had any problems."

      Or maybe she cottoned on to the fact that she'd given you the perfect excuse to simply tell her she's the one who knows about Macs, not you. We Linux folk use the same approach to the family Windows users.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

        I converted the family Windows user (my technologically illiterate brother) to Linux, after one too many house calls to repair something borked by a Windows "upgrade".

        This does seem to be a common remedy for those Windows users not worth the expense of converting to Apple (aside from myself, the remainder of my family are iUsers)

        1. nintendoeats Bronze badge

          Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

          I am trying to envision the moment I am helping my mother with a problem and I say "open a terminal".

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

            "I am trying to envision the moment I am helping my mother with a problem and I say "open a terminal"."

            That old saw again?

            I converted MeDearOldMum, Great Aunt and Wife to Slackware nearly two decades ago. I have never, not once, asked any of them to open a terminal. But then they don't often call me for technical support, either ... Slackware, as setup by me for them, just works. Try it, you might like it.

            1. nintendoeats Bronze badge

              Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

              No no. If I do that, then every computer problem she ever has will become my problem. I have yet to see her touch a computing device she couldn't screw up. No no, she is sticking with the thing that she knows best because I am NOT spending the rest of my life being blamed for the fact that she lost all of her photos for the fifth, sixth, and seventh time. No no, she is sticking with something that she at least kind of understands and which my dad can mostly hack.

              I set up a simple NAS for her to back things up to. All she has to do is run freefilesync, which requires pressing an entire 3 buttons. She mentioned today that she never uses it because it's not user friendly enough. I asked what would make it more user-friendly and she said it was just about "spending time to learn an new thing".

              You do not have my mother, destroyer of devices, breaker of software, loser of files.

              No. I am not setting up Slackware for her. I will not like it.

              1. John Arthur

                Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

                I run FreeFileSync daily via Task Scheduler (assuming your mother is using Windows) and set the FFS options to close the program after backup. If you are not in front of it when it fires up you would not be aware it has backed up. Come to think of it FFS is not a good acronym for FreeFileSync. Sorry!

                1. nintendoeats Bronze badge

                  Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

                  Yeah, that would probably be better. Does it handle things gracefully when the network drive you are backing up to is not available? Not that this is a problem these days...

                  1. John Arthur

                    Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

                    Not sure what would happen if the NAS were unavailable. My NAS runs 24/7 and failure has not yet occurred. I guess Free File Sync would throw an error message.

                    1. nintendoeats Bronze badge

                      Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

                      That's why I didn't look into automating it; if she went somewhere and used her laptop, the NAS wouldn't be available and I was worried it would throw up nonsense.

                      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                        Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

                        NextCloud on a Pi as the NAS. Nextcloud client on the laptop just has a look round on start-up, syncs if it finds a network with the server on it, shrugs & waits until next time if it doesn't. As the server has a shared folder sor stuff that I have to work on for SWMBO it quietly syncs the two laptops.

                2. This post has been deleted by its author

              2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

                "I am NOT spending the rest of my life being blamed for the fact that she lost all of her photos for the fifth, sixth, and seventh time."

                When my cousin's wife lost all her photos and everything else for the first and only time - Windows & ransomware - it was a live Linux CD that got them back (early ransomware wasn't that clever, it didn't actually overwrite the original files) and installation of Linux that has stopped it happening again.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

            Having to open a terminal to get something to work is rare. Choosing to open a terminal because it's easier and/or less opaque than the GUI alternative is less so.

            A more frequent use of a terminal session is do stuff like whois or ping because I like to see who and what might be lurking behind some link somebody's trying to interest me in. The most frequent, of course, is to use a Real Editor if I've got some big chunk of text to operate on.

        2. My-Handle Silver badge

          Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

          In all fairness, I have no complaints if someone wants to use Apple / Microsoft / Linux / Android devices in their own time or house. I'm not a fan of Macs or of Apple, but I have no problem with people who are.

          But when you're employed by a company, it's reasonable to expect that you'll be using the tooling they provide, or at least equipment that's compatible with their systems (imagine walking onto a construction site and declaring you won't use the JCB, you only drive Caterpiller). It was her sheer refusal to acknowledge that her "simple" request was massively expensive in both money and other people's time, for the sake of her preference. Her sheer refusal to simply take the time to learn on Windows those extra little tricks that she knew on a Mac...

          <Rant mode detected... daily quota exceeded. Aborting...>

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

            Her sheer refusal to simply take the time to learn on Windows those extra little tricks that she knew on a Mac...

            To put the icing on the cake, she didn't know them on a Mac either as demonstrated by her decreased productivity.

            1. My-Handle Silver badge

              Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

              I would hazard a guess and say that she probably did know them. The machine was just slower than her previous, better-specced one.

              But I would say that, just so I can play the "I told her so" card :)

              1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

                Users of that type are slow on even the fastest computer as they and their (lack of) knowledge are the limiting factor.

          2. ecofeco Silver badge

            Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

            imagine walking onto a construction site and declaring you won't use the JCB, you only drive Caterpiller

            Don't think for a second this doesn't happen all the time.

    2. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

      Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

      Had the same thing. But in my case they bypassed me and bought from a separate budget. Caused so many problems the CEO FINALLY banned any IT kit I didn't approve.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

        We had one user who had to have a Mac because they had epilepsy and a PC monitor might set it off We had to get a Mac because of the potential lawsuit costs.

        Of course it had a standard cheap Mac monitor instead of the really nice Sony ones all the PC's had - this was back in PowerPC / CRT days

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

          Give the users what they need, not what they want.

          Like the guy who declined a new desktop machine as part of a upgrade program, as he was getting a laptop.

          Time came around, I got the ticket (My supported buildings) & he got something that was still in scope (It had previously been the Head of Quality's unit until it was quickly swapped out due to an issue - I cherry picked it for him on that exact basis so he couldn't complain).

          Boy oh boy he didn't want that, he was EXPECTING a nice new unit, to which he was told his boss would have to purchase one for him out of his own budget if that was needed. Otherwise you get what we have in our pool of stock.

          He responded with why couldn't he have one of the new Hardware Replacement Program ones, especially as we were originally going to replace his desktop with a new desktop, he didn't care for the response that the laptops were all preassigned in advance of the project commencing with exact numbers supplied & machines were swapped out on a like for like basis.

          He then sheepishly asked if he could have his existing desktop replaced after all, only to be told that his deployment device had been re-assigned to another device that was in scope for replacement (There had been an assumption that some replacements could be skipped for reasons of migrating to laptop, the user had left the company, desktops were surplus to requirements\sitting unused, so that hardware would simply be reclaimed for disposal, so we had sufficient desktops for 90% of the ones designated with 10% natural wastage) & there was now at this point no project stock left.

          He now had no choice but to suck it up & to add insult to injury I did say that his unit would probably be up for replacement in the next annual replacement program.

          I think at one point in all this (Not sure where it fits in the timeline, but the old grey matter decided to throw in this recollection as I type), he assumed he was getting both laptop & desktop, but the company had instigated a one computer per user program & had reclaimed machines based on users needs\job role basis.

          Icon - Because I needed one after dealing with users in that department.

          1. ecofeco Silver badge

            Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

            I've had a few like this, but there is always ONE who will never relent and complains to the VP, who tells them the same thing: "Make a business case for it or go away."

            And they STILL keep trying.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

          IIRC - "normal" monitors worked at 60Hz, but the Apple ones worked at 66Hz?

    3. albegadeep

      Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

      "had better produce the increased workflow promised." "Her performance actually went down."

      I'd be tempted to bring this up to the boss, IT director, and MD, and suggest what (who!) really did need replacing.

      1. My-Handle Silver badge

        Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

        Trust me, the IT director knows. He doesn't like being told to buy something specifically against his and his team's recommendation.

        1. albegadeep

          Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

          My point was to point out to the IT director that the user's productivity actually dropped rather than increased, refer to what the MD said about how it had BETTER increase, note that the user didn't listen to anyone involved who actually knew what they were talking about, and suggest a different kind of replacement...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

            Marketing would probably say that the productivity has gone done, but the quality has increased!!!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

      Done here in Argentina, at the start of the century, it was pretty common for any graphics design student to come off the university with pre-formatted ideas such as "Macs are just better", or "Photoshop runs better on Mac" or "the Adobe suite is Mac native" and other bullshit.

      It has to do with the perceived elitism we all know. Even more when a professor shows up with his/hers lighting bitten apple thingy on a class full of cash starved students.

      So most of the junior designers I stumbled upon on my freelance IT jobs were always using some of those cliches as their golden hammer whenever their top-tier Windows workstations weren't able to do what they demanded from it. . Most of the time the equivalent Mac would have been either twice the cost or performed equally or worse. But there was no way to change their minds...

      Nowadays, at the Big Blue™, I crack a laugh whenever a manager starts bitching about how they have to twist their fingers to do something simple as a multi-row selection in Excel, or how they can't lock their Macs to the desk because those infamous POSes don't have Kensington lock hole. But they surely love to go up and down the hall carrying their lighting bitten apple thingy...

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

        how they can't lock their Macs to the desk because those infamous POSes don't have Kensington lock hole

        Hmm, I distinctly remember there being locking holes back when I was supporting Macs - not that we ever used them.

        1. Korev Silver badge

          Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

          They stopped putting them on a few years ago. You can buy ones that clip to the vents on the side though.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: (Can't...stop...the... voices....)

      I'm one of those guys people come to for IT help and advice including "what computer/phone/tablet etc should I buy". When it's someone terminally thick I know they'll be coming back to me with their stupid questions. In that case my response is "personally I use Windows/Android but a lot of people find that quite difficult and I'm told Apple kit is a lot easier to use, why not pop into their shop and see what you think".

      It's a dead cert the sales drone will fleece them but just think of the stress it saves me just being able to respond to their subsequent problems with "sorry, I don't know anything about Apple, go back to the store and have a word with the genius".

      I think Apple owe me substantial commission...

  5. chivo243 Silver badge
    Trollface

    The Knob had nothing to do with Brightness

    The knob was the PR guy, not so bright!

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: The Knob had nothing to do with Brightness

      PR folks make salespeople look good. And not in the good way.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I recently received a request to inform a manager as to what specification of "the cloud" he required. I hinted that the specification of the virtual machine might depend on what he planned to do with it but I was promptly told not to be pedantic and that nobody has time for smart a$$ backchat. Fortunately for me, that ended the discussion and the manager cracked on with a tame Windows desktop support droid. A day later I heard the machine promptly ran out of ram...whatever that is.

    1. NerryTutkins

      We once had a client in the late 90s who obviously read too many wank-wordy business books and told us that we had to make his site "XML". We asked a little more and he explained that at the time it had .asp at the end of some pages, and he had been told that meant it wasn't XML, and it needed to be XML.

      When we tried to explain the difference between scripting platform and markup, he was having none of it. We were just trying to pull the wool over his eyes with technical mumbo jumbo, which wasn't going to wash, since he knew what he was talking about.

      After a good laugh in the pub that night, we decided we'd change the mapping in IIS for handling .xml files and then do a find/replace on all the links in the site, and charge for a site rebuild. Unfortunately they downsized him out the door before we could, and whoever got his web site brief hadn't read about XML and the myriad of benefits it would bring if they rebuilt their site on the "XML platform".

    2. Spanners Silver badge
      WTF?

      ran out of ram

      ran out of ram...

      My first thought was of this time of year over 4 decades ago. I did farm work in the holidays and we used to have this little gadget that put a rubber band on baby rams!

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: ran out of ram

        Those little tools are really really handy for putting shrink wrap rubber on bits of cable you've joined together and forgot to put the shrink wrap close to the join!

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: ran out of ram

          Do they work for cables where you've soldered connectors on both ends, then stepped back to admire your work and noticed the connector clamping rings sitting on the workbench?

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: ran out of ram

            Did that with a 50-pin D-type on a printer once. Only once.

            1. Kevin Johnston

              Re: ran out of ram

              While I was an apprentice doing a stint in the cable build area a deathly hush came one morning and everyone looked over at one of the wiremen who had almost completed a cable loom for a Comms cabin and found the shrouds for the 128-way connectors sat on the desk. He was calm, collected, just picked up his coat and went home.

              When he came in the next day he found his Team leader and the manager had re-worked the loom and fitted the shrouds. One of the guys explained that it could happen to anyone and the guy it happened to would have been first in line to help anyone else with an issue.

          2. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: ran out of ram

            " ... connector clamping rings ..."

            I can sympathise having done that many times myself. I also specialise in sliding shell components over the cable in the wrong order or orientation ...

            1. MrBanana Silver badge

              Re: ran out of ram

              "I also specialise in sliding shell components over the cable in the wrong order or orientation"

              Ouch! That must hurt twice as much as forgetting it.

        2. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

          Re: ran out of ram

          > ... we used to have this little gadget that put a rubber band on baby rams!

          >> Those little tools are really really handy for putting shrink wrap rubber on bits of cable...

          Did that stop those network viruses from reproducing?

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: ran out of ram

            Never mind the bollocks...I mean rams, can we use it on the users?

      2. Zarno Bronze badge
        Coat

        Re: ran out of ram

        The BOFH has one in his desk drawer methinks.

        Helps mellow out the bean counters.

        I'll get my coat.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: ran out of ram

          Now you are making the (faulty) assumption bean counters have balls.

          1. Zarno Bronze badge
            Trollface

            Re: ran out of ram

            More like they'll have more to count once the BOFH is done castigating the users.

            Oh, there's a typo in the process sheet...

            (Obligatory Dilbert... https://dilbert.com/strip/1993-11-09")

            1. Boork!

              Re: ran out of ram

              This seems appropriate also.

              https://dilbert.com/strip/2021-03-22

      3. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: ran out of ram

        We had Hellerman pliers for putting rubber hellerman sleeves on cables. Three parallel prongs which rested together but spread apart when the handles were squeezed.

        Universally known as honeymoon pliers.

        1. idiot taxpayer here again
          FAIL

          Re: ran out of ram

          I am sorry to rant, but this expanding practice of inserting clickable Links?

          RANT

          So, if a user clicks on a link in an email or on a webpage that leads to some catastrophe, they are in the wrong and some smug I.T. person gives them a bollocking and a lecture about clicking on unknown links etc etc.

          But it seems it is ok to click on a link in a comment, on a comments page of all things, that has been inserted into an anonymous comment?

          Just WOW.

          RANT OVER.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: ran out of ram

            But it seems it is ok to click on a link in a comment, on a comments page of all things, that has been inserted into an anonymous comment?

            Er no, it's not OK and you shouldn't click on a link in an anonymous comment.

            There, happy now?

          2. Zarno Bronze badge
            Devil

            Re: ran out of ram

            Phew, good thing my Dilbert link wasn't in an anonymous comment!

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: ran out of ram

            I once told my IT department that if their systems were so badly managed that clicking a single link (visiting the wrong webpage, not opening an attachment) could compromise their network, they really needed to stop and re-examine the systems and software they were using.

            And yet they insist on sending me "just testing" phishing emails, which are far more sophisticated than the real ones I get. I still spot them every time, though.

        2. Chris 239

          Re: ran out of ram

          "universally known" ? - um, where I worked we called then "virgin urgers"

          There was also the very un-PC and racist mnemonic for the resistor colour code!

  7. smudge
    Joke

    Back to the Future

    Fun fact – a Back To The Future of today would send the Delorean to the 1990s, after the events of Philip's story.

    Yeah - but until recently they had the perfect update for the "Who's President?" joke.

  8. NerryTutkins

    easily done

    I have the best part of 30 years in the IT game but it's still easily done.

    Yesterday I installed the Swiftkey keyboard on my phone, and then spent the next 30 minutes googling why on earth it has no backspace key. I was backswiping in the text field thinking some fancy gestures might work.

    Eventually I noticed when I turned my brightness up that there was a backspace key but it was black, and the keyboard was a dark colour (maybe as I have dark mode on my phone). Quick change of theme, and suddenly all is good.

    The annoying thing is I remember looking at the layout early on and wondering why with all the space down the sides of the lower rows, they hadn't used it with a backspace key.

    1. ortunk

      Re: easily done

      Also now they deliver your keystrokes to Micro$

  9. smudge

    My special one

    but have you encountered one whose specialness did not extend to fiddling with a brightness knob? Or finding that pesky power switch?

    Early 80s, minicomputer pathology lab systems, large disk drives each with a chunky power button on the front illuminated when switched on. Depending on the amount of storage needed, and on whether they had mirrored disks, the number of disk drives could vary from two to six.

    A customer phones me up one morning. He's a consultant biochemist, doctorate and umpteen qualifications, so he has some intelligence, but of course he isn't - and doesn't have to be - a computer expert.

    "The system's not coming up!".

    So we start going through the usual stuff - it closed down OK last night, there IS power to the console and main processing unit, etc etc.

    I didn't know his exact configuration, so I asked "Are all the disk drives turned on?".

    "Oh yes, of course!".

    Just then, a colleague who did know his configuration came in. I gave him the phone.

    "Are both disk drives turned on?".

    "Oh no, one of them isn't.".

  10. martyn.hare
    Meh

    Where do I find that?

    Is the most common response I receive when I tell users to use Finder to open applications they have not kept in their dock. I cannot really complain because it means IT support as an industry will survive a good while longer; as even 1st line helpdesk analysts will still have work, so long as there are *those* users!

  11. Muppet Boss Bronze badge
    Happy

    It used to be and still is pretty common with servers, that the POST takes forever. Usually, the larger the box, the longer the wait. After 10 minutes of gentle humming and no signs of live, is this thing dead on arrival or we just have to wait? And then (but not always) The Logo appears, a good omen!

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

      Simple: Plug in power. Walk away and do useful stuff. Come back. Press power button. Instant on - where "Instant" for servers means less than 60 Seconds to show the first logo.

      Explanation: Nearly all servers today have BMC chip(s) which check a lot of sensors, RAM, CPU, LAN, plugged in cards etc etc even before enabling the power button. Can take a few Minutes.

      But if the box takes more than 60 Seconds they often have a serial port where you can watch it checking everything before giving another sign of life.

  12. theblackhand

    A little harsh

    Having supported Adobe/Coral products on Windows and Mac's in the 90's, the differences were night and day in terms of what you could produce.

    Windows was fine as long as you didn't run into memory problems (i.e.you weren't doing anything large) and didn't require clip art or fonts. And even support for things like lartge capacity removable storage (i.e. Zip drives) was significantly more reliable on Mac's. And if you wanted to get material printed externally, the printing bureau was probably using a Mac so guess option didn't require IT support.

    Over time those differences disappeared as Windows hardware overtook the PowerPC platforms and by the time I next had to deal with mixed Windows/Mac environments it was 2007 and the differences between the platforms were largely down to user familiarity with an OS rather than genuine differences - it was not uncommon to see high end Windows servers doing the heavy lifting with a mixture of Mac's/Windows boxes scattered through studios depending on user choice. That presented other issues, but they weren't unsolvable.

    1. nintendoeats Bronze badge

      Re: A little harsh

      I try to explain this exact thing to people, and it usually doesn't go down well.

      I recall a couple years ago, a 50-something long-time Mac user (a technical guy, but not a computer expert) staring me in the face and saying in a very serious voice "Windows is crap, only Macs are good". He was sure to say it very slowly so I would understand. It was like some kind of holy scripture.

      With that lesson learned, I went back to my Linux/Windows dual-booting Dell laptop with the C64 background to continue what I was doing.

    2. Korev Silver badge

      Re: A little harsh

      I used NT4 and OS8&9 and NT was a huge improvement - you'd measure the time between crashes in weeks not hours... The early OSX versions were also crash fests before OSX/MacOS peaked at around Snow Leopard.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did his keyboard have a knob on the end?

    Thank you Sir Pterry

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      The one labeled "EBKAC"?

  14. Camilla Smythe

    Graphics Cards

    All PCs were configured from the same image and just used basic Windows drivers irrespective of hardware installed. One user would continually complain that their computer was running slowly and being employed by a big wig instant action was always required because a power point was due for a meeting in five minutes. Every visit showed that they had maxed out the video ram because 'Keanu Reeves', in black and white, was their screen saver leaving barely enough system ram to run wordpad. This was on a 1024x768 display. Every time it was demonstrated to them Keanu looked just as nice with more sensible settings. and the Boss got to their meeting on time... until the next time.

    As mentioned all the configurations were the same but one day I made the mistake of installing the proper drivers on someone's PC and this actually opened up the reasonable opportunity to increase colour depths. It made little to no difference to how general company software displayed but the browsing experience was much better. Word got around and as it turns out the general interest was more driven by the fact that company profile photos looked so much better. So requests came in and during quiet times I'd drop by and make adjustments. Everyone was happy apart from one user who did not like their 'new' profile image and asked for things to be set back to 'normal'. Yes folks the person with a black and white screen saver of Keanu Reeves who still caused panics when their Boss was due in a meeting.

    Of course you might think the problem was Keanu Reeves related. No doubt in black and white the added colour depth made him look much worse than wacking up the amount of system ram assigned to video. However whilst the user was happy with their profile photo with the old settings they now noticed that it was 'wrong' on other people's computers where the change was still in place. Fortunately although a strongly worded request was put in to fix this by reverting the changes elsewhere everyone else got to keep their shiny new improved colour depths by changing the colour depth on the users profile photo.

    1. TimMaher Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Keane Reeves

      After you returned the customer’s colour depth to the old normal, did they experience deja vu?

      Mine’s the one with Schrödinger’s cat in the pocket.

    2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Graphics Cards

      Another trip down memory lane on the subject of Hardware Replacement Programs at the same place as my earlier tale.

      User puts in a request for a machine in a building due to be closed down, (its already devoid of staff) to be moved to his desk. Licences etc transferred from his old one to the new & he's king of the hill crowing over his "new" PIII 400 to all & sundry.

      That lasted about 3 weeks when I replaced all the other machines in his department with PIV HP Vectra's (VL420 blue/cream case), wheres mine? Your current machine is not in scope for replacement at this time. My old one was? Yes. So you can replace this one with a new one & take this one away. Sorry your current machine is in scope for use, the old machine was decommissioned & the machine that would have replaced it re-allocated to another machine as we only got 90% of the machines we would need, as there would be some that we could just decommission through natural wastage.

      Next year rolls around & I bring in his machine & once again he's back to crowing about being king of the hill with his new spec machine & how it's going to be so much better & faster than his coworkers.

      Once again I bore the sad news to him that, spec wise they were the same (Different casing & more importantly motherboard) & it's not actually faster, that the image build for the ones deployed last year used the correct NT4 driver for the IDE controller, for his model they could only use a generic driver, adding into the mix that the ones from last year would image in 40 minutes & would reboot so fast that the IT staff would have to do it again to ensure we simply hadn't just logged out after a software install by mistake.

      By comparison his new one took 1Hr 10 minutes to image & we were never in doubt that they had been restarted after a software install, as we watched the long slow Wiindows NT startup & crawl to the log in screen.

      Another pint lamenting my trials & tribulations of the users in Building 225!

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Graphics Cards

        My only real thought reading this is how dull that user's job must be. I mean, it's bloody work computer. It's there to type stuff in and spill coffee on. That's all it is. A machine for getting work done. If it responds as required, without crashing, freezing, slowing or losing stuff it's fine. Unless the job it's used for is so pointless......

  15. An0n C0w4rd
    WTF?

    wait, what, apple devices had physical controls?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Kids and brightness controls don't mix...

    So the wife had my old MacBook 'hand me down' so it had done a good few years and didn't really owe us anything. Anyway, it was perfect for her use.

    I was on a business trip to the US for a month and a couple of days into the trip she called up to say the MacBook wasn't working. I went through the usual stuff, any lights on, did it chime at power on, have you turned it off and on again, etc but in my jet-lagged state didn't even think of brightness. Apparently it would chime at boot, the caps lock light would come on when pressed but nothing on the screen. When connected to an external monitor she could see a screen but nothing on the laptop display.

    Knowing there was still most of the month to go before I would be returning home to take a look at it I suggested she took it to the Apple Store. Yes it was out of warranty (by a long time) and actually classed by apple as 'Vintage' but I figured they might be able to at least work out what might be wrong with it. So she took it to the apple store, the 'Genius' tried to boot it, agreed that nothing was showing on the display and decided with no further diagnostics that the screen was broken and since it was vintage then they couldn't/wouldn't do anything.

    Wife just accepted this and so went home and carried on (grumpily) with an external monitor.

    One month later and I get home, barely in the door and asked to look at the MacBook as using the external monitor was driving her mad (she couldn't just use the laptop on her lap whilst sat on the sofa). I sit down with the laptop all bleary eyed after the flight and sure enough it chimes when booted. I then notice the brightness button and think to myself - surely not; and even if it was that then I'm sure she or the genius at the apple store would have tried it.

    I tap the button a few times and the display on the screen leaps into existence. Turns out that one of the kids thought it would be 'funny' to turn the brightness down so that the laptop wasn't working and promptly 'forgot' they had done it.

    Couldn't really get too mad at the kids (they were young and thought it would be funny), couldn't get mad at the wife as she is the first to admit she knows nothing about tech. Was slightly annoyed at myself for not thinking of it earlier but was really annoyed that the Apple store staff hadn't even thought about it when the machine was actually in front of them and just dismissed it since the kit was old, especially since the wife had made it clear we were happy to pay for any repairs needed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Kids and brightness controls don't mix...

      Yep, the Geeneus bar folks are anything but - from what I can tell, they're Level 1 tech support (effectively reading off a script). Their diagnostic programs aren't much better - when running a hard drive diagnostic, I'd like more info than simply the word "FAILED". And the tech couldn't tell the difference between a broken hard drive (data loss, machine won't boot, nasty sounds) and the symptoms on my SO's computer (super-crazy-slow but working, happened IMMEDIATELY after a major OS update). They insisted the only possible fix that would ever work would be replacing the hard drive, and wouldn't consider that maybe that software update had something to do with it.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Kids and brightness controls don't mix...

      Not too surprising when it comes to the (definitely not) Geniuses. As far as i can work out they're all about the latest gee whizz flashy stuff. Not the kind of techie hobbyists that would have been in, say, a Maplins in the 80s and 90s.

  17. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Yesterday's pain

    A headless machine was not responding to ssh or ping. Move it to a monitor, use a long network cable, wipe the dust off the emergency backup keyboard and I am ready for some diagnostics.

    The log-in screen has guessed my user name so all I need is my password - which is not accepted. A closer look at the keyboard shows <shift>2 is @ and <shift>3 is #. This looks like a US keyboard being interpreted with a UK layout so the # in the password could be coming out as £. I can easily test this by typing the password into the user name text box - which is actually a menu selection. This barrier is just too easy, without even looking I press <ctrl><alt><F1> to get to a text console - and nothing happens.

    I later notice the emergency backup keyboard has the keys in the order <ctrl><flag><alt><fn> when I am used to <ctrl><fn><flag><alt> so I was pressing <ctrl><fn><F1> which was never going to get me to a text console.

    In the mean time I have to work out what is happening with a GUI in the way. Some kind programmer has provided the option "Other" in the user name selection menu and that gives me a text box to test the keyboard with. <Shift>3 is coming out as £ so I know the fix: <hold down alt gr><numeric pad 2><numeric pad 3><release alt gr>. Of course the emergency keyboard does not have a numeric keypad. Again not a problem <fn>k is numeric keypad 2 and <fn>l is numeric keypad 3. I test the whole password in the user name field and \ comes out #. (What is the point of me remembering the work around key combinations if someone is going to make it that easy?)

    The # key now thoroughly solved I move on to the new problem: the \ in the password. The key labelled \| is actually mapped to #~. As # is on <shift>3 there is no need for a #~ key. The `¬ key is marked `~ but is mapped to `¬ because of the UK mapping. Clearly Americans do not need to type £ or ¬ and someone took advantage of this by missing out the key between <left shift> and Z an re-assigning the #~ position to \|. There may by no direct way to type \ on a US keyboard with a UK mapping but we all know the ASCII code for \ is 0x5C so I can use the <alt gr><numeric 5><numeric *>keypad trick (<fn>0 is numeric *).

    One final test of the password in the user name field and I discover the <alt gr>+numeric keypad does not work in the GUI. It is a text console thing. After repeatedly typing these strange key combinations I finally notice <fn>, <flag> and <alt> have been rotated and I can get to a text console. It turns out <alt gr>+numeric keypad does not work in combination with the <fn> key keypad emulation. A } appeared and came from the combination <alt gr>0. By trial and error I discover \ comes from <alt gr>-.

    At last I can type the password into a text console and discover ... the network connection is now fine. The short network cable was broken.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Yesterday's pain

      One of my mentors back in the day had a mantra:

      Always Check The Wire First!

      I took it to heart and built myself several small boxes for testing cables, and later bought a TDR. I can't tell you how many hours (weeks? months?) of troubleshooting this has saved me over the decades.

      1. swm Silver badge

        Re: Yesterday's pain

        TDRs are great. I built one in the 1970s to troubleshoot RG-11U foam 3MBit ethernets. The coax was 75 ohms but they used 50 ohm connectors. I could see the connectors clearly. I could also see the distance to any ethernet transceivers that were shorting the cable.

        Now everything is done by switches so shorting a cable only affects one user.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yesterday's pain

        Holy Christ Jake are you ever insufferable

        I, I, I, I, I, I, i

        You've done everything haven't you?

        And god knows how you turn an Apple post into a Linux one!!

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: Yesterday's pain

          Yeah - *Jake's* insufferable....

          Ever hear of the psychological term "projection", AC?

    2. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

      Re: Yesterday's pain

      Emergency backup keyboards with "Fn", without numpad and other weird stuff are rejected by me. You know why.

  18. Keven E

    Printer error messages

    Some users are just too busy, even after telling them about it the last time they saw *that error message... that the printer is out of paper! OK it only happened twice, but.

    ****

    Speaking of auto controls, and I have only owned 2 cars with power windows... I always felt that each car was different when it came to the direction in which to pull or push the armrest tab to control up/down motion of the window. I swear they were opposite.. or trying to retrain my intuition!

  19. Social Ambulator

    Humans are smart, hardware is dumb

    Only PC support drones would call the Apple Fanboi dumb, because they are used to supporting an operating system that consistently failed/fails all the tests of human computer interface design and requires users to master all sorts of unintuitive and arcane procedures to operate. Further these same human failures can only derive satisfaction in life by belittling those with better things to do than memorize this arcane nonsense. It was Apple who made that one mistake in supplying a keyboard with brightness turned right down. Why should anyone think of that? Apple clearly learned from that mistake as it has never happened to me in the last 20 years. And thank God I have never had to ask for support from people who talk about power cycling instead of turning the damn thing off and back on again. The user wasn’t stupid, only the machine. Until you learn that, you’ll never write useable software.

  20. ecofeco Silver badge

    They are legion

    Far too many encounters like this to even bother to list.

    It would be depressing if not for the paycheck

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: They are legion

      Usually the paycheck itself is also depressing.

      Icon - I tried drowning my sorrows, but as the still almost ex Mrs Oncoming Scorn won't go swimming, it has to be beer instead.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: They are legion

        Is your pay cheque sufficient for that?

  21. Blackjack Silver badge

    To be fair no one expects the screen monitor brightness to come turned down to "I see nuthinh" black by default.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Come to that, why are any monitors designed to let the brightness go down to fully invisible anyway?

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        It is for energy saving when a fully vision impaired person with a braille pad is using it. I know, it would be easier to disconnect the monitor and/or not turn it on, but a lot of PCs refuse to boot without an attached monitor.

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Sometimes the brightness button is in exactly the place your fingers rest as you're lifting the monitor onto the desk, and so you turn it down without realising it.

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          The answer to that is that almost down to zero would surely be enough. And come to that, how much of the wasted energy is in the screen light and how much in the gubbins used to process the signal?

  22. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. hoopsa

    Round the twist

    Years ago at work we had water coolers which had a knob which could be turned to set the temperature of the water. In the height of summer, I often found that of the water was actually rather tepid which defeated the object of the cooler. Investigation revealed that one of my colleagues was actually turning the temperature down because he didn’t like the water to be “too cold“.Arguing that he could just let it sit in his glass for a few minutes to warm up fell on deaf ears, so I fixed his little red wagon by the simple expedient of turning the knob to “practically ice”, then pulling it off it’s spindle and replacing it so that it was indicating about midway to ‘room temperature’.

    And there it stayed. Apparently the water was the right temperature so long as the little indicator on the knob said so.

  24. Aseries

    Universal Ergonomics

    The operator panels of audio visual equipment, PCs, Remote controls, home appliances, automobiles and possibly aircraft all use those little iconic symbols that translate to PLAY, STOP, FAST FORWARD, REWIND, OPEN/CLOSE, ETC. I have seen a few people of a certain age (mine) become confused as to the functions. When I have to help someone I like to tell them it's OK, the symbols are in Klingon.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Universal Ergonomics

      I usually explain that they're specially designed to be equally incomprehensible in all languages.

  25. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

    And Lieutenants are not smarter than Mac users!

    In my younger days as a back seater in the vaunted Lockheed S3 Viking (sub hunter) whilst in the service is the US Navy, we were seated on the flight deck awaiting our turn to be sling shotted into the air when the Lt. sitting next to me started throwing a fit that his sonar screen was malfunctioning. Nothing on the screen! He screamed for the maintenance chief to send someone immediately! So, we power down the right engine. open the side cockpit hatch and a tweak (Electronics Maintenance Tech) climbs in, slides his way into the back of the cockpit and calmly reaches over the turns the brightness up. All is good and no further mention of the incident is made. (Except for the roars of laughter later that day in the enlisted quarters!)

    FYI: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_S-3_Viking

  26. hayzoos

    I guess sometime during the era of Win7, laptop manufacturers decided Function keys (i.e. F1 through F12) which had also previously taken on randomized secondary functions such as WiFi toggle, brightness, "media" control, cupholder deployment, and more; that long traditional F# functions should be secondary instead. I found this out a few years ago after having been off the MS cartel merry-go-round for a half decade. I was required to utilized spreadsheet Mark X (or was it March 10th 1900?) on nearly out of support Win7 laptops. I was attempting to use F2 to edit the contents of a cell since this had worked back in the days preceeding the existence of F11 and F12. The primary function of that key is now to dim the brightness on nearly all of those laptops. I am gradually rectifying the situation by rebooting, entering BIOS Setup, and changing the default back to the traditional behaviour. Nobody else has even noticed the changes.

    1. TSM

      Did the same on my work laptop, after one too many times of accidentally turning the volume down instead (the brightness controls are apparently Fn-up arrow and Fn-down arrow on this one).

      Now my main irritation is that when I'm using the laptop keyboard, the trackpad picks up lots of unintended movement / touches and I often wind up inserting text at some randome point because it thinks I clicked the mouse there. I used to have the option set to disable the touchpad when an external mouse is connected (which it nearly always is), but had to untick it when it started refusing to enable the touchpad even when there wasn't an external mouse. (Lots of fun trying to find and navigate that dialog when you don't have any functional pointing device!)

  27. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
    Facepalm

    Hmmm

    Ah yes, my constant wish that the 'brightness' knob on the computer would also work for the not-so-bright knob in front of said screen.

    Especially the 'Important' people.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Incoming! (in a few years maybe)

    Incoming! I've finally encountered a proper 'on-call' worthy user. I mean 'situation'. But it was only last week so it's probably a little bit *too* early and revealing. So, can I schedule an 'on-call' slot for somewhere around 2051 when the requisite '30 years ago' will be an accurate timescale?

    Anon. (Obvs).

  29. Alan Edwards

    Been there, done that

    BTDT - spent half an hour trying to fix a pair of wireless headphones that had died on me, only to discover that the volume had been turned down.

    TBF the volume knob dragged on something, I didn't turn it down myself, but it took me far too long to try turning the volume up.

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