back to article Ouch! When the IT equipment is sound, but the setup is hole-y inappropriate

The week may be over, but the capacity of users to stick things where they shouldn't is far from exhausted. Welcome to another edition of On Call. Today's tale takes us back to when we worked in offices and the concept of "hot desking" was a fashionable thing that did not require the attention of hazmat-clad workers between …

  1. Dave K Silver badge

    I remember the common one with the Dell E-Docks was that if the power cable was a bit loose, the dock would work, the laptop would report that it had power, but it would refuse to charge. I had that one a few times. Unfortunately as soon as you mention the power cable, people get defensive because it *looks* as if it is plugged in fine. So it became more a case of "unplug the dock, then plug it back in". It fixed the issue and avoided the arguments.

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      It's not just with docking stations with Dell, it can happen with PSUs plugged directly into the laptop not being recognised. In one case, and I don't know how, the user had managed to bend the centre pin of the power connector so the laptop refused to charge.

      1. JeffB
        FAIL

        Which orifice??

        With the modern slim power jacks from some manufacturers, it's perfectly possible to fit them into the audio jack socket... Believe me, I have resolved a couple of non-charging laptop issues with this one already!!

        1. Lazlo Woodbine

          Re: Which orifice??

          New HP laptops can be powered using USB-C, but only via one of the two available USB-C sockets.

          I envisage this getting tiresome for us IT support bods...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Which orifice??

            Thanks for the tip! We've started using HP laptops and docking stations within the last year or so. Sometimes it works fine, or stops after a while or never works.

            Think we are on the 4th version of firmware for the monitors, and constantly checking for BIOS updates for the laptops....

            Doesn't help that the USB-C cables are so fragile - tried to get replacements from HP only to be told that they are obsolete. Non-HP cables work fine - but then bring up "unsupported device" messages

            1. Lazlo Woodbine

              Re: Which orifice??

              If it's any help, I use an Anker braided USB-C cable for my HP laptop, it's pretty sturdy and I've never had a warning about unsupported cables.

              Cost about £12 I think

          2. Cuddles Silver badge

            Re: Which orifice??

            I don't know if they're all the same, but with mine it's easy to remember because the power hole is the one on the corner. Unfortunately while this means I don't fail to charge by plugging it into the wrong USB socket, I keep accidentally turning it off by trying to plug the cable into the power button instead, which is on the opposite corner.

            I actually have a similar issue with my desktop, which has the reset button, mic socket and audio socket all nicely placed in a line, which has led to several accidental resets when not quite paying attention to where I'm sticking a plug. The worst part is that even looking at the labels doesn't help, since for some reason the icon for reset is almost identical to the one for headphones. So even if I am paying attention, half the time I'll plug headphones into the mic socket instead. You'd really think design decisions like "Don't put an indented button the same size as a socket right next to a frequently used socket" would be something people had figured out by now.

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: Which orifice??

              THEY-DON'T-CARE

            2. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

              Re: Which orifice??

              Tape a piece of plastic over the reset button.

          3. big_D Silver badge

            Re: Which orifice??

            Lenovos are even better. They have 2 USB-C ports, the first of which is used for power. The second of which is also Thunderbolt, but you can't use it to power the laptop, unless it is through a Thunderbolt dock...

            I simply replaced the power lead with the Thunderbolt dock lead, but the Lenovo wouldn't recognise the dock, I even re-installed the drivers, nothing. Then I tried swapping the USB-C port the dock was plugged into... GAH!

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Which orifice??

          "Possible" It's bloody inevitable. Since there is no consistency on positioning of these things and labelling is either invisible, cryptic or both it's generally a 50/50 option.

      2. CountCadaver

        Someone on a fabrication course managed to plug a 230v blue IEC 60309 plug into a 110v IEC 60309 socket, which then became permanently jammed, this despite the plug and socket being differently keyed to stop people doing this AND different colours - 230v is blue, 110v is yellow....

      3. big_D Silver badge

        And desktops... Although in a recent case, Dell supplied the wrong PSUs for a bunch of Optiplex mini-PCs. They were 20W down on what they should have been, which led to the Optiplexes booting, but with a warning on the screen that the PSU was under-powered and the machine was throttling the processor to compensate.

    2. ShadowSystems

      Trick them to make it work...

      Tell them to unplug the power prong from the doc & polish the prong with a tissue "to remove any non-conductive corrosion". They think "Oh! That makes sense!" and happily polish their prong. Plugging it back in afterwards tends to fix the problem & they consider themselves ultra-smart for getting everyone ELSE to do it, too.

      Sometimes a bit of BOFH gets the job done withOUT the need for a personal visit with the carpet & quick lime. =-)p

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Trick them to make it work...

        " and happily polish their prong."

        Oooer missus!

  2. My-Handle Silver badge

    I had a similar one way back when. I friend of mine, an elderly scholar, was baffled as to why his wired USB mouse refused to work. Looking at the back of the machine, he'd managed to jam the USB plug into the machine's Ethernet socket.

    He wasn't a stupid man. He had three degrees and was working towards his fourth (all just out of his own interest), but he had a bit of a blind spot for technology.

    1. Joe W Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Happens to me as well (though ethernet and USB is a bit too tight a fit). I use different laptops privately and for work and projects and....

      ... and of course they are all very different concerning the placement of different sockets. One has the ethernet socket where others have a USB one - thankfully the USB pugs are a tad too wide to be crammed in, though maybe I could manage using excessive force. The USB plug fits into the display port socket though, and stubbornly refuses to work there.

      1. John Sturdy
        Facepalm

        If you can't get the USB plug into the ethernet socket, you're trying the wrong end of the cable

        USB-B plugs (the square ones used on printers etc) do a reasonable impression of fitting into an ethernet socket, if it's round the back of a printer which is in a cupboard, and you're trying to do it by touch.

        1. Red Ted Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: If you can't get the USB plug into the ethernet socket, you're trying the wrong end of the cable

          And then there’s the RJ series of connectors.

          Dell even managed to put the modem and network sockets next to each other on some of their models from about 20 years ago.

          This design of connector are meant to plug in to each other in certain combinations, so your could plug the RJ11 modem cable in to the RJ45 next to it.

          This results in the house telephone not working and the modem not connecting.

          Unfortunately that was not one I could diagnose remotely for my father so it resulted in the expensive call out from BT.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: He had three degrees

      I've met plenty of blithering idiots with degrees.

      A degree means you have knowledge. It does not mean you have intelligence.

      1. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

        Re: He had three degrees

        Considering they had three degrees and were training for a 4th, experience would suggest they are either insanely gifted, or spend their entire lives in academia and have no desire to get a real job.

        I have a friend studying her 4th degree, I forget specifics but I think it was Fine art, English, Theology and now some kind of Education degree. I'd describe her as an emotionally unstable, green haired alcoholic, who barely survives a part time job in a small cafe. I love her to pieces, but I would never employ her in any capacity. On the other hand, my dad has three vocational degrees in Architecture that has served him well as an Architect.

        1. My-Handle Silver badge

          Re: He had three degrees

          The gentleman in question had a long and distinguished career and retired pretty wealthy. The degrees were what he chose to spend his retirement doing, as he genuinely enjoyed studying history, literature and things of a similar nature. Generally speaking, he was a patient, practical and pretty wise man and I remember him very fondly.

          But, as I said, he just had a big blind spot for technology.

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: He had three degrees

        And often persistence; Which is not always a good thing, contrary to common opinion. Persistence can mean to repeatedly keep on doing the wrong thing. There's a fine line between being persistent and being blind stubborn.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: He had three degrees

          I worked at a place & the business silent partner had taken two degrees at the same time, primarily due to his Eidetic memory.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: He had three degrees

        "A degree means you have knowledge. It does not mean you have intelligence."

        It may simply be that the knowledge is different to yours. A knowledge of microscopes doesn't necessarily mean a knowledge of microprocessors and vice versa.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      My dad has the perfect way for him to hook up a laptop. He bought some small bottles of model paints and painted a line over the connector is say "red". The cord that went into that port was also painted red. Dad's in his 90's now and still uses the painted ports.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        I used to have a PC that came like that. Red cable went into red hole etc. Can't remember the make.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          At one time it seemed more or less universal for ports and connectors to be colour-coded, especially PS-2 keyboard & mouse ports.

          I suppose the crayon department objected on aesthetic grounds. Maybe that's why laptops seem not to have LEDs on the network ports now although that could just be the bean counters.

      2. Raphael

        I do similar for audio cables with the Church sound setup.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Laptops are good for this

    Top marks to laptop designers for coming up with such a wide range of ports to hammer a USB cable into. HDMI, Displayport, Ethernet (mentioned above), Kensington (as in the article), power, even the air-exhaust vents, it's possible to wedge a USB cable into all of them if you smash them hard enough. These days the MicroUSB/MicroHDMI/USB-C ports are excellent targets. Removing all the labels "as they interfere with the design aesthetic" is a particularly lovely touch.

    1. JeffB

      Re: Laptops are good for this

      Removing all the labels? They're embossed in the underside of the casing, don't you know...

      1. stiine Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Laptops are good for this

        They aren't on the laptop that I'm using and just checked.

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Laptops are good for this

          -Inside- the casing. :-)

          They probably make more money selling the model-specific docks, so why make it easy to use the ports on the laptop?

          I use pieces of white sticky label to annotate my PCs.

    2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: Laptops are good for this

      They're clearly printed in black, on a black background - what's the problem?

      1. WonkoTheSane
        Trollface

        Re: Laptops are good for this

        They need a little black light that lights up black to let you know you're correctly plugged in.

      2. Omgwtfbbqtime

        Re: Laptops are good for this

        Do they light up black to let you know the plug is in?

        Damn - too late.

        1. ChrisC Silver badge

          Re: Laptops are good for this

          It's never too late for a HHGTTG reference, remember that time is merely an illusion, and doubly so if posting on El Reg during your lunch break...

      3. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: Laptops are good for this

        Hmmmmm my laptop is silver coloured.

        Ohhh thats OK the docking station is black (Phew).

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Laptops are good for this

        Tip: Black on black embossed marks -- rub some white correcting fluid to make them visible

        Worked for me.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Laptops are good for this

          Likewise, a Sharpie fixes those that are embossed on light-colored materials. Use a light touch to just hit the embossing and not the background.

    3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  4. benjya

    Matching power leads

    Many many years ago I worked at a large consultancy. Some mobile staff had IBM ThinkPad 240s (the REALLY small ones). And we also offered them USB CD drives as often these were needed "in the field". Great.

    Except that they both used the same power plug. And the CD drive was 5V, but the laptop was 12V (or something else higher than 5V).

    At least it was that way round as better fried CD drives than fried laptops!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Matching power leads

      Had something similar.

      We had to supply a client with a router for each office plus a modem for backup. The router had a 18V PSU and the modem had a 9V PSU, and the power connectors were identical

      For some reason we had a number of modems returned as DOA until we put stickers and tags round all the power leads and connectors (luckily the modems were el cheapo from eBay's tat bazaar)

      And I'm also using an old Thinkpad, with its combined eSATA+USB connector that trains users to ram eSATA and/or USB plugs into whichever orifice happens to be handy

  5. ShadowSystems

    SVGA cable screwed...

    Customer excuse: "It didn't fit tight enough so I used a screwdriver to tighten the screws that held it in place." Except the monitor still reported no signal, so I unscrewed the plug to test the cable. That's when I noticed that all the pins had been crushed into a mangled & tangled heap in the bottom of the plug. Funny how that tends to happen when it's not an SVGA port you're screwing it into... *Sigh*

    1. LogicGate

      Re: SVGA cable screwed...

      Lemmeguess: D-SUB HD22 (3 rows / VGA) into D-SUB HD20 (2 rows / old serial mouse)?

      An easy enough mistake since the outer connector shells look almost identical.

      ...and the pins of a HD22 can indeed easily be crushed.

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: SVGA cable screwed...

        Lemmeguess: D-SUB HD22 (3 rows / VGA) into D-SUB HD20 (2 rows / old serial mouse)?

        Hmm... for VGA to serial I'd say D15 (3 rows of 5 pins) into D9 (2 rows, 5+4 pins).

      2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: SVGA cable screwed...

        Bent pins, usually gave a nice blue screen of (Monitor) death, sometimes with care & needle nose pliers they could just be salvaged.

        Icon - Due to things being stuck into holes.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: SVGA cable screwed...

          "Bent pins, usually gave a nice blue screen of (Monitor) death, sometimes with care & needle nose pliers they could just be salvaged."

          Yep, done that many times over the years, where practicable. Primarily it was, as mentioned above, users trying to push VGA connectors into serial ports. But also, in the past, trying to force a DB9 male into another male or even a DB25 male into another male when those sizes were more common. Serial ports, parallel printers and SCSI ports all used DB25, often on the same PC and were not always standardised as to male/female.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: SVGA cable screwed...

            DB25 plug into DB25 socket UPSIDE DOWN!!!!

            no, I don't know how he managed it

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SVGA cable screwed...

      Not sure on that...... I've seen knackered VGA connector pins used for a cable for a projector. It was a basic projector - only a VGA connector. And a mains IEC connector

  6. ColinPa

    Losing my mother's marbles

    I realised that my mother's mental capacity was going when she complained that her laptop would not open. She was trying to open the hinges.

    Her screen saver was an animated fish tank full of fish. I came in one day when she was waving a watering can over the laptop, looking for a hole "to top up the fish tank" because she hadn't done it for a while, and every one knows fish tanks need to be topped up.

    The beginning of the end.

    1. Data Mangler

      Re: Losing my mother's marbles

      That's very sad. Unfortunately many of us are destined for similar outcomes.

    2. Paul Kinsler Silver badge

      Re: She was trying to open the hinges.

      It depends on the laptop, but the thing is as a user you might intuitively expect to hold it landscape, lid towards you, with the labels/logos *readable* (ie upright), open up it from the bottom (ie asuming the hinges are top) so you can then put the thing on the desk in front of you and type away. After all, if you opened the lid from the top, you'd end up with keyboard and screen facing away from you, which would be weird.

      However, the logos aren't to remind the user what an awesome laptop they've got, they're for passers-by to admire, so they might then rush out and buy such an awesome laptop.

      Thus in fact you can have to do the non-intuitive thing [1], and start by holding it with the logos inverted before opening; so that passers-by can admire them properly.

      This may or may not be a sort of hardware UI flaw, but I will leave it for the reader to decide for themselves.

      [1] Other values of intuition are available.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: She was trying to open the hinges.

        Yes. That. I've still got to think this through when opening an unfamiliar laptop. Intuitively, to me the front edge is the one that I can read the logo from. I have to consciously remember that laptops open from the back of the logo, not the front. Just one more reason for my deep and abiding hatred of marketing people.

        1. Swarthy Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: She was trying to open the hinges.

          So, If I ever start up a laptop company, I should make the logo mirrored on the X-Axis, so that it's upright for the user and the admirer.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: She was trying to open the hinges.

            Make it spring-loaded and slightly weighted so it faces the owner/operator when closed, but spins around and displays upright to the observer when open.

            1. ButlerInstitute

              Re: She was trying to open the hinges.

              Used to be some desktops that had the logo rotatable so you could have the main box upright on the floor (or desk) or on its side on the desk (maybe under the monitor) and either way could have the badge set to be the right way up.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: She was trying to open the hinges.

        I remember reading that long ago, laptops had logos positioned to be "right side up" from the viewpoint of the user who was about to open it. Supposedly the first laptop to have a logo that was right side up for other viewers was presented to one Hon. Lance Ito shortly before the OJ Simpson trial began.

        Likely apocryphal, but a fun story to tell.

        1. ButlerInstitute

          Re: She was trying to open the hinges.

          I heard it was Steve Jobs.

          Ie someone within Apple showed him that it might be done like that and he said go for it, and so it seems to have been ever since.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: She was trying to open the hinges.

        My first laptops did indeed present the logo to the user. At some point that changed. It signalled the vendors deciding that marketing was more important than their customers.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: She was trying to open the hinges.

          Absolutely. Our natural ( or at least trained from an early age) instinct is to expect writing/images to be the right way up as presented to us. So we tend automatically to position any logo etc. to be readable from our own side. The laptop isn't there to be seen by a third party, it is right way up for ourselves. But tell that to marketing idiots.

    3. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: Losing my mother's marbles

      Really sad.. my wife just had to take an emergy flight and her mum no longer understands skype. :(

    4. Shez

      Re: Losing my mother's marbles

      It seems the subtle complexities of technology seems to be a useful identifier of a failing mind.

      I was the first in my family to realise something was amiss with my mother when as the family IT support I was asked for help to log into her online banking (which she had used for a while regularly without any issue). She was being prompted for three characters from her password and had to use a drop down list of all letters and numbers to select the answer.

      She duly entered the first and second characters it asked for correctly, but she couldn't handle being asked for the 10th character from her password. When I asked why she said there wasn't a number 10 in the list. I had to explain that like the first two boxes it was the 10th character in her password. She still couldn't get it so I asked her what the tenth character of her password was, she answered "ten". In the end I had to take the full password off her and identify the 10th character (which was a number) so I could get her logged in, then go downstairs to discuss it with my dad.

      It was a while before my dad started noticing issues and it then took quite a while longer to get her referred by the GP as when she was taken to the doctors, she could answer all his questions perfectly "Who is the prime minister", "what's the date" etc and appeared normal in all respects.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Losing my mother's marbles

      "I realised that my mother's mental capacity was going when she complained that her laptop would not open. She was trying to open the hinges."

      I do that on occasion. Mainly because I used laptops back when the logo was the "right" way up for the user looking at the lid rather than "upside down" as it is these days so it's the "right" way up for people looking at the lid when it's open or for the camera in a product placement.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Losing my mother's marbles

        B***er.

        s open or for the camera in a product placement.

        I hadn't realised why the marketing idiots wanted the logo the wrong way round so much. Now it makes (weird) sense. We all have to suffer the logo being the non-intuitive way round in (their) hope that it will appear in front of some hero in a big "movie". It wouldn't be Apple that came up with this ghastly idea would it. That seems to be the one we see most on the big screen, logo facing the camera.

      2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Losing my mother's marbles

        The first sign is when you're trying to plug in a USB upside down. :-)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Losing my mother's marbles

          Someone on these august forums once proposed a theory as to why it takes so many tries to get USB in correctly:

          The port on the device exists in a Schroedinger-uncertainty state - it is simultaneously "up" and "down", thus no plug will fit. The first attempt causes it to resolve into the same direction as the plug. but only after the plug leaves it vicinity. The user then flips the plug upside down and tries again. which of course fails, so they flip it again, and it works. Which is why it typically takes 3 tries to insert a plug with only 2 possible directions.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Losing my mother's marbles

        I don't get using the logo for identifying which way around the laptop is facing. I just look for the hinges, and open from the opposite edge...

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Losing my mother's marbles

          Not many people see a laptop from the edge. I'd venture. Mostly we look down or at an angle to it. And see the lid, with the logo.

  7. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Happy

    Meltdown...

    A few years back, the place I was working in at the time was transitioning from desktops to laptops. The process was being done in stages so when I joined, about a third of the department had laptops and docks - let's call these "batch A". About a year later, "batch B" arrived, taking us up to two-thirds laptop & dock. Why the delay? I'm guessing budget constraints.

    Anyway, what nobody had considered were the different power requirements between the laptops in batches A and B - a problem that became apparent when one poor soul with a low power requirement "batch A" laptop moved onto the desk of someone with a high power delivery "batch B" dock...

    Let's just say that on this day, the chap in question was quite literally "hot desking"... after which, the idea of moving desks was shelved.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meltdown...

      Lennovo laptops did the "bigger power supply, same connector" routine at our last refresh. Power supply simply refuses to power the laptop. The docking stations are the same, and work fine with the larger supplies. I found that out when booking a guest office and had a low battery warning during a Zoom presentation early pandemic.

      We also have a few "small" power bricks scattered in conference rooms as spares if you run low during a meeting. Those are useless for most if not all of us.

      Contract that will Dell. At $oldjob we had a mix of Dells spanning about 15 model years. I could plug a (then) modern Dell laptop that was beefy enough for light engineering workloads into the wimpy power supply from an old small form-factor Dell laptop (an "executive" model for toting through airports). It would warn me about the mismatch, but it would still try to charge. If I was heavily taxing the CPU, I wouldn't necessarily get a net charge, but I would at least discharge at a slower rate.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Meltdown...

        "I wouldn't necessarily get a net charge, but I would at least discharge at a slower rate."

        Unlike your experience with the Lenovos, what you describe for the Dells is what I have found with Lenovos. The lower rated PSUs will charge a powered off higher rated laptop but may not charge it when running, but will slow down the discharge rate. That seems to be true on both the larger rectangular power connect based ones and the USB-C based ones. Not sure if it's true the even older barrel connector based ones.

      2. Aitor 1 Silver badge

        Re: Meltdown...

        Thinkpads used to do that too... But not anymore.

        I have three thinkpads. (two work,one personal) and the personal ones has a smaller brick.

        One thinkpad will complain, and charge,the one year newermodel,same tdp, will charge powered off, wont charge powered on. So they decided against it.

        We have also gone hp for the refresh.. as they could not get the cpus we wanted

      3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Meltdown...

        s / contract / contrast /

        s / will / with /

        That was very confusing to read, the way that you wrote it! ;-)

        On the other hand, I bought a Dell Latitude ST tablet: I still haven't forgiven them.

        (It is possible that frequently freezing for 60 seconds isn't a standard feature. Neither is longer term support.)

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge
          Megaphone

          Re: Meltdown...

          I'm also pretty pissed off with Dell. Before ordering my new laptop a couple of years back I did an online chat- Was there space and connection inside the chassis for a second drive ( my old laptop's HDD)?

          Yes, they said. No there **!!***!!~~~*** wasn't. And the SSD was rather cramped in capacity terms too.

          And it was surprisingly slow at times.

          Until just out of warranty the SSD started to fail.

          So I bought a nice, decent capacity Samsung SSD. Transferred everything to that and swapped it in.

          Suddenly, like magic, the bloody thing stopped being so slow.

    2. CountCadaver

      Re: Meltdown...

      Well then the power supply / laptop is extremely poorly designed as the laptop should only take the energy it needs to charge.......its generally only the cheapest crap that objects thermally or explosively to higher output chargers. due to the failure to integrate charge control circuity....

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Meltdown...

        Nothing responds well to getting the wrong voltage applied to it.

        On the other hand, a power brick naturally produces different voltage depending on the load - I think - unless designed not to. I'm currently looking for a replacement of one that does that (for TV box, not PC) and I'm just assuming that it was cheap. But won't be now.

  8. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Hot Desking

    The article speaks of it as if it was in the past...

    My company has just discovered it, calls it "hoteling", and thinks it's just the most wonderful thing in the world.

    Nothing says to your employees "we don't care enough about you to provide you with a small personal space" like hot-desking.

    I started out my career in an 8x10 foot cube. It shrunk to 8x8, and then, when I moved to a small company, became an open office with a large, L-shaped desk. Which has now shrunk to a 6 foot section of a long, shared desk. And now, it isn't even mine anymore.

    WFH is looking better and better every day.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Hot Desking

      Maybe you should ask where the mini-bar, trouser press and pay-tv are?

      Oh and then insist on room service also being available...

    2. FloridaBee

      Re: Hot Desking

      My company here in the US has been on the same craze to "save money on real estate" by shrinking seating to smaller and smaller dimensions. They spent 2018 and 2019 taking us from 3 floors down to 1.5 by rebuilding the spaces as 1.5m wide desktops with swingarms for the monitors and absolutely no divider walls, barely enough space behind your chair to be able to back up enough and crawl out. You could walk down an aisle and touch shoulders of the people sitting on either side and not even strain for the reach.

      They spent a freaking fortune on all this refurbishment and were about to put everyone into permanent seating in March 2020. You can guess the outcome, since what they had done was essentially design massive Covid petri dishes. I was in my "new" seat for 2 freaking days when the lockdown hit and we all went home and it's been sitting empty ever since. When I think of all the money wasted on this that could have been used for decent system upgrades, etc., I just sigh.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Hot Desking

      As far as desk size and spacing, it would seem that we've gone back to the old style of office we called the "bullpen". Desks snug up to each other, barely room for the chair. Heaven help the poor guy who came in a bit late and his desk was a the end of the row next to the wall.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Hot Desking

      Nothing says to your employees "we don't care enough about you to provide you with a small personal space" like hot-desking.

      Replacing all the tall partitions with lower ones so that the partition mounted bookshelves were way over there by the window and at the same time moving another department with a loud dot-matrix printer right behind you said much the same thing.

  9. JerseyDaveC

    Anyone old enough to remember the BBC MIcro and its proprietary Econet network? We discovered that if you jam an Econet cable into the tape drive port - something of an achievement as the pinout was radically different - it had interesting crashy effects on the network.

    1. WonkoTheSane
      Facepalm

      The best part about the BBC Micro was its RS423 serial port, as they used a DIN plug with 4-way rotational symmetry.

      Pic goes here

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        As I recall, that was deliberate.

        I'm sure any of us who've ever worked with serial connections will be familiar with the old problem of the number of permutations of connections needed to get things working. With that clever arrangement, you could (in theory) use the same cable for a modem or a printer just by turning the plug the other way round - transmit and receive were diagonally opposite, turning the plug round swapped the transmit and receive connections for both data and control lines.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Pint

          That made a lot of my early troubleshooting calls with our modems & various home computers in the 80's easy, as our modem used the same Domino Din & users were told, remove & rotate the modem plug 180 degrees, then reinsert if the modem wasn't dialing out.

          Super easier still for Beeb owners, they had a choice of which cable end to unplug & rotate.

          I wish someone had had the foresight to include this troubleshooting fact in the manual(s) though.

  10. Down not across Silver badge

    At least it is keyed... even if twice, so at least you have 50% of chance of getting it right instead of 25%. :-)

  11. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    USB cable into RJ45 port.

    It fits. Try it.

    1. Nunyabiznes

      Was coming to post this. I have given up on just shipping a network attached printer (that also has USB connection) directly to the user.

      Eh, I like getting out of the office anyway.

  12. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    "early in the morning"

    What is this strange phrase?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Not strange at all ... it's shorthand for "It is coming up on bedtime".

  13. Arthur the cat Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "tales about all manner of things being inserted into all manner of orifices"

    In my younger days I used to drink with a lot of nurses and the ones on A&E always had new tales of unlikely insertions. The one that's always stuck in my mind (but fortunately nowhere else) pointed out that fish gills act much like those widgets for fixing thing to plasterboard, in that they open up when pulled backwards, so one should always think twice before putting whole fish where they were not meant to go.

    The subsequent retrieval in A&E got named "bass relief".

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: "tales about all manner of things being inserted into all manner of orifices"

      I learned my lesson when I was about 3 or 4 with a pea stuck up my nose

      1. AndyMTB

        Re: "tales about all manner of things being inserted into all manner of orifices"

        Similarly for me - peanut stuck in ear. My mum warmed up a spoonful of chocolate, poured it into the guilty orifice and once it was set gave me a sharp slap on the other side of my head. Came out a treat.

        1. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
          Pint

          Re: "tales about all manner of things being inserted into all manner of orifices"

          "Came out a treat."

          Are they the ones "that melt in your mouth. Not in your hand?"

          (Here in Oz we have chocolate covered peanuts with an outer 'candy' shell known as 'Treats' and that was how the ad went, memory forgiving).

          1. AndyMTB

            Re: "tales about all manner of things being inserted into all manner of orifices"

            Yes, they were indeed Treats, and that was the ad. Made by Mars but no longer available, at least not here in the UK

            1. wjake
              Joke

              Re: "tales about all manner of things being inserted into all manner of orifices"

              You folks don't have peanut M&Ms anymore? What a sad world in which to live!!

        2. Shooter
          Joke

          Re: "tales about all manner of things being inserted into all manner of orifices"

          She probably could have stuck a matchstick in before the glop set and pulled the mess straight out, but felt you needed a sharp slap on the side of the head just for doing such a silly thing!

    2. Dante Alighieri

      Re: "tales about all manner of things being inserted into all manner of orifices"

      Elderly gent with a dribble.

      Mung bean controls but eventually one gets "lost"

      Dark nitrogen rich environment...

      Interesting cystoscope views!

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: "tales about all manner of things being inserted into all manner of orifices"

        Thank you soooooo much for that mental image!!

  14. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    At a previous job we were (at least for a while) a mostly Apple shop, so tended to have printers with those nice small 8 pin MCC connectors. But put a Localtalk card into a printer, and you now have two apparently identical sockets. After the electricians had been round doing portable appliance testing, some of the printers no longer worked - yup, they'd just worked on "this looks like it will fit there so ..." and put the Localtalk plug into the serial port which was the most visible of the two.

    It hadn't occurred to them to look at where things were plugged in before unplugging them.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "It hadn't occurred to them to look at where things were plugged in before unplugging them."

      Depending on any previous experience, why would a sparky assume that two different but apparently identical sockets might have different functions and/or be wired differently in an unsafe way that might cause damage? :-)))

    2. waldo kitty
      Alien

      It hadn't occurred to them to look at where things were plugged in before unplugging them.

      parallel printer (DB25) into an external SCSI port (also DB25) on a SCO Unix station... on boot, things didn't work properly and took a couple of hours to figure out... especially after the system reconfigured itself during that initial post-cleaning boot... why? both 16bit cards were addons and both inadvertently and accidentally swapped into each other's slots... it was the slot position in the case, not the specific card, that was remembered for the cables to plug into... first time ever working with SCO Unix... not so much fun as much as informative and quite the learning experience...

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