back to article Computer shuts down when foreman leaves the room: Ghost in the machine? Or an all-too-human bit of silliness?

It's Friday mystery time as a Register reader finds himself embroiled in The Adventure Of The Haunted Computer. Welcome to On Call. "Paul", for that is not his name, was working in IT for a supplier of automotive parts. The company's production lines worked all day and all night to ensure nobody would want for that critical …

  1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Get the electrician back in and apply Clue with a Megga.

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Those sort of oddities in wiring aren't that unusual, especially with stock partitioning used for offices.

      We had one where there was a light switch inside the office controlling lights outside of it, but to turn the lights in the office on you had to walk out to another switch - we never did get that one fixed before they removed the separate office in a corporate "rearrangement" (it was back again a couple of years later).

      1. Jonathon Green
        Facepalm

        Ah. Portioning in offices which doesn’t match the lighting circuits and switching.

        Always good for a laugh, like the company I worked at a few years ago who created a new meeting room, installed a projector and screen, but left the lighting circuits shared with a large chunk of the office area it had been carved out of resulting in massive shouting matches and spectacular toy ejections when people in the meeting room wanted the lights down so their PowerPoint shows looked nice on the big projection screen and those of us outside it wanted to be able to see, well, anything really…

        1. CuChulainn Silver badge

          On partitioning, in most of my roles throughout my career at a certain company, I was in buildings that were built in the 1930s (and all that that implies concerning structure).

          Over the years, with many reorganisations, offices came and went, but always amounted to a partitioned cube inserted into whatever concrete space was available. And this meant that there were voids between the partitioned bits and the concrete bits - typically in the upward direction above the suspended ceiling.

          This void was obviously occupied by air ducts, cables, and pigeons (if there was a broken window on the outside somewhere, and given the state of the buildings externally, there usually was).

          One time, my office needed something doing with the cabling in the void, and they chose to do it over a weekend.

          When I came in Monday, my desk, chair, computer, etc., was covered with pigeon crap and dander. I itched for a week after, even after cleaning everything up. Apparently, they even found dead pigeons teeming with maggots up there, along with nests of chicks.

          1. CountCadaver

            Thats when you email H&S rep with pics and at the same time ask your manager if they would sit on that mentioning a varied list of pathogens that pigeons can carry (many of them respiratory)

        2. MiguelC Silver badge
          Facepalm

          I worked at an office that installed automated leccy-saving light switches on their conference rooms, only they didn't save anything nor helped anyone. Instead of working as Manual Off/On by sensors, they operated as Manual On/On by sensors, so every time anyone was in the room they would turn on and only turn off if people were static for some time, only to auto turn themselves on again as someone flinched. And no way to turn them of for presentations. Bloody brilliant.

          1. CuChulainn Silver badge

            Yeah, we had those in some of the (huge) 1930s-built factories.

            At night, it was like being in an Alien film, as the lights came on in blocks as you walked along dark corridors.

            Like you say, if you didn't move near one of the sensors for a while - and the sensors weren't on every fluorescent strip, to save money - you'd suddenly be plunged into darkness.

            My doctor's surgery has them. If I'm ever in to see the nurse for an annual check up, she has to keep scooting backwards on her chair to turn the lights back on again.

            1. G7mzh

              My former employer had them in the toilets, but only by the door - what you were supposed to do if you spent too long in the cubicle I'm not sure!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Catch-up on your sleep?

              2. Montreal Sean

                Motion sensor lights in toilets

                @G7mzh

                That's what cell phone flashlights are for.

                Speaking from experience. :(

                1. NorthIowan

                  Re: Motion sensor lights in toilets

                  Motion sensor lights came out before cell phones had lights.

                  Back then you had to be quick or hope someone else came in for the next stall. ;-)

                2. Wzrd1

                  Re: Motion sensor lights in toilets

                  We had such sensor lights in a secure documents facility. It was always quite entertaining when working on classified documents, the lights would go out.

                  Once, for purely entertainment value, I stood up to trip the sensor and managed to clap before the lights came on. Rare is it that one hears much laughter in such secure settings!

                  Needless to say, cell phones were unwelcome in such a place, as well as anything else that possessed a microphone, so the notion of clap on brought the house down (we all knew it was passive IR based).

                3. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Motion sensor lights in toilets @Montreal

                  But that means leaving that game of solitaire that you just can't finish.

              3. irrelevant

                Cubucle Lights

                Mrs Irrelevant spent a considerable portion of 2019-2020 in the local hospital, and thus so did I. The corridor nearest the ward she was in had a set of four toilets, in each of which was a motion-sensitive light. During the day, when they were busy, the lights ended up staying on pretty much all the time. Not so at night.

                It took me some time to work out, but I finally worked out what was so iffy about the light in cubicle 4... It would often fail to come on at night, whereas in the daytime it was fine. It turned out that if you activated the light in cubicle 3, then the one in 4 would work too. If 3 had timed out and turned off, then nothing you did would make the light in 4 come in. Obviously someone had wired it's feed up to the output of the motion sensor in 3, rather than having them all in parallel...

                I did try to report it to maintenance, but I don't think they understood; it certainly never got fixed whilst I was visiting, and is probably still like that to this day.

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              I was once sat in the bog at one of the schools in York University when the lights went out. No amount of hand waving would turn it back on because the movement sensor was in the main area, not inside the cubicles. Luckily the "emergency" lighting was just bright enough to see by. Maybe if I'd not had a curry the night before I'd have made it out before the lights went off.

              1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

                Similar thing happened in one company I worked at. However the person who got left in the dark was the managing director and the electrician was in to install a proper switch the next morning.

                1. HelpfulJohn

                  That is just *wrong*!

                  Yes, I know that in every bit of Life, His Majesty gets special attention just for *being* His Majesty even though he is objectively a petty, trivial, completely replaceable and mostly useless little functionary but that is so damned *wrong* in ever so many ways.

                  Indeed, it should be the other way around as there are millions and millions more Plebs than Majesties so anything harming us *should* be far, far more important and dealt with far more quickly than when it bothers a single, unimportant, minor bureaucrat.

                  I don't suppose anything will ever happen that way, though. :)

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    If I were His Majesty

                    I would say get this fixed as soon as possible because I don't want my poor little underlings to have to suffer like this. There, same result but this time I'm the good guy....

          2. steviebuk Silver badge

            Same but had the issue if you were last in office and, due to the location of the sensor, were still enough all the lights would go out. Then you'd have to fumble about to get to the sensor to make it turn the lights back on.

            They attempted to install power saving bricks that had the power switch on them. The ones from dragons den. But they ended up being fucking awful and not to mention an electrical hazard.

          3. TRT Silver badge

            I thought they should install those in our toilet corridors as these were always being left on but in use for only seconds at a time. They installed them in the loos instead, with the subsequent shitting in the dark outcome. Totally pointless. The toilets themselves had big old windows - it was just the linking corridor to them that had no natural light so found the lights left on 24/7.

        3. gnasher729 Silver badge

          At one place we had a rather large office space, with air conditioning / heating being split with two controllers. There were two tiny problems: 1. The controllers were marked wrong.The one supposed to control the left half controlled the right and vice versa. 2. One controller was upside down. Instead of turning everything up it turned things down.

          Somehow this didn't work. Before the problems were identified, they found a state that was close to reasonable, and warnings of instant death sentence if you touched the controllers.

      2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Yes, but you should never have power outlets wired into the lighting circuits.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Downvoted, because you are only thinking in UK terms. In the US you do have power and lighting together, and don't have "circuits" everything is a spur.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Even on a spur, the only thing after the switch should be lights (and maybe other stuff that needs to be switched), not outlets.

            1. Number6

              Except when you find a light switch that doesn't appear to do anything, only to discover that it's in series with a particular power outlet. The intention is that you plug an uplighter or other free-standing lamp into it. Often found in rooms where there is no permanently-installed light. We have such a room in the house, not gotten around to fixing it yet though.

              Not impressed with US wiring practice.

          2. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

            Downvoted because the US system sounds messy, confusing, and potentially dangerous.

            1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Let's not even get started on the US's weedy 110V system which means that an electric kettle draws so much current it melts wires. At least they finally settled on AC as a sensible system, despite Edison.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

                  Upvoted for linking to one of Alec's videos, which are generally great. However, the fact that they could have good (and safe) kettles but they choose to wire things so that they generally can't somehow makes it all the worse. Maybe they just don't understand the benefits of a good cup of tea.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Maybe they just don't understand the benefits of a good cup of tea.

                    Upvoted for that alone :).

                    1. VicMortimer

                      In the American South, we absolutely understand the benefits of a good GLASS of tea. Tall, very cold, and very sweet. And get away from it with that milk, you cretins.

                  2. wjake
                    Joke

                    Tea goes in the harbor

                    Or don't you remember? Besides, we have perfectly adequate coffee makers for that caffeine fix!

                    1. Dagg

                      Re: Tea goes in the harbor

                      Sorry, the US has the worst coffee in the world! Even in NY if you want a proper cup you need to go to an Australian coffee house.

                      At one stage they tried to introduce starbucks into Aus, it totally crashed and burnt.

                  3. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Why take up more counter space with another electric gizmo when we can put a kettle on the stove (which I think y'all call the hobbit or something like that)?

                    1. Number6

                      I have a kettle near a sink in another room, no cooker involved.

                2. Evilgoat76

                  And this is why my old place in Calgary probably kept the new owners busy for weeks working out what the weird square three pin sockets in random places were. As an expat I got bored of step up transformers.

                3. DavyPaul

                  one of my favorite...

                  ...youtubers.

                  he's great fun :-)

              2. keith_w

                In 65 years of living with the North American electrical system, I have yet to melt a kettle's electrical cord, although I did once melt a can opener's cord. But that was because I let is sit on a hot burner.

                1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                  It's not the kettle lead you need to worry about (they're generally indestructible) but the upstream wiring which may well not be designed to take the current it will draw and possibly melt and catch fire.

                  A 1 KW kettle will draw 4A from 250V, but 9A from 110V. (P=VI)

                  The amount of heat generated in the wiring depends on its resistance, but is proportional to the square of the current (P=I2R), so something drawing 9A rather than 4A will produce approximately 5 times the heat in the wiring. This means the wiring has to be designed to have 1/5 the resistance to meet the same safety standard. Since resistance is proportional to the inverse of the square of the cross-section, this means having wiring with a core diameter 2.25 times that in the UK in order to meet the same safety standard. That's a lot more expensive copper. Are you sure that whoever wired up your house didn't cheap out?

              3. Imhotep

                Most houses have 220V circuits for things like electric ranges and clothes driers. I generally add one for some of my power tools.

              4. LisaJK

                US domestic supply is NOT 110 volts

                The US domestic supply is NOT 110 volts or even a simple 120 volts.

                It is 240 volts +/- 6% 2 phase plus Neutral. I.e. 2 x 120 volts are supplied, 180 degrees out of phase. Therefore low power devices run from 120 volts between one of the lives and Neutral and high power devices can run from 240 volts between the 2 live wires.

                Transformers are required relatively close to the points of use to deliver the 2 x 120 volts plus neutral without significant voltage drop. As most US domestic supply is from overhead cables in the street, large numbers of pole mounted transformers are needed to produce the domestic voltage from the much higher distribution voltage.

                1. HelpfulJohn

                  Re: US domestic supply is NOT 110 volts

                  " As most US domestic supply is from overhead cables in the street, large numbers of pole mounted transformers are needed to produce the domestic voltage from the much higher distribution voltage."

                  Which also allows for dramatic car-meets-pole-and-sparks-ensue suspense and dramatic tension events in thousands of movies and TV serials, where the hero-du-jour must save the tiny girl child, doggy, rabbit or floppy disc containing a ten-hour-long-video of the enemy's secret base before the petrol which inevitably spills into a stream leading to the sparking ignites and destroys the vehicle and contents.

                  These things rarely happen in sensible, small countries like UKland. We have a lot less fun.

                  1. WonkoTheSane
                    Facepalm

                    Re: US domestic supply is NOT 110 volts

                    "These things rarely happen in sensible, small countries like UKland. We have a lot less fun."

                    True. That's why no-one just crashes a car in the UK nowadays, they always have to flip it upside-down.

              5. uccsoundman

                .-> Let's not even get started on the US's weedy 110V system which means that an electric kettle draws so much current it melts wires. At least they finally settled on AC as a sensible system, despite Edison.

                We solve the electric kettle problem by not drinking tea. Of if we want tea (generally iced and sweet) we boil it on a stove.

                But don't forget about our other odd electrical voltages. My great-uncle's farm ran on 32 volts DC. His lights were all 32 volt. You could even get a vacuum tube "farm radio" that ran off 32 volts. The system was charged by a windmill. I was a tiny boy when I saw it so take my observations with a grain of salt.

              6. Number6

                No, they just restrict kettles to 1.5kW, 15A from the weedy volts. Means it takes over twice as long to boil water for a cuppa.

                Then, because it's a spur system, you find you've plugged the kettle and microwave into the same circuit and the 20A breaker trips, whereas a 30A UK ring main would cope. In many US kitchens you find all the convenient sockets are on the same circuit, which makes it all too easy to do this.

            2. Alan Bourke

              And their plugs are crap

              And their plugs are crap

              1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

                Re: And their plugs are crap

                I concur. But American plugs are superior in one respect: they cause much less pain when you tread on them.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: And their plugs are crap

                  It gets interesting when you then look at what Thailand did: they use those US plugs and sockets, but for 220..240V and sometimes for a lot more amps than they were designed for.

                  First of all, the insulation isn't really up for that, secondly, at +200V being touchable is really a bad idea and thirdly they also add to thet extreme heat which tends to do a number on cable insulation (and, as a bonus feature, they also have the occasional seasonal little bouts of rain called monsoons to help conductivity where it really should not exist).

                  I installed an RCD at a place for a test, and replaced a LOT of gear before it stopped tripping. Scary stuff.

                  1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                    Re: And their plugs are crap

                    It gets interesting when you then look at what Thailand did: they use those US plugs and sockets, but for 220..240V and sometimes for a lot more amps than they were designed for.

                    Those sockets will also happily accept euro-plugs and those are designed for that kind of voltage.

                2. mark4155

                  Re: And their plugs are crap

                  Indeed, as a victim to the upturned plug injury the UK plug has a lot to answer for.

                  But which is the safest in electrical terms? A debate on this issue is called for!

                  Toodle Pip!

                  Renrut Kram. (Courtesy of Regomiser) - Never knowingly undersold [TM]

                  1. katrinab Silver badge

                    Re: And their plugs are crap

                    British is definitely safest, but I do quite like the Italian three pin design.

                  2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

                    Re: And their plugs are crap

                    The plug is designed to teach you not to leave the stupid thing lying about where it can be stepped on. You only make the mistake two or three times at most.

                    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                      Re: And their plugs are crap

                      you only make the mistake with an australian side entry plug ONCE - they can draw blood. UK plugs only inflict bruising

                  3. gnasher729 Silver badge

                    Re: And their plugs are crap

                    Which is safest? The UK _plugs_ are safest. On the other hand, in Germany you will have a microsecond fuse. So you have an 11KWatt water heater in your shower without fear. It wouldn't have enough time (one microsecond) to hurt you.

                  4. Number6

                    Re: And their plugs are crap

                    If you look at a UK plug (and the socket) you can appreciate the safety features.

                    The flanges to make it hard for your fingers to slip around the sides and grip the live/neutral and yet easy enough to grip.

                    Earth pin on top, so if a plug is not fully in, anything dropping in the gap hits the earth before possibly contacting the live/neutral.

                    Sleeving on modern plugs to protect live/neutral even if not fully inserted.

                    The fuse (if sized correctly).

                    The socket has the shutters on it so it's hard for kids to poke things in (and why those plastic guards are dangerous)

                    Switch on socket to cut power to the live terminal

                    That's off the top of my head.

                3. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
                  Joke

                  Re: And their plugs are crap

                  @Hubert Cumberdale - "American plugs are superior in one respect: they cause much less pain when you tread on them."

                  True fact: UK plugs were developed from medieval caltrops. This is why we don't have the madness of more guns than people, intruders can be incapacitated by simply leaving plugs under easily-accessible windows. After incapacitation, the intruder can be further subdued by washing the wounds under the separate hot/cold taps. An Englishman's Home is his Castle!

            3. Imhotep

              US Residential Wiring

              I don't believe I've ever lived in a house with lighting and outlets on the same circuits.

              The outlet circuits generally have heavier guage cabling and a circuit breaker to match.

              1. Old Used Programmer Silver badge

                Re: US Residential Wiring

                Where I live, there are two switches at the bottom of the stairwell. One controls the lights for stairs. The other controls a power outlet in the room at the bottom of the stairs. I presume the intent was to plug in a floor lamp there. However, since that isn't how I use that outlet, and I don't own the house, I just put a commercial switch protector/guard on that switch.

                1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

                  Re: US Residential Wiring

                  That sounds like hotel wiring, as does turn-off-the-power-with-the-lights

                  How you're supposed to charge your laptop when you can't leave the power on is a mystery. Maybe use the fridge power.

                  1. mikecoppicegreen

                    Re: US Residential Wiring

                    Easy, that's what your Tesco loyalty card is for. Other cards may also work, but Tesco's is my go to card for hotel room power switches.

                    (yes, I know, the switch doesn't read the card, it's only a mechanical switch)

                  2. Terry 6 Silver badge

                    Re: US Residential Wiring

                    Done that, cos yes, it stays on. But the credit card in the box trick sounds better.

                2. katrinab Silver badge

                  Re: US Residential Wiring

                  In the UK we tend to use 5A round pin plugs for that.

                3. Number6

                  Re: US Residential Wiring

                  I do own the house. I took the switch plate off the wall and joined the wires together so the switch does nothing and the power to the socket stays on.

              2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: US Residential Wiring

                "I don't believe I've ever lived in a house with lighting and outlets on the same circuits."

                A _lot_ of US housing has the "light switch" wired to one or more wall outlets to enable floor lamps to be controlled as well as the ceiling light

          3. Jonathon Green

            Well yeah, but then things always get a bit messy infrastructure-wise in third-world countries…

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I'm in+from the US. Power and lighting really shouldn't be on the same breaker. And no, we don't connect things in rings. "Circuit" is generally used to refer to "what's connected to a breaker" rather than meaning "ring". So, my garage has 5 circuits - 1 for lights, 4 for outlets. None are rings. (I am NOT getting into the "which is better" argument, just stating what's used here.)

            The only semi-exception to "power and lighting shouldn't be on the same breaker" is an outlet intended for a floor lamp (and thus on the lighting circuit), as it's often controlled by a wall switch. They really should be clearly marked, but typically aren't. These seem to be more and more rare these days, though.

            1. Not Yb

              Went to what appears to be a recently built apartment complex recently. Bedroom has 3 switches on the wall. One controls ceiling [fan+light] power. Other two control one outlet on each side of the bed. Good luck putting an alarm clock near the bed, because the only other outlets are on the walls away from the bed.

              Electrical design isn't really that hard, but clearly the designer of this apartment only designed hotel rooms before.

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Rings were a good idea in an age of cooper shortage (ie, just after WW2) and should have stayed there

              There is no reason on earth they should have persisted past the 1970s and Radial circuits are the norm everywhere else in Europe.

              These days rings are mostly used as an excuse to fit as few breakers as possible to substandard housing whilst running as many sockets as possible on the ring (20 13A outlets on a 32A breaker isn't at all unusual)

          5. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Facepalm

            My last house in Canada, the wiring was very ad-hoc (& less than 10 years old), lighting & outlets shared the same breaker, the labels didn't tie up to what I was hunting for to shut down in order to work safely.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              In the days when I moved a lot, working out the association between breaker and what it controlled was step no1. The benefit of moving upmarket is that I'm now in places where someone has already done the work to a standard that I feel I can trust what is written :).

            2. Stoneshop Silver badge

              Hunting for the breaker

              The breaker panel in this house has individual GFCI/CB combos per circuit, twelve in all. The most certain way to switch off the right breaker is to create a ground fault in the circuit you need to work on.

              On a Benning Duspol circuit tester you'll find two buttons precisely for this purpose, and text on the breakers state that you should test them each month, so that's two birds with one stone.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Hunting for the breaker

                I have a AC circuit tracer as I have an older house with no GFCI breakers. You plug the one part into an outlet and then the other part tells you when it's close to the right breaker. Usually only beeps for 2 to 3 breakers.

                Close is good enough because when you turn off the right breaker the signal goes away.

          6. DS999 Silver badge

            Power and lighting together

            Not as much of a problem these days, assuming you have dumped the inefficient incandescents and gone LED.

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge

              Re: Power and lighting together

              Over here there is no inherent separation of lighting and wall socket circuits, at least for domestic buildings, but code prescribes that every room (excepting toilets, bathrooms and probably lit walk-in closets) should have two circuits feeding it.

              Offices will likely have them separated, primarily for maintenance and load distribution reasons.

              1. DS999 Silver badge

                Re: Power and lighting together

                That two circuit requirement sounds a bit odd. Why would a bedroom need more than one circuit? That's pretty much the standard in the US houses for "ordinary" (non master) bedrooms, with a single 20A/120v circuit in a bedroom, for both lighting and receptacles.

                1. Stoneshop Silver badge

                  Re: Power and lighting together

                  That two circuit requirement sounds a bit odd. Why would a bedroom need more than one circuit?

                  It's not that the average rooms (and bedrooms in particular) are power-hungry, but rather that you still have power to those rooms in case a fuse blows, and you're not left in the dark.

                  My hobby room has five. Plus a 3 phase 3x16A one.

                2. Imhotep

                  Re: Power and lighting together

                  Not in my house or others I've lived in. Outlets are generally on their own circuit with a 20amp breaker, lighting on it's own with a 15amp breaker.

                  I have seen lighting and outlet circuits shared between rooms.

                3. rcxb1 Bronze badge

                  Re: Power and lighting together

                  <blockquote>Why would a bedroom need more than one circuit?</blockquote>

                  Because any single power hungry device you might want to plug-in (like an electric space heater, a window AC unit, or kettle, etc) can draw the maximum current of a single circuit. With two circuits, you're much less likely to trip a breaker due to overloading a single circuit.

                  1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

                    Re: Power and lighting together

                    Or a ring main, like god's own country.

                  2. DS999 Silver badge

                    Re: Power and lighting together

                    You won't use a window AC or space heater in new construction in the US. And who is plugging a kettle in in a bedroom? OK, maybe it is an English thing, and few people in the US use an electric kettle anyway (we heat water on a stovetop or in a microwave)

                    1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

                      Re: Power and lighting together

                      Yes, well, few people in the US use an electric kettle because it's not possible to make a decent (and also safe) one for your weedy 110V. The hob takes ages in comparison. As for using the microwave to heat water, that's not only slow but also just a terrible idea.

                4. mikecoppicegreen

                  Re: Power and lighting together

                  The short answer is to reduce fire risk. a short in a light bulb, connected to a 30 A circuit, can cause ignition long before the circuit protection operates. the same short circuit in a 5A circuit is much more likely to cause the circuit protection to operate.

                  The other benefit is that the lights don't go out if the appliance circuit goes over current (like when my compressor trips out the circuit in my garage, and plunges me into darkness)

                  1. DS999 Silver badge

                    Re: Power and lighting together

                    I've never seen a circuit less than 15A in the US. Most residential circuits are 20A, with receptacles that don't allow plugging anything in that draws more than 15A.

                    The only exception are 220v circuits, which are only used for higher draw appliances and generally only found in the kitchen, garage. laundry and mechanical room/area.

                    1. VicMortimer

                      Re: Power and lighting together

                      It's been a long time since the US used 110V/220V. The standard is 120V/240V.

                5. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: Power and lighting together

                  "That two circuit requirement sounds a bit odd. Why would a bedroom need more than one circuit?"

                  It can be that all of the lighting for all of the bedrooms is on one circuit (breaker) and the outlets are on another up to limit set by code. These days it's handy to have each bedroom on it's own breaker since we all have more things to plug in. My house is a bit weird and I'm slowly redoing wiring so the kitchen has more circuits with properly sized wiring and the office is on its own as well.

            2. LisaJK

              Re: Power and lighting together

              Even with separate circuits for lighting and non lighting in the UK, RCDs are the most common cause of a trip and UK wiring regulations require 2 RCds now. One higher rated which everything goes through including the lighting and another lower rated (easier trip) on the non lighting circuits.

              Apparently there used to be more injuries due to people falling down stairs etc. in the dark due to RCD trips than electrocutions. Not sure if the stats were that stark but you get the idea!

          7. Norman Nescio Silver badge

            Circuits?

            In the US you ... don't have "circuits" everything is a spur.

            Cough. Perhaps you are confusing circuits and rings?

            Unless there are special circumstances*, you won't get a great deal of power flow without a circuit - most AC equipment requires at least two wires, often labelled live or phase; and neutral.

            Rings simply split the conductors used in a circuit such that the multiple conductors can take different paths from the distribution point to the load, allowing load-sharing across the conductors.

            NN

            *For example, when you are using an antenna; looking at one-half of a capacitor; or using an earth return.

          8. Asiren

            Yes, that genius system whereby the bedroom light switch controls the wall sockets by the bed, so when you turn off the lights to sleep, you also turn off your phone charger...

            This is because ceiling lighting apparently is too sophisticated a concept?

          9. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            We have proper circuits, just not your (incredibly dangerous and insane) rings that exist nowhere else in the world outside your little island.

            And our electrical code requires plug circuits be separated from lighting circuits - with an exception for rooms that do not have a ceiling light. That has to have have a switch controlling an outlet that is intended to be used for lighting purposes. It's incredibly uncommon in new construction, most rooms have a ceiling light.

          10. Spanners Silver badge
            Facepalm

            "you are only thinking in UK terms"

            It sounds like he is thinking on Developed World terms. The USA doesn't always follow those.

          11. Number6

            US wiring is a disaster

        2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
          Boffin

          You're assuming it was a lighting circuit. It's entirely possible that he was switching off a FCU and the lights had been tapped off a sockets circuit.

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            It probably was a lighting circuit. My house was built in the early 50s, in the living room I have a circuit that connects a switch near the hallway to the top outlet only of all four receptacles in the room. It was designed that way so you could plug in floor lamps and have them operated by a switch. If you want something to always have power you use the bottom outlet.

            Other rooms had an overhead light connected to the switch, so none of the outlets are switched. I guess floor lamps were popular in living rooms when it was built? Though possibly there is an electrical box hidden under the plaster on the ceiling that's also part of that switched circuit - I've never checked.

            I wonder if they had plugged the PC into the bottom outlet if it would have been fine. Maybe it was even installed that way originally, but at some point was plugged into the other outlet causing the problem described.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              " I guess floor lamps were popular in living rooms when it was built?"

              Very likely. I remember watching US TV shows here in the UK many years ago and it seemed whenever people wanted the lights on, they hit a wall switch and multiple floor and table lamps came on. It seemed very odd to my young mind because here, a wall switch turned on the ceiling light. Power points might have their own switch built in, but never a separate wall switch. Floor and table lamps plugged into wall points and had their own inline or fitting mounted switches. The downside of the UK system is you need to go around turning all the table/floor lamps on individually. The upside is you can't accidentally plug a vacuum cleaner into a lighting circuit.

              Of course, it's much simpler now. All you have to do is try to remember where you last left your phone, hunt it down, hope the battery hasn't died, click the app, select lighting, choose the room, click the icon, send a signal to a server in China which will then send a signal back across the world to turn the light on for you. Probably in the wrong "smart hue" because the AI guessed wrong about your mood. Progress, eh?

              1. dgeb

                As mentioned up-thread, we do have lighting sockets in the UK, 5A round-pin plugs (like theatre lights) which are attached to normal light switches. Absolutely ideal if you have a significant number of floor/table lamps. Not all that common in modern properties, though.

                The different socket design is the protection against attempting to use them for general purposes.

                1. VicMortimer

                  Our theatre lights use round pins too, but they're 20A connectors because before LEDs 1kW or higher lamps were common and it wasn't infrequent that two lights would be on the same circuit. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stage_pin_connector

        3. LisaJK

          Only in a UK domestic application

          In the UK, domestic lighting circuits are normally 6 Amps, with no ring. Therefore connecting '13 Amp' sockets could easily overload such a circuit.

          However in an industrial environment, the lights often require more than 6 Amps at 240 volts, therefore the light switch and circuit would either be heavier duty or be connected to the lights by a much higher rated relay and circuit, which could also be used for mains outlets.

          Other countries are different, the US has been mentioned, but there are so many examples. E.g. German domestic wiring is all 16 Amps, but most German houses are supplied with 3 phase, so high current devices like cookers are often 3 phase and there are no separate lighting circuits (mains sockets are often placed under light switches!). There are no ring mains in Germany, so all circuit breakers are 16 Amps and no fuses are required in mains plugs.

          On the subject of UK mains circuits... UK ring mains circuits are a dangerous anachronistic oddity which should be outlawed! Devised at a time when copper was in short supply, to reduce the amount of copper required to wire a house. Just consider what can happen to the 16A rated wire in a broken ring with a few electric fires connected on one side of the break!!! The 13A (or lower) fuses in UK mains plugs are only there because of the crazy domestic ring mains wiring, which could allow 32 Amps to flow through a faulty appliance.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Only in a UK domestic application

            UK ring mains are 24A or 32A for power sockets. A ring is only allowed to serve up to 100 Sq metres, after that you need a separate ring. Also, each floor will have it's own ring. High current device such as electric cookers or showers will have their own 30A spur. In more modern builds, the kitchen may have its own ring separate from the rest of that floor.

            I'm less happy about unfused devices on German spurs relying on a 16A breaker instead of a fuse rated properly for the device that is plugged in.

          2. ricardian

            Re: Only in a UK domestic application

            https://pics.me.me/guide-to-fuse-replacement-100-amp-1500-amp-2000-amp-2690315.png

        4. pakraticus

          The US allows wall switches to control receptacles for lamps. Often it'll be a two receptacle box with one always on and the other switched.

          1. Not Yb

            That'd be nice, but new US construction tends to cheap out on copper, and make both outlets switched.

            Source: An annoying day resetting an alarm clock until I could figure out which of the bedroom outlets were NOT switched.

            1. Been there, done that, it never ends

              Both outlets may be switched by default. I had that in my condo, built in 1998. However, there is a strip between the two outlets that may be cut. That leaves one outlet switched and one permanently powered.

        5. TRT Silver badge

          There are round pin 5A sockets for standard lamps that are switched. All perfectly legal but admittedly rare except in the high end housing arena.

      3. I Am Spartacus
        Flame

        Wiring games for fun and profit

        It's not just electrical wiring. I worked in one office that had two wings. Each wing had a thermostat, which controlled a heating system.

        Yes, you are way ahead of me, the left side thermostat was wired to the right side heating. So as one side was cold and turned the heating up, so the other side would get hot, and someone would turn the thermostat down. This went on for months, with the heating engineers coming in, getting the system balanced with everyone happy for a day or two, before the system just went in to chaos mode and the feedback loop either froze or boiled the office.

        Eventually a new bright spark figured out what was wrong. He asked if he should correct it. But the office manager was in a third building. "Naaa, leave it as it is - it's just too much fun fielding the complaints of these people". We eventually told both sides that if they felt cold, turn the heating DOWN, and it will get warmer. That worked. We explained that the heating controls were made for Australia and hence were upside down!

      4. HildyJ Silver badge
        Facepalm

        "Paul" should just be grateful that they didn't have the "eco" motion sensing switches.

        I remember when working late having to stand up and wave my hands in the air to turn them back on. Fortunately the computer power was on a different circuit.

        True ghosts in the wiring.

      5. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Where I work in a fairly new build school There’s a desk in my prep lab (school science tech) and through the connecting door in the storage room (racks of gratnell shelves) there’s a fixed built in desk, with no power supply anywhere near it. Except there is one on My side of the wall a double plug sitting unused.

        I had a very good look before coming to that conclusion.

        I have one of these motion sensors for lights. I can be stood at my workbench, back to the sensor working quietly away and the lights will go out. It is slow to respond. I can be inside the door, coat off and hung up before the lights come on.

        I would kill for a simple light switch, it can be a pull cord, I don’t care.

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Have I got this right, your work room has sockets, the storage room does not, or is that backwards... or you have sockets but not any wiring...

          Maybe you could install something that activates the motion sensor for your light. I'm thinking (1) a fan which turns from side to side, or (2) a sparkly disco ball next to the sensor, or (3) a shiny hanging decoration which might turn itself in the air current around the slightly hot light. Perhaps something like this?

          https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005002754722406.html

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Or just one day when nobody's looking change the switch to a regular one, discreetly dispose of the sensor, and disavow any knowledge of how it happened.

      6. Not Yb

        Place I worked had a switch on the assembly line to get attention from engineers to come fix whatever it was that stopped assembly.

        This switch was wired to a very bright blinking red light that was directly above the cubicle of one of the software engineers (who was not one of those who ever needed to go fix the assembly line). Whoops...

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I work in a room created by partitioning the floor. It has 2 rows of light fittings, the back row controlled from a switch outside across the 'corridor', the front row, erm, they run 24/7 because there was no obvious switch... but, no big deal, the security camera is not low-light.

        The mystery of the missing light switch was solved when they had to replace the switch in the corridor and the lights at the front of the room were off when sparkie left... turns out they are on the emergency lighting circuit and he had left the emergency lighting switched off

    2. chuBb.

      Hours of fun testing if mate is paying attention when doing an insulation resistance survey...

  2. Admiral Grace Hopper
    Mushroom

    Power socket on the lighting circuit?

    That rarely ends well.

    1. Def Silver badge

      Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

      It's pretty much standard practice in the US from what I've seen. They tend not to have wiring in the ceiling in favour of some sockets connected to the wall switches into which lamps are plugged.

      1. Simon Harris

        Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

        I remember back in the 70s my grandma still had extension cables with a lighting bayonet connector at one end and a round pin mains socket at the other.

        Considering she was still using round pin plugs and sockets then, I was surprised to see that BS1363 goes all the way back to 1947.

        1. JetSetJim

          Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

          Aren't the round 3-pin sockets supposed to be on low (5A) current circuits for lighting, anyway

          1. Simon Harris

            Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

            In the old days there were a variety of round pin plugs and sockets of various physical sizes, so you couldn’t plug the wrong class of appliance into the wrong circuit, with 2A, 5A, 15A and 30A being standard. Lights would be most likely on 2A and 5A.

            UK theatre lighting still uses the 15A socket as standard.

            1. xeroks

              Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

              Oh that's interesting. I have a garage with a round-pin socket and a meter that time forgot.

              I've wondered (because of the way the mains wiring is shared with neighbouring garages) whether there what the maximum power supply is supposed to be.

              Upgrading all the electrics is on a to-do list somewhere. If nothing else I need to know how limited that supply is before buying that electric car.

              1. Ivan Headache

                Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

                We have a car on order and we are told that the charger must be connected directly to the consumer unit via its own dedicated Type A RCD. It may also need to have something called a Garo or Matt:e earthing unit. The installation must be carried out by a suitably qualified installation technician who will issue a NICEIC certificate after testing and commissioning.

                We are allowed to connect the car via a long lead to a normal 13amp socket but the charging will take forever (so I'm told).

            2. Whiskers

              Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

              In the '60s we moved into a house in the UK with mixed 15A (each one individually wired to a big fuse board under the stairs) and 13A ring-main power sockets, plus 2A and 5A sockets wired to the lighting circuit in some rooms. I remember the 15A plugs had switches, whereas the 13A sockets had them - although some 13A plugs also had switches. The 2A and 5A sockets had no switches.

              It was handy being able to move table and standard lamps to different places in the room and still control all the lights from the switch by the door. There were a couple of non-switching 5A sockets too, for powering wireless sets. And there were hard-wired electric clock connectors too, I had one for my alarm clock. We had a large box full of assorted adaptors and extension leads.

              We also had a 'transformer' buzzing away all day and night, adapting the local 220V supply to the 240V used by the appliances we brought with us from the next county; that may have been a slick bit of salesmanship by the local electrician.

              In the '70s I worked in a '50s office building where the lack of power sockets for calculators had been ameliorated by wiring a 5A socket for each desk as a spur from the nearest original 13A socket So workers then built their own 5A to 13A adaptors so that we could use the power warts our calculators needed - each one of which had to be checked by the house electrician, and given a sticky label, along with instructions to hide all such adaptors at night to stop the cleaners from plugging their machines into them.

            3. LisaJK

              Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

              Not just the old days in the UK, still allowed in the wiring regulations. I have 5 Amps lighting sockets in my lounge and dining room, switched by the room lighting switches. very nice for standard lamps, table lamps etc.

          2. Ivan Headache

            Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

            "Aren't the round 3-pin sockets supposed to be on low (5A) current circuits for lighting, anyway"

            That might be the case now but.....

            The house I grew up it had round three-pin sockets (one per room - except the kitchen- which had none). They were 15amp, pretty chunky and made out of brown Bakelite by the MK Company.

            I think I had left home when the council replaced everything with 13amp sockets (mid- 60s).

            I remember many of my friend houses - and both my grandparents houses having bayonet splitters fitted into some of their light sockets. One of my uncles (who was quite flash & trendy (for the late 50s)) having an electric razor which he used to plug into one. I also remember electric irons plugged in to them too.

            Electricity was so much safer then - they used to insulate cables with lead sheathing.

        2. NXM

          Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

          There's an episode of Jeeves & Wooster where Jeeves is doing the ironing with the iron plugged into the ceiling bulbholder. Amazing peoples' houses didn't burn down.

          1. Whiskers

            Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

            My grandmother did that. Likewise the (1920s vintage) toaster. I suspect the wiring in that house was fairly rugged.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

              .. or grandma was.

              :)

              1. Whiskers

                Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

                Indubiitably! :))

            2. NXM

              Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

              I definitely think toasters should be on the breakfast table. Who wants cold toast when you can have it straight out of the toaster?

              1. fnusnu

                Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

                How far is your sideboard from the kitchen table? Do you live in Blenheim Palace?

            3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit? @Whiskers

              I would not bank on the wiring being that good.

              It used to be normal before PVC insulation for house wiring to have cotton covered rubber insulation, and over time the rubber perished and became brittle.

              My house, which is 100 years old, was re-wired with (then) modern wiring by the previous owner (but I probably need to think about having it re-wired again, considering how long We've lived here now).

              But I was surprised when I had to look at a ceiling light fitting that kept blowing bulbs, that there was some of the cotton covered rubber insulated wire feeding the ceiling rose from the lighting ring, and this appeared to sometimes make-and-break rapidly (and spark and burn the wiring).

              I don't know how this was overlooked in the previous re-wire (probably by a lazy electrician), but it was quickly ripped out and replaced, with a quick check of most of the rest of the wiring to make sure there was no more like it.

              1. Whiskers

                Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit? @Whiskers

                I can only report what I saw, I was a child at the time so wouldn't have been aware of what wasn't visible. I agree that old insulation can't be depended on.

                I've encountered some bad wiring since then, of course - including 13A ringmain sockets with no earth connection.

          2. Def Silver badge

            Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

            Yeah, there's a scene in an old movie (I think it was Get Carter) where the protagonist was using an electric shaver plugged into the light socket.

            Which always struck me as a bit odd. You can shave, or you can see what you're doing, but never shall you shave in the light.

            1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
              Headmaster

              Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

              Go to DisneyWorld and watch the Carousel of Progress.

              The early scenes (1930's I think, by not sure as it's been a while) has exactly that, with all the electrics coming from the light socket with wires going everywhere. How it was done back in the early days...

              1. Imhotep

                Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

                Our first house predated the electric era. The ceiling fixtures were hung from the gas pipe nipples,

                The walls were solid brick, so they had chiseled grooves up the wall, run the wire, then replastered over.

                It was an interesting rehab. They had removed the interior staircases to have a space to put in indoor bathrooms when they came in fashion, apparently at they same time they divided it in to flats.

                Needless to say, we had to replace all the systems: lead pipe plumbing, knob and tube wiring, no central HVAC or duct work.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

                  "The walls were solid brick, so they had chiseled grooves up the wall, run the wire, then replastered over."

                  Our Edwardian UK house had the wiring added on the surface of the wall's plaster - then covered with wooden mouldings. The switches were mounted on a wooden moulding too.

                  In a 1970s house neighbours were having their kitchen refurbished. There was a room-length horizontal groove at waist height in the plaster - containing standard appliance 3 core cable. Presumably they were going to fill it with Polyfilla afterwards.

              2. VicMortimer

                Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

                That was done because in some places the lighting was metered at a different lower rate than appliances, or in some cases even unmetered.

                If you connected your appliance to the light circuit, you saved money.

            2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

              Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

              its a movie, so it doesn't have to be practical.

              In real life, you'd have y-shaped adapter in your light fitting with a bulb in one branch and optionally a shaver/iron/toaster/arc furnace in the other.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

                Those were days when the 5A fuse would keep blowing. Solved by using a nail instead of fuse wire.

              2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

                "In real life, you'd have y-shaped adapter in your light fitting with a bulb in one branch and optionally a shaver/iron/toaster/arc furnace in the other."

                My dad had a load of those adaptors in the garage for some inexplicable reason. The family had moved into a nearly new house when I was only 6 months old in the early 60's so there was no need for them. Maybe he needed them in the flat we'd moved out of? Anyway, I used to have great fun connecting them up in different ways to make strange looking models and sculptures. Sort of Lego Duplo for toddlers before Duplo was a thing :-)

            3. Whiskers

              Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

              There were Y-shaped lamp socket adaptors so that you could plug your shaver/iron/toaster into one side and an incandescent bulb into the other. Or indeed have a 'tree' of Y adaptors plugged into each other and various appliances all running at once from the light socket ... I've seen it done, in an old house with no power sockets in the kitchen but one central light fitting. I associate the crackle of the electricity with the paraffin (kerosene) fumes from the room heater/stove.

          3. Stoneshop Silver badge

            Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

            There's an episode of Jeeves & Wooster where Jeeves is doing the ironing with the iron plugged into the ceiling bulbholder.

            Somewhat recently came across an iron that was apparently meant to connect to a lighting circuit. A gas (UK, not US) circuit, as it still had a small length of a now crumbly and brittle hose fitted. Another one had a small petrol tank. I knew of coal-fired ironing irons, but these were new to me although their existence wasn't very surprising.

            1. JamesTGrant
              Thumb Up

              Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

              Aahhh thank you!

              My grandparents (long since past away) had a electric iron that had a small push/twist light bulb socket-shaped plug on the end of the attached braided (not very) flex. I never realised til right now that it wasn’t due to my grandfather’s creativity. It’s genius!!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

              The coal fire in the living room served many purposes. One of which was to heat the solid iron for ironing clothes**. It even heated my father's soldering iron - which was probably designed for mending pots but saw service for my valve radio repairs. Then I grew rich enough to buy a 25w Henley Solon.

              ** there was a temperature test where you spat on the iron's flat surface. If the bubble skittered across the surface then the iron was hot enough for most fabrics..

          4. LisaJK

            Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

            Electricity was only supplied for lighting originally as no other appliances existed. Therefore all early appliances used the light sockets to power them.

          5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

            "Amazing peoples' houses didn't burn down."

            They did! That's why the government put out Public Information Films on TV warning people about using multiple adaptors and extensions.

            I can't find the one I remember, but hours of fun and education can be found at the BFI and National Archive sites :-)

            Nostalgia for us oldies and some WTF? Really? moments for the younger readers :-)

      2. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

        It's pretty much standard practice in the US from what I've seen. They tend not to have wiring in the ceiling in favour of some sockets connected to the wall switches into which lamps are plugged.

        And also in hotel rooms both in the US and Europe, where they insist on only having standard lamps and uplighters rather than vaguely useful stuff like a light in the ceiling so you can actually see anything. And those lamps and uplighters are of course all powered off special sockets which link to random light switches in various places around the room.

        Always fun when those sockets are used for plugging in other stuff (and also when the cleaners seem to play games of swapping what's plugged in where, presumably either so they can power their hoovers etc or just for their own amusement) and you end up with a laptop that hasn't charged as it was plugged into such a socket that was turned off as the light switch was off...

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Hotel lighting switches.....

          We don't have to use hotels for business, just leisure trips from time to time. And working out how to switch the right lights off, from the right part of the room is always a f***ing stupid rigmarole.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hotel lighting switches.....

            In the 1970s I stayed in an old pub B&B overnight. The bedroom's added power point - a standard square-pin 13A socket - was under the bed. Obviously very inconvenient for the cleaner's hoover. There was an extension to it on another wall - joined to the first by twisted pair bell wire running along the top of the skirting board.

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Hotels

          Or they use access cards which you're expected to slide into a slotted device inside the room when you're in, enabling power to every light and socket. Fortunately those slots just have a microswitch at the bottom, and any credit card sized object will do. So you just insert some ancient and worthless loyalty card, and the power stays on to charge your gear while you're out.

      3. Robert Helpmann??
        Flame

        Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

        It's pretty much standard practice in the US from what I've seen.

        And it's annoying as hell! I always felt like this was some do-it-yourselfer's idea of the way to do things, but for some unknowable reason it caught on. Even more annoying is the lack of any indication a particular wall socket is wired in this manner. How to tell what wall switch goes to what thing? Switch them off and on then when some do nothing, run around the room searching for outlets, plug something into them, rinse and repeat. Still can't find the match? Open the wall switch to see if anything is actually connected or call in an electrician because at that point it is probably safer than finding out yourself what else is done badly.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

          Not necessarily done "badly", just in a frustrating manner. Doubly so since some duplex outlets can be powered from two different sources - one controlled by wall switch, the other always-on and fed from a different breaker. So every individual outlet has to be checked, meaning both in each duplex outlet.

          1. Wormy

            Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

            I strongly dislike having them fed by alternate circuits, but there are places where switches outlets are incredibly handy... as one example, I installed one at my old place (in the traditional US manner, with the top outlet switched and the bottom outlet hard-wired) on the porch, to connect Christmas lights. When it's cold and wet out, sometimes I don't even want to open the door to unplug them, and it's also handy I can connect them to an in-wall timer switch if I want.

            As far as connecting the two outlets to different circuits... I don't think it's against NEC (though I'm not sure), but I would have to think really hard to come up with a good reason for it. The only one I can think of is if one expects to run high-current equipment on both outlets at the same time, it could make sense to cable them back to separate breakers... perhaps in an over-spec'd garage or a kitchen with lots of appliances, for example. Then I could run the kettle and an instant pot or high-power mixer at the same time, off the same outlet, without fears of tripping a breaker. But I (personally) still wouldn't do it that way.

            1. VicMortimer

              Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

              Oh, it's very much fine as far as the code is concerned, that's why outlets have break-off tabs that let you separate the top from the bottom.

        2. Roger Mew

          Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

          When on my apprenticeship, another guy lived in a line of houses called in the UK a terrace. Now he decided to change his wall outlet for a double in his bedroom. Being an apprentice he shut down the whole house, took the old single gang socket off and got an electric shock. It transpired his socket was on next doors power circuit and theirs was on his!

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

            Very like when I replaced the switches in my flat 30 or so years back. Previous owner had his mother in the flat above and had wired the hall switch in the downstairs ( become my) to the circuit upstairs. Luckily, being paranoid about stuff that I can't see, but can be killed by, I always test everything before I touch it.

      4. Swarthy Silver badge

        Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

        I have seen it as a "standard" practice, but only in apartments (flats) and other rental units. This is to allow the renter to change lighting (an easy way to personalize the space) with out risking damage to the unit.

        It also make evictions cleaner - you can throw out (or return) the lamps, but it gets messy when the renter wants their ceiling fan back after you've punted them.

      5. Imhotep

        Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

        I've never lived in a house without wiring in the ceiling, but I've seen a few houses wired that way - generally cheaper construction.

        There was a period during the 70s and early 80s (the "malaise" period) where you saw some incredibly shoddy construction: aluminum wiring that ended up causing a lot of fires and 2"x2" studs used for interior walls. You could actually see those walls flex when you shut a door.

        1. CuChulainn Silver badge

          Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

          A friend of mine told me a story years ago about when he'd bought a new-build, having moved from a very old and sturdy brick-build (as in, bricks for the inside walls as well as outside). And I know he embellished it, but it just makes me smile when I think of it.

          His wife wanted a cork board putting up in the kitchen, so he got his trusty hammer drill out and got ready to put some screw holes into the wall before Rawl-plugging them.

          He told me he braced himself to push, powered on the drill, and next thing he knew he was lying on the sofa in the sitting room, having gone through the dry wall.

          Fair enough, he did get a hole both sides, but he did damage the entire wall.

    2. chivo243 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

      I am constantly dodging the power outlets that are connected to the lighting system since the LED lighting came into our building... the electricians\company that brought them didn't realize we had projectors and speakers connected to the groups they pinched for this project. Only took us about 2 minutes to figure out the dodgy work and by pass it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

      In many places I've been in Switzerland you'll find a multi-socket (usually with 3 sockets due to how the Swiss plugs are shaped) with one of the sockets being hooked up to the nearest light switch. As far as I can tell, the idea is to allow you to connect standing lights and so on so they'll follow the main light switch, but the first time you plug something in you may end up with a surprise.

      Not a bad idea IMHO, you just have to know about it :).

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

        Quite a few older Swiss places have sockets which are partially supplied by one of the wires in the lighting circuit in the ceiling. You need to complete the circuit using one of those little block things evening if you don't have a light in the ceiling.

  3. Bogbody

    Ghostly PFY

    My local petrol station has a ghost called "Naughty Nigel". He's the one that stops things working for a fuel buying petson but allows it to work perfectly for an employee -- as witnessed last night with a fuel pump and card reader (with a long queue behind of course) :-)

  4. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Any time...

    And go wrong they did. At a most inconvenient time.

    There's any other time in such situations???

  5. chuBb.

    How on earth did they manage to take a spur off the lighting loop?

    I mean I've seen it done by Weekend warriors and day 1 apprentices but in a factory, you usually have sparkys who can at least tell by the wire guage they are doing something dumb....

    Tale doesn't quite add up..., most plausible explanation is that there was a fused spur switch next to light switch and eco foreman got a bit flick happy

    1. Alister

      Because US...

      They don't have the same separation that we do in the UK between lighting and power.

      1. disgruntled yank

        Because US?

        I am a native of the US, with quite a few years under my belt, and don't remember cases where power outlets and light were controlled by the same switch. The same circuit yes, so that the sockets and lights go dead when you flip a breaker.

        1. Nightops25

          Re: Because US?

          Switched outlets are quite common in the US. More for residential than commercial though. It is for controlling lamps of the table or floor variety at a conveniently placed switch next to a doorway instead of having to walk through a dark room to turn the lamp on, or to navigate out after turning it off. If you have multiple major ingress/egress points, then you use 3-way switches so that a single throw of either switch can toggle the lights/outlet.

          I would imagine the OP's case was more by accident than design though

      2. chuBb.

        Regardless of location the difference in wire guage and the fact that a socket was coming off of a switch live is a dead giveaway you read the wiring chart backwards.

        Dont get me started on the US's earth optional wiring, running light and socket spurs off of a single circuit is the least of their problems.

        Yes could be a switched faceplate, but that would be really really REALLY out of place in an industrial control room, which circles back to USUALLY sparkys who work or do work in factories are at the "less lethal to selves and others" end of the spectrum, usually....

        1. Imhotep

          As far as I know, it's been quite a while since ground has been optional.

          I don't know if you can still buy an outlet without a ground anymore, but you can still buy ungrounded extension cords for those ungrounded outlets.

          1. VicMortimer

            You absolutely can, and if there isn't a ground available they're what you should use. Leviton part # ‎C21-00223-00I

            And no, it's not legal to use that in new construction, they're only for replacement of existing ungrounded outlets.

      3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Actually over here some outlets are switched while others are always live. The switched ones are used for table lamps. Most rooms will have a mix of both so some devices are not switched on/off with the light. The circuit will be wired back the circuit breaker box.

      4. Martin

        There is a 1957 film called 12 Angry Men starring Peter Fonda - well worth seeing, btw. It's set in a jury room, and it's a hot afternoon, and the electric fan doesn't work. Then a thunderstorm breaks, it gets dark, they switch on the lights in the room - and the fan starts to work.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          1. Martin
            Happy

            You are absolutely right :)

          2. Imhotep

            But Peter was angry too.

  6. TheGriffin

    Sleep.....

    Just like the olden days when you have installed a new automation system and the build and FAT team forgot to disable hibernation and sleep modes.

    That awful sound of motors and pumps slowing down, and tssst as valves open and close...... 10 mins after you left the rack room.

    1. Mishak Silver badge

      Fuel pumps

      Reminds me of one from many years back when loads of fuel pumps stopped working on the same day.

      Engineer was sent out to investigate, plugged in a keyboard and screen* to see a dialog box along the lines of "Daylight saving has ended" with an "OK" button - turns out Windows 95 wasn't really up to being used as an embedded OS...

      *or equivalent

      1. UCAP Silver badge

        Re: Fuel pumps

        ... or anything else

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Fuel pumps

          ... or anything else

          Not true, it was perfectly capable of delivering on the chorus line of "Start Me Up", to which the rights to use it for the commercial were bought.

          1. Dave Pickles

            Re: Fuel pumps

            But for some reason they didn't include the last line of the verse:

            "You make a grown man cry"

            1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

              Re: Fuel pumps

              That was implied ..

            2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

              Re: Fuel pumps

              It didn't work for long enough to play the last line

              1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                Re: Fuel pumps

                It didn't work for long enough to play the last line

                Not a real problem if you already had the song on CD (or vinyl or tape), sound quality was also better that way.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    wiring oddities

    In a previous company, I was shocked (literally) that, wearing a big wool jumper, and sport shoes, I had constant electrical shocks when touching the coffee machine.

    After a while, I was grounding myself to the stove of the kitchen before even approaching the coffee machine.

    Didn't work, still a 100 V or similar big electrical shock ... WTF ?

    Yep, you guessed it correctly, the stove was plugged to an outlet belonging to another distinct part of the building, apparently not of the same generation.

    And yes, the electricians neglected connecting the 2 buildings grounds together. There was dozens of volts between the grounds of the 2 buildings !

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: wiring oddities

      ... or as we were told at a seminar on grounding/earthing practices...

      "There is no such thing as earth potential"

      repeated after each example of things that can (will) go wrong.

    2. swm Silver badge

      Re: wiring oddities

      When they were remodeling our office building we were housed in a set of trailers with power, ethernet etc. This left a spare set of offices for people to move into progressively as the building was remodeled. When the remodeling was done we moved back into our new offices.

      Everything seemed to work except the image on the CRT displays in the trailers were vibrating at about 5 cycles per second. Clearly a magnetic field somewhere. After much trouble shooting with a coil of wire we discovered that someone had switched the neutral and ground on one of the fluorescent lights and there was a 4 ampere current flowing between the neutral and ground between the building and the trailers.

      Now that we have flat displays there would be no problem except for a safety hazard.

      1. Simon Harris
        Coat

        Re: wiring oddities

        ‘Vibrating CRT’...

        When I was a medical electronics student the image on the CRT used to get twisted out of shape. I was going to send it back as defective until I discovered the hospital’s MRI scanner was directly above my lab, two floors away.

        Lab coat —->

        1. Evil Scot
          Boffin

          Re: wiring oddities

          I see your MRI and raise you a VT220 monitor and a lift motor.

          Haven't worn glasses behind a screen for 32 years.

          Icon = I have been wearing them since I started programming a VAX 11-750

    3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: wiring oddities

      There was dozens of volts between the grounds of the 2 buildings !

      Often unnoticed in the past until Ethernet arrived, and someone ran a coax cable between the buildings. A few volts earth difference between network equipment cases, a nice low-resistance path along the sheath of the coax, and no fuses in the circuit. The result was spectacular melting of many power & network cables upon connection.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: wiring oddities

        Oh, it *was* noticed.

        My first job was at Data General, designing communications hardware (specifically, terminal multiplexor boards). We had lots of trouble in EU companies, where they would have the computer in one building and the terminals in the office area in another building. Each building, of course, had its own AC ground, and never the twain shall meet.

        RS232 transceivers don't tolerate much in the way of common mode voltage differential, and DC and AC grounds were commonly connected together within our machines. Cue lots of blown up 1488 and 1489 chips. One common means of mitigation was the optical isolation box. There was (and still is, I believe), a company called Black Box who made a good living out of selling these, and handy little adapters like them.

        Of course, Ethernet is all well isolated, but even still, if the shield on the thick yellow cable is grounded to building ground at both ends, and each end is in a separate building...undoing the N connectors in the middle could result in an unpleasant surprise for the tech who isn't wearing insulating gloves.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: wiring oddities

          Upvote just for the Black Box mention. I've replaced many a Black Box chip in one particular piece of equipment; apparently a nearby lightning strike would generate enough voltage (due to crazy long wires) to blow JUST the chip, but that would preserve the rest of the equipment!

    4. lt91

      Re: wiring oddities

      It was/is likely not permitted to connect the two grounds together because this might cause unintended ground circuit current flow. Having two different appliances at the same location on two diff circuits with different major power sources/boxes is a no-go

    5. Rob Daglish Bronze badge

      Re: wiring oddities

      I worked for a while in a school that had a fridge which did something similar in shocking anyone who touched it.

      I got asked to investigate as it was next to a network cab for that section of the school, and they were worried the IT kit was shorting out. There was no physical connection between the two apart from being on the same wall, and they were fed from separate circuits.

      I called the local sparky, who laughed, up until he opened the fridge and got shocked as well. We eventually discovered that to make life easier, whoever installed the electrical conduit had bent it into shape (metal conduit, see?) so they could drill through the floor about two inches from the wall. Someone had them put the fridge on top of the metal conduit with its levelling feet jacked up so it sat just above it, and over time, it had worn through the conduit and the insulation on a conductor inside the conduit, making the metal body of the fridge live…

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: wiring oddities

        You just reminded me of my student accommodation one year (late 70s). Owner had done his own wiring. I noticed a faint tingle touching the fridge in my room. Others were getting actual shocks from various metal switches etc. I decided to investigate ( my dad had taught me well about such stuff). And this arsehole had reversed live and neutral in some parts of the house.

  8. Notrodney

    I had a small customer in the Caribbean many years ago that had a problem with SQL back ups not running. They were scheduled to run at night, same as every other customer. Turned out they didn't have mains power, they ran on a generator - which they shut down every night when they finished work. Normally our implementation engineers are on site till the place closes, so he should have seen it... however I'm guessing the call of paradise was stronger than the desire to work stupid hours.

    1. CuChulainn Silver badge

      Off-topic a little, but I went over to Karachi to manufacture a particular licensed tablet (as in drug) for the first time outside the UK.

      It was bad enough that the product was hygroscopic, and Karachi is famed for both the humidity at certain times of the year, and the dearth of air-conditioners except in the hotels. I was there during such a period of humidity (I'll never forget the wall of heat that hit me when I walked off the plane).

      The factory we had out there was no different as far as A/Cs went, so we pulled in a portable unit to minimise the problems. I finally got several batches made, but then had to get them dissolution-tested to make sure they met the product specification. Since they were a sustained-release product, the test had to run for hours.

      And Karachi is (or was) also famed for the reliability of its complete power outages around the same times every day, with a randomisation factor layered on top, which killed the test dead, so it had to be started all over again.

      And the factory was so big, generators were a no-no.

      As an aside, I remember being driven home each evening, and one day a dead donkey appeared on the side of the road. It was there each subsequent day, and I noted that its legs expanded from the carcass a little more each day as it bloated. By the last day, it looked like a Sputnik.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        the last day before you went home, or the last day before it exploded / shot into orbit ?

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Pop the Dead Donkey?

  9. Richard Tobin

    Magic / more magic

    An old story from the jargon file:

    http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/magic-story.html

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Magic / more magic

      First saw that {mmfty}{mmmf} years ago - never forgot it!

    2. stiine Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Magic / more magic

      Read to the bottom of the story and click on the link to the Manual for that computer.... If you read through it you'll come to the following statement:

      "For instance, the stored program computer LGP-30 can execute over 400 additions per second,"

      Sounds like bragging, to me...

  10. Karl Vegar

    Way back when...

    We were updating from Win XP to 7, and to lesse the inconvinience, we were updating in place.

    Most of the time this worked just fine.

    And then, we hade one site, where the road warriors where called in to, to get their laptops updated overnight. And a lot of them failed at various times in the evening. Somewhere between 19:15 and 20:20 or something like that.

    OK, image as new, and hear the users complain. This happened with a lot, but not all of the laptops whenever we tried to mass update at that site.

    Turns out that as a eco initiative, the desks were setup with regular and green outlets. The green outlets where ment for desk lamps, phone chargers and such, and to power to these would be cut when the office was empty. Fair enough. And the laptops connected to these outlets would then lose power, but since they had "buildt in UPS", they would go down at some later time, depending on the state of the battery.

  11. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    This story reminds me of something I heard on the radio back in about 2003-2004. Apparently, there was a supermarket where the staff who worked overnight reported an odd occurrence.

    At some point during the night, every checkout would shut down, then start playing "Love Me Tender" . They would all do it at the same time. No doubt some of the staff believed it was the 2nd coming of Elvis, but the real world explanation was a little simpler.

    The checkouts were running a debug version of the software. This software, presumably as a way of notifying the tester than any overnight processes that needed to be run were being run (or had completed), played "Love Me Tender" on the checkout's beeper. Makes sense. After all, if you are testing the software in a room full of machines, you need a quick way to identify which machine is doing what. Incidentally, according to one of the developer for Windows, this is precisely why when Windows blue screens, the normal interface vanishes and is replaced by an error. When testing Windows, they needed a quick way to identify which machines had blue screened, and could do so with a glance if the interface vanished to be replaced with an error.

    That said, I'm not sure sound is the best way to notify a user what a group of machines is doing. If they all play the same song at the same time, it'd get confusing. Much better to do something like change the colour of the LCD background..

    As I said, it was 20 years ago, so what I remember is a little hazy, and the DJ that told the story wouldn't have included any technical details anyway.

    1. Rob Daglish Bronze badge

      I worked with a team developing some proxy servers for schools. During dev, they programmed them to play the death march if something failed, so they could quickly identify which box had failed. This was quite funny until they mentioned the idea of audio alerting in a meeting, and all agreed it would be a good idea for schools to be able to hear if the box failed, but that it couldn’t play the death march as it might be upsetting for anyone who had recently experienced a death.

      Cue 6 months of meetings discussing this issue, with the end result nobody came up with anything better, so off they went, making exactly the same noise…

    2. wjake

      Not Love Me Tender

      But Aura Lee, or Laura Lee, a American Civil War song frequently used for fraternity/sorority themes and barbershop quartet-style harmonies, mainly because the copyright has expired and the song is now in public domain. Love Me Tender is not, and they would owe beaucoup royalties!

      /pedant

  12. Gene Cash Silver badge

    How the hell does someone become foreman w/o a sense of cause & effect?

    That guy wouldn't last an hour around here.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: How the hell does someone become foreman w/o a sense of cause & effect?

      Cause and effect doesn't apply to computers if a corporate IT dept is involved.

      It's one of those universal whats-names

    2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: How the hell does someone become foreman w/o a sense of cause & effect?

      No, he's fine.

      Cause : computer is fucked

      Effect : Hell desk man comes

  13. jollyboyspecial Bronze badge

    Sounds like a case of the wrong switch. I've come across similar before.

    A depot I used to support had a small portacabin as the office. This cabin had one desk with a computer, a phone and a printer plus the overhead light. That was the extent of the electrickery in the "office". There was just enough room in there for a the desk and chair and a small comfy chair for visitors.

    So one day we got a ticket that the PC was very slow to respond. Service desk asked what they meant by "slow to respond" the site manager said it took ages to open email. The only application he used most of the time. The RJ45 connected to the main depot building in which was an aging Cisco 1700 series router with a pitifully slow ADSL connection. Quite why the router was in the main building and the PC outside in a cabin I know not, but that's how it was set up. Anyway the connection was so slow that remote controlling the PC to investigate simply wasn't an option.

    So I traipsed out to site. The manager was sitting at the desk when I arrived. I asked him to close and re-open the email app which it did pretty quickly. He opened an exiting email without issue. I sent him an email from my phone and there was no real problem there even given his very slow connection. So I asked if this was a continuous problem or intermittent. He explained that the specific issue was that he spent a lot of time out in the depot, but each time he came back to the office it would take an age to open his email app to check his emails. I asked why he was closing the application every time he left the office. Could he not just lock his PC? He denied that he was closing the application.

    I was racking my brains to wonder what he was doing. Could he be opening a new instance of the application every time he came back to the office? Maybe the rather crappy old PC was simply running out of memory. So I decided to get him to show me the issue. I suggested we go for a walk and then he could demonstrate. So he stood up and hit the "light" switch. Off went the light and I could hear the PC fans spinning down under the desk.

    I looked at the switch. It wasn't a light switch, but a fused spur switch, half way down some trunking that ran from the double socket by the desk to the ceiling. More trunking ran across the ceiling to the light. And further trunking ran along the top of the wall at ceiling level to the corner behind the door. From there more trunking ran down the wall and disappeared behind a coat on a hook. That switch was cutting the power to everything in the cabin. I checked outside and sure enough overhead power, ethernet and phone cable ran the few feet from the main building to the corner where the trunking terminated. The power ran down to that switch. The power also rain to the light fitting and then in traditional style a cable ran from the fitting back through the trunking to a switch hidden behind the coat and a hi-viz jacket. The coat was the manager's the hi-viz had been there since the day he began work at the site and he'd never thought to move it.

    He had genuinely never noticed the light switch and was using that fused spur switch to turn the lights on and off.

    Quite why that fused spur switch had been installed at light switch height I don't know. But his predecessor had managed to set up the PC to auto logon. What he saw as it taking ages to open email was the PC booting up and logging in and then him opening the email app.

    We'd have noticed the issue much sooner if the router had been sited in the logical place rather than on a little shelf in the depot toilet (yes really). We monitored all the routers with SNMP, so had the router been in the office we'd have seen it powering down several times a day.

    So I got onto facilities and had the cabin wired properly with it's own little dis board. As a courtesy I also got the bloke a decent up to date PC as the one he had looked about ten years old. Unfortunately there was not much I could do about the DSL connection on a line that was about 7km long.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      You puzzled me for a minute. The curious incident of the router in the lunch time was that nothing went wrong with the router at lunch time, or at any other time. If the router was in the cabin, then you would see the router being switched off with everything else, and you would have chased that issue sooner.

  14. Charlie van Becelaere

    Deja Vu

    I had nearly the same experience at my father's house recently.

    His garage door opener suddenly decided to stop working. Neither the remote control nor the keypad outside could make the thing budge an inch.

    I returned the next day to see if a power outage had erased the codes or some such, only to be asked, "Is the light switch turned on in the garage?"

    Yes, there's a light switch that also turned off the power to the outlet wherein that motor was plugged. A bit of tape to prevent its being toggled accidentally was applied, and all has been well since.

    I suppose that could be a security feature, as it's only operable when a switch inside the house it thrown, but it's more inconvenient than I want to deal with.

    1. Martin
      Happy

      Re: Deja Vu

      We had the opposite problem. In a rented house, the circuit breaker tripped for the electric garage door, so we couldn't get into the garage. Never mind, we thought - just have to reset the circuit breaker. Guess where it was?

    2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Deja Vu

      My wife worked with a woman years ago who married a country squire and moved to the Big House. One day he was out and she was wandering around the mansion looking in rooms, wings etc that were unused. She found a complete catering kitchen, not in use, and noticed the power was on to the room so turned it off.

      She continued to wander but the phone rang so she broke off to pick it up. On the other end of the line was a voice: “you turned off the switch, didn’t you”

      Turned out it was somehow the master switch for a number of houses In the village.

  15. Harrier

    Light Sensors

    Had great fun when they put motion sensing lights in our office.

    Used to strut down the office doing a "staying alive" dance if I was the first one in, until security told me they enjoyed my dancing

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Light Sensors

      "doing a "staying alive" dance if I was the first one in"

      Try humming the "Get Smart" theme. Especially if there's auto-opening doors.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Light Sensors

        Have you seen the video to Fat Boy Slim ft. Bootsy Collins, "Weapon of Choice"?

        Christopher Walken. Dancin. And more, watch to the end!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Many years ago I worked out a program to run some machines on this texas instrument unit. Then, after saving the company many thousands, they made me redundant. Not good, I had moved to where this company was, had a new baby and worse there was a recession. However, not only did I program a new years day shut down on all the machines, I changed the programmer so that the timer was swapped with the counter switch. Some 18 months later I met a driver from the company, the machines never ran again after January the first, and to add insult to injury, technology moved on and whilst the product is still in use, the company was forcefully acquired by another company and was moved. The site has now been covered in houses, and all the plant disseminated and those that made me redundant were also made redundant and from what I gleaned as they were not au fait with modern tech took a long time to find a job. Me, I eventually started my own company away from my old area. Moral, do not get rid of those that save you millions but get rid of those that seem to kow tow to bosses and cushy up to them.

  17. philstubbington

    Reminds me of a company I worked at years ago where a colleague from Canada thought plugging his shaver in to charge using an adaptor was a good idea. Considering it was an electronic component distributor you might have thought he would know better

  18. herman Silver badge

    Lamp Standard socket.

    In some rooms one wall socket is wired for a standing lamp.

  19. msobkow Silver badge

    I remember rescuing a foreman's reports from a floppy with the old Norton utilities in the Win 3.11 days.

    He gave everybody except us grief. Not only was it clear we knew what we were doing, we'd saved his bacon - twice (the second time is another tale for another time.)

    BTW, he lost one report to that virus. We got back the other 43. :)

    After that he kept copies in multiple floppies, and didn't switch to the backup when he had a problem unless we *told* him to.

    Considering there was no internet and how secure the shop floor was, it amazes me that we still got viruses...

  20. Dr_N Silver badge

    Sockets wired through light switches?

    That's standard in France. No ceiling lights but one or two sockets through the room switch. Very annoying.

    1. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Re: Sockets wired through light switches?

      That's standard in France.

      It isn't. It's against the regulations (see AFNOR NF C 15-100). If in your place it's done this way, you can complain to the landlord.

      1. Dr_N Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Sockets wired through light switches?

        It's in every apartment I've rented, ever. Maybe I'm renting them wrong?

  21. DavyPaul
    Facepalm

    the assistant treasurer and chief rent accountant did the same...

    the assistant treasurer & the rent accountant wanted to work the weekend, to extract IDMS database date onto the unix machine for further processing.

    (ICL S39 & ICL DRS6000)

    However, they were not willing to pay me the overtime to set them up for the day, so they worked in the (converted stables) datacentre unaccompanied.

    Naturally, they wanted a cup of tea, but unfortunately moved the kettle from the dataprep area closer to where they were working.

    Anyway, said kettle was boiled, but they overfilled it and caused it to short-out. This caused the circuit breker to trigger on the ring main.

    Now, unfortunately, they'd moved the kettle from the 'dirty' supply to the datacentre 'clean' supply.

    Well, the DRS300 '7501' terminal clusters plus the DRS20 'Oper' console for VME were also on that supply....

    The VME detected that the Oper console had disappeared and promptly restarted itself - but not automatically restarting the IDMS/TPMS services that the AT was using.

    At least the AT bought us a new kettle :-)

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