back to article You forced me to use this fancypants app and now you're asking for a printout?

I could just do with some popcorn right now. I am loitering among the sick and deranged. The selfish fools decided to pile into the chemist's at 9am, the very moment I sensibly chose to visit. Half of them seem to be loitering around the entrance, jabbing urgently at their smartphones and muttering to themselves. The popcorn …

  1. ArrZarr Silver badge

    Remember when we believed that a clever, fully interconnected system would make everybody's life easier?

    Man, nothing like taking years of reality like a brick to the back of the skull...

    1. b0llchit Silver badge

      Don't you see the need for complications? The need for overly complex systems?

      If everything just worked, why would you need all those people and apps to help you with those systems? The utopia of functional computers and software is a the dictatorship of unemployment. And, besides, don't you love to bitch about non-functional systems? The whole money machine of support, frustration, updates and upgrades gone if all just worked. It is unheard of. It is impossible.

    2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

      The English system works really well now, which is remarkable for a government IT project.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The computerised LloydsPharmacy system they forced me on to, promising to take all the pain out of repeat prescriptions, has been nothing but a disaster, has failed to provide a delivery on the day due ever since being introduced.

        I really cannot fathom how any computerised ordering system could fare so badly every single time.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Do you know how much profit there is to be made from stress medicines?

        2. davenewman

          That's why I use the NHS app rather than the one my doctors use.

      2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

        Here in the USA, we have CVS, (formerly: Consumer Value Stores) who after thoughtful consideration have decided that kilometer long register receipts (coupons valid for three days) and constant reminder phone calls are the best way to build customer loyalty.

        Oh, and they automatically refill your prescriptions, even if they're one-offs. Then call you to tell you they're ready. All without you having asked them to.

        They are rapidly taking over the pharmacy market here in the northeast US. Also the "pills by mail" market for the insurance providers. Quickly becoming the only provider. And their employees and computer systems are overworked...

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Don't buy ANYTHING from StepONE.

          StepONE... get a potential customer's mobile and email address.

          StepTWO... bombard them daily with texts and emails about sales.

    3. lglethal Silver badge

      And this is what I find so crazy about Conspiracy theorists - Despite all the proof in the world that no government department anywhere can make any system run with anything even remotely like efficiency, and that private companies are absolutely no better, they still somehow believe that some grand conspiracy is able to, in secret, run everything in the background to get us all infected with mind control drugs/germs/nanobots/alien parasites/delete as appropriate.

      Any attempt to do such a thing would fail at the first hurdle as some bureuacrat would demand that the secret memo be retyped up in Letter format, scanned into some long forgotten proprietary pdf-like format, stored in some long lost database program, requiring a licence which can no longer be obtained, and then approved by a dozen people who use various versions of the approval software, none of which are backwards compatable.

      Real life gives us so many prime examples that this sort of stuff just doesnt work, and yet conspirarcy theorists always want to believe...

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Despite all the proof in the world that no government department anywhere can make any system run with anything even remotely like efficiency, and that private companies are absolutely no better,

        HTAts just thier outward FASsade to camouflon they're TRUE evul compotents!!11!Eleven!

        1. DJV Silver badge

          Nope, not a clue... I ran your response through Google Translate and it blew up.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            .. which is not a bad thing :).

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You are amanfrommars and I claim my five pounds

      2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

        That's because all the competent people are too busy being in on the conspiracy to make the trains run on time

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        By 1968 they were so far behind schedule with faking the moon landing, that they had no options left. They loaded the entire film crew into a rocket, and faked the landing on the moon.

        Those who suspected anything just thought the rocket was a prop full of concrete blocks, and were busy looking in New Mexico for the set, while it was sitting right above in plain view the whole time.

      4. sabroni Silver badge

        re: And this is what I find so crazy about Conspiracy theorists

        You don't really know much about "conspiracy theories", but you've grabbed firmly on to the narrative that it means "nonsense you shouldn't think about too much".

        I wonder who's pushing that narrative, and why.

    4. plrndl

      You believed that? Computerising an imperfect system can only result in errors arising far faster and in far greater magnitude.

    5. vtcodger Silver badge

      "a clever, fully interconnected system would make everybody's life easier"

      Of course it would. And we might achieve that in about four decades. What's missing at the moment is clever and in some remote jurisdictions the connected part of interconnected.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        re: What's missing at the moment is clever

        NO! A thousand times No!

        I've been working as a developer for over 3 decades. Nothing is worse than a "clever" idea. Give me simple ideas, straight forward ideas and well known, tested patterns. That's what makes things work.

        Keep is simple, stupid!

  2. Dr_N


    Very brave or just a rookie, Mr Dabbs?

    Did you try booking a 3rd jab on Doctolib last night? Webpage came up with a, "You are in a queue of people waiting to access this site. Waiting time is 28 mins."

    No Joke.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Paperless?

      Mine said 30 minutes. Trust you to barge in ahead of me.

    2. Howard Sway Silver badge

      Re: Paperless?

      Obviously the person who is "answering" the webpage must be going to print out the details of each "caller" so that they can type them into another system.

      This kind of nonsense is the reason why I requested a free proof of jab letter the moment they were offered, as I knew any digital system would be utter crap.

      1. Stork Silver badge

        Re: Paperless?

        Not here in Portugal, for me it has worked just fine. And I must say the whole vaccine operation has gone well, in particular considered that nothing of that scale to my knowledge has been done before .

        1. Stork Silver badge

          Re: Paperless?

          To expand on the documentation part: I visited Denmark last week and had vaccine certificate in an App, as PDF and printed as well (just in case, IT past. Boarding cards too…). The app worked fine.

          BTW, I think the high vaccination rates in Portugal is at least partly due to many knowing the difference vaccines make. There were polio outbreaks in the sixties and a family member, born 1979, caught TB as a young child. Salazar was anti-vaxer.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Paperless?

            Was in Malta a few weeks back, checking in to fly home with all my digital stuff in QR codes.

            Check in girl, “I need to see a printout.”


    3. CountCadaver

      Re: Paperless?

      Least it tells you how long you have to wait gov would at best give you - you are x in the queue, with no indication of potential wait time...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Paperless?

        or just crash w/o a message ... a queue & waiting time is behaving gracefully under pressure

    4. regadpellagru

      Re: Paperless?

      "Did you try booking a 3rd jab on Doctolib last night? Webpage came up with a, "You are in a queue of people waiting to access this site. Waiting time is 28 mins.""

      Well, it's France and everyone wait for Micron to tell it stuff before rushing to doctolib, like every previous times.

      Myself ? I did it last tuesday :) No waiting !

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Paperless?

        Don't complain about France, you might be disinvited from you appointment.

    5. Stoneshop Silver badge

      A modern-day Adventure.

      "You are in a queue of twisty milling people, all different."

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: A modern-day Adventure.

        Or, if you believe the conspiracy theories, all alike.

        1. Ken Shabby

          Re: A modern-day Adventure.

          You are at Witt's end. Passages lead off in *all* directions.

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge


    I discovered yesterday that the Euro Covpass app has suddenly acquired the ability to produce a pdf of the vaccination (paper) form which you, er, scanned with the app to get the certificate in the first place.

    I think they must have got fed up with folk like me standing in airports screaming at the app because one arm of the government says, nope, you can't get a screen shot from this app, and another arm says 'attach a pdf to your locator form'... that time I solved it by using another phone to photograph the first one, and vice versa. Brilliant, joined up thinking.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: PDF

      I know several people who've ended up having to get vaccinated twice owing to the lack of interoperability of various systems, Given the UK is apparently offering no form of proof for your booster jab, I expect that number to increase. The user is usually at the bottom of the pile when it comes to IT, government and medicine. Put them all together...

      1. Krassi

        Re: PDF

        "Given the UK is apparently offering no form of proof for your booster jab, I expect that number to increase. "

        The record of my booster appeared in my NHS app after a couple of days, both in my GP Records section and in the Covid pass section. Also the pdf document with the QR codes is now two pages with the booster details on 2nd page, more papers to fumble with at the check-in desk !

        1. Warm Braw Silver badge

          Re: PDF

          I wonder if that's a recent update then? Several acquaintances swore blind to me that it wasn't showing up.

          Good news if they've sorted it. My bad if I'm repeating nonsense...

          1. BobBob

            Re: PDF

            Yep, it’s a recent update. At first it didn’t show them and it was all over the news about how it was affecting travel to places demanding the booster as they had sent an expiry date to the first jabs. Now the booster appears in the NHS App. (The Corona-Warn-App in Germany has supported booster jabs for quite a while)

          2. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: PDF

            It is. Within the last week or so.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: PDF

          Ditto on that.

          Had my booster on Monday this week. Next day, nothing showing on the pass.

          Checking now, COVID Booster (Pfizer) is on my pass.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: PDF

            My GP app annoyingly under vaccinations lists "reminder sent" and a date for every reminder I've been sent. It lists the vaccinations too but it just means wading through a mire of irrelevant notes. Especially annoying as I get my jabs from work usually weeks before the GP gets round to it. At least now the jabs from work end up in the GP's records.

      2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: PDF

        I had a piece of cardboard with my first two jabs written on it. My booster jab is a sticker on the back. All instantly available, no need for phone, battery charging, network or other such crap.

        1. KBeee

          Re: PDF

          The problem with those printed cards is that they are very easy to forge.

          1. AVR

            Re: PDF

            It's actually easier to forge the NZ vaccine pass. It's an editable PDF.

        2. Spanners Silver badge

          Re: PDF

          I also got my 2 jabs on a little card, which I immediately laminated along with those of everyone else in my department. At that point, we were hearing how the infectiously stupid were campaigning against "covid passports" or something and I wanted to make sure I actually got one of those!

          When I got the booster, I got a similar card with only one box filled in and as we actually do have proper proof, I haven't felt the need to laminate it.

    2. Chris G

      Re: PDF

      I can only access the proof on the C19 nanobot shot about 1 out 3 attempts on my Spanish phone and then can only look at it I can't email it, save it to files or anything else.

      However the same proof accessed via my PC can be printed, screen shot and saved to file. Fortunately, I have no other health issues but when my wife tries to get an appointment, it is easier to go to the A&E rather than the polyclinic or make an online appointment.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: PDF

      I *always* have things on paper with me when I travel, simply because Murphy's Law will either ensure your email client has not downloaded the attachment (or has zapped it again to save space), and it's guaranteed you will be asked for the data when your phone is still busy acquiring a network of where you have just landed - or your phone battery is simply dead. It also is *much* easier if they want multiple things like evidence of vaccination and the code of a filled out PLF - instead of having to fiddle with a phone it's simply on the next page.

      This is why I generally get through all the checks so fast .. that I then have to wait the half hour it takes to get the luggage onto the caroussel.


      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Dr_N

          Re: I *always* have things on paper with me

          The French AntiCovid App increases the screen brightness to max automatically when you display a vaccination or test QR pass code.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: PDF

      Interestingly, in Belgium, the QR code on the paper you can download from your health management website is different to the QR code shown on the Covid passport app. No idea why, but it was the first thing I noticed.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    I see your profile pic has changed...

    Very brave of you to go with the "after the meds" version. :-)

    1. b0llchit Silver badge

      Re: I see your profile pic has changed...

      Is this "after the meds" or simply the result of being confronted with "non-functional IT systems running you in circles"?

      May I suggest Dabbsy drink a nice weekend beer and the image might revert to the sanity-version again.

  5. Flightmode

    > [...] suffering from posterization due to lossy over-compression in the codec

    > as a result of poor bandwidth and that my skin would clear up by itself

    > if he stood closer to his window.

    I should know better than to read your posts in public places. The whole mall looked at me with concern, and this was on Black Friday.

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I like to remind pedants in Britainland that the word "holiday" was traditionally used on the right-hand side of the Atlantic right into the 20th century to mean any time off from work, not just full-on seasonal vacations.

    Pedants will remind you that "holiday" is just a mis-spelling/pronunciation of "holy day" and that Christmas meets that definition. If you don't want to recognise it as such get back to work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I've got absolutely no problems with the end of year holiday season being described in such neutral terms: different people are celebrating different things, Yule in my case, although more as an acknowledgement of midwinter than anything with any significantly greater 'meaning', and we certainly had dibs on decorated trees and the like before that other lot came along (although they are welcome to share the tradition). In a modern world, I do find the very heavyweight presumption that "everyone" is celebrating what for many/most people is someone else's mythology a little bit grating and mildly offensive, when I very emphatically am not. There's a lot to be said for French-style laïcité, celebrate your own celebrations, but don't attempt to impose them on others. Perfectly happy to share the feasting, drinking and being merry part with everyone, regardless of your own reason for celebration, of course.

      As for holidays from work, I'd much rather refer to them as such (even if it's only a day off or a lazycation) instead of the horrid "on annual leave" that seems to be creeping into use, which always seems like a horrible cap-doffing term designed to suggest to you that you are only freed from the shackles of work under extreme forbearance.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Holidays

        "Your god died nailed to a stick. Mine carries a hammer. Any questions?" Shuts 'em right up!

        1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

          Re: Holidays

          Mine smokes a pipe. Praise Bob!

          1. Dante Alighieri

            Your reply Sir,

            on a Likert scale of dull - boffin, it was just subgenius,

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Holidays

            Spongebob Squarepants?

            That pipe only blows bubbles

        2. Precordial thump

          Re: Holidays

          And your god (the one with the hammer) has a Dad who died nailed on a stick.

          He just took nine days to come back.

      2. NightFox

        Re: Holidays

        When I first started work (mid '80s) everyone took 'holiday' off work. I then did a stint in the military so adjusted to taking 'leave', only to find when I came back into the real world that everyone there was now also taking leave. What did I miss while I was away?

        1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

          Re: Holidays

          It comes and goes. When I started work around 1980 everyone took "holiday". But my father always took "leave". But he did national service - I always assumed leave was a military term that all his contemporaries acquired from that. But then, "leave" made a comeback - I think in the 90s starting in the civil service.

          It comes and goes.

      3. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: Holidays

        "on annual leave"

        Best done sitting down.

      4. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Holidays

        I know it's "Cracked" which has gone to garbage, but this is worth a read or two

      5. Claverhouse Silver badge

        Re: Holidays

        In a modern world, I do find the very heavyweight presumption that "everyone" is celebrating what for many/most people is someone else's mythology a little bit grating and mildly offensive, when I very emphatically am not


        In the manga image site I favour there was a picture of two dear little chibis from Arknights, a Chinese game, celebrating Thanksgiving.

        Since the game --- which I do not play --- is set on a different planet; and since only 5 countries on this planet, some of them quite small, celebrate this strange feast --- this seems implausible...

  7. Tim99 Silver badge

    I guess I’m just lucky

    Allergic rhinitis in both the spring and winter. The winter one is caused by moulds…

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I guess I’m just lucky

      I can heartily recommend Budesonide nasal spray.

      After 20 years I'd almost given up going to the doctor's, only to be told "Oh - it's [summer|winter], it's probably just [hay fever|a cold]". One year this very nice doctor actually tried to do something about it.

      Best drug I've ever taken :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I guess I’m just lucky

        Try Prozac. It doesn't alleviate the problem but you no longer care.

        As for any coughing or sneezing, a strong laxative will do the job insofar that you would no longer dare.

        Evil Medicine. Same victims, twice the fun. :)

    2. Jim Mitchell

      Re: I guess I’m just lucky

      I take a generic Zyrtec ( cetirizine, a antihistamine ) each morning. I've found that it works well for me.

      1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: I guess I’m just lucky

        I'm an antihistamine dependent as well. The trick is finding one that works and that doesn't make you too drowsy to function.

        Slightly strangely I find that Piriton is just the job for me, without the drowsiness that a lot of people report.

        I once made the mistake of buying some Piriteze on the assumption that as it sounds like Pirition then that must be the magic ingredient. I learned the hard way that (a) Piriteze is actually Cetirizine, and (b) Cetirizine will make me fall asleep whilst talking in the middle of a meeting.

        1. Andy A

          Re: I guess I’m just lucky

          For my mum the effects of the two are reversed. Not being an allergy sufferer, she sometimes takes a Piriton as a sleeping tablet. Piriteze has absolutely no effect.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: I guess I’m just lucky

          "Cetirizine will make me fall asleep whilst talking in the middle of a meeting."

          You'd need to do a controlled trial to (a) separate the effect of the Cetirizine from the effect of the meeting and (b) check for synergy between the effects.

      2. Tim99 Silver badge

        Re: I guess I’m just lucky

        I find that fexofenadine works best for me. It also stops the itching I can get when my symptoms are bad. For milder symptoms Beclomethasone Dipropionate (Beconase) works for me, when it is really bad, both together help.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I guess I’m just lucky

      Thanks, folks. A nice list of suggestions to work my way through.

      1. JQJ

        Re: I guess I’m just lucky

        I have to quarter the usual cetirizine daily dose (10 mg) by hand to ~2,5 mg with a tablet cutter and take it at night to avoid drowsiness during the day. The usual dose of levocetirizine (5 mg) does not have that effect, not even when taken in the morning.

    4. ShadowSystems Silver badge

      At Tim99...

      You think that's bad? My nose always runs & my feet always smell because I'm built upside down. =-Jp

  8. herman Silver badge

    Goodness gracious

    That new picture seems like a very good likeness of how I always imagined Dabsy really looks.

  9. herman Silver badge

    Well seasoned

    Wut? Yer allergies are seasonal? I would be so lucky...

  10. MiguelC Silver badge

    Sometimes it's the opposite

    I used to deal with a user who regularly sent me scanned copies of printed PDF documents generated by the application they used, even after I showed them the "send as attachment" option...

  11. Dave559 Silver badge


    Meh, if they still had Minitel, I'm sure all of that convoluted process would have worked perfectly smoothly!

    (Well, apart from the video consultation part, trying to convert the images of you and the doctor to ASCII-art for transmission would be rather taxing, and the needed cameras would probably cost about Fr 40 000…)

    1. .stu

      Re: Minitel

      Try this:

  12. AndrueC Silver badge

    I don't get ill in the way I am supposed to. I get hay fever in the winter. Only in the winter.

    I get 'hayfever' in Autumn and Spring. Although I remember 2014 when it lasted from October to March with only a brief respite around New Year's when there was a cold snap

    It's fungi and trees that cause the problem. And you do feel a bit of a fool going into a chemist's to get hayfever medication in November.

    One of the few sites that gives fungus and tree information.

    'Penicillium, Aspergillus and Basidiospores (from mushrooms/toadstools) will continue to be airborne during dry weather at a generally moderate risk. Visit our fungal spore webpage for more info.'

    Which is why I'm currently back on the Certirizine :/

    1. Franco Silver badge

      I have a very mild allergy to something, that presents a bit like hayfever. However it's made considerably worse by air conditioning so when I was a student working in a supermarket I had to have a prescription for cetirizine so people didn't ask me if I'd been crying constantly. Plus people object to their food being sneezed on....

      To this day some buildings with older air conditiong will set it off, worst place ever was an old client that was a factory that made cardboard boxes. The dust in that place made me sneeze constantly.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The network team at a large bank sent us a screen shot of a spreadsheet of IP addresses they wanted monitored by the SIEM. Head of Networks got quite annoyed when we asked for something we could cut&paste or import rather than error prone typing from screenshots. But then this was the same clown who insisted on dumping SSL decrypted customer Internet Banking session logs from F5s over syslog to the SIEM for "diagnosic purposes", but thats another story.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Screenshots

      Normal business procedure would be to print out the spreadsheet, put it on a wood table, take a phone photo, email it back to themselves, reducing size, and then insert the picture into Powerpoint

      1. EVP Silver badge

        Re: Screenshots

        They changed our office desks recently, no more wooden ones left. Our process is broken.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Screenshots

          You can download a wooden background image from the Internet.

          Print that out and stick it to the desk before photographing any spreadsheets

  14. CountCadaver

    Dabbsy -get an allergy test mate

    Could be you don't have hayfever per se but an allergy to something else, which rears its head in the winter when windows are closed due to lower temps and thus lower ventilation - i.e. dust mites (my personal bane), pet dander etc...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dabbsy -get an allergy test mate

      Or COVID?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "She literally scans the document she has just printed"

    Forgive me for having recounted this before in a different topic, but I once taught an ageing lab assistant how to use the new-fangled scanner we'd just installed.

    A large part of her job was writing SOPs for the factory, and she'd spend ages cutting up the user manuals and sticking diagrams and photographs on to A4 paper with Sellotape to include in the master copy, which would then be photocopied and distributed to the departments. The master copy would spend the next months silently degrading the glue on the Sellotape in the Master Folder on the SOP shelf, ready to shed all the stuck-on photos and diagrams into a heap if anyone got their working SOP wet and wanted a new copy.

    She'd seen me incorporating scans and digital photos into documents I was writing, and I was asked to teach her how to do it.

    It took many, many weeks just to get her to be able to turn on the scanner and access it from a PC, and many more to show her how to use a graphics program(me) to clip the photos and diagrams electronically, and then paste them into documents. And don't get me started on explaining how to use wrapping to add titles or arrows to the clipped images. We had all the episodes of chucking toys out of the pram and threatening to resign. When she'd finally got it, I concluded my task was over.

    One morning, I came in only to find her cutting out images she'd scanned and printed out so she could stick them into the documents she was creating using Sellotape.

    I got a rollocking from the PHB for laughing.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: "She literally scans the document she has just printed"

      threatening to resign

      Cue the "I should only be so lucky" muttering not exactly under your breath.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scan of a printout

    At $job[-1] we built a product for $customer. The product and customer were inherited from $job[-2] (a company closed down, $job[-1] was created from the debris, you know the drill).

    At some point, I needed to reference some drawings for the product. The drawings had been designed for $customer at $job[-2] as part of the turnkey service we provided. At some point in time, the drawings were in a native CAD format, and were possibly even exported to .pdf. The copy we had was generated by:

    1) Printing the CAD file

    2) Scanning and faxing the CAD file from $job[-2] to $customer.

    3) $customer printed the fax

    4) $customer signed off on the design.

    5) $customer scanned and faxed the document back to $job[-2]

    6) $job[-2] printed the fax (they had a fax server, so why print? oh, that's so they could:

    7) $job[-2] stamped the printout with a reference number and receipt date stamp

    8) $job[-2] scanned the printout in (at about 300 dpi)

    Terrible? Yes, but we somehow made it even worse. The document I had in our possession at $job[-1] wasn't from step #8. Oh, no, for some reason $job[-2] had decided to REPEAT steps 3-8. I know because the document I had available had a second reference number and date stamp!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like 2 decades ago

    "This done, she feeds my freshly printed prescription into a scanner at the till. She literally scans the document she has just printed back into the system, and hands me the printout as a parting gift."

    Almost 2 decades ago, one british colleague came to work here in France.

    Like everyone else, he received the then new "carte vitale", that poticos said would be a revolution, with automatic connection from GP to hospital, universal health cover, complementary cover etc ...

    Basically, the mystical "no paper", no advance paiement from patients.

    He explained to me how his first medicines purchase went: "you know what, she scanned my carte vitale !! Cos she'd just use the ID number on it !"

    Then, the usual paperwork, and of course ... you pay everything in advance and hope for the best for reimbursement ...

    I was chatting the other day with a friend and he told me, for some jobs category like his, it is still the case !

    Welcome to France, where the view from the top and from the field has absolutely no connection.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Like 2 decades ago

      "Welcome to France, where the view from the top and from the field has absolutely no connection."

      It sounds just like everywhere else but in French.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's ab important bit of information missing here, surely because it'd spoil the joke a little : in France, the pharmacists print information on the baxk of a prescription when it's delivered.

    So hardcopy is a must no matter what.

    And then, scanning it afterwards is surely faster than trying to move a PDF attachment to whatever system all pharmacies have to use.

  19. G R Goslin


    I think the Saturday afternoon off was not something offered by a generous employer. I think it must have been through an Act of Parliament. Curiously, when I was an engineering apprentice in a factory in the South of England, you were allowed (if your were lucky), to work overtime on Saturday morning, but only if you'd already worked overtime on at least three days of the week. if you were even luckier, you might be offered overtime on Sunday, at the even better return of double time (time and a half, on Saturday). It was explained that overtime on Saturday afternoon was 'Against the Law'. So, if it had been ordained that Saturday afternoons were 'holiday', it would equally apply to overtime, too. Since Sunday was God's day, Parliament didn't consider the need to enact a Law regarding the Working Day, so overtime for the whole day remained an option. One did not turn down an offer to work overtime, ever. Turning down an option, we were told, would, most likely, result in one not being asked again.

    1. Sam not the Viking Silver badge

      Re: Holidays

      I recall a consultant telling me how he had done his apprenticeship at a steelworks where one department existed for historical reasons but had no application in the 'modern' time. There was no work to do. He was criticised for not taking the overtime when offered.

      That consultant had a strange career progression: Mechanical Apprentice, Town Hall traffic planner, Electrical Engineer (standby-power, auto-start, peak-lopping, back-synchronising diesel-generator project)....

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Holidays

        "That consultant had a strange career progression"

        Very strange. You don't usually find traffic planners with such a thorough training.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Holidays

          Yeah, they are usually not even licenced (to drive!)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    meanwhile today in the NHS

    The HIS is passing requests to the departmental stand alone system. The HIS also prints out a bit of paper in the department. We have to manually indicate we have seen the electronic request to do anything with it moving it from one electronic silo into another.

    Meanwhile we scan in the paper which has no information that is not already in the RIS. Which is then given to people to remind them to process the electronic requests

    The bit of paper will be scanned another 2-3 times despite having allegedly the capability of a fully electronic workflow.

    And when we update the local system with new info/instructions to change the tests sometimes the obsolete paper is used to do something different.

    And if we lose the redundant bit of paper, we get printed out low res screen shots with 30mm borders which then get scanned in (steps 3-8).

    Great for cross site working

    [FAIL icon n/a for AC]

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: meanwhile today in the NHS

      In the 80s I had a bike accident and went to A&E. They took my details and I noted they typed them into an electronic terminal. Very high tech compared to previous visits.

      The information was sent digitally down the corridor to the A&E's main station where the staff hung around drinking coffee and filling in paperwork etc

      The information taken at reception was then printed onto an index card which dropped out of the printer into a little wire tray where it sat waiting for someone to pick it up and find the patient.

      And that's all the electronic system did. No electronic notes or look ups. The department opened up a new file for each patient's notes, the card plus the notes plus copies of any prescriptions (written on carbon pads!) went into the file and never ended up in your GP records.

  21. plrndl

    Plus ca change

    For a person born in a previous century, there is something wonderfully reassuring (ie familiar) about a doctor's prescription that cannot be read by modern technology.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I recently booked my Covid booster online at the main centre a mile away from home. Then my nearby GP surgery rang me to offer a flu jab - and also said that they could book me for the Covid booster at the surgery too. "More convenient for you". So I cancelled the booster appointment at the main centre.

    Turned up at the surgery for the Covid jab. "You shouldn't be here - the <satellite> surgery is where we are doing Covid/flu vaccinations". That is a 6km round walk to the top of a very steep hill. Receptionist tells me that a nearby high street chain pharmacy can do the flu jab.

    Pharmacy says they are waiting for flu vaccine supplies and to try again in a couple of weeks ...or "Try Tesco". Look online - Tesco have no vaccine.

    Two weeks later the GP surgery have rang, an email has arrived, plus two NHS letters - all telling me it is important to get a flu jab.

    Go to the high street chain pharmacy again. Yes - they now have flu vaccine - "are you one of our customers?" By which it transpires they mean do I get my repeat prescriptions from them - rather than the long-established independent pharmacy a few doors away. "Flu vaccine is reserved for our customers - go to Boots". Look online - no Boots pharmacies in England have any flu vaccine.

    Go home and mark my door with the blood of a sacrificed lamb.

    At least I managed to rebook my Covid booster at the main centre - tick in that box two weeks later.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Aaargh! Don't mess with things once they're set. It can only ever go bad if you do :-)

      It's bad enough if you follow the system.

      I had my COVID booster initially booked for last week. I'd been checking the NHS site, and it told me I wasn't eligible (I wasn't, it was the six month thing). But when I knew I should be, I checked again, and I was eligible, so I booked.

      I turned up, played musical chairs for 20 minutes as we gradually moved down the socially-distanced line of the medical centre I was in, and sat down in front of the nurse. They took all my details (on computer), brought out the syringe... only for the nurse to say 'Oh. You're two days early!'

      I said 'But my date is on the booking'. She said 'No, you can't have it for another two days - it's 160 days from the 2nd shot'. Damned system never told me that, and it let me book.

      They were very apologetic, but I just said 'look, it's not your fault. The system let me book. It's just a wasted journey, and not the end of the world.'

      I booked another one when I got home - this time much closer to home, which wasn't an available venue a week earlier. And only two days after my 160-day thing. Had it on Monday this week. This time, I went in (admittedly, having to ask for directions, since the NHS vaccination location map showed one end of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club, where it turned out to be the opposite end). This one was predominantly a paper exercise booking in, and I was jabbed immediately after sitting down.

      Apart from an achy arm, I am still here - though apparently I am one of the billions who have allegedly died from the vaccine according to certain forums.

      Had my flu jab separately at my GP a month ago. They don't do COVID. I even forgot, in spite of remembering the night before, and they phoned me to find out where I was, and did me in the 15 minutes it took me to drive there, 45 minutes after my original appointment.

      Overall, our system works, Just not perfectly. I'd give it between B+/A-

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        NHS IT bod...

        We did booster jabs, but for first line only, so booked online for pharmacy down road. Only to turn up at my appointment time and find my booking not gone through. To be fair, I didn't get any error messages so assumed it was fine.

        Tried again, different pharmacy closer to home only to get email saying that there will be no nurse that day so all jabs cancelled....

        Then find out at work they will do all staff so went down next day on Friday.

        Lessons learnt - if there is another booster

        Get confirmation first

        Get it done early in the week - if I get a reaction then I can get time off work, sucks feeling ill on a weekend

  23. PRR Bronze badge

    "Only in the winter...."

    Dabbsy> hay fever in the winter. Only in the winter.

    I have "hay fever" 11.5 months of the year. I can strongly suggest Loratadine 10mg (Claritin) 1/day, 300+ days a year. Almost no drowsy. 98% effective. For breakthrough drippy, a second Claritin is bad, a chlorpheniramine maleate 4mg works for a few hours but does sedate.

    > the difference vaccines make. There were polio outbreaks in the sixties

    And the 1950s, of course. I remember foot-baths at swimming pools. I remember being offered 'candy' by a 'stranger' (nurse offering Polio Vac on a sugar cube). I worked with a gal who probably survived Polio (her family was too dirt-poor to get proper treatment). I have the Smallpox Vacc scar. In the 1990s I worked with young Chinese who had the vacc scar. My housemate survived Rheumatic Fever (no vacc). My mother is still upset by Measles. We lost family in the 1918 Flu.

    > ...get an allergy test mate... Could be you don't have hayfever per se but an allergy to something else...

    How can he have Hay Fever? Most people today never see hay! In the US a lot of snot is blamed on Ragweed. I can snort that stuff freely; Goldenrod is for me instant attack. But there is something every month, plus pets and paper-dust. (Over-thick furnace filter helps a little.)

    As for Dabbsy's complaint: I must say, this last decade, in the US, with a good plan, getting prescriptions filled has been 90% no-problem. If we are in a rush, doc's helper wires it to my designated superstore chain pharmacy, their phone-robot may call "Ready!" before I get home. Never need paper or even ID to get my drugs. But I also have a "Plan", who will take-over the Rx and mail me 90-day supplies. (Even if it was a one-shot Rx, like colonoscopy prep or VD antibiotics, idiots.)

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. PRR Bronze badge

        Re: "Only in the winter...."

        > Upvote for Loratadine. .... bulk packs (6 months or one year's supply). ....

        After some US hunting, I found that Costco (warehouse club) sells 365-Count bottles, Pack of 2 bottles, $27.48. Which is like 4 pennies a day. And Amazon will ship them to me cheaper than dealing with Costco directly (I think there is a 3rd or 4th party in this transaction).

        Thanks for the upvote. I grew up with heavy pills that hardly slowed drip but left me half asleep for months. (TMI) I developed pee trouble and doc advised me off the "old style" antihistamines, Consumer Reports rated Claritin as one of the modern sniffle-pills. Glad it works for us.

  24. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Mostly It Works

    I dunno; in Britain if the NHS GP uses the Systmonline site, once a prescription has been prescribed by a doctor, all one's medications can be managed and ordered online, delivered free --- including a request box for different medicines ( my case Zapain tablets ).

    Utterly simple and never had a single problem.


    On the other hand...The mandatory free covid test thing I had to take a week before my arm operation, was booked for near the hospital 45 miles away; I rang and asked if I could get it nearer not to waste a day, and they said sure.

    However, the only testing in the market town was done by Boots, who instead of free wished to gouge £87 for that. The Free Market strikes again !


    I went to the original testing site...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mostly It Works

      The Systmonline prescriptions web page used to be quite efficient. It said how many repeats were left and when the final one would be.

      Now it just offers the tick boxes - possibly. Different renewals appear to effect different processes. Sometimes the tick boxes don't appear - as the whole set have been transferred to the pharmacy's system. No one seems to have any advance warning - especially me - when the renewal is overdue. To effect a renewal needs a GP review - which is no longer an online option but requires the phone call route.

      In lockdown the online system should have been nicely efficient. Instead my GPs' centre has greyed out most of the booking and messaging services.

      1. Huw L-D

        Re: Mostly It Works

        I've also experienced an additional issue with it.

        Tablet x - pack of 58. Take 2 per day. Last issued 17 Oct. Next reorder 6 Dec (or words to that effect).

        The check box is greyed out and I then have to phone the doctor to get them to reorder, just because the computer a) can't count, and b) says no.

  25. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    Meanwhile, in a country far (enough) away from the one Dabbsy has hay fever in ...

    ... I am about to check a box to digitally request a periodic prescription for essential medication I've been taking for almost 25 years.

    That will work well enough - from a computer, in a browser. The medical service provider also has a smartphone app that they keep telling everyone to use but that I (and, judging from reviews, quite a few others) could never make start on my phone. To be fair, it probably starts as far as the operating system is concerned. The UX, in Dabbsy's words, is that the phone screen goes black and the device becomes really hot, until I powercycle it - multiple tries taught me to do it before it becomes too hot to handle. Never mind - the web site does work, and I am fairly confident the GP will issue 3 prescriptions for the next 3 months that will automagically appear in a database used by computers at the (provider-branded) pharmacy chain.

    From (bitter) experience through the years since the provider went all digital I know to ask the pharmacist for all the 3 months' worth of meds in one go. If I decide to do it month-by-month the first two times will be fine, but on the third try the pharmacist will tell me that "the computer says" that I need a new prescription. To me, it is obvious that there is some kind of an off-by-one bug (in a loop of 3 iterations!), but no matter how many times I complained in the past it was never fixed. I started asking the GP to print out the prescriptions and I started printing out the PDFs that the website helpfully provides, and I started taking the printouts to the till as proof that there should be another prescription, but it turned out that the provider had gone "completely digital" (is it a new euphemism of some sort meaning something or other?) and the printed documents were not actual prescriptions but only records of what the GP's PC, or the web server, or maybe the printer thought should be in the pharmacy's database at the time of printing. At the till inside the pharmacy it does not matter one single bit - "I don't see your prescription in the system sir..."

    The queues are managed a lot better here than at Dabbsy's pharmacy though. You enter and press a button on a little device dispensing a paper slip with a number. The next customer's number is announced on a tannoy and displayed on large TV sceeens on the pharmacy's walls. I broke down when I saw a full screen "Error in error message" message (sic!) on those TV screens one day (talk of BORK!BORK!BORK!) and asked the pharmacist if I could keep a 3 month supply of my meds in a fridge safely. He said yes, and I stopped dealing with the loop termination bug there and then.

    Now, here's that checkbox in the digital prescription request again...

  26. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    "...what a pain in the arse all this is."

    "...and leaning across the counter to get a closer look at my nose, she fetches my meds."

    I wonder what she would have done if the prescription was for suppositories to treat haemorrhoids.

    icon: white coat

  27. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Being French, everyone else is randomly positioned around the till, spaced one metre apart as if ready to play dodgeball

    Mr Dabbs. is perhaps overgeneralizing. But living in a part of France where laws and rules were obviously made to be overruled, he may be forgiven to believe it's the same everywhere.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      "But living in a part of France where laws and rules were obviously made to be overruled"

      I thought that was pretty much most places in France, especially EU laws and regulations (include the southern EU nations in that) - which is where the British didn't quite get it - they ended up invariably gold-plating whatever the EU requirements were and then complaining about them afterwards

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A French colleague in the Luxembourg EEC office once explained to me "The problem with the British is that - when they sign up to something - then they think they have to do it".

      2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        The rot sets in from the top, so we have Boris & co. itching to ditch the Northern Ireland protocol.

        World King setting a good example

  28. Ignazio

    Seen the same elsewhere

    Reliable source told me about a bank printing out mortgage documents and scanning them into their archival system.

    Something something "scanned PDFs are harder to falsify" something something.

    Yeah, me too.

  29. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

    Here in 'La Hexagone"..

    Having acquired my Carte Vitale (and my wife, her's) things do work quite well e.g. turning up for La Grippe immunisation (no appt accepted at pharmacie).

    Problem is that French are so anarchistic that they have devised a (many duplicate?) system to apply order ("bureaucracy" aka rule by office) to the population.

    Does wor;, they all complain, sometimes protest (loudly), complain over officials, comply (so the state works(ish).

    TousCovid app does work also

    Love 'em (fix my french plated RHD car without issue; unlike dealer in UK)

  30. veti Silver badge


    The flagrant Ignobel Prize-fishing research you linked to specifically calls out queuing as an experience that *can* be enhanced by popcorn.

    The time to avoid it is when you're watching something that's actually entertaining. As a rule of thumb, if you forgot to eat the popcorn, chances are the movie was pretty good.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some years ago my beloved employers decided to change job applications from paper to online. Here's how it worked ...

    Anybody interested filled in an online form. At HQ this was used to produce a simulacrum of the paper form, which was printed out. The printout was then scanned and emailed to every office (of thirteen) in which the applicant had expressed interested in working. In each of those places a clerk then typed information from the scan of the printout of the formatted data entry into a spreadsheet, which was emailed to the people making the appointments.

  32. TwistedPsycho

    Almost as bad as my last job;

    The Operations Management team had to use their computer system to send an eFax to you because you were obliged to only accept an instruction if it was in writing.

    At which point, once you read and understood it, if it only applied to you then you could email your acknowledgement and then throw it in the bin.

    That was despite the fact that every phone call was (alledgedly) recorded (but easily deleted) unless I highlighted the Operations Management team did something wrong.

  33. ecofeco Silver badge

    Techno tedium!

    It's all the rage these days!

  34. Trygve Henriksen

    I bet your hay fever starts close to Christmas?

    It's not hayfever, it's allergy.

    Probably to the pollen from Euphorbia pulcherrima

    Commonly known as 'Poinsettia' and very popular as Christmas decorations.

    One of the big bosses at my office was allergic, and she finaly got the building owners to stop giving one of those wretched things to every employee in the building.

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