back to article Software guy smashes through the Somebody Else's Problem field to save the day

A warning from the past in today's On Call. Helpfulness is not always rewarded with a pat on the back and a slap-up meal on expenses. Sometimes the Somebody Else's Problem field* is best left alone. Our tale comes from a reader Regomised as Derek and concerns his time working for a multinational with plants at multiple …

  1. El blissett

    Boss is right - by showing there is a business case for 24/7 infrastructure call out support, Derek has destroyed the factory's shaky bottom line and maybe the whole company.... or even worse, denied the Boss's mates in infrastructure a nice call-out fee in a few days' time!

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      About nice call-out fees

      I've told this before, did not get a stern talking but also could not correct the problem.

      During the Y2K project I was in, my team was correcting an application consisting of almost a 100 programs chained together (just as COBOL likes) and we were made aware that that particular batch chain would break every single night, meaning an hefty on-call bill. And is had been going like that for years.

      So I analysed the failure point and it was seemingly simple to correct - IIRC there were numeric conversions that would fail under certain conditions, conditions that would almost certainly be met once or twice per run.

      That correction was deemed out-of-scope by our client rep, who, curiously, was also that application's IT boss.

  2. Caver_Dave
    Facepalm

    I recognise the story

    I was possibly standing outside when the story teller was getting the dressing down (it certainly sounds very similar to the story I could hear through the door!)

    I was awaiting my turn for fixing the "application error" by putting paper in the printer - again not our job! I was told the unions would be up in arms, but I heard nothing more.

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Re: I recognise the story

      I had a bollocking once for changing a 13A plug:- "you're not an electrician, the unions will not be happy if they find out". Ah the 1970s....

      1. PM from Hell
        Facepalm

        Re: I recognise the story

        I was tech support manager for a County Council. When the legislation on working on electrical equipment changed I had to organise a course on how to fit a plug on a mains lead for my comms team. The same team who literally built the x.25 switches for each site at the time from the chassis up :(.

        Our site electrician was actually embarrassed to have to do this for us but we needed the sign off of the H&SE ream were going to ban us from working on any electrical equipment. The Desktop team didn't have to have the training as all their mains leads came with molded plugs and were never re-wired.

        By the nature of the role members of both teams would regularly be working on hot devices with the case removed when performing testing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I recognise the story

          I recently hat to endure a company-wide mandatory mini online course (30 minutes) on cyber security -- which I've been contracted to consult on

          1. GreyWolf

            Re: I recognise the story

            Contractor Response to mandatory courses is: KA-CHING.

            1. adam 40 Silver badge
              Angel

              Re: I recognise the story

              Indeed I was contracting at Motorola nd they had an on-site course on programming security techniques.

              At the beginning the instructor went around the room asking each employee why they are there, they were saying good stuff like "to improve my knowledge of how to program with less vulnerabilities" and the like.

              Then he got to me and I simply replied "I'm a contractor, I'm paid to be here". At which all the other permie engineers burst out laughing :-)

          2. pirxhh

            Re: I recognise the story

            Same - I had to sit through a cyber security video before going on site. Notwithstanding that I had personally designed, written and recorded said video as a consultant to the site owner. I took the liberty to watch the thing in a language entirely foreign to me (translated by one of my native-speaker colleagues from my English version), just for fun.

          3. TomPhan

            Re: I recognise the story

            Due to (pointless) company reorganisations I was moved out of a department then a couple of years moved back, and as part of the "new employee induction" had to go on a training course to learn how to use an application I'd designed and coded.

            1. Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

              Re: I recognise the story

              This is kindergarden school level. Fellow how worked with my father, long ago, was forbidden to have a copy of, or read from a paper he had written. My father however could have, a copy of said paper in Toronto or Houston without problem, since he had a security clearance (born in UK) while the writer of the paper could not qualify having been born in what is now part of Hungary, but was then (the horror) Russia!

              1. gotes

                Re: I recognise the story

                but was then (the horror) Russia!

                Soviet Union.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: I recognise the story

                  No, Russia.

                  Hungary wasn't part of the Soviet Union. It was one of the Warsaw Pact countries though.

                  1. Precordial thump

                    Re: I recognise the story

                    The events of 1956 might lead one to question the sovereign integrity of borders definition of nationhood in Hungary's case.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: I recognise the story

                      True.

                      But the generally accepted definition of nationhood is membership of the UN. Even when they were controlled by Moscow Hungary and the other Warsaw Pact countries were members of the UN. Apart from Ukraine and Belarus, former members of the Soviet Union - Estonia, the 'stans, Georgia, etc - weren't UN members. They only got recognition as sovereign states when they declared independence after the SU collapsed.

              2. G.Y.

                Oppenheimer Re: I recognise the story

                When Robert Oppenheimer spoke about ("born classified") nuclear issues, he would pull a page from his briefcase, speak from it -- and hand it to an FBI guy, because he had no security clearance for his own text.

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: I recognise the story

                I wrote a strategy paper for a client but wasn't allowed to present it to the department concerned as I was a contractor.

                I was also told I couldn't go to the all-hands session where it was being presented as it was company confidential (again, just for clarify - I wrote the thing in the first place).

                I spent a delightful afternoon sitting in an empty department drinking tea and eating all the good biscuits.

              4. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

                Re: I recognise the story

                I wonder if this is accurate as to geography. Wikipedia says "The current boundaries of Hungary are the same as those defined by the Treaty of Trianon [in 1920], with some minor modifications until 1924 regarding the Hungarian-Austrian border and the notable exception of three villages that were transferred to Czechoslovakia in 1947." Also "through the 1947 Paris Peace Treaties, Hungary was again reduced to its immediate post-Trianon borders." On those statements, any territory that is in Hungary now has been in Hungary since 1920? Are we looking before 1920? Thanks in advance. ;-)

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: I recognise the story

              "as part of the "new employee induction" had to go on a training course to learn how to use an application I'd designed and coded."

              I've had that happen twice, except with hardware. One of the jobs I received mainly due to the fact that I worked on the engineering team that designed a number of machines the company used. It would have been fun to purposely fail the class to see what would happen.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I recognise the story

            You can’t be someone I’ve assigned mandatory security training to, then.

            The provider we selected (SafeStack Academy) let you skip directly over the lessons — the entire ridiculously long and cumbersome 5 minutes worth — right to the quiz, which if you pass, marks the lesson as complete.

            There are some who complain. “Why should I take mandatory training when I know this?” Well skip to the quiz and answer it in 30 seconds, as I did. We can never assume competence.

        2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: I recognise the story

          Same here. Fortunately the chap responsible for ensuring my training was a friend. The training course consisted of "You know how to put a plug on don't you? Of course I do. Right, you're certified."

        3. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: I recognise the story

          "I had to organise a course on how to fit a plug on a mains lead for my comms team"

          Many years ago I had to take a first aid course to get my driving license. The guy running the course was a professional paramedic with years of training - but had never in his life taken a simple four hour "first aid" course. So when he wanted his driving license, he checked and he wasn't allowed to take his own first aid course because he couldn't be the course trainer and a course participant at the same time; he had to take a course run by a colleague.

      2. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

        Re: I recognise the story

        I've seen a few of the insane things ordinary folk can do with a standard plug, even after they changed the colours for us colour blind types.

        Never mind the union, the insurers wouldn't like the risk of people being electrocuted.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I recognise the story

          Hah. I own a house which was professionally rewired and certified for letting before I bought it. When I had it re-checked the new sparky found that two double 13A outlets had been fed, via 0.75mm flex, from the lighting circuit.

          Installed by a professional, checked by a professional, signed off by a professional.

          1. BenDwire Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: I recognise the story

            Argh! Part P was such a pain in the early days.

            Having a degree in Electrical Engineering, and subsequently becoming a Chartered Engineer, I've rewired most of my houses over the years. That all came to a stop in 2005* when I was forced to employ a sparkie to replace my consumer unit, except that the 'young lad' couldn't figure out how to get my external lighting working.

            "Move aside if you will" and a quick rummage later everything was back on - the PFY had never experienced the strange type of wire used by the MAFF** back in the 1930's. I told him to just sign the paperwork and go away.

            Fast forward to today, and my current house still has wired fuses and an ELCB because I have to pay for a 'professional' to change it all. It's on the todo list, before I get that EV on the drive.

            * Part P came in to effect in 2005, and I also became a Fellow of the IET, so felt duty bound to abide by the rules

            ** Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries - it was an ex-government building.

            1. Martin an gof Silver badge

              Re: I recognise the story

              I have a degree in Electronic Engineering (didn't take the right module in the final year to get "Electrical and Electronic") and have always done all my own wiring. I changed career to be a self-employed domestic electrician a couple of years before Part P and although I did take "The Regs" (C&G 2381) before starting, when registration came along the inspector took my qualifications at face value, looked at a couple of jobs I'd done (including the house I was then living in) and signed me off. I had to have test equipment, but they didn't even require the C&G in Inspection & Testing (2391?)

              Years passed and I got a salaried job and let the Part P slide. We started a project to build our own house and I was always going to do the electrics (and the plumbing, but that's another story) and looked into re-registering. The list of mandated training courses is now as long as your web browser window (and I can't count my degree any more) and with the registration fee would have cost almost as much as getting the job done by someone already in the business, let alone the timescale to study the courses. Oh, and the mandatory requirement to have some work to inspect means I have no clue how someone can start up on their own unless they can find an existing electrician to work with first!

              Easy, I thought, I'll do the grunt work myself and get an electrician in to inspect as I go along and sign it off at the end.

              Very, very few electricians are willing to do this because signing it off means putting their professional name to the job and thus their own insurance, and makes them liable to come back to fix things. One electrician wanted to be on site with me every day I worked, which wasn't viable as I was doing this mainly on weekends and evenings.

              Eventually I found someone who was willing to come a couple of times - first to approve my plans, then to check (before boarding and plastering) that I hadn't run cables in stupid places, then (once wired up) to do a whole-day thorough inspection & test, which involved dismantling every fitting.

              And because he was up-to-date (I had last been registered ten years previously) he pointed out a couple of things I'd missed, even though I had read the latest regulations. In particular the requirement to use "fireproof" fixings where cables run across egress routes - so metal cable clips, or metal bands around bundles, that sort of thing.

              And still I look around and think, "if only I'd fitted a double socket there instead of a fused connection unit"!

              M.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: I recognise the story

                EEs can perform house wiring in a very acceptible manner. They can also introduce major hazards because they "know electricity" but don't know code.

                For example: an electrician might not know why the grounded and grounding conductors shall only be bonded at the service panel or at a separately derived system and shall be separated at a main panel, but they will follow that rule. An EE is likely to think "well, ground and neutral are connected together at this panel, so it's just a good or even better to connect them at that other panel as well.

                Source: I have a BECE and have also successfully wired a new house, including passing the electrical inspection.

              2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: I recognise the story

                "Easy, I thought, I'll do the grunt work myself and get an electrician in to inspect as I go along and sign it off at the end."

                A big portion of a job is often drilling holes and running cable. If you can do that properly, it can be a big savings in labor. Just leave the important connecting up to the sparkie so they're not too far out on a limb. I had a low voltage license to do home theatre and alarm systems. I found the courses to be really boring and far off of the mark from the real world. A big problem is regs don't keep up with the state of the art.

            2. Bill 21

              Re: I recognise the story

              Just sign up for the shortest/cheapest 18th Ed course. a man of your cal-iber should have no trouble. And away you go.

          2. tinman

            Re: I recognise the story

            ah, but professional whats?

          3. Imhotep Silver badge

            Re: I recognise the story

            The house we just bought had two subpanels, one with breakers and blank plates glued in place with Gorilla Glue.

            It also had one ceiling light that didn't work. The electrician replacing the panels traced the fault to a wire that had burned through- it had been stapled so tightly to a joist that the wires shorted out and burned through. Said electrician came down from the attic jubilant with said cable - he now had another example of what can cause fires for his friend, the Fire Marshall, to use in his safety talks.

            1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

              Re: I recognise the story

              I had the Cable TV people randomly drill through the floor and straight through a power line - directly in line with the socket on the wall indicating a power line was there.

      3. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: I recognise the story

        Its always management coming out with 'The Unions Wont be Happy'. The time I spent active in a union we saved the company more money by knowing the company and country rules than any of the management who came out with this crap ever managed let alone made for the company.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I recognise the story

        That is so much like my industry....

        "BOSS, the bulbs blown on this light."

        "Report it to estates then."

        "BOSS, estates have raised an 'up to £1000' purchase request for repair!"

  3. lglethal Silver badge
    Trollface

    What Derek needed to do...

    ... was point out to his Boss, that he could perform an internal charge at Callout rates (plus plus plus...) to the Infrastructure Team for fixing their Failure. If the Infrastructure Team objected, pointing out to the CEO that had the failure not been corrected when it was, the loss of production would have cost $X (almost certainly multiple factors of 10 higher than the Charge on the Infrastructure Team). Of course the Boss could also then request additional resources for his department as reward for keeping the wheels spinning when other teams where letting the company down...

    Solidarity in management only extends to the point where one's own department could get a leg up...

    1. Fred Daggy

      Re: What Derek needed to do...

      Some days you're the pigeon, some days the statue.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: What Derek needed to do...

        And good deeds never go unpunished...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What Derek needed to do...

        I usually use "some days you're the dog, other days you're the fire hydrant", but I like yours too.

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: What Derek needed to do...

          "Sometimes you're the bug ; sometimes you're the windscreen."

          Old Aussie version and the first one I heard.

          1. hayzoos

            Re: What Derek needed to do...

            Early in my career I heard it as "sometimes you're the shit, sometimes you're the fan" .

      3. KA1AXY
        WTF?

        Re: What Derek needed to do...

        What Derek needed to do...was stand up to his boss and tell him, in no uncertain terms, that he was not going to listen to a dressing down as if he was a small child.

        "Boss," Derek should have said, "what I did may have been outside the lines, but the plant was down and in my professional judgement, I did what I felt needed to be done to remedy the fault. We may disagree about that, but let's discuss it like adults. If you can't do that right now, please call me when you feel you can"

    2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: What Derek needed to do...

      What Derek needed to do...

      ... was point out to his Boss ...

      His boss dosent sound 'grounded' enough for these kinds of practicalities

    3. FBee

      Some Days You Eat The Bear And Some Days The Bear Eats You

      1974 album by Ian Matthews

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Some Days You Eat The Bear And Some Days The Bear Eats You

        "Eating the Bear", Walk Under Ladders, Joan Armatrading 1981

  4. b0llchit Silver badge
    Pint

    SEP squared

    So Derek has managed to shift the SEP field from "cabling is SEP" to "the boss is SEP".

    That is a very commendable way of dealing with a boss.

  5. Mark #255
    Facepalm

    Dodgy connection

    Obviously not in the same league, but I once spent a couple of hours trying to get my laptop plugged into the big meeting room screen. But my HDMI cable seemed dodgy (which was odd, because I'd used it elsewhere without issue). Tried another, and another (by this point I'm "borrowing" them from vacant screens in the office outside). Some just don't work, others drop the connection every few seconds.

    Eventually, I realised that the HDMI cable between my laptop and the wall socket was not the only one, and checked behind the screen to find one of the plugs of the other cable wasn't fully seated.

    Then I just had to return all the borrowed cables...

    1. keith_w Silver badge

      Re: Dodgy connection

      Strangely enough, I came downstairs this morning to discover an error message on my desktop screen. Apparently one (or more) of the cats had been playing near the desktop (which is on the floor beside the desk) and dislodged the HDMI cable.

      1. ChrisC Silver badge

        Re: Dodgy connection

        When she was younger, one of our cats took a liking to curling up behind my PC tower to take advantage of the nice warm air venting out of the PSU, but in doing so she'd always end up getting partly tangled in the loose cables hanging down the back of the tower from all the stuff plugged in above the PSU - USB, audio, video capture, and DVI...

        One day I discovered, to my utter delight, that the repeated tugging and pulling on one of the DVI cables had caused the corresponding socket on the graphics card to fail (I'm guessing it popped a solder joint, just as happens from time to time on headphone sockets after a while). Fortunately this was on a card with more DVI outputs than I had monitors, so the fix was to a) move the cable onto one of the unused outputs, and b) invest in some cat-resistant cable management hardware (aka heavy duty cable trunking large enough to swallow the entire spaghetti factory of cabling required by the PC) to minimise the amount of slack cabling left within reach of curious kitten paws.

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

          Re: Dodgy connection

          I suppose it was cat-9 cable?

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Dodgy connection

            From Mouser?

      2. Trollslayer
        Flame

        Re: Dodgy connection

        This is why Displayport has a retention clip.

        Of course there are some none compliant cables that don't have the retention clip at either end.

  6. Ikoth

    Ultimate Jobsworth

    Around the turn of the millennium I did a contract stint for a local authority on a project to hook up all their schools to the internet. The job was split into phases – the comms crew would hit site to install the CPE, a week or so later the cabling guys would arrive to CAT5 the building and then my team would turn up to install the (singular) Cisco switch and get some lights blinking. Another crew would follow in our wake to install the (singular) school server and back office PCs.

    On one occasion me and my (staff) partner arrived at one site to find that the cabling crew hadn’t plugged network cables into the patch panel in the comms rack, where we were installing the switch. Instead, they’d just left a box of unopened cables in the corner of the room. My sidekick immediately pulled out his phone to talk to his manager about “the problem”. I literally could not believe what I was hearing. I pointed to the box of cables and mimed opening a zip-lock bag, uncoiling the cable and plugging it into the patch panel and switch. Still in deep conversation with the boss, he ignored me. So I went over to the box, picked out a cable and pulled the bag open. At this point he bellowed STOP!!!! at the top of his lungs, muttered something into his phone and thrust it into may hand. At which point I got told in no uncertain terms that I was not, under any circumstances, to plug in the patch cable, as it “was not our job” and that the cabling crew would be scheduled to go back and plug the missing cords into the patch panel.

    We then had to explain the problem to the school secretary and apologise that it would be another 4 – 6 weeks before their school would be connected.

    I vowed to never take another public sector contract again.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ultimate Jobsworth

      Doing the same job for a county council at the same time we would send out a couple of junior techs with a van full of equipment and cables.

      We would connect the comms gear up and soak test both ends of the connection in the office a couple of weeks before so all the techs had to do was plug it in and cable everything up.

      It was a system that worked very well and cost effectively until one of the techs drove a transit full of equipment into a dyke during icy weather. Unfortunately we had opted to transport the kit unboxed as we needed to get 30-40 PC's in for each secondary school at the time. we'd also make sure we had cabling contract cover on standby and our comms team available over the phone to sort out any teething problems on the day.

      At the other extreme I was doing some comms rooms audits for a large government department. They had been ripped off by their service provider and I would actually find piles of un-racked powered off switches they had paid to be installed by the outsourcing company. In one call center the network wend down while I was there. The on-ite support tech employed by the department was not even allowed to go into the comms room now support was outsourced. I found a frayed cable running out of the front of the comms cabinet which had the glass cabinet door resting on it. I could see the cable ran into the fibre switch on the other side of the room so found a patch panel and replaced it. All hell kicked off from the service provider when the site appeared on the network without their intervention. As I worked for a central trouble shooting team and had already reported what i had done to the Assistant Director who ran the site this was rapidly put down but the on-site techie would have faced disciplinary action. I did report back the the whole room needed recabling to a decent standard and running the single connection tot he fibre switch outside of the false floor was completely unacceptable bt that didnt take place during my tenure there.

      1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: Ultimate Jobsworth

        > drove a transit full of equipment into a dyke during icy weather

        The other type of soak test.

    2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Ultimate Jobsworth

      I vowed to never take another public sector contract again.

      In defence of the public sector , thats not typical.

      In fact i would imagine you'd run across that kind of bloody mindedness more often in the private sector , especially when dealing with contracts between compaines

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Ultimate Jobsworth

        In fact i would imagine you'd run across that kind of bloody mindedness more often in the private sector

        That's the complete opposite of my experience, but then I've never worked for large corporates(*), only small companies where the attitude is "if you can fix it, do so".

        (*) To be precise, I worked for one of the biggest(**) for ~3 months after a buy out. My resignation went in about the time the US corporate management told the local UK management to introduce the company song book.

        (**) So big our nine digit acquisition price made a 1 ULP difference to their quarterly report figures.

    3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Ultimate Jobsworth

      I vowed to never take another public sector contract again.

      If a lightbulb fails in my local primary school, the janitor has to call in someone from 100 miles away to change it. The joys of PFI

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ultimate Jobsworth

      Ah yes, public sector unions.

      We got a nice new minicomputer for the engineers to use, saved us having to use 300bps dialup modems to a big IBM somewhere. Lots of VT100 terminals, very nice, until the unions discovered that we wanted them on our desks. That was not on, only typists had keyboards on their desks, not engineers. We were only permitted to use terminals that were installed in a designated terminal room (with the modems). Seems they didn't count as keyboards, wtf? We were threatened with dire retribution by the union members if we dared break the rules.

      Screw them, 90% of us weren't in the union anyway. We put the VT100s on our desks, pulled in the cables through the ducts ourselves. One or two union loyalists refused to use them, but after being left sitting alone and laughed at in the terminal room most gave up.

    5. Rob Daglish Bronze badge

      Re: Ultimate Jobsworth

      We fetched in a contractor about that time to help us get all of our schools on - we had our own cabling team, and two subbies, but if something like that happened round here you’d have been told to crack on and get it sorted - our bosses were reasonably pragmatic about it. I think the only install that didn’t get completed was one where the patch panel hadn’t been fitted for some reason!

  7. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Strangely, I've never been able to identify the boundaries of the SEP field and obviously I'd never knowingly circumvent the system ...

    I always exist in the IBFI (Its Broken Fix It) aether ... "You're a computer tech - fix my computer chair ...", "You're the technician, fix my glasses", or even "You're the technician you can fix my intimate hair trimmer"

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Working for smallish companies over the years I've found that. If it has a switch it's probably IT's problem!

      As I'm also the person who tends to have hammers, screwdrivers, etc. so minor repairs also fall to IT.

      1. Look! A big red button!

        "You're the technician you can fix my intimate hair trimmer"

        I vowed to never take another pubis sector contract again

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Broken toilet seat?

        Locked your keys in the car?

        Dishwasher not powering on?

        Yeah, that's IT's problem*

        * successfully resolved I should mention

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
          Mushroom

          you can solve anything with enough explosives

      3. NateGee

        Had a customer do that

        Too true!

        I was once sent to buy a kettle because the downstairs wall mounted hot water heater had packed up.

        IT weren't the ones who noticed nor reported this - just a decree from upper manglement to the head of IT to get one of the team to Makro to buy one from petty cash since they didn't want people walking up and downstairs to make a brew.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Had a customer do that

          We;;, of course. All other staff/departments are people who sit at desks or machines or whatever DOING something to make money for the company. IT support are always just wandering around doing nothing obvious so clearly have the time for errands like that :-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Unfortunately for me, my missus is one of those people who bug me with:

      1) You're an engineer. the Internet isn't working. Why can't you fix it?

      2) The smart TV isn't working. You're an engineer, why can't you fix it?

      3) The washing machine isn't working. You're an engineer, why can't you fix it?

      etc etc etc.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Why cant you

        Surely you can fix most of those, I've even managed to repair a couple of washing machines after things got trapped in seals.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Why cant you

          We've just replaced a 3 yr old washing machine that came up with errors that the maker never ever found out what they were. I think we had 3 new motherboards and enough components to make a top of the range Italian coffee maker.

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Why cant you

            It wasn't, by any chance, made by an Italian manufacturer, the name of which starts with a 'Z'?

            I've heard those have reliability problems.

            With white goods, either go uber-cheap and expect to replace every 3-5 years, or buy a more expensive German-made one. (e.g. Bosch)

            Forget the very expensive designer ones, with mildy amusing names, they invariably aren't worth the extra money for the sake of looking pretty and having a big advertising logo in the middle of your kitchen.

            1. Tom 7 Silver badge

              Re: Why cant you

              It was a Samsung, not a cheap one - we have a couple of holiday cottages and needed a serious bit of kit to cope with vast amounts of laundry some people manage to produce! The other half is seriously diligent when researching these things and it should have been a good buy. Even managed to get some engineers round to fix it under guarantee who seemed to know what they were doing and it still fought back. One did try to recommend a whole new replacement but got overruled. We know have a new expensive one which so hasn't thrown an error yet but I fully expect it to be a well out of band error when it does, Things either work as expected here or just fail in ways that baffles the fuck out of everyone. I do wonder if its being in the country at the end of a lot of wibbly wobbly mains feed, regular lightning outages and frequent low voltages.

              1. Old Used Programmer Silver badge

                Re: Why cant you

                A line conditioner (with a suitable power rating) might be a wise investment.

              2. adam 40 Silver badge

                Re: Why cant you

                When I rent a holiday cottage I take all my washing dirty, and use their machines to clean it while I'm out seeing the sights or down the pub. Doesn't everyone???

                1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                  Re: Why cant you

                  I suspect that some families produce more washing than others. For example, those with small children, staying at a holiday cottage for a week. They may not want to bring multiple suitcases full of clean clothes with them for the Little Darlings when they want to play in the mud.

                2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

                  Re: Why cant you

                  Today's (17/01/22) ITV4 repeat of British spy-type show "The Avengers", also tomorrow with sign language at 08:05, is "Stay Tuned", in which spy guy John Steed plans a holiday but is grabbed by brainwashers and finds himself three weeks later still thinking he's just setting off. Tara King, setting him right, asks whether he would take a suitcase of dirty laundry on holiday, which is what he has. So the answer in that case is no.

              3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                Re: Why cant you

                Whilst Samsung used to have a name for reliability, I get the impression that they have gone downhill over the last decade or two. They seem now to be engaged in the "who can sell the shiniest new phone that costs as much as a used car" market.

            2. Phrontis

              Re: Why cant you

              LG for washing machines and TV's. The German ones all seem to be made in Italy now, if not Turkey and the rest seem to be made in Turkey. If you want your house to burn down biuy Beko; allegedly.

              1. Rob Daglish Bronze badge

                Re: Why cant you

                Hotpoint seem to do a good job of self combustion. I got a call from the Mrs one day to say the washer was giving an error. A quick Google suggested it was the locking switch, so top came off to reveal lots of very crispy wire and a blackened smudge where the lock switch should have been. At that point, I downed tools and rang Hotpoint. To their credit, an engineer was soon dispatched to us who asked if we were happy to have the switch replaced or if we wanted a new machine! Thinking a new machine seemed excessive, we let him replace the switch, although the old ones remains went in a padded bag to be posted back… about three weeks later, there was a general recall campaign and all of those washers were “not to be used, and we will replace your machine”. However, due to the sheer number of replacements needed, we’d be without a washer for umpteen months, so we decided to get a new one elsewhere and sell the replacement from Hotpoint when it arrived.

                While trying to find a replacement, they recalled the tumble dryer as well, so I effectively bought myself a washer and dryer for Christmas that year.

              2. This post has been deleted by its author

            3. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

              Re: Why cant you

              Bosch is just Electrolux. All of the parts are the same.

              Try AEG or Miele.

              1. Varn

                Re: Why cant you

                AEG is basically Electrolux too - at least for kitchen appliances.

        2. David Nash

          Re: Why cant you

          It's normally "I'm a techie, I should be able to fix it"

          Applies to many items, washing machine included.

        3. Joey Potato

          Re: Why cant you

          Seals are surely the purview of marine biologists.

          1. H in The Hague Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Why cant you

            "Seals are surely the purview of marine biologists."

            A friend of mine used to run the in-house translation department (when there were such things) of a large oil company. One day he got a phone call from an angry freelance translator complaining about them clubbing seals to death to use their oil in the refinery.

            Turns out the document to be translated contained a reference to "seal oil", which is a barrier liquid pumped through sealing components of rotating equipment. Guess the translator had a language degree rather than an engineering degree.

            Here's one to start the weekend -->

            1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: Why cant you

              & a chaser shot of Canadian Club.

          2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: Why cant you

            Seals are surely the purview of marine biologists.

            It's Friday, so this is the only possible reply.

            1. rototype

              Re: Why cant you

              Reminds me of a time when I literally got my mate to fall off his chair he was laughing so hard:

              We were talking about seals (in this case for air rifles and I mentionned that the seals came in a pack

              'What's a seal pack?' he asks (meaning the price)

              'About 2 1/2inches' I replied.

          3. MJB7

            Re: Seals are surely the purview of marine biologists.

            The Mammal Society is, like most charities is officially a company, so it has to have a common seal. The Mammal Society's common seal shows ... a common seal.

        4. ShadowSystems

          Re: Why cant you

          "...getting trapped in a seal." made me think of a line by Kip Adotta from the song "Wet Dream" about "just fix the damned thing & leave my private life out of it, ok?" =-D

          1. Shooter
            Happy

            Re: Why cant you

            For the uninitiated:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6l1GvDWtccI

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why cant you

          I fixed a lady-friend's washing machine, it was flooding and her husband's plan was to buy a new one. Husband was away on manoeuvres with the territorials and we were taking advantage of his absence. The bed-sheets needed washing so I took the machine to bits. A coin was blocking one of the drainage pipes. My mistake was to leave the retrieved coin on top of the machine, hubby noticed it on his return. His pleasure at finding the machine had been serviced for free didn't do much to reduce his annoyance with me for "servicing" his wife (also for free, seemed a fair trade to me...)

      2. l8gravely

        Hell, I just ripped apart my electric stove/oven combo, ordered the new part and swapped it in. The $400 I spent beat the $1200+ it would have cost to buy a new unit and have it ordered, plus the the time I would have spent looking or a new unit, negotiating with SWMBO over features and looks and such.

        And I'm still cursing the cheapskate who didnt' put shutoff valves around the FHW (Forced Hot Water) heating system zone pumps, so they could be swapped out when they die without draining the entire damn system.

        And when I got a guy in to quote me a new heating system because they noticed my oil tank is leaking a tiny tiny bit (in all fairness, the system is probably 40+ years old) he was surprised I wanted those types of valves, because most people were too cheap to "do it right" for his company.

        The other guys said they "only" do it right from the get go, since they have to maintain it.

      3. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Washing machine

        Did the drum bearings on a Bosch once. Took 3 days (you have to chisel off the drum clips, then use screws to re-unite the halves). Month later, the motor suffered a fatal insulation failure. New machine called for.

        Gah!

    3. dak
      Angel

      The Angel of Competence

      https://dilbert.com/search_results?terms=angel%20of%20competence

    4. Old Used Programmer Silver badge

      Checking the fix...

      On that last one, did you insist on being present to see the device in action to verify that your fix worked properly?

    5. MrReynolds2U Bronze badge

      I've just put up some new wall-hung posters with the company's new "core values".

      It's not just "if it's got a plug". It's pretty much: if no-one has it explicitly in their contract, then it's a job for IT. It'll be an interesting day when someone else has to lift a finger.

  8. AdamT

    Pretty much the same

    Yup. A company I worked for had developed a digital printing system for the foil that goes on the back of tablet/pill blister packs. It had stopped working after the pharmaceutical company it had been supplied to had moved the packaging machine it was attached to and they needed to get it working again. All the people who had worked at our end had moved departments so I - the relatively new guy - got sent to the US with a laptop, the source code and the old compiler that was needed.

    Took me a while to hunt it down and, in the end, I had to resort to tracing every single wire from every single sensor and, yes, someone unknown had removed a panel which had a ribbon cable attached. Obviously the ribbon cable was too short, they'd half yanked it out of the IDC clip and then quietly put the panel back. So I carefully removed it, quietly took it to a vice, gave it a nice squeeze and then put it back. Everything now worked.

    Not sure what the bill was (consulting rates, flights, hotels, car hire, etc.) but that was probably pretty expensive for just using a vice.

    Or to be more accurate "for knowing which bit to squeeze in the vice"...

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Pretty much the same

      >"for knowing which bit to squeeze in the vice"...

      Yes I always use the movie Casino as a guide to dealing with users

      1. stiine Silver badge

        Re: Pretty much the same

        I dont' get the reference, is that a gunshot into the forehead ?

  9. Kane Silver badge
    Unhappy

    It's a sad day for this IT rag...

    ...when the SEP field requires a footnote to explain it's origins.

    1. JeffB

      Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

      I tried following Hitchhiker's, both the BBC2 series and the film, but found them to be great cures for insomnia, so it has never received more than 10 minutes of my attention.

      1. b0llchit Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

        So... your SEP field has been very strong. It works!

      2. 42656e4d203239

        Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

        Try the radio transmissions... they were the best. After that the A/V franchise went into a bit of a decline...

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

          The books were pretty damn good too.

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

          The radio series came first, all the others are but pale imitations.

          1. Kane Silver badge
            Alien

            Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

            "The radio series came first, all the others are but pale imitations."

            Think of them more as...iterations!

        3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

          I never forgave them for turning Trillion from the cool, intelligent astrophysicist of the radio series into the lisping airhead bimbo of the TV version. Zaphod's second head and third arm were also rubbish, but it was the casual sexism which most annoyed me.

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

            I never quite forgave them for replacing Geoffrey McGivern with David Dixon (Though I have warmed up to his portrayal over the years) as Ford Prefect.

            PS We need a towel icon.

        4. David Nash

          Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

          They were the original, even before the books.

      3. Inventor of the Marmite Laser

        Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

        Agreed. The book and the radio versions were far better. You can make an office block fly in a book and on radio far better than any CGI

        1. Mattjimf

          Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

          Currently on Life the Universe and Everything audiobook with my son (listen when taking him to and from his swimming), just a the point where Arthur has just had a house party hit him in the small of the back.

        2. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

          Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...now reincarnated as HHG recollections

          I think the HHG book series was at least one book too long and Douglas Adams clearly thought so too; my guess is that's why the 5th book ended by killing everybody and destroying the galaxy just to make sure that nobody could make him write a sixth volume.

          But, IMO the best HHG version was live onstage at the Hammersmith Odeon: Vogons leaping off the stage to beat up the audience, cardboard police blasters shooting real laser beams during the shootout that blew up the computer-bank, causing everybody to end up in Milliways. Yes, it was even better than the radio version. Its only downside was that by the time I saw it the bar had stopped selling Pan-Galactic Gargle-Blasters in the interval.

          Zaphod was played by two actors in the same clothes, so his heads could and did argue: much better than the Beeb's patheric, obviously dead plastic second head.

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...now reincarnated as HHG recollections

            Didn't quite have the same experience of an adaptation to a stage show at The Drum in the Theatre Royal Plymouth, don't recall how they dealt with the head issue, the audience became the frozen Golgafrinchans at one point.

            The thing that really pissed me off was as it was the matinee performance, the production skipped over the Milliways scenes (I still have the program souvenir (Not the t-shirt) that listed Garkbit, the Dish Of The Day etc).

          2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

            Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...now reincarnated as HHG recollections

            How dare you say that a trilogy is too long when it reaches 5 books?!?

            1. Down not across Silver badge

              Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...now reincarnated as HHG recollections

              Five sounds about right. Fourth and fifth in Foundation trilogy were okish, but six and seven were stretching it a bit too much.

          3. rototype

            Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...now reincarnated as HHG recollections

            "my guess is that's why the 5th book ended by killing everybody and destroying the galaxy just to make sure that nobody could make him write a sixth volume."

            But the 6th volume was written, only not by Mr Adams, instead by Eion Colfer although the style is pretty similar.

        3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

          >You can make an office block fly in a book and on radio far better than any CGI

          "The pictures are better on Radio" - it's a famous quote but I don't know who first said it

          1. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

            And even better in black and white on the page.

        4. that one in the corner
          Coat

          Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

          The vinyl LPs were (probably still are, if I knew where I'd put them) Jolly Good Fun as well. Nicely demonstrated how Mr Adams was unable to restrain himself from never quite telling the story the same way twice.

          Mine has the yellow duck in the pocket.

          1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

            Part of the variation of course is the bits of the radio one that John Lloyd wrote, and that I gather Douglas Adams had second thoughts about having a co-writer for book publication.

            It's also one of "those" programmes where we hear that the last page of script was being typed while the actors were performing the start of the scene. And they only had the studio till go home time.

        5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

          "You can make an office block fly in a book and on radio far better than any CGI"

          Yes, the visual effects budget on radio shows is unlimited :-)

      4. This post has been deleted by its author

      5. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
        Alien

        Re:I tried following Hitchhiker's

        Sacrilege!

        did you get to the bit with the poetry?

        1. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

          Re: Re:I tried following Hitchhiker's

          "did you get to the bit with the poetry?"

          With all due respect to the unquestionable vogonity of Prst. V. Jeltz's poetry I always thought that the very first page of H2G2 was already pure gold.

      6. Def Silver badge

        Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

        I remember listening to the radio series as a kid (my parents were fans - or at least my dad was). I read the books many times and watched the old TV show (which was "entertaining theatre", but nothing special).

        I managed exactly three minutes and 42 seconds of the movie before switching it off.

        1. GlenP Silver badge

          Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

          I managed exactly three minutes and 42 seconds of the movie before switching it off

          I think that's 3 minutes more than I managed! :-)

          I've read the books and got CDs for the radio series.

      7. scott2718282828

        Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

        I recommend the books. The writing is hilarious, and your imagination should provide better imagery than what they managed to put on film. Then there's the issue of what they left out completely or changed to be unrecognizable.

    2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

      It's a sad day for this IT rag...

      ...when the SEP field requires a footnote to explain it's origins.

      On the plus side the managed to not write "for that was not his name" for the millionth time after reporting the output of the regonimiser

    3. Notas Badoff

      Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

      Whenever I realize that I've just said "It can't be this bad!" for the eleven-dozenth time that day, I resort to H2G2. After a few pages and a smile, I sigh "I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my profession" and hope a freak wormhole opens up I can jump into.

      1. David Nash

        Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

        It must be Thursday.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: It's a sad day for this IT rag...

          And the faithful shall respond in somber tones:

          I could never get the hang of Thursdays

  10. Jay 2

    Not to the same standard as some of the other comments, but as a humble sys admin (who is part dinosaur/part furniture as I've been around a while) it seems I frequently have to point out to our devs how their applications work when they screw something up in the config. Usually it's copying something from one env to another without actually knowing what all the config does. Sometimes it's complaining that something suddenly doesn't work and it must be a system problem, even though it was working fine then they changed some config/jar or whatever and now it doesn't work. Or asking me why something doesn't work without doing something useful like looking in the application logs where there are obvious errors.

    All SEP as in most cases I'm just responsible that there is a system, that Java is available and that there are JVMs for them to put stuff onto. As to what the JVMs actually do, well that's not my sphere of influence...

  11. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    One day, I came into work to find we had no network in part of the building. It was a part of the building without many people in it, so we didn't get any complaints, and I only noticed a problem because I tried to log into a machine in that part. I went into the comms room, and found that the switch connecting that part to the network had hung. Quick as a flash, I thought I'll power it off and on again. So, I did. When it was plugged in again, the switch was still hung. So, I tried again. Still no difference. As it turns out, ​I had pulled the wrong plug.

    In my defence, these switches had no mains switch on them, and the cabinet was tightly packed, so it was difficult to reach around the back for the mains connector. I could reach the power strip at the back of the rack though, and traced the power cable to what I thought was the right socket. A difficult job due to a combination of the fact that every mains cable was black cable with an IEC plug on one end, and a standard 3 pin mains plug on the other, and the fact that there was almost no light in the back of the cabinet. There were several identical switches in this cabinet.

    Anyway, I digress. I had powered down the wrong switch twice now, so I powered it up, and left it to boot. As anyone who has dealt with them will tell you, Cisco enterprise switches do not boot quickly, and it seems even longer when you are anxiously awaiting the boot up.

    I had good reason to be anxious. Instead of a switch that was lightly used, and not actually working, I'd accidentally powered down a working switch that was very heavily used (every port patched, with a light on). Thankfully, no one complained. Not even our networks guys, who have a system monitoring all the network infrastructure so were getting warnings.

    I eventually did find the right switch, and rebooting it did cure the problem, so all was well.

    1. Down not across Silver badge

      Tracing cables

      A difficult job due to a combination of the fact that every mains cable was black cable with an IEC plug on one end, and a standard 3 pin mains plug on the other, and the fact that there was almost no light in the back of the cabinet.

      That's where having a tiny zip tie or somethingequivalent is really useful. Wrap it around the cord at known end and slide it down to the other end. Of course if there are any tight bundles that its unlikely to work very well.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tracing cables

        ...while cursing at the previous bloke for not labelling it correctly in the first place!

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Tracing cables

        Thinking there is a market for coloured power cables

        1. stiine Silver badge

          Re: Tracing cables

          Dell PowerEge servers (love 'em or hate 'em) have a pair of buttons on the front and back panels that cause a pair of lights to blink, front and back, so you can push the button in the front and after walking to the back of the rack you can find which server you're actually supposed to be working on.

        2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Tracing cables

          I label plugs. Sometimes just with date of purchase of item.

    2. stiine Silver badge

      Ah, yes, but if you reboot the switch to which the monitoring system itself is connected...

  12. Sam not the Viking
    Pint

    SEP became MP

    Early finish Friday afternoon, last people to leave, and the burglar alarm can't be set: 'Fault'. We'd had some problems with intrusion attempts and with a deep sigh we called the 24-hour service company. Being the hero, or drawing the short straw, I stayed behind to await their arrival. To be fair, it was only an hour or so wait and the who guy turned up was also anxious to get the problem sorted and get on with his own end-of-week refreshments.

    He quickly diagnosed a cable fault, which drew a groan as the cabling had been installed by an artisan better suited to serving spaghetti. Nevertheless, the fault was deemed to be 'between buildings' and he prepared to pull a new cable through; this was going to be a long job. I suggested that we inspect the access duct-covers first...... Well, the fault was obvious, something had chewed through the cable. The burglar-alarm detective said "That's a *very* big rat." He also advised he was not going to put his hands in any duct containing "that"..... We, meaning I, had to make some other sort of provision. His problem became mine.

    I retrieved a pair of welding gauntlets and pulled sufficient free spaghetti/cable up to the surface for repairs to be effected. And a large board to place over the hole temporarily. The repairs worked, the alarm was set and the weekend started a bit later than usual.

    The following Monday, I told the factory guys about the event and they said they had seen this rat and confirmed it was 'bigger than you'd like to meet'. Cue call to a well-known exterminator.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: SEP became MP

      Rats do occasionally grow to extreme sizes. I bought a place with a badly designed chicken house - 6" off the ground so ideal for them to be able to hide underneath feeding off grain that had time to chew through wood to make holes in the house and somehow encourage the chickens to put their heads through and eat them off. A cat from the next door farm adopted us and it was a little cutie but a ferocious ratter and the remains of rats we found about the place grew as it became more experienced. It eventually caught the mother which had haunches a rabbit would have been proud of and an 8" tail that was a good 3/4 of an inch thick where it joined the body. the upper body and head were missing but I think it was bigger than the cat before she and the jackdaws devoured most of the remains.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: SEP became MP

        You should write horror novels !

      2. Mattjimf

        Re: SEP became MP

        Sounds like the Goblin Rat - https://youtu.be/OFhellnZlWQ

      3. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge
        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: SEP became MP

          Best quote in the entire film (so up against stiff competition):

          Buttercup: We’ll never survive.

          Westley: Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.

      4. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: SEP became MP

        The biggest rat I ever saw was lying dead (I am glad to say) in the gutter outside the Isle of Man Maritime Museum in Castletown. It was the size of a large cat - and no, it wasn't a museum prop. Just a bloody enormous rat.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: SEP became MP

          Coming through Sidcup station (An area packed with fast food outlets, restaurant's & drama students) with a fellow commuter as we approached the sensor operated doors, the biggest fucking rat I have never wanted to see ran past the doors on the outside.

          (Icon) Did you see the size of that thing?

          Yes, was it a rat?

          I think so, it was about the size of a smallish dog*

          Want to to give it a minute before we go out?

          Yes!

          *I don't mean a Yorkie or similar breed either.

    2. WayUpNorth
      Joke

      Re: SEP became MP

      You mean to say Rodent Removal isn't in you IT job spec? Sheesh, easy life!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: SEP became MP

        Rodent replacement?

        "My mouse isn't working!"

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: SEP became MP

          "My mouse isn't working!"

          Have you tried cleaning its ball ?

      2. Korev Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: SEP became MP

        > You mean to say Rodent Removal isn't in you IT job spec?

        It should be, pretty much every computer at my work has a mouse...

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: SEP became MP

          It should be, pretty much every computer at my work has a mouse...

          You mean "It shouldn't be" as users get most upset when you remove that mouse.

          1. rototype

            Re: SEP became MP

            Had to do rodent removal from a desktop on a farm once, someone had left an expansion blanking plate off and they (2 of them) had cooked in there and taken out hte power supply.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SEP became MP

      I retrieved a pair of welding gauntlets and pulled sufficient free spaghetti/cable up to the surface for repairs to be effected. And a large board to place over the hole temporarily.

      Out of curiosity - how long did the "temporary repair" last?

      If it's like mine - probably still there!

  13. chivo243 Silver badge
    Windows

    But, but, but...

    Derek, It was the right thing to do! Boss, Tell it to the shop stewards! Sounds like the movie industry, you can't get a union guy to scratch his ass without orders...

    So, my favs like "Not my Monkey, not my circus", and "Waaay above my pay grade" do apply after all!

  14. CuChulainn Silver badge

    Déjà vu...

    "That's not your job!" snapped the boss.

    Christ, if I had a quid for every time that scenario came up when I was in the rat race, I'd be retired now, too.

    It used to manifest itself in many ways. My favourite was when you changed roles, but your replacement in your old department would steadfastly refuse to ask for advice if he or she encountered problems, and said department would end up having to reinvent the wheel to fix things. It happened time and again.

    A massive waste of resources.

    1. TomPhan

      Re: Déjà vu...

      I've experienced the situation where the old department was told not to ask me for advice, and to figure things out from scratch. Though that was more because of petty managers than anything else.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can't remember ever being told off for fixing something

    Well, not seriously, anyway.

    On the other hand, I have occasionally been instructed to NOT fix something, since the root cause lay elsewhere, and the team/person who owned the system in question needed to get out of their well-padded chair and deal with it.

    In fact, I'm doing something similar right now; a customer was informed a few months ago that something they were doing wasn't supported, and that they needed to switch over to the recommended process. Which they duly promised to do. In writing.

    Fast forward to now, and when I got a ticket saying "the unsupported thing isn't working", there may have been a little schadenfreude when sending a message back going "Sorry, but as per <copy of email chain>, we ain't touching this as you need to do what was agreed on several months ago"...

    1. jtaylor Bronze badge

      Re: I can't remember ever being told off for fixing something

      I've been told off for doing work that was...better than desired

      Most recently, we had to configure a lot of desktop PCs. The schedule was 5 each day, for several weeks. Life is short. I set up 14 at once and went back to my desk, RDP in occasionally while I do my regular job. 3 days of installs each afternoon.

      The project manager got upset at me for screwing up his schedule. I told him to piss at my boss, because I've never been written up for delivering early. Thus ended the matter.

  16. MatthewSt
    FAIL

    Opposite problem

    I've got one currently with Microsoft. We're using Azure CDN (to cache stuff) and it's throwin an error. They've done some diagnosing, and it turns out the error goes away if you disable caching (so it still queries the source for every request). When I asked what the next step was they said "I'm glad to hear it works, you can leave it configured like that"!

    Technically they've fixed the problem, because there's no longer an error...

  17. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Yupp

    another true sounding story...

    Its when you look at $contracter's code and think "well thats a pile of dog do do" and you change it so it actually works (hint: PLA logic does like pauses between gate shut commands and gate lock commands for the freaking gate to physically shut ... sheesh the guy was a 'pro'

    then you alter it and get dragged off to the mangler's office to be yelled at that you cant change $contracter's code because its not our job.

    "fine" I said "I'll put it back as it was and the line can stay stopped until you get $contractor to fix the shoddy code"

  18. QuiteEvilGraham
    Stop

    No good deed goes unpunished

    Many, many years ago, I had a job where I was nominally expected to supervise a more junior member of staff. How to log in, which system did what, how to edit a file, basic shit like that. Anyhow, this being the days of mainframe and COBOL, the idea was that they would learn on the job, eventually becoming familiar with the basics and moving on to understand the basics of the various systems (many running in batch) that held things together.

    Part of the job would eventually to be expected to be part of the rota that dealt with outages encountered out of hours. For this, your basic equipment was a series of cabinets, running the length of a corridor, containing the latest compile listings of the various programs in the suite printed out on music rule paper, each snug in it's own individual binder.

    Batch Mainframe COBOL being what it is usually used for (financial stuff), the most common severe problem encountered would be a program abending with a S0C7 abend code (*usually* decimal data exception), due to badly sanitised input data masquerading as a valid decimal value, the failing instruction commonly being reported as ZAP (zero, add packed), the usual way to initialise a decimal value with something coming in from whatever source the program used.

    Of course, this level of WTF is not something that a trainee expects since all of a sudden one is thrown in at the deep end of the somewhat huge disconnect 'twixt a high level language and the underlying machine architecture of the brute and bears little resemblance to whatever they might have learned beforehand.

    Anyhows, one of the other trainees found themselves completely baffled as to how to diagnose such things and mentioned this to me. Since when I was in the same boat some kind person had explained this stuff some years before, I sat them down with a compile listing, explained how the compiler translates COBOL to machine language, what the instructions mean, and how to relate this back to which COBOL instruction and which input field was the culprit (and how to find that).

    They got the idea and were happy and cheered up, now being more confident that they understood something useful.

    Shortly afterwards, I got a visit from our "training manager". "Why did you explain that to someone else's trainee?".

    Well why not, I ask people how things work all the time, and they explain them, and you don't tell them off (they were all well above her pay grade).

    "No, that's not your job".

    Said company is long gone (wonder why) and by a strange co-incidence, I've just fixed a S0C7 abend at a customer site (a bank, no less). It wasn't a decimal data exception, BTW (bonus points for anyone replying who can identify what it was) and everyone was happy, but to this day, I cannot understand the mentality of criticising looking after people or acting for the greater good. I've found, over the years, that getting away from that shit rapidly is a smart career move.

  19. chivo243 Silver badge

    Little Dutch Boy?

    Was it his job to stick his finger in the dike? I guess when it's only money, you have to follow someone else's rules, but put human life in the equation, we're all potential heroes? Just an observation from a first responder...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Little Dutch Boy?

      I have seen too many documentaries and training videos about sticking fingers in dikes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Little Dutch Boy?

        I've never seen xhamster called "training videos" before...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Run, do not walk, to the nearest job recruiter.

    Life's too short to work for such a person.

    Been there, done that, got the hell out. Now I work for people who reward, rather than punish, doing the Right Things.

    A place I once worked was acquired by GE; we did little 110V and battery-powered instruments. And were ALL required to take electrical safety courses wherein we learned such highly relevant skills as how to use a hot stick on a 15KV utility line, and which color gloves to wear for what HV lines. In case we had to maintain a 15KV line for the portable instruments, y'know.

    Oh, and they also required us to undergo Mandatory Integrity Training. Whereupon I filed an integrity complaint against Jack Welch and his just-revealed secret golden handshake. Eventually resulting in amusingly Kafksesque integrity theater as they unconvincingly pretended to follow their own required procedures while not actually living up to their professed standards.

    Posting anonymously because, well. Those who were there will know who, the rest don't need to.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Run, do not walk, to the nearest job recruiter.

      When I joined BT as a software engineer in the early 80s we were all sent on the standard engineering training. We learned to climb poles, do gas safety checks on manholes before lifting the cover, and handle high-voltage cables. Essential knowledge for Fortran programming on an IBM, I'm sure. I still have my blue hard hat.

      1. Rob Daglish Bronze badge

        Re: Run, do not walk, to the nearest job recruiter.

        Some years ago, I got loosely involved with a local amdram group. I’d been playing in a band for one of their shows and the sound guy was awful, so after the run, we were talking and I agreed to run sound for their Christmas panto.

        About two weeks before the panto, their lighting guy (tech in a different theatre) announced he couldn’t do their show, so the amdram chairman decided I should do it as “it’s all just sliders and wires, isn’t it?”

        I quickly figured out the static fixtures, but the moving lights were a bit trickier, and took most of the weekend to get programmed into the lighting desk at all, never mind actually working as something theatrical… however work they did, and the theatre manager, duly impressed as they’d never worked before offered me some part time work as a theatre tech. Well, that seemed like fun, so I joined the payroll, but that meant I had to do the induction training of the group. Which had a single theatre, but around 25 swimming pools and leisure centres, so lots of info about what to do with chlorine, and how to deal with an escape of chlorine, nothing at all about ladders or electric…

        After a few years, I suggested that two of my colleagues went on a theatre tech course. H&S objected - they’d be taught about electricity, which was too dangerous - was there not a better way to light the theatre?

  21. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Did that, done that!

    The local networking IT was outsourced overseas. An entire office floor was off-line. The remaining desktop IT spent an hour talking to the overseas network IT who had access to the switch gear. I was tagging along because, well, with the network down I had nothing else to do.

    In the comms room I looked at the (then new tech) orange fiber optic cable coming in from the other floors. I innocently asked "Shouldn't there be a link light". Overseas network IT got quiet but I could hear key clicks on the speaker phone. A moment later the link light popped on and everything magically started working.

    Most of the staff in this sales office got a half day off, which averaged several million is potentially lost revenue. But hey, we saved a few bucks by firing the local IT network staff and outsourcing. So it was a good thing.

  22. DS999 Silver badge

    Rodent teeth?

    Does insulation really matter when they can chew through almost anything? Or is the insulation something they find unpalatable, but they somehow find the raw glass/plastic fiber tasty?

    A while back I had issues with mice getting into my house in the basement ceiling (fully finished, with drywall in most of it and drop panels in the rest) and while I was fighting that battle my DSL was having issues. Turned out there was a "splice" in the telephone wire in that drop ceiling I wasn't aware of that was made with electrical tape, and apparently a mouse had chewed through that. Basically my entire DSL was operating over what appeared to be a single solitary strand of the stranded copper wire. When I cut off the ends and used those 3M snap on crimp things to connect everything was fixed.

    While the mice are gone for good (so long as I found the ONLY way they could get in) I can't help but worry what I would do if they chewed through the wire insulation somewhere above the drywall ceiling. I wouldn't even be able to figure out where the break was, let alone fix it without cutting several (at least) holes in the ceiling to fish through a new wire! I should probably just move to be safe!

    1. H in The Hague Silver badge

      Re: Rodent teeth?

      "I can't help but worry what I would do if they chewed through the wire insulation somewhere above the drywall ceiling. I wouldn't even be able to figure out where the break was"

      That would be the perfect excuse to treat yourself to a nice Time Domain Reflectometer. Used to cost more than a car, now cost less than a bicycle (pedal, not motor).

      Here's an example: https://nl.rs-online.com/web/p/time-domain-reflectometers/2261537

      Explaining that it's not a cool toy but a tool essential to fix the intarwebs normally greatly enhances the spouse acceptance factor (if that's relevant). (Hmm, beginning to regret mouseproofing our basement now.)

      1. adam 40 Silver badge

        Re: Rodent teeth?

        I just had Openrech round to find and fix a break in my phone line.

        They used a TDR but were over 50 feet out, they went up the pole outside, into the manhole (needed a 2-man team with breathing apparatus), to the exchange, and back again several times, on multiple visits, before they eventually found it half way up the pole.

    2. Rob Daglish Bronze badge

      Re: Rodent teeth?

      I think they use it to build nests with, or that’s certainly something I’ve seen done before!

    3. albegadeep

      Re: Rodent teeth?

      I had some trouble with mice in my garage; discovering they had been living in the metal desk drawers was rather disturbing. I plugged in some of the ultrasonic rodent-repellers, and haven't seen evidence of a mouse since.

  23. Kev99 Silver badge

    When I worked for a local government we, as in the users, designed a database app based on what we actually did. Since none of us knew how to use any of mictosoft's code products, we used a spreadsheet with macros as our demonstrator. We tested it with actual data that we compared to what we were were using. Pretty as a picture, very adaptable and had a lovely GUI. Our in house IT staff thought highly of it as well.

    Unfortunately, all we got was an adulterated version of another database we used in a different department that was universally hated by them.

    Here's the kicker. A couple of us would regularly find key combinations and shortcut the provider didn't even know existed. And several were quickly erased. I guess it doesn't pay to show up the "experts" or point out the errors and fallacies their in-house "pros" created.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only vaguely related, but I once found myself as an occasional sub sub sub contractor to a chain of high street shops that oddly no longer exists.

    Shop floor staff were under no circumstances allowed to touch IT equipment. This kind of makes sense.

    The unintended consequence was that when a broken USB barcode scanner needed swapping for a new one, I had to drive, on one occasion, 90+ minutes each way. By the time my invoice for several hours for a two minute job (20 seconds to swap, then wait for someone to test it) had been passed up the chain to head office it probably wiped out the shop's profit for the week.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      I once had to drive 2 x 150 miles to pack some dead IT kit in a box to be collected by the scrappies, because the shop staff "weren't allowed to deal with IT kit".

  25. Scott 26
    Joke

    I call bollocks on this story - an application guy that knows how to do a ping test? pffft!!!

  26. Sequin

    My boss noticed me doing a bit of soldering on an electronics kit during my lunch break. "You obviously know something about electricity could you have a look to see why the lights in the ladies' toilets are always blowing their circuit breaker?". I quick check in the false ceiling showed a broken cable shorting out on the metal fixings for the ceiling. Snip snip with some wire cutters and a £2 junction box from a local shop I had the problem sorted.

  27. Juan Inamillion

    Wiring for safety

    A million years ago (well, the 60's...) a friend of mine was working in an 'electrical shop', where back in those days sold appliance which often didn't have mains plugs on the the power lead as there were still a lot of houses with old two pin sockets. When you made your purchase you told the shop assistant what plug you required, took it home and fitted it yourself.

    One day an elderly gentleman comes in to buy an electrical kettle. My friend says fine, what plug do you need. The gentleman says three pin please. My friend tells the chap to very careful wiring it up and make sure it's earthed properly. He came back a few days later complaining the kettle didn't work. My friend opened the plug to check the fuse and discovered he's put all three wires onto the earth pin....

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