back to article Bouncing cheques or a bouncy landing? All in a day's work for the expert pilot

Some users are less than bright, and some are just slightly dim. But few are quite as dim as this high-flying employee of the world's formerly favourite airline. Welcome to On Call. Today's story of tribulation by telephone comes from "James" (for that is not his name). It takes us back 10 years or so, when James was making a …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Expert?

    The pilot sounds more like an egg-spurt! And the cheque bouncer just a run-of-the-mill shyster.

    Not nice people at all.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Expert?

      Or, as a mate of mine described a pilot who had stolen a girl he fancied "Huh! Just a fancy bus driver!

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Expert?

        A friend of mine is an ambulance driver, it's just that his ambulance is several million quids worth of helicopter.

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

          Re: Expert?

          I remember a guy describing himself as an electrician.

          That is: CEO of his country electricity main company...

          (but it was at a time when this kind of position could be filled by technical people, not MBA drones, and he had a high level degree in that field)

          1. Andy A Bronze badge

            Re: Expert?

            I used to drink in the same pub as someone who said he was "a constable". No trouble getting a pint after official hours.

            Then someone mentioned that he wasn't just A constable. He was the Chief Constable.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Expert?

              Like when a local motorcycle club run got pulled over by a jam sandwich. The club leader pulled something out his pocket and said something, the two plod looked at it, reacted like Satan himself had manifested before them and fucked off at Warp 10.

              Apparently, if you like cruising around in a nice, warm pursuit car rather than pounding the beat in the pissing rain, annoying the Chief Superintendent Instructor at Hendon by criticising the riding style of him and his mates is to be avoided at all costs.

            2. eldel

              Re: Expert?

              Some years ago I was visiting friends and being a Sunday we decided to drink lunch at the local. This is in a small village in the middle of nowhere. The actual boozer fitted most of the preconceptions I had, including the elderly but still sprightly landlord and a barman of similar visage. Anyway, closing time is approaching and one of the locals we were chatting to goes to the bar and orders another round. The landlord demured, pointing out that he would need a magistrates order to extend opening times. The putative customer looked pointedly at the barman who simply shrugged, poured himself a double and said "granted".

    2. Chloe Cresswell

      Re: Expert?

      As my Dad (an english teacher) used to put it: Expert - X is the unknown quantity, and Spurt is a drip under pressure, therefore you have an unknown drip under pressure.

      1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

        Re: Expert?

        I always though that the Ex was a 'has been'. Which translates it to - A 'has been' drip under pressure!

    3. 080

      Re: Expert?

      He was probably a baggage trolley pilot

  2. Michael Hoffmann
    Headmaster

    In the pilot's defense...

    ... being a former one myself (of mere bugsmashers, mind you):

    The "down" arrow is the one that points towards you, the "up" arrow away from you. Which correlates to yoke back, i.e. towards you, to go *up* and yoke (or stick) forward, away from you, to go *down*!

    1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

      Re: In the pilot's defense...

      Dumb as it sounds, that may be a plausible explanation.

    2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: In the pilot's defense...

      The "down" arrow is the one that points towards you

      ...away from you, to go *down*!

      I see your point that hats why the pilot might have it reversed , but dont you mean it doesent correlate?

      1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: In the pilot's defense...

        I suspect your* right. But if your* going to be a "pedantic grammar Nazi", I would suggest getting you're* contractions right (as in, including the apostrophe), especially when there* in bold...

        PS – I'd love to hear some of your poetry before you throw me out of the airlock.

        *Yes, I know. And I hope it hurts.

      2. Horst U Rodeinon

        Re: In the pilot's defense...

        "doesent"

        Isn't that the stuff deer hunters use to attract the bucks?

        1. swm Silver badge

          Re: In the pilot's defense...

          "doesent"

          Isn't that the stuff deer hunters use to attract the bucks?

          doescent?

          1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

            Re: In the pilot's defense...

            That's what the pilot/plane does just before landing.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: In the pilot's defense...

              No, no, no ... they attract the bucks before even taking off.

          2. Swarthy Silver badge

            Re: In the pilot's defense...

            I thought that was a museum guide?

    3. Caver_Dave
      Unhappy

      Re: In the pilot's defense...

      It's like every electric car I've driven.

      You pull the direction stick backwards to go forwards and push it forwards to go backwards.

      Had the committee who decided that never actually sat in a car?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: In the pilot's defense...

        Is that a braking thing? When you brake, and your momentum naturally moves you forwards in the seat, then braking would tend to increase rather than decrease. Emergency stops would be "interesting" if the controls were the other way around.

        1. Mast1

          Re: In the pilot's defense...

          Yes, very "interesting". Just look at the direction of twist of a motorbike accelerator. You open it up fast, underestimating the power available, fall back in the seat, hold on tighter to stop falling off, and intertia does the rest. Positive feedback.

          Just speaking on behalf of my brother who did that as a learner on a BMW 650 single....... He went off backwards, leaving the bike to slap its way down the road until friction took over. Fortunately it had "sissy bars" on either side of the block. The instructor's observations in his earpiece are NSFW.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: In the pilot's defense...

            Your brother should have reached for the front brake lever. The motion of his hand would have automatically closed the throttle. That's why it works that way. He should also have learned on something more appropriate.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: In the pilot's defense...

              IIRC, (might have changed in the intervening years) but a UK learner was/is limited to a max of 125cc bikes.

              1. the spectacularly refined chap Silver badge

                Re: In the pilot's defense...

                Not for the Direct Access Scheme (for over 24s), but even teens on lower power bikes needs additional testing for the higher rated bike so still qualify as learners when going up to ~600cc and above.

                1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                  Re: In the pilot's defense...

                  Quite. I learned and did my test on a 500 (I think it was a GSR 500 IIRC, but it was some years ago). The single cylinder "big bikes" have a nice broad power band, so are fairly forgiving to learn on. When I then went and bought an old FZS600 a few years later (the older model with the R6 engine in it), it was significantly twitchier on the throttle, and prone to doing impromptu wheelies if you opened it up too quickly...

          2. DoctorPaul

            Re: In the pilot's defense...

            Oh my lord, takes me back to the late 60's - yes I'm that old.

            Started biking on a 200cc Tiger Cub, then bought a 650cc BSA Rocket Gold Star that needed an engine rebuild.

            All ready to roll, pointed it up the road and whacked open the throttle like I did on the Cub - to promptly find that I was sitting on the rear number plate and hanging on for dear life! Did manage to avoid actually throwing it down the road though.

            Years before that, my uncle's first ever bike was a 650 Beezer (no limits for learners then) - of course he put it straight through a hedge.

            1. James Wilson

              Re: In the pilot's defense...

              It's not just the extra power. I passed my test and went from a Suzuki GS125 to a Honda CBR600F. Got to the first corner and, oh, totally different feel and experience. Still, somehow I got round it, then learned to ride a big bike properly and had lots of fun on that CBR (until some complete b*stard nicked it).

              I was totally behind when they put in the progressive access / direct access licence distinctions, hopefully saved a few people doing the same as me and coming off a lot worse!

          3. Potty Professor Bronze badge
            Facepalm

            Re: In the pilot's defense...

            Had this happen to me when I was at Uni. Borrowed a mate's scooter to nip into town, and as I bumped down the kerb into the car park, my hand slipped and opened the throttle. Inertia took over and I slid backwards off the seat, my gloved hand unwinding the throttle as I went. I landed on my bum on the kerbstone (painful), and the scooter shot off across the car park access road. Luckily (or maybe unluckily) another mate's car was in the way, the front tyre of the scooter hit the car's rear wheel and it stopped dead, fell onto it's left side on the grass, and spluttered to a halt. I owned up, and was charged with buying a new hubcap for mate #2 and straightening mate #1's scooter's front mudguard and giving it a lick of paint.

      2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: In the pilot's defense...

        Same as automatic gearboxes then, which seem to be arranged PRND (from front to back)

        1. Andy A Bronze badge

          Re: In the pilot's defense...

          On aircraft, almost without exception, you push the throttle forwards to increase power (and hence speed) and pull back to reduce it.

          Directions of travel are handled separately.

          1. SCP
            Happy

            Re: In the pilot's defense...

            "Directions of travel are handled separately."

            Certainly are if you are VIFing.

          2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

            Re: In the pilot's defense...

            And on gliders pushing the airbrake handle forward shuts them and pulling it back opens them. Same principle.

      3. John Gamble

        Re: In the pilot's defense...

        The rental Nissan I drove a few months ago had a single lever, forward for reverse, backwards for drive. I did not find it intuitive, but if that's the way the standard is heading, I can adjust. As long as there's a standard.

        1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

          Re: In the pilot's defense...

          That's the standard for an automatic but not the standard for a standard. To my knowledge there is no standard for a standard as reverse could be forward or backward. Hope that clears it up.

          One of my past jobs used to be to document standards.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: In the pilot's defense...

            "One of my past jobs used to be to document standards."

            Made a living suckering companies becoming ISO 9000 compliant? Me too ... it was good money for a while, but after a couple years I couldn't stomach the sheer uselessness of it all anymore, and dropped it from the list of services my company offered. Chasing paperwork in the name of mediocrity gives me hives.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: In the pilot's defense...

              Ah yes, ISO 9000, in that, the manual page for my job consisted mostly of "Procedure: use computer to do job".

          2. Auntie Dix

            Re: In the pilot's defense...

            I have a car with a manual gearbox. First gear is towards me (back) and to the left. If you're not paying attention you'll be starting in second gear (fortunately, it has the torque to over come that).

            1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

              Re: In the pilot's defense...

              On a Citroen 2CV, 1st is back and left, 2nd is forward and middle, 3rd is back and middle, 4th is forward and right. Like everything else on a 2CV it's superbly well designed, because when you are pushing the car hard 2nd - 3rd or 3rd - 2nd are the gear changes you want to make, 4th being a cruising overdrive.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: In the pilot's defense...

                Congratulations ... you just said two things that have never been said in the entire history of humanity!

                "Pushing the car hard", when referencing a 2CV, and "Like everything else on a 2CV it's superbly well designed".

                1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                  Re: In the pilot's defense...

                  The standard French line is: "It is the most intelligent car."

                  Which I found, like yourself, quite hilarious the first time I heard it.

                  But then you take a close look at it. Especially the way it's engineered-in solutions for real-world uses and problems. From the famous "can a farmer take his eggs to market across bumpy fields without breaking any?" (Yes), to the ability to drive casually on snow/ice that defeats most 4WDs, to the ability to disassemble it for repairs using almost no tools (single spanner + screwdriver, IIRC; a lot of things just twist & lift out). And... yeah. It's brilliant.

                  The Swiss Army Knife of cars.

                  Engineers in particular love it, as do farmers. ISTR it was MythBusters who did an episode on an "obviously bullshit" story about it (breakdown in desert, chap using only the built-in toolkit disassembled & rebuilt it as a pseudo motorcycle and drove out). And they laughed at and mocked the car. By the end, they concluded (a) 100% possible, (b) what a brilliant car.

                  You're both Engineer and Farmer, jake! You should get one! The ultimate backup machine for when even the steam engines are stuffed. :D

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    Re: In the pilot's defense...

                    I've owned three and two halves 2CVs, and built two running cars out of them. One a street&strip "sleeper" with a Mazda 13b engine & a rear-wheel drive conversion, and one bone stock. Trust me, I know of what I speak.

                    The 2CV wasn't "engineered". It evolved.

                    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                      Re: In the pilot's defense...

                      Fair enough. "To each his own."

                    2. Will Godfrey Silver badge

                      Re: In the pilot's defense...

                      Never leave a pair of CV2s together overnight. You've no idea what you'll find in the morning!

              2. KittenHuffer Silver badge

                Re: In the pilot's defense...

                And there was me thinking that pushing a 2CV hard involved a number of hands on the rear of the car!

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: In the pilot's defense...

        Now hang on a moment.

        Having driven trains both in Train Sim World and in Real Sim World; I can tell you that you are not alone.

        Some trains have a switch you turn the big arrow forward to go forwards (and back to, you know) -

        Some trains you turn them back -

        Some, the arrow is actually under your hand as you turn it -

        Some the the arrow is in view.

        But then as we only recently upgraded our train management systems away from Windows 95.....

        1. 080

          Re: In the pilot's defense...

          And on a Billard T75 you have a forward reverse lever which points in the opposite direction to travel, that is before it shakes your back teeth out.

    4. Look! A big red button!

      Re: In the pilot's defense...

      I believe the correct aeronautical term is actually 'down tiddly down down'. I've seen that documentary you know.

      1. Michael Hoffmann

        Re: In the pilot's defense...

        That'd be the one with Gert Fröbe famously declaring "there is nothing a German office cannot do!"?

        1. mdubash

          Re: In the pilot's defense...

          He got that from Michael Flanders, presumably, refrring to that famous plant-animal hybrid, the Wompom.

    5. G.Y.

      VT99 Re: In the pilot's defense...

      I have seen an allegedly-VT100-compatible CRT terminal where turning the brightness all the way (away from "off") made it dimmer.

      Eltaterm, a long time ago

    6. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

      Re: In the pilot's defense...

      Pull back, cows get smaller. Push forward, cows get bigger.

      1. Not Yb

        Re: In the pilot's defense...

        "These cows are small. Those cows are far away."

      2. ShadowSystems

        At Paul, re: cows...

        Leave your fetishes out of this, you weirdo. =-)p

        *Hands you a pint & a fresh pair of Wellys*

  3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    I would not be trusting a user to turn the brightness up on a laptop . any number of things could go wrong , as did in the story.

    It not being switched on being #1

    then not using the 'fn' key properly , next

    still ,not much choice in that situation and "James" got there in the end

    If forced to due to geography , i'd be googling the laptop so i knew exactly which key was brightness up and down and the colour and location of the 'fn' key

    1. Gort99
      Joke

      I always have problems with users pressing the wrong 'fn' keys!

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        I had one person (who may or may not be my wife) pressing a combination of the "F" and "N" keys...

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Not to mention does pressing the separate 'fn' key mean you get F1-F9 or the extra functions, or is that the unlabeled special modifier key

        2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          pressing a combination of the "F" and "N" keys

          Did that person also hit the "A", "N" & "Y" keys to fix problems when booting?

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            At least that would actually work!

      2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Usually when it came to inputting their passwords.

      3. Imhotep Silver badge

        My problem was with them pushing my buttons.

    2. adam 40 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Dell!

      On my latest Dell laptop you can't see which Fn key is which, the labelling is too small, and they (in their infinite wisdom) didn't make the Fn labels transparent for the LED backlight.

      So I had to make a label to stick across the top in nice big letters. Takes me back to the days of the Fn key labelling we used to have on our PC AT keyboards for wordperfect etc....

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Dell!

        Ah, you're older than me. I had them to show key mappings for Microprose games.

      2. SCP

        Re: Dell!

        Ah, memories of BBC B function key strips; DEC numeric keypad overlays for EDT; Acorn function key strips.

        <sigh/> Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "then not using the 'fn' key properly , next"

      I must admit, it wasn't the resolution I was expecting. I was expecting it being Fn+whatever for switching between internal/external display device. Modern laptops tend to be more automated nowadays, autodetecting external screens but often still have that key.

      1. TSM

        I think you mean "autodetecting external screens, and then deciding randomly whether to use the same settings as the last time they were on this screen configuration, or to turn some screens off at random just for the hell of it."

        At least that's how my work laptop behaves. Plug it in, see whether all the screens come up, and if not (about 10% of the time) go to display settings and put it back to "Extend" rather than "Show only on monitor <whichever one it likes today>".

  4. imanidiot Silver badge

    Education or occupation don't matter

    Idiots can be found in all layers of society and idiots will be idiots. They will never change and never learn.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Education or occupation don't matter

      This should be investigated, we need a pilot study

    2. chivo243 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Education or occupation don't matter

      The Forest Gump syndrome... mama says stupid is as stupid does!

  5. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
    Trollface

    VGA port = serial port

    or the VGA socket was simply a fancier serial port

    Waiting in anticipation for this one...

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: VGA port = serial port

      USB into the ethernet port is more common, from my experience.

      No, I don't know why they were designed to be that width.

      1. sanwin

        It is almost as if the company does not test things properly before unleashing them on the world.

        In the old days getting the Ethernet and Phone connectors mixed up was pretty common. One RJ looks much like another if you don't really look.

        1. diver_dave

          It is almost as if the company does not test things properly before unleashing them on the world.

          To be honest.

          With the RJ problems at least they are identical

          1. Down not across Silver badge

            Re: It is almost as if the company does not test things properly before unleashing them...

            Not on any laptop I've had. Ethernet is usually RJ45 and phone connector for a modem tends to be RJ11.

            You can force RJ11 into RJ45 (as I've on some occasions had to do on a patch panel (yes, i know it pretty much kills the socket...)), but RJ45 is not going to go into RJ11 socket.

          2. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: It is almost as if the company does not test things properly

            Phones tend to use RJ11 connectors, which are only 6 pins, instead of the 8 in an RJ45 (ethernet) connector. However, you can fit an RJ11 connector into an RJ45 port (the cable retention clip does a good job of centring it), but I wouldn't recommend it.

        2. NXM Bronze badge

          labelling

          Especially if they're labelled in black on a black background then a little black light lights up to say you've done it.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: labelling

            And yet somehow are incredibly expensive Das Keyboard

            1. phuzz Silver badge

              Re: labelling

              The painful part is that it's not even that expensive compared to other high-end mechanical keyboards.

              (I've got one with actual writing on, which I picked up for about £80, and I can confirm it's built like a brick outhouse. You do get what you pay for. Unless you get the one with blank key-caps, in which case you don't get what you didn't pay for.)

      2. DwarfPants

        Re: VGA port = serial port

        Are you sure a different width would make a difference? other than increasing the force used

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: VGA port = serial port

          That's what I keep telling the wife.

      3. mdubash

        Re: VGA port = serial port

        Then there's a certain someone who plugs the USB-ended Ethernet dongle into the power socket on my laptop...

      4. Joe 37

        Re: VGA port = serial port

        Ethernet port connected to an RJ11 connected to the phone line. Generates a line fault for BT to play with.

        RJ11 plugs really shouldn't fit into RJ45 sockets.

        My late father (a professor) discovered that one. At least I caught it before BT got called out at considerable expense.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: VGA port = serial port

      AC cos well you know....

      There was a tale from a past life where someone decided that if it looked like a duck it was a duck... and plugged something that definitely fitted into something that wasn't meant to be receiving those particular signals on those particular pins. it was 25 pin D IIRC.

      This had the effect of breaking a large, eye-wateringly expensive, floating, piece of equipment and, no doubt, the learning of much new language, by the hapless plugger, from the guys who had to fix the now un-working equipment

      Always read the specifications boys and girls and never, ever, assume that becasue something looks like something it actually is something!

    3. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Re: VGA port = serial port

      I managed once to destroy a computer while plugin a printer cable in the proper socket.

      What the PC didn't expect was to have a cable with all the pins connected (it was used for a CTOS system), so when power started coming from an unexpected location it promptly decided to start fuming...

      It was powered down before going in flame, and never restarted since some components had melted.

      The hardware technician was properly impressed by the result when I gave it back since it was still under warranty (we had it running for a full 2 hours...)

    4. Necrohamster

      Re: VGA port = serial port

      What about those stupid Lenovo laptops with the USB-A sized rectangular power supply connector? I’ve seen users who made them fit

  6. jake Silver badge

    Over the years I've discovered that ...

    ... the more educated a person is in any one field, the more likely they are to think they know more than anybody else in all other fields.

    Three groups I refuse to do IT work for, in any capacity, are Doctors, Lawyers and Politicians.

    Life's too short, I have better things to do with my time.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Over the years I've discovered that ...

      I'll add some teachers to that list... always smarter than everybody.

      1. Chunky Munky

        Re: Over the years I've discovered that ...

        As a techy in a school I can confirm that. Teachers are some of the smartest and dumbest of people AT THE SAME TIME!!

        I once asked a teacher whose laptop was playing silly buggers when the last time she'd rebooted it. 'Every night' came back the reply. I got her to bring it in to the lab where I work & show me how she reboots it - yup, closes the lid! 'But it's turned off as I have to log in when I open the lid again.

        When I checked the uptime, it was on 128 days and change. Oddly enough, doing a full shut down & then starting it again made all her problems go away :)

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Over the years I've discovered that ...

      There's plenty of people in IT who think that because they can understand computers that that expertise is transferable. We've all seen it.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Over the years I've discovered that ...

        See my opening sentence.

    3. Swarthy Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Over the years I've discovered that ...

      I've always said that people who think they know everything are very annoying to those of us who do.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

    At my wife's school, the IT support person insisted that the serial port on the back of one of their smartboard displays could be driven by laptop VGA, it just needed an adapter and went through ordering, well some kind of thing that didn't fit. Even the "RS-232" label on the socket wouldn't convince the support person that it was a serial port, likely for firmware updates /diagnostics (check the manual, was I mad?), even pointing out VGA is analogue and serial is digital (let alone anything else) wouldn't dissuade them ("you just need a converter!!"), despite it never working.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

      Many years ago (in the last century) I worked for a large electronics engineering company. One day one of the senior engineering managers (of the female form) came into the lab/workshop, holding a wall-wart power supply, complete with flimsy DC output cable. This being in the day when wall-warts had a full mains transformer, not a SMPSU. Expecting the usual "the cable/connector is damaged - can you repair it please" I was rather taken aback with "This plug is too bulky to fit in the socket behind my desk - could you cut it off and fit a normal sized plug instead?"

      Yep, the difference between 240V AC and 12V DC had escaped her attention.

      1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

        I knew someone who took that a step further and actually wired up the mains plug, then plugged it in. It was for his DECT phone base, which unsurprisingly never worked again.

        A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

        1. adam 40 Silver badge

          Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

          I wonder if they account for that in the type approval testing - 240V up the phone line to the exchange, and then across to other peoples phone lines.....

          1. BenDwire Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

            Yes they do! I used to design PSTN equipment and had to get my kit approved by BABT (The green circle people in the UK) It's all far too long ago for me to recall details, but the words "creepage and clearance" still haunt me to this day.

            I still remember one BABT guy insisting that every fuse in my equipment had to be tested to ensure it ruptured within the specified time at the correct current. And he refused to accept that it was in any way a stupid request. Thankfully his superior allowed us to sample test a few from each batch, and use the rest in production.

        2. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

          I knew someone who took that a step further and actually wired up the mains plug, then plugged it in. It was for his DECT phone base, which unsurprisingly never worked again.

          Can’t remember the brand but it might be BT who have an odd power supply plug going into the base station. It looks like an RJ10 but has the top retaining clip to one side not in the centre. It’s also coloured red as is the port on the base station it’s supposed to fit into. However this also acts as a red rag to a bull in some cases.

          I was asked to go round and help a friend of my parents who was having difficulty with her new cordless phone. I inspected the device, the power cord and spotted the retaining clip on the red power connector was broken off. She confessed she’d broken it off because it didn’t fit into the “hole” on the base station. So having plugged the power into the phone cable port it hadn’t worked and the power cord unsurprisingly fell straight out.

          I told her in future red to red on the cables and never to alter the plugs in any way if they didn’t fit. Also said that this base station was probably buggered. It certainly didn’t work for connection to the phone network after that. I said she shouldn’t use it just in case it had damaged something that caused a fire later on. Told her to buy a new phone with base station and another charger station too. Then she could have another phone elsewhere in the house.

      2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

        Sounds like a good case for a short extension lead.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

      Sounds like one of my predecessors at my current school - there's a box on the shelf in the store room containing some Smart USB-RS232 cables, labelled "Smart USB to VGA converters".

    3. Evil Auditor
      Joke

      Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

      "you just need a converter!!"

      Sometimes I feel that the converter needed is a club of some sort: converts idiot into pulp.

      1. WonkoTheSane
        Headmaster

        Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

        I believe the technical term for that is a "Clue by four"

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

          Alternatively called a LART(Luser Attitude Readjustment Tool) if you have to be just slightly more stealthy.

      2. SCP

        Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

        Training cudgels!

    4. nintendoeats Silver badge

      Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

      I was in a quasi-technical program at a college, and one of the younger students showed me this image: https://cdn.quotesgram.com/img/28/67/1517862763-funny-picture-there-is-always-a-way.jpg

      He insisted that this would work, and would merely be very slow. No amount of "but you are connecting a serial USB device, via a PS/2 adapter of unknown construction, to a parallel SCSI interface" would convince him.

      He wasn't that bright.

      1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

        I had to do something even more ludicrous to look at, a long time ago.

        I wanted to access a current-spec SCSI drive via a near-original spec SCSI Mac, without an expensive converter. I had a daisy-chain of variously accumulated interstitial-spec drives, gradually stepping up the SCSI spec via each's N-1 backward-compatibility port using each format's standard cables, until finally reaching the heady heights of the last drive. ISTR either 5 or 6 drives due to the port+cableplugs matches I had available to hand. All drives unpowered except the final: boot the Mac and the drive mounts.

        Lovely jubbly. I loved SCSI -- made everything so simple. Never understood these people moaning about "the dark art" of "trying" to get SCSI to work -- baffling.

        The result was a genuinely hilarious Rube Goldberg spectacle of mismatched cables&arcs (hard heavy sky-reaching armoured bows and consumer-"grade" rats-tails snaking around) and mismatched boxes+naked-server-sleds, mad piled+placed due to the armoured-cables' stiffness mandating some distances/available arcs. Final drive (necessarily on a high pile of books, as were a couple of others) beside the Mac so I could casually reach the power switch. Everyone who saw it did a massive double-take, and another when they realised it genuinely worked perfectly -- always amused me.

        Ran like that for years. Because it made me smile every time.

        1. nintendoeats Silver badge

          Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

          I've never gotten that far, but I once spent a couple hours searching every nook and cranny of a very disorganized workshop looking for every single SCSI thing we had, so I had the best possible chance of getting computers and drives spanning two decades to work together.

          Centronics, 50-pin external, 50-pin internal, 64-pin, 80-pin, VHDCI, various generations of terminators, powered drive boxes...and in the end, I was just about able to get some machines to behave themselves and communicate with something.

          In fact, I ordered a bunch of 50-pin external SCSI cables on Saturday so I wouldn't have to do yet another IRIX installation with the case open and an ODD hanging out, running of the internal SCSI connector...

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

      There's probably a whole generation in IT who've never encountered serial other than in USB and SATA and have no idea what RS-232 means.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

        Hell, I've used RS-232 for over forty years, including all the wires that no-one uses, in big and little connectors... but I've never actually found out what the letters mean.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

          If you mean the RS in the name, according to wikipedia it stems from "Recommended Standard"

          "The EIA once labeled all its standards with the prefix "RS" (Recommended Standard), but the EIA-TIA officially replaced "RS" with "EIA/TIA" to help identify the origin of its standards."

          Officially the (latest) standards are called: ANSI/TIA/EIA-485-A (R2012) and TIA TIA-232-F (R2012)

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

            The color space for digital TV was called Rec709 when it was a recommendation before being accepted in the mid90s, we still call it Rec709 instead of Bt709

          2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

            The Internet standards are still officially called "Requests For Comments"

            1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

              Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

              I had somebody strenuously insist to me that he didn't need to follow internet standards because they were "requests".

              1. mneimeyer
                Facepalm

                Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

                Sort of like the Theory of Evolution?

                Or should I stop while I'm ahead?

                1. Spiz
                  Joke

                  Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

                  If you're only a head then maybe evolution didn't work out for you.

            2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

              > The Internet standards are still officially called "Requests For Comments"

              After receiving comments and updating the documents they did consider formally re-issuing them, in which case they would be renamed Post Request Adopted Technology Standards but for some reason the idea didn't catch on.

        2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

          Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

          at a time, RS-232 was described as a norm with 232 variants...

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

            Ohh the joys of hand soldering custom serial cables.

            I'll be having nightmares tonight - Better have plenty of icon's.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

              Soldering? Crimping, Shirley.

              Still got all the tools .... and a pile of misc. breakout boxen. Often use 'em, too.

              1. irrelevant

                Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

                I had to get out my box of miscellaneous serial adapters just a couple of weeks ago... Bit of second hand* network kit wasn't talking on the default IP address, and I couldn't immediately work out what IP it was on. It wasn't asking for a DHCP address anyway, plus I had suspicions that if I did find it, it'd be password protected. But, it had a DE9 on the back. Connected the breakout box via an adapter, and it had lights in all the right places for a serial port. Plugged in the other side to a USB>RS232 adapter, again via an adapter and a quick crossover adapter, and was able to talk to the thing. Single user mode was easy by just interrupting the boot process, and I managed to factory reset it.

                * eBay "seller refurbished, fully working." Hrmph. I didn't even power it up until I removed one of their asset stickers that completely covered the air vents at one end..

              2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
                Windows

                Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

                You know how things go round in a full circle?

                My new job (When I start it) includes making up RS232 cables 38 years after I stopped having to make them as part of my (First IT) job role.

                I think alas what remained of my serial breakout box & LED status kit was robbed from my unit in August.

      2. l8gravely

        Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

        Or Centronics printer ports.... or centronics SCSI ports! Or SCSI ports!

        FDDI anyone?

        1. DarkwavePunk

          Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

          Argh! I got hold of an old SGI Indy once. It had SCSI-2 but the only SCSI CD drive I could find in the IT pile of crap at work was a Centronics style with a converter. Installing IRIX from a 1x CD-ROM drive was rather painful.

      3. herman Silver badge

        Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

        RS? Recommended Standard or Radio Spares, depending on which RS you mean.

        1. SuperGeek

          Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

          "RS? Recommended Standard or Radio Spares, depending on which RS you mean."

          For some customers, they're the kind that don't know their RS from their L Bows!

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

        If part of your job is supporting hardware that has a serial port labelled RS232, it's probably a good idea of knowing what it is before insisting that it's a VGA port. Even Spitting Image knew what it was back in the day :-) Sadly that video is copyright blocked, now have it rattling around in my head.

      5. StargateSg7

        Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

        Or even better yet BNC, RS-422 and SCART --- Got tonnes (i.e. LITERALLY TONNES!!!!) of such equipment still at home!

        Mostly controller equipment for aircraft video recording systems, old weapons radar (SAR), even the the massive radar Tubes we scavenged back in the day when the head-honchos literally threw it ALL into the public garbage! They make GREAT analog tubes for custom-built music amplifiers - Very warm and natural sounding music is the result!

        I also used plenty of old BLANK FULLY HARDENED MIL-SPEC motherboards for my pet ROV projects. They were going to dump it all in the bins and I asked to take it all home! Many MILLIONS of dollars wasted in specialty ruggedized tech design and manufacturing just because they were too lazy to recycle or re-use!

        That old connector technology STILL has lots of uses these days! High end BBC/CBC video cable and BNC connectors can carry a LOT of current so I use them for my ROV aircraft hobbies! I repurpose high voltage RADAR dishes/emitters/receivers from various milspec aircraft for my home-made 150 km range unlicenced band MM-wave and unlicenced-RF-band data links. Not many people have 250 Megabits upload/download in the middle of nowhere in Northern Canada!

        Old gyroscopes made into fully stabilized hobby astronomical camera systems. 1990's era Hi-Def Zoom Lenses that once cost $100,000+ USD now used for personal astrophotography. I think I even have an old MICRO-SATELLITE that never got launched somewhere in my collections of old tech gear!

        This old connector and tech gear is HEAVY BUT SUPER WELL-BUILT and very stable, so I reuse and recycle them for my personal hobbies! The amount of WASTE in the mil-spec tech industry is utterly unfathomable to most people. I like it because I know what to look for AND I get to re-use and recycle something that was built to super-rugged standards for my own personal electronics projects!

        V

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

          (I am baffled by the downvotes)

          1. Swarthy Silver badge

            Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

            Not a down-voter, but the Caps words seem ...Bombastic.

    6. NITS
      Facepalm

      Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

      On my first exposure to VGA I managed to plug it in upside down when connecting it by feel. Whereas the original 2-row D-Subminiature connectors had a different number of pins in the upper vs. the lower rows, the three-row HD-22 pin pattern is symmetrical, and the flimsy metal D-shell on the plug was easy to re-form to match the unyielding plastic insert on the socket. Didn't harm any pins, just reshaped the shell on the plug. The screen displayed nothing. IIRC the supplier replaced the "DOA" monitor once before we realized what happened. I gathered at the time that I was not their first customer to make this mistake.

    7. PRR

      Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

      > Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

      In defense, I point out that the IBM PC MDA, CGA, and EGA video was on a 9-pin DE-9 D-sub connector, which does look like a 9-pin serial port. (Is the sex wrong? We all had gender-benders.) (Input? Output? What's that??) It is not the most stupid thought to think one video can be adapted to another. Between CGA and NTSC display, there are several conversions (but none to EGA or VGA).

      Wikipedia: Monochrome Display Adapter, Color Graphics Adapter, Enhanced Graphics Adapter

      Going way back, we all had glass (not paper) terminals hanging on serial ports. Terminal, monitor, what's the difference?

  8. John 110
    Coat

    Cables and connectors have a life of their own

    Connecting a lump of diagnostic equipment in a medical lab to it's associated computer and a second computer that fed the signals to a database for storage (don't ask me why it needed two, you'd have to ask the manufacturer (to protect the innocent, they weren't called Costello...)) was carried out using an octopus of cables with identical connectors on the ends, some of which were serial (small RS232) for the PCs, some were propriety to fit the sockets on the analyser. They were identified with these little shrink tabs on each end which was frickin useless when you were crawling behind this thing (space is always tight in a Microbiology lab which was designed before we progressed beyond Pasteur and into the machine age) to determine which plug goes into which socket. Phone support from the company tried their best, but each installation in the country had a unique set of connections depending on Lab systems and other ancillaries... Took me three days per machine. (we had three analysers)

    Then just before I retired, they added a new technological identification system that required yet another PC and connection, two of which had dual serial cards and one had a USB-serial converter...

    And don't ask me what IT services said when I explained the need for yet another node point...for three analysers...

    1. Sam not the Viking Silver badge

      Re: Cables and connectors have a life of their own

      Cables do indeed have a life of their own.

      I once had two graduates assisting on a job connecting a generator to the switchgear: 14 cables, 25 metres long, 120 sq-mm each. Big, heavy cables. As is my wont, I insisted on the cables being laid neatly, side-by side. Come the evening, when the cables have to be stowed to avoid likely theft, these geniuses showed off their brute strength by dragging the whole set together into the secure area. Well done.

      Next morning, my rules again apply, so they spent hours and hours untangling those unwieldy cables. I explained that cables go to a disco or play Twister in the dark hours.

      A lesson well learned for the next evening.

      1. Andy A Bronze badge

        Re: Cables and connectors have a life of their own

        Test leads for multimeters come pre-entangled.

        No matter how carefully you put them away, when you next look, they will be in knots.

        1. Dwarf Silver badge

          Re: Cables and connectors have a life of their own

          So you have obviously encountered the effects of the tangle monster, even if you haven't seen one directly. I understand that they are related to both the Bigfoot and the Loch ness monster and live in the dark areas of cupboards where cables are often stored.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Cables and connectors have a life of their own

        "I explained that cables go to a disco or play Twister in the dark hours."

        They also reproduce. There's usually an unidentifiable one that you're quite sure wasn't there when you put them away.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Cables and connectors have a life of their own

          If there isn't an extra, one or more (usually the "special" ones, on 6 month back order) manages to slither away, never to be seen again.

    2. wub

      Re: Cables and connectors have a life of their own

      I wish I could upvote this one more than once... I am still chuckling over the beautiful reference to Costello and innocence! Works on several levels. Nicely done!

  9. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

    Human nature

    The louder they yell, the more wrong they are. I figured that out early, but didn't figure out until late it also applies to me.

  10. aerogems Bronze badge
    Black Helicopters

    Good news is

    These days the autopilot does most of the work and the pilot/copilot are there primarily for unexpected situations.

    Black helicopter because it's the only aeronautical option among the icons.

  11. Sub 20 Pilot

    Having several qualifications and experiences incuding a lot of flying in and piloting various types of aircraft I would conclude that the pilot son was a fucking moron.

  12. Bruce Ordway

    A person has mad skillz in one discipline or...they know someone with "them"

    "interesting" discussions ensue...

    I wish I could say I've never been the one who "had the skillz"

  13. Sam 15

    Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

    An elephant can mate with a duck - all you need is an adapter.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Serial to VGA? All you need is an adapter!

      Now you've gone and made me hungry.

      Have duck press, will travel.

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