back to article Real-time software? How about real-time patching?

Sometimes some systems just have to work, and there is always a Register reader to save the day. Welcome to On Call. Our story today takes us back to the 1990s and involves "Paul", who had just joined the industry after university. His employer produced command-and-control systems for public services (think fire brigades and …

  1. Korev Silver badge
    Coat

    Poor "Paul", I C what he did there...

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Hopefully he got some pointers for his future career

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Yeah, like don't go to work for a company who sells software made by the summer intern ?

        1. G.Y.

          I know a company where they had a summer intern do the Email system. It doesn't matter if his name was Albert Einstein -- he was not there when the shit hit the fan (which it did)

          1. Stuart Castle Silver badge

            Re: "I know a company where they had a summer intern do the Email system. It doesn't matter if his name was Albert Einstein -- he was not there when the shit hit the fan (which it did)"

            The problem is when it comes to things like setting up an email system, a lot of managers think it's just a case of running an installer, accepting the default options, then adding a load of email addressees. As such, they may well be happy to offload it on to an intern, because interns are cheap.

            The trouble is that setting up a decent email system requires planning, time and money. It's also a lot more complicated than running an installer, clicking "Next" a few times and setting up a few email addresses. The intern could be the best, most experienced administrator on earth (which they won't be), but they aren't going to be around when the shit hits the fan.

      2. coconuthead

        Not to mention a reference.

        1. Mishak Silver badge

          Not to mention a reference

          Nah, references are C++

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Not to mention a reference

            It would seem you have problems parsing null references.

  2. trevorde Silver badge

    Site Acceptance Test

    Worked on a product where one of the engineers had to go to Monaco for a site acceptance test with the customer. We were all very envious until we found out that he spent all week in an airless, windowless room, without air conditioning, hacking the code to try and get it through the tests. As a bonus, there was a workman with a jack hammer, demolishing a wall about 6ft from him. It was hot, dusty and noisy. The kicker was the boss was downstairs at a slap up reception downstairs to celebrate the success of the project.

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Site Acceptance Test

      Business travel is almost never glamorous, whatever people think.

      I once did a day trip to Paris, "Lucky you" from my friends.

      Yes, airport, airport, office, hair-raising taxi ride, airport (for several hours), airport, home.

      Lunch was quite nice but that was about it.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Site Acceptance Test

        The first five times I went to Hawai'i, I landed at night, was met on the tarmac by a taxi & taken to the NOC, where I did what was needed in a locationless, windowless space, and then returned to the airport by taxi the following evening. I never saw a beach or any other scenery, not even from the air!

        1. ShadowSystems Silver badge

          Re: Site Acceptance Test

          At Jake, re: travel.

          My BioDad was in the AirForce doing something high end with classified hardware. He was sent out to install it, fix it if it went kablooey, and teach the locals how to do it, too. As a result it meant my family "got to visit nearly every airport in the world, both civillian & military", but unfortunately mostly at night & either in the back of a C130, crammed in among the cargo in a tiny Cessna, or being driven around in a military bus unable to see a damned thing.

          Like you I got to claim I've been to such places like Hawaii, at night & unable to enjoy a damned bit of it.

          *Hands you a pint*

          Here's to fancy destinations we never get to enjoy. =-J

          1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: Site Acceptance Test

            In 12 years of field work, I've only once had the chance of "enjoy somewhere nice". Three days' work at Sellafield. Security required about an hour's vetting on entry and exit to site. With careful timing I managed three hours hiking over Hardknott Pass on my last day between leaving the site and driving through the night to get home.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Site Acceptance Test

              Similar here. Most of my field jobs, all over the place, take time to get there and when the job's done, it's time to leave and get back on the road. There are so many places I'd like to see, but simply don't have the time. Even if I do get finished relatively early, the thought of getting home at 6pm instead 9-10PM is more enticing :-)

            2. Andy A Bronze badge

              Re: Site Acceptance Test

              I occasionally did holiday cover at Sellafield - changing backup tapes. So,

              - Early morning, collect company van from usual site.

              - 3-hour drive to site.

              - 30 minutes changing tapes, accessing safe, chatting to the locals.

              - Pick route home with best scenery.

              - Call for lunch on the way.

              - At least another 3 hours back to usual site.

              - Arrive back too late to do anything else that day.

              Repeat two days later!

              So the company paid me to wander round the Lake District, in summer, with them picking up the fuel bills. The van had aircon too!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Site Acceptance Test

        Doing some government work in the '80s we had to hook up a system from a government department in Northern Ireland to another government department, which meant we took to a trip to Belfast. We flew from Brize Norton to Aldergrove courtesy of the RAF. We were then bundled into the back of an army Land Rover and driven to a bland but well defended office building where we did our thing in a windowless room, before being taken back to Aldergrove in another Landie then flown back to the mainland. A long day with not much chance for tourism, or indeed interaction with many of the locals.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Site Acceptance Test

          Likely safer that way, as interacting with too many of the locals could have "consequences" back in the day.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Site Acceptance Test

            The nice man in the Land Rover (green suit, big gun, impressive 'tache) did observe that the locals hated the department I was working for even more than they hated the Army.

            1. J.G.Harston Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: Site Acceptance Test

              Ah! DHSS. :)

              1. ITMA Bronze badge

                Re: Site Acceptance Test

                Back in my younger days - some time in the precambrian - those two basitans of Government were know by their "alternate" names:

                Job Centre - The Joke Shop. Need I say more....

                Local DHSS Office - The "Fun" Factory, as it was always such fun everytime one had to go there about your benefits claim (like it not being paid)

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Site Acceptance Test

          They must have been wanting to impress you. Far safer to use an anonymous car than a mobile target. And that's not counting the risk of puncturing your skull on the untrimmed bolts holding the armour in place if it was anything like the L/R I once had a lift in.

        3. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: Site Acceptance Test

          The other stories were about missing seeing somewhere nice...

          1. ChrisC Silver badge

            Re: Site Acceptance Test

            Zurich, about 7-8 years ago... Inbound flight in the morning was rather nice, clear skies and lots of eyecandy scenery to ogle through the window. And that's where the fun ended.

            Picked up at the airport by our regional support person, drove out to the worksite (a partly constructed shopping centre somewhere in the outskirts), spent all day there trying and mostly succeeding to resolve the customer issues with our products, despite the site engineer they'd promised to send out to assist us not turning up until we'd almost called it a day, then got caught in a heavy snowstorm on the way back to the airport which meant instead of me and my colleague being able to have dinner together (in lieu of the lunch we'd skipped in order to get the work finished) before my onward flight to Dusseldorf for the second half of my troubleshooting tour of Europe, we arrived back at the airport technically after my flight was supposed to have left, but thanks to the snow everything had been delayed and, although the revised check-in time had still passed anyway, my colleague managed to sweet-talk the airline into letting me through to departures anyway on the promise that I made my way as fast as possible to the gate.

            Eventually arrived in Dusseldorf late enough that the airport was more or less closed for the night, so no chance of picking up anything to eat there, and then by the time I got to my hotel even the room service had called it a night. So my eagerly anticipated evening meal (and also the first food I'd eaten since breakfast back in the UK about 18 hours previously) ended up being a mashed up bag of crisps I'd left in my work bag, washed down with a cup or tea using all the milk and sugar provided in the room to bulk out its calorific content. Let's just say I more than made up for this the next morning at the breakfast buffet...

            Oh, and then having had a somewhat easier-going day onsite in Dusseldorf, the bad weather that'd almost left me stuck in Zurich put in an appearance on the way back to the airport here as well, such that we ended up sat on the tarmac for a couple of hours before finally bagging what turned out to be the last departure slot of the evening before they ended up closing the airport due to the increasingly bad conditions, and arrived back in London several hours later than planned but bloody pleased to have made it back and not be stranded somewhere.

            Yeah, business travel is a blast...

            OTOH, around that sime time in my career, I also ended up having a day trip to Nice which, due to being somewhat pessimistic about how long the business part of the trip might take, left me with a few hours to kill before my flight home, spent having a rather pleasant stroll along the seafront back to the airport followed by a game of "spot the celeb" in the arrivals area due to it being Cannes Film Week.

            And then there was the very first business trip I went on, which included spending a Sunday sightseeing in Washington DC... So OK, business travel *can* be fun sometimes, though for mere engineering mortals like us, as opposed to those travelling for management/marketing/sales reasons, the wows are usually quite comprehensively outweighed by the mehs, and having concluded my pre-Covid business travelling history with several week-long stays working out of our offices in one of the far from touristy parts of Shanghai, I've rather enjoyed the lack of travel opportunities thrown my way these past few years.

            1. Potty Professor Bronze badge
              Facepalm

              Re: Site Acceptance Test

              Once flew from Birmingham to Dusseldorf on business. Weather was marginal when we left B, but absolutely horrendous as we approached D. The wings were flapping up and down like they belonged to a seagull, and the guy in the next seat (a superannuated Pop Star) was looking decidedly green about the gills. When we were waiting to pass through Immigration, he confided in me that he had just witnessed the worst landing he had ever survived in all his long years of international air travel. Being as it was my first overseas flight, I had been blissfully unaware of the seriousness of the situation, and had thought that this was normal. (Icon is not "D'oh", more sort of "Blert")

              1. ShadowSystems Silver badge

                Re: Site Acceptance Test

                At Potty Prof, re: flapping wings.

                I was once on a small twin engin prop job going from Chicago O'Hare to some tiny strip in the middle of nowhere on business for my then-employer.

                The plane only had ~20 passenger seats in four rows of 5 with an aisle down the middle. I'm in a seat looking out just ahead of the left wing, across the engine, essentially through the prop.

                The weather is crap, the rain so heavy it seems like we're trying to fly underwater, & the occaisional flash of lightning is bright enough to make the cabin strobe like a damned rave.

                I'm leaning with cheek in hand, elbow on the bulkhead, gloomily staring out the window when a bolt of lightning hits the engin just outside. The guy beside me screams like a child, the engine catches fire, the guy starts jibbering, the pilot cuts power to the engine & the fire dies, the man continues to wail that we're all about to die.

                The pilot comes on over the PA system & tells us not to worry. "This happens all the time. We have procedures for it. We've still got another engine. We'll be fine."

                The guy beside me is going utterly bonkers in panic, then seems to finally notice that I am not panicking, am not sweating bullets, and have not in fact even changed position. He blinks in surprise, pokes me on the shoulder, & asks incredulously "How can you be so calm? Are you BLIND?!?!?"

                I was not at that time, but neither was I upset. I sighed, turned to look at him instead, & wearily explained "We'll be fine. I can't die yet, that would involve overtime & there's no fuckin' way my boss will allow it."

                With that I went back to watching the dead engine spinning feathered prop in uselessness.

                The stewardess gave the man one of those mini bottles of alcohol to keep his histerical laughter to a reasonable level.

                =-J

                1. EVP
                  Thumb Up

                  Re: Site Acceptance Test

                  Haha, super! (Though not when it happened...)

              2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

                Re: Site Acceptance Test

                Düsseldorf is known to be windy... Just throw Düsseldorf crosswind landing into youtube..

            2. Andy A Bronze badge
              Pint

              Re: Site Acceptance Test

              Once did a job demonstrating new equipment in Dublin.

              Flew out Thursday evening in horrible weather. The Shipping Forecast had gales in EVERY area except German Bight.

              Spent Friday doing the demos. Our local distributor had worked wonders and got all his customers through in one day.

              So down their local to consume several pints of Guinness. :-)

              I have an open ticket to get home, and ring up in the morning to get a departure.

              The first available was the middle of Sunday Afternoon. Apparently lots of people had been delayed by those gales.

              So stuck in Dublin with time to kill and only expenses to keep me company. :-) :-) :-)

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Site Acceptance Test

            "The other stories were about missing seeing somewhere nice..."

            Plenty of nice bits in N Ireland.

            1. Admiral Grace Hopper

              Re: Site Acceptance Test

              Belfast is a grand place to be, although there are some parts I might give a swerve, the same as in any city. You’re right about the surrounding country, it’s full of utterly wonderful places to be, plus the motorcycle road racing is stunning.

            2. jake Silver badge

              Re: Site Acceptance Test

              To be fair, there are plenty of nice bits all over that island.

      3. AlanSh

        Re: Site Acceptance Test

        I once did a weekend trip to Singapore for 1 meeting. Flew in. Had meeting. Slept for 4 hours. Caught plane home.

        Yuk!

      4. Fonant

        Re: Site Acceptance Test

        Business travel, glamorous?!?

        I once worked for a software company that involved spending a week a month, or so, in Detroit. One memorable aspect was the compulsory tyre insurance on the hire car - the motorways had some serious potholes!

        1. GlenP Silver badge

          Re: Site Acceptance Test

          I spent several months flying to/from Detroit. They'd patched the roads with tarmac as it was cheap but it couldn't stand up to the temperature variation (in the time I was there it went from under 0F to over 100F).

          1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: 0F to over 100F

            That's what I like about this site: civilised profanity.

          2. Cheshire Cat
            Trollface

            Re: 0F to 100F

            Temperature ranging from 15 to 4111? 15 is OK but the other end is way too hot for me.

      5. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: one day trips

        I used to do lots of those. It meant getting up at 4:00, flying to Madrid to get here around 8:00, managing rush hour traffic in a taxi, spending the whole day in a suburban office complex (lunch included), then doing the reverse trip to be home by 21:00 (if lucky)

        Once I went with the business side (stock and derivative traders and the lot) so we went the night before, had a great dinner and drinks until what is considered late even in Madrid.

        Next morning we're all at the meeting bar the trading floor boss, who was the main reason for that meeting happening - he couldn't be bothered out of bed until lunch time that day.

        It's the one thing I'm glad for the pandemic - no more flights for pointless in person meetings!

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: one day trips

          Madrid is my favourite capital city, I have been involved with a few art exhibitions in Europe and three of them have been in Madrid.

          Good food, nice people and a great atmosphere, even better now I am retired, I live only 3 hours away by car.

          Plus now they have started cheap high speed rail twice a day.

          The best business trips I have been on, others have varied from ok down to spending a night on a cold plastic seat in Frankfurt airport in February after all flights were canceled.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: one day trips

          "It's the one thing I'm glad for the pandemic - no more flights for pointless in person meetings!"

          At the height of the second UK lockdown, I was tasked with a weeks work a long way from home, but still in the UK. One of the few hotels still open was booked for me, 4 stars above the door. It was probably the most soul destroying week of my life, working in a windowless cubby hole all day, having got up before sunrise (mid January!) and left site post sunset (still mid January!) I barely saw daylight all week and the evening meal at the hotel, running under COVID restrictions, was a choice of three types of toasted ciabattas or 4 flavours of pizza as there were no kitchen staff, delivered to your room. Breakfast was in a bag (at least it came with a hot bacon or sausage buttie!). That "delivered to your room" was quite important too as the COVID rules meant the hotel public areas were closed and there was no where to go since everything else outside was also closed! I barely saw daylight for the entire week. I really hope that never happens again. On a brighter note, the job was completed by lunchtime on the Friday and I made it home in time for tea and most of the drive home was in daylight :-)

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: one day trips

            I should add that anyone who was stuck in a "quarantine" hotel has my utmost sympathy!

      6. adam 40 Silver badge

        Re: Site Acceptance Test

        I was taken business class to Calgary by Nortel Networks, got a bit pissed on the plane (I didn't have to be in their office till the next day), did 10 seconds work to fix the critical problem (pushed a card into a rack), then they didn't have anything else for me to do so I went to learn snowboarding for 3 days at Lake Louise to fill in the time.

        I got pissed on the way back, all taxis to/from airport, all expenses paid (apart from the snowboarding lessons which were £12 for a half day one-one tuition).

        1. Belperite

          Re: Site Acceptance Test

          Lake Louise. Spent part of a holiday there (and Banff). Very pretty part of the world. Chance of me going on a business trip: 0

        2. Montreal Sean

          Re: Site Acceptance Test

          My company wanted to send me to Quaqtaq to replace a combination pinpad/signature tablet used by clients at the post office.

          Total work time, 30 minutes including calling the payment company to activate the pinpad.

          Total time on planes and snowmobiles would be 18 hours for the round trip.

          And 3 or 4 days waiting for the next return plane.

          During the pandemic so confined to the hotel room.

          Did I mention that Quaqtaq has only a few hundred residents and is possibly the northernmost town in Quebec?

          Thankfully they found someone up there that was able to use a Philips screwdriver to remove the 2 screws holding the pinpad to its stand.

          1. Andy A Bronze badge

            Re: Site Acceptance Test

            A company I worked for were bidding to do support on radar sites. I asked where they were, having a pilot's licence.

            One was on Orkney. They intended using one of their two staff in Aberdeen. There's a ferry from there to Kirkwall.

            "Check the timetable", I advised. Yes, they could get the chap and his vehicle on the ferry and only 6 hours later it would arrive in Orkney. Drive from the dock to the installation, get out of the car and ... watch the ferry departing.

            Don't worry, it will be back for you on Thursday.

            Charging a flat rate per site for the contract became a lot less attractive.

      7. DarkwavePunk

        Re: Site Acceptance Test

        I agree entirely. Business park outside of Amsterdam, business park somewhere in Copenhagen, where the fuck is Luxembourg?, that sort of thing. Rack up the bar tab and get them to invoice it as "dining", watch the "interesting" things on European TV, and hope you're still drunk for the journey home.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Site Acceptance Test

          where the fuck is Luxembourg?

          It is in that spot where the borders of Belgium, France and Germany just don't meet.

          1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: Site Acceptance Test

            The problem with trying to map a flat projection on curved ground. ;)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          where the fuck is Luxembourg?

          Somewhere above Scotland in the FIFA rankings?

      8. Martin
        Happy

        Re: Site Acceptance Test

        I once flew to from London to Chicago for a two-day presentation about some new products. Only it turned out to be only a one-day presentation.

        So I chatted to my boss who said "Just take the plane home you were booked on, and spend the extra day in Chicago." Which was great.

      9. Andy the ex-Brit

        Re: Site Acceptance Test

        I had the opposite experience, sent to South Africa (Joburg) to train some engineers on software I'd developed. I was still at University working a co-op/internship semester. I went for a week during December, leaving behind snow and arriving in sunny 25 °C weather. Not sure why the training was scheduled in late December, maybe we had to have it done that calendar year, but in SA everyone has their main holidays over Christmas break because it's summer. So I was training engineers who would rather have been somewhere else.

        Needless to say, after day two they decided that was enough training. I was driven up to Durban, put in a very nice four star hotel (because the cheap ones were all full) and spent three days shopping, having beers, and walking on the beach. In the evenings I was invited to braais (parties) at different engineers' houses.

        Interestingly, although I never saw him, Nelson Mandela was staying at the same hotel as me in Durban, along with a contingent of politicians, due to some kind of talks going on.

        1. pirxhh

          Re: Site Acceptance Test

          Reminds me of a two-week trip to Libya in 2013 (after Ghaddafi but before utter chaos).

          Spent a few days with rather high security at the client's HQ in Tripoli, then flew on a 20-seater company plane to their production site in the desert (it was an oil&gas company). The camp was actually rather nice; it could have passed muster as a holiday village (although those don't close the breakfast buffet at 6am). All very safe, the sandflies being the biggest hazard.

          Back to Tripoli for a layover until our return to Europe; after landing in Frankfurt, we heard on the news that some insurgents had abducted the Libyan prime minister from his residency in the early morning.

          His residency being a floor of the same hotel we had been blissfully asleep, that counts as one of the more memorable business trips.

      10. JT_3K

        Re: Site Acceptance Test

        Yep. I cite a week in Canada last month in which I managed 92hrs Mon-Fri, operating UK hours from my hotel room and Canadian hours in their office. It's rarely glamorous.

      11. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Site Acceptance Test

        I used to get trips to Paris office fairly regularly and the lunch time pick nick basket was excellent - I'd eat a whole baguette with brie and butter and avoid the wine till the office gastronome took us out in the evening,

        Went to Istanbul for 5 days to do some installation once and spent 3 days waiting for the equipment to be bribed through customs and missed out on seeing all the sites which was a bit of a pisser.

        1. G.Y.

          Re: Site Acceptance Test

          "bribed through customs" is a great phrase

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Site Acceptance Test

          We sent some kit out to Istanbul ten days ahead of when it was needed; customer was told to handle the customs process themselves as we didn't do the bribe-y thing. And I would only get on a plane out there do assist the install once they had taken delivery of the package and told me the magic phrase from the sheet of A4 inside the kit.

      12. Tuesday Is Soylent Green Day

        Re: Site Acceptance Test

        Reminds me of a jaunt my son made to Singapore from South Africa just to pick up an important aircraft part for a client. 23 hours by air there, 6 hours of Singapore time, including the trip to and from the supplier, and 23 hours back. Apparently a grand time was had by none.

    2. keith_w

      Re: Site Acceptance Test

      In Vancouver for a week in January setting up a Netware 3.2 network and although I was in an office building downtown, and walked from my hotel to the office each day, I did not see either the sun or a mountain, which Vancouver is surrounded by, until my last day there as Vancouver weather, raining from low heavy clouds precluded seeing anything scenic.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Site Acceptance Test

      I've done a lot of those too - in, work, out. The travel just becomes a long and tedious commute.

      Back when I was travelling more regularly I was lucky enough to work for a very pragmatic employer who would happily pay for my hotel over the weekend as staying away for a Saturday night meant significantly cheaper flights. I got a couple of days R&R in various interesting cities and they got lower travel costs. Win-win!

    4. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Site Acceptance Test

      Had a site in Lesotho.

      A NAS lost its boot drive (cwappy Thecus NAS) and I had to go to site to fixxit.

      Bright and early on the plane, got there, had some issues with the rental car, but eventually got that sorted out.

      Drove to clients site, replaced the hard drive, need to redo the iSCSI initiator stuff so two HyperV HA servers could connect, managed to get everything up and running, just in time to return to the airport and catch the plane out...

      Tried to submit a daily subsistence claim, and it got rejected, which Pissed Me Off Seri-assly.

    5. Flightmode

      Re: Site Acceptance Test

      I got to do the European tour a number of years back when I worked in Amsterdam. I had to travel to London, Paris and Frankfurt to physically visit our co-locations for some hands-on work that couldn't be done by remote hands. Each site had some minor thing that needed doing at night, so I had an afternoon flight, enough time to get me comfortably taxied[0] from the airport to a decent hotel for dinner and a couple of hours of chilling before I took another taxi to the site, worked for no more than an hour, then taxi back to the hotel for a few more hours of shuteye. Late breakfast, a walk in the neighbourhood, then check out and yet another taxi to the airport; then repeat for the other cities.

      The kind assistant that booked my tickets were, I think, a bit sweet on me. She consistently managed to book me on flights with the main national carrier leaving a particular country - KLM from NL to UK; British Airways from UK to FR, Air France from FR to DE and Lufthansa back from DE to NL. And she got me business class seats, so I had free access to the main lounge of the airport. That particular working week was a career highlight, that's for sure.

      [0] Except for in Paris, as mentioned by other people in the thread. When the driver cut across three lanes in the Arc de Triomphe roundabout (I swear, I thought he was considering going straight through the arch) blasting Depeche Mode's It's No Good at full volume on the stereo I sat back and closed my eyes.

      1. ChrisC Silver badge

        Re: Site Acceptance Test

        During our first trip to Paris, the OH and I spent a rather enjoyable half hour or so watching the traffic negotiating the AdT - there's something quite delightful in the way it behaves like finely-choreographed chaos, always looking as if it's on the verge of a city-stopping pileup, yet managing somehow to just keep on flowing.

        The worst taxi-related experience I've had has to have been the first time I went from the airport across to the other side of Shanghai - the rule of the road there seems to be "If you see a space, drive into it. If you don't see a space, just blow your horn and drive into where you *want* the space to be. Don't even think of stopping, unless there's an even bigger vehicle also aiming for the same space as you", which was rather disconcerting. Though by the time of my third trip, with a colleague who hadn't been out there before, it was then quite illuminating to see his reactions as I sat back all relaxed and just took it for granted that we were going to get to the office in one piece...

      2. pirxhh

        Re: Site Acceptance Test

        European tour... heh, had a roadshow to do which brought me to 13 foreign countries in exactly 4 weeks - with most weekends home (in country #14). I felt very much like the stereotypical Japanese tourist. "How was Milano?", the wife asked. Me: "Dark when we came, dark when we left. Hotel was okay but in an industrial zone, conference room was windowless. Could have been Istanbul for all I know, but the caffé was good."

      3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Site Acceptance Test

        I had an experience in a taxi in Milan one time I was there for training (I can't remember whether it was receiving or giving, I've done both there).

        On the way to the hotel from the airport, the taxi driver decided to go head-to-head... with a tram. I don't know how much she missed it by, but when we pulled up at the hotel, she seemed to wilt a bit, having obviously scared herself too.

    6. Andy Denton

      Re: Site Acceptance Test

      Spent 3 days in Lisbon in June many years ago. Customer was a bar/restaurant in the Docas and I spent the entire time in a hot cellar (it was 30 degrees outside and even hotter in the cellar) with no air conditioning with a laptop coding around a firmware issue that would cause the interface between the PC and till system to crash bringing the entire system down with it. The only plus was that the hotel was nice (Vila Gale Opera).

    7. Sam not the Viking Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Site Acceptance Test

      Yes. Glamorous..... I was sent to Finland in deep mid-winter to witness some machinery being tested and since the end-user wanted to go as well, flights were arranged from Bristol via Brussels rather than direct from Heathrow.

      Well, the end-user wasn't able to go so I motored on over to Bristol to catch the early flight..... Arrived in Helsinki but my luggage took another route and arrived two days later. At the end of the week, the testing was sorted. Return flight was delayed awaiting late-arriving passenger..... so in Brussels, I missed the connecting flight to Bristol..... Hours and hours later I was put on another flight and arrived in Bristol late at night/early morning. Found my frozen car (they had addressed this problem better in Finland) and made my way across the country. Only to be held up by 'rolling road-works' on the motorway....

      "Did you have a good trip?" they asked....

      I've travelled to many places around the world in the past decades and only one destination was really enjoyable: Hong Kong.

    8. innominatus

      Re: Site Acceptance Test

      Recently out of uni I worked on an embedded software project for a manufacturer but their old, run down factory was out of space. We were housed in the gents toilet - server, VDUs and all. We called it The Lavoritory.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Site Acceptance Test

        Wouldn't that inconvenience them too?

    9. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Site Acceptance Test

      I had the reverse of this in that during a meeting I wrote some code which I thought was a solution to the problem the meeting was about. Turned out it was and it would have taken me maybe a week to code the whole solution for the company. But the code was handed to someone else and a couple of years later they were still flying two or three people over to India three or four times a year to see how the now outsourced code was coming on, OK I wouldnt have actually got the trips to India but I got the seriously pissed off that I didnt feeling all the same!

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Site Acceptance Test

      I met a tech support recently and we shared worst call out to date stories. His was worse than mine. During the dot com boom a customer had complained that the newly installed system was stopping for no obvious reason.

      Thanks to a blockage on the mainline he’d had to take a roundabout route on several trains and then a taxi to get to the customer who was in the middle of nowhere. Once there he’d identified the issue very quickly and it involved the login of a particular employee.

      They’d added a new user recently who had first noticed the problem. Shortly after he logged in everyone would find their desktop prog had fallen over and the backend on the server had shut down. After a few minutes of digging around the tech support bloke spotted the problem. The company user names were a mixture of first and last names plus a few numbers.

      When they were building the system they’d used a code to shut the server backend down without needing to get into the desktop prog. The code was entered as a login and they’d picked SHDO999, short for SHut DOwn 999 and easy to remember. It wasn’t taken out though when they released the final version.

      As you will have guessed the new user had that login name. He deleted the shut down code after calling head office and after a quick test was on his way back. This could have been diagnosed and fixed remotely, except that the customer didn’t want to share their logs or let anyone remote in to their systems.

      To add insult to injury, it had started snowing during the day. He only just escaped back to London before one of the trains he had to catch stopped running because of the weather. Customer was very pleased with the service but he was a little pissed off.

    11. TooOldForThisSh*t

      Re: Site Acceptance Test

      Had a two week Novell training course in Chicago back in the early 80's. Long days and studying at night to pass the six exams on the last day, BUT that weekend in between was free time. Most of the other students went clubbing, but since the classroom and my hotel were in the heart of downtown Chicago I had other plans. Hit every art gallery in the area and the Museum of Science & Industry along with the Adler Planetarium and the Shedd Aquarium.

      A great two day vacation along with all expenses paid (probably helped that I passed all six exams and earned my Novell CNE)

      good times...

  3. jake Silver badge

    Portable? Shirley you mean luggable ...

    "He packed up his "portable computer" (a sewing-machine sized contraption with twin 5 1/4" floppy drives and a 7" CRT)"

    Sounds like the Panasonic Sr. Partner I lugged around the world for a few years, but that was back in the early-mid '80s, not the '90s.

    All 38 pounds of her, including case, modem, manuals & floppies. At least she has a built-in printer. Yes, has. I still have her. You get attached to the daftest things after a quarter million air-miles together.

    After a little gentle massaging, she now has an MFM controller in the expansion slot, a 20 meg hard drive in one of the floppy bays, and an aftermarket hack that upped the stock 256K of RAM to a more usable768K. I used an external modem. She still works. Came with Panasonic-labeled MS-DOS 2.2, but it currently boots MS-DOS 3.3 ... It might be hard for some of the younger readers to believe, but a LOT of RealWorld work was done with such primitive devices. Along with the usual office crap, she runs Mark Williams C perfectly ... which is more than I can say of the other luggables of the era.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Portable? Shirley you mean luggable ...

      Also running Kermit?

      For a while I ended up with an Osborne or similar luggable as an office terminal. I'm not sure it would have been as generous as a 7" screen but with MSDOS and Kermit as a terminal emulator it did the job. It might be the reason why to this day I find a 6" terminal window more than adequate for the command-line.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Portable? Shirley you mean luggable ...

        Yes, Kermit, at least early on. Then I added the option of Telix, and finally Procomm.

    2. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: Portable? Shirley you mean luggable ...

      It could also have been an Osborne, a Compaq Portable, possibly a Kaypro(can't remember the size of the screen).

      It probably wasn't the Commodore Sx-64, though, as it had a smaller screen.

      And the Panasonic Sr. has a 9" screen, not a 7" as mentioned in the article.

      Trade me the sr for a Cambdridge Computers Z88? New in box... Yes, original carboard 'attache case' packaging.

      No?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Portable? Shirley you mean luggable ...

        "It could also have been an Osborne, a Compaq Portable, possibly a Kaypro(can't remember the size of the screen).

        True enough ... but only the Panasonic evoked a sewing machine's looks.

        "And the Panasonic Sr. has a 9" screen, not a 7" as mentioned in the article."

        I think it's a safe assumption that "Paul" never actually measured it, and was going on memory. It *is* pretty small, although it is easy to use at 80x25. What's an inch or two between fiends?

        "Trade me"

        One of my nieces has "dibs" on her, sorry.

        1. Trygve Henriksen

          Re: Portable? Shirley you mean luggable ...

          The Compaq Portable is also rather sewingmachine-shaped.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compaq_Portable

          Also, I have the Lemmings game for the Z88...

          1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: The Compaq Portable is also rather sewingmachine-shaped.

            How did it cope with buttons?

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: The Compaq Portable is also rather sewingmachine-shaped.

              You don't cope buttonholes, silly, you slit them.

              Mine's a Bernina, it does the slitting for me ...

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: The Compaq Portable is also rather sewingmachine-shaped.

                I hate replying to myself, but I just realized ... the Bernina has more computer power than the Panasonic that started this thread.

              2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

                Re: You don't cope buttonholes, silly, you slit them.

                Yes, yes my late mum was over the moon with the new-fangled button-hole facilities on her Singer machine, but I learned, as I made my earlier comment, that you can actually sew buttons on contemporary models...

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGOJnaiOMII

                To be honest, this looks like a real pfaff (see what I did there?). (A bit like doing a mail-merge in any version of Word - cue downvotes).

    3. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: Portable? Shirley you mean luggable ...

      I did fair bit of travelling with a Kaypro 2X (didn't trust 10's disk to take the beating of knocked about on travels) so two floippy drives had to do. Got to say the edges were digging quite unconmfotably into your legs (nothing rounded about that beast).

      1. Flightmode

        Re: Portable? Shirley you mean luggable ...

        "Floippy" is my new favorite word.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Portable? Shirley you mean luggable ...

        The very used and old at the time MFM drive I put in mine has lasted forever ... the afore mentioned quarter million air miles, and then kicking around in my piling system for a couple decades before landing in the corner of my office here at the ranch. Still works, gawd/ess knows how or why.

    4. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Portable? Shirley you mean luggable ...

      Still works? Good enough for the support engineer to go on using, then. More money for the CEO and sales team to spend on their 3D screen laptops. ...For instance.

  4. ColinPa Silver badge

    "Dont ask"

    Talking about trips. I had a colleague in sales and marketing in the US.

    He was just told "take his laptop and be on the corner of Washington and Third" at 0900. He wasn't even told the customer name. A black limo picked him up - he could not see out. They drove around with many turns, and eventually went deep underground.

    He got out and was met by a big marine with a gun at the ready. "Where am I ?" he asked "Don't ask" came the reply.

    He was taken to a room - it was empty; and a voice said "please do your presentation".

    He did his presentation to an empty room and a voice said " thank you - you can go next door for coffee, we'll recall you if we have any questions"

    He went for a coffee - but needed the toilet, so he asked the guard who escorted him to the toilets. The cubicals had no doors and the armed guard watched him do his business.

    He was called back to answer a few questions and was allowed to leave; the same limo; it drove around for half an hour and dropped him at his hotel.

    He said it was the scariest presentation he had ever done.

    1. Steve Kerr

      Re: "Dont ask"

      Been driven thru the back roads in Moscow back to the airport late at night on a terrifying journey after I flew over for a work meeting.

      Outside of the middle of moscow, there is literally no street lights or electricity.

      Picked up by some taxi driver and driven down narrow back streets was rather worried about exactly where we were going - think the driver saw the terror in my eyes and said "Is OK, no worries"

      he was actually skipping the clogged main roads which are a nightmare, just everything outside was pitch black!

      1. JT_3K

        Re: "Dont ask"

        I'm reminded of a trip to the Czech Republic a good 20yrs ago in which I stumbled in to a "Zippo and militaria" store and having expressed interest in something vaguely aviation related, was offered the HUD from a recent MIG under the counter. Wasn't sure whether I was more entertained by the event itself or the idea of trying to get it back to the UK.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          the HUD from a recent MIG under the counter

          Must have been a very big counter if MIGs fitted under it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Dont ask"

      It's nice to hear Disneyland's site security has loosened up a bit.

  5. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Trollface

    In before someone says Rust would have enforced memory safety

    And any problems with int to hex to binary conversion using pointers in Rust would be gracefully dealt with by the language and so the program would have suffered no downtime.

    1. Unoriginal Handle

      Re: In before someone says Rust would have enforced memory safety

      Nice thought. Except Rust appeared in 2010, this story is set in the 1990s.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: In before someone says Rust would have enforced memory safety

        In C there would be a linker flag for that --1.21GW

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: In before someone says Rust would have enforced memory safety

        Are you suggesting Rust can't deal with time travel or working out what the converted binary number should have been had it been programmed properly? Heresy!

      3. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: In before someone says Rust would have enforced memory safety

        And GCC would warn you of pretty much any stupid you'd try long before that.

        I remember (but not the damn title alas) a book in the late 80s that covered pointers problems and memory leaks in C that I used for many years to prevent pretty much anything you could fuck up - apart from the bloody 64k segmenting on MSDOS. Amazing what you can do with a couple of header files full of useful DEFINEs and then some pattern matching run over your code.

      4. EVP
        Coat

        Re: In before someone says Rust would have enforced memory safety

        "Except Rust appeared in 2010, this story is set in the 1990s."

        Yeah, but it took some 15-20 years to rust.

  6. big_D Silver badge

    Firefighters

    I worked for a large international IT consultancy for many years. I joined out of college and was hired because my requested salary was under their minimum. It got me through the door, and hard work got me a 100% pay rise in my first year!

    I was always the odd-one-out. I was never put on one project, I was pushed from pillar to post and spent the first 10 years constantly learning new languages and sent in to projects that were overrunning, whether as a scapegoat or a firefighter at first, I'm not sure. But the reputation of "getting things done" stuck for a long time and I went from one disaster to the next. Interesting work, but stressful. Learn a new language, go to the next customer and "fix" the project, learn a new language, go to the next customer and "fix" the project...

    One month, I'd be doing a COBOL based personnel system on a VAX, the next, I'd have learnt 4D and be working on a publisher's database on the Mac, after that, MS-BASIC on DOS and CP/M, dBase on CP/M86, Lightning Pascal on the Mac, Excel on Windows 2...

    Once, I came back from an assignment and there was a 300 page request to tender, an old IBM PS/2 386 and a shrink-wrapped copy of VisualBasic 3. I had a 2 weeks to learn VB, read the RTT and submit a tender for the project! Somehow, I managed to achieve all 3, we won the contract and I actually delivered it on time!

    1. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: Firefighters

      Sounds a bit like an accelerated version of my career path. Except that you were actually given time to learn languages. I learned Ruby by debugging someone else's code (Originator had long since left the premises).

      It's the kind of thing that makes a CV attractive, I can hear the eagerness in a head-hunters voice when they see PL/SQL & T-SQL, C# & C++ (and Java), and Ruby, PHP, and Perl all on the same sheet. They seem to read that as "Shove him into a hole, and he'll fit".

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Firefighters

        No, recruiters don't go that far, it just means you matched the most keywords.

        And prune the keywords down a bit otherwise you'll get a load of offers for things you're not really interested in.

        1. ChrisC Silver badge

          Re: Firefighters

          Amen to that. As an embedded systems engineer, I find myself occasonally needing to step outside the world of cajoling bare metal systems into doing what I need them to do, and knock up some desktop test/simulation tools, which means that along with all of the primary skills listed on my CV I've also ended up with a bunch of references in the "Additional Skills" section to stuff like Delphi and C#. And, because I know they *are* skills which are genuinely useful to possess in the embedded field, they aren't things that can really be removed from my CV.

          Consequently, every time I'd been job hunting i'll invariably end up being contacted by keyword-matching agencies of incompetence who think that listing such and such a language in that part of my CV means that I'm somehow a desktop systems developer who might be interested in some fintech coding position in central London (the salary would certainly interest me, the rest of the job not so much) or something equally unsuited to my actual abilities.

          So far in my career, I could count on the thumbs of one hand the number of agencies I've dealt which who actually bother to do a decent job and have the necessary technical knowledge to understand what's on the CVs passing through their hands. If I then include the remaining fingers on the same hand, I could also count those lesser agencies who, with a bit of prompting from me, were able to point me in the direction of jobs I genuinely was interested in. I'd run out of prehensile digits trying to count all the other agencies I've had the misfortune of dealing with...

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Firefighters

      My official job title at Bigger Blue was "Floating Senior Member of the Technical Staff" ... I wandered from department to department, world-wide, putting out fires. Outside of running my own businesses, it was the least boring, most stressful and most satisfying job I have ever had.

      1. irrelevant

        Re: Firefighters

        I'm not sure I had a job title, but turn of the century I was working for a small (not-my-)family business, reseller of a now-obscure accounts software suite. I was doing everything from installing serial terminals, Windows networking, general tech support, writing custom software in COBOL, debugging and patching crashed data to reverse engineering third party software to create data extraction tools. No day was the same. Massive variety, loved the work and the customer interaction, shame my boss, MD of the company, was a dick whom took advantage and ended up forcing my hand into leaving.

  7. trevorde Silver badge

    Work or pleasure?

    Once had to go to the company head office in Detroit. Landed at Detroit International Airport and was asked if I was "Here for work or pleasure?". I was tempted to answer:

    "Are you taking the p155? Nobody comes here for pleasure!"

    but though that would earn me a quick search for internally concealed contraband.

    1. Martin
      Happy

      Re: Work or pleasure?

      Apropos of nothing really, but a good quiz question is "What is the first country other than the USA you get to if you go due south from Detroit?"

      1. stiine Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Work or pleasure?

        Canada.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Work or pleasure?

          Unless you start from a point in Detroit West of the M-39 (roughly), and then it's Cuba. Or Florida, if the rest of us get lucky.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Work or pleasure?

      A friend worked in Detroit and had a wonderful time. This is before it went tits up. But he was out partying and seeing loads of live music which he reckoned was fantastic. His colour may have meant he felt able to go into a lot more venues though.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Work or pleasure?

        I'm white (although not Caucasian), and have never had any trouble getting into music venues in Motown. Racism is as racism does.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Work or pleasure?

          I get your point - its racism that stops a lot of people even trying to get into the venues! Racism is one of many self limiting actions idiots get involved in, Its not peoples colour that stops people doing things its their own stupidity.

  8. Littlefirby

    Guns at the ready

    I was sent to a customer in Pakistan, hotel in Karachi was ok, but in a secure compound with armed guards. Went to a meeting in the head office downtown and that was fine, back to the hotel under instruction I was to be in the hotel car park for a trip to the factory the next morning. Collected at 8am by the customer vehicle and we drove for about an hour way out of the city to the provincial border with Balochistan... there we waited and I was joined in the vehicle by 2 lads with pump action shotguns, apparently for my protection... then our vehicle was joined by a toyota hilux, with 6 guys in the flatbed each carrying an AK47... we then continued to the factory... I did my part there and was treated to the same escort back to the provincial border in the evening... back to the hotel.

    I did that same trip 10 times over 3 trips to Pakistan in 2018... suffice to say business travel is not all glamour!

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: Guns at the ready

      And I thought that getting up at 3am to arrive on the top of the volcano on Maui at 8am was bad... you win.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Guns at the ready

        You're supposed to arrive at the observatory just after sunset, not just after sunrise.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Guns at the ready

          You can't fix the stuff while it's being used! Shirley the best time to install or fix stuff in an observatory is during the day :-)

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Guns at the ready

            You usually can't diagnose stuff while it isn't running.

            Besides, where else will you sometimes have the opportunity to look at Mars, Jupiter or Saturn through largish optics? Yes, there are arguably more important places in the Universe, but those three top my list when given the chance to pick an object to point a 'scope at "just for fun".

            Staring at Mars through the James Lick always gives me goosebumps. Dunno why.

  9. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    He packed up his "portable computer" (a sewing-machine sized contraption with twin 5 1/4" floppy drives and a 7" CRT) and headed out to the site, nestled in the mountains.

    Sounds like an Osborne I? Was it an Osborne I? Bet it was an Osborne I...

    Actually, come to think of it, the CRT on that was 5", but the rest of the description fits.

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Not necessarily an Osborne

      I had an Osborne as my first computer, it was a very handy computer for the year. Once PCs hit the market it was redundant; the machine I've still got from that era is a Corona Data Systems luggable -- that's got the larger screen.

      I've never done much business travel but one really interesting visit was on short notice to Israel. I had to carry a prototype and some testgear with me; that mean I was carrying a small case with 'things' in it, including circuit boards sporting both red and blue wires. The case never really recovered from the probing that El Al security gave it. In fact they were so interested in it that on the way back the security agent spent so much time on it that the next person's toy, complete with tool kit, was waved through.

      (That in turn reminds me of my student days, back when I had a 4 and half inch standard ball float that I'd painted black with the word "Bomb" on it. Went with the cloak.)

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Not necessarily an Osborne

        "a 4 and half inch standard ball float that I'd painted black with the word "Bomb" on it."

        Mine has the small word "Acme" in red above the rather larger BOMB in white ... and a small paper tag tied on with string that says "Property of Wile E. Coyote" on it. It's a prop I use to irritate so-called "building security" when doing pen-testing ... it's amazing how many secrets they give away when flustered.

        1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

          Re: Not necessarily an Osborne

          Mine has the small word "Acme" in red above the rather larger BOMB in white ... and a small paper tag tied on with string that says "Property of Wile E. Coyote" on it.

          Now that is just beautiful! Just don't show it to any TSA agent...

      2. kmceject

        Re: Not necessarily an Osborne

        Back in the long forgotten 80s the world was quite different... I had a co-worker who was a bit of a hard rock enthusiast who normally showed up for work wearing a tattered army coat. He would go to customers with that attire and his battered toolkit which for no apparent reason contained a practice (dummy) hand grenade. This was a standard pineapple type with a blue spoon safety and a hole in the bottom so you could see it was empty. One day he was called to a customer in one of the newer buildings. He was taken to the communications area where he put his case down and to access one of the tools he removed the grenade and hung it by the spoon on the metal mesh cage wall. He then proceeded to work in a loud corner of the data center.

        We first heard of this about an hour later when he returned to pack up and called us franticly to report "I can't find my grenade!" He was advised to find it at all costs by his supervisor and called us back about ten minutes later. First he found that he seemed to be alone on the floor. The other techs didn't seem to be around and their work tables were scattered with tools and coffee cups. The managers office door was open and empty. He frantically searched the floor until he found a hallway leading to the freight elevator. Almost to the elevator was one of the building security guards gingerly walking at a pace of about a step every five seconds cradling the grenade in his shaking hands.

        Our tech considered pretending he knew nothing and slinking away for a second but his guilt got to him and he went up to the guy who screamed at him to get away. it took several minutes to convince the guard to tilt the grenade enough to look at the hole in the bottom to convince him it was indeed a dummy.

        We didn't hear back from the tech for a couple of hours, apparently spent being yelled at by the floor manager. He was banned from returning to that company but released without a police call. When he got back he was told to leave the grenade at home from then on!

        He said when he left the guard was still sitting on a chair shaking, being consoled by several people. Last time we discussed the incident the tech was still feeling guilty about the guard....

        1. Trygve Henriksen

          Re: Not necessarily an Osborne

          He should NOT feel guilty about the guard.

          It was the guard who decided to move what he believed to be a dangerous explosive device. Or some mangler or other ordered him to do it.

          Had he done his job, and called it in, the bomb squad would have told him to under no circumstances toucht it. Then they'd send a team to deal with it.

  10. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Business travel - insisted on sightseeing

    I absolutely and vigorously hate travel. I do like being in new places, I just hate getting there. One reason I ride bikes is it makes "getting there" a bit more pleasurable.

    Anyway, once I was sent to install a Linux server, back when such things weren't commonplace and I was one of the few with any such experience.

    I insisted on extra time to sightsee, since I rarely traveled and I was damn well going to take advantage of it. I was willing to spend vacation time instead of company time.

    They said "no", to which I shrugged and said "fine" and started to walk off, at which point they backed down. I got to spend 4 days in Colorado Springs wandering around. Not really something to write home about, but It Was Some Place Different.

    To reference some recent articles, the Intel chip fab WAS HUGE. Blocks and blocks of driving past the same building. And my hotel overlooked the USAF Academy, and Cheyenne Mountain, which I'm sure folks will be familiar with.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Realtime patching

    That would be Smalltalk

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Realtime patching

      Or any language on Minix! I believe its modular system means you can replace drivers and bits of drivers on the fly. I may just buy the version 3 book to see how this works!

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Realtime patching

        Just tried to buy the book and thought a couple of hundred quid was a bit steep and then added .pdf to the search string and found it was available for free! Love open source!!!

  12. Ian 70

    Italians not trusting anyone

    I used to work in the gaming industry making what most people would describe as fruit machines.

    The Italian market was crazy. Because they assumed everyone working with them was corrupt they did all sorts of things to ensure you weren't trying to cheat them. One of the requirements was you had to compile your exe in person in Rome. I flew out, taxi to the hotel in the dark, taxi to an office, Spent 2 hours waiting for a guy to turn up with the required laptop for me to open VC++ 6.0 and press F7 to compile it.

    Then taxi to the airport and flight home.

    My boss wanted was surprised I only had the two taxi trips on expenses and nothing else.

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: press F7 to compile it.

      Sounds like a Plum Plum Plum job.

  13. spireite Silver badge

    Two memorable, wast-of-time quick trips....

    Used to work in aviation stuff for a consultancy on the software side.

    Customer was having a massive moan about issues with our software. After two weeks of to-and-fro on the phones, using Teamviewer et al. It all reached a head, culminating in yours truly being despatched to Amsterdam. Cool I thought...

    Then I discovered that my employer wasn't going to put me up in a hotel for a night and it was a same day trip.. Fine , I thought.. until I then discovered the customers HQ was at Schipol. It then became apparent the company was putting me on the cheapest flights of the day...

    7:30am departure from LHR

    11:30am departure from the other side, allowing me two hours max to 'fix the issue'. It was a wasted trip in many ways, not least because I couldn't sample the heavenly delights of real Amsterdam.

    Same year, different customer.... Frankfurt. Same gig. Early flight, lunch time back. Our swanky datadriven site they couldn't use. Why? Beacuse they were a bank, and they only allow whitelisted IPs. Back then, we used Akamai CDN, and you couldn't guarantee the IP of the edge servers you'd go through. Could I get them to open a range? No... Reason, fsking IE.... They couldn't override the proxy. They couldn't install anything... the machines were locked except for.......

    I rode to the rescue, giving them a PortableApps version of Firefox. Were they happy? No, but the guy who'd be using it was. No doubt because he could actually access things they wouldn't let him.

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