back to article You can buy a company. You can buy a product. Common sense? Trickier

An important lesson in conductivity lies in wait for the unwary or downright incompetent. Welcome to another tale from the On Call archives. Today's story comes from a Register reader we shall call "Peter" (not his name) and concerns his experience at an electronics company at the turn of the century. The company had been …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    'twas ever thus

    I've seen this sort of screw up a few times, but none as extreme as that. Usually it's things like transit screws/pegs either missing (so the unit is destroyed in transit) or alternatively glued in place.

    1. Bogbody

      Re: 'twas ever thus

      Ah -- transit screws :-)

      Just ask my ex-wife how much it cost to replace the kitchen worktop when she used the new washine machine with reading the instructions.

      :-)

      1. chivo243 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: 'twas ever thus

        Just ask my ex-wife how much it cost to replace the kitchen worktop when she used the new washine machine with reading the instructions.

        I'm assuming that you meant without reading... Really hoping you meant without reading... but if not that would explain the ex prefix!

      2. oiseau Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: 'twas ever thus

        Just ask my ex-wife ...

        Just where she put the bloody transit screws, just so you also know.

        When the time comes to move the washing machine to your next abode, you will need them.

        Or you will probably be needing a new washing machine.

        As Murphy (and the manufacturer) would have it, most times they are not plain* screws.

        They are usually hard to source, expensive OEM screws.

        *The type you can make a run to any hardware store and purchase in a pinch.

        So consider yourself warned.

        O.

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: 'twas ever thus

          > When the time comes to move the washing machine to your next abode, you will need them.

          Interesting difference between the UK - where I was raised - and the US, where I now live...

          In the former, you typically take all appliances with you when you move house. In fact, I distinctly remember that when I bought my first house, the parsimonious sellers had taken not only the washing machine and fridge, but even the bathroom toothbrush shelf and loo-roll holder. Oh, and every ceiling light fitting. (Hey, at least they'd left me the bulbs. A friend bought a house and the sellers had even taken the bulbs and bayonet holders, then so that there weren't "dangerous loose wires", had thoughtfully twisted the two wires together in every room and taped them. You can imagine how that went when he took possession on a dark winter afternoon and tried to turn a light on...)

          In the US, at least in my experience, you leave everything like that. Unless you specifically exclude them from the sale, the expectation is that the washer, dryer, fridge, oven etc will all stay with the house. In my case I also acquired two trailers, a ride-on lawnmower and a cat, but that's another story...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 'twas ever thus

            House sale contracts tend to be wise to that sort of idiocy and have an agreed inventory to make its clear what’s included and what’s not.

            Last time we moved we were downsizing and left all the white goods, plus quite a bit of furniture. The buyers were FTB so they were over the moon :-)

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: 'twas ever thus

              Yes, in the UK the contract of sale will specify portable/removable appliance to be left, with a price. This can make a difference to the tax paid on sale since some of the sale price can be considered as being for the appliances. The higher the agreed valuation of the dish washer etc the less the the tax ("stamp duty") maybe even bringing the sale below the threshold for payment. just don't try to take the piss.

              Fixed items, lighting,switches,shelves etc are meant to be left. As are garden plants that are buried into the ground. Some people are stupid and unscrupulous and will take these items, leaving bare wires sticking out of the walls etc. but it's illegal.

            2. jmch Silver badge

              Re: 'twas ever thus

              In Switzerland all ovens, cookers, dishwashers, fridges etc are typically built-in and expected to stay. Washer and drier ditto though not built-in.

              On the other hand it's normal to take all the light fittings and leave just wires (though individually insulated!!), though it also happens to leave a basic bare light bulb.

              It's also weirdly common to not have any wires in the living room ceiling, and instead to have light switches that control sockets into which you then plug standing lamps

          2. Kobus Botes

            Re: 'twas ever thus

            @David 123

            "Interesting difference between..."

            Here in South Africa fixtures (i.e. anything bolted or screwed onto or into the structure of the house) has to remain, unless stipulated in the sales contract that it will be removed. You also have to leave a stove behind - usually the one that was there, but not necessarily.

            Removing lamp shades or fixed lights therefore is not allowed - if there were such items there have to be similar or the same after the house has been vacated. Removing bulbs is just mean.

          3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: 'twas ever thus

            As regards light fittings, if you've chosen them to your own taste as part of the decor it mages sense to take them. We brought four wall lights here from our last house. I can't remember what we put in their place - probably the sintered spelter pseudo-baroque monstrosities that were in the house when we bought it.

          4. Flightmode

            Re: 'twas ever thus

            In 2000 my then-wife and I bought an apartment in Amsterdam. Since we were not Dutch ourselves, our real estate agent[0] helpfully told us to remember that when you buy an apartment in The Netherlands you're essentially buying the walls, the floor and the ceiling. If you're lucky, the windows may be included as well.

            [0] Weird system that you as a buyer have a real estate agent of your own, protecting your interests in the purchase. I'm beginning to think they were fleecing us.

            1. lglethal Silver badge

              Re: 'twas ever thus

              A friend of mine bought a flat in the Netherlands. The previous owner took everything including the floorboards. This was apparently considered normal.

              Not something I could understand as unless you're new house is of exactly the same dimensions as your old house, you're not going to be able to reuse all of the floorboards, and you're probably going to have to buy new ones for at least part of the new house anyway.

              Taking to my Dutch friends about this, they all just shrug in that typical Dutch way and say "it's what you do". Crazy Dutchies! :D

              1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

                Re: 'twas ever thus

                "it's what you do"

                A classic truism, not only in the Netherlands. E.g., When in Rome...

              2. H in The Hague Silver badge

                Re: 'twas ever thus

                "The previous owner took everything including the floorboards. This was apparently considered normal."

                Never heard of that! And definitelt not normal, anything that is fixed with screws, nails or adhesive is normally considered part of the property and to be left behind. And certainly nowadays the seller will complete a list indicating which items will be removed, left behind, or can be acquired by the purchaser (e.g. freestanding appliances, built-in appliances would be considered part of the building).

              3. Manolo
                Joke

                Re: 'twas ever thus

                Two jokes from Belgium:

                A Belgian sees a Dutchman stripping the paint from his house.

                "Allez, are you moving house?"

                .

                .

                .

                How was copper wire invented?

                Two cloggies fighting over a cent. *

                * You may know this one with Schotchmen in it.

                1. Charlie van Becelaere

                  Re: 'twas ever thus

                  How was copper wire invented?

                  Two cloggies fighting over a cent. *

                  * You may know this one with Schotchmen in it.

                  For some odd reason, I've even heard it with two Belgians in it. Quelle horreur!

              4. MrBanana Silver badge

                Re: 'twas ever thus

                "A friend of mine bought a flat in the Netherlands. The previous owner took everything including the floorboards. This was apparently considered normal."

                Yup, been through the house buying process a couple of times in NL and early on was clued up by our agent that floorboards could be an optional extra. I still think it odd, although not cheap (no building work is here), how would you get so attached to your choice of flooring to take it with you?

                Also odd what gets left behind. In my current house, amongst the crap left in the workshop were two massive polystyrene blocks, the size of cupboards, and a scythe. When we cleared out the house we bought from our great uncle we went to see what was in the shed. Turned out he was a terrible hoarder and just built a new shed next to the old one when he had filled it. Seven shed Ted we called him. Had to call the police to ask for the shotgun we found to be decommissioned.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: 'twas ever thus

              "If you're lucky, the windows may be included as well."

              I've seen a Will where the testator specified the window panes were to stay with the house. However it was a C16th Will and at that time glass was so expensive that if you had more than one house you might take the glass with you when you went from one to the other.

            3. wub

              Re: 'twas ever thus

              "[0] Weird system that you as a buyer have a real estate agent of your own, protecting your interests in the purchase. I'm beginning to think they were fleecing us."

              Huh. As a buyer in the US, I've always used an agent. Especially if I'm relocating to a new area, and don't know the territory. When there are agents on both sides of the deal, they split the commission (paid by the seller), so it isn't an apparent expense for me. I have been fortunate to have had good (and ethical) agents, so far.

              First time I sold a house, the ultimate buyer was also an agent, but for commercial, not residential property. We found out at some point that what he had done was to survey available properties and chose mine. Then, he pretended to be a naive buyer, and chose my selling agent to be his buying agent, putting her on both sides of the deal, for a little extra motivation for his offer. He said there were several properties he wanted to see, but "fell in love" with ours.

              What he didn't know was that our agent was a long-time personal friend, When she figured out that he was an agent, she told us right away and asked if we were comfortable about her representing him. We said since she was up-front about it, we were fine with her getting the entire commission.

              He then played shenanigans - his first offer (too low) was set to "expire" at 11 PM the same day. We had no interest in it, so we didn't respond. At 11 PM, I unplugged the phone (1980's - BCP), and had a good night's sleep.. He was furious the next day, as he had tried to call and pressure us after the deadline. What good is a deadline, if you never had any intention of adhering to it yourself?

              He did ultimately submit an offer that we found acceptable. We did well on that sale!

            4. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: 'twas ever thus

              "Weird system that you as a buyer have a real estate agent of your own, protecting your interests in the purchase. I'm beginning to think they were fleecing us."

              It's common in the US to have an agent as a buyer. The process is exceptionally complicated and most people are only going to buy a home less than a couple of times. It can pay to have somebody that knows what traps to look for and also knows the homes in the area.

              Even in the US, what's left with the house and what isn't can be regional. Anything affixed to the home should be left (light fixtures, window coverings, electric gubbins, kitchen cabinets). Appliances should be negotiated and HVAC left in place.

              In the early days of the US, many things were left with the house as professional removals companies with large vans didn't exist. They would take kitchen supplies and nana's rocking chair, but the rest of the furniture would often be left behind.

            5. chivo243 Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: 'twas ever thus

              When my ex moved to NL, she rented a place, having zero clue that the place would be a void. She raised a big 'stunk' ok, a really big 'stunk' and got all of those things installed for free! Once I joined her a year later we moved from that flat, and left everything, hopefully that made the place just a little bit easier to rent after we moved on...

          5. David Hicklin

            Re: 'twas ever thus

            Reminds me when I was looking for my first house in the late '80s in the UK just as the housing market when berserk, one house that was a repossession had just about everything removed, power sockets, radiators - the works

            1. Mark #255

              Re: repossessions

              When we were discussing a remortgage (~10 years ago) with a building society, we asked about the huge hike in interest rates above 70-80% loan-to-value, and were told that, in the event of a repossession, the building society would not expect more than that to be realised due to desperate soon-to-be-evictees stripping the house bare.

            2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

              Re: 'twas ever thus

              one house that was a repossession had just about everything removed, power sockets, radiators - the works

              My first house (bought in the 70s) was a repossession and had everything left behind, including a load of rubbish that needed a skip to get rid of and a lot of definitely NSFW photos taken by the previous owner who was a professional photographer.

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

              2. TRT Silver badge

                Re: 'twas ever thus

                Stripped bare?

            3. trindflo Bronze badge
              Mushroom

              Re: 'twas ever thus

              Happened in the US after 2008 when the banks were getting bailed out of their liar loans by public dollars and thus had no motivation to negotiate with the existing homeowners who now owed significantly more to the bank than the home was worth. The bank would just respond that it was naughty to declare bankruptcy, cross their arms, and grin knowing they could sit on the property at no expense until the market changed. The situation was somewhat the opposite of a deep-pockets mentality in that the people least able to afford it were left holding the bill.

              I'm not sure how common it was to strip the house down in that situation, but I know it happened.

          6. Howard Sway Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: 'twas ever thus

            It never ceases to amaze me just how trivial the little things can be that people will take with them when moving out of their home. For instance, when I moved into my new secret volcano lair, the previous owner had even taken their massive laser death ray with them! Fortunately even he couldn't be bothered to drain the piranha pool and move all the hungry fishes.

            1. Timo

              Re: 'twas ever thus

              In our first house the previous owners must have changed out all the light bulbs for super cheap ones with expected lives of minutes. Feels like I spent the first two months replacing burned out bulbs. So strange.

              1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: 'twas ever thus

                TBF Having furnished houses with efficient ones at some cost, I always swap the originals back, with one exception, moving from UK to Canada.

          7. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

            Re: 'twas ever thus

            How is the cat doing?

            1. David 132 Silver badge

              Re: 'twas ever thus

              I had to rewind through many, many comments, but I think you're referring to the cat I alluded to?

              She's fine. Lurks around the barns and keeps the meece under control. And also produces on a regular basis Kitty-Roca(TM), my Labrador's favourite squishy treat, but let's not go there.

              1. trindflo Bronze badge
                Facepalm

                Re: 'twas ever thus

                Kitty-Roca(TM)

                Watched a dog smack the cat out of the nice tidy hole she had dug and was in the process of using to get at the treat. Wife and cat made nearly identical sounds at this; I wasn't aware that was part of a cat's vocabulary.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: 'twas ever thus

                Don't know about the other cat, but I thought the cat Jou (Mxyzptlk) was refering to came with commentard Howard Sway's volcano lair - a white cat to be stroked while the evil bald villian explained his plans for world dominiation

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: 'twas ever thus

                  Neighbor had a white cat. As it grew older, it started getting grey fur. I suppose that's not too surprising, but it did look a bit odd.

          8. Imhotep Silver badge

            Re: 'twas ever thus

            In the US, typical sales contracts specify that "fixtures" will saty with the house - basically anything actually attached to the house.

            So it is a no-no to remove light fixtures,btowel rods, curtain rods, etc.

            Appliances aren't considered fixtures, but dish washers, fridges and stoves usually stay, but it's usually highlighted in the listing.

            In our last two moves the dryer and washer weren't included, so ours went with us.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

          9. disgruntled yank

            Re: 'twas ever thus

            In the US: yes and no. Generally, an appliance will be marked as "Does not convey" if the owners are planning to take it along.

            But I do recall a case where the wife, then about six months pregnant, went ahead to the new house to get some cleaning done while the husband and his friends loaded the moving truck. She called the husband to ask that toilet paper be included in the first load of goods, for the prior owners had taken it all.

          10. PRR

            Re: 'twas ever thus

            > ..the expectation is that the washer, dryer, fridge, oven etc will all stay with the house. In my case I also acquired two trailers, a ride-on lawnmower and a cat...

            Maine USA. Owner-built house in the woods, long sad story. "Dryer" was two ropes in a dusty cellar (there once was a dryer, unvented, but long-gone). The lawn tractor was 36 years old and festering where it last stalled. I did run that for a while.

            But the 'oven' was also 36 years old and apparently NEVER cleaned. Certainly not by the hop-head tenants for the last 8 years. Ugh. We taped the door shut, went out for anything we could not boil or fry.

            No trailers but pieces of about 3.8 equivalent snowmobiles. An outboard motor which finally turned "collectible". Several tons of wood we don't need.

            And instead of cat: when we turned-on the back steps light (he did leave the bulbs) we heard AWWAAK! There was a hen sitting up on the fixture. Sorry to disturb you, mam! Next day we learned that most of the flock of chickens had been eaten by coyotes, this was the last one. Because she had learned to sleep on the light fixture.

            The house before this one: We had not noticed in the noontime walk-through that there were NO built-in light fixtures. The house was like 1883, a farm-house then and not wired until much much later, and then minimally. We had to move-in on a dark December night with one weak flashlight between us. Next morning down to Frank's for a bunch of clip-on lights and 3-way power cords.

            > ...you as a buyer have a real estate agent of your own, protecting your interests...

            In New Jersey, both our house deals had them-and-us agents; otherwise we'd be cheated. Buying with cash in Maine, we contacted the seller's agent and he explained he could serve as buyer's agent too. There's even a state form saying we know he's working the deal from both ends. We counted our fingers and signed. There was little to lose, and he did lubricate the seller's parasitic loan agent.

        2. Bogbody

          Re: 'twas ever thus

          She was an ex at the point of the transit screws in the kitchen incident.

          So in the ex-relationship the location of any screws was considered none of my business.

          Come to think of it anything involving "screws" or "screwing" did not involve her at all and had not for some time. :-)

      3. Potty Professor Bronze badge
        Facepalm

        Re: 'twas ever thus

        My nephew and his GF moved into a flat that had just been refurbished by the landlords. It included a brand new kitchen plus all the white goods. Received a frantic phone call, could I go and look at the washing machine, it was careering around the kitchen and nephew and GF had to sit on it to stop it crashing into the other equipment. When I arrived, it was sitting in the middle of the kitchen, with the pipes stretched to their limits. I took one look from the kitchen door and went back to the car to get some tools. I then undid the four red painted bolts attaching a yellow painted steel transit bar which bore the inscription "Important, remove before using machine".

        1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

          Re: 'twas ever thus

          "nephew and GF had to sit on it to stop it crashing into the other equipment"

          Of course they couldn't turn it off, because how would the dishes get cleaned?

          1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: 'twas ever thus

            If they've put the dishes in the washing machine, one would expect very nice clean shards and shrapnel to remain afterwards...

          2. David 132 Silver badge

            Re: 'twas ever thus

            I was about to say, "if we turned it off the cat might escape from inside!"

        2. Richard 12 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: 'twas ever thus

          The last time I bought a washing machine, the transit bolts also attached the plug to the machine, so you couldn't physically plug it in at all without removing at least two of the three.

          It also meant the cable didn't drag or bang around during delivery - or when we recently moved house.

          I remember thinking "Why don't they all do that?"

      4. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: 'twas ever thus

        Not as destructive, but I'd assumed the installers had dome this. Woke up after setting an overnight cycle to find the machine in the centre of the kitchen.

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: 'twas ever thus

          There is the theory that originally Hitler wanted a "People's Washing Machine" but this happened with the first demo machine and that's how Volkswagen came about.

          1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

            Re: 'twas ever thus

            Wasn't that a Mel Brooks film?

          2. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C
            FAIL

            Re: 'twas ever thus

            Possibly a misunderstanding between Austrian German and Prussian German. He wanted "racial cleansing" but they thought he said "people's cleaner".

            1. David 132 Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: 'twas ever thus

              To quote an old SMBC comic:

              "What's the difference between eugenics and a charity marathon?

              Well, one's a race for the cure..."

      5. cosmodrome

        Re: 'twas ever thus

        > washine machine

        Didn't want to pay the 500 kilograms of insecticide to her brother? No access to washine for you! Verrry simple.

      6. Tuesday Is Soylent Green Day

        Just ask my late wife.....

        ....how much it cost to replace the pump and filter in the washing machine because she decided to use an electric screwdriver that basically over-torqued the installation screw right through the filter housing.......

    2. David 132 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: 'twas ever thus

      I once had a colleague bring me his new PC to fix. He'd carefully built it himself - new minitower case, motherboard, everything - but it just didn't work.

      I figured it out in the time it took me to put the PC on my desk and rotate it so I could see the back.

      Long story short, he'd screwed the motherboard directly to the backplate of the chassis, scorning those little brass standoff pegs and thus shorting the motherboard to the chassis in a thousand places. The fact that the ATX I/O shield couldn't be fitted because it didn't now line up with the aperture on the chassis, he considered merely as an indicator of how shoddily the chassis must have been made.

      So I re-assembled it with an appropriate quantity of standoff pegs and perfectly-fitting I/O shield, and amazingly it worked. That motherboard must have been pretty idiot-proof.

      The icing on the cake was that the colleague in question worked for our IT department, and therefore should have had more technical knowledge than, say, a marketing droid...

      1. Mast1
        Facepalm

        Re: 'twas ever thus

        Will tell this story against my young-teenage self (with no mentor, and no "how to" resources easily available).

        Trying to build my first two-transistor electronic circuit on Veroboard (lines of copper parallel to one edge of board, with 0.1"-spaced holes drilled in as a grid, diameter narrow enough to ensure continuity), I did not realise that I had to cut the tracks between where I had used them for different nodes in the circuit.

      2. DJV Silver badge

        Re: "The icing on the cake was that the colleague in question worked for our IT department"

        I'm surprised you didn't add "but not for much longer" to that sentence!

      3. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: 'twas ever thus

        If your colleague can program SQL/Pearl/CSS/C*/etc in his sleep the is a specialist on his area of IT.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: 'twas ever thus

          I worry when it looks as if that stuff has been programmed in someone's sleep. Especially if it's in /etc

      4. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: 'twas ever thus

        With many PSUs a dead short on any output will stop the PSU even starting up (as the circuitry's driven from an auxiliary output winding) so a short will prevent it doing anything but periodically making a tic--squeal----tic---squeal

      5. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: 'twas ever thus

        TBF most companies use Dells, HP, Lenovo etc & they do screw to the metal case, just the mounts & screw holes are steel pressed with the mounting points raised up to the heights of standoffs.

        The guy may have just been ignorant of the standoffs used in a home built PC (What are these plastic things for?).

    3. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: 'twas ever thus

      Somebody who sadly died a few years ago had bought a house. The house had a garage door which used a remote control to open and close it. It was an RF not IR job and the the remote was a really flimsy designed plastic case. So my mate had decided to get a case for it and had seen a metal box that it would fit in. He drilled a couple of holes in top and put some wood pegs through (‘glued’ in with silicon sealant) to press the buttons. He was baffled when it didn’t work

      I was asked for advice and queried if he now had a Faraday cage. He replied that he wasn’t a pervert thank you. Could we stick to the garage door opener please? I told him to Google faraday cage and that it wasn’t rude. He eventually did and realised his mistake, so cut a hole at the front. I can’t remember exactly what he thought a faraday cage was but it was, according to him disgusting.

      1. NITS

        Re: 'twas ever thus

        I've been called to several branches of $chain_restaurant where the reported issue was "loss of supervision of door contact N". Turns out that they'd had someone update their burglar alarm system and, rather than use the existing wires in the walls, all the new devices are wireless. New door contact and magnet, short length of cable to a wireless transmitter, hidden inside a *metal junction box with a metal cover*. The RF gets in and out much more easily once I substitute plastic J-box covers.

        I later learned that this "professional" installer had perpetrated the same mistake at 29 locations, and was pissed about having to go back to remediate them.

        1. Martin-73 Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: 'twas ever thus

          Have had similar with some wireless light switches available in the UK. They fit into a 'grid' system, which is pretty much the same idea as USA switches where each device is independent, so you can mix and match. The problem is they snap into a grid yoke, which is pretty solid metal. Combine that with a metal backbox that's actually grounded (because you also have normal 240v stuff in the same box) and the advertised range of 150m can drop to 5m, provided the fleshy thing pressing the switch doesn't get in the way. Same thing in a plastic dry lining box (USA: old work box), is fine. Guessing not properly tested :\

          Icon: Because I needed one after the facepalm when i figured it out

        2. PM from Hell
          Facepalm

          Re: 'twas ever thus

          I moved into a new build house on a cold, wet day and turned the heating on, I did feel very warm after a while but put it down to the fact I was working hard, When we found a box with a thermometer in it turned up the temperature in the lounge was 26 degrees c and it went up to 30 before i gave up trying to get the thermostat to respond and turned off the boiler.

          That was the situation for the next 48 hours while waited for the central heating engineer to return, turn on boiler, let the house get warm, turn off boiler.

          When he arrived he checked everything declared it normal and wanted to walk away. On pressing him he finally went out to his van and came back with a new thermostat which he was just going to swap with the initially installed one. He was adamant that it must be a thermostat fault as he'd 'fitted hundreds of these systems' it tuned out the supplier had cage the wiring on the latest range it was there in the instructions but he never read them. The engineer was somewhat distressed as he';d fitted another 20 houses spread across several sites in the previous few weeks, all of which would now be about to use their heating.

  2. hugo tyson
    FAIL

    Solder? What's that?

    Way way back, we had Acorn Atom kits returned where the hobbyist has used epoxy glue instead of solder to fit all the chips. Not so many, about 30 maybe. How we laughed.... he didn't get a refund.

    1. Potty Professor Bronze badge
      Boffin

      Re: Solder? What's that?

      I had a second hand BBC B computer which would work for about 20 minutes and then fall over. After half an hour to cool off, it worked again, for a shorter time, and so on, and so on, until it point blank refused to work at all. Next day, works OK for 20 mins, then starts to repeat as previously. Had a look inside, and found that all of the memory chips were mounted in chip sockets, not soldered on as per usual. Every memory chip had been replaced, but problem persisted. Took it to work and let my friend in the electronics lab test it, he discovered a timing fault on the refresh line that caused a data collision when the timing chip warmed up, but went away when the chip was cooler. Unsoldered the timing chip and checked it, discovered that it was a standard LS chip, and not the specified high speed version. Trip to RS at Corby to buy correct chip, while friend solders yet another chip socket to the MB. Got back from Corby, clipped new (correct) chip into socket, and everything worked. Seems that the computer had been sent back to the manufacturer several times, but they had never noticed the wrong spec chip sitting there in the middle of the memory and causing the data and refresh cycles to collide.

    2. Steve D
      Unhappy

      Re: Solder? What's that?

      So were you the one shipping the kit with 12 volt regulators instead of the correct 5 volt regulators? Surprisingly, my kit survived and worked fine once I had the 5V regulators.

    3. JohnGrantNineTiles

      Re: Solder? What's that?

      I heard a similar story from (I think) South West Technical Products which I remember as being in Peterborough (UK). The customer knew chips don't like to get too hot, so thought soldering would be a bad idea.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Solder? What's that?

      similar story to one that I heard - except this hobbyist had used silver conducting paint instead of solder. Did a real neat job of it as well, it was only by chance when they held the PCB to the light that they realised what he done!

      In this case, they sent out a replacement.

      1. Man inna barrel Bronze badge

        Re: Solder? What's that?

        There are couple of technologies where conductive ink is used instead of copper tracks. I think this is used to make circuits on an alumina substrate. You can solder to it. At work, we had some membrane panels made, that incorporated push buttons and LEDs. The ink has to be cured before it is good enough to act as conductive tracks. With the membrane panels, you could incorporate printing and windows for LCDs, all in one component that you stick to the enclosure. It connects to the main PCB with a flexible tail, which is also printed. This can easily be made waterproof.

  3. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Surely a truth impossible to deny and pretend is fake news ....

    ..... and if not wholly, then at least a bigly part responsible for all manner of present chaos, current madnesses and abiding mayhem

    Common sense consistently and persistently proves itself practically everywhere to be anything but common.

    It is therefore much better considered to be quite rare .... and subsequently extremely valuable and disruptive and therefore some may say further proving the point themselves, gravely to be regarded.

    1. TimMaher Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: “anything but common”

      I am now going to use the phrase “rare sense”. See if it becomes popular, or even “common”.

      1. Hero Protagonist
        Alert

        Re: “anything but common”

        There’s common sense and then there’s uncommon sense, but mostly there’s common nonsense.

  4. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Down in robot world

    I could spend the rest of the afternoon writing about the idiocy seen when making stuff.

    Such as the classic drive shaft support plate made with a 50.8mm hole in it, shame the drive shaft was 25.4mm in diameter...... rattled a bit on assembly

    to

    customer updates part to new spiffy lightweight titainium ..... and misses out a vital fixing hole..... currently the test parts are resting.... on the sea bed somewhere....

    we did tell them "hey the fixing hole is missing" but got e.mailed back "make them to the design"

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: Down in robot world

      ship-to-shore "hey the fixing hole is missing" got radioed back "we're not paying you to think"

  5. aerogems Bronze badge
    Holmes

    Not a coincidence

    There's no coincidence that certain questions have remained staples of the tech support community

    - Is it plugged in?

    - Have you tried turning it off and on again?

    - Is your floor the one with the gas leak?

    Sherlock because... isn't it obvious?

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Not a coincidence

      You forgot

      "You did WHAT???" followed by "WTF did you do THAT for???".

      Always directed at certain users.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not a coincidence

      I had a colleague on the phone to a Scottish customer. He told her to power off the kit, count 5 and turn it back on.

      He suddenly went white as a sheet. In the distance he heard her saying "but he told me to turn it off and on again"... yes, she had turned off the power to the whole building

      Luckily it was a small school house in the remote highlands and it just caused someone's PC a non-fatal reboot

  6. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Had interactions with a national organisation who will remain nameless, responsible for dictating design requirements of instrumentation and equipment in nuclear power stations.

    They had "designed" a high integrity protection system based on PO3000 style relays. (It was the 1970s).

    The complex relays were specified with nylon pushrods.

    Our engineers pointed out that nylon, being slightly hydroscopic, wasn't suitable for these relays as subtle changes in size as the plastic absorbed moisture would be enough for the relays to be unreliable.

    We were told to carry on.

    Lo and behold the relays were unreliable. They had to be remanufactured with PTFE pushrods, at the clients expense.

  7. Diez66

    GAS!

    So my mate bought his new, old, house and within seconds of the removal firm asking for a tea the smell of gas was overwhelming.

    Yup, they had taken the gas cooker/stove and just cut the pipe which was now open ended.

    Laws around gas and safety are old and quite draconian it appears. The gas was turned off, the repairs safely made and the previous owner was tole he was a very naughty boy. That and the cost, the slap on the wrist and a fine. He could have even been jailed apparently.

    Gas, such fun.

    This was many years back now but I understand gas is still, I think rightly, very heavily regulated.

    1. J. Cook Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: GAS!

      Well, filling a house full of gas and turning it into a bomb capable of taking out every house around it and shattering windows for a couple blocks radius is usually frowned upon in polite circles...

      a number of years ago, I had a party at my house. I went back inside from the back yard and smelled propane. In looking around, I found that someone had opened the valve to the spare tank. After closing said valve and getting a fan running to vent the room, I went inside and announced to the rest of the responsible adults (and the naughty naughty kids that had been playing around with the spare tank, as it turned out) that everything was OK, everyone is safe, the house will NOT explode, I caught it in time.

      I then had a short discussion about Why We Do Not Mess With Propane Tanks In An Enclosed Room, and lockout covers were purchased shortly thereafter. I imagine the kids got talked to after I left the room to go and do something else for a while.

    2. Sequin

      Re: GAS!

      A few years ago a bloke in the UK chopped off a gas line in a house and plugged it with a carrot. A few days later the carrot had dried out and shrivelled, letting the gas out and causing an explosion that took out several houses and at least one person.

  8. Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

    Re: Not a coincidence

    You forgot

    "You did WHAT???" followed by "WTF did you do THAT for???".

    Reminds me of the Holmes Corollary to Murphy's Laws:

    Notwithstanding any rule or law of physics or chemistry to the contrary, if it happened, it must be possible.

    (This law resulting from an epiphany on over-hearing one end of a telephone conversation: 'What? But that's impossible!'

  9. TSM

    I did once waste a fair bit of my ISP's tech support time trying to figure out why I couldn't access my email, which had previously been working.

    After about half an hour of rechecking various settings and trying all manner of things, I realised that I still had my work VPN active from when I'd been fixing an issue remotely, hours earlier. (I already knew that my work VPN blocked my ISP's mailserver, though this is fortunately no longer the case.)

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