back to article IT manager's 'think outside the box' edict was, for once, not (only) a revolting cliché

History, it is said, is told by the victors. Which is why The Register each week presents On-Call – tales of readers triumphing when delivering tech support to the clueless, unreasonable or just plain ignorant. This week's offering is a tale of the latter condition, and kicks off with a reader we'll Regomize as "Remus" who …

  1. that one in the corner Silver badge

    Hide and seek at El Reg

    Came looking for a Friday On Call, nothing to be seen.

    But, Lo, here it is, shyly peeking out of Personal Tech.

    Come on out, we're not going to hurt you, everyone is nice here.

    (Leaps onto very short "story", demanding to know if that is all we're getting, I waited a whole week for *this*?)

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Hide and seek at El Reg

      Yes, this one was short and fast, but had oh so much potential... too bad they didn't take more than 3 minutes to work it up. If I find an extra 10 minutes today, I'll rewrite it myself and re-post it.

      Yeah, there's something in the tea at Vulture Central. Can we still use that term? Vulture Central? Now kissing the ring on the hand that feeds IT? WTF!

      I fear 2023 will be a boring year as told by

      1. Charlie van Becelaere

        Re: Hide and seek at El Reg

        We'll know El Reg are well and truly un-vultured when we start seeing Apple execs consenting to interviews - or even answering requests for information.

        What ever happened to all the fun in the world?

    2. Rol

      Re: Hide and seek at El Reg

      "Well, it's accounts who told us not to unpack them"

      "Accounts? What have they got to do with this?"

      "Err, it seems that the future of the company relies on the boxes remaining unopened"

      "What? What utter nonsense. Out of my way"

      Pulling one of the boxes down off of the huge stack, the manager started ripping at the tape and cardboard.

      "My department is struggling with old and useless PC's while stores are rammed to the ceiling with the latest and greatest. I'm unpacking a dozen of these and taking them. You go tell accounts if you like!"

      Some time later the poor clerk returns to the store. The frustrated manager is knee deep in cardboard, and a huge stack of breeze (cinder) blocks stands beside him.

      "Where are all the PC's? What on Earth is going on. Why, instead of a PC I'm finding building materials?"

      "Err, accounts has better explained things to me, it involves a scientific experiment, a cat and a lethal gas"

      "? go on!"

      "Err, it seems the cat left in the unopened box has an equal probability of being alive or dead. Only when you open the box is it's state certain"

      "Sorry, I really am not following one word of what you are saying"

      "Err, I think they called it Schrodinger's Principle of Asset Management"

      "You really are testing my patience"

      "Err, It seems those boxes, while left unopened, had an equal possibility of being the ultra modern super fast PC's the labels on them infer or they could be just junk that our purchaser bought from a company that ceased to exists the moment they got paid. Their value on the balance sheet, now you have opened them, has plummeted to nothing."

      "Oh, err. What can we do about it?"

      "Well. I left accounts with everyone busy updating their CV. Perhaps you should do the same"

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Hide and seek at El Reg

        YA Miniscribe AICM£5. :)

    3. the Jim bloke

      Re: Hide and seek at El Reg

      A very left-pondian on call, users reading it on screen will just have to imagine the canned laugh track letting the audience know which bits are funny...

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Dabooka

        Re: Hide and seek at El Reg

        Awful isn't it?

        Why do they always insist on messing around with a winning formula?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can imagine the instructions....

    "Hey! You! Put those under the workstations" ... whilst indicating the pile of brand new unboxed mats...

    1. Andy the ex-Brit

      Re: I can imagine the instructions....

      Surely "boxed mats" or "un-unboxed mats?" Or is "boxed" used in a similar manner to "shelled" or "pitted"?

  3. Totally not a Cylon

    What was the packaging?

    For full irony or a BOFH moment, were the anti-static mats wrapped with nicely static inducing polythene bags?

    So that the act of placing a box of them under a device would actually generate the static charge they were hoping to alleviate.....

    ***** Bring Back the Moderatrix! *****

    1. Zenubi

      Re: What was the packaging?

      Yes - Sarah !

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What was the packaging?

      Ah yes, the dangers of putting static RAM into anti-static bags..... Need to wrap the SIMM/DIMMs with tinfoil before putting into the computer and switching on the power..

      Not me - recalling a very early BOFH!

  4. simonlb Silver badge

    "make static electricity a menace"

    Many, many years ago, at a previous employer and long before I'd had my ESD training, I had someone in another company office ship me a PC base unit. It arrived swathed in around 25 feet of bubble wrap which the person sending said was anti-static bubble wrap. I duly unwrapped the PC and when I went to pick it up a spark over 4 inches long shot out from the base unit to one of my fingers and there was an almighty CRACK! To say it hurt is an understatement.

    Needless to say, when I plugged the base unit in it was completely dead, so I logged a call and an engineer came and swapped out the motherboard and RAM.

    When I called the person who shipped me the base unit and told them they said, "But I used the pink anti-static bubble wrap." I replied, "No, this was clear." They just murmured, "Oh, shit."

    1. Little Mouse

      Re: "make static electricity a menace"

      If it was pink AND clear, you'd both be right.

      (My chemistry teacher used to go to great lengths to drum into us that Colourless and Clear are not the same thing)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "make static electricity a menace"

        A very fancy european space agency lab in Germany had a lot of problems with ESD damage to parts.

        They couldn't understand this because they were being super-stereotypical and had special ESD benches and special floors.

        They were also scrupulously clean with cleaners scrubbing all these anti-static coatings regularly ....

      2. Norman Nescio Silver badge

        Re: "make static electricity a menace"

        (My chemistry teacher used to go to great lengths to drum into us that Colourless and Clear are not the same thing)

        Have an upvote. So did mine.

      3. rototype

        Re: "make static electricity a menace"

        Sounds like you had the same Chemistry teacher I did

    2. 9Rune5

      Re: "make static electricity a menace"

      I always considered a PC metal case to be something akin to a Faraday cage (and instrumental in reducing emissions).

      Unless that spark hit a crucial pin on a serial port or similar... How did the computer die?

  5. Fabrizio

    Cardboard was the solution

    Cardboard is an insulator, so the junior was just ensuring the cardboard was used first before it desintegrated and the antistatic mats would only be unpacked and used in Phase II of the project just like my aunt who never removed the protective film from her TV and asked me how she should glue it back on because "it kept coming loose"

    First to her horror while I ripped it off!

    Second only to her smugness after I removed it and explained that it should have been removed years ago and her exclaiming "So basically, I have a brand spanking new TV now???"

    I just said "yes" and made her day!

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Cardboard was the solution

      A few years ago I heard about a spate of TVs being returned to dealers, with complaints about poor audio volume and quality. Turned out that there was a thin strip of clear plastic along the bottom which covered the speakers and many people had not noticed it when unwrapping their new TV.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Cardboard was the solution

        I've had this microwave for about 3 years. It was gifted to me by a co-worker.

        The keypad was getting really grubby, so I was wiping it, and a corner peeled away.

        It still had the clear plastic overlay. After at least 4 years.

        Peeling that off was just an amazing experience.

        1. Not Yb Bronze badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Cardboard was the solution

          This is the reason I generally leave the clear plastic overlay on until it gets grubby. Plastic stays scratch free and beautiful for much longer.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Cardboard was the solution

            Peeling plastic off bare LCD's and watching the segments go, never gets old.

        2. Flightmode

          Re: Cardboard was the solution

          A couple of months ago, my dad had problems with the touch screen on his phone starting to become less responsive. He had a tiny chip in one corner of the screen protector so took it to a shop to get a new one, and for them to fit it for him. The guy doing it discovered that the outer plastic protective film was still on the old protector, which was causing the issues. They had a laugh together about old people not being very technical and that some things are best left to professionals as the guy put the new protector on, my dad paid and left with a much better-functioning phone.

          Now, my dad is definitely ahead of the curve when it comes to computers and gadgets, but he also knows when to play it down. As he told me on the phone that evening when describing the situation, "I couldn't bear telling him that it was actually he that put the old one on two years ago."

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Cardboard was the solution

      I've had to deal with more than one printer returned as 'not working', because the staff hadn't removed the bright orange tabs from the toner cartridge.

      They had still managed to cram the cartridge into the printer regardless though.

    3. Barry Rueger

      Re: Cardboard was the solution

      Brand new Dell laptop. Yesterday. Spotting all the little strips of plastic took ages.

  6. pavel.petrman

    Cardboard box?

    Cardboard box? Luxury!

    (Sorry. I couldn't resist. I've never wanted to be a lion tamer. I've always wanted to be a systems analyst.)

  7. PM from Hell

    protective film? That was a privacy screen

    Back in the early days of PC's we bought a range of very expensive machines for developers, one of the 'benefits' was that each screen came with a privacy screen attached to it, the management thought this was a good idea as the team worked on police systems. In reality they made the screen slightly blurry much worse than our mainframe terminals and also almost completely prevented co working when looking into a problem as both programmers had to somehow get their heads directly in line with the 14 inch screen.

    When we deployed some to user offices one used did attempt to remove the 'protective screen' making the device unusable as the CRTY was covered in lumps of resin and torn plastic.

    A final 'benefit' was that if you touched the screen with the end of your pen to show someone which line to look at the ink was instantly absorbed into the plastic, so we had a number of blurry rainbow colored devices nobody wanted to use. Our next batch of PC's were Compaq's dearer, but bigger screens you could read and share

    1. Little Mouse

      Re: protective film? That was a privacy screen

      I've trained my co-workers to never -ever- touch my screen. With anything.

      They might not have a problem with their own screens looking like they've been smeared with vaseline & lard, but that's because they're animals.

      1. Dante Alighieri

        Re: protective film? That was a privacy screen

        1000% this!

        A 45 cm plastic ruler as a LART for any digit or object approaching mine. It's become a reflex. They all get fair warning.

        *Sometimes* I apologise for being more enthusiastic than I meant to be at the application.

        It's not like I'm looking at diagnostic images... wait. I am.

        How my co-workers manage to work with their smeared screens is beyond me.

        Icon 'cos it is discipline!

      2. gryphon

        Re: protective film? That was a privacy screen

        I've been given a touch screen laptop for a particular piece of work.

        Ugh. Like you I abhor anyone touching my screen ever. I've ever so politely 'bumped' people when they were going to do so many times to stop them since simply slapping their hand away might be misinterpreted. :-)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: protective film? That was a privacy screen

          I *used* to have a touch screen at home. Still do, but disconnected the USB cable,

          If I was looking at something on the screen, my missus would point to something, touch it and it will go weird.

          One time, a small flying insect was walking across the screen, and selecting all sorts of things!

        2. rototype

          Re: protective film? That was a privacy screen

          I have a touch screen 'flip' laptop I bought a few years ago - I fitted it with a scren protector that can be easily cleaned if I get finger marks on it. I've also got a big (24") touch screen on my main computer that gets cleaned regularly, whether it needs it or not - very useful for enlarging those product images where they don't want you to see the details.

      3. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: protective film? That was a privacy screen

        They might not have a problem with their own screens looking like they've been smeared with vaseline & lard

        What, no sneeze patterns?

      4. ColinPa

        Don't touch the ... too late

        I've visited customers as a support person, and we were not allowed even to touch the keyboard or screen

        Someone was working on a problem, and innocently pressed the "next screen" key - and was caught on camera. This was in China, and so there was a lot of grovelling by our senior management to the bank

        You got used to keeping your hands in your pockets and saying ...move the cursor down 2 ... no 1 more .. that field....

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: protective film? That was a privacy screen

        I worked with a graphic designer who took matters of screen touching into his own hands. Every time someone touched his screen to show him some change that needed doing he'd smack the offending digit with a wooden ruler really hard. Even the boss learned quickly that you never touch the designer's screen.

  8. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

    Hm, not sure how that static electricity was going to get inside the Faraday cage? Anyway, you should possibly hire better help if the colleagues are not capable of figuring out that equipment should be unboxed.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Why? All a Faraday cage does is keep the inside and outside isolated and provide a path to earth if in contact with the conductors in or forming the walls, stick a Van de Graaff generator in a Faraday cage and it'll still work.

      A Faraday cage keeps charge in just as well as it keeps charge out.

  9. F. Frederick Skitty Silver badge

    All I can think is that if the company were so cheap as to leave machines on the floor, then the poor techie assumed the cardboard boxes were all that would be provided for static protection.

    1. gotes

      Why is it "cheap" to place machines on the floor? It's not ideal, what with the dust and exposure to impacts from feet and chair legs, but it was fairly common practice for tower cases in the 90s.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Mast1

    Revolting cliche bingo

    Does one presume that the office was locked at night ?

    Otherwise some bright spark could have "picked them up and run with them"

  11. AlanSh

    On the floor?

    Who leaves PCs on the floor? Buy a desk.

    1. Dante Alighieri

      Re: On the floor?

      £3K workstations on the floor under desks all around my department to avoid cluttering the acres of free bench top space.

      Mostly on vinyl, a few on carpet.

    2. nintendoeats Silver badge

      Re: On the floor?

      Time was, there was a class of workstation called a "deskside".

      Even an Indigo2 is big and heavy, works much better next to a desk than on it.

      1. ChrisC Silver badge

        Re: On the floor?

        Indeed, back in the day a "tower" case really would be a towering behemoth quite unlike the desktop version, often getting on for the same height as the desk and therefore definitely more suited to being sat under/next to it, than atop it towering over everything it surveys like the Sentinel...

        1. Totally not a Cylon

          Re: On the floor?

          yep. I've still got a dual psu full tower case which when stood next to the desk is still tall enough to be higher than then desk....

          Ideal for putting the monitor (CRT of course) on top to provide more desk space....

        2. that one in the corner Silver badge

          Re: On the floor?

          My current PC is in a case that is 50cm tall - which is shorter than the one I had in the 90s. This wasn't the largest case available, but it makes a nice addition to the desk - the laptop cradle fits nicely on top, keeps that out of the way.

          Last job, had three 50cm tall towers arrayed under a desk.

          Do people *really* keep their tower PCs sitting on desk tops? Hope they remember to keep the castors locked!

        3. DJO Silver badge

          Re: On the floor?

          Tower with enough bays for a 5 disc RAID and a spare cold swap in another bay. Saves mucking about with a NAS or external RAID box and sits by my desk a treat.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: On the floor?

            Well, that's why I have my tower by the desk too. Nothing so elaborate as RAID for home/family/small amount of wfh.

            It came with a fast small 250Gb boot and software SSD, a larger, 500Gb standard SSD for frequently used Data and a 2Tb HDD for bigger, less often used data. To which I added some salvaged hdds for internal backup and a network shared area. And an external USB HDD pair which I swap from time to time so that one is always connected and the other is away from the computer.

      2. rototype

        Re: On the floor?

        One of the techs in one of our offices reduced dead HDDs in his office to almost zero overnight by turning the desktop/tower PCs (that were sitting on the floor in tower configuration) over so the HDD was at the bottom instead of the top when they invariably got knocked over (this seemed to be happening several times a week and was becoming a pain in the a**e).

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just Packaging

    Apologies - no IT connection, but it isn't totally irrelevant:

    I'm reminded of the time when, on a student placement, I needed some Rockwool to test as a replacement for asbestos (this was in 1973, at a company making friction materials, e.g. brake pads). A large cardboard box arrived and the lab tech was tasked by the manager with unpacking it for use. I arrived at the lab later, to find the Rockwool strewn everywhere and a frustrated tech desperately trying to find what had been so carefully packed (and worried he might have damaged whatever it was, being so fragile). I calmed him down to explain it was the "packaging" that we wanted, so could he, please, help me gather it up and place it in a work bin, being careful to separate out any contaminants. Luckily, the minimum order quantity was more than I needed for my initial experiments.

    TL:DR My experiments were a partial success - I found it could be used but, in order to be useful, the entire vehicle braking system (for which it would have been destined) would need replacing.

    1. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

      Re: Just Packaging

      That reminds me of a humerous example in one of Andrew Tannenbaum's books -- Computer Networks, I'm fairly sure.

      He's talking about the need for signaling elements in a communications protocol to be "out of band", i.e. not possible to be confused with the payload.


      Picture, he says, a supermarket checkout. They provide dividers that you use to mark off your load from the surrounding ones on the conveyor belt.

      All well and good -- until you want to buy one of those dividers...

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Just Packaging

        All well and good -- until you want to buy one of those dividers.

        That's when you need an "escape" divider to place before the one you want to buy.

        1. Ptol

          Re: Just Packaging

          I sooooo want to buy an escape divider. Just for giggles

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Just Packaging

            ... how would you? It won't scan as a purchasable item as its only purpose is to indicate that the next one is to be scanned. It's turtles all the way down, innit?

            Or you could put two on the conveyor, making the second one scan - and then have to put the first one back on the shelf.

            There's a bucket of used backslashes around here somewhere...

            1. David Nash

              Re: Just Packaging

              Exactly, you'd have to use two and only take one with you.

  13. Spanners Silver badge

    Static wouldn't have been the only problem

    A computer sitting on any floor but particularly a carpeted one will function as a nice little immobile hoover.

    It will suck crud out of the carpet and keep it safe inside.

    This may not be so good for the computer.

    You can either buy, probably overpriced, little stands for them or someone can knock a couple of bits of wood together. Keeping them only 5 to 10CM above the carpet will greatly cut down on the dirt intake but could also help with the static too,

    1. gryphon

      Re: Static wouldn't have been the only problem

      Try PC's in the weighbridge of a coal distribution yard.

      Surprisingly they were still working when completely full of coal dust.

      Took one outside, opened case and tipped the dust out, what a mess, thankfully the wind was blowing away from me at the time.

      No wonder the operators were complaining the PSU fan was running at full pelt all the time.

      Those were being updated manually by operator reading the scale and typing the value in but eventually we ripped those out and put new PC's in connected directly to the weighbridge to read the weight directly.

      Avery charged £1000 a go for the license for the API / driver for that which was a 2Kb file if I remember correctly, and that was when £1000 was a lot of money.

      Happy days.

      1. 43300 Silver badge

        Re: Static wouldn't have been the only problem

        We have some computers in a building used for seaside activities. Unsurprisingly, when taken apart they are normally full of sand!

        That's with them on the desks too - I have a ban on putting any computers on the floor at any site having seen the results all too many times.

        1. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: Static wouldn't have been the only problem

          In ancient history, someone sold lots of Apple II computers to Saudi Arabia. To run domewhrre in the middle of the desert. Why? Because they didn’t have fans that sucked in sands.

        2. wyatt

          Re: Static wouldn't have been the only problem

          When the Gulf 2 kicked off the military requested a quote for quality fans and filters to stop sand getting into the boxes which contained servers- typically the box would run with the lid off.

          Quote was of course refused as it was a lot of money. Not as much however as the cost of cleaning all the kit when it returned full of sand.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Static wouldn't have been the only problem

          The worst computers I've ever seen werre in the NHS (sorry, but there's a good reason) - the ones at the nurses station on the wards were generally the worst - mostly because they had to be on 24/7 and they were always on vinyl floors so they just sucked in the dust. The second worst was a doctors PC who had a habit of knocking ober tea/cofee/chocolate/whatever (usually quite heavily sugared) and never bothered trying to mop it up from under the PC. Result - desk unit well & truely glued to the desk. Had to practically use a crowbar to get it off when it needed replacing. (on the plus side there's no way anyone would pinch it).

          Anon to protect the guilty.

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Static wouldn't have been the only problem

        Took one outside, opened case and tipped the dust out, what a mess, thankfully the wind was blowing away from me at the time.

        This is a important lesson for everyone in IT, even machines kept in a relatively clean offices get full of manky dust and fluff, and it's always easier to take them outside to open them for the first time.

        1. Charlie van Becelaere

          Re: Static wouldn't have been the only problem

          "This is a important lesson for everyone in IT, even machines kept in a relatively clean offices get full of manky dust and fluff, and it's always easier to take them outside to open them for the first time."

          Imagine the interior of a machine in an animal clinic. I don't have to imagine it, as my wife works in one and I'm the "volunteer" PC expert. She opens and cleans out vast amounts of dust, dander, fur, and hair on a very regular basis now.

    2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Re: Static wouldn't have been the only problem

      I always recommend 20 cm. Especially when pets are around. 15 cm would be enough, but the way people measure "15 cm", especially males, 20 cm is the better suggestion.

      1. albegadeep

        Re: Static wouldn't have been the only problem

        Leftpondian translation: Replace all references to 15 cm with 6 inches, and 20 cm with 9 inches.

        "Especially males", indeed!

        1. David Nash

          Re: Static wouldn't have been the only problem

          Very subtle!

    3. nintendoeats Silver badge

      Re: Static wouldn't have been the only problem

      Funny, my plans for this weekend just happen to include making such a PC stand. I used to have one, but I salvaged the wood to augment a TV stand when I was broke.

    4. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Static wouldn't have been the only problem

      My computer desk at home is fairly typical of the type. Next to the chair there is a compartment, with a base that my computer sits on, with just enough room above case for a little drawer that sits below the desktop.

      And when I was still working in an office some of our workstations were of that sort ( not all and without the useful drawer). Others were of the sat on the top of the desk variety. Which is fine if there are alternative spaces for when staff need to spread work out, but a total royal pain in the arse if there isn't. Or indeed if you need full desk space adjacent to a computer.

      (Use case- comparing an assessment or a set of documents side-by-side and then documenting/describing details or differences).

    5. Mjölnir

      Re: Static wouldn't have been the only problem

      As the author of this OnCall, I want to point out these were QA machines. Therefore Crud testing was acceptable, as many of our business customers kept their PCs on the floor for the dust, dirt and occasional sticky note to be sucked into the fan.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surprising end

    It would normally be that they were ordered (eventually, after much faffing about with 'finance' because there was no work order or budget to book it against) but were then left locked in a cupboard in the manager's office because... too lazy to dole them out... deemed a 'trip hazard'... it's been so long the no one remembers why they were ordered... office due to be closed/relocated... office HAS been closed/relocated, so no longer needed

  15. dodgyoriginals

    Protective Film....

    Noticed a friend's clock radio on a kitchen cupboard which, upon repeat visits, appeared to have a consistently static display. The manufacturers had placed a protective film which bore a simplified and slightly 'greyed-out' version of the face display. After more than a year they can now read the actual date and time - easily......

  16. mikejames


    Years ago at another company we hade a large collection of CMOS and TTL ICs that needed sorting and labelling. We got some shiny new racks of drawers and conductive foam and an engineer from the shop floor to undertake the task. He duly got to work and after a couple of days he'd completed his task. I went to have a look at one of the labels on a drawer... What's a 2285? It turned out that he had sorted all the ICs by date of manufacture...

    1. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

      Re: Sorted...

      In my parts drawers, I sort machine screws by gauge, for obvious reasons.

      But wood screws are sorted by length, because usually I don't care about a wood screw's thickness (within reason); I do care that it be long enough to make a secure joint, but not long enough to poke out the other side.

  17. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge


    assign it to an engineer who can 'Think out of the box'."

    As someone with higher education in actual engineering (mechanical and electronic I feel I have to clarify ) ....

    The term "Engineer" has been really diluted by these types.

    As was bad if enough when "Technician" (root: technical ) was redefined as "incapable button pushing moron " , now Engineer is in the sights





    I was actually in a TUPIE / merger type conversation with new boss for a long time with the term "Engineer" being bandied about before I realised He was talking about desktop support staff.

    1. nintendoeats Silver badge

      Re: Engineer?

      You'll be happy to know that in Canada I cannot legally be referred to as a software engineer.

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: Engineer?

      Dont talk to me about 'engineers

      In our experience , they fall into one of three categories

      1. The 'Sproglet'(aka the fresh grad) Usually given crayons.

      2. The 'Junior' .. has learned enough not to eat the crayons, and given a piece of paper too

      3. The "Engineer" has proven to be able to put crayon to paper and thus given a high end CAD workstation.

      And then this information flows to the production department who question the sanity of a 14mm clearance hole for an 8mm bolt in a part thats 12mm in diameter...........

      And people wonder sometimes why I spend so much time out of the office laying under a robot machining cell(usually reading el-reg on my phone)

      1. Potty Professor

        Re: Engineer?

        Laying is a transitive verb and needs an object, so what are you laying? I presume that you mean that you are lying under the manufacturing cell, as lying is intransitive and does not need an object,

  18. Potemkine! Silver badge


    Recently, a user asked us how he could connect a new keyboard we provided to him, as "there was no wire". After a moment of perplexity, we got it, and told him to first take the keyboard out of its cardboard box. We estimated to 50% the chance of having another call because the USB connector didn't fit in his laptop...

    == Bring us Dabbsy back! ==

  19. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    A few years ago

    A couple of years ago, we had a report that one of our users was getting mild shocks every time he touched one of the mains sockets or light switches in one room. Being slightly worried, we called in our facilities department, who bought in an electrician. The electrician poked, prodded and tested every socket and switch in the room (and this was a significant task, there are over 30 double sockets in there), the electrician concluded there was no electrical fault in the room. The user walked past at the time, and the electrician asked what his jumper was made of. The user in question, for reasons best known to himself, primarily wears polyester, and we concluded that was likely the problem. The user has not reported getting a shock since.

  20. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

    What's the problem?

    Cardboard is a decent enough insulator in its own right.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Static carpets...

    Our new office (as it was back then) suffered initially with static from the carpets which illicited a conversion between myself and another dev over this during a weekly meeting.

    We probably should have stopped after the boss moved on but we were too engrossed in seeing if we could kill kit with the static. This resulted in a seriously loud shout of "will you shut the **** up?!". Which most of said office heard. Fun times.

    (we did get an apology and in fairness we were far too into moaning about the static. Shocking behaviour all round really).

    Anon to protect the guilty.

  22. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    One of my setup guides does actually start:


    1. Unbox

    1. Montreal Sean

      "One of my setup guides does actually start:


      1. Unbox"

      All the documentation we create for installations go like so:

      1. Verify all boxes are received and in good condition. Same number of boxes as on packing slip.

      2. Contact installations support if missing/damaged boxes.

      3. Unpack boxes and verify equipment received matches what is on the packing slip.

      4. Contact installations support if missing/damaged equipment.


      It's amazing how many subcontractors in the IT world need this kind of hand holding.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Many years ago, my sister regaled the family with the tale of her boyfriend of the time trying to cook a frozen pizza - in the box.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      <shrug> Open microwave, insert pizza box, set timer, wait impatiently...?

      1. David Nash

        At one time (maybe they still exist) there was a type of microwave pizza that came with a shiny silver cardboard base that you were supposed to keep it on when putting it in the microwave. I believe it was supposed to enable the base to crisp but of course didn't work properly.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In college, I discovered that a frozen pizza was already cooked and simply needed heating, and happened to be a hair smaller than the inside of the microwave. 3 minutes to hot (though not crispy) pizza. Impatience for the win!

      1. David Nash

        Maybe a different type of pizza but the ones we get are not, and need proper cooking.

  24. Giles C Silver badge

    Commodore amiga

    The original Amiga 500 came with a program to teach you how to use the machine. When you ran the program it went through the process of unboxing the machine and connecting the machine to the power and tv.

    Which was interesting as you had to have the machine working to read the instructions…..

  25. Fursty Ferret

    Ultimately pointless either way since carpet is an insulator, and the computer has a very effective metal chassis and ground connection which will deal with static build-up.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      I don't think I've ever come across carpet static bothering a PC- clothing, yes.

      But carpet dust- yeah that isn't good.

    2. El blissett

      ^^^ Commentards, tell me you've never worked with cheap nasty nylon carpets without saying it....

    3. Remy Redert

      This is when you discover that grounded outlets were not specified in the design, so all the outlets are without ground.

  26. This post has been deleted by its author

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