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Welcome once more to On-Call, The Register's weekly column in which we retell readers' stories of being asked to fix contraptions that display confounding, confusing, or cockeyed behavior. This week, meet a reader we'll Regomize as "Kevin" who once worked as a remote tech and was sometimes asked to fix problems for a very …

  1. Red Sceptic
    Headmaster

    Since this was good old Blighty and Kevin was dealing with a RAF chap, I’m quite sure that he dived, not dove.

    Why does this particular past tense so irritate me? That and “fit”?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't get me started...

      ...I wince at 'burlarized'.

      A buglar burgles, and the property is burgled.

      Waiting for US Olympic coverage of when athletes 'hurdlarize' the jumps...

      And no, it does not follow the same language route / rules as vandalize

      / Off to fetch coffee

      1. KarMann Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Don't get me started...

        No, a buglar plays music on a horn. And nobody 'burlarizes' anything. Q.E.D.

        1. lybad

          Re: Don't get me started...

          No - a bugler plays music with a bugle.

          A horn can be a post horn type thing, or something like a tenor horn, which looks like a tuba that shrank (a lot) in the wash.

          1. spold Silver badge

            Re: Don't get me started...

            Are post horn sites where people go after they have been to porn sites?

          2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: Don't get me started...

            You call that music????

          3. Peter Ford

            Re: Don't get me started...

            Or even a saxophone.

            A horn is a musical instrument with some sort of noise generator at one end and a conical bore to the other open end: the conical bore means the tube is gradually getting wider along it's length so if you straighten out the curves it would look like a cone (although chopped off at the top, I suppose)

            So horns include all of the saxophones (where are single reed generates the noise that then resonates down the horn), and the brass horns like the cornet (lit. little horn), French horn, E-flat horn, euphonium, tuba, Sousaphone etc., but *not* the trumpet - that has a cylindrical bore that only flares at the bell.

            As for the cor anglais (English horn), that's not a horn or English...

        2. Aladdin Sane
          Coat

          Re: Don't get me started...

          Isn't burlarizing a type of strip tease?

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: Don't get me started...

            If it wasn't before, it is now. Rule 34 and all that.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Don't get me started...

            "Isn't burlarizing a type of strip tease?"

            Now you're just paking the tiss.

      2. Martin Gregorie

        Re: Don't get me started...

        Correction: a BURGLAR steals things, an BUGLER plays a brass musical instrument and BUGLAR is a mis-spelled word.

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

          Re: Don't get me started...

          but what about a BULGAR?

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: Don't get me started...

            but what about a BULGAR?

            Is he called Ian?

            1. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

              Re: Don't get me started...

              Now you're just Bulgarising around

            2. herman Silver badge

              Re: Don't get me started...

              Bulgarian airbags are rather sensitive things though and should not be bulgarized.

          2. Tom 7

            Re: Don't get me started...

            Sorting the wheat from the badly spelt p'raps?

            1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

              Re: Don't get me started...

              Toatally right.

          3. stiine Silver badge

            Re: Don't get me started...

            Wheat for it...

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Don't get me started...

            My hovercraft is full of eels ...

          5. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

            Re: Don't get me started...

            A person from Bulgaria, of course.

      3. Andy A

        Re: Don't get me started...

        I think the word you were attempting to type was BURGLARIZATIONIFIED.

        Left-pondians tend to add extra syllables for no logical reason. Maybe it has been going on for so long that they don't realise that there is a shorter word which means exactly what they wanted to say.

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: Don't get me started...

          Left-pondians tend to add extra syllables for no logical reason.

          That comment will make someone go nuke-cue-lar.

        2. Emir Al Weeq

          Re: Don't get me started...

          We are by no means perfect. I've already heard people say that Charles III will be coronated.

          1. Paul Kinsler

            Re: people say that Charles III will be coronated.

            Well, every new Sun-King needs a proper corona, surely?

            1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
              Angel

              Re: people say that Charles III will be coronated.

              All Kings are son's.

              Or is that not woke enough these days on the whole pronoun thing.

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

                1. Lil Endian Silver badge

                  Re: people say that Charles III will be coronated.

                  Khentkawes I, Sobeknefru & Arsinoe II were each Kings of Upper and Lower Egypt AFAIK - possibly others too.

                  @The Oncoming Scorn: yep - fuck the woke brigade, a waste of our neurons. >:|

          2. herman Silver badge

            Re: Don't get me started...

            Coronized? Coronified? Coronificated?

            1. David Nash Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: Don't get me started...

              Also doesn't "gifted" just mean "given"?

              1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                Re: Don't get me started...

                I believe it means "given, and the writer is easy prey for false elevation". (Though sometimes it's used for "gave" as well, so I suppose it saves some thinking about what conjugation to use.)

        3. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

          Re: Don't get me started...

          A manager told me to hurry up with my dev work, as he needed to productionalize it. I asked him to not say that, as it isn't a word. He ignored my plea. For linguistic sins and more serious reasons I soon transferred to a different role/manager. (After productionalization, of course.)

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Don't get me started...

            Of course it's a word. It follows all the requirements (not that there are many) for it to be an English word, and it's even comprehensible to a large subset of the Anglophone audience. It's just unnecessary and horrible.

        4. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

          Re: Don't get me started...

          ...extra syllables until you ask them to pronounce the name of element number 13, the one with the symbol Al.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Don't get me started...

            I wish I could give you the number of upvotes that deserves (and no, it isn't a negative number).

          2. Lil Endian Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Don't get me started...

            True story time :)

            Years back I was in a Ft Lauderdale pool hall with two friends (we're all English) "shooting some stick" when, as luck would have it, three similarly aged and rather gorgeous ladies turned up. Three of us, three of them - destiny awaits! So we're chatting at the bar, things are going really well - this is gong to get hit out of the park! Until the lovely American lady who's homing in on my mate says, "Your English is terrible!" - complaining about the lack of a 't' being pronounced. "We invented the language!" my mate jokes back. "Yeah, but we perfectionized it!" she said! Even her two friends took a step back!

            1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

              Re: Don't get me started...

              Haha...

              The British say: "Quantum theory". The American say: "Quannum theory". Lack of a "t" :D.

              The Americans say: "You have my word". The British say: "You have my wod". Lack of a "r" :D.

              Result: Both are equally mad about missing pronunciation of syllables. Luckily the Atlantic ocean is between them, else they'd still be at war.

              Watch this, where the German scientist Sabine Hossenfelder gets in overthinking-everything about this.

              1. Lil Endian Silver badge

                Re: Don't get me started...

                Erm, wut? If you ever ask to see my 'wod' we may have a problem!

                I cannot think of a UK phonology that drops the 'r' like that for 'word' - it's the vowel that changes[1]. Perhaps it's an aural thang.

                [1] It can be a soft 'r' - almost like an 'h' - but it's always there.

                1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

                  Re: Don't get me started...

                  You have my woh'd: I wont do that mistake again.

              2. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

                Re: Don't get me started...

                You know, I don't think I've ever heard anyone say "quannum" when saying "quantum." Americans use their Ts. The most common letter to drop that I can think of is G at the end of a word, know what I'm sayin'?

                Now Brits, I occasionally have to deal with them (I would say you, but now that this is an American site) on the job and as often as not I'll speak to one who only speaks with vowels. I remember one that rambled for 5 minutes about something, no idea what he said even after he repeated it. Told him I'd get right on it and dropped the line.

                1. herman Silver badge

                  Re: Don't get me started...

                  In Central and Eastern Europe people tend to speak almost only with consonants, as in Krk, Vrb, Stvrtok or Zmrzlina.

                2. TheMaskedMan Silver badge

                  Re: Don't get me started...

                  I bet you've heard a few say "innernet", though.

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    Re: Don't get me started...

                    I've heard many more Brits say "innit".

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Don't get me started...

                      No comment about:

                      "All Y'all"

                      "Yous"

                3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
                  Trollface

                  Re: Don't get me started...

                  Americans can't do T... they don't have kettles to make the water hot enough

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    Re: Don't get me started...

                    ::sighs::

                    Remember back when schools bothered to teach basic physics?

                  2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

                    Re: Don't get me started...

                    Now, they are just slower.

              3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                Re: Don't get me started...

                Both are equally mad about missing pronunciation of syllables.

                In your examples the speakers are dropping phonemes, but not entire syllables.

                1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

                  Re: Don't get me started...

                  Haha, you are right! Damn you, English!

            2. Potty Professor
              Facepalm

              Re: Don't get me started...

              In 1963, my father was sent to Louisville, KY to help set up a Corneal Grafting Unit at the U of L. As I was under 16 at the time, I was included in the family sent over, and attended DuPont Manual High School. I was interviewed by the school newspaper, The Crimson Record, by a lovely young lady, who, amongst other questions, said "You speak very good English, what language did you speak before you came here?" I replied that as I came from England, perhaps I spoke English? The answer is in the question.

              My fellow students and I also had to suffer the English teacher, Miss Hopkin, who was batty and couldn't speak English for toffee. One of her more memorable foibles was that she insisted that "primer" was pronounced "primmer", because it "made you prim and proper". There was also some misunderstanding about the pronunciation of Mark Twain, but that is too difficult to put into words that would explain it. D'Oh!

        5. JohnTill123

          Re: Don't get me started...

          Agreed. And make up words that are NOT needed. Every time I here someone say "incentivized" instead of "motivated" I wince...

          1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

            Re: Don't get me started...

            Using "orientate" instead of "orient", and their closely-related fellows, "orientated" instead of the correct word, "oriented".

            1. Mike_R
              Linux

              Re: Don't get me started...

              or "remediate" when you could say "remedy", or (horrors) "fixed"

            2. Sherrie Ludwig

              Re: Don't get me started...

              Can we all agree to use, not utiliz(s)e?

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Don't get me started...

                Ah yes, "utiliz(s)e", another place where the Yanks use proper English, and the British use the French variation.

                1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

                  Re: Don't get me started...

                  Well, since "utilize", the very American spelling comes from the French verb utiliser, I might suggest that it is our trans-pondian cousins who are using the "French variation"; the only people I hear using this word here in the UK are people spouting bullshit business jargon, which itself very much originates from the US. It's not used in common speech, and certainly not utilised...

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    Re: Don't get me started...

                    "and certainly not utilised"

                    My Big Dic[0] mostly prefers the "z" splelings, damn your ise! What are you, French?

                    Ah, well. It's all Greek to most people. As long as the meaning is obvious, does it really matter in a forum like this one?

                    [0] OED, second dead tree edition.

            3. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

              Re: Don't get me started...

              "Orientation" is a part of a type of hiking where you get dumped somewhere and have to follow a map (orienteering), isn't it?

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Don't get me started...

                Do kids today even know what a map is? They certainly don't seem to know how to walk, much less hike ...

                1. I don't know, stop asking me.

                  Re: Don't get me started...

                  Of course.

                  A map is a Mobile APp, hence the word Map!

          2. Lil Endian Silver badge

            Re: Don't get me started...

            I know that roundabouts are not overly common in the good ol' USofA, but I heard on a documentary years back (I think it was a State Trooper) referring to "circulatories". That took me a while to translate.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Don't get me started...

              I give you Armley Gyratory, Leeds, W. Yorkshire.

              1. Potty Professor

                Re: Don't get me started...

                ...and the Rugby Gyratory System in Warwickshire.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Don't get me started...

            "incentivized" - what incentive is being offered? Extra pay, perhaps? Certainly that would help get me "motivated".

            1. Lil Endian Silver badge

              Re: Don't get me started...

              Ahem, "motivated" motivatized...

              1. Not Yb Bronze badge

                Re: Don't get me started...

                Locomotatized

                1. Lil Endian Silver badge
                  Pint

                  Re: Don't get me started...

                  That bifocalized my tired eyes!

                2. Glenn Amspaugh

                  Re: Don't get me started...

                  What's a seed drill got to do with things?

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't get me started...

          As opposed to the Englishe, who add unnecessarie letters into their wordes to make it more colourful?

          Seriously, though, please stop with the oh-so-superior language bashing. The "same" language is spoken and written slightly different in different places, even in the same country.

          1. jake Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Don't get me started...

            "As opposed to the Englishe, who add unnecessarie letters into their wordes to make it more colourful?"

            To be fair, that's just the English trying to be more like their French overlords. Or, in some cases, a pseudo-archaic mock-antique variant from Victorian times, trying to separate ignorant tourists searching for antiques from their money.

            "Seriously, though, please stop with the oh-so-superior language bashing. The "same" language is spoken and written slightly different in different places, even in the same country."

            This is one of those tempest-in-a-teacups that the Brits invent to denigrate the Yanks. It would seem that this kind of thing is all they have left. Just smile sadly, nod, and walk away.

            Or offer 'em a pint. The poor blighters could use one, and they are hardly the enemy.

            1. Lil Endian Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Don't get me started...

              French? French!?

              Don't give me that "Normans were French" crapolla either - they were Vikings!

              Other than that possibility, you're probably spot on! I'll have that pint though... Cheers!

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Don't get me started...

                "Don't give me that "Normans were French" crapolla either - they were Vikings!"

                Norman-French only contained about 150 words of Norse origin. The rest was French (plus a few loan-words from elsewhere), although with a bit of a Northern accent.

                1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

                  Re: Don't get me started...

                  Linguistically speaking, the bits of English that came from French did so in the 11th century; quite a while before the Americas were even discovered, let alone linguistically separated from England (and also quite a while before England even existed in its current form).

                  Whilst there was a trend for pretentious middle-class Victorians to pinch words from French to try to make themselves sound more educated than the hoi-polloi, most of the French loan words came into the language long before there was such a thing as American or British English. It's also worth remembering that, at the time of its inception, the nascent US was a lot more closely allied with France, and would have had a lot more French speakers, than the UK.

                  A lot of the linguistic differences arise from the ethnic make-up of the population. For example, US English is much more likely to use Italian names for vegetables than UK English, so what we call a courgette, you call a zucchini, what we call coriander, you call cilantro, and so on. Yet, oddly, the US pronunciation of the word "herb" pretentiously drops the "h" as if it were a French word (yet doesn't correctly stick the extra "e" on the end).

                  I guess what I am saying is that languages diverge for a number of reasons, and a big one of those reasons is people in the past being pretentious wankers, and sticking in extra letters, taking loan words to sound more educated, and developing an unhealthy obsession with the letter "z". Most of the time, sensible people refrain from piss-taking, but sometimes it is necessary, when, for example, Americans try to make out that they single-handedly won WW2 (I think Russia might have something to say about that) and so on...

                  I'll just add a quick anecdote to illustrate why some people find it necessary to take the piss.

                  When my mother was a child (this would have been in the late '50s / early '60s), her father worked as a paediatrician and briefly did so in the US for a couple of years. This meant that she had some schooling there as they moved around. At one school, another girl came up to her and said the immortal words, "So you're from England? Gee you sure learned our language fast".

                  1. David Nash Silver badge

                    Re: Don't get me started...

                    "Yet, oddly, the US pronunciation of the word "herb" pretentiously drops the "h" as if it were a French word (yet doesn't correctly stick the extra "e" on the end)."

                    Yes what's that all about? given that in American English normally no attempt is made to speak with anything like the original pronounciation (see also "Niche", various central- and eastern-European names containing W, and so on.)

                  2. jake Silver badge

                    Re: Don't get me started...

                    "to try to make themselves sound more educated than the hoi-polloi"

                    That should be "than hoi polloi". The "the" is implied in the Greek, and thus redundant in English.

                    "would have had a lot more French speakers, than the UK."

                    Yes, but we saw them for what they were (Canadian), so we stuck to proper English. Thankfully ... You can see what would have happened had we not by talking to a Cajun.

                    "Americans try to make out that they single-handedly won WW2"

                    Don't be daft. Only idiots think that. On either side of the pond.

                    "At one school, another girl came up to her and said ::snip::"

                    The words of a child still in school do not reflect those of the population as a whole. Except, perhaps, in England.

                  3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                    Re: Don't get me started...

                    more educated than the hoi-polloi

                    "hoi" means "the"; it's the masculine nominative plural declension of the definite article (ὁι). And there's no reason to hyphenate the phrase.

            2. David Nash Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Don't get me started...

              "Or offer 'em a pint. The poor blighters could use one, and they are hardly the enemy."

              Thanks.. But make sure it's a proper British pint, not one of your inferior small U.S. versions .....

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Don't get me started...

                "But make sure it's a proper British pint, not one of your inferior small U.S. versions ....."

                You mean like this?

                Yes, the standard American unit of measure called "the pint" contains 16oz, However, almost all bars that serve pints of beer serve it in standard, British made (or reasonable facsimiles thereof), 20oz pint glasses. At least the bars that I've been in over the last several decades. I have also noticed in the last ten or so years that many bars are keeping 22oz glasses on hand to decant the 22oz bottles which many/most micro/craft breweries ship at least some of their brews in.

                This might be a West Coast thing. I haven't been in a bar East of the Rockies in decades.

                Note that Fred's, AKA "Building F", is the local dive where much of SillyConValley was invented.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't get me started...

        so then you will be ....coffee-arlized?

      5. Charlie van Becelaere

        Re: Don't get me started...

        Trevor H. - is that you? Haven't seen you since University, but I'd know that wince at forty paces!

      6. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Don't get me started...

        I looked this up once. What I found is that "burglar" is a very old word, but at one time, I think close to the end of the 19th century, the U.K. started saying "burgle" and the U.S. said "burglarize" for what a burglar does. Before that, I suppose it was just called stealing.

    2. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge
      Headmaster

      It's on a par with "hanged" and "hung"

      The difference between "the plaintiff was taken away and hanged," and "the side of beef was taken away and hung".

      Yes, I know it's an archaic term, and we don't have hangings any more (for jolly good reasons, despite what the likes of 30p Lee might think), but it really grates on me when you get historians and criminologists on TV programmes talking about people being "hung". Once you start noticing it, it stands out more and more...

      Yes, I know language, and its use changes, but since we don't have hangings any more, perhaps we don't need to change the word we use to refer to the process...

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: It's on a par with "hanged" and "hung"

        The plaintiff was hanged? That's rough justice.

        1. herman Silver badge

          Re: It's on a par with "hanged" and "hung"

          The plaintiff must have been a messenger.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: It's on a par with "hanged" and "hung"

            Don't be silly. You shoot them, not "hanged" them!

    3. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

      past tenses

      Modern English seems to have shifted away from "proper" past tenses. People these days write "dived" instead of "dove", "speeded up" instead of "sped up", "lighted" instead of "lit", etc. I'm sadly expecting to soon see "blowed" instead of "blew".

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: past tenses

        It is a simplified English. Now that you pointed it out I must admit: I do the same, and it never occurred to me to use the correct forms for all irregular verbs for quite some time... But I just discovered that the British Council offers help!

        1. DanceMan
          FAIL

          Not just a Brit complaint

          I wince when I hear on radio an interviewee use "like" eight times in a sentence or say "eckcetera". I suppose it's a price of the universality of English as a world language. That and indifferent education.

          1. Lil Endian Silver badge

            Re: Not just a Brit complaint

            Sometimes it's not down to edumaction, it's just a thing...

            My beloved auntie cannot say the word "ale". It's always amusing at a nice restaurant if she orders "steak and owl pie". (She'll bloody kill me if she ever finds out I've written this - anonymity will not save me!)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Not just a Brit complaint

              I already know.

              — Auntie

          2. Not Yb Bronze badge

            Re: Not just a Brit complaint

            Friend of mine was once told "I like your accent", when it was actually a speech impediment she'd worked on for some time before giving up. I'm happy that people can be newsreaders, and not have to use the official old BBC RP all the time these days.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: past tenses

        I say old chap, I'll be blowed if I'm going allow that bit of common sense pass by without it being argumenationismized

      3. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: past tenses

        Well I'll be....

    4. JulieM Silver badge

      Past Tenses

      He tore off his clothes, brothe in deeply and dove into the icy water. On the riverbank, above and behind him, his mobile phone bept and the screen glew brightly.

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: Past Tenses

        You can do the same in German - though you have to be local to understand "Er pfoff" (aka: he whistled. Correct would be "Er pfeifte")

  2. Barking House
    WTF?

    South don't work in the North

    In the 1980's it was common to see very large (Heavy) Video Terminals - The ones used for graphics were particular expensive, large and complex. I get a call out to a customer who has 3 new 29 Inch colour VT monitors and he is unhappy as they are using them to display technical drawings (Early CAD stuff) and the lines are "Wonky" on the side of the screens on all 3 monitors.

    These are new monitors, I do a check on one to check if there is any damage due to shipping and to check the calibration - All looks good - Checking the serial number with our service DB I was informed these monitors were ONLY intended to be sold and used in Southern Hemisphere and would not be supported in Northern Hemisphere.

    Turns out a lot of monitors back in the day were calibrated for the southern or northern hemisphere use.

    Customer had acquired these as they were going cheap (Comparatively speaking) - Was not happy when told we could not resolve as this was a factory calibration and we had no way of fixing in the field.

    I think in the end he traded them in for the correct hemisphere ones and paid nearer full price .........

    1. Little Mouse

      Re: South don't work in the North

      Due to differences in the local electrical supply, presumably?

      Gullible ol' me initially assumed you were referring to some effect of the Earth's magnetic field or similar. Duh.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: South don't work in the North

        It's because on the southern hemisphere they'd be hanging upside down, so the gravity must be distorting them differently, innit?

        1. Little Mouse

          Re: South don't work in the North

          The moon is upside-down, Orion's sword points up, and the sun tracks the wrong way across the sky.

          Something's definitely amiss down there.

          1. oiseau

            Re: South don't work in the North

            Hmmm ...

            The moon is upside-down, Orion's sword points up, and the sun tracks the wrong way across the sky.

            No, you are obviously looking at it wrong.

            The moon is right side up, Orion's sword points down (as intended), and the sun tracks the right way across the sky.

            What really happens is that there's something definitely amiss down there.

            Notwithstanding, have a couple on me. ---> |***|D |***|D

          2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: South don't work in the North

            Orion's sword points up

            As I thought the first time I was in the southern hemisphere and looking at the stars: that's not a sword.

          3. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

              Re: South don't work in the North

              Do not try and flip the moon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.

              What truth?

              There is no flip.

              There is no flip?

              Then you’ll see, that it is not the moon that flips, it is only yourself.

              1. DoctorPaul

                Re: South don't work in the North

                Reminds me of the "gate" poem from Knots by R D Laing

        2. Lil Endian Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: South don't work in the North

          Nah, it's the Coriolis effect making the electrons swirl the wrong way at the plug.

      2. GlenP Silver badge

        Re: South don't work in the North

        Due to differences in the local electrical supply, presumably?

        Australia is basically the same as the UK, nominally 230v 50Hz, so that wouldn't make a difference.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: South don't work in the North

        If they are CRT monitors, then it could be down to the earth's magnetic field. I've not heard about northern/southern hemispheres before, but the monitors I had dealt with in the past, you either had to degauss them in situ, or make sure that the monitor was lined up North/South before using a degauss coil to de-magnetise the metalwork in the unit.

      4. elkster88
        Boffin

        Re: South don't work in the North

        Believe it or not, it was due to the vertical component of the Earth's magnetic field being of the opposite sign Down Under.

        Years ago I was involved in a project for an Australian customer. Part my job was to specify some high resolution monitors. I had assumed that all I needed to do was to make sure they would operate at the local mains voltage and frequency. I had plans to purchase a lot of monitors in the USA and have them shipped to Australia as they were much cheaper in the USA for the same model (shipping cost to Australia vs buying local was not a concern since the system components were all being put into a large shipping container).

        During my research, I discovered that CRT monitors were "yammed" (AFAIK that is/was the correct technical term) for specific hemispheres, to allow for the difference in the vertical component of the Earth's magnetic field.

        I was sceptical, so I figured if I turned a monitor upside down, it would be equivalent to operating it in the Southern hemisphere. Lo and behold, the screen now displayed a large rainbow blotch of colors that had not been there before. Restoring the monitor to its normal orientation and hitting the degauss button repeatedly, fixed it. But I couldn't ever get the blotch to go away when the unit was upside down.

        If I hadn't seen it myself, I would never have believed it.

    2. AIBailey

      Re: South don't work in the North

      Is this really a thing?

      Surely even rotating a CRT (e.g. so the screen is facing east instead of west) would then affect the influence of the magnetic field of the Earth?

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: South don't work in the North

        Well, the magnetic field on a CRT from both the scan coils and the correction magnets on the neck are _ever_ so slightly stronger than the earth's magnetic field. They can pick up a magnetic field on the frame and the shadow mask; that's why colour screens always had a degaussing coil built in to operate when they were turned on. But the effect is of such a magnitude as to move the scanning electron beam from one colour phosphor dot to an adjacent one, and change the colour slightly.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: South don't work in the North

        Back in the 1970's, when I was a student earning a bit of cash-in-hand with a part-time job in a TV shop, a common task was to visit the home of customers who had just bought a new colour TV. We would ensure the TV was in the final place the customer wanted it and then we'd connect a pattern generator and spend up to an hour or two getting the beams and masks aligned across the whole screen. If we didn't get it right, the customer would likely be on the phone complaining about colour fringing or picture distortion. Those early sets would sometimes need a further visit because the customer decided to turn the set to a different viewing angle. We also advised the lady* of the house to never switch the vacuum cleaner on or off near the TV - fine to vacuum the carpet around it, but always switch the cleaner on or off on the other side of the room. Ror the early sets with the common shadow mask, the Earth's magnetic field had a big influence; things got better after a few years, as the control circuitry became more sophisticated. The shop also sold Sony Trinitron TVs and those never needed a visit or such precautions.

        *Yes, men do sometimes do the cleaning but telling the lady ensured the information was received.

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: South don't work in the North

          Sony Trinitron TVs

          I was given a Sears rebadged Trinitron (i.e. it had a Sears logo stuck on the front over the Sony logo, and all the stickers and manuals said "Sony Trinitron") for a college gift (which tells how expensive it was) and that sucker lasted 24 years (1991-2015)

          To quote a friend of mine "dat wuz some good shit"

          1. BenDwire Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: South don't work in the North

            Sony Trinitron TVs

            I had one of those years ago, and was simply fantastic. Great picture, good sound and completely reliable until my 2 year old threw a stoneware mug at the screen - probably due to some 'peril' in Thomas the Tank Engine. He managed to knock a chunk of glass out of it the size of a 2p piece, but thankfully the tube didn't implode. The insurance company paid for a new tube, but the repair company couldn't align the guns properly which resulted in a red blotch whenever the picture was predominately green e.g. football & snooker.

            I've still not forgiven him for that; He's just turned 32.

            1. Tom 7

              Re: South don't work in the North

              Had one for seemed like for ever and gave it away when we moved house but it seemed as good as the day it was bought. The programs were shitter mind.

              1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
                Childcatcher

                Re: South don't work in the North

                "Had one for seemed like for ever and gave it away when we moved house"

                Gifted ours* to my father when we moved to Canada..........oh you were talking about the TV.

                *He had a 2 year HND he was on, so he stayed behind for 18 months.

                1. David Nash Silver badge

                  Re: South don't work in the North

                  Gave.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Pint

                Re: South don't work in the North

                @Tom 7

                Shitter??? SHITTER?? Good sir, I think you mean shittier. Depending on who you are speaking to a shitter is either your arsehole or your bog.

                You need beer soonest!

            2. Ididntbringacoat

              Re: South don't work in the North

              Worked for SONY for a bit in their doomed attempt to market an "almost nearly, somewhat" compatible PC, based on Z-80. .

              Some of the "elders" with previous tech experience on Trinitron spoke of the Factory Techs that worked in production with awe. Field attempts at replacing a CRT were doomed to hours of alignment effort and rarely approached "as good as from the Factory".

            3. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

              CRT Psychedelia

              I learned as a child that the permanent magnet from a disassembled voltage meter made wonderful color patterns when held next to the front of our colour TV. I got my younger brother in on the act, too. Our parents never bothered getting it fixed, probably thinking, "They'll just do it again."

              1. Not Yb Bronze badge
                Happy

                Re: CRT Psychedelia

                When I tried something like that, my dad just pulled out his handy degaussing coil and fixed the problem. He worked for Curtis Mathes back when they made TVs.

            4. Lil Endian Silver badge

              Re: South don't work in the North

              ...my 2 year old threw a stoneware mug at the screen...

              Are you sure it was "Thomas the Tank Engine" and not "I'm a Sleepy Priest"? Were the words "How did that gobshite get on the television?!" used?

          2. phuzz Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: South don't work in the North

            My mum has no interest in technology, but one thing she does care about is image quality. Consequently, we always had a Trinitron.

            The first one lasted at least twenty years, before a dodgy power switch retired it to Amiga monitor duty, and it was replaced by another one in the 90's and finally a widescreen Trinitron in the 2000's. These days they have a horrid Samsung flatscreen that everyone in the family loathes.

            1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

              Re: South don't work in the North

              Ugh, I have one of those Samsung jobs. I keep hoping it'll die, but no luck so far. About 5 minutes after the warranty ran out it developed a blackish area about 1 square foot in size that discolors any light colors that show. It doesn't affect the picture, but makes it look like someone lightly dragged a paint brush with translucent black paint over it. Annoying, but not enough to trash it.

              The other problem is they decided to make a single plug that goes to a box, then you plug all cables into that box. I'm sure it's great for set top boxes, but wall mounted sucks. What's really bad is the cable for this box is short, so it's just long enough to lay flat if the set is table mounted. And, it's proprietary, so if I want a 10ft cable that can route behind the wall it was like 200 bucks. I wound up cable strapping the box so it wouldn't hang and running the cables from the DVD player and antenna to it. When this TV finally goes, it won't be a Samsung in its place.

          3. Stevie

            Re: Trinitron

            My dad (a chartered electrical engineer who taught industrial electronics at college level) rented a Sony Trinitron with which he was extremely happy. We had suggested he buy one, but his motto was “let them sort the problems out and I’ll buy when it’s a mature technology”.

            When the rental period expired he asked if he could buy the set, but the rental company declined.

            So he bought a new one.

            And entered a personal hell.

            In the interim, Sony had cheaped out on the build. Instead of using I.F. cans to adjust the scan characteristics of the electron beam, a technician now drove plastic wedges into the x-y coils to distort them and the magnetic fields they produced to adjust the convergence.

            The results were “good enough”.

            We would be watching a show, and suddenly dad would leap up, jab his finger at some part of the picture and yell “SEE THAT? AARGH!”

            Naturally, none of us could see that.

            He was blocking the view.

        2. DJV Silver badge

          Re: South don't work in the North

          That brings back memories of my stint as an apprentice TV engineer at Rediffusion in the 1970s. Some of the "experienced" engineers were completely unable to converge the guns on a colour TV and would bribe me to do it for them as I seemed to have the knack!

          We did have the occasional Sony Trinitron for sale as well, though they were never used for rented sets. This was, of course, back in the days when Sony was a great company selling excellent TVs and Hi-Fi separates, long before they became the nasty rootkit installers of nearly 20 years ago.

          1. Lil Endian Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: South don't work in the North

            Ah, memory jogger!

            My old man was a TV engineer for Radio Rentals. We had the luxury of a colour telly very occasionally if he needed to bring one home for repair. I can remember him coming up the garden path with those huge sets - he had massive arms through lugging those things about!

            It's funny looking back to think that there were "TV engineers" - swapping components out, soldering at the PCB level after following a circuit diagram. Now it's "skip it!" - times a-change :)

          2. MJI Silver badge

            Re: South don't work in the North

            Never owned a non Trinitron tubed, tubed TV

        3. MJI Silver badge

          Re: South don't work in the North

          I have had 3 tube TVs, all Sony.

          The pictures were excellent.

          Ran each until they started to play up.

      3. ibmalone

        Re: South don't work in the North

        For this reason I'm sort of sceptical about the whole north versus south part of the explanation, if even what others have said about the sensitivity of older TVs is true. Latitude also has a strong effect on the direction of the field (that is, near the poles it's more vertical than around the equator. This is really the only asymetry I can think of between North and South, that the vertical component of the field is in the opposite direction. Maybe that's enough, but it seems plausible that a few factory seconds might have had some other problem (slight magnetization somehow).

        On the other hand, I do have my dad's story about a building (he was an electrical engineer responsible for commissioning), where a particular part of one floor had problems with their monitors. It turned out the main electrical room was above it, and the contractors had somehow managed to run the supply cables around it so as to turn it into one big solenoid.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: South don't work in the North

          On an HD screen, the distance between pixels is so small that it's quite believable (to me) that calibration would be different between the hemispheres. It's not an issue with visible image distortion, but (as a previous poster noted) with convergence. The RGB beam guns are each placed at the vertices of a triangle in the tube neck (obviously you can't get all three in the same physical space), so each requires a very slightly different deflection parameters to hit a given spot on the tube phosphor screen. It only takes a tiny magnetic field change to move those beams the fraction of a degree that would cause them to hit different places on the screen at the edge/corner extremes of deflection. Sony Trinitrons were less sensitive because, IIRC, the three guns were inline, not in a triangle, so only deflection in one plane was tricky to manage.

          I'd expect that monitors could be recalibrated for the 'other' hemisphere, but probably not in the field.

          As for latitude effects, that's certainly true but most people live in a fairly narrow band around the equator. I guess that moving either typr of CRT to a polar base would require some further relalignment.

          1. Contrex

            Re: South don't work in the North

            Sony Trinitrons came first, around 1968 but generally colour CRTs with the 'delta gun' arrangement were displaced by 'precision in line' (PIL) tubes during the early 1970s. RCA introduced theirs in 1973 and Thorn marketed the design in the UK. Philips/Mullard had their 20AX around then too,

            1. ADRM
              Boffin

              Re: South don't work in the North

              Wrong RCA invented the shadowmask tube in the late 40's and went into mass production in the early 50's. The first colour CRT's were round. I used to repair TV and monitors in the home and in the workshop. I worked for a Sony agent in Peterborough Cambs and could align a trinitron tube in 20 mins. I also could get a factory one far better than how the factory girls and guys got the convergence and geometry. They used to call me Sony Tony. Tubes were indeed set to North or Southern hemisphere and the earths magnetic field was different. You may have been able to have used a 14" CRT with a regular dot pitch in the wrong hemisphere but a PC monitor or a large 32" 36" CRT would have had serious purity issues. I started fixing colour TV's with delta guns, then PIL tubes where the electron guns were horizontal which removed horizontal convergence. As tube and yolk (scan coils and magnets) got better convergence was engineered out. In 50 years colour crt's went from dim with poor convergence and the corners to bright with almost perfect colour registration. Now we have LCD and OLED. Plasma was way too complex for 1080p and too heavy and I hated them. I think a well set up LCD with LED lighting is superb and wonder what the next twenty years will bring.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: South don't work in the North

            That was a delta tube - the monitors I had to deal with had 27 potentiometers to adjust it. I was told (YTS trainee) that you were never going to get it perfect.

            They were replaced by PIL tubes where the electron beams were In Line - (can't remember what the P stood for!)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: South don't work in the North

              > They were replaced by PIL tubes where the electron beams were In Line - (can't remember what the P stood for!)

              Precision

              (cue Topol.....)

            2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: South don't work in the North

              Parallel?

          3. ibmalone

            Re: South don't work in the North

            I can absolutely believe they're that sensitive, what I find weird is that they would specifically be sensitive to being in the northern or southern hemisphere but not which way the screen is horizontally oriented. A vertical field component will cause electrons travelling horizontally to bend left or right, while a horizontal component will cause them to bend up, down or not at all (if travelling parallel, your CRT axis is parallel to a compass). The field inclination (cribbing the calculation from wikipedia) is about 68 degrees in London, -54 degrees in Canberra, so not inconsiderable, so the left-right shift (which would be consistent for a hemisphere, but the difference between those cities and the equator is also big) should be similar to the size of the up-down shift which can change as you turn the CRT around. There are a few ways in which one could matter and the other not, at a guess the CRT has shimming for one axis, but not the other, or the mask spacing is different for the two axes. Weirdly, isn't the Trinitron grille vertical? It should still be affected by left-right shifting.

            Added to this there are the local magnetic anomalies like the Kursk and Bangui anomalies which I'd think would completely screw with this.

        2. Dave Pickles

          Re: South don't work in the North

          In the early 70s I had a summer job at a major manufacturer of colour TVs. At the time all TVs used the RCA shadow mask tube which had three electron guns in an equilateral triangle (the Trinitron was invented later to get round the RCA patents). Sets for the UK were built Blue Gun Up, those for the antipodes were Blue Gun Down (ie the CRT was installed the other way up).

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: South don't work in the North

            That reminds me of a old tale* in Television Magazine told by Les Lawry-Jones about having to fit a replacement tube in upside down & stretch the final anode lead as the original tube was no longer available or as may well be the case from reading the comments above had been shipped one in error for the southern hemispheres.

            *My memory is a right bastard for remembering useless shit like that, but not useful stuff, link to the LLJ archive here - https://www.vintage-radio.info/llj/

            Icon for LLJ, HB & the dogs.

            1. PRR Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: South don't work in the North

              > old tale* in Television Magazine told by Les Lawry-Jones

              Thank you thank you thank you!!

              My mind turned to that series when Lil posted here "It's funny looking back to think that there were "TV engineers" - swapping components out, soldering at the PCB level after following a circuit diagram." I WAS that solder-guy, Les's brother on another side of a pond. The early essays are BOFH except before computer literature and Les often liked his clients. And Les actually told us stuff about Radio/TV repair.

              But I had lost the link. Thanks for the memories.

              {Italics and bold not working today?}

            2. Lil Endian Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: South don't work in the North

              Nice one The Oncoming Scorn! Library stocked up!

          2. ADRM

            Re: South don't work in the North

            Thorn/ DER/Radio Rentals/Ferguson released 2 chassis which ran for 8 years or so in the 70's. The 3000 and 8000 series. The 19" were blue gun down. Model 3703 and 6713. Changed no end of tubes which were straight imported from RCA USA. I think the 22" and 26" may have been the same. I don't think that made any difference. This was in the UK.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: South don't work in the North

        I worked for the Sun Microsystems "official" supplier** in SA back in the day, as we had a batch of 20-odd inch monitors that we couldn't get the picture fully undistorted even after using a massive degaussing ring. Turns out we'd been sent a batch of northern hemisphere monitors. Ot at least, that what we were told. They were returned and replaced with the correct ones.

        ** As a result of sanctions then in place, Sun Microsystems wasn't officially in the country (wink wink)

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      There's always a reason why it's cheaper. Find out said reason to see if it's important to you before thinking you got a good deal.

      1. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

        I learned that lesson from an old girlfriend re. buying factory seconds. Every pair of jeans (or whatever) failed its final inspection, or it wouldn't be there. Best to inspect it yourself. Often the flaw is trivial, but not always...

    4. ButlerInstitute

      Re: South don't work in the North

      In the 80s and 90s I used to work at Quantel, who made videographics gear. For devices for the printing industry we had much higher resolution monitors (Sony HDVS series). Although nowadays everyone's home TVs and computers can do that kind of resolution, back then it needed to be massive, very heavy, CRT devices. One of the controls on the device's calibration panel was a 16 way rotary switch labelled with the 16 primary compass points. The device was sufficiently sensitive to the earth's magnetic field that it needed to be told in which direction it was aligned.

    5. nintendoeats Silver badge

      Re: South don't work in the North

      How would these even wind up in the wrong hemisphere? It's not like somebody can forget they have a CRT in their wallet.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: South don't work in the North

        'ere, Fred. Got a few monitors going cheap. Cancelled order, fell of the back of a container ship, know what I mean?

        1. HPCJohn

          Re: South don't work in the North

          Talking about the effect of magnetic fields.. I worked on a CERN experiment at the LEP collider. The experiment had a 1.5 Tesla magnet which you could stand inside.

          In the counting rooms in the experimental pit all the computer monitors had displays tilted at a crazy angle - so you had to tilt your head to the side to read them.

          Those were the days of CRT terminals, VT220 usually as the experiment used VAXen of many flavours.

          Me, I had a Falco terminal in my office which was a VT220 emulator AND toggled to Tektronix emulation for graphics display. There's fancy now.

    6. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: South don't work in the North

      Have they tried to mount them upside down?

    7. the reluctant commentard

      Re: South don't work in the North

      Once read an article by a Philips engineer on all the magic that went into making CRTs (talk about a whole field of knowledge that is now no longer much in demand) and he stated that the factory in Eindhoven where they made colour TV sets had a room where they could emulate earth's magnetic field in any location on earth to allow for correct calibrating of the tube for that location - so yes, it seems earth's magnetic field did matter.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: South don't work in the North

        As your comment has a strong indication of which period it was and that strongly corresponds with the period when Philips was truly good, I am inclined to believe it.

        1. herman Silver badge

          Re: South don't work in the North

          Inclined should be declinated, shirley?

    8. breakfast Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: South don't work in the North

      I have only visited Australia to train with my horsemanship mentors, if I find myself back there I might ask the equines about those old-style monitors.

      .

      .

      .

      Of course, that would be putting the CRT before the horse.

    9. peter_dtm

      Re: South don't work in the North

      easiest fix is to rotate the yoke through 180 degrees - this is NOT the same as turning the whole monitor/tv upside down as it is only the vertical field that has changed - the horizontal field is fine!

      Had some 24" CRT from Honeywell for TDC2000 /TDC3000 (Process Control system) in South Africa; about 30% of Honeywell supplied monitors were N Hemisphere and useless - saved my client a fortune when I magically resurrected about 10 monitors that were "not working" but too expensive to throw out ... Oh the joys of doing a full gun re-alignment with 380V motor feeds running past/through the workshop

      1. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

        Re: South don't work in the North

        A sports bar I used to frequent, back in CRT days, had one TV whose image was backwards. Text was mirrored etc., but the really disorienting thing was watching baseball players run the bases clockwise.

        It seems that the unit had previously been used as the image source for some kind of projection system. That thing's lenses flipped the image, so the TV's horizontal deflection coils had been flipped over (or rotated, or the connections just swapped; I don't know the technical details) in order to compensate.

        When the TV came out of the projector and began to be used on its own, the coils never got changed back.

    10. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

      Unfixable CRT Display

      Reminds me of some monochrome VDT displays I saw at a magnetic resonant imaging medical facility. The on-screen display was terribly-warped, though still readable. The VDTs were 60+ feet from the imaging machinery, in a different room, but a 3T magnetic field isn't much impeded by office walls. I also saw a demonstration of a paper clip standing horizontally against a wall when the imager was running.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Unfixable CRT Display

        There was a news story just a few weeks ago about a guy who was shot dead by his own gun, after he ignored the signs and carried his concealed weapon into the imager room.

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Re: Unfixable CRT Display

          Only USA... No other developed country possible. Luckily he only shot himself.

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: Unfixable CRT Display

            Brazil, actually.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Unfixable CRT Display

        My brother worked with a research MRI for a bit. He said the training videos definitely got the point across. For the videos they built a brick wall in front of the machine, then tossed a metal bucket in its direction. It promply crushed itself against the wall. Another had an adjustable wrench on a rope; the wrench was suspended in mid-air by the *horizontal* rope, due to the magnetic pull from the MRI.

        1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: Unfixable CRT Display

          There was an article -- sorry I don't recall the authors or article title -- published in one of the IEEE magazines, about human injuries associated with MRI installations. Most of them involved unsecured metal objects flying toward the magnets, and into, or through, humans in the way. In one incident, it was an oxygen bottle(!)

          (Icon for potential danger)

      3. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

        Re: Unfixable CRT Display

        The room that an MRI machine lives in is a Faraday cage; otherwise, those fields would screw things up over a much wider area. That wouldn't be good in a hospital.

        I met a guy once whose specialty was building those Faraday-cage rooms for new MRI installations.

        1. ibmalone

          Re: Unfixable CRT Display

          Late reply I know, but just in case, the Faraday cage is really for the electronics, MRI relies on microwave transmission and reception and is very sensitive to noise. The field itself isn't much affected by the Faraday cage, static magnetic fields are quite hard to stop, conductors don't really do it (although they do resist a changing field), there are things like mu metal which have high permeability and do sort of the same job, but they're nowhere near as effective. Really it's design and distance that's used to protect things outside the magnet, design to ensure the field has a quick drop-off outside and distance to keep anything important outside the area where the field can be a problem (the experimental magnet I worked on in the distant past had the 100mT isoline marked on the floor, but it was in the middle of a lab, not sure this is done routinely in clinical facilities, they probably just rely on room access control).

          The Faraday cages can be pretty impressive though, down to having conductive door seals. One of the causes of a noisy scan can be an open door.

    11. JulieM Silver badge

      Re: South don't work in the North

      It is true about CRT monitors having a hemisphere preference, though there is an extraordinarily simple fix:

      Rotate the CRT through 180 degrees.

      I believe TV repair people in Australia used to do it a lot for immigrants from Continental Europe who for some reason had brought their TVs with them, before explaining to immigrants from the UK that their 405-line sets were completely incompatible with Australian 625-line broadcasts .....

  3. John Riddoch

    Tablet case

    Had a similar problem with a tablet constantly going off when the case was opened. Turned out the magnet sensor was a bit too sensitive and triggered when the case tab was on the back of the tablet. Wound up rotating the table 180 degrees in the case so the sensor was the other side and the problem stopped.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This sounds familiar....

    ... https://www.theregister.com/2017/06/16/on_call/

    1. phils

      Re: This sounds familiar....

      Bloody internet, nothing but repeats.

    2. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: This sounds familiar....

      Such a good story, they published it twice.

    3. AIBailey

      Re: This sounds familiar....

      At least it proves that the Regomizer is working.

    4. KarMann Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: This sounds familiar....

      ZOMG, it was Dell he was working for all along? I had no idea!!!

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: This sounds familiar....

        Oddly enough, I had this problem when I placed one Dell laptop on top of another; the magnet convinced the topmost laptop that it's lid was closed and so it dropped to a single external screen mode. Annoying until I worked it out (by accident!)

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: This sounds familiar....

          (and I apologise for noticing the aberrant apostrophe too late to change it. Perhaps that was a magnet, too.)

    5. Anonymous Anti-ANC South African Coward Bronze badge
      Facepalm

      Re: This sounds familiar....

      Now On-Call need to check for plagiarism as well...

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: This sounds familiar....

        How can we be sure it wasn't ChatGPT?

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: This sounds familiar....

          Did Simon link ChatGPT to On-Call mailbox, instead of the HelpDesk mailbox?

    6. Anonymous IV

      Re: This sounds familiar....

      Obviously a case of history repeating itself!

      But you could have made the link clickable...

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

        Re: This sounds familiar....

        It is Friday, what did you expect?

  5. chivo243 Silver badge
    Windows

    No Dell since...

    The capacitor bulge in the GX series, 260 and 270s I believe. They turned off randomly too! Glad desktop support is way behind me!

  6. Andy Taylor

    An all too frequent occurence at the Genius Bar

    I saw this many times at the Fruit Store. Metallic bracelets would trigger the sleep function on Macbooks for this exact reason.

  7. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    I used to work in a Uni computer lab where some of the machines had a large (dual slot, full length), expensive (£5k) broadcast quality capture card. These machines had (then state of the art) Pentium 200 CPUS, and were packed in a tiny, desktop case. They were packed, and on a warm day, even if the machine was idling, you could probably have fried an egg on the top of the case. I did burn myself a couple of times.

    So, to minimise the damage caused by the high temperature, I wrote a small application that I could run when the lab had closed to shut the machines down of a night. I wrote quite a neat little app that when run, would list all the machines on the domain, and you ticked the ones you wanted shutdown. You could optionally send them a message, and optionally force the shutdown. V2 of the app even allowed you to add machines to groups, so you could select a bunch of them at once. Because it used the InitiateSystemShutdown API, it also offered an adjustable delay and the ability to restart the system instead of shutting it down.

    One day, we noticed a student had fallen asleep. While this, strictly speaking, wasn't against University rules, it was odd, and we would have had to wake the student up when the lab closed anyway.

    We had monitors that usually automatically degaussed themselves as the machine restarted, or started up. This produced a bang that was sometimes quite loud. A colleague of mine suggested restarting the machines either side of this student. We couldn't restart his because he was actually logged in, and could have lost work if we'd restarted his PC. So, I triggered the restart, and watched the student. Eventually both monitors did bang (in stereo). The student jumped, got up , logged out and went running out the lab. I don't think we ever saw him again.

    1. Lil Endian Silver badge

      That's soooo mean I love it!

      I know that sound - *crack* *doi-oi-oing* as the CRT holding springs shudder!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nokia CRT monitors also had a distinctive sound too!

    2. Stuart Castle Silver badge

      Sort of a second part to this story is that I made the mistake of saying to the lecturer that used these machines that we should really buy larger cases, as these incredibly expensive video capture cards (which were essentially a complete PC on a card, complete with their own Pentium CPU, Memory and SCSI interface) were slowly cooking themselves.

      2 days later, the head of school came to see me. He demanded to know why I'd told the lecturer we'd be upgrading the machines, potentially costing the department tens of thousands of pounds. I was slightly taken aback by this, but politely explained that I'd recommended we replace the cases on the machines, and did not mention upgrading them, not that I had the power to do more than recommend anyway.

    3. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

      Same stimulus; opposite prank.

      One of my highschool teachers, nigh-on half a century ago, told the story of the time a student fell asleep in class. They hung (not "hanged", q.v.) a "do not disturb" sign on his back and carried on. At the end of the period they filed out *quietly*, and told the incoming bunch to do likewise.

      The kid finally woke up of his own accord -- and was mortified to find himself in the wrong class.

  8. rjstua
    Thumb Up

    I had this exact problem only a month or so ago. It was the user's Apple Watch magnetic clasp that was triggering the sleep function since the laptop believed the lid had been closed when the user was waving their wrist over the laptop while typing away. Proud of myself for not taking anywhere near years resolving that! A mere 60 seconds was sufficient for me to spot that, honest.

  9. Martin an gof Silver badge

    More magnetics

    Different angle, but just this week I took the family on a short train ride into the nearest town. Many stations along the route are barrier-less, but the one where we got off has unmanned barriers. Card tickets, so just before the stop I handed them out. Three of us popped through the barrier no problem, fourth, the ticket kept coming out and the barrier refused to open.

    Turns out that in the minute or so between handing out the tickets and arriving at the barrier, this person had been holding the ticket and their mobile phone - with magnetic clasp - together in one hand. Presumably the phone's magnet had scrambled the magstripe on the ticket.

    Fortunately there was an off duty member of staff on the same train who spotted the problem and waved their pass at the barrier. Not sure what we'd have done otherwise...

    M.

    1. ChrisC Silver badge

      Re: More magnetics

      "Not sure what we'd have done otherwise"

      Raise several levels of holy hell both with whoever was responsible for running the station, as well as in the local media (because they always love a juicy story like this) - barriers, unless locked in the open position, should always be accompanied by a member of station staff who can assist not only with routine issues like yours, but can also handle more serious issues where being trapped on the wrong side of the barriers would be more than a mild inconvenience.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: More magnetics

        barriers, unless locked in the open position, should always be accompanied by a member of station staff

        I believe there were staff at the station, just not at that particular barrier at that particular time (small station with only two platforms) and had the off-duty member of staff not been on hand it probably wouldn't have been too difficult to get the attention of staff. Barrier itself would have been simple enough to vault anyway, in an emergency.

        M.

    2. FrogsAndChips Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: More magnetics

      The Paris metro paper tickets are the worst I've seen with regards to demagnetization. I once had to replace half a 10-batch of them at a counter, they had just been sitting for a few months in my wallet (not any magnet in there, and nowhere close to a mobile phone) and were completely useless. So unpleasant to be at the gates and waste everyone's time trying them one by one and not finding a working one.

      1. Anne Hunny Mouse

        Re: More magnetics

        As a post graduate chemist, taking your photocopying card to the NMR Spectroscopy rooms was guaranteed to wipe the card.

        An expensive mistake when you made it.

    3. Stuart Castle Silver badge

      Re: More magnetics

      Had a problem with my oyster card a few years back. Oyster is a card that can hold a season ticket (as mine does) and also a limited pay as you go balance. I caught a bus one day, and the machine refused to read my card. Tried again, and the machine refused to read my card. The Bus driver was getting agitated by then, so I showed her my Annual season ticket gold card. This showed the zones my season ticket was valid in, and also the dates it was valid. I'd just got the season ticket, and was well within the area where my ticket was valid, but the driver refused to let me on until I bought a ticket. The annoying thing was a friend of mine is a bus driver. He told me years ago that all the driver needed to do was press the pass button on the reader. TFL would have credited the company.

      Instead, I ended up having to wait for a replacement Oyster.

    4. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Re: More magnetics

      Sounds like UK. "short train ride" + "magnetic card tickets" + "member of staff". Did my detection work?

      1. "short train ride" -> definetly not US, since the car manufacturers forced such weird rules and zoning first half of last century that every public transport is built at useless places.

      2. "magnetic card tickets" -> sounds like UK to me, though other European countries use a similar type.

      3. "member of staff" -> sounds like UK and not Germany, because due to the pseudo-privatization of Deutsche Bahn over 30 years ago there is no staff no service no punctuality etc etc...

    5. matthewdjb

      Re: More magnetics

      Similar happened to me on the Italian motorways. Got the ticket at the toll machine. Drove a few hundred km. Tried to leave the Motorway. (automatic exit machine).. ticket wouldn't read. I had to press the contact button. I don't speak Italian. Somehow I managed to communicate that I'd got onto the motorway at its start, and they remotely set the fee.

      I'd stored the ticket next to my mobile phone in the car.

      1. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge
        Go

        One of my proudest travel moments

        "I don't speak Italian. Somehow I managed to communicate..."

        I was in Frankfurt am Main on a business trip, walking from the conference centre back to my hotel (a quaint little place on the edge of the red-light district -- much more atmospheric than the bland, corporate, could-be-anywhere box that we could have been staying at).

        Anyway, a truck driver pulled over, asking me for directions. I don't speak German and he didn't speak English, but I knew where Mainzer Landstraße was, and I'm pretty sure I was somehow able to convey the directions (fortunately, pretty simple from where we happened to be).

  10. WhoAmI?
    Holmes

    Dell's help desk script

    I used to work for a company that used Dell desktop machines. Occasionally one would come through DOA so we'd place a call to their help desk.

    One particular DOA machine's hard drive sounded like a particularly irate badger trapped in a case containing a collections of spanners. I took the drive out and, yes, a screw had obviously been missed out on the thread-lock supply so a call went in.

    The poor soul on the other end of the line ran through their script and, when they asked to hear the rattle that was being made, I held the drive to the phone and shook it a couple of times. They asked "Would I be correct in thinking that this drive isn't in a machine?" to which I replied "Yes, you would be right".

    Dell: "Could you put it in to a machine and try it?"

    Me: "Why?"

    D: "Just to make sure it's the drive and not the machine causing it"

    M: "If it's rattling outside of the machine when not powered up, it's going to be even worse in a machine"

    D: "I need to hear it in a machine"

    M: "But this is a waste of your and my time"

    D: "I need to hear it in a machine"

    M: "I used to hardware support to component level for a living and it's a faulty drive, not PC"

    D: "I need to hear it in a machine"

    M: "I've been doing this longer than you've been alive"

    D: "I need to hear it in a machine"

    And so into the machine it went. Power was applied at which point it sounded like two *really* pissed off badgers in the hardware aisle of B&Q.

    And then into another machine just to be doubly sure that it was REALLY the drive and not a bad batch of PCs.

    And that, dear readers, is why I could never work on a help desk with a script

    1. Roger Lipscombe

      Re: Dell's help desk script

      A colleague of mine had to get in touch with (I think it was also Dell) support because his graphics card had stopped working. It took escalating to third line support before they would accept that "no, I'm *not* putting it back in the PC -- a large chunk of the ceramic is missing from the chip, and I can see the silicon" was sufficient to RMA the board without running through the script. We're not entirely sure what caused the failure, but the magic smoke *really* wanted out on that occasion.

      1. Anne Hunny Mouse

        Re: Dell's help desk script

        I knew someone who bought a Dell in the Windows 95 days.

        He had graphics corruption on his brand new system.

        Dell's answer was to turn down the acceleration slider.

        I told him not to put up with such sh1t and get Dell to replace.

        1. Giles C Silver badge

          Re: Dell's help desk script

          Going back to the mid 90s and I was employed doing CAD work and we used Dell 486 machines, there was a fault with my machine and they sent out an engineer to swap out the system board. Only one problems for Autocad it needs a maths coprocessor so mine was the mighty 486DX cpu (to anyone under 30 yes that was a separate option) and they sent out a board with a 486SX chip installed. Took another two days for them to get the correct board and chip installed. I can’t remember what the helpdesk said but explaining to your boss that the machine can no longer run the software it was bought for isn’t a good thing to be doing….

          1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

            Re: Dell's help desk script

            This means Dell cheated on you, big time. Simply delivering the wrong CPU, since the SX is obviously cheaper, is illegal. "Yeah, we had to swap the engine of your vehicle. It has less than half of the power now" - great, now you cannot drag the trailer with your special tools any more, which was the main reason for getting the bigger engine, so you cannot work any more.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Dell's help desk script

          "Dell's answer was to turn down the acceleration slider."

          Sometimes, when buying bleeding edge GFX cards, that was the actual manufacturers fix. Hardware rushed out without proper testing was often "fixed" in software. A temporary "fix" would be to turn down or off the more advanced features in the driver options. Eventually a new GFX card driver would appear which disabled the faulty function(s) and replace them with software in the driver and the user could turn the slider back up to ELEVEN!!!. Of course, to the average users, the new driver "fixed" the problem while the rest us knew they'd just kludged a workaround. It probably still happens today and with all sorts of other hardware.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Dell's help desk script

            That's why I never pay top-dollar for new-on-the-market, bleeding edge hardware. I give it a year or so for all the fools to rush in and pay a premium to debug the hardware and drivers. After about a year and three-four hardware revs, and half a dozen minor driver revs, the new kit is finally ready for use. And roughly a third of the price it was when it was first offered for sale.

    2. ChrisC Silver badge

      Re: Dell's help desk script

      And that, dear readers, is why you also learn when to be economical with the truth during a support call...

      D: "I need to hear it in a machine"

      M: "OK, give me a minute to set that up..."

      *put phone down, make a few sounds in background that could be mistaken for your having installed said drive in a handy PC nearby, return to phone*

      M:" Righto, here you go"

      *shake drive in hand particularly vigorously*

      M: "See, still sounds like a bag of spanners, it's definitely the drive at fault here"

      I know the poor sods on level 1 helldesk duty have to follow their scripts, and I know they know that we know they have to do that, and I know that they know we know sometimes the best way to get the desired outcome from the call is to say what they need to hear in order to progress to the next step in the script. Would it be great if somehow they could know for sure that we really did know what we were talking about and were given the authority to short-circuit the process and just skip to the end where they generate a RMA number/field tech appointment/etc? Absolutely. But they don't, and they can't, so the best we can do is help expedite the process by playing along with them whilst expending as little effort as possible in the process...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dell's help desk script

        "Would it be great if somehow they could know for sure that we really did know what we were talking about and were given the authority to short-circuit the process and just skip to the end"

        Just say the word "Shibboleet" and the phone system will redirect you to someone who knows at least two programming languages.

        1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

          Re: Dell's help desk script

          Sorry, it was only a dream ...

          https://xkcd.com/806/

          1. Giles C Silver badge

            Re: Dell's help desk script

            We used to have that function as engineers where I worked if we called into the helpdesk then pressed 9 (I think it is 4 years since I worked there) it bypassed all the menus, pushed us to the first call in the queue and got us straight through.

            You can tell the person who programmed the call vector used to have a problem with getting through.

            1. Lil Endian Silver badge

              Re: Dell's help desk script

              Spamming 0 used to work well for getting a skinbag rather than listening to some redundant IVR.

              A good on was that if the telephone system handled DDI then using <their number> + extension 007 often got through to the MD/CEO as they always wanted to be Bond!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Dell's help desk script

                If the VDR can understand speech rather that just touchtone, try screaming at it. I've been told that some systems do, in fact, try to judge caller frustration level, and this is surprisingly effective.

                When that doesn't work, spout random gibberish.

                "What is the reason for your call?"

                "Kumquat pangolin."

                "I'm sorry, I didn't get that."

                "Blender garden power!"

                "Let me transfer you to an associate."

                Try it, it works!

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Dell's help desk script

                  "If the VDR can understand speech rather that just touchtone, try screaming at it. I've been told that some systems do, in fact, try to judge caller frustration level, and this is surprisingly effective."

                  If I were programming an IVR, I'd put the screamers on-hook immediately. No way I'm intentionally subjecting my front-line staff to irate morons who think screaming at the equipment will somehow help the situation.

                  "When that doesn't work, spout random gibberish."

                  Or you can just use English, "I'd like to speak to a human", "I want to talk to an associate", etc. You'll eventually fall through to being transferred to a human regardless of what you say. Your way, the tech on the other side who listens to what you had to say earlier will probably think you are a loon, and his interaction with you will be colo(u)red by this.

                  1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

                    Re: Dell's help desk script

                    "the tech on the other side who listens to what you had to say earlier"

                    Based on my experience of these calls, the person you're transferred to *NEVER* *EVER* has any clue of who you are, why you're calling or how many of their colleagues you've already talked to. They just restart their script from scratch, starting with your name, DOB, first line of the address (then the rest of the address anyway), etc. Which of course adds another layer of frustration onto the unfortunate caller having to provide that same information over and over again.

                    1. jake Silver badge

                      Re: Dell's help desk script

                      "the person you're transferred to *NEVER* *EVER* has any clue of who you are, why you're calling or how many of their colleagues you've already talked to."

                      Or so their script tells them to tell you.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Dell's help desk script

          "Just say the word "Shibboleet"

          GASP! My mother was a saint! <click>

      2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Dell's help desk script

        Would it be great if somehow they could know for sure that we really did know what we were talking about and were given the authority to short-circuit the process and just skip to the end where they generate a RMA number/field tech appointment/etc?

        Shibboleet

    3. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Dell's help desk script

      Due to the logistics of not being able to dial HP/IBM from the cage (Imaging & stock area) & being faced with a script monkey once to often, I recorded a failing HDD for playback down the phone on my PDA.

    4. englishr

      Re: Dell's help desk script

      I used to work at s startup that purchased a significant number of Gateway 2000 machines, one batch of which had the hard drives making the dreaded "click of death" within a month or two of being put in to use.

      We would normally just pop the drive out, package it up, call Gateway support, and they'd cross ship a replacement. However, one time my colleague and I got someone who was determined to stick to the script, and my colleague was feeling a bit grumpy...

      My colleague: We've got another click-of-death drive, from machine <serial#>. Could you ship us a replacement?

      GW2K: Is the drive installed in the machine?

      C: No - it's packaged ready to return

      G: Please install it in a machine - I need to hear it.

      C: Seriously? We've returned a dozen of these so far, and no one has needed to hear it.

      G: Please install in a machine - I need to hear it.

      C: (Sits patiently doing nothing for 3 minutes). OK - it's installed in a machine.

      G: Please turn it on so I can hear it.

      C: (Make noise with mouth) Click! Click! Click!

      G: You're making that noise with your mouth!

      C: No I'm not.

      G: Yes you are!

      C: Nope.

      G: (long pause) OK - here's your RMA number ...

    5. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Dell's help desk script

      That deserves two upvotes -- one for the story and one for the descriptions of the sounds.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That is a great catch.

  12. jollyboyspecial

    The mention of RAF jets reminds me of a case I had way back in the eighties. A client out in the wilds of North Yorkshire had a Comart Quad - a PC ish sort of device running Concurrent CP/M that served up to four greenscreen terminals. This machine would periodically crash sometimes corrupting their data necessitating a backup. We'd had engineers up there to investigate before but they had found no fault. A UPS had been installed in case the cause was a mains brown out. Given the remote location it was a distinct possibility, but that didn't fix it.

    I was dispatched to site with a replacement Quad as a last ditch effort to resolve things. Before replacing the box and rebuilding the whole thing from backup I decided to see if I could find anything. I logged on to one of the terminals and started digging. Suddenly there was a thunderous noise and when I looked back at the terminal I was looking at the bios screen. Even though the noise had made me jump and consider hiding under the desk I looked round and nobody else in the office seemed the slightest bit fazed.

    I asked almost timidly what the noise had been and the response came from somebody who turned out to be an aircraft nerd telling me "that one sounded like a Jaguar". Took me a second to realise he meant an aircraft rather than a car or a cat. The obvious follow up question was to ask if that sort of thing happened often. And yes of course it did. And it didn't take much of a leap of reasoning to ask if the Quad often crashed after one of these events. And yes of course it did.

    A bit of research and a couple of calls to the MoD revealed that this issue could possibly be caused by the aircraft's radar and no the RAF weren't willing to do anything about it. In the end we found that putting the quad in a substantial metal box resolved the problem.

    That's one of those support situations I've never encountered before or since even though it was well over 30 years ago. Not one for the Knowledge Base then, but also not one I'm going to forget.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      A bit of research and a couple of calls to the MoD revealed that this issue could possibly be caused by the aircraft's radar

      For a temporary job placement I once rented an attic room with an elderly couple in a farmhouse near Hereford. Took an old B&W TV with me and my BBC Micro - left my Archimedes at home. There was reasonably regular fairly low-level overflying by something noisy and military and every time the TV would go all 1960s Sci-Fi effects.

      The BBC Micro never once crashed.

      M.

  13. red floyd

    Reminds me of this old classic story...

    http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/magic-story.html

    1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Reminds me of this old classic story...

      Earth ground != mains ground != chassis ground != circuit ground.

      As a kid, something I was doing wasn't working right, and I traced it to a toggle switch in my circuit. The switch had a Bakelite body, a threaded aluminum barrel, and two "wings" attached to the barrel. When the switch was manufactured, the "wings" were wrapped around the Bakelite body, and one of the terminals was connected to some portion of the metal. Lucky for me it wasn't carrying mains power...

      (Icon for "electric shock hazard")

  14. HandleAlreadyTaken

    Michael

    > a very large tech company that sells plenty of PCs and bears the name of its founder, Michael.

    Ah, yes. Michael Compaq, I remember him!

    And you bastards who keep telling me I'm losing my memory, you can eff right off.

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