And also meant the exec's name was trashed as the entire IT department chortled at the "I need my Trash" line.
Well, we've all bin there...
Welcome once more to On Call, the weekly column in which Reg readers dump their foulest stories of execrable tech support incidents from which they emerged smelling like roses. This week, meet a reader we'll Regomize as "Curtis" who shared a tale from the late 1990s when he worked for a colossal multinational consumer goods …
Using trash as storage, temporary or otherwise gets mentioned here from time to time. It seems a big gap in email clients that there doesn't seem to be anything between Inbox - which in any sensible usage ought to be for incoming mail yet to be read and Trash which anyone ought to realise is for stuff held temporarily before deletion. Deletion from Trash ought to be automatic after a configurable interval to discourage use as storage.
Personally, I'd like to see a time limit on trash being implemented at an OS level. Admittedly, I am not sure if Windows offers an option at GPO level to do this, but as a support person, I've dealt many times with someone complaining they've run out of disk space, then looked in the Recycle bin to find hundreds of thousands of files/folders in there.. It's not fun to have to wait for Windows to have delete that many files.
Caution: in NetWare v4.x and earlier using Traditional Volumes, deletion of a directory dumps all the files in the DELETED.SAV directory into the root of the volume. The directory information is lost completely and cannot be recovered using SALVAGE. Only the files that were in the directories are recoverable, and even then, the ownership information is lost.
It does. At least for Outlook and Exchange. And was used with prejudice in the days of MSX 5.5, with a 16gb DB limit. That's 16gb for ALL users. A later Service Pack increased it, can't remember how much.
But yes, certain users (not always those of the highest level), used Recycle Bin as just another folder. But the user base frequently filled the Exchange DB - and didn't want to pay for an upgrade or another server. Cue Group Policy - with only a single person capable of knowing how to manipulate Group Policy editor (as Sir Humphrey might say, the person represented by the perpendicular pronoun), "Empty Recycle Bin on Closing Outlook" and "Never prompt for confirmation when emptying Recycle Bin". Cue much wailing and gnashing of teeth next Monday. But, the Exchange Server had some space for a few months. And myself a lot less stress for those months.
Alternatives were offered, some free, some paid for, none were accepted - I did what I had to do. (One department was the worse at large mailboxes, but their over use of Outlook affected every other equally deserving department)
These Group Policy objects have been in place ever since.
"Personally, I'd like to see a time limit on trash being implemented at an OS level."
In Linux the trash-empty command is available. It's found in /usr/bin of course.
Without arguments it empties the desktop's trash, with a numeric argument it empties trash older than that number of days. I have it in my KDE startup list to run with a 180 day parameter. It's strictly for trash bins specified by freedesktop.org so it doesn't help with email clients which have their own trash handling.
"complaining they've run out of disk space...It's not fun to have to wait for Windows to have delete that many files."
Doesn't Windows now have a setting whereby the OS can start deleting "oldest first" when running low on disc space these days? I don't use Windows much if I can avoid it but I'm sure I saw that option somewhere at some stage.
"I've dealt many times with someone complaining they've run out of disk space, then looked in the Recycle bin to find hundreds of thousands of files/folders in there."
But how many times have we seen a story here where the IT bod then goes on to helpfully delete all those files only for the user to ask where the documents from their 'storage' folder went?
You're obviously more conscientious though and tell them what you're going to go, and the consequences, before you empty it.
There is now an option, though i suspect the Exec in the story wouldn't recognise it, Archive is now present.
This happened to someone following an office upgrade, Finance person, who found out that post upgrade the "Empty Recycle Bin on exit" was enabled.
Owing the the rather under spec server setup, no block level backups either. They took it in good grace suggesting the Bin was the correct location after all.
If an exec is capable of "saving" messages in Deleted they're not going to be capable of creating new folders; it's an either/or situation due to a limited supply of brain cells. And even when the new folder is created it doesn't have a handy key such as Del to put it there. You then have to provide a filter to move a message from Inbox to Old messages once it's been read. This is really behaviour that should be part of the client if we're going to break users out of this behaviour.
> It seems a big gap in email clients that there doesn't seem to be anything between Inbox ... and Trash
Um, just create a new folder in the email client? Or one per Important Thing?
Ok, we are talking execs here, so actually *doing* anything, like dragging an email to a folder is beyond them, but...
This is because every 6 month the marketing drones come with change in the interface and menu names that would require rewriting the manuals, so you could just point out to the end-users:
Why are you looking for the Trash bin, it says in our on-line manual that it is the "dustbin of history"? and now we didn't change anything since it was published but for minor typo corrections...
(remember the brouhaha when they changed a few weeks back Azure AD to Microsoft Sorta Idendidy?)
if I hadn't met at least one person who treated the Trash bin as her personal temporary storage space
At one of the many companies I've worked for, our otherwise excellent  Head of HR had this puzzling habit too.. And, when I was fixing her corrupted .pst file, her trash got deleted. She was somewhat miffed!
I did clue her in that stuff stored there was always at risk because the company IT policies might change to auto-clean Trash (which was a bit of a porkie - we didn't have anything even vaguely like a Windows AD domain and certainly nothing like Group Policies).
When I got made redundant she was out on AL and it was handled by one of the HR staff from another office. Who did the 'legal minimum'. When she came back, said HR drone (apparently) got taken down a peg because the Head of HR had a published policy of "anyone who gets made redundant should have the maximum allowed". Which doubled my redundancy.
One of the few HR people that I have profound respect for since she didn't seem to live by the mantra that "HR exists to protect the company from the employees".
I just wish I could say that I have never heard of that before, but...
It seems the more self-important a person is the more bizarre their thought processes become and I have had to re-educate a number of apparently intelligent people that Trash is a baaaad place to keep 'things I need to work on'. The best way to fix this is to enable a process to flush the Trash every night until they get the hint
LOL, and that was Trump's solution to the initial COVID infections ... I don't see a solution to stupidity as performing more stupidity. Yes, I know that happens a lot but it rarely solves anything - a case of bottles of beer would be much more effective ... "Oh look, they have fallen asleep now." LOL.
On the other hand, this was back in the 90's. Anyone in the UK who didn't watch much, if any, TV or went to the cinema for exposure to US TV and films, might not know what "trash" means. The sort of people who are that self-important are more likely to be the "driven" type, workaholics, and spend what spare time they have on the golf course. Few US software programmes were ever properly and fully localised into UK English, and that's still the case today. For that matter, even "recycle bin" wasn't an especially common term outside of Windows95 back then although most people with an ounce of intelligence should probably be able to work out what it means.
hahaha! seriously i have seen people store physical files on top of waste bins by their desks and then get confused/upset when it gets dumped. Equally people also get upset when genuine rubbish isn't removed because they balance it on top of the bin instead of in it, the cleaning staff haven't learned NOT to remove it after the last b0ll0cking they got.
Years ago, after I set up Outlook by GPO to empty the trash folder every night, I found out that our VP of IT kept "all of his important email" in there. We had a good backup system for Exchange back then, so I was able to restore the folder.
I told him to move this data elsewhere, as I was going to re-enable the policy item in a few days.
And by the way, he was the VP of IT with no technical knowledge, and an English degree. His main qualification for the role was that he went to college with the CEO.
"It seems the more self-important a person is the more bizarre their thought processes become"
I'd not say "bizarre", just "uninformed". When they are that self-important, you can't teach them anything, so they just make assumptions and "middle through" anything they don't understand based on that same self-importance that if "the underlings" can do it, then so can they. They only have themselves to blame when it bites them in the bum though, it's their own fault for being "too important" to be shown one-to-one how to do something or attend the company training courses.
I have seen exactly this from "clever" people within institutions of advanced cleverness.
As a colleague once observed "you have to wonder how they get home each night" or indeed how they manage get here each day in the first instance.
Boggles the mind they have never right clicked or whatever and seen "empty trash" - bit of clue but I guess wasted on the clueless and those with the curiosity of house brick.
A young lady I know well worked for a time with the MOD police, wandering around with an automatic pistol and a rifle, providing security at AWE Aldermaston. Occasionally, for a variety of reasons, the main gate would be unavailable for use. Not very often but it did happen from time to time. Most people simply sighed and used one of the other entrances.
She was, however, amazed at some of the allegedly clever scientists whose reaction was "but how an I going to get home?" And making it necessary to have the solution explained to them. Time after time.
Many highly intelligent people are pretty awkward outside their specific field of expertise, like about living life in general.
One of my wife's PhD colleagues once had to take the tube to go to a meeting. She asked around for tube schedules... not maps for directions, mind, she really wanted to know at what time did the tube depart from the U's closest station.
Many highly intelligent people are pretty awkward outside their specific field of expertise, like about living life in general.
Indeed. I think that extra brainspace is used for academic things at the expense of brainspace for real world stuff....like the case of a family acquaintance who was a top maths professor at the university. He flew over to the USA in 1969 to support NASA on the Apollo 11 mission. The trip was organised for him, all he had to do was catch the relevant planes and whatnot. All went well and he turned up at Mission Control as expected....still wearing his carpet slippers.
Many highly intelligent people are pretty awkward outside their specific field of expertise, like about living life in general.
I present to you the example of Trump's Director of Housing and Urban Development, Dr Ben Carson. By all accounts, a brilliant neurosurgeon, but an incompetent, clueless nutcase outside the operating room.
To anyone who has never spent time in London (or, I presume most other major cities), the whole premise of "public transport that's actually there when you need it" is not only alien, but practically incomprehensible.
I've told this story many times. Took eldest (then 17) to London. Now, we live near a reasonably large city elsewhere in the UK and have busses and trains that are reasonably regular, but you do learn the timetable. If I want to catch the bus at the end of the road, during the day it's essentially on the half-hour. Just past o'clock and again 30 minutes later. No point turning up at ten past three; your bum will moan about sitting on that shelf in the shelter for that length of time.
If I take that bus to the station (admittedly, the only place it actually goes) then the trains come every 15 mintues; at five-to, ten past, twenty five past and twenty to the hour. Could be worse; I know one semi-rural location where the local bus comes effectively three times a day. Or is it four now? Can't remember.
Anyway, the story is very simple. Train mad 17 year old was excited to visit one of the major London termini, and even more excited to catch "the tube" across town. Totally amazed at the Oyster card just letting him through the barrier (most of our stations don't even have barriers), and disappointed that when we arrived at the appropriate platform a train had just pulled out.
Eldest started looking for a bench to sit and wait.
I smiled, and about 90 seconds later another train turned up.
Astounded is probably an appropriate word, then "how come we can't have trains like this at home?"
The weirdest thing I had to contend with the tube a few years back (On a return to the UK) was that apparently the Circle Line no longer operates as a continual loop they all go to Baker Street terminate & then go back in the anti clockwise direction*.
This was pointed out to us after watching every circle line train having Baker Street on its headboard for 20 minutes, while waiting to get to Liverpool Street from Paddington.
I used the Underground for years commuting between Devon & Kent & can wholeheartedly agree with the whole "knowing where to stand\board\disembark**" for the next stage of the journey.
There now follows an Ex Mrs Oncoming Scorn Story.
One happy August Bank Holiday Weekend, she had arranged to visit her sister & mother in Essex, I put them on the train at Liverpool Street & continued my journey to Kent with arrangements to meet me on the Friday of the long weekend back at Liverpool Street. I told she with the memory retention of a goldfish repeatedly what time to catch the best trains from Romford to avoid the rush hour on the tube all of which she managed to miss & so after arriving 90 minutes late commented "It's very busy isn't it!".
I was stuck with her, 3 kids & all their bags & forced to take the clockwise route on the circle line rather than the shorter anticlockwise route as the station was packed with eager commuters all wanting to get home. We get to Paddington without me killing her.
Stood on the concourse, full of people, all waiting for their trains I asked her for just one thing.
"When the time comes, please do as I say, please do NOT ask me why, please do not make a fuss, please please please just follow me got that?"
& right on time as per usual the 18.33 from Swansea was 10 minutes late & had terminated on Platform 4.
"Right Let's go"
There then followed (as expected) a stream of complaints, comments, questions all of which I ignored regarding where we were going, why were we walking down Platform 1 (No gates\inspector), our train hasnt been called yet.
When we got to the top of the overbridge alas there was a ticket inspector preventing my usual early boarding of the 18.33 from Swansea, now being prepped as the 19.03 to Penzance it was time to answer her questions (& shes pissed....so am I as she decided to make a big scene instead of being quiet as I asked & theres a inspector preventing us from boarding ahead of the crowds).
Right You see those 4 men on the bridge with us?
We stand here EVERY week to get on this train once its emptied, we have worked out the pattern while the rest of the sheep standing on the concourse haven't & while they are waiting for the gates to open, we have already boarded & stowed our bags. I didnt want to explain that to everyone in earshot in public & lose the advantage of early boarding especially with you, the kids & all the bags.
NOW The minute they announce our train....get down those steps find our carriage third from the front & seats, while I stow the bags.
We still had the majority of the trains length as an less than ideal advantage & managed to get them seated, while I contented with stowing the bags while being jostled by the sheep trying to find their seats, while looking forward to the next weeks journey by myself where I didn't have to worry about any of them.
*I have no idea if this wizard wheeze of an idea is still a thing!
**Friday Night Travel I usually had time to spare, so used to walk across London & depending on my meandearings used to join a tube train at unfamilier stations, but still work out where I needed to stand, based on how many carriages\doors from the front of the train I needed to be for when I got off.
"The weirdest thing I had to contend with the tube a few years back ... was that apparently the Circle Line no longer operates as a continual loop"
Not having visited London for years I couldn't believe it when I saw it. My regular commute when I worked there was from Marylebone or Paddington to Euston so it would have been a big inconvenience. The name's a big clue as to how it should work. I wonder if it was a Boris idea.
I think it was idea from the mtce dept.
If you constantly go clockwise or anti-clockwise then the wear on components gets uneven, so every couple of days they would send the train off to Aldgate East (District/Hamm&City) and back to reverse the direction of travel. Breaking the loop means they don't need to keep track of who is due to visit Aldgate East
When I used the Underground every day (they were our customer), I often raised eyebrows among the tourists by walking along the platform to somewhere non-obvious. Of course I was right by the exit and away, while they were still fighting each other to actually leave the crowded bit of the train.
A proper Underground user can stand up and read a broadsheet newspaper without holding on.
Some route changes are not obvious except to the initiated. One regular trip was from Lambeth North to Cockfosters (where I'd parked my car). Look at the Tube Map and most people would change from the Bakerloo Line to the Piccadilly Line at Piccadilly Circus. Bad move. That involves lots of steps and long walks. Instead, carry on to Oxford Circus. Leave the train and walk 20 feet to the parallel platform for the Victoria Line. On to Finsbury Park, where a similar manoeuvre gets you on a northbound Piccadilly Line train.
the Victoria Line. On to Finsbury Park
And also avoids most of the deepest parts of the Piccadilly line. Was in London last summer and lodging somewhere where the easy option (least walking) was to take the Piccadilly in to town. Hellish in that heat, people swooning and gallons of water consumed. Didn't use it as much, but for a deep line the Bakerloo seemed slightly more comfortable.
"Some route changes are not obvious except to the initiated."
Not being a local, I got my directions from Google Maps, which had me get the train into London, jump on the adjoining Underground for two or three stops, change, go a coiupl more stops an arrive at destination. Checked with hotel staff on arrival and they said, no, stay on the original Underground train to $station, it's closer to $destination and quicker than changing if marginally a longer journey. Looking at the Underground map, there was no way to tell that Google was less useful than local knowledge and neither let you in on the secret of just how long those pedestrian tunnels can be in some places such you emerge back into daylight a half mile or more from the actual station! :-)
One of the more pointless announcements for Londoners is "please move down the platform and use all all available doors"
You stand just *here* because the train will stop with the doors just there, you will have the best chance to get a seat, and when you get off you will be right by the easiest/quickest exit/interchange
I've not actually tried it, but they say that getting on at Leicester Sq station to go to Covent Garden station you actually walk half the distance underground (there are certainly signs pointing out they are so close)
In 1964 I was in the RAF, unmarried, living at RAF Northolt and travelling to work at the Air Ministry via the Central Line (with a free travel pass every 3 months!). It was 24/7 shift work and after a busy night shift it was not unknown for folk like me to get on the tube at Charing Cross, doze off and wake up several hours later at somewhere like Ongar...
-Taking you from where you are not to a place where you do not wish to go. -All at a time which does not fit you!
(At least when you travel between rural locations, and with the assumption that said transportation does not break down halfways)
"Now, we live near a reasonably large city elsewhere in the UK and have busses and trains that are reasonably regular, but you do learn the timetable."
We have one bus an hour to town which takes 40 minutes but if I drive over to another village there are 4 scheduled and it takes 15 minutes so that's what I do." In fact there were 2 companies on the route vying with each other, each apparently with 4 buses an hour. Since COVID although there are still timetables and the displays in the bus shelters tell when the next bus is due the relationship between the display and arrival of buses is random. In fact although the shelter is only a few minutes from the start of the route I've seen the "due in x minutes" message increase the value of x.
Learning the time-table is of no use whatsoever.
* No I'm not going to drive to town and faff around with trying to guess how long a pay and display ticket to buy.
"the whole premise of "public transport that's actually there when you need it" is not only alien, but practically incomprehensible."
I grew up in a small city like you describe, where the buses typically ran every half hour -- peak service was three times an hour. And no local trains at all; only the intercity ones.
When I visited Toronto (with parents as a child, but later on my own), I thought the subways were super cool. Part of that was the novelty of trains running under ground, of course -- and of local trains at all, for that matter -- but another good chunk of my amazement was that I didn't have to even think about schedules. Just show up, and one would be along before I knew it. What a luxury!
Then I moved there after university, and it's where I've lived ever since.
I knew I'd truly become a Torontonian the first time I found myself feeling annoyed by the five-minute wait for the next subway train.
Usually, though in the case of the London Underground, there are parts of the network where knowing the timetable genuinely is useful due to the anything but metro-like nature of the service patterns at certain times of the day - e.g. the furthest flung reaches of the Metropolitan Line. So depending on which station the academic was travelling from, and on how aware they were of the differing service intervals from that station, it may not have been quite as stupid a request as it sounds...
"it may not have been quite as stupid a request as it sounds..."
And if she wasn't from London, or rarely used the Tube then the request would have been perfectly justified. Not all metro/light rail systems have trains arriving every few minutes.
FWIW, the mantra is "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle". This is reuse. Recycle generally means strip down and build new stuff from the metals, glass, wood, plastic etc. I think there really ought to be a fourth term, Refurbish/Renovate, between Reuse and Recycle since that terms can be implied by both Reuse and Recycle, sort of :-)
"Metro services usually run every few minutes, so it's not really necessary to use a timetable. Just turn up at the platform and wait."
If you mean the Tyneside Metro, it depends where you are Trains are every 12 minutes, which can mean on some of the network, every 6 minutes where the routes share the line. There used to 4 "routes" at one time with trains as frequent as every 3-4 minutes in places as there would be a extra "route" that overlapped 100% but only ran back and forth over the busiest stretches, but now there are only two "routes" with an overlap. Mind you, with a 40 year old fleet of trains with an expected lifetime of 20 years, it's not that unusual for a train to not turn up and have to wait 24 minutes, worst case, for a train :-(
London Underground trains do run to timetables. They are just not heavily publicised to hoi polloi / the riff-raff. However, you can find them at TFL: Working Timetables (WTT).
Important: These timetables are made available for rail industry professionals and should not be confused with the passenger version which is available using Journey Planner
A number of workings have recently been removed from the Central Line (WTT 70 Central) to allow the (rather old) rolling stock to be repaired ( See posting on District Dave's Forum*). This reduces the overall capacity and introduced longer delays between certain services. Some services were also recently removed from the Jubilee line in like fashion.
As an example, train 112 has been removed from the Central line WTT. It left Hainault and went back and forth throughout the day, ending up back at Hainault. The rolling stock is not available, so now there's simply a gap in the service when it would have run.
Of course, many things could happen throughout the working day to put the timetable out of whack, but certainly trains are not let out of depots whenever drivers feel like it, and they do try quite hard to keep to the running schedule, even if some days it doesn't seem like it*.
*'District Dave' was a website/blog published by a driver on the District line, which gave insight into the workings, and non-workings, of the UndergrounD.
"She asked around for tube schedules"
OTOH if you were to find yourself in my locality (and we have plenty of tourists, including walkers) you might have an unpleasantly long wait at the bus-stop being unaware that there's only one an hour.
She was, however, amazed at some of the allegedly clever scientists whose reaction was "but how an I going to get home?"
She, of course, had nothing to do all day except wander round the place. The staff who did the actual work had plenty of other things to occupy their minds. Not having wandered around the place all day and had the opportunity to see which gates were locked and which weren't, they might be concerned that if one gate was locked the rest might also be. If she were that bright she might have realised that.
A significant part of my job is setting systems up to prevent people from clicking buttons, entering data or running processes that will cause something to fail spectacularly.
Every time I think I've made it idiot proof, someone comes along and builds a better idiot to prove me wrong.
I can at least content myself with the fact that I seem to have job security...
I have had one courier "store" a parcel of books in my garden water butt. After an hour searching for "your parcel is in your bin" (what gives *you* the right to throw away my parcel??!?!?!?!), I found it bobbing around in 100 litres of water.
OTOH we are quite happy for parcels to go into the green wheelie bin and even suggest it (if we think we'll likely get the same person more than once).
The green bin has a box for paper sitting in the top and even if the parcel goes into the main area it'll just sit on the bottles underneath - quite safe.
Then again, we know that, once a fortnight, there is a risk, but the bins are done hours before any deliveries in these parts (they keep up the Good Old Traditions that it is the bin man's joy to waken you in the morning).
"We've always been jealous of those Cadburys-purple wheelie bins and often wonder what goes in them."
They are for waste chocolate, hence the reduction in collection schedules to "never per year" since they never seem to have anything in them.
"what gives *you* the right to throw away my parcel??!?!?!?!"
Over-reaction much? Or is your "bin" an incinerator? Emptied every hour on the hour?
You would have been a lot happier if he had put in in the bin instead of the water butt!
Of course the rubbish bin is preferable to one full of water, since how frequently do you receive waterproof delivery boxes? Neither is acceptable, though. The delivery person is human, either possesses rubbish bins or knows many who do, and should be trained on where a package can be placed and where it cannot. In the trash is not acceptable. Neither is in a location that will destroy the package. I find it surprising you seem not so concerned by this.
I went away overnight, came back to a red royal mail branded slip saying parcel in the blue bin... Which had been emptied that morning.
Royal mail still claimed it can't have been them and must have been some other courier, despite it being a royal mail branded slip...
You'd also expect the Postie who delivers the same route everyday to know when bin collections days are too. Possibly with the odd exceptions when the regular Postie is on holiday, or a new starter begins a route, or maybe the Xmas rush when the "holiday staff" are employed.
"Exchange server needed restoring to get it back."
You missed a trick there! You should have told him that restoring the server would lose everything sent or received since that backup was taken and you'd need a new server to resore to so as to copy off just his "lost" email :-) That's be at least the minimum response from any true BOFH.
Calling it a recycle bin is just Microsoft stupidity.
Or just the best they could come up that wasn't "Trash", "Bin", or anything else used by OSes that got there first. I agree that is an open door to Mr. and Mrs. Cockup and all of their children.
You do NOT want to teach people that it is possible to recover deleted files! Because there would undoubtedly be one idiot who will feel like they can delete anything at any time and ask for it to be recovered well past the short window where recovery might still be possible.
I never had to deal with that, but in a long ago job at a university there was one professor who seemed to treat deletion as a temporary thing, as he was constantly asking for stuff to be restored from backup. To be fair he did consume a lot of storage across a huge number of files, and he was probably doing us a favor by attempting to delete anything he thought he would never need again. Some others never deleted anything, and were regularly asking for quota increases. They readily admitted they would never need most of their files ever again, but they were "too busy" to go through them and clean up storage.
I learned after buying the first array and creating a massive /home that was only about 25% full that tipping your hand about how much storage was available was a very bad idea. When it was replaced I would only allocate enough space to create a /home that's about 80% full, and expand the filesystem in small increments so that it was always in the 80-85% range. That seemed to shame enough of them into cleanup rather than requesting quota increases that the second array lasted far longer than the first (beyond my employment there, in fact)
After the first array I also developed a system that "taxed" all NSF grants that purchased computer equipment for network/storage/backup infrastructure, which prevented having to go to the department heads and see them all argue that it wasn't their department that was using all the space it was someone else and they should be the one forking over money from their budget for upgrades/expansion. Nevermind that someone with a million dollar grant that was mostly buying exotic Silicon Graphics hardware might use a fraction of the storage of someone with a small grant that bought one workstation, the faculty never complained about it.
Recycling is for things you want to reprocess later, not for stuff you want to discard
Yes, we break down your email so all the ones go over here and all the zeroes go over there. If you want your email back we can give you the requisite number of zeroes and ones but you'll have to knit them back into the email yourself.
"Recycling is for things you want to reprocess later, not for stuff you want to discard"
If I put something in the recycling bin at home I have no more expectation of ever getting said thing back once the bin has been emptied than I would if I'd put it in the normal bin instead, so why would my expectations be different just because the bin in question is sitting on my PC desktop rather than in the corner of the kitchen?
You put some paper documents in the recycling bin, and you won't be seeing them again once they are retrieved. By the time the phrase was there, people had those bins and understood that items discarded there were no more available later on than items placed in other bins, if a bit easier to retrieve in the very short term. Nothing is wrong with the analogy. A user could figure out what was meant by thinking about what the system did for five minutes or by following the analogy thoroughly (the contents are available until it is emptied and not thereafter).
I have seen users where every email is in the inbox in one case over 25000 of them - complained it was slow to start.
But going back to my desktop support days (years ago) the users who used the desktop as the storage area always made me wonder what they thought it was for. I admit to using it as a temporary holding area but for long term storage not practical in my view.
My current boss had over 40,000 emails last time he complained of email slowness, 2 weeks ago. When I told him that was the problem he told me he only had about 1,000. When I pointed out that was the count of his unread emails he went from confused to surprised to sheepish in about 2 seconds. I’m sure that number has grown since then. Mind you, I set all of the users emails to delete anything over 2 years old automatically (we are required to keep documentation for 2 years)
multiple applications open at the same time is another. A Boffin at the lab I worked at used to have so many applications open that his task bar was full of application tabs, ame boffin NEVER rebooted his PC but then would complain when it ran slow. We did explain to him many times but just got "well that's how I work" answer. Ok well don't bleedy moan its slow then! We always took great joy in if he called about an issue we would always tell him to restart his PC first just out of buggerment! ;o)
"but just got "well that's how I work" answer."
Well, to be fair, assuming it was Windows, that's part of how MS advertise themselves. Windows, working the way you work. Of cousre, those of us in IT know that what it REALLY means is Windows, work the way we allow you to, YOU must change to suit OUR ever-changing workflows :-)
That comment got me wondering...
When email first came on the scene, the whole 'inbox' thing was a metaphor for the In/Pending/Out trays that people had on their desks. Just letting stuff physically pile up in the In tray just wasn't a thing (except for the occasional really disorganised bod)
Now time has passed, and the physical In tray isn't around anymore, have people just generally lost that mentality of keeping the inbox tidy?
No, the metaphor broke down, and email ended up scaling to a level that paper never could. After taking something from the in tray, you'd have to read it and put it somewhere else because, if you put it back into the in tray, you wouldn't know for sure which items in it you had read and which ones you had not. Email tracks that, so the inbox became a mix between the in tray and the surface of the desk, the stuff you were planning to work with today, or soon, probably, let's see.
Of course, the quantity of email that was sent also meant that people could have significantly more cluttered desktops than they could with paper, and the find features meant they could actually manage with that. That doesn't make it the most organized, but if you receive enough emails, it can be difficult to create a good self-managed organization system for all of it. My approach where my inbox stays relatively short but I have a few archive folders is not much different. Sure, my in tray and desktop are clean, but there's a big stack of papers somewhere that I occasionally refer to when it becomes necessary. The really important ones are stored elsewhere, but in case someone asks for something that I received recently, I should be able to locate it quickly enough because everyone is of the belief that I should be reading the things they send me, even when I don't need to.
Back in the days when computers were for head office and you could have a 'job for life', I had a boss who was so useless he would go through his in tray, highlight the important words (like 'asynchronous' when ADSL because the new big thing) with a highlighter (different colour for each day of the week, smart thinking!)... then put them straight back in the in tray
After a year or so having to manage around him, he was finally moved on (no idea what happened or where he went) and we finally had a chance to go through the in tray and discover all the things we had missed out on or were supposed to have agreed to because other managers had knowingly included "no need to reply if you agree" at the bottom. In the pile were a number of personal letter from his boss, pointing out he was a useless so-and-so and that he should never have been given a staff to manage, that he had not even thought to hide
(he came to us because his old dept was being closed down, so they promoted everybody to the next grade without thinking if they were suitable for management or if a technical/admin grade was more suitable)
I had a boss who would take the pending unread paperwork in his in-tray each Friday evening, and dump it in the wastebasket. His view was that anything important would be re-sent. I'm pretty certain that when the office transitioned to email (this was a long time ago) he did the same with emails.
> Just letting stuff physically pile up in the In tray just wasn't a thing (except for the occasional really disorganised bod)
I had a manager who had the most recent on his desk whilst the table in front had four files stretching away from him, the oldest being furthest away. When his disk pile got to be he just dumped that oldest one and shuffled then all by one position.
His logic was that if someone was not screaming for something in the last pile by the time it got there, then it was irrelevant and no longer needed.
More recently had a director whose philosophy was that if you were just cc'd then it was not relevant to them and could be deleted!
His logic was that if someone was not screaming for something in the last pile by the time it got there, then it was irrelevant and no longer needed.
"That contract from eight years ago that we're going to sue about. Everybody says you had it last..."
Sometimes stuff is never too old to be irrelevant.
"That contract from eight years ago that we're going to sue about. Everybody says you had it last..."
Sometimes stuff is never too old to be irrelevant.
Mmm. Yes. People using email as a filing/archive system.
I understand why, of course. Looking for the same eight-year old contract in the rat's nest that is poorly administered Sharepoint* leads to madness. Is it <document-name>-final-version, <document-name>-version-2.7, Copy of <document-name>-final-version(updated), or <document-name>-Freds-copy that was the one sent over to the customer?
The developers had code management systems. The administrators used bizarre local naming 'conventions'.
*Other new! improved! marketing names are available
"have people just generally lost that mentality of keeping the inbox tidy?"
Yes. The absence of that pending tray is part of the problem.
Email clients are apparently built by people who have never worked with physical mail. In the past a busy exec would probably have had a PA or secretary who would systematically file mail that needed to be kept. A large bureaucracy might have a registry dedicated to the task. Now we have email clients designed by supposedly clever people which ought to be able to automate all that but which can't even manage the basics.
Email clients can handle that if you set up rules, but people don't bother to do it. The secretary might have a better understanding of how to file things, but that requires a lot of knowledge about the content of mails that nobody wants to train into their mail clients. However, if you keep a massive archive folder, the client is very capable of giving you all the messages sent with a subject line from a certain set of people in a specific time period, which is more than the paper-based archives could often do.
Anyone who wants can set up folders and drop mail into them. It is not the fault of client writers that people don't do that. All of the features that people who used paper mail had and needed are available in the software, but most are unused, maybe because they're no more convenient and most of us don't have another person onto whom we can pawn off the work.
"but most are unused, maybe because they're no more convenient and most of us don't have another person onto whom we can pawn off the work."
Most people can muddle up a half decent manual/physical filing system that works, at least for them. Setting up rules in a mail client is "technical" and a job for the IT experts :-)
No, it's not. People don't need much technical knowledge to use the three-step Outlook rules function, which walks them through a lot. They're not as powerful as other rules someone might use, but they're perfectly capable of doing some automatic tasks. I've known people without IT knowledge who figured that out without assistance, so I know it can be done.
Sure, more complex handling isn't as easy. There was a time when I set up message rules which used regular expressions on message subject and body (don't ask), and that I wouldn't expect everyone to do, but the more straightforward rules do not require any particular knowledge.
I have seen users where every email is in the inbox in one case over 25000 of them
I run a mail server for the extended family + friends and get disk occupancy reports every month. My niece currently has 37k mails in her inbox. A friend has only 600 in his inbox, but has >26k in Junk plus 1k in Trash. Users usering as only users can.
Had a former colleague who stored important emails in "Drafts", for no clearly explained reason. All was fine until we did a migratoin from on-prem Exchange to Google Mail - as in this story, certain folders weren't transferred to save time, especially as the transfer had to be done over Christmas as this was the only time you could guarantee 48 - 72 hours of downtime. Cue this person kicking off that we'd lost his critical information from years of working there.
Cue this person kicking off that we'd lost his critical information from years of working there
When I worked at a certain bat-winged cellular base station manufacturer we had foisted on us  a thoroughly unpleasant  senior manager who was given a token job to ensure that Mot^W BWCBSM didn't have to sack him.
We had a *strict* policy (direct from the Head of our tentacle of BWCBSM) that end-users were, under *no* circumstances allowed to install their own software (this was in the days where locking down the Windows laptops just wasn't possible). Also, there was a directory (C:\Data springs to mind) where people were told to put anything they wanted to save if the laptop had to be re-imaged.
Said deeply unpleasant manager managed to install a bunch of stuff (some finance/tax programme that saved its data into their profile but could be programmed to save it to the \Data directory but, being the ignorant  cretin that he was, hadn't bothered. He'd also installed a bunch of other stuff (and some porn) but the final straw was that he installed AOL which, of course, ensured that our 'dial-in-the-office' system never worked again.
Cue, the following day, him screaming at us about incompetence  and demanding that we fix it *immediately* because he was a VP. So, being the senior, I did it and fairly quickly worked out why. I tried uninstalling AOL but it must have left stuff behind because our dialler, even when the setting were reloaded, still didn't work.
So I formally went to him to inform him that his machine, as per policy, would require re-imaging and that only stuff in the C:\Data directory would be saved and transferred to the newly re-imaged laptop. He formally assured us that he hadn't saved anything anywhere else.
So we rebuilt it, everything worked so we were happy to give the machine back. Only for him to have a screaming fit at us an hour or so later because all his financial data was gone.
At which point (I was already looking to leave) I raised a formal complaint about him, his breaches of the company standards *and* his behaviour towards us. Fortunately, I got on well with both the IT director and the SVP in charge of the site. So he quickly got shuffled to another site abroad. Where, apparently, after about a month, the site staff went to their director and gave an ultimatum - either he went or the whole site would resign en-masse.
At which point he was ejected - to everyones great delight.
 They had a policy of never making senior management redundant or, absent of gross negligence, sacking them. Over the few years we were these we had a number of them foisted on us, pitchforked into roles essentially created for them.
 He regularly made his secretary cry by screaming and shouting at her in his office. Since the walls were only thin partitions, all the people around could hear him clearly, effing and blinding at her. But, because she refused to formally complain, nothing could be done. I seem to recall that she was a single mother and she was petrifiedd of losing her job.
 He was the poster child for "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" While he was there, he had the highest IT ticket count of the whole site and they were mostly as the result of him fiddling with settings.
 That was his default insult. Which was amusing considering his only skill seemed to be upsetting people or screwing up IT.
It looks like I'm not alone.. on several occasions in the distant past I had the same problem, employees storing important emails in the Deleted Items folder in Exchange, which of course is the sort of thing you purge first when their measly on-prem mailbox quota was exceeded. They had apparently been "told" to do it, but when pressed they couldn't say by whom or why. My guess is that they didn't know how to create their own folders. They didn't like it when I asked if they kept all their important paper files in the physical waste bin either. "Of course not, why would I do that?"
I'm glad I don't work in user support any more..
They had apparently been "told" to do it, but when pressed they couldn't say by whom or why.
They probably train each other to do that. The email client doesn't provide any options other than Inbox and Trash or, as someone said above, Drafts. Maybe some use Sent - that probably would get restored in migrations so doesn't become part of support stories.
I remember at some point hearing there was a quota bug in Exchange or GroupWise that meant messages in the "Trash" or "Deleted" folders didn't count towards any mailbox quotas.
Could be they were told it would allow them to store more stuff, and it became Tribal Knowledge, passed down through the ages?
Or just called "deleted". With the explanation, if required, that it gives them a second chance if stuff is deleted by accident.
(Precisely what it is meant for, of course).
"Trash" has a slight degree of ambiguity ( a very slight degree) in that it can be used to mean "all the annoying stuff that I don't know what to do with".
Similar happened to me with another (now huge) multinational retailer around the turn of the century. To save some disk space we decided to put a retention of 30 days on emails in the Trash folder. Judging by the howls a month later, I reckon at least 10% of staff were using the Trash folder as their primary email archive. The explanation was "it's easy just to click delete to move it out of the Inbox".
Dragging the disc to trash was - obviously - how you eject a disc on a Mac.
If your hard drives contents were just being shredded you should have sent it back as faulty and demanded a replacement where the gas-powered platter ejection was working properly.
 patent held by Q, c/o HMG: "One swish and all your cares are gone" (tm)
The only experience that I remember with OS/2 was deleting the mouse driver. I can't remember how, or if, I fixed it, but I vividly remember how I deleted it: having selected the icon on the screen I intended to press Return (or Enter, whatever), but instead I managed to fat-finger Delete followed a split-second later by Return. Just enough time to form the memory of the "Are you sure you want to delete this?" dialog, with the default being "Yes" X-(
To be fair, this is to some degree the fault of the people who wrote the email program. The "move email to the trash" workflow is so central in email programs that it has its own button (delete). This is very useful, especially if you're not quite sure how to do a mass-select or a drag'n'drop. If the delete key instead moved emails to an autocreated "Already Read" folder, I guarantee there would be no issue.
Or maybe use the Return key for "I've read this" (oh look, it already does! so does the space bar) and if you also want it moved to another folder pop that into a macro?
Ok, order your peon to "pop that into a macro".
Keep the delete key for, um, setting things aside "to be deleted".
Hey, maybe that is an answer? Just (get your sysop) to rename "deleted" as "to be deleted".
 on this mail client at least, yours may differ - bit naff if it does!
How many companies have training for the users of their IT systems? There are two aspects - basic OS, mail, etc. and specific IT policies and I've never worked anywhere that does it. I've seen ethics training, inclusivity training, micro-agression training, working at heights, commercial and email/internet security, but never basic IT. Companies seem to assume that everyone understands Windows, Outlook, etc. and that just sending a "don't store stuff on the C: drive" memo is enough to make sure that people understand and comply with company data management procedures. You wouldn't give someone a company car without making sure they were fit to drive so why would you give them a computer without making sure they were able to use it safely and securely?
Even proper training is sometimes not enough. Let us rewind to the 1980s ....
A mainframe system had been developed which replaced a hitherto manual writing and stored-paper based workflow. This was a major culture change for a workforce that has Always Done Things This Way so off site training was arranged to introduce all the staff to the new way of working. Hotels and booze were always a good way to inculcate a positive feeling about the new terminals and the death of pen on paper
All went well and the workforce whizzed through work like a hot knife through butter. We were delighted that the system performed well against all metrics, including a sub-second response time which was a metric that was always smashed, except in one office, where the response times were truly dismal.
This office sat at the end of a CO3 line which should have been more than adequate. Stats were gathered, traces were put in place. All the underlying figures looked good but the traffic was unexpectedly spiky. A visit was planned to the office to check out the local installation of the comms kit. Back came our comms guy with a huge smile on his face.
All the staff had been on the same training course. As they sat in the class room they would fill in the TP screen with data, then, on the instruction of the trainer, hit the "Enter" button at the same time. This was what they trained to do and this is what they took back to the office with them. As the worked they would fill their screen then check with all their colleagues to see if they has a screen-full too - "Are you ready Carol? Brian? Kate? Colin?" - and when they all had a screen full, and only then, they all hit "Enter" at the same time.
The CO3 line which had been polling with no return for several minutes was now flooded with data and did what it could but didn't do it very quickly.
"But it's how we did it in training ...".
Response times soon normalised and an anecdote was born.
My wife works for a medical device company who currently spends several days a week running clinics in hospitals. The standard of admin staff in the NHS is SHOCKING it makes her job so much more difficult as they employ utter idiots! Her latest story involving at a very large hospital in the SW is one of the best. Patient notes for the clinic are held on shelving units in alphabetical order (can be several hundred patients per clinic), they have 2 youngish members of staff (early 20's) and they have had to put a printed copy of the alphabet on the shelves! AND they STILL don't get that the concept of alphabetical order also extends beyond the first letter of the surname! so Harris would be before Hosken on the H shelf!
When I was working in the Drawing Office of a large manufacturing company, HR sent us a new trainee to be trained as our Filing Clerk. Each of the major types of product we produced were allocated a specific filing system, and the filing systems were in separate filing cabinets (A0 size drawers to take our largest sheets). After she had been with us only a few days, it became obvious that she was completely innumerate, and had stirred the contents of each cabinet to such an extent that no-one could find anything. We sent her back to HR, who complained that we were being overly picky, so we had to get them to come and see the carnage she had wrought. They next moved her to the Mail Room, but it only took her a week to trash their system as well.
She was then moved to the Catering Department, but whenever she entered the shop floor with the tea trolley, all production ceased as the machinists and fitters stood and ogled this exotic creature that had suddenly appeared in their midst. Finally, she was deployed to push her tea trolley around the Front Office, where the staff were mainly female, and she did not have such a disruptive effect.
She was still happily pushing her tea trolley around the office block when I left three years later.
> You wouldn't give someone a company car without making sure they were fit to drive so why would you give them a computer without making sure they were able to use it safely and securely?
Car? Start by checking they have a driving licence.
Computer? Strange, IIRC there was much derision around these parts when the idea for the ECDL was announced, yet here we are today...
You wouldn't go to a doctor who wasn't a member of their professional association (the British Medical Association in the UK)
You wouldn't go to an accountant who wasn't a member of their professional association (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in the UK + 3 others)
You wouldn't go to a surveyor who wasn't a member of their professional association (the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in the UK)
Getting chartered status means that this person has achieved the highest standards in their profession, can be trusted under their code of ethics and has to perform continual professional development and demonstrate continued competence to keep their status.
So why do we allow computing/IT people to work without proper professional training and Chartered status? e.g. BCS (CITP), IET (CEng), EUR ING, CSci
Anonymous as so many of you reading this work in computing/IT, have no chartered status, be just avoiding a 'Who Me' situation on a regular basis, and will be launching your very best vitriol towards this suggestion.
I was chartered through the IET. All it meant was that I'd fiilled some forms in in 1991 and carried on paying my £200 a year. CPD was bollocks - I went to local talks on steam trains, formula one aero design, sewage works, ship propeller design, canal restoration, seed sorting and one where a bloke showed us the equivalent of his holiday snaps from his time with the British Antarctic survey with zero technical content. Every one of them of them counted towards my CPD as an RF design engineer, as far as the IET were concerned.
Other professional institutions might relate to that stuff about achievement, professionalism, etc. but the IET just want your money and give you nothing back for it except the free coffee at Savoy house. I've never worked for an organization or seen an advert that pays more for engineers with CEng. MIET. after their name.
Not every certification has value, and many of them exist either to enrich the certifying authority or to restrict the number of people who can do a task. This includes fields like computing and engineering where you can't just certify that I can do computer work; there are far too many subtypes of them, some of which I have skills in, a few of which, if I say it myself, I have particularly strong experience in, and many of which I've never done and could not do without spending some time learning how. Even that doesn't help, because there are some where that learning would be short (there are programming languages I don't know, but I have learned a lot of fundamental concepts and can write in a large collection, so learning another is pretty fast), and some where that does not apply (I do not write blockchain software, and I have not bothered with many of the proofs that have gone into them, so if you want a new cryptocurrency, I won't be able to give you a good one quickly).
There are ways to present qualifications in various fields on paper. Computing is no exception; there are educational papers which can be and are used to determine some level of experience. However, as people here can testify, you can know what you are doing without a degree and you can know what you're doing without having taken someone's certification test.
The poster who suggested that we should all get certification wasn't talking about users. They were talking about us. They basically said that, without certification, there was no way to determine whether we were competent and predicted that we would rapidly make incompetent mistakes in our work. I was responding to that, which is a more computing-related claim.
"without proper professional training "
You mean they haven't paid 'certificates'. Also, 'engineer' is way too high level for for most IT jobs, you don't put an MSc to install plumbing either.
Most of the lower levels of education simply does not exist (or didn't exist until 00s-10s), so you simply can't have 'professional training': There's no-one providing it.
Compare that to all of your examples which have had chartered status hundred(s) of years.
And yet, someone has to run the systems, 'training' or no.
Also, maybe there's too wide a spread in disciplines and sub disciplines? Would there need to be certifications for "programmer" covering various languages? Which ones? What about someone specialising in financial systems? Are they competent to go work on machine learning/AI? Or developing Physics/Biology simulators? I suspect any form of certification would leave many people needing to acquire paperwork they don't need and isn't relevant to their job but which at some employers would very quickly demand as a condition of employment.
But, getting back to the article and comments re users not knowing or not being trained because they are expected to already know, that's a huge problem. Being "experienced" in using Office, for example, is far, far from being competent in using Office. Using a tool poorly, incorrectly or being ignorant of what it is capable of for years, makes you legitimately "experienced, but definitely not competent and that applies all the way from the lowliest users to the highest level admins and/or devs. The real difference comes in the persons attitude and level of curiosity, assuming their job allows them time to explore, chat with colleagues, ask for help etc.
I was PM for a project which was doing construction on a large commercial site . I got a call from the site manager one afternoon to tell me that a contractor had hurt himself and it was reportable. I asked how and was told that he was in hospital. He'd been putting light bulbs in a corridor by standing on a low step ladder (about 5 steps). "He's not allowed step ladders" I said. "Good answer", said the site manager "how do you know?. I knew because I'd signed the site safety plan which I'd paid an H&S contractor a shit-load of money to write and I'd read it carefully before signing it. I did this because under UK H&S legislation I could have been held personally responsible for safety. Up until this day I too poo-pooed the sillier side of "H&S gone mad".
The contractor fell off a step about 2 feet off the ground. He broke his hip and his wrist and was in hospital and of off work for months. His insurance didn't pay out because he was breaking the rules. His doctor explained to me that falling from lower heights can result in worse injuries than falling from higher because the reflexes get less time to respond before you hit the ground. We were in the clear cos the contractor had attended the daily toolbox talks and was reminded daily of the working at height rules and he's signed off that he'd read the site safety plan - so he knew that he should have used a scaff tower with a colleague but was in a hurry to get home so he used the little ladder he had in the boot of his car.
I worked on a site involving a requirement to measure the flow in a river. This involved ultra-sonic senders/detectors at various heights in a section of the river and required a survey of the profile to get the placing correct. The contractor produced a very detailed plan of how they were going to measure the profile by a precise procedure involving personnel on both sides of the river. The river was tidal so timing was important and an emergency, rescue-boat would be made available on the day. The banks of the river were duly cleared of undergrowth and a clear path created together with tethers for life-lines. Each member of the team was briefed and it was clear that the squad were well-prepared. The river level had to be within certain limits and the weather forecast clear, with no rain in the previous week.
On the agreed day the process was again discussed, agreed and questions resolved. Everyone was happy. PPE was extensive and verified; each 'doer' had a 'minder'.
Well, the first thing they brought out was an inflatable boat and a paddle....
"Hang on. There's no boat in the procedure."
"We thought it would be easier."
The process was abandoned as they re-wrote the procedure to include a boat, its launching and recovery. Which then had to be agreed by all involved.
"you have a good point. We even waste time and money on step ladder training! I mean how have I lived to 52 without knowing how to use a step ladder!"
Indemnity. If you fall off after having done the "training", the company is either off the hook or at least less on the hook than otherwise.
Nope - it's because the most common cause of fatal injury on construction sites is falling from height and among those, falling from ladders is the biggest cause and the major reason is the "I don't need training on how to use a bloody ladder" attitude. Most of the sites I worked on banned ladders of any kind unless they were permanently fixed to something solid - and then the only place I ever saw them were inside scaffolding.
Training is only one of the means use to mitigate against problems like this and whilst it might protect your liability to the individual it doesn't necessarily get you off the hook with HSE. You can do all the training in the world but if your supervision is crap or there's not enough kit or enough people or massive pressure to get stuff done - or just a poor safety culture - then HSE can still come after the both the company and the individuals responsible for management - and in the UK these are criminal offences.
You raise a valid point, but having worked for an organisation that provided regular training in the use of office computers and applications, this is how it worked in practice:
The good sensible users (some of whom were in senior management) would make the time to attend the training - even though they were not the ones who really needed it. The attendees would often provide positive feedback, saying how they had picked up some new skills and tricks and this woukd save them time in their jobs. Things like someone who used MS Word all day, churning out 100 page long papers. Prior to the training they would create a page break by presssing <Enter> 20 times to get to the next page. Discovering “Insert Page Break” was a revelation.
The people who really, desperately needed the training - often senior management - would consistently fail to attend, stating that they were “too busy”. Strangely, they were never too busy to generate an endless stream of help desk tickets for trivial dumb user problems that would not have happened if they had attended the training.
I.T. are supposed to account for idiocy in the users , especially in the old days when "I'm not a computer person" had some sort of validity.
Migrating user data in a "new OS" situation is akin to "moving house" , you have to check under the mattresses and everywhere else if the user id not present
and then not burn the old house down before confirming with the owner everything is present at new location.
... which the guy in this story did - by keeping old hard drives , a luxury not always afforded due to budget.
It might not be idiocy, senior manglement like politicians have the skill set to achive the position they now occupy so storing documents in trash* might be a smart move in some circumstances.
*because they don't get backed up and it's one click to vaporize them should the need arise.
Well, if they're politicians, they're in their position. They had the skills to get there, even if those skills are no use to what they pretend they're there to do. They may also lack the skills to do what they wanted to do for themselves having achieved their position. Still, they had a goal of getting elected and they managed it, so they were successful in that particular achievement.
Anyone who uses the "deleted items" folder (what it's called in my corporate outlook incarnation) for storage deserves what they get. But it probably doesn't help that it isn't really deleted items (if it was anything going there would immediately disappear forever) but instead it looks pretty much like any other folder and actually works better. I can even create subfolders in it for goodness sake and a single keypress sends things to it once I've read them.
Using a pre IT times analogy, it's like every other filling cabinet in the office except for the handwritten label on the front. Once someone realises that it never gets emptied, has near infinite storage capacity and even has a special magic spell to move stuff to it instantly that no other filling cabinet has (the delete key), is it any wonder that people ignore the label on the front and just use this magic cabinet instead?
"it isn't really deleted items (if it was anything going there would immediately disappear forever)"
Maybe it should. After all, in most mail systems, even if the user empties the bin/trash whatever, it's only gone from their mailbox. Corporate policy for arse covering and/or local jurisdiction regulations will probably require archiving of all emails for some mandated length of time, usually at least a couple of years, often 7 or more, maybe even "in perpetuity" in some cases.
@Lazlo Woodbine: “A surprising number of people seem to use the trash / recycle bin as a storage location. I've no idea why any remotely sensible person would do this, but people do.”
To save space, like the Windows “trainer” who used install applications to the Recycle Bin, to save space :o
I wonder if that was always the case. Of course, if you know the internal path to that file, you can still run things that are in there, but I doubt that's what they were doing because that level of knowledge about OS internals combined with that level of stupidity about OS basics doesn't make sense to me.
> That can't possibly work
Oh yes it can, on the early versions of Windows.
> Recycle bin contents are still reported as used disk space.
In the world view of the average executive the recycle bin occupies a different place in the space-time continum. Same mentality that asks you to retrive an email they sent in mistake.
> You can't run files in the recycle bin.
Oh yes you can, until the harddrive runs out of space and the OS starts to recover the space.
> I wonder if that was always the case. Of course, if you know the internal path to that file, you can still run things that are in there, but I doubt that's what they were doing because that level of knowledge about OS internals combined with that level of stupidity about OS basics doesn't make sense to me.
Drag-and-drop the app folder into the recycle bin, simples.
If you try to run an executable from the recycle bin in modern Windows, it won't let you. It won't let you open any files from the GUI. You can do it from the C:\$Recycle.Bin folder if you figure out the paths, but that would seem complex enough to prevent the average person who doesn't understand that. In older Windows versions, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that it worked differently, which might be why you can't just open files from there anymore.
"I've no idea why any remotely sensible person would do this"
The only options the email client provides are usually the Inbox, the Sent folder and Deleted, none of which are appropriate. The more appropriate question is what remotely sensible developer would produce an application like that.
The kind of developer who assumes users see the new folder button and understand what it does, or since it's been there since the first GUI mail clients, have read the manual which would have explained it thoroughly. They could provide other default folders, but the best organization system will be created when the user decides on their own folders. The three ones included by default are the bare minimum, not the suggested set.
The email system may have already had a backup somewhere, but that wasn't guaranteed. When space was more limited, and indeed still today in some places, backups are limited to specific places where data is supposed to be, hence why people are told to store important files on network shares or roaming profiles instead of local directories on their computers. It's possible that the deleted items folders on the server were not fully kept but that people kept local copies of things the server had already deleted. Either way, the special backup procedure makes sense for this because, if there was a larger problem with the new software image, the old disk could simply be replaced to return the machine to its old state, something that a routine backup system wouldn't have done.
" people are told to store important files on network shares or roaming profiles instead of local directories on their computers"
Yup, especially when people use a lot of laptops which aren't even connected to anything when backup runs: Everything important has to be in network share or in the document management system.
Email-server is backed up, but none of the local folders in the laptops.
No-one installs anything in a corporate environment, it takes a whole day to install OS and basic applications.
Instead you've a disc image which has everything needed installed and configured and you just copy that from server to fresh drive, add the user and files from a backup.
If only the desktop designers had added a safe as well as a bin, using a picture of a strongly built, secure looking model then so much of this could have been prevented. With tooltip help, and an explanation in the "Welcome to your new OS quick tour" thing saying "This is where you can securely put those really important files, and guarantee not to lose them".
It would be implemented as just a hidden directory, but would save a hell of a lot of hassle.
I just have this sneaking suspicion that the exec may not have been quite as clueless as assumed. In that he stored all his "most important messages" in the trash so if the company were ever sued and he was forced to turn over emails, people wouldn't likely go looking in that specific folder, and if he should delete everything in there, who would question someone deleting files in the trash folder?
"who would question someone deleting files in the trash folder?"
See "The Intel Defence". When sued for monopoly abuse, long time ago, they couldn't find any evidence of that because Intel had their mailing systems destroying anything over 6 months. Also keeping local email was a firing offence.
AFAIK that hasn't changed. That's how you avoid getting convicted.
Back in the early 00s, I was maintaining Linux on ATMs for a large bank. One day, I noticed that the /tmp clearing policy wasn't being set correctly, so I changed the flag that would clear it at every boot. Lo and behold, I get an angry call the next week claiming that I broke all the cash dispensers. It turns out that the ATM app would store the STATE of all the cash bins in... /tmp. As in, how many $100 bills are left in bin 2, how many $50 bills are in bin 3, etc. They also used /tmp to store sockets used for communicating with the cash dispenser and other peripherals, which were promptly deleted.
So, after many failed attempts to explain that /tmp is, er, TEMPORARY, they ordered that /tmp must not be erased...
Presumably these Linux boxes were servers, not PCs that get shut down every night - or even more regularly than that. The contents of /tmp are not unimportant but the application would be expected to manage its temporary files. Also, a proper shutdown procedure would signal the application to shutdown and give it time to do so. However in the event of an unplanned shutdown it would be important not to clear /tmp because the files in there might need to be recovered.
Paranoia is a requirement for a DBA or any server admin. Managing a server is not the same as managing a PC.
I've had almost exactly that conversation, email after email was sent warning users that their company's SBS 2000 Exchange store was near or at limit, that they needed to archive off old email, save attachments, delete joke videos, pictures etc. they were asked to 'sign and acknowledge' that they'd read and understood before I 'took action' and enforced a purge of deleted items, oversized emails etc.
The Monday after the purge my frst phone call was from the MD's son who 'lost all his work in progress emails' that he'd decided to store in the trash, he was threatening all sorts of repercussions including invoking daddy.
I simply emailed his signed acknowledgement back to him and his dad before charging them an exorbitant rate to restore from backup.
... and don't have to deal with this level of idiocy any more.
Oh, and it seems to help when dealing with the ( much smaller ) user community that I support these days. They get Linux Mint on their systems, or they find another sucker to provide ( free ) support.
XFCE desktop with Thunar file manager: Folder named "Trash" that has icon of a deskside rubbish can ( yeah, it does have the 3-arrow recycle icon on it )
Evolution email client: Same as previous line ( hmm ...... wonder exactly how THAT came to pass ........ but I digress )
Thunderbird: Folder named "Trash" that has icon of an old-fashioned galvanized steel rubbish can ( complete with lid )
Gmail: Same as Thunderbird
If any of my users have had issues similar to those discussed here, they SOMEHOW have enough sense to avoid coming to me to whine and cry about it. Therefore, these days my "support" activities are pretty much minimum stress, and this is accomplished with pretty minimal training for some non-IT savvy users.
"pretty minimal training for some non-IT savvy users."
They are generally the best to support because they are far more likely to ask for help if they don't understand something. It's the ones with a little knowledge who are dangerous, the ones who plough on regardless because they "know" what they are doing and have managed like that for years :-)
I prefer keyboard over mouse and it was great when I first discovered opt-cmd-backspace in Mac Mail, which bypasses the bins and deletes straight away and is great for junk and all that other stuff you get that can go straight to hell. The problem is that it got into my muscle memory and pretty soon I was defaulting to deleting everything like that. After losing a couple of important mails I had to re-learn things a bit.
This is such a problem that Microsoft has added a secondary bin. When you delete from deleted items you can still go in to this secondary bin to recover it.
The problem is that when you go to the main deleted items folder on the web it puts a notification banner at the top to click on to access the secondary one. Instead of hiding it from the user and forcing them to go via the IT department if they want to fuck with that folder...
One of my colleagues had a habit of if anyone gave him some confidential paper work, after he had locked his desk, he would put it in the bin. The security guards who checked the clean desk policy never looked in the bin. He was always first in the office, before the cleaners, so just got the documents out of the bin.
I don't like these kinds of stories because they are hearsay and intended only for self-aggrandizement. It is not just IT, it rears its ugly head in lots of fields. In medicine for example a doctor will present an impossible case with a superior diagnosis that he or she alone was intelligent enough to discover and thus saved the patient's life where every other doctor would fail. I had a case like that. A 30-year-old male came to the Emergency Department in the Hospital with hematuria. He reported that he had flank pain the evening prior but none on presentation. Any doctor will tell you that this is probably a kidney stone that has passed and hematuria is a common day-after symptom. A physical exam showed no abdominal tenderness and no flank pain. So what did I do? I ordered a CT scan of the abdomen to see if the stone had moved to the bladder or was caught in the ureter. The gold standard and much cheaper approach would have been to order an IVP which would competently show the progression of a renal stone through the kidney to the bladder.
The radiologist called me and told me the patient had a red hot appendix. So we took him into surgery. Did that make me a great physician surgeon, smarter than all my peers? No, because it was just dumb luck and the kind of case that brings nightmares years later. It possessed the likelihood of an absolute medical malpractice screw-up. As for ordering a CT scan for no pain or trauma is regarded as poor utilization. Dumb luck, not a "smarter than anybody else doctor", saved this patient's life. I know of cases where the acute appy was missed and the patient died. In fact, I know one case where the patient went to the Emergency Department twice over two days and was sent home where he died that evening. That patient was 40 years old with a surviving wife and two children. And this chap had mild abdominal pain.
The stories that the SUPER DOCTOR gets published through letters to journals to feel big and important, do not instill confidence in the profession. And as for doctors laughing at patients that are laypersons, that's bad form and only done by the lowest of creatures that crawl into medicine. There are some that do it but most doctors find such conduct repugnant to the profession.
So now comes the IT War Story... where the Boss, the founder of the company is portrayed as a moron and genius IT, saves the day by careful planning and adjusting to the needs of the stupid man, the Company founder. We won't go into the grand number of companies the IT founded. No, instead we are expected to laugh along with the supercilious at the phrase, "I need my trash." One must denigrate the Founder as a clown in order to raise the IT's flag of superior intelligence. Save the fact the founder was intelligent enough to found a company and give the IT a job.
These war stories about how stupid everyone else is should be flown under the Banner "How Great Thou Are." Then you would have your self-proclaimed super-intelligent hyenas, feeding themselves with grandiosity and more reinforcement of how smart you are and how stupid everyone else is. A lovely way to start the morning with a lot of self-puffery.
You either act professionally or you don't. But with each war story of how Great Thou Are, you denigrate your own profession. And you look small when you laugh at others; it is a pitiful trait.
You worked in medicine and don't recognise the value of gallows humour?
Go back and READ the comments. See how many are from people who have been put into the position of having to deal with this sort of behaviour, from people in superior positions? Positions that often involve bullying the staff with calls of incompetence?
These forums allow us a safe space to blow off steam, without identifying and damaging the guilty parties on either side.
If you are so inept in the medical fields and so utterly up your own arse that you are incapable of comprehending the value of what happens here, then I call YOUR professional abilities into question.
I sincerely hope that you have never been in a position where you were in charge of and expected to provide leadership to any other people.
Yes, these stories are a bit of self-aggrandizement. I won't deny it. They're not really meant as a representative anecdote of every support call we've ever received. I'll point out that we have another column here which is about tech staff messing up themselves, even though the stories are often a bit simple (people don't want to publish the time when they completely broke something massive and it couldn't be recovered the same way a doctor probably isn't happy to relive the time they didn't think of something and the patient died a painful and preventable death), but we discuss those as well. These stories are something that we can enjoy, however, because we have all had to deal with similar problems in support requests, often from people who did not follow instructions or got angry at the person solving their problem.
I have never worked near medicine, so I can't give examples of the stories told there, but I think you may be misinterpreting the stories you describe from doctors. Those stories of a life saved in a tricky situation aren't saying "I was smarter than everyone else because I'm great". They're telling an uplifting story about a positive outcome which was unusual; stories of patients with an obvious situation which was successfully resolved are routine, and patients where they had something obscure and died from it are sad and probably similarly common, but stories of successfully beating the affliction of the patient reminds doctors that they can succeed and make their patients' lives better even in difficult circumstances. While I can't know what is in the doctor's mind when they tell such a story, the general one you've described fits as well with "I succeeded and you can too" as with "I'm better than you".
The IT-themed stories don't have the same character, possibly because we've all had to deal with support cases like this. You have, unfortunately, made up some facts in order to incorrectly characterize the response. For example, you start to praise the founder for building a business which could hire the IT person. I'll point out that there are many founders of businesses that don't actually know what they're doing and use others' money to pay their IT people, and I'll also point out that the article didn't say founder. It said "One of the top three execs in the UK office". Now executives always have the chance to have built their career from something useful, but not necessarily. It's akin to telling you that every director in a hospital in which you've worked must be better because how many hospitals have you directed and the director was intelligent enough to be able to pay you. If you've never found an administrator who didn't understand something or took a bad approach, then I'm happy for you, but pretty much everyone I've met has experienced such a thing at some point. We don't always blame the user for things they do wrong; about two hours ago, I was complaining with my colleagues that our software is generating an error message which is confusing users and that their mistaken actions are entirely our fault until we improve it. That is not representative of every user error we see, and the stories we tell will reflect that experience.
This particular story is a recurrent one. It will turn up every so often in every Who Me, On Call or any other IT forum and, if you've read the comments, you'll see that the articles that prompt it are only the tip of the iceberg as commentards will add there own experiences.
You'll also find a few of us complaining that email clients are to blame for poor design; personally I'd like to think that some day someone working on Thunderbird, Outlook or whatever would read such a thread and undertake a bit of introspection.
However it does provide a bit of light relief to read of someone who's bullied their way to the top get a bit of comeuppance for failing to have picked up a few working skills along the way.
I disagree. I've already posted my response to their comment, which takes issue with many of their points, but I think their view is understandable and deserves an accurate response. I think they posted what they did out of a misunderstanding of how the user-IT relationship often works, possibly missing something common in their own profession, and not knowing the ways their response struck us as insulting based on a very incorrect interpretation. I don't think it was meant as trolling.
As such, I think it is useful for us to explain how this story fits into the normal pace of IT work, or in my case user interaction with the results of my programming. This might help them to understand why we think that a reaction toward a user is very different than a reaction toward a patient. They may disagree with us at the end, but I hope they will at least understand more about our views than they did when they started. My attempt was posted above, and I suggest that we engage this kind of response rather than virtual killfile it.
I recall exactly the same type of thing.
One or two people in the same branch office decided they were super important and kept current emails in their trash, as there was a desktop icon that took them straight there.
A software update, mandatory one, that auto purged the Trash every 30 days.
So , off we go as an I T double team to see said important persons.
Asking them where they keep their important paper files.
Did they keep them in the waste paper bin ?
Oh no they reply. As a cleaner empties it daily. . absolutely right we say. So why would you think the Trash folder is any different ?
Brains whirling away.
Penny drops. Then looks of horror on their faces.
Don't worry we say, we can try and 'recover' them.
We didnt, but we did create Important and Archived folders for them. Then left them to sort their individual emails into those folders.
That same week an internal memo went out, on paper, saying Do Not Use The Trash Folder on your desktops or email to keep anything you actually need.
It then went on to state that every time a user logged out, the Trash would be emptied.
Seemed to work, we never had thise issues again. But perhaps it was that we made those 2 new folders part of the default install....
I was on an upgrade project for (leading Auditor type company, based in canary wharfe many years ago) and one of the more physically enhanced & 3/4 blind blonde PA's for 3 senior Partners had done that exact same thing.
The only difference was they decided to go with a software upgrade and not a hardware replacement one.
the blond kept everything in the trash folder, like over 6gb of data there, like absolutely everything....
it wasn't helped her massive CRT monitor was set to some obscure refresh rate and zoom level that could blind anyone normal sighted person who tried to use it.
so between fighting her off the PC and constantly having to reset the screen settings to prevent the techie (contractors) from going blind, this crucial bit of incompetence of the PA was missed.
suffice to say shit hit fan after the backup and reinstall of new OS and data, to find the process automatically cleaned the trash folder out.
upon completion the partners kicked off that all their shared data was missing and their own tech support were dropped in it as they had to tell the partners that the process was a cluster fuck as they hadnt anticipated the utter incompetence of their staff (including Partners) in messing around with file security settings of outlooks giant 2GB archives (thanks to some windows magazine they picked up in a whsmiths at the train station, making suggestions on how to secure email archives) and holding all the data in the trash folder, which exchange servers did not back up...
All the contractors were kicked off site and blamed for the disaster and the site support took a reputation hit even though they had tried to design the process so that the contractors would catch shit for when it failed.
Ahh.. The joys of outsourcing the migration project to a 3rd party company.
We did a migration from email downloaded to Outlook via pop3 to Google Workspace. The easiest way to do this at the time was using a google sync tool. This allowed the emails to sync and the end user to still use Outlook for email. Everything went well until 30 days later when google workspace automatically deletes emails in trash and we found out dozens of people would use trash as an archive of their emails.
My answer was do you put your clothes in a wardrobe or do you put them in black bags and store them in the bin cupboard still expecting them to be there the next day?
I had a high ranking police officer (Chief Superintendant) phone me asking that I provide paper and toner for their printer because the stuff we provided at installation had run out. When I explained that he should order it from wherever he got his other office supplies he freaked out and said that it was our responsibility as we provided the printer. I was later informed by officers working under him that he was in the job as his force had "promoted" hime sideways to get him out of the way of real work as he was such an arsehole!