back to article You don't get what you don't pay for, but nobody is paid enough to be abused

Here at The Register we don't guarantee much – other than that every Friday morning will feature a new installment of On Call, our weekly column featuring readers' stories of supplying support services and the sometimes-savage response to their efforts. This week, meet a reader we'll Regomize* as "Doug" who once worked in head …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

    I just love it when you can shut the trap of a stupid manager mouthing off like that. Good on Doug, and kudos for being prepared.

    1. UCAP Silver badge

      Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

      The rule I use is very simple: "If its not written down, it does not exist". Strict application has kept my tail-feathers out of the soup many times.

      1. blackcat Silver badge

        Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

        An ex-boss used to complain that I should use email less and 'just go and talk to people' as it is 'quicker'. Until someone tries to stitch you up!

        ALWAYS have requests and decisions in writing :)

        1. Dave K

          Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

          Hear, hear!

          Even if I do speak to someone in person or over the phone for anything like this, I will always request a written follow-up. On the off-chance anyone complains, the standard answer is "It's procedure that we must have written approval for audit purposes".

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

            At the very least I always go for the "here's what we just discusses, if I misunderstood something then let me know" email. That way they can't blame me if I misunderstood something (or more accurately, it turns out they were talking bollocks) and I have proof of what I was told.

        2. CorwinX Bronze badge

          Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

          Sorry... fat fingers... Accidentally did a down vote unstead of a big thumbs up. Can't find a way to reverse it.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

            "Can't find a way to reverse it."

            Hit the up button.

          2. herman Silver badge

            Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

            Just do an upvote immediately. That will reverse it.

          3. HuBo
            Devil

            Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

            Turn it off, and then back on again. That should do it!

      2. Evil Auditor Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

        If only some of my auditees demonstrated the same understanding...

        1. Zoopy

          Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

          She's an auditor! Burn her!

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

        Strict application has kept my tail-feathers out of the soup many times

        I too maintain a CYA file..

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      4. G.Y.

        Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

        "Anything not documented is a rumor"

      5. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

        It's a bit of a strange scenario for me. A change of this nature is going to require a ticket to be raised, then a change request in response. to the ticket. The CR will require a couple of approvers.

        If in doubt, raise a ticket.

        Read all these comments and no mention of a change control process of any kind, but I don't know of any serious organisation not using ITIL or something resembling ITIL.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

          Obviously you've no experience of a small business owned by its directors. They make stuff up as they go along.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

            “small business” doesn’t really fit the description of the organisation in this story.

            1. Hazmoid

              Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

              actually I have worked for some very large businesses that still have a small business mindset when it comes to IT (do it as fast and cheap as possible, nevermind the consequences)

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

              You'd be surprised how many large industrial sites are like this

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

      Back in my 9-5 career, I very much enjoyed thwacking manglement over the head (individually or collectively) with large piles of wet-ink paper-trail.

      Until I discovered that I could make a lot more money doing the exact same thing as a consultant, with absolutely no danger of getting fired.

      It's amazing how heavy even a signed post-it can feel when wielded appropriately.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

      I just love it when you can shut the trap of a stupid manager

      I've found that telling managers that they are wrong is a career-limiting move, even when they are wrong.

      1. Martin
        Happy

        Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

        I've found that telling managers that they are wrong is a career-limiting move, even when they are wrong.

        It may well be a job-limiting move. But it looks good at the next interview when you're asked that question "How did you deal with a difficult situation?"

      2. David Newall

        Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

        Hmm, I find the opposite. I find telling it how it is, even when it is disappointing, is appreciated.

        I once was asked to look at an emergency paging system for a company. They sold it to hospitals. I found that made no attempt to discover if the button press was seen by the server. I told the board that would not do. Their chief engineer said they'd never had a problem, and I said he must have meant "that he knew of", and that this was for a hospital, so a failure could become a very expensive death.

        Not wanting a gunfight with the engineer, the board moved on to another of their products, software of some kind. I don't recall what I found wrong with that but I do remember saying that it, too, needed to be fixed.

        The chairman said that I couldn't say all of their products were crap (his actual words) and I said that I could if they were crap, and that as that were, it was my job to tell him so.

        My company was awarded the contract to fix everything.

        Not at all career limiting.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

        More career limiting for them than you, if done (with proof) in front of witnesses

        ALWAYS have witnesses. Most business hierarchy is like fascism - internal conflict and competition at every level, resulting in anyone looking "weak" likely to find someone else's knife sticking out of their back - especially if it results in a promotion opportunity for the wielder

    4. Colin Miller

      Abigail oath

      This rather reminds me of Abigail's Oath, which I think was named after a member of the Scary Devil Monastery, who was forced out of her job. It goes

      I am hired because I know what I am doing, not because I will do whatever I am told is a good idea. This might cost me bonuses, raises, promotions and may even label me as “undesirable” by places I don’t want to work at anyway, but I don’t care. I will not compromise my own principles and judgement without putting up a fight. Of course, I won’t always win, and I will sometimes be forced to do things I don’t agree with, but if I am my objections will be known, and if I am shown to be right and problems later develop, I will shout “I told you so!” repeatedly, laugh hysterically, and do a small dance or jig as appropriate to my heritage

      However, I'm struggling to find the original

    5. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: "Actually, this is precisely the service you paid for"

      My experience is that they ignore it and keep ranting

  2. Catkin Silver badge

    Problematic pattern recognition

    I've found myself wishing for a new boss a couple of times in my life because their pattern recognition is oddly acute when it suits them. They notice my habit of, when asked for an opinion that may save my bacon down the road, I offer to email it for ease of review. If this works out in my favour (but not theirs) a few too many times, some have sneakily offered to 'save me the trouble' of typing it out.

    Tip: if someone is offering to 'save you the trouble' of putting things in writing by deflecting to a quick chat, a quick written summary ("in case you forgot to mention" something) can neuter their gambit.

    1. Julian 8

      Re: Problematic pattern recognition

      quick chat - teams, skype,slack, etc................ and print

    2. Sam not the Viking Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Problematic pattern recognition

      I've mostly been fortunate in having bosses who didn't argue on technical matters. Generally they've been pleased to have someone making recommendations/suggestions on technical improvements. The 'costs' always raised eyebrows but if it didn't I'd be worried. However, the 'summary' email after a meeting has always been used to record the agreed conclusions, whether they were agreed or not....

      On the other hand, the 'difficult' boss, who had all the words but poor understanding, took to shouting, berating and ignoring experienced technical input. So he issued stupid stupid instructions to 'save' costs which always turned out to be more expensive when they had to be rectified as 'someone else got it wrong'.

      I'm well out of that scenario (----> ). Not long later, and after a lot of other resignations, he also moved on as his cock-ups caught up with him and he had lost anyone else to blame. But he is one of those dangers that you need to know where it is located.

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: Problematic pattern recognition

        I had a... cow-orker.. who was proud of his ignorance in terms of data analysis.

        Yup, this fell back on him.

        We had told him so: two statistical physics PhDs, an MSc (statistics), an MSc (biostatistics) and an MSc (meteorology).

        Boy, felt good... :D

        (one of us told him by email: this is exactly what we discussed last year - and yes, all five of us do remember, and this is the fix we told you about, "in case you forgot")

        (I admit he has great organisational skills, but other... shortcomings, thankfully he is now more in an admin role in a different part of the company)

        1. Spanners Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Problematic pattern recognition

          I had a... cow-orker..

          Is it Delbert who referred to them as cow-irkers?

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Problematic pattern recognition

            Cow orker is a (fortuitous?) mispleling from Usenet, first seen in the late 1980s.

            Scott Adams stole "borrowed" it for the strip.

      2. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: Problematic pattern recognition

        But he is one of those dangers that you need to know where it is located.

        Sounds like a possible new product: Stupid-seeking GPS.

        Although, come to think of it, better have a very large server for managing the overwhelming amount of raw input such a device might have to process...

    3. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Problematic pattern recognition

      Tip: if someone is offering to 'save you the trouble' of putting things in writing by deflecting to a quick chat, a quick written summary ("in case you forgot to mention" something) can neuter their gambit.

      That's why WFH is so much better, because you'll have a record of these quick chats (if done in writing) and you can always record your boss and then transcribe what he or she said.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Problematic pattern recognition

        "That's why WFH is so much better, because you'll have a record of these quick chats (if done in writing) and you can always record your boss and then transcribe what he or she said."

        And, possibly one of the reasons some companies are now back tracking on the "permanent" WFH and/or enforcing being "in the office" for some minimum number of days per week now.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Problematic pattern recognition

          Its more likely that they have office space leased and they have to justify those lease payments.

          1. TheBruce

            Re: Problematic pattern recognition

            More like they are leasing office space from a company that is owned by them.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Problematic pattern recognition

            The leasing market went into freefall over the pandemic because many companies simply abandoned their leases with WFH working so well or paid the early termination fees and got out

            Many of those stuck with leases they couldn't terminate simply ended up subletting the premises to other companies. Several london banks and finance houses were already subletting entire floors prior to Covid and simply expanded the operation.

            There's at least 3 Gherkin's worth of unoccupied space across the London Financial district and it's increasing every day (Wework was soaking up a lot of it but we all know what's happening to them)

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Problematic pattern recognition

        "record your boss and then transcribe what he or she said"

        Don't bother transcribing. What's uttered in their own voice is much more convincing.

        1. Spanners Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: Problematic pattern recognition

          Is recording stuff like this legal?

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Problematic pattern recognition

            Is recording stuff like this legal?

            In most jurisdictions I am aware of, recording by one (or more) of the participants is legal, even if not mentioned. Recording by a non-participant without a warrant is illegal in most jurisdictions. But even if it happens to be illegal where you are, the very worst they can do is fire you, which is what would have happened anyway if you didn't have the recording to use in the situation that you needed it. And with a recording you have the satisfaction of taking down the miscreant with you.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Problematic pattern recognition

              Unless you can take shorthand whilst taking part in the conversation you'll have to record it in order to transcribe it. OK, maybe speech to text could be used; that raises an interesting question - does it count as recording?

              1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                Re: Problematic pattern recognition

                Taking shorthand (or using transcription) leaves you open to accusation of being less than completely truthful, something you can avoid with a voice recording.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Problematic pattern recognition

          Transcribing gives an opportunity for them to deny having ever said it, before you produce the recording (I know of several people who would then go on to deny the denial, etc)

      3. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Problematic pattern recognition

        It's completely unrelated to WFH. If they want to avoid a paper trail, they'll do a voice or video call if they can't have a physical meeting. Either way, there will be no recording unless you make one, and you can make one if it's in person just as easily as if it's online. It's not hard to turn on your phone's voice recorder before having a meeting in person if you decide you need to. I know that you like remote working, but ascribing benefits it doesn't actually have doesn't really help make that argument.

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: Problematic pattern recognition

          Nope, 'cuz then you can "forget" they mentioned that during the call and then ask where the email is.

          I had a manager that refused to email or any other paper trail. Phone calls only, and I'd ask several times for an email. Then I'd "forget" if it was something not quite kosher.

          He eventually got fired. But he never once sent me an email.

          And here, it's iffy to record phone calls because of the patchwork of state laws forbidding and/or allowing it.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Problematic pattern recognition

            Of course, but my point was that working remotely or in person makes no difference to that situation, since you can record with equal ease in those situations if you've decided to do so. It may not always be the best idea, but if you're worried about recording, remote working is no guarantee that it will come in writing. Our friend elsergiovolador is a major adherent of remote working, but I'm afraid it leads to attempts to praise it whether deserved or not.

            1. Richard 12 Silver badge

              Re: Problematic pattern recognition

              It is a lot more difficult to record "in person" meetings, due to various legal and company policy reasons.

              This state of affairs won't last, of course.

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                Re: Problematic pattern recognition

                Any legal or policy reasons will apply equally well to recording in person or remotely. If you need consent from all parties to record where you are, that applies whether there's a computer in the middle or not. If the policy says you don't do it when we're talking about the dodgy stuff, it says that no matter how the company does it. If you're going to ignore those things and do it anyway, then it comes down to the ability to make the recording, which is in most cases easy. If you are not going to do it, then you are back to trying to get things in writing. Where you are located is unrelated to this.

              2. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

                Re: Problematic pattern recognition

                Really? All the places I've worked make it plain on the entry doors that entry costitutes acceptance that you will be recorded, as do all company phones. They may MEAN that only they are allowed to record, but once the notification is given, anyone can record because - you gave authorization to be recorded.

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Problematic pattern recognition

            Assuming "here" is the USA - if you're in a one party state then you can record. If the participants are in different states then federal one party laws apply.

            If you're in a two party state, then arrange to have the call routed interstate so that federal law applies

            California is the only state which tries to supercede federal law on this - but it has has never been tested

            For manglers like you've mentioned, an email summarising points of the call "in order to ensure sychronisation" is a very good idea

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Problematic pattern recognition

      By all means, have the "quick chat" to thrash out details, then go away, write them down, email a copy with "this is what we discussed, do you agree that what is written down is what is to be done?"

      This one has saved my bacon with a "challenging" client only this week.

      (AC because I'm posting on work time, and, to guard against the unlikely event they are trying to work out my identity to give me a bollocking for it.)

  3. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Oh absolutely, and the contrast between them screaming and ranting, and you quietly and calmly producing the evidence doesn't go unnoticed.

  4. WanderingHaggis

    Paper / email trails sadly can be necessary

    I had a similar experience where I was blamed for seriously delaying a project. Fortunately I had had a bad feeling about the whole thing and was careful to document and save emails which I was able to produce to show I'd been chasing the third part for months and had fulfilled my side of things. Sad that you have to do this but it can save you a lot of grief.

  5. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    is 10x $$$ normal?

    Just thinking aloud .....

    Is 10x home broadband the normal rate for "properly managed leased line" ?

    and how much quicker would that be fixed ?

    If it was the UK would we still be waiting for Openreach (if physical line fault) ?

    Could this company have paid for 9 more phone line installations (as a one off ) and then had 10 separate consumer grade connections (from different providers) and 10x the speed and resiliance?

    #devilsadvocaat

    1. Calum Morrison

      Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

      With consumer broadband, they'd likely then have just had ten lines out of action and ten routers needlessly consuming power in a cupboard somewhere.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

        "and ten routers needlessly consuming power in a cupboard somewhere."

        The skinflint manglement probably insisted on those being the ISP's routers. In that case they could be remotely managed at the whim of the ISP. Been there with my home router the one time I used the ISP's box instead of my own. I needed to make some changes to the DHCP pool I'd set up & found that since the last set-up they'd locked local management.

        1. Marty McFly Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

          My ISP's router sees precisely one internal device - the WAN port on my firewall.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

        Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

        My home provider (Verizon FIOS) supplies the fiber and the ONT. I do the rest. It has been very reliable. Would never go back to Comcast.

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

      In other parts of the world they don't have the infrastructure/service provider segmentation we have here. If ProviderA wants to provide service somewhere, they need to install the wires.

      Mines tend to be somewhat remote, so I imagine the install fees would be quite high.

      Openreach have different SLAs available to ISPs. Business grade connections are prioritised higher than residential. Leased lines are even higher. Yes, you'd still be "waiting for openreach" but that wait would be a lot shorter.

      If it were 10 separate ISPs on the openreach infrastructure, there would be one cable fault taking out the whole bundle. That is not resilience.

      Also, openreach aren't the only game in town; they're just the most well known and most widely deployed. If you're prepared to pay, there are lots of providers who have their own infrastructure that they can roll out to you. The fee may well be in the £millions though.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

        "there are lots of providers who have their own infrastructure that they can roll out to you."

        Most of the time they just buy a leased circuit from Openreach - which interposes them between you and Openreach for Openreach faults

        Let's just say it's "suboptimal at the best of times" and leave it at that....

    3. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

      From our own experience you get a leased gigabit fibre line from £600-750 + VAT per month depending on where in Scotland. So about 10-40 times the cost of domestic connections.

      The difference is it is 1Gbit/sec, not "up to" and there are not "fair use" provisions. Basically if you get "gigabit" domestic fibre it is "up to 900Mbit" but typically shared with 31 others (maybe more) on a passively split/multiplexed GPON network, so your peak-time speeds could be as low as 28 Mbit. Unlikely to be that low, but that is worst-case.

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

        In England I can get 1Gb for £75 pcm. But shush, don't tell the provider as they don't know I use it for work.

        1. Victor Ludorum

          Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

          But do you get a business grade SLA?

        2. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

          VM In England should be £45 for 1.13Gb/s but with slow up speed.

          1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

            Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

            Also VM have been throttling VPN traffic. Not sure if only on "domestic" or not, but it is a factor that is very different from true leased lines where you have no restrictions on type or volume of traffic.

      2. ChipsforBreakfast

        Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

        £600 - £750 for 1Gb/sec - that's on the expensive side unless you are looking at fully redundant connection with failover.

        I'm typically seeing between £350 & £450 for 1Gb/sec with wholesale considerably lower than that if you have the volume to qualify for it.

        GPON is a lot less and a real contender in the SME market, at least for now, although it remains to be seen what will happen once the contention ratios start to bite.

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

          We are looking at arse-end-of-nowhere sites, so competition is limited. However, it has been a year or so since last quote so maybe prices have dropped a bit. What is curious is how practically all provided don't offer a price on their site, it is all by quotation!

      3. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

        Let alone the PING times are so much better on such installations. Usually they are at the limit of the speed of light in fibre optic by the distance, at worst one millisecond more. That this at 1 MBit up to 10 GBit.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

        Fun fact. All leased line providers oversubscribe their leased line bearers, or at least the 8-10 different providers I've worked at do, including big ones. Generally speaking this isn't a problem as most of the customers on said bearers don't even come close to using what they've bought.

        The SLAs do make some difference in terms of being the squeakiest of wheels but no amount of SLA sabre rattling will make that fibre break at the bottom of a building site hole miles from anywhere get fixed faster, but you might get hourly updates!

        1. Duncan10101

          Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

          Hey, you said it was fun!! :(

    4. Korev Silver badge

      Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

      If it was the UK would we still be waiting for Openreach (if physical line fault) ?

      Could this company have paid for 9 more phone line installations (as a one off ) and then had 10 separate consumer grade connections (from different providers) and 10x the speed and resiliance?

      I guess in this case they'd all go through the same exchange and/or roadside cabinet so would be vulnerable to the lot going down at once

      1. Richard Pennington 1

        Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

        10 consumer grade lines. One JCB.

    5. Jon 37

      Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

      OpenReach will fix a leased line fiber fault within 5 hours. Or at least that's the SLA, and they take it seriously.

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

        And if there is an SLA, there are penalties attached. And yes, you can drag them into court...

      2. rafff

        Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

        "OpenReach will fix a leased line fiber fault within 5 hours. Or at least that's the SLA, and they take it seriously."

        Because the managers lose their bonus, not because of corporate accountability.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

          The two are not entirely disconnected.

    6. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

      Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

      There aren't ten different physical providers.

      If you're lucky you might find three using different infrastructure (e.g. fibre, ADSL, co-ax cable), but I doubt they'll terminate in the same address.

      All the multitude of "providers" are, are resellers selling you access to the same length of copper between you and the local BT exchange, or access to their length of fibre / coax. 10 separate BT lines would all come from the same street cabinet, all be in the same bundle, and all go to the same cabinet in the same exchange, so would almost certainly all suffer the same fault at the same time.

      1. collinsl Bronze badge

        Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

        Depends - the phone network is all BT (apart from those bundled with Virgin Media's co-ax cables) but there are now several fibre providers in some regions (mainly cities) plus VM on cable.

    7. NXM Silver badge

      Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

      In my village a lorry driver forgot to put the handbrake on and his lorry demolished BT's cabinet. The entire village was off phones and broadband for weeks, so having more lines wouldn't have helped!

    8. markdiss76

      Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

      On a true 1:1 leased line you have the option to get fully symmetric bandwidth as well, so 1Gig down and 1Gig up. If this was a head office and satellite offices/remote works connect to it that makes a whole WORLD of difference. In comparison a true FTTP consumer line will be something in the order of 1Gbps down and 100Mbps up.

    9. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

      Well, I can't say anything about where it happened or when, but what I can say is that there was a bank in Luxembourg whose leased line went down.

      Cue absolute batshit panic everywhere and red-hot phone lines to get it solved.

      I don't know how much the bank was paying for the line, but I heard that every hour it was down cost that bank over $100 million.

      The line was back up in a quarter of an hour. I don't think 10X the cost of broadband was a serious issue.

      1. FirstTangoInParis Bronze badge

        Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

        I don't know how much the bank was paying for the line, but I heard that every hour it was down cost that bank over $100 million.

        The line was back up in a quarter of an hour. I don't think 10X the cost of broadband was a serious issue.

        Well that’s the thing. I’ve found you have to talk manglement language to them, which means reducing everything to money. Don’t bother talking technical. The repair time might be X, but how much money is that going to cost you in hourly rate and lost time/business. Usually gets the attention it needs, but sometimes that backfires.

        Many years back there was moaning about spending 50k per year on paper. I calculated we were spending 5x that on colour toner. Almost overnight the printers were switched to mono by default, but this is false economy since most people actually want colour, and finding a mono print just wastes 10 minutes or so to work out how to get colour (that’s about £15 in time).

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

          "I calculated we were spending 5x that on colour toner"

          I did a similiar calculation plus worked it out on the basis of the printer fleet

          It turned out the loudest moaners about costs were using the most expensive printers. (50 times the cost of big workgroup printers, despite being "cheap to buy") and a general order went out to the procurement folk to prohibit individual staffers ordering printer ink/toner/printers

          It didn't fully stop the madness but forcing the most profligate users onto large workgroup printers reduced costs (300 page jobs on inkjets are a tad silly) and after 2011 we found that printer use started declining rapidly (and is still declining) thanks to widespread availablity of smartphones/tablets

    10. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

      1: yes

      2: in our experience, No (especially if a 3rd party like Virgin are involved - in which case it can be significantly WORSE than home broadband restoration SLA)

      3: yes

      4: no. most of the time the fault is in the last mile (cable) or the uplink to ISPs from the telco head end. Either way breaks everything at once and the added complexity of arranging reliable service/VPNs

      across multiple IPs for any given endpoint is not to be sneezed at (it becomes a failure point all by itself)

  6. Filippo Silver badge

    Every friday I'm slightly astonished at reading On Call, with the bosses berating an employee in public out of the blue.

    Nevermind that they're wrong, because this is On Call, but even when they are right - when has that attitude ever made a situation better?

    Do they stop for even a second to ask themselves what the problem is with the employee and how to address it effectively, or do they just do what the lizard brain says?

    1. Bebu Silver badge
      Windows

      what the lizard brain says?

      Unfair to lizards which are fully functional living creatures adapted to their environment.

      More like a pithed toad in my opinion. From memory the heart still beats but that is about it.

    2. ColinPa

      People say things

      1) To be helpful

      2) To be sociable

      3) To let it out, and ease their frustration - also known as passing the monkey (https://www.pocketbook.co.uk/blog/2018/03/27/monkey-management/)

    3. heyrick Silver badge
      Mushroom

      They're miserable sociopathic bastards, and the only pleasure they have in life is dragging others down to their level of misery.

      So expect them to handle situations with the tact of a Molotov cocktail thrown at a huge tank full of azidoazide azide floating in a cushion of highly pressurised liquid hydrogen (icon because...).

      Accordingly, apologies are rare. Indignation and a desire for petty revenge is often the usual follow-up.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        azidoazide azide

        I'm not even a chemist but since learning of that substance the name still makes the hairs on my neck stand up.

        (For anyone that wants to learn more about way too much nitrogen crammed into a single molecule: the ever fantastic Things I won't work with blog

        Edit: another one for your careful perusal: <a href='https://www.science.org/content/blog-post/things-i-won-t-work-hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane>Hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane</a> a compound that can be stabilized by mixing it with TNT!!

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: azidoazide azide

          I accidentally a ' in that last link:

          Hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane

          1. David 132 Silver badge

            Re: azidoazide azide

            Upvoted, and upvoted the correction too, just because you referenced the ever-wonderful Things I Won’t Work With blog. His FOOF piece was a modern classic.

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: azidoazide azide

              FOOF was also my first association.

            2. imanidiot Silver badge

              Re: azidoazide azide

              Things I won't work with: Dioxygendifluorite. A classic indeed

        2. Outski

          Re: azidoazide azide

          I haven't studied chemistry since O-level, but reading that first piece reminded me that things with 'nitro' and 'tetra' in their names should be avoided by a long distance.

        3. John PM Chappell

          Re: azidoazide azide

          Azides are bad news ... so aye, definitely not one to go anywhere nears.

        4. stiine Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: azidoazide azide

          SciShow did an episode about chemicals like that one here:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckSoDW2-wrc

        5. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Re: azidoazide azide

          WTF dangerous stuff is this! Just READING the second link makes me nervous.

        6. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: azidoazide azide

          Reminds me of the book "Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants" by John D. Clark:

          http://www.sciencemadness.org/library/books/ignition.pdf

      2. Shooter

        azidoazide azide...

        Sounds like something one might order at an Italian ristorante.

        "I'll have the lasagna, with an azide of azidoazide, please."

    4. werdsmith Silver badge

      I think there is no small amount of embellishment / fiction involved in most On-Call pieces.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Alternatively bosses' presence in On Call is due to self-selection.

  7. Bebu Silver badge
    Windows

    On the other hand...

    This prat of a director is undeservedly fortunate in not having employed the BOFH as his mindless rant would surely have resulted a richly deserved introduction into the not so gentle art of defenestration.

    Never fails to amaze just how insanely mean (cheap) that otherwise extremely profitable enterprises can be when provisioning mission critical services.

    Even junior miners are normally in the $billion league.

    1. RockBurner

      Re: On the other hand...

      "Never fails to amaze just how insanely mean (cheap) that otherwise extremely profitable enterprises can be when provisioning mission critical services"

      How else do you think they become "extremely profitable"?

  8. Mark White

    Resilience and redundancy

    Reminds me of a story of my Dad's...

    He was setting up a call center so ordered two lines in with one being the backup in case anything happened to the first.

    All went well until some digging work was happening in the car park. One scoop later, all comms went out in the building... both lines were cut in one go.

    IIRC the result after a lot of shouting was fees refunded and a new line put in by the provider to the other side of the building at no extra cost.

    1. ColinPa

      Re: Resilience and redundancy

      I heard of a company in France had two offices one in the east, and one in the west.

      They ordered two networks - one to the north, one to the south. They only touched at the offices.

      The French telecoms company "optimised" its networks. It routed both networks onto the new central backbone.

      Of course the central backbone failed - it cost the telecoms company a fortune.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: Resilience and redundancy

        It happened to the bank I worked, when Euronext changed their connectivity they set up connections to market members using two different telecom providers.

        There where two connections to Euronext's datacenters, and two connection to the bank's datacenters - but in the middle (connecting France and the Netherlands to Spain and Portugal) there was just one backbone which, inevitably, happened to fail.

        Fortunately (?) all market members lost connectivity, so there was no advantage of any of the local banks regarding the others - we all had to resort to brokers located outside Iberia.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Resilience and redundancy

        I remember a story of a major US finance company ordering fractional E1 circuits (with ISDN backup) from their UK main and standby DCs down to Goonhilly earth station. They ordered diverse routing so the circuits ended up in separate Comms rooms at Goonhilly, they could be patched to different birds to hop across the pond...

        After a spare of both circuits going down at the same time (luckily ISDN kicked in successfully) it was discovered that both circuits had been routed over the same link between Plymouth and Goonhilly! At some point the 'diverse routing' flag had fallen off and as the network self-healed after a failure they both ended up routing over the same link at Plymouth, so subsequent failures could knock out both circuits at the same time

      3. hplasm
        Facepalm

        Re: Resilience and redundancy

        Redundancy:

        Two lines (minimum) *tick*

        Different geographic routing - North, South *tick*

        Completely separate suppliers. *errr*

        oops

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Resilience and redundancy

        I worked for a French service bureau which had two major data centres. One in the Paris area and the other one in the south of France. The telecoms company ran the two requested lines through the same physical pipe which was, of course, eventually cut by a backhoe. Same thing, the telecoms company paid the company a very large sum and belatedly ran the two lines through different routes..

    2. Old Used Programmer

      Re: Resilience and redundancy

      Some years ago, the University of California at Berkeley had two backbone lines to somewhere on the US east coast. The contract required independent routing of the lines. One day, a farmer in New Jersey took out both lines with a backhoe. To the best of my knowledge a significant amount of money changed hands in compensation for both lines being in the same place, contrary to the contract.

    3. swm

      Re: Resilience and redundancy

      This happened on the early ARPANET where they had a northern route and a southern rout connecting the east coast with the west coast. The phone company routed them together somewhere around Kansas and a back hoe took them both out simultaneously.

      That's when they learned about insisting on different routing for redundancy.

  9. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge
    Boffin

    Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

    Every minor scrap of a written record may turn out to be detrimental

    There's a wonderful Austrian saying for you fitting the story.

    However, in this case the protagonist was saved by the written record.

    Schrift'l is the diminuitive of Schrift, meaning a diminuitive of a written record.

    Gift'l is the diminuitive of Gift, which translates to poison.

    I'm not proficient enough in English to make the rhyme work in English.

    This saying is often used, in political commentary when some records turn up to haunt politicians over some scandal/issue.

    On the other hand, if you have reason to believe that a written record might come in handy in the future, this saying also applies.

    In the context of this story, the written record turned out to be a bane for the penny-pinching managers, since they weren't able to deflect blame.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

      I'd imagine Ross_Ulbricht really regrets not switching his chat logs off that recorded everythng he ever did in his business and made for some rather damning evidence in court.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

      Not knowing Herman I read it as "Each script is a gift" which also works - but from the point of view.of the likes of Doug who was holding the script.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

        Dammit!!! German.

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

          No, not German, Austrian. But they are very close related, so those three (AU-DE-CH) can usually communicate without extra translation. Though some TV stations for educationally alienated started to sub Austrian and Swiss a few years ago... Weirds me out, and lets me switch to a normal channel and never return.

          1. Gene Cash Silver badge

            Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

            Heh. BBC America subtitles some of the British shows.

            "Be warned: The following program contains British accents. Therefore, portions have been subtitled for the easily confused"

            I still have the screencap.

            1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

              Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

              That sounds like a very British insult. Must be true, even without screencap I believe you.

            2. Ghostman

              Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

              I sometimes need the subtitles for Top Gear when Freddie is speaking, and I'm Scottish, from the southern US.

              1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

                Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

                I often need those subtitles for the great perfect audio effect mixing. Making voices as silent as a mouse, cars running by rumbling your house, explosions shattering earth loud. I often switch to AC3 or even STEREO track to avoid that nonsense, since those are more balanced mixed.

                1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

                  I'm glad it's not just me.

    3. CT

      Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

      “All you write comes back to bite”

      Would be my rendition

      1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

        Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

        I was going to say something similar.

        In English-speaking countries, we have the expression "coming back to bite you," which, I believe, alludes to mistreatment of a dog having eventual consequences.

        More broadly, it means that if you do something wrong, or cut corners, your actions will "come back to bite you" (or, in the US variant, "bite you in the ass") and you'll regret it later. Basically, in the sense, that you might think you can get away with it now, but it'll catch up to you eventually.

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

          Only that you can't write and say "ass" any more in the United States of America due to the extreme Political Correctness of some people being offended AND many more people think they have to be offended in place of those they think should be offended.

          Therefore CYA has been officially redone to "Cover You Assets" or better CYB aka "Cover Your Bases". You think I exaggerate? Youtube says: Nope I don't, avoid that word in your videos if you want views, and that includes "Assets" since the first three letter are....

          Boy, how I love our GERMAN real free speech. Use curse and swear words, and nobody cares shit. Banning them would give those "taboo" words more power than they deserve. No need to beat around the bush since the US-Style "not offending" way to express is viewed as rude here since it wastes time.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

            "Only that you can't write and say "ass" any more in the United States of America due to the extreme Political Correctness"

            Oh, bullshit. I just heard a local newscaster say "ass" during a live news broadcast.

            I'm in the San Francisco Bay Area, which last time I checked, was still in the United States of America. The SFBA is known far and wide as being ultra politically correct, well past the point of stupidity, and even here that is not true. One can say ass with impunity.

            Fuck off with your xenophobic FUD, already. It's getting old.

            1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

              Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

              > Fuck off with your xenophobic FUD, already. It's getting old.

              You language is rude by German cursing standards.

              > Oh, bullshit. I just heard a local newscaster say "ass" during a live news broadcast.

              The rules on TV are different with a different forbidden words list, and you know exactly which words are automatically bleeped and therefore choose that example of course. "Shit" has been removed from the list not long ago BTW. Aaaand George Carlin made a show about those evil words. But as for YOUTUBE and FACEBOOK - they make their own rules, not me. They are those who define the rules of bad words on a completely different level. Wanna test it?

              Facebook: Try the German version of a famous Asterix quote: "Die spinnen, die Briten". The English version is probably "These British are Crazy". You will get a warning, maybe a few days ban. Instantly. How I know? Guess!

              Youtube: Say "Ass" in a video, and then compare how many times it gets recommended. How I know? Guess of course, but quite a number of other youtubers confirming this.

              Another example? In Europe, when someone repeatedly does the same mistake at work, you can say "Please do it right, or there will be a problem" - no issue. Using that phrase in the United States Of America is like you being the mafia boss or James Bond villain petting his cat on his lap speaking those words, so it is interpreted as a near death threat. How I know? SEVERAL Germans living in America telling that, after they used that phrase, getting called in by HR with at least one of the C-suite and speaking about how they dared to threat a coworker.

              I suggest you to get a bit out of your bubble, one step would be: Watching a few youtube channels of "American living in...." China, Germany, Britain, Italy, France, Denmark etc etc etc... They are comparing the differences from a first person AMERICAN experience. And don't forget to watch the "reverse culture shock" videos when they visit USA again, seeing what is going on there more clearly then ever before.

              US/Newzealand living in Germany/China etc:

              https://www.youtube.com/@HayleyAlexis

              https://www.youtube.com/@TripBitten

              https://www.youtube.com/@TypeAshton (formerly known as blackforest family channel)

              https://www.youtube.com/@WantedAdventure

              https://www.youtube.com/@ZoieMarie

              https://www.youtube.com/@AntoinetteEmily

              https://www.youtube.com/@JAYSTEPHAN

              https://www.youtube.com/@LaurenAngela_aufDeutsch (her English speaking channel: https://www.youtube.com/@Laurenangela_english )

              Germans living in US:

              https://www.youtube.com/@LebenUSA

              https://www.youtube.com/@AramisMerlin

              More? You think PC-Principal is a pure southpark fiction? Of course not, he is based on real persons in USA. A bit exaggerated southpark style of course.

              1. Cav Bronze badge

                Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

                "In Europe, when someone repeatedly does the same mistake at work, you can say "Please do it right, or there will be a problem" - no issue. Using that phrase in the United States Of America is like you being the mafia boss or James Bond villain petting his cat on his lap speaking those words, so it is interpreted as a near death threat. "

                Garbage. I'm European, living both in the US and back in Europe. Your examples are nonsense.

            2. Spanners Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

              Only that you can't write and say "ass" any more in the United States of America due to the extreme Political Correctness

              In the more developed parts of the English-speaking world, we do not say "ass" to indicate what one sits on. The correct word is spelt A R S E. I hope spacing it out avoids some filters.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

                "we do not say "ass" to indicate what one sits on"

                An English ass can be sat upon. It is, however not an attached portion of oneself.

                Divided by a common language.

              2. Santa from Exeter

                Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

                El Reg, however, no longer cares for this spelling as they now "anonymize" things, rather than anonymising them as stated in the footnote :-(

          2. Cav Bronze badge

            Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

            "say "ass" any more in the United States of America due to the extreme Political Correctness of some people being offended"

            It isn't political correctness. It's Puritanism of the conservatives. In progressive, "politically correct" areas, "Ass" is perfectly fine.

    4. teebie

      Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

      In Bootle they say "Every doxing is a toxin"

      Disclaimer: this is a lie

    5. HuBo
      Joke

      Re: Jedes Schrift'l ist ein Gift'l

      ... bottom line, whenever a German (or Austrian) offers you a "gift" ... what you are getting may be "poison" (according to google translate) ...

  10. Admiral Grace Hopper

    The Three Most Beautiful Words In The English Language

    Cover Your Arse.

    I was introduced to the CYA file at the start of my career and it has been of use as recently as yesterday. Today isn't over yet.

  11. Lee D Silver badge

    "Has a paper trail saved your bacon? If so click here to send On Call an email"

    Man, I could write a twelve-volume compendium that would rival the thickness of The Art of Computer Programming.

    You're gonna need a bigger mailbox.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      And most of the rest us El Reg readers as well.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Has a paper trail saved your bacon? If so click here to send On Call an email"

    How about the senior manager who refused to put down his acceptance of project risks for several months, until backed into a corner?

    He now has the issue that the risks are 'accepted' with the caveat that they are solved before we go live.

    Nothing has been done about these risks and he's hoping it'll be someone else's problem.

    Anon as it's still unfolding, well exploding really

    1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

      Re: "Has a paper trail saved your bacon? If so click here to send On Call an email"

      Ah, yes, the old Tory Prime Minister solution: legislate that the problem doesn't exist.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Many, many years ago I took a job in mortgage sales processing. It was a foot in the door of a decent company (the main reason to take it at all), but it came with some significant downside of having to answer the phones to mortgage brokers and the BS they spout while earning ludicrous commission.

    The most common problem was applicants lying about their income to ridiculous levels. The paper trail accompanying would more often than fail to back up such claims. To say nothing of the many applicants that had suffered bankruptcies that were very much still visible on file.

    Didn't matter, dickhead mortgage brokers would still call in and give the grunts on min wage grief over our refusals. Not my problem that you didn't do your due diligence on your client.

    Of course, after telling such folks where to go; inevitably those same brokers would then resort to using one of the (should-have-been-criminal) self certification outfits and lie through their teeth to get their dodgy-as clients sale.

    There are some people that still aren't clear why the sub-prime crisis became a thing, and why both the housing and debt markets are so hopelessly broken. All in the name of propping up a few rich bastards. Very few were ever taken to court of course.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So did you get the Trump details?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The most common problem was applicants lying about their income to ridiculous levels

      That might be the case, but it isn't always the case, certainly not since 2008. Sometimes it's the broker being a bit "enthusiastic" in the chase for a sale. We needed a specialist (self-build) mortgage some years ago and being utterly green we went to probably the best-known mortgage broker for such finance in the UK. Six months of back-and-forth with enquiries, forms, proposals, more forms and such like, and then quite literally the same week we told the builder "yes, ok, let's go" - because the broker promised a firm offer that week and if we hadn't done it then we would have been delayed by six to nine months while the builder did another job - the broker stopped answering our emails, letters and phonecalls. Nothing we did elicited a response either from our "account manager" or from anyone else in his firm. Promises by receptionists to "get so-and-so" (several random names) to "ring back as soon as they return from lunch" (or whatever) went unmet.

      We suspect that bosses and/or the lender finally took a look at his proposals and told him a very firm "no" and he was simply too embarrassed to tell us. Or got fired or something.

      We found an alternative mortgage direct with a lender (who wasn't on the list of proposed lenders the original broker had) and had an intense couple of months re-submitting all the same information, and quite a bit more, and ended up with a very slightly lower mortgage with somewhat tighter strings attached.

      Worked out ok in the end as we believe we're with a much more "ethical" lender, and not delaying the builder meant that he cleared the site the same week that Boris announced the first lockdown. We spent lockdown happily painting, plumbing, electricking etc. Close call that!

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        In the U.S. they just moved over to car loans.

        Currently a 29 year high of car loan defaults.

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Confirmed from several German-living-in-USA channels. The German way is: We have the money to buy the car, then we buy it. But don't mention that until the very last second, go on with everything the salesman says. Else many won't treat you as valued customer.

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            On the rare occasion I've bought a new car in the UK, I've had a similar thing. If you are willing to take out the finance, the salesdroid is much more likely to be flexible on discounts, even if they know you have the "cash" (which we did, once). I assume this is because once you've made the first (or maybe second) payment they get their commission. No good for the finance company though if, as we did that time, you take out the loan, drive away in the car and pay the loan off (without penalty) before the next payment is due.

            Last time I bought a car - second hand from a main dealer - I wanted them to replace the "tyre inflation kit" it had with the optional-when-new spare tyre kit. I was even willing to pay (near) list price for it (something like £350 IIRC because it was a full-size wheel, tyre and also jack, spanner, spare nuts etc.) Sales really, really didn't want to sell it to me. What they wanted me to buy was the "valet deal" where they "professionally cleaned" the car (surely it would have been done anyway), "protected" the upholstery and paint with some "special stuff" and provided a very nice bag containing bottles of "product", sponges, chamois leathers and such, all for £250.

            I presume there was a bonus or a hefty commission involved in selling the valet deal. In the end the dealer offered to throw in the spare tyre kit for free if I bought the deal. Now, it's entirely possible that he just swapped the inflation kit from my car with the tyre kit from another car on the forecourt, but I don't think so because all the bits were still slightly greasy as if straight from the shop, you know?

            And the valet deal? Worth about £20 in my opinion. Bog standard shampoos and cloths in the (admittedly quite nice) bag would probably have been about that amount at list price from Halfords. No sign that the upholstery is any more stain resistant than it would normally be, and the paint still got grimy the first time I drove on a gritted road (it was winter). I bet £220 of the cost was the salesman's bonus and the remaining £10 probably paid for an intern to spend an hour cleaning the car.

            M.

  14. Lee D Silver badge

    This literally happened this week:

    Me: Hey, you know that domain that you bought and host entirely with an outside company and that IT have nothing to do with? Well, just to let you know that I noticed that the SSL certificate is expiring soon.

    Them: Oh, they [the web hosting company they hired] handle all that.

    Me: Okay, just letting you know. The website will flag as insecure if it expires. It's best practice to renew way in advance, so it should have renewed already [and it's a LetsEncrypt, so there's no excuse as the software should start to renew after 60 days and the certs last 90 day, so they have 30 days to notice that the software hasn't done its thing]

    Them: Okay, I'll let them know.

    [2 days later]

    Me [meeting them in person on an unrelated matter]: Cool, hey, don't forget about that certificate thing, it doesn't look like it's renewed yet.

    Them: I'm sure they know what they're doing and they're on top of it.

    Me: Okay, just don't want us to look bad because our clients see that.

    Them: I'll let them know. I'm sure it'll be fine

    Me: Okay, but I work in IT, used to build websites for a living, manage all our other websites, and normally it would have expected it to have happened by now.

    Them: I'll let them deal with it.

    [1 day later]

    Me: Hey, just to let you know that that certificate expires mid-day tomorrow.

    Them: [No response]

    [1 day later]

    Me: Hey, that certificate expires soon, still doesn't look like it's renewed.

    [half-a-day later]

    Me: As I feared, the website is now saying it's not secure in all browsers. Looks bad to our clients.

    [a few hours later]

    [Ticket comes in from another user involved with that site, saying it has errors. What are we going to do about it?]

    [Redirected to the person above, with a note that there is NOTHING that *we* can do about it at all]

    [next day]

    Me: [mentions it casually to our boss].

    Boss: Tell them again, but copy me in this time, we can't have that, it looks awful to our clients.

    Me: [sends a polite nudge email, with CC:]

    [a few hours later]

    Nothing

    [a few hours later]

    Nothing

    [two days later]

    Still waiting.

    [Insert Christmas holidays here]

    I wouldn't mind, but I literally only noticed as I was splatting our sites through SSL Labs and thought I'd be nice and do the externally-hosted ones too, just to check. And all our internal-hosted sites are LetsEncrypt too, with A+ ratings.

    So I know that LetsEncrypt should have renewed 30 days ago, so their cron job is likely dead or non-existent, that any hosting outfit should have turned on the "failure notification" emails for that, etc.

    It's literally the only domain where even the nameservers are pointing at their DNS instead of our usual hosts, so I have absolutely no control over where it points, the content, the server, or any ability to modify or override it even temporarily.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Mushroom

      First remark : two days after having said he'll "let them know", he's still saying "I'll let them know" ?

      Cue the cluebat and a vicious beating.

  15. LoonyToonz

    We refered to the CYA written confirmation as a "Shirt Tail Exercise"

    Basically if your belt and braces appraoch fails, you at least have the shirt tails to cover your arse.

    When Contracted to install Windows Server and an Exchange server at a V Remote site so the only comms was sattelit. They had an Inmarsat setup that provided pay per use, so pay per call, pay per KB etc. I strongly advised getting the other Inmarsat conection which was a higher monthly cost, plus capital cost of new equipment etc

    It was declined.

    I ran cost calculations stating that due the "chatiness" of Exchnage server to server comms, plus people sending attachments in emails etc, that a monthly bill would be approx 3 times what the install costs, plus annual running costs of the other system.

    This was rejected by the companys Accounts department, and IT departments as unnecesary costs.

    It was borught up in the project kick off meeting with MD and others present so was officially minuted again rejected.

    So installed and quite running away as required.

    First mothly sat bill comes in, I proceed to get ordered to customers office to explain the rediculously high sat bil, I arrives and sits in front of MD, and FD and hands over the miues, my proposal my costings and the rejections emails.

    Within 2 days was offered another contract to move remote site over to the new monthly fixed costs sat system they were getting installed.

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: We refered to the CYA written confirmation as a "Shirt Tail Exercise"

      Not quite to the same level but many years ago it was decided that we'd "host" a satellite office in the Netherlands on our ERP system in the UK. No real problem but with minimal capital budget available the only option at the time was ISDN (I did say it was many years ago!)

      I duly warned the management about the call costs but the response was, "It will only be a few transactions a day!" I also warned them that it doesn't really work like that but they insisted we went ahead. At the end of the first quarter they were horrified at the telecoms bill at the remote site - well I did warn them! With a bit of balancing of connection charge vs per minute charge and an agreement they'd do all their processing in batches we got things down to an acceptable level.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We refered to the CYA written confirmation as a "Shirt Tail Exercise"

        Back in the ISDN days our company had a presence in Hong Kong - Netware server and a few users - and one day the backup broke. Fixing it remotely took a few days, but by the time it was fixed I worked out it would have been cheaper to fly me out first class and put my up in a 5* hotel to do the work...

        1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
          Alien

          Re: We refered to the CYA written confirmation as a "Shirt Tail Exercise"

          You need to work that out in advance. And have a suitcase packed.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: We refered to the CYA written confirmation as a "Shirt Tail Exercise"

      Nothing like a monthly bill to get manglement "aware" of a situation.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Having a paper trail has saved my backside more times than I care to count.

    I'd say it's a necessity of modern life dealing with senior managers and, most definitely, C-Suite (those buggers get all-to-easily distracted with the latest 'money saving' fad).

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Penny pinching

    Penny pinching knows no bounds. Once worked on a high voltage substation control system and realised that the operator interface and some critical servers were not on backup power. Calculated the load, required run time for diesel genny to get stable and specified a suitable "business grade" UPS that would suit. Something with monitoring interfaced, hot-swappable batteries etc.

    Boss decided to improvise and found "a bargain" and bought a home UPS with the same VA rating instead. Battery life was about 1/4, no monitoring, and no hotswap. Saved him about $200 I think. This on a project that had a price tag that ran well past nine figures.

    Dunno how it worked out because I quit the following week.

  18. disgruntled yank

    Question

    Did those readers offer suggested emendations of "Regomize"? I've been trying to imagine what path could lead one inadvertently to "Regomize", and failing.

    1. KarMann Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Question

      About all the complaints I've noticed about it have been regarding the matter of "Regomize" v. 'Regomise', but the footnote doesn't address that matter at all.

      1. collinsl Bronze badge

        Re: Question

        I've been skim-reading it this entire time as "Regonomize" and was surprised that this wasn't the complaint.

        1. that one in the corner Silver badge

          Re: Question

          > I've been skim-reading it this entire time as "Regonomize"

          That is the best approach to reading this web stuff nowadays: let your brain feed you the *sensible* words

          I mean, come on: yes, you can slam two words together to get "Regomize" but to defend *that* as being the better - or even "correct" - result, you may as well go the whole hog and use the word "Rize", or even "Re"!

          Although, cough, "Regonymize" would be the simpler choice, no need to make weird claims about creating portmanteau words, it just says exactly what El Reg is doing - picking a name to fit the El Reg style, the same way that "anonymize" says precisely what *it* describes.

          PS

          Apologies for all the zeds but one battle at a time.

      2. Duncan10101

        Re: Question

        I used to believe that the suffix "-ize" was the American spelling, and that the British was "-ise". But I was wrong! It turns out that "-ize" is very much British, and predates "-ise" by more than a century. Don't take my word for it ... go and check the OED. It caused me to have a serious re-think.

        1. H in The Hague

          Re: Question

          "Don't take my word for it ... go and check the OED. It caused me to have a serious re-think."

          OED tends to use z-spelling and the Collins dictionary (which I prefer, for various reasons) tends to use s-spelling.

          I think it's got to do with transcribing words from Ancient Greek into English.

          1. Duncan10101
            Joke

            Re: Question

            Well ... I *would* say that the OED is my canonical version, but that would only lead to XKCD jokes about Frankenstein.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Question

      At the beginning of the whole Regomization thing, I proposed that every On Call hero should just be called Brian, but, for some reason, it was ignored.

  19. Wyrdness

    Process failure

    It sounds as if the whole process was incorrect. Doug (or someone else) should have written a formal specification for the level of broadband service required for the company, making a good business case for proper support. This should have been signed off by management. Then whoever decided to penny-pinch, constrained by the specification, would have been unable to order a consumer product.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Process failure

      You're assuming rules-based management. Small businesses owned and run by directors don't work like that. That's why we distinguish between managers and manglers.

    2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Re: Process failure

      Process? What process? Welcome to the real world. Whatever beautiful or convoluted process is defined, whatever beautiful or convoluted process you use, reality doesn't give a shit.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Process failure

      Maybe he did and it was ignored.

      That's usually the case.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paper trail and zoom recordings win!

    Will absolutely save you without question, I can attest in all certainty from those I know personally who've benefited from archiving. Once a company decides to jettison staff, if you're on the list, make absolutely certain you have backups of anything that might be pertinent to your case, either for redundancy settlement or a tribunal.

    1. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

      Re: Paper trail and zoom recordings win!

      "Once a company decides to jettison staff, if you're on the list, make absolutely certain you have backups of anything that might be pertinent to your case"

      By the time you find out you're on the list, it might be too late.

      The one time I was redundized from a large corporation, after they gave me the news, I was escorted back to my desk to get my coat, then escorted to the door. I had to make an appointment with my erstwhile manager to come back after hours to clear out my desk under his watchful eye.

      To the point, I wasn't allowed anywhere near a computer, so no chance to back up anything relevant. (Fortunately, that wasn't a problem. It wasn't a "for cause" situation; I was just a victim of a larger downsizing.)

      So, anything that might be needed in a post-termination dispute, make sure you have off-premises backups ahead of time.

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: Paper trail and zoom recordings win!

        > The one time I was redundized from a large corporation, after they gave me the news, I was escorted back to my desk to get my coat, then escorted to the door.

        > I had to make an appointment with my erstwhile manager to come back after hours to clear out my desk under his watchful eye.

        United Stated of America, right? You have to go full CYB (cover your bases) anyway. Always.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Paper trail and zoom recordings win!

          I worked at a UK bank where exactly this happened several times. People didn't know they were on the list until they were told to leave their desk immediately.

          One time the notification was by phone during a set period of time. The office was silent during that time, so it was absolutely clear who got the call.

          Another time, several managers moved through the open plan office and escort the people out of the office. Again, completely clear who was in scope.

          The worst time at that location was where they got everybody into a meeting room, and proceeded to list names and a side of the room they had to move to. Once completed, all the people on one side of the room were lead to another room, and one of the rooms was told that they would be leaving immediately.

          In all cases, the people had to be escorted back out of hours to clear their desk.

          1. David Hicklin Bronze badge

            Re: Paper trail and zoom recordings win!

            > People didn't know they were on the list until they were told to leave their desk immediately

            Been through that at a previous UK company is what is probably the worst day most people go though, I survived but seeing people get called in and then escorted out is not nice.

            But at least they all got pay in lieu of notice being as this is the UK (+ redundancy)

            1. Martin an gof Silver badge

              Re: Paper trail and zoom recordings win!

              at least they all got pay in lieu of notice being as this is the UK (+ redundancy)

              Slightly different method, but it seems that if your company is big enough you're quite safe to ignore the law.

              M.

        2. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

          Re: Paper trail and zoom recordings win!

          "United Stated of America, right?"

          Canada, actually.

      2. David 132 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Paper trail and zoom recordings win!

        redundized

        ISWYDT!

      3. Caver_Dave Silver badge

        Re: Paper trail and zoom recordings win!

        Once had to let my team go. My boss told me I was safe.

        I went through the whole morning talking with the team. Got back to my desk after they had all cleared their desks to find out my PC password had been remotely changed. Went to see my boss and he said "you are redundant as well, clear your desk". The lying bastard didn't have the guts to make us all redundant together, but leave the team work to me.

        1. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

          Re: Paper trail and zoom recordings win!

          "The lying bastard didn't have the guts to make us all redundant together, but leave the team work to me."

          Man, that's low.

  21. Kane
    Boffin

    in recent weeks we've had readers suggest the word is a spelling error

    Really?

    Really?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    France, Paris region

    I was once dispatched at a french location, near Paris, to sort out (2 days mission) a local support mess.

    Over the end of the first day on site, the WAN failed, lost any connection to anywhere. Panic everywhere coming to the only company idiot on site: me.

    Most people were new, here, not knowing a thing, and incidentally, 2 hours before the incident, I had a look at the telco lines (one main plus one backup) and noticed both lines were green before the incident and both were very red after.

    After hours of trouble shooting with the "carrier", it turned out:

    - they were using some french "pro" service (one main line + one backup line) with some top notch support (top notch but only reduced business hours work and no SLA)

    - the lines were using the local consumer provider infra, 2 of them

    - since it was consumer, no-one even bothered to see if they were providing redundancy

    - spoiler alert: both lines were going through the same fibers and the big digger machine cut the whole fibers group

    End of the day: cheaper than pro MPLS, but more expensive than a home users line (and no more redundancy).

  23. Chris Jasper

    I Remember it well

    Started a new job as an Exchange Admin and the IT Director obviously thought he could get one over on the new guy, had a short friendly chat welcoming me then proceeded to ask me to give him access to a bunch of mailboxes that he quite clearly had no business accessing.

    I said I'd be more than happy to, just send me an email requesting the acces and I'll get it ticketed and sorted out for you, he got a very sour look on his face and said "You know how to cover your arse dont you?"

    I replied, "Yes, yes I do".

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I Remember it well

      There's nothing like getting things straight from the start.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: I Remember it well

      Do not meddle in the affairs of IT people, for we are subtle, and keep logs.

      1. CorwinX Bronze badge

        Re: I Remember it well

        And we have your passwords, account details and a copy of the "interesting" photos that you're wife wouldn't approve of.

    3. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Re: I Remember it well

      Was that the test? A different answer would have you got fired right away? Well, one can still dream - in reality you wouldn't have been fired, but jailed a bit later.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I Remember it well

      "Started a new job as an Exchange Admin and the IT Director obviously thought he could get one over on the new guy, had a short friendly chat welcoming me then proceeded to ask me to give him access to a bunch of mailboxes that he quite clearly had no business accessing.

      I said I'd be more than happy to, just send me an email requesting the acces and I'll get it ticketed and sorted out for you, he got a very sour look on his face and said "You know how to cover your arse dont you?"

      I replied, "Yes, yes I do"."

      Similar story but it didn't go so well for me, at first.

      I came to learn some really dodgy mgrs were doing the same, in France, where it was illegal back then. They were even doing this routinely if their equally dodgy HR mgr was looking to shoot somebody off the census ...

      I then sent an email to the 2 email admins telling them to watch out as it was illegal and this should come in writing and from HR.

      But unfortunately, one of the email admins was not the sharpest knife in the box and forwarded it to his line mgr who was doing that kind of abuse.

      Ensured a very angry and offensive email to the very top about my behaviour. But my mgr covered me.

      Years later, there was something really serious: a lawyer was inquiring about the CEO and needed access to his mailbox (from me).

      It turned out the very top (VP of HR) sent me the official request, copying my mgr.

      End of the day: I basically was proved right many years past the incident !

  24. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Re: Regomize

    * Regomize is a made-up word that combines "The Register" and "Anonymize." We coined the term to reflect our practice of inventing names for contributors to On Call and its sibling column Who, Me?. We offer this explanation as in recent weeks we've had readers suggest the word is a spelling error.

    I'm somewhat aghast that 73 comments in and still counting and no one has yet ventured forth with "regomize" being a good blood brother for bitching story tellers’ tales where "sod it" might feature and have one pondering a parallel where stepping into a world of pain if not properly prepared is also an experience best and better remembered and recorded rather than ignored.

  25. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Pint

    Shouty managers

    and their comeupance (there , a nice new word for you)

    Had the shouty manager one place I worked... jobs running slow, not enough made , programmer (me) is a useless <insert abusive term>

    I'm like ok ok lemme look............... hmm its that job.... I rewrote that a couple of weeks ago, manager intejects "and you made it worse" blah blah blah

    Call up the program screen. Job #76933V1, first comment line is "Program is version 1, Do not use, reference use only, use Version 3 as its faster"

    "Who put the program in the control?"

    "I did" says shouty mangler "And its useless , should sack you you <more abusive terms>"

    "Did you bother reading the first line?" while pointing it out to him

    An already quiet shop floor became even quieter.

    Lasted about another 6 weeks there before telling the guy where exactly he could put his job and went down the pub......... which is where i've just been hic see icon

  26. aerogems Silver badge
    Boffin

    Just recently

    I was working a job that was just toxic as hell, and my immediate supervisor was one of the key culprits. He was the sort who will shit talk everyone behind their back, but then be all sugar and rainbows to their face. Of course he made the mistake of putting some things in writing, and using specifics that I could have only learned from him about his boss' boss, so I kept a few receipts and after I left I sent a message to a strategic few people. First were a couple of women he seemed to have it out for in particular. Not really sure why, but he was dumb enough to put into a group chat about how they were full of shit and not to prioritize their requests. That one, so far as I know, resulted in at least one HR complaint. Then, as I said, he mentioned a few specifics about someone who reports directly to the CEO in one of his little shit talking standup routines. Unfortunately for him, I happen to have a good memory for things like that, so the CEO whisperer was one of the people who got that message and it included some of those specifics where the only way I could possibly know about them was if someone like my former manager were the source. I also included a copy of the messages from a group chat and mentioned how it's fine to have an unfavorable opinion about someone you work with, you're not being paid to be besties, but to put it in writing in a department group chat is beyond unprofessional.

    No idea what all has come from the HR complaint, if anything, or my making mention to the CEO whisperer directly, but the moral of the story is... paper trails can cut both ways, so make sure not to put certain things in writing.

  27. DS999 Silver badge

    If it was a mine

    They're lucky they had any sort of wired broadband option at all. Many are located in very remote places where you don't even have cell coverage, and satellite would be their only option for internet.

  28. CorwinX Bronze badge

    Trick is to put the sign-off two thirds into the stack

    First third they'll start reading and then probably have a BSOD. Last third they may have rebooted

    Get the sweet spot between the two and walk off with a signature.

  29. Hazmoid

    My reading of this is that it is for a mining Co head office, not the actual mine. Always populated by sales oriented people who wouldn't know a mineral if it sat up and begged.

    These offices are usually situated in a very desirable location in the CBD and well serviced by multiple communications suppliers, services and formats.

    Having worked for these and a stockbroker, I can tell you the stockbroker always went for the Rolls Royce solution and resources company (small ones anyway) went the cheap route. Nowadays, with 5G backup services, most times a cut to the feed is noted as a hiccup and slightly slower services. The only person that is stressed is the IT person streaming Youtube videos.

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. ecofeco Silver badge

    Good for Doug!

    But how long before he was fired afterward?

    Most of here know how that's how the story usually ends.

  32. ecofeco Silver badge

    Documents covering my arse?

    I would be homeless or dead by now if I didn't. Many times over.

    Literally.

    I do not come by my cynicism and very jaundiced eye just to be "edgy." I have the actual receipts. In fact I just finished two weeks of fighting to recover a large sum of MY money from a company that insisted it was theirs to keep as long as they liked. And, we say where I live, this wasn't my first rodeo.

  33. This post has been deleted by its author

  34. Jim Whitaker
    Devil

    Spelling mistake

    Oh dear; you clearly are not screening your readers carefully enough.

  35. Grunchy Silver badge

    Easy fix

    Sometimes you can temporarily substitute a disrupted broadband link by sharing a cellular connection.

    It depends how far out into the sticks you find yourself…

    (This one time an out-of-control maniac wiped out a main trunk that provided connectivity for my entire neighborhood, including all the shops and gas stations and convenience stores, and interrupted all card transactions, whether debit or credit. You couldn’t even get a slurpee unless you had cash on the barrel! Even lotto lookup was offline, it was a complete disaster. THANKFULLY my iPhone SE still had wireless; I’d have had to read a book or something! It was an extended outage too, I heard the guy needed extrication via Jaws Of Life and everything.)

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