* Posts by BigBadAl

11 publicly visible posts • joined 6 Oct 2009

We know it's hard to get your kicks at work – just do it away from a wall switch powering anything important

Paris Hilton

Re: My favourite one....

Your comments remind me of a story my late father told me in the late 70's. I was 12 years old and it was the first funny 'risky' work story he told me. he worked for a council in the accounts dept, back then no computers... yet. the typists were using high end IBM electric typewriters. There was a particularly fierce women in charge of the typists. She started complaining to my father that two of these 'IBM' units were faulty. Then that they were all faulty. They had about 20 of them in this one dept - so it was a big deal. The IBM sales rep duly pushed for the engineer to visit - repeatedly with no fault found each time. Tempers flared and the poor support tech was dispatched with the order 'don't come back until it is fixed'. The issue was a simple one - the typewriters would randomly add spaces to the text - back then that meant the whole letter needed to be re-written. What no one had bothered to tell my father or the support guy was that this only happened with one user - 'a rather large buxom girl' as my dad told me! When it happened to her she would just change desks and the same thing would happen. The poor engineer pulled my dad out of the room once he had seen this happen and was very red faced as he knew the issue but couldn't fix it with the user at her desk. Turns out... yup that a part of her body was hitting the space bar and causing the issue. The teams tea break was due (yes they did all leave at 10.15am for a break) and my dad and the poor red faced support tech had to explain to the fierce boss what was going on. The solution was elegant - the typewriters were heavy and came with IBM desks - the desks had adjustable feet in the legs so the engineer dropped the desk by 2 inches and the issue went away. Needless to say no one had the courage to explain the issue to the operator. Different times indeed!!

Well done, UK.gov. You hit superfast broadband target (by handing almost the entire project to BT)


4G the way to go

As an IT consultant I get to look at many different solutions for the clients I see. I have to say that if an ADSL or VDSL (FTTC) line has issues after installation, the grief and drawn out process is too painful to describe. After 4 months we now have the REIN engineers looking for interference on the line. Initial visit engineer was heard to say - well it looks okay at the moment...... The technology of ADSL / VDSL is pushing the physical constraints of the old lines it's coming down on. We have been using a mobile hotspot for 2 months now due to the unreliability of the connection. It's been brilliant - 12Mb inside the office and 8Mb upload allows us to operate reliably.

We have a customer, an engineering company - can only get 0.8Mb - cannot justify the investment in a leased line. Initial installation costs looked like £10k due to his location. plus £300 ish a month. Sorted out a 4G LTE router with ADSL for backup. two external antennas and he gets 21Mb down and 12Mb upload - 40GB for £30.00 a month - no contract. he is delighted, yes he has gone over the limit but what will probably happen is he will get another SIM and swap it.

We need to look at City Fibre - role out Fibre in the Cities and look to roll out to rural communities. Give them the grants and push any planning issues through. They (and other providers) are small enough and agile enough to be flexible and offer very good value for money.

Bring it BACK... with MODs! Psion 5 storms great tech revival poll


Instant On

Instant on would be my tuppence worth! The keyboard was brilliant and the battery life. But the fact that when you flipped it open - there it was. Good old uncle Clive once stated that his biggest regret about modern computers (this was about 10 years ago) was that they had to boot up before you could use them. I think he was right. Yes we can all get iPads now - however at what cost? (both financially and operating wise)

I would love to see PSION come back with another killer piece of hardware -unfortunately I don't see it happening - too many venture capitalists controlling the purse strings rather than a team of focused engineers and people who really did believe in what the company was doing. And if something "couldn't" be done they would find a way. EPOC was a triumph in structured programming and hardware management.

Nokia's 3310 revival – what's NEXT? Vote now


4k RAM - more than enough for games

Psion 5 definately - wonderful bit of kit. Well designed and an efficient and elegant OS. My first personal computer - 1979 Tandy model 1 4K RAM and 4K ROM - with cassette storage. Then we bought the massive 5.25" floppy drive - full height!! with 84K of storage. <sigh> those were the days. The Tandy still works and my kids love playing Sea Dragon and typing in the programs from the manuals.

Sysadmin paid a month's salary for one day of nothing


I was working for a large Ship Management company and was offered two incentives in 1999. The first was a 50% salary bonus to stay for a minimum of 12 months (which covered the millennium) And over the New year period of 3 days was given a bonus of £250.00 per day to be on-call. All in all not a bad deal. An yes due to the diligent work before hand - no ships sunk or crashed - and none of our systems went down. One old database needed to be reset every Monday morning but hey we could live with that.

It's beers and bacon all round for our Quid-A-Day Nosh Posse


"The Live Below the Line challenge isn't meant to be a true reflection of what it's like to exist permanently on little or no cash, but rather to "deepen understanding of the challenges faced by individuals living in extreme poverty, and to raise vital funds for crucial anti-poverty initiatives"."

Good point well made - kudos to the The Reg.

LOHAN turns up the heat on Vulture 2 motor


Re: Pre-heat

Or use solar panels on the truss to keep the rocket motor nice and crispy:

US woman sues again over XP 'downgrade', seeks class action


Hmm not sure about this one.

Some of the comments here are having a go at this women. Ok in America everyone want to sue. But I do feel some sympathy - if she has Vista Home then to use XP Pro she needs to upgrade to VISTA Business. That is the way the licensing works. However I have a number of clients who were livid that they had to pay £30.00 plus vat and shipping (Roughly £50.00 per computer no discount for 10 PC's !!!!) to downgrade from VISTA Business to XP. That does suck as this was from HP and other suppliers who insisted this was due to handling charges - why not just leave the damn DVD in the box to begin with and be done with it! FS does include a downgrade DVD or option at first startup. I have no issues there. She should not be suing MS she should be suing the Computer manufacturer she bought the PC from. Anyway I'll get my coat.....

O2 and Be Broadband speeds dip


Go witha REAL Broadband provider ZEN

Been with ZEN for 4 years and have moved all my clients over to them. Fantastic service - really. You call up technical support - UK based. Often I speak to the same agent - they know their stuff helpfull and considerate. Excellent portal for your line specs and full visibility on problem / error tracking with BT. I cannot stress how good it is when a client calls in with 'a broadband' problem to connect in and advise then the line is ok and quote the speed to them. Also when you check with tech support about possible line problems then come back to you with SNR ratios and discconections. Within 5 or 10mins generally the cause is found. Also dealing with ZEN when you have to escalate the issue to BT is a dream - really helps having them tell BT - 'No the problem is not fixed'

And before anyone asks I do not work for ZEN - just love a Brittish based company who provide excellent service.

Helpdesk Heroes or unappreciated geeks?


Ah the good ole days

As a lad of 11 would help my father in the 70's work on the local councils NCR mainframe. One evening a collegue of my fathers comes in to let him know 'THAT BLOODY' woman's problem has finally been sorted. Back then it was a big deal to get an electric type writer let alone use of one of the 5 terminals of the computer. SO the story goes:-

She get a new electric typewriter (golfball style) from IBM and a new desk to use it on ( they were very heavy) Anyway she complained from day one it kept putting random spaces everywhere. People went to check it - they tried - no fault found. IBM were getting worried as this was a good contract and dispatched a senior techy to look at this issue. He checked it - no fault found. He advised the office he woudl stay until he found the fault.

The woman came back from her coffee break - she always took one when and engineer arrived. The engineer asked her to start working. After 2 mins asked her to stop and get another coffee as he could fix the issue. Her manager came in all puffed up and demanded to know what was wrong etc as this had taken to long to resolve. Only to find the techy lowering the height of the IBM desk ( they had screw type legs) The manager asked what he was doing - he replied fixing it!

The woman came back started typing - and no errors. The techy asked to speak to her manager privately. It turns out that the woman got the job because she had (how can I put this) a large chest. Everytiem she started typing her breasts touched the space bar on the typewriter. By lowering the desk no more problem! The techy left the manager to tell her.

That was the first and I think one of the best helpdesk storires I have heard

(Bootnote my father made me promise not to tell my mother!!! - Well I was 11)


And Another one

After starting my own Computer Company - I soon relaised what I had let myself in for.

Epson inkjets - they started shipping CDROMS instead of Floppys. Big pain for W95 users with No CD ROM. Anyway the standard question when you bought one was - DO you have a CD ROM drive?

This user said yes they did - so off they went. 2 hours later they called up complaining it didn't work. Usual checks is the computer on , printer plugged in CD ROM in the drive? Nothing was working so off my collegue went - she then came back with the printer!? I wanted to know if it was broken? - No she said they had no CD ROM drive. But they said they did. Yes she said they have a CD ROM player (for music) in the office. The user plugged in the printer and went over to the radio / CD Player and inserted the CD ROM - and wanted to know why it didn;t work.

We never gave them back the printer - sent a refund in the post!