Re: Keyword filtering
Worse, I used to live in Chorlton-cum-Hardy ...
Typically referred to as "The Scunthorpe Problem" ..
204 posts • joined 30 Mar 2010
Decorating my bedroom with Fairy Lights bought from a jumble sale, I'm not sure how old, but before I was ten.. Got several shocks from those before I learned to be more careful! One doesn't initially realise that even though the bulbs are rated at 12V or whatever, break the circuit, the ends are at the full 240V!
Mid 90s, I was doing a house re-wire as a favour for friends of my now-ex. The previous occupant of the house had done some 'interesting' modifications to the electricals, such as a pair of thin "bell wire" wires sticking out high up a wall, with a label "for clock" attached. (Judicious testing identified them as live, so I went looking for the source. Under the floorboards of the bedroom above, the ring main cables had been stripped back to bare copper, and this thin stuff *wrapped around them* then the boards replaced - nothing to secure the joint, no insulation, nothing...)
To try and make sense of this mess wasn't going to fly, so I was replacing everything. That evening I was in the kitchen and had already pulled every fuse bar a 32 or 40A fuse for the cooker - the cooker had one of the old isolation switches with a regular 13A socket built in, into which I plugged a table lamp to get some light. I'd been working my way around the kitchen pulling the old sockets and just cutting the wires behind because they were not going to get reused. Got to the last socket, squeezed my cutters, and got a large flash of light, a loud bang, and total darkness as the lamp went out. Followed by a hesitant "are you all right?" from the freshly terrified woman who had been watching from the doorway.
Bloody idiot had only wired that socket into the cooker circuit! I was fine; cutters had a decent insulated handle, but they now had a nasty gash out of them, after passing god knows how many Amps at 240V, before the fuse blew, and were pretty much ruined.
I'm especially careful these days!
My daughter asked me for a mouse pad the other day; it seems her desk is too shiny for the optical mouse, and the bit of paper she was using was falling apart!!! Not having one to hand, I had a dig through my workshop and found her a promo one I'd liberated from work some time previously. Still in good condition, it was from a local-ish motor company and promoted the BMW 328ci, which a quick google dates it to the late 90s, about ten years before she was born! She went away happy..
Thank you for that explanation!
Early 1980s, I was an apprentice for Ferranti Computer Systems and spent a stint in the department that looked after the computers that work was done on, rather than the ones that we built. Big room, couple of VAX 11/780s, an 11/750 (or might have been the other way around) with the associated tape drives, and a smattering of MicroVaxen to round things off. All linked to terminals all over the various buildings...
I remember coming in one morning to a panic as one of the three 8' high air conditioning units had failed, causing the other two to ice up, and the room temperature to skyrocket... It's nice to know the mechanics of what happened, after all these years!
Mrs irrelevant was stuck in one hospital or another for most of 2020.. I won't say which one this happened in, but the block her ward was in at one point had two lifts, one at each end. The lift nearest the main entrance was of of order, so it necessitated a fairly long walk through the ground floor labyrinth to reach the other lesser-used lift. This was a trip we got used to, her needing to step outside for "fresh air" occasionally, and me coming in to see her but not officially being allowed on the ward.
Anyway, taking her back up one evening, secondary lift is sat on ground floor with its doors open. We go in, press the button, doors close, pause, and open again. Reasoning that it might be a sensor not registering a proper closure, we try again, and I give the door a helpful extra shove just as it closes, and it works, and keeps on doing so.
Couple of days later, same problem. Except no amount of shoving or banging the door helps. As she's in a wheelchair, the stairs were not an option.. Phoned the ward, who called maintenance, who promised a visit next day.. In the meantime, they had to find her a bed on another ward she could get to.
It was maybe just as well it failed while she was downstairs, rather than up, though I did wonder about the fire safety implications - it took them over two days to get it working. They eventually fixed the main lift, too..
We had similar results emailing the chairman's office of Powergen some years ago over an issue that the regular customer "service" bods couldnt get their head around and kept kicking to the kerb. (Due to a sequence of takeovers, the company we had originally signed up with were no more, and nobody had sent us any bills for about 18 months, then powergen sent us an outrageous one. By quoting their own letters and procedures back at them, and with somebody dealing with it who actually had power to make decisions, it was reduced considerably, then compensation for all the errors reduced it still further, to the point where it was cheap!)
The senior consultant I saw walk up to an external door with a prominent bright red sign "emergency exit only - door is alarmed" and push it open to the sound of a very loud buzzer.
To be fair, I heard her on the phone to security shortly afterwards apologising; she'd just arrived back from leave and prior to her going away it had been an allowed easy way out to the car park.. I can only assume that familiarity made her not notice the new signs.
Back in the distant past, when I was an apprentice at Ferranti Computer Systems, one dept I was seconded to (SSG I think) they had boxes and boxes of very wide rainbow ribbon cable all over the place. It seems somebody had needed 100mm for a project, but had ordered (from RS!) 100 boxes (each of many meters.)
I'm still chipping lengths off the portion I was allowed to take, nearly 40 years later..
The first twitter post I saw was someone querying github as a dependency was broken.
The BBC posted a link to a breaking news item that I couldn't see because of the errors, 503 and connection failed. But after a brief "bbc.com does not exist" it started working. Someone said they'd switched away from Fastly, so I guess they had fallback measures in place, unlike most other places.
I loved the verve using a Google Docs page to get the news out, and forgetting to disallow editing....
The photos in other reports all show banks of machines, not one plugged in to the mains, but still connected to everything else. Did they really just unplug each of them, rather than just switching off the supply, then take the pictures? Seems an odd point to do so. I'd be less surprised to find it was still being set up, hence the lots of visitors.
I've got a DECT base station that talks IP. Ported our main BT number to A&A VoIP years ago, on dropping one off the two phone lines (One for dial-up, one to chat on. Remember those days?) so now I can use whatever Internet access I want, and not have to worry about keeping numbers or technology, or even staying in the right part of the country! Not had any issues with call quality or reliability, and it's been totally transparent to callers and family.
It was indeed keyed but could (normally) fit in two ways round. Designers missed a trick totally by not having it wired so that turning it over acted as a cross-over.
Reminds me of one time I got called to a top floor office where someone had tried to set up a BBC Micro and CUB Monitor, and only had a screen full of solid colour. On investigation, they had managed to find a cable that had the 5-pin X on one end, connected to the R423 port, and a 5 pin 180degree on the other that fitted the monitor perfectly .. Swapping the modem cable for a RGB one worked much better...
Back in the mists of time, I was working as a programmer at a reseller of accounts software. This was based on a varient of COBOL and ran multi-user on comodity hardware. (the OS was "BOS"..) you could easily support a couple of dozen users on a 286, assuming you'd bolted on enough serial ports - everything ran on serial dumb terminals. Mostly Wyse.
We'd just got this new trainee in at the office, and for lack of anywhere else to sit him, had plonked him at the console of the box running the dev dept. It offered the exact same user interface as the terminals, but usually wasn't used except when somebody needed access to the floppy or tape drive and didn't want to walk across the room twice.
Anyway, we were all beavering away when every terminal in the room froze.. Looking towards the "server", it transpired this new hire had got himself stuck, and spotting he was sat "at a pc" had simply hit the reset or power switch to reboot. We had to educate him gently into the implications of what a "multi-user" system was... I'm fairly sure he didn't do it again, though this might be been achieved by escalating provision of an extra dumb terminal!
I actually got a letter from the local police late last year, "your car was spotted driving without insurance. We expect this was a mistake, fix it." or words thereabouts.
As it happens, it was a mistake, and not even mine. It's a lease car, and they do the insurance, and it seems something had gone wrong when we extended the lease, six months previously.. As it was a weekend I got the letter, and the insurance firm was shut, and now we all knew, I wasn't allowed to drive it. The leasing firm gave us an unlimited taxi account to use until it was sorted out. Nice, if inconvenient..
I'm still amazed that it both took so long for the cops to spot, what with most of my driving being city-centre pottering about, and that they simply wrote to us rather than stopping us and hauling me away in irons.
Ah... The time the bean counters at one client decided to have a purge of all the unused telephone lines coming into the building. Unused determined by "having no call charges."
All the incoming-only fax lines for each department, top floor executives, etc., I would have thought could have been forseen. The kicker was their killing off the ISDN line that was the sole Internet connection for the company. (1990s, so mostly just used for email; only the higher-ups had web access.) It was on some bundle tariff so there were no individual calls listed.
It was only when I actually tried to turn on the news channel that I realised the live-TV wasn't working. For some reason my freeview-plus enabled TV couldn't even tune into broadcast telly without a network connection. In the end, I had to "watch live" through iplayer on the firetv box that it is usually tuned to and which had stolen the LAN cable. (The TV is a Lidl special Sharp androidTV that is so crap that even netflix crashes every ten minutes or so, hence it being relegated to use as a monitor only.)
Thinking about it, I'm not sure there's a TV in the house that can pick up broadcast signals..
Reminds me, many years ago, we had a customer in Accrington where the building had a canal hard alongside, with the accounts office overlooking.
There was one particular printer that was forever giving problems; some big heavy duty thing that weighed a ton, but I swear it was broken more often than working. Anyway, I arrived one day for another task, and it was gone, replaced by an Epson, IIRC. I asked what happened to the old printer, and was gestured towards the still-open window... It must have made quite a splash!
In in one of those inner city slum areas. Except we're being dragged up by new apartment developments all around us. Phone lines are delivered by underground cable that is so bad that BT originally refused to supply their launch 512Kbps service! ADSL2 got us a max of 6Mbps, and VDSL/FTTC we now get a moderately unreliable ~30Mbps. There's some ducting NYNEX put in in the 90s but never progressed, and Virgin still says no plans to deliver in the area. I'm waiting for FTTP to be available at a sensible price.
A relative moved into a new-build "affordable housing" a mile away, which had FTTP and Virgin Media cable both pre-installed.. I'm intensely jealous.
Not quite in the same league as other comments, but an 80 mile round trip to a "faulty pc" which was fixed by unplugging the cable to the speakers and reinserting them into the correctly matching coloured socket still sticks in my mind..
I hadn't taken the original call.. I think it was the MD, who was not known for his technical prowess. Had it been me, I might have actually done some basic fault finding before sending out an engineer.
Place I used to work at, 1990s,we had a room bookings product we were selling to local authorities for their committee rooms, leisure centres, etc.
I distinctly remember one authority where they sent only management to the discussions. They ordered the system, and we installed it fine. But the staff that actually had to use it did everything they could to sabotage it. Eventually we got thrown out and lost the sale.
It appeared that we were the innocent victims in some internal politics/infighting, where the staff hated the manager who dealt with us and ordered the product, so of course they were going to do everything possible to find fault and show him up.
I believe lessons were learned, and we ensured we involved the people who were actually going to have to use the system, thereafter. Certainty we manged not to have another repeat. (Although we did get issues at one site trying to replicate management reports where the staff eventually admitted they just made the figures up!)
"Although I do now find conversations interesting when people repeatedly call accessible parking, or accessible toilets, "disabled". Have you broken the parking space in some way, is it no longer able to function as a parking space? Have you disconnected the toilet so that it doesn't work any more?"
Local club, built in the 1980s, had one toilet door with a very prominent "Invalids" label on it, presumably there from new. It was still like that when the building was demolished a few years back.. Now there's a term that thankfully fell into disuse. Disabled is almost benign in comparison.
Which reminds me ... having a surname with an apostrophe in it, I'm often assaulted by websites that tell me I have an "invalid name" :-p
We had a customer that exact same thing happened to ... they stored the backup tapes in a safe. And the safe got nicked, whole!
Thankfully it got found in a secluded spot adjacent to a nearby railway line, smashed open, sans cash but with the tapes abandoned.
I had this exact thing happen to me .... with prisoner transfer documents faced me from various courts and intended for a local cage-on-wheels company. It transpired a '8' had turned into a '3' on a multiple-times-photocopied fax list of contractors that had been making it's way around the country... In the end, it was only because they were switching over to a "more secure communications medium" (probably email!) that they stopped...
Shame, reading about the low-lifes was occasionally entertaining, and gave me a reason to keep hold of the old fax machine that's now buried in a cupboard somwhere..
Sounds like the temporary classrooms I started out in at my primary school, 1972. We moved out into a new purpose designed open-plan school the other side of the field a couple of years later. A new school took over the buildings, which my sister attended for a time, and a quick look on streetview and it seems the same buildings are still there, 50 years on, albeit with extensions at the back, and now operating as a childcare facility. I hope they've moved on from the outside loos in the small outhouse to the side of the playground, though!
"Cats don't always get their wicked way with bugs bunny."
I had a rabbit once that used to have his wicked way with the cats... Any that strayed into the back yard where he was allowed to roam free would get jumped on and bonked furiously..
This same rabbit managed to jump onto the 4' dividing wall, and from there onto the top of the shed, and stare down at us through the dining room window. (and then hop down and eat the weeds next door..) I had to add a chicken wire height extention to the wall in the end.
UK BT modular plugs, when wired correctly to those older phones with proper bells, have an interesting property in that if you cover just one of the pins with sellotape, they ring fine, but when you lift the handset to answer them....
... They carry on ringing..
Sorry to my Ferranti colleagues, 1982..
Only time I saw the Big Red Button pressed in earnest, Ferranti Training School, nearly 40 years ago. Instructor had just started teaching us how to use this big fancy machine tool. Might have been a lathe, but my memory is hazy. One of us still-really-kids watching at the front suddenly fainted.. I've never seen anybody move so fast to shut things down. I guess it was pure reflex, as the lad didn't even tip towards the machine.
I loved the idea of roaming profiles. Set it up at one client as they transitioned to a proper Windows network rather than ad-hoc PCs. But it got slower and slower as time went on, to the point most users stopped logging off and on at all. Too many users storing too much local data (despite server shares for it all) on a 10Mbps LAN all trying to sign on at once..
Yep.. We had a few sites where we did that.. Upgrade their system and they got a new box next to "the computer" that was accepted as necessary but otherwise ignored.
On power switches, I had occasion to ask one user to switch off and on again, once, and she asked how. Press the power switch. Didn't know where it was.. It turned out that the computer had been switched on when she started at the company, several months previously, and she'd never turned it off since.
1990s, Hour each way trip on site to a callout at a small business.
Speaker and microphone wires were swapped over... You know the sort, the one with coloured plugs that have to go into matching colour sockets. Quite why they needed sound on a office PC (long before video calling, even VoIP, became possible) and why it was so important I had to make a special trip, I never knew. I also don't know if they got charged for the callout. This was a new business being run from the converted garden outbuilding of the MD after his previous venture had gone bust, I'm assuming his business skills were on a par with his IT skills...
I was hanging about in the back of a meeting room, on hand for if any technical questions came up during a presentation of our accounts packages to a potential new client. They'd not yet started, but everybody was present, potential clients included, when the salesperson turned to me and said 'Hey, when I was checking this out earlier, I got an error message when I did this', did it again, and the program crashed...
..on the huge projection splashed on the wall in front of the visitors ...
( dreadful resolution, monochrome LCD panel that was placed atop a school-memories-type overhead projector!)
Yups ... ~1998 or so,we had more than one customer complaining that the file server was full, again. Doing a search for >100MB files (big for the day) would regularly turn up dodgy video files in personal folders. All downloaded over their 64Kbps ISDN links, and usually in the folders for executive level accounts, as few underlings had internet access at the time. We'd just delete them on-sight and report the problem solved. Nobody ever complained ...
I was given a work phone, back when they were still relatively shiny and new.
Eventually, I got given one that came in a bouncy rubber case - it seemed that the cheap plastic which nokias of the day were made from couldn't cope with being dropped when you had your head up in a suspended ceiling running cables.
I don't think I ever intentionally dropped one, but I had one of those bosses that used to phone about every 10 minutes to see how you were getting along, and juggling cables, tools and phones atop a ladder was never a good idea.
I had need to run a couple of network cables under a footpath into a portacabin. Only about three feet, but they wouldn't countenance stringing then across up high, which was somebody's first suggestion. I just ran sone 50mm drain pipe, left it with the cables in and a length of cord, just in case I had to come back.
Couple of months later I did need to go back.. found some joker had added a mains power cable to the mix, using my pull cord, obviously, and hadn't bloody replaced it..
I was one of the first ADSL subscribers in our area (one of Freeserve's trial installs before full launch, 1999 I think) and thus got an engineer install. I'd already got a wired telephone extension running through the cellar to the back room where the computer was, so expected them to just do whatever gubbins was needed back there. But no, back then it needed a new master socket at the front, and another extension running the ADSL port to a special RJ11-only socket placed next to the existing telephone one in the back. At least he used the cellar route. I got the full 512Kbps, too. (But the exchange was only 200M away down the road..)
One of the reasons I bought my own domain, 1996 or so.. I was already on my 2nd ISP, and realised that using their included email addresses wasn't going to be a long term solution. The Mrs came with a hotmail account, for much the same reasons. I've lost count how many times we're swapped ISP since then...
I'm sure I've told this one before, but..
Many years ago, the small firm I worked for landed a contract to install a room bookings and accounts system for a raft of council owned leisure centres. All went swimmingly (even at the sites without a pool) until it came to the monthly report that went off to the council to show how well the centre was doing. Try as we might, we couldn't get our report to match their old one, even with their historical data in our system. The council had told us how the figures were supposed to have been derived, which was how we had written the report. Theirs was written in, I think, Lotus 123, but it could have been a text editor for the number of calculations it made use of: zero. Every field was just typed manually into the cells.
In the end we asked the staff how they produced the figures at the end.. "oh, we just fiddle around with them until they look right!"
We left our report calculating things the "right" way. I am fairly sure they were left with their old pc, though, so they probably carried on making things up to send onwards.
The main problem with payroll problems is that it's the staff that get most disadvantaged by them. I remember as the newest person there getting pulled out of a work Christmas dinner to talk to a client with a payroll problem. Got back just as everybody else was finishing eating, and still had to make a 250 mile round trip on Boxing Day, when I was supposed to be off and spending time with my family, in order to sort out whatever had gone wrong. The client told us, in no uncertain terms, that if they didn't pay their several hundred minimum-wage care home staff on time, they wouldn't still have most of them the next day... Not sure I ever got thanked, or recompensed, by work for that, though the customer was fairly happy I recall.
Ah, Essex MUD.. Started off using the usually short lived accounts that got shared around bulletin boards, hen I got my own PSS account in order to play, but after the first bill came in, reverted to using work's... Since it was shared between the whole site, I don't think my usage was noticed..
JANET was fun to explore too!
We've had that! Live mouse brought in by the cat and released. We've still not found it, and I've put out (humane) traps and everything... No nibbling on cables, thankfully, but to make up for it, one of the cats loves licking wires, USB charging cables mainly. Another likes plastic carrier bags. I think we're living in a madhouse sometimes.
Finally. one of the older cats, whom is not normally known for catching anything, decided one day to bring home a dead goldfish! After we took it off her, she vanished outside and came back a few minutes later with another one, still slightly alive... By the time of the fourth, she'd obviously got it down to a fine art, as it was alive enough to last several months in the old tank hurriedly brought down from the top of the kitchen cupboards!
A few years ago we had several months where we got a spate of fax calls on our home phone. They would usually try two or three times then go away, and 1471, if it worked at all, would give me different numbers from all over the country that mostly didn't show up on google and answered, if rung back, with a fax tone. After one didn't give up and bugged us most of the afternoon, I dragged an old fax machine I'd bought at a boot sale out of the back of the cupboard and plugged it in, and on the next call, out popped a fax. A Prisoner Transfer Form from some court somewhere, giving full details of the offender and what he had been charged with and where he was supposed to be going to. With the court details at the top, I managed to get hold of the person sending the fax, whom was suitably horrified that I'd received it.. it seemed they had been trying to send it to Securicor or Group 7 or some such outfit with the vans with bars at the windows.. Googling them locally I found they had a single digit difference between their public fax number and our landline. Talking to the woman at court, it seems that there was a many-times-photocopied list of fax numbers that had been passed around the courts, and we were on the receiving end of enough noise in the photocopying that one number could look like another!!
The ICO were very interested, but by the time they got back to me I'd shredded the evidence, and we hadn't had more calls: The courts were supposed to have already transferred onto some electronic system (probably email...) by then, and were apparently told to stop using faxes, even as backup!
Even more annoying when you don't actually have PowerPoint installed yourself. Had that one, years ago, in an attachment respoding to my job application. Took me a significant amount of trouble to find a copy to install to find out that all they had attached was a map to their office!
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