* Posts by Lilolefrostback

89 publicly visible posts • joined 12 Sep 2010


Electron-to-joule conversion formulae? Cute. Welcome to the school of hard knocks


Even today

Two years ago, we installed a new program that requires a default printer be selected or it won't run. Program does not have a print function.

Not too bright, are you? Your laptop, I mean... Not you


Re: Ah, a first time user

You can also get conversion kits to turn real manual typewriters into computer keyboards. I'm tempted to do so and bring it to work. I'm sure the sound would really encourage my co-workers.

Breaking Bad or just a bad breakpoint? That feeling when your predecessor is BASIC


I do, on the whole, like the idea of shorter, simpler functions. However, out of curiosity, I recently wrote a program twice - once to just get it to work and once using the "shorter, simpler" paradigm. The former took maybe two hours (tested, documented, deployed). The latter took two days (tested, documented, deployed) and was more than twice as long.

Sometimes it's better to be simple about things.

NB: for a much larger program, shorter simpler functions would probably be desirable.

Today I shall explain how dual monitors work using the medium of interpretive dance


Re: IT managers were always the most difficult

Recently asked a user to send me a screen shot of the error message on her screen. She pulled out her phone, photographed the screen and emailed me the picture. But our management insists that all of our users are perfectly competent computer users. And pigs fly.


Re: Laptop + Monitor = two computers?

Until COVID, it was mostly a status thing. However, now the ability to tell much of our workforce to grab their laptops and go work from home would be a wondrously helpful thing. We had to scramble madly to enable those whose jobs permitted to work from home.

Behold: The ghastly, preening, lesser-spotted Incredible Bullsh*tting Customer


Re: Yes the users are bad

To be fair, sometimes we do the same. Last week, I received an email from a colleague (same IT dept, same job title and description) saying that when he'd run a program, it had given him an error. No details profferred, just that there was an error.

I had to actually email him for details on the error. Got the details, but no apology.

If we cannot do things sensibly, why should we expect our users to do so?

Elevating cost-cutting to a whole new level with million-dollar bar bills


Re: "Cars of the day... " Harumph. I owned an original shape Ford Ka from new.

I thought the Ford Ka was made in Boston. 8^)

A paper clip, a spool of phone wire and a recalcitrant RS-232 line: Going MacGyver in the wonderful world of hotel IT


Re: Proper lash up

If your government works like ours, it will be renamed the Permanent Overpass the day AFTER plans are announced to remove it.

Absolutely everyone loves video conferencing these days. Some perhaps a bit too much


Re: heefee, heefy, weefy, wiffy....

I had a Japanese co-worked ask me whether I like kanigee. Took quite a while to figure out he was a jazz fan talking about Kenny G.

That awful moment when what you thought was a number 1 turned out to be a number 2


Re: In pre-computer days people were used to memorize sequences....

I've been calling these things "magical incantations" for several decades (crap). I hate them. They inevitably break and the users have no understanding of how things actually work. I've seen some cases where the users don't even understand what the dratted things actually accomplish. "I do this every Friday afternoon because it's part of my job. I don't know what it accomplishes."

Sorry. Actually encountered this today at work. TGIF.

Captain Caveman rides to the rescue, solves a prickly PowerPoint problem with a magical solution


Re: Key workers

Oddly, we software types have been asking for years for the ability to work from home (at least occasionally) only to have the infrastructure types say that it cannot be done securely so "NO".

Last week, management decided that we were essential workers and that all essential workers that could do so would work from home. Lo and behold! We were told by infrastructure that yes we can work from home and that we've had that capability for years. That did not improve their reputation.

Tech can endure the most inhospitable environments: Space, underwater, down t'pit... even hairdressers


Re: Hair today, gone tomorrow

The barbers at the shop I attend all use their smartphones, including as POS terminals. Since they all had smartphones anyway, the whole setup was effectively free. I'm quite impressed.

When the satellite network has literally gone glacial, it's vital you snow your enemy


Re: They were left with a rather large bill

I see what you did there. Well, toucan play at that.

Behold the perils of trying to turn the family and friends support line into a sideline


Re: Twas ever thus

So that's what quantum entanglement is all about. Excellent.

I couldn't possibly tell you the computer's ID over the phone, I've been on A Course™


Re: He should be proud that of that guy

Do companies still even use internal phone systems of any type? I've been with my current employer for 6 years and there's been no internal phone system during my tenure. Cell phones and the odd land line (I know of only one actual wired phone). Just shy of 2000 employees. There has been talk about getting a few voip phones for the meeting rooms, but they've been talking for several years.

Our hero returns home £500 richer thanks to senior dev's appalling security hygiene


Re: Bah!

It's always amusing to see security for tech firms set up by non-technical types.

Years ago, I landed a job with a tech company in Texas (no names). Not knowing anyone in Texas, I figured I spend some evenings roaming around doing some photography. I didn't want to leave my (film) camera in a HOT car, so I asked the head of security (retired police chief) if I could bring it into the building. No. Could I leave it at the security desk? No. Ah well.

Now, the interesting bit is that I could bring in a briefcase or backpack and it would never be searched. Never. So I could sneak in a camera. Or I could just print documents out and lug them home. Or I could fax the documents (no PIN needed) anywhere in the world.

Yes a camera could be used to steal valuable IP. But it would be the least efficient method at my disposal. SMH.

Rise of the Machines hair-raiser: The day IBM's Dot Matrix turned


Re: Let's face it, who amongst us hasn't lost a tie to the...

At my first real job, it wasn't just dangling jewelry, rings (even wedding rings) were verboten and for good reason. The computers contained batteries and capacitors that held sufficient power to amputate a finger if the ring touched the wrong spot.

I don't have to save my work, it's in The Cloud. But Microsoft really must fix this files issue


She's not entirely wrong

If you use Microsoft's OneNote (there are some of us who actually like it), it saves everything automagically from the get-go, so it can be done.

Further, far too many years ago, when I read The Design of Everyday Things (wonderful read, by the way), the author advocated things just like automagic saving from the get-go.

And even if they don't do automagic saving from the get-go, a better message like "Your work has not been saved. Would you like to save it?" would probably be helpful.

Let's talk about April Fools' Day jokes. Are they ever really harmless?


Re: Error Messages

Yesterday (Friday) 30 minutes before the end of my work week, I received a support request from one of our departments. One of their computers had had a pop-up stating that the hard drive was reporting imminent failure. Since I support SOFTWARE not HARDWARE, I was a little peeved.

When I read the full details of the request, I really did not know what to make of things. The pop-up had appeared more than a week prior. They had rebooted the computer and had been using it ever since. They were filing the request "for information purposes".

I reassigned the request to the fellow who manages their hardware. I still really don't know how to respond to this, but I decided to leave my work phone at work this weekend (I'm under no obligation to carry it outside work hours).

Comms room, comms room, comms room is on fire – we don't need no water, let the engineer burn


Re: Leap Out And Let It Burn

HR being Human Remains?



would you call the help desk? Would you not call the fire department?

When customers see red, sometimes the obvious solution will only fan the flames


Re: Simplified?

First book I ever threw in the trash was Webster's dictionary when I discovered they considered imply and infer to be synonyms. I'll stick with the two-volume copy of the Oxford dictionary I inherited from my father.


Re: Ive been the dumb user...

You're assuming that

1. Feedback actually gets to the developers.

2. The developers actually have the authority to make changes based on feedback.

Sadly, neither of those assumptions would be a good bet.

Never let something so flimsy as a locked door to the computer room stand in the way of an auditor on the warpath


Re: First step, tell them to fire security

Yeah, personally learned the hard way that stopping break-ins can be more expensive than a simple break-in.

My car was broken into twice at my apartment parking lot, resulting in several hundred dollars damage to the door handles each time (about the same cost as my deductible, so mostly twas me out of pocket). After the second break-in, I simply left nothing of value in the car and left it unlocked.

If you're wondering, the car radio was the cheapest third-party radio I'd been able to find. No thief ever tried to steal it.

A real head-scratcher: Tech support called in because emails 'aren't showing timestamps'


Re: Top-posting makes sense unless you're reading your emails weirdly

Don't know where you work. Where I work, the vast majority of top-posted email I receive is the end node in a chain of emails (i.e. I have NOT been involved in the email chain until long down the chain). And I do have to do the stupid reading process from scratch to really understand what I'm being asked.

What I really want is an email system that can dynamically reconfigure a received email from top-posted to bottom-posted and from bottom-posted to top-posted (I throw in the latter for the sick, twisted preverts who like top-posting).


Yep. I once worked for a division of a very large computer manufacturer. Our division focused on defence industry. Another division focused on desktop PCs. We were required to use only our brand of PCs. Not unreasonable. However, what was unreasonable was that it was cheaper for us to buy our own brand of PCs from the local university than from our sister division. That was 30 years ago and it still leaves me shaking my head.

Is that a stiffy disk in your drive... or something else entirely?


Re: Help! My stiffies stuck in the slot

It wouldn't be too bad, having printers on lots of desks except that, inevitably, there'd be a boatload of different makes and models, all needing different drivers and requiring different configurations. A couple of our departments have just that. There is no need to have different makes and models of printers. But the purchasing guys have to buy what's cheapest when directed to buy, so the printers are always different.

User secures floppies to a filing cabinet with a magnet, but at least they backed up daily... right?


Re: Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

"Handy how it's always a woman who's doing the stupid thing as well in the story."

A lot of these stories come from teh 80s and 90s. Back then, computers in offices (and homes) were new. Typically they first wound up on desks of secretaries, most of whom were women and had never seen the silly things before. It's entirely reasonable that silly stories like this from that era feature women. That said, my best stories from that era feature men.


Seen this writ large

Back in the day (80s), IT convinced manglement to implement proper document control. So, all document master copies were provided to IT (on floppy). Unless documents were being updated, no electronic copies were to be kept elsewhere (paper copies were fine as needed). The floppies were locked in a nice cabinet in IT. Okay, rinky-dink by today's standard, but a decent start for that time.

A few months later, we needed to update documentation for a multi-year project, so we asked for floppies. After a week, no response. Another request, another week, more silence. This is getting to be an issue as we have customer deadlines to meet.

Turns out that the cabinet was sitting directly over the incoming mains for the entire plant. After months of bathing in the lovely field generated by the mains, the floppies were blank. We had to bring in temps to retype the documents (thank God for paper copies) so we could make updates.

Hello, tech support? Yes, I've run out of desk... Yes, DESK... space


Re: A modern twist

"I had to Google to work out how to shut a Windows 8 PC down.

I work in supercomputing..."

There is nothing super about Windows.

All good, leave it with you...? Chap is roped into tech support role for clueless customer


Re: "While you're here, could you just..."

And the tickets may show a pattern that might lead to a more effective resolution.

"Gee, printer XYZ needed to be repaired N times last year. Replacing it would actually save us money, now that it's past warranty."


Re: "While you're here, could you just..."

Do not ask me to "fix" your coffee machine. I don't drink coffee so, as far as I'm concerned, fixing the coffee machine entails putting it in the dumpster. You want coffee? take care of your own needs.


Re: Have you ever ended up being roped into doing more tech support than you’d bargained for?

In the early 80s, when I was in UNI, I loved Hewlett Packard. Now, nearly 40 years on, I hate Horrible Products.

Sure, we've got a problem but we don't really want to spend any money on the tech guy you're sending to fix it


Re: Driving staff away

I've encountered the reverse. My very first business trip ever was a short single day trip for a meeting in another city (specific details omitted to protect the guilty). Got up, ate breakfast, caught the red-eye (90 minute flight), took a taxi to the meeting, took a taxi back to the airport, had lunch (burger, fries, soda) at the airport, flew home, had supper at home.

My expense report requested reimbursement for two taxi rides, 8 hours parking at the airport, and lunch. And I got yelled at. For not claiming enough. I was told I should have claimed three meals for a total of at least $50 (this was mid 80s), not one meal for $6. I was making my coworkers look bad.

I claimed exactly what I had receipts for. When it comes to restaurants, I'm a paper napkin guy, not a cloth napkin guy.

Customer: We fancy changing a 25-year-old installation. C'mon, it's just one extra valve... Only wafer thin...


There is no correlation between the effort required to describe a feature and the effort required to implement said feature.

OK, team, we've got the big demo tomorrow and we're feeling confident. Let's reboot the servers


About that time, I was working for a major telephony equipment manufacturer. Yeah, it sound like a lot of money, especially when multiplied by the number of installs. However, it's very likely that the features paid for themselves within a month of installation.

A co-worker and I spent 6 months, so one-geek-year, working on a feature for 800 service. We charged the telco $100K per switch for that feature. We were talking to the telco rep a few months later and he mentioned that, on most switches, the feature paid for itself in a week. Needless to say, we were not encouraged.

Before you stomp on the equipment manufacturers, consider how much the telcos make.

Users fail to squeak through basic computer skills test. Well, it was the '90s


Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

You cannot leave it there: what <emphasis/> are you driving?

Are you sure your disc drive has stopped rotating, or are you just ignoring the messages?


Re: Error messages

Ah yes. "screen shot". I'm horrified by the number of "screen shots" I receive wherein the affected user has used his cell phone to photograph the error message on his computer monitor and then emailed me the photograph.

This is done because the users do not understand how to take an actual screen shot in Windows.


Re: Error messages

The meaningless error messages certainly don't help. I think they tend to train our end users that pop-up messages should be ignored.


Re: Gah. Users.

This is why I do not believe that SETI will ever find intelligent life: based on Earth's experience, there is NO evidence of intelligent life in this universe. At all. Ever.


Re: Gah. Users.

It's okay to leave a note on the machine, so that other users don't waste their time, but DO open a ticket and write the ticket number on the note so that other users know that service has been requested.

Racing at the speed of light, Sage superhero bursts through the door...


Re: Not me...

Not a clothing story, but along similar lines (not as happy an ending).

One of our engineers stayed late one night to solve a problem for a customer. Worked about 5 hours extra, but managed to get to work the following morning, only about 10 minutes late. Well, one of the gits from mahogany row was at the employee entrance with a stopwatch and gave him an earful for being late (didn't even ask why he was late, even though he knew that engineer was a very professional lad).

Engineer took the full brunt of it and then proceeded to find his manager to inform him that he, the engineer, would be working normal hours and nothing more thereafter. He left a few months later, and it was a definite loss to the company.

That was my first introduction to MBAs. I've see little to indicate that that incident was not representative of the typical MBA.

Tech support discovers users who buy the 'sh*ttest PCs known to Man' struggle with basics


Re: Speaking of shitty equipment

Wow. I wish.

One group at work puts together large document stacks to be sent to a client (before anyone starts in on "why don't you do it electronically?", there are LEGAL reasons for paper. Every person in that group has their own printer. Just about every printer is a unique make/model. Nightmare. There is no reason for it at all - any of the printers in use would suit all of the users. The folks that buy printers simply look for the best deal. Except that having to support umpty different printers is not the best deal.


Re: It's 2018

The key point in your post being "sort-of". Yes, they all know how to use facebook and twitter and, maybe, email. They can probably get on Amazon and order stuff. But they probably cannot use Word or Excel beyond the most basic of activities.

And, more to the point, they do not understand what is going on behind the scenes. They don't understand what file systems do for them. Or do not do for them. They do not seem to understand that the things they can do with a mouse on program X may well work on program Y. Many of them have no clue about keyboard shortcuts (even the very common shortcuts).

I've suggested, several times, to my mangler that we (corporation) need to train our users better. His response is always that we (IT) do not do training - that's the job of the training dept. All well and good, but, in that case, we (IT) need to communicate the clear needs that we have identified to training (and probably help training develop the curriculum). But IT has no interest in that. And, of course, our users' manglers believe that our users already know how to use computers so they don't need further training. And so, our users muddle along, making infuriatingly stupid hell-desk calls as they need to.

Sorry for the rant (although I expect many others have the same sad story).

Support whizz 'fixes' screeching laptop with a single click... by closing 'malware-y' browser tab


Not technical, but appropriate ...

Have you noticed that (bag) pipers often walk around whilst playing? Do you know why? They're trying to get away from the horrible noise.


Not technical, but typical.

I generally count the offering at church, with another fellow (for accountability). We have a nice little box that contains all the kit for counting, recording and preparing for the bank. Included in that kit are several ball-point pens. I cannot count the number of times that the other fellow has pulled out a pen, found it non-functional, and put it right back in the box. I presume he's expecting a miraculous recovery.

I usually grab the pen and drop it in the bin.

Powerful forces, bodily fluids – it's all in a day's work


Re: Diagnostic process

Thanks for using "chresmomancy". It was a new word to me, and I love encountering new words.

Attempt to clean up tech area has shocking effect on kit


Re: It happened to colour TVs, too....

Just imagine what that did to their lungs.


Re: It happened to colour TVs, too....

Long time ago (> 20 years), our team was being upgraded from dumb terminals connected to the mainframe to UNIX workstations (HP or Sun - don't recall) with lovely hi-res colour monitors. Two of us ran into problems - the colour monitors went crazy. They tried multiple monitors in both cubes - no joy. After about a day's investigation, it was determined that we were sitting directly over the incoming power mains for the entire building. And, oh, by the way, no one should be sitting in those cubes as the magnetic field was too high to be safe.


It only took them a couple of months to find us new cubes.

And still no super powers.


Re: Why is it always the cleaners?

Typically, you get what you pay for.

If you hire the cheapest people available to do the cleaning, you will probably get the least capable, least interested people doing the cleaning. If you choose to pay a bit more, you stand the chance of having reliable interested people doing your cleaning.