* Posts by chrishansenhome

29 posts • joined 16 Feb 2012

Remember the 1980s? Oversized shoulder pads, Metal Mickey and... sticky keyboards?


Keyboard woes

Back in the mid 1980's I worked for a tab house in New York City. As all the directors were chain-smokers, puffing was allowed at the desks of all employees.

One employee in particular was a real nicotine fiend--he couldn't work without a fag in his mouth. However, he continually reported that his keyboard was bad. We would swap it out for a new one every few months, and it would work fine, until it didn't.

I decided to disassemble one of his keyboards to see if there was anything he was doing that affected the keyboards. When I had it partway disassembled I turned it upside down, and a fine grey mist floated down onto the workbench. Our colleague had been exhaling at the keyboard constantly during work hours, and the grey mist was cigarette ash that had been filtered in his lungs before settling into the keyboard. Smoking at workstations was banned and all then cleared itself up.

No one would be so scummy as to scam a charity, right? UK orgs find out the hard way


Churches get scammed a lot

When I lived in America, I was Secretary of a church Vestry. The Rector presented us with a CV of a person with impeccable qualifications and he recommended that we hire him as Manager of the entire church and soup kitchen charity that the church ran (a multi-million dollar operation). Within 6 months the man was exposed as a fraud--none of the academi qualifications he claimed were true, none of the recommendations were accurate, and he'd embezzled money to pay for his daughter's wedding. Moral of that story: don't ever hire a person who will be handling money unless you've verified his qualifications.

Here in the UK, another charity I was a director of was scammed by a temporary employee who changed the bank details for a payee to a bank account that he himself controlled. The charity lost £95K and hardly got any of it back. The person who did this was a temp worker in the controller's office whose credentials weren't adequately checked. Moral of the story: see above!

Magnetic cockroaches, dirty money, wombat poo and posties' balls: It's the Ig Nobels 2019


This comment is not about wombat poo at all

While wombat poo is something that we can discuss for aeons, a more pressing subject is the name of the presenter of the awards. He's not Mark Abrams, he's Marc Abrahams.

As I have twice won Annals of Improbable Research's monthly limerick contest, I am well acquainted with his name and hope you'll correct the error precipitously. Or else I'll come on stage after a minute shouting "Please stop...you're incorrect."

Divert the power to the shields. 'I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain!'


Bribery over a new server

All this reminds me of what General Eisenhower said about the D-Day landings and the preparation for it: "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."

What would Jesus tweet? Church of England hands down commandments for Anglicans on social media


We've seen this all before.

This whole argument is so Hebrews 13:8.

Are you sure you've got a floppy disk stuck in the drive? Or is it 100 lodged in the chassis?


Sheila wasn't the first.

I was working for a market research tabulation house years ago. One of the major functions of the company was keypunching data onto floppy disks so that we hacks could tabulate it. One of the keypunchers called me and said that she couldn't get her data onto a disk whatever she did. Of course, she had inserted the disk into the space between the two floppy drives in her computer. When I opened it up, there were four or five disks similarly placed. How we laughed.

Hold horror stories: Chief, we've got a f*cking idiot on line 1. Oh, you heard all that


Workers aren't "resource"

A cow-orker of mine at a previous job was on the phone to another cow-orker in an office in another country. The far-off gentleman referred to my co-worker as "resource". The "resource" immediately shouted on the phone "I'm not a f*cking resource! I'm a worker!" The remote co-worker had the call on speakerphone and the entire office, including clients, heard the outburst.

My co-worker was terminated the next day, sadly, as he was one of the few sane people in the company.

Tech bribes: What's the WORST one you've ever been offered?


Bribery over a new server

Many moons ago I was the test manager for a company that made some software or other--not being specific, you understand. It was difficult for us to get time and space on the company's large server system to run our tests, so my manager suggested that there was budget to buy another server specifically for testing. I thought that was a capital idea, and quickly identified the company that made that server (identical to the one we had). I put a proposal together, got my manager's approval, and entered into negotiations with the outfit that made the server.

A week or so later, I got a phone call from the salesman for that outfit. He said, "We've got tickets for an important football match and we wondered if you'd attend as our guest." As I'm originally American, and have no interest in football..er...soccer I declined. Not being deterred, the salesman asked whether anyone else in my department would be interested. Sadly, no one was, so that bribe went uncollected.

There followed tickets to Wimbledon, which were dangled in front of us. Again, no takers.

Meanwhile, the proposal wended its way through our organisation, getting applause at every turn, until it got to the BOFH. He said, "This server would weigh 10,000 kg including the disk arrays. The floor in the computer room is not able to take that additional weight. So, we can't do it."

It almost made me wish I had been interested in football.

Customer satisfaction is our highest priority… OK, maybe second-highest… or third...


The customer is always lying

I worked for a company back in the late 1980's-early 1990's that had a UNIX version and a DOS version. I was technical support, and got a call one day from a customer running the DOS version.

"My data run just stopped working."

"Oh, what is the screen showing you?"




I went to the programming department and asked the engineer who wrote the DOS port of the program. She said, "Oh, that's easy. The customer has run out of disk space for their data run. Tell him to delete some files on the disk and run the program again."

I did that, and the program ran correctly. I did not enquire of the programmer why "Pinocchio" was selected as the error message for "Disk full".

Mr Angry pays taxman with five wheelbarrows worth of loose change


Re: Weigh the coins

Oh dear. According to the US Treasury, which is responsible for US currency, all notes and coins are legal tender, but individual organisations can develop policies for payment in legal tender. From their website:

'The pertinent portion of law that applies to your question is the Coinage Act of 1965, specifically Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, entitled "Legal tender," which states: "United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues."

'This statute means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise. For example, a bus line may prohibit payment of fares in pennies or dollar bills. In addition, movie theaters, convenience stores and gas stations may refuse to accept large denomination currency (usually notes above $20) as a matter of policy.'

State and local governments and agencies are "organisations" under the meaning of the statute. So, while the DMV may, if it wishes, accept pennies for the settlement of a debt, it is within its rights to make a rule that coins under a certain denomination are not accepted at its offices, unless its State has passed a law mandating that it must accept coins of all denominations.

I'll get my hat and coat,

Nitwit has fit over twit hit: Troll takes timeless termination terribly


Re: Twitter's problem

Twitter is great for witty remarks, references to websites, and general short posts. It seems also to be good for abuse.

When people over in the US bleat about private organisations censoring them, they conveniently forget (no one learns civics in US schools any more) that the First Amendment only bans the government from inhibiting speech. Private organisations may choose who they allow to speak/write/post in their forums. And Twitter, not being part of the US Government, can ban trolls and pests and the said trolls and pests can do nothing about it but complain.

Holy kittens! YouTube screens go blank


Re: "Funny" error messages

The funny error messages aren't new. Around 30 years ago I worked for a company that made a DOS research tool. Every once in a while I'd get a service call from a user reporting that their program had stopped with the error message: "Pinocchio". I would then tell them that it meant their hard disk was full and they would have to make more room before the program would work.

Why "Pinocchio"? I asked the programmers and answer came there none. Their noses got a bit longer, though.

Brit polar vessel christened RRS Sir David Attenborough


Submersible name?

Not Boaty McBoatface. Surely it should be Sinky McSinkface.

I'll get my hat and coat.

Computers shouldn't smoke. Cigarettes aren't healthy for anyone


Keyboard hell

When I was working in New York years ago, we had a user who was quite a chain smoker. (This was long before smoking in offices was prohibited.) He had a particular problem with keyboards--he went through them in about 6 months. The office continued to provide him with new keyboards, but after a while the management asked me to investigate. I took his last borked keyboard and turned it over. A cloud of fine grey dust floated down to the desk. He had been exhaling quite close to the keyboard and what escaped from his lungs did not escape from the keyboard. He was asked to smoke outside.

Love your IoT gadget but could you keep the noise down?


The automated house reminded me...

...of a Ray Bradbury short story "There Will Come Soft Rains". An automated house deals with "life" after a nuclear war.

How Microsoft will cram Windows 10 even harder down your PC's throat early next year

Thumb Down

Re: The fiends!

I've killed three puppies so far, then. Every time I try to use Windows 10, my machine freezes after a short but indefinable period of time. I did buy and install a new graphics card, as I wanted one anyway and thought that the screen freeze might be due to graphics driver problems, but no dice.

The first time I tried Windows 10, I got in touch with their support department in the (vain) hope that they might help. The gentleman I spoke to, after my explaining the problem, said that he was only qualified to help with installation problems, and I needed to talk to their technical desk. He transferred me, and I waited on the phone for half an hour before I was disconnected. I do not have the heart to try again, and online searches for similar problems haven't yielded much fruit.

I'm staying with Windows 7.

YouTube bloggers told to slap 'advert' stickers on their vid posts


Probably only enforceable in the UK

Most bloggers/vloggers are based elsewhere, particularly the US. Our CAP hath no authority in that realm, or indeed any realm other than our own. So plugging products will go merrily on, except here.

7/7 memories: I was on a helpdesk that day and one of my users died


I was just back from India, and ill, but miss my bubbly co-worker who died

I was rooted to home as I was suffering from the aftereffects of a work trip to Bangalore and Pune. So I watched it all on TV. When one name was mentioned, I recognised the name as the PA at the company I'd worked for when I first came to London. She died at Russell Square together with her fiancé.

Being unable to go out or do anything, I felt helpless and horribly sad and angry. In the years since I often feel uncomfortable as I ride a bus through Tavistock Square or a Piccadilly Line train through Russell Square. Had I not been ill that day, it could very easily have been me. RIP Samantha.

Your hard drives were riddled with NSA spyware for years


Re: Grzegorz Brzeczyszczykiewicz

I plugged it into Google Translate and used the pronunciation tool to listen to his name. I do wish the pronouncer would slow down, though. I got the "B" fine--everything else was a blur.

When algorithms ATTACK: Facebook sez soz for tacky 'Year in Review' FAIL


My dead father

I got a review that included a picture of my partner with my father, who has been dead for 11 years. I don't know how they got that picture--to my knowledge I didn't post it this year.

What I would have liked is a box to tick once that asked whether I wanted to see my "Year in Review", and then boxes to tick to say whether I wanted to post it or customise it.

What I ended up doing was posting it to my Timeline but marking it "Only me". As I rarely visit my timeline, it'll be buried for all time. I trust that next year FB will make it clear that people who don't want to see this or post it can stop it easily and once.

BBC Trust candidate defends licence fee, says evaders are CRIMINALS


I'm forced to watch the BBC at the hospital

When I go to my regular clinic appointment, I'm forced to watch some of the drivel that passes for game shows on the BBC. It's heartbreaking to realise that there are so many stupid pillocks available for the Beeb to rein into making fools of themselves.

I rarely watch live TV, and only within the last month have I been able to receive over the air broadcasts, once the tall building between me and Crystal Palace was demolished. So I have Sky (boo, hiss) only for the reception. The Beeb is overpriced, oversold, and not worth the £145+ a year that I pay. Its executives and "stars" are paid astronomical sums to push drivel through the airwaves.

The government is now saying that they will decriminalise not paying the license fee. The Beeb execs spat out their champagne when they heard that. I'm all for it.

Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch


Left-handers are "left" out with the Apple Watch

It seems to only be a watch for right-handers, as the controls are on the right-hand side. Even if I needed one, being left-handed I wouldn't be buying one.

IT jargon is absolutely REAMED with sexual double-entendres


Gepetto would be proud

A company I used to work for wrote applications for DOS (long ago, of course). At that time hard disks were limited in capacity. Every once in a while a client would call us (I was in the client service area) and say, "I've had a very strange message from your program. All of a sudden it stops and 'Pinocchio' appears on the screen. What's wrong?"

I'd say, "That means your disk is full. Delete some files and try again."

Classy Oregon diners tipped waitress with 'crystal meth' – cops


Happened to me 15 years ago

In my building live some people who have special needs. Around 15 years ago one asked me for some help in doing something or other DIYish. I helped him out and thought nothing more of it.

At Christmas I found two Christmas cards in my mailbox. One said, "Thanks for your help this year. I'm giving you a little gift." The other card had two rocks of crack in it.

I of course threw them away and thought no more of it. I've dined out on the story many times, though.

OK, so we paid a bill late, but did BT have to do this?


The same thing happened to me. One of their engineers was "fixing" a neighbour's line in our block of flats. My line went dead while he was there. I went out to the utility room and asked him to fix mine. Of course, he said he couldn't and that I should call BT. I had to shout. He fixed it.

Polish man mistakes hot iron for mobe


Ear cleaning and mobile phones

An acquaintance was swabbing his ears with cotton buds. He puts one in each ear and uses them concurrently. One day while cleaning his ears his mobile phone rang. Without thinking (common for him) he picked up his phone and put it to his ear, driving the bud painfully through his eardrum. He dropped the phone, shrieked, and clapped his hands over his ears on both sides, driving the other bud through his other eardrum. Took him a while and lots of medical attention before he regained full hearing.

Amazon: Time for a new Kindle Fire, this one's sold out


I got a Fire last April when I was in the US (thanks for the gift, brother!) I use it here as an e-reader, but not as a tablet. I am waiting to see if when Amazon finally release Fires here in the UK I'll be able to register it here and make it "legal". The interface is geeky and no intuitive, though. Battery life isn't much, either. So qualified "Pass" with the qualification removed when they start selling it here and I can legitimise it.

21st Century Sex: the shape of things to come


Re: Ambisextrous

The last line scans better as: "And was perfectly simple to clean."


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