* Posts by GlenP

588 posts • joined 25 Apr 2012

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Big red buttons and very bad language: A primer for life in the IT world

GlenP Silver badge

Re: RM-05s

Don't think I ever read the service guides, I just had the job of updating the entire manual sets for the VAX, VMS and a PDP 11/45 that was never turned on but couldn't be disposed of. An entire bookcase of loose leaf manuals with pages to be removed, replaced and added every month.

GlenP Silver badge

RM-05s

We used them for backups of our two vaxen in my first job. The problem came when someone was demanding a restore of a particular file urgently and there were several disk packs to search through. We hit the problem of the drive not liking multiple disk changes and it popped the red button referred to in the story.

We let a DEC engineer pop it back in!

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz? Detroit waits for my order, you'd better make amends

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Murphy....

Mathematicians version has X is an unknow quantity

GlenP Silver badge

Re: “I already know what you want!”

Being a Northampton Saints rugby fan I used to have Wendy (as in Wendy Saints go marching in...) as my ringtone. That was fine until they arranged a charter train for a European Cup match in Cardiff. One phone rang in the carriage and half the passengers reached for their mobiles!

I changed it after that as being far too common,

UK's competition watchdog gives £31bn Virgin Media and O2 merger the seal of approval

GlenP Silver badge

Re: MVNOs

Mobile Virtual Network Operators, i.e. companies that sell mobile services but use a physical Network Operator to provide the actual connections.

New IETF draft reveals Egyptians invented pyramids to sharpen razor blades

GlenP Silver badge

It's something journalists in the wider world need to understand too.

A think-tank suggestion is heralded as, "The Government is planning to..."

Déjà bork: BSOD fairy pays key-cutting kiosk another visit

GlenP Silver badge

I've also had the sharp intake of breath, followed by, "Nobody keeps the blanks for those because they break the cutting machine!"

That was from a local indie key shop, went round the corner to Timpsons who took one look at the key, reached for the blanks and cut the copies. When we mentioned what the previous shop had said the response was, "Bullshit!"

Are you ready to take a stand? Flexispot E7 motorised desk should handle whatever you dump on it – but it's not cheap

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Am I the only one

Noop, not the only one.

I used to have mismatched monitors on my office desk until I bought a dual monitor stand.

I don't know why that should have made such a difference but it did, it was so blooming annoying I had to buy two absolutely identical monitors.

Protip: If Joe Public reports that your kit is broken, maybe check that it is actually broken

GlenP Silver badge

Re: PC Upgrade

We have a two strikes and your out policy.

If they lose or damage equipment we'll let it go first time and give them a verbal warning that subsequent damage or loss will be chargeable. So far we've never actually had to charge anyone (and to be honest I'm not sure we would).

GlenP Silver badge

Abbreviated and paraphrased version of a support call over 30 years ago (I've probably recounted this before on here):

User: "It's completely dead!"

Me: "Have you checked the power lead?"

User: "Yes!"

Me: "Can you unplug the power lead and plug it back in, making sure it's properly in?"

Pause

User: "Yes, I've done that - it's still dead!"

Me: "OK, I'll call an engineer but if they don't find a fault it will be chargeable."

User: "Whatever!"

Next Day

Engineer: "I've plugged the power lead in properly."

IBM Service (to User's boss): "Here's the call out invoice!"

User's Boss: "*&())*&%$("

Namecheap hosted 25%+ of fake UK govt phishing sites last year – NCSC report

GlenP Silver badge

Not Surprised...

...about NameCheap.

Friends had their domain and email hosting with them. The domain account was hijacked and spam was being sent from NameCheap's servers, despite password changes, etc. NameCheap (when they responded at all) refused to take any action and claimed it was my friends submitting the emails.

I transferred the domain to another registrar and miraculously the spam sending stopped instantly.

Can't get that printer to work? It's not you. It's that sodding cablin.... oh beautiful job with that cabling, boss

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Blame the Cable

Although I wasn't responsible for it I got involved in the first Cat-5 cabling that went in at a former employer (we'd previously used thinwire Ethernet with the make-before-break plugs).

The cabling people insisted it should all work but one part of the building would not connect whatever they tried.

I took one look and replaced the straight through cable from the master hub to the one servicing those connections with a cross over cable - this was before auto-sensing ports.

The so-called professional installers had come along with a mixture of identical looking straight and x-over patch cables then wondered why they had problems. They also didn't have enough sense to look at the port lights on the hubs and see hey weren't lit.

Traffic lights, who needs 'em? Lucky Kentucky residents up in arms over first roundabout

GlenP Silver badge

It beats a Detroit U-ey (or Michigan Left as they seem to prefer).

No turning left at a cross roads, just turn right (on Red is OK if there's nothing coming), get into the fast lane, do a U-Turn into the opposing fast lane and then go straight on at the junction (or straight on, U-Turn, turn right depending on the layout).

It took us Brits a while to get used to that one when I lived over there!

Don't cross the team tasked with policing the surfing habits of California's teens

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Users never want to change.

The best system or process is always the last one, not the current one. Users will moan like heck about a system but the moment you change it they'll be, "Can we have the old one back?"

George Clooney of IT: Dribbling disaster and damp disk warnings scare the life out of innocent user

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Am I Old?

Hence the so-called Turbo buttons that were actually Slow Down buttons to reduce clock speeds to XT levels. I recall quite a few programs that relied on the clock speed.

GlenP Silver badge

Am I Old?

I saw where that was going as soon as water was mentioned!

DRAIN was amusing in the office for a few minutes but, call me a spoilsport if you wish, should never have been unleashed on the insects* users.

*Back in the day it was reckoned there are only two levels in IT, Gods (the professionals) and Insects (everyone else).

We need to talk about criminal adversaries who want you to eat undercooked onion rings

GlenP Silver badge

Yes, although it does a lot of other things as well. Very useful it is too.

No, it is not "connected".

Lock up your Peloton smart treadmills, watchdog warns families following one death, numerous injuries

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Prime Example

First, they must pay for these machines - okay that's fine, it costs something to manufacture and produce them too

I looked at their exercise bikes. I believe the product cost has been hyped considerably before you even pay the subscription. Definitely not for me.

To have one floppy failure is unlucky. To have 20 implies evil magic or a very silly user

GlenP Silver badge
Pint

Re: eeee, when ah were a lad....

What's with these new-fangled newsgroup thingies? What's wrong with a Roneo'd newsletter?

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Copy Protection Blues

I know of one company that used to put a small hole in their distribution copies using a hot needle. It was in the unused space so didn't affect normal operation but it prevented the use of diskcopy. Simple but effective!

GlenP Silver badge

Take a computer from an air conditioned room and plug it in somewhere warm and kaboom - condensation all over the inside.

Back in the day, as they say, before setting up a newly delivered PC it would be left in the office for 24 hours to acclimatise, especially in winter as they'd often been stored in cold conditions.

Condensation was part of the problem but you needed the HD to be at room temp before low level formatting otherwise it may not be usable the next day.

How not to apply for a new job: Apply for it on a job site

GlenP Silver badge

Re: How not to find anything on the web : look for it with a search engine

I remember the days when a search would return one or, at the most a few, pages of results. If you were very lucky you actually achieved a Googlewhack, a single result, I did manage it once but only thanks to a misspelt word so it probably doesn't count.

Quality control, Soviet style: Here's another fine message you've gotten me into

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Not a translator

My homework started off in one language and finished in another!

I had that problem a couple of years ago on a whistlestop tour of Europe*. On the last evening in Calais, having visited 7 countries in three days, I ordered, "Deux bières, bitte".

Fortunately the barman didn't take offence and just laughed, apparently it was a regular occurrence.

Airline software super-bug: Flight loads miscalculated because women using 'Miss' were treated as children

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Who was the developer?

Why use title rather than date of birth

The Title field was probably at the top of the table and the developer didn't look any further.

When I took over my current role about a year after an ERP implementation there was a VAT report that never balanced. It had been referred back to the developers repeatedly with no solution found. I took one look at it and spotted the value*0.15 calculated field for the VAT, despite the fact the actual VAT charged amount was in the table being reported from.

Some developers are idiots.

Diary of a report writer and his big break into bad business

GlenP Silver badge

Many Years Ago...

I had a boss that always wanted changes, every single time a document was submitted.

Things that she'd "passed" three times would be wrong the fourth time and so on.

In the end we told her we wouldn't accept changes after the third submission, which she reluctantly agreed to, and we started deliberately introducing minor, but obvious, errors into the original document. She'd be happy to find something wrong and would leave all the important stuff alone.

Yes, there's nothing quite like braving the M4 into London on the eve of a bank holiday just to eject a non-bootable floppy

GlenP Silver badge

Too Many...

Far too many stories from the last 40 years or so to recount them all.

There was the user who was adamant she'd unplugged and replugged the power cable, that cost her boss a full call-out charge from IBM as the cable was half out of the PC..

MD of a customer insisted on a visit when I knew a reboot would fix the problem and told him so. They were only a few miles away, fortunately, but it still delayed them getting away on holiday (hence the panic) when they could have sorted it themselves in a couple of minutes.

Thousands of taxpayers' personal details potentially exposed online through councils' debt-chasing texts

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Public records

The tax bands and hence amount payable is public record here in the UK.

What isn't, and shouldn't, be of public record is that an account is in arrears and by how much (at least until the person is taken to court).

From Maidenhead to Morocco: In a change to the scheduled programming, we bring you The On Call of Dreams

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Site Installation

I did a day trip to Paris once, largely to deliver a laptop (in the days when they were £1,000s each). People said, "How nice!" The reality, apart from a rather nice lunch was several hours sat in airports, on planes and in terrifying taxis (I had to close my eyes), all compounded by getting to CDG a few minutes too late to transfer to an earlier flight and then the last two flights of the day being amalgamated* into one so a very long wait.

*Of course BA didn't say that's what was happening as they wanted to keep everyone in one place so we were stuck in a concrete box in the Eurohub terminal.

GlenP Silver badge

I once happened to be sitting with a Far East sales manager at a talk* on anti-corruption from our American corporate. At the end of the discussion he said he'd be resigning as he'd never make a sale again! He disappeared off with the legal people for an hour or so and came back with satisfactory answers as to how to deal with the situation.

*Part of a conference in a luxury hotel in Amsterdam. Not a bad few days away!

Gummy bears as a unit of measure? The Reg Standards Soviet will not stand for this sort of silliness

GlenP Silver badge

The Osman

Or even the Osman, inducted into the Reg Standards Converter last year and named after the tallest human being ever filmed by a BBC camera.

I know at least two former international rugby players who would dispute the last part of that statement.

Martin Bayfield features regularly and is 6' 10", Richard Metcalfe (aka TooTall) was around 7' and would have been filmed playing for Scotland. I once stood next to the former in a bar, he was stooping and I still got a crick in my neck talking to him.

'No' does not mean 'yes'... unless you are a scriptwriter for software user interfaces

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Distinctions

If I call you a cunt for dissing my shirt though, there's not really a question about whether I'm being offensive, and deliberately so

Only in your (and my) culture. In some cultures the word is considered mild swearing at most and calling someone a c**t would be friendly banter.

17 years since release, iMac G5 finally gets an upgrade after tinkerer shoves M1 Mac Mini inside

GlenP Silver badge

Dell Too

Dell went through a phase of capacitor problems on desktop motherboards. No spectacular explosions but for a while it was routine practice that if any problems were experienced you'd whip the lid off and look for the doming. To be fair Dell were very good about the replacements.

Remember that day in 2020 when you were asked to get the business working from home – by tomorrow?

GlenP Silver badge

We were lucky...

We already had remote desktop working in place but similar to the above we'd ended up with more CALs than we necessarily needed at the time which suddenly came in very handy! We also had a VOIP phone system with both PC and mobile apps and a lot of our users already had laptops or Surface tablets. We just added a few more licenses to the video conferencing (GotoMeeting in our case) and found enough hardware for the remaining users and we were good to go.

Like everybody it's not been entirely plain sailing, our Parallels remote desktop servers have struggled a little under the extra workload at times but overall we've had very few complaints.

The 40-Year-Old Version: ZX81's sleek plastic case shows no sign of middle-aged spread

GlenP Silver badge

The ZX81 was genuinely my first own computer, bought with the earning from a holiday job when I was 16. It kept me occupied until I bought a Spectrum at Uni. Mine is long gone now but I acquired one a couple of years back that a friend of a friend was throwing out.

The edge interfaces on both machines were vey useful, with assistance from a couple of hardware guys I had quite a few peripherals including a 4 fire button fully programmable* joystick for playing Halls of the Things on the Speccie.

*Programmable by attaching crocodile clips to a custom PCB.

GlenP Silver badge

I was at an exhibition and spotted a familiar UI on a very expensive piece of measuring equipment. They reluctantly admitted that there was a ZX81 motherboard inside the machine as it was a lot cheaper than sourcing and making their own.

I haven't bought new pants for years, why do I have to keep buying new PCs?

GlenP Silver badge

Re: When you say "pants",

I played the opposite card, I am a Windows guy so made sure parentals got Samsung tablets so Brother could do the support.

A word to the Wyse: Smoking cigars in the office is very bad for you... and your monitor

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Don't think there's anything worse than the motherboard of a smoker's laptop...yuk

I will claim the 5th Amendment over a cup of coffee that landed inside a CRT monitor. Good job it didn't have sugar in so after drying out overnight it worked perfectly.

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Don't think there's anything worse than the motherboard of a smoker's laptop...yuk

Coke is another effective way of destroying motherboards. Had a nearly new laptop trashed because the user was careless enough to spill coke in it and stupid enough to not admit it until it was too late. The keyboard, mother board and screen all got a good dose so it was beyond economic repair.

The one that had soup in it* we managed to recover except for a new screen!

*User put laptop and container of soup in the same bag, recipe for disaster from the start.

Big Tech workers prefer 3 days at home, 2 in the office. We ask Reg readers: What's your home-office balance?

GlenP Silver badge

That's about my position. Between lockdowns I had every Friday at home, and plan to continue that, but I prefer the office for most of the week.

Housekeeping and kernel upgrades do not always make for happy bedfellows

GlenP Silver badge
Alert

The early Apricot PCs weren't IBM compatible, one of the differences being they used A: for the HD.

Doing some work on a customer's machine after I'd been using the compatible machine back at the office.

Insert floppy

A:

DEL *.*

S**t!

^C

Search for Norton Utilities disk, UNDELETE...

Fortunately the time between typing DEL,,, and ^C wasn't too long and I knew enough about the structure of the system to be able to figure out the first character of the filenames after UNDELETE had done its best,

That's when I learnt always do DIR before DEL

Looking for the perfect Valentine's gift? How about a week of retro gaming BBC Microlympics?

GlenP Silver badge

Can't Play Elite...

My hand built (by me) custom joystick has long been consigned to electronics heaven. It was specially crafted to allow easy setup of the rotation needed for docking.

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

GlenP Silver badge

Re: My favourite one....

Oh the number of times when I did support for secretaries that had a problem with their keyboard...

I could usually diagnose those over the phone for terminals. The beep - beep - beep... when eol was reached was fairly distinctive.

On the other hand when I was programming using DEC VT-220s many years ago, and when compile times could be counted in minutes, it was handy after submitting the job to hit backspace a couple of times to generate a job finished beep.

GlenP Silver badge

Confession

My home office desk* has an open back. When stretching my legs the other week I did succeed in unplugging the power cable from the back of the docking station! Fortunately no work was harmed during this incident as the laptop was still running OK. I must get to work with the cable ties sometime.

*A huge corner desk and drawer units combo that I bought from MFI** around 30 years ago. It's amazingly solid and has had a hand made (by me) monitor stand come bookshelf added more recently. Good that I was ready for the pandemic!

**Commonly known as Made For Idiots, for youngsters and non-UK residents they were a seller of cheap melamine-and-chipboard furniture before we'd ever heard of Ikea.

Dept of If I'd Known 20 Years Ago: Call centres, roosting chickens, and Bitcoin

GlenP Silver badge

Call Waiting...

Anybody remember Gateway 2000 back in the 90s?

I think they were the absolute worst for call wait times for support, upwards of four hours on occasions, with absolutely no other way of contacting them. Computing (IIRC) in a review strongly recommended them for people with low blood pressure as one call would be a far more effective cure than medication.

Unfortunately for a while they were the supplier dictated by our US corporate so we had little choice in the matter.

British owners of .eu domains given an extra three months to find a European address

GlenP Silver badge
FAIL

We had a .eu address, partly to reserve it and partly as we used it for some email outside of our domain. Once this silliness started we dropped it even though I could have just changed the registrant to our Polish subsidiary.

OK I doubt the EU cares about our few euros but it all adds up.

The Linux box that runs the exec carpark gate is down! A chance for PostgreSQL Man to show his quality

GlenP Silver badge

If the gate controller had been Windows then the regular reboots needed would have soon uncovered the bad config

When I came into my current role there was a PC sitting in a machine that hadn't been restarted for about 3 years. I left well alone! Eventually a few years later someone shut it down without thinking and the HD failed but I think it had gone around 6 years at that point.

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Had a call...

I did consider taking this to tribunal

In the role I mentioned I had grounds for taking them to a tribunal but as they paid me a reasonable amount above statutory, untaxed money in lieu of notice, a few extras such as a "stationery allowance" as I wouldn't be in the office, etc. I didn't bother. I had a new job within 2 weeks anyway so the timing was right.

GlenP Silver badge

Had a call...

...from a previous employer some months after they'd made me redundant, "Do you know the admin passwords to the CAD machines?"

I was tempted to point out that even if I did know them the Company had decided my role was no longer required so obviously didn't need me to tell them the passwords. It was irrelevant, I'd never had those passwords as the systems were purchased, installed and managed through a third party not by IT.

ThinkPad T14s AMD Gen 1: Workhorse that does the business – and dares you to push that red button

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Red pointy thing

There definitely was one, there was one around in the junk pile at my current employers. My thinking is it would likely have been an HP.

How do you save an ailing sales pitch? Just burn down the client's office with their own whiteboard

GlenP Silver badge

Only peripherally an IT issue but in one job the kettle lead had gone missing as we only discovered later. That particular kettle didn't have the bit that stopped you using standard cable instead of a hot condition one so someone had found a spare computer lead and used that. Inevitably a few weeks later the lead caught fire, fortunately whilst I was in the kitchen (didn't even need a fire extinguisher, I just turned the socket off). No damage done but could have been a lot worse.

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