* Posts by benjya

13 posts • joined 5 Jul 2017

Ouch! When the IT equipment is sound, but the setup is hole-y inappropriate


Matching power leads

Many many years ago I worked at a large consultancy. Some mobile staff had IBM ThinkPad 240s (the REALLY small ones). And we also offered them USB CD drives as often these were needed "in the field". Great.

Except that they both used the same power plug. And the CD drive was 5V, but the laptop was 12V (or something else higher than 5V).

At least it was that way round as better fried CD drives than fried laptops!

We don't know why it's there, we don't know what it does – all we know is that the button makes everything OK again


Fighting thermostats

The opposite was the server room where I once worked. Two AC units with their own thermostats on the wall. And big signs on both of them telling you to ensure they are set to the same temperature otherwise they just fight each other...

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



Many years ago was interviewing for an IT Support job. Part of the interview was "here's a PC, we've broken various things in it, make it work". Was things like one of the cards was loose. But I always first checked the voltage switch. It's just common sense. And after I got the job, I joked with my manager that I'd love to set it up for an interviewee with the voltage set to 110 and see if they spot it. Although I sometimes set that part of the interview, I never did that.

3 years later, I've moved on and I get an E-Mail from my former boss saying "Ha Ha Ha" and nothing else. He wouldn't reply to me. So I contacted one of my former colleagues. Seems whoever set the machine for my replacement's interview HAD changed the voltage switch - my boss assumed it was me! Unfortunately they didn't check and blew up the power supply when they tried it...

Oh well!

You can drive a car with your feet, you can operate a sewing machine with your feet. Same goes for computers obviously


Re: Foot pedal

They're still used by typists / secretaries, except it's all digital dictation rather than dictation machines (eg BigHand). Last time I played with this (5 or 6 years ago) the typists had a USB-connected pedal with foot controls for forward, stop, back etc. And the solicitors had a USB (or wireless) hand held unit which looked like a dictation machine but which linked to the digital dictation system. All very slick when properly configured. Could even do tricks like send the dictation off for voice recognition first.


Re: To be fair

I bought one for a user back in 2001 (give or take a year or so). Was a 'elf and safety requirement due to RSI. Had two large pedals on which you rested your feet. One of them had a ball joint so you could move it in all directions to move the mouse. The other had two switches for "toe" and "heel", for left and right click. Cost about £300 (a lot 20 years ago). I think she gave up on it after a week!

Microsoft adds Breakout functionality to Teams that Zoom has had for ages – and people still don't like it


Re: Once upon a time...

Heh I remember that John Cleese video, watched it at school!

Solving a big, yellow IT problem: If it's not wearing hi-vis, I don't trust it


Big motors

I once investigated an issue with Internet dropping at a custom-mix concrete place. The server was fine but periodically their Internet link would drop. Eventually we linked it to every time the 70 kW motor which mixed the concrete started up... moving the router over to the UPS (along with the server) solved that one.

Let's... drawer a veil over why this laser printer would decide to stop working randomly


Re: Well, you say that but ...

My current office building had a small stream through a basement corridor when it rained, although it's since been fixed (was a leak in next door's draining). My server room is in the basement, but worse, in the "sub-basement" is the electricity sub-station for the whole area... it actually has a "water detector" (a ping pong ball in a vertical tube with straws to let it move up but not back down again) in the corner...

There ain't no problem that can't be solved with the help of American horsepower – even yanking on a coax cable


Re: Closest I've had to that ....

Almost exactly the same. Having doors blocked off, I explicitly pointed out to the builder that a phone cable ran right by the corner of the doors and to avoid it. He said fine.

Later that day at work, connected back into home, my home connection suddenly becomes incredibly unreliable. I get home and find a screw going right into the cable. Perhaps more surprisingly when I removed the screw it started working again (I'm guessing it was shorting the two lines rather than actually having broken them).

I told the builder and he was furious with his guys as (he said!) he had shown it to them and been very clear!

Unexpected victory in bagging area: Apple must pay shop workers for time they spend waiting to get frisked


Re: PC World

Many many years ago I was doing a tour of BAE in Hatfield. There were signs up saying "No aircraft parts are to be taken out of the workshop". Brought up images of someone trying to take a plane wing out under their jacket...

Um, I'm not that Gary, American man tells Ryanair after being sent other Gary's flight itinerary


EasyJet will correct things like spelling mistakes for free within 24 hours of the booking (you can even cancel a flight, I believe, within 24 hours without major cost).

On the other hand, in a previous job (for a company employing around 20k staff in the UK alone) there were 3 of us with the same (not especially common name). We'd forward E-Mails intended for one of the others on the rare occasion they arrived, although when I got a redundancy notice once it was slightly concerning until I realised it was for one of the other guys...

I've seen the future of consumer AI, and it doesn't have one



Brit prosecutors ask IT suppliers to fight over £3 USB cable tender


Re: Not just restricted to governments

While in a student house in the mid 90s, for about 10 months we received chasing letters from Mercury Communications (remember the old "dial 131") addressed to the former occupants for an outstanding sum of... 1p. Needless to say we ignored them. Eventually they sent a letter "saying we're now giving up on collecting this" - having spent about £2.50 on postage (25,000% of the value of the debt), as well as the costs of paper, printing and envelopes...


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