back to article Let me PLUG that up there, love. It’s perfectly standaAAARGH!

Want a new driveway? No problem, mate. Fix your garage door? Sorted. Oh, what, you want the the garage door to open on to the driveway? Oh no no no no, no can do, pal, that’s not done, they is sep’rate. Tell you what, though, I got a mate who could build you a shortcut so you can get the car from the drive to the garage through …


  1. Dr_N Silver badge

    The Rise of IT Consultants...

    The outbreak of Mad Cow disease...


    1. herman Silver badge

      Re: The Rise of IT Consultants...

      Mad Cow disease? No problem mate. I don't see many ladies in IT.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Rise of IT Consultants...

        Mad Cow disease? No problem mate. I don't see many ladies in IT.

        I'd be careful - apparently, that sort of humour is grounds for dismissal

        1. Richard Jones 1

          Re: The Rise of IT Consultants...

          No problem here the cow is gender neutral and should really be a COW.

          It is the TLA for Clerk of Works.

          Since most Clerks of Works are driven mad by user changes, obstructions and nit picking it is normal to have issues over Mad COWs.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The Rise of IT Consultants...

            No problem here the cow is gender neutral and should really be a COW.

            As in Mad Cow disease? Not really, prior to the Mad Cow disease outbreak 80%+ of meat for human consumption was from bulls, now due to the age restriction on slaughter it is 100%. So the gender neutral cow which is to be made into a "cowburger" is definitely male. Unless it is a horse of course.

            1. imanidiot Silver badge

              Re: The Rise of IT Consultants...

              You know why they call it PMS right?

              Cause Mad Cow Disease was already taken

              1. x 7 Silver badge

                Re: The Rise of IT Consultants...

                when interviewing female staff one should always ask how many burgers they eat in an average week

            2. John 62

              Re: The Rise of IT Consultants...

              I'm in my 30s and I've never heard of bulls going for meat. Beef cattle are either bullocks (castrated bulls) or heifers (females not in calf).

              1. x 7 Silver badge

                Re: The Rise of IT Consultants...

                "I've never heard of bulls going for meat."

                then you don't know as much as you think you do, Some - not many - farmers grow on the bull calves from dairy herds without castration to try to give the meat a better texture and flavour, They tend to get slaughtered young enough to not become too much of a handling problem,

                The reason is that most modern dairy cattle make poor steers - the body conformation is all wrong. Letting the animals keep their tackle muscles them up a bit better, The alternative is to kill them at birth as useless

  2. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge


    AFAIK it is perfectly safe and will comply with the regs. to run a single 2.5mm spur to a *single* socket. Then just put a 3 amp fuse in the plug and your hob is good to go.

    1. JulieM Silver badge

      Re: Spurs

      Cutting through the insulation of the Twin and Earth cable right through to the inner cores and then wrapping the bared ends of the appliance flex around, twisting tightly and liberally covering with insulating tape probably doesn't count as complying strictly with the regulations.

      Not saying this is exactly how the author's hob was wired up, but I've encountered such an installation in real life. I distracted the owner's attention for a moment ..... and ran.

      (Also, it seems that in Wales especially they have a fondness for positioning electric cooker isolating switches centrally above and behind the cooker. Which is fine -- until you need to cut the power to a chip pan that is on fire, and risk setting fire to yourself by having to reach over said blazing pan to switch it off.)

      1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

        Re: Spurs

        ", and risk setting fire to yourself by having to reach over said blazing pan to switch it off"

        Hah, it's now half melted . . .

      2. AMBxx Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Spurs - In Wales

        Was there just one electrician covering the whole of Wales doing this stuff? I lived in North Wales as a child (Llandudno area) and lived in 5 different houses. From memory, they all had the isolator above the hob.


        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Spurs - In Wales

          It does seem common. When I was a self-employed electrician (Valleys area) I saw a lot of these. It really annoys a householder if you tell them their installation wouldn't pass modern regulations because their cooker switch needs moving 18 inches to the left (or whatever), especially when the cable is plastered into the wall and because of having-to-run-directly regulations, moving the switch would mean redecorating the kitchen, not to mention probably lifting the floor in a bedroom in order to get at the cable.

          Not so much a problem if all you are doing is fitting a new cooker, because there isn't (or wasn't then) an absolute requirement to bring the thing up to the latest spec, just because you are renewing the appliance.

          The people who got most annoyed were those who had been told by their insurers (or whoever) to have a new consumer unit fitted in place of the rewireable one from 1953, priced up a new unit at Screwfix and thought they could get the whole job done in a day for £150. Then I'd come in and price the CU at £60, labour at £150 a day (so far so good) but then quote three days or more because of upgrading the earth (also involved a visit from Western Power), carrying out bonding work, replacing complete lighting circuits due to a lack of earth conductor (because householder can't go back to plastic fittings), re-jigging the sockets to remove spurs-on-spurs, tracing and fixing a broken ring (or converting to radial by downgrading and disconnecting) and completely re-wiring the kitchen because the fitters had (among other things) moved the cooker point by dint of burying a chocolate block in the wall where the old point was, running at 90 degrees to the new location and then plastering and tiling over the lot.

          And I'm not remembering one particularly bad job there - in the five years I did this work barely a month went by when I didn't meet something like the above and in at least half the cases the reply I got to my quote was either "I won't bother then" or "my mate says he'll do it for fifty quid".

          The sad thing is that the fitters will often get away with it:

          BBC News 12 October 2004

          Telegraph, 12 October 2004

          A clear case of kitchen fitters bodging the job but if you read the articles it is the householder who is blamed and the death is "accidental" not "negligence".


          1. JulieM Silver badge

            Re: Spurs - In Wales

            Hmm ..... this seems to be suspiciously close, timing-wise to the introduction of Part P .....

            Not that the installation as it was described in those articles would even have met the regulations that were already in force at the time, mind you ..... why was there no RCD? ..... and what did her husband think he was doing in the first place, drilling into a wall without first using a live wire detector that had first been tested against a known live wire to show that the battery wasn't spent from having become accidentally turned on in the tool box? And that utensil rack would surely have given out a tingle to anyone not soundly earthed via something like an open dishwasher door, as a warning that something may be amiss.

            But hey, why enforce an adequate existing law, when you can pass a shiny new one to stop something that was already illegal? It's almost as if they were trying to abuse their own personal tragedy in order to garner public support for scrapping the concept of nulla poena sine lege or something (even although it was very much cum legis ergo poena anyway) .....

          2. Muscleguy Silver badge

            Re: Spurs - In Wales

            Bought this 3 Bed Betts Semi here in Scotland, there was a convenient socket in the corner of the lounge where we wished to site the telly, except it didn't work. Cue long cabled junction boxes. While waiting for the cable installation guy with everything pulled out of the way I pulled the relevant fuse for the downstairs sockets and had a look, cue a flash bang and the lights fused WTF?

            A later crawl around under the floor and what they had done was run a spur to that socket from a standard light fitting, Doh! So, I tried unsuccessfully to insert the now disconnected cable end into a convenient double socket but it would not go. Bugger. However, there was a four way junction box screwed to a rafter with only two filled positions, on the downstairs ring. The cable reached nicely.

            Then all I had to do was chase out the space for a double socket and we are long cable run of power cables at least free.

            Best bit? Grey cable, so pre part P regs, into old style box. So it looks original. Sorted.

            Oh and just pre part P I replaced the grey flex cable feed to the garage with an armoured cable. The grey flex had of course perished in the UV rays and should not have been surface mounted above the garden gate in the first place.

          3. SolidSquid

            Re: Spurs - In Wales

            The "verdict" from the RSPA in that first one seems bizarre. How does hanging a pot rack on the wall and accidentally hitting wiring which wasn't fitted to standard by the builders (ie the experts) highlight that any electrical work in the house needs to be done by experts? Second article even mentions that the husband had made a point of keeping it clear of where he expected the cable to run (because the cables are supposed to run either horizontally or vertically, and these were diagonal and not even consistant)

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Spurs

        "it seems that in Wales especially they have a fondness for positioning electric cooker isolating switches centrally above and behind the cooker."

        Not just Wales.

        Every single one I encountered in New Zealand was located there and most of the ones I encountered here in Surrey are too.

        The simple solution is to buy a self-contained enclosed deepfryer and not let anyone do chips on the stove.

    2. PNGuinn Silver badge

      Re: Spurs @ MM

      In theory, yes, but if you've seen as many inventive ways of accomplishing that objective while studiously breaking as many of the regs as possible...

      There appear to be an army of "Electricians" out there whose skills I am unworthy to attempt to emulate. The best of them seem to be kitchen fitters.

      As an aside - I well remember looking over a property many years ago with a view to doing a rewire. For some reason I knelt on the bend of the stairs and copped a belt off a carpet tack. It turned out that the tack had penetrated the insulation of a bit of bell wire which fed a 13 A double socket on the living room off a 30 A fuse. Earth? what do I need one of them for - it works. Oh well...

      Icon for obvious reasons.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A friend became a consultant for a high powered international consultancy. When he wrote his first report for a customer his boss went through it with a blue pencil. He explained to my friend that when a high up in a company commissions a report then several things are expected.

    1) the conclusions must agree with whatever political axe the commissioner is sharpening.

    2) there should be no measurable targets against which the commissioner can be judged to have failed in the future.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      the conclusions must agree with whatever political axe the commissioner is sharpening.

      From what I heard through contacts, the draft report on the effectiveness of speed cameras originally didn't come to the conclusion that they work, so those who drew it up were told that that conclusion was unacceptable. That's why it came to use such convoluted maths - once that passed unchallenged, it became rule and the next reports simply built on that ethereal foundation.

      That report has determined policy for well over a decade, so the results of efforts to make conclusions match politics instead of the facts can last remarkably long. I heard of that because one specific camera was tagged with "saving lives" where in reality there had no variance in accidents whatsoever (this also alludes to your second point - if you can derive "facts" from negatives and get away with it, you can prove anything).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        " if you can derive "facts" from negatives and get away with it, you can prove anything"

        The Sexual Offences Bill in 2002 went into public consultation after it had been drafted by a committee. Some of the members had been co-opted on the strength of their academic research into related subjects.

        Reducing the threshold of evidence against men was very evident in the wording of several clauses of the bill about public nudity. One pivotal submission was an academic survey that said that women were afraid to go out at night.

        Suspecting a single-issue bias a sceptical critic unearthed the survey and read it thoroughly. The survey did say that - and was backed up by impeccable statistics.

        He then reported those conclusions - together with a generally unknown piece of information. The survey had apparently been conducted in Leeds at the height of the "Yorkshire Ripper" murders investigation.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        from what i heard

        Anonymous internet bullshit is bullshit.

        So my mate heard down the pub, anyway...

    2. JulieM Silver badge

      Indeed :(

      Yes, indeed. While on a temporary work placement many years ago, I was tasked with testing and writing a report on some cheap imported relays. In my first draft, I told the truth: they were not half as good as the ones they were being evaluated as possible replacements for, and retooling could prove to be an expensive mistake. On handing it in, I was told to remember who I worked for and talk up the new relays. So I rewrote it as a glowing praise piece -- and was later rewarded with a full-time job at the company.

      If the top brass had accepted the first version of that report, they might have evaluated other options including the relays that would eventually be specified to replace the cheap ones that were found to be no good, and only had to bear the cost of retooling once. Then they might have been able to afford to pay their staff more.

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: Indeed :(

        "Then they might have been able to afford to pay their staff more."

        But why would anyone want to do that? [confused]

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem is that time is money. In many cases they know how much they want to make from a particular quote - and will cut corners if that margin looks like it is being eroded by problems. Even a "time and materials" contract doesn't guarantee a considered piece of work - bad habits are hard to forget.

    I once re-plumbed part of the house. The water board came to do the inspection and at one point paid a compliment - "That is how that tank pipework should be connected - most plumbers don't bother". The only fault they found was that the expensive B&Q mixer tap outlets were not quite the statutory 25 mm above the bath top surface. So I had to retrofit anti-syphon valves in the tap supply pipes. The fact that they noticed that problem suggests many components sold by plumbing suppliers don't meet the spec.

  5. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

    bullshitter with his 3D kitchen design

    ... hmm, I have this nice idea ...

  6. StevieB

    A cunning schema

    They say XML is like violence - if it's not working, you aren't using enough.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    XML is so 1990's

    Then along came SOAP (anything but Simple if you ask me)

    And now the Bullshitters are selling REST and JSON.

    We had one come visit us last week right in the middle of an big system upgrade. Hats off to him though. He'd flown (at vast expense) to the nearest Airport which is 200+ miles away. Then got some local to drive him out into the vastness of the local desert and still he turned up looking like he'd just bought his suit on Saville Row.

    Yours truly was rather grumpy when called into the IT directors office to hear this total bollocks of a presentation.

    When I asked how his wonderful world of JSON in our world where some kit we have to talk to can't even speak XML but lives in the world of flat files he didn't bat an eyelid before replying,

    you write something that converts the JSON to the flat file format.

    'You mean like what we already do with XML'?


    I shook my head in disbelief.

    The IT manager who for an Arab is pretty well switched on added,

    'And then the whole plant blows up we are to blame this person called JASON?'

    Sorta made my day really.

    1. JulieM Silver badge

      Re: XML is so 1990's

      JSON isn't actually that hard to deal with. I find it far preferrable to XML.

      Just keep in the back of your mind that you may well one day have to refactor your code to import a full JSON parsing library, when the API changes upstream and breaks the quick and dirty regular expression match you were doing to extract one piece of information from the JSON string.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: XML is so 1990's

        Times I have to send a couple of values through a TCP/IP connection across a local network or just on the same server, I'm developing both the server and the client, and I send something this as text...


        And then someone comes up and says I should do a fucking JSON or XML parser. Why stop there, if we're going to over-engineer it let's do full-on SGML for all the difference it'll make.

        1. tin 2

          Re: XML is so 1990's

          I am genuinely at a loss why you don't have 50 million upvotes for this post. If you have to parse into and out of the latest new format why not stick with the one thats worked forever and just parse that?

        2. JulieM Silver badge

          Re: XML is so 1990's

          You bother with the CR? Anytime I know that the far end will be Unix-like and thus not care, I just send bare LFs .....

          For a CGI-script that does the backend stuff for AJAX, and so only ever talks to one external applicaton -- the JavaScript in the browser -- there's usually little reason to use anything besides raw text, parsed by means of regular expression matches. Maybe JSON if the structure of the data calls for it.

          It's like using an associative array when a numeric one would do (i.e. anytime the same columns will always be present in every row). Define constants for your indexes so you can address the array like a hash, if you must .....

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: XML is so 1990's


            I've read too many RFCs and the network newline convention got stuck in my head if nothing else did. That way I can point it out to whoever my boss is this time and say, "See, I care about standards. It's got a network newline at the end."

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: XML is so 1990's - version|value|value<CRLF>

          Now that's the case where I completely agree with you. The someone has spent years at university learning XML and/or JSON, they have a big electric screwdriver, they are going to thread that nail if it kills them.

          Because? Because they lack the confidence to engineer a simpler solution.

          1. GBE

            Re: XML is so 1990's - version|value|value<CRLF>

            "The someone has spent years at university learning XML and/or JSON,"

            Somebody who spent years learning JSON? It's hard to even imagine somebody that stupid writing software. Or even getting to the office without hurting themselves.

      2. Linker3000

        Re: XML is so 1990's

        Having just written a full JSON string parsing routine in bash, and then done the same in DOS BATCH to produce a pair of Linux and Windows plugins for Nagios that need no additional support libraries or installed tools or apps, I am getting a kick...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: XML is so 1990's

        "and breaks the quick and dirty regular expression match you were doing to extract one piece of information from the JSON string."

        JSON has Python libraries which mean that doing it the proper way is quicker than messing around with regexes. And more maintainable. I actually like JSON, so perhaps it's just as well I'm not allowed near any production code nowadays.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: XML is so 1990's

          I like JSON, but I'd like it better if it allowed comments. The lack of comments makes it unsuitable for configuration files, IMHO.

          Mind you, for configuration files I really like INI format...

        2. JulieM Silver badge

          Re: XML is so 1990's

          Well, if you are using a language where regular expression support is obtained by importing a library, then I agree: you may as well import a JSON library and do it properly, as import a regex library and bodge it.

          If, on the other hand, you're using a language where regular expressions are treated as a comparison operator, sometimes you use a screwdriver instead of walking all the way to the shed just to fetch a chisel.

  8. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    A four-switch panel to control two lights?

    Bah, that's nothing.

    Back when I was knee high to an Arcturan MegaCricket, my dad did some "home improvements" to the living room. Installed a central ceiling fan with four bulb light in the "frosted glass fish bowl" beneath. The switch plate that came with it had one switch for the light (off|on), one switch for the fan (off|on), and a rheostadt to control the speed of the fan.

    Still with me? Good. Now hang on, the Stupidity starts to get thick.

    He managed to wire both switches to the lights, so you flipped one (whichever one was Up) to the other position to turn it on, then flip the other switch from whichever position it HAD been in to the other.

    Why? Because it picked which of the four bulbs to illuminate depending on which switch had started in the Up position. Left was Up & right down? Then bulbs 1 & 2 might come on, or 1 & 3, or 1 & 4, or 2 & 3, or 2 & 4, or 3 & 4. Left one down & right one up? Pick a different two to illuminate first, wait a few ticks, and watch as the other pair of bulbs would flicker into life as if finally getting the message.

    Still with me? Ok, now put on the HazMat AntiStupid suit, cause here's where Mr BumbleFuck got *really* going.

    The rheostadt would start at the 50% "Twelve O'Clock High" position in order to turn the fan Off. This was not the default configuration of the component, it was DESIGNED to start all the way over to one side or the other as Off, the halfway mark be half power, & all the way over being Full Power.

    But he managed to wire it up so it started in the middle, & if you turned it one way the fan would start to spin... in that direction. Turn it the other way & it would try to spin the blades that way. He'd wired the normally operated via the pull chain, Reverse Switch into the rheostadt so that you controlled the direction of the spin depending on which way you turned the knob.

    This *might* have been useful IF he had made it so it would stop the motor once the knob was returned to the straight up position. But he didn't. So if you had it cranked over all the way in one direction (Full Speed) & then spun the knob all the way to the other side, the sparks & smoke that crazy fucker would send everywhere as it tried to reverse direction on a spinning motor was just amazing.

    When Mom found out & threatened to call the Inspector on his ass herself (Go Mom!), he decided to Read The Fucking Manual & "hook it up right". That debaucle resulted in him wiring it up wrong THREE TIMES, starting a small fire, and us eventually having to hire a Licensed Professional to make it right. The Contractor couldn't believe the place hadn't exploded from the massive cluster fuck my Dad did on the wiring. It took two days to rip it all out, rewire the wall/switch, & then put in a new (non burnt) fan.

    Mom thanked the guy, paid him, & once he'd left told pop that if he EVER pulled another bullshit stunt like that, she wouldn't need a Divorce "because they'll never find your fucking corpse".

    O.O Woo HOO!

    And that was just a ceiling fan. If you ask nicely & bribe me with sufficient amounts of caffeine & pizza, I'll tell you about the time he "fixed" the fax machine to spray flaming toner on you for daring to hit SEND.


    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: A four-switch panel to control two lights?

      I am surprised any of us made it through childhood. There is something about our parent's generation that is scary.. they felt they could do anything even the stuff they had no idea about.

      My dad has an expression he uses often about if they could do the Manhattan Project* under the stands of a football stadium then he could certainly do <fill in the blank>. Every time I hear that, I have a mental image of mushroom cloud over Chicago.

      *Yes, his info is wrong. It was the first sustained chain reaction and not the bomb that was done in Chicago.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A four-switch panel to control two lights?

        My favourite home improvement is knocking through the downstairs rooms to make single room running from front to back. It turns out this was a very popular thing to do 30-odd years ago. A few years ago we decided to get a builder in to put back the internal wall; he starts by stripping off the existing plaster so he can see what was used to bridge the gap when the wall was removed, and then rushes off to get some vertical steel supports (the adjustable ones) before he does anything else.

        Apparently planks of wood are no longer recommended for holding up walls.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A four-switch panel to control two lights?

          "Apparently planks of wood are no longer recommended for holding up walls."

          A friend's house had a bouncy feeling as you walked across the upstairs landing. When he investigated it was found that someone had cut all the way through some joists - and only the floorboards were holding the joists up.

          1. x 7 Silver badge

            Re: A four-switch panel to control two lights?

            a problem in older buildings with solid - or non rain-proof - walls. The ends of the joists get wet and rot away. Could be what happened in your case

            1. tony2heads

              Re: A four-switch panel to control two lights?

              I once rented a house with an extension out to the front. Both the original and extension had pitched roofs running in parallel with the original gutter left in between like


              and a ceiling placed underneath. It left about 15 feet of gutter you could not inspect with climbing up and crawling along in the "V" shape left between the roofs.

              When heavy rain came it could fill up the central gutter -which had inevitably corroded- which was filled with leaves,and it created a damp patch in the ceiling.

              After a week of heavy rain the ceiling sagged dramatically and, after switching off all electrical circuits going the extension, I had place a large bucket under the sag and pierce the ceiling. I then had a broom on some wooden boxes holding up the ceiling

              Several gallons of water later I managed to contract the landlord and arrange for new (wider) guttering and a ceiling.

              The whole extension was clearly not thought through. We left before the following winter but warned the next tenant.

              Lots of software 'upgrades' are like that. They work in normal circumstances but buckle under heavy load or unusual circumstances.

        2. x 7 Silver badge

          Re: A four-switch panel to control two lights?

          they're called akros.

          and I can think of at least two pubs locally where the wall between the bars was knocked through without replacement both cases requiring emergency work as the building began to sag

      2. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: A four-switch panel to control two lights?

        You guys are obviously on drinking terms with my grandad.

        He "works on cars" - and you can tell if he worked on yours if it stalls the moment you put it in reverse.

    2. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      Re: A four-switch panel to control two lights?

      I definitely want to learn about that fax machine!

      But I can only offer a virtual beer =----------->

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: A four-switch panel to control two lights?

      You have my sympathy Shadows Systems.

      I used to remodel houses when I was younger. I would tell people that most of my work was spent "un-fucking" someone else's DIY stupidity.

      Many, MANY people really shouldn't be allowed near any type of machinery, ever. That they have cars is the biggest mistake the human race ever made.


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