back to article 'My PC needs to lose weight' says user with FAT filesystem

Friday's here again and so, therefore, is On-Call, our weekly dip into absurd tech support tales contributed by readers. This week, meet “Rick” who kicked off his career supporting laptops running Windows 95 and tells us that “One day I had a call from a sales rep who said 'My new laptop computer needs to lose some weight, it' …

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  1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Devil

    Lifetime customer....

    Just tell him he's got bloatware on his machine and needs a new one every so often to stop it getting heavier again...

    Or is that just a tad mean?

  2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    I do remember customers bitching about the weight / size of their laptops , usually when theres some newer ones dotted about on other peoples desks.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      My first 286 laptop had twin floppy drives and twin battery bays. Lugging that around made sure you werent fat.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge
        Meh

        PS/2 Model 70 luggable. The computing equivalent of a briefcase full of housebricks.

        A great cost saver, as carrying one of those around meant you never needed to pay gym membership.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Panasonic Sr. Partner.

          38 pounds of luggable (including case, manuals & floppies). At least it had a built-in printer. I still have it. You get attached to the daftest things after a quarter million air-miles together. Link.

          It has an MFM controller in the expansion slot, a 20 meg hard drive in one of the floppy bays, and an aftermarket hack that upped the stock 256K of RAM to a more usable768K. I used an external modem. Yes, it still works. Came with Panasonic-labeled MS-DOS 2.2, but it currently boots MS-DOS 3.3 ... It might be hard for some of the younger readers to believe, but a LOT of RealWorld[tm] work was done with such primitive devices.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge

            Re: Panasonic Sr. Partner.

            It might be hard for some of the younger readers to believe, but a LOT of RealWorld[tm] work was done with such primitive devices.

            Also shows just how old the "recently invented" idea of the tablet with the detachable keyboard really is. Not at all new.

            A 16gb USB stick would've cost somewhere around $3bill at the $/MB of the first HDD I purchased. Not as long involved in computing as you, but my first PC-based machine had a whopping 1mb of RAM, later upgraded to 2. And it oftened seemed you could do more RealWorld work than I can do with a modern machine. El Reg published an article a while back that basically claimed a lot of authors (novels etc) prefer to use basic text editors, becuase all the "bells and whistles" of modern word processors get in the way of real work. Probably why I prefer terminal/CLI for most server-type stuff I do (that and it's an environment I am quite familiar with).

            [Yes yes, late I know. FTR my funeral was a few years back...]

  3. malle-herbert Silver badge
    Joke

    Too bad he didn't use FAT32...

    Then he could have just converted it back to FAT16...

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Too bad he didn't use FAT32...

      Once it's been slimmed down you could use exFAT.

      1. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

        Re: Too bad he didn't use FAT32...

        FFS

        Use an Amiga instead.

  4. Admiral Grace Hopper

    SMTP

    I remember a respected team leader telling a customer that SMTP stood for "Send Mail To People" and managing to keep a straight face.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Ol'Peculier

      Re: SMTP

      He was 25% right, a better score than some people would get...

      1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

        Re: SMTP

        Oh I was thinking of that song "Simple Mail Transfer People".

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          "Simple Mail Transfer People"

          Is that a song or is it a REM statement?

          (a basic question ... s'hell here)

          1. Number6

            Re: "Simple Mail Transfer People"

            Is that a song or is it a REM statement?

            (a basic question ... s'hell here)

            You need to be careful with comments like that, or people will bash you.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SMTP

      Reminds me of a very vindictive BOFH who told a user on a Unix terminal that "rm" was the "read mail" command and to invoke it with the arguments "-rf ~".

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: SMTP

        Now thats downright evil... I like it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: SMTP

        One of my colleagues on the helpdesk logged a call asking for help transferring files from one HDD to another in his PC.

        Was so tempted to send a response back telling him about the "deliver" command.

        del c:\*.* /s /q

      3. macjules Silver badge

        Re: SMTP

        That is downright f*cking evil. Haha!

    4. DNTP

      Re: SMTP

      "Send Mail To People" implies an impressively functional understanding of the acronym- at least for management. Technically incorrect but at least someone is thinking in the right direction.

    5. stucs201

      Re: SMTP

      I suspect "Send Mail To People" may have started as a joke by those who actually know that isn't the real meaning. I've heard "Plastic Tape For Engineers" used for PTFE tape by those who do know it's real meaning.

  5. Velv Silver badge
    Boffin

    Once worked on an IT project which the business insisted was important so they put their own Project Manager on it instead of one of our regular IT PMs.

    After the first meeting the minutes come out containing "scuzzy controller cards"

    Nobody had the heart, balls or straight face to correct him.

    1. Admiral Grace Hopper

      I think we've covered despoiled kit before. I've seen a few controller cards in machines that have come back from customer sites covered in enough crap to qualify as "scuzzy".

    2. jake Silver badge

      Scuzzy.

      I've corrected that one more than once. Heartlessly, with a straight face. No more balls than usual.

      1. Olivier2553

        Re: Scuzzy.

        I don't see how one could get confused as SCSI has no "OO" nor "Z". Is it that any word begining with SC would do?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Scuzzy.

          It was the minutes of the meeting. The transcriber had no clue.

          When you have to explain the joke ...

          1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

            Re: Scuzzy.

            Seems I missed a minute word in your post then. Scusi.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Scuzzy.

            I suspect that English probably isn't Olivier's first language, so I can understand how he might be a little bemused as to how SCSI => Scuzzy.

            Certainly, I've always pronounced it Skizzy myself (or, to be pedantic, a schwa), I think it depends on who you first heard it from, and the normal way to pronounce (or insert) vowel sounds in your main language…

    3. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      Scuh-zee IS the official pronunciation in some circles

      at least westside of the Pond, where they like to vocalize acronyms. Pet peeve of mine is MQAE pronounced "mek".

      1. Jos V

        Re: Scuh-zee IS the official pronunciation in some circles

        Truth that. In my telecoms days in one US office they kept asking me to "please set their misdun."

        (MSISDN for those who not familiar). It took me a while to figure out what they were on about...

        1. Buzzword

          SQL => Sequel

          The first phase of the project went well; but for the next phase we need a sequel server.

          I should have called the MS Access version the "prequel".

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: SQL => Sequel

            'Sequel Server' is IBM's trade name for their database (and I think Micro-shaft kept the stupid pronunciation).

            However, "Es Queue El" is the name of the LANGUAGE, the correct pronunciation of the 'SQL' acronym in names like MySQL and PostgreSQL etc.

            Every time I hear 'sequel' I want to *cringe*

            The first time I heard it, I was taking an OS/2 class (pre windows 3.0) and talking to the prof about doing data analysis. He was (naturally) recommending LAN Manager and "Sequel Server". I couldn't find ANY reference to "Sequel Server" *ANYWHERE*. Had I known to look up 'SQL Server' I would have found it.

            Big mistake for IBM to have pronounced it "that way". It doesn't even describe what it does properly.

            1. VinceH Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: SQL => Sequel

              But hang on, isn't SQL short for 'sequential' ? I'm sure it must be so, because that tech expert Dido Harding explained that it was a sequential injection that was at the heart of the TalkTalk hack.

          2. Number6

            Re: SQL => Sequel

            Working on radar systems back in the days when secretaries still did typing for their bosses, we had a new one make reference to a microwave sauce.

        2. lglethal Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Scuh-zee IS the official pronunciation in some circles

          "Truth that. In my telecoms days in one US office they kept asking me to "please set their misdun.""

          Are you sure they werent just trying to set you up on a date with Miss Dunn from Accounting?

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Updraft102 Silver badge

          Re: Scuh-zee IS the official pronunciation in some circles

          Ah nuts, you beat me by a full day... I just posted that.

      3. Doctor_Wibble
        Facepalm

        Re: Scuh-zee IS the official pronunciation in some circles

        > Pet peeve of mine is MQAE pronounced "mek"

        Understandable! How TF did they not get "mm-kay"?

      4. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: Scuh-zee IS the official pronunciation in some circles

        There's never been a period that I've NOT heard SCSI pronounced that way.

        Vowel sounds are frequently added to vowel-deficient acronyms to make them pronounceable. I see no reason SCSI should be any different.

        Or inconvenient consonants removed. I leave you with the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, pronounced "Spebsqua," which features both. In the same letter, no less.

        1. Midnight

          Re: Scuh-zee IS the official pronunciation in some circles

          "There's never been a period that I've NOT heard SCSI pronounced that way."

          When Larry Boucher invented SCSI he wanted it to be pronounced "Sek-see". Everyone else on the committee thought that sounded unprofessional and decided it should be "Scuh-zee" instead.

          I'm pretty sure that this was the same group which later renamed the seventh planet to "Urectum" because its old name sounded impolite.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Scuh-zee IS the official pronunciation in some circles

          "I leave you with the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America"

          No, please take it away with you.

      5. Captain DaFt

        Re: Scuh-zee IS the official pronunciation in some circles

        -Pet peeve of mine is MQAE pronounced "mek".-

        Mr. Mackey says we all should know the proper pronunciation, m'kay?

      6. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Eons ago I remember a readme for a DOS disk defrag utility that said "even defragments "scuzzy" disks", including the quotes. Wasn't sure if it was a joke or if the developer didn't understand disk technologies.

  6. Mark York 3 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Giving the users what they ask for......

    "Rick kindly arranged a new laptop that was actually 1Kg heavier and ran Windows NT. The second part of the fix was to format its hard drive with the NTFS file system"

    FTFY

    Based on my own experience's with people (all within a short distance of each other) at a certain pharmaceutical company with someone that declined a desktop refresh because he had previously petitioned his boss for a laptop instead.

    Request granted......

    Except he didn't get a sparkling clean one from the refresh stock (They were all allocated to replace laptops like for like) & got one that was still in scope for support for another year (His howls of complaint were quite amusing to my ears & those of his colleagues as he had been lording it over them for a month over his upgrade), he was shortly after more upset to discover that he couldn't get his desktop refresh as that machine had been reassigned to one that wasn't budgeted for replacement, but had since failed as out of warranty.

    Or the guy that decided to jump the queue & get one ordered from another branch of the business (Head Office) & got annoyed when my group didn't have access to support\fix it locally.

    Another queue jumper requested a higher spec machine transfer from a department closure (he got it) only to discover 3 weeks later after also lording it over with co-workers when I replaced all their machines.

    "Wheres mine?"

    "Ohhh Your old one was removed from the refresh project as out of project scope as you requested it be removed for disposal\transfer of assets, your now current machine will be replaced next year".

    "Can I have my old one back to get the refresh?"

    "Sorry wiped & decomissioned & on the pile, the replacement has been re-allocated to a machine that was due to be replaced, but the budget wasn't there to do so unless a upgrade wasn't required due to natural wastage"

    A year later he was finally crowing about his new machine again, only to discover that the desktop replacement was of pretty much the same spec, but the chipset & software build now used a generic driver for the IDE controller instead of a specific (NT) one & that it was obviously slower in performance by comparison (Based on build & boot times).

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Giving the users what they ask for......

      We had a similar thing a few years ago in another Pharma. Every summer we'd get a batch of summer students who obviously needed a computer. Our PC team had none of the existing laptops in stock (Dell D620 I think), but then some new shiney black ones (E6300?) arrived which went straight to the students. Cue pissed off senior managers getting rather annoyed that they had older laptops (even they were just as fast).

      This fuss was nothing compared to when iPhones came into use and suddenly the Blackberries they'd used became "useless" overnight or even kept throwing themselves onto the floor...

      1. GlenP Silver badge

        Re: Giving the users what they ask for......

        When a company I worked for were closing the plant, and making many redundancies, we came up with a formula based on age and residual value for whether someone could retain their laptop. Strangely my Dell D620 *just* fell the right side of the line.

        One manager thought he'd be clever though and demanded a brand new laptop, "For all the extra work involved in the closure!" We granted the request and duly reallocated the old one to someone at the alternative plant.

        When his redundancy was confirmed we requested the return of the laptop as it fell well outside the retention level. He tried stalling for a few weeks until we finally threatened him with a visit from the police as we'd be reporting him for theft (we knew full well they would consider it a civil matter, he didn't). If he hadn't tried it on he could have kept the old, perfectly good, machine.

        Glen

      2. Custard Fridge

        Re: Giving the users what they ask for......

        I should think there are several pages of story / comments possible on laptop / smartphone envy.

        But the move from BlackBerry to iPhone was particularly polarising.

        But 3 out of my 24 smartphone users insisted on staying with BlackBerry.

        They all liked their BlackBerry Passports... lots...

        1. Chris Jasper

          Re: Giving the users what they ask for......

          We just finally killed our bes servers, the one remaining user had 2 alternate iPhones and 3 iPads but her Blackberry was 'Essential'.

          Users..................

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