back to article User thanked IT department for fast new server, but it had never left its box

Welcome again to On-Call, The Register's Friday frolic through readers' memories of jobs that turned into oddities. This week, meet “Colin”, a former IT manager who was once asked to visit his marketing veep to sort out a laptop deemed “too slow”. The veep noted that Colin arrived to do the job at lunchtime and was polite …

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  1. eJ2095

    Like to play swap out

    We got a load of HP laptops all indentical which run Igel client configured for Citrix use.

    We get the odd call to say its running slow when they log on etc (Just normally reset the citrix profile as nowt special saved in it)

    But always get the odd person who wont have it so we keep a couple of spares and just swap the laptop out for a spare one and put the swopped one back out in stocl untill the next call and swop again.

    We dont even bother to boot the things up when swopped as there is really no point..

    its the illusion you have done something that pays off

    1. techdead
      Unhappy

      Re: Like to play swap out

      Perception is everything sadly, you can fool some of the people, some of the time...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        you can fool some of the people, some of the time...

        Wasn't that Twain that had it as: "You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time"?

        And his corollary that proved that #3 didn't factor in since "Haint we got all of the fools in town on our side? And ain't that the majority in any town?"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: you can fool some of the people, some of the time...

          > Wasn't that Twain ...

          No. It is attributed to Abraham Lincoln according to many sources (which you yourself could have checked before posting) but other sources (e.g. http://www.abrahamlincolnassociation.org/Newsletters/5-4.pdf) suggest he never actually said or wrote it.

          Now if someone could cite a genuine source for M. Gandhi writing or saying "First they ignore at you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win" that would be greatly appreciated. (Note, yes, I already know about the Workshop Of Nonviolence Institute's summarization of Gandhi's philosophy as mentioned on snopes.com.)

          1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

            Re: you can fool some of the people, some of the time...

            PT Barnum, referring to his Flea Circus... except it was "...fool all of the people some of the time, some of the people all the time, but not all of the people all of the time."

            I guess some budget holders have never heard this observation on human nature.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Like to play swap out

      I do similar here.

      I call it the "placebo swap out"

    3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Like to play swap out

      I started work in the service department, fixing broken stuff. I noticed after a while that the customers never complained about the bill if I cleaned everything that we shipped back - often there was nothing to fix because the kit wasn't broken but I cleaned it anyway and they always paid the bills.

      1. Andy Taylor

        Re: Like to play swap out

        Cleaning the machine/device as part of the repair is an old tip I picked up from my dad who repaired electronics back when it was still possible.

        At the fruit store it's known as polishing the apple (not a euphemism) ;)

      2. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

        Re: Like to play swap out

        " noticed after a while that the customers never complained about the bill if I cleaned everything that we shipped back "

        The garage I used for car servicing around the turn of the century always finished off with a full interior valet job.

        I realised I was paying for that, but the thought of getting into a lovely clean car with the smell of leather (probably out of a bottle) really did soften the blow of the bill.

        1. annodomini2

          Re: Like to play swap out

          @Wensleydale Cheese,

          That's because the jobs to your car usually take 10-15mins, they're charging you £100+/hr to clean your car.

  2. DJ Smiley

    A couch?!

    What kind of boss buys you a COUCH?!

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: A couch?!

      The kind that need you to keep your mouth closed whilst they themselves are being offered a new car .... for work that "no-one" did....

    2. Olivier2553

      Re: A couch?!

      After the big flood of 2011, when rehabilitating the faculty offices, we (they?) decided to have a couch in each room, so they could have more relaxed meetings with the students.

      1. Ralph the Wonder Llama
        Joke

        "relaxed meetings"?

        Did each one come with a rolling mat?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A couch?!

      I suppose it's a mark of sysadmin success - instead of rushing around stamping out fires, you have got to the point where one can chill out between calls...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A couch?!

      Hopefully a hot blonde.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A couch?!

        Yes. Boris Johnson.

    5. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: A couch?!

      We have asked for a couch for years... For low key meetings with users etc. A place to sit and think that isn't an office chair.

      So, a kind and thoughtful boss would buy you a couch.

    6. David Roberts Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: A couch?!

      I understand that you are very keen to {cough} work under me in IT support......

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: more relaxed meetings with the students.

        We got new heavy wooden doors for the staff offices after a refit, replacing the glass doors.

        Then a memo that we weren't allowed to be in a meeting with a student with the door closed.

        So all the doors were propped open with fire extinguishers

        Followed by a memo that you weren't allowed to borrow fire extinguishers

        Then they fitted glass panels to each door - frosted glass

        My post-doc ended - but I'm sure they are still working on a solution, probably involving cloud connected cameras

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A couch?!

      Hopefully not used for casting.....

    8. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: A couch?!

      What kind of boss buys you a COUCH?!

      Quite, really you should expect a sofa from your manager...

      Mine's the one from Saville Row ->

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: What kind of boss buys you a COUCH?!

        The kind of a boss who expects you to be pulling 24 hour shifts. :(

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What kind of boss buys you a COUCH?!

          Back when I was a PFY, I remember that some of the senior people in the group had couches in their offices. Heck, during one of the building moves which I coordinated, I had to arrange for the move of those couches, which were a royal pain in the...well, you know. It was always explained that, because those senior people put in such long hours, and were so stressed, that they needed the relaxation provided by the couch.

          As for the technical people, who used to pull 16+ hour days (Yes, I have seen the "midnight message" on many occasions.), we didn't rate couches. But, as a way of thanks for our hard work and dedication, the outstanding few of us were presented with blanket rolls and, maybe, a pillow (Hey, the floor isn't all that hard.). :-/

          Anon Y. Mous.

      2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: A couch?!

        Pah! Sofa?? Push for a proper Chesterfield if you can aim for the sky and all that.

        Mines the smoking jacket....

        1. Nolveys Silver badge

          Re: A couch?!

          "My laptop is really slow ever since I opened that weird attachment and any email I send to HR bounces with some IP blocked message."

          "Why don't you lay down and tell me how that makes you feel."

        2. Ivan Vorpatril

          Re: A couch?!

          Colonials prefer a davenport.

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: A couch?!

            "Colonials prefer a davenport"
            From the OED: "A kind of small ornamental writing-table or escritoire fitted with drawers, etc."

            Well I can assure you that here in the Land of Under, we don't fucking well sit on escritoires, fitted with drawers or without. We sit on a lounge, sofa or armchair in the lounge room.

    9. macjules Silver badge

      Re: A couch?!

      Couch? With my IT budget they are lucky to get an airbed and a hairdryer to blow it up with.

      1. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: A couch?!

        "Couch? With my IT budget they are lucky to get an airbed and a hairdryer to blow it up with".

        "What do you mean, you want a hairdryer to inflate it with ? Haven't you got lungs ?!"

      2. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge
        FAIL

        Hairdryers are NOT a good idea with airbeds

        " With my IT budget they are lucky to get an airbed and a hairdryer to blow it up with."

        When I used to visit my parents for a weekend I was usually guaranteed a bed, but on this particular occasion, other guests had priority.

        An airbed in the music room was offered. No problem, I like camping and I'm on holiday, so that's fine...

        My father used a hair dryer to inflate the airbed, with all too predictable results. This hairdryer didn't have a cold blow option so:

        1) the inlet bit of plastic on the airbed melted

        2) I got the job of blowing the thing up myself, with a now badly distorted mouthpiece

        3) it was a scorching hot weekend and the hairdryer had turned the music room into a frigging sauna.

        I did not sleep too well that night.

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What kind of boss buys you a COUCH?!

      The Sofa King Boss of course

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: What kind of boss buys you a COUCH?!

        Sofa King generous!

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A couch?!

      What kind of boss buys you a COUCH?!

      Ummm - the kind that lets you have an office?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Read-ahead praise

    A client recently expressed their delight at the latency improvement for a global Web app - a day before we turned on the regional content cache.

    1. Robert Grant

      Re: Read-ahead praise

      Those people sound right behind!

  4. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Conflicted

    Delightful though such rare events are, it's a bit frustration that usually you don't dare tell anyone!

  5. A K Stiles
    Angel

    Praise or accusations of work not done?

    The other side of that one is when people demand you come and see the problem they are having with their system, so you dutifully trot over and watch as they proceed to use it as per design and everything works perfectly, which gets you the confused look from the user followed rapidly by the "You fixed something on the server, didn't you!?!" accusation.

    At least 95% of the time we hadn't touched a thing...

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

      That's because under observation the user slows down and pays attention to what they are doing, thus the thing works as advertised. There's a name for this syndrome, but it escapes me.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

        If you find the name for this syndrome let us know... It represents the majority of problems that I have with users..

        I can't of any other scenario that frustrates the users more than that exact scenario.

        I am 100% in agreement that it is nothing more than the fact they they slow down and think about what they are doing.....

        I often cite it as a "problem between the keyboard and the chair"... which they don't really appreciate...

        1. Andrew Moore Silver badge

          Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

          Otherwise known as a PICNIC- Problem In Chair, Not In Computer

          1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
            Big Brother

            Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

            It's called the Hawthorne Effect.

            And remember, Big Brother is watching you...

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

              Hawthorne Effect. That's it. Ta. Maybe I'll remember it next time.

              PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair) (POBKAC (Occurs))

              IBM problem (Idiot Behind Machine problem)

              POBCAK (Problem Occurs Between Chair And Keyboard)

              And many other variations on the theme. Or, in automotive lingo "The problem is the nut behind the wheel".

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

                When doing hardware repair, we used to use some sort of bastardised ISO standards for coding the work done. Basically found something that was perfectly fine, and changed it so it didn't work outside our four walls.

                Anyway, it was three letters, number, letter. HDD-3-A meant the hard drive had failed, it was replaced with a new part, and was a warranty failure or something.

                It was only a matter of days, possibly even hours, before the first IDI-0-T fault was logged to indicate that the only issue with the hardware was the fleshy thing operating it.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

                you forgot I D TEN T...

                ID10T error....

                1. brotherelf
                  Joke

                  Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

                  Let's see if I can spin a rename of our work SSO stuff into ID-ten-ty Management.

              3. This post has been deleted by its author

              4. The Central Scrutinizer

                Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

                The problem is the loose nut on the keyboard.

            2. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

              Way back in the 70s or thereabouts there was a lot of work in Industrial/Occupational Psychology on this sort of thing. Some of it in staff canteens if my memory serves me correctly. In one study in the canteen there were a lot of complaints about the food. So the canteen was tarted up but the food wasn't changed . The level of complaints dropped to insignificant levels.

              1. Olivier2553

                Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

                "So the canteen was tarted up but the food wasn't changed."

                But can we be certain that, because the canteen outfit was better, the people preparing the food were not a bit more careful, ending up in a better overall result?

                Cooks, like everyone, prefer to work in a pleasant environment, and are less likely forgetting the salt in the spaghetti if they enjoy their work.

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