back to article If this laptop is so portable, where's the keyboard, huh? HUH?

Welcome again to On-Call, in which The Register tries to liven up Fridays with reader-contributed stories of tech support traumas. This week, meet "Norman" who just last year took a frankly astounding support call at the law firm where he then worked. "One of my users called to complain about her upgrade from an old desktop …

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  1. whitepines Bronze badge
    Windows

    So, a product of the modern smartphone and tablet generation then? Thinks that PC in the corner is just that thing you use for work, and hasn't seen a laptop before?

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      There is a trope in the law where lawyers feel all they have to know about is the law. Everything else is fed to them by juniors for individual cases, put in working memory for a while then forgotten. They are defiantly ignorant and proud of it.

      I remember an older female lab head who, this century was forced by the march of time to upgrade her computer. Her collection of 4" floppies, actually floppy had to be transferred for her. I think she was on Lotus notes and had to learn Word. We felt for her. We tried to persuade her it would be the same learning curve to get a Mac like the rest of the lab had (and all the equipment, microscopes etc) but she wasn't brave enough. The devil you know.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Doctors are the same way. God forbid you ask the bastard to have to log in. And remember a password. And all that complicated computer stuff.

        Plus most of them aren't really any good at the doctorin' stuff, even if it's something simple like a broken bone.

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          "Doctors are the same way. God forbid you ask the bastard to have to log in. And remember a password. And all that complicated computer stuff."

          My GP was the one who agitated for the health trust to use Linux, the one who periodically has to get into the router to disable the parental protection because some numpty in the outsourced IT department keeps trying to set the routers up as for schools. He also trains other GPs.

          1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

            Yah know, to listen to you guys, you'd think the only stuff worth knowing was computer stuff, and anyone who doesn't understand computer stuff must automatically be, like, yah know, an idiot, and computer guys are gods who know everything that's worth knowing.

            Do we really have to deride others because they don't know what we know? There are lots of things that we don't know too and we are probably being mocked right now by people who know the stuff that we don't. You want to be better people? Then stop doing what they are doing and stop mocking them...if you don't then you're just as dumb...Or, no one is dumb and we are just all the same; we know some stuff and everything else is a mystery. The superior people are those that do not mock because they know that together we know everything, and apart we know bugger all.

            1. DropBear Silver badge

              "Do we really have to deride others..."

              YES. Oh yes, we absolutely do. Not knowing how the Carnot cycle applies to your car's engine is a non-issue unless you're the one designing the damned thing. But if your work involves driving yet you can't tell me how many pedals are in your car so you need a chauffeur to get around, I'll laugh you out of existence without the slightest bit of remorse.

              1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

                "Not knowing how the Carnot cycle applies to your car's engine is a non-issue unless you're the one designing the damned thing."

                Especially as cars tend to run on Otto or Diesel cycles. A car trying to run on the Carnot cycle would be very slow indeed due to the extremely low power to weight ratio of Carnot cycle engines.

                What is important is knowing the key interfaces between different areas of technology. If you want to use a laptop you need to know how to use a laptop, the most basic fault finding, and how to use the programs you'll be running. The same with cars. The problem comes with all the people who want to get by without having to learn the essential interfaces, because they don't see why they "should" have to.

              2. Nolveys Silver badge

                Not knowing how the Carnot cycle applies to your car's engine is a non-issue...

                I completely disagree. I had a car a while ago that leaked oil like crazy. I left it too long and the next thing I knew I was in a car not cycle.

              3. Shadow Systems Silver badge

                At DropBear, re: the number of peddles.

                You've evidently never seen a car modified for someone that *can't* use the standard foot controls & has to use hand controls instead.

                It's amusing as hell to watch the look on some attempted car theif's face when they get in & realize there's no bloody peddles.

                "What the fuck? How the hell am I supposed to drive it if there's no peddles? What kind of piece of shit IS this thing?"

                It's not a piece of shit, it's been made accessible to someone for whom a wheelchair is a requirement.

                My ex GF had such a car due to her spina biffida. She couldn't walk, but she could still drive using the hand controls. She never bothered to lock her car since 99% of the car theives out there "wouldn't have a fuckin' clue". And she was right, her car finally got stolen by some inventive bastard, only to get recovered a couple of streets away as they had been unable to manage a simple traffic circle.

                So don't berate someone for assuming a car "has" to have foot peddles at all, that's not always the case.

                Now go enjoy a pint on me, I'll be the guy in the corner playing Pole Position on the sit down arcade game. =-)p

              4. Slef

                Just out of interest how do you think that the carnot cycle relates to the internal combustion engine?

            2. Paul Shirley

              I suppose if you haven't used a coffee shop, pub/bar during daylight hours or train, watched very little TV, only watched 20+ year old films you might just have missed seeing a laptop in use. We'd probably be too busy wondering how you accidentally fell into our century to deride anything ;)

              1. DuncanLarge Bronze badge

                "only watched 20+ year old films"

                Lol you should go much further than that. Laptops were everywhere back in the late 90's.

            3. smudge Silver badge
              Boffin

              Yah know, to listen to you guys, you'd think the only stuff worth knowing was computer stuff, and anyone who doesn't understand computer stuff must automatically be, like, yah know, an idiot, and computer guys are gods who know everything that's worth knowing.

              Dear Geoffrey,

              Please scroll up to the top of this page. Now read out what it says in the red rectangle, under the big word "Register".

              It says "Biting the hand that feeds IT".

              That's what this site is about.

              Come back when you understand that.

              1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

                RE: "It says "Biting the hand that feeds IT".That's what this site is about. Come back when you understand that"

                Oh, I know all that. I've been here for ages. I felt like biting you lot, so that's alright then? Ta!

            4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              "Yah know, to listen to you guys, you'd think the only stuff worth knowing was computer stuff, and anyone who doesn't understand computer stuff must automatically be, like, yah know, an idiot, and computer guys are gods who know everything that's worth knowing."

              I drive a car. I don't do it for a living and it's a long time since I was able to do stuff like take the head off and reseat the valves (MGBs were nice to work on). Nevertheless I need to know where all the controls are and what they do. I also need to know which side of the road to drive on, what the various road signs etc. mean.

              Back in the day I used to be a laboratory scientist. I needed to know things like how to set up a microscope, how to balance the tubes in a centrifuge etc.

              In short, I, like everyone else need to know enough (NB enough, not everything) about the tools I use to be able to use them. Why should it be different when the tool in question is a computer, especially when it's being used as part of one's job?

              1. MJI Silver badge

                Engines

                I have dismantled a few

                Rootes 1600s inclduing tuning.

                A few bike engines.

                A GM V6 with quad cams.

                Haven't needed to do much to my current cars lump yet, all I know is that the head is heavy despite being aluminium, and does not have a full set of glow plugs by design.

                1. Trygve Henriksen

                  Re: Engines

                  I did a partial rebuild of the 1.4i (Citroën TU3JP4) in my car(new headgasket, two new cylinder sleeves, piston rings, big-end bearings, and even reseated the valves.) a while ago. Then replaced the rear axle assembly and recently swapped out the old clutch(full kit).

                  I there's an instruction book around I can probably fix it.

                  I think... I still haven't fixed the old PFAFF sewing machine I rescued at the dump.

                  (It just needs a thorough clean and adjusting. I have found a service manual, but then there's the time... )

            5. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
              Joke

              @Geoffrey W

              Do we really have to deride others because they don't know what we know? There are lots of things that we don't know too and we are probably being mocked right now by people who know the stuff that we don't.

              You know, every time when I'm visiting another company I always get laughed at by the receptionists when I pick up the pen and try to insert it into my ear, whilst simultaneously staring at the signing in book. When I ask them why their optical scanner doesn't work they all fall out of their chairs laughing.

              Well, one day the joke will be on them I tell you!

            6. This post has been deleted by its author

            7. Scoular

              It is a human power problem

              The basic problem is that when humans get into a position of power, lawyers, doctors or politicians and the very rich they all gradually assume that they are right - always right and cam do whatever they want.

              Hence the behaviour described here and also the failure of communism and now democracy. Both might have worked except for the fact that those who got to the top became unhinged and totally self absorbed.

              If we want to get the world stable we need to address this issue. For politics one possibility is shorter maximum terms. The complaint is that that does not give them time to get things done - precisely.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            '"Doctors are the same way. God forbid you ask the bastard to have to log in. And remember a password. And all that complicated computer stuff."

            'My GP was the one who agitated for the health trust to use Linux, the one who periodically has to get into the router to disable the parental protection because some numpty in the outsourced IT department keeps trying to set the routers up as for schools. He also trains other GPs.'

            I feel like being anonymous today... some medics are very tech savvy, after all, you need to be intelligent to qualify (or at least demonstrate a good memory), others less so because they rely on other people to do everything for them. I know of one who runs a home server and one who would tell everyone in their office their password as an alternative to remembering it.

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            "My GP was the one who agitated for the health trust to use Linux"

            My GP and I discuss the security aspects of smart card logins, the relative merits of various keyboard types and how cheap ones can make your hands hurt like hell due to the lack of cushioning at the end of keyboard travel (the relevance of this being that the NHS was supplying the cheapest possible keyboards for a while and staff were suffering joint problems)

            We even arranged shootouts of a bunch of models so that people could feel the differences. It killed the "A keyboard is a keyboard is a keyboard" arguments. (No, you don't need to spend £200, but a £14 Cherry G80 keyboard is far more comfortable and has a longer service life than a £3 Logitech one.)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Politicians too. Willfully ignorant.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Three groups I refuse to do IT work for:

            Doctors, Lawyers and Politicians.

            Life's too short, I have better things to do with my time.

            1. elDog Silver badge

              Re: Three groups I refuse to do IT work for:

              Totally agree with your three - I'm in a job with all three of these groups....

              I'd also throw in small mon&mom shops like booksellers who can squeeze a nickel down to a micron of its worth. I've wired many a shop and installed software/hardware and felt like I was ripping off their livelihood by even presenting an invoice. Getting paid in used remaindered books is not a fair trade.

          2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Politicians too.

            They're a "special" case...

            // as currently being demonstrated here in the colonies

          3. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "Doctors are the same way."

          In my student days I knew quite a few medical students. Ever since I've never been able to regard the medical profession with the expected degree of awe.

        4. Hollerithevo Silver badge

          Doctorin' stuff

          Really. Realy??? Most of the doctors in the NHS aren't really any good? How do you know? Are you extrapolating from more than one instance?

          My life and my partner's life have both been saved by GPs and hospital doctors. In my partner's case, it was a very non-obvious case of sepsis, and they worked like dogs to save her for three weeks, and did.

          I cannot buy that 'most doctors' can't doctor. That is simply ignorant.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Doctorin' stuff

            Well I could give the complete opposite story about the NHS with tragic consequences.

            Lots of doctors are ignorant but are well beyond the capability to recognise it in themselves.

        5. JohnArchieMcKown

          My doctor is fairly computer literate.

          I've seen him & his staff. The computers in the rooms are _not_ left logged on (most likely due to HIPPA laws). My doctor has _no_ trouble logging in and taking notes. He can even touch type! And, best of all, he's a really good doctor! Well, he's kept me going for quite a few years.

      2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        FOUR inch floppies? What on earth system was she using?

        1. jake Silver badge

          4" drives exist.

          Made by IBM. The drive was the Model 341, the floppies were called "Demi Diskettes".

          1. Trygve Henriksen

            Re: 4" drives exist.

            But only a few drives were ever sold back then, and even if the user in question actually DID use it, there's no way to make a more recent computer accept that drive.

            That said, if anyone happens to have one laying about... I wouldn't mind getting my clammy hands on it.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Coat

          FOUR inch floppies? What on earth system was she using?

          That was her last date, when he saw what he'd let himself in for.

          I'll get me coat.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That story, I've heard it before I may know who you're talking about, unless its common enough to happen fairly often.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        sister in law is a public service lawyer

        gets sent to international conferences etc.. highly skilled in her specific area. Only now learning how to use excel, and generally doesnt deal with day to day or what I would consider basic groundwork stuff. Someone else prepares that and provides it to her.

      5. Trygve Henriksen

        4" floppies?

        I have a number of 8", 5.25", 3.5", 3", and even a few Canon 2" VFs..

        But I have never ever seen a 4" disk.

      6. Andy Denton

        4" floppies!?!? Never come across disks of that size before. 8", 5.25", 3.5" and 3" yes, but never 4".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Reminds me of that dumb kid on the TV ad with an apple ipad, who's mum asks him what he's doing on the computer, and he replies "What's a computer".

      1. Avatar of They Silver badge
        Happy

        I shout at the TV everytime at that bit. Stupid brat. (Though I thought it was a girl)

        1. BOFHfollower

          I thought it was a girl too, not that that makes any difference

      2. JimboSmith Silver badge

        What's a computer

        I'm pleased it's not just me who finds that advert bloody annoying. What is the school it's going to teaching students? The school my neice goes to has a computer studies room and I've seen posters on the wall asking and explaining what a computer is. So this isn't a universal problem.

    3. stopthebollocks

      Yeah, they conned us when they started making laptops, you try using the coffee cup holder now, its impossible, they removed the hole in the middle, spilled my coffee on the keyboard many times and had to buy a new one ;-)

  2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Obligatory pedantic quibble...

    ...This week, meet "Norman" who just last year took a frankly astounding support call at the law firm where he then woked....

    Well, I suppose if someone calls you at work, waking up is a good start....

    1. 's water music Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Obligatory pedantic quibble...

      ...This week, meet "Norman" who just last year took a frankly astounding support call at the law firm where he then woked....

      Well, I suppose if someone calls you at work, waking up is a good start....

      I dunno, with the systemic racial bias running through much of the criminal justice system I would applaud any employees' efforts to be more woke

    2. Havin_it

      Re: Obligatory pedantic quibble...

      No, you misunderstand. Norman was primarily the company cook, specialising in stir-frys.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obligatory pedantic quibble...

      Did he wake, or was he ....WOKEN!

      Is he now "Brother Norman"

  3. chivo243 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    classic!

    "ohhhh …. There's a keyboard in there…".

    At least she didn't go completely of the deep end and complain about "you should have told me sooner..."

    I'll be she has no clue what to do with 710 cap on the engine either?

    Paris, because the article was written for the icon

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: classic!

      What's a 710 cap ?

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