back to article Devon County Council techies: WE KNOW IT WASN'T YOU!

Devon County Council has pointed the finger of blame at a "new IT printing system" for a letter littered with spelling mistakes that informed a father he was being fined for taking his son out of school in term time. penalty notice from Daniel Moore - used with permission. Do not reuse without his permission The letter Daniel …

Anonymous Coward

Re: It's Devon, they probably think spell check is the work of the devil.

Eer, ged orf moi land!!!!

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Re: It's Devon, they probably think spell check is the work of the devil.

When oi lived in Norf Deb'n in the late '70s we 'ad the largest number of witches covens in Britain. You tek the piss outta Devon, oi'll get Granny Greep ter turn you inta a turnip.

Oi blames the spellin' on Taunton natrul droi!

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Re: It's Devon, they probably think spell check is the work of the devil.

Why blame the Devil when you've got the Cornish living right next to you? Bound to be their fault somehow.

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Go

Re: It's Devon, they probably think spell check is the work of the devil.

> Why blame the Devil when you've got the Cornish living right next to you?

'Ere, we'll be 'avin none of that sort of talk, thank you! No works of the Devil in Cornwall:

We are told [...] that The devil never came into Cornwall.

Because, when he crossed the Tamar, and made Torpoint for a brief space his resting-place, he could not but observe that everything, vegetable or animal, was put by the Cornish people into a pie.

He saw and heard of fishy pie, star-gazy pie, conger pie, and indeed pies of all the fishes in the sea. Of parsley pie, and herby pie, of lamy pie, and piggy pie, and pies without number. Therefore, fearing they might take a fancy to a "devily pie," he took himself back again into Devonshire.

Popular romances of the west of England etc., Robert Hunt, 1908.

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Pirate

Re: It's Devon, they probably think spell check is the work of the devil.

Nah, we were all wreckin.... —>

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I thought printing systems

were designed to produce faithful representations of computer generated graphic based tat. I find it hard to believe a printer added the typos and even more hard to believe that print proceses were to blame.

admit it, the council is just S**t at drafting, proofreading, and change, managing their letter templates.

Leave the print process out of it. May as well blame your brand of petrol for getting lost while driving.

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Re: I thought printing systems

Yeah, it is because they'll be paid a large "competitive" remuneration to "compete" with private firms, so obviously way too clever and above such things as worrying about spelling.

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Re: I thought printing systems

Computers do what you say, not what you mean.

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Happy

Re: I thought printing systems

Ah, but the old printing system involved the highly paid and educated school head writing a letter which was then sent to a lowly paid school secretary who then typed it all out while correcting all the mistakes on the way. Secretaries also typically not only corrected the spelling and grammar but also put letters into a suitable business like form, replaced obscenities with recipients correct name, title, job description etc.

Other types of secretaries were also available, not just school ones.

It's only the new computerised printing system that sends out what was actually given to it, rather than what should have been given to it.

(disclaimer, this was not typed by secretary and is probably also full of errors)

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Re: I thought printing systems

Good secretaries are worth their weight in gold. Really. The secretary of our departmental office saved me (when I was a lowly student) from missing deadlines etc. Chocolates were bought, on other occasions I baked cookies. However if you had crossed her in the past you would not get these phone calls and much less help with the paperwork. I do miss her!

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Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

having HP LaserJet 5si or something printers. When doing long print jobs, they would start to loose letters. Your document would start out normally, then certain letters would "drop out" resulting in blank spaces between the leftover letters.

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Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

Or in really bad cases they'd lose the PCL formatting and start printing lots of pages with garbage on them.

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Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

It's because letters were rationed back then.

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Facepalm

Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

Lemme guess - Serial comms, and cheap cables without the DTR pin connected?

We had a similar setup, with about 3 multiplexers between host & line printer, and every hop had to be cabled and configured right, else the monthly* inventory print would foul up when the printer buffer filled up - after about 60 pages.

* Just long enough to forget that a component had been "upgraded" but not load-tested.

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Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

certain letters would "drop out"

That's the trouble with loose letters. Should have fixed them securely.

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Headmaster

Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

When doing long print jobs, they would start to loose letters.

Did they also start to add letters, thereby mis-spelling "lose" as "loose"?

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Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

Lemme guess - Serial comms, and cheap cables without the DTR pin connected?

I think it was actually some weird optimisation in HP laser printers that was supposed to save memory*. It wasn't very well implemented, so the output occasionally have bits missing.

*Printers of the time, especially PostScript ones, would often fail to print complex pages because of insufficient memory.

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Coat

Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

I think I remember that issue, didn't HP provide a clip on tray to collect the dropped letters

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Coat

Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

@Kubla Cant

No, they just let random ones out, in this case it was an "o"...

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Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

When doing long print jobs, they would start to loose letters.

So if you printed out your message then your extra 'o' could be dropped out...

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Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

I think I remember that issue, didn't HP provide a clip on tray to collect the dropped letters

Provided? No chance, they might have sold one, you might have needed to order option -wdlc. It probably wouldn't have been available as a standalone product.

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Headmaster

Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

> Did they also start to add letters, thereby mis-spelling "lose" as "loose"?

Yes, they loosed them; after which the letters were free to turn up or not, as and where they saw fit - in an ironic, yet entirely appropriate twist, some of them, once loose, probably turned up to spell 'lose' with an extra 'o'.

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Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

> I think it was actually some weird optimisation in HP laser printers

And I instantly thought of eerie, Lovecraftian incantations - which would explain most printing since pretty much the dawn of printing and all HP printers ever.

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Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

The 4000 series printers would sometimes do that too. Seemed to be an early symptom of a failing or badly seated RAM module, oftentimes reseating the module and/or network print card would fix things.

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Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

I used to have fun with Advanced Function Printing that came with IBM 3800-3 and moving/replacing letters & numbers around in reports, especially those destined for auditors mwahahaha mwahahahahah

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Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

"...Or in really bad cases they'd lose the PCL formatting and start printing lots of pages with garbage on them..."

Or better yet, when people sent PS to a PCL printer and stood confused when the actual PS "language" was printed!

This kind of thing really does annoy and frustrate me.

And whilst we're at it, when my youngest lad goes back to school in September, he doesn't go on the "first" day back, as it's an inset day...what the actual...? You've just had x weeks off (because this seems to be a theme after every break, nowadays) and you now want an extra day to do the stuff you could have already done?

And...how come we can't bill the schools when teachers go on strike? After all, they didn't ask our permission and it often means parents have to suddenly change plans like take off a day of their own.

Sorry... /rant

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Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

"...you might have needed to order option.."

Anyone else repair HP printers in the 90's?

They (HP) seemed to have a mandate to single handedly destroy our forests. If you ordered a replacement spring that was, say, 8mm long by around 2mm diameter, it'd come in a small plastic bag. In a jiffy bag. In a box. In a larger box. In a MUCH larger box that could usually have accommodated the entire printer!

Along, of course, with a raft of printed compliance, warranty and other such documents. In 90 million languages, just in case the repair centre they shipped it to in the UK, from the UK might have used some ancient dialect of some long forgotten (and likely dead) language.

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Flame

Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

he doesn't go on the "first" day back, as it's an inset day...what the actual...? You've just had x weeks off

(in the UK...)

Blame Kenneth Baker. Yes, it was that far back. He wanted to "professionalise" the teaching profession and among other innovations he decided that teachers should work a fixed number of hours. Up until then teachers had been (to a greater or lesser extent) willing to work enough hours to get the job done. This often involved going into school during "holiday" time, or after hours in order to prepare the classroom or attend a training course. It nearly always involved taking children's work home to mark. Believe it or not teachers are not actually paid during holidays(*) and are not eligible for overtime.

So Kenneth Baker set a fixed number of hours for a full-time teacher. A lot of things changed as a result, not least of which was the introduction of "Baker Days", officially known as IN SErvice Training, or INSET. During a Baker Day, teachers are given time to attend training sessions, CPD, that sort of thing. You know, the sort of thing that you or I would be given time to attend during a normal working day. Most teachers can't do that because they have to - you know - look after a classroom full of rowdy kids. Very occasionally an individual teacher might be given time to go on a course and the class covered either internally or by a supply teacher, but this is expensive so most schools prefer to undertake training either on INSET days, when they can train large groups of teachers together, or in "twilight" sessions, squeezed into the time between sending the children home and the official end of a teacher's day, when they are normally tidying up, marking and preparing for the next day. Of course, many teachers (particularly at primary) also end up taking work home, so the whole idea of fixed hours is a bit moot.

Most teachers are now also eligible for PPA time (this was a Blair government innovation I believe). This is generally 10% of the working week (i.e. one morning or afternoon session) of "non contact" time which is intended to allow an individual teacher to undertake paperwork and other administrative tasks. Good schools employ an additional teacher who covers such time, maybe (particularly in primary schools) by teaching a non-core subject such as music at which the class teacher may not be confident. Not-so-good schools (my opinion) use a "teaching assistant". In theory this time is not the responsibility of the class teacher, but particularly where TAs are used (perhaps less so for Higher Level TAs), the class teacher still ends up planning and reviewing the session.

Teachers do get bad press sometimes, but a lot of it has to do with misconceptions such as that surrounding INSET days. Many seem not to realise - for example - that teachers are not allowed to take their massive allocation of holiday whenever they please, not even a single day. Got a child of your own who is off school sick? Best of luck with that. Even taking an afternoon off to attend a funeral can sometimes be problematic.

Disclaimer (as if you couldn't guess) - I come from a family of teachers and my teacher wife also comes from a family of teachers. I did try it myself for a short time, until I realised I was hopeless at it and couldn't cope with spending four hours a night (requirements for newly-qualified teachers were quite onerous) on marking and preparation.

M.

(*)Well, those in permanent positions do get a monthly salary which doesn't change during the holidays, but it's actually based on the number of hours worked. Teachers who are not on permanent contracts appear to receive a higher salary. In fact they are paid the same as permanent teachers, but the pay is concentrated into the actual working time and isn't spread out equally across the year.

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FAIL

O really?

Do they seriously think anyone with more than two communicating neurons will believe this?

P.S. I just corrected a typo in 'preview' before posting.

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Re: O really?

> P.S. I just corrected a typo in 'preview' before posting.

Shame you didn't do the same to O' Reilley.

[I'll get my coat]

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Joke

I thimk my ketbored has the same sooftware.

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DJV
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Ah, a MacBook Pro then...

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Surely...

You write a cheque out...

To the wrong payee, with different amounts in words and numbers, and signed by someone obscure.

Bonus points if you still have an old chequebook for an account long closed (even more if the bank has closed down).

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DJV
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Re: Surely...

Well, I do keep an old plastic Personal Banker card from when I had an account with a branch of Barclays. I kept mainly because I refer to it as my "Bastardcard" as the Personal Banker's name was Rosemary Bastard (with no apostophes). While Barclays is still with us, the branch in question has long gone.

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Re: Surely...To the wrong payee,

If you think the banks check all that stuff much any more you can send me a cheque for 50 quid signed Michael Mouse and we'll see what happens...

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Re: Surely...

"Bonus points if you still have an old chequebook for an account long closed (even more if the bank has closed down)."

I threw out an ancient cheque book just a couple of weeks ago.

The last cheque written from it was something like 1997.

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Headmaster

More than just spelling.

The punctuation in that letter is also horrible.

Comma misuse is usually the number one culprit; this example is prime proof.

There are also some word choices I find suspect, but those might be due to Blighty-versus-Yankee preferences.

Unrelated to the grammar: You Brits are allowed to post cash? Americans are told never to mail actual cash for anything! (And most don't, aside from kid's birthday cards from relatives, with checks/cheques covering larger gifts.)

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Re: More than just spelling.

No. It says "... or cash in person at the address below".

As in attend in person and hand over the cash.

Agreed re. your other comments though!!

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Re: More than just spelling.

The Royal Mail has a very fine system for posting cash to another person. Called a Postal Order , recipient turns it into cash at any post office. Effectively a 'named bearer check/cheque'.

Also they allow cash but only insure up to a finite limit. OK for children's/kid's birthday twenty pound notes.

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Re: More than just spelling.

The Royal Mail has a very fine system for posting cash to another person. Called a Postal Order

With eye-watering fees to match! A nice little money spinner for the now-privatised Post Office when they make 12.5% clear profit on most POs (i.e. anything between £10 and £100), and even more on some (if you wanted to send a 50p order, it costs you £1!).

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Re: More than just spelling.

Haven't used a Postal Order since mail ordering things from Maplin like edge connectors and cable for the C64 userport so I could POKE* and PEEK the CIA into bit bashing a serial connection to my mate's C64 next door so we could text chat.

Of course it first involved a phone call well probably a couple rings and then hangup, to expensive to actually talk. Then turn the C64s on, load the program from tape and then the speed was probably like teletype which was of couse made it cool. Probably didn't actually use it much as it was quicker to talk through the fence when we wasn't allowed out.

The C64 did get you to know the hardware, if you wanted it to make sound you had to POKE the SID chip registers to set the waveform, frequency, attack, sustain and decay durations.

*POKE was the BASIC command to write a byte to a memory location which could be the control registers of the CIA which was IO chip, SID which was the sound chip, VIC the video chip

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Windows

Re: More than just spelling.

TWENTY POUNDS? they get a fiver... and that only because the pound note is not de rigeur anymore (south of the tees/exe line)

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Boffin

Obviously a printer installation error.

It was installed in the office of someone that couldn't use a spellchecker.

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Re: Obviously a printer installation error.

Hey for a 6year old in a N Korean outsourced sweatshop it isn't bad

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"“We’ve been trialling a new IT printing system and a number of mistakes were unfortunately not picked up before this letter was dispatched.”"

Translation 1: We didn't bother proof-reading the boilerplate.

Translation 2: Our proof reader was illiterate.

Translation 3. We told our proof reader they were just being negative and passed the boilerplate as correct.

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OK, i'll bite

I've definitely printed blocks of test on an outdated printer driver, or an incorrectly configured white-label driver, and seen many of the issues in the letter, namely missing spaces, or certain vowels dropped.

Whilst I admit, most printer driver issues will result in ALL of a certain letter dropped etc, I'm willing to give some BOD, especially given how obvious some of the errors are; and i'll refer to my anaecdotal evidence as described above.

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Headmaster

They need a lesson in grammar too.

There is no such verb as "to trial". Something "is either on trial" or it "is being tried".

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Headmaster

Re: They need a lesson in grammar too.

The OED disagrees with you.

If anyone were to be considered the official Grammar Nazi, then I believe they'd at least be in the running...

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/trial

verb

1 with object Test (something, especially a new product) to assess its suitability or performance.

‘teachers all over the UK are trialling the materials’

2 no object (of a horse, dog, or other animal) compete in trials.

‘the pup trialled on Saturday’

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Headmaster

Re: They need a lesson in grammar too.

The OED need reminding that all this verbing weirds nouns.

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Re: They need a lesson in grammar too.

Nouning verbs is worse - we have the learnings to take from that

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