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' …

  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

            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. Symon Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: SMTP

      David Cameron. LOL. xx

    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 Silver badge

      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. Symon Silver badge
            Pint

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

            "Miss Dunn"

            "That's right. Dunn was over Unger and I was over Dunn."," So, you see, both Dunn and I were under Oveur, even though I was under Dunn."

      2. Symon Silver badge
        Headmaster

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

        "vocalize acronyms". All acronyms can be vocalised as a word, otherwise they're abbreviations or initialisms.

        http://data.grammarbook.com/blog/abbreviations/abbreviations-acronyms-and-initialisms-revisited/

        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
    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..................

    2. Flakk Silver badge

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

      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.

      I love the "I bought it, so you must support it" users. "I understand that your new Macbook was expensive, and I'd like to congratulate you on the excellent taste of your personal electronics purchase decision. Unfortunately, our VPN solution does not support remote access to the corporate network for Apple computers."

      Begging forgiveness is often easier than asking permission, but not always.

      1. B*stardTintedGlasses

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

        Oh god yes, that was a constant pain at a place I used to work in my Hell-desk days.

        Compounded by a specific P.A. who always used to try and get her own way by claiming the job/shiny/"urgent priority fix" was for the C-level bods she worked for to jump the queue.

        Well, she got her unsupported MacBook in the end, and I walked off whistling with policy firmly on my side.

      2. Fatman

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

        Had a similar situation at a former employer.

        The sales weasels went out and bought MacBooks and expected IT to support them.

        They were not too happy when it came time to support them.

        Our CIO's reply was short, and forceful: "FUCK YOU!!! I told you that we do not support Macs, and if you go out and bring your own, you are on your own." It was even sweeter when they complained to the CEO, who supported our CIO.

        Many a sales weasel was pissed off; but they were warned.

        1. ChrisB 2

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

          Yep, $diety forbid that the guys bringing in the dosh which pays your salary get any support, off policy or not.

          No wonder most non-IT departments hate the IT department.

          And, yes, I worked in IT for 20+ years.

          1. Helldesk Dogsbody

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

            When they work with us they get as much assistance as we can provide. Should they ever actually bother to ask why the answer to a request is a firm no rather than immediately try to circumvent it then they'll generally find that many of us are somewhat sympathetic. If they choose not to listen or nag anyway that would be when we become a touch irritable. That and continuously expecting us to deliver miracles on projects where we're told a week before launch what it is they require of us and it's going to take significantly longer than to set up may explain a modicum of dislike for the coloured pencil office.

    3. Stevie Silver badge

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

      And then there's the one that goes "I don't understand how we did such a great job but still got outsourced".

      Correlation does not imply causation. Usually.

    4. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      ...or telling the users they don't want what they need

      I've been on the receiving end of this as the user. Last year my workstation was replaced with a considerably less powerful (but no less expensive) laptop. IT spun some insulting BS about it being a big upgrade and weren't much interested in the truth of the matter. Also universal USB docks rather than docking stations were provided so, over the matter of a mere $100, the laptop's expensive GPU sits idle.

      I don't take work home with me so the whole exercise has been a waste of everyone's time, the only measurable outcome being that data processing work now takes longer. Frontline IT certainly wasn't responsible for the decision making, but the attitude towards real end user concerns was poor.

      So it goes both ways.

  7. Shady
    FAIL

    On a similar note....

    My (non IT literate) brother was once trying to save a picture to a floppy disk on my my Amiga. "The file is too big" he complained, after dragging the picture icon over the floppy drive icon. "How big is it?" I asked. "About this big" he replied earnestly, holding his thumb and finger about an inch apart..... (sigh...)

  8. jake Silver badge

    It's been awhile (thankfully!) ...

    ... but I can't for the life of me remember Win95's Explorer being useful enough to tell a casual user what kind of file system was in use. And "C:/ FAT" is nonsensical. This story doesn't ring true ...

    1. Frank Zuiderduin

      Re: It's been awhile (thankfully!) ...

      Indeed. Why would any system have a directory called FAT in the root of the C drive? This is made up. By someone who either doesn't know much about computers or thinks the readers don't.

      1. BenDwire
        Holmes

        Re: It's been awhile (thankfully!) ...

        Perhaps the volume label was "FAT", so typing DIR in a DOS box would render the message "Volume in Drive C is FAT"

        And yes, you did just make me run up a VM to check ...

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: It's been awhile (thankfully!) ...

          typing DIR in a DOS box would render the message "Volume in Drive C is FAT"

          change the volume name to 'TREADMILL' or "DIET" or 'SKINNY'

          problem solved.

      2. Pedigree-Pete Bronze badge
        Facepalm

        On a DOS machine....

        As others have alluded to, C:/ on a DOS machine suggests someone hasn't used command line DOS in a while. More command line Linux...and yes I did run up a cmd window to check 'cause I couldn't believe my eyes. PP

    2. bluesxman

      Re: It's been awhile (thankfully!) ...

      In fairness, I suspect the reporter was just rusty on the details; File Manager in Win3x seems to behave broadly in the manner described (notwithstanding the incorrectly oriented slash in the story -- tsk tsk).

      http://www.guidebookgallery.org/pics/gui/system/managers/filemanager/winnt31.png

      Although it's not abundantly clear from the screenshot if it's telling you the filesystem format, or the admin simply labelled the drive "FAT" -- and my first hand memory of such things is far too hazy now.

    3. Symon Silver badge

      Re: It's been awhile (thankfully!) ...

      I thought in Windows the solidus isn't used to separate the hierarchy, it uses the backslash?

  9. wolfetone Silver badge

    I remember the time when I was 10 years old and I discovered compression on Windows 98. The moment when I thought I could fit massive files on to a 1.44MB floppy disk when it was actually 16MB! I was so so happy, showing off to my teacher about this great new thing I found.

    Then I come in to school the one day with said 16MB on a 1.44MB floppy with my school project on it, ready to print it off at school.... where is it? I can't see it? But I definately put it on there! I got shouted at for not bringing it in, even though I contested it to say I had. I went home, put the floppy in my computer and there it was! So it was definately on there.

    I go back the next day, back to the teacher with the floppy disk and told her that its definately on there but the computer in the class is broken as it wouldn't find it. She took the disk and said she'd ask another teacher what the problem is.

    Well didn't I feel silly when the other teacher asked what I had done, told him about the compression, and he said that it would only show on my computer at home, and I vaugely remember something about them not being able to configure the class computer to work with it.

    So I went back home, split the file in half (as it was over 1.44MB) and came back in the next day with my work on two floppy disks.

    And, to recap: I was 10.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge
      Headmaster

      2 thumbs down?

      Guess my teachers still don't like me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re:Guess my teachers still don't like me.

        From my experience, they don't like smart arses, the class goody two shoes etc etc

        Ok, so I went to a school where you got a beating if you did your homework. If that didn't work, then the bullies threatened to throw you out of a 2nd floor window. Money for your school lunch could pay off the bullies though..

        But hey man, it was the 1960's and have some weed. Peace and all that.

        1. Chris King Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Re:Guess my teachers still don't like me.

          "From my experience, they don't like smart arses, the class goody two shoes etc etc"

          One teacher took an instant dislike to me when she found out she'd taught one of my aunties... The one that threw her down a flight of stairs and broke her leg about 25 years earlier.

          Icon, because that's what she saw me as for the rest of my time there.

    2. Blotto

      @wolfetone

      Did they have macs at school or something?

      I vaguely recall a geometry issue where you needed the original machine to read a disc but don't remember a disc compression that only worked with the original hardware. A bit useless as an offsite backup or file transfer as you mention.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        No they were all RM machines running Windows 98.

        I think it was something to do with the compression I used, I may have actually done it on Windows 3.11 but I had something called Caldera on it which gave it a Windows 9x start menu etc.

        1. BenDwire
          Holmes

          Doublespace? Stacker? MSDOS V6.x? All very common back in the day. Not to mention that higher density 1.6MB per floppy format MS used on Win95 distribution floppies ... all 20 of them IIRC.

          Also drives were often poorly made meaning that floppies wouldn't read reliably between machines anyway - or at least that's how it seemed back then.

          Nurse! Pass my commode ...

          1. Simon Harris Silver badge

            I seem to remember the compression system in MSDOS 6.2? came, and went away, and then came back again under a different name with different OS versions due to copyright/patent problems.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              "I seem to remember the compression system in MSDOS 6.2? came, and went away, and then came back again under a different name with different OS versions due to copyright/patent problems."

              IIRC, they basically stole and integrated the compression system from Stacker, got caught and had to go back and write their own.

    3. defiler Silver badge

      Don't know why the downvote(s)...

      I clearly remember a "compression" tool kicking about, back in the day, that would simply hide the file on your hard disc and leave a pointer to it. Totally bloody useless, and I knew a few folk (definitely older than 10, and computer-literate enough to know better) who believed they'd just packed loads of DooM WADs onto a floppy.

      Wasn't part of Windows (it was a 3rd-party practical joke), but it was out there.

      Edit: I also remember reports of people "compressing" all their files to floppy and then finding a hidden folder full of "crap" on their C: drive, deleting it, and losing the lot...

    4. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Windows 98

      This comment makes me feel so old. A 10-year old kid using Windows 98 at school. I'd already been in industry for over a decade before Windows 98 became a thing. When I was at school it was all BBC Model Bs...after a while we got them connected with Econet and then were were able to access the single Winchester disk.

      <sigh>

      1. defiler Silver badge

        Re: Windows 98

        "after a while we got them connected with Econet and then were were able to access the single Winchester disk."

        Not when some numpty accidentally(?) plugged an Econet cable over the video out (composite, not TV or RGB) and shorted the pins...

        No clock

      2. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Windows 98

        BBC Model Bs?

        My first school computer was a PDP8/e, that was followed by a couple of SWTPC 6800 systems that the computer science teacher built.

        1. chivo243 Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Windows 98

          There weren't computers in schools until I was in college...

          1. PatientOne

            Re: Windows 98

            Really?

            The original computers were people (circa 1800's).

            That would make you... almost as old as me :p

            1. Simon Harris Silver badge

              Re: Windows 98

              1800s...

              I think that meaning of 'computer' lasted at least until the 1940s.

              Richard Feynman, in his stories of his time on the Manhattan Project refers to the pool of people churning through calculations on mechanical calculators as computers.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Windows 98

          Luxury...

      3. Christoph Silver badge

        Re: Windows 98

        We saw a computer when I was at school. We went on a school trip to this company that had a very large room filled with machinery, that all eventually ejected a pinched paper tape that was taken into a side room and run through a machine that printed the contents out on paper.

        #WhenIWereALad

        1. Admiral Grace Hopper
          Windows

          Re: Windows 98

          We didn't have a computer in school, but we did have a teletype and an acoustic coupler that allowed us access to the mainframe at the local polytechnic.

          1. David Nash Silver badge

            Re: Windows 98

            "a teletype and an acoustic coupler that allowed us access to the mainframe at the local polytechnic."

            That sounds like what my school had too. It was upgraded for my last few years there, there was a govt. scheme that gave us a classroom with 10 RM 480Z machines and a shared hard drive. Must have been about 5Mb between us all, I reckon.

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Windows 98

        "When I was at school it was all BBC Model Bs"

        Now I feel old too! When I was at school, we had ancient 5-hole punch machines and had to send the tapes out to be run and get the printouts back. Because there was only one collection/delivery per week, it took two weeks to find you made a typo! By the time A levels came around, we got our very first Commodore PET 2001, calculator-style keyboard and a whole 8KB of RAM and built-in cassette deck for storage.

        In between those two highlights, we got a teletype + acoustic modem, but had to stay back after school for "live" use to use it after 6pm because the phone calls were too expensive during "peak" times. Batch files were allowed to be run during the day, but only by the teacher, students being limited to punching the tapes offline only,

        1. ricardian

          Re: Windows 98

          Commodore PET machine code programmers will remember the indispensible handbook by the unforgettable Raeto West. I was SO grateful that the 6502 IEEE488 routines were hardcoded.

          And the books is still freely available online https://ia601709.us.archive.org/20/items/Programming_The_PET_CBM_197x_West_Raeto/Programming_The_PET_CBM_197x_West,_Raeto.pdf

      5. Mage Silver badge

        Re: BBC Model Bs?

        I was fixing the new ones in my 3rd job, young whipper-snapper. The computer in College ran George and better students were allowed to punch their own cards.

        At school we filled out coding sheets in block capitals and got the printout two weeks later.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Devil

          Re: BBC Model Bs?

          When I were at school lad we 'ad to get t'druids to put up our code on t'new 10 megalith machine at Stonehenge, and then wait 6 months for the messenger to bring the results back to our cave. Also it were ruinously expensive in virgins, so we were only allowed to use it once a decade. And that's when there wasn't a bug in the code, or the messenger got eaten by a sabretoothed tiger.

          Young people today...

      6. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Windows 98

        AAh, econet :)

        Was fun the year we found that

        a) you logged your device in to the network

        b) your network ID was how that was identified

        c) you could POKE a new network ID on to your machine

        d) nothing checked or verified the new address as long as no conflicts

        So, the game went like this. Person A goes to sysadmin to "check their quota". He logs in to his operator account. Person B distracts sysadmin. Person C checks network addresses, switches his network address to the operator, and grants larger quotas to A,B and C.

        Was all fun and games until we realized we allocated 400MB space on a 80MB disk.Then we got BUSTED :/

      7. fruitoftheloon
        Happy

        @ Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese: Re: Windows 98

        HN-B,

        you think you're old, I remember the joys of Windows 286....?

        Regards,

        Jay

        1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

          Re: @ Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese: Windows 98

          Schneider Euro PC packing an Intel 8088 running some archaic version of DOS. Gold monochrome monitors...ahh the height of computing in secondary school..

      8. Tannin

        Re: Windows 98

        "This comment makes me feel so old. A 10-year old kid using Windows 98 at school. I'd already been in industry for over a decade before Windows 98 became a thing. When I was at school it was all BBC Model Bs"

        When I was at school, you had to demonstrate a certain level of proficiency before you were allowed to have upgraded hardware.

        Because my handwriting was poor, it was quite a while before I was allowed to upgrade from a fountain pen to a ballpoint.

        (True story.)

        1. akeane

          Re: Windows 98

          >Because my handwriting was poor, it was quite a while before I was allowed to upgrade from a fountain pen to a ballpoint.

          You were lucky!

          I had to scrape on the cave wall with my fingernails until the neolithic renditions of buffalo merited getting me very own rock...

          1. knottedhandkerchief
            Facepalm

            Re: Windows 98

            We had a computer science module on my uni course, and I politely suggested he open an 8" floppy disk himself to see. He had just told us it contained a square of magnetic film. That was late 70s. Feeling old?

        2. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: Fountain Pen

          At St John Backsides Comprehensive you had to pass a handwriting test *before* you could switch from pencil to fountain pen.

          Ballpoints were forbidden under pain of detention.

        3. Kiwi

          Re: Windows 98

          When I was at school, you had to demonstrate a certain level of proficiency before you were allowed to have upgraded hardware.

          Because my handwriting was poor, it was quite a while before I was allowed to upgrade from a fountain pen to a ballpoint.

          NZ School system, circa 1980? Was about then I eventually got the same upgrade, last in my class I think. My handwriting hasn't changed much since then either!

    5. Chris Hexter

      Compression

      My first computer came with a doublespace-compressed drive (unknown to me as a naive 15yr old), complete with DOS 6.22 & WFW 3.11 + Office. One day after saving my pocket money, I returned home with a boxed copy of Ultimate Doom, and couldn't wait to play it. I think it needed 15mb or so disk space, and my machine proclaimed that I had 25mb free space on my 250mb drive.

      Lo, Doom would not install, complaining about lack of disk space. I set about making a boot disk, and on firing the machine up with it, found a huge file called drvspace.bin or something similar, that was 115mb.

      Feeling proud of myself, I deleted the file, installed Doom, and played away.

      The next morning, switching on the machine to discover "Non-system disk or disk error" still haunts me to this day :-)

    6. User McUser
      Unhappy

      I remember the time when I was 10 years old and I discovered compression on Windows 98

      Thanks for making me feel old!

      When *I* was 10, I was crushed to discover that the BASIC program I had written at home on our brand new Commodore 64 and saved to a 5.25" floppy was not readable on the school Computer Club's Apple IIe.

  10. frank ly Silver badge

    Don't you believe in us Simon?

    "This is The Register so we'll assume you know that FAT is ..."

    But you explained it to us anyway. :(

  11. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

    FAT is still used widely

    Only not very often for main storage (except for that one secretary who insist on using her 32 Gb USB key as her main storage. She'll realize the errors of her ways when it fails, of course, but it will be too late...)

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: FAT is still used widely

      Reformat it for her as FAT12...

      although since, I think, that was limited to 8Mb, you might have to divide her USB key into 4096 partitions.

      1. hmv

        Re: FAT is still used widely

        Someone (okay, me) tried that ... for 100 partitions (https://really.zonky.org/?p=3075). Surprisingly amusing for rather odd values of amusing (although Windows was less so as it nearly silently ignores most of the partitions).

    2. Pkl2015

      Re: FAT is still used widely

      She will learn the error of her ways but will still find a way to blame you :-)

    3. Lusty Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: FAT is still used widely

      "32 Gb USB key"

      These days we generally call that a 4GB USB key. Very few people measire in bits...

      1. the spectacularly refined chap

        Re: FAT is still used widely

        "32 Gb USB key"

        These days we generally call that a 4GB USB key. Very few people measire in bits...

        Apart from the entire comms industry. With all these mock stories of paper tape and 8" floppies it's easy to forget that the real mark of a noob is to assume that a byte must somehow invariably be eight bits long.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: FAT is still used widely

          Since i introduced our staff to recuva they see recuva as a valid way of using usb pens....

        2. Lusty Silver badge

          Re: FAT is still used widely

          "real mark of a noob is to assume that a byte must somehow invariably be eight bits"

          Keep up grandad, eight bit bytes have been a rattified international standard for decades!

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: FAT is still used widely

            The 8-bit byte is only a defacto standard, do try to read for content. See: ISO/IEC 2382:2015

            You say "Grandad" like it's an insult. I feel sorry for you.

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good luck explaining the latest Microsoft acronyms...

    "Microsoft's Windows 10 F' C U NT S due this November, the S 'Terry's Soul- from the heart' version is optional, allowing you to get a free upgrade to Windows 10 F' C U NT for a limited time"

    (Fall' Creators Update New Technology 'Soul' Edition)

    Microsoft Marketing is useless, we all know that, but with all the abuse they get - there is no need for subliminal messages back.

    There's even an Insiders Edition...

    1. bluesxman

      Re: Good luck explaining the latest Microsoft acronyms...

      There's such a thing as trying too hard.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good luck explaining the latest Microsoft acronyms...

        Well you're the ones coming up with the stupid FCU.. names, what was wrong with Win10 SP1, SP2, SP3, which is so much easier to explain to a user/ask a user, the version they are running.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I do remember working with someone who was convinced that the more files, emails etc he got on his laptop the heavier it got. This was a Networks engineer.

    Had to have a chuckle at that one

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Dilbert's PHB, shurely?

      Not the originator I guess but surely one of the main sources that popularised the "heavy files" thing?

      1. Afernie

        Re: Dilbert's PHB, shurely?

        "Not the originator I guess but surely one of the main sources that popularised the "heavy files" thing?"

        My favourite Dibert strip in that vein remains the one where he has the PHB crawling around on his hands and knees in his office all afternoon looking for the token that fell out of the token ring network...

        1. David Woodhead

          Re: Dilbert's PHB, shurely?

          Back when token ring first came in, our company unfortunately decided to standardize on it before the many bugs had been worked out of it. Most of the time it simply didn't work.

          We got round this by having a 1.44Mb floppy with 'TOKEN' written on it in large letters, and skimming it around the office to whoever needed it. Not the fastest transfer protocol, but a lot quicker than waiting for the network to come up.

    2. chivo243 Silver badge
      Angel

      We used to joke about how much our data weighed (do 1s weigh more than 0s?), and if more data on a system made it heavier.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I used to send back laptops back from repair *lighter* than they came in.

    Mainly due to the detritus emptied out from under the keyboard, inside the fan, between the touchpad buttons.... in fact, every slot, gap or crevice in the casing would often be rammed with crumbs, dead skin, flakes of pastry, small dead insects (or sometimes, large live insects) which quite frankly made a bloody mess of my work area and made me wonder about the state of the customer's house - bearing in mind this was the early 2000s so a mid-spec laptop was still the best part of £600+

    Two notable points from that. I once had a recurring customer who every few weeks would get a no-power fault on his Sony FX series laptop. The first couple of times I semi stripped it, powered it up and it worked fine. Put it back together, still working. Returned it only to see it again some time later with the same fault.

    Eventually worked out that the plunger under the touchpad, which turned the power off when the lid was closed and the latch went through a hole, was jammed down with biscuit crumbs. Taking it apart dislodged the crumbs, until next time a mid morning snack was scoffed over the laptop and more crumbs fell down the hole and were compacted into place when the lid was shut. The first "cookie error" experienced, most likely.

    Another colleague had a new one torn for simply writing on a job sheet "keyboard fault due to food debris. Suggest user buys a plate"

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      "I used to send back laptops back from repair *lighter* than they came in.

      You're Simon and I claim my 5 quids.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "made me wonder about the state of the customer's house"

      I was once sent to an off-site workers house to upgrade his VPN and AV stuff (remote access not allowed, his own kit and anyway remote access was still a new thing). Took one look at it and said I needed more stuff from the car. Said "stuff" being a clean keyboard not gone brown/grey with tab ash and sticky nicotine which I was afraid to touch without a full biohazard suit!

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Pah! lightweights!

        You've seen nothing if you've not been a 1960s TV service engineer doing (typically) 14 house calls a day. You can't un-see what I've seen, nor un-smell what I smelt.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Pah! lightweights!

          Its the burns on your arms that show ypuve serviced old kit. Never underestimate the number of hot things in old kit.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This remember me about a semi bean counter type. asking my boss about using a thin client system for the Crayon/design/small volume press (i don’t know the correct translation) department.

  17. Stratman

    Never pass up an opportunity to link

    Dilbert

  18. Nicholas Nada
    Facepalm

    ...

    I once asked a user to right-click on the desktop and they moved their mouse off the mousemat.

  19. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    PCMCIA

    People Can't Memorise Computer Industry Acronyms

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: PCMCIA

      Is that the device interconnect system that the US intelligence agency uses when they want to monitor your computer?

  20. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Novell Netware 2.2 and its 256Mb volumes...

    Lovely stuff, especially if you need to have more than 256Mb of disk space...

  21. terven

    The Users Are Nuts

    Once had a call passed from the Help-Desk concerning a "Squirrel" error. I thought about contacting Rentakill or the local council's Parks Department, but passed the call instead to the DBAs.

    Had another call about a "Norton 12" error on one of our servers. Knowing their software hadn't been ported to AIX, I decided to contact the user. The actual issue was a "nought and 12" error message, but said with a very broad Black Country accent.

  22. W4YBO

    RF connectors

    BNC - Baby N connector

    TNC - Tiny N connector

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: RF connectors

      In these days of miniaturisation I'm surprised we don't have

      SNC - sperm NC

      to mate with

      ONC - ovum NC

  23. Bruce Ordway

    IHTFP

    IHTFP with alternate meanings at my old workplace.

    To your co-workers:....................... I hate this f***ing place

    But if your manager ever asked:..... I have truly found peace

    1. jtaylor

      Re: IHTFP

      Haha!

      I once wrote IHTFP on the whiteboard before a dreaded project meeting. This was far away from MIT (in every sense) so I got away with it.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: IHTFP

        At least you didn't write using a "permanent" marker on the board. I knew a guy who did this and then had the balls to admit he did it. Downside... he was escorted to the door very quickly and the company docked the price of a new white board from his final check.

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: IHTFP

          Permanent marker on whiteboards: write over it with non permanent marker, rub both off with wiper.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: IHTFP

            Depends on the solvent used in the erasable version.

  24. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

    I had one regular customer who used to call up for tech support when she had problems, in a series of memorable calls she complained about her hymen .sys being broken.

  25. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "GROSS"

    There's a scale in the Shipping department at work. I sometimes stand on it to check my weight. When I do, after it displays my weight, a little LED lights up. It's marked "GROSS".

    Very rude.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: "GROSS"

      There is an easy fix for that, obviously:

      Next time, stand on the scale naked.

  26. chulerico

    oh the stories

    I have a few

    One of our technicians, was told by his Mom that when ever he wants to visit her, he must always wash his hands before coming over because she doesn't want to be infected with the Virus that he works with..

    Another staff, was working in the computer lab with a sensitive document, Calls support in panic and states that the document was appearing on all the computers, when a tech arrived, they kindly pointed out that staff confused the excel shortcut with the sensitive document...

    Another staff, calls support complaining that the icons get large and that she cannot scroll up and down on websites, when told to test Ctrl + mouse scroll, there is silent and states that everything is fine now, it turns out there was a pilled of papers on the desk and it was covering Ctrl key...

    A friend call support because her computer wasn't working, tech support tell my friend to make sure the computer its plug in, my friend checks that the computer is power is plug in and that the power cable in plug in to the wall, after a bit more troubleshooting, the tech tells my friend to replace the power cable at the point my friend notices that the power cable was crewed in the middle by her dog...

  27. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Sometimes acronyms are the only effective way to communicate...

    Got a crate sent to me from overseas, stenciled on the side: WTF? POS NFG!!!

    Sent the following email to shipping manager:

    WTF?

    Got back:

    LOL! CYA ASAP.

  28. apepper

    Spookily, I've just heard on the Vote Now Show that 51% of people think that cloud computing is affected by the weather.

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