back to article BOFH: That's right. Turn it off. Turn it on

"I wasn't built for user support, I know that now," I sigh. "I know," the PFY replies, without looking up from his game. "At one time I thought I could do it but now I know I'm asking too much of myself. I don't like lazy people, stupid people or whiny people." "I know." "I can't stand tinkerers, tweakers, or people who …

  1. Daniel Gould

    The power of suggestion

    It's amazing and so close to the truth!

    1. Jad

      Re: The power of suggestion

      my life in a webpage ...

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: The power of suggestion

      ".. so close to the truth!"

      Um, that IS the truth. This is pretty much the rulebook that government IT use .. which is then passed on to ServiceNow for (in)action.

      IIRC one of the more recent successes was. "When entering your Government ID please do not enter the hyphen character, the system will take of that for you"

      Most common responses:

      Is a minus sign or a dash or the small line between 9 and equals like a hyphen?

      I could not find a hyphen key, so I entered a space and now it says I failed to provide my correct ID.

      My favourite: "How can I trust the system to enter it for me and why can I not enter it myself?"

      1. DougMac

        Re: The power of suggestion

        Heaven help you if you have to teach a user how to type a tilde ~

        Nobody knows what that is, while - has some passing familiarity.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: The power of suggestion

          I'm gonna start putting backspaces into passwords to see if any of the users clock on.

          "yes sir , your new password is P W D backspace 1 2 3 backspace num-lock"

          1. macjules Silver badge

            Re: The power of suggestion

            "yes sir , your new password is P W D backspace 1 2 3 backspace num-lock"

            Better than that: Use a really crap font for the password, like Monaco, and then use commonly 'mistakable' characters for the password and wait for the irate phone calls ..

            "I can't log in, I can't tell if the bloody password starts with a "1" or with an "l" because you sent me the email in some weird font, and is that a zero or an O?"

            (puts phone on mute and ROFLMAO)

            (picks up phone again)

            "Did you restart the computer before entering the new password, Sir?"

          2. ian 22

            Re: The power of suggestion

            In the (very) early days of the intertubes, one experimental implementation of password management *did* allow backspace as a character. Caused no end of problems.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The power of suggestion

          Tilde ... yeah, it's above the pound-sign.

          So. er - F3, right?

          1. Paul 181

            Re: The power of suggestion

            I know where the key is approximately

          2. skeptical i
            Devil

            Re: The power of suggestion

            Pound sign as in British currency symbol?

            Or as in octothorpe?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        do not enter the hypen!

        IIRC one of the more recent successes was. "When entering your Government ID please do not enter the hyphen character, the system will take of that for you"

        That really grinds my gears , the DVLA website does that as well - "Please enter your lengthy document id without the spaces"

        TAKE YOUR OWN FUCKING SPACES OUT YOU DICKS. Its not hard if the input received from the user has spaces in it remove them . the code is almost in english

        REPLACE ( string_expression , string_pattern , string_replacement )

        REPLACE (documentID,' ' ,'')

        To think some web dev , who gets paid more than me didnt think of that - thought h'd just write it on the page and hope the user can do it for him. And then some project manager (whose definitely getting paid much more than me thought it was fine) , and then a bunch of testers approvers , senior managers all thought "oh yeah , the best way to remove spaces from an ID is to ask the user to do it" , before putting that on a national fucking website that everone in the country can see.

        there u go free tip for u DVLA . you're welcome.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: do not enter the hypen!

          TAKE YOUR OWN FUCKING SPACES OUT YOU DICKS. Its not hard if the input received from the user has spaces in it remove them . the code is almost in english

          Also applies to places where users have to enter credit card numbers.

          Which ones? EVERY SINGLE ONE. No, really, check it out. The simplest bit of usability and it has *never* been done.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: do not enter the hypen!

            Some do! On a contract several years ago the business analyst thought my suggestion and implementation for entering credit cards numbers was great (it also made me memorise my 16 digit card number, which sadly the bank has changed twice in the past 18 months, so now I have to pull out my wallet or epassword safe to enter it). Sadly 11th September happened and the airline went under :-( and so did my code). I've seen a few websites since that do a similar thing, but they are few and far between. Ce la vie!

        2. G.Y.

          195X Re: do not enter the hypen!

          Fortran 1 could do it back in 195X

        3. vogon00

          Re: do not enter the hypen!

          Many more upvotes required for the post above....this is typical of the slack bast***s who 'do coding' these days. Sanitising/tidying/correcting user input into a useable form is the *first thing* you do! Saves loads of hassle later on...

          1. CentralCoasty

            Re: do not enter the hypen!

            Having spent the last 25+ years working with outsourced developers it is that whilst they may be technically smart (an assumption not a proven fact!), they are required by THEIR management to follow the specifications given to the letter... no original thought allowed, no deviation, no corrections.

            So what we end up with is normally EXACTLY what was asked for irrespective of how stupid it is.

            PM's can sign off because its what was asked for. Subbies get paid because it was what was asked for. Management smile because the project delivered what was asked for. User's cry because the solution is so bloody stupid and cumbersome and bemoan that IT didnt fix it because it was "obvious" what they really meant......

            Most satisfying program I delivered was where I had the business users sitting with the developers and literally going "ah no.. I mean.. blah, blah, blah" and the coder being able to change it there and then....

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: do not enter the hypen!

              > business users sitting with the developers and literally going "ah no.. I mean.. blah, blah, blah"

              But that's not what you wrote in the legally binding contract.

              No problem. There will be a small extra charge per off-contract change with a minimum fee of £250k

            2. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: do not enter the hypen!

              The most important words should be; "What I need to be able to do is....... because then I can........". said by frontline staff ( users) to IT staff (developers)

              Sadly the people who need to be heard saying those words often hear someone saying "What we've done is make it possible for you to do <insert something complicated and unwanted>." to them.

              My impression is that this comes from a lethal mixture of developers (because they can and it's whizzy) and remote managers ( because they're clueless but it sounds whizzy).

        4. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: do not enter the hypen!

          The reason for that is that credit card fields have EXACTLY 16 spaces in them. Not 15 nor 17. And there's no slack because SOMEONE will use all 17 spaces by mistake (double strike) AND swear up and down they only entered 16 numbers to the point they only count 16 when directly asked to do so.

          Sometimes, you just can't fix stupid.

          1. My Coat

            Re: Hunt to blame for NHS attack

            But surely you can check it's 16 characters after removing the spaces?

          2. Stuart Moore

            Re: do not enter the hypen!

            Credit card numbers are up to 19 digits, although I'll admit that most uk ones are 16

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Payment_card_number

            1. -tim
              Facepalm

              Re: do not enter the hypen!

              Not only are card number 19 digits, the MOD-10 check works with letters (in EBCDIC). While the CVC happens to be 3 or 4 digits now, there isn't anything keeping letters from appearing in the field either. Expire dates aren't quite what they appear as well.

              We found that allowing spaces in card numbers reduces our change backs as people make fewer mistakes. The worst are the silly Javascript things that screw with the browser filling in the card numbers since they will do funny things and increase mistakes in non-obvious ways.

          3. Dagg
            Big Brother

            Re: do not enter the hypen!

            >Sometimes, you just can't fix stupid.

            Yes you can see if you can get them to become a candidate for a Darwin Award

          4. roytrubshaw
            FAIL

            Re: do not enter the hypen!

            "The reason for that is that credit card fields have EXACTLY 16 spaces in them.

            ...

            Sometimes, you just can't fix stupid."

            <pedant>

            Nor, apparently, can you fix ignorance.

            American Express card numbers have 15 digits (4 + 6 + 5), and --- several years after they introduced the 3-digit security CSC (like all the other credit/debit cards) --- I can't find a single payment service (Sage, Worldpay, any of the banks) that will allow you to specify it (the 3-digit CSC) rather than the 4-digit number that is printed on the face of the Amex Card.

            Sigh!

            </pedant>

            In 1986 I wrote a credit card acceptance function for MUD II that stripped out the spaces and --- in every card acceptance page I have authored since then --- that continues to be the case; it seems I'm in a minority of one.

          5. why you delete my account?

            Re: do not enter the hypen!

            > credit card fields have EXACTLY 16 spaces in them. Not 15 nor 17.

            AMEX card numbers (for just one example) are 15 digits. Not exactly 16...

            If only someone (like ISO) had created a standard for card numbers so people didn't have to make up the spec and get it wrong every time.

            > Sometimes, you just can't fix stupid.

            Sometimes you can fix "didn't bother to read the standards", but mostly it just comes under stupid.

            1. AndyD 8-)&#8377;

              Re: do not enter the hypen!

              "AMEX card numbers (for just one example) are 15 digits. Not exactly 16..."

              ah! so that's why most sites don't accept Amex

        5. The Grifter

          Re: do not enter the hypen!

          The reason DVLA and others (eg Debit/Credit card numbers) are in 3/4 number bunches delineated with spaces is because most people don't cope well with long strings of numeric characters.

          Personally I'm fine with numbers ...

          ... but that's probably down to autism.

    3. Andrew Moore Silver badge

      Re: The power of suggestion

      "Oh we make them all the time," the PFY replies. "We just don't tell anyone."

      I've been operating this way for a fair few years now. Now things go:

      User: "Oh, there's been a change to blah-blah-blah."

      Me: "Yes, two years ago..."

    4. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Daniel Gould Re: The power of suggestion

      "It's amazing and so close to the truth!" And very dangerous to demonstrate! A friend did something similar - a fake change warning - and ended up having to go to management to ask for overtime money for his help desk team. During that meeting he had to field questions from a senior manager over how to back out the non-existent change. It turned out senior management were just as prone to falling for the hoax as ordinary lusers, only they had the scary power to end your career if they ever found out!

      1. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

        Re: Daniel Gould The power of suggestion

        "A friend did something similar - a fake change warning"

        Your friend should have lost his job for that. As soon as IT breaks trust with the users (for real, not the way the users always complain about) they become a liability in the company instead of an asset.

        The next change comes up, and it's an important one, say to patch against the latest Ransomware, and everyone just remembers the hoax and doesn't pay attention. The joke just caused a major disruption to the function of the business, one that it may never recovery from.

    5. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: The power of suggestion

      I am reminded of an acquaintance's experience on the IT support staff of a major regional US law firm.

      Unless they were terminally bored, unlikely in a firm with over 400 lawyers, their standard instructions to callers were to defrag and reboot. Occasionally it fixed a problem, but in all cases it put the caller off for half an hour or so.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The power of suggestion

        their standard instructions to callers were to defrag and reboot. Occasionally it fixed a problem, but in all cases it put the caller off for half an hour or so.

        Dammit, I knew there was one thing we missed when switching to Macs :).

      2. Mpeler
        Holmes

        Re: The power of suggestion defragged

        "their standard instructions to callers were to defrag and reboot"
        Would be interesting if they rebooted in the middle of the defrag.....

        1. BlackKnight(markb)

          Re: The power of suggestion defragged

          woud justify headphones and an "urgent" job for the next 3 hours.

  2. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Thnak you, thank you, thank you!

    I will be using this as a training aid the next time a new manager is rotated through the department.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Thnak you, thank you, thank you!

      the next time a new manager is rotated through the department.

      That's the spirit. Don't forget to line the inside of the barrel with a piece of carpet, so that he's already fully wrapped up when you're done rotating.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Thnak you, thank you, thank you!

      Don't forget to show them the halon closet as well.

  3. hplasm Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    And so-

    BOFH reaches perfection!!

    1. Mark 110 Silver badge

      Re: And so-

      I thought perfection was a couple of episodes ago but I am currently getting funny looks off colleagues cos I am sat here grinning for no apparent reason :-D

  4. Henry Minute

    Hello. Is that the help desk?

    I think I need a new monitor. All my colours have gone funny.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Hello. Is that the help desk?

      Stop watching those "speciality videos" then, it does your eyes in! Eventually. After the wrist RSI has gone.

    2. thosrtanner
      Holmes

      Re: Hello. Is that the help desk?

      You should have learnt by now not to drink coffee whilst reading BOFH

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OK I admit it...

    ...I write those stories under a pseudonym.

    I truly have had cases like this.

    Just a few months ago, we sent out an email about a change happening over night, but due to 3rd party issues, we aborted it and never even logged in.

    I had 6 calls the next day saying the change had altered their set up.

    Sigh..

  6. Admiral Grace Hopper

    Never get out of the boat.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Flame

      Are you suggesting the use of napalm on the more annoying users?

      I'm sure HR will have something to say about that. Unless you call in an airstrike on them first I suppose...

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        I'm sure HR will have something to say about that.

        Remember children, HR exists to protect the company from the workforce.

        Unless you call in an airstrike on them first I suppose...

        Wouldn't work. I suspect even a thermonuclear strike (of sufficient megatonnage so as to vapourise half the planet) wouldn't work unless put in place by Senior Management.

        Who would then be sent for mandatory Sensitivity Training as run by the most psycopathic person in HR.

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

          I did ask if I could get a captive bolt gun on expenses but was told no, no matter how much I explained that it was more humane.

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            I did ask if I could get a captive bolt gun on expenses but was told no, no matter how much I explained that it was more humane.

            To hell with humane. Bring back the guillotine on the public square so the rest get the idea that idiocy will not be tolerated. Then again, from what I've seen, there's not enough guillotines.... <sigh>

          2. Lord_Beavis
            Childcatcher

            @Aladdin Sane

            Gonna have to ask that on the next department conference call. We're getting ready to do an aggressive migration from McAfee EMM to Intune and their are some that would just be better off that way...

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Napalm requires signoffs.

        Lusers like this deserve P45s.

        Perhaps this kind of tactic can be used to sort out who's for the chop in the next round of redundancies.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Never get out of the boat."

      That's easy for an admiral to say.

  7. phuzz Silver badge
    Facepalm

    You think normal users are bad when it comes to colours? Try a bunch of graphic designers who all insist that they need, nae, deserve calibrated monitors (which just so happen to be slightly larger than the last person's new monitor), and who then proceed to do most of their work on their iPad, in bright sunlight..

    Actually, I've literally just received an email from a user about a fix I made saying: "it's not made it any worse but not better"*. That pretty much sums them all up really doesn't it?

    *(The user then goes on to say that the thing which was broken is now working, but apparently that doesn't count as 'better')

    1. Franco Silver badge

      This sounds like a job for the BOFH, after all it's been a while since he's had a run-in with the coloured pencil department.

    2. FeRDNYC

      qq{Actually, I've literally just received an email from a user about a fix I made saying: "it's not made it any worse but not better"*. That pretty much sums them all up really doesn't it?

      *(The user then goes on to say that the thing which was broken is now working, but apparently that doesn't count as 'better')}

      Well, obviously. If it's just back to the way it was before, how is that better? You can't make something "better" simply by fixing it, there needs to be real improvement. Words have meanings, you know!

      When the user's been so inconvenienced that they're forced to interact with support, you need to throw in a quick spritz of armadillo repellent or a peril-sensitive undercoating, something that adds real value! That's how you placate them. They just want to feel special. /s

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Without going into details, they had a thing which worked, then they moved their office around and it stopped working 90% of the time. Several months later it was mentioned to me and I raised a ticket and made a fix. I think they're back to 100% now, but the email is a little vague.

        Alas, the idea that nobody bothered to tell me about the problem for months doesn't surprise me at all these days.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Devil

        But surely all the PCs are already fitted with armadillo repellent. After all, I don't see any armadillos round here.

        I want a proper upgrade!

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
          Coat

          "I want a proper upgrade!"

          I read that as 'a propeller upgrade' and thought to myself 'that'll never take off!'

      3. TeeCee Gold badge

        I'd go with Pterodactyl repellent, to prevent some smart-arsed luser from ${place_where_armadillos_come_from} raising a ticket.

    3. Rabbit80

      A few years back I worked for a photocopier dealer going out, installing the machines etc. We had one picky customer who kept calling and complaining the output of the copier (which was properly calibrated) never matched the colours on their screens. Every single screen in the place was neither calibrated nor the same as the screen of the person next to them but they refused to accept that it was the screens that were wrong! Somehow they thought the copier should be calibrated to each screen individually!

      1. Emjay111

        Those colours don't look right to me!

        I can relate to Rabbit80 's experiences - to the letter.

        Same role for myself some years back. One of our customers was a graphics design company, entirely Mac based of course, who insisted that they worked in a "managed colour space environment".

        Spent many a visit calibrating the printer correctly (EFI Fiery controller) to try and match their non-calibrated displays. Waste of time really, but their Head of IT made the visit bearable (a good looking lass indeed). :-)

        One place that colour matched workspaces is popular is environment consultants who work on wind generation projects. Often they have to produce impact visualisations for planning approval, so the images they generate (of a load of turbines in the distance, for example) has to accurately match what their client was hoping to build.

      2. Toc-H-Lamp

        I worked in support for a large copier sales / support company many years ago. A year or so after we launched our first analogue colour copier I took a call from someone at the national forensics laboratory asking how a counterfeit could be detected if it had been made on any of our devices. I replied, in all honesty, that it wouldn't look anything like the original and would be dripping in silicon oil. He seemed quite happy with this response and and far as I am aware it was never tested in court.

    4. Dave Bell

      Over the years, I have seen a lot of art that only looks good on a badly adjusted monitor. Most people can't even get brightness and contract right, though you may have trouble getting the full range.

      I used to do this with chemical photography, and printing an image has all the same problems. You cannot get anything whiter than the paper. The BOFH obviously knows this. 8 bits on the data, and 6 useful bits from the monitor.

      Those high range images do have some use, but most of the detail will get thrown away at the end. And not even Ansel Adams could give 8 stops brightness range. (Different jargon, 1 stop difference is a factor of two, 1 bit.)

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "8 bits on the data, and 6 useful bits from the monitor."

        You'd be surprised what you had stash in those 2 bits.

        Take a look in the 1990s-era Usenet postings of Claudia Schiffer gifs sometime.

    5. Bullseyed

      > who then proceed to do most of their work on their iPad, in bright sunlight..

      Well, most people consuming their content will probably be in a similar scenario, so it may make sense to test that way...

      Shouldn't they be using color codes rather than eyeballing it anyway?

      1. wayne 8

        Eyeballing is Art.

        Eyeballing is Art.

        Digital is Code.

    6. Dagg

      >> Try a bunch of graphic designers who all insist that they need, nae, deserve calibrated monitors

      Worked with one like that loved pastel shades. Totally useless in the real world of 'standard' cheap monitors where 3 shades of light pastel pink all looked the same. And we also had problems with colour blindness.

  8. chivo243 Silver badge
    Windows

    Ahh, My good friend

    The placebo effect! Awesome. I've *cough* used that one a couple times...

  9. Chronos Silver badge

    Scarily realistic.

  10. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    "You did all that with an email," the Boss sighs. "I can't imagine what happens when you mean a real change."

    "Oh we make them all the time," the PFY replies. "We just don't tell anyone."

    Excellent, And scary.

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Not scary - true

      Best way to push through a change is to tell nobody. Unless there's going to be something obvious, and even then most of them will bloody miss it.

      The amount of work I do without advising users of a change... <sigh>

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Not scary - true

        Best way to push through a change is to tell nobody.

        Sadly, in our new caring, sharing, "responding in an agile fashion to business need" we have to tell people about all the changes - particularly if it's going to cause an outage[1].

        So we now have a procedure to put a recorded message on the service desk number to say something like "if you are phoning about the change announed on $DATE, please be aware that we are monitoring the systems and will alert you if there is any problems[2]".

        And also explain to people that us changing the backup regieme slightly does not mean that their PC will suddenly get really, really, slow.

        [1] Even if said outage is at 2am on a Sunday morning. As a not-24 hour business[3], I'd be very surprised if we had anyone awake then, let alone working.

        [2] But not in the ITIL sense.

        [3] Except batch processes. That we are aware of. There may be others scheduled by people who have mistakenly been given admin access to stuff more complicated than their tiny brains can cope with[4] but that's not our problem[2][5]

        [4] Like anything more complex than an abacus. Or a wheelbarrow.

        [5] Until said $LUSER screams to the decapitated domesticated fowls in senior management.

      2. Dave Bell

        Re: Not scary - true

        That's a perilous path. A bug fix, making something work as documented, is one thing. But if the fix is done by somebody who hasn't checked the documentation, and changes the name of some menu option on the way, is the sort of thing that turns a BOFH into a mere user.

      3. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Not scary - true

        As someone who likes to get things right where possible I'd imagine half the code I've written has been done in secret so it got done rather than whirling around in meetings. I even wrote about 10,000 lines of code in my own spare time to save my sanity as I knew this was the only way to get the job done. And then deleted the office copy. No one ever worked out how the fuck I achieved it even though I'd asked them to let me write if from the off. Laziness truly is the mother of invention.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reminds me of an energy management company I used to work for

    Installed a new system in an office block, replacing the thermostats they had for a computer controlled system with optimum start, stop, etc.

    Logging showed all was well, but customer said the staff were always either too hot or too cold and the thermostats would need to be put back so they could adjust the temperature.

    They were put back and everyone was happy.

    We never told them they weren't connected to anything...

    1. Andre 3
      Boffin

      Re: Reminds me of an energy management company I used to work for

      <thermostats .... were put back and everyone was happy.

      We never told them they weren't connected to anything...>

      This happens in 90% of all commercial offices - its there to make sure the users feel in charge while ensuring the system runs itself without morons changing it every 5 minutes. Bonus points to those installes who throw in the CxO A/C remote control that beeps and the wall panel with actual working numbers!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reminds me of an energy management company I used to work for

      "We never told them they weren't connected to anything"

      I was taught this lesson by someone back in the 1980s. It may have been at a tyre company near Bath, it may not.

      The foreman kept fiddling with one particular knob trying to speed up the process or slow it down (depending on proximity to overtime or fishing time.) It did not make a lot of difference but it was affecting product quality. Above the knob was a meter.

      So over a weekend the control behind the knob was carefully disconnected having been set to the correct position, and an electrical circuit attached to the knob which included a thermistor, a variable resistor, a small light bulb and a connection to the meter.

      The result was that the meter reading would gradually move up or down depending on temperature and how much the bulb had heated the thermistor. Thus the foreman was able to fiddle with his knob [ooh err miss] as much as he liked, but production continued on its smooth way.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: The foreman kept fiddling with one particular knob

        On company time no less.

      2. Ol'Peculier

        Re: Reminds me of an energy management company I used to work for

        "Above the knob was a meter."

        Yes, sounds like it...

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Reminds me of an energy management company I used to work for

          At CERN it is known as a [REDACTED] switch after a once young physicist who is now a very senior boss.

          "An input, generally a multi-turn vernier dial pot, not connected to anything which allows a senior physicist the feeling that they are doing something to adjust the experiment without the risk that they will actually change anything important"

      3. Kernel

        Re: Reminds me of an energy management company I used to work for

        '"We never told them they weren't connected to anything"

        I was taught this lesson by someone back in the 1980s. It may have been at a tyre company near Bath, it may not.'

        I think the principle goes back further than that - Sir Christopher Wren was more or less compelled to add additional supporting pillars to the Guildhall in London, at the insistence of some of the councilors.

        The additional pillars actually stop one inch short of the ceiling beams and are just there for decoration.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reminds me of an energy management company I used to work for

      There is a kind of person AC because married to one such who doesn't/can't understand that a thermostat is about the temperature reached, not the rate of cooling or where they've just come in from. i.e they feel too cold when they first get in the car or arrive in work on a winter's day so they turn the thermostat up. In effect, they think the thermostat is an output control. I suspect it's handed down through the generations, from days before thermostats when you had to turn the heating up if you were cold etc.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Reminds me of an energy management company I used to work for

        You want to try to trick the boiler?

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNqcuzUleNQ

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Reminds me of an energy management company I used to work for

        There is a kind of person AC because married to one such who doesn't/can't understand that a thermostat is about the temperature reached, not the rate of cooling or where they've just come in from

        Oh my God, don't get me started. There's so much ignorance on that topic that, unusually compared to my otherwise pretty laissez-fare approach to life I implemented two things:

        - at home, the thermostat is not to be touched. Don vests or undress or open windows as required, but the first person who isn't me touching that digital mechanism is in trouble.

        - anyone who does not reset the heating and ventilation controls in my car to where they were when returning the vehicle gets to hand in their keys. Once you understand the physics involved, car temperature and ventilation control is extremely easy (and mine is digital and actually rather good if just left to do its thing), but the number of people who just have the heating dialed up to eleven and then control vehicle temperature by constantly fiddling with the fan control is so large that I suspect we're genuinely dealing with a genetic defect in the population, and it drives me nuts when I see it (as I know from depressingly long experience that there is no educating those people - you can easily spot them when it rains because they're the ones with cloths in the car wiping the inside of an otherwise completely fogged up interior).

        Grrr.

  12. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

    "it doesn't work"

    Some pieces of my code appently stops working from time to time, but strangely enough, only when I'm not around. When I come around to check, everything is fine. but of course " Well it's working now, but I did the same a minute ago, and it wasn't working". Yeah sure, that's likely. PEBCAK, much?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: "it doesn't work"

      That's your basic IO error. Incompetent Operator.

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: "it doesn't work"

      I think you'll find this is a case of the machines knowing when a bofh-alon is around to kick the bejeezus out of their diodes if they play up. Happens to my wife all the time - she *hates* asking me for help on the computer because the moment I turn up it suddenly works again :)

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: "it doesn't work"

        the moment I turn up it suddenly works again

        Which is what led me to the Dark Side[1] of support lo, these many years ago.. I was spending more time fixing cow-orkers PCs than I was spending programming.

        Or as I sometimes say (usually within earshot of the developers) - "I used to be a programmer, but then I grew up and went into support"..

        [1] And no, cookies are very rare. And no funky working lightsabers. Sometimes, reality sucks.

        1. Captain DaFt

          Re: "it doesn't work"

          "And no funky working lightsabers. Sometimes, reality sucks."

          It's not an issued item.

          To become a full fledged Sith (or Jedi) you're supposed to build your own lightsaber from scratch.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "it doesn't work"

            To become a full fledged Sith (or Jedi) you're supposed to build your own lightsaber from scratch.

            .. using only items found in abandoned desks and the stationery cupboard.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "it doesn't work"

        Happens to my wife all the time - she *hates* asking me for help on the computer because the moment I turn up it suddenly works again :)

        Ah, you have one like that too (wife, I mean) :)

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: "it doesn't work"

      Well it's working now, but I did the same a minute ago, and it wasn't working

      Well - to be fair Windows is about as far as you can get from a deterministic system so it might be true..

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

        Re: "it doesn't work"

        "Well - to be fair Windows is about as far as you can get from a deterministic system so it might be true..."

        It's my code, it's simple, elegant and it comes with its own map and compass specifically featuring the users' ass and elbow just to be sure. It works. OK, it only happens with my Java code, perhaps if I complained less about Java being an unclean language the users might not assume that it must be broken somehow, but heh.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: "it doesn't work"

        We had a customer who complained that her main program kept disappearing down to a corner of the screen and she insisted we come out and fix it (which meant de-minimise the iconised program.)

        After several visits, she swore black and blue she wasn't minimising it and claimed our staff were somehow doing it remotely and no matter how many times we showed her how to minimise/unminimise the program, she insisted that she couldn't expand it once minimised. When we started charging for callouts, she rapidly decided to become an ex-customer (no big deal for us, she was one of the ones who cost far more than their income)

        Several years later, her husband admitted minimising the software when web browsing and hadn't said anything at the time because that would mean admitting to using "her" computer when she wasn't around (it was a family machine, apparently).

    4. Bullseyed

      Re: "it doesn't work"

      > only when I'm not around

      I joke about this all the time. Code gremlins is one of my favorite reasons.

      But I found a real example of this recently.

      I have some kind of messed up drivers on my laptop from an upgrade from Win8.1 to Win10, rather than a clean install. So when my laptop is plugged in to my monitor (or some tvs/projectors) it will fail to play any video file in any application. Otherwise, when unplugged, it runs just fine.

      So I couldn't play videos, but if I took it to IT, it would work just fine, I'd look dumb, and go back to my desk. Rinse, repeat. I never noticed the monitor variable for a month or so, just thinking it was "randomly" broken.

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: "it doesn't work"

        "I have some kind of messed up drivers on my laptop from an upgrade from Win8.1 to Win10, rather than a clean install. So when my laptop is plugged in to my monitor (or some tvs/projectors) it will fail to play any video file in any application. Otherwise, when unplugged, it runs just fine.

        So I couldn't play videos, but if I took it to IT, it would work just fine, I'd look dumb, and go back to my desk. Rinse, repeat. I never noticed the monitor variable for a month or so, just thinking it was "randomly" broken."

        Not even close. First, users don't send their failing kit to me, I go to their machines, no peripheral glitch can be implicated. Then, coding is not my primary role, so I find myself in a very comfy situation where I'm not under too much pressure to release code, so when I do release a tool, it's properly tested, comes with extensive documentation, and is reasonnably bug-free (yes, I know I'm lucky, don't be too jealous). Plus, I generally get to demonstrate (and sometimes install it myself). In fact, I've NEVER seen my code fail on ANY kind of setup to date (when used according to the bundled instructions). Which means that my tools generally perform as expected, except right before banking holidays for some reason. Right now is a bad period for me, for example. You could blame high temperatures for random glitches, but it also happens mid-December and to a lesser extent right before any kind of holiday.

    5. Marshalltown

      Re: "it doesn't work"

      We had an office manager whose machine really would go on the fritz for her. She was extremely Christian and the more difficult the machine became, the harder she had to work not utter basic Anglo Saxon descriptions of the machine's ancestral line. She would call me in, say "it's doing it again," which meant it was "not doing it again," what "it" was. I would sit down at her desk, move the mouse, and then tap a key, any key, and it would be perfectly fine. That would lead to the sound of teeth grinding behind me and occasionally sniffles linked to tears of frustration. I told her she had to be less impatient. The electrons didn't like being around upset people. Naturally that would drive her into a rage - sentient electrons?? Anyway, she quit when the world didn't end, divorced her husband and headed for the Caribbean.

  13. Meph

    This is right up there with the time we sent out a "do not reply to emails like this one" notification with an example phishing email in it.

    We received five replies in an hour from users who were sending us their login credentials, including the frequent flyer who triggered us to send the notification by having to have his password reset *AFTER RECEIVING THE VERY SAME PHISHING EMAIL USED AS THE EXAMPLE*

    1. Alistair Silver badge
      Windows

      Our security lot have stopped bothering with the "dont reply to these" emails and the "dont click on these" emails.

      They send their *OWN* phishing emails. You respond? you click?

      You get assigned a course. Mandatory.

      You drag it off to a mail to the security team to investigate - they send you back a neat little certificate.

      I've seen someone handed a package for not getting the course. Three times.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        @Alistair

        That's how it ought to be done. Hopefully compulsory up to and including CxO level.

        There's still the other side to deal with: how to stop marketing sending out emails which look exactly like phishing emails and thus training customers to be phished.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Which brings us to the next problem. What happens when the rubes happen to be on the board?

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          DrSyntax

          OH God yes! I've actually phoned my bank to complain about that stupidity.

          OTOH it sort of suggests that marketing and Phishing folk share a mindset, doesn't it.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "I've seen someone handed a package for not getting the course. Three times."

        Said package consisting of a trip to the front door accompanied by 2 guys from security, whilst carrying a small cardboard box of your personal belongings?

  14. James Dore

    That last line. Wisdom of the Buddha.

  15. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    “Because they're idiots, and the worst is yet to come.” Indeed it is, says I/US.

    But the coming will not be as expected and projected by the MSM Mogul Machine. The Changes will appear as if out of nowhere and be both practically and virtually untouchable.

    amanfromMars Jul 7, 2017 4:26 AM [1707070926] …… spilling the beans on http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-06/how-china-increasing-global-power

    But you and I can't play. We are being played. ...... LA_Goldbug

    Of course you can play, LA_Goldbug. The means for command and control of the memes are provided here before you and your fingertips.

    Wwwidely shared words are easily able to both either EMPower or destroy Worlds and Wannabe World Orderers. And such is the Absolute Truth which Systems Administration are terrorised by and terrified of becoming more General Mainstream Knowledge. But one cannot hold back the tides and flow of truths and information which deliver both novel future derivative paths for present placements of greater intelligence.

    :-) It is the Inescapable Disturbance in the Force which All Virtual Despots fear ........ for IT Robs Them Blind of Energy and Power.

    Deny it and disagree if you will, but you cannot change ITs Path.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: “Because they're idiots, and the worst is yet to come.” Indeed it is, says I/US.

      But you just know that they'll nuke the site from orbit the moment they feel they've actually lost.

      No-one wins the race to the bottom.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: “Because they're idiots, and the worst is yet to come.” Indeed it is, says I/US.

        No-one wins the race to the bottom.

        Except for evolution.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: “Because they're idiots, and the worst is yet to come.” Indeed it is, says I/US.

          Not even that. Eventually the bottom runs out of higher life forms from which to draw their sustenance. Not even sunlight is a given if a cosmic winter hits.

  16. FeRDNYC

    Thus is the great dilemma of IT support born

    If you make changes without informing the users beforehand, good lord how they'll scream and wail and cry when the changes take them by surprise, wholly unprepared to encounter something in their lives that's slightly different from how it was yesterday. "How very could you?" they'll wail, "And just when I had gotten used to the old way [that I spend the past five months loudly complaining about]!"

    But if you do notify them of changes being made, then... well, we saw here what happens, then. There's really no winning move, in this game. The only choice you get, is which way you'd prefer to lose.

    P.S> Here's a ponderable, heading into the weekend:

    Think Ars will ever add <blockquote> to the list of "basic HTML" supported by their ripped-from-the-1990s comment system? It'd be so nice to have properly-delimited indicators of quoted text, instead of having to play games with italics as most of us do. And if they don't ever add it, will I ever stop trying to use it every time I quote someone, just in case they've changed the system without telling us?

    1. FeRDNYC

      Re: Thus is the great dilemma of IT support born

      "Ars"? I don't even know where I am! (Hey, it's Friday. Morning! Early, here in the US.)

      I meant El Reg, of course. And I apologize to all the limey gits who make this site go, for confusing them with the effete Condé Nast toadies who roam Ars' virtual office halls!

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Thus is the great dilemma of IT support born

        "And I apologize to all the limey gits"

        Apology accepted, now find a decent pub that imports proper beer and have one -->

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Thus is the great dilemma of IT support born

      "just in case they've changed the system without telling us?"

      Hmm, sounds like the definition of insanity to me mate

    3. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Thus is the great dilemma of IT support born

      blockquote (no angle brackets included for parsing reasons, add to use) is available here in El Reg. However it's not available to all users. I'm sure there's some justification to excluding it for many commentards, I just can't think of it now...

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Thus is the great dilemma of IT support born

        blockquote works just fine

        but only if you are a bronze or higher badge commentard.

    4. handleoclast Silver badge

      Re: blockquote

      Think Ars will ever add...

      Nope. They never will.

  17. martino
    Facepalm

    A long long time ago...

    I was working on the helldesk. We had a user constantly complaining about the performance of her (admittedly rubbish) laptop. Said laptop was plugged into a CRT monitor. As part of an office wide upgrade, one weekend we swapped her monitor for a 14" flat screen.

    Cue an effusive email thanking us for upgrading her laptop - performance was "so much better". In fact we never had a complaint about the laptop again.

  18. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Happy

    Superb episode

    The only reason I didn't spit tea all over the keyboard is that I had just finished my cup (an important precaution whenever I read the latest BOFH episode)

  19. abedarts

    Not just IT support

    I had a complaint from some of the people in an office that it got too hot in summer and too cold in winter, so we got a builder in to fit some more insulation. I helped him a bit (ok, I watched) but it turned out to be much more difficult than we thought to get at the area concerned, so after a couple of hours of faffing about we gave up.

    The office users told me some time later that it was much better now!

  20. Alien8n Silver badge

    Some monitors are just weird

    As a photographer I'm acutely aware of the deficiencies in some monitors. The ones I use at work have an unusual issue, they look absolutely fine until you open an Excel spreadsheet. At which point you can't see any of the cell borders, the spreadsheet just looks like it's all been formatted with a white fill and white border. Move the spreadsheet back to the main laptop screen and hey presto, all back to normal.

    The fix was to fiddle with the brightness, contrast and colour settings manually, but even now there are subtle differences between each screen. Doesn't bother me enough to worry though, I'm not using the work laptop for my photography. For that I use the custom PC I built at home plugged into a 42" HD TV :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Some monitors are just weird

      Sorry, but are your monitor properly calibrated? Within the limitations of each monitor, you can bring them quite close to each other, with the proper tools and skills, although don't expect a high-end AdobeRGB monitor being fully matched by a low-end sRGB one.

      Usually, laptop monitors are the worst offenders because they lack proper controls for brightness, contrast and color temperature. High-end monitors with hardware calibration are the best.

      Usually most consumer monitors are set for very high brightness and contrast, and also an high color temperature. Bringing them to more sensible settings for photo editing (100-120 cd/m2, 5500/6500K, depending on ambient brightness and a few other factors) scares some people in the beginning, because the screen looks much more "dull".

      A 42" HD TV is the worst setup for photo editing. They are designed for video color spaces, a too low resolution, and brightness/contrast are probably wrong.

      Anyway, the cell border disappearing may be a color issue, or a dpi issue, depending on the monitor, the OS and the version of Excel used.

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Some monitors are just weird

      Not that I'm particularly familiar with the eccentricities of Excel & co., but are you sure the offending monitor is being used at its native resolution - at as many hardware pixels it actually has? Because in my experience anything else is just murder on any sort of fine detail such as thin lines...

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Some monitors are just weird

      Gamma settings. Honestly most new flat screens have bad gamma settings from the factory. Took me months to figure this out.

      No joke.

    4. Karlos Fandango

      Re: Some monitors are just weird

      Excel not displaying properly (to the point of being misleading), Google (other search engine are available) "disable excel graphics hardware acceleration".

      Get this a lot on all sorts of hardware (and Citrix).

  21. Baldrickk Silver badge

    Decent boss?

    "He's sick of users."

    "I... is that news?" he asks.

    Do they finally have a boss who gets them?

    1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

      Re: Decent boss?

      if he TRULY "gets" them then I wonder how long before it becomes necessary for them to "get" him...

      1. DropBear Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Decent boss?

        Not necessarily - if he's smart enough to not interfere, it could also be the beginning of a beautiful friendship...

  22. earl grey Silver badge
    Pint

    just in time for the weekend

    Have one (or more, as necessary).

  23. Chris Jasper

    So, so true

    Perfectly encapsulates the experience.

    Well done.

  24. Dan McIntyre

    So so true.

  25. Tim99 Silver badge
    Windows

    You could try this

    If a user reports any real or imaginary changes, I tell them that this is because Microsoft has just updated Windows 10, sometimes it's a good a reason as anything else, and it may be true. They are usually happy about it, or if they aren't I commiserate with them and tell them that there is nothing that we can do.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: You could try this

      And if it turns out he's on 7...or a non-Windows machine?

      1. plrndl

        And if it turns out he's on 7...or a non-Windows machine?

        That's no reason to not blame Microsoft.

      2. Tim99 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: You could try this

        @ Charles 9

        Most of the people that I deal with who use Windows 7 are retirees, like me. They stayed with 7 because they don't see a reason to change, or they have heard about Windows 10 and don't want the hassle. In both cases, after the "forced upgrades to 10" stories, they would probably accept that a Windows 10 upgrade could cause a problem on their machine too....

        If they are on a non-Windows machine, they don't have problems :-)

  26. dmacleo

    LOL this reminds me of when our company moved to an EDS managed system with a SPOC at site to fix (basically log issues and replace broke hardware) stuff.

    so I sent email to everyone saying in future (iirc was months away) saying when it happens you can't use work pc to do personal crap.

    withing seconds I got emails asking about reverting changes that had not yet been made so they could continue on as before.

    so I said sure to each person, as they emailed I replied ok your system should be fixed now. all replies said yes thank you.

    course when we actually did migrate a few programs required by law to work on aircraft did not work and eds and cio were total dicks about it. so I ended up showing how their idiocy grounded a few aircraft, built up few laptops with no network and made the skin mapping programs work.

    from one extreme to the other, unsecure systems to locked systems not allowing us to do jobs.

    oh well.

    got to tell vice president of major us airline his system was (this is direct quote) bullshit and whomever pushes it should be fined and lose their job.

    all on conference call with multiple bigwigs.

    and I was just a lowly mtx records clerk...I was pissed.

  27. Boris Winkle

    WORD!

    to your MAMA!

  28. ma1010 Silver badge
    Go

    "There are no problems, only users."

    A perfect mantra for an IT support professional. Should have it engraved on the door of the helldesk room.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: "There are no problems, only users."

      If you are sufficiently BOFH then, ultimately, there are no users

    2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: "There are no problems, only users."

      Design ECUs, then the users won't complain. Stop working, leak oil, overheat maybe, but they won't call a helpdesk.

      Ah the joys of embedded systems.

  29. Ian Emery Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    This reminds me of the time I switched the office coffee brand.

    For 6 months I was refilling the empty "Brand X" jar with "Brand Y", with nary a comment.

    Then one day I left the "Brand Y" jar in the kitchen.

    All hell broke loose.

    (If I said "Brand X" smelled and tasted like burnt cat piss, you would all recognise a description of Nescafe, wouldnt you??)

    Paris, she can always roast my beans.

    1. LaeMing Bronze badge
      Devil

      The best way to do that is to user lower and lower caffeine blends each time you refill until the office is running on pure decaf. Then late in the afternoon before you go on leave, refill with triple cappuccino.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Brilliant LaeMing. Brilliant.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Then there's change control idiocy...

    Up until about two months ago, I was certain to get whined at during our change control meetings when I needed to restart the email servers to make either small refinements, fix problems, or apply security patches. First it was 'why do you need to restart the servers?' (which had three+ months worth of OS updates that needed to be applied), then it was 'what is your backout plan' (for a system restart. SERIOUSLY.) and ending with 'well, how long will our users be down?' (the ~60 seconds or so that the client takes to reconnect to an active cluster node, which they would barely notice)

    EVERY. SINGLE. MONTH. And then people wonder why I have a huge amount of anxiety when I got into these meetings and am also super reluctant to put in any change request at all....

    (anon to protect my pay check; I'm not sure who else at my company reads this site...)

    1. PerspexAvenger

      Re: Then there's change control idiocy...

      I dunno, I'd definitely want a backout plan if I were bouncing a box after 3 months of updates with, one assumes, no test environment to make sure it's not going to wind up fuddocked when (if) it comes back...

      1. LaeMing Bronze badge

        Re: Then there's change control idiocy...

        The network team in my last place were down my team's throats for updating the default desktop image to the revised company logo without a CM meeting. A week later they upgraded a critical software stack without CM or any testing. No prizes for guessing what happened next. But I may award a prize for a guess at how long it took for them to fix!

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: Then there's change control idiocy...

          5 minutes after the ass reaming by the CIO and I claim my prize. :)

      2. CentralCoasty
        Devil

        Re: Then there's change control idiocy...

        Ah but....

        .... last IT change/outage caused the business headaches.....

        so....

        .... no more updates and the business is happy....

        ... until something dies/crashes/needs an emergency patch.....

        ... by then the system is so far behind in patching it needs months of testing.....

        ... which then causes the business headaches....

        so.......

        ... no more updates and the business is happy.....

        and on infinitum.....

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Then there's change control idiocy...

        Backout plan: It's a fucking cluster. If the updated node is fuddocked then you run on the other one(s) until you have the issue fixed. Once the updated node is working well, then and ONLY then do you update the other nodes with those adjustments taken into account.

        VS the BA method of Indian remote management updating all nodes and then rebooting the entire cluster on the busiest weekend of the year.

    2. Samoa Tech

      Re: Then there's change control idiocy...

      Yes breaking the status quo for the embedded( even a millisecond) can cause extreme anxiety, fear, insecurity e.t.c . IT (the unknown whatever to most) should flow on forever transparently.

      "just another box (with flashing lights;some times these are even noticed as well)"

    3. Down not across

      Re: Then there's change control idiocy...

      (anon to protect my pay check; I'm not sure who else at my company reads this site...)

      I think you should be safe. That probably applies to so many companies. Until the crayon departement has drank the kool-aid and everything is going "agile".

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Then there's change control idiocy...

      Sounds like out change control board.

      I was asked "Is there any risk? Can you guarantee the server will come back up afterwards?"

      My reply "Can you be 100% sure that you will get home from work tonight without being hit by a bus?"

      Cue long silence followed by a "Point taken" from one of the more senior members of the change control board

  31. Marshalltown

    Happily

    My time on Hell Desk was limited. My employer concluded I was missing a diplomatic gene. Apparently a fellow caught my muttered remark over the phone when I finally dragged out of him the real problem, which was that he really, really could not put his hand on something called a "mouse." I choked I think. He was dealing with his very first Windows machine. Then I muttered something about a "rat."

    1. James O'Shea Silver badge

      Re: Happily

      I once called a particularly noxious user a 'brain-damaged redneck'. he was very upset, and sent in a formal complaint to the head of systems... me. i'd been on hell desk because three of the guys were out sick (gee, I wonder whatever could have caused that...) and the brain-damaged redneck failed to take note of my name. The formal complaint had very little to do with what had actually happened; I only recognized the incident because _I_ had made a note of the brain-damaged redneck's name, and, besides, I had a recording. ("All calls may be recorded for training and monitoring purposes.') We made sure to record _all_ hell desk calls after one too many "who are you going to believe, me or some lowly IT monkey" incidents.

      When no action was taken, the brain-damaged redneck went to the extent of calling a formal meeting on the subject. i played the recording of our little talk, and put up his email complaining, and let the meeting compare them. The brain-damaged redneck no longer works at the company. Word got around that there was a new sheriff in town, and hell desk abuse incidents dropped markedly.

  32. Herby Silver badge

    Yes, users ARE fickle things...

    Two (personal) examples:

    One: Our company installed terminals in answering services (in the 80's), and in those places the operators smoked like chimneys. The CRT terminals would attract the smoke and slowly deposit a layer on the front of the screen. We would go to the customer site, and with Windex in hand clean all the terminal screens. Invariably this would elicit comments like "Gee, it works much better now.", without comment about the lack of crud on the screen.

    Two: Scene: A recording studio. One day a kid of one of the engineers is fooling around, and gets ahold of the Dymo labeler, and goes to town. He decides to label LOTS of things. At the time the TV show "Laugh-In" was on the air and one of its sayings was "Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls" (a dictionary). So he proceeds to label a few things (dumb controls that do nothing) as "Funk" and another as "Wagnalls". Fast forward to another day, and another client at the recording studio. Some "executive" is in the control booth and spots the "Funk" control and says "Can I control the funk with this", and the bewildered recording engineer says (knowing the control's history) "sure". End result, a very happy "executive".

    So, it happens ALL the time.

  33. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    time is an illusion (lunchtime, doubly so)

    Awkwardly seguing back to chromatic aberration (and relevance to the article, via gravity's rainbow, perhaps?) with

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11553099

    skip down to "cube illusion"

  34. plrndl
    Pint

    Best BOFH ever.

    Have a beer on me.

  35. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Told you what?" the Boss asks, drawn over by both the conversation and the opportunity to avoid doing anything fruitful for the next 1/2 hour.

    This sort of implies that at other times the Boss does do something fruitful. Who knew that?

  36. ecofeco Silver badge

    All too real

    All too bloody real.

  37. Samoa Tech

    Touche Simon! It is all about perception (whatever that is?)

    Chris ex pat from Wellington whom changed landscape to Samoa.

  38. Samoa Tech

    Users = Abusers

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have actually done this... When someone calls and complains about something inane, I often tell them I'm changing something then have them reboot.

    Works about 90% of the time. Hell, it even works with low level "IT" people a surprising amount of the time.

    I've also been known to announce maintenance operations 2 full days before I actually do them just so see whose gonna whine.

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