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

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

  1. eJ2095

    Like to play swap out

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

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

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

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

    its the illusion you have done something that pays off

    1. techdead
      Unhappy

      Re: Like to play swap out

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

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

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

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

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

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

          > Wasn't that Twain ...

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

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

          1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

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

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

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

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Like to play swap out

      I do similar here.

      I call it the "placebo swap out"

    3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Like to play swap out

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

      1. Andy Taylor

        Re: Like to play swap out

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

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

      2. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

        Re: Like to play swap out

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

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

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

        1. annodomini2

          Re: Like to play swap out

          @Wensleydale Cheese,

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

  2. DJ Smiley

    A couch?!

    What kind of boss buys you a COUCH?!

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: A couch?!

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

    2. Olivier2553 Silver badge

      Re: A couch?!

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

      1. Ralph the Wonder Llama
        Joke

        "relaxed meetings"?

        Did each one come with a rolling mat?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A couch?!

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

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A couch?!

      Hopefully a hot blonde.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A couch?!

        Yes. Boris Johnson.

    5. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: A couch?!

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

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

    6. David Roberts Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: A couch?!

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

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: more relaxed meetings with the students.

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

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

        So all the doors were propped open with fire extinguishers

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

        Then they fitted glass panels to each door - frosted glass

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

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A couch?!

      Hopefully not used for casting.....

    8. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: A couch?!

      What kind of boss buys you a COUCH?!

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

      Mine's the one from Saville Row ->

      1. TRT Silver badge

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

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

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

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

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

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

          Anon Y. Mous.

      2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: A couch?!

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

        Mines the smoking jacket....

        1. Nolveys Silver badge

          Re: A couch?!

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

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

        2. Ivan Vorpatril

          Re: A couch?!

          Colonials prefer a davenport.

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: A couch?!

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

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

    9. macjules Silver badge

      Re: A couch?!

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

      1. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: A couch?!

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

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

      2. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge
        FAIL

        Hairdryers are NOT a good idea with airbeds

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

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

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

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

        1) the inlet bit of plastic on the airbed melted

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

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

        I did not sleep too well that night.

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What kind of boss buys you a COUCH?!

      The Sofa King Boss of course

      1. TRT Silver badge

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

        Sofa King generous!

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A couch?!

      What kind of boss buys you a COUCH?!

      Ummm - the kind that lets you have an office?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Read-ahead praise

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

    1. Robert Grant

      Re: Read-ahead praise

      Those people sound right behind!

  4. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Conflicted

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

  5. A K Stiles
    Angel

    Praise or accusations of work not done?

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

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

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

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

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

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

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

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

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

        1. Andrew Moore Silver badge

          Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

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

          1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
            Big Brother

            Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

            It's called the Hawthorne Effect.

            And remember, Big Brother is watching you...

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

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

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

              IBM problem (Idiot Behind Machine problem)

              POBCAK (Problem Occurs Between Chair And Keyboard)

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

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

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

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

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

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

                you forgot I D TEN T...

                ID10T error....

                1. brotherelf
                  Joke

                  Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

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

              3. This post has been deleted by its author

              4. The Central Scrutinizer

                Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

                The problem is the loose nut on the keyboard.

            2. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

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

              1. Olivier2553 Silver badge

                Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

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

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

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

              2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
                Thumb Up

                Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

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

                At various places with catering services I have noticed the following occurs when a new catering service comes in.

                1. There's a "test week" before the contract's signed, where the prospective caterer comes in and runs the facility. White hatted chefs, food's always hot, tasty and plentiful, and there are printed menus each day, many options, etc. You know, marketing.

                2. Contract signed and the white hatted chefs are gone, never to return. In their place is an hourly employee. Food is still good and hot, but perhaps not as many options to choose from. Still, you'd agree, good value for money.

                3. One month after contract signing (end of probationary period). Servers get surly, white aprons are now stained and torn, food is sometimes hot, and most if not all of the desirable options have disappeared, leaving you with the daily choice of dried out fish in a solution of watery breadcrumbs, mystery meat in brown sauce, or wilted pre-packaged "salad". Also, the least objectionable choice is always gone by the time you get there. And that's on a *good* day.

                1. Paul

                  Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

                  years ago I was at Ionica in Cambridge and they built a staff canteen, and brought in a catering company (Compass, I think) and the food was indeed exceptional in the first three weeks whilst the staff were training up, and then as the senior chefs moved on leaving the work in the hands of junior/new staff, the food did indeed go downhill.

                2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

                  @ Antron Argaiv

                  This isn't limited to catering. Something similar is apt to happen with IT contracts via big consultancies.

                  Initial pitch: High powered, mega experienced consultants introduced to client management

                  Contract signed: Recent graduates & interns assigned to the job.

                3. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

                  Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

                  "3. One month after contract signing (end of probationary period). Servers get surly, white aprons are now stained and torn,...

                  4. Out of the blue, the servers are smart and pleasant. New dishes appear on the menu, the meat and fish are attractive, come with decent sauces, and the vegetables are crisp.

                  You just know that the contract is up for renewal.

                  5. Contract renewed and once the first bill has been paid, it's back to 3.

                4. Olivier2553 Silver badge

                  Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

                  In a previous life, I, as the chair of the user group, conducted the testing and change of the outsourcing company in charge of our canteen. For the whole year I was in the place afterward, they quality remained very comparable to what it had been at the opening.

                  Maybe because they knew the users were the one having the finale word in the decision of them getting and keeping the job (possibility of exclusion every six months if there were too many complains on the monthly meetings).

                  Believe me, the meetings were a charm, discussing ho we could organize some activities, world food day, etc. It was a change from the previous company where it was complaining after complaining and nothing change.

              3. PM from Hell

                Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

                The Hawthorne effect was described as part of a long running experiment performed in the 1930s.at the Chicago Electrical works. To precis it the company had severe productivity issues and sought help from the University of Chicago. A team of social scientists went in and found a physically unpleasant work environment. Over a period of time the made marginal improvements to lighting etc and found that the worker performance improved each time as did worker satisfaction. This was even true when some minor changes were made which degraded working conditions at the end of the experiment. In essence it demonstrated that worker performance improves when employees believe the company cares about them and bothers to seek their views. There are many accessible articles about the experiments on the web and I really recommend people read a few.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

            I prefer Computer User Not Technical.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

              You can hardly put CUNT on the appropriate line when closing a trouble ticket, now can you?

              1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

                Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

                Well you CAN but don't expect it to go unnoticed...

              2. Mark York 3 Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

                I always mentally merge the L & I in client to a U & blank out the E, in client.

                It always makes me feel so much better, after dealing with especially dense clients.

              3. EddieD

                Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

                You can put Failed Under Continuous Test, which I believe was a genuine soak test fail status at a major computer manufacturer.

              4. Simon Beckett

                Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

                "You can hardly put CUNT on the appropriate line when closing a trouble ticket, now can you?"

                Oh I dunno, worked with a sysadmin who would write pretty much anything on a ticket. Was great fun when we were forcibly migrated to a system where the customers could look up their support tickets. Running the search and replace and having to think of all the possible words he used must have been fun.

                1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge
                  Big Brother

                  Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

                  Reminds me of the time when our System Managers rang the Hell Desk to say that one of our DEC clusters had a problem and would need to be shutdown for a short time for the fix to be applied. He gave a brief explanation of what the problem was, what the fix was and what needed to be done as the Users of this particular VAXCluster were those rare beasts, Users who actually *did* understand how the computers worked and would appreciate what the situation was. This was in the time when Users had no access to the fault call logs and could not request copies, so some of the comments were less than complimentary.

                  Unfortunately the idiot who took that particular call did not recognize the name of the person calling him so didn't realise that, not only did the caller know what he was talking about and had the authority to shut the machines down, but he also had full access to the call logging system...

                  I suppose the idiot realised, in hindsight, that writing up the ticket advising the Second Line support team "This idiot doesn't know what he is talking about. Please ring him and tell him the systems is still up" wasn't the smartest thing to do, although I suspect the rather angry phone call from said System Manager to the Hell Desk Manager might have played a part...

                  And he had always seemed such a mild-mannered and polite System Manager 'til then!

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

                  Mate of mine worked in Blockbuster in the 90s. One of the jobs he got lumped with was sanitising the comments that the many, many, many, often teenage, frequently temporary store staff had left on the customer records.

                  Such gems as "this man is a porn fiend, lock up your daughters"

              5. Morten_T
                Joke

                Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

                "You can hardly put CUNT on the appropriate line when closing a trouble ticket, now can you?"

                That depends on your acrobatic skills :D

                (also shyness level and "equipment type")

          3. This post has been deleted by its author

          4. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

            Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

            Also known as PEBKAC: problem exists between keyboard and chair. Though my father used to call that simply a "cockpit error." Another is "user malfunction."

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

            I explained meaning of PICNIC to a non-IT savvy colleague. Thereafter every call she made to me on IT problem, she used the phrase in an extremely apologetic way. I got fed up with hearing that acronym.

          6. Beau

            Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

            Well, In my service department a simple entry at the bottom of the ticket of "NFF" which if the client asked stood for "No Fault Found" But if the item was then returned to us, the next engineer knew that previously it had "No Fucking Fault". Therefore a long soak test was required, maybe a week, before returning it to the client.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

              " it had "No Fucking Fault". Therefore a long soak test was required, "

              Unfortunately I've run across unsoldered joints in equipment which work just fine (for a while) after the thing has been jostled around.

              The bitch to diagnose was a batch of Intel server boards which would fail with various random faults. I finally traced it to slight PCB warpage caused by the case expanding and contracting. Pressing gently on the board in the top right corner caused an immediate lockup.

              Intermittent faults are a curse - and when they're like that you don't want anyone even breathing hard near the thing in case it "fixes" it for a while.

        2. Hedgehog Spen

          Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

          I've always known it as Technician Proximity Syndrome...

        3. Marcelo Rodrigues
          Devil

          Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

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

          In Brazil we call this "BIOS" (Bicho Ignorante Operando o Sistema) - Something like "Ignorant Animal Using the System". :D

          1. Captain DaFt

            Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

            In Brazil we call this "BIOS" (Bicho Ignorante Operando o Sistema) - Something like "Ignorant Animal Using the System". :D

            With a tweak, that'll work in English too: Brainless Idiot Operating System

            Thanks!

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

              I always described that as a simple IO error. Incompetent Operator.

      2. EVMonster
        Pint

        Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

        Wankerton syndrome; usual symptoms are IT problems, beards and bullshit.

      3. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

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

        A variation of this happens when a developer reaches the point where they are banging their head against the wall with a bit of code that isn't doing what it's supposed to do.

        Asking them to describe the problem in their own words is often enough for them to solve the problem themselves.

        I've seen it happen so many times that I know it works. If I find myself in a similar situation my best bet is to ask a colleague if I they can lend an ear for a minute or two.

    2. theN8

      Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

      We call that "the stare" around here.

    3. Servman

      Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

      Yeah.. all those calls about a password "not working" so you check and find the account locked out because they've typed the wrong one too many times, so you unlock it and everything works...

      It's amazing how upset they get when you suggest they made a typo in their password. Folks, I make hundreds of typos every day, and that's when I *can* see what I'm typing...

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

        "Yeah.. all those calls about a password "not working" so you check and find the account locked out"

        In one case because it had expired.

        There was a link right below the password field marked "password problems?" - which he refused to click on because he argued that he knew what his password was and therefore it must be the system that was wrong.

        Never mind that he'd ignored 27 reminder emails (4/2/1 week before, then 3/2/1 days then daily for the next 3 weeks) telling him that his password had expired and he would be locked out of all web interfaces until he changed it.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

      "You fixed something on the server, didn't you!?!"

      No - but if I could bottle it I'd make a fortune.

    5. Larhten

      Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

      I find that if they phone me, or try to show me a problem when I'm on site, it just won't happen and works perfectly.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

      I went round (socially) to in-laws the other day.

      FiL has 3D printer and had been having trouble with (open source) software for it. Some combination of the Open GL driver, 32 or 64-bit windows and whathaveyou on a ancient desktop. Last visit I'd suggested getting a second hand video card for which the right drivers were out there but hadn't done anything more.

      "Can you have another look at it?" he asks. So we go down garden to shed. He switches PC on, clicks on the program icon. Loads without problem or complaint.

      So however it fixed itself or he fixed it without knowing, I still got impression I'd earned points on that one.

      1. EVMonster
        Linux

        Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

        Windows 10 is very good isn't it?

        The downvote button is on the right.

    7. Aus Tech

      Re: Praise or accusations of work not done?

      Sounds like one of the old classic ID10T ERROR, or PEBKAC situations, but we can't tell the clients that is the real problem. I dare say that we could invent/build a foolproof PC, but that won't help, as the fools won't be able to use one.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can't reliably clean malware

    Once install backdoors and remote access mean any manner of additional changes can have been made, so removing the original malware code is not enough to ensure its secure.

    The only way to do it securely is a full reinstall of the o/s from scratch.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You can't reliably clean malware

      I'm guessing this was some time ago. Back in the day you could, fairly reliably, delete malware and get back on with the job.

      Even today many AV packages have a disinfect option for dealing with malware. The idea being it can delete the malware from a document leaving the document in tact. However I would be very surprised if, for any of the new viruses detected, the AV company would bother with creating a disinfection routine as I can't think of any that piggyback onto a legitimate file that you would want to keep.

    2. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

      "It's the only way to be sure"

      ...as someone once said.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: "It's the only way to be sure"

        You forgot the icon --->

        1. Inspector71

          Re: "It's the only way to be sure"

          F'kin A!

      2. Galimatias

        Re: "It's the only way to be sure"

        "Game over, man! Game over!"

        ... as someone else said...

        ... RIP Bill

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: You can't reliably clean malware

      I'm pretty sure I can, youngster.

      Of course, it helps that I'm the one that sets up the systems, with such recovery a fairly high priority. Not that I've needed to use it outside the lab ... Funny how using properly setup systems leads to few "oh, shit!" moments.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. NonSSL-Login

      Re: You can't reliably clean malware

      Anyone worth their salt would tell you that the guy who said there was a thousand nasties on the laptop is either extremely exaggerating or clueless when it comes to security, as AV's showing many results are usually just shouting about cookies, which are not real nasties or infections

      More like one actual infection and a few nasty toolbars thrown in for good measure.

      1. John F***ing Stepp

        Re: You can't reliably clean malware

        I had one once that had 679 actual examples of (il)legitiment malware; some requiring a trip into regedit to kill entirely. The user was some kind of savant about clicking on the wrong thing.

        (But kept me in extra spending money for years, so there was that.)

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: You can't reliably clean malware

          "I had one once that had 679 actual examples of (il)legitiment malware"
          I recently was given a teenager's lappy to fix and it had something of that order of malware. It went from needing more than 5 minutes to boot to less than a minute after being disinfected. I did it in return for a mate fixing our stove that would otherwise have cost us north of $AU10,000 to replace.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: You can't reliably clean malware

        "the guy who said there was a thousand nasties on the laptop is either extremely exaggerating or clueless "

        About 20 years ago I had to deal with a system that had something in excess of 14,000 documents infected with the same macro virus.

        Depending on the nasty, some can be quite irritating to deal with.

  7. Lee D Silver badge

    Placebo is strong in IT, I have any number of stories along similar lines.

    There is - however - a reason that I don't allocate a ton of resources to VMs. Because, to be honest, most things don't need them (Exchange/SQL is a bit of an exception). Literally, with Dynamic Memory, most things will happy run on only a Gb or two (and they're not swapping, because they can just ask for more RAM from the hypervisor at any point if they actually need it).

    But it gives you that edge to say "I'll upgrade the server", and you just give it more RAM/CPU/IO priority depending on what's holding it up.

    Because, to be honest, every time I've ever upgraded and said "It'll be faster", people can't tell. And every time I've done nothing at all to change things, they say how much faster it is. In some cases I have played literal placebo by just taking out the hard drive, putting the PC through the IT department (where the same hard drive was just reinserted but on a fancy worktop with tools being used) and then given it back IDENTICALLY to how it was taken, and people MONTHS LATER were saying "how much faster it is". Look/feel/placebo is more important than actual performance for almost everything but servers. And servers rarely need the full performance or have predictable performance at all.

    I put SSDs into clients once and they were astonishingly fast. What did people notice? That downloading a file was "still slow". Yeah, amazingly the local drive plays little part in our 500-user shared Internet connection.

    1. OldCrow

      @Lee D

      The slow downloads of large files get more noticeable, because general browsing tends to gain speed from an SSD. It's a known side-effect of modern browser cache usage patterns.

      Hell, I sped up my own browsing experience by disabling caching. Turns out, my internet connection has a smaller latency than my ancient spinning-rust-disk.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        @OldCrow: I'm assuming a vaguely-well managed system.

        Which would include a web-caching proxy and disabled or minimised client disk cache. Which offloads pretty much ANYTHING web to the network (Gigabit), other devices with far greater resources and preloaded data, DNS cache, etc. (multi-gigabit proxy servers / web filters) and the Internet connection itself (whatever you end up with).

        As such, the local client plays virtually ZERO part in the web browsing experience.

        Computers that have to hit swap/disk cache just to render a Chrome page are NOT well-managed.

        That said, an SSD will make the boot/login (limited to network speed again but a lot of disk churning)/application load fly. But nobody cares about that bit as they're still getting their morning coffee while that's happening.

    2. Snapper

      They all noticed!

      I replaced some 27" displays that were glossy and highly reflective (bright office with windows all round) with anti-glare/semi-matte displays with much better specs. Got a few comments from the mainly young and female clients that they were a lot easier to read and gave them less headaches etc.

      Went in a week later to a deluge of whingeing because they couldn't do their make-up in the morning leaning over their (inevitably) orange keyboards any more.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      downloading a file was "still slow".

      yup , and so was whatever data input system they are using.

      Whatever an end user is doing at their desk , the speed the system works has little to do with the state of the workstation on the desk. Its all the highly paid "System Architects" who are responsible for overloaded servers and squeezed data pipes etc .

      And us underpaid dogsbodys at the bottom have to take all wrath from the users while trying to explain theres nothing a grunt can do about it - including swapping their machine for that brand new gold plated one they saw being delivered earlier.

    4. Trixr Bronze badge

      I pretty much credit my IT career with my early understanding of the power of the placebo.

      I worked in a law firm in the late 90s that had recently switched from Word Perfect to Word, complete with very gnarly macros. Often the Win 3.11 machines would virtually grind to a standstill, and the quickest way to free up the memory was a simple reboot.

      Lots of the secretaries (and pretty much any user today, of course) would swear black and blue that they had already rebooted and it was "something else" causing the problem when their machine went to snail pace.

      So my Advanced Desktop Support technique was to go to the affected machine, run up the command prompt, run a "dir /s" on the C:\ drive, make some muttering sounds as the output scrolled down, THEN do the reboot. Apparently I was the "best" desktop support person in the place because I "went the extra mile to *fix* the problem". Fast forward to being a shiny new NT administrator in the Ops area 6 months later.

  8. jake Silver badge

    Credit for something I didn't do?

    After one consulting job, I didn't give a Sr. VP of a Fortune 150 the password to his brand new, triple-headed, US$7,500 desktop PC. This was back in 2007. He never even tried to log into it for the four years that it sat on his credenza, artfully cycling through screensavers. How do I know? Because I'm the only person who ever had the password. He never asked me for it, and his secretary refused the knowledge ... Over that four years, about once a quarter he called me up to take a look at it under warranty because "it did something funny". When I checked the logs, the last person to login was myself ... three months earlier. The secretary & IT staff thanked me for keeping him out of their hair every time I came out. I almost wish that I allowed them to renew the contract after the four years ...

    There are others in similar positions of power who make a big show of "checking the computer", even though their network cable was "accidentally" never installed. Free hint to all consultants: ALWAYS ask the secretary about the Boss's computer knowledge. You can save a lot of time and trouble for a lot of people over the long haul.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Credit for something I didn't do?

      Sometimes they can be hot too.

    2. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Credit for something I didn't do?

      There's a Dilbert for that. But I'm not going to go looking for it.

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Credit for something I didn't do?

      Not quite hardware but we had an accountant who demanded a report be on his desk every morning at 9am. One day I delivered it and hung around the corridor for 10 minutes or so and popped back in to ask a question about a package we were working on for him and noticed the report in the bin. 400 pages of 132 char wide fanfold in ten minutes? A chat with the cleaner and the same report was delivered daily until it looked a bit dog-eared and then we'd print another daily report, or glue the first couple of pages on to the old one.

      1. John Goodwin 4

        Re: Credit for something I didn't do?

        Had a very similar issue with one of our Treasury worker droids. I'd delivered his 700-odd page daily report and was chatting with him about work stuff. To my amazement, he then turned over the chunky report, ripped off the summary of 10 pages and binned the rest - right in front of me.

        It took me all of 10 minutes to save the planet and my back by raising an internal IT Change Request. Probably saved around 180 boxes of fanfold that year.

    4. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Credit for something I didn't do?

      ALWAYS ask the secretary about the Boss's knowledge

      FTFY

    5. Timo

      Re: Credit for something I didn't do?

      Some time ago I had a PHB/manager that REQUIRED the use of a unix workstation, like her minions were using. The monitor had multiple inputs and she was always complaining of how when she undocked her laptop the screen would switch to the workstation and not switch back without a tedious sequence of button pushing on said monitor, and required grousing.

      After about a year of watching her do this I said "just unplug the workstation, after all it has been stuck on the boot screen the whole time!!" The boot/init script was stuck about halfway down the process so it had never been operable, despite the claims that "I'm using it for my work".

      She was the kind of boss that worked double-hard to try to cover up the fact that she was incompetent, so getting caught in a failure like this did not go over too well. A very expensive paperweight that thing was.

  9. B0rg

    My favourite when I used to work on the helpdesk was always 'the secret magic server trick' - user is on the phone with X problem, so I say "OK close Application X and then don't press any keys on the keyboard for a minute". Then I open Notepad on my machine and audibly mash a bunch of keys on the keyboard pretending to type something and say "OK, I've changed a setting on 'the server' - try opening X up again and let me know if it's working?" ~99% success rate "wow it's working fine now, thanks!!"

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Was that the X server?

  10. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    couch?

  11. Christopher Lane

    Problem types - There's only three...

    A Hardware Problem...

    A Software Problem...

    and A "Fleshware" Problem...as previously stated, usually somewhere between the keyboard and the back of the chair.

    1. toxicdragon

      Small point

      "Fleshware" is generally referred to as wetware.

  12. JJKing Bronze badge
    Coat

    Couch casting 101.

    Hopefully not used for casting.....

    Why would you be fishing from the couch?

    Mine's the one with the coat tucked into my waders.

  13. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    The funny thing is...

    One can try everything before phoning Virgin Media and, when they eventually kick whatever needs kicking, they will swear blind they did nothing and the fault was at the user's end.

  14. J 3
    Devil

    BOFH

    Ha, there was a BOFH episode a few weeks back that was pretty much this, but with signs reversed --users complaining about a change that they think was made, but wasn't...

    Thanks someone up there for the Hawthorne effect, I now know its name. Happens a lot in academia too; bioinformatics grad students complain program is not running, blah blah, so you go sit there right next to them... and it "magically" works now. "But I did exactly the same thing before!", they say. Uh-huh, I say. :-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BOFH

      Believe nothing anyone else says they saw - and only believe half of what you think you saw.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: BOFH

        "only believe half of what you think you saw."

        Knowing which half to believe? That's called experience.

  15. Naselus

    Confused

    Why was the IT manager reporting to the finance veep?

    And why was the finance veep looking to convince other people to up the IT budget, when it's usually an ops guy trying to convince finance it's a good idea...?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Confused

      It's common; I've seen it in a few places, including my present employer.

      Usually, it's because the IT department is a cost center as opposed to a revenue center. :)

      (anon to protect my own internal revenue generation capabilities. :) )

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Confused

        It can also be historical. Finance were usually the first to get computers.

        Spreadsheets were the first "killer app" in many companies. Visical, SuperCalc, Lotus 1 2 3 etc.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Confused

          Normally, that's true but there were exceptions. Where I worked at the time, PC's came into Engineering first for such things as spreadsheets, parts listing, tech manuals, and more than a few engineers sat down with a floppy disk with some utilities they picked from some magazine for design work (electronics computations, etc.). Accounting was almost the last department. Even the typing pool jumped to PC's before they did,.

          1. Naselus

            Re: Confused

            Yeah, I can recall more than a few places where accounting refused to move to PCs until very late in the day - including one where they were insistent that the computer would be worse at maths than a grumpy 58-year old accounts manager with an abacus on her desk.

  16. OzBob

    I always tell the Ops when I put a performance hack in

    and I even tell them which type of components it is (backup drives or print interface etc) but I never tell them WHICH component! I want to see if there is an actual visible improvement that they can recognise and report.

    Don't get me wrong, I love my Ops, they know much better than me how a system works day-to-day but they can also be guilty of wishful thinking and seeing false-positives if told that something has changed.

  17. Harmon20

    Mmmm, new couch for a job well done.

    My heart's cockles have been warmed by On-Call. How unusual.

  18. Blake St. Claire

    credit for something I didn't do?

    Sometimes.

    More often I get blamed for something I didn't do. Which I have to then fix.

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