back to article 'Please store the internet on this floppy disk'

Welcome again to another edition of On-Call, which we run daily during the news drought that is the week before Christmas to share the tech support stories that readers sent in earlier in the year. Today: Especially dim users who asked for especially simple fixes. One such story came to us from "Jim", who was once given the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not sure what's worse

    Recieving the photos on a mobile phone in the post, or

    Recieving screenshots from the helpdesk that contain both the helpdesk persons monitors, one of which contains the remote connection to the user's monitor(s).

    Said screenshot is in a word document.

    You have to zoom in and in and in until you finally reliase you can't read the error message anyway.

    Now where's that enhance button (spooks style)

    1. Test Man

      Re: I'm not sure what's worse

      "Said screenshot is in a word document."

      That REALLY grinds my gears - people who put images in a Word document. FFS!

      1. John Riddoch

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        "screenshot in a word document"

        Older version of MS Paint would default to saving in bitmap format - for a large monitor and 24/32 bit graphics, that would be a large file to attach to an email. Saving in word would compress it so you'd have a much smaller email. It's a poor solution, but for a non-savvy person, it can be quicker & easier.

        Nowadays, paint seems to default to PNG format which is much better, so there shouldn't be any need to revert to Word.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        "That REALLY grinds my gears - people who put images in a Word document. FFS!"

        Whilst working for a large UK electronics retailer, I was amazed to receive - in the same day - an Excel document containing about a dozen paragraphs of text that were to be used on a website (just pasted one per cell, no wrapping or cell resizing even) and then a Powerpoint file with some data and graphs in.

        I was waiting for the trifecta - a Word document containing images that were to be viewed as a slideshow, one per page. Tragically it never happened.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm not sure what's worse

          "That REALLY grinds my gears - people who put images in a Word document. FFS!"

          What's most annoying is people who want to screenshot your work and then put it into a Word document so they can do it themselves later. In principle, fine, but you scope out a few hours to do the job. Then they insist that you use their PC to do it, and they take screenshots. So they fire up Word and take a screenshot of EVERY FUCKING SCREEN. Oh, there's a progress bar - take a screenshot. The progress bar has moved on - take a screenshot. The operation has completed - take a screenshot.

          1. 2Nick3 Bronze badge
            Mushroom

            Re: I'm not sure what's worse

            "So they fire up Word and take a screenshot of EVERY FUCKING SCREEN. Oh, there's a progress bar - take a screenshot. The progress bar has moved on - take a screenshot. The operation has completed - take a screenshot."

            And if they miss getting the screenshot of a progress bar at 25% they want you to go back and do the operation again. Even though copying a <1k file is never going to give you a chance to catch the progress bar...

      3. ThaumaTechnician

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        "Said screenshot is in a word document."

        Count yourself lucky, if it had been management, they would have figured out how to post the screenshots in an Excel spreadsheet, one that was formatted so as to make it impossible to print out in one piece..

      4. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        I get that all the time - prtscr + paste into Word doc.

        Most of the time I just select the image, ctrl+c, open irfanview, ctrl+v and Bob's world+dog's uncle. Zooming in to see the offending message then is easy.

      5. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        GODS YES. Our front line support minons do this ALL THE TIME. Our helpdesk software will accept *any* file for attachment to the tickets, but nope- gotta paste a screen shot of the two-monitor wide image into a portrait oriented word document...

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        Is anybody reading ElReg not tired of explaining why, exactly, so-called "digital zoom" isn't all that useful?

      2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        "enhance button" It's Christmas! Let's enhance.

        https://youtu.be/LhF_56SxrGk

        If it wasn't for that pesky reflection, I woulda gotta away with it...

        You forgot to zoomify

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm not sure what's worse

      The best ones are where you get a screenshot but find pornhub lurking on the taksbar.

      PrtScn can be quite unforgiving to the uninitiated.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: I'm not sure what's worse

          Even today it happens - I do volunteer work (moderating and support) for the forum of a very well known media player app, which produces a text debug log during operation. When things go wrong, we ask for a copy of it via pastebin or suchlike.

          And of course the number of times we actually receive photographs of screens showing it (of course in a similarly small and unreadable font) does sometimes make you despair. And that's not counting the times when they take the photos and then ask how to get them to you...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I'm not sure what's worse

            And of course the number of times we actually receive photographs of screens showing it (of course in a similarly small and unreadable font) does sometimes make you despair. And that's not counting the times when they take the photos and then ask how to get them to you...

            Doesn't even have to be non-technical people doing it. When I was still stuck working at IBM, doing unix/linux support in a group of other support. admin and development people, you would be amazed at just HOW many of these "geniuses" would sent *text* error messages or other text information as screen clippings inside Sametime messages.

            But then again it *was* IBM, so basic intelligence is not at all a given.

      2. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        Or dealing with someone who wants help with e-mail, but forgot the hide the message that came in from a dating site... Thank goodness it wasn't from Grindr !

      3. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        The best ones are where you get a screenshot but find pornhub lurking on the taksbar.

        PrtScn can be quite unforgiving to the uninitiated.

        I know someone who works for a furniture retailer and deals with damage to furniture. They're often sent pictures of coffee table/bookcase/TV stand/DVD storage units that have suffered some minor (and sometimes major) maladies. The number of times these pictures have turned up with 50 Shades of Grey in either print or video form in the picture is impressive. Some have had a few R18 films in the storage units which the owners either didn't care about other people seeing (unlikely) or had forgotten they were there.

        1. ChrisBedford

          Re: I'm not sure what's worse

          "The number of times these pictures have turned up with 50 Shades of Grey in either print or video form in the picture is impressive. Some have had a few R18 films..."

          So what. Fifty shades is mainstream, the movies might be adult rated but are not illegal and anyone who denies having looked at anything in this category is either lying or over 80.

          What about when the glass door or shiny chrome finish clearly shows the picture was taken naked... and in at least one case I have seen, dangling. Eurgh.

    4. Tsurotu

      Re: I'm not sure what's worse

      I've had people screenshot emails then paste the mail into a document then attach the document to a support ticket as an attachment, with a the ticket body saying "see attached".

    5. boltar Silver badge

      Re: I'm not sure what's worse

      "Recieving the photos on a mobile phone in the post, or"

      Actually I'm not sure whats so funny about that. The farmer may have lost the cable, not have any drivers for his PC if he even owned a PC, the phone might not have had an SD card and the photos were in its on board memory, or he may not have had an internet connection or if he did it was dial up only in which case it could well be quicker to post the phone than upload the pictures! And being a farmer he'd be busy 12 hours a day and probably had better things to do than visit an office that could be miles away to deliver it by hand.

      Its easy to take the piss if you don't know the facts.

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        Lotus Office (circa 95) used to ship with a screen recorder thing that was ace for reaching people how to use new software products or for demonstrating a problem to a thick developer of the "I don't make mistakes" school over email.

        It was easy to use and very basic. Click record, do what you wanted. Click stop and save the result. Files could be played back just as simply.

        In short it was thunderously useful.

        When IBM bought Lotus it was the first thing they dropped support for.

        1. Chris King Silver badge

          Re: I'm not sure what's worse

          Microsoft shipped something similar in later versions of Windows - the Problem Steps Recorder.

          PSR.EXE has helped me diagnose lots of problems over the years.

        2. Martin-73 Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: I'm not sure what's worse

          Was this the thing that morphed into smartsuite? I loved that screen recorder gadget (circa 1999) for teaching my non tech savvy friends* on yahoo chat rooms how to do stuff

          *several provisos here. Later experience taught me many of them were not friends, but... more pertinent, 'non tech savvy' people on the internet in 1999 BY DEFINITION knew way too much about how computers worked, even to be there.

          Merry christmas to one and all.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm not sure what's worse

          Lotus Screencam was the dog's bollocks and the files it produced were so small I always used to check to see if they had actually done anything, it is really annoying that there doesn't seem to be anything like it

        4. 2Fat2Bald

          Re: I'm not sure what's worse

          You might l like to open any modern Windows-based PC and run the program "PSR.EXE"

          It's not AS good, but pretty good nonetheless.

    6. jobst

      Re: I'm not sure what's worse

      I know what's worse ... putting the out of office message into a word document and getting that said docx attached to the "I am out of the office" message ....

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm not sure what's worse

      You have to zoom in and in and in until you finally reliase you can't read the error message anyway.

      People who write SW where the errors come up in dialogue boxes which don't allow cut&paste.

      ARGH

      Burning at the stake is too good for these people.

      Sorry MS but you're going to be short of developers!

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm not sure what's worse

      That's nothing - I've seen plenty of people trying to use Windows as an operating system. They always see the funny side of it when I point out how wrong they are!

    9. tinman

      Re: I'm not sure what's worse

      sending a form in WORD format via email for completion and receiving back a pdf of the response which has been completed in WORD, printed out and then the printout is scanned and emailed back

  2. wolfetone Silver badge

    Yeah, I'm sure it was "Andre", not you Mr.Graham Linehan. And I'm sure the user in question wasn't called Jen.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      This apocryphal story has been doing the rounds since long before The IT Crowd, just like the CD tray/coffee cup holder one. Having met users, I don't doubt it was inspired by real incidents.

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Well CD Trays have a hole in the middle. Had a hole in the middle. Then they changed from one large hole to a small hole and a slot. This uses more plastic so must have had a reason . . .

        1. W4YBO

          "...changed from one large hole to a small hole and a slot."

          Now the drive hub doesn't have to move out of the way for the drawer to operate.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge
            FAIL

            Now the drive hub doesn't have to move out of the way for the drawer to operate.

            It still has to drop when the tray opens. How else is the disc going to clear the spindle?

      2. jake Silver badge

        Not apocryphal.

        Happened all the time as the corporate world shifted from a few folks with proper training using a command line to nearly everybody, most with no training at all, using a GUI.

        So-called "ease of use" is a myth that has set back computing at least two generations. TANSTAAFL.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Not apocryphal.

          "So-called "ease of use" is a myth that has set back computing at least two generations. TANSTAAFL."

          I can't upvote you enough for that comment, eg from the article...

          "and did not know how what horizontal scrollbars are for"

          ...and how many version of Windows have we seen the installer slide-show telling us how "intuitive" or "more intuitive than ever" using Windows is? Intuition is where you have skills or knowledge and can apply them to a new situation. That didn't work with computers, especially GUIs, it was just too different for most people. Still applies today in many cases, I find few people actually know how to use a GUI properly. The worst are people who have never been shown even how to log in without using the mouse to get from the user name box to the password box. And these include people in the early 20's who probably used computers every day of their lives at school.

          1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: Not apocryphal.

            ...and how many version of Windows have we seen the installer slide-show telling us how "intuitive" or "more intuitive than ever" using Windows is? Intuition is where you have skills or knowledge and can apply them to a new situation. That didn't work with computers, especially GUIs

            I can say from personal experience, having set up a home computer (running MSWin XP at the time) for someone who had never had a home computer before. At most she might have used a green-screen terminal, although I think her working career didn't entail a lot of that either. MSWin absolutely was *not* intuitive for her. Could easily have set her in front of a Mac, Linux box or even a Solaris machine, and it wouldn't have been any more difficult. And she wasn't stupid by any means.

            "Intuitive" is where prior experience can be adapted to your current scenario. Without the appropriate relevant experience, *nothing* is intuitive.

          2. tinman
            Angel

            Re: Not apocryphal.

            "he worst are people who have never been shown even how to log in without using the mouse to get from the user name box to the password box."

            I've had a rep as an IT guru in various NHS settings over the years for knowing esoteric maneuvers such as CTRL-Z and CTRL-V, and no I don't work in ICT

        2. Martin-73 Silver badge

          Re: Not apocryphal.

          TWO generations? I fear you are an optimist.

          I'd posit that mr Turing was way ahead of your average IT guru these days

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Not apocryphal.

            "I fear you are an optimist."

            That's what my wife tells me. So why do I feel pessimistic?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'm sure many users have been caught out when they started auto-closing.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        At Rich 11, RE: the cd tray.

        I was working as the PFY at a company that shall remain nameless to cover my ass. One day we got a call from our PHB saying his computer had stopped working & he needed a new one. Cue the troubleshooting steps, no fix, & a personal visit from me.

        I get there to discover his desk is now suspiciously clear of everything but the monitor on its stand - no papers, no ledgers, no pens nor pencils, no keyboard nor mouse, *nothing* - and ask where he keeps the KB&M so I can work on his computer. Turns out he had been using the "coffee cup holder", the tray had closed, & spilled his coffee all over his desk, the KB&M, down the back of the desk & wall, & all over his computer's tower.

        I got him a new computer, used a "tower caddy" on wheels to keep it up off his floor, and shared the story with my BOFH Master.

        He doubted my story right up until the point where we opened the old tower & smelled the PHB's infamous favorite sugary cinnomon frappy crappy drink.

        My BOFH Master treated me to a pint as a gesture of appollogy & to welcome me to the next rung on the ladder to my eventual BOFH-ness.

        *Happy sigh*

        Ahhh the memories!

      5. JimboSmith Silver badge

        This apocryphal story has been doing the rounds since long before The IT Crowd, just like the CD tray/coffee cup holder one. Having met users, I don't doubt it was inspired by real incidents.

        Had an incident at a media business where I found myself explaining how to use a piece of equipment. The person concerned was quite senior and had asked me to explain why her CD wasn't playing. She was in a media transfer suite and was insistent that the machine was faulty and her disc was fine. It was a CDR machine in the days when such things were very very expensive and normally the preserve of studios etc. I pressed open on the machine and out came the 'tray' with her disc on. This was a machine where the tray had a platter that held the disc firmly and then the platter was rotated. This platter was a reassuringly weighty thing and designed to minimise any wobble. I said the problem was that the disc was upside down and it needed to be turned over. I was told that despite having been around when computers were the size of cars she wasn't senile. She had a cd player at home you see and knew the label side needed to be up. I ventured that this machine was different and vastly more expensive but she wasn't having any of that. So I said that I'd bet her an extra week of holiday that if I put the disc in "upside down" it would play.

        Now I knew she really wasn't senile because she said I'm not falling for that. Turned it upside down and low and behold it played perfectly. I always wondered if she'd ever used the "cup holder".

      6. Olivier2553 Silver badge

        It did happen to me: a kid, quite young I must say, thought the can holder in a car was the tray of a CD player.

  3. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Brings back bad memories

    "He had resized his Eudora window down to the point where it could not show the full message and did not know how what horizontal scrollbars are for," Andre told us.

    Lots of people in the early 90s had computers plonked on their desks and were never shown or never managed to work out how to use the GUI properly. It was even worse when their company was too tight to provide proper training for particular software packages.

    Customer: "Why do you never put headers and footers in the Pagemaker documents you send me?"

    Me: "Why do you never use the page view and magnification controls?"

    (I was a bit short-tempered that day. I think I apologised later.)

    1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: Brings back bad memories

      "computers plonked on their desks and were never shown or never managed to work out how to use the GUI"

      Exactly this, I worked for a Uni project deploying Microsoft Exchange back in the 90s. For whatever reason they'd stuck with VAX mail, so folks would log into their PC, then telnet onto a VAX, and read that lovely text based mail. I'd come from another Uni where we had a Unix based mail host, and served mail out using POP3 and IMAP and users chose their client, Pine for text terminal users (but that at least was menu driven) Eudora on PCs, or whatever X-Windows mail client they liked. So going back to VAX mail,... eeek.

      So when we transitioned to MS Exchange (v4, when the emails were in .rtf format), we'd install it for the punter, and show them the features, rather than let them work it out for themselves.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Brings back bad memories

        I'd have prepared a nice printout for the user , with big friendly letters on the cover saying "Dont Panic!".

        and then let them work it out for themselves.

        Seriously though , I've done that before a few times ( minus the hgttg) For simpler tasks than a whole new email client though, like mapping a drive , or sharing your calandar , or adding a mailbox to outlook.

        After I've explained something simple , or worse done it for them , about 100x it's too much.

        A nice friendly word doc / web page / printout (preferably colour) with idiot proof instructions , screenshots and big red arrows is in order.

        tip - its 100x easier to follow if you put text relating to a picture by the side of it (and shrink the pic to achieve that) . Most guide writers tend to put screenshots that are far too big and too frequent with a line of explanation above or below , and you immediately lose track of wether the text refers to the pic above or below, as well as where you're up to becasue the screen sized scrrenshots push the prev and next step off the screen.

        1. Richard Gray 1

          Re: Brings back bad memories

          I've tried things like that in the past.

          The number of times people have removed the paper explaining the new logon/ email / application procedure with "READ ME" in large letters from the screen \ keyboard before calling in saying the new system is broken and what was wrong with the old way ...

          1. 0laf Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: Brings back bad memories

            That's because they don't want the problem fixed or to learn how to do it what they want is the new shiny taken away and what they know put back.

            It's a human problem, I run into it most days. Employees that cause drama and problems left right and centre about a thousand issues and what they really mean is "put back what I had" but they can't say that..

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Brings back bad memories

            "the new system is broken and what was wrong with the old way"

            And do you have a good answer for that? Fixing what wasn't broken is all too often the tech industry's substitute for productivity.

            1. Richard Gray 1

              Re: Brings back bad memories

              Yep the old email system didn't work with the document management system so we needed a different one that would. The lesser of two evils was changing the email system.

            2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

              Re: Brings back bad memories

              ""the new system is broken and what was wrong with the old way"

              And do you have a good answer for that? Fixing what wasn't broken is all too often the tech industry's substitute for productivity."

              I guess the answer to that question is the same as the answer to the question "Why can I not use my trusty 66mhz 486 with win98 and office 97?

              I dont really know the answer . My current PC (that will play Crysis! (probly 3 times at once)) must be 50x the strength of that 486 , and yet - my word documents are no different.

              But due to "security" we must have the latest OS and AV and usually the "old way" the user pines for is incompatible with the latest shizzle.

              So in summary 95% of your computing power is security / AV /battoning the hatches / blocking the macros , verifying your login. Typewriters did all that inherently without trying .

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Brings back bad memories

              Doctor Syntax,

              Your comment implies that the changes are being made at the behest of the IT Dept.

              More often the changes are because of the change in the 'Companys' way of working and the need to change some 'old' systems to be compatible with a newer process or external requirements etc.

              Typically the IT 'bod' who is doing the work is blamed for the change, when the persons own boss is the more accurate target.

              These changes are agreed at a higher level that the IT Dept and all the angst is usually due to the lack of proper comunication with the people at the sharp end and/or training to match the new systems being installed.

              The mindset is that as you can use the 'old' system you will be able to use the 'new' one, therefore no training will be needed.

              This also means that the expectation of any impact on the running of the dept is zero and yet again at this point 'IT' gets the official 'bending of the ear' when there are problems.

              Not only are Computers 'Magic' but skills to use them are absorbed directly through the fingers by magic as well !!! :) :) :)

        2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

          Re: Brings back bad memories

          "idiot proof instructions"

          How do you make your instructions idiot proof, I've resorted to videos showing exactly how something can be done and still users look in a daze and simply respond its not working. Best method is printed colour documents with lots of screenshots arrows and bullet points.

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: Brings back bad memories

            "How do you make your instructions idiot proof"

            its "screenshots & arrows" all the way down. If the shots are in focus , and the arrows are distinguishable from the shot, by being at a jaunty angle and brighty coloured , provided you also use text written in "user"* (and left or right of , rather than above or below the pic) than you have done all you can.

            Beyond that you implore your boss to tell their boss his users are not competent and need training / redeploying and its not his or your problem.

            If that dosent work - leave.

            * speaking user means avoiding these phrases:

            Dialogue box

            Radio buttons

            context menu

            etc

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Brings back bad memories

              "Beyond that you implore your boss to tell their boss his users are not competent and need training / redeploying and its not his or your problem."

              It depends. If it was your department's decision to replace the familiar with the unfamiliar then perhaps it is your problem.

              But in general, use of the software is just part of the user's job so training the user to do their job including the software should be part of the user department and, although you might help with it, any written document should be the user department's work and cover the whole job instead of the IT aspect being taken out and documented separately.

            2. Marcelo Rodrigues
              Trollface

              Re: Brings back bad memories

              "its "screenshots & arrows" all the way down. "

              Nonsense! Anyone know it's elephants all the way down!

              1. Truckle The Uncivil

                Re: Brings back bad memories

                @Marcelo Rodrigues

                That would be “turtles”...

              2. David Woodhead
                FAIL

                Re: Brings back bad memories

                "its "screenshots & arrows" all the way down. "

                Nonsense! Anyone know it's elephants all the way down!

                Turtles! It's turtles all the way down!. The elephants are just on top (or the GUI as we call it nowadays).

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Brings back bad memories

                I thought it was turtles.

            3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

              Re: Brings back bad memories

              "* speaking user means avoiding these phrases:"

              That's the same argument as saying that to drive a car you must avoid phrases such as "steering wheel", "gears", "brake", "indicators". If they don't even the fundamental concepts of the device they're using, they really do need to put it back in the box it came in.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Brings back bad memories

                "That's the same argument as saying that to drive a car you must avoid phrases such as "steering wheel", "gears", "brake", "indicators". If they don't even the fundamental concepts of the device they're using, they really do need to put it back in the box it came in."

                Spot on! No idea why you got downvoted. If someone needs to a tool to do their job then they should be taught how to use the tool properly. You'd not expect a typist to not understand what a ribbon, platen or carriage is, would you? Why should PC users be different?

            4. DustyP

              Re: Brings back bad memories

              "How do you make your instructions idiot proof"

              It's impossible to make instructions idiot proof because idiots can be SO ingenious.

          2. BebopWeBop Silver badge
            Pirate

            Re: Brings back bad memories

            I've resorted to videos showing exactly how something can be done

            Tried violence - or stopping short of that the threat of extreme unction (have been tempted mysellf on more than one occasion - and that is just supporting my own family!)

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Brings back bad memories

          "and shrink the pic to achieve that"

          Or crop it to isolate the relevant dialog.

        4. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: Brings back bad memories

          Yeah gods, yes. The number of times I've ended up giving up and rewritten deployment scripts from scratch so the instructions and pictures actually relate to each other.

      2. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Brings back bad memories

        All my received emails set up to display as text only.

        Keeps the nasties at bay.

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

          Re: Brings back bad memories

          Could be worse, some users actually decide its a good idea to setup mail rules to be deleted from internal addresses.

    2. Paul Shirley
      Happy

      Re: Brings back bad memories

      Computers have just about reached the point of being indistinguishable from magic for 99% of the users

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        At Paul Shirley, Re: magic.

        True, but I wish they would stop picking up the damned things & shaking the hell out of them to get the little blue plastic answer window to come up.

        "Outlook not so good"? No shit! It's crashed again ya fekkin' ijit!

        *Cough*

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: At Paul Shirley, magic.

          "the new system is broken and what was wrong with the old way"

          And do you have a good answer for that? Fixing what wasn't broken is all too often the tech industry's substitute for productivity.

          @Doctor Syntax - sadly all too true, especially when the new way is only done 'cos some consultant moron persuaded people it was better (and took a cut of the sale afterwards), or it features one of the trendy buzzwords (cloud-based or IoT or somesuch shit).

          We just suffered a transition here from local server-based email to cloud-based, and it's driving me nuts (as a dumb user fortunately rather than having to support the management-generated mess). Forever getting messages of things being out of sync or additional messages being available on the server (ie ones I've moved and the sync hasn't caught on or caught up) or the whole of Outlook just locking up as it tries to have a deep pow-wow with some server somewhere on the wrong end of a piece of wet knicker elastic in the arse-end of some backwater somewhere.

          And from having talked to my helldesk colleagues who have to support it even though they fully agree it's crap and somehow it's "their fault" even though they got no say in it, somehow I doubt it'll improve any time soon. The age old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" is still all too true - make sure your updates actually make things better for everyone, especially those who have to live with it on a daily basis.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Brings back bad memories

      "Lots of people in the early 90s had computers plonked on their desks and were never shown or never managed to work out how to use the GUI properly. It was even worse when their company was too tight to provide proper training for particular software packages."

      Change 90's to 00's or 10's, and FFS, it's almost 2018 and nothing has changed. I meet people every day who have never been taught the basics, from old crumblies to wet behind the ears kids.

  4. silks

    Printer Power

    The non-connected printer story reminds me of when I worked for a company that let's say distributes power nationaly maybe using a grid system.

    Engineer visiting a substation called in to complain that his printer wasn't working. After going through some troubleshooting it became clear that the printer wasn't powered on. Irony here being that the guy was surrounded by 400kV but none of it getting anywhere near the printer.

    1. Wyrdness

      Re: Printer Power

      I would imagine that putting 400kV though the printer might also result in a non-printing situation.

      1. DailyLlama

        Re: Printer Power

        That's the best thing to do to a printer. Can't imagine why so many people want the blasted things...

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: Printer Power

          That's the best thing to do to a printer. Can't imagine why so many people want the blasted things...

          Putting 400Kv across it's terminals would certainly turn it into a "blasted thing" I expect, and would also be quite terminal for it.

          Now, if I can also find the testicles of the bugger who invented the blasted things, I have another experiment in mind for 400Kv...

          (El Reg : We do not have a suitable EHT icon!)

          #wishIwashereaweekago

      2. Naselus

        Re: Printer Power

        "I would imagine that putting 400kV though the printer might also result in a non-printing situation."

        Depends if the resulting fire engine has a printer in it, tbh.

        1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

          Re: Printer Power

          Any volunteers willing to test if the printer responds correctly by asserting online and check?

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Printer Power

            "lp0 on fire"

            Ran across this about a year and a half ago when trying to convince a very old bit of kit (IBM 1403) to cooperate with Linux. I jumped about a foot. It had been probably three decades since I last saw that error message.

        2. Chris King Silver badge

          Re: Printer Power

          "Depends if the resulting fire engine has a printer in it, tbh",

          If it does, they'll probably ask if they can put it on the fire and let it burn for a bit before dousing the flames.

      3. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: Printer Power

        I would imagine that putting 400kV though the printer might also result in a non-printing situation.

        Had a situation recently where someone who will remain nameless (because they outrank me by many levels) couldn't print a vital document. I arrived at the printer a Brother colour inkjet and looked at the error message. The printer was out of Magenta ink and I explained this patiently. "I don't want to print in colour just black and white". After doing some research it turns out that they really don't like printing without all the cartridges having ink. I went on line and found a solution involving putting some electrical tape over the viewing window on the cartridge. Having performed said solution and the printer now working again I said that we'd order new cartridges.

        Later I enquired as to why this person had their own Inkjet printer. The rest of the building was laser and communal printers so it seemed odd. Turned out this person liked inkjet printers more than lasers and had used some of their personal budget to buy one. That was the reason that a new rule had been announced that only IT was allowed to procure IT equipment.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Printer Power

          a new rule had been announced that only IT was allowed to procure IT equipment

          Works the other way too. When IT decided that there were too many "personal" printers around and they couldn't bother supporting them and it would be cheaper to buy supplies if the printers were all the same, they decided that my particular outpost required just one printer for the whole building.

          Fine in the main open-plan office, but there are two other offices some distance away - one down a flight of stairs. Cue some ill feeling towards IT from the people in those offices.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Printer Power

            To which the IT reply is "Get off your lazy arse and walk to the printer or, here's an idea, only print the stuff you absolutely need",

            Anonymous because I don't want to give people ideas that I don't support them ;)

  5. Mike Lewis

    Torch Triple X

    > "George" sent a story from his time working as tech support manager for seminal 1980s Cambridge outfit Torch, which gave the world some fine Unix desktop workstations.

    I used Torch Triple X computers in 1987. "Fine" is not the word I would have chosen as they kept crashing.

    1. Alan J. Wylie

      Re: Torch Triple X

      Were they the ones with two bars that formed a touch switch to turn them on? With a rechargeable battery to power that circuit?

  6. Roger Kynaston
    Pint

    Ah Eudora

    Where I worked we had a thing called Symian as I remember. It was hideous but better than pine which the students were expected to use. I noticed recently that you can still get Alpine on linux these days for the die hards!

    Beer because of it being the last week before the Christmas bacchanalia.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Ah Eudora

      I still use (Al)pine for the bulk of my email. Works a treat, even over a 2400 baud dial-up.

      What do you mean, that's too slow? How fast can you read and/or type?

      1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

        Re: Ah Eudora

        What do you mean, that's too slow? How fast can you read and/or type?

        My late wife once tested at 85-90 words per minute touch typing. (That is, copying from a printed page to a word processor document without once looking at the screen OR the keyboard. She did point out that if the printed document had poor grammar and/or spelling, she went slower, which indicates to me that she was reading chunks larger than words.) Granted, assuming an average of 7 characters per word plus a space, that's around 600 characters per minute, or ten a second. On an 8N1 link, that's 100 bits per second. So yeah, 2400 is more than fast enough.

    2. Soruk

      Re: Ah Eudora

      At my old university, back in 1994 everyone was expected to use 'elm' for email on the Unix boxes. Now that was awful. Later on, an unofficial Pine binary became available, and it was eventually installed properly and supported as just about every Unix user used it in preference to elm. Round about the same time, Simeon was introduced for the Windows users too scared of the command line, but one look at that I decided to stick with Pine.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Ah Eudora

        In 1994 I was shifting Windows and Netware users to David Harris' excellent Pegasus and Mercury line of email programs. It's the only Windows program I still support (for a select few folks). I don't know anybody who still runs NetWare, or I'd probably still support it there, too.

        elm still works, but I somehow managed to skip it entirely back in the day, moving directly from mail/mailx to pine.

        As a side note, if anybody is interested in all this old junk, you could do a lot worse than check out The Heirloom Project. Learn that lot (or your system's variation (Mac users too!)), and you'll know more about admining un*x than most modern so-called "sysadmins" who think that installing Ubuntu somehow makes you a power user ...

  7. jake Silver badge

    Palo Alto to Halfmoon Bay. 1AM.

    I got a call from the CEO of a company I did consulting for. The home genset I had installed for him as a side project didn't work in a power failure. He was completely impervious to answering questions intelligently over the phone.

    His company was a rather large account, so I told him I'd be there as soon as I could. It was raining (naturally), so instead of one of the bikes I drove the Taurus SHO. 40 minutes (ish) later, I arrrived (don't try this at home, unless you know those roads).

    I discovered that said CEO was a) legless, and b) had managed to actually fire up the genset, but couldn't figure out the simple transfer switch. I had even labeled it "Genset/OFF/PG&E" ... He was flipping it between OFF and PG&E when I arrived. Somehow the concept of a three position switch eluded him, despite having been walked through the simple procedure not a month prior.

    I stopped doing personal favors for corporate clients after that, no matter how lucrative.

    1. wyatt

      Re: Palo Alto to Halfmoon Bay. 1AM.

      Company I work for got screwed by a large client, did some work for free on the believe that a large support contract was coming our way. Unfortunately the account manager didn't think to put a clause into the work so that if we didn't get said contract it'd be invoiced to them.

  8. BeerTokens

    Stolen Focus

    In the days of Office 95 one of the minor bugs of clippy is that it and other notifications would steal focus from the current window. Leaving users sat there wondering why they couldn't type anymore. Unable to resolve this on their own they would sit mumbling until someone near by would help. This would be resolved by leaning over and click on the word doc they had open.

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: Stolen Focus

      I still occasionally find myself typing away not realising I was in another program with no open windows.

      1. John Riddoch

        Re: Stolen Focus

        Similar issue - the target window has focus, but it's in a Citrix session in another monitor; the citrix session doesn't have focus... "Real" focus is actually another window in another monitor on my local PC....

        1. Boothy

          Re: Stolen Focus

          We still have focus stealing issues on our corporate Windows machines.

          Seems some numpty a few years back created a process for building custom patches. These were pushed to machines and run, to do tasks that really should be done via better tools!

          The issue, despite not having a GUI or even a tray icon, these 'patches' stole focus the moment they ran!

          To the end user, it just meant you lost focus on whatever you were doing! The amount of times I'd be writing an email, or a document, and realise nothing was actually going into the editor.

          Once I tracked down the issue (a background service that was doing the downloading and running) I just disabled the service (it wasn't locked down!). I would just periodically start it up, to let it do it's thing whilst I was away from the PC.

        2. R J

          Re: Stolen Focus

          Running it seamless? You might want to give this a try https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX140095/

          My guess is you won't run into the problem if it isn't a seamless session. That is, provided it is the problem I think it is.

          Also, I've seen these reg-settings help out:

          HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop\ForegroundFlashCount - REG_DWORD - 0

          HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop\ForegroundLockTimeout - REG_DWORD - 0

          There's also a whole range of problems with some of the semi-new receiver versions. Either stick with the old ones (around 12.x) or the newer ones (from 4.6 and onwards).

    2. Shady

      Re: Stolen Focus

      I used to have a fully pimped out Amiga 1200 - PowerPPC accelerator, Permedia 2 graphics card, 4 gigabyte hard drive - it absolutely ran circles around my mates early Pentium with 3DFX2...... If the accelerator hadn't burned out, forcing me to break 'er up for spares, I'd probably still be using it today, even if only for minor tasks.

      One of the design guidelines was that a notification or alert should never steal focus, and combined with other features it was a lovely, fluid UI to use.

      Focus stealing on Windows still utterly, utterly, pisses me off to this day. It's just plain rude.

      Serious question - can anyone recommend any utility / setting to prevent this on a Windows PC, that won't install browser plugins / ad bars / mining software alongside it?

      1. BeerTokens

        Re: Stolen Focus

        Now you mention it it is still an issue, think I have just gotten used to it.

        Just remembered that I have had to turn 90% of the features of my CTI client off because, if the phone rang and I was working on some text I would always inadvertently answer the phone by pressing return. Now in order to see you is calling I need to alt-tab to the window before answering the phone which is about as useful as a chocolate fireguard!

      2. gotes

        Re: Stolen Focus

        Drives me absolutely nuts! Especially when typing a password.

        1. Nick Kew Silver badge

          Re: Stolen Focus

          That'll be when you find you typed your password into your favourite IRC channel.

          Bonus points for a root password.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Stolen Focus

          Grrrr, that's one of my biggest annoyances at the moment. The mobility connection to the work network requires two factor authentication but citrix comes up for login as I'm entering the second part not every time but enough to piss me off and don't get me started on trying to work out how long it takes from receiving the text to pressing enter on the keyboard, if you ever needed a random value that would be perfect.

      3. Paul Shirley
        WTF?

        Re: Stolen Focus

        Win10 has gone beyond the focus stealing problem by randomly opening important dialogs behind other windows on the desktop! Confusion guaranteed every bloody time.

      4. Chris 125

        Re: Stolen Focus

        Oh, absolutely.

        What Permedia2 card by the way? I too had a pimped 1200 of similar spec but can't for the life of me think who was making Amiga cards with that chipset. Or did you have a PCI Busboard?

        Anyway. Focus stealing becomes even worse on Windows when some idiot writes an app that pops up a requester and the WORST POSSIBLE ACTION is the default choice. So you're tapping away in Outlook, and something pops up and says "Do you wish to format your hard drive and all connected network drives? [YES] [no]" just as you hit the spacebar which naturally chooses default settings.

        1. Baldrickk Silver badge

          Re: Stolen Focus

          Anyway. Focus stealing becomes even worse on Windows when some idiot writes an app that pops up a requester and the WORST POSSIBLE ACTION is the default choice. So you're tapping away in Outlook, and something pops up and says "Do you wish to format your hard drive and all connected network drives? [YES] [no]" just as you hit the spacebar which naturally chooses default settings.

          Urgh, yeah. Ran into that the other day. Was directory diving on a file server, went to hit ENTER to er... enter a directory. My finger caught the DELETE key on the way. Cue the creation, and immediate dismissal (as my finger finished it's journey to the ENTER key) of the "Are you sure you want to pernamently delete this" confirmation. Of course the default is "Yes", isn't it...

          Turns out that said file server only has backups for a small part of the filesystem on it, and the vanished directory was not included.

          Oops.

        2. Shady

          Re: Stolen Focus

          Blizzard Vision by Phase 5, attached to a PPC 603e / 68060, 8 meg of EDO for the accelerator, driving a (very expensive) Mitsubishi truly flat CRT at 1280x1024 non-interlaced.

          MUI looked amazing. Photogenics, Imagine 4 and Tornado 3D were fantastic, and Quake was... responsible for many late nights.

          I made my student loan go a very, very long way, along with a seemingly (at the time) limitless credit card

  9. Triggerfish

    Engineer

    UPS problem, SCO running on pc servers as back end to a shop Contract field tech on 3 times my first level support spod salary, gets to the site late for no good reason, (and I worked in one of the call centres that expected you to stay till the job was solved, while treating you like scum), so already half hr past when I am supposed to leave. Calls me, first words are "So I have two boxes in front of me, which one is a UPS?", He reported me because I swore.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That farmer...

    Hah! I'm suspect that said farmer is in fact my father in law. He's got fingers the size of sausages, and often has to type on the computer using a pen as a stylus to poke the keys, in order to only press one key at a time.

    He needed some pics (for an insurance claim) and used his feature phone, but couldn't locate the data cable. After being unable to get one at the local* phone mart, he purchased another cheap feature phone, got the chap in the shop to swap the SIMs and posted the phone to the insurer.

    He also found it very amusing. He's also got a "for the elderly" feature phone now which has buttons he can hit one at a time with a finger. His thumb tends to hit two or more at the same time still :)

    * about an hours drive each way from the farm

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: That farmer...

      To be honest, it seems like a fairly sensible solution to me, at least for the non-tech user. At least it got the photos to where they needed to be.

      Brings to mind what my old syshack at uni used so say back in those days of wet string 56K (and slower) modems and file transfers - "never underestimate the data transfer rate of an estate car with a boot full of CDs" (this being back in the day before writeable DVDs and easily removable hard drives of any useful size).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That farmer...

        Well i can reveal for you , safely under the cover of the anonymous tickbox , that right now , in 2017 , soon to be 2018 :

        There is a part of the NHS in southern Wales that has to regularly transfer pictures to another NHS site in Northern England.

        They do this using a 1.4mb 3.5" floppy disk and the Royal Mail - you know , the ones with the red vans and sacks full of paper in envelopes?

        It would not surprise me to find out that the copy of the image on the floppy is the only copy - because that's what people who use floppy disks do.

        1. Boothy

          Re: That farmer...

          Many moons ago (mid 90s) I worked for a company that provided data conversion services, for getting things like bulk extracts of customer data (postal addresses etc) out of existing platforms, and imported into new ones. (Such as when moving from one customer management system to another).

          One of my old managers had a standard letter, that was sent to new clients, providing details of this customer data migration services. With various options of how to get the data to us, both format and medium.

          This included things like kermit, zmodem and FTP over dial-up, plus floppy disks, CDs, or hard-drives via courier etc.

          Against each data transfer option, he listed max speed, and latency.

          So for example, modems would be something like 56 kbit/s and 150ms.

          He listed floppy disks, CDs and HDs down as effectively limitless bandwidth, but a latency of several days! :-)

        2. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

          Re: That farmer...

          what does the recipient of the 1.4 Mb (respect, 720K in the good old days) floppy do with it?

          1. stephanh Silver badge

            Re: That farmer...

            "what does the recipient of the 1.4 Mb (respect, 720K in the good old days) floppy do with it?"

            Punch holes in it and put it in a binder. Of course.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: That farmer...

              "what does the recipient of the 1.4 Mb (respect, 720K in the good old days) floppy do with it?"

              Pin it to the wall of their cube. Of course.

      2. Alan J. Wylie

        Re: That farmer...

        The original quote is by Tanenbaum: "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway".

        +1 any way for beating me to it.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: That farmer...

          Yup , still relevant today:

          xkcd

        2. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

          Re: That farmer...

          Obligatory xkcd.

        3. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: That farmer...

          @Alan J. Wylie

          and +1 back for the education on the original source... :)

        4. the spectacularly refined chap

          Re: That farmer...

          If memory serves Tanenbaum was himself quoting an old adage, certainly variations on the theme have floated around for decades. About 20-25 years ago I was involved with SCO quite heavily. Admittedly that itself probably doesn't predate his reference but the quote used in the SCO community was "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a motorcycle courier with a DAT tape".

          You did get push back of course even among sysadmins. I do recall a post on one of the newsgroups to the effect of "What's the best way to transfer 1.5Gb of data across town each day?" When he got the standard answer he responded "I was looking for serious suggestions".

          Remember, this was twenty years ago. When it was pointed out a T1 connection would easily run to five figures annually he went oddly quiet.

          1. Grant Fromage

            Re: That farmer...

            It goes way back, and the tech is ensconced in the wording. 75 or there-abouts : people brag about fast data connections, but the highest data transfer rate attainable today remains a boy on a bicycle with a diskpack.

            ( when they were megs not gigs). Introduction to compsci from open university IIRC.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: That farmer...

            "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a motorcycle courier with a DAT tape"

            An MoD site's system was being upgraded. Its data exchange link with other site was nested layers of different protocols. Apparently the upgrade budgets for each site rarely happened at the same time - so legacy handling had to be built in.

            The most ancient layer turned out to be 5 track Telex encoding - and the customer also wanted the new system to be capable of reading/writing physical 5 track Telex tape. When asked why this was needed - the answer was: "A dispatch rider might be dying of radiation poisoning - but the tape in his backpack will still be readable"

            1. H in The Hague Silver badge

              Re: That farmer...

              “The most ancient layer turned out to be 5 track Telex encoding.”

              That takes me back a decade or three! Had a client with an oil rig which sent production reports by telex, which they received on a PC with a telex card. They asked me to write a bit of software to get the telex reports into a spreadsheet. Problem was, the telex character set didn’t include the comma, so they used full stops as both decimal points and thousands separators in numbers :( Due to the variable content of the reports you couldn’t reliably figure out which character it had to be.

        5. jake Silver badge

          Re: That farmer...

          This quote is often attributed to Tanenbaum, circa 1996.

          However, when I was at Stanford, early one Saturday morning a Grad student drove to Berkeley on his motorcycle & came back with tapes of the over-night build of 3BSD. Our Professor, visiting from DARPA for a couple weeks/months (a dude by the name of Cerf, you may have heard of him), wondered how the hell our VAX had the latest version of BSD already running (10AM-ish), when the Switched56 connected source code system hadn't completed the download of the source, much less started to compile it.

          Biker's answer: "My motorcycle's latency might be sub-par, but it still has a much higher bandwidth capability than your network!". Cerf's reply? "Nice hack!" ... this was early 1980, maybe late 1979.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: That farmer...

            In South Africa a government department had just installed the latest Remote Job Entry terminal in a satellite office about a mile away - with a state of the art 2400bps modem.

            This proved no match for the established transport system for cards and printer output - a man on a bicycle with a large front basket like grocers/butchers used to use for deliveries.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: That farmer...

            In order to get a new emergency system disk to Cape Town from Jo'burg - about 1200 miles - it was decided to send it on an SAA flight due to leave shortly. The disk pack was an 8MB replaceable - which was fairly bulky. Rather than risk the disk pack in the cargo hold - it was arranged for it to be put in the direct care of the pilot.

            Several hours later Cape Town complained the disk still had not arrived. It was found to be still on the plane - now sitting back at Jo'burg airport. The pilot had completely forgotten about handing it over.

          3. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: That farmer...

            However, when I was at Stanford, early one Saturday morning a Grad student drove to Berkeley on his motorcycle & came back with tapes of the over-night build of 3BSD.

            Tapes? I recall our company using punch cards and transferring them between sites via motorcycle. Right up until on fateful day when the motorcycle hit a pothole and box of cards flew off.... I don't think they ever found all the cards.

            1. Old69

              Re: That farmer...

              " I don't think they ever found all the cards."

              Operators loading a high speed card reader would take a handful of cards out of the user's tray at a time. The speed of loading depended on how big a handful was taken. There was a critical thickness where the uneven pressure of fingers on one edge of the pack would suddenly squeeze the centre ones out. In a chain reaction the rest would follow - all over the floor. It was then a case of reading the numbers to get the pack back in order. Usually the number was printed on the card - but sometimes a user had hand punched one.

              Worse still was when the back end of a full tray was balanced over the edge of the work surface. As the cards were removed from the front of the tray the tipping point would suddenly be reached. The whole tray would somersault to the ground - scattering its contents across the floor.

              One very high speed card reader had vertical hoppers. There was a heavy block to stop the cards as they reached the output hopper. The block allowed the cards to accumulate into a vertical stack underneath it. When the reader stopped - the block was removed so that the read cards could be extracted. Forgetting to put the block in the hopper before pressing start would result in a veritable fountain of flying cards.

          4. Olivier2553 Silver badge

            Re: That farmer...

            When I came to work in Thailand, in 1993, I made sure to take as many tape cartridges that I could, with all possible software distributions I could find. I new the system would be the same at both old and new place and that it would save me days of transfer on our then 19K internet connection.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

      4. ricardian

        Re: That farmer...

        Ah, good old Sneakernet

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sneakernet

    2. Fat_Tony
      Unhappy

      Re: That farmer...

      "Hah! I'm suspect that said farmer is in fact my father in law. He's got fingers the size of sausages, and often has to type on the computer using a pen as a stylus to poke the keys, in order to only press one key at a time"

      Had a guy like that where i worked a few years back. He was a bit on the rotund side and his fingers struggled with the keys on his Blackberry Curve. Usually had to replace his blackberry every 6 weeks or so because he forgot he had it in his arse pocket and sat on it.

  11. Johan Bastiaansen

    Tech support chap: The one connecting the computer to the printer.

    You guys sold him the entire system, set everything up, but didn't hook up the printer.

    You had one of these "ooh, I'm so smart" techie guys over there who just knows for sure he doesn't have to test or explain anything. Didn't you?

  12. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Meh

    Idiots...Idiots everywhere

    I work with a neanderthal guy who doesn't know what browser tabs are...He has a browser for each tab... One open in Firefox, one in Chrome, one in Opera... It's little wonder his computer runs so slow with all that CPU gobbled up.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Idiots...Idiots everywhere

      As far as I can tell, most users don't know what browser tabs are. They may be using them all the time, but not necessarily by choice. A bit like all those Chrome installs that just magically happened, and suddenly became default browser...

      How many times have I wondered how slow a friend's browser was when launched, only to look up and see that it was starting with 15 tabs at once, some from sessions a year ago that were being re-opened every time, but never looked at...

  13. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

    Connecting the computer to the printer

    How I yearn for those days when all it needed was a cable.

    Compared to now trying to pair across a wifi network, with a dodgy home router that despite setting the printer up with a static IP keeps dropping it such that it can't be found on bonjour/mdns. Argh!

    1. Richard Gray 1

      Re: Connecting the computer to the printer

      But it has to be the correct cable..

      I know a customer that bought a nice shiny computer, monitor and printer but "had the printer cable"

      after the printer "not working" and being brought back in several times we got him to bring everything in and it worked fine (he didn't bring in the cable).

      When we finally got him to bring the cable in it looked like a few bits of wet string in a hosepipe.

      One (free of charge to get him out of the store) bi directional LPT printer cable later and everything was sorted

  14. Miss Lincolnshire

    Maestro 2 to Windows 3.1 upgrade

    Eons ago, when I was a Cobol programmer for the then Inland Revenue, my team leader raised a ticket on his brand new PC because the cursor on his VME portal window had disappeared so he was unable to logon to the Dev machine with a frozen screen.

    Three days of support later a junior colleague, fresh out of training, casually picked up the boss's mouse, went to the Clock icon, right clicked, un-ticked "always on top" and voila!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Office 2000 rollout

    I was involved in the rollout of Office 2000 (and replacement of some older hardware) for a national road management government department who shall remain nameless. Part of the spec was to change the Office assistant on every install from Clippit to Links, the cat...

    1. M E H
      Windows

      Re: Office 2000 rollout

      I used to change mine to that wizard playing with the water melon.

      I didn't think there was anything "American Pie" about what he was doing. I just used to find it quite incongruous.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Office 2000 rollout

        "I didn't think there was anything "American Pie" about what he was doing."

        A water melon sounds quite hard. Now a nice warm apple pie - or a piece of raw liver...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iPads

    In the early days of iPads coming out, the CEO of my firm decided he wanted one and that this would be how we would do all his work. Until he tried to print (which they didn't do in those days). "I want it to print" says the boss. "It won't..." say I, trying to explain the system did not do this. "Well I want it to print and you're not doing a very good job...". I said nothing. What could you say? I'm sure there was probably an arcane workaround but, let's just say this is the guy who insisted in telling people that part of his email address was in capitals. You know the sort. There is no way he would have coped with anything other than a big red button to press.

    He then admitted that he could benefit from some iPad training too, so over the next few days at considerable expense found an expert in iOS from Northern Ireland in the support company we were working with and flew him in. On the day, I get an incensed boss phoning me saying: "I don't need training, I just want it to print"... and they turned the expert away.... He then went on to reference this whole episode in my review, saying I was not providing good enough support and denied me a pay-rise (which I would otherwise had got) as a result.

    I got the last laugh though as the CEO went on a power trip and started spending money... inappropriately..... I whistleblew, he made me redundant, and as a result of my whistleblowing then he and the FD got sacked for £300K's worth of improper spending, two directors stood down and after my lawyers had finished with them, I got compensation for unfair dismissal. Ah, Happy days.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: iPads

      "after my lawyers had finished with them, I got compensation for unfair dismissal."

      I take it you're one of those smart enough to keep a paper trail. Well done.

    2. tinman
      Pint

      Re: iPads

      bortaS bIr jablu'DI' reH QaQqu' nay'

  17. Salestard

    Mobile Phone Usage

    Even us salesgits have to deal with this kind of stuff... [Scooby-Doo fade out] Mobe operator, managing a large Merchant Bank, phone rings..

    Unreasonably angry Finance Director on the phone. Suffering from what Mobe Ops call 'Bill Shock'. The shock of one of his user's bills has made him extremely cross because it contains four figures and begins with the number 5. Calmed him down slightly, and turns out the user in question is the Marketing Director, thus a super-user, and consequently his roaming abroad isn't limited.

    After discussing how it was possible he could incur £5ks worth of roaming, we conference in the director's PA to check where he was during the course of the month - Ireland, Canada, US, and Caribbean. Ever the helpful account manager, I decide to do an impromptu run-through for them both on how to run a report on the billing portal, where to find the user, drill down to data usage, and then to site details.

    "...and you see the numbers? They're IP addresses, which is the unique identifier for a website. So copy that number, let's take that one at the top as that's showing heavy usage. Right? So paste that into the address bar and hit enter".

    At about the moment the words 'hit enter' passed successfully from my brain to my vocal chords, my brain generated another rather excellent thought, albeit a minute or two later than would have been ideal. That thought was 'you should have really checked that IP before getting the FD and Marketing Director's PA to put it in a browser'. The feminine gasp and muttered 'jesus christ' down the line told me that the bank wasn't running a content filter.

    We kinda laughed about it much, much later - after the offender had been dismissed for downloading pr0n onto his company 3G iPad, whilst abroad. Not sure his PA ever recovered from the shock though.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Mobile Phone Usage

      Not quite the same level, but an acquaintance of mine let his son use his work phone to watch YouTube videos over Xmas, forgetting that he had switched off WiFi when charging and was on mobile data instead. Thankfully was capped, but did put a fair dent in his next lot of wages.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mobile Phone Usage

        IIRC people with ISDN started getting large bills when the protocol configuration chose "keep-alive" ACKs for when a connection went idle.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Mobile Phone Usage

          IIRC people with ISDN started getting large bills when the protocol configuration chose "keep-alive" ACKs for when a connection went idle.

          We had a small client that relied on a 3Com 3C891 ISDN router for the internet needs with autodialing upon egress traffic. Everything worked fine until I built them a new computer and installed Windows 98 - with automatic updates. Cue furious business owner.

  18. Vagnerr
    WTF?

    But we sent the file!!!!

    I used to work at a company that did batch data processing for many large financial institutions, and occasionally they would fail to send us the files. So it was part of our job to call their technical teams to chase the missing data.

    On one occasion the user was quite insistent that they had sent the file to us and it must be our fault. Their evidence?

    * an image scan

    * ... of a photocopy

    * ...... of a fax

    * ......... of a windows screen shot ( win95 possibly even earlier )

    * ............ of an open file explorer window containing the file they had saved to their desktop

    A+ for effort, but nope that's not what "sent" means :-)

  19. philthane

    Your software doesn't do metric

    I used to be support manager for a company that supplies CAD/CAM software to the education sector. Rather than provide complicated 'locale' settings the developers had decided to have the application check the Windows settings and used the preferred units set there. We'd regularly have teachers berate us for using inches when 'anyone should know that schools have used metric in D&T lessons for years'. A surprising number of school PCs were set to default to inches. Probably still are.

  20. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    True honest

    I was working late and nobody else around in the office. On my way out I saw the CEO standing in front of the shredder looking puzzled. I asked if he needed help and he replied yes please as this is a very important document. I showed him how to use the machine and he was quite pleased as it whirred into operation and the document fed in. Not so good when he then said "That's great but actually I need two copies could we do it again?"

    Not really but it's a brilliant story...

  21. Bucky 2

    Mechanics

    I do wonder if mechanics have to deal with people who not only don't realize that tires have to be kept inflated, oil changed, fuel tank full, and so on, but who also feel insulted should anyone suggest that they learn these things about their own car.

    I can handle the ignorance. It's the astounding sense of entitlement that sets my teeth on edge.

    1. ma1010 Silver badge

      Re: Mechanics

      They do, I know. In my salad days (long ago), I was one.

      This guy had his Mustang towed in and was going on a total rant about what a POS it was, letting him down when he needed to go someplace, etc., etc. While he ranted, my boss had taken the air cleaner and distributor cap off and saw that the points (told you it was long ago) were totally burnt out. The contact point on the moving arm was pretty much GONE, not just worn or pitted. Wonder why it didn't work?

      My boss looked at him and said, "You know, this is a good car, and if you had just taken proper care of it, it wouldn't have let you down! It's not the car's fault; it's the maintenance it didn't get that's to blame for your problems." He then explained in detail to him about points and why they need replacing, along with other items. After the car was repaired with new points, condenser, cap, rotor, spark plugs and wires, it ran great.

    2. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Mechanics

      I do wonder if mechanics have to deal with...

      I used to use that as an analogy to help people understand why I would get a bit short with them if they did something "dumb" with the computer - you know, complaining the printer's broken when it's actually not "online" or is out of paper, moaning that updating the spreadsheet takes hours, when they've hard-coded (say) VAT at 15% into every single calculation and need to change it to 17.5% (that dates me!), handing me a floppy disc encrusted with dried-on hot chocolate because "it doesn't work for some reason and contains the only copy of that database"(*). And these, not (always) from general office staff who were just shown how to switch the computer on and expected to get on with it; the spreadsheet one in particular was from a user who had just been on a three-day Excel training course!

      Imagine, I used to say, that you have just passed your driving test and after a week or so of driving quite successfully to work your car conks out. When the AA man finally arrives, he diagnoses lack of petrol. "But I never had to put petrol in my instructor's car!"

      Sounds stupid - who on earth could own a car and not know that it needs fuel to run?

      There comes a time for all people who do "IT support", be it as an official job or just because "well, you know about computers, don't you?" when they realise that these stories they have always considered to be urban myths - things not plugged in, the mouse that can't go further across the desk, the computer not working in a power cut, the black-and-white logo scanned at 24bits and 600dpi and emailled to everyone in the entire group in the days of MS Mail running on (at best) Windows 3.11 with 4Meg and inter-site communications via 14k4 modems from a mail server with a '286 and 40MB HDD are not actually myths, but absolutely true.

      <sigh>

      M.

      (*)I actually recovered nearly everything from that floppy by dint of extricating the actual disc (it was a 3.5"), running it under the kitchen tap and replacing it in the body of a sacrificial disc. I did ask the person why they hadn't called me as soon as they spilled the hot chocolate, instead of a fortnight later when they desperately needed the data, and as far as I remember there was not even an attempt at a satisfactory reply.

  22. chivo243 Silver badge
    Happy

    reminds me of the joke

    Downloading the internet, disk c: is almost full, please insert floppy into drive a: to continue

    Once had a user said the downloaded google, and it didn't work anymore... My reply was:

    "It was you!!? Google just called! Don't empty your trash!

  23. Mark 85 Silver badge

    I wonder if there's corellation here...

    Maybe it just me, but I've observed that the louder and more abusive a user is to the tech, the less said user either really knows or the less they pay attention to what we ask them to do. Screaming about "of course I did that, I'm not an idiot" followed by appropriate slurs. When you show up at the desk, they start all over again only even more abusive and louder. Plug in the device, or press the appropriate key and suddenly silence and occasionally a red face. Been more than a few that I would love to have taken out back and introduce them to a roll carpet, a bag of quicklime and some duct/gaffer's tape.

    1. 2Fat2Bald

      Re: I wonder if there's corellation here...

      if anyone is rude to me, I just walk off. don't care who they are, I'm not paid for that.

  24. MrBurbs66

    Where is my office?

    At our school this year we started to insist teachers and support staff put an Out of Office message on their email when they are off sick or on leave.

    One teacher on returning from sick leave had not turned off her Out of Office, which was noticed by a manger who promptly emailed the said teacher to let her know.

    The teacher was apparently confused though....

    "Hi Lucy, Your out of office is still on. Regards Sue."

    "Hi Sue, Thank you kindly for the information but I don't know what you mean. Please could you explain where my office is or do you mean my classroom? Regards Lucy"

    We have been giggling about that one since September :)

    1. DustyP

      Re: Where is my office?

      Back in the '70s, I had a user who was going on holiday with his girlfriend from a different company. His girlfriend had put an 'away from office' message on her email. The guy did as well before leaving for two weeks in the sun and sending an email to the girlfriend saying that he was just leaving.

      When he got back, his inbox was full of 'Re:Away from office - Just leaving' messages, 'Re:Re:Re:' etc. received every few seconds.

      I soon replaced the POA with one that recognised replies replies to replies anf ignored them.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Where is my office?

        POA in the '70s? New one on me. What were you using as your MTA?

  25. steamdesk_ross

    See that arrow on the screen? You can move it with the mouse.

    So move it up, up there. Up!...

    [bemused as to why the cursor was just wiggling around a tiny bit and not going up the screen I finally looked down and saw that the user was raising the mouse in the air...]

  26. steamrunner

    PCMCIA Adaptors

    "These laptops had combo PCMCIA cards that provided LAN and 56K modem ports, and required a dongle for the LAN portion," Jim explained.

    Oh G*d. Flashbacks. *breathes into paper bag*... Keep calm, keep calm...

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019