back to article If this laptop is so portable, where's the keyboard, huh? HUH?

Welcome again to On-Call, in which The Register tries to liven up Fridays with reader-contributed stories of tech support traumas. This week, meet "Norman" who just last year took a frankly astounding support call at the law firm where he then worked. "One of my users called to complain about her upgrade from an old desktop …

  1. whitepines Silver badge
    Windows

    So, a product of the modern smartphone and tablet generation then? Thinks that PC in the corner is just that thing you use for work, and hasn't seen a laptop before?

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      There is a trope in the law where lawyers feel all they have to know about is the law. Everything else is fed to them by juniors for individual cases, put in working memory for a while then forgotten. They are defiantly ignorant and proud of it.

      I remember an older female lab head who, this century was forced by the march of time to upgrade her computer. Her collection of 4" floppies, actually floppy had to be transferred for her. I think she was on Lotus notes and had to learn Word. We felt for her. We tried to persuade her it would be the same learning curve to get a Mac like the rest of the lab had (and all the equipment, microscopes etc) but she wasn't brave enough. The devil you know.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Doctors are the same way. God forbid you ask the bastard to have to log in. And remember a password. And all that complicated computer stuff.

        Plus most of them aren't really any good at the doctorin' stuff, even if it's something simple like a broken bone.

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          "Doctors are the same way. God forbid you ask the bastard to have to log in. And remember a password. And all that complicated computer stuff."

          My GP was the one who agitated for the health trust to use Linux, the one who periodically has to get into the router to disable the parental protection because some numpty in the outsourced IT department keeps trying to set the routers up as for schools. He also trains other GPs.

          1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

            Yah know, to listen to you guys, you'd think the only stuff worth knowing was computer stuff, and anyone who doesn't understand computer stuff must automatically be, like, yah know, an idiot, and computer guys are gods who know everything that's worth knowing.

            Do we really have to deride others because they don't know what we know? There are lots of things that we don't know too and we are probably being mocked right now by people who know the stuff that we don't. You want to be better people? Then stop doing what they are doing and stop mocking them...if you don't then you're just as dumb...Or, no one is dumb and we are just all the same; we know some stuff and everything else is a mystery. The superior people are those that do not mock because they know that together we know everything, and apart we know bugger all.

            1. DropBear Silver badge

              "Do we really have to deride others..."

              YES. Oh yes, we absolutely do. Not knowing how the Carnot cycle applies to your car's engine is a non-issue unless you're the one designing the damned thing. But if your work involves driving yet you can't tell me how many pedals are in your car so you need a chauffeur to get around, I'll laugh you out of existence without the slightest bit of remorse.

              1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

                "Not knowing how the Carnot cycle applies to your car's engine is a non-issue unless you're the one designing the damned thing."

                Especially as cars tend to run on Otto or Diesel cycles. A car trying to run on the Carnot cycle would be very slow indeed due to the extremely low power to weight ratio of Carnot cycle engines.

                What is important is knowing the key interfaces between different areas of technology. If you want to use a laptop you need to know how to use a laptop, the most basic fault finding, and how to use the programs you'll be running. The same with cars. The problem comes with all the people who want to get by without having to learn the essential interfaces, because they don't see why they "should" have to.

              2. Nolveys Silver badge

                Not knowing how the Carnot cycle applies to your car's engine is a non-issue...

                I completely disagree. I had a car a while ago that leaked oil like crazy. I left it too long and the next thing I knew I was in a car not cycle.

              3. Shadow Systems Silver badge

                At DropBear, re: the number of peddles.

                You've evidently never seen a car modified for someone that *can't* use the standard foot controls & has to use hand controls instead.

                It's amusing as hell to watch the look on some attempted car theif's face when they get in & realize there's no bloody peddles.

                "What the fuck? How the hell am I supposed to drive it if there's no peddles? What kind of piece of shit IS this thing?"

                It's not a piece of shit, it's been made accessible to someone for whom a wheelchair is a requirement.

                My ex GF had such a car due to her spina biffida. She couldn't walk, but she could still drive using the hand controls. She never bothered to lock her car since 99% of the car theives out there "wouldn't have a fuckin' clue". And she was right, her car finally got stolen by some inventive bastard, only to get recovered a couple of streets away as they had been unable to manage a simple traffic circle.

                So don't berate someone for assuming a car "has" to have foot peddles at all, that's not always the case.

                Now go enjoy a pint on me, I'll be the guy in the corner playing Pole Position on the sit down arcade game. =-)p

              4. Slef

                Just out of interest how do you think that the carnot cycle relates to the internal combustion engine?

            2. Paul Shirley

              I suppose if you haven't used a coffee shop, pub/bar during daylight hours or train, watched very little TV, only watched 20+ year old films you might just have missed seeing a laptop in use. We'd probably be too busy wondering how you accidentally fell into our century to deride anything ;)

              1. DuncanLarge Bronze badge

                "only watched 20+ year old films"

                Lol you should go much further than that. Laptops were everywhere back in the late 90's.

            3. smudge Silver badge
              Boffin

              Yah know, to listen to you guys, you'd think the only stuff worth knowing was computer stuff, and anyone who doesn't understand computer stuff must automatically be, like, yah know, an idiot, and computer guys are gods who know everything that's worth knowing.

              Dear Geoffrey,

              Please scroll up to the top of this page. Now read out what it says in the red rectangle, under the big word "Register".

              It says "Biting the hand that feeds IT".

              That's what this site is about.

              Come back when you understand that.

              1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

                RE: "It says "Biting the hand that feeds IT".That's what this site is about. Come back when you understand that"

                Oh, I know all that. I've been here for ages. I felt like biting you lot, so that's alright then? Ta!

            4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              "Yah know, to listen to you guys, you'd think the only stuff worth knowing was computer stuff, and anyone who doesn't understand computer stuff must automatically be, like, yah know, an idiot, and computer guys are gods who know everything that's worth knowing."

              I drive a car. I don't do it for a living and it's a long time since I was able to do stuff like take the head off and reseat the valves (MGBs were nice to work on). Nevertheless I need to know where all the controls are and what they do. I also need to know which side of the road to drive on, what the various road signs etc. mean.

              Back in the day I used to be a laboratory scientist. I needed to know things like how to set up a microscope, how to balance the tubes in a centrifuge etc.

              In short, I, like everyone else need to know enough (NB enough, not everything) about the tools I use to be able to use them. Why should it be different when the tool in question is a computer, especially when it's being used as part of one's job?

              1. MJI Silver badge

                Engines

                I have dismantled a few

                Rootes 1600s inclduing tuning.

                A few bike engines.

                A GM V6 with quad cams.

                Haven't needed to do much to my current cars lump yet, all I know is that the head is heavy despite being aluminium, and does not have a full set of glow plugs by design.

                1. Trygve Henriksen

                  Re: Engines

                  I did a partial rebuild of the 1.4i (Citroën TU3JP4) in my car(new headgasket, two new cylinder sleeves, piston rings, big-end bearings, and even reseated the valves.) a while ago. Then replaced the rear axle assembly and recently swapped out the old clutch(full kit).

                  I there's an instruction book around I can probably fix it.

                  I think... I still haven't fixed the old PFAFF sewing machine I rescued at the dump.

                  (It just needs a thorough clean and adjusting. I have found a service manual, but then there's the time... )

            5. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
              Joke

              @Geoffrey W

              Do we really have to deride others because they don't know what we know? There are lots of things that we don't know too and we are probably being mocked right now by people who know the stuff that we don't.

              You know, every time when I'm visiting another company I always get laughed at by the receptionists when I pick up the pen and try to insert it into my ear, whilst simultaneously staring at the signing in book. When I ask them why their optical scanner doesn't work they all fall out of their chairs laughing.

              Well, one day the joke will be on them I tell you!

            6. This post has been deleted by its author

            7. Scoular

              It is a human power problem

              The basic problem is that when humans get into a position of power, lawyers, doctors or politicians and the very rich they all gradually assume that they are right - always right and cam do whatever they want.

              Hence the behaviour described here and also the failure of communism and now democracy. Both might have worked except for the fact that those who got to the top became unhinged and totally self absorbed.

              If we want to get the world stable we need to address this issue. For politics one possibility is shorter maximum terms. The complaint is that that does not give them time to get things done - precisely.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            '"Doctors are the same way. God forbid you ask the bastard to have to log in. And remember a password. And all that complicated computer stuff."

            'My GP was the one who agitated for the health trust to use Linux, the one who periodically has to get into the router to disable the parental protection because some numpty in the outsourced IT department keeps trying to set the routers up as for schools. He also trains other GPs.'

            I feel like being anonymous today... some medics are very tech savvy, after all, you need to be intelligent to qualify (or at least demonstrate a good memory), others less so because they rely on other people to do everything for them. I know of one who runs a home server and one who would tell everyone in their office their password as an alternative to remembering it.

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            "My GP was the one who agitated for the health trust to use Linux"

            My GP and I discuss the security aspects of smart card logins, the relative merits of various keyboard types and how cheap ones can make your hands hurt like hell due to the lack of cushioning at the end of keyboard travel (the relevance of this being that the NHS was supplying the cheapest possible keyboards for a while and staff were suffering joint problems)

            We even arranged shootouts of a bunch of models so that people could feel the differences. It killed the "A keyboard is a keyboard is a keyboard" arguments. (No, you don't need to spend £200, but a £14 Cherry G80 keyboard is far more comfortable and has a longer service life than a £3 Logitech one.)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Politicians too. Willfully ignorant.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Three groups I refuse to do IT work for:

            Doctors, Lawyers and Politicians.

            Life's too short, I have better things to do with my time.

            1. elDog Silver badge

              Re: Three groups I refuse to do IT work for:

              Totally agree with your three - I'm in a job with all three of these groups....

              I'd also throw in small mon&mom shops like booksellers who can squeeze a nickel down to a micron of its worth. I've wired many a shop and installed software/hardware and felt like I was ripping off their livelihood by even presenting an invoice. Getting paid in used remaindered books is not a fair trade.

          2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Politicians too.

            They're a "special" case...

            // as currently being demonstrated here in the colonies

          3. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "Doctors are the same way."

          In my student days I knew quite a few medical students. Ever since I've never been able to regard the medical profession with the expected degree of awe.

        4. Hollerithevo Silver badge

          Doctorin' stuff

          Really. Realy??? Most of the doctors in the NHS aren't really any good? How do you know? Are you extrapolating from more than one instance?

          My life and my partner's life have both been saved by GPs and hospital doctors. In my partner's case, it was a very non-obvious case of sepsis, and they worked like dogs to save her for three weeks, and did.

          I cannot buy that 'most doctors' can't doctor. That is simply ignorant.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Doctorin' stuff

            Well I could give the complete opposite story about the NHS with tragic consequences.

            Lots of doctors are ignorant but are well beyond the capability to recognise it in themselves.

        5. JohnArchieMcKown

          My doctor is fairly computer literate.

          I've seen him & his staff. The computers in the rooms are _not_ left logged on (most likely due to HIPPA laws). My doctor has _no_ trouble logging in and taking notes. He can even touch type! And, best of all, he's a really good doctor! Well, he's kept me going for quite a few years.

      2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        FOUR inch floppies? What on earth system was she using?

        1. jake Silver badge

          4" drives exist.

          Made by IBM. The drive was the Model 341, the floppies were called "Demi Diskettes".

          1. Trygve Henriksen

            Re: 4" drives exist.

            But only a few drives were ever sold back then, and even if the user in question actually DID use it, there's no way to make a more recent computer accept that drive.

            That said, if anyone happens to have one laying about... I wouldn't mind getting my clammy hands on it.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Coat

          FOUR inch floppies? What on earth system was she using?

          That was her last date, when he saw what he'd let himself in for.

          I'll get me coat.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That story, I've heard it before I may know who you're talking about, unless its common enough to happen fairly often.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        sister in law is a public service lawyer

        gets sent to international conferences etc.. highly skilled in her specific area. Only now learning how to use excel, and generally doesnt deal with day to day or what I would consider basic groundwork stuff. Someone else prepares that and provides it to her.

      5. Trygve Henriksen

        4" floppies?

        I have a number of 8", 5.25", 3.5", 3", and even a few Canon 2" VFs..

        But I have never ever seen a 4" disk.

      6. Andy Denton

        4" floppies!?!? Never come across disks of that size before. 8", 5.25", 3.5" and 3" yes, but never 4".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Reminds me of that dumb kid on the TV ad with an apple ipad, who's mum asks him what he's doing on the computer, and he replies "What's a computer".

      1. Avatar of They
        Happy

        I shout at the TV everytime at that bit. Stupid brat. (Though I thought it was a girl)

        1. BOFHfollower

          I thought it was a girl too, not that that makes any difference

      2. JimboSmith Silver badge

        What's a computer

        I'm pleased it's not just me who finds that advert bloody annoying. What is the school it's going to teaching students? The school my neice goes to has a computer studies room and I've seen posters on the wall asking and explaining what a computer is. So this isn't a universal problem.

    3. stopthebollocks

      Yeah, they conned us when they started making laptops, you try using the coffee cup holder now, its impossible, they removed the hole in the middle, spilled my coffee on the keyboard many times and had to buy a new one ;-)

  2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Obligatory pedantic quibble...

    ...This week, meet "Norman" who just last year took a frankly astounding support call at the law firm where he then woked....

    Well, I suppose if someone calls you at work, waking up is a good start....

    1. 's water music Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Obligatory pedantic quibble...

      ...This week, meet "Norman" who just last year took a frankly astounding support call at the law firm where he then woked....

      Well, I suppose if someone calls you at work, waking up is a good start....

      I dunno, with the systemic racial bias running through much of the criminal justice system I would applaud any employees' efforts to be more woke

    2. Havin_it

      Re: Obligatory pedantic quibble...

      No, you misunderstand. Norman was primarily the company cook, specialising in stir-frys.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obligatory pedantic quibble...

      Did he wake, or was he ....WOKEN!

      Is he now "Brother Norman"

  3. chivo243 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    classic!

    "ohhhh …. There's a keyboard in there…".

    At least she didn't go completely of the deep end and complain about "you should have told me sooner..."

    I'll be she has no clue what to do with 710 cap on the engine either?

    Paris, because the article was written for the icon

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: classic!

      What's a 710 cap ?

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: classic!

        Good question.

        I've seen plenty of 680nF and 820nF caps, and I suppose there's a 750nF one in the E24 series (but never seen one). 720 isn't in any series I know of.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: classic!

          I think, perhaps, the joke is now on us...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: classic!

        A 710 cap is on your engine. It's only seen clearly about 45 degrees of the time.

        1. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: classic!

          Yeah.. I've never come across a 4" floppy either. 3.5" and 5.25" yes, but never a 4".

          1. Francis Boyle Silver badge
            Coat

            <Looks in pants>

            Er, I'll have you know I'm a grower.

          2. John G Imrie Silver badge

            4" floppy

            They where a thing according to wikipidia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floppy_disk_variants#IBM_DemiDiskettes

            1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

              Re: 4" floppy

              Fits with the Lotus notes though (can't be bothered to see whether it was IBM owned at the time, but it would run on the hardware). Surely a piece for the museum?

          3. rmason Silver badge

            Re: classic!

            Specific IBM systems only. They were definitely a thing.

          4. graeme leggett

            Re: classic!

            Did you ever encounter the 3-inch floppy as used in Amstrad computers?

            1. Guy Geens

              Re: classic!

              Did you ever encounter the 3-inch floppy as used in Amstrad computers?

              Yes. On a Spectrum +3.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: classic!

                "Yes. On a Spectrum +3."

                Which was produced after Amstrad bough the Spectrum brand etc.

                I think the only other non-Amstrad computer I saw using 3" floppies was the Tatung Einsten. No doubt others did to, but I never saw any.

            2. John G Imrie Silver badge

              Re: classic!

              On an Amstrad PCW. My mum's first published book is still on one somewhere.

            3. Alistair Silver badge
              Windows

              Re: classic!

              my mom's office way back had 14 of those damned Amstrads.

          5. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: classic!

            As I recall some of the early IBM workstations (mid-70's?) used 6". I'm trying to recall but I remember seeing a 12" but I don't remember where or for what machine.

      3. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: classic!

        turn it over 710 - OIL !!

      4. MJI Silver badge

        Re: classic!

        Ever see M075 written on the roads?

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: classic!

          Ever see M075 written on the roads?

          Only when everyone else is driving in the wrong direction!

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: classic!

        I get the 710 part, but what's a "cap"? :/

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: classic!

      At least she didn't go completely of the deep end and complain about "you should have told me sooner..."

      A very good point. If her computer was being changed for something physically very different, a few minutes training during the install would not go amiss. Eg, here's the charger for when it's not in the dock. Here's how to remove it properly and safely from the dock etc. (some lock in place and have a physical eject button).

  4. Adam 52 Silver badge

    I am currently having a row with my IT department, who seem to think that a laptop screen and keyboard are suitable for someone who works full-time on a computer.

    I sent them the regulations and they've said that they'll see how things develop. Which I guess is code for "come back when you're crippled."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A colleague was diagnosed with an RSI on his mouse hand's thumb that was only going to get worse. A proper investigation by the H&S people - very commendable. Recommendations were made about alleviation - and for suitable "mouse" device solutions. When he retired several years later he was still going round the loop for the "mouse device solution" to be provided.

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        "mouse device solution" = Trackball!

      2. David Roberts Silver badge
        Windows

        RSI and mouse

        I was starting to suffer something similar and bought myself a Logitech ball mouse.

        Stickered it up as my property and took it with me when I left.

        Sometimes life is too short to fight the small stuff when your long term health is at risk.

      3. Nick Kew Silver badge

        RSI

        I had a crippling RSI some years back. Learned to use a mouse left-handed. And gave up some mouse-intensive ways of wasting time.

        It took quite a while - many months of often-severe pain - but the RSI went away. Now I can use a mouse (or a laptop device) with either hand. And perhaps most importantly, I know the early signs of RSI, and can modify my computing behaviour any time it threatens.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Conversely, I basically issue no laptops.

      Sorry, but I don't see how you can say both "I need dual monitors to do my job" and then "I need a laptop". They are both just a status symbol and mutually exclusive.

      To be honest, I can't justify a laptop for anyone, but I get overruled (always for the most senior staff, always for the ones who use the computers least, always for the ones who conveniently don't have a PC of their own at home...).

      At home, I have a gaming laptop because it's a monster and does everything - it's a luxury I couldn't afford for many years and is now getting on to 8 years old. I get my money's worth out of it, and it's portable because it comes on holiday with me, goes round mate's houses, etc. all the time. It's the "best compromise" between a powerful PC, a portable device and something to watch a movie on on a plane and load up to quickly check Facebook. But in work, I only ever use a real PC, or a remote session to a real PC inside the network from such a device.

      For work, I can't justify the expense, the fragility, the cost of repair, the potential of theft, the performance hit or the screen-size/docking station/extra mouse/extra screen on top of the cost of the laptop itself. I'm sure there are jobs where portability is required, and I tend to find they are issued Toughbooks etc. for a reason - 1) they look undesirable so there's no status symbol to having one, 2) nobody's going to bother to nick them, 3) when they drop, they usually survive and they are out in the harshest environments where you wouldn't want a flimsy tablet etc. But most office jobs aren't one that needs such access.

      You want a laptop? Fine. You get the cheapest junk possible and then in via RD to a real machine inside the isolated network. It's literally an access terminal. Because when you get into encryption, VPN, file sync, offline device/file protection (e.g. people sticking in USB sticks into it) etc. then an offline, disconnected machine is the worst possible thing to try to manage over just "load up the RD app on your iPad/tablet/laptop/PC/Mac/smartphone and go here".

      In a lawyer's office, especially, I would not want to manage the logistics of issuing a laptop that goes home with them with all kinds of stuff on it. With DPA case law, you have to be able to PROVE that it was encrypted if it's ever lost, you know - the NHS has been fined for being UNABLE to prove that a disk it sent through the post and lost was encrypted when it left the sender. That's easier said than done especially if some information leak happens in a serious case and the judge is breathing down your neck about it. I'm sure a lawyer understands that. And they use stuff like LexisNexus etc. all the time so they're used to using cloud and website services to get their job done.

      Sorry, but if I was a billionaire and owned a company just for fun and gave everyone a staff Lamborghini... you're still not getting a laptop for taking stuff home. I'll give you a way to access work if you need it - a cheap tablet with remote access. But a laptop that travels is the worst idea imaginable. "I want to take all the network home with me on a battery powered device and have it work like I never left the office". Nope. You'll take a screen home with you and look at your computer on your office desk instead.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        What rubbish. Everyone at Large Firm(TM) I work for uses laptops. They are not status symbols - reasonably powerful, but not ultra thin. Everything you mention has been sorted - they are encrypted, all data are synced, it's not possible to extract data via USB stick, and VPN software is built in and easy to use.

        The only criticism I'd make is that the keyboard is standard for a laptop i.e. not that good. Everyone at work uses a proper keyboard. Most people have at least one extra external monitor - I have two, as it is useful for dedicating one screen to specific applications (the third monitor is rather old, definitely not for status..).

        I've used multiple monitors for years. Everyone can increase productivity by moving to two monitors unless their main screen is unfeasibly large. Three monitors takes slightly more planning, but if one is rotated to portrait can be very useful. Beyond three it's difficult to see all the monitors at once.

        When taking it home the laptop gets put on a shelf, plugged into a KVM, and another monitor attached via Displayport. The only noticeable change from working in the office is trying to copy files over the network.

        1. rmason Silver badge

          I'm with Binky.

          Utter tosh. A decent (you know, business spec) laptop has all the performance of a desktop.

          Where does your cost saving work in the case of a disaster.

          I assume you have a spare PC sat about for every user, in an offsite location?

          No?

          That's a shame, all we need to do is make it clear to users they MUST take their laptops home with them. Our building could burn down today, and we'd be up and running within the hour. It's a small but crucial part of our DR strategy.

          Let me guess, you spend a *lot* of your time saying no to people, and telling them why they can't have or do what they are asking for, don't you?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            A desk of your own. Why?

            Like many people in the profession I spend a lot of time working across different offices, partner organisations and at home. We don’t have fixed desks, do use encrypted laptops with end point security and do have a software configuration management tool which can show the software has been installed and is switched on. The level of lockdown for ‘non technical’ roles can be a bit frustrating but we are backed up with a good service desk who can manage most installs remotely. The laptop comes home every night and yes that is our business continuity plan. We have multiple physically separated Data centres and the only paper I rely on is the current notebook Stuck into my laptop bag. Our VPN solution is non intrusive but secure so I can work from anywhere with a broadband connection. I have worked with Citrix, VDI and virtual pc solutions but they all cause licensing issues for some software and invariably a poorer user experience than a reasonable laptop with a decent broadband connection. And of course in my home office I do use a large monitor and separate keyboard and mouse

        2. Floydian Slip
          Boffin

          Concur

          I've been using twin screens (with a laptop) since about 2003. I struggle to be anywhere near as productive when out and about and am reduced to a single screen.

          When I set up on my own, I bought a decent PC (just upgraded) and since 2013 have been using a 3 screen arrangement, one of which is in portrait for working on A4 docs in a reasonable size.

          Was easy to achieve, an inexpensive dual-screen graphics card and the PC's VGA output play nicely together and Windows has a screen rotate facility inbuilt so I can have 3 x landscape or 2 x landscape and 1 x portrait with a swivel of the monitor and a couple of clicks

        3. terrythetech

          Terry Pratchett managed 6 monitors.

          “Why do I have six monitors?” he said. “Because I don’t have room for eight.”

      2. Fading Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Many years ago...

        The IT kit at work whilst not top of the range was pretty good with performance and functionality out of reach of most wage slaves. I now sit in the office with an aging nehalem i7 on a dead flesh Dell keyboard, a trackball older then the first iphone squinting at a 24 inch fat bezel 1080p monitor.

        That's why I prefer to work from home - the equipment is much better.....

      3. Peter2 Silver badge

        In a lawyer's office, especially, I would not want to manage the logistics of issuing a laptop that goes home with them with all kinds of stuff on it.

        Why not?

        As the IT Manager of a law firm i'd comment that as all case files are stored on the case management system and not on individual PC's, to access anything to do any work you have to remote in to our remote access server. Therefore, nothing sensitive is stored on the laptops even if they do get stolen.

      4. theN8

        "Sorry, but I don't see how you can say both "I need dual monitors to do my job" and then "I need a laptop". They are both just a status symbol and mutually exclusive."

        Oh no!! I best not admit that I'm typing this reply on my work issued Dell Lattitude E5470 with an i5, 16gb RAM and 500GB SSD - all hooked up to my triple 24" Dell U2414 displays. All secured by Bitlocker Encryption, with a work VPN configured as standard in Windows 10 - so when I finish for the day, I can simply un-dock it and take it home. Imagine that!!

        I'll get my coat, mines the one with the 2 tonne Dell power brick in the pocket...

      5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "In a lawyer's office, especially, I would not want to manage the logistics of issuing a laptop that goes home with them with all kinds of stuff on it."

        In a lawyer's office the logistics of providing a full size PC at the various courts they might have to attend would be even harder to manage.

        1. Nolveys Silver badge

          In a lawyer's office the logistics of providing a full size PC at the various courts they might have to attend would be even harder to manage.

          Sorry, our policy is to not provide laptops. However, you can take that desktop over there. It's tied to a dolly with a rope for your convenience.

          You'll also notice the deep cycle lead-acid battery and inverter. You'll need to detach the battery from the dolly, charge it and then put it back. The battery charger is permanently mounted on the top shelf of that cabinet over there.

          You'll have to lift the battery over your head, put it on the shelf, connect the leads and then turn on the charger. Be careful though, the battery is about 40kg. It was originally about 30kg, but I attached some bricks to the bottom to help prevent theft.

          You will need to provide your own monitor and keyboard. Company policy doesn't allow for people outside of IT to use mice.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Conversely, I basically issue no laptops.

        "Sorry, but I don't see how you can say both "I need dual monitors to do my job" and then "I need a laptop". They are both just a status symbol and mutually exclusive."

        I'm writing this from my Really Big Company (TM) work laptop, docked, using a full-size keyboard and dual external monitors. Frankly, all of the above are an absolute necessity. I'm one of the more computer- and tech-savvy people here (what do you expect from a Register reader?), and end up taking the laptop to a LOT of meetings, where I'm expected to be able to do work on it in real-time. Back at the desk, I *typically* have 8-12 windows open, and during much of the day need to look at one window while working in another one - hence the dual displays. None of this is a status symbol, and I'm definitely not "senior staff". Oh, and the laptop only goes home with me when I'm expecting to not be able to get to the office (e.g. blizzard), as I'm not supposed to work from home. Really Big Company (TM) doesn't even issue desktops to workers.

        (AC for obvious reasons.)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Conversely, I basically issue no laptops.

          "I'm writing this from my Really Big Company (TM) work laptop, docked, using a full-size keyboard and dual external monitors."

          Which is fine if you also use the laptop undocked. What annoys me is the waste of a setup like that where the laptop spends it's entire life docked and the lid is never even opened, which seems quite commonplace. For that, a desktop PC does the job with a much simpler setup, much lower embodied costs, and generally better performance and greater flexibility. (e.g. I have 2 ssds and a large trad HD in this one.)

          Laptops are still a set of compromises to achieve a particular form factor, weight and battery life, and the ergonomics are awful. No objection to laptops for those that need them, but they're things I use when I must, not through choice.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Conversely, I basically issue no laptops.

            "What annoys me is the waste of a setup like that where the laptop spends it's entire life docked and the lid is never even opened, which seems quite commonplace."

            Hot-desking?. In that case, however, thin clients might be even more to the point.

      7. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        They are both just a status symbol and mutually exclusive

        Rubbish. I have dual screens and a laptop (sometimes I work from home). When I'm working from home, I connect my laptop to my monitor at home to make sure I don't get eyestrain.

        In short, in my use-case, laptop and dual-screen is both usable and needed. And I'm very, very glad I don't work where you might have control over my equipment.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "And I'm very, very glad I don't work where you might have control over my equipment."

          And I'm equally glad I don't work where the laptops-only crowd hold sway.

        2. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

          Same here - twin monitors and full size keyboard in the office hung off an encrypted Yoga1 (the desk is shared with another, we just don't go into the office on the same days). At home I plug it into twin monitors and a full size keyboard too.

          No I don't close the lid - it's effectively a 3 monitor setup - 2x 22" monitors for work, laptop screen for distractions - I mean work related IM.

      8. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        I don't see how you can say both "I need dual monitors to do my job" and then "I need a laptop".

        Here I am, working on a laptop that has dual monitors, keyboard and mouse connected to it. The monitors are more-or-less essential for my job.

        When I have to do out-of-hours support, or when I work from home, I can carry the laptop home in my backpack and use the monitors etc that I have at home anyway. I can also use it on the train, where I connect to the company's secure VPN via a mobile hotspot. Neither would be possible without the laptop.

        This has been the usual arrangement in most of the companies where I've worked over the past five years. Fortunately, they haven't had an idiot like Lee D making the decisions.

      9. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Sorry, but I don't see how you can say both "I need dual monitors to do my job" and then "I need a laptop". They are both just a status symbol and mutually exclusive.

        I work remote, and have 2 external monitors (plus the wirelwss KB/mouse). Occasionally though I need to go to a customer site, and dragging around a desktop, monitor & all the accessories just wouldn't work. Yes, your regular permanently in-office staff (or even someone who was only working remote and never had to take their system with them) could readily work from a "desktop" type system. So not necessarily a "status symbol".

        Of course, many of your management types are probably better off with the desktop solution, if for nothing else it keeps them tied to their desk and away from people actually doing work.

      10. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Have you ever tried to lug a desktop computer out to a piece of automated equipment, plug in, tune the servo drives, load the program, and verify functionality? Oh, and same day, go back to doing CAD work at the desk, editing said programs, and needing to compare the programs to the drawings and the manuals to bring changes into all three?

        Laptops rule the day for field service techs/engineers, and very, very few engineers will want less than 2 monitors, due to productivity.

        Ask any competent programmer, and they will gladly have as many monitors as IT can give them, just so they don't need to switch between windows.

        Desktops/towers have their places, but laptops (more like mobile workstations) are actually a better fit for more businesses now. The built-in UPS is also a handy feature.

        1. onefang Silver badge

          "Have you ever tried to lug a desktop computer"

          Two desktop computers, one monitor, keyboard, mouse, assorted cables for them, three routers, one WiFi AP, and enough network cables for a large room full of geeks. In my large hybrid backpack, on the bus, every second Saturday. Sometimes would have to walk home if things lasted until after the buses stopped and I couldn't get a lift home.

    3. MrKrotos

      I am currently having a row with my IT department, who seem to think that a laptop screen and keyboard are suitable for someone who works full-time on a computer.

      I sent them the regulations and they've said that they'll see how things develop. Which I guess is code for "come back when you're crippled."

      I have read said regulations but see no mention of "laptop is no good for long periods", please share these regulations.

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        "please share these regulations."

        Certainly.

        http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l26.htm

        Which says:

        "Screen: stable image, adjustable, readable, glare/reflection-free Keyboard: usable, adjustable, detachable, legible"

        Now there might be laptops with adjustable screens and detachable keyboards (the original Compaqs had detachable keyboards, for example) but if they exist they are rare.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "glare/reflection-free"

          I was around, and teaching IT, when those regs first came in, so naturally, it was part of the job to teach the basics of regs as part of the course. Lots of companies suddenly started supplying anti-glare filters. And yet nowadays, so many screens, bot standalone and laptops, have highly polished glass fronts. On the other hand, it is, in many cases, easier to adjust so as to minimise glare and reflections because they are flat, rather than the convex curve of CRTs where it was almost impossible to avoid glare and reflections without a coating or add-on filter. I still see people sitting at a glass fronted screen with their back to the window and wonder what damage they are causing to their eyes/vision.

        2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          +1 to that.

          I need my keyboard within about six inches of my body - as that's the length of my forearms. I need my monitor about 18 inches away from my body - as that's where normal eyes focus comformtably for reading. Try doing that with a laptop.

    4. SirDigalot

      we too are 100% laptop

      Our entire company except maybe our National Sales Cold calling desk jockies.

      everyone else is on a less than 3 year old laptop, most are less than one year old, all desks are the trendy sit stand monstrosities, dual monitor, dock, keyboard, mouse, some people use the laptop monitor and the other 2 others just use the 2 monitors and keep the lid shut, it is honestly a lot easier to deal with, and when they play the desk shuffle game, they pick up their laptop and move to another desk no issue, no need to call IT to plug (the blindingly obvious) plugs back in to their colour coded holes either. Also when there is an extreme weather occurance such as hurricanes here in good old Florida, or 2 plus feet of snow in our northern offices people can easily work from home ( though they do complain a bit about working on one monitor or just the laptop, however we even gave out all our old 22 inch displays to the staff, for free when we had our floors rebuilt with the new swish desks and such.

      given that our company is a SaaS and most of the stuff they do (sans office apps) is in a browser a laptop is just peachy, especially since they all have m2 drives. The only big whiners, are the Devs because they want to put our entire SaaS platform that runs on beefy server pools and solid state superfast fibrechannel SANs on their laptops and wonder why it might be a bit "pokey"

      Laptops should be the way forward tbh for most companies

    5. Martin an gof Silver badge

      I am currently having a row with my IT department, who seem to think that a laptop screen and keyboard are suitable for someone who works full-time on a computer.

      I've often wondered the same thing about schools, where laptops and Chromebooks are almost ubiquitous for pupil use now. I believe these, along with the fact that schools refuse to teach touch-typing, are only hastening the day when our children have to retire from their desk-bound jobs due to avoidable RSI and related complaints.

      M.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        "I believe these, along with the fact that schools refuse to teach touch-typing, are only hastening the day when our children have to retire from their desk-bound jobs due to avoidable RSI and related complaints."

        Actually I had developed quite bad RSI by about 2008 when laptops with low profile keys and decent touchpads emerged.

        I do a lot of typing on a Chromebook without a mouse and have no RSI problems these days. As someone who once had to use real keyboards with heavy keys that went clonk, I say hurrah for progress.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "schools refuse to teach touch-typing"

        In this day and age, touch typing is like teaching someone to write properly instead of painstakingly writing everything out in BLOCK CAPITALS. It should be a required, basic skill taught alongside teaching them to read and write.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          re. my own past (touch-typing on a proper typewriter only at the age of 19), I got my both kids to learn rather early (7 & 9 years old). Mixed success. Funny, how my daughter, having learnt to use all her 10 fingers, I saw her using that 2-finger typewring neandertal salute. She giggled nervously, and said: but dad, I can type faster with two fingers. She knew this was a totally stupid declaration, and I stormed out in silent disgust. With younger son, I've had more success, but he's still not there, over the tip line. Once you cross that line, you're safe, you'll never go back to using two (...) fingers. Almost there...

          ...

          somehow I don't believe all that shit about voice control, given how much empty / hot air was released on the subject several years ago. Touch-typing, for now.

    6. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      God, I DESPISE those laptop keyboards.

      And, once you've had dual monitors, nothing else will serve. Especially the 4k 16:9 ones :-)

      1. 404 Silver badge

        'And, once you've had dual monitors, nothing else will serve. Especially the 4k 16:9 ones :-)'

        IDK, those big curved widescreens are pretty cool...

  5. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    Brilliant!!

    Perhaps she remembered those old "sewing-machine" portables of yesteryear. Remember those? Essentially a desktop machine with a poxy little 5" monitor mounted on the front (next to two 5.25" diskette stations) and a keyboard acting as lid? "Luggable" rather than "portable" at the best of times. If she had been presented with one of those, her complaint would have been justified.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Brilliant!!

      Ooooh, now I want a luggable.

      Looks classy and hip.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Luggable

        Do they meet the carry-on limits for Ryan Air?

        My friend's 17" doesn't!

        1. onefang Silver badge

          Re: Luggable

          Back in high school, I got to use one of the three IBM 5100 "portable" computers that circulated through all the schools in the state. It came with a bag that included a handle and a shoulder strap. I would wear the shoulder strap, grab the handle, and lean to one side to get that beast off the ground, before I walked to the next class. I am rather tall.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Brilliant!!

        "Looks classy and hip."

        Had a Compaq luggable for network monitoring. I bought a sturdy luggage trolley to transport it when visiting sites - often by train. On one trip I developed a pain in my hip and leg which lasted for weeks. The doctor diagnosed sciatica from the twisting of the body when pulling the trolley behind me.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Brilliant!!

          Panasonic Sr. Partner. 38 pounds (including case, modem, manuals & floppies). At least it had a built-in printer. I still have it. You get attached to the daftest things after a quarter million air-miles together.

          It has an MFM controller in the expansion slot, a 20 meg hard drive in one of the floppy bays, and an aftermarket hack that upped the stock 256K of RAM to a more usable768K. I used an external modem. Yes, it still works. Came with Panasonic-labeled MS-DOS 2.2, but it currently boots MS-DOS 3.3 ... It might be hard for some of the younger readers to believe, but a LOT of RealWorld[tm] work was done with such primitive devices.

        2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Brilliant!!

          Had a Compaq luggable for network monitoring.

          We had one of those for Token Ring :-) Can't remember the mfr.

          Now I have wireshark. Times have changed!

          (and in this particular case, for the better)

          // but very hip -- like a ghetto blaster for nerds

    2. chivo243 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Brilliant!!

      Luggable or Haulable - I remember the portable my mom brought home once. It came in 3 or 4 flight cases, took up the entire kitchen table. That was yestercentury or yestermillennium ~ mid 70's or so...

    3. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Brilliant!!

      I used one to write software at home, a bit slow, but it worked.

      Work had borrowed it!

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Brilliant!!

      "Remember those?"

      Yup. Used one as an office machine for a while. Kermit and an RS232 lead plugged in an it was my terminal to the Unix box. When Windows came along it was a great thing. I could have several of those little 5" screens on the go all at the same time.

  6. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    "It barely fits in my bag and is completely unwieldy."

    This is the perfect description of my laptop computer at work. Some bright spark decided that we absolutely need a separate numeric pad on the keyboard. All of us.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      10 key

      I won't buy a laptop without a numeric keypad! by the time you are into a big enough monitor to be useful, you may as well have a "real" keyboard. Plus, I've gotten used to the keypad for entering anything more than 3 digits.

  7. mikeHingley
    Pint

    There's portable... and then there's portable

    Way back in the mists of time, my colleague and mentor was issued a desktop computer - laptops were reserved for management types - so he made the best of a bad situation and made a large fabric bag by which to carry his desktop. He used to occasionally work from home or other sites, so you often see him struggling to carry a CRT monitor with this large (i think it was purple) fabric bag slung over his arm.

    When they eventually relented and got him a laptop, it was knocked off his desk by his dog and the screen broke - I think he still used a CRT - great guy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's portable... and then there's portable

      Professional network capture devices used to be big brutes. I remember taking one home from the office by tube and train - ready for a site visit by car the next day. By the time I reached the mainline station platform I was managing about 20 metres between rests.

      If you had to take a HP4972 LAN*** monitor and a HP4954 WAN monitor - then the load was symmetrical across both arms - even if you couldn't stand up straight.

      ***which could capture a maximum of 600 frames at 10mbps if the traffic wasn't particularly high. Early WAN monitors were often limited to a capture that cycled round on the small screen. Found a solution by using my "luggable" VHS video recorder and separate large camera to capture the screen. The soundtrack was useful for annotation - especially when the phone rang to say the remote site had just lost their connection. Diagnosis was also aided by having taped my analogue wristwatch to the monitor screen - the rotating hands being visible in fast forward playback mode.

      1. fruitoftheloon
        Happy

        @AC:Re: There's portable... and then there's portable

        AC,

        I once had some critical stuff to finish over the weekend, so the company got taxis to help me take a microvax & VT340 home for the weekend...

        Now that was HEAVY.

        Jay

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: @AC:There's portable... and then there's portable

          My oldest contraption that could loosely be called a "PC" is an IBM 1401 ... It's portable in that I moved it here ;-)

          1. HellDeskJockey

            Re: @AC:There's portable... and then there's portable

            An IBM 1401 that brings the memories back. I learned to program on one of them in school. It was old then in the 1970's but still worked. I still have a few old porta punch cards in an old box somewhere.

      2. David Roberts Silver badge

        Re: There's portable... and then there's portable

        HP network analysers.

        Can't remember the model numbers any more but there was one I termed a "tarts handbag" which was ucking huge.

        Taking it on the train to some site to fault find an X.25 connection was non trivial. Suffered from back problems for a while but i was young and foolish then.

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: There's portable... and then there's portable

      Oh how we laugh:

      https://thegadgetflow.com/portfolio/lavolta-carrying-case-bag-imac/

      'Combine the convenience of a laptop with the power of your workstation by making your iMac totally portable with the Lavolta Carrying Case. This has been specially designed for the Apple iMac 27″ series. Created by iMac users at an East London hackathon, it lets you pack your workspace into a carry-on sized bag and sling it over your shoulder. '

  8. What is your emergency?

    We can spend several minutes getting users to open a Web Browser and type a URL in. Even saying www..... becomes an onerous task.

  9. jake Silver badge

    Concepts.

    Not exactly Help Desk stuff, but in the same "unclear on the concept" vein:

    Thirty-odd years ago I was doing a server upgrade at a small company in Palo Alto. After bringing the system back up and telling the users they could get on with it, a friend of mine and I had a late-morning snack at her desk while I monitored the system for errors. The print queue spiked almost instantly, and the Boss's secretary started typing again. After about 10 minutes, the secretary went and claimed her print job. She put the pile of paper on the desk, hit "print" again, and then again furiously started typing (she could maintain 140 WPM, I think it was ... she was FAST). When done typing that document, she went and got coffee, and waited for the job at the printer to be finished ... again, it took about ten minutes. When done, she hit "print" again ...

    About ten minutes later, she had a third pile of paper. Keep in mind that this was the era of ~25 pages per minute ... As I watched, she pealed the top sheet or three off the top of each pile, and dumped the rest into the "recycle" bin[1].

    I looked at my friend & said "WTF?!?!" (or something similar) ... She just smiled sadly & shrugged. The secretary proof-read the documents, and then wandered into the Boss's office with them. I snuck over and eyeballed the secretary's computer ... and discovered that she had every document she had ever created in that office (about a month's worth) saved as a single, large file! I couldn't believe what I was seeing ... She was printing the entire thing each time!

    I wandered back to my friend's desk, and again said something like "WTF?!?!?!?" She suggested that I get paid, and cash the check before bringing it up to the Boss.

    I took the advice, cashed the check, and then called the Boss, suggesting a "free" follow up to my upgrade work in the following week. He readily agreed (freebies are good). My friend & I conspired to get me in when she knew that the secretary would be doing a lot of printing.

    The followup showed the network was working fine. Then I brought up the "unusual" behavior of the secretary. The Boss got very red, and yelled at me, allowing as to how the secretary had impeccable references, and if she was doing it that way, that was the way it was done in the industry. I was escorted from the building by a security guard ... but not before I got in an over-the-shoulder "I suggest you look into your recycle bin, and see what kind of company business is being exposed to the world ... and how much paper is being wasted" ...

    The secretary lasted another week. The other folks in the office bought me dinner the evening after the day she was fired ... It seems the Boss stayed late one night and discovered she had wasted a couple cases of paper in about a week ... When confronted, she flat refused to learn how to conserve paper. I have no idea what happened to her after that, but the Boss never hired me for a job again.

    [1] Yes, recycling 30-odd years ago. This was Palo Alto, after all :-)

  10. wolfetone Silver badge

    My wife's a solicitor, and this makes perfect sense.

    Every time there's a problem, I ask her if she's restarted it. Then she gets all arsey saying "That's what the tech guys at work tell her, if you're all so smart why are you in a job". I say nothing, laptop restarts, then I ask "Does it work now?". She, quietly says, "yes, it does".

  11. AndrueC Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Have you had to explain something extraordinarily obvious to a user or client? If so, write to On-Call and we might use your story in a future column.

    Our customer support staff often have to explain how to use a web browser. Sometimes it can hilariously bad.

    1. Explain what a browser is. Cue helpful suggestions like "It should be called Chrome, or Explorer". "It's what you use for Facebook"

    2. Explain the difference between between the Google search box and the address bar.

    3. Explain how to type 'start.com'. Hint: Type a '.' not 'dot'.

    4. Repeat the access number several times until they type it correctly.

    5. Ask them if they could go back to their desk where the problem is actually occurring instead of some other desk 'because it has a working computer'. Start again from (1).

    It's a good job I do software development and never have to speak to anyone outside my team. I don't have the patience or tolerance to do tech support.

    1. Richard 81

      Maybe we should get in the habit of saying "start, full stop, com"?

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        "Maybe we should get in the habit of saying "start, full stop, com"?"

        I hope that's two spaces after the full stop. A lot of lazy people only put one space nowadays.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
          Joke

          Don't ever point them at /..org then :)

        2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          "A lot of lazy people only put one space nowadays."

          That's because any decent software will use the correct spacing anyway. I learned this from the TeX manual about 30 years ago and it was such a throwaway comment that I assumed it was common knowledge and had been standard practice amongst typesetting packages since time immemorial. Even after I have learned that not all such packages do this, I still only leave one space and if anyone ever complains (and no-one, in 30 years has *ever* complained) I would say it is a bug in the software.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Two spaces.

          That depends on where you learned typing. Not all cultures used two spaces.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      AndrueC,

      I have to laugh at your 'Script' as I was doing essentially the same 20-25 years ago !!!

      In all that time nothing has changed because people are still being given a PC/Laptop etc and are expected to 'Just' use it !!!

      Why is real useful 'Basic Training' such a problem ???

      It would only take a few days to get people up to speed and the 'Good' ones can help the others along.

      I can remember people who worked in Departments that only could work because they memorised 'Sequences' to do certain jobs. Any time the sequence was interupted by a 'Problem/Error message/result not expected' they ground to a halt. It was like pulling 'Hen's Teeth' to convince Managers to give their staff proper training.

      Don't tell me that it has not got much better over 20-25 years ???!!!

      [I think I know the answer but hope against all hope I am wrong !!! :) ]

      Probably not helped by all the people having Phones & Tablets rather than PC's now ...... excluding the PC Gamers :)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Techy savy doctors

    I worked in a hospital trust that had some very tech savvy doctors. Unfortunately they tended to be the ones who knew enough to leave the IT to the IT professionals or just support them in their jobs rather than the ones who would randomly go out and buy their own bespoke systems without contacting IT to figure out if they were compatible with the existing IT infrastructure, (hint, the 12 Apple Macs one department bought weren't, neither was the CAD plotter someone bought from Germany), expect IT to support them and rant at anyone who would listen about how useless I.T. was because the latest and greatest piece of tech they'd seen advertised in some medical journal couldn't be connected to the network.

    1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Techy savy doctors

      ...rather than the ones who would randomly go out and buy their own bespoke systems without contacting IT to figure out if they were compatible with the existing IT infrastructure, (hint, the 12 Apple Macs one department bought weren't, neither was the CAD plotter someone bought from Germany), expect IT to support them and rant at anyone who would listen about how useless I.T. was because the latest and greatest piece of tech they'd seen advertised in some medical journal couldn't be connected to the network.

      http://lyrics.wikia.com/wiki/Tom_Payne:Please,_Mr._Compatibility

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "If the lid was closed, how did they switch on the laptop?"

      Power button is sometimes on the side. Also, some docks have a power button.

      "(Also - how did it not go into Sleep mode)"

      Sleep is triggered by closing the lid, not by the lid being closed (usually).

  14. Floydian Slip
    Trollface

    Blue is the new shiny

    Although not IT related, I remember (back in the mists of time when I was a retail manager) when one of my sales team sold a nice, polished stainless steel cased microwave.

    After about an hour, he received a customer who was complaining (and was very insistent) that the microwave was blue rather than the fetching shiny shiny that matched the rest of his kitchen.

    He wouldn't take it from the salesperson that it was stainless and demanded to speak to the manager. So, I took the call.....by this time he was extremely irate, loud (I was holding the phone away from my ear) and pretty rude. He was convinced it was blue and wanted to bring it back for a refund.

    I told him how to resolve his problem, but he wasn't prepared to listen so I said that if he wanted to bring it back (a 50 mile round trip iirc) and it was indeed blue then I'd not only refund the price but I'd reimburse his travel costs too.

    So, about 35 mins later, I saw him pull up in the car-park and went out to help him carry the M/W in (they were pretty heavy back then)

    I un-boxed it in the middle of the shop (it was a busy Saturday) and he smiled and smugly said - "see, I told you, it's blue"

    I reached over to one of the edges and slightly "pulled" the blue with a fingernail. I was able to snag a bit of the blue protective film and was able to pull it off the shiny, stainless steel finish of the microwave - just as I had suggested he did when he phoned in.

    Without a word of apology he hastily repacked his microwave and almost ran from the shop

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Blue is the new shiny

      "Without a word of apology he hastily repacked his microwave and almost ran from the shop"

      When flat screens were still new and unusual, I saw an entire room full of them in a school, about 6 months old, all with the protective film still over the screen. No one, apparently, had ever commented on the poor quality of the displays!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We were doing a laptop refresh across a 2,500 user estate. Our IT ops mgr was a total idiot, she was one of these people who had been automatically promoted every 2 years because no one knew what to do with her.

    One morning she opens her laptop and can't work out why the screen is on the desk and the keyboard is in the air. She was confused for at least 20 seconds... tragic.

    And I know, before you all start, I wouldn't believe it if someone told me either.

    1. Fading Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      If only.....

      The onscreen keyboard was activated......

  16. Kev99 Bronze badge

    Never underestimate the stupidity of the human animal. Or of program designers.

  17. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Laptops.

    Hmm. My workstation is hooked to a crap no-bandwidth network that is firewalled to the point that I cannot reliably download manuals from our two top mega-conglomo vendors. The addition of Office365 has crippled what functionality it had.

    I have an old Inspiron 1545 lappy I've been using for nearly a decade to do development work, to which I added my own wireless hotspot for netty stuff. Naturally my building is in a dead spot, where connectivity is certain but bandwidth limited by low signal strength issues and also by a polytechnic next door hoovering it all away every time a lecture ends.

    Even so I can now use google and get manuals from Snoracle and Big Blue. Plus, no reporting me to HR if a sidebar hops off to a firearms dealer (no I'm not a gun nut but when I googled Wff'n'Proof - a logic game from the 1960s - and it resolved to a university of Wisconsin link, that's what the sidebars filled up with).

    But it is a tad heavy, and I got a back injury just before xmas making me want to stop carrying it around.

    Unfortunately a few days sans laptop showed I had grown used to having the thunderously useful thing, especially when using "lunch breaks" for personal projects. The iPad was NBG for most, not all, of this.

    A second machine seemed in order, but synching over the net would eat up my limited pay-by-the-byte bandwidth, and besides the latency would be horrible every hour or so due to WoWing and GTAing by students.

    So I built out a second machine to be identical and I just carry the hard drive from home to work. Cost very little. The memory was expensive, being an older spec. Stupid in this cloudy day and age? Maybe, but very cost-effective.

    In point of fact this was my third lappy build-out; I already built up an old Latitude as a database training machine too when years of asking for a lab LPAR resulted in so many restrictions on use it was unfit for purpose (what's the point in a lab machine you have no root access for? You can't crash it, recover it or do anything labby at all). 8 gig machine, USB3, Optical drive, 1TB HDD running Oracle Linux and Oracle 12c, less than $350.

    I didn't like the keyboard on that one so I added a Logitech K120. Cheap but possibly the nicest keyboard I've used in 40 years in IT. I own three of them. (Because Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone Black, etc).

  18. David Roberts Silver badge
    FAIL

    Interesting story

    However my initial take on it (and nothing so far seems to contradict it) is that old trusty was replaced with new shiny but IT was far too special and busy (or perhaps not even involved) to perform a proper customer handover.

    Otherwise somebody would have done the "This is how you dock and undock, and you can use it stand alone like this." talk.

    I assume some budget cutting strategy where you throw the kit at the punters and hope they will help each other to sort it out. Followed by "but surely everyone knows that" when the support calls come in.

    Nobody should be given new kit without someone confirming that they are familiar with it and basic methods of operation.

    My sympathy is with the poor, embarassed user.

  19. onefang Silver badge

    Long ago the gubermit decided they would pay for one year of a two year basic computer course I didn't really need, coz I was already an experienced computer professional. I almost managed to get exemptions on 50% of the subjects.

    One of the subjects was Basic Desktop Computing, or how to use Windows and Word. The lecturer, who knew I was an experienced computer professional, took me aside at the beginning of the first class, while every one else was getting settled, and asked me to teach her how to use a mouse.

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