back to article Batteries are so heavy, said user. If I take it out, will this thing work?

Welcome again to On-Call, The Register's support group for tech support pros, in which we share readers' tales of being asked to do unreasonable things for inexcusable people. This week, meet "James" who used to do tech support for a major mobile carrier. One fine day "a young lady" visited the store in which James worked and …

  1. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Hmmm

    Jesus wept there's fecking eejits walking this earth!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm

      At least they can't ring you. There's always a silver lining.

      1. psychonaut

        Re: Hmmm

        At least once a week...

        Does my computer have to be turned on for you to be able to remote control it?

        No of course not. Its powered by magic fairies and gnomes that dance a jig ti make it work even if theres no power... i never said yet but think every time

        1. John G Imrie Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Its powered by magic fairies and gnomes

          You mean it isn't. Dam! Where does all that food and booze go that I leave out in the office for them?

          1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

            Re: Food and booze

            You wants ants? Because that's how you get ants.

            1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

              @ Aladdin Sane

              "Anthill Inside"

              With very fond memories of Mr Pratchett. You are missed!

            2. IsJustabloke Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: Food and booze

              "You wants ants? Because that's how you get ants."

              I dunno ... are they magic ants?

            3. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: Food and booze

              You wants ants bugs? Because that's how you get ants bugs.

              FIFY

              1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

                Re: Food and booze

                You wants ants bugs? Because that's how you get ants bugs.

                FIFY

                Sterling Archer says otherwise.

            4. Red Bren

              Re: Food and booze

              Ant hill inside?

              -- Out of Cheese Error - Redo from Start --

              1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

                Re: Food and booze

                Divide by cucumber error

                Reboot universe

                1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge
                  Joke

                  Re: Food and booze

                  Divide by cucumber error

                  Careful - you'll scare the cats!

              2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                Re: Food and booze

                -- Out of Cheese Error - Redo from Start --

                I can only surmise that you got this from a computer in the US..

                (Yes, yes, I'm sure that there are purveyors of proper cheese in the US - I've just never seen any on my visits there.)

            5. Chris G Silver badge

              Re: Food and booze

              Ants? No the fairies just want you to think they are ants.

          2. EastFinchleyite

            Re: Its powered by magic fairies and gnomes

            No, as someone who spent the second half of his career working in the mobile phone operations business I can confirm that the phones themselves are powered by batteries. The networks however are a whole different kettle of fish.

            In addition to magic fairies and gnomes, they require the regular utterance of various Norse incantations, large amounts of Ooffle Dust and the presence of a large and vicious dog. The latter is required to keep inquisitive engineers (is there any other kind?) away from the actual network hardware to increase its reliability. The same approach is used for remote terminal access. I recommended that we never make the user account passwords known.

            Except in Australia. In one major operations centre I audited, they managed 11 MSC/BSC switches and had two green screen character terminals attached to each (22 terminals around the edge of a large room overlooking the local Test cricket ground, spooky with the lights off). Needless to say that the account IDs and passwords were Dymo'd to the top of each terminal. I asked about security and was told that was managed by access control to the room. OK'ish except that at 5.0ppm each evening the room doors were wedged open to allow the contract cleaning staff free entry. I considered it pointless to try to explain why this may not be a good idea.

            1. brotherelf
              Boffin

              Re: Its powered by magic fairies and gnomes

              > at 5.0ppm each evening

              5 parts per million is a waaaay too low BAC for somebody in IT. Are you sure you're not holding it wrong?

              (I fully expect somebody to pipe up and tell me how much ppm of ethanol there are as byproduct of regular working of the chemical factory we call human body.)

              1. Muscleguy Silver badge

                Re: Its powered by magic fairies and gnomes

                it depends on your personal biochemistry. I understand there are people who do actually produce alcohol due to different biochem to thee and me.

                However despite being a mere Physiologist and not a Biochemist I can however assert that if one has normal biochemistry and gut etc flora and fauna then you should not be producing any alcohol.

                Ethyl alcohol is not produced as a byproduct of normal metabolism. It is thought that we possess the enzymes to metabolise alcohol to aldehyde then that aldehyde (variations in the two enzyme's kinetics between people account for hangover severity/resistance) because we are descended from fruitivorous apes who, living in tropical parts would have required those enzymes.

                It is similarly thought our line reinvented colour vision in order to better identify ripe vs non ripe fruit. This may seem a trivial aspect of our vision but was once vital. Smell is an unreliable reporter of ripeness you see. All the fruitivorous simians alive today can both metabolise alcohol and have colour vision. Your cat and dog get by without it as do many animals.

                1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                  Re: Its powered by magic fairies and gnomes

                  Your cat and dog get by without it as do many animals.

                  Cats and dogs both have an element of colour vision - it's just not as acute as ours. After all, you still need to distinguish between toxic/dangerous animals/bugs (often red) and safe ones (squirrels excepted).

                  Their whole vision is also based much more on movement than ours is. Which is why freezing in place is often a good thing to do when confronted by a big cat..(unless you happen to be bleeding. Then it's usually goodnight Vienna. And no, climing a tree won't help you unless you happen to be trying to escape a cheetah. Most big cats can climb rather well..)

                2. onefang Silver badge

                  Re: Its powered by magic fairies and gnomes

                  "it depends on your personal biochemistry. I understand there are people who do actually produce alcohol due to different biochem to thee and me."

                  Ah, that explains a medical report I got from my doctor years ago. It included a lot of standard stuff that didn't apply to the medical condition it was about, but was filled in comprehensively anyway. One part reliably reported that I don't drink alcohol, with another part reporting that the doctor thinks I should drink less alcohol. I was wondering if the doctor expected me to produce alcohol from my body some how.

                  I did forgive him for getting my age wrong, he had written it on my actual birthday, but probably didn't know that my age had clocked over very early that morning.

            2. Ivan Headache

              Re: Its powered by magic fairies and gnomes

              Where are they getting the Ooffle Dust?

              I haven't seen any since the very early 60s.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Its powered by magic fairies and gnomes

                Where are they getting the Ooffle Dust?

                Izzy, wizzy, let's get busy...

                Well, it is Friday.

                1. SMITCH79

                  Re: Its powered by magic fairies and gnomes

                  Wizbet? Hop high this away?

                  My oh my!

              2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                Re: Its powered by magic fairies and gnomes

                Where are they getting the Ooffle Dust?

                I haven't seen any since the very early 60s.

                It's in Australia. It's *always* the 1960's in Australia.

                (Fairness leads me to add that they are always about 10 years ahead of New Zealand)

                1. onefang Silver badge

                  Re: Its powered by magic fairies and gnomes

                  "It's in Australia. It's *always* the 1960's in Australia."

                  Except in Queensland, where it's always the 1950's.

            3. marky_boi

              Re: Its powered by magic fairies and gnomes

              What you failed to mention for a good story is that to access said building you had to sign in and the building was controlled by security people before you even got in. The cleaning staff also worked for the company and had a clearance level almost as high as the techs. These were the innocent days where staff trusted each other. The engineers were trustworthy and actually knew their stuff.... Can't let that get in the way of a good story.... and BTW I look after gear on that said floor now and none of that has been there for a very long time..........

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: Its powered by magic fairies and gnomes

                "The cleaning staff also worked for the company and had a clearance level almost as high as the techs."

                They were still known to unplug random equipment in order to get power for the vacuum cleaners.

                Clearance != training

                1. travellingman_us

                  wierd power glitches

                  Many (many) moons ago I was the sole Network/Systems/ IT person supporting a few offices for a smallish investment firm. One of the remote offices had a system that connected every night at a specific time to a remote server in Europe for updates via modem (yes - that long ago). The connect script would then shut down the computer.

                  We kept getting weird glitches, in that some days the update file would be incomplete (missing loads of segments) or missing entirely. We kept tweaking the script, and spent inordinate hours working with the data host to try to work out why this was failing. (their logs were also woefully incomplete). It always worked when re ran the script "supervised" so we were at a loss.

                  Turns out the cleaner would get to the office where the system was... and depending on the cleaner would unplug the modem, or the computer, or the entire UPS. They were careful to plug things back in, though!

                  So our glitches depended entirely on whether the transmission had completed BEFORE the cleaner got to that office.

                  We only found out by chance: I was working at that office upgrading some equipment and noticed the cleaner unplug the modem.

                  1. DustyP

                    Re:wierd power glitches

                    Cleaners unplugging essential plugs so she can plug in a vacuum cleaner...

                    I can beat that.

                    In the mid '80s, I was the senior technical engineer for a London company that sold systems that shot computer graphic slides onto 35mm film. We sold a system to a photographer in Zurich, Switzerland.

                    It all worked perfectly for a couple of months, shooting two or three hundred frames overnight.

                    One day, the customer phoned in a panic. For three nights, it had only shot a few dozen before failing overnight.

                    I took a flight from Heathrow with my box of spares.

                    The camera was kept in the owner's office which was on the first floor with a large window overlooking the main studio which was used in the evenings for photographing ladies wearing very little at most.

                    I measured all the voltages from the sockets, and leaving the meters connected, sat in a chair by the window while the camera clicked every few minutes while I gawked at the action below. Girls would come out of their dressing room topless or naked while the photographer took his pictures. At 3am, the entire batch of slides had completed successfully so I reprocessed the entire batch after checking the output of the UPS again. I was tired, so turned out the light in the office and sat back in the chair where I could gawk at the four lovely models downstairs fiishing their photo shoot.

                    I fell asleep, only to be woken by the office light coming on. It had been switched on by a naked brunette who quickly took the towel from where it was drying her hsir and wrapped it round her nether regions.

                    "Ich brauche, um meine Haare trocknen" she told me "I need to dry my hair."

                    She told me that with four girls in a dressing room with only two sockets, for the past few nights, she always came up to the office to use a socket for the hair dryer. She unplugged the main plug from where it fed a supply to the IBM AT (shows how long ago it was). "Don't worry, I'll plug it back in when I've dried my hair" she told me in German while her boobs jiggled in front of me. I was too angry to tell her off but my client ensured that his office was always securely locked at night.

                2. ROC

                  Re: Cleaners unplugging equipment for their vacs

                  Back in the day when a global UK-based firm I worked for for (VM SysProg, if you know what that means) in the US had its mainframe control room (green screens) separated from the "global" network center (switches, "modems", muxes, etc) by a sliding glass door activated by a big red button on the wall. On the other side of the door on the next wall section was an emergency power cutoff for the whole switch room, also a big red button, and one night a new cleaner hit the wrong red button....

                  1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                    Re: Cleaners unplugging equipment for their vacs

                    "also a big red button"

                    One night! I'm surprised it wasn't a frequent issue.

                    Big red button in one side of door to open the door. Big red button in the other room near enough to the door to bring whole enterprise to a full stop. Someone got paid to think of that idea. FFS!

            4. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

              Re: Its powered by magic fairies and gnomes

              "they require the regular utterance of various Norse incantations"

              That would be Erlang. Easy mistake to make.

              Joe Armstrong

            5. Mark 85 Silver badge
              Boffin

              @EastFinchleyite -= Re: Its powered by magic fairies and gnomes

              Hold on.. there's no sacrificing of virgins anymore? When did this change?

              1. Chemical Bob
                Unhappy

                Re: @EastFinchleyite -= Its powered by magic fairies and gnomes

                When we ran out of virgins

            6. Talamasca

              Re: Its powered by magic fairies and gnomes

              I worked for a small company in the early ‘oughts’ that became bought out by Verizon. There are two phone numbers embedded in their system that I will own in perpetuity. No, you may not know what they are.

        2. oiseau Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Hmmm

          "Does my computer have to be turned on for you to be able to remote control it?"

          Hmmm...

          Does it have Intel Management Engine (ME)?

          Is it activated? (apparently not a requirement)

          Then no, it doesn't really matter.

          Crikey!

          It wasn't such a dumb question after all.

          Cheers,

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hmmm

            Does it have Intel Management Engine (ME)?

            Good ole' Wake-on-LAN magic packets work too.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmm

          The difference between you and I is that I WOULD say it to them.

          Indeed, HAVE said things not dissimilar to that.

        4. Steve Cooper

          Re: Hmmm

          A bit like the stickers on cars that say 'Powered by fairy dust'.... really FFS

        5. Jimathy

          Re: Hmmm

          Sorry I thought it was a special mixture of unicorn poo and diamonds, how silly of me.

        6. Montreal Sean

          Re: Hmmm

          Gnomes?

          Mine's running Xfce, it's mouse powered.

      2. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        Bloke I sat next to on a flight in the USA was in charge of the equipment at a local TV station. One day a reporter who was new to the station took video camera, tripod and several nimh battery packs out to do a report. Later the same day reporter reappeared with tripod and one battery pack. The first question was where were the other battery packs? "I used them" is the reply "they're in the trash" he checked and it was April 1st. So he laughed and said to hand them over but she looked blank and repeated they were in the trash. Now realising that she's not joking he said he felt like strangling her. When questioned further they were in the bin by her desk and not in some municipal garbage. She had apparently considered dumping them whilst out because they were very heavy things. Then thought they might be recyclable so hadn't.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          "So he laughed and said to hand them over but she looked blank and repeated they were in the trash"

          I worked in a radio station. Our line for new staff 'Those rechargable and reusable battery packs are $300 each. You signed them out, you're responsible for them. If you don't return them then they're charged to you.' (or whatever they took out) Sometimes things simply went missing without being signed out, but the simple solution was not to replace it until someone 'fessed up or it reappeared and the appearance of a (dummy) cctv camera over the doorway of the equipment store solved that for the most part.

          Being a US station, yes, they can charge staff for things like that, but scare them like that when they take them out and you'll never have equipment lost unless it's an emergency. Journalists are amongst the most contemptuous users of 'not my stuff'

        2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Hmmm

          "...they're in the trash..."

          Kidiots. Xbox game controllers. Rechargeable AA cells. Kidiot asks for help getting new batteries. Inside both controllers I find dead alkaline cells. Where are rechargeable cells? Tossed in garbage weeks ago.

          Sigh...

    2. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      50% of the population are of below average intelligence.

      Go figure.

      1. Noh

        Re: Hmmm

        Below median intelligence. The average doesn't guarantee a 50-50 split either side.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmm

          "The average doesn't guarantee a 50-50 split either side."

          ... correct - as the vast majority of people have more than the average number of legs!

        2. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          "Below median intelligence. The average doesn't guarantee a 50-50 split either side."

          Like most people have more than the average number of arms, legs, eyes and noses.

      2. travellingman_us

        Re: Hmmm

        but the other half are smarter than average.

        you know, that particular statistic doesn't make me feel quite as smug when phrased that way!

        1. brakepad

          Re: Hmmm

          If you're uncomfortable with the 50:50 split then elaborate:

          50% of people are below average intelligence. And the average person is f****** stupid! :-)

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmm

        Mean, mode, or median?

      4. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Hmmm

        50% of the population are of below **MEDIAN** intelligence.

        People like me skew the curve very badly. ;-)

      5. stephanh Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        "50% of the population are of below average intelligence"

        Are those the ones who confuse "average" with "median"?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two stories:

    One, a women bought a digital camera with a computer system.

    She came back into the store complaining that the camera wouldn't work properly.

    So I inspected the camera, opened the battery door and pointed out the batteries were in the wrong way round. Well, I might as well have told her I sliced babies up in my spare time. She went apoplectic. "Of course it not the batteries she indignantly replied. If I plug it into my computer it works fine". Yes I replied, because the cable is providing the power.

    You could see the cogs turning in her head.

    2: An elderly chap (same camera) came in, barged his way to the front of the queue and barked that "this bloody camera doesn't work".

    After politely explaining that there was a queue and I would deal with him presently he, to be fair, waited his turn. Whilst there was a queue behind him I asked what his problem was. "Bleeding thing's duff" was his reply. So, being logical, the first thing I did was check the batteries for incorrect polarity. No, that was fine. What wasn't fine was the cellophane wrapper he had neglected to remove off the twin pack AA cells!!!

    I really don't mind helping people with issues like this. Any techie has had them, as well as the wifi switch / volume being turned off when closing or opening the lid on the laptop and we deal with them but when some shitty obnoxious customer starts on me, then I fire back. The customer is NOT always right.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Two stories:

      A neighbour complained that her new wireless keyboard didn't work. Had she put batteries in? Yes - she said. Opened it up. Two new AA batteries - nose to nose.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Two stories:

        "Had she put batteries in? Yes - she said. Opened it up. Two new AA batteries - nose to nose."

        In my very early days of being a service tech I lost count of the number of pieces of battery powered kit that came in with problems that were solved by changing the batteries - because the user had put in less than a full set when changing them.

        1-2 flat and several new ones (or several unknown mixed brand ones from the back of the drawer) doesn't work in an early-80s generic walkman or boombox - and a battery tester needs to have a good-sized load resistor in it - measuring open circuit voltage isn't enough, nor is the lick test.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Two stories:

      Back in the days of my youth, I were a good churchgoer. Rather than the heathen I currently am...

      Church has been rebuilt. And now has a baptistry. A rather nice mini swimming pool which is filled from a couple of cascading pools - which serve nicely as fonts. So you can still flick a bit of water at baby, or stand up to your chest in water and give someone a proper dunking.

      Curate: "I need to hold a microphone when I'm baptising so-and-so."

      Me: "Nope. You'll be wet, that's wired to the mains. Water and electricity are not friends." [I didn't mention it's only 48 volts]

      Curate: "Can I wear a radio mic instead?"

      Me: "That radio mic cost £1,500. We can get more curates, we'll never get the budget for another mic."

      That probably dates me, you can probably pick up a really good radio mic for £100 nowadays. Curates are much harder come by...

      I suppose to him a radio mic is just a box you put in your back pocket wired to a thing you clip on your tie. Whereas to me, a radio mic is a horribly unreliable thing - where you need a back-up wired mic somewhere for when it craps out mid-sentence, and a spare 9v battery so you can run on stage and get it working again. If some bugger hasn't accidentally changed the channel on it. They're a lot better nowadays.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: Two stories:

        "I didn't mention it's only 48 volts"

        DC or AC? Coz from what I understand DC shocks can a lot harder on the system and require a lot less current to kill you.

        1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

          Re: Two stories:

          I understand DC shocks can a lot harder on the system and require a lot less current to kill you.

          I'd heard that too - the fatal voltage level can be remarkably low - something to do with the voltage spike being in sync with your heartbeat and causing some sort of resonance/amplification type effect.

          You're playing the odds quite a bit though. You could try bumping somebody off by chucking a PP3 into the bath, but when it really matters the old reliable toaster works every time. (yes - it's been a tough week)

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Two stories:

            "You could try bumping somebody off by chucking a PP3 into the bath, but when it really matters the old reliable toaster works every time."

            As I understand it, a clothes iron is both more effective and more plausible. So does waiting for a bath with Epsom salts in it.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Two stories:

            "I'd heard that too - the fatal voltage level can be remarkably low - something to do with the voltage spike being in sync with your heartbeat and causing some sort of resonance/amplification type effect."

            I used to understand the reasoning being that DC causes the muscles to lock - so you can't release yourself. AC allows you to get away if you react to the shock.This article contradicts that.

            A commentard a while ago defended the move to DC for power distribution as being proven that AC was more dangerous - so now I am just confused.

            It is not the voltage that kills you - but the current. Hence the old saying "Volts jolts - mills kills".

            Skin conductivity and the path through the body between the two "terminal" points are critical factors.

            There is a threshold current circa 100 - 200ma that will kill you by causing the heart to go into rapid fibrillation (fluttering). Only a defribillator machine can save you then by stopping the heart and allowing it to be restarted with a normal beat.

            A much higher current (>200ma) can bypass the fibrillation stage and just stop the heart. That is then much easier to recover with chest thumping. That is basically how a defribillation machine works - two big electrode pads and a big charged capacitor to give enough current to stop the heart.

            1. David Nash Silver badge

              Re: Two stories:

              Re. Defibrillators.

              I bet most people think they work by STARTing the heart, rather than stopping it.

            2. Martin an gof Silver badge

              Re: Two stories:

              A commentard a while ago defended the move to DC for power distribution as being proven that AC was more dangerous - so now I am just confused.

              No. That was Edison during the War of the Currents. He had so much invested in a d.c. system that he resorted to dirty tricks to discredit Tesla and Westinghouse's a.c.

              a.c. has some safety benefits, particularly with switching (much easier to extinguish an a.c. arc than a d.c. one) and for generation and transmission the use of transformers and high tension makes it much more efficient than d.c. Modern solid-state converters are making that last point less obvious, and it's worth noting that d.c. is very commonly used for long-distance transmission, particularly between a.c. grids which are not synchronised.

              With so much modern electronics having external power supplies these days, commonly providing 12V or 5V to the device, there is an argument for having a 24V or 12V distribution system within the house. This removes some of the losses of converting mains a.c. to l.v. d.c. (though switch-mode supplies are a lot more efficient than transformer and linear regulator-based devices) and could make integrating with an off-grid (battery) system easier. It would have to be only for the low power equipment though, because cable size is determined mainly by current, not voltage. At 230V you can just about use cable as small as 1mm2 to supply power to a 2kW kettle (about 9A - though 1.25mm2 or 1.5mm2 would be safer). At 24V you'd need over 80A which would require a cable of perhaps 25mm2!

              M.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Two stories:

                "With so much modern electronics having external power supplies these days, commonly providing 12V or 5V to the device, there is an argument for having a 24V or 12V distribution system within the house."

                Mails sockets with ancilliary 5v USB supplies seem to be a thing now.

                1. Stoneshop Silver badge

                  Re: Two stories:

                  Mails sockets with ancilliary 5v USB supplies seem to be a thing now.

                  Those have a SPSU in each socket, so not really a 12/24V distribution system.

                  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                    Re: Two stories:

                    "Those have a SPSU in each socket, so not really a 12/24V distribution system."

                    The OP was a recommendation of a 12/24v as a response to the need for 5v supplies. Use of the existing mains distribution to provide the low voltage at point of need obviates the need to add a whole new system in parallel to that already existing.

                    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                      Re: Two stories:

                      The OP was a recommendation of a 12/24v as a response to the need for 5v supplies

                      Not really, I was commenting on the fact that a lot of equipment now has external power supplies. A lot of these actually operate from 12V and many others (particularly lighting) could if so designed, so 12V is required and in theory converting 12V to 5V with a small switch-mode should be easier than 240V to 5V.

                      Additionally you could use a battery to hold up the 12V circuit pretty much directly, meaning some form of off-grid capacity. It seems silly that I'm considering (for example) fitting a UPS to a lighting circuit, a device which takes 230V, converts it to somewhere between 12V and 48V to store in batteries, and then has to convert it back to 230V to use, especially when it possibly then supplies a light that converts it back to 12V again!

                      The key is to make sure there's not too much power required from a 12V circuit, lest the cables required are too huge.

                      M.

                2. Terry 6 Silver badge

                  Re: Two stories:

                  USB outlets on mains sockets are getting pretty common -and inexpensive..

            3. paulll

              Re: Two stories:

              50 or 60-odd mA through the ticker will do it. The difference between converting to fibrillation and converting to asystole is more about where in the cardiac cycle the shock happens to fall, and how long it lasts. A shock that has stopped the heart substantially by virtue of its magnitude, has probably done so by causing actual tissue damage, rendering a precordial thump even less likely to work than under other circumstances.

            4. This post has been deleted by its author

          3. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: Two stories:

            "I'd heard that too - the fatal voltage level can be remarkably low - something to do with the voltage spike being in sync with your heartbeat and causing some sort of resonance/amplification type effect."

            DC Electrickeries.

            No spike. No synchronisation.

            And it's the amperage that kills, as any owner of a Van der Graaf generator* can attest.

            A DC belt causes nasty skin effects that AC doesn't, but at mains frequency's AC's danger is in the peak-to-peak currents flowing back and forth, which is probably what your tale-teller was riffing on.

            When you get to high frequency stuff like in a Tesla Coil, there are a number of other potentially lethal tricky physics things to beware of, like the electricity that everyone is telling you will roll harmlessly across your skin *actually* going for the blood in the capillaries, down Aorta Avenue, across the one-way system in Heart Crescent and th-th-that's all folks.

            A radio frequency belt can come on like a burn.

            I had a pal years ago who pulled the crystal from a transmitter while it was still glowing with the Juice of Life. When we turned up to take him down the pub, his desk had a hand-shaped burn in the varnished wood. He told us he'd caught the skin of the web of his thumb on a sharp bit of chassis as he was leaning in. Zapped across the chest. Almost over and out for good.

            * The machine, not the band, though owning recordings from the band is a jolly good idea, especially Pawn Hearts or H To He Who Am The Only One.

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: Two stories:

              owner of a Van der Graaf generator* can attest.

              In school we used to have fun with those.. Like wiring them to the brass door-handles[1] or lighting bunsen burners with our fingertips[2].

              As to the band - despite being a proghead man and boy I never got into VDGG. Dunno why - I listened to them a couple of times as a yoof but soon went back to Genesis, Yes et. al.

              [1] Want to hear a well-bred physics teacher swear? That'll do it.. Second only to painting nitrogen tri-iodide on the door handles and giving it a short while to dry..

              [2] VDGG on the bench with us stood on a milk-crate to reduce earthing. Get someone else to turn the gas tap on (not a good idea to put your static-laden hand near the brass gas taps - even teenage boys have *some* sense) and put your index finger about 1cm away from the burner. Big fat spark lights the gas. Do not, under any circumstance try and light the burner from above. That way you get a mild burn on your wrist. Allegedly. Or so I've heard.

          4. Mark 85 Silver badge

            @Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese -- Re: Two stories:

            You're playing the odds quite a bit though. You could try bumping somebody off by chucking a PP3 into the bath, but when it really matters the old reliable toaster works every time. (yes - it's been a tough week)

            Just be sure to toss a couple slices of bread in the tub, have an open jar of marmalade or jelly, and a butter knife within reach of the tub.

          5. Shadow Systems Silver badge

            At Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese, re: toasters.

            Make sure you toss in a Talkie Toaster, that way you kill two birds with one stone!

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Two stories:

          Doesn't matter. If you're up to your chest in water, either will kill you just as well.

          For that matter so will 12V - the importance of voltage is mostly about breaking down dry skin resistance and it's the current that does the real work. (volts jolts, mills kills)

          (For the pedants, the difference is that DC causes muscles to tense and stay tensed whilst AC pulses them a little. The reality is that it makes bugger all difference above 25Hz)

        3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: Two stories:

          DC might "shock you harder" (I doubt it), but AC, being alternating, can go through light insulation, by virtue of seeing capacitance as an impedance, rather than as an open circuit, as DC does. So, what may insulate you from a DC shock, might not keep AC from getting to you.

          Best strategy for the curate? Speak up!

          // no lightning bolt icon?

        4. DJSpuddyLizard

          Re: Two stories:

          DC or AC? Coz from what I understand DC shocks can a lot harder on the system and require a lot less current to kill you.

          According to Topsy and St. Thomas Edison, AC is the real killer.

        5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Two stories:

          "Coz from what I understand DC shocks can a lot harder on the system and require a lot less current to kill you."

          Old portable valve radios had 90V batteries. I've given myself shocks from those a few times. I seem to have survived.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Two stories:

            I seem to have survived.

            Prove it. We only have your word for that!

            You could be one of the undead for all we know. Although, if you were, you'd probably be an accountant rather than doing IT..

        6. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: Two stories:

          "DC or AC? Coz from what I understand DC shocks can a lot harder on the system and require a lot less current to kill you."

          You understand wrong, and as it's quite important to know what's what here, I will try and clarify.

          Without getting too complicated for a post, the relevant thing is SELV - safety (or separate) extra low voltage. This means a circuit which doesn't exceed 60V (though it's allowed up to 120V for no more than one cycle, 20ms), which includes nominal 48V DC supplies. The circuit must be isolated from earth and any other SELV circuits (because if you join more than one SELV circuit the total may exceed the safe dose). Battery tools meet this standard, obviously.

          If therefore you want to power a piece of telecoms or other circuit which may accidentally get wet, it should be done through a proper isolating transformer. An earth connection is OK but must not be connected to either polarity conductor. Under these circumstances nobody should ever get killed. If you were to drop a typical microphone in the water nothing will suffer but the microphone, which probably has only a very small voltage across it anyway.

          Having said that, the important thing to avoid is cross-body current. If you were to come into contact with a live and neutral mains lead with a finger, you will probably get a burn but you won't die. If you hold the live in one hand and the neutral in the other, you may die because the current will probably reach the heart and induce fibrillation. If you were really, really unlucky and held one lead from a PP9 battery in one wet hand and the other lead in the other wet hand, you might also die. But not because it is AC or DC but because electric current messes with nerve signals and can cause that heart fibrillation. The point here is that you would have to do something exceedingly stupid; normally with low voltage equipment you don't have a significant separation of the different conductors.

          Why are electric fences legal, I hear you ask? Same reason cars are legal; they were around before proper safety standards and no government gets elected by upsetting car drivers or farmers. But in a bad case scenario someone could be killed by an electric fence. When I was working in this area of safety, my advice from the guy at H&SE was "There is no safe limit for electric shock."

          There is a lot of superstition around electric shock, but few people really want to research the subject, or rather, the ones who do work for secretive government organisations like the CIA, the SAS and the KGB, and tend not to publish the results of their experiments.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Two stories:

            "Why are electric fences legal, [...]"

            There was a case where cows standing in a field died because of the voltage difference along the ground between two distribution poles.

            IIRC in a thunderstorm you should squat on the ground to minimise your height. You should not lie flat as that increases the potential difference along the body if there is a nearby lightning strike.

            1. Jelder

              Re: Two stories:

              Yup - squat on the ground, in a ditch or dip and keep your feet together - even the differential between your feet can be dangerous.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Two stories:

            "There is a lot of superstition around electric shock, [...]"

            Ex-PM Margaret Thatcher was alleged to use an electric bath treatment as an elixir.

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: Two stories:

              Ex-PM Margaret Thatcher was alleged to use an electric bath treatment as an elixir

              Yeah - but the 'leccy was probably afraid of her..

              (One of my favourite Spitting Image skits was the restaurant scene with her and the Cabinet..)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Two stories:

        I used to help out with the sound system at one church. The baptistry was just behind and above the podium, which was on a 3' stage. There was a small access room under the baptistry, which was a convenient place to access microphone cables, so that's where the sound system was put in. Absolutely no way to see what was going on outside. We got used to sitting in "the submarine", listening to footsteps on the stage to figure out which microphone was about to be used.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Two stories:

        "I didn't mention it's only 48 volts"

        The safe voltage is normally given as 50v max. However it depends on the skin conductivity. In high humidity jungle areas there was once a 32v supply - and that killed people.

        The old saying " Volts jolt - mills kills"

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Two stories:

          The old saying " Volts jolt - mills kills"

          But with regard to phantom power, while the standard can supply up to (IIRC) 250mA, it is at quite a high source impedance. Even in a bath, I'd be very surprised if anyone got more than a bit of a tingle from holding a stripped microphone cable.

          M.

      4. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Two stories:

        Curate: "I need to hold a microphone when I'm baptising so-and-so."

        Solved that at the Baptist chapel I grew up in by using two cheap pressure zone or boundary microphones firmly screwed to something wooden around the pool. Not the best or clearest sound, but perfectly sufficient and they were a: cheap, and b: next best thing to waterproof. This isn't quite the thing, but similar

        Standard waterproofing for a microphone, I hear, is a condom, by the way.

        As for radio microphones, yes there are cheap ones that can be horribly unreliable, but if you are willing to spend a little bit more there are some nice ones about. For example, at work we have several Sennheiser G3 series microphones which have been rock solid (and they use AAs), though we do use them on "co-ordinated" spectrum. I'd recommend staying clear of UHF channel 70 but if you don't want to pay for co-ordinated channels, the "shared" channel 38 licence is a bit cheaper.

        The G3 retails at about £800 a set (inc. VAT), but Sennheiser also produces the XSW and XSW2 series which come in significantly cheaper. The XSW2 has very similar features to the G3 series for well under £400. The XS is a bit more spartan and is perhaps half that price.

        M.

      5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: Two stories:

        Curate: "I need to hold a microphone when I'm baptising so-and-so."

        Has nobody taught these people to project their voices. What did they think preachers did in the days before PA equipment?

      6. Herby Silver badge

        Re: Two stories:

        Voltages on microphones...

        Well unless you are using phantom voltage, the voltages in a microphone are usually VERY minimal (less than a volt most of the time). The typical mic has a small dynamic element and not much else. Yes, the phantom circuit is 48 volts (sometimes less) that provides bias to electret microphones need biasing and amplification.

        Yes there is a problem around water, and I wouldn't go near it with audio equipment.

      7. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Two stories:

        "That radio mic cost £1,500. We can get more curates, we'll never get the budget for another mic."

        Mains-powered mic it is, then.

    3. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Two stories:

      One of the retail stores I supported was trialling doing light fittings and had a few hanging ones for sale. Now the day I'm in that showroom a woman comes in and says she wants her money back on one of these lights. The thing consisted of a hook at the top of a single chain that ran down to a metal shade and bulb holder. I was asked to come over and talk to her because despite it being one of the products they sold no one had any electrical experience. Turned out that there was nothing wrong with the light function (I checked) her complaint was with the design. "It doesn't hang straight in my house!" So I held it up and it looked fine to me but I needed to be sure. So I got a step ladder and hung it from that and then with a spirt level showed that it was hanging perfectly vertically. She was adamant that in her house it didn't though and still wanted her money back. I asked if she had any pictures of this phenomenon but sadly she didn't. I said that it wasn't us she needed to talk to but the National Physical Laboratory or someone like that because her house defied the laws of physics.

      She got her money back as a gesture of goodwill unfortunately. What I suspected had happened was her husband had seen it and found out how much it cost. He'd had a fit and she'd then had to come back to get her cash back.

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: Two stories:

        What I suspected had happened was her husband had seen it and found out how much it cost. He'd had a fit and she'd then had to come back to get her cash back.

        I'm assuming that the downvote was from either her or her husband. In which case does your house still have a problem with gravity?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Two stories:

          "I'm assuming that the downvote was from either her or her husband. In which case does your house still have a problem with gravity?"

          It could have just been an old house that's not quite level any more. A neighbour up the street put in a new kitchen and did it all with plumb bobs and spirit levels. It looked wonky when he was done.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Two stories:

            It could have just been an old house that's not quite level any more

            Or even a modern house built by one of the companies whose only aquaintance with quality is in the advertising blurb..

  3. lglethal Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "But my laptop doesn't need one!"

    "Yes, well your mobile phone can survive without a battery as well, but you will need an extra long power cord plugged in at all times..."

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      No, she said it didn't need one, even when unplugged, because the battery is sealed and built-in. Out of sight, out of mind, no? She could be if the mind the phone works a la Tesla: sucking the power out of the air.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        re: batteries not included

        Confession time.

        In college we rented the normal "young ones" shared house and the ignition in the gas cooker stopped working after a few weeks.

        A group of physics/engineering/math undergraduates tried to guess how it worked - piezo-electric button, catalytic from gas+air cell, thermocouple and a capacitor ?)

        At the end of the year somebody looked under the cooker (not like we ever cleaned) and said "hey there's a battery here!"

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "No, she said it didn't need one, even when unplugged, because the battery is sealed and built-in. Out of sight, out of mind, no?"

        So we have to assume she never noticed the battery monitor icon or let the battery get low enough for a warning to pop up?

  4. Aqua Marina Silver badge

    My sister once blew the cylinder head gasket of her first car killing it. The mechanic asked her when she last topped up the engine with water. “You put petrol in cars, not water!” Came the scolding reply.

    30 years later and we still remind her of it.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Perhaps a little basic maintenance / checking should be included in the driving test? Low tyre pressure, low power steering fluid etc are dangerous. I would say RTFM, but many novice motorists drive second hand cars with missing manuals.

      I've assisted a neighbour locate the water tank under the bonnet of her new Audi (not immediately obvious) and spent a minute with a mechanic of decades experience trying to find the dipstick in my VW Transporter (the engine wasn't one of the three variants pictured in the manual).

      1. Dave K Silver badge

        >>"Perhaps a little basic maintenance / checking should be included in the driving test?"

        Actually, it is these days. There's a couple of basic questions before you set off relating to this and the instructor will ask you to raise the bonnet and will ask a couple of simple questions such as how to check the oil level, how to check the coolant level etc. Can't remember off-hand when it was added to the test mind you, but it was certainly there back in 2005 when I took my test.

        1. Steve 53

          Re: New???

          If i recall correctly from 2005

          How to check the oil, tread depth ("Must be 1.6mm over the inner 3/4 of the entire circumference of the tyre"), check tire pressure ("Using a reliable pressure gauge"), break fluid, lights are working ("Turn them on and walk round")

          Nobody covers high-beams vs dip though!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: New???

            I hope they ask the ones who turn up to take their test in a BMW if they have had the optional indicators fitted.

          2. qwertyuiop
            WTF?

            Re: New???

            "lights are working ("Turn them on and walk round")...

            And how does that work for your brake lights? :-)

            1. David Nash Silver badge

              Re: New???

              And how does that work for your brake lights? :-)

              Park in front of a shiny surface and look in your rear-view mirror (is there any other kind, BTW?)

            2. Martin an gof Silver badge

              Re: New???

              And how does that work for your brake lights? :-)

              In my case, reverse up to the garage door and look through the mirror ;-)

              M.

            3. Disk0
              Holmes

              Re: New???

              Apply the handbrake. Highly recommended when exiting your vehicle, to prevent it from succumbing to gravity..

            4. This post has been deleted by its author

            5. Martin-73 Silver badge

              Re: New???

              Back up to a window of some kind is my usual trick for brake lights :)

            6. This post has been deleted by its author

            7. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: New???

              "And how does that work for your brake lights? :-)"

              Brake lights are also supposed to engage with the parking brakes.

              1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                Re: New???

                Brake lights are also supposed to engage with the parking brakes

                Not around here they aren't. In which jurisdiction does that apply?

                M.

                1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

                  Re: New???

                  That's right, not many cars illuminate braking lights when applying a handbrake. So it'll need either a broomstick, a white wall as suggested upthread, or an eager teenager to help with checking out those lights.

            8. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

              Re: New???

              "lights are working ("Turn them on and walk round")...

              And how does that work for your brake lights? :-)

              Look for reflections in shop windows when you brake. Best done when stationary.

              Not much good if you live in the middle of of a desert.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: New???

                "Not much good if you live in the middle of of a desert."

                True, but there's not likely to much traffic behind you watching out for your emergency stop when a camel steps out in front of you at a zebra crossing.

                1. onefang Silver badge

                  Re: New???

                  "emergency stop when a camel steps out in front of you at a zebra crossing."

                  That'll be the camels fault for using the wrong crossing. Makes me wonder, when you do hit a camel, is there one thump or two?

        2. LDS Silver badge

          "how to check the oil level"

          A few weeks ago I left my car bonnet open, and my father was looking for the oil dipstick - just, there is no one. The oil check is performed only from the car computer.

          When I took my test they were still explaining how engines designed at least thirty years earlier worked, but more and more engines no longer had a carburetor, ignition distributor, etc etc, but more and more cars was adding electronic ignition, power steering, air conditioning, etc. etc. thus, different troubleshooting and checks were needed.

          Tests can really became obsolete before bureaucracy updates them.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: "how to check the oil level"

            Our receptionist got a new Audi A3 years ago and the owner wasn't supposed to open the bonnet.

            There was a pop out panel behind the grill with washer fluid + oil - everything else was for the dealer.

            It made sense for her

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "how to check the oil level"

              My latest Volvo XC60 has a large expanse of get plastic under the bonnet with just two splashes of colour - one (blue) is the washer fluid cap, the other is the Red positive battery terminal. Seems like car manufacturers really don't want owners messing these days.

              Back in the days when we had company cars I remember a manager saying that she had never been under the bonnet of her car - I asked about filling the washer bottle. Her response - 'if the washer bottle's empty then it needs a service'.

              1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

                'if the washer bottle's empty then it needs a service'

                I worked with a bloke who used that philosophy,

                We all considered him a heathen.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Took me ages to find the washer tank on the wife's new A4 too! It's at the very base of the windscreen pillar, but the bonnet pivots as it opens so it's not "in" the engine bay as it were and noti visible / reachable when your head is under the bonnet.

        1. Symon Silver badge
          Trollface

          I thought that the washer tank was an optional extra on an Audi? It's not much use to many Audi drivers, they're not looking out anyway...

          https://youtu.be/mfFcTv0wIw4

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            On the LandRover MK1 you had to remove the cushion on the driver's seat - and there was the petrol tank cap.

            Getting petrol caps to unlock on modern hire cars is often a job of RTFM.

            1. Bill M

              Land Rover MK2

              My Land Rover MK2 had 2 petrol tanks one with the cap under the front passenger seat and the other with its cap outside by the rear wheel. Security for the outside one was a padlock, simple and effective.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Land Rover MK2

                "Security for the outside one was a padlock, simple and effective."

                LandRovers used to come as a massive Lego set of options in the sales catalogue. Just about everything was an optional extra - even a rear view mirror.

                In Africa in 1973 I bought a 1956 CKD 86" one - the same owner since new. The front doors were locked by inserting a metal pin like a nail - from the outside. The Leyland garage spares department provided some lock attachments that used a key to secure the mechanism.

                1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                  Re: Land Rover MK2

                  The front doors were locked by inserting a metal pin like a nail - from the outside

                  The old boy who does the servicing on my wife's Morris Minor often turns up on (or in) whatever old vehicle he is currently working on. So once it was a 1950's BSA motorbike and the last time it was a 1940's era Morris 8.

                  He parked it outside the house and got out. We noticed that he didn't lock it - turns out that it didn't even come with locks - they were not considered necessary.

                  Tempus fugit and all that.

              2. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

                Re: Land Rover MK2

                So easy to byoass that padlock - just use a screwdriver to loosen the rubber fuel pipe leading from the filler neck to the tank, slide it down and out of the way, and then siphon some fuel out, and reverse the removal.

                Owner just write it off as evaporation or a malfuntioning fuel meter.

                1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

                  Siphoning fuel

                  This when you wanted some fuel for another car...

                  Morris Minors and the original Minis had an electric fuel pump.

                  Disconnect the feed to the carburettor, stick a suiable receptable underneath to catch the fuel, then switch the ignition on. Wait until you have enough then switch igintion off.

                  The pump was at the rear near the fuel tank. It made a useful early warning when you were running out of fuel (think skint student). When you heard it ticking you only had a mile or two to find more juice.

                  1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                    Re: Siphoning fuel

                    The pump was at the rear near the fuel tank.

                    Err.. not on the Morris Minor 1000 that we have it isn't - it's attached to the front bulkhead, just behind and above the carb..

                    I know because I've replaced the damned thing twice (admittedly in 26 years). And discovered that not doing up the earth wiring tightly enough can result in some interesting smoke wafting into the cabin..

                    It's possible that the current placement is an aftermarket mod done by the MMC after they refurbed the car but I doubt it.

                    (Me to wife: "Can you fire it up now to see if the new pump works?". W2m: "is there supposed to be white smoke coming through the dashboard?" M2w: "No - turn it off NOW!". Fortunately the fabric-covered rubber insulation survived mostly intact and insulting tape+gaffer tape covered up the rest..And the new pertol pump worked..)

                    1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

                      Re: Siphoning fuel

                      "The pump was at the rear near the fuel tank.

                      Err.. not on the Morris Minor 1000 that we have it isn't - it's attached to the front bulkhead, just behind and above the carb.."

                      I think you are correct. I was concentrating on the Mini as I wrote.

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Land Rover MK2

                "[...] had 2 petrol tanks [...]"

                Presumably one was fitted as an extra? My under-seat one held 10 gallons - and at high-ish altitude the car only did about 10 mpg.

                1. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

                  Re: Land Rover MK2

                  Twin tanks were often fitted to diesel-fuelled farm landrovers, so that the police/Customs had one tank full of white diesel to dip and check that yes, it was legal road diesel. The vehicle actually was usually run off the other tank, the one with agricultural red diesel in it...

                  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                    Re: Land Rover MK2

                    "police/Customs had one tank full of white diesel to dip and check that yes, it was legal road diesel. The vehicle actually was usually run off the other tank, the one with agricultural red diesel in it."

                    And I'm quite sure the police/Customs know about that one.

            2. phuzz Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Just after I passed my test I had to put petrol in my (mum's) car for the first time.

              I was pretty sure I knew how it worked, having watched people do it many times before. So I park next to the pump, get out, stick the key in the lock, turn the key and try to remove the cap.

              No deal. For some reason the cap would just revolve, without ever unscrewing. So, I put the key back in, lock it and unlock it again and keep trying, but still no success.

              I kept fiddling for five minutes, trying to lock and unlock it multiple times, while my bother, who was sat in the car with his girlfriend of the time got more and more embarrassed. I even tried asking a bloke who'd just driven up but he had no idea.

              It wasn't until I tried locking the cap and then turning it that I realised what was happening. My mum hadn't bothered to lock the petrol cap, so every time I'd "unlocked" it, I'd actually been locking it, which made it freewheel rather than unscrew.

              I did feel like a bit of a numpty.

            3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              "On the LandRover MK1 you had to remove the cushion on the driver's seat - and there was the petrol tank cap."

              MGB batteries - two of them, 6v each, were under the rear seat, either side of the transmission tunnel.

              1. elkster88

                "MGB batteries - two of them, 6v each, were under the rear seat, either side of the transmission tunnel."

                So right. And they were hung from a sort of open metal basket arrangement, which was particularly prone to rust. I discovered both of them hanging from their cables, dragging on the road, after driving over a surprisingly large speed hump at a rate of knots. After that, they were replaced by a single 12V battery living in the boot, where I reckoned it was less likely to make a bid for freedom.

          2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            I thought that the washer tank was an optional extra on an Audi?

            No - it's the indicators that are the optional extra. As well as distance perception..

      3. DuchessofDukeStreet

        Car Maintenance Checks

        My dad refused to allow me to apply for my provisional licence until I'd learnt how to a lot of the basic maintenance and repair checks: checking and replacing fluids incl oil, changing a tyre, etc. This was on the grounds that he couldn't bear the idea of another mechanically incompetent driver in the household - at that time my mum hadn't even put fuel in her car in ten years and hasn't ever done since . In theory I still know how to do all of these things but it's been a long time since I've done anything more than check levels and pour some liquids into the correct reservoir.

      4. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

        "trying to find the dipstick in my VW Transporter (the engine wasn't one of the three variants pictured in the manual)."

        When I needed to replace a headlamp bulb in a 1997 Audi, the handbook showed that it was a simple matter of replacing the old bulb from the rear of the headlamp unit, inside the bonnet.

        Ah, they'd photographed the easy side. The headlamp on other side was buried behind a mass of aircon trunking, which had to be removed first.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          The headlamp on other side was buried behind a mass of aircon trunking, which had to be removed first.

          Yeah - but Audi cars are supposed to be bought by people rich^W effluent[1] enough to not worry about trivia like servicing (or reality)..

          [1] Spilling misteek amusing enough to leave in..

    2. EastFinchleyite

      Car Battery

      In my final year at school (1973) I worked weekends at a garage and petrol filling station in the Lewes Road, Brighton, now long gone.

      A lady arrived in a well kept old style Mini, which we filled with petrol. Car would not restart. It was a Sunday and the service centre was shut so I did a few checks. Turn on the lights - a bit of a glow. Try to start engine - small click and the lights go out >= dead battery.

      I asked when the battery was last checked and the lady replied that the car didn't have a battery. She opened the bonnet (hood) to prove her point - no battery.

      I went around the back, opened the boot (trunk) removed the custom built trays and thick carpet to reveal the battery box. "Oh, I've had the car from new and didn't know about that". The car was about five years old.

      A litre of battery water later and a jump start and we had some life although I told her that the battery was best part dead.

      The irony is that she had the car serviced at the garage she bought it from and I expect our service manager got a stiff call on the next Monday.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Car Battery

        Porsche 944 UK version.

        Battery is in the boot.

        Boot locks controlled by solenoids.

        Flat battery, can't open boot.

        Risk serious spinal damage wriggling in over back seat to sort things out.

    3. JimboSmith Silver badge

      A mate's mum had a Range Rover many years ago in the 80s that she bought new. She complained that it often wouldn't start but despite her first hand experience the garage refused to believe her. She was convinced it was the battery that was at fault but they weren't going to accept her diagnosis. So on the third trip to the garage she dropped it off at 5pm and was going to be there at 9am the next day to discuss it. The Range Rover garage staff were able to start drive and park the car for the overnight stay. Next morning they went to retrieve it with her and the boss of the dealership looking on. It won't start and there are a few red faces. After testing the battery there is a at least one dead cell in it. Whenever she'd brought it in the car had been running obviously and that had charged the battery. So when they checked everything was fine, overnight however it was a different story.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "After testing the battery there is a at least one dead cell in it."

        Quality British Customer Service.....

        1. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Quality British Customer Service.....

          Yeah I know, they obviously thought what can a woman possibly know about cars. She's obviously just trying to look clever. They did give her an apology, a new battery and a full service for nothing to try and make up for their behaviour.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "She complained that it often wouldn't start [...]"

        The Series A and possibly B Range Rovers had a big starting handle. As a low compression engine it was theoretically possible to use it. My big rugby playing pal tried to do it one day. No way could he get enough momentum to get it to fire. Not sure is anyone made a geared attachment accessory for that purpose. After that I fitted a twin battery system.

        One winter's morning there was a knock on the door. The stranger was the latest owner of my old Range Rover and wanted some advice on a battery problem. It would only charge at very high revs. After a few minutes under the bonnet I realised that someone had changed the alternator.

        I had upgraded to a high capacity alternator with the twin battery charging kit. This system had a large blocking diode - so the alternator had a separate lead connected to one of the batteries to sense the voltage. Whoever had fitted the new alternator had put in the bog standard low capacity one that took its sensing from inside the alternator.

        I explained to the guy the reason I had pensioned off the car a few years earlier - when it was then 16 years old. I had been getting tired of working under the bonnet on freezing cold days.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          The Series A and possibly B Range Rovers had a big starting handle.

          As does the Morris Minor. First time I tried to use it the kickback nearly broke my wrist.

          Turns out that even a piddle 1098cc engine can be hard work to turn over manually. For the rest of the time it took us to replace the battery I used to use the motorbike kickstart technique[1] to start the Morris..

          [1] Use your foot, turn it slowly until just before ignition then give it an almighty push with your foot. Then step back sharpish so that any kickback doesn't hit your shin becuase it really, really hurts.. Either that or wear motorbike boots..

        2. onefang Silver badge

          "The Series A and possibly B Range Rovers had a big starting handle. As a low compression engine it was theoretically possible to use it. My big rugby playing pal tried to do it one day. No way could he get enough momentum to get it to fire."

          My Yamaha RZ-350 motorbike was so easy to push start, sit on it and roll it down the drive way ramp from the footpath, it would start before it hit the road. Kick starter, not electric starter. I theorized that I could hand crank it to start it, and tried that one day. Worked perfectly.

          That bike was lots of fun, so easy to throw it around corners. It's designed as a road racer. I learned to ride on dirt bikes, often rode it like it was a dirt bike. Went camping with a bunch of folks one day, after several days of light rain, we decided it was a good idea to leave now. I left last, caught up to every one, drive circles around them on the muddy track just to show off, then zoomed ahead, to wait for them on the paved road. With bald tyres instead of knobbies.

          1. onefang Silver badge

            That previously mentioned RZ-350 (thought of this just after the edit time out) was very lightweight to, made mostly from lightweight composites, too easy to get it into the air. Was driving down an otherwise empty suburban street one day, saw a car coming the other way, with a speed bump between us. I figured if I sped up just enough, I'd hit the bump at just the right speed to be air born as I passed them, and for extra points, I did that on the wrong side of the road.

    4. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      “You put petrol in cars, not water!” Came the scolding reply.

      Ah. That reminds me of a farmer who knackered his tractor engine. When mechanics suggested that it may have been due to a bad oil, he snorted "Nah, it cannot be. There wasn't any oil in it."

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had a customer who edited MSDOS.SYS (it was a while ago) in Notepad (or whatever the equivalent was in 1992), managed to save it, thus truncating it and stopping the computer from booting. That was impressive, what was more impressive was the fact a tech I worked with figured out what happened.

    1. LDS Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Poor lad, probably someone had told him to edit CONFIG.SYS and he made just a "small" mistake...

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        A 'small' mistake by very deliberately opening a file that has hidden and system attributes set, precisely so you can't do that..

        1. LDS Silver badge

          IIRC tools like Norton Commander could display them - and probably also let you try to open and edit them.

    2. Korev Silver badge
      Mushroom

      "in Notepad (or whatever the equivalent was in 1992)"

      Probably edlin...

      ...which I don't miss -->

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        '92 would be edit.com, shipped with DOS 5.0.

        I thought edit arrived before then, but apparently not, which means that when I was running the horrid DOS 4.01 I was probably editing files using RPED, because most of the machines I was using were Amstrads.

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Pint

          I wrote

          "in Notepad (or whatever the equivalent was in 1992)"

          Probably edlin..."

          BinkyTheMagicPaperclip wrote

          '92 would be edit.com, shipped with DOS 5.0."

          I think you're probably right, have one on me -->

        2. Toastan Buttar

          MS Edit vs Edlin

          My brother worked for a bank before retiring. During the '90s, he would sometimes have to demonstrate something on another department's PC (running some variant of MS-DOS and 16-bit Windows). I was visiting him one evening and he explained what he was going to demonstrate the next day, which involved editing a text file through the command line (it may have been CONFIG.SYS or AUTOEXEC.BAT). He was reasonably familiar with the MS-DOS commands and EDIT, having a PC at home in those "pre-internet" days. However, I warned him that older versions of MS-DOS wouldn't have EDIT available - he'd have to use EDLIN instead. I gave him a quick tutorial on the basics.

          Turns out that he did in fact have to revert to EDLIN. Thereafter, he was held in awe as some sort of programming guru by his banking colleagues.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: MS Edit vs Edlin

            "Turns out that he did in fact have to revert to EDLIN. "

            Absolute worst case is to find there is no editor of any kind on the system. Probably because someone wanted to get rid of files they never use to make a bit of extra space on the HDD (or floppy, if there was no HDD)

            That meant the only way to "edit" config.sys or autoexec.bat was to TYPE the file, hoping it would all fit on screen at once (usually the case), then retype the file back in with the changes using COPY CON: CONFIG.SYS, ending with a CTRL-Z EOF marker, carefully checking each line as you type it. Bonus points for doing the COPY CON: direct to the said file and screwing it up as the original file scrolls off the screen. You only do that once.

      2. Nick Kew Silver badge

        in Notepad (or whatever the equivalent was in 1992)

        There were vi clones around at the time.

        I recollect one called pcz that did a decent job on smallish text files, but was completely unable to load anything big. Never investigated, but I suspect there was a 16-bit size somewhere in there.

        Or maybe that was another vi clone, and pcz was better than that. Damn, no memory for that kind of detail.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "There were vi clones around at the time."

          There certainly were. I had one which was such an exact clone it needed a c:etc\termcap file.

        2. Shart Tank

          > > in Notepad (or whatever the equivalent was in 1992)

          > There were vi clones around at the time.

          In the late 80s, I was using an emacs clone called Lugaru Epsilon on MS-DOS PCs.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            n the late 80s, I was using an emacs clone called Lugaru Epsilon

            [Shakes head sadly].

            Lost to the dark side so long ago. My sympathies.

            (I mostly used a PC version of the IBM mainframe editor (xedit) - I think the PC version was called kedit. Came complete with the Rexx language. Had it on OS/2 as well)

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Probably edlin..."

        We found that "Brief" editor made life so much easier. IIRC you could write macros to do quite intricate modifications. Apparently still available - might resurrect a copy as I find so many Windows editorss are poor at doing a complex change.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          We found that "Brief" editor made life so much easier

          I still have a boxed )probably unopened) copy of that at home. I 'obtained' a copy from somewhere and liked it enough that I bought it.

          Carried on using the version I already had..

      4. Anonymous IV

        >

        "in Notepad (or whatever the equivalent was in 1992)"

        Probably edlin...

        ...which I don't miss -->

        For a very long time I thought that LinkedIn was a more sophisticated version of Edlin...

        (Later I realised that it actually was!)

      5. JohnG Silver badge

        "Probably edlin...

        ...which I don't miss -->"

        But better than:

        COPY CON: CONFIG.SYS

        type without any mistakes

        Ctrl-Z

    3. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      How the heck did said customer got access to MSDOS.SYS if it had the hidden, readonly and system file attributes set?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The admin person complained her PC had stopped working after she rebooted. She had been running low on disk space - so had deleted a lot of unnecessary stuff. All the files in C:\

      1. Anne Hunny Mouse

        My parents did the same thing with Windows 95 on a 486...

    5. Patrician

      Are you sure it wasn't CONFIG.SYS they edited? I'm pretty sure I remember that trying to "Edit MSDOS.SYS" just in resulted in several beeps from the PC speaker and a few (four or five) random symbols being displayed in "EDIT"?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "I'm pretty sure I remember that trying to "Edit MSDOS.SYS" just in resulted in several beeps from the PC speaker and a few (four or five) random symbols being displayed in "EDIT"?"

        If a user has jumped the hoops required to get that far, then yes, that's what will happen. If they then save instead of exit, the file will be screwed.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My old trick

      was to add the line "Type clock$" to the autoexec.bat file.

      Watch the goons at Rumbelows running round like headless chickens trying to figure out what happened to all their "PCs". Hehehe. I miss the old days.

    7. Steve Cooper

      You could edit MSDOS.SYS as it was a text file from Windows 9x days - earlier than that it was a binary file.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        @Steve

        Thanks for remembering that - I thought I was going mad with all this talk of editing a binary file :)

    8. onefang Silver badge

      "Had a customer who edited MSDOS.SYS (it was a while ago) in Notepad (or whatever the equivalent was in 1992), managed to save it,"

      I've done something similar, on purpose. Edited some executable binary using a text editor, coz that's all I had at hand at the time, and I knew I could get away with it, coz the change needed was only to some string buried in the file.

  6. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    PEBFAD...

    Problem Exists Between Floor And Device.

    1. djvrs

      Re: PEBFAD...

      PICNIC

      Problem In Chair Not In Computer

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: PEBFAD...

        Chair to Keyboard Interface error

    2. Spanners Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: PEBFAD...

      I prefer "Level 8 Error".

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thats right up there with

    PC cup holder (and laptop equivalent)

    Not realizing that laptops *need* charging. When the battery dies, it just shuts down but often "seems" alive if you press the power button enough times it might turn on then shut down again.

    Not plugging in the power supply to the mains, thanks to really stupid design.

    I mean it has a mains light FFS, at least most of them do.

    "Hey, it works fine without power.. " For about 20 seconds if unplugged. Duh.

    Putting pre-burned or coastered disk in the BDR drive and wondering why it won't write.

    3 1/2" disk in the 5 1/4" bay

    Itty bitty CDR provided with some BT and Wifi dongles inserted into Macbooks/etc

    (double facepalm, for those times a single facepalm isn't enough!)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thats right up there with

      "I mean it has a mains light FFS, at least most of them do"

      Some modern Dell laptops have the power-on led on the right hand edge of the base - sometimes in the hinge power button. Not obvious.

      With W7 (8/10?) not giving a progress report for hibernation - it is possible for people to think the PC is off and starting shoving it into its bag while the disk is still in continuous use.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Thats right up there with

        The new Dell AIOs... delivered one to a professor, who came round about 30 minutes later and asked if it came with a manual, because he was f***ed if he could see where the power button was. I had to concur - I couldn't find it either, but stumbled across it by accident as I gripped the f***ing thing ready to hurl it out of the window.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Thats right up there with

          One of our office PCs is an Asus. It's the usual black metal tower, with a shiny plastic cap on the top. Where the shiny plastic top meets the metal is a small plastic piece of trim that goes all the way round the computer.

          A small part of this plastic trim is the on switch. It's been marked by slightly etching a power symbol on it. which is fucking invisble because it's a bit of black writing on a black switch on a black background in the blackness under a desk.

          Who's stupid fucking idea was that!?!? Hotblack Desiato.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Thats right up there with

            Ah yes, they put the fans on public display, presumably because they are functional, whereas they hide the on button, presumably because it isn't.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Thats right up there with

            "A small part of this plastic trim is the on switch"

            My Samsung 2693 monitor is like that. Shiny black bezel - touch sensitive "button" areas marked in dark grey that are just about impossible to read without a strong direct light.

            The screen has the nice feature of rotation between landscape and portrait mode. A right-handed person will grasp the bottom corner to rotate it. Which puts your thumb right on the "power button" area...

            My Sony radio/amp has a thin silver strip across the front of a black box. On the top surface of the amp are lots of black buttons with very hard to read dark grey tiny legends. No sign of a power button.

            The continuous silver strip on the front has a tiny amount of flexing at one end - that's the power switch function.

            Mind you - it only cost me £12 from the charity shop - and another £12 to buy a clone remote control to be able to use it easily.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Thats right up there with

              The continuous silver strip on the front has a tiny amount of flexing at one end - that's the power switch function.

              Sounds like Johnny Ive's been moonlighting.

          3. Mark 85 Silver badge

            @I ain't Spartacus -- Re: Thats right up there with

            What we did for some of those (we only had a few luckily) was a piece of stickyback with "Power" and an arrow pointing to the switch stuck to the appropriate place. Save us a lot of calls to marketing of the "my PC won't turn on" variety. Marketing being marketing, there were/are special and have lots of non-company standard equipment.

          4. ROC

            Re: Thats right up there with

            Must be following the same "design" concepts of web UI's that use faint grey text on white backgrounds.

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Thats right up there with

            "Where the shiny plastic top meets the metal is a small plastic piece of trim that goes all the way round the computer.etc"

            Yes, we have a few like that at the place I do some volunteer work, for public to use.(I'm not doing anything there IT related, if I can avoid it.) I hate it when I have to put someone onto a computer that has been shut down by a previous user. It just looks so not-cool to sit prodding at bits of trim until one of them moves and the power comes on.

        2. keith_w

          Re: Thats right up there with

          Down vote because you didn't bother to check that it was working before leaving.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thats right up there with

      I had an elderly chap who simply could not grasp that cd's can only go in one way.

      The amount of call outs we had to simply find the Pre recorded CD was in upside down.

      Nice old geezer though, paid his bills so we didn't mind having to "remind" him.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Thats right up there with

      "Itty bitty CDR provided with some BT and Wifi dongles inserted into Macbooks/etc"

      Ah, yes, mini CDs or rectangular "business card" CDs pushed into a trayless optical drive.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Thats right up there with

        Ah, yes, mini CDs or rectangular "business card" CDs pushed into a trayless optical drive.

        SiL: My laptop won't open the mini-disk. I assumed she'd got hold of one of those critters. The "mini-disk" was an SD card. Some junk that had been installed had taken over the SD slot. Bloody Windows.

    4. onefang Silver badge

      Re: Thats right up there with

      And what some one did to my Amiga computer once. Has a DB 25 printer port, and a DB 23 monitor port, this idiot had some how managed to plug my monitor into the printer port, then wondered why it wouldn't boot. Luckily a little work with my needle nosed pliers fixed up the bent pins.

  8. stu 4

    Musk Space Ship

    I reckon the real reason Musk is being a busy beaver is so we have our very own Golgafrinchan Ark Fleet Ship B.

    We need to start the ad campaign soon - Mars lets you tan in seconds... you weight so much less..red is the new black....

    1. Mycho Silver badge

      Re: Musk Space Ship

      You do know what happenned to the rest of the Golgafrinchans, right?

      1. Solarflare

        Re: Musk Space Ship

        Perhaps keep the telephone sanitisers off the ark this time?

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "Perhaps keep the telephone sanitisers off the ark this time?"

          Adams didn't know they would go extinct well before planetary travels... the disease could spread over WhatsApp, anyway...

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Musk Space Ship

      "I reckon the real reason Musk is being a busy beaver is so we have our very own Golgafrinchan Ark Fleet Ship B."

      You realise of course we ARE the descendants of the Golgafrinchan B ark, don't you? You can only imagine what the waste of space the useless part of the original useless part of that original pGolgafrinchan population must be. Not to mention that we really need to KEEP the telephone sanitisers!

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Musk Space Ship

        Mobile phones are like syringes, don't share them.

  9. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge

    And also some stuff you just can't put in an ad these days.

    Why not?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And also some stuff you just can't put in an ad these days.

      Because some prudish, offended at anything, SJW snowflake, wet eared, Lilly livered liberal broccoli warrior tells us that we cant.

      1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: And also some stuff you just can't put in an ad these days.

        Nah, the only offensive part was the bit where they flashed some Yahoo :)

        Or that it's false advertising if you can't use your phone as a knife.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: And also some stuff you just can't put in an ad these days.

          You probably can't kick a bear in the nuts and steal his salmon either, but I bet you could run the John West advert again :)

          1. Swarthy Silver badge

            Re: And also some stuff you just can't put in an ad these days.

            "Oi, Look! An eagle!"

      2. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: And also some stuff you just can't put in an ad these days.

        "Because some prudish, offended at anything, SJW snowflake, wet eared, Lilly livered liberal broccoli warrior tells us that we cant."

        Dear me cornz 1, did someone suggest you shouldn't be able to buy a bumpstock for your bazooka today?

  10. wyatt

    We use to get people asking if their data had still been captured when the server was off, they could never comprehend why not for some reason. We had a few people ask why kit wasn't working when they had a power cut, not for a long time though.

    My wife doesn't like plugging in her laptop 'because it has a battery', then frequently moans when it's flat.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Many years ago I realised that using a laptop with extra keyboar/screen/mouse was effectively a UPS for the PC in case of power failure, especially when working from home.

      Saved me a lot of lost work at one point did that decision when our local substation decided to be temper-mental.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        UPS for the PC

        The power where I live is - despite being very nearly urban - quite unreliable (though it's better since they replaced the single transformer that powers the whole village). Long ago I moved the single small UPS protecting the main computer and monitor to the NAS and comms kit, and bought a somewhat larger one which can hold up two AMD PCs, a Mac mini, an Acorn RiscPC, a Raspberry Pi, all their associated USB hubs, network switches and monitors and the printer* for several minutes (less if the printer's printing). Since most of our power cuts are only for a few seconds, or maybe a few minutes, this is perfectly sufficient and well worth the expense to avoid the wailing and gnashing of teeth associated with the loss of an hour of unsaved homework.

        M.

        *the printer is a Xerox solid-ink Phaser. If it loses power it has to go through a very expensive cleaning cycle. I know they say never to power laser (or phaser) printers from a UPS, but this is a sine-wave jobbie, has a kVA rating well above the maximum requirements of the printer, and it all seems to cope very well. I love the printer, but apparently not enough other people did as it seems that Xerox no longer manufactures any solid ink printers.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Joke

      "My wife doesn't like plugging in her laptop 'because it has a battery', then frequently moans when it's flat."

      Most battery operated devices will run for days/weeks/months/years off a cheap battery. You'd think a feckin' expensive laptop could last for more than a few feckin' hours off it;s expensive battery!

    3. fruitoftheloon
      Happy

      @wyatt

      Wyatt,

      funny you should say that, my missus still wonders every now and then why her tablet thingy doesn't work, at which point I remind her [again] to perhaps charge it up occasionally.

      Ooi she has a masters in nuclear medicine & astrophysics and can design linear accelerators, but keep a phone & tablet charge? WAY too challenging.

      Still makes me chortle anyway...

      Jay

  11. wolfetone Silver badge

    I had the V3i (which was the brushed silver one with the blue flashing light). Still is the best phone I ever had. Battery lasted for days, the camera had a super quick shutter speed so there was never a blurry photo. Internet, at the time at least, was reasonably good. And you could tether it with a USB!

    That all changed one night when I was on my friends phone speaking to my then girlfriend who was being a completely selfish c**t. Anyway, I was playing with my V3i and I ended up snapping it in half with my one hand.

    When all i said and done, I deeply regret the damage I did to that phone.

    1. Nick London

      Wolftone treat yourself. http://www.ebay.co.uk/bhp/motorola-v3i

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        "Wolftone treat yourself. http://www.ebay.co.uk/bhp/motorola-v3i"

        Oh you tease!

        I'm already in the dog house with the wife for getting another old car (Subaru Legacy 2000 vintage). If I come home with one of them she will serve me divorce papers.

        I wonder...

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          "I wonder..."

          My wife has told me, categorically, that she is leaving me if (when?) I ever go bald.

          The number of times that memory entered my mind whilst being asked what I wanted when sat in the chair at the hairdressers :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wolfetone

      Might still have mine, back glass is cracked and unsure if its safe to send the battery or not.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      I loved the Motorola V3 (silver). Then I got the V3i on my next contract, in metalic aubergine (nice!).

      Of course it was a great phone. Although the software was rubbish, compared to my previous green screen Nokias.

  12. ZanzibarRastapopulous

    Bullshit.

    Surely this is just made up.

    1. Chunky Munky
      Meh

      Re: Bullshit.

      "Surely this is just made up."

      Why? Just remember that everytime a designer makes makes something idiot proof, God creates a better idiot!

      1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

        Re: Bullshit.

        "Surely this is just made up."

        Why?

        Aside from the fact that it's obviously made up, replete with sexist idiot-woman stereotype.

        That phone didn't have a "cute little door" you had rip the sodding back off.

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: Bullshit.

          I have to admit utterly made-up "anecdotes" have a certain set of common elements of content and styling - hard to describe but easy to spot after reading too many of the known-myth ones. And this story positively reeks of them.

        2. BlueTemplar

          Re: Bullshit.

          I still have one in my drawer and it does have a "cute little door". Though I personally would probably use the term "nifty" rather than "cute" :

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ykOVuU2eP8&t=2m9s

          That phone is so incredibly stylish for when it was released I probably could still sell it...

    2. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Bullshit.

      Have you ever meet people?

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Bullshit.

        A guy with the name like ZanzibarRastapopulous sounds like someone who lives as a hermit, working remotely from home, having Amazon and Grubhub deliver his every need, and limiting himself to interacting online with people at site like El Reg where the lower end of the IQ spectrum is thankfully quite underrepresented.

        1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

          Re: Bullshit.

          I can't work from home, telephone connectivity is too poor in Tanzania, even for a film tycoon of indeterminate origin, sadly that means much of my interaction is in the office with a Doug S! Probably not the same one though as the one here does at least have the ability to spot a load of bollocks when he sees it.

          I avoid Amazon as you can't trust them - it's an NSA front. Grubhub I've never heard of.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bullshit.

        +1. In computer programming parlance, people are the ultimate variable.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Bullshit.

          In computer programming parlance, people are the ultimate variable.

          And the only place where constants aren't and variables won't..

      3. ZanzibarRastapopulous

        Re: Bullshit.

        > "Have you ever meet people?"

        I've met few people as gullible as on here.

        FFS It's even got the offensive bimbo-stereotype in it.

        If we went back a decade or so it would have been a black woman with a banana phone afeared of the magic voices. I suppose that means we have at least moved on a little.

    3. BRYN

      Re: Bullshit.

      Never underestimate and idiot.

      They'll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bullshit.

        If you want a battle of wits then I'm sorry to inform you that I don't fight unarmed people.

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Bullshit.

      Time for you to get out of the IT back room and go out amongst the users.... a week on frontline desk visit support would bring you into the real world really fast.

      1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

        Re: Bullshit.

        Christ you lot are gullible.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Compliment slip stapled to 5.25" floppy

    slip says, can you help recover the data off this disk.

    Answer is now, a definite no... facepalm

    1. Trilkhai

      Re: Compliment slip stapled to 5.25" floppy

      Not necessarily — I can attest from my over-enthusiastic childhood use of desk scissors to "notch" floppies that there's a surprisingly large safety margin around most of the actual disc.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Compliment slip stapled to 5.25" floppy

      or hole punched so it could be stored in a ring binder.

      or the back-up copy - was a photocopy.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Compliment slip stapled to 5.25" floppy

        I remember the old hole punch trick that could turn a SSDD into a DSDD.

      2. JohnG Silver badge

        Re: Compliment slip stapled to 5.25" floppy

        5.25" floppy:

        or the back-up copy - was a photocopy.

        "Can you send us a copy of that floppy disk?"

        "Sure"

        5 minutes later - a fax arrives, with a B&W copy of the floppy disk.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Compliment slip stapled to 5.25" floppy

      I seem to remember one of the condom companies did a promotion once, where they sent out a card with marketing blurb, with a condom stapled to it. Oops.

      Think it was Virgin, back in the 90s, but a quick Google has failed me. Probably due to the keywords involved...

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Compliment slip stapled to 5.25" floppy

        Or like the visitor to the rubber & latex factory who was being shown round the condom production line and expressed his surprise at the worker who was sticking a pin through every 100th condom that went past.

        "Isn't that rather unethical?" the visitor asked.

        "Maybe, but we do say it's only 99% effective. And it does wonders for sales in the rubber teat department."

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Compliment slip stapled to 5.25" floppy

      "slip says, can you help recover the data off this disk.

      Answer is now, a definite no... facepalm"

      Why? Probably only a couple of sectors at most have been damaged in addition to the original problems.

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Compliment slip stapled to 5.25" floppy

        I've had the stapled floppy disk, and the one that was folded in half to fit into the envelope it was mailed to me in.

  14. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Electrons

    Ever had to explain that, "no, electricity doesn't leak out of the wall socket when there's nothing plugged in", while also trying to explain why a charged battery pack loses charge over time?

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Electrons

      Lucky not.

      Batteries have an internal resistance. Funny thing is, a friend of mine had a LiPO battery pack, which developed a loose wire to the USB port, and he chucked it into a drawer...

      ...only to discover it two years later. Fixed it by soldering said loose wire to where it should belong to, and the battery pack was still fully charged. Happy chappy.

    2. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Electrons

      And why doesn't a battery get lighter due to leaky electrons?

      1. Nick Kew Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Electrons

        And why doesn't a battery get lighter due to leaky electrons?

        Electrons are lighter than hydrogen.

        And if you fill something with hydrogen, it gets lighter.

        Ergo, leaking electrons make the battery heavier.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Electrons

      When electricity first became commonplace in England in the early 20th century - many people interpreted it from their knowledge of gas for lighting and cooking. It was not unusual even in the 1950s to find old people who kept a plug in a socket for fear of the electricity leaking out.

      1. Symon Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Electrons

        "fear of the electricity leaking out"

        That's why UK mains sockets have little plastic doors that close when you take the plug out. Duh!

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Electrons

          Ah yes, the old Edison electric light - turn key by door sign.

      2. Andrew Moore Silver badge

        Re: Electrons

        indeed- this very thing happened to my great grandfather- he returned from WWI to find these new fangled electric sockets in his house. My grandmother caught him that night, stopping up all the sockets.

      3. Paul Westerman

        Re: Electrons

        'This room is equipped with EDISON ELECTRIC LIGHT. Do not attempt to light with match. Simply turn key on wall by the door. The use of electricity for lighting is in no way harmful to health, nor does it affect the soundness of sleep.'

      4. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: Electrons

        Well there are many analogies between electricity and fluid flow. From "current" , "valves" (rather obsolete in the main, I admit) to one of my favourite ways to explain voltage (or EMF) as water pressure from a raised tank. Which is gravitational potential energy, hence "potential difference" etc. etc.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Electrons

          "Well there are many analogies between electricity and fluid flow."

          The trouble comes if you've explained that it flows from the positive to the negative - and then carry on to explain a valve.

  15. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Flip phones & their users are evolutionary dead ends?

    Tell that to all those Asians that love their flip phones & buy them in such quantities that the manufacturer's trip over themselves to provide ever more capabilities, functionalities, & desirability.

    Tell that to all the old folks for whom a smart phone is an utter waste of space since fat fingers + arthritus means they can't accurately manipulate a touch screen device.

    Tell that to all the blind folks that have difficulties in doing anything on what amounts to a no-Haptic-feedback, no tactile differentiation, possibly talking slab of featureless glass.

    Tell that to your parents when all they want/need is the ability to *gasp* make & take phone calls. No web surfing, no email, no apps, just a basic phone that just bloody works.

    If old folks are "evolutionary dead ends", I will welcome you to the club when you get here... and then beat the ever lovin' fuck out of you with my flip phone.

    A removeable battery, a headphone jack, an SD card slot, & battery life measured in a week or more between recharges. Oh yes, I can see how my $40 flip phone competes with that $400, no removeable battery, no headphone jack, & no expandable memory smart phone. ... you fucking muppet.

    *Double handed rude gesture*

    Sorry for the rant, but JFC could you be a more insensative jackass?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flip phones & their users are evolutionary dead ends?

      Friends complain that they can't send me photos via WhatsApp from their all-singing-dancing smart phones to my mobile - a basic clam shell Doro that is ideal for older faculties. Yet when I suggest they send them via an email to my laptop - they say that is "too much trouble".

      1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        At the A/C...

        *Nodding* I've had much the same issue with some wanker that whined to me that I should install one of those chat apps on my phone so we could send messages back & forth. I said I could already do that & no app required. He replied that the basic SMS was crap & that I should "g3t w/teh timez, D00d!" I promptly deleted him from my Contacts List as an utter waste of bandwidth.

        If your version of talking to someone involves "L33t $p34k", emoji, or reliance on a chat app to do simple SMS, *I'm* not the "evolutionary dead end" in this equation.

        Not that the author of this article seems to give a toss about anyone that uses anything other than a shiny pseudo smart phone. The insensative cockwobble...

    2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: Flip phones & their users are evolutionary dead ends?

      Good rant, but

      'Tell that to your parents when all they want/need is the ability to *gasp* make & take phone calls. No web surfing, no email, no apps, just a basic phone that just bloody works'

      Things have moved on. My parents are hardly techno geniuses, but they both have smart phones, and use a laptop and tablet respectively. The ability to use mapping/look up transport when on the move is very useful. They do not, on the other hand, use facebook/twitter/whatsapp/snapchat, etc.

      1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: Flip phones & their users are evolutionary dead ends?

        It depends on what you're spending. I've had friends and colleagues who are confused that I own a house mortgage free, yet don't have a 30+ euro a month phone contract* and also can't manage to see the connection.

        From my perspective, it seems to be mostly a sunk cost fallacy. The actual use you get from roaming data is often very small (YMMV), but since you've already paid for it, then it's all now "free", thus feels useful.

        * or sky/netflix/spotify, anything that adds another utility bill. Never owned a car either, but that's only a money saver because I'm in town with public transport

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: Flip phones & their users are evolutionary dead ends?

          I'm quite enjoying my Alcatel onetouch flip phone.

          It's next to useless for just about everything except making/receiving phone calls. Does me just fine.

          I have smart phones etc. - they're all going rusty in the tech graveyard drawer.

        2. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

          Re: Flip phones & their users are evolutionary dead ends?

          "Never owned a car either, but that's only a money saver because I'm in town with public transport"

          The first quote I got for business versus personal use insurance for my car was outrageous.

          I could have got an awful lot of taxis for the difference.

          (Yeah, I shopped around, but it was still a lot of taxis)

          1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

            At Wensleydale...

            You think YOU have it bad? Just imagine how high they quote to ME! I could BUY a fleet of taxis for that much... Those bastards.

            *Cough*

            =-)p

      2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        At Binky...

        I'm glad your folks are still able to use a touch screen device, evidently not having succumbed yet to vision loss & dexterity issues common to the aged.

        Hopefully technology will have advanced far enough by the time they HAVE so that such physical deteriation limitations can be overcome. Otherwise they too will eventually find that a touch screen device is not necessarily the awesome tool everyone else thinks it to be.

        It's kind of difficult to use a device that even your trifocal bottle lensed spectacles can no longer let you focus upon, to try & manipulate icons that your fingers now can't touch one at a time & tend to shake too much to touch accurately at all...

        It sucks getting old & infirm, donchya know? =-j

        1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

          Re: At Binky...

          They've both had cataracts removed and as a consequence free laser eye surgery in the affected eyes. Their default eyesight is better than mine!

          I'm not saying it's not a problem that doesn't exist, but I am pointing out that many of the older generation are happily using smartphones well into old age until they're unfortunate enough to not be able to do so.

      3. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Flip phones & their users are evolutionary dead ends?

        I volunteer at a seniors place, where I help the seniors out with all their computer, laptop, and phone problems. As far as I can tell, they all have smart phones. Though it is common for them to think that "smartphone" means an iPhone, everything else isn't a "smartphone".

        Edit: For the record I usually carry a large smartphone, and a small dumb phone for actually making phone calls. The smartphone is for everything else.

    3. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Flip phones & their users are evolutionary dead ends?

      I much prefer a mini-keyboard to a touchscreen.

      Doesn't mean I want a flipphone: far too fat in the pocket. I just want my old Nokia E71, or as second-best a similar-sized blackberry of the same era.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flip phones & their users are evolutionary dead ends?

      Watching my elderly father struggle with his flip dumbphone it's become obvious physical keys aren't the solution to every problem. I'll be setting up a touchscreen device where most of the things he needs are just 1 touch away, not buried a dozen keypresses deep in menues and scrolling lists he struggles to remember. WYSIWYG is a powerful to for simplifying interfaces if they allow customisation.

    5. NXM

      Re: Flip phones & their users are evolutionary dead ends?

      Top comment, Shadow Systems

      We have a new-ish Doro flip phone on the farm. You can't break the shiney glass screen, or dial random numbers while its in your pocket (which used to happen with a 'tough' phone we had), and frankly you don't need to browse Just Eat for a takeaway meal while you're in the cowshed pulling a stick calf out of a cow's backside.

      At least without washing your hands first.

      1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        At NXM...

        I stopped taking my phone with me out of the car when I visited a relative's dairy farm... I got tired of the cows beating me up & draining the battery calling out for vegetarian pizza. =-)p

    6. Mark 85 Silver badge

      @Shadow Systems -- Re: Flip phones & their users are evolutionary dead ends?

      As a flip phone type of person, I wish we had a 1000 upvotes button for that.

      1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        At Mark 85...

        Join me at the pub across the street & buy me a pint instead. We can bitch & moan about how it sucks having to recharge our phones every week or so, just to taunt those smart phone wankers. We can whine about having a headphone jack taking up so much room in the phone. We can complain about how it's such a bother to use an SD card to transfer files in & out of the phone... And then we can run laughing from the place with a mob of howling angry smart phone (l)users on our arse.

        *Ducks the incoming hail of beer nuts, pretzles, popcorn, & smart phones*

        =-D

    7. eionmac

      Re: Flip phones & their users are evolutionary dead ends?

      "Covered keys" on flip-phone (We have 3 of these, due age, clothing, hearing, arthritis etc.) stop inadvertent calls from pocket. This was main first reason to buy. Since then I have never bought a non-flip-phone.

      1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        At Eionmac...

        Good on you mate. Just keep voting with your wallet, it's the only way those phone makers will care of your choice... That & sending them a baggie of smart phone shards with the words "These suck. Flip phones rule!" emblazoned in large Sharpie marker print on the side. =-)p

    8. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Flip phones & their users are evolutionary dead ends?

      "If old folks are "evolutionary dead ends", I will welcome you to the club when you get here... and then beat the ever lovin' fuck out of you with my flip phone."

      You'd think that even Silly-Con Valley designers and devs have aged grandparents with failing hearing or eyesight, possibly even aged parents for those from the early days. And yet they still don't seem able to take disabilities into account when designing devices or systems.

      1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        At John Brown...

        No shit! It's like they are so myopic that they can't see themselves in ~50 years as being too arthritic & nearly blind as to make such devices a hinderance rather than a help.

        It makes me wish that we had a version of the "drunk car" my driver's education teacher made us try to drive in, the one that made driving nearly as suicidal as actual drunk driving would be, but designed so those UI coders had to use their own designs as half blind, half deaf, twitchy fat fingered like they were 100 years old. I bet they'd change those bllody UI's to better work for the old!

        *Comical grumpy hurrumph*

        *Shakes a palsied fist*

        Danged young whippersnappers, get outta my code!

        =-)p

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: At John Brown...

          "designed so those UI coders had to use their own designs as half blind, half deaf, twitchy fat fingered like they were 100 years old."

          On a similar note I'd like the eejits who specify those folded plastic bags on a roll for vegetable aisles be condemned to spend a week opening them whilst wearing thick woolly cloves and wearing specs that won't let them focus closer that about 60cm. I don't know if it's some feature of static but my fingers seem to make the bastards cling ever more tightly shut whilst SWMBO's cause them to open in a fraction of a second.

          1. onefang Silver badge

            Re: At John Brown...

            "On a similar note I'd like the eejits who specify those folded plastic bags on a roll for vegetable aisles be condemned to spend a week opening them whilst wearing thick woolly cloves and wearing specs that won't let them focus closer that about 60cm."

            Or who ever redesigned the caps for Lipton Iced Tea. Almost impossible to open without tools, though they have gotten better recently, I've not had to cut one open for some time.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flip phones & their users are evolutionary dead ends?

      Shadow Sytems,

      That was not a rant !!!

      It was a well considered response. ;)

      P.S. When you are beating some sense into JFC with your phone, I will be more than happy to demonstrate the 'percussive' uses for a Zimmer Frame !!! :) ;)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Earlier phones saved you the effort of removing the battery yourself.

    On the Motorola StarTAC the battery was mounted in the top half of the flip to enable quick changes when it died halfway through the day, but the clip proved insufficiently robust enough that when you did the Star Trek communicator flip to open the phone and answer your call it would shut down as the battery was ejected across the room...

    1. Jess--

      Re: Earlier phones saved you the effort of removing the battery yourself.

      almost as bad as the nokia with the spring loaded sliding mic & cover.

      you pressed a button and the cover flicked down answering an incoming call, to start with.... eventually you pressed the button to answer the call and send the cover / mic flying across the floor

    2. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: you did the Star Trek communicator flip to open the phone

      A possible hint that the device was not engineered for such "cool moves".

      My faves for this particular blindspot are the Amazon reviews for the Slingfire lever action Nerf blaster, where people talk about doing "Rooster Cogburn" moves to cock it, then complain that the cocking mechanism failed two days after buying or the same thing with the Strongarm revolver, where they talk about Hellboy Flick moves to close the cylinder after reloading, then complain that the cylinder won't kick properly after a few days.

      Like the bloke in our office who insisted on slamming a firedoor as hard as he could to "make sure it was closed", and ended up having it drop on him when the hinge welds failed after one slam too many.

  17. Andrew Moore Silver badge

    It's not unusual...

    Sold a Psion Series 5 to a punter, he returns 10 minutes later complaining that it doesn't work. I instantly see that the supplied batteries are still in the box and I asked had he tried putting the batteries in it? His reply was "oh, does this thing need batteries?". To which I pointed out the set of batteries in the case. His reply to that was "oh, I thought they were a free gift or something."

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Its not unusual

    Is now to be known as "Barry Manilow Syndrome"

    Mine's the one with Earworms 101 as the playlist. Namely "Copacabana"

    But seriously, why aren't reallllllly old phones used in sci-fi as a prop?

    1. WonkoTheSane
      FAIL

      Re: Re. Its not unusual

      Nice try - Pity "It's Not Unusual" is a Tom Jones track...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re. Its not unusual

        @WonkoTheSane; Exactly. For Barry Manilow to sing it would *indeed* be unusual. (^_^)

        1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Re. Its not unusual

          To quote Denis Leary:

          "You write the songs, we'll drink the beer out of your head."

    2. Spanners Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Re. Its not unusual

      But seriously, why aren't reallllllly old phones used in sci-fi as a prop?

      They use them on NCIS. Agent Gibbs like them...

  19. Tim Jenkins

    Who needs a battery anyway?

    Anyone remember the Apple Powerbook G3s with a bay on each side for removable batteries and/or optical/Zip/floppy drive? The ones where if the user had emptied the bays to use another accessory on both sides (or just to save weight), then forgot to reinsert a battery before booting the laptop away from mains, it ate the tiny on-board NiCad and died? RTM to somewhere in Holland, as I recall, for £200 surgery...

    1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      Re: Who needs a battery anyway?

      Thinkpad 755 had similar setup - two bays for main batteries and a tiny NiMH battery for providing few seconds of backup power. Useful when swapping main batteries without shutting down the laptop.

      AFAIR nothing bad happened when that NiMH got depleted (or failed).

  20. juice Bronze badge

    Showroom laptops can be misleadingly light...

    A few years ago, I was wandering around various retail parks, looking for a new laptop. Since I wanted to use it while travelling, weight was something of a concern, but all the laptops I saw were surprisingly light.

    It took me a while to realise that this was because Currys/Dixons/PC World/Comet/whatever all remove the battery in their display models, presumably to cut down on theft and/or minimise power-cycling the batteries. The fact that it also halves the weight of the laptop when people are playing with them was just a fortuitous coincidence...

  21. Gruezi

    Hmmm :(

    Okay I am going to get downvoted for this but someone has to say it.

    While I dont doubt that the event with the phone happened. I am not convinced the "cute little door" words were used. And even it it was (let's assume positive intent here), I don't think it needs to be added to this story to make the story any better.

    Why?

    Because it turns this delightful story of user incompetence into something which smells a little sexist.

    Now you may say I am being over sensitive, or you may even accuse me of some kind of projection, but I just dont feel the way in which this story was told is appropriate, especially with all the efforts of trying to get more women into technology.

    Go ahead now, downvote me...

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Hmmm :(

      In pretty much all electronics manufactured within the past 10 years, it's impossible to install the (rechargeable) battery in anything bu the correct orientation.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm :(

        Wanna bet? You underestimate the force crammers can exert. Enough to bend springs, break tabs, create new notches, etc.

      2. NXM

        Re: Hmmm :(

        Not on our Olympus camera it isn't.

        1. Conundrum1885

          Re: Hmmm :(

          Very fortunately the contacts can't be reversed.

          I have a dead "tough" Olympus here (u1020?) if anyone has a use, MB is fried.

          Display etc are fine, pretty sure its an easy fix but symptoms are that it turns on then immediately off with "Low Battery" even with a new charged tested battery.

          Also a more recent unit, this one has a bad screen and no sadly they aren't interchangeable.

          £29 is a big chunk of change for such an old camera so its cooling its heels in "BOFH Hell" in a cement-and-plastic overcoat next to my unlicensed nuclear accelerator.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm :(

      "Because it turns this delightful story of user incompetence into something which smells a little sexist."

      A friend has two sons and a younger daughter. I kept both boys well equipped with PCs that could play the latest games - but the parents thought the daughter still too young to have her own PC in her bedroom.

      Eventually as a teenager they agreed it was now time. So I built a decent tower PC - with customised front panel and speakers to match the decor of her bedroom.

      All set up in her bedroom waiting for her to come home from school. She has no inkling that she is getting a PC.

      She comes through the door - sees it - total surprise "OMG!! It's pink!". The video to prove it still exists.

      She can use a PC and her smart phone - but it is interesting that she will always avoid anything technical with "I don't understand technology". In a house where meal times are often discussions of technology and science.

      1. sisk Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm :(

        She can use a PC and her smart phone - but it is interesting that she will always avoid anything technical with "I don't understand technology". In a house where meal times are often discussions of technology and science.

        My sister does something similar. I've never quite figured out why, but I've got a theory. She is a phenomenally intelligent woman who learns almost by osmosis with zero effort, but she plays dumb constantly.

        My theory on the matter is that it's a reaction to the bullying and isolation she experienced fairly early on as her intelligence started to become obvious to those around her. It also probably doesn't help that her best (and, for a significant portion of her late childhood and most of her teen years, only) friend is a bit of an airhead who can't keep up in intellectual conversations.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmm :(

          "It also probably doesn't help that her best (and, for a significant portion of her late childhood and most of her teen years, only) friend is a bit of an airhead who can't keep up in intellectual conversations."

          We came to the conclusion that peer group pressure was a bigger influence than the home environment. It happened at an early age. I remember helping her father assemble a pink Cindy type camper van toy one Christmas. Her close pals were from a neighbouring family of two girls. They probably felt like sisters. It may also be that she retreated into a niche away from competition with her undoubtedly bright older brothers.

      2. ChrisB 2

        Re: Hmmm :(

        "She can use a PC and her smart phone - but it is interesting that she will always avoid anything technical with 'I don't understand technology'."

        I suspect that the same applies to many men who "can't figure out what setting to put the washing machine/dishwasher on" or similar.

        Tech (mild) sexism works all ways.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmm :(

          "I suspect that the same applies to many men who "can't figure out what setting to put the washing machine/dishwasher on" or similar."

          Her mother has "feminist" views - owing to being denied a warranted university education by her father - while her thick brother was given all the advantages of private education.

          She often comes out with the phrase "Typical man of the species" when she is feeling grumpy. Even though most of the men she throws it at - other than her sibling - are competent across all tasks.

          .

        2. onefang Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm :(

          'I suspect that the same applies to many men who "can't figure out what setting to put the washing machine/dishwasher on" or similar.'

          I almost got away with "I can't figure out how to set the timer on my brothers VCR" to his girlfriend of the time. I slipped up by setting it for something I wanted to record some time later. She didn't know that I pride myself in being able to figure out tech "by osmosis" as a previous commentard mentioned.

          On the other hand, much later I bought myself a very fancy computer controlled washing machine, and forbid the non computer literate women I was living with from doing the laundry, something we were all happy with.

      3. eionmac

        Re: Hmmm :(

        Show her the BBC iPlayer recording of Ada Lovelace! Then she can talk all the technical things with pride.

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm :(

        She can use a PC and her smart phone - but it is interesting that she will always avoid anything technical with "I don't understand technology". In a house where meal times are often discussions of technology and science.

        Perhaps the delay in providing her with a PC wasn't a good idea.

    3. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm :(

      I think the type of woman who would remove the battery from her phone and then wonder why its not working has a much higher chance than normal of also being the type of woman who would use a phrase like "cute little door", so I find that entirely plausible. I also see no reason why it should be excluded as a part of the story if it did happen.

      And I most especially don't agree a story about one woman - especially one in which the tone suggests this incident is outside the norm - is sexist. To my mind sexism here would require the implication that this sort of thing is the norm for women, which is not the case.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm :(

      ---->I am not convinced the "cute little door" words were used.

      We have a Toyota IQ as our town car. So far it has been referred to as a "cute little car" by several women, one eight year old boy and zero men. Therefore, I personally wouldn't be a bit surprised.

  22. adam payne Silver badge

    "You mean that little thing that was under that cute little door?" came the reply. "It made the phone too heavy!" she said.

    Brains are heavy too and it looks like she removed that as well.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My manager got berated by the higher ups because they hadn't been told that they should charge their phones before they went off to a conference.

  24. Andy Taylor

    One of my favourite cartoons

    is of a camera shop where the assistant is saying to the customer:

    "Of course sir can't see where to put the film in, sir is holding an electric razor."

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: One of my favourite cartoons

      Not written would be the obvious retort, "Then what is an electric razor doing in your CAMERA shop, SIR?"

  25. sisk Silver badge

    I forget the exact issue, but I once received an email asking for help with a computer. Specifically the problem was with, and I quote: "The actual computer, not the thing next to it that I put CDs in and plug flash drives and my keyboard and stuff into."

    It took me a few minutes of alternating between face palming and laughing before I could answer that one.

    1. Dog11

      Oh, you mean the hard drive?

    2. BlueTemplar

      Hmm, he was talking about the... screen?

    3. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

      "The actual computer, not the thing next to it that I put CDs in and plug flash drives and my keyboard and stuff into."

      Stockbrokers. 1980s. When we rolled out a load of dumb green screen terminals, they insisted on referring to them as "the computer".

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        When we rolled out a load of dumb green screen terminals, they insisted on referring to them as "the computer".

        Not unreasonable. When they enter stuff at the terminal they are, after all, entering it into the computer. Likewise when they get information displayed on the terminal they're actually getting it from the computer. The dumb terminal is just the part of the computer they use to access the rest of it.

  26. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Happy

    Sprinkle It With Fairy Dust

    .....but you can only buy it with bitcoin and it's VERY expensive. Available only from Nigerian Princes.......

  27. Shez

    this must be why Apple made their batteries non-removable

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      "this must be why Apple made their batteries non-removable"

      They are removable. They are just not replaceable. At least not by the customer.

  28. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    This dates me....

    A friend had bought a 48K upgrade for a 16K Spectrum, and called me round because it wasn't working. Half the ICs were still stuck in the insulated foam. "What are these doing here?" "Oh, I thought they were spares or something."

  29. xehpuk

    I had 2 students on a lab exercise once. It was about logic circuits. They had connected according to the schematics. But it did not work. They had no idea what could be wrong. I asked them if they had power. They just looked like question marks. After a while they reluctantly connected the 5V I pointed at. It still did not work. Ok well how about ground? They outright refused to do it. 0V was pointless to them. I had to connect it and show that now it worked. Electricity needs a return path. Thing is this was a masters of science in electrical engineering program. They should not have been there. They must have entered on som foreign students quota or something.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Thing is this was a masters of science in electrical engineering program. They should not have been there. They must have entered on som foreign students quota or something."

      In the world of commercial IT courses a colleague once got an older student from a developing country who couldn't keep up. Nice guy, but he was struggling.

      A quick phone call to his superior revealed that his course was a legitimate way of rewarding him for many years of a job well done.

      He was on an extremely generous Forex per diem allowance, and would be able to save a decent chunk of hard currency for his retirement pot.

    2. ZanzibarRastapopulous

      > "They must have entered on som foreign students quota or something."

      God foreigners are soooo stupid almost as dumb as women.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I never had a flip phone

    I only used candybar phones before the arrival of smartphones.

  31. Selden

    Far from an evolutionary dead end, my LG flip phone is serving me well. I have dropped it countless times (even on to brick and concrete) without harm, it runs for ~7 days on a charge, and to answer a call, I flip the lid open with my thumb and say "Hello."

    It makess a far better telephone than any smart phone I have seen or used, and it only cost $15.

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