No computer experience in 2005?
I hardly believe that a Greek company had no computer in 2005.
I went to do their first introduction to using PCs to some faculty in a University in 2008, but that was in Afghanistan, not in the EU.
Welcome again to On-Call, The Register's free therapy session for those who perform tech support chores and need to get the worst ones off their chest. This week, meet "George" who in 2002 worked in "a metal service center in Athens" that had just acquired its very first PCs to replace dumb terminals slaved to an AIX server. …
Probably they've been bribed to buy some, but then those went to the homes of the company execs, I guess. Also, it's much easier to alter a paper trail for "business reasons".
There are reasons if Greece put itself in a dead end - and not all them are because of the "evil EU".
It isn't just Greece, there are still companies in the UK, Germany, Poland, Hungary and points in-between that still don't use computers today. It is becoming rarer, but they still exist.
As I said in the other post, we were still getting new customers in 2015/2016 in Germany that were getting their first PCs, because of changes in the law that required all livestock and food product movements be electronically recorded and transmitted to a central agency.
I was working for a company providing hardware, software and services to the meat industry and we were still encountering customers in 2015 that had never used a computer. It was only the changes forcing the electronic trace-ability of livestock and meat through the supply and production chains that forced many of them to get computers at all.
Many were still writing everything in paper ledgers and saw no reason for these "new fangled" computers, it just made their job more complicated and expensive.
I've had lots of fun with the white on white problem, other such fun can be had with taking a print screen of the desktop, hiding all the icons then setting it as the desktop background. Another jolly jape is on certain intel graphics chipsets and drivers that allow you to rotate the screen with ctrl + alt + arrow key, a quick tap as you walk past someones desk is all you need, the look of confusion and the attempts to turn the monitor the right way round can be quite funny. My name? Oh yes, It's Mr B*stard.
well , aside from windups ( we confine them to IT staff * ) We've had a few users manage to turn their own screens around with the Intel keys. Its fun to pretend not to believe them. Its really hard to see how even the dumbest users could accidentally go white on white.
* I can remotely turn peoples screens over using a combination of psexec and vbs sendkeys command :)
I didn't see it myself but a former colleague said he'd seen a user with an upside down screen. They had a laptop connected to a monitor on a desktop stand. The user had an issue with some software and had requested IT pay a visit. When he got there he spotted she'd turned the monitor upside down. This wasn't a trivial thing to do as it required unscrewing the VESA plate on the stand. The reason was she'd accidentally used the key combination to turn the screen upside down. Thinking she'd broken it and would be in trouble hadn't mentioned it to anyone. She'd had to use the mouse upside down but was so worried about being yelled at had kept quiet. Once it was explained to her that this could be corrected without fuss she apologised and things were put back the right way up. An email then went to all employees explaining that IT support were here for a reason and like the name suggested to support them. Please let us know of any issues rather than suffer in silence.
She'd had to use the mouse upside down but was so worried about being yelled at had kept quiet.
No, if she had turned the monitor upside down the mouse would work normally.
No, it wouldn't. If you move the mouse from right to left, it goes from left to right on the upside-down screen. And if you move the mouse up, it goes down on the upside-down screen.
Turn the mouse over too, and all works OK. Though how you press the buttons is an interesting question in itself.
"Its really hard to see how even the dumbest users could accidentally go white on white."
When my mother uses a word processor or browser, she has a uniquely special talent of discovering functions and keypresses nobody knew existed. One time she had Firefox displaying English text back to front (as if Hebrew). I just restarted it, too much brain ache to try to work out what the hell just happened...
"she has a uniquely special talent of discovering functions and keypresses nobody knew existed."
Did she ever find the key combo to turn on shift lock on a PC keyboard? It was so long ago now, I can't remember if it was a keyboard thing, a DOS thing or a Windows thing. I remember it happening to me a few times and have a vague memory that I might have unplugged/replugged they keyboard to "fix" it, which implied it was a keyboard issue. I never found what they key combo was.
They do it by not understanding what the implications of clicking on something are or what the buttons do, or how to reverse this. BUT, it's a flaw in an OS that allows foreground colour and background colour to be set as the same by a user. ANY action that creates an accidental ( as in unconscious) or non-reversible immobilisation should be made very very hard.
It often was not clear on your 16 color screen. . . The stupid thing is that a program wou;d let you set your fg and background the same. The hard part was typing blind to get it back. Thimk bumping the wrong language on an old android and trying to figure out which setting in chinese says language or whatever. Only worse.
For Mr Bastard you need to turn to autocorrect.
In your spell checker of choice simply set an autocorrect rule to change the users surname to a suitable superlative.
I found this out on my dads copy of MS Word in the mid 90's, he went from Mr Rage to Mr Old Git. Thing is I forgot and he didn't notice for a really long time. Apparently his new accountant questioned it, I'm guessing at least 9 months after I made the change.
As a mischievous student at college, some peers and I found if you pulled the paper out during a print of a particular model of thermal laser printer the colleges had, the letters would peel off the paper and stick to the print rollers. Subsequent print jobs would then come out with extra letters or words scattered liberally across them.
For the life of me I don't recall now which type of printer suffered this odd printing issue, but the hilarity to be had watching the confusion on people's faces as they proof read their prints to find unexplainable additional text on their documents was brilliant.
As a more mature dev now, aside from the occasional easter egg in code, I'm only prone to swapping keyboards and mice around on back-to-back facing PC's now.
Pity the poor Scots with MS Word auto correct. During dealings I had with the Scottish Office many moons ago one of the senior mandarins had a first name of Angus. Just about every report emanating from his office had the autocorrect kick in and we received many letters signed "Anus [surname]"
"I've had lots of fun with the white on white problem"
It was not fun fixing in the win95 days. It was memorise the keystrokes, and they could change depeding on the grapics driver. no nice VGA boot option, or offline registry tools. Keystrokes or reinstall.
Where I was working didn't do interdepartmental billing at that stage. I would have loved to do a full reinstall and have the cheeky bastards who pulled the stunt explain the bill to their boss.
"Or when someone thinks they have REDACTED a sensitive bit of information"
There was a PDF linked from this site a few years back. Something to do with smart meters IIRC. Lots of redacted content.
Yeah. ^A then ^C then switch to a word processor and ^V. There you go, all the text.
"Where I was working didn't do interdepartmental billing at that stage. I would have loved to do a full reinstall and have the cheeky bastards who pulled the stunt explain the bill to their boss."
I did contract hardware maintenance back then. There were a few call-outs to none working screens which turned out to be that some wag had turned the brightness and contrast controls all the way down. Sadly for them, that's not covered by the annual service contract fee so they get a none-contract call-out charge.
Take screenshot of desktop, turn it upside-down, and set as background image. Hide icons. Move menu bar to top of screen. THEN turn screen upside down...
My employer requires us to lock our computers (Win-L) when we step away. I've been known to tamper with the machines of co-workers who fail to do so as a "reminder" of proper computer security. In one case, I changed the 'incoming email' sound to a rather loud sheep bleating. He laughed when he figured out what happened, and then kept it that way - which was HILARIOUS when it went off while he was presenting during a meeting. It was so loud everybody in the room jumped, then burst out laughing.
Support fail, rather than user based.
Last week someone rang to say " Mouse not working on important PC on reception. Have tried other mouses" . The call is logged one severity point higher than normal as its important (ie only) reception pc.
Our support super hero springs into action and orders a new mouse from stores and then stops the clock while mouse is procured (somehow thats allowed) .
Unfortunately, that's quite common at a lot of places. Tickets are often allowed to be "pended" and hence have the SLA counter paused if you're either waiting on the user for something (more info required and they're not answering phone/e-mails), or waiting on a third party (ie, order to arrive, PC supplier to come and fix the PC, etc). Given that a lot of larger companies grade their support personnel by their SLA metrics, finding feasible and justifiable ways to pause the SLA counter on tickets is quite common.
On a different note, my favourite one was from a few years back - made all the more amusing that the user that showed up at my desk previously worked for general IT support (before moving over to providing ERP support). Anyway, the user handed me a faulty mouse and asked for a replacement. I calmly turned the mouse upside-down and pointed out the strip of gaffer tape that one of their colleagues had applied to the sensor for a laugh. Cue a red-faced user making a hasty retreat!
"either waiting on the user for something (more info required and they're not answering phone/e-mails), or waiting on a third party (ie, order to arrive, PC supplier to come and fix the PC"
Yeah - waiting for the user is a definite clock stopper , but the all the other examples come down to what was agreed in the contract i guess - even if its a internal contract between departments.
If the users say they will provide their own spares for example, then its a clock stopper when thats needed , but if they only really pay for the bare minimum in SLAs/ parts supply / support hours etc etc it ends up with you not being able to provide a credible support service , which makes us look bad and is incredibly frustrating for the end users - who think its our fault.
Example A - I worked at a company that provided wifi for other small companies who never paid for enough coverage for their sites - just enough to tell their customers ( the public) they had wifi.
This resulted in a helpline who could do little more than sympathise the user, or say things like "Have wonder around waving your ipad in the air and look for a mast thingy"
"I calmly turned the mouse upside-down and pointed out the strip of gaffer tape that one of their colleagues had applied to the sensor for a laugh. "
I once saw a user destroy a telephone because someone had done this to the hookswitch and they couldn't figure out how to answer incoming calls.
I work in an "agile" work space with docks and large screens on each desk. I had a user complaining the other day that the screen wasn't working. I knew the screen had been working the previous day. I suggested they change desks but they were insistent that I look at the issue. Amazing what happens when you press the "On" button on the screen. The old help desk check list that started with "Is it plugged in?" closely followed by "Is it switched on?" should be second nature.
The number of users that have inadvertently rotated (or flipped) their screens and not been able to get it back to the correct view is amazing. Now I show them how to turn off the "Hot key".
It is always fun to switch the buttons on a person's mouse to "Left handed" mode.
Who remembers the "Good old days" when you could steal the ball from someone's mouse...
"Who remembers the "Good old days" when you could steal the ball from someone's mouse..."
Ah the school computer labs, then the inevitable plea from the headmaster at next days assembly, made all the more amusing because he had to use the word "balls".
(Second only to the announcement that smoking in the loos would be cracked down on as he found "butts on toilets")
Home user complained that their cursor would only go up and down the screen - not sideways. Turned their mouse over. There was a neat line of "felt" round the ball that allowed it to rotate along the "vertical" axis but stopped it moving at 90 degrees.
They sometimes used their mouse mat as a coaster for glasses of sugary soft drinks. The sticky residue acted as a binder for the fine hairs from their dog.
When I worked in IT Support back around 1998 we used to get numerous complaints about mice not working due to the build up of crap on the rollers and balls. I used to remove all the balls and take them to the nearest "gents" and give them a soak in a basin of warm soapy water. Other staff entering the loo would ask, "What are you doing?"
"Washing my balls," I'd reply.
If a mouse fails to operate or should it perform erratically, it may need a ball replacement. Mouse balls are now available as FRU (Field Replacement Units). Because of the delicate nature of this procedure, replacement of mouse balls should only be attempted by properly trained personnel.
Before proceeding, determine the type of mouse balls by examining the underside of the mouse. Domestic balls will be larger and harder than foreign balls. Ball removal procedures differ depending upon the manufacturer of the mouse. Foreign balls can be replaced using the pop off method. Domestic balls are replaced by using the twist off method. Mouse balls are not usually static sensitive. However, excessive handling can result in sudden discharge. Upon completion of ball replacement, the mouse may be used immediately.
It is recommended that each person have a pair of spare balls for maintaining optimum customer satisfaction. Any customer missing his balls should contact the local personnel in charge of removing and replacing these necessary items.
Please keep in mind that a customer without properly working balls is an unhappy customer.
Who remembers the "Good old days" when you could steal the ball from someone's mouse...
Even more fun these days, is to take some clear (Scotch) tape, and put it over the sensor on the bottom of an optical mouse. This introduces just a bit of randomness to the mouse. Add layers to make the mouse less and less responsive. A piece of non-clear tape makes the mouse not work, and people think their computer has frozen, and the user usually reboots. I did this one April first to an entire office of mice.
Got a phone call from a user saying the monitor had started developing strange colours at the edges. The cluster had CRTs and they were getting on so I said guess it is failing and if they had a problem just move to another and we would replace it. Then they volunteered that it was making a crackling noise. My response was to just move away to another and I'd pop up to the top floor where it was. Then I get that bit where the user thinks they can diagnose the cause of the problem. Could it be the water dripping from the ceiling onto the monitor causing the problem? I possibly swore, I cannot remember, something like please just get the F* out of there and touch nothing. Safe to say a flat roof in Manchester was never a good idea.
The building is quite famous see http://www.the-modernist.org/shop/renold-badge
Yes, 1987, when 3.5" floppies were just becoming a thing.
I was a student working in an actual programming job for the summer, and the company had some sort of big contract with IBM, and we had all sorts of interesting toys to play with:
* A "bar" plotter - it took paper of the A1 or A0 sort of size (actually a size the Americans call "D"). Much fun.
* Personal System/2 machines, model 50 and 60.
* 3270 terminal emulator cards for the PS/2 machines
* other things that aren't important here.
Anyway, one of the saleswomen brought me a 3.5" floppy for a copy of the software I was working on. Those floppies had two different kinds of labels - small ones that stuck only on the front, and large ones that wrapped around the top onto the back.
And of course she, not being very familiar with what was, of course, a *new* thing in PCs, had stuck a large label entirely on the front, covering part of the metal shutter.
I'm embarrassed to have to admit that it took me several attempts before I realised *why* the disk wouldn't go into the drive. (OK, it went most of the way in, but stopped about half an inch before it was fully in.)
User posted (on mobile obviously) "Screen gone blank, smoke and sparks coming out of PC, what do I do?"
Another user posted, deadly serious "That will be your monitor that has broken. You should buy a new one".
Me? I mentioned they should get a fire extinguisher, keep the monitor, but assume PC is dead.
Round about 1999 I had a similar conversation with the Elonex service desk.
Smoke was billowing from the back of the main box of my computer and the computer was dead. So unplugged it and called Elonex.
Me: "Can you send someone to repair my PC please - it's stopped working and I have smoke coming from the CPU box"
Elonex: "Can you try plugging in a different monitor and see if that fixes it"
Me: "Err, no, it's not the monitor - there is smoke coming from the CPU box".
A couple of days later an Elonex service technician turned up, fitted a new motherboard and everything was fine again.
When I worked for what is now CEX in 1996 I had someone call up and ask what to do as their monitor was smoking, I asked if they had unplugged it, and as they haddn't I suggested unplugging it and then bringing it back for exchange/refund.
Either they never returned with it, or I wasn't working when they did, as I never saw the monitor come in.
"Me? I mentioned they should get a fire extinguisher, keep the monitor, but assume PC is dead."
You dont speak user do you
they refer to the screen as "the PC" and the PC as the "hard drive"
So whilst a fire extinguisher may be handy , the screen is what needs changing
I have to mention the brief visit I made to help out a 93-year-old resident at a retirement home I do some amateur IT support work for.
10 minutes spent getting his printer to behave (what *is* it with printers?) and then twenty minutes of the two of us leafing through his 1944 Mosquito pilot's log book.
I delivered and installed a PC to an old gent. But got distracted by the pics and models of Short Sunderland III ie the Flying Porcupine which he had flown against U Boats.
I had a fascinating afternoon talking to him and going through his mementos etc.
One of my colleagues, Maurice, was a pilot on Sunderlands. After the war he became a pilot on the Empire flying boats island hopping to Australia. His base was Tahiti.
Not sure how he ended up in IT - but he was eventually one of the volunteer crew who ferried the last? flying Sunderland from Canada? to the UK for preservation. I never did manage a rendezvous to see his photograph collection.
IIRC Hendon Museum have one that you can walk inside.
I was working for a UK company in 2004 ish that had their helldesk in France when a ticket came through as so:
User is having difficulty getting a shit to come out, it is making squeaking and clanking noises.
So after regaining my composure and visiting the said person it turned out to be a sheet (of paper) not coming out of his printer so the english > french > english translation failed that day!
I was working on a desktop upgrade a few years ago where we came across a little used but utterly critical (of course!) application that had been written in house at some point in the 1990's with no documentation or support existing (and the author/s having left the company turn of the century). It had survived various previous upgrades intact but trying to run it on Win7 rendered two screens entirely black. Black text on a black background. We managed to work out that the author had used some custom non-standard colouring that Windows could no longer identify and rendered black by default but we never did manage to get to rewrite it; the customer realising that they'd be better off writing a new piece of code to do the task this obsolete stuff did.
And I have far too often managed to turn text and background the same colour within a MS document - the ribbon buttons are next to one another and far too similar in appearance...
Got an IT support call from my wife a while ago:
SWMBO: My laptop is not working...
Me: OK, what is it doing?
SWMBO: It's making a beeping sound and water is pouring out of the corner...
Turns out she'd spilled a large glass of water over it. I told her to turn it off and let it dry out naturally. Amazingly, it still worked after that, albeit with help from an external keyboard.
"I have noticed that when I lift a drink off the desk - my hand automatically moves on a dog leg path to avoid the cup crossing over the keyboard."
Back when computers in companies were capital purchases and very, very expensive, eating or drinking near one was a capital offence. That's ingrained in me and and so I still don't do it.
I used to do network admin for a high-street bank. One day a user called me and said he was having a problem with his keyboard, so I went to see him and asked him to describe and show me the problem. He wrote a lot of letters which would be sent out to customers, including those about charges for services. "I'm trying to get Pound signs, but I keep getting 3s," he said.
"You are holding the shift key down when you press 3, aren't you?" I said. He looked at me like I had suddenly sprouted two heads. I reached across and tapped the 3 key a few times, then held the shift key and did the same. 33333£££££
"Oh, thanks for that," he said. "You've saved me so much time and effort."
I asked him what he meant by this. Turned out he used to print the letters but before each amount he'd leave an extra space, then write the Pound signs in with a black biro.
Had an acquaintance pull a very old computer out of storage. She set it up, plugged it in, and turned on the monitor and computer. Monitor simply showed a blinking cursor in the upper left for a couple seconds... before a sheet of flame came out the front of the computer. A ceramic capacitor on the back end of the motherboard had popped (literally blew the top off it), igniting the quarter-inch-thick layer of dust inside the computer.
I personally once took a power supply to a computer shop, asking if they would test it. The tech picked it up, turned around and took two steps toward the back, then turned back around and set it on the counter. "It's fried" he said - pointing to the scorch marks on the outside that I hadn't noticed during removal.
Just last week I was sat next to a user (the CEO's PA no less) who was complaining that the monitor on her macbook air kept going blank, slamming the thing around as they do and muttering what a pos it was.
A dead battery and no mains power connected!
I really had to bite my lip.
My favorite is still this. Computer makes noise when people hit the desk and monitor goes blank when people trip over the cord.
First one is easy tell people to stop hitting the desk. Second one well, how the hell are people tripping on the monitor cable . It's a freaking 1.5 meter long cable
"Computer makes noise when people hit the desk and monitor goes blank when people trip over the cord."
In the days of acoustic delay lines it is said that a sharp knock to the video terminal would corrupt the displayed text. Not quite the same as letters falling to the bottom of the screen by a typical prankh.
Regarding "white on white" - I had exactly this about 20 years ago, when I worked in tech support for a large, international firm of accountants/management consultants. What gave it away from me was that the gentleman in question said that all he could see on the white screen were "red squiggles" - MS Word's spell checker in action.
Ahh the white font on white background.
Back in the day working for outsourcing call centre company on behalf of AOL from start of the shift we had to create a report of the days happenings. This resulted is sometimes very lengthy emails and locking PCs was "not required" for the companies security policy. It was my turn for the report and the joker (DC) in the team changed the font of my typed email to white and walked away. I came back at the end of the 10 hour shift and closed down redundant applications including a "blank" email. AAARRRRGGGH!!!!!!!!- We are still friends.
In my area, the farmers adopted computers rather quickly. New combines came with the ability to store data for optimizing everything from best time to harvest, most economic harvest track, who had the lead foot amongst the drivers, maintenance schedules etc. And dairy farmers especially wanted to keep track of what went in and came out of their cows - every input cost money, and milk sold by the pound. But I still have people come in who brag to me that they never have had a computer, and then they leave, apparently pleased with themselves for having told the tech guy he was not needed!
In my area, the farmers adopted computers rather quickly. New combines came with the ability to store data for optimizing everything from best time to harvest, most economic harvest track, who had the lead foot amongst the drivers, maintenance schedules etc.
The amount of computers and automation in modern tractors and combines etc is quite staggering.
Apparently there is a problem with all those computers in that only approved repairers can service these tractors due to the code in the computers being used. Apparently it is locked down so that farmers cannot do their own servicing and there is a move for the code to be changed to allow this to be done. In the meantime, there have been "Jailbroken" versions of the software shared out, along with the applicable lawsuits against the jail breakers.
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