back to article Grad sends warning to manager: Be nice to our kit and it'll be nice to you

Friday has come around once more, which means we at El Reg get to regale you, dear reader, with tech support tales of the great and good in our weekly On-Call column. This time, we travel back to the start of the decade with “Mike”, then a fresh-faced grad holding a keen belief in good manners, and a taste for the mischievous …

  1. John Riddoch

    Never anthropomorphise computers. They hate that.

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Terminator

      Not only do they hate it, they really take it personally and seek vengeance.

    2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      If your role involves talking to users , or elderly relatives , you have no choice but to anthropomorphise the computer , especially peripherals.

    3. m0rt Silver badge

      @john - thank you! Thank you so much for that. You won the Commentard Commentry of the Comments Section Communal Comment of the Day award.

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Never anthropomorphise commentards.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Genius. Line Stolen. Now my Facebook Status

      1. Chavdar Ivanov

        Ditto. Thanks for the suggestion.

    5. Tinslave_the_Barelegged Silver badge

      Hah! You'll be laughing on the other side of your paper cassette when the machine, sounding remarkably like Tony Hawks replies "Howdee Doodley do". It's not just the toasters, you know.

    6. Bibbit

      Is that a record?

      166 upvotes and counting, with no downvotes. Most impressive.

  2. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Trollface

    The laying on of hands

    Percussive maintenance is not just knowing where to hit, but when and how hard.

    And there are times when a gentle touch works much better of course. But as with everything, it's knowing where to touch...

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: The laying on of hands

      Don't forget that No Means No. It's a right pain in the arse if your computer slaps you with a restraining order.

      *Cough*

      Not that I've ever had that happen to me personally. NopeA NopeA Nope. NeverEver NeverEver Never. It happened, ahhhh..., to a friend. Yeah! A friend! That's it!

      I'll get my coat, it's the one with the pockets full of ASBO notices...

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: The laying on of hands

      Well, speaking as one who actually has had to fly from London to Helsinki with 30 minutes' notice to replace a cartridge in a laser printer ("HM Ambassador needs the placeholders printed out tonight, if this does not happen it will be YOU whom I blame and it will be in writing. Get .. it .. done"), I can testify that sometimes all you need to do is to:

      1) Switch off the printer

      2) Take out the laser cartridge.

      3) Whisper gently to the printer .. "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet" works well.

      4) Put the cartridge back into the printer.

      5) Restart printer

      Cost to HMG of 1 business class return London to Helsinki? Over £3000

      The look on the idiot's face when his ambassador got the bill sent to him: Priceless

      1. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: The laying on of hands

        "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet"

        I'm reminded of the Spitting Image sketch where Pope John Paul II has to read someone the Last Rites, which goes something like "Spiritus Sanctum, de-dum, de-dum... I don't know the rest but hey, no-one ever comes back to complain !!!"

      2. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: The laying on of hands

        At least it's not a flight to St Helena, right? ;-)

  3. The humble print monkey

    Percussive maintenance

    We have a wonderfully cheap xerox printer, who when handled gently, produces excellent results. The build quality is appalling, being made mostly of brittle plastic.

    A colleague would vent his frustration about paper jams (paper not loaded neatly) by slamming the cassette shut. Cue taking out trays, reseating / replacing rollers etc.

    When asked if he would treat a hasselblad or sinar in the same way, of course not.

    As a finishing stage, the printer is stroked, and spoken kindly to. Then it works.

    I’m now no longer certain that I’ve not been unaware of micro switches.

  4. PM from Hell
    Devil

    Sometimes violence is the only answer

    At the opposite end of the scale was a large rogue Laser printer in one of our offices. We had many of these devices and most were loaded by users successfully, having trained them to be gentle, careful about engaging toner cartridges in the right slots etc. The exact same model in one office would only respond to extreme force. Follow the guidance properly and the damned thing would throw errors on every tray, ask you to check for non existent paper jams and insist on the whole rigmarole of opening and closing doors and trays in its preferred sequence before condescending to print anything. The only way to guaranteed instant performance was to shove the toner cartridge in with force, this seemed to cow the thing into good behaviour.

    it never once misbehaved when an engineer attended and even an internal investigation failed to reveal any issues. It became the one printer in the building which required a service desk visit to change the cartridge. I assume the annoyance of having to walk 300 yards to slam in a toner cartridge resulted in the appropriate force being generated. Just as well it was in the HQ offices and not at the other end of the county.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

      I'm sure I've posted this tale before, but it bears repeating:

      A colleague of mine was working on a desktop machine which steadfastly refused to boot cleanly.

      All the component parts, (motherboard, CPU, Fan, RAM, PSU, Video card, network card, etc) had been tested in other machines and were known to work, but put them all together in one case and it wouldn't work.

      Finally, in exasperation, my colleague picked the whole thing up and threw it out of an (open) second-floor window.

      When he had trudged downstairs and retrieved it from the flowerbed it was occupying, he emptied out the soil and plugged it in, and it worked first time.

      ...

      On the workbench in the comms room here we have the skeletal remains of a Dell PE860 with a large screwdriver embedded in its mainboard. It is left there as a salutary lesson to all the servers in the racks...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

        THE POWER OF CHRIS COMPELS YOU !!! *whack*

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

          Never underestimate the power of CHRIS especially if he owns an impressive selection of hammers.

          Give me a big enough hammer and I shall break the world.

          1. Chris King Silver badge

            Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

            "Never underestimate the power of CHRIS especially if he owns an impressive selection of hammers."

            This Chris was given a baseball bat as a leaving present from his last job. "We heard you've got more clients in the new job, so we thought this might come in handy - you'll have to add your own razor blades and rusty nails though !"

            I have even used it in anger on one occasion - nobody was injured but it made a hell of a racket when I smashed it against a table to break up a fight in my office. Peacekeeping Through Superior Firepower, you could say.

          2. Myvekk

            Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

            Give me a mouthful of hammers,a chainsaw, and oh! You got me the red scooter!

            https://www.schlockmercenary.com/assets/sm/upload/3i/06/uf/ir/SchlockWSawAndHammers.jpg

            - Sgt Schlock

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

        "When he had trudged downstairs and retrieved it from the flowerbed it was occupying, he emptied out the soil and plugged it in, and it worked first time."

        Did he also intone the magic words "Next time you're staying there."?

        1. kventin

          Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

          as seen on bloom county:

          http://www-i5.informatik.rwth-aachen.de/mbp/bloom/bloom9.gif

          1. fredds

            Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

            Bloom County is a great comic. Bought the 5 volume set, which started from the very first sketches.

      4. Tim99 Silver badge

        Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

        @Alister

        I think that I have posted this before as well, but it is, hopefully, relevant. Back in the days when I was responsible for a few hundred computers in a very large public utility we had a standard “fix” for our standard original IBM XT and AT PCs - Any that misbehaved were switched off and carefully raised ~2cm above the desk by lifting them with a hand on each side, then dropped. Usually they started working after they were switched back on. We had several theories as to why, including the sudden deceleration reseated loose chips and cards, or that it acted as a veiled threat to the machine that the next drop would be further...

        1. Flakk Silver badge

          Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

          @Tim99

          Ah yes, I remember that bygone era when the need for adequate cooling of electronics was not well understood. These days, kids have active cooling on their voltage regulators and cool their CPUs with liquid nitrogen. What a world.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

          "a standard “fix” for our standard original IBM XT and AT PCs - Any that misbehaved were switched off and carefully raised ~2cm above the desk by lifting them with a hand on each side, then dropped"

          XT's were notorious for dry joints, so that explains that one.

          ATs and others with that horrible ceramic 286 had problems with the socket fingers losing spring tension over time due to the heat of the processor (I left a burned on fingerprnt on one as a momento once) and there was a reasonable amount of thermal creep due to heating/cooling cycles. Shocking them was the best was of making sure you had a good electro-mechanical contact.

          The best mod you could do to an AT was a heatsink and fan.

        3. Bluto Nash
          FAIL

          Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

          Back when I used to work for Radio Shack (the US equivalent of what in Britain? Curry's? PCWorld?), we were shipped nifty little 10 (maybe 20) MB external HDDs to run the store POS ("Point Of Sale," not the obvious acronym) systems on. There was pretty much company-wide failure of the devices to boot or otherwise operate as designed (Total Inability to Support Usual Performance) when coming up from a powered off state. I came up with the ingenious solution of lifting the front of the units by around 2cm, then letting them falll on to the desktop that they were supported by during boot. This apparently unshipped the heads on the drives, allowing them to operate properly from there on - at least until until powered down the following night as mandated by corporate.

          All was well until I received a call from the CIO "asking" that I cease recommending that particular solution in our region as a way to get the (g*ddamn) systems to come up every day. That call was shortly followed by a firmware patch that unshipped the heads properly...

      5. vistisen

        Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

        About 12 years ago there was a break in in an office where I worked and my computer was stolen, But as the thieves were disturbed it was thrown out of a first floor window into the flower beds below before they legged it . To my great surprise it started up fine even though it was left outside for a couple of days in the rain until found by a gardener. But I DID get a new one as there had been put manure on the flowerbed and when it got warm the fans wafted 'the smell of a stable' around the office.

        1. Clarecats

          Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

          "But I DID get a new one as there had been put manure on the flowerbed and when it got warm the fans wafted 'the smell of a stable' around the office."

          I hope you donated the old one to a riding stables nearby, so it could waft the smell of an office around the stables.

      6. PeterM42
        Thumb Up

        Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

        Absolutely. I remember having Motorola mobiles thrust on us because (working for an airline) at the time they were the only quad-band ones available. One of the guys going home for the weekend complained his was not working and he was supposed to be on-call. After several minutes of his moaning, I grabbed it off him and chucked it on the (carpeted) floor. Worked perfectly after that.

        A little trick I had only discovered in frustration having chucked mine into the car passenger footwell.

        It became the "standard" fix for these Motorola phones. (None of this "turn it off and on again" nonsense!)

    2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

      *Nodding happily* YupYupYupYupYUP!

      I used to brandish a large BallPeenHammer in one hand & cackle sadisticly "Behave or I'll reprogram your ass with !A HAMMER!"

      Cue the computer equiv of a cowering, simpering, meek little mouse trapped in the corner by a large, hungry, Evil Cat.

      If the machine tried to bite I'd simply pound on the internal chassis struts to remind it that I wasn't kidding.

      I'm a Creatively Vindictive Evil Bastard, yesindeedydo! =-D

      *Scampers away laughing maniacally & swinging a hammer*

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

        cowering, simpering, meek little mouse trapped in the corner by a large, hungry, Evil Cat

        Objection yer honour! There's no such thing as an evil cat - they are all just misunderstood.

        (My cat told me to say that)

    3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

      --

      Just remember, violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. The rest of us don't wait until it's the only option. (an old ASR sig)

      1. Myvekk

        Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

        -Just remember, violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. The rest of us don't wait until it's the only option. (an old ASR sig)

        Maxim 6: If violence isn't your last resort, you didn't resort to enough of it.

        -The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries.

        1. Martin-73 Silver badge

          Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

          Ah! you mentioned ASR!

          *fires up Agent* for its six monthly outing into that September forum that I am not allowed to post in* but love to read

          *I know the chicken. But i am not qualified to do more than pet it.

      2. filcee

        Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

        Maxim 6: If violence wasn't your last resort, you failed to resort to enough of it

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

      " It became the one printer in the building which required a service desk visit to change the cartridge."

      It should have become the one printer in the building to become a doorstop.

      Honestly, life is too short to deal with a single misbehaving printer. if you can't fix it, then junk it.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

        "Honestly, life is too short to deal with a single misbehaving printer. if you can't fix it, then junk it."

        He did say they were big printers. If they are worth upwards of a few thousand, what's a 5 minute trip out of the office every week or three in the great scheme of things? Especially for service desk staff who either are out and about regularly anyway, or if not, might be pleased with the chance to get out of the office and go for a walk once in a while.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

      "I assume the annoyance of having to walk 300 yards to slam in a toner cartridge resulted in the appropriate force being generated."

      Most likely one of the wavy flag sensors being lifted out of place by removing the carts and then not dropping back into place when the carts are installed gently. Forcefully replacing the carts, or just a general thump will usually fix that as a workaround. The proper fix is to find it and clean it, though that is sometimes far more expensive than just working around it because sometimes those flags are deep in the bowels where even the most hardened printer engineers are afraid of going (ie an almost total strip-down to get there)

  5. Fading Silver badge
    Terminator

    Need an IT equivalent of mechanical sympathy....

    And its antonym...

    In my role as unpaid "tech guy" for family and friends I have frequently had the phone ring ten minutes after fixing something only for the voice on the end to say "it's not working again". So either I exude a technological fixing aura or the poor IT equipment is subject to abuse from the less technically literate and simply gives up.....

    Mayhap courses in technological sympathy at school would help alleviate this Industrial 4.0 disease.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: Need an IT equivalent of mechanical sympathy....

      These machines aren't stupid. They've evolved to the point where they can recognise a tech' who actually knows what they are doing, so behave properly in fear of being molested.

      It's all absolutely true I tell you.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Need an IT equivalent of mechanical sympathy....

        "They've evolved to the point where they can recognise a tech' who actually knows what they are doing, so behave properly in fear of being molested."

        This can even happen remotely. Only this week SWMBO's sister rang to say could I come and look at her laptop on Thursday afternoon and described a catalogue of woes leading me to wonder if it was malware (quietly wondering what sites her husband might have visited if he'd borrowed it). Oh, no, it was the cat that had walked across the keys.

        On Thursday morning she rung to say it had "fixed itself". Probably fear of being molested by somebody who didn't know what they were doing (it runs Windows) and might have taken the step of installing Linux.

      2. ma1010 Silver badge
        Terminator

        Re: Need an IT equivalent of mechanical sympathy....

        At one company I was the "computer guy": network, software development, DBA, helpdesk, "and crew of the captain's gig." We had one user who was always having some kind of problem with his computer.

        One day the boss said to him, "Why is your computer always doing that? It never does that when [my name] is around." He replied, "It wouldn't dare!"

      3. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Need an IT equivalent of mechanical sympathy....

        "They've evolved to the point where they can recognise a tech' who actually knows what they are doing, so behave properly in fear of being molested."

        Known in the industry as a "faulty technician sensor". I never did find out if it was the technician or the sensor that is considered faulty. I believe other industries have similar terms. Or perhaps that's "Fawlty technician sensor". I have seen it in action many times, recalcitrant computer gear that suddenly starts to work if even the threat of having me poke at it is mentioned within earshot of the device.

    2. GlenP Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Need an IT equivalent of mechanical sympathy....

      It's not sympathy, it's mentally threatening them with a large axe (with a nod to Douglas Adams of course) that works for me.

      1. The humble print monkey

        Elphin safety

        I keep a variety of hammers in plain view of all our printing devices.

        The printers know, they understand.

        Title, because I haven’t found a plausible explanation for an axe in my print room.

        1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          Re: Elphin safety

          "I keep a variety of hammers in plain view of all our printing devices."

          http://goodomenslexicon.org/articles/crowleys-houseplants/

          "Every once in a while, Crowley picks a plant that is not growing too well and carries it around the flat to the other plants, telling them “‘Say goodbye to your friend. He just couldn’t cut it…'”. He then takes the plant out of the flat, and brings home “a large, empty flower pot” which he “leave[s] somewhere conspicuously around the flat”. Because of this, his plants are “the most luxurious, verdant, and beautiful in London”, but “also the most terrified”."

          1. Daedalus Silver badge

            Re: Elphin safety

            "Every once in a while, Crowley picks a plant that is not growing too well and carries it around the flat to the other plants, telling them “‘Say goodbye to your friend. He just couldn’t cut it…'”

            Taking a cue from Nick Revell, I think.

            1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

              Re: Elphin safety

              "Good Omens" (1990) apparently was out before "The Nick Revell Show"(1992), but Nick Revell's complicated relationship with houseplants may have appeared earlier. Threats against inanimate objects arguably include Zaphod Beeblebrox threatening to do some computer reprogramming with an axe (the computer's feelings were very hurt), and an anecdote from some touring entertainer long, long ago concerned a troublesome lavatory cistern whose owner explained to her theatrical paying guest, "You have to surprise it, Mr. ____" - which I suppose means a sudden sharp pull.

              https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03p77t9 seems to include Miriam Margolyes re-telling this as happening to Lionel Blair.

              1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: Elphin safety

                I had the pleasure of spending a few hours in a bar last December & giving some advice to Radagast The Brown on the subject of why his printers always gave him trouble after months away filming (Inkjets dried up) for printing off scripts etc on his return home & told him to go get a half decent laser (or even a crappy one).

                I admit I got a kick out of telling The Doctor how to resolve his technical difficulties.

                1. Chris King Silver badge

                  Re: Elphin safety

                  "I admit I got a kick out of telling The Doctor how to resolve his technical difficulties."

                  I got him to do me a new answer phone message last year - a little perk for backing a play he was in at the Edinburgh Fringe.

                  He's there again in the same show this year, alongside Robert "EMH" Picardo.

                  Yes, there is a "Doctor, Doctor" joke in there, and McCoy plays the spoons. Picardo bounces round the (minimal) set like a five-year-old that's had way too many fizzy drinks just before bedtime.

                  1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
                    Pint

                    Re: Elphin safety

                    I also dropped into the conversation Big Jim & The Figaro Club (Filmed in & around the area where I grew up), which he remembered fondly & was looking to buy a home somewhere in the East Dorset area, I mentioned that one of The Bristol Boys who created K9 was last heard of as living in Bridport just down the road from where he was contemplating, which surprised him.

                    Icon - Because we were still drinking beer.

                2. David Given
                  Coat

                  Re: Elphin safety

                  You weren't tempted to suggest that he reversed the polarity of the neutron flow?

                  1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
                    Pint

                    Re: Elphin safety

                    No I didn't, it simply didn't occur to me to make a cheap shot as we were all talking sensibly (He had a whole weekend of convention attendees waiting to make "amusing quips" like that) as he was asking why was I in the US\living in Canada & discussing the Oil Sands.

                    He also took time to spend about 8 minutes engaging with my youngest son who while being over 18 & on the autistic spectrum, until the hotel bar staff delicately drew that opportunity to a end as he was under 21 & shouldn't be in the bar.

                    Aside from Big Jim, the only question I wanted a answer to was he going to be in the finale of Sense8

                    I have to admit to being slightly pissed at missing out on any interaction with Peter Davison that weekend (Although both did come over to the Project Dalek stand while we were at the closing ceremony & they had just left the stage) & I hadn't blagged myself a place on the Celebrity Guest outings the following days.

                    Icon - More beer.

              2. JulieM Silver badge
                Coat

                Re: Elphin safety

                [A]nd an anecdote from some touring entertainer long, long ago concerned a troublesome lavatory cistern whose owner explained to her theatrical paying guest, "You have to surprise it, Mr. ____" - which I suppose means a sudden sharp pull.
                An old cast-iron Burlington, by any chance? https://www.practicaldiy.com/plumbing/cistern_burlington/cisterns_burlington.php These are inherently fussy about timing, less so if the float valve is adjusted to set the water level with millimetre precision.

                Alternatively, it could have had the beginnings of a split in the syphon diaphragm: https://www.practicaldiy.com/plumbing/cistern_syphon/cisterns_syphon.php This usually causes temperamental flushing at first -- the cistern will flush successfully if you can work the handle quickly enough to get enough water over the weir of the syphon before it drains away via the split -- gradually becoming impossible as the damage gets too severe. You can cut a replacement from a heavy-duty polythene sack with a sharp knife.

                Mine's the one with the adjustable spanner in the pocket.

              3. onefang Silver badge

                Re: Elphin safety

                'a troublesome lavatory cistern whose owner explained to her theatrical paying guest, "You have to surprise it, Mr. ____" - which I suppose means a sudden sharp pull.'

                Is that whacking off rather quickly, or a very quick jerk off, that you mean by "sudden sharp pull"? Sounds painful.

                1. Soruk

                  Re: Elphin safety

                  That sounds like a job for a certain Samantha.

            2. toastie

              Re: Elphin safety

              Surely that was Neil Gaimen / Terry Pratchett?

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Elphin safety

          because I haven’t found a plausible explanation for an axe in my print room

          You need to 'upgrade' to an IBM line printer - those things were so solid that only an axe could disassemble them..

        3. LeahroyNake Bronze badge

          Re: Elphin safety

          My printroom has a nice big rubber mallet with Kip and OCE written on it in tippex. Seems to do the trick and as a plus point it gets handed to the engineer (along with a cup of coffee) when they turn up.

      2. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

        mechanical sympathy....

        An old-school grey haired mechanic friend of mine has, on the wall of his workship, the biggest spanner you've probably ever seen. It's about 6 feet long and probably takes two men to lift it. It looks like it could unscrew the propeller from a battleship (I think it actually came from a ship).

        One time I casually asked what he uses it for. His reply - "I keep it there to scare those little but stubborn nuts/bolts/screws into submission - you know, the ones that just won't shift no matter how much WD40 or leverage you put on them. Just show them the size of that thing and they know you mean business and then they'll surrender and let go"

      3. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

        Re: Need an IT equivalent of mechanical sympathy....

        "It's not sympathy, it's mentally threatening them with a large axe (with a nod to Douglas Adams of course) that works for me."

        The device, or the relative?

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Need an IT equivalent of mechanical sympathy....

          The device, or the relative?

          The relative of course - one cares about ones devices..

    3. David Given

      Re: Need an IT equivalent of mechanical sympathy....

      This has been well known for years --- go look up 'quantum bododynamics' in the Hacker's Dictionary...

      Brief summary: bogons are particles which cause technology to fail. Some people emit bogons, thus causing technological failure when they're nearby. Others absorb them, damping the level of ambient bogon radiation.

      This is why the printer always works fine when the sysadmin is nearby; the sysadmin has been working in tech for so long that they've become a highly effective bogon sink.

    4. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Need an IT equivalent of mechanical sympathy....

      How about mechempathy and mecopathy?

      I can recognise mechempathy intellectually but excel at disruptive mecopathy (with the correct choice of impact delivery aid).

  6. wyatt
    Thumb Up

    In a previous life we had to use Panasonic toughbooks for all our work. These generally worked ok but one day one failed, only to be flung out of the vehicle by the user in frustration. He followed it out thinking how he'd explain the dents/scratches and general accompanied damage, only to power it back on and for it to work as intended. Not sure how many times you'd be able to do this..

    1. Giovani Tapini
      Holmes

      Maybe lots

      but in like likely event he could not have seen where, or how hard, to create this effect the likelihood of a repeat performance is significantly reduced...

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      I had a computer keyboard whose space bar was dodgy. I threw it out of the window in frustration, but subsequently realized I didn't have a spare keyboard lying around. I retrieved it from the garden (I threw it from a first floor window) and the space bar worked slightly better.

    3. Twanky

      Toughbook? pah!

      We issued lightweight notebooks (Dell D420 I think in this instance). Then there was a guy who brought his back having checked it into hold luggage and watched his bag fall off the luggage carriage and get run over by it at Caracas airport. The screen was crazed and the chassis/body was bent but the damn thing still worked if you could pry it open. We kept it in the office as a display item.

    4. Paul Shirley

      The extreme version of picking up the box and dropping it from an empirically determined height to "reseat the chips". My Atari ST needed about 7cm to remind it where half the RAM was.

    5. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Flame

      Judging by the state of every field service Toughbook I have to deal with, quite often.

    6. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      That's what the handle on a Toughbook is for, isn't it?

  7. jake Silver badge

    This is normal in every human endeavor.

    Using insider knowledge to put one over on an outsider is human nature.

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Go

      Re: This is normal in every human endeavor.

      "Using insider knowledge to put one over on an outsider is human nature."

      Plus, it's fun!

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: This is normal in every human endeavor.

      I once worked in a large office where the lights would go off if the movement sensors decided no-one was present, and on again once someone moved into range. Being the first in on most mornings I quickly learned where the boundaries were for the various lighting zones.

      One day we were due to have a trainee start, and I found this kid waiting for me at Reception at 7.30am or whatever ungodly time it was (fair enough, better early than late). As I led him through the building I asked him about his (near total lack of) experience so I could work out where best to start him off. When I opened the door onto the darkened office I joked, "Anyway, technical knowledge isn't everything. Sometimes you just have to let the machines know who's boss", and as I walked across the first boundary I held both arms out wide and clicked my fingers (the lights came on), across the second boundary (click! - lights) and into the third zone (fiat lux!). I turned round and he was just standing there, gob wide open with eyes as large as saucers.

      There are days when the universe realises it just owes you one.

      1. smudge Silver badge

        Re: This is normal in every human endeavor.

        ...and as I walked across the first boundary I held both arms out wide and clicked my fingers (the lights came on), across the second boundary (click! - lights) and into the third zone (fiat lux!).

        We had a salesman who was often first into the office, purely so that he could experience the ego-trip of having the lights turn on as he walked the length of the office.

        Bloody useless salesman he was, too :)

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: This is normal in every human endeavor.

          We had a salesman who was often first into the office, purely so that he could experience the ego-trip of having the lights turn on as he walked the length of the office.

          Did he also have a player on his person to play appropriate music to enhance his greatness? Such as "also sprach Zarathustra".

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

            Re: This is normal in every human endeavor.

            Which is the ringtone on our company switchboard - It does drive you nuts very quickly if the branch admin has broken something else again & you are sat next to the phones trying to resolve her issue.

          2. Soruk

            Re: This is normal in every human endeavor.

            That is my on-call ring tone. As performed by the Portsmouth Sinfonia. It has to be heard to be believed.

      2. John R. Macdonald

        Re: This is normal in every human endeavor.

        @Rich 11

        Pulled a similar trick on the kids of a friend of mine who were visiting. I was living in Paris at the time in a flat with a great view over the city, including of course the Eiffel Tower. At midnight I pointed to the illuminated Eiffel Tower, said 'Out!' in a loud voice and snapped my fingers. The lights on the Eiffel Tower obediently went out. Cue two very impressed young'uns.

      3. J. Cook Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: This is normal in every human endeavor.

        @Rich 11:

        I did that at a convention I was working- the room that I was lugging gear into had presence sensors set up for the lights, and I had a helper with me as we pushed our cart full of gear to set the room up. I pushed the cart in about 6 feet, yelled "AZIZ! LIGHT!" and as I snapped my fingers, BOOM! the lights came up. It was timed just enough that my helper cleared two feet straight up from the surprise.

      4. Glenturret Single Malt

        Re: This is normal in every human endeavor.

        The golf club where I play has no external windows in the men's locker room toilet. It also has movement activated lights. So, if you come in after playing on a quiet winter afternoon when it gets dark not long after 4.00 and disappear into a toilet cubicle for too long, you can find yourself caught with your pants down plunged into almost complete blackness.

        1. onefang Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: This is normal in every human endeavor.

          "you can find yourself caught with your pants down plunged into almost complete blackness."

          I have that problem with this new place I have moved into. The downstairs dunny has a timed light, with the switch on the outside. You have three minutes to get your business done, or you bring a torch.

  8. Snarf Junky

    Our printer has a sign above it warning people not to shout at or hit it as it is networked with all the other printers and computers and will tell them all how nasty you are. I saw someone giving it a hug once.

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Enjoy a pint! I'll be laughing for hours. =-D

      The mental image of someone hugging a Lexmark & cooing "Who's my favorite pwintah? You! You're my favorite pwintah!" is making my sides ache in amusement. Cheers! =-D

  9. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

    It amazes me that after 30 years or so of desktop publishing (remember that phrase?) printers cant just print - always bitching about what kind of paper you might want or size , rather than just taking a cue from WHAT KIND OF PAPER THEYVE BEEN GIVEN!!!

    I know this wouldnt cover every scenario , but for every time you were making an A5 leaflet and the printer blasely assumed you wanted A4 like normal - you'd have avoided a 100 "what the fucks wrong now?" moments.

    We are nowhere this stage yet - yesterday for instance I sent an A4 print to our giant centralised copier scanner printer , logged into it - nothing happens , a tiny orange blinking light is telling me there is some haggling to do to berate the fucking thing into making an effort.

    Turns out it has 4 drawers all set to A4.

    Three of them are full of A4 paper .

    one is empty.

    The printer thinks that is a reason to down tools.

    If thats the pinnacle of printing AI , were never going to get it right before paper is obsolete.

    1. Chloe Cresswell

      Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

      I haven't had that with a copier.. But HP laserjets? Yes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

        If you use HP WebJetAdmin, there is a configuration option that allows up to display info on the control panel. Info such as IP address or asset number for example. Or custom text, such as "FEED ME JELLY BABIES!"

        Luckily for me, the user didn't feed sweets to the printer, just logged a call to the help desk.....

        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

          @Anonymous Coward:

          ...Or custom text, such as "FEED ME JELLY BABIES!"

          There's a very short PCL script you can feed to a printer to set the idle display to whatever you want, too. I'm fond of "SKYNET CONNECTED, AWAITING ORDERS" or "INSERT COIN" or "BBQ SAUCE LOW".

          Best part is, if someone objects to your practical joke, power cycling the printer clears it out.

          1. Kevin Fairhurst

            Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

            I always went for NEED NEW CRAYONS but was asked to stop as there had been “complaints”

            1. Mr Humbug

              Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

              I had them all saying OUT OF BEER. When I had a call about it I told the user to go and buy beer so I could 'fit it' for them.

              Didn't work.

          2. molletts

            Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

            I remember scaring the wits out of a kid who was thumping the old LaserJet 4 in the IT suite, impatiently waiting for her document to print (it was the usual "The bell's about to go, everybody print your work before you go home!" situation, inevitably leading to 30 kids all hitting print simultaneously). I was logged into the Linux print server from one of the PCs and used a little utility I had for generating PJL commands to make the printer display "OW THAT HURTS"..."PLEASE STOP".

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

            "There's a very short PCL script you can feed to a printer to set the idle display to whatever you want"

            After I set our printers to occasionally say "wibble", they started displaying messages that they loved Satan and demanding human sacrifices. We never did find out who did that.

    2. Giovani Tapini

      Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

      It's an obscure configuration conflict between your publishing application of choice, and the printer setup that only manifests itself when something urgent needs to be done.

      The fun can be amplified when attempting to figure our how to manually feed envelopes or some other stationary into a laser printer often just above the air vents at the back in a dusty cupboard with only 6 inches of length on the power so you can't pull it forward etc...

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

        The fun can be amplified when attempting to figure our how to manually feed envelopes

        A few weeks ago I had to print an address onto an envelope, so I carefully worked out where the manual feed was in the printer, and which way round the envelope had to be, and then checked in the printer driver for all the correct settings.

        It only bloody worked first time.

        Realising that I was treading in a realm where few have trod before, I sensibly decided to go home early. There was no way I was going to top that.

        1. Mike Richards Silver badge

          Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

          You were dancing on the edge of the volcano there!

          I trust you didn't risk driving home? That would have been the day the balance of the Universe would require that you were run off the road by a juggernaut filled with faulty printers.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

          "A few weeks ago I had to print an address onto an envelope"

          Why not just use window envelopes?

    3. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

      "The printer thinks that is a reason to down tools."

      The printer thinks that is an excuse to down tools. It's a continuation of the Wapping dispute.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

        I'm going to be a pedant and remind you that the Wapping dispute was about Murdoch closing an entire printing plant with the intent of secretly bringing another one online. His heavy-handed attitude to his employees was the cause of the dispute; it was not an excuse. Negotiations had been going on for months before the strike was called.

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

          "I'm going to be a pedant and remind you that the Wapping dispute was about Murdoch closing an entire printing plant with the intent of secretly bringing another one online."

          You mean close a plant employing 6800 people to open one employing 670 people that did the exact same job? It's almost as if technology moves on. Hope you aren't using electric lights, when candles are just as good.

          Both sides were dicks in the dispute (any side Rupert Murdoch is on is automatically a dick side), and I was just making a reference to it because, you know, printer.

        2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

          The one that gets me since we have just deployed new Xerox printers throughout our company is jobs presenting error codes on the front panel & from the web admin pages displaying the helpful message "Job Held For Resources" ie it wants the correct paper size without telling you what it actually wants.

    4. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

      Reminds me of Dennis Denuto* (Language warning)

      *We've all been there Dennis

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

        P(aper) C(arrier is empty of the expected letter sized paper,) LOAD (the carrier with) LETTER (sized paper).

        Printer has A4 paper, document or printer driver has been laid out to print on Letter paper.

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

          Um, whoosh?

          This is what the title is referring to:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QQdNbvSGok

        2. JulieM Silver badge

          Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

          The number of CVs I have seen laid out for US Letter paper, using spaces for positioning, ad-hoc font changes instead of styles and still claiming "intermediate to advanced" Microsoft Office skills is frightening .....

    5. Nick Kew Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Nudge

      Hats off to your printer, for the nudge towards thinking before you print

    6. LeahroyNake Bronze badge

      Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

      Sounds like somebody specified the tray rather than tray / auto.

      Load letter though... that's really annoying. Most decent copiers have settings that say I'm not in the US so I think you meant A4. They also have more settings to say if it should print it right away or ask if that's really what you want.... probably twice.

      Set sensible defaults (in control panel not the application as they are normally session specific and will be reset) and avoid using any of the settings in MS Word to specify complex settings, that's what the print driver is for.

      If you are doing DTP :O Maybe get something better than the crud from PC world.

    7. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

      Chances are that if you look at the printer settings, the cassette that is empty is the 'preferred' cassette.

    8. molletts

      Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

      I once persuaded a particularly dipsy teacher who had brought her class up to the IT suite that it meant the printer had run out of letters to put on the page. I took the print cartridge out, took it into my office next door, quickly logged into the printer's admin interface to set the A4/Letter equivalence option (which kept clearing itself for some reason), cleared the print queue then returned with the cartridge ("refilled with a fresh supply of letters") and reinstalled it, magically fixing the problem.

      A few weeks later, I heard her explaining it to someone else in the staff room, sounding very authoritative, after they had encountered the same problem.

    9. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

      PC LOAD LETTER means you sent it a US Letter job,

      Which is understandable. The default paper size for _every_ variant of Engliish (not just US and Filipino) in Postscript AND PCL is US Letter.

      It's A4 for every other language - which is annoying for US Spanish speakers, Tagalog users and Puerto Ricans.

      It's bad enough that I wrote a wee sed filter for CUPS and tucked it away inside tea4cups that exists simply and soley to convert "JobPageSize: Letter" to "JobPageSize: A4"

      The fact that I edited the CUPS ppds to remove letter/legal/executive is a mere bagatelle, half the lusers don't use those PPDs.

      Oh, and make sure they DON'T have direct access to the printers or they'll fuck up your careful fixes.

  10. Korev Silver badge
    Joke

    Talking to printers is good...

    ...you just need the right toner voice

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Talking to printers is good...

      Ahahahahahahahahaha

  11. Hollerithevo Silver badge

    @Korev

    You should be ashamed.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: @Korev

      But what'd be the pun in that?

    2. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: @Korev

      Ashamed in general, or because of that pun?

  12. jason 7

    I dunno...

    ...but I know for certain I can hand any electronic gadget that has given me years of solid 100% reliable service to my other half to use and within 5 minutes or fewer "it's broken!" or "it doesn't work!"

    FFS!

    1. Remy Redert

      Re: I dunno...

      My parents are inevitably having issues with the printer. I never have issues with the printer and if I walk downstairs to check on their issues, problems disappear into the aether.

  13. Giovani Tapini

    In my first job they had about 20 printers

    Almost all of them were unique, different manufacturers, media, networking and printing technology.

    Each one needed a different way of fixing or maintaining, and I am sure all the controls resembled more of a Hasbro Bop-it than an enterprise device. Bloody push, pull, turn, open, shut, lift, click, lock and all different. I don't know how I managed to learn all the different printer skills and not confuse them.

  14. drdr6

    Copier warning

    I've seen this on a few copiers over the years, seems to be in line with others' observations:

    "Copier Warning!!"

    This machine is subject to breakdowns during periods of critical need

    A special circuit in the machine called a "critical detector" senses the operator's emotional state in terms of how desparate he or she is to use the machine. The "critical detector" then creates a malfunction proportional to the desparation of the operator. Threatening the machine with violence only aggrevates the situation. Likewise, attempts to use another machine may cause it to also malfunction. They belong to the same union. Keep cool and say nice things to the machine. Nothing else seems to work

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Copier warning

      I think I might need to have a friendly quiet word with my laptop and remind it that it's not a copier, so to stop acting like one based on that...

  15. Christoph Silver badge

    Sometimes it's the user

    Physicist Wolfgang Pauli could break equipment simply by being in the same room. Or even by happening to be changing trains at the local railway station. See 'Pauli effect'.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Sometimes it's the user

      We had one of these when I was at school. He could cause expensive glassware to break in the chemistry lab merely by poking his head in the door.

      He arrived at university the year after I did because he had a nearly fatal motorcycle accident, which I suspect was the revenge of the Cosmic Machine Karma System.

    2. ARGO

      Re: Sometimes it's the user

      We had one of those at university.

      But he was nowhere near as annoying as the one who had the opposite effect. I spent hours trying to fix something without success. This guy walks in and it springs to life immediately. Every. F***ing. Time. Must have been some sort of electronics deity.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: Sometimes it's the user

        Maybe he had a magnetic personality?

      2. Clarecats

        Re: Sometimes it's the user

        Polyester clothes and static?

    3. Paul Cooper

      Re: Sometimes it's the user

      I had a colleague like that. His supreme moment was leaving some expensive equipment out on an ice-floe and finding later that another ice-flow had slid over the top of the first, reducing the equipment to a smear of plastic and metal.

      A different colleague managed to jam an irreplaceable drill 6 feet down a hole in the ice - JUST too far for it to be dug out by hand!

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Sometimes it's the user

        I had an electronics tutor with a habit of blowing semiconductors, which made his demo's pointless as he was always trying to jury rig the experiment for what ever transistor{s) had expired in his presence, so the point was lost.

        He went through multiple attempts to get a working home computer in the 80's from the same store including testing before he left the shop, gets home its DOA.

        Apparently he was so abundant with static he had to discharge himself against a radiator before he dared kiss his wife goodbye in the morning, a fact that some student thought it was worth flogging (successfully) to the Sun\Mirror for some beer money.

        Icon - EMP.

        1. ICPurvis47
          Devil

          Re: Sometimes it's the user

          When I was a kid of about six or seven, I was given a new Space Watch for Christmas. This was basically a normal analogue watch with two numbered discs in place of the hands, and a stainless steel case with two small holes to view the numbers as they progressed past, in order to tell the time. When I put it on my wrist, it immediately stopped. Put it on the mantlepiece, and it would start working again. On my wrist - stops dead, on the mantlepiece, desk, bedside table, anywhere - starts working again. Sent it back to watch shop, no fault found. Several trips later, they gave up and sent me a normal wristwatch, which proceeded to exhibit the same phenomenon. Other members of my family could wear it successfully, but not me. Gave it to my sister, and was given a pocket watch, which worked OK as long as I kept it in my shirt pocket. I was the only kid at school who wore a pocket watch and chain, much to the amusement of the teachers. Problem went away as I grew older, but never did find the cause.

  16. sandman

    Faulty user

    Being cursed with the unofficial IT support role in one organisation, I had a colleague who used to go literally berserk with both her PC and printer. Her problem was deadlines. She'd leave printing large academic papers until, ooh, about 5 minutes to 5 and the postman would come and pick up at 5. So, several times a week there'd be a scream of "The fucking printer won't print!". This was quite often accompanied by impactful sound effects.

    Muggins here would wander into her office and say "How many times did you press print?"

    "Only fucking once!!!" would be shouted back. Of course, when you viewed the print spool, there'd be 20 jobs in the queue...

    She once threw her mouse so hard at the monitor that we never did find its ball in the pig pen that was her office.

    1. druck
      Facepalm

      Re: Faulty user

      My wife printed off her masters thesis 5 minutes before the last possible minute to drive it down to the uni on submission deadline day. It was not until it was being assessed that she found out that half way through it terminated with a postscript error - she didn't think to check! Somehow she managed to get the masters despite the thesis not containing a conclusion, but after reading the full copy her tutor told her told she would have got a distinction.

  17. hmv

    Foul Language?

    What the f*** is this s*** about foul f****** language? Are we turning into a bunch of p****** p*******? There's a reason we f******* swear like fucking sailors; it's a f******* stress relief exercise necessary because of those dumb f***** in management and those even dumber f**** masquerading as users.

    1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

      Re: Foul Language?

      Since we swear like [EXPLETIVE DELETED] sailors, I really, really want to know what you ****'d out!

      Flippin' heck, just previewed this reply and I see No20's been at it again. Pinback, put the Beachball down!

    2. Giovani Tapini
      Trollface

      Re: Foul Language?

      you your bleeping missed one on the when describing sailors. up until that point I had no idea what word you were trying to use

    3. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: Foul Language?

      Stress - The feeling you experience when your mind overrules your body's natural desire to beat the living shit out of some arsehole who *really* deserves it?

  18. Andytug

    Printers are a special case all right....

    Mechanical things, such as cars (pre 2000ish), tractors, power tools etc respond to being spoken to nicely. Electronics need to be sworn at, mightily in some cases.

    Printers, being both electronic and mechanical, need exactly the correct proportion of both, but some are so finely balanced that neither works, they are beyond help.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Printers are a special case all right....

      My family once had a car that, before starting, we would always give the dashboard a quick rub/pat. Worked great. I forgot one day (was in a hurry), and had it stall on me. Rubbed the dash, started it up, no further problems. At that point, it was >30 years old...

  19. Nick Kew Silver badge
    Pint

    Rebecca++

    That's two weeks of On Call, and two vintage columns. A definite thumbs-up to the change of editorship here.

    (Yes of course it could just be coincidence, but I wonder if Simon had done it for long enough to have lost some of his initial spark).

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Rebecca++

      I'm not saying these are better stories or better told, but if they are, I suspect that The Register's large male readership is excited there's a lady in charge and getting out their old favourites to impress her. Maybe with a bit of a polish beforehand.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We once had a external consultant proprietorially clomp into our office, unplug somebody's network cable and plug his laptop in - then complain he couldn't connect to anything.

    - Your machine's ID needs to be whitelisted and then you need to log onto the firewall.

    + How do I do that?

    - You use your normal logon, you know, your payroll number and password, which is double-checked against known machine MAC addresses.

    + How do I get a payroll number and MAC address?

    - By being an employee, and using company equipment.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meaningful Error Messages

    I get this occasionally with the latest version of Microsoft's Outlook. Every now and again, I'll try to send an email only to be met with the message "The operation failed - an object could not be found". Fortunately, Microsoft supplied this highly detailed error message containing within it all the information required to rectify the problem.

    The resolution for this error is to find any nearby object that comes to hand - a pencil perhaps, a policeman's helmet, a merkin stand, anything really - and offer this up to the screen whilst saying "Hey Microsoft, here's an object". Following this ritual, press the send button again and the email sends.

    Works every time.

  22. heyrick Silver badge

    "a foul-mouthed quality manager blew in to hand down orders and throw his weight around"

    Isn't that basically all their job description entails?

    I've seen brought-in Quality Managers at work several times in my life. Can't say a single one of them (not one) improved things, can say that several caused good people to quit and that generally made things worse.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      A "brought-in Quality Manager" you say.

      That's an interesting idea.

      What do you suppose their motivation is, given that they have no financial interest in the company and the companies that they prey upon are self-selecting for "too fucking tight to hire permanent staff and too fucking dysfunctional to have any inherent quality"?

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        What do you suppose their motivation is.....

        Motivation? Easy.. they're sadists and they get paid well to strike fear and terror into the staff.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I've seen brought-in Quality Managers at work several times in my life. Can't say a single one of them (not one) improved things, can say that several caused good people to quit and that generally made things worse"

      They can all identify "Quality", as it hands in its notice or walks out in disgust - the same way "Motivational Speakers" motivate good people to leave, but Quality Managers can do it without having to force anyone to watch "Who Moved My Cheese?"

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Motivational Speakers

        Within companies most are like the General Manglerer at the company I have just retired from; for the ladt few years he had been telling people there's an economic crisis and there are a thousand people wanting to do your job.

        Mostly he has motivated people who can do their jobs to make way for others who can't.

        I think a lot of motivational speakers are MBAs who can't get a job.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Manners

    Many years ago, while formatting (or copying files from) a floppy under MS-DOS*, I did get a message about it failing - try again? (Y/N)

    Instead of just pressing Y followed by return, I typed in "Yes please"

    Worked perfectly

    *It was a long time ago, what ever I was trying to do

  24. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    i have apparently become the being that computers fear. I have friends that are convinced that when I walk into a room the computers decide to behave. I had not one but *three* managers who were convinced that I had this talent (and I got pulled in on a HELL of a lot of sev 1 and 2 calls then).

  25. Daedalus Silver badge

    Pity the poor device programmer

    With printers it's the proverbial, if cliched, perfect storm. On the one hand, you've got that destroyer of technological hope, the average (l)user. On the other, you've got a less than fully functional low level system cobbled together from one of the runts of the *nix litter, if that. Busybox, or perhaps some bastard offspring of a port from one of those AT&T systems that remarkably failed to find any market traction. Throw in marketing demanding every feature that their hallucinogen of choice causes them to think of, and you've got a situation in which allowing for everything that might happen when the luser changes paper suddenly stops being a priority. The wonder is that the things work at all.

  26. Fungus Bob Silver badge

    I used to carry an old bone in my toolbox just to freak people out.

    1. tony trolle

      Did you once work for ICL ?

      1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

        That depends...

        Are you freaked out?

  27. cosymart
    FAIL

    Printers, Ha!!

    If you think that the printer connected to your PC/Laptop/etc. is evil just wait until you encounter the hell of networked printers situated randomly in a multi-storey building. What might be logical to the BOFH who set them up is total garbage to the users. Printer-1/2-4 or Printer-2/2-3 etc. is meaningless especially when all the printers are identical with no outward signs or labels. Guaranteed to reduce the productivity of the office to zero and grown men to tears.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Printers, Ha!!

      "If you think that the printer connected to your PC/Laptop/etc. is evil just wait until you encounter the hell of networked printers situated randomly in a multi-storey building."

      We once did a new PC deployment for a charity with offices all over the country. This was about 10 years ago so in the days when much of the configuration was still done at the desk and not automatically done over the network from machine name/ID. Part of the config was to set the default and other local network printers.

      Imagine my surprise on day one and finding something in the order of 400 printers in the printer discovery list scattered all over the UK. At least they were named by town/office + room.

      We also discovered on our first visit to one of the more remote locations, that setting all the PCs up first then telling 5 or more users to all log in and check their email works could bring the slow and crappy ADSL that barely managed dial-ip speeds down to it knees and was a really, really bad idea when all the PCs tried to synchronise the Outlook PST files for the first time and download many MB of emails and attachments.

    2. David Roberts Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Printers, Ha!!

      Bringing back vague memories of printers being set up logically; names like floor 2 room 16.

      Then the reorganisation tango would start and the people and associated kit would migrate around the building.

      The trick was to send a print job with the name of the printer on it then scout around until you found it. You were then set until the next reshuffle. Rinse and repeat.

  28. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Quite the opposite of being kind..

    Not my boss, but this aricle did remind me of a time when I was a student, back in ... errr 1989ish.

    I was in one of the computer rooms, and they had recently had a whole bunch of DECstations installed (lovely bit of kit, monitor the size of a planet)

    I remember all sorts of warnings placed over the power switches and power points - people kept on switching the things off, despite the fact the machines were all part of the main vax cluster, and users were just users, so there was no proper shutdown invoked... but I digress.

    Anyway, there was a girl in there who was reading some large document on the screen, and the screen-hibernate screensaver kicked on, and she asked for help, saying "I hadn't pressed any key or anything for ages then the whole thing just broke".

    Realising what had happened, I walked over to it, and threatened the monitor, telling it that I was sick of it acting up, and that it better start working now, or there would be hell to pay etc. Of course, nothing happened so I ranted some more, and said "I give you 3 seconds..." (at this point the girl was looking at me like I was a nutter).. "THREE.... TWO.... ONE" . On "ONE" I thumped the table, right next to the mouse (which she hadn't been using) causing it to move just enough to trigger the screen powering back on.

    "See? You just have to tell it who's boss" I said, as I walked away. I really hoped it would happen again, and she'd end up shouting at the monitor itself - alas it didn't, presumably she'd finished her reading and was now using the keyboard.

    Yes, I was an annoying troll type of person back then too!

  29. Marshalltown

    Anthropomorphisation magic

    Working for a totally unrelated kind of business, back in the early '90s the owner decided to become an ISP as well. Note "as well." As part of the process, the busness moved to a somewhat larger space, and I and my partner were tasked with wiring the office's network. It was coaxial, hand pulled, with BNC connectors, and never forget the terminator. Anyway, we got the network running. Then things like printers and other computers were connected, and finally, we got a genuine CAT5 system and an honest to whatever, would-be BOFH (he had delusions of grandeur, we knew the wiring - rubs hands together). Anyway, between our real jobs, we also pulled "support" duty. In particular, we had an office manager - an extreme fundamentalist, who at one point did not report to work because she and her husband and fellow certifiables were on a hill top waiting for God - who never got the appointment note.

    She would settle into he desk, and start work. Sooner or later we would hear a shriek of rage and a yell for help. Her system (no one else's) had frozen, crashed, would not respond to commands ... One of us would walk in, ask her to move out of her chair, take her place, and her computer would behave sweetly. We would then ask, "what is the trouble?" She would explain that it would not print, would not ... Which we would then do and it would be fine. All we could tell her was "you can't get impatient with the electrons or they'll go one strike." The problems persisted through rewirings and different systems and new printers. The only diagnosis we could ever come up with is that electronics didn't like her.

    1. David Roberts Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Anthropomorphisation magic

      Usually far more simple.

      Impatient user keeps clicking and typing and hammering the <Return> key because the response isn't instant. Leave it alone for a minute and it returns to more or less normal.

      Regularly seen with W10 systems when they are grinding through an unexpected update.

      Best advice is to step away from the machine and go and make a nice relaxing cup of tea (or other beverage of choice). Amazing how often this solves the problem.

      Whilst we are on the subject of W10, users coming directly from XP have to be retrained not to shut the machine down immediately they are finished with it. W10 needs to be left on over night now and then to get its' little head all straightened out.

  30. Diogenes

    I have the kids at school convinced I am a wizard

    'Sir , its not working', walk over lay hands on the computer & lo it works.

    Also when they are coding. 'Sir I have checked and checked and I got little Johnny to check it as well !' , looks at code for 2 seconds ... "you have missed a semi trailer here, here and here, missing a bracket here, and somehow you you have munged 3 lines together , and since when is 'print' spelled 'pint ?' ;

    1. onefang Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: I have the kids at school convinced I am a wizard

      "since when is 'print' spelled 'pint ?' ;"

      On Friday afternoons, coz that's beer'o'clock.

  31. Stuart Castle

    Actually my own computer..

    I was a technician, who also did a little coding if we needed a particularly utility for some purpose. One day, I was working on one such utility, and had my c++ IDE open (Borland - None of this visual studio crap). The utility was compiling correctly, but some values were not getting passed internally, which was causing it to fail when run.

    After spending hours looking for the bug, and finding nothing, I leaned toward the computer. I asked it if it wanted to be thrown out the window (pointing to the window for dramatic effect). Oddly it worked after that.

    I had that computer for years (actually until I needed to replace it with an iMac), and every time it went wrong, I just whispered "You know where the window is, don't you?" and it would start working.

    1. Clarecats

      Re: Actually my own computer..

      "After spending hours looking for the bug, and finding nothing, I leaned toward the computer. I asked it if it wanted to be thrown out the window (pointing to the window for dramatic effect)."

      Amazing how often in this thread people resort to defenestration.

      1. onefang Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Actually my own computer..

        "Amazing how often in this thread people resort to defenestration."

        Windows has to be good for something.

  32. Sam Therapy
    WTF?

    Anyone remember when Amigas changed to socketed chips? The word from Commodore was, If your Amiga starts to misbehave, lift it off your desk to a height of 6 inches, then drop it. This will, in most cases, fix any problems by re-seating the chips".

    I am not joking, btw.

  33. DuchessofDukeStreet
    Coffee/keyboard

    Coffee

    I'm almost glad I left this for Monday morning - because I've never laughed so much at the comments section before.

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