back to article Trainer regrets giving straight answer to staffer's odd question

Monday morning can mean only one thing. No, not a general sense of foreboding – it’s Who, Me?, El Reg’s way of easing you into the week ahead with tales of other people’s mistakes. This week, “Giovanni” writes in to tell us about the time his candour had his bosses fizzing with rage. “In the early ‘90s – the era where Dot …

  1. Korev Silver badge
    Gimp

    Phones too

    We had a rather senior guy who claimed his iPhone had been stolen mysteriously soon after Apple released a new model. The Service Desk asked him for the Police report number, at which point he said "He'd have a another look at home"; oddly enough it turned up that evening...

    1. Aqua Marina

      Re: Phones too

      We have a period of several years where all our sales dept kept breaking their phones, and getting new ones on the insurance we were paying a premium for. Eventually we said enough is enough and sent round an email saying we were cancelling the insurance, everyone was responsible for keeping their hardware in good working order, and that we would be deducting from their wages the cost to replace them. We also provided Otterbox cases throughout, so there was no likelyhood of accidental breakage by dropping.

      No-one believed it and many phones were removed from the cases because they didn't look good.... until the first breakage occurred, and sure enough he got a brand new latest model phone, and the cost deducted from his wage. Suddenly all the phones were back in their cases and we never had another breakage. Saved a fortune in yearly insurance.

      1. bigtimehustler

        Re: Phones too

        Never going to happen in the UK, employment tribunal would be the first stop. Deducting from wages for something you can't prove wasn't accidental would land the employee with a nice bonus compensation for loss of earnings.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Phones too

        "Eventually we said enough is enough and sent round an email saying we were cancelling the insurance, everyone was responsible for keeping their hardware in good working order, and that we would be deducting from their wages"

        Seriously, if I got this shit I would be saying have it back, I'm not taking that risk, if you're not prepared to insure it, I'm not prepared to use it.

        1. Havin_it
          Boffin

          Re: Phones too

          ProTip: It's actually quite easy to keep personal electronics in one piece if you can't afford to replace them.

          1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

            Re: Phones too

            Not here it doesn't. Accidental damage is a real problem for me although it might, just might, have everything to do with the sheer amount of technology around me. It's rather a lot!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Phones too

          "Never going to happen in the UK"

          It's very easy in the UK. The law says as long as the agreed employment contract says you can recover costs from the employee, then wages can be deducted at no more than 10% per wage period until the debt is paid

          .

          The second way is to deduct from a bonus. Bonuses are usually paid on profit, if the sales droid makes a mistake and that mistake has a cost, then that's less profit, and a smaller bonus or even no bonus.

          "Seriously, if I got this shit I would be saying have it back".

          As an employer I can say that you probably wouldn't have a job in the first place. What you're inferring in your sentence is that you prefer getting a free phone annually by lying to the company about breaking it, and doing so at the companies expense. We try not to employ openly dishonest people, and sack them if we find out we have.

          1. Just Enough

            Re: Phones too

            "What you're inferring in your sentence"

            * Implying

            And he's not implying that at all. He's saying he is not going to cover the risk of damage to company equipment. It's their phone, not his, so they're the ones who should insure it. If they're not prepared to insure their property, why should he cover it for them?

            So he's saying he would refuse to accept the phone and the liability for it.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Phones too

            "Seriously, if I got this shit I would be saying have it back".

            As an employer I can say that you probably wouldn't have a job in the first place. What you're inferring in your sentence is that you prefer getting a free phone annually by lying to the company about breaking it, and doing so at the companies expense. We try not to employ openly dishonest people, and sack them if we find out we have."

            No what you're doing is you're assuming I have criminal intent and are starting from a position of lack of trust, so I probably wouldn't want to work for you in the first place, you've probably got crap, legal minimum employment contracts anyway.

      3. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Phones too

        where all our sales dept kept breaking their phones, and getting new ones on the insurance

        Many years ago, I recall a visiting sales person telling me how his company had slashed the company car accident rate - they bought an old (IIRC) Skoda and the rule became :

        Anyone having an accident gets the Skoda for a month. Since their street cred was in jeopardy, no salesman wants to be seen in a Skoda, so they took a lot more care with their cars.

        1. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

          Re: Phones too

          Yep, I keep a couple of iPhone 5's around with the worlds crappiest batteries and loudly tell people that if they break their new iPhone they get the punishment phone for the remainder of their contract.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Phones too

            "Yep, I keep a couple of iPhone 5's around with the worlds crappiest batteries and loudly tell people that if they break their new iPhone they get the punishment phone for the remainder of their contract."

            Luckily, I never broken a mobile phone before. On communicating the fact my battery was finally near as dammit knackered, I asked the boss if I should be a new battery or would he just replace my ancient Samsung with a newer model. He strongly suggested I get a battery and put it on expenses as the new batch of phones being handed out to those who needed them were pretty shite and to look after my decently sized bit old phone for as long as possible :-)

        2. LewisRage

          Re: Phones too

          My dad had a very minor accident in his Porsche and it needed to spend a week at the garage. The replacement car they gave him was a lime green 1987 Austin Metro.

          He didn't crash the Porsche again.

          1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: Phones too

            The replacement car they gave him was a lime green 1987 Austin Metro.

            He didn't crash the Porsche again.

            I don't know, some of us Yanks are intrigued by quirky Brit cars like that. Some 30+ years ago I had a handful of Austin America's. None of them was on the road, so no problem with breakdowns either. Had to go for the closest-looking alternative, which was the Ford Festiva (don't know if they ever sold under that name in the UK, it was also the Mazda 121/Kia Pride).

            1. Stevie Silver badge

              Re: Austin America: 4 jelabarre59

              The Austin America appears to be a rebranded 1100! Learn summat every day.

              I have an 1100 story you might enjoy on my "celebration of incompetence" blog.

    2. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Korev

      I'll have to try that...Does it have to be a work phone?

    3. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: Phones too

      Some police Depts in the US won't take reports for stolen phones.

      1. LewisRage

        Re: Some police Depts in the US won't take reports for stolen phones

        Many years ago (in the UK) I lost my phone. I reported it to the insurance and they needed a police reference number.

        I went to the police station and reported my phone was missing. They got a clipboard out, wrote down a description and gave me a number. I go back to the insurers and got my new phone a week or so later.

        Skip forward ~18 months I lose my phone again. In anticipation of the question from the insurers I went to the police station and asked to report a missing phone. The copper behind the desk said I couldn't.

        "If there hasn't been a crime there isn't anything to report to us".

        Fair enough I say, but you did this not that long ago. He re-iterated the line about there not being a crime. I explained that without it I can't claim on my insurance. He reiterated the line about there not having been a crime.

        This repeats a couple more times before I give up, pause, look him in the eye and say...

        "I'd like to report a stolen phone please"

        If his eyes had rolled any harder I would have got the jackpot. He proceeds to take out a form and record the details that I was *clearly* making up on the spot about how it was on the table in the pub and how it was suddenly not there.

        He doesn't look too happy about it. I get a crime reference number.

        I report it to my insurers who go away to process it, 2 days later I'm in bed when my phone rings(!)*, I fish it out from down the side of the bed where it must have fallen when I drunkenly collapsed into bed on the night it went missing.

        It was the insurance company telling me that my claim had been approved and where did I want the new phone shipped too?

        I told them I'd found it thanks and they could cancel the claim.

        *This was a while ago when a phone would last 4+ days without a charge.

        1. Ryan 7
          FAIL

          @LewisRage

          You hadn't bothered to try calling it? I can't quite bring myself to believe you're not just telling porkies.

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Some police Depts in the US won't take reports for stolen phones

          Many years ago (in the UK) I lost my phone. I reported it to the insurance and they needed a police reference number.

          If you are insured for accidental loss, rather than theft, your insurer will not need a CRN. If you tell them it has been stolen, they will. If you are not covered for accidental loss, but lose your phone and claim theft, then this, my friend, is known as insurance fraud. If you make a false report of a crime to the police, you are probably on risky ground there as well, for wasting police time.

    4. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Phones too

      We had a rather senior guy who claimed his iPhone had been stolen mysteriously soon after Apple released a new model.

      As IT manager, and as the iPhone is for work, you can deploy a centralized corporate iCloud account on the device and use Find My iPhone. Then tell the luser that the phone is being actively tracked in case it was stolen.

      Icon: his rage xD

    5. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Geekpride

    New depths

    This story reveals a worryingly poor level of tech skills at company. Usually users can at least figure out how to break stuff on their own.

    1. cd

      Re: New depths

      They were salespeople.

      1. Fatman Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: New depths

        <quote>They were salespeople weasels.</quote>

        FTFY

        1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: New depths

          They were salespeople.salesdroids.

          Fixed ^ 2.

          1. bobajob12
            Trollface

            Re: New depths

            They were salesdroids^Wthe people who find the revenue to pay your wages.

            Fixed ^ 3.

            1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: New depths

              They were salesdroids^Wthe people who find the revenue to pay your wages.^C^C^D

              Can't top that!

              1. Stevie Silver badge

                Re: New depths

                Sales Revenue pays wages? I thought the real revenue came from the service contracts sold to new owners and renewed by nagware. Salesthings need not apply.

  3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

    Giovanni sounds complicit

    How could anyone not know that the question “What should I absolutely avoid doing to my 24-pin DMP so I don’t break it?” really means "How can I break it?"

    The answer should naturally have been "Absolutely don't stick your 'finger' in <there>"

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Giovanni sounds complicit

      We all started out bright eyed and utterly naive at some point. Plus, very naively some of use are just more trusting of others. Takes a while to get that spirit broken.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Giovanni sounds complicit

        I thought that kind of viewpoint was swiftly corrected by the midwife slapping you to get you crying (and breathing) shortly after you've left your mother...?

        Rather sets the trend for life for the average helldesk or trainer minion...

    2. DropBear Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Giovanni sounds complicit

      I'm pretty sure it's a "spectrum" thing, even on the mild end. I still do this kind of thing all the bloody time - faced with a question I automatically return the appropriate reply and only much, much later (if ever) realise that it probably was the completely inappropriate one considering all sorts of out-of-band signalling, social subtext and ulterior motive it never occurred to me to check for / notice at the time the question was asked. I got slightly better over time about catching some of it on the spot or shortly after, but I realise I'll never not be hopeless at it no matter what I do...

      1. Sixtysix
        FAIL

        Re: Giovanni sounds complicit

        Yep - I've been guilty of a retrospective gulp or two...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Giovanni sounds complicit

      The answer should naturally have been "Absolutely don't stick your 'finger' in <there>"

      If they were salesdroids, he perhaps should have suggested sticking something else in. Need to keep the gene pool clean and all...

  4. frank ly Silver badge

    re. 'candour '

    I see what you did there :)

    1. Havin_it

      Re: re. 'candour '

      I think we all did, Frank. They did kind of telegraph it with the whole italic thing.

  5. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Coke in a printer? Will that not leave a sticky mess and give some Clue?

    1. big_D Silver badge

      We had a secretary spill her hot chocolate over her Apple keyboard (original Mac Plus). The repair guy came out, cleaned it up and stuck it in the dishwasher. After it had dried out, it worked just fine.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        I wish I knew that 15 years ago

        One of my kids spilled something orange and very sticky over one of my two IBM Model M keyboards (Tizer or Irn Bru, they did not own up to it so I never knew for certain).

        At the time, I had not heard that Model Ms could survive a dishwasher, so I went through the entire process of stripping it down (boy, you need some deep sockets), and cutting off the melted plastic rivets that hold plastic case that contain the rockers, springs and membranes, and then suffered the problem of the conductive tracks peeling off when I opened the membrane up to wash it.

        I cleaned, attempted to repair the tracks with conductive paint, and reassembled the keyboard, adding small nuts and bolts to replace some of the plastic rivets, but unfortunately it never completely worked again, so the keycaps, space bar and cable were salvaged, and with deep reluctance, it was consigned to the recycling centre.

        About 6 months after I had failed to repair it, I heard about the dishwasher trick (and now I know that Unicomp sell replacement membranes as well), but it was too late. I was mortified. Needless to say, there is a no-sticky drink rule whenever the kids come anywhere close to my remaining Model M.

        But I know all about how a Model M is made

        1. Ikoth
          Coffee/keyboard

          Keyboard Cleaning

          Many years ago, I was the engineering buyer for a factory that produced various liquid and powdered products. Occasionally, we'd have visits from prospective customers, who came in for a tour of our state of the art, automated production facilities.

          Over time the some of the production areas could get quite dirty, so the customer visits were always proceeded by a big clean up around the factory. One such day, a recently employed production assistant was tasked with cleaning up the office areas, including the process control booths.

          Noticing the state of many of the keyboards attached to the various DEC VT100 terminals (I did say it was MANY years ago), she decided they'd all benefit from a good scrub and proceeded to do just that in the sink in the factory break room.

          A couple of frantic phone calls, and several called in favours later, we had a taxi full of replacement keyboards on the way from the local DEC distribution centre. I forget the final bill for the episode, but it was well into four figures, not counting lost production time.

          1. Mike Lewis

            Re: Keyboard Cleaning

            Back in the day when keyboards were too expensive to just throw away, one of my programmers was having problems with the keys. I told him to open it up and spray it. I meant with Freon; he used WD-40. He spent the rest of that morning cleaning it out.

        2. diver_dave

          Re: I wish I knew that 15 years ago

          Old BT M3710 turret.

          User (By phone on next desk): My turret isn't working

          Me: What's it doing?

          User: Display is black and it's not giving a dial tone when I select a line.

          Me: Has anything happened? Has cable been knocked out? (Long shot but not unknown)

          User: No nothing.

          Me: Ok let me test line. (I get nothing so turret is DOA)

          Me: On my way with a replacement. (Down 5 flights of stairs)

          On arriving, turret is definitely dead with black LCD screen. I pick it up to change it and....

          Get a sleeveful of cold coffee.

          User: Ah, would that stop it working.

          Of course 8AM on a Monday morning.

          Probably worth noting the user was one of my more challenging customers.

          DaveA

          1. diver_dave

            Should have added

            Same 'client who wanted us to re-cable every desk in the building because she

            shoved her bag under so far it kept pushing the phone cable out.

            I *really really* should have expected the worse.

            Did I mention *really*?

          2. ScissorHands

            Re: I wish I knew that 15 years ago

            Re: M3710 turret

            * Google "BT M3710 turret"

            Lots of mobile phones

            * Google "BT turret"

            Oh, trading systems!

            Find a result for "BT Meridian M2216/D turret"

            * Google "BT Meridian"

            Finally find a "BT Norstar Meridian Handset M*73*10N"

            Is this it?

            1. diver_dave

              Re: I wish I knew that 15 years ago

              That's the one.

              Not fueled by caffine!

          3. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: I wish I knew that 15 years ago

            Not only but also, when the coffee didn't kill the phone, the user deciding to wash it did.

      2. tony2heads

        Coca cola contains nasty amounts of phosphoric acid and the sugar glues the keyboard (drink unsweetened tea if you must do it next to a keyboard

      3. Martin an gof Silver badge

        We had a secretary spill her hot chocolate over her Apple keyboard

        Had someone spill hot chocolate over a 3.5" floppy disc and not own up until some weeks later when the data on that disc absolutely had to be read immediately and the chocolate had dried out and glued the whole lot together. Cracked the actual disc out of the plastic case, ran under a tepid tap for a bit, left to air-dry, fitted it into a new case (sacrificed the disc from that one) and I got almost everything off the thing - IIRC it was just one small file that failed.

        Still count it as one of the best recoveries ever, but all I got in return was something along the lines of "I suppose I'll have to re-type that [document/spreadsheet/whatever] will I?"

        M.

        1. Simon Harris Silver badge

          Still count it as one of the best recoveries ever, but all I got in return was something along the lines of "I suppose I'll have to re-type that [document/spreadsheet/whatever] will I?"

          She could at least have made you a hot chocolate.

        2. Alistair Silver badge
          Windows

          anyone recall laserdisks as permanent data backup?

          powder fire extinguishers?

          long hot humid days in storage?

          Migration to new permanent data backup media..... *sigh*

      4. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "We had a secretary spill her hot chocolate over her Apple keyboard "

        I had a journalist do something similar with a Reuters keyboard back when those terminals were hideously expensive. It was only after dunking it in a bucket of water that I discovered that under the keystems they had a block of literal foam (about 1/2" thick) with an aluminium foil disc stuck to the bottom. Reuters clearly know how hamhanded the users were.

        It was good as gold after it dried out (better, according to the users - probably because I scrubbed the PCB down with hot soapy water to get rid of years of nicotine buildup), but that foam took an age to dry out.

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          The good old capacitive keyboard. We rolled our own when I was part of the team that developed the D200 terminal for Data General. Exact same thing: Mylar foil on a bit of foam. They were cheap to make, damn near bulletproof, and felt terrible. But it was designed to be a low cost terminal...

      5. Andy Landy
        Pint

        has anyone else

        killed a keyboard with beer?

        three and counting, here...

        1. kain preacher Silver badge

          Re: has anyone else

          one with wine and one with a screw driver.

        2. HxBro
          Paris Hilton

          Re: has anyone else

          I tried to attack my macbook with a glass of red wine, didn't work through, the keyboard still works but the space bar sometimes has a few forgetfulmomentswhenyouare typing.

          Paris because I'm sure she's caused a few keyboard incidents...

        3. Bibbit

          Re: has anyone else

          My wife splilled a large glass of red wine over my nearly new Dell laptop. Goodnight Vienna. It was a bloody decent wine too which just added insult to injury.

          1. Nick Kew Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: has anyone else

            That's an expensive wife. Can you afford such indulgences?

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: has anyone else

              Nick, life's too short to drink cheap plonk.

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: has anyone else

            Spillage was expected in the tasting room, so there are no electronicals on the customer accessible portions of the bar ...

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: has anyone else

              When I was restoring the linotype, I managed to slam a coffee pot into the chain supporting the frame from the overhead lift. Coffee and broken glass all over the keyboard. I hosed it off with fresh water (Hudson garden sprayer), hit it with the shop vac, and then a couple heat lamps and a fan. I got lucky, no parts needed replacing.

              The machine got even with me. As I was loading the first slugs of type alloy (4%Sn, 12%Sb, 84%Pb) the bag (polypro mesh, like an onion bag) ripped and spilled onto my foot. Bad bruising, no broken bones, but I lost a toenail.

              1. Alistair Silver badge
                Windows

                Re: has anyone else

                @ Jake :

                I lost two toenails to an HP L6000 CPU heatsink in the early 00's. Mind you having it drop off the top node in the rack probably didn't help.

        4. Gonzo wizard

          Re: has anyone else

          Orange juice is guaranteed to ruin an Apple magic keyboard, as I found out to my cost. It didn't stop working - as such - just had a few keys that were hard to depress and took their time to return. Sufficiently harming my productivity that it was binned, but not before I'd tried several cycles of spraying Isopropyl Alcohol to shift the gunk.

          1. Hans 1 Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: has anyone else

            I was asked: "Can you clean keyboards, if so, how ?"

            I inquired: "What happened?"

            Reply: "Mmmh, kids, mmmmh, Nutella, mmmmh, mmmh, you get it ?"

            I got one of those key extractors ( |_| ) out of the drawer, removed all keys, then white spirit and an old toothbrush, scrub, scrub, scrub, with alcohol ... scrub, scrub, scrub. Next, rinced with demineralized water and left out to dry ... worked as new ... was a HP USB keyboard, it had more than Nutella in it .... several variants of crisps, biscuits, soda or orange gluey stuff, like dark Fanta, and hairs (rather long and blond) ....

            Icon: Paris, was that yours ?

          2. vcayenne
            Coffee/keyboard

            Re: has anyone else

            Pity you tossed it - DeOxIt Fader F5 would have handled that "hard to depress and took their time to return" problem. I'm typing on a MacBook Pro keyboard that took half of a can of Coca Cola some months back. Paper towels and rotation/shaking to get as much out as possible immediately, then the alcohol. A week later I was at your stage and remembered that (from a client's years before) that it never goes away. Did some research and found the magic product that audio folk swear by for restoring the operation of gunned-up equipment faders. As I said, typing on it now…

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > "Will that not leave a sticky mess and give some Clue?"

      This was in Silicon Valley so more of a white powdery residue.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still happens

    We do rolling replacements of laptops for all staff on a 2 year cycle - so its not like anyone has particularly old ones - and they are all the latest mid-range models from Dell. Whenever that means that we get a particularly noticeable refresh from Dell - much slimmer, faster etc - it is AMAZING how butter-fingered the sales people become, and how many times their laptops "slip out of their hands whilst running on a pavement".

    It hasn't stopped, but their face when we give them an old laptop of the same vintage as their broken one from the stack of returned ones is priceless - "You're due a new one in 14 months, this will tide you over".

    1. Mattjimf

      Re: Still happens

      We had a consultant who would consistantly damage his laptop every year, round about when the new laptops had been released. One excuse was dropping it from the top of the plane stairs.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Still happens

        We had a sales rep go out to Russia and he had a Canon BJ10 with him, along with a UK 220V and a US 110V power supply.

        The customer, being helpful, plugged the 110v supply into the printer, then into the wall, BAM!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still happens

      Not exactly a damaged one, but we had a particularly annoying user who noticed a few people in her department with shiny new lightweight laptops. As she only had a standard laptop, she immediately slapped in a request for a lightweight. However, we'd had an older one returned from a leaver, so she was dutifully given "last year's" lightweight model. She kicked up an almighty fuss about it until our IT manager (sick of the moaning) caved in and asked us to replace it with a new one.

      So as I was not particularly in a good mood, I told the user to raise a new request (doing it by-the-book). She did, and her own manager promptly rejected it and told her in no uncertain terms to stop frittering away his budget. Last we heard about it!

    3. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: Still happens

      "but their face when we give them an old laptop of the same vintage as their broken one from the stack of returned ones"

      I thought that was standard BOFH policy :)

      I've also been known to issue nearly indestructible older models to those with butterfingers, since they obviously need something tougher, as they are too accident prone.

      Also, talk to the managers. Assuming IT works on cost recovery, you can agree to a faster "refresh" for the fuckers who need a new shiny, as long as they cover their costs. If they trash their old box first, then obviously costs are higher.

      If sales wants new laptops, they can pay for them :D

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Still happens

        I worked at a place that would give you the oldest possible laptop if they thought you broke it on purpose. The joy of giving some an Pentium 4 with XP on it in 2008. My absolute fav was giving some a lap top with windows ME on it . I was joking that I wanted to give some a laptop with windows 3.11 on it. The guy said I was 5 years to late.

      2. TSM

        Re: Still happens

        [giving the user an old laptop of the same vintage as their broken one]

        > I thought that was standard BOFH policy :)

        No, standard BOFH policy is to give them one of the same vintage as their broken one, but with half the memory somehow missing. And probably a special keyboard driver that inserts extra characters about 5-10% of the time.

    4. Korev Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Still happens

      It hasn't stopped, but their face when we give them an old laptop of the same vintage as their broken one from the stack of returned ones is priceless - "You're due a new one in 14 months, this will tide you over".

      My Company phone's screen developed a fault; the Service Desk took great pleasure in pointing out that I'd only had it for 20ish months and that as it was less than two years old I'd get another identical model. The annoying thing was that I hadn't dropped it and it had genuinely developed a problem.

      Knowing my luck it'll die next week when the new Apple phones are announced and it'll look like an "accident"...

    5. cray74

      Re: Still happens

      it is AMAZING how butter-fingered the sales people become, and how many times their laptops "slip out of their hands whilst running on a pavement".

      Instead of breaking unwanted hardware, have you ever encountered bribery for new equipment and did it work?

      I've found that polling the IT department for favored cookies and sodas, and leaving unsecured packs of the preferred snacks at my desk helps the quality of hardware I receive during a refresh.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lightening strike ?

    I had my work laptop on at home, and a nearby lightening strike turned it into a brick. I was intrigued that the tech support team were quite familiar with this ....

    1. Solarflare
      Joke

      Re: Lightening strike ?

      A lightening strike? Is that where someone refuses to flip the lightswitch?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lightening strike ?

      The strike reduced the darkness?

      Hmm, suppose lightning does do that, momentarily

    3. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Lightening strike ?

      If you've ever lived in Africa you will know to unplug *everything* electronic you hold dear from mains power when you see a thunderstorm approaching. Trust me... a friend didn't, and the nearby lightning strike fried his brand-new Sony home cinema setup that he claimed would be ok. Nature vs delicate electronics on mains power? I'll take nature as the winner. Every. Time.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: Lightening strike ?

        Holiday time - I had a Thinkpad that died sometime in the morning after the storm was going away.

        Fortunately I had paper copies of Itinery & hotel bookings

      2. Raphael

        Re: Lightening strike ?

        When I lived in South Africa I went through 3 cordless phones in a month before giving up and buying the cheapest corded phone I could from the local Shoprite (which lasted for a loooong time).

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Lightening strike ?

      "a nearby lightening strike turned it into a brick. I was intrigued that the tech support team were quite familiar with this ...."

      I'm not overly surprised. Lightning strike surges have a tendency to come in via your (ungrounded, barely protected) phone line and wreak havoc whilst finding their way to a solid earth point.

      A lightning strike isn't "one" zap. Surge arresters tend to blow out on the first one, go open circuit and then fail to protect the equipment on the following 2-3 associated with each strike. (Decent phone line surge arresters go SHORT circuit and stay that way). Of course when you arrive at a telco hut and find smoking wire ends where your line cards used to be and a pile of charred material on the floor, then there's not a lot you can do.

      $HINT1: Unplug your phone line if you have any substantial length of phone line between you and the DSL/exchange point.

      $HINT2: Cloud to cloud strikes are generally worse for causing damage than cloud to ground strikes as they cause equal but opposite current flows in the earth.

      $HINT3: The strike that blows your line can be a few miles away.

      $HINT4: Nothing's going to protect you if you get a direct hit, or even a near miss.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Lightening strike ?

        Once upon a time our family had a brand new BT phone fitted, latest model, DTMF, 10 number memory, 3 ring tones, BT431A plug (replacing the old GPO Plan 4 four-ring jack we used to have) ... looked sleek and stylish and came in maroon. I think it was a Sceptre 100. Anyway, we used to unplug it (and the TV) as soon as we heard a storm coming up the valley - a fairly frequent event, two or three times a year on average. One day, God decided that they'd had enough of the Catholic church directly opposite our house and proceeded to try to melt its massive, 1960s copper roof. The Almighty failed to totally vaporise the building, blowing up only one grounding strap connector, but they managed to erase our phone's memory as well as fritzing the microwave's microprocessor.

      2. IanRS

        Re: Lightening strike ?

        A few years ago I had a problem with the house main fuse tripping several times a day. After a couple of electricians failed to find any fault the local electric board sent one of their more competent ones. He asked whether I used surge protectors for any equipment. I did, and he said to remove them. They can cause problems with tripping and are of little practical use: A distant lightning strike will be handled by the mains grid and a too close strike will blow straight through them anyway. Once I removed them the trip faults stopped, and if there is a close storm I just unplug the computers.

      3. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Lightening strike ?

        Phone lines are always grounded at the service entrance around here (central US) unless they were installed many decades ago and not touched since. Ditto for cable TV and natural gas lines.

        Of course, if your house is 40 or 50 years old and still has the original grounding rod there might not be much of it left, depending on the soil...

    5. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Lightening strike ?

      I was pretty impressed with our computer back in the day (a PIII IIRC), which twice took a lightning strike to the (PCI) modem, and survived both times. Of course, the modem was toast, but easy enough to replace.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Lightening strike ?

        My house was built with Cat3 in the walls, running to a switch in the basement (why, yes, I am a bit of a nerd). I rapidly discovered that surplus commercial switches last for more than one near miss, because they generally incorporate ESD protection on the incoming lines, whilst consumer grade switches do not, and therefore give up the ghost the first time lightning strikes in the same state.

        Electric garage door openers are also susceptible, due to the long wires to the button for manual opening and the safety sensors, which apparently run to unprotected inputs and act as excellent antennas for nearby lightning strikes.

  8. Wellyboot Silver badge
    Megaphone

    you call that Loud :)

    Yes the old DMP were noisy enough to wake children. But to wake the dead you need a CBM-1101 daisy wheel printer sitting on a rickety wooden table in student digs tapping out a nice long report, It would give 'Disaster Area' a good run for loud.

    1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

      Re: you call that Loud :)

      "Yes the old DMP were noisy enough to wake children."

      The noisiest one printer had at home was the daisywheel which came with the Amstrad 9512.

      I bought some continuous paper for it and set large print jobs off when I was taking the dog out for a walk or nipping to the shops, so that I didn't need to be in the house while it was going.

      With any luck the paper wouldn't jump the sprockets while I was out...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: you call that Loud :)

        "The noisiest one printer had at home was the daisywheel which came with the Amstrad 9512."

        I had a Seikosha GP80. The engine was also sold as a Tandy Lineprinter VII(?) and as a Commodore something or other. It had one, yes ONE hammer and a rotating platen with a 5 point star cross-section. Every. Single. Dot. was a separate impact. ie the hammer fired for each dot as the platen behind rotated to build up each vertical column before advancing to the next columns to build each character. "Fortunately", it was crap and each column/character only had 7 rather 8 or 9 vertical dots (so descenders meant a character was actually shifted up so the descender was at the same level as the bottom of non-descender chars.)

        It was cheap and crap, but when you are still at school and funding an 8-bit computer hobby from a part time job and only have 64 chars by 16 display lines on a portable telly, it was a god-send for debugging code :-)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: you call that Loud :)

          Yes, my first printer. Really felt I'd entered the techno verse for a few weeks

    2. anothercynic Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: you call that Loud :)

      When I was a student, I purchased an Epson LX400 DMP. With Windows 3.1 it was able to print in graphics mode, which obviously was more... erm... labour-intensive. People in my res *hated* me when I printed out assignments... Yet they would come knocking when they needed theirs printing because it was better than nothing.

      *SKRRRRRRRRRRRRRT* *SKRRRRRRRRRRRT* *KASKRRRRRRRRRRRRT* *KASKRRRRRRRRRRRRT* *SKRRRRRRRRRRRRRT* *the noise went on and on and on*

      The only way to deaden the sound was to hold my pillow over the clear acrylic that housed the head and hope and pray that there wouldn't be any complaints.

      1. Christoph Silver badge

        Re: you call that Loud :)

        For proper printer graphics you need a line printer, with different combinations of characters for different densities.

        For some reason a picture of Snoopy on his doghouse roof shouting "Curse you Red Baron" was the second most popular type of graphic.

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: you call that Loud :)

          Ha. Mainframe line printers have a self-test where you press the button, it thinks for a bit, the fires ALL the hammers.

          "Hey, Lyle, this printer's got a fault... take a look here..."

          Lyle sticks his head in the printer... KABANG!!

          Now snickering tech gets the everloving daylights punched out of him. You could lose hearing that way.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: you call that Loud :)

            You lot should hear my IBM 1403 at full chat ... It lives in it's own little lead-foam lined room, isolated from the floor with rubber feet. Still makes a racket. About 23 pages (~1400 lines) of 11X14 (132 columns) per minute. Can crank up to over 6 feet per second if the printout contains a lot of blank lines.

          2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Pirate

            Re: you call that Loud :)

            Not to mention teeth.

        2. Stuart21551

          Re: you call that Loud :)

          & the first? ;-)

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: you call that Loud :)

      "CBM-1101 daisy wheel printer sitting on a rickety wooden table"

      I'll see your long report and raise you a colleague printing a large, fairly detailed graphic image on a daisy-wheel using only the full stop and incremental horizontal and vertical movements. It was very pretty when done, but god-aweful noisy for a very long, long, loooooong time :-)

      1. Cris E

        Re: you call that Loud :)

        It's one thing if it's real work that makes all the racket, but quite another if it's just crap. In college my labmate had the group's daisy wheel printer in his windowless, concrete, basement office (down the hall from my slightly smaller windowless concrete basement office.) Any time he got cranky we'd just print off a couple decade's worth of calendars. Oh the sounds he'd make as he roared down the hall. Good times...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “This is just unreal,” he confided in Giovanni. “This is the second 24-pin DMP I've had to replace in as many weeks – and the reason for the breakdown was the same… Someone spilled Coca Cola all over it!”

    A can of 7-up would fix it! It's the uncola.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      So preventive maintenance..... pour the 7-up on before any colas get spilled on it.

  10. Giovani Tapini

    Not the same Giovani...

    But I do recall some DMP printers screamed like a banshee, and some just made a sort of tired moan. It doesn't say what sort of printer it was.

    In my view the 5mm paper square in the optical head positioning sensor was enough to deter the IT staffers though. They never had a clue what was broken and far less destructive than coke...

    Although the sales team I worked with seemed to have in infinite amount of powdered coffee to fill up the gaps between keyboard keys.

  11. Siberian Hamster

    Another good one is ( or so I've heard...) is to slip a Desktop's power supply voltage input selector slider between 110v and 240v. Said power supply makes a resounding 'Zap!/Fizzle' as it goes. Once you've heard it once you'll remember to check what the site voltage supply if you're expect to have a 'mobile desktop'.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Yup, that does it

      When I ran my own company, a family friend asked me to price up a repair for a Packard Bell desktop, and put it on headed notepaper.

      I found out (after I had written a no economical repair possible report - Packard Bell systems had proprietary power supplies and motherboards) that he used it in an insurance claim, and he admitted to switching the power supply to 110 volts to deliberately break it (after all this time, there's no comeback, as unfortunately he is no longer with us).

      The mobo and graphics card were fried, as well as the power supply, but the Pentium 120 that was on the mobo survived (this indicates how long ago it was), and went on to run fanless in my built-from-scrap-parts firewall system for several years.

    2. Andytug

      We had a batch of Fujitsu PCs a few years ago that did that by themselves

      Auto-sensing power supplies, every so often one would set itself to 110V, which meant a rude awakening for the poor person on the opposite desk as the fuse blew.......

    3. Wellyboot Silver badge
      Facepalm

      NOT auto voltage

      Several years ago the local maintenance crew had an old PC dismantled on the workbench for a PSU replacement due to it developing an interesting smell. Simple swapout, vacuum the box at the same time and jobs done. At the exact moment that power was applied for testing our elfin safety bod walks into the room to witness the impressive flash & pop.

      Turns out that the box of spare PSUs were all factory set to 110v - a new 'Check Voltage' sign soon appeared on the workbench.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: NOT auto voltage

        Not quite as impressive a failure, but we got a largish shipment of second hand Dells (60 of them) from an Amsterdam bank's back office to deploy in our Quark teaching labs. Set then all up, checked the voltage plates were all OK, Ghosted them an image we had built, which was a pain with NT, but doable. Half the machines wouldn't run Quark - license failure. Checked everything we could think of - swapped the dongles around to eliminate any that had been damaged in storage for the summer, none had been. Eventually, after many days of arseing around with networks and software builds and Ghost and dongles, we discovered that half the machines had the BIOS settings for the parallel port configured for dumb printers, the other half set for EC2. Much self-kicking went on, and the lesson was learnt that not everything that looks identical, or should be identical is.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: NOT auto voltage

          "we discovered that half the machines had the BIOS settings for the parallel port configured for dumb printers, the other half set for EC2."

          Maybe because it was obviously so long ago it's forgiveable, bit surely setting the BIOS to defaults (and then maybe setting specific required settings) should be a the first thing done when refurbishing/re-purposing a PC?

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: repurposing a PC

            Indeed, they had been supplied by the broker as "factory reset". Which didn't include cleaning the fans of dubious cigarette smoke. Yes, apparently Dutch banks allowed smoking in their back rooms in that era. Smoking of herbal cigarettes as well. Either that or it was a total lie that they were ex-bank and they were extracted from a cybercafe instead, in which case I wouldn't have touched them with a bargepole. Well, I didn't have a choice really - the central IT procurement bought the damn things, 1000s of them, and distributed them around the various campuses to the local techs.

    4. Paul Cooper

      Back in the days when 1 Gbyte was a LOT of storage, we took delivery of two SCSI 1 Gbyte disk units for our brand new workstations. Plugged them in, and turned on the power to be rewarded with pop, crackle and expensive blue smoke. Turned out they'd been shipped set to 110V, and hadn't got voltage sensing PSUs! Fortunately the supplier acknowledged the mistake...

    5. Olivier2553 Silver badge

      What a crazy country you live in where the power is not the same from one building to the other!

  12. Alpc

    Not so fond DMP memories...

    ...we had one of these noisy beasts in our open plan office. The sticky fizzy drink trick wouldn't have worked seeing as there was no real alternative. We eventually silenced the beast with a sound proof printer cabinet. Sanity returned, almost. Wading through 2 inch thick accordion printouts was never pleasant. Print quality was dire too. Happy daze!

  13. bluesxman

    Clumsy Executive Officer

    A former CEO at #{ex_employer.last} was actually that likely to (legitimately) break his Blackberry in some manner (down the toilet, usually) – and had such tendency to kick up an almighty shitstorm about how imperative it was that it be replaced immediately so he could send his 4am missives – that they had a policy of keeping a stock of them fully charged and preconfigured with his account on stand by.

    1. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: Clumsy Executive Officer

      I've always found my Blackberrys to be quite robust, that must have taken some effort.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Clumsy Executive Officer

      Yeah. "Let's keep a live, active record of every email, SMS and phone call- personal or private- the CEO sends or receives" is just there for disaster recovery.

      Absolutely.

      Though it does make a decent cover story...

  14. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Happy

    I find it heartening...

    ... that human ingenuity will always find a way to defeat bureaucracy.

    1. Olivier2553 Silver badge

      Re: I find it heartening...

      Finding a way to jump the queue and get something that you are not entitled for, and doing so, depriving a colleague from his due, is rather disgusting.

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: I find it heartening...

        "Finding a way to jump the queue..."

        That may well be, but I'd like to point out that human existence throughout our entire history as a race all the way up to the present has never stopped being entirely about "how can I take possession of $scarce_resource instead of that other guy". Wealth, power, the chance to reproduce - it applies to everything. Those sufficiently skilled get to make a choice about screwing over others and enjoying the spoils or voluntarily taking the high road and doing without. The rest of us don't have that problem, we just get screwed full stop. Not participating is not an option. And there's never enough for everyone.

  15. Sabot
    Unhappy

    Now I miss my Epson LX 800...

    1. John 110

      I've

      @Sabot

      I've got one you can have if we ever get our lab system to print wide carriage worksheets on a laser...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I've

        "I've got one you can have if we ever get our lab system to print wide carriage worksheets on a laser..."

        Set laser printer to default to landscape mode and a smaller default typeface if required? (assuming your printing plain ASCII and a modern laser can still do that. (failing that, stick CUPS or something in between source and dest. with an appropriate filter and aquire, if required, an A3 format laser printer)

  16. Flak

    Dilbert

    A classic:

    http://dilbert.com/strip/1999-09-03

  17. Mage Silver badge

    Noisy printers?

    The fastest IBM Golf-ball printers.

    The line printers with the letters on an embossed metal band and hammers at each character position.

    Some motorised rotary duplicators.

    1. The Real Tony Smith

      Re: Noisy printers?

      Ahhhhhh, the BBC Grandstand teleprinter

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yl6GK42UpCM

  18. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge
    Pint

    What an amazing coincidence

    A place I worked used smart cards for all user authentication. Raving lunat... er, esteemed leader we worked for said she would rain fire and brimstone on whatever poor bastard left his card in a keyboard unattended. True to her word, she would write up formal security violation, remove door accesses, makes you pay a few hundred $ for new card, the works... even if you were talking to another guy two cubes away and in plain sight of your home cube.

    Naturally her card was left in her [absolute top of the line] laptop constantly. Until some sneaky bastard used 5 min epoxy. Then it was in there semi-permanently.

    Her head just about exploded.

    Next some sneaky bastard - and if I ever find him drinks are totally on me - started being more subtle and just using clear nail polish on the smart card contacts. I think that was so we could enjoy watching her head explode every time an intern would come back from security empty handed and inform her Royal Highness actually did have to go in person to enroll her new card.

    Fortunately she got promoted out of our misery and is now a staff infection somewhere in Washington.

    Here is a pint for all sneaky bastards who make work fun!

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: What an amazing coincidence

      One for you too Sir for some top quality BOFHery-->

  19. Fred Dibnah

    New laptop wanted

    I was having my laptop repaired or upgraded (I forget which), and had a moan to the support guy about how flimsy the (Dell) laptop was. He suggested I could get a new one by switching it on, hard disc spinning, wrapping it in bubble wrap, and throwing it at a wall.

  20. Johnny Canuck

    Trouble shooting tip - ask if there are any empty drink cans by the keyboard, printer etc.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Trouble shooting tip - ask if there are any empty drink cans by the keyboard, printer etc."

      Every now and then, a desktop or laptop come our way from a user with fault described as "Won't switch on". They forget to mention they spilled a drink over it, cleaned the outside, before reporting it. They must think we are thick if we won't spot the obvious evidence when we open it up. Sometime they work for a while after drying out, but the corrosion all over the main board is a giveaway too.

  21. kain preacher Silver badge

    I would of told them not to pour human blood in it .

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As anyone who has ever worked on hardware will tell you....

      Blood is the worst thing to use on something you want to die

      A blood sacrifice on hardware normally ensures that the hardware will perform perfectly for many years to come

      1. TRT Silver badge

        A blood sacrifice on hardware...

        hence the lethally sharp edges of casings and heat sinks found in much IT.

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Pirate

          Re: A blood sacrifice on hardware...

          It also depends somewhat on exactly whose blood it actually is...

        2. andy_c1984

          Re: A blood sacrifice on hardware...

          My first self build resulted in a blood sacrifice to the PC Gods. Was trying to push out the case mobo plate so I could fit in the one that came with the mobo I'd bought. Took a lot of pressure to push out and then suddenly gave taking half the side of my thumb with it.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: taking half the side of my thumb with it...

            OUCH! That kind of puts one off completing a build, doesn't it?!

    2. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
      Devil

      "human blood"

      But some software demands the judicious application of goat's blood. Don't forget the pentagram and candles.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      I would of told them not to pour human blood in it .

      So management blood would work then? management /= human normally.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Headmaster

      "I would of..."

      It's spelled "would've", a contraction of "would have".

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. TRT Silver badge

          depends on who's blood...

          Well it's the IT department's techie's blood... so basically the blood of a virgin.

          *shields up!*

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iPhone 5C

    It was only last year that I submitted a request for my still-working-but-frustratingly-behind-the-times iPhone 5C to be replaced after three and a half years.

    "Is it broken?"

    "Would you like it to be broken?"

  23. Luiz Abdala

    A certain movie and an Artillery piece...

    I remember a certain movie, where a small village with "simple folk" was caught smack-dab in a strategic defensive position... it was either Italy or somewhere in the Pacific... but it was definitely WWII.

    So they parked an Artillery piece there... those truck-towed beauties with 88mm or 105mm or similar cannon size on them.

    So, to avoid injury due to improper handling by untrained personnel, the sergeant starts chanting:

    -"do not the load the upper feeder with ammo cartridges"

    -"do not retreat the (pin) to feed another cartridge"

    -"do not close the breech into lock position"

    -"do not use the levers to rotate the barrel"...

    ... you see where this is going. (I don't remember the words, but they were foolproof...)

    Eventually, they spot an Axis ship, and no soldiers in sight to operate the Artillery. They recite, word by word, those instructions, and manage to hit the ship... Lovely movie.

    Does anybody remember its name, by any chance?

    1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

      Re: A certain movie and an Artillery piece...

      "Does anybody remember its name, by any chance?"

      1941

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Laptops cheap, good, qualified, trained and competent workers not.

    After reading the joy some get from making workers pay for tools they need to do their job I feel lucky to have not worked for those companies. As a tech I usually had the tools needed and often that meant the latest in laptops and tech.

    Not always, this one time, at site....I did move to a different department where the workstation had an old computer. I put in a request and it was denied. A couple weeks later a boss was at my workstation and I asked him if I could show him something. Being a good boss he said sure so I opened one of the AutoCAD files we were working on.

    While it was opening I pointed out that I often choose this time to go get a cup of coffee but lets wait and see how long it takes. After several minutes the drawing was ready then I showed how it took several seconds to redraw every time it was moved. I told him I get paid by the hour and it is up to management to determine what is cost effective but slow computers were a major reason no one wanted to make the effort to address the 5yr backlog of revisions.

    Eventually I'm the boss and ask the IT department to supply modern laptops for each worker as they were sharing the few old ones available. IT tell me those workers do not need laptops to do their job. I replied that I'll leave the issue of who decides which tools are needed for which task alone and ask if I was being told that laptops would not be supplied. In email they said no laptops from IT.

    Our department had an annual misc tool budget of $50G, which would be moved into capital account when major purchases occurred. The previous year one piece of new test equipment was over $80G so no money left but no major purchases that year meant there was money left. New laptops all around as needed. At the meeting it was questioned, as it should be, and I pointed out that the per laptop cost was less than the amount we had just paid in overtime for each worker to respond to a single extended outage.

    IMO, when paying 6 figure wages, or any decent wage, it's best to not cheap out on tools. It isn't so much that quality modern tools improve productivity but the case that asking workers to use cheap old tools lowers moral and adds to higher employee turnover which has it's own expenses.

    The tools a company gives you to do your job can say a lot about what they think of you.

    BTW the IT department wanted the new laptops transferred to them but we were not using their software or directly connecting to their network so I said no thanks. Being able to install and manage software was just one of the requirements of those positions so no problem there. Some site laptops and computers needed to be air gaped for security and IT would install software and connect them to their network. When outages cost millions it's best to keep budget restricted IT contractors to office computers, maybe not even office computers because poor moral in the office will spread throughout the company.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Laptops cheap, good, qualified, trained and competent workers not.

      I'll come work for you, mate! And I'll take 20% off what I'm being paid now!

      Or at least I'll buy you a cold one if you're ever on this side of the pond.

    2. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Laptops cheap, good, qualified, trained and competent workers not.

      After reading the joy some get from making workers pay for tools they need to do their job I feel lucky to have not worked for those companies.

      ...

      The tools a company gives you to do your job can say a lot about what they think of you.

      I think that most of the points being made were more to do with not wanting to supply a shiny new hammer every time the carpenter notices a few scratches on the face following proper application to a nail. I am fortunate to have worked in several jobs where "tools" (of various descriptions) would be supplied if proper justification could be given, but I wouldn't abuse that trust by deliberately damaging one of those tools the minute a new model came out.

      M.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Laptops cheap, good, qualified, trained and competent workers not.

      "While it was opening I pointed out that I often choose this time to go get a cup of coffee but lets wait and see how long it takes. After several minutes the drawing was ready then I showed how it took several seconds to redraw every time it was moved. I told him I get paid by the hour and it is up to management to determine what is cost effective but slow computers were a major reason no one wanted to make the effort to address the 5yr backlog of revisions."

      Over my many years in field support, I've suggested many time to user that if they are hanging around wasting time waiting for the computer to finish what it's doing before they can move onto the next task, then that is the time to measure the wasted time and use it justify and upgrade. For most users, that's less of an issue nowadays than it was back in the days of DOS or early Windows devices.

      The best way was to open a big spreadsheet and make sure auto-recalc was turned on so they could demonstrate to their boss how long it took to enter each cell. Bosses rarely knew there was on option to turn off auto-recalc. (SuperCalc, early Excel etc :-)

      1. ArrZarr Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Laptops cheap, good, qualified, trained and competent workers not.

        Two years ago, I had to do a task in excel (was the only tool available to handle the job) where the calculation for the INDEX MATCH took an hour to complete. The file was so long it had to be split and still filled top to bottom of two tabs.

        The best thing about Excel in these situations is how wonderfully choosy it can be when deciding whether to continue calculating or to stop if you try to do something else on the computer.

        So I borrowed a book on software testing and got reading...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Laptops cheap, good, qualified, trained and competent workers not.

      Best FD I ever worked with went to a new company. Lots of designers there doing heavy graphics work. Noticed how slow the computers were and how disruptive it was in parts of the workflow. Went to the IT dept and said he thought they should upgrade most systems. Head of IT (who had probably been brow-beaten by previous management to not spend money) said they could just upgrade graphics cards, disk and memory and it would be just as good at lower cost. FD said, hmmm ok get your upgrades in and a brand new machine and run them side by side with the key applications and show me. It was clear from the test that the new machines were significantly quicker and would dramatically improve turn-round times for key jobs. IT head was pissed he'd been made to look like an idiot, but the designers loved the FD.

      There really are finance people around who understand this stuff. Shame they're so rare, but if you find one treasure them and help them.

  25. Mark 85 Silver badge

    it's best to not cheap out on tools.

    This should be a universal rule. I don't cheap out on personal tools at home so why should a business. In the long haul, cheap tools and their replacements aren't all that cheap in the long term.

    1. jake Silver badge

      My rule on tools:

      Purchase the correct tool once.

      I'd rather spend $100 on a good (if minimal) socket set, than $19.95 on a "197 piece chromed vanadium tool set with fitted case" ... You gets what you pays for.

      1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

        Re: My rule on tools:

        Oh heck yeah; +1 on that insight.

        Life is too short to waste getting a substandard tool to more or less work, and there is a real satisfaction involved in using decent tools.

        Besides, my dad always said, "Every job takes a minimum amount of money. You can try to cheat on cost but at the end of the day, why not just pay your dues up front and save some time and frustration?"

      2. PerlyKing
        Go

        Re: My rule on tools:

        This reminds me of a friend who had two rules:

        1. Always use the right tool for the job

        2. The bigger the better

        Which is how he ended up entering an enduro event on a BMW R100GS....

      3. JLV Silver badge

        Re: My rule on tools:

        "197 pieces" sounds like Home Depot's wares. Starts falling apart on the first bolt it sees.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "This should be a universal rule. I don't cheap out on personal tools at home so why should a business. In the long haul, cheap tools and their replacements aren't all that cheap in the long term."

      That depends on the tool and how often it will be used. I used a load of cheap B&Q own brand power tools when building a new kitchen (no, not a flatpack jobbie). The cheap tools did the job and those that survived (all of them!) were "profit" for any future jobs since the cost was waaaaay below paying someone to come do it or buy high end tools that might not much further use.

      1. Long John Brass Silver badge

        Cheap tools

        My policy is similar... Buy the cheapest that will actually do the job (Really cheap tools cause more problems than they solve). If you use it enough to kill it buy a "good" one.

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: Cheap tools

          To each his own I guess - I'd rather have one of each tool I need more than once regardless of its potentially questionable quality* than have maybe five-six of great quality and no tool whatsoever for the rest of the work, seeing as how it's definitely either one or the other**. Especially considering that even most cheap-and-cheerful tools only break in a statistical fashion - some might fail fairly soon but most keep working forever just fine; their low price means I can actually afford to replace something that breaks as long as it only happens every now and then, instead of having to mortgage the house I don't even have for an all-top-shelf*** set of tools, even if I'd only have to buy them once.

          * As always, exceptions exist - don't ever buy the cheapest set of metal or masonry drill bits unless you have exactly one hole**** to drill, for they will dull on the third. If you're drilling wood, just forget I said anything and feel free to go nuts.

          ** Funnily enough, desire to buy new tools regardless of price or quality seems severely affected negatively by an empty stomach. If you _can_ readily afford better tools it's a different story and you have a cost / benefit judgement to make.

          *** Please note that in the absence of hard evidence to the contrary it's almost certain said top-shelf tools get made in the exact same Chinese factory in the same production run as the cheap-and-cheerful ones sans the shiny brand sticker that gets slapped on them. Yes, there are exceptions. But you definitely don't simply "get what you pay for". Caveat emptor - very caveat indeed.

          **** On the other hand, if you have many hundreds of holes to drill you're clearly doing commercial / large scale stuff, where cheap-an-cheerful starts having notable drawbacks. There _is_ a useful niche for domestic DIY between the two.

  26. Tim99 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I once felt sorry for a trainer

    In the mid-late 1980s I was asked to get 450 scientists supplied and connected with PCs. Our (very large) corporate's standard was to connect everyone up using Novell Netware 2.15 servers. After fighting with the documentation for a few days I managed to get our lab up of 20 users up and working as a prototype for everyone else. I quickly realized that I did not have the time (or skills and personality) to train everybody, so I contacted our corporate training company and arranged several courses for different groups and levels of users to be run over a month or two.

    I cabled up the training area and the supplier sent a very pleasant bloke to do the training. The first basic course went very well, but I thought he was struggling a bit on the second (administrators) course. At the end of the first day he asked if he could borrow a set of the manuals - These were in multiple volumes and supplied in a large sturdy red box. I probably thought that he just did not want to cart them around and that he was doing a quick recap in his hotel room for the rest of that course. At the end of the course, he returned them and thanked me, telling me that he only had access to the course training notes and not the official manuals - When I asked him why, he said that the training company "didn't seem to have any" and their policy might be that "if he knew what he was teaching, he would probably leave and getter a better paid job".

    Obviously, the final part of the course was run by a less pleasant person, who told me that the pleasant bloke had left to be a supervising administrator for a company that was installing and standardizing on Netware...

  27. Nano nano

    BT sockets

    Back in the day of modems, BT would charge for "upgrading" a domestic phone installation to provide a socket suitable for a modem, but would repair a damaged phone connection free and update it with a suitable socket too.

    A knowledgeable (ex-GPO) colleague went round applying mains voltage to one of the components in a wired-in phone installations, to allow friends to be upgraded to a socket installation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BT sockets

      Did that myself ;-) Disconnected the phone from the screw terminals in the junction box and applied 240VAC to the ringer wires. Reconnected phone and went next door to use their phone to report failed phone. Nice GPO chappie turns up and replaces junction box with nice new socket and old phone with new one. Job Done (for nowt).

  28. ICPurvis47
    Unhappy

    DMP on loan

    Back in the mid eighties, when I first had a Spectrum, I 'borrowed' an old Star DMP from the development lab at work, as it was just sitting on a shelf gathering dust. It was rather noisy, but sounded quite pleasant, and I had it on unofficial loan for a long time. About eleven months down the line I was approached by the Lab Supervisor and quietly advised to return it as they were expecting to be audited quite soon. During the audit, it was declared to be surplus to requirements, and ceremoniously binned, despite the fact that it was in perfect working order. I had to buy a nasty thermal printer as that was all I could afford at that time.

  29. Joeyjoejojrshabado

    Pushing up the daisies

    My dad was using a daisy wheel printer with his Amstrad up to the mid 2000s (for some reason) for his patient files and did most of his work at home late at night. If I'd known about the coke trick then I might have saved myself some sleepless nights.

  30. ~chrisw

    Keyboards, phones and liquid ingress, oh my

    I've come across a few terrible BT slice-and-dice wiring jobs in my time, however sometimes they've required a little 'fettling' to be deemed consistently faulty enough to warrant the FOC Openreach visit. In one case, all it needed was to have been jelly crimped properly in the first place, but cheap crimps, water ingress, outdoor jumper box fallen into disrepair... Poor show all round really.

    I'm not perfect. I once spilled nearly a pint of orange juice into my fairly new MS Natural Keyboard Elite. This was the original model, made in Mexico, without the hotkeys (and shipped with a USB adapter for the brave early adopters amongst us).

    Surprisingly, after tipping out most of the juice, taking it apart, wiping down the boards and letting it all dry, the thing worked perfectly for another decade until the left Ctrl and Shift keys slowly started to fail. I still have it, but it was retired in favour of a Topre switched TKL. I can't quite bring myself to throw it away, it's a neatly engineered design and is still my favourite keyboard shape.

    Better yet, I was installing a toilet once and using an old work iPhone as a light source. Later that day after the grout had sealed, I managed to idiotically drop said phone-torch in to the toilet just after test flushes but before it 'entered service'. Top five of my all-time idiotic moments. Promptly retrieved, but still got a dunking, though fortunately not all the way to the bottom speaker and mic grilles. It also had a Mophie fitted which may have protected it a bit.

    The phone was powered off and buried for three days in a sealed container of rice and silica beads on the windowsill. And on next boot... perfect operation! So thank you tight manufacturing tolerances, because I cba with the hassle of sorting out a new work phone - it would have been an old stock model anyway.

    The phone is now nearing the end of its natural lifespan, and the Mophie has decided it can't recharge the phone (though passthrough still works), but that's the extent of it. The Mophie probably would have packed up anyway by now given the amount of impacts it's had.

    These stories have nothing on the workplace stuff though. Coffee spilled into a brand new mixing desk then left unreported for a week was an amusing anecdote told by a colleague (upon cracking it open, the affected cards were covered in various forms of life). Though some of the most painful (and expensive) stories are the ones involving genuine accidental damage.

    And finally, no harm done except bruised pride: I once gently explained to a journalist that the reason her iPhone interview recordings sounded so bad was because she was holding the phone with the main microphone pointing 180° from her subjects. The reason the on-screen interface was still upside down was because she had rotation lock engaged.

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