back to article How I got horizontal with a gimp and untangled his cables

I spent this week on the floor. This may not sound so unusual given that most of us already conduct our daily lives at floor level – as opposed to gliding, Aereon-like, 12.7mm above it. But save your threats, Necromonger, I would tell you about my week's exploits for the asking. To start with, the signs suggested it was going …

  1. Alister Silver badge

    Writhing around on the carpet tiles under office desks is not one of the skills listed on my LinkedIn page

    But it so should be...

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      It's one of those unwritten skills that anyone who knows which end of a screwdriver is expected to have. Alongside photocopier unjamming, coffee machine repair and mending/configuring of any random small electronic gizmos that may be produced.

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Try running Cat5 down liftshafts. You may well think that this will solve a multitude of problems but let me assure you, it doesn't. All that happens is that you have alternate visions of Bruce Willis in Die Hard. combined with repeated thoughts of "oh fu*k, oh fu*k, oh fu*k"

  2. Nick Kew Silver badge


    "... putting his Lycra-moulded bollocks at direct eye level."

    Now there's an opportunity for you.

    Sorry. Mine's the grubby mac.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bollocks

      Richard Nixon: My God, cover yourself. I didn't live a thousand years and travel a quadrillion miles to look at another man's gizmo.

      Zapp Brannigan: "Sorry, Mr. President, I didn't realise. Kif; raise him up about nipple high."

      Futurama - War Is the H-Word

  3. Jemma Silver badge

    So many images..

    Not enough sphincters.

    But I can beat the lycra testicled comms engineer - try the lycra cycling short clad gender change surgeon who haunts the halls of the Portman in London - the poor patients get a face full of nadgers every time he pops over for a "nice chat, old boy"* - which isn't going to improve their moods either way if you think about it.. Eventually there's going to be a high pitched scream as some NHSSD deranged FTM tries an impromptu self service job using Herr Doctor for spares...

    *you can imagine how well *that* comment goes down in certain quarters...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So many images..

      Blimey. I thought (hoped) that he'd retired.

  4. TonyJ Silver badge

    I really shouldn't read something for the weekend and drink coffee. I should know better.

    This line though: "...Second, I found it both thrilling and disconcerting to spend a day mostly horizontal with a man dressed as a gimp."

    For some reason really did tickle me.

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge

      If you are tickling a gimp, you are doing it wrong

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Surely foreplay can take many forms?

  5. chivo243 Silver badge

    Sucked back in

    As soon as you think you're done crawling under desks, and popping you head through drop ceilings, BAM, you're back!

    When my current manager took over, he proposed no more blue jeans, denim in general. Cheekily, I asked who would pay for the dry cleaning on my meet and greet suits when I had to install stuff? I'm writing this in my best carpenter pants...

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Sucked back in

      That and claiming new pants, shirt, etc. on an expense voucher usually stops this nonsense.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Sucked back in

      Like my last-but-one contract.

      "We supply you with a $BIGCO company T-shirt to wear on site"

      "What? Just the one? That's gonna get stinky"

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Sucked back in

        See this is where the modern gimp engineer is in the know. You see modern exercise wear now comes in 'extra smooth fibre' mode, clothes made with fibres so nano level smooth that bacteria cannot cling to them. Since the smell from sweat comes from bacterial action on the sweat this lets you sweat, even repeatedly into it without it, or you smelling.

        I have a modicum amount of it, UA shirts as undershirts for normal daywear and HH long sleeved tops for cool and cold weather running. I reuse these where I would put out for the wash others after one use. They do eventually begin to whiff slightly but it can take a week of daywear or three runs.

        Wearing technical t-shirts as undershirts is fantastic, both cool in the summer and warm in the winter, so comfortable. I'm so taken with it I have technical polo shirts for wear in the warmer months. They are sold as tennis or golf shirts and they wick sweat and are slow to wet in the rain etc like running gear.

        Modern tech extends to clothing you know. If money were no object I would ditch my M&S briefs for the technical ones I have for wearing under leggings in the winter they are that comfortable. But at £10 a pair and I expect their wear resistance is not high makes them something I keep for running or other exercising in.

    3. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Sucked back in

      I used to make a point of having a dust mask, HazMat suit and bright orange gloves and boots in the car. If asked to explain myself the response would be "I have no idea of when your carpets were last cleaned properly, what the hygiene levels of your staff's under desk spaces are or if all your electrics and networking components are earthed to a satisfactory standard. Until then the HazMat suit stays on"

  6. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

    Stupid Sexy Wiring Engineer!

    ...his Lycra-moulded bollocks...

    I bet it felt like he was wearing nothing at all....

    ...nothing at all...

    ...nothing at all...

    1. Trollslayer Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Stupid Sexy Wiring Engineer!

      Upvote just for the user name!

    2. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Stupid Sexy Wiring Engineer!

      V. Droll.

      Have an e-beer.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stupid Sexy Wiring Engineer!

      Perhaps the ladies took advantage of the *view*?

      Oh they probably did, they just won't let any male in a 5 miles radius know they did. I know from reliable sources... very reliable sources on a similar situation.

      Thin walls between cafeterias and toilets... and muffled giggling carries really well.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stupid Sexy Wiring Engineer!

        I don't speak Spanish - I know my limitations and never try - and I was once sitting beside the pool in an hotel in Phoenix when the maids had their morning break. There were about half a dozen of them. One of them was shortly to be married. I managed to keep a completely blank face as they discussed the appurtenances of their gentlemen friends. She who was to be married got a bit carried away at one point and started to demonstrate with her hands that her fiancé excelled in both length and capacity..

  7. TrumpSlurp the Troll

    Pictures or it didn't.......

    Perhaps noting that proper lycra cycling shorts usually include enough padding to conceal or at least disguise gender. To certain levels of endowment, anyway.

    Evans can also be a tad expensive. The cost conscious keep an eye on Aldi (or occasionally Lidl) for their cycling clothing.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Pictures or it didn't.......

      Not cycling shorts. Full length leggings. For winter.

      1. TrumpSlurp the Troll

        Re: Pictures or it didn't.......


        Mine also have the padding.

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Pictures or it didn't.......

          I just cycle in ordinary clothes, but I do find that doing so cold weather leads to disconcerting numbness in the, er, front padding.

    2. Joe W

      Re: Pictures or it didn't.......

      The padding in a Aldi bike shorts and longs is really too thick and uncomfy. You do not want to wear those on a bike, not for an extended period of time. (yes, I bike in lycra shorts, the triathlon variety, but before interacting with civilised company I change (or at least put cargo pants over the bike shorts)

      Sounds a bit like it was running gear, not cycling.

      1. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: Pictures or it didn't.......

        Running shorts are usually not that tight. Remarkably short sometimes, but not conforming. Even my UA ones have a fairly loose outer.

        Maybe the shorts in question were a bit more... specialist?

    3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Pictures or it didn't.......

      Gender is in the mind. Padded helmet?

  8. Dr_N Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Used toilet paper based economy ?

    Sounds like the new Tory Post-Brexit plan.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Used toilet paper based economy ?

      We have so much to look forward to.

  9. Terry 6 Silver badge

    This is another of those "not just IT" comments

    Many years ago, as a relatively highly paid, very highly trained, expert specialist literacy teacher employed by the then ILEA, I made my regular weekly visit to a primary school in Hackney to help them sort out some problem kids. It was open plan and in the centre were benches and sinks. And a stink. A terrible stink.

    As I entered the head teacher intercepted me. And asked if I could sort out the smell.

    I pointed out that this was not my job ( or my area of expertise) and that the school keeper should be doing that. And he said "Yes but the school keeper is too busy"..

    And no I fucking didn't - I wasn't his employee!

  10. CT

    Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

    I think I've still got my official cable-running kit of bent coat-hanger and curtain wire somewhere. Budget would never run to a trained ferret.

    1. Spamfast Bronze badge

      Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

      I think I've still got my official cable-running kit of bent coat-hanger and curtain wire somewhere. Budget would never run to a trained ferret.

      I bought a fish-tape as I have suspended ceilings in my flat and the internal walls are stud so it's easy to drill/saw through above the tile level. (It's a converted office that used to house a graphic design & print outfit so also has lots and lots of mains sockets at a sensible height above the floor i.e. 3ft. It was love at first site when the agent showed it to me. But I digress.) Makes life a lot easier.

      However I'd never take my own tools to work - just order one and charge it if you have the authority. Otherwise relax in the smug knowledge that you're getting paid [insert hopefully professional rate here] for unnecessarily time-consuming work that the graduate hires or trainees get paid [insert unfairly low rate here].

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

        A friend of mine has been known to run wires above drop ceilings using a remote controlled car with the wire tied to the back...

        1. Woza

          Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

          I have seen a vacuum cleaner being used to suck a line (for later cable pulling) through ducting. My flabber was truly gasted at the speed it achieved.

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

            I have seen a vacuum cleaner being used to suck a line

            Sounds like when we had fibre "pulled" into the comms room at a former place of employment back in the 1990s. What they actually pulled from the BT tower was an empty pipe. Next day, said pipe made lovely little puff-puff noises for a few hours, disturbing the dust that had settled, and soon enough a thin fibre optic came coiling out of the thing.

            At which point we rang the tower to "stop now please, before it coils all over the floor", though I suspect they would have made a distance measurement and stopped after a suitable margin for error anyway.



            1. Alistair Silver badge

              Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

              I've done the reverse.

              Pipe. Pingpong ball with fiber pushed through and knotted on the stubby end. push ping pong ball into pipe at source end. Connect vacuum cleaner to destination end. Engage. Took 18 minutes to pull the ball & fiber combo up 6 stories to destination. Was oddly satisfying.

              1. Luiz Abdala

                Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

                Ping pong balls. From salvaging sunken boats to wiring.

                (Google for Donald Duck rescuing a boat using ping pong balls...)

                Who could have thought?

        2. Phil Endecott Silver badge

          Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

          > remote controlled car

          I’m waiting for nanobots.

        3. Black Betty

          Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

          Bunch of old keys scrounged from a desk drawer wrapped in packing tape and a ball of twine.

      2. tfewster Silver badge

        Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

        Why, in the 25+ years in IT, have I never heard of a fish-tape (or thought to look for one) until now?

        Not that I often need such a thing now, but it can go in the computer toolbox I still keep.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

          Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

          I've run cables using a heavy duty tape measure - On one series of project deployments we frequently encountered cables routed through locked filing cabinets, I usually brought my tape measure into play to run the new cable.

          I must have made a "good" impression on the IBM project manager, on one deployment site I heard someone complain about encountering this situation, jumped in to assist & the PM responded "You didn't let the Brit have a look at it did you, he never give's up!" (He was right & I got it done within 5 minutes too).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

            A former colleague came back from Florida with a award certificate describing how he had gone above and beyond the demands of his (temporary) job with Martin Marietta.

            There had been a wiring error on the military prototype rig he was working on, and he had simply found a wirewrap tool and some wrap wire and fixed it instead of logging the error and waiting a week for a wireman to come and do it. None of the Americans on the project would lower themselves to doing a "technician job".

            Our boss's comment? "Now you know how they lost the Vietnam war."

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

              Now that MM is LMCO, they forbid people from doing that, on grounds that the fault would not be logged, documentation would not be corrected, and the right person would not have had the chance to give authorization to release a worker to tell the person who wanted to do it in the first place they had to do it themselves anyways.

          2. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

            Yep. Play with a spring-return tape measure and that possibility is compelling. Done that myself.

        2. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: Why, ... have I never heard of a fish-tape?

          Because you are too dazzled with the glitter of your job title to run a glance over the typical contents of any humble electrician's supplies website?

          Hell, *I've* got a fish tape somewhere and I've never run network cable in my life.

          But I *have* run Romex through a wall cavity.

          Bought both the Romex and the fish-tape at Home Despot.

          I thought perhaps they might not be called fish tapes in the UK, but a little research shows that apparently they are.

          1. Spamfast Bronze badge

            Re: Why, ... have I never heard of a fish-tape?

            Don't be too hard on tfewster, Stevie. :-)

            Moved to new premises as a BOFH and moved from Twinax/10-base-2 to Cat5 & Krone patch racks (I'm that old, yes!) and had to make a few changes to the contractor's work. In the pub one evening, asked an electrician mate of mine how they got the cables through such constricted orifices and was enlightened.

            But I've never heard of Romex until now.

            Go figure.

            Anyway, hope the new knowledge helps at some point, tfewster. It's good to share. :-D

          2. ortunk
            Paris Hilton

            Re: Why, ... have I never heard of a fish-tape?

            Because as every average it guy from early 90s in the third world knows that fish tape will break cheap cat5 cables while laying them.

            Hence we used discarded plastic cable tray caps most of the time.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Spamfast Bronze badge

              Re: Why, ... have I never heard of a fish-tape?

              Use cheap materials and expect poor results. ;-)

              Pulling a nylon line first and/or using rounded plastic caps helps for those really tricky runs.

              YMMV of course.

      3. DJV Silver badge

        Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

        I once used one of my cats to help run a new replacement light fitting cable under the floor of the upstairs bedroom in my bungalow conversion. A piece of string was tied to the cat's collar who was then encouraged by my partner to the other end of the 15 feet or so of narrow underfloor passage, which he did quite happily. Once the string had reached the far end it was a simple job to untie the cat and use the string to pull the actual cable through.

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

          Disbelieve. Any cat worth the name would get about halfway, get distracted by the string, play with it for a bit, realize it was tied to its collar and commence a high-speed random route through the floor void trying to escape - inducing panic in the owner lest the stupid animal snag the string and strangle itself.

          I once had a cat put its head through the handle of a very sturdy kraft paper bag, panic and take off trailing its own brown paper drogue chute of death. My wife creatively screamed (at me) while I desperately tried to stop the stupid animal from pulling its party-trick of jumping through a decorative wrought iron balustrade and breaking its stupid neck when the bag got snagged on the decorative ironwork.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

            inducing panic in the owner lest the stupid animal snag the string and strangle itself

            And this is (one) reason why none of my cats have collars - 3/3 of the previous generation of cats had problems with them:

            Male cat would get new collar. 10 minutes later would go out for 5 minutes and then come back in sans collar. Rinse/repeat x 3. At which point we gave up. Said cat wasn't a shining intellect by any means..

            His sister would get a collar, go out for 5 mins and then come back in with it partially off but holding her lower jaw fully open. We'd fix the collar, she'd do it again. Very bright cat - we reckon that she just did it to wind us up.. Gave up with her too.

            Other female cat would vary between digging large holes in her neck trying to get it off and getting stuck in the mesh fence beween us and next door. Given that the collar had the usual elastic expansion and we made sure that, at full expansion, it would come off that was a pretty good feat.

            So they went collarless. And then they introduced the cat ID RFID tags and problem was solved. All the current cats (and the dog) are cyber-pets (I use the term with deliberate irony).

        2. albegadeep

          Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

          "I once used one of my cats to help run... cable..."

          Named Five, by any chance?

          1. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire


            Have e-beer.

          2. David Given

            Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

            Wow, that brings back... old... memories...

    2. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

      From memories of Keith Waterhouse's column in The Mirror Magazine circa 1970:

      Handy Home Hints for The Handyman

      Q: What is the best adhesive for peeling bedroom wallpaper?

      A: A wardrobe.

      Q: How can I remove a teabag from my kitchen sink's wastepipe?

      A: With a bent wire coat-hanger.

      Q: I am embarrassed about letting people help me in my kitchen because I have a bent wire coat-hanger poking out of the sink wastepipe. How can I fix this?

      A: Call a plumber.

      Totally worth getting busted in Mr Cooper's music class, discovered because of bursting out loud laughing.

      1. DJV Silver badge


        OMG Stevie! I remember that exact column. It made me laugh so much I cut it out and kept it for years - not sure what happened to it in the end! Is it online anywhere?

        A few years back I did a similar thing regarding the wardrobe in that, just before selling my previous house, I ran out of paint for the wall, so plonked the wardrobe in front of the unpainted bit. As I had no use for the wardrobe in the new house, I asked the new owner if he wanted it. He said yes - I always wondered how long it took him to discover the lack of paint behind it.

    3. Tikimon Silver badge

      Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

      Also handy is an inexpensive pistol-sized crossbow with string tied to the bolt. It lets you thread through the maze of ducts and pipes where an RC car can't go, and where you'd never see your cat again. Use blunt-tip bolts in case you miss and hit something important. We used to throw a weighted line, but pitching through small openings from atop a ladder makes aiming tricky. And anyway, this is more fun!

    4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

      I think I've still got my official cable-running kit of bent coat-hanger and curtain

      When I first met my wife (circa 1987) she had a Ford Fiesta (Mk 2). She also had a small reel of stiff packing tape in her handbag for the (rare) occasion when she'd locked her keys in the car. Seems that, using said packing tape fed through the rubber door seals, the internal locking knob could be lifted with relative ease..

      That was when I knew we were compatible :-)

  11. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Office moves

    I used to work in an office that moved everyone around frequently. Nobody enjoyed it, until the time when The Most Annoying Person in the Office decided her new desk needed a thorough clean before she deigned to use it.

    She grabbed a nearby aerosol can, gave the desktop a good spray, and started rubbing it with a fluffy duster. At which point she discovered that the aerosol wasn't Mr Sheen, but SprayMount*. So her dirty desk now had a nice yellow fur coat.

    * a spray-on adhesive, used as an alternative to Cow Gum in the days when graphic design involved sticking pieces of paper together.

    1. Phil Endecott Silver badge

      Re: Office moves

      I once sprayed a PCB with spray glue, thinking it was freezer spray.

      I blamed it on Maplin using almost identical labels on all of their aerosols. Obviously not going to suffer that problem again.

  12. Caver_Dave


    I have a triathlon style lycra outfit that does not have the crotch padding beloved of cyclists. (I made my own padded pants to wear underneath to hide the squishy bits - I digress). I tried wearing that under my fibrepile caving under suit (onesies 1980's style) and all-in-one PCV oversuit for a caving trip.

    The lycra makes you feel so slim and athletic that you invariably tackle that "too small" hole and end up with grazed shoulders, (or squashed nads if you try feet first.) And is so comfortable, having no seams of note.

    So I can definitely see where your cable ninja was coming from [fnarr, fnarr] - but he should wear a ballet dancers cod piece!

    1. Spamfast Bronze badge

      Re: Lycra

      Thanks for sharing. I'll send you the therapist's invoice.

      On the other hand, maybe I'll forward it to Monsieur Dabbs. He must have known what he was inciting. ;-)

  13. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Office archeology

    I've found amazing stuff while under the flooring..

    ...scientific evidence linking dietary habits to developer weight

    ...personnel files chucked under the floor because the admin couldn't be arsed to file them

    ...awards, including monetary chits, included in said files

    ...entire wired and wireless network infrastructure , totally unknown to the IT/IA staff

    ....and a 3/4 used tube of personal lube. I did a bulletin board announcement asking for someone to claim that.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Office archeology

      ....and a 3/4 used tube of personal lube.

      Haven't you listed enough items already? You just had to slip that one in.

      1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

        Re: Office archeology

        I thought it was slick, Or I just wanted to get a rise out of someone. I work hard, after all.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Office archeology

      I was changing my curtains yesterday, so enthusiastically cleared out the cupboard to get to the spares - and found a cheque from Redwood Publishing from 1990 that I'd never deposited.

  14. Andytug

    You are spot on about the height adjustable desks....

    I always raise those when working under them - ever since having (luckily) done so once a colleague clambered under and plugged a power lead in, whereupon there was a flash/pop and the entire room tripped out, he jerked his head up *very* quickly and would have given it a good bash if the desk hadn't been raised...

    Strangely the power lead in question had only just been removed from the other side of the room where it had been working fine, suspect involvement of a loose staple or similar.

  15. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "I'd wear a boiler suit or ex-RAF surplus jumpsuit if I could"

    My favoured attire for any occasion; cool in summer and snug in winter, as hard-wearing as hell, and the perfect self-contained duvet when camping. Not to mention those 'fake pockets', intended to provide access to trouser pockets beneath, but ultra-convenient for a little 'gentleman's adjustment' when required.

    I find proper flight crew jumpsuits have the great advantage of being a better fit for short-legged short-arses like myself. The last thing one wants are thigh pockets slapping against one's shins. And one does need pockets. Lots of pockets. It really can be a one-man survival suit. Real men carry bacon butties in both pockets.

    To be honest, the thought of being able to wear a comfortable boiler suit, day in, day out, is what's not entirely ruled out North Korea and other regimented Asian countries from my list of places to retire to.

    1. juice Bronze badge

      Re: "I'd wear a boiler suit or ex-RAF surplus jumpsuit if I could"

      I recently bought some Stanley work trousers in the BnQ January sale - I pretty much only ever wear variants on this theme, as I'm a huge fan of having pockets large enough for your wallet, keys, ever-growing phone and the occasional hip-flask at overpriced gigs.

      I've had several odd variations over the year - Scruffs sell a model which has unzippable air-vents on the inner thighs. Which is somewhat self-defeating, as there's a "breathable" mesh lining inside these vents (presumably to stop me accidentally blinding someone by flashing my fishbelly-white thighs at them) which must measurably increase the thermal insulation properties of the trousers when the vents are zipped up...

      Anyone, I merrily clambered into these new Stanley trousers, transferred all the kit from the previous pair and wandered off into the great wide world.

      Only to discover that my keys now had an odd tendency to travel down my leg and bounce off my ankle.

      Further investigation revealed that under the "flapper" pockets and literally about a centimeter above the standard hip pocket is a slit hidden under a small flap. And as the trouser fabric loosened up, it became much easier to accidentally drop stuff into the slit, rather than the pocket, especially since you have to do a "slide up and drop down" maneouvre to access the hip pocket.

      I mean, I can see the appeal of having easy access to adjust/scratch your unmentionables, especially since the overhang from the flapper pockets helps to conceal the fact that you're having a rummage.

      But having almost dropped my keys down the liftshaft at work (you have to use a keyfob to get through the main door), I've decided to retire these trousers until/unless I find time to sew said zips up!

      1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        Re: "I'd wear a boiler suit or ex-RAF surplus jumpsuit if I could"

        my keys now had an odd tendency to travel down my leg and bounce off my ankle.

        Iron-on velcro is a great invention. Surely there's a roll in one of your pockets :)

        1. Stumpy

          Re: "I'd wear a boiler suit or ex-RAF surplus jumpsuit if I could"

          Be a bit painful though putting Velcro all the way down your leg, although I can see the practicality of it.

          1. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: "I'd wear a boiler suit or ex-RAF surplus jumpsuit if I could"


            Important safety and comfort tip. Have an e-beer.

          2. Zarno

            Re: "I'd wear a boiler suit or ex-RAF surplus jumpsuit if I could"

            If one has enough insulating fibers growing on their lower ambulatory extremities, one could just use the hook part of the velcro on the keys.

        2. juice Bronze badge

          Re: "I'd wear a boiler suit or ex-RAF surplus jumpsuit if I could"

          > Iron-on velcro is a great invention. Surely there's a roll in one of your pockets :)

          Sadly not! I may rectify this later.

          However, there are two concerns with this proposal.

          The first is that the overhang on the slit is pretty small - less than a centimeter - so I'm not sure there's space to install enough velcro to secure things.

          The second is that while there's usually a pair of boxers to act as a protective layer, I'm not convinced I'd want to have velcro that close to an area which is traditionally quite hairy - I'm not planning on going Brazilian anytime soon!

          Still, if you hear a loud scream (optionally followed by the jangle of some keys landing on the floor), you'll know that I did indeed attempt the experiment...

      2. WonkoTheSane Silver badge

        Re: "I'd wear a boiler suit or ex-RAF surplus jumpsuit if I could"

        A carabiner makes an excellent keyfob, and can easily be clipped to a belt loop.

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: "I'd wear a boiler suit or ex-RAF surplus jumpsuit if I could"

          So where does this idea fit in with wearing clothing that makes sliding around under desks easier? Said carabiner will snag on anything it can and eventually end up either preventing you from escaping something sudden and unpleasant and/or dangerous or ripping off your belt loop as you depart the theater of action at toot vitesse (optionally screaming and/or swearing).

          As you walk past people's cars your keys will also leave magnificent marks that I'm sure will make you the toast of the workplace.

        2. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: "I'd wear a boiler suit or ex-RAF surplus jumpsuit if I could"

          > A carabiner makes an excellent keyfob, and can easily be clipped to a belt loop.

          And has the advantage of keeping you out of jury duty, as it's apparently a huge security risk.

          When I asked what I should do with my keys, I was ordered by the security-droid to lock them in my vehicle.


          So I said "I'm riding a motorcycle, I don't have any doors to lock"

          Security-droid was stumped. And I was ordered out of the building. With police escort.

          When I called the court clerk next day, she was sufficiently annoyed at the shenanigans that she let me out of jury duty entirely.

    2. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge

      Re: "I'd wear a boiler suit or ex-RAF surplus jumpsuit if I could"

      I have a boiler suit that was too big for me when I "acquired" it, too long in the arms and legs and too baggy round the middle. It seems to have changed shape in the intervening years (too many of them to count), it is still too long in the arms and legs, but seems to be much tighter around the middle. So much so that yesterday, I bent down to pick up a dropped spanner, and there was a ripping sound as the Velcro parted company, followed by a strange cold draught across my stomach. Either the fabric has shrunk in one direction only, or I have expanded.

      1. juice Bronze badge

        Re: "I'd wear a boiler suit or ex-RAF surplus jumpsuit if I could"

        I picked up an "XL" one from Wickes a few months back - we were filming a music video and I was playing a generic Halloween/Friday 13th killer.

        Sadly, it turns out that XL was a complete lie[*], and the popper-fasteners had a distinct tendency to pop open when bending or moving [**]. Which isn't ideal when there's a video camera pointed at you ;)

        I ended up wearing a black t-shirt underneath, and cinching a belt around my waist to minimise the popper-unpopping.

        [*] While I'd be the first to admit that I could lose some padding, I wouldn't consider my 38" waist and 6'1 height to be that big a step up from the standard "L" size...

        [**] It was also highly constrictive; I'm definitely not a fan of any clothing where stretching or flexing your shoulders results in extra pressure on the crotch area! Though I'm sure some people enjoy such things ;)

  16. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    "I'm too old for this shit."

  17. hopkinse


    " I thought he was a police diver who'd taken a wrong turning while hunting for his misplaced flippers."

    No police diver would be looking for his flippers because they call them fins. Flippers are for amateurs that don't know any better :-P

    Strictly speaking, flippers are on water living mammals on the vestigial equivalent of their front legs

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: they call them fins

      I believe "people of Finnish descent" is more proper and acceptable in general conversation these days.

      1. VikiAi Silver badge

        Re: they call them fins

        People from Finland do make good cable-runners, though. They can get into all the tight spaces because they are quite Finnish!

  18. Mage Silver badge


    I've never seen a lycra coated wireman, though a dustproof lycra ski-mask sounds like a great idea for dusty floors, ceilings, desks etc. I think you need swimming goggles too to protect the eyes.

    Do suitable nasal filters exist?

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: Brilliant

      If you're trying to convince the boss that he really should be forking out for a professional to do all this, turning up in full Scuba kit - Tank, regulator, dry suit, face mask - should work a treat. It might also convince him to get the cleaners in more regularly as well, which is rarely a bad thing...

    2. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

      Re: Brilliant

      Nasal filter plugs are a thing, and come in several different sizes. I bought some as I suffer from hayfever but found them rather useless.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Brilliant

        Of course they are. Humans breathe quite a lot of gas and for a low flow obstruction filters need a large surface area. If it goes up your nose it probably doesn't work.

        (I'm the one with the twin filter respirator because I dislike getting dust up my nose.)

    3. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Brilliant

      I am a lineman for the county

      And I drive the main road

      Searching in my Lycra for another overload.




  19. Dan 55 Silver badge

    "Blue jeans, sweatshirt with a logo on it, plimsolls, that kind of thing."

    Nowt wrong with them, those are my best clothes.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: "Blue jeans, sweatshirt with a logo on it, plimsolls, that kind of thing."

      Nowt wrong with them, those are my best clothes

      Indeed. Though some of the logos arefor obscure outfits (Flower Kings/Transatlantic/Spocks's Beard/Pittsburg Steelers/SF49ers et. al.) rather than some trendy clothes-producer-of-the-moment-that-should-really-pay-me-to-wear-their-logo..

  20. Potemkine! Silver badge

    GIMP is hard to master

    Paint is enough for most of my usages.

    Dear Mr. Dabbs, have you any family connection with Mr. John Bercow? You seem to share the same pleasure to use elaborate ways to express yourself. On the one hand It doesn't help to understand your weekly columns for me poor foreigner (future alien after March, 29), on the other hand it learns me new words every week, so thanks for that! When I keep learning I know I'm still alive.

    1. hopkinse

      Re: GIMP is hard to master

      He is writing in what used to be known as normal english, before text speak took over. If you have dificulty following him, you should try legal contracts :-P

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: GIMP is hard to master

      OK I'm going to let you into a trade secret here: it's all in the adverbs. And I sympathise: Mme D also risks being rounded up into an internment camp on 1 April.

      1. Alistair Silver badge

        Re: GIMP is hard to master


        So, you're planning an adventure in the Ad Vert Eyesing world with all the Ad Verbiage?

        /ducks and runs for cover.

      2. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Auld Alliance

        If you decide to flee with your wife before they throw the dogs on you, be assured that someone with a Scottish descent will always be welcome with open arms this side of the Channel.

        1. Spamfast Bronze badge

          Re: Auld Alliance

          Fru Spamfast is under the same threat of resettlement but I'd be happy to move to Jutland as a dependent. (And can then nip to Flensburg for the cheap Aldi beer!) Would some Welsh ancestry help, d'you think?

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Auld Alliance

            Would some Welsh ancestry help, d'you think?

            Unlikely - in any context. Especially (at the moment) Rugby..

            (My mother was Welsh..)

    3. Trilkhai

      Re: GIMP is hard to master

      I was thrown by the use of "gimp" as well, as in American English it's normally used as a very derogatory synonym for "physically disabled person." Normally I can figure out any unfamiliar terms on El Reg through context, but this one stumped me enough that I had to look it up on Urban Dictionary.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: GIMP is hard to master

        I was thrown by the use of "gimp" as well, as in American English it's normally used as a very derogatory synonym for "physically disabled person."

        It has similar,if far less derogatory meaning in Real English too, e.g., "I can't tun because I have a gimpy leg", which could mean either an inherent or temporary disability.

  21. rmason Silver badge

    I've been moving floor boxes and floor tiles all day.

    We're finally getting new carpet so I can move the inexplicably positioned ones.

  22. AustinTX

    Excellent Story

    Great writing Alistair, I loved the in-jokes and pop references. This piece went perfectly with my morning coffee buzz. You may owe me a new keyboard, though!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    90% of 2 Customers

    I actually have some sympathy with this - there are a limited number of ways you can convert a ranking of 1 to 5 stars into a recommendation rating for an entire userbase, but the average star rating is one of them. I'm guessing those two folks rated 4/5 and 5/5 respectively.

    The website would've gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for a lack of pesky customers...

  24. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge

    Xenix with 48 serial ports*

    I once had to wire up a music business between Christmas and the New Year. It was two floors of an office block and the heating was in metal ducts under the windows. This is where we had planned to run the cables. You'd have thought that management would have got everybody to clear their desks but no!

    Long rectangular desks with the short end up against the ducts. As well as the usual clutter each desk had piles of EPs and LPs (that's vinyl to you youngsters!) on and under it. There's a limit to how many records that you can carry or stack because they slide off each other. The cleaners had obviously given up trying to clean around them a long time ago, dirt and fluff everywhere! Four of us spent two days just moving desks away from the walls :(

    I discovered that there was no easy way to get the cables from the top floor downwards. The chief accountant wanted the server in his office so I hired a diamond core bit and drilled a two inch hole in his floor!

    We did get the cabling installed and all the desks replaced before they came back to work and I got paid a good chunk of money.

    *This ran surprisingly well. IIRC there were 36 terminals, 4 printers and a modem connected to it. I can't quite remember the software, Sun systems maybe. Everyone had a word processor, spreadsheet etc.

  25. Stevie Silver badge


    In the place where I began my computing life the newly-hired network specialist used a cold chisel and lump hammer every time he had to run a cable because our ICL 1901T sat on a ceramic-tile over concrete floor with no provision for running interconnects or power lines.

    On the plus side, the floor was nice and slippy when walking in from the rain.

    When a new boss from corporate eventually turned up* with his high-falutin' ideas and his American mainframe bias he had a false floor installed in a trice.

    * - It had to happen one day. I mean, our little factory was run like Grace Brothers and I had - and I am not joking or exaggerating here - a pointy-haired boss that could have been the model in *every* way for the one in the Dilbert strip. We can laugh about it now - and often do when I exchange missives with the one person I am still in contact with from that place. But living the dream was a nightmare at times.

    1. hopkinse

      Re: Bah!

      hahahahahahahaha. I work with a guy who is the spitting image of Wally, even down to the smattering of hairs sticking up.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        I worked with a guy that had the dress sense (personal hygiene shortcomings don't come across on TV) & mental outlook of Mr Bean.

        He's why I hate the Mr Bean character so much.

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: personal hygiene shortcomings

          Gah. At that same place we had a bloke who had a body odour problem of a scale necessitating a window that was *not* painted, nailed or welded shut in any room in which meetings including him were held. Yes, even in winter.

          When the aforementioned network guy with the hammer and cold chisel called a meeting in the factory one time in late August, I discovered that George Smelly was going to be attending and that the room was a converted store-room sans windows or ventilation as we walked into the factory proper.

          I expressed my dismay rather sharply and mouth-breathed for about an hour of entirely too close seating, which made my contributions rather nasal - I explained this as hay fever. Mr Brickbolster turned to me as we walked back to the office and quietly said "I see what you mean". No more meetings were deemed necessary, so a partial win I suppose.

          George Smelly was, coincidentally, at the other end of the phone during that Bob Newheart-esque call I got every three weeks that I have mentioned before (possibly more than once; trawl through on-call or mi' comments to find) where the answer was always "switch your terminal on".

          1. Montreal Sean

            Re: personal hygiene shortcomings

            Personal odour overload!

            At the accounting firm I sysadminned at once upon a time, the human resources guy's breath smelled so strongly you could smell him coming from the other end of the building!

            I'm told it was probably a combination of too much coffee, too many cigarettes, and not enough brushing of teeth...

            It's amazing anyone ever accepted a job after interviewing with him.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bah!

        hahahahahahahaha. I work with a guy who is the spitting image of Wally, even down to the smattering of hairs sticking up.

        so do my colleagues.

        oh wait..

  26. Horizontal

    Electrical plumbers

    WTF is an electrical plumber?

    As an electrician myself, its a sin only punishable by a good rogering with a wire brush to mention plumber in the same sentence. In fact youll never see a plumber and an electrician in the same room, the hatred between the two trades is THAT bad.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Electrical plumbers

      As an electrician myself

      As an ex (domestic) electrician, I sympathise. I suspect the animosity is that each trade "dabbles" in the other, but often gets it wrong thus requiring the client to arrange a visit from the correct professional to sort things out; an expense not expected.

      And this despite the fact that certain types of plumbers are required to have basic electrical qualifications too. A typical example from my time would be the plumber who used standard PVC flexible cable under the boiler, draping the 70C-rated cable all over heating pipes running at 85C or so. Or another plumber who needed a socket nearer the (gas) cooker and ran the thing in whatever scraps he had to hand by whatever route was easiest, before tiling over the top in exactly the place you would expect the householder to drill to mount a utensil rack.


      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Electrical plumbers

        Once upon a time, many addresses ago, I had an electric shower installed. Would that be a plumber or an electrician?

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Electrical plumbers

          In the UK, either, particularly if it's a simple replacement unit.

          If it's a new shower then nine times out of ten a proper electrician is best as running a pipe from a convenient place simply involves a tee, a service valve and a few compression fittings whereas running a new circuit capable of perhaps as much as 10kW (if the shower is that powerful) is not a trivial task and in some properties may mean upgrading some seemingly unrelated bits.

          As I said though, a plumber who is doing this sort of thing should have an electrical qualification too, so should be capable.

          In many "new fit" cases I used to do myself out of work by advising that since the householder had a combi boiler with at least 22kW output they would get a far better shower by fitting a thermostatic mixer to hot & cold than they would by installing an 8.5kW electric unit, and probably for less money too.


          1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: Electrical plumbers

            Yeah. You're already paying for cheap gas to get loads of hot water, why do you want to pay more for expensive electricity to get more hot water?

  27. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

    Low-budget 1970s Doctor Who.

    At least 2 hours ago (Damn work) I was going to say the gimp suit in Doctor Who first hailed from the 60's scuba diving aliens The Voord (The Keys Of Marinus - 1964).

    Although the air of menace neatly built up by The Alta's gimp* suit clad guards in Blakes 7 Redemption was wonderfully destroyed at the end as they were teleported onto the Liberator, who promptly teleported them back as they went oh fuck, threw their grenades & let loose their inner gimp.

    *Genuinely gimp as the shows costume designer having been given a bigger budget, had found somewhere that did leather\PVC custom work for the BDSM community, losing the anaroks\robin hood in space look of the first season.

    Icon is self explanatory on the DW\B7 front.

  28. Unicornpiss Silver badge

    Let's not forget..

    ..poorly planned office furniture that completely blocks off network jacks and power outlets, and the contortion you must do to read the tiny number on the wall plate to troubleshoot that one jack that isn't working.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Let's not forget..

      poorly planned office furniture that completely blocks off network jacks and power outlets

      We have (on our office anyway) banks of 8 desks (4 to a side) coming out from the wall towards the centre of a (long, rectangular) room. Said banks of desks replaced 4 very much larger, quarter-moon desks placed back to back to create a 4-desk cluster.

      All the power and networking goes around the edges of the room and, it being a listed building, the floor cannot be cut into.

      The installers were *supposed* to take a spur from the wall to each desk individually and, indeed, did so for the networking.

      For the power however, they just plugged in lots of 4-gang sockets in the void under the top of my desk (and the desk opposite to me) and daisy-chained the other desks off those. Which caused all sorts of problems (fuses blowing in the baseband sockets, cables overheating under the desk etc etc). It took our facilities team about a year to fix all the banks of desks.

      Said installer was supposed to have all the various certifications in electrical safety but, surprise, surprise, turned out to be using someone elses certification details.

  29. JimC Silver badge

    There was one occasion

    When the genuinely easiest option was for me to crawl under the false floor to where it needed to go. Usually I'd just use a bit of string and my wallet as a throwing weight.

  30. Twanky

    Forward planning

    We moved into a newly refurbished office and I had to fight for the budget to flood cable the place to Cat 6 standard (actually to the then-anticipated Cat 6 standard) To avoid the need for future cabling changes I specified 4 ports per proposed desk space. I also insisted that the cabling guys should install draw strings in the floor voids so that we could install yet more cable if (when) we needed to. I overheard one of the cabling guys complaining about the draw strings and that they would do them out of future work...

    Needless to say after a few years we began packing desks together in tighter clusters and ran out of cables/ports in some areas. It was then that I discovered that the installers had cable-tied the draw strings to the floor supports.


    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Forward planning

      After one place I was in was cabled, I found the telephone fitters had "handily" pulled the draw strings through and not replaced them. It meant I had to rip a wall down to put the networking cable in.

  31. Tim99 Silver badge

    Electrician Cabling

    In the 1990s one of our customers moved to new larger premises as their business expanded. They had started with a single computer, and then a small 10BASE-2 network with the cable carefully snaked around their main office (tied to ceiling panels, run under carpet edges etc.). Our software ran on a small server in the corner. Fortunately we had persuaded them to install network cards with both 10BASE-2 and 10BASE-T connectors as we knew that they had bought land to build new premises. A couple of years later we were asked to help move the network to the new building that they had built themselves (they were in the building trade).

    They had build a small comms room under the stairs with a couple of 19" rack slots and square section metal drainpipe conduits down the wall for the cabling. We bought them a 16 port switch to temporarily connect two computers in the reception areas, and a new server placed under the receptionists desk. We moved the software to the new server - It worked. The owner said that the "proper" cabling was being installed over the weekend next week (Yes, AFTER the building was built), and asked us to move the server and switch to the comms room on the Friday after they closed.

    On Monday they phoned us and said that nothing was working and we needed to be there. When we got there they said that it must have been us moving the server that broke everything as no-one could log-on. After faffing about for a while we realised that it must be the cabling. I disconnected all of the wiring to the switch except for the server and connected the nearest reception computer with a 10m cable - The receptionist could log in. After experimenting we found that a couple of users in nearby rooms could also log in, but when we connected up the others everything stopped working. We got blamed for recommending the fancy new networking when the old coax stuff "had worked fine". I made up a ~30m cable and ran it from the switch, up the stairwell, to the bosses office in the upstairs corner of the building - He could log on, when we connected "their" cabling he couldn't.

    I asked who had done the cabling - It was his brother in law, who "knows what he is doing, he's an electrician". Oh dear, the conduiting went past the wiring and motor for the lift and the main air-con unit. We pulled one cabled and saw that the sheathing was damaged where he had pulled it through the metal conduit. The business owner got a mate's brother, who's business was actually cabling, to rewire it properly. They earthed the metal conduit and ran lengths of ABS piping down it from the top and put labelled patch panels in at the top and bottom. I suspect that the brother in law didn't get paid.

  32. Mips


    I am sooo glad you got that off your chest.

  33. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    "Floor level in an office is a strange, dark realm"

    And full of traps - especially ladies wearing skirts shorter than is wise who haven't been warned that a stranger^W techie is going be squirming around under the desks..



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