back to article When you play the game of Big Spendy Thrones, nobody wins – your crap chair just goes missing

Like the unwanted early morning return of last night's spiced food, Monday is here once again. Take your mind off it with an unsolved mystery courtesy of The Register's weekly Who, Me? column. Today's tale comes from a Reg reader who, to protect the self-proclaimed innocent, we'll call Will. Will's story begins in the early ' …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "disk drives the size of top-loading washing machines"

    I worked with those once, way back at the beginning of my career. I was an operator on a Bull DPS-7. I can tell you one thing : when the heads on those babies crash, you do not need the console to tell you.

    1. Tromos

      Re: "disk drives the size of top-loading washing machines"

      The ones I worked with in the 70s were more like a chest of drawers (imagine 2 deep drawers) that held a pair of disk packs. A junior operator was tasked with changing the upper pack and quite correctly checked that the spin light was off before yanking the drawer open. A quick-thinking shift leader supervising the operation quickly yanked him away, probably saving serious injury at minimum as a couple of kilograms of furiously spinning pack popped upwards out of the drive drawer. A couple of days later company engineers fitted a field change order altering the spin light to a safe-to-open light so that a dead bulb wouldn't result in possible fatalities!

      The errant pack fell back into the drawer, destroying itself and the drive mechanism and had a good go at inflicting hearing damage to those in the vicinity.

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: "disk drives the size of top-loading washing machines"

        Pah! you computer nerds. Try Biology and big VERY fast spinning centrifuges. The things so sensitive to imbalance you have to use a balance sensitive to less than 1/10g to ensure all your tubes were the same weight, within reasonable tolerances.

        I have also had to clean a centrifuge block after a glass tube decided to self destruct during the spin.

        Then there’s doing regular hot room cleaning duty. Hot as in radioactive. The hottest thing in the room was always the benchtop centrifuge. It had been hot for so long you could only get it down to reasonable values.

        The days of getting fresh, really hot, 32P or 35S in lead containers are almost gone. Killed by technology, dragging this back to relevance. CCD’s not just sensitive to but extra and quantitively sensitive to fluorescence first began to replace film for reading hot gels or filters. Then it replaced nukes for many applications.

        The days of putting on two pairs of gloves with a finger dosimeter in between are behind us.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: "disk drives the size of top-loading washing machines"

          My dads lab had a thing for slicing up microscope samples that consisted of a very very very circular piece of tin foil spun at immense speed. It worked in a near vacuum but I found by arranging various bits of glass rods and tape I could defeat all the various fail safes and start it spinning with the door open. It went from whining to screaming to a very very loud crack that was an incredibly short but really painfully scary click as the foil basically vaporised itself coating the inside of the machine and my face in partly oxidised dust that would have given the game away even if the noise of it self destructing hadn't cause my face to adopt a look of 'OH FUCKING SHIT' that I couldn't shift for several hours.

          I cant remember what my punishment was and as my Dad was old school violent and I can remember the effect that noise had on me it must have been extremely sharp.

        2. swm Bronze badge

          Re: "disk drives the size of top-loading washing machines"

          I heard from a co-worker that some institution hired a workman to do maintenance in a high radiation room. He was instructed in all of the precautions. He was dressed up in a radiation suit etc. and started work. After two hours he took a break, opened up his face mask, and proceeded to smoke! I guess he figured he didn't have to follow precautions while he was on break.

      2. Dr. Ellen

        Re: "disk drives the size of top-loading washing machines"

        The one I sat near to was not only the size of a washing machine, it vibrated like the load was uneven.

    2. Keith Oborn

      Re: "disk drives the size of top-loading washing machines"

      At a certain well-known newspaper in the late 70s, two of us approached the machine room door and looked in. Two carpenters were inside. One had a length of 2x4 across one disk drive, and was sawing it in half. The other had a similar length propped against another drive and was banging old nails out of it.

      We looked at each other. Not a word was said, but we suddenly remembered an urgent appointment elsewhere.

      Both drives survived: All hail those CDC engineers!

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: "disk drives the size of top-loading washing machines"

        Judging from my experience at a well-known newspaper in the late 70s, it's just as well you crept away.

        If you'd suggested to the carpenters that what they were doing might cause expensive damage, then all hell would have broken loose, with industrial action from SODIT and a competing a walk-out from NOTSOBA and the NGA throwing a hissy fit, and no paper the following morning.

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: "disk drives the size of top-loading washing machines"

          No newspaper the next day seems to be on the cards anyway.

          I would suppose that the matter could have been raised tactfully and successfully with the chippies, but what do I know?

          Given the story we're replying to, offer the editor's personal big chair, instead.

      2. PM from Hell

        Re: "disk drives the size of top-loading washing machines"

        I was once asked to inspect a low level cabinet on an ICL S39 system for 'delivery damage' I was booked for the system build and operator training, I was there on the day of delivery and everything was shiny and new,on the Monday Morning there were deep scores across the top corner of the cabinet,inside the vents there were scraps of sawdust.

        It turned out there had been joiners in over the weekend completing the installation of some cupboard doors and the felt that a clean, brand new computer suite was an appropriate place for sawing the wood for the frames and a £250,000 cpu would make a good workbench. I had to put in the strangest call ever for a hardware engineer to clean and retest the CPU and recommended a deep clean of the floor void but the customer never did get the cabinet repaired.

    3. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: "disk drives the size of top-loading washing machines"

      Or a spindle bearing failure!

      I described that as sounding like a bloke wearing crampons and Freddie Kruger gloves sliding down the world's largest blackboard, as rendered by Motorhead's PA system.

      Worst racket I've ever heard. Significantly louder and much, much nastier than a Tornado jet on full reheat about 500' away.

      IBM 3370 FWIW.

    4. EatsRootsAndLeaves

      Re: "disk drives the size of top-loading washing machines"

      Pah. You don't know fun until you get told (the halcyon days of 1982) by the Ops guys that one of those washing machines has crashed. Ok, sigh. I enter the machine room and walk to the indicated disk drive. Yes, all indications it has joined the choir invisible.

      I popped open the lid. The disk manufacturers I don't recall (the mainframe clone was an SEL, Systems Electronics Laboratories steam-powered behemoth) but they had a fan when the lid was opened blew filtered air up and out to discourage dust from falling in while you switched disk packs in and out.

      In this case I was struck in the face and chest by tiny bits of paper and bits of now free-floating oxide disk coating.

      One of the morning operators had put in the "daytime" systems disk but there was a piece of paper stuck to the bottom of it. He'd not noticed, closed the lid, spun it up, disk heads emerged, and made contact with the paper. Not only was the paper shredded but the heads and paper hit the disk drives and freed oxide.

      Much fun was had when I had to rebuild the system disk from base tapes and install all updates (backups were, um, corrupted).

      Also fun when I had to call it in for service.

      "What? Did you say paper?" Even with his hand apparently over the mouthpiece the torrents of laughter as he relayed this to the rest of the office were clear.

    5. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: "disk drives the size of top-loading washing machines"

      I worked with those once, way back at the beginning of my career

      When Nearest and Dearest was young (a little while ago), her first job was in an accounting team of a double-glazing company. Because she Knew About Computers (she'd done a NCSA Computers course after leaving school) she got to be the operator of the mini-computer that they used to do their accounts. Jobs included running the daily backups and changing the 10MB removable platters that their data was backed up to.

      Now she's not the biggest person in the world (5 foot 2, and at that point, less than 8 stone) so it was somewhat of a struggle sometimes because those removable disk platters were not light and the 'computer room' (AKA - a small closet that was chosen because it had a window that could be opened for ventilation and cooling) was only just about big enough for the minicomputer, the cupboard for the removable platters and a person and the platter enclosure was somewhat sturdy.

  2. Ordinary Donkey

    I'm sure we will never know who it was that did it. There are no clues here.

    1. Mark #255

      I am Spartacus!

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        I am Slim Shady!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I'm Batman

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            And I’m your mother. Stop bragging and go finish your vegetables right now! Good boys... lettuce too, Slim!

            1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

              I'm Brian, and so's my wife.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                I'm your father.

                And I'm very disappointed in you.

      2. imanidiot Silver badge

        I'm an Idiot!

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          username checks out.

          1. Psmo Bronze badge

            Circular argument, though, Shirley?

      3. I Am Spartacus

        You called?

        It still wasn't me.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'm that Baby's Daddy! -

      5. Apollo-Soyuz 1975

        I'm Idaho.

    2. WonkoTheSane Silver badge

      I'm Brian and so's my wife!

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        That's life...

        You're all very naughty boys...

    3. JimboSmith Silver badge

      A manager where I once worked found some left over budget one quarter. His personal PA had been on at him to get a new chair for her different from the standard ones the rest of the company used. So she picked one out of the catalogue and it arrived a day or so later. Two months of use and she complains that it hurts her back and wants rid of it. I asked if I could have it and was told help yourself which was great for me. It was fully adjustable and if you set it up right very comfortable indeed. I almost asked if I could take it with me as part of my severance package when made redundant.

      It had a very high back and it intimidated some of the people who had to ask me for things. They said I should have had a white Persian cat with a diamond collar and the name Bloefeld

  3. defiler Silver badge

    Disassembling chairs

    On a slightly rowdy office night out, one of our more 'robust' team members slumped down in a chair in the hotel we were at and the whole thing collapsed under him. (Chair, not hotel.)

    We rapidly placed all the pieces together to present a visually perfect chair again until one of the young reception ladies came through, saw the seat, and placed her (rather less substantial) weight on it, at which point it fell to pieces again. Cue feigned shock from all in attendance, and great embarrassment from the young lady. We helped her up, dusted her off and told her we'd take care of it, hiding bits of chair behind curtains and furniture.

    I bet she still thinks she broke that chair...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Disassembling chairs

      "I bet she still thinks she broke that chair..."

      And no doubt your colleague also still thinks he broke it...

      1. defiler Silver badge

        Re: Disassembling chairs

        A few of us had sat in that chair that night, and it was just fine until he flopped into it. I'm definitely pointing the finger in his direction...

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

          Re: Disassembling chairs

          The Mysteron plan to replace a chair, with one that would disrupt the world was a success!

    2. eionmac

      Re: Disassembling chairs

      We (at a firm I contracted to) moved to smaller offices, with about 40 seats, all with computers (management with laptops, others big floor desktops), All new office seats. Over about 3 months three failed while body was in chair. New replacements ordered, one failed. procurement had 'got a good deal'. Replacements were at full price, so it was not so cheap. I was one of those whose chair collapsed under one. (lift seat up/down mechanism failed by going rapidly to down position). Stats: 4 out of 44 chairs failed.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Disassembling chairs

        If the "good deal" was more than 10% off, then I guess it was a good deal after all...

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Disassembling chairs

      When I hit 24 stone I developed an arse sense that could tell me when a chair was going to admit defeat and I often left a structurally unsound but otherwise normal looking chair for some poor sod to crash through to the pub floor.

  4. revenant Silver badge

    A more satisfying outcome ...

    "The Throne ops manager was discovered, disassembled, tucked into a corner under the raised floor of the old computer room ..." ,


    1. Trollslayer Silver badge

      Re: A more satisfying outcome ...

      Are you the BOFH's understudy?

      1. revenant Silver badge

        Re: ... 'Are you the BOFH's understudy?'

        Nah, but I do find the BOFH's approach to problems to be curiously satisfying.

        1. Psmo Bronze badge

          Re: ... 'Are you the BOFH's understudy?'

          And certainly more permanent.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: ... 'Are you the BOFH's understudy?'

          BOFH's approach to problems to be curiously satisfying

          And, with appropriate suble advertising, leads to a delicious sense of terror in Management..

    2. Deimos

      Re: A more satisfying outcome ...

      Problem with disassembly of ops managers is all those tough sinews and tendons. It is far easier to mummify them in red tape then store them under the raised floor directly below some legacy kit running Win NT, nobody will notice the whiff.

      1. Psmo Bronze badge

        Re: A more satisfying outcome ...

        Not among that other crap...

      2. Blackjack

        Re: A more satisfying outcome ...

        Until the Year 2038 problem is about to happen and they discover the mummy while replacing old systems.

        1. Psmo Bronze badge

          Re: A more satisfying outcome ...

          Hey, I'd probably watch it when it turned up on Syfy.

  5. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    <Jim Carrey voice>

    that was me

    </Jim Carrey voice>

  6. Bogbody

    Washing Machine sized hard drives

    I knew my employer was doomed in 1980 or so when the CDC rep demo'd the first SCSI 90meg hard drive to us in a meeting.

    Cue a rapid downsize and the buiding of a small clean room to repair thev Hawk(?) hard drive.

    I had moved on by then :-)

  7. Lazlo Woodbine

    Chair related injuries

    I used to work in an office with a rather substantial chap sat in the desk in front off me.

    One afternoon, after a splendid lunch he leaned back in his chair, one of those standard office ones with 5 wheels in a star shape, I heard a crack, then I heard another crack as the chap's head bounced off my desk, dislodging my precariously placed monitor, which luckily for him, fell to his side rather than on his already damaged head.

    The rear leg of the star had completely snapped. As it was a relatively new chair, we reported it to the works team, a representative of the team came to the office, took one look at the chair, then at it's former occupant and shook her head - "you need an FB Chair," she said, "I'll get one ordered."

    Took a little while before we realised what an FB Chair was - a Fat Bastard Chair...

    1. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: Chair related injuries

      Dangerous things chairs. A work colleague broke her back when a five-wheel chair broke whilst she was sitting on it; she was sitting on the front edge when it collapsed, shooting backwards, dumping her on the floor. I’d guess she weighed about 60kg, so not normally a candidate for a FB Chair. She recovered and returned after nearly six months.

    2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Chair related injuries

      I once had a (very thin) colleague who often leant so far back in his chair that the spring-loaded backrest reached its limit and the front castors came off the floor. Sometimes he'd do something such as putting his hands behind his head which would upset the equilibrium so that the base would zoom forward as the chair fell over backwards. Fortunately he was agile enough escape with some kind of acrobatic flip.

      1. Nick Kew Silver badge

        Re: Chair related injuries

        You'd expect to be agile enough for that when in - roughly speaking - the first half of working life.

        Those five legs are apparently mandated by EU H&S rules. Four wheels with swivel leave lots of scope to capsize under very ordinary usage.

  8. Jedit

    "The Throne was discovered, disassembled, tucked into a corner under the raised floor"

    You don't fool me. It was a dragon what done it, I saw on TV.

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: "The Throne was discovered, disassembled, tucked into a corner under the raised floor"

      He said "disassembled", not "melted into liquid iron"

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: "The Throne was discovered, disassembled, tucked into a corner under the raised floor"

        “tomayto, tomahto”

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah, office chairs

    And the gas strut lift. Soooooo inviting to flick that little lever whilst occupant of said chair was engaged in a very earnest telephone conversation. Waves at Simon from Protech

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Ah, office chairs

      And the gas strut lift. Soooooo inviting to flick that little lever whilst occupant of said chair was engaged in a very earnest telephone conversation.

      I would sneak up on said victim, then with my shoe flick said lever from behind...

      For a while some Bastard would, after I've left for the day, sit in my chair and lower it, then leave it like that for me to discover....

    2. swampdog
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Ah, office chairs - with testicles!

      The ones with the rubber squeezy balls get me. Chap one place I worked had one but didn't assemble it correctly so the squeezy balls (connected to tubes) would dangle down. He had a habit of scooting around on said chair.

  10. Christoph Silver badge

    I wonder how many people thought of the space under the raised floor, checked it and saw the chair, but very unfortunately forgot to mention it to the manager?

    1. David Roberts Silver badge

      Obvious conclusion

      Having worked in Computer Centres I suspected, very early in the story, that a raised floor would feature somewhere.

      Like in the TV detective programmes where they scatter clues about and you feel good about solving the crime before the star charchter.

  11. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Our old boss

    had a proper wooden chair with wooden legs.

    About once a month one of the shifts would 'borrow' that chair and cut 1/2 inch off each leg before replacing the feet and returning chair to said office....

    1. gskr
      Thumb Up

      Re: Our old boss

      Clearly someone had been reading too much Roald Dahl

      1. Alan Stewart

        Re: Our old boss

        There is no such thing as 'too much' Roald Dahl!

  12. 2+2=5 Silver badge

    Early 1980s college dropout

    > After dropping out of college, Will had found his first "real" job as a computer operator on an IBM mainframe (a 3033 for those keeping track).

    Dropping out of college in the early 1980s is the equivalent of a 2:2 these days!

  13. steviebuk Silver badge

    From what I hear...

    ...a lot of places had managers like that back in the 70s and 80s when they could get away with jt. The amount of money our local council pissed away back then is shocking. A stairs full of flowers for the mayor making day and the newly elected councillors day.

  14. SonofRojBlake

    Not IT - food industry

    I used to work for a chocolate manufacturer. Yes, that one.

    One lovely summer's evening I was up on top of a silo trying to swap out some filter bags, using a nine-foot length of aluminium conduit I'd pilfered from a skip. On the very last filter element the bloody thing slipped from my hand and went straight through the bag and down into the silo. Sheepish me went down to the plant room and confessed what I'd done. I was distraught that the metal pole would cause havoc when the silo was discharged through a screw conveyor later in the week. I asked nicely to be told if there were any problems, and the chuckling crew sent me home.

    Time passed. No reports of problems. I asked if the metal pole had turned up. No, they said, it must still be in the silo. More time passed. No sign of it. I couldn't work out how, physically, it was staying inside the silo.

    Couple of years later, the entire plant was decommissioned, with me in charge of decommissioning. I went into that silo personally, in breathing apparatus, and swept the last bits of dust into the discharge port. No pole. I remained baffled for years. It couldn't have just evaporated, and yet it had never come out.

    Then I got a job somewhere else. On my very last day, one of the shift managers took me to one side and confessed - my metal pole had emerged from the silo just a couple of days after my ham-fisted drop. He and all the other operators on the plant had been sworn to secrecy, because I was so entertainingly stressed out about it. He said if I'd carried on working there, nobody would ever have told me, but since I was leaving, it was finally time to let on. I didn't know whether to be furious or touched. I went with the latter. Great place to work, but a 25% pay rise is a 25% pay rise.

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Not IT - food industry

      Yes, that one.

      Sorry, doesn't help. I can think of at least three large-scale candidates just in Blighty (Brisl, Brum and York), and Reg commentards are a multinational crowd.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not IT - food industry

        I don't think that they can make 'proper chocolate' outside of the UK.

        The Belgians is too chocolate and the American's just have brown sugar and no taste.

        I would love to go to the rest of the world, but then chocolate testing would not be my first thought.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Not IT - food industry

          I don't think that they can make 'proper chocolate' outside of the UK.

          If you consider that overpriced and overly diluted stuff 'proper chocolate', I can only pity you as pure chocolate there would barely qualify as milk chocolate over here (in the Netherlands).

          1. R3sistance

            Re: Not IT - food industry

            So you're saying the country that invented chocolate wouldn't know what pure chocolate is...? mmm.

            1. MiguelC Silver badge

              Re: the country that invented chocolate

              Do you mean Mexico? or maybe Spain, as they were the ones who originally brought it over to Europe?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not IT - food industry

            You can keep your chocolate. Your waffles though. That’s another matter.

        2. John Sager

          Re: Not IT - food industry

          There are good chocs in other places, but not the US. To me, Hershey bars taste revolting. Apparently it's got something to do with the way they process the milk. I have to say, that, for me, Cadbury's Dairy Milk seems to have an almost perfect combination of flavour & texture as I suck chunks of it. Bournville too. No doubt there are many chocolate purists who would disagree, however the very high cocoa ones are far too bitter for my taste.

          1. whitepines Silver badge

            Re: Not IT - food industry

            To me, Hershey bars taste revolting.

            Same here. They have more in common with rock candy than chocolate I reckon.

            Icon 'cause that's the other thing the Yanks add way too much sugar to!

          2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Not IT - food industry

            Real (pure) chocolate is made without milk and preferably without sugar as well. In drinks a little vanilla is traditional.

          3. tekHedd

            Re: Not IT - food industry

            "Hershey bars taste revolting...something to do with the way they process the milk"

            Something to do with the way they don't use any ingredients derived from the cacao plant, more likely.

            1. anothercynic Silver badge

              Re: Not IT - food industry

              Actually it *is* how they process the milk. Milk used to go off a little by the time it got to Hershey's, which is why it has an odd taste. People complained that the chocolate tasted different when the age of refrigeration and pasteurisation arrived, so Hershey's went back and let the milk age/processed it to sour it. Eurgh.

          4. Olivier2553 Silver badge

            Re: Not IT - food industry

            the very high cocoa ones are far too bitter for my taste

            It is just a matter of training your buds. Start with 50% and work up the ladder. 99% cocoa is rough the first time, but like coffee without sugar, it is an acquired taste.

            1. anothercynic Silver badge

              Re: Not IT - food industry

              One thing to add... 99% or 100% is to be consumed in small quantities. Let it melt on your tongue, enjoy the aromas and flavours. You don't chew it.

        3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Not IT - food industry

          too chocolate and the American's just have brown sugar and no taste

          Or, more accurately, the wrong taste. Why they insist on putting in one of the chemicals that gives vomit its unique 'taste' I don't know..

          1. SonofRojBlake

            Chocolate taste

            From a former professional: the "right" taste for chocolate is whatever it tasted like when you were growing up, wherever that was. In the UK, that means Dairy Milk or Galaxy. Those exact same bars will taste slightly different in Ireland, and completely different in Poland. For those people, they're "right". For a UK resident, not so much.

            Also, "chocolate" is one word used to describe what are really quite a few different kinds of product.

            If you're going to get purist about it, "proper" chocolate is a cocoa bean ground up and added to hot water to make a bitter, cocoa suspension. It's horrible, IMO, but that's what the Aztecs did with it.

            "Cocoa" as you know it has been alkalised (had the pH adjusted from about 5 to 7). It adjusted the colour and makes the flavour less bitter. If since 2003 you've eaten a product from the company I worked for, it was alkalised using a process I designed. The powder is mainly sold as a baking ingredient, although people do still make drinks with it I'm told.

            "Drinking chocolate" is just cocoa powder coated with sugar and maybe a little vanilla. Better for drinks.

            "Milk chocolate" is what it sounds like - cocoa products (solids and fats) mixed with sugar and milk and usually other fats to make the product most people think of when you say "chocolate".

            "Chocolate", proper, is dark, has no milk, and has varying levels of proportion of solids. Raw cocoa beans are about 45% cocoa solids (the rest fat, i.e. cocoa butter), so to make the high solids product you're actually removing cocoa butter from the mix. Some people go for 70% solids, even 85% or 90%. This is very, VERY bitter and dries your mouth out. It's an odd product for people with odd tastes, again IMO.

            Finally, there's "White Chocolate", which IMO is an abomination which doesn't deserve the name because it's literally just a bar of fat and sugar with no cocoa solids at all (usually cocoa fat, though). Ugh.

    2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: Not IT - food industry

      Maaaany years (decades) ago I was in business with someone who had worked in the computer room at a major UK manufacturers - the one with a whole town to their name. He told how he stockpiles the chocolate bars from his discounted (or was it free ?) allowance and went off on holiday around Europe with little cash but several large boxes of english chocolate bars in the boot.

      Did very well bartering chocolate for meals etc - oh yes, and the booze.

    3. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Not IT - food industry

      Cadbury's wouldn't know proper chocolate if it hit them in the face. If you want proper British chocolate, Hotel Chocolat is your best bet. Cadbury's is... well... *urgh*

      Yes, I'm a chocolate snob. Just like I'm a coffee snob, a champagne snob, a food snob... (downvote me already, go on)

      1. Criggie

        Re: Not IT - food industry

        Here in New Zealand, Cadbury's never recovered from the stupidity of switching the recipe to include palm oil. Customers voted with their feet and found superior chocolate in Whittakers and other brands. Cadbury backpedalled fast, but never escaped. Now they've shut the Dunedin factory and have to import their brown sticks from Australia.

        Globalisation be damned.

    4. ibmalone Silver badge

      Re: Not IT - food industry

      Yes, that one.


      (Just learned Mondelēz are still sticking that label on stuff. In Poland.)

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  16. kezersoze

    New chairs

    I had a very rotund colleague a few years ago. We received new office chairs with armrests. After sitting down on it for a short spell he stood up and the office chair came with him, courtesy of the arm rests being slight turned in and locking onto him. After considerable laughter from those of us nearby him he calmly disentangled himself from the chair and found the closest screw driver to remove the arms

  17. John 104

    Waxed Mustache

    Don't confuse the 80s with waxed mustaches. The only people who waxed their stash back in the day were weird dudes stuck in the 70s. It was generally laughed at by us teens (if not to be creeped out by if you were a girl i'm sure). Today's hipster 'stache wearers are closer to the mark. it doesn't make any less idiotic, though.

    1. Diogenes

      Re: Waxed Mustache

      As an Army Reservist I had a waxed mo in the 80s. I need to wax it to keep it. I was hoping for a nice martial 'Kaiser Bill', but could only manage a 'Hercule Poirot' (sigh!)

      Whilst on the subject of leaders having stuff disassembled on them, after I was commissioned, I was instructing on a recruit course, and as the Officers Mess was full, we commissioned instructors had one of the 2 small private rooms in the end of each open barracks building, my sergeant had the other . After a formal mess dinner(think lots of booze) my snoring was so bad, that one night, my beloved troops, ably led by the sergeant disassembled the bed with me in it, , and obviously carried me on the mattress, and reassembled it in the middle of the parade ground . Luckily I awoke before daylight and moved everything back.

      Full props to the guys, and great teamwork. BTW Mrs Diogenes can fully understand why they relocated me.

      1. Nick Kew Silver badge

        Re: Waxed Mustache

        I never realised waxed moustaches existed outside cartoons and caricatures. Unless you go back at least to the Edwardian era and Great War.

        But I guess that's cultural differences. Kind-of like if you described some of our leading present-day politicians (notably a prospective PM) I'd take them as characters from Wodehouse.

  18. David Roberts Silver badge


    In my limited experience, computing in the '70s was a fine example of equal opportunity employment, with programmers, systems analysts and Ops staff having a healthy gender mix.

    1. Jon Etkins

      Re: Manlock?

      True, 'twas indeed a gender-neutral environment, but 'twas also the days before political correctness started to influence the language - manlocks would remain manlocks for a few more years.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As an expendable college student, I worked a night shift as operator in a room with two banks of FASTRAND II drums. If unusual noises started (and they were loud to begin with) I was instructed to get out quickly and phone from outside the room. One night, there was an awful clatter and screeching from one of these multi ton monsters. I did as directed. Several people with much higher job titles than I were roused, and showed up with pale, concerned faces. Much palaver, and one person entered with the air of a WW I doughboy going over the top. As it befell, it was a bit of metal that had gotten sucked up into the cooling fan of one of these monster's cabinets, no data lost but many hours (may have been a day or more, memory is hazy) to let it spin down and, once sorted, spin back up.

  20. mt_head

    My life of crime

    At my first "real" job (half time BOFH, half time extremely junior COBOL codeslinger), my boss's boss had a coffee mug of which he was inordinately proud. It was the sort that change color when filled with hot liquid - which was the new hotness at the time - and it demonstrated the "stealth" capabilities of the B-2, which was also the new hotness at the time. He dearly loved that mug. Unfortunately, he demonstrated that love by carrying it around on his motivational tours of his domain, and occasionally forgetting it on the desk of the person being motivated.

    One day when he had left it on my desk and wandered away, I hid it under the glass-room floor. I started sending him ransom notes through the interoffice mail, along with shards of a plain-white mug I'd broken for the purpose. Eventually he paid my ransom (a six-pack of San Miguel) and I gave his mug back; I don't remember him ever leaving it on anybody else's desk again. How we laughed and laughed!

    I've often considered my luck that he was such a good sport about it all...

  21. Great Bu

    Peugeot 403 Convertible ?

    Was known as the cabriolet and went out of production in 1966.........maybe you are really hankering for the 205 GTi.

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