back to article One person's harmless japery can be another's night of LaserJet Lego

Welcome to Who, Me?, The Register's weekly column of confessions from the darker corners of our readers' memories. We'll call today's confessor of misdeeds "Al", whose story takes us back to the more hopeful days of the early 2000s – more hopeful compared to a world that has left satirists throwing up their hands in despair. …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know the series well...

    They were built like tanks, if you take a hammer to them once the plastic has broken, the hammer would break before the printer chassis.

    I just used to get a few of the ones I handled too read out good ol' Unix print error Ip0 'printer on fire'. Used to scare the warehouse guys every time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I know the series well...

      That may have been true for the smaller units, but the 8000 series could easily be damaged by a couple of delivery driver love taps.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: I know the series well...

        Is anything immune from a delivery driver?

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: I know the series well...

          Another delivery driver.

        2. ma1010 Silver badge

          Re: I know the series well...

          No, delivery drivers can ruin anything.

          I once got a nice wood-burning stove that had been damaged in shipment. The stove was made completely of heavy steel (with a box of firebrick to be added inside). Somehow they broke one of the legs completely off and BENT the corner of a 1/4 inch steel plate on the top of the stove; bent it to a 45 degree angle.

          The customer who had ordered it decided he didn't want damaged goods. I convinced the boss to let me have it, at a nice discount. I welded the leg back on, heated up the plate and bent it back straight, and it was as good as new. Used it for years to heat my house.

    2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: I know the series well...

      I remember Laserjet 4Si's being tough as anything, the Laserjet 5Si was a big beasty and had plastic that felt a tad flimsy in comparison (Lovely and reliable compared to the Lexmark C750 hiding in reception). Replaced the monos with 4250's.

      1. 0laf Silver badge

        Re: I know the series well...

        Me too. I wonder what killed them off. I can only guess that HP refused to make carts for them or stopped supporting the software. Not much else would stop them running.

        We had a bunch of Kyocera printers form the same era that survived terrible abuse in car dealers workshops.

        1. LeahroyNake Bronze badge

          Re: I know the series well...

          The 4L was a very nice machine but incredibly slow by today's standards / 4 pages per minute. That's around 1920 in a working day.

          You can buy a decent 45 page per minute nono printer now for around £500 that will do that in less than an hour. As an example Ricoh 4520 (with LCD touch screen, PS, PCL5c, PCL6, duplex, USB2 and ethernet) that I have a lot of in the field that have done over 300'000 prints each in 3 years (some of them in appalling conditions / convered in metal filings, dust, random chemicals and in one case an aircon failure soaked one and they all refuse to die much to the disappointment of my sales dept lol).

          Anyway, the point is I would love to see the max volume someone has got out of a HP laserjet 4L just for giggles and also to see if they really do 'make them like they used to' :)

          1. Jayce and the Wheeled Chairs

            Re: I know the series well...

            Where I used to work there used to be a LaserJet 4 that was up around 1.3 million pages printed

            LaserJet 4 Plus was around 900,000

            before they were replaced with 4250's

          2. Dog11

            Re: I know the series well...

            A lot of places didn't run that much paper through them. I've got a 4000 (still a nice printer, though the plastic is a tad flimsy) bought at a computer salvage store a few years ago for $50, it only had about 6000 pages on the counter (less than one month's rated output). Added a $10 eBay JetDirect card. It replaced a 4 (purchased at a thrift store for $25) that had developed feed problems (the rubber roller probably got hard from age).

        2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

          Re: I know the series well...

          For us Security patches and the fact our computer reseller had a good offer on the non duplexed 4250.

          Same with the 4250's, although we found at 1 million prints rubber rollers tended to start drifting causing jams. Replace and off it went (Never did have issues with the swing cog that apparently used to grind into dust by the fuser)

      2. Totally not a Cylon

        Re: I know the series well...

        Still got a 4M working here, even has a duplex unit attached. Which doubles the size.......

        Speaks Dutch, which considering I only speak English and sc-fi languages is amusing....

  2. big_D Silver badge

    Heavy...

    One of my early jobs was on a helpdesk and the client decided to throw out all of its old kit. It was to be collected in a spare office space at the end of one wing. I spent ages carrying old desktops and towers around the building to the space. Then I got onto the printers, a couple of old BJs and an IBM ProPrinter, no big deal...

    Then I found an ancient HP LaserJet. No, I didn't forget the model number, an original LaserJet - the same chasis as the original Canon laser printer and Apple LaserWriter, but without the PostScript module.

    It was all the way over the other side of the building, down the other wing. 100M along the wing, 200M across the building and 100M down the other wing to the open space, through 4 security doors with PIN entry pads. And no wagon to transport it with. I had to carry the damned thing the whole way! All ~50-60Kg of it! Its successor, the LaserJet II was about half as heavy (~35KG, ISTR) and the manual said it was to only be transported by 2 people.

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: Heavy...

      Oh god I feel your pain.

      I had to haul a LaserJet 2 up 3 flights of winding stairs in a warren of converted Georgian Townhouses by myself. That was bad enough!

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Heavy...

        I did help install an office in a 15th century half timbered jobie. Grade 1 listed so one had to dismantle the equipment to get it up the stairs and through doors I'd have trouble getting through these days.

        The printer was about to be returned to sender when someone spotted a hoist sticking out of the eaves on the 2nd floor, The printer was hoisted up to the window there and then returned to the ground where another couple of ropes were attached so it could be tipped on its side to get it through the window. Once we'd installed everything and got it working we wandered off for a pint and I realised that half the buildings on the old streets in the town I'd lived in for 8 years had hoists sticking out.

        So they knew their shit 600 years ago - I doubt a modern architect would like something useful upsetting their clean corrugated lines.

        And as a note on 2+2=5's comment. You dont use wheely chairs on 600 yr old oak floors. You either find yourself slowly sliding under or away from the desk or flipped on the back of your head when you hit the myriad of kerbs bumps and gaps or rucked carpets working in a place of great beauty offers,

        1. John Lilburne

          Re: Heavy...

          Gregory Bateson's story about the Oak Beams at New College hall:

          https://www.anecdote.com/2008/01/the-beams-new-college-oxford/

          1. John Mangan

            Re: Heavy...

            @John Lilburne

            I came across the story years ago. I just love that multi-generational forethought.

            Makes you wonder if there is a nomadic tribe wandering the desert protecting the Mummy's tomb?

            1. big_D Silver badge

              Re: Heavy...

              It shows how much the world has degraded since then. Back then, they were thinking generations in advance, now most organisations can't think beyond next quarters profit. :-(

              1. Olivier2553 Silver badge

                Re: Heavy...

                O think it was Colbert, then minister of the king Louis XIV, in France during the 17th century, who had oak forest planted to build navy ships. The trees would be ready somewhere during the 20th century.

                1. ROC

                  Re: Heavy...

                  Hope that was not a WW1 (Great War) battlefield...

              2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

                Re: Heavy...

                Is there anything at all in the world that you can't turn into an antisemitic conspiracy theory?

          2. sbt

            Re: Heavy...

            Heard the same story about Notre Dame after the recent fire. Probably won't use the trees, though.

          3. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

            Re: Heavy...

            What's missing from the story is, did the College Council tell the Forrester to plant acorns for the replacements?

          4. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

            Re: Heavy...

            Sadly, it's not only entirely apocryphal, but appears to have been made up by David Cameron for a speech he was giving.

        2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          Re: Heavy...

          @Tom 7: what's a jobie? Genuinely puzzled, as even Google seems stumped.

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: Heavy...

            Jobie (slang, English) = thing / type of thing

            1. xeroks

              Re: Heavy...

              ...which is not to be confused with the homophonic "jobby/jobbie (slang, Scottish English)"

              1. defiler Silver badge

                Re: Heavy...

                Homophobic? Nah - it's a literal swap-out for "shit".

                Jobbie (jobby) - n. A shit. A turd. A poo (if you're under 12). A crap. A dump. A bowel movement. A defacation.

                "Ahm goan fer a stoatin' huge jobbie, ya fud."

                And if it's homophobic to you, I'd genuinely be interested in what dialect you're using. The only time I've heard of it in connection with homosexuality would be "jobbie-jabber", which more-or-less explains itself...

                1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

                  Re: Heavy...

                  Read closer : HomoPHONic

                  aka 'sounds the same, different meaning'

                  1. defiler Silver badge

                    Re: Heavy...

                    Hahaha! Sorry everyone. *Totally* misread that!

                    That explains why I just couldn't figure it out.

                2. anothercynic Silver badge

                  Re: Heavy...

                  HomoPHONIC. Not HomoPHOBIC. Can't find proper commenters these days... *sigh*

            2. phuzz Silver badge

              Re: Heavy...

              Sometimes used to mean 'a turd'.

              1. big_D Silver badge

                Re: Heavy...

                Correct, I was giving the definition in context.

          2. ArrZarr Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Heavy...

            to my knowledge, describing something physical as a job/jobbie/jobie is basically like describing something as a thing, and you need to figure out what whoever is saying the word is talking about from context. In this case it's an old house. It might be a Yorkshireism but not sure on that.

            1. agurney

              Re: Heavy...

              The presenters of the Beechgrove Garden regularly spoke of doing a wee jobby in the greenhouse or potting shed.

              (Gardening TV programme broadcast from Aberdeen)

          3. Killfalcon Silver badge

            Re: Heavy...

            Widgit. Whatsit. You know, a Thing. Generally "jobbie" gets used to indicate a member of a broad category such as a "timbered jobbie" (a thing made of wood) or a "the truck was a big white Ford jobbie" (it was a white ford).

            Or it might mean a pile of poo, naturally, because it's colloquial English and if it ain't a dick it's probably got a scatological interpretation.

            1. Admiral Grace Hopper
              Headmaster

              Re: Heavy...

              " if it ain't a dick it's probably got a scatological interpretation"

              And if it's neither of those it's a front Doris.

            2. Mark 85 Silver badge

              Re: Heavy...

              Re: Heavy...

              Widgit. Whatsit. You know, a Thing. Generally "jobbie" gets used to indicate a member of a broad category such as a "timbered jobbie"

              Ah... a doohickey, a thingamabob, a watchmacallit then.

            3. ROC

              Re: Heavy...

              That first meaning is what I recall from my teenage years, 1960's, in a mid-size Indiana town in the US, mostly in reference to our cars, IIRC.

        3. NogginTheNog
          Thumb Up

          Re: Heavy...

          Phew! I was expecting this story to go: "The printer was hoisted up to the window, but halfway up the hoist broke off and we ended up in jail for damaging a listed building!"...

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Heavy...

      There was also an original Compaq Portable, which looked like a portable sewing machine in a travel case... Weighed about the same as a Singer cast iron sewing machine as well! (Around 13KG)

      And road warriors complain about laptops that weigh under 2Kg. They should be forced to carry a Compaq around for a couple of weeks! 2x 5.25" 360KB floppy, 9" display, 128KB RAM.

      1. dak

        Re: Heavy...

        I see your Compaq and raise you an Osborne 1 {still in the loft as I type).

      2. David Shaw

        Re: Heavy...

        TimBL did a lot of his early CERN computing on that Compaq luggable!

        before he got his neXt cube thingy, so it did some useful stuff.....

        1. Alan Sharkey

          Re: Heavy...

          I've still got a Compaq luggable in the loft.

          I used to live in a village where the train station was at the bottom of a hill. One day, it had snowed and the only road out was blocked. So, train it was. The luggable had a lovely nylon slip case to go over it. Which was great when I sat on it and sledged down to the train station. And, of course, at the other end, just pulled it behind me as though it was on wheels.

          Ah, the youth of today - they don't know what they were missing.

          Alan

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Heavy...

            Which was great when I sat on it and sledged down to the train station. And, of course, at the other end, just pulled it behind me as though it was on wheels.

            Ah, the youth of today - they don't know what they were missing.

            But then they do have Trunki?

          2. Dagg

            Re: Heavy...

            The luggable had a lovely nylon slip case to go over it

            Where I used to work they were throwing out the compaqs I grabbed a couple of these bags. They were extremely strong and nearly indestructible.

      3. ArrZarr Silver badge

        Re: Heavy...

        My first laptop was a desktop replacement running an early Core2 Duo. It's not as heavy as yours (still a distinctly resilient 7.5kg) but when it was running you certainly didn't need to have the heating on as well.

      4. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Heavy...

        >There was also an original Compaq Portable

        Yes, but they were a lot more portable (and cheaper) than the Intel MDS systems an employer was using at the time. We simply installed a third-party MDS emulator and ran the Intel MDS toolset (PL/M, MASM, etc., leaving the MDS's to run ICE).

    3. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: Heavy...

      No wheely chairs?

      1. I Am Spartacus

        Re: Heavy...

        Down the Strand, in London, between Shell Mex House and Villiers House? You can see the comments from people now. "What are you doing?", Oh, just wheeling my portable computer to the other office. "Portable????"

        1. macjules Silver badge

          Re: Heavy...

          Been there, done that - out of FCO up Whitehall and in to Cabinet Office .. the long way round:

          “What have you got there”

          “Your minister’s new laptop”

          “Why are you wheeling it on a trolley?”

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: Heavy...

            “Why are you wheeling it on a trolley?”

            "Because your minister has just slashed our budget and my job goes at the end of the month. Enjoy."

            1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

              Re: Heavy...

              Maybe because we intend to drop it on his lap - from a height.

      2. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Heavy...

        See comment about wheely chairs on warped floors.

  3. Admiral Grace Hopper

    Proper (heavy) engineering.

    Try as we might, even we couldn't kill our LaserJet II. It just sat there, churning out 300 dpi b&w A4 sheets with Stakhanovite endurance.

    Even when a particularly ham-fisted colleague tried to jam a Centronics cable in upside-down, it was the connector on the cable that got shredded in the face of the immovable object.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Proper (heavy) engineering.

      Dear Lord. They certainly don't make 'em like they used to.

  4. TonyJ Silver badge

    That bloody BSoD Screen Saver

    I remember being on site in a customers' server room.

    One of the other engineers walked in, saw the aforementioned screen saver and went "Oh bugger..." and before anyone could stop him, hit the power button.

    It was only the customer's Exchange 5.5 server and we all know how that coped so well with an ungraceful shutdown.

    Cue many minutes of worry as we watched it reboot to....work, thank god. Bullet, dodged. Thankfully it was also a weekend so no one noticed.

    I came to hate that screen saver.

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: That bloody BSoD Screen Saver

      Conversely the Netware Abend screensaver was usually met with a disbelieving "naaaaah..." and then a quick bat of a few keys, finished with a nod of satisfaction.

    2. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: That bloody BSoD Screen Saver

      Mark Russinovich would like that story. Although David Solomon and him did always say "Never use it on a server" for obvious reasons.

    3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: That bloody BSoD Screen Saver

      My god, that's a real thing? That breaks *THE* most fundamental tenet of user interface design, DO NOT LIE TO YOUR USERS!

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: That bloody BSoD Screen Saver

        Depends on the lie:

        Server detonator control ready. Delay set to 0 minutes. How many bombs would you like to detonate?

        [1] [2] [3] [4] [All]

        1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: That bloody BSoD Screen Saver

          [All]

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That bloody BSoD Screen Saver

        BOFH - "Always lie to your lusers"

        1. VikiAi Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: That bloody BSoD Screen Saver

          BOFH - never correct, and always take advantage of, your users' lies to themselves.

      3. Radio Wales
        Flame

        Re: That bloody BSoD Screen Saver

        That 'fundamental tenet' was broken years ago by M$ tech support honestly insisting that 'There is no error in the programming - it must be you' for the three-month period before a patch was silently released to everyone in the world - except you - which resulted in another three-week period before stumbling across it on some chat forum.

        That causes one to instinctively question everything and everyone IT related, until concrete verification is obtained and caused one to wholly reject automatic updates until the sheep have real-world tested it first.

    4. Dwarf Silver badge

      Re: That bloody BSoD Screen Saver

      I remember in the NT 3.51 days when they have 3D screen savers - in the days before 3D video offload existed and Compaq servers had very basic video cards. Servers were running at 100% CPU because one of the admins had logged in and locked the screen and nobody could work as it was scrolling some 3D stuff on the KVM port.

      One of my first jobs there was educating the admins about why that was a bad idea and updating the build process to overwrite all the screen savers with the blank screen one. Oddly the problem never came back.

      1. TonyJ Silver badge

        Re: That bloody BSoD Screen Saver

        "...I remember in the NT 3.51 days when they have 3D screen savers - in the days before 3D video offload existed and Compaq servers had very basic video cards. Servers were running at 100% CPU because one of the admins had logged in and locked the screen and nobody could work as it was scrolling some 3D stuff on the KVM port.

        One of my first jobs there was educating the admins about why that was a bad idea and updating the build process to overwrite all the screen savers with the blank screen one. Oddly the problem never came back..."

        Yeah you learned very quickly in the early days of Citrix servers to disable (remove the .scr files if my fasing memory is correct) all 3D screen savers because as soon as one activated for a single user, the performance of the whole server tanked!

        That didn't stop one customer as late as 2007 having their own exe based custom jobbie though that chewed through near 25% CPU per user.

  5. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    But did he stop? Er, not quite. Visitors to the printer in the following days and weeks found themselves faced with messages such as "INSERT COIN" as Al continued to tinker with PJL.

    But no user would ever try and shove a pound coin into the openings of a LaserJet. Would they?

    Of course they would. Any orifice will serve well, even if it means the coin(s) have to be forcefully inserted with the help of a hammer.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      When working with some people from a manufacturer of coin mechs, I was told that Germans like to punish their coffee machines for insolent behaviour by pouring inadequate coffee into the coin slot. Seems an entirely fitting retribution.

      1. drand
        Holmes

        Coffe from a vending machine is by definition inadequate!

        1. TRT Silver badge

          This drink was individually tailored to meet your personal requirements for nutrition and pleasure. Share and enjoy.

          1. CliveS

            Ah. So you're a masochist on a diet, are you?

          2. Legionary13

            Aaagh - the Sirius Cybernetics Corp is still alive. Though nowhere near as evil as *acebook.

            1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
              Megaphone

              Another bunch of mindless jerks that will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Why wait for the revolution...?

                As per subject line.

            2. Totally not a Cylon

              What if 'that company' becomes Sirius Cybernetics?

              Which would mean Marvin had to listen to Zuckberg (why does my Mac suggest suck as the correct spelling?)

              1. TRT Silver badge

                I think you ought to know, I'm feeling very depressed.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Facebook -> Farcebook

        2. Nick Kew Silver badge

          Black swans

          By definition?

          Just look at the improvement in vending machine coffee from last century's abominations to today's Costa Express. Another jump forward of half that magnitude and we'd have best-ever coffee coming from a vending machine.

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: Black swans

            Another jump forward of half that magnitude and we'd have best-ever coffee coming from a vending machine.

            That strikes me as contradiction in terms: "Vending machine" and "best-ever coffee".

        3. Roland6 Silver badge

          >Coffe from a vending machine is by definition inadequate!

          And as for vending machine tea: "a cupful of liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Paracetamol tablets

      There was a problem with the print server, so no one could print. All this stress was causing a particularly special user (clue - commutes to work on a flying broomstick) a headache. Anyway, she decides to get out two tablets and (for whatever reason) puts them on the paper in tray 1.

      And then the server problem is resolved and the printers start printing.....

    3. sundog

      I have no shame. I've changed the HP4250 printer displays to read 'Remove squirrel from tray 2', and then kept randomly sending the command to check the paper tray.

      I changed half the printers in the building to read 'beware of ninjas', and when my phone rang and someone asked about it, I simply said, 'Ninjas are sneaky', and hung up.

      I set a few printers to read 'Player 1 insert coin', but that backfired as I had to explain how several dimes got into a printer and shorted crap out.

      1. ROC

        You're just messing with us. Right?

    4. keith_w

      But no user would ever try and shove a pound coin into the openings of a LaserJet. Would they?

      Probably into the font cartridge slot.

      1. fobobob

        "Hey! Someone wedged a bunch of coins in the bill changer!"

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Standard procedure

    My uni used to have rooms with multiple printers, where, when printing, you had to go there, log into a console and release your print job to a specific printer. Naturally this meant waiting for a slot at one of the consoles to release the job and then for everyone in front of you to finish printing on your chosen printer.

    But, since you got to choose what printer you were going to print to, if one of them was saying "TONER OUT" or "PAPER JAM" or "TRAY EMPTY" you could avoid that machine and the wait for a PFY to come and fix it. On the other hand, it also meant if you told the printer to display that message before you went to the print room, you were pretty much guaranteed an available printer with no queue.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "No one would ever insert a coin into a printer"

    Hmmmmmmmm

    Given that I've had :

    - 5.25 inch floppies folded in half and shoved in a 3.5 inch disk drive "because Terry told us it would work"

    - CD's inserted into a 5.25 inch floppy drive

    - and (my favourite) someone tried to insert desktop RAM into a laptop by sawing it in two "because they came joined together in the middle"

    I would not put anything past the user community.....

    Kudos to the guy for his gutsiness, though...

    1. Admiral Grace Hopper

      A colleague told the tale of the technician who had come to their house to repair their non-functional VCR.

      "I've seen quite a few VCRs where a kid has tried to feed the little man in the video recorder, but it's usually just a digestive biscuit. I've never seen a whole ham salad before".

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        I have seen jam on toast inserted into a home VCR (stand up Hannah and be applauded - she was only 4 at the time but then should have known batter than many office workers I suppose).

        I upgraded to a home-brewed set-top box (san disk slot). It took the missus about 4 months to ask where the video cassettes went in though which I took as a complement (and promptly scurried down to digitise said mechanical thing before trouble ensued)

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          batter than many office workers.

          Ohh crepe (This pun has made feel hungry for one or several)

          I'm going to stop waffling about my breakfast needs & move on to reading the next post.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      bullshit , thats just the top 10 stupidest users urban myths.

      thats never actually happend to anyone.

      except maybe the cd one

      1. Chronos Silver badge
        Holmes

        ORLY?

        Urban myths, eh? Like the "cupholder" on a desktop auto-retracting and dousing the machine in imitation American coffee, a user calling tech because his monitor is blank after the cleaner using his power point for the vacuum or another irate user threatening to sue us for loss of business because she hadn't paid the telephone bill on her dial-up line?

        You underestimate the stupidity of the average user. The depths to which these creatures will plumb beggar belief.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: ORLY?

          i (the same AC) have worked with users longer than any of you.

          I've seen unplugged screens, obviously

          I've seen unpaid telephone bills

          I've been to countless "fax machine is broken" calls and not once has it been broken - theyve either got the wrong number or the destination machine is off.

          I've seen laptops die mid meeting cos they plugged it into a switched off power socket

          I've seen people reboot by turning the monitor off and on...

          I've seen people use floppy discs after other medium became available. the sadists.

          I've seen people print stuff out so they can scan it in.

          I've seen people use the bin in outlook as storage.

          I've seen people daily use a link in an email they got years ago rather than make a shortcut or bookmark.

          but sawing RAM in half? folding floppies and ramming them into random slots thinking it'll work?

          bullshit

          even the cupholder one im 50/50 on

          1. John Styles

            Re: ORLY?

            Everyone seems to have forgotten the subtlety of the coffee-cup holder 'joke' which was that CD-ROM drivers said 4X on them hence the joke about it being a stand for a can of Castlemaine 4X.

            (I would put money on someone having tried it - another one I've heard of in the early days of micros is someone (a teacher) changing the key order from QWERTY to ABCDE and being surprised and disappointed that it didn't work)

            Certainly with Macs at a previous job we had someone who used the recycle bin as his storage and got very angry (lots of 'I demand to speak to your manager' management consultant types there) when I.T. wiped it as part of an OS upgrade.

            1. theblackhand

              Re: ORLY?

              Anyone who knows what Castlemaine 4X is will have experienced enough trauma to be excused pretty much any IT-related mistake. I assume it (Castlemaine 4X) and Broken Hill are still used to rip off underage drinkers and discourage them from ever wanting to touch beer again..

              The joke was always that they called it 4X because they weren't allowed to write "shit" on the can.

              1. ArrZarr Silver badge

                Re: ORLY?

                Wasn't it that it was called 4X because the brewers were too stupid to spell "Beer"?

                1. Spacedinvader
                  Happy

                  Re: ORLY?

                  Nah it's what the Aussies think of it they just couldn't put it on the tinny...

          2. BebopWeBop Silver badge

            Re: ORLY?

            Upvoted, seen several of those, but then I believe that people also seen C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate

          3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

            Re: ORLY?

            I've seen people print stuff out so they can scan it in

            Not necessarily stupid. It's common enough to be emailed a PDF document for signature. These days I have a PDF editor and a scanned signature, so no printing is involved, though I do worry about how easy it would be to extract my signature from the document for use elsewhere.

            Previously it might be an option to print it to an image or use a screen shot, then edit that in something like GIMP. But when pressed for time or stuck on a bog-standard Windows machine, I've definitely had to print, sign, then scan. Very annoying when it's a 20-page contract requiring a signature on the last page.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: ORLY?

              (same ac again) Yes , thats the excuse they often come up with but

              a) they use it when signatures arnt involved, much like people trot out "health n Safety" or "Data Protection" when its fuck all to do with it.

              b) Signatures are useless , its about time the world recognised that , given that over the last 2 decades we've come to realise what identity theft is , and passwords n stuff , and encryption etc,

              c) a scanned signature is worth less than a real one , which is zero , because:

              what possible benefit is a (visible) scrawled scribble on a piece of paper as an authentication method - cos thats what it is , thats why they want you to sign , to prove it was you , when in actual fact it proves fuck all.

              We *still* sign the back of our credit cards (some of us ) why?

              I can scarcely believe that a mere 25 years ago people would go into a shop ,pay with card ,

              and the man would say "OK , prove to me you are the owner of this card by reproducing this signature - helpfully demonstrated for you on the back of the card" , and that was it . no pin.

              Even today when you receive a parcel , they make you scribble something with the little electric dildo thing , as if that proves anything!

              so inconclusion , printing to sign and then scan in is entirely pointless although the idea of it is so engraved into our culture we have yet to let it go , like we did with not wearing seatbelts and smoking in pubs.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: ORLY?

                last time I stood behind someone signing a payment slip (may have actually been a cheque... remember them!) the woman just went right-left-right-left a few times... she could have saved time by just using a single stroke of a medium felt pen to create her 'signature'

            2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

              Re: ORLY?

              "Very annoying when it's a 20-page contract requiring a signature on the last page."

              You know you can just print the last page right?

              1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

                Re: ORLY?

                The last few contracts I've signed require me to sign and date every single page.

                Every. Single. One.

                1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                  Re: every single page

                  And whats to stop someone from writing a contract totally screwing you over in some way

                  (lets see... " i agree to rent this Ford Focus for £1000 per month in perpetuity" for instance)

                  , and then scrawling an approximation of your signature all over it?

                  -----------------------------------------

                  The last few contracts I've entered into have been done online , and didnt require a signature

                  Because Its A Stupid Pointless Exercise!!

                  Am i alone in thinking this? I've had a lot of downvotes but no one has brought forth any evidence or justification for the "Signature" system of Identification / Authentication.

                  Surley as I.T professionals / programmers / security experts you can see that the 'signature' system is akin to walking around with your pin and all your passwords printed on your T-shirt?

                  1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

                    Re: every single page

                    Because Its A Stupid Pointless Exercise!!

                    I see. So next time I'm required to sign the contract for a job, I'll just reply that some guy on a forum says it's a stupid, pointless exercise. I expect I'll have a lot of free time in future.

                    Get real. It's one of many stupid things we have to do for stupid people.

                    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                      Re: every single page

                      it's one of many stupid things we have to do for stupid people.

                      exactly my point , like i said in a previous post , society just doesn't want to let go of it.

                      But proof that its totally pointless is the number of cotracts and companies for whom its just not practical so theyve sacked it off.

                    2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                      Re: every single page

                      I see. So next time I'm required to sign the contract for a job, I'll just reply that some guy on a forum says it's a stupid, pointless exercise.

                      Im not suggesting you refuse to sign , or change the system , ive given up trying to change shit.

                      You could point out how pointless it is whilst complying though

              2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

                Re: ORLY?

                You know you can just print the last page right?

                And then what? Scan the last page and incorporate it into the PDF I've been sent? If I had the software to do that, I wouldn't be printing anything, I'd just be adding my signature image, as I usually do.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: ORLY?

              [...] though I do worry about how easy it would be to extract my signature from the document for use elsewhere.

              It's rather too easy, unfortunately, even if you use the standard "Encrypt PDF" settings and restrict copying, because opening the resulting PDF in Chrome and resaving it strips the encryption (it was only ever an honour system between different implementations of the PDF standard). You can then select an object (e.g. the jpeg of your signature) and copy it out.

              Even if your attacker doesn't feel like going to those lengths, anything they can see can be screengrabbed.

            4. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: ORLY?

              Previously it might be an option to print it to an image or use a screen shot, then edit that in something like GIMP

              Its a shame its not an option to give up the silly charade, like AC said.

              A jpg signature is as less-than-useless as a traditional one.

              some kind of digital cert / encryption is whats needed , and probably used in other things like software signing.

              Whereas in office paperwork etc , we are still stuck with "Make yer mark here pilgrim, if you aint a writer jus do an big ol X"

            5. Joe Montana

              Re: ORLY?

              "though I do worry about how easy it would be to extract my signature from the document for use elsewhere."

              The sooner we get away from using something so ridiculously arbitrary as a "signature" for any form of authentication the better...

              I just mash the touchpad on my laptop, it makes a few random lines which has always been accepted as a valid signature every time i've tried, and never looks the same twice.

              1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                Re: ORLY?

                Finally! someone who gets it.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: ORLY?

            I have seen RAM 'trimmed' to fit the motherboard slot but that was sawing off the edge of the connector. and no it didn't work

            1. Robert Sneddon

              Re: ORLY?

              I trimmed the x16 edge connector on a PCIe video card to fit an x8 slot in an server and it worked fine. I could have butchered the end of the x8 socket and let the extra length of the card edge hang out over the motherboard but I might have buggered up the server doing that whereas the video card was an old one from the parts bin, make a mess of it and it wouldn't cost me anything.

              1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

                Re: ORLY?

                I have customised slots in this way - the best way is to dremel the end of the slot sideways very slowly rubbing away more of the plastic until the card fits. If you do it length ways the probability of breaking things is much higher. Other people have melted the end but I wasn't keen on this.

                In general I would strongly recommend a slot converter or extender instead, it's just too risky.

                The server I adapted was to run OS/2 for old times sake, so it didn't really owe me anything, and I got it for free (sans hard disk) as work would have had to pay disposal costs otherwise. That server also had a piece of plastic in the middle of the slot, as Dell really *really* didn't want you to use 16x PCIe cards in it. A mini box cutter and customised hacksaw blade from the pound shop worked for that.

          5. phuzz Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: ORLY?

            "I've seen people reboot by turning the monitor off and on..."

            Admittedly, I didn't see it happen, because it was via phone, but at the start of the conversation I had specifically said "not the button on the screen". That was an extra thirty minutes of billable time.

            "I've seen people use the bin in outlook as storage."

            My old boss, who was otherwise a fairly technical chap, for some reason would delete all but the most important emails, on the basis that he could find them in the trash later. He wasn't happy when I empted it as a matter of course while looking into another problem on his laptop, but had to admit that it was basically his own fault. (Hey Malc!)

            "sawing RAM in half?"

            No, but I've seen someone use an impressive amount of force, in order to fit a DIMM (DDR2 I think) in the wrong way around.

            I've also seen someone install twenty CPUs in the wrong orientation in one go, and bend pins on every single one of them. Fortunately steady hands and knife blade fixed most, if not all, of those.

            1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: ORLY?

              > ....in order to fit a DIMM (DDR2 I think) in the wrong way...

              Some genius removed 48 Megabyte of RAM (when that was a VERY large amount of RAM) with a screwdriver instead of pressing the release tabs. All dead. Not dead enough though, I repaired all modules by soldering tiny wires where needed. Result, me owning a machine with (for that time) a silly amount of RAM. Mainboard could just have 32 MB, so I bought a caching hard disk controller that got the remaining 16 MB.

          6. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: ORLY?

            > but sawing RAM in half?

            I have seen a multi-port (plus something else I don't recall) -card sawn in half. The "something else" part was on top of the Vesa-local-bus and had been sawn off. The multi-port part was working just fine. I am one hundred percent sure this is not a lie because it was me doing all this.

            1. Joe Montana

              Re: ORLY?

              IDE or GFX on the VLB part, multiport card on the ISA bit... built as two cards stuck together as there's no need for the two parts to interact so not surprising it works when cut in half...

              1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

                Re: ORLY?

                Pretty sure it was IDE. There were lines between those two parts, but just a few. I made sure there were no short circuits before testing.

                Wouldn't do anything like that today anymore.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: ORLY?

              I had an 8 bit ISA graphics card, that had a sticky out bit that meant it couldn't fit into a 16 bit slot.

              Until I hacked sawed it off, right through the tracks and a couple of caps ..... but it was after looking at the board carefully, and deciding that the bit was for an optional parrallel port (not fitted) and decoupling caps, and making sure there was no shorts

          7. David Nash Silver badge

            Re: ORLY?

            "I've seen people daily use a link in an email they got years ago rather than make a shortcut or bookmark."

            A link in an email *is* a shortcut!

            1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

              Re: ORLY?

              desktop shortcut then!

              How many times have i turned up and said "right , show me the problem you have with system 'X' "

              and then they start scrolling through years of emails going "ooh where is it now ... hang on .... im just looking for that email from sheila ... "

              AAAARGHH!

          8. zapper

            Re: ORLY?

            I have had users on at least 2 occasions insert floppies into the slot above the drive. I was called in once several disks had been eaten.

          9. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge

            Re: ORLY?

            even the cupholder one im 50/50 on

            I've come across at least one joke program that promised a complementary cupholder and then ejected the CD tray when you accepted; given the average user, I've no doubt that somebody fell for it(and if they had one of those flat jobs you put the monitor on top of, it could well have worked for them - temporarily).

          10. Trixr Bronze badge

            Re: ORLY?

            I've seen "trimmed" RAM and trimmed VGA cards.

            I've seen multiple floppies inserted one after the other without ejecting the first (personal record - 4)

            And I've seen the cupholder one - both times, to hold a flimsy plastic cup of water rather than a large mug.

            Mouse used upside down.

            User demanding bigger desk because the mouse won't reach the end of the screen.

            User who didn't know what the space bar or enter key were for (bless him, senior law partner sending his first email at the age of 60+ in the late 90s)

          11. Olivier2553 Silver badge

            Re: ORLY?

            The cup-holder, I have witnessed it myself... Only in reverse. Millennial kid thinking the actual cup holder in the new car was the CD tray.

          12. Ribfeast

            Re: ORLY?

            I've seen firsthand the results of a user plugging a USB Type B cable into an RJ45 ethernet socket...snapped one of the pins off in the socket and ruined the networking ability of that printer.

          13. What? Me worry?

            Re: ORLY?

            Many years ago, I worked in an architecture office and was using CAD for drafting. A senior partner in the company, came by to review the documents I was creating. Rather than plot them out, I thought I'd be efficient and modern and we could review the plans on the screen. The senior partner proceeded to take out his redlining pen (the one with red ink, for, you know, drawing red lines...) and proceeded to mark up the screen. When I then zoomed out to review a different portion of the drawing, he was a bit upset that the red marks didn't move... More upset that I had somehow 'removed the reviewed work'. Anyway. :)

          14. Radio Wales
            Facepalm

            Re: ORLY?

            > I've seen people print stuff out so they can scan it in.

            So you have been to my office then?

            I once caught my wife trying to insert a 'stiffie' into the VCR because there was a video on it.

        2. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: ORLY?

          > The depths to which these creatures will plumb beggar belief.

          One of the most extreme I have seen (but only on the photo the company had taken): machine was sent in because CPU was fried. The CPU cooler was not mounted on top of the CPU, but glued to the casing.

        3. ma1010 Silver badge

          Re: ORLY?

          So very true. There is no bottom.

          At the court where I work, we were using kiosks for people to check in for court. The kiosks had standard card readers on them for people to put their driver's licenses to ID themselves. One clever person managed to stuff their license into a tiny crack. It didn't go all the way in because the tooth marks on the edge of the license where it had been chewed (yes, really) jammed it most of the way in, so they didn't have to take the kiosk apart to retrieve the license. A pair of needle nose pliers did the trick.

        4. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: ORLY?

          You underestimate the stupidity of the average user.

          Proof-- Look around at the people that get elected to office and who votes for them.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: ORLY?

          I just finished a fifteen(15) year stint as IT director and find all of these comments extremely entertaining. This place is just like the /. of old including the first time in memory that I have ticked the 'Post anonymously' box.

      2. James Osborne-Smith

        I've seen someone used to MACs post CDs through the slot between blanking plates on empty 5.25" bays. As in multiple CDs - she only got worried and called IT after the 6th CD...

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

          A capacity issue I am sure.

          1. TXITMAN

            Mental processing capacity no doubt.

        2. Stuart Castle

          Seen the same. The worrying thing was that when I sent a technician up to check the problem the user was reporting, she did the same thing. This was an experienced technician who worked for us part time, and PC world part time (as one of their technicians). Now, I am not a great fan of PC world, and generally find their techs a little useless, but this lady was normally a good technician.

      3. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Facepalm

        There is no limit at all to the crazy things the general public will attempt.

        Very many moons ago I was actually the unfortunate TV engineer to be almost buried in a cascade of coins when removing the back of a non-working TV. It turned out that junior had a somewhat confused ideas about the electricity meter coin slot and the vent slots in the TV. How the TV ran for so long with the buildup is one of life's mysteries.

  8. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    printers are perfectly capable of chucking obstructive messages at you without being told to do extra ones , he obvioulsy wasnt the one getting the phone calls

    "What the fuck does pc load letter mean?"

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      We had a machine in the pub toilet for that!

      But seriously the number of machines that used to 'go yank' and refuse to function after a power outage until threatened with percussive maintenance because we couldn't find the manual to set it to A4 or, in later years with LCD menus the A4 selection method was modelled on the claw machine at the seaside.

    2. theblackhand

      "What the fuck does pc load letter mean?"

      Load letter-sized paper into the paper cassette. Who cares if it isn't logical, it's seared into my brain now.

      The correct fix was, in Word (it was almost always word), correctly set your page size to A4 (or whatever your default paper size was) and update the settings file by saving it as default.

      Or press random buttons on the printer until it either breaks or you print job appears.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        It should just use the paper its fucking given!

        Sure that would mean one time in 1000 something gets printed on the wrong size ,

        But it would cut out 1000s of man hours wasted by printers bitching and moaning about everything.

        This is still going on , just the other day I was swearing at a huge Canon printer because it was refusing to print saying "Load Paper"

        it wanted A4

        it had 3 other drawers full of A4 , but nooo , IT wants it in a particular drawer!

        1. defiler Silver badge

          Friend of mine ended up writing a script to scour the office print queues and bin any job on "Letter" paper.

          Seems a bit mean, but that meant they could filter all the users with bad printer settings and get them fixed. After a flurry in the first couple of weeks, hardly any jobs were ever binned. And the printers ran more freely since they weren't waiting for a paper size that'll never arrive.

          And every time I visit the USA and see US Letter sized pages they make me twitch a little inside.

          1. Olivier2553 Silver badge

            Instead of binning the jobs, I reset the page size. I may also force duplex and black and white.

            1. defiler Silver badge

              Yeah. Would also (mostly) work. You'd find that the document had big borders at the top and bottom, though, and things like letterheads wouldn't fit. On the other hand if you bin the job and wait for the user to shout, you can fix the problem properly at the source.

              It's a more direct solution than I'd like to use, but a more comprehensive solution in the end.

      2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

        PC LOAD LETTER

        Only a printer company would abbreviate "paper cassette" as "PC". The rest of us would immediately recognize the universal abbreviation for "personal computer"

        ...and who calls it a "cassette"? Drawer, tray or something.

        The printer was asking for it. It got what it deserved.

    3. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

      I was hoping someone would quote "Office Space". Just re-watched it last night so the missus could see it in full for the first time. She had a few chuckles but didn't see why it was such a hit in its time.

      She also didn't know the red Swingline was just a prop until the movie-influenced customer demand persuaded the company to comply. Imagine if they hadn't: lost profits, lost customers, and possibly out of business.

    4. Solviva

      Translates to: "Hit the green OK button twice to resume printing"

    5. Donn Bly

      Actually, the LED display only showed the first 12 characters, so the message displayed was "PC LOAD LETT"

      Had a billable service call once on that one, because they couldn't be troubled with telling me over the phone what the actual message was and they just HAD to have a service technician there as soon as possible.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        FAIL

        Design Fail

        A multi thousand dollar printer, and they couldn't spring for a decent display?

  9. Dan White
    Pint

    Been there, done that...

    20+ years back, a colleague and I were engaged in a passive-aggressive back and forth over the LaserJet perched on the end of my desk. He resented the printer going into power saving mode after 10 minutes, as it caused him to wait an extra 10-15 seconds for the printer to warm up if he sent a print job. I, on the other hand, resented the constant stream of hot air being blown in my face from a printer that was sat idle for 95% of the time.

    Every time he walked past the printer he would look at the two line screen, and if it was in power saving he would quickly double-tap the Menu button, taking it out of power saving mode, regardless of whether he had any intention of sending a print job or not.

    The solution: Change the menu text entry for, "STANDBY" to show, "READY", then drop the power saving timeout to the lowest delay possible. That way, the display always showed, "READY", and I was able to stay cool for most of the day :-)

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Been there, done that...

      Thanks for the reminder of the minor horrors of office life.

      Back in the days when my work was on VAX, a radical innovation came when the company acquired a Sun workstation that didn't need to sit in the highly-controlled environment of the computer room. I didn't get to work on it, but I did get to sit in the line of fire of its cooling fan. Nasty.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Been there, done that...

        We got 4 of them for development -wonderful.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Been there, done that...

        >Back in the days when my work was on VAX, a radical innovation came when the company acquired a Sun workstation that didn't need to sit in the highly-controlled environment of the computer room.

        Funny that, back in days before these days, we used microcomputers that didn't need a highly-controlled environment, but then we got a VAX - that (hot) summer for various reasons the microcomputers only worked reliability in the room now occupied by the VAX.

  10. Haff

    Radiation Leak

    There was an app written for mobile devices that would set messages on the screens those and other HP printers.

    I when working for a now long forgotten fruity phone maker set the one in our area to show "Radiation Leak". One of the department managers raised a very concerned help desk ticket.

    We were not sure where he thought the radiation was coming from.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Radiation Leak

      I'm still trying to work out how that Russian static missile test that went pop last week bumped up radiation levels.

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Radiation Leak

        It was supposed to be a nuclear powered ramjet, and if it functions similarly to the US designs (eg) a crash could scatter rather radioactive material around.

        Alternatively, there is/was a nuclear resupply ship in the area, presumably for fuelling, and if the Russians have continued with the charmingly lax maintenance of the Soviet days, it could be that they just had an accident. After all, it's not like the Russian navy are known for their funding, preparation, training, or competence at the higher levels (for example).

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Radiation Leak

          A nuclear powered ramjet just sounds fucking insane whichever way I try and look at it. I can imagine a nuclear battery powered ion drive but to use a nuclear reactor as a power source for a ramjet????

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: Radiation Leak

            I can imagine a nuclear battery powered ion drive but to use a nuclear reactor as a power source for a ramjet????

            If it's delivering a nuclear warhead then leaving a trail of radiation enroute probably isin't that much of a concern to the Russians.

            Especially since after they manage to get it working with a reasonable degree of reliability (ie >80%) they probably will only end up firing about one every ten years just to prove they can't be stopped by the USA's existing Anti Ballistic Missiles that have obsoleted Russia's ICBM's.

            Technically, the USA has built nuclear jets so it's not a particularity novel technology; we know how to build these things. However, we also know that they need tons of radiation shielding to prevent irradiating the flight crew. Of course, a cruise missile has no crew and so has no need for any radiation shielding, so presumably these are totally (or near totally) unshielded which probably made the crash so much worse when all of the radioactives went flying god knows where. (Chernobyl was easily detected because during the cold war everybody was looking for radiation; who'd like to bet that nobody is looking these days?)

            1. Martin J Hooper

              Re: Radiation Leak

              The Russians had a nuclear plane too - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tupolev_Tu-95LAL

              THe US one was https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convair_NB-36H

              1. Tom 7 Silver badge

                Re: Radiation Leak

                A nuclear plane is an interesting technical challenge. This, however is essentially throwing a nuclear reactor at the enemy.

            2. defiler Silver badge

              Re: Radiation Leak

              Chernobyl was easily detected because during the cold war everybody was looking for radiation; who'd like to bet that nobody is looking these days?

              Nah - not entirely. The same Swedish lab that picked up Chernobyl's scent also found airborne isotopes a couple of years ago, so they're still watching at least.

              Annoyingly I can't find a source, but I read it on El Reg.

          2. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: Radiation Leak

            "A nuclear powered ramjet just sounds fucking insane whichever way I try and look at it."

            Search for 'Project Pluto'* and 'SLAM', and feel glad that the US didn't go any further in developing them.

            * Not to be confused with Operation Pluto, which is entirely different but still amazing.

            1. Tom 7 Silver badge

              Re: Radiation Leak

              My apologies - its just such a hideously dirty weapon I didnt think anyone would be insane enough to actually build one - I forgot about Putin.

      2. CowardlyLion

        Re: Radiation Leak

        That's very off topic for this thread! But here you go...

        Russia indicates rocket engine exploded in test of mini nuclear reactor

        https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/12/russia-indicates-rocket-engine-exploded-in-test-of-mini-nuclear-reactor

      3. druck Silver badge
  11. Mr Humbug

    On one April 1st I had all the HP LaserJets saying "OUT OF BEER". Only one person mentioned it and he refused to go and get beer for me to fit to the printer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There were sweets bought to the office - I wasn't around so missed out.

      I retaliated by setting the LCD message to "LOAD JELLYBABIES!"

      There was a call to the helldesk, but as I was the printer man, I couldn't get away with it.

      Never got any sweets though.

  12. localzuk

    So much fun.

    April 1st was a great day when we had those printers. "INSERT CHEESE" was fun. But the one that always got me calls was "INSERT WHITE TONER" :D

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So much fun.

      We had one in our office. I once set it to "OUT OF CHOCOLATE".

      Kudos for "white toner"!

  13. Chris Miller

    HP printers can also be programmed to print a header page before each document, which is intended for user identification (handy on a shared printer) but can contain any message you like (preferably something short in bold 72 pt).

    1. WonkoTheSane Silver badge
      Trollface

      "Help! I'm a prisoner in a printer factory!" ?

  14. Deimos

    The invisible button

    As all techies know there is an invisible button beside every user, which fixes the problem as soon we stand on it.

    On Friday my ability to find it failed and I’m now officially retired. My gardening youngsters managed to completely kill two separate bits of electric foliage remover and nothing I did could revive them. I therefore happily hang up my techie hat and now become a happy clueless luser. My brain downgrade is booked for next week.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: The invisible button

      Congrats on the retirement. Even though the brain has been downgraded, fully expect phone calls from friends and relatives who have computer problems and don't want to pay someone.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Angel

        Re: The invisible button

        ... and then you'll discover why us oldies say that as soon as you retire you seem to lose all free time.

        1. Martin
          Happy

          Re: The invisible button

          Indeed.

          I sometimes wonder when I had time to actually go to work.

          When I retired, I was given a mug which said "The problem with retirement is that you get no days off."

          1. Radio Wales

            Re: The invisible button

            Yeah. I have one of those. Presented during my quieter days of employed and paid consultations

  15. davenewman

    Sending messages to other terminals

    On a PDP11 running UNIX, it was easy to send text to someone else's terminal. Just a cat {filename} /dev/{teminal}.

    Us students working at night would send ASCII images of rockets to each other.

    1. ibmalone Silver badge

      Re: Sending messages to other terminals

      wall

      write

      talk

      Still exist and quite possibly work if you ever find yourself on a Linux machine that other people log into...

    2. Stuart Castle

      Re: Sending messages to other terminals

      You sure they were rockets?

    3. The Pi Man

      Re: Sending messages to other terminals

      PICK (google it kids) had a similar thing called tandem which let you type on someone elses terminal. Or just hit the backspace every few words that they typed....

  16. steviebuk Silver badge

    The time...

    ...back in Windows 3.11 days there was a free screensaver I believe it was, that came on the front of one of the many disks off a PC magazine, but annoyingly I can't remember the name of the screensaver. More annoying as I've been looking for it on and off over the years.

    Anyway. When it would kick in, you'd see your desktop still but with really tiny bugs walking over it and eating the screen. In the "Study room" we had at college I'd managed to load it on one of the PCs in the row of 5. When it would kick in, all you had to do was move your mouse to stop it. But the student a few PCs down to me didn't know that and she panicked thinking her assignment was being destroyed. Being the arsehole I was, I kept quiet. I couldn't come clean now, I do remember thinking at the time "Just move the pissing mouse and it will stop". I do realise now that I could of just claimed "Happened to me as well. Moving the mouse seemed to fix it", but I was simple back then (some would argue I still am) and thought if I got involved at all, they'd know I was the one that put it on there.

    1. Giles C

      Re: The time...

      This one?

      https://download.cnet.com/Bugs/3000-2257_4-10062982.html

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: The time...

        >This one?

        Doubt it.

        Back in the Win3.n days there were many good (novelty) screen savers of this ilk.

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: The time...

      You should have explained that the bugs could be shaken off by jumping up and landing hard on the floor boards. If the floor is concrete you have to thump the desk.

  17. Laura Kerr
    Devil

    Anyone remember the eyeball screen saver?

    Scene: Yours truly doing some late-night maintenance on our Sun server back in the early nineties. Lights on in computer room, off everywhere else. Each PC was on, as I needed to wander round and test connectivity and printing. I'd turned them all on before getting on with the maintenance - IIRC, it was a SunSolve patch. To relieve the boredom, I'd set the eyeball screen saver going on each PC.

    So there I was, alone in a darkened open-plan office with dozens of PCs each showing a moving eye.

    Then came a rattle at the door. A particularly obnoxious road warrior had come in late. His hysterical scream was music to my ears.

  18. royprime

    Missed a trick there

    Well, he certainly missed a trick. Bodge up a quick money pot on the side of it, he'd be quids in.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, Al gets a bollocking and then carries on doing the same again? Little sympathy from me.

  20. Stuart Castle

    We had a user who was a bit of a keen hacker, and he worked out he could change the ready message on our HP laser jets. Unfortunately, I couldn't secure it, as pretty much every admin function had been locked down with a password, just that one hadn't. I did not have the password, and the team that did kept saying they'd resolve the problem, but never got round to it.

    The user wrote quite a nifty little script that would change the ready message to either a one line weather forecast (which was quite handy) or a random phrase (which tended to be amusing rather than useful).

    Sadly, the user in question had broken several rules in his quest to send random messages, and ended up having action taken against him. So, no more random messages.

  21. Richard Tobin

    Printer jam

    Old April Fool's joke:

    Get a sheet of Letraset letter transfers (remember them?)

    Cut it up into individual letters

    Stuff them into the serial or parallel connector on the printer

    Simulate a printer fault.

    When someone reports the fault, tell them it's probably a printer jam. Take them along to the printer and pull the plug out...

  22. Donn Bly

    "No one would ever insert a coin into a printer"

    I once opened up my HP LaserJet 4Mplus to install a memory upgrade and found a cassette tape sitting in its bay. For those that aren't familiar with the model, you had to remove the side panel of the case, THEN remove a metal door, in order to get to even get to the socket.

    However, there was also a font cartridge slot on the front, and apparently with just the right angle and force a 2-year old could get their favorite music tape in that far but not get it out.

    That 2-year old now has children of her own in elementary school -- and I *STILL* have the printer.

  23. sbt
    Facepalm

    PC LOAD LETTER

    I think it was three countries in the world that didn't use A4, but no, the default had to be...

    It was years later I found out what PC stood for.

    1. Mark Ruit

      Re: PC LOAD LETTER

      Maybe a few more than countries than three - but 'countries' is not really a helpful measure. I read somewhere that an acedemic had used national GDP as a proxy for printer paper usage and come up with a figure of about 25 percent of world GDP being countries where "letter" sizes were standard: the rest of the world all used 'A' sizes.

      My last four printers (all non-US brands) arrived with the tray-stops already set to A4, and the default paper in the firmware also set to A4 (ie overwriting any paper size defined in the print file). Those manufacturers obviously realised on which side their bread was buttered...

      (And until today I though PC stood for "Personal Computer" although I worked out the meaning of the message - "load letter" was enough as I had spent 30 years working for a US subsidiary and we always had some copiers running 'letter'-sized paper.)

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Discovered a neat trick that was considerably less than a treat?

    A phone system that was around at the same time as the printer in this article had the (designed) ability to play the music on hold through the phone loudspeaker. If an idle tech set a few jumpers, enabled and disabled a few different software options and then did a bit of "other than expected design" wiring it became possible to set a separate input channel for music on hold, and the "playing from the phone loudspeaker". This input could then be wired to a computers audio output, letting you play anything heard over the computer's audio to the speaker of every phone in the office. Think an 8.1 sound system is good? Try a ~130.0 system; what it lacked in base and treble was made up through sheer numbers of mid's. This was quite good for playing music when working in the office late at night when nobody else was around.

    However, idle hands etc. Come halloween, I thought it might be funny to get one of those halloween haunted house effect CD's and play with it a bit. You know, the occasional creaking door, footsteps, lightning, odd chuckle, loud breathing, ghost moans and groans etc. I just had one effect playing at random at quasi random intervals. That may well have freaked out a few people, especially when people who weren't superstitious would deny having heard anything at all etc. Everybody being asked to point in the direction they thought the sound was coming from to track down the ghost (or hidden speakers) was one of my favorite highlights since practically everybody was (correctly) pointing in different and some totally random directions.

    Management also found it funny, but a seniorish chap mentioned loudly in the middle of the IT department that while he didn't want to be a killjoy it would be convenient if the frequency of ghosts visiting could drop. They duly dropped to one every five thousand seconds, and the volume dropped a bit too.

    The only problem was not turning it off overnight. The next day a memo (remember those?) circulated suggesting that what was midly funny in a very full and quite light office was apparently not so amusing for a couple of people working alone in a practically empty, darkish echoing office, leading to freaked out people fleeing a haunted house office, and that it would be rather convenient if the ghosts didn't revisit.

    Oops.

    I never did get caught, but nobody was looking too hard, and everybody who was looking was looking was doing so in the direction of finding hidden speakers, looking at if the PC's had all been set up to play something or if the PA system had been used to pull it off. :/

  25. Barry Rueger

    Phones too

    Many years ago I worked with a Production Manager called "God," in reference to his infallibility and legendary ability to to solve any crisis. He was big, and black, with James Earl Jones voice.

    The office had just bought a handful of pizza box Macs, each of which came with a microphone. The following Monday we found that the error "beep" on the machines was replaced by a recording saying "This is God! You made a mistake, and I know about it."

    Better though was the story of the then new digital phone systems which would let clever boys change the office ring tones to anything they wanted. It started with crickets...

  26. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    It is 1980-ish, and the ICL shop I am working in is being re-tooled for Sperry kit and a different way of working.

    We will keep the Grace Brothers style canteens that separate Monthly (paid) workers from Weekly (paid) ones. Everyone eats in the Weekly staff canteen anyway because the food is better and time wasted in the canteen is reduced on account of Weekly staff have to cue at a serving point a-la MASH and Monthly staff get waitress service. Hah.

    We will keep the pointy-haired boss that could have been used as the model in every way for the one in the Dilbert cartoon, but he will be gently moved into a new position reducing his responsibility to operations. The chief analyst will get a co-equal position as head of programming.

    A new boss of everyone will be appointed from head office. A nice guy with a dry sense of humour.

    On April first I am delivered a print I am "responsible" for, normally a one page affair with a summary of various factory stuff on it. It had obviously skipped the tractors and the entire report had printed as a heading and one vastly overprinted line c/w some letter-shaped holes.

    An operator had written in red biro: "Don't think this will be of any use, but you can have it anyway" under the line of smudge and punched holes.

    Noting the date I popped the print into an envelope addressed to the New Boss of Everyone along with a cover letter:

    Dear BoE, you have asked us all to think of ways we can cut costs and processing time in our computer operations. Please find enclosed the new format for condensing the TPS Report I have devised for saving paper. Ignore the comments in red ball point pen. They were added by an itinerant console jockey who was ignorant of the higher principles involved. Yours helpfully, Stevie.

    I was called into the Pointy Haired Boss's office about an hour later. He had the said report, forwarded to him by BoE in a spectacular bit of one-upman-pay-backery. PHB was very serious and wanted to know how much time had been lost, what our recovery scenario was and other details that showed he had no calendar in addition to his already-known lack of a sense of humour. I was able to show that we had automatically produced a second copy of the report and distributed it, and was sent back to my (metal) desk in the (open plan) office after a bit of stammering quick thinking double talk to obfuscate the missed joke.

    Lesson learned.

    Yes, this was the same shop that had the carpenter/tinsmith desk moving soap opera I spoke of a while back.

  27. Zarno
    Devil

    Oh lord, the memories...

    Not even going to post anon for this, it's past statute of limitations...

    Campus open comp lab. Two older HP laserjets.

    Set them both to display "Radiation leak detected" as a stop-job error.

    No haz-mat response, but heard a few murmurings about shielding dangly bits, and a few people avoided them for a few days.

    Then there was the idle message of "Feed me a stray cat" on the other lab printer for the STEM center.

    Also among the mix were such gems as "Human detected, set to stun", "Mayo tank empty, insert pickle." and "Raspberry jam low".

  28. Vegemite Sandwich
    Devil

    Best April Fool's one I've heard is posting a note on the big departmental Xerox saying something like:

    "We have recently upgraded this machine to Xerox's new voice controlled operating system. Please stand nearby and speak your commands loudly and clearly."

    Hilarity ensues...

    1. Herby Silver badge

      You laugh...

      Back in the 80's or so, the engineers at Apple hooked up a voice command unit to an elevator. Posted a note about it, and nobody believed then somebody actually demonstrated it, and it did work. Sometimes you can take everything on April 1 as a joke.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Utterly unprofessional. Would not have been employed by anyone I know or worked for.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      I'll bet you're the life of the office.

      Also the first to rat someone out to the PHB.

  30. Scott 26
    Terminator

    Flat LAN set up

    In an old flat I lived in ~2002, we had a HPLJ hooked up with a (public facing) webpage front end and webcam... , so you could enter text in the webapge, which would update the display on the HPLJ, and you could see the results via webcam embedded in the webpage

    Ahhh... geeks with too much time on their hands :)

  31. Kernel Silver badge

    Another good one

    Back in the days of the indestructible Nokia phones my line manager's kids set the screen message on his to "No signal" - it took him quite a while to twig to that one, apparently.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the nineties my company had a product that used tapes and optical disks libraries for storage.

    Licence enforcing was done in the SCSI driver that we provided for said libraries. Instead of something like "invalid licence" the error message for an improperly registered instance was something like "*** SCSI bus termination problem ***" (the smart idea behind this was that someone trying to use an illegal copy of the software would be caught by reporting this fake hardware problem). But nobody ever did.

    Then a few years later a customer called reporting a SCSI problem. They had Sun and the maker of the library replace cables (using shorter ones or longer ones or shielded ones), SCSI adapters, SCSI terminators, ..., everything SCSI related, without success.

    They were not amused when we had to explain what the real problem was.

    They were not even trying to use a pirated copy of the software, they just moved a legitimate copy to a different sparc workstation because the previous one had died. They didn't know (because it wasn't written in the documentation) that they needed to ask us for a different licence key.

  33. Mikpep

    An American friend told me his university had been scammed by printer messages. It said 'Error call <phone number>'. It was a premium rate line. They put it down to some departing IT person, or enterprising IT student.

  34. Gogugogu
    Happy

    Did not read all 2xx comments so apologies if somebody pointed at this first:

    HP Laserjet is waiting on an open port and prints on the display whatever string you send there. So no need for PCL language.

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