back to article Cheque out my mad metal frisbee skillz... oops. Lights out!

Ho ho ho, behold our bulging bag of reader confessions in The Register's regular Who, Me? feature. Today we learn, once again, that the boss is not always all bad. "Will", a name plucked from Santa's sack-o-pseudonyms, was working as a line manager for a large IT company some 40 years ago, back when cheques were more than that …

  1. VonDutch

    Who me?

    I struggle enough with the days of the week without you swapping On call for Who me on a Friday!

    What is this madness?

    1. Solarflare

      Re: Who me?

      It's too early on a Friday and I have had far too little coffee for these sorts of shenanigans!

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Who me?

      Looks like a hybrid ("Who Call" ?). Perhaps should have been published on Saturday?

      1. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: Who me?

        More like "On Me" on this occasion!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who call?

        Ghostbusters!!!

    3. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re: Who me?

      Wait. It really _is_ Friday!? When reading Who me?, I thought "oh, it's Monday again." Kind of difficult to distinguish during this year end craze. But no matter how long a day (or week for that matter), there's always that little spare time to drift off to El Reg once in a while.

    4. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Who me?

      The new tagging of articles is really throwing me off... Like VonDutch, I don't know what day it is.

    5. 9Rune5 Silver badge

      Re: Who me?

      I think the real issue here is that BOFH seems to be MIA?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who me?

        Nah, he just started his pre-Christmas piss-up early. Only amateurs wait to be sent home on the last day by the Boss. (That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it).

  2. LDS Silver badge

    Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

    In the Italian news these days, about a large operation against 'ndrangheta (a mafia organization from Calabria):

    "A lawyer by the name of Francesco Stilo was arrested a few days ago at the Swiss border in this same case. He held a check for € 100 million"

    And some banks would have been happy to process it... sometimes the right voltage spike should be sent across some bank managers...

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

      I trust the "the right voltage spike" should be applied with a BOFH-certified cattle prod

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

        It's the uncertified cattle prod you should be worried about...

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

          It's the uncertified BOFH-modified cattle prod you should be worried about...

        2. shedied

          Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

          uncertified cattle? Must be some tough meat, and their certs are tattooed on their hides

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        BOFH Cattle prod.

        Now you mention it I realise we haven't heard of it for some time. Maybe the electrolytics have dried out.

        1. JulieM Silver badge

          Re: BOFH Cattle prod.

          The best kind of dried-out electrolytic capacitor is one across an emitter resistor in an analogue amplifier. All the DC voltages in the circuit will appear fine, but it will have hardly any gain. It's an absolute sod to fix unless you know what to look for.

    2. baud Bronze badge

      Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

      I'm paying my electricity bill by cheque, but that's mostly my landlady's fault; perhaps I could negotiate with her to switch to use my debit card instead. Also when I was volunteering at a small non-profit I collected all payements by cheque, it was easier than setting up a payement gateway (and also easier for me to check who had paid or not).

      1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

        Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

        Looks like I'll have to pay that by cheque until I can switch: indeed, I've just sought out an ancient cheque book (wasn't even sure I had one). But that's because of EDF's dysfunctional system.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

          I'm an election agent, and expenses regulations means I prefer to pay everything by cheque for the paper trail. I wrote more in the last week than in the last two years. Since the last election actually. Thanks Chartists! You demanded annual elections, we're damn near there.

        2. Sequin

          Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

          I had to update my driving licence recently and had to send in a new photo. Reading the instructions I thought I had to pay a £17 processing fee and had to find my cheque book which I had not used in about 5 years. I sent everything off and got my new licence back a week or so later. The following day I received a cheque for £17 from them. Rather than send my cheque back, they cashed it and sent me one of theirs for the same amount. In the space of 10 days, I had to write one, then pay one in to the bank. I think I was stuck in a time warp!

          1. joewilliamsebs

            Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

            They probably follow the same rules as HMRC: if there's money of any form on offer, get it in the bank and quibble the details later.

            We've had discussions with them where they have claimed that Corporation Tax returns may well have been put on the post but "we never received them". "You cashed the cheque from the envelope though."

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

        I've not even owned a cheque-book for over a decade. If I was asked to pay by cheque it would be a significant inconvenience.

        1. Chris King Silver badge

          Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

          I still have a cheque book, but I haven't issued one in over a decade - seems the last one I issued was to that place up in Kendal that services Leatherman tools. (I made the mistake of lending mine to a friend who messed up half the blades, but they sorted it out, and said friend is no longer allowed to borrow or use any of my stuff)

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

            said friend is no longer allowed to borrow or use any of my stuff

            I have a mate like that but a far more useful policy. When he borrows a tool, he leaves a cash deposit equal to the cost of replacing the tool with a brand new one (including travel BTW, if said tool is only available from somewhere outside of my normal travelling range). If the tool comes back damaged beyond a reasonable level (ie wear I can barely measure with a micrometer on a very cheap drill bit is fine, anything else....) he keeps it and I keep the cash and get a brand new one.

            If he's late on the return, I also keep the cash. If he wants to use them at my home he still needs to prove he has the cash on hand. For a reduced fee he can pay ME to use my tools on his stuff, cash payment up front.

            My tools strangely come back on time and in good condition. But then he knows that if he scratches the chuck on an old drill, it's his and the cash is mine. 2nd hand the old drill might be worth $5 if the buyer is blind but to replace worth $200. Or a damaged hinge for the case of an ancient Stanley socket set.. He keeps my 20yr+ old set while I get nice shiny new set in nice new box as well.

            1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

              Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

              He keeps my 20yr+ old set while I get nice shiny new set in nice new box as well.

              You are happy with a deal where he gets the good set and you get the inferior new set ?

              1. Kiwi Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

                He keeps my 20yr+ old set while I get nice shiny new set in nice new box as well.

                You are happy with a deal where he gets the good set and you get the inferior new set ?

                Not at all. For a very long time I've only purchased the cheaper stuff. Anything worth keeping is worth keeping for my own exclusive use, and anything loaned has to be something I'm OK with losing. For me, that policy goes back a wee bit more than 20 years (though not much more, maybe 21 or 22...)

                But I do agree, much of what we get today is far inferior to 20 years and further back. Even the lumber is inferior, I cannot get over how bloody hard it is to find a straight fence post these days! The expensive tools today are what we called "single use" and "cheap shit" not too long back. And for that matter, most of the price is the branding as they're little (if any) better than the cheaper tools, and often identical just different badging/packaging.

                [El Reg, we need a "don't get me started! Back in my day..." icon!]

          2. Muscleguy Silver badge

            Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

            My cheque book is so old I have to cross out the 19 in the date field and write 20 and initial the change if I want to write a cheque.

    3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

      I use cheques to pay things like parking tickets. It's a small comfort to imagine the extra work for the payee.

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

        Cheques don't legally have to be the usual size. It is ( or was, perhaps ) legal to print off a massive cheque and present that for payment. Somebody once did it with a 6' sheet plywood.

    4. storner

      Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

      We're so digital here in DK that cheques can no longer be used. Card only, or cash (and I suspect that will disappear soon).

    5. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

      Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

      One million of that for Boris's party machine and he'd get the red carpet in the world's money-laundering capital.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

      Back in the day my father worked for a company which had still better be nameless. In the course of his work he had to make occasional payments for property transactions.

      He used to take cheques around the country (issued of course by Coutt's) for tens of millions - the biggest I ever saw was £40 million. They were payable to bearer. If he was going somewhere dodgy, like Liverpool or Manchester, he might take an articled clerk along to watch out for suspicious people, and travel by Pullman. That was it. He did take the precaution of putting them in the lining pocket of his overcoat. Given inflation between the 1970s and now, call the biggest cheque half a billion and you won't be far out.

      He still gets a Christmas card from the then Chairman of the Board.

      1. keithpeter
        Windows

        Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

        Good for them

        Surprised they were not using letters of credit.

        As a messenger boy in Liverpool in 70s, I trundled about with LOCs and bills of lading most days. I'm quite proud of having held a job that is now completely obsolete, even if only for a short time.

        Paying the ships' crews off: £50k in packs of £20s. Four large chaps in a lorry cab and a satchel. Never any problems except for one bursar who insisted on opening the packs of notes and counting them...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

          Having myself had to deal with LOCs (and in the late 1990s - far from irrelevant today) I can confidently assert that getting the finance director and chairman of the board to write a cheque for £40M is a much easier job than doing the paperwork on an irrevocable LOC.

          It amazes me today that once upon a time I could recite incoterms and the different types of bank instruments off the top of my head and knew what to do with all of them, back when mobile phones were newfangled and the Torygraph was telling us the Internet would never catch on, but that's progress.

      2. ricardian

        Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

        My cousin recently retired as a senior person in what was once the Inland Revenue (UK version). As a lowly executive officer in the North of England back in the 1960s he received a very large reward for suggesting that when the office received large (>£10,000,000) cheques from large companies such as ICI the cheques should immediately be given to an office junior who would take the train to London and pay the cheque into the Bank of England thus getting the overnight deposit rate which would pay far more than the daily wage of the junior and the train fare.

    7. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

      Here in the US, checks1 are still widely used. I wrote one yesterday to pay our house- and cat-sitter; the only alternative would have been cash, which is far less convenient and less secure.

      I currently have three checking accounts, and I write probably two dozen checks a year. Not so many years ago, I had a date stamp because I wrote enough checks every month that it was worth having a tool to avoid hand-dating them all.

      In some industries, checks are expected - they still carry a certain aura of class, like pricing luxury goods in guineas. Interior designers and finish experts (quality interior painters, trim carpenters, etc), for example, are usually paid by check.

      And cashier's checks (bank checks) are widely used for major purchases, such as vehicles or down payments on houses.

      1Note we gain efficiency by eliminating a letter.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

        In the 1980s at university my Japanese girlfriend thought it was well posh that I had a chequebook. Even now many Japanese think nothing of paying loads of transactions in cash.

        Two years my endownment paid out and it was slightly thrilling writing a deposit payment for 25 grand. ;)

  3. A K Stiles Silver badge
    Alert

    Oops

    Well that was a bit more disastrous and expensive than the time I accidentally shorted live to earth (UK) whilst attempting to resurrect a printer. Took out about 50% of the (admittedly small) office tripping the circuit breaker.

    Fortunately, the only thing I actually broke (except the already defunct printer) was the electrickans' screwdriver I was wielding, which attempted to weld itself to the mains power supply.

    1. Terje

      Re: Oops

      I only vaporized the multimeter probes when I did the same when the leads were set for current instead of voltage. The loudness of the bang always shock you as well.

      1. Chewi
        Boffin

        Re: Oops

        I once bought a multimeter from B&Q because I thought it might be useful at some point but I've always been too scared to use it. I was starting to wonder whether they're really as dangerous as I thought. Now I know, yep, they really are!

        1. Symon Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Oops

          If you really must work on live domestic mains electricity, keep one hand in your pocket, and stand on a plastic cool box. (A.k.a. cooler, chilly bin, esky) You'll be able to tell which wires are live by the tingling feeling when you touch them.

          p.s. Don't do this. Really, don't. --->

          p.p.s. Thank fuck for RCDs/GFCIs.

          1. Benson's Cycle

            Re: Oops

            First time I've heard the IEE (as it was then) called "fuck".

            Kipling on engineers:

            "It is their care in all the ages to parry the buffet and cushion the shock; it is their care that the gear engages, it is their care that the switches lock..."

            1. Alterhase

              Re: Oops - Kipling on Engineers

              "Parry the buffet"/"cushion the shock"/"gear engages"/"switches lock".....

              Sounds like Kipling was talking about "locomotive drivers" coupling up and driving a train.

              On the left side of the pond, "locomotive drivers" are called "engineers", and "locomotive drivers" are the big wheels on a locomotive -- perhaps this reference comes from his time in America.

              1. Benson's Cycle

                Re: Oops - Kipling on Engineers

                Ah no, he was talking about engineers in general. He refers to electrical engineers specifically in another verse but it is not so directly relevant to the key engineering skill of making things safe. The one I cited (with one misremembering) does indeed refer to railways - but Kipling's knowledge of railways was acquired in India; believe it or not steam railways were invented in the UK and spread rapidly around the Empire, the US came late to the party (though they overtook us when it came to electrification, perhaps Tesla is just rev 2.)

                The whole poem, in fact, is about how engineers made it possible for the rich and important to travel the world and live generally without any fears for their safety.

                The sons of Martha

              2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                Re: Oops - Kipling on Engineers

                On the left side of the pond, "locomotive drivers" are called "engineers"

                In the US, "train drivers" are called "engineers". Two nations separated by a common language and all that...

                (Of course usage varies, and while US speakers will often use "train" to refer generically to both the entire train and to the part pulling [or pushing] it, if they want to speak specifically of the locomotive they'll most often use "engine". But "engineer" does still seem to predominate for the person operating the thing.)

        2. Terje

          Re: Oops

          I would say that they are not really dangerous unless you have absolutely no idea what you are doing (something I believe the overwhelming majority of people frequenting these hallowed boards have). The only damage done on this occasion was the need to reset the breaker and throw away the old probes as the pointy bit's were strangely enough not designed to carry well in excess of 100A. Now I always check that no one has left the meter set for current measurement before I use it and always set it back to voltage after measuring current.

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: Oops

            usually turning it off means its not set for current measurement dosent it?

            1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

              Re: Oops

              "

              usually turning it off means its not set for current measurement dosent it?

              "

              Unless it is a mechanical meter, in which case there is no "off" position.

            2. DropBear Silver badge

              Re: Oops

              "usually turning it off means its not set for current measurement dosent it?"

              Not in my experience. Most mechanical dial meters I saw very much had their own separate power button (and tended to auto-switch off even when it was a true toggle button) so you could leave them on whatever setting. Only the absolute cheapest meters choose to instead make "off" one of the settings on the dial to spare that extra cent on the extra button.

          2. herman Silver badge

            Re: Oops

            Hmm, on proper meters, you also have to move one probe to a different socket to measure current.

            1. Stevie Silver badge

              Re: Proper Meters

              Avo for the win.

            2. NorthIowan
              Mushroom

              Re: move one probe to a different socket to measure current

              At least for something like a 10 Amp range. Lower currents sometimes use the same sockets.

              But then you can get a shinny new meter if you forget. ;-)

              I've been tempted to get a new meter with Bluetooth, recording or voice output. Was having trouble with my camper last summer and I couldn't see the meter connected on the outside from the momentary button I needed to push on the inside. Six foot extension leads would have worked to, but they're not as fun.

              1. Muscleguy Silver badge

                Re: move one probe to a different socket to measure current

                That would be a technological solution in search of a friend, relative or significant other. When checking the lights on my wife's car she consented to come out and press the brake pedals. All the rest I could do myself. I have long limbs, but not that long.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: move one probe to a different socket to measure current

                  If you have a higher end meter (like a Fluke 87 series), learning how to us the min/max functions can help a ton in situations like this.

                  For some issues, that can even be better than an o-scope.

                2. Kiwi Silver badge
                  Pint

                  Re: move one probe to a different socket to measure current

                  When checking the lights on my wife's car she consented to come out and press the brake pedals. All the rest I could do myself. I have long limbs, but not that long.

                  I learnt a trick a while back that helps with that. Back up close enough to any building, you should be able to see. If you can get the back of your car pointing at any mirrored surface, you can see better if you have any doubts about your lights (say the prev test made you think one side wasn't working). A T intersection near a shopping area. or back into a car park in front of a glass-fronted building if there's anything suitable near by.

            3. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Oops

              I've seen more than one meter meet its sad end because some unobservant tech failed to observe that the probes were plugged into the current ports. Just because the dial says "volts" doesn't mean it will be so in such cases.

              Some devices were _quite_ expensive too (eg: Fluke 73s, back in the day....)

              Mind you, I once sent 100mW 6GHz up the end of a sensor only rated for 1mW having misread the instructions. That "only" cost $25k to fix. Anritsu kit tends to be unforgiving of errors.

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Oops

        "

        I only vaporized the multimeter probes when I did the same when the leads were set for current instead of voltage.

        "

        Don't try using that meter for measuring current - it will probably also have vapourised the internal shunt resistor. Which tend to melt long before the protection fuse does.

      3. JulieM Silver badge

        Re: Oops

        You can now get clamp-on current meters that can measure DC (you have to reset the display to zero to counteract the Earth's magnetic field, if the meter is moved) at a reasonable price.

        It's surprisingly handy to be able to know how much current is flowing through a wire without disconnecting it. I used mine recently to test the battery backup on my cat's smart pet door (it reads his microchip and operates a solenoid to release the latch, so only he can get in) after fitting a new battery clip. When running on mains, the reader is always operational; on battery, it only activates for a few seconds when the door is pushed from outside. Zero the reading, fix the clamp around one battery lead, push the cat flap inwards against the latch, current shoots up, settles down a bit, goes off, job's a good 'un.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Oops

          Interesting design, but not one of ours: they run on four AA cells and last about six months or more, depending how active the cat is. I spend my time in the day job getting the standing current as low as possible through various processor tricks... some of our products have a calculated (inactive but powered) life longer than the battery shelf life.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Oops

          "It's surprisingly handy to be able to know how much current is flowing through a wire without disconnecting it"

          Yup. I bought a 2A DC clamp meter to diagnose some minor stuff, but it's a godsend for verifying cabling in cars and paid for itself many times over (can read down to 5mA - fantastic stuff for 20 quid and would have cost thousands a decade ago)

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Oops

            fantastic stuff for 20 quid and would have cost thousands a decade ago)

            Thanks for the headsup!

            I'm tooling myself up in ways I wouldn't have dreamed possible even just a few years ago when I had a job that paid a hell of a lot more than I get today (which is still comfortable supplemented by odd jobs for others). A couple of friends were made quite jealous of one bit of hardware I purchased post-patent, because while their's each cost well over $NZ700 mine was less than $70 just a few years later. Mostly CNN[1] stuff but it does the job for me and hey, if I drop a drill off a roof I've dropped a readily replaceable $30 bit of junk, not a top-of-the-line special-order took-me-months-to-save-up jobby like a mates.

            [1] CNN - Cheap and nasty, like the 'news' network (does their "c" stand for 'criminal" or "corrupt"?)

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Oops

              Cool! Another stalky downvoter session!

              Think I'm seeing a pattern here too.. When I post a contrary message to a certain person in one thread, a dozen posts get downvoted in another...

              Please keep it up! With your help, I may yet reach 2,000 downvotes before I get 10,000 up :)

    2. Imhotep

      Re: Oops

      Extemporaneous arc welding is a pretty dramatic event. More drama than anyone actually needs in their life.

      1. J. Cook Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Oops

        Kind of like the copper panel with the notch in it from this picture?

        http://sub-ether.dreamhosters.com/gallery/d/26026-2/AUSTIN002.jpg

        There's a story behind that notch, although I wasn't there when it happened.

      2. Kiwi Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Oops

        Extemporaneous arc welding is a pretty dramatic event. More drama than anyone actually needs in their life.

        Depends.. You handling the probes? Yes, I agree. But when it's some muppet who you've just tried to point out a mistake too but they've shouted you down with "I know what I'm doing, I'm a fucking electrical engineer unlike you!" - that makes the experience a whole new level of "fun". Especially when it's something expensive that they have to replace :)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Confused, what or who is DP. Seems to have popped up mid story. Presume some management level but for the protagonist or for the bank?

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      I'll hazard a guess at the Director of Processing.. Could be like a CDO ( Chief Data Officer).

      It's ony a guess because I really don't know either, must be a banking thing.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Old Fogie remembers

        DP > Data Processing manager, from a time when batch processing was 'the' job done by computers.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Old Fogie remembers

          I bet a lot more work got done per cpu cycle in those days.

          xkcd

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: a lot more work got done per cpu cycle in those days

            They had to.

            If I remember right, the mainframes I started on in 1979 had a 20 MHz clock. They had a pipe line and did parts of 3 instructions in parallel. Although the first part was just loading the instruction, but still faster than each part alone, one after the other.

            1. swm Silver badge

              Re: a lot more work got done per cpu cycle in those days

              My first machine, an LGP-30, did about 60 instructions/second. By optimumly placing instructions and operands it was possible to go a blinding 200 instructions/second or more. The first time sharing system machine(s) I worked on were a GE-235 (80,000 instructions/second) and a DN-30 (70,000 instructions/second. The second time sharing system I worked on had a GE-635 with about 500,000 instructions/second.

              I am typing this on an AMD quad core with orders of magnitude more instructions/second. I don't feel that there is orders of magnitude speed improvement.

              1. Kiwi Silver badge
                WTF?

                Re: a lot more work got done per cpu cycle in those days

                I don't feel that there is orders of magnitude speed improvement.

                There is.

                The problem is, for every thousand IPS we improve in speed, our software needs 2,000 to run.

                Not to many years back I could have the OS, a few videos, and a web browser with several tabs open inside of 300mb of ram. I don't think I can do the same with 8GB of RAM today. And when the RAM runs out, so does any hint of speed.

                Sent a dozen emails (mail merge) with photographs of a project I've just completed. 12 emails, just over 2mb of images in the messages (going to people who requested updates). Oddly the "low disk space" warning came up during the sending, and I watched as the space rapidly dropped from a little over 2gb to just under 100MB before quickly climbing back as the outbox emptied.

                Double the size of the pictures then double again - 8mb. Allow another 2mb for the text content (way over), that's 10mb total per message (at least 3 times the actual amount). 10 people would give 100mb, double that to 200mb and we're still only at 1/10th of the amount of disk space that was used. What the hell was using so much space?

                So here's why we don't have much nicer things. A puny little job takes gigs of space and millions of CPU cycles where the same job used to take bytes of ram and a couple of dozen cycles...

            2. Benson's Cycle

              Re: a lot more work got done per cpu cycle in those days

              That was modestly fast. The basics in those days consisted of load, unpack instruction into microcode, and then execute. The problem was that memory access for data blocked the instruction prefetch, which is why some CPUs of those days had instructions which worked on actual blocks of numbers or characters; otherwise the instruction load got in the way of the data processing. This was the joke with the 8088 versus the 8086; the number of cycles given for each instruction could be made irrelevant by the number of memory accesses needed with the 8 bit bus.

  5. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    I take it TSB has a regular cheese 'n' nibbles party with their IT supplier?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Isn't cheese supposed to give you nightmares?

      1. Imhotep

        Try minced meat pie, as made in the old days with fermented meat. Strange dreams and an excuse for strange - even muderous - behavior. Merry Christmas!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          minced pies

          Try the pie, just don't get a shave at Mr. Todd's barbershop

  6. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Nice to read this

    I'd almost forgotten there was a time when banks were full of real people.

    Oh and I still have a cheque book, and use it especially to annoy faceless organisations... like the inland revenue.

    1. Tweetiepooh

      Re: Nice to read this

      To really annoy cheque processing:

      If your branch is in Wales, get a bilingual cheque book and fill them in in Welsh. The report I had was someone had to phone the branch and spell out the amount in words (numbers are pretty much the same). And the bigger the amount the more words the more spelling. And sometimes Welsh has multiple ways you can write amounts 20 can be dauddeg or hugain (ugain) - I think the latter is closer to the old form of score - so 40 can be pedwardeg (4 tens) or deugain (2 twenties).

      Just make sure you get it right. (Sorry for any spelling errors above, it's been a long time since I used the language of Heaven)

      1. qwertyuiop

        Re: Nice to read this

        Hmmm... lovely story, but surely cheques require you to fill in the amount in both words and numbers. It's a long time since I used the little Welsh I know, and even longer since I learned any, but I'm pretty sure they use Arabic numerals like everybody else! Or do they have to check (no pun intended) that words and numbers are the same?

        1. kmedcalf

          Re: Nice to read this

          Yes, the words and numbers must agree. That is why a cheque is written containing both words and numbers. If they disagree the instrument is invalid. This is done because when written properly it makes changing the "amount" of the instrument easily detectable. I remember being taught how to properly write a pay-on-demand negotiable instrument by my father when I was a lad.

          1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Nice to read this

            kmedcalf - "Yes, the words and numbers must agree."

            And the payee's name must match the account name on a crossed cheque. But, somehow, this didn't stop my bank depositing the cheque I posted them into the payers account (at the same bank) instead of mine. The payer informed me, I complained to the bank (cc Banking Ombudsman) and it got corrected, with compensation, but I wouldn't advise relying on bank staff being properly trained and diligent, nowadays.

            1. J. Cook Silver badge

              Re: Nice to read this

              The parental unit had this happen to her a number of years ago. wrote a check for ten dollars, some joker at the store managed to squeeze in an extra zero on the numbers portion of the check, and cratered her bank account until she raised a giant stink with both the bank and the store in question.

              my mom... was an absolute professional at the practice of kiting checks back in the 80's up to when they finally started processing checks electronically at the stores. (by 'kiting checks' meaning writing a check for more money then was currently in the account, mailing it in, and in the transit time, putting additional money into the account so it would clear when the check was processed. a classic example is writing a check for something that's due the day before payday- by the time the check gets put into the banking system, (usually a day or two), payday's come and presto, there's money in there to cover the check.)

              I think the last time I wrote a check was a couple years ago. the silly things still have my old address on them.

              1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
                WTF?

                Re: Kiting Cheques -- passing dud cheques

                Several French colleagues over the years have told me the French Government guarantees the full amount of all French personal cheques.

                1. David Shaw

                  Re: Kiting Cheques -- passing dud cheques

                  @WSG

                  except, re:French cheques, I gave mine up in the early nineties when Credit Agricole mentioned casually to me that writing a cheque for slightly more than was in the account had become a criminal offence in France.

                  I can see why the gov might guarantee them, (much like how in the EU our governments are responsible for car insurance in case of incident when your car transits another EU/EFTA country, the number plate has effectively become the 'green card'.... allegedly)

              2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: Nice to read this

                "the practice of kiting checks back in the 80's"

                When I worked retail in the early 80s we had a number of large account customers who would write cheques, then stop them before we could bank them (one had a wife who would do this regularly after he'd paid us) - which cost us about $50 a shot

                SOP became to keep them busy chatting in the front of the store, whilst one of the junior staff nipped out the back and around the corner to the bank branch branch to deposit the cheque _immediately_ and ensure that the money had actually been deposited. Ideally we'd present them at the issuing branch with suitable company ID for cash.

                Passing them to debt collection at the time usually meant taking a bath so getting the money _somehow_ was the most important thing. By the end of the 80s it was easier to simply limit credit, refuse their business or finally be able to add T&C on debt collection allowing us to add "costs and interest" terms (up to that point the debtor could never owe more than the original payment, even when the collectors might charge for their services, so they'd either do it on commission or buy outright at 5%

                Kiting was usually small fry stuff - and if someone asked us to hold off presenting for a day or so, we generally would if they were known.

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Nice to read this

              "I wouldn't advise relying on bank staff being properly trained and diligent, nowadays."

              The younger staff are likely to have never (or very rarely) processed a cheque other than when being initially trained. I have the same issue when I need to show my driving licence. Younger staff members often have not seen an old style paper licence or think it's no longer a legal document.

            3. KBeee
              Unhappy

              Re: Nice to read this

              It's a shame the name is no longer used in electronic bank transfers, just the account number and the sort code. It would have stopped this poor chaps £193,000 inheritance going astray.

              https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/dec/07/i-lost-my-193000-inheritance-with-one-wrong-digit-on-my-sort-code

            4. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Nice to read this

              I wouldn't advise relying on bank staff being trained nowadays

              FTFY

              They just do what the computer tells them. ("says nooo")

          2. Imhotep

            Re: Nice to read this

            And the line immediately after the amounts - the meganegabar.

        2. herman Silver badge

          Re: Nice to read this

          Hmm, a funny fact is that Arabs do not use Arabic numerals. Only 1 and 9 are sorta, kinda the same, the rest not even remotely.

          1. Benson's Cycle

            Re: Nice to read this

            That's because Arabic numerals are actually Hindu numerals.

          2. Vincent Ballard

            Re: Nice to read this

            The Arabic 5 is close enough to a European 0 to cause some interesting confusion.

            1. stiine Silver badge

              Re: Nice to read this

              Well, that explains the price of oil.

    2. Dvon of Edzore
      IT Angle

      Re: Nice to read this

      [Old person alert]

      People, yes indeed. At one point in my early career I was admitted to the exchange processing room, located behind a nondescript door on an upper floor of a bank building, which is now a lovely hotel. Within that room all checks received in the region were sorted and balanced between the respective institutions so at the end of the day the net funds could be transferred between the banks involved. This was done by trusted persons seated at custom wooden tables a bit more than a yard wide with low back and side walls to keep things from falling off the edge, and a motorized mechanical adding machine with printed paper tape for storing the numbers. The stacks of sorted paper instruments were then bundled into sacks to forward to their respective institutions. All told the business of the twentieth-largest city in the US was handled every day by fewer than a dozen individuals.

      This was around 1980, and I was there to install their first electronic computer - a machine with less power than the original Raspberry Pi and costing as much as a luxury automobile. (Frankly I trusted the adding machines more but that wasn't my call.)

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Nice to read this

        "Frankly I trusted the adding machines more"

        The ones in the Belfast carbon dating lab were prone to jamming.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Nice to read this

          "Frankly I trusted the adding machines more"

          The ones in the Belfast carbon dating lab were prone to jamming.

          I think I'd love to have seen that. What sort of music did they play, and did they use any, let's just say "plant-based chemical enhancements"?

          Yeah yeah I'm going.. Hairy Syphilis etc etc etc..

    3. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: and use it especially to annoy faceless organisations... like the inland revenue.

      Don't do a Lester Piggott though.

  7. Evil Auditor Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    This is, at least to some part, how you create and maintain a healthy company culture.

    1. Andytug Silver badge

      Exaclty...

      If you discourage people from being honest and owning up, it often takes longer to fix things.

      Managers need to be very careful what they wish for, hitting people over the head with statistics is another one that can often drive poor behaviour.

  8. TonyJ Silver badge

    When I ran a team of architects, I always fessed up to issues and problems and would never throw them under the bus.

    I didn't generally care what hours they kept or where they worked from, providing of course, that if they were needed on site they attended and of course, that the work got done.

    Also, I wanted to hear of any problems, issues or gotchas first, before I got the calls and emails from customers.

    Funnily enough, being able to say to a customer "yup we done fucked up...but here's what happened, here's what we've done/are doing to put it right and here's what we will do to make sure it doesn't happen again" almost always stalled them in their righteous anger. Of course, you still got the odd one who wanted blood but hey ho.

    It's not rocket science - treat those who work for you with respect and foster an enviroment of trust and you tend to get the best out of them.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      It used to be called Quality a long time ago - a fuckup is a learning process and the clean-up should update the Quality process too where necessary. Alas Quality doesnt seem to count at management level - even after they've seen it save them half their budget.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The problem management have with Quality is that someone may apply it to them !

      2. Black Betty

        Why would I fire you?

        I just spent a million dollars teaching you a lesson you'll never forget.

  9. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    The kind of boss I like to work with

    You admit your mistake and, instead of chewing you out for fifteen minutes he rides in with the cavalry and coordinates everything so things can be set straight again. If, after all is said and done, I get my chewing out in his office I will meekly accept it because it was my fault. And I will sincerely regret having made the mistake because I will realize that he put himself on the line instead of offering me up as a sacrifice.

    In such an environment, if I got a call to help as happened here, I would drop everything else and rush to respond - not because of the client or the problem or even the colleague, but because I would know the boss is counting on me and I would not want to disappoint him.

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: The kind of boss I like to work with

      In such a situation, I too would rush to assist but not because of any of the things you've listed. I'd do it because I know it's possible that I would be in the same situation and I'd like my colleagues to be sympathetic. A bit of good karma goes a long way.

      1. Dave Pickles

        Re: The kind of boss I like to work with

        A PHB of mine from long ago (now sadly deceased) had a saying "a mistake is evidence that someone has attempted to achieve something".

    2. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: The kind of boss I like to work with

      There's little that endears you more to diverse group of people than walking into a room and cutting through the "wasn't me", "why didn't you" and "they should have" with a simple "We need to get this done. Here's a plan, tell me how we can improve it, let's get on with it."

      Sure, we can come back afterwards and assess root causes, and that may identify opportunities at an individual level, but that can also be managed sensibly.

      1. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: The kind of boss I like to work with

        THIS.

        I am fond of saying "Look, there's plenty of time to play the blame game LATER. Let's fix this NOW and deal with figuring out who's hand/head/appendage is on the block after it's all sorted."

        Current boss is very much like that as well, as is his boss.

      2. jtaylor

        Re: The kind of boss I like to work with

        Years ago, I was a field tech in the financial industry.

        One particular Major Financial Company was known for both strict adherence to detailed procedures and for following any major problem by firing someone pour encourager les autres. Their technical staff were excellent until upper management walked in. Then they'd scatter, devil take the hindmost.

        A few minutes into any troubleshooting call, we'd be interrupted by some VP at $Major who demanded to know what broke, why it wasn't fixed yet, and who broke it. I learned to thank them for coming to help, explain the problem at a high level, and give my name and company. Then I'd say that my job was to get them back up ASAP, and for that we needed a separate conversation that was purely technical. Fire me tomorrow, but tonight we have work to do. It worked.

        To this day, I don't know if my manager stopped all those lightning bolts or if the shouty VPs saw me as a useful idiot and realized that nobody wanted to take my place.

        1. Long John Brass Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: The kind of boss I like to work with

          I have often recommended during a major cluster-fuck that the manglement teams and the engineers hold different conference calls.

          Works a treat... Except for the boor dumb bastard that has to jump between calls or have two phones to their skulls as they have to keep reporting back to the manglement team as to current progress.

          1. A K Stiles Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: The kind of boss I like to work with

            That's exactly the job my old manager had (when I worked in finance). Occasionally 'it' hit the fan and the development team would set to diagnosing the problem, formulating a solution and then implementing it as quickly as possible. He would essentially go and stand in the door to the director's office and stop them from coming over to 'check how we were getting on'.

            A top man that I have bought many beers for over the years, and would happily do so again. He was also quite happy to stand a round or two.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: The kind of boss I like to work with

          "why it wasn't fixed yet"

          "It isn't fixed yet because I'm spending my time talking to you and the previous ten others. When you're ready to have it fixed the door's behind you."

          1. Long John Brass Silver badge

            Re: The kind of boss I like to work with

            "why it wasn't fixed yet"

            I once managed to piss off a head trader by saying; Look, I can stay on the phone while you yell and scream at me! Or I can call you back once I have fixed the problem. But I can't do both.

            Which would you like me to do? He slammed the phone down while swearing a fit :)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I come from the Nuclear Industry...

    ... and the guy holding the wrench (or voltage probe) is ALMOST NEVER at fault.

    If the working class had his permits, and working on the right gear, he's 99% clear beforehand. His BOSS will get an earlobe stretching and heated massage, while sending the tech back to Training.

    It usually turns into a best practices exercise, like checking if your meters are set to voltage or current before applying them, and become enforceable part of the procedures.

    A single one of these can (and almost did) knock our own facility down, when it turned the reading of the CORE temperature sensor to "dead cold" forcing the automated system to react and "heat things up".

    A quick shout (more like distressed scream) at the Public Announcement system from the Control Room Operator to "disengage all reactor's temperature sensors probing" was heard on-site and saved a costly 72-hour reactor shutdown.

    PS. Yes it had a 3-voting sensor system, with 3 thermocouple sensors. Yes, one was kaput, and yes, the tech was there to fix it and probed the wrong ones with current setting, grounding them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I come from the Nuclear Industry...

      Got an NRC/IAEA Event Number or for that one?

      I'm morbidly curious about all things atomic, including the weird ones like "Backhoe operator rolled over nuclear camera." or "Concrete poured over exposed source at building site."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I come from the Nuclear Industry...

        Yes it does have an IAEA (and WANO) number, but I'm not at liberty to divulge, even as an ex-employee, because it would reveal both the Operator Company and probably my identity.

        While it was logged as an "incident", that would cause a safe shutdown, it could be spun as bad PR, and ultimately the safety was not compromised in any moment.

        But yes, people with clearance can discuss the event openly.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I come from the Nuclear Industry...

          Completely understandable, given our global media circus loves to disregard physics and facts when a story can be made.

          Have a pint, and a three eyed fish-n-chips!

  11. Paul Herber Silver badge

    Somebody once moved my cheese ...

    1. AIBailey Silver badge
      1. Paul Herber Silver badge

        Someone from Bath, goes by the name Oliver ...

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Coat

      I hope that's not a euphemism.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I had to read that book for a management course once.

      Now I'm having flashbacks... is this what PTSD feels like?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I had to endure the cartoon version, and I did so enjoy asking the conslutant if it was a legal copy because it was so badly duplicated. Hey, if you inflict that kind of crap on me, I'm going to have me some fun too.

        Be afraid - there's supposedly a 3D CGI animated version now.

  12. OGShakes

    Being honest always pays

    I worked for a small MSP where everything was about being honest with the customer, offering reasonable recompense when we dropped the ball and always warning if there was a risk to be aware of with any job. This caused all the customers to trust us more with things after a cock up as they knew we were on the level with them.

    1. dak

      Re: Being honest always pays

      "a small MSP" - Nicola Sturgeon?

      1. Trollslayer Silver badge

        Re: Being honest always pays

        You beat me to it!

      2. peter_dtm
        Alert

        Re: Being honest always pays

        a small MSP where everything was about being honest

        So can’t have been any politician, especially Sturgeon

  13. Maximum Delfango
    Pint

    Christmas present

    For Christmas could anyone reading this please give me an upvote?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Christmas present

      Only if you put up another post so we can all downvote that one, to equalise the karma...

      It's important that we don't bugger up the delicate balance of the universe just to fulfill your need for happiness.

      1. Psmo Bronze badge
        Windows

        Re: Christmas present

        Dunno, karmic balance seems pretty fucked already.

      2. Benson's Cycle

        Re: Christmas present

        You cannot equalise karma; good or bad it's all karma. It's basically the Buddhist version of entropy.

        That's why the universe steadily gets worse.

    2. Maximum Delfango
      Thumb Up

      Re: Christmas present

      May I take the opportunity to thank each and every one of you who voted. It’d be nice to stay in touch, so please feel free to leave names and addresses below.

  14. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Human nature

    After working a couple of 18 hour days to sucessfully fix a serious bug in a device that we had just sold to a major customer, my marketing guy told me that at the end of the day he was quite pleased that there had been a bug. He explained that a company that sells a faulty product but puts it right quickly is considered to be better than a company that sold a completely flawless product in the first place. In the latter case the company has done no more than was expected, but in the former case the company performed better than was expected in its handling of the problem, and is thus better regarded.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dropped a metal cover?

    Was it a smooth jazz rendition of Metallica?

  16. Chris King Silver badge
    Coat

    Cheese and wine... One of 'em anyway...

    So it's coming up to Christmas, an academic wanders in to my office and throws his coat open like a flasher mac.

    "Oh my God, what have I done to deserve this ?" I asked myself. Then I noticed he was fully-clothed and there was a bottle in each of the inner pockets.

    "Thanks for everything you've done this year - would you like a bottle of red or white ?"

    (Yesh, it'sh the one with pocketsh big enough to take Clanking Bottlesh of Joy - hic !)

  17. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    Ah, cheese

    digests everything except itself.

  18. gnarlymarley Bronze badge

    His response? "It was due to me facing up to him, to be in his office to tell him when he arrived and that we had stayed there till it was resolved."

    I miss the days when honesty was rewarded. Now a days, folks would rather murder their customers for doing something wrong, even when the business is at fault.

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