* Posts by sgrier23

8 posts • joined 1 Dec 2012

I'm just not sure the computer works here – the energy is all wrong


Power? Too much Power!!!


As an ex-field engineer I have lots of stories to tell about customers 8alls ups or mistakes or unreliability between the brain and fingers or telephone.

One day I get a call from a very high-tech engineering business.

"Hello It Support" I answer.

"Ah, hello. can you help us?" the caller (male) says, "The monitor of my PC is all wobbly."

"Wobbly??" I ask

"Yes, Wobbly, like a jelly." the caller explains, "You know like a jelly. It's the picture, its all wobbly. can you help?"

"Of course I can help, what's your address?" I ask.

I got the address and headed for the van. I took my toolkit and I wondered what "Wobbly" actually meant.

I arrived onsite after a short 15minute drive. I passed through security and was left in the reception of the office, cum factory.

A few minutes after the receptionist called a number a rather harassed man in a suit rushed into the reception.

"Hello, are you here for the monitor?" I was asked.


"Good, follow me." I was told.

We walked through the office building and up a small 4-step set of stairs, along another corridor and into a windowless office.

"Look" I was told.

And lo-and-behold, I saw a monitor with a wobbly screen. It was an old-style CRT plugged into a minitower on a desk. There were another 3 similar PC in the office, the others were okay.

"Have you swapped the monitor?" I asked.


I unplugged a monitor which was working on another PC and plugged it into the PC with the wobbly monitor. This monitor appeared okay but after about 20 seconds it started to wobble like the original. I plugged the wobbly monitor into the PC with no monitor and the picture was perfect - no wobble.

I went to the van an picked up the loan monitor and video adapter I always carried with me, plugged it in to the faulty PC - there was a significant wobble on the screen. I powered off the PC and rplaced the VGA card, powered on and waited...

Wobble returned...

I swapped the VGA card back to the original and moved the PC to another desk. The display was perfect. No wobble. I moved a working PC to the desk where the faulty one was and it wobbled.

So, a faulty PC and monitor moved from one location to another and the fault didn't.

I stood for a few seconds. Another engineer from the client company entered the office, I looked at the door and could see the beginnings of the factory. I left the office and looked along the wall. Through the partition wall was a 3-phase, 415v junction box.

Aah. The solution. Power, but not in the right place. I showed the engineer the solution - to move the PC or the junction box. The elected to move the PC and the issue was fixed.


PC with the wrong time, but not really.


Many years ago I was a field service engineer for a small IT services business in central Scotland. The company received a call from a medium sized client that the time on their PC was wrong - wrong by nine minutes

An engineer was sent out with a CMOS, CR2032, battery, he duly swapped the battery and reset the time - all was well. The engineer left and an hour later the company called saying that the time was wrong again. A senior engineer visited the customer later that day, he took a motherboard and a CMOS battery. He checked and said that the motherboard was knackered and so he duly swapped it out. By this time is was end of the day for the client so left after testing the PC that the time was correct, he rebooted a few times and all was well.

The next morning the client called again. This time my box spoke to me and said, "Your good at figuring out these crazy issues. Go and fix it!"

Normally we would have 90 minutes to diagnose and fix any issue, when I asked how long I had he replied with "Just fix it!".

"Okay" I said.

I loaded the van with a power supply, another motherboard and a few different CMOS batteries. It took about 45 minutes to get from the office to the client site, I entered and spoke to the local manager. I was shown the PC and asked how long it would take to fix it.

"I don't really know, I need to figure out why the previous repairs failed and then I need to see what the problem actually is."

I disconnected the PC from the power and network and sat it on a desk in a small room away from the main office. I stripped the PC down to components and checked each. CPU was fine - no bent pins, RAM was fine - I swapped it anyway. Checked the voltages on the PSU and all were within range. I did a DIAG2000 hard-disk diagnostics and the HDD passed the tests with flying colours.

By this time it was almost lunch. I went to the managers office to say I would be going out for a little time to get lunch. The manager was okay, I asked how I was progressing. I said I still could not find the fault, but I was hoping I would get it done soon.

I looked at my watch, it said 13:15. I looked at the time on the managers PC - 13:06. Eh? Hold on a minute. I checked another PC and the time was 13:06. Right, it looked as if all the PC's had the wrong time, but no one noticed except the user who contacted us.

I went to the server room. a nice IBM box running Novel Netware 3.11. I checked the time on the server - 13:07.

Netware being Netware controls the time on the client PC's which is attached the server.

The light clicked on. I swapped out the CMOS battery - just to be sure - and reset the time.

Done, dusted and finished.

When I told my boss, he was shocked that two previous engineers - one senior - had not noticed this. I was rewarded with my normal salary and a nice bottle ok whisky.

Those were the days.

Welcome to 2019: Your Exchange server can be pwned by an email (and other bugs need fixing)


Bug Tuesday


I am always amazed that Microsoft and Adobe need to do bug fixes on a regular monthly rate. The real reason for this is that the applications were not written properly, and the testing was inadequate.

App applications have bugs - faults in the code - and proper testing should and would find these and eliminate them.

But MS and Adobe want their latest and greatest applications out there, and both of these companies - and most, if not all, allow their users to find them and tell them and hopefully the companies would fix it. But not always.

I am totally fed up with these companies updates and security fixes - some of which cause bigger problems.

I say that the companies should write their applications properly in the first place, and these issues won't happen.

Moan over.


Cray's pre-exascale Shasta supercomputer gets energy research boffins hot under collar


Wow! Does it run WIndows???

Doom at 25: The FPS that wowed players, gummed up servers, and enraged admins



Doom is a classic game. I was a junior IT support engineer in 1993 at a Further Education College. At the end of the day we disconnected our PC's (Windows 3.1) from the LAN (Netware 3.1) and play the network unsafe version of Doom.

But one day - We didn't disconnect the main LAN connection to the rest of the network...

20 minutes into the game, we got a frantic telephone call. The person on the other end of the line was the head of the Computer Studies department shouting down the line that his internet connection was very slow. We had a 128KByte Leased Line connection. He read out the MAC access of the PC which was "hogging the internet." We looked at the MAC address and realized it was the first one which was on the small network.

"We'll look into it" I said in a serious, IT service type voice.

"How long will it take to fix?" He asked.

""A few minutes, we'll need to find the PC and see what it's doing. It may be a student downloading work." I said.

"Okay..." he said.

We quickly disconnected the LAN cable, and waited a few minutes. I called him back and asked him to test it, he said it was okay now and thanked us.

Following that, we got a RED 10BaseT cable and made sure it was disconnected before we plugged in Doom.

Stiffer piracy spankings


Home Copiers

It has always bee allowed for home users to make a backup copy of any thing they purchase - music, movies. as long as they have the original at home, they can argue that the backup copy is used to keep the original safe.

How then, in the olden days, were people allowed to tape vinyl LP's and cary the recorded tape about in their Walkman.

same principle applies. if they have the original then a backup copy can be produced and that one used to play, etc.

Facebook RIPS away your veil of privacy, declares NO MORE HIDING


Factbook down forever - never to be returned

Well that it. I shall be cancelling my Facebook membership - Zuckerbery can go and jump himself!!!

Help-desk hell


Re: Virgin Media Drone

The Virgin Media helpdesk are quite frankly awful. Quite Frankly every IT service desk I have called have been more than poor - they are sh7e.

I switched off Virgin and moved to Sky - this was when you could not get sky 1 on virgin, and also I worked for the 2nd line team for Virgin (Telewest at the time).

We were constantly getting idiots on the phone and the 1st lineers basically could not deal with them- they had to get the call and logi it within 300 seconds - YES 300 seconds. after that time they were told to pass them over to us.

I remember one guy who was complaining that his internet was not working - we had been informed that British Gas had cut through the cable whilst doing their own repair. We had engineers enroute, and the ETA was approx 3 hours to complete the repair.

This guy was complaining that there was an important football match on and he could not see that either. I explained that the cable into his area was damaged and the engineers are enroute to fix it - I have him the ETA.

He said he was very angry and was wanting to watch the football. I explained that the fault was going to be repaired - but it needed time. He saidif the repair was not completed in 1 hour he was cancelling his account.

OK I said, and gave him the cancellations number.

I don't know if he called....

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