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This is a question Oldies vs Computers

As someone who is "good with computers" I get a lot of calls from people who've got problems. Some of them even have problems with their computers.

Back many years ago working for a telecoms company, I was called to a senior secretary who "had put a disk into the drive and couldn't get it out". She had one of the first Mac II machines with two drive slots. But only one drive.

Opening up the case revealed stacks of floppy disks that she'd been posting through the hole in the case for weeks. She'd only decided there was a problem when her boss wanted one of them back...

(, Fri 22 Sep 2006, 13:58)
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This question is now closed.

I have a little experience with Oldies and computers..


Where I used to work, I wasn't officially employed to do tech support. However, they had nearly 900 PCs and three (I am not joking) support staff. As I am sure you can understand, they got a little busy.

Anyway, I digress. I got a phone call from the boss's secretary. She was having trouble getting some files off floppy disk.

I went over to the other building and had a look. What had actually happened is that, for some reason, she had numbered her files, and had set up an index file to match the numbers with the file name. She could not access the index.

Sadly, I couldn't retrieve the file, and could only nag her about the importance of naming files logically, and backing up.

Another old boss (in another job) thought he knew about computers. Admittedly, in this case, the software is to blame as well.

I was working for a "freight forwarding agents" (we prepared any documentation needed to import/export goods). We had a computer that we used to prepare a lot of the customs documentation. It was done on computer partly because it saved time, and partly because customs required that we store details of shipments for up to 5 years, and they demanded 24 hour access to it. The computer was attached to a modem, so they could access it remotely.

Now, one of my jobs at the end of each week was to get the computer to list any shipments that were over 5 years old. I then had to go through the list and check there were no outstanding queries on each one. There never were any outstanding queries, but I was required to check.

I could then delete the ones with no queries.

One day, my boss decided to do it. He found nice range of shipment numbers to delete, so he used the function for this. It required that you enter a start number and an end number. He did this, but the wrong way round, and left the computer to do it's stuff (it could take some time if there was a lot to delete).

When he came back to it, the computer was busy deleting a whole load of shipments that were not in the range he specified.

Guess what? We had no usable backups.

So, he muttered something about bad design, hit the "abort" button and asked me to re-enter all the recent shipments. Several weeks (and thousands of shipments) later, I was still there.
(, Mon 25 Sep 2006, 15:07, Reply)
Doctors are Wankers
Monday morning, technical support line for GP Surgery Software, dithering angry Shipman type doctor rings up from some Manchester surgery, shouting and generally being an arse as ALL doctors are, conversation goes like this :

Me : Whats the..
Doctor : You lot are usless, i can never get a straight answer, can you help me?
Me : Whats the..
Doctor : phah, i knew i was wasting my time, wot wot, don't you know who i am?
Me : Not yet, Whats the..
Doctor : don't get uppety with me, i want to to fix my problem..
Me : Whats the..

yada yada yada, 10 minutes pass while he bitches and moans about the shit level of service he gets, etc, finally...

Me : Whats the problem sir?
Doctor : No-one can log on to the server, can u see what the problem is?
Me : Whats on the server screen at the moment?
Doctor : How am i supposed to know? you're the technician.
Me : i just need you to check whats on the screen to help me with diagnosis
Doctor : dear lord, it's in a locked office, how inconvienient this is, i'll have to get the key

yada yada yada another 10 minutes while he gets the equally snotty receptionist to find a key, who's also bitching about us in the background until..

Doctor : right, we have a key, lets see......
Me : Hello?
Me : Hello?
Doctor : Right *sheepishly* we've found the problem, we've had a break in. the server is missing.

There was then another 25 minute conversation while i tried to explain "no, we couldn't get your appointment data as it was ON the server that was now in the boot of some charvers' Nova in Manchester somewhere and that it wasn't a good practice to leave your BACKUP tapes IN the server....

Happy Days
(, Mon 25 Sep 2006, 15:05, Reply)
i don't know how long we have
buying correct components (esp for elderly relatives) is vital. I feel that the vast number of good suggestions are being ignored, and this, sadly has no real potential for humour.

Still very disappointed by the censoring of the guy proposing me for president.

Maybe we'll soon have bbc3ta, where nothing outside the approved format will be approved.

However - this has given me my most popular answer yet (bottom of page 2 fellow non-geeks), beating my drugs story which came 3rd on the best of page so it's not all bad!
(, Mon 25 Sep 2006, 15:04, Reply)
Slightly deviating from the topic in question....
It's not always Oldies who are daft with computers - some of the so called members of the proffesion I have had the peril to work with in the last 20 years have made some of these pensioners look positively genius.

Probably the greatest idiot I ever worked with was Derek. I worked for the European Space Agency in Germany back in the early 90's as a mainframe operator looking after the METEOSAT weather sattelite system, and Derek was one of my colleagues. Derek was a tad unlucky - he had the worst stutter, a gammy leg so he kind of lurched all around the place, and was completely devoid of any common sense or confidence, and in the event of a situation would literally run around flapping like a chicken whose head had been just removed. In short, he was the worst sort of person to be around when you have a multi million pound sattelite drifting aimlessly out of orbit because a FEP computer is down.

In the corner of the computer room we had a robot tape system - for those in IT this was not an enclosed unit, but instead a load of IBM 3490E tape drives, a load of rotating towers which stored all the cartridges, and in the middle, a bloody great big robot arm which would swing around retrieving the cartridges then loading them in the drives. For safety the unit was enclosed and entry was only permitted with the machine in dormant mode.

One day, I'm ask to go into the area as some burk has lost a cartridge (having 2 sequences with the suffix 01 and O1 probably didn't help matters) - the robot worked on barcodes on the tapes but for ad-hoc tapes it could be told what tape was being imported and it would memorise its location - this of course was an ad-hoc cartridge so muggins gets the shitty task of going in to look through about 20,000 cartridges for this errant beast.

As I am leaving the 'fish bowl' to undertake this tiresome task, Derek pipes up he wants to shut down the robot from the mainframe. Now this is a very stupid idea for 3 reasons:

1. The command under JES2 was very long and impossible to remember, whilst it was simply an option from the main menu on the controlling PC next to the Robot.

2. By using the PC to shutdown the robot, you could properly tell when it was shutdown and thus safe to enter the area.

3. Why the bloody hell would I entrust my safety to this bumbling idiot?

Naturally he started flapping, but I put my foot down and told him I would do it. So after a few choice words in his direction I went to the system, shut it down and spent a fruitless hour in the pen trying to find this errant media.

Fast forward to the next shift and I walk into the tea room before work to find my other two colleagues in fits of laughter, and it took several minutes to get any sense out of their cause of mirth. Lynton, my shift leader proceeded to question me on if I had read anything by Isaac Asimov, specifically the I robot books - for those that are unaware robots abide by three basic rules:

A robot may not harm a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

It seems that after I had left for the day, Derek was not satisfied with my efforts so had gone to the mainframe console and entered the long-winded shutdown command into the robot. He then lurched into the computer room, opens the door and enters the pen - the robot then responds to a tape mount request as obviously he has entered the command incorrectly, but we think more adhering to rule 3, see his domain invaded by another machine and promptly 1 and a half tons of Robot arm swings into action and belts him clean on the arm, knocking him flying. At the time, Lynton and Bob had noticed his absence and cracked a joke about the rule, only for Derek to come lurching in, blood all down his arm saying "I th-th-th-think I ha-ha-ha-have had an ac-ac-accident!". The prat.

Anyway what became of Derek - well what only happens when you are that incompetant in IT - they promoted him. Me I didn't stick around much longer, and returned to England. I still think back to those halcyon days, and raise a glass to that robot - I just wish it had been just a bit more accurate.
(, Mon 25 Sep 2006, 14:50, Reply)
Supporting desktops for a large high street bank.

Call comes in - drove 90 miles to a small Yorkshire town for a monitor fault.

Turned the brightness up.

Drove back.
(, Mon 25 Sep 2006, 14:49, Reply)
my technophobe dad
my dad thinks that switching the computer off at the mains will sort out his problems. IT FUCKING DRIVES ME INSANE!
(, Mon 25 Sep 2006, 14:44, Reply)
An easy mistake
My grandma was having problems so I agreed to go round and help her out. She'd been trying to log on to the Net but simply couldn't get anything.

When I arrived, a strange man was sitting in her easy chair. He was wearing a pin-stripe suit and was carrying a suitcase. He looked a little nervous.

"Oh, Gran!" I said. "You've gone and bought a COMMUTER, not a COMPUTER!"

"I thought I had a lot of trouble fitting the printer plug in the jack!" she replied.

We laughed so much that we died.
(, Mon 25 Sep 2006, 14:35, Reply)
time for oldie revenge methinks...
ok so maybe not oldie, but computers definitely lose points here.

so i'm at school, and im not the most computer literate, but y'know, i've got better things to be doing with my life than working out how computers work...


i need to use the scanner.
i follow the little instructions they ever so helpfully put on the side of said scanner.
doesnt work.
i fiddle around the toolbar, see if i can figure it out intuitively.
ho hum... IT techy ahoy!

he's playing need for speed underground, so i assume he's quite busy, and wait for a minute or so.

'yea i cant work out how to use the scanner, could you help please?'

cue IT techy doing EXACTLY what i did, try to figure it out using the toolbar.

'sorry mate, i dont really know what to suggest'

i am SO glad, that at a grammar school,
where so much emphasis is placed on IT,
sometimes to the extent that you're not allowed to hand-write essays,
the IT technicians do less of a job than i do.
and they get paid.


the end.
(, Mon 25 Sep 2006, 14:30, Reply)
My Dad........
bought a computer

for 3 months, he thought everyone on the net was black and looked like him.
(, Mon 25 Sep 2006, 14:27, Reply)
im a tech dude and have actually done this
"Yeah - the internet will be closed for the next two days whilst they flush the cables. Make sure you dont leave your phone off the hook or you might have some water shoot out".

I'm so bored now i dont even care if they believe me or not.
(, Mon 25 Sep 2006, 14:15, Reply)
I'm the baby of the family and I'm in IT so my brother and sister often call me for support issues. I'm really a programmer but this doesn't stop them thinking I know everything about their PCs.

The worst time was when my sister called me about some problem she was having. I sorted it out over the phone and she dutifully read out "Turn off your computer". Admittedly, she'd never seen this message before as she'd bought a PC just after they started turning themselves off.

"What do I do now?" she asked.

"Turn off your computer," I answered, trying to keep my temper, as she tends to get upset when I shout. "Then wait ten seconds and turn it back on."


We wait.

"It's still there! That message telling me to turn off the computer. It's still there."

"What?" Penny drops. I spend 10 minutes explaining the difference between a computer and a monitor.

She knows better now. I think.
(, Mon 25 Sep 2006, 14:07, Reply)
Our Nan called me to go round and install her new computer.
Turned out some bastad had sold her a broken microwave.
(, Mon 25 Sep 2006, 13:55, Reply)
So funny
I had a Pentium Athlon and I tried to run Microsoft Unix, only to find that I needed a Banyan Onion with a Doohickey Dilbert. Oh how we laughed.

I'm not sorry in the slightest about that one as all the other posts are same-y after the first 3....
(, Mon 25 Sep 2006, 13:49, Reply)
College employees
many years ago I worked at the local college. Many people really couldn't grasp the whole IT thing, I was sent to remove many things from floppy drives, may favourite being someones visa card (where they trying to buy online, I don't know).

My favourite stort was told to me by an ex council Techie. The story go's that a councillors secretary rings up and tells him that she has spilt coffee into a keyboard. "Has it got sugar in it?" - "No she replies", "Ok then quickly swill it under cold water and let it dry out for a day or so - it should be OK". Two hours later a rather irate councillor rings up and says "which twat told my secretary to swill my latop in the sink?"
(, Mon 25 Sep 2006, 13:47, Reply)
Overheard only this morning in the department next to mine.
The Manager (quite old so he qualifies for this question!) came out of the office complaining that an important document had gone missing from the shared network drive - someone must have deleted it. He went round all his staff and made them look in their recycle bins for the missing document. Even after a few of the staff had observed that all the stuff in the bin was from the C: drive, he carried on.
(, Mon 25 Sep 2006, 13:29, Reply)
My gran and my pc
My dad wanted to encourage my gran to try out my pc. So after much badgering her to do so and having told her it was like a type writer she finally gave in.

Using word she typed "THERE I'VE DONE IT" and then left it to go back to drinking Gin in her armchair.

Given the choice I'd have done that too.
(, Mon 25 Sep 2006, 13:13, Reply)
IT dept propaganda
Few years back my GF was doing a degree at Northampton uni. Whilst checking her email at home there was a message from the head of IT for her faculty. It advised about a new virus doing the rounds and that all students should search for a delete a certain file.

She does this and shock horror next time the PC won't start up! I sorted it out by using DOS to reinstate the file from another PC.

However this left the question, of what happened... after seeing the email I suggested she speak to the "head of IT" who sent it.

Turns out of the 500 or so students it was sent to, since it WAS from the head of IT, about 300 had actually deleted the file and in so doing cocked up their PC's. Most of them lost their coursework etc and everyone got extensions to deadlines. Including my GF, which she used to watch daytime tv and waste time.

Moral of the story: Middle aged stupid women do not make ideal heads of IT departments.
(, Mon 25 Sep 2006, 13:07, Reply)
Diagonal lines in Excel
During one IT lecture back in college ('00) I sat and watched another senior lecturer working on a huge spreadsheet. He hadn't found the diagonal line in the cell border properties, so he was copying and pasting a diagonal line into hundreds of cells.

He also didn't realise that once you had copied something once, you didn't have to copy it again. He was constantly swapping between two spreadsheets to copy then line then swapping back to paste it.

I found it very amusing and happily let him struggle and gradually get more frustrated for the whole one and a half hours I was there.
(, Mon 25 Sep 2006, 13:01, Reply)
How To Backup
I work in the puter business and this one was told to me by an old boss who had been working with computers for 30 years.

His favorite story was of a lady who was an accounting clerk back in the early 80's when a desk computer was a massive green monitor with a very clacky keyboard and a big thick network cable that ran back to a computer room the size of a football pitch.
Said lady's company had just gone technical and as such she had her typewritter replaced with a computer screen, the monitor had a floppy drive in it and the installing engineer told her that she must take a copy of this disk every night as a back up and then he left her to it.

Fast forward 2 years and suddenly theres a major problem with the computer and an engineer is called, he spends a couple of days trying to solve the problem and eventually is forced to go to the backup, so he asks the lady if she has been making backups and could he have them. she says that she has been doing so religously for the last 2 years and points in the direction of some filing cabinets against the far wall, he opens the cabinet to find several hundrend sheets of paper with photocopied pictures of the disk on them all daeted and signed.

it turns out in fact that she had ordered the filing cabinet for the purposes of filing these photocopies because her desk draw had got full with them. He never did tell me what happened to her, but maybe this is the reason some of us techies can be a bit patronising and pedantic.

Length ? well once filed it fills an entire filing cabinet !
(, Mon 25 Sep 2006, 12:57, Reply)

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