True Story
I was speaking to CW’s Dad the other day..and he told me the story of a guy wandering into their shop, looking around for a little while and eventually pulling out a prescription for orthopaedic shoes.

SW explained to the gentleman that they were not an orthopaedic shoe distributor and were in fact a specialist brush shop.  SW continued by asking for the gentleman’s prescription** and telephoned the actual orthopaedic shoe shop.  They confirmed that they were, in fact, a good 15km away.

SW asked the gentleman if he would like him to order a taxi, to which he got the following response:

“I don’t want to go there, why can’t you just get me my shoes”

Now, this is a true story about an elderly and, possibly, infirm and confused person…so shouldn’t really be mocked., but it did remind me of what happened to me, many years ago whilst in my Zero Morals phase of selling computers for a living.

Now, I worked in a BIG computer superstore in Cardiff.  At the time, this was the biggest of it’s kind outside of London.

Let me provide you with a little background information.  At the time this story takes place, the superstore had been open a little over a year.  Before that, the building was stood empty for approximately 3 years.  Before that, it was a clothes place for around 2 years and before that it was a hardware store (which moved across the street).  These facts are important.

Picture the scene; a sunny Saturday afternoon, a busy superstore full of the joys of spring and Salesmen with a spring in their step and a desire to rip people off sell them high quality equipment at very reasonable prices.  An older gentleman enters the store.  A feat not unusual by any standard, people young and old venture into the store on a regular basis…we generally referred to them as customers….or potential customers at the very least.

From my vantage point, I see the gentleman looking around the various software aisles…picking up the occasional item, reading the back and then setting it back down again.  He seems to be quite interested in a variety of software packages and I lose track of him in the printers section as I have other customers to deal with.

After 15 minutes or so, I am finished with my customers and waiting for more..when said gentlemen arrives at the PC section.  Where he looks around, clicking various mice, checking the screens and keyboards and even looking at the back of a number of the machines.  Sensing a potential sale, I approach..plastering on my best smile and charming demeanour..and ask if he needs any help.

“Thank you” replies the gentleman, at which point he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a sheet of paper.  I immediately assume that the guy is prepared, has specific requirements and will, quite possibly, begin to challenge my skills in the arena of PCs.

He unfolds the paper carefully, checks it…then hands it to me and simply says “I need what is on here”.

Checking the paper, I am confused..and realising the obvious error, I turn the paper over.  It’s blank.  I turn it back over and re-read the information written there:

  • 4 sheets hardboard – 1.5m x 1m
  • 2 dozen hardboard nails
  • 2 dozen plasterboard nails
  • Medium pot wood glue.

“ummm” says I, quite appropriately I feel.

Me: “umm, I think you may be in the wrong store sir”

Him: “What do you mean?”

Me: “Well, we don’t sell any of these items”

Him: “Eh?  What kind of a bloody DIY store is this if I can’t get some wood and nails”

Me: “Well…the Computer Superstore kind of not a DIY store”

Him: “No, this is DIY R US”

Me: “Actually, this is Computer’o’rama”

Him: “Listen to me, I have been coming here for years..I know what this place is”

Me: “Are you sure about that…maybe you have been going across the street for years?”

Him:  “Don’t you cheek me young man, I know full well where the DIY store is”

Me: “…….”

Me: “….let me get the manager”

Now I wouldn’t mind except that he wasn’t that old…nor did he appear infirm and seemed to have full control over all of his faculties.  Additionally, by the time I spoke with him, he had been in the store fast approaching 40 (quite investigative) minutes.

It took the manager, leading him to the front of the store and pointing across the road to finally get him to agree that he should go there.  However, his parting shot was “They should really tell people if they are going to move premises”…

No words…

Now, I realise that this is my first post in a very long time…and, let’s face it, there have been some false dawns in the past regarding me blogging regularly again.  So I am not going to lie to you…work is keeping me very busy and, seeing as my work involves writing very large documents on a daily basis…I often get ideas, but can’t be arsed to actually write.  Or, I start writing and then can’t follow my own train of thought.

I will say this, I will “try” and write more often again…but I make no promises.  Also, my daughter tells me that I am in trouble for my assassination of her fave Twi-related vampire story…so there could be something coming out of that.


** Not a euphemism

Travel fun

'Grupo TACA' A321 Cabin






My technology post reminded me of my journey back from the UK a couple of weeks ago, and the text above pretty much details what the audio version of this memory would be like.

I travelled to the UK for work and as such, got to experience the lovely travel experience of a decent airline.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that you get what you pay for with the likes of Ryanair etc, but it is still nice to not have to sprint to the front of the line to make sure you get a decent seat.  That said, boarding took ages due to the numpties that apparently can’t read a screen that says “Now boarding: Rows 14-22”.

Still, I had selected my seat of choice a day or so before departure (very civilised), so I wasn’t concerned about being trapped in the aisle waiting for these morons dickheads numpties lovely people to get their luggage stowed and take their seats.

I chose the aisle seat as I assumed there would be some form of delay thanks to the apparent Ice Age unfurling all over Europe and wanted to make sure I wasn’t clambering over people to get to the loo should the need arise.  Of course, the problem with being one of the first to board…and having an aisle seat means that you will get semi-comfortable before one or both of your seating buddies will turn up and need you to move.

Sure enough, a few minutes after sitting and starting to believe that my row of chairs was going to be empty aside from me, El Blobbo turns up.  Now, before you think bad of me for referring to him as such, I realise that I am of the larger persuasion myself…but this guy takes the biscuit (actually, he probably takes the whole pack…and anything else he can find that looks remotely edible)…he was certainly the kind of person that makes us bigger guys feel a whole lot better about ourselves.

Sorry, I digress.  El Blobbo has booked himself into the window I get up and allow him to squeeze into his chair (and some of the middle one too), and then take my seat again.  10 more minutes pass and I am just starting to believe that I may end up with the extra comfort of the middle seat being free, when El Techno turns up.

Fortunately (at least for the seating arrangement), El Techno makes me look like El Blobbo, so we all appear to be relatively comfortable.  El Blobbo immediately falls asleep with light (read ear bleedingly loud) snoring.  El Techno decides that the overhead storage compartments are for losers…and brings a briefcase, laptop bag, coat and a whole load of paperwork into his small seat between El Blobbo and myself.  During seating he manages to avoid hitting El Blobbo…but unfortunately hits me with, well, everything it would seem.  I get the paperwork on my lap, the coat over my head, the laptop bag and briefcase hit both of my knees with deceptive force.

Through the pain I realise that he has finally settled…and got out an iPhone to add into the mix.  So now, he is taking up more space than El Blobbo and knocking into me with monotonous regularity when swapping between the iPhone, briefcase and laptop.  Of course, it would appear that he has never travelled before as…just as I am closing my eyes and getting comfortable, I am disturbed by the stewardess to get this idiot to put his seatbelt on and take off the iPhone headset.

We then taxi (technical aviation term, we didn’t jump out and get in a black cab) to the runway..where the captain informs us that, due to the French Air Traffic Control issues….we will be a little delayed in taking off.  Of course, noone actually knows how long the delay will be, so we can’t listen to iPods or mess with computers etc…that would be far too civilised.  Instead, I am forced to listen to El Blobbos Snoring Concerto in Oh My God flat.

Eventually the French come back from their onion soup break, and we are given the all clear to set off.  El Techno is asked to take off his iPod headphones again, El Blobbo remembers to ask for his extra sized seatbelt, and we are off.  At this point, I have finished the amazing in-flight magazine and am looking around the cabin for anything of interest.  Now I come to think of it, why do they call it an in-flight magazine…it isn’t stored behind some sort of cupboard that only opens when the plane is actually on the magazine would be more acceptable surely..Anyhoo, I digress.

As the flight is only scheduled for an hour and a quarter, the crew start tearing around, trying to get the drinks and nibbles out to everyone, and I start trying to contort myself so that a) My shoulders aren’t getting hit every few seconds by the crew and trolley and b) I don’t end up in El Technos lap.  I manage to avoid sitting in his lap and the doctors assure me that I will regain full movement of my shoulder in 12-14 weeks.

It’s a busy flight so, as I have chosen the rearmost seat, I am forced to wait until last to get my free coffee and biscuit.  The snoring to my left is as loud as it has ever been until, that is, the crew get the trolley to me.  They haven’t even said a word and El Blobbo is awake and ordering a coffee, 2 orange juices, some crisps, a couple of biscuits and a roll.

El Techno declines, presumably, because any form of liquid would pose a major electrocution risk and I take a single coffee and biscuit.

As I settle in to have my coffee, I notice the guy opposite me for the first time.  I will call him Sneezy Bean McFerret as, well, he sneezed…a lot…and looked like a cross between Mr Bean and a ferret.  There were two reasons for my astute observation of this fine example of a hybrid man/ferret….#1 he was in the seat that I should have had, on his own in the entire row.  #2 was his peculiar nut eating habit.  He would rummage around in the packet…with his nose almost buried in there…pull out a single nut, look up…throw the nut into his mouth…chew, sneeze and then repeat.

Now, I am not talking a CW’esque cutesy “chu” type affair, I am talking a full on…probably slowed the plane and caused the turbulence, gale force 9, Wizard of Oz, knock over the staff and cause a number of natural disasters over Europe type of sneeze.  A sneeze so loud that it made my ears bleed and I think crashed El Technos laptop.  Honestly, it was a sneeze of comedic proportions…cartoon makers would have been fearful of basing a sneeze on this one in the fear of noone believing it.

You couple this with the rapid click click clicking from next to me and the snoring from the window and I did not have the most pleasant journey home imaginable.  I should note though, that even with all of this…and the typical latecomers trying to cram oversized suitcases into the full overhead lockers, by attempting to move and indeed crush my laptop bag…Ryanair should still pay attention about how to run a flight.

In other news…I get to do it again soon….something tells me I will be making a phone call to discuss my travelling companions in advance…they make you specify your size, the amount of technology you plan on using and if you have a FUCKING NUT ALLERGY but intend to eat them anyway….right?  RIGHT?

What to do what to do….

USB Plasma Ball
Photo by L. Marie
****WARNING: The following post contains information of a geeky nature and may not be suitable for small animals adults children bits of fluff non-geeks****

When I moved into what I am now able to term my “extended holiday”, I made the decision to move my home sytems across to linux.   I have had occasional hassles and interesting challenges in getting used to things.   I started helping people out on forums in an effort to increase my own knowledge and pass on what I have learned.   6 months down the line and I am pretty much convinced with it.   I like it, when it is working it is as good as anything else….better in most cases.

Also, I appear to have been very lucky with Ubuntu.   I don’t seem to get the issues that people all over their forums get.   Things just seem to work for me.   I am still waiting for the nightmarish catastrophe to hit.   So that’s not it.   My dual monitor setup (whilst good) has never quite worked how I want it to under Ubuntu, but I have got used to it and am generally happy with it.   So that’s not it.

The problem is, I miss certain things…certain applications that, no matter how hard I try, I have not managed to suitably replace.   I suspect that I will be moving back to *Cue scary pre-shock statement music* Windows.

I know, I know, not exactly the post of Laughing Wolf normalcy, but nevertheless…

The question is, do I go Windows 7 or Windows XP?

All logic and what passes for my intelligence suggests I should go back to XP – but recent messing around shows me that Windows 7 is actually pretty good, and in fact seems to be what Vista should have been.   That said, I have never moved to an MS operating system until it has reached Service Pack 2 stage and I am not sure it is wise to start now.   Dual booting is out…I can never be arsed to setup two operating sytems into a state I am happy with, so the 2nd one is left alone and ends up just taking up hard disk space…

The other issue…can I get used to a menu system written by Fisher Price and icons that require me to strap binoculars to my head (backwards)..just to make them a reasonable size?

Hmm – CW is off out on Saturday, so I guess I will go for it….and leave the fate of my system in the hands of “which disc will I randomly pickup first”.

Oh please god don’t make it Mac OS (DS…that’s for you ;-) )

Anyhoo, onto other matters.

Do I follow the lead of “the very bad man” and refuse to give my new colleagues my Facebook details…or do I continue my normal method of Facebook whoring?     In fairness, he has some slightly dodgy pictures on his…and mine consist of mainly normal pics of me with various women and in varying states of inebriation.

I think I have the safer option here, if I am completely honest.   That said, I do have links to this blog on there….and I am not entirely sure that I want them reading it…just yet anyway ;-)

Same with Twitter…although that is as harmless as it is useless really….so I don’t see any issue there.

I already introduced them to CW at an impromptu get together last night and discovered that they really are a great bunch here…I think I can safely say that I am going to enjoy working here.   It’s not bad to be able to say that with absolute certainty, after only 3 (well, and a half) days in a place.   So different to my last place.

Good times.

Quick update

D'oh! Guess who has a new job...
Photo by pochacco20
I realise that for the last week or so I have managed to get back roughly to my normal blogging frequency…unfortunately, this is likely to be a little more stuttered…for a little while at least.

I started my new job on Monday and, whilst it is not the worlds most taxing position I have ever held, I do need to get used to getting up early again (not a problem), with a purpose and leaving the apartment on time (a little more problematic).

Still, the people seem great, the environment is friendly and relaxed..oh, and I discovered that the “Very Bad Man!” works here with me…so I am certain that there will be occasional after work carnage from time to time.

2 days in and I am comfortable to do the job I was hired for, but it looks like I will have to wait a while to get all of my logins sorted out so that I can do it.   Wearing jeans to work feels a little strange, but I am sure I will get used to it ;-)   That said, I did get a corporate shirt to wear, so I am proudly displaying the colours of my new employer upon my chest.

The systems are pretty much what I am used to, although some of the processes are a little strange..this will come with time I suspect.   I do feel strangely tired though…walking to the train and then from the train to the office must be taking more out of me than I thought.

In other news, Zak appears to be continuing his goal-scoring ways and both him and Brandon seem to be enjoying their respective new classes at school.   I will be seeing them again around Christmas and hopefully before if I can arrange something.   I still can’t seem to remember to use Twitter when I should and I still smoke too much.   All things considered, life is pretty good right now :-)

Happy happy joy   joy

Looking back

lj icon computer games
Photo by Rachel Young
I have always worked in IT…well, except for that couple of months in a car body repair shop straight out of school…..but even then I ended up sorting their computer out.   The thing about working in any kind of service environment, but I think especially IT, is that you have to really work hard to understand that not everyone knows how to turn a computer on…or off as the case may be.

There are many urban legends surrounding IT support, some of them probably are legends and some of them have happened to me…I am sure that many other IT supporters have had these issues too.

Whilst I recognise that not understanding technology doesn’t make you stupid and as a nice way to break myself back into Tech Support mode…I think that…well…you decide:

User:   “I would like a mousemat please”
Tech: “Here you go, you can choose from these ones”
User: “Yes, but which one is compatible with my computer”

Tech: “Ok, I need you to double-click the My Computer Icon”
User: “You know, this is why I hate this Windows thing – I am protestant and don’t believe in Icons”
Tech: “It’s an industry term, I don’t believe it was intended to -”
User: “- I don’t care about industry terms…I don’t believe in icons”
Tech: “Ok, ok…then can you click the little picture that says My Computer…is ‘Little Picture’ ok?
User: “*CLICK*”

User: “My printer isn’t working”
Tech: “Ok, I need you to be a little more specific – In what way isn’t it working?”
User: “It won’t print my document”
Tech: “Is it a Word document or another program?”
User: “Program?   It’s a physical my hand”
Tech: “Ah, so it’s a scanner problem then?”
User: “Yes, scanner, that must be the problem, my scanner isn’t working”
Tech: “Do you know what model of scanner you have and could you tell me what you are doing to scan it?”
User: “Model?   I don’t know…it’s 17 inch though.   I am holding my document to the scanner and pressing print screen”
Tech: “Would this scanner be very bright and also show you words on the screen?”
User: “That’s the one”
Tech: “*ahem* I think your scanner could be broken. why don’t you bring the document to us and we can scan it for you…”

Overheard in a Service Desk office: “No sir, clicking on the ‘Remember Password’ button will not help YOU remember the password”

Tech: “If you could just close all of your open windows, we can start to find out what is going on”
User: “Ok, hang on”
User: “Done, all the windows are closed – I left the doors open though, is that ok?”
Tech: “….”

User: “I have a recycle bin on my computer…how often do Microsoft send someone round to empty it?”

Tech: “What kind of computer do you have?”
User: “A black one”

User: “I would like to buy a replacement coffee cup holder”
Tech: “Umm, sorry but this is the computer support line”
User: “I know, I broke the coffee cup holder that you supplied with my computer”
Tech: “We don’t supply coffee cup holders with our computers”
User: “Yeah you do, it pops out when you press a button”
Tech: “….”

From a tech support urban legend perspective, the following is the all time classic.   As it turns out, this is a real report…all except for the end bit (which is listed as what the technician *wanted* to say):

Tech: “Word Perfect Support; may I help you?”
User: “Yes, well, I’m having trouble with WordPerfect.”
Tech: “What sort of trouble??”
User: “Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away.”
Tech: “Went away?”
User: “They disappeared.”
Tech: “Hmm So what does your screen look like now?”
User: “Nothing.”
Tech: “Nothing??”
User: “It’s blank; it won’t accept anything when I type.”
Tech: “Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out??”
User: “How do I tell?”
Tech: “Can you see the C: prompt on the screen??”
User: “What’s a sea-prompt?”
Tech: “Never mind, can you move your cursor around the screen?”
User: “There isn’t any cursor: I told you, it won’t accept anything I type.”
Tech: “Does your monitor have a power indicator??”
User: “What’s a monitor?”
Tech: “It’s the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV. Does it have a little light that tells you when it’s on??”
User: “I don’t know.”
Tech: “Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power cord goes into it. Can you see that??”
User: “Yes, I think so.”
Tech: “Great. Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it’s plugged into the wall.”
User: “Yes, it is.”
Tech: “When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one??”
User: “No.”
Tech: “Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the other cable.”
User: “Okay, here it is.”
Tech: “Follow it for me, and tell me if it’s plugged securely into the back of your computer.”
User: “I can’t reach.”
Tech: “Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is??”
User: “No.”
Tech: “Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over??”
User: “Oh, it’s not because I don’t have the right angle – it’s because it’s dark.”
Tech: “Dark??”
User: “Yes – the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in from the window.”
Tech: “Well, turn on the office light then.”
User: “I can’t.”
Tech: “No? Why not??”
User: “Because there’s a power failure.”
Tech: “A power……… A power failure? Aha, Okay, we’ve got it licked now.   Do you still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff your computer came in??”
User: “Well, yes, I keep them in the closet.”
Tech: “Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from.”
User: “Really? Is it that bad?”
Tech: “Yes, I’m afraid it is.”
User: “Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them??”
Tech: “Tell them you’re too fucking stupid to own a computer!!!!!”

So there you have it, my life from Monday will undoubtedly   be filled with such wondrous conversations…and I am still looking forward to it :-)

Operator:         ‘Ridge Hall, computer assistance; may I help you?’
Caller:              ‘Yes, well, I’m having trouble with WordPerfect.’
Operator:         ‘What sort of trouble??’
Caller:              ‘Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away.’
Operator:         ‘Went away?’
Caller:              ‘They disappeared.’
Operator:         ‘Hmm So what does your screen look like now?’
Caller:              ‘Nothing.’
Operator:         ‘Nothing??’
Caller:              ‘It’s blank; it won’t accept anything when I type.’
Operator:         ‘Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out??’
Caller:              ‘How do I tell?’
Operator:         ‘Can you see the C: prompt on the screen??’
Caller:              ‘What’s a sea-prompt?’
Operator:         ‘Never mind, can you move your cursor around the screen?’
Caller:              ‘There isn’t any cursor: I told you, it won’t accept anything I type.’
Operator:         ‘Does your monitor have a power indicator??’
Caller:              ‘What’s a monitor?’
Operator:         ‘It’s the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV. Does it have a little light that tells you when it’s on??’
Caller:               ‘I don’t know.’
Operator:          ‘Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power cord goes into it. Can you see that??’
Caller:              ‘Yes, I think so.’
Operator:         ‘Great. Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it’s plugged into the wall.
Caller:              ‘Yes, it is.’
Operator:         ‘When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one??’
Caller:               ‘No.’
Operator:          ‘Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the other cable.’
Caller:               ‘Okay, here it is.’
Operator:          ‘Follow it for me, and tell me if it’s plugged securely into the back of your computer.’
Caller:               ‘I can’t reach.’
Operator:          ‘Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is??’
Caller:               ‘No.’
Operator:          ‘Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over??’
Caller:               ‘Oh, it’s not because I don’t have the right angle – it’s because it’s dark.’
Operator:          ‘Dark??’
Caller:               ‘Yes – the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in from the window.
‘ Operator: ‘Well, turn on the office light then.’
Caller:               ‘I can’t.’
Operator:          ‘No? Why not??’
Caller:               ‘Because there’s a power failure.’
Operator:  ‘A power……… A power failure? Aha, Okay, we’ve got it licked now.
Do you still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff your computer came in??’
Caller:               ‘Well, yes, I keep them in the closet.’
Operator:           ‘Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from.’
Caller:                ‘Really? Is it that bad?’
Operator:            ‘Yes, I’m afraid it is.’
Caller:                 ‘Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them??’
Operator:            ‘Tell them you’re too –
ing stupid to own a computer!!!!!’

Just when you get used to something….

Fixing the Money Pipeline
Photo by ShellyS
…it all comes to an end.

No, no, this is not a maudlin post about breaking up or getting some sort of terminal disease.   I am referring, of course, to my removal from the unemployed masses and placement directly outside them again.   I have indeed gone and gotten myself gainfully employed again.

I am actually rather pleased about it.   Sure, it is an entry level position and doesn’t pay an awful lot more than the money the Arbeitsamt were giving me, but the entry level side of things is causing me a serious amount of joy at the moment.   I won’t have the levels of stress that I had before and this means that my quality of life can improve to the level that I want.

I will indeed be answering phones and logging calls…the very job that I ran a team of guys doing previously.   A “Phone Monkey” if you will…and frankly I like it.   The company seems really good, and, when I get myself onto the shifts I will have time to do private study…they are pretty relaxed and the team that I met on my trial day seem like the kind of people I can get along with and more importantly, work with.

The best news for me, however, is of course the increased opportunity for blog fodder.   Hence why I have yet to (and won’t) name the company.

The last few months have given me a much needed break, a chance to recover from my stresses and didn’t get me too bored – I was (just about) able to get used to having less money around…which means the salary at the new place won’t be a problem to manage and did I mention the lack of stress?   Sure, there will be pressure…it’s a busy environment and has very tight deadlines…but little stress.   No more bringing work home, going in hours early to get things done.

As a certain PM mentioned, I will also be able to drink again (in moderation of course ;-) )

Enough about my re-entry to civilised society.   It was ZS’s birthday the other day, and IP organised a BierBike.   I made a brief mention of this amazing thing before.   16 of us made the short walk to pick up the “bike” and we were on our way.

I must admit, I fully expected there to be substantially more gears and less actual effort to move the thing…it was pretty hefty as it goes.   The beer becomes more of a requirement than tool for getting drunk.   As we got close to ZS’s place, IP made the call to get him outside…the rest of us stopped pedalling and tried to keep 3 tonnes of BierBike quiet.   It would have worked too until, halfway through IP’s conversation with ZS, W decided to shout at us all to pedal more.   Meh, ZS was still pretty impressed…and so began an alcohol fuelled (literally) whistle stop tour of Frankfurt.

I should point out that after 20 minutes or so of pedalling, someone came up with the idea that we should switch seats at each red light…which would give everyone a chance to rest on the non-pedalling seats from time to time…leading to huge screams of REEEEED (if you were pedalling) and GREEEEN (if you were resting) in an effort to change the lights into your favour.

We took in all of the main areas of Frankfurt…including the Red Light district.   That almost caused a problem with our rotation scheme…. ;-)   Also, whilst we got a decent reception from the girls who try to entice you into the strip joints…one particular lady of negotiable affection didn’t take kindly to our rendition of “Ruby” by the Kaiser Chiefs and decided to flip us “the bird” with a snarly grimace type thing on her face.   Again…meh!

It must have something to do with the consumption of alcohol when combined with exercise, but I was wrecked when we got back to drop off the bike…although I like to think it was the 2 shots of Jagermeister personally…honest…no, really!

Rest assured, even with the nightmare of pain and torture that was heading up hill and over bridges, I still want one for my next birthday….only I think there should be a “Birthday Boy Doesn’t Pedal” rule.   It’s only fair ;-)

Hotter than hell

SOOCOk, this needs to be said…I am currently sat in my office overlooking Frankfurt. The temperature outside has dropped again, this time to around 2 degrees..

A few weeks ago it was at -14 for crying out loud…so why is it that, following the minor drop from 4 to 2 degrees, the premises people feel the need to increase room temperature by 15 degrees…..It is like a frickin furnace in here.

Seriously, I walked into the office today and was looking for the bucket of water and stack of coals in the corner. When it was -14 they didn’t crank up the heat more than a couple degrees….now it is practically tropical and they have gone mental with the thermostat.

It gives me visions of two cartoon characters, fighting over how much to turn the dial…until it either breaks off on FULL or just keeps spinning to the right…and all attempts to stop the dial end up with the cartoon’esque premises guy spinning around with it and flying off as hilarity ensues.

No seriously, it is too fucking hot…make it stop


Mistaken identity and other strangeness

hospital wallSome years ago I was working in a hospital doing general network support.   It was actually a great place to work and had the distinction (at the time) of having a corridor that was almost 2 miles long.   That bit wasn’t quite so enjoyable as having to go from Pathology (furthest point along the corridor), to fix an issue in Maternity (furthest point in the other direction) was not my idea of a good time.   I had a few weird moments in this place, some technical and others not.

The boss had this amazing idea that, if people needed less than 10 network points, I would install them myself.   As you can imagine, this led to me being some sort of network point pimp and extolling the virtues of having (in some cases) 9 spare available because “You never know”.   When this failed it was left to me.

Now, anyone that knows me will tell you that I cannot perform basic DIY.   It is simply something I am not genetically made up for.   Shelves fall down, holes in plaster get miraculously bigger…I invariably hurt myself.   Yet here I was, embarking on a terrifying journey of drilling holes in hospital walls.   I remember having to put a new socket in the Pharmacy to replace an existing one where the cable was broken.   I exposed the cable run and started to trace the cable I needed to replace.   The idea being to tie the new cable to the old, and pull it through.   This reasonable theory hit a few snags, namely that the cable run went through walls into other rooms, corridors and even outside for a few meters.   It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that I made a mistake and disconnected the wrong cable…meaning I had to do it all again.   It’s just aswell there was someone there to help me..oh that’s right, I was on my own.

I had to get through a wall that was around 4ft thick in the Pathology department, but the biggest drillbit I had access to was just under 3ft long.   Confident and complete with tape measure, I was absolutely certain that I would be able to “Eurotunnel” it and meet up from either side.   In the end, and after turning this wall into swiss cheese, I tracked down some builders and stole their giant drillbit to do it.

I had to turn one of the Doctors on-call bedrooms into an office, which involved drilling down from the attic space.   Unfortunately the attic space wasn’t big enough for me to stand up in and my trusty tape measure didn’t appear to be so trusty, so I took to crawling along the corridor on my stomach to try and work out where to drill.   The Doctors knew that there would be some noise and drilling going on.   I am fairly confident that this particular, sleeping, Doctor didn’t anticipate being woken up to plaster falling onto his bed, a drill screaming through the ceiling followed swiftly by a large eye looking through the hole and apologising profusely.   I wouldn’t have been surprised to discover that Doctor sleeping in his car from there on in.

That said, learning from my mistakes at that point wasn’t so easy to me, and I managed to repeat this feat…only this time in the Maternity department….into a room where they were performing ultrasounds…I can’t be certain, as I was rapidly accelerating into the distance, but I may have caused a number of false alarms and possibly a premature birth or two that day.

It wasn’t all about me scaring the crap out of Doctors and patients alike, I had my fair share.     Like sitting at my desk quietly, running a stress test on the LAN with the development team….in the middle of the test, the rocket I had just fired at the head of the Duke Nukem across the courtyard mid air, followed seconds later by “Network Connection Lost”.   Glancing up, I see the network monitor screen…and all of the lovely green symbols were turning a nasty looking red colour.   Half the network was down, I call the developers to see if it was them (they were losing after all) and start running down the corridor to the first place that had gone red.     As I am running, I can see that the ladder into the attic space is already down…getting closer still and I can hear drilling.   I hit the ladder and scramble up without stopping, until I see an electrician merrily drilling away.   I briefly consider asking him how he worked out where to drill so effortlessly, but shake that off and check the comms cabinet….which is unsurprisingly devoid of any flashing blinking light type doodahs.   A quick look behind the cabinet and you can see that it has been unplugged…and replaced by a beaten up, paint spattered cord of the workmans drill.   I beat him about the head ask him nicely to stop drilling and plug the cabinet back in.   Wordlessly I point to the rather large sign that instructs people not to remove the plastic cover and unplug the cabinet…before heading off to find the foreman, relieve myself in the toilet and have a large brandy to calm my nerves.

I remember trying to lift a server on my own…that was clearly too big/heavy for me, but noone else was around to help me…and hearing my knee pop.   I get on the phone and Andrew comes running down to me, pushing a wheelchair that I have always hoped was empty when he found it.   I remember, through the pain, feeling quite lucky that this had happened in a hospital, that had a ward dedicated to looking after people with leg/knee pain.   So you will forgive my shock when I was told I would have to make the journey across town to go to Accident and Emergency before they could see me.   Oh how I cursed their computer systems that day…certainly they wouldn’t be high on my list in the future……

I could go on and on…what do you mean I already have?   Ah well… :-p

When I first joined the support team there, they always sent the newbies on a rite of passage…the morgue.   I can still recall the smell of the place as I headed inside…where the morgue technicians tell me that the computer with the issue is in the main fridge room…they have, of course, left the doors open just for me.   I realise that this sounds a little disrespectful…but damn if I didn’t laugh my ass off….when I had finished throwing up of course.

Probably the most memorable, and terrifying thing though was when I was walking back to the office one quiet and peaceful afternoon.   One of the problems associated with being in IT within a hospital is what you wear.   Generally I wore black trousers, a white shirt…professional looking tie and of course a pager.   I had been mistaken for a Doctor on numerous occasions and was quite used to explaining that I wasn’t, and even running off to find them a Doctor from time to time.   One of those things you might say.   Until this day.   Walking back towards my office and a panic stricken woman bursts through the door of the chest/lung ward that was opposite our office.   She clocks me and without a word, starts dragging me into the ward…and practically throws me into a room where her husband (I assumed) was suffering some form of breathing attack.   As I finally start to realise what is going on, I try to explain that I am not a Doctor…but quite obviously this woman didn’t want me talking to her…I managed to focus enough to hit the panic button on the wall and within seconds Doctors and Nurses start piling in the room to help.

I stand back and watch these amazing people go about their business with this efficient calm about them.   A few minutes later and the husband is calmed, breathing more easily and the wife is clearly relieved.   I have the upmost respect for Doctors and Nurses…there is no way I could do what they do.

On top of all that, the wife came to find me later and thanked me for helping….She had forgotten the panic button was there and couldn’t focus to find anyone.   I didn’t know what to say, certainly I had done nothing worthy of thanks from this woman.   People are amazing though was a woman so clearly going through hell and she found the time to thank some poor scared cretin who managed to hit a button.   Also, it shows what having a little faith can do…her husband made a full recovery and left the hospital 6 weeks later.

I like people sometimes, I really do.

Oh dear god

Hear No Evil - is just past lunch on my first day at work in the new year, and I am already glad that I don’t have much hair.   It would most definitely be torn out already.

Seriously, how hard is it to remember a single frickin’ password for just over a week?   Also, if you do forget it…try not to shout at my team when they tell you that you have to visit our office for a reset.   This is not new, you have done it at least 5 times in the last few months (ticket history is great).

I won’t apologise for my level of sarcasm when I respond to your claims of “Never had to come to the office before”…when 3 of the last 5 tickets were created and solved by myself….and I don’t do over the phone.

If you phone up to chew me out because your account extension didn’t go through don’t expect sympathy when, after I manage to get an emergency 24 hour extension, you call back to give me the number of a request that was created an hour AFTER your phonecall.   No, no need to apologise…I am here to take your abuse…no problemo (account/change pass/confirm).   See you soon ;-)

We have taken over 250 calls since 08:30 this morning, and honestly, over 90% of these were from people that couldn’t remember their passwords from a week ago…..The others were from people who seem to have forgotten that the email reminders of their pending password expiry need to be acted on…or how to change their password…or their frickin’ username (here’s a hint…it starts with your LAST FUCKING NAME)

Umm…better stop before I really go on a rant…

How’s your day been so far?

At least they are honest…

Financial CrisisNow I know that the current financial crisis is causing problems in the industry.   I know that banks and their employees are in a semi-permanent alternating state of catatonia and panic.   I didn’t, however, realise that it had gotten so bad where I am working.   I went to the smoking area today and there is a meeting room next door, it is one of the posh meeting rooms where they have signs outside announcing the meeting going on in that room.

Today, this particular meeting room had the following sign:


Now, as the title says, at least they are being honest.   I appreciate that the Germans have a reputation for being methodical and organised about everything, but if people are shitting themselves all day at the moment…surely they don’t need a test?   Of course, it is worse if you consider that they might not be shitting themselves currently, but have planned a session in the near future and want to ensure that all of the staff have their emergency nappies and moist towellettes within easy reach.   Perhaps they are demonstrating the quickest ways to remove various clothing items.   It seems like they are a caring company…most would focus on soiling avoidance, but these guys are with you every step of the way.   “Shit away, we don’t blame you..but do it properly and it doesn’t have to be too bad”

I fully expect to see more meetings like this advertised over the coming weeks.   Maybe a course in hurling ones self from the top of the building, with the focus on minimising trauma to any witnesses and of course taking into account that the landing site is easily accessible by the authorities so that half of Frankfurt doesn’t need to shut down for the Spatula brigade to scrape you up.

You could have hari-kari 101, cyanide application training…vehicle exhaust re-routing seminars.   Of course, in this industry you will of course have people that aren’t quite ready to “cash out” so to speak.   For these people there will be “Scapegoat Cultivation and how to apportion blame without guilt” and of course the very popular “Embezzlement, it’s not just a funny word…it’s a lifestyle choice”.

The irony of Embezzlement of course…..where do you put your ill gotten gains….you wouldn’t seriously want to put it in a bank would you?