Archive for the 'wtf' Category

confusion in the head here

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

If I could have one wish granted today – any wish, anything at all – it would be that Australian ISPs would stop buying each other.

I’m in the middle of a strange problem at work right now. I’m trying to set up dialup internet for a customer; I have her email address and a password, but can’t figure out which ISP her computer should be dialing.

Her email address ends in, if you’ll care to look, instantly redirects to Chariot. Which is all well and good, but if you click on Dialup Access (under Our Services on the left), you’re further redirected to TPG.

Of course, when I tried their dialup number, it was busy. If it’s still busy (or fails to authenticate again) tomorrow, I’m going to have to ring their tech support and ask them who the hell’s actually meant to be providing this lady with internets.

Update: For the roughly 2.7 people who will ever have this same problem and google exactly the right things to find this, it turns out that if your email address ends with, your ISP is indeed Chariot, you dial 0198 308 800 with your modem, and you use your 1earth address to log into everywhere.

My problem had the added bonus where my customer had actually run out of prepaid internet time, which Chariot’s servers choose to explain by refusing connections on the grounds of incorrect username/password. Which didn’t help when I was dialing random numbers in the hope I’d accidentally stumble on the correct combination…

this week, at officeworks

Friday, January 16th, 2009


These curious devices are chairs.


Do not sit on their armrests.

one zero five point five

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

What’s the hottest you’ve ever seen a CPU running at?

This was an Athlon XP 1700+ in a case so old it still had a turbo button on the front. The owner complained of occasional random shut downs.

Tomorrow I move the guts to a case featuring a decent-sized fan grill *within* a cubic foot of the heat sink.

Edit: It dropped to 68 in the new case, with a 90mm fan nearby. Almost a drop of forty degrees.

don’t you have one?

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Here’s a common conversation at work:

  • Customer: Hi, my laptop has a problem, can you look at it?
  • Me: Sure… oh, it’s a blue screen of death? That could be hardware. We’ll need to book it in and look closely at it… did you bring the power adapter for it?
  • Customer: The what?
  • Me: …the power adapter. The big power cable that charges the battery.
  • Customer: Oh. don’t you have one?
  • Me: Not for every single make and model of laptop, we don’t. And definitely not (glances at laptop) for Vaios.

Fair enough, we’re a computer store. We do occasionally order in and sell laptop power adapters, and we have one or two universal adapters for our own use, but it’s easiest for everyone if customers bring their own in.

It’s common enough that it’s no longer annoying and I’ve grown my own natural response to it already. Today, though, we had an entirely new take:

  • Customer: Hi, I’m having trouble with my printer. I’ve brought my computer, can you plug it in and take a look?
  • Co-worker: Sure, have you got the printer with you as well?
  • Customer: No… don’t you have one?

I can completely understand people being ignorant about how their electronic possessions work. I’m a great example myself – I fix computers, but I couldn’t tell you what volts and electrons and transistors are for. I still think the microwave oven is some kind of voodoo trick aliens gave us to make nachos at 3AM.

But come on, would you book in your car for a service and deliver them the parcel shelf and the seat covers to examine? Are people really so afraid and ignorant of their computers they don’t even have the basic knowledge to identify what components need to be present to figure out why they can’t print?

Not that I’m calling her ignorant. I’m sure she’s just too busy to sit down and spend time learning about the device she places so much trust in.

stereo fail

Friday, September 12th, 2008

error #703: gremlins in filesystem

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Error #501 means cross-linked clusters on the disk. I’ll let you know if I ever figure out WTF is wrong with this machine.

IE7 crash on toshiba L300 satellite pro

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Here’s a weird one for you all: Fresh install on a Toshiba Satellite Pro L300 laptop, Windows fully updated, Internet Explorer 7 installed and updated… go to, log into a user’s account, and IE will half-load the page and then crash horribly, citing an error in mshtml.dll. This was at least the second L300 that’s had this problem, and we were keen to fix it for the future.

New Toshiba laptops come with recovery CDs that re-image the hard drive with a Windows XP Professional install, downgrading from its native Vista Business OS. First thing we tried was reinstalling with a regular XP Pro OEM CD, which resulted in no change whatsoever.

We had a complete fresh XP Pro install on another brand new laptop – a different brand and model – set up in exactly the same way, right next to it, which didn’t have the same problem at all. The only difference in setup was that the Toshiba’s owner had bought MS Office to go with it, while on the other one we’d merely installed OpenOffice (it’s free, go look at it).

Key thing here is that the full OpenOffice install also includes Java. Turns out that installing Java fixed the problem on the Toshiba laptop; IE would simply crash if it hit a webpage with Java on it.

Having figured the problem involved lacking a plugin of some sort, we also installed Flash. We didn’t have time to test conclusively that it was one or the other, but we’re pretty much betting on the problem being not having Java.

This probably isn’t limited to L300s, but we’ve never seen this behaviour on any other computer ever. Possibly it’s something crazy to do with Toshiba’s new-model XP drivers, maybe not. Either way, if you’ve come here from Google looking for a fix, try Java. It’s good for you.

i don’t remember and you can’t help me

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

I think it was food. That’s all I’ve got.

bruised, battered but still alive

Friday, June 13th, 2008

I can’t believe I’ve worked at the PC place for a full year without seeing this happen.

Until today. Guy bought a parallel ATA hard drive, and we patiently explained how to install it. He brought it back later, with his computer, to say he couldn’t get it to work.

He’d installed it upside down. In a floppy drive bay, so the screw holes don’t line up. Scratching the hell out of the side doing so.

Then I noticed the real damage.

He’d forced the IDE cable into the drive upside down. There was no way this was going back for warranty, so we took the board off to see if we could straighten the pins a bit. They promptly broke and fell out.

The missing pins are for some kind of nonessential signalling, not anything crucial to do with moving data, so the drive itself is still working and sitting in his machine doing a surface scan.

Maybe he didn’t drop it down a concrete stairwell as well. Time will tell.

insert score here are missing

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

Umm… no?