Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Wheels On The Bus Go Round And Round

Nothing much changes no matter what I do to change things.

Case in point: Back in April I decided to equip everyone with their own laptop because I was getting pretty tired of trying to use our communal tower unit. A typical attempt would involve me signing on perhaps to print a couple of pages of some document, only to be confronted by some situation that would involve me sitting in a tiny room with the computer in pieces while I attempted to put right whatever had happened during the last person's session. The least annoying thing that would happen would be that I'd sit for five minutes listening to the disk clicking while - I presume - gigabytes of cached yootoob video were thrown away. The worst could involve a registry error of some kind.

It was always after one of the women had used the damn thing too. I never had it throw a wobbly after I'd used it once, then used it a second time with no female-themed uptime squeezed in between. Amazingly, whenever I asked "what did you do with this last time you used it?" I would get back one of two answers: a) "Nothing" or 2) "I don't know".

Now call me pedantic, but if you either have nothing to do on a computer or you don't know what you want to do with it, switching it on is not job one on your list of Things To Do that day.

Of course these answers were synonyms for "I can't be bothered to remember what I did because even if I remember word for word the big warning message that popped up before I impatiently stabbed the 'off' switch you'll only get mad and what's the point of that?"

So I finally wised-up and got everyone their own computer on the theory that the kid could virus herself to Chechnya and back without taking me out of the water and the missus could do whatever it is she does to zap the bloody thing into brickdom without impacting my ability to write my world-shattering blog posts. They would be happy as they could brick their own systems in peace. Win-win-win.

So on Saturday I wanted to print something. I haven't been able (trans: can't be bothered to spend hours trying) to get network access to the printer attached to the tower unit, so I just unplugged the printer and attached it to my laptop. I only needed 6 pages.

I got five before the printer ran out of paper.

Now this is something that makes me mad as hell. Whenever I need to use that bleeping printer, there is always and I mean always some problem left for me by the bloody women of the house. Usually just not enough paper, as in this case, but often some stupid coloured paper left over from some greeting card production epic and not replaced afterward with normal paper. I've had documents printed in blue ink on blue paper, images rendered on virulent pink paper and in one memorable bleep-up a word document printed on 3x5 glossy photo paper all because the bloody women can't be arsed to put things back the way they were when they're done making girly-stuff.

This time things were made worse by the fact that I was in a hurry and they'd used up all he damn paper in the house, not a sheet to be had for luvner money, which made the printer sit there beeping at me like it was my fault instead of printing the last page so I could leave the house.

I finally found a single sheet that they had somehow neglected to wrinkle, toss out or cover in felt-pen drawings and was able to complete this Agrosean Struggle in a World Gone Mad.

Why is it that when I use the last sheet I load a fistful of paper even if I only need a couple of sheets, but that everyone else can’t give me the same courtesy? As I pointed out with some heat at the time, I have to put up with that sort of horseshirt at work because I work with bone-idle bleep-holes who were it not for certain nanny-state laws would get a slap round the head with a toner cartridge as a performance-art demonstration of my dissatisfaction with their lack of respect for their co-workers1. I see no reason whatsoever to put up with it at home.

That night, Mrs Stevie used the tower unit to retrieve and print (she'd bought more paper by then I guess) a Google Map for her mother.

The next day, Sunday, I got up and, thinking to use the tower myself, powered it up and went out to put the kettle on. When I thought to look in at the wretched thing I saw the light blue screen of disk problems, which was busy scrolling up a gargantuan list of unreadable sectors on its "D" drive. The entire disk turned out to be unreadable, suggesting that something pretty horrible had gone down in the last session.

I knew it was pointless, but ritual demanded I ask Mrs Stevie what she'd seen while doing the Google Maps thing when she returned from religious indoctrination. The answer was, of course "nothing". She then asked me where the pictures she'd transferred from her digital camera were kept on that computer.

"The D drive" I told her. "I have everything up to just before last Christmas on another drive. Everything else is toast."

The irony here is that I bought Mrs Stevie a digital picture frame at Christmas and an SD card to store the pictures it would display in a continuous slide show. Had she done as I suggested and moved a few pictures each week to the card she likely wouldn't have lost anything at all. But she didn't, so I'm now looking to see if I can read the disk by booting he tower as a Linux machine since XP won't touch it.

I doubt it'll work.

  1. A piquant protest indeed. Toner now requires a personal note to the office manager to obtain. Someone on the night shift (a group of no more than about thirty people that comprises some of the most lazy gits on the face of the planet) decided that this was too much bother and simply removed the toner cartridge from one of my team’s laserjets. Didn’t even leave the empty one, which complicated matters even further. I finally managed to get a replacement after three weeks, but made out a big sign “NO TONER” and stuck it on the printer. This subterfuge wouldn’t fool anyone but the brain-dead thieving idiots on the night shift, of course, but it has worked so far. Of course, someone on my team didn’t have a clue and so loudly cried out to the world that the printer did have toner – apparently he thought I’d forgotten loading the cartridge some thirty seconds before – but fortunately none of the night shift were on hand to hear him and the rest of us punched him until he figured it out

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