I No Can Haz Brane

But teh meenz people sai ai haz to rites. Is no fare. Ai wants to play wif teh cyoot kittehs. K?

Thx, bai!

(sounds of a scuffle and something being dragged back)

Bugger. Sorry.

It’s been a hectic few days. The day job includes the software development team being second or third tier support (depending on how little anyone in the actual support group wants to deal with things). Up until recently, it was handled by people other than me.

Then one of the three people in the hot seat resigned (lucky sod), and me being the most experienced of the remaining non-support-team dev people, I agreed to take it on. Unfortunately, this more or less coincided with the other two dev support folks being on vacation. So this week I’ve been it.

The issues with clueless users… well, okay. This is kind of the norm, after all, although I’m not sure how many times you have to tell someone to do something before they actually decide to do it. The flapping support team members… I wouldn’t mind so much except that they have a tendency to interrupt when I’m trying to focus, which makes it harder to get anything done.

Trying to figure why in hell anyone would think it was a good idea to store email recipients in the freaking Windows registry, on the other hand… Yes, it’s a service. Yes, it’s going to have to send error emails now and then. What is wrong with having the recipient email address/es in a bloody config file?

This, ladies, gentlemen, and beings of indeterminate sexual characteristics, is why I am completely pants at writing stupid. I can understand a lot of things. Evil. No problem. Saintly takes a bit of work to get into the mind space but I can do it. But dumb? That just makes my head hurt and causes random outbreaks of LOLSpeak.



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77 responses to “I No Can Haz Brane

  1. paladin3001

    Having had to deal with stupid in large batches, I agree. I just can’t wrap my head around how some people can’t or won’t think.

  2. BobtheRegisterredFool

    If you store it in the registry, you can just use a registry editor to change it, and don’t have to supply and service a custom configuration editor.

    Maybe, just maybe, I can do stupid. Either that or I’m nuts.

    • Kate Paulk


    • I once had a “discussion” with a fellow developer about that. He wanted his piece of configuration in the registry to protect it from stupid users that might just delete the file.

      I observed that, yes, stupid users do delete files. But it takes an educated stupid user to find and delete a file that is marked read-only and hidden (this was before you could protect a file from anyone but an administrator account). That hypothetical educated stupid user, if he can find and delete such a file is also probably able to run a registry editor.

      Do you really want to set an educated stupid user loose on the REGISTRY?

      I am a professional, 35+ years – and I approach the registry editor with an enormous amount of caution, double-checking, and double-checking again. Encouraging a user to get into it is like telling them about FDISK…

  3. But now you have lots of examples for a book based on dealing with Kompyoutr yewzers as the background.

    • Kate Paulk

      Nobody would *believe* it…

      • After over 15 years doing a mixture of analyst/architect/developer/support work in engineering IT, I suspect I would readily believe it.

        • Ah, but we are a niche audience. Then there is the far larger audience that will be insulted, because they know everything that needs to be known about computers, and will fire up the outrage machine.

          I think that Kate already has more idiots than she has stakes for, or the time to appropriately place them. So the ROI is negative, considering all factors.

          • Kate Paulk

            Yup, I sure do. This is why I have so little patience with stupid on the Internets. I deal with stupid all day at work. Why would I want to inflict more of that on myself? (And at that, I’m NOT a true support person, I’m primarily a tester. I don’t usually have to deal with actual customers).

            • I kind of enjoyed being the third tier at one company. By the time it got to me, it usually meant a plane ticket and at least one free day (at the client’s expense; the minimum charge for sending someone out covered three days) in some reasonably nice places.

              • Kate Paulk

                Lucky! Mine usually involves hours digging into database records to work out what the heck happened *this* time.

        • Kate Paulk

          Yes, but you’ve done your time in hell.

  4. TRX

    If nothing else, fixing Registry problems has generated employment for a whole generation of techs now…

    The old system of separate configuration files for each program at least wasn’t a single point of failure.

    • Kate Paulk

      And the new version of separate configuration files for each program with or without a GUI to them is also not a single point of failure. And does not require the user who needs to modify them to be an administrator. Both beneficial when you need to change things.

      • drloss

        So…like Linux and Unix have been doing things for ~45 years?

        • Though with systemd these days…

          • drloss

            Well, not exactly. Kate was talking about config files, which isn’t what systemd is for. But let’s not get into the religious discussion pro/anti systemd, kay?

            • Kate Paulk

              Amen. I’m familiar enough with Windows, Mac, and *nix systems to do moderate maintenance on the things. I’ve also had the delightful experience of crashing all of them into needing a full rebuild. Accidentally.

              Everyone repeat after me, “There is no One True OS”

        • Kate Paulk

          One thing I’ve learned is if there’s an obscure, obfuscated pain in the ass way to do something, some bastard will think it’s the best thing ever.

  5. *Over-heard once while walking past an administrator’s open door* “I don’t know. It wasn’t me. I just sat down and it started smoking and making a funny sound so I tried to reboot it and the sound got worse and the smoke gotworseandIneedthefilesnowforaperformancereview” gasp for air” “andnoIdon’thaveabackuphelpmeeeeee!!!!!!”

    I accelerated.

    • Ouch. Remembering to slow down just sub-sonic lest the boom give you away, I imagine.

      And once upon a time at $WE_BUILD_SCALES there was young new head of IT who somehow a Windows fanboy. He was dismissive of non-Windows solutions and my starting to learn Linux. One day I almost made his day – then ruined it…

      Ox: My Linux box actually crashed this weekend.
      IT: Really? What happened?
      Ox: Voltage regulator on the motherboard failed.
      IT: How could you tell?
      Ox: It was the part that was smoking.

      Yeah, I’ve had soft(er) crashes, but that was one guy it was a sheer delight to tell, without saying the words, that it took smoking hardware to knock out a non-Windows OS. Story still makes me smile. (And why, yes, I did happen to have a replacement regulator about.)

      • Remember when you had to re-boot Windows twice a day or it would just stop working? Ah, yeah, good times!

        These days Windows 10 changes its behavior randomly. Every morning at start-up some new thing happens. Lately the mouse pointer has a little circle rotating next to it, and it moves in jerks. Didn’t use to do that. It will probably stop in a day or two, and some new mysterious thing will begin.

        This is probably considered a “feature” in Redmond.

        At least the network kind of works. Never did get XP to play nice on a network.

        • Draven

          XP always played fine on a network, so did Win2k. but then, my biggest complaint about upgrading to win 7 was that i couldn’t do an upgrade-in–place.

          • Win2k was the last version I used regularly. Overall, I kinda liked it.

            Don’t recall needing twice daily reboots – unless I was using some program over and over in Win3.x. Working on a website, I could bog 3.x down simply by running Notepad a lot. Ouch.

        • Have never seen that, and have been around … let’s see … fourteen or fifteen computers running Windows 10. I suspect something else is going on beside the Redmond Follies. This one sounds like a driver issue, or worse.

          Something that does happen is that some things don’t play well with the updates. That can be interesting in a Chinese Curse sort of way.

        • snelson134

          Have you checked it for virii? I use the multiple for a reason, because that icon is (and has been since Win XP for certain) Windows way of signalling that something is running in the background and eating your resources to the point that the mouse driver is getting put on hold for processing and will catch up when it can, thus the jerkiness.

      • Once upon a time, I used Debian Linux. Then once day, after an update, it was hosed. Just saying.

    • Kate Paulk

      Smart move. It’s never good to have to recover from the stupid committed by someone who damn well ought to know better.

  6. Aimee Morgan

    I love 1st tier support. In my experience, they are really good at escalating anything that isn’t fun, kewl, or easy. I know there are good ones, but all of the good 1st tier people I’ve worked with all got promoted to 2nd tier.

    • Kate Paulk

      I suspect that some of the support people I work with should rightfully be zeroth tier. Or possibly somewhere in the negatives, in luser land.

      • Draven

        ah yes, the ‘answer phone and escalate’ types.

        • Kate Paulk

          I’m not sure these even answer the phone so much as forward it up immediately.

          • drloss

            In their defense, I’ve taken to replying to their phone greeting with, “let me speak with the next tier, please.” No reason to waste time; sometimes you need to repeat the request a few times to reach someone with at least equal knowledge of the system as yourself.

            • Kate Paulk

              The entire help system is not intended for knowledgeable users. Or completely brainless ones, at that. Just the clueless who can follow instructions. On both sides of the phone.

    • Randy Wilde

      Tech support training video:

    • snelson134

      By the time you understand an application well enough to support it, you’re more valuable to the company in product development…. and if you’re that good, you probably don’t enjoy dealing with people anyway.

  7. “Write stupid.” implies there’s those who wish to “read stupid.” I’d say that market is small, but I know so many amazingly stupid movies and television shows enjoy(ed) popularity, so… still, thank goodness there are those who won’t or can’t write stupid. World stupid enough (er, too stupid) already. Not need more stupid.

  8. I can’t imagine dumb. Ignorant? Sure. Forgetful? Absolutely. Lazy? Obstinate? No problem.

    But dumb? Presented with the facts and can’t figure it out? Nope. I can’t.

    Curse of high intelligence: You don’t feel smart. You feel normal.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Whereas fools believe themselves to be the wisest ones.

      • Oh, my Ghod. There’s nothing harder than explaining to a stupid person why their firmly held belief is wrong. Try explaining to an overweight housewife that vitamin C is not going to cure her knee pain.

        This is why I live in the country surrounded by hay fields. To protect everyone else. >:)

        • Kate Paulk

          Amen to that. I try to avoid idiot as much as I can. I can, with some difficulty, translate from Odd to semi-intelligent. I can’t translate to idiot.

    • It’s not a high-intelligence vs. low-intelligence breakdown. I’ve worked and conversed with people with outright intellectual disabilities (Down’s Syndrome and further.) The dumbest person I ever worked with seemed to be of average-to-slightly-low intelligence. Dunning-Krueger in person. I tell people stories and they look at me, gobsmacked.

      Side note: Every so often I see a panel or article listed about “how to write people who are smarter than you are.” They always seem to miss the obvious “go find someone that smart and have them look over your work.” TV certainly hasn’t understood that one. (They also miss that some writers are that smart, and maybe need someone to point out to them where they’re writing way over their readers’ heads.)

      • I’ve heard/seen The Big Bang Theory described as “Seinfeld with technobabble.” I’ve used that line on some who seem bewildered that I don’t care for the show.

        • Draven

          probably explains why i dont like it

          ok, it doesnt, i just find Seinfeld both the comedian and the tv series grating, wereas BBT, i got sick of n being made fun of in elementary so why would i want to watch a show that makes fun of me and my friends?

          • Randy Wilde

            i got sick of n being made fun of in elementary so why would i want to watch a show that makes fun of me and my friends

            Eh, I like the show. Mostly because I see bits of me and my friends in the geek jokes, especially early on. We give each other a hard time about it, so I don’t mind, at least when they get it right. 🙂

        • Sam L.

          “I find it dumb” doesn’t work? Or, “not funny to me”?

        • Josh Griffing

          I never could stand Seinfeld, but BBT’s geek jokes are about 30-35% winners and another 30-40% passable. I once saw it compared (disfavorably) to The Office: the latter was “smart jokes about stupid people” as opposed to BBT’s “stupid jokes about smart people.”

          When they’re not telling actual nerd jokes (or geek jokes— and I’m not sure the writers differentiate too well), BBT is almost as annoying as Friends, or moreso.

      • Kate Paulk

        Oy, yeah. There’s a very specialized kind of stupid that only comes with high intelligence. It’s the kind that forgets that theory ain’t everything and just knowing the theory doesn’t mean it’s actually going to work in the real world.

        • It’s why the Intelligence vs. Wisdom breakout of “smarts” that D&D came up with works so well. The guy above had something a bit below average in Int. but his Wisdom was damned near approaching asymptotic zero.

          • Kate Paulk

            Oh gawd yes. Low Wisdom plus moderate to high Intelligence = disaster waiting to happen – and probably a hell of a lot of fun for a sadistic DM.

    • Being tired or sick can do a fair job of emulating dumb. Brain cramp and total intellectual shutdown are real.

      • Dan Z

        When I was in the Air Force I had a friend in the Army who was fond of pointing out that nothing was soldier proof.

        “If you leave a Private and an anvil alone for three days,” he liked to say, “when you return there will be a broken anvil and a Private who swears he has no idea how it happened. Nothing is soldier proof.”

        • Dorothy Grant

          Heh. The version, last I heard, was that if you put three marines guarding one anvil each, when you came back one anvil would be broken, one anvil would be missing, and one anvil would be pregnant.

          South Africa had an interesting weapons development testing requirement during their war: when the guys in the lab decreed the weapon was ready for deployment, they’d send the engineers and scientists up to the front lines, to test it in battle. This, ah, concentrated their minds wonderfully. And proved that a great many things are neither soldier-proof nor Africa-proof.

        • James Armstrong

          Nothing is Sailor-proof either. You can take a Sailor, put them in a padded room with no windows or doors, strip him down, and give him two ball bearings. Come back in an hour, one will be broken, the other missing.

  9. Uncle Lar

    Kate darlin’ girl, after close to twenty five years in experiment operations on space mission in Earth orbit I can state categorically that there is no such thing as idiot proof. Idjits will always find a way to bugger things up some way some how. And these were all highly intelligent, highly trained, and extremely competent astronauts mostly with PhDs. Always seemed like the more clever the operator the more ways they found to pooch the hardware, the process, or the data.

    • Draven

      so i saw a demo of a VR combat training system at SIGGRAPH. they were using HP’s new Z VR Backpack. HP was saying that those guys hadn’t broken them yet…..

      (to which, i said to myself, “Yet”, they are soldiers, give em time)

      … but they had, sorta. See, the cross-chest strap, when unsecured, dangles down on the sides in the middle of your torso.

      you know, right where the adjustment straps are on military backpacks.

      so, first time i put one on i grabbed those straps and pulled to adjust and one popped off

      I told this to the guys giving the VR demo and they were like “yeah we’ve popped them off a couple of times”

      They had the ones they were using three weeks….

    • Kate Paulk

      Always. The number of people who are responding to a new login portal that *clearly* says “log in with your existing credentials” by finding the rather less obvious new user registration link is mind-boggling. They seem to think if they try to click everything and put something into every field they see they’ll eventually get what they want.

      • Sometimes what is “obvious” is overdone to the point it becomes invisible. Far Side had the panel of the kid pushing a door clearly marked PULL (or vice versa) but the sign was *huge* for the kid or anyone near the door. Up close, you wouldn’t really read it – it would decoration, not instruction. I run into this the more… PlaySkool… an interface becomes (I’m looking at you, Microsoft) the more trouble I have with it.
        MS: “Hey we made the button HUGE and OBVIOUS!”
        Ox: “Where the photon did they put that Zarquing button!?!?”

        • Kate Paulk

          It’s actually more like “This isn’t what I’m used to therefore it must be Wrong, Bad, and Evil. I will click everything until something works.”

  10. James Eades

    User: My computer is too slow, and files just disappear

    Tech Guy: Your recycle bin was massive. I emptied it in order to free up storage space and troubleshoot your problem.

    User: But that’s where I’ve been storing my working documents!

    Tech Guy: Polishes desktop with cranium.

  11. Sam L.

    Off topic, but it seems to me you’d appreciate this: http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/08/writing-conference-canceled-for-excessive-whiteness.php (For children’s books.)

    • Kate Paulk

      Apparently the sheer pallor of a bunch of children’s authors caused the organizers to fear that any attendees would be blinded.

  12. Mark

    “It’s a baffling phenomenon that in today’s society an individual, who might in other circumstances be considered smart and wise, can sit down in front of a computer screen and instantly lose every last shred of common sense he ever possessed. Complicate this phenomenon with a case of “computerphobia,” and you end up with tech support personnel having phone conversations that are funny in retrospect but seem like perfectly valid motives for wild machine gun shooting sprees at the time. You will read stories in this file that will convince you that among the human race are human-shaped artichokes futilely attempting to break the highly regarded social convention that vegetables should not operate electronic equipment. And yet, amidst the vast, surging quantities of stupidity are perfectly excusable technological mishaps — but that are amusing nonetheless.” ——http://archive.tipit.info/home/home/funny/2008/12/computer-stupidities-part-1-operating-systems/

  13. I spent a brief time as a SYSOP on a Novell Netware system back in 1989 or thereabouts. My qualifications? I could program dBaseII and knew my way around MS-DOS command line. So, none, really. But I learned.
    All of the salesmen came in one morning to find their work stations up and running. I passed by and noticed each one had an opening menu that gave them read/write access to EVERYTHING! Not just the sales program, but the word processing, contracts, inventory, the Novell utilities,everything. The only login credentials with those rights were me and the owner.
    I stomped into his office, and asked him what he had done. He said he had come in a bit early and ‘to make it easier on the guys’ he had booted up their terminals and logged them into the system. ‘But you logged them in with YOUR ID’ I pointed out. ‘Sure,’ he replied. ‘It’s the only ID I have!’ When I explained that he had access to parts of the system that they weren’t supposed to access, he just kept repeating ‘of course I used my ID. It’s the only ID I had!’
    Fortunately, none of the sales guys wondered what this selection would do, and initiated a COMPSURF or anything like that.

    • Oog. Ouch. And bloody lucky.

      Many years ago now, at $WE_BUILD_SCALES one fellow in marketing or such, used to fiddling about with bigHUGE .tiff stuff thought it’d be great to show off and send his latest gem to everyone. The mail system bogged as things filled with multiple copies of that file (de-duplication, what’s that?). It took a few days, as I recall, to get things right again without further breaking something.

      • Kate Paulk

        Ooh. That’s almost as bad as when I saw someone’s auto-responder take down Baen’s Bar back in the late 90s.

    • Kate Paulk

      Oy, yeah. He’s lucky the sales guys didn’t explore.