User lubed PC with butter, because pressing a button didn't work

Same worker also thought Excel was a great app for making art

On-Call Welcome again to On-Call, The Register's Friday foray into a mailbag stuffed full of readers' recollections of being asked to fix things that should never have broken.

This week, meet “Bill” who can't forget the time, about a decade ago, when someone from the marketing department “couldn't figure out how to eject a floppy disk.”

The user at least had the decency to be embarrassed enough by their incompetence to try finding a fix, in this case by wondering if perhaps a little lubrication might make it possible to remove the disk.

Bill tells us the user therefore “melted butter into a cup in the office microwave, poured it into the drive to 'loosen' it and then ripped the disk out with a pair of pliers.”

Readers won't be surprised to learn that “Shortly afterwards, the machine stopped working and started to smell funny.”

Which is how the situation came to Bill's attention “when the stinking wreck of a brand new Dell Precision desktop landed on my desk right in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon.”

Bill quickly diagnosed the problem: the user was familiar with CD drives' soft-eject button so had merely caressed the mechanical floppy disk eject button and quickly assumed it was broken. When Bill tested the floppy's button it worked.

And so did the disk itself, despite its new coating.

And there's a story on that disk too, because Bill told us it contained a font file for Times New Roman that the user “brought from her old company to ours so that she could continue designing marketing materials in Excel! Not InDesign, Photoshop or something fit for purpose ... not even Publisher or Word which could be used to 'knock something together'. But Excel!”

Tales of Excel abuse are rife, but Bill's might just break new ground.

We digress because Bill's story has a sad ending: after sorting everything out the marketing department managed to claim the IT team was at fault.

“Her director somehow made it my fault for supplying a defective drive and took the cost of a replacement machine out of my budget!

Bill still knows some folks at the company where this all happened and says he hears the user is still there and still complains about “the time a little shit in IT broke her top of the range PC, and blames me for her perpetual mistrust of techies.”

If you've had a user grease the wheels of tech in unusual ways or abuse Excel especially creatively write to us and you'll become a candidate to appear in a future edition of On-Call. While we're begging for your input, a little preview: The Reg is working on a career counselling column. If you'd like some advice on how to get ahead, let us know about any barriers to your advancement you'd like blown away. ®

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