This article is more than 1 year old

Go to L: A man of the cloth faces keyboard conundrum

When a user really is holier than thou

On Call We round out the week with a spiritual On Call from a reader who was on the receiving end of a higher calling. By phone.

Our tale takes us to the 1980s, when computer users had to give their hardware the correct time and date on startup – no internet time synchronisation services here.

"Martin", for that was certainly not his name, was cursed with being the one in his family who "knew a bit about computers" and so was frequently called upon to provide the occasional bit of support.

On the morning in question, he received a call from a family friend, the local priest, who had taken time out from God-bothering to do some tip-tapping on the church computer keyboard. Fortunately, the events predate those mainstays of today's Parish Newsletter: Comic Sans and Microsoft Publisher. In fact, the priest was having difficulty even starting the PC – it was asking for the date and time as usual but refusing to accept his entry.

"On the phone," Martin told us, "I talked him through every variation on date format but none worked.

"Then in an inspiration that must have come from the patron saint of computers, St John Damuchine, I asked: 'How are you typing the 1s?'"

We see what you did there with "John Damascene/Da-muchine", Martin. The Catholic Church goes for Isidore of Seville, a scholar who died in the seventh century and whose patronage includes computer users and the internet.

It is, after all, written that the holy men of times past did battle with a hideous beast known by the Latin "Dominus Nefari Sanctum" – the master villain, or "DNS" for short. And yes, we made that bit up (in case the appalling schoolboy Latin was not clue enough).

As for our hero, Martin, he was told by the priest that "1" was being typed in as "l" (lowercase "L") as it always had been. By some fortuitous coincidence he'd never needed to enter a "1" during startup until today, but we presume a hard morning of prayer had slowed him, and the time was now 11:30.

"I told him to use the '1' character instead," said Martin, the miracle maker. "It worked."

"Old habits die hard."

There is a joke somewhere in there about the state of monks' garments, but we're probably on track for a lightning bolt after the DNS thing so will leave well alone.

Ever had the calling? Be it from a higher power or a user unable to operate a keyboard? Let us know with an email to On Call. ®

More about

More about

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like