Friday, July 15, 2011

I see dumb people

Spent the afternoon at idiot mate’s place.


I was presented with a collection (5 I think) of external HDD boxen with a request to “make them all work”.  None functioned previously when tested by mate and local self-proclaimed IT “expert”.


Box 1 – Set up by me some time ago.  Internal PSU, how can you go wrong.  Plugged it in and it worked.  Why would it not work for them?  Same box – you’re the variable in the equation.  What does that suggest?


Boxes 2 and 3 – Set up by “expert”.  Drive jumpering wrong.  Corrected and both work fine.  After I fixed the issues of totally inappropriate screws being used to kludge the drives in, jamming the electronics sleds in the housings.


Box 4 – Noontec box with a power socket that is a custom PS/2-like 5-pin job in a 3/8” round connector with an alignment lug.  Problem found to be that a 6-pin PSU had been tried because it had a similar plug.  The 6th pin, finding only solid plastic meeting it, had surrendered and collapsed to the bottom of the plug, shorting out two other pins in the process.  All of the other pins were comprehensively fucked as well, caused by “screwing” the connector into the socket.  Both allegations denied.  Both denials refuted by the facts that there was a divot in the socket plastic where the odd-man-out 6th pin died horribly, and a ring engraved between the pin sockets where the connector had been rotated.  Box resurrected (somewhat) by finding a compatible PSU off an electrically identical Shintaro box – same kit, just rebranded.


Box 5 – Yum Cha brand box with a (thank you, Jesus) DC barrel plug power socket.  Pronounced not to work.  Jumpering and wiring looks good.  Ferreting through a box of assorted crap produces a wall-wart with a voltage, amperage and polarity that matches the box, as does the plug barrel ID and OD.  Winner.  Problem is the wart is the international type with interchangeable AC tips, currently has a UK tip.  Other tips location unknown.  I point out that this is the source of the malfunction, and what the FUCK were they using to power the box when they decided it wouldn’t work??  Every other box in sight uses an inline switchmode brick with a multipin plug of some form factor which would not go into this box without a hammer.  No idea.  Bunyips blamed.


Move onto Dell laptop.  Problem: it won’t “go onna innanet”.  Hmm, looks like a very clean system to me for this bloke.  Systeminfo shows a build only a couple of weeks old.  Oh yeah, it was slow so he reloaded XP.  Device manager shows a sea of alarms, all network adapters and multimedia adapters nonfunctional, and the screen is running in “WTF is that??” mode at 800x600.  Yes, it was rebuild with a big standard XP disk.  Drivers?  What are those?  Grabbed every single WiFi and Ethernet device driver from the Dell webshite and sneakernetted them onboard.  Great, not a single one is correct.  For either device.  Thanks, Dell.  Try a Netgear WiFi USB dongle.  Computer Says No, won’t work without Service Crack II loaded minimum.  This is bare XP.  Left it with SP3 installing.  No, I can’t stay for an hour to watch a progress bar, need to go.  Bring the body over on Tuesday and the festivities can recommence.


Here’s a new 64GB USB flash drive we bought yesterday, which won’t format.  Wow I say, how much did that cost you?  And what the hell use do you have for such a big drive anyway?  Ah, you paid $38.  You have been ripped off.  Where is this marvelous object?  Hmm, nice chrome finish and leather trim.  That looks reputable, doesn’t it?  Why *do* companies like Transcend, Sandisk, Corsair and Shintaro persist in those boring plastic finishes anyway? Leather is *so* much nicer.  Drive is, of course, a cheap piece of shit with hacked firmware.  Reports 63.8GB, who knows what it actually is.  The throughput is so useless I abandoned an attempt to discover the real capacity, watching files transfer at dialup speeds was too painful.  Where was this object obtained?  eBay, of course.  What payment method was used?  Ah, you met the bloke outside a shop in Cranbourne and paid cash.  You are, not to put too fine a point on it, fucked.  Jump onto Scorptec’s website and demonstrate that a reputable 64GB drive is $199.  Bells are ringing here.


As I’m leaving, the IT “expert” shows up.  Says he has a device driver disk for the Dell. Comes back with a disk for an Inspiron something, really useful when this is a Latitude.  Explain this is the equivalent of walking into a Ford parts department and saying you need a specific part, and the counter cretin just opens a random box and dispenses something.  A lower control joint for a 1987 F150 isn’t going to help you fix the broken power window in your 1998 Falcon, is it?  Suspect breath was wasted there.


Final kicker on departure:  I’m asked to push his mobility scooter into the garage.  He left the door open the other day and somebody lifted the charger.  The things have been out of production for years (of course he bought a cheap secondhand one) so good luck finding a replacement.  I think new scoots are about $4k or so?

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