General discussion

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #2192961

    Paper Jam: The Trials of the Printer Guy

    Locked

    by martin nolan

    blog root

All Comments

  • Author
    Replies
    • #3133321

      “Can I just make a quick copy?”

      by martin nolan

      In reply to Paper Jam: The Trials of the Printer Guy

           First, let me put this out there: I love my job.  Really, I love it.  The freedom is great. I love that I can go to the bank between calls or grab an extra few minutes at lunch for a haircut.
           I love not having my boss breathing down my neck all the time (and since he’s not a tech, when my boss does breathe down my neck he has no idea what I’m doing so it doesn’t make any difference.)
           Yeah, I love my job.
           Sometimes, though, it takes the entire force of my will not to calmly open my tool case and start flinging screwdrivers at anyone in range.
           Look, nothing is as satisfying as fixing things right the first time; the customer practically jumping up and down as you leave, copying themselves stupid and flashing you the thumbs-up.  It’s awesome.
           On the other hand, almost nothing is as frustrating as scratching your head for a couple of hours trying to track down a short, or troubleshooting some weird, intermittent jam that never happens when you’re there, but seems to magically appear only after you leave.
           Almost nothing.
           While the machine is in pieces and I’m on my knees trying to get a vice-grip around the screw I just stripped, that’s when they come for me.
            ?Do you mind if I just make one copy?? the secretary asks, oblivious to the pile of cover panels, gears, and rollers she had to step over to bother me.
           It’s times like these when my hand tightens around the vice-grip, and I feel like practicing my fastball.
           I’m often tempted to say something snide.  I’m not going to lie to you, the temptation is strong ? but I won’t cave in to it.  After all, the average end user has no idea what their copier does, how it does it, or why it isn’t doing it at the moment.  That’s why they pay me.
           I usually make a little joke, a little small talk, and then lower my head and get back to work.  These interruptions in my rhythm could be seen as annoying, but I try to look at it differently.  Many times, a break is just what I need to regain my focus and come up with a new way to attack whatever problem it is I’m facing.  Since customers don’t like to see me sitting around on their nickel, often the only chance I have for a breather when I’m on site is when some glassy-eyed office worker comes in and asks a stupid question or makes the same tired joke about getting me my own parking spot.
           Seen in that light, it’s a welcome change of pace that actually helps me do my job better, plus it gives me a chance to interact with the customer away from the usual context of handing them a huge bill or explaining why their copier will be down until next week.  Though I might wish I could cop an attitude or throw a wrench, I just take a little time to think about why I’m there and why I do what I do.
           I love my job, I love the freedom..
           And I can even, with a little concentrated effort, love my customers.
          
           What kind of frustrations do you face while supporting printers and copiers? And how do you handle it?

      • #3152392

        Can I just make a quick copy?

        by colesch

        In reply to “Can I just make a quick copy?”

        Posting comments fails on this blog. Noticed an error in the subject field, the value was enclosed with double quotes. This post is a test to see if its fixed.

      • #3152388

        Can I just make a quick copy?

        by colesch

        In reply to “Can I just make a quick copy?”

        For more info on this post, reference:
        http://techrepublic.com.com/5248-6257-0-1.html?id=4497424

        Great article! 馃檪

        I totally agree with you, because as annoying as the interruption seem
        on the surface, they allow a moment of down-time to regroup and
        re-think the present situation. Plus, they give us techies something to
        blab about at the office water cooler…hehe…

        Still one of my favorites is when an executive assistant told me that
        she took her keyboard home and soaked it in the tub to clean it off. I
        almost dropped the phone in laughter. Thank god for mute. lol…

        Typically I don’t recommend washing your keyboard in the sink, or even
        a spin dry for your cellphone in the washer. But if you must, just make
        sure its completely dry before you plug it back in.

        -Chris

        “The One Man Band”

        http://www.cailleach.com

        “Why does it say paper jam, when there is no paper jam!” -Office Space

    • #3133794

      It’s a dangerous job. . .

      by martin nolan

      In reply to Paper Jam: The Trials of the Printer Guy

          People are always asking me, “Martin – what’s the most important tool in your toolbox?”
          Actually, nobody has ever asked me that, and until a couple of months ago I probably would have responded, “Um. . .I don’t know. . .one of my screwdrivers?”  And I do have nice screwdrivers.  (I like to file the points off of all my Phillips head screwdrivers so more of the blades contact the inside of the screw heads.  It keeps me from stripping them all the time, which I am unusually prone to doing.)
          If I was feeling a little preachy, I might have said, “My laptop,” and then droned on about how copier service is all about flashing firmware and connectivity these days and how IT skills are as essential to the business now as a vacuum and on and on and on.
          Either one of those responses would have satisfied the asker, I assume, and either one would have been correct enough.  But I was thinking about it a little bit, and if anyone ever asks me that question, I know exactly the answer I’ll give – band aids.  Yes regular, everyday band aids.
          Not too long ago, I was working on a big wide format machine for an engineer’s office.  This particular machine has a couple rows of copper grounding fins under the top cover.  Normally, I would approve of these fins – they serve a useful purpose and are generally inoffensive.  On that day, however, I had the top cover open and as I reached over to my toolbox to grab something, I ran my finger across one of those paper thin metal fins.  I instantly started bleeding all over the place.
          I ran into the customer’s bathroom and washed off the cut, wrapped it in a paper towel and tried to continue doing my job.  The problem was, I couldn’t stop the bleeding.  To make a long story short, I ultimately had to ask the customer for his first aid kit while the office secretary wrinkled her nose in revulsion at the mess that was my finger.
          That was the day of my big revelation – this job is kind of dangerous for clumsy people like me.  I have carried band aids ever since.
          I routinely burn myself on fusers, knock my knuckles, administer myself mild electric shocks, and cut myself.  Maybe I should try to be a little more careful – but that sort of thing
      is easier said than done, especially since I’m almost always in a big
      hurry.  
          Having band aids in my toolbox saves me some embarrassment and allows the customer (and more importantly the secretary) to keep their good opinion of me in tact, while still letting me be my clumsy self during the normal course of my day.  

          Embarrasing stories?  I know you have them and I’d like to hear about them.

               

    • #3101639

      Do any of us have a future?

      by martin nolan

      In reply to Paper Jam: The Trials of the Printer Guy

          I have heard this line time and time again, and maybe it’s true – if you’re young get out of this business.  Find some other way to spend your days.  Go back to college, work at a store, do something else because there is no future in repairing office machinery.

          Most of the time, the reasons given are simple and clear:

      • With the recent advent of office superstores selling cheap machines that are not worth fixing, nobody will need techs anymore in a few years.
      • The machines that are worth fixing will all have customer replaceable fusers and developers and won’t need a tech anyway.
      • These same superstores sell consumables and cut into independent tech’s profits.
      • Manufacturers have stopped giving support to non factory trained techs, further tying indies to one or two lines instead of allowing them to fix whatever they can get their hands on.
      • The paperless office will be upon us in a few years and no one will be printing anymore.

          Of these, I find the last reason to be the least compelling.  People will always print, and with the latest document distribution methods it seems like they are printing more than ever, not less.  Besides, who wants to read documents on a screen all day?  I know I don’t.  People have been talking about the replacement of hard copy documents for years, and as far as I can tell, almost no impact has been made.
          The first three are a little better, but still not very convincing.  The superstores will never be able to move into the higher end and specialty markets.  They aren’t about to stock wide format printers or 125 page per minute machines, and those are the machines that need the most technical attention.
          As far as support, the manufacturers might not provide it, but there are tech boards all over the net populated with friendly techs who know their stuff and who are always willing to help out.  Some are better than others, but I have never seen a problem that someone hasn’t seen before.
          I guess the moral of the story is, I think we as techs will always be necessary; our skills will have to change as technology changes – but that’s nothing new.  We do have to find new and innovative ways to get the information, and ultimately the dollars that we need to make this job worthwhile.  If any of us are not prepared to expand our knowledge and our expertise, then we might want to consider finding something else to do between 8 and 5.
         
          How has the field changed in the past few years, and where do you see it going?            

    • #3102362

      The strange case of the phantom jam. . .

      by martin nolan

      In reply to Paper Jam: The Trials of the Printer Guy

      Once, about a month after I started working on copiers, I got a call on a wide format machine that displayed a jam where none was actually present every time the machine was turned on. To clear the jam, the key operator had to open the clamshell, which on this model cuts the power, and close it again. I was thrilled.

      “This looks like a job for SuperNoob!”

      I got to the site and started taking things apart. I checked all over the offending sensor, cleaning it lovingly, making sure it was properly aligned. In the process I accidentally knocked off about forty pickoff fingers that it took me half an hour to get back in straight.

      I leaned on the machine and tried the power switch.

      No dice – phantom jam.

      Then I traced the wire back from the sensor, checked all the voltages and dilligently looked in the manual to ensure that everything was in spec. I tried masking the error in service mode, which produced the dual unexpected results of making the machine run freely and totally locking me out of service mode. I intrepidly got myself back into service mode after about another hour of reading the manual cover to cover and finally resetting the RAM.

      After re-inputting all the factory settings back into the recently cleared RAM, I checked the plate right above the sensor and realigned it perfectly after knocking it off during the course of the routine inspection.

      I leaned on the machine and tried the power switch.

      No dice – phantom jam.

      I was really starting to sweat. I checked all the interlock switches, a bunch of the other sensors, I made sure the machine was level, etc. . .

      Finally, I was resolved to purchase a new $1500 main board. “The logic has simply gone wacky,” I assured myself, and turned the machine on one last time.

      It worked – no jam. I scratched my head for awhile and looked at the machine blankly. I tried the switch a few more times and the jam never came back. I told the key operator she was ready to rock and roll and I left, satisfied with a job well done.

      The next day, she called me. “It’s doing it again,” she whimpered, “I thought you fixed it.”

      Deep down inside I knew I hadn’t fixed a thing, but I said, “Yeah, me too,” and went back to their office (90 miles away from my office).

      When I arrived, I asked her to show me exactly what she had done. She leaned on the machine, hit the switch, and up popped the jam.

      A lightbulb turned on over my head. I leaned on the machine, hit the switch, and up popped the jam. I tried the switch without leaning on the machine, and bingo – no jam.

      With a piece of scrap paper and a red Sharpie, I went to work. “When turning on the machine, please do not lean on the top cover.” I taped the crude sign to the top of the machine, explained the problem to the key operator and we both had a good chuckle. It turns out the top cover gave just enough when you leaned on it to throw that sensor out of whack. Since then, that machine has run like a champ. Back at my car I laughed maniacally and thanked the copier gods that I figured it out when I did.

      All in all, including travel time, the phantom jam cost me about twelve hours of time, one piece of paper, and a bunch of self confidence – but the lesson I learned was invaluable.

      Weird things happen.  Keep your eyes open.

      Odd occurrences? Haunted copiers? I want to know the oddest thing that has happened to you at work.

    • #3100180

      To help, or ??

      by martin nolan

      In reply to Paper Jam: The Trials of the Printer Guy

          A common debate that circulates around various copier tech boards is whether to help obvious end users who post or not. Some argue that it takes money out of techs’ pockets, while others figure a little advice about how to reset a code here and there is not doing anyone any harm.

          I have certainly let customers in on a few tricks to save me a trip to their office, and they have thanked me – mostly by continuing to give me their business. But the internet is different of course. When you help someone on the internet, it is too easy not to think of their local tech who should have the opportunity to make the call about whether to give his customer information or not. Then again, if the person is looking for advice on the net, perhaps they can’t afford a costly service call anyway or if they could, perhaps the machine is too old to warrant spending the money.

          A lot of guys say, “Well, if they try to do something complicated and foul it up, the local tech will make money fixing their screw-up.” This might be true, and it might give a tightwad or two a little respect for what we do, but is it worth it? Is it even worth the effort to respond, knowing the potential for failure? Some (who shall remain nameless) give the users deliberately misleading advice like, “Rub off the metallic coating on the drum with sandpaper and alcohol,” or “Put more iron filings in the toner hopper,” or some such nonsense. Maybe some people get a kick out of telling someone to damage their equipment, but I don’t. I think it’s a nasty thing to do, and it further degrades the reputation of all of us in the repair business.

          My preferred method of dealing with the end users is simple, I don’t. Too much can go wrong, and you gain nothing by telling someone else’s customer how to fix their own machine. It’s a losing game, and I think it best not to play.

      How do you handle requests for free advice, on the internet or otherwise?

    • #3100169

      Why do we do this?

      by martin nolan

      In reply to Paper Jam: The Trials of the Printer Guy

          I love these. Yes folks, it’s the copier tech salary survey. If you’ve ever wanted a unique and frightening peek into the inner life of a service technician, here it is. I repeat, I love these things, but be warned – the information inside has the potential to frighten your boss and make your customers think you’re nuts.

          I’m not going to summarize the whole thing for you (that’s why I linked to it) but I want to touch on a couple of points. The first one, which I hadn’t thought about much, is the overwhelming prevalence of male techs (92%) vs female techs. Why is this? Is it a bias on the part of employers who believe that women are not as “handy” as men? Is it women themselves who don’t seek repair positions? Is it an unspoken bias on the part of customers? I don’t have the answers, but I assume it’s a combination of a lot of factors including but probably not limited to the ones I mentioned.

          My favorite part of the survey has to be the part where nobody likes their jobs, but almost nobody is actively doing anything about it. This particular phenomenon is probably not found only in our industry, but speaking as a tech, I can tell you exactly why we feel that way. Nobody respects us. Nobody. Not the boss, not the customers – nobody. And that is reflected in our pay and the hours we’re expected to log. Techs work hard, abuse their bodies with chemicals (you know what I mean – cleaners and such), and prematurely ruin our backs and knees. We are always putting out fires, always kowtowing to petty office managers and bosses, always trying to keep up with the pace of change. Sometimes it’s a little overwhelming.  No matter how you try to explain it, though, nobody believes how bad it can be.  They think you just turn a screwdriver and mess around all day.

          I know that I for one have fantasies of walking out and telling my boss to stuff it, keeping contact with some of the other employees to find out how far down the toilet everything falls after my departure. But I, like so many of my brothers in the industry, don’t actively seek a better situation.

          Why? Who knows, but if the profile holds, I guess it’s because we are a very practical breed. And the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t – even if the devil you know doesn’t pay you enough.

      What keeps you at your current position? What do you like and dislike the most about your job?

    • #3265692

      Those Nutty End Users

      by martin nolan

      In reply to Paper Jam: The Trials of the Printer Guy

          Anyone who has been following this little gem over the past week or so might find the situation familliar.  I’m not suggesting that any of your customers has threatened to call the FBI on you or anything, but we have all dealt with people who think they know more than they actually do about their equipment.  It is a funny story, though I can’t help but feel sorry for Mr. Taylor, who will live on (for another week or two) in internet infamy.  At the same time, the story has struck a chord with service and support techs because dealing with a customer who makes unreasonable demands is a major pain.
          On a tenuously related note, I have seen and heard just about every wacky request a customer can make in my career dealing with people, and I have come to expect a few of my customers to lay one on me every couple of months or so.  I have to spend a lot of time trying to show people why they can’t get what they think they should be able to get out of the copier or printer they have.
          All of this has made me think – whose job is it to educate the customer?
          My natural reaction as a tech is, of course, the salesman who sold them the stupid thing in the first place.
          But in reality, salespeople rarely have the specialized knowledge required to explain some of the finer points of all the equipment they sell.  In a perfect world, maybe, but this is most certainly not one of those.  They need to consult with a technician in many cases to find out how the machine will perform in a particular customer’s environment.  Too often though, in the heat of the moment instead of saying “I’ll check on that,” they say, “Sure, you bet!” to avoid losing a sale.  This puts everyone in a tight spot, but I have recently come to accept the fact that part of my job is telling people what they don’t want to hear and trying to put a happy face on it.  That doesn’t bother me anymore.  What bothers me is when they can’t or won’t understand the explanation I give them.  Luckily, these calls are few and far between (and usually not as extreme as some I have heard of).
          We all have to deliver unpleasant news, and we all have to offer solutions and workarounds to people.  It comes with the territory.  We can’t take the easy way out and tell someone what they want to hear because it does nobody any good.  Until every salesman is a former tech and every customer wakes up reasonable, it’s our job to go out of our way like the CentOS developer to make sure people’s problems get taken care of, whether we feel we should have to or not.

          What kinds of things do you find yourself doing that you’d rather not have to?
         
         
         

    • #3265691

      Those Nutty End Users

      by martin nolan

      In reply to Paper Jam: The Trials of the Printer Guy

          Anyone who has been following this little gem over the past week or so might find the situation familliar.  I’m not suggesting that any of your customers has threatened to call the FBI on you or anything, but we have all dealt with people who think they know more than they actually do about their equipment.  It is a funny story, though I can’t help but feel sorry for Mr. Taylor, who will live on (for another week or two) in internet infamy.  At the same time, the story has struck a chord with service and support techs because dealing with a customer who makes unreasonable demands is a major pain.
          On a tenuously related note, I have seen and heard just about every wacky request a customer can make in my career dealing with people, and I have come to expect a few of my customers to lay one on me every couple of months or so.  I have to spend a lot of time trying to show people why they can’t get what they think they should be able to get out of the copier or printer they have.
          All of this has made me think – whose job is it to educate the customer?
          My natural reaction as a tech is, of course, the salesman who sold them the stupid thing in the first place.
          But in reality, salespeople rarely have the specialized knowledge required to explain some of the finer points of all the equipment they sell.  In a perfect world, maybe, but this is most certainly not one of those.  They need to consult with a technician in many cases to find out how the machine will perform in a particular customer’s environment.  Too often though, in the heat of the moment instead of saying “I’ll check on that,” they say, “Sure, you bet!” to avoid losing a sale.  This puts everyone in a tight spot, but I have recently come to accept the fact that part of my job is telling people what they don’t want to hear and trying to put a happy face on it.  That doesn’t bother me anymore.  What bothers me is when they can’t or won’t understand the explanation I give them.  Luckily, these calls are few and far between (and usually not as extreme as some I have heard of).
          We all have to deliver unpleasant news, and we all have to offer solutions and workarounds to people.  It comes with the territory.  We can’t take the easy way out and tell someone what they want to hear because it does nobody any good.  Until every salesman is a former tech and every customer wakes up reasonable, it’s our job to go out of our way like the CentOS developer to make sure people’s problems get taken care of, whether we feel we should have to or not.

          What kinds of things do you find yourself doing that you’d rather not have to?
         
         
         

    • #3285942

      Valuable Resources

      by martin nolan

      In reply to Paper Jam: The Trials of the Printer Guy

          I don’t know about you guys, but I really didn’t get much in the way of training.  I had a little natural aptitude and a boss willing to take a chance (that would benefit him greatly if it worked out).  That coupled with factory school on a grand total of two models has apparently made me an expert on everything from copiers to printing presses to bindery machinery and networks.  I wouldn’t mind, but I am all alone at my place of employment – no other techs, no knowledgeable service managers, no nothing.  I have had to learn fast or perish, and a few times I have been about ready to try the latter.
          I am always in over my head.  I am constantly working on oddball machines I have never seen before.  I am stretched beyond my limits all the time.  The only way I have been able to make it is through a three pronged approach of:

      • Sweating uncontrollably and drinking beer (after work).
      • Hoarding manuals and e-books having anything to do with repairing anything.
      • Most importantly, I am a regular visitor to copier tech forums.

          After almost a year of struggling, cursing, and generally freaking out, I found several great resources that have saved my proverbial bacon on more than one occasion.  The techs on some sites are more helpful than others, and I wanted to share a couple of the best sites with you, so that you don’t have to try to find them on your own.

          First of all, Smarka.  Smarka is an open board, no password required.  This has its ups and downs.  Anyone can post, which is both an up and a down, but a lot of good techs can be found there.  As long as they don’t think you are an end-user, they will help you out.  The biggest problem is trolls, but the admins of the site try as hard as they can to keep the flaming respectable.
         
          Next, a pair of sites: Copiertalk and Techs Connected.  Both of these sites require registration and proof that you are really a tech.  They both also have public forums where non-techs can post questions, but they are rarely used.  These two sites are the best I have found when it comes to honest and thoughtful advice from other techs.  Both forums share a lot of members, and they both sprung up from an older board that has since closed.  When a tech needs information about anything, these two sites are the first ones to visit.

          There are tons of other great places to look for information, including brand specific sites like P4P Hotel, which covers Ricoh machines and TechChatter, which deals with Canon boxes.  There are also sites oriented more toward the business side of things, but I rarely visit them because I have enough to worry about without accidentally meeting my boss online.

          With the help of some of the guys on the boards above, I am still here stringing corona wire and snorting toner.  Well, maybe that isn’t the greatest endorsement, but without them I would probably be in the nut house right now.

          What resources have you found online to make your life easier?

    • #3285022

      Excitement, Adventure, a Tech Craves not These Things

      by martin nolan

      In reply to Paper Jam: The Trials of the Printer Guy

      Frankly, I have been way too busy lately.

      I mean I get paid by the hour, so I’m not going to complain about having things to do, but everything in the past two weeks has been an emergency.

      It doesn’t help that a real emergency came through town last Thursday in the form of a huge tornado that wrecked a big chunk of Iowa City (which is where I live).

      In the last week, when I haven’t been fixing copiers, I have been cleaning up debris, fighting tornado related traffic, and entertaining a friend of mine whose roof got torn off during the storm.  I’m exhausted, irritable, and less than 100% capable of doing my job.  This weekend is going to be a welcome break for me.

      I have been thinking about it, and although none of my customers has been in too big of a hurry, what would happen if they were?  What if I couldn’t meet contracted response times due to the storm or its aftermath?  Are acts of God listed anywhere in our service contracts?

      I haven’t had much time to check, but I am interested in hearing from other techs out there – What do you do in cases of severe weather or other emergencies?  Do you close up shop for a day and work on cleanup?  Do you have provisions in your contracts?  How about any New Orleans techs – how did you deal (or how are you dealing) with the aftermath of Katrina?  Are customers understanding, or do they just get angry?

      It strikes me that being a technician is only possible during times of order and civilization – so what happens when some of the institutions we take for granted break down, even on a small scale?

      </rant>

      I know I’ve been rambling a little, but it’s something to think about for a few minutes.  As techinicians, our job is to make things work, but sometimes and for a variety of reasons, they just don’t.  What do you do?

      Well, I for one am going to get a beer.

      • #3208415

        Excitement, Adventure, a Tech Craves not These Things

        by mysteriousstranger

        In reply to Excitement, Adventure, a Tech Craves not These Things

        Most of my bosses have been of the “What do you mean, you have a life
        outside the office?!” mentality.  I once took part in putting
        together a Business Impact Analysis for a major financial institution
        for which I was working, and discovered after the document had been
        published that *I* (and only I) was the entire Disaster Recovery
        team.  Um, guys, living in Southern Califrisky means that, if
        there is a massive earthquake and the freeways are damaged, I’m not
        going to be physically able to arrive at work (35 or 40 miles away,
        usually) until those are fixed, which may not be for daaaaaaaays. 
        Needless to say, that DR plan needed a bit of work.  But other
        than that minor issue, I’ve usually been able to overcome weather,
        earthquakes, floods, riots, acts of God, and general cosmic tomfoolery
        well enough to get the job done in a timely fashion.  Knock on
        wood….

    • #3155187

      Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

      by martin nolan

      In reply to Paper Jam: The Trials of the Printer Guy

           You guys should have been there.

           Actually, another copier tech was there (working on another company’s machine near the one I was working on).

           I dropped a wide format drum unit.

           For the unfamilliar, the average wide format drum is over three feet long, three or so inches in diameter, heavy, and extremely fragile.  Consequently, they are – oh I don’t know – about a million times more expensive than a regular format drum.  And I dropped one right in front of another tech from another company.

           Did I feel like an idiot?  I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.

           Luckily, the drum was fine – except for the cracked drive gear which I had no way to replace.

           Let me give you a little tip here.  If you can be reasonably sure the teeth are OK, and you can line them up so that they will mesh properly with whatever is driving them, you can fix a gear and it will hold until you can get back with another one.

           There are several ways to accomplish this, but my favorite two are:

      • Super glue and baking soda
      • Soldering iron

           Since I had no super glue, I opted for the soldering iron.  I heated the iron and cut a few shavings off an old gear to serve as replacement material for the melted plastic that would almost certainly vaporize and go directly into my lungs as soon as the iron was applied to the gear.

           So, while the other tech was there, I played it off and as soon as he left, I frantically started heating my iron.  The gear fix went off without a hitch, and I was beaming – until I replaced the drum into its unit and rotated it to make sure the cleaning blade was seated properly. 

           Turns out one of the pickoff nails had come unseated and gouged a 2mm wide scratch around the entire circumference of the $1200 drum while I rotated it and happily watched my gear turn.

           Luckily, I had some parts in the car, and the customer isn’t down – but frankly I’m surprised I didn’t light their building on fire while I was at it.

           Anyway, yesterday was the worst day ever – until today.

           Today is the day I get to tell my boss. . .

           Tell me about the service call from hell, or the craziest screw up you’ve ever had.  Come on, don’t be embarrassed (well maybe a little).

       

      • #3110897

        Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        by joanne lowery

        In reply to Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        I have two worst days.

        The first was working on an Olivettie TES 501 (Text Editing System) one of the first true purpose built word processing machines. It had a double disk drive, 8″ single sided floppy with a common spindle, you inserted the bottom disk upside down. Anyway, the disk developed a fault and a replacement unit was sent. I installed it and placed the faulty unit back in the packaging cardboard box. What I failed to notice is the wrapping band around the box that I cut off with pliers. As I carried the cardboard box with the drive down from the first floor office to the ground floor I had to walk down a flight of stairs with a small landing half way down.

        As I took my first step the bottom of the packaging opened and the $2000.00 disk assembly dropped onto the stairs. It proceeded to thump itself down to the landing. Then, in slow motion, in flipped over onto its side, over-balanced on the edge of the tread, and continued down the second set of stairs. The receptionist and assorted staff came to have a look at the commotion. My face must have been the shade of a beetroot. Embarrassed doesn’t even cover it! Needless to say the disk unit was a write-off!

        The second bad day was working on a 14″ “Winchester” disk. The old 14″ drives had external encoders and these filled with dust. Ater a while (depending on the environment) the encoder’s slot edges filled with so much dust that the data started writing further along the sector of the disk. With data integrity at stake the encoders needed to be cleaned. Of course cleaning the edge of the encoder meant that the location of the data shifted and became unreadable. So a full backup was carried out onto 8″ 1.2MB floppies before the cleaning was done.

        Having backed everything to floppy I then cleaned the encoders, formattd the disk, wrote the bad track map and restored the disk. After 24 disk writes I rebooted the machine only to receive a “No Operating system” error. No Problem! The first backup disk contained the entire OS and only the OS, so any older diskette would do the trick. I restored a disk from a week back. Still no OS!

        It turned out the diskette formatter PCB was faulty, and the client had not had a good backup for months!

        The only way to restore their system was to go back through their printouts and re-create their database from hardcopy.

        This took about a month with 4 DBA staff working on just one client. After that the process of cleaning encoders was changed and a restore test carried out before the clean. Isn’t it great being on the bleeding edge of technology?

      • #3110881

        Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        by tech

        In reply to Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        It was a weekend and I was working on the client’s desktop PCs, printers, and copiers.   I use an old laptop carrying bag as my makeshift techie toolbox, which is full of cables, tools, diskettes, and a forgotten small box of candy.  As I made my rounds in the building I started to notice the various cubicles and rooms had an ant problem.  From office to office I noticed the ants would soon pop out of nowhere and begin their  rounds.  Soon I needed a diskette and upon having to dive into my toolbox, I noticed that ants had invaded my yummy forgotten box of candy at the bottom of the bag, and thus hundreds of ants were in my bag enjoying the feast!  It was I who was spreading the ants throughout the building!

        Soon after I overhead the client saying that they had hired an exterminator to come monthly to the building.  Coincidence?!

        馃檪

        Craig G.   /  Vienna, VA

         

      • #3110828

        Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        by richard hood

        In reply to Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        Hi Joanne from the previous post, where are you from, I cut my teeth on the full range of Olivetti (note no e, :-)) products and  14″ winchester drives on Cado computers, I remember very well the encoders on the spindle that would clog with dust and require reformatting, used to hate those calls for these with CRC errors.

        While I am here I had a call for a medium size business quite a while ago now that had disk problems with a unix machine, trouble shooting revealed a faulty disk, this was a mirrored pair on an early version raid controller.

        Found I could boot the machine with the faulty disk removed, got the customer to do a full backup, ordered the replacement and went back the next day to install it.
        With new drives they needed to be initialised from the controller BIOS, unfortunatley I initialised the remaining good one and not the new one which I did not realise until I went to boot back into the OS and got no boot device errora , oops.

        Got that sickening feeling you get with data loss, and had to do some techo talk to the customer about how the existing data could mysteriously be removed by installing a new disk drive.
        I needed to do a full reinstall and restore once the RAID was correctly recreated, luckily it all worked in the end.

        Cheers Rich

      • #3110812

        Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        by ivobrosterhus

        In reply to Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        I can identify with your plight, having worked for many years in the
        north and high arctic. One simply can not carry all the parts needed.
        First aid was sometimes all you could do, especially in the old days.
        Here are some tricks I have learned. Carry wire and solder (keep old
        thermistors and photo receptors harnesses) when you get a cracked drive
        gear wrap the uninsulated wire around the shaft of the gear, twist the
        ends of the wire then solder the wire so that you create a metal sleave
        (this works particularly well with nylon gears which do not hold with
        glue). Paper clips make wonderful c-clips and wonderful “staples” for
        “stiching” broken covers. Jewelers rouge and alcohol works well to fix
        scratched drums (perticularly older selinium arsenic drums still
        popular in older large format machines. Clear nail polish works wonders
        on pitted drums. Upper fuser rollers can be cleaned laquer thinner and
        the brought back with silicon oil. Rubber renew will get another 10K
        out feed rollers. Conductive grease works wonder to get drum bearings
        back to conducting ground to the drum. Metal coat hanger wire make
        great pins for broken bypass trays.

      • #3110765

        Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        by heinrich

        In reply to Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        First BIG mistake was in ’90. While working on conference databases in Reflex for some internal clients, I had to re-create all the report. The folder was located on a NetWare 2.12 server and to start fresh I had to delete the *.RXR files… you guessed it… I deleted the *.RXD (database) files.

        As I pressed the [Enter] key I realized my mistake, ran for the console to recover the deleted files. Unfortunately the server already commited the changes to disk and I was unable to recover.

        The client’s staff had to fly the next morning to the conference with their enrolment report, payment report etc. They had no backups and I re-created what I could from .CSV files we had. (No payment information!)

         

        The next (hopefully last) big mistake was in ’01. I was a server team-leader of a big telecoms concern and send a brand new tech out to replace a RAID-5 disk that was faulty on a Compaq server. Since he knew nothing I instucted him just to replace the bottom drive (the faulty one). Unfortunately another ADMIN was called to the site, saw the faulty disk and pulled it out to return it to the office.

        Obviously the new tech replace the bottom drive (a good one) and the raid set was broken.

        Hein – ZA

      • #3112009

        Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        by putergurl

        In reply to Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        Insert comment text here

      • #3111908

        Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        by lynnhall

        In reply to Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        My first IT related job was in ’89 when I was asked to reformat a load of floppies – so it went, insert floppy and type in a: erase *.* ad nauseum until at one point I forgot the A: and erased the entire hard drive!

        Part of my job now is to install new printer cartridges and we have some OKI printers (about 4 different types all with different consumables). One needed a toner cartridge and I proceeded to change it and it wouldn’t fit, tried another one, broke a little bit off the current image drum, tried a new image drum which also didn’t fit! I then discovered that it was a different number of OKI than Ihad been led to believe and that these were all the wrong parts! At approximately ?80 per drum and toner it was an expensive mistake but I have been able to palm off the opened toners around the building so no real harm done!

        By the way, could you explain how to use the superglue and baking soda!

        Lynn

      • #3111868

        Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        by barry za

        In reply to Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        I was working as administrator for a large corporate. Old days (Winnt 4.0).  I logged on as admin to my own pc (I thought) and proceeded to deny access to anyone except my user name and admin.  Well, you guessed it.  I was inundated with calls from all 400 users asking what had happened to their computers.  BTW. I don’t work there anymore.

         

      • #3279331

        Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        by xeroxman303

        In reply to Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        I too had some similar experience when I changed a new drum in a NP6030 machine . I took out the old drum and changed the drum clinning blade . Then I fitted the new drum and without using the dusting pouch (which is a rare occurance ) I insurted the drum unit . After taking 5 copies the drum stopped rotating giving blank copies .When I inspected I found to my otter dismay the new drum gear has broken and it happened in front of the custmer . Fortunately an idia struck my mind and I took off the old drum’s gear and then fitted it to the new drum which to my goodluck worked .The drum complitted its service life without any trouble.

         

        T.K.Acharya

      • #3208430

        Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        by mliang3

        In reply to Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        As I believed that was not the worst day. The most worst day was When I got a service called, and I had to reimage the whole entire Xerox copier. Some how when I starting it by taking out my laptop so I can do my work.  It felft off my hand and I was trying to save it, unluckly I graped the CD-ROM tray instead of the laptop itself.  The only thing I saved was the CD-ROM tray from my laptop, and I dropped the whole entire laptop on the floor right infront of my client.  That’s what I called embarrassing.  There is no worst day then this one in my whole entire life.

      • #3208390

        Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        by amnezia

        In reply to Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        I had a mouse inside a laserprinter – dead, but sticking out of the drum rollers. ?Now there’s another little sod eating the paper in the tray. ?Stopped all the female teachers from using that printer until I’d removed the beastie from the rollers.

      • #3208388

        Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        by amnezia

        In reply to Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        And?even?worse,?I?lost?my?memory?stick?with?lots?of?clients?work?on?it.?
        Fortunately?had?a?backup,?so?it?wasn’t?that?bad.??But?when?I?told?one?of?
        them?his?data?was?wandering?around?somewhere?”out?there”,?he?wasn’t?
        amused.??(Can’t understand why.) ??Why?are?these?things?so?small!!

      • #3206259

        Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        by barryhumphus

        In reply to Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        In the early 1980s I worked at a bank and was responsible for installing a network of automatic teller machines. Each ATM was run by a DEC PDP 1105 minicomputer. Throughout the ATM were sensors that detected electronic and mechanical problems. If a problem was detected, the computer would fire up an automated phone dialer that called an answering service who then called me to go out and see what was wrong. A month or so after installing one in a nearby small town, I started getting random calls for service. In every case I went to this machine, ran diagnostics, found nothing wrong, reset it and went home. Sometimes within an hour, it would call again.

        I finally called the manufcturer’s (TRW) service tech in great frustration and said that the entire machine needed replacement — there was obviously a manufacturer error on the sensors and he had to replace them all. He said that the next time the machine called, call him at home and he would meet me at the machine.

        Within a day, the machine called and I called Ernie LaFluer — a true Cajun. When we met at the ATM and accessed it, Ernie inspected every sensor he could see without disassembling the unit. He also walked completely around the small building housing the ATM, looking very carefully at the walls and on the ground. He then said, “Come with me.” We proceeded to walk accross the parking lot and into a Safeway store. There he bought two large cans of bug spray, returned to the ATM and liberally coated the entire machine and the exterior walls. He said “Problem solved. Let’s have a beer.”

        After a few cold ones he admitted that what we had was an ant problem. Every time an ant crawled across a sensor it kick an error. I didn’t mind paying for his service call though it took a while to convince the bank auditor why he had to pay for bug spray.

      • #3214709

        Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        by noli_7c7_jr

        In reply to Yesterday was the worst day ever, until today.

        Hi there,

        I want you to know that I can relate to your situation. I too am a copier service engineer for the past 15 years and have had several experiences where we have butter fingers where we would drop the smallest and the biggest things related to printers and copiers.

        I also maybe a ton of c-clips, wherein while removing them with your flat screwdriver it would pop out in the air and you would’nt know where it went. that is why it helps to have couple of clips as spare.

        In the late 80’s, | was called in to sort out a copy quality problem. Where the user complained about have black copies. This were the days where you use a Knob of a slider to adjusted the image density from the lightest to darkest. Where the slider is normally set in the middle for normal image density and the farthest left (front of the machine) is the darkest.

        Well. when I came in…there ws this old lady(as old as my grandma actually but having those large chest infront of them) who showed me where the copier is and left me. I tested several copies and I didnt find any fault. so I called the old lady and showed here the copies. ThenI told her if she doesnt mind if she can show me how she makes copies.

        Well, There she was….with her big set of br??ts infront of her place the original on the glass, pressed the print key and moved sideway (left side to the copy tray) to see the prints coming out and there it is…balck copies.

        I told here..could you do that again and make some more copies. Then I noticed when she moved on the left for the print out. her big br??ts is sitting on top of the operational panel and is hitting the copy quality slider. So when she move to the left the slider also moves to the left thereby giving black copies. Oh my Oh my… How could I tell her that it’s her Br??sts tha is causing all the problem. I dont know really how to tell her politely without offending her.

        I had an Idea.. I told her…please make another copy but this time could she be a half foot away from the machine. And while copying she did stand back a half away and presto….good copies.

         

         

         

    • #3206743

      My Achin

      by martin nolan

      In reply to Paper Jam: The Trials of the Printer Guy

      I threw my back out.

      I don’t mean a little twinge or a pulled muscle.

      I’m talking about a full-on, laying-on-the-floor-sitcom-style, can’t-move injury here.

      I did it at work of course, but I don’t know how I could have avoided it.

      So much of my job must be done alone. Even when something huge needs lifting from an awkward angle, or when an old tank of a machine needs to be moved around to access the back (or the bottom) side. I can’t work in a team of two or call another tech in when faced with a heavy object. There are many times when I need to man up and just muscle a piece of equipment.

      I guess the only alternative is to ask the customer, but I hate to do that.

      There are precious few customers who I feel comfortable asking to help me lift something, or hold something heavy or greasy, or anything else. Sure I’ve done it, but I don’t like it.

      I am afraid they’ll drop it for one thing – not because I have a low opinion of them but because I have a natural tendency toward clumsiness myself – but most of all because it isn’t their job to be the assistant technician.

      So, I end up hurting myself once in awhile and my girlfriend claims that my job will one day turn me into a hunchbacked, pill-popping cripple. But I don’t notice her volunteering to come out and help me lift things either.

      It’s tough, sometimes. Part of the reason I like this job is the independence, but maybe I shouldn’t try to do everything myself.

      Anyway, I need to shamble off to the bathroom and pop some pills.

      What do you do if you need an extra hand? Have you hurt yourself trying to be Superman?

      • #3208417

        My Achin

        by mysteriousstranger

        In reply to My Achin

        Yes, I concur with your take on heavy objects.  Sometimes, you’re
        in there at 3 AM, all alone, and there’s nobody to ask for help. 
        I’ve picked up and carried rack-mount UPSes, Cisco routers and switches
        (the really big, really heavy enterprise-class monsters that look like
        refrigerators), and once, even a 6 KW generator (didn’t have wheels,
        new-in-the-box).  But the best award for “DUH!” has to be in the
        old LaserJet 4 days, when the network-attached monsters with a feed
        tray would top 100 lbs, easy.  I could just reach down in the box
        and yank it out, but I had colleagues who weren’t blessed with my, ah,
        stature.  One day, I asked one of these colleagues (maybe 5 foot
        3, 150 in a soaking-wet fur parka) how he got them out.  He looked
        at me like I was crazy, said “Like this,” turned the opened box over on
        its top, and pulled the box off the printer.  OK, stencil “Idjit”
        on my forehead, I’m done for the nonce.

      • #3281139

        My Achin

        by domiles

        In reply to My Achin

        Being 5’2 3/4″ tall, weighing 120 #’s and having a heart condition that precludes lifing over 8#’s, after many years of being physically active and strong, I too, at last, learned to turn the box over. Another alternative ( figured it out when having to move and Air Condition in my now debilated state) is using a roll around table or “lift gurney” to get things from point a to b.  The ones that lift are a bit too pricy for me, but since you are still young and employed, you might be able to afford one from Office Max or you might get your employyer to  buy one now that you have had to file an injury claim.  Copy machine service and delivery people have been using them for decades.

        I wish you a speedy recovery and no recurrance.

        Diane Ollivett-Miles

      • #3281131

        My Achin

        by jody.johnson

        In reply to My Achin

        Try being a 53 year old woman.  I have had to move huge laser printers, old huge monitors and not to mention unboxing and setting up hundreds of computers.  I try to use a cart when possible, but I have bi-weekly appointments with the chiropractor.  Oh and I almost forgot, I work for a school district in the desert.  In the summer when school is out of session there is no air conditioning running.  It hit 122 outside this summer, makes the rooms lord only knows!  I can wring my clothes out when I get home.  Frankly, I need to retire!

      • #3281128

        My Achin

        by bhankedfw

        In reply to My Achin

        I Know I am not SuperMan 

        When I run into a problem where I can’t move an object printer, copier, server, switch or what ever.  I have learned to swallow my pride and ask for help.  If I am working for myself on a job I take into consideration the need of an assistant helping me move an extra heavy item.  Then I build the cost of a helper for that portion of the job into the contract.  I am 50 and have learned the hard way that bringing some one else to the job with me is better than loosing the ability to work for a week or two.  You have to weigh out what is more important, your helth or the little bit extra that you will earn if you are succesfull moving a item you have no  right attemping to move on your own.  A cart is another item that I take to every job but there is just no replacement for a good able bodied assistant. 

        My advise is swallow your pride and bring help with you to the jobs that you know will require additional assistance 

      • #3281118

        My Achin

        by cblair_fcc

        In reply to My Achin

        running solo on anything is never a good or safe idea especially if you are moving heavy equipment.
        I truly believe in the buddy system…and to be honest, if they are getting the same pay as me and I have a reduction in my pay because of it, its quite alright if that is part of my defense against putting my back out…or worse.
        If you think about it, you will absorb a lot of your money into seeing docs, buying prescriptions, and possibly a chiropractor anyway so use that money sensibly and get a partner!
        I have done jobs solo and have put myself in some pretty dangerous situations that could have very well cost my life…like dangling from a span ladder trying to drop a line of cable with semi trucks speeding by me. The pole was right out by the freeway.
        The wind from the trucks wizzing by at high speeds created the ladder to be unstable and I lost my footing and hung from the safety harness shocked trying hard to hang onto the pole and gain a balance between me, the pole and the ladder.
        I gained the balance and canceled the job till I could have some help.
        I could have lost a lot more then money that day…lesson learned!

      • #3281117

        My Achin

        by nealstar

        In reply to My Achin

        I’m 61 years old and not doin’ too badly for a guy my age–except I’m
        still working for a living<GRIN>. I’m a one man shop and prefer
        to work alone except for pulling cable which I always sub-contract.
        Whenever I have something that’s really too heavy, I call on my
        lifetime hero, Archimedes, and employing one or more basic machines
        (wedge, lever, etc.) manage to “git ‘er done” without harming myself.
        There’s always a way for homo habilis (tool using man).

        Neal

      • #3281100

        My Achin

        by barbedwire

        In reply to My Achin

        Yeah, I’m the only tech and get to heave equipment around and experience the aching back too.  Once, I was carrying an old DEC 21 inch CRT into the computer room and my heal caught on the metal trim on the edge of the raised floor – 6 stiches in and on my chin after it made violent contact with the monitor.  Now I try and find someone to help a little more often than before.

      • #3281093

        My Achin

        by cas1949

        In reply to My Achin

        Do you mean “laying” (transitive, as for eggs)  or lying (intransitive)? Clearly, English is not your native language….

      • #3280861

        My Achin

        by michael.stretz

        In reply to My Achin

        Nothing looks more unprofessional than trying to move a large piece of IT equipment solo. Out of respect for your customer’s property, always get enough help. For example, I use 3 people to install a $40,000 rack-mount enterprise-class switching chassis – 2 to hold it in the rack and 1 to install the fasteners. Think of it this way – will your customer be impressed with you if you drop the new piece of hardware he just paid for?

      • #3280435

        My Achin

        by gsg

        In reply to My Achin

        I used to be able lug around the 21 inch monitors.  I’m talking the very first monsters that came out that had separate RGB plugs that weighed a ton.  Now, I’ve had shoulder surgery, and had a large chunk of my collarbone removed on one side.  There is nothing holding the shoulder in the socket but muscle, so I separate my shoulder a lot, and have learned to pop it back into socket on my own (this involves a lot of loud cursing).  I’ve learned to compensate using my knee as a platform, my other arm, and an office chair.  Those office chairs make great carts.  I have a really old one at home that the back falls off.  I’ve just left the back off, and use it as a cart.  I’ve also learned to lift using what I call the step up method.  If I have to lift from the ground to a desk, I first lift the item to something about a foot tall, then from there, lift it to something a bit higher, and so on.  I don’t know why, but it’s easier than one big lift.

      • #3280117

        My Achin

        by grpaki

        In reply to My Achin

        Good greif, haven't you guys got a health and safety department at work, and haven't you done a "safe lifting" course. Ignore regulations and you may well find you're not covered by your employers insurance.

Viewing 11 reply threads