On Call Welcome to On Call, that time of the week where you can take time out from fretting about the days just past and nod sympathetically/take delight in tales of those that must smile and nod before the wrath of the user.

“Max” got in touch to tell us about the time he was faced with what he delicately called a “trouble ticket” in the early part of the 21st century.

“Being the only IT support guy in an office can be a trying experience,” he told us, “being that guy in a research facility requires regular… ‘medication'”

We feel your pain, Max.

On the day in question, Max was unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of a ticket from one of the research scientists at his establishment, a US-based automotive supplier. This particular person “was a bit notorious for being rather rude to the underlings and lowly support folk.”

The scientist, being a Very Important Boffin, had been blessed with a 20 inch CRT monitor. However, after a mere two days, the shiny new screen had seemingly died a mysterious death. Max told us “It was brand new, not even a scratch. It powered on, showed sync, but no video at all.”

“Knowing his disdain for mere support folk,” Max went on, “I quickly got another new monitor (still in the box) and headed to his lab.”

Having got the VIB’s permission, Max unpacked the brand spanking new screen, swapped the CRTs over and, with a flourish, turned on the new display.

Nothing. “Again, no video at all” said Max.

The VIB’s response was pretty much what you might expect: “Why would I bring him a monitor without testing it? blah blah blah…” said Max, likely sparing us the fruitier remarks from the frustrated boffin, let down once again by a minion.

Max trudged back to his desk and gave the screens a quick test before risking a third. “As if by magic BOTH worked!” Odd.

Regular readers will know never to trust the cable, so “I took the ‘old’ monitor back to his majesty and reconnected using a known good power cable and monitor cable…

“No video, much to his delight,” admitted Max.

The CRTs featured on-screen controls, so Max decided to try some adjustments. Bizarrely, the controls did not show up either. What in blue blazes was going on? The power light was burning bright, but the CRT remained bereft of, well, anything.

“As a last resort,” said Max, “I hit the manual degauss button and was rewarded with colours, strange colours in a bizarre pattern.

“His highness rather sarcastically remarked that the ‘broken monitor was displaying what appeared to be a…’ and then fell silent and turned red as a tomato.”

The VIB then proceeded to very carefully, as though it was some sort of explosive device, move a small plastic box about the size of a deck of playing cards away from the screen.

“He then asked me very politely to try the degauss button again,” said Max, “the monitor worked!”

The usually unpleasant scientist suddenly turned on the charm and apologised profusely. He even offered to buy Max lunch.

“OK, but what’s in the box?”

The VIB carefully picked up the box and opened it. Within was a miniature head resembling Gwyneth Paltrow piece of metal… a very powerful rare Earth magnet.

“Lunch,” said Max “was delicious.”

Ever been on the receiving end of an apologetic lunch from an embarrassed user? Or seen the most V of VIPs turn a shade of exciting colours when they realise their mistake? Of course you have, and On Call is the place to share the schadenfreude. ®

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