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Dancing can be dangerous - true tales from an ex-IT support man Episode 8

My apologies for the hiatus – been away and then contracted the dreaded Covid… So, to ease back into the blog and continue the saga that is my life in commerce: The site at which I was working when I last reported was, as I already stated a while back, an ex-banking hall, complete with safe in the basement which we used as a tape and disk storage area.   To transport the disks and tapes up and down the stairs would have been a genuine chore had we not had a mini-elevator for the job.   On the ground floor (that’s the first floor, for all the septic tanks (yanks) reading this – I can dream, can’t I?) the door was about 4 feet tall, with a covered space of about 6 feet above it which housed the winch mechanism but which was otherwise empty. This was used in the normal fashion in the main but, occasionally, it afforded us some fun.   For example, the lift (that’s the real name for an elevator, Yanks – remember who invented the English language?) was operated manually without being o

"Stop pressing that button!!!" - true tales from an ex-IT support man Episode 7

Having progressed as far as I could at my first job, where I was still being paid as a trainee, even though I was frequently sent to a satellite office to supervise the operator there when there was a staff shortage, I decided to move on.  My decision was prompted after an episode in the satellite office when I informed the resident operator that the data we had been sent from a supplier had been inadvertently been written backwards on the tape that we had received, and that he had to load the tape in reverse by switching the take-up spool to the top spindle and loading the “reversed” tape onto the take-up spool. This action should have been rejected by any operator worth his salt, as it would have been impossible to load a tape in this manner, but this guy tried at least ten times before realising he was being wound up.   I say “at least” as, after ten times, I had slipped of my chair and onto the floor, clutching my sides and gasping for breath from laughing so hard.   It was at this

The end of the beginning - true tales from an ex-IT support man Episode 6

For those of you hanging on my every word (and I know that I may sound delusional, but let me have SOMETHING...) this episode deals with some sundry occurrences that happened towards the end of my time at the bureau before moving on to pastures new.  These may seem somewhat less than the norm one would expect for a professional IT outfit, even bordering on the perverted, certainly they could be considered juvenile but, hey-ho! For example, I had always wondered why Brian's night-shift attire usually included faded denim jeans, down each inside leg of which were distinct brownish patches starting at the crotch and reaching halfway down the thighs. The cause of these discolourations was a source of internal discussion in my addled brain: were they ironed incorrectly? Perhaps there may have been an incident involving a particularly volatile curry and the lack of nearby "facilities"? Eventually, the cause became clear during one night shift. As I have mentioned (countless ti

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall - true tales from an ex-IT support man Episode 5

Throughout life, one learns what is, and what is not, behaviour conducive to a professional demeanour. In this edition of the blog, I will be setting out the hard lessons of life learned by me in my early career, when I was still wet behind the ears and when my parents were saying to me (as I said to all three of my daughters) "Why don't you leave home now while you still know everything?"   Three examples of this "not-well-thought-out" behaviour sprung to mind when composing this blog, which happened at the start of my long IT career, but which stuck with me through life: each provides a moral that translates into adulthood. First, I'd like to recount the tale that bears out the proverb that Idle hands are the devil's workshop. As I have mentioned in previous blog editions, although the bureau work was quite often fast-paced, with jobs being run in quarter-hour chunks, one after a relentless other, there were also frequent runs which looked after themse

More shenigans - true tales from an ex-IT support man Episode 4

Carrying on with my career, another client at the bureau was a magazine for the Arts, whose customers included several high-profile names: actors/actresses; politicians; CEOs; members of the Royal family.  Our job was to take the data supplied to us by the publisher client, sort them and then print them out on pages of sticky labels on that damned ICL 1933 printer (I HATED that machine - noisy, dirty and, as I stated in the "Tales from an old computer bod - how I got to be a cynic" blog, definitely  vindictive).  We received the data on a series of multi-platter hard disks called EDS30.  These stored a massive (!) 30mb of data.  No, that wasn't a misprint - the graphic on the left here was a single EDS30 (more or less) that held 30 Mb  of data - they weighed a ton and were very susceptible to damage, especially if dropped! We liked this client coming in to deliver the disks, as the driver invariably brought with him a case of 24 cans of Carlsberg Special Brew which he h

Don’t be an ostrich – You need to be ready for MTD for VAT AND Self-assessment

Don’t be an ostrich – You need to be ready for MTD for VAT AND Self-assessment Below is a modified extract from an article on HMRC’s website – it is intended to give the whys and wherefores of the need for MTD readiness for businesses and for those sole traders and individuals whose taxable earnings from self-employment exceeds £10,000 per year. This would include landlords as well. The content is, I regret, very long and somewhat dry, but it is very important it is understood by the relevant organisations and individuals that there is an imperative requirement to comply – just ignoring the facts will inevitably result in problems with tax issues down the line. There are new penalty procedures being introduced by HMRC that could prove very expensive should these be necessary to be levied by HMRC on those organisations and individuals who do NOT comply.   Since 2019, the vast majority of VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold (£85,000) have bee