Did I just really see that?

Tuesday was a good day. Nice and sunny. Work was quite local. Some of the sights I saw stopped me in my tracks.

So the first contestant was a retail site in Cheltenham. It was the one I’d been out to the day before and had a power supply got “POP” at me. So suitably armed with a replacement power cable and new PC, I swapped over the bits and was very happy to see that the screen came on and the printer had a power light. YAY! It’s alive! So after tidying up and doing the all the forms and things I went back top the parts depot and dropped off the used parts. Seeing as it was mid day, some lunch was in order.

So after that is was back to Cheltenham. A retail customer in one of the arcades was having some troubles with their reports printer, in that they were getting a smear down the middle of the page. I thought it was worth taking a look at. And initially I was chuffed to find some debris in the back of the printer. But with that cleared out, it still wasn’t working. Drat. Round one to the printer. I admitted defeat and got a replacement ordered for them. As i was walking back through  the arcade, something in the window of Lush caught my eye. i couldn’t quite believe what I had seen. I stopped turned on my heal, and yes I really did see what I thought I’d saw.

Lush - Poster

I would encourage all curious parties to go and have a look at the Lush web site


I was so stunned I forgot to take a photo. Seriously, there is no caption. No explanation. That photo above taken from the web site is all there is. I suppose you have to go in to the store and ask. I would have loved to have spent some time just watching Joe Public. To see how many people walked by with out seeing and those that saw it what their facial expression was. No time for that. I needed to go back to my first site. Apparently the bar code scanner wasn’t working. Sure enough the plug had come of the of the PC. Plugged the scanner back in and rebooted the PC. Result! That’s working.

Off to Huntley to try and sort out a network problem at a retail site out there. After a while I had found that there was naff all wrong with the hub. Although I did chuckle when I found a USB plug stuck in a RJ45 socket on a hub that isn’t being used by our kit. The problem came down the on board network card on till two. So another call I don’t get to fix, but at least the problem has been identified. So with that all arranged it was back home to fire off the end of day emails and try and find out what happened to a part for a job I did back in March. I think I figured it out.

So a relaxed evening in front of the computer playing WOW. Simple pleasures.

Sunny Monday

There something about nice weather that seems to lift people’s mood. There are certainly more smiles around. I’ve had a week off work, it’s a Monday, and I’m in a good mood. Work was very manageable. I went to retail site in Cheltenham to fix a reciept printer, but instead found the problem to be with the power cable. A little after that the problem with the power cable became a problem with the PC as something went “frazzle”. So that’s a cable and PC that is now needed, but the staff on site were OK with this. The next site at Brokworth was also a straight forward affair. Turned up and reprogrammed a bar code scanner. Had great fun testing a whole varity of different products to see if it would work OK, and it did. So a very easy going day all in all.

Snowflake button

A good sign that winter is over is when you have to use the air con in the car. OK, so wearing a black shirt won’t help, and the scenic does have a huge window screen. But I did find that it was getting beyond pleasantly warm.

So the last of the 12 hour days. And the added bonus of being on holiday next week. A bit of an odd day. Kinda mostly half victories. So the first job was a retail site in Ross-On-Wye. One of the cash draws had gone to bits. Thankfully the nuts and bolts were still inside. So it was easy enough to put back together. But unfortunately it wouldn’t fire afterwards. So an replacement was ordered and as a favor for the site, I swapped over the cash draws between tills 1 & 3 as they wanted till 1 working more than the other two tills on site. So a happier customer, just not an actual fix.

The next call that came in was for a hospitality site in Cardiff. Their PC had gone down and taken their tills with it. So a priority job. Luckily there was a spare PC in the Cardiff depot. So down to Cardiff to get the PC, and from there to site. As I got there I realised that the staff were happily using the tills. Had I got the right place? The manager came over and said “hi” and explained what hadn’t been written in the log. Yes it’s true that the PC wouldn’t start. But apparently they just kept persistently restarting it till it eventually got the hint and booted up. But the BIOS battery was beyond hope, so the date had reverted back to September 1999. As the staff don’t have access to change the date and time on the system they started session in the past. Some one’s going to have fun sorting the data out. So I gave the manager some options. I could cannibalize the the replacement PC or the BIOS battery and fit it to the PC, but that would take down his tills while I swapped them over. About 5 to 8 minuets. Or alternatively I could just set the date and time and have the call turned into an arranged visit for tomorrow morning before they open to the public. The manager went for the latter. So I set the date and time and then let the call planners know the change in the calls status. Another half victory.

So on to the next call. Still in Cardiff but down at the docks. Another hospitality site with a faulty till. The part had already been shipped to site. And the staff had shown some very good initiative buy plugging the new till in. So all I had to do when i got there was boot it up and change the settings to make it the right till number and all that kind of thing. Reboot, reload and test. Quick and simple and easy. How every job should be. If the site had only just packed away the old till and field in all the paper work for me. On second thoughts that would put me out of a job.

Not a bad way to end the week. I’ve now got a week off work. So a little time to myself and then over to see my family for a few days. Back in time for frag fest. Should be a good giggle, but families are tricky things. You can never tell what’s going to happen.

Oh, forgot to mention. When I stopped for a quick bit of lunch I saw this mutant bike.

Mutant bike in Ross-On-Wye

Displaced feeling of time

That’s the problem with shift work. Your perspective of time gets a little out of focus. I had that Friday feeling on Wednesday. It’s now Saturday. I’ve no idea what day of the week my mind thinks it is. Possibly a Tuesday maybe?

Friday was a good day. All the work piled up at the end of the day. The first job that came through in the morning was for a job that needs to be done after a site has closed to the public, so that wouldn’t happen till the end of the shift. So all the other jobs kind of shuffled around. So the day slowly accelerated, ending with a bit of a mad dash to the last job as time was running on and the previous calls had snowballed a bit.

For a Saturday it was a very easy going day. One of the calls even fixed itself. Rang the site to find out what kind of screen they had. They told me that had a working kind. RESULT! So all I’ve had to do is attend a retail site in Hereford and replace a couple of customer display units. Straight forward job. So just one more day to go and it will be Monday. And for me that means holiday. Yippee! Some time off to go and visit the family. Right, I’m off to bed.

A bit more challenging

So after a some straight forward days, a job that was a bit more challenging came through. A hospitality site out at Blackwood had a till that wouldn’t turn on. So a part was ordered and shipped to site. The complications began when I arrived there and there turned out to be a couple of different faults. So till 3 wouldn’t turn on, now this one I knew about and was what I was sent out to fix. Then there was a problem with the server key reader not working on till 2. Well till 3 first. A simple case of blown PSU. So take the PSU off the new till and fit it to till 3. Well that kind of worked. The till now starts and the screen is briefly visible on the first part of the boot up. But the screen soon goes blank, but this doesn’t stop the till from starting. Which is good as all the drinks orders get printed out there. A couple of cold boots and it’s having none of it. OK, a bit weird. There’s no phone signal in the place, but as soon as you step out side you get nearly a full signal. So I retreat to he garden to get some ideas off the expert on this kind of kit. Apparently it’s a known fault and I’m given a couple of things to try. Excellent.

Well before that I take a look at till 2. The problem with the key reader comes down to a broken wire on the back of the server key reader. The real surprise came from the state of the power cable. Due to very poor design the power cable was being very slowly cut through. There was no space for the cables, so every time the cash draw is slammed shut, it was cutting through the power cable where it looped over the back of the cash draw and underneath a shelf. So I disabled the power cable and used the one off the receipt printer to power the till. The manageress though wanted the till and the printer working. I showed her the cable and she seemed unconcerned. I explained that metal cash draw and power cable shouldn’t be allowed to play together. She explained that it was vital that the food orders print off here as they are doubling up in the kitchen. I can see how that is important to her, but I can’t leave a cable like that. So she goes off to get an electrician and I wrap a copious amount of insulating tape around the wire and get the printer back on.

Back to till 3. For this I’m going to need a monitor. So it’s easier to take the till to the back office, rather than bring the monitor out of the office to the till. After a bit of tinkering, till 3 is set up and it appears that all is fine with the till for starting up, it just doesn’t want the screen to work. So after trying to change the resolution a couple of times it still doesn’t want to play. Fine, you win till. I plug the till back in on the bar, as at least the printer is working for the drinks orders. It’s a really odd set up for the remote order printing, but that is a whole different can of worms and it’s getting late in the afternoon and I really must get lunch.

So I get tidied up and get the kit back into the car. Fill in the various forms and send of the email to get the job cleared. The manageress claims that she raised a separate call for the other till, so I’ll deal with that one when it comes through. Finally time to get some lunch. I was beginningto loose my concentration. I feel a lot better for something to eat. So I take a look at the details for the next job. Well it couldn’t be simpler. Attend a retail site and collect a part that has been delivered to site. No fault. Just go get a part. So after lunch I drive to the site and collect the part. Filling in the paper work and sending off the email tool longer than the actual job. Not that it was a job. I can’t even begin to figure out why the hell the part was delivered to the site in the first place. But it’s an easy job. So with that done it’s off home. There’s a nasty surprise of there is next to sod all food in the house, but I’m too tired to go out and shop. So I make do with half a chocolate egg and a sarnie. Not great, but it does the job.

Supprisingly cheerfull

I woke up to day in a surprisingly cheerful mood. I’m not sure what is causing it and I’m not going to complain. There is something nice about starting the day with a smile on your face. Even if the Wii Fit Board seems determined to lecture me. Well his batteries are running low, I’m going to let the little sod starve.

Work is continuing to be simple and straight forward, which is all kinds of good. So after triaging the calls that came in, it didn’t take long for parts to be arranged. So down the road to Bristol to collect a generic monitor, then hope over the bridge and up to Hereford. The staff were greeted with a 50 megawatt smile and it didn’t take long to replace the monitor. A simple fix and one happy customer. It’s definitely the kind of transaction I like. Simple work = maximum happy.

The next job was also a doddle to do. Just a little remote to get to. It was a retail site over out at Llandrindod Wells. Some awesome sceanery on the driver over there. I got to the site and found that the staff had already fitted the replacment part. So all I had to do was take away the old part. So just paperwork to fill in and then a drive home. So all in all a very straight forward day.

The evening was a giggle. I had ordered “Crysis – Maximum Edition”, and it was waiting for me when I got home. A bit of a massive install. I lost count of the giga-bytes. What I was after was the mod. The geek in me loves the Mech concept. So I was very impressed with the “Mech Warrior – living legend” mod that I had seen running on Fade’s rig some time ago. However the mod is about 1.8 gig. So I was looking at a few hours of download to say the least. So with that ticking over I gave Crysis a whirl. Very nice. So before I got totally immersed in the game, I saved at a check point and left eh PC downloading and went to bed.

A simple pace.

If there is a balance to things, then I’m going to be up against it in the future. The jobs and work load have been so simple and straight forward of late. So that would mean there has to be a balance when the work load will become heavy and the jobs complex. So far it’s the straight forward part. The first job was a hospitality site in the middle of Cheltenham. The problem had been reported as a blank monitor. When I got to site the manager told me that it had been working all morning but I took a look at it anyway. If Iwere to guess I’d say the power cable had probably come out a little. Probably due to the tie wraps. I hate tie wraps. They’re all well & good in their place. But when some one has bound everything together it’s more of a hassle than anything. So considering there is no slack on any of the wires, the staff probably tried to move the keyboard or mouse and the power cable worked it’s way loose. So a couple of minuets work with the cutters to remove the offending items and make sure all the wires are firmly home, and the job was done. And that was pretty much it for ages. Eventually another job did come in for a retail site over at Caldicot. But as the part wasn’t going to arrive at the Cardiff depot till 5:00pm there wasn’t a lot I could do other than be patient. Time eventually rolled by I got my hands on a brand new part. So with that on board it was off to site. A quick hello to the staff and then swap over the screen. Simple.

Also you’ve got to try Galaxy with cookie chunks. It’s like the bust chocolate chip cookie in the world, but inverted. Trust me on this. Where as a chocolate chip cookie has little chunks of chocolate inside. Galaxy reversed this hand have a chocolate bar with little chunks of cookie in it. OH so nice. Got to love Easter. A time when it’s OK to abuse chocolate.

Take the tape off first

Thank Crunchie it’s Friday.

So the first gig was a retail site in Gloucester. A good way to start the working day with a job on you front door step. So a short drive in to the city centre. The problem had been reported as a problem with the HP printer used for reports. Found that the problem was the fact that site had recently installed a new black ink cartridge and had forgotten to remove the protective tape from over the print head part. That made me smile. So not far to travel and a simple fix.

On to the next job. A retail site over at Caldicot. But first I stopped of at the Bristol parts depot to return the unused and faulty kit that I had on board. Now the job was to replace the touch screen. But I got to site and found that the courier hadn’t been. Now that will make replacing the screen a little difficult. A quick chat will call management reviled that the courier wasn’t going to be delivering the part unit the next day. So a little bit of customer support with the owner on site and it was time to get some lunch.

Seeing as the next job was going to be down the road in Chepstow, getting lunch in Chepstow seemed like the best option. A nice relaxing lunch break listening to the rain pound the hell out of the roof of the car. Thankfully it did stop raining by the time lunch was over. So on to the third job. It was for a retail site. the fault was reported as one of the till coming up with “Please insert system disk” message. What it actually turned out to be was a message about the date and time needing setting. So I set the date & time. Happy days. With no other work lined up and drove back home and worked my way through the usual process of reports & emails.

With that all done I can look forward to having two days off. YIPPY!

So a typical Friday evening ensued. In other words Frag Fest! A good giggle, all in all. As soon as the server filled up it got in to it’s usual pace of fun & forelocks with a large helping of banter. Nothing like a nice evening of chasing your friends down with a flame thrower.

Mixed results

A bit more of a challenge today. The first job was a retail site outside of Hereford. There was a till that wasn’t playing nice with something plugged into it. So the process was going to be change the till chassis to see if this would fix the problem. It did fix the report problem, but created a bigger problem in the process. So after trying a couple of things suggested by my team leader, I eventually had to call it a fail on fit and restore the original chassis. Ironically the till then started working properly. Not sure if this is a temporary fix. So i asked the manageress to monitor the problem and re-log it if it needs doing again. So a mixed result for that one.

After some lunch it was off to another retail site in Abergavenny. The back office PC was shutting it’s self down. Sounded like an over heat thing. And when I took the panels off the PC it became very clear what the problem was. The PC had been acting like a hoover, so it looked like the inside of a dust bag. The CPU fan was layered with so much dust that the fan couldn’t spin. So a copious amount of hoovering out solved that one. With the air flow restored and all the fans spinning properly it was a much happier PC. So I gave it a while to see what it would do. The hardware monitor in the BIOS showed that the CPU was holding a steady 40c. So a quick check for errors on the disk thankfully returned no problems. Even after that, going back into the BIOS showed the CPU was still a comfortable 40c. Sorted. I had a chat with the manager and hopefully all will be good with the PC, but you never can tell. So the manager is going to keep and eye on it and start running the daily back ups again.

Another peaceful evening. Had a chat with a friend of mine on the phone for a while, so it was good to catch up. Only one more working day to go and then I can have a couple of days off. Happy days.

Back to my childhood

A rather unexpected and excellent day all in all. My first job was a retail site in Newport. A case of reload a till. Took a little while to work my way through the manual but the staff on site were a great giggle. Merrily chatting away and the conversation got around to childhood TV programs and cartoons. It was really fun to be reminded of cartoons and programs that i haven’t thought about in years. And an odd realisation that for all the education Ishould have been remembering has taken a back seat to remembering the names of the characters from the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon. Also one of the staff admitted to having a crush on He-Man. that then lead to odd observations of a character that wore pink tights and then went for a furry pair of pants. It certainly made the job of reloading a till a lot more pleasurable.

After a spot of lunch it was off to another retail site down the road, still in Newport. Cash draw not firing. Simply re-seat the data cables and reboot the till. End result, one working till. Happy days. So all in all a very fun working day.

The evening was also nice and relaxed. Just making a mental note to disbalieve anything I see or hear tomorow morning. It’s the first of April, so it’s time for April fools. Expect weirdness.