Back in the days when there was such a thing as "repair", a friend of mine worked for a TV repair shop. He would often get calls from someone whose TV would not turn on. He knew if he asked the potential custormer "Are you sure the TV is plugged in?" the caller would say "Do you think I'm an idiot? Of course it's plugged in!" and he didn't want to have to make a service call and discover that the TV was in fact not plugged in and then have to charge for a service call -- not good customer relations.
So he'd tell the caller: "Some TVs don't work if the plug is in the socket upside-down. Try unplugging the set and see if it works if you plug it in the other way." The caller would go to do this and discover that the TV wasn't plugged in at all. The caller would come back and say "Yep, that was the problem! Thanks!"
Allowing customers to save face is a good way to build a customer base for when there are real problems.
Reminds me of a TV repairman story. Seems the picture suddenly became snowy, as the repairman was walking to the customer's door he glanced up at the antenna. There were several birds perched on it.
He told the customer the problem was possibly all those birds. Then he pulled the set away from the wall and noticed one wire of the twin-lead from the antenna had come loose (a fairly common problem). He re-attached the wire and got a nice picture. Meanwhile the customer had disappeared.
Suddenly he heard a loud BANG! The customer walked back in with a smoking shotgun and said "Got them pesky birds! Did that fix it?"
He got such a good laugh he did not even charge for the call.
Enabling the customer to save face is brilliant - and probably accelerates the solution! My high schoo,l teacher used to find that errors in complex mathematical problems were usually trivial addition errors. His mantra was" Higher mathematics is never sufficient, one must be able to add and subtract". I suppose in electrical engineering, we might say "Follow the wire connections from end to end".
I had a similar experience with my first (and so far only) smartphone, but mine had to do with the camera. I could get good -- not great, but decent -- pictures with it sometimes, but any time the flash went off my pictures were horrible. After fumbling with the flash and camera settings for a bit, I had finally resigned myself to taking the phone back to the store when I noticed that one corner of the screen had a peculiar mark on it.
Upon checking further, I realized that the "mark" was where a bit of protective film had been roughed up a little. It turns out that when the salesman unboxed the phone in the store and put it into its case, he had neglected to remove the film. Every time the flash went off, the light was diffused through the film, which also covered the camera lens. Removing the film fixed the problem and saved me a little face.
@Prabakhar - this reminds me of a prank pulled on my by my workmate (one of an endless series of them.....)
He covered the speaker holes in my telephone headphones with white double sided tape. Then, so I would not notice, he put black insulation tape over that, so on cursory inspection it looked normal. Took me a while to figure it out, especially as the phone was old and we'd had some problem with others of the same type giving low output . It was one of his better pranks.....
@ScRamJet: When he stretches his legs under the desk it goes off. Heh Heh Heh.
Although not related, this reminded me of something that happened only yesterday. When I came out of our bedroom on my way to join my wife out on our back deck, I became aware of a strange "scratching" sound.
It was one of those sounds that bounces off the walls so you aren't quite sure where it's coming from. I thought it might be one of our cats, so I went hunting, but I couldn't see anything. When I stopped walking, so did the sound. I looked around but couldn't see anything, so I started to head out ... the two cats were sitting next to the back door.
Hmmm. I went back down the corridor into the laundry room for another look. It took me ages to realize that the sound was coming from some new "vacation / swimming / whatever" shorts that my father-in-law had given me for my recent birthday -- no wonder the sound stopped when I stopped walking.
I felt like a fool (but where was I going to find one at that time of the day? LOL)
Max, I had a similar episode years ago that involved smells. I was sitting in my cube at work when it suddenly smelled like my coworker in the next cube had a bad case of gas. Finally, I could take it no more and got up to get some fresh air. Walking by the next cube, it was empty, and I thought the occupant must have got up and left. I came back a few minutes later and the air had clearerd. I resumed working and the smell reappeared. Again it became intolerable and I got up for a short walk. Walking by the next cube, it was empty, and I thought Steve must have got up and left again. What are the odds? On returning to my cube, the air had cleared and I resumed working only to have the smell return. This time I decided to suspect something closer to home and sure enough found a good size desposit of dog doo on my shoes.
@dt_hayden: This time I decided to suspect something closer to home and sure enough found a good size desposit of dog doo on my shoes.
LOL Good one.
A couple of evenings ago my wife and I were reading / on our iPads / watchingTV (typical multi-tasking). She was on the sofa and I was in my command chair. Every now and then I would notice her look up at me -- so I'd look at her and give her a smile.
Eventually she said: "Do you have gas?" It surned out she hadn't noticed one of our dogs was curled up pressed against the sofa under her feet -- he was being a little "potent" as it were and she was at ground zero -- meanwhile I was "upwind" of both of them because the air vents are in the ceiling a bit behand my chair.
@dt_hayden Your story about dog poo gave me a good chuckle on an otherwise dismal Monday with a holiday weekend seeming very far off. I had a similar, yet entirely different, experience with a bad smell. We were on an airplane and were seated almost directly across from the lavatory. Midway into flight, a miasma filled the air that I could only surmise was emanating from the toilet area. A flight attendant came by, sniffed, and turned on her hell and walked away. She came back, wielding a spray can, presumably with deodoarant and began to spray mightily in the aisles and passenger seats nearby. I suddently noticed that the passenger in front of us bore a mightly resemblnce to "pigpen" and was the obvious source of the stinky smell.
@SC Ramjet.....nice idea. I have got him (and a couple of others) with a remote controlled fart box I got for $7 from our "Book Club" - a vendor who every couple of weeks leaves samples of various books and other goodies for sale at our reception. I've already had way more than $7 worth of fun from it :-)
Interesting concept, but a long time ago my Dad showed me how to make a locally-controlled mechanical equivalent (he learned this from an older brother and was passing along the mechanical engineering wisdom). Bend a piece of wire coat hanger into a U-shape, fasten a steel washer with 2 rubber bands to the looped tips of the U, and wind it up. Once armed, plant it under a cheek in a public place, such as a bingo hall. Trigger it by raising a cheek slightly and let the spinning washer unwind loudly. Don't need no stinkin' op-amps for this...
But have to wonder - is this digital or analog? And is it patentable?
@David this reminds me of a prank pulled on my by my workmate
Ever had a phone plug appear open because a prankster dipped it into clear varnish and let it dry overnight? Took me a few minutes to figure out why the speaker would not work at our next jam session the next day - the clue was his failure to keep a straight face while watching my confusion.
I had a similar experience many years back involving a new dishwasher. My husband and I had just redone our kitchen and ordered new appliances in a matching almond color (this was before stainless steel became all the rage). The dishwasher was delivered and installed, and we realized that the front panel was white, it did not match the other appliances! We were freaked out, to say the least, and I had one hand on the phone ready to dial up Sears when my husband realized that the front panel could be slid out. Behind it were two other panels, in avocado and almond. So we were all set for all contingencies!
One job of mine involved a lot of report writing for a database system installed in a large semiconductor company. In addition to writing the reports, I often had to field calls from users when things were not going well.
I can't count the number of times when the answer to a frantic call reporting "The system has bugs and it crashed" was "Turn... the printer... on"
Been there... Doing some commissioning work on a OEM/customers site , ~ 2hr flight away. Everything would be setup up correctly, PID's all tweaked, decide to push some product through and some little niggly thing pops up ......
Get to 5:30pm and it's not quite working, frantically change the airline booking online , ring the wife, book a motel. Sometimes this would happen three days in a row! Motel is now on speed dial.
wrt to your examples:
Case1: And plugged into the correct connector! e.g. using the correct one when 2 com ports are available. And with USB ports, moving the serial dongle to another port (this changes the assigned COM port in Windows on the laptop that was being temporarily used to replace a broken HMI) . One machine has dual encoders at inlet and outlet of machine, the controller switches from one to othe r based on some algorithm, easy enough to swap the encoder plugs over, but one calibration is slightly different to other. Difficult to tell it's swapped over until the rare occasions when they attempt a roll change mid-job , then it gets really weird, (this might happen weeks after the original swapover).
Case 2: Hydraulic cylinders on left and right side, both always operate together , each has proximity switches. On about half the machines made the proximities were on the wrong cylinders, but you can't tell because they both move together, until one day when one cylinder jammed on a machine, resulting in really confusing diagnostic and self-test information from the controller, so they pull off the (wrong) cylinder - nothing wrong with it , put it back on - still faulty .... eventually they worked it out .
Case 3: Calibration menu: How about the operator stumbling into the calibration screen and pressing OK to exit rather than cancel, this then loads some default values and some zero's
Case 3: Operator does a calibration, but inadvertently loads the wrong calibration file. (they should just use the existing file, but you know how they are... and they deny everything..)
Case 3: frantic Phone call/email from operator: lengths seem to be inaccurate and getting slowly worse over several days,doing a calibrate didn't fix it. My reply: check the encoder wheel and coupling, and the spring (these cal errors are almost always related to encoder mechanical issues) . Frantic phone call second day , gave them the same advice, explaining in some detail where to find the appropriate screws to tighten. Then silence for a week, I gave them a courtesy call, and they said the encoder wheel fell off on the third day, and, after re-attaching it , everything worked perfectly.
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used in Orion Spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars mission. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.
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