In the words of Homer Simpson - "DOH!"

I had one of those days today. A day when everything seemed to be more of a struggle than a dance. I must have been on a low biorhythm cycle or something. It started in the morning when I went up to the passenger internet in the library on deck 8 to reset a machine that froze. We lost the signal and so the system locked while this fellow was using it. When I got there he was waiting for me and told me the story. So I explained to him that the signal was lost and that I would reset the computer and that would fix this terminal. After that the conversation went something like this.

Mr. Smith: So after you reset it I can use it again?
Me: I’m sorry; we don’t have a satellite connection right now so you won’t be able to get online.
Mr. Smith: So why are you resetting it?
Me: To fix the PC, and when the signal does come back this terminal will work again.
Mr. Smith: But I can’t get online now?
Me: unfortunately right now we don’t have a connection to the satellite which we need in order for the internet to work. So the internet will not work for you right now.
Mr. Smith: So when will I be able to get online?
Me: I don’t know when the signal will be back but it is normally not down for very long.
Mr. Smith: But it doesn’t work now.
Me: Right, it doesn’t work right now.
Mr. Smith: Are you sure?
Me: Yes sir. It’s definatly down right now.
Mr. Smith: Can I try?
Me: Yes… OK.
Mr. Smith (after a few minutes of trying): Look. It’s locked on me again!
Me: I see that sir. Let me just reboot the system for you.
Mr. Smith: So after you reboot it can I use it?


After finally leaving the library I got a call that one of the point of sale machines in a bar on deck was not working. That’s one of those computers the bartenders use to ring in your drink orders. I went up to the bar on the open deck to check it out. I like it when computers on the open deck break because I get to listen to music, be in the sun for a bit and shake off the dust from always being inside the ship. I fiddled around with the machine, checked its connections, ran a couple diagnostics but could not find the problem. I disconnected the machine and took it to my computer work room. I plugged it in and “PING” it worked right away. I thought that was a bit odd but whatever. I took it back upstairs and plugged it in and it didn’t work. I figured the problem must be the location setup so I took another machine from the same bar, slid it down the counter and plugged it in where the original machine was plugged in. It started right up and worked without a problem. I took the original machine and plugged it BACK in. It didn’t work. I took the original machine and plugged it in on the other side of the bar. It worked fine. I took it back to its original location. It didn’t work. At this point I just started to get mad. I took the machine and tried it in three more locations. It worked in all of them. I took two more machines from other locations and tried them in the location that was causing troubles. They ALL worked! No matter how many tests I did that one machine simply refused to work in that SINGLE location. Finally, when I was about to have a heart attack from stress and frustration I just swapped the troublesome machine with the machine on the other end of the bar and now both machines work fine. "DOH!" why would that one machine refuse to work in that one location? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe we sailed through some strange south pacific reverse magnetic flux reality warp or something.

After that I went to the deck 9 onboard boutiques. One of the units that they use to process credit card payments had a broken printer. It sounded simple enough so I thought it would only take me a minute to fix. When I got there everything seemed fine. These printers are funny little things, very simple. They are small, about the size of a coffee cup, all black with no lights or buttons or anything. Just little printers you plug in and they go. Since this one was set up perfectly and didn’t seem to print I went to get a new unit. I installed it and I tested it and – it didn’t go. I got under the counter and pulled out ALL the wiring that connects the little printer to the charging unit, and the charging unit to the POS and the POS to the network. All of it was good. I tested, I diagnosed, I did everything I could possibly think of to do. It didn’t work. After about an hour of testing and replacing and diagnosing the unit I gave up and told the boutiques staff I would be back later. I was going to do some research on these printers and check the set up in another location. She smiled at me, chirped happily and said “OK, no problem” and then proceeded to ring up a charge for a passenger and print a receipt. “OH, you fixed it! Great” she said. "DOH!" I marked it up to another incidence of strange south pacific reverse magnetic flux reality warp and moved on.

After that I had another fellow in the internet. The wireless users might appreciate this. The fellow wanted to use the wireless internet on his laptop but was having trouble connecting. I went to the library to help him out. He told me he had prepared everything and brought everything he needed he just didn’t know where to plug in the modem. It seems he was a bit confused as to how the wireless works and had removed and brought his DSL modem from his house with him. He had the modem plugged into the laptop and was looking to plug it in to the wall just like he does at home. I explained to him that it was not necessary and turned on his laptops wireless networking and selected the ships network and got him online. He thanked me for the help. I was glad that it was a quick and easy fix for him because I was a bit behind in things to get done. I said goodbye and was just walking away when he asked me if we would be refunding the purchase price of the wireless internet card since he was using his own modem from home. “DOH!” I went back to the gentleman, took a seat next to him and started to explain how wireless internet works.

The day ended alright, but not 30 minutes ago I got a call in my cabin from the Pursers desk. There was a Mr. Smith in the internet café and the computer he was using had locked on him.

5 Responses
  1. Tom Carten Says:

    No matter how many tests I did that one machine simply refused to work in that SINGLE location. I just swapped the troublesome machine with the machine on the other end of the bar and now both machines work fine. Why would that one machine refuse to work in that one location? Your guess is as good as mine.

    I'm a broadcast engineer and the answer is pretty clear to me; I'm surprised that you didn't catch on earlier: Gremlins. We have them all the time in our equipment. Can't see them, can't catch them, they mess things up and go away as quickly as they came. They make the business interesting.

  2. wolf Says:

    I now bow humbly before you and kiss the ground you walk on. Finally, someone who has actually had a worse day than me! I feel so much better now! But, you poor thing you! When those days hit, I put a jack 'n coke in hand and mutter "this too shall pass". It works.

  3. Nick Says:

    I work for a large ISP (you live in vancouver who provides you cable ;) )
    Anyway, deal with things like that all the time. Like when the monitor says you cable is disconnected, who do they call? you got me and i spend and hour on the phone explaining how there monitor works.

    Went on a cruise to alaska last july and there where so many people trying to send mail out on there own ISPS SMTP server but it would not work cause they dont allow remote SMTP, do you incounter this often?

    And yes Gremlins, i hate those little things.


    Its so sad that there is no cure or vaccine for stupidity, hahahha


  5. Anonymous Says:

    Yup, my motto has always been, which I have passed on to my kids, is "people are stupid." Unfortunately this has been proven over and over.

Post a Comment

HI. Thanks for leaving a comment! If you want to contact me you can email me at (sbmclean at gmail dot com). Cheers!