Keeping the Legacy Alive

Virtualization, “The Cloud”, Internet of Things, Self-Driving Cars, Drones, Virtual/Augmented Reality, 3D Printing, Quantum Computing, Nanotechnology.

I could continue with a further list of the dizzying array of numerous other modern, bleeding edge, technological advancements in the technology industry that I could mention but that’s not the point of this little blog post.

My point here is that there is a side of our high tech world that most ‘End User’ Consumers and even most IT Professionals don’t even realize exists. Much of the newest technology actually relies on Legacy architecture.

Legacyin terms of the Technology/Computing industry is described as “an old method, technology, computer system, or application program, ‘of or relating to, or being a previous or outdated computer system’.”

In short, much of ‘todays’ technology is actually built, and/or tested, with ‘yesterdays’ technology. Manufacturing equipment in the circuit board manufacturing equipment are often highly expensive, in the mid to high 6-digits cost range, reliably built to do whatever task they’re designed to do for a very long time. These machines are not built to be ‘disposable’. Also, much of the processes themselves that are used to manufacture circuit boards really doesn’t change a whole lot, even as the technology itself does advance.

As an example of this would be one piece of equipment that comes to mind which is a Wave Solder Machine. Essentially what this thing is, is a big heating unit that melts solder into a liquid and then splashes it up under circuit boards as they move over the tank on a conveyor system. That’s fairly simplistic but essentially what the machine does. This process pretty much applies equally to circuit boards that were made 20 years ago as it does to the most modern, high tech, circuit board made today.

Essentially where I am going with this is that there are still a lot of Legacy systems in use in today’s manufacturing of technology and someone still has to keep this stuff running.

As IT Professionals we’re constantly pushed to add skills for the bleeding edge of our industry and there’s an overriding attitude of “upgrade it”. Many in this industry get blinders to the fact that sometimes that’s simply not financially feasible.

As an IT Pro, if you were to approach the CEO, CFO, etc. of a manufacturing company with the argument of:

“We need to replace this $180K+ piece of equipment.”

“Why?”

“Well, it’s old. It’s running on an outdated operating system with old software that can’t be replaced”

“Does it still work?”

“Well, yeah it works perfectly fine but it’s old!”

Yeah, good luck with that. The Manufacturing industry especially runs with razor thin margins and very ‘tight wallets’ when it comes to company asset investments. If something still does what it’s supposed to do and it can still be kept running, it’s going to be used until there’s no choice but to replace it.

So, this is where my point has rambled to. There’s still a need for IT Professionals who are tasked with keeping “Legacy” systems alive for as long as possible.

Basically that’s me. I joke about being half IT Professional and half Paleontologist but to be perfectly fair to myself, I am very good at my job. I’m not trying to ‘toot my own horn’ or being some self-righteous douche here. I just want people to understand that just because I am in a situation where I have to keep “old skills” fresh, does not mean that I’m not good at what I do and that what I do isn’t important.

A recent example that, frankly, I will toot my horn about that stirred me to write this blog post.

We have a piece of circuit board testing equipment called a Flying Probe. We have several actually, but this one specific machine is the one I was recently called on to replace the PC. This machine is 20+ years old. I’m honestly not even sure what it does actually but whatever tests it performs are still valid and this specific machine is configured to work on boards for a significant customer that is forecast to drive a large portion of our company business this year.

Well, the controller PC that runs this machine has been ‘on it’s last legs’ for a long time and I’ve been warning management of this for quite awhile. It’s actually in the future forecast to replace it, but that forecast is more like 2018. In the mean time this machine is fairly critical to get us through this year.

So, Murphy’s Law being what it is, the PC recently finally reached a point where it just couldn’t deal with it anymore. It got to the point where the PC would reboot every 6 minutes. On the clock oddly enough. This obviously meant that it was essentially useless.

This PC is over 20 years old. Spec wise, for the tech savvy reader:

VIA motherboard
733 MHz Pentium III cpu
768 MB of RAM
160 GB IDE Hard Drive
128 MB Graphics Card
10/100 Network Card
Running Windows XP Pro

The equipment this old soldier powers requires specialized software, hydraulics controller card, and image processing. The machine is old enough that none of these things are replaceable anymore.

I’ve worked very hard in my current position to earn a bit of a reputation of being a ‘miracle worker’ for keeping this stuff running. Frankly, I hate it since it means I have no choice but to never be able to advance in my career. I’m stuck being Legacy just like the equipment I support and stuck watching the rest of my industry pass me by.

That said, needless to say I got called on to see what I could do.

Luckily, I had a newer “old” PC sitting under my bench. A system that was “only” 10 years old. Also an XP era PC, but one that was made at the end of the XP era instead of at the beginning of the era like the one that needed to be replaced.

Dell system/motherboard
2.8 GHz Dual-Core Pentium D cpu
4 GB of RAM
1 TB SATA Hard Drive
1 TB Graphics Card
10/100/1000 Network Card

In all specifications this machine is dramatically more powerful than the old one. If this works, not only will the test equipment still be useable, but it will be considerably better at doing what it does than it has ever been before.

Here’s the catch, the Operating Systems itself can’t be reinstalled. The software that this machine requires to runs is not replaceable. The PCI controller card that powers the machine hydraulics requires drivers that are no longer available.

So, I  basically have to put an old ‘brain’ into a new body, reconnect it’s nervous system, and bring it to life without any failure.

Or, cost the company $180-200K to replace the machine.

Deep breath. No pressure.

It’s pretty obvious that I wouldn’t be writing this blog post if it wasn’t a ‘happy ending’.

I did it.

Imaged the old hard drive onto the new, larger one. Blue Screen of Death, no surprises there.
Repair Installation of Windows XP Pro so as to rebuild the OS without losing the installed drivers and software.
It boots! Sweet. But now the system Properties are blank. The Event Log is jammed full of obscure errors. Essentially the PC boots, but it has no connection to the hardware due to it being so dramatically different. ‘Lights are on but nobody’s home’ essentially.
An hour or two of researching and I figure out how to rebuild the ‘hardware layer’.
Re-register a couple hundred .dll files and system32 .exe files. Re-create system accounts.
Voila! It worked. Properties now show the actual new system specs. Event Log errors are gone.

Ok, huge sigh of relief and more than a fair sense of pride in the accomplishment because this was no small task.

However……. I still have to put the PC back into the test equipment and it still has to actually do what the old one did inside the equipment.

Go to put it back in the equipment chassis, and, it doesn’t fit. The old case was narrower than this new one so it wouldn’t fit through the front cabinet like the old one did.
Thankfully with some reasonable effort and about a half hour of laying on the floor, supporting myself with one arm while working waist deep inside the back of the machine it does fit inside through the back of the equipment.
Ribbon cables for connecting the hydraulics arms don’t reach the PCI card connections now because the PC is much larger now.
So, pull it out, flip it over, and start over with working it in through the back of the chassis.

Finally, all connections are plugged back in.

Call for the department manager to power this thing back up while basically holding my breath.

XP boots up (which sadly was still a big relief)
Proprietary controller software launches (whew!)
Equipment servos move as software controls are tested. Woot!

This machine now not only works, but works better now than when it was new.

This was no small accomplishment and I am very pleased that it succeeded. In the course of my career I’ve done projects like this. I’ve spent hours hacking system files and copying registry keys from old Win 95/98 systems into newer Windows XP or Win7 systems in order to get old, irreplaceable software working.
I’ve literally used a paperclip to clamp down a broken CPU heat sink in a machine, while it was running, in order to keep a manufacturing line from going down.

For the fellow IT Professional reading this, the next time you roll your eyes at the term “Legacy” and tell me “just upgrade it”, keep in mind that you may well have no idea of the challenges involved.

We do have a lot of advanced technology here and I work with a highly skilled Systems Administrator whose job is to drive the new improvements and processes but me, I keep Legacy alive. At least until it can be sent off and retired with the honor it has finally earned when no longer able to.




 

The Robertson Tunnel

The Robertson Tunnel

Since it has been a few years without any further unexplainable events, I have decided that it is safe to relate a tale of one particularly unusual day I had that continues to make me question our place in reality, or perhaps question my own sanity.

At the time, I lived south of Portland and commuted back and forth to work during the week via Trimet which included passing through The Robertson Tunnel.

If you, the esteemed reader, live in the Portland area and have ever taken the Trimet MAX Light Rail then you are likely familiar with The Robertson Tunnel. If you don’t live here, then you can check out that Wikipedia entry on it.

On a Monday morning I was coming back to work after a week off for vacation. I am on the MAX heading through Portland towards my place of work in Beaverton. It’s a nice, sunny morning as the train enters the Goose Hollow Transit Center, the last stop before the tunnel.

Perception of Time is a funny thing when you’re occupied in mundane tasks, like a mostly boring commute that you take daily, and I remember this morning’s trip through the tunnel seemed to feel like it took longer than it usually did. I disregarded the feeling as the imagination of my idle mind.

The MAX pulled into the Washington Park MAX Station without incident and headed out through the rest of the Tunnel. As the MAX exits the tunnel I was surprised to see that the sky on the other side of the tunnel was overcast, rainy, and kind of an unusual color.
Oregon is a state of fairly schizophrenic weather that can regularly go from good to bad so, although a bit weird, I pretty much just wrote this latest incident off as normal.

As the MAX headed down the tracks towards Beaverton, I looked out at the highway and noticed quite a few sleek and futuristic looking cars driving by. “That’s cool”, I remember thinking.

As a tech geek I like to keep up on the changes in technology and I do know that many new hybrid, electric, and even ‘self driving’  vehicles have been coming out. As such, my mind attempted to justify this latest peculiar incident but I was still slowly getting an uneasy feeling that something just wasn’t right.

As the MAX pulls into my stop, the Millikan Way MAX Station, I get off and start walking to my work which is only a few hundred yards from the stop. Between the MAX stop and my work is one of the many Nike owned properties and buildings in the Beaverton area that I walk through daily. On this morning I noticed some new construction that I didn’t recall seeing before I had gone on my vacation.

“Wow, they really work quickly”  I was thinking.

I headed into work and went to my desk. I’m generally always the first one in my department, the IT Department, to get in every morning so it was nice and quiet. I started my morning with the usual, routine activities like making coffee and logging into my PC.

When I attempted to log into my PC I was surprised to find that my password didn’t work. I had been on vacation, sure, but I know that I hadn’t forgotten my password.

Yet another unusual incident for this day but there was far more to come.

I tried to justify this latest incident as maybe something happened in the week while I was off that caused a need for my boss to change my password. I logged in using our department Administrator account and changed my account password and went on with my work day.

There were some unusual things that had caught my attention and contributed to my ever growing feeling of unexplained uncertainty. Things like some of our manufacturing machines in different locations than they were before my vacation and names on our company phone list that I didn’t recognize.

My ever logical mind struggled to justify this strange day I was having.

Well, we have been doing a lot of hiring lately, and our manufacturing floor does rearrange stations a lot.”

My attempts to justify this truly bizarre morning were starting to not be enough and my feelings of unease were get worse.

My boss arriving for the morning had been the final strange incident of the morning that pushed me to start to question whether or not I was losing my mind.

“Oh, hey. Good morning Mike. Glad to see you survived your vacation. You decided to shave your goatee off, huh?”

I HAVEN’T SPORTED A GOATEE IN NEARLY 20 YEARS!

My boss is a great guy and we like to joke with each other but this statement wasn’t made in a humorous manner and was just one more strange occurrence that made me start to feel like my mind was shattering.

Thankfully, the rest of my work day was uneventful and I was starting to think that I was just imagining all these incidents as anything but normal.

 

Until I was back on the MAX and heading back home for the day.

 

The MAX headed back through The Robertson Tunnel and pulled into The Washing Park stop. While at the stop, some of Trimet’s Transit Police came onto my train.
This is a fairly normal occurrence on the train because they often check for riders who were trying to ride without paying proper fares but these guys looked different than I was used to seeing.

Trimet Cops were often dressed in nearly as SWAT Team uniforms but these guys were downright scary looking. They were in full combat gear and, while they were sort of half heartedly checking other riders’ fares, they seemed to be specifically heading straight for ME.

I had my wallet out and was showing off my annual Trimet pass as one of the cops approached. He glanced down at my pass and then looked at me.

“This isn’t your train. You need to come with us!” He said.

Um, ok, this is weird because my annual pass is definitely not expired but I sure as hell wasn’t going to argue with these guys, especially not with the way this bizarre day had been going.

As I exited my MAX car with these heavily armed cops, the train pulled away and continued off into the tunnel. The cops guided me towards the tunnel elevator that leads up to the Portland Zoo that’s 600+ ft. above the Washington Park stop.

They shoved me into the elevator with a cryptic statement “Stay on the elevator. You can exit when you come back down. Your train will be the next one.” With that they pressed the button and sent my elevator up.

Ok, what the fuck! This entire day is just creeping me out!

When I came back down into the tunnel I looked around. Those cops were nowhere to be found, which was strange in itself since the Washington Park stop was underground with limited ways to get out.

In fact, the entire station looked somehow different than it looked earlier that morning but I wasn’t really able to ‘put my finger’ on just what exactly was different.

With great relief, the remainder of my commute was totally uneventful. As I exited The Robertson Tunnel on the next MAX train, the sky was back to being bright and sunny and the rest of my commute home went as it had always gone.

What a truly strange day that had been!

The next day, Tuesday, I uneasily headed out on my morning ritual commute but was quickly relieved to see that nothing unusual was occurring.

That is, except for what was missing from my previous day’s trip. There was no unusual cars on the highway and even the construction at the Nike campus wasn’t there.

I was beginning to think I had totally imagined the entire previous day, until my boss came in.

Oh, hey. Good morning Mike. Glad to see you survived your vacation. You decided to take one additional day to recover, huh? Next time just call and let me know you’re not coming in, ok?”

 

………………………………………

 

Those unexplainable events haunt me to this day, years later.

Is there more to The Robertson Tunnel than just a normal transit tunnel through a hill? Is there something almost supernatural to the precise, geometric designs of the tunnel.

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Are there stories to the cryptic artwork that covers the walls of The Washington Park MAX Station that our rational reality isn’t realizing?

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I have no rational explanation for that day and you can judge my story for yourself but all I can tell you is that for months after that fateful Monday commute, I chose to take the bus all the way to work and avoided that godforsaken tunnel that still creeps me out today.

 

 

 

 

My 2 cents about Random LinkedIn Invites

I got motivated to throw my 2 cents out following a discussion on LinkedIn that came up on my feed that one of my connections had commented on. It was concerning how we should all just accept every invite we get because it increases our ‘network’. Since LinkedIn won’t allow their users to make posts longer than just a couple paragraphs I figured I’d rant here.

This discussion was primarily around receiving invites to connect out of the blue from individuals in the recruiting/headhunting professions.

While I very rarely get invites to connect from Recruiters because my skills aren’t really all that in demand I still disagree with the notion of accepting invites just because.

I generally always decline invites from recruiters, when I do get one, because I know that they are sending them because they’re simply clicking down their “People You Might Know” list and sending to everyone indiscriminately.

Like it or not, a Recruiter/Headhunter is only as successful as their contact list and the scope of their ability to network with people in the industry that they are recruiting for.

They’re selling a service and the more people in their contacts list that they can sell to, the more successful they are.

This isn’t in question and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s simply the nature of the position.

However, as such, it is far more beneficial to the recruiter sending out the invites than it is for the individual receiving the invite.

Blindly accepting an invite, on the off chance that a recruiter, who really knows nothing about you, ‘might‘ one day have a position you’d be a fit for will simply clutter your feed with posts that you likely don’t care about.

In the meantime, that recruiter gets to mention their considerable range of contacts as a selling point to people they ‘do‘ have a position for. They get to have a “500+ Connections”, etc. on their profile which looks impressive.

Like it or not, those of us on the receiving end of random invites are simply being looked at as a commodity and means to an end.

This isn’t a negative attitude, it’s a harsh reality.

Being a Recruiter/Headhunter is a tough job and is beneficial and necessary for the industries they server, but, like it or not there’s no incentive to simply accept invites on LinkedIn blindly UNLESS someone is actively looking for a new role, in which case THEY would be the ones sending a recruiter the invite.

So, if you’re a Recruiter, take a moment to actually put yourself in the position of the one you’re sending an invite too and don’t go getting all bent out of shape if they decline your request.

Initial Thoughts on the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Headphones

Initial Thoughts on the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Headphones

Ok, full disclosure, I’m not a professional product reviewer, so my “review” is more just a gadget geek’s perspective and initial thoughts on whatever I might be trying out and feel the urge to write about.

Today, it’s the Trekz Titanium Bone Conducting Headphones by Aftershokz.

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My overall opinion could be summed up as “Situationally Awesome” so let me elaborate with more details.

Technology wise, these HEADphones (not EARphones) function by transmitting the their audio input as vibrations that transmit through your jawbone and are interpreted by your eardrum as sound. They go more ‘in front of’ your ear, than in them, right at the base of your jaw.

As someone who wears glasses, I have actually had to literally ‘flip over’ a pair of Motorola over the ear Bluetooth headphone before, so that Left and Right were swapped and the headphones curled ‘up’ into my ear, because they literally hurt my ears to wear, due to my glasses. These do not do that because they don’t curl down into my ear. They fit in such a way that they don’t conflict with my glasses, which is fantastic.

Plus, unlike my Skullcandy Hesh 2 Bluetooth headphones that I also use, these don’t make me look like Princess Leia and make my ears all sweaty and gross.

20160519_035610

 

Due to the size and placement of the buttons they do contain tiny speakers that are more so you can hear the tone and greeting by “Aubry”, which they have named the voice message that says “Connected” and greets you when they power on. If I had to guess, I’d say that’s probably the name of the woman who’s voice it actually is. These speakers don’t do much for actually playing the audio, which is good because they won’t be heard by anyone around you, unlike normal audio headphones.

They’re very well constructed and water resistant. The kit you get when you buy them contains a decent quality carrying case, some actual earplugs (if you want to block out the surrounding noise while wearing them, which admittedly seems a little redundant to me), a pair of rubber Fitbands to help them fit on people who don’t have as fat of a head as I do, and an INDUSTRY STANDARD micro USB charging cable.

I capitalized “industry standard” because, to me, this is a big deal. I’ve purchased wireless Bluetooth headphones before that I had to throw away because I lost the proprietary power cord they came with and the manufacturer didn’t sell the cord separately.

20160519_035746 20160518_195726

 

They’ve got the standard Volume Up/Down buttons as well as a Multifunction button that allows you to Play/Pause or Skip music tracks, Answer, End, or Reject calls or Transfer amongst Call Waiting calls, Voice Dial, or Redial, all depending on the pattern of presses of the button or duration that you hold it in for.

Tech Specs, for the diehard geeks who care about these types of details:

Frequency Response: 20Hz ~ 20KHz

Sensitivity/: 100 +/- 3dB

Microphone: –40dB +/- 3dB

Bluetooth Version: Bluetooth v4.1

Compatible Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP

Wireless Range: 33ft (10m)

Battery: Rechargeable Lithium Ion

Continuous Play: 6 hours

Standby Time: 10 hours

Recharge Time: 1.5 hours from dead to fully charged

Weight: 1.27 oz (36g)

Warranty: 2 Years – I highly recommend Registering yours on their website for ease of dealing with any warranty related issues that might come up.

There is also a Blue/Red LED that blinks in different patterns, depending on what is happening, but this is pretty standard for any wireless headphones.

 

Now, the reason why my overall opinion is “Situationally Awesome” is because, depending, on your use case, they may not be what you want. In the IT Industry we often joke about how some sort of problem is “a feature, not a bug” but in the case of these headphones this statement is totally true.

The pure nature of how these work, by transmitting audio into your inner ear without blocking outside noise, means that in a noisy environment these are going to be difficult to hear. Jogging along noisy streets, or on a plane or subway, etc. these will not be as good as normal headphones. This, however, is a negative that is essentially by design.

Amusingly, there’s also a psychological aspect negative if you happen to be a Public Transit commuter like I am. Often times, let’s say “interesting” individuals on transit who like to randomly start talking to whomever is near them, or people taking polls, etc. will be an issue but they generally don’t bother someone who’s wearing headphones. With these, I can see that not being a good of a deterrent.

Another thing that some might cringe at is that they are not inexpensive. Mine were around $125US. However, they’re very well designed and manufactured, they come with a 2 year warranty and the company is excellent with customer service, and the technology and the company is fairly new, so the price may well continue to drop as they increase sales. All things considered I don’t regret spending the money at all.

Pulling a weekend shift working in the Server Room or just at your desk, or in the case of my employer where the Manufacturing floor personnel are allowed to wear headphones and listen to music but are required to only use one headphone so they can still hear, these would be awesome. In any environment that is fairly quiet but you still need to be able to hear these would be quite useful.

Plus, while I don’t know from actual life experience, I can see these being beneficial for anyone who is Legally Blind, since they would not have their hearing blocked while using.
Possibly even someone who is Deaf as well since they can feel the vibrations of audio. That’s something I would be very curious to know how well they work.

 

PC LOAD LETTER

By trade I am an IT Professional.

As an IT Pro many of us tend to disagree and fight over many different things. Whether Linux, OSX, or Windows is better. Which firewall appliance, wireless access point, switch, whatever brand is better, etc. etc.

But, one thing we seem to universally agree upon is that none of us like Printers.

It’s like cats and dogs with us. Like there’s something buried deep into our industry training to teach us to really hate dealing with Printers.
It’s often made me wonder just exactly why that is that we all seem to have the same deep seated loathing of those cursed, evil devices.

Well, as is often part of my job, I was working on a Saturday this last month.

Halloween, as it happens, which was cool because I figured I could avoid all the added traffic and people out on the streets by working that evening.

No one else had to work so I had the entire office to myself. “Great”, I thought to myself. “No one to bother me and I can actually get some work done.”

As part of my projects for the day I needed to print out some documentation because for some compliance requirements we had to keep physical documentation that’s signed filled out and signed.

As mentioned above, as an IT Pro, I really dislike printing anything. I find it a huge waste of money and printers are, again, just evil devices that seem hell bent on making every job requiring them more difficult than it should be. Jams, obscure error codes for no explainable reason, paper trays suddenly ‘unavailable’ like somehow it just decided it didn’t feel like working today.

Just irritating issues for no explainable reason are often expected when dealing with printers.

Well, since this is a Saturday and I’m the only one in the office, I had this brilliant idea to decide and update the firmware and drivers for our Office Printer. I figured, hey, good time to do this because I can give this damnable thing some maintenance without affecting other users.

A mistake I still regret to this day

I navigated to the manufacturer’s website and found new firmware and a new driver for the printer that had just been updated on the downloads site today. “Good timing” I think to myself and start the download.

The office power and lights flicker as I was downloading the new files, causing my PC screen to go out briefly. “It’s pretty bad weather today, I hope the power doesn’t go out.” For god knows whatever reason, printer drivers are always huge file sizes so I was grateful to see that it downloaded successfully with that brief power fluctuation.

So, with the new files on the network I remotely log into our Print Server and update the printer driver. Surprisingly it installs totally fine. No install errors, nothing unusual. “Well, that’s cool. I expected it to be more difficult since it’s a printer.” I think to myself.

Next step, firmware upgrade on the Printer itself. I pull up the printer on my PC and send the firmware file to it, per standard upgrade process and suddenly hear an unusual grinding, almost growling, sort of noise coming from the printer in the office.

“There it is. I knew this wasn’t going to go off without a problem. Damned printers!”

I went into the office area and checked on the printer. The LEDs and screen were blinking and flashing like crazy but the odd growling noise had stopped. On the screen it said “Firmware Update Successful” so I just figured maybe that’s normal behavior for this model printer when the firmware is upgraded and I powered it off and back on.

When the printer came back up I printed out a Configuration page from the menu and everything seemed totally fine so I went back to my desk to print out the documents that I needed.

Again I heard that eerie growling noise but heard my pages printing. “Ah crap! I hate printers!”  I figured it had jammed, per usual for printers. Instead on the printer was several pages of paper covered with nothing but random looking letters in what was obviously Comic Sans font and Wing Ding symbols.

“Odd, I don’t even have those fonts installed on my PC.”

The pages were just completely covered in IA!IA!WYSIWYGFHTAGN!IA!IA!WYSIWYGFHTAGN! over and over, mixed in with the Wing Ding symbols and that’s the only thing it would print no matter what document I sent to it. So, I put an Out Of Order sign on it, powered it off, and went on to other projects. Being as it IS a printer, it being out of order was plenty common to the other office workers so this would come as no surprise to anyone on Monday.

“Well, crap. Looks like I’m calling the maintenance tech on Monday”

I finished up working and headed out. Nothing else really eventful happened that night.

Well, except for that incident at my local coffee shop that I stopped at on the way home.”

Yeah, for whatever reason, when the clerk went to print out my receipt his receipt printer made that same eerie growling noise that our office printer had made and it shredded my receipt as it printed it. “It’s never done that before.” said the clerk. I just sort of shrugged my shoulders and headed back to my apartment.

I’m really not sure why I did it, but for some reason I instinctively unplugged my home printer from the wall before I went to bed that night.

Monday rolls around and I call our usual printer service technician, Frank. He knows our office well, as I’m sure he does all his customers, since after all he repairs printers for a living so he’s a busy guy. Job Security in fixing printers since they suck so badly.

Frank powers up the office printer, just idly chatting with me about his weekend and such.

As the printer powers up he suddenly stopped in mid-sentence, kind of twitches noticeably, turns to me with this strange glazed expression on his face and says

You have awakened the master. You will all be spooled to The Great LPD soon!”

and then just as suddenly went right back to what he was talking about as if nothing had happened.

“Ok, that was fucking weird.” I thought. Maybe he has tourettes or something.

He finished up working on the printer and got it back to working as if nothing had ever happened but the entire incident just creeped me out.

To this day, if I’m ever working in the office alone I always turn the printer off. I also decided to toss my personal home printer. Damned thing never worked right anyway.

“I really hate printers.”