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Stan the Statistician <<Last | Next>> | Current Stan | Archive Stan
Work in the media? Struggle with statistics? Stan's irreverent (and often irrelevant) review of the latest media reports, news and gossip may not help at all... Stan the Statistician

Stan # 29: Technical Support 12 November 1999

Does this ring any bells?

"Hello, How may I help you?"

"Yes, well, I'm having trouble with WordPerfect."

"What sort of trouble?"

"Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away."

"Went away?"

"They disappeared."

"Hmm. So what does your screen look like now?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing?"

"It's blank; it won't accept anything when I type."

"Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out?"

"How do I tell?"

"Can you see the C:\ prompt on the screen?"

"What's a sea-prompt?"

"Never mind. Can you move the cursor around on the screen?"

"There isn't any cursor: I told you, it won't accept anything I type."

"Does your monitor have a power indicator?"

"What's a monitor?"

"It's the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV. Does it have a little light that tells you when it's on?"

"I don't know."

"Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power cord goes into it. Can you see that?"

"Yes, I think so."

"Great! Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it's plugged into the wall."

"Yes, it is."

"When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one?"

"No."

"Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the other cable."

"Okay, here it is."

"Follow it for me, and tell me if it's plugged securely into the back of your computer."

"I can't reach."

"Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is?"

"No."

"Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over?"

"Oh, it's not because I don't have the right angle - it's because it's dark."

"Dark?"

"Yes. The office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in from the window."

"Well, turn on the office light then."

"I can't."

"No? Why not?"

"Because there's a power cut."

"A power... A power cut? Aha! Okay, we've got it licked now. Do you still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff your computer came in?"

"Well, yes, I keep them in the closet."

"Good! Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from."

"Really? Is it that bad?"

"Yes, I'm afraid it is."

"Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them?"

"Tell them you're too stupid to own a computer."

Jack Straw, British Home Secretary (which means he looks after the interior) told the Labour Party Conference that he was recruiting 5,000 extra policemen. This was completely true. However, what he failed to mention was that the extra 5,000 are unlikely to increase overall numbers as they will simply replace those resigning from the force or leaving on the grounds of ill health. Even the Police Federation were taken in. Another example of something which is completely true and at the same time a complete con. Mind you, he is a politician so I supposed we should expect it. If you are a regular listener to the breakfast show on Radio Five Live (UK BBC station), you will have heard me waxing lyrical about how stats can be used to con people. That was my 15 minutes of fame (Andy Warhol). If you missed it, well I'm sure that you must have had something better to do - like stay in bed.

Not to be outdone by Jack Straw, Alan Milburn, the new British Health Secretary, announced plans for 400 'extra' heart specialists. It turns out that the specialists in question are already in the system. Another politician, another con artist.

Check in again at my desk soon!
stan@adweb.co.uk

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