* Posts by Guy Geens

25 posts • joined 19 Sep 2007

Not sunshine, moonlight or good times – blame it on the buggy

Guy Geens
Black Helicopters

Many years ago, I was working on an application that would be delivered to the users on a DVD. (Not too long ago: software delivery by DVD was already exceptional rather than the rule.)

First DVDs were created and they didn't work.

I couldn't reproduce the issue with a fresh build.

I retrieve the application from the staging area (where we assembled the ISO): no problem.

I download the ISO, extract the application: still no problem.

I ask for a new DVD to be burned from the ISO: it works.

To this day, I claim "cosmic rays" caused the error.

Time to svn commit like it's the year 2000: Apache celebrates 20 years of Subversion

Guy Geens

Re: Anyone remember PVCS?

I still have nightmares about PVCS.

- UI doesn't tell you about newly created files. Broken builds were usually due to someone forgetting to add a file to the repository.

- BOFH added a script to the "update" action. Getting other people's work caused 100s of CMD windows to pop up and close immediately.

- Server remembers the file location. If one user decides to move their workspace to their D: drive, it moves for all other developers as well.

Beware the Friday afternoon 'Could you just..?' from the muppet who wants to come between you and your beer

Guy Geens

Could be worse

A former coworker (also IT) had a laptop that wouldn't boot anymore. He bought a replacement.

Then, he tried to boot the old laptop one more time: it worked. The culprit was a defective mouse.

The laptop had been set in a fixed spot and the mouse was plugged in all the time. He never thought of booting without it.

It happened to me as well: USB stopped working on my desktop. After a reboot, everything worked for a few hours until the OS shut down the USB system. Since I didn't add any devices recently, I assumed the motherboard was failing and I ordered a new one.

The next day, I noticed the problem did not occur when I unplugged my USB hub.

I canceled the motherboard order and removed the faulty device.

The safest place to save your files is somewhere nobody will ever look

Guy Geens

Re: Been there. Done that.

I had a college professor who religiously used DOS Edit, well into the Windows 95 era.

Most of the time, he was editing LaTeX documents, so he wouldn't have used Word. But still, there are a lot of text editors I'd prefer over EDIT.

It will never be safe to turn off your computer: Prankster harnesses the power of Windows 95 to torment fellow students

Guy Geens

Re: We once...

There was a popular shareware download manager back in the day. I can't remember the name.

The author provided a number of sound files for this application, spoken by his sister. As expected, there were sound bites for "Download completed," "Download failed" and so on.

It also contained replacements for the standard Windows sounds.

I used just one of those.

For a week, my PC would cheerfully announce "You've got mail!" for every incoming message. No regrets on changing it back.

Sysadmin sank IBM mainframe by going one VM too deep

Guy Geens

Re: Rebecca - a flying start

A former coworker installed the BSOD screensaver on a production machine, right before going on holiday.

By the time he came back, the operators who had to look after that machine were ready for the loony bin.

Guy Geens

Re: Also hekje

Also, in Belgium: "spoorwegteken" - railway sign (try typing a row of them). Admitted, it's been a very long time since I heard that one.

Want to know what an organisation is really like? Visit the restroom

Guy Geens

Restroom signage

Some years ago, this sign was posted in the restroom (I have moved to a different location since then.):


One of the toilets was out of order for more than a year - despite several plumbing attempts. I never found out how accurate the warning had been.

If this laptop is so portable, where's the keyboard, huh? HUH?

Guy Geens

Re: classic!

Did you ever encounter the 3-inch floppy as used in Amstrad computers?

Yes. On a Spectrum +3.

Apple whispers farewell to macOS Server

Guy Geens


CUPS is also installed on client machines. So Apple would still need it, or write a whole new printing system.

It's also used by many Linux distributions. Even if Apple did move to a new (closed) system, someone will pick up development.

Faking incontinence and other ways to scare off tech support scammers

Guy Geens

Investment scam

I don't think I ever had a scam support call.

I did have some fun with an investment scammer. They claimed Apple would be buying a fairly unknown Chinese car company. (I did recognize the name, and I knew they would be too large to be bought).

I let him make his sales pitch, promising incredible returns. I was tempted to say "There is just one problem here: Apple is not going to buy this company." Instead, I asked for more time to think it over. When he called back, I just declined the call. He tried a couple more times and gave up.

Shopping for PCs? Ding, dong, the Dock is dead in 2017's new models

Guy Geens

Re: Or we can read this as

USB connectors should have a USB logo on the top side. Some of my cables have it, but not all. And the logo's that are there, aren't always easily visible.

And then there are vertically-aligned USB ports. Where the "up" can be either left or right.

Worst of all are the ports at the back of a desktop PC: it's hard enough to try and fit the cable blind without having to wonder if it should be turned over.

You shrunk the database into a .gz and the app won't work? Sigh

Guy Geens

Re: Replace tape

This reminds me:

Technician is called in to fix a tape drive. After he's done, the operator pops in a tape to test if everything is OK. After a few seconds, the tape comes out again. The operator says: "Everything is OK, backup is done"

The technician is highly suspicious and takes a look at the console:



After a simple edit to the script, the backup takes considerable longer. The operator looks at a cupboard filled with tapes and realizes these are all empty...

I beg you, please don't back up that secret directory full of photos!

Guy Geens

Re: Years ago, when the net was young

Our (all male) engineering group had a "naughty photos server"

A former coworker of mine used to work in a team like that. Every day, they would assign one team member to search all of Usenet for naughty pictures (back when it was actually feasible to go through "all of Usenet", probably around 1990). Anything he found good enough was stored on a share for the rest of the team.

before you bring the machine for service, perhaps a little housecleaning is in order?

Unless you know beforehand when your computer is going to give up, that might be difficult.

Linus Torvalds targeted by honeytraps, claims Eric S. Raymond

Guy Geens

Re: celebrity

Back when the Open Source movement was new, ESR was one of its major advocates. (CatB was written in that period.)

Later, his focus shifted to gun rights activism and he was no longer invited to Open Source conferences. He gradually faded into obscurity.

Mozilla to boot all plugins from Firefox … except Flash

Guy Geens

Other plugins

What other plugins are there?

Silverlight: largely academic - most sites using it have gone IE-only.

Office: Never used it.

Acrobat: FF has a built-in PDF reader, so mostly irrelevant. Besides: why did that ever become a plugin? Is it too hard to click "Open in Acrobat"?

Crowdfunded ZX Spectrum revival just days from shipment

Guy Geens

Function arguments

But I can't remember how the values were stored

In the DEF FN line, the Spectrum would insert an invisible value after each parameter.

I don't remember how it would find the location of those.

'Not paying for any of that music was probably a mistake. Buh bye!'

Guy Geens

Re: but

It prevents developers from creating watchfaces. One of the most popular features of the Pebble watch.

Then again, the Apple Watch is a fitness tracker. Telling the time is just an afterthought.

Grab your pitchforks: Ubuntu to switch to systemd on Monday

Guy Geens

Re: Clean install or upgrade

>>I would be interested to hear from those that have tried a distribution version upgrade in .deb land

I have been running Debian testing for years now. I made the switch to systemd when Gnome would no longer shut down my PC.

Switching to systemd is as easy as installing the systemd-sysv package and rebooting. Migration done. (For those who feel less adventurous: install systemd and add "init=/sbin/systemd" to the kernel command line.)

What has changed? I can shut down from the Gnome/GDM menu again. Booting might be a bit faster (I never timed it) and I'm still adjusting to doing things the systemd way.

STOP! Pebble Time: New color watch clocks up $5m on Kickstarter

Guy Geens

Re: Almost backed it again..

I seriously considered (and I was early enough for the early bird offer). My V1 Pebble is still OK (I'll need a new bracelet soon). And then there's the 50€ import tax.

I finally decided to wait until it's in a local store.

You gotta keep a smart watch on the Swiss, Apple: Enter SWATCH

Guy Geens

Re: Swatch?

Swatch partnered with Mercedes to design the Smart. They bailed out soon after, leaving Mercedes with the job of selling the cars.

Surface RT: A plan worthy of the South Park Underpants Gnomes

Guy Geens

Re: Not only Surface RT

Courier could have been a game changer. At the time it was announced, the iPad still had to earn its place as the reference tablet where every slate is compared to. Android tablets were practically non-existent.

Microsoft could have defined a new category of devices separate from single-screen tablets.

They lost all that because it wouldn't sell Office.

Infinite loop: the Sinclair ZX Microdrive story

Guy Geens
Thumb Up

Great memories

I never owned a Microdrive, but I knew people who did.

Each time you formatted a cartridge, it would report a slightly different number of sectors. So they would format a few times in a row until they got a slightly higher capacity.

Thanks for mentioning the Wafadrive.

Boffin breakthrough doubles Wi-Fi speed

Guy Geens


That was my first thought: having 2 antennas would create an interference pattern with a lot of dead zones.

Then, I checked the wavelength. For a 5GHz signal, that is 6cm. Make the receiving antenna larger than that and you get a signal with no problems.

Cap Gemini twins with Google to punt online apps

Guy Geens

Means nothing

I have worked for Capgemini for about 10 years. During that time, I've seen announcements for several "strategic alliances" like this.

*None* of them have actually lead to significant sales.

My prediction: Capgemini will not sell any Google apps for the next three years.


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