* Posts by ComicalEngineer

42 publicly visible posts • joined 17 Jan 2023

Windows 10 users report app gremlins after Microsoft update

ComicalEngineer
Happy

Re: decades old MS-DOS or Windows 16-bit software on 32-bit Windows 10.

I'm running 32 bit Win 10 on an aged Acer Revo NetTop (1.5GHz i3) simply because I have one piece of mission critical software which will run on Win10 32 bit but not on 64 bit. It works fine and does the job for me. I expect that it will see me through to retirement in a couple of years time

Software troubles delay F-35 fighter jet deliveries ... again

ComicalEngineer

Re: Billions

One of my cars is 35 years old and requires little more than an annual service plus consumables [brakes,tyres etc]. Mk2 Golf GTI. I expect it will see me out even with me using it regularly.

One of my other cars is a 17 year old MX5 [Miata to US readers]. The 9 year old battery died last week. Other than that it continues to run happily.

No car on the planet gets the TLC that any aircraft gets in its' lifetime [with the exception of F!, NASCAR etc] , and I can tell you from experience that an F-35 gets an incredible amount of maintenance for each flying hour.

Amazon already has a colossal ads business and will extend it to Prime Video in January

ComicalEngineer

I've only managed to watch three AMZN prime shows through:

Picard -- Utter drivel and TBH Iwas reading a book at the time

Bosch -- Excellent

Reacher -- Much better than the Tom Cruise films

However, the number of films where I've watched 15-20 minutes and then binned it is legion.

I've also been caught out by the "free with ads" 15 minutes into a film and WTF was that?? Then another 15 minutes for the oldies among us there's a Max Headroom episode called "Blipverts" in which micro adverts cause people's heads to explode. The AMZN ads nearly caused mine to have an unscheduled rapid disassembly.

I will retain Prime only for the delivery, mainly because my adult children can also use the same account to buy stuff. I'll just stop watching the videos and do something more productive instead.

Windows 12: Savior of PC makers, or just an apology for Windows 11?

ComicalEngineer

I run Win 7 on an old laptop because it has some legacy software on it. It's also absolutely fine for doing basic tasks like report writing (most of what I do). My kids as why the Win7 desktop looks like XP - the answer being because it's clear and it just works without getting in the way.

I also have a more modern HP laptop running Win10 on an AMD A8. I'm absolutely fine with Win10 now that M$ have stopped breaking the printers with updates. I'll be even happier when it reaches end of support. Mostly I work on a Fujitsu Q520 i7 running Linux Mint. I also use LibreOffice on the PCs and only use Word/Excel for some specific customers.

SWMBO has a new Dell with Win11 - which I've tried and utterly detest. In particular because I'm one of those heathens who likes the taskbar on the left hand side of the screen. It's been there since I used Win3.11 and I can't be bothered having to download another app to make the interface do what I could do in every version of Windoze since 1992ish.

I fully subscribe to the concept that the operating system should be there to facilitate getting work done and not to getting in the way. Something which M$ seem to have lost sight of.

I will be retiring shortly and my current PCs will see me out. It's extremely unlikely that I will ever need Win11 :D

Enterprising techie took the bumpy road to replacing vintage hardware

ComicalEngineer

Obsolete hardware and software ....

I have a couple of legacy machines (one is a 24 year old Dell Dimension) which have some legacy explosion modelling software on them. I was going to bin the Dell as it's a big lump of metal taking up space and hasn't been used in anger for about 3 years -- until a customer emailed me and asked if I could do some modelling using the obsolete software package which their work had been done on in 2004. The software is no longer available (hasn't been since 2015 when support ceased following the retirement of the writer) and runs under DOS (or in the tweaked version which I have) in a DOS window.

The original input files were sent to me on a 3.5" floppy.

Fortunately the Dell still has a working floppy drive.

The output result files were returned to the customer via email with the revised input files.

Space junk targeted for cleanup mission was hit by different space junk, making more space junk

ComicalEngineer

A 0.5 kg (1.1lb to our transatlantic cousins) has a Kinetic Energy energy of 14 MegaJoules should it hit a stationary object.

Of couse if the other object is travelling in the opposite direction then this would be the sum of the two kinetic energies.

Anyway, to put this into perspective, 1 kg of TNT has 4.184 megajoules of energy, so the KE of an object in LEA (about 17,000mph / 7600m/s) is equivalent to aproximately 3kg of TNT.

Sooner or later a very small object is going to make a very large dent in a very important lump of spaceware.

Digital revolution at HMRC left 99,000 UK taxpayers on hold over five-day fiasco

ComicalEngineer

Made a PAYE/NIC payment including my UTR reference, got a snotty letter telling me I hadn't paid and would be penalised for the overdue payment. 45 minutes on hold and then a 15 minute conversation and it's their mistake, only it's my mistake for not having put a 4 digit date on the end of my UTR -- something that is not requested anywhere on the form. WTF!!!

Eventually straightened out by a helpful young man, but that's an hour of my life that I'll never get back.

As for VAT returns MTD -- don't get me started....

India Big four outsourcers all have people problems

ComicalEngineer

Re: Pay cuts and no hires?

Yes, they've run out random phone numbers to ring with the opening gambit "I'm from Microsoft..."

On a more serious note, the whole outsourcing to India model is becoming less popular and costs are rising.

ChatGPT is also seen as areal issue and I expect mass layoffs in the not too distant future.

India takes second punt at soft lunar landing with launch of Chandrayaan-3 mission

ComicalEngineer

Spending billions on a moon shot, but 2/3 of the population living in poverty without proper sanitation?

Wow, some priorities.

Miscreants exploit five Microsoft bugs as Windows giant addresses 130 flaws

ComicalEngineer

Microsoft has morebugs than the Nnatural History Museum :(

Google accused of ripping off advertisers with video ads no one saw. Now, the expert view

ComicalEngineer

Every so often Farcebook puts "sponsored content" (adverts) into my timeline. Every 3rd post will then be an advert which adblock+ can't recognise and block. On these days I simply stop looking at FB until they stop spamming me. Mostly I use FB for messenger and to catch up with some old friends so no real penalty. I studiously don't use any company that advertises on FB if I can help it.

Metaverses are flopping – hard – says Gartner

ComicalEngineer

Anyone remember the Bruce Willis film surrogates?

"Set in a futuristic world where humans live in isolation and interact through surrogate robots, a cop is forced to leave his home for the first time in years in order to investigate the murders of others' surrogates"

I'm seriously hoping that the Metaverse it doesn't catch on.

ComicalEngineer

Re: Is there a Gartner-Cycle for Gartner-Cycles?

Barbarella.

They put her into the orgasmatron.

I don't think the metaverse has reached this level yet.

Microsoft dabbles in self-repair with Surface devices now DIY-friendlier

ComicalEngineer

Simple answer is not to buy stuff that can't be repaired or upgraded easily.

I'm running an old Toshiba laptop that's had a new SSD replacing the original HDD and the memory increased by adding another memory chip.The machine has two convenient panels on the base which can be removed in about a minute using a simple crosshead screwdriver. The battery can be removed by sliding two clips across at which point it can be slid out. This machine is nearly indestructable.

My new HP also has two panels held by a couple of crosshead screws albeit that the battery is slightly more difficult to remove than the Tosh.

I looked at the M$ Surface and decided that it was over-priced for the specification and not easily repairable / upgradeable and so bought HP. Similar reason for not buying Apple despite quite liking the MacBook Air.

Multi-tasking blunder leaves UK tax digitization plans 3 years late, 5 times over budget

ComicalEngineer

Despite running a very simple business I got caught up in MTD some years ago. With the old VAT system my quarterly return was calculated on a spreadsheet and I typed the numbers in. A quick check of the numbers and hit submit. Job done. All on a Linux machine.

Now I have to buy a piece of software to upload the values calculated in my spreadsheet, the HMRC system does not work with Linux BTW, so no chance of free open source software and i have to keep my Windows PC alive. Then I have to create a spreadsheet that the MTD software recognises (Excel) and have the software upload the same values I used to type in. Only you have to re-authorise every few months which means going in through the Government Gateway to get a new authorisation code....

Need I say that the process takes about 10 times longer than it did before MTD, but it's making things easier / better (although not for me).

Colour me a shocked rainbow that the whole thing is a complete fustercluck.

Boss put project on progress bar timeline: three months … four … actually NOW!

ComicalEngineer

My previous company was based in a business centre that catered specifically for small businesses. The office we leased had issues with a leaking roof and were were forced to move after the roof fell in (literally). Fortunately the leak and the roof bits missed the network server and the two desktop CAD machines we had, but meant that half the office space was unusable.

We were offered another office within the building which was abot 10m from our original office. On contacting BT to move our fibre broadband over we were told that this would cost £1,200 plus VAT at 20%. We were then put onto an old copper wire which occasionally reached the dizzy speed of 1MPs but usually hovered around 0.5MPs. Really useful if you need to do video conferencing.

We binned BT and instead got an EE wifi hub which was delivered the next day and was giving around 30MPs - adequate for our purposes.

BT continued to pester us about our closed account for over 6 months.This included never being able to talk to the same person twice, and our alleged customer account manager turned out to be an Indian call centre.

UK government proposes legislation to regulate umbrella companies

ComicalEngineer

I worked as a "contractor" for several years pre-IR35. The large company I worked at had a number of *contractors* who had sat in the same office doing the same job for over 20 years. Basically the company was getting employees on the cheap, not paying Income Tax or pension contributions, no sickness benefits and the contractor was on 1 week notice - no redundancy protection.

Umbrella companies were set up to work the system and, from experience, are legally borderline in terms of protecting their clients.

I don't like IR35, but let's be brutally honest, we should and would not need it if companies dealt with *contractors* who are really employees in an honest manner i.e. employing them on proper contracts with benefits, pension entitlement etc.

Like a lot of legislation, it doesn't solve the problem, just batters the little guy even more. Ultimately, it will end up forcing contract rates up. The counter argument being that it restricts employer flexibility to respond. But let's be equally honest, both companies and contractors are complicit to some degree.

Users accuse Intuit of 'heavy-handed' support changes on QuickBooks for Desktop

ComicalEngineer

My previous company purchased a perpetual license. IIRC it's [still] running on a Windows Vista PC and has never been upgraded / updated.

Intuiit then told us that it wasn't supported any more we would need to upgrade to a subscription based model to do our UK VAT digital submission required by UK HMRC (UK equivalent of Uncle Sam). We didn't upgrade and used a bolt on package to do the VAT.

And yes, it forces you into a specific way of working, and it's also quite difficult to get into unless you get training, and Intuit have been trying to force everyone into a subscription model for several years.Current cost is £24/month for a small business working with suppliers - this is limited to 3 users. If you need stock control & income tax this goes up to £34/month, and the full on version s £70 per month (all plus UK VAT @20%). Stop paying and it stops working. Once in and you're locked in.

There are some pretty good free Linix equivalents, although HMRC doesn't support Linux security so you can't upload your VAT, but ther are plenty of cheap add-ons that can do this for you.

Another software supplier attempting to screw, sorry monetize more people for more money.

Microsoft battles through two 365 outages in one day

ComicalEngineer

Personal opinion only, but IMHO software has gotten too complicated, replacing reliability with functionality.

Unfortunately most people only use 1-2% of the functionality. 27 years ago I was teaching my office mates how to set up headings and a table of contents in Word 95. Despite not being part of the IT team I used to get pestered to help people with their documents and occasionally spreadsheets.

Again, only personal opinion, but it's time that M$ and other software devs stopped trying to add more functionality and started actually debugging the software to make it more reliable .... but I suppost that doesn't make money :(

Since when did my SSD need water cooling?

ComicalEngineer

If I get this right then, I can also use my PC to brew up a nice hot cup of coffee using the SSD?

Now that would be useful.

Windows driver woes trip AMD GPU owners, blind Arm-powered cameras

ComicalEngineer

Re: not something new

In the early days of Win 10 new updates used to break all our office printer drivers.

Colour me shocked that a M$ update can muck up its' own machines. [Not]

1. This crypto-coin is called Jimbo. 2. $8m was stolen from its devs in flash loan attack

ComicalEngineer

I have some shares for sale in an unbeatable South Sea Island investment.

And Tulips, lots of tulips.

That old box of tech junk you should probably throw out saves a warehouse

ComicalEngineer

My tale on this is the person who turned up with an ancient Samsung phone on which were some family photos of a recently deceased relative which he wanted to recover in a hurry due to an impending wake. Only problem being that the battery was flat and the charger was nowhere to be seen. The Samsung connector was a proprietary one and not just a simple bayonet.

A dig round in one of the boxes in the garage produced a car charger for the Samsung. The car charge was then wired up to my 12V model railway controller [another one with a Quarry Hunslet and a layout to suit] using a couple of crocodile clips and a minute later the phone booted into life.

A quick SIM swap and the photos texted to a new phone.

Europe’s biggest city council faces £100M bill in Oracle ERP project disaster

ComicalEngineer

It wasn't broke so we fixed it...

If the system isn't broke then surely the solution is to leave it alone.

And anyone who thinks / says that a major IT project is going to come in on time and in budget is either demented or else on a backhander.

Even worse that the Oracle system implemented isn't intended for this sort of application.

Regardless of anything else, someone is laughing all the way to the bank (clue - it's not the tax payer).

Keir Starmer's techno-fix for the NHS: Déjà vu disaster or brave new blunder?

ComicalEngineer

Starmer obviously has a magic IT bullet in his pistol.

As someone who has 3 close family members working within the NHS I can tell you that it has a kludge of IT systems, some of which still run on XP, and will be a complete b'stard to integrate. Whilst there are some relatively modern systems, such as being able to view X-rays and scans digitally, things like patient records and booking systems are still in the dark ages in many hospital trusts.

Add into the mix an excess of managers shoving useless bits of paper round desks, initiative overload and crumbling infrastructure, plus the utter failure of the social care system ...

E.g. our local hospital has Autoclaved Aerated Concrete beams which are having to be replaced at enormous cost and inconvenience. My wife worked in social services for many years and I can't describe how badly underfunded and disorganised this sector is. The best thing that Starmer et al could do is to sort the social care system to prevent bed blocking - which is endemic to the tune of 13,000 beds as of last month.

I guess he could always use Crapita to solve this.... or maybe not.

Another security calamity for Capita: An unsecured AWS bucket

ComicalEngineer

Is there no end to Crapita's incompetence? *

* Probably not. From experience.

Britain's largest private pension scheme reveals scale of Capita break-in

ComicalEngineer

Crapita strikes again.

I'm a former member of USS and my son is a current member so I have a dog in this fight.

Another absolutely disgraceful debacle from Crapita -- should we expect anything else? Personal opinion is that it's time that companies and especially the UK government stopped outsourcing to this bunch of incompetents and secondly that Crapita was broken up.

In the last few years I've watch Crapita screw up several defence projects, the tagging service, NHS IT systems, British Army recruiting and destroy a perfectly good IT company that they bought and screw up various local government contracts. Oh, and a rail franchise.

Google "capita army recruitment problems" if you want a typical run down on project mismanagement.

Is there anything tape can’t fix? This techie used it to defeat the Sun

ComicalEngineer

The large company I worked for decided to close the beautiful 1950s offices which had been used for nearly 50 years, and were well liked, and move the entire engineering department to a brand new *purpose built* [but not for the purpose for which we used it] block. This meant a lot of people who lived near the old site now facing a 35 minute commute rather than 5 minutes.

The new office came with floor to ceiling windows. My seat being adjacent to a window giving me a wonderful view of the car park, the building opposite and a slice of grass and trees round the corner of the opposite building. At the last minute it was decided that the fit out of the new building was over-budget and hence certain things were deleted, air conditioning being replaced by *pressure ventilation* and the window blinds being deleted. This was OK for those on the North side of the building, but for those of us on the south side led to excessive heat and inability to read the CRT monitors that we had. My own monitor was unusable after 1030 on a sunny day.

Being engineers we came up with several ingenious methods to get round this, mostly involving taping large drawings to the windows and the use of large pieces of corrugated cardboard propped up around monitors. This was not to the liking of the powers that be who decreed that nothing shoud be stuck to our wonderful windows and that cardboard boxes must be removed forthwith. At which point VDU assessments were demanded by those affected --- and the VDU assessments were all failed as being not fit for use.

A month later vertical blinds were installed to the South side of the building, which involved a complex operation including removal of IT equipment to a safe place, moving of desks to get access (my own desk was 12" from the window) and then the replacement and reconnection of all the equipment. All of this had to be done over 3 weekends ensuring that the users could walk back in on Monday morning and commence work. Thus lots of overtime rates for the blind installation company and the IT team.

The price to fit blinds to half the building? Twice what it would have been for the original installation to the whole building.

Microsoft Azure CTO believes confidential computing is the future of targeted advertising

ComicalEngineer

M$ trying to screw even more revenue out of the user without anyone noticing?

Say it ain't so Joe.

LinkedIn links out of China with 716 roles for the chop

ComicalEngineer

Linkedin has almost become Facebook for the working classes with the amount of sheer drivel posted of the "my dog has just died..." type. There is also an increasing amount of spam and scam on the site, of which I've had a number of obvious scam messages and invitations to link from obvious fake accounts. M$ rarely, if ever, takes action on reported spam & scam posts. You'll also find that every 3rd post in your feed is an advert -- sorry "sponsored" post.

It's obvious that M$ is desperately trying to monetise Linkedin to death with the sheer number of adverts. But what do you do when there are no more working people who want to sign up to the platform? Easy, dump a few staff.

Capita admits some pension data 'likely' to have been accessed in March breach

ComicalEngineer

A little story from my youth (ok, about 10 years ago). My previous company (a SME) worked on numerous relatively small contracts for the UK MOD and based on our previous performance we were then asked to quote for a good chunk of work.

We lost the bid, not on technical grounds, but because we were deemed to small to support the size of contract. A week later we were contracted by Crapita asking if we would undertake the work on their behalf (at a reduced rate doubtless so that they could make more of a profit).

Turns out that Crapita had bid for a type of specialist work that they could not actually do in-house as they lacked the expertise and were desperately hunting for a competent sub-contractor. As we had picked up another contract we told them to get stuffed. I cannot comment on the quality of their work but have not come across them since doing similar tasks.

Oracle's examplar win over SAP for Birmingham City Council is 3 years late

ComicalEngineer

From personal knowledge I believe that all large councils have multiple systems dating back at least 25 years if not more. I have seen one system which was still using a DOS type interface in 2018. It later had a Windows front end bolted on but it's still a 25+ year old legacy system that would cost a lot of money to replace including migration of 25 years data from the legacy system.

As for all large systems, the integration of multiple types of data, many of which may need to be collated into a file relating to e.g. a single person or family is a major challenge. Add into this levels of security and access for different users, child protection constraints, vulnerable persons, family security, links to finances, council tax, benefits, Universal Credit etc and there is an almost infinite scope for a major fustercluck.

On top of this, the system has to work "out of the box" but councils won't allow sufficient time for testing or parallel operation to iron out the bugs.

I love local councils - not.

Chromebook expiration date, repair issues 'bad for people and planet'

ComicalEngineer

I am doomed.

I have an 15" Acer laptop that originally came with Vista installed, currently running Win7 Home Premium. I think we bought it in 2009 just after Win7 was released. It's nicknamed "The [Paving] Slab" as it's a hefty chunk at 2.8kg.

It's had a new battery (£12) and a new keyboard after the backspace key fell off (£11) and I put a bigger HDD in to use it as a backup. It still works fine although it takes a little while to boot. It was originally bought for the kids to do their homework on but I still use it for report writing. Win7 & Office 2010 plus LibreOffice and some other legacy software and it's fine. As the HDD is getting a bit slow I may even put a SSD in!

My desktop machine is about 8 years old although it does have 20GB of RAM and a decent graphics card and is connected to two 27" monitors.

I also have a Fujitsu Q520 i7 which is running Linux Mint and a newish HP laptop for when I'm travelling as it's light.

Chromebooks, Macs and MS Surface are all extremely difficult to repair or upgrade by design which is one very good reason that I'm not using one.

Microsoft promises smaller Windows 11 updates with UUP – but there's a catch

ComicalEngineer

Re: What I want

Still running a couple of Win7 machines with office 2010.

Regedit to remove the office 2010 nag and sundry other crap

No inclination whatsoever to change.

Microsoft switches Edge’s PDF reader to pay-to-play Adobe Acrobat

ComicalEngineer

M$ and Adobe in bed together.

What could possible go wrong?

You can run Windows 11 on just 200MB of RAM – but should you?

ComicalEngineer

Win10 on a 4GB Celeron

Yes, I have an old Acer Revo RL80 with a 1.5GHz Celeron and 4GB of RAM. OK, it does have an SSD.

4GB because I've been using it to run some 32 bit legacy software dating from 1998 - which it runs pretty well with the odd minor hiccup (which I can cope with). It's fine running the legacy program with Word 2010 and Excel 2010 running at the same time, or in my normal usage, Libre Office. The only thing that slows it down is RAM hungry Firefox.

I had a spare copy of Win 10 and the Acer was a spare machine and wanted to try Win10 before moving to a daily driver. Having de-crapped Win10 is does a decent job for me and I'm quite happy with it.

My normal Windoze desktop machine is an AMD Quad core 3.6GHz with 20GB of RAM driving two 4K monitors, but I generally prefer my Fujitsu i7 with just 8GB running Linux Mint.

SWMBO has a Win11 laptop which she is OK with but I detest Win11, partly because of the *£%&ing taskbar abortion.

Microsoft swears it's not coming for your data with scan for old Office versions

ComicalEngineer

Re: The 4 horsemen of the internet...

I have Office 2010 running on an XP machine...

Supports legacy software which I still need to use occasionally.

Latest Windows 11 build shares desktop real estate with, er, Spotify

ComicalEngineer

The adverting OS formerly known as Windows

Seems like I have to remove more and more crapware with each new versions of Window$.

All I want is a clean OS that allows me to run my work apps in peace and quiet.

The list of things I DON'T want in Window$ grows daily.

Thankfull I spend most of my time on Linux.

Microsoft is checking everyone's bags for unsupported Office installs

ComicalEngineer
Pint

Office 2010

A while ago I bought several licenses for Office 2010. I still have 2 or 3 left unused. 365 does nothing for me that 2010 doesn't already do.

Most of the time I use LibreOffice (on both Win & Linux boxes) but some of my customers are wedded to M$ :(

Polish for Windows Spotlight and tabs for Notepad in latest Insiders build

ComicalEngineer

M$ priorities suck

"The treatments for Spotlight will include richer UI around displaying the title and description and learning more information about the image displayed on your desktop via Spotlight,"

Wow! I'm overwhelmed.

But seriously, does M$ not have anything better to do with programmers' time than this? W11 is, IMHO, a step backwards from W10 in terms of the way the UI functions and the overall ease of use. In particular (for me) the inability to move the taskbar away from the bottom of the screen to the left hand side (where it's been on my screen for the last 30+ years) is a complete killer. Other major annoyances are the procedure for changing default apps, for which I have several non-M$ preferred apps.

I've tried it and I've binned it. I'm staying with W10 whilst I can.

I also have W7 and XP machines which M$ would also have me kill but these run mission critical software.

Now I've discovered that MS will try to force me away from the perfectly useable version of Office 2010 that I have to buy a subscription for Office 365. The only reason I use M$ office is for compatability with some of my customers, but this will end in 2 years time when I retire and go full Linux.

Time to study the classics: Vintage tech is the future of enterprise IT

ComicalEngineer

Bring back the 6502

BBC Master 128 with the OS on ROM was my favourite computer. Utterly indestructable and it never went wrong. Better still, hit the power switch and it was ready to work a second later. Oh, my lost youth.