* Posts by Alan W. Rateliff, II

878 publicly visible posts • joined 21 Nov 2007


Tesla's Cybertruck may not be so stainless after all

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Something I have yet to grok...

What exactly is the cybertruck for?

BOFH: Hearken! The Shiny Button software speaks of Strategic Realignment

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Microsoft Office Assistant

* Clippit.

What Microsoft's latest email breach says about this IT security heavyweight

Alan W. Rateliff, II

The "dead leg" hazard exists in IT.

BOFH: A security issue, you say? Activate code tangerine

Alan W. Rateliff, II

"that's an old code"

But it checks out.

(No forest moon of Endor icon.)

Suits ignored IT's warnings, so the tech team went for the neck

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Using a boss's hubris and arrogance against him

Way back when, I worked for a boss who thought a little too much of himself. In the early days he was open to our ideas and was a seemingly congenial fella. Though I learned from others about some of his penchants and history for dishonesty toward vendors and customers. As time moved on, he became dismissive and sometimes just flat-out rude about our requests, and the dishonesty turned more inward against the company. We figured out that if we planted the seed in his mind about something we needed then forged a campaign of customer requests and complaints, within a few weeks he would bring up this amazing idea that absolutely needed to be implemented and in short order. Even though these are often last minute, we were always at the ready to get it done and put in the extra time if necessary. For the good of the company.

Bad eIDAS: Europe ready to intercept, spy on your encrypted HTTPS connections

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: Sacre bleue

I see an emerging market for browser add-ons which will check CAs.

The privacy issues aside, it seems these legislators do not understand the Internet at all.

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Google commenting on security...

Perhaps Google could also be interested in properly handling certificate revocation across the board rather than just what it deems important to monitor.

YouTube cares less for your privacy than its revenues

Alan W. Rateliff, II
Thumb Up

Dodgy crypto...

I see what you did there.

There is very little else I can add to this opinion piece. It hits right on the mark for me. I am not a passive user just watching TV while I do something else. I am active and moving with purpose. Having my time consumed is bad enough, but now you want to consume my attention. No. Pay for it? If the service offers something valuable, sure. There are plenty of streaming services which are ad-free and offer high quality content. But YouTube is not quality content in the sense that I am not as interested in the content maker as I am the actual content. YouTube is, or at least used to be, "broadcast yourself!" which is not a model which resonates with me as a content consumer.

Does Windows have a very weak password lurking in its crypto libraries?

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Engineers and public relations

He concluded: "I bet you can find insecure passwords in a lot of binaries if you set your mind to it. Just scan for the bytes 61 62 63 in any binary, and if you find it, you can get all excited: 'Hey, your binary contains the insecure password abc!'"

This was a completely dismissive and douchie thing to say. This is why we need Tom Smykowskis in the world.

Microsoft to kill off third-party printer drivers in Windows

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: Does that mean...

My "ancient" multi-function laser from Samsung HP, which has seen "no love" since HP took over Samsung's business, is going to become useless on Windows at some point, or will it still carry on as it is?

It sounds like it will be killed off. Many of my old HPs (a LaserJet 4050, for instance,) still works on my systems on which it was installed back in 1809, but new loads of 22H2 do not have its driver. A couple of colleagues have had to rip printer drivers from previous Windows 10 releases to get them to work on newer machines.

This has the potential to turn Microsoft into a print gatekeeper. Microsoft will dictate which printers may be used by not allowing third-party drivers. That also means me e-waste as otherwise perfectly fine printers will get junked. Build your printer to our driver specs, which will likely have to be licensed, or piss off.

Alan W. Rateliff, II

What happens when a core component is broken beyond repair

In other words, after the print spooler security vulnerability exposed a few years ago, Microsoft has tried desperately to fix it and just continued to muck things up and break functionality, security, and drivers. It cannot be fixed so it must be replaced.

To be fair, the print subsystem is something that I and many of my colleagues have agonized over for over a decade. This may not be such a bad thing... if it works.

Honey, can you shrink the plugin? Mozilla allows desktop extensions on Firefox for Android

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Surprising mobile browser stats

I am surprised to see Opera ranking so high. Other than not being able to force it to play videos when not in focus, it is a rather powerful mobile browser. I expected Firefox to have a larger share than Opera, though not nearly as large as Chrome considering how it is wedged into Android base loads.

Bizarre backup taught techie to dumb things down for the boss

Alan W. Rateliff, II


"I need my Trash back, it is where I keep all my important mails."

Attorney sues Microsoft for $1.75M, claiming his email has been useless since May

Alan W. Rateliff, II

A tale as old as time

So many licenses lost linked to bunged Microsoft accounts. So many services linked to bunged Microsoft accounts lost. So many hours lost to Microsoft support, each call turning into a side quest. Here comes someone with chutzpah. Godspeed.

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

Alan W. Rateliff, II

The program manager learned a lot about IT during those days

A really good outcome, and likely made things easier down the road. Having a manager who knows little about your job but has the power to tell you how to do it is beyond frustrating. But, having a (good) manager who has worked with you shoulder-to-shoulder in the trenches not only makes the job easier, but having someone like that sitting between you and upper-management or command staff is invaluable.

(I had to go back and qualify "manager" with "good," because some of them are arrogant asses who always think they can do things better because they were there once.)

BOFH: Get me a new data file or your manager finds out exactly what you think of him

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: Oh the pain!

Quite likely they don't quite know how they solved it. They applied various fixes recommended in the forum and may have clicked on something in the UI without noticing and the problem just quietly went away.

If I had a nickle for every time I just carpet-bomb a problem because fixing it is critical, leaving me with no clue which bomb actually solved it but, screw it, it works.

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: Oh the pain!

HAHA! Yeah, my fingers are still as fleet though not as accurate as they once were. I also said "que" in another post instead of "cue." Two errors in the same time period is not boding well for me. I know, 'tis a poor craftsman what blames his tools.

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: Oh the pain!

Or the live chat pop-up, with the photo of some friendly stock person, which says "Chat with us any time!" Upon clicking, you see the notice, "We're closed right now." Que the Charlie Brown "AUGH!!"

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: Oh the pain!

the last post from the OP is "solved it now" with no bloody indication of how they resolved it!!!

I was thinking of exactly that when I posted. Yeah, those are beyond enraging. Sometimes I pretend to have hope that maybe one of us mere mortals can figure it out like the OP and the dozens of following posts asking, "Dude, how'd you do it?! Please help us!" All written in such a way you can fell the agony and despair.

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: Oh the pain!

My favorite is the "Help" link that eventually takes you to the "community" where the same problem has been posted, numerous "me, too!" posts follow, and no solution ever provided, with several months or years between the posts.

Apparently people just like to complain about long-standing crippling features.

First ever 64-bit version of Windows rediscovered … and a C compiler for it too

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: Windows XP x64

All I remember about 64bit XP is that it was weirdly buggy.

In what ways? The biggest problems I had running XP64 was drivers and some programs simply did not like the 64-bit environment, but compatibility mode often saved the day. For drivers, if I could not find XP64-native drivers (which was, surprisingly, not often,) I would use Server 2003 x64 drivers. 64-bit programs ran brilliantly, and I ran everything 64-bit I could get my hands on. Honestly one of my first pleasant experiences with desktop Windows.

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: Actualy came across a 64-bit XP on a customer site.

I did this internally. I was running XP64 on my own systems as soon as I had a CPU capable of 64-bit, which was my first Core2Duo. XP-64 bit worked so well for me, that when customers were upgrading from XP to Windows 7, since it was usually a new computer or a fresh load (no upgrading x86 to x64,) I was pushing 7x64.

I did an install of Vista x64 once... it was more of a disaster than 32-bit Vista.

Why do we keep saying the 9x Windows are "DOS-based?" Once the 9x kernel boots, the Win32 system takes over and the DOS subsystem is elevated to a VM, providing a compatibility layer for 16-bit drivers when needed.

BOFH takes a visit to retro computing land

Alan W. Rateliff, II

I foolishly sold my B2000 40MHz 68030, my A4000 with Warp Engine and Picasso IV, my A4000T PPC 603/060 and Cybervision 64, my A1200T/060

I had a WarpEngine 4040 and traded up to a CyberStorm MK-III, and I have the Picasso IV. Great stuff. I envy your former A4000T. Having gotten rid of things I later needed or wanted, I feel your pain. Really sad how much it would cost to replace those these days. But, I have, through thick and thin, held onto my C64, C128, and Amiga stuff, knowing that the relief selling it would bring would only be temporary, the pain would be long-lasting, and a better way was to be found.

Alan W. Rateliff, II

You had me at


*opens wallet with a heavy sigh*

Ackshually, I a number of years back I picked up a B128 with 8050 floppy. Need to get that all running for exhibit at some point.

You can try to float any Apple or Atari stuff. It will not float, but I have no problem with you trying, anyway. Makes great coral reef material. For the environment, of course.

Microsoft suggests businesses buy fewer PCs. No, really

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Makes sense with ESG filings

With the SEC heading into requiring ESG as part of annual filings, it makes sense that Microsoft would take this stance as companies are held to account for their customers' environmental and sustainability portion.

Microsoft may stop bundling Teams with Office amid antitrust probe threat

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: More Income

The only thing Teams is bundled is the Microsoft 365 installer. As for the software packages themselves go, Teams and Office have completely different program directories and update methods. Office can be installed without Teams, and Teams can be installed on its own.

My experience is exactly the opposite, and I came here to post what the OP said. First, I find that I have to install Teams for Business separately from Office 365 Apps for Enterprise. Secondly, Teams functionality is included as part of our Office 365 for Business license (with an extra $8 or something if you want the user to allow dial-ins for the meetings.)

Now, get away from the forced Microsoft account logins for Windows 11 and later releases of Windows 10 -- that will make me happy. (I know the BypassNRO trick, but end users do not and it causes a good bit of havoc.)

Florida folks dragged out of bed by false emergency texts

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: Interesting

Amber and Silver alerts are issued by a different agency which is not a division of the Governor's office. Take it up with them. I assume you have taken advantage of remedies which are available via official means which do not just include spleen venting on a UK website.

What it looks like is that the alert is blasted out to everyone in the state… which is exactly what happened in the current case. This problem needs to be addressed.

FWIW, I agree with you on the distribution scale. I have also received Amber alerts for south Florida while I live in north Florida. I would expect the alerts would be limited to the area from which the child was abducted and the areas through or to which the abductor may be traveling. Similarly with Silver alerts, but I suppose those old coots can be speedy and unpredictable.

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: Interesting

Ron DeSatan

Woah, you said it twice. I guess you are serious and not just hurr durr. In any case, I was not aware of anyone working for FDEM who I would call incompetent. Everyone up there busts their asses and work as professionally as anyone I have ever know. Accidents happen, just that monumental accidents are noticed on a monumental scale. But, I am certain you have never made a mistake in your life, so you just have to take my word for it.

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Not sure if envious or lucky

I did not receive an FDEM alert on my phone. Not sure why, and not sure if I should feel left out.

Microsoft mucks with PrtScr key for first time in decades

Alan W. Rateliff, II

But, strangely to my mind, some people like it. I offer to turn it off for clients, and they say no, it's fine.

Most of my customers never realized it was there. I got a lot of calls asking how to turn it off because it would pop up when they just moved the mouse past. First thing I did was check that WeatherBug was not installed, and then, oh, that... thanks Microsoft.

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: If they already have modified this setting, the preference will be preserved

Wait... if the current setting defaults to "off," then I would not need to change it. And if I do not change it, then the update will not preserve it, right? So, this statement makes no sense. It essentially says, "we'll turn it on by default, unless you've already turned it on."

Alan W. Rateliff, II

(shakes fist at sky)

Been using PrtScr and ALT-PrnScr and pasting into my preferred target for 23 years. See no reason to change now just to give Microsoft's pet tool more face time.

Reminds me of that little news and weather gadget that suddenly appeared in people's Windows 10 task bars. Microsoft says, "hey, with 1909 you get this neat little widget. Oh, no one wants to use it? Well, we'll just turn it on by default in this next cumulative update." Oh, and that little graphic that shows up in the search bar now. Yeah, people just love that shit.

Military helicopter crash blamed on failure to apply software patch

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: Hmmm

Was the copter unreliable because of a long history of software patches not installed, or were the patches not installed because of a long history of unreliability leading to no interest in maintaining them?

They ran out of 5.25" disks for the updates.

Alert: Crims hijack these DrayTek routers to attack biz

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: The vulnerability applies to more than just 2960 and 3900 routers

I really like the DrayTek Vigors, which seem to not be commercially popular devices over this side of the world. I just had to replace my 2862 which was about four or five years old. Other than lacking support and this nasty security vuln, if the modem had not been damaged it might have lived here even longer. Of course, the replacement unit is faster and has better wireless.

AmigaOS 3.2.2 released for those feeling nostalgic

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: Time to update

Like riding a bicycle... it all just comes back to you.

Alan W. Rateliff, II

A floppy emulator would be the best way to go if you just want a collection of ADFs on-hand. There are a number of tools to mount ADFs within Workbench, but none of which I am aware allow you to mount and boot. Your best bet for compatibility with OCS/ECS games of the era is Kickstart 1.3. No need to go any higher if you are not going to run Workbench.

Alan W. Rateliff, II

PiStorm is blasphemy

Better a Vampire.

What's up with IT, Doc? Rabbit hole reveals cause of outage

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Family cat and a 12v power supply

Not a huge deal, but I had a old fashioned 12v brick power supply with no fusing, essentially nothing but a 10:1 step-down transformer and some diodes, running an antenna amplifier. The family cat was known for chewing, but I had the wire tucked safely behind my little TV stand in my tightly-packed room. Or so I thought. Cats apparently share DNA with the cockroach and can squeeze themselves anywhere they want. They also seem to have the ability to detect wires behind solid objects. I was coming out of the shower one day and heard a God-awful screech a bunch of bumping around, then the cat came tearing ass out of my room. It took me a couple of days to put things together as I did not often get a chance to watch said TV. But I finally did and found it had a weak signal. I pulled the heavy 20-something inch tube telly and its stand out to find the one leg of the wire chewed through, and the other leg, at roughly the same spot, had been punctured through its insulation with the wire exposed.

To my knowledge, the little summabitch never chewed another wire. I was glad it was a little 12V 1A line rather than a 120V line on a 15A circuit. Would have been a real nasty clean-up, and moving that TV sucked.

Job 1: Get the boss on the network. Job 2: Figure out why Job 1 broke the network for everyone else

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: No access to 56k pr0n for you...

Let me tell you a story. I met my boss at that job before I was hired, when the company held a customer appreciation event. How I became a customer is almost as interesting. See, I had an Amiga, and I was told by a couple of places there was no way they could get me on-line. When I called this company, the guy who answered the phone thought it was cool as hell, and while we were talking he had signed me up and let me have a chance to get going. I did.

At the event, some people wanted to meet me and I got to meet them... but not after I had already gotten completely shit-faced, but was still very excited to talk about the Amiga and technology in general. I kind-of had a job interview right there, and within a month I was working with them.

I was brought on to be an assistant administrator, and the guys taught me the ropes. In a couple of months I was proficient with the dial-up and ISDN system, Windows on the Internet, IP networking, and some colocated server management. In the dark, dark corners of the network sat a Unix machine (Solaris 2.4 on a SparcStation clone,) with a dying hard drive and some other issues. I was tasked with its administration since I knew some Unix and the administrator, aside from having a lot on his hands with the NT side of things, would get uncharacteristically furious at Unix.

By the time the dial-up system lock-out occurred, I had a deep respect for my boss. We worked as both equals and as pupil and master. I had no reason to hide what I had done, especially when expressing that I had learned a valuable lesson about "implicit deny." A lesson he admitted to having had learned the hard way, as well.

We all worked together for almost four years; we became a team, and our work relationships mostly turned into good friendships. Our company was sold to a local competitor and I spent the first six months working in the new company's office as a contractor. We have continued that mutually beneficial working relationship for 20 years, coming back around to me not playing a major part in the company under new management

I am proud to say that I am still close friends with a couple of the guys I started with there, and have had the deepest honor to participate in their weddings, as a groomsman and as my former boss's Best Man.

Alan W. Rateliff, II

No access to 56k pr0n for you...

Yup. As a newly-hired network administrator, I took down an entire dial-up ISP with an implicit deny-all rule while mitigating DoS attacks against some users. Once I realized what I had done and that my back-door into the system was also affected, I had that sinking feeling of letting go of the car door just as you realize your keys are still in the ignition.

Fortunately, this happened around 2am when usage was low. A 20-minute drive across town to the office (completed in 12 minutes) resolved the issue and no one was any the wiser. Though, I admitted my tomfoolery to my boss in the morning, which elicited a chuckle.

New IT boss decided to 'audit everything you guys are doing wrong'. Which went wrong

Alan W. Rateliff, II

"And my response to the company was quiet quitting for the next 12 years" – showing up to work without giving it his best effort.

"Well, Bob, I do just enough around here not to get fired."

BOFH: You. Wouldn't. Put. A. Test. Machine. Into. Production. Without. Telling. Us.

Alan W. Rateliff, II

"We've bought this setup and now you must make it work"

The frequently recurring nightmare of IT workers everywhere.

What happens when your massive text-generating neural net starts spitting out people's phone numbers? If you're OpenAI, you create a filter

Alan W. Rateliff, II

But does it produce only random numbers? Intelligence tends to be lazy (or efficient, depending upon your perspective.) If I can just spout some formatted number I already know off the top of my head, I am more likely to do that than spend whatever time is necessary to manufacture such information. Even if it means stringing together chunks of numbers I already know.

Consider PINs. Rather than formulate a random number sequence and risk committing this transient information to memory, if I can instead associate this particular function with a number I already know (significant date, phone number, address, etc.) then the process is not only easier and quicker, but the long term result will be more dependable.

Of course, that scenario is more about input for your memory than outputting information. Consider, then, lying about an event in which you were unexpectedly caught participating. Your first telling of the lie will be simple and constructed from what you can most quickly throw together. As time goes on this lie becomes more elaborate or might change altogether to account for various holes or shortcomings. As well, as the lie becomes more elaborate and incorporates more elements not already part of your repertoire, it becomes more difficult to memorize and thus defend in the long term.

Are AIs just as efficient as our HI? Can, and will, an AI lie?

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: Just sayin’

The fictional "555" is actually an exchange, not an area code. The numbers would be something like 202-555-xxxx or 613-555-xxxx. I recall an article some while back which also listed sets of numbers originally used for fiction, as 555-1212 was a real number in almost all areas which connected the caller to directory services and there were (still are?) others which connect to local weather, time and date, and other services.

Am I to understand that OpenAI is building an AI to monitor the output of an AI? Will this be external to the original AI like a censor, or will it be built into the AI to allow it to self-censor? What happens when the censor AI goes balmy and starts censoring AI output which it thinks could be doxxing, even though it bears little resemblance to PII, or information which could lead to doxxing? Will this new censoring AI begin berating other AIs over which it has no control for outputting potential PII?

Amiga Fast File System makes minor comeback in new Linux kernel

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Only way to recover was to take the drive to a non amiga and delete the offending data.

Uh, no. You can take it to another Amiga to fix it. You can also disable devices in the early startup menu to prevent the bad filesystems from being loaded. Easiest thing to do is to boot from an OS "Install" disk and use HDToolBox to correct the errant filesystem in the RDB (Rigid Disk Block.) I admit to trashing an RDB or two in my time.

As to the flexibility, my RDB currently contains FFS patched to 45.17, PFS3, and CrossDOS (MS-DOS filesystem.) All related partitions mount at boot and are accessible without running startup-sequence or mounting via Workbench's DOSDrivers drawer. Running OS3.9 and I need to update to 3.1.4, but I have not had the motivation to do so, yet.

I have mounted and used SATA and IDE drives on my 4000 desktop via USB (Deneb.) Never tried this, but I suspect one could also hang a drive off a MorphOS machine, like a MacMini, with a suitable USB adapter. Obviously not with a SCSI drive... though, you might be able to use a USB to SATA/IDE, then SATA/IDE to SCSI.

Relying on plain-text email is a 'barrier to entry' for kernel development, says Linux Foundation board member

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Nice place you built up over the past 25 years

Now, we just need to Microsoft-up this thing a bit.

You *bang* will never *smash* humiliate me *whack* in front of *clang* the teen computer whizz *crunch* EVER AGAIN

Alan W. Rateliff, II

"hideous groaning noise"

Beauty is in the ear of the beholder.

So you really didn't touch the settings at all, huh? Well, this print-out from my secret backup says otherwise

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: To my shame ..

There was a time when we did not expend resources analyzing people like him for individual and granular defects which could be labeled. We just called them "assholes" and moved on, often without them around anymore.

Alan W. Rateliff, II

Re: Ah, customers.

I have never really liked this "rule." One could interpret that to mean something like "if the password is just one character off, accept it," or in any case spending time trying to interpret what the sender meant rather than what was sent. This idea may sound good in principle, look good on paper, and may make everyone experience good feels, but it cannot and does not work in the real world.

That time Windows got blindsided by a ball of plasma, 150 million kilometres away

Alan W. Rateliff, II

BIOS update to fix a bad spreadsheet?!

A customer called me to tell me about an Excel spreadsheet which was crashing at a particular point. This was repeatable on the machine but no one else had the problem. I did what every good tech does: removed and re-installed Office. No dice, it still crashed at exactly the same point performing exactly the same actions. After browsing around for a few hours hoping I could find someone coming close to the issue, I decided we would re-load Windows 7 from scratch and try again. The user went to a spare laptop while I re-loaded theirs.

But then another call came. This spare laptop was also crashing, but with a different spreadsheet and at a different point. Again, repeatable, but also afflicting another machine. What the...? While investigating I had another user tell me they had crashing problems, but with yet a different spreadsheet.

We had different versions of Excel across several machines, all running an up-to-date installation of Windows 7. Common threads were eliminated: it was not caused by accessing over the network as a local copy performed identically; the anti-virus was uninstalled for testing; all updates were checked. But another common object remained.

Just barely a week earlier I read an article written by a programmer who was the liaison between product support and the programming group. He mentioned how one of the first things he asked when being escalated a ticket was, what CPU is the customer running? With the answer he would pull known errata for that particular CPU.

The common thread in my situation? All computers involved were Dell laptops, all but one the same model, and all running superseded BIOS versions. It was a shot in the dark but I understand CPUs have bugs, having been around so long, and I also know that BIOS updates will often carry CPU micro-code updates. What the heck, right?

As I live and breath, updating the BIOS on all of the laptops fixed the crashing problems for all spreadsheets involved. How esoteric can you get? I might have stumbled across that at some point in a desperate carpet-bomb approach to update all drives and BIOS and whatever else, but to specifically target that solution? I might not have if not for an article, written by a programmer to share his experiences, and stumbled upon by a tech just falling down a rabbit hole one night.