* Posts by Herby

3058 publicly visible posts • joined 14 Dec 2007

What's brown and sticky and broke this PC?


Re: Ahhh the joys

Lick? How do you know. Details, please!

BOFH: I get locked out, but I get in again



My mom when she attended university had a roommate who had a German typewriter that was "noiseless". When she had to use it, she added a comment about Y and Z being reversed.

Yes, it was a long Long LONG time ago when manual typewriters were a thing.

Forgetting the history of Unix is coding us into a corner


Certification of Unix

Having been on the front line of this process, I can relate that it is a trying exercise. You test ALL sorts of things that make things Unix. The shell, the library, the system calls, and (last but not least) the C compiler. There are verification suites for all of these things, and a "simple" run can take over a day (at least an overnight exercise).

Others have opined that MacOS is case insensitive. This is not exactly true. The latest file system promulgated by Apple the attribute of case insensitivity a file system parameter. Turn on/off at will.

Of course things can get tricky at times. You get a C compiler that emits code that has "speculative executions" and then you write a routine (Gamma functions come to mind) that exercise this, and the speculative execution generates "errors", which you don't really want, and it fails. Ooops!!

Uncle Sam sweetens the pot with $15M bounty on Hive ransomware gang members



North Korea?

Good luck with that. They are making more $$$ in Ransomware that the reward.

Please install that patch – but don't you dare actually run it


Re: This must rate as the most moronic management policy ...

Anti-static and batteries...

You see anti-static is a bit conductive. Probably more than the standby current of a CMOS clock chip. So, yes, it will drain the battery. Yes, it will take a while, and Yes, it will reduce the life of the battery (much more than normal use).

No, you don't want to do it!


Re: More like: Brain, please meet Damage.

No, more like Drain, please meet Bamage. FTFY!!

BOFH: Looks like you're writing an email. Fancy telling your colleague to #$%^ off?


Cleaning Alcohol??

In my younger days we actually used 95% grain Alcohol for cleaning. I worked at a university, and you could go down to the chemistry department and get a whole gallon of UNTAXED alcohol. It was great for cleaning things. Evaporated quickly and left little residue. Never did mix it with other potable products, but I was told about "Tang Bangers" that had been consumed elsewhere. Being UNTAXED it was pretty cheap (couple of bucks for the gallon). The gallon did last quite a long time. We kept it "put away" to prevent misuse. Sadly I never did participate in any misuse, and the tin had lots of warning labels on it.

Long time ago, a galaxy far far away.

WTF? Potty-mouthed intern's obscene error message mostly amused manager


General error messages...

I have a system (text based) that originated back in the early 80's which had a ROM monitor that emitted "WTF?" if it didn't understand its input. The programmer (I was told) didn't want to change it, so it was documented as "With Trace Flag" as the explanation. Of course, we all know what it REALLY means.

Keep calm and carry on.

Your pacemaker should be running open source software


Pacemaker software...

Is a strange thing. I worked on one while back and noted a bunch of things. The device was based on a 65C02 and ran assembly language. It had a timer that turned on the CPU every beat to save power (one half of the device was its battery). When they shipped the thing out, they included a dedicated laptop to interface with the thing (simple expense) that was the monitoring software. Cost wise about 1/2 of the cost was liability insurance (I believe that was the number), and to total cost was over $20k (back in 2000). My function was to test the silly thing (we had a bog breadboard we used). To do the testing we had a setup of 4 desktop machines to simulate the patient and record results. They were concerned about interference that they had to switch off ethernet access to the switch because they thought it might interfere with the testing. I worked on trying to make sure that all the execution paths worked correctly by devising several procedures to check all the "if then else" sequences. All of this for a device that was smaller than a deck of cards. Of course it could have been "open source", but there was a certification process that was tedious to say the least. All in all an interesting project. When you get into medical devices everything is difficult. If it weren't you wouldn't trust it AT ALL. Yes, data dumps should be easy to get, but nobody has setup any standards. Until then I don't hold out much hope.

Life goes on, one beat at a time.

RIP: Software design pioneer and Pascal creator Niklaus Wirth


When it comes to Pascal...

I am reminded of Brian Kernigan's quote.

That being said, Worth did advance the state of the art quite a bit.

War of the workstations: How the lowest bidders shaped today's tech landscape


Life goes on...

I wonder how things will be in (say) 40 years from now. About the only thing that I now for sure is that we will need worrying about is Y2038. Everything else will be a big guess. Computers are "tools" that can be used in various and strange ways, and will continue to be. How they do that will be a continuing question. I'm sure that languages and Operating systems will abound, and most likely morph into something we don't recognize. Could we have predicted the present from 1973? I hardly think so. Will things evolve, yes, they will. Who will "win"? Hard to tell. I keep reminding myself that if IBM hadn't chosen an Intel chip for its PC, Intel would still be making memories (or possibly dust).

Put this article and its comments in a time capsule to be opened in 2063. Have fun, I won't be here then.

'The computer was sitting in a puddle of mud, with water up to the motherboard'



In my younger days I worked a a company that provided systems to answering services (in the US). Sometimes we went to the offices and did "maintenance" and enhancements. Since the terminals were CRTs and their screens attracted smoke particles quite easily, one of the things we would do is apply a bit of window cleaner to the face of the terminal, and with a dust rag clean the terminal. After that we could ALWAYS get remarks that were similar to "WOW what did you do, it is so much better". Thankfully the main box (rack) was usually in an office where people didn't smoke too much, but the operators were worse than fireplaces.

I won't comment on the looks of the attendants but I will say that (and I'm making a generalization here) looks and voices were usually inverses.

Bank's datacenter died after travelling back in time to 1970


Clocks & time...

Sometimes they get a bit confused.

I have this nice wall clock from Radio Shack which tries to sync to WWVB (60 kHz signal). Unfortunately it doesn't do this well for some reason, and just free-runs if it doesn't. This is fine for the most part, but a few weeks ago we went from PDT (daylight time/summer time) to PST (standard time/winter time). Now if the clock had been able to receive the time signal, it would have corrected things nicely, but alas, it appears that our government (which operates the time signal stations) probably has cut the budget so they reduced the power. Thus the signal isn't what it used to be, and the clock hasn't "fall back" an hour. Oh, well. I just replaced the batteries (nice reminder!) and set the time manually. Life goes on.

BOFH: Adventures in overenthusiastic automation


Re: Good use

They don't call BMWs "Bring My Wallet" for nothing!

Scripted shortcut caused double-click disaster of sysadmin's own making


Re: Are you sure

The second question should be something like:

Do you want to exit and skip this?

Which would prevent the operator from just hitting the 'Y' key over and over again. Then again, this is similar to the CAPCHA we see from time to time and it is a challenge to figure if the "operator" is a machine (in the form of a biological unit), or a human (with some thinking ability!).

Not even the ghost of obsolescence can coerce users onto Windows 11


Life goes on (sadly)...

Well, a new version of Windows that obsoletes the previous version. Nothing to see here, please go away. Seems like something close to the "red Car" conspiracy back a long time ago. Companies getting together and making everyone upgrade. If it were that with such common things as vehicles, or outlet plugs, we would have all gone mad. Alas nobody cares. We are now resigned to having out data squirreled away in the cloud (read someone who doesn't care about security's computer), and having our actions monitored like North Korea (trying not to invoke Godwin's law). What is needed is a "recyclery" that takes these nice "old" computers and sells nice Linux boxen. Yes, there will be a surplus of very capable machines that "cannot be trusted" to have a W11 installed on them.

So, a software company and hardware companies have all made up the Cabal, and do things for "Progress".

Me? I'll wait.

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


Re: Wonderful episode once again!

The cutout in lead sheet works much better, I'm told. Especially when hidden in the liner of a briefcase. Don't forget a "spring" (wound up length of solder) in the proper places in the handle. Gotta be "accurate".

Sure, give the new kid and his MCSE power over the AS/400. What could possibly go wrong?


Re: Umm. Mainframe?

"salvaged from the local landfill."

Four Yorkshire-men. (Commonly known as the first liar doesn't have a chance!)

Want tech cred? Learn how to email like a pro


Re: Wrapping at column 78

Just for information, an ASR33 teletype has 72 columns (not 80). Of course an IBM punch card has 80 columns ofwhich 72 are used in the active portion of Fortran statements.

Yes, I've used both.

Resilience is overrated when it's not advertised


Backup power...

I was told a story (yes, second hand) about a power failure at a telephone central office. So, the power failed one day. Well the central office has batteries that take over in such cases, but they don't last too long. So, there is a nice gas (natural) powered turbine to generate power for the "duration" of the power failure. This is a "goodf thing:. So to start said turbine, it has a nice large air tank to spin the beast up. Super easy, So the chief flips the switch to start the turbine up, and it does nicely. Now to switch it over to power the "plant". Well, over the course of time lots of things have been plugged in and while the power company could nicely handle the load, the gas turbine generator could not. So, the whole thing failed, and they were back to square one. Not to worry, the air start system had enough to do two starts (gotta love the capacity). Do, another start, and a wise man would re-supply the air start system BEFORE switching the power over. Nope, he just flipped the switch and the same failure happened. Well, with only two starts available, they had to sit and watch as the central office died around him. A big lesson learned the hard hard hard way.

I wasn't informed if procedures were changed, but I suspect so!

Fed-up Torvalds suggests disabling AMD’s 'stupid' performance-killing fTPM RNG


The first letter

In TPM is "trusted". I'm sorry, I haven't seen how it is implemented, so I don't. Apparently Linus doesn't either.

How to get a computer get stuck in a lift? Ask an 'illegal engineer'


402s and Elevators (oh my!!)

Back in the dark ages (I believe they were called the 60's), The nearby university "Comp Center" was open to everyone. Even open to young impressionable high school students (who, me?). While they didn't have a 402 machine, but rather its older brother a 407. Instead of linear typebars that went vertical, the 407 used a drum to hold the characters. Yes, it was all "programmed" by a huge plugboard. I did run a few decks through it, but it was retired a few (maybe less than 1) years later. On the other hand they also haf a 557 interpreter (print characters on an IBM card), and a 519 reproducering punch. Both of these were also programmed with plugboards, and I played around with both of them. One thing that was nice about the 519 was that it had an inp printer that could print card numbers on the end of the card (It had two positions to print). You had to enable it by opening up the front door to reposition it. It (the 619) I believe had something in the plugboard that would add sequence numbers in columns you specified with the plugboard. My memory is fading on this. Both machines were retried due to their consumption of blank cards since everyone wanted a "backup". Interesting times.

Fast forward around 5 years later, and I am employed by said educational facility (with computers, but not at the "comp cengter"). The building we had "just" moved into (freshly built) and the year before there protest(s) in the building next door (I guess they didn't like things the military did). We wanted to "protect out building, and did things like shine lasers around the building. The significant thing that we did was wire one of the elevator cars "for sound" There was a complete remote control that could be plugged into the top of the elevator car (you got there by pushing to one side a light diffuser and going through the hatch in the cieling). The control had also an "emergency top override", as well as a separate phone line that a suitable relay would switch to a private intercom. It was a wonderful contraption, but it was never used for its intended use, such a pity. Of course it probably qualifies as a BOFH item.

Wonderful times!



Reminds me of...

I smell a Wumpus..

Ah, to relive my 20's

Red Hat strikes a crushing blow against RHEL downstreams


No good people, not good!

I don't know what the final result will be, but this first salvo doesn't look good. I have never liked the Debian packing scheme, or its updater. I note that Fedora/RHEL/Rocky is a much, much more polished interface.

Oh, well.

Techie wasn't being paid, until he taught HR a lesson


Three names at once.

A while ago (20 years or more) I called up to a house that had by brother-in-law, his dad, and his son (my nephew). They all had the same name "First Last". Knowing this I asked for "First Last" and knowing it was me (sick humor, I guess) they obviously replied "Which one". I believe it was my nephew I was looking for as he was living at my house at the time. When referring to them, we always called them by "First, the grandad"; "First, the dad"; "First the kid". This continues to this day, even though "First, the kid" turned 60 years old today. Sadly, "First, the grandad" passed away about 10+ years ago.

Me? Where I work, there is someone with the same name as me, and when outlook auto-fills in thing, I sometimes get emails. At one time there were 3 of my name, and my email was "first.3.last@company.com". Somethings never change.

Inclusive Naming Initiative limps towards release of dangerous digital dictionary


Professionally offended

Seems that another group of people who believe that others are offended by words. When a comedian refers to its own characteristics (take your pick), and an audience member says "that is offensive", the meaning kinda gets lost.

All in all people with too much time on their hands. (Reference workshop...)


Re: Too Anglocentric

Black people from the Caribbean?

Kamala Harris.

At least that's what I've been told. While she IS a native born American (qualification for the job!). She has Jamaican heritage.

BOFH: Cough up half a grand and we'll protect you from AI


Re: Its a cunning wheeze

50 cal? Don't you mean 12.7 cal.

Oh, sorry Brexit. Nevermind.

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


100 Year Lease...

I just hope the lease includes service. Might even be worth it to see the service droids come out and do "preventive maintenance"

Windows XP activation algorithm cracked, keygen now works on Linux


Re: DO NOT go on the Internet with XP


A reasonable experiment would be to build a machine with XP and yes, connect it to the internet. Then you time how long it takes for it to get taken over.

Of course I don't run XP anywhere, but it would still be a valid experiemt.

p.s. Do this on older piece of hardware, and salt the disk with lots of Loren Ipsum files.

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


Re: and the Bay City Rollers reforming

Being of a certain age (old), I thought this was a reference to the Bay City Bombers. Of course this is a completely different thing, but possibly one that an older BOFH might understand

Somehow my silver badge went away. I suppose that's life..

Cheapest, oldest, slowest part fixed very modern Mac


Computer wiring & busses...

If you want something that always worked, not much better than good old "bus" and "tag". Pretty standard in its day.

As for SCSI, had Compaq and Western Digitan gone that route back a long time ago, we wouldn't have various incantations of SATA/ATA/IDE to deal with and more than two drives easily connected a long time ago. Oh, well (*SIGH*).


Re: Its always the simple things

Toaster to 11?

Windows 11?

EU's Cyber Resilience Act contains a poison pill for open source developers


Re: Well

Emily Litella lives!

BOFH: Ah. Company-branded merch. So much better than a bonus


Re: When do people understand that cash rules?

Cash rules. Now for the company logo. It can be either on the company check, or on the nice pieces of paper with either the Queen's picture on it or deceased presidents, or other elder statesmen from the country in question. If you need to apply a logo (WTCLOI) a rubber stanp ought to function nicely. I'll take it in $100 bills please!

I don't think there are any notes with the newly anointed King on it (yet).

Techie fired for inventing an acronym – and accidentally applying it to the boss


Re: Supreme Head of Information Technology


EIEIO was a 68040 instruction.

Of course they also had a "Sign Extend" instruction as well.

A tip for content filter evaluators: erase the list of sites you tested, don't share them on 100 PCs


It happens all the time!

Two instances:

whitehouse.gov legit government site that relates to the occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave in Washington DC (I prefer not to mention the current occupant)

qhitehouse.com At one time an Adult site of "questionable repute" I'll let others find out if this is current

Recent activity:

Our company recently crammed down Zscalar filters down our throat (the company is actually around the corner from where I work). Initially is didn't like logging into iCloud. It became difficult to trip off "find my iphone" that I seem to use frequently for my wife (she calls me from home). It since has been resolved (thankfully).

Yes, many things are NSFW. Life goes on.

BOFH: Generating a report the Director can show the Board – THIS is what AI was made for


Re: Guess ....

Watch the movie 9 to 5 about what to put into coffee. The whole movie has a kinda BOFH theme, but different circumstances. Good result though!

BOFH: I know of a small biz that could deliver nothing for a fraction of the cost


Cow ointment? I've heard it is called "bag balm". From a senator from Wyoming to be exact.

To make this computer work, users had to press a button. Why didn't it work? Guess


User interfaces being bad

Unfortunately the complexity of user interfaces is dictated by sales droids. They need the bells and whistles to justify the new and improved, and vice versa. A microwave oven I had in the late 70's had three controls: a logarithmic (mechanical) timer that had a wide spread between 1 & 2 minutes, but about the same between 20 and 25, an "intensity" control (I usually kept it at 100%) and a "go" button. I have yet to see modern design that is any better, and I've seen lots worse. The same holds for user interfaces, you get "modern" ones that have so many controls you need a five yer old to understand them, probably ALL dictated by someone who wants to justify a price increase.

Remember when a radio had TWO controls. Just a tune control for the station, and a volume control. Not much has improved on it since!

'I wonder what this cable does': How to tell thicknet from a thickhead


Re: colour me sceptical

N connectors and BNCs. Well they may not be fully compatible but if you are in a pinch, you CAN connect a male N connector into a female BNC socket. It is a bit unstable, but it can work in a pinch. Of course don't try this when the N connector is an over 100 watt transmitter, and the BNC socket is a VERY sensitive receiver. I suspect that it might work in a networking sense, but it is fragile.

Know the difference between a bin and /bin unless you want a new doorstop


Re: Clean desk policy

A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind...

The perfect crime – undone by the perfect email backups


Traffic Citations??

Isn't that what speed cameras are for?? (*SIGH*)

BOFH: HR's gold mine gambit – they get the gold and we get the shaft


Re: Favourite CPU socket?

Sorry M6800's are the way to go!

Then there was the 64 pin M68000 (1 inch centers!).

BOFH: All hail the job cuts consultant


Are we sure that....

Gerard wasn't an AI invention of Simon's? Properly programmed to do the "dirty work" that really needed to be done (in a much more "clean" way)? Maybe all those shell companies and memes are just a figment of someones imagination.

We may never know, but if it were, Simon might end up running the company (it has happened, you know).

Beware the techie who takes things literally



I just remembered, the sequence is:

<Instant Stop><Reset><Insert>4900796<R/S>

Where <R/S> is the release-start key on the keyboard.



Well that goes back a FEW years!!

IPv6 is built to be better, but that's not the route to success




BOFH: On Wednesdays, we wear gloves


On drum printers and punch card equipment...

Yes, drum printers can make LOTS of noise. One I worked with had all the characters lined up, so a row of say '$' characters would generate a big THUMP as they were printed (the operating system did this for the trailer page). The capacitor bank for this behemoth as about 1/2 Farad at 35 volts or so, and I'll let someone calculate the energy stored (bazzert is too mild). Eventually we swapped it out for a chain printer, and the line changed to "zing.." which was a bit easier on the ears.

As for punch cards, the reader was blissfully silent compared to the punch. Sometimes one would attempt to punch out "lace cards" and the racket was terrible (if it didn't jam in the process). Thankfully we didn't punch too many cards, except for keypunches (they are loud as well).

Ahhh, my youth.

What came first? The chicken, the egg, or the bodge to make everything work?


Bootstrap from long ago...

I remember it as if it were yesterday:

3400032007013600032007024902402111963611300102 (then the R/S key).

Boy, am I getting old! I was also lazy as I didn't want to feed a card into the hopper.