* Posts by Jonathan Knight

34 publicly visible posts • joined 11 Jan 2008

Switch to hit the fan as BT begins prep ahead of analog phone sunset

Jonathan Knight

Re: I am on digital voice

Yep me too. Vodafone offered a discount if I jumped early so over I went.

I did a bit of hacking on the socket and wired the analogue line from the router back into the phone socket so I have all my extensions working as well.

NASA mistakenly severs communication to Voyager 2

Jonathan Knight

Re: Off topic

In 1983 I was programming my A-Level computer science project on a 110 baud (bit/s) ASR 33 teletype shared with with all the other A and O level students.

160 bit/s sounds pretty impressive to me.

Kinder, gentler Oracle says it's changed, and now wants you to succeed

Jonathan Knight

Really? Many are still smarting from the shift from Java SE licenses changing from a "per installation" cost to a "total number of employees" cost that got implemented in January.

Need a video editor, FOSS fans? OpenShot and Kdenlive both refreshed

Jonathan Knight

Re: 64 bit? Madness

I'm 57 and when I was a lad it was all 36 bit.

DECsystem-10, KL10 processor, BASIC version 17H(143)-1

The wild world of non-C operating systems

Jonathan Knight


I started my computing career on a DEC-10 which was all written in Macro-10 assembler and that had shared libraries within an application (HIGH SEG). Then it was a mixture of CPM on a RML380Z, whatever the PET ran, BBC Basic and a very early Microsoft Basic on a Challenger II

I used RSTS/E back in the early 80's and most of the core tools were written in DEC Basic-Plus with the low level kernel in Macro-11 assembler. It also had shared libraries.

Then OS4000 all written in Babbage for the start of my University degree where I finally met the first Unix and so the first OS written in C, some 10 years after I started using computers.

I guess the C centric OS view really only works for the youngsters.

You should read Section 8 of the Unix User's Manual

Jonathan Knight

Re: % in email addresses?

I was a big user of Jim Crammond's UK-Sendmail package until I wrote my own sendmail config from scratch as I was a know-it-all postgrad.

For those who remember the days of bang paths, rapid re-routers, EAN, EARN, BITNET and the UKs NRS hell where the Computer Science email would all get redirected to Czechoslovakia, here's Jim's take on it


Trojan Source attack: Code that says one thing to humans tells your compiler something very different, warn academics

Jonathan Knight

Yep - that was my first thought on reading this.


Ken realised the problem 38 years ago.

'Millions' of Dell PCs will grant malware, rogue users admin-level access if asked nicely

Jonathan Knight

Re: For the love of...

That used to be the case, but it is changing for those of us migrating to cloud services. The additional cost of using Windows in the cloud makes Linux look more appealing to the budget holders, and with Microsoft providing better Azure tools on the desktop for linux the need to use Windows desktop is diminishing.

The Azure training I was on last year (yeah - i got to go on a 2020 conference!) recommended the linux "az" tool over the powershell equivalent if we could use it.

These malware scares only help the argument, but the security team are having to learn new skills when it comes to dealing with linux boxes.

CentOS project changes focus, no more rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux – you'll have to flow with the Stream

Jonathan Knight

Re: Forking Time

Oracle offer a free RHEL respin and a simple tool to covert your CentOS into Oracle Linux


It's free. The support contract costs, but the software doesn't.

Pentagon's $10bn JEDI decision 'risky for the country and democracy,' says AWS CEO Jassy

Jonathan Knight

Re: AWS vs Microsoft

Me too.

AWS seemed a seamless single solution and Azure seems to drop into a range of interfaces depending on when that bit got written. The Azure training does emphasise that the primary interface to Azure is powershell and any web interface will lag behind and be less complete so it's not entirely unexpected. AWS seems to have a much more complete web experience for the administrator

I much prefer the AWS approach of creating VMs secure and then opening them up to the internet rather than the Azure method of creating them on the internet and then closing them down.


Remember the 1980s? Oversized shoulder pads, Metal Mickey and... sticky keyboards?

Jonathan Knight

I once had to make a call to Sun Microsystems to report a keyboard that had stopped working on one of our maintained workstations.

The Rep asked what had happened and I reported that one of our researchers had spilt orange juice into the keyboard.

His reply was: "Was that third party orange juice sir?"

I admitted that it was but we were still covered on the support contract so a new keyboard was dispatched.

Not so easy to make a quick getaway when it takes 3 hours to juice up your motor, eh Brits?

Jonathan Knight

Double 3,000 is 5,000?

"The UK Treasury is making £70m available to fund an additional 3,000 rapid charging points for electric vehicles, doubling the UK total to 5,000."

Surely if you put 3,000 more charging points in place and that doubles capacity then we'd have 6,000 charging points.

Frenzied bidding war for hot property KCOM as share price rockets by tuppence and a half

Jonathan Knight

KCOM is a bit wider than just the Hull telephone system. They also manage a number of corporate networks including the North Midlands Hospital Trust


Not very bright: Apple geniuses spend two weeks, $10,000 of repairs on a MacBook Pro fault caused by one dumb bug

Jonathan Knight

You'd think that wouldn't you.

I run a PC in a church with three displays and a clever bit of presentation software. One screen is for the application control. One screen is for the display for the congregation and one screen for those at the front.

Every time windows does a patch it will jumble the order of the screens and we spend the first 20 minutes every month running around shouting where the mouse pointer is so that we can get the displays re-ordered back to what they should be.

We managed three Sundays in succession this month where the screens worked every time without getting re-ordered. This is unheard of.

Could you just pop into the network room and check- hello? The Away Team. They're... gone

Jonathan Knight

Re: At home

Actually BT had very rigorous rules for equipment connected to phone lines to ensure that any electrical fault on the customer side did not put dangerous voltages on the phone line as a protection for their engineers. Happily that works both ways

Giga-hurts radio: Terrorists build Wi-Fi bombs to dodge cops' cellphone jammers

Jonathan Knight

IoT devices have long ranges

IoT devices using lorawan will work over long ranges so it's quite possible to use that technology.


Biker sues Google Fiber: I broke my leg, borked my ankle in trench dug to lay ad giant's pipe

Jonathan Knight

You can see the street here:


There are street lights, but far apart and possible not working. There's also no sign of any repairs to the tarmac and the street view is dated October 2016 so I think the ditch was off the road somewhere.

Apache OpenOffice, the Schrodinger's app: No one knows if it's dead or alive, no one really wants to look inside

Jonathan Knight

The German code comments reflect the origins of OpenOffice.

I will admit to paying for a site license for StarOffice by Star Division for Keele University back in the 20th Century for our Solaris boxes.

Sun Microsystems then bought the company and then open sourced the code having fist sanitised the comments. The story at the time was that there were some fairly "direct" comments about how users may interact with the software in the comments and Sun hired some German speakers to find and remove them before the code went public.

East Midlands network-sniffer wails: Openreach, fix my outage-ridden line

Jonathan Knight

I've had good service from OpenReach

Perhaps it's unusual but I had good service from OpenReach. I had an intermittent fault on my line which caused the ADSL carrier to drop and forced the modem to re-sync. I logged the fault with my ISP who did the line checks and said everything was fine. But they were happy to book an engineer if I was prepared to pay the cost if there was no fault.

I logged ping calls to my ISPs gateway using the BT test socket every 10 seconds for several hours to make sure I had the evidence and booked the engineer. The engineer duly arrived and put the diagnostic tool on the line which reported no fault. I showed him my log and he was happy to stay and watch it for a while based on the evidence I had collected. Sure enough the carrier dropped and re-sync'd but the diagnostic box didn't react at all. It kept reporting no fault but we'd both seen the carrier drop and re-sync.

He looked at me and said "I've never seen that before" and then spent the rest of the day tracking and replacing every joint in my copper cable back to the exchange. He then changed over the copper pair I was using on the main cables finding the best quality pair that wasn't in use. After many hours of work he discovered a bit of the exchange equipment had a fault and needed replacing which happened after 2 days and everything has been fine since.

When I was stood on the school playground picking up my daughter a few days later I was chatting to the parents who all said they'd noticed the broadband had stopped dropping out on them all the time. They hadn't called it in because they weren't confident that the fault wasn't their problem and the £180 charge for an engineer callout made them live with the unreliability.

Amazon: Intel Meltdown patch will slow down your AWS EC2 server

Jonathan Knight

Re: True - But

I've just optimised a vendor supplied ETL process from 3.5 hours to 26 seconds by moving away from a whole world of pain using SQL Server and a .NET application to Perl with a large in memory hash.

I couldn't have done it without the vendor supplied solution as they knew the internals of their product and all I had to do was write a process that generated identical output. The vendor solution had lots of test points and data visualisation tools to help develop the process which was invaluable in building the solution but are now just performance problems now we've moved into production.


The Google Home Mini: Great, right up until you want to smash it in fury

Jonathan Knight

Re: So, plays tunes you own, alarm clocks stuff you set and listens to everything you say 24/7

According to a presentation from Amazon I attended, the Echo does process the trigger word locally using a cyclic 20 second buffer and then passes the remaining sentence to the cloud to process.

Vibrating walls shafted servers at a time the SUN couldn't shine

Jonathan Knight

Re: Wind!!!

We had problems with the Air Ambulance which landed through our line of sight microwave link. Seemed churlish to complain.

Manchester college swaps out disk for rackful of hybrid flash

Jonathan Knight

They've skipped a bit in the logical argument. The Tegile array uses compression and deduping so they've traded off some of the extra speed in using a compression layer so they get the extra space.

Dell plotting something touchy-feely on 'Canvas'

Jonathan Knight

Canvas is the name of a very popular VLE (or LMS if you're North American) so that's going to cause some confusion.


AWS's S3 outage was so bad Amazon couldn't get into its own dashboard to warn the world

Jonathan Knight

Re: "The question is why do people want Internet-connected lightbulbs."

What about this wheel thing?

KCL external review blames whole IT team for mega-outage, leaves managers unshamed

Jonathan Knight

So if I read this report correctly

HP engineers were sent to fix a failed piece of hardware several weeks after a firmware upgrade had been released to address a problem that would cause catastrophic failure of the system if a piece of hardware was replaced.

Presumably HP should have had a procedure in place to upgrade the firmware before carrying out any operations that may lose the customers data.

However, this report does not question the actions of the HP engineers and puts he entire blame for failure to install the correct firmware on the IT team.

I'm of the opinion that the HP engineers are the cause of the failure and have failed to carry out due diligence before carrying out the procedure to replace the hardware.

Bad news: Exim hole was going to be patched on Xmas Day. Good news: Keyword 'was'

Jonathan Knight

Re: Sysadmins, or....

I think this has to be one of the dumbest things I've ever seen and it's making me seriously doubt the wisdom of using Exim anymore.

Releasing security updates when most sysadmins, network admins, change control board and service desk staff are on holiday just opens the door for hackers to exploit the bug for a week before anyone can do anything about it. It may be an open source project, but the software is run by professional institutions who have change management processes and testing processes in place that they have to go through before deploying a new version. It isn't a case of SSH in, compile up the new version with all the bells and whistles and stick it in place. There are plugins and boundary cases that'll need testing against the new version so unless we want to give up Christmas Day and Boxing Day we have to just live with the fact that Exim may get hacked or turn off the mail system.

Microsoft release their patches on a Tuesday which shows they've thought about this and realised when would be the best time to release a patch so that the sys admins have the best opportunity to test and deploy in the shortest timeframe. Only when they see live exploits of a bug do they rush out a patch.

Unfortunately Exim now seems to be aimed at the hobbyist mail administrator who is available on Christmas Day and not at the large institution who would struggle to get enough of the IT team to work Christmas Day to roll out an upgrade.

Oracle finally targets Java non-payers – six years after plucking Sun

Jonathan Knight

Re: @James & Shell User

Solaris was built on System V which itself traces its heritage back through to the 1960s. Solaris brought proper shared memory, multiprocessor support, dynamic libraries, some cool thread jumping processors and X windows to mainstream workstation computing. Because they were open and friendly, they were the hackers platform of choice through the 80s and early 90s. We liked Alpha, but Solaris was where you went to build ideas.

Google's Chromecast Audio busted BT home routers – now it has a fix

Jonathan Knight

Not just Chromecast

My Humax FVP-4000T will cause the BT router to reset constantly if connected via the ethernet port. It works fine on WiFi.

I think the BT router has some issues.

Microsoft SQL Server for Linux is a brilliant and logical idea

Jonathan Knight

Re: Why

Because Linux is a more stable and more feature rich environment for sys admins to work in. Many small scale apps (and some big ones too) run on MS SQL server so being able to put that in docker on a linux guest is very tempting compared to running up another windows server box.

As MS have just offered MS SQL 2016 for free if you migrate from Oracle then there's a significant short term cost benefit as well.

If MS can win over some linux sys admins to viewing MS SQL server as a well behaved and low impact solution then that may lead to a long term market share gain.

This is why copy'n'paste should be banned from developers' IDEs

Jonathan Knight

A zero byte executable file will (by default) be run by the shell, which returns 0 (true). Old versions of unix (version 7 et al) would have /bin/true as a zero byte executable file.

German ATM displays bank’s network config data to infosec bod

Jonathan Knight

Has the Euro been replaced?

I notice that this German ATM machine appears to be handing out $100 bills. Has the Euro crashed completely while I've been at work?

Jobs' 'incredibly stupid' prattlings prove ebook price-fix plot, claim Feds

Jonathan Knight
Thumb Down

Talking of e-book prices...

...I'm always a bit irritated when I get charged VAT for an e-book and not for the dead tree version. A quick look on the governments petition site reveals someone else has already had the same idea


Beeb's iPlayer reaps streaming traffic dividends

Jonathan Knight

Re: But still the BBC don't listen

"Because Adobe do not and will not provide a 64bit flash plugin for linux."

I'm on a 64 bit Linux system and have adobe flash working fine. The trick is to run a 32 bit version of firefox, in fact I've removed the 64 bit version so I can run flash, java, mplayer (for quicktime and wmv) and all the other 32 bit plugins.

There is also a tool to allow 32 bit plugins to run under a 64bit firefox but I can't see the point at the moment. I'm not sure why I would need a 64 bit web browser.

Flash movies are an excellent way for the BBC to stream content as it does run on most platforms.