* Posts by James Anderson

1163 publicly visible posts • joined 5 Apr 2007


Cory Doctorow has a plan to wipe away the enshittification of tech

James Anderson

Re: Bog Zech?????

Call me cynical but the management of the truly horrible UK railway network don't like running trains. What interests them is the thousands of square miles of property that could be sold of if they did not have to carry ungrateful passengers in ancient rolling stock. How much would Kings Cross sell for as a development site?

James Anderson

Re: Deliberation

Whatever search term you entered the first thing that came up was a site which offered kalashnikov rifles at knock down prices, followed by a dating site specialising in eastern European or Viet namese ladies.

I remember trying to get hold of the docs for the Unix screen handling software ncurses ..... That really did come up with some interesting results.

So yes it was pretty crap. It was wiped out by the hotbot search engine which was pretty good but in turn got wiped out by Google.

Oracle quietly extends Solaris 11.4 support until 2037

James Anderson

Re: large mainframe-class business system

You obviously have never seen a real mainframe setup. 200 online transactions per second is quite normal when I last worked on one twenty years ago peaking at 350. I am pretty sure a modern Z series can at least double that. Plus at least 4 machines spread over two sites for 99.999 % availability ( the o.oo1% was unavoidable application upgrades ).

There are just some problems you cannot solve by running lots of processes in parallel so you really need a powerful single instance. As of 2022 commodity intel chips can finally compete with OS/360 hardware in this space.

Having said that the Solaris HA setups were equally impressive most of the ones I worked on outlived the companies they were built for.

We put salt in our tea so you don't have to

James Anderson

The extra taxes were to cover the costs of twenty years spent defending them from the French and their Native American allies. As the French had been thrown out of Northern America and confined to some swamps in the South the ungrateful colonials refused to foot the bill.

James Anderson

And don’t forget the cute throw away clay cups. Not sure if Greta would approve but better than paper cups.

For a moment there, Lotus Notes appeared to do everything a company needed

James Anderson

Re: The problem with Notes

Very few users have "reading emails" high up in Thier job description. So some arrogant IT bod thinks they should waste half a day on leaning the weird UI is not going to be popular or appreciated.

And the UI was weird single click over double click, mouse over menus etc. etc.

James Anderson

Re: The problem with Notes

The UI is absolutely relevant. For a techie working day in day out with a weird UI ( I love vim ! ) it does not matter, but, for a user who accesses e-mail once or twice a day and hundreds of word documents for and web pages for the rest of the work day it really does.

I know quite a few IBMers who preffered the awfull 3270 based e-mail system that notes replaced -- it was that bad.

James Anderson

Re: The problem with Notes

But the heart of the problem was the e-mail client and the not that bad really but totally different from any other UI.

Most companies installed it to run email, yes it could do loads of other stuff, but email was what it was sold as.

Then when the dev team stuck thier handed over Thier ears and shouted "NA NA Na it's s database" whenever the issue of the hated email client and weird UI was raised. It's not that they failed to convince Thier user base, it's that they willfully ignored them.

The Post Office systems scandal demands a critical response

James Anderson

Lack of expertise in inquiry team.

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that nobody in the inquiry team seems to have any IT experience.

I say this because were I advising the inquiry I would be tabling some obvious questions.

What were your testing procedures?

Can we see the results of your system test?

What were your bug tracking procedures?

Which bug tracking software did you use?

Can we have the logs from the bug tracking system?

The answers to the last two questions (or failure to answer ) should provide the “smoking gun”.

Fujitsu will not bid for UK.gov business until Post Office inquiry closes

James Anderson

Precisely! When you have been trapped into a system that has been cobbled together by a money grubbing outsourcing company over a period of twenty years you have no choice but to renew the contract. No one else understands or wants the to look after these neglected systems.

UK public sector could save £20B by swerving mega-projects and more, claims chief auditor

James Anderson

Re: Time to insource

I would dispute the “Private sector is more efficient” claim.

My personal experience of over budget, reduced scope, or cancelled programs is quite extensive.

The private sector has the luxury of redefining “success”. In extreme cases cancelled projects are presented as “We have successfully reduced the IT budget via an aggressive cost cutting program”.

Big projects mostly fail, it’s just a fact of life.

Incidentally government IT has had quite a few successful projects. The DVLC is still running a forty year old system with no need for replacement. NORAD in the 1950s not only kept the west safe from Soviet nuclear attack it pushed the boundries of what was possible with hardware and software.

How governments become addicted to suppliers like Fujitsu

James Anderson

It's not corruption, it's ideology

The problem is a government, a political cast, a generation of managers who believe privatisation in general and outsourcing in particular is a good thing.

As fir privatisation that went well sewage in the rivers, monumental electricity bills and buying all your gas from Putin.

Outsourcing having Benn on both sides of the deal Nealy always ends in a long drawn out expensive mess.

The whole country needs re-education to try and forget this failed ideology.

UK PM promises faster justice for Post Office Horizon victims

James Anderson

Re: What actually went wrong?

From what I can glean the actual bug seems to have occurred when there were two or more terminals connected to the box. It seems the system got confused and entered duplicated transactions as if they had been entered on both.

James Anderson

Off Topic

Exactly how did the at very least incompetent Vennels get a job on the board of Imperial College NHS trust?

The NHS is by far the biggest spender of tax payers money but the management and particular how its “trustees” are appointed is completely opaque.

And it is astonishingly badly managed. The whole thing is held together by the dedication of its exploited and under payed

Fujitsu wins flood contract extension despite starring in TV drama about its failures

James Anderson

Failure of mainstream media.

While el reg,computer weekly and (god bless them) private eye all plugged away at exposing the vicious lies, false accusations and cover ups by the Post Office and Fujitsu the mainstream media was silent.

Only when convictions were overturned some 10 years later was there any coverage in the national newspapers or TV news.

Perhaps someone could call out the smug presenters on ITV's good moaning britain, they seem to monitor. Thier X feed.

So if any of you still have an X account give it a go.

Windows boss takes on taskbar turmoil, pledges to 'make Start menu great again'

James Anderson

Re: Do what you like but give options

It's years since I even had to look for a device driver to get a printer, scanner, sound card etc. working on Ubuntu or mint. Most device drivers are just there.

Compered with the special hell of installing an HP device on windows Linux is s doddle.

CompSci academic thought tech support was useless – until he needed it

James Anderson

Re: CS students are interesting

From long years of working in the field I would rate how Thier degree subject correlated to there ability to work on systems in the real world ( well standard business IT setups ).

So .. top came biology graduates, always looking for practical solutions and never phased by wierd requirements.

Next history graduates. They just got on with it so they could get work out of the way and get to the pub quiz team on time.

Next ... No degree. Came to IT through other departments. Usually super clever and innovatine but with an annoying tendancy to reinvent wheels.

Next English graduates. Varying degrees of competence but at least the documentation was readable.

Finally comp sci graduates. They always thought working on normal IT systems were beneath them and spent endless hours trying to push the latest bleeding edge fad as a solution to mundane problems. And for all there theoretical grounding in stacks heaps and queues they never seemed to know when it was thier round.

The UK government? On the right track with its semiconductor strategy?

James Anderson

But much of Eire's success is a combination of low corporate and high personal taxes.

In effect they made s deal with the electorate 40 years ago. --- we will get you jobs but you will pay a s***t load of taxes.

Never going to happen on a country that thinks Liz Truss is leadership material.

Microsoft's 11-year itch: The uncelebrated anniversary of Windows 8

James Anderson

Re: Ten years on, we’re still picking up the pieces

Irrelevant car analogy......

It's was as if Honda decided it should have s consistent user interface for all its product lines .... Cars, Motorcycles, outboard motors and lawn mowers.

Then decided to settle on a twist grip and rudder control for everything.

Ex-ASML worker accused of stealing chipmaking secrets for China is Huawei to a new job

James Anderson

What goes around .....

I don't think the Chinese have ever forgotten the commercial espionage which broke their tea and silk monopolies.

Millions of smart meters will brick it when 2G and 3G turns off

James Anderson

Re: Easy to work out costs.

“Council tax” in Spain is based on the value of the property and charged to the property owner or tenant.

So this does sound like an urban legend.

There is no per person tax charged by local government. They do receive a per person sum from central government based on the number of registered residents so they have a vested interest in getting people to register as residents ( the pardon ).

James Anderson

Easy to work out costs.

Look at the label on the device. It will tell you how many kilowatts the device consumed. Multiply by the number of hours you use it and your rate per kilowatt hour and voila you know how much it will cost you.

The only real benefit of smart meters is the leccy company can resource action Thier meter readers.

In Spain smart meters are universal and at no extra charge to the customer (some cents per month rental).

The UK really is on its way to being a third world country.

City council Oracle megaproject got a code red – and they went live anyway

James Anderson

Re: Theory of the firm, bear with me

Not sure why the downvote.

The original post was just a jargon filled complicated way of saying firms need to make a profit.

You don’t need to pick obscure wards out of a text book to say this.

James Anderson

Re: SAP Upgrade

A UK council could not possibly, practically or legally “fit to standard”.

James Anderson

Re: Theory of the firm, bear with me

Er companies have to spend less on their product than the selling price ….. who knew.?

James Anderson

Re: At this point in time…

Most of these ERP “out of the box”, “implement best practices” perhaps work out of the box and implement best practices for a medium sized mid-western manufacturer. But for every body else it involves tons of customisation.

In effect you are writing a bespoke system in a really crap programming language.

James Anderson

Because there is no easy migration path from one SAP release to the next. So its often wisest to delay upgrades as long as possible. The trouble is when your current system is about to go out of support you are three or four releases behind.

In many cases all the essential customisation has to be redone from scratch.

Upwards compatibility? "Bitte überweisen Sie die erhöhte Lizenzgebühr auf dasselbe Konto".

While I applaud the decision to escape the SAP forced upgrade nightmare, it was a case of out of the frying pan into the fire.

Musk in hot water with SEC for failure to comply with subpoena

James Anderson

Re: Musk had failed to adequately disclose Twitter stock purchase?

The point is not that the SEC would know ( may well not have depending on holding company structures etc.) but that people trading in twitter and similar shares should be informed when someone buys a large chunk of stock in advance of a takeover, and what the investors intentions are.

Largest local government body in Europe goes under amid Oracle disaster

James Anderson

Re: Easy win but challenging keep.

"Existing work practices" are mostly legal requirements. You just cannot skip them.

James Anderson

Re: Great job!

Thats how it goes in UK local government, all the responsibility none of the power.

Every year Westminster foists a whole load of new obligations on them and then cuts the budget.

If they try to make up the shortfall by increasing local taxes ( rates ) the voters complain and businesses leave for the greener pastures outside town and the high streets die.

James Anderson

Re: Easy win but challenging keep.

I have said this before -- but here we go again.

Local Government accounting is not the same as normal company accounting.

All spending must be traceable to a "vote in chambers" and to the individual members who voted for it.

On top of this many of the employees have legal powers, obligations and liabilities. Some can take away your children, order your house to be demolished, shutdown your business etc. etc.

So HR in local government is vastly different from any other organisation.

So Oracle foisted on them a bog standard ERP system designed for a company that bought stuff, manufactured other stuff and sold it.

Its also possible that many of the other screw ups could have been avoided if they had a working accounting and HR system.

The world seems so loopy. But at least someone's written a memory-safe sudo in Rust

James Anderson

Re: Perhaps /etc/sudoers more of a problem than perhaps C memory safety

You cannot write a device driver, a task schedular, or a memory manager in go, C# or Java. So they are not usable for low level operating system components. You are stuck with C, assembly code or Rust. You can just about use C++ if you ignore most of the language features.

UK air traffic woes caused by 'invalid flight plan data'

James Anderson

Re: Expertise

Its sounds like the poisoned message problem. You design a system so that no data is lost during the switchover.

A message with invalid data crashes the primary system, the backup system starts up from where the main system left of and starts by processing the poisoned message............

UK flights disrupted by 'technical issue' with air traffic computer system

James Anderson

Re: Third world.

The problem really is the the adherence to an economic theory that bllieves low taxes and and an unregulated economy will free “entrepreneurs ” but really it frees shysters to take the money and run.

James Anderson

Re: Third world.

The problem is the country still believes in Milton Friedmans failed economic theory. As implemented by Thatcher and her successors it has made a bunch of public school boys rich and impoverished the rest of us.

Please can someone pass them another book; J. K. Galbraith and J.M. Keynes had theory’s that delivered.

Wordpress sells 100-year domain, hosting plan for $38K

James Anderson

Off Topic

But will the Reg be alive that long. Loss of senses of humour and loss relevance and hardened artery’s suggest death by lethargy.

On a day when the UKs air traffic control borked the Reg has nothing to say. It used to be the specialist subject.

I know I will get the “ when we know all the facts we will report “ response. But they never deliver,

US Republican party's spam filter lawsuit against Google dimissed

James Anderson

Re: This ain't rocket science.

Unfortunately that really would be censorship. So we will just continue to let them air their stupidity in public

James Anderson

Re: This ain't rocket science.

Most likely explanation is that the RNC sends out more begging letters at the end of the month. After all it's when most people get paid.

The RNC is getting desperate as it can no longer hold on to government. Even the rigged system which allowed them to win elections even though more people voted for the other side no longer works.

Thier core support is getting old and dying off. There message of racism and low taxes for the rich is not attracting new blood.

Europe's tough new rules for Big Tech start today. Is anyone ready?

James Anderson

Re: Scary, are we blind to this?

Lies about vaccines generated as part of a money making scam have led to suffering child blindness and death. For all their incompetence and blundering at the onset a an unprecedented pandemic most governments were transparent about their decision making and the data it was based on. I don’t recall a single example of censorship.

James Anderson

Re: Scary, are we blind to this?

The company formally known as Twitter does not need to comply as it will be bankrupt before the EU can collect it's fine.

James Anderson

Re: Scary, are we blind to this?

Lies and false beliefs are not "truths" and never will be. The earth is not flat. Vaccines do not contain micro chips from Bill Gates. Trump did not win an election in 2022.

No matter how strongly anyone believes the above it does not mele it true.

There is such a thing as objetive truth based on solid evidence. And there is such a thing as lies propogated by con men and shysters and far too many sad acts prepared to believe them.

Lies harm everybody in some small way and harm some in big ways.

SUSE to flip back into private ownership after just two-and-a-bit years

James Anderson

Re: "merging it with an unlisted Luxembourg entity"

Er.... it's a Swedish private equity fund doing the puchase.

The "merger" is probably just a device to ease the delisting process. Changing a company to private ownership can be quite complex, it's much simpler to pretend it was taken over by another company.

Best case scenario is that the plan to face off Red Hat would be considered too risky for a listed company which has a duty to not engage in strategies the could bust the company.

Bad software destroyed my doctor's memory

James Anderson

Well take the history of ISO8583.

It started off as a protocol for ATMs. The main design goal was to minimise the amount of data transmitted over very slow networks. Which was spectacularly successful but resulted in the hardest to parse message format you will ever come across.

However over the years the standard evolved to encompass credit card transactions, point of sale, web based commerce, chip and pin, NFT, phone purchases. Most of the worlds retail transactions involve messages using this format.

The point is having a good standards body with the all the right actors involved and a flexible approach makes this stuff work. Even something as godawfull as ISO8583 is still in use 35 years on and is spectacularly successful.

James Anderson

Said it before but I will say it again.

What the NHS and medical profession needs is a well designed set of messages and protocols to enable systems to exchange information.

This would allow specialist applications or even ordinary applications like appointments to be developed independently and replaced or upgraded independently.

The financial services industries have used this model for decades with great success, think SWIFT, chaps, SEPA, ISO8583, etc. etc.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Pi? Asus's 'NUC-sized' SBC aims to out-Pi the Raspberry

James Anderson

I generally consideder myself good at this stuff, b

B U T. Yo to is a nightmare. Avoid,

Official science: People do less, make more mistakes on Friday afternoons

James Anderson

Re: dies poetae

Small fone BIG fingers.

James Anderson

Re: dies poetae

As the study was based in Texas I doubt the Friday afternoon result was due to lunchtime pub sessions ( regular almost compulsory event in 2970s London).

I think the afternoon flagging is due to the excessive hours gullible mercans get conned into.

You can only expect about 4 hours of high quality work from a techie per day long term. Conning them into 10 hour days only makes more work for the bug reporting software.

Up to 40% of all Arm servers are deployed in China

James Anderson

Pure Economics

According to Wikipedia:--

"Graviton offers 70% lower power consumption [12] and 20% lower price"

So cuts the leccy bill by 2/3s. Win for AWS win for the Penguins and a win for the planet as a whole.

£214m effort to modernize SAP ERP in UK govt systems marked Code Red

James Anderson

Slow growth, falling living standards, most expensive energy costs, decrepit railways, sewage pouring into rivers ………..

On the record: Apple bags patent for iDevice to play LPs

James Anderson

Classic "war chest" defense.

This is a strategy used by many large corporations.

Patent anything you can then if another corporation sues you for patent violations you can launch a dozen counter suits.

Nobody wins but the size of the legal expenses involved deters anyone form launching trivial challenges.