* Posts by OzBob

490 posts • joined 6 Mar 2008

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A paper clip, a spool of phone wire and a recalcitrant RS-232 line: Going MacGyver in the wonderful world of hotel IT

OzBob

Re: I remember things differently ...

you do know why the Brits don't make computers anymore? because they couldn't figure out how to make them leak oil.

NASA dons red and blue cardboard 3D glasses to drive Curiosity rover because its GPUs are stuck in the office

OzBob

Cost? Not likely,

my alienware 3d monitor cost me 400 quid, and the nvidia glasses another 150, and 150 for the card. PC was less than the monitor.

The kit to run 3d itself is pretty cheap (and mine is 10 years old). If it's a renderer that is needed, that may chew some CPU. But kit like this is such a specialised item that no-one probably thought "hey what would happen if we had to do this from home" and designed it accordingly (plus as Gary McKinnon discovered, allowing remote access also means you have to change default settings).

Rewriting the checklists: 50 years since Apollo 13 reported it 'had a problem' – and boffins saved the day

OzBob

From a time when small furry creatures from alpha centauri

were REAL small furry creatures from alpha centauri!

Apollo 13 is a great metaphor to throw at short-sighted managers who want cut-and-dried solutions to basic problems and employ script-droids as admins.

16 years and counting: How ESA squeezed oodles of bonus science out of plucky Mars Express probe

OzBob

So, when is Ron Howard shooting the movie of this upprade?

Seriously, if they can explain out the GFC in "The Big Short" then this upgrade and correct would make a great movie plot.

Lost in translation and adrift in cloud storage

OzBob

And there coimes a point in IT

where you must learn to distrust the automated function and perform it manually and in a phased approach. This was one of those times.

Tech won't save you from lockdown disaster: How to manage family and free time while working from home

OzBob

No advice on "solo happy time"?

How can I squeeze out one of those with other people in the house now who are also WFH?

What's inside a tech freelancer's backpack? That's right, EVERYTHING

OzBob

Dabbs, you are missing an opportunity here

sell the requisite kit to them at 5x retail, (paypal or cash) and simply restock on the way back home.

Escape From Tarkov: Hardest of the hardcore looter-shooter is spellbinding despite the punishing learning curve

OzBob

Meh, will stick with "Onward"

which doesn't have the looting but with VR you can be shot by someone who is a "pale black dot" on the distance.

'That's here. That's home. That's us': It's 30 years since Voyager 1 looked back and squinted at a 'Pale Blue Dot'

OzBob

I remember Dr Porco from the BBC Series "The Planets"

which was released over 20 years ago now, Very good documentary, mixing classical music from "the planet suite" and interviewing various astronomers. Also very noteworthy for talking to Soviet Scientists about their efforts, first time I had seen that too.

Maker of Linux patch batch grsecurity can't duck $260,000 legal bills, says Cali appeals court in anti-SLAPP case

OzBob

Whats all this law shit?

I just came here to write code.

Like other tech giants, Netflix gets govt takedown demands – and impressively, none of them involve Adam Sandler

OzBob

The Bridge documentary is an awesome piece of film

I still have my DVD copy (and have ripped it for backup just in case). Given that local celebrity Mike King goes up and down the country talking to schoolkids about suicide and why not to do it, it seems incongruous that they would block the viewing of it. But then again, NZ is full of Mary Whitehouse like busybodies who think us proles are not equipped to manage our own thoughts and emotions and they know best (Peter Ellis, anyone?)

Need 32-bit Linux to run past 2038? When version 5.6 of the kernel pops, you're in for a treat

OzBob

Huh alright for some

I mentioned last year that I did not make y21K compliance code and the down-voters went ape-sh!t. Was it the lack of a smiley face that did it for me?

Top Euro court advised: Cops, spies yelling 'national security' isn’t enough to force ISPs to hand over massive piles of people's private data

OzBob

"hovering up of data"

Carol Voderman, can I have another vowel please?

We live so fast I can't even finish this sent...

OzBob

Re: Bonzo

"obviously some time before he killed himself"

So, for a second there I though you were dis-interring celebrities and inviting them around for dinner? Perhaps your father owns a back-hoe company, and your mothers maiden name is Gein?

OK, so no-one told the amateur pornstars that dvds can be ripped

OzBob

OK, so no-one told the amateur pornstars that dvds can be ripped

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-50982051

Apparently women were told that the dvds they were performing for would never be released online, yet for some reason had never had a friend who showed them a "ripped"movie. And have never heard of the "Streisand Effect" either.

Senior health tech pros warn NHS England: Be transparent with mass database trawl or face public backlash

OzBob

OK here's an analytical observation that could be considered "low-hanging fruit"

if you are fat or drunk, you will cost the NHS more than if you are not. So tax those pricks that are and save the rest of us some money.

Wham, bam, thank you scram button: Now we have to go all MacGyver on the server room

OzBob

Yep, had a very dodgy HP tape array in the noughties

that was only about 8 u high (and was double-stacked). The door release mech never worked properly when pressing the LCD display, so we just used to stick a half-unfolded paper clip into the appropriate hole and release the damn thing manually. Actually taped it to the front on a piece of string so we did not need to recreate it if we lost the old one.

GlaxoSmithKline ditches IR35 contractors: Go PAYE or go home

OzBob

I am an IT contractor to a government department

and the reason I am there is several-fold,

1. The department has a really bad rep (even compared to other government departments) for HR, career development and managerial competence (or lack thereof).

2. They can't recruit a permie with a similar skillset to replace me because they pay cr4p

3. The permie they did hire to replace me was such a loose cannon they had to "manage him out" (which is seriously impressive given the loons that stll work there).

4. They announced a reorg 3 years ago and have yet to complete it, so have been on a hiring freeze.

5. I have advanced certifications and skillsets in Linux that the perm staff do not have

'Sophisticated' cyber attack on UK Labour Party platforms was probably just a DDoS, says official

OzBob

Developing story?

"Leaders of organisations are incredibly thick when it comes to IT; political leaders, doubly so." What else could possibly develop on that story?

When the IT department speaks, users listen. Or face the consequences

OzBob

Er, happened to me last month

when my fellow techs reformatted my "thick client" and assured me "my documents" was backed up to the network share. Sure it was, but they must have selected the "resync from scratch" option on the build because it wiped everything I had. And we did not have backups. Now I have a separate Drive Mapping I use for storing documents (plus a wiki I have created for all my documentation). This would never happen on my linux systems.

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

OzBob

Re: My scripts are not Y2.1K compliant

I see from the quality of comments that we have a lot of pretentious and humourless knobs populating the forums. So, stop chewing the crayons and pay attention for a sec,...

All computer programs operate on assumptions or constraints, otherwise they would be over-engineered to the n-th degree and never be fully completed. One of my assumptions in this case is that there will be replacement for my scripts in the next 81 years, give the short lifetime of platforms and solutions. Now if I only made my function work for ten or twenty years (grep "^20[12]" ) then it would be reasonable to lambast my quality of work, but 80 years what I consider a reasonable assumption to make. And if I was publishing a function to be re-used in a wider forum then I would engineer it to handle these sort of things.

Do you write your date checks to handle leap years? of course. Do you write them to handle century leaps? Maybe, maybe not. Do you write the 400 year check? No, don't be silly.

Lastly, grow some humour, you all sound terribly teutonic.

OzBob

My scripts are not Y2.1K compliant

I write a lot of bash scripts to automate my job and one of the common commands is to validate 4 digit years in files. I generally do a "grep '^20' [file]" , partly because I am too lazy to put the [01] in the second character and partly because it is kind of reassuring to know that in 81 years from I won't give a sh!t who this affects.

IT protip: Never try to be too helpful lest someone puts your contact details next to unruly boxen

OzBob

I left a job in 2001 as a permie in the local civil service

and came back in 2015 as a contractor. The first thing that greeted me in my mailbox was a forums update for the HP Support Website, for kit that the Govt Department had decommissioned long before I got back. So they had been spamming my (non-existent) email box for 14 years and either hadn't upgraded or had dragged everyone along to any new systems.

A History of (Computer) Violence: Wait. Before you whack it again, try caressing the mouse

OzBob

Re: "Luca [was] dispatched to resolve the situation."

Ah yes, that Susanne Vega song about performing "percussive maintenance" on a child (double points for includng both topics in your response). Bring back those days when it was legal here, I was beaten regularly as a nipper, never did me any harm (except for the desire to belt children when they misbehave, of course).

Houston, we've had a legend: Boffin behind NASA Mission Control signs off for final time

OzBob

And if you watched "Armstrong"

then you will know he nixxed Buzz Aldrin being first man on the moon.

Searching for Skylab: Even the most casual astro-nerd will revel in this respectful elegy to unsung space history

OzBob

Waiting for netflix gets my votes

I purchased the "Mission Control" Movie (made about 10 years too late) and saw it on Netflix within 6 months. Not making that mistake again.

Techies take turns at shut-down top trumps

OzBob

I was stuck in a german manufactured truck in the Army, that I was not signed off on

(it was stationary). Unfortunately the previous user had not put the hand brake on and it started to roll back. I was puling anything with a T shape or an angled lever, all the while putting my full weight on the conventional brake pedals (no manifold pressure). Someone else had to climb in the passenger side and pull the actual hand-brake. It was a SQUARE! wire handle painted YELLOW! I'm ex airforce, so square wire handles is a cut-away shape for parachutes, and yellow is a danger colour for something that can't be undone when pulled (I thought it would cut away the box body from the chassis or something). I have a lot to say about Kraut engineering these days, not a lot of it complimentary!

Dead LAN's hand: IT staff 'locked out' of data center's core switch after the only bloke who could log into it dies

OzBob

Was his name Terry Childs Jr?

I have seen in several companies, the "wilfull employee" and how much they sabotage attempts to discipline them. And how bad management are at dealing with them. The various futile attempts to enforce documentation and redundancy rules, the meetings to convince them to change their ways and the powerlessness of the hierarchy to enforce the rules.

I had one subordinate who refused to show me anything she was doing, and would lock her terminal every time I approached. If I asked her to do something she didn't want to do, she would claim she was working on something far more important and then refuse to elaborate (what she was doing was stuffing around with linux settings she was unqualified and unauthorised to change, resulting in several outages). But as a team leader, I had no authority to discipline her and our manager's nickname was Homer (fat, bald and really "yellow"), so no resolution there. When I would email her with work (or put it on her desk), she would simply ignore it or place it back on mine (one charming instance, I gave her a print out of a Priority 1 issue to resolve, went to the computer room for an hour and came back to find the printout back on my desk and the issue still outstanding)

I would love to hear anyone who has actually gotten a rogue employee either fired or buttoned down.

You know the drill: SAP has asked Joe Public to name Munich arena so go forth and be very silly

OzBob

"Albert Speer Platz"?

(See above)

Crash, bang, wallop: What a power-down. But what hit the kill switch?

OzBob

Probably said before but still funny

I was powering on an HP EVA Array after maintenance, and as I flipped the main breakers on the main PDUs, my co-worker snuck up behind me and clapped really loudly. Laughs all around from him, until I start clutching my chest and reaching for my medication (I had a severe heart attack a few years before), at which point his expression changed to "uh oh, bags not doing CPR". Fortunately the chest pains subsided after a few mins and we had a good laugh about it later.

Reliable system was so reliable, no one noticed its licence had expired... until it was too late

OzBob

Had a real "owner operator" project manager

who did things on the cheap. We ordered some temporary licenses to get going on a project requiring HP Virtualisation, with a PO number quoted and the paper work would follow on. 6 weeks later the vendor queried me on the purchase order to issue the permanent keys, and when I checked with accounts, the PM had cancelled the purchase order the day after we received the temporary keys. I went to the Data Centre Manager and did my scone at him ("you may be happy being cheating fraudulent scumbags with vendors but not on my watch" - or words to that effect). Didn't change anything in the short term, but the PM got fired 6 months later for being useless (apparently he had "forgotten" to budget for OS Licenses, and Database Licenses, and hardware costs, and a whole lot of other things) and the loan kit and temp licenses got given back to HP.

Hard Brexit, soft Brexit, deal or no deal: Doesn't matter – all integrator CGI sees is dollar signs

OzBob

I'll give CGI credit for one thing

at the last Annual Conference I went to, they show the amount of tax they paid in the European division and it's roughly a third of their income. The voice conferenced in headshed even said "we pay our taxes". Can't see Apple doing that.

Worried about Brexit food shortages? North Korean haute couture has just the thing

OzBob

Apparently Alexei Sayle likes North Korean Sherry

perhaps he can recommend an import agent that can branch out into clothing? (I would ask him myself, but we haven't' talked since I killed his brother)

Heard the one where the boss calls in an Oracle consultant who couldn't fix the database?

OzBob

Someone else fixed my fix

I wrote a C program (which I am really pants at) to update the personnel table in a helldesk systems by using the OS-level API. It kept crashing intermittently where I forgot to close something off inside the code but damned if I could find where it was. My replacement had a brilliant idea, split each input file into a whole bunch of singe line files, and run the program once per line. Simplicity itself, but damned if I could see that when I was looking at it.

Evelyn Berezin Obit?

OzBob

Evelyn Berezin Obit?

Noticed it on the beeb, any chance of an analysis of her life by the Reg?

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-46539934

Tech support discovers users who buy the 'sh*ttest PCs known to Man' struggle with basics

OzBob

Speaking of shitty equipment

my boss was leader of tech IT for a large government department, and in the late 90s he was sick of constant complaints about various models of printers not working on our intranet with the various applications. Fortunately he played golf with the head of finance of said department, so one monday he came in and said "all printers to be connected to our network must be HP Laserjet III". Six months later, printer support calls for connection issues were a rarity. Just goes to show what standards can do (and the political horsepower to ram them through).

Support whizz 'fixes' screeching laptop with a single click... by closing 'malware-y' browser tab

OzBob

Re: Batteries

Please tell me you a least gave it a sniff, just for research purposes of course.

Congrats to Debbie Crosbie: New CEO at IT meltdown bank TSB has unenviable task ahead

OzBob

Don't worry, DevOps will sort it out

being the panacea-de-jour and all.

DBA drifts into legend after inventive server convo leaves colleagues fearing for their lives

OzBob

Re: My boss was demonstrating the instrusion sensors on our building

Yeah, dropped the ball on that one. A good friend who was full-time doctor and part-time english tutor used to pull me up on that all the time so I gave up and used "purchased" instead.

OzBob

My boss was demonstrating the instrusion sensors on our building

he was telling how both light beams need to be tripped to trigger the alarm, and promptly leant over the parapet and blocked both light beams. Alarm goes off, team suitably impressed, then Ops Supervisor comes out and says "nice one [boss's name], I hope you know the reset code because we certainly don't".

Four hours later, we manage to track down the company which brought the company which installed the alarm system and get them to come onsite and turn the damn alarm off.

RIP Paul Allen: Microsoft cofounder billionaire dies at 65 after facing third bout with cancer

OzBob

If there is any afterlife

I hope he is forced to maintain their systems using Registry Edits.

Have a copy of his bio, (from an Op Shop), the tech part is a nice read, he was at the forefront of IT for a while.

And I thought Gates was the salesman and Allen the techie (Writing a boot loader for the Altair while on the plane to deliver BASIC to the vendor? Cant imagine his Bill-ness doing that!).

Rookie almost wipes customer's entire inventory – unbeknownst to sysadmin

OzBob

One I heard from an "old sweat" at my govt employer

they got a copy of DOS something (2.0 I think) from the vendor (not allowed to build it yourself in those days) and typed the"format" command after putting a floppy in the drive. However with no drive specified, "format" wiped C:. So, send PC back to vendor for re-installation.

Fortnite 'fesses up: New female character's jiggly bits 'unintended' and 'embarrassing'

OzBob

Want to legimitise the boobies?

Add a baby to it.

That scary old system with 'do not touch' on it? Your boss very much wants you to touch it. Now what do you do?

OzBob

Cost of replacement vs hassle of IT personnel

Having worked in govt IT, if the cost of running legacy hardware is only the time of a permanent (and therefore zero additional cost to the business) employee, with occasional 24 hour work-a-thons to recover after a crash, then the business will definitely not replace, re-org etc.

What I try and design into my systems is the migration path for the eventual end-of-life cutover. So sticking to flat files or low levels comms for interfaces, splitting app stacks into distinct components that can be hived off individually, etc. I am never around to get the thanks for this from the users (and I never tell the management in case they try to "help" and f**k it up) but I like to think someone notices and appreciates it.

Sysadmin misses out on paycheck after student test runs amok

OzBob

Working with a fully male team

one of the servers had the function of being a "Command Line Interface (Test)" machine (we had already had a couple of instances of shutting down the wrong server) we looked at each other and said "we'll never find that in the computer room".

A boss pinching pennies may have cost his firm many, many pounds

OzBob

Lost count of the amount of times

I have needed a piece of software and been told "sorry, cant justify it" or "OK submit a 3 page request and we will get back to you around Christmas". As long as it did not require subscription based support (no ongoing costs), one legendary boss used to say "book it to your credit card and claim overtime in the same amount". He's now a photographer, which is a real loss to IT.

London's Gatwick Airport flies back to the future as screens fail

OzBob

So was William Sadler found in charge of some mercenaries

in a church on the outskirts of the airfield, with a lot of air traffic control equipment? I've seen this before.

Phased out: IT architect plugs hole in clean-freak admin's wiring design

OzBob

I hate electricity

at the best of times, so never f**k with it. So when I switched on a new HP Disk Array in the Data Centre, my co-worker thought it would be fun to pop a large balloon behind me and see my reaction. (which was to call him a c-bomb after my heart rate dropped back down to normal)

'Can you just pop in to the office and hit the power button?' 'Not really... the G8 is on'

OzBob

Anyone remember

that macho loon who stayed put after hurricane katrina and blogged about it rather than getting out of dodge.

https://interdictor.livejournal.com/88989.html

Sysadmin trained his offshore replacements, sat back, watched ex-employer's world burn

OzBob

Four into one

I had the dubious honour of working for a Government Department who shifted from a proprietary software package to SAP, so I got re-trained coding in ABAP, and another crew (all 4 fresh out of the local community college) doing Basis Support. Roll on two years and all 4 of the Basis team walk out wanting better money from other companies (this was in the 90s when SAP experience was gold). The department para-dropped me into the situation (solo) with 4 weeks left to get a handover (I was a Unix sysadmin by then) and I spent 3 weeks fixing all the bugs in their Unix system that had created enough work for 3 of them. If their managers had talked to my managers, I could have saved them a fortune in time and effort.

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