* Posts by Andy A

357 posts • joined 26 Mar 2008


Mouse hiding in cable tray cheesed off its bemused user

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: Wireless Mice

Not just PC power switches. White goods such as washing machines do this too.

Our software is perfect. If something has gone wrong, it must be YOUR fault

Andy A Bronze badge
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Re: Semi-working software

In the last week my newsfeed had a mention of a new version of their software having 200+ bug fixes.

I'll stick with the watch containing zero software but many cogwheels.

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: Beware of giving corps new ideas

No, you'll still be able to use the numbers.

For only an extra 39.99 a month.

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: UX Designer?

It gets worse where US-based companies think they know better than the locals how UK addresses work.

Ancestry, for example, uses a gazetteer which has little basis in reality. According to them, as a sample, Tower Hamlets is in Kent. This sort of insanity means that their search function will ALWAYS fail to locate records which include the correct county.

Other sites insist that historical events took place in places with modern-day administrative names. Wikipedia, for example, insist that George Washington was born in the United States of America, which I am sure would have been news to him.

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: UX Designer?

Not all postal codes and phone numbers in the world use the Merkan formats.

For years I have quoted my phone number in standard international format. It starts +44, and all the numbers remembered by my mobile phone follow the same rule. That means that the numbers work wherever in the world I can get service; the operators have known this since at least the introduction of GSM.

So why can't web developers get their brains in gear?

Only this morning I was filling in an online form. My browser helpfully allows various boxes to be filled in with one click. The box simply labelled "Telephone number" gets filled in with that +44 number.

On clicking their "OK" button I am informed that the phone number "MUST BE IN THE FORMAT SPECIFIED". The format they require is still a mystery to me. Does it demand spaces? Hyphens? Round brackets?

They didn't get my business.

Enough with the notifications! Focus Assist will shut them u… 'But I'm too important!'

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: Honda

No, it's an attempt to get more cash NOW.

For only £20.99 a month, you can access the text which goes with the noises.

For only £299.99 a month, you can turn the noises off.

Andy A Bronze badge

<It's a bit like those signs that say "New Road Layout Ahead" which are always left there for at least 10 years after the road was changed. Not helpful in the slightest.>

We still have a "New roundabout ahead" sign, seven years after it was converted back into a crossroads.

I paid for it, that makes it mine. Doesn’t it? No – and it never did

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: re: streaming services and content

The drives fitted in HP laptops definitely had the "several times" restriction.

However I had access to MANY such machines, and they could be changed in seconds.

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: Dubbed Content

You want brakes? They are obviously more important than heated seats, so $200 a month. That also implies that you want the car to move. Now we are talking SERIOUS money!

BOFH: Selling the boss on a crypto startup

Andy A Bronze badge

It's much more likely that you will shortly receive an email pointing out that should you wish to continue to use the USB-C ports, all you need to do is pay $7.99 a month.

Motor manufacturers are all jumping on the subscription bandwagon. Being online with a current sub seems to be de rigeur for any hardware advertised on telly to work these days.

We've got a photocopier and it can copy anything

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: Years ago....

Bill Bryson wrote about OS maps. pointing out that the US had nothing comparable available. He told of sitting on his favourite bench in the countryside, perusing his OS map, and finding that that very bench was marked on the map, because it had, appropriately, a Bench Mark on it.

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: Don't know if it's just that my coffee hasn't kicked in yet...

They just use "aqua" to make it sound innocuous. If they want to look all techie and cutting-edge, it's dihydrogen monoxide.

My smartphone has wiped my microSD card again: Is it a conspiracy?

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: About a billion web pages have been authored to help

== why a more forgiving fie system couldn't be used

It's happened again! They've pinched a lower case L because it looked like a 1 !!

This is the military – you can't just delete your history like you're 15

Andy A Bronze badge

Some of what are seen as "American" spellings used to be normal in the UK. My 3xgreat grandfather was baptized rather than baptised, for example, so "Regomized" seems fair enough.

Other Norms of the Time, such as all Nouns having capital Letters, have dropped by the Wayside.

Webster set out with the intention of making the Merkan version of the language different. His reforms have had some success in the USA, but make no sense to right-pondians. To me, a "center" is someone who does centing, just as a programmer does programming.

Leave that sentient AI alone a mo and fix those racist chatbots first

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: Customer avoidance

It's just a logical update to the "Frequently Asked Questions" section of the website.

Typically, the first entry in one of these FAQs would consist of "How do I access the FAQ list?"

Seriously, you do not want to make that cable your earth

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: almost whoops

I was once officially tasked with tidying up such a floor void. It took a whole week between normal tasks.

Naturally I had to also officially remove the offending cabling from site. I had an appropriate "chitty" as I left early one Friday.

The Recyclers handed me a cheque (shows you how long ago this was) which filled the car up for a month, and a few of the icons too. =====>

The following week, more cabling was installed, but at least we could see where to fit it.

We can bend the laws of physics for your super-yacht, but we can't break them

Andy A Bronze badge

When they were installing a DVD player on the ISS, Region Encoding was a killer. Which region are we in now? Which will we be in 4 minutes from now?

In the rest of the world, "chipping" a player to ignore the region code was ordinary, but the US has laws meaning that possession of such a device results in automatic incarceration. The RIAA paid for that law, so it MUST be upheld!

So a player was supplied from the UK, and delivered to the Shuttle launch pad in a Diplomatic Bag.

Your software doesn't work when my PC is in 'O' mode

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: it was a button with 'I' and 'O' on it

But if you were not careful you ended up with "a cupful of liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.”

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: return value

This comment was produced with the aid of a Digital Writing System.

(Only radio listeners will get that one).

BOFH: Something's consuming 40% of UPS capacity – and it's coming from the beancounters' office

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: I have literally seen some of this happen.

Once had to install a whole batch of those for "refurbished area".

I explained that should a fuse blow because someone thought a heater was a good idea, they would have to negotiate for themselves with the site sparks for a replacement.

The behaviour common at the place they moved from ceased once they knew I kept my word (and had no spares of my own).

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: A possible solution

A place I worked in the early 80s had the entire comms rack running from a single 13A socket - the building had a huge alternator and generator waiting to kick in should the mains fail.

I was squatting by the comms rack looking for a problem (oh all right - it was a hot day and I wanted to be in the cool) when the whole rack went dark.

Brown trousers time - there are going to be a hundred angry calls from users.

I look round to see that the cleaner has unplugged it all from the mains to plug in the vacuum.

Next to the socket they had purloined, actually in the same faceplate, was another, fully functional, and EMPTY socket.

We moved the disk racking two inches to the left so as to ward off a repeat.

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: You'd have thought that pros would do it better...

We had a site with two sets of pylons, running from opposite directions, and a "ring main" feeding the other site substations.

Once a year, during holiday fortnight, the sparks moved the Big Breakers over to use the other pylons. Check the other substations were still live, then after a couple of hours move the breakers back to the original (cheaper) supply.

We took the opportunity to test the server room UPS. Servers all powered down, and just core switches left running. I estimated 3 hours runtime according to the UPS specs.

It lasted 15 minutes. Not even enough time to warm up the second set of pylons.

Apple must fix its self-service repair program, say critics

Andy A Bronze badge

It's not just serialised parts which are unavailable

Commonly failing components which are NOT serialised are "unavailable" through the scheme.

Someone forces the wrong cable into your charge port and breaks it?

Tough. The charge port is NOT on the list of available parts.

"Just buy a new phone and give us all that lovely extra profit."

Not to dis your diskette, but there are some unexpected sector holes

Andy A Bronze badge

I remember the Ferranti Sirius - 5-track paper tape, and delay-line main store. One of its opcodes was "Branch if Approximately Equal", which sounds insane until you are dealing with floating point numbers.

One of our lecturers wrote a FORTRAN compiler for it, just to prove it could be done.

Another Sirius (AKA Victor 9000) squeezed 1.2MB on the same floppy media that IBM put 360KB, by using more sectors on the outer tracks. A stepper motor was used for the variable rotation speed.

IIRC, IBM 3274 terminal controllers used 8" hard-sectored floppies.

Buying a USB adapter: Pennies. Knowing where to stick it: Priceless

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: Cool Running

In the days of the ACT Sirius 1 / Victor 9000, we had a large batch of machines with lots of disk errors.

Turned out that the drives had been low-level formatted in Sunny California, and in the UK winter the cylinders on the platters no longer lined up with the heads which had recorded them.

Microsoft updates Edge's Internet Explorer mode

Andy A Bronze badge

You mean like Microsoft's own WSUS?

Help, my IT team has no admin access to their own systems

Andy A Bronze badge

The place where I first worked had an ICL 1901T with 24K words of core.

There were physically 32K words, but they wouldn't pay for the extra. Snip!

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: Miracle workers

But that scrollbar is subject to the fashion choices made by the people who supply your browser.

Look what happened in Windows 10 - the Start Menu has a scrollbar which is invisible unless you manage to hover over a vertical strip one pixel wide. It then "appears", almost the exact shade of grey as the background of the menu. The control section of the scrollbar has a colour choice almost identical. That means that the "stylists" (we surely couldn't promote them as "designers") have decided to hide important things from us.

We can never forgive them.

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: snips, we don't need no snips

We suggested fitting a coin-in-the-slot device.

Operators wanting to head off early might contribute a few extra machine cycles a second.

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: Miracle workers

The Scroll was the paradigm used in the computing world for nearly 40 years.

Some of us remember when the scrollbar showed you:

- that there was more content than that currently in view

- the relative position of the current view within the whole

- the proportion of the whole which was in view.

Current offerings have the functionality of the scrollbar castrated, or the whole scrollbar hidden away.

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: Forget the turtles...

Long ago, the company I worked for took over the workload of a company which made firesafes. They showed us a safe which had been on the 3rd floor of a building, and was extracted from the sub-basement following a fire.

They had made a replacement key to gain access. The tapes inside read perfectly.

Client demo in 30 minutes. Just what could go wrong?

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: It was BT for me

It's still pretty normal. There are exactly 3 properties served from the DP atop the pole by the roadside here.

The third property have had great problems with their connection, which didn't exactly fit well with "working from home".

Coming back from town a few months back, I noticed a batch of engineers working at the manholes up the road. Sure enough, on getting in the house, I found our line dead.

A walk up the road followed by "Oh it's nothing to do with us. We're just testing the cables here."

"In that case whose is the ladder leaning against the pole with the DP on it? I'll go and lock it safely away."

I did, and logged a fault using my mobile. Later that day I handed the fresh engineer a spare ladder, and was told that on examination our pair had been "borrowed".

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: What's in a name?

There has been a spate of wiring in parked cars being chewed by urban foxes. Apparently the insulation these days is made from soya, because plastics are VERBOTEN!

People have taken to installing fencing around their vehicles overnight.

Unable to write 'Amusing Weekly Column'. Abort, Retry, Fail?

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: Is Your Message Really Necessary? @WolfFan

Under Vista, every file deleted also went through the DRM code. Deleting a thousand log files could take many hours because every possible DRM handler was consulted about each file in turn.

New Windows 11 build boasts inbox updates and UI tweaks

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: W11 is MS commiting suicide.

The same licence should do both.

Download the matching W10 from MS to a USB stick.

Copy hardware drivers to it too, especially network drivers.

Boot from the W10 stick and install.

It will ask whether it is Home, Pro etc. Match your pre-installed flavour.

When it asks for the key, click on "I don't have a key". When it reports in it should find that there's a licence for this machine in Microsoft's database.

Install the drivers.

Do NOT install the Bloatware which came with the fresh kit.

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: You can medicate insanity; you can educate ignorance. You can NOT fix "STUPID".

Microsoft are a bit late to the "as-a-service" party. Apple and Google have been doing it for years. Use a 10-year old iPhone or Android device? No chance. They won't even connect to get updates, never mind the latest OS.

These days you find the likes of Toyota demanding cash to allow your use of things such as heated seats after the "introductory period" has elapsed.

...and for years there has been malware-as-a-service.

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: Inbox Meaning

It means that when someone sends you an email containing a video of a cat, you will be able to add another cat video to it and send it to all the other people you are "influencing", without the bother of saving it to your local drive.

After all, M$ want you to keep all your stuff on their storage, so that they can analyse it and sell you to their advertisers.

Andy A Bronze badge

It sounds just like the code they plonked into OneDrive. About once a week it pops up an annoyance wanting me to see "memories".

In my case, I just use OneDrive as a handy place to keep a backup of family history research and associated documents, so the picture the system uses to "tempt me in" is always an image of a census page I found a couple of years ago.

If I ever wander in there using a browser, I find that it has reshuffled everything (without my permission) into what it calls "Albums", the contents of which bear no relationship to their original naming scheme.

BOFH: Gaming rig for your home office? Yeah right

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: It's time to kill the dragon!

Sounds VERY familiar. Getting security clearance was a PAIN. "Lost the form" more than once in my case.

When I worked on an ordinary commercial site for such an organisation, there were times when we were required to do emergency surgery on PCs at other sites supported by the group. One such place was about 20 miles away and lived on remote support most of the time. When things were really bad, they needed someone with Admin privileges to get hands on.

This happened only about once per year, so it was REALLY annoying to reach site and find that your specially created account had been killed off as "unused" six months previously. Not just an expired password; actually removed, despite comments in the AD records explaining its presence.

We have redundancy, we have batteries, what could possibly go wrong?

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: Does Diesel not go off?

Current diesel comes with a compulsory bio- component.

This encourages the growth of certain algae, which gum things up much faster.

Andy A Bronze badge
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Re: Flashlight

Some time ago I was at a railway depot, clearing off some overdue tickets which the local staff had trouble with, when the room suddenly went dark.

Enquiry resulted in information that someone with a digger had severed the Big Cable, so no chance of clearing the jobs that afternoon,

I shut down the local server before its little UPS died, grabbed my things and headed over to the carriage shed to explain that I was departing.

I commiserated with them, knowing that they would be unable to brew up.

"No problem," they said. "This buffet car gets its power from the overheads. As much hot water as we like!"

Andy A Bronze badge

<The gennys should really have had a local fuel tank to give them a short autonomous running period - with the bulk tanks and pumps only used to top up the local tank.>

I worked with a chap who had previously worked at a mainframe site with such a setup.

One weekend (it was not 24/7) the level switch in the header tank failed. The pump carefully emptied the hundreds of gallons of reserves into the 5-gallon tank.

In the morning the actual floor of the computer room (carefully waterproofed) was flooded with diesel, The smoke sensors under the floor tiles actually floated!

Luckily diesel is not very flammable, otherwise see icon.

The Human Genome Project will tell us who to support at Eurovision

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: Statistical risks of inverse association

Indeed. Note that it is the current locations of those being tested which reaches the databases, not the places the ancestor came from.

Stalin infamously deported entire populations, something that his successor appears to be trying at present.

IT blamed after HR forgets to install sockets in new office

Andy A Bronze badge

The situation seems very familiar

One place I worked decided to sell off their office building and move the staff into a fresh space built inside a Victorian industrial building.

All well and good, but, just like the main story, they forgot things.

The Official Announcement was made that the staff would be moving there the following Monday, so we went to take a tour with their Project Manager.

"Where will the desks go?" we asked.

There were four mains sockets to provide for 50 desks, some of which would be 30 feet away. Zero network points. Zero phone points. The carpet was nice though.

By getting them to pay well over the odds to our usual cabling installers, we managed to get things viable only 3 weeks late. Fibre had to be run to new switches in the area.

They took advantage of the move to update about a dozen PCs, so they were ready on desks by the Friday ready for the delayed move.

Over that weekend, it rained - heavily.

Those Victorian engineers had installed a "ridge and furrow" roof. The cast iron pillars underneath those furrows doubled as downspouts. Of course the coloured-pencil brigade didn't see the need to take away so much water, thinking it would head towards the end of the building. The furrows, for the first time in more than a century, overflowed - through the newly-fitted roof; through the new false ceiling (which disintegrated into a soggy mess), and over half a dozen of those brand-new PCs. Mains breakers tripped as water filled new floorboxes.

Calls were logged about the PCs, which were rapidly closed as "User Error".

Because of the delayed move, EVERYBODY knew who was badly managing the project. He was not allowed to forget it either.

Proprietary neural tech you had surgically implanted? Parts shortage

Andy A Bronze badge

The ICL 1900 engineers' tapes were full of such, along with various examples of "ASCII Art".

Real-time software? How about real-time patching?

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: Site Acceptance Test

A company I worked for were bidding to do support on radar sites. I asked where they were, having a pilot's licence.

One was on Orkney. They intended using one of their two staff in Aberdeen. There's a ferry from there to Kirkwall.

"Check the timetable", I advised. Yes, they could get the chap and his vehicle on the ferry and only 6 hours later it would arrive in Orkney. Drive from the dock to the installation, get out of the car and ... watch the ferry departing.

Don't worry, it will be back for you on Thursday.

Charging a flat rate per site for the contract became a lot less attractive.

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: Site Acceptance Test

Once did a job demonstrating new equipment in Dublin.

Flew out Thursday evening in horrible weather. The Shipping Forecast had gales in EVERY area except German Bight.

Spent Friday doing the demos. Our local distributor had worked wonders and got all his customers through in one day.

So down their local to consume several pints of Guinness. :-)

I have an open ticket to get home, and ring up in the morning to get a departure.

The first available was the middle of Sunday Afternoon. Apparently lots of people had been delayed by those gales.

So stuck in Dublin with time to kill and only expenses to keep me company. :-) :-) :-)

Andy A Bronze badge

Re: Site Acceptance Test

I occasionally did holiday cover at Sellafield - changing backup tapes. So,

- Early morning, collect company van from usual site.

- 3-hour drive to site.

- 30 minutes changing tapes, accessing safe, chatting to the locals.

- Pick route home with best scenery.

- Call for lunch on the way.

- At least another 3 hours back to usual site.

- Arrive back too late to do anything else that day.

Repeat two days later!

So the company paid me to wander round the Lake District, in summer, with them picking up the fuel bills. The van had aircon too!

Make assistive driving safe: Eliminate pedestrians

Andy A Bronze badge

My route to work a few years back passed through a roundabout which had traffic lights at every place roads joined. The average queue length was 1/3 mile - that's 2 miles of standing traffic at any time.

Except when the lights failed. Then, despite the presence of a van used by the repair man half-blocking one of the routes, the MAXIMUM length of any queue was 3 vehicles.

We managed to scare away one repair engineer, though it was not a nice feeling being awful to someone in a closely related profession.

Andy A Bronze badge

Indicators still form part of the UK's MOT test. If they are fitted, they have to work, and show vaguely orange in colour. If you are lumbered with a US red lens, you can get by through the use of green LED lamps.

In one of the very rare cases of forcing retrofitting of features, an audio repeater has to help the driver know whether the indicators are working - unless the driver can see them from the driving seat. My semaphore-style indicators were fitted to the front pillars. :-)

Hand signals, though still in the Highway Code, have not needed to be demonstrated in the Driving Test since 1975. The chances of finding them in use are slim indeed.

In my day, the Highway Code had a special section dealing with police officers on point duty, a whole concept which has disappeared.



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