* Posts by Mike Henderson

34 publicly visible posts • joined 11 Apr 2007

Minister tells the House of Lords it'll be another 12 weeks before UK's deleted criminal records can be restored

Mike Henderson

Re: Part of the problem...

"This is a hierarchical data store which uses record offsets to link to the next record in the set."

No it isn't, it's Adabas. Adabas is ... different

The hierarchical database sounds more like a CODASYL-compliant system. Ahhh, DMS-1100. Those were the days.

Adabas isn't relational, or hierarchical, it's ... different

I think I'm remembering 'inverted list storage', but it was decades ago and a different Police force

That awful moment when what you thought was a number 1 turned out to be a number 2

Mike Henderson

Here at the bottom of the world, the first of the larger banks - the government-owned KiwiBank - has just said "no more cheques, as from the end of February"

Most people expect that the other large banks - all Australian-owned - will see how this goes, and follow suit within a year unless the pensioners riot in the streets or change banks from KiwiBank.

I reckon that apart from economies with backward retail banking systems (and I gather the American system is firmly rooted in the Victorian era) cheques will be a matter of historical curiosity within a decade.

BOFH: Here he comes, all wide-eyed with the boundless optimism of youth. He is me, 30 years ago... what to do?

Mike Henderson

Re: Museum items


My first machines were a PDP 8 and an IBM 7090 - in 1971.

The owner wouldn't spring for a Boot ROM on the PDP, so we had to boot it by loading a paper tape reader program through the front panel switches :(

There was talk of buying Mass Storage (a 5MB disk) for the IBM about the time I moved on to my next job

Alleged Vault 7 leaker trial finale: Want to know the CIA's password for its top-secret hacking tools? 123ABCdef

Mike Henderson

Re: Curious....

If they're allowed to carry a smartphone into that kind of environment, then their security is completely bolleaux

Worst-case Scenarios? You've got it: Gremlin makes totally trashing your apps even easier

Mike Henderson

In real life?

"in the same way as you validate a backup by doing a test restore"

Hahahahaha oh dear hahahahahahahaha "test restore" <helpless laughter>

Next thing, he'll be saying "validate the power system by running the backup diesel jenny for more than half an hour every other Tuesday lunchtime"


<Wipes tears of laughter from eyes>

Oh dear, where do young people today get these crazy ideas from?

NASA's lunar spy looks for hide-and-seek champ Vikram, Starliner test success, and more

Mike Henderson

Re: Please remain seated.

And presumably there is an Emergency Exit procedure if the lucky meatbags on board need to get out RIGHT NOW?

Service call centres to become wasteland and tumbleweed by 2024

Mike Henderson

So within five years Sky will have replaced my set-top box - and every other one in the country - with one that will call home when picture quality is poor, have an AI system cross-correlate with weather conditions and other reports, determine whether the problem looks like an antenna or cabling fault, and proactively despatch an antenna technician if that is indicated?

When they could otherwise sweat the existing dumb STB asset for at least another five years?

When technicians now only get called when picture quality has dropped to a completely unacceptable level so the customer reactively complains, thereby avoiding NFF callouts?

Pull the other leg, mate.

What are they smoking up there in 'digital transformation decision makers' land?

And that's just one example

Complete bollix

Rise of the Machines hair-raiser: The day IBM's Dot Matrix turned

Mike Henderson

Re: Let's face it, who amongst us hasn't lost a tie to the...

Back in the day - 1989 IIRC - I visited the place here the London Metropolitan Police printed their parking and traffic tickets. The printer was a roll-fed Xerographic behemoth that produced about a hundred tickets per minute, printed both sides and sliced into A4 sheets. That was amazingly rapid for those days.

The feed paper was a roll about 600mm in diameter and 270mm wide, weighing lotsa kg, and moved around on special hand carts.

The whole area was surrounded by a rope barrier, with big signs on each side of the entrance

"Neck ties are not permitted in this area"

I imagine the Met must have had at least one nasty incident to generate such a flagrant breach of Standards Of Attire


Boeing... Boeing... Gone: Canada, America finally ground 737 Max jets as they await anti-death-crash software patches

Mike Henderson

Negligent certification

[Actually it swaps between the captain's and the first officer's Angle of Attack sensor each flight.]

The FAA somehow certified a whole series of aircraft (B737MAX-8, -9, -7 & -10) with a new system ("MCAS") critical to flight safety which relies entirely on one out of two available sensors.

There is no averaging, no voting, not even a 'disagree' indicator.

The pilots' flight manuals originally omitted any mention of the MCAS, so if it misbehaved, the pilots would have no idea WTF was happening because they did not know MCAS existed.

Oh, and just to add insult to injury, having the AoA displayed on the pilots' screen was an 'extra cost option', so unless their airline had gone to that expense, there was no way for the pilots to know that their AoA devices were in violent disagreement

In my view the FAA acted completely negligently in certifying the B737MAX aircraft system (including the manuals). It seems likely that they relied on representations from Boeing that negligently (or even willfully) misrepresented the risks inherent in the MCAS design and implementation.

Since there were US citizens killed in the Ethiopian crash, if that is shown to also be MCAS-induced, I would expect both Boeing and the FAA to be hit with ginormous lawsuits in US courts.

Then there will be the teeny weeny detail of fixing and re-certifying "anti-death-crash software patches", manual updates and probably hardware changes - maybe including a third AoA transducer and voting / averaging / alerting software

New Zealand border cops warn travelers that without handing over electronic passwords 'You shall not pass!'

Mike Henderson

Re: Mission Creep

For example, Vancouver / San Fransisco / Los Angeles to Adelaide or Perth - you can't do it non-stop, and a transit stop in Auckland is waaaay better than Sydney or Melbourne.

Everyone screams patch ASAP – but it takes most organizations a month to update their networks

Mike Henderson

Re: "can result in hundreds of thousands of the currency of your choice go down the drain"

"the vendor - who more often than not is a small dev company that do not always understand the implications of running their applications in an enterprise environment"

So much, so often.

The 'solution' bought and already paid for by a non-IT part of the organisation proved to be from a two-person company - a 'sales guy' and a 'developer' - who thinks its their lucky day because they've found someone who's prepared to pay six figures.


* you say "OWASP" and get a blank look,

* you ask them about licensing the database and find "that's not needed" and eventually "it's MS-Access"


Put November 26 in your diary: That’s when Mars InSight lands. Hopefully

Mike Henderson

Landing, that's easy

Of course it'll land ... but softly and in one piece, that's the hard part

Good luck NASA

UK.gov demands urgent answers as TSB IT meltdown continues

Mike Henderson

Re: IT Shambles.

Post-Brexit, will an English-registered retail bank actually be able to outsource its entire operations to what will suddenly be a completely foreign jurisdiction? So its actual banking operations* will no longer be subject to English law? Really?

The Reserve Bank of NZ stopped the Australian-owned main trading banks in NZ (i.e. 90% of the market) from doing that, insisting they do their processing in NZ, not Australia.

Just wonderin'

* the bank branches, ATMs etc are just interfaces between the customer and the bank. All the real banking operations are IT systems nowadays

Leap second scheduled for New Year's Eve 2016

Mike Henderson

The best of all possible times to have a leap second

Is midnight UTC on 31st December

If only because here in Enn Zedd it's lunchtime on New Year's Day and there's hardly any work being done so if things do go TITSUP, mostly nobody will notice. On account of being on summer holiday and only being concerned about cold beer and hot BBQs - neither of which will mind too much if there's an NTP hiccup


The last time they changed it on 30th June which was potentially a real PITA as lunchtime (NZ) 1st July is just an ordinary busy work time.

BOFH: If you liked it then you should've put the internet in it

Mike Henderson

Re: Tracking

Or the system is unaware of leap-years, thus unlocking the building on the Saturday after Leap Day in the mistaken belief it was Friday. And on Monday everything is locked because the imbecile security system thinks it's Sunday

999 What's your emergency: Mega millions Met call handling IT muckup?

Mike Henderson

Re: Strange but UNtrue

Also "the Met's 30-year-old command-and-control system"

In 1989, I worked with the Unisys guys (no gals IIRC) converting the old Sperry 1100-based system onto flash new Unisys 2200 hardware. The system was certainly already more than four years old then, so I'd put the system age at more likely 35 to 40 years than a sprightly and youthful 30.

I'd expect that the software was based on systems designed and written by PRC, a US-based Sperry partner who specialised in "Computer Aided Despatch" applications on Sperry hardware. I guess it could be used for taxis, but the package and the hardware it needed cost several millions of dollars (US) in the 1980s, so I doubt very much it was affordable by any taxi company.


Voluminous Versailles vagina viciously violated – again

Mike Henderson

foreign terrorism?

Would a French graffiti vandal spray "Le 2nd VIOL..."?

Surely a French-speaker would paint "Le 2me VIOL ...", on the grounds that the French word for "second" is "deuxieme".

So, an English-language-native vandal.

What is the difference between a drone, a model and a light plane?

Mike Henderson

Re: Not quite

Or you can see the real thing - full size, piloted - at Hood Aerodrome, Masterton, NZ.

Film mogul Sir Peter Jackson chooses to waste his money on re-building and reproducing WW I aeroplanes, a vice I most heartily approve of and for which I am extremely grateful! :)

See http://thevintageaviator.co.nz/

FAA grounds Boeing's 787 after battery fires on plastic planes

Mike Henderson

Re: You forget the 2009 Hudson River crash

The real worry is that that is the one and only time ever in history that someone has successfully water-landed a jet aircraft with its engines under the wings.

And that was on the relative calm of the Hudson River and within about a minute of the first rescue boat, not on the open ocean - with waves even - and hours or days from rescue

Kiwis demo DARPA-funded rocket project

Mike Henderson

Launched from Great Mercury Island

according to <http://www.3news.co.nz/Kiwi-rocket-trials-new-form-of-propulsion/tabid/1160/articleID/276537/Default.aspx> "some big space heavies like NASA and the US Navy, who flew all the way to Great Mercury Island, off the Coromandel Pensinsula, to watch this morning’s test launch"

New Jersey allows email voting

Mike Henderson

Is this legal?

Can the Governor of New Jersey actually just designate a whole category of persons who are not overseas as "Overseas Voters"? I mean, obviously he has, but does that stand any chance of prevailing when the losing candidate claims that all these votes are invalid? Particularly if NJ's15 Electoral College votes swing the election one way or the other.

This is one of the more amusing features of the Virginian colonies' quaint voting system: there doesn't seem to be any real process for a significant delay in the voting, or for declaring an individual state's vote to have been invalidly conducted and requiring to be done again. That was the obvious deciding factor in the Supreme Court when Dubya won the Florida vote the first time: even the thought of declaring the Florida vote null and void was too awful for the Supreme Court Justices to contemplate, and to put it back to the ballot would have wrecked the carefully orchestrated timetable of Electoral College and Inauguration Day.

Might be time to get in extra popcorn & drinks, could be an outstanding fireworks display

Nominet mulls killing off the .co from .co.uk

Mike Henderson

The .NZ registry has just been consulting on this idea

For an unmoderated use of .nz at the second level, of course, not for .uk

You can see the consultation paper and submissions on the subject here


Mozilla shoots down Thunderbird, hatches new release model

Mike Henderson
Thumb Up

Re: Wait...

Spot on Trevor.

I hate to say it, but for me too Outlook is the 'killer app' me that keeps me on Windows.

It also stops be agitating too vigourously for my employer to throw off the Microsoft Tax yoke: our organisation runs on Outlook calendaring and tasking, and without an alternative that is as well integrated in email, calendar, contacts and tasks as is LookOut, suggesting a change would be obviously and severely career limiting.

I hate to say it, but Outlook is actually amazingly adequate.

Japan and Vietnam push on with rare earth mining plans

Mike Henderson

Plan "B"

"it will be interesting to see if China decides to lower its prices and change its rhetoric"

Or just invade, Lai Chau being less than 40km from the China-Vietnam border.

Thousands of Brits bombarded in caller spoofing riddle

Mike Henderson

Why can't the telcos "spam filter" these calls?

The call must enter theTelco's network with some sort of identifier - a human might call it a 'caller phone number' - presented, for telco billing purposes.

If it doesn't have a calling identifier, or has an invalid one, the telco should just drop the call, or give an 'invalid number' reponse.

Now it gets a little trickier: the telco needs to filter on the presented network ID. For a trivial example, if the call purports to come from my network, but is coming in from outside, drop it, or if the call says it's from the UK, but the call originates in India - where a lot of my junk calls come from judging by the accent - drop that one too.

Yes, you'll probably throw a few false positives, but the volume is getting to the same state as my email filters: false positives is a price I'm prepared to pay for not nearly so much junk mail

Astrolabe backs off, timezone database safe

Mike Henderson

Re: Re: So who were they going to end up extorting the money from?

The reason MS maintain their own TZ database is that the Windows time+TZ implementation is conceptually broken. Their model goes back to DOS, and consists of making the actual motherboard hardware clock hold the adjusted local time so the displayed time is always the hardware time, whereas the *ix model keeps the hardware clock in UTC and maintains displayed time offset from the hardware time by the locale and TZ database. The MS model of course requires no abstraction/translation layer so is much easier to implement, but is essentially a my-computer-on-my-desk concept. The *ix model always allowed for multiple users of the hardware in different TZ locations. The problem is that the original DOS concept was continued right through the Windows Server line.

Datacom, Revera expanding NZ cloud

Mike Henderson


And owned about 35% by NZ Post (a.k.a. The Post Office) which is 100% government owned.

Until after the election anyway, come to think of it. Sigh

Stingy Uncle Sam dumps a Q1 loss on Unisys

Mike Henderson

"Transportation Security Association"

I always though the TSA was the Transportation Security Agency, but what would an ignorant colonial know about it?


Cellphone exposure linked to changes in brain activity

Mike Henderson

Fifty minutes continuous talk-time

Yes, that's right FIFTY CONSECUTIVE CONTINUOUS BLOODY MINUTES! Pardon me shouting, but WTF?

How much effect was there after five minutes? Ten? Fifteen? None, I'd wager.

What is the statistical distribution of call duration and inter-call gaps: whatever it is, I'll bet the median - and probably the ninety-somethingth percentile - is nowhere near fifty minutes talk time.

Next thing, they'll 'discover' that if you drink three bottles of high-proof vodka, neat, one after the other without stopping, that it appears to have some potentially deleterious effects on health.

FAIL, completely, utterly, absolutely, totally FAIL

Cisco taps into smart grid money machine

Mike Henderson

'Smart grid' switches and routers

I hope they do IPv6 from the start - there's going to be a lot of these devices out there.

I mean, all those transmission companies are already using IPV6 or are at least IPv6-ready, aren't they?

IBM reaches out to SAP, RIM with Notes

Mike Henderson
Thumb Up

SAP playing both sides of the street

So we now have "Alloy" for integration of a Notes/Domino-based UI into SAP.

Just like "Duet" for integration of a Outlook-based UI into SAP.

Anybody would think that the native SAP UI must be completely pants if it needs to be replaced by PIM plugins.

Oh yes, SAPGUI is ... utterly, completely horrid.

Apparently irremediably so, 'coz SAP A/G aren't even trying.

IBM's AIX 6 drops 'L,' adds 'S'

Mike Henderson

AIX 6.1

"IBM apparently ... will introduce the software as AIX Version 6.1"

I understand that some marketing droid committee in IBM corporate has decided that customers are too easily spooked by ".0" releases, so in order to avoid that ... there won't be any in future. Us customers are so easily fooled that we won't realise it's a major new release, we'll be lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that it's ".1", not the dreaded ".0".

I first heard this from a product manager who told us that the next version of the product we use would be "11.1", when the current version was "10.2". When I asked 'what happened to "11.0"?', they told the audience that 'this was a marketing decision'


Airwave strike threats as Macquarie takes over

Mike Henderson

Defined benefit pension schemes are immoral

A defined benefit pension scheme is an unlimited promise to pay a retiree a sum of money independent of the ability of the paying organisation to fund this payment. It is an unbounded promise on future generations of shareholders and customers.

In my view, the directors of any company offering such a scheme should be prosecuted for reckless trading.

The only reason governments can get away with such schemes is that they have an unlimited capacity (called "Taxes") to generate cash-flow to fund their pensions.

Welcome to the real world, Airwave.

BTW, in case you think I believe Macquarie are the good guys in this story, I don't.

They were the crew for who VirginBlue created a new collective noun for bankers: "a wunch". As in "Macquarie, what a wunch of bankers". In 1m high letters on the side of a VirginBlue Boeing 737.


IBM's new server targets the 'i' in SMB

Mike Henderson

Windows Server capable?

"Both boxes are Linux, Windows Server, AIX and i5/OS capable."

Windows Server on a Power 5+ system?