* Posts by Steve B

156 posts • joined 11 Apr 2007

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A tiny typo in an automated email to thousands of customers turns out to be a big problem for legal

Steve B

Re: Fix the problem - safely - then worry about legal / senior management

I managed my teams like that which worked well until the Council IT top tier management team changed.

Obvious failures by my team members were resolved and owned, as one does.

The new "managers" were not up to their roles as we accidentally exposed time after time, so they used any failures as an excuse to shuffle me out (downgrading, dead end career progression, reorganisation etc).

They then promoted the worst members of my team into the team leading roles.

Karma being what it is, the management team all went on to enjoy massive salaries and pension benefits whilst the service and standards provided by the Council declined from the best value in England ( or thereabouts when I left) to the lowest levels possible.

It was always someone else's fault and they were such good managers they had managed to recover from some of the issues etc.

I can quite easily understand them taking hours to figure out how not to accept any liability at their level and getting that aspect sorted first before actually looking at the problem and ways to resolve it.

Frustrated dev drops three zero-day vulns affecting Apple iOS 15 after six-month wait

Steve B

Have to agree coming at it from the other way.

I have never been an Apple fan, but although the Android phone I have basically works, it is being taken over by Google.

I have to have a Google email and user, I have to divulge my date of birth, can they have my credit/debit card for Google pay or the Play store? etc. My battery is winding down at alarming rates even though I do nothing and it turns out to be Play Services running round doing the above, which I don't want.

All I want is a phone that can take photos and access the internet as well as make and receive calls or texts, why do they insist on this tie in?

I'm thinking of going huawei just for the break from Google and Apple.

As an old programmer, I still can't see how any of these companies continue to develop code with so many ridiculous bugs in, when our techniques from the 70s would have precluded most of them getting as far as the test phase even.

If I remember correctly, my company was probably the first to decide that writing an OS in a higher level language would give them a far greater developer base to draw from. They found out very quickly that they only benefit was that the higher level language and new developers allowed for quicker development of bugs so they had to rethink the hiring policy.

It was interesting to see later major companies falling into exactly the same development paths. I used to phone one and tell them their next big issue, it correlated so well.

MS and Apple have unfortunately not learned all the lessons.

HPE campaigns against 'cloud first' push in UK public sector

Steve B

Haven't got the staff any more though.

The Government policies have basically removed most of the intelligence and the best programmers from Local and Central Government employ.

If we wanted something done for our users we did it. It worked, and if we could we sold it to other Councils.

Then the outsourcing came in and after a change of the original management team, who had reorganised themselves into a nice redundancy or early retirement package, the new management team perfectly matched the new psychometric test requirements, whilst still being absolutely useless at everything bar attending meetings and agreeing with the perceived main person in the room!

Instead of the users getting what they wanted, they now got "bespoke, off the shelf" packages, which saved all the high development costs.

The fact they didn't actually meet any of the criteria was glossed over as unimportant, until the "users" started going sick with stress caused by the new systems and it got into the press.

The trouble is that once you have lost the real talent, you are stuck with the dross and can't recover,

Hence all the bills went up and none of the systems satisfied the users, which in our case also lost all off the external customers we had built up over the years, who were paying "real" money into the Council coffers.

The old management team would not touch "consultants", preferring to spend the money on training in house personnel. The new team, being completely incompetent, relied upon external consultants.

We found the first problem was that the "consultants" hired had usually read the book the night before, giving them "expert" status in the eyes of the new psycho management teams and our local relevant knowledge was ignored.

We were always found to be right, usually 6 months into the project, which led to a management team led restructure, rendering certain people surplus to requirements!

The management team performance bonus levels went up afterwards as they could now pass the buck.

When I dealt with Central Government, I found they suffered consultants exactly the same way.

In fact watching the pandemic fiasco and the Government advisors, I see it is exactly the same even now.

Everyone cites that 'bugs are 100x more expensive to fix in production' research, but the study might not even exist

Steve B

I was old school and most of the bugs came out during the flowchart breakdown..

On my important projects, I used to flowchart them, then break the flowchart down and down.

I once ended up with a complete 12 ft by 6ft wall covered in a flow chart linked by ribbons.

It highlighted enough issues and so I knew which questions to ask to finish it off.

It caused a panic at the Home Office when I asked the questions as apparently I was months away from finishing the product.

They arranged an emergency meeting with the managers to discuss a new implementation timetable, meanwhile I had finalised the flow chart and typed in the code required all in less than a day.

My boss was well aware of how I worked and took great pleasure, after hearing their put downs about not hiring professional companies and needing months extra etc, when he looked across to me and asked when I would be ready for testing and I stated the booked session in the morning!

Cue lots of red faces when they admitted they had cancelled the sessions thinking we were months away.

It sailed through the testing as well!

Developing in C was the closest thing to that method as one could just create a stub routine and then expand on that later, breaking the code down to cover all possibilities.

The biggest issue with testing is that if an input has to be between 0 and 5, for example, the programmer will work in the presumption that the input is a single digit with largest value 5 and smallest 0, this can cause issues when the input is empty or a non numeric string.

Is this what most of the current windows problems are? buffer overruns.

The fact that data is being allowed to overwrite code is both a hardware and software design flaw that we actually overcame back in the 70s.

When I got to Visual Basic, I found that to be awful as there was very little comprehensive timeline linking.

It was there but hidden in the presentation which meant most new developers didn't have a clue how things actually worked underneath.

This means that most of the bugs found after the product has been released require a redesign, which doesn't happen. So welcome to the US patch city.

The PrintNightmare continues: Microsoft confirms presence of vulnerable code in all versions of Windows

Steve B

Why are the US programmers so bad?

So you want to print on a remote PC printer.

Set up a connection, pipe the data, close the connection.

Simple so where does the requirement for the ability to execute code come into that?

The possibility of the "bug" should never have existed in the first place, just very poor design and even worse programming.

Compsci boffin publishes proof-of-concept code for 54-year-old zero-day in Universal Turing Machine

Steve B

Shows we have lost the plot!

Nearly 50 years ago, our computers would only run precompiled code that had been loaded from a code library.

On top of that, code could only be loaded into memory designated as code memory and data could only go into data memory. Attempting to write data into a code block would cause an exception and halt the program. Attempting to execute data would also create an exception.

All very simple and going well until IBM and Microsoft came along with their high falutin marketing and destroyed IT for decades.

Spy agency GCHQ told me Gmail's more secure than Microsoft 365, insists British MP as facepalming security bods tell him to zip it

Steve B

The good old oxymoron - Government Intelligence.

For the past few years I have not witnessed anything to confirm that intelligent life exists in Parliament or Whitehall, but lots to the contrary

Airline software super-bug: Flight loads miscalculated because women using 'Miss' were treated as children

Steve B

And little did they realise that they probably didn't save money on outsourcing.

Isn't this the fault of the analyst?

Someone had to spec the system and present it to the "client" who would then sign off on the development.

I think the main difference to my day is that we would have tested the software properly before making it live.

They don't seem to be able to do that nowadays.

We did it by intuition, knowing what had to be done to achieve a 100% working solution, rather than scrambling with agility or whatever useless dogma they are currently promoting qualifications in.

You can't replace good programmers with processes and average programmers. The result is not the same.

Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole Council awards reseller a multimillion-pound contract for Microsoft services

Steve B

Oh how times have changed.

Only back in the early 90s, many of the staff from Dorset County Council, Poole Borough and Bournemouth Council used to astound the private sector with their all round knowledge as we did not have enough staff to "specialise" so each to had to become actual experts (rather than paper experts) in several fields at the same time and we often worked together to solve issues.

Private sector interviews used to have questions like " but who provided that service" or that system etc because "you can't possibly do it all as it is not done. You have to get companies in to do that".

I even had one interview where the interviewer turned round and said "but what have you actually been doing as none of the stuff in your CV is done down here".

Back in the day, good council managers used to hire good staff who were often better than them, but could provide the required services. There was a change in the late 80s early 90s when psychometric testing was adopted. From that point on, the management ensured that new employees were less qualified than the manager to ensure there was no threat to their position. During LGR in Dorset there was even a survey to gather every individual's actual qualifications to see who was higher qualified (ready for the purge).

Then came the 90s LGR and the consequent poor management team choices coupled with another more recent LGR, so today, instead of having in house experts working together across Councils to provide a cost effective tailored service, the local councils seem to be tied to inappropriate general software packages which do not provide the required service and meanwhile the in house IT quality has been watered down to rely upon these systems and outside "expert" (usually paper experts) help. And lots of consultants if our local paper is to be believed. I assume PBC (Poole, Bournemouth, Christchurch) has now been similarly inflicted.

Although from their figures, I can't see how an EXTRA £4m on software revenues yearly is going to help with the professed savings that the Council merger was supposed to bring about.

SolarWinds just keeps getting worse: New strain of backdoor malware found in probe

Steve B

And this is different to Huawei how?

At least the Chinese back doors are supposedly coded in by design!

Microsoft sues Florida reseller it alleges sold 'black market access devices' allowing unlocking of Office 365

Steve B

Should never have allowed them to separate the licence from the product.

The Key should be linked to the product and only allowed to be active on the one occasion. I have a couple of products like this.

I can install them on as many PCs as I like, but I have to go to their website to disable a PC to enable another to run it.

Microsoft were allowed to much leeway.

If I buy a software package, I should be able to dictate where and when I use it.

I used to be an Office 2K user because of Outlook, but since a PC crash and the removal of "old" versions of Outlook from MS download site, I am no longer tied so it is now LibreOffice for me.

It's 2020 and a rogue ICMPv6 network packet can pwn your Microsoft Windows machine

Steve B

Driverless cars!

I once ran a test team and took the stance that I was an end user not a clued in techie.

Hardly any of the products passed my tests so after a long "fight" and surprisingly at the urging of the development teams, the company totally changed the testing regime and programs started checking for invalid input which was dealt with before it crashed the systems.

This was the UK back in the 70s.

The other thing the company learnt was that by developing the code in a higher language, it did not preclude the necessity for the best programmers who knew what they were doing.

Along came the Charlie Chaplin advert and the IBM PC and MSDOS resultant world dominance by the U/S even though it was never the best PC and certainly not the best OS.

Here we nearly 40 (yes FORTY!) years later still at major risk from junior programmer level coding errors.

And they want to program driverless vehicles!

The internet becomes trademarkable, sort of, with near-unanimous Supreme Court ruling on Booking.com

Steve B

Is this an open check for the registrars?

The domains are rented for a fee for a defined period.

What is to stop the registrar for that tld upping specific fees so that on renewal it is a couple of hundred or more K per year for Booking.

If it is not renewed it is not a major issue with the registrar but stuffs the company!

Also the company in question do not own the internet or even part of it, so how can they legally trademark something they do not own.

Steve B

I would qualify that as US law, but thinking about it , our lot are now just as bad.

However it is the law makers at fault.

Amazon is saying nothing about the DDoS attack that took down AWS, but others are

Steve B

What has happened to the monitors?

I used to help with a lot of network development and testing, helping quite a few companies to shape their switches and monitors, including some RMON devices.

They used to send me their latest hardware and software to install and beta test.

I moved on from that role to become an international corporate's IT Manager, but installed "non corporate" firewalls and monitors so that I knew what was happening on the network.

Many of the companies I "worked" with have been hoovered up by the bigger players or fallen by the wayside, but there is no excuse really.

If you are responsible for the well being of a major network which has impact upon business viability then you have to install proper monitoring mechanisms to let you know very quickly if a problem develops.

Even then I got fed up with attacks so used reverse DNS and who is to go after the US based ISP.

After the initial "nowt to do wi' us", the support chap realised that he was actually being attacked as well, but it had taken over one of his servers. A quick flurry of activity and problem solved. I later got an email to say that they had many servers susceptible which were in line for take over and they had now decided that instead of sitting back on server patches they were going to instigate a better maintenance schedule to minimise the chances of it happening again.

I did not really appreciate the effect of my monitoring on our companies, until the corporate Finance Controller left to freelance elsewhere. On a keep in touch visit, I was told that they had not realised that big companies still had major IT issues as there had not been any in 4 years with us, but were a constant occurrence in the other companies they had been into.

Parliament IT bods' fail sees server's naked OS exposed to world+dog

Steve B

Re: it's probably

I used to love developing for QDOS.

Police ICT Company kills £500m procurement, no longer wants one box shifter to rule them all

Steve B

Good Idea but never works.

We did that in Local Government. It ended up that if we wanted to buy something specialised we had to do the evaluation and negotiation ourselves, then the vendor would try to get on the supply list so we could actually procure it!

All well and good until other more generalised vendors got into price wars to get the preferred supplier option. This was obliviously at cost to something and if you weren't careful you had to buy the poor offering they were selling.

Meanwhile whilst with the Police, we noticed that every force had their own way of doing things complete with their own supplier and there was no way they were going to change.

Using the central supplier may help shortcut the procurement process, but what is really needed is a "Police team" consisting of the best workers, civilians, admin, audit, and even a few force managers, from multiple forces who have the capability to take the best available processes from each of the forces, tweaking them to suit every force and then amalgamate them into one system, easily paramatised to allow some local customisation, but in general just coming up with one system to put into each force. As it would be the same system, the data would be easily shared and manipulated with little effort as requirements grow.

The development team should be made up from proven in house programmers from the various forces and coopted specialists as required, making sure the expertise stays spread and in house.

It worked for us on a single force scale and we sold software on, but it would never happen now though! Crime Commissioners have to protect their empires.

Skype goes blurry, Office gets a kick in the privacy, and Microsoft takes us back to 1990

Steve B

Microsoft - Quality Assurance Department - Giraffe.

I thought it was a joke, but remembered that when I returned to modern "Quality Assurance" for a US company, I did get a bit of a shock - and the sack!

When we started QA for an UK international computer manufacturer, we improved software quality by unheard of amounts simply by acting as real users.

When I went back into QA I ran the US company induction script as a real QA exercise on their about to be released product which had already passed its own QA with flying colours, I found around 25 deviations, one of which was major.

I was called in by personnel and informed that my job as a QA Test lead did NOT involve finding bugs. My job was to run the scripts and the scripts would log whether there were any bugs or not.

I thought they were taking the P, but I was then informed I was not the sort of person they wanted working there. And they would not even let me back in to get my coat and coffee cup, which were brought out to me.

The daft thing about it was that their new US director had visited the day before to recount to the company that he had spent a few weeks going round the major customers to find out their perception of the product. His findings matched mine exactly and I hadn't left the desk.

Until the companies realise that Quality Assurance is not there to sign off whatever you already have, but should actually work towards improving the quality of the product, things are not going to get better.

If at first, second, third... fourth time you don't succeed, you're Apple: Another appeal lost in $440m net patent war

Steve B

Get rid of Software Patents completely.

Software is just another language like English. It would be a bit Naff if now we are going to be struggling outside the EU, we decided to up our income by taking every other country to court for infringing our language!

Basically the same thing as books and films. What some one says can also be independently authored by someone else to get the same overall story just as in software some ideas are natural follow ons from normal programming practice. That appears to ave been cover nicely by copyright laws so they could be applied as well to software.

IBM/Microsoft between them put the world of computing back 20 or 30 years, the US Patent System will probably kill all software innovation with their pathetic attempts to pander to the US legal system lobby..

Facebook to appeal against ICO fine – says it's a matter of principle not to pay 18 mins' profit

Steve B

Does seem a bit ludicrous.

One supposes that every country on the internet is also lining up fines as their data could have been leaked as well.

Interesting law principle though, being found guilty of just the possibility of a crime relating to bad programming errors.

Microsoft should be quaking along with many network vendors that allow sneaky access to users' data through their less than diligent program testing.

Did Apple get fined in the UK for the fappening etc?

Microsoft yanks the document-destroying Windows 10 October 2018 Update

Steve B

Re: "The guy who wrote the update"

Have to agree. I inspired ICL's Software QA team, but we were so successful, we were disbanded and product reliability took a nose dive again..

A couple of years ago I got a QA lead job in the UK with a leading US backup and restore company, but only lasted a couple of weeks because their flagship product had flawlessly passed its official QA but by running my company induction script as a proper QA exercise against the new product I found several bugs, one potentially serious, I was too new to know if it was or not so raised it with the development team for them to check out.

Cue a trip from HQ personnel and an unbelievable conversation:

"As a QA Lead it was not your job to find and report bugs, the QA Test Lead role is to run the supplied scripts and if there are any bugs, the script will flag them."

"... but I found 20 new bugs"

to which the response was

"You are not the sort of person we want working for *****"

I wasn't even allowed back to my desk to get my coffee cup, someone else had to get it for me.

Back in the 70s, our groundbreaking QA philosophy was that we were "users". As such, it was fairly important that the products worked as documented, but more important was that when we did things wrong they catered for the fact and dealt with it in the correct and safe manner. Even thought we knew more about the product than half the developers, we only used knowledge and traits available to users so if the documentation was wrong - tough - we followed it and the product failed until it was correct. If the user was told not to do something they could easily do because it caused an issue, we would incorporate it to ensure it didn't, because you could guarantee a user would do it at the most inconvenient time.

Back in those days, you had to apply OS patches and software package updates via punched cards and they refused to do a rebuild before submission to QA, so I insisted the exercise included the punching of the cards from when we started not before. Turned the exercise into a bit of a fiasco but as a direct result a new delivery system was devised and a new department formed to ensure the task of applying patches was a smooth infallible operation for the actual users. Job Done!

Product and operating system reliability shot up hundreds of percent.

We put it together in less than 6 months, but after they disbanded us and it all went downhill, the company spent the next decade rediscovering "quality" for the first time!?! And I am not sure they ever reached our level of success.

MS were just starting off then, bit it sounds like they still haven't caught up even 40 years later.

MIMEsweeper maker loses UK High Court patent fight over 15-year-old bulletin board post

Steve B

All Software patents should automatically be invalid.

Software is just a set of instructions to the computer.

Anyone who can code can come up with the same or different instructions to perform the same task.

Therefore as one develops a program, they are all obvious and non patentable.

As with literature and books, there is some merit in look/feel but imagine if someone in the 1920s had got a patent for all stories where the hero is a government agent, fighting to right the wrongs of enemies of the state, which is basically what is being allowed with software patents.

RIP... almost: Brit high street gadget shack Maplin Electronics

Steve B

Re: Well at least

Maybe the batteries last but why clog the spectrum? I used to have arguments like that with Novell, Microsoft and Cisco designers many years ago. Although it looks like there is plenty of "network space" available, there isn't if you clog it with rubbish. Every little bit counts.

Ex-Facebook manager sues biz after getting 'Zucked out of overtime'

Steve B

All depends on how useful you are.

When I worked for a UK County Council, we were "salaried" and therefore expected to work all hours for nothing extra. As we could only do computer maintenance outside normal hours they expected us to work the normal day and then come back to do the maintenance.

On the second occasion I said no, not without pay.

I offered to do the maintenance during normal working hours, but it was their desire that I did it out of hours so I demanded payment.

Cue a meeting with the County Treasurer, Computer Manager and all the long time support team employees at which it was pointed out that it was "our duty" to do whatever was required when required etc., and never in the history of mankind had anything so dastardly been proposed.

One by one they asked the long term employees if they were willing to back down and do the work as requested, to which they all reluctantly agreed.

When it got to me at the end, I just pointed out that they had plenty of volunteers willing to do the task so my answer was still No.

About an hour later the management realised that no one else could actually do it without severe retraining.

We ALL got paid overtime for out of hours work after that!

And I never got a thank you.

Take that, gender pay gap! Atos to offshore hundreds of BBC roles

Steve B

Isn't this illegal?

I thought tendering was supposed to be blind. from the dialogue it is as though this Atos lot KNOW they have to bid lower to beat the others, which implies they know the figures.

As to the solution, can't say I really know any BBC faces, so the fees should be lowered and if the faces don't like it there are now several hundred alternative places for them to seek employment.

The major problem with the equalisation of sexes was that it was done wrong - same as minority equality. People should get a job because they are the best for the role, not because they are the right shape or colour. The reward for the role should be the same whoever gets it. Simple! You now have the best staff for the company, but then the type and shape numbers would not necessarily add up.

As for ourtsourcing to India, one only has to look at BT and their support. I had a simple issue to deal with, but it took something like 12 phone calls to their support line to find someone who understood Queens English AND knew the BT product AND knew what to do. It was a simple request about their Alarm Call service *55*, but one conversation - after 15 minutes went "Have BT installed a special Alarm extension in your house?" My shocked response on the lines of enquiring if she was taking the Michael resulted in the line being dropped and back to square one. btw they were never able to resolve the issue because the problem lay with different BT departments/companies and there was no interaction.

I know the last series of Doctor Who was complete crap but maybe this outsourcing lark included script typing via the IT. that would explain why it never made sense and was non-sequiter from previous series.

Steve B

Re: If there's no TV in the property...

That doesn't seem to apply in Weymouth. Looking through the "In the Courts" section each week shows at the bottom end of the scale for fines, unfortunate folk such as drug dealers, car thieves, Muggers, Burglars, Shoplifters, people with no car licence or insurance. Every week the top of the table is reserved for the heinous people with NO TV LICENCE, with their individual fines higher than the total of the unfortunates below them in the pecking order. And it is not just one or two, tis often columns of them! As far as one can read into it there appears to be no burden of proof required as hardly any of them even know they are in court and so do not attend!

Firefox doesn't need to be No 1 – and that's OK, 'cos it's falling off a cliff

Steve B

Probably more to do with attitude

I remember many years ago, Novell were asked if they were going to change the way their network worked to make it more cooperative with other systems. Their response was " we have the lion's share of the market and therefore are doing it right, so no we will not be changing." That attitude did not serve them so well in the long term. Similarly I had issues with Firefox and got into discussions with the developer community regarding the USPs they were dropping with no good replacement. Their attitude was " we are the best programmers and therefore we know best. Nothing you old people know is relevant to us anymore." From the comments it looks like they have continued on with their cavalier attitude. Firefox hasn't been on my radar for nearly 10 years now and I haven't missed it at all.

One-third of Brit IT projects on track to fail

Steve B

Coincidental with Prince.

I used to use proper project management techniques and all of my projects were delivered on time. Not necessarily when the management were expecting them on their plans but always as I promised from day one on mine. Then along came Prince and Agile to formulate the techniques and to make life easier for useless people to get qualifications. So basically the people who could not create a proper project management plan suddenly became qualified to prove that they could! Failure guaranteed!

Facebook in the dock: Web giant faces trial for allegedly ripping off data center blueprints

Steve B

Re: Typical BRITISH RUBBISH....

We did both OS and Micros and they were much better, but unfortunately the US "stole" another British artifact -Charlie Chaplin, which IBM then used in an advert to convince the easily led that Charlie Chaplin endorsed the IBM PC and MSDOS to make their business great. Brilliant campaign as it worked and plunged the IT world into darkness.

FYI – There's a legal storm brewing in Cali that threatens to destroy online free speech

Steve B

Summed up the real problem with "thousands of dollars"

If the process was cheap and affordable or free for the masses then these judgements would be fought, but while it requires "thousands of dollars" it is limited to the rich, who can therefore get away with anything and also rewrite history. After all they must be right because they are rich.

Obviously there is scope for an internet judge judy or whatever whereby an independent panel of internet users review supposed libel actions and decide whether the "review" goes to far. That would open processes up to the masses who cannot afford litigation in any country,

Why Firefox? Because not everybody is a web designer, silly

Steve B

I loved Firefox when it came out but then they got meglomaniac

There were some fantastic innovations in Firefox which made my research time so much easier and more productive, but then they did the simple thing of removing the singular "active tab" X which up till then had always been i one place allowing you to open loads of tabs from a search engine query and then without moving the mouse to easily discard those which were irrelevant. All thoughts were on content, but suddenly there was the interruption to thought process as you now located the new "relevant" X position and clicked it, then you could get back to whatever? Many discussions on the developers bug forums evolved into them finally stating that they knew everything and as a long time IT professional ALL my knowledge was now totally irrelevant as it had been superseded and they were geniuses! No surprise they have dug themselves into a hole. I switched to OPERA and am still one of the few.

UK's 'homebrew firmware' Chinooks set to be usable a mere 16 years late

Steve B

Supposedly couldnt fly by instruments.

Was it one of those that crashed in foggy Scotland and despite all IT advice and knowledge the MOD blamed pilot error for the first decade or so!

Netflix investor sues vid giant for 'covering up' subscriber stats stumble

Steve B

Amazing part of US business practice. Destroy the company you invest in at every op.

Worked for a couple of US companies where the US shareholders destroyed the companies by suing for extra dividends rather than allowing the companies to invest in R & D. Net result: The now non competitive companies had to sell to get capital to survive. Which bits sell - yes, the profitable bits leaving the companies with the bits that no one wants or aren't profitable. Pretty soon nothing left of either company. But happy investors!

81's 99 in 17: Still a lotta love for the TI‑99/4A – TI's forgotten classic

Steve B

Great architecture but lousy design.

We had a development system for the 9900 and just using 2K of program and 16K of RAM, I built a comms controller linking 8 screen based terminals and 4 printers to the ICL mainframes allowing us to use cheap dumb terminals saving tens of thousands per set up. We took the 99/4 onboard as a cheap device for our remote offices, but when we closely examined the architecture, we found that the memory was accessed through the video controller and not directly which made it a no no for serious development, ie replacing the operating system with my own! Instead we built our own rs232 interfaces and wrote basic programs which allowed the remote offices to input and edit their payroll data, sending it automatically to the mainframe and receiving and printing the processed response. The limitation was the use of cassette tape. I Still remember my first demo, suitably impressing the ladies in the remote office. Taking everything back to scratch and saying "right, your turn" showed the uphill task when the boss lady tried to force the cassette into the player whilst still in its case as they had not come across these new fangled cassette tapes before!

College fires IT admin, loses access to Google email, successfully sues IT admin for $250,000

Steve B

It is not so much the companies as the idiot management.

Our owner closed the offices and transferred everything back to his old company. I did many proper handovers with everything well scheduled, but at the end they decided they knew better and came to visit me for a recap. As I said goodbye, see you next week, the chap, very embarrassed, stated that he was there to lock me out of the building as the managemnt had decided I was being terminated early. Fair enough, but a couple of weeks later when they had parcelled everything up and moved it, they could not figure out how it went together and which PC was which for development, production databases etc. I was offered minimum wage and petrol money to commute 100 miles each way for a week to sort it out for them. I told them the password - which they already knew- and left it at that.

Google Pixel pwned in 60 seconds

Steve B

Caused major problems with one UK manufacturer by testing the software!

Moved into testing with no real experience and was told these are the working commands write tests to prove they are OK. I got it wrong and crashed the system so I decided that as a user should not be able to crash the system, I would include it in the testing and then failed the product for release.

Next time round the entire company changed their stance on testing and it was no longer a pain that had to be endured but a useful exercise they all bought into. Quality of product shot up and stayed there for years.

The basic problem with todays programmers is that they are lazy assuming this or that environment or compiler is handling all the exceptions magically so they don't need to. That is if they even know what an exception is!

Quest celebrates first day of independence from Dell with layoffs

Steve B

They've not changed then.

Worked for them in QA for a very short while but I made the mistake of running my induction exercise as a proper Quality Assurance exercise against their new update. I was then laid off BECAUSE I found bugs in the "about to be released" product, where their official testing found none. Quote from personnel: "You are not employed to find bugs, you have to follow the script and it will log if there is a bug." My reply that I found over 20 product deviations was immediately countered with "We have decided you are not the sort of person we want working here" and I was not even allowed back into the office to get my coffee cup off my desk. Karma is a bitch sometimes.

Two Sundays wrecked by boss who couldn't use a calendar

Steve B

twice that occured

Two companies tried the old "this is part of your salaried job so you work all out of hours for free" My response was if it part of my job I will do it normal hours.Big meeting called and all the original staff stated that they could see the employers point of view and that they would willingly do it. It got to me and I just said " OK you have enough volunteers now, you don't need me." and walked out. That was when they realised they did. We all got paid right through.

Cali bloke accused of illegally trousering $68k using mom's Apple AuthenTec gobble tip-off

Steve B

What is the issue?

A chap's brother has a long meeting with Apple, doesn't take much to assume something is happening.

So what if he bought some shares in the hope a deal goes through, not exactly earth shattering sums, and he has probably run out of successful brothers now so little chance of a repeat. It is the rip off merchants who went Sell, sell, sell on news of brexit, just to force the market prices down so they could buy them back cheaply and make a much bigger (virtual) profit that these officials should be chasing and sorting out, not a chap who backed his brother.

PayPal freezes 400-job expansion in North Carolina over bonkers religious freedom law

Steve B

Non Issue

I went to Belgium in the 60s on a school trip with my Mum. Her school was a girl's school so my little brother and I were the only males.

One night we went to a "cafe" and had to use the toilet, which was hilarious as it was a mixed sex with urinals on the way in. Very embarassing for my brother and I but great fun for the older girls, nightmare for my Mum who was trying to keep them under control.

But if they have been sharing toilets in Europe for 50 odd years with no problems, is there really an issue?

ISPs: UK.gov should pay full costs of Snooper's Charter hardware

Steve B

I remember the government's y2k fearmongering fiasco.

At an interview I was asked to spec a y2k test for a piece of network equipment. I stated that I could not actually understand the requirement in terms of that type of device. When it was further explained, I replied with "someone is pulling your leg on this. If that was a valid scenario, the equipment wouldn't work at all let alone in 2000 so you can save half your planned testing." Turned out the chap was the external consultant in charge of the project and I had just halved his potential earnings as well as pointed out his lack of knowledge. I didn't get the job... But no doubt he and his ilk are now advising the government on IT matters such as this, working from the strength of their ignorance

It's nearly 2016, and Windows DNS servers can be pwned remotely

Steve B

Always said MS and IBM put computing back decades. Still seems to be a problem.

In the 70s our English OS would not let code be changed on the fly as quite honestly there is no justification.

The data could be changed but it was loaded into different program segments so there was no interaction on corrupt data. Various levels of kernel were afforded protection and user code running at higher levels could not interfere with the lower levels - the program just bombed out.

Unfortunately the US had better marketing skills and flooded the world with substandard IT.

Don't panic. Stupid smart meters are still 50 years away

Steve B

We had the North American Market covered.

However our devices, which attached to existing meters (gas,water and electric) and transmitted the data over low power RF to either fixed network receivers or meter readers passing by on foot or in a vehicle, were excluded from the Smartmeter project by the Labour government as only integral solutions were considered. Our owner decided that if he had no UK business prospects he didn't need UK staff so shut us down.

What a pity: Rollout of hated UK smart meters delayed again

Steve B

The concept was good until the Government got into it!

Automatic Meter Reading is big in the US, but our Add Ons, which utilised existing meters, were disqualified by the UK government of the time as a complete integrated Meter was their only acceptable option. In the US there are large towns with one meter reader nipping round once a month to read every meter, at speeds of up to 50 mph.

There was a fixed network option and more in development, but with no UK business prospect the owner shut down the UK office.

What the UK government has done to the utilities makes the implementation very costly until they improve aspects. There was talk about different suppliers having different smart meters, requiring a new meter change with every supplier switch.. Absolutely ridiculous. The protocol should be the same so that one electricity meter will do for all companies, one gas meter should do for all companies and one water meter should do for all companies. In fact there is no reason why it should not do for all three; ours used to.

If they can't get that right they should stop the Smart Meter project now. If they need help I am available as I have been since being made redundant back in 2007! when this raised it's head seven long years ago.

Apart from that, the main benefit of the meter is for the supplier, not the customer, and therefore the cost should be borne at source possibly by a government tax levied on suppliers so they can't shirk their responsibility.

Apple blacklists tech journo following explicit BENDY iPhone vid

Steve B

Isn't this the new Flex iPhone

I've been out of it for a while, but I felt sure the new one was called the Flexiphone.

Stone the crows, Bouncer! BT defends TV recorder upgrade DELETION snafu

Steve B

So these lock ups are an enhancement then?

Watching BT Vision, we used to use the 30 second jump or -10 second jump button all the time. Now for much of the time it just displays the +30sec logo and does nothing, then, all of a sudden will shoot forward many jumps. Going backward is worse; by the time the -10 seconds kick in it has gone 30 seconds forward already!

The standard turn off at the wall sorts it out for a few hours so it is software orientated.

Steve B

Re: Typical

Used phone and internet to record a program remotely on my Sky- it automatically set it up for the HD channels, which I don't subscribe to but I did get an hour to read the message giving me information on the upgrade required.

Speaking of SKY does anyone know why fast speed play is unwatchable, is it as I suspect just down to bad programming or is it inherent in the digital switch.

Before HD I used to watch programs at 6* speed, sometimes faster if a race had turned into a procession. Now any multiple speed just causes jumps - no smooth progression, even though I still watch the SD channels.

94% of Brit tech bosses just can't get the staff these days, claims bank

Steve B

Skills shortage is at the hiring end.

I was made redundant when the UK part of the company closed but I am "too old" for IT employment forcing me to drive a taxi to get some income.

I did, for a while, hold a QA role but made the mistake of running the job induction script as a proper QA exercise against the product which was in official QA. Results - official QA clear; my exercise over 20 minor product deviations and one possibly major bug.

I was called in by personnel and told that my job was not to look for bugs. to quote "The test scripts should be run and they would log a message if there was a bug".

We parted company as I would not compromise.

Other jobs I have been for I have been told I was too good and would be bored and leave in a couple of months - try sitting in a taxi all day for real excitement!

I fulfilled every IT role in the companies I worked for from designing and implementing the company IS and global networks, past day to day IT telephone support of all employees, designed and coded the company websites and applications and even coded the company product firmware.

I am told in interviews that no one can do all that - maybe not at the same time, but it is all so simple I can't understand why everyone doesn't!

The only way is Office: UK Parliament to migrate to Microsoft cloud

Steve B

Money Saving?

If they still have to maintain in house servers with access for the secure stuff, where are there any savings?

It is a hell of a lot cheaper to put on extra disc space in house than it is to also pay extra licences for cloud access products. With the speed of internet connections nowadays it is also trivial to house remotely accessed systems inhouse and well protected.

The only drawback is that someone needs to know what they are doing.

Microsoft investors advised: Sack the guy searching for Ballmer replacement

Steve B

I thought John Thomson was a comedian!

Haven't seen him for ages so it looks like he's moved on.

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