* Posts by Tim99

1569 posts • joined 24 Apr 2008

Everyone back to the office! Why? Because the decision has been made

Tim99 Silver badge

Re: "The office"

...we are all secondary , support , admin / parasites really BullshitJob:Wikipedia

NOBODY PRINT! Selfless hero saves typing pool from carbon catastrophe

Tim99 Silver badge

Re: Ah yes...

A very long time ago there were two main types of Civil Servant: Established and non-established. People in Established grades served at "Her Majesty Pleasure" and were normally considered very difficult to remove (except for things like "Gross moral turpitude"). After about two years I was invited to apply for Establishment and went for an interview at the Commissioners. It was one of the hardest interviews I have ever had. I passed. When I asked my boss why it was so hard, he told me that they were looking for character and not knowledge - "skills can be taught". I realized that one important set of questions that I was asked was to name Capital Cities. I thought it was OK until we got to Mongolia "Ulan Bator", I said; They asked "Inner, or Outer Mongolia?" I told them that I didn't know, but would find out - That was what they were looking for. I believe that if I had obfuscated I would have failed, and if I had known the answer, the questions would have become more obscure until we reached the same point. If anybody cares it was Outer Mongolia (or "Mongolia"), Inner Mongolia is Hohhot.

If an Established Civil Servant was "difficult" one way of dealing with it was to use "Mobile" grading. Almost all Established positions were Mobile, which mean that you could be transferred anywhere. The story was that if you had spent a winter in a hut on Muckle Roe measuring costal currents, hadn't resigned, and had learnt "a lesson" you would be transferred back...

Tim99 Silver badge

Re: Pottering around not doing much

Many years ago the Scientific Civil Service MoD grades had "Special Merit" positions. Typically at PSO (Principal = NATO Rank ~Colonel) or SPSO level (between Colonel and Brigadier) The holder carried on doing what they were good at, and avoided the administrative and managerial tasks that were normal at that level.

Tim99 Silver badge

Re: Hobnobs - invented for mans pleasure

Heretic. The one true path is the original McVitie's Digestive biscuit. I've heard that some have been tempted by false prophets who preach the way of chocolate coatings.

Windows 11 22H2 is almost here. Is it ready for the enterprise?

Tim99 Silver badge

Re: MS dropping peripherals support - AGAIN

I used to purchase a lot of scientific equipment. I noticed that after the Windows 8 debacle some manufacturers stopped using Windows for instrument control. Now many embed a small web server, which can talk to Windows, an iPad, Chrome etc. Typically the generated data is still manipulated by Windows, but is stored in a defined format, with a simple storage and transmission protocol to/from the equipment. I have personal experience of some equipment that never went back into full service after a Windows update borked the network stack causing a catastrophic failure of a high vacuum system.

Airbus flies new passenger airplane aimed at 'long, thin' routes

Tim99 Silver badge

Re: Why

They've moved it back from Darwin to Perth without much notice. Two weeks ago our friends' daughter came back after living in the UK for 5 years. Her BA ticket was for Darwin then Perth - A few days before she was leaving they emailed her to say that the Darwin/Perth flight was cancelled and that they didn't code-share. She went online and found that the direct Perth flight had replaced it, and transferred to that. Looking online the Business Class fare has more than doubled since we did it to $17,700.

Tim99 Silver badge
Happy

Re: try to go to Australia by train...

I agree. I emigrated there from the UK 30 years ago. We want to keep it secret.

Tim99 Silver badge

Re: Why

From nearly egalitarian Perth we don't have First Class flights. We have been cut off from the rest of the Covid world until a few weeks ago, so the last time I bought tickets was Business Class for the nonstop Perth-London 787-9 (7,565 NM) three years ago. Mrs Tim99 and I were on either side of the aisle with our backs to the front bulkhead, just in front of the door. Take-off was 19:00 and after drinks, dinner, watching a movie and reading a book, the nice attendant made up our beds. I put on the supplied PJs and slept for nearly 8 hours. After breakfast we arrived at the LHR gate 17 hrs 20 mins later.

The return flight was similar and took 16hrs 40 mins. We are in our 70s and thought that the trip was worth the money. My rough rule is that if I'm paying, and the flight is more than 4 hrs (from Perth they nearly all are) I go Business Class. I volunteer for an organization that regularly books me on aircraft - They put me on the Perth-Melbourne flight with the same aircraft, but in cattle class at the back. The seats are small and not particularly comfortable with little leg room, I certainly would not like to be in them for 17 hours.

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

Tim99 Silver badge

Re: Brilliant

Isn't that on opinion? Please Reinstall Universe And Reboot.

Record players make comeback with Ikea, others pitching tricked-out turntables

Tim99 Silver badge

Re: It gets more fun...

In my case it was the missus who had the golden ears. She claimed to have little interest, but definitely recognized the good stuff. For a birthday she bought "me" one of the first afromosia Linn LP12s fitted with the neon switch (1975?). Years (and stupid amounts of money) later it was a Trigger’s broom with new power supply, Ittock, and Asak driving Naim 250 etc., into Kans. We had clean records and did not notice clicks and pops. She bought a Nakamichi CD player after a brief audition and bought it home. Obviously we were used to the analogue system and both thought that the CDs she bought sounded weird. The shop took it back (minus a restocking fee). A couple of years later we bought a Naim CD player which was fine. I bought some bigger speakers just before I had a serious RTA that caused some brain and hearing damage. I found that I was no longer able to drive the system, so we sold it along with a thousand LPs, and bought a small all-in-one B&O music system which I could drive through its remote.

These days my hearing is worse, and music comes from a pair of Apple HomePod minis, which seem OK…

How one techie ended up paying the tab on an Apple Macintosh Plus

Tim99 Silver badge
Windows

The Road Ahead

I'm in my dotage now, and this may well not be entirely correct... My wife "obtained" for me one of the very first (trade) copies through our company when we were frantically rewriting much of our software for Windows 95. As I recall, Gates was dismissive of the Internet generally, and didn't see the value of the world wide web. I suspect he thought that Windows 95 and MSN would allow him to create a proprietary version - A bit like an even more locked-down version of AOL. The later Australian Ninemsn Microsoft/Packer-PBL seemed to support that idea. As I recall the internet chapters were hastily rewritten to make it an important feature, but most of us were struggling to get 19-28 kbit/s and so almost everything was still local.

We talked to customers about "Software as a Service" on Xenix/Slackware/Debian that we could host for them, but the slow speeds for most (2400 baud), unreliability, and lack of the owners' control of their own data meant that there was little interest. Apple Macs were too expensive. Customers wanted MS Office - Screen-scraping, RTF files in Word, and CSV imports into Excel was not going to sell...

The next time your program is 'not responding,' (do not) try these steps

Tim99 Silver badge

Re: Cynical

I have a similar outlook on cynicism to that some others have on violence. If it’s not working for you, you need to apply more…

Sick of Windows but can't afford a Mac? Consult our cynic's guide to desktop Linux

Tim99 Silver badge

Re: @ThatOne - Control Your Own Upgrades

I think that you are forgetting that mostly "Average" Window person has IT support - Even if it's daughter/brother/friend/man who comes to house at £100...

Keeping your head as an entire database goes pear-shaped

Tim99 Silver badge
Windows

Re: What could go wrong?

I'm retired. This year, I have successfully got all of our IT down to two iPhones, two iPads and one iMac with some stuff in the cloud. The only content stored locally on the iPhones and iPads has been downloaded from the cloud. The iMac has three 16-day rotated Time Machine backups (one in the firesafe), two monthly rotated Carbon Copy Clones (one off-site), and two monthly rotated file copies of the cloud (one in the firesafe), and one disk with everything copied annually off-site. I replace 1-2 disks a year. Total cost about £1,000.00. Paranoid - Me? No, I I've just been using IT professionally for 51 years...

Tim99 Silver badge
Coat

Re: Backups

I prefer "There are no back-ups, only restores"...

When management went nuclear on an innocent software engineer

Tim99 Silver badge

Re: DEC vs DG

Personal preference here. I used PDP8s/11s and DG Nova 3s/4s/Eclipses for data collection and processing. RDOS, for my stuff, was easier/better than RSX-11. They were all replaced by networked PCs by the mid to late 1980s…

Failed gambler? How about an algorithm that predicts the future

Tim99 Silver badge
Coat

Err…

Isn’t an app programmer just something that turns coffee into code?

Mine has the arabica beans and K&R in the pockets >>=======>

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

Tim99 Silver badge

Re: almost whoops

A very long time ago we were given 2 bathroom cabinets as wedding presents, we only had room for one, so we gave a relative the other. A few days later I went to his house. The new cabinet was mounted on the bathroom wall 15° off vertical. Opening the cabinet door, I could see the heads of what looked like 2 x 4" nails that he had used to secure it to the wall joist, instead of the 4 x 2" screws that were probably required - The cabinet was supplied with 4 countersunk holes.

Voyager 1 space probe producing ‘anomalous telemetry data’

Tim99 Silver badge
Unhappy

Posting as an AC - Classy.

GPL legal battle: Vizio told by judge it will have to answer breach-of-contract claims

Tim99 Silver badge

Re: There Oughta Be a Law

OK, I’m happy with my cheap Hisense TV that Is not connected to the internet; and my Apple TV set-top box connected by HDMI. For viewing, recording and playing back live TV, I can recommend a Silicon Dust HDHomerun multi-head tuner - It needs a computer to record (a Raspberry Pi 4 will do). I now use catch-up to watch most things. The recording software that I use, ChannelsDVR, can run comskip so I don’t see adverts. Sound is a couple of Apple HomePod minis. Done and dusted for £600. If I could have been bothered, I could have used 2 Raspberry Pi’s for the computing, FOSS software, and a sound bar/generic speakers.

Confirmation dialog Groundhog Day: I click OK and it keeps coming back

Tim99 Silver badge

Ethnicity

A customer told me that it was obvious that I was English - I’d used the word "Please" in too many of my dialogue boxes…

Thinnet cables are no match for director's morning workout

Tim99 Silver badge

A personal favourite

A boss with a high level qualification in "proper" engineering (involving blokes with lathes and big hammers) rearranged his office when he was "issued" a personal assistant on his promotion. He decided that he would no longer actually use his IBM AT much, but he still needed it because he was the boss (His new PA had an XT with two floppy drives and no HDD). The PA was assigned the small office next to his. One evening he asked the store-man to move the AT to a brand new workstation desk by the wall. The next morning the PA reported that her XT wasn’t working - She could email and download files from the VAX server, but couldn’t print. After crawling around on the floor looking for disconnected cable everything looked OK. Eventually, it dawned on me that the XT was connected to the VAX via a twisted pair cable, and her very expensive laser printer was connected with 10-2. The only things on her network were her XT, the printer and the AT. The store-man had, of course, removed the network cable with a terminated T-connector, moved the AT, and then plugged the cable back without the T. It was probably just bad luck that the AT wasn’t terminated with the ground connector, as he might have thought that it was important. The T was in the boss’s cleaned ashtray.

I got the boss to sign for a nice CGA colour monitor; told him it would work better on the PA’s XT; swapped the PC’s around, and finished up with a very happy PA who liked her fast HDD, Hercules card and green screen. The boss always turned the XT on in the morning to show off the pretty colours on the user menu, but I don’t think he actually used it. One of the facts of life was that the power of a PC was directly proportional to the seniority of the manager, and inversely proportional to their need for a powerful computer…

RAD Basic – the Visual Basic 7 that never was – releases third alpha

Tim99 Silver badge
Gimp

Re: Xojo

I haven’t used it for a while, but Xojo/REALBasic was OK across OSs, but a bit expensive for multi-platform. It was a go to for Mac Developers (via CrossBasic) who had come from VB6 on Windows.

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

Tim99 Silver badge

Some of us remember a "more civilized" time. My first work phone at MoD was just a handset, base and wire. I picked it up and spoke to a nice lady (who knew my name) and connected me to whomsoever I wanted to speak.

Problems for the Linux kernel NTFS driver as author goes silent

Tim99 Silver badge
Windows

Re: Light on the issue?

A closer translation from the normal is "I fear the Greeks even when they bear gifts".

After developing stuff, including shrink-rap, in an MS environment I thought that might a reasonable assessment. Admittedly from someone who started to make long-term plans for retirement when I looked inside Vista...

Google Docs' AI-powered inclusive writing auto-correct now under fire

Tim99 Silver badge
Coat

IBM: Ethics is a major roadblock to enterprises adopting AI technology

IBM might think that Ethics is a foundry campus in Vermont that they paid someone $1.5 Billion to take off their hands? Apparently it is now fully booked and pumping out as many semiconductors as it can (Vermont Public Radio).

macOS Server discontinued after years on life support

Tim99 Silver badge
Gimp

Useful in its day

I had a client who held his business together with a Mac mini Snow Leopard Server that he bought after several "incidents" with Exchange (on his Small Business Server), and some Windows clients being down for a few days (virus?). He went out and bought some Macs, and I set him up with the Mail and iCal Servers, and CardDAV for office management, I shifted a simple SQL Server database to PostgreSQL, and all was well. We’ve both retired, and our respective businesses are still running - His is now mostly "in the Cloud", but I don’t know whether that’s a cause or effect of the removal of functionality.

Chromebook sales train derails as market reaches saturation

Tim99 Silver badge
Gimp

Re: I was more shocked at how high the numbers are

Possibly? My numbers are probably a bit off for this, but it looks as though Apple will ship 3 times more iPads in the same quarter than the quoted Chromebook sales - Their shipments may well fall fall compared to 1Q last year because of chip supply constraints…

Happy birthday Windows 3.1, aka 'the one that Visual Basic kept crashing on'

Tim99 Silver badge
Windows

I suspect that one reason for the weirdo format was to stop casual users copying them and passing them around like sweeties, I seem to remember that Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95 was pretty expensive, and that your local guru could help out - FDFORMAT ?

Tim99 Silver badge
Windows

Yes, back in the day, when I was testing our installer packages, I set up a multi-boot separately partitioned drive. Copied Windows and Program Files into a backup folder then ran and tested the installer. Then fixed the installer, closed down, started up another copy of Windows, deleted the altered installation folders, copied the backups to their original locations, then rebooted the original partition. Simpler times…

Apple patched critical flaws in macOS Monterey but not in Big Sur nor Catalina

Tim99 Silver badge
Gimp

Re: There is an official update available from Apple

If the driver doesn’t do what you want, it’s possible that Apple CUPS (Common UNIX printing system - cups.org) might work if you don’t need scanning. OpenPrinting lists your printer as supported https://openprinting.github.io/

To enable it, use the terminal command ‘cupsctl WebInterface=yes’, then try ‘man cups’. Then see if you can open http://localhost:631/printers/ in Safari…

Tim99 Silver badge
Gimp

Numbers?

I’m not sure where the 35-40% came from. Statcounter has the number of Catalina users at over 84% worldwide

The march of Macs into the enterprise: Demand is on the increase

Tim99 Silver badge
Joke

Re: Apple don't care for backward compatibility

I think you forgot the joke icon >>=====>

Tim99 Silver badge
Windows

Re: Apple has been Enterprise ready for a while...

Very many years ago when Microsoft was still quite small, and I was sufficiently important to be taken out for a nice lunch by our MS Rep, a colleague asked him “What’s Microsoft’s slogan? IBM’s is THINK. Our "tired and emotional’ Rep said that he didn’t know that they had one, but he remembered that Bill had said "One hundred dollars a year from everyone". I believe it, as that seems to reflect their practices ever since…

Tim99 Silver badge
Gimp

Re: Apple don't care for the enterprise

Maybe some enterprises care for Apple? I posted this here 18 months ago:-

———-

...At the end of 2019 they (IBM) had ~290,000 Apple devices of which ~200,000 use macOS. At the same time they had 383,800 employees, obviously some employees will use more than one device. I have a relative who is a very senior IBM techie who told me that in his (large) part of IBM far more techies use Linux than Windows - He was also of the opinion that a number of IBMers elected to go to Apple rather than move from Windows 7 to 10.

According to IBM, Mac users cost less to support with about 1/3 of the support personnel and are generally happier and more productive.

https://www.zdnet.com/article/ibm-cio-mac-users-perform-better-more-engaged-than-windows-users/

https://www.jamf.com/resources/press-releases/ibm-announces-research-showing-mac-enables-greater-productivity-and-employee-satisfaction-at-ibm/

https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/IBM/ibm/number-of-employees

Tim99 Silver badge
Joke

Re: Workforce Demographics

[Shurley] Linux is UNIX-ish? The Mac is UNIX 03 Certified, Linux ain’t…

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

Tim99 Silver badge

I haven’t done this for a while, but assuming that the system can boot from an external device, and that you only want to zero a local admin password the chntpw utility in the SystemRescue distribution worked well, but it won’t work on an encrypted disk…

Tim99 Silver badge
Devil

Admin access

A long time ago, we had an uppity admin in the public service who told his boss that he was the only one who knew how the main system worked, and that he needed a promotion. There was a very high level meeting where it was decided that this was unacceptable.

I had written said system, was very senior, and was responsible for it throughout the organization. I was asked my opinion. Plans were put in place, and some weeks later I travelled on a Sunday to where the system was. I dumped the data from the files, then reinstalled the system, changed the system password, reassigned the admin to a lower group role, and reloaded the data.

On Monday, everybody in the location was told that their sections were being merged with others, that they should apply for new roles within the revised organization, and that they should continue in their old assignments until further notice. The admin just happened to have started his annual leave on the previous Friday. Funnily enough the admin was the only person who didn’t get a job similar to their previous role. All of the Byzantine rules of dealing with staff were scrupulously followed, and he left later that year.

Yes, if sufficiently provoked, the public service can be at least as bastardly as anywhere…

The first step to data privacy is admitting you have a problem, Google

Tim99 Silver badge
Big Brother

Re: How often do we get to hear "Sorry"......

It’s easier to ask forgiveness than to get permission (Apologies to Grace Hopper, and many others).

In the graveyard of good ideas, how does yours measure up to these?

Tim99 Silver badge
Meh

Re: The porridge in that photo looks a bit odd, don’t you think?

For kalamata, some of us (posh) people prefer the stone in - Removal seems to use rinsing which reduces flavour…

IT outage at Scotland's Heriot-Watt University enters second week

Tim99 Silver badge

It’s a university

What’s so special about Heriot-Watt that they went with their own customized solution?

C: Everyone's favourite programming language isn't a programming language

Tim99 Silver badge
Gimp

Re: I think I have the problem

I'm retired, and given up computing, except with an Apple Mac. The "Terminal" is zsh. I use it a lot...

Tim99 Silver badge
Coat

Re: Annnnd...you completely missed the point of the article

It seems like only a short while ago that academia was teaching Pascal and frowning on goto. I wonder how that turned out?

Tim99 Silver badge

Re: Nothing new, kinda pathetic really

Thank you for the the Vax anecdote. We had a 11/750 for general computing and admin which could get a *bit slow*. Although it seemed fast compared to the DEC PDP-8/11 stuff that I used before then.

One day the main IT bod came over to ask (aggressively/pointedly) why I had just written a case for a DG Nova 4 for data acquisition. He insisted on looking at a raw output oscillograph scan which would be converted into about 500 7 digit numbers (raw centroided peaks). He said that it was easy to do on the 11/750 so I didn't need the Nova 4. He asked what turnaround would be acceptable? It was real-time. How many sets of data? One every 2 seconds for an hour, run 5-6 times a day. I got the Nova 4, but he did argue that a 25 MB 19" rack-mounted Winchester disk was more than we needed, so he sourced 5MB Phoenix drives - I Could fill them in 3 days, 2 months later I got the Winchester drive, which also became too small, but I could dump data off onto tape...

Linux Mint Debian Edition 5 is here

Tim99 Silver badge
Joke

Re: quis procurat ipsos procurates?

Perhaps a Joke icon would have fewer downvotes than the Coat? >>====>

Prototype app outperforms and outlasts outsourced production version

Tim99 Silver badge
Angel

Re: I once used MS Access...

There may be little wrong with MS Access "when used appropriately". I would suggest that the learning curve for writing and deploying reliable systems in Access is both long, and steep.

I have an immodest self-serving post above this one, outlining some MS Access systems. Possibly because I started doing stuff >50 years ago with FORTRAN and Dartmouth BASIC, then built more complex stuff with Rdb, Sybase, Informix, Oracle, etc., on large minis, I’m aware that I may not always have produced some of the fragile overcooked spaghetti that one might expect from some MS Access systems…

Tim99 Silver badge

Re: So

We used to call them "bottom up" systems. They always seemed much more successful than the "top down" stuff that was produced when talking to "Managers”. I learnt to write what looked like two systems (but in reality different menus) - One for the people "doing the work", and one for their bosses (normally lots of reports, and a few fancy templates to allow them to harmlessly squirt static stuff into Excel so they weren’t tempted to "what if" change things).

Tim99 Silver badge
Gimp

Re: 20 year old calculator still running

I’m retired, but volunteer for a couple of organizations - I find writing them complex business/technical systems in Excel using only “Cell Functions” (No VBA Code, Macros, or Hyperlinks) sufficiently challenging to be interesting. If you don’t mind using an Apple environment, their Numbers products are a fast, easy, way to prototype and then export to Excel.

Tim99 Silver badge

Re: Stop Gap

A year or so after yours, we wrote a ‘quick prototype’ in MS Access for a franchisee. The intention was to evaluate what was required, and that production systems would then be built with PowerBuilder or VB/C with an Oracle or POSTGRES backend for some of the other franchises.

After a month of playing with it, the punter asked why they couldn’t use it in production. It took a few days to separate the forms/VBA/reports into a front-end system, put the back-end data onto a server, and build redundancy. It was good for about 50 thousand rows in the main active table and 5 concurrent users. A couple of extra weeks got the back-end replaced by SQL Server 4.2 on NT Workstation. This was the basis of the system taken up by the franchiser and the rest of the franchisees. As their businesses grew, the central franchiser’s server version had scaled to 10s of millions of active rows with a hundred or so distributed users (some with Terminal Services) by the time I had retired. Other systems used MS Small Business Server. The only problem was that we had to persuade the punters that they needed a whopping 8MB of RAM in each client MS Access PC, when they were used to only 4MB. Smaller systems were able to use existing equipment with the central Terminal Services servers.

Many of our systems for the next ten years followed this pattern, with the clients using the runtime versions of Access. They always came in at a fraction of the cost of VB/C or PowerBuilder, and easily integrated with Excel and MS Word. With a proper installation tool, they were stable enough to ship as shrink-wrap - One product is now installed on over 1,500 PCs on many sites across Australia - Most of our support calls (a few a week) were Windows or networking problems…

New Windows 11 build boasts inbox updates and UI tweaks

Tim99 Silver badge
Coat

Re: "The idea, it seems, has never really gone away"

Which particular use scenario can Windows handle better than Linux?

To create excessive spreadsheet jockeying in large moribund organisations?

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