* Posts by tweell

43 posts • joined 30 Apr 2008

Still divided on whether teachers, parents or politicians are to blame

tweell
FAIL

Dad was a science teacher. He told me that 10% of his students were going to learn, whether or not he actually did any teaching. Contrarywise, 10% weren't going to learn, no matter what he did. He pointed out the material to the top 10%, kept the bottom 10% from bothering other students, and did his best to explain the lessons to the 80% in the middle.

The self starters will do fine with distance learning. The losers are actually easier to deal with when distance learning, as they have less ability to cause trouble. However, the children that can learn but have a few problems are much harder to help and have more distractions with distance learning. In person, a teacher can see the blank looks and modify their presentation accordingly, that's a lot harder to do when you have little faces (or more often just a blank spot with an identifier) to go on. Minimal feedback = poor outcome, in classroom or electronic circuit.

A teacher I know does special needs kids. Her students were utterly unable to handle distance learning, and have regressed for the most part. It's hard enough for her to get progress in person, doing it long distance was simply impossible.

So the data centre's 'getting a little hot' – at 57°C, that's quite the understatement

tweell
Coat

Power outages, UPS's and overheating

My team had just finished upgrading a remote (as in >200 miles away) site. We'd pulled fiber and cat5e, changed out their analog phone system for VoIP and installed two shiny new server racks, complete with a very nice UPS. A week later, there were screams of rage from them and demands for my still beating heart as a sacrifice.

The site had had a long term power outage. After an hour on battery, the phone system along with the rest of the servers had gone down. This was unacceptable! Heads will roll! As the head of the team, I was called on the carpet.

Brought into the Star Chamber, I mustered my feeble defenses. I had designed the UPS setup to last an hour, and it had done so. I had not been given the budget to do more, and (heresy!) did not believe that it made sense to provide more battery backup. You see, there was a large emergency diesel generator that was supposed to kick on automatically when grid power went down, and it had not done so. Also, my servers had shut down from overtemperature, not power, after running an hour with no cooling in the tiny closet deemed appropriate to install them.

Well, that wasn't good enough for these great men. They demanded that I reprovision the system for 4 hours - nay, 8! When I pointed out that the system would still shut down in an hour, I was told to put that air conditioning system on the UPS as well. My laughter at this point was not appreciated. I was told to go and get a quote for this, to provide to the board tomorrow.

They weren't happy with the quote. I helpfully stated that there would need to be some building modifications in order to host this new battery room, and that they'd need to talk to someone qualified to provide that information. As an addendum, I noted the price of a replacement diesel generator, and that it was 25% of the cost of the battery extravaganza.

The incident was not spoken of again. I understand that the generator was overhauled and tested regularly afterwards. My rise in that organization came to a halt. Thou shalt not laugh at thine superiors, nor shalt thee make them look like fools, and I had violated those commandments. It was just that I've never had anyone demand a battery backup for a 5 ton A/C unit before (or since).

Hungover Brits declare full English breakfast the solution to all their ills

tweell
Pint

Technology - use it!

The hangover cure that has never failed: IV of Ringer's or saline, along with breathing pure O2. Expensive, certainly, but you won't be hungover. Much cheaper if you have a friend that does ambulance duty.

The future is now, old man: Let the young guns show how to properly cock things up

tweell
Pirate

Blamed for phone system hack, survived the bus

There was a time when I was nominally responsible for multiple site phone systems. When I started, these were Nortel PBXs, some in place for upwards of 20 years. No one had any Nortel training, and the documentation was... spotty. These were robust systems, but nothing lasts forever, and getting parts was becoming difficult. My CIO didn't want to spend his training budget on Nortel classes, so all I had to go on were notes by predecessors.

So, a monthly phone bill from one of the smaller sites suddenly rose from well under $1k to over $40k. Someone had called into the PBX remote service line, taken control and had made a lot of calls to Hong Kong and Singapore. I was promptly thrown under the bus for allowing this to happen. The CIO figured that making me the scapegoat would take the heat off him, and happily told the Finance VP that I was to blame.

Alas for him, I had my CV and my emails showing he'd denied me Nortel training (or even software manuals). I had had no Nortel experience prior, he'd picked me to expand the network and switch everyone to VoIP. That CIO was nothing if not a skilled politician. He switched gears instantly when he realized that he'd go down with me, and managed to use the hack to get the VoIP project budget increased. That kept me and my mates busy for years.

My fix for the Nortel hack problem was incredibly low tech, as the systems really didn't have security in mind when made. I disconnected every remote service line, marking it very clearly. The few times I had to access those beasts remotely, I'd call up the local tech (or power user) and have them plug that line in, then call to have it disconnected again afterwards. No, I never did go to Nortel class, but finally got a programming manual, which I gratefully binned along with the last Nortel PBX.

Your private data has been nabbed: Please update your life as soon as possible while we deflect responsibility

tweell

Close encounter of the Turd kind

An establishment that I worked at had an issue with an aggressive homeless guy. He solicited for charity (well, charity towards him) in front of their premises, and they had him evicted. In revenge, this gentleman would crap on the front step, then wipe with the building corner.

As the lowest on the pecking order, I was the fellow who got to clean up the daily mess. After a few days, I appealed to my boss. He thought for a while, then asked me to show him where the wiping occurred. He brought out a container of pepper spray gel, and used it up on that corner.

The next morning was the last morning that I had the shit duty. I miss that boss, he was a good one.

Don't be a fool, cover your tool: How IBM's mighty XT keyboard was felled by toxic atmosphere of the '80s

tweell

Keyboard condom user

Back 30 years, I worked in a battery factory. There was an electroplating station that was run by an IBM XT. The keyboard was supposedly chemical resistant (and cost $300) but would regularly have to be replaced. A standard XT keyboard would only last a few days before failing, which makes sense considering people wore MOPP 4 gear to work there. Ordered to 'make it work, and don't buy anything expensive' I taped a clear garbage bag around the next XT keyboard, which lasted until the keyboard cover came in. I caulked around that cover, got a few more, and that is how the place ran until I left.

Remember that day in 2020 when you were asked to get the business working from home – by tomorrow?

tweell
Windows

Citrix workspace reversal

As an IT contractor at Unnamed US state agency, we were going to be shutting down the Citrix server as a 'cost-cutting measure'. Us field monkeys were screaming at management that this was a very bad idea, that we needed to renew the software and buy more licenses, Right Effing NOW! When told to carry on, we somehow had other problems and projects of higher priority, and kept the agency's remote access setup as it was.

Come March, the CIO suddenly got a clue. "We need to expand our existing remote access solution!" "You mean the one you ordered to be disposed of?" "I did no such..." (silly wabbit, we IT guys always Always have a CYA folder). "Well, make it work for 5k users!"

So, repurposing some hardware and hurriedly collecting the PC's that were going to go to auction as surplus, we made it happen, more or less. A remote access image for that old hardware and off they went to our new remote users at their homes. More management edicts ignored (PC transfer only, no keyboards, mice or monitors? Riiiight.) Lots of handholding over the phone, and some surreptious home visits for VIPs, as we were not supposed to do those, but...

Now we're clearing out some leased office buildings, those aren't going to be used any longer. Citrix isn't getting hammered like it was, the remote access setup has the bugs worked out, and I haven't gotten that sweet overtime pay for quite a while.

DBA heroes don't always wear capes. Sometimes they just have a bunch of forgotten permissions

tweell
Pirate

Sometimes you just have to

Gov't agency had multiple Cisco VoIP systems that a contractor was supposed to be converting into a single system, One Ring to Rule Them All being back in fashion. The problem was that the contractor was shiite when it came to their technical skillset, as opposed to their world class VIP bribing skillz. I had been the field manager for all of those multiple VoIP systems when we installed them, but had since gone away from Cisco and let those certs expire.

Seeing the impending doom approaching, I tried to point out problems and provide some guidance, but since I no longer was certified, they ignored my warnings. I then used my unrevoked access to copy all router and switch configurations for every system, and made full backups of the VoIP servers I'd set up.

Moving Day happened, the contractor switched everything over, and nothing worked. The contractor's techs went spastic, the agency's phones stayed off-line, and all was chaos. They hadn't set up a way to back out of the 'upgrade' (one of the problems I'd noted) and weren't able to make their setup go live for more than one site. At that point I got in touch with the CIO and his boss the deputy director, and asked them if we were allowed to return to the previous setup. Some calls to my fellow site techs later, we had the old VoIP servers restoring and I reverted router and then switch configurations as well. At the end of a rather long day, everything was back up.

The contractor did their best to claim that I sabotaged them, and my network access was revoked. The CIO agreed with the contractor, but it turned out that the deputy director had not gotten any dosh from them, and was not having any. The contractor was turfed out and the CIO 'left to pursue other opportunities'. I stayed on as a site tech but took early retirement soon afterwards, as was 'recommended'. As we know, no good deed goes unpunished, this goes double for government work.

Cats: Not a fan favourite when the critters are draped around an office packed with tech

tweell
Flame

Cat + carpet +PC = fire

A sometime client of the dodgy bandwidth reseller I worked for called and complained that their system had burned up. We'd sold them a 'whole package' - the company had us bodge together PC's when we weren't out on calls and sold them at a steep markup - so I went out to see what was up. They sold carpet remnants, and the owner had a cat who would sleep on top of the mini-desktop. The lint and fur had filled the PC's innards and it eventually caught on fire.

Yeah, it was totally fried. Baked, toasted, it was an ex-PC. The owner demanded that I repair it Right Now, and did not appreciate my telling them that it was well beyond repair. She waved a paper at me and said that she would sue if I didn't make it work "and there better not be any data missing!" I took pictures, referred her to my boss and GTFO. Caught a reprimand for that one, for poor customer service.

HP bows to pressure, reinstates free monthly ink plan... for existing customers

tweell
Thumb Up

Not eager to get a HP printer

I'm keeping my Samsung all-in-one laser, thanks. It takes generic cartridges and likes them.

A 1970s magic trick: Take a card, any card, out of the deck and watch the IBM System/370 plunge into a death spiral

tweell
Facepalm

Infinite loops take down everything, even Netware 3.11

Back 30 years, I worked for Acme as a lab tech. The site had a Netware 3.11 server and Pegasus email, which somehow fell to me to take care of. Usually this was not a problem, as Netware 3.11 was practically unborkable. Then we got a shiny new engineer...

The SNE was unhappy that Pegasus only periodically refreshed, he wanted to see every email as it hit his very empty in-box. So he wrote a little program in DOS Basic 'that would check faster'. I got called when the server stopped printing and sharing files, and noted the CPU was at 100%. The SNE came up at that point and complained that his PC had locked up. Aha! Rebooted his machine, extracted a confession and a promise to never do that sort of thing again.

Who knew that hosing a table with copious amounts of cubic metres would trip adult filters?

tweell

US Navy acronym soup

Military loves acronyms, US Navy even more so. The brass decided to take the first four Ohio class ballistic missile submarines and replace the ICBMs with cruise missiles. So, the Ohio, Michigan, Florida and Georgia submarines got 154 cruise missiles each. I'm told that watching a sub refit for OMFG do a deck launch is indeed awe inspiring.

Panic in the mailroom: The perils of an operating system too smart for its own good

tweell
Pint

Negative Billing

My parents had their gas disconnected, as they had replaced their hot water heater with a fancy solar/electric setup (that died two years later, but that's another story). The gas company provided an 'estimated' bill to cover the use for that portion of the month. That was paid, but it didn't cover the true amount, so another bill was issued, along with a fine for not paying their bill in full. Dad went a few rounds with phone support and lost by TKO - he decided that it was too much effort for a small amount of money.

So, he sent them a cheque that was 14 cents over. I asked why, and he said that it was the amount he'd supposedly underpaid, so he was making sure it got paid in full along with their fine. What actually happened was that my parents started getting a bill for -.14 every month from the gas company. Dad would look at it, chuckle, and toss it in the bin. "Aren't you going to tell them about the negative bill, Dad?" "No, they'd figure out a way to make this my fault and start charging me again."

Beer icon for my Dad. Miss you.

HP: That print-free-for-life deal we promised you? Well, now it's pay-per-month to continue using your printer ink

tweell

Sir Pterry sayeth

“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”

The day I took down the data centre- I mean, the day I saved the day. Right, boss?

tweell
FAIL

''Router Testing'

As a shiny new CCNA I was trying to figure out why the main WAN router was slow, and input the debug all command. To Cisco's credit they do come back with "This may severely impact network performance. Continue? (yes/no)" and of course I typed Y. The router hung, refused any more commands, and I had to give it a power cycle. OOPS!

It turned out that the telco was having problems (backhoe took out a fiber bundle), but their first step is to lie about it. 'Problem? What problem? Must be on your end.'

Two lessons learned that day. First, don't trust telco NOC's. Second, don't do a debug all command!

The engineer lurking behind the curtain: Musical monitors on a meagre IT budget

tweell

Sound also works

I've had to move PC's around for productivity reasons and found that sound can make an impression. You have to know your users, because perceptions differ.

To move a PC from sales to a struggling CAD engineer, I tweaked the fan settings on the sales PC to always run at high speed. This made the sales manager unhappy with his PC and open to changing it out. I had a bit of a budget, and bought a used sound card and speakers. After cleaning the speakers and installing the sound card in the 486SX-25 trying and failing to be a CAD PC, I swapped devices.

The sales manager was happy. He had a quiet PC that could play music! The engineer was happy. He had a 486DX2-66 that could actually run AutoCAD! I suggested that I change the fan settings back to normal, but my engineer asked me to leave them alone. The scream of fans suggested to all that he was hard at work, and his boss was impressed.

Former antivirus baron John McAfee collared, faces extradition to America on tax evasion, securities allegations

tweell

McAfee didn't pay accountants

McAfee thought he could get away without paying accountants. There's the problem right there.

Trump can pay little to no taxes because he pays Gandalf level accountants to do his taxes. The wizards cast Asset Invisibility and hide the wealth.

For us little people, it's cheaper to pay the tax man than pay the accountant. We don't have enough in the way of assets to hide, let alone pay wizards to cloak.

You will pay, one way or another. McAfee tried to avoid paying.

There ain't no problem that can't be solved with the help of American horsepower – even yanking on a coax cable

tweell

Pulling fiber with truck

A large site I was given responsibility for had just been connected at great expense with multimode and single mode fiber to every building. I was given the task of upgrading the data and comms from the old thicknet hubs and Cat3 Nortel phones to gigabit switches and VoIP. No problem, said I, and bought a lot of Cisco kit.

When it came time to connect those new switches, the fiber links were shite. I quickly found the test readings provided by the contractor had no connection to reality. I asked a maintenance buddy who'd been there while the fiber was installed, and he told me the company had pulled the cabling with a truck. They only had three guys for the job and quickly fell behind schedule. After their powered spool went TU, they used their vehicle to pull the fiber. Adding insult to injury, over half of the ends were bad as well.

The company boss had gotten a liking to Bolivian marching powder, so all the profits went up his nose and the company declared bankruptcy right as I found out how we'd been shafted. I got my boss to fork out for a scope, fiber end kit and tester, then spent a month replacing bad ends and testing. We eventually managed to find enough good strands to make things work.

I got a new job after that, as the Big Boss didn't trust contractors any more. Until he retired, I ran a team that put in every wire and fiber we needed.

BOFH: Bye desktop, bye desk. Hello 'slab and a beanbag on the floor

tweell
Alert

I dunno

Asbestos=old and busted. Mold=new hotness. Can't rely on dummy mode forever, Simon! Well, maybe you can, but us mortals can't.

Yay, we got a B for maths. Literally, a bee: Little nosy nectar nerds smart enough to add, abstract numbers

tweell
Thumb Up

Re: Hex Lives!

Hex later added a beehive for memory storage, so is fully compatible!

Introducing 'Happy Quit', where Chinese smokers are text-spammed into nicotine abstinence

tweell
Flame

Not much to brag about

6.5% success rate at 6 weeks? Color me unimpressed, given that nicotine patches, Chantix and such cluster around 25% success at 6 months.

Fire because, well smoke.

Prenda lawyer pleads guilty to moneyshot honeypot scheme

tweell

One of the 98% that give the 2% a bad name

Hansmeier declared bankruptcy a day before his court date for contempt - for not paying his fines and damages from the Prenda scheme. Since Prenda went down in flames, Hansmeier has been suing small businesses on behalf of a handicapped non-profit he started and runs. Since his law license has been suspended, he's put his lawyer wife to work fronting those lawsuits. Such a nice guy!

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

tweell

Bigger UPS needed

I had a remote site that went off-line when the power there was off for an extended period of time, their diesel generator didn't work and the UPS batteries finally ran out. The supervisor there sent an email to all blasting me for having provided a UPS that only ran for an hour before quitting. He demanded a minimum of four hours run time for the UPS. When I pointed out that the equipment was shutting down from overheat at an hour, he demanded that the UPS run the server room A/C as well.

A UPS that could handle that load for that long was more expensive than a new diesel generator, and would need a building of its own to reside in. When that supervisor continued his demands, we went to upper management and laid out the situation. It turned out that the supervisor was supposed to pay for the diesel maintenance and testing, while IT would have to pay for the UPS. Happy ending, as the supervisor got retired instead of promoted.

Prisoners built two PCs from parts, hid them in ceiling, connected to the state's network and did cybershenanigans

tweell

The inmates put together and tested 2 working machines in the salvage area, then moved them to the lab under a pile of rags and garbage in a cleaning cart. They then had an unsupervised afternoon to hook them up, get power to them and set them up for remote access. The IG report is full of FAIL, no one (but the inmates) comes off as being even marginally competent.

Lindsay Lohan's Grand Theft Auto V cartoon case kicked out of court

tweell

/emo kid

Channeling Chris Crocker...

Leave Lindsey Alone Please!

Leave Lindsey Lohan alone!�right now!�.I mean it.!

Anyone that has a problem with her you deal with me, because she is not well right now.

LEAVE HER ALONE!

Some Windows 10 Anniversary Update: SSD freeze

tweell

My work loves M$, so I loaded winX on my home PC to keep up. WinX is faster on my PC than 7 was, so that's nice. It hasn't had a problem with the SSD, but every time an update visits, the Intel network card on the mobo quits. Remove in device manager, search for new hardware and it's back to work.

FBI won't jail future US president over private email server

tweell

No reasonable prosecutor would bring charges. True - reasonable prosecutors worry about their families and their own mortality.

Terrified robots will take middle class jobs? Look in a mirror

tweell

I for one welcome our new AI overlords - gotta be better than the clueless VIP's currently in charge!

Well, what d'you know: Raising e-book prices doesn't raise sales

tweell

Personally, I will not pay much for an ebook. There's no resale value, they are often tied to various readers that fail with regularity, and they're cheaper to provide than dead tree versions. It's entertainment, and so gets funded only after everything else is paid for. If it's a series I'm following or an author I like, I can still wait for a sale, get a used book or read a copy from the library.

Since I discovered the Gutenberg website, I'm never without good books I haven't read yet. If you run out of good books from there, your interests have to be very narrow indeed. And you can't beat the price!

I cannae dae it, cap'n! Why I had to quit the madness of frontline IT

tweell

And then

Add a yearly requirement of 35% of the initial project cost for upgrades and repairs. Do not under any circumstances go below 20% when dickering with the accounting trolls. At that point, have them zero out the upkeep budget for that project, call it a legacy system and refuse to support it.

Sun lets loose with THREE record eruptions in 24 hours

tweell

BOFH excuse of the day

I'll have to add coronal mass ejection to the excuse clipboard. It's like sunspots, only sciencier.

Judge hands copyright troll an epic smack-down

tweell

Prenda Law has ceased to be

Judge Wright's sanctions 'calculated to be just below the cost of a decent defense' was a nice touch. He sent his judgement to every judge hearing a Prenda Law case in the USA, the bar associations, RICO (we can confiscate your car, house, bank account) and IRS CID. The Spanish Inquisition, etc. have nothing on IRS CID.

Prenda Law is dead, finito, an ex law firm. It's pinin' for the fjords (or any country without an extradition treaty).

Sky boffins: The Moon is not Earth's only natural satellite

tweell

Eleanor Cameron was right

The Mushroom Planet exists!

Whitman accused of hypocrisy over servants

tweell
Paris Hilton

Standard mudslinging

First: The maid works for a service, Meg Whitman hired the service. It's the maid service that is at fault.

Second: The fake ID's were pretty decent. Whitman's no police investigator, let alone a bouncer, so wouldn't know different.

Third: Supposed letter was sent to Whitman in 2003. Lawyer slinging mud claims that she has the letter. How would she get this? Hmm. If you were an illegal housecleaner, bringing in the mail and saw a letter about yourself from the Feds, what would you do?

US demands right to snoop the world

tweell

Hope! Change! Well...

As a US citizen, I recommend that the EU tell my government to shove it. Remember, our allies get the shaft. Better yet, act like an enemy. At that point, our president will bow and beg.

Toshiba Satellite A660 16in laptop

tweell

Overheat problem fixed?

I haven't purchased a Toshiba Satellite in 3 years, the last one I bought would overheat and shut down in 20 minutes. It needed a biscuit fan blowing on it to keep it working, which made it an expensive semiportable desktop. Toshiba wasn't interested in fixing it, so I haven't been interested in giving them more business. Have they gotten better?

Hackers pose as senator in email fraud bid

This post has been deleted by a moderator

The enterprise storage buyer: Why I stick with the big guys

tweell

IBM?

Interesting that the article lists IBM as one of the Tier 1 enterprise storage suppliers, but says nothing about them otherwise.

eBay scammer gets four years

tweell
Thumb Down

Yep, justice prevailed

After 96,000 transactions and three years, that is! The scammers get locked up for a year or two, then retire to the Bahamas. Ebay keeps their rakeoff as well. The folks that bought counterfeit goods, well...

US plans crewless automated ghost-frigates

tweell

These are not the droids you're looking for

Yup, these robotic ships will never ever be remote controlled. And of course they'll be totally unarmed. If you believe those statements, I have some very nice beachfront property in Arizona to sell you.

Drunk sorority girls quaff booze 'to impress boys'

tweell

tech

The mating cry of the blonde - "I am sooo drunk!"

The mating cry of the ugly blonde- "I SAID I am sooo drunk!"

How Warcraft reigned supreme in 2008

tweell

WoW will be hard to take down

I like WoW for the social aspects. There are quite a few members of my family that play WoW - gals and guys both. We can do things alone, together, or just chat. WoW also puts serious skull sweat into making things fun for both the hardcore and the occasional gamer. They celebrate holidays, have carnivals, and don't take themselves too seriously. Blizzard is far from perfect, but they are better than anyone else right now. Eventually they will lose the MMO crown they took from Everquest, but it will take major screwups from them as well as a better game available. Just having a better game will not be enough to take their market share away.

US Department of Justice banned from Wikipedia

tweell

As Wiki slips below the waves...

So Wikipedia sinks further into irrelevance. Who is dumb enough to use it as a reference source, anyways?

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