* Posts by Kobus Botes

168 posts • joined 12 May 2008


Windows 11 still doesn't understand our complex lives – and it hurts

Kobus Botes

Re: Browser sessions don't work as you've described

@ady 103, @sictransit

Firefox on Windows also allows one to log on to different Google accounts simultaneously (though my better half had to show me). Disclaimer: I did not try this in Edge (not my machine - I use linux), but Edge is hidden from sight by design.

Steps: Open one account

Click on the Google Account icon (top right corner)

Click on Add another account (this was where I came short when I tried it before; to me Add another account means I want to create another Google account, but there you have it) and enter the other account's credentials.

Job done.

BOFH: Here in my car I feel safest of all. I can listen to you ... It keeps me stable for days

Kobus Botes
Thumb Up

Re: The obverse also applies in some cases


"I wonder who else could have been in that class..."

Not my teacher's roommate, if that was what you were wondering about. He told us the story in 1973 and had been teaching for about ten years by that time.

Another reason was that this was in South Africa, not the UK.

Good story, though.

Kobus Botes

The obverse also applies in some cases

"You never put anything controversial in the first half of the document, when people are alert," I say. "And you never put anything dodgy on the last 2-4 pages."

Our Science and Maths teacher at school told us a story about one of his roommates at university, whose test and exam scores were way above his actual ability in one subject.

Upon asking him how he managed to do so well in that particular subject, his roommate told him that he had heard on good authority that the lecturer only read the first two or three pages and the last two pages of each paper (his roommate did a BA in history or something, so most of the exams and tests consisted of having to write lengthy essays).

So his roommate procured a number of old test and exam papers to see which were the most popular questions, and then proceeded to construct the most eloquent and insightful first three to four pages and ditto for the last two or three of a couple of questions that were (hopefully) bound to be asked. As for the rest, he wrote letters to his mother, or a transcript of a rugby or cricket match commentary, or whatever other drivel he could think of to amuse himself.

Apparently his average for the subject was well over 80%.

Windows 11: Meet the new OS, same as the old OS (or close enough)

Kobus Botes

Re: Windows 10 is fine only for standard systems

Missed the edit deadline:

iTunes recently broke in that it no longer sees the music we ripped from our CD's (it is much more practical to use an iPod to listen to our music during long trips, rather that schlepping a shed-load of CD's along (not to mention the posiibility of losing irreplaceble CD's).

And iTunes have no way of copying one's own music from the iPod to the PC. Aternate solutions offered seems to be dodgy or are on despicable sites like Softonic, hence avoided.

Not sure who to blame, though. Could be Apple as well.

Kobus Botes

Re: Windows 10 is fine only for standard systems

@The Oncoming Scorn

One would have thought that with Microsoft's new-found love of linux goodness, they would have fixed Windows' bad-boy behaviour in trampling all over grub during updates.

We have one laptop in our house that dual-boots with Mageia 8, and almost (if not always) every major update breaks grub, forcing you to repair grub before being able to use the machine again.

The last incidence happened on Saturday when 20H2 landed.

What to do about open source vulnerabilities? Move fast, says Linux Foundation expert

Kobus Botes

Re: The problem with testing

@ Tomato42

..."many programmers are incapable of doing that, especially for code they written"...

That applies to ANYTHING you have written. You do not read WHAT you have written (when checking for errors), but what SHOULD have been written, or what you intended to write, hence missing the error completely.

A substantial part of my first job involved creating (from templates, to be sure, but we had to modify it) legal contracts, where absolutely everything must be correct to avoid possible problems later on. I was fortunate to have had very good mentors and it was drilled into me that reading your own writing (no matter how perfect you thought it was) had to involve the following steps:

Read for spelling mistakes.

Read for grammar mistakes.

Read for logical mistakes.

Read for numbering mistakes (paragraphs/sections).

Read for cross-referencing mistakes (where you refer to something in the same document, e.g. page number, paragraph number, section number, et cetera. These things regularly change).

Read for meaning.

Read for consistency.

Check that your indentation is consistent and correct.

Check your apostrophes (dotting the i's and crossing the t's).

Check your capitalisation.

Let it lie for a day or two (not always possible) and re-read.

Once it is perfect and there are absolutely no errors, give it to a colleague or two to check.

Correct all the errors they found and repeat.

And then, six months down the line when you scan through it, the unseen and unfound errors leap out at you...

Not the most exciting task to be sure, especially if you are under pressure and short of time, but it has to be done. (Bizarrely, I used to enjoy the process once started, despite the initial reluctance to get going, since I am a troubleshooter, really. Troubleshooting is what interests me, not necessarily the subject matter (although it does make it easier and more enjoyable if it involves something that I am interested in as well)).

Spotify to introduce lossless audio streaming: Better sound or inefficient gimmick?

Kobus Botes

Re: Analog kid in a digital world...


"The limiting factor is the equipment it's played on."

In my second year of electronic engineering studies our electronics professor had much to say about that. At the time (late seventies) wow and flutter (or lack thereof) was all the rage and manufacturers of tape recorders/players and turntables usually very prominently quoted how low its products' w&f were. I cannot remember exact figures, but I seem to remember premium products would be in the region of 1-2 %.

The prof's rant was about how we wasted money doing that, as the best and most expensive speakers of the time (Bang & Olufsen comes to mind) could not better 5%. And if I am not mistaken, the human ear cannot do much better in any case (any sound engineers who can weigh in on that?).

Manhunt: 'Armed and dangerous' MIT AI scientist sought by cops probing grad student's gun murder

Kobus Botes

Sentient train tracks?

"...was reported acting suspiciously by train tracks..."

Rise of the Machines!!!

Luckily for us here in South Africa our rail network will never reach sentience!

Not just Microsoft: Auth turns out to be a point of failure for Google's cloud, too

Kobus Botes

GMail out again today...

GMail fell over at least twice today. According to downdetector it was out from 6:48 EST (no info on how long it lasted). When I tried to log on to GMail at 15:30 (GMT + 2), it was unable to connect. Downdetector did not report any problems here at that time and I was able to log on a minute or so later.

Downdetector still shows outages for GMail though, mostly in Western Europe and the UK and the North-Eastern parts of the USA and Canada (Washington to Boston and Chicago to Toronto), plus Florida.

Square Kilometre Array signs off on construction plans – UK last holdout before building phase begins

Kobus Botes


@ Roger Kynaston

No Israelites, I'm afraid (not in an official capacity, though I am sure some individuals may be).

Kobus Botes

Re: I've been hearing about the square kilometer array for so long


MeerKAT has been in operation since July 2016 and has already made some significant discoveries.

It was designed and built as a proof of concept, as well as to serve as a test bed. It will form part of the mid-range antennas of SKA eventually.

Kobus Botes

@ Jellied Eel

...to expand the number/area of the antenna array(s)...

3000 antennas with a base-line of 3000km across southern Africa. See the illustration of the layout on the bottom right of the page.

See also here for more info on SKA participation in Africa.

Kobus Botes

Re: Units?

@ Yes Me

130 PB/y...

The prospectus is old. According to SKA's Fact Sheet they now anticipate 600 PB/y.

The growth in antennas are equally impressive: they plan to ultimately have 250 stations in Australia, with 10 000 low frequency aperture array antennas per station.

Mind-boggling all-over.

To think how impressed I was in my youth with my big plans: I think the ultimate hyper-biggest I could conceive of would probably have amounted to one dish antenna connected to a mini computer (if that).

Help! My printer won't print no matter how much I shout at it!

Kobus Botes

Re: HP

@Admiral Grace Hopper

"...until the LaserJet II died".

I used an LJet II that we bought somewhere in '88/'89. I was supposed to have dumped it, but since there was nothing wrong with it and it was perfectly suited for the little printing I did (plus there were still a couple of new toner cartridges around), I kept it.

It was still chugging along fine when I left the company in 2007.

The only way to get them to stop working (icon) ---------------------------->

0ops. 1,OOO-plus parking fine refunds ordered after drivers typed 'O' instead of '0'

Kobus Botes

Re: And this ladies and gentlemen...

...designed by people who know where they want to go and how to get there...

This happened in South Africa as well. Guidance signs on freeways around cities used to tell you where the next off-ramp goes (i.e. suburb or town, et cetera). Then someone in government decided that that is too easy, so all signs were converted to the street name (or road designation) if it puts you on a road somewhere else.

So where previously you would have seen Welgemoed Bellville Parow at exit 20 on the N1 in Cape Town (going east), you are now confronted with Mike Pienaar Blvd Jip de Jager ln M16. Even for locals, going to a suburb where you do not often venture, it is easy to miss your turn-off.

It's beyond stupid.

Kobus Botes

Re: good grief

And in South Africa it is a mixed bag.

The first number plates had the following format:

Two or three letters followed by numbers (six if it had two letters, else 5). The first letter designated the province, whilst all the letters indicated the origin/town/municipality. Each province had their own scheme of how letters were allocated to places. The Cape Province used population (which makes it quite interesting to see how growth has differed over the years). So Cape Town was CA (still is, but they have stopped recycling old/deregistered numbers, so added CAA, but then ran into trouble when the 99999 numbers were inexplicably used up in less than two years, so they now are contemplating to go to incognito numbers like most of the other provinces now use), Port Elizabeth was CB and so on.

Natal used the town or municipality name. Durban therefore is ND, Pietermaritzburg became NP, Ixopo became NIX, et cetera. The Transvaal and the Orange Free State had their own schemes. I know that the person who set up the rules for the OFS was very unhappy when Sasolburg was proclaimed (it was built specifically to service the coal to oil refinery that was erected in the mid fifties) and someone with a sense of humour designated OIL as the place designator. It stayed OIL.

Somewhere in the seventies the Transvaal had run out of letters and numbers, so they changed the whole province to a computer-generated number that had the format of BBB 000 T (where T indicated Transvaal). No vowels were allowed and Q was also disqualified.

After independence in 1994 and with the four provinces now reorganised into nine, the whole thing changed again. The Western Cape and Natal elected to continue with their old system, whilst the other provinces went with the system that the Transvaal had used. Gauteng therefore became BBB 000 GP, North West BBB 000 NW, and so on.

Gauteng ran out of their 8 million numbers two or three years ago, so they changed to a new format, BB 00 BB GP, which gives them 8 million extra (all old numbers had to change to the new format at the next renewal due).

When personal numbers were allowed the Western Cape went with a WP suffix and Natal with NZ (for KwaZulu/Natal, wich is its new name post 1994). Any combination is allowed, as long as it is not obviously rude. Some rude ones therefore slipped through, as the officials in charge of approval do not necessarily know how to read it. The worst one I saw (on an Audi A4), and the way he drove, made me decide that if ever I was looking for a job and he happened to be an executive at that company, I would not accept it. His number was A4Q2 - WP. (It is of course entirely possible that his second car was an Audi Q2 with Q2A4 - WP, but I would take it as his defence should he be called out on it. It cannot have not been deliberate).

I rather prefer knowing where the car comes from. When I grew up in the sixties, it was customary to flash your headlights at someone from your hometown, if you were travelling far away from home.

You had one job... Just two lines of code, and now the customer's Inventory Master File has bitten the biscuit

Kobus Botes
Paris Hilton

Re: Adding a comment sometimes caused compile failure

@Paul Shirley

"...by throwing multiple errors for each line..."

The PL/1 compiler on the Univac 1100 we used at university in the early eighties did that too. Although I suspect that it had a time or page limit, as it would stop after probably 100 fanfold pages (I used to have lots of scrap paper for mocking up my flowcharts and writing code - in fact, I still have a couple of those in amongst stuff I kept for some reason, but which will be finally get thrown away once I start clearing the shed).

Icon for "Why did I keep it again?

Is it Patch Blues-day for Outlook? Microsoft's email client breaks worldwide, leaves everyone stumped

Kobus Botes

Re: Mmmmmm

Replying to my own post:

Outlook is still a problem - it either times out connecting, or says the server is unreachable.

Downloaded and installed Thunderbird, set it up and mail is flowing.

Kobus Botes


An NGO where I volunteer to support their IT had a number of problems yesterday.....

1). Internet access was flaky/weird. They had limited access in the sense that only a few websites I tried were accessible (FB could be accessed, but not El Reg, for instance). It looked like a DNS problem to me (pinging google.com would display the IP address, but it could either not reach it or it would time out. Other sites would be unknown. I could also not discern any difference between local and foreign sites). I did wonder if it was not perhaps related to the DNS security problem that was patched on Tuesday (https://www.theregister.com/2020/07/15/july_2020_patch_tuesday/) but have no idea what their ISP use.

2). Outlook could not connect to the mail server. That had started on Tuesday already. The Outlook client did not crash, though, on the two machines I checked.

3). Their website was down (completely, meaning that it was not a local problem).

A call to their ISP seemingly got everything up and running (their website was up late afternoon when I checked from home). This morning they (the NGO) sent a message to say that mail was still down.

Makes me wonder if these problems were perhaps related (no idea what mail server they use, though).

We' ll find out tomorrow.

Only true boffins will be able to grasp Blighty's new legal definitions of the humble metre and kilogram

Kobus Botes

Re: £sd

@ Phil O'Sophical

...a 20% increase without any more crisps in the bag...

This reminds me of a joke that did the rounds when we (South Africa) moved to the metric system in '63 (I read it many years later, but can still remember pounds, shillings and pence (plus tickeys - 2 1/2 pennies).

There was this farmer who bitterly complained about how badly he was affected by it, as his farm was now almost twice as far from town, his fuel consumption has gone through the roof, his crops were halved, everything was twice as expensive (R2 to the pound), whilst his farm shrank by 15%. (We used morgen as the unit of area - https://www.convertunits.com/from/morgen+[South+Africa]/to/hectare).

Someone got so fed up with GE fridge DRM – yes, fridge DRM – they made a whole website on how to bypass it

Kobus Botes
Big Brother

Re: Next great idea

@Old Used Programmer

"At the time, the blades were carbon steel and only lasted for a few shaves."

I had a very interesting conversation with someone many years ago (somewhere in the nineties). He worked in an R&D lab for a large company producing razors amongst other things (he was unwilling to say who it was) and according to him a couple of them unofficially experimented with carbon coatings on blades. They managed to produce blades that were super sharp and did not go blunt: at the time of our conversation he was still using the first of the three blades he kept for himself - this was some three to four years later.

Management was less than enthusiastic about these shenanigans (they very enthusiastically gave a presentation and demonstration to senior management, all starry-eyed about the possibilities and market reaction) and ordered them to hand in all samples for destruction. All further research in the same vein was forthwith forbidden to boot.

Most of us are naïve that way. Just look at the history of the Internet and networking. I certainly (in my small involvement in establishing Intrawebs) never considered the malicious ways sharing and linking could be abused, given the bright new future .

ALGOL 60 at 60: The greatest computer language you've never used and grandaddy of the programming family tree

Kobus Botes

Re: .. never used .. ?

Replying to my own post:

Some of my maligned memory cells have taken umbrage at my slanderous suggestion that they are fading as I was just reliably informed that the mini computer was in fact a DEC VAX (brand new at the time).

Second correction: we wrote in assembly, not machine code (although we had to write a couple of small programs in machine code).

Kobus Botes

Re: .. never used .. ?

@ John Thorn

...PL/I (remember that?)...

That takes me back a while. The University where I studied had a Univac 1110 and the second high level language we learned (BASIC being the first) was PL/1 (I still have my PL/1 manual as well as an operating manual for the Univac).

After that came Pascal (the neat thing about it was that the whole syntax fitted on a landscape A4 page).

Assignments meant all-nighters (especially if you left it to the last week) as we only had 16 (I think) punch card machines available. The hierarchy for access to said machines ran from post-graduates (Master's degrees) all the way down to the lowest level, namely first year students.

Then you had to queue for the hopper and wait an hour or more for your job to be printed. Most embarrassing was when you had a loop that did not break out, as you would have to phone down to the computer room and ask for your job to be stopped, as it produced page upon page of errors and that IBM printer was really fast.

Later on we progressed to a mini computer (ISTR it was a PDP-11). At least you had a keyboard and (amber) monitor to enter your code (writing a compiler in machine code at the time). Problem was that the machine had eight terminals and if all of them were occupied it could take up to a minute before whatever key you pressed made it to the display; not good if you used ed (or edlin? - memory is fading with age).

The best of times, the worst of times.

(Icon for the lack of keyboards we wished we could have, rather than the punchcard machines)

A paper clip, a spool of phone wire and a recalcitrant RS-232 line: Going MacGyver in the wonderful world of hotel IT

Kobus Botes

Re: Proper lash up

@Alan Brown

The temporary fibre cement (probably asbestos) classrooms that we moved into when we started High school in 1971 are still in use as I write.

The classrooms were slated to be demolished in 1973/74 (if I remember correctly) once the school was split into two single language schools - this eventually only happened in 1977/78.

Google reveals the wheels almost literally fell off one of its cloudy server racks

Kobus Botes

Re: Why bother?

@TRT: "...energy required to roll one up these things..."

Our company moved into a new building in the late '90s. Since IT was seen more as a grudge expense by the local beancounters, the server room was specced to be the absolute minimum it could be (the rear doors on the racks could only be opened half-way whilst the front doors had about 5mm clearance to the wall).

In order to facilitate working on the backs of the racks when required, a decision was made to put the racks on wheels.

The first time we had to move the racks (four side-by-side, bolted together) three of us could not move it at all. We would have been able to push the whole lot over before it moved - in fact, we abandoned the exercise when we tilted the rack by a scary amount (due to lack of space to get down low enough to apply force to the bottom of the cabinets rather that at chest height).

The general concensus was that the cabling was too heavy (it disappeared into the raised floor cavity), coupled with the fact that the rubberised wheels were flattened (seen upon closer inspection), as well as the fact that the wheels had caused depressions in the vinyl tiles. And there were only about four servers per rack (to provide for future expansion, which never happened, as almost all servers were later virtualised, rather that have single O/S boxes).

Since we could not go ------------------------->

WindiLeaks: 250 million Microsoft customer support records dating back to 2005 exposed to open internet

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I just wonder how long it will be before all the telemetry they have been collecting will become available for general consumption. I still believe it is just a matter of when, not if.

You're not Boeing to believe this: Yet another show-stopping software bug found in ill-fated 737 Max airplanes

Kobus Botes

Re: Those moneychangers...


""What went wrong" is that finance people got a hold of..."

You can enter ANY company/entity there. I do not think there is one example where financial people took over running a company, that ended well for anybody else (part from the financial people). Once an accountant starts calling the shots, the focus moves from the product/service delivered to maximizing shareholder returns. These two goals are diametrically opposed and will almost inevitably lead to the demise of said entity in the medium to long term.

I once asked an accountant in the company I worked for at the time, why they have such a short term

outlook. His answer was that they only live from the current financial year to the next. Whatever happens beyond that is unknowable and therefore of no concern. His second reason was that they abhor uncertainty and would rather opt for a certain negative result (even if ruinous), over an uncertain (possibly positive) result.

My feeling is that, once accountants take over, you should get out as soon as possible and cash in.

Security? We've heard of it! But why be a party pooper when there's printing to be done

Kobus Botes

(Tektronix I seem to remember)

What a horrible piece of kit that was!

We got one for printing client meeting documents since it certainly had the best-looking output. All very impressive and professional looking.

Until the first client wanted to make notes on his document (as most people did) and discovered that it was impossible to write on it with any normal pen or pencil.

But what made the machine particularly horrible was the fact that it had an endearing feature: it used an optical disc for calibration in order to line up the different colours. Said disc was fixed on a rotating hard-chromed rod by means of a tiny screw that needed to be tightened in order to fix the disc in place. The optical disc was securely fixed to a hefty brass bush - lots of inertia and momentum.

The net effect was that a technician needed to visit us on a weekly (and sometimes more often) basis in order to get the alignment correct, as it started going out of spec almost immediately due to the low friction that could be achieved with the set-up it had.

===================> For the stupid moron(s) who designed and signed it off (that's how I felt at the time, since I was always called to fix the thing, even though it was a leased machine and not my responsibility, and despite the fact that they knew I did not have the requisite knowledge nor special tool to correctly affix the disc).

Don't press the red b-... Windows Insiders' rings hit by surprise Microsoft emission

Kobus Botes

Plasma 5 on KDE anyone?

So... Somewhat like the Application Dashboard in Plasma5 on KDE, then? Except very badly implemented/thought out. Plus you have to scroll down a long, unsorted list to find anything. Really? (OK - I am being facetious here; they will probably structure it a bit more sane once they have fleshed it out a bit more).

And you also do not have a choice in whether you want to use it or not Whereas Mageia7 comes with three choices out of the box, plus there are at least thirteen others you can install/play with/test, should you so wish.

Not that it concerns me, really. It is only my SO's machine that I will have to worry about/sort out once the change is let loose upon the world at large.

Who needs 4th July fireworks when there's a new Windows 10 build?

Kobus Botes

Re: ...generally available in South Africa North and South Africa West

Two thumbs down?

Satya and whoever wrote that drivel?

Or is it the allusion to American's shocking knowledge of geography? Then you should award yourselves athumb down or two:



Ohhhh... I get it - it was the (NSFW) typo. Now I've learned something I did not necessarily want to know.


(Kept the links in case that was what rankled).

Ps. Icon for my (innocent) spelling error)

PPs I withdrew my original comment in order to protect the innocent at work (failed to add NSFW)

Kobus Botes

...generally available in South Africa North and South Africa West

Wait... WHAT??!

From the announcement: "...now generally available in the recently announced regions of South Africa North and South Africa West."

I'm confused: did Microsoft announce the new regions, or was it the government/ANC (as if nine provinces aren't enough)? And how did everyone here miss it? Or did they simply rename Gauteng and Western Cape to South Africa North and South Africa West respectively to make it easier for 'merkins to unnerstand? (judging by the cities named).

Enquiring minds want to know!

BOFH: On a sunny day like this one, the concrete dries so much more quickly

Kobus Botes

Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this


Reminds me of the time we needed to restore a particular user's mailbox (user having departed six months earlier and suspicious uhmmm... activities detected later by a successor) in order to search for evidence (not by us). Only to find that an Exchange 5 mail store could only be restored to an Exchange 5 server, so we had to build one (having upgraded in the mean time).

Only to find that it could only be restored to the original Exchange 5 server, or one built on an exact same machine (same m/b and processor at least; possibly same size hard drive as well - memory's fading).

Only to discover that one could not restore individual mailboxes - the whole thing had to be restored and the particular mailbox then extracted.

Took about three weeks to accomplish what should have been a straightforward job.

================> Our reaction at the time.

Sad SACK: Linux PCs, servers, gadgets may be crashed by 'Ping of Death' network packets

Kobus Botes

Re: "No panic, no forced reboot."


"You can choose when to reboot with Windows too"

Man, I must have been seriously hallucinating the numerous times I have witnessed Windows (including W10) reboot without warning (or my favourite W10 trick - advising you that Windows need to reboot in less than a minute and then promptly dying before you have finished reading the warning). Even if you have set every parameter to prevent that from happening; including setting it to only update and reboot only after hours.

==============> Not me; you.

On the eve of Patch Tuesday, Microsoft confirms Windows 10 can automatically remove borked updates

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Big Brother

Will MS ...extend this new feature to remove problem applications like Libre Office?

@Version 1.0

Windows 10 has had that ability right from the start and that was one of my concerns with the technology (not to imply that MS are planning/want to do it); it becomes all too easy to abuse ("accidentally" remove LO or any other (undesirable by MS) program?) whilst having plausible deniability.

See https://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/all/2016/05/17/microsoft_windows_7_and_81_fixes_now_rollup_bundles/#c_2868324 and https://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/all/2016/05/02/desktop_os_market_share_april_2016/#c_2853826 in this regard.

Hold horror stories: Chief, we've got a f*cking idiot on line 1. Oh, you heard all that

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Paris Hilton

Re: I've been on the receiving end of this


Sir Archibald, is that you?

We all feel like that, Khaptain, now and then...

Paris, because, well duh!

LibreOffice 6.2 is here: Running up a Tab at the NotebookBar? You can turn it all off if you want

Kobus Botes

Re: epub

@ elgarak1

..."trying to be similar to Word"

There is the elephant in the room that people criticising LibreOffice/OpenOffice seem to ignore/gloss over (not suggesting you are doing it - this is just a handy entry point): I suspect the problem the devs have is that to get traction, people expect it to be feature similiar to MS Office. In order to do that, ALL Office's quirks have to included as well, otherwise its behaviour will not be the same.

I am certain that the LibreOffice/Oo.o devs can think of a miriad ways to improve on MS Office, but have their hands tied behind their backs.

Not being a programmer, I have often wondered whether it would not be possible to have a super suite that has wonderful features that people want, and then have a MS Office compatibility mode when saving, that warns you about features that will not render/work under MS Office.

It would be nice if one of the devs could weigh in on this.

The Iceman cometh, his smartwatch told the cops: Hitman jailed after gizmo links him to Brit gangland slayings

Kobus Botes

Re: A high viz vest?

@TrumpSlurp the Troll

..."all this "safety" gear doesn't make you safer. It just makes you feel invulnerable and encourages you to do stupid things!"

That applies to people in vehicles as well. The safer cars are made, the more reckless people seem to become, as they assume that they will not be hurt/killed should they be involved in an accident. Hence the argument against wearing seatbelts, for instance, as the belief is that the airbag will protect you against harm.

Ditto for people in cars that are close to self-drive (like Teslas) - a seemingly utter belief that the car will sort itself out.

You were told to clean up our systems, not delete 8,000 crucial files

Kobus Botes

Same user - same problem twice

I had a user in the late 1990's/early 2000's (a most unreasonable man and a director to boot) who caused me no end of troubles.

The first problem arose when he logged a call for a problem with Outlook freezing, not responding, et cetera.

Upon checking the machine and Outlook, I found that his pst file was close to 2GB in size (Windows 98 SE and Office 95). Turned out that about 90% of the size was taken up by his deleted items, so I told him what the problem was and if it was OK if I delete it, or should I copy it to another pst file should he want to keep it. The answer was "No - it is deleted."

About ten minutes later I had a frantic call from Head Office about this user's mail that I had deleted and that I should restore it immediately, as all his important stuff was gone. Luckily they backed me on this one when I had explained what the situation was (although he was sore with me for a long time about the incident and the fact that I could not recover his deleted items).

In order to prevent future occurrences I then gave him space on a server, where he could save his documents, and I wrote a little batch file that he could run at any time (provided Office was closed) to back up his documents as well as his pst's. I also stressed that he should run the file every Friday before calling it a day. So far so good.

Then he bought himself a copy of Windows XP towards the end of 2002 (as the company said that no machines would be upgraded to XP- only new machines would come with XP and machines would only be refreshed in the normal cycle. His laptop was also self-purchased, because the company did not buy laptops unless you really, REALLY needed one, and he NEEDED one).

So he logged a call for me to come and install XP NOW, as he needs it for an important meeting the next day. Once again my explanation that it would take about three days for the rebuild (cataloguing everything on the machine, getting his install disks for Office XP that he also bought, which was at home, as well as a number of other essential, cannot do without programs, then installing everything as well as the service pack that I had to download and install, and including a fairly generous contingency time to allow for possible problems) did not go down well, to say the least.

I vaguely remember that I was severely stressed for time, probably a slew of new machines I had to build (all new machines came naked and everything had to be installed by yours truly), which also did not help.

Stressing the importance of his running the backup script every day until the appointed installation time, since my having to do it would only stretch out the build time, and sending him an e-mail with all the details of what he needs to do beforehand and also apologising for the fact that he will have to make do with an old desktop in the time that his machine was out of commission, I was obviously left with a very grumpy guy.

Come the day of installation I installed his desktop and set it up for him, including copying my script and making sure that everything worked. The next question was whether he had done the backups as requested (to which the reply was that of course it had been done, just get out of the office and get cracking.

Come delivery time less than two days later, everything went swimmingly, until he started checking that everything was done correctly, only to query where his latest documents were. My insistence that everything that had been there had been restored, did not go down well. Upon checking, I saw that the last backup he had made was some months prior to the reinstall (I had no access to user's folders on the server - it was all tied to the users' domain accounts).

The upshot was that I had to remove his hard drive and take it to a professional outlet to try and recover as much as possible (he did lose a number of mail attachments, but luckily mostly non-important stuff - most of the other missing items could be recovered from the people who sent it to him or to whom he had sent it), since my e-mail regarding the rebuild did not explicitly mention the fact that he had to run the backup script and that everything that was on his hard disk would be lost forever. Plus I got a written warning for failing to ensure that no documents were lost.

Fun times.

------------------------------------------------------------------> What I felt like at the time.

Bored IT manager automates Millennium Eve checks to ditch snoozing for boozing

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You do realise that the Reg hacks have automated posts since 21 Dec and are blissfully ignorant of whatever commentards post? (Apart from those containing pre-determined text that would be automatically forwarded to whoever need to know. Responses to those, however, are also run by scripts).

Anyway, happy New Year to one and all!


Sadly, in the absence of a fizzy wine icon.

Surface Book 2 afflicted by mystery Blue Screen Of Death errors

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And in other news

In a refreshing break from tradition Microsoft has elected to give users a break on Monday, by postponing breaking things to Tuesday.

---------------> This seems to be the new paradigm for Microsoft victims and unfortunate sysadmins.

OneDrive is broken: Microsoft's cloudy storage drops from the sky for EU users

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Re: Daily dose


I wonder how many other internally visible services have amber monitoring right now ???

All's green (externally, at least).

But then again, on Tuesday when Azure MFA fell over and servers were rebooted left, right and centre, Azure status reports were all green as well.

Boy, am I glad I am retired now!

Not OK Google: Massive outage turns smart home kit utterly dumb

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Re: Repeat


Upvoted you - they just find that coming to terms with the mindless tedium of it all presents an interesting challenge.

(Sorry Douglas! Ducks)

Intel finds a cure for its software security pain: Window Snyder

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Re: Window Snyder

Just missed the edit window.

Noticed too late it is her actual name. Maybe her parents made the reference?

Still a cool record, though.

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Window Snyder

V-2 Schneider!

One has to love whoever comes up with these musical references - he/she/they are brilliant!

Digging through my vinyls right now to give it a listen again (it is stuck in my ear now in any case).

Fanboy of Bowie, of course. ------------------------->

IT peeps, be warned: You'll soon be a museum exhibit

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Re: Back in the day


The first PC I specced (in 1985) was for an IBM XT PC (XT indicating that it came with a hard drive, rather than two floppy drives). The standard disk was a wopping 5MB - I had it upgraded to 10MB (the cost was prohibitive).

When one of the senior directors wanted to know whether it was sufficient, my answer was that we would not be able to fill it in our lifetimes (given that floppies were 256KB and the operating system (DOS 1) plus all the programs (Multimate, Lotus-123, Harvard Graphics) took up less than 2MB). Lotus-123 spreadsheets typically ran below 10KB, as did Multimate files, so yeah - plenty of storage.

And the whole system cost about 10% more than an entry-level 5-series BMW, so EXPENSIVE!

Shopper f-bombed PC shop staff, so they mocked her with too-polite tech tutorial

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... that it was quite acceptable to hang up on a customer...


I received a call from one of our Business Unit's senior directors at head office, about a local problem we had (can't remember exactly what it was - 20 years or so ago, but as I recall it involved an Exchange problem that I had troubleshot and determined what the problem was when they took too long to do anything about it (we used to do our own troubleshooting and maintenance out in the provinces, but those privileges were rescinded and moved to HO, due to one of my colleagues in another province deleting most of the company user mail accounts (he thought he was working on his local server, but was actually on the main server, and all he wanted to do was clean up his user accounts. We had warned them initially that it was daft to give everyone admin rights on all servers and that it should be compartmentalised with access restricted to local servers only, but they knew better). I somehow still had the admin password, so was able to pinpoint the problem and then sent an e-mail to the clever hotshots (using my HoTMaiL account, when Hotmail was still fresh and cool), detailing what the problem was and also giving the fix. I was not being a smart-arse about it - I just wanted the problem to be fixed asap, as my users were getting grumpier as the hours went by).

Anyhow - as I picked up the receiver the flecks of spittle were coming out the earpiece as he lay into me. When I got a gap I politely asked him to stop shouting and swearing at me, or I would hang up on him; which I did when he started screaming at me again. About ten seconds later the phone rang again - same story.

After I had hung up I went to my boss and gave him the whole story. He was quite supportive (not that I expected anything less - he was super) and said that he would sort it out. About an hour later I got a call from the same director, this time meek as a lamb and most apologetic.

Oh, the problem had disappeared about ten minutes after I hung up on him the second time.

Not me - the main protagonist above ----->

Sysadmin crashed computer recording data from active space probe

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Involuntary server shutdown

We had a SUN SPARC server that handled local accounting information which was synchronised with the main server after hours.

A problem developed at some stage, so one of the sysadmins at head office called me to log on to the server, then type in some commands he dictated (I had no UNIX experience, so we verified the commands a couple of times to make sure it was correct. Also no remote login capability - this was in the late eighties. Also a 16kb diginet line) and then note the responses and call him back (way before cell-phones and there was no phone in the server room - it was actually just a closet).

It went swimmingly and at the end, having carefully written down the results, I turned away and went out. As I closed the door, I noticed that I had forgotten to turn off the monitor, so I went back and turned it off, only to hear the gut-wrenching sound of the server dying on me.

It turned out that those servers had only one switch that ruled all, and it just so happened that that switch was located on monitor - the monitor itself could not be turned off independently.

Which just reminded me - I also happened to kill an Exchange server once; I was sent to physically check the disk sizes on all our servers, as they were planning upgrades, but were not sure that their information was correct.

I was able to obtain the needed info from all the servers (x86 - 386's if I remember correctly) except for the Exchange server (NT 3.5 on an Alpha RISC server). I removed the side panels, but could not see any hard drives, as they were located in a cage in the top of the tower. The top panel was also removable, so I did, hoping to be able to get at the drives, only to be met by the same terrifying sounds of a server dying.

In this case it turned out that the Alpha had an intrusion-detection switch protecting the top panel, which very cleverly killed the machine the moment it was triggered.

HO was not very fond of me, to be honest (It just so happened that the main Exchange admin also happened to be a director). Thankfully the server booted up without problems, despite the brutal treatment meted out by me (I suspect it must have been the only time in history that an NT 3.5 server recovered unscathed from such an unceremonious shutdown).

Munich council: To hell with Linux, we're going full Windows in 2020

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"LibreOffice is one of the biggest problems..."

I suspect the biggest obstacle faced by Libre Office (and Open Office and others) is the insistence by users and those in charge that LO/OOo must be 100% compatible with MS Office. This is of course impossible.

I have always wondered whether it would not perhaps be more beneficial to LO/OOo to develop a better suite, (that has a proper interface that allows users to be productive and not fight the application and with advanced functionality that MSO does not have), with an MS extention on that would convert documents to the crippled MS format as best as is possible.

Probably a pipe dream, but I would appreciate if if a dev involved in an OSS suite could perhaps shed some more light.

Pretty fly for an AI: Bioboffins use machine learning to decipher fruit flies' brains

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...seeking out ripe fruits and vegetables and mating

Food and sex, therefore. Not much different from any normal teenager, to be honest.

Ahhh, I remember it well! (My teenage years, that is).



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