* Posts by Kobus Botes

149 posts • joined 12 May 2008


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

Kobus Botes


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

Kobus Botes
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

Kobus Botes
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

Kobus Botes


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

Kobus Botes

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

Kobus Botes

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

Kobus Botes

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

Kobus Botes

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.

Kobus Botes

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

Kobus Botes

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

Kobus Botes

... 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

Kobus Botes

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

Kobus Botes

"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).

Top smut site stops Flashing, adopts HTML5

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Thumb Up

Only an expert

The person(s) who come up with these musical and literary references is/are really good! I now also have a problem, in that Laurie Anderson will be stuck in my ear for the rest of the day. Could be worse, though, so there is that.

Das ist empörend: Microsoft slams umlaut for email depth charge

Kobus Botes

Re: Microsoft or Americans?

@Steve Davies 3..."speak almost perfect English but refuse to use it when Americans are around"...

We very quickly learned that on a student tour to Europe in 1980. For some reason Europeans take an Afrikaans accent to be American and then immediately become mono-lingual. The solution was to either chat to each other in Afrikaans (even the native English speakers) and then switch to English when addressing a local, or start off in Afrikaans and then switch to English. It was an eye-opener to how much friendlier people would be if they knew you were not an American (we attributed that attitude to an intense dislike of Americans, probably because of how they treated Europeans in their own countries after the war, or maybe because of their general superior attitude, but we were probably wrong. Generalising, I know, but that is how it is) and even the ones who genuinely could not speak or understand English would make an effort to try and communicate with you. If they took you for an American, that was it - no effort to help or try to understand.

..."because they don't even try to speak French". That applies to all cultures, in my experience. I have deliberately learned to greet people in their own language as far as I can (I can at least say "Hallo, how are you?" and "Goodbye" in a number of languages (isiXhosa, isiZulu, French (lots of migrants from French-speaking African countries like Burundi, DRC, Ivory Coast, et cetera), Tswana, Sotho, German, and so on. Not enough, though). Just that tiny show of recognition (as pitiful/inadequate as it is) makes a tremendous difference in how people perceive and treat you, as it shows a basic respect for that person and his/her culture. You have to be sincere, though.

Security firms team to take down rudimentary ransomware

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..resort to rm -rf??

Wait, what??? Does it run on Linux now as well?

Or is this comment just in respect of the upcoming Windows 10 upgrade with BASH? But that just gets rid of BASH. (Although it would not altogether be a bad thing to get rid of WX, as far as I am concerned).

Microsoft's 3D Jedi phone explored

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Wave your hand and hope....

Yep. I thought it was funny when I recently saw a test drive of the newest S-class M-B (or was it the 7-series BMW?), that uses gestures to control the radio (to change the radio volume you twirl your index finger in the air clockwise or anti-clockwise).

I think it is silly to replace functional knobs that have been working excellently for many decades, with air-controls. In fact, it went silly when rotating knobs were replaced by buttons that you have to hold down in order to change volume or the frequency; it can take a long time to manually find a station, and the volume is almost always never exactly right. It is either too soft, or too loud at the next step up.

As far as that is concerned, I think the most usable radio is the one in my wife's VW Caddy; it is electronic, but has actual manually operated knobs that you can turn to change the volume or station, if need be.

Microsoft shifts Windows 7 and 8.1 fixes to 'rollup' bundles

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Re: Time for a test, I think...

Just missed the Edit deadline...

...Spybot's Anti-Beacon...

Thanks for that one - it is currently running and has already found a couple I missed. It will be interesting to see what it would do with Windows 10 installs where I already spent a lot of time going through all the settings to block unwanted telemetry and adverts.

(I KNEW there must be a reason why I read the comments sections! Apart from the witty, sharp and funny comments, of course).

Kobus Botes

Re: Time for a test, I think...

@Carl D

...Josh Mayfield's GWX Control Panel...

I just downloaded the latest version and installed it on my work machine and found that MS Security Essentials now flags it for analysis. The message reads

"We found some files we would like to analyze. Send them to Microsoft to help us improve our anti-virus and malware measures".

The question now is: will they mark it as acceptable or PUP (potentially unwanted program)?

I did not send it, by the way.

Regarding slow Win7 updates, WSUSOffline is your answer. It takes substantially less time to use, especially if combined with WPKG.

Sysadmin paid a month's salary for one day of nothing

Kobus Botes

Re: Y2K farce

...that peoples microwave ovens would start blowing...

You won't believe how many people were worried that their cars would not start on 1 January 2000! Most cars then had analogue clocks or, at best, a digital clock that was not connected to anything at all.

That was the type of fear-mongering that got big captions in large fonts in newspapers, that had many people in a tizz, worrying about Y2K.

Kobus Botes

Re: Wow

We also tested everything in advance - the really old machines that could not be patched were replaced and the ones that could be fixed were fixed (I think it was a BIOS upgrade that needed to be run). I was on leave during that December and my boss and the PFY spent the night playing games until he was reasonably sure that nothing untoward would happen and then left to party.

The more interesting thing about that time happened in late October. The company that I worked for had recently merged with another company and IT had only just finished merging their operations. We were in two seperate buildings (across the street from each other). Anyway, in October a directive was sent out by Head Office that each branch had to procure, rent or otherwise obtain the following prior to 1 December:

A power generator capable of running the office, in case there was as total meltdown and the power utility could not provide power. The most important requirement was that all PC's and the server room must be operational.

Portable loos in case the municipality had a total meltdown and there were no water to flush the toilets (there were much gnashing of teeth in the press that automated systems would not be able to run in the absence of the expected power failures, or should their computerised systems fall over).

Tanks to store water - primarily to run the loos.

The local directors then called me in to get my take on that and to give them some guidance, as they had discovered that, IF they could get a suitable generator, it would cost almost their year's profit (supply and demand - the forward-thinking people having long ago secured what they needed at reasonable cost). Ditto for loos and water tanks.

So I said, let's look at this logically: what good would keeping the servers and PC's running do, in case of total meltdown? There would be no telecommunications, as the telco's back-up systems could only run for a limited time in any case. Furthermore, there was no guarantee that the entities we needed to communicate with, would have the capability to do so. So all we would be doing is generating power at huge cost to create Word documents and spreadsheets and store it locally. We have been doing that manually for donkey's years (wide-spread PC's only came into use late in the 80's, so most people still knew how to do it - in fact, there were a fair number of die-hards who still ran manual systems next to the computerised system, as they did not fully trust the new-fangled way of doing things) and could easily revert. Once the expected chaos has subsided, we could then just scan or copy everything, or type the hand-written documents if push came to shove.

We also did not need power for lighting (it being summer down here) and air-conditioning is really just a luxury that we can dispense with if needed.

As far as loos and water was concerned, I told them that I am sure all the valves could still be manually operated, so I do not foresee any interruptions there. As far as water was concerned, if there were no pumps to pump water into the reservoirs, having tanks on the premises would be redundant in any case, since there would be no water to fill the tanks to start with.

The end result was that a nice letter was sent back to HO, stating basically that they have discussed the matter and, given the possible scenario's, have decided to do none of the suggested steps, for the reasons I gave and the crippling financial burden were they to try and implement it.

And everybody was reasonably relaxed about the whole thing afterwards. Yes, there were plans made on how to handle total melt-down, and procedures circulated on how things would need to be done if everything was to be done manually again, but people were happily continuing as always.

That said: there is nowadays a lot of smirking about the non-event that Y2K turned out to be ( I suspect mostly by people who were not there at the time, or who did not know what had been done in order to avert problems), but that was only (as said by many in the know) because a lot of hard work and testing had been put in by a lot of people beforehand to make it so.

In some ways I think that they (we) had been too successful and did it too well, so that the general feeling was that a lot of unnecessary hype had been created.

Spaniard live streams 195km/h burn-up

Kobus Botes

Re: I found...

@Lee D.

BMW's mostly...

It used to be the case here in sunny South Africa as well (same aversion on my side), but a recent trip up-country made me reconsider, as it seems that those idiots have traded their B-M's in for Ford Rangers - mostly double cabs.

I vividly remember one incident near Kimberley, when we were caught up in a slowish train (doing about 100 in a 120 zone) and this idiot decided to overtake all of us sightless (he came from at least four vehicles behind me, with five in front, stuck behind two articulated trucks).

He saw his chance when the truck at the back started overtaking the one in front of him, so he probably thought that he would be protected. When he caught up with the truck doing the overtaking (which was still in the on-coming lane) he went onto the shoulder of the road to overtake said truck, only to have to sharply take an escape route on to the dirt shoulder in order to narrowly miss oncoming traffic that had already taken avoidance measures by going on to the hard shoulder to miss the truck.

How they all missed each other I do not know, as he blithely continued on his merry way, hardly lifting his foot off the accellerator.

It is quite scary seeing four vehicles abreast on a two-lane road, with the idiot overtaking four cars coming towards him, on their left sides! By that time we were already on the left shoulder, hoping to avoid the incumbent pile-up, which mercifully never materialised.

Database man flown to Hong Kong to install forgotten patch spends week in pub

Kobus Botes

Re: "...spent the next week languishing in the Excelsior Hotel..."


"...such an interesting place."*

My late father-in-law worked at the Post Office in the sixties and seventies in Cape Town. According to him one of his colleagues were sent to sort out a problem with the microwave link (telephone) in a little place called Garies, which really is in the middle of nowhere (-30.567357, 17.988452, if you are interested).

He drove out on a Sunday, so that he could get to work early on the Monday morning, and fixed the problem early on in the morning. Once he was done he called his boss to find out if there was not perhaps anything else to attend to, since he was already there in any case, so his boss told him to sit tight and monitor the original problem, to make sure that it was fixed.

A week later he called his boss to find out whether he should get back to the office, only to be told not to call again, but to stay there until his boss told him to come back.

Three weeks later, when his boss handed out pay-packets, he wanted to know whether anyone knew what had happened to this guy, only to be told that he was still propping up the bar and playing darts and pool on S&T. Seems that the boss had completely forgotten about recalling him.

* Unless you are a photographer, there really is not much else to do.

---------> We're having a braai, with me doing the honours!

Wi-Fi network named 'mobile detonation device' grounds plane

Kobus Botes
Black Helicopters

NSA Surveillance Unit #whatever...

is what I want (am going) to name my WiFi at home (haven't decided on the actual number yet). Have thought about doing it some time ago, but never could be bothered, but I need to sort out my network in any case.

Tinfoil hat needed though, to guard against ------->

(I wonder - do their tentacles reach into darkest Africa as well?).

US data suggests Windows 10 adoption in business is slowing

Kobus Botes
Big Brother

Re: Privacy & ..

@Rumble Jesus

"concern that the next out-of-control update "shoved at you" installs drivers and or updates that break the operation of needed equipment"

We see that regularly with Windows 7 lately (also 10) - especially with printer drivers. One would have thought that in 30+ years the printer driver problem would have been solved by now, but that is sadly not the case. Things were reasonably sane until a couple of months ago: where Windows did not have native drivers, we used drivers supplied by the manufacturers and everything was hunky dory.

But it seems that Microsoft have now decided to deem supplier drivers as PUP's (potentially unwanted programs), which need to be replaced by MS's own offerings. The problem we have is that the MS drivers do not play nice with Linux, with the result that print jobs sent from Linux servers just disappear into the void. You can see them fleetingly appear in the print queue, only to disappear without trace and the printer oblivious to the fact that a print job had just gone past. (I am talking about Epson - LX 300 and up to LX 350, as well as various models from Bixolon). The only cure is to uninstall the resident driver and reinstall the vendor-supplied driver to get things working again.

There is also no readily apparent rhyme or reason which machines will be targeted: a couple have had repeat changes, whilst others are still untouched.

Get lost, Windows 10 and Phone fans: No maps HERE on Microsoft's OS

Kobus Botes

Re: Without a decent mapping solution...

@ Captain DaFt

Bing search on Bing Blogs seems to be fubar - ANY search term returns "Not found" errors.

Map development seems to have halted or slowed down dramatically - most of the results are rather stale (2012?); in fact, the latest blog dates back to November 2015.

Aircraft now so automated pilots have forgotten how to fly

Kobus Botes

Re: ...how many landings are fully automatic...

@ Vociferous Time Waster

Depends on where in the world you are. Here where I live lack of vision and political will has over many years (and different governments) led to a serious deterioration in railways. Building a viable, efficient and cost-effective (not necessarily profitable, but the subsidies would be orders of magnitude less than the cost to the economy as a whole of having to transport most goods and people by road) will now be an extremely expensive and hence unpopular option. It would also take much longer than any politician would care to plan for.

Kobus Botes

Re: ...how many landings are fully automatic...

Years ago (more than ten, at least) I was on a flight to Cape Town, landing in driving rain with a gusting cross-wind, in deep dusk. Having experienced a couple, let's say, "interesting" landings, I paid particular attention to how the pilot was handling the plane. There were some very nervous passengers around me and flight attendants were going up and down the aisles reassuring people that they need not worry.

In the event the landing was one of the smoothest I have experienced, as if there was no wind at all.

I ws mightily impressed by his skill and passengers broke out in spontaneous applause and cheering all around me. When the noise abated, the pilot announced "Thank you for the applause, ladies and gentlemen, I appreciate it, but the credit must go to the plane, as it landed itself".

The over-reliance on machines and loss of skills is a worrying factor to me. One can have a long discussion about self-drive cars, for instance (and whilst I very much prefer my car to be under my control (I do not like even ABS and traction control), I do appreciate the benefits that they bring), but I still feel that people want to compensate with automation for something that is largely a lack of proper training.

(Drifting ever so slightly off-topic here). As far as self-drive cars are concerned, whilst my initial reaction was that it represent a huge mistake, upon reflection I came to the conclusion that there is at least one good case to be made for them, in the case of elderly people or people with physical (and even mental) disabilities who would gain independence without endangering themselves or other road users. And then there are people who should never be allowed near the controls of a car and who definitely need a vicious dog with them, as they have absolutely no clue about what they are or should be doing, who obliviously waft themselves along public roads daily. Self-drive cars should be compulsory for them.

Mixing wet-ware and silicon-driven cars on the same roads, however, is a recipe for disaster as far as I am concerned. Ideally there should be seperate roadways for each mode of transport, but that is unfortunately completely out of the question.

No escape: Microsoft injects 'Get Windows 10' nagware into biz PCs

Kobus Botes
Black Helicopters

Who's squeezing Microsoft?

Given Microsoft's increasingly desperate efforts/attempts to get WX on to as many machines as possible and PRONTO! it seems to me as if someone has Microsoft's gonads firmly in a vice and they are turning the screw seriously hard.

The question is: who is doing the squeezing? Is it advertisers who were promised 1 billion installs (with concomitant income from advertisements served) (as I have speculated earlier in these hallowed pages), or is it someone else (like NSA/GHCQ/whichever other spy agency who might want an in on the data) and, in the latter case, what do they have on Microsoft and what do they want?

If it is the first case, I suspect that Microsoft is on a hiding to nowhere (unless, of course, they manage to get that billion installs in real, actual numbers): hubris may have led Microsoft to vastly over-promise and now the REAL clients are putting the screws on big-time.

Who would first relent, though? - the party(ies) doing the squeezing, Microsoft or the users of Microsoft's wares? Options two and three are equally unpalatable to them, as it would have a serious effect on Microsoft, possibly leading to a much-reduced company and/or the demise of Microsoft altogether (that would probably also mean that BillG has an MS thumb in a screw and is putting the squeeze on them, with Monkey-boy having similar fun with the other thumb; except that it is no fun for anyone (at least, not for the squeezers and the squeezee)).

A much smaller Microsoft would actually be A Good Thing (TM), as it would mean that they would not be able to do whatever they want anymore, but be forced to play nice with everyone. Hopefully in that (admittedly rosy) future it would leave the door open for two or three major Linux distro's to get equal traction (even if one have to pay for it, no problem with that). A more level playing field would then also foster healthy competition and real innovation. One can but dream, no?

Kill Flash Now: 78 bugs patched in latest update

Kobus Botes

Re: Sigh...


Double sigh here. Our institutional collector of funds (aka SARS) insists on living on the bleeding edge with Adobe (I sometimes think they must get some sort of kickback for testing Adobe's delightful products) - so much so that I have to use my better half's Windows machine, as Adobe does not update their Linux products anymore.

Personally I would have thought that, being a public service and all (and we being mostly a third world country) that they would cater for the broadest demographic, not just the risk takers going after the latest shiny-shiny, but there you are.

-------> for SARS (South African Revenue Services), obviously. Wish I could add the nuke icon for Adobe as well.

Pause Patch Tuesday downloads, buggy code can kill Outlook

Kobus Botes

Re: Update stops users from logging in to Windows 7


A bit off-topic, but every time I see an instruction (like the following:

Type or paste this line in to the cmd prompt window ( be careful to type it exactly with all punctuation marks) dism /image:X:\ /remove-package /packagename:Package_for_KB3097877~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~~ /scratchdir:X:\temp (where X is the drive Windows is installed on))

I cannot help but smile (and shake my head) at those (shills?) who regularly spout some nonsense about arcane commands that must be typed in linux in getting almost anything to work. Talk about arcane!

Kobus Botes

Re: 100% CPU


Mmmm. Noticed it when going through the updates to see what each one does. The only problem is, updates are sequential only, so one still have to suffer through all the interminable updates (on new installs/reinstalls) before the happy (hopefully) moment when the update that fixes update problems finally rolls around.


"There's a lot of sysadmins out there who clearly aren't testing patches" - we support a client (initial installs, fixing whatever breaks, et cetera). They do not have any Windows servers, so we cannot use WSUS (nor do we, but even if we had we cannot use WSUS on behalf of others). Manually installing updates is out of the question, so updates must be automatic. We are looking at installing WPKG, (currently testing) so hopefully that problem will shortly be a thing of the past.



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