* Posts by Kobus Botes

207 publicly visible posts • joined 12 May 2008


Dave's not here, man. But this mind-blowingly huge server just, like, arrived

Kobus Botes

Re: Jazz Cabbage

In Afrikaans one of the terms used for weed is aaptwak (ape tobacco), because that is how it (apparently) makes you behave.

Now where's the five-leaf icon?

Welcome to 2024: Volkswagen really is putting ChatGPT into cars as a gabby copilot

Kobus Botes

Re: People have pushed back, and VW is installing real buttons

@Gene Cash

Mmmm... Inte

resting. I saw (a couple of months ago) that Hyundai had either returned buttons and switches, or had taken the decision not to get rid of it in the first place.

Hopefully sanity will prevail.

Thanks for that.

Kobus Botes

Re: That's VW on my 'do not by' list

Having owned twelve VW's since 1977 (plus 2 Citroën C2's), modern/new VW's (including almost every other new brand) disappeared off my buying list when manufacturers started with the nonsense of removing most (if not all) buttons and switches, replacing it with a touchscreen that have to be navigated whjist driving ("wave your arms and hope", as per DNA). It is beyond me how the EU (and US), who are so safety conscious, ever allowed such vehicles on the road.

And don't get me started on those stupid/ very bright headlights that cannot be dimmed, but which use some device to just lower the lights in order not to blind oncoming traffic. Except that, if the vehicle is slightly higher than you, or crest a hill or goes over a speed-bump, you get the full blast in your eyes, temporaril;y blinding you. Driving such a vehicle is even worse, as I discovered having rented a Toyota RAV 4; since the beams are very sharply cut off, there is no bleed onto the verge, to illuminate dangers lurking there. Traffic signs have also become invisible when on low-beam, due to the same no-bleed properties.

Luckily I have now reached the age where my current vehicles are probably the last ones I will own, as I will be too old to drive when they reach their end of life.

Where is the greybeard icon? (Oh well, this one will have to do).

Ransomware payment ban: Wrong idea at the wrong time

Kobus Botes

Re: Hospitals

..."ransomware happens because company minions are fucking inept"...

That was what I (mostly) believed as well, but the problem is a lot more nuanced than that.

We had a good relationship with a major client and they were on board with most of the recommendations we made in order to mitigate attacks (though they balked at zerp trust networ

king and having to enter a password in order to retrieve or save documents to the data server). Everyone was aware of being wary of incoming documents and all their Windows machines were set to display file extensions (I still do not understand why MS persists in setting extensions hidden by default, almost forty years after they were first warned about why it was a bad idea (and ample evidence of same)).

Then one day the admin office was hit by ransomware. They immediately contacted us and we were able to prevent further infections by turning off the switches, et cetera. Further investigation revealed that the CFO had opened the attacking e-mail attachment. I could not understand how she could have done it, as she was very diligent and checked everything for suspect extensions.

The problem was that the crims had also become very clever at how they targeted their victims.

In this case, the client had run adverts for some open positions that needed to be filled. Applicants were invited to submit their CV's in MS Word format, and the file had to be named "Joe Bloggs CV - Admin position.doc"

So, firstly, it was not a phishing attempt, but an expected document and therefore did not ring any alarm bells. Secondly, the file had the correct name - on the face of it. Anotherf clever trick was that the name was actually "Joe Bloggs CV - Admin position.doc .exe", so that the .exe part did not show up in Outlook.

Lessons were learned, but some of the more stringent mitigations like protected access to files, et cetera were still a step to far, as users do not like entering passwords to access shared drives, printers, et cetera (this was 7 or 8 years ago, so before 2FA).

As long as companies and users view safety measures as too much effort, too difficult or a waste of time, this problem will remain with us.

Adobe warns it may face massive fines for subscription cancellation practices

Kobus Botes
Thumb Up

Re: Finally


Since I foreswore all MS products about 20 years ago, I can fortunately not use any of Adobe's finest products.

My weapons of choice are Ansel (a Darktable clone) and at times GIMP for stuff that I still have to figure out how to do in Ansel/DT.

Parametric masks are killer in A/DT.

Linux distros drop their feelgood hits of the summer

Kobus Botes
Thumb Up

Re: Maybe not.

Happy Mageia user here (started with Mandrake (4, I think - way back in 2003/2004, through Mandriva and then Mageia). I decided to do an upgrade on one of my laptops last night (I usually do clean installs) and it went about its business with just one small hitch: after finishing downloading and installing updates, it stopped and complained that it could not find a particular python module or script. So I tried to search for updates again, hoping it would find it, but QT then threw an error, refusing to open the Install module again.

Opening a terminal I then ran urpmi --auto-update and it then went through the rest of the upgrade (downloading and installing 2400 packages).

Rebooted (as it obviously was a kernel update) and all was well.

The whole procedure took 43 minutes (and this included upgrading Libre Office, Darktable, Gimp, Digikam, Firefox and Filezilla, as it should).

Now for the other laptop and then my desktop, which will be a clean install as I want to change a couple of things.

BOFH: What a beautiful tinfoil hat, Boss!

Kobus Botes

Re: "Plants expirate oxygen, not CO2. Plants eat CO2"

Ermmmm... no, not exactly.

Most plants produce oxygen during the day when they use radiation from the sun to photosynthesize CO2. At night, however, they breathe oxygen and emit CO2 (which is why hospitals remove plants and flowers from sick wards at night. Not sure if it made an appreciable difference, though).

Plants may be the ultimate protector against red, green and blue radiation, gobbling it all up during the day, hence protecting sensitive humans from its harmful effects! ;-)

CERN spots Higgs boson decay breaking the rules

Kobus Botes

Re: A particle smaller than a Boson?

Re AC: "A bosons cat, surely"

...or even chair!

The future of cars may be self-driving EVs gossiping about their humans and traffic

Kobus Botes

Re: Great ...

@An Old Dog

"I intentionally don't own..."

I still wonder about the pathological fear people have of not being contactable immediately.

But then, I grew up in an era and environment here my dad worked away from home for months with no means of communication. His general answer about when he will be back was "Expect me when you see me".

Ou favourite holidays/vacations were to accompany my dad during school holidays.

I still rankle when people complain or get angry if they cannot get hold of me within five minutes.

Our forebers by and large had to accept the fact that, when children or family moved away it was most likely that you will never hear from them again.

And yet we survived.

Windows 11 still not winning the OS popularity contest

Kobus Botes


"ME was bad. Very bad."

I concur.

I tried installing it (received it as part of my MCSE subscription) on six different work PC's, to see if it was an improvement over '98.

These machines ran '98 without problems, and were also absolutely fine with Windows 2000 (also my favourite Windows. Actually, the only version of Windows I liked).

I also tried installing it on my work PC (which ran Windows 2000 server as a desktop).

Most of them did not/could not complete the installation, mostly due to blue screens, but some just ran partway and then halted. Those that could complete the installation and managed to boot into a desktop, were either very sluggish, or would hang, or would reboot randomly. The others just blue-screened; either during boot, or whilst in use. Regularly.

I finally gave up in disgust and let HO know that, if they had not already tried it (as there was some talk about moving to ME, starting with the handful of Windows 3.11 and then replacing '95, which was the main operating system used, apart from the latest machines that sported '98), they must save themselves the effort and either go with 2000, or wait for whatever replaces ME.

Elon Musk to abused Twitter users: Your tormentors are coming back

Kobus Botes

Re: This is a prime example of cancel culture


"Whining about cancel culture while trying to oppress speech.."

There are a number of commentards here that seem to deliberately misread posts, including you.

I also struggle to understand the large number of downvotes for chuckufarley's post; do the downvoters reckon Elon Musk can be trusted being in a position to control information? He has already displayed a worrying trend of flip-flopping in the whole Twitter saga: saying something and then stating the exact opposite shortly afterwards.

chuckufarley's sin seems to have been asking downvoters to at least state the reason for downvoting, not about being downvoted. There is a difference between the two. He was not trolling, it was a reasonable request - in fact, he quite clearly stated exactly that two posts later - for which he got hit with a massive number of downvotes again.

And the same fate was meted out to other commenters pointing it out. The downvoters are not interested in engaging meaningfully, and certainly take umbrage at those calling them out on it. Hence my using the term "cancel culture".

Then Martin-73 and yourself decided that I am/was complaining about downvotes.

I'd appreciate it if you could point out my exact words where I complained about it, or propagated against "MORE speech" (your words).

You are welcome to go through my comment history, look at posts that received downvotes and enumerate the number of objections I raised against being downvoted. There may have been one or two instances where I asked a downvoter to at least state the reason for the downvotes, but that is about it.

I have downvoted some posts myself - mostly obvious trolls, where I did not bother to explain myself, for obvious reasons - and as far as I can remember I usually (if not always) either explained the reason for the downvote in a reply, without having been asked for one, or stating it in reply when queried, where I did not state the reason for my downvote, for whatever reason.

But thank you for at least making the effort to reply (I have to assume here that you were one of the downvoters), even if you got the wrong end of the stick.

Just for the record: an anonymous/silent downvote cannot be deemed speech; not when the original post was not a flame/trolling/or just being otherwise/obstreperous.


Kobus Botes

Re: And to think that 30 years ago...


Thank you (and all the silent downvoters) for so eloquently proving my point.

I should actually have upvoted you for at least answering (although you completely missed the point), but unfortunately I already downvoted you.

O well...

Kobus Botes

Re: And to think that 30 years ago...

@ vtcodger (and all others who tried to get some meaningful discussion re downvote(r)s going)

The downvoters are out in force today, seemingly.

This is a prime example of cancel culture; I do not like what you said, so I will not engage with you and therefore do like the three monkeys: close my eyes and ears and make believe that the nasty people who hurt my feelings will go somewhere else and leave me alone.

It is a waste of time trying to engage with them; all you will receive is more of the same ISN'T!!! messages.

Which is a pity. Where once El Reg was a fount of information and intelligent commenters, it seems that lately the intolerant cancellers are taking over.

Where previously one could disagree with another commenter, and healty debate could (and did) ensue, now you must duck (or take it on the chin). Where one could learn from such disagreements (which also used to be fairly civilised and meaningful), now you must keep your mouth shut and weep, as this new culture of intolerance (and this does not apply the The Register only) refuse to engage in meaningful discussion.

It might be that the end of The Register, as we knew it and loved it, has arrived.

Where has the Tombstone icon gone?

Firefox 106 will let you type directly into browser PDFs

Kobus Botes

Re: Leave my system settings alone.


"...declare itself as the default pdf viewer."

I hate that!

The first unwelcome feature I noticed was that you no longer have a choice whether you want to download or view the document; it either downloads it automatically or opens it in the case of pdf's. And only then can you download it if that is what you want to do.

Another annoyance is that blockers seem to have stopped working. Both Adblock +, A. nd UBlock Origen allows ads through - it is as if ads have become invisible as the status panel states there are no ads to block, whilst the ads are flickering annoyingly at me.

NoScript have also stopped working some time ago; if you right-click on it it does not give you the option to change from default (i.e . blocking everything) to temporary unblocking scripts I choose or allowinwing all scripts on the page or site.

Microsoft leaves the Office, rebrands everything as 365

Kobus Botes

That is no Möbius strip!!

It looks more like a mangled and tortured piece of plastic.

Perhaps inspired by a vaguely remembered Escher drawing of an impossible object, badly executed in MS Paint, by the coloured pencil department HOD's nephew.

Unfortunately the resemblance to Escher is as close as Vogon poetry is to real poetry (pick your own poet).

(Or as closely as he resembles the sorely missed Paris icon) ------------------------------------------------->>

PC shipments fall at fastest rate ever as businesses slam wallets shut

Kobus Botes

Re: MS will cripple Win10


I'm not sure about Win10 being crippled (but I expected it myself), but what MS seems to have done is to force, sorry, convince hardware manufacturers to change something that causes Win10 not to install (on laptops, at least).

We were forced to replace my wife's laptop a couple of weeks ago, and the only fairly decent laptops only came with Windows 11.

I asked the salesman whether he could downgrade it to Windows 10, but he said no can do. (I know him fairly well and they do do that sort of thing).

He was quite annoyed, as they also used to move Windows10 instalations to new laptops on request.

According to him you can install Windows 10 ona new laptop (which was what I intended to do if he could not do it), but on first reboot it stops and tell you that there is no hard drive installed. The only way to fix the problem is to do a low-level format and install Windows 11. He suspects the SATA drivers are looking for somerhing specific that is not there anymore.

The crime against humanity that is the modern OS desktop, and how to kill it

Kobus Botes

Re: grouping programs by company and not application type


"Should the same app be listed under mulitple categories?"

Mageia/KDE (Plasma5) does it that way.

LibreOffice Draw, for instance, appears under Office and Graphics, whilst LO Maths appear under Office and Sciences.

Tellico (a little collection manager I use to manage my library/book collection, lives under Development and Office. LO Base, weirdly, is only found under Development.

Kobus Botes

Re: Not the only game in town

@Def again.

"...finding the time, backing everything up, and spending a day reinstalling everything..."

A couple of tips:

When you do a new install, set your home folder on separate partition, or, better still, another drive. That way you need not worry about your data when reinstalling or installing a different OS. That said, backing up data is always a good practice, but in eighteen years of using Mandrake/Mandriva/Mageia I have never lost any data because of an OS install or reinstall. Just make sure you manually configure your drives/partitions: i.e. do not choose the Automatic option.

I am sure most (if not all) Linux flavours allow you to do a custom install, at which time you can select at least a large proportion of software you want during install. And having your home folder separate means that tweaks/customisation will still be there. But even installing everything from repositories post-install will only take an hour or so (if that).

Kobus Botes

Re: Not the only game in town


"I would actually love to be able to use KDE."

The best KDE implementation (at least for me) is by Mageia. I tried Fedora some years back, which was not bad either. Else try OpenSuSe - their KDE flavour was also very good (although it is more than six years ago I played with it - time flies),

Ubuntu Linux 18.04 systemd security patch breaks DNS in Microsoft Azure

Kobus Botes

Wait a minute, something's wrong here...

How does an Ubuntu DNS problem knock out Azure?

I can understand that updated Ubuntu instances running on Azure can cause problems for those instances, but surely Azure should do its own DNS look-ups and resolution.

Or does Microsoft's DNS servers run on Ubuntu, which they had updated en masse and now it has become an unholy mess with no easy way back?

Windows 10 update breaks audio for some systems

Kobus Botes

@ Paul Crawford

Naughty, naughty. Thankfully LP has left Red Hat and joined Microsoft, so hopefully the won't fix problems in SystemD will now be fixed/removed.

Kobus Botes

Re: Printers

Mmmm. My wife's laptop has had some issues with printing to a Canon Maxify printer for some time (I have previously written about it), but in the last two weeks it seems to have become worse (she does not regularly print to it, so I cannot say for sure, but she used it fairly often the last couple of weeks).

Error messages vary, but is mostly either "The printer is offline" or "The printer is off". Other errors are "The printer is not responding", "The printer did not interpret the command correctly" (or something in that vein), "The printer is busy" or "Cannot print to the printer". In all cases the printer is healthy and can be pinged from the laptop, even though it is supposedly off.

Note: the printer is connected via wi-fi, to my frustration. It does not have (an old-fashioned) RJ-45 port, only a USB port, but then the laptop must be on and connected if you want to print.

The fixes are similarly varied: Restarting the printer (sometimes more than once), rebooting the Laptop, connecting the laptop with a cable to the network (thereby cutting out one wi-fi link), restarting the print spooler, stopping and starting the spooler (waiting a while between stopping and starting (ot seems to make a difference).

Uninstalling the printer driver and reinstalling a freshly downloaded driver has not really made a difference.

I will try and see if any detritus remains in the registry - hopefully that will solve her problem.

Post-quantum crypto cracked in an hour with one core of an ancient Xeon

Kobus Botes

Re: Supersingular Isogeny Key Encapsulation

Two downvoates?

Are you users of the term?

Just curious and would appreciate an answer - I have not met any users - only heard it on the radio or seen it on TV or in print.

Some other people I would like to speak to are the ones who, whilst well below the speed limit (say, doing 100 km/h in a 120 zone), slam on their brakes when approaching a speed camera, crawl past it at another 20 km/h lower than their previous speed, and then speed up again once safely past the hazard.

Do they expect leniency should they be caught with a traffic violation later on ("Officer, please forget about this one - I always slow down at speed cameras, so you owe me something")?

Some other ones are the people who slow down about 200m before a green traffic light, in some instances down to 20 km/h, only to accellerate and charge through the red light which they would have avoided entirely had they just continued at normal speed.

Why slow down if you do not intend to stop in any case?

Kobus Botes

Re: Supersingular Isogeny Key Encapsulation


... It's not just singular, it's _super_ singular.

A non-sensical term that trips me up EVERY time I hear it, is "one of the only".

Example: Company X is one of the only companies in the world that can produce XXX widgets".

Another use I have encountered more that once is "(this person) is one of the only people who have ..."

I keep vacillating between "Is it the only" or "Is it a member of a small collection?

It's a gordian knot that drives me into despair and can turn me almost catatonic if I am not careful.

I suppose what the utterrer(s) of this phrase means is "one of a select few", or maybe "one of the very few". who can do whatever difficult task is under discussion.

Icon: imbibing copious amounts of this beverage causes a headache that only approximates a slight throbbing in comparison to the headaches I get when being confronted with this evil phrase.

Perhaps the nuclear explosion icon would have been more appropriate, come to think of it.

BOFH: Selling the boss on a crypto startup

Kobus Botes

It's twelve years...

of my working life described in the first half (up to where the Hell desk makes its appearance)!

I probably fixed half the issues that people had with their IT equipment just by turning up to see what the problem is. My standard answer was "I am glad it was a simple fix, as I am rather busy" or something in similar vein.

And yes, a substantial percentage of problems were self-inflicted (like a person kicking the power plug switch under the desk, or against the wall, causing a temporary loss of power (many of which I only solved by spending some time with the user, observing what they did in order to see if it was a real intermittent problem or something else)).

Other weird behaviours were caused by files depressing one of the Esc, Ctrl or Enter keys, where people had lots of files and books strewn all over their desks.

I also had a number of people who did disturb the fabric of space and time (no chesterfield sofas appeared, though, thankfully).

Psst … Want to buy a used IBM Selectric? No questions asked

Kobus Botes

Re: Hot stuff

@Strahd Ivarius

"...easy to remove the admin password with a boot CD..."

Hiren's Boot CD could reset both the admin and user passwords on Windows, at least up to Windows 10. It was a life saver to me when users would forget their passwords and no-one remembered tha admin password (in the days of yore when PC's were mostly not connected to anything except a printer). But tbh, management was fairly relaxed about PC passwords (what was there to protect? It was actually suspicious behaviour).

Passwords only really came into fashion once domains were created and users could connect to other domains as and when needed.

Microsoft's latest security patch troubles Windows 11 users

Kobus Botes

Re: Erg


"...my other half..."

My better half is (and will probably always will be) stuck on Windows, which means I am still stuck with supporting her machine.

Don't know if it is related, but she had a problem last week with printing (Windows insisting the printer is off-line, even though it was not). Rebooting both devices had no effect, so I decided to run the troubleshooter (which has never in all the years managed to resolve any issue, usually just giving up in despair and statiing it could not solve the problem). Its first attempt ended in a "no solution" resolution, but the second time round (this was after the reboots) it told me that issues were found and would I like it to implement its solution? So I clicked on yes and, after several minutes it happily announced that the problem was fixed, the solution being that it had turned the printer on. Since the printer actually printed, I left it at that.

Yesterday afternoon, after returning from work, her machine (a laptop) announced that no bootable media was found.

It refused to boot from a Hirens Boot CD usb stick, so I took it in to a local PC shop (as she was anxious to get it working again and I really did not have time to spend on it), which fixed the problem by reinstalling WIndows, as none of the repairs were able to fix the problem. The disk is fine, though.

Ditto ---------------------->

After 40 years in tech, I see every innovation contains its dark opposite

Kobus Botes

Re: a planetary-scale "ignorance amplifier"


"I discovered many of my favourite authors this way".

A thousand times this! Many of my favourite authors were either accidentally found (Like AC Clarke and Theodore Sturgeon, where I read a book by each, that a boarding school roommate's father had taken along on a short holiday with them when I was fifteen), or were introduced to me by a friend or colleague (like Le Carré, Douglas Adams and Douglas Hofstadter). But the most interesting books (about fifty per cent of my private library) were found while browsing for books by any of the above authors (and more). Books and authors that I would never have found had I not been browsing.

The same goes for music: most of my LP's and CD's were found whilst browsing for something by well-known musicians or bands.

Much pleasure was accidentally found, not whilst searching for it.

The modern version of browsing ("People who bought this also looked at...") does not work for me. Most of the time the suggestions turn out to be something that I will absolutely not read or listen to (not because I have a closed mind, but because experience has taught me that I do not enjoy or like what most people do), which has made me very wary of suggestions (I do not do popular; if I like something that turns out to be a hit or popular, it is accidental. I go my own way; if I happen to go along with the crowd, it is purely because in that instance our ways happened to coincide briefly).

It has "cost" me to some extent: I avoided Radiohead for years, purely because it was suggested that people who like Pink Floyd may also like Radiohead (Now I own most of their CD's, after accidentally hearinig OK Computer on the radio). My brain just does not work that way: I like Rick Wakeman's solo stuff, but Yes leaves me cold. I like ELP, but King Crimson likewise passes me by.

For the same reason I do not like e-books and downloaded music: I love the smell of books and love examing LP covers and looking at the whole thing. The amount of care taken by a band in designing an album already tells me a lot about what can be expected. That is completely lost in downloaded books and music, sadly.

Tavis Ormandy ports WordPerfect for UNIX to Linux

Kobus Botes

Re: Tavis Ormandy ports WordPerfect for UNIX to Linux


"I remember WordPerfect 5 was critical..."

I remember (almost) open revolt among the typists when our company introduced Word for Windows (on Windows 3.11) (Office, actually, meaning that Lotus-123 was also destined for the scrap-heap, to my frustration), ditching WordPerfect 5.

And the most vocal opponent acted upon her word, resigning a month or three later.

I most liked the yellow on blue screen; made for less eye fatigue. The proficient typists (those who did not need the templates anymore) had the hardest time converting to Word and complained bitterly for months afterwards.

WordPerfect 5 on DOS, even on an IBM XT, ran rings around Word, which meant some of the die-hards were able to cling to WordPerfect for some years, until the old XT's were finally phased out (networking being the pressure point, specially after DHCP was implemented around 1997).

Once PC's came into general use, the typing pools were disbanded and typists were re-deployed and the battle was over.

Fun days!

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

Kobus Botes

Re: Control Your Own Upgrades


..."what he/she/it needs is a simply a reliable OS to run programs on..."

I have been very happy with Mageia since, well, almost forever, as I started with Mandrake 9 (I think) in 2004/5.

The biggest problem I had with it was with updates - sometimes it will give you a warning that it needs to be rebooted for a kernel update, BUT THERE WOULD BE FURTHER UPDATES WAITING IN THE WINGS; should you reboot without waiting for URPMI to fetch the later updates, you can end up with an OS that does not boot into the desktop. Luckily it is easy enough to just hit Alt-F2 for a console, log on as root (or su to root) and complete the update.

Other than that it is a joy to use (for me, at least).

You can buy a company. You can buy a product. Common sense? Trickier

Kobus Botes

Re: 'twas ever thus

@David 123

"Interesting difference between..."

Here in South Africa fixtures (i.e. anything bolted or screwed onto or into the structure of the house) has to remain, unless stipulated in the sales contract that it will be removed. You also have to leave a stove behind - usually the one that was there, but not necessarily.

Removing lamp shades or fixed lights therefore is not allowed - if there were such items there have to be similar or the same after the house has been vacated. Removing bulbs is just mean.

How experimental was Microsoft's 'experimental banner' in File Explorer?

Kobus Botes

Re: Usual answer


...Ended up with a number of computers that won't start...

I started my switch to Linux with Mandrake in 2002/3 -ish and went with it through all its transitions (acrually, it was Caldera, but to my horror I discovered after three months that the GUI was proprietary and you had to buy a licence in order to keep using it). I am currently on Mageia 8 (eagerly waiting for 9) and have had minimal problems with getting a bootable machine. Problems I did have were either due to faulty hardware or because I wanted to push the envelope too far (or in my stupidity broke it when trying to install bleeding edge software not in the repository).

NVidia drivers (both proprietary and OS) has given me problems, but it seems to have stabilised now (although changing my graphics card may also have played a role - I could never catch it as being the culprit, though).

All my installs have been from USB (I do not upgrade to new versions). On Windows Rufus created bootable USB's, if memory serves, but otherwise I use ISODumper.

The neat thing about Linux is that, if you get your display wrong and the GUI refuses to run, you can always switch to a console (ctrl-alt-F2 or F3 or F4, etc) and fix it there - using Drakconf in the case of Mageia. I am sure other distro's will also have cli tools that can do the same thing. YAST on OpenSUSE is very good.

Once your have gotten round the differences between Linux and Windows, you won't look back. In fact, I am nowadays lost if I have to fix something on my better half's Win 10 laptop, and more often than not have to consult Google in order to find a fix (Windows' autofix solutions are even worse now than they were before - it is better to steer clear of it, as it is just a waste of time. I have yet to find a problem that WIndows can fix by itself, unless it is the simplest of problem).

Emergency updates: Adobe, Chrome patch security bugs under active attack

Kobus Botes

...using open source PDF viewers...

@bombastic bob

Unfortunately there are times when it does not work. Our Revenue Services insists on using the latest and greatest of Adobes fine products, and the only reader that can open it has to be the latest and greatest. Until last year they still insisted on using Flash(!) - as you all know, the most bug-ridden and insecure piece of software anywhere in the universe. They were so beholden with Flash that Adobe actually wrote a special version just for them. Luckily they finally relented and migrated to HTML5, but there are still applications (on the commercial side) that require Flash.

Adobe stopped adding the latest and greatest features to their linux version a long time ago. If I receive documentation from SARS, I am forced to use SWMBO's Windows machine.

My go-to PDF reader is Okular, which works well for my limited use of PDF's (in fact, the only PDF's I cannot open come from SARS).

I gave Evince and Atril a whirl (luckily they were in Mageia's depository; I had never come across them before, so thanks for that). Unfortunately neither of them could open SARS documents either.

Atril did upset me, though, as it silently, and without even a by your leave, elected itself as the default PDF reader. I hate programs that do that, so Atril had been consigned to the dump.

Now where is the steam coming out of the ears icon? Aaah, found it!

First they came for Notepad. Now they're coming for Task Manager

Kobus Botes

Re: Who Cares?

@Phil Opian-tube & Ucle Ron

It is just a matter of unfamiliarity. Whenever I now need to do something on/in Windows, 9 times out of ten I have to google in order to find out how to do it (the only Windows machine I need to touch belongs to my better half). And when I do, it feels so.... limited.

I have been using Linux on my PC's and laptops since 2004. Started off with Mandrake, followed it to Mandriva and then went with Mageia when Mandriva started losing the plot.

Microsoft called out as big malware hoster – thanks to OneDrive and Office 365 abuse

Kobus Botes

Re: Users need to know that


"Not all spam is obvious".

I used to be very confident that I will not be fooled/caught by spam/phishing/ransomware, until one of our clients were hit by a ransomware attack.

In discussing it with the person who opened the offending document (the secretary to a main board director), I discovered the following:

The company had placed job advertisements in various papers and social media, requesting CV's to be sent to said secretary, setting out exactly what information they wanted and the format it had to be in.

To all outward appearances it looked like a legitimate job application - even to the point that the attacker had a long string of spaces after "My CV.docx", to guard against people who display file extentions.

I would have opened that document in those circumstances as well.

Scoot on over for a wheely tricky mystery with an electrifying solution

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Re: Scoot on over for a wheely tricky mystery with an electrifying solution


"...every time I use the exit button I get a shock..."

OT, but similar. In the drier parts of SA (most of it therefore) one can get a nasty shock when exiting a car. I very soon learnt to firmly clasp the door-post when getting out, and only releasing my hand once I am securely on the ground.

It was fun, actually, if you did not do that and then give someone a firm handshake.

(What happened to the lightning bolt icon?)

How Windows NTFS finally made it into Linux

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Re: I can only warn

@Luiz Abdala

...but if the FOLDER PATH is longer than 255 digits...

You don't want to know how hard it was to explain THAT to users. This issue caused me no end of trouble - repeatedly.

The one issue that took me a long time to resolve concerned an inability to attach files from shared drives on a document server, to an e-mail (Outlook/MS Exchange 5).

I eventually twigged that it was related to a filename being too long (as copying it to a local drive and then attaching it to the message worked like a charm), but the problem was that the whole path was "only" about 170 characters long.

Experimentation led to the discovery that Outlook could not attach files if the filename was more than 112 characters (I think - twenty years ago and the old memory is not what it used to be) in length.

Icon for MS and its illogical inconsistencies.

Reason 3,995 to hold off on that Windows 11 upgrade: Iffy performance on AMD silicon

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Re: Good to see


Shame man, don't know what you wrote that upset a whole slew of the downvoters.

Gave you an upvote just to offset one of them.

Cheers (hopefully the beer will improve your self-esteem)

Edited to change set off to offset (I thought it sounded strange, but could not put my finger on it).

Fatal Attraction: Lovely collection, really, but it does not belong anywhere near magnetic storage media

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Regarding The Power of Observation

When I was at university there were a number of cases where tapes used by the mainframe (Unicac 1100) had become corrupted. Everything they could think of had been checked, but all came out negative; The problem persisted. After a number of weeks a pattern started emerging: it seemed that corruption occured over week-ends.

Interrogating staff and students did not yield any result either. Somebody (the professor who regaled the tale did not mention who) then decided to surreptituosly monitor the computer room, as well as the route along which tapes were transported from the computer room to the storage area, to see if he could catch the culprit red-handed. It took a number of weeks, but he finally got his man - or rather woman.

It turned out that the tapes used by students were kept in a large storage room accessible to everyone, since it was not valuable (in the sense tha the financial tapes were). These tapes were stored in wooden racks bolted to one wall, with the first shelf being about ten to fifteen centimetres above the floor, with three shelves above it. Regularly used tapes were stored on the middle two shelves (for easy access), whilst seldom-used tapes were on the bottom shelve and tapes that were deemed to be never used, plus new tapes, were on the top shelf.

On the particular day the culprit was caught, the Observer noticed the cleaning lady coming along, polishing the floors with a massive polisher (something like this ).

The shelf was just high enough off the floor to allow the polisher to get real up close and personal to the front of the tapes (being stored like a horizontal stack of coins). Those were noisy buggers; my mom had a Columbus like that.

Secondly (I think I have told the tale here before, but here is a summary): one of my colleagues told us a story about a server in a remote site (about 300 km away) that had suddenly started failing, almost to the minute, at the same time of day. Calls to the branch did not reveal any reason why it should shut down (no power failures or surges, nor anyone unplugging the server to plug in a vacuum cleaner or whatever). Eventually one of the techies were sent off on a nice Friday drive to observe the phenomenon first-hand.

The first thing he noticed, was that the server was not in the cubicle that served as a server room any more, but resided on a desk in front of a window. I cannot remember why it was moved, but it was probably because they were upgrading the cubicle to (or maybe creating) a proper server room, and that was the only available space for it to reside in the mean time.

The second thing that he noticed as the magic hour slowly approached, was that the sun had started to shine on the side of the server, the window being west-facing. And right on cue, after about an hour of being baked, the server dutifully shut down because it suffered thermal stress (the sun in Limpopo province in high summer can be brutal).

(Icon for the heat of the sun, obviously)

Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram deplatform themselves: Services down globally

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Re: So odd... Was it me?


Sadly, no, it wasn't you (it would have been cool, though, especially if you could make them disappear permanently, or at will).

I received a Telegram call from my son about an hour ago about this, and it took ages to connect. His stance is that Telegram is a bit overwhelmed/flooded with traffic, as people took to Telegram in order to communicate.

According to him it was a DNS config gone wrong (heard from someone with knowledge about it), leading to all their DNS servers falling over. And, siince the servers are now unreachable, there is a scramble to get support into data centres in order to get physical access so the servers can be individually reconfigured.

It is going to be a looooong day/night for the poor buggers!

It did not affect me, as I do not partake of FB and their products (OK - I have to confess; I had to reopen my WhatsApp account, since my siblings objected to change to Telegram or Signal. They are heavily invested in the whole FB experience, sadly. I will probably get an avalanche of messages from them once Fb teeters upright again).

BOFH: They say you either love it or you hate it. We can confirm you're going to hate it

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Re: Deja vu!


Aaaah, Melissa!

I remember her well. A user called me to come and have a look at her machine, as it was doing funny things. The first thing I did was to ask her to unplug the network cable, in case it was a virus.

Unfortunately we were using Outlook, as we had moved to MS Office two years previously (to the utter dismay of the typists, I must admit, as they were extremely happy with WordPerfect), and not on Pegasus Mail anymore, so the first thing I did was to call the people that the mail had gone out to to ask them to delete the message immediately and not open the attachment (luckily not many people in her contact list at the time - it would have been a major issue a year or so later when Head Office created mailing lists and put those at the top of the contact list ("to make it easy to use")).

I was less lucky with ILOVEYOU; a user forwarded the message to me to ask to check if it could be a virus (although my standing instruction was to first unplug the network cable and then call me to come and have a look).

Since my policy had always been to set all machines to display file extensions (I cannot believe that it is still MS practice to hide extensions by default, despite all the mayhem it has caused. It is still in Windows 11 - I do not buy the excuse that it prevents people from accidentally removing the extension when renaming files - it is an easy enough mistake to fix. Mageia highlights only the file name before the extension when renaming - does Windows still highlight the whole name, including the extension? I am not interested enough to fire up my dual-booting laptop just to check), I saw the .vbs extension (which was what triggered my user to not open it and pass it on to me).

I did some searching (as an aside, my search engines of choice before Google were Alta Vista, Excite! and Lycos, with Webcrawler as fallback in case I did not find what I was looking for - in 2000 I still used all of them, but Google had become my go-to) but could not really find anything.

So I unplugged my network cable and decided to see what happens if I run it. I did lose some jpg's, but nothing of note - mostly stuff that others had sent me that I kept for some reason. And I had to wipe the hard drive and reinstall Windows 2000. Since I had contemplated using server 2000 as my desktop, this was as good an opportunity as any.

Since we're on the topic of ancient viruses, just this tale: the very first machine we had in the company (recounted earlier in my posts), an IBM XT, had a virus checker that ran on boot. The typist who used it at the time had the following routine: she would come in earlier in the morning, start the machine and set the date and time (well before CMOS batteries came into fashion!) and then go and make coffee, attend to her make-up, gossip a little check what was in her in-tray and then go to each of us to ask for new typing that we had not yet delivered to her. By the time all of that was done, the machine might have finished booting - it took about 30 minutes or so for it to finish scanning the hard drive (40 MB by that time, if I remember correctly).

Icon, because I had to nuke my machine.

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

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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

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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

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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?

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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

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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!