* Posts by M E H

48 posts • joined 3 Jun 2008

September 16, 1992, was not a good day to be overly enthusiastic about your job


Regomiser a bit confused?

Was it “Mike” or Matt?

NASA to send Perseverance, a new trundle bot, and Ingenuity, the first interplanetary helicopter, to sniff out life on Mars in July

Black Helicopters

Re: Interplanetary Hellicopter

The rotors will have to be larger to compensate for the thinner atmosphere but not proportionally larger because of the reduced gravity on Mars.

We know they keep a duplicate rover on Earth so they can test it. I don't know how they can replicate the conditions to test a Mars helicopter. Perhaps they will run it in a semi-vacuum while suspended on a counterweight to simulate the reduced gravity?

As all scientific and engineering knowledge on the planet is contained in the heads of the El Reg commentards perhaps someone could enlighten me.

No box shifting, no Buck Rogers. Bezos-backed Blue Origin blasts off once again


Is it just me

who thinks that rocket looks terribly phallic?

Astroboffins peeved as SpaceX's Starlink sats block meteor spotting – and could make us miss a killer asteroid


Is there a chance that with enough Musksats circling the earth any asteroid will hit one of them, thus removing both from orbit and solving two problems at once?

In Rust We Trust: Stob gets behind the latest language craze


Re: Have I met "Verity"?

Ever heard of a nom de plume?


Have I met "Verity"?

I met an old boy once who claimed to be a Delphi programmer.

It was in a Danish evening class in London FWIW maybe 10 years ago.

I regret not asking him if he was Verity Stob but I suppose he would have denied it either way.

How bad is Catalina? It's almost Apple Maps bad: MacOS 10.15 pushes Cupertino's low bar for code quality lower still


Re: Scanner problem

Mine aren't!

I've got an HP all in one wireless laser thingy and after every MacOS upgrade I have to download the latest driver from HP. Very annoying.

What annoys me even more is that I've been working perfectly happily with Office 10 for Macs for years while ignoring the warnings that it will have to be upgraded as it is 32bit. Now I'm going to have to bite the bullet and actually pay for Office 365. I've been putting it off for months.

Fairphone 3 stripped to the modular essentials: Glue? What glue?


USB-C charging port

Yes. I've had a USB get totally broken up when someone was a bit clumsy putting the charging lead into a Samsung Galaxy Tablet.

I took it to a mate who runs a phone repair shop and he had to get an electrician, who only works one day a week for him, to replace it. I think he had to order the part in as well.

So yes, being able to buy a replacement port and slot it in would be a good thing.

Vulture gets claws on Lego's latest Apollo nostalgia-fest


Re: Pricey

I had one of those! Probably still got most of the parts in a big plastic tub that I won't let my daughter near yet. Kudos to my parents for buying it for me. unless Lego wasn't as shockingly expensive then as it is now.

My favourite was the 6929 Space Voyager with a tool kit that could be deposited around the house to be collected later, and the Concorde inspired drop nose.

Flight Simulator 2020: Exciting new ride or a doomed tailspin in a crowded market?


Re: Physics

Did he mean the Bernoulli principle?

Tech support discovers users who buy the 'sh*ttest PCs known to Man' struggle with basics


Just not his area...?

I might have posted this story before but here goes...

Many moons ago I was working for a body shop outsourcer and was doing second line support onsite at a customer.

Said customer decided to insource. Fair enough. The guys the new IT manager recruited were both complete assholes and didn't like the outgoing team as we were helpful to users and accessible.

Anyway, the web master, a contractor so in neither camp, was attempting to run an SQL script on a new server. He was a Microsoft guy through and through but I think the database was Postgres something similar.

Basically the script wouldn't start run.

In desperation they called me over. I had a look and could see the issue as I'd written my degree project in LAMP.

Me - Try it again and end the script with a semi colon.

Them - What!

Me - Just humour me.

Them - Ran script again, ending in a semicolon

Of course it worked.

They still hated me.

The moral of the story is that you can be quite technically competent in one area but clueless in another if you haven't been exposed to it before. The other moral is that assholes are assholes.

Support whizz 'fixes' screeching laptop with a single click... by closing 'malware-y' browser tab


I was that luser

Not that particular one but I remember early on in my IT career being issued with a hand me down laptop.

It didn't play any sound, which was annoying as I wanted to watch training videos.

I did what every self respecting would be techie would do and made sure the Windows volume mixer wasn't at zero, reinstalled drivers and tested it with headphones to see if the sound car was broken. As a last resort I called IT Support.

4 days later they came to my desk, muttered that they hoped it was the simple solution, and pressed the mute button on the side of the laptop. Bingo, the red light went out and the sound came on.

On the seventh anniversary of Steve Jobs' death, we give you 7 times he served humanity and acted as an example to others


Re: All true

My wife's met Lisa Jobs.

Said she was alright. Quite quiet, didn't mention her dad.

How an over-zealous yank took down the trading floor of a US bank


Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

When I was on a hell desk and users reported that the printer was jamming I used to calmly and professionally ask if it was jazz or reggae.

User spent 20 minutes trying to move mouse cursor, without success


Not Millennials!

I think you might misunderstand the term Millennials. It refers to kids born in the 21st century.

Anyone who used a BBC micro at school is undoubtedly from Generation X.

My PC is on fire! Can you back it up really, really fast?



I was working on a helldesk for a major teaching & research hospital in London circa 2005.

I received a call from a researcher who had all their research on their PC and wanted to back it up to Zip drive or similar. Great idea. Trouble was that their PC (unsupported by the Outsourcer I was working for) was running Windows 95. They had some USB ports but Windows 95 wouldn't support them and they couldn't buy a Zip drive with a parallel cable any more. Could we help?

Contractually we couldn't help at all and if they had come through to anybody else on the helldesk they wouldn't have had any luck however they came through to me and I had 1) a pragmatic attitude, 2) a legal Windows 98 upgrade CD. I closed the ticket and sent the disk to them in the internal post with instructions to do an upgrade without overwriting the disk data and the usual caveats.

A week or so later I got the CD back with a little note about how the upgrade had gone perfectly and thanks for the help.

Not sure why I'm writing this except to show an example of a helldesk drone going above and beyond in the call of duty, and because I'm putting off my mornings task of rewriting ISO 27001 documentation.

Your mouse can't reach that Excel cell? Buy a 'desk extender' said help desk bluffer


Re: Windows 2.1x

ALT+Tab to switch focus to the lost window

ALT Spacebar M

Then use the cursors to move your window back to your desktop then hit Escape or click somewhere with your mouse stop the errant window moving.

It didn't work on Windows 10 recently but I use 3 screens now, all of different sizes and resolutions which confuses my Surface's graphics chip.

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



I managed to graduate with an IT degree straight into a recession.

The only IT related job I could find at first was Christmas cover at the well known IT retailer's Lakeside Essex branch.

That was "educational". Being told to give great customer service then being told off for giving great customer service...

The sad thing is that on the techie side there were some quite knowledgeable people. And in those days they did a really good book section. Shame about the sales side and the products they were flogging.

After 3 months I'd had quite enough and had found another temp job effectively software testing.

The way they had of telling me my contract was over was to simply not put me on the next week's rota. B*stards. Still, saved me the bother of resigning.

'Please store the internet on this floppy disk'


Re: Office 2000 rollout

I used to change mine to that wizard playing with the water melon.

I didn't think there was anything "American Pie" about what he was doing. I just used to find it quite incongruous.

The UK's super duper 1,000mph car is being tested in Cornwall

Thumb Up

Science and Engineering for the hell of it

The purpose of Bloodhound is to push the boundaries of what is possible and is known.

In other words - Why do it? Because we can't (yet).

For example - we know that we can fly aircraft at very high speeds but the air kind of gets out of the way. What happens to soil at when something is running over it at 1000mph? No one knows whether the shockwave from the supersonic air will pulverise the ground or not because no one has done it before.

How do you create wheels of the necessary size that rotate that fast without them disintegrating from centripetal forces? This will have applications in other machines.

Compsci grads get the fattest pay cheques six months after uni – report


They have the National Centre for Computer Animation or something.

I've seen some of their grads' work and it is pretty impressive.

MH370 researchers refine their prediction of the place nobody looked

Black Helicopters


We'd like to map this bit of the ocean floor please.

Give us lots of money and we'll do it on the pretext of looking for a missing plane.

GoDaddy CEO says US is 'tech illiterate' (so, yeah, don't shut off that cheap H-1B supply)


Re: @ yank

Wanted programmer


CS degree

5 years experience

Java, C#, SQL

Must speak and write fluent Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi (to communicate with overseas colleagues)

Salary - less than a US college leaver

Put that up on the job boards, get no takers then you can legitimately apply for a H1B as there's nobody in the States suitably qualified.

Forget aircraft – now cretins are laser-blinding ferry boat crewmen


Re: Bah!

Is there actually a legitimate use for a handheld laser that powerful?

Apart from amusing cats/presentations I don't know why anyone would want a laser pointer and they don't need to be any more powerful than a simple torch.

Support chap's Sonic Screwdriver fixes PC as user fumes in disbelief


Magic hands

A former employer had taken on a tech refresh and outsource contract at a government funded "charity".

Part of the tech refresh involved supplying Dell 15" LCD monitors, which were quite a novelty at the time.

Randomly users would come in in the morning to find that their monitors weren't working. Cue irate phone calls to the Hell Desk about the shoddy kit we had supplied.

As desktop support we would go to the users' desks and wail, "work, work, WORK", while waving our hands around the bezel of the monitor. At which point the monitors would spring to life.

We kept this up for a few weeks until the users twigged that there was a physical switch on the right hand side of the monitors as well as a soft switch on the front. The cleaners would accidentally turn off the switch and we were just turning them on again.

Met Police: Yes, outsourcing IT to Steria has 'risks'



Isn't "towers" just an other word for silos?

I can see what the management theorist who came up with SIAM was thinking but in the real world it's hard enough when one organisation is trying to sort out the bun fight between different teams. When each team is provided by a different company all trying to prove that it isn't their fault and the work shouldn't go against their budget I can only foresee impasse and failure.

Microsoft: Even cheapo Lumias to get slimmed down Windows 10


Re: With an utter lack of scientific and statistical rigour...

I'd agree with this. I got bored with my iPhone and loath Android so got a Lumia 2 years ago and haven't looked back. It is a bit clunky in places but generally easy to use, well made and clear to look at.

My employers now issue Lumias as standard now as we can't source suitable BlackBerries through our mobile phone supplier.

If it wasn't for a lack of apps I'd probably keep mine longer term but I've just changed to a SIM only tariff and might change to an iPhone 6 if the mood takes me.

EE still has fastest, fattest 4G pipe in London's M25 ring


Don't use it - please!

In contrast to EE's lamentable 3G reliability at the weekends when I would regularly get DNS errors I've found their 4G service fast and rock solid.

On Sunday I was watching the cycling on the Embankment and my Lumia 820 would load websites really quickly whereas Mrs MEH's iPhone 4 on EE's 3G service would struggle to open a page.

I was flogged a good package when I upgraded as well.

However, as I don't want to the hoi polloi clogging up the network, I'll claim it is rubbish and not worth upgrading to!

400 million Chinese people can't speak Chinese: Official


Well done that man

I lived in Finland for 16 months and was just about getting used to it at the end.

Not only is the grammar totally different to English but the letters are pronounced in the German rather than English manner.

On top of that the Finns weren't very error tolerant of mis-pronunciation and it wasn't just me; other foreigners found the same. I lived in Hyvinkää, pronounced Hoo-vink-uh. Pronounce it Hi-vink-ah and the would look at you like you were from Mars. I tried ordering a beer once in a pub using "sanko olut" and they couldn't even guess what I wanted.

And I got better at it than many of my ex-pat colleagues who had been there a lot longer. Finnish girlfriends became a bit a necessity.

There's an English film maker who lives there and is practically bilingual so it can be done.

'Ultimate nerd chick’ prompts C64 clone cancellation


Re: Poor sod

By launching an ambitious but uncosted computer he was emulating the 1980s home microcomputer business model a bit too closely.

CIOs: Don't listen to tech vendors on ICT skills, listen to US


Re: Pay

They don't want a UK grad.

What the company there is doing is advertising a job in the UK on crummy terms so that they can then legitimately advertise the job internationally and get someone in from abroad on the cheap, citing "skills shortages" in the area.

Call their bluff. Go for it. My guess is that it costs less to live in Bournemouth than London and at least you would get a years experience before leaving for something better paid.

NASA: THE TRUTH about the END OF THE WORLD on 21 Dec


Leap years?

I read somewhere that the Mayans didn't use leap years, only 365 day years, so their 21st Dec 2012 has been and gone.

Personally I'm not buying my Christmas presents until Christmas eve, just in case.

What killed Motorola? Not Google! It was Moto's dire software


So buggy

I had a Motorola flip phone. A T44i with detachable camera IIRC.

It took 1 minute to boot which was an eternity compared to the Nokias I was used to.

But worse than that was the way the Contacts directory was ordered B-Z,A.

I was just shocked it wasn't picked up in testing.

After that I went back to Nokias but found their software increasingly buggy as well so I bought a Sony Ericsson which I hated so moved to an iPhone 3GS when they came out and haven't changed since.

How spreadsheets (nearly) conquered and killed the financial industry


The VBA can be useful though...

At a commodity company I was application support for the traders wanted a straight through processing system set up that would feed the trades from the third party trading system to their third party accounting system.

While I got that arranged I wrote them a little VBA app that read in a file of trades at the end of the day, changed the format so it fitted the accounting systems requirements, and fed it into the accounting system.

When the STP was delivered the traders complained because it didn't consolidate the trades.

It was switched off after a few weeks. 5 years later the VBA is still being used. I'm long gone.

Go on - downvote me for using VBA, the lowest form of programming.

Mars rover Curiosity gets ready to blast its first rock


Big Trak

Giving a tank commands to drive remotely then checking where it has got to.

Firing a laser at things.

Curiosity is an overgrown Big Trak!

UK High Court split over Twitter airport bomb joke


Living dangerously

I'm amazed he still has a Twitter account.

Free speech and all that but you wouldn't think he'd risk it again.

Twelve... classic 1980s 8-bit micros


Tape errors

I had a Dragon 32 and there was quite a bit of software for it all trying to get the best out of its weird graphics display with only a few colours in each high res mode.

What nobody seems to mention is the "fun" of adjusting your tape player's volume and tone controls to get a damm game to load. I resorted to writing on the cassette boxes - Vol high, tone low or vol medium, tone medium.

One of the attractions of the Amstrads was that the built in tape deck took away all the hassle.

Even into the mid 90s my doctors' surgery had a network of Dragon 64s.

Five ways Microsoft can rescue Windows Phone


Nokiaholics Anonymous

Having had numerous Nokias, until their buggy software pissed me off in the late naughties, I really want Nokia to succeed.

What is puttting me off is the version number: WP 7.5. I think I'll wait until WP 8 thank you very much.

What I'd like to see is Nokia to have a lot more influence into the next version so they can bring their experience of hardware management (especially battery life) and the UI to WP8.

I just don't know if Microsoft can get a way from the desktop mentality of expecting the hardware to keep up with the software bloat instead of writing to meet the limitations of screensize and battery life.

Gimp because I don't want to admit to wanting a Microsoft/Nokia on El Reg.

Nokia: When pigeons fly home to roast


Blackberry Instant Messaging

Da yoof want Blackberries because they all communicate through Blackberry Instant Messaging which they get free. Texting and dataplans cost. Blackberry IM is thrown in with their deals.

Boy George promises to cut employment rights



Hang on! If I leave my job for another one then I take the hit on losing years of service and probably holiday but that's my choice

If my employers decide to transfer me to work for someone else then why should I start from the beginning again? It wasn't my choice to leave.

In principle I generally support the Torys but every now and again they really should remember they are supposed to be governing for the benefit of the people.

Android malware attacks show perils of Google openness


This title is not in use

If I go to a supermarket to buy cornflakes I expect the supermarket to have strong enough vetting of its suppliers and supply lines to ensure that my cornflakes are just cornflakes and don't have rat droppings or powdered glass in them.

If I buy an app from Apple's App Store I expect Apple to have done some basic vetting to protect their brand reputation. This isn't to say that I don't occasionally get apps that freeze or crash for no good reason but I had a browse through the Android Market and, from the feedback, there appears to be some real crap in there. Total Google fail. They might release software constantly in Beta but paying customers deserve more.

If I buy cornflakes directly off the Internet then it's buyer beware and if I get Weill's disease then that's my fault. The same goes for buying smartphone software off the Internet and I don't mind the Jobsian walled garden if it means I don't have to worry about viruses.

I do wonder what this will do for Android's reputation if the great unwashed get to hear of it. Maybe Nokia's move wasn't as dumb as it first appeared?

Logica nets ten-year police deal


Surely shome mistake

Name a public sector contract that Logica have screwed up?

They have numerous public sector contracts that never make the news, presumably because they work well rather than good news management.

Are you not mistaking them for Fujitsu, Accenture or Capita?

Tories would take an axe to Labour IT policy


Stating the obvious

"It may sound obvious, but best consultancy practice nowadays recognises that sometimes the most effective ideas come not from senior management, but from those working on the shop floor."


How about - "usually"?

And how long has it taken management consultants to realise that the people who do a job day to day are the ones most aware of the problems, issues and what could be done to resolve them? Something the Japanese have been aware of for decades.

O2 just can't keep it up


PGP failure

My data access was out for most of Saturday daytime from what I recall. I was too pissed in the evening to notice the state of the signal.

When I rebooted my iPhone and tried again it told me "PGP Authentication Failure" or something similar.

And I had been trying to race a mate to yahoo.com with me on Safari on my Jesus phone and him with Opera on his Nokia Communicator brick. Both of us on O2, neither of us could get data.

Badgers because they obviously nibbled through a cable.

Tech can make Britain Great again


Teach tech not using PCs

Can't agree more with Stef 4. Although Outsourcing isn't as much an issue as Offshoring.

Currently government thinking makes as much sense as saying we are a great engineering nation because we drive cars designed and built in Germany.

Incidentally, can someone with offspring of school age tell me what programming languages, if any are taught in ICT? I was "taught" to program with BBC BASIC for my O level and then RM Pascal for my A level.

Unless programming, even VBA, is actually taught in schools I can't see how we can ever leverage tech as a nation. Showing kids how to use Paint and getting them to produce squiggles doesn't really cut the mustard.

Robosub prowls Pacific's hadal depths

Thumb Up

Great - Now put it to use

Perhaps they could sail full steam ahead for the Air France crash site in the Atlantic and locate the black boxes while they are still giving off a location signal.

You did what? The trials of supporting remote users


IT Iliterates

Not sure if this is quite in the spirit of the article as it doesn't really concern remote users, although I did have to support users while I was working at home, through a 56k dial up connection. In 2004.

The hospital where I was on the Servicedesk had a high proportion of Nigerian and Filipino nurses. They might have been great nurses but they sure weren't IT literate. I think we take it for granted that people in this country will have grown up with them. Not so in developing countries.

Anyway - one evening I take a call. They can't log on. So I reset their password. They still can't log on. Their PC wasn't accepting remote viewing so I reset the password again. "Now you are putting in jsmith as a username aren't you?", they assured me they were. Still no joy. I again checked that he was sure he knew what his username was and he was using that. Oh yes, he knew that and he was using it like he always did.

It was the end of my shift so I said I would go around to the ward and see what was going on. This was totally outside my remit as we had desktop guys for that. So I go around there and he was using john.smith as a username. D'oh!

The name has been changed to protect the guilty.

Most 'malfunctioning' gadgets work just fine, report claims


Fault or useability?

I used to have a Motorola mobile.

Took 1 minute to boot up and then my contacts were listed alphabetically from B-Z, A.

Were these faults? To me that is an eternity to boot and there was clearly no software testing so it looks like there was an array indexing problem.

I'm abnormally tolerant of these things so lived with the phone for a year then upgraded back toa Nokia and swore never to touch a Motorola again.

Others might have returned the phone as faulty.


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