* Posts by Stevie

7228 posts • joined 12 Jun 2008

Thinnet cables are no match for director's morning workout


Re: our boss was adamant

Yeah, I once worked at a company that worked like that. It was the DP equivalent of Grace Bros., and our DPM was the spit of Dilbert's PHB in every way.

US judge dismisses Republican efforts to block release of Salesforce emails


Re: "That's all the protesters on 6th January were after"

Waiting for the inevitable "Biden laptop" reference ...

Autonomous Mayflower to attempt Atlantic crossing, again


Re: Not the ultimate goal ?

"the rest of a ships crew are (as the article already indicated) always busy with maintenance tasks"

That would be just as true with the crashed aircraft finding sonar drone ship though.

Once the ship is shown to be capable of making the atlantic crossing those maintenance jobs become redefined, possibly as in-port jobs.

Not that I disagree that this idea is nuts. Saltwater and electronics do not mix well.


Re: Ideally they'd run off solar/wind

Because side scan sonar is so economic with the electricity.

Considering the actual business involved in doing a deep water undersea wreck search rather than simply lading and unlading cargo containers this idea simply does not stack up agains the cargo boat idea.




Meetings in the metaverse: Are your Mikes on?


Re: already zoom is often comic

Just sat through a two-day course given by a pair of eyes and a forehead.


Re: private Tiswas Mode

How about Spy vs Spy mode, wherein one can set elaborate cheesy traps for each other?

Ejector seat chairs, boxing-glove-onna-spring in the photocopier, bucket of whitewash over door etc.

Your software doesn't work when my PC is in 'O' mode


Lightbulb Fring

Amazing how many people don't believe that tungsten filament lightbulbs pop on being turned on.

I had a floodlight bulb in a bathroom that lasted for 30+ years because the switch had a dimmer built in and no rocker on/off like modern dimmer switches do.

Just like in a theatre, fading up - even really quickly - saves the bulbs.

Had a car that ate headlights and tried to get my EE Dad to help me design an in-line fader (he was fading fast himself and I hoped to revive his spirits with a nice little project) but he had no interest even when I expleined that I wasn't worried about overvolting in my own car (which he obsessed on) as much as economy in all the cars I'd ever own.

"Fortunately" a mechanic overfilled the engine oil on that car and killed it.


Trouble Believing It


British motorists will be allowed to watch TV in self-driving vehicles


Re: Bah!

Why would I need a car for work?

I work in IT. I can work remotely.

Many of the commuters on my train are using Uber anyway. Why not driverless Uber?


Re: Bah!

You missed the part about exchanging batteries then?


Re: Bah!

Not if you read for comprehension.


Re: Bah!

1) Easy to design a train that can break at random points along its length without the - unpowered remember - rest of the train rolling to a halt in the freeway?

Don't think so.

2) Real electric trains don't work to the powered tractor unpowered train model. Why would road-based versions work that way?

3) The streamlining issue is a bum steer. At 55-70 mph there is no need to worry overmuch about super-streamlining.

My vision simply reurposes the car. The road stays the same.


How are cars subsidised in any way?

The gasoline is subsidized for the same effect here in the USA.

At least, that’s the theory.



I imagine a future when my drive from NY to Florida down I95 could be done with me sitting in the equivalent of a 6-person railway carriage, wrap-around sofas, entertainments on tap, and not a steering wheel in sight. Basically, a train in which the carriages can go where the passengers need when they need to go.

A leisurely trip to Florida, overnighting in the car as it tootles along if I don’t want to break my journey, no need to face forward, watch the traffic (and traffic jams - those will be a thing of rarity when everyone is doing it my way) and no steering wheel needed.

The car would stop to service itself (swapping out batts maybe to cut down on wait time) and let me use facilities not included inside the cabin. I could tell it I want to shop for something on the way, or I want to stop and eat at a restaurant of such-and-such a type, and it would find the nearest place in which to do those things.

The idea of the car needing to still be a “car” once it can self-drive properly is risible. As is the idea I would need to own (and maintain) the thing.

Oracle already wins 'crypto bug of the year' with Java digital signature bypass


How on earth was a port of this from C++ to Java not a straight line by line rewrite

Welcome to the world of the Cobol Business Programmer, confronted with another stupid floating point datatype in the “newer, better language rewrite” where the scaled decimal belongs.


Client demo in 30 minutes. Just what could go wrong?


Prototype app outperforms and outlasts outsourced production version


nothing more permanent

From Datalink, circa 1979:

One-Off Program: Utility, before the second run.

IT blamed after HR forgets to install sockets in new office


Re: Similar tale in a hospital


Saving a loved one from a document disaster


Re: simple hot-key


WordPerfect made Clive Sinclair key function overloading look amateurish.

File suffixes: Who needs them? Well, this guy did



One for the old Univac/Sperry Univac/Unisys crowd:

I was once asked to bundle up an application and send it and all the (empty except for configuration data) files it needed to another site across the country (never underestimate the bandwidth of a truck full of tapes barreling down the interstate: Tannenbaum), where "Univac experts" would install the same application and re-configure it to their needs.

I got a phone call a week later from an irate on-site expert: "You forgot to send SYS$DLOC$ ..."



Once had the pleasure of having a colleague from what they considered to be the most important office screeching at me that I "had configured <software> with a bunch of resources specified" - which was a problem in their office because they had rolled-their-own when it came to allocating shared resource pointers instead of using the computer manufacturer's automatic configurationatorizer like everyone else in the world, and those "specified" resources were "KNOWN to be reserved in the head office".

(I had the job of configuring this software in my office because I took a brief break from the madhouse to work for the manufacturer and knew how it all worked. Would that I had stayed there.)

I listened to the rant and then said I had no idea what the person was talking about as I had simply allowed the software installation to take defaults.

More ranting, until it transpired the person (who was sneakily trying to steal my job wrt this software and - because they couldn't bring themselves to speak to me rather than at me - was unaware I would happily give the job away) was looking at the configuration report file and *not* the configuration itself.

My sweetly delivered "Why on earth didn't you just ask me where to look?" must've been like drinking battery acid to that twit.


Re:Reading data from a file is not inherently dangerous.


Grins as he remembers the umptytump ways one can screw up terminals by people opening files with certain "harmless" character strings in them"

Must be nice to live in a world with only two flavours of O/S.

Fisher Price's Bluetooth reboot of pre-school play phone has adult privacy flaw






Who you gonna call? Premium numbers, but a not-so-premium service


Re: the 555 prefix is left unassigned

So how does 555 1212 work?

It's the day before the grand opening but we need a firmware update. It'll be fine


Re: Last minute changes, should be fine...

In my days as a Unisys DBA supporting a CODASYL database the following conversation happened at least once a month.

"The database broken!"

Not as far as I know, it isn't. Why do you think it is?

"Well I know I stored such-and-such a record on the database yesterday, and now it says the record is not on file!"

Did you delete the record?

"Of course not!"

Did someone else do that?"

"No-one would touch my test data!"

Lucky you. What did you change in the program?


So if I do an @PRT,S of all the library elements, the dates will all be at least a week old?

"Well, I DID change something in a subroutine, but it wouldn't effect the program!"

Let me guess. You added a few columns to your subroutine's DATA DIVISION.

"er ..."

You have displaced your calc keys by however many characters in your LINKAGE SECTION. You are chopping the front of the calc key off. That is why your record is not found, assuming your "no-one would touch" assertion is valid.

"So ..."

So you need to go fix your program so all the bits match the one bit you changed.

It got so bad at one point that when someone offered me a listing of their botch job and insisted the database was broken I offered a wager, that if I went through their code and found no cause for concern I would give them a crisp ten dollar bill, but for every protential problem I found they would give me one dollar. I pointed out that before they took the bet I could see I was five dollars up on the deal from what I could see on the first two pages.

That and the old "Your record counts say there are 66 thousand records on the database, but I can only find 60" thing. How many times did I have to tell them to re-establish currency when switching from "in set" to "in area" semantics? Well, I quit before an answer to that was available.


cooking EPROMs at 200C on a baking tray in an oven


Chips go in the deep fryer!

How to destroy expensive test kit: What does that button do?



Er ... isn't this an "On Call" story rather than a "Who Me" confessional?


Re: What ignorant bar steward touched this system?

See: From The Earth To The Moon, episode "Spider".

How do you call support when the telephones go TITSUP*?



Not phone-related.

I transferred into a new department and was asked to replace their "expert scripter" who was retiring. One of the jobs he had written was represented to me as "vital, if this doesn't run we are in big trouble".

Said script ran at regular intervals and sent an email if there was a problem of a certain type. The problem was detected by examining the output of a "ps" command and using "cut" on the output to extract the pid, which was typically 3-4 digits on that hardware.

We had deployed a new Unix infrastructure from another manufacturer and the expert had ported this script to the new hardware, but had never checked it was working.

The expert had also usefully redirected stderr to the bit bucket because he never figured out how to make his dot profiles work for logon shells *and* batch shells and the script would fill the server mailbox with "can't do stty keyboard configuration stuff in batch mode" error messages. Said dot profile had a truly staggering amount of code that I think was trying to find out if it was running in a logon script or not. It certainly had no other purpose, but didn't work anyway. I surmised it was the work of several people. I digress.

As part of another project I sorted out the problem with the dot profile so that it *would* work in both use cases (if tty -s etc of course), and that is when I discovered that:

When the expert had deployed the script on the new servers, he forgot to also deploy the mailing list file with the addresses for that "vital" email, and the script was failing on line 2 as a result.

Smiling to myself I fixed that, and discovered that:

The new hardware was super virtualized. One side-effect was that pids were now 6-8 digits long rather than three or four. The "cut" command presented only the most significant of those digits to the rest of the "logic" and so was not working. At all. The "vital" email would never go out.

So I replaced the "cut" part of a massive pipeline with "awk" and the script started doing what it was supposed to.

And that afternoon the condition it was built to detect came about and fifty bajillion emails went out to the man who had told me how important it was he get said emails.

And BOY was he pissed. "Stop these G_D_ emails!"

So I descheduled the "vital" script.

All-in-all, an avalanche of suck.

Russia: It isn't just us – a bit of an old US rocket might get as close as 5.4km to the ISS


Re: Perhaps it would be if it was your buttocks on the I.S.S.?

Non-luminous object 3 and a third miles away?

Nope. Having ridden the slowly exploding bomb into LEO and having sat in a thin-walled tin can for x days awaiting the arrival of powdered Soviet satelite, the threat of something I won't see coming speeding past (well, not so much, orbital mechanics being what they are) a few miles away is not going to consume much nightmare time in the Steviehead.

Get a grip, man.



So a rocket will pass the ISS at 3.3 miles distance?

Hardly a buttock clencher.

BOFH: What if International Bad Actors designed the vaccine to make us watch more Steven Seagal movies?



Best tale this year.

Nice one.

When civilisation ends, a Xenix box will be running a long-forgotten job somewhere



ICL. "George".

I see what you did there.

Good one. Have an e-beverage.

Swooping in to claim the glory while the On Call engineer stands baffled


Re: re: wrong error message.

Back in the dawn of time I sat in a friend's Viva for a drive from Merrie Coventry to St Ives, Cornwall. He had just rebuilt the front end & suspension having smashed it to hellenbach driving over a pile of hardened asphalt.

Every 50 miles or so it overheated. He insisted he had cleaned the radiator before refitting it, and was totally befuddled by the classic symptom of a blocked radiator.

We drove most of the way with the heater on full blast - in July. The glue holding the soles onto his girlfriend's shoes melted.

After a couple of days of intra-Cornwall boiling over he decided to remove the radiator and several other essential bits of the engine, like the cylinder head (in the campsite - the things you do when you are young, eh?).

While he was tidling around with various bits of the engine he had dismantled in the hope of discovering The Problem I suddenly thought to ask what he had cleaned out the radiator with.


There then followed some class four Words of Power from yours truly and the instruction to go and buy a bottle of vinegar. Over the course of the next hour, using the vinegar as a rinsing agent, we managed to dislodge several large clots of washing powder that were impeding the proper operation of the forward heat exchanger, after which it functioned more or less as it was supposed to.

Then Chief Engineer Dimwit kicked over the rocker box and scattered the head bolts into long grass, requiring him to walk a search pattern in bare feet to find them again.

It was all quite depressing.


Re: At Gene Cash, re: wrong error message.

My dad could fix almost anything by looking at it, but never *ever* read "the destructions".

This precipitated the event one Xmas Day after he had (finally) bought a betamax recorder "so mum could record her programs".

He looks at the remote. He looks at the front of the recorder. Cue 10 minute rant about designing controls on a remote that weren't on the body of the recorder (high-quality chartered engineer ranting I might add).

I spent about a minute in the manual, walked over to the machine which was almost melting under the fiery blaze of said rant and flipped open the drop-down door to reveal the "missing" controls.

Cue five more minutes of harrumphing.

50 years have gone by since the UK's one – and only – homegrown foray into orbit


Re: Unique

Hairspray fuel, nitrox oxidizer, Spud propellent.

In an Apollo 13 scenario, the crew could eat the propellant.

Next up: World Peace.


Re: Farting Nazi Pilots (of Death)

Why would flatulence be a problem?

The cockpit was leaky and the air outside at low pressure.

Alle die schnitzellgaz would leak out of ze cockpit, nein?

I doubt it would build up into an explosion hazard in and of itself.

Orders wrong, resellers receiving wrong items? Must be a programming error and certainly not a rushing techie


Re: A variation...

Got yelled at for loading Dad's self-opening brolly with these back in '71-ish.

He was walking past the fire station heading toward Coventry city centre down the Radford Road when it started to drizzle. He raised his brolly and pressed the trigger and deployed a blizzard of chads - all over the nearby policeman standing downwind.


paper tape chads

My chief programmer's Cherokee Chief* was rendered scrap when the punch girls doused every surface including the engine block (WHY?) with paper tape chads adhered with a light coating of fairy liquid as part of her impending wedding celebration.

The mechanics who stripped the car found spindled chads in the carb jets. which suggests someone had added them to the petrol tank.

* - Hubby to be ran a swank car dealership.


Re: One of the very few regrets

The University of East Climategate was using Fortran IV as of 1977.



Paper tape was better in every respect but one than cards.

You couldn't make roaches from paper tape.

Windows 11 Paint: Oh look – rounded corners. And it is prettier... but slightly worse



I wonder what the demographics would look like if each new iteration of the windows UI came with a "make it look like Windows <insert favorite version>" button?

Mine's the computer that looks like XP. Rounded windows, drop shadows, 3D buttons.

When I want to use a butt-ugly UI that reminds me of an oversized phone I'll go use an ATM at my bank.

FYI: Catastrophic flooding helped carve Martian valleys, not just rivers of water




The erosion was caused by the mighty jaws of the ravenous Martian Rock Clams.

I have an elegant proof of this but there isn't room to show my working here.

You want us to make a change? We can do it, but it'll cost you...


Re: "This seems to be a general issue"

About 20 years ago, I call Sears and tell them I need a warranty repair on my washing machine. I tell them the cycle selector knob ratchet has worn out and it needs a new knob fitting. Please bring a new knob.


Two weeks later I get a confirmation call. I check they will be bringing the knob.

"The technician will determine what's needed when he gets there". I point out that is great, but that he needs to bring the knob because it is a special order part and the machine is U/S without it. They argue. I point out it is a ten dollar part retail. Bring it anyway. "OK"

The day of the repair the guy calls. I ask him if he has the knob. "What knob?" I go through the whole tale again. He pushes back. I point out that he is wasting both our time if he does not bring the knob. He yields.

He turns up, agrees the knob is needed but cannot figure out how it can be changed. So he stands there while I use his pliers to pull off the circlip and the old knob and slide the new knob into place until it clicks. Done.

Sears called six months later to ask if I wanted to extend the warranty ...

Not too bright, are you? Your laptop, I mean... Not you


Re: Windows 10 blank screen

Like my wife's brand new Garmin GPS that insisted it needed to be connected to a computer right out of the box, but blanked the screen as soon as it booted so I couldn't say "Yes please trust the computer you are connecting me to".

Had to charge the battery using a phone charger.

Once the battery was charged I was able to wade through the menus and tell it not to do the blankety-blank thing, but it took about an hour to figure out *after* a five hour battery charge.

US Air Force chief software officer quits after launching Hellfire missile of a LinkedIn post at his former bosses



What concerns me is that the implication here is that crucial security measures are not being taken on *military* hardware that almost certainly *will* be connected to the internet because ... well ... I've never understood why people connect the stuff they do to the internet.

All your lightbulb are belong to Chechnyan baddies - inconvenient.

All your aircraft carrier systems are belong to Chechnyan baddies - quite worrying.

This drag sail could prevent spacecraft from turning into long-term orbiting junk. We spoke to its inventors ahead of launch



Why would the slow-down=shorter time to re-entry thing be counter-intuitive?

Do people reading El Reg truly not understand the terms 'escape velocity' and 'retro rocket'?

Don't you need an O Level in physics as a precursor for a Degree in CS any more?

Hacking the computer with wirewraps and soldering irons: Just fix the issues as they come up, right?


Re: it would have to be a C++

Say that agen an' Ah'll punch thee in t' face!


Re: it would have to be a C++

An object lesson for us all to pay attention in class.


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