* Posts by Mike Pellatt

457 posts • joined 17 Apr 2007


Brexit travel permits designed to avoid 7,000-lorry jams come January depend on software that won't be finished till April

Mike Pellatt

A Cabinet Office official told Bloomberg that beta is a standard labelling practice for a digital service that is fully operational. Experienced IT professionals may contest this definition.

What a liar. Alpha is a standard labelling practice in the world of Government service for a digital service that is fully operational. For at least six years.

For that's how long the Dartford Crossing Payments page has been labelled "alpha"

I had a spat on here with an ex-GDS geezer who said "Nothing to do wiv us guv, it's someone else". Even though, of course, it's clearly labelled as a gov service. Apparently the branding isn't the point.

Microservices guru says think serverless, not Kubernetes: You don't want to manage 'a towering edifice of stuff'

Mike Pellatt

Re: Don't separate the Devs any further!

Devs should not care about where their code gets deployed

And this is how we got code that assumes >100Mbps network speed.

And this is how we got code that assumes <5mS RTTs.

And this is how we got code that assumes >32GB of memory available.

And this is how we got code that assumes >32 CPUs available.

It's a great theory, but it doesn't work in practice.

You absolutely DO need to know, at the very least, the constraints that will apply where your code gets deployed. Or it won't work. You can't abstract out of reality (unless you call it Brexit, of course)

Woman dies after hospital is unable to treat her during crippling ransomware infection, cops launch probe

Mike Pellatt

Re: Why?

Windows XP, how modern :-)

I sorted out a CNC machine tool controlled by a W98 machine a few years back. Might even have been 95, memory fades. Managed to track down a spare mobo and disk drive that were compatible for spares before they became (even more) like hen's teeth.

It also had one of those multi-serial-port cards so beloved of green screens connected to *nix back in those days, used to talk to the various components.

'Mindset reset' contributes to £1bn extra costs and another delay – 2 years this time – for Emergency Services Network

Mike Pellatt

Re: Who was the priority?

Who were at the centre of the project?

Why, the vendor(s) of course.

Tech ambitions said to lie at heart of Britain’s bonkers crash-and-burn Brexit plan

Mike Pellatt

Re: well maybe

Make the tax system even more complicated than it already is.

Great idea.

Almost as good as needing 50,000 customs clerks.

Mike Pellatt

Re: Well it's kind of a good idea but...

Since Cummings' job advert for arse-lickers, sorry, fellow SPADs, in his blog back in January demonstrated his technical understanding so well, via his description of SQL as an "analytical language", I am quite sure he has the skill to pick the next big tech success.

Or maybe not.

With a million unwanted .uk domains expiring this week, Nominet again sends punters pushy emails to pay up

Mike Pellatt

Nominet used to be a shining light above the cesspit of the domain registry business.

Not any more. It's a tragedy.

CenturyLink L3 outage knocks out web giants and 3.5% of all internet traffic

Mike Pellatt

Re: Great reporting

When it _is_ Cloudflare, though, they are exemplary at:

a) putting their hands up

b) Giving a detailed explanation of what went wrong

c) Giving a fully detailed exposition of what they're doing/have done to prevent a recurrence.

No corporate ass-convering by PR droids from them. Like I said, exemplary.

Putting the d'oh! in Adobe: 'Years of photos' permanently wiped from iPhones, iPads by bad Lightroom app update

Mike Pellatt

Re: Class action suit in 3... 2... 1...

Except, of course, for users who acted on the old adage:

"There are two sorts of data. Data that has been backed up and data that has not been lost yet".

For them, the data hasn't been lost.

Analogue radio given 10-year stay of execution as the UK U-turns on DAB digital future

Mike Pellatt

Re: World radio

Hmm. Local community station's not on it.


Mike Pellatt

Don't be too disappointed. It could have been:

The U-turn "ensures there is no disruption for loyal listeners of world-beating FM and AM radio services such as Classic FM, Absolute Radio and TalkSport over the next decade," boasted media minister John Whittingdale

Mike Pellatt

Re: DAB Is dead in the water

Yep, I'm wondering whether it was worth purchasing the DAB antenna for my Android head unit.

You're right, I'm not actually wondering any more. It wasn't worth it.

'It's really hard to find maintainers...' Linus Torvalds ponders the future of Linux

Mike Pellatt

Re: I wonder why?

And there's a way to do it that will be a learning point so they don't f**k up and find themselves being fired again. I'd much rather that outcome for someone I have to "let go" (no, I wouldn't use that phrase).

"Too polite" is a thing, too.

Mike Pellatt

Re: I wonder why?

People do their best work when they're supported by those above them in a hierarchy

Indeed. But the problem there is the hierarchical structure. In an effective collaborative environment, one person can have a good old rant about what someone else has done, and as there's good peer relationships, the problem gets resolved and everyone moves on to the next challenge.

It's a (long) while since I even looked at the kernel dev process, but despite an initial appearance from the outside of it being a pyramid with Linus at the top, that wasn't how it worked.

Though quite how systemd got its claws in remains.a mystery to me. Unless RedHat have gone to the dark side......

Mike Pellatt

Re: Just give it to Poettering...

Obviously, or I, for one, wouldn't have upvoted it.

This isn't Twitter, where it's impossible to tell :-)

UK's Ministry of Defence: We'll harvest and anonymise private COVID-19 apps' tracing data by handing it to 'behavioural science' arm

Mike Pellatt

Re: Quelle Surprise!

Ha! I tried to use an Office 365 mailmerge into Outlook recently for a mail to a subset of my entire company.

Turns out (after 30 mins work) it doesn't work if you want an attachment on the email.

Back to Bcc: it was.

UK finds itself almost alone with centralized virus contact-tracing app that probably won't work well, asks for your location, may be illegal

Mike Pellatt

Re: And what about the people ...

There is GPS-enabled footwear for that. Much less, errrr, intrusive.

Mike Pellatt

Re: Hanlon's razor

Nothing wrong with 2 people in the car going shopping.

We shop for 3 other households who are shielding, plus 1 or 2 others with mobility issues. Plus, of course, ourselves.

Try shopping for up to 6 households on your own.

Britain has no idea how close it came to ATMs flooding the streets with free money thanks to some crap code, 1970s style

Mike Pellatt

Re: The past is another counttry.

Beer (OK, Watneys Red) was around 2s 6d a pint when I started drinking in pubs in 1970 (age 15, of course). 12.5p to you.

45 years ago was 1975. Inflation hit 25% in that year alone, 20% the year before.

Some google research indicates 25p a pint in pubs was about right in London in 1978 (which suggests beer price rises were below inflation back then). So, I don't think he was (particularly) being ripped off.

Of course, SU bars were much cheaper back then.

Here, thanks to pubs being closed, our local brewery is putting a barrel outside 2 or 3 times a week, self-serve for £1 a pint in an honesty box (villagers only!!!). Happy days.

Cloudflare goes retro with COBOL delivery service. Older coders: Who's laughing now? Turns out we're still vital

Mike Pellatt

My COBOL horror story is hand-tweaking the COBOL runtime overlays on RSX-11 to get every required one into memory for each overnight batch program on a banking system.

Because an overlay had to be swapped in at all, the runs wouldn't complete overnight.

That's what you call hand optimisation.

Mike Pellatt

Ah, one to beat this one (from Sys V make, not gnu make unfortunately)

$ make "Maggie resign"

Don't know how to make Maggie resign. Stop.

Mike Pellatt


Mike Pellatt

Re: "you can compile COBOL code to C and then use Emscripten to compile..."

Back in the day, when emulators first became A Thing, there was a saying.

"Emulation's like masturbation. Do it often enough, and you forget what the real thing's like"

Microsoft frees Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 from the shackles of, er, Windows?

Mike Pellatt

Re: @Snake - Microsoft shooting itself in the foot?

You've fallen into the classic misunderstanding of the word "free" in F/OSS, and consequently setup a strawman.

Repeat after me:

"Free as in speech, not free as in beer"

Notwithstanding this being a strawman, I will offer a counter-argument, I can show you numerous cases of a supplier's promises not having due diligence applied to them, and the time and effort (along with at least some of the purchase/licensing costs) being wasted.

I'd also posit that applying full due diligence and fit-for-purpose tests to commercial software is not that different from the costs of considering F/OSS.

Mike Pellatt

Re: Or bigger still..

Nice idea, but fixing all the edge cases from the differing filesystem semantics will be challenging. Not to say it's impossible, but...

Chips that pass in the night: How risky is RISC-V to Arm, Intel and the others? Very

Mike Pellatt

Re: Been here before

Me too.

But by then (mid-80's, time of the 80386) the new kid on the block, and a real dark horse, was the Transputer. I remember one of the UK FAEs really wondering how much of a challenge it would be.

In the end, of course, it turned out as successful as VLIW.

Don't use natwest.co.uk for online banking, Natwest bank tells baffled customer

Mike Pellatt

Still losing money in real terms, though.

Mike Pellatt

Yeah, but good luck with finding a rate that's >50% of the inflation rate (esp for instant access).

Or even >25%.

Investments - risk of losing money.

Cash savings - guarantee of losing money.

UK contractors planning 'mass exodus' ahead of IR35 tax clampdown – survey

Mike Pellatt

Except... Making Tax Digital should have levelled that off for HMRC, shirley?

You spoke, we didn't listen: Ubiquiti says UniFi routers will beam performance data back to mothership automatically

Mike Pellatt

Re: "In other words, you ain't got no choice."

The FTD/FMC combo.

Impenetrable and incomprehensible doesn't begin to cover it.

Not to mention the speed(sic) of config change deployment.

Mike Pellatt

Re: "In other words, you ain't got no choice."

Or OPNSense

Came here to say that. OPNSense doesn't seem to be so well known, am spreading the word to everyone who says they use pfSense, and the general response is "hadn't heard of that ".

The last person was well impressed with the improved GUI.

Hapless AWS engineer spilled passwords, keys, confidential internal training info, customer messages on public GitHub

Mike Pellatt

Re: Engineer ?

Because unless you have a professional engineering qualification and undertake CPD, validated by a recognised professional association, you shouldn't have the label "engineer".

Germany is (or at least, was) very, very, very hot on this.

Our lives are as much in engineers' hands as doctors', and woe betide anyone who calls themselves a doctor of medicine when they're not. Should be the same for engineers.

Presumably amongst the divergence that our wonderful UK Government wants from EU regulations, the current Eur Ing recognition will be one we have inflicted on us.

The Curse of macOS Catalina strikes again as AccountEdge stays 32-bit

Mike Pellatt

Re: How can it take MULTIPLE YEARS to go 64 bit?

Gosh, if that was an OS you were describing there, you'd be describing SCO Unix.

All its compatibility problems with modern hardware are now addressed by it being only sold to run in a VM.

A VM running in FreeBSD, if you get the whole shebang from XinuOS. Now headquartered in that hotbed of technical advancement, US Virgin Islands.

Squirrel away a little IT budget for likely Brexit uncertainty, CIOs warned

Mike Pellatt

Re: 2019?

I think he confused the EU with NATO, there.

"Empire". Whatever.

IT exec sets up fake biz, uses it to bill his bosses $6m for phantom gear, gets caught by Microsoft Word metadata

Mike Pellatt

Re: idiot

Agreed with you up to here:

It's like complaining that a file created in unix has the creators username and time attached - where is the privacy!! It even logs atime and mtime!!!

It's nothing like that. The metadata you describe is stored in the inode - the file's low-level directory entry on the filesystem. It's not stored as part of the file, so if it is copied to another system - by email, f'rinstance - that metadata is lost. Well, at least that's true for classic Unix and ext[234].

That is a world away from metadata embedded in the file, in terms of privacy. And auditability.

It's always DNS, especially when you're on holiday with nothing but a phone on GPRS

Mike Pellatt

Re: GPRS? Luxury!

God, the VT52, non-ANSI predecessor to the VT100.....

Then there was Newbury Data, who made VDUs affordable. Had a pile of them in the HENP group at Imperial, hooked up to the DecSystem 10 via a DC-10 (not the aeroplane), whose RS232 interface had been created by kludging the current loop TTY interface. Badly.

You brought back memories there.

Mike Pellatt

Re: No Service

Ah yes. That option. Was talking to the local Parish Council about my company's plans for FTTH into the village, and the possibility of our providing some public WiFi. One member commented that the lack of mobile coverage, WiFi and (even) decent wired Internet was what attracted some people to the place.

Quick as a flash, I pointed out that there was always the "off" button. Sage nods of agreement all round the room.

JavaScript survey: Devs love a bit of React, but Angular and Cordova declining. And you're not alone... a chunk of pros also feel JS is 'overly complex'

Mike Pellatt

Re: Doesn't paint JavaScript in the best light...

Rarely do we see evidence that real UI designers - people with actual understanding of UI theory, doing actual UI research - were involved.

Certainly no such evidence when it comes to the Windows UI. I still want to know what the guys who dreamt up the Ribbon for Office, whilst keeping the rest of the Windows UI as the "traditional" one were smoking.

Coz I ain't going near it.

Why can't passport biometrics see through my cunning disguise?

Mike Pellatt

Re: Security passcodes

This was France.

You're trying to apply logic.

Give up now, it can only end in tears.

That's Microsoft price: Now you can enjoy a BSOD from the comfort of your driving seat

Mike Pellatt

Re: Topical

_new_ Microsoft idea?

Remind me again when they introduced the Ribbon, which is when it all started.

I'd have been quite happy (well, not really...) if they'd ribbonised everything, but the bastardised half-ribbon, half-traditional interface they left Outlook with for what seemed like decades was just plain insane.

IT contractor has £240k bill torn up after IR35 win against UK taxman

Mike Pellatt

Re: Appeal?

Which is actually just like a criminal appeal. Unless new evidence has come to light or a arguable case can be made that the law was misapplied, an appeal won't be heard.

UK tech freelancer numbers down for first time in 5 years since IR35 tax reforms hit public sector

Mike Pellatt


I suppose I don't need to point out the problem here, as the commentariat is so intelligent,


that's not even an apples and oranges comparison.

It's an apples and lolcats comparison.

Smokers as a population have horrendous smoking-induced health problems, that our entire society pays for (at least in the UK's healthcare funding methodology). Reducing smoking reduces the health problems too, and that's actually a net gain to the public purse even if the tax take from tobacco products drops (at least in actuarial timescales). Before we even go into "nanny state" arguments.

The IR35 issue is effectively a self-contained financial one. Even more self-contained when it comes to public sector contractors, as someone further up pointed out. It has no (direct) impacts into other arenas.

Europe publishes 5G risk assessment; America scrawls ‘Huawei’ on the side of a nuke and goes for a ride

Mike Pellatt

Re: design

.....can you run the 5G network independently from the supplier

The answer will inevitably be "no". Well, you theoretically could. But I very much doubt that it will be practically achiveable.

Are you who you say you are, sir? You are? That's all fine then

Mike Pellatt

Re: Not quite a bereavement..

Dig out the youtube of a 1990's docu on British Railways - "Old, dirty and late"

It has the inevitable "one-under". See the passengers being detrained via a single step half way down the side of the train. No chance today. But the best bit at 33' 26":

MOM (Mobile Operations Manager) to paramedics: "Have we certified the body dead yet ?"

Paramedic "Well, yeah, he's got no head"

Wouldn't see that on TV these days.

Mike Pellatt

Re: Amateur Banks

Those cards were longer ago than you think. Early to mid 70's. I remember 'coz I had one in my student days, '73-'76.

Duck-duck-going reveals that the British Museum have one in their collection, 1972


Indeed, it was the late 60's when they were introduced !!


Handcranked HTML and JPEG japes. What could possibly go wrong?

Mike Pellatt

Re: Hand cranked code?

IIRC MS Publisher could also output crap


Microsoft blocked TSO Host's email IPs from Hotmail, Outlook inboxes and no one seems to care

Mike Pellatt

Real issue I think is a quick and effective means of saying Oy! this email is genuine which the spammers won't find a way around in milliseconds.

Good luck with that.

Another rewrite for 737 Max software as cosmic bit-flipping tests glitch out systems – report

Mike Pellatt

Re: Idiology: the beliefs of idiots

Much the same with building control here.

Whilst not wishing to pre-empt the conclusions of the inquiry - it does seem Grenfell is (partly) a result of this.

And the Tories, without a hint of irony, still speak of a "bonfire of regulations".

Mike Pellatt

Re: So...


I remember when fly-by-wire was first mooted, the principle was to use three systems, with a common high-level system design but independently developed, then have 2-out-of-3 voting on the outputs.

Whatever happened to that principle for safety-critical systems ?? Presumably too expensive ?

How does UK.gov fsck up IT projects? Let us count the ways

Mike Pellatt

Re: How do you hold a supplier to account?

"If you refuse to work with them again, you run out of contractors because the number of companies in any area of industry capable of taking on a hundred million pound project can be counted on the fingers of one hand."

See "Railway franchising"



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