* Posts by Alan J. Wylie

497 posts • joined 12 Jul 2008


ALGOL 60 at 60: The greatest computer language you've never used and grandaddy of the programming family tree

Alan J. Wylie

Re: I've used Algol-60 at school

Me too.

Probably 1973/4. We wrote out programs out on coding forms, making sure that our 0/O and 1/I were distinguished (I can't remember any more which one had a slash through it). It was sent off to, IIRC, Lancaster Uni, where it was typed onto punched cards and put through the batch system. A week or two later, we got the output. It took a long time to get anything that would compile. I think mine did run eventually, busily calculating digits of pi until it hit its CPU limit.

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

Alan J. Wylie

Re: The past is another counttry.

I've still got a £10 card from the late 70's / very early 80's. Photos:



The numbers 1 to 20 on front correspond to each usage - a pin punched a small dimple. After 20 usages you got a new one.

Star's rosette orbit around our supermassive black hole proves Einstein's Theory of General Relativity correct

Alan J. Wylie


Who remembers playing with a Spirograph?

So how do the coronavirus smartphone tracking apps actually work and should you download one to help?

Alan J. Wylie

Bluetooth vulnerabilities

Blackview, the manufacturer of my cheap, but rugged device, don't care about releasing new versions of firmware to fix critical Bluetooth vulnerabilities. For this reason, I keep Bluetooth turned off most of the time.

How to make a stranger's insecure 3D printer halt-and-catch-fire – plus more alerts from infosec world

Alan J. Wylie

Halt and catch fire

Nice headline

Not only is Zoom's strong end-to-end encryption not actually end-to-end, its encryption isn't even that strong

Alan J. Wylie

A couple more comments from Bruce Schneier and Matthew Green

How many days of carefree wiping do you have left before life starts to look genuinely apocalyptic? Let's find out

Alan J. Wylie

Re: Personal habits?

Note to self: do not read el reg while eating.....

Then never Google these two words while eating: Bristol Scale.

Stob's vital message to Britain's IT nation: And no, it's not about that

Alan J. Wylie

My humble contribution to confusing phonetics

A are / aisle / aubergine

C cue / cede / canine / cereal

E ewe / ewes / eye / earn

F faze / few

G gnome / genes / gneiss

I Isle

J jay / jeans

K knot, knee, knight, key

N not, night, nice

P phase, phew

Q queue / quay

R rite / rye / rung

S seed / serial

U use / urn

W why / write / wry / wrung

Y Yews

Looming ventilator shortage amid pandemic sparks rise of open-source DIY medical kit. Good thinking – but safe?

Alan J. Wylie

Re: Bloody hell

The first thing we do, let's triage all the lawyers

Alan J. Wylie

Do not let perfect be the enemy of good.

Microsoft, Google, Slack, Zoom et al struggling to deal with a spike in remote tools thanks to coronavirus

Alan J. Wylie

Re: I have noticed..

Cisco Webex was borked yesterday between 14:00 and about 16:45. The app wasn't so badly affected, but the web interface was unusable and it was dropping messages sent through the API.

More than a billion hopelessly vulnerable Android gizmos in the wild that no longer receive security updates – research

Alan J. Wylie


My Blackview BV9600Pro hasn't had an update since I bought it. Still on version 20190430 and telling me "Your device's software is currenly up to date".

Naming and shaming is the only way.

After 1.5 million days of computer time, [email protected] heads home to probe potential signs of alien civilizations

Alan J. Wylie

Folding at Home

For those wondering what to do with their spare CPU cycles, now has never been a better time than to do some Folding at Home to search for new therapies for COVID-19.

Shipping is so insecure we could have driven off in an oil rig, says Pen Test Partners

Alan J. Wylie

At a previous place of work, one of the consultants went to check the security of some of a cruise liner's systems, mostly for on-board purchases and charges. PCI DSS sort of thing. It only took a day or so, but they weren't going to change the ship's schedule, so he got a few free extra days lounging around before it next docked. Nice work, if you can get it.

Roses are red, IBM is Big Blue. It's out of RSA Conference after coronavirus review: IBMers will not attend infosec event over 'health concerns'

Alan J. Wylie

Fortinet Barcelona cancelled


On the bright side, for a couple of my co-workers, they picked up the free flights and accommodation at the last minute.

Alan J. Wylie

Discussion on COVID-19 affecting the upcoming ICANN conference in Cancún, Mexico


Yahoo! hack! payout! nearly! approved! and! the! question! is! how! to! spend! 60! cents!?

Alan J. Wylie

BT used to use Yahoo e-mail. The crooks downloaded entire address books. I run a mailing list for a mountaineering club, and all these years later I'm still getting spam, both to myself and to the mailing list address, purportedly from members, including one who died years ago.

Outlook more like 'look out!' as Microsoft email decides everything is spam today

Alan J. Wylie

Windows Search is down, too.

Windows Search down for many

Ah, night shift in the 1970s. Ciggies, hipflasks, ADVENT... and fault-prone disk drives the size of washing machines

Alan J. Wylie

Re: Ah, that takes me back..

We never ran out of drawing paper as kids

The LA120 printer always fed an extra sheet of paper so the perforations were clear of the sprockets. I collected these and handed them on to a primary school teacher friend of mine who was most grateful.

Alan J. Wylie

Re: DEC field service engineers

Unkindly known as "Field Circus".

The good old days when "field/service" and "systest/uetp" were acceptable username/password combinations.

Alan J. Wylie

A couple of memories: Laser-Scan was frequently visited by VIPs (Prince Philip, Margaret Thatcher to name but two). The server room was cramped, but the dignitaries were always shown around: "VAX 11-780 with half a megabyte of RAM!". Running in shouting "which *** pushed the read-only switch on the drive" after someone had butt-pressed it could be a career limiting move.

Also, if you found a pack on the floor, you didn't just assume it was untidiness: it might have been left on top of the "washing machine" and the vibration could have shaken it off, disturbing the alignment of the platters. Mounting it (in the days when that was a physical action) would almost certainly lead to the destruction of the heads.

Verity Stob is 'Disgusted of HG Wells': Time, gentlemen, please

Alan J. Wylie


Don't, while at work, do a google search for "phub", Not Safe, indeed. I wonder how their "AI" got trained on that one?

Good folk of Forfar: Alan Hattel would like you all to know he's not dead despite what it says on his tombstone

Alan J. Wylie

Dave Swarbrick, the fiddle player, on reading his obituary in The Daily Telegraph: "It's not the first time I've died in Coventry."

Astroboffins discover Sun is surfing on 9,000-light-year gas wave that acts as Milky Way's stellar nursery

Alan J. Wylie

> In 1798, the Earth was properly "weighed". See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavendish_experiment

The Schiehallion experiment took place 74 years earlier, with an less than than 20%.

Alan J. Wylie

surfing on 9,000-light-year gas wave

And now I have the Universe Song going round and round in my head.

Under construction: CAT lobs bargain-basement rugged mobile that will take a kicking and keep on clicking

Alan J. Wylie


Lets hope that CAT do better than Blackview (as mentioned in the article) at keeping the software up-to-date and patched. My BV9600Pro hasn't had a firmware update since I bought it, the image is labelled 20190430.

UK's Virgin Media celebrates the end of 2019 with a good, old fashioned TITSUP*

Alan J. Wylie

Reggie Perrin's excuses for the 21st century

defective junction box, New Malden

Leeds IT bloke pleads guilty to hacking Jet2 CEO's email account

Alan J. Wylie

though statistically speaking, he is unlikely to end up behind bars

Sentenced: ten months in prison


Register Lecture: Can portable atomic clocks end UK dependence on GNSS?

Alan J. Wylie

Imperial time? Metric time? Whitworth time?

British Association, of course!

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

Alan J. Wylie

No plus-plus? That's just plain disrespectful.

More than that, its doubleplusungood.

US Air Force inks deal with Raytheon on Windows 10 (and other) support for ARSE

Alan J. Wylie

Putting the ARSE in arsenal.

Are you coming to the party dressed as an IMP? ARPANET @ 50

Alan J. Wylie

Re: History is written by the winners

When I was in Cambridge in the early 80's, everyone was talking about the Cambridge Ring

Alan J. Wylie

ICANN blog post by Dr. Leonard Kleinrock

Dr. Kleinrock was mentioned in the article, ICANN has just posted a blog written by him: The First Message Transmission

Alan J. Wylie

Hobbes' Internet Timeline

Another source of links to historic reading material: Hobbes' Internet Timeline

BOFH: Judge us not by the size of our database, but the size of our augmented reality

Alan J. Wylie

https://www.coles-law.co.uk/ is a firm of solicitors in North Yorkshire

Everything must go as school IT supplier Gaia Technologies' £5.7m debt burden revealed

Alan J. Wylie

Parys Mountain Mines?

One of the minor creditors is Parys Mountain Mines Ltd., owned by Anglesey Mining plc, a company with an "interesting" history.

What made the name stand out for me, as a caver with an interest in mines, was the fact that the deep shaft they have was mentioned in connection with storing power by raising and lowering a large weight, a method being developed by Gravitricity.

Don't look too closely at what is seeping out of the big Dutch pipe

Alan J. Wylie

Previously, my comment on a very similar situation

Staff sacked after security sees 'suspect surfer' script of shame

First Python feature release under new governance model is here, complete with walrus operator (:=)

Alan J. Wylie

if ... then ... else

bash $ true && echo yes || echo no


bash $ false && echo yes || echo no



$ perl -e '1 == 1 and print "yes" or print "no";'


$ perl -e '1 == 2 and print "yes" or print "no";'



result = a > b ? x : y;

Alan J. Wylie


Oooh. Just like Algol 60's assignment operator.

Stalker attacks Japanese pop singer – after tracking her down using reflection in her eyes

Alan J. Wylie

Echelon gets the upper hand: Scores final nod for 100MW bit barn campus in Arklow, Ireland

Alan J. Wylie

"Echelon"? Who comes up with these names? The first thing I think of is a secret global surveillance network

50 years ago today Apollo 11 slipped the surly bonds of Earth to put peeps on the Moon

Alan J. Wylie

Follow the mission here: Apollo 11 in real time

The Pi who loved me: Licensed to SSL

Alan J. Wylie

Back in the early 90's, I used to work in CNC machine tools for a James Bond. In the 50's or early 60's, the name didn't have the same connotations that it does now. I've also worked for an Elizabeth Taylor (her married name, don't blame her parents) and knew an elderly Steve Martin.

Google open sources standardized code in bid to become Mr Robots.txt

Alan J. Wylie

Re: That's your problem right there

learn how to spell 'disallow'

In the same way as RFC 1945's spelling of "referer"?

And always remember Postel's Law

The in and outs of Microsoft's new Windows Terminal

Alan J. Wylie

VT (Video Terminal) escape sequences, based on an ancient system for formatting text by including codes prefixed with the Esc character

Is there anyone here who remembers the VT52 or VT100? Or the horrors of /etc/termcap

23. 712. 3. 608. 45. 89. 11. 332. 841. 255. You want more? Cloudflare and pals are streaming 'em live from new RNG API

Alan J. Wylie

Searching for Skylab: Even the most casual astro-nerd will revel in this respectful elegy to unsung space history

Alan J. Wylie

Obligatory Tom Lehrer / Von Braun "things coming down" reference


Techie in need of a doorstop picks up 'chunk of metal' – only to find out it's rather pricey

Alan J. Wylie

Re: Watch out for geological samples

coal-burning power stations

Otto Frisch: founder of the first company I worked for and one of the fathers of the atomic bomb, who also spent time at Los Alamos and worked alongside Feynman, wrote this satirical article: On the Feasibility of Coal-Driven Power Stations

Alan J. Wylie

Re: Watch out for geological samples

consignment of luminous watches

Trimphone dials in the version I heard.

There was definitely an prosecution resulting from their disposal at Aldermaston.

Alan J. Wylie

Ours was an Onyx Reality Engine. The size of a *very* big fridge, Purple, IIRC.

It was for the SRMH (Single Role Mine Hunter) sonar simulation trainer.

There was going to be an OpenGL virtual rendering of the view from a "Yellow Submarine" ROV fitted with a cable cutter and capable of dropping a demolition charge, whilst simultaneously generating a simulated feed into the sonar display. The latter was to be done on a rack of TI TMS 320C40 DSPs.

Ours was definitely powered up and used for development. One memory is of having to optimise the loop unrolling of the C compiler to match the size of cache on a processor.



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