* Posts by Admiral Grace Hopper

984 publicly visible posts • joined 7 Oct 2008


Lightning struck: Apple switches to USB-C for iPhone 15 lineup

Admiral Grace Hopper

Mama needs a new phone

I upgraded to a 13 two years ago so that I could pass the XR to my Mum so that she could stop using the 6 that I gave her before that.

Scientists trace tiny moonquakes to Apollo 17 lander – left over from 1972

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: "craters at the Moon's south pole"

I'm also keen to see the design for the flying apparatus for carrying the ground penetrating radar to multiple sites. The solar-powered solutions rely on an atmosphere in which to fly and a rocket powered one is intrinsically disposable.

PEBCAK problem transformed young techie into grizzled cynical sysadmin

Admiral Grace Hopper


Never assume anything, not even that you and your interlocutor are talking about the same app.

Obligatory XKCD

NASA still serious about astronauts living it up on Moon space station in 2028

Admiral Grace Hopper

Design Matters

I hope that the accommodation resembles the Hilton Hotel on Space Station Five

Aspiration to deploy new UK nuclear reactor every year a 'wish', not a plan

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: John Bull presents Little Englander Nuclear

I'm sure there must be a John Bull printing set lying around somewhere we can use to knock up the PR materials.

Nobody would ever work on the live server, right? Not intentionally, anyway

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Don't let that guy work without supervision

Someone has to save our skins. Into the garbage chute, fly boy.

Bizarre backup taught techie to dumb things down for the boss

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Training?

Even proper training is sometimes not enough. Let us rewind to the 1980s ....

A mainframe system had been developed which replaced a hitherto manual writing and stored-paper based workflow. This was a major culture change for a workforce that has Always Done Things This Way so off site training was arranged to introduce all the staff to the new way of working. Hotels and booze were always a good way to inculcate a positive feeling about the new terminals and the death of pen on paper

All went well and the workforce whizzed through work like a hot knife through butter. We were delighted that the system performed well against all metrics, including a sub-second response time which was a metric that was always smashed, except in one office, where the response times were truly dismal.

This office sat at the end of a CO3 line which should have been more than adequate. Stats were gathered, traces were put in place. All the underlying figures looked good but the traffic was unexpectedly spiky. A visit was planned to the office to check out the local installation of the comms kit. Back came our comms guy with a huge smile on his face.

All the staff had been on the same training course. As they sat in the class room they would fill in the TP screen with data, then, on the instruction of the trainer, hit the "Enter" button at the same time. This was what they trained to do and this is what they took back to the office with them. As the worked they would fill their screen then check with all their colleagues to see if they has a screen-full too - "Are you ready Carol? Brian? Kate? Colin?" - and when they all had a screen full, and only then, they all hit "Enter" at the same time.

The CO3 line which had been polling with no return for several minutes was now flooded with data and did what it could but didn't do it very quickly.

"But it's how we did it in training ...".

Response times soon normalised and an anecdote was born.

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Recycle Bin is not permanent storage

Calling it a recycle bin is just Microsoft stupidity.

Or just the best they could come up that wasn't "Trash", "Bin", or anything else used by OSes that got there first. I agree that is an open door to Mr. and Mrs. Cockup and all of their children.

Quirky QWERTY killed a password in Paris

Admiral Grace Hopper

Different keystrokes for different folks

I found a Turkish keyboard easier to use than an AZERTY one.

'Joan Is Awful' Black Mirror episode rebounds on Netflix

Admiral Grace Hopper

"Alexa ..."

"Tell me the clauses in the contract about invasion of privacy".

False negative stretched routine software installation into four days of frustration

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Marital Status: British

It wasn't you was it? SQL Server 6, VB front end, 6 month contract, mid-90s? The guy we did hire was amusing to watch but became the first person I ever had to fire. Fun times!

Admiral Grace Hopper

Attention to detail

It matters. If you can't get the simple stuff right then I won't assume that you can do the difficult things.

I once rejected a CV with the entry:

Marital Status: British

While that might have been exactly what they meant to write, it made me wonder what their SQL would look like but unwilling to find out in our own codebase.

That old box of tech junk you should probably throw out saves a warehouse

Admiral Grace Hopper

Clothing corallary

If you ever buy a shirt/t-shirt/pair of trousers/pair of jeans/jacket that fits perfectly and feels great, go back and buy another one or two of them. By the time the original is worn out you won't be able to find them again.

Twitter Spaces groans under weight of Ron DeSantis and Elon Musk's egos

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: What amazing technology

Saturday is the only day of the week on which The Archers is not broadcast (12 minute episode at 19:03 Sunday - Friday, omnibus repeat 10:00 Sunday morning).

Cheapest, oldest, slowest part fixed very modern Mac

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Bridge technologies

A part of my brain that hasn't been disturbed for a quarter of a century just said, "People Can't Memorise Computer Industry Acronyms", to my subconscious. I doubt that this will ever happen again.

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Regomiser needs help this week

He deserves the full privileges of Ring 0.

Is there anything tape can’t fix? This techie used it to defeat the Sun

Admiral Grace Hopper

Ah, architects

We were due to be moved to a new, purpose-built office, designed for the modern Data Processing* development practices of the early 1990s. Rather than a regular office full of desks with terminals and PCs on, this was to be a development space. There was a presentation in which we were introduced to the ideas that drove the design - flow! flexible partitioning with Nightingale boards! communal spaces! break-out rooms! configurable powerpoints and networking! smoking rooms! (it was the 90s). Much was made of the lighting. There were no ceiling lights, rather, "the use of a coffered ceiling and uplighters releases us from the fenestrated perimeter and allows flexible provision of general and task lighting". What this meant was that outside of the lit corridors everyone wandered around in semi-gloom like confused mole rats.

* IT hadn't fully become IT yet, it was still DP, but not for long

Owner of 'magic spreadsheet' tried to stay in the Lotus position until forced to Excel

Admiral Grace Hopper

Some times there's a reason

While scouring the data centre for kit that could be taken off charge I came across a machine, still powered up, of great antiquity with dust on its keyboard. It turned out that it held data for a now-obsolete system that needed to be retained for 12 years for legal reasons. The software which used the data was so tightly bound to the NT4 OS it was still running that it hadn't been possible to dump it onto a VM so here it was, spinning away in case the machine didn't reboot if it was restarted. It wasn't on any network (not even a network card) and there was another 4 years to go until it could be wiped with no legal blowback. I found a couple of hard drives that matched the ones in that box, cloned the machine onto them and stacked them next to the holy relic and left it to live out the rest of its life in peace.

BOFH takes a visit to retro computing land

Admiral Grace Hopper


Ahem. Both of them are South of my current location. (Both of them are well worth a visit).

Chinese company claims it's built batteries so dense they can power electric airplanes

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Those are rookie numbers

And if you get it wrong, more quickly than you might find comfortable.

Wrong time to weaken encryption, UK IT chartered institute tells government

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: The 5th of November

We know it's inflatable because it's always let down by the pricks in it.

User was told three times 'Do Not Reboot This PC' – then unplugged it anyway

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: No surprise here

I've seen a Centronics printer cable plugged in upside down, which is no mean feat. Didn't work, obviously.

Time to study the classics: Vintage tech is the future of enterprise IT

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Some things just never went away.

The last cadre of ApplicationMaster programmers is in India, still coding away like it's 1987. The system is still doing the job it was built for and would involve a lot of money and hassle to replace.

Admiral Grace Hopper

Some things just never went away.

If you spent £$ Several Million developing a system back in the 80s that still does the job then it can be an entirely sensible thing to keep that running, albeit on an emulated version of the original OS because the original machines have long since been rendered down for their gold and tin. It's sobering to see systems you worked on that used to occupy a room full of mainframe nodes and storage drives running in a small corner of a modern linux box.

This can’t be a real bomb threat: You've called a modem, not a phone

Admiral Grace Hopper

You can't be to careful

Back in the 80s while working for a Large Government Department, bomb threats were taken very seriously as the IRA had demonstrated motivation and effectiveness on several occasions. One afternoon a large parcel arrived addressed to the director of data processing (as they were known in the way-back-when). It was a heavy parcel, there was no return address, no indication of the sender and it wasn't an expected delivery. The post room followed procedure and called it in. The office was evacuated and the bomb disposal squad were round in a flash - they were based a couple of miles down the road. After assorted jiggery-pokery the package was declared safe and opened. It contained a consignment of leaflets describing the current procedure for handling suspicious parcels.

Lawyer mom barred from Rockettes show by facial recognition tech

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: MSG Restaurant

Same here, But I Want More.


Corporate execs: Get back, get back, to the office where you once belonged

Admiral Grace Hopper

Let's go over the bonus situation.

In my team there has been widespread acceptance that one day a week in the office has been of benefit for team relations, but when management try to push this up to more days in the office the whole team turns into Brett and Parker from the USCSS Nostromo.

I personally can live with a 90 mile round trip once a week, while my colleagues on the South Coast and in Chennai are unlikely to put in an appearance any time soon.

Server broke because it was invisibly designed to break

Admiral Grace Hopper

It is a fine idea

Having walked in on someone doing the 50 Hz boogie, fortunately with no long term impact on the 220 V AC disco dancer, it's not a fun experience for anyone involved.

He (and I) were fortunate that there was a wooden-handled broom near to hand to allow me to nudge him free.

How not to test a new system: push a button and wait to see what happens

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Alternative Lesson: "Never turn anything off if..."

Time taken for a senior manager to formulate and execute plan for an impromptu DC failover using the Big Red Button? Microseconds.

Time taken to get everything back up and working, failed boards replaced, systems restarted, rogue LAN cables replaced, comms balanced? 39 hours.

Size of boot applied to arse of senior manager by Very Senior Manager? <-------------------- This Big -------------------->

Twitter engineer calls out Elon Musk for technical BS in unusual career move

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Made up Words

"ellimidical paralipse" is a perfectly cromulent phrase.

Just follow the instructions … no wait, not that instruction to lock everyone out of everything

Admiral Grace Hopper

Likewise. I have started to link to the last time I commented on a similar story rather than typing it out again. Just as there are seven basic plots, there are a limited number of ways in which we can press a button, lose a backup or insert a thing the wrong way up. Or maybe I'm just too old and have seen too many things.

Go ahead, be rude. You don't know it now, but it will cost you $350,000

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: reputation?

I had a Vauxhall. Dealer serviced throughout. Two months after the 50000 service the cam belt snapped and I discovered that it had an interference engine. Since the last service Vauxhall had dropped the replacement mileage for the cam belt from 70000 miles to 40000 miles. The dealer chased this up with the manufacturer and they stumped up for the entire top-end rebuild. I too praised their customer service for a long time afterwards (if not their reliability engineering).

Run a demo on live data? Sure! What could possibly go wrong? Hang on. Are you sure that's not working?

Admiral Grace Hopper

Father Dougal

Accidents are one thing, but there are some people who do this sort of thing deliberately, as told in this tale of our own Father Dougal

No, I will not pay the bill. Why? Because we pay you to fix things, not break them

Admiral Grace Hopper

When I was young I was taught the art of spanner wielding by a kindly neighbour who had picked up his mechanic skills working on aircraft for the RAF during his National Service. Two of them were assigned the task of performing routine maintenance on a huge pile of transfer boxes (for what I do not know). This involved replacing worn washers, bearings and so forth, checking tolerances, lubricating and moving to the Done pile.

At the end of the day, my man cleaned his work station (he was meticulous in these matters) and looked over to his workmate. He had a pile of washers, springs and other bits and bobs, both new and used on his bench. He cried, "Spares!', then picked them up and threw into the bins of new parts.

My neighbour learned a lot about how far to trust the workmanship of others from that and was keen that I learned from his experience.

Admiral Grace Hopper

We wish you a Sperry Christmas and a Burroughs New Year.

Senior engineer reported to management for failing to fix a stapler

Admiral Grace Hopper

"But it's IT equipment"

Just because it has a plug on it doesn't mean that it's in our remit.

This became increasingly irritating as more devices gained USB (or similar) ports. We do not support iPods ...

No, working in IT does not mean you can fix anything with a soldering iron

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: family support

I did similar for many of my supported community. Cinnamon Mint has been a great friend to me.

For Ma I migrated her to a Mac. From 2 hours/visit of support I'm down to > 2 hours/year.

Admiral Grace Hopper

Customer pushback

Commercial customers get it immediately, it's only the "non-commercial customers" (my Mum, my brother, the guy next door) who don't get it when you say, "It's cheaper and easier to buy a new one".

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs memorialized with online archive of emails, guff

Admiral Grace Hopper

Light and shade

I'm glad that he did the good things that he did for the industry. He shook it up and changed its direction for the better more than once. I'm even more glad that I never worked with or for him. It must have been like living on the slopes of a volcano.

Dell and Ubuntu certify latest model of XPS 13 ultrabook

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: "When you hold down the Fn key..."

The built-in keyboard is for travelling. When you're travelling you use your Travel Scrabble set, when you're in a more stable environment you use the full-size, "proper", Scrabble set. I use the same principle with keyboards (Keychron K8, Gateron Brown switches).

Dev's code manages to topple Microsoft's mighty SharePoint

Admiral Grace Hopper
Admiral Grace Hopper

MS genius

In the early days of SQL Server 6 (when it was much the same as Sybase 4.2) we sent in a question to MS that must have been better than we suspected as within two days we had a stinking god of programming sent over from Seattle to see what we were doing. I pity his neighbours on the aeroplane, his physical hygiene really was deficient.

I was surprised at the difficulty of the problem as we weren't trying to do anything complicated - we couldn't, it was our first time playing with relational databases and we were still bashing the rocks together.

After three days staring at the screen, grunting occasionally and honking out the office, there was a particularly loud grunt, a flurry of typing and he said, "Got it. I'm going back".

Three days later we had a patch and all was well with our database.

This is the military – you can't just delete your history like you're 15

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Nasty goings on

Rule 34.

A management type had a rude introduction to his when he was a trying to find a pony club where his daughter could learn to ride a pony. He immediately called to explain what he'd clicked on, why he'd clicked on the link and why this was definitely not what he was looking for in his lunch hour on a work machine.

Admiral Grace Hopper

Let me ask the board

If you're really lucky, there's a member of the board handy when you find something interesting.

I always enjoyed explaining access and audit logs to people hitherto unaware of their role or indeed their existence.

Boris Johnson set to step down with tech legacy in tatters

Admiral Grace Hopper

Sub-sea nukes

Rolls Royce do indeed make jet engines (and more profitably monitor, manage and maintain them) but more pertinently to the point made in the story they also make the nuclear power plants for the Royal Navy's fleet of nuclear powered submarines.

NOBODY PRINT! Selfless hero saves typing pool from carbon catastrophe

Admiral Grace Hopper

It is always a good idea to talk to the end users

I once had a very effective visit to the end users as we diagnosed a problem that was only manifesting itself in the wild (described here). We did good work and made many friends, only to see it all undone by a field tech two days later. I've seen things you people would find all too easy to believe.

The PainStation runs Windows XP because of course it does

Admiral Grace Hopper


Win XP was indeed painful, but Vista was pure evil.

Keeping your head as an entire database goes pear-shaped

Admiral Grace Hopper


Which was the script that turned the dashboard to All Green when management were on the floor. Reality was restored as soon as they left.

BOFH: Where do you think you are going with that toner cartridge?

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: HP Laserjet 5

I can hear the sadness in your voice as you say, "The OLD HP". I hear it a lot and have said it myself with the same tone.