* Posts by Admiral Grace Hopper

952 posts • joined 7 Oct 2008


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.

Admiral Grace Hopper

Printers are the Devil's work

This time the Devil laid down his fiddle at BOFH's feet for he knew that he was beat.

When management went nuclear on an innocent software engineer

Admiral Grace Hopper

When I was a child and wheedled my Dad into driving me up to Dounreay for a visit we were taken for a walk around the whole facility, including a stroll over the top of the reactor. Even if it were still open I doubt that we would be given such access today.

Microsoft veteran on how he forged a badge to sneak into a Ballmer presentation

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: IBM Catering

Proving once more that it is possible to construct a perfectly logical path to somewhere very silly indeed.

Beware the fury of a database developer torn from tables and SQL

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Literal translations

Tangential, but it reminds me of something my uncle who served in Coastal Command in WWII used to say.

"When we flew over, the Germans ducked. When the Germans flew over, we ducked. When the Yanks flew over, everybody ducked".

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Know your audience.

I once had the pleasure of attending a marriage ceremony conducted in Klingon. Given the audience here, I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

Logitech Pop: Stylish, portable, but far from the best typing experience

Admiral Grace Hopper


I learned to type on a mechanical and then an electric typewriter, each was in its own way an example of the word "recalcitrant". A good mechanical computer keyboard is a thing of joy, but I would no more return to a typewriter keyboard than I would C18th dentistry.

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Yeah, not quite a work keyboard, or even a non-work keyboard

+1 for the K8. It's the best keyboard I've used since the ICL DRS20 terminals were all consigned to the skip (and TNMoC).

BOFH: Something's consuming 40% of UPS capacity – and it's coming from the beancounters' office

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: You'd have thought that pros would do it better...

I read that as "the Country & Western team", in which case they may have been too busy having a hoe down to get round to alerting anyone.

Study: How Amazon uses Echo smart speaker conversations to target ads

Admiral Grace Hopper

Bears in a forest

They leave quite a mess, I'm told.

ZX Spectrum, the 8-bit home computer that turned Europe onto PCs, is 40

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Where it all began...for some

My Dad did the numbers and bought me a Dragon 32 too. I loved it and it made the woman I am today. For games, however, there was much more available for other platforms and it was the Spectrum and the BBC Model B that had the best. Manic Miner is still the game I've played most down the years.

Not to dis your diskette, but there are some unexpected sector holes

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Love "Duh!" moments! It's the techie life that chose me!

You need a cardboard colleague. Often the simple act of calling a colleague over explaining the problem to them provides sufficient space and time to reorganise your thinking enough to see what you need to do to fix it. You could just as usefully used a cardboard cutout rather than an actual colleague. One benefit of a human colleague over the cardboard one is that you can then suggest going for a coffee to celebrate your progress.

Netflix to crack down on account sharing, offer ad-laden cheaper options

Admiral Grace Hopper


The last price rise prompted a recalculation of the Cost/Benefit and that, plus the cancellation of the live action Cowboy Bebop which annoyed me because I really enjoyed it in its own right, prompted to me to plan on cancelling as soon as Better Call Saul has finished.

Why the Linux desktop is the best desktop

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: One reason to stay with Windows - Outlook

For me it was Lightroom (the installed app, not the subscription cloudy thing). I bought a Mac and binned the Windows machine (because Vista).

My Linux machines still provide a playground for more work related things. One day there may be one desktop to rule them all, but I doubt it. There will always be a choice to be made of the best tool for the job.

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Linux "Desktop"

straight-forward as AD

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

I never seen a forest as cursed as the AD Frankensteined together from bloody chunks of ADs cobbled together by psychotic and sociopathic admins who never even listen to themselves, let alone others or indeed reason itself, as it was at my previous employer.

Hell is AD.

If you fire someone, don't let them hang around a month to finish code

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Long - but a good read

After three bad examples in a row, I had a policy in place through the 80s and 90s of never working for a man called Derek with facial hair.

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Comments?

If it isn't the same product, I certainly worked on one that followed the same path. When I was handed the task, it struck me that by learning SFL to support it I might be making a serious percentage increase in the number of active (or indeed breathing) practitioners of the art.

Help, my IT team has no admin access to their own systems

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: snips, we don't need no snips

ATS is still in the codebase (as I suspect you know).

I had the joy of experiencing ICL from both sides of the customer - supplier relationship. Both generated cynicism of different aspects.

Admiral Grace Hopper

There is long established precedent in the industry for this. I was convinced that the two-day very expensive performance uplift to ICL 2900 series mainframes was 1 3/4 days of the white-coated technician eating his sarnies, half an hour taking the side panel off, 10 seconds with the tin snips to cut the wire to the performance-slugging circuit, 10 minutes to put the panel back on and half an hour to do the paperwork.

The IBM System/360 Model 40 told you to WHAT now?

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Password generator turns sweary

I do a very pleasant run out on my motorbike through Penistone that heads North, then East, then South through the Forest of Bowland down to Clitheroe. It has a pleasing symmetry.

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Password generator turns sweary

Never assume, always check.

I once had the job of compiling a file of all the swear words I could find in English, Welsh and Scottish Gaelic for use as a prohibited words list for a password generator in a government system. Pre WWW this was a fun exercise.

Admiral Grace Hopper

Ah, they'll never see this error message

9 or 10 IFs down the error trap I thought the code had reached the point where the only thing that could cause it would be a bad hard disk and that something or someone else would have picked that up before my code did.

"If you ever see this message, RUN TO THE HILLS! The only thing that cause this is Hell boiling over, the sky falling on out heads or those idiots finally pressing the button. Don't stop to kiss your arse goodbye, just run!".

Ten years later a former colleague rocks up my desk with a hand full of music-ruled fanfold which by now was a long since forgotten thing. "Did you write this?". Turned out that a bad sector on the disc would knock out the database but not the whole ICL EDS drive.

An open-source COBOL contender emerges

Admiral Grace Hopper

* hangs head in shame *

Prototype app outperforms and outlasts outsourced production version

Admiral Grace Hopper

Stop Gap

In 1992 we wrote a quick stop-gap to cover the 9 months before the delivery of the final all-singing all-dancing product to be delivered by a third-party supplier. In retrospect it was some of the best code I ever wrote - compact, efficient, did what it needed to do with no frippery and did it reliably. The third-party was still delivering progress updates but no product when I moved on. I assume that they never actually delivered as I know that our stop-gap was still running in Production in 2015 by which time the building in which it was written had been demolished.

We have redundancy, we have batteries, what could possibly go wrong?

Admiral Grace Hopper

In my head there's a banjo playing. For the UK readers I live not far from Royston Vasey.

Admiral Grace Hopper

Rural folk don't steal from their neighbours, after all we're all in the same boat, but council gear was paid for us all via the rates* so it's fair game.

* or poll tax or council tax, depending on how far back we're going.

Admiral Grace Hopper


Even the best-considered systems can fail due to the improper use (or absence of use) of the the simplest piece of equipment.

Saving a loved one from a document disaster

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: The joy...

I've been in IT long enough that there's very little that I can't turn off and on again.

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: The joy...

"Ah! The very woman/man/person!" (delete as appropriate). Usually followed by me turning on my heels and making a run for it.

Europe's largest nuclear plant on fire after Russian attack

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: "Surely their artillery commanders have maps? Can't they read them?"

My grandfather used to say, "When the Germans flew over we ducked. When the RAF flew over, the Germans ducked. When the Americans flew over, everybody ducked".

Apple seeks patent for 'innovation' resembling the ZX Spectrum, C64 and rPi 400

Admiral Grace Hopper

Philips Maestro

The Philips Maestro had a lot of functionality built into the keyboard unit, to the point that it cause all manner of grief when your colleague dumped a litre of orange juice into theirs.

The last time I saw one it was stuck to the wall of the cabin of Starbug in Red Dwarf.

Fujitsu confirms end date for mainframe and Unix systems

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Support for five more years ?

If Fujitsu thinks that it's going to migrate its clients to their private cloud

Fujitsu’s private cloud - K5 - died on its arse years ago. Their cloud solution is reselling Azure.

Admiral Grace Hopper

That’s precisely what happened with ICL’s VME mainframe OS which runs under RHEL. VME is owned by Fujitsu as well.

Escape from The National Museum of Computing

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: BBC micro

6502 Assembly was always available on a BBC if you wanted to use it. It was a good introduction to low level coding (although I'd tried my hand at Z80 Assembly before I was let loose on the University BBC machines).

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

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Lots of files with the same name

Or indeed rolling your own icons and using those instead.

UK's National Savings & Investments bank looks for new IT partner in £172m deal

Admiral Grace Hopper


What could possibly go wrong?

Real-time software? How about real-time patching?

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Site Acceptance Test

Belfast is a grand place to be, although there are some parts I might give a swerve, the same as in any city. You’re right about the surrounding country, it’s full of utterly wonderful places to be, plus the motorcycle road racing is stunning.

BOFH: The Geek's Countergambit – outwitted at an electronics store

Admiral Grace Hopper

Re: Awesome staff

When you see skills like these you try to get them working in your favour.

NASA's InSight probe emerges from Mars dust storm

Admiral Grace Hopper


Seeing that TLA made me flashback to an employer from a long time ago. Rather than "Electrodynamic Dust Shield", we unpacked it as, "Every Day Sucks", "Enthusiasm Deficiency Syndrome", "Eventually Does Something" amongst many others.

When forgetting to set a password for root is the least of your woes

Admiral Grace Hopper

We would type a resignation email and leave it unsent as a warning of why you locked your machine.

Admiral Grace Hopper

Nobody told me I wasn't allowed to do it.

While not a defence in law, this is precisely the approach that is often needed in IT.

The best tester I ever worked would come up to us and say, "When I do [THIS], then [THIS], then [THIS], it goes kaboom". We would ask, "Why would you even try to do that combination", to which he would reasonably answer, "Because it allowed me to". We would then either make it impossible to so do, unless it was a safe combination and should have worked in which case we would fix it.

Thank you Gordon, you truly were Entropy's Little Buddy.

An unguarded prompt is the same opportunity (or temptation). What can I do with this? What could possibly go wrong?



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