* Posts by Paul Renault

158 publicly visible posts • joined 30 Jul 2009


Fighter pilot shot down laptops with a flick of his copper-plated wrist

Paul Renault

I asked my current boss about the company policy on this very type of customer support call recently - where you fixed the problem without replacing parts.

I pointed out that one of the metrics that my employer tracks is the 'utilization rate' - the proportion of the salaried time that is accounted for by on-site service, travel time, and phone support.

So I asked.."If I manage to solve the customer's problem over the phone in half an hour, it makes my utilization rate go down, which shows poorly on my performance stats. If I drive a few hours, perform some on-site service, and drive back, using up my whole day for the exact same issue, then it's great for my utilization rate, but it costs the company money, the customer is down for an extra day - but look at that utilization rate! So, what's the official policy, what do they prefer me to do? - As long as the customer's happy, we're happy," came the enlightened reply.

Ask your boss the same question.

Also, a big two thumbs up to all the people who emphasize "Listen to the user!", which often includes "observe the user", and "try to understand the user's thinking".

Bonus: one of my favourite sentences to pop out of the user is "See, I did it just like it says in the manual, and it doesn't work!". That's a trigger phrase for me, which causes me to reach for the manual, just so I can say: "Well, in the manual it says..."

Often, it's not really their fault, they're not used to reading technical docs.

And lastly: while I was on-site for another issue, the kindly older lady operator asked me, as she had heard that magnets could be bad for electronics, asked me whether the copper-magnetic bracelet she wore was safe to wear while operating the equipment.

I brought the bracelet near the CRT - you could just barely make out a ripple on the display. "Wow!," I ejaculated, "you'd think that at the price they sell these things, the magnets would be stronger."

I then took out my magnetized screwdriver and brought it to the same position on the CRT, showing her just how much it was affecting the display. I told her not to worry, it was safe to wear that bracelet, as her hands wouldn't be near the CRT anyway.

A month or two later, I was back on-site. I noticed she wasn't wearing the bracelet.

Pop-up Android adware uses social engineering to resist deletion

Paul Renault

Re: No other options but to press "OK"

Perhaps the task switching button, then swipe the task left or right to kill it?

Ex-MI5 boss: People ask, why didn't you follow all these people ... on your radar?

Paul Renault

"Where might these trees be?"

They're palm trees in the shape of the letter 'T' - Molloy

IBM: ALL travel must be approved now, and shut up about the copter

Paul Renault

Re: Just like old times.

The Pheonix Pay System is an IBM product no? I can imagine just how useless their customer support and preparation was for their implementation of the Canadian Government's disastrous rollout of the that pay system.

TRUMP SCANDAL! No, not that one. Or that one. Or that one. Or that one.

Paul Renault

ATTN, the The Register's Style Director..

That subhead should have read:

The Hackers target The Donald's businesses

Walkers' Crisps pulls backfiring Tweet campaign that paired Gary Lineker and a bunch of nasties

Paul Renault

Came here looking for one with "Walken, Chris"...

...leaving disappointed.

Giant spawn hammer on Antarctica map. Thanks, Google Waze

Paul Renault

Truly someone who believes the adage

Long and thin is in, but short and thick does the trick.

Irish Stripe techie denied entry to US – for having wrong stamp in passport

Paul Renault

Re: serves him right

Of course, all those self-reported surveys about helping an old person cross the street, of volunteering at the local Military Veterans Hospital, or helping make Bill Gates pay for someone's medical bills are forgotten by the rest of the world, each and every time we come across a story like this one:

Indiana teacher fired before undergoing brain surgery


Yahoo!'s Marissa! will! eject! with! $186m!.. $185m!.. $184m!..

Paul Renault

More money for CEOs guarantees poorer performance.

I keep this graph handy on page 23 of the linked-to PDF, for when some idiot tries to explain why CEOs deserve all the money they're paid:

https://www.msci.com/documents/10199/91a7f92b-d4ba-4d29-ae5f-8022f9bb944d <--PDF

"Similarly to the previous tests, companies with CEOs who were paid above the median over the 10-year period significantly underperformed those companies where cumulative CEO summary pay was below their peer group median"

A very Canadian approach: How net neutrality rules reflect a country's true nature

Paul Renault

Re: there aren't any derogatory terms used by Canadians...

Yes, there is one: it's: "Americans".

/It's just like the derogatory term the Scots have for the English...

Security slip-ups in 1Password and other password managers 'extremely worrying'

Paul Renault

Re: Little blue book

What if your webcam is protected with a high-entropy password?

Do you look up its hard-coded SSH password/port on Shodan?

Privacy watchdog to probe Oz gov's right to release personal info 'to correct the record'

Paul Renault

Re: Twitter yee not

"If you make a public complaint and issue inaccurate statements, the government has every right to respond with the correct data."

Have you never. in your entire life, ever made a mistake, or have undergone a mental crisis? Or lived with people who would have beaten/disowned/whatever you, if the truth had come out?

'I'm innocent!' says IT contractor on trial after Office 365 bill row spiraled out of control

Paul Renault

Re: Based on assumptions...

Hear, hear!

I'm aware of a few contracts that were negotiated on the basis of a volume of work or a length of contract, where the contractor assumes most of the costs at the start, and where the contractor finally makes a decent profit at the end.

Often, the client cancels that contract, right at the point where the contractor has just barely recovered his/her costs, but before they manage to make any of the negotiated profits.

Bruce Schneier: The US government is coming for YOUR code, techies

Paul Renault

Re: Well, maybe we should not put software in everything

But, if the software put into a flower pot was for a SDR, then maybe we could confirm what was meant by "Oh no, not again".

Unlucky WD Ultrastar drives are knackered, need replacing ASAP

Paul Renault


Do they suffer from stuckism?

/ Yes, obscure.

Boffins link ALIEN STRUCTURE ON VENUS to Solar System's biggest ever grav wave

Paul Renault

Re: Click baity headline is click bait

I suppose 'Boffins find Huge Hidden Structure of Extraterrestrial Origin on Venus' would have been even clickier.


Paul Renault

Re: Click baity headline is click bait

I actually came here to reprise a question I asked months ago:

Aren't ALL structures on Venus 'alien' structures?

Laser beam sky mirage cannon can spy on enemies and generate Star Trek-style shields

Paul Renault

"Star Trek-style shields"

Do you mean "fake"? Created with matting? CGI-generated? Green-screened?

Canada fines Amazon seven hours of profit for false advertising

Paul Renault

Re: Next, they could tackle the definition of "Two-Day"

Me, I (almost) always opt for the 'Free Shipping' (not Prime) if it's available. It's surprising the number of times I've had it delivered in less than four days - small town in the Maritimes.

If it's something I need really fast, I drive the 2kms to the local stores.

Train your self-driving car AI in Grand Theft Auto V – what could possibly go wrong?

Paul Renault

Near the end, at the red Stop Light..

The AI pulled the car too close to the car ahead. If that car broke down for any reason, the AI would have a hard time getting around the car ahead, especially if the car behind also pulled up close.

My driving instructor would be tsk-tsk-ing.

Did EU ruling invalidate the UK's bonkers Snoopers' Charter?

Paul Renault

Shale Gas worse likely worse than coal.

Minkia! I tried to read that ruling...gave up.

Why does Skype only show me from the chin down?

Paul Renault

Heh, I had that happen to one of my customers. I was called in when the PC would lock up after an hour. After taking the power supply apart, I asked the operator: "Did your machine make a whining noise for weeks and weeks, then stop?" Whereupon she had that 'deer in the headlights' look. I said: "Don't lie to me, I'm holding the evidence in my hands..."

Then I explained that machines aren't like people, when something's wrong, letting them rest over the weekend doesn't make them get better.

Paul Renault

FTA: “You need to defrag the C: drive".

I service kiosks in the field. The software's log file can be so fragmented that the OS can run out of stack spaces while trying to find the end of the file so it can append some information that no one, ever, will read. The kiosk reboots to the POST counting the RAM. I've found a 528 byte (no, not kilobyte) log file reported as fragmented into 1020 pieces! How is that even possible?

I go on-site, defrag the HDD and, like magic, the kiosk works reliably.

Angry user demands three site visits to fix email address typos

Paul Renault

Why didn't the service contract include extra charges for user errors?

With the planet burning up because of all this unneeded carbon loading caused unnecessary, customer-caused four hour trips (my guess, some 50l of gasoline) when caused by users who refuse to understand basic training and simple checking would be stopped by actually charging the customer.

This would shut this BS down quite quickly, no?

Isn't billing the customer extra when an on-site visit is required because of their errors standard practice? It is where I work.

Microsoft reveals career-enhancing .PNG files

Paul Renault

Will Microsoft migrate these to LinkedIn Endorsements and Skills?

I can't wait to proudly show my proficiency in 'Time Travel', 'Eating', and 'Prog Rock', among others.

Forget malware, crooks are cracking ATMs the old-fashioned way – with explosives

Paul Renault

Scanned headline, text, and comments for the phrase..

..'brute force attack'.

Leaving disappointed.

Latest F-35 bang seat* mods will stop them breaking pilots' necks, beams US

Paul Renault

What a petite pilot may look like...


Seagate sued by its own staff for leaking personal info to identity thieves

Paul Renault

Re: Corporate fines == useless

I agree, those who are rewarded with performance/target bonuses are viewed by the company as responsible. But, as much research has shown, that personal fines, much like corporate fines, don't really change behaviour. If you really want to get their attention, you need to put people in jail.

Our pacemakers are totally secure, says short-sold St Jude

Paul Renault

Re: Faraday cage?

I saw that range of 7 feet and through: Whaaa! It should be inches, not feet!

Pizza delivery by drone 'trialled' in New Zealand

Paul Renault


Are reporters paid by the letter nowadays? Was the word 'tested' too short?

New science: Pathetic humans can't bring themselves to fire lovable klutz-bots

Paul Renault

Just remember, they don't have souls...

Here, just hit 'em with this hammer. G'head.

The Soul of Mark III Beast, from The Soul of Anna Klane, a classic. Also reproduced in Dennett & Hofstadter's The Mind's I.


Researchers crack homomorphic encryption

Paul Renault

Interesting: the orginal, now-worthless paper describing the scheme is is paywalled..

..and the paper destroying it is free for the taking.

Oh, irony, they name is Bogos, Gaspoz, and Vaudena.

Canadian govt to cloud providers: Want our business? Stay local, eh

Paul Renault

Re: carry through

Way to thread-jack, eh.

While the 'official' corporate (Fed/Prov) tax rates you mention are, a first glance higher in the USA, first question: Why compare Canadian Fed and Prov. taxes against US State/Local taxes? Are there no federal corporate taxes in the USA?

Secondly: What's critical to consider is THE ACTUAL TAXES PAID by corporations in the USA.

Quoting from "CORPORATE INCOME TAX Effective Tax Rates Can Differ Significantly from the Statutory Rate" by the GAO's report to Congress:

"For tax year 2010, profitable Schedule M-3 filers actually paid U.S. federal income taxes amounting to 12.6 percent of the worldwide income that they reported in their financial statements (for those entities included in their tax returns). This tax rate is slightly lower than the 13.1 percent rate based on the current federal tax expenses that they reported in those financial statements; it is significantly lower than the 21 percent effective rate based on actual taxes and taxable income, which itself is well below the top statutory rate of 35 percent.". [Emphasis mine]


(This report is from 2013, it should still be approximately true.)

In any case, since thread-jacking is a thing: Stop Funding Wars all Over the Planet! You'll same a lot in taxes, FFS.

Returning to the article at hand, however: Privacy laws in Canada are substantially stronger than those in many other countries. There's no frickin' way Canadian Government information should be stored outside of Canada.

Ad blockers responsible for rise in upfront TV ad sales, claims report

Paul Renault

So, it makes sense for Netflix to fund the ad-blocker developers, no?

If the ads are pushed out onto TV land, they'll be even more annoying, causing more people to cut the cable and sign up.

I think we've figured out step 2.

BAM! Astroboffins now have a second way of picking up black holes' collision super kicks

Paul Renault

Would someone who studies boffins...

..be called a boffinboffin?

And if that person just good a very good review/evaluation of their perfomance? A boffoboffinboffin?

..and what if they study puffins, eh?

Pollster who called the EU referendum right: No late Leave swing after all

Paul Renault

Of course, because TNS got it right..

..that ensures that they'll never be quoted in 72-point headlines in any newspaper, nor breathless quoted in any news reports, eh.

You lucky creatures! Mammals only JUUUST survived asteroid that killed dinosaurs

Paul Renault

Yep, there's a huge difference between ''wiped out" and "nearly wiped out".

Yay for us!

Belgian brewery lays 3.2km beer pipeline

Paul Renault

Beer Bridge Burrowed Beneath Bruges!

/ sleeping on the job, eh.

King Tut's iron dagger of extraterrestrial origin

Paul Renault

Re: Isn't, like everything on Earth, including Earth..

You're right... It's my fault: I didn't realize that snark isn't considered an asset at Reg Central... ;-p

/still waiting for that review of post-pub-crawl Kyrgyz chukchuk, eh.

Paul Renault

Isn't, like everything on Earth, including Earth..

..of extraterrestrial origin?

/Just asking.

Thai bloke battles jumbo python in toilet todger thriller

Paul Renault

Re: Is it just me, or...

Thanks. I did not know that!

Paul Renault

Is it just me, or...

...is anyone else trying to figure out the IT angle to this story?

Africa poses for 7,000 snap mosaic

Paul Renault

There's no satellite photo in tonight's forecast...

..somebody moved!

- Hippy Dippy Weather man, AKA George Carlin.

Super-slow RAID rebuilds: Gone in a flash?

Paul Renault

Re: RAID5 no longer has a role with hard drives

Your title was good but you should have expanded that thought: RAID5 rebuild times are way, way, way too long for the large HDDs that are current. I've seen a 2TB RAID5 take 72 hours to rebuild on a fast desktop computer.

I'd go with RAID1+0 - fast throughput, fast rebuild - 'cuz HDDs are relatively cheap. From what I've seen, after the first minutes or so, when it's rebuilding the first few tracks, a RAID10 which is rebuilding is indistinguishable from one that isn't. That short rebuild time reduces the chances that the failure of a second drive (a specific one out the three that are left) will destroy the data.

For NAS applications, HDDs are usually OK, as long as their average throughput is substantially greater than the LAN transfer speeds. SATA HDDs can usually output at least 3GB/sec, three times faster than a 1000BaseT; a striped RAID should double that.

F-35s failed 'scramble test' because of buggy software

Paul Renault

Try turning it off and …

...and leave it off?

Too obvious?

Canny Canadian PM schools snarky hack on quantum computing

Paul Renault

Re: Trudeau is no slouch in the speaking department

Props for correcting the Fla, proto-Canadian by bringing up the Turks & Caicos; though I would have linked to the Wiki page; next year, it'll be 100 years since Robert Borden first proposed it.


Bloaty banking app? There's a good chance it was written in Britain

Paul Renault

....There's a good chance it was written in Britain --- no, no, no...

Bloaty banking app? There's a good chance it was written in BLIGHTY.

Sleeping on the job, eh?

Canadian rotter abducts giant Playmobil fireman

Paul Renault

They deny any involvement with the outrage, but they don't deny stealing it. A-ha!

Diffie, Hellman scoop $1m Turing Award for key work on crypto keys

Paul Renault

It's about freakin' time.

Well deserved! Hear, hear.

Science contest to get girls interested in STEM awards first prize to ... a boy

Paul Renault

Re: To Be Fair

Thanks, I came here to post the same opinion. These were proposals, the contestants didn't have to actually make or even design the product. I case the other commenters don't bother going to the EDF site:

Judges: Two women, one man, and last year's winners - a team of eight girls.

Winner, the boy: A game controller where the triggers creates energy by a wind up mechanism

Runners up, all girls: 1) a smart fridge system that monitors expiry dates, 2) curtains which automatically open when they sense the sunlight (the proposal didn't include 'closing them in the summer', not much of an issue in Scotland, eh), 3) a device which you put near your computer screen, which reminds you/monitors your pre-bedtime routines, 4) a bathtub mat so now you can surf while bathing.