* Posts by JimC

1863 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

Strike days should serve as 'wake-up call' to BT's top brass, says union

JimC

Re: Maths

Especially as its not just 20% more than the real workers this year, its been 20% more than the real workers for the last 20 years...

There is a path to replace TCP in the datacenter

JimC

Multiple stacks

I'm old enough to recall multiple network protocols on PCs and servers. It wasn't that big a deal, and with modern hardware ought to be straightforward enough. Its very easy to believe that there can be a better protocol than TCP for short range high speed networking.

I've been fired, says engineer who claimed Google chatbot was sentient

JimC

Seven basic plots...

If its true, and I suppose if you generalise enough it is, I don't think there's much doubt an AI could generate material. Its an old theme in science fiction too, isn't it, I'm sure I've read stories about robots that learn to write fiction, although I can't name titles. I doubt very much romantic fiction is the only genre where it happens. SF would itself be vulnerable, crime too I reckon.

NASA ignores InSight's battery woes in pursuit of data

JimC

Re: Why not an air compressor & reservoir?

There are rigid weight limits, so they could only be added by taking something else off.

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

JimC

Re: Exchange

With Novell's Windows 2000 against Netware servers it was possible to create paths that were too long for MS Office apps to read. What's more the practical limit wasn't completely consistent. As I recall the documented limit at the time was 216 characters, but various apps would actually read anything up to 230/240 - Excel and Word were different IIRC!

The users seemed to love moving deep directory trees, so it was a surprisingly common problem - sufficiently so that I had to put together a utility than ran a daily report and emailed the recorded file owner to warn them and ask them to do something about it.

Hive to pull the plug on smart home gadgets by 2025

JimC

Re: "funky" mispelled brand name.

Blame internet search: an awful lot of it is the desire for a unique string.

Get over it: Microsoft is a Linux and open source company these days

JimC

Re: There is no 'good', no 'evil'

> For corporations, there is only profit.

Submit the evidence is against you. Plenty of corporations, esp silicon valley startups that appear to have minimal interest in profit.

Executive 'compensation', on the other hand...

Elon Musk considering 'drastic action' as Twitter takeover in 'jeopardy'

JimC

BBC reporting Musk's bid is ended.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-62102821

"The billionaire businessman had asked for evidence to back the company's assertion that spam bot accounts make up less than 5% of its total users."

"In a letter, Mr Musk's lawyer said Twitter had failed or refused to provide this information."

Go get the popcorn. This will enrich some lawyers for a few years. A good few years bearing in mind the apparent disfunctionality of US civil law.

Coinbase CEO cuts 1,100 jobs, warns of 'crypto winter'

JimC

I suppose the difference is

That the social media servers are actually doing something with as little energy as the holsters can manage. OK the majority of it is just essentially meaningless chit chat "I'm alive, you're alive" to steal Pratchett's phrase, but essentially meaningless chit chat is a major part of the human experience.

On the other hand bitcoin and the like are using huge amounts of energy to do utterly meaningless calculations that contribute nothing. To those of us who don't enthuse about the thing crypto mining has to be one of the most ridiculous wastes of energy ever devised.

Look forward and back at the history of technology and innovation. If there is ever a real supra national electronic currency equivalent, will it be based on this energy profligate technology, or will it be something quite different and more responsible? And will it have this constant pyramid of value inflation and occasional contraction, or will it be something stable that is safe for poor people to use to protect their money? Secretly you know the answer, don't you? Even if you don't wish to accept it.

Think forward ten years, twenty years. Sooner or later there will be no-one wasting energy on bitcoin and it will be replaced? What will the value of those database records be then? A bitcoin collapse is inevitable, its just a question of who it will take down.

The next time your program is 'not responding,' (do not) try these steps

JimC
Headmaster

Re: That joke is international

It does occur to me that if the management consultant can't tell the dog from the sheep then his count would have been one (or more) out. Yours pedantically...

Small nuclear reactors produce '35x more waste' than big plants

JimC

A study for a group which is for/anti nuclear/renewable/fossil/natural/artficial/organic/manufactured fuel/transport/food/clothing/water by a team they selected produced results entirely in line with their beliefs/preconceptions/policies.

Its a difficult world to be objective in.

IBM ends funding for employee retirement clubs

JimC

Re: Warning: Old-Git Post/death of Social Clubs

I worked at a local authority where they closed the social club, but it was already dying on its feet. Taking an hour for lunch and a pint at the staff club bar stopped being socially acceptable, and socialising with your workmates stopped being something people wanted to do. I think I have seen about three of my former colleagues since I took early retirement after 25 years, and its never been something I wanted to do. I think perhaps times have changed and it has just stopped being social club time. I don't suppose it helps that senior execs don't stay with a company for any length of time anyway.

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

JimC

Re: Too Often...

Ultimately storage costs money, and there's also the import quota problem. Hey Mr/Mrs Prime Minister, lets have a new act of parliament to change the import quota for this year to deal with this ordering messup. We promise it won't happen again.

IBM-powered Mayflower robo-ship once again tries to cross Atlantic

JimC

Re: you'd always better off using the real thing:

But define better off - better off for the results, or better off for the proportion of the budget spent on executive salaries rather than real scientists? And to be fair there is something to be said for the real scientists being able to do their work in office hours and go home to their kids rather than be at sea for six months at a time.

Seriously, you do not want to make that cable your earth

JimC

after some years of successful operation

Yeah, but "broken networks work". All these specs have a degree of tolerance, but the further you go off spec the more likely you are to have obscure hard to diagnose problems some way down the line.

JimC

Re: I'd heard thicknet between buildings was interesting.

Oh Gosh yes. Outbuildings at different earth potentials was mentioned above. This is a classic case. I was very glad when glass came along.

JimC

Re: sound like the kind of names people would make up.

Well yes, they are names people made up!

We can bend the laws of physics for your super-yacht, but we can't break them

JimC

Re: it never actually happened but...

I always kinda liked the thought of being stopped when I was on my way to police HQ to sort out a problem with their overtime payments system...

BOFH: You'll have to really trust me on this team-building exercise

JimC

Re: Oh god

There was a nice example from the early days of British Railways soon after nationalisation. Factory A was expensive for casting, and cheap for machining a component. Factory B was cheap for casting and expensive for machining. Let's, said the time and motion man, get Factory B to do the casting and Factory A to do the machining. And the end result: the job was now more expensive than either factory...

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

JimC

> tear up all contracts

I'm not sure that sort of aggressive combative approach actually works in the real world. We are talking about minimum wage workers with no training and probably minimal command of english. If you get one sacked the next one is just the same, and as for tearing up contracts, well the amount of trouble that causes is out of all proportion, even if you won't be overruled by the bean counters. And in any case the next cleaning company will be employing much the same sort of people, because that's all you are going to get for the money you are paying for the contract.

No, the right approach in this sort of circumstance is to make it as difficult as possible to get things wrong. It starts with building design too. I particularly admired the office layout where the clean power sockets for the office equipment were at floor level and feeding power strips on desk islands, and the vacuum cleaner sockets were on ceiling pillars at waist height and in open air. The person responsible for that office layout knew what they were doing. I just had to patrol every few weeks to make sure no-one was using the vacuum cleaner sockets as part of a general safety inspection.

In my opinion we don't think nearly enough about in the IT industry about making it easier for people to get things right instead of wrong. And its just as valid for intelligent people who see the IT as an obstruction to doing their job as it is for the zero skilled end of the industry. Instead there's a tendency to revert to a script driven process where every trace of humanity is removed from the poor peons at the sharp end.

Oops, sorry, rant over...

JimC

Re: Vacuum Cleaners

There are two things to do.

The first is to label all the sockets you wish used for vacuum cleaners with a distinctive* label saying vacuum cleaners only.

The second is a regular patrol to remove every device plugged into a vacuum cleaner socket.

*Needs to be a distinctive label since in these times not every cleaner will be able to read english**.

** I worked in the same suburban office for 25 years. A sociological study could have been made of the successive ethnic groups being exploited as cheap labour for office cleaning.

Cloudflare stomps huge DDoS attack on crypto platform

JimC

> These corporate cretins make up crap just for the sake of it.

Do you think they don't say the same about us?

JimC

the bad guys...

There is no rule that says there has to be a good guy in a conflict. Failure to realise this causes a lot of trouble.

In IT, no good deed ever goes unpunished

JimC

Re: In a previous contract ....

This is where the subtle art of manager management comes in. After you've worked out a fix to do the job in a fraction of the time its necessary to persuade management to tell you to look into the problem. With any luck you'll be able to persuade them to allocate enough time that you can do a reasonable job of documenting it and making it reasonably fault tolerant.

Ex-eBay security director to plead guilty to cyberstalking

JimC

Who will

rid me of this turbulent priest?

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

JimC

Re: The Boot can be on the other foot...

I think in practice if a contractor were found to be having any kind of working relationship with someone the client had specifically vetoed then things would be exceedingly difficult. Hard to believe it would be worth the risk. After all to be irreplaceable is very unprofessional.

JimC

The Boot can be on the other foot...

Mind you... I was leaving voluntarily in the midst of a big departmental reorganisation. Hence it was exceeding difficult to work out *who* I should be handing stuff over too. So I spent my notice period diligently documenting everything I could think of in as much detail as I could and making sure it was all stored in the appropriate database (which my colleagues perhaps didn't use as much as they might have).

A couple of months later I received a query from an outsourcer who was looking for a contractor with a skill set uncannily like my own. It didn't take long to establish that, yes, they had been given the role of picking up where I left off. Conversation on the role and requirements soon established that not only had they not been pointed at my documentation, they had no idea such a body of documentation existed at all. I told them where to find it. After all one has professional pride.

It was probably as well I told them where to find the documentation, because my former employer vetoed my return as a contractor. This was the first of a number of clues that the frustrating working environment that had motivated my departure was most probably because I was coming last in a game of internal politics I had no idea I was playing!

Axed data scientist sues IBM claiming he was discriminated against as a man

JimC

Re: I'd agree that there's plenty of competition out there for bad employers

Its a funny thing isn't. When it comes to us ordinary folk who do the work the customer pays for then its market rate. But when it comes to executives they have to pay top quartile pay in order to get the 'best' executives. By definition, of course, there aren't enough top quartile executives for everyone to have them, so the inevitable result is that they pay top quartile pay to average executives and the pay keeps ratcheting up. And thus the executive class gets richer and richer at the expense of the middle class.

In the graveyard of good ideas, how does yours measure up to these?

JimC

Re: The porridge in that photo looks a bit odd, don’t you think?

Clearly I was not the only one with an inadequate grasp of franglais who saw traces of rabbits and spiders...

Prototype app outperforms and outlasts outsourced production version

JimC

But Pareto...

I wonder if a lot of the time our old friend Pareto comes into play. A quick and dirty prototype which delivers a substantial amount of the functionality can be done very quickly, but the last bit takes all the work. If you add to that the old problem of changes/new features being added faster than the system is being developed then its easy to see how the production system can get stuck in development hell while the proto keeps doing its 80%.

Dido Harding's appointment to English public health body ruled unlawful

JimC

Re: understanding the subject matter helps managing it.

Possibly, but there's also the 'a little learning is.. " problem. Submit the most important attributes an executive needs is that of listening to and understanding the *right* technical people, and not falling into the trap of listening only to the people who say what they would like to hear.

FYI: Support ends for older Visual Studio versions in April

JimC

Visual Studio? Pah

A couple of weeks ago I found myself writing a utility in Visual Basic 4... Not a very sophisticated utility admittedly, with one line of working code : End.

Due to my objections to discarding perfectly good hardware my scanner runs on Windows XP in a virtual machine - no later drivers. The equally antiquated scanner software insists on loading an app against the image after scanning. It had never crossed the 'so annoying have to do something about it until I had about 50 80 year old documents to scan and didn't want to mess about. Hence the app that starts and immediately stops. So I wanted a compiler that would run on XP and the VB4 CD was the first one out of the dusty drawer. You see dear, there is a reason for keeping all this old junk. Never know when it might come in useful.

Crack team of boffins hash out how e-scooters should sound – but they need your help*

JimC

Playing cards? Spot the posh rich kid.

JimC

Or just design noisier tyres and let tyre noise do the job?

Thank you, FAQ chatbot, but if I want your help I'll ask for it

JimC

Despising the company/customer loyalty

I think that's the key. In the age of comparison web pages etc many companies place little value on customer loyalty, other than by hoping that time poor and vulnerable customers won't notice that they are paying a premium for nothing.

The Ministry of Silly Printing: But I don't want my golf club correspondence to say 'UNCLASSIFIED' at the bottom

JimC

Re: Back in the early 90's

Oh gosh yes, and early laser printers had limited character sets which applications couldn't necessarilly manage. I had to acquire a rudimentary knowledge of assembler in order to be able to create .com files to send codes to printer ports at low level in order to embed commands in the batch files that loaded applications so the printer was set correctly for the application. Before shared printers which would have stuffed that sort of thing royally.

Surrey County Council faces £700k additional SAP support fees as £30m Unit4 ERP set to miss go-live target

JimC

So you could

> So you could run the current system with full support (which likely includes upgrading to

> new versions), for the next 42 and a bit years and still be cheaper than the installation cost

> for the new system.

If one could do that half the businesses in the country would still be running Windows 2000 and Office 2000... But sadly we are all forced down this red queens race of upgrading every few years for wonderful new features nearly no-one uses...

Ex-DJI veep: There was no drone at Gatwick during 2018's hysterical shutdown

JimC

Mandy Rice-Davies

Hard for there to be any evidence either way.

84-year-old fined €250,000 for keeping Nazi war machines – including tank – in basement

JimC

Re: WTF?

I wonder about statements like that. After all I imagine it only took a few days to manufacture the gun in the first place. It feels like spin to me. I would be asking what facilities would be needed, machine tools and the like.

India's IT minister angry that Twitter broke local law by following US law

JimC

Re: This is interesting

Well, they need to find another way to operate. Governments tend to look down on companies who think obeying the law is too hard. The tide is turning against multinationals making their own rules.

Euro court rules YouTube not automatically liable for users illegally uploading copyright-protected material

JimC

Then an awful lot of authors and composers would be worse off. The current system is pretty poor, but its better than any alternatives anyone has dreamed up.

It took 'over 80 different developers' to review and fix 'mess' made by students who sneaked bad code into Linux

JimC

I dunno, while locking the stable door after the horse has bolted is not actually a bad thing, this feels like locking the stable door the horse exited *while leaving all the other stable doors as they were*. There are a lot more and a lot worse bad hats in the world than these dumb students. Its hard to believe that no-one else has done the same thing,

The future is now, old man: Let the young guns show how to properly cock things up

JimC

Re: Backup always

Three backups. One to go wrong, one to realise its gone wrong because of a problem, not random chance, and one to rescue you...

Salesforce fell over so hard today, it took out its own server status page

JimC

Re: It was the engineer in the DC with the keyboard

DNS that doesn't roll out globally across the org makes for extremely bizarre faults! I remember having some issues in the early days of Microsoft DNS.

Apple faces another suit over its allegedly misleading water resistance claims

JimC

The other interesting problem

Is when you drop a hot IP68 mobile into cold water. Don't ask me how I know...

Does the boss want those 2 hours of your free time back? A study says fighting through crowds to office each day hurts productivity

JimC

No company ever forced its staff to do 90 minute commutes...

I've never taken a job that was more than about 15/20 minutes from home. When moving house one of the first considerations has always been one ride public transport and reasonable distance to work. You don't have to go that far back in time for the majority of the workforce to live within walking distance of their workplace. The big commute is something we've done to ourselves. For excellent and well founded reasons no doubt, but still fundamentally self inflicted.

When you consider the waste of energy, time and everything else that long distance commuting represents, maybe its something that has to change?

University duo thought it would be cool to sneak bad code into Linux as an experiment. Of course, it absolutely backfired

JimC

Re: potentially damaged the prospects of all the other students at the Uni

I submit that any employer dumb enough to do that would be one that was best avoided anyway.

JimC

Bad Actor/Good actor.

Seems to me that if a malign covert agency wished to insert something into the Linux code base then an obvious thing to do is devote a lot of time to developing entirely beneficial updates, and insert their desired malware as just one item within a large number of entirely benign updates. What is more, in such a situation it might even be possible to blame an unknown 3rd party for the malicious code, and retain credibility. This would require the agent to have commitment to play a very long game indeed, but such agents are not entirely unknown.

How to ensure your tech predictions catch on in a flash? Do the mash

JimC

Re: a layer of plastic from our time and little else.

Plastics will have long degraded, although I'm not quite sure what they'll degrade into. Some sort of vaguely oily stain in the ground polluted with all sorts of odd elements perhaps? Maybe more than 1,000 years for the process to complete. Concrete structures perhaps? Rebar will presumably corrode out and shatter reinforced concrete structures, but roman concrete survives.

For blinkenlights sake.... RTFM! Yes. Read The Front of the Machine

JimC

Re: Any "boss" who says that to me

As a teenager I had a summer job in a nursing home as kitchen hand. Management changed and new manager was 3 weeks behind paying wages. Any complaints were greeted with "If you don't like it you can leave". I waited until the afternoon just about everyone was out for one reason or another and itwas him and me and a huge pile of washing up, and tackled him. Usual response. Oh, how I enjoyed shutting the door behind me and leaving him in deep whatever...

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