* Posts by hitmouse

434 posts • joined 15 Dec 2008


Geneticists throw hands in the air, change gene naming rules to finally stop Microsoft Excel eating their data


This is how we get bloat, creating features to "solve" a problem that exhibits for 0.0001% of users who could easily RTFM and circumvent the issue.


Re: Logically ...

The heuristics are excellent for the 99% of cases that they encounter. I can't imagine that people importing gene sequences are more than about 0.00001% of users. Trouble is people are seeing their glass as 0.00001% empty rather than 99.9999% full.


The user interfaces for most of the scientific software I have seen (which is quite a lot) suggest that their practical and aesthetic sensibilities were developed sometime around 1990. While it wouldn't take much effort to update most of these interfaces, their file import/export, and god-forbid their network handling, they will also charge a phenomenal amount of money for updates. For those people who think Office is expensive (because they don't remember when Lotus 1-2-3 by itself was $2000 in the mid-80s), science packages run into the $10Ks with huge hikes to "support" operating system updates.


Re: User Error

If you're in a university then most of these alternate tools are actually available, if not in a standard disk image for computers given to researchers, then by a download from a standard set of enterprise-licensed research tools.


You do have that choice - and people are complaining about the auto-guess step. If you import via file open then you get to override those auto-guesses with a simple columnar application of format buttons. if you import via well.."file import from text/csv" then you can nerd out on column type choices and token separators.

This stuff has been around for decades.

This response exemplifies the user issue of simply not doing a very simple check on how to use the tool properly.


Re: I must be missing something...

"if MS simply added an import wizard such as the one for txt files, it would almost make things bearable."

Like the one on the ribbon labelled "Text/CSV"?


There is an entire Data section on the Excel ribbon, of which the left hand side is given over to importing and formatting data. The underlying functions have been available for decades.

The problem is largely around the complete failure of universities and other institutions to take software training seriously. Since most of these people can't even book a meeting properly, forget about them trying to manipulate data.

Reply-All storm flares as email announcing privacy policy puts 500 addresses in the 'To' field, not 'BCC'


Also if you emailed their published privacy email, the response is (from mailer-daemon@googlemail.com>)

We're writing to let you know that the group you tried to contact (privacy) may not exist, or you may not have permission to post messages to the group. A few more details on why you weren't able to post:

* You might have spelled or formatted the group name incorrectly.

* The owner of the group may have removed this group.

* You may need to join the group before receiving permission to post.

* This group may not be open to posting.

If you have questions related to this or any other Google Group, visit the Help Center at https://support.google.com/a/substackinc.com/bin/topic.py?topic=25838.


substackinc.com admins

Microsoft accused of sharing data of Office 365 business subscribers with Facebook and its app devs


I read the 38pp complaint from the plaintiff (who has a $120/yr Office Business Premium account*) and cannot find anywhere where it says this happens, just that it is "alleged more specifically below" and "below" never comes.

* "Plaintiff Davenport is investigating replacing its [$120/yr] Microsoft subscription with a"different solution, a transition that would require significant time and money. " and is looking for $5million.

Australia to refund $720m in 'debts' determined by dodgy algorithm


Re: Interesting

In some areas, you get an automated letter from the department of revenue or "debt recovery" and there is no human you can talk to other than going to court. It enables the government to reap in money in installments just under the level at which someone can take time off work to go to court to get it back. My solicitor calls it legislated corruption,

Made-up murder claims, threats to kill Twitter, rants about NSA spying – anything but mention 100,000 US virus deaths, right, Mr President?


Re: They didn't vote for him

"The real cruelty of all of this is that lockdowns, social distancing, masks, forced shutdowns of business, stay at home orders, and all of that stuff, does not actually save anyone from coronavirus. It merely delays the deaths."

Wrong. More people die who would otherwise have had an opportunity to be shielded by a vaccine. Also more people die due to complications with existing conditions or because medical responders cannot attend to them in time due to lack of equipment, over-stretched hospitals, and staff who have died from the disease.

Sweden didn't get it right. They have a massively increased death rate compared to their neighbouring states, and didn't manage to lift herd immunity noticeably.

The extra deaths and economic side-effects in the USA are because the pandemic exposed the basic cruelties and inequities in its economy and social services. Look at countries like Australia and New Zealand where the #deaths nationally approximates the numbers in a single building in the United States, and where rapid consensus between national and state leaders of opposing parties made rescue packages possible.

Look at countries sharing land borders with China (Vietnam, Mongolia) where the disease effect of the virus is vanishingly small.


These analogies do a disservice to chimpanzees.

The level of intelligence and stench involved suggest a flailing yeast colony raised on sewage.

'I wrote Task Manager': Ex-Microsoft programmer Dave Plummer spills the beans


Re: It hasn't been able to kill lots of stuff

"The Command prompt has been becoming more and more powerful." ... how like all software

Huge if true... Trump explodes as he learns open source could erode China tech ban


Make American Garnish Again

(in the voice of Maxwell Smart) It's the old east-west technology ketchup game.

Microsoft decrees that all high-school IT teachers were wrong: Double spaces now flagged as typos in Word


Just set the document or text range to no proofing. Easy. Doesn't require you mucking around with any other feature disabling.


Turning autocorrect/proofing off is one element of a style.

If you make a paste error than undo + redo with preferred paste mode is about two seconds of work. Making a word processor into a code editor is a classic example of asking for feature bloat.


It sounds like your main gripe is that Word is configurable. I don't know why people are more upset by setting the spacing preference then they are at setting their favourite default font or margin size.

Code blocks are trivial to do with styles. Let me Google it for you ...


Re: XyWrite

Only flags it if you set it in your proofing preferences. You can have it ignore it (which it defaults to on my Word) or set a preference of 1 or 2 spaces. Easy, just what you'd expect a word processor to do.


It already does, and most of the settings that people here bitch about have always been easily configurable in Word's quite detailed proofing settings section. Options for spacing are "don't check, one space, two spaces".

Oxford comma also configurable. Chances are if your language settings are not English(US) then you will get what you are used to.


Re: It may be a US "standard", but...

Yes it, and every other spelling/grammar/style setting is configurable. I just checked and see my options for spacing are "don't check, one space, two spaces".


Re: "Fall Creators Update"

You set your spacing preference yourself in the same Word Proofing settings that have been around for decades. I just checked and see my options for spacing are "don't check, one space, two spaces". My preference is "don't check".

I presume all the IT professionals here know how to do this. Assuming they aren't the ones who've set up Office/Word with the wrong language & proofing defaults.

Microsoft expands AI features in Office, but are they any good? Mixed, according to our vulture


Re: Not off to a great start...

It would depend on your Word settings for Grammar & Refinements (or Grammar & Style) as it was previously known. There is a checkbox for Oxford commas which is possibly connected to your language default (EN-US, EN-UK etc)

Many of the settings have been around since Word for Windows 1.0 nearly 30 years ago (when I started using it) - and labelled as Style rather than Grammar settings. Hasn't stopped endless opinion pieces on Microsoft's grammar rules.

Microsoft qualifications will pad the CV for another year, Teams for ventilator boffins, and Windows 10 threatened with very retro news app


If you play your cards right

Microsoft staff giggle beneath the weight of a 52,000-person Reply-All email storm


The Bedlam DL3 email storm of 1997 did actually have an impact on mail server design. See Wikipedia and various first person accounts on the web,

There was another MS-related email storm last week when 3000 customers were sent an invite to an online webinar and instructed to reply-all. Cue hundreds of IT professionals sending "Unsubscribe" messages that added to the storm. Not a single one noticed that they had received N-1 unsubscribe requests that were the essence of the storm.

Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo dies aged 92


Re: O tempora, o mores!

I certainly contend that Asterix in Britain is funnier in the English version. Goscinny credited Anthea Bell with some better jokes according to her obituary: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/oct/18/anthea-bell-obituary

For me the translation of Idéfix to Dogmatix is exquisite.

There's a great very translator-geeky appreciation of the English translations here: https://auntymuriel.com/2012/12/23/asterix-in-translation-the-genius-of-anthea-bell-and-derek-hockridge/

I started collecting the books when I was about 11. My father used to pinch them and my Tintin books on a regular basis. He probably read them all far more times than me.


O tempora, o mores!

I remember as a teen wanting to learn French "to read Asterix in the original".

I've been enjoying the recent efforts from Didier and Conrad much more than Uderzo's solo outings. As much as he was a genius visually, his own stories kinda jumped the shark in a manner I can only compare to late-stage Heinlein.

I shudder to think what the new American-translations of the back-catalogue will be like. Previous American reworkings found their way into Australian Sunday newspaper comics back in the day, and were completely devoid of all the cultural references and subtle humour found in the superb translations of Anthea Bell (d.2018) and Derek Hockridge (d. 2013) who sometimes made the translated versions funnier than the original. That these translators' names roll out of my memory and no others do is testament to their virtuoso efforts.

Microsoft drops a seemingly innocuous Windows Insider build, teases the future


Snip & Sketch (connected to Win+PrtScr) has been intermittently broken across all my devices (all different manufacturers and video drivers) for months and now seems uniformly borked everywhere. I've reset it , reinstalled it, but it just refuses to capture anything. Thank goodness the old Snipping Tool hasn't been permanently removed yet.

RIP Katherine Johnson: The extraordinary NASA mathematician astronauts trusted over computers


Much like the "don't ask don't tell" policy forced military intelligence to get rid of most of its Arabic translators and many other gifted personnel.

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


They're aiming for parity with GMail which insists on labelling many of my subcriptions as spam despite having the sender in my address, explicit rules saying that they are never to be labelled as spam, and finally, clicking "Not spam" on each item for months, if not years.

I'm not alone in this, read comments at:

* https://www.jotform.com/help/404-How-to-Prevent-Emails-from-Landing-in-Gmail-s-Spam-Folder

* https://www.askvg.com/fix-gmail-marks-your-important-emails-as-spam/

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


Re: update the social touch-points

Talent is immaterial in a world where people create new IMDB accounts just to give 1-star reviews to content that has non-white-male characters


This production had its flaws but I'm not worried by the content updates, which in some ways draw on Wells personal life.

Wells' writing was informed by the social issues of his times e.g. WotW by the genocide of the Tasmanian aborigines. I'm sure he would have received plenty of 1/10 reviews headed "PC snowflake" crap if the book came out now.

In order to remake something with the same sensibility as the original you need to update the social touchpoints.


Re: free emotional expression

I wasn't wild about it - David Morrissey wasn't a strong enough lead.

Also, since the BBC works with a variety of production companies (Mammoth Screen in this case) it's not possible to ascribe a uniform mindset to what they screen.

If you never thought you'd hear a Microsoftie tell you to stop using Internet Explorer, lap it up: 'I beg you, let it retire to great bitbucket in the sky'


Needed for SharePoint

Internet Explorer with its support for ActiveX is still the only documented way of working around a lot of SharePoint problems, thanks to the File Explorer view it gives of SharePoint document libraries.


If Mr Lawrence wants to remove IE11 from our workplace document ecosystem, then maybe he could address the longstanding bugs and feature deficiencies that have gone unattended on UserVoice for years despite thousands of users voting for them.

Having trouble finding a job in your 40s? Study shows some bosses like job applicants... up until they see dates of birth


Re: "Fall Creators Update"

In Australia, the response is that you're either overqualified, or they can't afford you. As always they want above-market skills coupled with entry level wages. Hence employers lobby government for more imported labour while simultaneously denying opportunities to skilled workers on their doorstep.

I was at a seminar two years ago where a young colleague reported that his father (not much older than I) had created all of the company's X system. The seminar moderator asked what he did now. "He drives an Uber as no one will give him a job."

Smart speaker maker Sonos takes heat for deliberately bricking older kit with 'Trade Up' plan


Sonos forces updates on its users by disabling core features until they accede. The updates rarely serve up anything of value for those in a stable setup - they're usually to support newer services, and there's no reason to disable working equipment.

I find their sustainability rhetoric entirely unconvincing.

Remember the Uber self-driving car that killed a woman crossing the street? The AI had no clue about jaywalkers


Re: "Fall Creators Update"

Cue Google updating its CAPTCHA images to detect jaywalkers.

First they came for 'face' and I did not speak out because I... have no face? Then they came for 'book'


According to my handbook, I should check my logbook for any prior use.

Microsoft's only gone and published the exFAT spec, now supports popping it in the Linux kernel


Re: Is Microsoft really that desperate ?

When Microsoft bought Hotmail over 20 years ago it became one of the biggest BSD/Linux managers in the world. It also released its first Linux kernel last year.

The important thing with IT companies is not to listen to the hot air released at the top (particularly during the Ballmer era) but pay attention to what the engineers are actually doing.

Clip, clip, hooray: NASA says it will send Clipper probe to Europa, will attempt no landing there


Re: "Fall Creators Update"

The Clipper will use radar to map out the surface of Europa for possible purchase offers from President Trump. In a NASA briefing he said "Now that the United Kingdom of England is leaving Europa, people are saying that we should step in so America can have the best moons and make the solar system great again. "

I don't have to save my work, it's in The Cloud. But Microsoft really must fix this files issue


A manager complained during a software training session last week that she had stopped using this widely used program at her previous job because it didn't work.

- What went wrong?

- It didn't work

- At what point did it break?

- It broke.

- Where?

- it! it! IT! ... (hands thrown in air)


In the late 80s I worked for a major UK merchant bank where - as I was preparing to go home on a Friday evening - I was asked to help out with recovering vital financial data from a 5.25" floppy that looked like someone had sat on it while they had keys in their pocket. I beavered away with some Norton tools to bring it back from the edge of doom and transferred it to a new disk.

Following Friday - I am asked to do the same thing again. Treasurer holds out the same mangled disk ...

"why did they use this again?" (I was amazed that they were still able to feed it into the disk drive, let alone write to it.)

"Well they cost five quid each you know..."

The Eldritch Horror of Date Formatting is visited upon Tesco


Check with the local planning office in Alpha Centauri


I've noticed that Amazon is putting things into its Australian catalogue with MMDDYYYY dates but interpreting them as DDMMYYYY, so products that are actually available now are not available for another |MM-DD| months.

Of course if you try to tell one of the Amazon support droids, then they just suggest something like you reinstall your browser. ( I reported spelling errors in the Kindle Android app user interface and I was told to reinstall the app....) . What was it that Jeff Bezos said about making three good decisions per day??? I hope they balance out the millions of bad decisions made as a result of his one decision to remove thought processes from his product support.

Ikea hopes to spare shoppers the one-way Helvete of its stores with ÅR app overhaul


Re: Follow the instructions correctly

(From someone who has bought from them in France, Sweden, Spain, UK, USA, Australia)

Not only have I had an abundance of mis-aligned holes, but I bought some bookshelves where the planks in a single box were in three different veneers.


Their inventory information is surprisingly hopeless - they should fix that first. I've checked their online availability of items before a 90 minute drive to their Toulouse store to purchase. I've arrived as one of the first customers of the day, and found that there was no stock, there had been no recent stock and they weren't expecting any for weeks. How would I know when they had stock? "Check the website". Bfff...

Backup your files with CrashPlan! Except this file type. No, not that one either. Try again...


Isn't that where you store your job applications? <ducks>


I discovered that some of my disk recovery files have been selectively deleted. Some of the most critical files I need backed up suddenly became ineligible...

Go on, Skippy, spill yer guts: 10.5 million+ Australians' data was breached in past 3 months


I notified a government agency of a breach it had made earlier this year, and said they need to file a report. However there appears to be no mechanism for verifying whether or not such a report has been made. The published report lists five sectors without defining what all the sectors it considers might be. It would be edifying to always have the stats on government agencies.

When 2FA means sweet FA privacy: Facebook admits it slurps mobe numbers for more than just profile security


Their shadow profile system makes for even more potential to have data slurping out of control.

In 2008 I uploaded my address book to Facebook. A few months ago before I closed my account I downloaded all my information. I was startled to find that acquaintances from ten years ago that I had not added as FB friends had had all their contact information updated and supplied back to me.

Anyone hiding from a dangerous ex-partner would nearly need to go off grid and use burner accounts and devices to avoid having their location volunteered by Zuck's Detective Agency.



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