* Posts by J.G.Harston

2202 posts • joined 4 Mar 2009

80-characters-per-line limits should be terminal, says Linux kernel chief Linus Torvalds

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My copy of StrongEd defaults to 1024 characters per displayed line.

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Re: None of this is a new problem

It's also weird as it's not any multiple of pixels. Most printers and terminals could switch between 80 columns and 132 columns, and you can't even get a mathematical explanation such as something like 80x8pixels divided by 7 pixels gives 91x7 pixels, or 106x6 pixels, or 128x5 pixels. There must be some mathematical justification for 80 x K = 132. K is very close to 5/3, that would give 133 characters, but why 5/3? 800 pixels gives 80x10 and 133x6 which is a 5/3 ratio.

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As does the Soviet UKNC/Elektronika. I've been doing a bit of programming on it, it also defaults to smooth scrolling!

Dude, where's my laser?

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Re: Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser

My cat used to follow me to the supermarket, then follow me home, thereup I would open a tin of cat food and feed him. I came to believe he clearly thought we were hunting. After all, we went "prowling", came home, and ate.

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"Yes, it had indeed activated. But where had the beam gone?"

That's the introductory McGuffin in one of Asimov's novels. Impenatratium beam accidently passes through the test equipment, through the wall, across the city, through a passerby and transports him into the future, along with lots of small slightly tapered cylindrical bits of building and passing pigeons.

Das reboot: That's the only thing to do when the screenshot, er, freezes

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Re: ID10T error

A long time ago, on logging on the splash screen said something like:

Remember: Save your files in your HOME directory on drive H.

To my amazement I saw multiple people respond by carefully pressing H.

Mirror mirror on the wall, why will my mouse not work at all?

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Re: RISC OS allowed this by design

Don't need to go to BASIC, can do it from the command line. *MouseMultiplier <x> <y> or some such.

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Re: Plain english

Well, what do you expect, that's what the instructions tolder her to do.

The mouse is on the desk, not the screen. The thing on the screen is a pointer.

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Re: All been there

* I've barricaded the door

* Yes, but it opens outwards!

I can picture where I've seen this, but can't quite put my finger on it.

The Rise of The (Coffee) Machines: I need assistance. I think I'm running Windows. Send help

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Re: we obviously also cannot trust what it might spit out when asked for "tea."

Next time I go to Japan I'm taking a 120-pack of Tetley's with me. Y900 for 25 teabags???

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Brings back memories of coaxing strange error messages out of the Dynex library access system back in the '80s.

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Re: First person

Argh! Earworm!

Choo choo, I'm a train, I say choo choo I'm a train.

Danger zone! Brit research supercomputer ARCHER's login nodes exploited in cyber-attack, admins reset passwords and SSH keys

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Re: I blame

Ah, yes, Fisherman's Wife and Fisherman's Wife II - The Retentacling.

UK finds itself almost alone with centralized virus contact-tracing app that probably won't work well, asks for your location, may be illegal

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We've had 100 years of experimentation with central planning, and it's never worked. How is this going to be different?

Does a .com suffix make a trademark? The US Supreme Court will decide as Booking marks its legal spot

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Re: Actually seems reasonble

VAX Computers and VAX Cleaners came to an agreement not to tresspass on each other's product range.

Britain has no idea how close it came to ATMs flooding the streets with free money thanks to some crap code, 1970s style

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Re: The past is another counttry.

Six pints of beer, and keep the change.

From a fiver? Thank you very much sir!

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Re: Uh ho ...

Reminds me of when I was called out to bug-fix an application in the early 1990s. On startup the screen would be drawn, then very quickly disappear and be replaced by a buffer overflow error. Couldn't work out what was happeneding as it happened so fast, and it worked perfectly on every other machine we tested it on.

I ended up just running it again and again and to see if I could use persistance of vision to see where it was bombing out. It drew a line-draw window, printed a few headings, then bombed out. Hmm. So it's managing to /start/ outputting to the display. Hmmm. Can I run the code with the text output redirected to a file? Ooo, yes.

Run application, let it bomb out, examine redirect file. It ended with:

Disk space free: Buffer overrun

Hmmm. Run FREE.

Bytes free: 102,000,000 bytes (or summut).

Chap had bought a brand spanking new shiny soopadooper huuuuge hard drive with more than 99M of free space (yes, huuuuge!) The application was trying to write a 9-digit number into a 8-digit string buffer.

Quick fix: Save some dummy files to reduce the free space to under 100M and it worked prefectly. :)

Nine million logs of Brits' road journeys spill onto the internet from password-less number-plate camera dashboard

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Re: If I lived there

Motorways are Highways England/Transport Scotland. Different people.

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Re: Massive invasion of privacy

You did notice that there are 49 Labour to 35 Others, meaning that it's a Labour council. And with the Leader And Cabinet model, even the Labour backbenchers have no hands on any levers of power.

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Re: Massive invasion of privacy

Local councils are not part of national government, they are local government. They are part of "governance" in the abstract, but they are not part of "government" as it is usually used meaning Westminster.

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I remember in the early noughties the IT Working Group met in a basement room behind the central heating boilers.

Forget tabs – the new war is commas versus spaces: Web heads urged by browser devs to embrace modern CSS

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Re: "Get used to the modern"

Aren't disk drive mounting screws something similar? I remember it took me ages to track down the right size.

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Re: "Get used to the modern"

What you do in that case is have a *new* API that takes the parameters the "correct" way.

setcolour(int a) // do not use in new code, translates to a call to rgb()

setrgb(long r,g,b) // new API

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Collapsing whitespace! That's passing one parameter with the value 0128192.

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

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I've just pulled a book at random off the shelf, and.. it's monospaced and justified, with extra spaces added for justification between words, with a preference for inserting after a full stop.

Ok, another book. Proportional font, can't tell the difference between dot-space and comma-space, so I assume it's a single space.

As the majority of text is rendered in proportional fonts, and multiple spaces are run together and treated as a single token seperator (and in HTML is mandated), it's pointless to manually insrt extra ones. I've just fired up MSWord, and typed hello space space space space there and once it becomes a line break no matter how many spaces I type it remains displayed as hello space there.

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Re: Younger style

But how do you indicate that you have 30 years' experience in X without revealing that you're at least 40 years old?

Web pages a little too style over substance? Behold the Windows 98 CSS file

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This prompted me to wander over to Jakob Neilson's interface usability website.

Yeah gods! What's happened? The old site used to be nice and fast intuitive, clear, an examplar of recommended usability. It took about 40 seconds just to get the main page to load, sloooooooooooooowwwwwwlllyyy scrolled some crap up across the screen and then it killed my browser.

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Re: Style versus content

It's like the early days of home desktop publishing. Oooo, I've got six hundred fonts, I MUST USE THEM ALL!!!!

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Re: The Modern UI/UX

It's not even disabled people. It's "ordinary people?" Meh!

A paper clip, a spool of phone wire and a recalcitrant RS-232 line: Going MacGyver in the wonderful world of hotel IT

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Probably something like:


IN A,(serStatus)



IN A,(SerData)

LD HL,(bufin)



LD (bufin),HL ; NB! FIXME: no over-run check


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Re: Portakabins in Schools were "temporary" also.

In my home town they are still there *now*. Every now and then an occupant dies, and the councilhousing association strips and rebuilds it in brickwork.

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Re: Hmm. 1982 Channel Four. Now our first programme. Countdown.

Originally Calendar Countdown. :)

House of Commons agrees to allow Zoom app in Parliament, British MPs will still have to dress smartly

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Why Zoom? Why not Skype or Team or Facetime or GoTo or CyberLink or Meet or many others.

As a public organisation they shouldn't be locking in to a particular application, they should be using a system where the participants can use whatever system they wish to chose to connect. We are long long past the time of "I've got a Brooks line for local calls and a Bell line for long distance". And the WHOLE POINT of the internet from DAY ZERO was that it is irrelevant what the client end user system is.

Oh Hell. Remember the glory days of Demon Internet? Well, now would be a good time to pick a new email address

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I remember getting lists of local dial-in numbers, they went to great lengths to try and get 666-xxx numbers in many area codes.

ZX Spectrum prototype ROM is now available for download courtesy of boffins at the UK's Centre for Computing History

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"hints of an early incarnation of the Microdrive software, which was later removed in production."

No, the code wasn't removed. The production ROM that went to customers was masked before the Microdrive code had been put in. This ROM is a continuation of the ROM development, putting code *in*, in the expectation that what Sinclair had been sending out was a temporary measure and would be replaced with the "real" finished version.

COBOL-coding volunteers sought as slammed mainframes slow New Jersey's coronavirus response

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Wait a mo, they want UNPAID volunteers? Where does it say that? "Volunteer" isn't the opposite of "paid", *UNPAID* is the opposite of "paid", *CONSCRIPT* is the opposite of "volunteer".

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Can I do it remotely? As with the PDP11 job some years ago, they want people on site now immediately at once, and I can't just abandon my life and go to the other side of the world.

Absolutely everyone loves video conferencing these days. Some perhaps a bit too much

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I get that on lots of forums. If the speed drops while fetching a page you can see who's got avatar pictures where they've just uploaded a mega-giga-pixel image and the forum simply serves it with img width="64" tags.

That awful moment when what you thought was a number 1 turned out to be a number 2

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Re: Excel hate?

"Just make sure the first line (preceding the data) contains "sep=<desired separator>", like "sep=;" or "sep=,""

That just results in every other data manipulation program I use complain that the number of fields in the first line doesn't match the rest of the file, or make the title of column zero "sep=". It's a COMMA seperated file, the seperator is a COMMA.

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Re: Excel hate?

I've had to go to extreme lengths to get around Excel's habit of translating anything that looks like a date or a number into internal format.

0114200xxxx ? Ok, that's 1.14e9

1/6 ? Ok, that's datedays(34646)

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Every replacement PC roll-out gets this.

"All my files are gone!!!!!"


"I haven't yet recently opened anything yet because this is a new mahine, so there's nothing listed in the 'recently opened files' list and I don't understand file systems and actually know where the actual file is".

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, health secretary Matt Hancock both test positive for COVID-19 coronavirus

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Dominic Raab's actual designation is "designated survivor".

Short of tech talent to deal with novel coronavirus surge? Let us help – with free job ads on The Register

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Clearly my reg-fu isn't up to scratch, but I can't actually find where the job adverts are.

Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo dies aged 92

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Re: O tempora, o mores!

I bought my nephews Asterix In Britain ... in Chinese. :) From their giggles the translation must have stood well.

Bad news: Coronavirus is spreading rapidly across the world. Good news: Nitrogen dioxide levels are decreasing and the air on Earth is cleaner

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Nice cover pic from the ZX Spectrum manual. :)

Captain Caveman rides to the rescue, solves a prickly PowerPoint problem with a magical solution

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Wonderful, you've pushed one earworm out of my head and pushed in another one. :)

Not exactly the kind of housekeeping you want when it means the hotel's server uptime is scrubbed clean

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Re: It's the same everywhere

I once got home to find a card saying "we've put your parcel in the bin".

WTF???? What right is it of them to decide to throw away my parcel???

I look in the bin. No parcel.

I look in next door's bin. No parcel.

On the way back to the kitchen I notice the lid on the water butt askew. Yep. Ruined parcel of books bobbing about in the water butt.

The Reg produces exhibit A1: A UK court IT system running Windows XP

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Re: What logic is this?

Gawd, don't tell me.

"Where's the tree icon? I always clicked on the tree icon."

"It's a blue swan in flight now. Can't you just look for the words?"

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Re: Sneakernet

I've got an XP box in the corner, and it's set up to scan removable media when it's inserted, as are the public sector Win7 systems I've been replacing over the last six months.

Stuck at home? Need something to keep busy with? Microsoft has 115 ideas – including an awful SMBv3 security hole to worry about

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Re: Imagine a user...

You've got that upside-down. Data doesn't change programs, programs change data.


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