* Posts by Sandra Greer

130 publicly visible posts • joined 3 May 2007


Our Reg reader 'mutt's nuts' dictionary is le chien's biens

Sandra Greer

Merkin translation

If you said that in the U.S. it might raise a laugh, but I have never heard it actually used here. These are old usages: cat's pajamas, cat's meow, bee's knees. We tend to use single words that mean "cool". So we are right in the same boat as the rest of Europe.

Of course, British speakers of English, as the original users, may innovate without it being translatable.


Whoa! NUDE! SELFIES! for! Marissa! Mayer's! Blink-gobbling! Yahoo!

Sandra Greer

Who! Cares!

Yahoo's email performance has become so horrible I have mostly switched to gmail, after years of using it. Yahoo Answers was recently modified to become unusable, so I stopped contributing to it; I was a major contributor to their general medical questions. Adding stupid selfies for stupid people is yet another stupid move by the self-destructive company.

Republicans turn up heat on FCC over net neutrality push

Sandra Greer

Re: Perfect example of general Republican party

Infrastructure is being strangled by collusion among the biggest players. For instance, in New York City we have TIme Warner Cable and Verizon (supplying fibre optic connections). So what happens? Verizon only provisions customers in large building where they can make a quick profit, and TWC is not challenged by a better competitor. I live in a very active part of Brooklyn, NY (Park Slope) which still does not have Verizon FIOS on offer, even though a huge number of residents are actually in the software and media business and would go for FIOS in a heartbeat. The cables have been run in the large avenues (to comply with a city directive), but Verizon have been delaying offering the service to the cross streets. I am currently using a wireless ISP, and stopped using ADSL which had become very poor. I loathe TWC, especially as you can be down for a week before a technician will come to fix it. TWC is one of those services that bundle undesired products such as Sports and make you pay for them.

We won't have decent service until internet is recognised as a common carrier like phone service and supervised by the government.

Game of Thrones written on brutal medieval word processor and OS

Sandra Greer

Re: I'm guessing his novels/scripts have never been hacked and leaked

I'm so glad you said that. What was better in Word Perfect was the reveal codes so you could fix the horrible things the software did to formatting. That is, if you needed formatting at all. The weird stuff Word does to lists and numbering drove me nuts. Plus once you got used to reveal codes, HTML was a piece of cake.

Is tech the preserve of the young able-bodied? Let's talk over a fine dinner and claret

Sandra Greer

Tech Artistes from Hell

My vision isn't all that bad, but I can't read anything on a black background and just barely on a red background. I generally don't even try to read anything on a variegated background either; there was a fad about 15 years ago for printing (paper publications) black (or white) text over pictures, which I found unreadable, and this continues to be a fad on the computer. Light blue text (and grey text) I just skip. I dearly love Skeptical Raptor but he just redesigned his site to use light blue links, which drives me nuts.

At least there is much less Flash animation and fewer slide shows at the top. I canceled many visits to avoid those.

I went for Google at the beginning because of its simple and readable design, and have avoided "portals" ever since. Banking and insurance sites in the US are pretty bad because they have tended to develop for IE, which looks terrible on a Mac. There are lots of sites with operational errors that put off people with less experience than I have. Unfortunately this leads to "Sandy, could you do this for me please?" and long sessions with horrible menus.

And even my lovely iPad betrays me, even with a stylus. My tiny fingers are not tiny enough. There is also no way to point directly to a place in the middle of a word to fix an error.

So if they really want everybody to use their UIs, they need to design them around real people.

Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS

Sandra Greer

Twitter is for the birds

I actually used it for a time when following some nesting owls on bird cams - the discussion was carried out on Twitter. I haven't used it since then, although I have probably been zombie following a couple of science sites (too much bother to check it out as it flows by like a river of sewage).

The gift of Grace: COBOL's odyssey from Vietnam to the Square Mile

Sandra Greer

The glory of COBOL

What I missed about COBOL is the fact that if you needed to read a dump, the data would be there as laid out in the program. Sometimes you just wanted to see what was there when the thing blew up. And if you ordered a PMAP you could see the procedures also. This was very useful, believe it or not. I still remember two striking bugs that I will not bore you with.

It was quite a shock to me to find that PL/I did not lay out storage the same way.

Sandra Greer

Coding on paper

Some of us coded in red or blue ink. Not only was it good discipline, the keypunchers could read it more easily than pencil, so we got fewer errors. Then we read the cards, of course, before submitting them for compile. The idea was to get it to run the first time without compilation errors, and preferably correctly.

Also, we all had copies of punched cards showing all the default stuff, and when more than one program needed the same file structures, copies of those as well. We did not have to recode all that. Of course, later there were copy libraries, but that had to wait until we were using terminals rather than cards.

BuzzGasm: 9 Incredible Things You Never Knew About PLIERS!

Sandra Greer

Mole grips

I had to look this one up -- we call them Vise Grips generally in the US. They really are great, especially for inappropriate purposes like turning a nut for which you do not have the right size fixed wrench.

Putin to battle Snowden for Nobel Peace Prize

Sandra Greer


It is definitely time for a woman of great courage. No snark intended. I could never have done what she did, and neither could you, any of you.

RSA booked TV's Stephen Colbert to give the final speech. This is what happened next

Sandra Greer

Re: Steven Colbert at RSA ..

Too bad he was speaking in Klingon. Was that a sound system? Or encrypted stream?

Friends don't do tech support for friends running Windows XP

Sandra Greer

Friends don't let friends drive Windows

I have been advising friends, especially those writing a dissertation, to get a Mac. No complaints, once they come up with the money.

Yahoo! Mail users see crying baby who says firm is 'over capacity'

Sandra Greer

Longtime user

Yahoo Mail has actually been good for many years. Their Spam Filter was way ahead of everyone else's. Lately, though, the server has been down about once a week, and today it was redirecting to edit.yahoo.com, which isn't anywhere. It has also been really slow. Like never opening a folder, sometimes forgetting to open an email. I have not seen the crying baby, though.

Worth every cent I have paid for it, must say.

I have moved the heavy stuff to GMail, and am leaving the political requests for money, cartoons, etc on Yahoo.

Feminist Software Foundation gets grumpy with GitHub … or does it?

Sandra Greer

Read the blog - quite interesting

There is a lot of academic jargon, of course, which is the way computer science and everything else has gone for the last 30 years or so.


Microsoft fears XP could cause Indian BANKOCALYPSE

Sandra Greer

Re: Running scared Y2K

IBM didn't do all the work for mainframe systems. Every big bank and insurance company set up a group to go through all their mainframe code and identify date error potential (and get it fixed). One common error besides the 2-digit date (which most of us had coded for) was the fact that 2000 was NOT a leap year -- an exception. We used scan packages to find mentions of dates, but each hit had to be reviewed by a human. Followed by changed and tested, of course.

I also got to write scan code for the non-COBOL systems. That was a lot of fun. Most of them were written in C and would be OK until the date overflowed in 2036 (if I remember correctly), but there were also a lot of STRUCT definitions that were dodgy. There are tons of other languages used by various systems, and lots of screen scraping. A fun time was had by all. Any problems found were referred to the system owners.

The management of this enormous mess was also a challenge. When the final hours came, I was there in the secret control centre with top management, running Lotus Domino servers and taking reports from all over the globe. It was exciting, and nothing very terrible happened.

Windows 8.1: Read this BEFORE updating - especially you, IT admins

Sandra Greer

Re: who are not in the US, UK or South Korea

I am in a major metro area (Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY) where somehow Verizon have thus far refused to install FIOS. I had ADSL until recently, which is not remotely broadband. I had originally installed it to do remote server maintenance. I replaced it with wireless from CLEAR. I did not want to go with my cable TV provider because I can't afford to be without internet for a week or two, waiting for the cable guy.

The wireless is four times faster than the ADSL, and only $10 a month more. Still, a good-sized download can take a while. We are currently all Mac here. An iPad update can take from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on what else is running, of course. It works best if I turn off the ATT connection and just use my wireless LAN connected to CLEAR.

Turkish TV presenter canned for flashing too much cleavage

Sandra Greer


Most Jews spent some time in various places, including Europe, but they originated right there in Israel. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semitic_people

Be prepared... to give heathens a badge: UK Scouts open doors to unbelievers

Sandra Greer

Russia land of religious freedom

Yeah yeah yeah, now that the old Orthodox church is back in business, you can go to jail for blasphemy and for discussing homosexuality in public. Previously, Jewish citizens' papers were marked "Zhid" -- I wonder if they still are! It wasn't atheism that made Stalin what he was, it was Stalin. The habit of absolute belief made it easier for him to rule, is all.

Women in IT: ‘If you want to be taken seriously, dress like a man’

Sandra Greer


At one time, for my sins, I did some visiting tech support at mostly Orthodox Jewish firms. I wore my Yentl outfit, consisting of an ankle-length skirt, tights, and a long-sleeved blouse. It was fine for crawling under desks, actually. Of course anything shorter would have been much less appropriate.

Sandra Greer

Never had a female applicant?

You might want to check the way you recruit or indicate willingness to hire. Also, ask your staff if they know any females who might be interested. Your channel may be restricted!

British spooks seize tech from Snowden journo's boyfriend at airport

Sandra Greer

Re: Voting power? 'fraid not

What we have in the U.S. is get-out-the-vote efforts by the lunatics, such as the "Teabaggers". If all the sane people declined voting, we would have an even more insane government than we have now. It would resemble Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood.

Tablets? Check. Mobes? Check. What's next, Apple? Fondlable CARS

Sandra Greer

Re: @ Evil Auditor - Usability

I have a,1996 Honda Civic, the last one available with cranked windows, a key lock, and a manual boot lock release. That's a lot fewer electronic gizmos to go bad, as in various rental cars I have experienced. I truly dread replacing it with these all-electronic wonders. I am an IT pro, but certain things don't belong in a car.

Microsoft's murder most foul: TechNet is dead

Sandra Greer
Thumb Up

Not Outlook

I am retired now, but at my last job, my boss migrated our Outlook to a Google Mail service, which seems to do a lot for us, and we no longer need an Exchange server -- all good.

Apple: iOS7 dayglo Barbie makeover is UNFINISHED - report

Sandra Greer

What are they thinking?

If you have watched any commercial TV lately, you have seen Microsoft's ads for its fondleslab. The colours used are the same garish ones in this preliminary sketch. The icons shown contain more garish flat colour and less information. The current ones contain more muted colours and also use black or dark tones to give much better contrast. I am one of those complainers who hate white type on bright backgrounds, and require contrast. I also hate gumdrop colours. I am a female Apple fan, but this sure is a downer.

Girls, beer and C++: How to choose the right Comp-Sci degree for you

Sandra Greer

Re: Can somebody clarify...

In American English, the more women enter a career, the less the average pay available. This has two phases:

1) when a woman is hired, she is paid less, thus bringing down the average

2) subsequently, the offered wage is reduced because women can be hired for that, so men in phase 2 will have to accept it.

This is entirely against the law, but exactly who is going to bell that cat?

Sandra Greer

Re: "This weird new software was Unix"

I was working at that weird phone company -- actually at AT&T, and Bell Labs sent over a release of it to trial. This had to be around 1977 - 1980. I picked up the trial because nobody else had time to do it. It was a mind altering experience, especially as it was the first time I had tried to learn from nothing but sparse documentation (man pages!) I mostly used the shell, not C.

I was mostly involved with mainframes, though, and spent the next 25 years or so in a mix of languages. What I learned from my couple of years in Unix was a great help throughout. Now that I am retired, Linux has taken over.

Climate change forces women into prostitution - US politicians

Sandra Greer

Re: More Fantasy

Obviously a right-wing nut. My coastal city went underwater first time ever with the superstorm. There is hardly ever snow here in New York City. The polar bears are being driven out and their populations are shrinking. We have a combination of drought and flood which has been wiping out our farmers, who are selling off their meat animals earlier than usual. Spring is definitely coming earlier, based on when various plants are flowering.

There is global warming. Whether man-made or not.

Sandra Greer

Re: transactional

Yeah, the kind that lacks "commitment".

Sandra Greer

Re: Half a dozen of one, but only six of the other. @Eguro @Eddy Ito

Actually I am rather glad you took the trouble to quote from the document presented by the Democrats:

'"Whereas the ability of women to adapt to climate change is constrained by a lack of economic freedoms, property and inheritance rights, as well as access to financial resources, education, family planning and reproductive health, and new tools, equipment, and technology;"'

Translated into English, this reads "Since women are in general poorer and even more oppressed than men in their cohort, and less likely than men to be able to bash their neighbours on the head when resources are short ... they (and children) will need additional support in the face of climate change."

The "Forces Women Into Prostitution" headline is just to draw attention.

How much will Google pay to bring fiber to Provo, Utah? Try $1

Sandra Greer
Thumb Down

When will they come to Brooklyn?

Where I live, in high-tech Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY, we don't have Verizon FIOS yet and I don't know when we will. We have crappy Time Warner cable. I have been using ADSL for nearly 10 years. Anybody remember what that is?

Game designer spills beans on chubby-fancying chap with his stolen Mac

Sandra Greer

Plod these days

Anyone know if it is better or worse since Thatcher? I'm a Merkin and have been wondering.


Sandra Greer
IT Angle

Re: Lip Smacking eh?

Yes, they sit on their construction sites having lunch and do that. Never noticed the ladies liked it though.

Website which 'could have prevented Rwandan genocide' goes live

Sandra Greer

Epidemiology of violence

I think the idea behind this is to build some analytics around the use of hate terms. This database would be used as a reference base for the analytics.

US CDC have used terms around illness to track cases of flu via Google queries and Twitter messages. Using this tool to locate virulent hate outbreaks could be useful. At the moment, in the US, there are trends around American Nazis, KKK, gun nut paranoids, and any number of historically minor hate groups. Excessive activity could be indicative of possible threats.

Tax man to take a bite of tech employees' free meals?

Sandra Greer

Keeping the techs on campus

I once worked at a large telecommunications company as a rent-a-programmer. We were quartered in a warehouse about a half mile from nowhere in New Jersey. They served (well, left for us in the printer room) free Danish and coffee. This was clearly to prevent us from going on a break with our cars. That is entirely for the convenience of the employer.

Locating one's data center in the back of beyond is a strategy for 1) getting cheap land to build on, and 2) making it likely that your staff will never take a substantial break or meal, but will work right through.

Taxing us for the break room would have been just the worst.

By the way, in the US the employer's contribution to health insurance and other benefits is tax free. The IRS is looking into a way to make it taxable, of course. Right now it is only taxable to the gay spouse!

Hold on! Degrees for all doesn't mean great jobs for all, say profs

Sandra Greer

Re: Student Grant

The US took a similar route, with similar results.

But there is a hint of the decline of capitalism here, with "growth" in markets believed to be the only way to solvency. However, growth in the population of workers leads to a glut, qualified or not. The result is a poorer populace, thus less demand, thus a shrinking market. Resulting in less demand for workers, etc.

Any system that requires unbounded growth to work is a Ponzi scheme in sheep's clothing.

Sandra Greer

Re: Is a degree worth the paper it is written on?

A lot of this is simply discrimination against older applicants. HR departments are full of flimsy minds with crap educations, but one thing they know how to do is get the cheapest person for the job.

One-time wannabe governor charged for Facebook share Ponzi scheme

Sandra Greer

What kind of politician?

From Wikipedia:

"Craig Berkman (born about 1943) is a longtime venture capitalist and was an influential Republican politician in the U.S. state of Oregon. "

This means more to Americans, but sort of like Conservative politicians.

Insourced staff paid a pittance but don't want to leave

Sandra Greer

Re: Funny..

The company has to pay more to torture the techs at the outsource firm. The actual techs don't get the extra pay anyway -- it goes to management, who torture the techs.

I was a consultant for years, the kind who is a permanent employee of a consulting company. The employing company paid extra for superior tech knowledge and the ability to drive us nuts; plus markup for profit, of course. We also told their management the truth rather than sucking up. We always knew we would be out of there at some finite future point, leaving them stewing in it.

Ironically, most of this type of consulting is gone, outsourced to India. I was there when the flags came down.

What Compsci textbooks don't tell you: Real world code sucks

Sandra Greer

Write the comment first

Since I started programming in the days of the dinosaurs, I have found it useful to write down what I was trying to do BEFORE writing any code. I still do that, even in SQL. Changing the comment is automatic if a commented line of code is changing. That seldom happens, though. Generally a whole function is being extended in some way. So the description of how it works would require some thought. Essentially, the specification is contained in the code. It doesn't take up that much space! Adding my name and a date helps other team members keep track of what changes correspond to user requests.

Of course it helps that I think in English, and my first programming language was COBOL. There was an invalid assumption in those days that COBOL was self documenting. The people who taught me never let us get away with that.

Democratic congresswomen 'less feminine in appearance' than Republicans

Sandra Greer

More about ethnicity?

The Republicans feature more WASPy (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) people of both genders. I suspect they are considered prettier and more feminine by everyone (possibly unconsciously) than the more varied ethnic groups represented in the Democratic party.

Chess algorithm written by Alan Turing goes up against Kasparov

Sandra Greer

We are not all as smart as you are

Back in the day, we had COBOL, and sometimes CICS, and frequently a database -- or not. We also had teams. The best results came from communicating to the end users and the team members in some sort of common language. We used flow charts, pseudocode, and sometimes a sort of graphic prototype for screen flow. We also used something we called structured programming, which is more natural to the modern programming languages, starting with PL/1.

The prototype, if any, was contained in the structured program, in which control passed to PERFORMs, also known as subroutines. The comments at the beginning of each set of paragraphs in the PERFORM would be the statement of what it was supposed to do. While writing this non-code, we discovered errors in thinking and design.

We could do this as a group, because there were also CALLed programs, with parameters. The design team could say up front what should be in the program, and define its inputs and outputs. Common data definitions were put into the same sort of INCLUDE libraries used today.

There would have been no point in writing all this in the target language, COBOL (and sometimes assembly language). It isn't self-documenting, despite claims. Using and maintaining the comments, taken from pseudocode, was a best practice that lived on in some form through C and possibly Java. Anything larger than a single algorithm (e.g., an operating system, a compiler), requiring teamwork over a period of time, needs this thoughtful design phase. Even if, like Linus Torvalds, you ended up writing it all yourself.

Why do women pick IT as a career ?

Sandra Greer

Still in IT

When I started in IT, back in the mainframe days, it was pretty hard to get a job in IT at all, and there was lots of discrimination against women in all jobs (as well as against blacks, gays, and anyone who looked different). I was soon recruited by a consulting firm, whose owner realised that women were a great overlooked resource, so we actively recruited them. I have a feeling we were also paid less than the men, but it would be hard to prove. It's just the way it was in those days.

Women stayed, and got promotions. At some point male sales reps went out of fashion, so they were almost all replaced with what I called sales clones, attractive and bright young women.

Computer science meanwhile was starting to be important, and was somewhat less attractive to women than to men. Previously, programmers learned on the job, mostly. The women were frequently mathematicians, while the men were frequently recruited from accounting and the mail room, where the early tab equipment lived. I went back to school at one point, first in computer science, then transferring after a year to the MBA program, where I learned things I had never encountered in college. I had found the computer science curriculum overly academic and boring; my MBA was in Operations Research, which is applied mathematics.

I'll be retiring next year at age 71. IT has been good to me, but I don't recommend it now, as the opportunities seem to have shrunk over the years. Possibly today's women have realised that, and are fleeing to areas where they can find growth.

Raspberry Pi IN THE SKY: Wallet-sized PC is disaster drone brain

Sandra Greer
Thumb Up


I wish I were much younger and much smarter. Maybe this will inspire the young and smart to create good stuff like this instead of going into finance.

Bradley Manning in court as lawyers wrestle over secret docs

Sandra Greer

Manning is a hero

It's hard to get anyone to expose the stupid and evil things done by our government. They know the full force of the wounded bulls will be all over them. Private Manning is a brave man. He apparently knew that what he was giving to the world would improve things somehow, by exposing stupidity and venality. He most likely had no intention of damaging our real security (and probably hasn't). Most whistle-blowers are accused of doing serious damage to something or other. (That's what they used to say about hackers who exposed vulnerabilities.) Generally it's a lie. Kind of like the damage done by some kid sharing a file.

So seriously, the leaks threatened the lives of informers in Afghanistan? If so, the leaks are still up there -- show us!

Ballmer says 500 MILLION 'users' to 'have' Windows 8 in 2013

Sandra Greer

Didn't there used to be a rule?

Don't use even-numbered releases of anything? I vaguely remember that it was true a long time ago, even before M$FT.

Sandra Greer


Yeah, once in a LONG while I fetch it to see the weather app, translate a foreign word, or use calc, if I happen to be sitting at the Mac. I mostly use the apps on my iPad for those, though.

Airport screener stuffs stolen iPad into (own) trousers

Sandra Greer
IT Angle

The terrorists have definitely won

They have got us all at each others' throats. They have poorly educated recruits from the criminal classes patting down little old ladies and treating our external hearing aids as if they might be bombs.

They win! No more flying vacations. Driving to Cape Cod is going to be the extent of my vacation plans. I only have to watch out for poorly educated recruits from the criminal classes driving trucks and SUVs on the interstate highways.

Unemployment rate inches up in the US

Sandra Greer

Second Great Depression

When we studied the Great Depression in school, nobody could explain how it happened. Like, why did there all of a sudden stop being employment for so many people? It was like explaining how a guy could be alive and then suddenly dead. What left him?

What President Roosevelt (FDR) did was try to employ as many people as possible in government jobs under programs like WPA. It wasn't enough, though. The way the depression ended was with Extreme Government Employment, also known as World War II. There was so much employment available that they had to hire WOMEN (imagine that!).

Throughout, the Republicans hated FDR and referred to him as "that man in the White House", with "man" probably a euphemism.

Murdoch & Co unveil iPad news rag The Daily

Sandra Greer

In the United States

We have enough idiots who will love this. It is once again embarrassing to be a Yank. They want to repeal our poor substitute for NHS. But -- do they buy iPads?

Extension of flexibility 'may help solve retirement problems'

Sandra Greer

Translation into Amurikan

We used to have Defined Benefit (pensions) from employers. They were supposed to be putting money aside and investing it for the benefit of the employees.

What happened is that the value of the investments went up a lot during the bubble, so the employers neglected to add any money to the pot. When investment went tits-up, so did pensions.

They changed it to Defined Contribution (401 K). That's the equivalent of "money purchase pensions". When they went tits-up, so did this type of pension. All we have left is Social Security, and that is being threatened all the time.

Your Ponzi Scheme on the hoof! Anything that depends on the ever-expanding good will of the market is doomed by maths.

Your conclusion remains totally correct. "The workers carry all the risks, the spivs get all the bonuses. Nice."