* Posts by Number6

2281 publicly visible posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Twitter says it may harvest biometric, employment data from its addicts


Nearly time to leave

I still have my Twitter account, mainly because to delete it requires effort on my part, so it sits there, occupying some of his hard disk space. As soon as he requires some of my cash or some of my data to keep using it, I'll finally cross the threshold and dump the account, assuming he doesn't dump it first.


You're assuming there is a bottom? Turtles all the way down...

80% of execs regret calling employees back to the office


For a while I had a commute that could be as bad as 1.5 hours each way due to my employer moving location. After the first week I started looking for a new job. Now I have a fully remote job with a commute down the stairs each morning, and even before that I had rough limits on how far I was prepared to commute based on known typical traffic conditions.

Cross-country driving with almost zero traffic is fun. Going through busy areas is a lot less so.

Google launches $99 a night Hotel Mountain View for hybrid workers


Google probably has more interest in getting people back to the office than a lot of companies, given how large an office footprint they have in the Bay Area. There's still that large area by Diridon Station in San Jose that they bought up for redevelopment into another huge campus (albeit right next to a major public transport hub), will be interesting to see how that fares.

How to get a computer get stuck in a lift? Ask an 'illegal engineer'


Re: Not a lift but…..

I "helped" one once - broadside across the river, blocking my path, so I just shouted for everyone to keep hands inside the punts, and to brace for impact, and ran the front of my punt into his, which turned him parallel with the bank and got him out of my way. Then I retrieved his quant and brought it back to him (lack of if was partly why he was stuck). I miss punting.


Re: Not a lift but…..

I learned early on, fortunately by observation, that when faced with the choice, it is better to let go of the pole than the punt. I think I only lost the pole once, and it was on a deserted stretch of the Cam so only the other occupant of the punt was witness. I'd gotten the thing to move quite fast and the pole hit a patch of sticky silt on the bottom and resisted just long enough that I had to make the call.

As for the chaos on the Backs, I remember following one of the "professionals" (as in they got paid to do it and generally knew what they were doing) as she approached a mass of punts all over the place and managed to keep about 10ft behind as she threaded a path through the mess and we both emerged unscathed out the other side with our passengers.


I had a 5Si once. Bought it for £250 used. Had to refurbish some of the rollers, but it had the duplex unit and the 2000 sheet feeder. Built to last, it was. Unfortunately I had to part company with it when I moved from somewhere with proper electricity at 50Hz to somewhere else because as far as I could tell, I'd have to swap out some parts to work at 60Hz. I vaguely remember being able to lift the printer off the sheet feeder, although because it was high up, it was easier to pick up than if it started on the floor. I was younger and fitter back then, too, although I can still lift 100lb if I'm careful.

Google Street View car careens into creek after 100mph cop chase


Re: For readers outsie the US

I've not seen anything faster than 70 MPH in California, but like in the UK, you're unlucky to get pulled for less than 80 unless you're doing something else daft. I-80 through Utah is 80MPH but they'll pull you for even a hair over that. A lot of the big western states typically have 70 or 75 limits on interstates. Montana was "Reasonable and prudent", don't know if it still is.


Re: Florida driving license

Generally, emergency vehicles don't just blow through intersections, in the dark or otherwise, except in movies. They usually slow right down and check for idiots before proceeding, especially if they don't have a green light. Otherwise you can be sure that Murphy will make sure they do meet one of those idiots.

Soft-reboot in systemd 254 sounds a lot like Windows' Fast Startup


Re: Hmmm

Having done a clean install of Mint 21.2 this past weekend, I note that /bin is a link to /usr/bin, /sbin to /usr/sbin, and a bunch of /libxx are now links to /usr/libxx. I guess that's a half-way house, lets things run from one place for stuff that wants to, but provides a catch-all for legacy software looking elsewhere. I notice a lot of scripts still have #! /bin/sh at the top.

Mint 21.2 is desktop Linux without the faff


Re: Another

I compromised, I have /usr mounted on a 64GB SSD (it's a few years old now) and everything else on a big spinny disk. The other thing I discovered is that a lot of modern HDDs use SMR encoding and last time I changed disk and ended up with one of those, things got noticeably slower. This weekend I dumped that disk for a CMR type and things are suddenly a lot faster again. CMR costs more but not that much.

for those who've not met the acronyms yet: Conventional Magnetic Recording (CMR) drives write data on a hard disk in tracks that do not overlap. Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) allows tracks to overlap, which results in higher data densities, but slower read and write times compared to CMR drives.

You don't want SMR drives in your NAS box or on servers.


I like Mint, been using it for quite a few years now. A bit of a hiccup when they dropped KDE support, but now I just install the XFCE version and then add KDE on top for desktop machines (laptops I tend to leave with XFCE). Takes a bit longer, but still pretty painless. I just did a clean install onto a new hard disk this weekend on one machine, and managed to copy most of the settings from the old disk.

I think the only quibble I have with the installer is that it won't let me easily do custom LVM partitions - I can have a clean install with two, but the custom partition option didn't seem to have a way of building up LVM so I had to do it manually in a terminal window and then run the installer.

Clingy Virgin Media won't let us leave, customers complain


"I'm moving to a different country" worked pretty well when I cancelled. It was true, too.

The other one I've heard is to tell the rep, assuming you can get through to one, that you're going to jail next week and won't be needing the service for some time.

Clippy designer was too embarrassed to include him in his portfolio


Clippy was a really annoying feature, but he deserves his place in history, provided he remains there.

Duelling techies debugged printer by testing the strength of electric shocks


Unless there's smoke, it always starts as a software problem, if only because a lot of stuff is now so complex that you need the software to drive the hardware to demonstrate which bit of the hardware is the problem.

Apple's outsourced Lightning cable plant in India goes up in flames


Re: Link?

More likely the I'm Alright Jack.

Signal says it'll shut down in UK if Online Safety Bill approved


Re: Bypass This Encryption!!

Trivial stuff. Now, double ROT-13 is way more challenging.

By order of Canonical: Official Ubuntu flavors must stop including Flatpak by default


Re: future of apt on Ubuntu?

Isn't this pretty much what an AppImage is? A complete run-time environment for an application.

Longstanding bug in Linux kernel floppy handling fixed


I still have a machine with floppy drives on it. I don't remember where I picked up the drive unit, but it's a single half-height 5.25" form factor and has both a 5.25" 1.2M and a 3.5" 1.44MB floppy in it. As far as I know it still works, although I've not inserted a 3D model of a save icon in there for some time. There's probably a 3.5" USB drive somewhere on the shelf too, as well as a Zip drive.

For good measure I have a BBC Micro B (modified a bit) with dual floppies, although probably no original media to use with them.

Two signs in the comms cabinet said 'Do not unplug'. Guess what happened


Re: Don't forget mischief

I don't care what the signs say, I look both ways. Just because traffic is only supposed to be coming from one direction, doesn't mean it will always be the case. I speak from experience, having nearly been taken out on a one-way street by a van which had done a U-turn and come back the wrong way.

UK bans Chinese CCTV cameras on 'sensitive' government sites



I have a bunch of stuff on my network that is blocked from talking to the outside world and is set up to talk to a local server. I know that can be circumvented by various means, but it adds an extra layer for someone to get through.

When it comes to routers and other stuff, I tend to buy equipment that will work with OpenWRT and replace the on-board software with that. Perhaps a half-way house for those who are concerned but not ultra-secure, is for an open-source camera software effort along the same lines, where we could still buy the decent hardware and reprogram it. Always assuming the hole isn't in the bootloader, of course.

Nvidia faces lawsuit for melting RTX 4090 cables as AMD has a laugh


I am somewhat shocked that the GPU is pulling 450W. Admittedly I'm not a hardcore gamer, my system is running quite happily with a GTX750 board, but then the entire machine of similar age. The UPS thinks the entire system, including monitors, is pulling about 100W as I type this.


I would think that preventing the batteries from overheating is way more important than the infotainment system. Just cut the power to that if things are critical.

Chinese researchers make car glide 35mm above ground in maglev test


The Shanghai Maglev is fun, I've used it a few times now. It's cheaper than a taxi from the airport into the city and a lot less scary. It finishes up at a Shanghai Metro station so if you plan in advance you can use that to continue your journey.

As for the car, the way to do that is to have a contoured field with two lines of magnets, one down each side, so there's enough field in the centre and moving to either side is a bit like climbing a hill, so the car will naturally stay in the magnetic depression.

NASA just weeks away from trying again with SLS Moon rocket launch


Of course, the real reason they postponed after the second attempt failed is because otherwise the moon was going to be full when the delayed rocket arrived.

Scientists use supercritical carbon dioxide to power the grid


The problem is that it is mixing two units, 10kW is the power provided, and just under 10kWH is the total energy, given the "nearly an hour" comment.

Yes, it's true: Hard drive failures creep up as disks age


I start getting nervous when I spot a drive over 5 years old (near-24/7 run-time so 43,000 hours or so. However, I've had one that didn't get replaced until something over 80,000 hours (9 years) and it was still functioning. I just replaced a couple that were around 75,000 hours and not showing signs of failure. I suspect my nervousness comes from earlier generations of drives and that newer models do last longer, plus have better monitoring to warn of impending failure.

NASA: Mars rocks won't make it back to Earth until 2033


A shame they are ditching the rovers, it was an interesting challenge to build a self-navigating robot to go find and collect samples and return them to the base station. NASA crowdfunded it a few years ago. It's a lot more challenging than one might think.


Engineers on the brink of extinction threaten entire tech ecosystems


The hidden cost of doing business in China is that for a new product with innovative features, it shortens the time before there's a cheap competitor. If they have to tear it down and reverse-engineer it to make a copy, that takes time, but if you've given them all the drawings, it's much easier.

Yes, I've seen it a couple of times with offshoring, once with an Indian company whose boards worked perfectly in our system and looked remarkably similar, and their EPROMS (yes, that old) were identical to an earlier version of ours apart from where they'd used a hex editor to put their name in instead of ours (good incentive to have a short company name). Turns out some years before the company looked to have the Indian company manufacture for them. The other one, more recent from China, was a subsystem in a competing product that was almost identical to ours. The killer there was that while all the mechanical parts had different part numbers on them, the PCB had our part number etched into the copper. The product was made for us in China.


I've had that, sponsorship with an agreement to stick around for a couple of years post-graduation. Gave me chance to learn the real world in an environment where I'd gotten to know people while a student and expected to make mistakes. Seemed perfectly reasonable to me, although a more recent variant regarding relocation expenses and a promise to stick around for a bit prompted me to push back and tell them to add in a line to say that it only applied if I left, not if they decided to make me redundant, in which case they could eat the cost. That's what real world experience gives you, the awareness of what can happen, and the confidence to insist on precautions.

On the other hand, I get a lot of recruiters wanting to talk to me, so I reckon the shortage is real. I always reckoned I'd have ten years before there was a surge of new people but it's been {mumble} years longer than that.

Disentangling the Debian derivatives: Which should you use?


Re: Devuan

Careful, you'll be telling us that Emacs is better than vi next.

FYI: BMW puts heated seats, other features behind paywall


Sounds like an excellent reason to stick to the used car market for now. OTOH, if it's a subscription service and the hardware fails, are they liable to fix it at their expense? That sort of turns it into an indefinitely renewable warranty.

China is trolling rare-earth miners online and the Pentagon isn't happy


There are certain states where such claims might have gained traction, but the ones that have oil and mined minerals as their main resources probably not so much. California would probably have been protesting, but not Texas.

Software-defined silicon is coming for telecom kit later this year


Re: Remote kill switch

That was my first thought. Having "bought" e-books which were then rendered inaccessible to me, I am wary of anything like this where something can be disabled without the 'owner' having any control over the matter.

RISC OS: 35-year-old original Arm operating system is alive and well


I think I've still got an Archimedes somewhere. If so, it's buried at the bottom of a box. I did find the BBC Micro, and that worked last time I plugged it in, but not powered up the Archimedes for at least ten years.

46 years after the UN proclaimed the right to join a union, Microsoft sort of agrees


Re: Why companies feel the need to setup and join trade and lobbying associations...

That sounds like the UK in the 1970s, where union leaders seemed more interested in their own political power than the interests of their workers. An awful lot of those workers voted for Maggie in 1979 because they were fed up with the state of things, and it is notable that the laws on union power and ballots and strikes has stayed pretty much intact since then and there is no real call to repeal any of it.

I'm lucky enough to have been in a career where I didn't need a union because switching job was always an option for me, but I can see that in certain sectors it's important that pay and conditions are monitored to prevent exploitation. Especially in the US, where you can be fired on the spot for no better reason than the boss got out of bed the wrong side this morning. Notice periods are a pain when you want to move on to your next job, but if the boot is on the other foot, it's a bit of a safety net that gives you chance to find another job. Paid leave, paid sick leave and other benefits also make the working experience more tolerable too, and they pretty much wouldn't have arrived without union pressure over the years.

Engineer sues Amazon for not covering work-from-home internet, electricity bills


Another thing to consider is that if you're working for 8 hours a day and you spend another two commuting, your effective hourly rate is reduced in proportion because you're getting paid for ten hours of your time rather than 8, unless your commute is such that you consider it useful time. I figure near-zero commute costs plus 90 minutes extra me time per day makes up for any additional expenses at home. However, I'm lucky enough to have the space and the equipment for working from home (my home workshop has pretty much the same facilities as I have at work), not everyone is in that position.

10x prices, year-long delays... Life as an electronics engineer in global chip shortage


Definitely an interesting time when it comes to designing stuff, even for prototypes. Had one board that was released to prototype fab, they came back and said they couldn't get one of the parts (which was ins stock a couple of days previously). Whirlwind overnight redesign of board to use a different part so we could get the boards built. Fortunately that part didn't go out of stock before they could purchase it.

How CAPTCHAs can cloak phishing URLs in emails


It comes back to my opinion that HTML email is in itself a security hazard. My system is set up to display plain text and considers the presence of HTML to incline it to bounce a message. Stick to plain text, people, you know it makes sense.

IT blamed after HR forgets to install sockets in new office


Re: Similar tale in a hospital

It's hard to spend money to make it all the way around the corners when there's an obvious way to cut them.


Re: Business as usual

I prefer the small companies because the "could you figure this out" can be a great way to learn stuff that would be someone else's job in a larger company, even if what you learn is just "the company is screwed, time to go look for a new job". A lot of start-ups are in this category, great places to work while they last, but inevitably they either fail, or get bought by a larger entity which starts the downhill slide. Even if they survive to grow on their own, they eventually get big enough and have to change operating procedures that they become the same thing.

Very large companies are definitely best avoided, they're often set up as a set of competing fiefdoms and you get casualties as they challenge each other for dominance.

Akamai's Linode buy: Good for enterprise, risky for others


Another Linode customer here, wondering how long it will be for the basic offerings to be ruined by excessive prices for bundling services I don't need. The purpose of a Linux machine in the cloud is that it is set up to do exactly what I want. I can install what I need, all I need from the hosting provider is a reliable platform on which to run the code of my choice and a way to access it (the ssh console is nice) if I screw up.

I really hope that Akami is sensible enough to leave the basic Linode offerings alone. The price/performance is ideal for those of us who are not making money from what we have in the cloud, and so don't have much of a budget to pay for increases in cost.

HMRC: UK techies' IR35 tax appeals could take years


What it needs is a way of getting compensation awarded from HMRC for lost income due to having to wait for the appeal to work its way through the system. That would speed things up a bit, if they ran the risk of having to give some of it back. Of course, the law is written to avoid that happening.

50 lines of Bash to bring a Wordle fan out of their shell


Re: Quit vim

I remember opening another terminal, finding the PID and killing it that way. Then I learned the easy way.

Snap continues to make a spectacle of itself as it tries to trademark the word spectacles


Beer goggles?

MySQL a 'pretty poor database' says departing Oracle engineer


Re: There is no reason not to choose Postgres

If only MS had done that with its Windows developers...

Tech Bro CEO lays off 900 people in Zoom call and makes himself the victim


Re: Hmm ...

Also when you get a clueless US boss who suddenly discovers he can't just fire a bunch of people in the UK, that he has to go through a 30 or 90 day consultation period first, even if his hit list is unchanged at the end of it. Then there's redundancy pay and, especially if the UK bosses are on the side of the workers, pay in lieu of notice to add to it.

Yes, you can fire people but there's some cost to it, which has to be weighed against the cost of not firing them.


I do remember attending one of two meetings (in the days when we were all in the same building) and being told that while we were OK, the other lot were getting some bad news.

I remember getting an email from the CEO once asking if I was in the office that day (I was working from home as per an existing arrangement). Ended up talking to him on the phone to discover that due to a funding crunch (a peril present in start-ups) I was one of a bunch of people being let go that day. My immediate boss was also on the list. I went in one day the following week to pick up my stuff and wish the survivors luck. I was already looking for a new job, but it's way better if you can do that while still getting paid.


Re: staying in contracting from now on.

I wouldn't knowingly be employed by you either. It's often said that people don't quit jobs, they quit managers. You sound like one of those, it's perfectly possible to be in management and be polite and respectful to employees, it's the difference between being a leader and a boss.

China's Yutu rover spots 'mysterious hut' on far side of the Moon


Perhaps it's the bookstore where they've got Fly Fishing by J.R.Hartley in stock.