* Posts by disgruntled yank

1958 publicly visible posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Identity thieves can hunt us for 'rest of our lives,' claims suit after university data leak

disgruntled yank


It used to be that the first three digits of an SSN indicated the office, or anyway region, that issued it. Once, when I wished to see whether we had any SSNs masquerading as properly meaningless IDs, I searched a dataset for IDs that a) were nine digits long, b) began with the same three digits as mine, and c) belonged to an Ohioan. Of course there was one organization that hadn't got the word.

This style of issuance may have changed since--I got my Social Security card sixty years ago--but it does reduced the search space.

Meta threatens to pull all news from California rather than pay El Reg a penny

disgruntled yank

local journalism

From the eastern US, the LA Times looks a lot like local journalism.

Eating disorder non-profit pulls chatbot for emitting 'harmful advice'

disgruntled yank


If NEDA finds that it needs legal assistance, perhaps it could retain that lawyer whose GPT research bot gave him imaginary cases.

Kyndryl, IBM sued for age discrimination by former global software director

disgruntled yank

For your amusement

I have a small volume, A Business and Its Beliefs by Thomas J. Watson, Jr. At the time of writing, 1963, IBM had never laid off an employee. It makes for curious reading today.

Owner of 'magic spreadsheet' tried to stay in the Lotus position until forced to Excel

disgruntled yank

Old software

I hope that all installations of Word Perfect are gone from the legal department here, but I wouldn't care to bet money on it.

Python still has the strongest grip on developers

disgruntled yank


In "The End of History and the Last Programming Language", collected in Patterns of Software (https://dreamsongs.com/Files/PatternsOfSoftware.pdf), Richard Gabriel proposed among other points that


• Languages are accepted and evolve by a social process, not a technical or technological one.

• Successful languages must have modest or minimal computer resource requirements.

• Successful languages must have a simple performance model.

• Successful languages must not require users have 'mathematical sophistication.'


The essay was written about thirty years ago, when the "last programming language" was C. (As Francis Fukuyama has certainly noticed, and probably said, the End of History didn't end history.) It still is worth reading or re-reading.

I have seen the social process working: for about twenty years, I wrote scripts in Perl when I had the choice; over the last almost ten I have seldom done so. This is chiefly because the young, who will get to take over maintenance of my code all seem to know Python, and never seem to know Perl.

Shocks from a hairy jumper crashed a PC, but the boss wouldn't believe it

disgruntled yank

Just one question

I lived for some years in Denver, which is always dry and often cold, and was on the end of my static shocks. I wonder how the man with the sweater never noticed the static discharge.

Chromebook expiration date, repair issues 'bad for people and planet'

disgruntled yank

Re: Perceptions

In the US, such a question is likely to lead into very different diatribes--try an internet search for "San Francisco" and "high school mathematics".

Calculators are great, but an intuition for the rough size of the results is a useful check on them, or rather on the results of one's entry of the factors. Long ago I met a middle-school teacher who allowed her students to use calculators in class, but only if they periodically passed pencil-and-paper tests.

(I do from time to time roughly estimate the paint I need, add fractions, scale recipes. The only part of all this I dread is the prep work for the painting.)

US, NATO military plans leak: Actual war strategy or pro-Kremlin shenanigans?

disgruntled yank

Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

Alas, the US torpedo bombers at Midway were combat ineffective before they took off. The main purpose they served was to keep the Japanese Combat Air Patrol occupied shooting them down while the dive bombers approached.

Techie called out to customer ASAP, then: Do nothing

disgruntled yank

Yeah, well

In the mid-1980s, my employer sent me to Austin, Texas. Our installation there was waiting on something--I don't remember what, but it was not something I had with me or could supply. I had a very pleasant day and a half in Austin, I got along well with the customer's staff, who understood all this as well as I did, and as I recall did nothing especially useful. I think that the salesman was happy to have me there, to show that the company cared.

Smile! UK cops reckon they've ironed out gremlins with real-time facial recog

disgruntled yank


For those who have NY Times subscriptions, or can find a way around the paywall, I recommend https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/31/technology/facial-recognition-false-arrests.html . The man discussed in the article was arrested in Atlanta for theft in New Orleans, though he had never been there. He was released after six days in jail, but only because a lawyer retained by his family was able to demonstrate to the New Orleans police that the automatic match was not really a good one.

Version 100 of the MIT Lisp Machine software recovered

disgruntled yank

To quote Ken Thompson

"""Yeah, yeah. I knew all those guys. It thought it was a crazy job. I didn't think that Lisp was a unique enough language to warrant a machine. And I think I was proved right. All along I said, "You're crazy." The PDP-11's a great Lisp machine. The PDP-10's a great Lisp machine. There's no need to build a Lisp machine that's not faster. There was just no reason ever to build a Lisp machine. It was kind of stupid."

Interviewed in Coders at Work by Peter Seibel. A little above this, by the way, Thompson professes not to have read "Worse is Better" and goes on to say "I think MIT has always had an inferiority complex over UNIX."

Scientists speak their brains: Please don’t call us boffins

disgruntled yank

Re: Respect! Respect!

Some fellow in Oregon was put through the mill because he had identified himself as an engineer in communications (about traffic-light timing, I think), without having the proper piece of paper. But if you don't go signing off on building plans, most of the time you can call yourself an engineer without anyone objecting. I once held a job with the absurd title Technical Support Engineer.

disgruntled yank

Re: So they're saying there's a power imbalance?

Originally, a geek was someone who bit off chicken's heads at the circus sideshow. I suppose that it is only in the last half-century that it expanded to take in those imagined to be longer on tech skills than social skills or grooming.

And the odds are long that any American who speaks of boffins learned it from El Reg.

IT phone home: How to run up a $20K bill in two days and get away with it by blaming Cisco

disgruntled yank

Re: Mobile dongle and ISDN


A co-worker got some complaints about his international use of a phone, when as far as he knew he had not left the US. He had gone on a boat tour along the Detroit River, and there were spots where his phone connected to a Canadian cell rather than an American one. Our boss grumbled, but did approve the bill.

The Stonehenge of PC design, Xerox Alto, appeared 50 years ago this month

disgruntled yank

Re: Stonehenge?

What a difference a digit makes... My mistake.

disgruntled yank


Perhaps El Reg could treat us to an anniversary piece about the VAX 11/78, the Cahokia Mound of minicomputers.

Welcome to Muskville: Where the workers never leave

disgruntled yank

Re: Company Towns

Came here to say that. Link for those who don't know the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3I15_KUsOzs

Duelling techies debugged printer by testing the strength of electric shocks

disgruntled yank

one off

On my first tech job, doing support, we used often used serial cables that had been put together by guys working on another floor. That surprises me now, but I had no standard of comparison then. Once when I complained to one of them about a cable that didn't work, telling him just how the pin-out was wrong, he told me that it was only one pin off. The benefit of all the odd cables was that I got a fair bit of practice with breakout boxes.

Don't worry, that system's not actually active – oh, wait …

disgruntled yank

Re: Why would one ...

@J.G. Harston

A college acquaintance picked up the nickname Torch. He had come home somewhat intoxicated and thought that some bacon would be just the thing. It might well have been, only he passed out on the kitchen floor. When the neighbors smelled and saw smoke, they called the fire department. The Torch woke on his back in the snow, with a lot of flashing lights around him.

Service desk tech saved consultancy Capita from VPN meltdown, got a smack for it

disgruntled yank

Re: U

As they say in Boston, there is no U in harbor, but sometimes there is T.

Find pushes back birth of Europe's steel hardware to about 3,000 years ago

disgruntled yank


It seems to me that some philologists take one or two epithets attached to "iron" in Homer to mean steel. I don't know what sort of interpretive tradition might be behind that. But the Homeric epics were put together something around 2800 years ago, weren't they?

Ford seeks patent for cars that ditch you if payments missed

disgruntled yank

Prior art?

They used to be pretty good on breaking a few miles or days out of warranty.

Clumsy ships, one Chinese, sever submarine cables that connect Taiwanese islands

disgruntled yank

Re: Alert!

About 16 years before that, the US Navy, having destroyed the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay, then cut the cable to Hong Kong when the Spanish refused to let them use the telegraph.

If you have a fan, and want this company to stay in business, bring it to IT now

disgruntled yank

Re: air CON

I spent some years working for a government contractor in Washington, DC. We were in a narrow slice of a building, oriented north-south. The project manager had an office on the north side of the building, getting effectively no sunlight, the most technical staff had an office on the south side getting sunlight all day, and everyone else was in between. Since the project manager had the choice on thermostat settings, the techies had hot summers.

(And for a while everyone had a cold winter, until somebody noticed that hey, there was a LaserJet parked right under the thermostat.)

US defense forces no match for the unstoppable fiend known as Reply-All

disgruntled yank

Not just the military

A few years ago, NetApp had a reply-all storm. I'm pretty sure The Register wrote it up.

Zoox blurs line between workers and crash test dummies in robo-taxi trial

disgruntled yank


"Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans. Many a brave soul did it send hurrying down to Hades, and many a hero did it yield a prey to dogs and vultures"

The opening of Book I of the Iliad, as translated by Samuel Butler. (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3atext%3a1999.01.0217)

VMware turns 25 today: Is it a mature professional or headed back to Mom's house?

disgruntled yank

Centers of excellence

I would like to mention the excellence of their sales staff. About fifteen years ago, I was in a meeting in which the VMWare sales people were pitching their product. In response to a question, I said that we were using Product X. The VMWare staff exchanged glances, and one asked, "Product X? Are they still in business?". Had my boss not been in the meeting, this would just have been good clean fun, but he was susceptible to this kind of thing. It was a while before he was pacified, by learning that someone that he had to listen to was still using Product X.

Product X is gone. We do have VMWare, but I don't know for how much longer. Someone else, also susceptible, wants us off in the cloud.

What's up with IT, Doc? Rabbit hole reveals cause of outage

disgruntled yank

Re: Ouch

A neighbor's son took a rabbit along to college. His roommates made him take it home, because of its way of expelling a turd at each hop. Are British rabbits more trainable than America ones, or did the client just have a high tolerance for rabbit droppings?

Find My Kids app is basically AirTags for your offspring

disgruntled yank

Re: Bad move to know too much


Indeed--a sort of low level of kitchen-window surveillance that ensured that mischief stopped short of mayhem.

disgruntled yank

Re: Who on earth buys an Apple Watch?

Well, a fellow I work with, who as it happens has bought one for his daughter. He has an appetite for the bright and shiny, and apparently a wallet to sustain the appetite.

disgruntled yank

Re: I did not do latin in school.


Given that "pais" is Greek, I'm not sure how the Latin classes would have helped.

disgruntled yank

Re: But still


Been reading Philip Pullman, have you?

Activision Blizzard to pay out three days of annual profit to settle sex discrimination case

disgruntled yank


It sounds as if the persons actually affected by the bad behavior have already received compensation. It's not clear to me why the shareholders should collect also, and apparently it's not clear to the courts.

Bringing cakes into the office is killing your colleagues, says UK food watchdog boss

disgruntled yank

Re: Save applied cake science

Zeno's pair o' bites?

disgruntled yank

Re: What a load of cobblers

Did someone mention cobblers?


IBM top brass accused again of using mainframes to prop up Watson, cloud sales

disgruntled yank


OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. I can easily imagine OSHA opening cases against IBM, but as involving physical/chemical hazards or injuries to employees.

This can’t be a real bomb threat: You've called a modem, not a phone

disgruntled yank


About twenty years ago, I would now and then see unusually large numbers of office workers standing idly near an intersection in downtown Washington, DC. Eventually I read in the newspaper that they had been evacuated from a building because of bomb scares, and that the police had arrested two men. One worked in the building, and it was agreed between them that the other would call in a bomb scare on days that they wished to take an extended lunch break.

IBM shifts remaining US-based AIX dev jobs to India – source

disgruntled yank


Not really what I think of when I hear "big iron", but good for her!

Native Americans urge Apache Software Foundation to ditch name

disgruntled yank

Re: Oracle? Sun? Java?

It is broad-minded of the Seminoles, but it is also good business: FSU's football team makes a lot of money, and some of that money--probably not a large proportion, but enough to be useful--goes to the Seminoles.

In many cases the European traders/explorers/settlers used the term they first heard, which is to say that it was the term used by the tribe's neighbors, who were often enough the tribe's enemies. It is said that "Sioux" derives from an Ojibway word meaning "snake".

Lawyer mom barred from Rockettes show by facial recognition tech

disgruntled yank

While I'm here

I will note that the MSG is owned by James Dolan, who is an embarrassment even as American sports franchise owners go. One of the last times I heard of him, he had had a former star player for the Knicks removed from the venue in handcuffs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Oakley#Madison_Square_Garden_arrest.

(Note to those Over There who may be inclined to snicker at the team's name: the 19th Century writer Washington Irving invented an author named Diedrich Knickerbocker, a historian of New York. The term "Knickerbocker" was thereafter applied to residents of Manhattan, though the term dropped out of use well before my time.)

disgruntled yank

Re: Smells funny

So those nasty folks at the law firm got a bunch of innocent Girl Scouts to embarrass Madison Square Garden. Terrible people, they are.

Salesforce's new hires are less productive, says CEO Benioff

disgruntled yank


I can understand productivity of tech staff eventually leading to lower sales, but not quickly. And sales staff are not the people you want to keep in the office, are they?

In praise of MIDI, tech's hidden gift to humanity

disgruntled yank

Don Lewis

Last week, The New York Times ran an obituary of Don Lewis, any early pioneer of electronic interfaces to musical instruments: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/13/arts/music/don-lewis-dead.html

Corporate execs: Get back, get back, to the office where you once belonged

disgruntled yank

Re: pretending they like to work in the office

As Damon Runyon, "The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way they're betting it."

For what it's worth, the FBI homicide statistics for 2021 show dead girlfriends, 488; dead boyfriends, 223; dead wives, 308; dead husbands are not listed.

More men than women succeed at suicide because men are more practical in their choice of instruments: guns are very certain, pills are chancy. Women attempt suicide at somewhat higher rates, the last time I saw the numbers.

I think you should define "psychological violence". Is it what a less sophisticated age called "henpecking"?

disgruntled yank


Who's stopping you from wearing one?

disgruntled yank

Re: pretending they like to work in the office

I have worked little from home this year: the office is not far away.

In nearly all the couples I know--from work or otherwise--the man has at least a 20% advantage in weight, to say nothing of lean mass, and is visibly taller. I have worked with at least one woman that we sent to a shelter, but no men. I am aware that it happens, but I doubt it explains even one in a hundred cases of men going to the office.

Meanwhile, if you want to give the local cops a laugh, call in for a welfare check on me. Once they've seen me standing next to my wife, you can explain that there were no visible bruises, just my defensive habit of catching the bus downtown.

New research aims to analyze how widespread COBOL is

disgruntled yank

Open Mainframe Project

I have to love the name: Richard Stallman in a 1960s IBM salesman's suit.

Boss installed software from behind the Iron Curtain, techies ended up Putin things back together

disgruntled yank

No, in the BOFH version, it is the boss that ends up chopped into fragments.

RIP Fred 'Mythical Man-Month' Brooks: IBM guru of software project management

disgruntled yank

For further reading.

For those wishing to read more of the man's history in his own words, there is https://archive.computerhistory.org/resources/access/text/2012/11/102658255-05-01-acc.pdf .