* Posts by Billa Bong

159 publicly visible posts • joined 22 Jun 2009


Competitive techies almost bring distributed disaster upon themselves – and they didn't even find any aliens

Billa Bong

kill -1 -1 solves all...

As a student I did some naughty things. I'd occasionally remote into lab machines I knew probably wouldn't be used until the next tutorial and set them working on problems (I don't recall if it was SETI, but this outfit gave rewards). One day a tutorial was in there unexpectedly (probably rescheduled). Fortunately I happened to walk past the lab maybe 5 minutes into the class with a lot of confused people wondering why everything was running so slow.

I got to another computer room at a run, ssh'd to each machine and issued a kill -1 -1. Had it been any longer, the dispatched tech would have found me out very quickly... fortunately he was of the "oh, it seems to have solved itself - glad I could help" type; no root cause was done.

So... just 'Good' then? KFC pulls Finger Lickin' slogan while pandemic rumbles on

Billa Bong

It's just me then...

All this hate for KFC, but for me it's like CMOT Dibblers merchandise... At times, I can't get enough...

What does London's number 65 bus have to hide? OS caught on camera setting fire to '22,000 illegal file(s)!!'

Billa Bong

Market Leader in File Transfer missed stop by mass deletion

Fixed your title for you.

Or I could go with a "Data bus" example...

Firefox now defaults to DNS-over-HTTPS for US netizens and some are dischuffed about this

Billa Bong

Well, there goes home internet filtering

"Cloudflare argues that filtering and blocking traffic via DNS is a poor approach. "Application-specific controls such as browser extensions would be more effective since they can actually look into the URLs and selectively prevent content from being accessible," said Peter Wu, part of the Crypto Team at Cloudflare."

Seriously? A browser extension? Oh, that'll work really well... until 10 seconds after I've left my kids room, when it'll be disabled.

When customers see red, sometimes the obvious solution will only fan the flames

Billa Bong

Re: Dolt

In my role I have to play the "user" in some scenarios, and what gets me time and time again is support ops who ask if we can have a screen share session so that I can show them the problem even before doing _any_ investigation (assume PANIC position). Example: a site I maintain was pulling data from a database, which went down. Site starts throwing connection errors. I confirm the database is down in multiple ways from multiple locations and raise a ticket "the database is down". What do I get back? Please share your screen with us. I happily shared my screen with all the attempts laid out, arranged before the call started. I think my record in getting off a pointless "investigative" screen share is about 8 seconds :)

Devs slam Microsoft for injecting tech-support scam ads into their Windows Store apps

Billa Bong

Re: Their support team ... then suggest you open a paid for support contract

This made me laugh despondently too. Who's to say that the whole thing isn't perpetrated by Microsoft trying to drive up their own tech support rev.?

Heart Internet stops beating, starts Monday with big portion of FAIL

Billa Bong

SLA, anyone?

See my previous comments on Heart. My beef isn't with outages (though one has to wonder if they've heard of resiliency and failover at this point) but with the way they handle complaints on the topic. I'll give you a clue - the SLA on their web site isn't honoured by Support. Save yourself some hassle, and when it comes back up bypass Support and go straight to their retention team who will do the honourable thing to retain your business and offer you something.

I've been steadily moving my stuff to AWS since last months outage, it's just a minor kick in the teeth that *one* DNS server is still at heart, so I've had a couple of spurious calls this morning easily rectified with "refresh until it works".

Congrats from 123-Reg! You can now pay us an extra £6 or £12 a year for basically nothing

Billa Bong

Was on 123, moved to FreeParking, then to Heart Internet

Sadly, Heart Internet had a series of outages recently that left me concerned for the reliability of the platform, and worse still they flatly refused to honor the SLA published on their web site. Since I've just moved my VPS's over to AWS I'm now considering Amazon for my domain registrations...

Shakes on a plane: How dangerous is turbulence?

Billa Bong

Re: Cabin crew

I've been on a few flights with similar experiences (drinks down suits, etc.) but on one of the calmer flights I flew there was a little period of bumpiness where the crew were looking absolutely fine, as were (most of) the passengers. However, about 5 minutes after the bumps the lady looking after my section suddenly looked a little drained and took a break on the jump seat in front of me (exit row, first through US immigration...). She confessed to me quietly that she hates and fears turbulence, but hides it as best she can due to reflected fear...

Lesson to learn: The crew are humans with the same insecurities and fears as the rest of us. Sure, they face it more often but that doesn't necessarily make it any easier on them.

Since then I've not looked at them. Since quite a lot of turbulence that some would find uncomfortable is no worse than shutting your eyes as a passenger in a car going over bumpy road, I now just shut my eyes and imagine just that...

123-reg still hasn't restored customers' websites after mass deletion VPS snafu

Billa Bong

Re: Hmm...

"Whilst the 123-reg VPS product is an unmanaged service, we have committed a large number of resources to help restore services back to normal as quickly as possible"

You're more temperate than I would be (even though I moved away from 123-reg a long time ago due to this sort of attitude). I'd be spitting nails! It's almost, but not quite, saying "you know what, guys - we can run a script and delete all your data and we don't have to do anything about it. it's all down to you to recover. But we will do something about it, because we're good guys. Here's a video of a fluffy bunny eating a carrot to amuse you, which again, we didn't have to provide but we did because we're the good guys."

While I accept that customers not taking their own backup us a little foolish, it's bordering incompetent for a service provider to not provide service assurance through maintenance, period. They're doing the work which has risk, they should have a mitigation plan in place in case of error causing this sort of issue, else they need to make it very clear in terms of service that there is no guarantee at all of service delivery, which would turn most people with flourishing businesses away from them as a provider.

While I'm on the subject, and since you brought up marketing, do you think in a few days 123-reg will turn around and say "ha ha, no one was impacted at all, it was all a joke to get our company talked about", just like the rm -rf guy? Would anyone actually go to a company that pretended to be incompetent in order to get their name in the news? Personally, I wouldn't...

My devil-possessed smartphone tried to emasculate me

Billa Bong

I pushed out a standard phone system and phone model across the whole company (after consultation), where it would then be dead simple to do things like assign the soft key functions, standardize everything about the way it works.

Then users happened.

"Why can't we use our old phone [because I'm stuck in the past when rota-dial was cool]?"

"I used to be able to push this key sequence and it would do it for me [not realizing that a system that uses 999 as a shortcut to the conferencing system might not be a great plan...]"

"I never use that function, can't it be changed to this function instead [because although I'm the only person in the company that uses it I'm clearly more important]?"

"Why don't we use <latest fancy brand phone> [because I used it once and thought it looked nice]?"

Then it got even worse. Users were bringing in <insert name of any old phone> here and connecting it, expecting it to work off the bat. One office manager decided he didn't like something about the phone, so bought his whole office a new one and only after asked how to make them work.

Have I given users "that look"? Yes. Oh, yes, I have...

Hungryhouse resets thousands of customers' passwords

Billa Bong

Re: I never liked them anyway...

You pride yourself on have a personal relationship with your local takeaways, but have to google their numbers...?

A scalper makes something available that is not available from the official source at a heavily marked up price, which I think is inaccurate here...?

You call HungryHouse a scalper, but presumably you use Amazon for purchasing items from time to time where eventually you'll be buying through Amazon from a 3rd party; are they scalpers also...?

You don't have to use hungryhouse. Just keep the takeaway menus by your phone and dial them direct. No one is forcing you to use this service, nor post such a strange response to a technical article about proper online account security.

Kudos to HH for taking precautionary measures on behalf of any customers you have that may have recycled passwords, even if the communication to those customers seems to have left a little to be desired among them.

Hello? HELLO? Major Skype outage hits folk WORLDWIDE

Billa Bong


Web Skype works for me in firefox... not sure why anyone would want to fire up Edge just because Skype for Desktop is scuppered...

Sierra Nevada snow hasn't been this bad since 1500AD

Billa Bong

Re: Reg hack confused by science again

Is it getting a bit hot in here?

Look! Up in the sky! It's letters on a plane read with a 250MP camera

Billa Bong

Re: With what lens and what atmospheric conditions?

@Tom7, Clear, yes. Not distorted, no, possibly to the point of illegibility. Hey, maybe they could use images taken with this for captcha's.

URRGH! Evil app WATCHES YOU WATCHING PORN, snaps your grimace

Billa Bong

Re: A better headline...

Mug pic from smut flick, malware takes selfie selfie

Sharing Economy latest: Women's breast milk is the new 'liquid gold' of the internet

Billa Bong

Strict no photography rule at the factory. The after-tour shop had no such policy.

POO-bomber space station 'nauts swap orbiter for rural Kazakhstan

Billa Bong

Final comments

"Some cold water would be nice".

I can image him taking a sip and shout "This *doesn't* taste like piss!"

Freeparking web hosting services go TITSUP after migration

Billa Bong

Re: Three weeks without being able to send mail

Heartinternet gets a vote up from me. Massive range of services, sensible business structure, pricing isn't bad, support is good.

Billa Bong


Wow! It couldn't happen to a bigger bunch of cowboys. I ditched them after a terrible run of errors both technical and billing left me out of pocket (money and time), and the support channel seemed to be a single guy who couldn't find his <user input required>.

Changed provider, haven't had *any* issues that weren't resolved in a timely manner by a support team who actually understood basic terminology. If you want to know how *not* to run a host/domain registrar, look at FP.

Holy Zuck! Facebook fraud suspect VANISHES

Billa Bong

Has anyone thought...

of looking for him on Facebook? Everyone's on Facebook, right? Or, failing that, G+.

Boffins say Mars had ocean covering 20 per cent of planet

Billa Bong

Re: Where did it go?

More likely that it fell down the back of the sofa.

Euro ministers ditch plan to ban roaming charges

Billa Bong

Re: Oh well

I'm still on contract with O2 until September, but I have a PAYG sim on 3 to use when traveling. The difference is a tenth the cost or less.

O2 charge £6 per meg, max £40 but also max 50MB, 3 give you data roaming for £10 up to 250MB (or 1G for £15). Call costs are "as at home" on 3, including free for incoming, O2 is nothing short of piracy IMO.

Can't wait for September.

Sick of Chrome vs Firefox? Check out these 3 NEW browsers

Billa Bong

Re: El Reg readers would agree with this

Ok, well firstly it wasn't I that started with the whole dullard thing - it was from the original post and I used the word, personally preferring it over "moron".

All we're talking about here is the user majority opinion driving change, I have two points:

- if you think that users who don't know how to voice their opinions are dumb, and if they're not dumb they'd agree with you on the UI, that's a pretty arrogant stance.

- when a company is dealing with dropping market share they have to do something. Looking at who is winning those migrating away (i.e. Chrome) and heading in a similar direction is a legitimate strategy. Although that's *not* guaranteed to work it's better than no product development at all.

You've successfully built an argument on vapourware. We're all guessing and applying our own opinions to the mix, but "I don't like it and a few others I've spoken too (who happen to have my background in IT) agree" isn't grounds for assumption on opinion of user majority.

Billa Bong

El Reg readers would agree with this

I'm only taking a pragmatic view here, though I suspect I know what the outcome will be...

I need a citation for the assertion that their user experience profiling only goes as deep as taking their developers own views. They probably go deeper than that (NB, I did say "probably").

Surely they have to pander to the majority in order to bring general user counts up enough to be able to sell whatever it is they sell to make FF and keep it free. My mum would never use half the stuff that "confuses her" about previous releases and she's glad their gone (after I forced it on her a few years ago by removing all the IE icons I could find). I suspect that this holds true for the user majority.

I would wager that El Reg users would in general agree with the above statements only because they're not in this majority. Indeed, I was also very confused when a recent update moved stuff around, but a quick add-on here, theme change there, customisation everywhere and I'm back on track for the most part.

Besides all that, what feedback have you given Mozilla on your experience as a result of the changes? If none, then they don't know you exist, let alone your views, and they will never be able to meet expectations of users whom they know nothing about. If the dullards demanding simple are more vocal than you, then you lose, I'm afraid.

Why IP telephony is about more than just saving money

Billa Bong

Saving money

We had a Mitel system in one office and ditched it in favour of something else when it became clear that we needed an organisation wide system to cover many offices and remote workers.

Asterisk is a great project and it's well worth looking into the many commercial systems built on it (some of which are charge free for basics and then billed for support or super functionality). And if you need something extra special, it has the capability even if you have to get a consultant or better DIY.

Billa Bong


While that's broadly speaking true, it's not hard to train someone up, and if you have cash to burn it's even easier to find someone who in a single day can look over your existing kit and tell you what you need. All it cost us was a PoE switch and a UPS to power the PBX server (which a low power job), PoE and anything else on which the PBX relied. But then we also backed it up with a duplicate configured PBX at a separate location - press the button and everyone is back online (only from home or on their mobile instead of desk phone). It's a DR success story!

Supersonic Bloodhound car techies in screaming 650mph comms test

Billa Bong

Re: Doppler etc...

So by my read of the above (thanks - I learned a lot today), it *is* sort of to do with Doppler, but not on frequency, on timeband multiplexing.

Again, if the base station needs the cell to be at a known distance (rather than very specific frequency) my original suggestion of just placing it far enough away from the runway would work, as the change in distance away will be dampened by Mr. Sine and Cosine as the car drives past.

You could even place many cells parallel to the route and pick up the one that the car/plane is passing.

Or you could solve the problem by not using timeband multiplexing.

Billa Bong

Joking aside...

Surely the problem is solved rather than testing P2P links traveling in opposite directions, just have a relay point some distance off the "runway" such that the relative speed of distance change is not that great if not zero at the point where the vehicle is expected to hit maximum velocity...?

(I'm not going to suggest that the car drives around to maintain an exact distance, because ground based vehicles traveling at that speed don't do turning very well...)

Billa Bong

Hypersonic big bang

"I don't care if anyone gets it, I'm going as the Doppler effect"


Billa Bong

Ok, so I'm sold on location

That's my kind of terrain. But where are the nearest schools? Will is snow in winter so I can build a snow man?

Facebook: Yo 'people'! Zap fake news on our giant ad farm, would'ja?

Billa Bong

This is a joke, right?

I started to report fake pages when they started to appear, but after about 100 reports I stopped, for two very good reasons:

1. Only *2* of the reports I made had a response from Facebook saying "thanks for your feed back, that post has been removed"

2. On those 2, they were feed back at least a week after I reported them.

These fake pages rely on the message being broadcast to a lot of people in a short space of time. By the time they were removed they would have had the desired effect - dupe meeeeellions of people.

For facebook at accept posts from new (throw away) users as genuine is just irresponsible. Now I just hide what I don't want to see, because having to stab away at my screen another 2 or 3 times to report what I've hidden just isn't worth the effort, even if they are now planning on "tagging" these reported posts (hey, has anyone thought that real company's competitors and their clients may not be so honest in their reports? At what point does the markup appear? There are too many holes for this to work IMO).

Microsoft wants LAMP for wireless mobe charger

Billa Bong

To get a job as a Microsoft researcher

Use the phrase "hey, I've got an idea!", involve at least one MS product and one non-MS product in conjunction. No need to think about practicalities, efficiency, or even a *requirement*. I didn't think it would be possible but this actually beats their "whole room immersive experience", a solution with no problem and merely "meh" until someone stomps on the cat/dog/baby/breakable item.

Still, it could be worse... they could be suggesting that mobile phone manufactures put a solar panel on the surface of the phone so that you get into the habit of not putting it safely into your pocket but rather leaving it on the table in a crowded coffee shop, on a train, etc... Oh...

Crap broadband holds back HALF of rural small biz types

Billa Bong

Rural areas no place for business?

That's what several people are saying above.

I have a client who needs to be physically where they are. They have 2 live ADSL lines, one of which breaks every 3-7 days and the other of which is dog-slow. Having battled with various ADSL "providers" (i.e. bill generators) and OpenReach for 5 years they have no better a connection now than back then. Each successive "fix" doesn't actually fix anything, only restore service temporarily.

However, unlike 5 years ago their suppliers have moved all their services online. The companies that provide their business management software have removed the dedicated server they had on premise and put them in the cloud. Their clients have insisted that everything is done electronically.

So the upshot isn't that my client is in the wrong place, but people and companies assume that "everyone can use the internet, right?"... wrong, I'm afraid. Very wrong.

Kim Jong-Un shoot-em-up Glorious Leader! yanked

Billa Bong

Was the video legit footage?

If so I assume it's a game for the Amiga, SNES or something...?

$500 TEDDY BEAR teaches tots to spit up personal data

Billa Bong

Finger monitor is good enough

A child with asthma, so we have one to hand always. Couple of quid from eBay. The other children without asthma love it. Let's play "who can make their heart go the fastest by running round mad"... Let's play "what happens if I hold my breath".

The only people I can see buying this teddy are misguided NHS management (who will pay 10x the price) and overly concerned parents who don't need to look at these stats 99% of the time and will worry when they do, even in the normal range. And when something *does* go wrong, asking where the f-ing teddy has gone isn't the best care provision. Reaching into the childs emergency bag for a 3xcmx3cmx4cm finger monitor is the answer.

What do UK and Iran have in common? Both want to outlaw encrypted apps

Billa Bong

Yes, but what does Steven Fry have to say on the subject?

Clearly we need his IT-Oracle-like guidance here...

Remember Corel? It's just entered .DLL hell

Billa Bong

I confess - I use Corel

Have done for years. There has never been a feature I wanted and couldn't do in PaintShop Pro that would warrant switching to PhotoShop, despite having both. However, now I'm rethinking...

Beyond the genome: YOU'VE BEEN DECODED, again

Billa Bong

Re: @Trevor

By 'eck Trev, if this is how you take to mosquitos I dread to think of your opinion on other "parasites of humanity" (I could name you a few). On average a mosi bite is just an annoyance, with an unfortunate end to a very small minority, an average that could be moved further towards benign by assisting developing countries with known defense and treatment for some of the diseases. I say just go buy Jungle Formula and sleep under a net. I personally could live without them, but I don't want to live in a world where we can make the decision to wipe out a species just like that...

BT Infinity ‘working to fix problem’ after three days of outages

Billa Bong

Re: Change DNS

Unless you want to use parental controls provided by BT, when doing this will cause the router to intercept all traffic to web sites that it didn't provide the IP for and show a "naughty naughty" page.

Clarification: by naughty naughty I didn't mean ooh matron - instead a big blue error message saying "use me for DNS or else no access for you"

Google App Engine has THIRTY flaws, says researcher

Billa Bong

Found a burgler in my house...

I asked him wtf he was doing, he responded:

Taking into account the educational nature of the security issues found in your home, and what seems to be an appreciation you have for arbitrary security research, we hope you will make it possible for us to complete our work.

Orion Space shuttle wannabe preps again for test flight

Billa Bong

Comms? Go. Nav? Go. Control? ...

Control? ... Dammit, Abort. Control are at the pub.

Gangnam Style BREAKS YouTube

Billa Bong

Re: Better Parody

Don't forget:

Penketh High School style: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntkjTbUG_QE (skip first 45 seconds)

(Not really a parody, but pretty cool how close they got)

London police chief: City bankers, prepare for a terrorist cyber attack. Again

Billa Bong

Re: "Be seen to be doing something regularly..."

I'm happy to report that the backlash from my email was astronomical! Maybe sending it round a team of developers was a bad idea...

Billa Bong

"Be seen to be doing something regularly..."

"... it doesn't matter what.".

One of the <opposite>best</opposite> management strategies, right?

I'm just going to send an email round my office telling them to be on their guard for viruses when using the internet or reading email...

Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION

Billa Bong

Ahh, to assume that support are competent

I dealt with a support team once that before anything could ever be looked into they changed the login password back to it's default so they themselves could log in.

Me: "Wait, you did what now?"

Them: "We reset the password back to default. You can change it back once we've finished our investigation"

Me: "... and you have a mechanism that allows you to do that?"

Them: "Yes. We find it's the fastest way to resolve customer issues"

Me: "... Goodbye. *click* *unplug*"

Blackpool hotel 'fines' couple £100 for crap TripAdvisor review

Billa Bong

Re: Boohoo @ Ragarath

I up-vote because I can, and because you deserve it for that observation.

I think the reason is simply that we as a culture are so poor at rational, thoughtful complaint (not slander) direct to the appropriate party. We, as a nation, somehow feel "protected" by the anonymity of the internet, not having to deal direct with the person that has perceptively disadvantaged us.

I wish that it was possible to prevent anyone posting a review online before at least trying to speak direct to the owner/manager about the issues. It might not stop you wanting to post a bad review, but will at least give them the opportunity to put things right or express their side of the tale, thus giving you more of an objective view (or confirming that the reason the establishment is so poor is bad management). Of course practically it's impossible to do this, so I guess keep calm and carry on...

Mystery Russian satellite: orbital weapon? Sat gobbler? What?

Billa Bong

Re: Panic!

Who's have thought that an article about Russian space activities would end up in a topical discussion about the proper way to cook a bird (and which bird too). Thanks to all for a good chuckle and some fresh ideas, which I'll pass on to the head chef of this years glutton-fest.

Billa Bong

Re: Panic!

I was thinking this: http://jamesbond.wikia.com/wiki/GoldenEye_Satellite - though I'd forgotten about the Spectre capture rocket which in my mind is a blown up version of a Red Dwarf scutter.

I've run out of tin foil now. The turkey will be a tad dry this year...