* Posts by SteveK

396 publicly visible posts • joined 23 Jun 2009


BOFH: We send a user to visit Kelvin – Keeper of the Batteries


Re: Keepers of...

I've known a few "keepers of" in my time.

Here, someone had the additional job title 'Keeper of the Scientific Books' which I think is a good one. She's retired now, not sure who has taken on that title (it is an official title rather than a 'known as').

They'd also jealously guard the purchasing budgets. I once placed a requisition for ordering 10 RJ-45 plugs, only to be asked, "Do you really need 10, won't 5 be sufficient?" I did point out the pack size and MOQ were both 10!

Back in the days when online ordering was not quite so common, and procedure meant that ordering stuff for the stationery cupboard rather than for my own department had to be sent to a PA who would ask accounts to raise an order, I had requested N boxes of high density floppy disks.

The accountant proudly gloated after it had gone through that he'd saved us more than £20 by changing the order to standard density floppy disks and that I really should be more observant when looking through the catalogue. A week later I repeated the order and made it clear who was responsible for having bought a stock of floppy disks that were half the capacity and of virtually no use to anyone.

An IT emergency during a festive visit to the in-laws? So sorry, everyone, I need to step out for a while


I may have commented on a similar tale before, but about 10 or so years back I had a call from my minion who was manning the fort (just the two of us) while I was on my way through France as there were network oddities that he couldn't fathom. So I spent a couple of hours drinking coffees and using the free WiFi in the medieval city of Carcassonne while I connected back over VPN and remotely dumped network traffic and switched bits of network off and on to pinpoint the problem. Nice location to just sit in a fairly empty outdoor cafe courtyard enjoying sun and coffee... I don't think I even claimed for the coffee on expenses!

To this day I still don't actually understand what the network was doing. In short, Cisco switches were passing IPv6 traffic over a spanning-tree blocked port, causing a network loop and associated storm. Resilient link from the stacked pair of 3750s at the core to two units in an unstacked (as they didn't support stacking and thus couldn't do an aggregate to different units) cabinet of 2960s, using spanning tree to block one of the links. The port correctly showed as in BLOCKED state and all config was correct. IPv4 traffic was not passing through it, but network monitoring and port mirroring showed that IPv6 was passing. It had worked fine for several years prior to this but waited until I was driving to the south of France. I administratively disabled one of the ports rather than using spanning tree until I got back, which sorted the problem. The faultreoccurred a month or two later, after which I just kept the spare link disabled with a note to enable it should the live link or the switch it was connected to fail. Was clearly something triggering it which wasn't present in normal circumstances but never got to the bottom of what that trigger was, but it did instill in me a fear and mistrust of spanning tree...

What did Unix fans learn from the end of Unix workstations?


Re: I'd quite like an X-term

I do have, squirrelled away, an old NCD X-terminal. Square form factor, 1024x1024. Only 15" I think, and mono, but so crisp and clear compared to VGA PC monitors of the era. Sadly only runs X11R4 in ROM, no idea whether there was ever any way to upgrade it or network boot it to a newer version.

Sizewell C nuclear plant up for review as UK faces financial black hole


EDF said it would have no cost impact on British consumers or taxpayers. The power station had been due online by 2017

Well, it clearly will as if it had been completed and was running by now, it would have been reducing our dependency on gas for power production, and would have had an impact on our energy bills as a result. (ok, I know that's an over-simplistic view and probably the cost of non-gas-energy would still be higher, but I'm sure there would have been some impact)

Hot, sweaty builders hosed a server – literally – leaving support with an all-night RAID repair job


Re: Botched Aircon

I came in just after New Year last year and similarly found the server room to be a wall of heat, 40+ degrees. Thought the AC had failed at first, but on investigation found that some vagrants had climbed over the fence and down to the sheltered area outside our basement server room and turned the power breaker off for the AC. Apparently the master switch had to be located there rather than internally. It is now protected with a lock to prevent unauthorised switching, and better temperature monitoring...

PC component scavenging queue jumper pulled into line with a screensaver


Re: "it was customary to Hasselhoff unlocked PCs"

For a time at my workplace we would use the screen rotation hotkeys on people who left their machines unlocked

I did once encounter someone who had done this to himself with inadvertent key pressing. He hadn't said anything or asked for help but I couldn't help noticing as I passed by that he'd turned his CRT monitor upside down to keep working.

Russian anti-satellite test added to a 'pressing threat to security' in space


Just speculation but ...

Given the timing of the creation of this debris cloud a few months before the invasion of Ukraine began, you have to wonder whether this was a planned event to make it harder and/or more risky for the US and other governments to get monitoring equipment into orbit or to use it as effectively.

I have no idea one way or another and no agenda to push, it's just the way my brain joined the dots.

Homes in London under threat as datacenters pull in all the power


Re: And we also want EV's?

Last month I used the grand total of 12kWh of grid power to run my home.

Shame that you still have to pay the daily standing charge to the power company even when you're not using any power.

EV battery can reach full charge in 'less than 10 minutes'


Re: Still no answer...

Isn't Dulwich where the Elder Gods stalk their prey?

LIDAR in iPhones is not about better photos – it's about the future of low-cost augmented reality


Teams does that sometimes, leaving the background in perfect clarity but blurring the meeting participant...

Google issues third emergency fix for Chrome this year


Re: How happy I am

A strange game. The only winning move is not to browse.

How about a nice game of chess?

Tomorrow Water thinks we should colocate datacenters and sewage plants


Re: On Call

I foresee a future episode of On Call, where our IT hero has to debug the cause of some degraded web app performance, only to find that the whole rack is overheating due to a large brown lump stuck in the inlet hose.

Many years ago, we had the opposite problem. I work in old Victorian buildings, with walls up to a couple of feet thick, with plumbing frequently contained within.

One room was frequently getting toilet blockages and unexplained leaks. On investigation, it turned out that the cabling contractors, who had some years previously installed Ethernet throughout, had managed to drill through and then run Ethernet cabling across the waste pipe from the toilet which was running inside the wall between two rooms. This was causing an obstruction, and resulted in many jokes about log messages and so on.

Another 100 space tourists buy a ride from Virgin Galactic: $25k of that ticket deposit is 'non-refundable'


Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

Really? According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (admittedly from a 2019 report):

To be in the top 1% of income tax payers in the UK (i.e. to be among the 310,000 individuals with the highest income), a taxable income of at least £160,000 is required. £236,000 is required to be in the top 0.5% and nearly £650,000 to be in the top 0.1%. 43% of adults pay no income tax and to be in the top 1% of all adults (or the top 540,000 people), a pre-tax income of at least £120,000 is required.

SpaceX-powered trip to ISS grounded by 'medical issue'


Re: It's probably gas...

Ah, so it wasn't really 'rogue thruster burns from the Soyuz module' that changed the station's altitude a couple of times recently, but overuse of the space toilet..

Analogue tones of a ZX Spectrum Load set to ride again via podcast project


Just remembered the graphpaper with the colour grid copied onto it using 1,2,3 and 4 to represent the colours.

My dad did it. Will have to mention it next time I see him

My mum did ours.. She used the 1,2,3,4 model on graphpaper too. Clearly the way to do it!

Computer scientists at University of Edinburgh contemplate courses without 'Alice' and 'Bob'


Surely using western transliteration of Russian, Japanese names etc is the sort of thing they'd be trying to prevent with their 'decolonization', and all names must be in their original language?

Windows terminates here. Please remember to finish setting it up on arrival


More annoyingly it repeats that screen periodically, after installing W10 version upgrades or some-such, whether you wanted them or not, which is most likely what has happened here,

With a Lidl bit of luck, this Windows installation will make it through the night


Re: "a system was placed last winter"

I think it pushes you down the 'finish setting up your device' thing when you next login after it (automatically) installs W10 feature upgrades, in the hope you'll accidentally not turn off the various 'let me send your info back home' options.

Whether they should have full internet access (in order to fetch the updates) or just limited to being able to show updated content from corporate servers, or not be set to only install approved updates are other questions though.

Here boy! Making the Sample Fetch Rover that'll collect soil from the Red Planet


All the rover need do is package whatever it's sending in metal cylinders and fire them back at Earth, aiming for Horsell Common. It'll be a million to one chance, but still they come.

Microsoft patches PrintNightmare – even on Windows 7 – but the terror isn't over


Re: Why?

If you have print servers elsewhere in the organisation, the DC runs a periodical job of cleaning up old jobs, allegedly.

I read that too (although think it was more about cleaning up old print queues rather than print jobs), don't understand why it's the domain controller's job to clean up after the print spooler running on another server - let that server do it rather than run unnecessary services that do more than is even needed on a domain controller. At the very least separate the housekeeping functions to another service.

‘Staggering’ cost of vintage Sun workstations sees OpenSolaris-fork Illumos drop SPARC support


I have a bunch of SPARC desktops and servers that have been gathering dust in a basement (along with my collection of acquired SGIs, all waiting for a time that I never had to bring them to life) which I'd been thinking to scrap. Maybe I'll try eBay instead...

Microsoft demotes Calibri from default typeface gig, starts fling with five other fonts


I reserve a special part of hell for the people (and I'm not just talking one or two) who over the years, when asked to provide a photo of something for a website or whatever, have taken or obtained a suitable photo in digital form, inserted it into Word and sent me the resulting document.

Europe is falling behind in AI, we need to launch our second machine learning-powered satellite soon, says ESA


A network of AI satellites?

Did they learn nothing from Terminator?

Nvidia may be mulling lopping Arm off Softbank: GPU goliath said to have shown interest in acquiring CPU design house


Re: What is the point ?

Having its arm twisted you mean?

A real loch mess: Navy larks sunk by a truculent torpedo


Re: Kids Toys

A few years back we went to Christmas markets in Aachen. Every time they needed to interrupt the music coming over the PA system with a message, it was preceded with 'Achtung achtung'. We all were expecting to be warned of raiding Spitfires each time..,

Drones must be constantly connected to the internet to give Feds real-time location data – new US govt proposal


Re: Turn it round

Actually it could be quite useful for golf. Many's the time (well, once or twice anyway, ahem) that I've wished there was a tracking device fitted to the ball.

They appear to exist (whether they have yet come to market is another thing):



There was another one on Amazon, but that turned out not to use GPS but a direction finder, and had to buy a dedicated handheld device to track it.


Turn it round

Just curious. How would people react if it was turned around and applied to other hobbies?

Guns come to mind as ownership seems polarized. Sure, you can own a gun. But it must be connected to the Internet, constantly report where it is, whether it is loaded, whether safety is on and whether it is being fired. And if it can also be blocked from operating in certain areas, that would be grand.

I suspect some rather strong views would emerge.

Complete with keyboard and actual, literal, 'physical' escape key: Apple emits new 16" $2.4k+ MacBook Pro


Re: Selective deafness

I agree on the obsession with thinner/lighter. Now, on a laptop that does make some degree of sense and I can see that many people appreciate that when travelling (with the trade-off of having to carry a pile of adapters and accessories - or more likely in my experience turning up at their destination without any chargers, adapters etc and expecting that we have a full set of all of these things for them to borrow. But that's a different rant)

But it doesn't make sense on desktop machines. Going on about how the iMac is a couple of mm thinner after removing the optical drive etc. It's a desktop, it's not intended to be carried around, so does it really matter? I'd prefer it to have the functionality, expandability and repairability than be thankful that it's 100g lighter on the one occasion that it needed to be moved across the room.

Azure consultant to sue Google for linking his cached pics to cloned site, breach of copyright


Re: Not sure, but...

What is this Bing of which you speak?

A small black rabbit of toddler age, who lives in a strange and undefined relationship with what appears to be a knitted 'carer' 1/3 his size, in a town filled with similar pairings of knitted creatures and their oversized wards.

At least, that's what I've gleaned from watching with my 3 year old in the mornings.

More info

This news article about the full public release of OpenAI's 'dangerous' GPT-2 model was part written by GPT-2


Trawling websites

I just gave it a paragraph or two copied from an email discussion about virtualization. It threw back a few more buzzword-laden paragraphs, and ended:

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.


I gave it the first verse of Jabberwocky and ran it a few times. The first few weren't too bad, then it seemed to trip over itself a bit (hardly surprising) and start writing an essay about the poem instead (more surprising).

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.

The gyre and gimble in the wabe,

(1) The original poem, and (2) a later version. (3) The "Mamey" that was originally part of the poem, with additional words added by the author. The original poem:

Woe unto thee! wherefore dost thou gape,

As with one mouth and a single look

The mome rath doeth borogoves?

The "Mamey" that was added in the later version:

Wherefore dost thou gape, as with one mouth and a single look

The mome rath doeth borogoves?

The original poem has the line "the mome raths outgrabe" and the later

Socket to the energy bill: 5-bed home with stupid number of power outlets leaves us asking... why?


Re: Ring mains surely?

But I didn't see any power sockets?


Re: Maybe the owner doesn't like to look for a socket?

..would suit family of androids with poor battery life..


Re: Ring mains surely?

this place is in Birmingham, not Cupertino

West London, not Birmingham. Just outside Harrow, which probably explains the price-tag.


Looking at the full set of pictures on the sellers site I also noted (at least) 4 double outdoor sockets in the garden along the outside wall of the conservatory.

And as I commented elsewhere about the front photo, it's not a garage on the side of the house, that's the fusebox and meter cupboard.

Heads up from Internet of S*!# land: Best Buy's Insignia 'smart' home gear will become very dumb this Wednesday


I know nothing of this particular range of kit, but one thing raises some hitherto unmentioned flags.

If it talks back to a standalone DNS-resolvable address, and they let ownership of that domain lapse for someone else to buy, what potential breaches of data security will arise from all of these still-connected devices talking back for someone else to listen to?

Mobile operators say they'll go halfsies with UK.gov on £1bn network to bring 4G to rural folk


...to bring rural coverage to 95 per cent of the UK

Sorry, are they proposing to reduce to rural-level connectivity to almost the entire population?

Power to the users? Admins be warned: Microsoft set to introduce 'self-service purchase' in Office 365


Re: But

OneDrive also. Even though it (like Teams) is installed to 'the PC', On first login for every user, it copies itself into APPDATA in the users' profiles and runs from there. I guess it means that MS can get it to update itself without having to wait for pesky administrators to do so. It also means that (for OneDrive, not looked at Teams) the user profile is about 100Mb larger than it needed to be.

And that's why W10 spends so long on first logon 'getting things ready', it's installing stuff like that and the various store apps.

And that made the experience poor on shared student computer labs, hence I removed all but the useful apps, and removed the OneDrive installer from the All Users 'run at login', and both disk usage and login times much improved.

Comms room, comms room, comms room is on fire – we don't need no water, let the engineer burn


Re: Leap Out And Let It Burn

I was recently told that the fire extinguishers were purely to aid getting out of the building, not attempting to put the fire out. And in most cases they were of more use as a tool for smashing windows to get through than to actually use.

'Evolution of the PC ecosystem'? Microsoft's 'modern' OS reminds us of the Windows RT days


(I love it when you uncheck an option to see "relevant ads", only to be told, "You'll still see ads, but they won't be relevant".)

"We'll still monitor your every move and send it all back to HQ so that we ensure you don't see any relevant advertising."

US kids apparently talking like Peppa Pig... How about US lawmakers watching Doctor Who?


I just think of Rastamouse as a kids version of Death in Paradise..

1,700 lucky Brit kids to visit Apple Stores for 'Year of Engineering'


Re: So really they're preparing the next generation for life in retail?

"Don't forget the gold plated usb cable, it'll transfer files *way* faster than an ordinary cable."

I notice Currys still sell a £50 goldplated optical audio cable.

And even talk up how the "durable gold plated connectors ensure the best possible connection".

My hoard of obsolete hardware might be useful… one day


On a larger scale

Yes, I have the obligatory crate of random power supplies from obsolete kit 'just in case' and many boxes of tangled cables. But over the years at work I also appear to have collected or inherited a bunch of larger and less common items that I really know that I will never find the time to do something with (I haven't in the last 15 years when I had more free time so there's no chance now) and noone else wants, but I just can't bring myself to commit them to the WEEE recycling collection firm.

The largest of those is a Silicon Graphics Challenge L ('deskside' chassis the size of a small fridge). Also a bunch of other SGI and Sun workstations from the 90s, all in various states of disrepair and I think none actually working.

F***=off, Google tells its staff: Any mention of nookie now banned from internal files, URLs


So, if I change my name to something Google deems offensive, will I get purged from their databases, or stripped from data feeds to advertisers? That sounds like it has possibilities...

Sysadmin sank IBM mainframe by going one VM too deep


Monkeys and snails

Going off on a tangent to the tangent (what people call the '#' symbol), the '@' symbol goes by rather a lot of names in different countries. Wikipedia has a list. Quite a few countries refer to it as either a monkey or a snail.

Google Chrome update to label HTTP-only sites insecure within WEEKS


Re: It's not "browsing" anymore..

Can you do https to a 192. address?

Yes, provided whatever equipment is on that address supports https, but to the best of my knowledge you can't buy a certificate for it from any legitimate certificate provider, so unless you also run your own certificate authority and can deploy a trust certificate to any of your devices that need to access it, or deploy every self signed certificate to the devices, you will continue to have to jump through an ever increasing number of hoops every time you want to browse to it.

Southend Airport tests drone detection system


Re: Trafalgar Square

Not forgetting London Oxford at 56 miles.

Transport pundit Christian Wolmar on why the driverless car is on a 'road to nowhere'


“I don’t see the great advantage of these road trains above ordinary trains.”

How about "being able to go where the railway does not"?

UK.gov admits porn age checks could harm small ISPs and encourage risky online behaviour


Re: From a legal perspective...

"Pornographic material" is defined in s15. It's too long for me to paste here, but it covers quite a lot, with an emphasis on material which was "produced solely or principally for the purposes of sexual arousal".

So material produced solely or principally for generating profit, by selling to those seeking arousal is not covered then?

'I knew the company was doomed after managers brawled in a biker bar'


Re: "and gloves were forbidden"

The 'head of science' at my school seems to have been equally bumbling.

He set up a wave generator (water, not sound), somehow connected it up to AC rather than DC from the multifunction power supply. Then when it a) didn't work and b) started smoking, lunged for it and knocked the whole thing into the basin of water.

While teaching about electricity and transformers, set up a pair of step-up/step-down transformers with a low voltage source and just as he was about to invite us to grab the far end, realised he'd connected one the wrong way round and had actually set up step-up/step-up with the resulting voltage now in 4 figures.