* Posts by BenDwire

649 publicly visible posts • joined 30 Jun 2009


Work for you? Again? After you lied about the job and stole my stuff? No thanks

BenDwire Silver badge


Unfortunately it was a 386sx ultimately runnng WFW3.11, but it could manage basic tasks (Quattro Pro) and some others (Doom & Descent). It took me 25 years after that to get a dual headed computer, and one with 8 cores, but it's called Homer for some reason ... maybe bacause I no longer need to go to work.

BenDwire Silver badge

Ex-Boss here.

Anyone reading this forum would think that there were no good bosses around. I like to take pride in the fact that I treated my staff fairly, adhered to a policy of give-and-take and generally said thank-you for a job well done, along with a decent salary. Admittedly I had bosses along the way that made me determined to do better than them, so I understand why there are so many bitter and twisted people around.

While I accept that I may be an outlier in the management sphere (I don't have an MBA for a start, but I do have an Engineering degree) I like to think that my employees enjoyed working with me. Certainly they said as much to my face, and nobody ever left for reasons I could influence.

If your boss is an idiot, then tell them that they are being an idiot. If they won't take constructive criticism then get another job before you lose your mind / health / spouse. Life is too short.

It's friday - time for beer.

BenDwire Silver badge

OOh ! I had a Marvin, and a Zaphod too. Both horribly underpowered, but I have fond memories of them both.

I too went through a phase of naming machines after their user, but that gave rise to the problem of new staff having to use old staff's machines, making them feel less 'included' in the existing team. A lack of my time meant that the obvious wipe & reinstall* didn't get done for ages, unless I spent the weekend at work catching up - I was the MD of the place, and IT was an after-hours exercise as we couldn't afford a proper BOFH.

Changing the naming scheme to something less personalised saved me a lot of hassle.

*Inevitable the username was similarly personalised, and early versions of Windows (Workgroups) made that hard to expunge properly.

Self-taught-techie slept on the datacenter floor, survived communism, ended a marriage

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: Daily!?! RFC begs to differ

Hopefully a problem shared is a problem solved for you. It's heartbreaking to watch people lose themselves due to illness or ageing, but it's very common.

I write from the other side of the coin - I'm in my seventh decade and I'm petrified of losing my remaining marbles such that I can't do what I like to do now.

One solution to both problems is a Power Of Aattorney (If you're in the UK, at least) where you can take over financial and medical issues for her. I know it's easier said than done, but having the argument now may help in the long run. There is also nothing stopping you ringing her doctor (or going in to speak to them) with your concerns.

Best of luck to you both.

Worried about the impending demise of Windows 10? Google wants you to give ChromeOS Flex a try

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: But it's Google...

I haven't found a Linux distro that runs my audio correctly

What's so odd about your audio then? I use Debian, and it just seems to work. Webcam audio, external (Focusrite) USB ADC, and onboard Intel audio all happily coexist. Things really have improved on that front over the past few years.

Now if you're into music production, then there are specific distros for you, but a quick Duck Duck will give you plenty of options. And opinions.

I concurr that Lunux Mint is a good place to start, if only to see what issues might occur with your setup, but I'd go one step further than just run it from a (frustratingly slow) USB and buy a small cheap SSD. Download a few distros and have a play. With your current hard disk disconnected you won't be able to break anything* should you want to return to what you have now.

Good hunting

*OK you can, but it takes a bit of effort.

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: "hundreds of millions of Windows 10 devices are destined for landfills"

Puppy Linux, surely?

Broadcom terminates VMware's free ESXi hypervisor

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Oh well

I've had a server at home running EXSi for years now, and it has an assortment of VMs that I could spin up when the need arose. To be honest, I powered it down when I went to OZ for a few months after retiring, and I've not turned it on since. I've been wondering about reinstating it and migrating the workload from my lower-powered microserver, if only to improve the performance of my Plex server. Obviously now that won't involve EXSi, which also means that I won't be able to advise people on such systems when they ask me for help.

Maybe nothing of value was lost - which might explain why Broadcom are taking this course of action.

So now I've faced with the choice of another bare metal install, or invistigate the likes of Proxmox. Given that I no longer have any use for any Micros~1 products, I don't need to keep VMs for them either. The choice appears to be quite a simple one: Bare metal Debian or Devuan?

'Crash test dummy' smashed VIP demo by offering a helping hand

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Re: Ouch

When you do redesign the board, make sure to add some solder-blob or zero-ohm links so that you can use either chip in the future. That will save a subsequent board redesign and associated scrap costs when chips are lost or damaged in production.

And I know this because I too have been there, endured the product recall **, and had to put things right.

** The inspection stage missed the tiny writing on the SMT chip. The test stage didn't have 100% coverage, and the lady in goods-inwards missed one digit in a 20 digit product code.

The new AOI (Automatic Optical Inspection) machine cost me £40k, Test jigs a further £5k and finally £50 for a pair of glasses in stores. It was a great learning experience if nothing else ...

You're not imagining things – USB memory sticks are getting worse

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Re: Size isn't everything

Have you tried partitioning it? OK, so you won't have the full capacity, but you will have better speed. Possibly.

EU repair rights bill tells manufacturers to fix up or ship out

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Re: I haven't read

If the bearings are just standard ball races then there should be a number stamped on them which can identify a suitable replacement. Failing that, measure them with a digital vernier and go to a bearing specialist. When I were a lad, we had a bearing shop in a small parade in a local council estate - Admittedly, RHP (Ransome Hoffmann Pollard) were one of the bigger manufacturers in the town.

In general, machine manufacturers don't make their own bearings, even though they may arrive in a Hotpoint, Ford or Kawasaki box.

That's not the web you're browsing, Microsoft. That's our data

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: does this only occur within the same account?

Interesting, thanks. I'll have to have a dig around and see what's playing up then. Most of it works, but for some reason I haven't been able to download a .csv of my transactions for months now.

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: does this only occur within the same account?

I prefer Firefox too, but more and more sites don't work correctly with it, especially banking ones (e.g. Barclaycard)

I resort to using Brave on those sites, but have no intention of letting Edge near my Debian box ...

US starts 'emergency' checks on cryptocurrency power use, citing winter power demands

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Re: Gosh

Congratulations on saving your carbon footprint by... offloading your Google search requirements on other people

But that's how carbon trading works, isn't it?

Plant me a tree, I'll be back for breakfast.

Techie climbed a mountain only be told not to touch the kit on top

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: I once had ....

That was one of the few jobs I've ever walked away from because I needed to save my sanity

And that's the important lesson to learn from all of this: If those above you on the pay grade won't listen to your demonstrably correct opinions, then leave them all to it and get on with something else.

I know that's easier said than done in many cases, but don't try to put up with it ad infinitum. Your mental health will suffer, and you'll bring your closest people down with you.

Don't bother to ask me how I know ...

BOFH: Looks like you're writing an email. Fancy telling your colleague to #$%^ off?

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: "coloured pencil office"

Absolutely spot on. I live very close to an artisan bakery, and his handmade sourdough doesn't trouble my system at all. But supermarket sourdough (aka sourfaux) makes all the local wildlife sniff the breeze with fear and trepidation. And I'm talking posh Waitrose & M&S bread too.

And despite what you may think, my local bakery actually charges less than the supermarkets too. So, find a local baker, and treat yourself.

Standards-obsessed boss ignored one, and suffered all night for his sin

BenDwire Silver badge

I know correlation isn't causation, but still....

It does go someway to explain the majority of today's younger generation. Engineering is far too hard for the poor loves, so there's very little demand for decent courses.

But I'm a jaded bitter old man. What do I know.

The Post Office systems scandal demands a critical response

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: We need more articles like this one

Why do private companies like Fujitsu or Capita never seem to be held accountable for their shambolic performance ?

It used to be said that "Nobody got fired for buying IBM". Maybe history is repeating itself with a new set of names ?

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: It's still happening

Not only is a certain mindset required, but so is a clear specification of what the software needs to do, and how it should handle fault conditions. Then enough time should be given to do the job.

I've been in many meetings where the 'management' hadn't a clue what needed to be done, or how much time it would take to define. I even left one company mid-ERP implementation becase 'they' said I had to complete it 5 times faster than the predicted timescale and with 1/10 of the staff required. Yes, of course that system failed, £2M lost and the company folded. (Yes, it was run by an accountant).

The 'nothing-happened' Y2K bug – how the IT industry worked overtime to save world's computers

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Re: Fudge time!

Oddly enough, I did some consulting work for an ex-employer some years after I left. I was asked to design a memory module for some huge** inkjet printer, as the then complex 8-layer PCB was too difficult for the remaining engineers. However, this was in 1999 and the then boss asked if I would be willing to conduct a Y2K audit of everything - test gear, production machinery, networks, the lot.

After many days of lucrative but mind-numbing investigations I found just one program that actually couldn't cope with the new millennium. It was an easy fix, but only because I wrote the damn thing fifteen year earlier ...

Yes, they were meant to have replaced it with a commercial offering, but they couldn't find anything that worked as well, so were running my old 16-bit DOS program within Windows. (Clipper anyone?)

Still, it paid well.

WTF? Potty-mouthed intern's obscene error message mostly amused manager

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: Code comments

Even more years back (30?) I wrote code in assembler for the then new PIC chips that I'd started to use in my company's products. As we were in to three-phase electrical measurement, most of out gear had custom transformers (wound on-site) to do all the physical interfacing. Being quite low tech, they has a bit of a phase shift which sometimes caused a bit of an issue when trying to accurately measure power, or provide synchronisation. In this particular case, I was using a differential transceiver chip to create a square wave representation of the zero-crossing points, but just couldn't get my head around the cumulative delays of the hardware. With deadlines looming, I threw in a few NOP statements and added a pithy comment that this was a bodge to be sorted out some time in the future. The code was good enough to sell thousands of products, and of course the code never got revisited.

Some years later I had moved jobs and was invited to speak on a course that involved my new company's technology. One of the delegates was my replacement at the prior company, and he introduced himself as the guy who found my comment and had to fix it properly due to a change in the chip supplier (and different characteristics). I just smiled.

Expert sounds alarm bells over upcoming NHS data platform

BenDwire Silver badge


Are Fujitsu involved in any of these EHR systems? If so, maybe I could get them to edit out some of my health issues ...

UK officials caught napping ahead of 2G and 3G doomsday

BenDwire Silver badge

I'm old enough to remember selling and using System 3 handsets. They were installed in such cars as Prince Charles' Aston Martin**, and 'one' had to ask the operator to connect you as there was no direct dialling back in those days.

It's amazing how far technology has improved over my relatively short lifetime.

(** Positive earth vehicle, so the transmitter had to be mounted in a wooden box in the boot. It was made by Mobira Oy, which eventually became Nokia IIRC)

Tesla to remote patch 2M vehicles after damning Autopilot safety probe

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: "recall"

You've missed "Suitably gullible customers" off your list.

Doom turns 30, so its creators celebrate seminal first-person shooter’s contribution to IT careers

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: Hated by sysadmins

One of my fondest recollections of a previous company was seeing the IT manager staring at his bit of networking kit in total bewilderment. It was mounted high up in a darkened corridor, so the blinkenlights bathed him in a glow reminiscent of the ending of 2001 A Space Odyssey. I was a newcomer to the business, and wanted to bring in CAD packages & general office kit to the design department. He was the COBOL guy, and had a token ring running across the entire manufacturing site. He wanted no part in my department, so left me to get on with it. All was fine until somebody wanted access to the MRP system which required him to link my LAN with his token ring. So far, so good.

This was 1993/4, and I had decided to use Artisoft Lantastic cards and software running on Win3.11. I remember the day that someone brought Doom into the office and asked if we could play across a few of the machines. The quick answer was no as I hadn't a clue what IPX was or did, but these were the days when technical support was much easier. I had a fax from the guys at Artisoft, telling me what drivers I needed and which bulletin board to get them from. Each machine got its own multi-boot menu and at the stroke of lunchtime there would be a dozen beeping machines and several concurrent games of Doom would spring into life.

Of course what we didn't realise was the bridge that had been installed for our MRP access happily passed everything onto to the token ring, hence the Dave Bowman moment. To his credit, he bought in another bit of kit to solve the problem, after initially just unplugging us and walking off.

We eventually progressed onto Doom2, Duke Nukem and Quake, the multiboot menus growing ever larger each time. We even got the resident softie to write our own WAD of the factory, which made it even more fun (except only he knew where he'd put the BFGs that day).

The then MD thought this was an excellent bit of team building and insisted on scheduling his important factory tours to conclude in my department at lunchtime, as if it was all his idea. Tosser.

Good times ...

HP TV ads claim its printers are 'made to be less hated'

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: Which is worse?

I have a Dell desktop and a HP printer, and they're both wonderful !!

Admittedly the Dell got wiped and Debian thrust upon it, and the HP is a Laserjet 6p that just works, albeit with a network print server dongle (PrintSir) I bought 20 years ago.

I'm planning to move in a couple of years though, and at that point I may well treat myself to a Brother all-in-one and ditch the separate Epson scanner too.

Veteran editors Notepad++ and Geany hit milestone versions

BenDwire Silver badge

As I mentioned earlier, have a play with Notepadqq. It's very similar, and may be good enough, depending on your needs. No snap reqired.

BenDwire Silver badge

Notepad++ Linux alternative

I always used Notepad++ back in the day when I ran Windows 7, but since moving to Linux I never really got on with it running under Wine (well, Crossover actually). It's probably a look and feel thing, as it otherwise functions perfectly well.

I ended up switching to the native "Notepadqq" as it integrates better into my desktop environment, and does most of what Notepad++ does and everything that I need it to do. YMMV of course.

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: EMACS or death

Surely you meant to type Vi ?


40 years of Turbo Pascal, the coding dinosaur that revolutionized IDEs

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: Lazarus IDE

There is, but I couldn't get my Delphi Programmer to change over (thus saving me the cost of the frequent Delphi upgrades) and nor could I wean my Test Equipment Manager off VB6 and onto something more portable (I wanted to use Linux in some test equipment).

It's a while back now, but from memory the basic core of Lazerus was good enough, it just didn't work well with the third party libraries we had to use.

I'm fairly sure all parties have retired now, so who knows what their successors are using ...

HP printer software turns up uninvited on Windows systems

BenDwire Silver badge

Just be thankful ...

Just be thankful it wasn't the latest album from U2 that downloaded automatically. At least an HP driver may be of use to some people.

Plex gives fans a privacy complex after sharing viewing habits with friends by default

BenDwire Silver badge

my only gripe is that it doesn't seem to be able to handle libraries - e.g. for Anime - that contain both TV shows and films

But Plex can't do this either (out of the box) unless you use a custom agent such as Colima (Combined Library Metadata Agent). Is there not a way to add custom agents to Jellyfin?

I bought a lifetime pass for Plex when it was on offer, so I'm not inclined to waste that investment and start over with something new. However, I have a low tolerance for being messed about, so if the Plex developers make too many stupid decisions then I'll be looking far more closely at Jellyfin.

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: "on by default"

Actually I just checked my own plex server and it clearly states that whatever you change the setting to now it will revert back to 'private' in 2 years time. (Unfortunately only for those in the USA). At least that seems to be a token effort in the right direction.

However, I will keep a weary eye on it just in case, but as it only sits on my LAN with no remote access then I'm not that fussed ... especially as it's not registered in my real name, and uses a unique email address that doesn't identify me. Oh, and there's a PiHole on my network too that really messes with all that tracking.

Meta sued by privacy group over pay up or click OK model

BenDwire Silver badge

I binned FB 10 years ago, and despite all the FOMO I haven't lost contact with any real friends since then. Sure, it does take a bit more effort to send out multiple messages via SMS, Signal or even email, but not that much more. Vague acquaintances have fallen away as might be expected, but that's no real problem being the curmudgeonly git that I am.

Half a kilo of cosmic nuclear fuel reignites NASA's deep space dreams

BenDwire Silver badge

There are some very odd people about on the internet these days. Have an upvote to balance things out! (And a virtual beer)

BenDwire Silver badge

Come get some ...

My dyslexia caused my brain to start thinking about RPGs. Duke Nukem anyone?

User read the manual, followed instructions, still couldn't make 'Excel' work

BenDwire Silver badge

Maybe she'd seen Harry Potter with its moving photographs?

Suits ignored IT's warnings, so the tech team went for the neck

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Re: Wait a minute...

I think you meant NZ, but they made a very good film about those sheep going baaad!

Black Sheep

X looks back at year of so-called 'engineering excellence' under Musk

BenDwire Silver badge


It's not going to happen. Xitter will have to wrench my financial details from my cold, dead, hands.

My opinion of Mr Musk is becoming lower every time he makes an announcement. He's lucked out several times in his life, and from what I can make out has stood on the shoulders of giants to get where he is today. If I were him I'd just kick back and let other people run the businesses he's bought - I don't think he has anything more to offer.

But what do I know? I never used Twitter, and never will.

After nine servers he worked on failed, techie imagined next career as beach vendor

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: Full circle

Many people started their IT career from selling stuff at the beach.

And most of the customers were in the sea up to their necks in sh*t from the local sewage works.

Boris Johnson's mad hydrogen for homes bubble bursts

BenDwire Silver badge

Start right, now

As others have correctly stated, heat pumps only work well when the houses are properly insulated. So why not mandate that all new houses built from (say) 2025 meet a much higher standard**, have underfloor loops fitted during construction, and maybe even have pipes under the garden for ground-source pumps if applicable?

Of course we all know why that won't happen, but in reality that's the only way to kick start the transition.

** We could borrow the German building standards as a good place to start.

Thousands of Teslas recalled over brake fluid bug

BenDwire Silver badge

You obviously haven't ever owned a British Leyland car from the 1970's that had no paint left on the bulkhead (firewall) due to a weeping joint between the reservoir and the master cylinder. They don't make 'em like that any more ...

Icon - because they couldn't

So this one time, at Bandcamp, half the staff were laid off

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: Backup now ...

No, Bandcamp does allow that, so it's not an either / or decision. My point is simply that too many (normal?) people trust "the cloud" far too much and one day soon they may lose access to their data.

BenDwire Silver badge

Backup now ...

Consider these warnings to be similar to an increasingly noisy hard disk, and download your paid-for your music before it's no longer available. I always download every purchase in FLAC as I'm an old dinosaur that has a music server, but I know many that leave it all in the cloud as it's more accessible to them.

It's a pity, but I can't see it surviving in its present form for much longer.

Japan cruises ahead with drive-thru EV charging trial

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Re: Very clever, but there is a problem.

My sentiments entirely.

Does anyone want to buy a load of unused CFL lamps? Anyone ?

Microsoft gives unexpected tutorial on how to install Linux

BenDwire Silver badge

Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

Before I get deluged with down votes, hear me out: While I abandoned Windows years ago *because I can* I’ve never pushed Linux onto anyone unless they demonstrated a certain technical prowess.

However, last week the 16 year old son of a friend managed to trash the hard disk in his computer, so I suggested that a cheap SSD would resurrect his machine. I then asked what programs he needed to run, and to my amazement it was simply Chrome. Youtube, Google Docs, Discord, Twitter and Spotify was the extensive list he gave me, and all ran in the browser quite happily.

So, as an experiment, I put Linux Mint on said SSD, downloaded Chrome and that was that. Within 30 minutes all was working and he’s not moaned about anything. Everything just worked (Beer for the Minty devs) and he’s happy with the speed improvement gained from the SSD and lack of antivirus bloatware.

Now, I remain as amazed as the next person, but to see him just get on with it as if nothing happened is quite astounding. He just treats is as an appliance, like his Nintendo Switch or Android phone, and it was no big deal as long as he had the browser he was used to. I was tempted to put ChromeOS on the machine, but TBH I couldn’t be arsed. Linux is easy enough IMO.

Assuming he’s typical of many young adults in the education system, I do wonder if Micros~1 need to have a rethink.

Scripted shortcut caused double-click disaster of sysadmin's own making

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: Is there anyone

Amateur! Norton's Utilities was the weapon of choice for this (then) PFY. I've got a bit of a straggly greybeard going on now ...

Not even the ghost of obsolescence can coerce users onto Windows 11

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: PC is good enough for now.

Minesweeper is so much better than Solitaire IMO

Switch to hit the fan as BT begins prep ahead of analog phone sunset

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: "All that's happening here is the removal of the last remaining analogue component"

And this is why I feel so bloody old.

Back in the early 1980's the "Line Division" of my company* was involved in the design of SystemX, and as a young trainee graduate I helped build and test parts of the system. On one memorable occasion Tomorrow's World's William Woollard was invited to film a mini-documentary about SystemX and he paced up and down next to my desk as he rehearsed his lines. Initially endearing, but ultimately very annoying. Nice guy, but really, never meet your heroes.

*Based at the site of 2MT if you know your radio history.

BenDwire Silver badge

Re: Has El Reg been sold to the yanks?

You may have noticed that it's now theregister.com rather than .co.uk, and the switch to American spelling came shortly afterwards. Several other changes have happened too (no Paris icon, no Dabbsy etc) but it's all in the interests of making ElReg appear more 'professional'.

It's a pity in my view, but others insist that "everything must change"

BenDwire Silver badge

More info available here

My ISP (the wonderful Andrews and Arnold) have this update about what's happening.


I have one of their voice-only lines as I live too close to the exchange, therefore have no cabinet for fibre. It may be ADSL but it's fast enough for HDR Streaming, so no real need for any more. Yet. Unfortunately Vermin Media are in the street, but won't connect me as my drive is too long ... and BT own the conduit to my house. As such OFCOM think that I have fibre available, so isn't forcing BT to offer the service to me. Catch 22. Thankfully I'm moving soon anyway ...