* Posts by Steve the Cynic

1028 publicly visible posts • joined 28 Jul 2009


In a time before calculators, going the extra mile at work sometimes didn't add up

Steve the Cynic

Re: Bank Accounts

Dunno about that. I used to live on a short street called "Lover's Lane". (No, that was its actual name, not its current nickname...)

ASUS baffles customer by telling them thermal pad thickness is proprietary

Steve the Cynic

Re: Asus is crap

Turn. Off. Secure. Boot. The bootloader on the USB stick isn't signed with a certificate that the UEFI recognises, so Secure Boot refuses to load it.

Worn-out NAND flash blamed for Tesla vehicle gremlins, such as rearview cam failures and silenced audio alerts

Steve the Cynic

Re: Not Fit For Purpose

"ICE system" is marvellously ambiguous, and I have to fight an urge to interpret "ICE" as "Internal Combustion Engine"...

We bought a knockoff Lego launchpad kit from China for our Saturn V rocket so you don't have to

Steve the Cynic

Re: Any chance

It would (at the same scale as the Saturn V model) be a little over five feet high, five feet wide and seven feet long.

Raytheon techie who took home radar secrets gets 18 months in the clink in surprise time fraud probe twist

Steve the Cynic


Pffft. It can't have been all that sensitive. He only had a Secret clearance. When I first met her, the late Mrs Cynic held a Top Secret (with an SCI authorisation on top) and she had a sort of spitting contempt for anyone who thought that a Secret meant much of anything. I believe the words she used were "give them away in Crackerjack boxes".

Then again, at one point she temped at, er, Raytheon, and was asked to get a Secret to go with her Top Secret, since, ya know, the job requires a Secret...

Ok, I get that the IT security was lamentable, and that he did something he shouldn't oughta done, but...

Barclays Bank appeared to be using the Wayback Machine as a 'CDN' for some Javascript

Steve the Cynic

It gets worse

By pulling it from the wayback machine, they've also made it so they can scupper the site themselves. See, there's a keyword in robots.txt that allows a site operator to block archiving. If you add it to an already-archived site, the WM blocks access to the entire archive of the site until you remove it.

Square peg of modem won't fit into round hole of PC? I saw to it, bloke tells horrified mate

Steve the Cynic

GPUs. Oh dear. My tale is relatively benign.

So two years ago I paid toppish euro for an assembled-by-vendor machine composed of parts I selected. For fumble-fingered reasons that are entirely my fault it had a GTX 1080 rather than a Ti, but never mind.

Feeling flush this year I paid an amount I won't mention here for an RTX 2080 and remembered to include the Ti bit this time. It's a big and heavy beast, but the provided bracket to support its weight wouldn't fit between the card and the internal drive cage.

End of the story is that this top-tier GPU (goes like greased owl shit, by the way) is supported by a shim made of folded card, clearly visible through the clear plastic "show off the RGB LEDs" panel in the side of the case...

Getting a pizza the action, AS/400 style

Steve the Cynic

Re: A real pizza

"USAians might call them steak cut fries (I think)"

Pretty much, although that made me think of a restaurant I went to one time in Manhattan, Rothman's on 53rd Street, near the St Regis (where I was staying). I ordered a big slab of dead cow with "steak fries". What I got was indeed a big slab of dead cow, with what looked like a baked potato (and not a small one, either) sliced in four lengthways.

When I queried this oddity, the waiter confirmed that it was, really, their version of "steak fries".

Good steak, though.

Freed from the office, home workers roam sunlit uplands of IPv6... 2 metres apart

Steve the Cynic

Colour me disappointed...

No snark about El Reg's lack of AAAA record? Sigh.

Data centres are warm and designed to move air very efficiently. Are they safe to visit during the pandemic?

Steve the Cynic

Re: 70% iso + 30% water? that's 49% alcohol, too low

No, it means a solution of 70% iso / 30% water, no matter how you achieve that. It is possible to buy 99% iso / 1% water(1), but that is *less* effective as a disinfectant, above all as an anti-bacterial agent, and must be diluted to 70/30.

(1) it's a useful solvent for some sorts of art.

Ah, night shift in the 1970s. Ciggies, hipflasks, ADVENT... and fault-prone disk drives the size of washing machines

Steve the Cynic

Re: How to treat removable pack drives

"CDC made decent kit when they actually bothered to make it. They were famously pushed into administration when an over-eager auditor checked that the vast stock of disk drives boxes actually contained drives only to discover they were full of bricks."

You're thinking of MiniScribe, I think.


College student with 'visions of writing super-cool scripts' almost wipes out faculty's entire system

Steve the Cynic

Re: To err is human

> If you work in IT, and you learn only from your own cockups, you need to read more. I can remember even back in the days of PC Pro, reading columns about the "sledgehammer" test - consultants hired to ensure the system is resilient, so laying a sledgehammer on the meeting room and saying to the IT guy "Quite how sure are you?" Even getting verbal permission from the CEO to trash one server and chalk it up to expenses only to see the IT guy gulp...

I remember that one. The consultant (singular) was Jon Honeyball, and the tool was his well-used industrial-weight chainsaw, not a sledgehammer. It was a board-room power-battle, not (really) a technical issue.

Honeyball was consulting *for*the*CEO*, who didn't think the CIO was as sure of the redundant servers as he claimed. And he was right. Honeyball suggested the chainsaw test, and the CIO raised a reasonable objection related to the cost of the server that would be destroyed. The CEO said that it wasn't a problem, and that he would sign an authorisation to replace it, seeing as how he had asked for it to be destroyed. The CIO then bottled out and had to admit that he wasn't as sure of the redundant architecture as he had claimed.

ZX Spectrum reboot scandal man sits on Steve Bannon design tech shindig committee

Steve the Cynic

Re: "lucky few [etc]"

As we are finding out, the checks and balances we thought we had are mainly just people's own self-control.

The main problem with the American model of checks and balances (and, indeed, any other such system) is that it relies on a delicate balance between the speed at which the system is disturbed (by, say, a President who wants more power) and the speed at which the checks and balances can push back against the disturbance.

When the US Constitution was framed, that balance of speeds was a reasonable thing to assume, although it wasn't perfect even then. Today, however, if one of the participants, especially the President, decides to steamroller the boundaries of his power, the checks and balances cannot keep up, since the tools at their disposal haven't really caught up with the evolution of technology. (You can easily break the system with repeated use of "the weaponized tweet", but that's a poor tool for fixing it.)

Raspberry Pi fans up in arms as Mathematica disappears from Raspbian downloads

Steve the Cynic

Those that don't save 700MB of bandwidth.

Unless your Internet access is provided by barbarians (the sort who impose usage caps on fixed-line access, duh), that's just a question of (a sizeable amount of) time, possibly as long as (calculates) seven or eight seconds.

Yes, I'm yanking your collective chains. At 1 Gbit/sec (my ISP just raised my fibre access to 1 Gbps down / 300 Mbps up for no extra money), it is, indeed, about that. At a megabyte per second (reasonable expectation for "up to 20" ADSL2+), it's more like 12 minutes or so.

Huawei's Watch GT snubs Google for homegrown OS

Steve the Cynic

Re: 2-week battery life

Seems to me it would be easier to remember to charge something nightly than to remember to charge it every 10 to 14 days. You'd get in the habit of taking it off and charging it each night. Most people are already doing that with their phone, so it is just another thing to hook up before you go to bed.

Doug speaks truth.

So what if my (Apple) Watch runs down to 67% during the day? It goes on the wireless(1) charging doobrie every night just like my phone goes on the end of a Lightning cable. 67% is enough spare that I can stay out for a night, and the charger is small enough that for a planned outing, I can take it along.

Sleep monitoring? There's an app for that on the phone, although it can't monitor heart rate and stuff, of course.

(1) That is, no wire to plug into the Watch. Of course there's a wire from the pad to the mains socket.

Take my advice: The only safe ID is a fake ID

Steve the Cynic

Re: variations you see on Siobhan or any other Gaelic or Irish name

I find USA names and spelling amusing.

My father's first name is Robin, which caused no end of fun when we moved from Blighty to the US, where Robin is almost exclusively a girl's name.

But in the context of Irish names, nobody mentioned the other one that causes fun: Niamh. "Proper" pronunciation is as if spelled "Neeve" in Anglish spelling conventions. More common pronunciation outside Ireland is more like "Nee-am" with nobody quite sure what to do with the "h" at the end.

Steve the Cynic

Re: Irish names in Irish or English.

!! As opposed to...??!

Stale ones, obviously.

With sorry Soyuz stuffed, who's going to run NASA's space station taxi service now?

Steve the Cynic

Re: No worries

lolled = past tense of loll, to hang or lie down, the verb has been used for 100s of years :P

Indeed. When lol is used as a verb ("to laugh out loud") in the past, I've more often seen it spelled "loled" (which to me would be the past of "lole", but never mind that).

Yale Weds: Just some system maintenance, nothing to worry about. Yale Thurs: Nobody's smart alarm app works

Steve the Cynic

Re: I still have an old-school rule to follow

Never trust an electronic lock.

It's not a good idea to put blind trust in a *mechanical* lock either. Mechanical locks have two advantages, though:

* They continue to be locked, and unlockable, when the power is off.

* Someone trying to open them has to be physically present at the lock while doing it.

In the two years since Dyn went dark, what have we learned? Not much, it appears

Steve the Cynic

Re: Workstation, Server, and Router Options

but over my dead body will I use my ISP's service.

Good luck with that. If your ISP uses equipment *in their network* that can do the things my company's equipment can do, you have no hope of avoiding your ISP's service unless you direct all your traffic, including DNS, into a VPN. It would take me longer to describe how to set it up than it would take me to set up a redirection rule that would grab all DNS traffic and redirect it to a single server.

Huge ice blades on Jupiter’s Europa will make it a right pain in the ASCII to land on

Steve the Cynic

Re: Penitentes

No, it's the Spanish word for, well, "penitents", people doing penance. See also the robes and hoods worn by penitents during Spanish Holy Week.


US may have by far the world's biggest military budget but it's not showing in security

Steve the Cynic

“Warnings were so common that operators were desensitized to them”

Ouch. That very one would hurt any pilot deeply.

In my experience of reading descriptions of major air crashes, that theme (of operators - pilots and other flight-deck crew - being desensitized by the sheer number of warnings) occurs with depressing oftenness. So it would, indeed, hurt pilots (and their passengers and crew) deeply.

It's often accompanied by warnings of conditions requiring different solutions being nevertheless very similar in sound, even when applying problem one's solution will make problem two worse.

On the seventh anniversary of Steve Jobs' death, we give you 7 times he served humanity and acted as an example to others

Steve the Cynic

Re: Classic Reg, keeping it classy

Vitriol I've always imagined in tastes like really, really oversteeped tea.

More likely that it tastes *exactly* like sulphuric acid.

Screwed SAP salesman scores $660,000 jury award

Steve the Cynic

Re: So SAP are still ahead?

They still pay him $145,000 less than he claimed.

They paid him about that much when they canned him, with a promise of the rest of what they claimed they owed him to come later, except it never came, so no, he couldn't claim that money in the suit.

Location, location, location... technologies under the microscope

Steve the Cynic

The value in anything further is pretty minimal, just joining someone to their previous transactions on a voluntary basis rather than, say, matching on credit card.

The value is that it allows you to see trends in the relationships between products, although a lot of those trends are fairly obvious anyway from just the aggregation of till receipts. And of course given that most of these cards *also* want to be able to send you emails and/or SMS with offers, it allows the store to probe the edges of your buying habits, a bit like the "other people who bought this thing also bought that thing" section on Amazon.

And linking by credit card numbers, while useful for most people, also doesn't catch people who use multiple cards and/or cash, and it's probably not allowed by the PCI rules.

Bombing raids during WWII sent out shockwaves powerful enough to alter the Earth's ionosphere

Steve the Cynic

Re: C'mon, we're all anoraks round here

At least it wasn't captioned "jets"

That reminds me of a story in the "Metro" (a free rag distributed on weekdays in Tube and London-bound stations) in about 2007. The story was about a German pilot whose aircraft had been shot down in 1942 and had damaged a church tower or something somewhere in East Anglia, and his subsequent visit there in the days before the story was printed. They attributed this shoot-down to "British jets."

Office 2019 lumbers to the stage once more as Microsoft promises future releases

Steve the Cynic

Yes, but that was also said about Adobe and the Creative Cloud and still everyone went out and signed straight up for it.

Not everyone went out and signed up for it.

Attentive readers may recall that something someone said reminded me that I should transfer my Acrobat (Writer) 8 license to my new Win10 PC.

So it was a fully paid-for copy of Acrobat 8, none of this cloud nonsense (because it came before Adobe succumbed to that particular madness), but of course it's so old that (a) it's no longer supported at all, and (b) apparently it's less than 100% functional on Win10, but not supported so there's no way it will ever be fixed.

What about an upgrade? Er... Um... Well, no, there's no way to license an up-to-date version of Acrobat on a one-off payment basis. There's no Adobe equivalent of the Office 2016 side of the 2016-vs-365 debate. It's *all* subscription.(1)

So, given that the reasons I got it in the first place are no longer relevant, the new PC is and will remain stubbornly devoid of Acrobat.

(1) The first time I saw a price for subscription-based software was 1987. I saw a price list for software licenses for IBM mainframes (the company I worked for had a big room full of large computers, including a 4381, some Vaxen, a Wang, a DG, and a variety of other now-extinct beasties).

Lotus 1-2-3's mainframe version(2) was priced at $11000 a month. Yes. eleven thousand a *month*.

(2) Yes, there was one. I didn't see it in action, but it did exist.

Turns out download speed isn't everything when streaming video on your smartphone

Steve the Cynic

What else do these top performers provide that improve video performance: lower latency, higher provision, what?

I would say that the two key metrics for "video performance" (the term's a little vague), once there's enough bandwidth available for the stream, would be jitter (crude definition: variation in latency) and packet loss. Both of those should be as low as feasible, and both are dependent on a wide range of stuff, of which the number of devices on the network *relative to the network equipment provision* is a major contributor. (That returns to the theme of 10:1 contention in a 100Mbps network being better than 1000:1 in a 1Gbps network.)

How an over-zealous yank took down the trading floor of a US bank

Steve the Cynic

Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

And still, for a menu item "Set XRLZP" with selectable settings nup/zup/gargl the help text reads "XRLZP settings". Correct?

It's been a while since I looked at it, but that does ring a bell.

Steve the Cynic

Many many moons ago, somewhere around 1995 or 1996, I accidentally (really) tried booting an already-installed Slackware 3.1 (I did say it was many moons ago) Linux(1) with an audio CD in the CD-ROM drive.

It was a proper Red-book audio CD since none of the later "innovations" about CDs were widespread at the time I bought it (which was, in turn, some time before 1995 - I bought my first CD player in 1987, ffs), and the 1.2.5 or maybe 1.2.13 kernel didn't like what the CD-ROM drive told it during the pre-init hardware detection phase, and promptly panicked.

I took the CD out and rebooted and all was well. Needless to say, I never again left a CD in the drive at boot time.

(1) A development machine for $JOB. Running Linux. In 1995. fvwm, tcsh, and a Pentium with the FDIV bug.

Steve the Cynic

Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

Sadly, that doesn't seem to have happened yet.

And yet the UEFI firmware on my new PC's motherboard has room for a mouse-driven GUI for the UEFI equivalent of BIOS Setup.

Steve the Cynic

Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

Who remembers the early days of the 80286, which had the A20 gate in the keyboard

You left out an important word here: "controller". The original IBM PC/AT used the keyboard *controller* (not the actual keyboard) to manage the gate that suppressed access to what was later called the "High Memory Area".

The reason was that the 80286 had what amounted to a bug in its implementation of "real address mode", where the CPU itself did not suppress the carry out of A19 in the addition that calculated the physical address from the segment:offset virtual address. (It made the emulation of an 8086/8 faulty, in that FFFF:0010 was not the same address as 0000:0000.)

You're alone in a room with the Windows 10 out-of-the-box apps. What do you do?

Steve the Cynic

Re: Not turn them in to apps.

If you really want barebones, try EDLIN. You need to be of a masochistic nature to fully appreciate it, though, and I think they may have finally removed it in Win 10.

As far as I know, it's still in 32-bit builds of Win10, but not (because it's still a DOS executable) in 64-bit builds.

Indeed, the Unreliable Source says so, for what that's worth.


Juniper's Contrail gets edgy, Cloudflare joins BGP club, and an $Important announcement

Steve the Cynic


Sorry to say that when I saw "RSDoS" as an abbreviation, the first thing I thought of was TRSDOS. I think that makes me old.


iFixit engineers have an L of a time pulling apart Apple's iPhone XS

Steve the Cynic

Well, obviously they are holding it wrong!

As I noted in response to one of Dabbsy's columns, round where I live, a lot of them probably *are* holding it wrong. The number of people I see with an ordinary slab-sized smartphone of any brand, alternating between speaking to the loudspeaker and listening to the microphone(1) just defies belief.

(1) No, I don't have that backwards. They hold the phone horizontally in front of their mouths with the mic end pointing away from them, then switch to horizontally at the side of their head with the mic pointing toward them and the speaker pointing directly away.

I want to buy a coffee with an app – how hard can it be?

Steve the Cynic

What - only £2.90 for a coffee? Not very hipster, is it?

I can get a double espresso from Starbucks near where I live for 3,60 €. (Sorry, it's in France, so that's how it's usually written. Except when it's 3,6 € or 3€60.) At the current exchange rate, that's not far from £2.90. But then again, a double espresso isn't remotely hipster, for which I am eternally grateful.

Steve the Cynic

followed by "500 Euros" which it then proceeded to give me!

Reminds me of my experience with BayBank in Massachusetts. This would have been the tail end of the 1980s, and their machines had the inexplicable habit of not giving smaller bills than $10, and certainly not giving coins, but requiring you to type in the number of cents you wanted to withdraw that was only allowed to be 00.

So my finger bounced once too often on the zero without me noticing. Well, until it proceeded to count out $500.00 in twenty dollar bills (and a couple of tens just because). It was so much that I had to do two deposits, since that much folding money wouldn't fit in one deposit envelope.

Steve the Cynic

Re: Memories of Not The Nine O Clock News

the AE card enthusiastically received everywhere with extra customer service

That of course would be a blatant lie if Amex put it in a real ad. For sure when I traveled to New York to visit the head office of my employer in 2004 and 2006, having a corporate Amex card got me rushed through reception at the St Regis (I kid you not. Look it up.(1)) while my colleague who'd traveled on the same plane but tried to use his own card... well, let's just say that he had a hard time of it.

But in general, shops don't like Amex, or just plain don't accept it, and the reason is universally that Amex charges them about twice what Mastercard and VISA charge them. I have a vivid memory of trying to pay with something with my brand-new Amex card (in 1989, Amex green(2)) and the guy at the till looking at me like I was handing him a week-dead fish.

(1) My company put enough people up there that they were able to negotiate a discount, obviously. They charged my room rate at about $270 instead of the $900 they would have charged me if I had been staying on my own account. Er. That's $900 *a*night*. Breakfast extra.

(2) They send me a pre-approved application form, so I filled it in and in due course got the card. The following year, they sent me a similar form to get a gold card. I was only barely not a student any more, but it was fun being able to flash an Amex Gold card.

Remember when Apple's FaceTime stopped working years ago? Yeah, that was deliberate

Steve the Cynic

Re: iOS7 was when I jumped ship

You might want to look up virtual machines some day.

The point of jumping *from* Windows is surely so that you avoid all future contact with it. Running Windows in a VM so you can get away from running Windows doesn't seem to make a lot of sense.

Disclaimer. I have an unnecessarily large pile of computers at home, and they mostly run Windows, except the pair of RPis that run Raspbian. (Getting Win10 IoT Core running seemed like way more work than I wanted to expend, but even then one of them would be running Raspbian anyway.)

Steve the Cynic

I'm not sure I'd call myself a fanboi, but I have a "three year" policy. I bought an iPhone 4, and upgraded to a 5S about three years later. That in turn got upgraded to a 7 two years ago, so the next upgrade won't be before this time next year. Well, unless they do something daft like raising the minimum size. A 7 is just small enough to fit in my front pocket.

And the Watch probably won't get upgraded. If it breaks or otherwise stops working, I'll go back to dumbwatches.

30-up: You know what? Those really weren't the days

Steve the Cynic

Re: vi for beginners

:e! reloads the file

Only if you cancel insert mode before typing it...

Steve the Cynic

Re: "you were seriously stuck up a gum tree"

Dejanews was the Google of the 90s

The irony in this is ... sickening. Dejanews stopped being Dejanews when Google bought the company and transformed it into Google Groups.

Steve the Cynic

Re: How the frak did she do that ?

What HTML magickry enabled ou dearest Verity to do that reversed-inversed type ?


˙ǝuoʎɹǝʌǝ ǝɹǝɥʇ ollǝH

Final edit: /ɯoɔ˙ʇxǝʇuʍopǝpᴉsdn˙ʍʍʍ//:dʇʇɥ

Boffins bash Google Translate for sexism

Steve the Cynic

Re: Correct translation

Waitaminnit... it’s almost as if you’re not fully sharing the outrage here.

Well I'm certainly not "sharing the outrage". The study, or perhaps its conclusions are based on ignorance. If there's no overt clue, then the pronoun *should* be translated as "he" / "him" / "his", but the "other" versions of those words.

Yes, there are two versions of "he" (etc.):

* "he" that means "male person" (or occasionally male non-human animal).

* "he" that means "person of unspecified or unknown sex".

The second one is somewhat falling into disuse because people seem hell-bent on confusing the two and concluding that the speaker means the first when he(1) meant the second.

(1) In the second meaning, thanks.

(Partial irrelevance.) In French, the "person of unspecified or unknown sex" pronoun is "elle" = "she" because "personne" = "person" is grammatically feminine.

Anon man suing Google wants crim conviction to be forgotten

Steve the Cynic

Re: Right to be forgotten

I don't know if this is still the case but there were certain libraries, including that of my old university, which were supposed to get a copy of everything printed and published.

Yes, that's a specific obligation that six libraries in the UK have(1), notably the Bodleian in Oxford and the British Library in London. "Legal Depost libraries" is the name. But only six in the UK have this obligation attached to them (and in fact the obligation is on the publisher of the book rather than on the library.

Other libraries have a choice as to which books they have in stock and which of those they put on the shelves, and the librarian (or at least the head librarian - the staff behind the counter probably aren't involved in the decision-making) is responsible for that choice. It's not his fault that the book contains sedition or eroticism or whatever, but it is his choice that does or does not put it in the library's stock and if so, does or does not keep it in a back room so that people who want to borrow it must ask.

And of course those legal deposit libraries have the "shelves or back room" option, just like the ordinary libraries in small towns do.

(1) The same concept exists in other countries.

Steve the Cynic

Re: Right to be forgotten

The librarian isn't responsible for the content of a book you object to.

No, but the librarian *is* responsible for its presence (or, in the opposite case, its non-presence) in the library.

GlobalFoundries scuttles 7nm chip plans claiming no demand

Steve the Cynic

An interesting (to me, anyway) thought on 7nm...

The Unreliable Source claims that a silicon atom is about 0.1nm across, and the Si-Si bond length, according to other, possible less unreliable, sources is around a quarter of a nanometre.

That makes a 7nm process feature less than 30 atoms wide...

Experimental 'insult bot' gets out of hand during unsupervised weekend

Steve the Cynic

Re: At University at Durham (and Newcastle)..

..they ran a slightly obscure OS on their s370 called MTS (the Michigan Terminal System).

Unusually for a mainframe OS of the time (I was there in 1978 on), it drove interactive terminal sessions, and our use was controlled by accounting limits. Not surprisingly, these limits were, well, limiting.

Ah, yes, MTS. I remember it well. I passed two years as a beginning student at RPI (the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, aka "the Tute Screw", in Troy NY) in 1984-1986. The student mainframe, an IBM 3081D (for "dual" = dual processor, nicknamed "Sybil"(1)), ran MTS instead of an IBM OS, and yes, we had accounting limits turned on, even for class-specific accounts. It was annoying when I had some time free during the day and I could burn through my current batch of CPU-time pseudo-dollars without the slightest difficulty in an hour or so of compile-run-edit-compileagain.

(1) See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirley_Ardell_Mason for why that might be.

How's that encryption coming, buddy? DNS requests routinely spied on, boffins claim

Steve the Cynic

Re: whatismydnsresolver.com

When I follow that link

I followed the link. Firefox complained thusly:

whatismydnsresolver.com uses an invalid security certificate.

The certificate is only valid for code.jinzihao.me.

Thanks, but no thanks.

As it turns out, no, you can't just run an unlicensed Bitcoin money exchange

Steve the Cynic

Re: Why not use a Mexican Bank?

Zetas and others

That may actually be the reason why not. The said "Zetas and others" may well want a cut, and the penalty for not giving them a cut (in the money sense) will be them giving him a cut. In the "throat" sense.