* Posts by Terry 6

3616 posts • joined 31 Jul 2009

Windows Product Activation – or just how many numbers we could get a user to tell us down the telephone

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: The whole activation scheme for a lot of stuff drives me nuts.

The way I use the extra HDDs (My aging Dell has room for 5) is that when I replaced my last PC I kept the data by slapping it into the new one, nuking the C: drive for extra space and carrying on using it as my backup drive. Automated backups.

Then when I salvaged a HDD from a TV recorder - that went in too. That contains a drive image or two (Macrium Reflect).

I now have another hardly used HDD and it's tempting to replace one of the DVD writers- they aren't much use anymore. The only things holding me back are that I long since lost the bit of facia and that one of them ( the original one) might be tied to Windows Activation.

<yay> back on topic </yay>

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: The whole activation scheme for a lot of stuff drives me nuts.

I slapped a second DVD (salvaged) drive in my PC a few years back. Now hardly even use one. I'm thinking of removing one and slapping in another HDD (also salvaged) instead.

Police drone plunged 70ft into pond after operator mashed pop-up that was actually the emergency cut-out button

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Fail safe?

iow there is a reason why the button that's inside a red box with a glass cover and a line that says "In case of emergency break glass" is inside a red box with a glass cover and a line that says "In case of emergency break glass".

The red box may not be possible, but the reason for it remains.

Ditto the big red lever with a pin holding it in place and a sign saying "In case of emergency....etc"

Terry 6 Silver badge

The real one is the half litre of water and the 8oz steak

Terry 6 Silver badge

Americans are consistent. It'd be lbs and feet.

In the UK we mix the measurements any old way.

Our petrol is priced in ltrs but our consumption measured in miles per gallon.

We weigh ourselves in Stones and lbs but our sugar and flour in Kgs and our recipes in either.

We measure distances commonly in Km - unless we don't, except on official road signs - always miles and yards, and Satnav can be either and may even use decimals of miles- or fractions of miles or possibly miles and yards or feet.

We even combine them. More than once I've heard the likes of " it's 5cm over 3ft".

Terry 6 Silver badge
Pint

Re: Touch screen emergency shut off?

Spot on. I'd have upvoted 1000 times if I could.

Terry 6 Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: Touch screen emergency shut off?

This was my thought. Nothing expensively destructive or dangerous on any device should consist of a pretty little picture activated by tapping - (even if it takes three taps)

Good old form defeating function- again.

The Novell NetWare box keeps rebooting over and over again yet no one has touched it? We're going on a stakeout

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Fluorescents...

OH God. The carpet! The shock!

In our (council) office I got such a conditioned reflex I couldn't even go near a radiator or door knob without great mental effort. It was a flinch moment going through one doorway that was close to a radiator.

God that sudden ZAP if I got too near some metal. Decades later it can come back to haunt me, like getting out of the car, slight Zap of static and I'm back not wanting to touch metal for days.

Apologies for the wait, we're overwhelmed. Yes, this is the hospital. You need to what?! Do a software licence audit?

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: In the peak of an epidemic

Interestingly, NHS staff doing doing outreach work, e.g. in schools, are required to don full PPE. It'd be weird if IT companies were sending their staff into hospitals without it.

Two wrongs don't make a right: They make a successful project sign-off

Terry 6 Silver badge

Neighbour of a wife's friend will do the trick too.

Terry 6 Silver badge

The factories I knew, or knew of ( often through dad) were all small - up to 1 or 200 staff.

A consistent thread is that the owners were second or third generation family, with almost all the equipment and the reputation having been built up by the previous gens. Speaking to them and hearing them it was pretty clear that they thought that a) their grandparents' business sense was hereditary,so they had massive over confidence in their abilities and didn't need to take any notice of the managers who were meant to be running the place for them, and b) the business owed them a living but they didn't owe it any investment ( or effort). They saw their factories like an old cow that would keep giving milk.

Terry 6 Silver badge

It's from Parkinson's Law. Not the famous one about work expanding to fit the time available, but another, later one. I can't remember now whether it was in a book he wrote or another essay. About the efficiency of committees. He says that they will rush through a major decision like building a new power station then spend hours on something they can understand, like a new bike shed.

Terry 6 Silver badge

I wonder if this is an English disease, or more general round the world. It's a story, in various versions, I've met before many times. Companies that would rather waste significant amounts of cash in lost production than invest in new machinery. Sometimes it comes coupled with manufacturers trying to bullshit clients that substandard production meets spec.

My late father, a manager in the rag trade, went through a couple of these. In one he spent more time keeping ageing sewing machines working than he did managing his factory. In another he was i/c quality control. A significant amount of stuff was substandard due to machines been worn and out of alignment. Dad would remove these items from dispatch, knowing that the client (M&S) would reject the entire batch otherwise. The directors would then put the stuff back in the dispatch and send it off to M&S.

Who sent it back, of course. And his bosses would go blazing mad, raging against M&S, the staff, dad's manager ( and I'm guessing dad himself, though he never mentioned that) but never accepting responsibility. They lost that contract of course- and it was their main one because it had been very lucrative so they'd taken on more and more work and lost smaller clients by not bothering with them. So they went bust.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Talking of getting it wrong

2. Is probably in the post.

Pizza and beer night out the window, hours trying to sort issue, then a fresh pair of eyes says 'See, the problem is...'

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Proof reader

Our writing is almost wholly muscle memory based. (Hint, we only try to spell words we can't write).

The Behaviourists that mandate Phonics for reading also expect it to be used for spelling- where it works even less well since then the unreliability and inconsistency of the rules is further complicated by both differences in pronunciation one-to-many mapping. We don't all make the same sounds* for words and there are umpteen ways of encoding many sounds.

*The only rs in "bath" are the ones that get washed.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Proof reader

In other words, since your Phonics system doesn't work that well in the real world, change the world.

(Hint, most people learn to read English whatever the method taught).

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Proof reader

Second part of your assertion has some truth, subject to defining "whole word". As I'd commented, the "Look and Say" approach I was taught with was not good ( though it still worked for me and most others). That (false) comparison though is often used as a way to justify the Phonic method.

The actual alternative to phonics (which is a Behaviourist approach) is rooted in cognitive psychology and is far more effective. The "evidence" for Phonics is almost all circular, i.e. teach kids to decode and test them on their decoding skills.

Since you make your assertion in such a dogmatic way perhaps you'd lay out your qualifications.

Mine- psychology degree, PGCE for psychology graduates specialising in the teaching of reading, thirty + years as a reading specialist with 20+ of those years receiving formal regular training in the latest research in literacy development. Deputy head teacher and literacy specialist. And post retirement was a local authority advisory teacher (reading) for a couple of years.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: And so on. and so on.

Partly that. Partly that standardised spellings were a late-comer to the party. Early dictionary writers selecting what they thought would be the best spelling for any given word - not always agreeing and not always keeping to that choice anyway, as fashion, pronunciation and errors crept in.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: "Perpetually understaffed IT team"

This is not dissimilar to the local authority insisting that IT purchases had to come via a purchasing department, which told us what product we had to buy (through them) and added a percentage to pay for their cost. But their recommended purchases were invariably more expensive than I could have bought the same items elsewhere - even before their charge. The purchasing officer had no concept of tco, so just bought the cheapest device that would do the job, even if it wasn't going to last more than a year or two, or would be inefficient to run, with our level of usage. He was dismally unaware of competing products, too. So in effect the tiny budget allowed to us by the authority, supposedly calculated on a needs basis, would be significantly diminished, because of course they didn't revise our budget to allow for the extra costs. Well they couldn't could they, because that would be an admission that the system was not a cost saving for the frontline services they were supposed to be providing. Oh and most of his purchases came from the same catalogue based supplier that we'd been told we must never use.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Proof reader

This week's New Scientist quotes some -presumed algorithmic - proof read article saying a dog should have "...all 4 feet (1.2m) on the floor".

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Proof reader

Maybe your bother-in-law needs to visit your mother -in-law.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: And so on. and so on.

Yes, there are so many of these.

Another.

When the English tongue we speak.

Why is break not rhymed with freak?

Will you tell me why it's true

We say sew but likewise few?

And the maker of the verse,

Cannot rhyme his horse with worse?

Beard is not the same as heard

Cord is different from word.

Cow is cow but low is low

Shoe is never rhymed with foe.

Think of hose, dose,and lose

And think of goose and yet with choose

Think of comb, tomb and bomb,

Doll and roll or home and some.

Since pay is rhymed with say

Why not paid with said I pray?

Think of blood, food and good.

Mould is not pronounced like could.

Wherefore done, but gone and lone -

Is there any reason known?

To sum up all, it seems to me

Sound and letters don't agree.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Proof reader

Teaching phonics will work- to some extent- and is almost essential as a part of learning to read. Kids need basic phonic decoding skills, for the occasionally completely unknown/unpredictable words,or unusual names, or for the first word in an unexpected phrase.

Every method will work- to some extent. The way I was taught is the least effective of all (Look and Say- bloody awful method), but most kids learnt to read at that time. Our brains make the best of what they're given.

Phonic reading/learning is inefficient, because our brains work faster at anticipation and self-correction than they do at focussed decoding, and our eyes do not normally scan linearly. also, in English the number of words that are either not phonically regular are contradictory or complex is considerable. e.g. I read a book today, I will read another book tomorrow" see also { lead dead head} v {lead mead bead}. Or post/lost/most. down/own come/some/home cone/done And so on. and so on.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Proof reader

Right, beer holding time.

Despite various governments mandating Phonics as a reading method - under pressure from various lobbies who market that stuff for considerable profit- we don't actually make much use of individual letters.

Just as we think we see all the elements in our field of vision so we think we see every letter in every word, and in sequence. We don't our;eyes fixate on key elements in words and phrases and our brain fills in the gaps, visual and semantic.When we read we are actually thinking we're seeing what we expect to be there. The behaviourist/Phonics stuff is pretty much a nonsense, forced upon education by a political lobby. And supported by an "it stands to reason dunnit" perception that that is what we do.

In this context, proof reading, what this means is that we see what we expect to see. We think we're looking at every word/letter/symbol on the page, but we only truly see part and as long as the remainder isn't jarringly different we just perceive it as being what it ought to be. The wavy red line under misspellings may even be a potential disadvantage, making us less likely to perceive from/form errors etc. because we don't take the extra visual step of looking closely for errors. I was taught to proof read my stuff by starting with the last word on the page and looking backwards..Professional proof readers don't actually read the text they say

Similar effects are seen in research on witness perception- like the famous one where a gorilla walks through a game of catch and the witnesses viewing a video of this can fail to see it, or the one where pursuers fail to see a a third person as they go past. And so on.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: ~/.procmailrc

You have just summed up the issue that so damages so much modern technology, and not just in IT,. i.e. A functional system being totally fucked up by a marketing dept. who think it's all about the look (form over function). Whether it's the often noted ( in El Reg at least) invisible [on] switch hidden in the moulding or stupidity like the display and controls for my fridge freezer being hidden inside the fridge section, with a concealed hatch cover over the actual controls (in case it's too obvious where to find it).

And of course the generations old one of putting the serial number in the least accessible place - even though it is going to be needed any time the manufacturer or supplier is contacted. It goes on.....

Be careful where you log into GitHub: Dev visits Iran, opens laptop, gets startup's entire account shut down

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: That's the easy part

Clearly one of the forms of authority you dislike is SPaG* (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar).

*SPaG is now a specific bit of the English National Curriculum from 5 up and marks are allocated in GCSE exams.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Artificial problem generators

Unfortunately, they do, because the rescuers don't know the circumstances.

And in the context of unregulated freedom, you can't demand that the suicidal idiots sign a "Do not rescue me" waiver before they set off up a mountain in trainers and Gucci sunglasses. Because you can't make them sign/stop them going, because of that self-same "freedom".

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Artificial problem generators

Just two further small comments re;

The freedom to learn from your own experiences rather than be governed by the insecurities and fears of others.

1) Someone has to go out and rescue the idiot who climbs a mountain with the wrong kit, at the wrong time. Or goes out in a tiny boat to sail round the world without decent maps

And so on.

2) "Insecurities and fears of others" ==common sense in the above case and many others.

If you're a WhatsApp user, you'll have to share your personal data with Facebook's empire from next month – or stop using the chat app

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Problem is.....

Interesting. As far as I'm aware all UK ISPs charge extra for rich SMS messages. There have even been issues with emojis getting converted to images by the software and so incurring charges.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: But hey, $2bn, I get it. That buys you a lot of morals, apparently.

use that money to start up another whatsapp type app,

Even if they had the will to, you can bet your last penny that there will be a legally binding contract that makes bloody sure they do nothing of the sort.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: That's a bold strategy

I do use my idle moments ( I have far too many of these nowadays) to muddy the data waters. I Google search for random items, for example.

I know it doesn't really change matters in the great scheme of things, but it pleases me.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Problem is.....

Ubiquity is pretty much a deal breaker. Two reasons; the great majority of ordinary users only use what everyone else they know is using ( so many buy IPhones because so many buy IPhones and so on) and a messaging programme needs to be able to communicate with the other person, so a niche system is of limited or no value in general use.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Problem is.....

Since SMS messaging requires lots of money to send anything beyond basic texts, Whattsapp is the only commonly used alternative if you want to send or receive a simple message with a picture. (Or email I guess - but that's a bit of a palava when you're just using a phone to send a text.).

Common uses are things like checking shopping items ("Is this the right coffee?" [Picture]) Or meeting places ("I'll meet you by the tall oak tree [picture]"). Or sharing an image of a message [screenshot].

To do any of that with SMS requires substantial cost over and above the phone contract allocation.

And if there are alternatives to Whatsapp no one else is using them, so they might as well not exist. Ubiquity is important.

Deloitte's Autonomy auditor 'lost objectivity' when looking at Brit software firm's disputed books, says regulator

Terry 6 Silver badge

I was thinking about this. I have no knowledge of any of these aspects so tried to understand how HP could have been defrauded, from the facts given. I can see that the books were cooked and HP given false values. I can't see how anyone would fail to be aware that a company was making and selling lots of stuff. And come to that- wouldn't there be a stock list, production locations and stuff like that

It's as if bean counter spake unto bean counter and no one actually looked at the company itself.

Confessions at a Christmas do: 'That time I took down an entire neighbourhood'

Terry 6 Silver badge

On the contrary, you prove the point..

That's a highly specific short command, used with inclusive arguments. And is the very opposite of a long command with an optional argument at the end, that will screw up a a system if the end argument is omitted or mangled.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: What in the...

In a sense that's not even the real problem - whether the user should know is not the main route to the issue. Any user even if it's Linus T or Bill G will sometimes make an error. An error of recall, or of physical movement. At which point robust software would say "no" rather than "OK boss, I'll delete my entire record and close down the city".

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: What in the...

It's not really about user ignorance in this case, just normal fat thumb/ motor memory malfunction, i.e. hitting [return} before typing the defining input. A known common danger that should not be allowed to lead to dire consequences.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Even I. Not a true techie, who hasn't written any decent code for a number of decades, wouldn't have written an instruction that allowed a general command to run just by missing a limiting input from a specific one. At the very least I'd mandate an input variable at the end of the line- maybe "all" if that's what was needed.ELSE Print "error".

It doesn't take much planning to realise that from time to time someone is going to hit [return] before reaching the end. Because it's something that people just do

New year, new rant: Linus Torvalds rails at Intel for 'killing' the ECC industry

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Maximise Profit Margins.

Maximise short term profit margins

FTFY

The curse of knowing a bit about IT: 'Could you just...?' and 'No I haven't changed anything'

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Printers attached to PC's

My flimsy Brother HL-1110 laser printer has lasted for years. has been loaned out/given to my late sister and my student daughter, is now sat USB'd to my main PC with the colour Canon wireless multi function consigned to a spare room.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Being The IT Guy

It just stops them installing stuff.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Printers attached to PC's

I've written this before, but I love an excuse to say it again.

I stopped trusting HP printers some years ago when an update made my HP printer useless.

It failed on the update because a specific dll couldn't be installed, because the previously installed dll wouldn't remove itself from the computer.

I went through the labyrinthine multi level uninstall routines, which wouldn't remove this fucking .dll.

I tried every trick I knew to remove it manually. It wouldn't remove.

With it in place the install fell over. Wouldn't skip over writing it. Just came to a crashing halt. BUT it was the same fucking version in the new install package

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Being The IT Guy

Wife/husband/partner/an other member of household is going to be on a user account not an admin and non-the wiser about the difference. Safer that way for all(-even self- arguably) to be on user accounts.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: XP and network discovery?

The point about XP was that it was impressive when the bloody things would actually see each other over a network

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: XP and network discovery?

UUUH is it new year already?

Why's there no icon for head on hands?

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Sorting other people's stuff

Added to which they probably got sold a machine by a PC World droid. The machine will have Porsche claims but Morris Minor performance and inadequate storage at a price that would have got a device twice as fast if they'd shopped around with the same diligence as they used for their groceries.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: XP and network discovery?

Yes, I can remember in XP times successfully connecting a PC to my little home network, then totally failing to get a second one to be seen, with the same settings and stuff.

Or random combinations of seen and not seen; PC A could see B but not C. C could see A and B but B couldn't see A ( Or something of that sort- it's thankfully a long and distant bad memory).

Yes, Microsoft Access was a recalcitrant beast, but the first step is to turn the computer on

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Yep

That's what that says.

The house (re)pays a percentage as winnings. The house keeps the rest. When you win you aren't beating the house's odds. You are beating the other mug punters to the share that the house allows out. The more you play the more the house skims off, which is why the fixed odds machines in betting shops work so fast - the money mill has to keep rolling. It's why casino dealers work so fast, spin and rake, spin and rake.

That's why casinos and bookmakers love big winners (even when the horsey press will talk about the bookmakers taking a beating or some such nonsense)- because they know that a) the punter will probably give it all back, that b) they've kept their edge ( unless they're very small and haven't laid the risk off) and c) it'll encourage other mug punters to throw cash their way

You never beat the house on a slot machine because the house always keeps its percentage edge. The most you can hope for is that the other mug punters will have filled up the machine ahead of you.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Yep

The first of these is not a "cheat". It's standard that all gaming devices have a percentage return. I'm only surprised that it's as high as 80%. I think at one time there was a minimum payout level controlled by the UK Gaming authorities, but their website states that there isn't now (a result of deregulation maybe). The figure has to be stated though.

This is their web page on the matter.

https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/for-the-public/Safer-gambling/Consumer-guides/Machines-Fruit-machines-FOBTs/Gaming-machine-payouts-RTP.aspx

In effect you are gambling against the other mugs punters, not the machine operators, to get the winnings out.

The other component " The big cheat switch that would NEVER allow you to win if the money inside the box was running low" did surprise me - but then the same device/controller/firmware may be sold into less regulated markets, I guess. Or maybe it's one of those fiddles that fell between the cracks in the regs.

*In my youth I worked in a casino for a few months, till they had sense and got rid of me. I was rubbish when it came to carefully recording figures on a paper spreadsheet ( or a digital one for that matter).

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: "You mean her PC needs to be on in order to read the hard drive?"

...or the quality?

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