* Posts by AndrueC

4700 posts • joined 6 Aug 2009

Trouble hiring? Consider loosening your remote work policy

AndrueC Silver badge
Happy

Thirty plus years of programming experience here. The only reason I'm reducing my hours to a four day week instead of retiring next March is that I have an enlightened employer that allows their software developers to work from home as much as they want. In practice we all work from home all the time apart from an occasional meet-up day.

Managers need to get a clue. Working from home does not mean skiving from home. Me having my bum on a company chair in no way means that I am working. Pay me for the work I complete not for the fact you can see me (as if managers ever deign to visit the likes of us).

AI's most convincing conversations are not what they seem

AndrueC Silver badge
Meh

Re: The real issue

We just sort of assume they are. Consciousness is a really hard problem - quite possibly one that is literally impossible to solve from the inside.

Yup. An analogy I've used is that it's like determining how many routers there are between you and a target host. Initially you'd think that traceroute would tell you. But it will be wrong (almost certainly anyway). Because that's just the TCP/IP layer. That traffic is usually encapsulated inside another protocol and we don't have the tools to interrogate that layer.

Traceroute will tell me that the route out for me consists of:

<my router> -> <ISP edge router> -> <LINX> -> ...

Completely failing to detect or report on the router inside my DSL cabinet and the router at my head-end exchange etc. etc.

The good news is that if you prepared to draw a line and say 'here are the limits of human thought' then you can say we are sentient and conscious. But if you don't accept that limitation then you cannot know.

AndrueC Silver badge
Meh

Re: Chinese Room

We only know that brains think they think. Which is a somewhat circular argument.

Leave that sentient AI alone a mo and fix those racist chatbots first

AndrueC Silver badge
Happy

I taught my budgerigar to say "ploppy bottom" because that saved me the bother.

It's weird in a way. We had a female budgie as a pet when I was young and it never learnt to imitate any of us. Couldn't even get the hang of a wolf whistle. But say "goodnight Chirpie"(*) and she'd head back to her cage. My Beekle could imitate several phrases and other sound effects (he had a really good Kenneth Williams cackle) but despite me saying "Goodnight Beekle" every night he never once seemed to attach any significance to it.

The current state of AI probably sits below the level of a budgie. So you can probably teach them to say "ploppy bottom" but I wouldn't expect much more from them.

(*)Yeah, not very original.

Thunderbird is coming to Android – in K-9 Mail form

AndrueC Silver badge
Happy

Interesting, I like K-9 - I've been using it for several years now. One of the few client apps that can survive Android's attempts to put it to sleep.

I'm still on an old version of TB though (60.90.1) because of the Virtual Identity plugin that I rely on which is not compatible with newer versions.

Next major update of Windows 11 prepares for launch

AndrueC Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Win11 22H2 hardware requirements will be relaxed

From my laptop (Win 11 arrived last year):

OS Name Microsoft Windows 11 Pro

System Model HP ProBook 470 G5

Processor Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-8250U CPU @ 1.60GHz, 1800 Mhz, 4 Core(s), 8 Logical Processor(s)

I bought it summer 2018 and it was fairly cheap so I'm guessing it's over four years old.

AndrueC Silver badge
Meh

Re: I'm surprised that it's not appeared on more ordinary people's machines

I guess the general public aren't upgrading PCs as much, so it won't go on those older machines.

It slipped onto my four year old HP laptop without a murmur. Make of that what you will :)

Makers of ad blockers and browser privacy extensions fear the end is near

AndrueC Silver badge
Happy

Re: Chrome is the hellmouth

At this point, a huge shout of shame at a certain pizza chain, named after a game; where payments cannot be processed unless you allow FaceBook to track you - seriously.

Eh? You mean the dotty tile game? I've been buying Pizzas from them for years and they've never asked me for anything except my CC details and address.

I don't care if they do track me on FB - I don't have an account and never have had. Maybe that's where you're going wrong ;)

They've never sent me spam either. I would know because the email address I gave them has their name in it as part of my DEA anti-spam defence. I did get a couple of 'your order is on the way..' emails but I edited my preferences and now don't even get an order confirmation.

Overall I like their service. I can buy two pizzas for £20, eat four slices then freeze the rest as mid-morning snacks for the next couple of weeks. That's a pretty good deal(*).

(*)Yeah it's junk food but meh..it's my only junk food vice and I only indulge every couple of months or so.

AndrueC Silver badge
Meh

Re: Freedom of choice

I had no idea how common ads were on YouTube until I tried to use it on a TV in a holiday cottage. I'd vaguely heard about them but assumed that was only on official channels. As a casual user that only watches YouTube if a search happens to turn up an interesting looking video I assumed I was just not being shown them.

Shows how good UBlock Origin is.

At the moment. I detest all advertising so if this API change cripples UO I will have to look elsewhere.

Japan's asteroid probe reportedly found 20 amino acids

AndrueC Silver badge
Happy

Re: A statistician would argue ....

And in the long run not having technology is a sure fire way to extinction as well. Just ask the dinosaurs.

A surprisingly good read with a very emotional scene at one point. I read it first many years ago, sadly also a little too topical again.

IBM ends funding for employee retirement clubs

AndrueC Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: Warning: Old-Git Post

You're sorry that hundreds, possibly thousands of people, are enjoying a facility that caters to the hobby they love? Presumably because you don't like it?

Are you narcissistic or a manager?

Not everyone on this planet finds pleasure in the same things you do and our species benefits from the variety. Stop being a grouch and accept that other people have the right to their own hobbies and interests.

GitHub saved plaintext passwords of npm users in log files, post mortem reveals

AndrueC Silver badge
Facepalm

One of the first lessons junior devs get pummelled into them ( or they should if their mentors are worth their salt ) is never, ever put anything in a repo you don't want to share, even private repos.

This is why I never swear in source code. There is a (probably apocryphal) story about a software developer who worked at a bank. While testing a mailshot he had a bit of a laugh to relieve the monotony. Unfortunately he forgot to tidy his code before he released it. Consequently the banks top 10% of clients got a letter starting:

Dear Rich Bastard,

....

Spam is back with a vengeance. Luckily we can't read any of it

AndrueC Silver badge
Happy

Disposable Email Addresses are working well for me and have done for well over a decade. I run my own mail server so can operate a default allow (only needing my attention on the rare occasion when an address 'goes bad') and most importantly can filter by RCPT TO rather than the highly untrustable 'TO:' field.

What's occasionally interesting is to check my server logs. Email addresses that I ceased to use years ago are still getting spam sent to them even though they've been rejecting incoming email all that time. Apparently spammers are ignorant or don't care. Probably the latter since they can charge marketing gits for those addresses even though they are useless. Two shitty groups of people kicking each other - works for me.

Mind you on the subject of shitty people one also to wonder at those trying to break into my server:

21/3/2022 15:57:43.013 - Client:62.74.7.40 State:RcptTo Action:Reject Rule:Reject general crap Size:0 MAILFROM:b054a60fc9eb086@???? Recipients:(b054a60fc9eb086@?????)

There might be someone called 'b054a60fc9eb086' living somewhere but they haven't asked me to create an account for them yet. And how amusing that they are apparently emailing themselves.. The joys of SMTP.

Hmmm. This is an interesting one. I remember that there was one company I got so fed up with that I changed my email address to something different...

21/3/2022 19:47:52.656 - Client:178.202.191.181 State:RcptTo Action:Reject Rule:Reject general crap Size:0 MAILFROM:spamming.assholes@???? Recipients:(spamming.assholes@?????)

In record year for vulnerabilities, Microsoft actually had fewer

AndrueC Silver badge
Meh

But by and large the consumers don't want the hassle of a secure system. It's probably one of the bigger reasons why we still haven't reached (nor got close to) 'The year of Linux on the desktop'.

Consumers want the easy life. To most of them a computer should be an invisible assistant that gives them access to the world. They have no interest in the computer itself and don't wish to get involved with it. Windows does a better job in that respect that Linux. Sure it does so by exposing the users to various technical risks but they don't care. That's human nature - live for the moment and ignore the future.

Build it right or build it to sell.

Amazon puts 'creepy' AI cameras in UK delivery vans

AndrueC Silver badge
Meh

Re: Amazon Logistics - worst of the lot ?

I've had a mix. Usually if it's a van it's a grey Amazon van. But a lot of stuff seems to be delivered in private vehicles (that might be what 'Amazon Logistics' is). I get the impression that people can sign up with Amazon and just drive their car to the nearest warehouse and pick up a load of parcels. Presumably those people aren't going to have to worry about cameras watching them.

Start your engines: Windows 11 ready for broad deployment

AndrueC Silver badge
Happy

So far it's working well. The only issue I've had is random tooltips when the mouse is near the task bar. I still can't quite work out HP's strategy, For about a year it couldn't output sound from its speakers so I bought a USB speaker but now that's sorted by an update. Rather to my surprise it seems that HP still consider the laptop to be worth supporting.

Yay.

AndrueC Silver badge
Meh

I was surprised that my nearly four year old HP Pro Book 470 upgraded without a complaint. I just woke it up one day and it was offering to do the dirty so I let it.

The sad state of Linux desktop diversity: 21 environments, just 2 designs

AndrueC Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: And another thing

Slack also removed the up/down arrows on either end in the Windows client.

AndrueC Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Not that unreasonable

Even modern improvements over the old torque converter based auto boxes, like DSG, are heavy, expensive and complex.

CVT boxes are smaller, simpler and cheaper. Whether that be belt or the planetary gear based system that Toyota use.

AndrueC Silver badge
Happy

Re: Not that unreasonable

Historically (I don't know how true it is these days), automatics used more fuel than manuals.

Oh it's true but the keyword is history. Most modern automatics are more fuel efficient, especially the CVT variants.

There is no way any human driver with a conventional gear box can keep the engine at the exact, perfect RPM like a CVT can. And if you want performance then adjust the programming As David Coulthard once had the chance to prove..

Every time you hear the RPMs drop while changing gear your car is unpowered and is moving from 'too high RPM' to 'too low RPM'. Mine just sits at 'perfect RPM' all the time ;)

AndrueC Silver badge
Joke

Re: Why are they all the same?

..the year of the Linux tool box.

Fully automated AI networks less than 5 years away, reckons Juniper CEO

AndrueC Silver badge

Jeffrey Snover claims Microsoft demoted him for inventing PowerShell

AndrueC Silver badge
Meh

Re: I would get it fired for inventing Powershell

Several years ago I was writing software that required me to test against several enterprise backup packages. One of them had a UI that appeared to have been generated by parsing the output of the command line help for tar. Even down to some options effectively being duplicated.

I can't remember which one it was now. Like most of its ilk it was complicated and unwieldy to use.

AndrueC Silver badge
Happy

Re: I would get it fired for inventing Powershell

Taking you all the way from a script to a user32.dll method. I don't know whether to applaud PS for that or run away screaming :)

AndrueC Silver badge
Meh

Re: I would get it fired for inventing Powershell

..plus you can call into .NET assemblies. We've used it to knock up test harnesses and to write simple utilities to support our .NET applications. Sometimes it's quicker than writing yet another .NET application.

There are times it can thwart though. At a recent meeting we got stuck trying to get the value of a variable passed to an external application. We could echo it to the screen but couldn't figure out how to get it expanded in a command line. It being the end of the day was probably a factor in that but it's a pretty trivial thing to have defeated half a dozen software developers.

Trying and failing to update Visual Studio? You aren't alone

AndrueC Silver badge
Unhappy

Sounds like the normal VS experience. Long waits with little information then abject failure. It's a powerful tool but Lordy the experience of using it sucks. There's times I think it's been designed to put obstacles in my way. I actually attribute it as the reason for me finally starting the retirement process.

What a claim to fame for an IDE - it's driven a 30-year software developer into retirement.

The end of the iPod – last model available 'while supplies last'

AndrueC Silver badge
Meh

Re: Still use my ipod

My ipod stays connected to my car. I have a playlist that takes me months to go through.

I just left my Classic on random album shuffle. When that iPod died I got a Touch but that meant paying £1 for a random shuffle app. Then the touch started to get iffy (possibly due to compatibility issues with my new Toyota) so for a short while I dabbled with USB but:

* Toyota's player doesn't support album shuffle.

* When the power is cut to the unit (eg; when serviced) it restarts from the first track on the stick so I only ever heard the first few dozen albums. Also does it if the stick is removed and since Toyota only deigned to give us one data socket(*) that was a nuisance.

* I had to wait over a minute after switching the car on before it would change track which surprisingly often meant silence for many seconds.

I now use my phone and BT but that's not perfect. Sometimes the metadata gets lost between car and phone leading to 'Unknown track' and 'Unknown artist'. It doesn't do it when I'm using Android Auto so it must be something to do with BT.

(*)My model has two USB sockets but one is charge only. I don't understand that decision. I was under the impression that there was nothing to be gained from having a charge-only USB socket.

AndrueC Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: iTunes.

That rings a distant bell with me as well. At least iTunes doesn't grind to a halt just because you have more then six albums. But I still occasionally find albums on my iPod where some of the tracks are duplicated because of something that went awry when I was importing them into iTunes. It's also painfully slow because it insists on converting everything into AAC.

AndrueC Silver badge
Meh

Re: Sad but inevitable RIP

I both love and loathe my iPods. I love the capacity. I love the way they (mostly) do one thing and do it very well. I loath iTunes with a passion that exceeds my ability to describe.

So with mixed feelings I've moved away to using my (Android) phone for the car and USB sticks for other things. Last to go will be my alarm clock and I don't know what I'll replace that with.

Mind you I continue to rely on my SqueezeServer and SB3/SB Touch for serious music listening. Those and my Harmony remote appear to be irreplaceable.

Problems for the Linux kernel NTFS driver as author goes silent

AndrueC Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Hang on a mo ...

Your complaint about mount points might be valid but I have my doubts. I can't think of anything about an NTFS volume that requires it to be treated as a self-contained volume. Windows links can link any folder structure anywhere so you can make 'D:\' appear under c:\Mounts\ if you wish (I actually do that on my development machine). I also think that assigning a drive letter to a volume is optional so I think you can indeed mount an NTFS volume under an existing folder structure just like you can with Unix variants.

Also I suspect that there are components of the file system that are physically fixed in place on a disk.

No. Only the boot sector which is fixed at LSN 0 (possibly also the recovery boot sector at the other end of the volume). Everything else can be anywhere else within the volume. The boot sector specifies the location of $MFT (Master File Table) and everything else (including $MFT) is a file whose location is specified by a record in $MFT.

Its difficult to resize a NTFS partition and may be the reason why disk performance (along with Windows) performance drops off over time.

What difficulty? The DiskManager can do it in a couple of mouse clicks. Extend the partition. Grow the volume. If no space to extend partition, span the volume onto another partition. The only structures that might have to move are the recovery boot sector and $MFTMirror which have to be moved if you shrink the volume (because they are normally placed at the end) and could be left in place if you grow it but which MS might recommend are relocated to the new end-of-volume.

Any drop-off in performance can be attributed to the usual OS-agnostic reasons: Software installation and disk fragmentation. On the latter front I will say that NTFS doesn't do much to avoid fragmentation - HPFS went to great lengths to do so. But then in my experience no file system was as determined as HPFS to keep files contiguous so I suspect that NTFS is no worse in that respect than any other OS.

System performance slow-down, yeah. Maybe. Can't say I've ever noticed it nor attempted a side-by-side comparison. Maybe it's like the old 'boiling frog' thing :)

But we can't blame NTFS for that. I'd say blame users for installing random crap on their machines and - possibly - software publishers for writing shitty code and being lazy in clean-up.

AndrueC Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Hang on a mo ...

It's where the much-loved but difficult and somewhat inaccessible NTFS came from.

Ain't that the truth. I reverse engineered NTFS first (because Windows data recoveries were far more common than Files-11) but as soon I started looking at Files-11 the provenance became clear. Even down to encoding variable length bit fields (it's different but very few file systems bother at all). $MFT is clearly son-of-INDEXF.SYS.

The biggest problem we had with FILES-11 was returning the data to the customer. We used our generic Windows tool to process the disk image so that meant we were at risk of losing the fairly important attributes. In the end I modified our tool to generate a separate VMS script. Then we could copy the files and the script to our lonely VMS box and run the script to restore the attributes. Luckily one of our guys knew VMS quite well and could help with the directory path syntax.

We had a similar problem with Macintosh disks but thankfully Windows/NTFS supports Macintosh clients so we could write the files in a compatible way and have the Macintosh pull the files back over the network. Later on we bought in a program that could mount HFS and HFS+ volumes under Windows so we could just write straight to a target disk. We had a celebration in the office when that became available. No-one was forced to use the Macintosh in the corner any longer :D

AndrueC Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Hang on a mo ...

Windows allows you to write a file system driver.

Indeed it does. Has been for a long time.

It's how networks and CR-ROMs are dealt with amongst other things.

AndrueC Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Hang on a mo ...

True but it's possible they could be added without breaking the original design just by adding another attribute type. The file system is fairly unusual in having such flexibility. Parsing an MFT record is just a matter of walking the list of attributes (although one or more attributes might actually be stored external to the record - $DATA being the most common to be held externally for obvious reasons). In fact a record may itself become so large that it occupies multiple MFT records and I seem to recall uses the same mechanism for specifying its external blocks as other attributes do.

So in theory at least you can store any metadata you can imagine in an MFT record and it's just a matter of the OS reading the disk knowing what to do with it. In that sense it really is a lot like a database that you can use to store pretty much any schema.

Whether it would be efficient or not is another matter. I would assume that the MFT parsing code in the Windows Kernel is highly optimised (presumably that's why they went with 32 bits for the attribute type since that is clearly overkill).

AndrueC Silver badge

Re: Hang on a mo ...

Depends what changes. NTFS is a very open-ended format. At its heart an MFT (Master File Table) record is a collection of fields (they call them attributes). An attribute has a length and a type field. Both these fields are 32 bits wide so MS can add new attribute types pretty much ad-nausseum.

I reverse engineered it when I was writing data recovery software many years ago and after initially disliking it for the lack of thought given to data recovery (HPFS did a much better job in that respect) I developed a grudging like for it. It is pretty much an almost infinitely modifiable database format(*) and in many respects very efficient. Admittedly the efficiency is mostly needed because of the overheads it brings but the result is a very capable file system.

(*)I actually utilised that in our toolset. Once I had the NTFS driver in place additional filesystems were dealt with by converting their metadata to our NTFS metadata and passing the result to the NTFS driver. An NTFS file system parser can handle pretty much any other file system including HFS/HFS+ and even weird stuff like AS/400. NTFS offers pretty much a superset of all file system functionalty.

Google Docs crashed when fed 'And. And. And. And. And.'

AndrueC Silver badge
Meh

..or Visual Studio which while absolutely multi-threaded has gone so far overboard with it that it can drown the CPU in threads leaving no room for the one trying to handle the UI.

"You can continue working while the task runs in the background".

Uh huh - not unless I upgrade to a Cray.

Switch off the mic if it makes you feel better – it'll make no difference

AndrueC Silver badge
Happy

The only problem I have in practice is that Windows sometimes fails to register my Bluetooth headset powering on. Then I have to unplug/plug the BT adaptor.

AndrueC Silver badge
Boffin

I dunno about other OSes but the sound API that Windows provides is pretty unpleasant. The multimedia layer above it that most applications use is even worse. We have to deal with it because out main product is all about recording sound. I particularly remember the pain we had over detecting microphone hot plugging and unplugging. The number of messages raised is crazy. The way devices are named doesn't help either.

So much as I hate to defend the likes of Teams and Zoom I have to offer them my sympathy and understanding.

US Army may be about to 'waste' up to $22b on Microsoft HoloLens

AndrueC Silver badge
Meh

Re: It's not wasted

Maybe it's my age, but I feel more and more that Microsoft's main goal in life is to slow down industry and (over)charge them for the privilege.

An interesting viewpoint. So you think that industry is happy to pay more for a worse solution. What does that say about the alternatives do you think?

Cybercriminals do their homework for latest banking scam

AndrueC Silver badge

Re: I know that Brits often play the baddie in films but...

I think it much more likely that they speak Merkin without any discenible accent. We English all have accents and they are mostly discernible by other English speakers. Only a Merkin would think they all sound the same.

Yup, the closer you are to the source of a language the greater the rate of variation. Britain is a relatively small island but you only have to travel fifty miles to hear a different accent.

Star loses $500,000 NFT after crooks exploit Rarible market

AndrueC Silver badge
Joke

But NFTs require a leap of insane logic where you claim a digital thing is unique. Sorry, but as a programmer, I find that absolutely laughable.

I do worry though every time I type var guid=Guid.NewGuid(); I'm using up a finite resource :D

When the expert speaker at an NFT tech panel goes rogue

AndrueC Silver badge
Joke

NFT - Not Fucking there.

- Nice Fucking Try.

- Nine Farting Trees.

Sorry - ran out of ideas there.

Dell trials 4-day workweek, massive UK pilot of shortened week begins

AndrueC Silver badge
Meh

Re: There s no way to buy more time

Many years ago I worked as part of a trans-Atlantic software development team. We were employed by their UK division for HR purposes but because they didn't do any other software development in the UK our manager was in the US. Worked out well for us because our US manager was always careful to avoid getting involved in anything HR-related and our UK 'bosses' were careful to avoid getting at cross-purposes with the US side.

Anyway a couple of times we went over there for an annual engineers' summit. On the first visit we had a couple of spare afternoons so asked if we could use empty cubicles to do some work. After an hour our manager came back and asked us to stop. Apparently there was some concern over the legality of us working while over there because we were only there using the standard visa waiver scheme.

I've never really got to the bottom of that. It does seem like that visa specifically excludes doing work (other than presentations) and yet it seems a bit silly that we weren't allowed to remote into our normal computers and do a few hour's work.

Then again this was a very large multinational who had been the subject of serious litigation for other things over the years so perhaps their legal team were running scared.

Finnish govt websites knocked down as Ukraine President addresses MPs

AndrueC Silver badge
Meh

Re: I'm reminded of:

Statements such as yours are "the last refuge for the mouthy, but no action crew". Are you even aware of necessary evil? Guss the name of the plane that filmed Enloa Gay dropping her bomb? U guessed it.

I'm guessing you've never read The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov.

Atlassian outage lingers, sparking data loss fears

AndrueC Silver badge
Facepalm

The service provider had one job to do. Just one job. Take customer data and store it accurately on their servers.

Customers had one job to do. Just one job. Keep their own backups.

South Yorkshire to test fiber broadband through water pipes

AndrueC Silver badge
AndrueC Silver badge
Joke

Re: Great idea...

I get a straw!

Happy birthday Windows 3.1, aka 'the one that Visual Basic kept crashing on'

AndrueC Silver badge
Happy

I once removed enough guff from the installation to have it boot off a 3.5" floppy. Admittedly you needed a lot of patience and there wasn't much room on the floppy for anything else :)

AndrueC Silver badge
Joke

All dealt with by Corporal Punishment.

It's time to delete that hunter2 password from your Microsoft account, says IT giant

AndrueC Silver badge

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