* Posts by John 110

658 publicly visible posts • joined 10 Aug 2009


Do not touch that computer. Not even while wearing gloves. It is a biohazard

John 110

Re: Taking the piss?

Just urine? pffft, lightweight!

What's brown and sticky and broke this PC?

John 110

Didn't think it was chocolate

I worked in a diagnostic microbiology lab where they processed samples from every area of the body you could imagine (and quite a few you probably shouildn't). When the keyboards on the bench PCs stopped working I threw the dead one in the autoclave and supplied a new cheapy one from my store.

The story of how I persuaded computer services to allow me to purchase a quantity of keyboards has been told before. Suffice it to say, it involved inviting them round to see the lab and making sure we were processing "special" stuff that day. My purchase requests for keyboards and mice were never turned down again...

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

John 110

Strictly speakin there isnae an apostaphe in "disnae" (or "speakin" or isnae) 'cause they're actual words, not abbreviations or dialect. So dinnae tre tae pit wan in!

New year, new bug – rivalry between devs led to a deep-code disaster

John 110

Re: Rewriting in assember 'to go faster'?


Might be handy to go back and read some of the earlier comments rather than just jumping in.

[HINT: this is Amiga era software...]

Sysadmin's favorite collection of infallible utilities failed … foully

John 110
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I used to defrag my Amiga HD regularly. Start it going and plonk the kids down in front (they were very young) of it to watch the little squares fly about. An easy way to get a quiet couple of hours to drink coffee.

Bank boss hated IT, loved the beach, was clueless about ports and politeness

John 110

I didn't know you could actually force a printer USB plug into the socket on the printer upside down, but Liz managed...

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

John 110

@Prst. V Jeltz

It's always worthwhile making a personal visit to someone who can grease the wheel that usually grind your work to a halt. In my case it was the Prof's secretary. Nice woman, but couldn't save a document properly, but she knew which forms to fill in and ALWAYS got the Prof to sign them...

PS Prst. I don't know if your post does anything towards counterpointing the surrealism of the underlying metaphor...

Why have just one firewall when you can fire all the walls?

John 110

Re: "could hear the telescope motors start humming"

"Sounds very much like software written by scientists rather than engineers."

Sounds very much like software lashed together at the last minute and in somebody's "spare" time by scientists rather than engineers.

There, fixed that for you.

Lawyer guilty of arrogance after ignoring tech support

John 110

Re: Are you sure, this isn't the plot of an IT Crowd epsiode?

We had a nice IT lady who,when she answered a ticket like these, would tell the punter that they had a batch of faulty cables and could they check the serial number on theirs. Most people said something like "Oh, it's fixed itself" and hung up at this point....

CompSci academic thought tech support was useless – until he needed it

John 110

Re: "supposed expert who turned out to be anything but"

When they were issued with laptops, I suggested that it might be beneficial for our medical staff to attend basic computer classes set up be the NHS Trust I worked for. I was told "but that's wht we have you, isn't it?"

(I was ACTUALLY told "why would I keep a dog, but bark myself?" but that comment was rescinded when I mentioned it to my line manager.)

It's 2023, so Lenovo made a bendy smartphone concept all about hybrid cloud AI

John 110

Isn't it...

...the terror of the Autons...

One door opens, another one closes, and this one kills a mainframe

John 110

Re: IBM, too, maybe...

That was how I discovered that you're not supposed to fill the boot of your car with paving slabs. Going round corners was a bit problematic...

That's gas: CO2 found on Europa surface may hint at some possible sign of life

John 110


It's spill over from the beer pumps...

That's no moon!!!

How is this problem mine, techie asked, while cleaning underground computer

John 110

Re: Dirt

Yes, very good.

BMS = BioMedical Scientist

Since 1971, we've been :

Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT)

Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS)

Medical Laboratory Scientific Officer (MLSO)

and currently BMS (see above)

NOT Lab Technicians (apparently)

John 110

Re: Dirt

I did first line IT support for a diagnostic bacteriology lab. The hospital also had a Computer Services Unit who did complicated stuff, and had to sign off on all IT equipment supplies. After the second time I unstuck nameless gunk from a lab keyboard, I thought sod this and put in an order for ten of the cheapest keyboards I could find. CSU denied the request and told me that I could ask them for a new keyboard if I needed one, and they would take the old ones away and clean them.

I invited their boss to come over and have a look. When he arrived, I did the full visitor's thing -- plastic "one-size-fits-all" lab coat, latex gloves for them and a Howie coat buttoned up to the neck and gloves for me, then took them down to the Faeces Lab. I didn't let them look through the door window, I took them right inside to witness the staff prepare faeces for culture, then move to the PC and enter the details of what they'd just done. (Mostly, the guys took off their gloves before touching the keyboard, but gloves are starchy and their fingers leave gunk all over the keyboard -- also at busy times, the gloves just stayed on.)*

As we came out of the lab, I showed the CSU guy where to wash his hands (and made him do it twice.) He ok'd the requisition there and then and always sent round a minion if anything needed done in the future.

[*If you've never worked in Microbiology, you should know that the gloves are precautionary and folk who habitually got -- matter -- on their hands would face the wrath of Dave, the senior BMS]

PEBCAK problem transformed young techie into grizzled cynical sysadmin

John 110

Re: Enter Password

"...Members of my family are terrified that they will lose the contents of their bank account or have their ID pinched if they click on the wrong thing,.."

Congratulations, you have done a perfect job as Technical Support (Unpaid Branch). Your reward is getting less "but I only pressed...." conversations.

Brit healthcare body rapped for WhatsApp chat sharing patient data

John 110
Black Helicopters

Re: Whatsapp gave them a heady taste of efficient clinical communication

I'm going to get political here. I'll assume the Reg picked this story up from mainstream media, who take any opportunity to promote their "SNP-bad" agenda. And NHS Lanarkshire is Scottish of course. I'm sure that other health areas used similar potentially breaching technologies, but just got on with it (and away with it).

PS don't take my word for the bias, Compare the daily headlines on BBC news for Scotland vs UK. The BBC agenda quickly becomes obvious.

Opportunity NUCs for Asus to continue Intel's mini PC line

John 110

Re: overpriced

I'm pretty sure that was Michael Miles...

So I'm not going to give it 5.

Turning a computer off, then on again, never goes wrong. Right?

John 110

aaah, NHS IT....

Perennially underfunded and understaffed. Arnie will have been under pressure from the end users to fix the problem, whatever it took, 'cause we need it now! (now usually means occasionally (to print out holiday details...))

I worked IT support for a diagnostic lab. My brief was to fiddle about with some half-arsed resourse management software strung together in a DOS spreadsheet by someone on a fixed term grant (who got a real job before they were finished) and to help our less-than-PC-savvy staff come to grips with a new lab reporting system (this was mid 90's -- any staff who had used a computer had had a ZX Spectrum or C64 as a kid.)

As is usually the case, the job expanded to cover looking after all the PCs in the department (there was a central IT services, but you could wait weeks for them to fix anything) and as lab automation spread into microbiology, I was expected to liaise with the companies supply the analyzers and the lab system to make sure they talked to one another. -- Oh, and I was on my own with holiday cover provided by the world famous "it'll keep until I get back, or you could ask Ian in biochem..."

So I walked through the door after a relaxing week of looking after the kids (school holidays) to be asked to look at the ELISA machine that had stopped talking to the lab system. I wandered down to the lab. No analyser.

"Where's the analyser" "We moved it to the lab 2 doors down". Nobody had mentioned this before I went off...

I located the missing machine and sat down to diagnose the problem. The PC and the analyser (RS232 connection) were talking, but no results were making it to the lab system. Checked that the PC was plugged into a node point. Check (surprise, I was). But there was no network connection.

"You did have this node made live, didn't you?" "The whatnow?"

Sorted that day by a quick grovelly phone call to Network support.

"But only 'cause I'm going to be in that area anyway!" "Thanks Denise"

Decision to hold women-in-cyber events in abortion-banning states sparks outcry

John 110

Re: This!


I hope you've misunderstood my comment. See the post above mine (by Intractable Potsherd) for clarification. If that hasn't cleared anything up, then allow me to paraphrase. Giving children drugs that'll screw up their hormones forever or chopping their bits off without being _really_ sure that that is what is needed (spoiler: it probably isn't) is child abuse.

I also hope you realise that this problem is world-wide and not just in these weird places in the USA.

John 110
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"...These laws are not "anti" anything - they are pro-child welfare..."

Gen Z and Millennials don't know what their colleagues are talking about half the time

John 110


BOFH: Get me a new data file or your manager finds out exactly what you think of him

John 110

Infinite loop websites

For a truly insanity-inducing experience, try registering to report Capital Gains in the UK without a passport or driving license (they claim to accept other forms of proof of identity, but don't seem to have anywhere that they ask for them or that you can supply them...).

After wandering round the Gov website in an infinite loop for a couple of days, I finally tried a websearch which pointed me at a user forum (on the Gov website) where countless other people were complaining about the same thing and some kind soul finally posted a Gov.uk address where you could download and print the forms.

NHS England spends £8M to extend Microsoft deals by a month

John 110

Re: Maybe not Linux but Office maybe ditchable

"A threat to move to Libre Office ought to be perfectly viable to carry through with."

Many, many moons ago I provided it support for a diagnostic lab in a Scottish hospital. IT services decided (rightly IMHO) that not every single hospital PC needed Microsoft Office. It didn't go well.

First they chose Open Office, then never updated it (at that time MS compatibility was still being worked on). File interchangeability with those Luddites that still used MS Office was awful!

Second, they listened to those people who "can't do without MS office -- ooh, this new one LOOKS different..ew". (quick sidenote -- this was before ribbons, so there wasn't that much difference between interfaces)

What should they have done? They should have insisted! If they had switched everyone over to Open Office and allowed no substitutes except for proven exceptional cases (we had an analyser that only exported it's results to a PC with Excel on it, and refused if it didn't find it; the supplies department relied heavily on Excel Macros)

Instead, the Open Office installations were quietly dropped from the images used to upgrade desktops to Windows XP (I think...)

I still think they were right to drop MS Office, it was costing a fortune and sitting on (in my lab) 30 PCs where all it was used for was reading the *.doc files that the upper floor aristocracy used to disseminate info via email. And it was the same in all areas of the hospital.

It would be easier now with LibreOffice file compatibility being better than ever, but of course, now we have the "where's the ribbon" crowd...

BOFH: Ah. Company-branded merch. So much better than a bonus

John 110

Re: Mindfulness gifts

@Kevin McMurtie

"Company logo clothing"

My son worked for the software part of an oil industry support company. They were all entitled to free offshore jackets with the company logo embroidered on it. Not survival, but good quality stuff, light and wind- and weatherproof with an inside pocket that can hold an A4 clipboard. I appropriated it when he left the company and was going to throw it out.

Tupperware looking less airtight than you'd think

John 110

Re: wait till they rot

@Ken Moorhouse

Do we need to know why you require space in your freezer for guests...

Starlink opens final frontier for radio astronomers

John 110
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Can I...

Can I upvote the whole article for the Billy Bragg references?

Something to brag about indeed...

Parisians say au revoir to shared e-scooters

John 110

Re: Spin class ...

@skeptical i

"...Ain't hardly a mandate, is it...."

Another way to look at it is that all those who really hate them voted, the rest shrugged...

The Stonehenge of PC design, Xerox Alto, appeared 50 years ago this month

John 110

Re: Smalltalk

Anyone who got their degree from the Open University in the 90's will have used Smalltalk (M206 for the win! -- Frogs anyone?)

I can't do that, Dave: AI drowns top sci-fi mag with story submissions

John 110

Re: To be fair to the AI...

"...Train it on the complete works of Lionel Fanthorpe..."

I find that idea to be luminous, brilliant, incandescent, lucid, lustrous, radiant, shining, translucent and vivid.

A tip for content filter evaluators: erase the list of sites you tested, don't share them on 100 PCs

John 110

They also sell cable management tunnelly thing (or did). I had a bit of a job persuading the boss to order three of them from Rubbermaid...

Thunderbird email client is Go for new plumage in July

John 110

Re: Upgraded interface

I've been watching Epyrus http://www.epyrus.org/index.html which is fork of Thunderbird based on Pale Moon instead of Firefox. Despite it's lack of developers, it promises to keep all that stuff that "modern" users hate but oldies (like me) are used to.

Take a look, but don't swamp the poor guy...

Dear Stupid, I write with news I did not check the content of the [Name] field before sending this letter

John 110

Re: This would be the flip side...

Scottish versions:

ATL = aff the legs

ATH = aff the heid

(Usually found on geriatric patients' notes)

It's been 230 years since British pirates robbed the US of the metric system

John 110

obligatory George Orwell quote

can be found here...

Version 5 of the Endless OS enters testing

John 110

Re: Another interesting project!

Seen on a T-shirt (in my drawer...)

Let's eat Grandad

Let's eat, Grandad

Commas save lives!

Scientists tricked into believing fake abstracts written by ChatGPT were real

John 110

Peer reviewers eh? What are they like?

I think that says more about the quality of peer review in modern academe than it says about how good chatGPT is at generating papers.

(Alternatively, I worked as IT support in a joint NHS/University department for years and watched the quality of writing in the papers drop year by year. I blame the quality of teaching in schools, now that they don't teach grammar and stuff any more...)

Mixing an invisible laser and a fire alarm made for a disastrous demo

John 110

Re: Dunno if I terrified him, but he about crapped himself ...

Xylene's the solvent of choice for cleaning oil off the oil immersion lenses. (Pity we weren't allowed to use it when I worked in the lab)

When we asked how you crashed the system we wanted an explanation not a demonstration

John 110

Re: ... half a brain

I'm Scottish. Teachers weren't allowed to throw things at us. They did have the Lochgelly though...

Server installer fails to spot STOP button – because he wasn't an archaeologist

John 110

Re: Renovations

"...They had obviously redecorated by adding another layer each time...."

Isn't that how you're supposed to do it...?

Programming error created billion-dollar mistake that made the coder ... a hero?

John 110

Re: Explosive demonstration

"W0t? You don’t have a self balancing centrifuge?"

Not in 1973 we didn't. It was another 5 years before we had centrifuges that you couldn't open while they were spinning.

(NOTE: The preferred method for bringing a slowing a centrifuge to a full stop back then was to press a rubber pipette teat onto the hub. Not recommended if you want the buffy coat.)

John 110

Re: Explosive demonstration

I once rescued a trainee who had been backed into a corner by a rampaging centrifuge into which she had placed only one tube (NB my pet TV peeve is people only putting one tube in a centrifuge then not having to chase the beast across the lab.(my second pet peeve are these "naked" centrifuges -- yes I know they're cinematic, but they'd been phased out before Queen's College became Dundee University)). I could reached the power switch and just flipped it off...

--> labcoat

Government by Gmail catches up with UK minister... who is reappointed anyway

John 110

Re: Plus ca change

"An election that they won, handsomely."

That's only true if you're English...

The boss worked in a fishbowl, so office tricks were a treat

John 110

wasn't this about phones?

I once switched the cordless handsets round belonging to the Infection Control nurses that I shared an office with. Oh how we laughed... Almost as funny as when my mate switched round their keyboards...

Mask gizmo wirelessly transmits data on wearer's health

John 110

Re: Let me guess, this was funded by tax payers via some kind of handout?

And you need to remember that your personal death is not the only outcome of carrying covid. It can be passed on to people who may die, or pass it on to people who...etc. And that's not even thinking about long covid (which is actually scarier than they would have you believe)

John 110

Re: Let me guess, this was funded by tax payers via some kind of handout?

Oh, and


John 110

Re: Let me guess, this was funded by tax payers via some kind of handout?

What made you think this covid malarky was over? It'll never be over. And even if in whatever cloud cuckoo land you're living in, you're told it is over, then monkey pox and ebola are just waiting in the wings.

-->the labcoat with "I'm a Microbiologist and I'm wearing a mask" on the back...

Liz Truss ousted as UK prime minister, outlived by online lettuce

John 110

Re: Free speech, duh

That's cool, Jake

Senior engineer reported to management for failing to fix a stapler

John 110

Re: Really?!

I once passed on a previously loved PC to a new Junior Doctor in the lab. As it had been previously used by her predecessor, I told her to just delete any files that weren't hers. Well, she didn't need that folder marked Windows, did she...

PS that's when I discovered how to retrieve a working Windows install from it's own recycle bin

PPS I could have had the machine re-imaged, but hospital IT were sarcastic buggers and she was too nice to expose her to that -- and I didn't want to face the "how could you let her" speech

Fixing an upside-down USB plug: A case of supporting the insupportable

John 110

Re: Outrageous

The rule of thumb is "saunter to the people who piss you off, hurry to the people who really appreciate you"

BOFH: You want presentation layer, but we're physical layer

John 110


I always helped personal issues especially when malt whisky or "I'll owe you a favour" was involved...