* Posts by Dunstan Vavasour

423 publicly visible posts • joined 14 May 2007


Toyota servers ran out of storage, crashed production at 14 plants in Japan

Dunstan Vavasour

Nostalgia Alert

I suppose it's good to hear a Golden Oldie every now and then. "Out of disc space" takes me back to my youth.

British Airways, Boots, BBC payroll data stolen in MOVEit supply-chain attack

Dunstan Vavasour

Lessons will be learned

I'm confident that lessons will be learned and procedures put in place to make sure this can never happen again until next time.

Fujitsu bags £142M UK government work since Horizon probe announced

Dunstan Vavasour

Re: "We can't undo the damage that has been done."

I've written to my MP about this several times. At its core, the Horizon scandal wasn't about mistakes, it was about wrongdoing. It was about Fujitsu management being told by their development teams "Yes, this could happen" and then swearing on oath that it couldn't.

Miscarriages of justice work both ways: getting away with flagrant wrongdoing, whether at an individual or corporate level, is as obnoxious as banging up an innocent person.

Spotted in the wild: Chimera – a Linux that isn't GNU/Linux

Dunstan Vavasour

Re: Stallman on removing GNU from Linux

I think I was at the same talk. I can date it by the fact that, on the train back, my mate was typing notes on his Psion5.

Half of environmental claims about products are full of crap, says EU

Dunstan Vavasour

Re: Stretching It A Bit, But.....

Given that this will happen within the next 1000 years, all bins are recycling, just different timeframes.

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

Dunstan Vavasour

Online Leadership Election

Not sure about running the members' ballot online...


Open source 'Office' options keep Microsoft running faster than ever

Dunstan Vavasour

Re: Options are always good

"I actually like the ribbon UI. It's a much more efficient use of space that allows significantly more features to be exposed without the need for multiple levels of dialog boxes."

Most screens are much wider than they are high. So taking away a whole load of screen height for the ribbon, which cannot be moved to the side, is perverse.

Fujitsu confirms end date for mainframe and Unix systems

Dunstan Vavasour

Reliable Apps vs Reliable Systems

System reliability matters when you have monolithic applications. Once you build the resilience into the application layer, system reliability doesn't need to have as many nines after the point.

Now, that's not to say that distributed apps with distributed data is a silver bullet - you still need to do grown up failure mode analysis - but mainframes aren't your only path to all those nines.

China details relocation plan for up to five million datacenter racks

Dunstan Vavasour

Re: Also aids employment

I'd be amazed if they intend to power them with coal. They've got the manufacturing costs of both PV panels and batteries down to the point where any high energy business is now built with renewables nearby to avoid the cost of mining and transporting any sort of fossil fuels.

The only reason China is building coal generation now is because they can't build out renewables fast enough. For this sort of planned migration the renewable generation will be a pre-req.

Amazon stretches working life of its servers an extra year, for AWS and its own ops

Dunstan Vavasour

Re: "servers have a useful life of five years"

A long time ago Sun Microsystems' datacentre-in-a-container had "fail in place" designed in. You didn't replace failed components, you just blacklisted them and carried on working around them.

If I were running AWS I'd expect something similar - when components fail you take them out of service forever and operate the rig round them. If at 5 years you have 10% of failed components then it might well be worth operating them another year.

AWS wobbles in US East region causing widespread outages

Dunstan Vavasour

Everything seems to depend on us-east-1

Unable to create a S3 bucket in eu-west-1

Make multi-region redundancy seem a little less than convincing.

Ford taking control of chip supply in Globalfoundries deal

Dunstan Vavasour

Re: Better late than never

I think it goes far beyond the auto makers, but you're exactly right. The principle of the Method of Constraints (usually refered to as Just in Time) is that, to avoid carrying a lot of work-in-progress, you have components and sub-assemblies become ready just at the point where they will be used.

Decades of "value engineering" where bean counters have:

- minimised buffer stocks

- screwed down suppliers on price

- assumed that supplies can be assured by having a contract in place

have got us to where we are now. When you outsource and de-skill, that skill is effectively gone forever. And where you choose to be dependant on a supplier, your interest has to go beyond the contract you have with them.

Nvidia launches Cambridge-1, UK's most powerful supercomputer, in Arm's neighbourhood

Dunstan Vavasour

Trouble is that with the long supply chains in almost every industry, no country feels as if it does science and engineering. But a fair proportion of the worlds airliners have engines made in Derby, most of the FIA motor racing teams are based here, and we devised a cheap and cheerful COVID vaccine for the world.

Silicon foundries surge to new revenue records, but Texas cold snap sent Samsung backwards

Dunstan Vavasour

Drought in Taiwan

If it doesn't rain on Taiwan soon, the Texas power problems could look like small beer.

Project Bicep: Microsoft muscles in on Terraform's territory to manage Azure resources with code

Dunstan Vavasour

Terraform and the PHB

Which all begs the question, why would you use this rather than just writing Terraform?

And I suspect the answer is that the PHB has heard of Microsoft and hasn't heard of Hashicorp. We all know the type, claim they're "risk averse" as an excuse for running hardware and software that's near or past its end of support. Believe that nobody got fired for buying Microsoft (or IBM). When the head of development comes to him for budget, he'll go over the proposal and believe he's adding value by insisting they use Bicep rather than Terraform.

At the same time there will be analyst charts showing a tick in a box for AWS with CloudFormation and a tentative tick in the same box for Bicep. The fact that most developers don't use either doesn't stop it being a "feature gap" for Azure.

UK's NHS Digital hands £8m contract to lab data biz after trouble matching COVID-19 tests to health records

Dunstan Vavasour
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X-Lab - Never heard of them

I've worked on-and-off with NHS Digital for several years, and have never heard X-Lab mentioned.

I don't think there can be a higher recommendation than that. Keep up the good work and see if you can achieve the ultimate accolade of becoming "boring".

Boeing confirms it will finish building 747s in 2022, when last freighter flies off the production line

Dunstan Vavasour

Grandfather Rights

"Both 737 and 747 were 1960s engineering that formed the platform for continued update and improvement for decades and outlasted their Lockheed and McDonnell-Douglas rivals. In the 1960s engineers at Boeing were able to come up with such robust designs that were solidly businesslike and pragmatic and out and out market leaders."

I think it's far more that, despite there being not a single common component with the original aircraft, they still have grandfather rights for certification. From top to bottom, these aircraft types have design choices that wouldn't be permissible were they being certified from scratch: for example, the passengers in the nose of a 747 have only one escape route, backwards. Other types such as the A320, have grandfather rights too, but they don't go back to the 1960s.

VMware to stop describing hardware as ‘male’ and ‘female’ in new terminology guide

Dunstan Vavasour

Re: You had better take these seriously




It's about power, about weilding that power and about subjugating those who don't comply. Get the big lie over in the title: "Inclusive Language" is about excluding those who won't play. We have devised Big Brother outside the state: we have Newspeak, we have thought police and we see groups engaged in the two minutes' hate, directed at the bête noire (oops) of the day.

Sometimes it seems like a parlour game ("Am I still allowed to say <insert word or phrase>") until the mob turns nasty, and you are deemed an enemy of tolerance. And unless it is constantly pushed back against, they advance through their own constant micro-aggressions.

Dunstan Vavasour

Re: Last time I checked ...

Will I still be allowed to use kill -9 ?

UK surveillance laws tightened up as most spying demands to be subject to warrants

Dunstan Vavasour


Well, my ISP is Andrews and Arnold, and I'm pretty confident they won't hand over data unless compelled. And as far as I remember they don't store much of the telltale data, such as DNS logs, anyway.

After 84 years, Japan's Olympus shutters its camera biz, flogs it to private equity – smartphones are just too good

Dunstan Vavasour

Brand Debasement

I just hope the brand doesn't get sold off and slapped on tat. Thinking of "Polariod", which was slapped on all sorts of cheapo electronics before it was bought by The Impossible Project and put on their worthy range of instant cameras.

But then as long as Olympus are making medical optical instruments they'll probably keep the name. My appreciation of the brand was further enhanced when one of their instruments was used to remove a pre-cancerous polyp from my bowel the year before last.

UK.gov announces review – not proper inquiry – into Fujitsu and Post Office's Horizon IT scandal

Dunstan Vavasour

Letter (email) Written to my MP

Email sent to my MP expressing my disappointment with these terms of reference, saying that they should include the finding of wrongdoing in both PO and Fujitsu. He always replies, though often dodging difficult questions. I'll see what comes back.

BEHOLD! Japan's Hayabusa2 probe left human imprints on ASTEROID SAND

Dunstan Vavasour

Leaving our mark

I'm reminded of the snail that crawled across the Cenotaph. When he got to the other side he looked back proudly at his snail trail and said "Look, I've left my mark".

Yes, we're explorers, but our pride at putting our machinery in the beauty of space can seem misplaced.

MPs to grill Post Office and Fujitsu execs on Horizon IT scandal after workers jailed over accounting errors

Dunstan Vavasour

Re: Kafka has nothing on this.

Exactly this. If there was a discrepancy, the franchisee *had* to accept it before they could start trading the following day. The only alternative was to stop trading. And because they'd clicked on "I accept this reconciliation", their case for having the discrepancy investigated was lost.

We all remember the "cold fusion" story from a couple of decades ago - some physicist couldn't explain where the energy in an experiment had come from, so they decided there must have been a nuclear fusion reaction at room temperature. This was similar: there had been no daily reconciliation before Horizon, so when the Post Office introduced it and found discrepancies, they deemed that the only cause could be fraud.

Most of the settlement from the Post Office has been consumed in legal costs. Costs which were incurred because of their and Fujitsu's intransigence and alleged perjury. Without doubt this is the worst miscarriage of justice this century.

Another sign of the End Times: Free software guru Richard Stallman speaks at Microsoft HQ

Dunstan Vavasour

Reminds me...

... of the pictures of Ian Paisley sitting with Martin McGuiness.

2001: Linux is cancer, says Microsoft. 2019: Hey friends, ah, can we join the official linux-distros mailing list, plz?

Dunstan Vavasour
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It's all about Azure tenants

Azure is where they see their future income stream.

The competition between cloud providers is healthy enough that Azure needs to move towards the customers and developers, they can't strongarm customers towards running their cloud apps on Windows (however much MS Classic would have liked to do so).

So the better they can make the GNU/Linux on Azure experience, the more customers will choose to run their clouds on Azure.

Gaze in awe at the first ever movie of a solar eclipse from recording long thought lost forever

Dunstan Vavasour

ND Filter

I'm guessing that he was using a heavy filter to attenuate the sunlight before and after totality, and we see the discontinuity where he removed this during totality, where we get to see the corona. Excellent stuff!

This is not, repeat, not an April Fools' Day joke: 5 UK broadband vendors agree to pay YOU daily rate for fscked internet

Dunstan Vavasour

The real problem is BT-OR

This is all very well, but unless the handoff between the ISP and BT-OR is fixed nothing will change.

My village was blighted for two months by a dodgy linecard in the cabinet. More than half the properties had an outage at some point, and they all had a visit from BT-OR to check their cabling. I don't know how much these cost the ISP, but it was clear that OR were filling their boots instead of fixing an obvious common pattern (the faults from this cabinet had spiked by 1000s of percent). Many of us were unable to work from home, and had to travel to offices, even the vicar was offline from parish emails. But this was secondary to BT-OR being able to send out newly trained repair men and charge ISPs.

It's clear from BT Retail's advertising that this isn't going to change: if your broadband is offline they know it won't get promptly fixed, so they'll send out a 4G hotspot.

What made a super high-tech home in Victorian England? Hydroelectric witchery, for starters

Dunstan Vavasour

Bamburgh Castle

A bit further north you'll find Bamburgh Castle, which Lord Armstrong acquired and which remains in the family. There is further Armstrong memorabilia there. It is also a great example of industrial wealth being used to safeguard our heritage.

From hard drive to over-heard drive: Boffins convert spinning rust into eavesdropping mic

Dunstan Vavasour

Shouting at your discs

This video from 10 years ago shows that disc performance is affected by shouting at your discs. I suppose this is an extrapolation of the same effect.


You were told to clean up our systems, not delete 8,000 crucial files

Dunstan Vavasour

Re: Thems my initials thems is.

For the first 20 years of my life it didn't matter that my initials are DEV.

UK rail lines blocked by unexpected Windows dialog box

Dunstan Vavasour

"Train Station"

Am I the last person who calls it the "railway station"?

If you have inner peace, it's probably 'cos your broadband works: Zen Internet least whinged-about Brit ISP – survey

Dunstan Vavasour
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Re: From A&A to Z?

Actually the traffic limits are one of the reasons I went to AAISP - so I'm not congested by the freetards maxing their lines out all day every day.Averaging about 200GB per month for a family of four including two twenty-something gamers and steady use of Netflix/iPlayer.

Facebook flat-out 'lies' about how many people can see its ads – lawsuit

Dunstan Vavasour

Ad Contrarian

Well I've been following the Ad Contrarian blog for several years, and he has been calling out the fraud in online advertising for all that time.

The root cause is that the only source of metrics available is from the ad brokers themselves, so nobody is independently auditing the page impressions and click-throughs. And nobody dare say that the emperor's naked, and that the funding model for half the internet is based on fraudulent counting.


UK.gov commits to rip-and-replacing Blighty's wheezing internet pipes

Dunstan Vavasour


How often is it the copper final mile that's the limiting factor on domestic BB?

As long as we have ISPs racing to the bottom of the "unlimited 80Mb/s for just £XX per month" we'll have congestion, packet loss, latency, not to mention crap service when faults develop from ISPs who get the runaround from BTOR and just pass it on to their customers.

FTTP may be a nice totemic aspiration, but is a waste of time if the ISPs can't up their game.

Imagine a patent on organizing computer files being used against online shopping sites. Oh, it's still happening

Dunstan Vavasour

Northern California

Makes a nice change to see a patent plaintiff filing in California.

When NetApp, based in Northern California, sued Sun Microsystems, based in Northern California, for infringing their WAFL patents, they obviously picked on East Texas as being the relevant jurisdiction.

Sueball claims Apple broke hacking laws with iOS batt throttling code

Dunstan Vavasour

School Playground

Why don't they all grow up?

The Splunk that got sunk: Log-lover ends support for mobile apps

Dunstan Vavasour

Re: I know there's always Google, but...

Oh, and if you're around London and like pizza, you can have a little play http://live.splunk.com/s4r_UK

Dunstan Vavasour

Re: I know there's always Google, but...

They're diversifying, but the core product can be thought of as grep on steroids.

There are shiny product pitches, but basically it collects logfiles from, or runs scripts on anything, chucks it into an index cluster of brobdingnagian proportions and then greps your amalgamated data really really fast. Main use cases are IT Ops and security analytics where the swiss army knife approach to schema-on-the-fly means you can correlate anything with anything.

It's proprietary, licensed in gigabytes per day of indexed data. Lots of places index terrabytes per day: they pay lots of money in licensing and get lots of value out of it by being able to fix stuff before it breaks and costs money.

[Disclaimer, I've got a load of Splunk certs and think it's actually pretty cool]

Windows Notepad fixed after 33 years: Now it finally handles Unix, Mac OS line endings

Dunstan Vavasour

Re: Vi

After years I've found the quickest way is to drop a copy of busybox.exe onto the path and then create a shortcut to "busybox sh". Enough shell commands to work round most Windows annoyances.

IBM lobs sueball at travel site Expedia for using some old Prodigy patents

Dunstan Vavasour

"Patents are granted by default. Inspection/testing and possible deletion of the patent only occurs if they are contested in court."

Yes, this. When progressing an application there will be search results returned, and you the inventor have to blag your way past these. It's not very difficult, as the search results seem like a keyword match. The patent inspectors have a pretty low threshold for blagging your way through search results and, particularly if you have "good" patent lawyers behind your applications, you'll get them through.

Now, if you are slapped with a cease-and-desist letter from a patent holder you have three options:

a) Stop doing whatever is allegedly infringing the patent

b) Negotiate royalties with the patent holder

c) Contest the patent

If you choose option (c) you have to decide whether to stop what you were doing while the legal process decides whether you are infringing: if you continue then you are liable to treble damages if you lose.

And it is this prospect of treble damages that makes this sort of suit so powerful: in many cases this effectively means that you're betting the farm on the outcome of a capricious patent court. Given that the C&D came in 2011, this is clearly the path Expedia have chosen.

Now IBM don't have to win these all, they only have to win one of them in order to end ahead. To my semi-educated eye, 346 seems to post-date a number of SSO offerings, so Expedia might have prior art. But 601 could be problematic, thinking about the world in 1996 I don't remember there being session management technologies available.

But Expedia wouldn't be contesting this if they didn't have some sort of prior art up their sleeve, I'm sure.

Telly boffin Professor Heinz Wolff has died

Dunstan Vavasour

Sorry, but...

...I'm afraid my first thought was "I didn't know he was still alive".

OpenStack says its work is largely done. Now your hard work can fill in the blanks

Dunstan Vavasour

Anyone who wanted to run a private cloud..

...has been able to do so for several years. The technology has been out there for a while, and it's not going to get any easier as IGnatius writes.

I've seen places that have successfully built their business model around their private cloud - I've seen other places that have learned that "If you build it they won't necessarily come". But whatever the underlying stack, a cloud has an awful lot of technology in it, and if you want to achieve good availability you'll need to carry an awful lot of skills in your workforce.

Darkness to fall over North America from a total solar eclipse

Dunstan Vavasour

Be interesting to see how the power grid copes with the sudden drop of solar followed by its sudden reappearance (sudden in generation timescales).

BA CEO blames messaging and networks for grounding

Dunstan Vavasour

If there's a part of your environment that everybody's afraid to fix in case it breaks, that's the first bit you should be fixing.

Dunstan Vavasour

Re: I'm not a BA Customer or Shareholder

"...issues have been addressed to make sure this can never happen again until next time"

Longing to bin Photoshop? Rock-solid GIMP a major leap forward

Dunstan Vavasour

Adjustment Layers

Still a couple of releases before adjustment layers are on the roadmap: at the previous rate of development that's half a decade.

I'm more than happy using Darktable for photo processing, but GIMP doesn't cut it for the final furlong - I want to edit on lots of layers and there are too many essential actions that aren't easily switch-on-and-offable using layers (e.g. healing tool).

Traditional enterprise workloads on an all-flash array? WHY WOULD I BOTHER?

Dunstan Vavasour

Re: Asking the wrong question

One of the more helpful comments I've read on the subject. To paraphrase, if you don't have to consider storage performance, you can do more and new stuff.

Lawmakers should grab red pen and let it RIPA on snoops law – experts

Dunstan Vavasour


"It is not the intention of this act to ..."

"This legislation sends a clear message to ..."


The *only* thing relevant in any piece of legislation passed is the powers it gives and the offences it creates or removes. Whenever I hear either of the phrases above, I know that the legislation being referred to is bad legislation.

Oracle bypasses SAS/SATA controllers in flashy new servers

Dunstan Vavasour

Re: NOT a pizza box

When they brought out the Netra t1 105 (1U server), we always referred to it as a "flapjack".