* Posts by Daedalus

930 posts • joined 15 Oct 2009

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This'll make you feel old: Uni compsci favourite Pascal hits the big five-oh this year

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: pascal was simply useless.

You want to talk about strong typing in Pascal? I was recruited - though it felt like I was shanghaied - on a project to move data across a network. Across each link the identical data in an identical layout was carried in a RECORD named for that link. At the transition to the next link the data had to be copied to another RECORD named for the new link. Now this was clearly a stupid choice on the part of the architects, but most languages had a means to bypass typing in such situations, usually with some form of cast.

Not this version of Pascal. Huge amounts of time were wasted programming the item by item copy at each link.

The problem with Pascal was its popularity for teaching, which meant it became de rigeur for systems programming. "C" on the other hand, a consummate systems language, eventually became one of the most popular teaching languages, to the dismay of many would be coders.

Das reboot: That's the only thing to do when the screenshot, er, freezes

Daedalus Silver badge

The nasty version

"Es tut mir leid. Dass kann ich nicht verstehen. Ich bin aus Barcelona. Ich weiss nichts. Auf wiedersehen."

Seriously haven't you ever wanted to just walk away from such displays of average intelligence?

The Rise of The (Coffee) Machines: I need assistance. I think I'm running Windows. Send help

Daedalus Silver badge

Reboot with extreme prejudice

We have an ancient dispensing machine at the (currently deserted) office, which theoretically takes coins and notes, but will from time to time refuse to take either. The machine, which is host to refreshments variously sweet, savoury, and chilled, occasionally hosts more alive fare, as judged by the occasional half eaten choccy bar. Anyway any refusal to play ball is usually met with a swift unplug and replug. Take that, ancient one!

Daedalus Silver badge

Had one of those at school in the 60s. Where do you think Adams got the idea from? The hot choccy was good though.

What do you call megabucks Microsoft? No really, it's not a joke. El Reg needs you

Daedalus Silver badge

ObPratchett

B. S. Johnson Inc.

Daedalus Silver badge

Gitzilla?

Daedalus Silver badge

Wilson, Kepple and Betty?

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Got to be something about Clippy

Clippyzilla

Elevating cost-cutting to a whole new level with million-dollar bar bills

Daedalus Silver badge

Seriously so.

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: radio interferences

I remember a school science class involving a lash-together rig complete with one of those tuning knobs that connected to a "variable capacitor", i.e. metal plates moving in between other plates with air as the dielectric. Try as we might we only got the "Third Programme" as it then was. I guess that's the price you pay for living a few tens of miles from one of the main transmitters in the region.

Daedalus Silver badge

RF and not RF

In a different life I used to pollute the Chemistry labs a lot, which is where I found an innocent young undergrad hooking slender wires to an oscilloscope. The object was to measure the micro-resistance in a small liquid filled cell undergoing transformations of various kinds, but the trace on the screen was pure noise. Recognizing the threat posed by ubiquitous fluorescent lights, not to mention megawatt radio transmitters just across the border in Mexico, I helped with some judicious tinfoil wrapping of the wires (hat optional) and saved the day for this young man.

However, not all threats come at high frequency. Here at home we were having strange problems with that new-fangled digital TV coming in over your basic co-axial cable from the outside. One entire local channel would pixelate and drop off the map, along with all its sub-channels (which tend to get used for cheap and cheerful re-runs of classic shows). Internet was not wholly reliable either, and even our POTS line to the outside world had a mains hum on it. I suppose that last bit was the clue, because I suspected the outside mains power line that had been upgraded. Sure enough, both POTS cable and co-ax were pinned against the house by the new power line, which was carrying two-phase 120V and would have all the noise that you get these days thanks to electronics, dimmers etc. A little rearrangement, and all was well. Social distancing is necessary for intelligences of all kinds.

Daedalus Silver badge

Sometimes here in the slave-driving US of A the first question out of the server's mouth is "Is this one bill or are you splitting?". Especially at lunchtime, which of course is doubly an illusion.

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Never saw a car crash into a computer

I had visions of a fictional European country speeding down the ramp. Let's hear it for the Mouse that Roared!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Fenwick

Taiwan to develop military exoskeleton because it's not like these things are open-sourced or one-size-fits-all

Daedalus Silver badge

It's a upper body rig that supports the arms for working overhead.

Daedalus Silver badge

Million dollar idea

"We've got this exoskeleton that lets you carry heavier weights"

"Nice, does it work better than a milkmaid's yoke?"

A paper clip, a spool of phone wire and a recalcitrant RS-232 line: Going MacGyver in the wonderful world of hotel IT

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Proper lash up

Reminds me of when we swam in the public baths' "New Pool". It was new in 1935, the Old Pool being Victorian.

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Proper lash up

Common use machines should always use pigtail extension leads for USB, and audio if appropriate. Prevents "mashing it home" from compromising the onboard sockets, not to mention butt bumps.

Reg fashion special: Top designer says 'video chat accessories' are in for spring!

Daedalus Silver badge

The struggle is real

From monitoring an old acquaintance on Twitter, and her feminist journalist coterie (yes, they do write for the Grauniad), it turns out that video chats expose that dread horror, the old lady neck. The article's image of an ad for neckerchiefs seems particularly appropriate.

What's the difference between Windows 7 and a bin lorry? One is full of garbage, and the other… oh dear

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Reckless council

I get the feeling that any public service messages on the screen probably get equal time with commercials, supplied by the same company that provides the screen. Yet another sign that local govt. has to compromise all over the place just to save money to get the job done.

In fact: https://www.13digital.co.uk/

Maybe somebody should tell these bright young things that they are fatally behind the times.

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: The real borkage ...

Of course the Beeb still has Joe Brown and the Bruvvers on continuous rotation.

Us oldsters just have to face up to the fact that, like the Best of Flanders & Swan and the sayings of Horace, some cultural references don't mean much anymore.

OTOH "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" topped the chart in 1919 and still held its own 50 years later. Maybe there's hope for anything after Sgt. Pepper.

"Hold very tight please! Ding Ding!"

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

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Thanks for the embiggenment

Given that the impact velocity was well north of the escape velocity of the asteroid, I doubt if any grains came back at all.

Check Point chap: Small firms don't invest in infosec then hope they won't get hacked. Spoiler alert: They get hacked

Daedalus Silver badge

Human error

Anecdotal evidence - OK, reddit - suggests that ego is a major issue. "I championed this, so it must be enough". Questioning existing infosec procedures tends to get a hostile response, especially when the questioner is a just-the-facts nerd and the questioned one is an over-promoted sales droid. Talk about being divided by a common language. Likewise sysadmins who've gotten used to the cushy life tend to be hostile to any suggestion that they're not doing enough - or anything at all, in some cases.

I heard somebody say: Burn baby, burn – server inferno!

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Oh so special's

Ah but in quantum theory you can be in two places at once, if nobody is looking.

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Tricks of the trade.

Problems arise when you put more than six people in the conference room that is on the same thermostat as the general office area. Conf room quickly becomes overheated while the general area remains at "acceptable" temps. I have been known to step above my station for the sake of personal comfort, and even to keep potential customers from thinking we're idiots (we mostly are, but that's another story).

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Oh so special's

The all time prize must go to math genius Paul Erdős, "Have satchel and sandals, will travel" who would go from conference to conference, show up on doorsteps expecting (and getting) hospitality, and basically live the peripatetic academic monk lifestyle across Europe and the world in general.

Honourable mention though, to a particle physicist I once helped move to the great cathedral of the prairies. His most precious possession was a very expensive classical guitar, respect for that, but the rest of the contents of his, for want of a better word, hovel, seemed to consist of rusty and delapidated items barely worth the expense of transport. I was also informed that he was an identical twin. Two of them? The mind boggles.

Windows 7 goes dual screen to shriek at passersby: Please, just upgrade me or let me die

Daedalus Silver badge

Don't worry about the article. It's from an alternate universe where Boris Johnson is PM instead of Basil Brush, not that anybody could tell the difference.

Death and taxis: Windows has had enough of clinging to a cab rooftop in the London rain

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: The real big joke

Sooner or later somebody will figure out that you can make some dosh flogging stolen displays on Ebaygum.

Windows 7: Still looking after business (except when it isn't)

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Punch to the gut

I was once involved in the development of an "optical disk jukebox". No, not one of those neat little multi-CD things that eventually found their way into cars, but a huge box with dimensions in meters that moved platters the size of NY pizzas around and in and out of the disc drives.

Anyway, the point is that I costed out all the HW and SW and concluded that for the same amount of money they could have had minimum wage drones doing essentially the same work for a couple of years.

Daedalus Silver badge

Punch to the gut

Reg readers will not be surprised to learn that the punch card system was going strong, at least on New Malden High Street, in 1980. Further I can not testify to, having decamped overseas for more money and friendlier banks to keep it in a year later.

Flat Earther and wannabe astronaut killed in homemade rocket

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Don't underestimate steam

Come to think of it the exhaust of the Space Shuttle Main Engine, and indeed any LH2/LOX rocket, is basically steam.

Very very very hot steam.

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: How on earth can someone be so stupid to believe this BS?

Zenith and nadir are concepts pushed by the roundworlders, and are therefore disregarded by flatlanders.

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: a parachute deployed just after take-off

Personally I think this might be a Reggie Perrin.

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Don't underestimate steam

The particular risk in question involved the stunt guy wearing flameproof insulation under the Bond tuxedo.

Of course, now we have a new jet-pack guy with his little jet-lets fastened to various parts of his body. He looks great in flight, but I have to wonder what will happen when (not if) he experiences a hard landing.

Whenever there's one of these great ideas for getting around without a vehicle, you have to consider that the vehicle is at least partly there to make sure you come out alive and uninjured every time.

Daedalus Silver badge

Don't underestimate steam

Technically the jet pack of James Bond fame was propelled by steam, for that is what you get from the catalytic breakdown of hydrogen peroxide. It's the temperature that matters: Bond's jet exhaust was at about 750 deg C. Not the best stuff to be blasting within inches of the glutes.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to save data from a computer that should have died aeons ago

Daedalus Silver badge

From the dark continent

Once upon a time I was handed the job of importing data from a system that processed telephone accounting records from a circa 1975 system that used circa 1955 GPO telephone equipment that had been installed in one of Betty's former possessions in Africa. They even used the good old GPO data entry methods, photographing banks of those little meters that clocked up your usage, and then entering the data by hand from the photos.

All this was just strings of numbers. Format? We don't need no steenking formats. The people in charge were too busy practising nepotism to bother with technical details anyway. So I cobbled together a little app using MFC (oh how I miss it!) that let me choose how to chop up the data into records and fields and display it so I could see the patterns.

And patterns there were. It was amazingly easy to home in on the record and field sizes. And so the data was imported and we sold a whole new set of systems for them to neglect. Or, as it turned out, set on fire because somebody's little schemes were under threat. Sic transit.

Daedalus Silver badge

Gratitude? We don't do gratitude.

Trouble is, herculean efforts usually result in "Oh, nobody bothers with most of that stuff anyway". Personally I'd have printed out the data and told the client to hand enter the bits they really wanted. It probably would have turned out to be the last year's data and that's it.

Yo, Imma let you finish, but for the 6,000 people still using that app on a daily basis ... we have a question: why?

Daedalus Silver badge

Sticky Octopi*

Once upon a time there was a nice man who created a plastic octopus that would stick to most walls when thrown against them, and then roll down in an entertaining fashion. He made millions off it.

To get rich, sell worthless stuff to nitwits.

* Yes I know "octopi" isn't really the plural of octopus.

When the air gap is the space between the ears: A natural gas plant let ransomware spread from office IT to ops

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Hmmm

Probably managerial hubris. Top dog has to be able to pee everywhere, and all that. Well he got his wish.

Reddit gets downvoted as site takes a Wednesday tumble

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: "Major Outage"

This calls for Corporal Punishment!

Microsoft to bravely defend US democracy for a slack handful of voters in Fulton, Wisconsin

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Anonymity?

"C'est le tabac qui compte"

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: tracing back to YOU

Your voter number in the UK was in a registry. The ballots for the candidate in question would be in a few (generally smallish) piles together. Matching ballots to the voter rolls would be relatively easy even in the pen and ink days, especially when there were standing instructions to forward ballots for red-flagged candidates to Special Branch.

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Anonymity?

100% naive. In the UK, each ballot paper issued at the voting station was numbered. You showed up with the voting card that they sent you, claimed your ballot and voted. The number of the voting card and the ballot were recorded.

So if you voted for the now-defunct party that had its own newspaper, albeit a few pages only, those ballots could be set aside, the numbers recorded, and the voting register examined to find out the number on your card, tracing back to YOU. Back in the day when said party was considered the agent of a foreign power, voting that way could, at the very least, put you on a watch list, and possibly affect your career prospects.

Here in the US you show up with a record of your address and vote in the district(s) that include that address. In NY your ballot is a large card with lots of options. Only the menu at the Cheesecake Factory has more. It also has a number, which was recorded in the register when you got it. So here you're in about the same boat as you would be in the UK, except for the variation across the country and the general lack of real organization in the so-called "system".

OK, which Dombås stuffed Windows 10 to bursting at Swedish flatpack flinger?

Daedalus Silver badge

Don't Panic!

"Simon Jones", eh?

What would Douglas Adams done with IKEA?

"After following the instructions, you would have something that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike a bookshelf"

"IKEA will re-open when we have received a shipment of those little screw things that you never seem to have enough of. Until then there will be a short delay. RETURN TO YOUR SEATS."

"There is a theory that states that if anybody figures out what IKEA instructions are all about, they will immediately be replaced by something even more bizarrely inexplicable. There is another theory that states that this has already happened."

"Arthur read through the instructions to the last line, which was 'A suffusion of yellow'"

C'mon SPARCky, it's just an admin utility update. What could possibly go wrong?

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Just following instructions....

Or, as per a recent Reddit, the instructions haven't been updated because the third-party writer is being mushroom-managed by the actual vendor of the device for which instructions are needed.

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Just following instructions....

As noted in "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", instructions are generally written by the least valuable member of the team, one who can easily be spared from regular work, and indeed one whose absence will improve the progress and quality of said work.

Forget the Oscars, the Solar Orbiter is off to take a close look at our nearest (and super-hot) star

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Journalistic hyperbole

I had to look that one up. Obscurissimo. It's not even on the "Lost Treasures of Infocom" CD.....

Daedalus Silver badge

Journalistic hyperbole

harsh environment near the Sun

I'm not sure in what sense 28 million miles counts as "near". Certainly that's nearer even than Mercury, but artists impressions showing the orbiter next to an impressively large Sun are totally misleading. The Sun would look about four times as large as the Moon does from Earth. That's spanning, ooh, two degrees on the sky.

The Reg can be forgiven for being no worse than ESA and other news outlets for this. I'm sure that journos worldwide still think of the Solar System as a very crowded place where the distances are easily spanned by simple rockets. "Taxi! Phobos and don't hang around!"

Crypto AG backdooring rumours were true, say German and Swiss news orgs after explosive docs leaked

Daedalus Silver badge

Almost unnecessary

People in general being too stupid to live, it's not always necessary to compromise the machines. In "Spycatcher", Peter Wright described how the machines at the French Embassy in London leaked the cleartext as electrical noise over the same phone lines used to send the encrypted messages. Then also there was the US Navy spy who simply purloined the paper tapes used in their machines, which were not secured. As he said "KMart has better security than the Navy".

Hear, hear: The first to invent idiot-cancelling headphones gets my cash

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Not a lot of people know this ..

It's been done. A bunch of cars were set around a 50m circle and the drivers told to drive at the best possible speed. Pretty soon they were doing the wave.

This AI is full of holes: Brit council fixes thousands of road cracks spotted by algorithm using sat snaps

Daedalus Silver badge

Mostly pothole finders being paid to sit in cafes, I would imagine.

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