* Posts by Daedalus

1219 publicly visible posts • joined 15 Oct 2009


Grant Shapps named UK defense supremo in latest 'tech-savvy' Tory tale


Grant who?

For a moment I thought it was that actor on Murphy Brown. Maybe it should have been.

Oracle, SUSE and others caught up in RHEL drama hit back with OpenELA


Hats off

Didn't Red Hat put out Fedora to undercut the FOSS versions? Won't they do it again?


Lost in Translation

[日本語] just translates to "Japanese Language", not the name of the OS. Phonetically it's "Ni Hon Go".

Florida Man and associates indicted for conspiracy to steal data, software


Wouldn't it be funny if.....

Florida Man, in addition to his other mistakes, has "sold" his Fortress of Floritude to a company "controlled" by none other that Florida Man Junior. With the expressed agreement, no doubt, that he be allowed to reside and continue all his activities, legitimate or otherwise, in that place. This is evidently to prevent said Fortress from being breached by the Evil Empire of the Law. As a bonus, he gets funds which will aid him in "campaigning" (no doubt against his imminent incarceration).

Of course, Junior, being a chip off the old block, may have ideas of his own. Including, possibly, deciding that Florida Man needs a dose of what King Lear got, sent off on his wanderings, perhaps with New York Mayor Emeritus as Fool (a part he appears to have rehearsed for in recent years).

Looking forward to Florida Man and Fool braving the blasted heath in a storm. In orange, of course.

How to get a computer get stuck in a lift? Ask an 'illegal engineer'


The 402 was 404

I'll get my coat.

Quarter of tech pros say they're considering quitting jobs in next six months



For some reason, competition and natural selection don't improve the intelligence level of the decision makers. If anything, they're dumber now than when I blagged my way into software development all those decades ago. And woe betide he who questions their reasons.

Indian developer fired 90 percent of tech support team, outsourced the job to AI


Yeah right.

India has a history of, shall we say, exaggerated competence. Remember when every Indian software company was at CMM 5? And of course there's the bait and switch staffing.

Maybe compared to the bottom feeders of outsourced IT hell desk, an AI is better. That's more believable.

California man jailed after manure-to-methane scheme revealed as bull


I can see where you're steering the conversation

JP Morgan accidentally deletes evidence in multi-million record retention screwup



Anybody care to speculate about the exact location of the company hired to do the archiving? Perhaps one located in a country famed for bait-and-switch staffing, exaggeration of capabilities and certifications etc.? Oh the physical archives may have stayed in the USA, but it's rupees to bhajis that the staff were located elsewhere.

False negative stretched routine software installation into four days of frustration



So a large US manufacturer refused to install software because it was crap? So how did Lotus Notes become so widespread?

That old box of tech junk you should probably throw out saves a warehouse


Miracles are one thing

Keeping spares is another. Apparently somebody was smart enough to specify redundant servers, but somebody else was too cheap to keep spare parts for the control panels.

Oh well, chances are they would have found the spares had been half-inched anyway.

ChatGPT can't pass these medical exams – yet


Feynman's Observation

When Richard Feynman went to teach in Brazil, he encountered a system of education that produced people who could spout answers to questions on demand, providing the answers were those they had learned by rote. So asking about "Brewster's Angle" (relating to the polarization of light reflected from the surface of a transparent medium) he could get chapter and verse from students who actually had no idea what polarization or refractive index meant, and couldn't say why light reflected off water might be polarized.

I include this because it's exactly the kind of "learning" we can expect from AI as related to medicine or science.

Before you sprinkle AI on all your analytics, check data quality


GIGO is SOOOO last century

Now it's ugly garbage in, shiny garbage out.

Europe’s biggest city council faces £100M bill in Oracle ERP project disaster


Right said Fred

Every time this sort of debacle happens I'm reminded of the cartoon where the owners of a company are looking at, on the one side, huge computer stacks tended by white-coated acolytes, and on the other, an old guy hunched over a desk.

Caption: "You mean we need all that just to replace Fred?"

Botched migration resulted in a great deal: One for the price of two


Catch 22-fer

Similar story from Reddit: Severely incompetent client of industrial equipment installer orders and signs for an ISDN line without checking to see if it actually was installed. It was not, at least not at the client. The clueless telecom tech inexplicably did the job at a random building somewhere else in town. Inquiries by the equipment installer were stonewalled. Which building got the line? Sorry, client confidential. Well disconnect it! Nope, against company policy to enter a building without a contract.

Second line was correctly installed, leaving incompetent client on the hook for both lines. But installer was happy, at least as happy as you can be with such a client.

Techie wiped a server, nobody noticed, so a customer kept paying for six months


Re: Would have done otherwise

It's not just idiocy. When actual evil is at work you stay away, regardless of the opportunity cost. The company could quite easily have hired the dev and then stiffed them at the end, or claimed that the work was not done to spec. At worst, the dev could have been sued for some trumped-up reason.

Why ChatGPT should be considered a malevolent AI – and be destroyed



Marketers, influencers, and a host of “leadership” coaches, copy writers, and content creators are all over social media telling everyone how much time and money they can save using ChatGPT and similar models to do their work for them

Who will break the news to them? What little relevance they had in the world will disappear, and them with it.

Service desk tech saved consultancy Capita from VPN meltdown, got a smack for it


Fun fun fun in the sun sun sun

Sales droids and management unable to log in and tearing their hair out?

I'd microwave some popcorn, sit back and enjoy the show.

DNA testing biz vows to improve infosec after criminals break into database it forgot it had


SSN isn't just a nuclear submarine

Elephant in the room: what was Cellmark doing with Social Security Numbers in the first place? There is no legitimate need for them outside of employment and banking. Unless Cellmark were coordinating with govt. databases, they should not have been requiring clients to submit them.

Eager young tearaway almost ruined Christmas with printer paper


So much paper, so little time

The techno-kludges of the fanfold era were quite monumental. I remember pictures of large cabinets in which the paper hung as if to let the ink dry, there being some reason to not have it sitting in a stack.

And then - a miracle. Somebody realized that printing miles of paper for people to inspect for problems was a Really Bad Idea.

What was to be done? Answer: print out only the items that looked off. Yes! Exception processing!

Of course, competent programmers are more expensive than old fogies with reading glasses and those funny appliances to keep their shirt sleeves from getting ink on them. But once a problem gets big enough, even the most resistant corporate drone will shell out.

The problem is how big it has to get before the shelling out occurs.

Developers: What if someone said you’d never have to meet with marketing again?


Marketing is the business of selling projects to management

The company has extended automation from Jira to Confluence to make that sort of thing easier: finishing the new version would auto-create the new branch, see the release notes posted for approval, and marketing alerted it’s time to publish that blog post.

What? The idea of marketing being ready to do anything other than insist on last-minute changes is mind-boggling. Certainly if Atlassian are keen on bringing marketing closer to developers, many developers will be updating their CV's. Not to mention the project managers who won't enjoy being bypassed.

As for Confluence, if it's any better than a plain old Wiki I have yet to see it. My recent experience tells me that it's only as good as the people using it. Garbage in, garbage piled everywhere.

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


Ah yes, the days of mysterious beams flashing from one end of campus to the other. We never did get the lowdown on who was doing what, but there were plenty of candidates in Chem, Physics etc. Green was probably Argon-Ion, Red the HeNe. The only laser I ever worked with produced a 1 microsecond pulse at 1.06 microns, so no showing off with that one. Neodymium YAG glass, if anyone cares. Part of the rig was a delay line consisting of 100m of coax still wound on its reel, artlessly placed on the floor. Simple but effective.

'Multiple security breaches' shut down trucker protest



You know, you could have quite a lot of fun setting up websites for these nutjobs, and then having "technical issues" just as their plans were about to come to fruition. Of course, letting the PTB and the PIC listen in on a side channel is a temptation to which you should not succumb.

University students recruit AI to write essays for them. Now what?


Automation and AI

The real truth that automation and AI expose is that most people are a waste of space. This includes Professors of Rhetoric who, amongst other failings, don't understand that the drones in their classes would be happy with a C or a C+. Finding people who care enough to do something well is hard. You can't do it by awarding participation trophies or passing every failing student on to the next mug. In fact, you discourage those who want to do well by passing those who don't care. The fact that the "don't care" crowd vastly outnumber the "give a damn" crowd means that "democratic" education will always produce mediocrity.

TSMC said to be considering first European semiconductor plant


This sounds familiar

Oh yeah, when Asian automobile manufacturers set up shop in the US etc. Simply demonstrating that local yokels are fat, dumb, happy and incompetent, otherwise they'd have expanded local production themselves a long time ago.

Iterable co-founder claims he was ousted because of racial discrimination, not LSD use


A Turk and an Indian guy walk into a meeting....

Well, I guess that's our revelation for the week. Apparently even those who are not from northern Europe, are convinced that the acceptable face of venture capitalism is the proverbial white male.

Come to think of it, the company I bailed on last year was just a Harvard and Yale gloss on an Indian boiler room operation.

You can't judge a company by its website.

How not to test a new system: push a button and wait to see what happens


Re: Doug is not the problem here…

Yes, well, if you'd care to put yourself in Bob's situation, you might think differently. After you've seen enough screwups, you assume that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, and will do it at the most excruciating time.


In related news....

Bill Gates (for it is he) was so convinced that an install of the latest Windows was bulletproof that, while it was being demonstrated by his VP on stage and on live video across the planet, he pulled the plug on the test PC in the middle of the process.

To say that the VP was "white faced" at that point is an understatement.

Boss broke servers with a careless bit of keyboarding, leaving techies to sort it out late on a Sunday


Re: "an on-prem email server"

The Jupiter mission ship in the movie "2001 - A Space Odyssey" was originally designed with large surfaces for heat dispersion when the on-board nuclear reactor was supposed to be working, running the drive system. These were deleted because they looked too much like fins, which, of course, are for ships that fly in atmospheres.

Instead we had the "seminal" design that we saw in the movie, a spherical habitation module connected to the drive module by a long spine. The novel kept the "fins".

UK competition watchdog investigates Apple and Google 'stranglehold' over the mobile market


HMG at it again

It seems oligopoly is a bad thing unless you're a supplier to HMG, in which case the fewer bidders, the better. The UK had a lot of aerospace companies once upon a time. The myrmidons got tired of dealing with all those proles and directed them to merge into one, the better to engage over lunch at the club.

Aviation regulators push for more automation so flights can be run by a single pilot



Maybe it could be "one man and a dog" as in "the man is there to feed the dog. The dog is there to make sure the man doesn't touch the controls."


Sledgehammers to walnuts

Yep, let's spend billions on automation to save millions on salaries.

The nice thing about a mega tech project is that the top people can start one and then bail (with golden parachutes, of course) before the bill comes due.

Just follow the instructions … no wait, not that instruction to lock everyone out of everything



DEC had a bad case of "firstest with the mostest" which was great in the beginning but produced a culture of corporate arrogance, of the "we don't use standards, we are the standard" variety. They were not ready for the rise of Unix or the advent of the PC clone. They were not alone: several of the "workstation" mini-computer companies just couldn't let go of their proprietary systems, not to mention their huge markups.


Writing instruction manuals is an art....

...that few are qualified to practise.

I speak from the depths of yet another design doc that tries its hardest to be everything but. Discursive, digressive, talking about what things are not instead of what they are....

And don't get me started on those "look how smart we are" documents.

But let us also ask why that ever larger tome called "Your car and its features" is 98% warnings and 2% stuff you need to know.

Look! Up in the sky! Proof of concept for satellites beaming energy to Earth!


Never tell me the odds

"It would be visible in the sky like a small moon – too big to be a space station."

Since the satellite would have to stay over one area on the ground, it would be in geosynchronous orbit at 35,786 km. At 1 km across, it wouldn't look particularly big.

Firefox points the way to eradicating one of the rudest words online: PDF


Stop me if you've heard this one

"Here's the challenge: Build a decent online document creation, workflow and life cycle management system that only cares about formats when you tell it to."

Sorta like LaTex?

To make this computer work, users had to press a button. Why didn't it work? Guess


This is the way

To make sure the client presses a button, put a note on it saying "Do Not Press This Button".

Of course, it they do, a notice should appear saying "Please do not press that button again".

CEO told to die in a car crash after firing engineers who had two full-time jobs


Re: Conflating two different things

He's also working for a law firm, who are considered villains in so many ways, not just for all the litigation, but for charging lawyer rates for work that is done by paralegals, being generally ignorant and entitled in their dealings with IT, etc. etc.

So "cheating" his employer in that case drew no disapproval and more than a few cheers.

Now while working for a certain formerly large and well-known corporation, and later working with former employees, I was made aware of how some people were able to start their own independent operations while also managing projects etc. for their immediate employer. Said people went independent, and then had the effrontery to sell their business back to that employer. Given the amount of backstabbing prevalent among the managerial and executive staff, this was no big deal and really just how business got done, almost like it was the mafia.

Meanwhile on the other side of town, people at a different company were running their churches out of their cubicles. Small time, but just as unethical.

Rookie programmer's code goes up in flames ... kind of



A clear demonstration of the ironclad rule:

The last person to touch the system will get blamed for anything that goes wrong. Anything.

PS, you can start a fire with a computer program. At least, when I was running an unexpectedly long program (in BASIC, no less) using a Teletype terminal (yes, 110 baud, 95 db), the terminal eventually got tired of sitting there spinning its wheels, so to speak, and decided to have a quick smoke. Much to the consternation of all the other inhabitants of the erstwhile seminar room where the terminals were kept. Exeunt omnes.

Apple exec sues over 'ageist' removal of $800k stock bonus


Won't somebody tell them?

Pissing off people who know where you bury the bodies is a bad idea. IP enforcement? Do these people have any idea what goes on there?

AI won't take coders' jobs. Humans still rule for now


AI probably won't replace software engineers, but will dramatically change the way they work in the future especially if they can instruct machines using natural language to generate code.

There's an old joke that says, when it's possible to program using English, we will discover that coders do not know how to speak it.

In any case, the trick in software engineering is not to understand code. It's how to deal with vague, ever-shifting and contradictory requirements from clients. When AI can handle that, it's time to worry.

Larry Page's flying taxi startup Kittyhawk calls it a day


Robinson's revenge

There are laws of society and then there are the laws of nature. Nature wins every time.

We know what it takes to push a vehicle up into the air and make it move sideways, because we've been doing it for 80 years. And then somebody comes along with a claim that they can do it smaller and cheaper.

Nope. Smaller means more power because you're moving less air faster. Cheaper isn't going to happen if you need to have a more powerful engine. Like say, 500 hp.

What does Robinson have to do with this? The eponymous company has been manufacturing flying cars in all but name i.e. small helicopters, for decades. They don't use big rotors because it's fashionable. It's necessary.

There have been a few honest efforts at multi-rotor cars that need modest amounts of power. The rotors are big, of course. There have been some laughable efforts keeping the rotors low to the ground. Be careful disembarking. Like those cars that become aircraft (a good car is a lousy aircraft, and vice versa) there's always going to be an impossible scheme pushed by somebody. Flying submarines, anyone?

Appeals court already under fire for upholding Texas no-content-moderation law


Imagine what my surprise will be....

....when State govt. websites start having "technical difficulties".

Chemical plant taken offline by the best one of all: C8H10N4O2


Blinding me with science

"in order to better explain something with both arms"

Reminds me of somebody. Can't quite put my finger on it....

NASA sees our space future as both government and privately run


Slight bias

"NASA sees our space future as both government and privately run"

Well they would, wouldn't they?


Re: No monkeys on the moon yet

He should read "The Man Who Sold the Moon" instead. I swear one day Elon will change his name to D. D. Harriman.

Scientists use supercritical carbon dioxide to power the grid


Re: Degrees F

Thanks to inflation, 5 quid is worth less than the 50p coin was in the days of decimalisation. In spite of which, the Banque d'Angleterre still likes to make a big show of memorialising historic figures on the increasingly irrelevant note de cinq livres


A suggestion...

If you're going to put technical stuff out there in front of highly technical people, you might want to get a Really Knowledgeable Proofreader to go over the article first.

The CHIPS Act won't end US reliance on foreign foundries


Chevy vs. Cadillac

So US companies are doing what they've always done: abandon the low end, low margin work to the overseas companies. Possibly the result of management liking shiny sexy stuff instead of what people really want? The only industry that can't flee the country is food processing, where for some strange reason, low margins coupled with high volume work just fine.