* Posts by Daedalus

944 posts • joined 15 Oct 2009


British Army does not Excel at spreadsheets: Soldiers' newly announced promotions are revoked after sorting snafu

Daedalus Silver badge

I sympathize

I have yet to get a spreadsheet to sort properly. There's usually an objection to the number of cells selected, or to some of them being merged, without actually pointing out to me what the solution is or which cells are a problem. My usual fix is to copy and paste the data into Word, which still understands sorting.

China requires gamers to reveal real names and map them to frag-tastic IDs

Daedalus Silver badge

Good move

Yes, in a country where 85% percent of the population has one of only 100 family names, making gamers use their real names should work.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin. Hang on, the PDP 11/70 has dropped offline

Daedalus Silver badge

Manglers just do stuff like that. I had one once, he was a nice guy but he did have this habit of walking into my cube and parking his posterior on any flat surface. The fact that all flat surfaces were merely large shelves attached to the cube walls deterred him not at all.

Well, there was also a rolling file cabinet that slid under the "desktop". I jammed a few empty CD cases between cabinet and shelf in anticipation of his next visit.

The resulting CRACK!! as he sat down may have persuaded him to change his ways....

Mainframe madness as the snowflakes take control – and the on-duty operator hasn't a clue how to stop the blizzard

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Operator revenge

Not so fun when your Sparc 10 grinds to a halt because the master build script designated you for running some distributed builds, after it noticed you had some percent free cycles 30 minutes ago. All the while the lucky sods with Sparc 20's carried on regardless.

As soon as I found that script I made some changes for it to update the "available" list more often, and to favor the 20's more than the 10's.

You're testing them wrong: Whiteboard coding interviews are 'anti-women psychological stress examinations'

Daedalus Silver badge

How interesting.....

Test subjects: undergraduate and graduate students with knowledge of Java etc.

Uh oh. Haven't we seen this in "studies" before? Psychology papers touting "findings" that turn out to be limited to a small section of the population but are touted as being universal?

Would a company really subject a freshly minted graduate to that kind of interview? More fool them. Or maybe not. The young "engineers" I have seen handling presentation stress badly, turned out to be pretty bad at their jobs anyway. On the other hand beware of smooth talkers too. Somewhere between puking and blagging there is competency. The real problem is that the interviewers tend to be Peter Principle graduates: equipped for jobs they no longer do, having risen to their own level of incompetence.

Daedalus Silver badge

The screaming dread....

I once had an interview with a funny little company that culminated in "write a small program in C to take input from the terminal, sort it and output it". My Unix was a bit rusty, but nothing ventured. Some input mangling, a linked list and a qsort later, I looked up and 3 hours were gone.

"Wow, that took a lot longer than I hoped", I said to the nice guy in charge.

"You did fine," he said. "We had one guy wanted to take the test home with him and do it there. (Yeah, right). Another just ran out screaming".

Trump U-turns on foreign student crackdown: F-1, M-1 visa holders allowed to study online mid-pandemic in the US

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: They were getting sued.....

Private Eye said it best, in re the demise of Robert Maxwell (for it is he!) and his Pergamon Press. Ghislaine is following a proud tradition.

"The rats leaving the stinking sh#t"

The reluctant log trawler: The buck stops with the back-end

Daedalus Silver badge

On the care and feeding of manglement

Admit it, we all love to show off how smart we are. It's often a mistake.

I have found that the last thing you want to do is put out an e-mail about what you found that might impact money or security. First option is to keep quiet. It's not your bottom line, after all. Second is to "let it slip" to someone, but choose carefully. If it's someone who will steal the idea for themselves, so much the better. The third option is to leave some clues lying around, but given the cluelessness that abounds, this rarely works.

Let's face it, if you stop them screwing up one way, they will find another.

Another anti-immigrant rant goes viral in America – and this time it's by a British, er, immigrant tech CEO

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: The flip side

Not revealed as fiction so far....

ObCorrection: it's Bordeaux, not Provence.

Daedalus Silver badge

The flip side

An ex-pat living in France - no not Dabbsy - is tweeting the tale of a couple of Brexiteers who were shocked, shocked, to find that their plans to retire to Provence had been torpedoed by EU residency rules. They sent their bellend of a son to "negotiate" with the local mayor, as if he could change things. Son is several levels less intelligent than Karl Pilkington and, after miraculously finding his way to the Dordogne (losing his shoes along the way), he managed to get himself pepper-sprayed and offered accommodations in the local jail.

Which would be off-topic except that the pro-Brexit, anti-EU crowd took it upon themselves to punish the tweeter for demonstrating what Brexit meant for Brits. With help from a friendly IT person or two he managed to get back online, and some eager purveyors of Brexit purity are now having conversations with the competent authorities.

Trump's bright idea of kicking out foreign students unless unis resume in-person classes stuns tech, science world

Daedalus Silver badge

Damn veeps

These tech company veeps are complaining about how they won't get qualified (read "cheap") foreign tech workers out of US universities. Pity they could put all their clout, such as it might be, into derailing the dumbing down of the education system at home.

It's all about the Benjamins!

MIT apologizes, permanently pulls offline huge dataset that taught AI systems to use racist, misogynistic slurs

Daedalus Silver badge

Diagnosis human

The data gatherers are to be congratulated for compiling a database that accurately reflects how people think and feel about each other.

Yes, the outcomes didn't meet with their approval. A look at humanity and its history says that their approval is irrelevant. Humans will do what they do regardless, and are doing it everywhere, much to the consternation of the kumbaya brigade.

It was once said that if computers ever became intelligent, they would turn out to be just as bad as us. Well, looks like that one came true.

Windows fails to reach the Finnish line as Helsinki signage pleads for help

Daedalus Silver badge

Hammers and walnuts

Long ago I pointed out to the intrepid pair who founded our company that having a laptop sitting in the reception area, shuffling through slides extolling our virtues, was problematic in all kinds of ways. Why not, I suggested, buy one of those photo display panels instead? Put all the slides on a thumb drive, and there you go. Cheaper and you don't care so much if it walks away.

This stewed for a while until one day the two skinflints realized they had "won" a tiny cheapo photo panel from the local business boosterism org. It duly appeared in place of the laptop. All parties satisfied, I suppose.

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


B. S. Johnson Inc.

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Daedalus Silver badge

Wilson, Kepple and Betty?

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Re: Got to be something about Clippy


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!


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.



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