* Posts by Daedalus

1174 posts • joined 15 Oct 2009


Enough with the notifications! Focus Assist will shut them u… 'But I'm too important!'



As many a tale from Tech Support has related, the average drone pays no attention to any message appearing in front of them, and will dismiss it in the quickest way possible, up to and including yanking the power cord. This may, of course, simply be the inevitable result of pouring a stream of notifications they'd rather not deal with down people's throats.

Over to you, Talkie Toaster....

Psst … Want to buy a used IBM Selectric? No questions asked


Re: Hot stuff

Cleaners always turn out to be the weak point in security. Every day I witness them walking unsupervised into labs that I am not able to enter without an escort. Companies haven't yet realized that "nothing in, nothing out" is the security mantra of the future, alone with "RF proof the building, and to hell with cellphone reception".

We've got a photocopier and it can copy anything



ISTR that the best raw material for forging US dollars is (or was) Iraqi Dinars that have been washed and bleached. Same linen exactly.


I'll get my coat...

Using a photocopier inappropriately during an office party?

That would have been a bum rap.

My smartphone has wiped my microSD card again: Is it a conspiracy?


It's 5G...

Well not really. But being in an enclosure that gets hot and is constantly bathed in RF can't be ignored.

Also, peut-etre Mme D est encore un peu radioactif?

Everyone back to the office! Why? Because the decision has been made


The trouble with Jacob

Mr. Rees-Mogg (I can't quite get rid of the memory of Private Eye calling his father "William Rees-Mogadishu") has zero claim to aristocratic birthright. His father may have been educated at Charterhouse and Balliol, but his maternal grandfather drove a lorry and sold cars.

He reminds me of a friend reading Philosophy at college who really embraced the boating blazer, flannels and straw hat, with a monocle no less, but whose father made a living selling dodgy "adjuvants" to older gentlemen eager to keep their mistresses happy (or at least to get their money's worth). Sadly, those spoilsports in Brussels ruined the family business and Bertie, not his real name, was seen modelling for ad campaigns touting diet pills. I believe Bertie was also fond of exotic cheroots consumed via a cigarette holder.

Pity Jake didn't suffer a similar fate. What were the voters thinking? He'd never have made it in Wigan.

I should also mention another hard case, with monocle and plus fours, who followed the aristo formula and took to the cloth, presumably because he could not inherit or join the military. I think he might even have been pastor to someone well known.....

First steps into the world of thought leadership: What could go wrong?


Comic relief

I am 57 and am drunk most of the time. I eat chili nachos and fart on the sofa while watching the rugby and can down at least 10 pints in a session. And yet I am still fucking ace at my work, whatever it is, and despite HR who are always banging on about something or other. Oh and everyone at work fancies me.

You're a professional cartoonist.

CISA and friends raise alarm on critical flaws in industrial equipment, infrastructure


PLC hell

A PLC project and its priorities.

"The XML output isn't formatted for readability"

"It's XML. Use a reader, or just dump it into any web browser."

"We use Notepad++"

"Which has an XML Reader add-on"

Marketeers and sales droids. I wish they'd stick to what they're good at. Whatever that is.

No more fossil fuel or nukes? In the future we will generate power with magic dust


Re: History repeats itself...

A good read, and well worth the Hugo, but he got the physics wrong (he was a biochemist after all). The story revolved around two universes with different strengths of the strong nuclear force, but most of the plot devices required different strengths of the electroweak force.


Impossible things

created two "time crystals" (which are impossible) and brought them into touch (which is impossible).

"If you've done six impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe."

Also: there's a lot more to fusion than emulating the Sun. In fact, if a plant did fusion the way the Sun does, it would have to be at least a 100m cube to compete with the output from conventional power stations.

Brute force and whiskey: The solution to all life's problems



This sounds a bit like the old joke about the pig, the cork, and the monkey

That time a techie accidentally improved an airline's productivity



"Since airlines were the first commercial organisations to use large-scale transaction processing systems, many of their features date back to the late 1950s,"

Well, a certain British Baking & Cafe chain can claim precedence there. This is a famous example of the transformative effect of technology.


Tech hiring freeze doesn't mean people won't leave


Investors are morons

Hype up companies, driving the stock prices into the stratosphere, then when the inevitable collapse in prices happens, demand that the companies cut back regardless of the actual revenue picture. The whole purpose of the cutbacks is to bolster the stock price that was over-inflated to begin with. So they bought high, let them sell low (or rather not quite as high) and take their licks.

The next time your program is 'not responding,' (do not) try these steps


Re: VMs?

There speaks somebody who has never tried to create a VM image for Windoze. Back in the day you could clone a Fedora system to a 4 Gig VM in the time it takes to get coffee, while Bill G's baby took 200 times as long and chewed up 20 times as much disk space.

When management went nuclear on an innocent software engineer


Re: Fixing the wrong problem

Quite often the manglers will give you the stink-eye if you try to talk to the grunts. Or they'll tell your manglers to tell you to do what you're told.


Something about Americans.....

I remember a UK TV show about some quasi-military obstacle course with clues and puzzles to solve where, when an American team got involved they took every opportunity to try to cheat. It's as if "Do this" and "Don't do this" were invitations to do the opposite for them. A guy I knew over here in the USA thought nothing of breaking into his high school to hit baseballs in the gym, damaging the walls and ceiling. Several friends look back on their wild antics with misty-eyed nostalgia. And they're the ones who survived!


Bad memories

Once our little company was more or less joined at the hip to a large local corporation, so we had chunks of their stuff on site including a little DEC cluster. We would get OS updates from time to time on the main box. One time this lady, who we thought did not suffer from the corporation's particular brand of casual incompetence, dropped by, plugged in one of those beautiful DECtape cartridges, ran the update and left without doing a smoke test.

Of course when we tried firing it up we were up the creek. I believe the DECnet address had something to do with it, but anyway there was enough grey matter on hand to recover things after a delay that we could ill afford. Unfortunately our owner/manglers were of the shrugging persuasion, so no retribution could be had.

We can bend the laws of physics for your super-yacht, but we can't break them


"The dance of the lead-bellied lolly gobblers" - once said about the pre-start maneuvering of the more traditional sailboats in the America's Cup.


"Sailing: The Fine Art of Getting Wet and Becoming Ill While Slowly Going Nowhere at Great Expense"

- "Ship's Log" by Henry Beard and Roy McKie


Re: "why can't you make it like my connection at home?"

Well you can always tell Mr. Big that, for a modest investment in rockets and satellites, he could have his own personal satellite communications network.

Wait, that rings a bell....


The rich are indeed different

I listened to a radio documentary about the highest of the high fashion industry, in which it was revealed that the WAGs of the rich will buy a eye-wateringly expensive outfit from a fashion house, wear it once, and send it out to be cleaned.

At which point they either forget about it, or simply move on to the next outfit, leaving the cleaners with warehouses full of unclaimed haute couture.

Confirmation dialog Groundhog Day: I click OK and it keeps coming back


Re: Oh. My. God.

I was once on a project that had an error logger, with output going to a printer when desired. The slightly confused developer was asked what he would do if the error logger had an error. He said he would log the error. We pointed out that he was exclusively in charge of the printer, so he could print whatever he needed to. He said "Oh".

That was the only good thing in that particular review.

NASA's modified Boeing 747 SP SOFIA to be grounded for good


Re: Shame, but understandable

I've walked through one of the Concorde engineering test bed prototypes at Duxford. I may be a bit tall as people go, but even so I had to wonder why anyone would tolerate such a cramped cabin for the sake of a few hours saved (at great expense, of course).

Meetings in the metaverse: Are your Mikes on?


Re: Wifi-- NEVER!

Even when we moved from the "cheap and cheerful consumer boxes" spread around the building to "mesh is cool mesh will follow you around" it was still common to find that, in the conference room with the mesh module looming UFO-like above you, you were still getting your feed from the lonely smoke alarm lookalike outside your office far away. Disconnecting and reconnecting was usually necessary.

Not that we really needed the WiFi in the first place. Video calls where little can be resolved of the calling office, other than the fact that one person is hogging the limelight and others are wondering when the break happens, need relatively little bandwidth. A video call is just a face to face with the option to turn down the volume.


Re: Metaverse metafictional metaphorically

What gets me about the bot filters is how USA-centric they tend to be. "Click all squares with school buses"? I suppose a well-informed European knows about the yellow bus fleets, but who else? And frankly, some of those pictures are so poor that you have a hard time seeing anything, let alone a groundhog or a chipmunk.


Metaverse metafictional metaphorically

It was 35 years ago, or thereabouts, that certain visionaries who shall remain nameless decided that we would all interact online via ourselves or "agents" (non-Matrix variety) who would stand in for us whenever we could not be in front of the obligatory two-way Visi-screen, to borrow from Orwell. Not having the absence of modesty predicted by Asimov in "The Naked Sun", we would be permitted to cloak the all-seeing eye while changing for that daily bike ride that was promised but somehow never materialised. Asimov's "Done viewing" would not be an option, at least during office hours.

FF>> to recent years and fiction is now populated with avatars, real people and "fakes", the last being autonomous programs that pretend to be us in order to deal with those tedious formalities like acknowledging your message, remembering your <insert anniversary or significant event>, or telling you that your idea is rubbish.

In fact, there's no reason why a simple mod of Alexa, Cortana, Siri or Eliza (a program that pretends to be a therapist), could not replace the average meeting attendant. Just add a different voice and change the name. If necessary, some sarcasm and a tendency to argue back and forth about nothing could be added, making the simulation complete.

For the record, I am not a robot. Yet.

A discounting disaster averted at the expense of one's own employment


Re: those beans don't count

It's true. The surprising part of the tale is that none of the managers tried to claim credit for the temp's work. Either they were scrupulously honest or they knew that no good deed goes unpunished.

Ex IT chief at Homeland Security watchdog stole US govt software to pirate


Hire from the commercial sector, they said

This sort of thing happens all the time in large corporations. Develop software on the side while working for the company, go solo, sell the software (and often, your company) back to your former employer, retire rich.

The late Howard Hughes surrounded himself with Mormons, it was reported, on the grounds that they were honest, morally sound, and kept their mouths shut. He may have been onto something.

Buying a USB adapter: Pennies. Knowing where to stick it: Priceless



It's been some years since I shopped back in the old country, but given that I paid a fiver for a measly adapter plug to let me charge my phone, fifty quid for anything seems like a bargain. Depending, of course, on the vintage of this tale. It could be from the time when I spent fifty quid on a second-hand guitar, the equivalent today of (checks calculator) er, oh dear....


Re: Is $261 per hour that much in the IT world?

Well, Digital Equipment used to charge astronomical hourly rates, depending on how you looked at the job.

Technician pulls jumper to double memory on an installed PDP-11 board: $500. Figure travel time, getting past security (if there was any) and it's....still a lot per hour.

Technician installs and configures RS-232 card: Similar charge, but in the case I saw the tech was an absolute plonker, sat reading the manual for ages, and was eventually evicted from the premises, invoice unpaid. Technically zero dollars per hour, could have been a lot more if he'd known what he was doing.

VAX sysgen: about $5K, but given that a friend knew how to do it in a couple of hours, you do the maths.

This may seem weird but don't give us all the chip funding, say Intel and friends


Re: The long game

Exactly. And given the ecology of large companies, they know that their own staff would find creative ways to waste the cash, whereas giving it to (hopefully legitimate) hungry entrepreneurs will let them jump in when the time is ripe and maybe even replace some of their oldsters with new blood.

The time you solved that months-long problem in 3 seconds


Re: I replaced a network cable.

My way of dealing with the Scrooges is to say this:

"If it only costs you money, it's cheap"

In the graveyard of good ideas, how does yours measure up to these?


Re: At Semtex451, re: managers.

In former times, advice to entrepreneurs pitching to financiers read like this:

1. Use simple words

2. Write on one side of the paper only

3. Assume that you are speaking to a collection of gin-sodden taxi drivers

How to get banned from social media without posting a thing


Re: There's your answer!

That letter is now in the Library of Congress

Pop quiz: The network team didn't make your change. The server is in a locked room. What do you do?


Re: Under the floor

One office I worked at had a motion detector on the inside of the entrance to let people out without any waving of tags or punching of codes.

What the designers had failed to notice was the gap between the double doors, through which one might have passed something, perhaps a card in a cleft stick (copyright Evelyn Waugh) to wave in the hope of tripping the detector from outside.

I toyed with the idea of mentioning this to somebody, but meh. After a decade or so in the business, you give up on fixing stupid.

Another company, a little startup, had a small cube farm carved out of a loading dock space using flimsy looking walls, secured with a card swipe lock. I didn't have the heart to tell them that any thieves would probably gain access with a crowbar before resorting to any electronic jiggery pokery.

Why should I pay for that security option? Hijacking only happens to planes


Re: On the topic of domain names expiring

No no no. A real BOFH would have kept schtum until such time as he left the company, then let the name expire as a parting shot. Managerial incompetence should not be rewarded, even if large amounts of dosh are exchanged.

On Christmas night, a computer logs a call to say his user has stopped working…


Oldie but goodie

In the AI controlled world of the future, all installations will be manned (or dogged) by One Man and A Dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to stop the man touching anything.

Dutch nuclear authority bans anti-5G pendants that could hurt their owners via – you guessed it – radiation


Re: Double take

"Anti-5G pants, Gromit! Ex-NASA!"

£42k for a top-class software engineer? It's no wonder uni research teams can't recruit



While developing software I felt lucky to be treated as something other than a basic desk jockey.

"Hey, you have a desk, a chair, a keyboard and a monitor just like any other drone. Your parking spot is in the next town over, and you can have a key card when we get around to it."

Microsoft signs settlement with US Justice Dept over 'immigration-related discrimination' claims



The Feds labour mightily and bring forth a mouse. I mean, all that effort for a fine that even a poor IT drone could pay off. An application of Hanlon's Razor is appropriate here: no malice, just incompetence. We might note that such incompetence is rife in areas like Health Insurance (forever asking for copies of patient records that they then lose) but no Federal wrath descends there.

As an ex-PR myself, now naturalized, I never had any problem showing my green card. Here it is, now bugger off. BTW it wasn't green.

This House believes: A unified, agnostic software environment can be achieved


Long long time ago

Well, there was this sales droid, see. Or maybe a marketeer. Either way, he, she, or it is reported to have said "You don't want to get locked in to open standards".

There, in a nutshell, is the problem. The people who call the shots (a) don't have a clue, and (b) are focused on locking all the cattle in the barn where they can be milked with extreme prejudice. Any mention of common standards is taken as somebody else beckoning the herd to their barn, not a way to ensure the future of the human race as users of technology.

BTW the open standards we are talking about are from the Posix vs VMS era. Nothing changes.

Cruel and unusual IT fail upstages Megan Fox. Transformers: Windows in disguise


No, it's ex-hubby Brian Austin Green who's sick of seeing the mother of his children parading the goods everywhere.

There's only one cure for passive-aggressive Space Invader bosses, and that's more passive aggression


Re: Workplace Bullying

Bob may have been a mangler-dweeb. Unable to schmooze or even politely suggest actions, they have to content themselves with dark looks and sinister monotones. They are, of course, regular dweebs that made the mistake of allowing themselves to be promoted in fulfillment of the Peter Principle. I once found myself on the wrong end of a discussion with one such, who while still technically a Team Leader had clearly crossed over the Styx. What some people will pay for a corner office. It didn't even have a window.


Re: Dreaming of a white alibi

Another anti-manglement exploit from the Bastard Operator From Hell Frozen Over.

The Ministry of Silly Printing: But I don't want my golf club correspondence to say 'UNCLASSIFIED' at the bottom


Re: Way Back...

The chances are that most people there used basic typewriters that only did the kind of fonts we now recognize as Courier etc. IBM Selectrics could do much more elegant fonts with those interchangeable typeface spheroids and they did proportional spacing as well, making for a much nicer looking letter.

Reg debate asks readers about their post pandemic status. Half ask, 'What status?'


Re: "management never forgives and never forgets"

They never forgive you pointing out a mistake. They never forget you making them look silly.


Daedelus ??

You'd think they'd at least spell my monicker right.

In a far distant time one of my aphorisms got printed in a book by a programming guru. He got my name wrong too.

Honeymoons last a couple of weeks – the same goes for any love for the IT department


We all know why...

As long as companies in a certain country will make outlandish claims as to their own efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and as long as suits in other countries will believe in those claims (or at least push them to get a promotion), IT will continue to be subject to long periods of downsizing interrupted by episodes of sheer unbridled panic.

Sharing is caring, except when it's your internet connection


A tale often told..

"This is XXX in room YYY. Your Hotel WiFi is terrible!!"

"We'll take a look it sir.....it appears you are connecting to the tattoo parlour on the other side of the car park...."



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