* Posts by phuzz

6594 publicly visible posts • joined 23 Feb 2010

How is this problem mine, techie asked, while cleaning underground computer

phuzz Silver badge

Re: Ah.. the joy...

I went to uni in Exeter, my local bakers sold Devonshire pasties, "none of that Cornish muck in here!".

phuzz Silver badge

Re: Dirt

As far as I'm concerned, keyboards and mice are consumables, and if I get a particularly gross example I'll chuck it in the bin without a second thought.

Ubuntu's 'Mantic Minotaur' peeks out of the labyrinth

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If Ubuntu's new encryption system is based on LUKS, then it would still be possible to unlock the disk in a different computer (or in a different OS) as long as you had the original recovery password somewhere.

Even if they don't use LUKS, then I assume Ubuntu will still have some sort of 'recovery key' that you generate at install time, as that's how every other full-disk encryption does it.

Getting to the bottom of BMW's pay-as-you-toast subscription failure

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Re: Moving House

I got rid of all my CDs recently, even though they had massive sentimental value to me, purely because I didn't have space for them any more, and I never listened to them.

I do still listen to the music of course, because I ripped them all to MP3 years ago, and no one can stop me from doing that.

There is alternatives between 'horde physical media' and 'streaming everything'.

Britcoin or Britcon? Bank of England grilled on Digital Pound privacy concerns

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Re: @jmch

There's an advantage that paper money always has over a digital currency, even after a complete banking crash.

In such a scenario, both digital, and paper cash would be worthless as currency, but at least you can wipe your arse with a banknote :)

Chap blew up critical equipment on his first day – but it wasn't his volt

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Re: It doesn't always smoke though

A user decided to set a BIOS password on their (company) laptop, which, of course, they had forgotten by the time they handed it in for a new one.

As it was still in warranty, the solution was to run the terminals of a 9V battery across the mainboard a couple of times until it wouldn't boot, then ring up the support line.

Thanks for sending out the replacement mainboard so quickly Dell ;)

PEBCAK problem transformed young techie into grizzled cynical sysadmin

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USB-A will just fit in a RJ45 socket. A user taught me this, when they came to ask me why their device wasn't working...

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Re: Plausible...

I was thinking to myself "4Gb is overkill for an ATM anyway, all they need to do is display a GUI and contact the bank's database, it's not like they need to run a web browser".

Then I realised, I bet a lot of ATMs do have to run a web browser, to display adverts etc.

I'm sure that's fine, with no possible security implications whatsoever...

Decades-old Home Office asylum system misses EOL deadline, no new timetable in place

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Re: so the government and the red-tops can crow that the 'number of asylum seekers is dropping'

It's the utter idiocy, the sheer wrong-headedness of the response that beggars belief. I mean, your society's broken, so who should we blame? Should we blame the rich, powerful people who caused it? No let's blame the people with no power and no money and these immigrants who don't even have the vote, yeah it must be their fucking fault.

Iain (M.) Banks

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Re: Legacy??

MS Access has always used Jet as it's database engine. (Well, in 2007 they changed the name to "Access Database Engine", but it's still basically Jet.).

Mind you, a spin off from the original Jet is used as the database behind Active Directory, Sharepoint, Word, Exchange and Windows Search among other things.

If you work in IT, on average, you're never more than two metres away from a Jet database.

Windows File Explorer gets nostalgic speed boost thanks to one weird bug

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Re: just get Linux already

if you want to get rid of Microsoft Windows, why WINE?

Because using Linux exclusively is going to drive you to drink ;)

Microsoft admits slim staff and broken automation contributed to Azure outage

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Re: Bluescreens

BSoD's are usually bad drivers, when they're not bad hardware (dodgy RAM will crash any software), but badly written antivirus or anticheat can also be the problem.

CrowView: A clamp-on, portable second laptop display

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Re: "Portable Display" means what?

Isn't that Arzopa monitor more expensive than the one being reviewed?

I'm all for 3D printing things, but if I can spend less money and not have to bother....

Farewell WordPad, we hardly knew ye

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Re: So LibreOffice it is then.

Notepad++ is a fantastic text editor, but Wordpad fills (filled) a different niche of being a very simple word processor.

They're both designed for different, although superficially similar jobs.

Personally I can't think of any simple word processors like it, all the alternatives are full-fat.

Microsoft calls time on ancient TLS in Windows, breaking own stuff in the process

phuzz Silver badge

Some devices are so old they only support old standards, and the manufacturer has given up supporting them. That leaves you with the choice of either finding a way to work around it (segmented network, keeping an old browser around to talk to it), or buying a newer device.

I'm thinking in particular of some APC power distribution units we have, which don't have firmware updates available, but upgrading them will involve unplugging the power to several devices, not all of which have reliably redundant power supplies. (I've been burned before by supposedly 'redundant' PSUs which fail when they have to support the load they're supposed to be rated for).

Fortunately we don't need access to their web interfaces more than once every few years, so they can be left without networking, and we have an old laptop we can plug in if they ever need a tweak.

BOFH: What a beautiful tinfoil hat, Boss!

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Ah, art imitates life.

I was once doing some desktop support at a customer's office (fixing Outlook iirc), and I'd got as far as the desk of one of the PR people who wasn't there at that moment, giving me the opportunity to get my work done without distractions. However, as soon as I tried to use the mouse, I found a problem. Someone had sellotaped a two pence coin to the bottom of the mouse, meaning the optical sensor only worked intermittently. I pulled it off, and got on with my work. As I was finishing up, the user came wandering back to their desk, chatting away on a mobile phone the whole way. I outlined the work I'd done, and mentioned that 'someone' had stuck a coin to the bottom of the mouse. They replied that they had done it "so that the copper would protect me from the harmful electromagnetic radiation".

I looked at them, the mobile phone still up by their ear, the copper-coated steel coin, and just politely suggested that if they were worried about EM radiation, they should probably close their curtains* and walked off, heroically resiting the urge to either laugh in their face or start crying at the state of the world.

Honestly, that level of ignorance would probably come across as 'unrealistic' if Simon included it in a BOfH story.

* After all, the sun produces an enormous amount of harmful UV radiation. It's certainly the most dangerous electromagnetic radiation that most people encounter on a daily basis.

Japan complains Fukushima water release created terrifying Chinese Spam monster

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People tend to complain about the things they think are worse.

That's what they want you to think!!!111!!


(Although to be fair, historically governments have tended to lie about, and cover up, the impacts of nuclear disasters, so some scepticism is warranted.)

Two teens were among those behind the Lapsus$ cyber-crime spree, jury finds

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Re: Hold on...

If someone is found to be unfit to stand trial, but the court thinks they may be a danger to other people, they can be 'sectioned', and locked up in a secure psychiatric hospital. In some ways that's worse than prison, because there's no set sentence, or possibility of parol, they're locked up until the doctors think they're no longer a danger.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_Health_Act_1983

Concorde? Pffft. NASA wants a Mach 4 passenger jet

phuzz Silver badge

Re: The real problem with Concorde.....

the fundamental problem with Concorde is that it outperformed most, if not all, US military jets

It's not just the speed, it's the range too. Concorde could supercruise at mach two across the entire Atlantic. An F-22 can go faster, but not for as long.

I've heard that the average Concorde pilot clocked up more supersonic hours in one year, than every USAF pilot put together.

Tornado Cash 'laundered over $1B' in criminal crypto-coins

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He's not been jailed for anything, he's awaiting trial and he's being charged with deliberately writing code, specifically to launder money, knowing full well that it would be used for illegal purposes. His lawyers say that he had no idea that it was going to be used for money laundering.

I don't know exactly how the Dutch legal system works, but I assume the prosecution will have to prove he intended to use the code for money laundering 'beyond reasonable doubt', and if they're taking it to court they presumably believe they have enough evidence to do so.

SmartNICs haven't soared so VMware will allow retrofits in old servers

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Re: Is CXL pricing really as keen as claimed here?

If all the network communication is flowing through the device, then it might be possible to hack it directly via malformed packets or something, and then use that as a way to attack the rest of the server.

For example

Why these cloud-connected 3D printers started making junk all by themselves

phuzz Silver badge

Re: Sounds like this cloud thing was programmed as if it was a local server

I've had that exact problem with Epson receipt printers. The job prints fine, but for some reason that information never makes it back to CUPS, which keeps re-trying the job. As the printers are attached to cash drawers, this also results in the drawer going DING and shooting open, which can be a bit of a surprise.

(This is also fun for pranks, I knew a colleague had a cash drawer set up on a test bench, so I remotely sent a print, then messaged him to ask if I'd managed to surprise him. I certainly had, especially when the cash drawer had sprung open, and shoved the computer right off the desk :)

Lesson 1: Keep your mind on the ... why aren't the servers making any noise?

phuzz Silver badge

Re: Tabla Rasa

So you prefer to take the sensible, forward-thinking, approach to problems? Clearly not management material!

Lock-in to legacy code is a thing. Being locked in by legacy code is another thing entirely

phuzz Silver badge

Re: Door Access Readers

If "going equipped" isn't a law locally, then they can still find something else to charge you with. At the end of the day, it's the cop's word against yours.

Chinese media teases imminent exposé of seismic US spying scheme

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Re: I'm very dubious about this

GPS has a similar system, but access to the high precision signals was opened to the public in 2000. That access could be removed though, if the US government wanted to. Galileo also has a high-precision signal that is limited to governments.

phuzz Silver badge

Re: I'm very dubious about this

Yes you can get information about large earthquakes from anywhere, but only sensors in China are likely to pick up, eg, a weapons test there. Having access to local sensors gives much better resolution and sensitivity.

It's like the difference between spying on a building with a surveillance satellite vs someone with a camera in a building across the street.

Cumbrian Police accidentally publish all officers' details online

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Re: For all the billions spent on giant...

"The PR department has complained it takes too long to publish to the website, so we need you to create a shared folder they can just drop the files into. Yes I know it's a bad idea but the head of PR is sleeping with the boss who is breathing down my neck so just get it done."

phuzz Silver badge

Re: How?

There are technological solutions to human error, but I believe the BoFH holds most of the patents on them, and you also need a good supply of quick lime.

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

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Re: I like Americans…

Yeah, but you've gotta laugh, because the only other option would be crying.

Get 'em while you can: Intel begins purging NUCs from inventory

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The reason I've been using them at work over other options is mostly the support. The hardware is really robust, it happily accepts whatever RAM etc. we put in it, and the Linux support has been perfect.

When we've tested alternatives we've had problems with machines which only work with certain brands of RAM, or a NIC which is only supported on the very latest kernel (at the time we were using it).

Of course, it's easy to like them when someone else is paying for them, but on the other hand small foibles that are easy to fix/work around on your home machine, become a big problem when you have tens of machines in remote locations.

I guess next time I need to buy more hardware we'll have to see how the Asus ones turn out, or if there's any reliable alternatives.

US Supreme Court allows 'ghost guns' to fall under federal purview

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While you can mostly 3d print a gun, it's still easier to make a functional* one out of metal in a modestly equipped garage.

The part that's difficult to make at home is ammunition. While you might be able to knock up black powder in your kitchen, making primers or cartridge cases is a lot more tricky.

Of course, in the US you can just buy it in your local supermarket instead.

* ie one that can fire more than once without blowing your hand off.

Never mind room temperature, LK-99 slammed as 'not a superconductor at all'

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Doesn’t this mean you can control superconductivity?

No. It shows that an electric current has an associated magnetic field. (Exactly how that magnetic field interacts with whatever magnetism the sample has, might have some interesting science, but it's just normal old electromagnetism).

However, we can already control superconductivity. Heat up a superconductor above it's critical temperature and it will cease to superconduct, and vice versa.

Northern Ireland police may have endangered its own officers by posting details online in error

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Re: Human error, poor policy or slack management?

I'm going to guess that the spreadsheet had multiple sheets.

Many people don't realise that it's possible to have more than one sheet in a spreadsheet, so they'd have loaded it up, looked at the active sheet, and assumed that was everything that was included.

No policy can guard against a sufficient amount of human stupidity.

We'd pay good money to see... oh dear, Elon Musk 'needs an MRI scan'

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Well, a croc is probably bigger than a human, but they can hit maybe 20mph. They don't run very far, but that probably doesn't help much if you're standing too close...

phuzz Silver badge

I've not been paying much attention to this whole cage thing. The idea is we're going to chuck Musk and Zuck into a cage and then throw away the key, right?

Official science: People do less, make more mistakes on Friday afternoons

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I bet elReg's page views go up on a Friday afternoon (adjusted for timezone). There's a reason BoFH comes out on Fridays.

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

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Re: Getting stuck in a lift is no fun

The cows thought you were the farmer, come to feed them.

Not that it's not scary when a bunch of cows turn up, and you realise that while they're 'just' herbivores, they can seriously injure you just by stepping on you, and you stop feeling so secure at the top of the food chain.

You'd probably have been fine though, as long as they didn't have calves around.

Fed-up Torvalds suggests disabling AMD’s 'stupid' performance-killing fTPM RNG

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Re: If Torvalds says so

"If Linus Torvalds told you to jump of a cliff would you?" (imagine this in your mum's voice)

A room-temperature, ambient-pressure superconductor? Take a closer look

phuzz Silver badge

At the Earth's surface there's roughly 1kW of solar energy per square metre, but that's at all wavelengths. A typical solar panel will produce around 150-200W of electricity per square meter (under ideal conditions etc.), so you're out by at least three orders of magnitude I'm afraid.

phuzz Silver badge

Fusion is definitely a thing, and we already get a significant part of our electricity from it...in the form of solar power.

Pedantry aside, I'm pretty confident that humans will be able to create a fusion power plant that creates more energy than is put in. Whether that will be at a cost that will be commercially viable is a different question.

Creator of the Unix Sysadmin Song explains he just wanted to liven up a textbook

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Microsoft care quite a lot about backward compatibility. After all, they want to sell new versions of their products to companies still using older applications. Here for example is a calculator program that will run on any (x86) Windows from 95 to 11 with the same binary.

If you're looking for a company that doesn't care about backwards compatibility, Apple is the one. They seem to deliberately change things to force people to upgrade.

TETRA radio comms used by emergency heroes easily cracked, say experts

phuzz Silver badge

Re: Really need to fast track a NIST style open radio design competition

The UK military wish they were using something as modern as TETRA...

Linux lover consumed a quarter of the network

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Re: Charlie Says

Fortunately I was born in the 80's, so I only remember it from the Prodigy tune:


BOFH: You can be replaced by a robot or get your carbon footprint below Big Dave's

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"If you're not lucky, you'll just be a disembodied head on a screen."

That doesn't sound too bad. Unless he goes computer senile of course, and gets replaced by Queeg 500...

Microsoft's Surface Pro 9 requires a tedious balancing act

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As it says in a sidebar to TFA:

PCs and alternative devices have increasingly diversified into myriad and marvellous forms, so I've decided that I'll use a new one whenever I can – from the mainstream to the weird – and share the experience. Buy at your own risk: these aren't recommendations or formal reviews. They’re a letter from behind the keyboard of a computer we've visited for a week or so. This article is the latest in the Desktop Tourism series.

ie, it was a review unit, they didn't buy it.

China succeeds where Elon Musk has failed with first methalox rocket

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Re: Not apples to apples

And as methane is a stronger greenhouse gas than CO2, burning CH4 to CO2 is practically green!

phuzz Silver badge

Re: Interesting but not earth shattering

Only slightly less fun than fluorine, is it's sibling chlorine, so you can start to imagine the fun when you somehow bond them into one molecule of ClF3. What they were thinking, is that chlorine trifloride is a stronger oxidiser than oxygen!

Of course any mention of CLF3 is a good excuse to roll out the quote from John Clark's Ignition!:

”[Chlorine trifluoride] is, of course, extremely toxic, but that's the least of the problem. It is hypergolic with every known fuel, and so rapidly hypergolic that no ignition delay has ever been measured. It is also hypergolic with such things as cloth, wood, and test engineers, not to mention asbestos, sand, and water-with which it reacts explosively. It can be kept in some of the ordinary structural metals-steel, copper, aluminium, etc.-because of the formation of a thin film of insoluble metal fluoride which protects the bulk of the metal, just as the invisible coat of oxide on aluminium keeps it from burning up in the atmosphere. If, however, this coat is melted or scrubbed off, and has no chance to reform, the operator is confronted with the problem of coping with a metal-fluorine fire. For dealing with this situation, I have always recommended a good pair of running shoes.”

Intel pulls plug on mini-PC NUCs

phuzz Silver badge

I'm sure the one's made by (eg) MSI are fine, but what I've liked about all the Intel NUCs I've used at work is that they're really well made, and really well supported in software. Oh, and Intel are still releasing BIOS (UEFI) updates for models they discontinued years ago.

We'll probably save someone money moving to a different brand, but I suspect that will be offset by me having to deal with flimsy hardware and odd software. It's less of a problem if you just want an HTPC, but reliability is much more important when you have hundreds of machines spread across the whole country to support.

Free Wednesday gift for you lucky lot: Extra mouse button!

phuzz Silver badge

Re: Only ever used the middle button on CDE desktop on Solaris!

Once you've used a mouse with bark/forward buttons, you'll never want to use a three button mouse ever again.

Oh, great. Yet another tech billionaire thinks he can get microblogging right

phuzz Silver badge

That might be a good plan, if the business model of any social media platform didn't rely on all of it's value coming from it's users.

If there's no users, not only do advertisers not want to spend money, but also new users don't want to join either.