* Posts by Electric Panda

219 publicly visible posts • joined 26 May 2010


Epic cut: Fortnite games maker culls 16% of staff

Electric Panda

Re: Unreal

I remember being aghast and disappointed at how bad Unreal Tournament 3 was. UT2003 and 2004 were absolute legendary games, but UT3 was a disaster - it performed really badly and just wasn't fun.

Hence the franchise died, but the engine that bears its name lives on. I think the reason there isn't a brand new Unreal Tournament game these days is probably because of Fortnite, and the old UT formula seeming perhaps rather old fashioned these days.

Electric Panda

At this point I can easily see Epic doing literally nothing except Fortnite and the Unreal Engine itself. What other actual complete games have they shipped lately?

Even Gears is no longer made by Epic Games and got farmed out.

IBM Software tells workers: Get back to the office three days a week

Electric Panda

Quite a lot of the time these "X in Y out" regimes are a mere fig leaf for the fact that there just isn't enough desk space to begin with.

In many cases it is simply a glorified hotdesk rotas, and I know of at least one organisation (a friend works there) where as a result you don't even get to choose which days are which. If your alotted days are Monday, Tuesday, Friday, then that's you. You are NOT allowed in on Wednesday and Thursday even if you want to, unless you find someone willing to swap.

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

Electric Panda

Re: Actually...

At my place Teams is generally a sea of yellow from Friday lunchtime onwards, with most are offline for good much earlier in the day.

I get the ick messaging anyone from about 3pm onwards.

NASA mistakenly severs communication to Voyager 2

Electric Panda

Voyager amazes me

Consider this.

They have both maintained near enough 100% uptime and have worked continuously, near enough flawlessly, while moving ever deeper into space at an incredibly high speed. They are still able to send highly detailed images back to Earth and receive commands and instructions near enough no problem at all.

Yet they were launched in the late 1970s. Rather primitive (relatively speaking) 1970s tech that is forever frozen in time, non-upgradeable, none of it can ever be patched or replaced. Yet it's still going. Some of the photos sent back in 1979 look like they could have been taken in 2009 because the quality is absolutely immense. It seems to have futureproofed itself absolutely beautifully.

Back when the original Voyager was launched, we were just days away from the Atari 2600 being released. Elvis Presley had barely been dead a month. The late Queen had only just celebrated her Silver Jubilee, and we hadn't yet had a female Prime Minister. We were blasting long distance probes into space, but the mountain bike hadn't yet been invented.

FCC boss says 25Mbps isn't cutting it, Americans deserve 100Mbps now, gigabit later

Electric Panda

I know someone in the UK, in a major city, who has a 5Mbps internet connection. Not a typo.

It's absolutely insufferable and you can't really WFH or do anything terribly exciting. When staying at his place temporarily I had to tether 4G to get any work done.

To be honest I think it might actually be a fault, because surely that's just not normal in this day and age? I haven't had a home connection that slow since literally 2005 or thereabouts and didn't think such things existed anymore.

He's holding on for now because Hyperoptic have surveyed his building and CityFibre might be digging his road up soon too.

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

Electric Panda

I think I'd quite like to leave tech behind.

Or at least come "off the tools" and have an entirely non-technical role.

Two top execs quit Infosys mere months after its president skipped

Electric Panda

Tech was supposed to be a 'safe' industry, hence the armies of people career changing from other things. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't uneasy about what the future may hold.

The number’s up for 999. And 911. And 000. And 111

Electric Panda

The US 911 system is a total patchwork It has never been a standardised system, it was rolled out piecemeal, and even as recently as the early-mid 1980s some areas still didn't have it. Add that every small half-horse town seems to have its own 911 dispatch infrastructure and you have a bit of a mess.

Mind you, the emergency services infrastructure in the US is totally different to ours. The fire departments out there are arguably more skilled and can do more jobs (they double up as paramedics, for example) and you don't need to tell the operator which service you require. In the UK you see people asked "what service do you require", they then rattle off details of the incident and the operator has to interrupt them. Don't know what service you require? That's a problem - the rule of thumb then is to contact the police and let them coordinate, but not many people know that.

It was suggested immediately after the 999 outage that the UK looks to adopt a 911-style system. I half agree.

UK smart meter rollout years late and less than two thirds complete

Electric Panda

I know someone in the reverse of your situation. Their 'smart' gas meter is fine, but the electric meter is borked and nobody knows why.

Electric Panda

I knew someone who got a 'smart' gas meter. It somehow started counting from zero rather than the previous month's reading - they were hit with a bill for £4200. Nobody at the gas supplier noticed until he complained and it took another month to sort out, apparently there was no business logic or anomaly detection process for someone to think "There's been a colossal and abnormal spike in gas usage, let's investigate".

That same person has found there was a problem with recording the electrical readings and they don't know why, despite the same unit handling gas just fine. Still not fully resolved.

At my last place I had all manner of threatening marketing snottograms (and nothing truly official) from my supplier telling me to "ACT NOW" because of "government regulations" and it's a "legal requirement" to upgrade my meter because it was apparently end of life, which they say means it's broken and the numbers are obviously wrong. That's only partly true, the actual legislation doesn't really say what the electricity supplier claims it does. And in most rented properties you are simply not allowed to do that kind of work - at my last place it was a clear-cut violation of the tenancy agreement and explicitly prohibited.

Thousands of subreddits go dark in mega-protest over Reddit's app-killing API prices

Electric Panda

Re: Reddit is nothing without its users

Part of reddit's charm was how clean and 'traditional' the old.reddit.com experience is. The "new" reddit is all Web 2.0 guff and looks awful, and IMO it has ruined reddit's USP.

So of course you can expect old.reddit.com to eventually be turned off.

Gen Z and Millennials don't know what their colleagues are talking about half the time

Electric Panda

"The survey quizzed 1,016 employees in the UK aged 18 to 76"

Blimey, still working in the corporate world aged 76? Even with the current economic disaster we're seeing this is still very uncommon.

You might have been phished by the gang that stole North Korea’s lousy rocket tech

Electric Panda

Macros are very old hat and written in ancient, arcane, runic languages. Maybe it's time for Microsoft to look at phasing them out in newer versions of Office.

UK tech industry pushing up salaries – but UI devs out of luck

Electric Panda

Re: You have to ACT young

"The problem with being over 50 is that you have enough experience to realise that 80% of everything is crap, the latest fad is not going to change the world (probably), and anyway won't do so next week."

You don't even need to be 50+. I'm 35 and feel this way.

Microsoft finally gets around to supporting rar, gz and tar files in Windows

Electric Panda

WinRAR has meme status. Removing the nag screen has been Lesson #1 on reverse engineering courses for many moons now.

BT is ditching workers faster than your internet connection with 55,000 for chop by 2030

Electric Panda

Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

It always bugs me that the one little thing you want to do is the one little thing that must be done by phone, for reasons totally unknown to anyone. Drives me bonkers.

Tech companies cut jobs to chase growth, but watch out for those shareholder returns

Electric Panda

How many of these being purged are technical or engineering roles? In my experience it seems that TA, marketing etc. are getting the chop to ostensibly save money, meanwhile they hire 150 engineers in bandwagon disciplines "to support our ambitious future plans" and all that guff. These new engineers are on bonkers pay.

An important system on project [REDACTED] was all [REDACTED] up

Electric Panda

So if the boot device was 1TB, Exchange would start bouncing messages if you had "only" 100GB left on there?


Electric Panda

Re: Security not

Sounds like the usual mess of people who think that "security" is a case of locking something down so hard that it barely works.

Firstly, that's just lazy. Security is supposed to be a supporter and an enabler, so you design the policy fine-grained for the task at hand and those who need to use the system. Simply blocking everything is dumb.

Secondly, it can force people into desperate unapproved workarounds just to do their job. That circumvents all of your "hard work" and arguably just makes things worse.

Twitter's API paywall crumbles (but only for those saving lives, predicting weather, etc.)

Electric Panda

You also now can't even search Twitter without being logged in.

So, that's me officially done with it.

UK PM Sunak plans to allocate just £1bn to semiconductor industry

Electric Panda

Will the £1bn be given to a company with no assets and no experience in the sector, set up just last week and owned/directed by someone he knows from university but is as yet unknown to us?

Microsoft is busy rewriting core Windows code in memory-safe Rust

Electric Panda

AAA game development

It's entirely possible that MS will eventually begin moving things like DirectX over to Rust, especially if they also introduce Rust into the guts of the Xbox. Under those scenarios you will probably see more uptake amongst game developers.

That would be a major change, but likely a way off yet.

Amazon axes Halo gear as job cuts hit cloud segment

Electric Panda

No doubt they'll be laying off HR, Marketing, Product/Project Managers... while re-hiring a very similar number of "engineers" and purely technical people "to support our customers and their journey of growth at pace" or other similar corporate burp.

Usually how it works. Meanwhile, I know someone who works in security at AWS and he's on track to have cleared his mortgage by 40.

How was Google boss's 2022? He got paid $226M as stock awards kicked in

Electric Panda

The usual Bingo card for situations like this:

-> "sUpPLy aNd DeManD" - the laziest trope of them all. The blunt tool of armchair economists everywhere

-> "wE DoNt SeT oUr OwN PaY" - as if there's a masked cartel mob threatening your kids. Take this $100m bonus, these 250m shares and this 75% pay rise or they'll all die

-> "mONeY dOeSnT mOtIVaTe mE" - he says while sitting next to the outdoor Olympic-sized swimming pool at his $100m fourth home. Yet that's somehow less obnoxious than the multi-billionaire who "lives the simple life" sleeping in a shed and wearing old bin bags every day... but doesn't donate a bean of that vast wealth to anyone.

SpaceX's second attempt at orbital Starship launch ends in fireball

Electric Panda

I watched SpaceX's own livestream yesterday and frankly it all felt a bit Comical Ali.

A sneering brave face put on a disaster, having fitted the goalposts with castors so they could be moved quicker and easier.

Microsoft nopes out after Twitter starts charging $$$ for API access

Electric Panda

Twitter seems borked anyway

As of today I'm unable to search for anything on Twitter unless I'm logged in. Mobile also spits out errors when I even try to view a timeline.

If these changes are deliberate then that's it for me. If they're not, then it's another example of Twitter's wobbly reliability since Musk took over.

Student requested access to research data. And waited. And waited. And then hacked to get root

Electric Panda

I remember a well-known student hall ISP which sold you various packages, all of which had limits on how many devices could be connected via the port in your room. It was likely just MAC-based port security with an address limit.

You weren't allowed to use any kind of switch or hub, for obvious reasons. However some bright spark rightly figured out that you could use such a device using modded firmware (DD-WRT, Tomato etc.) and mangle the hop count to bypass the NAT detection. I personally didn't do that (couldn't be bothered and not that keen), but it worked like a champ for those who did.

Electric Panda

Re: Not caught either...

Security is a balancing act between usability and staying safe. Far too many people think that "security" is locking everything down to the point where it's squealing in pain and nothing works - in actual fact that can compound the problem as desperate people seek unapproved workarounds.

Amazon CEO says AWS staff now spending ‘much of their time’ optimizing customers’ clouds

Electric Panda

Re: Chicken, welcome to the roost...

I've oft-compared using the cloud to be much like using takeaways and restaurants vs. cooking for yourself.

Sure, it's easier, you don't have to know how to cook, you can be lazy about it (up to a point), talented experts can come up with things you never imagined, you have outsourced your energy costs, and so on. But you pay a premium for it and are fully reliant on others to make it all work.

Compatibility mess breaks not one but two Windows password tools

Electric Panda

Microsoft seem to be badly mis-stepping lately and more so than usual. Stupid bugs, unnecessary and unwanted changes to things that have been well established for years, total implosion of crucial services...

Plagiarism-sniffing Turnitin tries to find AI writing by students – with mixed grades

Electric Panda

The key to this is the use of simple linguistic flair: you must have the skills to reword what the AI tells you in a way that sounds plausibly human. Use a thesaurus, change the word order, the punctuation, the voice, the tenses (if appropriate), contractions, possessives etc.

This - and simply referencing the legitimate sources at the bottom of the articles - was how we got around the Wikipedia 'ban' at university.

Parts of UK booted offline as Virgin Media suffers massive broadband outage

Electric Panda

No service update

This really bothers me. Massive service issues, key systems broken, nay the squeak of a church mouse on the status page acknowledging the issue. Customers left in the pitch black not knowing what's going on.

Meanwhile, a status page has something utterly trivial from 8 days ago that was resolved in about five minutes.

Seen this far too often with too many companies and service provider, also happened with Google's AppEngine domain a week ago - was down for 18 hours, couldn't authenticate with a webapp we run, Google said nothing. Things like this are absolutely maddening.

IT depts struggle with skills shortages despite Big Tech layoffs

Electric Panda

Only £1k less? That's nothing.

If it was £10k less I might be concerned, but for the sake of just £1k absolutely go for it.

Electric Panda

Yeah, these "big tech layoffs" are mostly non-technical or support staff such as marketing and recruitment.

What you also often see in the smallprint is that the company is continuing to hire for key strategic technical ventures.

Electric Panda

This is the problem I'm seeing. The industry feels like a diode.

The 'tech' bandwagon is running at full speed and everyone wants to jump on. You see jewellery restorers and nurses "learning to code" or taking the CAPSLOCK course, you also see people fresh out of OxDurBridge with their degrees in Mesopotamian Basket Weaving & Cantonese Linguistics, who take a bootcamp and land themselves in a Backend Engineer position in the City or "Senior Partner Cloud Architecture Practice" with no hands-on experience whatsoever at a Big4. All by age 25.

But people who were already in the tech industry can't seem to get out. If you spent ten years writing Python or fiddling with Kubernetes, you can't have that Digital Marketing, HR, policing, or heating engineer role even if you genuinely do want to.

Got a friend in this exact position right now and he basically says don't study tech courses at degree level, kids. You can all too easily up in a pigeonhole and find everyone on the outside can have your job with generic qualifications, but you can't have their old jobs with your CS qualifications.

Corporate execs: Get back, get back, to the office where you once belonged

Electric Panda

Re: "Hybrid"

"Wonder how much hybrid working is just a polite term for WfH?"

In my experience, it's a heck of a lot. Especially since COVID.

Electric Panda

Re: Perspective

I was also very lucky. My commute was 15-20 minutes (traffic dependent) in the car and my journey took me near the likes of supermarkets, so I could run these errands on the way home or even a little later in the evening.

The idea of being on a train at 7am, having no evening because you're zonked and getting back late, then being able to run basic errands only at the weekend is alien to me. it also sounds utterly hellish and I have real sypmathy for people who have to do that.

I never did the whole London thing and to be honest at 35 years old I think I'm already well past it. Too old now.

Electric Panda

Re: We all traipse into the office for that critical meeting that HAS to be face-to-face..

The best bit is when you traipse in for 09:00 on a Monday, only to see a last minute "lolsorry had to cancel will reschedule" and your trip was a total waste of time. The meeting is later rearranged for 14:30 next Thursday.

Happy days.

Google CEO Pichai: We need to up productivity by a fifth

Electric Panda

Re: Depressing

I know someone who went through a discipline case for a £350 corporate charge card bill he didn't pay on time because of a cockup on the expenses claim. They eventually took the money out of payroll and the bill was settled.

Six weeks later they started the discipline process, with misconduct hearing. His MD demanded from HR (he was a senior MD and had clout) how much money had been spent on investigating something that had already been sorted - they came up with a figure of nearly 10x what the original now-paid bill was.

He gave them some blue air and warned them against that sort of nonsense in the future.

GitHub Copilot may be perfect for cheating CompSci programming exercises

Electric Panda

Re: how many times has your boss asked you

It's a common joke I've seen in the comments of YouTube videos about 'coding interviews be like' and so on.

Interview: use an online whiteboard to show us how to balance a Red-Black Splay Tree in O(n/3) amortized time. Then, assuming we have a circular buffer queue of n elements and you want to find how many times the letter "A" appears on the heap, how many apples were sold in Grantham last year?

Actual day job: Updating the test cases for org.FeckarseIndustries.Java.JavaClasses.JavaPackages.EnterpriseStuff.IEnterpriseFactory.IEnterpriseFactoryFactory.JankyRubbish.OldStuff - this was of course written in Java 5 back in 2010, long after Java 5 was EOSL.

Electric Panda


Back in my day, people were caught using jad to decompile the lecturer's supplied Java Class files (used to test our solutions) and expose the grading criteria. They weren't failed or marked down but departmental policy changed after that.

Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram deplatform themselves: Services down globally

Electric Panda

Re: Seems to be more than just FB and associated crap. The Reg is a bit treacly too.

Same here. Lots of timeouts and appalling slowness on stuff that normally works fine.

Electric Panda

Other issues?

Anecdotally, I can also say that my BT Mobile 4G and home broadband have been very flaky this afternoon and evening. Extremely slow at times.

Wondering if there was a wider issue out there on the internet somewhere.

IBM ordered to pay £22k to whistleblower and told by judges: Teach your managers what discrimination means

Electric Panda

What will happen to the apparently rogue managers in this story? My guess is "Sweet Felicity Arkwright".

I don't expect them to be punished internally by IBM for losing this tribunal and embarrassing the business, but then again, IBM has been mired in so much negative publicity at one time or another that I guess they don't care.

Electric Panda

Re: targeted by four managers within IBM

IBM have now been so badly embarrassed by this that surely these managers will now suffer (if there)?

You'd hope so.

'Azure appears to be full': UK punters complain of capacity issues on Microsoft's cloud

Electric Panda

Office365 is also wobbling today. I have been having intermittent Outlook and Teams connectivity issues since about 10am, as have my colleagues on different ISPs in their own homes.

HMRC's HTTPS howler: Childcare payments site cert expired at 1am on Sunday, down for hours

Electric Panda

Re: Feature Request

Don't get me started on Change Management.

At my company they seem hellbent on ousting HR from their "it's actually us who run the company and not the Board" perch.