* Posts by The other JJ

64 publicly visible posts • joined 9 Jul 2010


BOFH: Come on down to the dunge– erm … basement

The other JJ

Re: Plot error alert

The VAX 780 incorporated a DEC RX01 or RX02 8" floppy drive and was shipped until at least 1984 and still in use well into the 1990s.

Techie invented bits of the box he was fixing, still botched the job

The other JJ

Back in around 1988 a client had a PDP-11/44 system with IIRC several RM06 disk drives, similar to the one in the story. One evening they called me in to do an overnight reverse engineering of the ODS-1 disk format to try to retrieve data from a drive.

The backstory was that one of their PFYs, who already had a reputation as a bit of a cowboy, had swapped the packs for the evening backup, but tried to hurry and crossthreaded the pack leaving it at a slight angle, but the tension allowed the cover to unlock so he didn't notice. Apparently when MOUNT DUA0: was entered in the next room there was a sound like a gunshot as the heads, travelling at several hundred miles per hour, hit the edge of the platters full on. The remains of the heads were vacuumed from the drive bay.

It also transpired that the filesystem had grown too large for two disks but he'd not had the balls to tell the beancounters they needed more disks, so instead of the A -> B -> C rotation of two drive sets, he quietly swapped to an A -> B -> A rotation of three drives. And the drive he'd trashed was the current copy and its pair, newly formatted.

They told him not to come in the next day, or the one after that, or indeed, again.

Some smart meters won't be smart at all once 2/3G networks mothballed

The other JJ

Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

The downvotes essentially criticise the Hildebrand Glow meter as being a geek thing, but are we not geeks here? :-)

But seriously, I've gone this route myself and learned a few things about my electricity consumption that have saved a fair bit. But sure, it's not for the average consumer. And some don't want to learn, like a former IT Director who complains about his several hundred a month bill for using fan heaters as British Gas can't make his central heating work effectively, but doesn't accept that the cause is incompetence from BG that he needs to deal with.

BOFH: The Christmas party was so good, an independent inquiry is required

The other JJ

Re: Plagiarism?

> Does the BOFH need a temporary work permit for the UK?

The BOFH works in the UK, for an oil or exploration company in Hammersmith, West London according to the pre-history, or his creator did IIRC.

But yes, rope and lampposts is the only way they'll understand.

England's village green hydrogen dream in tatters

The other JJ

Re: Which Led Zep Album?

'The Song Remains the Same'

No, no, no! Disco joke hit bum note in the rehab center

The other JJ

Re: Why stop with a music track?

Or to quote Alice from the better days of Dilbert, "Was it metallic, noisy and flushable?"

BOFH: A security issue, you say? Activate code tangerine

The other JJ

Re: BOFH has been going on 25 years....

Over thirty if you count the 'Striped Irregular Bucket' stories first posted to Usenet in 1992 and which morphed into the BOFH a year or two later.

What happens when What3Words gets lost in translation?

The other JJ

Re: There's a "Maidenhead Locator System" ???

Depends how old you are as it's been around since 1980. But it's mainly an amateur radio thing, often used in contests for targets like how many major squares you can make contact with in 24 hours. It's usually used with four or six character precision (about 100km and 10km respectively) but the standard goes to eight characters or about 1km.

So while nowhere near close enough for emergency use, it has the benefit like Lat/Long and the OS Grid of being monotonic, so comparing two locations it doesn't take much mental arithmetic to see which direction one is from the other, whether it's a long or short distance and whether you're getting closer or further. Unlike w3w.

Yours, from IO91ul...

Moscow makes a mess on the Moon as Luna 25 probe misses orbit, lands with a thud

The other JJ

Re: Hmmm

"Once the rockets are up, Who cares where they come down? That's not my department..."

Oops! Sorry, wrong rocket scientist.

Techie's quick cure for a curious conflict caused a huge headache

The other JJ

Re: "Ever done a little thing that made a big mess"

Similar thing a few years ago. Mid-morning, workstations were dropping off the network and a quick look showed them using 192.168.1.x which wasn't the workstation LAN range. Not having particularly intelligent switches at that time we could only isolate bits of the network and ask people to reboot to see what address they got while someone went searching for any rogue SSIDs. We finally traced it to a meeting room where we found a previous generation BT HomeHub hidden behind a cupboard and plugged into a network port. We recalled that the Sales Director was constantly bitching that his phone or laptop couldn't get internet in parts of the building, and he had previous form for plugging a cheap switch in behind his workstation to get a connection for his Mac, which we didn't allow on the LAN, and which slowed his machine to 100Mbps so a core application was timing out.

We took the offending device to the carpark, took turns at reducing it to scrap with a lump hammer and left the remains on his desk. Naturally he went apeshit until I pointed out that the company had lost some 200 man hours of work owning to his unauthorised network modification and I would be quite happy to discuss it with HR. He learned his lesson this time.


The other JJ

You are at Y2

Airline puts international passengers on the scales pre-flight

The other JJ

I went through one at LHR T4 just two weeks ago.

New IT boss decided to 'audit everything you guys are doing wrong'. Which went wrong

The other JJ

I thought I was reading the BOFH...

...until the Ops Director and pet consultant weren't locked in the server room when the halon went off or trapped in the lift when it descended into a flooded basement.

Oh, no: The electric cars at CES are getting all emotional

The other JJ

No mention of whether the i Vision Dee can express panic...

No mention of whether the i Vision Dee can express panic if you enter a virtual world while in motion.

Probably still negotiating the rights from the estate of Douglas Adams.

"The Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses have been designed to help people develop a relaxed attitude to danger. They follow the principle "what you don't know can't hurt you" and turn completely black at the first sign of danger. This prevents you from seeing anything that might alarm you. This does, however, mean that you see absolutely nothing, including where you're going."

Two signs in the comms cabinet said 'Do not unplug'. Guess what happened

The other JJ

Re: Not only two signs...

Just before Covid I was working at a site where all the IT kit was in one of those freestanding air-conditioned rack cases. One day I noticed that a cleaner had spotted that the gap between the top of this rack and the ceiling was just the right size to store their bulk packs of toilet rolls. That was also the air outflow for the cabinet. With trepidation the head of IT and I opened the cabinet to be met by a blast of tropical air and a cacophony of warning bleeps. We were amazed nothing had shut down but he suspected the previous infrastructure manager had overridden the safety thresholds.

The other JJ

Re: Been there and saw it happen

One time a client's office had an electric lock fitted to their main door (from the shared stairwell) operated by RFID fobs. When they called everyone together to demonstrate it and hand out the fobs I asked if there was a key override. They said there was and the key was in the reception desk (inside). I suggested someone take that key home.

Next day as I arrived (fashionably late, as coders do) the office manager asked my why I had suggested taking the key, because nobody had been able to get in that morning until she arrived. I pointed out in the corner behind a coffee table the unplugged PSU for the lock and asked where they thought the cleaner would plug in her vacuum and whether she'd remember to plug the lock back in afterwards.

Multi-factor auth fatigue is real – and it's why you may be in the headlines next

The other JJ

Re: Surely there's a design fault here

"surely the system should lock the user out completely after X number of rejections"

And the design fault with that is effectively denial of service. Some IT bod is working through the weekend on an upgrade, shipping are working through to clear a backlog or the chief beancounter is down to the wire for filing tax on Sunday night, and now they're locked out with no IT support available to fix the problem until Monday. Not every business has or can afford 247 IT support.

How I made a Chrome extension for converting Reg articles to UK spelling

The other JJ

Re: Fahrenheit -- banish

Don't forget meters which I've even seen sneaking into BOFH articles, a story set in England and written by a Kiwi.

And I'm sure you meant AmericaniSe. :-)

No, working in IT does not mean you can fix anything with a soldering iron

The other JJ

Touch tag

The worst thing about f+f support is that the last person to touch it takes on an unlimited warranty to fix any problem however unrelated. Real life case in point "Hey John, you remember a few weeks ago you fixed the squeaking noise our computer was making? [the fan was very dirty] Well since then my wife's been having problems downloading her email".

PowerShell pusher to log off from Microsoft: Write-Host "Bye bye, Jeffrey Snover"

The other JJ

Re: The only person(s) I'd ever root for at MS...

'...only...' may b a bit strong but by $deity, it was the nearest thing to a Swiss Army knife for Exchange administrators.

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

The other JJ

Cotton-eyed Joe

Reminds me of a couple of years ago when I was one of a development team of two, struggling to meet increasingly ridiculous deadlines. So obviously to relieve our burden they hired a project mangler to encourage us to work smarter, not harder. They never did figure out why we would mutter darkly about someone called 'Jen'.

The Register gets up close and personal with ESA's JUICE spacecraft

The other JJ

Life resembling art again?

"...the end of the mission will see JUICE sent crashing into the surface of Ganymede to avoid any contamination reaching Europa"

Because obviously:


BOFH: Gaming rig for your home office? Yeah right

The other JJ

Re: Poacher turned gamekeeper?

What wasn't mentioned was that Simon put an order in for the laptop the user requested anyway but there was an oversight with the paperwork so it was never entered onto the asset register.

Comcast fixes broadband cables 'peppered' with holes after Oakland drive-by shooting

The other JJ

Re: Argument in favour of gun ownership in the UK?

"Sorry Sarge, was that your hedgehog sir?"

BOFH: On Wednesdays, we wear gloves

The other JJ

"I like to meet people halfway. Typically, halfway between their tube station and their home. At night. With a van."

Another classic!

Something 4,000 light years away emitted strange radio bursts. This is where we talk to scientists for actual info

The other JJ

Re: The universe is mind-bogglingly big

You may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.

Terminal trickery, or how to improve a novel immeasurably

The other JJ

Fond memories of RSX-11M-Plus System Management, Internals and Drivers and Macro-11 at Shire Hall. One of those had a great fun female instructor who introduced us to the pub just over the motorway.

Stop press: I lie, the first was at Fountain House in the centre of Reading.

The Great Borkish Breakfast: I'll have a cup of tea, a sausage roll and a side of bork, please

The other JJ

Re: A coffee, sausage roll and a Windows license please

Possibly they're also linked to the till system so price updates are accurately reflected and maybe even display real-time availability of vegan sausage rolls and steak bakes?

How embarrassing: Xiaomi and Motorola show up to high school prom both wearing remote-charging tech

The other JJ

Re: A cradle with two contacts

Or just about every handheld mobile before the late '90s.

Nothing new since the microwave: Let's get those home tech inventors cooking

The other JJ

Still, there’s always the smart heating system!

Nailed it. Obviously the same manufacturer as my lighting control system.

Microsoft pledges to give Teams users multi-account sign-in then reels it back to one work and one personal

The other JJ

Re: Wot a Waste...

Even if more than one business account could be configured it doesn't address the requirement in the slightest if only one can be active and you have to keep switching. Recall that until about 2003 the only way to have more than one Exchange account in Outlook was to switch between profiles, then they allowed three and since about 2010 an unlimited(?) number. All the mailboxes are open and you can work with them simultaneously. That's what's needed in Teams, nothing less.

Yet again Microsoft assumes that every other business in the world works the same way as theirs.

For the price tag, this iPad Pro keyboard better damn well be Magic: It isn't... but it's not completely useless either

The other JJ

Re: Because ... it’ll just work : Nope

I don't even recall the 2008 XPS M1330 being that high end, although I bought low and immediately upgraded disk and memory. But I was treating myself as it was going to be my main machine while working abroad for a year. I still use it for ham radio work as recently as last month. It's had two memory upgrades, at least two disk upgrades (most recently to SSD), dual boots W10 or Ubuntu and performance isn't as shabby as you'd expect for a twelve year old laptop.

Move fast and break stuff, Windows Terminal style: Final update before release will nix your carefully crafted settings

The other JJ

Re: How about a poll?

“Should array indices start at 0 or 1? My compromise of 0.5 was rejected without, I thought, proper consideration.” - Stan Kelly-Bootle

A paper clip, a spool of phone wire and a recalcitrant RS-232 line: Going MacGyver in the wonderful world of hotel IT

The other JJ

Talking of electric motors...

Back in the mid to late '80s we supplied a system to an office plant rental company, the sort that supplied and maintained potted plants to offices all over London. A 386 box running Xenix with about six serial terminals, it was installed late Autumn when they said business was quietening down and had run fine through the winter until suddenly the customer complained that it was crashing a couple of times a day most days. Suspecting something to do with the usage increasing we took a look and did the usual sort of diagnostics but couldn't find a problem, and after a couple of weeks the problem went away. Some months later the problem started again so I went in to have another look. I wanted to speak to our contact who'd just gone out to their massive greenhouse and as I joined him I heard a grinding sound and looked up to see the windows being opened by a system of rusty gears and motors. "Yeah, it's controlled by thermostats" he said, pre-empting my question. "...and it happens in spring and autumn but stays closed all winter and open all summer?" I hauled him back to the office and sure enough we were met by the users waiting for the system to reboot. One UPS later (that they'd said they wouldn't need when we originally quoted) and they were happy horticulturalists.

Honor MagicBook 14: Nice keyboard and ports aplenty – but with a webcam forever fixed on all of your chins

The other JJ

Re: Sure, USB-C is way more versatile

Or on the other hand if you regularly use your laptop on a desk as well as on the move, one cable into that USB-C port and you've got charging, a decent external monitor (or two), full-sized keyboard and mouse, wired network, printer, scanner, external speakers...

Linky revisited: How the evil French smart meter escaped Hell to taunt me

The other JJ

Ready Brek Children?

If you're old enough to remember Ready Brek children Dabbsy then surely you're old enough to remember Windscale flakes? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wk0WzCtF0yY

Margin mugs: A bank paid how much for a 2m Ethernet cable? WTF!

The other JJ

Re: Not just business

Some fifteen years ago when my son was a teenager he saved up to buy a DVD player so we went off to a popular high street electricals superstore that's possibly been mentioned above. The salesman offered a regular HDMI cable for £9.99 or a premium one for £29.99. He pointed out two TVs on display, one with a noticeably better picture than the other, explaining that one with the better picture was through a premium cable. I repeatedly declined both (having a drawerful at home) until he gave up and while he was getting the DVD player I took a quick look round the back, confirming my suspicion that the good one was on a vanilla HDMI cable and the bad one on an RF output.

Imperial bringing in budget holograms to teach students

The other JJ

Appropriate that it should be Imperial

While the whole thing smacks of a publicity stunt at the time of year when sixth-formers are honing their UCCA selection, it would be appropriate for Imperial to be first as holography was invented there by Prof. Dennis Gabor, a senior lecturer and research fellow. I was privileged to attend one of the last lectures he gave in retirement.

As to Eric Laithwaite, it can't have escaped his notice that his undergraduate lectures were attended by far more students than were registered for his modules, including some from different departments, but he never seem to mind.

Disk drive fired 'Frisbees of death' across data centre after storage admin crossed his wires

The other JJ

Re: "Not an uncommon story", you mean.

I've head both the platters and the boot story many times from unrelated stories.

Those packs have a pretty solid spindle and the heads pretty much vaporise under the conditions described. I have in my spare room a platter with a deep gouge in the edge from a DEC RA60 that an operator crossthreaded swapping disks in a hurry. The people present recount a sound like a gunshot when he mounted the drive from RSTS. The heads had to be vacuumed out of the unit. The possibility that a poorly maintained or mistreated pack could come apart can't be ruled out though.

As for the boot, the networking consultant Bill Hancock told that story about his own VAX/750 at a DECUS UK convention in the mid/late 1980s and knowing him it wasn't original either.

Huawei Mate 10 Pro: The unfashionable estate car wants to go to town

The other JJ

Re: Wrong

Call me a cynic but one starts to think the networks put pressure on the manufacturers to not make dual SIM available in certain regions, the UK in particular. I desperately wanted a Huawei P8 Lite (2017) (to keep up with my daughter who had one) but needed dual SIM and the best I could find was import from Germany or Spain at a £40 premium, so faced with the lack of warranty backing I bought a Xaomi RedMi 4X direct from China for less than the single SIM version instead.

From the graaaaaave! WileyFox's Windows 10 phone delayed again

The other JJ

Re: Getting rid of Truephone

It hadn't occurred to me either. My Spark X was no worse than the average budget Android with the exception of TrueCaller in the 7.0 update which was completely unusable unless, I think, you agreed to let them have a copy of all your contacts or something like that.

It's a moot point now because as of yesterday I'm the owner of a shiny new RedMi 4X (global) which is way faster than just about anything else in the sub £140 range.

A certain millennial turned 30 recently: Welcome to middle age, Microsoft Excel v2

The other JJ

Microsoft Cirrus, sorry, Access

Let's not forget that Excel's younger sibling celebrated a quarter century this month. Throughout the nineties much of the shadow IT that couldn't be done as Excel macros was done in Access.

Giza geezers' muon-geyser visor reveals Great Pyramid's hidden void surpriser

The other JJ

Surely El Reg should describe its size in approved Vulture Central units, so in this case the number of Olympic swimming pools or double-decker buses that would fit in it.

BOFH: Do I smell burning toes, I mean burning toast?

The other JJ

"Could that ever really happen?"

"I could pretty much guarantee it," I say pointedly.


Tell the public how much our tram tickets cost? Are you mad?

The other JJ

A beginner’s guide to using My Get Me There:

Manchester’s hilarious attempt at reinventing London’s Oyster Card.

An entertaining read that describes more of the Kafka-esque policies of TfGM:


50th anniversary of the ATM opens debate about mobile payments

The other JJ

Re: ATM = Automated Teller Machine

And if they refer to "Putting their PIN number into the ATM machine"?

London City airport swaps control tower for digital cameras

The other JJ

Re: Eyeballing?

Some years ago it was identified that accidents on the ground weren't decreasing at the same rate as those in the air, in fact taxiway collisions, runway incursions and wrong runway taxis were increasing with heavier airport use, so systems were introduced to monitor planes on the ground and raise alerts if they went where they shouldn't be.

Ransomware brutes smacked 1 in 3 NHS trusts last year

The other JJ

...and you now have to tell 1,000+ staff that you're rolling back half their day's work - because other than attempting to open every single file you've no way to tell which have been encrypted. That'll take an hour or so and by 3:30 you'll be able to begin your day's work again.

Sysadmin figures out dating agency worker lied in his profile

The other JJ

Re: Password?

Like this you mean? http://dilbert.com/strip/2001-09-06

Fleeing Aussie burglar shot in arse with bow and arrow

The other JJ

Either way, in view of the target area I doubt the owner is going to want it back.