* Posts by Mr Humbug

202 posts • joined 28 Jul 2010


Boys outnumber girls 6 to 1 in UK compsci classes

Mr Humbug

Re: Problem?

Or it's something that is failing to attract girls to computer science and the only reason to study the subject is because you want to do more of it. Otherwise there are plenty of alternatives that leave your options open.

To draw a parallel that may be relevant:

My older daughter did maths A-level because she could get a good grade and it would support what she wanted to do at university. College tried very hard to get her to do further maths, but she refused. Her maths class was predominantly male, but it was nowhere near a 5:1 ratio (possibly 2:1 or even lower).

My younger daughter is currently doing further maths because she and, I gather, most of the others in the class want to explore maths for its own sake. The male:female ratio is just over 4:1. On the other hand, her chemistry class is close to parity, but is mostly people that are not interested in the subject but need it for what they want to do next (medicine etc).

The point really, is that until computer science is an option that enables further study of other subjects it will only attract those that want to do computer science later on. For some reason that doesn't happen with many girls when they still have time to choose it.

Your app deleted all my files. And my wallpaper too!

Mr Humbug

Re: Even Worse

That option was (and still is) off by default. And keeping all the messages that you've dealt with but might want to refer to later in your recycle bin folder was common at this place a few years ago. I stopped it by creating folder policies to delete recycle bin items more than 30 days old.

I even told them about the change before I made it (I'm far too soft on them).

FreeDOS puts out first new version in six years

Mr Humbug

Re: Protext

> she absolutely hated the Windows version said it wasn't anywhere near as good as DOS version.

She was absolutely right. WordPerfect tried to keep the UI of the DOS version alongside the Windows UI. This broke both UIs

A time when cabling was not so much 'structured' than 'survival of the fittest'

Mr Humbug

Re: Shocks

500V insulation resistance test.

Megger is a brand of test gear and is used as a verb in the UK (see also hoover)

What a bunch of bricks: Crooks knock hole in toyshop wall, flee with €35k Lego haul

Mr Humbug

Re: Ah, Lego

'Legos' is where the USA put the s it took off 'maths'

Amazon tells folks it will stop accepting UK Visa credit cards via weird empty email

Mr Humbug

My card is Visa, but I understand that Amex charges retailers more (which is why fewer companies accept it) and Amazon says it still accepts Amex. I shall be applying for an Amex card in the next few weeks so that I can use it for all future Amazon purchases.

Macmillan best-biscuit list unexpectedly promotes breakfast cereal to treat status

Mr Humbug

Re: I am offended

Ahem. They are 'squashed fly biscuits'. My mum told me they were called that when I was small. I realise that squashed flies are also dead, but not all dead flies are squashed.

The magic TUPE roundabout: Council, Wipro, Northgate all deny employing Unix admins in outsourcing muddle

Mr Humbug

Re: redundancy at minimum or minimum redundancy

I've read the judgement so we can all stop speculating.

WiPro provided Unix systems that supported three council services. The council transferred one service to OLM Systems and the other two to Northgate. These two, the sysadmin and DBA, spent all their time directly working on those systems.

WiPro and the council maintained they were transferred to Northgate, with the service (how Northgate chose to provide that service was irrelevant). Northgate disagreed. As both organisations were refusing to take responsibility for their contracts of employment they claimed unfair dismissal, a redundancy payment and pay in lieu of notice, naming WiPro, the council and Northgate.

As nobody is employing them, it cannot be disputed that they were dismissed. The question the judge has just answer is who dismissed them?

Since there was no proper procedure the dismissal is unfair, and Northgate's legal counsel will now be busy trying to reduce the liability. If Northgate has any sense it will now try to settle the case.

In the meantime the two people should have got new jobs - they're under a duty to mitigate their loss, and failing to do so would give Northgate an argument for reducing the amount of the claim.

Mr Humbug

Re: I blame HMRC

I don't think TUPE applies to contractors. These were employees.

You walk in with a plan. You leave with GPS-tracking Nordic hiking poles. The same old story, eh?

Mr Humbug

Re: Bargle nawdle zouss

I see your MIG welder and raise you a plate compactor (whacker plate)


Firefox 91 introduces cookie clearing, clutter-free printing, Microsoft single sign-on... so where are all the users?

Mr Humbug

Erm.. Firefox has had group policies for several years


Mr Humbug

> Every business PC in the land gets Chrome on it,

The ones here don't. They have Chromium-based Edge and they get Firefox. Most people just use Edge (it was hard enough to get them to stop using IE)

Microsoft responds to PrintNightmare by making life that little bit harder for admins

Mr Humbug

No, it's all printers. And it's not just Windows.

I saw this somewhere recently: "I don't know what equipment infuriated Rage Against the Machine, but it was probably a printer"

You MUST present your official ID (but only the one that's really easy to fake)

Mr Humbug

Re: strong ID systems ;-)

I think the card they leave has words to the effect that:

You must bring this card and your ID, but if someone is collecting it on your behalf they must bring your ID.

So you're just following the rules. Well done.

BOFH: Where there is darkness, let there be a light

Mr Humbug

Is it Friday already?

Post-lunch snooze plans dashed as the UK tests its Emergency Alerts... again

Mr Humbug

Re: "Every compatible mobile phone or tablet in range of a mast ..."

You're right, they only want to alert people in good mobile coverage areas. You don't have to be in range of 'a mast', but rather 'a 4G or 5G mast'


> Mobile phone networks

> Emergency alerts work on all 4G and 5G phone networks in the UK.

> Phones and tablets connected to a 2G or 3G network will not receive emergency alerts.

'Vast majority of people' are onside with a data grab they know next to nothing about, reckons UK health secretary

Mr Humbug

We had a poll done

As Sir Humphrey explains:


Do you want to improve the state of medical research in this country?

Do you think actual healthcare data from GP records could contribute to medical research?

Do you think large data sets can improve the validity of research?

Would you support the use of GP patient records in improving medical research?

EE and Three mobe mast surveyors might 'upload some virus' to London Tube control centre, TfL told judge

Mr Humbug

More like: we don't want you shoving a mast on our roof because that means there will be people we don't know demanding access to the roof, possibly at short notice and possibly out of hours. Therefore you can't look at our roof because, erm, terrorism and national security.

Oops, says Manchester City Council after thousands of number plates exposed in parking ticket spreadsheet

Mr Humbug

Re: MC1192

Manchester has a lot of fixed bus lane cameras (Mrs Humbug was caught by one when she moved over about ten yards too early in order to turn left at a junction). My guess would be that they are all recorded as MC1192.

I would also guess that some parking areas have automated camera enforcement and 'no ticket displayed' really means 'didn't pay by phone app'.

But this is all just a guess

Crane horror Reg reader uses his severed finger to unlock Samsung Galaxy phone

Mr Humbug

It would have been more interesting...

if he had registered the fingerprint on the phone before the accident and could still unlock it with the severed digit afterwards.

Someone should investigate this. Someone who is not me.

Words to strike fear into admins' hearts: One in five workers consider themselves 'digital experts' these days

Mr Humbug

I keep a handy printout of https://xkcd.com/627/ just in case I forget how anything works

Mr Humbug

Re: Experts from the Dunning Kruger Institute of Technology

Oi! I have O-Level Latin AND I know which end to hold a soldering iron (after the first time)

Airline software super-bug: Flight loads miscalculated because women using 'Miss' were treated as children

Mr Humbug

Re: Little Miss Sunshine

And if TUI has a data breach the press release will tell us that security of customer data is their primary concern.

Clothes retailer Fatface: Someone's broken in and accessed your personal data, including partial card payment details... Don't tell anyone

Mr Humbug

That's not about increasing security, it means "We have begun work on shifting the blame for this sort of thing to someone else"

Ministry of Defence tells contractors not to answer certain UK census questions over security fears

Mr Humbug

Re: I was working for...

If you put down 'engineering' and give your work postcode as RG7 4PR it might identify you as someone who knows something interesting, whereas contractor could be anything from cleaner to HR assistant.

Brit IBM veteran wins unfair dismissal case after 2018's Global Technology Services redundancy bloodbath

Mr Humbug

If you call it redundancy it is, but a business can dismiss and re-engage someone if it needs to change the terms of employment and has been unable to negotiate an agreement with the employee.

Mr Humbug

> moving their jobs to another country in order to lower costs is not redundancy.

Actually, it is.

The legal definition of redundancy is that it happens when a business stops doing work of a particular kind or in a particular place. So if there are tech support employees in London and the business moves its office to Manchester (or to another country) then the London tech support employees are redundant.

They should be offered suitable alternative work, if available (which might be in the new location). The employer doesn't have to pay for them to move, but better employers might offer to.

Of course, if not all jobs are moving then the selection criteria must be objective and fair, which is what seems to have got IBM into trouble over this one. The 70% reduction says that the judge agreed that even if IBM had been fair and objective teh result would have been the same.

How do you save an ailing sales pitch? Just burn down the client's office with their own whiteboard

Mr Humbug

Don't know much about non-UK electrics, but it seems to me that if you have two voltages available then they should use different plug and socket combinations that are arranged so that 110V and 220V can't be interconnected. Is that not how they do it in Taiwan?

Judge denies Parler an injunction to force AWS to host the antisocial network for internet outcasts

Mr Humbug

Perhaps even Parler knows better than to get into a contract with Oracle

UK network Three hikes pay-as-you-go rates by 400% to push punters to buy 'bundles'

Mr Humbug


Presumably, 3 has decided that it needs a bigger "average revenue per user", which is what the "more for more" strategy seems to be aimed at. Someone who makes 10 minutes of calls, send 20 texts and uses 50MB of data per month won't suddenly start using 500 minutes, 1,000 texts and 2GB of data just because they are paying for a £5 bundle that includes all that. But 3 either gets more money from them (through increased PAYG charges or a bundle that they don't use) or gets them off its books. Either way, ARPU increases.

ARPU seems to be the way that mobile networks measure their value.

'Best tech employer of the year' threatened trainee with £15k penalty fee for quitting to look after his sick mum

Mr Humbug

There are a couple of reasons for packaging it as a loan, not graduate tax:

Graduates who move to highly paid jobs abroad stop paying UK income tax but still have to pay the loan repayments

For the next 30 years the borrowing is an individual's personal debt, not part of governemnt debt. A graduate tax would have the government paying the money up front against gaining potential future tax revenue, so natioanal debt increases

Let's check in now with the new California monolith... And it's gone, torn down by a bunch of MAGA muppets

Mr Humbug

Re: Without aliens, the Messiah would have died before getting crucified

that's not the Messiah, that's a very naughty boy

'Massive game-changer for UK altnet industry': BT-owned UK comms backbone Openreach hikes prices on FTTP-linked leased line circuits

Mr Humbug

Last year we had a line cut at work (gardeners, hedge trimmer, very tall hedge). We were paying the extra £3 or whatever it is per month for high priority response to faults so two OpenReach vans arrived within a couple of hours of reporting it to our service provider and three cut lines plus an additional fault on another line were fixed on the same working day as the report. We did get charged (not OpenReach's fault after all), but it was only £117 plus VAT for two engineers for a couple of hours

I've always had excellent experiences when dealing with the OpenReach engineers. It helps if you use the right words (the thing from the pole to your building is a 'drop wire' or 'drop', not a cable and you're connected to a 'pair', not to a line). Although you can never be quite sure what will happen if OpenReach subcontracts the job to Quinn or Kelly.

We bought a knockoff Lego launchpad kit from China for our Saturn V rocket so you don't have to

Mr Humbug

As my daughter pointed out to someone who criticised her Lego:

'All Lego bricks are reusable. Why are recycling and waste even a consideration?'

Excel is for amateurs. To properly screw things up, those same amateurs need a copy of Access

Mr Humbug

Re: All that counselling, wasted

Thanks a bunch! I'd managed to put that 'tool' completely out of my mind.

I did use it once, to discover that its description was far in advance of its capability. As I recall, all it did was copy the table field structure and data. All queries were still executed in Access, so performance actually decreased, and you lost all the foreign key constraints

From the Department of WCGW: An app-controlled polycarbonate lock with no manual override/physical key

Mr Humbug

Re: Cabeaux tape can get a cab.

A web site called doctor whore views?

It's great to have Mr Dabbs back.

Edit: Blast. Beaten to it while typing

It's National Cream Tea Day and this time we end the age-old debate once and for all: How do you eat yours?

Mr Humbug

Have you not heard of the V-Pud?


In olden days these were available direct from the maker at various Farmers' Markets

Laughing UK health secretary launches COVID-19 Test and Trace programme with glitchy website and no phone app

Mr Humbug

So how will it go?

Phone rings

Voice: Hello Mr Humbug, the is NHS Track and Trace. You have been in contact with a known COVID-19 case and must stay home for two weeks.

Me: Gosh how distressing, Can you verify that you're from NHS track and Trace?

Voice: You can check the number I'm calling from.

Me: But numbers can be spoofed. Anyway, who was I in contact with?

Voice: I can't tell you that.

Me: OK then, where and when was I in contact with them?

Voice: I can't tell you that either.

Me: So you want me to stay home for 14 days on the word of an unknown caller who can't verify any of the information they are telling me?

Voice: Yes, it's very important that you do.

Me: Goodbye.

It's all going to go so well, isn't it?

UK's Ministry of Defence: We'll harvest and anonymise private COVID-19 apps' tracing data by handing it to 'behavioural science' arm

Mr Humbug

> nyone else seeing a smartphoneological version of the SA80 story limping and twitching it's sorry hide in our general direction?

It will be fine once we've asked the Germans to fix it for us, as long as you don't try and hold the phone in your left hand

Openreach tells El Reg it'll kill off copper sales in 118 UK locations next year

Mr Humbug

Now I'm really quite irritated

After checking all the neighboring properties with the tool on the Openreach web site it turns out that our office and the primary school next door are the only addresses that cannot get FTTP around here. It's even available at addresses that are served by the same pole that we are.

I wonder why Openreach thinks that houses need 1Gbps fibre, but a primary school should be satisfied with 30 Mbps (the 'minimum guaranteed' speed of an FTTC line at that address)

Mr Humbug

Not sure how they measure availability of FTTP

I see the exchanges that both home and work are connected to are on that list, but FTTP is not available at either address. Although Openreach was digging up the streets near work in January.


I just found the Ofcom availability map, which shows that almost everywhere around work, except for the road that we are on, can get FTTP.

I am annoyed.

Behold: The ghastly, preening, lesser-spotted Incredible Bullsh*tting Customer

Mr Humbug

I think I must be older than you. I have the D units (D32 and D33)

Mr Humbug

Erm... I have ECDL.

Some years ago I worked at a training company that assessed them The qualification for marking the tests was to have passed it yourself - I think it took me two hours to do the 5 hours of tests.

There were good intentions behind it, but, as with all targets, it rapidly fell victim to Goodhart's Law (a label that I only learned about from this week's More or Less).

I also have ECDL Advanced, which was equally difficult to get.

UK finds itself almost alone with centralized virus contact-tracing app that probably won't work well, asks for your location, may be illegal

Mr Humbug

Re: Covid jail "prank"

Ross Anderson pointed that out some weeks ago:


"The performance art people will tie a phone to a dog and let it run around the park; the Russians will use the app to run service-denial attacks and spread panic; and little Johnny will self-report symptoms to get the whole school sent home."

Mr Humbug

> I also wonder what will happen when the first person who uses the app gets Covid-19 from a contact, without the app alerting them ?

Nothing. It's not NHSX's fault if the contact who gave you the virus didn't use the app, didn't activate the app properly or used the app but didn't report their symptoms. The app is perfect, it's the users (or lack of them) that are the problem.

Something a bit phishy in your inbox? You can now email suspected frauds straight to Blighty's web takedown cops

Mr Humbug

Isn't that what they've asked for?

Watch out, everyone, here come the Coronavirus Cops, enjoying their little slice of power way too much

Mr Humbug

I read that Tweet differently

I think the important bit is "Please do not call 101 to report breaches."

In other words, Cambridgeshire Police is fed up with people calling 101 to complain about the man down the road going to work, so it's getting all the whinges collated into a list that someone can skim-read once a week for anything that's actually important.

Microsoft attempts to up its Teams game with new features while locked-down folk flock to rival Zoom... warts and all

Mr Humbug

Funny you should mention that. The Office365 message centre has this:

New Feature: Multi-Window Chat for Microsoft Teams

MC207218, Stay Informed, Published date: 21 Mar 2020

Updated March 23, 2020: The initial roll-out will be for Windows clients only. We will provide support for Mac and Linux clients in the coming weeks.

Multi-Window Chat is a new Microsoft Teams feature which enables users to multitask more efficiently by popping out their chat conversations into separate windows.

We'll begin roll-out to all customers starting in early April and expect to complete the roll-out by the end of May.

Real-time tragedy: Dumb deletion leaves librarian red-faced and fails to nix teenage kicks on the school network

Mr Humbug

My rather vague recollection of acquiring stuff from there (when it was called the Public Domain Software Archive - Janet's address for it was uk.ac.lancs.pdsoft I think) was that I used to browse the folder structure with a terminal emulator. Then a command on my account on my university's mainframe would transfer the file to 'local' storage so that I could download it to floppy (5.25 inch of course) using Kermit and take it home where I could finally PKUNPAK it (before Phil Katz invented Zip) and see if it did what it was supposed to.

All this means that I'm old and my recollection may be faulty.

Stob's vital message to Britain's IT nation: And no, it's not about that

Mr Humbug

Re: I thought it was

The version I remember is

R for mo



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