* Posts by Bill 21

48 publicly visible posts • joined 13 Aug 2010

40 years since Elite became the most fun you could have with 22 kilobytes

Bill 21

Re: Assembly

Yes , but the point is that these days you mostly don't have to be concerned about whether your app will fit into the available memory/storage. Back in the day, the estimates you had to get signed off before starting included memory and processor budgets for every process, plus you had to show the tasks would complete within their time constraints (num_instructions * tick < time-limit). This gets very expensive but you do it because it's painful if you finish the s/w and discover at that point that - it won't fit into the required system, or barely runs.

(The actual need to do all this expensive guessing went away when computers grew faster than software, but it took a long time after this for the requirement to do it to be removed from the QA processes)

RIP: Software design pioneer and Pascal creator Niklaus Wirth

Bill 21

Re: Pascal wasn't just for purists, despite the implementations

In the 80's. I was writing real realtime software with Oregon Pascal and pSOS. There was lots of bit-twiddling and endian stuff to talk to other systems; surprisingly little had to drop down to 68000 m/c due to the wonders of variant records. Worst bit was the linker only able to handle the 1st eight characters of the names leading to ugly prefix warts, e.g. 4x15x1_S(omeName)

Doom is 30, and so is Windows NT. How far we haven't come

Bill 21

Re: No imagination any more

You missed "open the door and assume it did", which is the one I've encountered most times in the last 40-odd years.

To be, or not to be, in the office. Has returning to work stalled?

Bill 21

Re: Remote

Scotland has ditched peak-time pricing for 6 months, we'll see how that works out... Personally, as a pensioner, it's very convenient. Regardless, it's the rail companies need to offer season tickets that make sense for a couple of days a week of travel.

Enterprising techie took the bumpy road to replacing vintage hardware

Bill 21

Re: the pointy end

Around 2005, i got a call from a defence customer about a system they'd had from us in about 1990. The system had a few more years to go on support, and one of the 10MB Winchester drives had just failed. They still had the spare drive we'd supplied but weren't confident to set it up. I could still remember the pain I had setting the things up first time round - stone age tools, useless fragmented instructions, and sacred details residing in the heads of annoying gits. And the bollocking after for 'wasting time' writing up some decent instructions and trying them out.

Anyway, I was suitably impressed by my younger self''s scribblings because it went relatively smoothly. I was a bit twitchy about getting some data for it off a 15 year old TK50 cartridge that had spent the time in a box in succession of security cabinets on three different sites, but the worst problem was only I'd completely forgotten how to get the cartridge into the drive.

Unity closes offices, cancels town hall after threat in wake of runtime fee restructure

Bill 21

Re: On false equivalences

In the 80's there were lots of libraries that had royalties. It was a nightmare to track, especially when software went into PROMs and could be stuffed away in cupboards and drawers where it's existence could become ambiguous. It was a major influence on the impulse to move to pay-once-per-lifetime-anonymous-seat (whatever that's called), open source or shareware equivalents.

'What's the point of me being in my office, just because they want to see me in the office?'

Bill 21

+1 for saying guess rather than estimate

Time Lords decree an end to leap seconds before risky attempt to reverse time

Bill 21

The UK tax year still ends on April 5th because the taxman refused to lose the days in the year when the calendar changed.

Tesla recalls 40k cars over patch that broke power steering

Bill 21

Maybe the Tesla s/w engineers should have a code review with the remaining Twitter engineers?

Australian wasps threaten another passenger plane, with help from COVID-19

Bill 21

Re: Incredibly delicate technology

Yes but how long from the pilot inspection till completing cockpit checks/paperwork and actually taking off, and is that long enough for a wasp to sneak in. I don't know, but I'd suspect the pilot checks the covers are on during the walkround. Maybe the groundcrew should wave the covers at the pilot before he sets off?

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

Bill 21

Re: Hot stuff

Dell used to ship Windows XP with an interesting behaviour. You would, as normal, set your password when doing the initial setup of the new box and would be admin. However it also had an admin account which was hidden from the pretty XP logon screen and this had a blank password - you got to the login prompt for this by bashing Ctrl-Alt-Del about three times, then hit return to login and you were in.

I paid for it, that makes it mine. Doesn’t it? No – and it never did

Bill 21

Re: You know you're old when...

Maybe send one of them to Big Clive to investigate the insides? Should be entertaining.

That time a techie accidentally improved an airline's productivity

Bill 21

Re: Everybody knows...

Godot 3D Thingy

Press the X to close button, then ...

Please Confirm....

Exit the editor?

Cancel Quit

Sick of Windows but can't afford a Mac? Consult our cynic's guide to desktop Linux

Bill 21

Nah. Pick the desktop first - Plasma/KDE for the transparent wall-panel users or Gnome for fruity peeps, and then pick a 'currently popular' no-brainer distro in that area. Please, not the niche L-thing you actually use and definitely not something that 'looks the same' (because it won;t work the same in various important ways).

Only Microsoft can give open source the gift of NTFS. Only Microsoft needs to

Bill 21


Regrettably, the answer's "because"

Legacy IT to blame for UK's inflexible benefits system

Bill 21

Money for old rope

Consider the rules change twice a year with the budgets - three or four months to roll out the changes for these (on the legacy and shiny systems), then you're playing catchup with the grand unification for a little, then the next change hits. And the incentive for the companies doing the work would be to keep it going just like that.

Vital UK customs system outage contributes to travel chaos at its borders

Bill 21

Re: The thing that causes me most concern with this is...

Not sure they're responsible for the new thing, seems not to have been mentioned in the article. They seem to be getting £168m to keep the old junk up for 5 yrs.

'Please download in Microsoft Excel': Meet the tech set to monitor IT performance across central UK government

Bill 21

And lets not forget everyone will have a different definition of legacy.

Software guy smashes through the Somebody Else's Problem field to save the day

Bill 21

Re: I recognise the story

Just sign up for the shortest/cheapest 18th Ed course. a man of your cal-iber should have no trouble. And away you go.

UK government has 'no clear plan' for replacing ageing legacy IT estate, MPs report

Bill 21

Re: There is an upside

Trailing edge, yes that was me too.

The trick was always to ensure you didn't end up in the recycle bin along with the system when its time was up. But then there was always a stream of 'new' old kit coming your way for some TLC.

Irish Health Service ransomware attack happened after one staffer opened malware-ridden email

Bill 21

If its anything like my employers, the idiot emails are sent to everyone at more or less the same time. Anyway, the whole point is that they get almost 100% the 'proper' response from these things (cos they're obvious), which means everyone must be fully trained. Tick.

Log4j RCE: Emergency patch issued to plug critical auth-free code execution hole in widely used logging utility

Bill 21

Re: Blimey - this made it into the nrMSM

Yes, but that's why I popped over here to find out what was actually going on. The linked article has lot's of words in it, but very little actual information.

Swooping in to claim the glory while the On Call engineer stands baffled

Bill 21

Re: Hands On (and Eyes On Too)

Ears are quite useful for picking up on those clicky, crunchy, zzzst, noises

Nose for the burning/smoke events

Report details how Airbus pilots saved the day when all three flight computers failed on landing

Bill 21

Re: "Seems the pilots did a good job,"

Is there a record of the hundreds(?) of MCAS incidents anywhere I can see? Just asking.

SCO v. IBM settlement deal is done, but zombie case shuffles on elsewhere

Bill 21

Re: Where is Pamela Jones when you REALLY need an explanation?

It's all still there: http://www.groklaw.net/

Transcribe-my-thoughts app would prevent everyone knowing what I actually said during meetings

Bill 21

Re: Minutes

It is actually quite easy to write the minutes up front, based on the last set. Make sure there are a few typos to give them some incentive to play. It turns the meeting into a collective go at a multiple-choice questionnaire. If anyone acts up, they get to dictate the changes they want - failure to agree a set of words means the first jerk collects the action to resolve it.

Microsoft's OS joins macOS and Linux at the Flutter party, but guess which one performs best? Hint: It's not Windows

Bill 21

Flutter's very easy to work with, though. Haters hate I s'pose.

The Honor MagicBook Pro looks nice, runs like a dream, and isn't too expensive either. What more could you want?

Bill 21

Re: And the software?

What software? Nothing in the main article says what OS it runs. it's Huawei (unloved by orange Donny), so how can it it be windows, android, chrome?

What a time for a TITSUP*: Santander down and out on pre-Bank Holiday payday

Bill 21

Re: Update it in Leap Years only?

And the days with 23 or 25 wallclock hours.

'There is no way we can keep coding local': GitPod's cloud development platform released into sunlight of open source

Bill 21

Obviously never heard of the joys of sharing a remote VAX system with loads of others. Quite a lot of coffee breaks lets say.

Chromium devs want the browser to talk to devices, computers directly via TCP, UDP. Obviously, nothing can go wrong

Bill 21

Meet ...

ActiveZ, s'way better'n ActiveX cos random js loaded from www is loads shinier than that legacy compiled stuff

Better Java than Java: Kotlin 1.4 introduces new compilers for JVM and JavaScript

Bill 21

Re: Sprouting like mushrooms (or are they toadstools?)

I'm honestly curious why people say things like this. It's almost like you can't cope with change, which kind of suggests you're in the wrong trade.

Amazon settles for $11m with workers in unpaid bag-search wait lawsuit

Bill 21

If Amazon aren't incentivised to reduce the time workers spend in limbo (at work, but not getting paid), they won't bother.

UK enters almost-lockdown: Brits urged to keep calm and carry on – as long as it doesn't involve leaving the house

Bill 21

Re: "One form of exercise a day"

I notice retail exceptions include "Bicycle shops". Twice.

When is an electrical engineer not an engineer? When Arizona's state regulators decide to play word games

Bill 21

The customer changed the requirements, then got upset when the price went up (a bit)

FFS - adding a USB charger (to a lunatic concept) is going to up the regulatory effort, which is the sort of thing you'd expect an engineer to notice.

"According to the court filing [PDF], Mills was hired to develop a battery-powered pump for an umbrella that incorporates a mist spraying system. After the client informed Mills that the device should support USB charging, Mills raised his initial estimate from $4,000 to $4,800. The client in response complained to the Arizona Board of Technical Registration that Mills was not a registered engineer and demanded a refund of payments made."

The democratisation of IT: Amazon and Microsoft own half the cloud infrastructure market

Bill 21

So, on a pie-chart thing, the second place - at about 20% - would be 'other'?

*Spits out coffee* £4m for a database of drone fliers, UK.gov? Defra did game shooters for £300k

Bill 21

If you think a little sideways on this, its a club. Try googling club membership software. Its a thing.

UK Court of Appeal settles reseller's question: Is software a good?

Bill 21

When I started, the company I worked for still delivered software on paper (or mylar) tape.

So there was the material, and the holes. Does this mean about half the bits were missing?

Confessions of an ebook eater

Bill 21

And if you wandered out of the computing area to the back of the room you found yourself alone, but surrounded by decades-old engineering(?) books.

Docker revs up Engine, hits 1.10

Bill 21

Um. It was 1.9, and is now 1.10 - which means its been a while since the zero after the decimal point disappeared.

Amazon issued with licence for delivery drone madness

Bill 21

As an alternative to VLOS, how about they require a pigeon with a red flag to fly in front of the drone?

Behind every great tech boss there’s ... who exactly?

Bill 21

Why is this still showing on the front page? - it's three weeks old and no-one cares.

UK air traffic mega cockup: BOTH server channels failed - report

Bill 21

Re: Just "193 Atomic Functions"?

I'd assume it failed somehow when they tried it with 194, but just kept running when they used 193. Magic numbers are like that.

Busty Ohio mannequin survives assassination attempt

Bill 21

0 votes?

He didn't manage to vote for himself? S'difficult over there is't?

$1,000 reward offered for stolen cancer research laptop

Bill 21

Oi, two types of peeps

... them as have lost a disk, and them's as ain't.

Personally got scars from a 170Mb hard disk that died before I learnt. Still hurts.

Supermarket techie in mega loyalty-point blag

Bill 21

do what?

Lost me here - is that £8K or £80K - in 8 years?

Ellison wrestles Google to strangle 'unofficial' Java

Bill 21

Oh dear

... but frightens other people from following Google's example ...

or from using java if you don't have to?