* Posts by Sargs

36 posts • joined 18 Nov 2010

'I crashed AOL for 19 hours and messed up global email for a week'


Re: Sendmail hacking to the rescue

Formatting a microdrive cartridge would stretch the tape and increase its potential capacity. If you were a really boring nerd, you could write a program that would repeatedly format the cartridge then measure its capacity, stopping after two formats gave more-or-less the same value. Or the tape snapped.

Kids of today- tell 'em you used to literally physically stretch your storage to get a couple of extra kilobytes out of it, they'll ignore you and hope you go away.

GoDaddy gives white supremacist site its marching orders after Charlottesville slur


As an obese, scruffy, poorly edumacated white guy, I suddenly feel to get a tattoo that says "ONLY SUPERFICIALLY A HORRIBLE HUMAN BEING". :(

Oracle doing due diligence on Accenture. Yep, you read that right


I can see the synergies

Makes perfect sense to me- the two things that aggravate me the most at work are Oracle products and Accenture consultants. Combine the two, and I'll be in an early grave in half the time!

BOFH: There are no wrong answers, just wrong questions. Mmm, really wrong ones


If I wanted to fill in stupid questionnaires, I'd be browsing Facebook, boss.

At BigCorp, we seem to get a questionnaire about some aspect of business life at least once a quarter. They tell us they're anonymous, but the password to the external website is our employee number. They tell us that they're not mandatory, but we get email reminders until we've filled them out.

Regardless, employee morale and trust has never been higher. The responses tell them so.

Disney rollercoaster helps pop out kidney stones


I recommend Blackpool pleasure beach's "Big One" rollercoaster as a very effective nasal decongestant. After the big drop and pull-out, I thought I'd had a stroke and was bleeding out through my nose. That was snot the case.

She cannae take it, Captain Kirk! USS Zumwalt breaks down


Re: Which would win in a fight...

That depends on whether it's raining or not.

HP doorsteps Apple shoppers at the altar of dreams


This is what innovation is?

Seriously, it's a sad state of affairs when "innovation" translates to a couple of millimetres shaved off the case dimensions and a few dozen grams off the weight.

Lexus cars suffer Purple Screen of Death – code bug turns the air blue


Re: And again.

I had a garage (main dealer, so not some back-alley bloke who'd probably know better than to mess with it) fluff a firmware upgrade to my car's ECU, bricking the damn thing and leaving me without transport for three days, so not having wireless connectivity is no guarantee of safety.

The fun part was trying to stop them explaining what firmware was and what updates were, and trying to get them to explain exactly what their update was supposed to do anyway.

Flying blind: F-35's radar software fails in the air


This is more Blue Screen than Blue Circle, which was at least stable. Absolutely rock-solid, in fact.

FLABBER-JASTED: It's 'jif', NOT '.gif', says man who should know


And we were supposed to pronounce SCSI as "Sexy"

... but that didn't happen either.

That Osbo bloke - he's on your Twitters. 'What a c**k'


I have a plan

How about we lock Osborne in the cellars of No 11 with a MONIAC filled with Gin instead of the usual coloured water? After a week, we open the door and see if he's learned some basic economics or drunk himself out of our misery.

Game over for legendary 1980s games designer Mike Singleton



I briefly worked with Mike on the probably justly-obscure Starlord back in '93 at Maelstrom's office in Birkenhead. My strongest memory is of his sitting there staring at the code for an hour, suddenly going "Ah!", typing furiously for twenty minutes and one quick blat through MASM later, the 3D engine had a brand-new feature springing fully-formed from the head of Zeus, so to speak.

Oh, and the code in question was 80x86 assembler with no meaningful symbolic address labels as that would have made it too easy. Even back then, most PC/Amiga/ST development was done in C apart from very low level graphics operations, so his assembly-abilities impressed even then.

It's a shame to see him go.

One thing; I'm fairly certain Carrier Command was done by Realtime Games in Leeds, which was Baird, Oliver and Onions, not Singleton.

UK.gov blacklists Fujitsu from future contracts - report


Re: This must be false....

Corporate incompetence can be off-set by "Old-Boys-Network" credits if enough senior executives went to the same public school as the minister whose department is involved in the project.

RIM: What's all the 'bleeding' fuss about BlackBerry developers?


Re: They treat their devs pretty well

RIM sent me a Playbook, Nokia sent me a Lumia 800. I had hoped the Mail Preference Service would stop people sending me junk.

'Apple is corrupting App Store downloads', warn angry devs


Not just Apple having trouble with signing apps lately,

Symbian Signed had a four working day outage...

...but I was the only guy left to notice.

Obama is best Pres 'to beat alien invasion'


Here in the UK...

Since Bernard Quatermass has been given his P45 as a result of cutbacks, who would the government send to face the aliens? Chloe Smith?

What is SpaceX Dragon's secret cargo?


SpaceX's articles of incorporation

...and Elon Musk's citizenship.

It's been a tax dodge aaaallll alonng.

New satellite will blow your socks off - and spot them from spaaaace


Re: Tinfoil hats on standby...

Worldview-3 project cost is about $650 million, the last launch of a KH-11 came in at a little over $4 billion dollars, which was $2 billion *under* the initial budget estimate.

Olympic champ ad blitz dents Virgin Media despite £1bn sales


I hope their marketing department gets fired. Out of a cannon.

It's not the telly ads that bother me, it's the sheer amount of paper they're shoving through my letterbox every week. I'm getting thick, glossy brochures and ridiculous Tivo box offers two to three times a week, week after week. I've signed up to Mailing Preference Services, but since Virgin's crap is all addressed to "The Occupier", it makes no difference.

I'm stockpiling it to burn for heat when the double-dip recession dooms us all.

Actively cooled rocket primed for easy re-entry


Re: Flat panels with sharp edges

Not sure that'd be the case. The ionised plasma sheath created during a re-entry will show up on radar quite nicely. During meteor showers, you can occasionally hear bursts of radio stations far over the horizon as their signals bounce off the plasma trails of the meteorites.

Besides, missile detection is based both on radar *and* IR sensors.

ESA's first Vega rocket blasts off without a hitch


The Constellation Urion

...is an old NASA joke from the days when they did manned spaceflight and dumping your pee overboard would result in being surrounded by a cloud of twinkly frozen piddle crystals.

On a related theme, NASA received complaints from a group of Native Americans after it became clear that they were leaving behind bags of astronaut doings on the moon. The tribe in question attached mythological significance to the moon and really didn't want it cluttered up with moon-poo. I can't recall the outcome, but I also can't recall NASA sending up a crew with a couple of carrier bags and a pooper-scooper to tidy up, and I think I'd remember that.

Kids should be making software, not just using it - Gove


The long-term plan...

Is to turn the UK into the world's child-labour coding sweatshop.

Rainbow Islands


Fond memories

But not of playing the game, as I do. What I do remember is reading an article in a games magazine written by Andrew Braybrook of Paradroid and Uridium fame. He did the Amiga port of Rainbow Islands and in his article described how he handled compressing and decompressing the level data. This was my first introduction to the mysteries of compression routines and actually helped kick off my love of programming and resulted in a bit of a career shift.

So it's Rainbow Islands' fault I do this stuff for a living.

PETA claims anti-Mario campaign was a joke


What about the turtles?

Mario may not skin raccoon dogs for their fur, but what about all the poor turtles he brutally de-shells in a manner reminiscent of that scene in Cannibal Holocaust?

To add insu- well, injury to injury, he then uses the shells to hurt other turtles!

When will the madness stop?



Lemmings is sinfully good fun

I worked in the games industry at the beginning of the nineties, and one of the more amusing things stuck to our office's wall-of-fun was a copy of a letter that was doing the rounds of the games companies, passed on by various guys who know a guy at DMA Design.

The first three-quarters of the letter explained how the writer had bought Lemmings for their two sons, how much they loved it for its "educational possibilities" and how wonderful the whole game was...

...Then it got a bit excitable.

Apparently everything was fine until they got to the Hell-themed levels. Satanic content? Not actually the problem. The real problem was that you were saving the Lemmings from Hell, and only through the acceptance of Our Lord Jesus Christ can you be saved from eternal damnation and by rescuing the Lemmings from their presumably justified fate, DMA Design were assuming the powers of GOD HIMSELF and risking their very own immortal souls. But other than that, it was a splendid game and the writer hoped very much that there would be a sequel, with his comments taken on-board.

It should go without saying that the letter came from a location a wee bit to the west of the UK.

It should also go without saying that DMA Design paid great heed to the fellow's comments and none of their subsequent games have been anything but good old-fashioned uncontroversial family fun.

Best Buy to shutter all UK megastores


Reserve Online?

From repeated personal experience (for some reason, the boss insists on buying "impulse buys" from PC world), what happens when you reserve stuff online is that they give you a reservation code, the boss goes to collect it, they say they can't find it in the back and then sell him the wrong thing for twice the price. He then gets angry and takes it out on us because it's our fault he had to have it *now* and it's our fault PC World are just over the road.

Dubstep ringtone wins Nokia compo


Lowering the (ring)tone

Perhaps morale is now so low within Nokia, they feel the need to actively punish their users? "Damn you all! Stop buying our products so we can all get our redundancy money and the company can die in peace!"

The iPhone 4S in depth: More than just a vestigial 'S'


You're absolutely right that coatings will help matters. I just liked the idea that the losses in the Silica are offset by the gains in the Silicon.


A slight loss of confidence on Apple's part is not necessarily a bad thing, as companies that become complacent about their position rapidly lose it. I remember working with Nokia when the iPhone came out and saying "You really need to take this seriously, it blows anything we have out of the water in terms of usability and experience and they're easier to program", and the general response was "Well, our smartphones multitask, they have 3G, they make reliable phone calls, they have brilliant cameras*, who's going to buy an iPhone over ours? We're Nokia!"

Of course they might have just been flannelling an external contractor while the management quaked in their boots behind closed doors, but they certainly didn't seem to try to address the iPhone until much too late.

*I did cameras. Other people may have done the Brilliance.


What one hand giveth...

So they've added a backside-illuminated sensor to improve low-light performance, then added a five-element lens? Every glass-air interface in a lens system increases the amount of light lost, meaning worse low-light performance.

Okay, the new sensor's improved performance will almost certainly be more significant than the light losses from addition of a new lens element, but it tickled me that one new feature slightly counteracts the other.

OnStar backs down over GPS tracking of ex-customers


Given its original intended use was to update the inertial reference platforms on ballistic missile submarines so they could more reliably incinerate cities half the world away, I imagine they cry themselves to sleep every night at the terrible harm GPS is now causing.

Attention metal thieves: Buy BT, get 75 MILLION miles of copper


BT got there first

Back in about 1987, BT came round to my high school to show all us cool kids in the GCSE Control Technology class how to splice fibre optics with a fusion welder. One of the things we learned was that when BT replaced all the old copper trunk lines with fibre optics, the scrap value of the cable bundles they were ripping out more than paid for the whole process.

We also learned never to look into the microscope of the fusion welder whilst it is welding. Some people just never listen DO THEY, HEADMISTRESS?

Atlantis computer goes down: Fixed by 'nauts


Sometimes upgrading something that works well enough can be beneficial

I think I recall reading in Siddiqi's "Sputnik and the Soviet Space Challenge" that in the seventies, the Soviets managed to save something like over a tonne of mass on their Soyuz launchers by scrapping all the old analog electronics and control systems and replacing them with digital, so there's two sides to holding on to proven tech.

iPhone plunges 13,500 ft from skydiver's pocket - and lives


Product Placement Much?

Let's see- ignoring the iPhone, iPad and "Find My Phone" mentions, we have prominent references and links for FORD F150 RAPTOR and INCIPIO CASE, neither of which added much to the understanding of the story, although maaaaybe they added to someone's bank balance?

Okay, perhaps the case link is useful if you want to know what case not to use next time you go sky-diving?

German chemical giant depending on biscuit-based security


Food Technology as Faraday Cages

Back in the day, we were trying to test the behaviour of a mobile phone app we were developing and needed to simulate conditions of low signal strength. Problem was, we were within spitting distance of the local cell tower. Wrapping tinfoil round the phone didn't work and locking the phone in the safe also failed to produce the desired results on account of us not being able to see what happened, so we tried the kitchen Microwave instead.

It seemed like a great idea- It keeps all those toasty microwaves in, right? Plus it has a window, so we don't have to do Schrodinger testing any more! Well, it turns out that we're better programmers than radio engineers, because it simply didn't affect signal strength.

We wound up using the safe and a cunningly-positioned video camera. Also, nobody used the microwave much after that.

Has CERN made the VATICAN ANTIMATTER BOMB for real?*


Dan Brown: CERN Recruitment Consultant?

I applied for a position at CERN recently and was amused and distubed to find that in amongst the billions of questions on the on-line form was something like "Where did you hear about us?" with multiple choice options.

Two of the options were "Angels and Demons - Film" and "Angels and Demons - Book".

I didn't pick either of those options but I still didn't get the job.


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