* Posts by William Towle

351 posts • joined 8 Jun 2007


Relics from the early days of the Sinclair software scene rediscovered at museum during lockdown sort-out

William Towle

> Remember when a games developer could be one guy with a ZX Spectrum?

Yes! While I didn't get as far as having something published, I learnt to program by typing in from listings (in the very early days when we only had one TV, my Dad read them out for something to do) and modifying the results. I did also write to the publishers of Skool Daze with enthusiastic congratulations and game ideas, and was particularly delighted to get a response.

Some of my games got reimplemented on the Amiga I owned next, including a port of CDS's Othello, a BASIC game written in some very spaghetti manner to make computer-player and human-help logic fit 16K. Once ported, I found it very easy to beat a) because I didn't have to wait ages for it to move, and could think undistractedly, and b) having untangled said spaghetti I understood exactly why the moves that came out of the help weren't necessarily the optimum ones :)

Technology doesn’t widen the education divide. People do that

William Towle

Re: "what we do with it is our fault"

> When I was in secondary school (UK late 80s), we touched on electronics in my physics class.

Nod, I remember (spoiler alert) literally doing that.

In the task following a demonstration where a large capacitor could be made to briefly flash a mains bulb from a small battery, we ran out of switches.

"Don't worry", said my lab partner, "this morse code tapping key I've spotted will suffice".

Shaking off a large jolt from accidentally touching it mid-experiment I shook myself and warned "be careful, it tickles a bit".

"Wimp!", said the other boy ... and promptly jumped six feet in the air when he ended up doing the same!

// The teacher's name? Newton. Thanks to also having a Mr Poulton he was occasionally known as Neutron (and Proton, respectively - as physics and chemistry teachers, the "nucleus of the science department" *groan*) but mostly we called him Isaac :)

Why tell the doctor where it hurts, when you could use emoji instead?

William Towle

Re: History repeats itself


I recently had the interesting experience of setting up a brand new monitor where the instructions were entirely pictorial.

Naturally en route to getting at the instructions, I took everything out of the box only for the first frame to convey the idea -eventually, I realised- that you connected the head of the stand with the screen in the box, still wrapped and face down, in order to protect it.

Then you connected the base by pushing and turning, followed by the tightening of screws, and *only then* would it tilt, raise/lower, or turn as expected. It needed to say so - I sat with the base half on and rotated at 45 degrees wondering what I'd done wrong for some minutes!...

More than half of companies rethinking back-to-office plans amid variant uncertainty and vaccine mandates – survey

William Towle

Re: Office half full or office half empty?

> The so-called flexi fares on National Rail that were announced are an absolute joke - you only save a few pounds over buying singles. It should be radically different.

Under the old commute-daily regime you didn't save that much with short-duration season tickets anyway?

Previously over the course of a month there was flexibility to have some holiday or a day of illness/emergency-at-home (and it was better still over a year, of course) without losing money. As a useful bonus, I also got rides to/from the pub in the rain for effectively-free out of the ticket arrangement I had.

AFAICT under a "two journeys per week" season ticket, I can save some money if my employer wants two office visits per week but I only really get the earlier flexibility back if I go through the refund process (where applicable) from time to time or if my employer wants more at-desk time from me than that.

(...Not that I want to be dragging the "laptop" I've been given to and fro at all, but that's another argument)

In Search of Lost Time: GNU Grep 3.7 released with fix for 'extreme performance degradation'

William Towle

Re: grep, sed & awk

> Cat, although being one of the first commands most people use (at least if you follow the traditional "learn" route - remember learn?), actually becomes a little redundant once you get to know redirection of I/O streams.

On natively-POSIX hosts this is true, but it's worth knowing otherwise that where you're stuck on Windows with "git bash" (MSYS) or cygwin for comfort, there are corner cases where cat (strictly speaking, "useless use of cat") is what Just Works.

In one particular example when I found I couldn't get a manually-edited diff back into a git repository directly with 'patch' recently (known problem with files suddenly having DOS newlines), in tandem with my file being in /var (evidently special in some way my google fu did not help in finding) I ended up doing `cat /var/tmp/foo | git apply -` to get what I wanted!

UK's National Museum of Computing asks tunesmiths to recreate bleeps, bloops, and parps of retro game music

William Towle

Re: Wot! No mention of the Hybrid Music 5000?

> I had Toccata, Golden Brown, and Sweet Dreams as BASIC programs using the internal sound system on the Beeb.

In the 90s I found a friend with an Amiga had access to a Beeb with some of these and we had a go at getting the files readable by an emulator. When our naive efforts failed, I studied the BASIC programs and hand-created versions in OctaMED for him to enjoy.

Move forward to this weekend, and all this came up in a pub conversation. This week I've found some of these as YouTube videos, and been throwing some disk images at jsbeeb. For the former, I was impressed by results the search term "beeb tracker" produces.

In particular I also recall a Liberty Bell/Monty Python theme, an Axel F version that called itself the "B B & C Mix" (IIRC; other versions drop more readily out of google) and a Blue Monday version where you could mix and match what was playing in each channel. Sadly, I've not tracked those down.

This page has been deliberately left blank

William Towle


*googles for evidence of earlier cockups*

Now everyone can take in the sights and smells of a London tram station shut for 70 years

William Towle
Thumb Up

Re: Also in the Goon Show

> Kingsway Tram Subway also appeared in an episode of the Goon Show, although it was in the dark (and on the radio).

Radio 4 Extra broadcast version (and others) here. Although described as surreal I felt there was a reverential undertone to this one.

I looked forward to their take on this event and enjoyed it thoroughly :)

Ubuntu Pro arrives in premium form on Google's Cloud

William Towle

Re: Do the corpotate types trustt debian?

> Most corporate types still use rpm and don't believe in yum, so I wonder if anything that uses dpkg and apt will be taken seriously?

Yes. IME when you want some sort of toolchain for linux-based development work then at minimum there's a host OS option of RHEL or Ubuntu. If you're free to have chosen host OS or to reinstall/create VMs etc then the list of suitable SDKs broadens, but if you're not (I've been in both camps) then you get either an rpm- or deb- package-managed system to work with based on who any existing support contracts were with.

Debian's Cinnamon desktop maintainer quits because he thinks KDE is better now

William Towle

Re: Now I know that Debian also packages Cinnamon

> Then, you go for lunch (or something) and your monitor goes into power-save. When you come back, you've got to set the monitor back up.

I don't remember XFCE being quite that temperamental, but I do recall returning to my desk from team meetings at $PREVIOUS_EMPLOYER and reconnecting the monitor having that result (normally I took paper notes but once or twice having the laptop was Required). I'd have had XFCE in my personal laptops' initial installs if it wasn't for that :(

What Microsoft's Windows 11 will probably look like

William Towle

Re: muppets

> Like the Telletubbies inspired default WindowsXP desktop?

One of my managers (who was more of a fellow engineer at heart) liked saying this, so I switched my desktop background to see if any comment was passed.

Despite my screen facing him as he left our cluster (meaning the team saw, but few others would notice) he was the one that stuck out as saying nothing.

Say helloSystem: Mac-like FreeBSD project emits 0.5 release

William Towle

Re: Proof, if it were needed,...

>> "Where did that (obviously inaccurate) concept even COME from?"

> The Apple marketing department? Apple are very good at polishing things up and then implying they invented it. And the fanbois lap it up and spread the message.

There's a similar effect among Windows users about Microsoft inventing things, presumably seen through the lens of Windows' ubiquity ("it was on Windows first, because that's where I saw it first") and possibly also that of Bill's bank balance ("you don't come out of plagiarism lawsuits rich" [I suppose]).

Show these people "this is a Unix system, I know this" [1993] and point out that it is and it's clear which one - and they won't believe you, because "Unix systems are a throwback to the days of the command line" and apparently hadn't already moved on all that much.

Seven-year-old make-me-root bug in Linux service polkit patched

William Towle

Pictures something not unlike xkcd...

"Make me a sandwich"


"Seven-year-old make me a sandwich"

"...Okay <holds bread out> you're a sandwich"

With apologies to Randall

Snakes on a Plane meets The Simpsons as airline creates ‘whacker’ to scare reptiles away from parked A380s

William Towle


> Free with every Airbus A380 - a whacker that doubles as a broom!

...17 new labels and 14 new handles later, is it the same broom?

Surviving eclipse season and resurrecting 25-year-old software with Windows for Workgroups 3.11: One year with Mars Express

William Towle

> MAXTOR drives? Good luck with that.

All of my Maxtors went from "my current largest" to "current viable smallest, check backups and make it the boot disk" without incident, whereas my switch to a Seagate drive saw it croak the week it went out of warranty.

YMMV applies (obviously). AFAICT my more-enlightened friends have both scare and success stories with all the manufacturers between them and what I took away from that is to try and get a balanced opinion by never asking just one of them what they thought.

Contract killer: Certified PDFs can be secretly tampered with during the signing process, boffins find

William Towle

"secure document exchange format"

> PDF was never meant to be that, and nobody who’d spent more than half-a-day or so examining the spec[1] would ever think it was appropriate to use it for that purpose…

Unfortunately, people wanting not to send paper documents -perhaps encouraged by the pandemic- want to use it for that.

I recently had "just use X on your phone to sign [this PDF]" where X wasn't part of the stock android image and I didn't have space to install it, and while I could otherwise sign with libreoffice (after creating certificates and persuading it they existed) I found post-conversion artifacts before I could start ... with the argument "this *needs* to be done on paper" carrying little weight until I decided to stop sending attachments that were meant to be proof (and not finished submissions) :/

How much would you pay me to develop a COVID tracking app that actually works? Ah, thought so: nothing

William Towle
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Re: Lockdown

Definite nod.

When I had a commute I passed the time reading the newspaper from cover to cover, and enjoyed feeling enlightened when something that had only got a few column inches came up in the pub's quiz.

With that gone I've been able to enjoy music, comedy, and documentaries as before but with (nearly) no overhead transferring between formats/devices intermittently. This has enhanced the enjoyment greatly.

I may not have achieved anything "productive" with my time either (compared to some people writing blog articles about what they've managed) but I've staved off cabin fever by and large, and I'm calling that a win whatever anyone else thinks.

Here's how we got persistent shell access on a Boeing 747 – Pen Test Partners

William Towle

...downvotes already?

Looks like I picked the wrong week to start quoting Airplane!...

William Towle

Re: How long...

> Well, we are all going to die…

Hundreds of capitalists soon to perish? They shouldn't have gone in the first place

// see you at the wedding -->

NHS Digital booking website had unexpected side effect: It leaked people's jab status

William Towle

All well and good? If only

> In order to book you either need your NHS number or Name (as registered at the GP), DOB and Post Code.

Everything ties in AFAICT.

Although ... after my first NHSvaccine text message I didn't yet have the number and used personal details to query which centres would be available once I had the number.

On a second site visit -after receiving notice of NHS ID- it was suggested I'd made bookings and not turned up, rather than merely having let a session expire(!!) ... and later still -prompted by the NHS reminder that I had yet to see suitable location options- tried again and made the booking.

Meanwhile, in both NHSvaccine messages it was suggested my GP would also be in touch, which hasn't happened despite their surgery having been made available for the jabs. Not that they haven't been in touch, just that what I was sent was yet another survey URL that didn't go to my email address (despite recording a preference to that effect) rather than anything critical. Several times over. After being rudely woken at 6am on four consecutive days by the latest batch I replied with "STOP" and was pleasantly surprised to find that worked.

On top of the travel fiasco *this* is not happy news having already concluded "at least there's something working"... :(

More than 1,000 humans fail to beat AI contender in top crossword battle

William Towle
Thumb Up

Re: How does a computer solve crosswords?

> deciphering crossword clues always struck me as being a very human thing that just would not be at all easy for a machine. It's effectively reverse-engineering extreme poetry.

At University I decided the opposite - for a human, the first obstacle is ignoring what looks like straightforward plain English and then what remains involves interpreting the alternative grammar of what's there (I once told a dyslexic friend with a newspaper over lunch that "it's not English. The majority of clues are like equations, with two halves producing matching answers; some words are operators, and others are operands - some used verbatim and some like variables", and after a little further elaboration it clicked for him and we polished off the whole thing together). That latter interpretation stage struck me as very much what a classic expert system does.

I agree that the possibility of soundalike words and so on adds complexity to the parsing side problem, but that's just peanuts to processor grunt ... if you can seed the dictionary and grammar engine in the first place - and I suppose that's where the modern AI/ML/big data side of it comes in. 20 plus years ago I wouldn't have liked to train a system by hand - there's a reason my final year project was something else!

George Clooney of IT: Dribbling disaster and damp disk warnings scare the life out of innocent user

William Towle

Re: Am I Old?

> DRAIN was amusing in the office for a few minutes but, call me a spoilsport if you wish, should never have been unleashed on the insects* users.

...don't forget BOO!onster.coBOO!

William Towle
Paris Hilton

> Are you sure it wasn't the Bonzi Buddy?

OP seems to be describing neko, also available as oneko and xneko. Depending on implementation or command line options, this is a cat that can either follow the mouse pointer (alternative "mouse" pointer graphic included) or wander around the window you were focusing on. You could run several of these and have (for example) a cat chasing your mouse, a dog chasing the cat, and a girl chasing the dog.

I liked the idea of making the cat a bit more playful by extending the state machine but never got around to writing that much of it (I kept the skeleton code to build X11 apps on top of, though).

I also vaguely remember one with a red headed girl on a space hopper that started to look NSFW if the space hopper was off screen (--> may have been the point).

Something went wrong but we won't tell you what it is. Now, would you like to take out a premium subscription?

William Towle

Re: You have not responded for two minutes...

> We will close this ticket if no response is forthcoming.

Ah, yes.

A while back I enjoyed* trying to complain about the trains to Transport Focus, whose initial emails had something akin to "if no response is received within seven days we will assume you have been contacted by the service provider and the problem has been resolved" ... until at one point where I would obviously need some time to get my next set of proofs together as to why I had a claim against said service provider's "final decision" in the first place, and it stopped.

Naturally my next message was answered with "this ticket was closed due to lack of response" and a request to reopen the ticket (plus the same attachments again just in case, with a complaint the warning had been missing) followed.

[* in the Vogon poetry sense, naturally]

It is 60 years since the first cosmonaut reached orbit and 40 years since the Shuttle first left the launchpad

William Towle
Thumb Up

Also see also...

Archive on 4 "Gagarin and the lost Moon"

Mentions his charisma being both an important selection criteria for the initial mission and a hinderance in getting selection for subsequent missions, as while he was keen to carry on nobody wanted to risk being the guy who said yes to the project that killed him.


The COVID-19 pandemic is still going – and so is the PC buying spree: Shipments up 55% on the Before Times

William Towle

Re: But crypto

> The majority of people scrambling for PCs right now don't need high- or even mid-end GPUs, it just has to be good enough to run Teams/Zoom/Word etc.

That might be true, but what is "good enough to run Teams/Zoom/Word etc"?

When my main laptop packed up and I had to make do with a spare I found that despite supporting some of the common video chat options, Teams [in the browser, necessarily] refused to do something other than only provide the chat window, and if it had an explanation as to why I couldn't see how to get it to show me.

At this point a barrage of "it's not us, it's you" and "you need to get something better" starts without anybody being willing and/or able to go into useful specifics. I ended up chasing a machine I could borrow to give me a reasonable amount of time to look into whether reinstalling might suffice over the present risk the available replacements might arrive late or be equally unsuitable :/

UK's National Rail backs down from greyscale website tribute to Prince Phil after visually impaired users complain

William Towle

Re: Optically challenged

> At the risk of appearing to be a bit of a smug git, my Network Railcard (30% off off-peak tickets) expired in February 2020 year, and I decided not to renew it until the Covid-19 pandemic is over, at least within the UK.

For everyone else with season tickets there was the opportunity to sell the unused portion back. And likewise for tickets sold for journeys planned at Christmas.

For the journeys-to-work ticket I got posted a cheque rather than a bank transfer -"necessary because of [incomplete records of the original transaction on their side]" apparently (ffswut?! -->)- but compensation happened.

Whatever "fully remote work with some office visits required" turns out to mean could have an interesting effect on what happens next...

How to ensure your tech predictions catch on in a flash? Do the mash

William Towle

> if you don't mash things up in the right way, you'll get the future wrong.


"They eat a great many of these. They peel them with their metal knives, boil them for twenty of their minutes ... then they smash them all to bits. They are clearly a most primitive people, ha ha ha [ROFL]"


This developer created the fake programming language MOVA to catch out naughty recruiters, résumé padders

William Towle

Re: Not for recruiters?

> How about HR departments who insist on CVs being in Word .DOC form? Yeah, the ones recruiting Linux kernel and driver developers. (Made me wonder if they demanded CVs for Access DBAs in Latex)

Nod (heh!)

After a short period at University when my CV was an Irix Showcase document (as my final year project report had been) I switched to .tex, with recruiters getting told "it's not in Word; you can have a PDF or other intermediate format that Word can load". This tends to get the PDF accepted in general, but on one occasion I gave in and sent HTML and advised "take your pick".

Despite my using a standard template and therefore getting the default layout etc, this year somebody noticed "a problem with the fonts" and indicated the line with the "LaTeX" glyph on it. I had to point out this was "as intended, it's a graphic of the package's logo!"

(...I too get jobs related to technologies only mentioned in passing. As I replied to one such recruiter, "if I'm a good fit I assume there are related technologies I score well on; please feel free to call for a chat later today". I assume that's the point they read my CV, as I heard nothing further)

William Towle

Re: Moronic job adverts

> It's also amusing when the recruiter clearly has so little understanding that they can't even copy the acronyms correctly. Another advert I saw recently was looking for a database expert with, presumably, "oualifications" in SOL and LINO to SOL.

I'm seeing a lot of "C Developer" headlines that turn out to be "C .Net" past the "read more" bit of the description, and other apparent confusion between C/C++/C# and between various eras of Java. Database and data entry problems are also evident - markup that hasn't been removed; an errant "true" in summaries; another site had "null" in place of a job description. On one site specifying "software engineer" returns results including "civil engineer" where the description has "software" in it somewhere.

In yet another a pay rate specified by the day but marked up as "per annum" made me think "can I choose the day I work? February 29th perhaps?"...

Bill Gates on climate change: Planting trees is not the answer, emissions need to be zeroed out to avoid disaster

William Towle

Re: Yeah, sure, right.

> The other reason I would listen to Bill Gates on these topics is that he has spent years employing and talking to experts in these fields.


In the book* he makes a point of noting that people he's spoken to include the smallholders likely to be affected as much as the subject matter experts.

It also says his solution (possibly more "what to avoid" than "what to do") requires unblocking the various attempts at innovation taking place now so that we aren't sinking costs into the alternative technologies that represent an improvement on now but don't aid longer term goals.

Frightening indeed :/

* disclosure: as abridged for the R4 radio serialisation as linked in other post

(...thinks: fairly sure I heard the title misread on The News Quiz...)

William Towle

Looking forward to...

Having caught BG on radio recently (Inside Science, or possibly How to Vaccinate the World) I am looking forward to this week's serialisation of HTAaCD.

It's at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000s7ly (in abridged form, read by William Hope)

Want your broadband fixed? Best write to your MP, UK's Zen Internet tells customer

William Towle

Re: Nope.

> Orange Internet (as it was back then) tried a similar stunt, only the court paper work got them to fix the issue and also compensate for the losses..and got me out of the contract.

As a general rule I'd say I'm calm however I am particularly annoyed with TPE, whose repeated attempts to compensate me by as small an amount as they can get away with led to multiple appeals to their customer services and two to the regulator for each of the rather more significant government-mandated poor service payouts, where they tried it on again. For the first, a threat of regulator involvement got "go on then" for a response, which I forwarded with some glee; for the second I took the opportunity to mention not getting the full amount previously, and ended up netting the difference in addition plus a (little) bit for wasted time.

I'm also annoyed with CrossCountry, who failed to respond to a fault report related to a Christmas ticket booking I was unable to complete online. Despite promising to look into it when prompted, they then did nothing for a month before noting "it's too late now". The ombudsman said I've a case there too, but unless there's compensation available for wasted time (which I didn't find clear) I'm not sure what I get out of pursuing it... :(

Facebook bans sharing of news in Australia – starting now – rather than submit to pay-for-news-plan

William Towle

Re: Facebook's implementation of its ban has been revealed as ham-fisted

> while I prefer malice, I suspect incompetence

Possibly, if https://twitter.com/socialistdogmom/status/1362190342569799688?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw is anything to go by...

// s/book/palm/ :) -->

Death Becomes It: Who put the Blue in the Blue Screen of Death?

William Towle

> Clicking on the "Cancel" button brings up two choices: "Continue", which cancels, and "Cancel", which continues

Heh! :)

Having previously done maintenance work on EchoStar set top boxes I encountered the mandate that no dialog box should have only two buttons, apparently so it stopped being confusing which the select* button on the remote corresponded to.

This led to some interesting "Yes"/"No"/"Cancel" (and similar) situations where "...er, aren't two of those the same?" applied.

* I don't recall the label on it ... *examines VM's TiVo remote* "OK" could have been *very* confusing.

Linux maintainer says long-term support for 5.10 will stay at two years unless biz world steps up and actually uses it

William Towle

Re: Not a company but as an end-user...

> why should I bother with something that won't get supported in 2 years? And no, 2 years isn't "long term", regardless of the sophistry used to argue that it is. I understand that an EOL date can change, but I don't really expect it to, and my planning will be based on the current EOL date.

There seems to be a blurred line between Canonical's support for its distro and the support GKH wants for the mainline kernel offshoots (and who he expects it from) here.

The poster writes with specific regard to the kernel.org announcement having a two-year EOL statement for the 5.10 kernel at time of writing. The point he raises is that it doesn't also say "this could become longer" at the page the article quotes him as citing. Like myself he may have not found it elsewhere in a quick search either.

As a distribution end user, you need not worry so greatly: if Canonical adopt kernel 5.10 for the next Ubuntu LTS release, GKH will get the help he needs to change the lifespan announced at kernel.org from them, and similarly Ubuntu will continue to offer the lifespans you're used to enjoying; everybody wins. If a more preferable alternative turns up or 5.10 itself doesn't permit a similar promise* it will get avoided, and you still win.

Canonical may have statements elsewhere that elaborate; I personally see no need for end users to worry unduly over the above.

* on a related note it's already possible that 5.11 could be the stable kernel that ends up in Ubuntu 21.04 according to https://www.debugpoint.com/2020/11/ubuntu-21-04-features/

Reg reader's XXXbox oddity: The BBC4 topless thumbnail trauma whodunnit

William Towle
Paris Hilton

Re: "Sweaty masses"

> Depending on which browser you're using, words like "naked", "nude", and "xxx" may trigger your corporate extension.

We had this at $PREVIOUS_EMPLOYER after one unthinking romantic wanted to send three kisses (kiss-times-ten if you're inclined to translate it that way) to his fiancee [or possibly vice versa] *chuckle*

// Paris: sees quote, thinks "is that what we're calling them now?" -->

You can drive a car with your feet, you can operate a sewing machine with your feet. Same goes for computers obviously

William Towle
Paris Hilton

> "Mouse Balls" was written as a joke field service memo by a FSE at IBM Boca[...]

That, and the quality of translation was often so bad we concluded manuals must have gone back and forth through an automated system until the result no longer changed (not that failure to spot "the translation service is not currently available, please try again later" came back is any more helpful in these modern times...)

I had one (possibly TrueMouse - don't quote me, the paper copy got lost and the floppy in the box is a 5in one, so I can't confirm easily) where the guide suggested "the speed of your balls can be adjusted for comfort".

(now: *sigh*; then: *fnar*)

That's it. It's over. It's really over. From today, Adobe Flash Player no longer works. We're free. We can just leave

William Towle

Re: So long and thanks for all the Flash!


I noticed this through seriously enjoying an online version of xkcd's Hell Tetris (ref https://xkcd.com/724/ - strangely calming once you've got the knack and if you're annoyed at it you can just smash the bricks around instead!...)

The proposed resolution for Chrome users seems to be the SuperNova extension, but on Chromium the flash interstitial depicted here becomes an alternative "we recommend SuperNova" one which at present reappears no matter how many times you (re)configure the plugin, click the widget, insist flash runs just this once, and reload the page etc.

Fortunately I haven't ever needed it for anything serious.

Cats: Not a fan favourite when the critters are draped around an office packed with tech

William Towle

Re: Dead mouse

> Cats don't always get their wicked way with bugs bunny.

Nod. Out first generation "rabbit run" summer hutch was a rectangular affair which local cats would sit on top of until enough of their tails poked through the section with chicken wire walls to get bitten at. None of them came near when we put a portable fence around it and let the rabbit out (although with the rabbit that found it could leap the fence with ease we daren't wander far...)

When the time came to make a replacement run we did it with sloping sides and no longer had a spectacle to enjoy :/

You're going to need to unwrap and rewrap those Pi-400 holiday gifts. There's a new Raspberry Pi OS Update

William Towle

> Why is it a pipe dream? I use it daily and without missing a beat.

Not so lucky here.

Having received invitations to a number of calls recently, my experience is Meet and Teams can both be temperamental, but thus far I'm persuaded towards thinking the Stretch laptop I keep for managing backups and other emergencies is better for keeping Teams happy than my development laptop with Buster on it, whereas Meet is agnostic to hardware/OS but struggles more with the connection quality[/ies].

And the best experience award goes to ... neither of the above - it's the potential new employer with the in-house shared whiteboard app and PBX dialed out to my mobile on speakerphone.


Netflix chooses its own judgment in 'Bandersnatch' case: Settle and make the nasty lawsuit go away

William Towle

Re: Oh how I loved them as a kid

> I'm sat here with the 25th Anniversary Edition in front of me. The publishing details claim it was first published in 1982

Nod, and apparently the series went on to sell 17 million copies in 30 different languages.

Recent Archive on 4 broadcast refers, at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b071h083

(Thanks for the reminder, I needed an excuse to revisit the page...)

For every disastrous rebrand, there is an IT person trying to steer away from the precipice

William Towle


Nod, I did and I did.

I was looking forward to "Hush" in particular, where Buffy has to mime "can we kill them with stakes?"

Call me a niche target market if you like but an opportunity to plot twist the punchline into shaking a fist full of coffee beans was missed.

It's always DNS, especially when a sysadmin makes a hash of their semicolons

William Towle

Re: Anyone who ever dabbles in vi

> If it's driving you too batty, :set noerrorbells.

Useful that you can, but I like the error bell (as opposed to the visual equivalent I saw some people favour).

In a lab full of newbies you can't turn off the other people's beeps, of course. I did find out you could change the pitch, and did so to make my warnings (from whatever source) stand out to me that way.

William Towle

Re: Anyone who ever dabbles in vi

It's worth learning basic use of the common options - unfortunately some editors that "just work" in /that/ way don't offer robust crash recovery (TBF I can drive nano if I have to and I'm not aware of scare stories with it, but there are definitely others).

I see http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/~matloff/UnixAndC/Editors/ViIntro.html recommends 'ZZ' here, which I was warned isn't good to teach newbies as it invites ^Z^Z by mistake, which risks giving the impression of having worked but without having actually exited *or* saved. Chaos also ensues :/

...I was pointed at a 'learn' tutorial and produced a "concepts and controls" crib sheet for friends at least once. Top tip probably "don't think of Esc as 'enters command mode', think 'Esc ends an edit'" ["how do you know you're in a lab full of unix newbies? *beep* *beep* *beep*]

Compsci guru wants 'right to be forgotten' for old email, urges Google and friends to expire, reveal crypto-keys

William Towle
Paris Hilton

Re: you are just an old git

It's a perfectly cromulent word.

I for one am *absolutely certain* I don't want to get "crimed on".

Solving a big, yellow IT problem: If it's not wearing hi-vis, I don't trust it

William Towle
Thumb Up

Re: Was it Diggerland?


I learned of the West Yorkshire Diggerland through our options for a work outing day (which I picked as was covered by the same ticket as got me to the station en route to work in the opposite direction - a journey work still expected me to take nevertheless, but that's another story).

"If it's little more than a fun fair that just happens to have 'JCB' written on the rides it's okay for an afternoon", I reasoned. Turned out it was more :)

Able to make my own way back home without the communal minibus, I ended up happily staying longer than everyone else.

After Cummings' Barnard Castle trip, cheeky Britons started using the word 'vision' in their passwords

William Towle

Re: Just wondering..

> "handsfacespace"

My internal monologue responded to these adverts with "bass in the place!" and imaginary rave-style handwaving ... and shortly afterwards "The Skewer"* put samples of the advert over a drum'n'bass backing :)

* one of the later episodes at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000czyb

// raises virtual pint to John Holmes -->

Internet Archive's way cool Wayback Machine gets way more websites in Cloudflare fail-over pact

William Towle

Re: Wayback Machine who cares

> People cringe when they remember the animated GIFs and banners proclaiming 'this page is under construction' and several logos for the browsers your site works best in. I miss it.

Likewise. As a Facebook refusenik to this day I actively maintained an Angelfire site for years, and mentioned writing the site generation scripts for it in on my CV. Some of my less-publicised efforts were even spidered by web.archive.org (surprisingly in some cases).

I have since digressed into LinkedIn for a professional homepage; wordpress.com for a blog (replacing slashdot's journal); and github for code uploads (replacing freshmeat+AF), though I note that the Angelfire pages are still live and modifiable. I'm fairly sure I hadn't come anywhere near the Angelfire storage limit, there's only just enough to keep the pages as-is now - so they're still there, albeit with the obligatory "now elsewhere" links where applicable of course...



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