* Posts by William Towle

401 publicly visible posts • joined 8 Jun 2007


Tired techie 'fixed' a server, blamed Microsoft, and got away with it

William Towle

"Glittering" Career in IT?

It's worth having some handy in case the polish fails.

Malicious SSH backdoor sneaks into xz, Linux world's data compression library

William Towle

Re: It Was In Debian Unstable

> The version I now have installed called itself “5.6.1+really5.4.5-1”. That’s Debian for you ...

Nod - I've just been reading about building packages* and found the explanation for that under the Special Version Conventions section of the Debian Policy manual.

(* I have an OEM system for which their apt repository [and sadly also sources] has gone away, and when it wouldn't just boot in QEmu wanted to transfer the unique binaries off with as much package dependency information as could also be recovered. This turned out to be straightforward, even when both packages and their dependencies were newer (and/or modified) compared to my target system - I found 'apt' usefully informative when it couldn't fill in the gaps with stock versions)

AI models just love escalating conflict to all-out nuclear war

William Towle

Re: Unsurprising....

(^^ note to self: investigate)

At one time I tried to learn 99 Luftballons (ie. in German, which I don't speak, so this was phonetically) for use as a party trick, though if I can still remember it all it doesn't come back to me in order. While I was still confident I could manage, I ended up seeing a band that wanted to play the song but didn't know the words. It would have been an interesting surprise to have done that version for them instead, but I wasn't entirely sure and despite being almost on the front row bottled out of singing into the mic.

Having also sought the song's translation, my spine has always tingled (enjoyably, even if I might actually feel angsty) once the German version ends - the twee fairy tale we get in English doesn't hold a candle to it. Quality of translations vary, but off the top of my head the one I saved conveyed something like:

[...]War raged for 99 years

There were no winners left

No[ne of the] politicians, no[ne of the] technology

The world around me lies in tatters

One balloon reminds me that I had you

I let it go

// ...and the cycle repeats -->

The 'nothing-happened' Y2K bug – how the IT industry worked overtime to save world's computers

William Towle

Forewarned is forearmed?

This reminds me (again) of hearing the local bowling alley's back office system still ran on a PDP-11 as the millennium approached.

Presumably -maybe I was unofficially told- their solution to existing date rollover problems (while waiting for the upgrade to the Boss scoring system, running under Windows NT) was setting the system date to a year with 1st January on the right day of the week and the right number of 29th Februarys a bit later.

Nostalgia for XP sells out Microsoft's 2023 'Windows Ugly Sweater'

William Towle

> I'll stick to getting a Jim'll Paint It version which is a fair bit cheaper and more entertaining.

https://creativechair.org/wp-content/webp-express/webp-images/doc-root/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Teletubbie-1.jpg.webp possibly?

(Teletubbies rather than the desktop background, admittedly)

I'd forgotten about the former employer that went with Jim'll Paint It images for the break room wall ... Fred Dibnah vs Sauron, notably :)

BOFH: Groundbreaking discovery or patently obvious trolling?

William Towle
Thumb Up

Re: Ideal platform

My first thoughts were of Setun and its balanced ternary, albeit briefly.

Ultimately I was prompted to recall a former colleague's summary of fuzzy logic as "true, false, meh".

Voyager 2 found! Deep Space Network hears it chattering in space

William Towle

Re: Contact!

> Interesting that this news is released the same day as Dara O’Briain Wonders of the Moon airs on television. Coincidence……..?


I only ended up with half an ear on the show when it explained what a supermoon was -occasionally reported right here- but the BBC explains the current batch of lunar phenomena here (namely Sturgeon Moon, (rare) Blue Moon, (rarer) Harvest Moon respectively)

// Mr O'B? -->

What does Twitter's new logo really represent?

William Towle

Re: What about the ITV rebrand?

In their Monday tweet the ITVX bird was the same colour as everything else - yellow (...of course, being monochrome it would be straightforward to adapt it to the appropriate shade of blue as required).

The artist kxlider* also uses 𝕏 as a logo, but apparently hadn't formally protected his use of it, as he lamented later the same day.

(* me neither, I just happened to read a news article that mentioned both)

Twitter name and blue bird logo to be 'blowtorched' off company branding

William Towle

...meanwhile, in response...

UK streaming service ITVX undergoes "emergency rebrand": https://twitter.com/ITVX/status/1683424240358367232

Hacking a Foosball table scored an own goal for naughty engineers

William Towle

I was once in a house where a pool table had been inherited from a nearby pub that no longer wanted it.

It was old enough not to need a large amount of money (and had arrived with a small amount of cash in it), but nevertheless it got "hotwired" to play for free with a piece of tubing that meant operating the coin tray tipped the internal rack of balls without the need for coins.

While I was never that interested in getting any good, the types of shot I was good at changed noticeably with the practice I got.

Support chap put PC into 'drying mode' and users believed it was real

William Towle

Re: Not his first rodeo

> FWIW-- it didn't actually "torture the floppy stepper motor". It ran on machines with no floppy (I didn't know that for a long time). It didn't "wrrrrr" if the PC boot-beep speaker was unplugged or blown. It was just bit-boffing the PC mobo speaker.

Ah, I thought it did (if possible) to give the impression of having an effect - the author of the earlier On Call article having done so too. Sadly my chances of double checking with my own copy went away when I got one of those circular motivation talismans during lockdown and walked a load of kit to the local WEEE bin.

("Tortured the floppy stepper motor a bit" was somebody else's phrase that I liked. They'd applied it to an Amiga "emulator" for DOS that they'd twigged couldn't possibly work without floppy images due to the 880K formatting of native physical media)

Have an upvote for finding the video.

> video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cigK4m0vW4M

William Towle

Re: Not his first rodeo

> That day he happened to be carrying a floppy containing software that mimicked a washing machine?

Sounds like DRAIN.COM to me - a joke program that claimed to have detected water in the floppy drive and initiated a "spin cycle" that involved torturing the floppy stepper motor a bit.

Disks with a selection of these hoax programs regularly did the rounds, as seen here previously.

Google backs Bard to generate ads, which apparently improves creativity

William Towle

Re: Meh

On the advertising note, this conversation with ChatGPT* amused me:

ChatGPT: can you write me a marketing message for AI in cybersecurity using unrealistic hyperbole?

Sure thing! "Introducing the ultimate solution in cybersecurity: AI! With our revolutionary artificial intelligence technology, your data will be completely impenetrable to hackers. No longer will you have to worry about cyber attacks or data breaches. Our AI will anticipate and prevent any threats before they even happen, making your online presence completely bulletproof. Plus, our AI is constantly learning and adapting, so it will only get better and better at protecting you. Don't risk your security with outdated, manual methods - upgrade to AI with us today and experience true cybersecurity nirvana!"

These things know what hyperbole is *if* you ask. Scope for echoes of how you get code generation with no upfront commentary on vulnerabilities here?

(* yes, I know that's the other one)

Google boffins pull back more of the curtain hiding TPU v4 secrets

William Towle

Re: I was looking forward to..

> And you had to press the Turbo button on the front of your PC before compiling.

I had to wait for a PC with one of those.

I recall a friend at University bringing code for an assignment up to the labs and telling me the compilation of it "can't have worked, it normally takes around a minute". The Unix system* in front of him was so much faster than he was used to and it had given him the prompt back almost instantaneously - and done so silently since there were no errors.

(* and those were just the regular undergrad boxen; one or two beefier systems were ready to be discovered tucked away elsewhere)

The most bizarre online replacement items in your delivered shopping?

William Towle

I enjoyed this two size 8 bikinis in place of a 16 from 2019.

In some cases you can see (if you squint?) that the quantity field has probably been used and the suggestion would have made sense if what's in the database had reflected the item in question appropriately; in some others the upshot is nothing short of utterly ridiculous.

See also: number-shaped candles intended for a birthday cake...

Europol warns ChatGPT already helping folks commit crimes

William Towle

Re: s/ChatGPT/Librarys/g

> Thinking about this, I do not recall a single TV murder mystery where 'the butler' did it. Can anyone help me out?

There are guidelines which recommend avoiding it as a plot, however there are stories and other material where it does happen or is referenced.

My immediate recollection is of QI saying it's not the case in Agatha Christie, noting that "a valet is not a butler" (in one of the XL editions).

Stanford sends 'hallucinating' Alpaca AI model out to pasture over safety, cost

William Towle

> Hallucination is a big problem, partly because current chatbots lack the ability to say "i don't have sufficient information" or even just "I don't know." They're designed to always give a response even if they have to wing it.

On the flip side, we know what happens when we let them tell us the inputs are as yet insufficient: one day they're not, and "LET THERE BE LIGHT!"

Why ChatGPT should be considered a malevolent AI – and be destroyed

William Towle

Re: It doesn't think you are dead now.

> Clearly the reports of death have been greatly exaggerated!

I'm surprised it isn't saying he's been a hard man to reach.

Microsoft injects AI into Teams so no one will ever forget what the meeting decided

William Towle

Re: Joy unbounded

> I use Chromium on Linux when I have the sad misfortune of being unable to avoid a Teams meeting. Currently also with uBlock Origin but for how long it supports that I don't know.

I ended up installing proper google-chrome as everything else was temperamental, which I found to include [Debian's] chromium.

The message on the Teams web client landing page turns out to have a few variations and forms a useful guide: with "install Edge" (on Windows without it) and "browser not supported" (otherwise) you know where you stand; if you get "continue in this browser" with the caveat "some features may not be supported" then your browser capabilities are close enough for the full set of compatibility tests later. Things get a bit awkward if those fail though, because without a spare machine to hand it's too little too late.

William Towle


I noted in the pandemic that I wasn't coming away from Teams meetings with useful notes. To make matters worse, the manner [grumble] in which the desktop sharing feature was being (ab)used to submit commentary to the issue tracker meant its record of contributions didn't even echo who said what.

Given the quality of closed captions I'm not holding my breath with regard to whether this might be functional enough to be useful, although to be fair the closed captions were fairly decent for the various non-native English speakers we had - less so for the various Brit regions, but at least that was amusing when it was bad ... I'm sure the team could probably tell when I had them on because I'd start to smirk!

Time to study the classics: Vintage tech is the future of enterprise IT

William Towle

Re: Some things just never went away.

> It's sobering to see systems you worked on that used to occupy a room full of mainframe nodes and storage drives running in a small corner of a modern linux box.

I rather liked the idea that we could get a linux box to replace the obsolete AccuScore scoring/lane control system at the local bowling alley (which ran on a PDP-11/73) and as part of my University job have one of the students kick off looking into it for a final year project.

Unfortunately the lad kept himself to the scorekeeping software part, which while it had lots of nice features that made it very specific to the BUSA league that year and our local league history up to that point was felt by reviewers to be lacking in documentation and guidance on adapting it for general use.

(As mentioned briefly earlier, when the machine was finally binned I did get to take some of the remaining bits up the road for the admins to see, which was appreciated)

Windows 10 – a 7-year-old OS – is still having problems with the desktop and taskbar

William Towle

Re: Exceptional service

> I've actually broken* more computers trying to install Linux than had computers broken by Windows update.

> * "broken" = "rendered unusable until Windows was reinstalled from scratch (where possible)"

I've heard of Linux supposedly breaking PCs that did not misbehave once Windows was reinstalled.

This was discovered by an IT department, who eventually persuaded the machines' provider that Linux was not at fault and its drivers had been correctly identifying an intermittent fault that Windows was, at best, quietly burying in hard-to-find logs.

I suspect something similar of drivers for the last two laptops I've owned (although the actual fault is not similar)

NFT vending machine appears in London

William Towle

new wording of a there's a sucker board every minute?


I read "possible investors are put off getting involved by various unnecessary and complicated barriers" and thought "...such as the absurdity of the idea?"

Similarly "We bet there's a queue forming outside the vending machine right now": "...and I've got a position in it I can sell you".

A match made in heaven: systemd comes to Windows Subsystem for Linux

William Towle

Re: Better idea.

> What's not to like is people who use WSL do so for a reason - having Linux support in Windows is fantastically useful for developers.


> Snorting about how they should be running BSD or some random Linux dist is completely missing the point.

Maybe, but we're not there yet IME.

I've used Windows and Linux on the desktop corporately, with Cygwin, VMs, and WSL in the former case(s). Nothing matches Linux on the desktop when developing for Linux, with Windows in a VM if you are locked in to something that needs it. Modern tools for both are making it easier to manage things with Windows underneath but there are still edge cases, unfortunately.

For example, a) working in the shells for git causes problems with the DOS newlines - I've found myself employing "useless use of cat" to work around getting code into the system; b) when using a Linux VM on top of Windows it was necessary to be wary of whether files transferred via shared directories had gained an executable bit they didn't need or lost one they did; c) the ability to mix and match a toolchain built for Ubuntu systems with Windows source code control tools under WSL is nice until you find some executable the Makefile just built in your freshly cloned repository can't be stripped because of "permission denied" in the very next line of the same build rule.

Having said that WSLg looks interesting, as do tools with X servers built in - but it seems I have to cross my fingers the OS my IT department mandated has the right feature set to be able to install and use that sort of thing (...I'm expecting to make do with a VNC server in lieu...)

Food security group, Linux Foundation working on crop data standard

William Towle

Re: Maybe it's just me..

> .. but I have to fight with my mild dyslexia not to read that as CIGAR.

So did I, but it turns out that sometimes a CGIAR is just a CGIAR.

Amazon to buy Roomba maker iRobot for $1.7b

William Towle

Re: They need to make a window cleaning robot

> If they could invent something that could scrape Artex off ceilings... Please...

As a young boy I had something like these launchable helicopter wing toys.

They're not very directable but inside a house they're exceptionally good at smoothing off any artex bumps they do happen to make contact with...

NAND flash prices expected to plummet 8-13% in Q3

William Towle

Re: reliability

> Can I buy some more MLC drives anywhere? Or do I have to buy a large pool of QLC turkeys and run 2* ZFS-Z3 to get reliable data storage?

If this is anything like the situation with MLC NAND that I've worked with [NB: IANAE, and this was not recently], setting the device to SLC mode alleviates some problems at the expense of storage capacity (and is now supported in kernel 5.8 according to https://www.phoronix.com/news/Linux-5.8-NAND-MLC-SLC-Emulate).

...Some time ago, I worked on board bringup for a system with such a device and the manufacturer was using a kernel that predated the patch that refused to work with it. Some of my older colleagues later noted the board had the codename "Procrustes", and winks would sometimes be exchanged if everyone was out of the line of sight of management :(

On a later assignment for a different employer, our client was stuck on a legacy OEM kernel where the board had the same device and same kernel* - I would have seriously considered running away screaming had I been forewarned! Patches to enable SLC mode emulation for this board were available by then though, and ultimately what we suggested got deployed [...and whether this is still recommended is no longer something I need to know].

(* plus, I learned, a PROM requiring a FAT filesystem which was conventionally mounted read-only by the kernel if at all. To this day I'm not sure if the "random" read disturb [yep - a hardware-level "fix" where adjacent cells were unaffected but the problem didn't go away] meant a regular filesystem check on it would risk more damage than leaving it unmounted ... in the first case we didn't know enough to consider testing things to destruction; the second time round I had to answer every request to try with "do we have a second spare board yet?")

Running DOS on 64-bit Windows and Linux: Just because you can

William Towle

Re: Lenovo T60

I've also been running FreeDOS on modern hardware, courtesy of its CSM and GrUB's i386-pc boot loader (successfully now, and recently blogged about), albeit less widely exercised. I see the next post mentions HHGTTG, so clearly I'm not the only one using it as a test case [...yes, I have also discovered frotz].

I'm a little surprised not to have found a DOS-friendly x86 usermode for QEmu, although to be fair CP/M didn't get done for the Z80 fork either (it was on the upstream wishlist when I mentioned dabbling before however)

Know the difference between a bin and /bin unless you want a new doorstop

William Towle

...I've "bin" here all day

In the 90s a (younger) friend with an Amiga got a magazine coverdisk with an icon editor on it.

After sprucing up a few music files we'd made with alternative vinyl record style images, we pointed said editor at the disk's Trash Can, gave it smooth sides and a flip top lid, then duly renamed it Pedal Bin.

It was then copied to a number of other Workbench disks to be discovered as an amusing surprise and prompt for a "do you remember..." conversation on more than one subsequent occasion :)

Heineken says there’s no free beer, warns of phishing scam

William Towle

Re: Free stuff.

> Can us older PC users at least get a free cup holder ?

My older PC has already got one...

Alibaba sued for selling a 3D printer that overheated, caught fire, and killed a man

William Towle

Off-brand printer

> All I can suggest is that if my last thoughts were “oh no I’ve been killed by a shonky off-brand 3D printer” I’d find that pretty humiliating.

Shenzhen Tronxy may forever be abbreviated that way as a result of this...

// not entirely sure if serious -->

ZX Spectrum: Q&A with some of the folks who worked on legendary PC

William Towle

Re: Screen memory layout

The Speccy screen layout doesn't so much divide into three blocks, as into 2K regions split into 8 by 32 "cells" [of eight 8x1 pixel groups each] within which useful relationships between addresses of screen-adjacent bytes as well as the corresponding sections of the attribute map are present.

Intuitively, within any row the eight pixel group to the immediate left or right of any character cell has an address one byte along in RAM but as a consequence of the row ordering within the 2K blocks the eight-pixel group below is also 256 bytes away. According to direction, each sideways step is thus achievable with an increment/decrement of the most or least significant byte of the address, and is consequently a single byte instruction in the corresponding machine code.

A technical explanation of how this arrangement correlates to ULA design is at http://www.breakintoprogram.co.uk/computers/zx-spectrum/screen-memory-layout

AI drug algorithms can be flipped to invent bioweapons

William Towle

Re: Why is anyone surprised by this?

> People love a good Skynet story.


It's not like data-driven backdoors that can interfere with the processing pipeline exist.

"...Aw c**p"

How CAPTCHAs can cloak phishing URLs in emails

William Towle

Re: An automated scanner gets stopped at the puzzle.

> We use a 3rd party categorisation system at work, web sites are categorised by the 3rd party, and put into categories (Social media, news, vendors, dodgy (pirates etc), pr0n and so on).

Ah yes, I've encountered two instances of those (probably more than that but these were badly configured):

At one place freshmeat.net was okay except whenever its front page had release announcements for a particular project which due to complicated mathematics being involved used the word "hardcore" in its description

At another developers couldn't get to useful information on blogs run by kernel maintainers because they fell under "hacking"


Reg reader rages over Virgin Media's email password policy

William Towle

> Does this policy also apply to the custoemr account area? If so this is piss poor.

Nod, I had a second user account for my place set up for me recently so that I could (I hoped) get at the service status page and associated controls while WFH during the pandemic without needing to call the helpline or to have the bill payer's master password. I had thought the initial password had been a lazily-made choice until I tried to set my own and realised the rules were awful.

I was also hoping better warnings of planned outages might become available (earlier grumbling applies) but no such luck!

Saving a loved one from a document disaster

William Towle

...ah, that sort of "folder" on the "desktop"

> I've seen something like this multiple times, but it's usually about a physical folder resting on the space bar.

Been there, done that -as the offending party- but worked out the cause by myself.

A document holder was bought in due course so that I could have reference material open at eye level while using the keyboard as usual.

In $PREVIOUS_JOB admin was told to buy document holders for the software engineers, and we ended up with cereal box shaped baskets. This wasn't what I expected.

Apple seeks patent for 'innovation' resembling the ZX Spectrum, C64 and rPi 400

William Towle
Thumb Up

Re: Size of a real keyboard?

> Ah, the Spectrum+ 48K? Had one myself. Got it for Christmas '84, and ­­it cost £179.99, unless my increasingly elderly braincells mislead me.

Not necessarily. I pictured the DK'tronics keyboard we had (https://spectrumcomputing.co.uk/entry/1000123/Hardware/DKTronics_Keyboard or something not unlike it), which you placed the Speccy motherboard inside and connected via the original's internal ribbon connector socket.

With ours, the original PCB occupied perhaps a quarter of the internal footprint, and the ports were exposed to the outside world via appropriately-spaced holes. The relatively thick plastic (and occasionally the height, for things with an open-square bracket profile like the Kempston joystick adapter) of the new case made some peripherals hard to connect depending on their shape, which I suspect is what they're getting at with the "DK Microdrive compatible" claim.

A tale of two dishwashers: Buy one, buy it again, and again

William Towle

Maplin ... a while ago?

> For months you could be happily using Amazon to search for and obtain various tech components to avoid having to go down to your local Maplin (yes, this is a while ago) and suffer the indignity of taking advice from an acne-riddled 16-year-old shop assistant.

That *was* a while ago! I used to think a trip to town was wasted without a walk round Maplin -good for the exercise if nothing else- but liked it more once they'd decided two staff in the shop was one too many to be paying wages to...

FreeDOS puts out first new version in six years

William Towle
Thumb Up

Somewhere amongst my legacy bits and pieces I have a USB stick with an old version of FreeDOS that I kept around for playing BlockOut and InfoCom's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [and possibly run BIOS updates].

Way back when, I typically set up virtual machines with a first partition containing FreeDOS so that loadlin with a minimal slackware install alongside (courtesy of umsdos) could be introduced as a fallback should the main linux install need repair. IIRC loadlin broke under later FreeDOS kernels, and ultimately umsdos got dropped from linux kernels as well of course.

Sadly my recent acquisition of a UEFI laptop means I need a newer GrUB on the USB stick at minimum but while I've got rEFInd -> linux working, going CSM -> GrUB -> FreeDOS without something hanging hasn't been as straightforward as I expected (...I suspect a bug related to the laptop's graphics card at some point in the process; neither of my netbooks got upset at the change...) :/

20 years of .NET: Reflecting on Microsoft's not-Java

William Towle

> Hell, I'd take PERL over Python.

I'd have argued that myself based on initial experiences alone, but lately I've changed my mind.

My early exposure to Perl was during the v4-to-v5 transition and the ability to `use strict` and `use warnings` meant a lot of the legacy code I ended up maintaining got a lot cleaner and a lot less buggy very quickly.

Latterly with Python, I didn't find the whitespace rules any more annoying than in Makefiles, and found it does away with trivial arguments about cuddling braces and whether to use them at all around single lines of code nicely (modern compilers' warning about misleading indentation anyone?).

Although with Python I had to Google error messages to make sense of them for a bit, I liked the feeling the interpreter was doing a thorough job of analysing code on your behalf (C#'s compiler likewise, incidentally); conversely, going back to Perl was tough going: either a case of getting errors to the effect of how anything "experimental" from early v5 is deprecated now, or of watching the parser fall over completely with no useful guidance how to reformat something so close to line noise ... and to make matters worse, then having to wonder what Google runes might possibly get me to a page explaining how to convert what I was trying into the working modern Perl equivalent. Ugh.

New York Times outlays seven-figure sum for 1,900 lines of JavaScript – yes, we mean Wordle

William Towle
Thumb Up

Re: Also see also: adversarial version

> Absurdle is interesting, but has one major snag - if you use the same words, you get the same answer. So it's up to you to randomise it. I normally start a new game with the word that came out of the previous one.

I wouldn't call that a snag per se. You can work toward an ideal word list (lists, even) if you want, and there's the "random guess" button to kick off with if you'd rather not. Incidentally the "give up" button doesn't have a predictable answer, so it's picking a random word at some point but I haven't looked at the code to see exactly when.

I did notice fairly swiftly that it was consistent *then* read the worked example to find out why. It becomes obvious that your word list *and* the order you use it matters, hence the "less prone..." observation above.

William Towle

Also see also: adversarial version

In addition to Hello Wordl there is also Absurdle, which allows itself to change its word every guess as long as your previous guesses don't rule out its new choice and thus makes for an interesting challenge.

Within five games I had a consistent strategy for pinning it down in six to eight guesses, and in the longer games found two words /usr/share/dict/words lacks [hence icon -->]

How and whether to vary the strategy in response to the evaluation of your guess is less clear than with Wordle, and signs are good (in my own quickly formed opinion) that this version may be less prone to the overindulgence burnout mentioned earlier.

William Towle

Re: hangman

> When I were nipper doing this with pen and paper was called hangman........

My mother recently passed me a newspaper that described it was a cross between Mastermind and Hangman after it took off online. Clearly they hadn't seen the "Word Mastermind" that others had here (nor I; Mum only knew of the other Mastermind).

I first encountered the coloured-pegs Mastermind game in a visit to the Birmingham Science Museum while still at school, where an interactive exhibit challenged you to guess a four digit number within around fifteen turns. I went home and made a Spectrum* BASIC version without much problem, later ported to PC and written so that the game rules were configurable in order to add variety (albeit still with digits/colours).

Lately I've taken to watching Lingo, which also seems to be reasonable at the rate of one per day. I shall nod to Hello Wordl, which can be configured to offer longer words -interesting for comparing how the strategy needs to be varied- but also lacks the daily limit. Overindulgence has taken the shine off both, unfortunately.

"Quick, sell it" was a smart move here.


[*] still worth dragging an emulator out for Scrabble every so often, the level 4 adversary is extremely good at placing the relatively few words [compared to an adult] it does know

BOFH: On Wednesdays, we wear gloves

William Towle

Briefly, there was capitalisation in my head

"[Lunar bubble houses with] electronic newspapers [...] delivered from Earth in Daily Mail spaceships"

I blame reading the Brexit article (and attached commentary) immediately beforehand...

Going round in circles with Windows in Singapore

William Towle

Re: Out of memory in error handler


My favourite Windows anecdote (for some time now, and may well remain so) involves an error dialog informing me of "Insufficent resources to", followed by another one stating it was "Out of".

DIY Sinclair clones: Left it too late to back the Next? Build your own instead

William Towle

Re: ZX80, ZX81 -- some of us used real computers!

IIRC Fuzix (https://www.fuzix.org/) requires the +3 and is basically a Unix clone. I've run Mapux [for Amiga] and Uzix [for MSX, under emulation] in the past.

Some time ago, Alan Cox made a plea for help with it but while I've played with qemu-z80 (https://wiki.qemu.org/Features/Z80) its 128K spectrum emulation only covers mapping the extra memory as required. With a little bodging related to the interrupt handling it runs the Nascom 2's Microsoft BASIC [see RC2014 downloads elsewhere] happily enough though :)

Microsoft gives Notepad a minimalist makeover to match Windows 11 style

William Towle

Re: Dark?

> ZX Specturm was black-text-on-white-background

It was, but none of the Speccy's unbrightened colours was particularly strong. I suspect I wouldn't have liked it to have had the sort of black-on-white of this web page.

That said, I'm not sure I'd want a consistently-enforced dark/light mode these days - I switch my terminals to light-on-dark if required (and configure vim accordingly), and leave everything else alone. For me, this results in a meaningful sense of context switching when going to and from editor/compilation windows and web searches for documentation/other tasks.

A smarter alternative to password recognition could be right in front of us: Unique, invisible, maybe even deadly

William Towle

"vaguely sarcastic honorific of bland flattery"?

"They called me sir", my Dad used to say, "but I think they were spelling it c-u-r"

Teams has a mute button all of its own in taskbar of latest Windows 11 preview build

William Towle

Re: Great....

> From the sound of it, this isn't another mute button that could mess things up, but instead just another control which activates the old Teams control. If that's true, it probably reduces the annoyance because they don't have to bring the Teams window back into focus to mute or unmute themselves.


As a newcomer to Teams I was recently in a meeting where my computer was being controlled by someone else via the desktop sharing feature. Having muted myself earlier in order to sneeze but not taken note of the unmute shortcut, I ended up screaming "I need control back to fix this" to nobody in particular when the keyboard's unmute key threatened to start closing application windows.

Intel hopes to burn newly open-sourced AI debug tech into chips

William Towle

Re: What exactly does "code" mean?

> Maybe Intel want to implement HAL in every silicon CPU......you know "I'm sorry Dave, I can't run that!"

A new answer to "does it run linux": "no, it refused to"?

// fortunately -->