Need to dig out my t-shirt.
136 posts • joined 31 Mar 2011
I remember a period when I was on pain medication for my bad back. It wasn't anything really strong; just stronger than over-the-counter stuff.
I was a programming god. I could bash out elegant code that worked flawlessly. It seemed to release the imagination and damp down the self doubt.
The dosage was critical, though. To little and I was just my normal level of day to day idiot. Too much and I would turn out a really special class of gibberish.
I remember seeing the error message "Wank" pop up on a customer site.
The post mortem revealed that we were using a customisation tool that insisted on an error message for all conditions, even those that could not throw errors.
At some point someone threw together some test customisation for a purely internal error test, was sick of this requirement and put rude words into all the unused error fields.
Someone else picked up the customisation, tweaked it, didn't notice the rude words, and deployed it on site.
The first time that I saw the BSOD screensaver was on the Microsoft NT 4 roadshow. The two Microsoft guys were doing a demo of the new NT 4 using a massive projector screen (it was in a cinema IIRC) when it BSOD'd on a screen 20ft high.
Everyone laughed then the Microsoft guys grinned and moved the mouse and NT sprang back into life. They got a round of applause.
We were installing computer kit in a bank in sub Saharan Africa and training staff. A data centre had already been built and the servers installed by the banks own staff.
One of the banks head honchos decided that the plastering in the server room wasn't up to scratch and the walls weren't quite the right shade of beige. So the bank facilities proceeded to sand the walls of the server room flat, replaster them and repaint them with the servers running.
We told them a few times that it wasn't a good idea, but the bank had screwed us about so badly that we were past caring so we didn't push it. As long as the kit lasted until our bit of the install and training was done we didn't care. I don't think that the servers lasted much longer.
As someone who has written both firmware and software for cheque processing machines, I can advise that the magnetic properties of the ink were for reading reliability rather than for fraud prevention.
And the back room staff that did data entry and correction were paid by throughput rather than fraud detection so they'd just enter the data manually if it were to fail to read; there was no incentive for data entry staff to spot fraud.
A lot of places wouldn't even check signatures; there was little incentive to even do that until a customer complained whereupon the returns process would unravel the payments until it hit the initial acceptor of the cheque, who was then supposed to track down the writer of the cheque and get their money back. Good luck with that.
To commit cheque fraud the cheques only needed to be good enough to fool the retailer; hence not very good.
So the person out of pocket would be the account holder unless they noticed the fraud, then the retailer. There was little incentive for any bank to spot fraud. The only limited protection for the retailer was if a cheque guarantee card was also presented (remember them)?
This sort of thing is inevitable.
Companies have to bid on more contacts than they are capable of fulfilling under the assumption that not all the bids will be successful. Companies can't afford to have staff sitting idle on the off chance that they will win a contract.
But sometimes they win more contacts than expected. They can't back out so the staff just have to cope.
Well exactly. The narrative is that he's black but the truth is that he's pretty light. AOC is basically as white as me; the features that make her look Hispanic are pretty slight and are gone in the pixellated photos.
The real story here is that some people just want to make everything about race.
My wife and all her colleagues are working from home on company PCs. They are forbidden to copy or mail work to their home PCs for security reasons. Fair enough. However the industry requires hard copies of briefing sheets and the like which have to be signed on site. Pretty much the only way to get the prints is to use their own home printers. Cute wholesale violations of security rules. While it could be argued that the site procedures should be changed and dragged into the 21st century, there are legal implications, and short term the only way to get around this will be to issue all employees with a printer and a few reams of paper.
I read a very good analysis of the tesla accident where the car ploughed into the side of the truck.
The explanation, as far as I remember, was that when a human encounters a novel situation they will take care, slow down, be suspicious, whatever. Whereas an ai only has it's training data. So it will always just pick the best fit from that data.
I'm willing to bet that the training data has no images of trucks on their sides. So the ai's best fit was an overpass or something that it had seen before. Bang.
When I was at Newcastle in first year they taught us in Algol W. In second year they decided that Pascal was now the tits and we all had to use that instead. Everybody just kept writing their programs in Algol and fixed the syntax errors.
That was possible in the second year as we had data entry terminals, unlike in the first year when we had fucking awful punch card data entry :-|
> Afterwards people were saying, "Paris, how lucky you are!" Business travel ain't glamorous.
One place where I worked we engineers had to travel a lot - it was absolutely hellish. Long hours, travelling cattle class, getting berated by customers, plus the inevitable extension to the trip length by at least a week. Totally shit. But nobody back home would believe it. Including the top management and the admin staff. They assumed that it was a paid holiday with a little light work on the side.
Expenses worked by getting an advance in travellers cheques and cash and interminable form filling on return. There was a big problem with engineers not having time / inclination to do the admin on return, so there was always a backlog of expenses to fill in.
The management / admin came up with a brilliant plan to clear the backlog of expenses. They announced that no trip would be approved for an engineer if that engineer had not done all their previous expenses.
The inevitable happened. Not one engineer in the company filled in an expenses form. Not one. Business trips for engineers came to a dead halt. Not a single customer visit happened for a couple of months. Management and admin were baffled; they could not understand why their cunning plan failed.
I was at school when the first series was broadcast. The trailers caused a buzz at school and people listened to it that had never previously even heard of radio 4.
I was at Newcastle university when series 2 was broadcast. The only place in the halls of residence that we could get a good signal to listen to it was in one corner of the library of Havelock hall, so every week we had to smuggle a ghetto blaster in and surreptitiously record it. As it was in the library we couldn't listen to it real time so we had to take the tapes back to our rooms to listen to it after it was finished. I'd forgotten all about that till just now....
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