* Posts by My-Handle

457 posts • joined 20 May 2011


NASA warns Mars: We're about to laser your rocks and start stealing them

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Re: Stop attacking the Mysterons

Don't know what you're complaining about, you got to be indestructible over it.

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Re: Avoid ...

Right, that's me on the nostalgia train for the rest of the afternoon. That was one of my favourite childhood movies.

Thunderbirds Are Go - 1966 film, for anyone who missed the reference

Brain-computer interface researchers warn of a 'bleak' cyberpunk future – unless we tread carefully

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Re: Inner thoughts harvested for commercial exploitation

I had a similar opinion regarding the line "...type at the speed of thought".

My thoughts usually run along the lines of "Select the.. what?...yes, that thing... where value equals...wait, I need From...mm, lunch... yes, From that table... where... oh ffs, what were the columns called again...wow, I like her outfit..."

And usually these kind of thoughts occur extremely quickly, way below the level of even internal vocalisation. How my fingers know what to type is of constant amazement to me. And I didn't even type that last sentence in a linear order.

Windows 11 gets chatty as Teams integration turns up

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Re: I'm waiting with baited breath


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Microsoft, come here please. Just a short chat.

Your job is to make sure the computer runs. Simple, right? Run. The. Computer. No more, no less.

You want to develop extra bits of software for people, that's grand. But keep them separate from the OS. Regardless of what you think, not everyone is going to want everything you make. Stop forcing them to swallow it anyway.

Now get off my lawn!

[as a complete aside, I'm waiting with baited breath for the day where we get a borked sign with the ad overlayed with a Teams chat window as some poor sod tries to chat with a billboard]

Lawn care SWAT team subdues trigger-happy Texan... and other stories

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Re: Bloody hell, nobody told me the police would cut my lawn!

I know I'm probably being naive here, but the concept of being obliged to keep your own property to a standard set by other people under threat of police action is rather disconcerting to me.

I get that the neighbours won't like it if one property looks like it's bringing down the look of the area, but ultimately shouldn't it be down to the owner of the property to choose how he keeps it?

I let one of my lawns grow for months at a time, before eventually hiring a gardener to mow it regularly for me. Horses keep the other lawn (/paddock) down.

Our Friends Electric: A pair of alternative options for getting around town

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Re: I'd be much happier...

I was thinking the same thing. A brief look through their website and even the "all-weather" page doesn't show a fully enclosed cabin. It recommends wearing "all-weather" gear instead. Not really a goer for the Emerald Isle.

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I'd be much happier...

...just buying the Triggo. I live out in the sticks, so not many people to ride-share with, but most of my driving is just 10 miles to work and back. Give me a small, road-legal, weatherproof electric vehicle and that would fit my needs to a T.

319 terabits – great Scott! Boffins in Japan speed along information superhighway at new world record

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Get in line, some of us are still using tin cans and a bit of string over here*

*ok, 2Mbps. Slight hyperbole.

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I have no expertise here, so what follows is pure conjecture.

I would guess that you still get attenuation of one form or another. There is a chance that a photon may impact the side wall of the fibre and be absorbed, rather than reflected. Or even directly impacting one of the atomic nuclei that make up the fibre. I know it's a lot less than losses in an electrical cable, but I think it would still happen.

Happy 'Freedom Day': Stats suggest many in England don't want it or think it's a terrible idea

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Re: England != UK

In all fairness, as a current resident of NI I'm inclined to think that the NI government have a natural aversion to doing anything at all. Stormont was closed for years up to the pandemic. It took a global crisis to get them to get their act together and actually start doing something.

Impromptu game of Robot Wars sparks fire in warehouse at UK e-tailer Ocado

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I agree. If this had been a non-automated warehouse, a headline like "fire caused by three fork-lift drivers not looking where they were going" probably wouldn't even make the news.

I worked for a large food logistics company for a while. All their fork-lifts were battery powered, which meant that they had to be driven to a charging dock regularly. It wasn't an uncommon occurrence for a driver to slam into the charging station, wrecking the hardware and some of the dock's batteries, or even to try driving off while it was still hooked up. Either event would make the entire building shudder, and I can't think how fires weren't a more regular occurrence there.

BOFH: But soft! What light through yonder filing cabinet breaks?

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Re: Too close to the truth

My immediate manager, ostensibly in charge of the development of a stable of ecom websites, has about as much technical acumen as a wooden spoon. Even the simplest technical term thrown into a sentence has her saying things like "yes, that localhost thing will be perfect".

Generally speaking, I usually play too much of a straight bat to deliberately screw with her, but the impulse to break out the excuse calendar has been growing for quite a while.

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Well, the ghost facility shindig worked for them once. Why not again? I'm just surprised they're not stealing power from another building.

The lights go off, broadband drops out, the TV freezes … and nobody knows why (spooky music)

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I'm not lucky enough to be on fiber (I'm out in the sticks in Northern Ireland), but I took the time to construct a ward over the cable coming in to the house. The old double-square with a horseshoe, four-leaf clover, bird skull and a hair from the head of a virgin at the cardinal points works wonders. Only lost connection once in the last three or four years.

Also, I switched from BT to Zen a while ago. That might have had something to do with it as well.

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Re: Supply pipe location

I've had the pipe followed from the valve at the road. It runs down the road and branches off twice (once to the house at the top of the road, once to my house, then on to the next house). My branch then runs up one side of my house. There's separate feeds for my kitchen and a pair of outbuildings. No isolator valve anywhere.

Our local water authority is all kinds of useless. We had a lot of trouble even buying the place, because they couldn't make up their minds whether the septic tank discharged into a legally approved waterway or not. Yet they were in no kind of rush to actually send someone out to find out. We ended up having to work around it with the sellers, the bank and our solicitors because the WA were just perfectly happy to leave the situation stuck in limbo.

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Supply pipe location

I have a similar, yet opposite kind of problem. I know exactly where the supply pipe and cut-off valve is for my house. It's at the top of the road, and cuts off all three houses that it feeds. There is no individual valve for my property, and trust me I've looked. As have several plumbers.

I never thought about stopping paying my water bill. I mean, they wouldn't be able to cut me off without killing the water for my neighbours either side. But then I remember that I live in Northern Ireland, where water bills are rolled into the rates (council tax), so I don't actually have much of an option for not paying it.

UK's biggest trade union takes aim at Amazon over 'price gouging' allegations

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Re: No place for price gouging?

In all fairness, I did try a cheap desktop mike and my own set of headphones. It became very clear very quickly to my manager and colleagues that it was not a long-term solution.

Maybe it had something to do with me running an HP Proliant DL385 G7 server as my main desktop machine at home. That thing is quite... vocal :D

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Re: No place for price gouging?

Yep, we had a similar problem. When our users were sent away from the office, each needed a headset. Our company's stock disappeared in an hour, our normal supplier was out of stock, so departments were left to buy what they needed from retail. Except all the standard-quality headsets had also sold out across the board.

I was one of the last to leave the office and work from home. The only headset that my manager could get for me was a rather nice Corsair gaming headset :D

How many Brits have deleted life-saving track and trace app from their phones? No idea, junior minister tells MPs

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Irrespective of whether analytics data is being stored or not, I can appreciate why many people would want to uninstall the app.

A lot of companies don't have a sick pay scheme. A colleague I work with has been asked to self-isolate three times during the first half of the pandemic, on statutory sick pay each time. She admitted that she was one more self-isolation request away from going bankrupt.

Myself, statutory sick pay is something less than a fifth of what I earn. I have some savings, and could probably negotiate a mortgage holiday with my bank if I needed to, but it would only take a couple of isolation requests to cripple me.

Without some means of supporting isolating people at something close to their normal lifestyle, many of them will do the math and just not install (or uninstall) the app, choosing to take the risk instead. It is just the most pragmatic approach, on the individual level. Only at the society level does it become a terrible idea.

Microsoft solicits Clippy comeback – later reveals it had already decided to bring back the peppy paperclip

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Re: Up there with moving Outlook calendar buttons

Several years ago, I was working as a software developer for a large multi-national company. A project was spawned somewhere at mid-management level to overhaul a largely automated process and make it more manual (despite the opposite being done 2 or 3 years ago, saving the company hundreds of thousands of pounds in labour costs). The middle manager championing this change declared that "it was what the customer wanted".

I went straight for the throat. I asked if he'd done any customer surveys. He hadn't. I asked if he'd gone through the analytics data and found any trends. He hadn't. I asked if he'd spoken to any customers, or even to customer services who were in pretty close contact with customers. Of course, he hadn't. So I then asked, very forcefully, how he had come to the conclusion that this was what the customer wanted. It turned out that, it was just what he thought the customer wanted. As a point of note, the manager in question had something of a reputation for screwing up every project he touched, yet he still managed to stick around.

Though the project never made any more headway in the year or so before I left, it was still alive when I departed.

Report: 83% of UK software engineers suffer burnout, COVID-19 made it worse

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Re: Never ask a barber if you need a haircut.

That too.

Myself and my colleague do as much testing as we can on our work before and after it goes to production, but once we finish up the customer services supervisor is usually my first port of call. Officially to tell her that a new feature is now live (in case customer services get questions about it), but also to ask her to let me know asap if customers start reporting anything even slightly odd. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen.

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Re: Never ask a barber if you need a haircut.

"puts extra burdens on testers"

Don't forget, in many companies testers == developers.

This is the case for my current employer. And my previous employer, a national company with an IT team of between 20 and 30 devs / project managers, had only brought in their first tester a couple of months before I joined.

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Re: "the same old type of business calling themselves Agile"

"I code what needs to be coded in the order required to solve the problem at hand"

Same here. Our company has -no- formal software development processes. The line in the article that said something like "when management expectations are not in line with what is achievable..." had me twitching.

I solve what problems I can, in whatever order I think best. Because when management dump five 2-day projects on me, all with a 1-day deadline, they have shown that they cannot / will not prioritise and it falls to me to do so. Now that's the kind of behaviour that breeds burnout.

Here boy! Making the Sample Fetch Rover that'll collect soil from the Red Planet

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Re: Dust

These things always come down to a question of weight. Each and every dust-prevention system means more weight. More weight means a bigger chassis, wheels, motors and more electricity (batteries, panels etc). A heavier robot is harder to land, so a bigger lander is required. And all of that has to be launched out of Earth's atmosphere and gravity well and flung across interplanetary space to Mars, meaning a much bigger rocket...

The point I'm rambling towards is that even a tiny bit of weight on the final payload can multiply up to exponentially more weight on the launch vehicle, and thus more cost. Sometimes, one has to deal with a problem because it's just too damn expensive to fix.

Boffins find an 'actionable clock' hiding in your blood, ticking away to your death

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Re: Naive? Or something else?

Free? It's downright extortionate.

Lenovo says it’s crammed a workstation into a litre of space – less than three cans of beer

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Yep. All in the name of shaving off an extra 3mm that no-one really cares about.

Call me daft, but when a manufacturer actually starts moving essential bits of a machine outside of the machine in order to make it thinner, it strikes me as cutting one's nose off to spite one's face.

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A lot of old standards are still in use in industry. Our IT hardware team had a horrible job recently in trying to track down a PC that would run Win10 and also still had an ISA slot for one of the cutting machines in the factory. Either the old machine was no longer up to the job or it had died. Air-gapping wasn't an option in this particular case.

Of course, it didn't help that they were trying to find something from the company's current stock of machines that might do the job, rather than just drop a few hundred on a new motherboard for the controller of a cutting machine that is worth tens or hundreds of thousands, but I digress.

Richard Branson uses two planes to make 170km round trip

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Re: Papa Elon

When the news first broke of Bezos / Branson's intentions to ride their vehicles to space, I do wonder whether Elon Musk mulled over scheduling another Crew Dragon launch.

But then again, the Crew Dragon had already shown it could take people to orbit and back again. A human-rated launch costs a lot, takes up space in the launch manifest, and what would it prove to send Musk up there?

For both Branson and Bezos though, it's a chance to one-up the other, to show their own confidence in their vehicles (probably more important for Branson) and to show that sub-orbital space tourism is open.

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Re: Not quite as high as a SR-71

Ouch, that was a well-timed and effective burn.


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Re: Miserable and small minded

The "take the piss" element comes not from either company's achievement, but from their behaviour. No-one likes a sore loser, and BO taking a pop at Virgin saying "it's not real space!" is pretty bad sportsmanship. BO / Bezos have a bit of a history there, (I'm thinking of the slightly snarky "welcome to the club" tweet when SpaceX first successfully landed and recovered a Falcon 9 first stage from orbit.

I'm personally not a fan of Branson's abrupt reshuffling of schedules in order for him "to be first", but I can at least understand it.

You're right in one respect though. Both BO and Virgin Galactic have put in a lot of hard work to get this far. Space, even sub-orbital space, is hard. My congratulations to them, and I hope they take their success even further.

BOFH: Here in my car I feel safest of all. I can listen to you ... It keeps me stable for days

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Re: Box Tickers Anonymous United .......

These are actually becoming harder to enforce these days, specifically if they are unnecessarily long or convoluted. I can't remember which tech company it was, but just to prove a point one of them included a clause along the lines of "you give X_COMPANY the right to use your soul as it sees fit" in the license blindness section of their EULA. A lot of people still ticked the box, and it was several months before a newspaper caught on.

One good deed leads to a storm in an Exchange Server

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Re: Necessary learning experience

I'll admit to the classic "SQL update statement without a WHERE clause".

One afternoon of hurriedly digging out a backup and rebuilding the corrupted records from other systems later...

I think I mentioned in another thread, I very quickly learned the habit of typing UPDATE x WHERE y before then going back to insert the SET clause

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Re: Lucas

There is a definite minority of junior sysadmins / developers with that kind of trait. I spent about a year training my junior colleague out of that kind of behaviour. He was genuinely just trying to help... but he often caused more problems than he solved whenever he had a bright idea and hared off through the code-base making minor text / css changes without telling anyone what he was doing. At best, he often just wasted time on petty stuff when something more urgent needed doing.

This attitude wasn't helped by a middle manager who understood nothing of what she managed, who would just turn to him and tell him that something needed done. The first I'd hear about it was when something inevitably fell over.

Several quiet talks later with both manager and junior eventually sorted that issue. Happily, junior is now getting to the point where he actually does have a good idea of his capabilities and can be trusted to see work through to a proper conclusion. Or to seek help before he gets out of his depth.

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Re: Lucas

I was about to say the same. Being let go a few weeks or even months later might make that the probably cause, but a year later? I'm guessing that this email gaffe was one of a handful of similar mistakes. After so many of these, even the politest, most caring employer is likely to turn around and say "Look, you clearly mean well but perhaps this is not the career for you."

It's about time! NASA's orbital atomic clock a boon for deep space navigation – if they can get it working for long enough

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Re: "Mars does not maintain a constant distance from Earth."

I pulled the following figures for the orbital radius of the Earth and Mars from Google:

Earth: 149.6 million km

Mars: 227.9 million km

Quick back-of-the-envelope maths says (assuming perfectly circular orbits in the same plane) that they would be 78.3 million km apart at closest approach and 377.5 million km apart when on opposite sides of the Sun.

This may vary a little when taking orbital eccentricities, relative inclinations and other effects into account, but is good for a ballpark figure

New Yorkers react to strikingly indifferent statue of Elon Musk with cheerful hostility

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Genuine question

Do you have to ask someone before you can make a statue in their likeness and then sell it?

Additional question: is the above question valid if the likeness in question is questionable?

Bezos v Branson: Battle of the wannabe Space Barons as Virgin Galactic cleared by FAA to start flying customers

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Re: Toilet break

Either that or chuck an Amazon Prime parcel in through the window just before lift-off. Containing a days-old dead fish, or something equally pungent.

Good news: Google no longer requires publishers to use the AMP format. Bad news: What replaces it might be worse

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Re: Use Bing!

If only Anonymous users could use the joke icon...

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Re: AMP is not a problem, nor is its replacement

Just to substantiate your point, not all that many years ago I was in exactly that place. I am not stupid, but at that point I was not technically literate. I watched a college friend of mine type in a URL manually (with all the extra parameters) and it was like magic. I remarked at the time that I would have no idea what to type there.

Now, having learned how it works, I do.

So as you say, even smart people have no chance of defeating AMP unless they're technically literate.

Hubble’s cosmic science is mind-blowing, but its soul celebrates something surprising about us

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Re: Pale Blue Dot.

I have "The Day the Earth Smiled" as my desktop background at work.

Ouch! When the IT equipment is sound, but the setup is hole-y inappropriate

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Re: He had three degrees

The gentleman in question had a long and distinguished career and retired pretty wealthy. The degrees were what he chose to spend his retirement doing, as he genuinely enjoyed studying history, literature and things of a similar nature. Generally speaking, he was a patient, practical and pretty wise man and I remember him very fondly.

But, as I said, he just had a big blind spot for technology.

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I had a similar one way back when. I friend of mine, an elderly scholar, was baffled as to why his wired USB mouse refused to work. Looking at the back of the machine, he'd managed to jam the USB plug into the machine's Ethernet socket.

He wasn't a stupid man. He had three degrees and was working towards his fourth (all just out of his own interest), but he had a bit of a blind spot for technology.

BOFH: Oh for Pete’s sake. Don’t make a spectacle of yourself

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Re: Stupidity Cancelling Headset

I tried one once. It worked brilliantly for most of the week, I could focus on the task in hand and got a record amount of work done.

Right up until Friday afternoon. After a week of work and lack of sleep, my own brain entered the Stupid zone. The helmet got caught in an infinite loop, trying to protect my brain from it's own thoughts, before finally realising the stupidity of it's own actions and cancelling itself right out of existence.

Advert for coronavirus 'destroying' air 'purifier' exterminated by UK watchdog

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Re: Wack-a--Mole

You can never get them all... but the trick is to whack hard enough and often enough to convince most of them that popping up isn't the best of ideas.

To put it in other words, I never succeed in mowing my lawn - the grass still keeps growing even after I cut it. But I can keep it at a manageable level.

Facebook granted patent for 'artificial reality' baseball cap. Repeat, an 'artificial reality' baseball cap

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I'm wearing one now. In many ways, it's even better than an umbrella. It doesn't turn inside out in a stiff breeze.

If you get one with walls, you can keep the wind off you as well.

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Re: "hats solve the problem presented by AR glasses"

as you have something that goes over the head you can probably call it a hat which them means almost any VR headset would fall foul of this patient

I think it works the other way. If anything that goes over the head can be described as a hat, then the patent can be easily invalidated by the plethora of prior art.

Updating in production, like a boss

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Re: Clever

I fully expect that the database I refer to was built with the same idea in mind. Most of the fields were varchar(500), but some were 5000. After a while you saw the pattern... the original designer had used 500 up until he'd hit a field that needed more than 500 characters (a product description or something). Every field subsequent to that was 5000.

There was also no sanity checking or validation in the code. Any typo made on the site would just be swallowed by the database. Don't get me started on date (varchar) fields and the myriad of formats used.

Several points in the code just spat data at the database in the order that the fields appeared in the UI. This worked just fine, until they then changed the order of the fields and suddenly five address fields got rotated 2 places (house number in city field, city in postcode, postcode in address line etc). AND CODE HAD THEN BEEN WRITTEN TO TEST AND ACCOUNT FOR THIS DOWN THE LINE!!!

<ok, breath... breath.... calm face>

I sometimes question exactly how skilled a developer I am, wonder how many best practices I don't know about or don't follow. Then I remember how much worse it could be.

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I will raise you one worse... a function in code entitled CheckIfColumnExistsAndIfNotCreateIt(columnName As String).

And three different columns for the same bit of data, each with subtly different misspelled names. Which one got updated / read largely depended on what bit of code was being run.

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I long ago got into the habit of typing the WHERE clause first in an update statement, before then going back and entering the SET clause. Even on local / inconsequential DBs. It's not fool-proof, but it's saved me a couple of times.



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