* Posts by Marshalltown

730 posts • joined 30 Sep 2011


BOFH: You drive me crazy... and I can't help myself


Re: Genius

You haven't heard about what happened in the server room? Such a tragedy!

BOFH: The vengeance bus is coming, and everybody's jumping. An Xmas bonus hits me…


Re: He'll learn

The first BOFH I ever read mentioned redirecting a doctoral dissertation to /dev/null IIRC. I worked at a company with absolutely no reason to deal with the more intricate details of computers, networks, servers and such. Then the "boss" got a wild hair up an orifice and decided to diversify, become an ISP. Briefly I and my co-workers were drafted to help as "support" staff, hell desk and such. Then he brought in a young Goth to manage the ISP side of things, and another to support him. The young Goth decided that all computers in the office were HIS domain, regardless of the needs of the rest of the business's other side, which, as I said had nothing whatsoever to do with ISP trivia. But I and a colleague HAD installed the peer to peer network, before the Boss had his brainstorm. Our would be IT manager would lock the rest of the office out of access to the print server for no good reason when he left for the night. It was NT, but we had a floppy disk that could reboot it to useability for its intended purpose - printing. He would rage about the instability that would ensue. NT didn't like the by pass trick. Finally, he quit, calling out "harassment" as the reason, since he received no respect for his decisions regarding the Print Server. Even the Boss pointed out that there were others that needed the printers. His understudy moved up, and after actually talking with us about what was "wrong" with the print server, nearly died laughing, and directed me to the early BOFH pieces.

Don't touch that dial – the new guy just closed the application that no one is meant to close



Dunning-Krueger is with us more than Darwin sadly.

BOFH: Pass the sugar, Asmodeus, and let the meeting of the Fellowship of Bastards … commence


Re: Kickstarter

Or walk in front of a speeding bicyclist.

Not too bright, are you? Your laptop, I mean... Not you


Re: Floppy solution

My favorite misdeed of all was to write a script called by the autoexec file that blanked the screen and then started a count down in very large numbers. I added it to the office manager's system. She screamed and ran out the door when it popped up. She was a firm believer that the world would be ending RSN at the time.


Re: Ah, a first time user

There are still text editors for Linux and Unix that use the Wordstar key combinations. I use joe as a quick text editor, and it uses many of the combinations of Wordstar.


Floppy solution

In an office I worked at in the early '90s, the machines we used were DOS systems. As such, they employed an autoexec.bat file to configure things as the system finally reached usability. It was considered a good joke to set the text color to black or similar little pranks by editing the batch file. We kept a bootable floppy on hand with edlin on it to correct any "edits" to the file.

Revealed: Perfect timings for creation of exemplary full English breakfast


Frozen hash browns - I am shocked

The best way to do hash browns is to take a smallish potato, ideally a little less than fist sized, maybe lady fist sized. You wash it, make sure it as no bad spots, and grate it coarsely. In a 10-inch (25 cm) pan pour in about 1/8 - 1/16 the inch (3 - 1.5 mm) of oil - it has to completely cover the pan bottom, Start it heating at medium heat. When the oil starts shimmering scatter the grated potato in the hot oil all over the bottom of the pan so the potato layer is as thin as you can get it. Maybe press with a spatula to get the layer thin. Salt it liberally (less of course you are sodium limited, in which case you shouldn't even be reading this). There should be bits of the pan bottom visible or the pan is too small, or the potato is too big. Let it cook for about three to four minutes and check to see if the bottom is browning. The entire mass should lift like a large potato chip. If it does, flip and let the other side have its day in the heat - well not a day, but until the sizzling diminishes. Turn the pan lower - say a bit below medium, let potato cruise a bit, but don't burn it. Lift it out and place on a plate at least as big as the disk of hash browns. It should be crisp, dark golden brown, and well salted. Add black pepper here if you like it. Pop three eggs in the pan and cook how you like them. Slid them on top of the potatos along with any bacon and/or sausage. Being American I don't really worry about mushrooms or tomatoes. You'll get various people saying you should par boil the potato, or wring the moisture out of the freshly grated potato, and these steps might please some, but they aren't nessary in a big enough pan with enough oil.

BOFH: I'm so pleased to be on the call, Boss. No, of course this isn't a recording


Re: 90 days

That's because you gave us "soccer" and then started slapping us about it every chance you get.

ASUS baffles customer by telling them thermal pad thickness is proprietary



The trouble is that warranties are metered to last just long enough that the warranty expires _before_ you need something repaired. So, the assertion that opening or disassembling things will "void the warranty" is generally an empty threat.


Re: This sounds like ...

Or the normal hell-desk "required" response as indicated by job "training." Basically, "don't fiddle with the hardware. We do not want to deal with a liability suit when you electrocute yourself because you neglected to unplug the device first." Some old tube-driven radios had components that could still knock you cold hours after being turned off and unplugged.

Lessons have not been learned: Microsoft's Modern Comments leave users reaching for the rollback button


Re: "Modern Commenting"

I would like to see a stable word processor that offers the basics that most people would need, which would encompass the basic writing tasks that a single person needs. MS could break out other "tools" like commenting and team composition perhaps. But you would first need to educate the functionally illiterate to genuine writing needs and confuse "comments" with the silliness you run into in "comments" as understood in social media. There's actual work to be done.

Colonial Pipeline was looking to hire cybersecurity manager before ransomware attack shut down operations


Re: Maybe not

The issue with many security systems is that they necessarily implement some form of tighter access control. That has its upsides and downsides. It may very well be more secure to intrusion (physical or electronic), but if the implementation also makes it even slightly more onerous for the users and clients then 1) many users start to look for short cuts, or easier means of achieving an end; and 2) clients conclude the effort is worth less than the reward and start to look elsewhere. So, poorly implemented security measures from the point of view of those who have to deal them. People start writing down "more secure" gibberish passwords that are hard or impossible to memorize except by savants, meaning the "keys" to the kingdom can be on a thumb drive or a slip of paper.

I used to war drive around the city where I live and the unsecured access points were most numerous in state government buildings. I pointed this to a friend who worked for a state agency and was actually responsible helping maintain security, eliminating viruses, trojans, etc. He told me that the biggest problem were work bottle necks, issues such as one printer available to anywhere from ten to some times 50 personnel! Bureaucracies run on paperwork. So people would bring a personal printer, usually run off an unauthorized personal router in order to meet deadlines. Effectively their wireless routers created back doors into secure systems. The security staff were running their legs off suppressing this, but the people committing the acts were also the most productive. So, they might be chewed out by a superior, but you can't shoot the cow and improve milk production.

He said they were continually monitoring this (war driving themselves). There were other security problems as well. He had spent a month chasing a virus source that seemed to skip around town from one building to another, but always within the same unit. The head of said unit was complaining bitterly about this. In desperation my buddy created a board tracking dates of new outbreaks in places previously cleared, sometimes several times. It finally emerged that the very complaining supervisor had been carrying around a 3.5-inch disk from section to section of the unit to "backup work" and "monitor" work progress. The floppy was one from his home (to save the unit budget he said). Ultimately my friend had to physically catch the supervisor inserting the disk into and have him stop while the disk was scanned. Some of the unit sections affected had physical access limitations that required authorization before a person could physically enter the building or suite. So the problem was the fellow with the boss of the unit.

Tesla Autopilot is a lot dumber than CEO Musk claims, says Cali DMV after speaking to the software's boss



Seriously? Even 2X would be a very significant improvement. Why set your bar that high?


Re: uneasy about any level of automation

This is the point that really should be looked. Are Teslas as presently sold as safe as a normal, human operated vehicle or not. There's a lot of fuss when a Tesla is in an accident, but mile per mile, just what are the accident rates perTesla vs say a Lexus? All this personality jabber is just that, and irrelevant to what is really at stake. What Musk says is irrelevant. What does the actual data say?

Where did the water go on Mars? Maybe it's right under our noses: Up to 99% may still be in planet's crust


Geomorphology - Mars style

I find it surprising that there is so little discussion of features on Mars that look like dust-covered glaciers, or the other immense elephant in the room, the elevation of the Martian south polar regions. There are many satellite shots of the surface that contain what look like glacial features, but they are dust colored. Yet, no one thinks back to the "melting" of Himalayan glaciers that turned out not to have happened. The glacier surfaces were covered in rock and soil and were not visible as ice. The whole Himalayan ice loss issue had to be scaled back a very long way. There are also photos of events where it appears that an entire stratum is jetting some type of vapour out of a cliff face, accompanied by a land slide. The color, form and spacing indicates a level feature or stratum in the cliff is discharging some form of pressurized gas or vapour, and that discharge triggered the slides. Then, there is the Martian south pole. The planetary surface is higher at the south pole. That should lead to morphologically driven adiabatic cooling and precipitation. If the planet entered an ice age, that pole would grow and rise, the ice itself adding to the adiabatic effect. The long term result could be the fixing of water at the pole, and as the planet chilled, that would be further insulated by CO2 ice.

While Reg readers know the difference between a true hacker and cyber-crook, for everyone else, hacking means illegal activity


Re: Too Far Gone

Ah, but the use examples don't describe the action as an inherently criminal action. That is the issue. They do tend to trivialize the idea, but they don't criminalize it. There's a serious difference.

Ever had a bogus call from someone claiming to be the IRS? A tax scam ringleader just got sent down for 20 years


Re: Who says crime doesn't pay?

The sad part is that these scammed people don't actually try to contact the real IRS, right there in the Government pages or on the internet. They don't know that the IRS doesn't notify anyone by phone of anything. You kind of get the impression that they likely voted for Trump and took Q seriously.

Microsoft says it found 1,000-plus developers' fingerprints on the SolarWinds attack


Re: Oh those Russians!

I could buy perhaps the Chinese as a potential source, but NORK? Really? One of the serious problems that country has is that it discourages talent and merit. The Iranians might be a source, and they have the motives to be. But, on the balance, when you see the similarities to the Ukraine episode, the Russians are easily the best, immediate choice. They are also seriously handicapped by external sanctions that limit their ability to trade. Their agriculture has taken repeated serious hits several years in a row, and last, as a kleptocracy, their PTB are quite unhappy that their money launderer was turfed out of office before he could complete his work. China is in agricultural difficulties too (so's the US as far as that goes), but China is tremendously better off than Russia and has a vast array of legitimate overseas investments that can cover a lot of their short fall. So Russia is number one on the short list.

Trump silenced online: Facebook, Twitter etc balk at insurrection, shut the door after horse bolts and nearly burns down the stable


Re: And - Darwinism in action

Hawley is pond scum and far more dangerous than our soon-to-be ex-mad-man-in-office. He is absolutely cynical. There are a number of Congress creatures that are as bad or worse.

BOFH: Time for the MMOCC. You know, the Massively Moronic Online Christmas Call


Re: Not everybody.

That should read, "(t)he portable ones should be for everyone but admin. T'is the season of Saturnalia.

BOFH: Switch off the building? Great idea, Boss


Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

A couple o decades ago I was working for an "expedition" is Israel. They were excavating a site in the Bet Netopa Valley north of Nazareth. One evening the directors threw a staff and labor party at the site (the "labor" were students who paid for the privilege of experiencing sweat, dust, scorpions, and discovering whether they were allergic to fig tree sap). Toward the end of the evening the cook, a Palestinian Christian, who, with his wife and daughters, produced a very fine meal of grilled meat fresh, various sorts of flat breads baked on site, rice, and fresh vegetables, imbibed a tad to much beer. We got a bonfire going and while waiting for a ride home, the cook tossed a very liberal amount of fuel (gasoline I think) on the fire. After that his wife and children dragged him off. I heard the next morning he couldn't find his eyebrows. Things quieted down and we sat and enjoyed the dark, and the distant thump and flare of artillery shells detonating beyond the mountains on Jordanian (or southern Syrian? border, east of the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee.


Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

Hmm, I grew up in the Sierra Nevada in California. My dad was a black powder enthusiast and had a cap-and-ball muzzle loader he liked to shoot at targets, slowly, since each shot required wiping the barrel, measuring and pouring in an amount of black powder, ramming home a lead ball, rinse and repeat. I think his record rate was three shots a minute, but that is another tale. My brother was interested in theater and conceived the idea that black powder would be ideal for special effects, like Gandalf vanishing in a puff of smoke. However, he had the odd handicap of having difficulty lighting anything on fire, even black powder. One of my sisters saw this sad performance and took pity. While my brother had trouble igniting anything, that particular sister had the family nickname of "one match." Her ability to start fires in wet wood was scary. Naturally she succeed remarkably and caught the flash in her face. No serious damage, but I became aware of it when I heard her coming up the driveway trailing blue smoke and bluer language. She still has not quite forgiven me for putting her out by shoving her head under the faucet. Only minor temporary inconvenience as her eyebrows and bangs grew back. Life in the country.

BOFH: You might want to sit down for this. Oh, right, you can't. Listen carefully: THIS IS NOT AN IT PROBLEM!


Re: Office Chairs!

My old boss told the staff, this was in the early days of Windows NT when a lot of the libraries still had OS2 in the names, that since computers had become essential work items, we were expected to buy our own kit. That proposal did not go over well at all. Everyone asked for a raise to cover equipment and software costs.

Hey Reg readers, Happy Spreadsheet day! Because there ain't no party like an Excel party


According to the Microsoft link

"... We sometimes get mails from our customers claiming to have found a calculation error in Excel, when in fact the calculation isn’t wrong, but the side effects of binary floating point precision make it seem that way. ..."

The article doesn't explain how the square root of a squared number can yield a negative number. Just a simple variance, always a positive value for archaeological counts and measures, nothing esoteric, yet taking the square root, there it was: a negative standard deviation. I quit using Excel (or any other spreadsheet for statistics after that). I still don't get quite how that number, which was seriously wrong, only "seemed" that way.

BOFH: Rome, I have been thy soldier 40 years... give me a staff of honour for mine age


Re: A mild-mannered janitor?

Technically a "BJFH" I believe.

Excel Hell: It's not just blame for pandemic pandemonium being spread between the sheets


Simple tables

In Word and some other current wp's you can type the values in as comma or tab separated columns, select the block and tell the word processor to convert it to a table. You can then the format the table in the wp. Or, you can simply copy a csv or tsv file, paste it into the wp and again convert to table. Vastly better than creating tables using the GUI and less aggravating than dealing with some of the weird incompatibilities encountered occasionally even between MS products.


Re: Relax...

I have to disagree. It is more or less OK as a data entry system, if you're not very fussy. But once you start to do anything practical things can go pear shaped in a blink. I was encouraged long ago in the dawn of Windows to use Excel and "shut up." So, simple statistics - came with an add-on set of statistical tools. What could be difficult about calculating the standard deviation of a set of artifact lengths? It is after all simply the square root of the variance, which is mean of the summed squared deviations. There aren't many. I could do it easily by hand, or right there in the spreadsheet. But there's a tool. So - what's this? A negative variance? That can't be right. How can that happen? There's no place for the number "i" in a simple sum of measures. I ran the calculations by hand and there the error was again! Square all deviations, they look right, sum them, still look right, divide to get the mean (the variance) and- where did that negative sign come from? I switched to R right there and then. Later I was told that the problem was probably due to some underflow or overflow condition. All I know is that impossible numbers are no use.

Chinese database details 2.4 million influential people, their kids, addresses, and how to press their buttons


"...awakened by the sound of Chinese jackboots in the middle of the night then these two interferences are totally equivalent...."

China has a population of around 1.4 billion. That is a lot of bodies. And, they are bodies that need to eat, drink and do the same general stuff that every human does. Compared to that population, the Chinese Army runs about 2 million. The US has just under 1 million in the Army alone. And the US number does not count the Navy, Air force, and Marines. China has the the "third largest" military, and as fraction of the population, it is even smaller. China has a very long, very extensive history of "throw the rascals out" moments. Their interests are primarily at home, and that includes the home population not getting ideas. But, because of that same population, they must look outside the country to off set risks from crop losses in side their borders and the last two years for example have been catastrophic to their agriculture. The point here is that they essentially that they are pretty near the edge economically. Trying to put "Chinese jackboots" too far from home would be counter productive and not in China's best interests. They know that better than any other country on earth. The modern "Communist Party" is composed of Mandarins in the 19th century sense, with very few remaining believers. They are and have always been very pragmatic. They know markets just as well as any western capitalist. And, because of a very long recorded history, they may have a better predictive grasp of possible and likely problems (weather, crops, etc.) than we imagine. They have been buying land in Australia and parts of North Africa and curiously in North Africa, those areas are receiving more rainfall than they have in centuries.


Re: Good old propaganda

Ah, the optimists out there. The take away from the Cambridge debacle was that if a private corporation working more or less openly could be employed as it was, then just extensive would databases kept by various alphabet soup entities be? The Chinese effort is impressive, but Cambridge Analytic's was an order of magnitude bigger, so how big an how extensive could some secret western DBs be?

Mate, it's the '90s. You don't need to be reachable every minute of every hour. Your operating system can't cope


Re: Perhaps

Heh, "hourly." I used to check email three times a day. At the start, just after lunch and about half-an-hour before leaving. No SMS. The boss regularly complained that I wasn't looking at my email often enough. I would point out that his door was ten strides from mine, and he even had a telephone if he didn't want to yell.

Clarke's Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced techie is indistinguishable from magic


Never quite that simple

I worked with an office manager who was - shall we say - a bit odd in some aspects. She was not the most patient of people, and at the time was expecting the End of the Word - really. Her pastor had foretold just when it would occur. She also had a spouse who was a professional bowler on a long losing streak. There were other personal issues as well. Every so often, she give me a yell, literally, and I would go to her desk and find that her computer was frozen. She could never reboot because she would lose work. This was in the early days of Windows and that might have had something to do with it. At that time we referred to the compiled code running on the systems "programs" - not "applications" or "apps," BTW. I believe term appeared a little later with the advent of java. Any way, I would walk in, shoo her away from her desk, sit down and "magically" the machine would behave flawlessly - with an innocent cooperativeness that had her gritting her teeth. The best hypothesis I ever came up with is that she had some form of buffer problem that cleared in a fairly brief interval, she did all the graphics and page layout for reports we generated, and her machine was limited to 640K. Either that, or our boss was routing pr0n through her system to his. My "fix," such as it was, was to tell her that electrons were sulky beasts and that they didn't like people being impatient with them. What she needed to was to sit back, clear her mind and breath. Oddly enough she followed the advice and it seemed to work.

Mexican cave relics suggest humans were populating the Americas up to 17,000 years earlier than thought



There are a number of ideas about the causes of the last extinction's causes. One of the rather poorly considered aspects of the extinction is that it was not sudden at all. Cave bears in Europe for instance pretty much were gone by the glacial maximum. Other extinctions waited until the Holocene was well underway. Some ecological communities such as the mammoth steppe completely vanished - that is an entire habitat type that no longer exists. The best explanation is that a number of circumstances came together in a perfect storm of events. One of the aspects of the Y-D period is that it marks the end of Clovis, so any list of extinctions correlated with the Y-D should include Clovis as an extinction. I think that there were demonstrably several "suboptimal" conditions. One is that as the last glacial developed, primary productivity declined globally. There was both cold-associated drought and a seriously low level of CO2, very close to levels where primary production just shuts down. There was the abrupt climatic shift as the glacial ended, mark a period of very rapid warming and quickly shifting environmental communities. Then there was the Y-D, part way through the warming that complete reversed climate trends for around a millennium. At the same time something extraterrestrial happen as well. There is a problem with radio carbon dating that seems to collapse the Y-D into a span much shorter than it was in reality. That suggests an influx of cosmic rays adequate to significantly enrich C-14 in the atmosphere. For the Americas, the end of the Pliestocene also marks the end of geographic isolation and that may very well have lead to the epidemic spread of disease among many genera including possibly, paleoindians.

When a deleted primary device file only takes 20 mins out of your maintenance window, but a whole year off your lifespan


Re: Read and understand the instructions first

I never had any issues with any unix or linux system but I worked for a company that were religiously faithful users of Micro**** products. These would not infrequently eat their own young, including the servers. The Boss would every so often insist that we "clean up" our hard drives, specifically of old project files. I never did so, and oddly he would always ask me for help in recovering lost or strayed project files. Once, an entire year's worth of work vanished including gigabytes worth of images which were critical (maps, property photos, ...). Unhappily in that insatnce, the only recoverable data was what I had cached on my system - and since these were "team" projects and other team members dutifully deleted everything they were told to, it was pretty ugly for awhile. The bad part was that somehow, the backups were corrupted as well. That really set some hearts beating. The boss never ever again advanced as company policy that closed project files be removed from machines of the individuals that created them.

MIT apologizes, permanently pulls offline huge dataset that taught AI systems to use racist, misogynistic slurs


You miss the fact that the system employed an existing database - WordNet - that developed to study the intensity of associations between words. That database was developed in the '90s, and then re-purposed for the current project. And, at no time could a data base of the magnitude of the subject database be created manually. It could still be purged of "offensive" content if the system is properly designed, but evidently MIT considers it not worth the expense.


Re: the dataset includes ...pictures of Black people... labeled with the N-word

The methods employed are the "problem." If you automate the assembly of a "dictionary" like WordNet, then you run into things like this. The system that does the automatic scraping can create such things without any supervision. The basic database contained over 79 million images and necessarily many times that in associated labels. That is in fact precisely what WordNet was created for: to study the associations between words. Right now large portions of the planet are going through a phase of "if we don't see it, it will go away," and metaphorically a "one drop ..." puritanical response where any hint that some aspects of something are "off" taints the entire thing. The reality of this is that carrying that kind of "reasoning" to its extreme means the entire internet is "tatinted" and we should not use it at all. The database could be purgerd easily by running searches on offensive words and removing the subsets that offend. The problem with that has already been highted because databases, and often individuals objecting to content have no common sense, In parts of the US parental control measures to protect children from the real world and the internet, also made it essentially impossible for people dealing with things like breast cancer to find information and absurdly to find recipes for prearing chicken breasts.

Faxing hell: The cops say they would very much like us to stop calling them all the time


Ah yes, misdirected faxes

There was always a certain degree of annoyance when you picked up the phone to the hopeful "scr-e-e-e-e" from someone's misdirected fax. However there is a more sinister - one might say - possibility. My wife was an RN at a large hospital in California. We had agreed to meet for lunch and I was waiting at the nurse's station chatting with desk person. The phone rang and she turned very red and said to the phone, "oh, thank you very much! Yes, please shred them all." I looked at her and she looked around and said, "that was <such-and-such new car business> in Roseville. Their fax machine just received a bunch of patient records!" She then called what passed for the hospital IT at the time and demanded that someone come up right away. I drifted off to a bench and continued to wait for the wife. IT arrived and there was a hurried and muttered conference with IT insisting "not our fault!" and the supervisor, who had been called in by then asking, "then whose is it?" Later I heard the rest of the story and that was that the hospital's network "must have been hacked" or??? All the information about the fax was wrong, beginning with the records should never have been faxed anywhere. No one ever figured out why they were sent.

Bite me? It's 'byte', and that acronym is Binary Interface Transfer Code Handler


I thought offensive test messages WERE the professional standard. The strings utility used to be very entertaining.


The way my dad's family pronounced it, but they're Canadian.

Remember that clinical trial, promoted by President Trump, of a possible COVID-19 cure? So, so, so many questions...


Re: Donald Jenius Trump

It isn't just the sample size. The idea that they would try a combination of antimalarial and an antibacterial is bizarre. Malaria is essentially a blood born parasite that essentially destroys your red blood cells. Sickle cell anemia is an evolutionary adaptation that protects the (heterozygous) carrier by shortening the life of thier red blood cells, interrupting the reproductive cycle of the parasite. And antibacterials help against bacteria. COVID is a virus. It is not a bacterium or a plasmodium. There was essentially not a snow ball's chance in Hades that such a cocktail would do anything useful, though it might help protect you from a bacterial secondary infection - and malaria. It would do nothing to a virus.

That awful moment when what you thought was a number 1 turned out to be a number 2


Ah - yes

This wasn't Microsoft's problem. It was a Wordperfect file. My Boss called me in because his WP document was giving him trouble. It was "too slow." This baffled since he had the biggest, baddest machine in the house, even if he never came close to using its real muscle for anythin but viewing pr0n. Anyway, I chased him out of his office and waited for his chair to cool down. Then I opened the file. Yep, it was opening very slowly, scrolling slowly and closed slowly. This seemed like a real problem because it was only five pages long. Hmmm ... open the file again, and use Reveal Code to look at the formatting codes. Holy Cats!!!! There was a novel's worth of formatting that did nothing. So, clean up the document removing all nonfunctional formatting codes. Save it, close it, open it. Brisk as can be, no slow scrolling. So, I called the boss back in and told him it was all taken care of, and returned to a monumental dBASE II database the was really pushing the limits of my underpowered 640K PC. A terrified scream interrupted a doze as I waited while dBASE II conducted a filtering job.

The boss had notice the change in file size and was certain I had deleted critical things. So, very slowly, I took him through the issues of not cleaning out nonfunctioning formatting, and the problems of files that were 30 times or more the size they should be. It turned out he had created a "template" for these business letters and simply saved a new letter over the template occasionally and simply edited visible text and occasionally "fixed" formatting.

Tech can endure the most inhospitable environments: Space, underwater, down t'pit... even hairdressers


Pretty sure I've told this story before

Way back in the '90s I worked for a firm whose chief business was dirt, or rather what's in it. That is, it was what is know in California as a Cultural Resources firm. We did archaeological surveys and tests ahead of developers. Well, the '90s were heady days in the computer and internet areas as well. And the owner, who had explained that he was a "concept guy" during my hiring interview, decided that IN PARALLEL to the chief business, which was to wander out with a map and wade through toxic plants looking to be sure there were no prehistoric or historic resources that would be "negatively impacted" by a proposed project, he wanted to set up an ISP business. And since he had a perfectly good staff of college educated archaeologists, they would handle initial operations - nothing like being thrown in the deep end without a life vest. Why hire folks who knew what they were doing? So, in between writing up reports of things seen in the dirt, and passing along field notes contaminated with poison oak (Toxicodendron diversiloba) to people who broke out into a rash from seeing a photograph of the plant, we did things like take calls from people even more innocent than we. One call that I took was from a very nice matron who had bought a computer and signed up for an internet connection through the boss' parallel company. She could not get her mouse to work "very well." Her computer, needless to say, was not installed "professionally." Investigation found she had her mouse on the floor and was attempting to employ it like the pedal on a sewing machine. I've since seen this written up as an "urban myth." but I personally took the call.

Super-leaker Snowden punts free PDF* of tell-all NSA book with censored parts about China restored, underlined


Re: But isn't the big guy in America a Russian stooge?

Trump has been associated with organized crime since the seventies. Back then it was the New York gangs. Later as he "diversified" the names he associated with took on more of a Bratva ring.


Re: But isn't the big guy in America a Russian stooge?

Money laundering. You want to remember who really runs Russia, it isn't just Putin.


Re: A good read

Not just Trump, though he's a rank example. One of the great failures in US jurisprudence is that money has been allowed to talk, and thanks to that, fictive (corporate) entities are allowed "civil rights" comparable to an individual's. The important thing about the Bill of Rights is that it is directed at hampering ANY form of intrusion into "individual" rights, even when the wording specifies "people." People collectively lack any "natural rights" not allowed to individuals. This is important because it is not directed just at "the government," but against any form of government, and that includes democracies, not just absolutists. This was one strong reason the US was constructed as a republic rather than a outright democracy such as ancient Athens. It could have been and the authors of the key documents were all very well educated in these areas.

Crazy idea but hear us out... With robots taking people's jobs, can we rethink this whole working to survive thing?


Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

The change in quality of living is partially dependent on the region. In the US, while superficially there are visual indications of a "higher standard of living," those indications are purely material and are essentially funded by retreats in funding elsewhere. The declines are quantitative and largely barely discernible to individuals. Things like an increase in in infant mortality for example, levelling or diminishing life spans, increased mortality among poor women, or nearly stagnant levels of health care, which despite the mythology are pretty bad. It's great to have choice, but only if the choice is meaningful. If you are a member of of some sort of health maintenance system, you are a source of income and every possible effort is made to be sure you don't become a "cost." Collectively, one of the very few ways the US is "better off" is the long term and continuing decrease in violent crime. Which almost no one seems to even suspect, especially with the media hand waving about mass shootings, which are extremely uncommon even with the help of the media to popularize the practice. The pizza delivery person can afford the cell phone because they lack healthcare, and their employers don't issue company cell phones, so they have to pay enough for the "help" to afford the phone, that is required by the employer for the job. It really is not a simple situation.

Windows 7 will not go gentle into that good night: Ageing OS refuses to shut down


Strictly speaking

"Bit rot" affected cds and dvds as far as I recollect. Moisture permeating junction between the layers of plastic "sealing" the layer of organometallic recording medium allowed wee little organisms to actually caused the layer to decay. Well, essentially they ate the "organo-" bit. There used to be some nice microphotos of "bit rot" occurring and at least one time lapse video.

May the excessive force be with you: Chap cuffed after Star Trek v Star Wars row turns bloody


Re: Snowy

Firefly - for the movie, Serenity.

ACLU sues America's border cops: Tell us everything about these secret search teams targeting travelers


You'll be welcome if the fellows at the border let you pass. I once saw a traveler insist on being allowed to dispose of his maple syrup at customs in the airport at Montreal. The agents explained the jar was "too big" and expected to "seize" the syrup. The traveler said he would dispose of it then. There were some shocked and disappointed expressions from the agents when he asked for an escort to a sink so he could pour it down the drain. Not that one of them would have left the building with the jar full of first class maple syrup under his coat.

BOFH: The company survived the disaster recovery test. Just. The Director's car, however...



A former employer/boss/chief source of computer virus infestations, etc. Walked in to find his C:\ out of commission (this was in the '90s). He yelled for my buddy and I to get in there and fix things. We looked things over, noting a small burned scar on the circuit board that made the drive look as if it had been hit by a micrometeor. Impossible of course, but still cool enough to hang on to later as a paper weight. We shook our heads and said the drive would have to go to some more rarified, far higher-paid specialist than us peons to recover any data, The best course would be to simply replace the drive and restore everything that could be restored from backups made the day before (the boss's own policy). Hemming and hahhing ensued. Finally it is revealed that the boss himself, source of the Tuesday/Thursday back up all files directive (had to be done to floppies, a tape drive or drives was too costly) had neglected to follow his own directive - ever. None of the rest of the worker bees was seriously affected, but he was out a month's work, plus files related to closed jobs. Happily we had paper copies of all reports archived. But no email, no electronically stored notes. Of course he later also once returned from a trip to eastern Europe with a floppy disk "utility" that "backed up" all(!!!) the office hard drives. He never bothered to inform the guys (my buddy and I) about this procedure and our first notification was a viral plague on every machine in the office except the print server. We spent a day cleaning things up and (we thought) locking things down. Next day, same plague is raging once more.

Then the boss gets concerned about lost work and possible corrupted files and possibly the spread of the virus TO his immigrant disk. We asked what it was and he explained he was backing up all the computers at night after we all left. Eyebrows tangled in hairlines, we asked where he was storing all that data. Why, on the floppy. Ah, had he ever restored any data from the floppy from one hard disk to another? No. He had been very carefully installing a virus over and over on computers he (he was always happy to point out) owned. Because his eastern European "friend" had told him what a wonder program the "utility" was. Careful examination revealed the floppy was THE source of the virus. We ceremonially degaussed it and then chopped it up with a paper cutter. We then asked that he never ever buy "magic beans" again without getting a second opinion.



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