* Posts by Stuart Castle

1250 posts • joined 19 Jun 2007

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Dowden out, Dorries in: Is UK data protection in safe hands?

Stuart Castle Silver badge

So, in all the potential candidates for the DCMS job, Boris couldn’t find someone that could a) use a computer and b) has shown they have some clue about Culture or the Media?

Still, I do think the only member of the government who has shown he is competent is Rishi Sunak , and even he isn’t really suitable, imo.

Apple emergency patches fix zero-click iMessage bug used to inject NSO spyware

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Autocratic governments, that's a broad brush nowadays.

I think the problem is that the whole remain campaign (and certainly David Cameron) assumed Remain would win. That's probably why Cameron didn't specify a limit for the referendum. He didn't think of it because he thought that once they got the referendum they were asking for, and lost, the Tory Eurosceptics would shut up.

The problem is, they didn't lose, and even when the remain campaign started fighting, they fought with facts. The problem is facts, while often correct, don't engage people's emotions as much as a good bit of lying. Put simply, the leave campaign said "Stuff is broken, we will fix it" (as did Trump in 2016), which engages people's emotions far more than the simply stating that the other campaign is wrong, and things are generally OK, which is what the remain campaign did in this country and what Clinton did in the US. Even if you are telling the truth.

NYC subway SNAFU probably caused by someone turning it off accidentally, say reports

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Nearest I've been to this was being stuck in a lift packed with women when the power failed at work. My friends at work all said things along the lines of "Wahay" and "Get in!" and other stuff like that, and wondered why I hadn't got at least one phone number.

There was a very good reason I didn't get anyone's phone number. I spent the whole time (nearly 2 hours) trying to keep one of the women, who was both claustrophobic and scared of lifts (she'd only taken this one because she was running late and her friend persuaded her) calm, or at least stop her having a panic attack. That meant getting everyone in the lift to turn on the lights on their phones (whether backlights or flashes) so we could at least see each other (even the emergency lighting failed), speaking to the woman calmly, trying to take her mind off things. This wasn't easy, as I am crap at small talk. It certainly meant not hitting on her.

When I got out (thanks to our security staff using the winch attachment on the lift), I found out that some workman had been digging up the road, and drilled through the electricity main.

Microsoft releases new Windows 11 builds, confirms running on an Apple M1 'is not a supported scenario'

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: What exactly did the Register ask Microsoft?

Actually, as I understand it. Apple haven’t said they won’t supply drivers, they’ve merely pointed out that there isn’t currently a way for users to buy (or other legal way of obtaining) a licence for Windows’s. Even when they supported windows on a Mac, Apple required the user to obtain their own copy.

Oh! A surprise tour of the data centre! You shouldn't have. No, you really shouldn't have

Stuart Castle Silver badge

I had a problem that was pretty much the opposite of UCAPs (above)..

A few years ago, we bought a then state of the art Lexmark A3 colour Laser printer. I was primarily responsible for this (no idea why - while it was flasher than our normal printers, it was just a printer), with another technician helping.

It had a particular problem where the paper would jam in the Duplexer, and multiple engineers from Lexmark failed to fix the problem. There was a particular trick to getting the paper out of the duplexer and resetting it. Me and my colleague both knew the trick.

For the first time in *years*, I went on holiday, going to Vegas. When I got back, my boss was in a foul mood, and shouted at me that this printer he'd spent so much money on was not working (he actually hadn't, we provided support for the printer, but it was bought by another department). It had been out of order for a week. The fix was to push a tiny part of the mechanism back into the right position.

I told him to calm down, and I would look at it. Sure enough, the paper had jammed in the Duplexer. I cleared it, and left the printer clearing the huge backlog of jobs that had built up.

I asked the technician that supported the printer with me why he hadn't fixed it. He said he wasn't aware there was a problem. He worked for a different department, the one who actually owned the printer. My department supported it on condition our users were allowed to use it.

I suspect what had happened is our users tried to use it, failed, then complained to my boss, who didn't really investigate, just shouted at me.

I went to see my boss. I pointed out that there was another technician who could have fixed the problem, but no one bothered to contact him. I also pointed out that the entire department had my mobile number (I had my mobile with me), and in an emergency, they *could* have contacted me, and I would have taken them through the process of fixing it.

He said "but you were on holiday". I answered, asking why no one had contacted the other technician, and pointed out that while I am happy to carry the can if I have failed in some way, I hadn't failed, I wasn't going to take the blame for someone else's failure. He did sort of apologise..

FTC bans 'brazen' stalkerware maker SpyFone, orders data deletion, alerts to victims

Stuart Castle Silver badge

RE: "I'm sorry, but how come this company has been operating for three years?"

Simple. They were probably very good at staying under the radar. A decent hacker can stay can stay in a system for months because they don't do anything that gets noticed.

Chinese developers protested insanely long work hours. Now the nation's courts agree

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Long hours <> productivity

When I was younger, I was happy to work all the hours needed to complete whatever project I was assigned to. I still am to some extent, often staying a little late if needed. Sadly I don't get paid overtime.

I would frequently work 12 hour days, sometimes being tired enough that I'd go straight home, have my evening meal then go to bed.

That, psychologically speaking, isn't good, IMO. II don't think I ever got a great night's sleep, as I wasn't really relaxed when I went to bed. Even if I work late now, I prefer to go home, spend an hour or two doing something I enjoy at home, then go to sleep.

One project I was involved in was setting up an exhibit for a local artist. She used our equipment and rooms, and I was providing equipment, technical support and some staff.

We worked from 9am to 9pm, 7 days a week for nearly three weeks. By the end of it, I could barely think, or even remember what day it ways, let alone do anything remotely productive.

As a thank you, the artist concerned, who had been apparently handsomely paid for this exhibit, made a big thing that we was taking all the staff out for a few drinks after the first day of the exhibit. I, and the technicians helping me, gratefully accepted the invitation, hoping she'd take us to the local pub, and say we could order whatever we wanted in reason. Most of us would have taken a pint of beer or lager.

Nope. She did take us to a local bar. The ponciest, most expensive bar in the area. She also insisted on ordering Gin and Tonics. Not being a fan of either Gin or Tonic, I downed mine, made my excuses and left. I only downed it because that drink was the closest the Artist came to actually saying "thanks", and I was damned if I was going to let her get away without showing some appreciation.

Anyway, I digress. I took a few days off because I don't think I would have been productive without being rested. There have been times since where I've had to work excessive hours for a few days, but I always try and take time off.

In fact, I would argue that any business that relies on it's staff doing that day to day isn't being run efficiently, because those staff probably aren't working to the best of their abilities.

Fix five days of server failure with this one weird trick

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Had a PC in one of our labs once that was new, and a powerful (for the time) machine. When placed under load, it would consistently bluescreen . As it was under warranty, the manufacturer came in and replaced the RAM (can't remember the blue screen error, but it was generally faulty RAM). It still bluescreened, so he replaced the CPUs. Still bluescreened. We went on for a few weeks, replacing things one by one until he'd replaced everything apart from the case and SATA cables, and it still blue screened. He replaced the SATA cable linking the motherboard to the primary hard drive, and the blue screens stops. The Engineer did try and blame our Windows image. We considered that might be at fault, but the same image was running on 9 other machines with identical specifications (same CPUs, same Motherboard, same RAM, same Graphics card and Hard drives), and none of them hand any problems. Something my boss pointed out when the manufacturer tried to blame our Windows image.

There never was any indication from Windows that this blue screen was anything other than a RAM or graphics card error.

30 years of Linux: OS was successful because of how it was licensed, says Red Hat

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Linux on the desktop

Re "The reason there are 200 Debian derivatives rather than 15 or so for Red Hat?"

I actually think that is the problem with Linux. Choice.

Don't get me wrong, choice is usually good, but when you hundreds of derivatives ,with little or nothing to distinguish them, it's hard to decide which to use. Certainly if your sole experience of computer is basic, such as maybe only having used Windows, and wanting to explore other options.

I think that's where the likes of Ubuntu, and even Raspian are good. They are both Debian derivatives, but are building brand recognition. They are both heading for the point where the average punter in the street who has a mild interest in computers (ie is a little interested in how they operate, rather than just using them as a device to do stuff on) will recognise the name. Ubuntu because Canonical have done an excellent job of marketing it, and Raspian because the Pi itself seems to generate a fair amount of publicity.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: licensing technology

I've seen many examples on various forums (here included) of people saying that Linux is inherently more secure than Microsoft. I've even been downvoted (and called a Microsoft fanboi) for suggesting that while Linux is secure, it's not invulnerable.

I am not judging Linux when I say that. I don't believe any software is invulnerable to those who are talented and motivated enough. That's just a fact of life. Nothing humans build is perfect.

Cloud load balancer snafu leads to 3D printer user printing on a stranger's kit

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re “ I was half expecting to find out that many 3D printers have strict DRM that connect to the vendors restriction servers”

Ahh, the unnecessary drm. Reminds me of a kickstarter project called “Juicero”. The project was essentially a Wi-Fi connected juice press that used its own bags of juice, each of which was rfid equipped (apparently this was so the company could ensure freshness). Iirc it was a subscription service and the user got so many bags a month..

Unnecessary drm. Us humans are perfectly capable of looking a a best before date. We don’t need to be told we can’t eat or drink something after that date.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Might not deter many hobbyists. What about companies who have bought their 3D printers so their designers can do test prints of things like product designs. A designer probably won’t have the knowledge required to muck around with pcbs.

Or even design schools buying 3D printers for student use. You really don’t want students messing around with things like that.

Hacking the computer with wirewraps and soldering irons: Just fix the issues as they come up, right?

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Wire-Wrap Gun?

Hands? Luxury.. I had to learn to manipulate my "hand" tool with Telekinesis..

Trust Facebook to find a way to make video conferencing more miserable and tedious

Stuart Castle Silver badge

First, before I post this, I have an Oculus Quest 2, and am happy to use it.

I don't think it's a good fit for most business though. Facebook's much touted business mode offers very limited multitasking , and can't currently multitask VR apps (surely the major reason one would buy a VR headeset). You can access your PC desktop, but while this is handy, it requires a specific logitech keyboard if you don't want to use the controllers to type.

This horizon thing is an interesting idea badly executed. I prefer in person meetings. Why? Because you can see how people are reacting to you, often including a lot of signals that are obvious in person and possibly wouldn't show up on a camera (things like the way they are sitting and whether they are tapping their feet or fingers). You may not even be aware you are noticing these signs.

Any kind of online meeting system (e.g. Teams) will hide most of those signals from you because they are probably occurring in a part of the other person's body that isn't on camera, and any noise they are making is probably filtered by the noise cancellation software.

The Oculus software goes one step further. From what I can tell, it hides the *entire* person from your view, not just their body. You have no idea what they are doing unless they are doing it with their hands.

Actually, I fail to see what value VR offers to meetings. If the graphics were good enough that if you (say) looked at a chair, and it looked like there was a person sitting in it, attending the meeting, that would be generally useful, and even cool. What facebook is offering is ,at best, a cartoon avatar for your. Can you imagine (say) standing up giving a presentation outlining the latest sales figures for whatever product to a bunch of cartoons?

So the data centre's 'getting a little hot' – at 57°C, that's quite the understatement

Stuart Castle Silver badge

A few years back, I was called by a friend to advise his bosses on providing live streaming. This was back in the early 2000s, so it wasn't as easy as it is now. I'd had some experience through researching it, and advising my own employer.

As part of the project, I'd been asked to put together a demo.

So, I met my friend at his office one hot Saturday morning. Made slightly worse by the fact that not only was I wearing a heavy suit (don't usually wear a suit for work), but I'd also been out for quite a heavy drinking session with the very same friend the night before, so we both had hangovers.

I turned up at his office, and he let me in. We went to the server room so I could work. The Air Con had failed. Not sure what the temperature was because the maximum reading on the Thermometer on the wall was 40 Celsius. The mercury just reached the top of the tube, quite a bit above the 40 degrees level. It was hot enough that half the servers in the server room had overheated and turned off. We couldn't restart the Air Con, so we went around the building, opening every window we could find and getting every fan we could find. We wedged the door to the server room open, and just pointed all the fans at the door, turning every one on.

As the room was far too hot for humans (even walking in there resulted in being sweaty), and too hot for the servers, we explained to the security guard what we had done, then went for a full irish breakfast at the local O' Neills, all on expenses. No alcohol though, we both needed clear heads.

After about an hour, the temperature was still well above 40 degrees, but had decreased enough that we could start to bring the servers back online. My friend logged an emergency call with the Air Conditioning engineer, but they clearly have a different definition of Emergency, and had no engineers available for a couple of days.

So, with the servers back online and running (if a little too hot for comfort), I was able to set up a demonstration system that merely took the output of a local TV station and streamed it on their local network.

My friend demonstrated this to his bosses the next week. While they were happy with what they saw, they had concerns with the delay between the broadcast and the stream. They ran a small Auction TV channel, so as far as they were concerned, any millisecond of delay was a potential lost sale. I tried to explain that those milliseconds were unavoidable latency in streaming (after all, it takes a finite amount of time to receive the signal, then encode and stream it), but ultimately they decided not to go ahead due to the latency.

Actually, ultimately, they went bankrupt, but that's by the by. I still got paid for a day's consultancy, and the resulting pay bought me a very nice monitor that I'd otherwise have been unable to afford, so I was happy, if extremely sweaty when I finished.

See that last line in the access list? Yeah, that means you don't have an access list

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re "

Anonymous Coward

I once had a director ask if the firewall was needed between the public facing web server and database server because "it slowed traffic down"..."

That's potentially a bit harsh. Unless they were a director of IT they wouldn't be expected to know much about network security, so may not be aware of the problems involved in enabling direct access to the database server via the web server.

If they were a director of IT, then fair enough, they should be aware of the security problems, but even then they can't be expected to know everything about their subject areas, often having to rely on their teams for the specifics.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

What monitoring do you do? Would you even be aware if your box was compromised? Bear in mind there are hackers that can gain access to systems and use it for months without flagging anything to the system admins.

Scalpel! Superglue! This mouse won't fix its own ball

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Ball crud

When I did student support, we'd frequently find someone had gone into one of the labs and removed several (or all) of the balls from the computer mice in that lab. As the mice were cheap, we just superglued the ball cover in place and replace them when needed. Not very environment friendly, but it was either that or explain to the lecturer who had booked the lab why their students could not use the mice.

The funny thing is that every student we caught doing this appeared to think they were the first. We were dealing with this regularly.

Wireless powersats promise clean, permanent, abundant energy. Sound familiar?

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Oh look. Another "new tech" that will be undoubtedly presented with the aide of a professionally produced video, possibly with state of the art graphics to a few venture capitalists, eventually producing nothing because what they are offering is not possible, but they'll only discover that by either reading some physics books or spending tens (if not hundreds) of millions on development. It will undoubtedly be supported by a group of fans who fall in love with the idea, and will defend it vigorously, frequently decrying those who just want to see a bit of evidence it works as "haters" or luddites who object to or are frightened of new technology.

See Solar Roads, Batteriser (a product that was supposed to drain batteries more efficiently, thus getting more life out of them) and hyperloop as technologies that, IMO, will ultimately fail, and (again) IMO, are designed purely to attract investment rather than produce anything useful.

I am one of those who want to see evidence that new technology works, but am frequently dismissed by fanbois as some sort of luddite. I really am not.

.

Elementary OS 6 Odin released on a 'pay what you want' basis

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re "

Bullshit. Some of us use the Terminal on Macs to install lots of stuff. It is, after all, a UNIX box, and there are lots of UNIX command line tools out there."

I think you are missing the point. I don't think the original author meant all macOS users, just the less technical ones. The less technical users often aren't even *aware* of the terminal, let alone use it regularly. Show them a command line and they are likely to get a little confused. You or I might understand that we need to type "sudo apt install libre-office" or "brew install libre-office" (note: I haven't checked if libre office is available from either apt or brew), but the average user won't. They need guidance. One good way to do that is an app store, whether it's from Apple, Google, Microsoft or any of the Linux app stores. That said, my experience of Linux app stores is Ubuntu's Software Center, which is essentially a barely functional GUI running apt commands.

If Linux is to compete in the consumer world (and to some extent the non technical parts of the business world), it needs to be easy to use. It needs to be easy to install software on, and basic use (including installing software) should not involve any command line work, although that should be an option. This is how both macOS and Windows work. For basic use, you don't generally need the command line on either.

I'm going to spin up an Elementary OS 6 VM later, as I am curious to see if this distro attains that goal.

US 'dropped the ball' on security by going it alone claims Huawei US CSO

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Oh, shut up.

It is absolutely correct that you cannot trust anyone implicitly. That applies whether dealing with Huawei, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia or any company.

While I don't trust Huawei, I feel that bearing in mind the seeming lax attitude to security displayed by the Trump admininstration generally, this apparent tough stance on a Chinese company was all designed so Trump would appear to be tough. I suspect he didn't even care which company he was tough on. I think he did want to appear particularly tough on the Chinese though, hence the other tariffs,

I have to admit, I do trust Huawei less than I do the other companies. The Chinese government do not have a good record when it comes to things like privacy, or human rights.

Breaking Bad or just a bad breakpoint? That feeling when your predecessor is BASIC

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Not, strictly speaking, fixing someone else’s problem, but a few years ago, when I was doing tech support in a computer lab, I got a user coming in asking about a problem with PowerPoint. I asked her to show me the problem, so she took me to the computer she was logged into. In a lab, over the other side of the building, supported by another team. She said they’d asked her to come see me (specifically).

Not being happy that someone had assigned me some of their work, I walked into their office asking why this user had been sent to me. The team manager explained that the user had asked about “multimedia” (they counted PowerPoint as multimedia) and as my job had “media” in the title, they assumed it was my responsibility. I pointed out the PowerPoint is part of Microsoft Office, something *they* were responsible for. The manager apologised, and took charge of supporting the user. Apparently their reason for assuming I was responsible for supporting PowerPoint? The fact it could play audio and video. Something which even then, most windows applications could.

THX Onyx: A do-it-all DAC for the travelling audiophile

Stuart Castle Silver badge

RE: Glad to see they've adopted the Adobe pricing scheme (cross out the $ and replace with a £)

While there is a lot you can blame Adobe for (and supporting their products professionally, I can vouch for that), they aren't the only people who charge the same in pounds as they do dollars. They aren't even the first, merely a large player in a crowd of companies who do it.

Still sucks though.

Google: Linux kernel and its toolchains are underinvested by at least 100 engineers

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Fool

Re: Some companies (or rather, some managers) have the mentality that open source = nobody to blame when it goes wrong, so they avoid it altogether and go for a proprietary black-box solution which is LESS secure/stable, but they can point the finger of blame at someone else when it goes wrong.

Actually, the company I work for prefers to use bought in solutions (even if they use Open Source) for a simple reason. Not only do they have a defined person or organisation to take action against if the system should fail, but because they've bought in something, the law offers various protections in the event that the system fails in some way.

If they've bought the software, the same applies. If they haven't, they have some protection given by the fact they paid for a service, but that service provide can legitimately argue they are not liable for bugs in the software. When a company is potentially spending thousands on a new system, they are likely to want all the protection they can get.

I'm no lawyer, so I could be wrong, but that's my understanding of the system.

The other thing is what guarantees of continuity of service do they have? When specifying a new system, you don't want to go to all the effort of designing, testing and installing it, only to find development of some core component is abandoned a year or two after you start using it. Admittedly, that won't happen to Linux anytime soon, but I've pushed Open Source as much as I can, and this has happened to me a few times. Enough that any time I try and introduce Open Source into a new project, it's bought up. Generally, if you are paying Enterprise prices for software, you get reasonable warning if they are going to shut down development.

Microsoft to require proof of vaccination from on-site staff, pushes back full reopening

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re :"Perhaps the official sky fairy apps will get an update with a QR code generator?"

You might want to change the link for the word Fairy. At the time I wrote this, it points to the official Mecca Bingo app, unless people do actually pray to the Bingo gods..

Microsoft's Cloud PCs debut – priced between $20 and $158 a month

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Even MORE RANSOMWARE !

Re: "Defection from Redmond based offerings will be rife... Just as soon as the computing population realises there are alternatives that cost NOTHING ! and run as well, if not better..."

I'd argue that the computing population is largely aware there are alternatives that cost nothing. Most of the population, rightly or wrong, don't care what OS their device is running as long as it runs the software they want relatively reliably and with minimal effort. They certainly won't want to have to download an Operating system, install it, set it up, find equivalents to the software they want to use (if what they want to use isn't available), and set that up.

As for Windows not being secure enough, I think you are going back a couple of decades.. Windows in 2001 wasn't secure, and the situation didn't really improve until halfway through the Vista development cycle, when Microsoft, being stung by hundreds of new vulns a week in XP, hired a proper security team, who went through most of their code looking for vulns.

Windows still has it's problems, but it *is* a lot more secure now than it was. Linux is, IMO, inherently more secure than Windows, even now, but it's not infallible. Nothing is. It's worth remembering that it being Open Source does NOT mean it's more secure, because it's entirely possible that someone will upload bad code into the repo for an open source project, and it gets missed by other maintainers, and it's also possible a security issue gets missed because there are only a few maintainers for the project, and they were all busy elsewhere. This happened with Open SSH a few years ago.

As for firmware level security, I think that will inevitably come to any OS, because there are trojans that can run at a lower level than the OS, thus hiding themselves from any detection systems run on the OS.

Amazon sets the date for televised return to Middle Earth: September 2022

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Production subsidies ?!?

Re:"What a joke. As if anything concerning Middle Earth would be filmed anywhere else. New Zealand just screwed itself for $100M+."

Not sure I entirely agree with that. LOTR is likely to bring a lot more that $100M in tourism alone. It will also provide a lot of jobs for the locals. Both things any reasonably competent government would want. These jobs can bring stability to an area for years. I believe the Irish government made about £60m a year from the Game of Thrones filming. That's not an amount to be sniffed at, even for a government.

LOTR could easily be filmed elsewhere. If they want the stunning vistas and views of Middle Earth, they could send a couple of camera operators over there for a few weeks, then film the entire series on a Hollywood backlot, compositing in the footage of NZ as and when needed. At a pinch, they could recreate the entire landscape using CGI.

The film producers have been doing this for years. Usually it's if a TV show needs to visit another country for one or two episodes, the budget probably wouldn't stretch to sending out an entire crew to another country for a week or two.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Production subsidies ?!?

Billionaires don't get to be billionaires by paying for stuff they can get others to.

Trump for instance, could have financed his own campaigns entirely, this making himself a truly independent candidate. He didn't. He sought donations, and pretended to be independent. Now while I don't believe he is as wealthy as he likes us to think, he is probably wealthy enough to afford to do that.

Right to repair shouldn't exist – not because it's wrong but because it's so obviously right

Stuart Castle Silver badge

You are right, the problem is availability of parts. It may be possible to nick some parts from a 2nd non working device of the same make/model, although this can work out quite expensive. It's also possible that it won't work anyway, particularly if the part requires some sort of key or serial number to be reported. I believe the Xbox drives (blu ray and onboard storage) do this: The motherboard will only work with the parts with the specific serial numbers it was manufactured with.

Undebug my heart: Using Cisco's IOS to take down capitalism – accidentally

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: "he had clearly accidentally fired off every possible debug command at once"

I have done Cisco training, but thankfully, don't use iOS day to day, and, as a result, don't have admin access to our Cisco switches at work, so couldn't do any damage even if I wanted to. Not that I do.

I remember the days well. Entering a whole load of commands, only to find you have missed one, and as a result, changed a whole load of configuration options you shouldn't have, and quite possibly taken out a large chunk of the network..

Windows 11 comes bearing THAAS, Trojan Horse as a service

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: "hat couldn't have happened under other owners"

RE: Anyway the fact that Microsoft can fail doesn't mean it won't attempt it - just look at Google's failures, it's not that they didn't attempt...

Microsoft have a long track record of trying a lot of things, and failing at some. Look at Zune, Windows Phone and Courier.

Zune was particularly impressive because, despite being experienced in almost everything required to implement a music player, and despite spending (apparently) $1bn on Zune, Microsoft failed.

Exsparko-destructus! What happens when wand waving meets extremely poor wiring

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Years back, when I were a strip of a lad, our “server room”

was a long bench on my office wall. Taking advantage of the fact my boss was away, I bought in my pocket cd Walkman and power adapter, with the idea being to have music all day.

The problem was that the circuit that side of the room was overloaded, and me plugging my CD player in was the straw that broke the camels back.

The circuit tripped, everything that wasn’t ups protected (which was most of the equipment, bar a couple of servers) switched off and the ups went mad.

Thankfully, I got everything working, but could not reset the alarm on the ups . So, instead of pleasing music, I got a tortuous alarm sound ..

Is it broken yet? Is it? Is it? Ooh that means I can buy a sparkly, new but otherwise hard-to-justify replacement!

Stuart Castle Silver badge

I’ve got an lg tv that occasionally refuses to connect to other hdmi devices. The annoying thing is it rarely does it when an engineer is watching. Pretty much everything has been replaced. I have a TiVo, xbox and Apple TV connected. The TiVo and xbox got upgraded. The Apple TV was replaced because I thought at first that that had failed. The old Apple TV is working fine on another tv.

The cables have also been replaced, and the one engineer that did witness the problems did replace pretty much all of the circuitry of the tv.

It still doesn’t work properly, Although it glitches a lot less now.

Tempted to buy a new tv, but can’t afford the thousands required for a decent one..

UK celebrates 25 years of wasteful, 'underperforming' government IT projects

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Never worked on a government IT project before, but remember a story my old lecturer told me. She also ran an it consultancy, and was called in by Southwark council to fix their housing system. She saw the manager who showed off the system proudly, but needed to fid out what was wrong, so asked to speak to a few users. Nearly every user had switched the terminal they had off because the new system was so badly designed the users had gone back to the old one. One user was even using the terminal as a door stop.

Northern Train's ticketing system out to lunch as ransomware attack shuts down servers

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: A quick fix

Ahh, the old days. I remember season ticket days, particularly the first few days after new year, when you could pretty much guarantee that the queue for the one ticket window in my local station would snake to the other end of the station, then out the door and half way up the road outside. You could be queuing for a couple of hours.

On a related note, I remember when I was a student, I was just buying a ticket home from one of my lectures. There was, as always, a queue at the window. When I got near the window, the guy in front of me actually did ask the person to sell him a ticket that would get him from Lands end to John O' Groats,and to list every step of the journey. I was there for over half an hour while the Customer Service person was looking up various trains.

England's controversial extraction of personal medical histories from GP systems is delayed for a second time

Stuart Castle Silver badge

OK, I've said this before, and I'll say it again.

NHS Digital need to be totally transparent about this. They also need to establish limits on what is done with the data, and be open about what will be done. Even to the point of taking out adverts in the media. They also need to give people reasonable notice, so they can opt out for whatever reason they wish.

I would prefer something like this be opt in, but I can understand they may not get enough data this way,

Try placing a pot plant directly above your CRT monitor – it really ties the desk together

Stuart Castle Silver badge

One of our old users had his own office. It was small, and in summer, could get rather hot. Never found out what he did in his office, but it always smelled of baking bread. Not a nice, oven just warming up the bread kind of smell, but an overpowering smell that made most people (me included) gag.

Anyhoo, I can't recall any specific problems this user had, but the guy in the office next to him. I have some memories of him..

One day, I got a phone call. He'd been trying to watch a video and Windows couldn't detect his sound card. I got called in to diagnose it, and following proper static procedure, I went down with the wrist strap, my tools and a new sound card.

The machine was a tower, and lived on the floor. I dread to think what it looked like, but one of the secretaries walked in, saw me laying on my back apparently tied to the PC via a metal cable, and the user standing over me. She left.... Quickly.

Researchers warn of unpatched remote code execution flaws in Schneider Electric industrial gear

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: air gap - Air Gap - AIR GAP

This is the problem. It is cheaper to have some technician (probably in a call center somewhere) connect to the machine remotely rather than drive to the machine, and fix it.

The trouble is, they like to keep costs low. They can look at the balance sheet and see that an engineer costs a lot more per hour to come out, than they do to log on remotely. The costs of the potential security vulnerabilities opened up by allowing remote access cannot easily be quantified. Even if they can, they may well be dismissed as unlikely to happen, or guess work by the beancounters. In short, while a breach can potentially cause problems, the costs of those problems can be dismissed as guess work, while the costs of the Engineer visit are fact.

I don't agree with that assessment. The consequences for a breach can be disastrous for a company, it's employees and customers, and I'd rather see them pay out for the odd Engineer visit than risk, say, half their customers losing power.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Backward compatibility

A lot of establishments do this. I know someone who worked for a rather large organisation dealing with classified data. They had several computers in the office, but only one had any internet access, and that was never used for classified data. The computers with access to the classified data were connected to a network that had no connection to the internet.

One good deed leads to a storm in an Exchange Server

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Lucas

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying in the above post that I think he's done anything malicious (he might have, but I wouldn't know and the article doesn't say), but he may have just been a little enthusiastic. I've met plenty of young technicians who are enthusiastic and sometimes go way over the top in an effort to help. This might be just that.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Lucas

My thoughts exactly. While this may have been part of a sequence of problems that ultimately led to him being let go, I don't think it was the only cause. If it had, he would have been let go a few days after the incident, if not immediately. After all, a lot of companies would not be happy with someone sending potentially thousands of potentially confidential emails to an outside email address.

Big Blue's big email blues signal terminal decline – unless it learns to migrate itself

Stuart Castle Silver badge

This is embarrassing for IBM because they do this sort of thing for clients. If they can't get their own system(s) working properly, what hope have they got persuading clients they should be left in charge of implementing systems for clients.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: IBM has one chance of salvation: to migrate back to engineering

Too many companies have done that. After all, the old ways, while they often work, aren't exciting and new. Especially if you can offload the costs of staff to maintain them.

We have an entire Rail industry that is apparently suffering because the rail companies, when they took over the various pieces of the infrastructure, got rid of those with the expertise required to maintain that infrastructure, often having to bring them back as 'consultants', when that equipment went wrong. Thus arguably paying far more than they would have paid had they kept the staff on site.

The old ways often aren't the best, even if they were the best way when the company started out. Requirements do change. But we are often too quick to throw out the old ways, because they aren't exciting.

Go to L: A man of the cloth faces keyboard conundrum

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Keys

Whenever I've dealt with anything engineered by IBM, I've always found the engineering excellent. The design and layout is sometimes a little odd though, but I think that was just IBM being IBM..

I've never dealt with an IBM Mainframe, but I've used a few of their PCs, going back to the original IBM PC. In fact, I learned database management on an IBM PC (no XT or AT) running dBase II. I've also used various XTs, ATs and PS2s, as well as more modern equipment. I've always felt like any IBM computer I was using could probably survive well in a warzone, assuming there was power available..

London Greenwich station: A reminder of former glories. Like Windows XP

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: How much longer will we have to endure this ?

In fairness, that error can indicate a hardware failure, or memory leak.

Linux is, no doubt, better protected against memory leaks, but it's not invulnerable to them, and unless you are running on enterprise grade hardware, with lots of redundancy (unlikely in this case), any OS is vulnerable to hardware failures.

If this is a memory leak, all it likely needs is someone to hit "reset". South Eastern, National Rail or whoever manages the computer should really upgrade though. Not good to be running XP, especially as the system really needs to be connected to a network. Not good to connect XP to a network, even if the network itself is well protected.

Windows 11: Meet the new OS, same as the old OS (or close enough)

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Of course a major driver is Marketing, However, Microsoft have been effectively using version numbers again for a long time. They've just been doing what Apple did with osx and requiring a specific update version. The trouble is, for the user at least, it can be quite confusing remembering which specific version is required. Is it 1803? Is it 1909? Or is it 20h2? Much easier to say "Windows 11 is required", at least until Windows 11 22H1 arrives. The difference between what Microsoft have been doing, and what Apple have been doing is that Apple have been using names, which is theoretically easier (that said, it can be difficult even for a pro to remember which came first, High Sierra or Mojave).

Wonder if Microsoft's rumoured decision to launch Windows 11 is anything to do with the fact that Big Sur is macOS 11? After all, to the uninitiated, this would appear that macOS is more advanced.

One thing I wish they'd do. Remove the Advertising telemetry, even if that does mean charging for Windows 11.

A hotline to His Billness? Or a guard having a bit of a giggle?

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Never knowingly been in conversation with the CEO of a major company. Watched a few from the audience in conference presentations, but that's the nearest I've got.

I have, however, had direct contact with the team maintaining the help system in Photoshop 6, when I reported that in our deployed install (deployed using the standard Photoshop installer with relevant config file), pressing F1 consistently failed to display anything (it was supposed to display the help page). When I reported this, I got an email from the team asking how to produce the problem. By then , the answer was simple, as 'F1' wasn't working with the standard installer either, so I just told them to run the installer with the default options. I also provided the requested System Info. In the mean time, I adjusted the deployment we were using to include a shortcut to the help (which was just a series of HTML pages stored locally). Not sure what the problem with Photoshop 6 was, but it was fixed in Photoshop 7, so I like to think I contributed to that.

I have also had responses from two Apple development teams when I submitted bugs on their forums. The Remote Desktop team emailed me when I reported trouble adding machines to the system, and the iOS team responded when I reported repeated crashes and powerdrains on my iPad on ios 13. Even though Apple Support hadn't spotted this, it turned out the problem was a faulty iPad, and they advised I send it off for repair.

Global Fastly outage takes down many on the wibbly web – but El Reg remains standing

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Yeah, came here to ask the same thing.

re: "Their communications were rather _terse_ weren't they? I'd say based on the example I have seen from here and elsewhere they were so light on detail as to be almost useless."

I suspect their comms were aimed at the customer, who, when it comes down to it, probably just wants their website to work, not really caring about the details behind it. Also, they may not want the customer to know the technical details of their operations.

We don't use Fastly directly, but a few of the sites and systems we use do rely on it. While our systems techs wanted to know the ins and outs of why and how it happened (although I am unsure if they got it), the management wanted to know when it was fixed, so they could send out comms to the users to that effect.

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