* Posts by Stuart Castle

1076 posts • joined 19 Jun 2007


Alibaba wants to get you off the PC upgrade treadmill and into its cloud

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: The "PC upgrade treadmill"? I didn't notice.

It's perfectly possible to use Windows long term without being stuck on an "upgrade treadmill". At work, we have PCs that are up to about 8 years old that do a good job of running Windows 10. But because we have thousands of PCs, we also have a complete infrastructure dedicated to deploying and maintaining them. I primarily use Macs, but have a Windows PC (primarily for gaming, but also for home working). While I recently spent a lot of money rebuilding it from the ground up, the PC I built from the old parts (which are about 4 or 5 years old now) still do a sterling job of running Windows, and a good job of running most games. No real treadmill, either on the macOS or Windows side.

But I agree with your comments about thin clients from the home. As with you, my home setup is still functional (even for some home working purposes) even if my internet connection dies for a few days. Even when the home broadband failed due to a network fault a couple of days ago, I was able to do some home working. I got complaints from the other people in my house, but that would happen anyway.

If I had been using a thin client, I would have not been able to do anything. Even if the connection hadn't failed, there would be miles of cable, and potentially dozens of items of equipment between me and the computer running my software. Any bit of which could fail. Even if that doesn't happen, my cloud service provider could choose to stop my service, or be forced to (maybe by bankruptcy). My computer is a self build job, with parts from multiple manufacturers. Even if something happened that took out every manufacturer, and even my ISP, my computer would still be functional.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: so, a 'Network Computer'?

You bet there is Prior art.

People were using dumb terminals hooked up to mainframes (which is essentially what this is, but with prettier graphics) back in the 60s. For instance, a lot of IBM customers were using IBM 2260s in 1964.

Woman dies after hospital is unable to treat her during crippling ransomware infection, cops launch probe

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Why?

Personally, I am surprised that the ER was unable to function on at least a basic level, it's worth remembering that, for instance, patient records in a lot of hospitals is entirely stored digitally. That might not sound that important, but bear in mind your patient record will include your health records, and, if you have any know allergies, will contain details of them. Important if your allergy is to certain drugs because if you are allergic to the drug they prescribe for you, it will likely kill you.

Behold the Bloo Screen of Death: Bathroom borkage stops spray play

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Same here..

I know where Blackpool is and am vaguely aware of Southport, but couldn't point it out on a map.

Who cares what Apple's about to announce? It owes us a macOS x86 virtual appliance for non-Mac computers

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Industry Standards

RE: I think the writer of the above does not understand industry standards. Industry standards are not whatever is most widely used. Industry standards are data layouts and protocols for interoperation so that there is as little lock in as possible.

Actually, no. While it is important to have defined standards and protocols to ensure that equipment from different manufacturers works together, Industry Standard in this context means what the Industry uses.

For instance, in media, arguably the standard video editing software packages are Apple's Final Cut, Adobe's Premiere Pro and Avid's Media Composer. These are industry standards.

Arguably, for a long time, Internet Explorer was an industry standard, despite it actually working against the agreed web standards.. This was purely because of the amount of users..

That long-awaited, super-hyped Apple launch: Watches, iPads... and one more thing. Oh, actually that's it

Stuart Castle Silver badge

I'd like to see Touch ID come back, at least as an option.

Note that I do actually like Face ID, and the apparently much reveled notch on my iPhone XS Max really doesn't bother me, but with the current need for masks, and bearing in mind that I think mask wearing is something that isn't going to go away. for a long time, I think all mobile companies need to re-evaluate the use of face recognition., with a view to possibly going back to the Fingerprint recognition.

The power of Bill compels you: A server room possessed by a Microsoft-hating, Linux-loving Demon

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: I once destroyed the internet.

Re “ *And the fact that yet again one bloke is able to defeat a group of well trained well armed terrorists on his own”

That’s the thing with action shows/films. You can have something accurate or something exciting. You can sometimes have something that is both, but this is rare.

I remember reading that a real life spy said that if any spy become as famous as James Bond (he is famous, even within the story as the villain always seems to know him), no matter how good he was, he would be dead within a week..

Apple to Epic: Sue me? No, sue you, pal!

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Hot tip for gamblers

Epic are probably not doing this for customers, or other developers.

I found it interesting to read a few weeks ago that Epic's ultimate goal is to open another app store on iOS.

I'm not sure that is a good thing. Through their apparently rigorous checking, they've kept iOS relatively virus free. Certainly when compared to Android. Yes, I can install anti virus on my phone, but while I am happy to have an anti virus running on my computer (whatever the OS it's running), my computer has enough power available that the Anti Virus really doesn't slow it down much, or use enough battery power for me to notice. Neither is true for a phone, where resources are far more limited.

Also, are multiple app stores good for the consumer? People often say that more stores means cheaper products. In general this is true, but I'm an active PC gamer. Have been since the late 90s. I paid between 30 and 40 pounds for a AAA game then, and even with access to steam, Epic Store, Gog, Battle.NET and various other app stores, I'm still paying 40 pounds or more for a AAA game. Yes, older games are sometimes heavily discounted (especially on GOG), but they were before all these app stores appeared. In short, a greater number of suppliers arguably has NOT reduced PC game prices.

Don't get me wrong: I buy from all of those stores, but it also means I have to have multiple app store clients on my PC, which, TBH, is a waste of resources.

Brexit border-line issues: Would you want to still be 'testing' software designed to stop Kent becoming a massive lorry park come 31 December?

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Not a problem at all ...

Re: OK, a lot might be proprietary, but surely there's some COTS packages out there already..

While I suspect you are right in that there are systems that can be purchased almost off the shelf, and all customs systems operate on basically the same principles, there are massive differences between different systems that likely need massive changes to existing software. Those changes take time, and need testing, which also takes time.

Digital pregnancy testing sticks turn out to have very analogue internals when it comes to getting results

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Wastful - but unfortunaltly not uncommon

I would argue that although there are problems (e.g. ensuring the unit is clean while removing the wet strip, and also ensuring the lines line up with the sensors as said above), I think given time and money, they could be resolved. I think the reason they haven't is profit. Even assuming they came up with some sort of cartridge system (which I suspect they would have to to solve the alignment problem), I doubt the profit margin on the cartridges would be high enough to justify the research. Especially when they can sell these single use devices for much more. Bear in mind that most women probably won't get pregnant or think they are often enough to justify the cost of buying a reusable pregnancy testing kit.

Not saying these kits are good. They have their uses, but environmentally, single use electronics should be actively discouraged wherever possible.

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

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: installing discipline in the senders of email, that is a wholly different matter...

One thing I like about exchange is that a lot of the filters can be run server side. Our systems team have locked the server down enough that the users effectively need to use outlook (not my decision), but even with being restricted to using outlook, I still have the advantage I don't have to recreate dozens of rules on each install..

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: installing discipline in the senders of email, that is a wholly different matter...

This is what I have done. At least while at work. I check emails a couple of times each day. While it doesn't seem to happen much now, with nearly every user working remotely, we used to have a lot of all staff emails, and in some cases, those who responded would reply all. This meant about 90% of the emails I got were noise to me. That's a lot of noise when you get 200 emails a day. Thankfully, since we started using Yammer, that chat has moved, and I rarely (if ever) check Yammer..

Unexpected victory in bagging area: Apple must pay shop workers for time they spend waiting to get frisked

Stuart Castle Silver badge

While I do support Apple's right to require bag searches (otherwise it may be easy for a member of staff to leave with goods that are worth a lot, and with the best will in the world, people do nick stuff), if Apple are going to require bag searches, they *should* pay their staff for the extra time. If the searches are taking a long time, they need to investigate why and how to solve that, not just expect the staff to hang around for free..

Zuck says Facebook made an 'operational mistake' in not taking down US militia page mid-protests. TBH the whole social network is a mistake

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Won't work. Something else will spring up to take it's place. Perhaps Parker, which is being actively pushed by right wingers for it's lack of censorship.

That something may not be so easily monitored as Facebook.

Techie studied ancient ways of iSeries machine, saved day when user unleashed eldritch powers, got £50 gift voucher

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: However, he also got a reputation...

The people in my team, and also another team that works so closely with us that we are almost the same team, all have my mobile number. Certain other colleagues outside those teams also have my number.

A few years ago, one of our users phoned me on my mobile, while I was at lunch. He said he had an urgent problem. I listened to the problem, told him the other technicians would be able to resolve it, and that I was at lunch. He said sorry, and I asked where he got the number. One of the other technicians gave it to him. Not surprisingly, I was rather angry. I went back to the office, and told the technician in no uncertain terms that it was my mobile number. I paid for it, and I felt if the company wanted me to provide support over a mobile phone, they should provide that phone.

He also apologised.

Adobe yanks freebie Creative Cloud offer – now universities and colleges have to put up or shut up

Stuart Castle Silver badge

I like the way the photo for this article on el reg's main page is a couple of girls (presumably students) looking pissed off at a laptop (presumably running Adobe software). I've spent many years supporting Adobe software (thankfully not so much now), and spent a lot of time seeing students looking pissed off at a computer running Adobe software, so this brings back memories.

Huawei mobile mast installed next to secret MI5 data centre in London has 7 years to do whatever it is Huawei does

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Agreed. If the equipment inside the data centre can be compromised merely by sticking something outside the data centre, someone has done something badly wrong in the design. At the very least, I would have thought the data centre would built with something like a faraday cage (maybe in the structure of the walls) to prevent EM radiation.

Epic move: Judge says Apple can't revoke Unreal Engine dev tools, asks 'Where does the 30 per cent come from?'

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Switching to Android

You have proof that Apple is snooping? The reason I ask is that Apple have been very vocal about their privacy options that they'd likely destroy any reputation they have if they were caught snooping, and I'd wager there are enough hackers who hate Apple that any attempt at data slurping would be leaked all over the internet.

Unexpected Porthcawl in the borkage area: Riding an indoor Power Truck to nowhere

Stuart Castle Silver badge

I follow a few companies who restore old arcade games on YouTube. The pc based arcade games tend to have very tightly defined specs (in some cases even limited to a specific revision of given hardware items). Thus the software can be much better optimised than on a standard pc, where it might have to cope with tens of millions of combinations of hardware.

Alright! Who's stoked for Windows 10 20H2? Anyone? Well, it's ready for commercial pre-release validation anyway

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Time for another 6 hours of lost computer time

Ideally, Microsoft and Apple would slow their release schedule for new OSes to a sensible pace (perhaps one major version every two to three years). I've not included Linux because most distros seem to follow a sensible release schedule. Unfortunately, the current development trend, which seems to have been largely instigated by Google seems to have force both Apple and Microsoft to increase their OS release cycle to one major update a year with minor updates more regularly (in the case of Apple, every 6-8 weeks).

I feel a slower release cycle would enable the vendor to get rid of more bugs BEFORE release, not after.

These bugs need to be fixed, which leads to a problem. Do Apple and Microsoft release potentially dozens of patches each fixing a few bugs, but has little risk of breaking something else, or do they bunch together the fixes in one (or more) larger patches that fix dozens of bugs, but slow the install, and introduce the potential to break other stuff.

That said, I think if a machine is taking 6 hours to patch ANY OS, there is a problem with the install. I just did a fresh install of Windows 10 1809 on a VM. I kept the VM off the network while installing, because I didn't want it to install any updates before I could time it. It took 43 minutes to get this fresh install of windows 10 to the point where it had installed all updates. This included a feature update to 1909.

Eagle-on-EGLE* violence: American icon sends govt-flown drone hurtling into the waters of Lake Michigan

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Probably, but recently it’s seemed like his problems are with Huawei and Tiktok specifically. Unless DJI has found a way to use a drone to fuck up a Trump

Rally or take the piss out of him..

Anti-5G-vaxx pressure group sues Zuckerberg, Facebook, fact checkers for daring to suggest it might be wrong

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Conspiracy theorists

I find it amazing that there are people who are sometimes quite intelligent and quite capable of detailed research, and are happy to dismiss most of what they are told as at least dubious (which is a good way to be, sceptical but with an open mind), are quite happy to believe some random bloke, whose intentions they don’t really know, because he says something they agree with.

Like that Andrew Wakefield. People are happy to believe a man whose entire income is derived from persuading as many people possible that vaccines are bad, rather than doctors and other experts who generally don’t make any more money if they persuade you to have vaccines. Not say that big pharma is working for the good of people. It isn’t. It is working for profit. It’s just vaccines aren’t big pharma’s only source of income.

Just got to work out who profits out of the 5g theories..

Norfolk's second-greatest cultural export set for return with 3-metre monument in honour of the Turkey Twizzler

Stuart Castle Silver badge

I rate them about as highly as I do Sunny D. I have to admit, I used to love the flavour of Sunny D, but was put off when I was eating lunch with a friend from work. We were sitting on the grass, and he poured some of his Sunny Delight on the lawn. It was still there, in a puddle, sitting on top of the grass in much the same way oil sits on water, when we left.

How do you feel about single-use plastics? OK, interesting. Now tell us your views on surprise Windows updates

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: This update could take a while

Well, my normal reason for things like this using Windows is that products like System Center make it relatively easy to manage a fleet of machines, whether that fleet is a few hundred or a few million.

That's not to say that given a similar management system, that I don't think it would be more logical to stick a SBC (be it a PI, Jetson or whatever) in the back of a large screen and deploy that. In fact, I believe NEC do a nice looking range of screens that you can plug a PI Zero into.

That said, the fact they clearly haven't attempted to control Windows Updates makes me wonder if they haven't just bunged a spare machjine in there that isn't being managed.

You weren't hacked because you lacked space-age network defenses. Nor because cyber-gurus picked on you. It's far simpler than that

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Too hard, too frequent, too unreliable

2 (or more) sets of machines is a good idea. The trouble comes when you need to upgrade or replace one set and the beancounters notice that the system only switched to that set once or twice in the year.

You can bet if that happens, they’ll be asking why you need the machines.

You can usually persuade them by telling a horror story about what would happen if the only machine left running the system failed..

America's largest radio telescope blind after falling cable slashes 100-foot gash in reflector dish

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: I saw a different headline

I went to /. for the first time in nearly 10 years the other day. While it was nice to go back, not sure I’ll be doing so again anytime soon..

Can't decide which OS to run today? Why not Linux inside Windows inside macOS?

Stuart Castle Silver badge

I have a Mac laptop. It did have VMware fusion on it. Thanks to work, I had a fully licensed copy of all the VMware software, so I downloaded vsphere. Installed it on a VM within fusion, then spun up a VM within vsphere , and installed Windows 10 on it. As the laptop only had an i5 with 8 gig of ram, I couldn’t go too far into my virtual machine version of inception, as I ran out of ram, and even without the ram problem, the laptop was struggling a bit.

Still, it achieved the aim. I got knowledge of administering virtual machines on a vsphere system, without me having to ask for access to one of the vsphere clusters we have at work, which would have probably been refused.

Uncle Sam says it's perfecting autonomous AI-powered drone, vehicle swarms to 'dominate' battlefields

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Wow...

Perhaps not luddites. Perhaps people who have more than the average person's knowledge of the subject, and, as a result, are a little concerned that the Pentagon is rushing to build killer robots?

Just like when you 'game over' two seconds into a new level... Facebook launches Gaming app without games on iOS

Stuart Castle Silver badge

I am not defending what Apple are doing, just pointing out that there are alternatives. The situation with Windows is, IMO, slightly different. Windows was installed on most computers. I would argue that although devices running Android/iOS and compuiters running Linux (all flavours) and macOS have made huge inroads into the market, if you walk up to a strange PC and use it, the chances are you will be using some version of Windows. The problem came because while Microsoft never stopped you using other browsers, they did everything they could to ensure that as many people as possible used Internet Explorer, including trying to get technologies introduced server side that required both Windows and IE, because they required active x controls installed on the client computer, and the only browser that supported Active X was IE on Windows. While the Opera/EU vs Microsoft case was about installing browsers, it's telling that about the time this all happened, Microsoft started to reduce the reliance on particular browsers, and proprietary plug ins. I've never read the case, but I wonder if that was part of the settlement. It would certainly be in keeping with the


Apple, aren't angels. They are perfectly capable of pulling the same sort of shit that Microsoft are. TBH, I think they are being anti competitive here by blocking services that compete with Apple Arcade . However, I would argue they are wrong. I would argue that Apple Arcade and Stadia/xcloud are aimed at different audiences as mobile gaming tends to be a more casual "pick it up, play' it, put it down kind of experience. Someone who is only interested in picking up a game on the train, playing it for a few minutes then doing something else isn't likely to be interested in paying over 10 pounds a month to play AAA console games. This is also one reason why I believe that cloud gaming services such as Stadia and Xcloud won't be as successful as people think.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Apple don’t specify that you can’t sell via other app stores. Nothing stopping you selling via the various android app stores, steam, epic games or any App Store you care to name. The only requirement is if you sell to iOS users , you sell via the App Store.

Transport for London asks Capita to fling Congestion Charge system into the cloud

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: To be honest...

As said above, Oyster does work, mostly. Whoever designed the system did a good job,

It's not perfect, but it reliably handles hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of journeys a day.

If I had a pick faults, it would be that the cards themselves can be a little unreliable, (been using Oyster for ten years, and had dozens of cards just fail on me, and even my current card doesn't show up as being properly registered to my account, despite TFL assuring me it is).

Another thing I'd like to see is the ability to update my card via the iPhone app. The new versions of the Southern and Southeastern apps can upload tickets bought online to their cards via NFC. I'd like the TFL Oyster app to do the same, but they don't seem to be updating it.

You had one job... Just two lines of code, and now the customer's Inventory Master File has bitten the biscuit

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Posted before, but..

A few years ago, my boss wanted to open up some of our computers for people to use the internet. A sort of internet cafe, without the cafe part. As he didn't want people hogging the machines, he wanted some way to kick them off after a predetermined time..

Being a keen c++ programmer at the time (still am really, just don't get time for it), and having recently found out how to write Windows Screen Savers )for another project, can't recall much about it though).

So, I knocked up a screensaver that when instantiated, would do a forced shutdown and reboot.

I should point out at this time that when you run the initiatesystemshutdown API on Windows with the Forced and reboot options set, windows will reboot the machine, and will not get you the option to save your work.

I had the main screensaver working, and was working on the code to register it as the system screensaver, and, IIRC, a control panel applet to set some options.

I had just run the install code to test if was setting the system screensaver correctly, and got called away to sort something out. I hadn't actually saved anything, and, as a result, when the screensaver kicked in, I lost everything.

I didn't recreate it. I had always had reservations about doing it, particularly would we, as a department, be liable if an employee from another department did work on it (we had signs everywhere saying the machines were for general internet browsing only), and lost work as a result. My boss quietly abandoned the idea when I pointed that out to him.

We do have a product installed now on some computers that does the same thing (just using it's own timing mechanism rather than installing itself as a screensaver). It wasn't my decision to install it, but at least the new one makes clear to the user what will happen, and when. As such, if a user users the computer, leaves it and loses work as a result, it's their responsibility, not ours.

Toshiba formally and finally exits laptop business

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: "Great. First IBM's excellent ThinkPads..."

I haven't used a ThinkPad for years, so I may be wrong here, but my understanding is that Lenovo was (at least, have no idea if it still is) essentially IBM's PC division in pretty much everything except name. I know they outsourced manufacturing, but IBM did have a good reputation for reliable engineering. Indeed, I used to use an IBM AT, and at the time, I though if I threw it at the wall (and being a computer, there were times I was sorely tempted to do so), the wall would break before the AT. My understanding is that Lenovo have worked to keep that reputation.

IBM weren't perfect, and some ThinkPads arguably had faults, but generally they were excellent.

What happens when holes perfect for spyware are found in the engine room of millions of Qualcomm-based phones? Let's find out

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Why do us customers bother?

Re :"Remember a while ago (last month...) when, after Intel posted yet more security updates, it was claimed that ARM "is more secure and never have these problems"..."

While I don't doubt at all the ARM processors have vulnerabilities, this story is about vulns in Qualcomm tech. No evidence they are in the core ARM designs.

That said, I have learned over the years to assume ANY computing device is hackable, but by patching known vulns, and using decent security elsewhere (including security software and securing things like passwords), you can reduce the chances your device(s) will be hacked massively.

On a final note, regarding security, my old Software Engineering Management lecturer liked to use the following phrase to describe the issue: "Features, Ease of Use, Security: Pick two"/

I got 99 problems, and all of them are your fault

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Actually a nice story

When I was a young tech support bloke, I supported a research lab in a uni. One of the computers in the lab died while the researcher using it was demonstrating something to his boss. Can’t remember the fault beyond it being an actual hardware failure. The researcher was quite rude while I was attempting to fix the problem.

When I went back to my office (which was literally next door) to get a part, I heard the following convo:

Boss : “You were a bit rude to that technician.”

Researcher : “He’s just an oily rag.”

Boss : “That ‘oily rag’ knows far more than you ever will about computing and deserves respect. Apologise to him.”

I got a very reluctant apology,

Trump administration labels WeChat, TikTok ‘threats’ to national security, bans transactions with both

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Personally I wonder if Trump has taken this action because Sarah Cooper (the woman who lip-syncs his various interviews and speeches) uses it to publish her videos, and those kids effectively sabotaged one of his conferences using Tik Tok to arrange things.

I believe he is narcissistic enough to do that using the excuse of national security.

After all, if he was truly worried about national security, he'd stop all the technology companies outsourcing production to China.

Google to pull plug on Play Music, its streaming service that couldn't beat Spotify, in favour of YouTube Music

Stuart Castle Silver badge

I'd forgotten Play Music existed.. Perhaps it would have been more successful if Google had been anywhere near as proactive in publicizing it as they have Youtube Music.

Doctor, doctor, got some sad news, there's been a bad case of hacking you: UK govt investigates email fail

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Delusional Officialdom

I too have a couple of friends who have worked for the government, dealing with classified data. Both have strictly enforced rules detailing exactly how and where they can access the data. I don't know the exact details (nor do I want to), but as I understand it, they are only allowed to access the data on computers airgapped from the internet, and they aren't allowed any devices on premises (these have to be handed in to security on entry).

While there are different levels of classification, their rule was simple. Only non classified data was allowed on computers with internet access.

Now, I understand that MPs have to travel, and they may need to access classified data outside the country, but they still shouldn't be storing classified data on publicly accessible systems.

A tale of mainframes and students being too clever by far

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Fairly certain I've posted this, but..

Back in the olden days, when I used to run a computer lab dedicated to the then trendy (and always rather vaguely defined) subject of "Multimedia". We had 40 good (for the time) spec machines, and 10 really high spec (again, for the time) machines. The really high spec machines were primarily used for video editing, so each machine had a good sound card, good cpu, and a video capture card with it's own 4 Gig SCSI drive.

All was running well, until one day, several of the applications we'd installed started failing due to missing files. Thinking we had a virus, I started investigating one of the machines. As policy dictates, I pulled it from the network, logged in with the local administrator account. Found that all the image files were missing. Unfortunately some of our software required those JPEGs, GIFS and PNGs, so failed. The virus scan came up clean. Not being one to entirely trust the virus scanner (after all, how did I know that the scanner itself wasn't infected and reporting a false negative?), I put the machine back on the network, wiped it and rei-installed the software.

Sure enough, the next day, the machine had all the software installed, and was working. So, I allowed students to use it. The day after, the problem came back.

I discussed it with my colleagues, one of whom looked sheepish, and said "I know what's causing the problem". Apparently, in an effort to keep the disk usage down, he'd written a script that, overnight, logged on to every student machine, searched for every conceivable kind of image, copied every image to his own HDD, then cleared out both those images and any student browser caches left on the machine. He said he copied the images to his machine because it's *ahem* evidence. We eventually came up with a solution to the problem, in that we adapted his script to ignore the folders that the broken software was installed in.

Thankfully, the 4 gig drives for the capture cards were never made available on the network, so his script could not access them even if it tried to.

Which brings me to a second story. Those capture cards made there drives available to the OS as what appeared to be a normal HDD. I say appaeared, because the user couldn't directly access the data, and it had quite a rigid file system. The root of the drive had folders with various file types (JPG, WAV, AVI etc), and in each folder were the project folders for user work. The weird (and I actually think quite nifty) part is the the folder structure in each of these root folders was exactly the same. The root folders all gave access to the same data, it was just converted on the fly to the data type shown in the root folder. So, your captured video file would be in the AVI folder, and you could access the individual frames in the JPG, PNG and GIF folders, with the audio track(s) being in the WAV folder. Obviously, the conversion, took a finite amount of time, so where as Premiere might take 10 milliseconds to open a JPG file on a conventional HDD, it would probably take a second to open a JPG on this drive (because the card was extracting it from the video on demand).

A student complained to me that his project was taking > 20 minutes to open on Premiere. I thought that was odd , so went to investigate. Now, on opening, Premiere checked all the media in each project, and what he'd done was to import the entire JPEG folder on the drive into his project, then put that on the timeline (Premiere will treat consecutively numbered images as frames in a video) and imported the WAV for the audio track. I explained what was wrong, deleted both the JPEG and WAV folders from his project, then imported the video file from the AVI folder. All of a sudden, Premiere was able to open the project in seconds, because it wasn't asking the capture card to extract and convert thousands of frames.

Firefighters to UK Home Office: Yeah, maybe don't turn off emergency comms network before replacement is ready

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Business cases?

So, the system was due to go live in 2017, and was heavily revised in 2018, yet the business case to justify it wasn't due until 2020? I would have thought the business case should be done first, as they are usually done so that a company can assess the impact of a project on it's business., and thus decide if it's worth the time and expense.

No wonder Brit universities report hacks so often: Half of staff have had zero infosec training, apparently

Stuart Castle Silver badge

The thing is, it isn't always common sense. I've seen some phishing emails that really do look legit. Gone are the days when scammers would send out emails (with bad spelling and grammar) that just bluntly asked you to enter your login details into some website the URL of which bore no resemblance to their actual company website URL, to sort out some invented problem on your account.

Some scammers do send out emails that look a lot like they come from Amazon, or Paypal, with URLS that are just a slight misspelling of the original. Even those that come from a scammer pretending to be an educational institution can look very convincing, Admittedly it *is* difficult for a scammer to get hold of an ".ac.uk" domain, but how many people would notice if the URL shown was <institution>.co.uk instead of <institution>.ac.uk (with <instituion> being any educational institution.

Also, when determining the value of doing courses like this, you need to factor in the costs of a breach. Not only with the costs of the breach include the cost of any damage done to the institution and it's systems, but there will be a loss of reputation (hard to actually put a value on this), and there may be a legal cost, whether from legal action (users suing etc) or even fines from the ICO. Bear in mind that the ICO's maximum fines are calculated as a percentage of the institutions gross turnover, so can be many millions of pounds.

Training isn't perfect, and no automated system will prevent 100% of scam emails organisation wide, but I would argue that both help reduce the chances of users getting and acting on scam emails, and a course costing a few thousand pounds is a lot better for the balance sheet than legal action that can run into the hundreds of thousands, or even millions of pounds.

Butterfingers who don't bother with phone cases, rejoice: New Gorilla Glass 'Victus' tipped to survive 6ft drops

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Is dropping your phone common?

I've only broken one phone screen. A Sony Ericsson P800. Didn't drop it, got it out of my pocket once and the screen had shattered. I never found out how, but I think the folding keypad got pushed a little too hard by the edge of my pocket when I sat down.

However, I have dropped phones many times. Never had a smashed screen since, but I *always* have a case. Currently have a lifeproof case on my iPhone XS Max that doesn't really add a whole lot of bulk to an admittedly large phone. It *does* add a lot of protection though. I'll be honest though, I am not really worried about how slim the phone is. I bought it because I liked the features. I bought the case because the phone cost an awful lot of money, and , tbh, it seemed stupid not to want to protect that investment.

The phone and case are nearly two years old now. The case is a little dirty from time to time (nothing a little soap and water can't fix), but inside the case, the phone still looks new.

Oh, and for those who say I never drop the phone, well, I rarely drop mine.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin. Hang on, the PDP 11/70 has dropped offline

Stuart Castle Silver badge

In my old office, the only socket I could use was an under-floor one directly under my desk. Directly under my chair. Everything on my desk was plugged into a six way extension cable, so that only the single mains cable (and two ethernet cables) actually ran to the floor socket.

One day, I sat down, without noticing that the cover of the socket was sitting on the mains cable, which was sitting on the edge of the well the socket was in (I think the cleaner had plugged the vacuum cleaner in my socket, and hadn't arranged the cables properly when the vacuum was unplugged). Anyway, i sat on my chair. About 30 seconds later, there as a large bang under my desk, and everything on my desk went off.

Then, talking to colleagues, I found that everything on half of our floor had gone off. Thankfully, not many people were in. I reported what had happened to Facilities Management, who came, checked over my socket, then reset the circuit breaker that had tripped, thus restoring power to everything..

Didn't enjoy having to explain to FM why I'd taken out the electrics though, even though I seriously think it was one of their staff that caused it (the Cleaners are employed by FM).

Bill Gates debunks 'coronavirus vaccine is my 5G mind control microchip implant' conspiracy theory

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Microsoft software is, in many ways, substandard. but it has powered the PC revolution (for better or worse). Would anyone else have done it? I don't know. I remember reading years ago (early 90s) an interview with a senior MS Bod in which the interviewer asked whether Microsoft would support platforms other than the PC/Windows.

There reply was that MS would happily support any platform where they felt they could make money. For all their faults, they do seem to have fairly consistently stuck to that. Even during the 90s where they were done for anti-competitive practices, they experimented with Amiga support (sadly limited to the awful Amiga Basic), and were fairly actively supporting the Mac. Now, with their primary focus on the cloud, and not on software sales, they are actively supporting several competing platforms (Android, iOS, macOS) as well as Windows.

Of course, Microsoft (at least the 90s Microsoft) didn't want to compete on a given platform, they wanted to control it, but that is what they were done for.

But, would the PC revolution have happened without Microsoft? I don't think so, at least not with any of the other companies involved at the time. Most companies in th PC market at the time are likely to have tried to tie people to their own system. They wouldn't have wanted compatibility with the competition. Indeed, IBM perceived all the PC cloners as copyright infringers, and start legal action to try and stop a lot of them.. IBM would have locked the PC down to IBM (and perhaps Microsoft) operating systems. As would Apple. I daresay Dell, Gateway and a lot of the other manufactures would have done so as well. Even Apple (perhaps especially Apple).

Microsoft in the 90s didn't have a dedicated hardware platform to push, at least in terms of PCs (they have had various mobile, tablet and console platforms). They just cared that whatever PC the user ran, they were running Windows and other MS software on it.

What evil lurks within the data centre, and why is it DDoS-ing the ever-loving pants off us?

Stuart Castle Silver badge


I've probably said this, but..

A few years ago, i worked in a University computer lab. Every so often, we arranged open days where school kids could come in and sample some of our tutorials..

One of the lecturers was teaching computer security. She hadn't notified us technicians of what she was doing, so about an hour and a half after the open day started, we were confused when the network suddenly slowed and ultimately hung. By this time, the other lecturers in the lab were starting to complain, and we agreed with the lecturer in charge of the open day (not the one teaching security) that we would sort the problem and she sent everyone else out for lunch.

After an hour, we discovered the problem. One of the kids had logged into a few PCs and was using them to run a DOS attack on the switch connecting the lab to the rest of the network. After we'd discovered this, and traced the PCs concerned, we approached the lecturer teaching security. She apologised. Apparently, she had told the students not to run DOS attacks on anything but the machine she'd set aside for that purpose, because, of course students always do everything you ask them to..

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: TomTom Updates

I used to have a universal remote control that used software that required IE. I had previously had a Logitech Harmony universal remote control that had failed, so I decided to go for the competition. the new remote had a full colour display, and looked lovely. The one downside is that it had a crap management program that installed on Windows XP and used IE to provide it's awful UI,

The Harmony had its' faults, but the software did at least run on a recent version of Windows, and did not require IE. After a few weeks of putting up with the competition, I bought a replacement harmony.

Apple to hand out limited-edition iPhones among 1337 h4x0rs because it wants more bug-hunters

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Do it yourself

"Surely the sort of "security researcher" who was any good at finding _real_ exploits would be able to gain shell access, without any help."

They would, but they'd be spending time looking for a jailbreak to enable a shell that could be used finding other exploits. There is also the risk that the exploit they use to enable the shell may change something that actually enables the exploit they find. It's a long shot, but the TLDR is that they will have made a change that means that the device is in a different state than the average device.

My life as a criminal cookie clearer: Register vulture writes Chrome extension, realizes it probably breaks US law

Stuart Castle Silver badge


I personally don't run ad blockers. While I don't particularly like advertising, I help run a small forum that likely wouldn't be viable to run if it didn't carry adverts, which are there purely to cover hosting costs. So, I am perfectly aware that sites have costs that need to be covered. That actually applies whatever the size of the site.

Where I do have a problem is the tracking advertisers want. They say they need it to ensure we get relevant adverts, and to reduce their costs. But the advertising industry survived (indeed prospered) for decades without that level of tracking.

Brit telcos deliberately killed Phones 4u, claim admins in £1bn UK High Court sueball

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Ah yes P4U

I went into Phones 4 U once. Within the space of 10 minutes, I had three salespeople trying to sell me new contracts. I was looking to upgrade my phone, but none of them even checked what I wanted.. I don't like pressure sales, and I tend to avoid any company that really tries to pressure me me into buying something. I did want a new phone. I didn't necessarily want to upgrade on my current contract, but wasn't opposed to the idea either. I like to decide on what hardware I want first, then see what contracts I can get with that hardware. The Salesdroids wouldn't take a polite "I want to look around" for an answer and after the third one pounced on me in ten minutes, I shouted "Fuck Off, leave me alone" and stormed out the shop.

Went straight into the Carphone Warehouse up the road/ A saleswoman came up to me, listened to me when I said I wanted to look around a bit before I made up my mind. She responded, "Cool, I'll be over here if you need anything" and went to do some paperwork at a terminal. I tried a few phones, found one I liked, and went back to her. A while later, I walked out the store, having signed up for a new contract, with a new phone in my sweaty hands..

I'd like to see us go back to that more relaxed style of sales. Give the customer what they want at a reasonable price, without trying to bundle in potentially expensive extras (such as extended warranties and gold plated HDMI cables), and people will go away happy, and hopefully come back next time they want something,

Doubt it will happen though.



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