* Posts by Stuart Castle

1413 posts • joined 19 Jun 2007


Girls Who Code books 'banned' in some US classrooms

Stuart Castle Silver badge

I think the problem is that these groups use religion as an excuse for their actions, where in reality, religion has nothing to do with it. I know plenty of people practicing various religions who don't oppress women like this. Hell, I know plenty of Christians, and was taught a lot about Christianity when I was younger. I would not call what the Republicans and other extremists preach in the US "Christianity". They say the words, but whatever they are preaching is something far more offensive..

PC component scavenging queue jumper pulled into line with a screensaver

Stuart Castle Silver badge

My old boss used to leave his PC unlocked. Like the techs in this article, us techs got whatever PC was spare when we needed one. In fact, I was given a Pentium 75 when we were rolling Pentium 200s out to the users.

My boss had a good spec Pentium 200 with twice as much RAM as we were giving to users (I think he had 16 meg, and our standard was 8 - this was the 90s).

We had a spare Mac that was hardly ever used, so my colleague asked me to install VNC Server on it, and leave it logged in. So, I did, just turned off the monitor to stop users using it. He then installed the viewer on my boss's machine, connected it and ran it full screen.

An hour or so later, my boss returned from "meeting" he had had, a little the worse for wear, and couldn't work out why his desktop had totally changed.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

About the same time as this would have happened, I was working with a colleague on a Saturday. We didn't normally work at the weekends, but we needed to do something that would have caused significant disruption if we'd have done it during the week.

We were in an office, normally occupied by two other technicians. No idea why we didn't go to my office, which was just down the corridor and not being used, but we likely had our reasons.

As a joke, we decided to replace the startup sounds of the machines we were using. Because it's normal user was incredibly vain, I replaced the startup sound of the machine I was using with a WAV of Right Said Fred's I'm Too Sexy. My colleague changed the startup sound of the machine he was using to The Proclaimers 500 Miles, because the normal user of the machine is a proud scotsman. The Scotsman liked his new startup sound so much he kept it, but the tech who normally used my machine was not impressed, so I had to change it back.

Microsoft highlights 'productivity paranoia' in remote work research

Stuart Castle Silver badge

We use something like this at work. Well, the Goal tracking part, not the app to get feedback from your staff.

My concern with all these sorts of tools (and I include the goal tracking) is they just become something else you have to check and update.

A few years ago, we had two official methods of communication (apart from face to face) at work: Email and phone. Generally, I'd spend an hour in the morning, and an hour in the afternoon checking email, and answer phone calls as and when

Now, at my company, we still have phone and email. We also have Teams (and some of us are on dozens of teams, all of which can fire off notifications), Yammer, our own ticketing system and the above mentioned system for Goal tracking (which can also be used by managers to assign their staff tasks).

They've just become four more things I need to check regularly. As, I suspect, would this Viva thing. Teams has notifications, and while I do make use of this, it is possible to get flooded with notifications, especially as Teams defaults to notifying you on every device you are signed in on, and while you can set it not to do this, it doesn't remember that setting if you sign out. Not sure about Yammer, but our ticketing system and the Goals system both have the option to send notifications via email. As with Teams, this can be handy, but you still run the risk of being flooded with notifications, just in email form.

In short, the choice seems to be run the risk of getting flooded with notifications, or have to check multiple systems for messages. I don't think either are good for productivity.

'Last man standing in the floppy disk business' reckons his company has 4 years left

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Speaking Of Ancient Storage Methods .....

Re "Ugh...BackupExec....there's a software package I don't miss...in fact tape backups in general. Those were dark times."

Neither do I. That said, I do miss sitting there watching the tape picking robot, which was strangely hypnotic to watch as it re-arranged the tapes.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Speaking Of Ancient Storage Methods .....

Re "They're quite reliable and have been shown to reliably hold data for extended periods of time.."

That's something people forget. When selecting a corporate backup system (or even a personal one if you are so disposed), you want a backup system that is large enough, fast enough and has media that is likely to usable in 10, 20 or even longer years. It's all very well having the latest, greatest media for your backup, but if it fails, or is unsupported in a couple of years, it's not the best choice.

While i don't know of any specific examples, I wouldn't be surprised if certain organisations weren't still relying on backups from the 60s.

I know that back in the 90s, I went for a job interview, where the job was designing and coding applications that provided then state of the art UIs for applications running on 1960s and 70s era mainframes, because when you've spent 6 or 7 figures on a machine, you want it to last.

Chemical plant taken offline by the best one of all: C8H10N4O2

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Better yet...

No, but I've had to clean out a few keyboards that have been taken out by a judiciously placed drink or two. That can be... interesting.

Using the datacenter as a dining room destroyed the platters that matter

Stuart Castle Silver badge

When I worked for Network Southeast

As a young lad, I worked for BR years ago, in one of their Network Southeast offices.

I had a crap job, with nice people in a then state of the art office. We even had our own dedicated PCs and a network (this was the late 80s, this was nowhere near as commonplace as it is now).

My office was near a rather large freight lift. One day, I got in to find I could hear loud banging noises coming from the lift. I went and had a look..

That day, they were installing a new purpose built server room elsewhere in the building, and were moving the servers from the rather makeshift server room on our floor.

Rather than doing the right thing and carrying them carefully, the so called specialist computer moving team were throwing them in the lift.

I never found out how many survived, as my job was merely admin, and nothing to do with the provision of the computers, so I'd have politely got told to fuck off if I'd asked..

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Argus 1000?

Followed by an 500+, 600, 1200, 2000, 3000, 4000 and 4000t before Ferranti finally collapsed?

The crime against humanity that is the modern OS desktop, and how to kill it

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Use Open Shell on Windows 10 (and I think 11)

Re: "Re: Use Open Shell on Windows 10 (and I think 11)

"...Use Open Shell on Windows 10 (and I think 11) ..."

A valid response to the audience here/tech minded individuals, but:

1 - And I personally think this is *the* most important bit - you shouldn't have to! If you're using third party utilities to make the UX fit the ideal from 2009 then that entire UX is wrong"

True. I'm happy enough using Windows 11, but I think the Windows UI peaked around Windows 7 time. In general, I'm of the opinion that customisation is good, but you shouldn't have to do it to get a usable system.

"2 - Not happening in a corporate environment. It's a big enough battle getting any OSS in let alone something that changes the UX/UI from defaults"

Also true. I work in a corporate environment, and have tried repeatedly to get more open source into use. Apart from some niche cases, I've been almost entirely unsuccessful. To put it bluntly, they want someone they can take action against if a given product fails. They also want the legal protection given by the Sale of goods act and other laws.

"3 - Also would be unsupported by MS so point 2 becomes even more valid"

Adding to that, I find that if you do anything unsupported on a device that is covered by some sort of warranty or contract, and it goes wrong, the supplier just blames what you've done and either refuses to support it, or charges a small fortune to remove what you've done and fix the problem. Not tried that with Microsoft, but I've no reason to believe they'd be any different.

Nadine Dorries promotes 'Brexit rewards' of proposed UK data protection law

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Dorries: "This data Bill is one of Brexit’s biggest rewards. It allows us to create a pro-growth, trusted system - one that is designed not for Brussels, but for the people of the UK. our donors."

There, Nadine, fixed that for you..

Psst … Want to buy a used IBM Selectric? No questions asked

Stuart Castle Silver badge

I bought a Psion Series 5 from a then friend. I jokingly asked him if I could return it to the manufacturer if it developed a fault. He said, looking very serious, "I wouldn't if I were you".

Thankfully, that device gave me years of good service, and connected to my phone (via a serial cable), enabled me to do large parts of my job from the pub.

Russian invasion has dangerously destabilized cyber security norms

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Terrorism isn't necessarily a bad thing in war. In WW2, the various resistances (French etc) were labelled terrorists, but arguably contributed massively to us winning the war.

Too little, too late: Intel's legacy is eroding

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: "Diversity will destroy this company"

There are women who are very qualified to do various engineering jobs.. I have a friend who left the job she had at my company to become, on the face of it, a tech support bod in one of the skyscrapers around Canary Wharf. She never gave real details of her job, but she was important enough for her company that when their Edinburgh office had a problem with their computer system, she was flown on one of the company's private jets to Edinburgh, driven to the office, had to fix the problem, and was flown back on the same private jet the same day.

Haven't spoken to her in years, but last I heard she had a very senior role in one of the online banking development teams for one of the big 4 banks.

Yeah, we'll just take that first network handshake. What could possibly go wrong?

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Posted this before, but I used to manage a Windows Media Server, with hundreds of potential streamers, all needing "accounts" on it. Well, Active Directory took care of the accounts, I just needed to create urls on the server for each user.

Obviously, the GUI was out, because that would have been far too cumbersome, and I didn't get notifications of new accounts anyway. Microsoft didn't have a method for automating this process either, at least not one I could find or had access to.

So, I found a registry hack. You just created a key for each user with the value pointing to their user area. I wrote a small C++ application that automated this, and certain other maintenance functions, as well as notifying me if it could not see the server. It also had a function to check AD for any new accounts and create registry keys for them.

It was a cool little application, with a slight flaw. Each time you added a user in this way, WMS would go off and check whether it could access the area, Fine if you are doing one or two accounts, but if you were doing hundreds (as I needed to do once a year), it hung the server until the job was finished, which would take up to 12 hours.

I found this didn't happen if WMS was not running when you did the import, so I suspect the problem was hundreds of checks building up in a queue somewhere, or the service tied itself in knots . It only took a few minutes to check if the service was shut down and restarted after.

Either way, in the next version of the app, I put in a dialog that offered to shut the service down first, and reminded the administrator to warn users first.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: You'd have thought that a company the size of Google would have thought...

You can assume competence all you like, but while the likes of Google, IBM etc may make reasonable efforts to ensure the data sent to you is correct and correctly formatted, when it comes down to basics, all they care about is that their arse is covered in the event they do send wrong or incorrectly formatted data.

Remember the humanoid Tesla robot? It's ready for September reveal, says Musk

Stuart Castle Silver badge

re :Say, what's the Boring Company up to these days?

As far as I can gather, they are digging tunnels for roughly the same price per mile as (and a lot more slowly than) companies using the existing, supposedly less efficient methods.

Why the end of Optane is bad news for all IT

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Amazing... But also a bit stupid

True. It is an amazing technology, perhaps hampered by bad marketing.

The problem is, the current idea of having a computer with primary and secondary storage and everything treated as files works. It's not perfect, but it works, sometimes well.

Introducing something cool and amazing isn't going to persuade people to spend potentially a lot of money replacing and upgrading existing systems unless those systems don't work at all, or unless you can show there is a real benefit. Especially if that something requires a fundamental rethink of how the computer works, If your applications work well on whatever OS they use (be it Windows, Linux, macOS or whatever), how will they work with an OS that stores everything in what is effectively RAM? Do they need updating? If not, how good is any emulation offered?

A character catastrophe for a joker working his last day

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Doing student support, I used to see the over use of messaging regularly. Every year, someone would discover how to use the Net Send command on Windows to send a message to the entire domain. Everyone thinks it's funny to send a random message, even if it's just "Hi", but it's not. It's annoying if you get several in a row, so we did ask for the option to send messages to be blocked. We were told that it wouldn't happen, as it would cause problems with various Uni systems. Of course, they could not be specific and say *which* Uni systems, and while I didn't have an encyclopedic knowledge of all the systems in use, I wasn't aware of *any* that used the Windows messaging service, so I suspect it was a case of someone either didn't have the time, or couldn't be bothered to test the systems.

When a student sent a message to the domain telling everyone he was going to rape them, shit got serious. We were asked to track down who had sent the message, and they were asked to see their school head. Don't know what happened to them, but I assume they were kicked out. All of a sudden, our systems team agreed to do what they could to block the message sending feature.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Nothing so severe

One day, a group from work went to a local restaurant for lunch. The food was nice, and they were playing light background music. Then, they played Mel C's "Never be the same again", and it repeated. After about 5 playthroughs of the increasingly ironic sounding song, the fire alarm went off, and we were evacuated. We waited around a bit, and my colleague asked our waitress what had happened. Apparently, the CD player caught fire.

So, we all went back to work, apart from our Unix admin who insisted on staying to pay the bill, clearly not knowing they were insured for the loss of earnings.

CP/M's open-source status clarified after 21 years

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: 128 Mbytes!

That 128 meg drive could probably store every application written for CP/M..

Hive to pull the plug on smart home gadgets by 2025

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Net zero in home automation

Re :"Went into my local electrical retailer named after a pop Indian culinary delight as I happened to be passing.

Gave the sales bloke my requirements, told him there obviously couldn't be any cloud element and I didn't really need recording. If he'd got nothing that fit the bill please would he tell me now and save me some valuable time."

My old boss, when he was a student, bought a PC from PC World. It was a good PC, and worked for years. Then, one day, the HDD failed. As the machine was out of warranty, they refused to touch it. So, he bought it in to work and I had a look. I confirmed the hard drive had physically failed, and opened up the machine. To find a wierd motherboard with onboard SCSI, and no IDE ports. I say "weird" because this was a machine intended for consumer use, and not a server, or workstation (which tended to be the areas that used SCSI).

He bought the new HDD, I fitted it and and installed Windows, but my boss was not happy. SCSI HDDs cost considerably more that IDE ones..

Watch a RAID rebuild or go to a Christmas party? Tough choice

Stuart Castle Silver badge

I've had a couple of Christmas parties where it would have been infinitely more interesting to watch a RAID rebuild than go to the party.

Usually what happens is that each team member hangs around with their team, eating, drinking and having fun. There is usually a christmas meal, and we sit and eat with our own teams. After the meal, we usually head for a local pub and carry on the drinking, often with other teams.

Every few years, the admin office (who organise the parties) come up with the wonderful idea of mixing up the teams, with the idea this sort of thing promotes inter team relations. It really doesn't. You end up stuck on a table with a bunch of people you don't really know for 2 hours. Admittedly, while I'm quite friendly and good at helping people I don't know, but not too comfortable with the kind of chit chat expected at a table. The whole situation is usually painful, embarrassing and hated by most of the party goers.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

No support stories, apart from one where my old boss (who was brought up Muslim but never followed the Qu'ran) who told a story of one of our users who phoned him up on his mobile on Christmas day to complain about a problem. The convo went as follows:

Boss: "It's Christmas"

User: "You are Muslim and don't celebrate Christmas"

Boss: "You aren't, and do celebrate Christmas".

And yes, while my boss was Muslim, he did celebrate Christmas. Not because he was brought up to, but because he had a wife and child who were not Muslim..

This is the military – you can't just delete your history like you're 15

Stuart Castle Silver badge

As a student in the mid 90s, we were among the first students in the Uni to use the Web. The PCs we had at the time were basic business PCs, with no niceties such as sound. So, when I got access to a lab with Sun Sparcstations that did have onboard sound, good graphics and full web access, I started exploring..

One day, in a lecture where we actually trying to learn to code for X Windows in C, I'd completed my exercise, and started looking on the web while I waited the other students to catch up. I clicked on an innocent looking link. 30 seconds or so later, Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit blared out, earning me weird looks from my fellow students and a stern telling off from the lecturer. Those Suns didn't have a great speaker, but it was loud.

As a tech support bod in the Uni, I got a phone call from one of our security guards. I was surprised, as they don't generally use computers.

When I went to see him, he showed me a computer that had been set up near to the security desk, so students could check the status of books in the library. Windows was locked down so it would only run Internet Explorer (sad, I know) and supposedly, it was on a Private IP so could only see University web sites.

Supposedly. Turns out it'd been given a public IP for some reason. While IE was locked down so it didn't display a URL bar, somehow the guard had gone to a porn site. This computer was on full display.

When I got there, he had hundreds of popups. I managed to close 160 before I persuaded the machine to restart, which closed the rest.

Elon Musk considering 'drastic action' as Twitter takeover in 'jeopardy'

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Where is the ROI?

I don't know the man, so I could be being unfair, but I doubt he is doing it to improve the world. People don't get to be billionaires by throwing money at stuff for free. There will be some bonus for him or his companies.

Google location tracking to forget you were ever at that medical clinic

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Google's minimum viable response

Re: IBM.

We had a whole lecture in mu degree on the tricks IBM pulled to trade in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Tencent Cloud slaps googly eyes on a monitor, says it can care for oldies

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Imagine waking up one morning. It’s dark, and you look toward your bedside cabinet. Straight into a pair of huge cartoon eyes apparently watching you, That’d be terrifying.

Is computer vision the cure for school shootings? Likely not

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: AI gives responders better intel

Re :"How? In the example given, it was a chair-leg, wrapped in paper, so physically looked like it might be a rifle or similar in poor light."

And this highlights a couple of potential problems. First, to be reliable, most visual systems need at least reasonable lighting. I should imagine this is far more necessary if the output of the AI is used for evidence. If there is even the slightest chance the video has been enhanced, even if just for recognition purposes, the defence could just argue the evidence has been tampered with, possibly getting the evidence removed.

Second, if the system is too sensitive, and generates a lot of false positive detections, you run the risk people will just assume the next detection is false, and ignore it until it's too late. If it's not sensitive enough, it may still miss the gunman until it's too late, and because they believe some system is protecting them, people may not be as vigilant.

What we need isn't more technology. It's for American society to change to having a more sensible attitude to guns. This isn't going to happen overnight, but I'd suggest that a good start would be tightening up their gun laws a lot (not necessarily banning guns, but making them an awful lot more difficult to obtain), and backing that up with drives to remove the amount of guns in the hands of the public. Any laws restricting sales need to be federal laws. If done at state level, all people need to do to get around the law is go to the next state that has lass strict laws.

Misguided call for a 7-Zip boycott brings attention to FOSS archiving tools

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: I like 7Zip.

I agree. The people responsible (and should therefore be punished) for the invasion of Ukraine are the Russian Government. The Russian people may support it, but they are exposed to a lot of propaganda, and if there is one thing Putin is good at, it is propaganda. Putin also pretty tightly controls what they see, so they probably aren't aware of what is *actually* happening. I suspect a lot would not support their leader if they saw the truth.

I think it's bad to deliberately target the Russian people, because by doing so, you *are* directly victimising them, and giving some credence to Putin's claims that the West is evil and is victimising Russia (even though neither is true), which just helps his propaganda to get the desired effect.

Penalise Putin, and those who enable him.

This sounds a little like the Open Source community trying to punish the author of 7-zip because he won't fully open the source of 7-zip. It's his source code. it's his choice what he does with it. Unless they have reasonable cause to suspect he has links to Putin , I think they are just using the Russian link to get everyone angry at him.

Micron aims 1.5TB microSD card at video surveillance market

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Don't you just love the vague impressions of the capacity of things storage companies sometimes give? "enough to hold four months of continuously recorded security camera footage". Surely that depends on the amount of cameras, as well as the quality they record at?

It might be enough to contain four months of continuously recorded footage for one camera, but what if you have 5? Or 10? Admittedly, once you go above 10, you are probably getting into the realms of having a decently specced storage system mounted in a server rack somewhere (with off site backup), or at least a NAS though.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

As a support person, I'm just looking toward the day I have to explain to a user that they've just lost 1.5TB of data when the SD card that was incredibly important, but not backed up, fails.

Stuart Castle Silver badge


It's an easier sell to newbies to have Raid 0 and have double the storage rather than other raid levels, and ask them to pay extra for drives to mirror or store parity data.

Especially as increasingly they can use the cloud to back things up, and also for re-downloading software via online app stores.

The perfect crime – undone by the perfect email backups

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Not really a use of my IT skills, but when one of our users reported their laptop had been stolen, I looked up the footage from the nearest camera, which had actually recorded the theft. Unfortunately said thief had long gone, and the room was open to the public for a special event, so we had no access records.

I dutifully phoned 999, reporting the crime. Within a few minutes, I got a call from our local Police station, so offered them access to whatever they needed to solve the crime. Their response? "Here is a crime number. Please investigate the crime, and let us know if you find anything." The user was obviously not impressed, but chuffed when we were able to to claim on the insurance and buy her a new laptop.

Whatever you do, don't show initiative if you value your job

Stuart Castle Silver badge

NT 4.

When I was a green young techie, I was (as part of my job) on the Microsoft beta programme. We were primarily a Windows NT based company, and had a large fleet of Windows NT 3.5 machines that we'd largely upgraded to 4 by the time SP2 came out.

I'd been testing SP2 for weeks, and had no problems, so when asked by my boss whether we should deploy it, I enthusiastically answered "Yes". I now know that one computer is nowhere near a large enough test pool, as when we rolled it out to the users, it left roughly half the machine in a state where they would not boot.

I wasn't a member of a huge team. There was me, and my boss. We both did a lot of apologising to users, and I had work late every night. First diagnosing and resolving the problem, then applying that solution to the users computers.

IIRC, a couple of users took advantage of the situation to get new computers, which I had to build, but we did get the users back to a situation where they could work.

In my defence, I'd only started the job a couple of months beforehand, and while I had good technical knowledge (far superior to my boss's, as he would admit), I had no experience. As such, I think my boss shouldn't have asked for my advice, and accepted it without question.

Now, I test any new updates first on a couple of machines, then on a larger group (say 10). I also get other technicians and certain users to test the updates. It takes a little longer, but I've never taken out half the estate again.

Taiwan bans exports of chips faster than 25MHz to Russia, Belarus

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Requirements for faster hardware and more RAM don't necessarily come from inefficient code. Sometimes people's needs do change, and sometimes those changes do require more hardware resources.

That said, unless you are dealing with a *lot* of text (and I'm talking tens of millions of pages here, so way beyond the needs of 99% of people) and absolutely need it to be in RAM and not streamed from disk, 8GB of RAM is excessive .

As for Java, while I use it if I need to, I am not a fan. I think Java can be massively inefficient, as you point out. It's always felt like it's a nice idea, but it feels a bit like something you might design if you wanted to copy C++ but not really. I also don't like the idea of having to include hundreds of meg of runtime for a small app that should be a few hundred K.

That time a techie accidentally improved an airline's productivity

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Experienced the problem of users jamming CDs and DVDs in the slot between the blanking plate and the drive. Ironically on a machine that had a DVD rom, just the user was used to slot loading DVDs, and this one had a tray, so the user didn't recognise it.

The same user also lost a MIni SD card one of our iMacs. iMacs that had SD card slots just below the DVD slot. When the user reported he'd lost his card in the Mac, he alleged he had important work on to, but I looked at the slot. The slot in the iMac was small enough that any mini SD would stick out the side, but I saw nothing. So, out of desperation, I turned the mac to look at the side, hoping to see some evidence of a card. I saw nothing. I heard it rattle though, inside the DVD drive..

As the user had alleged he had lost important work, we called in an engineer (these machines were under warranty, and we didn't want to violate that), at the cost of hundreds of pounds. The engineer retrieved the users SD card. I've no idea what was on it, but the user seemed happy, and so were we.

Until the user did the same thing again a few weeks later. The the boss politely told the user to f*ck off.

Elon Musk orders Tesla execs back to the office

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Musk is like a bright light

Musk has pushed the world forward massively. He made electric cars cool, as well as advancing the technologies involved, and has contributed to both the space race and renewable energy.

He is getting to a dangerous point though. He is starting to believe his own hype.

Hyperloop is potentially dangerous, as if any of the tunnels or pipelines the trains travel along is breached (and if they run above ground, they will be), the entire system is likely to implode at the speed of sound.

The Las vegas loop (and his planned network of tunnels under major cities) don't really solve the problem of traffic (how can they, they involve more vehicles), and have the same problem Metro builders have under major cities. Namely that there is already a lot of infrastructure under the ground in major cities like London, which limits the number of tunnels that can be built. Apparently, their brand new tunneling method is not actually as cheap as Elon makes out, and is considerably slower than existing methods,

Also, the tunnels in the LV loop are barely wider than the cars. It's likely to be almost impossible to escape if something happens to one of the cars and it catches fire or explodes. Existing train systems do not have that problem because there doors don't open outward. The tunnels are also generally wide enough for people to pass alongside the train. Even if they weren't, the trains generally have exits at the front and back.

Starlink looks like it could be good, but I'd need to see evidence that it's not just going to be used to enable the social media companies to track the few people they don't.

As for the robot, I'd like to see evidence that what they've demonstrated isn't a dancer in a suit. At least Boston Dynamics have shown actual robots doing stuff.

The truck, from what I've seen, the range as it is is too limited for lot of use.

Super-spreader FluBot squashed by Europol

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: I wonder...

I'd like to see that crapware become opt in. IE, you need to install it if you want it. The manufacturer could include a screen in the phone's setup trying to sell it to you, and giving easy links.

Reg hack attends holographic WebEx meeting, blows away Zoom fatigue

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re "I came away from the experience impressed and intrigued, but without a clear sense of how this technology will improve productivity. It is unclear to me, for example, how much effort is required to create virtual objects."

I think this comment (from the article) sums up my thoughts in all these attempts to introduce new technologies to online meetings.

I love VR, and play with my Quest 2 most days. I also have a slight interest in using VR more, even for work.

So, I've followed the hype behind things like Meta's attempts to get home working and meetings working with VR. I've also tried various apps that supposedly recreate the feeling of being with your co workers.

I've seen the videos of Oculus avatars all floating around a whiteboard having a meeting, or all looking at various web pages. Not everyone's job is like that. Not everyone has cosy little meetings about the look of a webpage (although I can understand that the staff at Meta would).

I'm working partly from home and partly from the office ATM. Ironically, a lot of my job involves remote access to PCs and VMs, so in theory could benefit from working in VR, but it really doesn't benefit.

None of the above has increased my productivity, and none has offered me a real, tangible advantage over running Teams on my PC at home. In fact, running Teams on my PC has the advantage that it's easy to walk away from the PC without having to remove your headset, which is probably plugged in via USB (even with the extended battery I have, I'm lucky to get more than 4 hours use without charging) and may also have a set of headphones attached. Actually getting away from the screen for a bit every hour or so is actually good health and safety advice. You don't need to physically move, just point your eyes somewhere else for a couple of minutes.

UK government reviewing stake in BT owned by French tycoon Patrick Drahi

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Um...

They don't, but in my (admittedly simplistic) view, they've done it previously because these sales generate money. More money = tax cuts. Lower tax = more votes.

Of course now, it seems to be more money = more money for our mates and raise taxes.

Safari is crippling the mobile market, and we never even noticed

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Sorry, while I can see the advantage of web apps for the developers (after all, you can develop one set of source code and target hundreds of platforms, rather than maintaining custom code for each), I don't see any real advantage for the users. Quite the contrary. By bunging all sorts of extra functionality (with all the potential for bugs) in an application that, by definition, needs access to the Internet, you are opening up users to a *lot* of security problems, even if the browser is properly sandboxed (and I don't think the mainstream ones are yet).

Beware the fury of a database developer torn from tables and SQL

Stuart Castle Silver badge

People have funny ideas about Salespeople. Personally, I try and avoid dealing with them.

At work, a few years back, one of our lecturers was talking to me about how I go about finding which equipment to recommend. I said that when I'm given a task that needs a given piece of equipment, I read up in any relevant magazines, and look on relevant website to determine the best piece of equipment.

He told me I was wrong to do this, as magazines and websites can be bought. I need to go direct to the company sales people. To which I pointed out that the only reason they can't be bought is because they are the ones who would be doing the buying.

Google Russia goes broke after bank account snatched

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Very bad idea

Re: "I see no reason to target individuals or private companies when they are not linked with Putin Khuylo.This is unfair and would a great help to the Russian official propaganda. Russians citizens to a lesser extent are victims too."

Agreed, any attempt to do anything that targets Russian citizens or companies that don't have anything to do with Putin, even if in error, would help the propaganda machine currently telling Russians that Putin is great and the West is evil.

Bing! Microsoft tests search box in the middle of Windows 11 desktop

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Bearing in mind the existing search box ALREADY searches the web, as well as your files/applications, it sounds like this new search box will have no real benefit to the user, as it's only offering a cut down form of what the desktop search offers.

I can see the benefit for Microsoft, because it means Bing is placed in front of the users, but what is the benefit for the user?

Your snoozing iOS 15 iPhone may actually be sleeping with one antenna open

Stuart Castle Silver badge

While any exploits should at least be investigated, and hopefully removed, I wonder at the Utility of this one. To be able to use this exploit you would need quite a high level of access to the phone. Enough that you could probably turn on and use anything on the phone you need access to using other means.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: It appears to be difficult

I do think "Off" should mean "Off", and the phone should offer an option to shut down totally. Not least because it saves battery. And some places have rules on radio transmissions and it may not be practical to put your phone in a faraday cage. One example is towns near large radio telescopes often have strict controls on radio transmission in the area, often with things like Wifi and mobile phones banned, and you couldn't just bung your phone in a faraday cage the entire time you are there.

Arm, Microsoft at pains to say this CPU arch can be trusted with real server work

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: If you think that ARM is so great

I have a niice little Mac Mini M1 at home that I'd like to at least try Windows on. I've got no real use for it at home, as the Mac sits on the desk next to a decent PC, just curious. And if/when Windows comes to Apple silicon, I'm likely to be called on at work to get a deployment working.

I believe the position Apple are taking is they are happy to provide the relevant drivers (perhaps in some sort of boot camp like package), but need Microsoft to provide a way for Mac users to obtain Windows for Arm legally.

Ransomware the final nail in coffin for small university

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Having backups

Re: "Paying the ransom only funds more cyber-crime, and needs to be stopped. As long as organizations can just pay the ransom, and go on about their business, this will never stop."

I always wonder why people suddenly trust the people who've just broken in to your systems and encrypted part (or all) of them. Or those who created the software they used.

They care little enough about you, your situation and data that they are willing to break the law to stop you accessing it. They aren't suddenly going to worry about being less than honest when it comes to helping you afterward.

Still, when you are a system admin looking at having lost all your company's data and have no other way out, it's probably easy to hope they are being honest.



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