* Posts by Andy the ex-Brit

95 publicly visible posts • joined 3 Feb 2012


Prepare to be shocked: Employees hate this One Weird Clause

Andy the ex-Brit

There used to be a way around this using one neat trick...

When I started this job 25 years ago, all the HR papers were sent home with us to be brought in signed with required documents the next day. A colleague, apparently smarter than me, took advantage of this to print out superficially identical forms but with pesky things like non-competes reworded to be meaningless. They never caught on.

Non-competes are no longer enforceable in my state (Illinois) for those making less than $75k US (about 60k GBP), though I make a bit more than that. Colleagues have left for direct competitors before with no repercussions, so they're really not enforcing it unless you directly take trade secrets with you.

The one they do enforce is if I were to leave and go to a supplier, I can't come back on-site to my current employer for business until a year later, which does make some sense.

Smart ovens do really dumb stuff to check for Wi-Fi

Andy the ex-Brit

"You don't buy a device for a year – they last five to 10 years."

That's really, really terrible. My "dumb" oven came with the house that I've lived in for about 20 years now. It had fake woodgrain on the control panel until my better half covered it in contact paper.

BOFH: It's 4ft tall, heavyset, has optional fax. No they didn't take the toner!

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: A4 or Letter?

"Not even in the USA the Letter format is being used anymore for all I know."

Nope, we still pretty much all still use letter size / A / 8-1/2 x 11" / 216 x 279.5 mm.

This can’t be a real bomb threat: You've called a modem, not a phone

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: "They even asked for a physical description of the caller"

"How VERY dare you?!"

World's richest man posts memes as $44b Twitter acquisition veers off course

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: Waah

My first thoughts were Popehat or Legal Eagle.

IT manager's 'think outside the box' edict was, for once, not (only) a revolting cliché

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: I can imagine the instructions....

Surely "boxed mats" or "un-unboxed mats?" Or is "boxed" used in a similar manner to "shelled" or "pitted"?

No, I will not pay the bill. Why? Because we pay you to fix things, not break them

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: I have a problem..

I nearly only give 10s at work now. If I give an 8 or 9, you messed up.

This after working under a survey system at the same job, where my [2nd worst ever] supervisor decided that anything less than a 7 "exceeded expectations" meant a meeting with her and the internal customer to determine what had gone wrong. I had several of those, and she didn't get the hint even when the customer was there with her saying "why are we having this meeting? I marked "met expectations."

We were also expected by her to improve our average survey results by x% each year, pretty tough when a 4-6 was "met expectations" and my average was about 8.5 . So yeah, f that, nothing but 10s for my colleagues.

Loathsome eighties ladder-climber levelled by a custom DOS prompt

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: point of order

I learned FORTRAN in high school in the late 1980s. By then I had already taught myself BASIC, Pascal, and C. The assignments in FORTRAN were really easy, but I hated the editor, so within a couple of weeks I was using an editor I wrote for myself in FORTRAN. By the end of the semester, half the class was using my editor.

Block this: Using satellites to plaster ads over our skies could work, say boffins

Andy the ex-Brit

New paper needed

Anyone have time to write a similar paper on the cost to crowdsource bringing such a satellite array down in a lovely fiery display?

Now's your chance, AI, to do good. Protect endangered eagles from wind turbines

Andy the ex-Brit

When do we send in the cane toads?

To preserve Earth's treasures, digital silence is golden

Andy the ex-Brit

More examples

Reminds me of a couple of places ruined by people (Instagrammers) trying to recreate iconic photographs.

(1) The lone tree in a lake, eventually had a branch snapped off for the sake of a photo, then vandalized with a saw.


(2) Lavender fields in France, repeatedly trampled without permission for wedding photos.


BOFH: It's Friday, it's time to RTFM

Andy the ex-Brit

Worse than acronyms

My employer makes large machines and their engines, and at one point tried to get everyone to start using what they called "mnemonics" for every data channel recorded during testing. On the one hand, it made sense so that you could search the data, you don't want one group calling it "engine speed" and another "tacho", or something. The implementation, though, was terrible, with chained together things that were sort of mnemonics, but the collection was not. We'd end up looking at lists of channels named "ZZTPMM", "GREMTS", "ILPFHI" and "EDNDST".

Example: ENTCPA1

EN - it's an engine

T - it's a turbocharger

T - it's the compressor side

P - it's a pressure

A - it's air pressure

1 - it's the number 1 turbo

There you go, number one turbo compressor outlet pressure. Now go find your engine speed channel at ENNCF.

The rebellion was strong. These channel names are still out there, but they're buried deep in a nerd layer between the data acquisition software and the analysis/reporting.

In a time before calculators, going the extra mile at work sometimes didn't add up

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: Bank Accounts

...The Black Boy...

Ah, Caernarfon. I've eaten in that pub a few times!

Real-time deepfakes can be beaten by a sideways glance

Andy the ex-Brit

Honestly, Jim Carey is not a good test. I'm pretty sure he could make his face do that.

I paid for it, that makes it mine. Doesn’t it? No – and it never did

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: You know you're old when...

What an odd take. Of course if they sold it over here they would adapt the design with an element made for 15 A @ 120 VAC so it would only take twice as long, and a clock made for 60 Hz. You may as well have said we couldn't use it because it would have the wrong plug on it!

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: You know you're old when...

"Not usable in US due to not enough voltage from normal wall socker to boil water, (would need an appliance circuit run)"

We have plug-in kettles in the US, they just take twice as long as they would on UK mains. Wouldn't be a big deal for a Teasmade, the element could just come on five minutes sooner.

A Teasmade wouldn't have been popular in the US because hardly anyone drinks tea in the morning.

Bloke robbed of $800,000 in cryptocurrency by fake wallet app wants payback from Google

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: Oh dear


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

Andy the ex-Brit

Some users are really dumb about it

We used to have a company-wide shared drive with folders for each employee, usually mapped to O:. Each employee had a folder under their user ID, so O:\s\smithtj for example. We could then share data with each other and say "I put it on your O drive" or "it's on my O drive." Anyone could see or modify anyone's files. All files were automatically deleted on a rolling 7-day basis, so nobody used it for permanent storage.

Sometimes I would try to drop files on it, and it would be full. What I would do then was search the entire drive for files over 100 MB (that was a lot.) I'd sometimes find movies or music, and I could IM the owner and ask them to delete them to free up space.

One time, of course, I found a huge trove of adult oriented files. Nothing creepy involving underage, but hey, it's pr0n, at work, and it's stopping me from using this drive. I summarily deleted it and all of the other files in the same user's folder, then for good measure the folder itself, knowing he'd be unlikely to start an investigation into where all his files went.

Honestly they're lucky I found it instead of someone who would have reported it. I did consider doing so, and would have if it had been CP.

How one techie ended up paying the tab on an Apple Macintosh Plus

Andy the ex-Brit

It can be worse!

I once helped someone with a Word document where they wanted a three column layout, and to achieve it had typed their text as

Here are the first [tabs] and the beginning [tabs] in conclusion, we

few words typed [tabs] of the second column[tabs] spent a lot of time

...and so on. It's not hard to do the first draft this way, but when editing starts, it's a nightmare to change anything! After I showed them how to set up their page with gutters, I was a genius!

Thinnet cables are no match for director's morning workout

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: Full names please.......

Reminds me of this old SNL skit, with Nick Cage...


Why the Linux desktop is the best desktop

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: How about Quicken?

Thanks, I'll look into that!

Andy the ex-Brit

How about Quicken?

It's been a while since I looked, but the thing that kept me off Linux last time I did was Quicken. I want my decades of data available, but I don't want to pay a monthly fee, which is where Intuit is pushing everyone now. I'm pretty sure I'm running Quicken 2011, the latest version you could actually "buy" instead of rent. I don't use any of the online import and bill pay features, just track my spending and reconcile statements manually. I don't need my data to be in the cloud.

'Virtually no difference' between AI and humans in diagnosing prediabetes

Andy the ex-Brit

What percentage of people who are told they have pre-diabetes make diet and lifestyle changes to improve their insulin response and avoid getting full-blown diabetes? Because from what I can tell, it's hardly any.

Heck, they don't even need a test to tell them that they're profoundly unhealthy. Still, if this helps improve some lives, it's helpful.

The month I worked for DEADHEAD: Yes, that was their job title

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: I'm pretending to be very busy

You soon learn to always have a typo for them to find and tell you to fix. Otherwise, they'll have to come up with another suggestion, and it may be a lot of work and/or physically impossible.

The time you solved that months-long problem in 3 seconds

Andy the ex-Brit

Not IT, but I'm a test and instrumentation guy. I once was flown to a factory that made engines, where a problem was occurring with the end of line test causing engines to fail. They were running out of space to store them, other factories were waiting for engines, and the problem had been going on for months. I had a suspicion, so I asked them to demonstrate the calibration process for the test cell, which they performed weekly. About one minute into it I said "wait, what did you just do?" I'd spotted the mistake they were making, we then did it my way, and then they spent the next several days running and passing all the failed engines.

I then spent a few more days consulting on their other measurement issues, but it was a relief to have the major problem solved, and I'm now seen as some sort of engine test savant.

Are we springing into a Y2K-class nightmare?

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: USA change its date format ...

Citation needed. I'm an engineer in the US and my international employer has used SI since the 1980s at least. The only difference I know of between the meter we use in the US and the metre used by my UK colleagues is the order of the "r" and "e" at the end.

Oddly, for a company that makes some very large things (tens of meters long) our standard is to use centimeters on all drawings.

Real-time software? How about real-time patching?

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: Site Acceptance Test

I had the opposite experience, sent to South Africa (Joburg) to train some engineers on software I'd developed. I was still at University working a co-op/internship semester. I went for a week during December, leaving behind snow and arriving in sunny 25 °C weather. Not sure why the training was scheduled in late December, maybe we had to have it done that calendar year, but in SA everyone has their main holidays over Christmas break because it's summer. So I was training engineers who would rather have been somewhere else.

Needless to say, after day two they decided that was enough training. I was driven up to Durban, put in a very nice four star hotel (because the cheap ones were all full) and spent three days shopping, having beers, and walking on the beach. In the evenings I was invited to braais (parties) at different engineers' houses.

Interestingly, although I never saw him, Nelson Mandela was staying at the same hotel as me in Durban, along with a contingent of politicians, due to some kind of talks going on.

Make assistive driving safe: Eliminate pedestrians

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: pedestrianism

The Pedestrian.


No, I've not read the screen. Your software must be rubbish

Andy the ex-Brit

"Al" here.

This would have been tough as most of these lab PCs weren't even on the network. Think back to 1998 or so. Most of the time we transferred files via "sneakernet" -- floppy or iomega Zip 100 drives (plugged into the parallel port with a buggy driver!)

Idea of downloading memories far-fetched say experts after Musk claim resurfaces in latest Neuralink development

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: Fitted into the skull, the implant ... inserted into areas of the brain

I'm going to recommend Steven Gould's "Helm." Maybe borderline juvie (I read it decades ago) but the back story involves perfection of machines for memory transference and programming, which kicks off an apocalyptic war as Shiites start using it to "convert" Sunnis and vice versa, Russians and Chinese to create perfect communist citizens, etc.

Machine learning the hard way: IBM Watson's fatal misdiagnosis

Andy the ex-Brit

Obvious suspect

"Like a corpse with a broken neck, 15 bullet holes and a strong smell of cyanide, it raised the question: which massive failure actually finished it off?"

Obviously, a certain BOFH named Simon. Probably best (for your health) not to investigate further.

'Can you identify your assailants?' Yes, they were pixelated! I'd know them anywhere!

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: occasionally being sampled when there's nothing left in the house.

When that's all gone, it's on to the Malört.

How to keep a support contract: Make the user think they solved the problem

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: Vents

My plant keeps falling off the top of my LCD and soiling my desk.

These Rapoo webcams won't blow your mind, but they also won't break the bank

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: I want manual DOF control

I use my Canon DSLR and the EOS Webcam Utility. Get a fast (wide aperature) lens and you can have great background blurring. Can probably get a good setup for only about £1000.

SAP 'investigating' after viral video allegedly shows anti-mask employee coughing on shoppers

Andy the ex-Brit

I'm not sure I could have resisted punching her in her stupid nose. I'd feel bad about it afterwards. A little. Maybe.

Giant Tesla battery providing explosion in renewable energy – not as intended

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: Smoke 'em if you've got 'em.

Arguably, some of the tar sands and shale oil fields are already beyond that point. The difference is being made up by "investors" as new money is used to keep paying the old.

Intrepid Change.org user launches petition to make Jeff Bezos' space trip one-way

Andy the ex-Brit

Maybe Kim Jong Un would like the last open seat.

Today I shall explain how dual monitors work using the medium of interpretive dance

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: The Obvious

That's what my bank seems to think. I couldn't possibly be making the browser window wider so that the transaction description text stops wrapping and it can therefore fit more rows on the screen. I just wanted whitespace.

Third time's a harm? Microsoft tries to get twice-rejected encoding patent past skeptical examiners

Andy the ex-Brit
Thumb Up

Yes, this

Just a couple of years ago, a high level technical manager called me in his office to solve a technical problem that caused us warranty issues. He described the problem. I'm an engineer with expertise in related devices. I thought about it for less than ten seconds and made a recommendation.

"We can't do that. [Competitor] has patented it."

Chill out, lockdown ain't over yet – perhaps FUZIX on the Pi Pico could feature in your weekend shed projects

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: Young people these days...

No "notebook" that came with 32 kB of RAM was in any sense "very thin." Back then we had what we called "luggables" that weighed at least 25 lb / 12 kg and had about 6" monochrome 25-line screens.

Healthy 32-year-old offered COVID-19 vaccine because doctors had him down as 6.2cm tall with BMI of 28,000

Andy the ex-Brit

The doctor entered the measurement correctly, but measured him while he was lying down.

The wastepaper basket is on the other side of the office – that must be why they put all these slots in the computer

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: Whoops mind your head if there is a fire, and dont trip

Nice place for a smoke break "outdoors"?

UK dev loses ownership claim on forensic software he said he wrote in spare time and licensed to employer

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: Related issue

When I joined my company 20+ years ago, we were given packets on our first day with all the paperwork we had to fill out, sign, and bring back the next day. One of my colleagues confided to me that he was not happy with the terms of the non-compete agreement so he just typed up and printed one more to his liking. Nobody in HR of course looked any closer than making sure all the correct pieces of paper were there and signed.

Dept of If I'd Known 20 Years Ago: Call centres, roosting chickens, and Bitcoin

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: So I'm not the only one .....

Have an upvote. They'll be along shortly to downvote you.

Raspberry Pi Foundation moves into microcontrollers with the $4 Pi Pico using homegrown silicon

Andy the ex-Brit

12-bit A/D disappointing

So close to what I need for an application! If they were 16-bit, or even 14-bit, I have a project I'd start today! Guaranteed to make me a thousandaire!

Who knew that hosing a table with copious amounts of cubic metres would trip adult filters?

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: Cubic metres? cm^3? ?? What is its abbrev.??

Instrumentation & flow measurement engineer here. I have never used CUM or anything like it for cubic meters. I don't need to use superscripts either, as superscript 3 is readily available as ASCII 179. On number pad, Alt 0179 gives ³, which I use in m³, m³/s, etc.

Alleged Ponzi mastermind on the run from FBI hid in lake with sea-scooter, collared after he surfaced half-hour later

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: Sounds like he was a dick but...

The 3-d printed copies of your own teeth are a nice final touch.

Missing Alan Turing memorabilia to be returned to Blighty from the US, 36 years after it went walkabout

Andy the ex-Brit

Wow, I googled her and found this old opinion piece she wrote. Delusional for sure!


There ain't no problem that can't be solved with the help of American horsepower – even yanking on a coax cable

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: soo...

Speaking of the "next guy", my brother was building a house, and having done a lot of improvement project and struggling to run wires, he went to the construction site one weekend and ran a piece of 4" or 6" pipe behind a wall from basement to attic. He figured he might want to run network one day in the future (this was before wiring houses with Ethernet was common.)

The house had a heat pump system with an additional purely resistance electric heater for very cold days. The resistors were in the attic, powered from the basement where the electrical entered. The builder apparently ran one gauge too small cable to them, and found this out only on final inspection when all the walls and ceiling were fully finished. My brother figures he saved that builder $10k by letting him run the replacement cable through his conduit.

Andy the ex-Brit

Re: Closest I've had to that ....

Here's one with a British accent for you... although he pronounces "solder" very oddly. Soda? Is he trying to sound like a Yank?