* Posts by Rufus McDufus

94 posts • joined 23 Mar 2012


He was a skater boy. We said, 'see you later, boy' – and the VAX machine mysteriously began to work as intended

Rufus McDufus


Rollerblading? Pah. We used to mountaineer around the server room of DEC/Systime VAXes, bigger old Suns, Goulds, IBMs, ICLs etc. Never killed one. Well apart from maybe a Gould which crashed every ten minutes anyway.

Rufus McDufus

I member in our server room at a university I worked as an operator, we had a few little Mac SEs (I think they were) which functioned as file servers for an AppleTalk network. These were located close to our seating area. I remember chatting to my boss once and noticing suddenly they were all aflame just behind him. Not the first fiery incident with early Macs & SEs either.

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

Rufus McDufus


"Dodging the usual hallway ambushes with which those that Know A Bit About IT are so frequently cursed" - or often the walkway through a large open-planned office, known to fellow tech staff in several companies I worked at as "sniper's alley".

Mainframe madness as the snowflakes take control – and the on-duty operator hasn't a clue how to stop the blizzard

Rufus McDufus

Operator revenge

My first job was as an operator at a university. As well as the old mainframe gear in the server room I sat in, we also had some shiny new Sun workstations in the labs. Bored in a late shift, and with a view of all the labs from where I sat, it was fun to discover I could logon remotely to a student's workstation and run the "falling snowflake" utility on their screen, or occasional static, or ants running around, or turn their display upside down. Simpler times.

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

Rufus McDufus

Re: Just do a text search

Ooh you cheeky monkey.

Fancy watching 'Bake Off' together with mates and alone at the same time? The BBC's built a tool to do that

Rufus McDufus

Re: And yet they still can't manage subtitles....

I've not yet seen subtitles on programmes played at their scheduled time. They seem to be added on catch-up though. No idea why and it makes viewing "live" pretty hopeless for someone deaf like me.

More annoying with BBC4 as they changed the multiplexes around for S London (and elsewhere?) a couple of years ago and many people with fairly standard-type TV aerials can't get BBC4 terrestrially, so the only option is via iPlayer. The claim is that it's temporary so I don't want to change aerial for something temporary. Plus it looks like they're dumping BBC4 at the end of the year anyway.

Capita, Fujitsu and pals tuck into slices of £3bn London NHS framework

Rufus McDufus

The Usual Suspects.

Remember the Dutch kid who stuck his finger in a dam to save the village? Here's the IT equivalent

Rufus McDufus

I worked for Imperial College a long time ago and they had guided tours of the server rooms. The emergency stop buttons were located quite high up, but not quite high enough to avoid being hit by some tall spotty prospective's head as they leant back on the wall. Happened at least twice IIRC.

Rufus McDufus

Laughing at me

Same happened to me, probably more than once, but the one I remember is in the early days of a certain large e-commerce retailer using, then Dec Alpha servers Went to reboot an app server, pressed button on NFS server. Spotted mistake while finger was still pressing button. Stuck there while colleagues came in and laughed at me.

We are absolutely, definitively, completely and utterly out of IPv4 addresses, warns RIPE

Rufus McDufus

It's not static. It changes from time to time - which is annoying.

College student with 'visions of writing super-cool scripts' almost wipes out faculty's entire system

Rufus McDufus

Re: I too have had that

I found a script at a certain bank which did that. Well I found the script after it had destroyed a few systems. It had the immortal "rm -rf /$variable" where of course $variable hadn't been set.

Rufus McDufus

Yep - did that on a Solaris box a long time ago, and it didn't just go up one level but all the way to the root directory (and everything underneath). That might have been an early Solaris quirk.

Users fail to squeak through basic computer skills test. Well, it was the '90s

Rufus McDufus


My very first full time job was tech support in the Comp Sci dept at a well known London university. One day a senior lecturer came down with a sorry looking (probably Sun) keyboard. She said she'd puked on it, and then in her infinite wisdom decided to soak it in cooking oil to see if that helped. Needless to say it was knackered, and I wasn't super keen on investigating further.

OK Google, why was your web traffic hijacked and routed through China, Russia today?

Rufus McDufus

Cui bono?

I suspect we'll never really know who did it.

Sysadmin left finger on power button for an hour to avert SAP outage

Rufus McDufus

Emergency power off

First job working in the comp sci department at a well-known technology-focused university in London. Annually we'd show prospective students around the facilities including the server rooms. There were big red emergency power-off buttons in various places. A particularly tall budding student decides to lean back against the wall and... These were the days of IBM 4331s, various DEC servers, a big ICL mainframe and others. Generally things didn't tend to work well after a sudden power-off.

Rufus McDufus

Did this myself

DEC AlphaServer, also around 1999, working for well-known internet-based retailer. Went to power cycle some server, accidentally pressed power button on adjacent server (probably a rather critical NFS server). Boss came in after 10 minutes and laughed at me stuck there.

How long does it take an NHS doctor to turn on a computer?

Rufus McDufus

Ha, I once worked for Data General supporting those Clariion arrays used by hospitals. I remember one big hospital in particular, who provided a computer room for the new equipment. An onsite tech told me the story of the computer room. Initially they realised they'd forgotten something - mains power. Rip all the machines out, fit power, put machines back in. Once fitted, the realised they'd forgotten something else - network cables. Move all the machines out again, fit networking, put machines back in. Turn everything on - yay! Bugger - it's all getting rather hot. Oh no, we forgot cooling. Move machines out, fit aircon, put machines back in. Aircon not fitted properly, floods the computer room...

Perhaps middle-aged blokes SHOULDN'T try 34-hour-long road trips

Rufus McDufus

Re: Lane merging

We don't really have a standard for that in the UK. I can think of 3 examples of slow merging to fast within about 3 miles of my home.

'Use 1 capital' password prompts make them too predictable – study

Rufus McDufus

Long passwords

Password handling is one of the most borked aspects of websites. The amount of sites that don't specify a max number of chars but will let you enter (say) a 20 or 30 char password, and then mysteriously you're unable to login afterwards because presumably they've trimmed the password to some invisible maximum and you haven't got a clue what it is.

Samsung's spying smart TVs don't encrypt voice recordings sent over the internet – new claim

Rufus McDufus

Re: Hollywood is responsible....

If we're talking ancient unpatched versions of OpenSSL with glaring security flaws then 100 Microsofts = 1 Apple.

Scary code of the week: Valve Steam CLEANS Linux PCs (if you're not careful)

Rufus McDufus

I've not fallen for the old unset/empty variable problem with rm, but back in the nineties on an early Solaris or possibly SunOS 4.x box I wanted to remove some hidden directories so executed something like 'rm -rf \.*' . Whether due to a bug or my misunderstanding it also started removing everything in '..' and continued going upwards to the root directory and traversing into other subdirectories. I wasn't popular. And it was my job to put it right - which I did!

Amazon DROPS next day delivery amid Cyber Monday MADNESS

Rufus McDufus

Re: never used Amazon

I worked for Amazon and it was one of the best-paid jobs I ever had.

Mysterious BEAM outside London Googleplex ZAPPED

Rufus McDufus

Proof that Google are planning on charging the man in the street.

Shoot to THRILL: Assassin's Creed: Unity and Halo: Master Chief Collection

Rufus McDufus

Re: I used to like AC

I hated AC3. It was just repetitive and I found remembering all the moves way too much. AC4 was fantastic though - try it.

The last PC replacement cycle is about to start turning

Rufus McDufus


Apple's iOS developers develop the OS only using an iPhone or iPad? If so, I'll be impressed.

Fanboi-and-fanfare-free fondleslabs fail to fire imagination

Rufus McDufus

Re: Ah!

iOS 8 has ruined my iPad Air 1 and the 2 as well judging by all the complaints on the Apple forums.

Jony Ive: Flattered by rivals' designs? Nah, its 'theft'

Rufus McDufus

Re: @SuccessCase Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

Has it occurred to you that 'techies' may not be the ones designing the phone styling and look & feel of the OS?

No one wants iOS 8 because it's for NERDS - dev

Rufus McDufus

Re: iOS ME ?

Did that yesterday. Still not fixed my iPad Air. It's absolutely destroyed it. Safari in particular has so many problems it's unusable.

You can ring my #bellogate. EMAIL STORM hits 29,000 hapless UCL students

Rufus McDufus

Wow, is it 1997 again?

MOST iPhone strokers SPURN iOS 8: iOS 7 'un-updatening' in 5...4...

Rufus McDufus


It's the changes to Safari that bug me. The irritating autohide address bar for one. Plus Safari seems to hang frequently. The pinch-zoom crash bug isn't fixed either.

One step closer to robot butlers: Dyson flashes vid of vacuum sucker bot

Rufus McDufus

Re: This being Dyson ...

Don't tell me - Apple will sue because the Roomba has curved edges?

Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade

Rufus McDufus

Re: Confusing wording indeed

No way! It's much more fun making snarky comments at the bottom of the article. That's what life is all about.

The cute things they say

Rufus McDufus


Here's a couple.

First - the mail server is running out of disk space. We decide to implement the obvious policy of emptying everyone's trash, removing emails more than a month old. I immediately get calls from at least 5 users saying 'where have all my old emails gone?'. 'What do you mean' I say, 'you got the warnings that we're emptying the trash with emails older than a month?'. Every one of them then tells me that the trash folder is where they store _all_ their emails. The reasoning is that it's quicker to hit 'delete' than put them in a folder. They've got a point I suppose ...

Second - my first job at a top science and engineering university in the early 90s. Female professor of computing comes in one morning with a sorry-looking Sun 3/60 keyboard. 'It's not working', she says. I took a look at this rather greasy keyboard. After asking how it got this way, she told me... She'd puked on the keyboard. Thinking the acid in puke probably wasn't very good for it she decided to wash the keyboard. Not in water though as most people would do (and probably wreck the keyboard too but that's not important right now). No, she decided cooking oil would be a suitable cleaning solvent so she drenched the keyboard in it.

Egghead dragged over coals for mining Bitcoin on uni supercomputer

Rufus McDufus

If it is anything like the supercomputer I used to manage at a particular UK university, I suspect he was the only one who'd actually figured out how to use the thing.

Londoners urged to cut landlines and take up wireless broadband

Rufus McDufus

Their availability checker doesn't work for me on Firefox on Windows but works with IE. How quaint.

'Amazon has destroyed the unicorn factory' ... How clouds are making sysadmins extinct

Rufus McDufus

Re: Most sysadmins out there have never heard of rsync

There's always cygwin, with rsync loaded. :)

Web inventor Berners-Lee: I so did NOT see this cat vid thing coming

Rufus McDufus

Though hyperlinks were in frequent use before TBL's paper - for instance I remember the concept in Apple's HyperCard. Though of course Tim extended the concept to become the URL, which was really the clever bit.

Five unbelievable headlines that claim Tim Berners-Lee 'INVENTED the INTERNET'

Rufus McDufus

Re: www = internet

Or 'the internet's down'. Okee - the internet's down or your PC is screwed. it's bound to be the entire internet isn't it?

Android holds steady as iOS and Windows Phone slip in Kantar reports

Rufus McDufus

Re: I don't know about that

Spain, France & Italy aren't terribly rich at the moment.

Amazon's 'schizophrenic' open source selfishness scares off potential talent, say insiders

Rufus McDufus

I'm ex-Amazon, but from a long time ago (left 2005). They do rely on open source but only generally as a building block (e.g languages). Most of the big stuff is bespoke and perhaps is not so useful outside of the context of Amazon where they really do like to re-invent the wheel, and rather scarily often do it better.

Furtive ebook readers push Hitler's Mein Kampf up the charts

Rufus McDufus

I worked for Amazon early on and can remember the consternation when a certain book went to the top of the bestseller list. It was 'A Hand in the Bush: The Fine Art of Vaginal Fisting'. They tweaked the listing so it didn't appear. Most disappointing.

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Ten tech treats from yesteryear

Rufus McDufus


Takes me right back! I dreamed of an Atari VCS but my mate had an Atari 400 which frankly was better. Star Raiders blew my tiny mind and we spent hours playing Asteroids (one of the best implementations IMHO).

Also Casio fx-570 - tsk, forgotten about that. Proper little workhorse.

Ultimate Doctor Tom Baker REGENERATES, RETURNS to WHO

Rufus McDufus

All this talk of Ecclestone, and just watching the F1 qualifying, made me think Bernie Ecclecstone could be a handy Davros.

Samsung's at it AGAIN: SHATTERING profit records, that is

Rufus McDufus

Re: Non-linear exchange rates.

The won crashed while the journalist was typing.

UK's tech capital named: Read it and weep, Tech City startup hipsters

Rufus McDufus

Re: When I lived in Bracknell...

Do I know you? That perfectly describes a company I worked for! The CEO lived in Ascot. Company moved there eventually.

Rufus McDufus

Sadly the article seems a bit confused. TVP and Suttons are most definitely not in Wokingham! Despite that though, Wokingham does definitely have a very large proportion of IT companies.

Rufus McDufus

Re: Molly Millars Lane

I spent some time working in Wokingham for different s/w houses back in the late 80s and mid 90s. You're right, getting pissed at lunch/morning/afternoon was a necessary feature. The necessity of doing this seemed to disappear about ten years ago. Maybe we all just got older.

Glasgow subway's new smart tickets aren't, moan passengers

Rufus McDufus

Re: £1.10 for a return?

£3000 pa would £8.20 a day if you travelled every single day of the year. More like £13 a day on average if you deduct (say) 20 days holiday and some public holidays.

Red Hat to ditch MySQL for MariaDB in RHEL 7

Rufus McDufus

Re: Satellite Server

You can use PostgreSQL if you like - it's a supported option.

Nicked unencrypted PC with 6,000 bank details lands council fat fine

Rufus McDufus

What a terrible punishment, getting someone else to pay the fine.



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