* Posts by GlenP

450 posts • joined 25 Apr 2012


So you really didn't touch the settings at all, huh? Well, this print-out from my secret backup says otherwise

GlenP Silver badge

Re: It went wrong all by itself

The VAX 11/785 had a cutdown PDP that was the boot controller

"Happy" memories of applying a VMS upgrade on an 11/780 that for some reason had been supplied on 8" floppies, the drive for which was part of the PDP in the bottom of the cabinet. I can't remember exactly how many disks I had to insert and remove but I think it was around 75.

That week the Beeb's computer programme was about storage, they showed an 8" disk with the comment, "Nobody uses these any more!" I was not amused.

This'll make you feel old: Uni compsci favourite Pascal hits the big five-oh this year

GlenP Silver badge

I Remember...

Pascal was the primary high level teaching language at Newcastle Uni when I was there in the early-mid 80's. IIRC it was the UBC* flavour which had a couple of oddities (such as the character map not having A follow 9), running on an IBM S/370. I just missed punch card input by one year as they implemented a Unix based data entry system, it was still a minimum 15 minute wait from submission to results though which taught us to get it right first time.

I later acquired the two Pascal ROMs for the Beeb B so continued with the language after entering the world of work.

*University of British Columbia

Did nobody tell them about the lockdown? Logitech releases new 'luggable' mechanical keyboard for LAN parties

GlenP Silver badge

How Much?

It's around 30 years since I spent that much (of someone else's money) on a keyboard.

SAP proves, yet again, that Excel is utterly unkillable

GlenP Silver badge

Re: In my experience

I gave up, I largely just create Excel spreadsheets with linked data. At least that way I can generally control the source.

Windows invokes Sgrîn Las Marwolaeth upon Newport

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

Generally listed as Llanfair PG which is much easier!

We beg, implore and beseech thee. Stop reusing the same damn password everywhere

GlenP Silver badge

Re: protect what you value


I have a generic password that I know has been compromised but is still in use on a few sites where it really, really doesn't matter. Eventually I'll probably catch up and change them to something equally obvious.

For anything that is important I use totally unique passwords and a password manager.

It looks like you want a storage appliance for your data centre. Maybe you'd prefer a smart card reader?

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Bit like Amazon at the moment

Photographer says yes but can't use any of them as Reagan wasn't wearing the correct protective equipment.

When I was on the editorial team for a festival newsletter we had exactly the same issue. Someone would say, "I've got a great picture of X doing Y!" We'd immediately reject it due to incorrect PPE, bad working practice, etc.

Square peg of modem won't fit into round hole of PC? I saw to it, bloke tells horrified mate

GlenP Silver badge

Re: DIMM Slots

I had a PHB who did something similar, except he only asked me for assistance when the newly inserted module started smoking!

Dumpster diving to revive a crashing NetWare server? It was acceptable in the '90s

GlenP Silver badge

Very Minor...

Had a very minor bodge on an HP 486 SCO Unix server where the power switch was perilously close to the tape eject button. Fortunately we discovered this whilst still in the test phase and not when the server was live.

The fix was simple, cut up a DAT tape box to provide two pieces of plastic with a workable hinge between them and attach to the server with double-sided tape forming a cover over the power switch.

House of Commons agrees to allow Zoom app in Parliament, British MPs will still have to dress smartly

GlenP Silver badge

We've used GotoMeeting for several years and have expanded out licensing in the current situation.

It was the best solution I found of several tried/

A paper clip, a spool of phone wire and a recalcitrant RS-232 line: Going MacGyver in the wonderful world of hotel IT

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Remember serial breakout boxes?

Yep, see above!

I'm wondering where mine is as I'm sure I wouldn't have disposed of it (I never throw out IT kit!)

GlenP Silver badge


I have not-so-fond memories of RS-232 from those days, debugging both hardware and software could be a right pain in the proverbial.

I ended up making my own test lead set, two cables with 9 and 25 pin D-connectors at one end and a 25 pin at the other, plus a single long extension and a bought in test/breakout box. It served me well for a few years when serial printers and comms were common.

Hardware/software issues included twice developing suitable hardware and drivers to run a plotter over the same serial line as the terminal. For reasons lost in the mists of time we couldn't use the AUX (or was it PRT?) port on the DEC VT-220 for the first so had to construct a wire tap, for the second we could just set the VT to pass-through but had to tweak the drivers as one of the Calcomp plotter commands would cause the terminal to lock up.

In a later job we had a MicroVAX 2000 with 4 separate RS-485 connected serial port hubs. The hardware was second-hand (it had been the test/demo kit for the MRP system provider) so the hubs came with a single backplane. It made far more sense to run a single RS-485 connection to the more distant offices instead of large bundles of serial cables but DEC wanted a ridiculous sum for separate PSUs for each hub. I handed it over to our in-house electronics engineer who built me 3 wall boxes to act as RS-485 terminations and power supplies so the hubs could just plug in.

Upstart Americans brandish alligators at the almighty Reg Standards Soviet

GlenP Silver badge

Re: The alligator is not a unit of measurement

Although, as I suspect the alligator would be quicker than me

Apparently they give up chasing on land very quickly so a few Osmans away is quite adequate.

You in for a curl up and dye? Yeah, looks like the same for this screen in a hairdressers

GlenP Silver badge

In a Nutshell

I spend a happy afternoon in the Nutshell drinking Abbot. It's so small everyone has to be friendly!

Beer ----> 'cause Thursday is the new Friday this week!

Reg fashion special: Top designer says 'video chat accessories' are in for spring!

GlenP Silver badge

Hmm, visible in mine are a couple of toolboxes, a pair of ear defenders and a workmate plus spare monitors and a model railway baseboard.

They already know I'm a sad git so I'm not bothered!

We're number two! Microsoft's Edge browser slips past Firefox in latest set of NetMarketShare figures

GlenP Silver badge

The key feature for Edge is not clear

There is an advantage where you've got legacy apps that only work properly on IE as the Chromium Edge compatibility modes work OK (provided your happy to fiddle with GPOs).

Real-time tragedy: Dumb deletion leaves librarian red-faced and fails to nix teenage kicks on the school network

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Similar

Even more useful when it was the only DC on that domain

Which is why you always have a backup DC!

Absolutely everyone loves video conferencing these days. Some perhaps a bit too much

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Paris...

You did remember to travel with carry on hand luggage only, didn't you?

No luggage at all on the return, and only the one laptop case on the way there, fortunately.

GlenP Silver badge
Paris Hilton


I once had to do a day trip to a sister company there, essentially all I did was deliver a laptop that they didn't want (wrong keyboard, QWERTY not AZERTY) and have a nice lunch* before spending several hours in the concrete hell of CDG's Eurohub due to a cancelled flight.

Afterwards people were saying, "Paris, how lucky you are!" Business travel ain't glamorous.

*And deliver a magazine to a colleague. He kept asking on the phone if I could take him a copy of Whateefee. It took ages to figure he meant What HiFi.

Huawei P40 pricing is in step with previous P-series efforts – but flagship lacks the apps punters have come to expect

GlenP Silver badge

It is all about the apps...

It was the lack of apps more than anything else that killed Windows Phone in my view. I finally gave it up when MS wouldn't even bring the Office apps up to the same level as the iOS and Android versions.

Whatever we IT professionals may think the general public wants the convenience of apps. Yes, most things can run on websites (but note the comment above, a lot of 2FA is app based now) but a few screen presses are a lot quicker and easier for the digital generation. Given a choice of Brand X with a full app store and Huawei with a restricted one, and phones that are comparable in performance and price, they'll go for Brand X.

Announcing the official Reg-approved measure of social distancing: The Osman

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Tallest men in British TV

Martin Bayfield (rugby presenter) is 6'10" (1.038 Osmans). I stood next to him in a bar once, he was ducking and I still got a sore neck.

That awful moment when what you thought was a number 1 turned out to be a number 2

GlenP Silver badge

Not quite the same but we had a French placement student who'd spent all day typing a Word document (when it was DOS based) without saving it. She then closed Word and ignored the warning message.

Fortunately in those days some judicious use of Norton tools enabled me to retrieve the temp file so it just needed tidying up.

Surge in home working highlights Microsoft licensing issue: If you are not on subscription, working remotely is a premium feature

GlenP Silver badge

Good Job...

Good job I made sure we have enough CALs in place in advance then!

Not having enough hardware is a more serous issue. We've just about managed to scrape together enough kit for our desktop users if/when it's needed (not everyone is working from home yet) but we've been caught out by headsets for VOIP and online meetings. Managed to get a few 3.5mm plug ones from Amazon (assuming they're not hijacked on the way) but no USB ones to be found.

Captain Caveman rides to the rescue, solves a prickly PowerPoint problem with a magical solution

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Yesterday

Thank you for the virtual beer!

That's exactly what we're doing here. Trying to sort people out as quickly as we can.

HMD Global revamps infamous commuter-botherer, the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Shut up and take my money

Could someone explain to a poor Canadian what the "c" in "and c" refers to? Probably a party drug reference, I'd guess, but I don't know the lingo.

and c is a slightly archaic version of etc.

I can actually see a use for these as a festival/exercising/whatever burner phone where you want music and to take calls but aren't bothered about anything much else.

You get fibre, you get fibre, you all get fibre: UK Ministry of Fun promises new rules to make all new homes gigabit capable

GlenP Silver badge

Re: If it's wanted, of course

We recently had FTTP installed locally as part of one of the rural broadband initiatives. As I've already got 70 Meg FTTC I see little point in paying nearly double, and nor do any other locals as far as I'm aware.

Not exactly the kind of housekeeping you want when it means the hotel's server uptime is scrubbed clean

GlenP Silver badge

Re: The cleaner did it.

Except when it's the Hare...

Possibly apocryphal* but way back in the mid 80s** a system kept failing in the early evening once or twice most weeks. It was clearly a power issue but everything tested out OK. Eventually somebody twigged that the outages coincided with meetings at the next door dog track.

As told it was starting the hare running that caused a power dip, we suspected it was more likely when the floodlights were turned on.

*I was told it by a software guy from the supplier involved who'd got it from one of their field engineers.

**When UPSs were less common,

Want to own a bit of Concorde? Got £750k burning a hole in your pocket? We have just the thing

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Light the fire

My Dad worked at Bristol then Rolls Royce Aero but I don't think he worked on these engines at all. His claim to fame was doing a lot of the first-off inspection on components for the prototype RB211 including the turbine blades. Apparently they had no way of actually measuring these, it was more a case of checking the correct machining settings had been used.

What's inside a tech freelancer's backpack? That's right, EVERYTHING

GlenP Silver badge

Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

Which is all very well until you've travelled a very long way* for a meeting only to find one of the key people has forgotten their laptop charger, the battery is flat and it's an unusual power socket. Then you're very grateful you packed the universal charger.

*In my case from the UK to Brisbane**

**OK, I was doing other things over there but this really happened in the first meeting I attended

BOFH: Here he comes, all wide-eyed with the boundless optimism of youth. He is me, 30 years ago... what to do?

GlenP Silver badge

Mixed Feelings

I'm about to hold the weekly online IT meeting and I'm in a similar position with my latest recruit. He's keen, possibly a bit too keen and I really don't want to disillusion him. He wasn't even born when I started in the industry!

On the other hand he needs to learn some cynicism to do the job properly.

If it's Goodenough for me, it's Goodenough for you: Canuck utility biz goes all in on solid-state glass battery boffinry

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Still a problem though

Indeed, and major upgrades to power supply infrastructure. It will come, but I doubt it will be in my lifetime despite the UK Government's "commitments" (in fact all they've committed to is to discuss it with interested parties).

Sure, check through my background records… but why are you looking at my record collection?

GlenP Silver badge

Coding test

I used to wonder how some drop-file jockey from Human Resources at a big software company would evaluate an applicant's programming skills

I genuinely had this at a software company, the test was to decode and explain an SQL script. IIRC it was a bulk change on VAT rates or something similar.

Apparently "Accounts have screwed up again" was not the correct answer, I was expected to describe each step of the script.

I didn't get the job and to be honest wasn't bothered.

I heard somebody say: Burn baby, burn – server inferno!

GlenP Silver badge

Re: How about a nice long hot summer?

there definitely some cowboys out there

Like the ones who installed two inadequate heat pumps in our server cupboard at previous premises (before my time I hasten to add) putting the "outside" part on the other side of the internal wall, in the factory part of the building a few inches below a metal roof.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to save data from a computer that should have died aeons ago

GlenP Silver badge

Serial Taps

Back in the mid to late eighties I worked on DEC VAX systems, coincidentally at both my first two jobs we needed to hook up plotters via serial ports. Due to the way the software worked we could only do this by tapping in to the terminal serial line (first instance) or via the secondary serial port on the VT terminal (second instance).

In both cases we got it working but I seem to recall on the second one we had to add a preface string in the printer driver to stop the VT accepting commands as otherwise it would lock up when a particular sequence was sent to the plotter.

I think I've still got an RS-232 breakout box somewhere!

Smartwatch owners love their calorie-counting gadgets, but they are verrry expensive

GlenP Silver badge

I'll admit to having a "smart" watch. After a lot of searching I settled on a Garmin that's a traditional "analogue" watch (not a picture of one) with a small notifications screen.

Why? It's useful to be able to preview the emails and messages coming in without having to get my phone out. I use the fitness tracking to a limited extent in that I have a personal weekly target and when the watch detects and logs moderate exercise I can include that.

Battery life is around 7 days with full facilities then it drops down to being just a dumb watch if you don't recharge it so much better than more sophisticated devices.

C'mon SPARCky, it's just an admin utility update. What could possibly go wrong?

GlenP Silver badge

Re: different colors

That wasn't an option back in the day, the choice of colours was generally green, green or green!

GlenP Silver badge

Overall the Apricot architecture was better than the IBM I believe, but the PC clones started flooding the market and became the only option.

GlenP Silver badge

As soon as I noticed rm -r * in the text I could see what was coming!

I've narrowly avoided that one, but back in the late 80s I was working for an Apricot dealer supporting a mixture of IBMs, clones and Apricots. The problem was the latter had the HD as drive A not drive C. A couple of times I went to do a high level format of a floppy and started formatting the HD instead.

Fortunately it was easy to spot and stop, Norton Undelete was effective provided you knew the first letters of the filenames and as the software installed was our own I could figure it out.

Hear, hear: The first to invent idiot-cancelling headphones gets my cash

GlenP Silver badge

I used an app and online ticket for a train journey last year, largely because the station I was starting from was unmanned and without ticket machines*.

The person manning the barriers at Shrewsbury was amazed that I managed to get the QR code on the screen recognised, as I approached the barrier phone in hand he was already stepping forward to assist!

*I was vindicated, someone tried to purchase a ticket on the train with a debit card. The Guard's card reader only works when there's a 4G signal, something which is fairly rare in the Welsh Marches.

Tech can endure the most inhospitable environments: Space, underwater, down t'pit... even hairdressers

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Ex fruity genius...

I had a DEC terminal that was in a major fire, it was the only piece of kit retrieved out of the computer room (a VAX 11/750 and 11/780 were destroyed).

Despite the very melted case we plugged it in and switched it on from a safe distance, it campe up with VT240 OK, albeit somewhat faintly.

Fed-up air safety bods ban A350 pilots from enjoying cockpit coffees

GlenP Silver badge

Re: The problem is obvious from the picture

I'll bet that in Boeing cockpits, being made in America, there are about 20 of them.

I believe the highest cupholder to seat ratio was achieved in the Dodge Caravan, 20 cupholders for 7 seats! To be fair this was partly due to the number of ways the seats could be configured.

This AI is full of holes: Brit council fixes thousands of road cracks spotted by algorithm using sat snaps

GlenP Silver badge

Re: I have a simpler and lower cost solution

Pick a road, any road, send a squad out and fill in all the potholes you see with your v1 eyeballs

That's fine unless they do what happened in my street. They parked their wagon over the biggest blooming pot hole of the lot, filled the others in and drove off.

Things I learned from Y2K (pt 87): How to swap a mainframe for Microsoft Access

GlenP Silver badge

We Still Use Access

We use Access for a label printing system. it was a relatively simple way of building a set of forms and reports to access SQL data and format the output. If I had to replace it I'm not sure what I'd use now but it would probably end up having to buy something in.

Ah, night shift in the 1970s. Ciggies, hipflasks, ADVENT... and fault-prone disk drives the size of washing machines

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Never keep trying without diagnosing.


That reminded me of the time when an operator plugged a 3270 terminal in, switched it on and it started emitting smoke. I could just about forgive him for destroying a second terminal by plugging it in to the same socket (after all I'd probably have assumed it was the terminal that was faulty) but not for the third one.

It turned out some dodgy wiring in the factory had resulted in the neutral being connected to one of the phases on the 3-phase supply instead of to where it should have been,

GlenP Silver badge

Re: DEC field service engineers

As mentioned in the article DECUS was a good source of such things, we used to take a couple of spare tapes along to meetings "just in case".

On a more useful level, with PCs just starting to come into use, we acquired a copy of Kermit* for the VAX & PDPs at one of the user meetings. Very handy for transferring data between systems.

*For the youngsters it was an extremely useful cross-platform file transfer protocol.

So you locked your backups away for years, huh? Allow me to introduce my colleagues, Brute, Force and Ignorance

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Too cold to boot

Back 30+ years ago when I worked for a small software house & PC dealer we made a rule that any new systems in winter had to sit in the office for a minimum of 24 hours before being set up. Typically they'd arrive from the carrier freezing cold, would format and install OK but then the HDs would fail the next day requiring them to be reformatted.

GlenP Silver badge


Hammering isn't necessarily the best option here. Giving the box (or drive if really bad) a good twist in the disk's horizontal plane was usually the best option.Had a 486SX box as a work machine that ran for a year or so like that.

We did have one really stubborn drive that, as a last resort with the data lost anyway, we took the top off and manually spun up the platters to get them moving. It survived long enough to retrieve the required files.

Need 32-bit Linux to run past 2038? When version 5.6 of the kernel pops, you're in for a treat

GlenP Silver badge

I'm currently writing software that will work OK through to 2031. If they increase the retirement age between now and then I may have to revisit some of the programs!

Take DOS, stir in some Netware, add a bit of Windows and... it's ALIIIIVE!

GlenP Silver badge

Not in the same league but in around 2008 I was consulting for a few days for my recently former employers. The new PFY desperately needed to get some data off an old DOS machine, used for a weighing system, that didn't have working USB or even an FD. It did, however, have a network card (NE-2000 based of course).

Said PFY didn't realise you could run up the network and connect to the server using only DOS commands.

Beware the Friday afternoon 'Could you just..?' from the muppet who wants to come between you and your beer

GlenP Silver badge

In terms of an hourly rate across the year it probably wasn't great, but a friend would give me a bottle of decent whisky every Christmas for helping him.

Equally I've had four pack of decent beer for 10 minutes work unlocking a mobile phone so it probably works out OK in the end.



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