* Posts by I Am Spartacus

315 posts • joined 17 May 2012


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

I Am Spartacus

Re: This is why...

I try meditating. Zen Buddhism helps, chanting a specific word. And the word is


Zero. Zilch. Nada. That's how many signs of intelligent life astroboffins found in probe of TEN MILLION stars

I Am Spartacus

Data - its a bitch

They looked at 100 Million Stars.

There are 100 Billion stars in our galaxy. There are over a billion galaxies. So, thats, <click> <click> 1E20 stars in the universe (give or take the odd one or two).

So they have looked at a sample size of 0.000000001%

No shit sherlock.

IT blunder permanently erases 145,000 users' personal chats in KPMG's Microsoft Teams deployment – memo

I Am Spartacus

Well, there goes their FSA license

KPMG should have their FSA license revoked, but probably won't.

I recall working with a large commodity trading group who had to install, and prove that they had installed, robust chat backup of all chat facilities. That caused a lot of angst when traders were told that they could only use specific named, versions of tools for IM and chat. These were the ones that had centrally controlled backup policies. Failure was to risk revoking the license to trade.

Conveiently being found out that all the history had been erased would not have been good. Not good at all.

Microsoft Defender casts a jaundiced eye over Citrix, slams services in quarantine on suspicion of being malware

I Am Spartacus

Re: Microsoft Defender fails Microsoft

Best laugh all day - Nice One!

I Am Spartacus

Microsoft Defender fails Microsoft

A have a Surface tablet that runs Windows 10 and Defender. It has decided that a feature update from Microsoft is malware and refuses to install it. Windows 10 detects that the install has failed and repeats the download / install.

Rinse and repeat. The surface now can't take any MS updates.

So why not just disable Defender? Because its controlled by policies published by the CIO, who has read the Dummies Guid to Defender, and turned on all the defence mechanisms remotely. Including the one that allows safe removal of Defender.

So, I now have a shiny doorstop.


Geneticists throw hands in the air, change gene naming rules to finally stop Microsoft Excel eating their data

I Am Spartacus

Re: CSVs


Are these not good enough for Scientists?

I Am Spartacus

Why you don't use a spreadhseet as a database

How many time have we said it: EXCEL IS NOT A DATABASE.

It a wonderfully, full function spreadsheet. It handles spreadsheet data. It does it well, and for most people it is pretty inuitive. I normally bash Microsoft, but Excel is very good.

But it is not a data storage or data transfer tool. We have very good databases (SQL Server or Access if you want to stick with Microsoft - other databases are available).

So, Scientists, use a tool suitable for the job and stop whining when you use a hammer to crack a peanut and your peanut goes to dust.

Euro police forces infiltrated encrypted phone biz – and now 'criminal' EncroChat users are being rounded up

I Am Spartacus

Re: Matters arising


The noise you're hearing is black helicopters circling whilst the boy's kick in your doors.

Easyjet hacked: 9 million people's data accessed plus 2,200 folks' credit card details grabbed

I Am Spartacus

Well, me too.

"Our investigation found that your name, email address, and travel details were accessed for the easyJet flights or easyJet holidays you booked between 17th October 2019 and 4th March 2020."

But I haven't booked a holiday with EasyJet for well over 3 years. Certainly not between 2019 and 2020.

Me thinks the greek complains too much.

Former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman calls on UK govt to legally protect data from contact-tracing apps

I Am Spartacus

Re: "A minister's letter is not legal protection"

It was interesting when I looked as the Oxford University app. I am somewhat anally retentive abuout EULA so I downloaded theirs. Oh, yes, lots of happy-clappy statements about how safe the data was, how it won't be misused etc. And then it came to who they will share data with:




MailChimp (and here comes the spam)


This list goes on. Unfortunately, I can't find it in the app store to confirm all of this. But safe to say, I was extremely concerned.

NHS contact-tracing app is best in the world, says VMware CEO... whose company helped build it

I Am Spartacus

Spring in to NHS?

Can we expect that Pivotal have built the NHS app in Spring Boot?

Cloudflare goes retro with COBOL delivery service. Older coders: Who's laughing now? Turns out we're still vital

I Am Spartacus

Hello World in Cobol

The issue is not how long Hello World is in Cobol (it's 5 lines, if your asking).

No, the problem is how long the JCL is to compile it on IBM/MVS - that can be twice the size of the program. EASILY!

Oh, and only truly experienced programmers remember that the compiler was called: IGYWCLG

Apollo 13 set off into space 50 years ago today. An ignored change order ensured it did not make it to the Moon...

I Am Spartacus

Re: Lucky 13

Like you, I was glued to the TV and my little transistor radio. I had watched as Apollo 8 went around the moon in wonder and awe. I woke up at some ungodly hour to watch Armstrong and Aldrin walk on the moon. I was a child of the space race and it never, ever gets tedious.

I just rewatched the movie, obliviously knowing the ending, but never getting bored by it.

And yes, I highly recommend both of Kevin Fong's podcasts "13 minutes to the moon". The testament of those who are played out on the screen is fantastic, chilling and inspiring.

Damn you, coronavirus. Damn you. Now you've gone too far: James Webb Space Telescope, Moon mission work paused

I Am Spartacus

Re: Sad, but necessary

Whilst I agree the steps are necessary, and that the moon is likely to be up there for some time (assuming Seveneves was not a prophesy), there is a problem. The James Webb space telescope was already running behind schedule and is fighting to make a launch window. If it misses the window, I don't know when it will launch.

If budget cuts happen (looks likely) then its just possible JWST could be another victim of COVID

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

I Am Spartacus

Fake News!!!

I'm calling Bullsh*t on this one. It was believable right up to the point where he said the manager REWARDED him with a nice bottle of wine.

That never happens. Never. And not a nice bottle, may be we could stretch to a bottle of Australian gut rot. Nut not a nice bottle.

How does Monzo keep 1,600 microservices spinning? Go, clean code, and a strong team

I Am Spartacus

Re: You don't need to know how 1,600 services work

With respect to the cruft that develops over time, Monzo say that they include metrics with each of these microservices. This means that they can detect what is cruft by monitoring what doesn't get used. They can then decommit those services that become unused over time as business models change.

Furthermore, if they record which services do get used a lot, and which are slow to deliver, then they know where to spend engineering effort to optimize.

I actually think this is very smart indeed.

Hat tip and a virtual pint to Monzo.

Whaddya mean, 'niche'?! Neo4j's chief scientist schools El Reg on graph databases

I Am Spartacus

I just tried

and failed to convince my CTO that Neo4J was the right way to go. So now I am battling SQL Server (again).

Someone buy me a pint, I really need it just now.

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

I Am Spartacus

Re: Ah, that takes me back..

Yeah, loved working on the VAX. Ours was an 11/780. VMS was a sweet joy after working on JCL and HASP.

We did have to satisfy one user who point blank refused to have a terminal. He only used punch cards. So I think we had one of the few VAXen with a card reader and card punch, and still had to retain a very noisy manual card punch.

'I am done with open source': Developer of Rust Actix web framework quits, appoints new maintainer

I Am Spartacus

Re: it's a very nice library

That is indeed true.

It is also true that writing RIST code is not easy. It is very hard indeed, and requires taking a step back from what we normally consider the way to do things in languages like C, C++, C# or Fortran. In RUST memory has to be treated with respect. By comparison, if you treat memory with respect and code to RUST's exacting standards, the compiler will created and guarantee memory and thread safe code for you.

But if you start saying that this is just too hard, or too slow, and that you know best, you can quite easily create UNSAFE code that basically tells the compiler you know best. Sometimes you have to do this, for example when interfacing to raw block structured devices. You have to map the memory array in to a RUST structure and yes, you do know best.

But if you do this in application code, you are building a product that breaks the contract. Users will take your library and rely on it, because, well, it's written in RUST, so if it compiles, it will be 'safe' (for what the RUST compiler thinks is safe). But if it turns out that its not thread safe, or it doesn't play nicely with dandling pointers, etc. you are leading the users up the garden path.

So, a better approach would have been for those people who wanted a RUST safe version of Actix to fork the project, correct what they perceive as coding errors , and benefit the whole community.

Linux in 2020: 27.8 million lines of code in the kernel, 1.3 million in systemd

I Am Spartacus

Systemd = Marmite

You either love it or hate it.very little middle ground

Personally: Systemd = Love

Marmite = hate

JavaScript survey: Devs love a bit of React, but Angular and Cordova declining. And you're not alone... a chunk of pros also feel JS is 'overly complex'

I Am Spartacus

Re: Not Permitted - Upvote

I know you're going to take some stick for this, but I do see your point. Personally, I dislike doing too much of anything in the browser, and certainly nothing that can be done on the server. Only things that really need to be done in the browser should be done there.

Mine's the one with Thymeleaf for Profit in the pocket.

Bose customers beg for firmware ceasefire after headphones fall victim to another crap update

I Am Spartacus

Avoiding a firmware upgrade

I have a Bose Soundbar 500. The app on my phone keeps telling me to upgrade. I keep ignoring it!

Beware the trainee with time on his hands and an Acorn manual on his desk

I Am Spartacus
Paris Hilton

Fun on Old IMB Mainframes

AT Uni we ran a couple of old IBM 360's but they didn't run TSO or CICS, they ran the Michigan Terminal System MTS. This was an OS designed for connecting a whole load of dumb terminals to a central processor and act as a timeshare system.

That's all well and good, but they gave us access to the OS source code. Computer Students, beer at 17p a Pint, time on our hands, and source code: What could go wrong?

What went wrong was when we found an undocumented command that allowed us to send messages to the central operators console, an IBM 3270 connected directly to the processor. So, a bit of experimentation with IBM control characters, and we sent the commands to clear the Ops console and write four words to it: BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING.

Who knew that the operators were unionised, and in a dispute with the University? They just got up and walked out.

And we got our knuckles severely wrapped for that jape!

That code that could never run? Well, guess what. Now Windows thinks it's Batman

I Am Spartacus

Re: For some reason this reminds me of...

JES 2 and HASP

Somewhere in the depths of JES2 is a fix with my name commented against it.

All I can say is ABEND - Abnormal Execution End.

I Am Spartacus

Re: For some reason this reminds me of...

WOW! Memories of JES2 and HASP.

Where did it all go wrong?


A short note to say I'm off: Vulture taps claws on Reg keyboard for last time

I Am Spartacus


Thank you for all the articles.

Our loss is the The Bureau of Investigative Journalism gain.

IT protip: Never try to be too helpful lest someone puts your contact details next to unruly boxen

I Am Spartacus
Paris Hilton

Re: On-call??? - What Overtime

Last year I got a call. On News Years Day, hung over from the night before. Lying on the sofa, not really doing anything and the mobile goes.

It was someone I shall call Paul, because that's his name and I don't see why he shouldn't go unpunished. He wanted to quiz me about a problem that had occurred overnight when the clocks changed. One specific application I had something to do with was giving weird error messages.

At first I had no idea what he was on about. But. after listening to him cour a couple of minutes, I realised what he was on about.

"Err, Paul, you do know I was made redundant by the company, don't you?"

>> "Oh, really? When was that?"

"Three years ago."

>> "So, can you help me anyway, because your mobile is still in the on-call list".

I suppose I shoudl be proud that the app had run for 3 years with no calls required!

I'm not Boeing anywhere near that: Coder whizz heads off jumbo-sized maintenance snafu

I Am Spartacus

Re: Modern

Oh god, the XT/370

I used one of those. I have gotten over the nightmares with extensive therapy, but thanks for bringing all that pain back to mind.

I Am Spartacus

Re: 767

Thats a fascinating, if not a little scary, read. Beer to the pilots.

Remember the 1980s? Oversized shoulder pads, Metal Mickey and... sticky keyboards?

I Am Spartacus

But can I get F1 on my BT account

My son managed to poor a can of Fosters in to his X-Box. Of course, it didn't work at all after that and naturally he was devastated.

So, we looked through you tube, and carefully disassembled the drunk gaming console, cleaned the boards and connectors with de-ionised water using Q-Tips. Dried it out overnight, reassembled it and lo --- The damn thing actually came back to life.

Icon, obviously

Not a death spiral, I'm trapped in a closed loop of customer experience

I Am Spartacus

I have the opposite problem

Next door to me, and one letter different in address but a different post code was a care home. Postie was intelligent and knew that post not for Mr and Mrs Spartacus went to the care home.

I can't get this changed because Land Registry and Post Office have two different post codes, one of which is mine.

Then the care home shutdown and postie retired. Our mail is now delivered by a man with a van and changes every third day. He has no idea that the letters are not for Castle Spartacus at all. The residents of the care home were there because they couldn't cope with such details things as change of address, so when they moved they just keep the mail coming through to us. The home is barricaded now, so all post comes to us.

If you think its hard getting your own address changed, imagine how hard it is getting it changed for a care home and 30+ residents.

The absolute worse was some years ago, when we had a repeated knocking on the door late at night. When the y refused to go away, I went down to see who it was expecting a child who had locked themselves out. I found six men in black suits, black ties and a coffin - "We've come for the body". I almost went full BOFH and gave them one for them to take away.

Every dog has its day – and this one belongs to Boston Dynamic's four-legged good boy Spot

I Am Spartacus

El Reg needs one

Remember the robot for getting drinks when the PFY was too damn lazy?

Well, here is the answer.

Mine the one with "I, Robot" in the pocket.

COBOL: Five little letters that if put on a CV would ensure stable income for many a greybeard coder

I Am Spartacus

I remember


30 lines of functional code,

20 pages of error statements, declarations, files, .....

Cash carousel spun between Filetek and Autonomy, Lynch employee tells court

I Am Spartacus

Re: Nothing to see here

Not necessarily fishy.

You have something I want. I have something you want. We jointly agree that both are broadly equivalent in price, and that the price is $X. I arrange to buy your product today and pay you $X, provide you agree to buy my product and pay me $X in, say, a months time.

It's only fishy if either (or both) of us decides we don't actually want or need the others product and quietly can it. That would be fishy.

However, we could always claim that we thought we needed it, we purchased it, but then our business changed and we no longer needed it. Proving that was the intent will be challenging.

One person's harmless japery can be another's night of LaserJet Lego

I Am Spartacus

Re: Heavy...

Down the Strand, in London, between Shell Mex House and Villiers House? You can see the comments from people now. "What are you doing?", Oh, just wheeling my portable computer to the other office. "Portable????"

When you play the game of Big Spendy Thrones, nobody wins – your crap chair just goes missing

I Am Spartacus

You called?

It still wasn't me.

Chrome ad-blocker crackdown preview due late July. Here's a half-dozen reasons why add-on devs are still upset

I Am Spartacus

Thank you

Iridium to replace chrome. It loads the two extensions I need to have (AdBlock+ and LastPass), and is fast.

Chrome is becoming a bloated and opinionated software monstrosity.

That magical super material Apple hopes will hit backspace on its keyboard woes? Nylon

I Am Spartacus

Re: Apple keyboard malfunction issues and IFixit.

I wrote my degree report on one of these portable machines in 1980.

I looked at this the other day and, wow, all those typo's and Tippit corrections. How far we have come, even with dodgy keyboards!

Never let something so flimsy as a locked door to the computer room stand in the way of an auditor on the warpath

I Am Spartacus

How do I know you're an auditor

I worked as a compliance manager on a national infrastructure project. I was chosen for this because, as I contractor, I was expendable if it all went bad. I could be the sacrificial lamb. I was warned the auditor was coming and so was duly prepared.

Said auditor arrived at me desk and immediately asked to see my copy of the compliance manual. So I asked for his ID and letter of appointment. He gave me a card from [insert name of big 5 consultancy here] as his ID. I tore that up, threw it in the bin with a comment "that's no good, I can get those done at ProntoPrint for a tenner". He fumed and offered to call my boss. I duly invited him to do so, and when boss arrived to find out whats going on, I explained that this man claimed to be an auditor and wanted access to the national infrastructure compliance data. I had refused, because under standing instructions, I had been instructed only to provide such access to people identified to me by senior management - that was above my bosses pay grade. As I had no such instruction, I was therefore refusing access. Politely, but firmly.

Boss told me to give the auditor access. I refused because he wasn't on the authorised list to see the documents himself, let alone grant access.

Auditor fumed and said I was being unreasonable. My boos, reluctantly and through gritted teeth confirmed that actually I was obeying my remit, just rather for forcefully than he ad anticipated when I was handed the poison chalice.

Audit was forced to go away, obtain a formal letter of acces approval, and make another appointment.

I awarded my self a BOFH beer that lunch time!

A day in the life of London seen through spam and weak Wi-Fi

I Am Spartacus

Wifi Fail

I was in the US, Houston to be precise, to demo a piece of software that relied on the internet - as in, it was hosted on web servers. Got to the board room, with all the fresh faced young hopefuls and a wizened older guy (WOG) wearing , I kid you not, cowboy boots and a stetson.

WOG: So whats this network software, let see it in action.

ME: Sure, can I have the wifi password please?

WOG: No - thats a security risk, we can't let you have that.

ME: OK, let me connect via 4G then

WOG: No, the building is shielded against cellphone signals. Can't have the traders doing deals on phones that aren't recorded.

Me: Then can one of you log in and I'll demo on your laptop?

WOG: No. There are no network cables in this room (security again) and anyway, we block all sites that are not explicitly white listed.

ME: Err, this demonstration is not going to get very far, is it?

WOG: Pretty shit software then, isn't it.

The meeting deteriorated and I didn't make the sale.

HPE court witness subjected to own LinkedIn page

I Am Spartacus

HP and Autonomy - the gift that just keeps on giving

See title

'I do not wish to surrender' Julian Assange tells court over US extradition bid

I Am Spartacus

Journalist my arse

Calling Asange a journalist is stretching the point beyond breaking.

He doesn't report things. He simply republishes what people have sent, often illegally, to him. Now, if he had read the leaks from Manning and redacted names, places, dates etc. he might have a fighting chance of being a journalist. But describing him as a such demeans the whole of the fourth estate.

A quick cup of coffee leaves production manager in fits and a cleaner in tears

I Am Spartacus

Re: When Urban Myths Come True


OK, team, we've got the big demo tomorrow and we're feeling confident. Let's reboot the servers

I Am Spartacus

Re: Big demo. Should we test?

Like me going in to do a demo for a very large trading company, only to find that the only projectors they had were circa the turn of the millennium and only supported a 640x480 VGA display. Their desired configuration on the desktop was two 22" DVI connected monitors. It didn't go well.

Or the time we went to demo the software to another oil company. This was a web-based document management software. But they would not provide us with a PC or laptop, refused to let us connect to the wifi, and the building was Faraday shielded to block cellphone signals. That demo didn;t go at all!

Want to know what 2020 holds? Microsoft has a little something for you

I Am Spartacus

Well played sir!

'This collaboration is absolutely critical going forward'... One positive thing about Meltdown CPU hole? At least it put aside tech rivalries...

I Am Spartacus
Paris Hilton

Intel government and policy director Audrey Plonk

Nominative determinism?

I Am Spartacus

Re: What an absurdity!

I totally agree. This form of optimistic speculative execution, with no cache erasure on non-use, is ridiculous. Where was the peer review when this was done?

This is a fundamental flaw in chip design.

If this was a car we would be seeing punitive damages through class action law suites and a massive, world-wide recall. What we got from Intel was the equivalent of "I know we told you the car could do 70mph, but to be legal with emissions you can only do a max of 30mph. OK?"

I said this at the time - we need to look at the chip designs from the ground up. There is a lot of cruft in the X86 design that simply does not need to be there in the 21st century. Only IBM had a real go at this with the Power Series, and proved that low power, high speed chip could be built. Then you can have the performance without all this dicking around in speculative execution horror.

By gum(stick): Samsung speeds up 970 EVO Plus drive

I Am Spartacus

Oh fsck

Damn. The reasons for sticking with my 4 year old motherboard are rapidly becoming ridiculous. I mean, 2TB of insanely fast SSD connected at PCIe speeds. Why wouldn't you?

The lighter side of HMRC: We want your money, but we also want to make you laugh

I Am Spartacus

Not this year

When I was a contractor I was advised my my accountant that I needed to spend some money from the company because otherwise we would have net profits that hot a tax band. We were going to lose the money one way or another. So, best to spend it ourselves, Right?

So we organised a research trip to investigate the effect of distant nuclear fusion on granular land/sea interfaces.

And that's how I got a holiday in the sun on a beach rather than paying tax.


Are you sure your disc drive has stopped rotating, or are you just ignoring the messages?

I Am Spartacus

del *.* confirmation

Long time ago, on a DOS system, I was talking to a new colleague whilst he insisted on typing on the new PC we had provided. Not being totally computer literate, he has was talking to the computer rather than listen to me. At one point he typed that immortal command:

c:> del *.*

I asked him to check what he had typed. t. He looked at the screen and said, to the computer "I didn't mean to do that". Sure enough, DOS repsonds with "Are you sure?". "Yes", he replied, "I'm sure I didn't mean to do that".

And that is why I spent the next hour or so searching for the install floppies and rebuilding his PC and all the application software.



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