* Posts by I Am Spartacus

416 publicly visible posts • joined 17 May 2012


Menacing marketeers fined by ICO for 1.9M cold calls

I Am Spartacus

Where do I send my bill?

As one of those constantly cold called, I want my compensation.

Britcoin or Britcon? Bank of England grilled on Digital Pound privacy concerns

I Am Spartacus

Its reallt Britcon

I agree. I see no benefit, other than to reduce banking charges for business. For consumers and the general retain public we already have digital currency. We use every time we tap to pay, either with a card or a phone. We use it when we send money via EFT. Why would we need, or even want, a blockchain backed currency with a separate wallet that we have to manage?

For business, which pays a much high transaction cost than consumers do via high street banks, then there MAY (and I stress the MAY) be some advantages if this reduces banking costs and improves transaction speed. But that is very marginal.

Ex-Twitter employees pull Musk back to money table over missing severance

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Lots of paper work

I am assuming that the lawyers have now amassed a large amount of paper, probably several ring binders full per tweep, what with personal statements contracts of employment, severance notices, legal filings.

Can I assume that these are now known as the X-Files? The truth will be out there somewhere.

I'll get me coat. Its the one with the Catatonia CD in the pocket.

Have you ever suspected your colleague doesn't hope this email finds you well?*

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Worst person in the office is the one....

That send you an email for something that can easily be done next week, or even next month

And then send you a whatsapp "did you get my email - its been 60 seconds and you haven't responded"

And then calls you to see if you got the WhatsApp?

No, Blair, I am just ignoring you because you are irritating

How to get a computer get stuck in a lift? Ask an 'illegal engineer'

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This sounds familiar

I recall the same problem when we installed an 11/780 in 1980, Trafford Park, Manchester. Sadly, the VAX, the factory and the whole company have now gone.

Oracle's revised Java licensing terms 2-5x more expensive for most orgs

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Re: This sounds like a

Exactly this. Years ago, Oracle tried stitching my company up with a £3.5M bill for using a small Oracle database, claiming that everyone who saw, or who could poentially have seen, a printed report from the database was in fact a user, and hence had to be licensed.

After a protacted set of increasingty fractioius arguements we did a corporate transition to DB2. Oracle were told to leave the building.

Sucks to be you, eh Oracle?

Linux lover consumed a quarter of the network

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Actually - This is me right now

But all I am doing is an Intellij sync of a new Spring Boot project and the network is hosed.

Its so bad, I am having difficulty browsing el Reg.

It's 2023 and memory overwrite bugs are not just a thing, they're still number one

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Re: This crap should be fixed in hardware

Came here to say exactly this. Actually. I did, read firther down.

I Am Spartacus

There is an alternative

If you have your program divided into P and D memory spaces you can avoid all the issues with buffer overruns changing the execution code. P-Space is the only memory space that can be address by the program counter and thus execute instructions and its marked read only as soon as the space is loaded into a process; D-Space is data space. Its read/write (sometime read only) but can't be used to execute commands.

DEC had this right in the 1980's with the VAX/VMS systems. Its all this crappy X286 derivatives that we have to use these days that let us down.

Barracuda tells its ESG owners to 'immediately' junk buggy kit

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Re: Full replacement

The suggestion on another thread is that he firmware has been corrupted in a way that prevents it from being replaced. I imagine that this means the firmware has been corrupted to (a) Always allow new code to be installed silently, thus contiuing the intrusion, and (b) silently prevents any further update/downgrade/replacement of the firmware.

It has to be something pretty low level to force a full blown replacement of hardware units.

Instead of Halt and catch fire, this is more halt and be incinerated

BOFH: Good news, everyone – we're in the sausage business

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Re: gigaspandrels

I ask ChatGPT about Mu-RAM.

Spartacus: tell me about Mu-RAM


I'm sorry, but as of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, there is no information available about a technology called "Mu-RAM." It's possible that Mu-RAM refers to a term or concept that emerged after my knowledge cutoff, or it may be a lesser-known or specialized topic that is not widely covered in the public domain.

If "Mu-RAM" refers to a specific technology or concept, please provide more context or details so that I can try to assist you further.

Cunningly camouflaged cable routed around WAN-sized hole in project budget

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Thumb Up

Spanning Tree

Well played Sir, very well played.

I Am Spartacus
Thumb Up

Spanning Tree

Oh, well played sir, very well played.

Datacenter fire suppression system wasn't tested for years, then BOOM

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Can Confirm.

Can confirm that when halon goes off it does sound like a small tactical bomb. Especially if you are not expecting it.

Under floor halon globe blew the dress completely off one of our female tape operators and another drove the senior operators chair across the consoles and broke his arm. Unions had hell to pay for this.

No fun was had by anyone that day.

Your security failure was so bad we have to close the company … NOT!

I Am Spartacus

Re: Upside down images

Very good indeed!

Uptime guarantees don't apply when you turn a machine off, then on again, to 'fix' it

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Thumb Up

Got to love 5x9's uptime

I love the 99.999 % uptime. Thats a downtime of 0.0001% or about 52 minutes a year.

Interestingly I did have one box, a Tandem non-stop server, that absolutely refused to go down. Even when the power went off because the computer room was flooding this box stayed on, serving credit card transactions, storing them up to pass to the customer services Sequent when that finally came back online hours later.

IT phone home: How to run up a $20K bill in two days and get away with it by blaming Cisco

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X.25 anyone?

I remember, vaguely, a time when we got X.25 connections. Great for connecting dumb teletype style terminals to your new sparkly minicomputer. All was well, until someone decided to connect a whole network of IBM 3270 terminals remotely over X.25.

There is a a price for the connection and price per packet. Al wel and good if all you are doing is sending a line of data in, with a couple of lines of output back, when the operator is present.

IBM 3270's were not quite like that. The controller used to poll the terminals at very regular intervals: Terminal 1- Anything to send? No. Terminal 2 - Anything to send? No. Terminal 3 .... until it gets to the end of the terminals and repeats. Endlessly. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, until the BT bill came in and the accountant lit up with an explosive "WTF".

Not my gig, not my problem, but I did laugh.

BOFH: I care a lot ... about onion bhajis

I Am Spartacus

Mort and the unversal logic

“He was determined to discover the underlying logic behind the universe.

Which was going to be hard, because there wasn't one.”

― Terry Pratchett, Mort

Don't worry, that system's not actually active – oh, wait …

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High pressure halon release

I worked in a large data centre that was protected by Halon. It was quite the thing at one time. This one had halon globes in the roof and floor voids, Each globe had a pyroelectric charge attached. There was a trickle current through the charge just to show it was connected - any break in the circuit would show up as a fault. To trigger the system in manned hours an alartm would sound and everyone rushed to the exit, to be counted out, and when everyone was confirmed out the system would be fired. Sound good.

Until the control unit failed in the middle of a day and sent a "Fire" voltage down the circuit. The globes expploded whilst people were in the room. One went off under the airvent by the main fram consoles. This knocked the senior operator off his chair, against a rather unforgiving desk and broke his arm. Another went off in teh take room, where by chance, a femail tape operator was changing a 2400' tape. This one simply shredded her dress and left her wearing bra and panties.

As you can expect, the union had a field day, demanded c ompensation, danger money, etc.

At the inquest as to what had happened the scary part was not that the system triggered, but that half the globes actually didn't explode.

Fire icon - well, you know.

If you have a fan, and want this company to stay in business, bring it to IT now

I Am Spartacus

Re: air CON

I had that at an ofice I worked in. Two rooms in the office, each with its own thermostat, controlled by the HVAC plant in the basement. And it caused endless problems. One room would be boiling, the other like the arctic. The A/C engineer finally got them both balanced. All was fine until someone tweaked one of the thermostats because the temp was wrong. Nothing happened, so she tweaked it a bit more. Then the other team also noticed that their temp was wrong, so adjusted theirs. and the first team goit worse.

It seems that the initial installers had wired the thermostats wrong. Each one was controlling he a/c for the other room.

Thunderbird email client is Go for new plumage in July

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f it ain't broke, let's break it!

Wise words, but if the children get in to the dev lab's it will be forgotten.

Four top euro carriers will use phone numbers to target ads and annoy Google & Facebook

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IT Angle

In a time long ago ...

I worked for a now long-gone telco. One day the marketing and techie types had an away day to come up with new ideas for telephony products that were innovative, liable to earn lots of revenue and upset the major ex-government monopoly. For reference, alcohol was involved.

We came up with a great system: free phone calls. No line rental, no phone charges, just a totally free phone system. But customers would have to opt in to it by complting a fairly detailed life style questionnaire. Each member of a household (except under 16 year olds) would need to complete one, and every member of the household would be given a PIN number. When you want to make a call you have to enter your PIN, The system then plays you a targeted ad. When the ad completes you get your free call. One ad per call.

We were told by a well known advert company we brought in to validate the idea and to make the ads that it was "the most evil, intrusive idea they had ever come across". We all looked rather downcast, but they then said "We just wish we had thought of it".

So, I claim my part in prior art!

GitHub CEO says EU AI Act shouldn't apply to open source devs

I Am Spartacus

FOSS = Free to abuse AI

EU: "Hey that sofware you released has AI capabilities. It is scanning X, Y and Z and making unwarranted assumptions and deductions. It needs to be licensed un the EU AI Act"

Developer: "No, Its Free Open-source software"

EU: "OK, thats fine, as you were".

So the FOSS community thinks that because its not paid for software it should be outside of any laws? I know its going to be a burden, but then I find it a burden to fulfil the law as well. You know, all that not doing tax evasion, not employing child labour, not being racist or sexist and vodiing modern slavery. I would earn much more, even as a FOSS developer if I could just ignore the laws I don't like. But that is not how the world works. At least, not unless you are part of the wild west, it seems.

Eager young tearaway almost ruined Christmas with printer paper

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The joy that is printing

I did an audit of a place which processed very sensitive information. The ultra, company critical stuff which, if released to unauthorised parties could bring the company to its knees. And as this was a small country, bring down the government as well.

The computers were all in secure areas. The code was well protected. Password were secure and changed regularly, with decent password policy and no password reuse. The users were in a separate, locked room, with key card access. They even needed their key cards to access their terminals, so going to the loo meant that their screen automatically locked. It all looked great.

Until I went through the control points for a typical job run. The run was securely started. It was properly audited. The processingwas done and saved in secure file sets, and then the results were printed for examination.

Me: "And where do the printouts go"

Senior Operator: "Oh, we put an elastic band around the line printer output and put it in the pidgeon holes outside the print room."

Me: "You mean the open area, in the corridor, where people walk past all the time?"

Senior Operator: "Oh, yes, I can see there is a problem here!"

Next week they ordered a new printer for the secure room!

Global network outage hits Microsoft: Azure, Teams, Outlook all down

I Am Spartacus

Teams outage

Productivity is up significantly

Bill shock? The red ink of web services doesn’t come out of the blue

I Am Spartacus

If AWS or Azure goes down then it's for them to fix. Other data centre vendors are also available. Just ask users of the OVH data centre in Strasbourg, and ask them how the resiliance of the cloud data centre is going.


Ransomware severs 1,000 ships from on-shore servers

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Re: Lax Security

Beg to differ. Some of these people are monumentally, criminally stupid. And the cargoes they work with do not take kindly to being maltreated.

I Am Spartacus

Hate to say I told you so, but....

I wanred a major ship owner about this risk many years ago. I spoke at conferences about the need for rigourous cyber security. Needless to say I ws ignored. Comments like: Just trying to spend more of the companies money; its not necessary - no-one would hack us; No-one even knows about us. much less cares, so we are safe.

I even wrote a movie plot about it (it was a disaster movie, not a romcom!).

This has been an accident waiting to happen. I did hope that following the Maersk hacking incident in 2017 that the industry would sit up and take notice. But no. Easier to pretend it won't happen to you.

DUE DILIGENCE: I worked in shipping for 20 years as a business transformation manager, sitting between the business and the IT team.

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

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Back in the day ....

I worked for a company that traded with South Africa when it was still very much an apatheid country. I was sitting in my office when one of the men I shared it with said "I think you should get out of the room, now, and get security, the police and the bomb squad" It seemed a strange and rather random thing to say, even for the early 80's. When I inquired as to why, he told me that he had started to open an envelope (this is pre email!) which had wires in it, and what he thought might be a battery.

So, I left, told security, who evacuated that area (note - work must go on, so not the whole building). Police came, and told him to throw it out of the window whilst diving under the desk. They then retreated to a safe distance. None of this covering up with a blast blanket, or a man in an armour suit deciding to cut the red or the yellow wire. Oh no. Just throw the package away and dive under the dek. Well, the desk was an old, heavy oak one that had definitely survived the war!

It did not go off. If it had done, several people walking along the Strand would have needed new underwear.

Virgin Orbit doesn't

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Re: Here we go, Gromit!

Another example of a virgin not going all they way?

I'll get my coat.

Twitter data dump: 200m+ account database now free to download

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Twitter pawn my account

I deactivated twitter. Bye Bye Elon

New research aims to analyze how widespread COBOL is

I Am Spartacus


I liked Quel. I used it in in 1977-18 era. I even, at one point, had a copy of the original Ingres source code!

GeoQuel, the geographical version of quel, was weigh before its time.

IBM and Maersk to shut down TradeLens supply chain platform

I Am Spartacus

This was never a suitable project for Blockchain

The lofty ideals behind TradeLens hold true. There is a mess of paperword, where errors cause disruption to supply chains and increase costs. The need to do something here is not dispiuted. But this was not a use case for a blockchain. The actual parts behind TradeLens are a smart contract, which is based on a blockchain, in this case HyperLedger. But it doesn'nt need to be.

The problems that TradeLens faced are multiple. But a couple are easy to point out. This was a closed community where a finite number of players trade with each other. They are all ananonymous, but have a fixed account code / wallet address. Despite thsi being a long string of numbers, it is noit beyond the wit of man, nor a simple computer to work out that if 1234 was TradeCo1 today it will be tomorrow. I know this because I traded with TradeCo1. Now I trade with TradeCo2, whose address is 9875. Oh look I can see that 9875 has a trade with 1234, so I can deduce the TradeCo1 is working with TradeCo2. And because its a shared ledger, everyone can see this. This is a major problem for trading companies who like to keep all their trades secret. So the first problem is that TradeLens ingtroduced too much transparency. It meant that Maersk were perceived as having too much visibility of all the trade chains, and thus gave them a market advantage. That is reason one why it was not widely adopted.

The second is the concept of the distributed ledger itself. To play on the blockchain you need to have a node where your part of the ledger resides. These are computers. Possibly several working together if you want some form of redundancy, and most traders do. These are not just simple applications that you run, backup and forget. You have a ledger that is growing with each trade, even if you don't participate in that trade. It needs management, backup, security, and all the other good things that data centre managers need. But because this is all encrypted, and you con't know all the keys, you can't get under the covers to manage the backups. As this was IBM, it is highly likely that DB/2 was that database. Thats not helpful when your whole company is an Oracle / MYSql / Postgres shop (other databases are also available). So now you have a bit of complex, mission critical computering power in your data centre which you know nothing about.

The solution to this is to outsource the management of your node to, well, TradeLens. They can run and manage your node on your behalf. They will throw up a virtual machine to run this one. What you now have is a network of distributed ledgers runing as a number of virtual machines on a single large computer. Why not save all the problems and just run a large application to do this without all teh blockchain complexity?

The final issue is growth. Adding new nodes to a closed blockchain network is not trivial. Depending on the implementation it often means taking the whole network down and distributing a new set of public keys to all parties. This is a nightmare of key management but with distributed ledgers. So growth was always going to be problematical.

TradeLens is needed. The concept is right. It just doesn't need a blockchain. But then I really don't understand what does need a blockchain unless you need to have that phrase in your buzzword soup.

RIP Fred 'Mythical Man-Month' Brooks: IBM guru of software project management

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Re: But Agile will fix everything!

Have an up-vote and pint for the reference to MTS and PL/1. Heady days indeed.

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Thumb Up

try 8 to 6

I was educated on 8 bit bytes. OS/360, Micros, PDPs, VAX. And then I went to work on Univac-1100 with its 6 bit byte. That was a shock, but one I over came. Nothing like reading a dump made up of 6-bit bytes at 2am when the O/S upgrade falls flat on its face!

Go ahead, be rude. You don't know it now, but it will cost you $350,000

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I had a similar experience

Mine was about a software contract, for database applications, with a company that will remain nameless. To quote el reg, "Just understand that this firm is a big name in the business IT world. You don’t need to have the powers of a seer to figure this one out." They had quoted us an astronomical price for a new application. I had tried juggling the setup to reduce the end user count, but finally they told me that "this is the price, and no amount of arging will change it. We don't think you have the balls to change supplier".

I had to report this to the executive director of engineering. This guy was from the states and not amused whatsoever. Not one tiny bit. So he instructed me to quietly find an alternative supplier, which I did. Again, no names, but this one might turn you blue. I set up the deal: new hardware (a lot of new hardware) disks, database, consultancy, the whole works. It came in a lot cheaper that the first supplier.

Exec Director had the european VP of the first company in, explained his position, and said we could not afford the price that his team were quoting. VP reiterated the mantra that "You can't change, you have to pay us". So, in hius presence, he called me up and asked if I had the quotes on my desk. I did. He then, on speaker phone, told me to sign them and send them off immediately. All work, not just on this project but all other projects with supplier one was to immediately cease and all project manager instructed to immediately move to supplier two. His final comment to me was to call the press office and have a press release issued to announce that we were terminating all contracts and work with supplier one in favour of supplier two.

He then turned to the VP of sales of supplier one and uttered the words "I don't think we need you anymore, please leave the office immediately". Supplier one was excluded from all further work. The loss was measured in millions.

Run a demo on live data? Sure! What could possibly go wrong? Hang on. Are you sure that's not working?

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Re: A near miss

It was run by a large, internation, computer services team. I prefer not to expose them as my desire to end up on the wrong end of a defamation law suit is pretty low! This was decades ago, in the mid 1990's. And yes, if I recall, it was Customs and Excise. But it wasn't Southend we visited.

I am sure that they are a lot more professional now. This would all have been refreshed as part of Making Tax Digital. I mean, it must be so, mustn't it!

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Oh please - send the link to the You Tube video of this one!

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A near miss

Some timeago I worked for a software development company that had a product to archive data from relational databases. It worked by running a search for candicate records to be archived and then found all the releated data. So, you could archive customers who had not ordered anything for five years, and it would also find all the invoices, payments, shipping, correspondence that related to the customer(s).

As the tech person I always insisted that the client test their scripts on a test sustem before running it on production.

One client proudly proclaimed that they didn't need a test system. Nor a development system. They just ran production. So I asked how they did development of the application and specifically new database tables (etc). The answer was "Oh, Malcolm here just gets on the main console and keys the changes directly in to the database. On production. And if it goes wrong, we are front page news next day. Ha!" We were out of there so fast as I explained to the samesman that no amount of profit was worth the risk that if anything did go wrong we were bound to be the fall guys.

Oh, yes. The system? HMRC's tax computers.

The boss worked in a fishbowl, so office tricks were a treat

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Re: Pranks and things

Don't know why you were down voted on this. For me, its gold.

Love the watercress - God, I wish I had thought of that when I was at college.

RIP: Kathleen Booth, the inventor of assembly language

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Re: Beyond the nits about the bits

Indeed. I have just finished reading the original programming guides and internal documentation on the Apollo Guidance Computer. The low level hardware instruction set was what we would today call a RISC machine, with highler level operations handled by functions. It had a multi threaded operating system. To make life easier for the application programmers (ie, the ones who designed the guidance and navigation, and how to land on the Moon) they had a virtual machine.

We still have a hell of a lot to learn from these Luminary's (and lets see who gets THAT reference!)

SWIFT to trial blockchain – but not for its core payment service

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Hello bandwagon

I question why SWIFT are doing this. from the article it's not to move a crypto currency around. I mean, if you have the worlds largest money transfer system already, and it operates electronically, is safe and has all sorts of checks, balances and confirmations, then you have no need of a blockchain backed ponzi scheme.

So, its the smart contracts then. But they are not executing the smart contracts on the chain, they are checking what has been executed elsewhere. So this is just a new form of trade matching system. But as a number of trade matching services will happily explain, you most definitely don't need a block chain for that.

I am very sceptical about blockchain. There is some really neat technology involved, but the use of write once ledgers (had that in the early '90's, and then we could do it in hardware as well!).

But as for a distributed ledger, well, very few people seem to want to adopt this. They want it done on a cloud based service, and then a service provider has a number of end-user ledgers running on different VMs, in err, a central computer system. So, not distributed at all, just replicated.

So, why are Swift doing this? My guess is because there is a very pretty bandwagon and they want to jump on it.

Computational storage specs hit v1.0 after 4 years of work

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Very Interesting

I can imagine a rack of storage devices, not unlike the racks of SCSI drives we used to install in the 90's, with 8 racks, front and back, each with 8 disks in them, giving 128 spinning platters.

Replace these with computational storage devices, each with a high number of GB (if not TB) of storage and their own processor. Now imaging a parallel database that can send a query off to run in all of these simultaneously. Hadoop on steroids with go-faster stripes. Of DB2 (who remembers that) which parallelises easily.

Or more exotic stuff, such as facial recognition, or AI/NLP/Pattern Matching.

Am I alone in thinking that this could be the next game changer in the big iron arena?

Salesperson's tech dream delivered by ill-equipped consultant who charged for the inevitable fix

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Re: a sharp new suit and a misplaced sense of confidence and superiority

I have always thought that a consultant is someone who, when you ask him the time he takes your watch, tells you the time and keeps the watch.

Universal Unix tool AWK gets Unicode support

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GIT- Aptly named

I'm so glad that I am not the only one who struggles with the complexities of GIT

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

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Re: Bank Accounts

25 years after we moved by old house still gets Christmas cards for me. Despite sending out messages to everyone who we knew that we were moving, and following up all cards with a note saying we have moved, including a card with our new address on it.

Eventually I called one lady who kept sending cards to the wrong address: "Oh, I thought you were joking". WHAT When I have been sending you change of address for 1/4 of a century? Thats a new form of stubborn.

British intelligence recycles old argument for thwarting strong encryption: Think of the children!

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Hello Genie

Would you mind getting back in to your bottle?

Farewell to two pivotal figures: The founder of Inmos, and the co-creator of MIME

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Re: What A Shame

I used a box containing a network of Transputers in something called a Computer Surface. We used it to model results from seismic modelling on a Cray. We eventually turned a system running on an IBM 3090 where we generated one image every 3 minutes, to one that generated 30 images per second. It was truly amazing.

It is a shame that no-one really understood it, it was way ahead of its time.

Not to dis your diskette, but there are some unexpected sector holes

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Re: You were lucky

We used to dream of hard sector floppies. Back in my day, we used paper tape, with lots of holes. Lots and lots of holes. So many that the long tapes used to tear in just the same way that perforated envelopes fail to do today.

An early crack at network management with an unfortunate logfile

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I inherited one

It was an employee training record system, called Training Information Tracking System. Can you see where this is going. I came in late to the project, to take it from a VB6 incarnation to a fully fledged mainstream app on SQL Server. But I was sitting with the team, getting their user stories, when one of the ladies on the desk found a record that wasn't it the database. She went to tell the boss (male) who promptly shouted out "Well get it on your TITS then".

Just as his boss walked by. Big boss WAS NOT AT ALL AMUSED, said so, and asked who was responsible, to which they all looked at me.

That caused me no end of grief with HR getting involved for "my gross profanity" until the IT director had the decency to say I had taken over the project, and it was the now ex-contractor who was responsible.