* Posts by l8gravely

66 posts • joined 11 Jun 2012


tz database community up in arms over proposals to merge certain time zones


Re: Is the database really that big

Amen brother! I have to vaguely help mantain a database of old newspapers, and the contortions I have to go through to support sorting old dates is horrendous. It's especially tough in Europe where the calendars weren't unified for a long long time, so getting dates to agree between different countries is seriously tough work.

BOFH: You'll find there's a company asset tag right here, underneath the monstrously heavy arcade machine


Re: I sometimes feel

I got into a fight with the wife eve and ever since it's been war!


Re: Personal heaters

I've done this at my house, since the Garage plug was the circuit for the oil burner heating system. But I *also* knew enough to flp the breaker switch so that I'm not trying to power the street back through my feed. And this was only for an emergency when I was around.

Nowdays we don't have a genny any more, so I un-built my bastard cable. And yes, I know it wasn't smart/safe/legal, but it got me through an outage and kept the house warm and the fridge cold.

But if they catch you using one of these, all hell will break loose on you from the local electrical company. They will NOT be amused, or will your home insurance provider.

Hacking the computer with wirewraps and soldering irons: Just fix the issues as they come up, right?


Re: PL/I … "think C with even crappier aesthetics"

Or the stupid language designed for sendmail... all those tokens are insane. Even Eric has admitted he messed that one up... and which is why I use postfix now, much saner.

Please, no Moore: 'Law' that defined how chips have been made for decades has run itself into a cul-de-sac


Re: About time too

I want to say that most software bloat is down to two reasons, exception handling and abstraction. Both of which are critical to making successful programs that anyone can use. Most people don't realize how hard exception handling is in programming. 90%+ of all the code I write is handling exceptions, error cases, etc.

Go outside and pick up sticks from the lawn. Now tell me how you did it and how you decided what was a stiick and what wasn't. Computers are super fast as *simple* things. But the world is complex.

So abstractions help you manage the world, and reduce the load, but take up processing time. Watching my Nephew writing a discord client in node to return pictures of a dog doing various things was fun. Asking him if it handled other cases... we ran right into the exception handling problem.

So all the speed and performance we have in computers lets us do amazing things which are simple, but repetitive. But driving a car isn't simple, even though it feels repetitive.

Latest patches show Rust for Linux project making great strides towards the kernel


Re: Next to learn

Yeah no.


Re: Another dimension of complexity

You're mixing up two different types of errors in my mind. First, that of the language itself and it's libraries. Which have been fixed up and work quite well after 40+ years of development and use.

The second is "programmer" errors. Since not all programmers have 20 years of experience, they will continue to make the same old errors all the time. Just look at any undergrad (or even grad!) programming class to see this!

The C language is wonderful, and was pretty well designed for the systems of the day, but it's string handling is atrocious and makes it painful to do work that people need to do alot. This is why perl became so popular for programming, since it make so many problems that weren't trivial in C much easier to do. And other scripting languages also did the same.

But C excells at low-level system code, where you don't tend (then at least, moreso now) to do much string manipulation. And it's also a place where getting just enough abstract and away from Assember let you be so much more productive, but also you kept almost all the performance of well written code in assembler.

So I'm all for rust as the basis of most kernel drivers, it would limit a whole class of problems. It won't be perfect, but it really can't be all that worse.

Do you want speed or security as expected? Spectre CPU defenses can cripple performance on Linux in tests


Can I just slow down everyone on my EC2 instance?

So my question is whether my 2x slowdown because I'm system call heavy also impacts un-related processes on the system as well. I.E. can I do a DoS on a system by just running syscall heavy apps, which don't actually use alot of CPU (to make it cheap) but also slows down everyone else on that core/socket?

That's the question that isn't answered here.

I haven't bought new pants for years, why do I have to keep buying new PCs?


Re: I hate to say it, as I don't like the way they work...

I love how iPhone and facetime has made debugging stuff some much easier. I mean I have to tell the mum-in-law how to point the phone at the screen, but I can see what's she's looking at and give her pointers and train her without making the drive down and back. Which isn't far, but in these covid times it's good to keep distance.


Re: I hate to say it, as I don't like the way they work...

I support my in-laws and getting the Mum-in-law a chromebook was best thing I ever did. Just occasional issues, mostly due to her not groking computers or technology at all.

On a side note, getting each of them their own Roku stick which can use my Netflix account has also done wonders for them as well. Esp since I forced them off their old DSL plan which just sucked in terms of reliability.

Housekeeping and kernel upgrades do not always make for happy bedfellows


Re: Just over a billion years ago ...

Who else remembers the early Sun Ultra 140s and 170s came with a crap CPU fan that had to be replaced before they stopped working. Luckily you could prioritize them by the sound of the fan whining if you only had a few spares kicking around. And luckily they also had good over-temp protection in the BIOS so they would just shutdown if they fan bit the bullet.

It was a major supply snafu at first, they (Sun) doled out spares like scrooge for a while. Sometimes you could get them working again with some compressed air, but usually the bearings had locked up so hard it was obvious that nothing could be done.

Fun days...

You would expect a qualified electrician to wire a building to spec, right? Trust... but verify


And what about frequency...

And let's not even talk about how Japan has 50Hz on one coast, and 60Hz electric on the other half of the country since their power grids aren't really interconnected...

And the US uses 60Hz, EU uses 50Hz and god knows about the rest of the world. Luckily most if not all power supplies don't seem to care much any more. Except when you get into the big stuff.

Oh, no one knows what goes on behind locked doors... so don't leave your UPS in there


Re: Americans and tea

As an american with a british mum, I have found that "Tetleys British Blend" is the perfect one for me. Sssh... don't tell my Yorkshire cousins that I don't like Yorkshire Gold... :-)

Tokyo Stock Exchange lets CEO resign to atone for October outage, other execs take pay cuts and rebukes


They need a Chaos Godzilla

the TSE needs a chaos godzilla, which causes havoc at random times, but which really has Japan's back when it comes down to it.

And if you don't test your failover, all the time, how do you know it works?

For every disastrous rebrand, there is an IT person trying to steer away from the precipice


My Uni back in the 70s and 80s had a computer consortium across a bunch of local Unis to share resources which went by WACCC. And we had the Wangs for people to write papers on. We all used to go "WACCC off on the Wangs" from time to time...

When even a power-cycle fandango cannot save your Windows desktop


Re: Too Many Stories!

My power switch story is much more personal. I had a pile of old boxes under the bench where my wife and I would work on our individual computers. My young toddler, I think he was two at the time would happily play with Thomas the Tank Engine trains, etc while the wife would work a few hours a day remotely. I'm a solid 30+ minutes from home at work when I get a panicked call that the son had got his finger stuck in one of my computer cases and I could hear him crying bloody murder behind her.

Made my excuses to the boss, ran out the door and headed home at a speed quite a bit over the legal limit, luckily without a stop. Driving a black Passat wagon might have been a good thing at the time. Anyhoo, the wife had meanwhile called the local coppers who were only too happy to come over and help her out, carrying the computer case, son and all up the stairs to better light.

Turns out I had left the case slid forward a bit because I had been fiddling around in there the other day, and the son decided that the button the front needed pushing. All that held it in was a metal strip behind the plastic button, which gave it the oomph to spring back nicely. But since there was no real button behind it, the plastic had popped through and his finger got caught like a chinese handcuff. The more he pulled, the more the wife pulled, the tighter it held on.

I could head the screams (from the wife) while still driving him, if only mentally.

Arrived home to find a teary boy eating some treat, an angry wife about me leaving a dangerous machine just lying around, and two very nice policement who wanted to chat about computers.

All in all, it ended up ok now. Suprisingly, the son really isn't interesting in the insides of computers these days... and the wife still doesn't trust my stuff in the basement.


Did I or did I not ask you to double-check that the socket was on? Now I've driven 15 miles, what have we found?


Re: My favourite

God no! I tried this with my Mum (I'm US, she was from Huddersfield orig... go Terriers!) and it never worked right. The problem is that the programmable remote hasn't a damn clue what the status of the devices actually is. Because for some inane reason the engineers that be decided to make the code to turn on/off be a toggle, not seperate commands. Probably to save a button.

So I've run into this at home and I built a small widget that sits behind the TV waiting for it to go on, and when it goes, it watches the sound bar via a USB port to see if it has power. If not, it sends an IR command to toggle the damn soundbar on, all while watching the power state of the USB port on the sound bar. Magic!

It's amazing what you can do when you have actual sense of the remote system. Those stupid programmable remotes don't, so they never work reliably. Esp for Mums who don't think like engineers. They just want it to work!

Excel is for amateurs. To properly screw things up, those same amateurs need a copy of Access


Re: All that counselling, wasted

Who else remembers all the joy and excitement of Ruby on Rails and how easy it was to make CRUD (Created, Read, Update, Delete) forms for your data. At least it could be kept in a real SQL DB... but they forgot the cardinal rule, which was authentication and authorization. At least the five or ten years ago I tried to make it work for me.

It worked a treat for read-only search forms though.

Looking at it more recently, they do seem to have cottened onto that need and it seems to be more documented and supported out of the box.

A decades-old lesson on not inserting Excel where it doesn't belong


Re: Thingies cat

My did still bitches about SuperCalc 4 and how he loved SC3 and still runs his business on SC spreadsheets printed one a wide tractor dot matrix printer. I think he's finally moved to ink/laster jets for print outs, but while at his office yesterday I found a ZIP drive hooked upto something and he professed surprise at it, having not a clue what it was. Sigh...

I'm going to have to spend some serious time excavating stuff in there for him some day.

On the other hand, he was *very* impressed I could still run SuperCalc3 on linux using WINE. At least I think I can... have to poke around and see if I can find the damn thing. And heh, I did. dosbox rules.

Help! My printer won't print no matter how much I shout at it!


Re: HP

I'm still rocking a Brother MFC-8860DN laser printer at home. I have to scan PDFs from an older system due to various functions not being supported any more on newer Linux, but printing still works. Sucker is 14+ years old and still going strong. I *think* I replaced the drum once. Certainly toner a couple of times.

My next one will be a Color Laser MFC style device some day. As long as it comes with an Ethernet jack for sure.

Das Keyboard 4C TKL: Plucky mechanical contender strikes happy medium between typing feel and clackety-clack joy


Re: No back light on a black keyboard?

Another good option might be the TKL CODE keyboard from WASDkeyboards.com.

It's not perfect, the keycaps are wearing off on one of mine around the ASD side of things, but otherwise it's been holding up and working well. It's got the Cherry MX Clears, which are a little less clicky, though I still get crap when on conf calls that they can here me banging away. A headset seems to have solved that issue... otherwise I just mute and ignore them.

What I'd *really* like would be a TKL with added function keys on the LEFT side of the board, sorta like the old Northgate OmniKey keyboards (still got one stashed away) and also a plethora of more function keys above the top row function keys.

To me, the big reason to go TKL is to bring the mouse in closer, so I don't get carpal tunnel or pain the shoulder from putting the arm way way way out of the right.

Anyway, the CODE has a nice white backlight, it doesn't slide around on the desk, and just works well. No fancy programming stuff, it's not a gaming keyboard, but one to work with and hopefully pass on down to your kids.

A more perfect keyboard would have doubleshot keycaps out of ABS so that it's even more durable, but that's a minor quibble which I'm sure will be rectified by someone in time.

Mate, it's the '90s. You don't need to be reachable every minute of every hour. Your operating system can't cope


Re: I miss Eudora

I still use 'VM" (viewmail) inside emacs for my day to day reading. My fingers are too hard wired to switch to mutt, and I haven't taken the time to re-wire mutt to match my fingers. One of these days...


Re: My first major upgrade

LOL! 56k was a speed daemon! My home C64 started with a 300 baud modem, I could read faster than the text could scroll by on the screen from the local BBS I dialed into. Anyone remember "Electronic New York" running Citadel BBS software? Fond fond fond memories...

Then moving to a 1200 baud, then 240, then 33.2k then finally to my final 56k modem which I just recently in the past year got rid of. Good times!

I still read email over SSH sessions, only pulling out the phone for important graphic laden ones, which isn't many.

This PDP-11/70 was due to predict an election outcome – but no one could predict it falling over


Re: Field engineers...

"time-sharing bureau" is just "AWS" spelled out.

You *bang* will never *smash* humiliate me *whack* in front of *clang* the teen computer whizz *crunch* EVER AGAIN


Re: With great power comes great incompatibility

What a great site for information, but it's horribly laid out. Ugh!

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


Re: Ever done a good deed, only to have it thrown back at you by an angry user

I support my In-Laws computers at points, and their aging DSL line for internet. Can't count the number of times I've had to reset things for them. For my MiL (Mother-in-Law) I ended up getting her a Chrome Book for her online needs and she's been happy as a clam. My FiL is a bit more advanced with Family Tree stuff and such, so he gets a laptop, but he also tends to buy a new one without telling me since the old one is "slow". Sigh...

Logitech Zone Wireless: Swanky headset means business, but that also means it comes with a hefty price tag


Re: Logitech H800

Hear hear, the H800 is probably the best cheap quality wireless headset out there. It's not perfect, and my head is a *bit* too large for it, which means it starts hurting after a few hours, but otherwise it's excellent, with good audio quality. The BT is a bit fiddly at points, and I havent bothered to use BT on the laptop for calls, the dongle works well and has ok range.

Now for excellent range, my old Plantronics headset could let me wander the entire building while on a call. I once did a conf call while waiting outside during a fire alarm that went off. Good times!

Logitech G915 TKL: Numpad-free mechanical keyboard clicks all the right boxes


Re: Sounds excellent all round

I've been enjoying my CODE keyboard from wasdkeyboards.com for years. Simple white back light, 10 keyless or full size, and the backspace key isn't as small as this logitech one.

But it's not perfect, and I'm sure there might be better ones. But I do feel that tenkeyless is much much better for my carpal tunnel when it kicks in.

Actually, I miss the old IBM/Northgate OmniKey and Sun keyboards with the extra function keys on the LEFT. Very nice stuff to use.

Mirror mirror on the wall, why will my mouse not work at all?


Re: Could have been worse.

The early DEC Ultrix workstations had round hockey puck mice with three buttons. I remember them fondly if only because I did a bunch of support on them over the years.

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


Re: About ten years back

It's really amazing how many people are afraid to make any changes at all just in case something breaks and they get blamed. This leads to all sorts of cruft and problems across systems, and is alot of the reason upgrades fail. They are so hesitant because they feel that breaking things might get them shit canned.

Me, I'm all for breaking things and finding out that those carefully maintained email aliases from 15+ years ago aren't used, couldn't be used, and won't ever be used. But we have to keep them just in case! Sigh...

OK brainiacs, we've got an IT cold case for you: Fatal disk errors on an Amiga 4000 with 600MB external SCSI unless the clock app is... just so


Re: 600MB?

Sometime in the late 80s I had an Amiga 2500 (upgrade from my A1000) and I splurged and spent $800 on an 80mg 3.5" Quantum hard drive. Was really awesome to see how fast stuff loaded.

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


This was my biggest regret about my Amiga, never getting a C compiler for it. But at the time Lattice C was stupidly expensibe and there was no GCC available. This is of course the A1000 in '85 as I recall, then my A2500 on Uni. Or college as we called it here on the left side of the pond. Good times.

Remember the Fred Fish disks? With tons of freeware? Amazing stuff.

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


Re: DEC field service engineers

cKermit was very nice, and the source was available, but the authors kept a tight control over it and eventaully it died because it wasn't nearly as useful any more. I've still got "Using C-Kermit Communication Software. Second Edition" on my shelf at work, since you never know when you might need to reference some esoterica from the bible of goodness when trying to manage some bogosity over a serial link that's been bodged together.

It was great stuff because it ran the same pretty much everywhere on any form of Unix and Windows in it's day. So you knew you could get data back and forth without compromise. Usually.

Haven't touched it in years, and can't for the life of me remember what I last used it for. But I'm sure it was to automate some stupid piece of junk serial controller hardware.

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


LaTeX rocks even still!

There's nothing better than LaTeX for writing a large document, esp with math and tables.

Also it gets totally annoying when you want to shift something just a bit to make it look better. But then everything else goes wonky. Oh well, it still does better at 99% of layout, and let's me concentrate on writing docs instead of playing around making them pretty.

Whoooooa, this node is on fire! Forget Ceph, try the forgotten OpenStack storage release 'Crispy'


Re: Not actually that surprised

I've run Netapp kit for 20+ years now, first using them when they still used the DEC StorageWorks containters for 3.5" drives on the old FAS720 systems. Good days! Anyway, we had a ClearCase (version control software) VOBs database on the Netapps and the system crashed with two disk failures in the same RAID group. Back then, backups were to DLT7k tape drives, and would have taken days to restore, and the company was desperate to get things working again without losing data. This was using the Netapp RAID4ish WAFL layout before they went dual parity. We had had two disk failures close enough in a row to lead to data loss.

Turns out that one drive had crashed the heads on the disk, you could hear it screaming and grinding. The other disk has just lost the on-disk controller board, fried somehow. So with Netapp support on the line, we ended up doing a disk-ectomy, moving from the bad platter disk taking it out of the StorageWorks container, pulling off the disk controller, and putting it onto the second disk.

Plugged the now hopefully good disk back into the array, fired it up and damn if it didn't start serving data again and rebuilding onto a spare disk as fast as it could. I was a very happy guy to see that happen.

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


Re: Oh, the joys

xmelt on your friend's screens since they had done 'xhost +' since they didn't understand security... fun times.

When the IT department speaks, users listen. Or face the consequences


We *still* NFS mount user home directories and all data directories from NFS Netapp file servers. Rock solid boxes that cost $$$ but are worth it. Never keep data on local system drives, it just leads to pain. Now when the network craps out... all grinds to a halt, including the ESX cluster(s) which also use the Netapp for storage.

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


Re: Where were you 20 years ago?

You sure this wasn't the Ascend/Lucent debacle where they did the exact same thing? Sure sounds like it! I too suffered with a new product being cancelled after customers had wanted it. Morons.

Divert the power to the shields. 'I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain!'


Re: Servicing schedules ... get the chop, once the bean counters find out about them.

I always describe is as an "insurance premium" that needs to be paid. We've never had a fire, but they don't mind paying that premium each month because it's a language they understand. So instead of using "audit" just use "insurance". And if they still balk, ask them if they pay for homeowners insurance and have they had a fire at their house? And if not, ask why are they still paying for insurance they don't need?

LTO-8 tape media patent lawsuit cripples supply as Sony and Fujifilm face off in court


Bwah hah ha!

I've got something like 18,000+ pieces of LTO-4 media kicking around in Iron Mountain. Talk about a horror show to restore! And I'm not even sure if that includes all my old SDLT tapes... must check out that setup as well...

Tapes aren't going anywhere. The other problem is filling tapes fast enough so they keep streaming, and not shoe-shining back and forth. That's what kills performance and tape heads. So yes, you do want disk in front so you can spool there as fast/slow as you like, then rip it off to tape super fast when ready.

Is that a stiffy disk in your drive... or something else entirely?


Re: Help! My stiffies stuck in the slot

God I remember the old Fred Fish disks for the Amiga... used to wait around for the latest collection to arrive via copies of a friend of downloaded fromt the BBS at 9600, or 28.8K if I was lucky! Those were the days...

I always through that Commodore was fools for not giving away a C compiler with the base system. The old Lattice C compiler was so stupid expensive that you couldn't afford to use it. And gcc wasn't ported in those days to M68k processors.

I still miss my A2500 with Mech Force, great PD top down mech fighting game. Friends and I spent hours and hours playing that and building mechs.

Brit rocket boffins Reaction Engines notch up first supersonic precooler test


It's not going to work out well....

First off, LOX in bulk is *cheap*, doing all the testing and development of this sucker is not cheap at all.

Second, a rocket needs to accelerate, and accelerate alot to get into orbit. Jet engines are, to a large degree, optimized for cruise. You don't cruise on your way to orbit.

Third, how is this pre-cooler going to do when it sucks in a bird? How benign are the failure modes?

'Numpty new boy' lets the boss take fall for mailbox obliteration


Re: I've learnt to admit my mistooks!

Absolutely! who has the time and energy to keep track of lies? Oh right, sales droids....

Can your rival fix it as fast? turns out to be ten-million-dollar question for plucky support guy


Re: "you need to keep really, really close tabs - and lots of comments...

Thanks for the pointer! This fits me to a T!

NASA gently nudges sleeping space 'scopes Chandra, Hubble out of gyro-induced stupor


It would be a shame for NASA to not be thinking how they could do another servicing mission to Hubble using either SpaceX or Beoing's capsules to replace all six gyros with new ones, along with any other instrument upgrades that could be done easily. It's obvisouly not nearly as easy to do as it was with the Shuttle, but still... it would be a useful extension if possible.

Early experiment in mass email ends with mad dash across office to unplug mail gateway


Are you kidding? People come and bitch at me if the email doesn't arrive instantly now, $DEITY help us if it's not there across the world in two minutes or they're pissed.

Sysadmin shut down server, it went ‘Clunk!’ but the app kept running


Re: Long uptimes are a disaster waiting to happen

I agree that rebooting things more frequently is a nice thing to do, but when you have legacy applications which aren't horizontally scalable, then it can be extremely difficult to get the downtime. I had a bunch of Netapps with over three years of uptime before I was allowed to shut them down, and then only because we were moving them across town.

Let me tell you, when they booted and came up fine, I was very happy! They were off netapp support, and disk failures were at the wrong end of the bathtub curve... it's got to be replaced one of these days, but they won't move until it falls over I suspect.

Disk firmware can kill a whole cluster how exactly? Cisco explains


I love how a disk firmware problem requires a UCS manager update!

I love how a disk firmware issue requires an update of the entire UCS manager stack. And since I've recently gone through the pain of setting up a UCS HyperFlex cluster, I can tell you it will suck suck suck.

Hyperconverged is supposed to make things easier, not harder. UCS HyperFlex is all the flexibility of UCS with all the complexity and pain tripled or even more. It sucks... don't go there.

PC nerds: Can't get no SATA-isfaction? Toshiba flaunts NVMe SSD action


Re: What about endurance?

Right, I bet the Pro model has a much better warrantee than the new version, and more drive writes per day metric as well. The details matter.

But dang, those numbers are nice! Now to get a PCI riser card for my old system(s) to use stuff like this.

Sysadmin hailed as hero for deleting data from the wrong disk drive


Re: Personal Tragedy

You do realize that these cards will fail over time? Just like CD-RW discs? They only real way to keep stuff like this safe is seperate RAID storage where you move the data to new media every five to ten years.



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