* Posts by Steven Raith

2355 posts • joined 26 Jun 2007

Activision to begin union negotiations with workers from Raven Software

Steven Raith

I wonder if Activision Blizzard...

...considers the Raven staff to be Heretics.


Steven R

Legacy IT to blame for UK's inflexible benefits system

Steven Raith

Re: My BS-o-meter just shot off the scale

You're assuming they didn't sack off the COBOL engineers and try to replace them with contractors versed in .Net and Ruby.

Steven R

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W: Nippy stocking filler for the nerd in your life – if you can get one

Steven Raith


I've been running an original Zero W to host my PiHole DNS adblock thingy for a few years now, and while it's never missed a beat, it'd be nice to have some overhead to try other things on it; that single core always made me concerned (probably unjustifiably, with modern schedulers etc) about, say, trying to also run some minor home automation/sensor/network logging/monitoring stuff on it at the same time.

I imagine with a quad core CPU in it, it'll take a lot more to make this new one complain.

Payday tomorrow, hopefully there'll still be stock.

Steven R

Off yer bike: Apple warns motorcycles could shake iPhone cameras out of focus forever

Steven Raith

The obvious answer...

... Is to get one of those older motorbikes with a creamy smooth straight six.

Yes, those exist

Steven R

Italian stuntman flies aeroplane through two motorway tunnels

Steven Raith

Re: Hopefully...

I don't know, he's been dead for five years and I'm not a pilot so perhaps there's a difference between the terms he used and the terms you're reading into.

He flew at night, and navigated through some storms, and around others using instruments and wasn't arrested or penalised by the relevant governing body, imply from that what you will.

Christ alive, some people are never happy are they?

Steven Raith

Re: Hopefully...

I could probably go to the storage locker and dig out his meticulous flight logs and check, but I'm not going to for a forum post, arf.

He was fully instrument rated, and flew all year round - I expect he learned a few tricks with respect to avoiding bad weather.

Bear in mind he died over five years ago so I can't ask him!

Steven R

Steven Raith

Re: Hopefully...

It used to work, at the very least, to beat congestion and crappy roads.

My old man used to have to journey from the far, far north of Scotland to Manchester/Brum for work, as he oversaw some factories down there.

Driving? At best a working day to get down there (6am to 4pm or so), hotel, freshen up the in the morning to be professional, then after the (often just one or two hour) time on site, either drive back through the night like a bat out of hell, or hotel and do the trip back the next day. Trains were worse.

The problem was (and still is to a degree) the stretch from Wick to Inverness, which back in the 70s was all small A-Road with no dual carriageways etc - that 100 miles could take well over three hours depending on the number of tractors that buses got stuck behind, etc.

So he was looking at light planes from a hobby standpoint, did the math, and worked out that commuting to sites via aircraft would be significantly cheaper, faster and more efficient than anything else.

He put the business case together, and it was agreed that he could expense aircraft fuel and airport space, and other business use costs. Very much like sorting out company use for a personal car, but with wings.

He ended up buying a part finished two seater Cessna-like, built it, got it certified (including stall and VMax testing...*) and got his PPL. He proved that his use case was correct, and he got instrument rating so he could fly on days that weren't nice and sunny (or at night) meaning that used to be a three day trip (drive down, hotel, meeting next day, meeting drags on, hotel again, drive back the next day) could be done in about ten hours flat.

Important points:

A:This was the 70s, the running costs for a light plane were less back then as he explained it - insurance, airport space, etc.

B: His case was a real edge case - if he'd lived slightly south of Inverness (and thus had access to real main roads without a three hour stint beforehand) it would never have crossed his mind.

C: He stopped using the plane once he stopped needing it - it was a bit dangerous as a 'jolly' and mother dearest was quite insistent after they had kids. Especially after a few of his friends in the flying club had...unscheduled landings, killing them. Sort of focusses the mind when a chum ends up flying into a wall at 90mph because he didn't adjust his altimeter properly when flying on instruments.

He kept his nose in the aircraft stuff, but reverted to RC planes and choppers after that - less dangerous.

He kept it in a field over the road from our house owned by a friendly farmer, so yes, he did use it to go and get milk from the airport two miles away. Because of course he did.

Not sure what the point of relaying the above is - just one of those things that me old man did that makes me smile with the sheer audacity of it, the crazy old bugger.

Steven R

* Got a photo of him standing by the plane looking nervous, with the engine running but the cowling off. It was the day of the stall testing and VMAX testing and the pic was taken as he was doing final engine tweeks and checking levels etc - if he hadn't built the plane right, it would have been the last picture there'd have been of him other than the coroners report....

84-year-old fined €250,000 for keeping Nazi war machines – including tank – in basement

Steven Raith

Re: Did I miss something?

I doubt the tank has moved more than twenty feet back and forward since he took out out snow-clearing, so while it may be running there's no guarantee it was fully and safely working.

If the steering controls and throttles were, unbeknownst to them, not working properly, the first time you stick it in gear and dump the clutches, it could do a rapid 180 and take out the entire house. That's assuming that the tracks were safe, parts of the fuel system hadn't rotted away and couldn't handle full fuel pressure under load etc - none of which would likely be easily 'checkable' in a private basement without fairly serious risk.

As such, it's massively safer to call in the local armed forces, use their modern tank recovery gear, winch it out, and not even try to take it out under it's own steam - that's for a museum workshop to do where they have the time and space to make sure everything is safe for use.

'Running when parked' is never a guarantee that things haven't broken or degraded in the meantime - applies to anything with an engine, from a moped to a Panzer.

A moped is less likely to kill you by accident though. Well, slightly less likely...

Steven R

Is it broken yet? Is it? Is it? Ooh that means I can buy a sparkly, new but otherwise hard-to-justify replacement!

Steven Raith

Twenty year old three litre straight six petrol lump here, but same argument can be made.

Steven Raith

Songs For The Deaf is also excellent, but not one to drive to.

To be honest, QOTSA haven't had a 'bad' mainline album, ever IMHO - they're all highly enjoyable.

Vaguely related to the article, my monitor (second display for a laptop) has developed a habit of putting vertical lines on the panel. Ooh, thinks me, possibly get a high refresh rate higher res display....

...nah, laptop isn't capable of that.

Ho hum, 1080p 60hz panel it is.

Steven R

How to keep your enterprise up to date by deploying the very latest malware

Steven Raith

Re: Nostalgia and Netware.

No, thankfully I wasn't involved in that, based on your reaction....

Steven Raith


Ah, reminds me of being back in the day in a London borough, building custom 'gold master' Ghost images for various departments (Births, Deaths and Marriages still used Lotus Notes so custom image for that, etc), and remembering to make sure the UUIDs were set to be changed on first boot, etc.

I do recall that any 'master' machine I used was kept locked in a cupboard that only I had the key to, in a secure/maglocked workshop. Was the easiest way to keep unwanted hands away. Something I image a few people telling stories here learned as they went along - I was lucky enough that it was policy that no-one touches the master machines without written authorisation/project involvement, upon pain of actual, real disciplinary action.

Mind you, I built most images from scratch for each image every time anyway as with Win XP and downloadable service packs it was feasible to do that fairly quickly - I haven't worked on images since Windows 7 (and the wonders of Server 2k8 and WDS - pushing out 30 machines in 30 minutes from bare metal to working desktop, correct AD ownership, Office installed etc was doable) and I do linux these days so I'd assume it's a lot easier now, what with VDI being a thing.

Bloody glad we don't have to deal with Novel Netware and it's application deployment framework. Just take the bits that the application needs to run, and deploy it to the workstation.

Now, what does Docker do again....?

Truly, nothing is new.

Steven R

(just a nostalgia trip really)

Impromptu game of Robot Wars sparks fire in warehouse at UK e-tailer Ocado

Steven Raith

"The grid"

*Tron Legacy soundtrack kicks in*

Yeah, sorry about that.

Steven R

Try placing a pot plant directly above your CRT monitor – it really ties the desk together

Steven Raith

Re: Your headline reminds me...

I moved from the far north of Scotland to Hertfordshire for work, and one of the first things I learned was that people get confused by the word criac.

This was after I was pulled into a managers office for asking someone "what's yer criac was today?" (Scottish for how are you) and they interpreted it as me offering them drugs.

I really wish I was making that up. Good job I didn't do the c-bomb (as is standard in casual Scottish conversation), they'd probably think I was pimping...

My accent and language have mellowed since.

Steven R

House of pain: If YAML makes you swear, shout louder – the agony is there for a reason

Steven Raith

Re: Ubuntu server networking

Well, at least it's not just me.


Upvotes for all!

Steven Raith

Ubuntu server networking

Discovered the other day that Ubuntu Server uses Netplan these days, which uses YAML for it's syntax in the config files.

Took me over an hour to get the YAML right.

What the hell was wrong with a .conf file for networking?

Steven R

(Yes I know, old man shouts at clouds, or more likely, cloud-inits, etc)

From cash machines to commercial kitchen appliances, Doom really will run on almost anything

Steven Raith

To be fair, Duke Nukem (and Blood) both cribbed heavily from Ash Williams/Evil Dead, so really it makes little difference. :-)

Steven R

Steven Raith

I saw the original video....

...about the bump bar running an industrial-esque X86 CPU and figured it'd only be a matter of time before Doom appeared on it.

In terms of running Doom on odd things, I ran Doom on a Rockbox-firmwared iRiver H320 (I think) some....oh god, knocking on twenty years ago it'd be now.

I'm getting old, I fear. It had to happen eventually I suppose.

Steven R

PS: It was only borderline playable, but it was playable.

University duo thought it would be cool to sneak bad code into Linux as an experiment. Of course, it absolutely backfired

Steven Raith

Re: If these things never became commits, then whats being reverted ?

I think they are referring to previous, legit additions to the kernel (come to our Uni, look at the contribs we've made to real world projects like Linux!), rather than the attempts at malicious ones.

Steven R

A word to the Wyse: Smoking cigars in the office is very bad for you... and your monitor

Steven Raith

Re: One benefit of the reduced number of smokers...

You can still get problems though, is they've converted to ecigs, although it is rarer.

The more cloudy devices use a high vegetable glycerine mix (glycerol) which pulls moisture out of the air, then settles.

Or gets pulled into the computers PSU intake. And then pops it.

Not an urban legend; when I used to use cloudy vapes a lot, I killed my own PSU doing this. Protip if you vape like a fiend - dont have your computer in the way of your exhaled clouds :-)

But yeah, smokers pcs, even as a 40 a day roll up smoker, were foul, and a good incentive to stop, as another has commented here...

Steven R

Red Hat defends its CentOS decision, claims Stream version can cover '95% of current user workloads'

Steven Raith

Re: Wow

That's a fair summary - I was thinking more of my own experience coming from

Windows at home/Windows at work

Linux at home for a few years/Windows at work

Linux at home/Linux at work.

I found Ubuntu quite useful as a 'soft-change', although I had the benefit of being used to server-sensibilities - like not filling the system with unnecessary crap.

....which is why I eventually moved off to more focussed platforms, like Debian (I've not taken the Devuan plunge yet, but it'll happen one day I'm sure).

Steven R

Steven Raith

Re: Wow

Ubuntu server is a pretty good intro to the Debian landscape as it does a reasonable amount of handholding (pre-spun distros, lots of meta packages (that's what it's called, innit, when you get one package and it gets lots of 'sideways dependencies' as well as the downstream dependences?), generally more modern base packages etc and a huge, huge amount of guides and documentation for it.

Ubuntu is fine as a server, but if you've been running stripped back, well optimised servers for a while, i expect some of Ubuntu will be frustrating, but there's genuinely nothing particularly wrong with it.

If you were to bung services on an Ubuntu LTS instance, and test with Debian in the background, by the time the LTS ends, you could probably comfortably migrate to straight Debian at that point.

Or you could go the whole hog and microservice the crap out of everything and abstract the base OS into relative obscurity.

Horses for courses, innit.

Steven R

Worn-out NAND flash blamed for Tesla vehicle gremlins, such as rearview cam failures and silenced audio alerts

Steven Raith

Re: Flash wear

"What kills the device (especially SOC) is using the flash to store log files or other data files that are updated regularly; most on board flash is not designed to be use like this."

I know this just from bumbling about with Raspberry Pi's. What are the Tesla engineers excuses?

Steven R

GitHub restores DMCA-hit youtube-dl code repo after source patched to counter RIAA's takedown demand

Steven Raith

Re: Youtube

Yeah, using NewPipe, as a non-dev, has involved me using Github a lot more than I used to - getting hotfixes for when YT cocks about with stream encryption, etc.

If nothing else, I suppose I'm learning something, eh?

Steven R

Need a new computer for homeschooling? You can do worse than a sub-£30 2007 MacBook off eBay

Steven Raith

Re: Been There, Done That...

Is the wireless module in those swoppable? I think my 2k8 unibody was, and if it is, it's just a PCI-E device, so as long as you have drivers - which Mint will - then you're sorted.

Steven R

Steven Raith

I'll agree that second hand desktops can give a lot more bang for buck, but if you're spending <£100 on a laptop:

A: It'll be of a certain vintage

B: If it's a popular one,being of a certain vintage that means *tons* of teardown tutorials on Youtube

C: Parts will generally be cheap.

Broken screens can be replaced without too much trouble, just a little patience. Same for trackpads. Batteries are cheapy cheap, and the power input? most are on a daughterboard that can be swopped in a fairly straightforward manner.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm a twenty year, died in the wool IT tech so I have certain skills and attitudes that make me think things are easier than they are to a layman, but on the flipside, I fucking hate working on laptops - all those fiddle bits - and even I have done literally all of the above, while drunk. if I can do it after a bottle of Merlot while singing along to Death in Vegas songs, you genuinely can too.

Buy something really cheap, and broken, and just try it. Chances are you'll spend a takeaway dinner and an evening in the pub on it.

Worst case, you have a brick on your hands, but have learned something.

Best case, you can charge beer for swapping screens out.

Steven R

Powered by red wine and anger at laptop manufacturers for using plastic clips bloody well everywhere.

Steven Raith

Re: Did this with a BlackBook

I can highly recommend a good thermal paste do-over - I had an, er, 2008 perhaps Macbook and it would run fans full blast all the time (and to be fair, I was hammering it) but once I redid the thermal paste and cleared out the vents, sure, it'd still run hot when being pushed, for just general odds and sods it was pretty quiet and cool.

Steven R

Trucking hell: Kid leaves dad in monster debt after buying oversized vehicle on eBay

Steven Raith

Re: Christ, what assholes

Oh, sweet summer child. You've never had a dispute with PayPal, have you?

Friend of mine had £4k - literally his income to cover him for three months - arbitrarily frozen by PayPal, and it took three months for them to claim 'unusual account activity'.

It took two years and a subsequent grand and a half of legal fees (after he had thrown himself into his business for 18 hours days for three months cover his rent) for him to get his money back. And yes, he got his legal fees back, eventually. Because he won.

I was on the dole at the time, and even I loaned him a fiver here and a quid there to get food. Because he was self employed in the early days of Universal Credit so dole wasn't exactly being helpful for him.

Paypal do not care about you. Paypal only care about their bottom line. Anything they can do to get out of releasing funds of lettings debts drop, they will do, absolutely without exception.

Unless you have the money to take them to court, obviously.

Do not, ever, put any serious funds in Paypal. Period. They are the most mercenary shitheads out there.

Steven R

Oh what a feeling: New Toyotas will upload data to AWS to help create custom insurance premiums based on driver behaviour

Steven Raith

Re: I'd much rather have my insurance rate...

As someone else with knocking on 15 years of zero tickets and zero accidents, it could just be because you're good at not getting caught or having *big* prangs. I've had a couple of brown trouser moments in my driving time, but never been pulled by a copper, or out of a ditch.

That said, I do tend to use common sense and don't take the piss - haring through blind corners at speed, mashing and sawing in town, etc.

I mean, famous last words and all that....

Steven R

Steven Raith

Re: So now the consumer needs to contemplate owning a "burner car".....

I mean, a Morris 1000 Traveller would be nice, but anything from up to the mid-noughties should be fairly hands off, data wise.

I've got an E46 330i - no remote gubbins in that.

Basically if it didn't come with GPS as standard, it's probably a good bet it's got no cellular access either.

Steven R

That's how we roll: OWC savagely undercuts Apple's $699 Mac Pro wheels with bargain $199 alternative

Steven Raith

Re: Still Overpriced

To be fair, for a low volume, presumably high quality (or at least, good enough for the company it keeps) set of castors where people along the design process need to be paid, tooling set up, etc I can see it being pricey to set up for* - economies of scale and all that. I don't imagine they'll be expecting to sell 100k of them.

I'd put a shiny penny on OWC making at least 100% margin on these though, easily. Likely more.

Kudos to them - if they can completely take the piss and make money off them, I suppose they win regardless.

Steven R

*my old man worked in manufacturing and engineering maintenance - some of the costs of dies and machining and generally tooling up for production, even in an existing manufacturing environment, can be eyeopening and eyewatering...

Edit: Having had a look at the OWC kit, it looks more sensibly engineered than the Apple ones too - pretty much tool-less. I think OWC might actually have earned that $200-250!

Remember when we warned in February Apple will crack down on long-life HTTPS certs? It's happening: Chrome, Firefox ready to join in, too

Steven Raith

Shame that some one year certs....

.....are actually two year certs that presumably get revoked if you don't renew, it seems.

Welp, that makes things a bit more annoying.

Steven R

Russia drags NASA: Enjoy your expensive SpaceX capsule, our Soyuz is the cheap Kalashnikov of rockets

Steven Raith

Foot in mouth

"Rogozin is known for being outspoken. In 2014, after the US announced economic sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea, he hit back and suggested America could deliver its astronauts to the ISS with a “trampoline” instead."

Funny looking trampoline, that Dragon Crew Capsule and the rocket that launches it - and can land itself for re-use, innit?

Steven R

(I'm no SpaceX/Musk fanboy, but I bet those words proper sting today)

You can get a mechanical keyboard for £45. But should you? We pulled an Aukey KM-G6 out of the bargain bin

Steven Raith

I've got an Aukey KM-G8...

...and although I can be snobby about keyboards (with a pragmatic streak - a good £15 keyboard is always a nice surprise, thanks Logitech) it's really rather good. I've been using it constantly since working from home and now that I've become familiar with it again, it's great for typing, it's well enough built, and as it cost £40 a few years ago, if it dies in a few years time, I'll not feel as annoyed as if I'd spent £100 on a 'better' keyboard.

You still need to go drag out a spare keyboard if the fancier one shits itself, and then diagnose the problem, order the replacement parts. I'd be fine getting another £40 keyboard, honestly.

I've used better keyboards, but it's plenty close enough for the price.

Steven "clicky clacky" R

(the KM G8 is basically what was reviewed, but without the RGB stuff and a slightly more compact profile, as far as I can tell)

Watch out, everyone, here come the Coronavirus Cops, enjoying their little slice of power way too much

Steven Raith

Re: Shoot people?

That's his answer to everything.

No, I'm not joking. Drug users, smokers, other undesirables, just shoot them dead.

It's only in about a third of cases he actually sends out the death squads though.

Steven R

TeamViewer is going to turn around and ignore what you're doing with its freebie licence to help new remote workers

Steven Raith

I tried this yesterday and it's really not bad at all. Found privilege escalation to be a bit confusing but that's probably just a case of me having never used it before and not knowing some little tricks (every time it popped up a UAC prompt, I'd lose control until the end user agreed to it, etc).

Cross platform and works out the box for the most part, I like it.

Steven R

Freedom of Information coverup clerk stung for £2k after deleting council audio recording

Steven Raith

Unlikely. This is local government we're talking about. Even a criminal prosecution with respect to your competence to do the job is likely not enough to get shot of them.

Steven "Spent too much time in Local Govt" R.

Grab a towel and pour yourself a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster because The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is 42

Steven Raith

Some further reading

The Salmon of Doubt (ISBN 0-330-32312-1) is worth a look as well, as it contains about a third of the proposed third Dirk Gently novel, and also has loads of Adams' collected writings (early and later), memos to other people, musings on tech, and lots of generally very interesting, entertaining stuff.

I've mislaid my copy. Must pick up another one some time soon.

Steven "Someone Elses Problem" R

You've duked it out with OS/2 – but how to deal with these troublesome users? Nukem

Steven Raith

Re: Expensive

On a related note, the death of that computer was when I tried to install OS/2 on it.

I'd used Doublespace (I think) to make more space on the disk, and tried to install OS2 on it. It didn't like doublespace and so asked me to remove it.

So I cleared down the space, and set Doublespace to decompress everything. Which would have been fine.

Had Mother Dearest not turned the machine off part way through because it was making annoying rattling noises.

I wasn't quite sharp enough at ten years old to know how to fix it, and mother dearest didn't want to spend money on a 'toy' so it was permafucked.

I became a console user for about a decade after that. Ah well.

Steven "Parents feck you up" R.

Steven Raith

Re: Expensive

I tried to run it on a 486 SX 25 with 4MB ram.

No go.

Then set up a virtual RAM disk on my HDD (a 120mb IDE jobby) to give it another 4MB of memory. I couldn't tell you how on earth I did it, but I'll wager it was an autoexec/config.sys hackery with something being preloaded at boot. It was over 20 years ago....

Game loaded. Awesome. But every time it hit the 'swap' section, it'd take a couple of seconds to load the data.

And the data was literally every sound, or animation frame it couldn't fit in to real RAM.

It was a lot.

I went back to Doom after that as RAM for that computer was pricey and I couldn't get mother dearest to justify it. She got annoyed enough when I played Doom for hours at a time....

Aaah, good times.

Steven "Blow it out your ass" Raith.

All the IT ladies (all the IT ladies), all the IT ladies (all the IT ladies), now put your hands up! Oh, still not many here

Steven Raith

Re: delights? really?

Well, if you find nihlism and cynicism delightful, which has been a streak that runs through all IT support people with some good chops that I've worked with - male or female.

In my experience - which is of course, a sample of one, so entirely anecdotal - we're a lovely bunch of downtrodden, cynical darlings, we are.

Much love to all <3

Steven "feeling a bit nostalgic today" R

Death and taxis: Windows has had enough of clinging to a cab rooftop in the London rain

Steven Raith


Kernel panics are so much more descriptive.

Steven "Trying to make Vulkan work on a Radeon R280" Raith

Steven Raith

Re: Driver problem

Great minds think alike.

(and idiots seldom differ)


Steven R

Steven Raith


That's a usually a driver fault if I recall, which seems quite apt, really.

Steven R

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

Steven Raith

Re: Ex fruity genius...

Humans aren't machines. Well, except those made by skynet.

At least when my machine popped it smelled of vanilla mocha latte, not burnt ciggies*

Steven R

*lies - it smelled of popped electronics

Steven Raith

Re: Ex fruity genius...

The future, with electro-fags, has it's own risks.

I used to vape heavy VG liquids in a large atty at low nicotine strength, typically 80-100% VG + 3% nic, does the *very* thick clouds.

Eventually, the PSU popped. The VG had condensed inside the PSU, then when warm, slipped down into the transformer. POP.

So it didn't reek of smoke, but it still killed the machine (or more accurately, the PSU - a replacement PSU fixed it).

I've sinced switched to high nicotine, 'lighter' liquids (50/50 PG/VG - mostly for vaping subtly in the office, and I've come to prefer it) and the buildup is now non-existent.

Just a heads up for the Reg vape collective, be careful where you blow your clouds!

Steven "Should have seen that coming, really" R

BSOD Burgerwatch latest: Do you want fries with that plaintext password?

Steven Raith


Surely not XP Embedded? :-/

Steven "don't most remote access tools have a 'blank the remote screen' option these days" R

Windows takes a tumble in the land of the Big Mac and Bacon Double Cheeseburger

Steven Raith

Re: They would use audio for non sighted customers.

Last time I was in a MaccyDs my number was shouted out, not automatically spoken by the screens, as I recall.

I might be wrong though.

Steven Raith

That's nice....

....but the other day I was in a Greggs, and the CCTV system had a Teamviewer request box up. With the ID number and access PIN.

On the public CCTV display.

Could have had some fun with that one, I imagine.

Steven "too many sausage rolls" R

Firefox 72: Floating videos, blocking fingerprints, and defeating notification pop-ups

Steven Raith

Re: Floating Videos? Arrrrgggh!

That's true when it's forced on you by ads.

This is an option you can elect to use so you can keep a video running that you want to watch.

You know, not an ad.

Steven R


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022