* Posts by Putters

147 publicly visible posts • joined 23 Aug 2012


'They took away our Cup-a-Soup!' Share your tales of bleak breakout areas with us



Back in 1990 when I joined LUL working in the Bakerloo Line offices there were no breakout areas. There was, however a bloke on 'light duties' called Frank, who worked in a small kitchenette in one corner of the floor. Frank's job was to start off round the offices on the floor (nothing open plan in those days) collecting everyone's cups. Then dishing out tea or coffee on the next circuit. Repeating continuously for the whole day - other than at around 11am, when he would bring round the bacon rolls if ordered on the previous circuit.

Sysadmin trained his offshore replacements, sat back, watched ex-employer's world burn


Re: Retired

Me too ... that's why I'm sitting here in the Yorkshire Dales in the sunshine as opposed to looking at a crappy commute home on Thameslink !


Re: This smells like BS.

Sounds like the 'Operation Bismarck' that London Underground had to do every year when I worked for them.

Literally take the power off - traction, signalling, comms, the lot. See what dies, what doesn't reboot etc. Used to take ages afterwards going round replacing cctv monitors, resetting clocks etc.

Sysadmin cracked military PC’s security by reading the manual


Dbase IV

Remwmber back in the day cracking a password protected Dataease 4.whatever for Dos database. All you had to do was to make a new one with the same name and copy over the password file to the locked one ... convienently called something along the lines of PassAAAA.dbf...

Every step you take: We track you for your own safety, you know?


Off Tracker.

The Sky guys that fitted our dish last Autumn were certainly in no hurry to depart - once they twigged that our location in Upper Swaledale is a complete mobile signal not spot and they were out of reach of the tracker or manglement communication ...

Police block roads to stop tech support chap 'robbing a bank'


Re: at least they turned up...

Possibly not.

Currently for sale


The harbingers of Doomwatch: Quist is quite the quasi-Quatermass



Until then TV was strictly Black and White.

Cue Hale and Pace's other* funny sketch.


* their first one being the Billy and Johnny 'One skin, two skin...' banana one.

Self-driving cars still do not exist even if we think they do


Re: Not ready.

Also kind of begs the question of at what point the car is going to look at the road ahead and decide it can't do that ... ie looks at it's non winter tyres and the snow covered 1:5 descent of Buttertubs pass - and makes the call to wake the meatbag up rather than start sliding into the drystone walls.

Transport pundit Christian Wolmar on why the driverless car is on a 'road to nowhere'


Re: Driverless trucks though....

In the past the local station usually had a last mile delivery vehicle ... usually in the form of a little three wheeled Scammell Scarab.


Re: They will never work in an urban environment.

Tho not an Audi driver, I've also recently stopped for oncoming traffic rather than drive thru a large puddle.

If I hadn't a couple of pedestrians in Reeth would have been drenched in muddy water and the copper coming the other way would probably have nicked me ...

Anyhow, round here (Dales) a large puddle can be of very uncertain depth and hiding a seriously degraded road surface. If you're slowing enough to take account of those you might as well take a little more time and wait and go round.

If you won't use your brain our machine will use it for you, Nissan tells drivers


Re: supercriticality

My Humber Super Snipe used to work on that basis. Total concentration required to just go in a straight line. Tired steering box, high power steering assist (1960 factory fit) to completely deaden any feedback through the wheel, and crossplies on the road. 2 hrs driving was the limit before mental exhaustion forced a rest stop.



Re: Classics

And RTFM's little sidekick RTBS - or Read The Bloody Screen...for those who persistently hit NO when asked to save a document on closing.

And WYSINQWYG - What You See Is Not Quite What You Get...when printing something that looks fine on screen.

Auto auto fleets to dodge British potholes in future


One little side effects is that the local authority would know about a pothole pretty much as soon as it occurs ... and therefor be liable for any damage it causes. At present, if nobody has bothered to report a hole, the LA is not liable as it doesn't know about it and therefor is not negligent in making a timely repair.

NHS WannaCrypt postmortem: Outbreak blamed on lack of accountability


"So you need proper training to install Windows updates."

When a Window update can bork things like ActiveX controls in Excel like it managed to last year (and for that matter, about a year before that), what it could do to mission critical legacy systems is anybodies guess - so in answer to your question, yes, you do !

Quote from my manager to his director :

"We are resilient to the same issue with the buttons happening again…

We’re not resilient to another untested emergency IM release which breaks something else…"

Robots will enable a sustainable grey economy


Re: New Cities

Dave 126 : "New cities... Interesting. ”If you want to go there, then I wouldn't start from here" goes the old joke. Can anyone here sketch out a portrait of any recent examples from around the world? "

The only one that springs to mind (and I can't say it's a shining example),

Naypyidaw - the capital of Burma



Blunder down under: self-driving Aussie cars still being thwarted by kangaroos


And big enough to take out the grill and the radiator behind on impact.

Though there's something quite amusing watching a creature try to run in three directions at the same time whilst simultaneously trying to get airborne ...


I'd expect the software to react at least as well as you did. Ie letting the vehicle it's travelling in be side swiped.

If the software was really bright, it might even slow up a bit and let the dumb beast head off into the night. But then it would be doing better than either of us :0)

Braking news: AA password reset email cockup crashes servers


Re: Interesting AA facts?

If I recall correctly (though not from first hand experience - I'm not that old) it was AA practice NOT to salute if there was some copper up the road monitoring driving habits. So stopping and asking why was probably a good idea.

PC rebooted every time user flushed the toilet


Intermittent Earths are a bitch to find.

Back in my Central Line days with London Underground in the mid 1990s we had an intermittent earth that screwed up the signalling for about a month. As it was at Marble Arch it caused havoc with the service. Always used to happen in the AM peaks.

The whole area was cleared of any scrap metal etc, engineers on site overnight, nothing found. Points on the crossover given a thorough going over etc.

Eventually the cause was found - there had been a broken chair screw (a screw that holds to the sleeper the thing that holds the rail) in the past that had snapped below the surface of the sleeper. A new screw had been wound in on top of the old one - pushing it out of the bottom of the sleeper. Over time, the track bed had settled a little, thus meaning that the old screw, only under the weight of a fully laden train (hence the AM peak), just made contact with the iron tunnel segment. As the old screw was in contact with the new screw, that in contact with the chair, and the chair in contact with the rail - through which the current controlling the signalling runs, Bingo, a lovely hidden intermittent earth.

Facebook has a solution to all the toxic dross on its site – wait, it's not AI?


Worked with a guy who used to work for the British Board of Film Classification setting ratings for porn (back in the VHS days). He could be a little weird at times.

Gods alone know what these poor sods would be like after a year of watching the output of extremists, jihadists and other assorted nut jobs.

Software dev bombshell: Programmers who use spaces earn MORE than those who use tabs


If Only ...

Now, if only there was a way to, I dunno, Search and Replace all those Tabs with 3 spaces ... I could get paid more ...

Swedish school pumps up volume to ease toilet trauma


This is just going to cause new anxieties ...

some poor kid ... sitting there, unable to squeeze one out ... do to anxiety that the heavy plop or postern blast is going to coincide with the silent bit between tracks ...

Human-free robo-cars on Washington streets after governor said the software is 'foolproof'


Obligatory ...

... XKCD reference.


Hyperloop One teases idea of 50-minute London-Edinburgh ride


Re: Overcomplicating it, aren't you ?

Re the seal

So? Shunting is Victorian Technology, high speed shunting 1930s. Stopping in ATO under about the max braking you want for non strapped passengers to within 30 cm is 1990s LUL Central Line tech. Inflatable bag seals since gods alone knows when. Think of the carriage end overhanging the wheel arrangement by a couple of feet. Carriage fits within the tunnel to within say 15cm (1890s levels of accuracy for tube trains. Good smooth trackbed surface. The seal doesn't have to do much to hold 1 atmosphere over a 6" gap. Hell it could be carriage mounted.

Stopping takes time anyhow, this leaves the running tunnel empty.


Re: Overcomplicating it, aren't you ?

Actually, thinking about it a bit more, you don't even need doors as such - just a seal (think like a grommet) that tightens round the extreme ends of the train once it is stationary.


Re: Overcomplicating it, aren't you ?

Well, yes, if you like, its an airlock - a train sized and, importantly, train shaped one. But there's nothing complicated about a decently sealing door at each end of a tube. It doesn't even have to be completely airtight. And you don't need all that pumping up / down to atmospheric / running tunnel pressures associated with normal airlocks.


Overcomplicating it, aren't you ?

In the 1840s-1850s atmospheric railways were running successfully with a motive force that was an evacuated pipe between the tracks. Ok not hyperloop sized, or pressure, but pulling partial vacuums down to half / third atmospheric pressure over pipes best part of 2 feet in diameter a couple of miles long. This despite said pipe having a slot with a leather seal in the top. Using a 100hp steam engine for the suction pump. Remember - we're not after a hard vacuum.

And all this fuss about airlocks ? Make the stop a loop line. Train comes in, shut doors to tunnel front and back of it. Open vent in loop tunnel - the space round the train is small if the fit is relatively tight so not much air moves due to small volume. Open passenger doors. Close loop tunnel vent. Once all on board, shut passenger doors, open tunnel doors (marginal change to tunnel partial vacuum as air round train is small volume). Whoosh off.

And why are some of you worrying about the train behind. At those timings having only one train in the inter-city section would be a frequency higher than many mainline routes.

When can real-world laws invade augmented reality fantasies? A trial in Milwaukee will decide


Re: The first pic

Lord spare us from those who are offended on our behalf.

Lloyds finally inks mega 10-year cloudy outsourcing deal with IBM



"It said controls and mitigation plans have been established to offset the risks of outsourcing everything to IBM's private cloud"



IT firms guilty of blasting customers with soul-numbing canned music


Re: er - call holding in *2017*

Tomorrow's World has a lot to answer for ... raising false hope in an entire generation.

Plutus Payroll clients and staff fell for plausible business model fairy tales


I think the problem here is that the fraud was very nicely pitched. A good deal that didn't quite look "too good to be true" ...

Robot lands a 737 by hand, on a dare from DARPA


Re: first they came for the co-pilot...

Yes, DLR still has Train Captains. They can drive the trains in emergency / fault conditions. They are first line fault diagnosis and repair. They also provide a degree of security and a visible point of contact for customers.

One of the other requirements for "no crew" trains is that the train is easily accessible in emergency situations - which explains the footway in the tunnel on the DLR when it goes into Bank, and which rules out most of the Tube as being driver free.

Another is Platform Edge doors - which rules out any Lines of the Tube where more than one stock shares a platform as the doors don't line up - so forget the Jubilee, and Met, and District / Met and Piccadilly

US judges say you can Google Google, but you can't google Google


Re: If Bing was more popular

The only time I use Bing is when I want to bring up a map.

Not only are Bing's aerial shots sometimes more up to date than the Google equivalent, but the BIG bonus is that Bing has proper OS maps in the proper colours - both at Landranger and Explorer level.

And not even the OS site has that.

Dyson celebrates 'shock' EU Court win over flawed energy tests


Re: Is this the same Dyson who has no time for the EU ?

Wrong - he could still sue in the European Court of Justice, whether we're still in Europe or not - it decides whether European Law is being broken in Europe, irrespective of who is saying it's been broken.

Eg China Air Travel Association in this case : http://www.reuters.com/article/uk-china-eu-emissions-idUSLNE7BP00A20111226

While Facebook reinvents Sadville, we still dream of flying cars


Re: Flying cars? Pft.

The Russians built a big one.

Caspian Sea Monster in full "flight"


Give 'bots a chance: Driverless cars to be trialled between London and Oxford


And of course is the one that has been graffitied with the inspired "Give Peas a Chance" for the last umpteen years.

Drunk user blow-dried laptop after dog lifted its leg over the keyboard

Paris Hilton

Re: Meow

What happens in Paris stays in Paris ?

ESA picks final two ExoMars landing site candidates


Either way, you can bet those alien organisms will refuse to speak any other language than Welsh should there be any English components in that rover ...

If you can't beat AI, join it: Boffinry biz baron Elon Musk backs brain-machine interface biz


Pulp Sci Fi

Nice little co-incidence. Have just waded through one of those Kindle 90p Sci Fi megapacks.

One story of which seemed somewhat relevant.

Fritz Leiber 1962 : The Creature from the Cleveland Depths. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/23164/23164-h/23164-h.htm

USA can afford golf for Trump. Can't afford .com for FBI infosec service


Re: just you wait...

Isn't that a Mike Oldfield lyric ?

Squirrel sinks teeth into SAN cabling, drives Netadmin nuts


Re: But

Indeed - no road sense at all. Watched one run along the road in panic beside me as I started to pass it. It then managed to run under the wheels.

I was surprised given that I was on a pushbike at the time.

Thump as it went under front wheel, thump (ii) as it went under back - then it ran up a tree. Tough little buggers too ...

'Sorry, I've forgotten my decryption password' is contempt of court, pal – US appeal judges


I may be getting old ...

... but it doesn't seem that long ago that "I don't recall" was a perfectly acceptable answer in the States - especially if you were an ex President being quizzed about sending arms and cash to hostile regimes and right wing guerrillas ...

Uber: Please don't give our London drivers English tests. You can work out the reason why


I suspect the conversation went more like this ...

"Brixton please"

"Hokay" - or whatever 1970s-Mind-Your-Language stereotype reply you prefer.




"Hey, you're on the M4!"

"Pliz ?" - or whatever 1970s-Mind-Your-Language stereotype reply you prefer.

"I wanted Brixton"

"Pliz ?" - or whatever 1970s- ... you get the idea.

"Take the next exit please - I want to go to Brixton"

"Pliz ?"




Doomsday Clock moves to 150 seconds before midnight. Thanks, Trump


What did they do to do that ? US nuclear testing at Johnston Atoll was the closest I could find, and that was about 1500km WSW of Hawaii.


Why wouldn't it stop quite a few of them - most didn't have an ECU back then, but quite a lot had electronic ignition. My 1979 Chrysler Sunbeam had electronic ignition as standard - and that was certainly not a cutting edge vehicle in any respect. [Yes - I've owned a lot of crap cars, in addition to the above I can lay claim to a Fiat 127, a Morris Ital (1.3 Estate to make matters worse) and a Vauxhall Viva HC]

And the vast majority would have stopped pretty soon after with all the diodes in the alternator fried - though, I concede, not immediately. Only stuff with a dynamo and contact box controlled charging would have been unaffected. [Another aside, have seen the results on a Mini alternator of connecting the battery up backwards (the leads will reach on an estate / van) - several of the diodes hadn't just blown, they'd blown to dust leaving just the little metal legs.]


Sirius Cybernetics Corporation?

Are they at it again ?

From "Young Zaphod Plays It Safe" (as far as I am aware the only Hitchhiker's related short story he wrote. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Zaphod_Plays_It_Safe

"Er, Designer People."


"The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation were awarded a huge research grant to design and produce synthetic personalities to order. The results were uniformly disastrous. All the "people" and "personalities" turned out to be amalgams of characteristics which simply could not co-exist in naturally occurring life forms. Most of them were just poor pathetic misfits, but some were deeply, deeply dangerous. Dangerous because they didn't ring alarm bells in other people. They could walk

through situations the way that ghosts walk through walls, because no one spotted the danger.

"The most dangerous of all were three identical ones - they were put in this hold, to be blasted, with this ship, right out of this universe.

They are not evil, in fact they are rather simple and charming. But they are the most dangerous creatures that ever lived because there is nothing they will not do if allowed, and nothing they will not be allowed to do..."

Now that's a Blue Screen of Death: Windows 10 told me to jump off a cliff



Thought I'd heard that quote before - quite a long time ago. In a cartoon. Nearly right - "Watch that first step, its a lulu." - Jack Wabbit and the Beanstalk - 1943 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BVwtPxOrNE

Europe mulls treating robots legally as people ... but with kill switches


Will they be retrofitted to humans ? "I have a little list ..."

Slim pickings by the Biggest Loser: A year of fitness wearables


Or, as my stepdaughter put it "For f***s sake, someone go and get David Attenborough and bubble wrap him until the New Year"