* Posts by grumpy-old-person

93 publicly visible posts • joined 10 Nov 2012


HP customers claim firmware update rendered third-party ink verboten


Continuos ink systems

Years ago, when I still used home printers I became furious at cartridge prices and small capacity.

I had a continuous ink system installed which came with the ink tanks full, enough to print way, way more than the few millilitres of ink in print cartridges.

A LITRE of ink from the fellow who supplied the continuous ink system cost about half what a single cartridge cost.

Just out of curiosity I tried peeling back the HP cartridge labels and injecting a few millilitres of ink - worked perfectly!

England's village green hydrogen dream in tatters


Haber/ Bosch process hassles with Hydrogen

Fritz Haber worked out a way to make Ammonia from Hydrogen and atmospheric Nitrogen, with the process actually implemented on an industrial scale by BASF's Carl Bosch.

The problems encountered with Hydrogen caused much pain, eventually mastered in interesting fashion.

Hydrogen my not be the best option for "greening" the world!

UK facing electricity supply woes after nuclear power stations shut, MPs told


Re: "that dealing with long term waste issues remains effectively unresolved, "

Imagine that Cobalt-60 is stored 3km from your home and after a year a stupid action by someone releases - your description, "highly active" - radioactivity that reaches your home in minutes.

I believe your attitude would be very different.

Do not be deceived that "very unlikely" = "never", and bear in mind that ANY nuclear "accident" is likely to have severe and lasting consequences (likely to be covered up by politicians)

Nuclear fission is NEVER going to be safe, and fusion is still a pipe-dream.

Of course, burning fossil fuels has been shown to have had terrible consequences too - and also had its supporters despite the evidence.

Meta proposes doing away with leap seconds


Facebook should be authoritative?

I've seen enough of facebook to be suspicious of anything it produces!

There is a path to replace TCP in the datacenter


Don't fix it if it not broken

While TCP/ip may have many deficiencies it also has many positive aspects.

Replacing it with something else would require a lot of thinking that makes the proposed replacement infinitely better than TCP.

After all, if you are old enough to remember what it was like in the days of X.25, SNS, BNA and so much more that made it so VERY difficult to connect systems - TCP/IP changed that in a dramatic way, allowing just about anything to connect to anything.

A replacement needs to have similar positive aspects while providing a significant improvement in performance.

Not so simple, and very difficult to do.

Linus Torvalds says Rust is coming to the Linux kernel 'real soon now'


Re: Why does modern hardware not facilitate "safe" software?

The need for speed!

The recent problems with processors has reduced the speed to avoid the security issues - and it has been accepted as necessary.

In the book "The Elements of Programming Style" there is a comment about turning off array bounds checking - so that one can get the wrong results as fast as possible.

Principle was true all those years ago and still true today.


Why does modern hardware not facilitate "safe" software?

Many decades ago there were many attempts to design hardware that would not allow many of the problems that are still with us - even though hardware speed should support things that were simply too slow when implemented way back.

The book "Advances in Computer Architecture" by Glenford Myers describes a number of the projects.

The section detailing the IBM SWARD machine is particularly interesting, and IIRC the principles were used in the IBM System38.

Perhaps it's time (past time?) to have hardware that will prevent many errors (eg an uninitialised variable!) instead of coming up with more languages which will eventually be found to have their own issues.

Google QUIC-ly left privacy behind in its quest for a speedier internet, boffins find


Re: TCP has never worked properly

I am old enough to remember the pre-Internet circus getting things to communicate - every manufacturer had its own networking stuff so it was NEVER fun, and at times not even worth the effort.

Criticising TCP cause it's not perfect without acknowledging the great service the Internet has done humanity is unfair.

The fact that it became possible to connect just about anything with anything in a way that works pretty well is amazing - start bundling all sorts of things to get efficiency may just be the road to complexity hell.

The principles of the "dumb network" and the UNIX "do one thing and do it well" are best no forgotten

Meta Platforms demands staffers provide proof of COVID-19 booster vaccine before returning to office


Re: I'm a vaccine

TB is still a serious, ongoing problem in a few countries - as is polio

Google says open source software should be more secure


Why only Open Source?

Surely ALL software should be secure - NOT 'more' secure!

Large corporations that deliver great returns for shareholders and top management often have terrible security records going back many, many years.

Facebook sues scraper who sold 178 million phone numbers and user IDs


But surely Facebook (and zuckerberg) should be held reponsible for the leak?

The person who used the flaw is guilty of USING the leak not having a piss-poor system that made it possible.

Don't hold your breath until Facenook is held accountable - it will probably never happen!

UK data watchdog calls for end-to-end encryption across video chat apps by default


Only following orders?

Where have I heard that before?

These couldn't wait for Patch Tuesday: Adobe issues bonus fixes for 92 security holes in 14 products


How is this allowed to continue over decades?

Large corporations that make many, many billions of dollars out of software that has been known to be dodgy over decades are still at it - how is this possible?

Rocket science is not required to figure out what is going on here - this is simply ALLOWED to happen and the money keeps roling in!

Way past time for action by governments and trade organisations to step in to stop this - but they won't because there is money to be made!

Use cheap/free open source software created/maintained by people who really try to make a difference is shunned in favour of expensive swiss-cheese software.

Open-source is not perfect, but I'm relieved that for the last 15 or so years I have not used Windoze but Linux (with the systemd wart) and very useful open-source software

Measuring your carbon footprint? There's no app for that


The problem is simply too many people wanting too many unnecessaey things

Image if there were only 1 billion people on the planet - we could probably all have as much as we wanted.

But only until the population size exploded!

It seems literally unbelievable that overpopulation - with unsustainable strain on limited resources - is hardly ever used as the basis for a solution to what people have done (and are still doing to the planet)

It will not end well for homo sapiens (and many other species too)

I used to think that I will escape the inevitable disaster because I am already 73 years old, but I wonder if I will

Everyone cites that 'bugs are 100x more expensive to fix in production' research, but the study might not even exist


Re: Fixing things long after they have gone live



Elon Musk hits the brakes on taking Bitcoin for Tesla purchases


Killing the planet

It may not mean much but the Bitcoin mining DOES have an impact on us - and worse, on the next generations

'Biggest data grab' in NHS history stuffs GP records in a central store for 'research' – and the time to opt out is now


Why does ANYONE need to know this?

Just more government data slurping while it (government) is incapable of delivering useful services (anywhere, not just UK!)

US declares emergency after ransomware shuts oil pipeline that pumps 100 million gallons a day



How is it so easy for the 'bad guys' to access ANYTHING, let alone critical infrastructure?

When software depends on a project thanklessly maintained by a random guy in Nebraska, is open source sustainable?


Why pick on open source when commercial software is so bad?

Open source may be somewhat weak, but how is it the companies with thousands of employees have software that is like Swiss cheese?

Ransomware victim Colonial Pipeline paid $5m to get oil pumping again, restored from backups anyway – report


How do they get in in the first place?

Starlink creates risk of internet investment doom cycle, says APNIC researcher


Re: Utter cobblers

It is inevitable that as the number of users of a finite resource increases the performance degrades.

The obvious solution is to upgrade the resource - relatively easy to do with fibre, not so easy to do with terrestrial wireless, very difficult/costly to do with LEO satellites.

Cluttering up near Earth unregulated/unmanaged space with more and more satellites has many other serious (bad) consequences.

Making more money or doing something just because it is possible is not a good enough reason!

Severe bug in Libgcrypt – used by GPG and others – is a whole heap of trouble, prompts patch scramble


Re: Well......

I am always surprised that nobody ever criticises the hardware.

There were many projects that came up with hardware designs that made it impossible to have a buffer overflow - and much else besides. Capabilities, for example - and to those who point out their problems may I point out that capabilities are WAY better than what we use now.

Unfortunately 40 years ago the hardware simply was too slow to implement much of this stuff.

Now we have the equivalent of a Morris Minor with a V10 engine - goes like hell but is unstable even in a straight line, generally corners dangerously and braking is just an afterthought that causes heart stoppages.

Today's tech giants won't be as naive as I was in DoJ dealings, says former Microsoft chief Bill Gates



I'm CERTAIN there are more than 3 people who don't see the M$ 'thing' as a success :)

Yes, it's down again: Microsoft's Office 365 takes yet another mid-week tumble, Azure also unwell


Re: Exchange is bad news...

Commissioning a new head office there were problems with M$ software and people were flown out from the UK.

Quite soon the network (installed and well tested) was blamed for the inability of Exchange to work.

When asked how the M$ people were connecting to the servers the reply was 'network' - simply told the M$ cretin that the network did NOT discriminate traffic and that M$ should extract their digits.

M$ eventually found the problem/s.

Microsoft lends Windows on Arm a hand with emulation layer to finally run 64-bit x86 apps at last


Re: X86 ain't dead yet

You could make cores that can run both x86 and ARM code, depending on the mode the OS switched it in to.

Like Burroughs did decades ago?

Personal data from Experian on 40% of South Africa's population has been bundled onto a file-sharing website


Re: The $64,000 question

This happened in South Africa where the ANC government just increased the state debt by taking a huge loan for COVID-19 purposes that was immediately gobbled by the corruption that has brought the country to the brink of disaster.

Why would anyone expect that there is the moral will to stop this?

When a deleted primary device file only takes 20 mins out of your maintenance window, but a whole year off your lifespan


Re: Seems like a proper who, me

Many years ago when I was still young I travelled from Johannesburg to Windhoek to upgrade the operating system on an ICL SYSTEM 4, taking THREE copies of the necessary stuff on 9-track magnetic tapes.

The mainframe could not read ANY of them!

Eventually got a colleague to plead with a passenger about to board a Windhoek flight to nurse a removable disk pack (quite large in those days!) as hand luggage which I very gratefully accepted from hm on his arrival in Windhoek.

Seems that the 'skew tape' used to align the heads on the tape drives was not well - but simply remedying this with a 'valid' skew tape was not an option as many years of the site's tapes would have become unreadable!

UN warns of global e-waste wave as amount of gadgets dumped jumps 21% in 5 years


Re: Or...

Old laptops and desktops can still be VERY useful using an appropriate Linux distribution installed.

Hoarding old stuff which can be used by someone else with limited financial resources when their kit fails makes perfect sense to me (but I get mumbles from my wife from time to time!)

We have Huawei to make the internet more secure: Dump TCP/IP to make folks safer says Chinese mobe slinger


Re: ipv6 is broken and something is needed to properly superseded ipv4

The US government and military of the day had probably asked for something,but I bet that NOBODY had an inkling as to what would eventually emerge as the Internet!

An amazing feat of design that needed only a few tweaks to make it not only "usable" but eminently so!

The distributed nature of the design enabled it to scale so far past the original expectations that it is almost miraculous.

As for devices like firewalls one can view them as a choice of the end user, like having a wall around your property or not - not a part of the Internet per se and will probably be required until the last crook has disappeared from the planet!


Or South Africa

The 'State of Disaster' declared here was surely never intended to allow the police and military to assault and kill - nobody seems to explain how this contains the spread of a virus!


Rise of the Stupid Network

The Internet (previously ARPANET, previously ...) works well because it is "stupid" and the "clever" bits are the endpoints.

Change the endpoints as much as you like and the network will still (mostly) deliver the packets used to carry the data.

Putting "clever" bits into the network itself will simply produce problems that are avoidable.

See this old paper https://www.hyperorg.com/misc/stupidnet.html

Any proposal by any government to enable control will end in tears!

AMD takes a bite out of Intel's PC market share across Europe amid microprocessor shortages, rising Ryzen


Re: AMD Driver support...

On Windows, of course!

There are other options . . .

South Africans shivering in the dark after file-scrambling nasty hits Johannesburg power biz


Just in SA?

Like everywhere else Windows is often deployed (even when the alternative is probably better).

I am distrustful of most "digital security" as it is usually an afterthought (bolted on after the disaster) or badly thought through in the first place - and I have experience where the resistance to good security is fueled by "convenience".

All it takes is ONE slip to let the bad boys in!

Sad to SA that SA has had good computer people for many, many decades but the "brain drain" is fast depleting the pool.

Rust in peace: Memory bugs in C and C++ code cause security issues so Microsoft is considering alternatives once again


Re: Eh?

A simple count of the number of flaws is not useful - a common, easily used vulnerability counts for as much as an obscure (but possibly more dangerous) one.

Also, the number of copies of a given piece of software containing a flaw can result in a 'less dangerous' flaw causing widespread damage while an obscure flaw may never be exploited.

WikiLeaks boss Assange acted as a foreign spy, Uncle Sam exclaims in fresh rap sheet


Takes two to tango

While Assange et al are probably guilty of some or other crimes, it seems that the US has MASSIVE security problems that allow secrets to be taken so easily!

I wonder what the security spending by the US is? Probably make one's eyes water - yet very poor value for money, it seems

Tractors, not phones, will (maybe) get America a right-to-repair law at this rate: Bernie slams 'truly insane' situation


In my experience I can quite often do a better job (and at low or no cost) then the "professionals"

My 2001 Mercedes Benz E200K stood for around six months because both "keys" (more like TV remote controls) stopped working.

Eventually figured out that both keys had developed small holes in the flexible parts after much use and all sorts of rubbish had clogged up the lens through which the infrared is transmitted / received.

Imagine what I would have paid to an authorised dealer!

SPOILER alert, literally: Intel CPUs afflicted with simple data-spewing spec-exec vulnerability


Re: I am always disappointed in modern computing

Decades ago all sorts of interesting architectural stuff was tried but found not to be feasible with the hardware of the time.

What happened to all of this?

Hardware architecture that provides decent protection (at least much better than what we have now!), can prevent buffer overflows and all sorts of things - probably at a performance cost, but look at what simply focusing has got.

In the book "Elements of Programming Style" (Kernighan and Plaugher) there is the statement relative us.fast as possible!

Imagine the uproar if a CPU appeared that had an architecture similar to IBM's SWARD!

Pothole campaigner sprays Surrey street with phallic paintings


Colliding with a donkey

There is the tale of the fellow who wrecked his car when he collided with a donkey.

Asked how he did not see the donkey he replied that it was in a pothole and all that was visible was the ears!

Pandas so useless they just look at delicious kid who fell into enclosure


Re: In other news

Never been chased by a white rhino but was scared as hell when a black rhino and calf decided that we were not to be tolerated anywhere near her and offspring (no quadbike).

Hippo, however are definitely to be avoided - actually saw one chase off a lioness attempting to make a meal of an unsuspecting waterbuck.

Ignorance is definitely a problem, though, as in my youth (about 40 years ago) my wife and I went walkabout at St Lucia (Natal, South Africa) and despite walking past MANY hippos survived unmolested, which my wife ascribed to them being vegetarians!

One click and you're out: UK makes it an offence to view terrorist propaganda even once


Re: Goodbye Youtube?

A little off-topic, it seems that it was fashionable to be anti-apartheid yet it is now the fashion to say nothing against what South Africa got in apartheid's place - a good example is the rolling blackouts this last week courtesy of the bankrupt state power corporation and the ANC "liberators" that has further damaged the ailing economy.

The Large Hadron Collider is small beer. Give us billions more for bigger kit, say boffins


Re: I see oppotunity


It's somewhere in africa

It’s baaack – Microsoft starts pushing out the Windows 10 October 2018 Update


Six month madness?

Ubuntu and MANY Linux distributions do this without causing chaos - so why is M$ special?

The real issue is that M$ could not find its corporate arse with a map and a torch!

Home users due for a battering with Microsoft 365 subscription stick



Try FreeOffice if you think LibreOffice is not for you - you might be pleasantly surprised!

Groundhog Day comes early as Intel Display Drivers give Windows 10 the silent treatment


Re: Office 2010

If you are not using the more esoteric features of Office then give FreeOffice a try - you will be pleasantly surprised , and it's fast.

If you are impressed and want more functionality then go for the paid version which gives 5 licences for a very reasonable price.

Xiaomi waggles Mi MIX 3, the first smartphone packing 10GB RAM


Re: And you thought...

Ah, yes.

The visionary Bill Gates - also pooh-poohed the Internet iirc!

2-bit punks' weak 40-bit crypto didn't help Tesla keyless fobs one bit


Re: Problem-solution dichotomy

I did not use my 2001 Mercedes Benz E200K for around 6 months because BOTH keys stopped functioning, and I refused to be ripped off by an official dealer.

The short story is that the "key" seems to use infrared communication with the car once inserted into the socket on the dashboard - years of use eventually left a hole in the plastic shell (both keys) through which dust and other rubbish entered and obstructed the lens at the tip of the key.

Problem resolved by cleaning the inside of the lens with a small brush, at no cost.

Used my bicycle while the car could not be started - lots of exercise and quite a saving on fuel costs!

Microsoft tells volume customers they can stay on Windows 7... for a bit longer... for a fee


Re: Divorcing Microsoft

FreeOffice is fine for most purposes if LibreOffice does not work for you.

Try https://softlay.net/operating-system/windows-xp-sp3-iso-full-version-free-download.html for a version of XP SP3 - it runs on VirtualBox.

Mystery crapper comes a cropper


Runners in deserate need need to go . . .

Some years ago out on a run training for the Comrades Marathon (in South Africa many of us are quite unusually fond of running long distances!) I had completed a fairly steep uphill section when my bowels decide to move as well.

The only thing to do was to head for a service station a kilometre or so along the road that I knew had public toilets.

The bowels became more and more insistent the faster I ran and by the time I reached the service station I was on the brink of being (literally) in the brown and smelly stuff.

Without any regard for signage,or anything else for that matter, I vaguely was aware that I caused a stir as I entered the toilet.

Once relieved - of the bowel problem and that I had managed to avoid disaster - I realised that in my rush I had run into the ladies.

Came out trying not to look too flustered and set off again after thanking the staff for the use of the facilities!

Time to ditch the Facebook login: If customers' data should be protected, why hand it over to Zuckerberg?


Re: Corporations promote their Facebook-URL way above links to their own websites

Your comments are all valid - the only thing I don't see is why you use Facebook at all!

TSB's middleware nightmare: Execs grilled on Total Sh*tshow at Bank


Re: 'The issues we’re seeing in the system are - middleware'

The bank I worked for was moved to TCP/IP while all the others in the country at the time were captive IBM accounts using SNA.

When Burroughs became a problem and a move to IBM s/390 and onwards was done I refused to succumb and used Cisco channel-attached routers - tunneling the SNA between sites and avoiding the FEP and associated software costs.

Imagine my astonishment when the person in charge of IT enquired about our SNA network!

It took 2 days to craft a suitably snotty reply that pointed out that while he was being a big-shot and contemplating his navel we had saved a bundle of money and had only a single IP network,

Execs usually cannot discriminate between execute as in kill and execute as in carry out operations!