* Posts by Roger Lipscombe

53 publicly visible posts • joined 3 Jul 2007


Japanese government finally bids sayonara to the 3.5" floppy disk

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Ha! Ha! I'm typing this on a PC which still has a 3.5" floppy drive...

I've got a USB 3.5" floppy disk drive in the drawer right next to me. I have *no* idea why I purchased it, nor whether I've ever used it.

Another airline finds loose bolts in Boeing 737-9 during post-blowout fleet inspections

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Alaska Air

That the Alaska Airlines whose website is literally "alaskaair.com"? Seems they're OK with the short version...

RIP Bram Moolenaar: Coding world mourns Vim creator

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Curious

On my Mac, that message displays one of ":help sponsor", ":help iccf" and ":help register", seemingly at random.

Scientists strangely unable to follow recipe for holy grail room-temp superconductor

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Based on what I've read of its atomic structure

"It turned out that it was some unknown impurities in the original batch of ingredients that made his potion work."

Reminded of this Tom Scott video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evV05QeSjAw - wherein the holes in Swiss cheese were disappearing because everything's too clean these days -- it takes a certain amount of straw dust to give the hole-causing bacteria something to nucleate on.

See also the loss and subsequent recreation of the recipe for the aerogel used in US nuclear weapons (look up FOGBANK), wherein -- again -- an impurity in the process turned out to be essential.

Euro monopoly cops to probe Microsoft for slipping Teams into Office

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Behavior that deprives customers?

Yes, but. There _is_ nothing _preventing_ you from buying a rivals.

Microsoft's behaviour is undoubtedly shady, but Slack aren't doing themselves any favours by misrepresenting it.

Roger Lipscombe

Behavior that deprives customers?

"we can't ignore illegal behavior that deprives customers of access to the tools and solutions they want."

I'm failing to see how bundling Teams with Office *prevents* customers from using Slack (or whatever) instead...

Personally, I think the EU should sue Microsoft because Teams is crap.

First ever 64-bit version of Windows rediscovered … and a C compiler for it too

Roger Lipscombe

Windows XP x64

"However, if you were really keen, it was possible to obtain Windows XP Professional X64 Edition".

Yeah. I had a copy. If I remember correctly, it came in a dark grey case. I might still have it around here somewhere, but that would require digging around in the boxes we've stored under the eaves.

Upstart encryption app walks back privacy claims, pulls from stores after probe

Roger Lipscombe
Big Brother

It both is and isn't a hard problem

The hard part of an encrypted messaging system isn't the encryption -- that's a thoroughly solved problem. The hard part is the key distribution.

BOFH: Ah. Company-branded merch. So much better than a bonus

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Cheapo USB key

"when they see one priced at X and another of the same capacity priced at X+n, they'll not unreasonable conclude that the former is the one to go for, because they genuinely don't see any benefit in paying the extra for the one next to it."

And also the reverse: some people will get the more expensive one because "it's more expensive, so it's obviously better". You make a bigger % markup on the more expensive one, and you've got the consumers coming *and* going.

Automation is great. Until it breaks and nobody gets paid

Roger Lipscombe

Re: This is why we need code review

"to be re-run immediately"

See, what you *should* have done is schedule the script to run 5 minutes later, instead of immediately. This gives you just enough time to log in and undo the mess.

At least, I *hope* that's the "valuable lesson" you learned...

PC tech turns doctor to diagnose PC's constant crashes as a case of arthritis

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Dell's help desk script

A colleague of mine had to get in touch with (I think it was also Dell) support because his graphics card had stopped working. It took escalating to third line support before they would accept that "no, I'm *not* putting it back in the PC -- a large chunk of the ceramic is missing from the chip, and I can see the silicon" was sufficient to RMA the board without running through the script. We're not entirely sure what caused the failure, but the magic smoke *really* wanted out on that occasion.

What's up with IT, Doc? Rabbit hole reveals cause of outage

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Ouch

We once had a rabbit who was house-trained (as in: wouldn't poop inside the house). Silly bastard did chew through the phone line on at least one occasion, though.

Amid losses, Uber driven to become advertising network

Roger Lipscombe

Entire ride *process*

I'm pretty sure (or cynical enough to believe...) that the "entire ride process" is a superset of the "entire ride". You'll be getting adverts while booking the ride, while waiting for the ride (through obnoxious notifications on your phone that you can't ignore because, well, you're expecting a ride), doubly-so while in the car, and then probably some more adverts in between the car and submitting your feedback.

Fixing an upside-down USB plug: A case of supporting the insupportable

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Are you sure?

I once plugged in an ISA card while the PC was running. I want to say it was a Sound Blaster AWE32, but I don't *think* I'd have been that careless with something that expensive, so it was more likely to be a cheap network card, like a DEC Tulip or something.

Nothing went wrong. No smoke, no fzzt. Nothing.

I rebooted (to load the drivers). All good.

Attacker snags account details from streaming service Plex

Roger Lipscombe

I ditched Plex a while back -- we're using Emby these days. I wonder how I go about deleting my Plex account?

You need to RTFM, but feel free to use your brain too

Roger Lipscombe

Dr. Stephen Strange : Yeah, you know, you really should have stolen the whole book because the warnings... The warnings come *after* the spells.

Seriously, you do not want to make that cable your earth

Roger Lipscombe

Re: From the domestic side

"watch someone try to work out the wiring in most living rooms where you have two pair of two way switches"

For whatever reason, our kitchen has 3 switches for each set of lights -- one by the hall doorway, one by the dining room doorway, and one by the back doors. When we had some electrical work done a few years ago, I think it took the sparky several hours just to figure out what the hell was connected to what.

To be fair, though, we've been in the house for nearly 15 years, and I've still not figured out which switch goes with which lights.

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

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Sony Vaio

I loved the tiny Sony Vaio SRX87, but -- yeah -- drivers were a massive problem. Don't even *start* with the PITA involved in getting Linux installed on it. I managed it, though -- the posts are still up on my blog from (shudder) 18-ish years ago.

You only live twice: Once to start the installation, and the other time to finish it off

Roger Lipscombe

Flying into Vancouver on a business jaunt:

Them: Can you take the electronics out of your bag, please?

Me: Are you sure? It's pretty much *all* electronics.

Them: Yes.

Two laptops (netbooks, fortunately), a couple of USB/serial converters, an ethernet switch, and the associated power supplies and assorted cables... Took me a while to cram it all back into the bag.

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Sadly, no international jet-settng for me

A colleague of mine once did Germany and back (late 90's, pre-Euro) with a Westminster resident's card. To be fair, we'd been doing that trip every week for about 6 months by that point, so they probably recognised us...

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Fairly Frequent Flier

Back before everyone had a GPS-enabled supercomputer in their pocket, I was at a startup looking to make GPS kit for skiers and snowboarders. So I was taking the prototype with me on a personal skiing trip. Clear plastic box containing the antenna and a custom-built circuit board, ribbon cable to a separate battery pack. All tucked inside my helmet bag along with a roll of duct tape.

After a few minutes of the security guard running it back and forth through the scanner (I was obviously not putting a fragile prototype in checked baggage), I finally asked "would you like me to explain what that is?"

After explaining, I was allowed to take the prototype into the cabin. The duct tape had to be checked in.

Has Apple abandoned CUPS, the Linux's world's widely used open-source printing system? Seems so

Roger Lipscombe

"Printers both older, contemporary and newer than it all support Postscript. So why didn't it? No idea."

Because PostScript is a fully-fledged programming language. You can even render the mandelbrot set in it, *on* the printer. That costs money, because you need to put a fairly beefy (for the time) CPU in the printer.

HP PCL is simpler, but still provides for font rendering (and vector graphics?) on the printer, so you still need something relatively beefy in the printer to do that.

Manufacturers can save money by doing the rendering on the PC and sending a simpler rasterised image to the printer. Hence the custom printer drivers.

Plus, I'm assuming that Adobe charged a license fee for supporting PS (and HP for PCL), so there's that, too.

Before you buy that managed Netgear switch, be aware you may need to create a cloud account to use its full UI

Roger Lipscombe

It *probably* wants it so that it can work out which country you're in, and therefore which Wifi bands it should use.

But I wouldn't put it past them to record that information for some other purpose...

Beware the fresh Windows XP install: Failure awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth

Roger Lipscombe

There's something about phone cables as well

When I was younger, we had intermittent, and progressively-getting-worse problems with the phone. This was back in the days of landline phones with actual dials on them. After some investigation, involving pulling out the sofa, we discovered that the rabbit (who usually lived in a hutch in the garden, but was house-trained) had acquired a taste for the cable insulation and had started chewing through the cable in multiple places. I figure that he would stop chewing when he received a mild electrical shock and then next week would try again in another spot. After judicious application of electrical table, and a ban on the rabbit entering that room, the problem was solved.

'One rule for me, another for them' is all well and good until it sinks the entire company's ability to receive emails

Roger Lipscombe

I had 64MB of RAM in my Windows 95 PC -- at the time that was considered a lot of memory.

I remember that I had to take half of it out whenever I wanted to play GTA, because DOS4GW didn't like having as much physical RAM as virtual RAM. When I got in touch with someone at Rational they were all "oh; we never considered that someone might actually have 64MB of memory".

Today's budget for application improvements is brought to you by the letters "Y", "K" and the number "2"

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Y2...um... okay?

My father was renting a VCR (also JVC, I think) that was no longer "supported" past Y2K, so the rental company simply sent him a new one in late '99. They didn't ask for the old one back, so I did some Y2K checks -- can I set the clock to some time in 2000, does it deal with the leap year properly, can I schedule a few recordings, etc.?

It all passed, so -- hey -- free VCR, I guess!

Bose customers beg for firmware ceasefire after headphones fall victim to another crap update

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Criminal Damage

"... or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged ..."

If you could prove that their testing regime was half-assed, I think you could argue "reckless" here.

Meet the new Dropbox: It's like the old Dropbox, but more expensive, and not everyone's thrilled

Roger Lipscombe

I'm out

I used Dropbox as a convenient way to get photos off of my phone (via DropSync; the Dropbox client for Android was never very good), and to synchronise my KeePass database between devices.

Then they broke the Linux client. I now use Google Photos for the former and BitWarden has built-in sync.

Everything else I need is either in OneDrive, Google Drive or GitHub.

Then they started sending me "thanks for signing up emails" a month or two back, even though I've had the account for several years.

I'm out. I'll be exporting my stuff and deleting my account this afternoon.

Behold… a WinRAR security bug that's older than your child's favorite YouTuber. And yes, you should patch this hole

Roger Lipscombe

Re: We need a secure caller display system

"Or perhaps just leverage %username% environment variable to hit the path."

Only if the ACE DLL also does environment variable substitution. It's not free, and most code doesn't bother.

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

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Their choice

I read Jack Daniels, rather than Jack Russells. Not sure how that would work out, but I think science demands that we find out.

Cisco Webex meltdown caused by script that nuked its host VMs

Roger Lipscombe

This was a process issue

I expect to see this in "Who, Me?" in a couple of months...

Oldest swinger in town, Slackware, notches up a quarter of a century

Roger Lipscombe

"A beer, a command line ..."

I first encountered Slackware in '94-'95, while a student. One morning I woke up after a night in the Union with an incipient hangover, with a plan to install it. So I sat down and turned on the PC. Turns out I'd managed to install it the previous night, successfully, while very very drunk, presumably with the aid of a kebab.

Yes, Assange, we'll still nick you for skipping bail, rules court

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Schrödinger's Embassy

He's only safe while he's physically in the embassy, right? Why don't we suggest that the Ecuadorians move their embassy? A suitable property just became available on Grosvenor Square, I believe.

They move, he doesn't. He's no longer in an embassy; he gets arrested. They move, he attempts to move. He's on the street; he gets arrested.

Energy firm slapped with £50k fine for making 1.5 million nuisance calls

Roger Lipscombe

Re: We need a secure caller display system

"Wouldn't that financially ruin any telecom-company?"

Yes. Your point?

Google ships WannaCrypt for Android, disguised as Samba app

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Why?

The problem appears to be that this is a *client* that supports only SMBv1, which means -- if you want it to be useful -- you need to keep SMBv1 enabled on your server.

And *that's* where you're going to get pwned.

Just 99.5 million nuisance calls... and KeurBOOM! A £400K megafine

Roger Lipscombe

Re: We need a secure caller display system

Forget fines. Jail time.

SHIFT + F10, Linux gets you Windows 10's cleartext BitLocker key

Roger Lipscombe

What's wrong with that, Microsoft...?

Requiring the password be entered again during the upgrade process means that you can't do remote (unattended) upgrades, which is kinda important for companies managing tens of thousands of Windows desktops.

Uber's robo-truck makes first delivery of ... Budweiser in Colorado

Roger Lipscombe

They'll make everyone unemployed

This seems appropriate: Self-Driving Trucks Are Going to Hit Us Like a Human-Driven Truck.

Lenovo denies claims it plotted with Microsoft to block Linux installs

Roger Lipscombe

Re: "To improve system performance, Lenovo is ... adopting RAID on the SSDs..."

> It's a laptop with ONE DRIVE BAY.

Are you sure it has a drive BAY at all? My Acer ultrabook (granted, it's from 2013 or so) has a 128GB SSD in it. Except it doesn't; it has 2x 64GB SSDs in it. I assume they're soldered onto the motherboard somehow.

With RAID enabled in the BIOS, Windows casually treats it as a single volume and you'd never know. To use Linux on it, you need to enable AHCI (which it *does* allow, unlike -- allegedly -- these Lenovo machines), at which point you need to monkey around with software RAID to get back to a single volume.

Furious English villagers force council climbdown over Satan's stone booty

Roger Lipscombe

To be fair...

Looking at Streetview, the rock does appear to be smack-dab in the middle of the junction, and isn't particularly visible (grey rock on grey background). There's not even a kerb around it.

Surround it with a traffic island, with the usual high-visibility signage. Job done.

Netgear prodded into patching SOHOpeless broadband router

Roger Lipscombe
Big Brother

Re: July to October

That's the best kind of evil: plausible deniability.

ISS 'nauts quit orbiter and aim for Kazakhstan splashdown

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Splashdown!

From http://space.stackexchange.com/a/4894/10450:

Back in the early days of space flight, the Soviets did not have large expanses of warm water available to them, where there is no fear of 'enemies'. Unlike the US with large coastlines on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Brits send Star Wars X-wing fighter to the stratosphere

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

As the saying (originally about the F-4 Phantom, I believe) goes, "with enough thrust, you can get a brick to fly".

DRONE ALONE: US Navy secretary gives up on manned fighters

Roger Lipscombe


And he doesn't think that a whole new world of bureaucracy won't spontaneously appear to manage drone procurement? Hmmm.

Data retention: It seems BORING ... until your TV SPIES ON YOU

Roger Lipscombe
Big Brother

Re: oh hum

If the privacy agreement said that this data would be shared with a specific, named, third party, and only that third party, only for the purposes of voice recognition, and would not be stored at all once the recognition was done, there would probably be less uproar -- tinfoil hat brigade excepted.

It's the "we're listening to your living room, and who knows who we're giving that data to, because we certainly don't" clause that's really bothersome.

Xen says its security policies might be buggier than its software

Roger Lipscombe

Re: but surely

VM migration isn't quite as transparent as it could be, which means that AWS / Rackspace customers still have to plan for potential downtime.

Moreover, you need a sufficient number of patched hosts, otherwise have to move VMs from host 'A' to vulnerable host 'B' before you can patch 'A'. Then you have to move the VMs from 'B' back to 'A'. This results in annoyed customers, because their machines were moved twice, rather than once.

And now you have to do all of this within an announced and (hopefully) short maintenance window, so that your customers can make sure all of their devops guys are on deck for it.

The AWS fix for this was spread out over several days, with several multi-hour maintenance windows. It didn't impact us greatly, but it could have been a lot worse. For some customers, it might well have been.

WD glams up SmartWare with Dropbox

Roger Lipscombe

Previous versions

Dropbox does keep previous versions -- right click on the filename in the web browser.

The terror dam of doom that looms over Boise, Idaho

Roger Lipscombe

Re: Surely not

Volume of water is measured in gallons or liters (since this is in Idaho) or m^3. Acre-feet is like me measuring the area of my back garden in furlong-inches.

Microsoft takes a back seat as Orange goes for the eyes

Roger Lipscombe
Thumb Down

...which sees a host of applications pre-installed

Great, so it'll be like a Windows PC (e.g. from Sony) where there's a whole heap of sh*t (usually 30-day trial versions) pre-installed that you don't want, and that's really hard to get rid of, just because Orange gets a back-hander from the vendor.