* Posts by Andy Taylor

364 publicly visible posts • joined 9 Jul 2007


UK convinces nations to sign Bletchley Declaration in bid for AI safety

Andy Taylor

Turing had nothing to do with Colossus!

Alan Turing’s sole contribution to Colossus was

recommending Tommy Flowers (who actually designed Colossus) as a Suitable

Person to look at the problem. Turing made valuable contributions to the Bombe machines which help break Enigma. By 1943 he was at Hanslope Park working on speech encryption (Delilah).

Food robots delivering bombs? Oregon State campus shut down by 'prank'

Andy Taylor

Also operating in many locations in the UK and Finland

Starship was trialled in London but first operated in Milton Keynes where there were around 200 robots last time I checked. Now also in Northampton, Cambridge, Bedford, Leeds and Manchester plus other countries including Finland and Estonia.

Nuclear-powered datacenters: What could go wrong?

Andy Taylor

This is going to make one hell of a "who, me?" story. Assuming the column still exists afterwards.

Raspberry Pi 5 revealed, and it should satisfy your need for speed

Andy Taylor

Lots of comments moaning that newest model is overkill/too expensive. Remember that older models are (at least theoretically) still available for purchase.

Getting to the bottom of BMW's pay-as-you-toast subscription failure

Andy Taylor

Re: if you tolerate this then your chilled air will be next.

I came here to say this too. Applause.

Re. the old school upgrades, many computers back in the day were made to a particular specification and then crippled to reduce performance after demands from marketing/sales.

Often an "upgrade" to an old mainframe was to *remove* whatever was slowing the machine down.

Watt's the worst thing you can do to a datacenter? Failing to RTFM, electrically

Andy Taylor

I'm sure I have posted this before but when working at an about to open fruit store, we discovered the hard way that not all TVs have universal power supplies. It was for a window display and had been shipped from the US *with* a power converter but was plugged directly in to 230V. The most remarkable thing is that it lasted nearly a whole day before failing. A replacement was sent overnight from another store at great expense.

Grant Shapps named UK defense supremo in latest 'tech-savvy' Tory tale

Andy Taylor

Whoever is the incumbent, the job title is Secretary of State for Defence. That's Defence with a C not Defense. Please correct the headline.

Nobody does DR tests to survive lightning striking twice

Andy Taylor

My father worked for Thames Water in the 80s and early 90s and lightning strikes were responsible for a good proportion of the repair work required on the telemetry systems he managed.

Pumping stations water towers tend to be situated at the top of hills for some reason.

Andy Taylor

Re: At least you fixed the problem.

MK is much maligned but I can think of worse places to be (e.g. Reading).

Missing Titan sub likely destroyed in implosion, no survivors

Andy Taylor

Re: Hardly secret

Not acting on information because the enemy would know codes had been broken is another myth perpetuated by the "Irritation Game" film (and elsewhere).

It is widely held that Coventry was destroyed for the same reason - to avoid alerting the enemy. Again untrue.

That old box of tech junk you should probably throw out saves a warehouse

Andy Taylor

TRFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC (Those Rooms Full Of Old Tech You Should Probably Have Thrown Out But Kept Just In Case) - aka TNMOC (The National Museum Of Computing)

Techie called out to customer ASAP, then: Do nothing

Andy Taylor

The BOFH had a term for this

Appeasement Engineer

"Because he's NEW and ALONE, he's what you call an appeasement engineer, the new guy they send so they respond within the 4 hour guaranteed response period. (Things are getting better and better) Your average appeasement engineer is about as clued-up on computers as the average computer "hacker" is about B.O, and their main job is to make sure the power plug is in and switched on, then call back to the office for "PARTS". The really keen ones will sometimes even take a cover off the equipment and pretend that they see this stuff all the time. I wonder what sort today's is...

Amazon to shutter Digital Photography Review

Andy Taylor

DP Review informed my first DSLR purchase in 2004 (Nikon D70) and all subsequent purchases.

I stopped reading or contributing to the forum when I got bored of the "measurebators" and CAG (Camera Acquisition Guys) but still drop in once or twice a week.

Imagine selling your entire Company A system because Company B announced a slightly better camera then selling the entire Company B system to switch back when Company A makes the inevitable upgrade to beat company B's offering...

There are other sites, but I'll miss DPReview.

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

Andy Taylor

An all too frequent occurence at the Genius Bar

I saw this many times at the Fruit Store. Metallic bracelets would trigger the sleep function on Macbooks for this exact reason.

If you have a fan, and want this company to stay in business, bring it to IT now

Andy Taylor

I am pretty sure I have told this story before. My dad managed the telemetry systems for Thames Water in the 1980s back in the days when they had a 24/7 control room where a duty controller would watch over their domain *and take calls from the public* as well.

At some point the decision was made to install air conditioning and a suitable unit was plumbed in and commissioned. A week or so later my dad went in to see how they were getting on.

"This new airconditioning is rubbish" was the response. On probing further, he established that it was blowing hot when they wanted cold and vice versa.

Further investigation revealed that they didn't understand the controls. They thought the snowflake icon meant "when it's cold" and the sun "when it's hot", not "blow cold air" and "blow hot air".

My dad moved the control to the correct position and all was well again.

Another story from a little later - I used to do a bit of contracting work for Thames Water (thanks dad!) and was asked one day to visit a water treatment works where their shiny new SCADA system wasn't working too well. On arrival I found a PDP-11 sitting in the middle of the main control room which was a massive glass walled room which wouldn't look out of place in a Bond film, but was not air conditioned. The ambient temperature was that of an average greenhouse.

I quickly realised the issue was the poor PDP was overheating, this was fixed by installing some portable cooling, I forget exactly what they did, but it was enough to reduce the machine's temperature to within the operating window.

BOFH: Generating a report the Director can show the Board – THIS is what AI was made for

Andy Taylor

Meet DAN

DAN = ChatGPT - filters. I wonder how much input they got from Simon and Steven?


We've got a photocopier and it can copy anything

Andy Taylor

Re: Bank of England going to trade show

I thought this was a feature of the old £50 note but the BoE website doesn't mention it.

Apple to pay $50m settlement for rotten butterfly keyboards

Andy Taylor

Re: Ive

All the 200x Nvidia powered MacBook Pros were affected and Nvidia paid the bill.

I replaced hundreds of logic boards on up to 6 year old machines when I worked at the fruit store.

One of the Apple-centric YouTube channels featured an early prototype iPhone. It had a plastic screen similar to the iPod Classic - that would have scratched so easily.

In IT, no good deed ever goes unpunished

Andy Taylor

Re: Sort of similar

When I worked for the fruit shop I worked out several “short cuts”. One particular model of the all-in-one desktop machine shipped with defective hard drives and we had to replace a significant number of these.

The official process involved completely removing the LCD panel to access the drive. I worked out it was possible to simply unscrew the display, unplug one cable and then tip the display onto my chest while I swapped the drive. It saved so much time and reduced the chance of damage to the screen as well.

Never mind the Panic button – there's a key to Compose yourself

Andy Taylor

Re: On Mac

Use the option key; for example, option-e writes an acute accent. You then type the character you want to have that accent (usually e), so option-e e writes é.

Simple and intuitive.

Please pay for parking – CMOS batteries don't buy themselves

Andy Taylor

Re: Paid parkng Tesco....

Parking companies have no shame.

I recently helped a lady who had overstayed at a car park when heavily pregnant and unable to move around quickly. She had to endure discussing her personal medical history during a court hearing before the case was dismissed. This was despite telling the parking company from the outset that she had a medical need for more time.

I won't name the company but they are one of the largest and most litigious.

Recent statistics show that around 89% of County Court claims are not defended. Based on the number of hearings in 2020, that's around 90,000 claims or around £18 million in default court judgments for an outlay of around 300k in court fees. Not a bad return.

Andy Taylor

Re: Paid parkng Tesco....

Don't pay the parking scammers, especially those who believe compliance with the Equality Act is providing some blue badge bays.

There is probably a reason why cameras and signs disappeared abruptly in the article - no planning permission.

Several greedy parking companies have altered the "free stay" limit only for it to be discovered that free parking was a condition of planning department.

pepipoo is great, also MoneySavingExpert forum and several Facebook groups (but beware the ones that provide poor advice).

In short, if you get a private parking charge:

Complain to landowner. Escalate to CEO if needed

Ignore the "discount".

Appeal as Keeper/Hirer of the vehicle

Do not reveal who the driver was.

Expect any appeal to be rejected by the parking company

Use POPLA secondary appeal service if offered, but don't just repeat the original appeal.

Do not use the "IAS" appeal service, it finds against the motorist about 85% of the time

Ignore debt collectors - they are unregulated and cannot buy up the "debt" because it's not really a debt.

Respond to Letter Before Claim if received, demanding all information including authority to issue charges and pursue them through the courts

Defend court claim if issued.

Wait for parking company to discontinue or have your day in court where there is usually a good chance of winning.

Parking companies rely on people not knowing the law to extract payment. Sadly it works.

Who you gonna call? Premium numbers, but a not-so-premium service

Andy Taylor

Re: Wrong number

The correct format is, of course, 020 xxxx xxxx

Down on the south coast, the traditional rivalry between Portsmouth and Southampton means that although they share an area code (Solent, 023), all Portsmouth numbers begin 023 9 and all Southampton ones 023 8.

A certain Southampton based telephony provider named after a Greek letter still lists the two locations separately in their number allocation tool.

Sharing is caring, except when it's your internet connection

Andy Taylor

Accidentally connecting to a neighbour's wireless

This happened to me some years ago. I must have been connected for a few hours before realising that I was on the wrong network.

I did the decent thing and went round and helped my neighbour set up a password on their shiny new wireless router.

Fatal Attraction: Lovely collection, really, but it does not belong anywhere near magnetic storage media

Andy Taylor

Sleep switch too

MacBooks have a sleep switch which is triggered by a small magnet in the lid. Turns out if you’re wearing a bracelet with a magnetic clasp it can make the machine sleep seemingly at random.

Don't touch that dial – the new guy just closed the application that no one is meant to close

Andy Taylor

Re: Back in t'day...

It's a well known fact that the original iPhone demo had to follow a carefully arranged sequence otherwise the phone would crash. They also hard coded the signal strength bars to show good signal.

This also reminds me of the time I was the person in charge of the dumb waiter for the play "The Dumb Waiter". During one performance the actors managed to skip 3 pages of dialogue, go through another couple, skip back to the pages they'd missed, did those and then skipped forward past the pages already done. Meanwhile I'm going frantic behind the set trying to work out if I'd missed a cue. Luckily I hadn't.

So the data centre's 'getting a little hot' – at 57°C, that's quite the understatement

Andy Taylor

Re: I once had to do something similar in a Skoda...

My dad's 1978 Skoda Estelle (in which I learned to drive) had a similar issue. Dad fitted an additional fan to the radiator with a manual control in order to improve the airflow and stop the engine overheating catastrophically.

Somebody is destined for somewhere hot, and definitely not Coventry

Andy Taylor

Re: Works the other way as well

Sounds like my local paper, every few months they run a story on the area's dogging problem and proceed to list all the locations and times where such activities occur.

El Reg visits two shrines to computing history as the UK lifts coronavirus lockdown

Andy Taylor

Re: Are those KV1430s?

Yes, one of them was mine, I donated it in 2014 when I started volunteering. Purchased 1987 to use with my Atari ST.

See what's on the slab: Apple reportedly mulls stretching the iPad Pro to 14 and 16 inches

Andy Taylor

Re: Schematics? What are the repair shops going to do with them?

Component level repairs are available from many independent companies. I know of several who offer a flat fee service at reasonable prices.

Why pay £600+ for a logic board when you can have the faulty part(s) replaced for a quarter of that?

The future is now, old man: Let the young guns show how to properly cock things up

Andy Taylor

Re: An age ago. Or two.

When I worked on VOIP systems, I often had to deal with support queries like "why is my exchange getting hammered by SIP registration requests?" The reason was always because the relevant ports hadn't been closed properly and the box was under attack from persons unknown trying to get free calls.

Oops, says Manchester City Council after thousands of number plates exposed in parking ticket spreadsheet

Andy Taylor

There's no need to set up as a private parking firm, you only need to do that, and sign up to a recognised trade body to be eligible for access to the electronic "Keeper On Date Of Event" (KADOE) system.

Unfortunately the current situation is that any company with the right membership of a trade body is trusted to always have a good reason or "reasonable cause" to get that data. Many of these companies have a poor reputation and are part of what was described as an "outrageous scam" by MPs. Thankfully there is upcoming statutory provision on the way to curb some of their bad behaviour.

Outside of the murky world of parking companies, anyone with "reasonable cause" can request keeper details from the DVLA via a form V888 and the payment of the requisite fee (currently £2.50 or £5 depending on the reason for the request).

I help people who have received unfair parking charge notices from unscrupulous parking companies and have had some success in making DPA breach claims against them when they have obtained and processed keeper details without "reasonable cause". £250 per breach is the going rate, more if the data is passed to a third party.

BOFH: Bullying? Not on my watch! (It's a Rolex)

Andy Taylor

When did they become employees?

I thought that the BOFH and PFY had a long-standing arrangement which meant they were technically contractors and not subject to any HR policy.

Or did IR35 change things?

Looking for the perfect Valentine's gift? How about a week of retro gaming BBC Microlympics?

Andy Taylor

Re: Shop

The correct shop URL is https://www.tnmoc.org/tnmocshop

Remember when the keyboard was the computer? You can now relive those heady days with the Raspberry Pi 400

Andy Taylor

Re: Lame excuse for no full fat HDMI

The compute module I/O board comes with dual full size HDMI ports, so I don't believe Mr Upton's quote about how it wasn't possible on the Pi400

IT Marie Kondo asks: Does this noisy PC spark joy? Alas, no. So under the desk it goes

Andy Taylor

Re: cold feet warm computer.

My dad's workplace had an air conditioning unit fitted to the 24 hour control room which contained many displays with information about all the water treatment facilities in the area plus someone to watch over them, call out engineers to fix issues and answer the phone to the public. These were the days when calling the water company out of hours got you through to someone who could actually tell you what was broken.

The control room staff all complained that the shiny new air conditioning unit must be broken. Turned out that they thought the symbols (frost and sun) were meant to match the prevailing weather conditions and not the temperature of the air being emitted, as a result they had the system set to "hot" on a summer day.

Luckily it was a simple fix to turn the control to the opposite setting.

Big IQ play from IT outsourcer: Can't create batch files if you can't save files. Of any kind

Andy Taylor

This is what Deep Freeze is for

As used in certain fruit based electronics stores - should anyone do something they shouldn't, simply power off and on again and machine is back to the way it was when "frozen".

We don't need maintenance this often, surely? Pull it. Oh dear, the system's down

Andy Taylor

Re: Also works for hardware

Yes, initially multiple drives in a tower, usually 7 because SCSI. Later systems copied the disc contents onto hard drive for faster retrieval times.

Andy Taylor

Also works for hardware

Back in the dim and distant past when I was supporting CD-ROM networking, we found 13 month hardware timers for sale. For a brief moment we were tempted to fit them into our hardware to ensure future revenue, but quickly realised how suspicious it would look if all our hardware failed after almost exactly 13 months.

I believe these timers were designed for use in industrial equipment to automatically power off if no one had been inside to reset them.

Bletchley Park Trust can’t crack COVID-caused revenue slump without losing staff

Andy Taylor

Re: I'm sure they are trying

Bletchley Park was not set up by a Social

Media campaign, it has existed since the early 1990s.

Cisco restores evidence of its funniest FAIL – ethernet cable presses switch's reset button

Andy Taylor

Who buys those cables?

Anyone who wants to keep the locking tab on the end of the cable.

NASA mulls restoring Saturn V to service as SLS delays and costs mount

Andy Taylor

Very good, had me for going for all of 20 seconds.

Not exactly the kind of housekeeping you want when it means the hotel's server uptime is scrubbed clean

Andy Taylor

Why did they let the cleaner unplug stuff?

I'm a little confused, if you're there in the room it must be possible to stop the unplugging?!

So you locked your backups away for years, huh? Allow me to introduce my colleagues, Brute, Force and Ignorance

Andy Taylor

Re: Seen in the wild

I vividly remember having to climb under our old VW camper to whack the starter motor with a hammer when it got stuck.

The Curse of macOS Catalina strikes again as AccountEdge stays 32-bit

Andy Taylor

Two words - Virtual Machine

If you really must run 32 bit software on your 64 bit OS Mac, why not just use a VM? I believe Parallels even has an "application" mode, so you just keep the icon in the dock - it spins up the VM and launches the app when you click on it.

HP scores $176m win in CD-ROM drive price-fix case – after one biz emailed rival with 'Price Fixing' as the subject

Andy Taylor

Re: Museum exhibit

Photograph may not be allowed in court, but computers/DVD players etc. may be used to display evidence.

Tesco parking app hauled offline after exposing 10s of millions of Automatic Number Plate Recognition images

Andy Taylor

Re: Bastards

I'm now suggesting victims of this "double dip" issue operators a Letter Before Claim for misuse of personal data under the DPA 2018. £250 is the minimum amount to ask for.

So far it's resulted in immediate cancellations from every firm I've tried this with.

Andy Taylor

Re: Bastards

Not.A.Fine. It's an invoice.

Andy Taylor

Parking Companies = Cowboys

Well, according to MPs anyway. They described the parking industry as an "outrageous scam perpetrated on the motorist".

What to do if you get a charge notice (NB IT"S NOT A FINE):

Do not ignore it. The law changed in 2012 and keepers can be held liable.

Speak to the landowner/store manager first. Escalate to CEO if appropriate.

Wait for a Notice to Keeper through the post (unless car is hired or leased and you receive a charge notice on the windscreen)

Send a generic "appeal" to the parking company without identifying the driver. They can only chase the keeper in certain circumstances and often fail to comply with the law that allows them to transfer liability from keeper to driver. This applies even if keeper = driver because unless the keeper tells the operator who the driver was, they don't know and cannot assume.

The keeper is under no obligation to tell anyone who the driver was.

Use the POPLA appeal service if available to you (used by British Parking Association)

Do not use the "Independent Appeals Service" offered by members of the International Parking Community trade body as it's not Independent.

Ignore powerless debt collectors

Defend in court if necessary - not all companies do court, and those that do often lose a properly defended claim.

Eagerly await the new statutory parking code of practice that is on the way.

There's lots of help and assistance to be found online, but beware the idiots who tell you to ignore/bin.

Enjoy the holiday weekend, America? Well-rested? Good. Supermicro server boards can be remotely hijacked

Andy Taylor

One other thing to be aware of is that by default, if the IPMI network interface is not physically connected at startup, the BMC will share the connected interface.

This can be disabled using the ipmicfg tool.