* Posts by Andy Taylor

325 posts • joined 9 Jul 2007


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.

Divert the power to the shields. 'I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain!'

Andy Taylor

Re: The Event

"The Event" or as it used to be called: Brexit.

50 years ago today Apollo 11 slipped the surly bonds of Earth to put peeps on the Moon

Andy Taylor

It wasn't manual control, just manual adjustment of the descent speed.

Microsoft giveth and Microsoft taketh away: Partner boss explains yanking of free licences

Andy Taylor

In this case the site wasn't for the public, only affiliated organisations. It was the fact that they were neither "internal" or "Internet" that meant the licence was "required". Personally I would have told them where to go on that.

Add that to the fact that a Wiki server running on LAMP would have been a perfect alternative to the proprietary CMS, the whole thing cost a lot more than it could have.

Andy Taylor

The real problem is their entire licencing model:

Want to serve DHCP from a MS server? Every client needs an MS licence even if it's not running Windows.

Microsoft once charged an organisation I worked for a £12,000 licence fee because the clients connecting to IIS were neither company employees or members of the public. £12k for literally nothing.

Having bank problems? I feel bad for you son: I've got 25 million problems, but a bulk upload ain't one

Andy Taylor

Re: 10 minutes, not a second more...

I'd also check out Big Clive's experiment. It's genuinely scary but you know he was OK because who else would have uploaded the video?

Obligatory: Do Not Try This At Home.


When customers see red, sometimes the obvious solution will only fan the flames

Andy Taylor

Re: Clients with a little bit of knowledge

Was the time wrong on your machine?

Andy Taylor

Re: Once again the bad memories resurface

Back when I was supporting software that searched bibliographic databases on CD (e.g. Medline), we often had tickets about specific searches. Researchers would write complicated queries to run against each database update and then complain when they didn't provide the expected results. Our standard response was to ask for the exact query and database edition so we could attempt to recreate the issue to see if it was a problem with the database or the query itself.

One customer refused to provide his search query because it was "secret", so we refused to help him wifh his issue.

Idle Computer Science skills are the Devil's playthings

Andy Taylor


Myself and a fellow student once filled a system by writing scripts that fired emails back and forth to one another. Swapping the serial connectors conveniently placed in the corner of the terminal room was another favourite pastime.

Never let something so flimsy as a locked door to the computer room stand in the way of an auditor on the warpath

Andy Taylor

I once accidentally left a personally owned video card in my work PC when I left the job. This would have been 1995.

The following Monday, I did my first day with the new company, then drove home via the old one. Walked straight past security, opened the IT room door with the PIN (unchanged), extracted my card and walked out again.

Andy Taylor

Re: Wouldn't Happen Here

Sticky backed plastic was actually Fablon, a trade name so not allowed on the BBC back then.

Blue Peter presenters always used double sided sticky tape for speed which is why you should never buy drugs from them.

If servers go down but no one hears them, did they really fail? Think about it over lunch

Andy Taylor

The solution is elementary my dear: Watts on.

Techie with outdated documentation gets his step count in searching for non-existent cabinet

Andy Taylor

Remember Scotty's advice

In "Relics" (Next Generation, Season 6, Episode 4) Captain Montgomery Scott passes on some words of wisdom:

SCOTT: Do you mind a little advice? Starfleet captains are like children. They want everything right now and they want it their way, but the secret is to give them only what they need, not what they want.

LAFORGE: Yeah, well I told the Captain I'd have this analysis done in an hour.

SCOTT: How long will it really take?

LAFORGE: An hour.

SCOTT: You didn't tell him how long it would really take, did you?

LAFORGE: Of course I did.

SCOTT: Oh, laddie, you've got a lot to learn if you want people to think of you as a miracle worker. Now listen

LAFORGE: Captain Scott. I've tried to be patient, I've tried to be polite. But I've got a job to do here, and quite frankly, you're in the way.

SCOTT: I was driving starships while your great-grandfather was still in diapers. I'd think you'd be a little grateful for a some help. I'll leave ye to work, Mister La Forge.

Cheapskate Brits appear to love their Poundland MVNOs as UK's big four snubbed in survey again

Andy Taylor

Which is the least worst provider?

I recently left O2 after almost 10 years, in that time I always referred to them as the "least worst" provider.

Having switched to the Three budget brand SMARTY, I'm almost missing O2, but my monthly bill is more than halved (from a SIM only 12 month deal) and that's before the rebate for unused data.

The SMARTY model is simple - pay £5 per month for line/calls/texts and then £1.25 per GB for data. For non-inclusive numbers, you have to add call credit before calling, so it's impossible for me to call numbers that will incur a charge unless I choose to pay in advance. The only downside seems to be coverage isn't quite as good as O2.

Why was O2 the "least worst"? One reason is that Vodafone and EE both fail to offer a 14 day return policy on contracts (unless purchasing in the Apple Store), they will even refuse to replace a faulty handset that is DOA, instead referring you to the Genius Bar or return for "repair".

It was all Yellow: Mass email about a Coldplay CD breaks the internet

Andy Taylor

But everything sounds like Coldplay now.. (well in 2005!)


Are you sure you've got a floppy disk stuck in the drive? Or is it 100 lodged in the chassis?

Andy Taylor

Re: Ex apple genius.....

I found that holding the iMac with the DVD slot facing down and shaking it would get the SD card out 9 times out of 10, which requires nerves of steel but no disassembly.

UK code breakers drop Bombe, Enigma and Typex simulators onto the web for all to try

Andy Taylor

For the Lorenz Cipher, try Virtual Colossus

Independently developed, this site has emulators for all the Lorenz machines, Colossus, Dragon and as a "random" bonus, the original ERNIE


All good, leave it with you...? Chap is roped into tech support role for clueless customer

Andy Taylor

Re: "This will only take a second..."

I've said this before - when I worked for the Fruit store, I told my mother I was contractually forbidden from working on PCs. Got her to buy a Mac with AppleCare and pointed out that she'd paid for support already, so it was better to call them than me :)

Techie in need of a doorstop picks up 'chunk of metal' – only to find out it's rather pricey

Andy Taylor

I had a similar doorstop in the early 90s, not gold but one of the first CD-ROM burners to be released. It was the size of a modern standard desktop PC and wrote at single speed. It became obsolete almost instantly but my boss wouldn't let me throw it out because "it cost 3 grand". So it was relegated to holding the workshop door open.

Andy Taylor

Re: Watch out for geological samples

My dad, who worked at AWE Aldermaston, used to tell the story of the chap who took his dosimeter home to Aberdeen one weekend by mistake.

From Red Planet to deep into the red: Suicidal extrovert magnet Mars One finally implodes

Andy Taylor

What does the B stand for?

I like to think that the B stands for Brexit.

Stage fright or Stage light? Depends how far you dare to open your MacBook Pro's lid

Andy Taylor

"One iMac we needed a hard drive upgrade in. Apple wouldn't do it - they had no option or facility to do so. The only third-party who could do it told us why - he has to smash the screen to pieces, remove all traces of the glass, replace the drive while the computer is open, then re-fit a new screen with special glue and pressure-equipment."

Which model was that? I'm trained to repair Macs and I don't recall any model that required the screen to be damaged to replace the hard drive. The current iMacs require cutting of the special tape that holds the display to the rear housing and the tape needs to be replaced to stick the screen back on again, but there's no need to break anything.

College PRIMOS prankster wreaks havoc with sysadmin manuals

Andy Taylor

Brings back some fond memories of exploiting issues for fun and then reporting them before getting into trouble.

Discovering the lpr flag that (incorrectly) didn't check file permissions so you could print anything that you knew the path to without read access.

Discovering that the brand new Sun workstations and existing unix systems had overlapping userID numbers.


Escalating email auto-reply wars that filled the system storage.

Swapping around the serial cable connectors that were all jumbled up in the corner of the room and making people's sessions jump to a different terminal.

Apple in another dust-up with its fans: iMacs, MacBooks lack filters, choke on grime – lawsuit

Andy Taylor

Re: BullMerde

Bonded != hermetically sealed. Dust apparently still gets in, you just can't remove the glass to clean it.

Andy Taylor

Re: BullMerde

Same for me, an ex Genius. The interior cleanliness of the machines I repaired entirely depended on the environment they had been used in. The range was wide and we could and did refuse service on more than one machine including one that had some insects living inside it.

As for removing the glass to clean it - 2012+ iMacs have the glass bonded to the LCD to allow the machines to be thinner, so the whole assembly needs to be replaced.

NASA has Mars InSight as latest lander due to arrive today

Andy Taylor

Re: Dusty

It's Kryten, a series 4,000 mechanoid who killed his first crew by washing their computer. And the backup computer.

Russian computer failure on ISS is nothing to worry about – they're just going to turn it off and on again

Andy Taylor

Re: "It's running NikitaOS 2.5"

I hope NikitaOS has a voice interface so you can ask it what the temperature is.

Hey Nikita - is it cold?

National Museum of Computing to hold live Enigma code-breaking demo with a Bombe

Andy Taylor

Re: Editorial @ElReg

I can assure you that the Bombe rebuild is currently housed in Block H. There's even evidence here:


Your Twitter app stopped working? Here's why

Andy Taylor

TweetBot or nothing

If I cannot continue using TweetBot, I will simply stop using Twitter. This will probably not be a bad thing.

The official Twitter app does not meet my needs.

Sysadmin cracked military PC’s security by reading the manual

Andy Taylor

Re: Redacted pdfs

This is how we know how much McLaren got fined (and lots of other interesting information) in 2007, the FIA didn't properly redact the documents.

Trainee techie ran away and hid after screwing up a job, literally

Andy Taylor

This is the equivalent to

"I have everything I need in my car." for field engineers.

Incidentally, if anyone has the original BOFH questionnaire for which many of the answers were the above, please let me know.

Cryptography is the Bombe: Britain's Enigma-cracker on display in new home

Andy Taylor

Couple of things

Firstly the Bombe isn't really a computer, it's an electro mechanical Enigma emulator.

Secondly, Block H was built for Colossus machines 5-10, not Bombes.

Bombes were housed in various huts (mainly Hut 11) and later at other locations near to Bletchley.

User spent 20 minutes trying to move mouse cursor, without success

Andy Taylor

The old Apple (Mighty) Mouse scroll wheel was easily clogged with dirt. The "fix" was to hold upside down and rub said wheel on a sheet of paper. Sometimes isopropyl alcohol was required to shift particularly troublesome dirt.

Tech rookie put decimal point in wrong place, cost insurer zillions

Andy Taylor

Re: Old school

Back in the distant past when I worked for a year at Thames Water, we would regularly get duplicated orders from RS. The issue was that the accounts department would insist on sending an order in even if it had been made by telephone and despite us writing "telephoned order" all over the form that went to accounts, they'd invariably process it as a standard order. This was the same accounts department that wouldn't let us buy computers because the computer budget had been used up.

We instead purchased a number of "electronic logging machines".

England's top judge lashes out at 'Science Museum' grade court IT

Andy Taylor

I knew which sketch without even clicking :D

Dixons to shutter 92 UK Carphone Warehouse shops after profit warning

Andy Taylor

Re: Another Maplins in the making.

They're still called the Carphone Warehouse - dedicated car phones became obsolete in the 90s.

Tech support made the news after bomb squad and police showed up to 'defuse' leaky UPS

Andy Taylor

I've just remembered the rest of this story - having read the letter and realised that the package did *not* contain a bomb, the police helped fit the batteries into the torch before they left. :)

Andy Taylor

Back in the early 80s, we went on a family holiday to the Channel Islands.

One day, on a beach on Herm island, we met another family with a little girl called Emily.

Important plot point: Emily had cerebral palsy. Now, being the early 80s and my parents being the type of people who would make friends with random strangers, we stayed in touch.

Back home, my father was thinking about Emily and (I think) her problems operating switches and came up with an idea - he would design a torch that could be switched on without having to operate the switch.

The solution was simple - take 1 classic Ever Ready torch, glue a base to the bottom that would allow it to stand upright and fit a mercury switch - the result being a torch that could sit on a bedside table in the off position and be turned on simply by turning it to point downwards. Perfect for reading in bed and perfect for Emily to operate

Having perfected his design, my father packed the torch up to send to Emily's family. To prevent the torch from coming on whilst in the post, he removed the 2 C size batteries from the torch and taped them to the outside.

He then posted the torch with an explanatory letter, but crucially didn't give them any advance warning.

Emily's mother wasn't expecting a parcel. Emily's mother wasn't expecting to see batteries taped to an unknown object, so Emily's mother called the police.

Police turned up, one of them noticed the letter sticking out of the parcel, so bravely pulled it out as carefully as he could. Luckily for Emily, the package wasn't blown to pieces and she reportedly loved the torch.

Admin needed server fast, skipped factory config … then bricked it

Andy Taylor

I see Watt you did there...

Take-off crash 'n' burn didn't kill the Concorde, it was just too bloody expensive to maintain

Andy Taylor

I grew up in the west of Reading, directly under the flight path and my lessons were regularly interrupted by the sound of Concorde passing over my school in Theale.

As a computing student at Bristol Polytechnic (now UWE), I was extremely fortunate to get the chance to pilot the simulator at Filton. So technically I have "flown" Concorde (although I needed some "help" with the landing*). The simulator sans hydraulics is now at Brooklands where you can pay £199+ to have a go yourself.

*crashes, even in simulators are generally discouraged (but remember that a good landing is one you can walk away from, a great landing is one where the plane can be used again).



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