* Posts by Steve Kerr

157 posts • joined 26 Jul 2013


Exsparko-destructus! What happens when wand waving meets extremely poor wiring

Steve Kerr

Hands up

My first job in IT as a 19 year old learning the ropes.

Helped the IT manager with some cabling twinax cabling work for AS/400 that ran down 4 floors in a conduit shaft, problem was, we didn't have access to 2 of the floors as they were owned by other companies, somewhere they were cable tied very firmly so couldn't move them,.

had the bright idea of cutting the cables at both ends to which we had no access so they could be moved.

Then, by stripping back the plastic, twisted the cables, soldered them together and covered them in insulating tape and left it at that.

Wasn't any complaints on the Monday morning from the AS/400 people so job well done and dodgy cable soldering hidden.

I was the 19 year bright spark who said to cut the cables and resolder, just fortunate there was enough slack at either end to do it.

Northern Train's ticketing system out to lunch as ransomware attack shuts down servers

Steve Kerr

Makes a change

Normally it's their passengers, sorry "customers" that are normally held to ransom

Windows 11: Meet the new OS, same as the old OS (or close enough)

Steve Kerr

Re: Was going to be Windows 10 forever?

From memory (might be a little wavy due to a slight concussion from falling off a horse on Saturday during a showjumping lesson where my horse went thru rather than over the jump but she is young and still learning)....

Windows 9 was skipped because there is stuff still embedded in windows from the 9x days which means having internals flagged as 9 would/could cause much entertainment with random weirdness happening due to version name conflicts.

Roger Waters tells Facebook CEO to Zuck off after 'huge' song rights request

Steve Kerr

Careful with that axe Eugene

On second thoughts, hack away.

Brit IT firms wound up by court order after fooling folk into paying for 'support' over fake computer errors

Steve Kerr

Re: Just this afternoon

I have been answering calls for entertainment value, so far


BT Internet

BT openreach

Amazon (iphone/ipad has been purchased)

VISA (we've stopped a payment)

I've been very helpful, and it I manage to have them on the phone for more than 5-10 minutes and get bored, I go from civil to turning the dial to 11 on extreme swearing and abuse

On the see-saw of happiness, mine goes up, theirs go down.

I do know they are real people on the other end, but they are despicable scum preying on the unwary, unknowing and trusting and deserve what they get.

Oddly, the number of calls I've got seem to have radically reduced since I started on this experiment

Thanks, boss. The accidental creation of a lights-out data centre – what a fun surprise

Steve Kerr

Sound of silence

At the beginning of each shift, there was a meeting to discuss what had happened and anything special for that shift, at the end of the meeting, everyone traipsed to the bridge in the computer room.

Access was via a card held near the wall at a certain point and an electromagnet held the door in place.

The door magnet was a bit weak so with a bit of a shove it was possible to open the door without the door being unlocked (there were manned desks in the next compartment so anybody coming in was seen).

Did I mention the emergency shutdown button on the wall behind covered with its nice plastic cover and the door stop that was next to it.

Well, as "someone" (not me) shoved the door, the door release was activated at that exact point by the card in their pocket, door acclerates into the door stop which promptly gets pushed into the wall behind it as it was only a weak partition wall, shattered the plastic cover and hit the emergency button.


Off went the IBM mainframes, the ICL's, the VAX's, the AS/400, the HP's, the stratus non-stop (they stopped!), the System/38's and whatever other collection of stuff was in the room - all in the process of their overnight batch runs.

The only saving grace was it was going into a night shift - the evening shift were a little unhappy about having to stay for a couple of hours longer as everyone rushed to get it all up and running and restart batch runs at their checkpoints and other stuff.

The emergency shutdown was moved off of the wall behind the door and the door magnets fixed.

Fun times!

Home Office slams PNC tech team: 'Inadequate testing' of new code contributed to loss of 413,000 records

Steve Kerr

The computer says no

I'm sure the police said a few years ago that it was too hard to remove records of people from the PNC when legally they should have been removed after a certain date.

Seems that it's actually easier done than said going by what happened here

Big red buttons and very bad language: A primer for life in the IT world

Steve Kerr

First company I worked for

Had a dec vax 8600 with Xerox and apple fax modems wired up to it.

Also had PDP 11/34 and a PDP 11/84 with I think TU10 tape drives with custom software and boot loaders on tape (not using the RSX installed on the disk packs), those had custom hardware with fibreoptics to draw graphs onto roll fed Kodak film (had a dark room as well to process the film).

On a microvax, they had an Ibis disk drive which had 4 sets of read/write heads, the thing used to rock back and forth when in use. if the lid was up for maintenace, it had something like a 6 inch wide band connecting the motor to the fixed disk - not something you'd want to get a tie caught in when it was running unless you were into instant beheading.

On and off for years, been trying to find a picture of the Ibis without luck.

Are you ready to take a stand? Flexispot E7 motorised desk should handle whatever you dump on it – but it's not cheap

Steve Kerr

Ikea standing desks

The Ikea one I have looks to be more sturdy than the one here and seems to be more stylish than this one reviewed

The instructions for it are good and put together without any issues, though it is damn heavy and says to get it upright you should use 2 people, I done it by myself though probably shouldn't have.

Price range for the top of the range electric one is in the same price bracket as this and also has a 10 year warranty.

Preliminary report on Texas Tesla crash finds Autosteer was 'not available' along road where both passengers died

Steve Kerr

Re: As a motorcyclist....

Based on the way a number of people drive on the road, I would say when push comes to shove, the self drive vehicles will be safer to be around if you're on a motorbike.

Being that I've been in several motorcycle accidents where I was on the motorbike.

* Hit from behind whilst stationary at traffic lights and ending up sprawled in the middle of the junction (Didn't see you)

* Pulled out on from a side road - wrote off the motorbike (didn't see you), driver reckoned I was doing 70mph in a 30mph where there was a red light 20 metres away just behind the side road he pulled out of

* U-Turn on main road with traffic (didn't see you)

Also, lane changes on motorways with no indication and various other near misses including doing a superman impression at 70mph due to a trail of oil/diesel on a wet motorway.

Love riding motorbikes, don't ride them anymore as the roads are too dangerous now

China sprayed space with 3,000 pieces of junk. US military officials want rules to stop that sort of thing

Steve Kerr

Re: China does not care what the USA says

Or the debris they caused take out their own satellites

George Clooney of IT: Dribbling disaster and damp disk warnings scare the life out of innocent user

Steve Kerr

The porn mail from the 90s

I remember working for a bank the porn mail that went round

The one where someone clicked something and it basically unmuted sound, set the volume to max and screaming "THERE'S SOMEBODY WATCHING PORN OVER HERE!!!" whilst flashing the screen red & orange or something.

The look of horror on peoples faces staring at the screen,

Much hilarity hearing that richoting at round a floor of 600 IT people in a bank at various distances!

I wasn't responsbible for that one fortunately!

Microsoft realises constant meetings stress people out, adds Office 365 settings to cut them short or start them late

Steve Kerr

Re: The problem is...


I book every lunchtime as a meeting and the end of my working day + 1 hour as meeting too.

This stops those sociopaths who book meetings from 12:30-13:30 - seriously? You book things in a way that makes people either have an early lunch or a late lunch - we have several that do this, have mentioned this to them that they shouldn't do it, I'll decline such meetings.

When in the office in the past, always went out at lunchtimes, even if it meant costing more money in lunch, number of times sitting at my desk where I either had a fork or sandwich half way to my mouth and someone utters the immortal words - "Are you at lunch?

Have had a number of back to back meetings - it would be nice to actually have time to do my job!

You want a reboot? I'll give you a reboot! Happy now?

Steve Kerr

Investment bank production settlements power off

Not me fortunately and many years ago, late 90's

Tech workinng on some HP-UX UAT system, for whatever reason, he wanted to reboot or power-off/on some multi-cabinet HP-UX server.

He had major visual impairment, he had these huge monitors with very large font sizes and he read from a distance of about 4 inches.

He decided to go up a floor to the computer room and past the ops to the HP-UX server and flipped the power button, except..... he powered off the production settlements server during the business day.

Don't quite remember how long it was down for before it was got up running again and a lot of shouting happened.

Access rights for tech people were rescinded soon after, tickets had to be raised with th Ops people to gain access and then they let you in,

Saying that, it was a big room, easy to get lost in and every corner looked the same, always fun finding BT people and others who were lost in there and pleading for help on finding the exit, internal people too - there were 1000 full height racks in there.

Quality control, Soviet style: Here's another fine message you've gotten me into

Steve Kerr

Re: Russians, alcohol, making toasts

Years ago doing a project for an austrian bank, had to go to the Ukraine (amongst many other ex-eastern block countries) for a meeting.

Went to dinner in the evening with the local heads of bank and vodka was brought out at the start that was so cold it was like syrup, had to have a bunch of shots and I had a stinking cold, knew it was rude to decline. They pointed out some men at the other end of the restaurant who used to be the top dogs in the KGB and what they used to do. An interesting view into local stuff.

Yep, you're totally unique: That one very special user and their very special problem

Steve Kerr

Re: Where’s The Effing Ignition Lock!?

I had a Saab 900

You had to have the car in reverse to remove the key.

Personally thought it was a great safety feature that you have to have the handbrake on and leave the gar in gear which stops incidents like the car rolling away when you walk away from it because you forgot to leave those in place.

Ever since then, have always left my car in gear.

We've seen things you people wouldn't believe. A halo of light polarized by a gigantic black hole's magnetic field...

Steve Kerr

Re: Dunning Kruger

From memory of physics in school 40 years ago, didn't search for this on purpose....

Where you have a photon generator firing a single photon at a time and 2 slits where the photon can go through you will get an interference pattern


If you try to identfy the exact slit it goes through, the interference pattern will disappear as the very act of viewing which slit the photon goes through affects the outcome.

Something to do with it both being a wave and a particle from memory.

I do also recall reading that with quantum entanglement, it is possible to identify which slit the photon went through and keep the interference pattern.

Kudos though for the science and everything that went through to finding this stuff, I absolutely love reading about these things.

Big problem: Nominet members won't know how many votes they're casting in decision to oust CEO, chair

Steve Kerr

Tin pot dictators

I've not seen this much ballot stuffing and vote rigging since I last looked at the voting outcome in some tin pot dictatorships

Desperate Nominet chairman claims member vote to fire him would spark British government intervention

Steve Kerr

More the problem is government changes but the civil servants underneath it all stay the same.

So doesn't matter which lot are in power, the ones causing the ineptitude stay and get promoted into great er levels of incompetence

Microsoft settles £200,000+ claims against tech support scammers who ran global ripoff from cottage in Surrey

Steve Kerr

Damn annoying

I'm always working or in meetings/conference calls when these come through.

I've not managed to get a slot where I can make someones life in another country just that litle bit worse.

had a flurry of them today but being on a 4 hour customer call, couldn't answer any.

Always tomorrow.

What's that, Lassie? Dogs show signs of self-awareness according to peer-reviewed academic study?

Steve Kerr

To be fair, plants are smarter than some people

Housekeeping and kernel upgrades do not always make for happy bedfellows

Steve Kerr

Re: Versioning - still not an option

Oddly, a friend of mine had written one as a never delete filesystem so it's possible to get stuff back.

He brought it over for destruction testing, I destroyed it to which he went "oh"

Fun times.

Just 2020 things: Miscreants hit remote desktops 700% harder as world's IT teams try to support locked-down staff

Steve Kerr

RDP over the internet

Personally, don't see why any IT staff worth their salt would think RDP direct over the internet would be a good thing.

I would assume that a number of these would be management who would say "just get it done but there's no budget for it"

It would be scary to think there are people out there who profess It knowledge that think it would be a good idea.

I can understand if it's very small companies who don't know the repurcussions of allowing something like this.

Musk see: Watch SpaceX's latest Starship rocket explode while trying to touch down

Steve Kerr

I wonder...

Did it ask the ground whether it would be friends?

Kudos for actually running and testing prototypes to failure, can learn much from failure as from success, all learning experiences with lots of data during failure.

How do you save an ailing sales pitch? Just burn down the client's office with their own whiteboard

Steve Kerr

Dodgy house wiring

Previous owners of my house (back in the 90's) wired up some kind of internal telephone system with those old style telephone sockets from the 70s with some kind of patching screwed to wooden sill under a window in the living room.

Couple of years back, started removing this cabling, traced it all back to where it went, including outside the house and round a wall and back in again. Looking at the main junction box couldn't find anything bar normal ring mains.

So merrily cutting cable with a pair of wire cutters, was fine. Pulled the cable through the ceiling (where it led into the attic), there was a flash, a bang and a black scorch mark where the cable came through and all the electric went off. Carried on removing all the cabling I could find in every room and in the attic and outside the house.

To this day, I cannot find at any point where it was actually connected to the mains or looked like it passed into a socket where it was connected to the mains and I pulled everything out.

The Fat iPhone, 11 years on: The iPad's over a decade old and we're still not sure what it's for

Steve Kerr

ipad uses

I saw the first ipad in an apple store and thought that it was nice and what was the point

When the ipad 2 came out, I found that it could have a use, used it to store PDF documention in the books app, was handy in customer sites and in computer rooms to read documentation when at the console of a server and needed to look stuff up in the limited space in aisles of racks rather than trying to balance a laptop.

Got an ipad pro when they came out, the use case was for watching saved TV uploaded to it on the train in a nice form factor that meant not looking at a tiny screen, pretty much watching everyone else watching catch up TV on a small phone screen.

As a device to consume video whilst on a train they're great without squinting at a small screen!

Only downside was watching some things on a large 12.9 screen, "American Gods" being one and an animated series on netflix which I didn't know at the time was a bit er....rude and made it look like I was watching porn in rush hour, that was rapidly closed.

Facebook finally finds something it thinks is truly objectionable and needs to be taken offline: Apple

Steve Kerr

Re: Dear Zuck. Fuck off.

In this world of shortened URL's etc, I think this could be shortened to just

Zuck Off

That encompasses everything about him and them.

Screw you, gadget-menders! No really, you'll need loads of screwdrivers to fix Apple's AirPods Max headphones

Steve Kerr

Repairs to headphones

I've got a pair of Sennheiser HD25 headphones for normal use, sold as DJ headphones but generally just good and sturdy.

Everything in them is replacable and spares available direct from Sennheiser, in fact, enough that you could just buy all the bits from spares and put together a complete pair.

Have replaced, cans, wires & the earpads when worn out.

Released in 1988 and can still get all the spares now!

Was going to replace them when had issues until I discovered that could buy all the bits I needed to make as good as new for fraction of the price of new ones.

The CIA's 'entire' collection of UFO records has been made available for you to sigh at

Steve Kerr

Re: A matter of interpretation

Being a little pedantic she was right, she did see a genuine UFO.

It was a flying object she genuinely couldn't identify, doesn't necessarily mean it was an object from another world not of our own.

I know most people would think of a UFO as coming from somewhere else but it's fun to argue semantics

NHS COVID-19 app is trying to tell Android users something but buggy notification appears stuck on 'Loading...' screen

Steve Kerr

Re: Google Play Services

I think for the NHS App (on Android) it's under

-> About this App

-> Down to About your data

-> Manage my data

That lists where you've been and flags up any stuff.

Don't think you access the data directly from the android settings, only delete it.

Lay down your souls to the gods of rock 'n' roll: Conspiracy theorists' 5G 'vaccine' chip schematic is actually for a guitar pedal

Steve Kerr

Re: Social media

No, I beg to differ - Idiocracy is already here and putting up fortifications and digging in.

Apple aptly calls its wireless over-the-ear headphones the AirPods Max – as in, maximum damage to your wallet

Steve Kerr

Re: Case looks like a bra

Had a look at the Sennheiser Orpheus H1

it's not just a pair of headphones, it's a valve amplifier built into a marble base and it looks like a product that was made and is for sale "Because we could and a few very rich people will buy it" rather than the apple ithing which is a mass market product that is just stupidly expensive for the masses.

The Sony ones, look like they cost more now because they're not made anymore and they are highly sort after.

The Honor MagicBook Pro looks nice, runs like a dream, and isn't too expensive either. What more could you want?

Steve Kerr

Fruity look

Looks very similar to a fruity based laptop

I for one will be looking at for any lawsuits from said fruity company about copying looks with interest to see how that progresses.

Saying that, it does look really good based on the specs and looks like they're trying to undercut everyone else in the market

Why cloud costs get out of control: Too much lift and shift, and pricing that is 'screwy and broken'

Steve Kerr

Re: Cloudy costs get out of control?

What do you mean they've sacked half the workforce to recoup the costs from their screwup?

UK govt: It's time to get staff back into the office! Capita: Hey everyone... about that...

Steve Kerr

Re: Isnt that good?

I third that.

My personal tower PC (Intel but died and rebuilt as an AMD) generates enough heat to keep my office room at a nice temperature all day in the winter.

In the heat of very hot summer days, it becomes something akin to gas mark 5.

I got 99 problems, and all of them are your fault

Steve Kerr

Re: Hi IT?

I've had the toilet is blocked calls before, told them to call facilities management.

Also had the printer is out of paper call

User "The printer is out of paper"

me "add more paper, it will be in the cupboard under the printer"

User "aren't you going to come down to change it?"

me "er....no, take the paper out of the cupboard under the printer and follow the instructions which are on the side of the printer, bye"

Every printer in the building - there were lots, sat on a cupboard containing about 40 reams of paper which were checked weekly and restocked.

Cool IT support drones never look at explosions: Time to resolution for misbehaving mouse? Three seconds

Steve Kerr


Fix an issue with a managers HP printer printing emails in the mid 90's where he had been having aggro for weeks with desktop support where emails weren't printing, about a second "Load Letter" - press continue.

When outlook used to default and be hard to change from Letter to A4 and it always seem to end up back at Letter

That's all he needed and wanted to know.

There's no accounting for TITSUP*: Beancounters bemoan Sage cloudy sync software outage

Steve Kerr

Re: "our equipment is used for COVID-19 drugs"

It's not all bad - they'll give you credit back for the days it was out of service.

Might be worth a spoonful of cheap instant coffee but at least they can say they didn't charge you for the times the service was unavailable.

Smart fridges are cool, but after a few short years you could be stuck with a big frosty brick in the kitchen

Steve Kerr

Never understood this

Smart fridge, app tells you what's in the fridge - or, just open the door.

Smart washing machine - just set the timer?

So far, in my life - I haven't seen the need for for any of these devices that seem to solve a problem that didn't exist in the first place.

Namesco email 'scripting error' has last bastion of Demon Internet holdouts scratching their heads

Steve Kerr

Last of the holdouts

I was with them for years and was still hanging onto my demon email as I've had it for so long (about a year after demon started)

Still going through the history now to migrate everything onto my own domain.

Bit of a mistake by Namesco but my transition so far has been smooth from demon to my own domain though as I'm still using it hosted on Exchange 365 so they done all the config changes and no charge for the new domain in the first year.

Still debating running my own mail server or just keeping the exchange one as to be fair, it works, can use Thunderbird with it (leaving the email on exchange so can have phone connected to same mailbox)

The only real pain is having to add new aliases for account@domain on the admin page as MS treat each account name as a different user and need to set that up before using it.

Boeing brings back the 737 Max but also lays off thousands

Steve Kerr

To show how "safe" they are, a senior Boeing exec must fly on a scheduled passenger plane running the exact same versions with the pilots having the same training as other global airlines.

I think this is the one of the major ways for Boeing to dig themselves out of this mess.

If their senior management won't get on them, they're not safe.

With millions upon millions out of work in the US, here come the scammers claiming victims' unemployment money using stolen info

Steve Kerr

Re: Got an "IRS" call today...

Thanks for the trigger word - didn't think of that one before.

Much appreciated - it will become well used, now I just need a means of recording my land line.

Getting a pizza the action, AS/400 style

Steve Kerr


Got dumped with OS/400 once when I was helping configure one (without knowing anything it) by someone who promptly went on holiday for the next 2 weeks leaving me as the "expert" after being given an introduction into it using the words "This is the login/password, I'm off on holiday now, bye".

Cupboard full of manuals and people asking me about x, y, z.

Once I got into the steep learning curve of logging in and then "now, what", actually came to like the command verb syntax. I reckon if you thought about what you wanted to do, you could work out the command 95% of the time without looking it up, and the command prompting was excellent.

Very weird operating system though.

In case you need more proof the world's gone mad: Behold, Apple's $699 Mac Pro wheels

Steve Kerr

I found McFeet

Having a nose around and telling friends about McWheels, I have found McFeet - https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MXNM2ZM/A/apple-mac-pro-feet-kit

$299 for some stainless steel feet!

I'm sure there's some marketing droid in Apple saying "Hmmm....what could we sell to the rabid fanbois that they will just lap up?"

I put my hands up, I do have an ipod touch (music), iphone (work provided), ipad (watching netflix on the train) and a macbookpro (2010 model used as main laptop) as I treat them as consumer devices that serve a purpose.

I balk at the current prices for non-upgradable macs though and accessories and have no compunction to buy any of them.

Captain Caveman rides to the rescue, solves a prickly PowerPoint problem with a magical solution

Steve Kerr

Called by the head of the dealing floor

Back at the end of the 90's

Guy calls the helpdesk at 18:45pm, comes through the Ops (me) as helpdesk finished at 6pm.

He's having a problem printing so I call the desktop people that work to 19:00, guy answers the phone and says "nah, I'm going home" and hangs up.

Phone the bod back and said that no-one is available from desktops and I can come down and have a look.

Get down to his office with his own huge HP Laserjet 4 in there and ask what the issue is, he says that the when he prints an email, nothing happens. I look on the printer and it says "load letter", knowing that outlook from the late 90's defaulted to letter and was rather hard to force to A4, I just pressed continue and his emails then came out.

He then said "Is that all I needed to do? I've been back and forth with desktop team for weeks about this and all they needed to do was to tell me to press continue on the printer?" He was very happy to just press continue each time he printed an email and was rather annoyed that no-one in desktops could give him that small snippet of info which he would've been happy with.

Ops 1 desktop 0

Education tech supplier RM smacked by UK schools closure

Steve Kerr

Ha - we had the 380z in the maths department.

We reckon it would've survived a fall from the 1st floor but would have damaged the ground.

Still got a couple of floppy disks of 380z software around somewhere.....

AI startup accuses Facebook of stealing code designed to speed up machine learning models on ordinary CPUs

Steve Kerr

Re: "nifty software tricks to achieve similar speeds on CPUs"

There are many multi-CPU motherboards out there.

5 second search found a Dell 4 CPU motherboard for sale as the first search result.

We have had 4 CPU servers in the past.

Xilinx's high-end Versal FPGA is like a designer handbag. If you need to ask the price, you probably can't afford it

Steve Kerr

If you have to ask, you can't afford it :)

Beer is currently still affordable

All the IT ladies (all the IT ladies), all the IT ladies (all the IT ladies), now put your hands up! Oh, still not many here

Steve Kerr

Romania 10-12 years ago

When I was working out in Romania on a project for an Austrian bank, I would hazard that 80% of IT were women all the way up to management.

Back then and over there, IT was seen as a woman's job, men's jobs were making and building things.

Interesting that different places, different opinions on jobs.

Other interesting things, terrible traffic issues in Bucharest so they made public transport stupidly cheap to get people out of their cars. Was also there when the first Ikea was built and opened, got caught up in gridlock as everyone tried to go there and it was off of the same road as the airport

Voyager suffers a power wobble as boffins start the final countdown for Spitzer

Steve Kerr

Just wow

I was just shy of my 9th birthday when Voyager 2 launched and it's still going now.

I am gobsmacked at this achievement of longevity and still helping science.

I honestly don't believe it would be possible for us to produce such an amazing piece of technology now.

Beers because, those people that built it and still run it deserver free beer for life.



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