* Posts by muddysteve

124 posts • joined 1 Aug 2013


COBOL: Five little letters that if put on a CV would ensure stable income for many a greybeard coder


Re: Performance slow?

You could speed things up quite a lot by choosing your data types correctly. Once, in a quiet period I spent a lot of time working out what data type to use to optimise both storage and performance.


Re: My first programs were in COBOL

Nothing quite like the howl of despair from a programmer who dropped his/her deck of cards.


My first programs were in COBOL

Written out on datasheets.

Given to the Data Prep department to be turned into punched cards.

Submitted to the operators for an overnight compile.

Next day, check errors, correct and resubmit for another compile the next night.

Once it compiled successfully, start to debug, one run a day.

Once, when the Data Prep department was busy, I produced a program on punched cards using a hand punch.

Mind you, from the article - "2 million coders producing 1.5 million lines of code a day". Must be still using the same process.

Fantastic Mr Fox? Not when he sh*ts on your lawn, kids' trampoline and your soul


Wimpy Foxes

I don't think I have seen a fox in our garden since we got a dog. There are plenty around - I see them in the street and hear them. They just don't seem to come in our garden. I can be reasonably sure - if one did a dump in the garden, our dog would roll in it.

GM Cruise holds off on self-driving taxis for this year, says it needs more testing time to be safe


Another 10 years away.

I reckon we will get self-driving cars at the same time we get fusion nuclear reactors. It's always about ten years away.

Freaky photo flingers face fat fines for flagrant phallus flashing fun


Re: Potentially a good idea.

-> thinking the other person MIGHT want to see it, and if the other person says "do not send me this ever again" and you do NOT, there's no JAIL involved, just irritation and need to apologize.

"So if I whack you painfully around the head with a baseball bat, and you tell me that you didn't want me to do that, it's OK if I apologise, and I won't be charged with assault?"

It also sounds like a flasher's charter "Didn't you want to see that? Sorry - I won't do it again".

A real head-scratcher: Tech support called in because emails 'aren't showing timestamps'


Re: Monthly sales report

If no-one ever read the report, why was the paper replenished?


Re: "WTF do you think you're doing?"

"Depends how you worked. I started at a place where we wrote on coding sheets (it was assembler) so it would have been sensible to get a fast typist to bang it in after you'd written it."

I started COBOL programming on coding sheets, which then went to the data prep girls to be typed up and a card deck produced.

You tell that to youngsters today and they won't believe you.

User secures floppies to a filing cabinet with a magnet, but at least they backed up daily... right?


Two true stories

These were told to me in the Eighties by a PC supplier, and I have no cause to doubt them.

The first was one told earlier, where a user had sent a floppy through the post with evidence on, and a compliments slip stapled to it.

The other was where a new PC was supplied, and the dealer gave the user two floppy discs to start them off as backups. Let's call them A and B. Things worked well at first - as the data on the machine grew, floppy A no longer had enough space on , and floppy B was inserted when asked for. The problems started when the amount of data grew further. Floppy A was inserted - when full, floppy B was inserted, and then, when full, floppy A was inserted again....

How many Reg columnists does it take to turn off a lightbulb?


Them wardrobe lights

Once slept at a friends flat which had one of those motion-sensor lights in the wardrobe. I like to sleep with the window open, and every time there was a gust of wind, the wardrobe doors moved, which turned the light on. As it was a friends place, I didn't want to dismantle the light.

Eggheads want YOU to name Jupiter's five newly found moons ‒ and yeah, not so fast with Moony McMoonface


Zeusy McZeusface


Return of the audio format wars and other money-making scams


Two words

Eight track.

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


Re: Perhaps

"A small addition of Kodiak DNA would make them more 'interesting'."

If it was Kodak dna, they could take their own selfies.

Users fail to squeak through basic computer skills test. Well, it was the '90s


Re: felt pad

Am I the only weirdo who used to enjoy cleaning out the old mechanical mice (only mine, mind, I don't want someone else's "felt pad" under my finger nails).

Um, I'm not that Gary, American man tells Ryanair after being sent other Gary's flight itinerary


Right on. Power to the Steves.

What the #!/%* is that rogue Raspberry Pi doing plugged into my company's server room, sysadmin despairs


I'm not a sysadm, but surely if you find an unknown piece of kit in your server room and the management don't know about it, then the first thing to do is unplug it, and see who shouts, rather than get on the internet and wait for replies.

Scanning an Exchange server for a virus that spreads via email? What could go wrong?


It was a Friday

First alarm bell!

Take my advice: The only safe ID is a fake ID


Re: As far as te BBC uis concerned...

"I am a 36 year old single Afro Caribbean woman living in Milton Keynes.

Needless to say I am nothing of the kind."

You mean you are really 42?

Devon County Council techies: WE KNOW IT WASN'T YOU!


3rd party

They may well be using a 3rd party letter printing service which is supposed to check the letter, print it, put it in an envelope and post it. Doesn't excuse the badly written letter in the first place, mind.

Boss helped sysadmin take down horrible client with swift kick to the nether regions


So long, and thanks for all the columns

Good luck with your new job, Simon.

Want to know what an organisation is really like? Visit the restroom


Toilet Signs

A recent one seen:-

"Please no not flush anything other than toilet paper down the toilet."

You wouldn't want to take that too literally.

Mobileye's autonomous cars are heading to California. But they're not going to kill anyone. At least not on purpose


"At its heart he's denying the value of predicting the actions of others. I know I predict while driving - constantly and unconsciously, using judgements of their position speed and acceleration, but also the make and condition of the car, the age and sex of the driver, where we are."

Of course you are. The central premise of driving is that you only drive into a space that will be empty when you get there, which involves the prediction of what everything around you is going to do. If you just drive by reacting to others, then you are an accident waiting to happen. In fact, I am not even sure that is possible.

Blame everything on 'computer error' – no one will contradict you


I have always said...

The main problem with computers is that they do what you tell them to do, not what you want them to do.

BOFH: Guys? Guys? We need blockchain... can you install blockchain?


Re: Magic Bean Technology

"They are here in Australia. I'll meet you there. What are you having?"

A pint of something cold, please. I may not make it in time, so you had better drink it for me.

Translating Facebook's latest 'Hard Questions' PR spin – The Reg edit


I don't particularly mind targeted ads, if they are targeted by FB (I did sign up to that bit). If an advertiser gives FB an advert for 40-50 year olds who like eating out, and FB puts it on appropriate time lines, then that is ok with me. What I really don't like is other companies being given data about me to effectively do what they like with (I didn't realise that I had signed up to that bit). That is the main reason I am trying to wean myself off FB.

Time to ditch the front door key? Nest's new wireless smart lock is surprisingly convenient


Re: Lock makers that you can trust?

Do you really want to open a door outward into your visitor's face?

There is no perceived IT generation gap: Young people really are thick


Saracen and Roland

Wow - that is an obscure reference. Mme D must be well-educated.

Signal app guru Moxie: Facebook is like Exxon. Everyone needs it, everyone despises it


People don't care

The basic problem with the surveillance society is that people don't care that they are being watched. "If you are doing nothing wrong, then you have nothing to worry about" is the quote I usually hear when discussing it. "Who is going to be interested in what we say?" was the reply when I discussed Alexa with someone. When all that most people see is a few targeted adverts, they will live with that if it means they can share photos, news and memes. I am seriously considering coming off Facebook, but I will then lose touch with many people that I do not communicate with in other ways.

What a time to be alive: LG and Italian furniture-maker build smart sofa


Not as bad as it sounds

It won't do things automatically.

“a visitor can sit on a piece of Nattuzi furniture and tell it to turn on the TV. It will then activate the LG Signature OLED TV while the sofa and light are adjusted for the best viewing experience.”

So you have to tell it what to do. I'd still rather use a remote, though.

You must be yolking: English pub to launch eggstravagent Yorkshire pudding


Watford Gap, not Watford. They are different places. Watford is inside the M25, which would make me a Northerner, living in Hertfordshire. I can't be a Northerner - I wear a coat.

I couldn't give a Greek clock about your IoT fertility tracker


Re: In my day

"In my day with camped on mountains without tents or sleeping bags and dug latrine holes in the rock with our fingernails. etc."

Camping without tents or sleeping bags - isn't that just called "stopping".



If you are taking a riverside holiday in a narrow boat, then the people on the boats in the actual river would be gloating (as well as floating - and boating).

Your mouse can't reach that Excel cell? Buy a 'desk extender' said help desk bluffer


Re: Porkies

Office maybe, but Excel was released for the Mac in 1985 and for the PC in 1987.

Good luck saying 'Sorry I'm late, I had to update my car's firmware'


Re: new does not mean better

That would be nice. Unfortunately, vehicles without all the computer gubbins will not meet current legislation, especially around emissions.


I can see the problem with cars being the insurance companies. "You drove your car without accepting an important update? Sorry, we cannot cover you in those circumstances."

Star Paws: Attack of the clones


Re: Why clone any pet?

An upvote for the message, and I would like to give another for having English Springer Spaniels.

IT peeps, be warned: You'll soon be a museum exhibit


Re: Back in the day

In the 80s, the company I worked for set up a multi-user data prep system It ran on an IBM AT PC (with a 286 processor), had a 20 (yes, twenty) MB hard disk, and supported 6 users. If you told the kids today that they wouldn't know what you were talking about, let alone believe it.


Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

"When I started learning IT at school, a lot of attention was paid to punch cards, kimball tags and other almost obsolete tech which I saw hide nor hair of when I reached work a year or two later."

When I started work, my first COBOL programs were on punched card. I even produced one with a hand punch, because the data prep department was busy.

You got one compilation run a day in those times.

Brit transport pundit Christian Wolmar on why the driverless car is on a 'road to nowhere'


Re: It's too Black and White

I can see two problems with that. The first is that most people would want a truly driverless car (not the kind where you have to pay attention to take over) so that they can drink, which they couldn't if they had to drive at both ends of the journey. The other is that the most stressful parts of a journey tend to be the town bits at the end - the motorways are relatively stress-free.


They will never work in an urban environment.

How is an automated car ever going to get through a housing estate, with kids jumping out in front of them, playing chicken and just being annoying?

If you ever bought a BMW driverless car, you would be lucky to get off your own drive.

Hot chips crashed servers, but were still delicious


Many years ago we polled sales data from stores overnight using Kermit over a modem - I said it was years ago. We had one store that would always fail, and then work on the retry, some hours later. Eventually we put someone in to watch what was happening, and, at the time we should have been polling, the cleaner was in, and unplugged the modem to plug the vacuum cleaner in. When finished, the modem was plugged back in, hence it worked on the retry.

What will drive our cars when the combustion engine dies?


I realised my mistake and withdrew the comment.

10 years of the Kindle and the curious incident of a dog in the day-time


I really like my Kindle

It hasn't replaced books for me - I still read real books in bed, but the Kindle is great for holidays. Long battery life, plus the screen is much less tiring to read than a phone or tablet.

I can also have the Kindle app on the phone for journeys, and it stays synced with my actual Kindle.

Official: Perl the most hated programming language, say devs


Another vote for APL

It was unmaintainable. If you needed to make a change you modified the requirements spec and wrote the program again from scratch.

Needed a special keyboard, as well.

Please replace the sword, says owner of now-hollow stone


Re: Llangorse Lake, the largest in Wales

-> No it's not. Bala Lake is a natural lake and 3 times the area of Llangorse. I am sure there are other reservoirs larger too.

Absolutely right - it doesn't even make the top 10. However, it is the second largest natural lake in Wales (after Bala) and is the largest in South Wales.

UK lotto players quids in: Website knocked offline by DDoS attack


Buying the dream

To me, playing the lottery is not really about winning - it is buying the dream. I can't fantasise about what I would do with the money if I don't buy a ticket.

Angst in her pants: Alleged US govt leaker Reality Winner stashed docs in her pantyhose


Re: Made Up Name Surely - Is Her Name Considered Serious (& Don't Call Me Shirley)!

Reality TV has been going since the 40s, with things like "Queen for a Day". Didn't really kick off until the late 90s, though with Big Brother.

Connect at mine free Wi-Fi! I would knew what I is do! I is cafe boss!


Re: Just another attempt

I agree, as well. I thought the main point of password-protecting wifi was to prevent unauthorised people jumping on your bandwidth. I am willing to be enlightened.



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