* Posts by Andy Brown

21 publicly visible posts • joined 13 Jul 2007

Sysadmins: Your best tale of woe wins a PRIZE

Andy Brown

Re: Too many to choose from...

Years back, we had a 'Unix consultant' who decided that he'd empty the user trash can on the server - the directory called /usr/bin - then wondered why the server stopped working.

So, what IS the worst film ever made?

Andy Brown

Open Water

Truly dire.

You spend 2 hours watching sharks circling two people in the ocean, and then it just ends. The only 'suspense' in this 'psychological chiller' is waiting for anything to happen.

HMRC systems downed by upgrades

Andy Brown

Tea time :)

Nope - they all get to man the phones for a week to explain how they can't do anything with the system down. Between tea breaks, of course.

Super 'sun-hot' plasma rocket in fullbore bench test triumph

Andy Brown

180 flip

It is routine for both probes and spaceships to re-orient themselves before applying thrust - including the afformentioned '180 flip'. With a decent guidance system and a slow rate of turn, you can re-angle the ship/probe with a very high degree of accuracy.

Is Gordon Brown safe to work with vulnerable people?

Andy Brown

Do MPs need vetting to work with MPs?

"the guiding principle appears to be that where there is even a remote possibility that interaction between adults and a vulnerable group might lead to the creation of a "relationship of trust", individuals should be checked and registered."

Given the current polls, I'd suggest that most MPs must be feeling they are part of a "vulnerable group". Does that mean anyone associating with an MP needs to be vetted? Including other MPs?

Satanic net neologisms - nominations invited

Andy Brown

Maybe 'monet'ize refers to the painter

After all they're trying to paint the deal in an impressionist style, and hoping you'll spend a fortune on it...

Sats blunder firm sacked

Andy Brown

the quality of the marking is high?

"the quality of the marking is high"?

From what I've heard, some schools have been sending back anywhere up to half their papers for remarking because the original marking was so poor.

Yes! It's Joyce McKinney, admits Joyce McKinney

Andy Brown

Good deed?

Yup - definite good deed there, chaining up a mormon missionary :)

El Reg nails Street View spycars to Google Maps

Andy Brown

@ Jaded CTO

What do you mean "not the missile"? Surely that'd be one of the best uses for a Stinger, and it'd rather dramatically demonstrate what people think about the potential invasions of privacy from this :)

Upgrade drags Stealth Bomber IT systems into the 90s

Andy Brown

Military Grade

It's military-grade hardware - at least the processor spec is so poor we can be confident they don't use M$ Windows :)

Japanese customs dish out free dope

Andy Brown

Sniffer dogs

There was a case in England years ago where the local cops ran a training exercise for their sniffer dogs. They planted 12 small packages of explosives around a school at the weekend then set the dogs to find them.

The dogs found 13 stashes...

Biofuel backlash prompts Brussels back-pedal

Andy Brown


Someone's finally realised that using foodstuff to make fuel may *just possibly* have an impact on how much food is left to eat.

Considering that the average car gets through a heck of a lot more mass in fuel than the average person does in food, 10% ethanol probably equates to much more than 10% of the grain crop...

Mine's the one with the corn circle diagram on the back.

US cops taser groom, cuff drunken bride

Andy Brown
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My wife gave the DJ for our wedding reception a list of banned tracks - on threat of no pay, severe pain, and the breaking of his decks...

Online banking payment system aims to reduce fraud

Andy Brown
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Well, it won't work on my PC - I have ActiveX explicitly disabled. Besides which, I use Firefox for all my browsing.

Restricting you to a dodgy browser on a flaky operating system like Windoze is a pretty good way of eliminating a big chunk of your potential user base straight off, and having an ActiveX control active while you enter all your online banking details frankly horrifies me.

I'll stick to using my debit card until they come up with something more secure that actually works.

BOFH: The secret gentlemen's club

Andy Brown
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I've still got a pair of high-res CRT screens on my PC. Those and the high-spec graphics cards help keep the room nice and warm in winter :)

Dungeons and Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax dies

Andy Brown

Rest In Peace

I've been playing RPGs now for more than 25 years, starting with the 1st Edition of AD&D back in the early 80s and progressing through a host of other RPG systems.

Without that start, my life would have been very different. AD&D got me interested in computer games, and led ultimately to me getting a job in programming (yes - my first programs were stat generators for AD&D). I met my wife through people I played RPGs with (she's now also an avid gamer), and I still run a weekly campaign.

D&D spawned an entire industry. It gave us a simple set of rules that sparked our imaginations and let us go out and explore, taking us away from the humdrum everyday world and into the brighter places of our shared imagination. It taught us many things useful in real life - planning, teamwork, effective use of abilities, research skills - and that a 10-foot pole won't fit into a backpack (unless its a very special bag). It kept us off the streets and out of trouble and gave us geeks something we could truly excel in.

Without D&D, much of the modern RPG and MMORPG genre just wouldn't exist. That spark led to a whole range of other games covering the entire spectrum of genres. Many players went on to turn their adventures into books and computer games, without which a large part of the PC and console industries would never have taken off the way it has. He was a trailblazer for the many that have followed in his footsteps over the years.

RIP Mr Gygax, you will be missed.

BOFH: How dangerous are your users?

Andy Brown

Option missing

Question 6 should include an option for "still in use".

Everything here is reused until there's absolutely no way it can be repaired, then it becomes spares for other pieces of junk.

EU online gambling firms demand $100 bil in WTO dispute

Andy Brown


They've already lost the case, and the appeal - they're just trying to ignore it in the hope it'll all go away.

Given the way things are going, it's going to cost them an arm and a leg if they don't pull their thumbs out and make a reasonable offer of recompence.

Designer breaks up trad PC design

Andy Brown

Old idea rehashed

I used to work with the old Unisys B-series boxes that worked the same way - a standard size slab case about 8 inches square and 5 inches wide with a standard connector on each face. You just plugged in whatever units you wanted side-by-side and stuck an end-cap on the connectors on the last one in the chain.

The biggest system I remember had 8 slabs plugged together, forming a base unit about 3 foot long with a monitor sitting on top. It generated a fair amount of heat as well.

Personally, I think this latest incarnation of the plug-together PC will end up sinking the same as all the earlier versions. While it sounds like a good idea, it just doesn't work very well in practice.

NASA inks deal for Shuttle replacements

Andy Brown

Other Ways

Space Elevator - needs materials advances before its truly feasible, has massive up-front costs, then practically free to run (compared to rockets).

Magnetic Cannon - a launcher frequently used in Sci-Fi is an electromagnetic launch system - basically a 20-50km long electromagnetic cannon that accelerates a payload to orbital speed, with the higher-speed end climbing into the upper atmosphere to reduce friction (see The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein for several viable locations). Again, massive up-front cost, but relatively easy to maintain/repair since everything is on the ground and accessible. We also have a degree of expertise in building these from things like the CERN particle accelerators and their equivalents elsewhere.

Mothership-style first stage - as proposed numerous times to NASA over the past 30-40 years, and now being developed by private space exploration companies.

Olympic planners left IT out of the budget

Andy Brown

Doubts about 2012

"Judging by how successful the Wembley project was regarding delivery and budget it will be interesting to see the final bill for London2012."

Judging by the success of that project, I'd expect the construction for the London Olympics to be completed somewhere around 2015 - pretty much regardless of how much money they throw at it. I can't see the current management being able to get it finished anything like on time and the words "to budget" have already gone out the window.

I agree about the Idiot Race suggestion - we have a most deserving team in training for it.