* Posts by keithpeter

1962 publicly visible posts • joined 14 Jul 2007

City council Oracle megaproject got a code red – and they went live anyway

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: A drop in the ocean

Cost per mile is bonkers agreed. Same pattern as HS2 - start building while consultations going on &c and adjust as you go so more cost.

The point I was making is that Metro is a combined authority responsibility now. Not everything that happens in Birmingham is BCC.

Another e.g. Clean air zone = central government mandated air quality standards.

(HS2: I have always been somewhat sceptical of the journey time argument. The capacity argument used to make sense when the NE and NW segments were still in the plan but now its just embarrassing).

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: A drop in the ocean

Trams? Talk to Andy S not BCC.

PS: I'm quite relieved at the moderate speed the Metro runs at in the city centre myself. Try Manchester just outside the art gallery one day - but be prepared to jump quick.

openSUSE offers Slowroll distro for those scared by the speed of Tumbleweed

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: Manjaro and Arch?

OK, things changed since (gasp) 9 years ago when I tried it.

Icon: old man here

keithpeter Silver badge

Manjaro and Arch?

Quote from OA

"packages will automatically make their way from Tumbleweed into Slowroll only after they have proved to be stable – meaning that there have been no code changes for an interval, and nobody has opened any bugs or issues since the last change."

Sounds a bit like Manjaro being (or used to be) 'Arch with a profanity delay'. I think Manjaro has a time based quarantine period though. One wonders what happens about packages that are held due to bugs over time - the consistency requirement will become harder to satisfy surely?

Techies at Europe's biggest council have 8 weeks to pull finance reports from Oracle system

keithpeter Silver badge

So four new contracts for Oracle?

And new contracts for employees with four different employers?

Sounds lovely. For consultants. Perhaps best left until the current situation is remedied or at least fully known?

"It's too big to serve residents properly."

Remember the present issues are H&R and IT related. Outrageous incompetence yes, but not automatically linked to failure to serve residents.

PS: I gather that Sheffield council may have similar H&R liabilities (BBC news)

keithpeter Silver badge


How would you suggest splitting Birmingham up?

I'm assuming you live local.



(For those who do not know Birmingham, see icon in terms of the likely fallout).

Mozilla's midlife crisis has taken it from web pioneer to Google's weird neighbor

keithpeter Silver badge


...has advantages if you are squeezing the last few cycles out of old i386 laptop (e.g. Thinkpad T42/1G RAM) just for the sake of keeping them out of landfill while the capacitors hold out.

Single process. Browser/Email/Wep page editor that can double as rich text editor ('print to .pdf' and simplify header/footer - page breaks a bit rough but it gets the job done) and RSS subscriptions. Modest memory footprint. Noscript legacy plug-in available. I also use a /etc/hosts file to block ad-servers where possible. No use for online banking or MS Sharepoint or similar. Works on a surprising number of other Web sites, especially if the firefox compatibility options are set in about:config.

PS: That Web page on Firefox navigation was an eye opener. The vi of browsers?

Meta spends $181M to get out of lease at vacant London offices

keithpeter Silver badge


"Regent's Park in the north-west of England's capital"

...or just spotty sub-editing? I'm sure another phrase would be clearer such as 'in the north-west of the capital city'.

PS: 5 years rent paid up front is a nice little earner. Suggest furnishing the ground floor and make some spaces available to startups as a gesture towards enticing people back into the centre of London. While converting upper floors into nice flats for fair rent to retired gentlefolk. I can dream.

Switch to hit the fan as BT begins prep ahead of analog phone sunset

keithpeter Silver badge

Good Dr S: gas holders are not how gas pressure is retained nowadays alas. I wonder how long the emergency generators for the gas system will function in the event of a major outage.

Icon: old enough to remember the transition from coal gas to natural.

keithpeter Silver badge

"[...] Her Britannic Majesties northern dominions [...]"

I'm afraid we have some bad news for you and the other villagers. Obviously the carrier pigeons have not arrived with the Proclamation yet.

PS: seriously I do worry about the lack of any form of resilience in this spatchcocked network of multiple points of failure we are constructing. The aftermath of the next Carrington event will be something to behold.

Long-term support for Linux kernels is about to get a lot shorter

keithpeter Silver badge


Quote from OA

" If there are around a couple of thousand developers working on any given release of the kernel, and about 10 percent of those are newbies for each point release, that implies that as many again are leaving the project each release, burning out and quitting, or perhaps simply being redeployed to other areas by their employers."

Can't help thinking that there is a case for strategic funding of kernel development along the lines of CERN or the WHO or similar.

As a Brit living in the Midlands, I'm seeing an out of control vanity construction project eat tens of £billions with ever extending time lines and lack of any kind of delivery date. Strikes me a few tens of £millions a year per Western Industrial Country - paperclip money basically - would fund core kernel development reasonably well. Linux Foundation has the organisational infrastructure to deal with funding. Just needs a bursary scheme (3 to 6 years stipend equal to an appropriate salary - yes I know £100k+ or so - with remote working).

Of course, Meta and Alphabet could find that down the back of the couch any day. Perhaps a discount from the various anti-trust/monopolist fines could be arranged as a quid pro quo?

If you're cautious about using ML and bots at work, that's not a bad idea

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: tendency to generate false information – a phenomenon known as "hallucination."

An LLM has no concept of or way of determining 'fact'.

All such a model can do is react to your prompt by looking at what other sources have produced in response to similar prompts.

LLMs are designed to produce plausible sounding language. As such the algorithms have no 'world model' or underlying 'theory of world'.

Best of luck

Why Chromebooks are the new immortals of tech

keithpeter Silver badge


Bunch of Thinkpads and Neverware Google Flex any good?

Best of luck.

PS: I would think there is a market generally for a semi-ruggedised laptop design with replaceable batteries, storage, keyboards and ram. One thinks of education, corporate badge-folk and maintenance people. And oldies like me who learned to type on manual typewriters.

BT confirms it's switching off 3G in UK from Jan next year

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: Elderly and Vulnerable?

My Blackberry Classic works 'fine' in the commonly accepted usage of that word.

It makes phone calls, especially good on speaker-phone when I'm trying to herd kittens (aka achieve consensus).

It sends and receives SMS messages and email.

The camera is basically crap but it can resolve a page of handwriting if photographed in good light and the 'whiteboard' filter can process the resulting image into something I can print out after emailing to an actual computer.

What else does one need?

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: 'New' - old techniques

"Neural nets in its early days demonstrating voice recognition for a major UK bank."

Aha - so it was you.

Oracle at Europe's largest council didn't foresee bankruptcy

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: Costs ballooned from £20 million to around £100 million @t245t

"Successive governments of all flavours have pushed problems down from central control to local government without the required funding to cover all of their new responsibilities, in the name of local accountabillity, but in reality, to get the cost off the Government [balance] sheets."


We need local government that is sustainable, able to provide continuity, and actually really accountable to local population.

"The council leader may have been Conservative at some point during this time, but they were in a minority, so it is a bit strong to call it a Conservative administration at any time."

Will agree to disagree based on my experience as a minor cog in the wheels at the time. Your experience may have been be different.

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: Costs ballooned from £20 million to around £100 million @t245t

@Peter Gathercole

I take the point up to a certain extent.

The other section 114 councils include a number with Conservative administrations and some with NOC.

It is also worth pointing out that the origin of BCCs main liability for the equal pay claims was in the previous Conservative administration, although that does not excuse the failure to do any kind of mitigation of subsequent liabilities.

I suspect that our current 'central government' has little idea of what they want councils to do, other than spend less.

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: re: I haven't seen any evidence

"Don't think I've seen a successful computer transition, outside of perhaps companies that went into a Google Drive/SalesForce type thing where the system is already up and running."

Isn't it about fitting the processes you use to what the software provides? So a startup type company just uses a bog standard salesforce setup with defaults - like shrinkwrap packages back in the stand-alone PC days.

Ubuntu's 'Mantic Minotaur' peeks out of the labyrinth

keithpeter Silver badge


shyisc has nailed it based on fun memories of fighting apt-get back in the noughties.

"Simple: Ship with broadly useful apps, but don't make those apps into a dependency of the system/desktop environment, so that there will be no problems uninstalling them."

But then what do I know, I use Slackware (kitchen sink included :-)

Mind you, I also like the idea of default minimal install but a 'first use wizard' (with icon/entry in menus for later use) that offers a set of sane desktop applications.

Linux Mint Debian Edition 6 hits beta with reassuringly little drama

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: Dear Liam,

"...how Clement Lefebvre intended to counter MX-Linux's overtaking Mint for DistroWatch's number-one position when Mint's numbers were seriously dropping after Mint 18 was released..."

@nautica: I have to admit that my own reaction to such an enquiry on a support forum would be along the lines of a Gallic Shrug. A polite shrug mind you, no need for drama, I'm a Brit.

Disclosure: I use Slackware on my more powerful laptops, and tried a LDME Cinnamon live disk just to see how the desktop performed as mentioned in an earlier post. I have absolutely no investment in all of this and hope that you have found a Linux that meets your needs (see icon).

keithpeter Silver badge

Kudos: Min spec actually works...

Posting off a live session on a Thinkpad T60 with mem=2048M. This is a 64bit capable core-duo machine dating from 2006. Bearing in mind that this machine uses integrated graphics so the system only sees 1968 or so Mb, and that this is a live session with no swap so there must be some squashfs like overhead, I'm quite impressed.

Wifi (intel) works, firefox/youtube HD video playback (Gil Scott-Heron's I'm New Here) reasonably smooth on around 50% processor.

I could not find any keyboard layout selection when booting the live image, so it was en-us layout to start with. (Just because I could not find a keyboard setting on the boot up screen doesn't mean there isn't one, strikes me as an important thing to provide).

I had to install a language pack from inside the live session for en-gb and had to change the keyboard layout by adding en-gb. Both of those tasks could be achieved from the graphical settings menu.

Like Ubuntu live images back in the day, Libreoffice spell check won't work in English (UK) until you install the hunspell-en-gb package. Then it works.

The 2.6Gb live image includes something like 260Mb of wallpapers and three sets of themes.

Rather impressive for a beta. Running at 1645M now with 71M free and 321M 'available'.

Apple's iPhone 12 woes spread as Belgium, Germany, Netherlands weigh in

keithpeter Silver badge

My understanding (which may well be wrong) is that the EU member countries agree to adopt common standards, but the passing of laws and the enforcement of the standards is left to the governments of the member countries.

PS: How do you measure this power per watt of bodyweight I wonder? I'm going to have to investigate...

Local governments aren't businesses – so why are they force-fed business software?

keithpeter Silver badge

"...adequately skilled and trained public servants..."

Those kinds of people cost money and don't take kindly to 10 year pay freezes.

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: It was only after the implementation began that they revealed that they couldn't.

"...the first being to analyse the customer's needs..."

That would be helpful, but as mentioned briefly in OA, the needs for local authorities are dynamic.

The reporting requirements will certainly change as national government policy changes, and as other upstream local authorities change their demands.

And those reporting requirements are much more detailed and cover many more aspects of the corporation than for a purely commercial entity of comparable budget size.

GNOME 45 formalizes extensions module system

keithpeter Silver badge

"If you check the lists of supported Shell versions for each of those, you'll note that they all stopped working many years, and many GNOME Shell versions, ago. The authors stopped trying to keep up with the moving target of GNOME's codebase."

As LP says later in the article, I hope this move to something like a standard for plugins means that plugins developed now can be maintained easily in the future.

PS: I have no skin in this game as I use xfce/window managers on my old and slightly broken ThinkPads.

Bombshell biography: Fearing nuclear war, Musk blocked Starlink to stymie Ukraine attack on Russia

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: So Musk has blood on his hands

"And the sheer absurdity of random industrialists being able to conduct their own foreign policy without reference to their own government."

I seem to recollect that a couple of nascent multi-nationals did just that in the lead up to ww2.

Now, what happened to commandeering?

Microsoft: China stole secret key that unlocked US govt email from crash debug dump

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: "another issue it said has now been corrected"

"...but its handling feels good reasonably competent"


Decades-old Home Office asylum system misses EOL deadline, no new timetable in place

keithpeter Silver badge

stocks and flows

Can't reduce backlog of claims until this (these) systems are working.

Increasing speed of processing could be self financing given possible savings on monthly cost of accommodation.

Seems like a key strategic focus for ministerial attention?

Perhaps more than a couple of plane loads of people being sent abroad?

Farewell WordPad, we hardly knew ye

keithpeter Silver badge

"...though for many years I've wondered why WordPad existed."

1) Corporate intertia: Windows 3 and previous had Write so Windows 95 needed something like it.

2) As someone suggested up-thread, Wordpad was also a demonstration of the rich text component in the programming api - you could get the code and compile it.

3) And my thought: do you remember the little printed booklet that came with Windows 95 and explained step by step how to use the various features of the OS by producing a small document? It had a basic logo made in paint which was then imported into Wordpad and you added text with various kinds of formatting. Detailed explanations of how to create and save the files and how to use explorer and everything.

The point being that little walk through would work on any Windows 95 computer without additional software. Made training on the new interface much easier.

I suppose MS don't see the need for that now.

antiX 23: Anarchic for sure, but 'design by committee' isn't always the best for Linux

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: Proudly antifascist?

"And most of all: what does that have to do with Linux?"


If you like the technology that antiX is using, you can just go ahead and use it.

If you don't like the branding, you can just remove it.

anticapitalista is just exercising his human right of free speech. Remember that he lives in a country that has been governed by a military dictatorship within living memory (just).

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: Live remaster

antiX basic live image comes with 'iso snapshot' which can be accessed from the Applications | antiX menu.

Works quite nicely. I'm posting this from a live session using the snapshot iso (dd'ed to a second USB stick).


keithpeter Silver badge

Re: The sytemd-free ecology


No downvotes from me, just questions.

Which select distributions?

How would such a choice be arrived at? - this is free/libre software after all

What system would you suggest be put in place to prevent forks? Some form of licencing?

Where do the *.BSDs fit into all of this?

(Desktop != distribution - beware category errors)

PS: I'm not sure who has just made another fork (and what that OS fork is of). AntiX, the subject of this article, has been around for a long time and has always (I think) been built on Debian - not a fork exactly - the majority of packages pull from the Debian repositories. The rebuilt packages are the ones that have elogind as a dependency.

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: Live remaster



I'll look for mx-snapshot on the antiX image.

(I also think that a look at live distributions generally could be fruitful).

keithpeter Silver badge

Live remaster

You will find lots to play with.

As OA says runs like shit off a shovel on a 32bit only core-duo laptop with 3Gb ram. I value the support for i686 (non-PAE kernel by default on that arch).

AntiX includes tools for customising a live image.... but the documentation is a tad confusing.

I'm currently stumbling my way through the various howtos to make a live bootable usb from the 'base' graphical image that includes some software installed from debs and some extra software installed from the debian repositories. I'll get there. Anticapitalista does respond on the forums, so I may post an appeal for fraternal support.

I suppose that AntiX is the natural successor to blag linux - but also a contrast. The blag live images were Fedora based (back around 2009) with a good selection of the basics. AntiX is, as the OA says, the Syndicalist version - composite motions congealed in code for the trade unionists amongst us.

Icon: As soon as this pub closes...

Twitter says it may harvest biometric, employment data from its addicts

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: They are all doing it


Browser fingerprinting?

Dropbox limits ‘all the storage you need’ unlimited plan, blames abusive users

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: Only YouTube left with infinite storage?

"...error correction was good enough to allow data to survive being recorded on low resolution analog video tape..."

I'm seeing that as a low pass filter plus noise.

I'm not sure if the new fancy digital lossy compression algorithms for video can be modelled in the same way.

80% of execs regret calling employees back to the office

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: It's all about the real estate

Birmingham UK: there are a few office to flat conversions in the very centre of the city. As SundogUK's post suggests these are high rent 'luxury' flats and they did take a bit of time over the conversion. One was a 1960s building (a good quality one) and the other two are 1930s vintage with solid brick type construction with stone facing. All that I know of are medium-ish rise.

There is an incentive to knock down and rebuild (in some cases locally with exactly the same floor plan for heavens sake). VAT and such. Also issues like accessibility and data. Tricky stuff.

Dell fined $6.5M for 'error in pricing process' down under

keithpeter Silver badge

"Australia's Federal Court has fined Dell AU$10 million (£5 million, US $6.5 million) for what the tech giant has called an error in its pricing processes."

FTFY (see icon)

Inside the Black Hat network operations center, volunteers work in geek heaven

keithpeter Silver badge

Quote from OP

"It's understandable that someone being taught new techniques or skills is going to want to try those out, Grifter pointed out, and often the quickest way to sort this out is to locate the source – sometimes in a training session right there and then – and pop your head around the door and tell them to knock it off, please."

Ah, yes, the point in the academic year when you (as duty rota manager) are asked to explain to a group of IT students that the College network is both reasonably secure and, more importantly, closely monitored. And could they knock it off.

Icon: to all involved, beer or bubble tea as appropriate.

Zoom's new London hub – where 'remote work' meets 'we need you back in the office'

keithpeter Silver badge

A college I worked in once in the UK many decades ago that had a bit of a bad patch(*).

The interim 'turnaround' Principal drove a beat up Ford estate of some vintage. As I happened to know that he lived in a very nice part of the city and that his wife drove a fancy Chelsea Tractor he did confide that his choice of vehicle was 'perception management'.

Fun times (we got through it). This guy's first move was to mount an aggressive advertising/marketing push and send us into local schools to talk to year 10 and 11s. Net result: 20% more students the next year.

Back on topic: Zoom allowed us to move to online teaching and tutorials very quickly at no cost when MS Teams was unusable. When something approaching normality returned, and when Zoom (quite reasonably in my opinion) started to limit the free option, we had to move to MS Teams as it was already paid for as part of the MS 365 package. There was no way we could pay Zoom for something we already had even if it was crap.

(*)OFSTED unsatisfactory, departure of most of the senior post holders, resignation of the governors, eventually forced merger with another larger college locally. I'm a Brit so I do understatement. This was basically Ground Zero in institutional terms.

GNOME 45 beta: Less buggy, more colorful, and still not your grandma's desktop

keithpeter Silver badge


In the Linux based OS world there are choices.

I'm using xfce4 on old core-duo laptops with 4Gb ram and intel graphics upwards. Its fine. It works the way I'm used to. I get stuff done.

Leave the Gnomes playing with their shells on the beach. Bug fixes are *good* so the GTK libraries get better.

Icon: to all involved.

Boffins say they can turn typing sounds into text with 95% accuracy

keithpeter Silver badge


...try this LOUD


RIP Bram Moolenaar: Coding world mourns Vim creator

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: Thanks for Vim on a Fish Disk

chased a goose for a feather and harvested some oak apples when the need to scribble became urgent.

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: Curious

"is the Uganda thing historical?"

No, very much current if you compile from source using the vim.org source archive or if you use vim in other distributions that don't repackage as much as Debian does.

Donating via the link on the footer of www.vim.org (or direct at https://iccf-holland.org/donate.html) is easy if you have a paypal account.


(actually more ^x for me but I have aspirations)

Soon the most popular 'real' desktop will be the Linux desktop

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: They'll try

If I could just chuck an idea into the mix here (and I have absolutely no skin in this game, I could not give a kipper's todger who 'dominates the desktop' as long as I can carry on using my stuff - see icon)

Suppose Microsoft achieves their aim of moving to a cloud based system for most people. Office people, home users, students &c.

Why would they wish to maintain a unique bare metal operating system?

Why not just have a nice lean Linux install with Wine running local apps and a Web browser for most things? Spaff a few million a year to the Wine project - or even just buy Crossover - and increase their existing donations to the Linux Foundation. Hopefully a few bob from down the back of the couch for the likes of the OpenBSD project (ssh and all).

Huge cost savings to keep the shareholders happy, shifting the whole caravanserai to new machine architectures becomes a piece of cake (Apple having done that a couple of times since their Unix adoption), much lower cross-section for anti-trust actions as people always have the option to run Linux applications native. All good.

Just a thought...

Twitter sues Brit non-profit, claims hate-speech reports scared off advertisers

keithpeter Silver badge
Black Helicopters

Re: Hate-speech reports scared off advertisers

I would be interested if any US based commentators can explain the extent to which 'scraping' can be the cause of a civil action. I'm assuming the desired remedy is monetary compensation. Any ideas on how such compensation would be assessed?

PS: UK criminal law regarding hate speech is well articulated through statute and case law. Please remember that the UK has had a right of centre government since around 2010 or so. Quite far to the right with a huge majority and the ability to pass any legislation it wishes to since 2019. One assumes that they are comfortable with the present arrangements.

Icon: Rishi's off up North again

MIT boffins build battery alternative out of cement, carbon black, water

keithpeter Silver badge

low density storage in each house

The mental arithmetic works for my little house ('compact and bijou town house in a vibrant urban area') in the UK similarly. I've often thought that local storage at point of use would help smooth out grid demand and make wind/solar electricity more viable. And there is no pressing need for that local storage to be high power density especially. And you can sequester some carbon into the bargain.

I hope this idea becomes an actual product in the fullness of time.

What does Twitter's new logo really represent?

keithpeter Silver badge
IT Angle

What is being protected?

Is the logo any old double-stoke X or is it a specific letterform / font that has been copyrighted &c?

Just wondering how x.com/twitter as was is going to protect their trademark/logo whatever it is.

Want to live dangerously? Try running Windows XP in 2023

keithpeter Silver badge

Re: My takeaway from this article...

OpenBSD is wonderful. I like they way the project is not afraid to cut stuff out of the base and to change the way the base works from version to version.


Take a fresh install of OpenBSD 7.3 and then run

pkg_add firefox xfce evince

and watch the dependencies roll in. Gbs of them. Then read the pkg_readmes...

I think that the 'bloat' issue is to do with our expectations of what a graphical desktop should actually do. Leading to all sorts of the freedesktop.org plumbing (pkgkit, dbus et all).

Icon: waves stick at the clouds

keithpeter Silver badge

I'm entering the 'older gentleman' demographic (see icon) and I have to admit that the idea of separating concerns is becoming attractive.

Chromebook or similar (replaced regularly as needed) for Internet consumption and a decent Thinkpad with a good keyboard for actually doing stuff.

I also have a legal licenced paid for copy of Office 2000 around somewhere (Wine or vm though).

One to think about...