* Posts by englishr

65 publicly visible posts • joined 15 Jun 2014


Aliens crash landed on Earth – and Uncle Sam is covering it up, this guy tells Congress


Open mind

Keep an open mind but not so open that your brain falls out.

-- Anonymous (but widely attributed to Richard Feynman)

Musk said Twitter would open source its algorithm – then fired the people who could


Oof - memories from 40 years ago!

"Bishop - how was The General Synod's Film 'The Life of Christ' received?"

"Well, we didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!"

PC tech turns doctor to diagnose PC's constant crashes as a case of arthritis


Re: Dell's help desk script

I used to work at s startup that purchased a significant number of Gateway 2000 machines, one batch of which had the hard drives making the dreaded "click of death" within a month or two of being put in to use.

We would normally just pop the drive out, package it up, call Gateway support, and they'd cross ship a replacement. However, one time my colleague and I got someone who was determined to stick to the script, and my colleague was feeling a bit grumpy...

My colleague: We've got another click-of-death drive, from machine <serial#>. Could you ship us a replacement?

GW2K: Is the drive installed in the machine?

C: No - it's packaged ready to return

G: Please install it in a machine - I need to hear it.

C: Seriously? We've returned a dozen of these so far, and no one has needed to hear it.

G: Please install in a machine - I need to hear it.

C: (Sits patiently doing nothing for 3 minutes). OK - it's installed in a machine.

G: Please turn it on so I can hear it.

C: (Make noise with mouth) Click! Click! Click!

G: You're making that noise with your mouth!

C: No I'm not.

G: Yes you are!

C: Nope.

G: (long pause) OK - here's your RMA number ...

IBM to create 24-core Power chip so customers can exploit Oracle database license


Re: For now...

Oracle have done exactly that. Here's their document defining the "core factor" (pdf).

Most Oracle licensing is "per named user" or "per core" (subject to the core factor) - SE2 is the exception with the "per socket" license, but it has baked in limitations such as a maximum of 16 CPU threads per database instance, and a maximum of 1 CPU thread for export/backup operations.


Re: what about EPYC?

An Oracle SE2 license allows use on up-to two socket systems, with an unlimited number of cores. Each database instance is limited to using a maximum of 16 CPU threads, so in a 2 x 96-core EPYC system, so you'd need to be running 12 concurrent instances to get Oracle to use 192 threads. (There are other nasty limitations baked in, such as a maximum of 1 CPU thread can be used for exports/rman-backups, which makes them impractically slow for larger DBs).

Logitech, that canary in PC coal mine, just fell off its perch


Re: I did my best...

I spent $89 on an IBM buckling spring keyboard only 29 years ago, and it's still working beautifully.

(Icon is "smug face")

Amazon fails to overturn New York City union election


I know they're underpaid, but....

"The research noted that the labor pool grows by 7 percent for every dollar added to the salary"

Surely that should be "for every dollar added to the hourly rate"?

Computer glitches harmed 'nearly 150' patients after Oracle Cerner system go-live


Re: Unknown problems

> Henceforth known as the 'Oracle-Cerner Unknown Queue Paradox'.

Or perhaps, Cerner-Oracle Queue Unknown Paradox (COQ UP).

Gtk 5 might drop X11 support, says GNOME dev

Thumb Up

Re: Opposites

I'm on board with the sentiment, but the bad old days of entering CRT resolution timings into the X.conf file (I think that's what it was called way back when...) prior to EDID being a thing, was fraught with problems.

The modern versions that just detect everything at run time look like magic to me :-)

FBI seizes $3.6bn in Bitcoin after New York 'tech couple' arrested over Bitfinex robbery


Selection bias ?

"Criminals always leave tracks, well, the ones we catch by following the tracks" said FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate.

UK's new Brexit Freedom Bill promises already-slated GDPR reform, easier gene editing rules


Re: A Cool Billion ! Roll Up, Roll Up !

In a high school chemistry class many years ago, the teacher stepped out for a minute and a fellow student decided to heat their metal pencil sharpener in a Bunsen flame "to see what would happen". As it happens, the metal was a magnesium aluminium alloy - the magnesium ignited, which in turn ignited the aluminium.

The eye-searing white light caused my colleague to panic, and he threw it (along with the tongs) into a stainless steel sink that happened to be full of water. This created a very Dr. Who like scene, with an astoundingly bright light shining up out of the sink, accompanied by the water furiously bubbling from the hydrogen as the burning metal stripped the oxygen from the water.

Alas, the spectacle only lasted a few seconds, but when it was done, there was a ghostly outline of a pencil sharpener made out of tiny spheres of iron (I think, from the impurities in the alloy) welded to the bottom of the sink.

Nothing's working, and I've checked everything, so it must be YOUR fault


Re: Several times...

While providing telephone support for my brother, whose printer was not working, the conversation went like this...

Me: OK - first let's check the basics. Is the power cable plugged in at both ends?

Him: Of course it's bloody well plugged in at both .... oh. It's working now.

Sovereignty? We've heard of it. UK government gives contract to store MI5, MI6 and GCHQ's data to AWS


The US CLOUD act allows law enforcement to compel US companies to turn over data whether that data is located within or outside the United States. So even if the data is stored in AWS solely within the UK, US law enforcement can still get their hands on it.

Hopefully the data will be properly encrypted with user-held keys.

Takes from the taxpayer, gives to the old – by squishing a bug in Thatcherite benefits system


Re: 01/26/2004 would have been cleared

> Personally, I prefer the ISO standard of 2021/12/31.

Although your suggested format is one of the better ones, ISO 8601 requires that the separator be a dash: 2021-12-31

Obligatory xkcd: https://xkcd.com/1179/

Windows on Wheels is back, though the truck has come to a standstill, much like the OS


You wouldn't want it moving much, if it has a bad driver.

Linux 5.10 to make Year 2038 problem the Year 2486 problem


Re: Sigh... the K notation again.

Billy Brown relies on your gin, but prefers good whisky.

(p for purple rather than violet).

IT Marie Kondo asks: Does this noisy PC spark joy? Alas, no. So under the desk it goes


Re: cold feet warm computer.

As a student, I took a summer vacation job at IBM Chiswick in London. The group I was working with happened to be in a former machine room - the mainframes were gone, but the 10m long A/C built in to the external wall remained.

In general, then room was very pleasant to work in, however, one Monday AM when I arrived bright and early, I discovered that this massive A/C had be set to "max" and left on all weekend. The metal surfaces in the room were frosty. Took a while to warm up, English summers being what they are!

You won't need .NET Standard... except when you do need it: Microsoft sets out latest in ever-changing story


Re: Smug

> I've seen apps under 30MB using this method

Oh, how things have changed since I were a lad...

I remember writing a "student database" program for a high school in the early '80s, on a dual-floppy TRS-80, using Z80 assembler. The machine had 32k of RAM, most of which was needed for holding data. The program ended up being about 10k, and now a 30MB app is considered small. Sigh.

Obligatory "Now get off my lawn!"

Oracle's Java 15 rides into town, waving the 'we're number one' flag, demands 25th birthday party


Re: so wrong

It's definitely quirky to reuse a well established and well known equality test operator, and assign it a new meaning. Compare to python, where == is the equality test, and is is the "same object" test.

Huawei Matebook X Pro 2020: Nothing too crazy but at least it's more fixable and cheaper than comparable Apple wares


Buying a new laptop and popping in a 16GB SODIMM and 1TB NVMe drive from somewhere like Amazon is vastly cheaper than purchasing that spec. from the manufacturer.

You also get a clean crapware-free installation of Windows/Linux on the new drive, and can quickly replace the original vendor drive if required by technical support.

After 30 years of searching, astroboffins finally detect the universe's 'missing matter' – using fast radio bursts


Re: ...but does it really "matter" given the state of Humanity?

> Finally you need to assume that intellectuals have less children than average.

I suspect that intellectuals have fewer children than average.

How generous of GitHub to slash prices and make all its core features free. So what gives? Oh right, GitLab


Re: Open Source != Public

Public certainly doesn't imply FOSS, but if the public can download the source then surely that's the definition of OSS ?

Drones must be constantly connected to the internet to give Feds real-time location data – new US govt proposal


Re: One of the larger problems with the FAA proposal

The article may have been updated since your post, but it currently says "for drones weighing 0.55lb (0.25kg) or more". 250g is definitely in the "toy" range.

Yo, sysadmins! Thought Patch Tuesday was big? Oracle says 'hold my Java' with huge 334 security flaw fix bundle


Re: Eh?

Oracle databases have an optional embedded JVM, which is necessarily Oracle Java. The embedded JVM allows stored procedures, triggers, etc. to be written in Java rather than PL/SQL - and alas, if the vendor of your ERP platform requires an Oracle RDBMS with embedded Java, then you just have to suck it up.

Step away from that Windows 7 machine, order UK cyber-cops: It's not safe for managing your cash digitally


Re: Upgrade from Windows 7

I just updated my mother in law and next door neighbour from Win 7 Pro (OEM) to Windows 10 Pro, simply by doing a clean Win10 install and typing in the Win7 Pro product code. Worked like a charm.

I did hit a temporary snag though - one of the motherboards had a USB port failure, so I swapped it out for a replacement. Win10 said "hmm - this looks like a new computer" and de-activated itself, and nothing I could do would convince it to behave - other than "wait a few days". I left if off for four days (didn't have time to deal with it), and when I turned it back on ready to humbly call Microsoft customner serice, cap in hand, it magically reactivated by itself.

Hundreds of millions of Broadcom-based cable modems at risk of remote hijacking, eggheads fear


I could care less ... but not much.

When I was in primary school (Wales, 1970s), it was quite common to here the expression "I could care less, but not much!" (with heavy emphasis on the "could"). I've always assumed that "I could care less" was a shortened version, with "but not much" being implied.

A History of (Computer) Violence: Wait. Before you whack it again, try caressing the mouse


Re: The tine of a forklift wielded like a scalpel

In the mid-90s I once received a $1000 video card where the outer packing box had a mysterious triangular hole (roughly 20mm per side) on both sides. Upon opening the box, the video card retail packaging also had a 20mm triangular hole on both side.

You will be unsurprised to hear that the video card exhibited the same defect; it looked like a pretty clean cut, and where the hole intersected chips, the chips were neatly sheared. Needless to say, I returned the card without actually testing it's function.

I have no idea what might have punched such a hole - any thoughts?

Not a death spiral, I'm trapped in a closed loop of customer experience


Bureaucracy: Infocom text adventure

I can highly recommend the classic text adventure Bureaucracy (written by Douglas Adams) where the goal of the game is to have your bank recognise your change of address without having an aneurysm from elevated blood pressure.


Can you download it to me – in an envelope with a stamp?


Re: Linux.

I remember downloading Slackware 1.0 (kernel 0.98) in August 1993, packaged as 24 x 1.44mb floppy disk images, using a 2400 baud modem. Once I had it installed, and with a custom compiled kernel (took 6 hours to compile!) it was absolutely brilliant :-)

Boffins discover new dust clouds in the Solar System, Mercury has a surprisingly filthy ring


Re: Make Pluto great again

Thank you for the link, but my reading of the page is that it is contrary to your understanding. Could you draw attention to the parts that support your argument that orbital velocity in a solar orbit is a function of the mass of the orbiting body?

From the web page referenced:

So does the mass of the planet have a significant impact upon its orbital period (or orbital speed) about some star? Given that planets are by definition almost always much less massive than the stars they orbit, the practical answer is "NO."

In a galaxy far, far away, aliens may have eight-letter DNA – like the kind NASA-backed boffins just crafted


...the Sun might be a life-form ...

An idea explored by the great Frank Herbert in his 1970 novel, "Whipping Star", the prequel to my favourite Herbert Novel, "The Dosadi Experiment".

Court sees Morissette Meter flip out as Oracle assumes anti-arbitration stance in pay dispute


Morissette Meter

It's a meter for measuring irony levels, named after Alanis Morissette, on account of her song "Ironic", which lists a series of unfortunate events, none of which are ironic.

Official: IBM to gobble Red Hat for $34bn – yes, the enterprise Linux biz



Can't help thinking that Zimos from Saints Row III should be their spokesman; now that's a big purple hat!

Police block roads to stop tech support chap 'robbing a bank'


Unintentionally silent alarm

While working for a software startup in the mid-90s, about a month after the company moved to new offices in a refurbished brick and poured concrete industrial building, I was hacking away at some code at about 9:00pm when the (locked) main office door burst open with an enormous crash.

Four burly firemen charged in, axes, oxygen tanks, full-face breathing masks - the works. They rapidly went office to office, checking for anyone still there - seeing me, one yells "You! Get out now! Can't you hear the alarm?" Now that the main door was open into the central stairwell / lift area, I could hear a very faint "ding, ding, ding...". I shakily beat a retreat (not enough blood in my adrenaline stream) out of the building, to find multiple police cars and fire engines in the parking lot.

Turned out to be a false alarm.

Astronaut took camera on spacewalk, but forgot SD memory card


@regbadgerer "a spacewalk is a very high-pressure environment"

Surely it's the very definition of a low-pressure environment?

IBM bans all removable storage, for all staff, everywhere


Re: It's not rocket science...

> Late 90s USB sticks?

> Did they even exist?

Indeed they did; I am the proud owner of an 8MB (yes, MB) IBM branded USB stick, that wouldn't be recognised by Windows until you installed the device driver off the provided floppy...

Drone 'swarm' buzzed off FBI surveillance bods, says tech bloke

Black Helicopters

@Ivan 4: "let the drone wars begin"

Oh, come on - it's Star Wars Day...

The drone wars - begun, they have!

The new Black: Western Dig doubles capacity on slimmed-down flasher


Re: Controller?

It’s a WD home grown controller.

Boffins stalk house-hunting bees, find colony behaves kind of like a human brain


Frank Herbert's "The Green Brain"

Reminds me of Frank Herbert's "The Green Brain" from the the mid 60's

I'm going to have to dig it out and re-read it now!

Intel: Our next chips won't have data leak flaws we told you totally not to worry about


Re: So...a whole new computer?

"Keyboards last about a year max."

Dang, you're hard on your keyboards; I'm typing this on an IBM buckling-spring keyboard manufactured in 1996, and used 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. I have the same thing at home, used for extensive gaming, and still going strong.

Maybe you should try one (I've no affiliation with UniComp)?


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


Re: OTA Updates for Cars

"Exactly. What if you get a "Windows X" type update (you can't control it) that borks your car?"

Presumably function can be restored by careful editing of /etc/X11/xorg.conf ?

Revealed: How Libratus bot felted poker pros – and now it has cyber-security in its sights


Re: What would be the result

> if two instances of Libratus were to play each other?




Erase 2017 from your brain. Face ID never happened. The Notch is an illusion

Thumb Up

Re: Old fashioned?

> by which time I had added an additional finger.

Doesn't that make it hard to buy gloves?

Facebook let advertisers target 'Jew-haters'


Re: How about some balance?

> Facebook Active Users: 2 Billion

> Number if people in this study: 2,300

> % people that are shown as Anti-Semitic: 0.00000115%

Your arithmetic is off by two orders of magnitude.

Stack Clash flaws blow local root holes in loads of top Linux programs


Re: sudont


My most common sudo use case is to allow users to become another non-root user in a logged shell, e.g.

%dba ALL=/usr/bin/rootsh -i -u oracle

So, the DBAs can become the oracle user, but the session is logged. If you have a better way to achieve this, I'd appreciate hearing about it.

Software dev bombshell: Programmers who use spaces earn MORE than those who use tabs


Re: My code won't run but the spaces are great

"Those who give any kind of meaning to white-space in source code other than to separate one word from another is a heretic and has to be cleansed!"

But...but...what about the awesome programming language 'whitespace' ??


Voyager 1 passes another milestone: It's now 138AU from home


Re: Not sure what they used...

"which may have used things like the TI 7400"

A quad two-input nand chip?

IBM marketeers rub out chopper after visit from CEO Ginni


Re: Just something to think about...

"You forgot the cost for the accountant to figure out all of that, the auditor to make sure it's right, the executive review to change it, the accountant's time to revise..."

...and the printing costs of the 1000-page report, with 10% of pages marked "This page intentionally left blank".

Effort to fire Euro Patent Office president beaten back – again


Re: Not taken for granted

'If "rejected = filled - granted", then rejected patents count grew by 12% in 6 years.'

Since we're looking for a measure of efficiency, you need to include "waiting to be processed"

rejected = filled - (granted + waiting)


Re: Not taken for granted

"In 6 years, numbers of fillings grew by 25%, granted patents grew by 65%. If EPO is such a mess, why does it work better in term of results?"

Granting patents is easy - it's rejecting patents that's hard.