* Posts by AJ MacLeod

475 posts • joined 11 May 2006


Microsoft confirms pursuit of TikTok after Satya Nadella chats to Donald Trump

AJ MacLeod

Nobody was suggesting that it was the brain dead content of TikTok videos that was of interest to the CCP. Having malware installed on millions of powerful mobile computers with cameras, microphones and wireless network access on the other hand is the sort of thing "intelligence" agencies a just few years ago could hardly of dreamed about.

SpaceX to return NASA 'nauts to Earth with a splash

AJ MacLeod


"Three more NASA 'nauts will be sat in the capsule this time"

I suppose I had better clarify, since this horrific abuse of the fine English language has become far too common. They will be SITTING in the capsule! Afterwards, they will have sat in the capsule, and at some point in the future they will sit in the capsule.

GitHub redesign goes mobile-friendly – to chagrin of devs who shockingly do a lot of work on proper computers

AJ MacLeod

Re: I'll tell you what you want...

Skype was fairly revolutionary in that it was the first decent VOIP solution that could be used by granny - however that was all BEFORE Microsoft bought it. Ever since then it has been abandoned to the point that I very rarely come across a customer that still uses it ( pre-MS it was ubiquitous)

Honey, I built the app! Amazon's beta no-code dev platform is great for ad-hoc stuff, but not much else – yet

AJ MacLeod

Re: MS Access Redux

What, they're over for you? Actually I can only think of one customer still relying on one of these... Excel has been the application programming language of choice for years instead! Onwards and downwards...

Windows 10 Insider wondering where Notepad has gone? Fear not, Microsoft found it down the back of Dev Channel

AJ MacLeod

Re: Better alternative, skip MS

The trouble with that is it's not guaranteed to be on every machine you connect to; whereas for decades you could rely on "win-r notepad enter" and be typing away. It's like vi on any unix-like OS... you might as well learn it as no matter what you _like_ using, you can rely on "vi filename" doing what you expect.

Fasten your seat belts: Brave Reg hack spends a week eating airline food grounded by coronavirus crash

AJ MacLeod

Re: As a child of the 1970s, I have a fear of savoury dishes involving fruit...

Disintegrating frog or boiled to death prune... without access to DNA testing who could tell?

AJ MacLeod

Sorry for the downvote but I was feeling pretty good till I read your post and now I feel like vomiting!

AJ MacLeod

An added benefit is that they like to serve the "special" meals to those picky customers first, before shoveling out the standard fare to the rest of the cattle...

Logitech G915 TKL: Numpad-free mechanical keyboard clicks all the right boxes

AJ MacLeod

No numeric keypad = no thanks. In any case my own mechanical keyboard isn't showing much sign of wearing out yet and it's been clicking away since the second of October 1986!

Rich Communication Services: Nobody uses it, nobody wants it, but analysts reckon it's on the verge of a breakthrough

AJ MacLeod

There may be many things said against it, but something like this IS desperately needed. The reason SMS has been such a success is that for decades every mobile device has supported it. You don't need to create an account, download an app, or buy a certain overpriced brand of phone - it's just there, and you know that essentially anyone with a mobile number can receive it.

Like it or not, RCS has come closer than anything else so far to achieving this, and there definitely appears to be some gain in momentum recently. Apple supporting RCS would be the next biggest step, IMO... I'd hope that they could look at Blackberry and see the future for iMessage.

'iOS security is f**ked' says exploit broker Zerodium: Prices crash for taking a bite out of Apple's core tech

AJ MacLeod

Re: "Zerodium said for the first time that it would pay more for flaws in Android"

It's Friday morning and I may be even more thick than usual, but could you explain that comment (about multiple logins?)

Please, just stop downloading apps from unofficial stores: Android users hit with 'unkillable malware'

AJ MacLeod

Re: because you don't own what you own

That's not how ChromeOS works...

Gmail and Outlook sitting in a tree, not t-a-l-k-i-n-g to me or thee

AJ MacLeod

Running any kind of server is a bit of a pain of course but I'm not so sure it's all _that_ difficult. I certainly could never hope to provide the redundancy that Google supposedly have, but over a decade and a half of running various (mostly) small-scale mail servers I'm pretty sure that their total non-availability has still been less than GMail's IMAP and SMTP outage just today.

Far better to have lots of smaller providers dealing with far fewer accounts each, so that individual outages are much less widely disruptive.

Regarding putting up with Google et al's slurping... in my personal experience the vast majority of people sadly either don't know or even care, and the younger folk seem even less bothered than most.

AJ MacLeod

I'd suggest that what's required is something a few decades LESS "modern" - how about ditching cancerous authoritarian providers like GMail and Outlook.com and going back to completely standards compliant email services that don't bind you to provider lock-in or intrude into your entire online life?

You can get a mechanical keyboard for £45. But should you? We pulled an Aukey KM-G6 out of the bargain bin

AJ MacLeod

Re: Backlighting

It's one of the first things I always turn off on every laptop so equipped. Why on earth would I want light glaring from anywhere other than the screen? It's also a significant battery drain.

AJ MacLeod

Re: A decent keyboard is a decent investment

Mine is from 1986, made in Scotland and was rescued from a skip nearly 20 years ago. They really are pretty good...

Three things in life are certain: Death, taxes, and cloud-based IoT gear bricked by vendors. Looking at you, Belkin

AJ MacLeod

I have been struggling for years to convince customers that gadgets like this which require third party services to function are a waste of money... mostly unsuccessfully.

Then again, I've just been bitten by something similar myself this week - I've just had to replace my ten year old Blackberry phone as Vodafone are unable to get BIS to work since my contract changed. I was aware of and unhappy about the necessity for BIS for email to function, but it was the only smartphone available at the time which fulfilled my requirements and I suppose a decade isn't bad going for a smartphone...

(The saddest thing is that the phones now available are even less suitable than the ones around ten years ago!)

Microsoft decrees that all high-school IT teachers were wrong: Double spaces now flagged as typos in Word

AJ MacLeod

Re: Word processing programs can kern and should use n and m spaces

Just as well - you're supposed to put it in the washing machine, not your eyes...

Welcome to life in the Fossa lane: Ubuntu 20.04 let out of cage and Shuttleworth claims Canonical now 'commercially self sustaining'

AJ MacLeod

Re: @ErroneousGiant - I still don't see the purpose of WSL

Even better, you can ssh directly from the CMD prompt...

Rethinking VPN: Tailscale startup packages Wireguard with network security

AJ MacLeod

Perhaps the OP found the terminology a bit dumbed down? They're not IP "numbers", they're IP addresses... I admit it grated on me a little, I can't remember any occasion when someone else in the IT industry has referred to them as "IP numbers" when communicating with me.

Surge in home working highlights Microsoft licensing issue: If you are not on subscription, working remotely is a premium feature

AJ MacLeod

Re: It is all about Usablility

NX Client via SSH is not even nearly the same risk as a whole PC connected by VPN. You would need very specialised (and effectively worthless) malware (essentially a trojan copy of NXClient) running on the client machine in order to make any kind of use at all of the secured connection.

However, you are the one that's missed the main point of the article, which is about the licensing pitfalls and uncertainty involved with (in particular) Microsoft software and remote working. Open source software simply does not have these issues at all; use it on one desktop in your bedroom or ten thousand company laptops distributed across the world, nobody minds, nobody will come snooping about demanding an audit.

AJ MacLeod

Re: It is all about Usablility

Folk using NX don't require a VPN connection and if necessary can have a thin client to take home - all it needs is any old Ethernet connection plugged in and it works exactly as if it were on their desk at work.

This is not fantasy, I have customers who have been working this way for years... it's a myth that you absolutely require Windows on the desktop to run even a medium sized business.

AJ MacLeod

Re: NoMachine is a decent option

I like NoMachine too, but it's a bit expensive IMHO... it's a pity the various open source NX servers and clients have more or less died a death, they worked really well for quite a long time.

AJ MacLeod

Re: Open source never looked better

Yeah, but we didn't. And it's not a religious view - it's a rational conclusion based on over two decades of experience managing both alternatives...

AJ MacLeod

Open source never looked better

My customers who are on 95% open source setups (Linux on servers, thin clients on desks - other than the odd machine for one specific application) are in a very much better situation today than those who have stuck with a 100% MS setup...

Admins beware! Microsoft gives heads-up for 'disruptive' changes to authentication in Office 365 email service

AJ MacLeod

Re: Hmmmm....

OK, a bit of research says no, you still can't print from it. MS have been writing shoddy software for longer than I can remember, but that's a pretty impressive fail...

AJ MacLeod

Re: Hmmmm....

Can you print from the Outlook app yet?

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to save data from a computer that should have died aeons ago

AJ MacLeod

Re: Hybrid children watch the sea

"so as long as you could remember "Hugh, Pugh, Barney, McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub"

The snag is that there never was a Hugh - these were all surnames aside from McGrew who got his first name mentioned too. There were two actually "Pugh"s. I wish I could recall useful knowledge as readily as this trivia!

Oh ****... Sudo has a 'make anyone root' bug that needs to be patched – if you're unlucky enough to enable pwfeedback

AJ MacLeod

Re: SUDepressing

It kind-of already exists - OpenBSD's doas has a Linux port. I've been using it on a few systems and quite like it... it's not feature-compatible with sudo but it handles pretty much everything I've ever used sudo for.

There are already Chinese components in your pocket – so why fret about 5G gear?

AJ MacLeod

Re: Nokia

I admit I had to do a quick search for the info but the LG Prada had a capacitive touchscreen before the iPhone was released - not very long, but it was out there nonetheless. I still hate touchscreens as much as I did back then, even if they are far less bad now!

Apple's record on actual innovation is pretty bare considering the size and history of the company... I can't recall anything at all significant that they were the inventors of. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with that of course, but it's irksome when their marketing and devotees make such a big deal of how innovative they are...

AJ MacLeod

Re: Nokia

Remind me what was so new and unique about the iPhone when it was released to undeserving mortals? As I recall, everything it did was already available from other manufacturers; the only difference I can think of is that Apple applied their marketing / brainwashing expertise and suddenly the great unwashed suddenly decided they needed a phone like that too.

Need 32-bit Linux to run past 2038? When version 5.6 of the kernel pops, you're in for a treat

AJ MacLeod

Re: Can someone...

This is one of the most bizarre comments I've seen in ages... back when AMD first made 64 bit CPUs mainstream Open Source software was practically the only software available to take advantage of them! (It had of course been running on other 64 bit architectures for years, unlike the vast majority of commercial Windows software.)

No Mo'zilla for about 100 techies today: Firefox maker lays off staff as boss talks of 'difficult choices' and funding

AJ MacLeod

Re: How Sad

There have been many, many more stupid decisions from Mozilla over the past few years but they all come down to this: paying zero attention to their primary role, and zero interest (outright hostility actually) in/to their actual user base and real supporters.

This isn't Boeing very well... Faulty timer knackers Starliner cargo capsule on its way to International Space Station

AJ MacLeod

Maybe they could ask to borrow CuriousMarc's clock for the next mission?


Sure, we made your Wi-Fi routers phone home with telemetry, says Ubiquiti. What of it?

AJ MacLeod

It's not clear from your comment whether or not you know this already, but UniFi networks don't require vendor cloud services, mobile apps or cloud accounts either to configure or operate.

You can just run your own controller within your network (their software runs on a commendably wide range of platforms) and that's it - if you want to manage it from outside your network you can just forward the relevant ports or use a VPN.

I am dead against devices which require ongoing vendor support or licensing just to operate normally and was wary of UniFi with all the talk of "cloud" features but overall I've been pretty impressed over the past few years.

US customers kick up class-action stink over Epson's kyboshing of third-party ink

AJ MacLeod


The attraction for me personally (with a Brother all-in-one inkjet) and the third party cartridges I use is this:

1) The quality of the ink is exactly the same as the official Brother stuff as far as I can tell (which is what matters.)

2) The printer, despite being used less often than is good for an inkjet, has never gummed up, even slightly.

3) I'm not sure what your definition of "much" is, but when the official cartridges cost £53 for a colour pack and the third party cost less than £4.10, I'd say you couldn't possibly be more wrong.

Oh - one last point, the third party cartridges seem (visually/weight) to contain considerably more ink than the official ones and last what seems like double the time, although I haven't actual figures to put on it.

Twitter: No, really, we're very sorry we sold your security info for a boatload of cash

AJ MacLeod

The "trouble" is that while valid but disposable email addresses are easily generated and confirmed, most sites that take phone numbers as 2FA require you to prove that you can receive calls/messages on that number.

(I put trouble in quotation marks as being unable to sign up to this particular site seems to me like a benefit rather than a problem.)

Fairphone 3 stripped to the modular essentials: Glue? What glue?

AJ MacLeod

Re: Looks like a very good phone indeed

Ah, finally a new phone that doesn't cut into my hands in use! I find the run of the mill razor-thin smartphones horribly uncomfortable.

AJ MacLeod

The right hand "convenience button" on my Blackberry broke this year. Rather disappointing, it's only been in daily use for 9 years!

(Flying off the car roof onto the tarmac at 50 MPH might have had something to do with it, fortunately the left hand button wasn't doing anything useful so the camera is still quickly activated when required)

A challenger appears: Taiwanese devs' answer to Gemini PDA wraps a Raspberry Pi in a tablet

AJ MacLeod

Re: Blast from the past

I bet it's not as good as a Z88 in terms of battery life or typing accuracy... That thing was way ahead of its time in many ways. I personally would be happy to sacrifice screen size for a real keyboard - I just won't buy a device of this type (including phones) that doesn't have physical buttons.

IVE HAD ENOUGH! iQuit. Jobs done. Jony cashes out at Apple to run his own design biz

AJ MacLeod

Re: Might be beneficial

At that price, I'd want something more than just a really nice keyboard! My current keyboard (Lenovo "Preferred Pro" or something) was a whole £8.95 on Amazon and it's at least an order of magnitude or two better than any Apple keyboard I've used over the past 23 years...

What's up at Microsoft this week? Windows 10 builds of course, Skype screen sharing... zzzzz... New Flight Simulator?!

AJ MacLeod

You could always download the excellent FlightGear for nothing - Sopwith Camel and Nimitz both available...

Go on, feast your eyes on... HMRC's backend: 4,000 IT staff, its hookup with AWS and more

AJ MacLeod


I'm not sure it required 4000 people to write it, but I have been consistently impressed with the PAYE-RTI software HMRC provide for small businesses. It's straightforward to use, has been very reliable and most importantly is decently cross-platform, including support for Linux. Tax money well spent for once, IMO.

IT meltdown bank TSB: It's as good a week as any to announce we're taking back control

AJ MacLeod

Closing High Street branches

Absolutely brilliant move - eliminate the one reason that any sane person may have for becoming a customer! I have a better idea for saving cash and improving efficiency... fire everyone within the top 15% of salary level and let the people who actually make things work get on with it in peace.

Disk drives suck less than they did a couple of years ago. Which is nice

AJ MacLeod

I doubt it makes any significant difference, it's mostly not the interface that fails but the business end. I've had just as bad experience with Seagate SAS drives as SATA ones (probably worse, actually, if the percentage of SAS vs percentage SATA failed are considered.)

AJ MacLeod

Interesting - the results pretty well mirror my own experience, even though I'm dealing with far fewer drives (still hundreds of them.) Overall, I won't buy a Seagate drive if I can possibly avoid it; for well over a decade they have consistently been the worst in terms of reliability for me.

Most annoying is the way they seem to avoid logging real SMART failures - even obviously knackered Seagate drives will often pass an extended SMART test.

Then again, I won't buy a spinning drive at all if I can possibly avoid it - SSDs may fail in a more brutal manner but they have been orders of magnitude more reliable in my experience, even fairly ancient ones.

The D in SystemD stands for Dammmit... Security holes found in much-adored Linux toolkit

AJ MacLeod

Re: I use FreeBSD, and for good reason.

As recommended above, Void is quite BSD-like in many ways (including a ports-like packaging system.) It won't hold your hand in any way though, so maybe isn't the easiest way in to Linux; the documentation is fairly minimal but other than the init system and package management there's really nothing void-specific so there's tons of useful info online. (The Arch wiki is very good for example, though I don't personally like the distro.)

AJ MacLeod

Re: what?

PulseAudio got a bad reputation with me because despite claiming to do things I wanted it completely failed to deliver; not helped by the fact that the minuscule amount of "documentation" available was either wrong or useless. Jack works pretty well on the rare occasions I need that kind of really careful attention to audio paths and ALSA / dmix works perfectly well everywhere else.

AJ MacLeod

Re: Devuan user here

Void wasn't always so pure and untainted... in fact I hadn't realised until a month or two back that they'd abandoned systemd ages ago and so had ignored it up until then.

Which is a shame, as it turns out to be a great distro, a huge breath of fresh air in terms of lack of bloat. I'll stick with Gentoo for my desktop, but for lower-powered machines or those random laptops lying around Void is my default choice now.

Why is my Windows 10 preview build ticking? Microsoft reminds users that previews have timebombs

AJ MacLeod

Re: Also in this build...

I regularly remove Candy Crush (and the ten million assorted other abominations MS force feed hapless users) from new PCs only to see it "....Installing" in the start menu a second or two later. Usually I can win the race after uninstalling it the second or third time, after which is stays out until the next Windows update of any significance.



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