* Posts by AJ MacLeod

532 posts • joined 11 May 2006


Microsoft: You own the best software keyboard there is. Please let us buy it

AJ MacLeod

Re: Just one feature please

The problem is that many of us use swiping to type nowadays as it can be vastly quicker than pecking at individual non-keys, and virtually none of the open source options support this.

I've been trying to use AnySoftKeyboard for the past month or two which does, but sadly it's pretty rubbish compared to Gboard etc - inefficient enough possibly to force me back to being spied on by Gboard again.

Fedora starts to simplify Linux graphics handling

AJ MacLeod

Re: Alpine Linux already switched from fbdev to DRM

It's a great distro for running on bare metal (particularly for servers) - no systemd, very reliable, no bloat, wide range of packages. It really reminds me of the olden days in all the good ways and it's my default for servers bare metal and virtual unless specific requirements preclude it.

Why the Linux desktop is the best desktop

AJ MacLeod

Re: One reason to stay with Windows - Outlook

-> There was even Netscape Communicator. What do we have now?

Seamonkey? Personally, I use Mutt and Claws Mail.

AJ MacLeod

Re: "Linux Desktop"

It was only "nerds and geeks" who knew they could alt-F4 to get out of their application on Windows 8 - ordinary users were utterly stumped when, having clicked on a tile to launch an "app", they found themselves drowning in an endless, bottomless full-screen ocean with no apparent way of getting out again.

Such users were of course too stupid to figure out that all they had to do was perform the correct magic wand wave gesture with the mouse cursor in the invisible magic area actually outside the screen to conjure up the "charms bar"

I've used some pretty weird UIs on Linux over the decades but never one so confusing or illogical as Windows 8...

Review: ASUS dual-screen laptop may warm your heart, will definitely warm your lap

AJ MacLeod

Rubbish "solution" looking for a problem

I set one of these up for a customer a while back, and found it immensely annoying for several reasons. Firstly, the extra screen is basically useless; it's ridiculously too small vertically and it's at a very awkward angle - you'd end up with RSI in your neck from looking up and down if you actually tried to use it for something.

Secondly, the touchpad; as I'm right-handed the location was fine for me but as it's abnormally narrow (it's portrait rather than square or landscape shaped) the buttons are not where you'd expect them to be. I spent the whole time trying to left-click with the right cursor key and wondering why it wasn't doing anything. To make it work you really need to have your thumb curled awkwardly under the rest of your hand to reach down to where the button actually lives - extremely uncomfortable. Sure you can use tap-to-click (and I normally do) but somehow on this laptop that felt less natural than trying to click with the button.

In summary, a completely pointless expensive gimmick. Far better would be a laptop with one sensibly shaped screen rather than two letterboxes of varying sizes.

Edit: I've just enlarged the main picture to see this model is very slightly different in that it doesn't have physical buttons for the touchpad... doesn't really change the main issue though.

114 billion transistors, one big meh. Apple's M1 Ultra wake-up call

AJ MacLeod

Re: I was there

The tracing part has been a colossal waste of time and money right from the beginning. By the time I ended up on the government's radar as having tested positive I was already on day 7 of symptoms (and had isolated from day one anyway.) There was zero point in either locating or telling anyone I'd been in contact with a week previously as by now they either had the virus or they hadn't... all that would be gained would be a bit of unnecessary anxiety and for the government an insight into my movements and contacts.

Needless to say I didn't return the calls from the contact tracers, and those who I'd visited in the period before becoming symptomatic (including an elderly lady on immunosuppressants) thankfully hadn't picked it up from me anyway.

Use Zoom on a Mac? You might want to check your microphone usage

AJ MacLeod

Re: What a surprise

Yes, I'd rather my browser (which is open source and sandboxed to a reasonable extent) handle this traffic, rather than granting their known to be dodgy software carte blanche access to my entire PC. I'd rather not use Zoom at all of course (and generally don't), but one doesn't always have much option.

AJ MacLeod

What a surprise

Even joining a Zoom meeting in a private browsing window makes me a bit uneasy, there's no way on Earth I'd actually install their software on any of my computers. It's not so easy if you're hosting a meeting though, not all the features are available in a browser session.

Meta Platforms demands staffers provide proof of COVID-19 booster vaccine before returning to office

AJ MacLeod

Re: Good.

For the record, my caps lock key is mapped to super as those didn't exist on PC keyboards when mine was made. I did my shouting the hard way with shift...

AJ MacLeod

Re: Good.

I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry at the many ludicrously sanctimonious people like ShadowSystems who completely refuse to comprehend the clear fact that being fully vaccinated and boosted DOES NOT STOP YOU FROM CATCHING OR SPREADING COVID, particularly the variant now most widespread. Sure, _your_ symptoms may be less severe, but that's about it.

For what it's worth, my father in law has just had a long-awaited operation cancelled... hospital too full of selfish unvaccinated Covid patients you ask? No, turns out that his recent Pfizer booster has caused his blood pressure to soar to insanely dangerous levels after a decently long lifetime of not having any health issues whatsoever. One in a million side effect perhaps? We know two others nearby who have had exactly the same problem arise after the same vaccination.

_You_ can stick whatever potentially deadly substances you like into your own body, just shut up and let others decide what they will do... it's frankly none of your business.

Pop!_OS 21.10: Radical distro shows potential but does not play nicely with others

AJ MacLeod

Re: "Pop doesn't install GRUB; it uses systemd-boot"

I highly recommend extlinux for your purposes - it's refreshingly simple to configure after the sprawling dog's dinner that GRUB2 has become and "just works".

Google advises Android users to be careful of Microsoft Teams if they want to call 911

AJ MacLeod

Re: filed an issue with Google support online. When she didn’t hear anything back

I must say that for the first time ever, earlier this year I actually got to speak to a knowledgeable and helpful Google support employee who fixed an incredibly frustrating chicken-and-egg merrygoround problem related to Google Apps/Workspace/whatever they're calling it today.

I admit I was utterly astounded, and this may be the only known instance of it... but it definitely happened.

Amazon accused of grossly underreporting COVID-19 cases to US labor agency

AJ MacLeod

Re: Infected cases

I think we actually mostly agree. My main problem is with the way data from these studies is reported, even within their own abstracts and conclusions, never mind the spin (and in some cases, outright and deliberate lies) governments put on them afterwards.

I am quite familiar with writing and publishing scientific papers from a previous career and am all too aware that published "science" is not the untainted non-political gospel truth that many wish to believe. There are some red flags that I've seen all too frequently in my browsing of the literature on C19, including; brazenly comparing best cases for the "desired outcome" set against worst cases for the opposite; making authoritative sounding statements where the error bars are so huge as to negate any real conclusion; excessive use of estimates and then later treating these as good hard data; and so on.

I will reiterate - I am not questioning that vaccines reduce symptoms for most people, I am not saying they are overall a bad thing; I am saying that the more I see data being distorted, and politicians making serious restrictions on liberty and the right to manage one's on body based on illogical and self-contradictory reasoning, the more suspicious I become.

AJ MacLeod

Re: Infected cases

Really? I think you mean that vaccinated people are less likely to experience symptoms than unvaccinated people. Also, your point about vaccinated people "recovering sooner" is spurious - infectiousness is not directly related to symptoms at all, hence the ten day isolation period regardless of how well or otherwise the individual might feel.

From personal experience... I (unvaccinated) recently had C19, infected by a double-vaccinated person who didn't realise they had it. My symptoms, pretty mild, lasted one night and one morning... I was no more or less infectious than the fully vaccinated person I caught it from except that I was better able to realise I was infected than they were.

I am not in general anti-vaccine (I was going to attend the one local drop-in session in the summer until I realised they'd advertised it barely a few hours beforehand and it was already over.) However, the amount of vaccine hysteria and nasty, insidious society-splitting pressure from governments; the outright lies and ridiculous attempts by academia to twist and distort their own findings regarding vaccine efficacy has made me glad I haven't had it and I certainly won't be getting it now unless by force.

CutefishOS: Unix-y development model? Check. macOS aesthetic? Check (if you like that sort of thing)

AJ MacLeod

My desktop has been NeXT inspired for a few decades now... the good old WindowMaker. Utterly reliable, negligible resource usage, highly configurable (without even resorting to editing text files, not that I would mind that either.)

Check your bits: What to do when Unix decides to make a hash of your bill printouts

AJ MacLeod

Re: £ vs #

I still fail to understand why anyone would go to the effort of writing double the number of strokes in order to avoid writing two perfectly normal letters...

More than three years after last release, X.Org Server 21.1.0 RC1 appears

AJ MacLeod

Re: Not Really Off Topic!!!

Hmm, I've tried x2go a few times over the years but never found it to work smoothly. I was surprised at how straightforward xrdp was to use in comparison...

AJ MacLeod

I have never put Wayland into the same category as systemd (few things are that bad)... on the other hand it claims to solve problems I don't have and after all these years completely fails to do the basics that X has done for decades. My original tentative optimism about it has waned - I don't think we'd be missing much if it went and quietly died in a corner somewhere now.

Arcan looks much more interesting...

AJ MacLeod

Re: Not Really Off Topic!!!

Without in any way detracting from your central point of the immense usefulness of remote X... RDP is actually not just for MS operating systems, there are servers and clients for *nix as well.

In fact, given the death of FreeNX I might end up having to use XRDP in production as a replacement - it actually seems to work very well. Feels kind of wrong though!

Macmillan best-biscuit list unexpectedly promotes breakfast cereal to treat status

AJ MacLeod

They've been making Weetabix in England for nearly 100 years, I think it probably qualifies as a UK product!

AJ MacLeod

Re: Who makes your biscuits?

Iced gems have been flavourless cardboard for as long as I can remember having eaten them - three decades at least. I'm sure party rings had a little bit of flavour (mostly sweetness) in them at one time though I was thoroughly underwhelmed last time I tried one.

AJ MacLeod

Re: Cherry Jaffa Cakes

Frankly anything (Oreo excepted) has to be better tasting than the conventional "hint of bile" Jaffa Cake. I'm sorry to have to say it, but it's true - they're revolting in taste, smell and above all texture.

AJ MacLeod

Re: Weetbix

The only fact obvious here is that your taste buds are broken! (I'll give you the Oatibix though, I dare say it's the superior texture you are appreciating.)

AJ MacLeod

Re: I am offended

Sorry to disagree but this is important - Clubs, Penguins etc are not biscuits, they're clearly chocolate bars (albeit with varying amounts of biscuit inside.)

Also - my love of gritty, fibrous wholemeal foods notwithstanding, Hob-nobs are like chocolate digestives made when the factory have run out of flour and are down to sweeping the yard for ingredients!

Sir Clive Sinclair: Personal computing pioneer missed out on being Britain's Steve Jobs

AJ MacLeod

Re: Ah young un's...

So for only four times the price you could get a "real" computer... makes you wonder why so many people today slum it driving around in rubbish Fords and Kias when they might be driving Range Rovers and Astons...

RIP Sir Clive Sinclair: British home computer trailblazer dies aged 81

AJ MacLeod


Surprised the (admittedly brief) article didn't mention the actually really good Z88. I rescued my late father's Z88 (box, printer interface, manual, PSU and all) from a house fire this year, must get a moment to power (nearly wrote fire, oops) it up again.

Such a useful format and machine that some folk are still using them for practical tasks even today...

Not too bright, are you? Your laptop, I mean... Not you

AJ MacLeod

Re: Ah, a first time user

It was probably made in Scotland too, like mine which will be 35 years old on the second of October. It was rescued from an Edinburgh skip in the late 90s.

New GNOME Human Interface Guidelines now official – and obviously some people hate it

AJ MacLeod

Re: Bug: "deactivate laser" and "destroy planet" buttons adjacent | WONTFIX

In WindowMaker I have one close button top right and a "minimise" button top left. If I want to do something more than that I just right-click the titlebar and choose from the many options there. Even then I normally use keyboard shortcuts to close and minimise... I have been bitten so many times by the close button being next to maximise elsewhere.

My biggest "accidental closure" bugbear is with my wife's chromebook which has a touchscreen and hardly any screen bezel... I inevitably close whatever's open as I open the lid!

Early Skype developer Jaan Tallinn splashes cash in latest funding for Matrix-based instant messenger Element

AJ MacLeod

I know what you're saying, but none of the above was/is end-end encrypted. That doesn't matter in the least for a lot of use cases of course, but it very much does for others.

Make-me-admin holes found in Windows, Linux kernel

AJ MacLeod

Re: The wisdom of MAX_PATH

I have seen problems caused by Windows' path length limitations countless times. Very long paths can arise very easily by entirely legitimate real-world scenarios - and who says anyone would necessarily be typing them?

Seven-year-old make-me-root bug in Linux service polkit patched

AJ MacLeod

Re: One of the many advantages of Gentoo

Don't worry, that one got ditched so many years ago I'd forgotten about it!

AJ MacLeod

One of the many advantages of Gentoo

in my /etc/portage/package.mask

#Kill Poettering's evil infections






A few years ago I had to "get involved" with polkit on a different system and the experience made me determined to rid all my own systems of it.

Here's how we got persistent shell access on a Boeing 747 – Pen Test Partners

AJ MacLeod

Re: Are there any passenger 747s still flying?

I realise you're probably quoting, but I've never really understood how people can write "one of the only" without their heads exploding.

Japan to start stamping out rubber stamps and tearing up faxes as new digital agency given Sept. 1 start date

AJ MacLeod

Re: Electronic Banking

Thankfully card payments are much easier now that the market is flooded with options like SumUp, Zettle etc.

The likes of WorldPay have been fleecing businesses for far too long... pay ridiculous sums up front for the terminal (which you then still have to return after the contract ends!), pay every month whether you take payments or not, pay a large chunk of the transaction value, handle all the PCI compliance stuff etc etc.

We only switched to SumUp a few months ago but so far it's been a night and day difference... even their most expensive terminal with data SIM was about 1/3 of the cost of the WorldPay one we had, no standing charges, only ongoing cost is the very reasonable percentage of each transaction. Refunds etc are free, payment comes through to bank pretty quickly too.

AJ MacLeod

Re: Barcleys allow this

Don't overestimate the Clydesdale bank who make all the others look superbly competent... thankfully they are nearly dead now though, supposing you could find a branch still open it's now a Virgin Money "store"

‘Staggering’ cost of vintage Sun workstations sees OpenSolaris-fork Illumos drop SPARC support

AJ MacLeod

Re: Solaris alltogether needs to die

I have to say I totally agree. I used then maintained a SUN network in the late 90s/early 2000s and Solaris was frankly horrible to work with. All the new machines bought after I took over were bog standard PCs running Linux which vastly outperformed the SUNs despite being a tiny fraction of the cost - not to mention being far easier to keep updated and having a much more pleasant userland. They ran both our own Fortran based CFD code and the commercial CFD software we previously used on Solaris.

What really surprised me was that our code ran faster on the Ultra10 running Linux compared to the same machine running Solaris. I did like the aesthetic though, and some of those monitors were nice.

As pandemic buying continues, Chromebook shipments soared 275% in Q1, says analyst

AJ MacLeod

Precisely! In between browsing The Register tonight I've been taking bookings, updating servers and VMs, responding to email and rolling out firmware upgrades to dozens of wireless access points. From my Chromebook, as it's late and I don't fancy being in my office right now... all of the above are done either in a browser or via SSH in a terminal - both of which are provided by ChromeOS.

Could I do my IT work with ONLY my Chromebook? Probably not. But considering that bought this device quite a few years ago as what some people call my "sofa laptop" I've done a huge amount of work using it - the several laptops I have specifically for work are hardly ever powered up, this one is so convenient.

10 years later, Chrome OS starts to look like a proper OS with hardware diagnostics and the ability to scan documents

AJ MacLeod

Re: Install bash Google then get back to me

If you want to, yes. I'm not really seeing your point here... I mean, this is something Google provide as part of ChromeOS, it's not something I've had to install from a third party source.

AJ MacLeod

Re: Install bash Google then get back to me

chronos@localhost / $ ls -lh /bin/bash

-rwxr-xr-x. 1 root root 539K Apr 13 21:11 /bin/bash

chronos@localhost / $ echo $BASH_VERSION


Apple iPad torched this guy's home, lawsuit claims

AJ MacLeod

Re: Whats the betting

Without disputing the point about the amount of dangerous electrical items on sale, few come with worse cabling than genuine Apple chargers...

Ever felt that a few big tech companies are following you around the internet? That's because ... they are

AJ MacLeod


You didn't run it on theregister.com?

VS Code acknowledges its elders: Makefile projects get an official extension – and VIM mode is on the backlog

AJ MacLeod

Re: yyp - waste of a keystroke!

Does the shift keystroke not count then? (Actually I didn't know that Y also yanked, despite having used vi in many variants for several decades)

LastPass to limit fans of free password manager to one device type only – computer or mobile – from next month

AJ MacLeod

I happened to notice LastPass was pre-installed on a new HP laptop I set up yesterday... anything that's part of the pre-installed bloatware package is seriously suspect in my view!

Personally I only really trust "pass" (passwordstore.org) as I can understand what it's doing. It's also minimalist and the most convenient password manager I've ever used. For situations where multiple people need to share password stores or widespread sync is required, bitwarden_rs seems to work well - I've never really felt comfortable with other people hosting my most sensitive data and self-hosting really isn't difficult.

Slack has entered the Matrix: Element builds a bridge to realm of encrypted, decentralised comms

AJ MacLeod

Nice to see Matrix getting some coverage - unlike Signal you can run your own server / network quite easily, and you can also choose to have it mesh with the wider Matrix world or stay entirely standalone.

Their focus on interoperability is a very important aspect, one which gives me hope that Matrix might just survive and expand...

Dropbox basically decimates workforce, COO logs off: Cloud biz promises to be 'more efficient and nimble'

AJ MacLeod

Re: Is it just me.....

"I can only imagine the whole concept was dreamed up by 6 year olds with no clue about computing to share cat videos with other 6 year olds."

Not so many years ago Dropbox actually worked very well indeed. I'd guess that was because it was still mainly a company run by people who knew what they were doing (i.e. not marketers, managers or financial "wizards")

In the past four or five years maybe everything has changed - forcing the use of one particular filesystem on Linux was the screaming siren that told me the company really was on the way out.

Another thing was the way they treated resellers (including me) outside the US - we ended up being fobbed off onto Ingram Micro and from there on it has been one long sorry mess of random invoices for random amounts and total loss of clarity on access to customer Dropbox accounts.

If you're a WhatsApp user, you'll have to share your personal data with Facebook's empire from next month – or stop using the chat app

AJ MacLeod


Better, use Matrix - you can run your own entirely standalone server if you want and choose from a range of clients. Encryption, voice and video chats supported too.

Raspberry Pi to anoint ‘Design Partners’ it will recommend for industrial applications

AJ MacLeod

More than one employee seems a rather silly requirement in my view...

The Pi has been a very useful device for commercial installations though, I've been using them for all kinds of embedded applications since they became available they've been extremely reliable (around 1% failure rate - probably caused by PSUs rather than the devices themselves)

Arduino is great and very reliable too, but the Pi being a proper linux box just makes so many network related tasks familiar and easy.

A tale of two nations: See China blast off from the Moon as drone shows America's Arecibo telescope falling apart

AJ MacLeod

Re: Amy Coney Barrett

"The decline of the USA in a nutshell."

To me your whole post of semi-coherent irrelevant rubbish is symptomatic of a mental illness at best. Shouldn't you be happily looking forward to the great new future shortly to be ushered in by your favoured political saviour? Oh no... Trump is already getting the blame for Biden's screwups pre-emptively!

(For the record I am neither American nor do I have any particular attachment to any political party anywhere.)

'Massive game-changer for UK altnet industry': BT-owned UK comms backbone Openreach hikes prices on FTTP-linked leased line circuits

AJ MacLeod

"(certainly I don't know of any obligation on BT to power your DSL in an emergency, only phone lines for 999 calls)."

I'm not sure whether that's not an obligation any more, or whether they are just ignoring it - but I do know that BT are now fitting FTTP to domesic properties with no battery backup at all...

End-to-end encryption? In Android's default messaging app? Don't worry, nobody else noticed either

AJ MacLeod

Re: There's Nothing Fundamentally Wrong With The Idea Behind RCS

"Even though, intrinsically, SMS and RCS also require you to use your phone number as your account identifier?"

Yes... RCS is a better SMS (roughly as good as BBM was for years) but if we're to replace these "legacy" methods of communication it'd be far better to replace them completely and not be tied to outmoded things like phone numbers or servers owned by one or more big corporations (there's no option for self-hosted Signal as far as I could see?)

In the meantime, for the bulk of my contacts I'll just continue to use SMS (and RCS where the recipient's device supports it) because it's there and more-or-less works for now.



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