* Posts by JulieM

876 publicly visible posts • joined 27 Nov 2014


Cinnamon and KDE sync version numbers in desktop sibling rivalry

JulieM Silver badge

Re: Single-click to open...

Single click to open a file. Move the pointer over a text box to type in it. Left click and drag to highlight, middle click to paste.

What I'd really like, though, is RiscOS-style "right click on a scrollbar arrow to go in the opposite direction". KDE used to have an extra down arrow near the top, which was almost as good, but didn't quite have the elegance of the original.

Bank boss hated IT, loved the beach, was clueless about ports and politeness

JulieM Silver badge

Re: bullshit detected

It looks as though you are asking for rope. How many metres would you like? Enter a negative length for unlimited .....

JulieM Silver badge

Re: bullshit detected

Tabs are necessary in Makefiles.

And I've seen too many CVs claiming proficiency in Microsoft Word, formatted for a paper size (216 by 279) that is used in exactly one country in the world and crucially, despite the best efforts of the Tories, not this one, where we still use 210 by 297 because that ratio is special, and with spaces used for text positioning. (One person deserves a special mention for changing the font size of some of those spaces to get finer alignment than would have been possible otherwise.) This is before I get onto the use of ad-hoc font changes as opposed to styles (meaning if they wanted to change the appearance of, say, all section headings, they would have to change each one separately).

Oh, yes, and for the absolute lolly stick in the dog turd, some of these even came in response to an advert that said "No MS Word .doc files. We are an Open Source outfit."

JulieM Silver badge

Common problem

In the days of dial-up modems, Ethernet ports were generally 10MB/s, with 100MB on high-end machines. And at those speeds, only pins 1, 2, 3 and 6 are used for data; leaving the middle pins 4 and 5 unconnected.

So I'm almost surprised no laptop manufacturer ever thought of "helpfully" wiring those pins of the Ethernet port to the modem, just on the slight off-chance of an RJ10 plug not being too loose to make any contact at all with the RJ45 socket. That'll save a few hundred support calls, yeah?

Obviously it would not be entirely without unintended consequences, like a miswired phone cable (e.g. RJ431 [UK] to RJ11, middle pins swapped with outer pins) potentially shoving ringing voltage up the Ethernet input -- or, for that matter, even a properly-wired one plugged into the right port, doing something similar to an expensive gigabit switch into which the laptop was also plugged at the same time ..... all of which, since it needed an incoming call under the right circumstances, could end up going undetected for a very long time .....

FFmpeg 6.1 drops a Heaviside dose of codec magic

JulieM Silver badge

Heaviside Layer

There is now an image in my mind of a bunch of ghostly, semi-transparent cats with wings in the sky, batting radio signals back down to Earth with their paws .....

Elon is the bakery owner swearing in the street about Yelp critics canceling him

JulieM Silver badge

Re: No Twitter

Especially given the possibility of showing material only to people already suspected of potentially being sympathetic to a cause, in the hope that they will naïvely assume everyone else visiting the same site is also seeing it (just like adverts on radio, TV, newspapers and walls) and falsely conclude it can't be that bad because no-one else is complaining about it.

UK government rings the death knell for SIM farms

JulieM Silver badge

Never going to work

It's simply never going to work.

All the hardware is already out there, and all the software you need to make it work is Open Source.

Hell, I've built a few of those devices myself -- and was so impressed, I even bought a little single-SIM one to add to my home Asterisk server, which already had an analogue telephony card to connect my little collection of old landline phones to. So you could dial a mobile number, and an actual, real GPO 746 would ring out ..... and you could dial some interesting things from the 746 .....

USB Cart of Death: The wheeled scourge that drove Windows devs to despair

JulieM Silver badge

Re: Finally!

If you can find the relevant information with `$ lsusb -vv` then you might be in luck.

If you feel really daring, you can even hack the driver so what it creates under /dev is based on the serial number.

How to give Windows Hello the finger and login as someone on their stolen laptop

JulieM Silver badge

How many times need it be said?

How many times need it be said?

A fingerprint (or any piece of biometric data) is equivalent to a login name, not a password. It's not secret, and it can't be changed if it becomes compromised.

It may not be feasible any longer just to lift a person's fingerprint, using graphite powder and adhesive tape, from something they touched and make a gelatin cast of it, using equipment anyone who does electronics is likely to have in their workshop -- I've not tried it lately -- but if there is something on a device protected by your fingerprint that someone is sufficiently desperate to get, probably the easiest way for them to get it is to use your finger. Whether or not it's attached to the rest of you.

UK's cookie crumble: Data watchdog serves up tougher recipe for consent banners

JulieM Silver badge

Re: Adverts on sites are so easy

Also, when you see an advert in a newspaper or on TV, everybody really is seeing the same advert.

When you see an advert on the Internet, other people looking at the same website with the same non-advertising content probably are seeing different adverts. And if your racist uncle sees some sentiment being expressed in an advertisement that he would have expected to make the usual suspects scream blue murder, yet they do not seem to be complaining about it, that might not be because it's socially-acceptable after all, but because the advert was deliberately targeted away from anyone the advertisers think might be likely to complain about it .....

JulieM Silver badge

Re: Legitimate Interest

Honestly, if you have sufficiently powerful hardware, it's probably best just to spin up a whole brand new, disposable VM every day, and create a new user for any site you really don't trust.

It all feels more than a little bit like keeping rice from sticking by cooking each grain in a separate pot; but you really don't know what's going on out there, and it's probably better safe than sorry.

JulieM Silver badge

Legitimate Interest

"Legitimate interest" is the worst, especially when they default to "on" and there is no "object to all" function, but this method usually works to turn them all off:

Open developer tools (command+option+I on Mac, f12 on Linux and Windows) and select Console.

Type the following at the console prompt (NB, capitalisation-sensitive):


(it should say something like "HTMLCollection" and a list of input elements)

for (i=0;i<Z.length;++i) Z[i].checked=false

(all the switches shown on screen should turn off)

Save your preferences and close the developer tools.

Net privacy wars will be with us always. Let's set some rules

JulieM Silver badge

Re: Hypocrisy

According to my DNS, which answers all requests on port 53 no matter what IP address they were supposed to go to, doubleclick has IP address .....

Lawyer guilty of arrogance after ignoring tech support

JulieM Silver badge

Thank You

Thank you! I thought I was the only one who did that.

Fortunately, Kate -- my editor of choice since about forever -- has fully configurable key bindings, so I only ever do that on other people's computers ..... or once on a new installation on one of mine.

Why have just one firewall when you can fire all the walls?

JulieM Silver badge

The Bacon Saver™

On any machine to which you don't have immediate physical access, you need a cron job that, once an hour, inserts a firewall rule right at the top that allows access on port 22 from the static IP of your home broadband.

The time between an ill-judged edit and the door back in reopening is still going to be the longest up to 59 minutes of your life, but at least you know there is a way back in.

Suits ignored IT's warnings, so the tech team went for the neck

JulieM Silver badge

Re: Fun with tie-wearers

Well, the first time I used Microsoft Excel, I did have to ask someone where "recalc row" was .....

JulieM Silver badge

Fun with tie-wearers

I once encountered a tie-wearer using a calculator add up a column of figures in an OpenOffice.org (yes, it was that long ago .....) spreadsheet. And not even a proper scientific one; just a four-function idiot-calculator, with oversized keys and probably drool-proof coating.

I had to leave the room for a moment for both our sakes. But then I had an evil idea. When I returned, I gently moved away the calculator and told him OpenOffice.org Calc had some extra features over and above what was available in the Microsoft Excel he probably was used to, and suggested he prepare to have his mind blown. Then I deleted his manual entry (which I had already clocked as incorrect, because he had entered one field incorrectly into the calculator), and shew him how to create a formula to add up a group of cells. And the computer put in the right answer.

I just hope when he started his next job, he insisted to use OpenOffice.org with its built-in formulas instead of Microsoft Office .....

Privacy advocate challenges YouTube's ad blocking detection scripts under EU law

JulieM Silver badge

Re: Why log in?

Surely it would be just as illegal if all the housemates were the same sex?

After nine servers he worked on failed, techie imagined next career as beach vendor

JulieM Silver badge

Re: what's 1 + 1

I bet you'll never guess the *actual* distance a client of one of my friends in another industry confidently described as "2 feet 13" .....

JulieM Silver badge

Re: what's 1 + 1

The only fix for that is to withdraw £80 just after every pay day every month, to force you to think in Base 10.

Still, all props to your friend for doing the maths properly. I remember, in a previous job, filling in order forms with a ball-point pen, and impressing the arse off a work experience kid by adding up the total without a calculator. Even if he did nearly lose his lunch when he saw just how close I dared bring my fingers to molten solder and fast-moving cutting tools .....

Millions of smart meters will brick it when 2G and 3G turns off

JulieM Silver badge

Re: The value of a smart meter

Key meters also don't need a person sending round to read them, and allow for a supply to be disconnected and reconnected without sending someone to pull out the company head fuse.

As far as load shedding goes, there has been some work going on in my area recently that looks suspiciously like replacing one cable big enough to serve many houses with lots of little cables .....

JulieM Silver badge

I like my key meter

I like my key meter.

It's true that I have actually to walk all the way up to it and look at it, to see how much I have got left; but I have a pretty good idea how long a pound will last me, and if I want to see how much a particular appliance is using, I have a plug-in device which tells me volts, amps, frequency, watts, VA and power factor.

I can pay for my electricity at any local shop where there is a PayPoint machine.

And if the worst should ever happen and one day I can't afford electricity, I know I can get myself reconnected as soon as I can raise the money.

Raspberry Pi 5: Hot takes and cooler mistakes

JulieM Silver badge

Re: I'm going to create a novelty cooling system for the new Pi...

Any clear liquid with a refractive index in the right range will cast a rainbow. There is nothing special about urine.

JulieM Silver badge

Re: Thermodynamics

What we have here is a perfect example of the n+1th Law of Thermodynamics:

For every simple energy calculation, there will be another scientist along shortly to explain why one of the simplifying assumptions is invalid.

More X subscription tiers could spell doom for free access as biz bleeds cash

JulieM Silver badge

Re: Personally, I don't pay for ads.

In a printed newspaper or magazine, the advertisements invariably stand still; you can fold them out of the way if you have to, and you can quickly turn over pages with nothing but adverts.

Also, everybody else who is reading the same paper will see the same advertisements; this means the publisher has little control over who they are ultimately shown to, and there is a kind of social filtering in place, insofar as racism, sexism, misogyny, ableism and plain old-fashioned dishonesty are likely to be called out.

JulieM Silver badge

Re: Personally, I don't pay for ads.

Can't you just pause the show at the beginning, and wait long enough before you start watching so as to be able to fast-forward through all the advert breaks without catching up with the live broadcast?

Buyer's remorse haunts 3 in 5 business software purchases

JulieM Silver badge

Re: Its integration thats the killer

Ah, yes.

A former employer of mine used to have an ancient but reliable minicomputer running PICK for their stock control system, accessible from simple dumb terminals.

They replaced this with a Windows-based system that was so proprietary and opaque, they found it necessary to employ temporary staff to do nothing but recreate verbatim on the new system every SKU that existed on the old system by retyping everything from printouts -- there was simply no way to import data from a text file generated by plugging the serial cable that would have gone to the printer on which they had been printed into a PC and casually asking it to run off a report. (And yes, by the time cast-off 80286 PCs had begun replacing some of the dumb terminals, some of the shop floor staff were writing their own little BASIC and C programs to simulate keystroke sequences to the stock control system and capture output from it.)

Nobody actually liked the new system, and I left that hellhole shortly after the full changeover had been postponed for the second or third time.

JulieM Silver badge


I honestly cannot understand why anybody, in this day and age, would choose to pay for software.

When I don't pay for a piece of software, I get the full, annotated Source Code; the rights to enjoy the use of it, study its internal operation, share it with my neighbours and adapt it to my needs; and its developers treat me as an equal. And if the practical exercise of any of these rights requires a little more skill than I can muster, I have the right to employ someone to help me. If I try it and discover I don't like it, all I have lost is the time taken finding out.

If I were to pay for a piece of software, I would get told exactly what I could and could not do with it, how many people were allowed to use it, and possibly even how powerful a computer I could use it on; I would not get the Source Code; I could not share the software with anyone else; and I would have to alter my workflow to match the software because I am neither allowed in principle, nor (for want of Source Code) able in practice, to change the software. And if I decided I did not like it, the vendor will not usually offer a refund; the only way I could recoup some of my losses would be by selling on the software to some other mug punter. Some vendors no doubt would even try to prevent me from doing that, if the Law of the Land did not make it crystal clear that they were not allowed to.

It boggles my mind that a a person could have so little respect for themself as to put up with all those restrictions, when there are alternatives out there.

So this one time, at Bandcamp, half the staff were laid off

JulieM Silver badge

Well done with the headline

One of these for your headline writer!

One door opens, another one closes, and this one kills a mainframe

JulieM Silver badge
IT Angle

Re: IBM, too, maybe...

A very long time ago, I found myself in the driving seat of a minibus, made from a Ford Transit, that somebody had got stuck on a beach and was now just churning up sand from the rear wheels (I said it was a long time ago .....) Even although I was the only one in the group without a driving licence (and therefore blameless), I was also the lightest .....

(I got it moving, though!)

JulieM Silver badge

Re: Fork lift trucks

How bad is it, on a scale 0-10, that I knew exactly what that video was before I clicked the link?

JulieM Silver badge

Re: Tech support call

Pro-tip for next time: The air conditioning would have dried out the server room by itself without the heating!

Just turn it down to single digits, or as low as it will go. Cold air can hold less moisture than warmer air.

A dehumidifier actually works by chilling the air, and the excess moisture precipitates out onto the evaporator as ice crystals. (The difference between a dehumidifier and an air conditioner is, a dehumidifier then blows the freshly-chilled air straight over the condenser, and puts back the heat it extracted. A fixed air conditioner has the condenser positioned outdoors. A heat pump is more or less the same, but the flow of refrigerant is reversible so it can make outdoors cooler and indoors warmer. A portable air conditioner blows the freshly-chilled air back into the room, and a separate stream of air over the condenser and out of a window via an exhaust hose; if you leave the exhaust disconnected, it turns into a dehumidifier.)

SpaceX accused of paying less to women and minority engineers

JulieM Silver badge

Re: I just don't get this....

Or, we could just have a law requiring everyone with the same job title to be paid the same amount after all deductions.

Maybe even a law requiring the lowest-paid employee in a company and all its suppliers and contractors to be paid no less, after all deductions, than one-fifth of the net amount paid, after all deductions, to the highest-paid employee.

Microsoft gives unexpected tutorial on how to install Linux

JulieM Silver badge

Re: NT "Personalities"

If Windows NT was really based on VAX/VMS, then why, for the love of all that is sensible and wholesome, did it ditch the one absolute killer feature of VMS -- file version numbers?

Everyone (except VAX users .....) has accidentally overwritten a file. As a feature, it literally sells itself.

Workload written by student made millions, ran on unsupported hardware, with zero maintenance

JulieM Silver badge

Secondary Severity Indication

If the printout is too dark to read, it means "save yourself" .....

JulieM Silver badge

Many years ago

Many years ago, I spent an afternoon writing a program in Visual BASIC for DOS (a horrible programming language, by comparison with the BBC BASIC I had learned, but it turned on a light in my mind as to why so many people seemed to hate on BASIC) to automate a task that would have taken about half an hour to do by hand.

And even although I would have to do that job rather more than eight times in my career, I still got a bollocking for taking too long.

But my program worked well. Very well. I shew it to my colleagues, and they started using it. They were still using it after I left the company; and for all I know, they might still be using it, if they are still using the same awful proprietary software they used to use, and if it hasn't changed its data format too much in the meantime.

Microsoft does not want ValueLicensing CEO anywhere near its confidentiality ring

JulieM Silver badge

You deserve better

Look, it's really simple.

I have never, ever paid for a piece of PC software in my life, and I see no compelling reason to do so.

I've seen people who paid for software that did not really do anything special that they could not have had without paying; and then to add insult to injury, the vendors of that software tried to restrict what they could do with it.

Every piece of software on every one of my computers was developed by someone who treats me as an equal, and fully respects my rights to enjoy the use of it without restrictions, study its operation, share it with my neighbours, adapt it to my needs -- and, in case I am not as good a programmer as them, or want for time, to delegate the exercise of any of these rights to a third party of my choosing.

Don't you think you deserve the same rights too?

Police ignored the laws of datacenter climate control

JulieM Silver badge

Re: Fun with magnets.

Are you sure it wasn't a storage screen?

Conventional mono monitors use only a single electron beam, so don't need a shadow mask (which is what requires degaussing in a colour CRT).

The Tektronix 401x series graphics terminals used a bigger version of an oscilloscope storage screen, where a dot of phosphor struck by the beam with sufficient intensity carried on glowing afterwards until the whole screen was cleared. On the oscilloscopes, this was done electrically, by removing the voltage from an electrode near the screen. It's possible the screen clearing on the bigger CRTs in graphics terminals could have been done magnetically, which could be mistaken for degaussing.

Scripted shortcut caused double-click disaster of sysadmin's own making

JulieM Silver badge

Hard lessons

That which was hard to learn, will be even harder to forget.

I recently had to modify a script I wrote to extract files from disc images, after I mistyped a filename and overwrote something important. It was an old script -- and only by sheer, blind luck that I had managed not to do this sooner.

Still, adding an -e test and a yes/no prompt at least provided a pleasant diversion before the unenviable task of recreating the changes lost since the last backup (so only a morning's work, but it had been a busy morning).

You've just spent $400 on a baby monitor. Now you need a subscription

JulieM Silver badge

Re: "the sudden imposition of subscription fees"

My primary objection to having a Smart Meter fitted is the loss of payment options.

Right now, I can top up my Actaris key meter at any PayPoint outlet; such as my local newsagent, which is open until 21:00 every night, the 24-hour petrol station a little further away, or various shops in town.

But my electricity supplier told me Smart Meters can only be topped up at a Post Office. The nearest of which is about 25 minutes from my workplace (the one near my home closed down some years ago and is now a florist's shop, after a long spell as a barber's shop), opens after I start work and closes before I finish.

Seeing as I get an hour for lunch and the Post Office often has queues longer than ten minutes, a smart meter would leave me effectively unable to pay for my electricity.

At least the supplier agreed with me that under my circumstances, a Smart Meter would not be an improvement.

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

JulieM Silver badge

Re: claimed it had received no customer complaints (which we find hard to believe)

Are you sure it's not nul nul eins, act nul neun, fumf sechd srei, viermal nul?

(Beer if you get the reference. Yes, I'm that old.)

JulieM Silver badge


NOP was EA on the processor I learned on. One of these if you did too -->

(Things get interesting on a processor where every instruction has a condition field. You probably want there to be an "always" condition; and it just keeps the silicon simple also to have a "never" condition. This means your instruction set is effectively peppered with lots of NOPs.)

Getting to the bottom of BMW's pay-as-you-toast subscription failure

JulieM Silver badge

Re: Moving House

There is no need to feel sorry for artists whose CDs are on sale in second-hand shops. They already got paid the first time the disc was sold.

You don't have to pay your electrician every time you switch a light on, or your plumber every time you flush a toilet.

JulieM Silver badge

Let me put it this way

It's the late 1960s or early 1970s, and you and your slightly-richer neighbour are taking advantage of the latest developments in high-fidelity sound reproduction.

Your neighbour buys the latest FM stereo radio tuner.

The sound quality is truly impressive, compared to a MW portable, and when the stereo switch is flicked and the little red light turns on, you really can hear where each instrument is positioned across the sound stage; but it's a wee bit too expensive for you. So you buy a sister model, which costs just over half the price of your neighbour's fancier one. It only receives stations in mono, but can be upgraded to stereo by an accredited dealer at a later date. The total cost will end up more than buying a stereo tuner in one go; but at least you will get to listen to some of that frequency-modulated goodness in the meantime, albeit in mono.

How would you feel if you discovered the instructions for the dealer to perform the "upgrade" consisted of snipping a wire linking the two audio outputs and removing a piece of black card that was blocking the light from the "stereo" bulb?

JulieM Silver badge

And a 2CV actually sends the power to the correct pair of wheels!

If you pull something, it can only possibly come towards you. If you push something, it has a full 180 degrees' worth of directions to choose from -- especially if it has steerable wheels, and the direction in which you push it does not match the way the wheels are already pointing. See: supermarket trolleys. (Yes, we know about differential gearing. The point is, the wheels want to turn at the same speed in the absence of any compelling reason not to; and a pair of non-driven, steered wheels somewhere roughly in the direction it's trying to move is not always as compelling as you might think.)

Scared of flying? Good news! Software glitches keep aircraft on the ground

JulieM Silver badge

Re: More

That sounds suspiciously like an offer to hold someone's beer .....

JulieM Silver badge

Re: At least three systems are required

First system sees duff data, says "Your problem, meatbag", copies duff data into backup system, hands over shuts and down in a sulk.

Backup system sees duff data, says "Your problem, meatbag", copies duff data into second backup system, hands over shuts and down in a sulk.

Second backup sees duff data, says "Your problem, meatbag", hasn't got another backup system to copy duff data into so just shuts down in a sulk.

UK air traffic woes caused by 'invalid flight plan data'

JulieM Silver badge

Re: Expertise

Ah, yes; but that doesn't produce a slowly-brightening-and-dimming map of the site on screen and a real-time count of the number of illegal characters detected like the computers in the movies.

JulieM Silver badge

Re: Expertise

Unless (1) the programmer used 'single' speech marks in their naïve quoting and (2) that column is the last in the table Flights, the whole command line would fail, and `DROP TABLE Flights` would never be executed.

JulieM Silver badge

Re: There is something else going on, that we haven't been told about.

That's precisely the trouble: stupidity alone cannot adequately explain the fact that it worked for this long without a problem of this magnitude.

This can best be described as a trans-Hanlonian moment.