* Posts by Wexford

39 posts • joined 17 Jan 2015

C'mon SPARCky, it's just an admin utility update. What could possibly go wrong?


A while back I performed an in-place upgrade on a client's information management system. They were a not-for-profit and had invested little in IT; consequently the "server" was a random desktop host A with an at-capacity HDD, and file store itself physically stored on another hard drive in host B, UNC accessed in the software. Host B's HDD was also close to full.

Upon completing the upgrade, I wrote up a report along with nice drawings showing their system architecture, and a strongly worded caution that the file store was NOT on the "server" and to make sure host B was always switched on and DO NOT TOUCH THE FILE STORE FOLDER.

Whilst on call over xmas some time later, I received a panicked phone call from the client. He'd run out of space on the server, needed to store some things and found another computer with a big hard drive they decided to UNC map to...once he deleted some "file store" folder which obviously wasn't important, so there'd be enough space to use. You can imagine why he'd called our emergency number.

I gave him the bad news and suggested he go to his backups, after which I would assist in fixing the app side. The good news was, he DID have backups, it was xmas and nobody was there except him so there'd been no changes in several days, and he managed to recover everything. I then go to work fixing a bunch of in-app links - scriptable - and went back to watching the cricket while thinking about my on-call pay ticking over as the script ran.

I don't know if he was ever required to explain the bill my company would have charged (or, more likely, a big chunk of time deleted from our balance of paid-for-in-advance support hours).

Who needs the A-Team or MacGyver when there's a techie with an SCSI cable?


Late 90s, we did a similar thing. Late 90s, two servers in tower desktop FF, one with a CD-ROM drive and the other without. They wound up snuggling like lovers with the CD-ROM drive ribbon dangling between them like a strand of spaghetti in Lady and the Tramp.

Somewhere, Google's financial bods are playing on repeat... What do you want from me? It's not how it used to be...


Scratching around for a Monaco reference but I'm stumped.

Blackout Bug: Boeing 737 cockpit screens go blank if pilots land on specific runways


Re: a peculiar software flaw that blanks the airliners' cockpit screens

As suggesteded earlier by robin48gx...

tan(270) error infinite result?

A Notepad nightmare leaves sysadmin with something totally unprintable


Re: Replace, not insert

Upon starting in a new role as PFY in the early 90s, I was tasked with setting up a new lab and purchasing requisite Sun PC-NFS licenses. Noticing that the PCNFS.SYS files were only slightly different from each other, I found the "license" section of each file in a hex editor and discovered that I could create virtually infinite license files for the organisation, which I duly did as we set upon rolling out the network.

Nobody noticed that a fair chunk of cash (AU$60 a seat IIRC) was being saved as I kept quiet about it, and Sun didn't bash down our door seeking a license audit, but it certainly saved me a bit of time and simplified my network management by making up whatever licenses I needed instantly.

Y2K? It was all just a big bun-fight, according to one Reg reader


Another Perthite here, except I was on holiday near the other Perth at the time (Scotland...not the other other one in Tasmania) monitoring things back home which I'd assured the boss would be ok. We had some software patches to deal with, and everything was fine.

Except for the one patch that I'd failed to apply, being that of elm (yeah, the unix email client) which only I used, on the email server. As of midnight, all incoming emails were sorted to the bottom of my mailbox rather than the top, and it wasn't until after a couple of days' wondering why I'd not received anything that I realised. So, in the end, Y2K did cause some minor dramas for people who were expecting a response from me!

Don't look too closely at what is seeping out of the big Dutch pipe


A staff member where I worked was into calligraphy, and frequented a site called Pen Island. You might imagine how this looked in the visited URLs list.

Boffins hand in their homework on Voyager 2's first readings from beyond Solar System


Re: Empty space is not that empty

Late to this party, but the relative speed is something else to consider. The 10km/s is the Voyagers' speed, but it doesn't take into account the speed of what they collide with.

Those hydrogen atoms could have been hurled at us at near relativistic speeds from a geyser or some other cosmic event, which would give the collision potentially significant energy. I'm no physicist, but I'm guessing this could be interesting to calculate.

Or they might be on similar paths and speeds and lightly bump into each other with extremely low energy.

When the IT department speaks, users listen. Or face the consequences


Mid 90s and I managed a set of uni computer labs with student home directories mapped to H:, but also accessble via authenticated FTP ostensibly for off-campus access.

One day a student, then two, then a horde reported losing their files on the due date of an assignment - "it was there one minute, then it was 0 bytes". I had a look, confirmed the reports, and set about diagnosing potential Samba and/or PC-NFS problems. Couldn't find anything wrong, and the reports kept coming in. I asked a student for a copy of their assignment guide so I could try and replicate the problem.

Step 1: Save your work in H: (ok good advice)

Step 2: When ready to submit your assignment, open the WS-FTP application and log in (huh? Why would they need to do this)

Step 3: Drag your assignment file from H: into the WS-FTP window to upload your assignment (NO DON'T PLEASE DON'T)

Sure enough, as soon as the FTP daemon would open the target file for writing, being the same file it was reading from, it would effectively delete their work.

I sent an urgent email to the student distro list for that unit telling them NOT to do steps 2 and 3; saving it in H: was sufficient as a submission. Suddenly the lecturer bursts into my office and demands I retract and issue a public apology for my defamatory email and that I would be hearing from his lawyers if I did not. I refused on grounds of, y'know, it was correct, despite pleading from my boss to do so "just to calm the waters, yes I know he's wrong". I continued to refuse, with increasing gleefulness, in the face of continuing threats until the boss eventuall apologised "on my behalf" much to my annoyance.

Said lecturer also ran a small unit of Masters students who mysteriously received the same mark for an assignment. His head of school asked me to investigate, whereupon I discovered that the assignment files hadn't even been collected for marking. The lecturer (was) departed very shortly afterwards with many whisperings of academic misconduct circling, much to my pleasure.

FBI called in to investigate 2018 Mountain State mobile voting system hacking


Re: Voatz

I'm surprised it wasn't named Voatr, to be honest.

Clutching at its Perl 6, developer community ponders language name with less baggage


Re: doesn't matter who hates it...

"Enough rope to shoot yourself in the foot is a double-edged sword"

Upvoted for the triple mixed metaphor alone.

Sueball claims Tesla solar panels are so effective, they started fires at Walmart stores


Re: @Vogon

I think you might mean insulation batts?

Operation Desert Sh!tstorm: Routine test shoots down military's top-secret internets


Re: Recovering after loss of power - paper bootstrap.

Subject: Fire. "Dear Sir stroke Madam, I am writing to inform you of a fire which has broken out at the premises of..." No, that's too formal. [deletes] "Dear Sir stroke Madam. Fire, exclamation mark. Fire, exclamation mark. Help me, exclamation mark. 123 Clarendon Road. Looking forward to hearing from you. All the best, Maurice Moss."

Finally in the UK: Apollo 11 lands... in a cinema near you


Re: Amazing...

It's conspiracy theories all the way down. The cognitive dissonance is so painful, they'll always come up with something that seems rational (to them) when they have no understanding of what they're looking at.

You'll never convince them with reason or logic; they simply can't process rationally. All you can do is mock or pity them. The former is more amusing.

Oh snap! The road's closed. Never mind, Google Maps has a plan...


Upvoted for your turn of phrase alone.

10 PRINT Memorial in New Hampshire marks the birthplace of BASIC


Re: Working with Drs. Kurtz and Kemeny

My mind is blown more than it ought by the concept of BASIC being compiled. Yet, blown it is.


Re: In the UK...

My very first computer also, and my first proper exposure to coding by way of the BASIC programming manual that came with it. There was even a chapter at the end about Assembler, from which I really only learned that POKE could make the machine do interesting things.

Apparently the tape drive was relatively fast, going by observations made by friends who had different computers.

Idle Computer Science skills are the Devil's playthings


Wow, this is very similar to one of my own first-year shenanigans at uni. Except I was curious as to how much memory my user was allocated in this fancy new multi user system I was given access to, having only seen BBC Micro and an early MS-DOS.

I wrote a simple one line shell script that called itself with a counter that would display. I'd multiply the highest number it got to with the size of "sh" when I ran "top" and that would tell me. Except the counter kept running and running and running...except noticeably slower over time, to the point that Ctrl-C was dead slow. Meanwhile, people in the computer lab started looking up from their green screen terminals and asking each other "is [server name] slow for you?".

It was at that point I hurriedly left the lab. The BOFH pulled me up on it by changing my shell to a script that just displayed "Come and see me" on the terminal.

I wound up employed there doing computer lab support for students, albeit a few years later.

HPE's Spaceborne supercomputer returns to terra firma after 615 days on the ISS


Re: Admit it..

Or 13,000km. Hopefully your travel office folks will be on the ball and time your trip accordingly.

I'll just clear down the database before break. What's the worst that could happen? It's a trial



Only three syncs? You're brave.

Dedicated techie risks life and limb to locate office conference phone hiding under newspaper


Re: ALL my calls from shouty men

> I have always been baffled by my reputation for having" gravitas"

For me, it's being "enigmatic". Sure, I'll take that if it's being offered!

Hate e-scooters? Join the club of the pals of 190 riders in Austin TX who ended up in hospital


Re: I do not like these scooters

"I had to slow down to below the 25 MPH posted speed limit"

Implying that you were speeding and thus breaking the law? Not sure that you're in a strong position to criticise another road user.


Re: Make helmets mandatory - oh wait, we can't

Oh, I'm painfully aware of how dorky I look in my business clothes and bike helmet. But it's cheaper than a car, easy to park, free to recharge (at work), and fun to commute on, so on balance I've been very happy to have swapped the car for the scooter.

Try changing a tube on one of the bastards, though!

Asus: Yo dawg, we hear a million of you got pwned by a software update. So we got you an update for the update


Re: File dates

While agreeing with everything you've pointed out, this doesn't solve the problem if the source itself has been compromised, as appears to have been the case for ASUS.

Crew Dragon returns to dry land as NASA promises new space station for the Moon


"Having plucked a damp Dragon plucked from the ocean, the rest of the week's space news was dominated by a tightening budget will see commercial space seeking a large slice of NASA's Moon pie."

Wow, if you tried really hard I bet you could have tortured that sentence even more.

Uber driver drove sleeping woman miles away from home to 'up the fare'. Now he's facing years in the clink for kidnapping, fraud


I think the joke (if it was one) is a structural one. "Black cab driver" could be "a driver of cabs, who is black" or "a driver of black coloured cabs". By deliberately misinterpreting the intended noun phrase (the latter option), the joke is that the commenter above was being racist.


I'm sure social media facilitates the exchange of all sorts of dodgy tips between current *and* former participants in this and any other industry. And stop calling me Shirley.

Sure, we've got a problem but we don't really want to spend any money on the tech guy you're sending to fix it


That's one of the saddest tales I've ever heard. I flew out from Perth to Kalgoorlie two weeks ago and was back in the same working day, with a beer at the airport before returning. Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum!


Should have charged more to my room

Off I went to a tech conference hosted at a resort for three nights in 2001. Dutifully charged only meals to my room while paying for beers myself. While exploring the technical and TV services early on I noticed an "interactive" check-out option on the telly, which I used on my final morning to settle all my expenses which I'd then claim back at work. It was for a technical conference, after all.

As I left, I handed the key to the concierge, let him know that I'd checked out on the TV, and could I please have a receipt. I got a look of confusion in response, which eventually led to the manager coming around. Apparently the TV check-out had only just gone live that week and nobody knew how it worked yet. I confirmed that I'd entered my credit card number, verified all the expense items, and my receipt number was XYZ to present at the reception desk.

The manager shrugged, instructed her staff to issue me a receipt, I was gone. Back at work I was duly reimbursed and I kept an eye on my credit card statement. 18+ years later and I was never actually billed, but the reimbursement sure was nice.

Adi Shamir visa snub: US govt slammed after the S in RSA blocked from his own RSA conf


Re: So where would they move it to?

IIRC a transit visa like this is managed on-the-spot. I visited Cuba a couple of years ago (via Mexico City via LAX) and was warned that this might be a problem. As it turned out, to my surprise I breezed right on through with just a fee to be paid.

What's Farsi for 'as subtle as a nuke through a window'? Foreign diplomats in Iran hit by renewed Remexi nasty


Re: Seems like standard diplomatic practice

The Americans do it to protect us. And stop calling me Shirley.

Facebook cuts off independent political ad reviewers, claims security concerns


Re: How is this done ?

Try being less...robotic

As netizens, devs scream bloody murder over Chrome ad-block block, Googlers insist: It's not set in stone (yet)


Re: Google doing this might actually HELP Chrome dominate

That's a pretty risky assumption, given most users are lazy and will just move on to the next (read: competitor's) site rather than taking action of any kind.

If I could turn back time, I'd tell you to keep that old Radarange at home


Re: Pesky microwaves

On a school trip in the 1980s our coach broke down in the Western Australian outback (east of Carnarvon). The driver got on the radio, and wound up being picked up by a truckie in New South Wales, who relayed the message to the coach company.

Not the same range as NSW to Vietnam, but wow!

Staff sacked after security sees 'suspect surfer' script of shame


Re: And that's why...

Pfft, my IPv8 MITM laughs at your IPv7!

Dev's telnet tinkering lands him on out-of-hour conference call with CEO, CTO, MD


Re: Backing off

I ran a Solaris farm with NIS+ for directory services in the 90s. A cron job that ran every minute would check a file for updates to apply to mail aliases, then do a "nisping" in a loop to commit until the new alias showed up in the table.

Sadly I once made a change that, when someone deleted their alias via the front end, the damned thing would delete it then do a nisping in a loop to commit until the new alias showed up in the table...which of course it never did.

Once this loop started, the NIS+ database would get corrupted around two days later. It took me a few weeks of daily restores of the entire directory, during which emails would bounce because the user principals were missing, before I diagnosed the problem. I'd noticed a regular ticking noise coming from the server. "What's causing that disk activity?" I wondered and found the looping process.

Stay out of my server room!


Re: Your room has been repurposed...

That's great! When they fill up the storage room and need more space, there's an ideal spot with identical environmental conditions waiting to be used.


Racks are for files, not switches

Routine visit to our communications closet, only to discover the switches hanging at the side of the rack by their power leads, with the rack shelves themselves occupied by lever arch files.

Elon Musk: Wanna see a multimillion-dollar rocket EXPLODE? WATCH THIS


Re: It works at the circus

I signed up with The Register just so I could upvote this post.


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