Re: Good for another 110 years
I'll set a calendar reminder so my brain-in-a-jar can come back to this page in 2132 and check in on your brain-in-a-jar's progress.
66 posts • joined 17 Jan 2015
My first exposure to multi user systems at uni was a delightful learning and discovery experience, including that one could cat to /dev/ttyXX.
One fun bit was to construct a text file "Talk request from xxx" or whatever the format was, then cat an appropriately modified copy of this to two users' ttys such that each thought the other was sending them a talk request. There was a strong chance that at least one of them would "respond", leading to exhanges of "what, huh, why did you send that talk request, no YOU sent it..."
I did this very thing myself on the first day at a new job (my first actual job!) in the mid 90s. I was sat down at a desk with a grey pizza box and a monitor on it. Didn't look like it was switched on so I reached around the back and felt a power button, which I duly pressed. Nothing came on the monitor, and I didn't investigate further as the boss in the next office called out for me to come and say hello to another team member.
While I was next door, a flustered colleague went running past and into my office, then came back and complained that someone had turned the file server off. "That's terrible," I said, and resumed my conversation with the boss and colleague who were telling me that I'd have a new Windows NT 3.1 PC ready to go on my desk in an hour or so.
No idea why they had a file server sitting on the new kid's desk, but there you go.
Allow me to describe my very amateur theory of gravity as a "probability function".
My understanding is that gravity warps space, in such a way that it can be considered "compressed" as you approach the object/source of the gravity. Think of that 3d rendering of a gravity well.
As an "orbiting" electron "disappears and reappears" (I use quotes to describe what we observe but don't fully understand), there is a greater probability of it "reappearing" closer to the source of gravity on account of there being more, because it's compressed, space on that side of its nucleus.
The nucleus, by way of the strong interaction/force, is then pulled towards the source of the gravity by its electron. At a macro scale, objects thus move towards each other.
This has been bouncing around in my head for years, but I'm obviously not a physicist, and I've never had a forum in which to suggest this to someone who knows much more than I about such things to see what they think. Which would likely be "you really should have posted this as AC, you idiot".
It might be a (marginal) performance thing - the DWM is scanning the folders for an icon to use, rendering it against the background etc. Having observed actual performance hits from this in the 90s I've always opted for a single coloured background with as few icons on the desktop as possible ever since. It may or may not still make a difference in 2021 :-)
Dead middle of the 90s and I was supporting several offices, each of which had their own web server running on a desktop PC, located physically in the office somewhere because they hadn't yet let me build a proper data centre.
One such office team had their web service running on a desktop that sat beneath their desks, which backed on to each other. The web site would fail every morning, then come back no more than 30 minutes later. It was very much a work in progress - imagine those UNDER CONSTRUCTION images with an animated gif of a workman with a shovel and lots of <BLINK> tags. Yes, that kind of web site. So I wasn't too fussed until one of them asked me what was wrong. I asked if anybody was kicking a power lead out, given its location and the spontanous power-down that seemed to be the problem. Most definitely not, they assured me.
After some weeks of this, I happened to be in that office at 10:30 doing some generic desktop support, and one of the office ladies kindly offered me a cup of tea. Thank you, yes please, I responded, then watched as she pulled a power lead from a wall socket above the desk to plug in the kettle.
I was a Walt, and one particularly noisy academic with an even noisier new machine insisted that I install it in our data centre, to where he would remote access it via his less noisy yet still expensive laptop. I declined this suggestion on the grounds that it was an insecure device (he refused to allow IT to manage it and wouldn't guarantee he'd even run Windows Update monthly), and we could not trust it alongside our servers regardless of internal and external firewalling and wait what "you want your students to remote to it from anywhere". To my surprise and gratitude, I received the support of my boss and the dean, and his demand was denied. Happy story. The End.
The loud academic went past the dean to some clearly senior contact at the University, who saw to it that the noisy desktop was housed per his wishes in the central data centre along with storage, email, printing &c. Where, a few months later, thanks to its accessibility and unpatchedness it was duly hit with whatever remote exploit was popular at the time and set about DOSing the data centre via its dual Gbit NICs.
This would have been the biggest I Told You So of my career had the loud academic had his way originally. That being the case, the fallout of the half day campus wide IT outage was sufficent to produce a "just as well we didn't put it in our own server room" from the dean the next time he saw me.
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).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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!
Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022