* Posts by molletts

82 posts • joined 20 Jan 2016


Your snoozing iOS 15 iPhone may actually be sleeping with one antenna open


Re: It appears to be difficult

A simple "No features of this device work when OFF " message would explain the issue and allow the user to make a choice.

And yet there would still be people who would whine that the alarm didn't wake them up or they can't pay for stuff or they have to cope with the unbearable hardship of having to carry a separate key for their car or whatever when they've used the "turn off fully" function...

US Space Force unit to monitor region beyond Earth's geosynchronous orbit


"Providing airspace security"

And spacespace security, I guess.

Not to dis your diskette, but there are some unexpected sector holes


Re: Love "Duh!" moments! It's the techie life that chose me!

I can't remember whether it was Amstrad Action or one (or more) of the books I had that used it but I seem to remember having a program that echoed a 16-bit checksum (I think it was literally just a sum of the bytes, not anything fancy like a CRC) every time you entered a line of code or after every line when LISTing a program. You could then quickly cross-check that against the one printed in the mag/book.

Very useful when entering a long listing.

If you fire someone, don't let them hang around a month to finish code


Was he there to optimise an existing codebase? Maybe they asked him to apply some polish to the code and he misread the request...

*ba dumm tshhhh* I'll see myself out.

Zero trust? Not yet a must for most IT departments


Re: What exactly does Zero Trust mean?

They'll be marketing firewalls as software-defined airgapping next.

Proprietary neural tech you had surgically implanted? Parts shortage

Black Helicopters

Re: Secret

Does it say Inmos on the top?


Oh crap! Er, I mean, "Whup whup whup whup!"

Have you tried restarting? Reinstalling? Upgrading? Moving house and changing your identity?


50p per foot

Does it cost more when you extend it? :-P

Breath of fresh air: v7.3 of LibreOffice boasts improved file importing and rendering


Re: Download failed

I sometimes get weird download issues with the LibreOffice torrents (I seed all the "current" versions using spare bandwidth on my home server) - they get to 99% then go back to, say, 92% and re-download the last few MB. If one of them does this, it'll likely get stuck doing it repeatedly for hours before eventually completing successfully. I've never had this with other torrents (I also seed a few Linux distros' ISOs and some big X-Plane sccenery files).

Not looking forward to a greyscale 2022? Then look back to the past in 64 colours


At one of my previous workplaces, I sometimes used to move my old Volvo 440 (which had power steering) from my allocated space near the top of the fairly-steep car park down to the (un)loading bay at the bottom without starting it. Both steering and brakes required significant effort when there was no hydraulic assistance but fortunately my previous car had been a 1986 Vauxhall Astra which was rather tank-like in construction and I still had the muscles from it.

I've never tried doing this in my S60... I suspect it would be nearly impossible, partly because of the extra weight and partly because I've gone soft in the intervening years!

(To get back on topic, the 440 was in "Silver Gold Metallic" IIRC. I think it was registered as "silver" and that's what it looked like - until you parked it next to an actual silver car. The S60 is something like "black sapphire", registered as "black" and, again, it just looks black except when it's beside a black car.)

Thank you, FAQ chatbot, but if I want your help I'll ask for it


Re: I am here to help. What can I do for you today?

The type of phone auto-attendant I hate most is the bastard child of the two - a limited selection of options which you choose not by pressing a number but by saying a word or phrase. Someone invariably comes and hangs around by my desk just as I'm navigating one of these and gives me odd looks when I start saying seemingly random, disjointed words separated by long pauses. "Support"... "Business"... "Networking"... "Yes"... It's even worse if I have to say a long serial number or something: I know from experience that I can't just read it out naturally - for it to be reliably recognised, I have to say. each. digit. as. if. it. is. a. separate. sentence.


Re: I am here to help. What can I do for you today?

You think a 30-second loop is bad? The Volvo Insurance line had about a 10-second muzak loop last time I called it. I had to wait ages (and boy, does the short loop make it seem even longer) to activate the free "drive away cover" when I last bought a Volvo.

Fans of original gangster editors, look away now: It's Tilde, a text editor that doesn't work like it's 1976


Sledgehammer to crack a walnut

You should see the walnuts from my neighbours' tree. I picked some "fallers" up a few years back, eagerly anticipating lovely sweet, soft nuts just like the ones we used to get from "Auntie Pam"'s tree when I was a kid and nothing like the bitter, dry things you get in the supermarket. I had to use a bench vice to crack them. The bloody nuts were the size of peas; the rest was solid shell. Just for laughs I put one under the wheel of my car and drove over it - it survived intact.

What came first? The chicken, the egg, or the bodge to make everything work?


Sounds familiar - I had to bring an unfamiliar system at a small customer site up from cold last year. The Hyper-V cluster wouldn't come up because it depended on DNS for the nodes to find each other (and probably AD for configuration); the DNS servers were VMs in the cluster...

Fortunately, I was able to attach a keyboard and monitor, log in locally on one of the hosts and manually start one of the DCs. Once both nodes noticed that they now had DNS, they started talking to each other and everything sorted itself out.

(Actually, "from cold" is probably not the best description - all the switches, the router and the SAN had started up automatically when the power came back on goodness-knows-how-long before I got there; the office-style air conditioner needed to be turned on manually by pressing a button. The tiny room was absolutely baking and the shrieking of the fans in the switches was deafening.)

India reveals home-grown server that won't worry the leading edge


Re: I misparsed "BaaS"...

I read it correctly (and even guessed what it stood for correctly) and immediately began wondering whether the Regism for users of Blockchain-as-a-Service will be BaaStards.

EasyJet flight loadsheet snafu caused by software 'code errors' says UK safety agency


Re: Weight of passengers

Prince Harry was also a helicopter pilot - he flew the Apache (a pretty cool chopper by all accounts) in the Army Air Corps.

And yes, speaking as a fixed-wing pilot, helicopters are hilariously hard to fly.

Don't touch that dial – the new guy just closed the application that no one is meant to close


Input focus stealing

What the hell is it with the Office 365 web version of Outlook where some random part of its UI suddenly gets focus while you're typing an email and not only swallows several keystrokes but acts on them as commands?! If you're lucky, they just get redirected to the browser UI and you find yourself doing a "search within this page" but sometimes you end up deleting the message you're replying to, archiving another one, snoozing one, emptying the folder...

At first I thought it was either me palming the touchpad on my laptop (although I've never had a problem with that in the past, but maybe the anti-palm thingy had stopped working...) or using an "unsupported configuration" (the laptop runs Linux). Then I had exactly the same problem while using it on a Windows 10 desktop so it can't be either of those things.

I'm seriously tempted to defy the company standard practices and use a real email client.

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


Re: HP LaserJet 4

Yep, got a 4M Plus, saved from the skip at work about 15 years ago. Sadly, it's started acting its age in the last year or so - it's printing dark-grey-on-light-grey. I haven't yet had time to investigate properly; I suspect it may be the HV PSU dying.

A speech recognition app goes into a bar. Speak up if you’ve heard it already


Re: Bunker

"Chain free" in the context of some of the previous posts about the potential uses for the bunker could be taken to mean that it simply hasn't got its fixtures and fittings yet ;)

Try placing a pot plant directly above your CRT monitor – it really ties the desk together


Re: Your headline reminds me...

I was once asked, by a boy who had recently arrived from the southern portion of Africa, if I had a stiffy that he could use. The sheer unlikeliness of being asked such a personal question out of the blue by someone I barely knew (together with an awareness of the variations in English from one place to another, my Dad having once related a tale of his own faux-pas involving an eraser on a business trip to the USA) alerted me that the word almost certainly meant something different to him!

He was more than a little embarrassed when, after he'd managed to explain what he needed (a floppy disk), I explained to him what "stiffy" meant to me. It became something of an in-joke between us in the end - everyone else wondered why we found floppy disks so amusing.

How many remote controls do you really need? Answer: about a bowl-ful


Touch sensitivity

I feel your pain... My monitors at work have silly touch-sensitive pseudo-buttons on the bottom of their fascia. Every time I reach underneath the monitor for a pen or a piece of scrap paper or whatever, it switches to another input, opens the menu, brings up a grid overlay or simply turns off. Then I have to squint at the tiny black-on-black embossed text and fumble around under the monitor to get it back to normal.

<mode mood="grumpy" age="old" gender="male">WHY?! Just give me damn push-button switches that I have to PRESS when I want them to do something and which give me some tactile feedback each time I do press them.</mode>

Who knew that hosing a table with copious amounts of cubic metres would trip adult filters?


Re: Inside joke?

One of my ATPL ground school instructors used to get very annoyed (quite understandably) at all the sniggering that occurred every time he mentioned the fast erect button on some gyro instruments.

I know it's immature, but I still find it amusing.


Re: Cubic metres? cm^3? ?? What is its abbrev.??

... the weird pattern matching on Fanfiction.net...

That must make life difficult for Dick Tracy fans.

Given the way fanfic seems to lean, judging from the few times I've been persuaded, against my better judgement, to dip my toe in the slightly-murky waters (and usually regretted it), I'm amazed that there's enough left after it's been filtered.

Reminds me of something a garden-bird-enthusiast friend told me about - he and a group of like-minded people once tried to set up an online discussion group but got fed up trying to find ways of discussing the mixed flocks of tits that regularly descended on their feeders without having their messages rejected for profanity.

He was a skater boy. We said, 'see you later, boy' – and the VAX machine mysteriously began to work as intended


Re: The need for speed

... run the car at high revs for a bit to burn things out.

Commonly known as an Italian Tune-Up.

Aw, Snap! But you should see the other guy – they're in dire need of a good file system consistency check


Re: Rocket science or crash

In this case, it's almost certainly a drive or interface failure. The sign appears to have an NCQ-capable SATA drive which is returning bus errors to the block device layer in response to both read and write commands, leading to I/O errors in the filesystem layer. The automatic fsck run during the startup process (probably triggered by the filesystem having failed to unmount cleanly due to drive errors last time the machine shut down) failed because of the I/O errors so the init script is asking for human intervention.

Das reboot: That's the only thing to do when the screenshot, er, freezes


my young niece (2yo, I think) trying to do pinch-to-zoom on a picture in a book

Reminds me of an occasion in about 2004 when the school's internet connection was down and a Year 8 (12/13 years old) class were in the library to do research (which would normally have been done in the ICT suite by copying & pasting from random websites into their essays then handing it in as their own work without even checking if it was actually relevant). I heard one of the children ask "How do you search it?" while staring bemusedly at a fairly hefty reference tome.

Mirror mirror on the wall, why will my mouse not work at all?


Re: Call in the kids

"A six-year-old could figure this out! Someone fetch me a six-year-old, quick!"


"Remove before use"

Some years back, having gone down to a department at the school where I worked to sort out some issue or other, I suffered a rare attack of generosity (maybe there was something odd in the food that day...) and offered to take the box of empty toner cartridges, which I'd noticed was overflowing, up to the recycling box for them as it was on my way back to the IT office.

As luck would have it, one of them fell out of its black bag as I transferred them to the recycling box and I noticed that the pull-tab seal was still hanging out of the side. This prompted me to check the rest of them - about 80% still had the seal in! (I also emptied the recycling box and retrieved a few more.)

Cue a trip back down to the department and some inquiries about who normally replaced the toners... Goodness knows how long they'd been doing it! (To be fair, the pull-tab didn't actually say, "Remove before use.")

Square peg of modem won't fit into round hole of PC? I saw to it, bloke tells horrified mate


Re: VGA Plug Screws

The designer of that must have been learning his trade before moving on to design my old Western Digital (!!) MyBook external hard drive. He upped his game with that - I had to resort to similar measures just to get one plug in. The eSATA connector is deeply-recessed; the hole in the case through which it is accessed is exactly the same "thickness" (the "narrow" axis) as the the metal shield of the eSATA plug, not allowing for the plastic moulding surrounding the connector. I had to cut the moulding away almost back to the solder joints in order to get the plug to go in far enough to make a connection.

Actually, I think he may have had a hand in designing an MSI (ok, fair enough) dual-Slot 1 motherboard I once encountered. You could only fit one of the two CPU support brackets to the second slot because there was a large electrolytic capacitor positioned between the slot and the bracket mounting post.

Elevating cost-cutting to a whole new level with million-dollar bar bills


Man-made vibrations

I'd love to be able to measure the tremors that happen every time a bus passes my parents' house. They're strong enough to make the monitor wobble on its stand, CD cases rattle in the storage rack and dust to fall from the 5mm crack that has opened up between the wall and the coving since the bus route opened about 5 years ago. (For the previous 25 or so years that we/they lived there, there were no buses along that road.)

Where I currently live, the nearest I get is bits of plaster occasionally falling from around the window frames when the Army are playing with their artillery on the nearby range, but I think that's caused by atmospheric pressure waves (which I can sometimes feel if the windows are open) rather than ground vibrations.

Stop us if you've heard this before: Boeing's working on 737 Max software fixes for autopilot, stabilization bugs


Re: Flying less

Or just gargle it twice with some of that trendy liquid soap that everyone seems to use these days.

Real-time tragedy: Dumb deletion leaves librarian red-faced and fails to nix teenage kicks on the school network


Diskless netboot

My secondary school did that with their first suite of PCs. Over 10Base-2. With 1MB of RAM and swap over the network.

If the Design & Tech department wanted to use Corel DRAW!, they had to book the suite for an extra period beforehand to allow it time to load and become (relatively) usable.

I got banned from using them about 5 minutes after the suite was opened because I fired up Turbo C++ from a floppy disk, which Miss Hitler our esteemed and universally beloved technician immediately classified as "hacking". There was much more fun to be had on the old Acorn computers anyway.

Absolutely everyone loves video conferencing these days. Some perhaps a bit too much


Blame that on the "ICT" curriculum, at least as it was 10-12 years ago (can't speak for the current state of play but I doubt it's changed much).

I wasted countless hours arguing with ICT teachers about how images should be cropped before insertion into documents. When working on (for example) a sports equipment sale brochure, the kids would need a postage-stamp-sized image of, say, a rugby ball and would obtain this by scanning an entire page of a sports equipment catalogue directly into Microsoft Publisher at 300dpi then using the built-in "crop" (i.e. "mask off areas") function to select the bit they wanted. A dozen or so of these images would inflate the file to a quarter of a gig or so, instantly accounting for half of their storage quota at the time (not to mention the effect it had on the network when the teachers in both main IT suites, shortly before the bell, would simultaneously call out, "Everyone save your work!")

The teachers' response was invariably something along the lines of "that's how the syllabus says it must be done". My protestations that they should limit the scan area to a little more than they needed then just use the crop function to fine-tune the image were met with, "That's too difficult and anyway, it's not in the syllabus."

Lost in translation and adrift in cloud storage


.. and that, for anyone still wondering, is why, when seemingly everyone else was flocking to the bog roll aisle, I was quietly cleaning out all the local supermarkets' (admittedly rather meagre) supplies of Weissbier.

Got to get the survival priorities right, after all.

PC owners borg into the most powerful computer the world has ever known – all in the search for coronavirus cure


Re: No CUDA No libOpenCL No GPUs :(

Are you running the nvidia official drivers?

Also, a Reddit post here suggests that you need to install the OpenCL client drivers with "sudo apt-get install ocl-icd-libopencl1".

(Disclaimer: I don't use Mint so I can't test this.)

Want to own a bit of Concorde? Got £750k burning a hole in your pocket? We have just the thing


Does the Concorde Café have a self-service counter? Is it called the Mach Buffet?

Indie VPN WireGuard gets the Torvalds seal of approval with inclusion in Linux kernel 5.6


Re: That baby seal...

I think it's the seal of approval.

Clunk, whirr, buzz, whine. Shared office space can be a riot and sounds like one too


I might have to give that another go sometime. I'm told modern setups are nearly silent.

I fitted a closed-loop watercooler, some years back, to my office PC to tame the CPU temperatures (they were on offer and cheaper than a good big-air cooler - I think it was a Corsair H100i) and it nearly drove me crazy. Even over the racket of the fans in the servers & switches and the aircon, I could hear the pump go "brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!" every time I put any load on the CPU.

A user's magnetic charm makes for a special call-out for our hapless hero


I wonder what happened to his hard drive...

I had a drive wiped by stray magnetic fields in my first job. Having set up a PC on my bench in the lab with the required software for in-circuit programming of the new-fangled flash-based microcontrollers we were hoping to use in our next product in place of masked ROMs, I was puzzled when I started it up the next morning and found it wouldn't boot properly. I had other stuff to do so I left it "for later" when I'd be able to spend a bit more time diagnosing the problem. When I eventually got back to it late in the afternoon, I found that the picture on the (CRT) monitor was jiggling around all over the place, which naturally aroused my suspicions about what may have caused the disk problems.

It turned out that, on the other side of the wall from my bench was where overnight burn-in testing was run on the high-current motor controllers (hundreds of amps) we produced.

I had a bit of a problem paying for petrol on my way home too... It hadn't crossed my mind that my credit card would have been wiped too, until it failed to swipe, at which point it became pretty obvious and I felt like a right plonker.

And now for this evening's space weather report. We've got a hotspot of satellite-wrecking 'killer electrons' in the outer Van Allen belt...


Re: Reward for each Killer Electron caught and jailed. -------->

You're too late, they've already been charged.

Are you sure? When I enquired if they had been charged, the reply came back negative.

Careful with that Axe, Eugene: Excessive use of body spray causes school bus evacuation


Re: Slight threadjack...

DM: "... Blood and guts just spray everywhere."

Me: "Urrgh...! I hate axe body spray!"

Easiest EP I ever earned!

Would that be an Ewwww Point?

What simultaneously sucks and doesn't? This new robot vacuum cleaner


Re: 2000 pascals, 20,000 pascals

designed to be as noisy as possible

We had one of those at work. (A normal mains one.) It had "1400W" emblazoned across it; I reckoned that worked out at about 1300W of noise and 100W of suction. It couldn't compete with my Miele one from home set to minimum power (300W).

I once quipped that, were it anything other than a vacuum cleaner, I'd say it sucked, but the problem was, it didn't.

Tor blimey, Auntie! BBC launches dedicated dark web mirror site


Accidental deanonymisation

it means that users can't accidentally not use Tor

Not strictly true. The authorities in a country where Tor is needed to get free access to information could arrange for fake DNS responses to be returned for .onion sites, maybe even routing the requests through a proxy server onto the Tor network so that people might not notice immediately that they had forgotten to switch to Tor. That way, they could easily catch a few users and possibly discover hidden services that may be "of interest" such as sites used to coordinate protests.

This is, in fact, how Tor transparent proxies, used to "torify" an entire network, work. A simple setup will return the IP of the proxy server for all .onion addresses, then extract the required "domain" (.onion address) from the HTTP request, while a more complex setup will return a dynamically-assigned IP address from a large pool for each different .onion address that is requested, with the proxy server, answering on all addresses in that pool via NAT, using either a reverse lookup or some kind of direct IPC with the nameserver to map it back to a "domain".

I couldn't possibly tell you the computer's ID over the phone, I've been on A Course™


Re: He should be proud that of that guy

"... battery contact activated wee..."

Hmm, I guess a sufficiently large battery in contact with the right (wrong?) places might have that effect on one :-P

Dear hackers: If you try to pwn a website for phishing, make sure it's not the personal domain of a senior Akamai security researcher


Re: Well... I was expecting something more

That reminds me of when I tried to report a compromised NHS email account that was being used to send out phishing messages. The headers showed quite clearly that it was being sent via internal Exchange servers at what turned out to be my local hospital (the amount of detail it revealed about their AD server architecture was quite interesting...), so maybe the user's PC had been pwned so, naturally, I did my civic duty and, after some headscratching, managed to find a suitable contact email for the IT support team. (Couldn't find any kind of dedicated "report a security issue" address.)

The next working day (after the weekend), I got back a polite but obviously-canned response giving instructions on how to raise a support ticket via the form on the intranet. Of course, that was of no use whatsoever as I can't log into their intranet, nor was the internal telephone extension number I was directed to ring if the problem prevented me getting onto the intranet.

You're not Boeing to believe this, but... Another deadly 737 Max control bug found


Re: Very uneasy that IAG ordered 200 737 Max aircraft on Jun 18th

My first thought when I heard this was that maybe they figured that the MAX would be the most carefully-scrutinised airliner in recent times by the time it gets recertified, especially if EASA insist on running their own certification process rather than rubber-stamping the FAA cert.

We knew it was coming: Bureaucratic cockup triggers '6-month' delay of age verification block on porno in the UK


"Just plain unpractical"?

Impractical, shirley?

Essex named sexiest British accent followed closely by, um, Glaswegian


Relative accents?

I wonder whether a person's perception of someone else's accent is affected by how it differs from their own. It would kind of make sense - they would notice the bits that are different but not the bits that are the same.

I come from Sahf London. When I was at secondary school in Bournemouth, a lot of people thought I was Australian. (At the time, I was quite offended by that for some reason so I spent my teenage years developing what I thought was a very "cultured" accent, which I used until I heard a recording of it and realised that it was a complete train wreck - RP turned up to about 25 - after which I returned to Bromley post-haste.)

When I was working in Plymouth, however, several people asked me if I was from somewhere near Birmingham. (Bromley -> Brisbane is understandable. Bromley -> Brum... WTF but maybe the difference relative to Plymouth is similar or something.)

I'd love to know what my accent sounds like to someone with a different one. Maybe there might be some way of simulating it (AI? It seems to be a bit of a panacea at the moment...) by "differencing" the two accents at the phonetic level then applying the difference to my accent in the opposite direction.


That reminds me of an occasion, quite a few years ago, when I heard the choir of St. Francis Xavier School, Liverpool sing Evensong at Winchester Cathedral. They chose some fairly demanding repertoire (I think that's why I decided to go along - I figured that they were either quite good or very foolish and it was more likely to be the former given the venue) but the thing that was most memorable was the Stanford Mag in G soloist's Scouse accent! (He was, sadly, a little past his best - one could hear that he was straining to get the high notes - but he did a fine job nevertheless.)

It's never been quite the same since - people often ask me why I look amused at the mere mention of that particular setting...

A quick cup of coffee leaves production manager in fits and a cleaner in tears


Re: Until...

That sounds a lot like the setup I inherited in the school library at one of my former employers: an island of low-view desks (the ones with glass panes in the top and monitors beneath) with 12 ultra-cheap self-build PCs and CRT monitors, plus a mono laser and a colour laser printer on a table at one end, powered via a daisy-chain of 4-way power bars which all went back to a single bar with a very long cable that went under the carpet to a socket on the wall.

I discovered this arrangement a month or two into the school year when the mornings started to get colder and the big whack of power drawn by the cold PCs & monitors as they started up began to cause the 30A circuit breaker on the ring-main to trip. We used to fire them up by scheduled Wake-on-LAN so that they were ready for use at the start of the school day (they took ages to boot - WinXP in 128MB RAM). Although there was a short delay from waking one PC to the next, it wasn't enough to allow them to finish booting and warm up the monitors so they drew less power.

On complaining about the arrangement to the management and asking that proper dedicated circuits be installed, I was rebuffed on the basis that the school site team included a qualified electrician who said that it was fine and that therefore the fault must be with the computers. I was told to stick to my area of expertise and do my job which was to "sort out the problem with the computers". (In case you were wondering, I didn't stay there very long.)

I ended up having to start the power-up sequence at about 4:30am and allow 15 minutes for each machine to get going to (mostly) prevent circuit trips. It was generally fine as long as nobody got in early and woke one of the printers or the photocopier which was on the same ring-main before the computers had all fired up.

Techies take turns at shut-down top trumps


Re: minor in comparison

I have a vague recollection from many years ago of an oddity involving an APC (of course) UPS where, if the serial cable was connected while the server was starting up, it would cut the power during boot at the point where Windows NT initialised the serial ports.

The workaround was to plug the cable in after the system had started up. I can't remember what I did to fix it properly, or whether the problem simply went away after a service-pack or something.



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