* Posts by Antron Argaiv

1802 posts • joined 18 May 2016

Businesses should dump Windows for the Linux desktop

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Living in a bubble?

15 years ago, Visio, Word and Excel did everything I needed them to do.

There have been a lot of releases since then, but damned if I can figure out why. I haven't seen any benefit as far as the things I use them for.

Enough with the notifications! Focus Assist will shut them u… 'But I'm too important!'

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Alert

Re: New car

In the US, it comes on at 36F. Every time you start the damn car in the winter!

Antron Argaiv Silver badge

Re: Windows System Sounds - office hell!

One of the first things I do when I get a new Windows machine: turn off all sounds. Also disable pop-up notification balloons in the taskbar. Also, also show system files in directory listings...and on, and on.

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
WTF?

Re: "his "neighborhood" is in America"

I was born in the US, moved to Belgium when I was 2, returned to the US for 3 years, moved to Australia for 2-1/2 years and returned to the US at age 11.

Thus I have a bit of a problem with mm/dd/yy vs dd/mm/yy (vs yyyy-mm-dd on my computer files, per work convention) and with neighbours vs neighbors and such things. The amount of Brit fiction and video I consume doesn't help. El Reg is only a minor inconvenience (and a welcome distraction)

Also -- at around age 11, when I had to take a language in school, I discovered I already knew a lot of French ...simply by having absorbied it when I lived in Belgium (and attended a French-speaking daycare). I'm the one who laughs at the French lines in the movies (which aren't always subtitled accurately)

// icon because I never know...

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: Now if only Teams had something similar...

"... but it requires admin rights."

Of course it does.

MY company has decided that, "for security purposes" (of course), the locking screensaver will be activated when your PC is idle for...5 minutes! Unchangeable. And unnecessary, since most of us are either WFH or in a secure area within our office building. But, needs must, I suppose.

* There's a neat little program, called "caffeine". I seem to still have the ability to install software of my choosing (but am told it's a firing offence.)...

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Alert

Power fail

My APC helpfully goes "BEEP....BEEP....BEEP" every 30 seconds to let me know there's been a power failure.

Just in case the overwhelming silence and darkness didn't clue me in.

And, after 15 minutes, my alarm system sets off a continuous "BEEEEEEEEEEE.....", just in case I hadn't noticed there was no power.

Be careful where you install software, and who installs it

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Linux

Re: Linux Bros'

Linux bro (and Boomer) here.

Happily working away on Mint 20.3. It doesn't suck any worse than Windows. Heck, the Lords of Redmond have even seen fit to write a Teams client for Linux (which actually works!).

While you are stuck with being your own sysadmin, at least you are in complete control of updates. I find this refreshing, after years in a corporate Windows environment where the UI and available features are "fluid" as the various updates and "upgrades" are applied.

Overall, I'm happy with Linux as my daily driver. And I'm not shy about saying so. I'll happily use Windows at work, but Apple is beyond me. Maybe you just need to have a different mindset (sort of like Linux, I guess).

Psst … Want to buy a used IBM Selectric? No questions asked

Antron Argaiv Silver badge

Re: ASR-33 Teletype reliability

Can confirm.

I, too, had my own, a KSR-33. Made my 4 years at college much easier, as I did my assignments from my room, rather than trudging down to the public terminal room. Well I ended up doing that, too, as I wangled my way into being the sevice person for the school-owned 33s! The pay wasn't great, but the job came with an unlimited login to the mainframe.

I used to tear down, degrease, rebuild and re-lube 20+ machines each summer. They are amazingly well designed and very easy to work on, once you know a few tricks. Built by a subsidiary of Western Electric, which was itself an arm of The Bell System. All gone, now, and it happened almost overnight, as, first, the LA-36 DECwriter, and then cheap CRT terminals appeared.

Antron Argaiv Silver badge

Re: That story took a turn

14.1 cps

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_2741

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Happy

Re: Wow

APL was amazing. Somewhat of an acquired taste, though.

In another life, I designed Data General's D200/APL terminal. A "glass teletype" that supported all the APL overstruck characters. I think they may even have sold a few...

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Holmes

Re: Wow

I have one, a dual pitch, 11" carriage, Correcting Selectric II, purchased from Goodwill. Works a treat after some solvent to remove the caked on grease. Love it.

Note: bog standard Selectrics don't have data terminal capabilities. However, there are "enhanced" Selectric mechanisms with electronics, solenoids and switches installed which do. 2741 is the model we used to use as APL terminals (they can do backspace/overstrike, something with which Teletypes and display terminals usually have difficulty).

2741s came in two varieties: Correspondence and EBCDIC code. A different typeball was needed for each one. Massively complex and not built for the wear and tear of 24/7 use by university students. They were usually out of action. Model 33 Teletypes, however...it was difficult (but not impossible) to kill them.

A character catastrophe for a joker working his last day

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Happy

Re: Not final day antics ....

I have, in my storehouse of vintage computing equipment, an SGI desktop that quite literally held up my manager's feet for several years. When he left (he came back later), he asked me if I wanted it, I replied that I did, and proceeded to spend a not insignificant amount of money (and time) on getting it operational again.

Rejoice! System Administrator Appreciation Day (SAAD) is nigh

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Windows

I retired at the end of last year

So this year will be the first I haven't acknowledged a worthy sysadmin. I'll send an email to my former IT friends acknowledging them, though.

Outlook email users alerted to suspicious activity from Microsoft-owned IP address

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
FAIL

Happened to me as well, always a "sync" from a 13.x.x.x address. Changing my password seems to have stopped the messages.

I've also been having dropped daily emails from a particular subscription mailing list for the past month or so. Not sure if the two are related. You'd think MS could manage to get email right, FFS.

Microsoft tests CD ripping for Media Player in Windows 11

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Happy

Re: Innovative

Better late than never

Hive to pull the plug on smart home gadgets by 2025

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
FAIL

Re: Reciva Radios

Heh. I worked at 3Com when they bought Kerbango (a similar "internet radio" company). Heady days, when pretty much anything with "internet" in front of it was enough to start a company.

They pretty much immediately regretted their purchase.

Antron Argaiv Silver badge

Re: Thanks for the money but your stuffed.

Meanwhile, momentary switches and bistable relays for my brother's 1950s house are still available. (It's a Bryant system).

https://www.kyleswitchplates.com/identify-your-low-voltage-lighting-system/

COO of failed bio-biz Theranos found guilty on all twelve fraud counts

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Holmes

Re: Methinks it's lawyers all the way down on this one...

She was the result of relentless reinforcement "you can do anything!" with not enough failures. You learn from failures, and learn about yourself as well. She didn't, and never learned how to deal with personal failure.

As a consequence, she was convinced she was brighter and smarter than everyone around her.

I actually felt sorry for her, up until she started lying, because she had convinced herself she could not be wrong.

I have had bosses who had the same problem...inability to admit they had chosen the wrong approach to a design problem, and that the one they had chosen was not going to work.

Whatever else Theranos teaches us (and I'm sure it will provide fodder for more than one HBS case study), it should stand as an example of the dangers of hubris, specifically the dangers of schools who don't fail any student.

Microsoft rolls back default macro blocks in Office without telling anyone

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
FAIL

Re: Typical Borkzilla

One might suspect that Microsoft's left hand does not know what Microsoft's right hand is doing, and both are completely disconnected from the brain (which is busy calculating revenue, stock price, and executive bonus amounts)

There's little left to be done to Office in the way of improved functionality, so the last fifteen years have been feature churn.

Massive telecom outage in Japan kicks 40 million mobile users offline

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Japan and the Joy of Fax

Too late. POTS is, if not dead, on life support without battery backup.

Telcos can't make money on POTS and there's no growth path with copper. I was informed a couple years ago, that my copper line would be disconnected if I did not convert to fiber by a specific date. With fiber, they can offer me 300/300 mbit/s internet. With copper, nada, and the maintenence costs are far less for fiber.

I loved my copper landline, because it "just worked", but only for voice. Now I have fiber internet and a $6/mo Ooma box which gives me landline, though not as reliable as copper, for about the same as my old POTS monthly charge.. Much as I loved my copper POTS line, the tradeoff seems fair.

Everyone back to the office! Why? Because the decision has been made

Antron Argaiv Silver badge

Re: that jerk with the annoying voice and that other bastard who sniffs all day.

Boomer here.

Thanks to St. Reagan, I now get to worry about Social Sexurity running out of money (simple solkution: remove the cap on taxable income).

We put men on the moon, invented computers and The Internet, but we also polluted the planet and failed to maintain kur infrastructure.

We're not perfect, but we aren't malicious. And, to be fair, we, like you, are at the mercy of the politiciams and the fools who vote people like Reagan and Trump into office.

Antron Argaiv Silver badge

Re: that jerk with the annoying voice and that other bastard who sniffs all day.

Annoying cellphone, 600W microwave? Seems like the solution is obvious.

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: And the award for ...

At the start of COVID, my office had a stable of maybe 20 Aeron chairs with blown out seat mesh. They were a custom color, so no replacement mesh available. These chairs had sat, unused for several years. I checked Amazon, they had medium size black (only) replacements for $250 each. As I was going to be WFH for the forseeable future, without a chair, I helped myself to one from the stable, ordered a replacement seat from Amazon, and spent 30 minutes at home replacing the blown out seat. The next two years were much more comfortable.

I have since retired. The chair is still comfortable.

PowerShell pusher to log off from Microsoft: Write-Host "Bye bye, Jeffrey Snover"

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
WTF?

Re: Don't ditch PowerShell

All OSes may be shit, but some of them really work at it.

Microsoft has grown so big now, that they don't know what they're trying to do, but that doesn't seem to stop them.

The perfect crime – undone by the perfect email backups

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Thumb Up

PST files

I always kept my old emails. I would save a PST yearly, with all my sent and received emails for the year. My boss asked me questions often enough, which I was able to answer by going back to my archived emails, that I felt the practice was worth continuing (even though the process is fairly cumbersome).

Corporate "retention" policies are fine, but personal archives can be quite useful, so I look out for myself first.

BOFH: HR's gold mine gambit – they get the gold and we get the shaft

Antron Argaiv Silver badge

Re: Favourite CPU socket?

6802.

Flat address space.

For PDP-11 fans, the 68k

You need to RTFM, but feel free to use your brain too

Antron Argaiv Silver badge

Re: Zero Knowledge

Aviation Week, aka Aviation Leak.

They are very good. A previous employer had a subscription, because the CEO was an airplane buff.

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Thumb Up

Technical Writing

When I took a tech writing course, it was mentioned that order is important and the phrase, "but first..." has no place in a procedure.

Open source 'Office' options keep Microsoft running faster than ever

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Linux

Re: Options are always good

O...M...G

I had the "pleasure" of using Word on a shared document on my last project. Let's just say that the advertised features are...somewhat oversold.

Document was hundreds of pages long. Multiple users from multiple organisations in multiple countries

on a Sharepoint server. Lots of typefaces, change tracking and numbered sections. Major edits. Tight schedule, which meant *everybody* was trying to get their changes in, around the clock (due to the multiple companies and multiple countries). Molasses. You would have needed a supercomputer and fiber cables to make any progress. Just glacial response time.

Now, I realise that this was asking a lot from the software and the infrastructure. But the bottom line is that simultaneous shared editing of any document of significant size is a non-starter. And my gut says that any number of simultaneous users over...let's say...3-5, is asking for trouble, no matter how small the document is.

As for Libre Office, it appears to be coming along quite nicely. It has definitely improved since I tried it a couple of years ago. Specifically, the "typesetting" features: spacing, page layout and character font cutomisation seem better and more consistent. I haven't done exhaustive testing, but it seems more polished and less prone to random "disruptions" to the text.

Which is good, as I transition into retirement without Windows.

Engineer sues Amazon for not covering work-from-home internet, electricity bills

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Thumb Up

My company did that too. Machines were made in Canada, and have a cellular connection for software update. They are capable of charging for the coffee (which was disabled) and are quite clever inside (I sneaked a peek when they were open for service), but do require frequent maintenance! The admin person spent a good amount of time refilling the beans and the powdered milk. I searched the web and found the manual for the machine we had (which includes a default password, natch). I'm not sure how to find its IP address on the cell network, or I would have logged on and changed the splash screen video :-)

The coffee is very good, but the "milk" is powdered, as is the cocoa. I opted to use milk (also supplied) from the fridge.

And...for those whose company is too cheap to offer free coffee, I have a suggestion. Form a coffee club, with a nominal monthly membership fee. As much coffee from the communal pot as you wish (and with enough members, you could get a pretty nice bean-to-cup machine) and the supplies are really quite reasonable.

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Thumb Up

Too much hassle to sell them -- no one else was commuting, either!

As it was, I was restricted:

- could only withdraw $300 per month

- could only buy the cards in person at the train station

- could only put $100 on any one card.

Took me 3 months to empty the account! The shelter was very appreciative, once they had been convinced I wasn't a scammer! I did all the interaction by email, and the only thing I asked them for was "an" address I could mail them to.

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Thumb Up

Heh. I lost big time.

I had just converted from season tickets to weekly passes (season tickets do not have a "senior" rate, while weekly passes are 50% off for over 65). Because of the tax-free witholding system at work, I was stuck with about $800 in the account, which could ONLY be used for transit tickets...which I no longer needed as I was full time wfh.

The solution turned out to be buying 8 stored value transit cards and donating them to a women's shelter. At least someone got some use out of the inaccessible cash!

Antron Argaiv Silver badge

I'd be very surprised to find that his costs increased by $50/month. No increase on the internet as that's a flat rate per month, and power? Well...maybe. He's going to have to provide some hard numbers to convince me.

That time a techie accidentally improved an airline's productivity

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Alert

A very attractive (and married) new engineer once confided to me that she could never remember which connector was the male and which was the female.

It took me some time to come up with a safe explanation. I believe that I said that the male was the pin and the female was the socket. Then, heaved a huge [internal] sigh of relief that HR was not going to be involved.

She went on to other things when her husband was transferred, but she was a very good engineer, and we were sad to lose her.

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: Everybody knows...

Have you ever...

...inadvertently changed the language on your phone? (or had a child do it for you)

Plus: gives you an opportunity to learn the basics of a new language.

Minus: I seem to have misplaced my Arabic to English dictionary (and all the words look alike)

The next time your program is 'not responding,' (do not) try these steps

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Unhappy

Sod's Law

I don't recall ever having been in a [meeting, presentation], where the person at the podium did not have to spend 10 minutes playing with the hardware.

One assumes (because I always do) that they had it all set up and running before the punters were let into the room. Makes no difference, when the audience arrives, either Windows or the software will go on break. The screensaver will time out (even though you set it not to), and/or Adobe Acrobat will invariably choose this moment to pop up its full screen advisory that there is an update available and would you like to install it?

And, if the screensaver times out or the laptop goes into sleep mode (even though you have this disabled when on AC power...you did plug it in?), the projector will now notice that there's no input, and display that fact, along with its splash screen, so you have to play games to even get an image up on the screen again.

Never have seen it work any other way.

Sick of Windows but can't afford a Mac? Consult our cynic's guide to desktop Linux

Antron Argaiv Silver badge

Re: choose how the OS will annoy you

I've been playing with KiCAD for schematics and layout.

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Linux

Re: Windows didn't suck...

Wash talking with my wife about this (relative suckage, Win vs Linux), and I think the answer is that Windows suckage relates to having to pay for a lot of things that should be free, and forced feature changes (I hesitate to call them "upgrades") that may cause things you count on to cease working (until you pay more money).

Linux suckage is usually related to stuff you could do on Windows but can't figure out how to do on Linux (e.g.: Word vs Libre Office) or having to go down the rabbit hole of Googling error messages to find and fix whatever doesn't work.

In short: Windows sucks because you keep getting nickled and dimed; and Linux sucks because you have to do more figuring out to get stuff to work.

I'm pretty happy with Linux (Mint 20.3 now, but I have been using it since Open Office made it usable as a replacement for Windows) and don't mind the occasional "learning experience". The rest of the family uses Apple products. To me, it's about control: Linux is my OS on my hardware. Windows? Not so much.

"Linux: it doesn't suck any worse than Windows"

Keeping your head as an entire database goes pear-shaped

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Happy

Re: Backups

It's important to remember to check the fuel tank on the genny periodically, to make sure all that testing hasn't left it nearly empty...

All-AMD US Frontier supercomputer ousts Japan's Fugaku as No. 1 in Top500

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Alert

It has its own webpage

https://www.olcf.ornl.gov/frontier/

(and, more importantly, spiffy graphic design)

When management went nuclear on an innocent software engineer

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Alert

Re: Next time

This sounds like a story out of:

https://library.sciencemadness.org/library/books/gergel_isopropyl_bromide.pdf

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Mushroom

Re: Next time

Ellen is extremely lucky.

When I was a wet-behind-the-ears new engineer at Data General, the guys in the next lab space couldn't fit their product into a temperature chamber, so they stuck a large cardboard box over it, set it running and left for the evening.

When we came in to work the next morning, the entire office area was covered with a fine, greasy black deposit. The place smelled of burned plastic. The labs were worse. The impromptu heat chamber had burned to a crisp, as had the product inside. The HVAC system had spread the smoke and fumes throughout the entire floor. The fumes were so bad, people got headaches and left work.

Do NOT stick cardboard boxes over running equipment.

Ransomware encrypts files, demands three good deeds to restore data

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Happy

error hai bhaiya

Going in the next embedded system I build!

Revealed: The semi-secret list of techs Beijing really really wishes it didn't have to import

Antron Argaiv Silver badge

China may be capable of developing homegrown tech, but it's so much easier, cheaper and quicker to steal it.

BOFH: Where do you think you are going with that toner cartridge?

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: HP Laserjet 5

Re: extra paper magazine -- check eBay. I have found lots of repair parts there. People buy junk and part it out.

Antron Argaiv Silver badge

Re: HP Laserjet 5

Something to be said for using the (higher quality) old commercial quality gear at home, instead of the consumer quality junk they try to sell you at Staples

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Thumb Up

HP Laserjet 5

Got it for free off the front porch of an office that was discarding it. With all the horror stories I'd heard about HP, Canon, and the other manufacturers and their expiring expendables scams, I thought I'd go with a printer built before they caught onto unsolicited firmware upgrades and remote control of expiration dates. I think it dates from 1993!

Brought it home, powered it up and noticed that it made a grinding noise and the toner, though in the right places, was not fused.

Went to The Internet and watched some service videos, then ordered a rebuilt fuser assembly ($150), a set of gears ($30), a RAM upgrade ($30) a 10BASE-T JetDirect interface ($15 off eBay) and a refurbed toner cartridge ($50!). I spent a few days removing and replacing, watching videos, and testing. Got two more NIB HP toner cartridges off the Goodwill site for $20 each. They will go to whoever inherits this printer!

It's been sitting on my home network for a few years now, drawing 7W in sleep mode and waking up when anyone needs to print something. Even (and this was a surprise to me) prints from my wife's Apple gear, using my Linux desktop as an Apple print server. The page counter says 330k and the guy at the parts place said it should go a million no problem. To say this machine is easy to work on is an understatement. It's beautifully designed (the print engine is by Canon, the packaging and interface electronics are HP...the OLD HP)

Not too bad for $275!

Foxconn factory fiasco could leave Wisconsinites on the hook for $300m

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Thumb Up

If something sounds too good to be true

...it probably is.

I find it hard to believe that Foxconn would ever employ 100k people in middle of nowhere Wisconsin, when labor is so much less expensive (and regulations are so much looser) in Shenzhen.

Beijing needs the ability to 'destroy' Starlink, say Chinese researchers

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Windows

Re: Like all totalitarian regemes

Donald Trump. [see icon]

Next question?

Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Linux

Re: Penguinistas

Well played, sir

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR WEEKLY TECH NEWSLETTER

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022