* Posts by Antron Argaiv

1169 posts • joined 18 May 2016


So you really didn't touch the settings at all, huh? Well, this print-out from my secret backup says otherwise

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Re: Ah, customers.

1. The importance of a detailed and comprehensive interface specification cannot be understated.

2. Your boss is an idiot -- YOU made the system work, by exercising initiative and doing whatever it took to make the client happy and keep the project on track.

3. It's unpleasant to work for a non-technical boss

US cable subscribers are still being 'ripped off' by creeping price increases – and this lot has had enough

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Re: Taxes and fees

At $25/mo for broadcast channels, you could buy a Rohn 25 tower section every 3 months and within a year or two, have enough to set up a tower with a high-gain receiver antenna on it.

I cut the cord when DTV came out and have an antenna in my attic (no weather issues). It works pretty well, as I'm lucky to be on a hilltop with line of sight to the broadcast antennas.

Bought my own cable modem when the rental charge went over $10/mo. I'm still paying close to $80/mo for 80/6 internet. They claim it's "up to 100", and I have seen it that high, but it's fast enough for me.

We need ISPs to be regulated as common carriers here in the US, but as long as Pai and the lobbyists is in charge, that won't happen.

Runaway Latvian drone found meditating in tree after shutting down nation's skies

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Re: There was no word as to whether a Playmobil figure was at the drone's controls.

Lester looks down...and smiles, knowingly

Railway cables overpowered errant drone's compass and flung it back to terra firma

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Re: "over localised regions of the bridge below"

I would have assumed that a $30k "commercial drone", would have had some kind of EMC (Electro Magnetic Compatibility) testing before being sent out into the market. And that said testing would have included what's commonly referred to as "immunity testing" to validate its performance in the presence of electromagnetic interference. The emphasis here being on the magnetic part.

Well, back to the test chamber with it. Better luck next time. From the description of the incident, the compass wasn't the only thing affected. Apparently the control system doesn't like high magnetic fields either, thus that altitude loss.

Had I bought one of those, I would be contacting my lawyers.

ALGOL 60 at 60: The greatest computer language you've never used and grandaddy of the programming family tree

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Re: .. never used .. ?

When I was at Data General in the 80s, I modified their D200 terminal firmware to handle and display the overstrike characters required by APL. To my knowledge, this was the first non-storage tube display to be able to do that.

I think they might have sold 10 of them. APL was never more than a niche product for DG.

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We used it in school (UMASS/Amherst) as a teaching language. Too "wordy" for me, especially the IO statements. But it did get the job done.

When I started working, it was at Data General, who had an Algol-like language called DG/L, which I absolutely loved. It was my language of choice for little utility programs on our AOS and AOS/VS systems.

Then, of course, came the Sun workstations, with UNIX and C.

Game over.

Bonus for the CALCOMP drum plotters. I worked part time at the comuter center in school, we had one (3 or 4 foot wide). The number of aborted plots due to pen failure was astounding, as was the pen budget!

Everything OK with Microsoft? Windows giant admits it was 'on the wrong side of history' with regard to open source

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Re: So...

With Microsoft, I find that what they say one day, may not be true in a week, or a month, etc.

Also: Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.

You cannot argue the fact that they own the office desktop and a good portion of the servers, but the inconsistent quality and performance is detrimental to their reputation. You'd be hard pressed to find an office worker who will tell you they LOVE Microsoft!

So bravo to the gentleman for being able to admit he made a mistake, and that open source is a force to be reckoned with, but I'll wait a bit before agreeing that Microsoft is a champion of open source.

The Rise of The (Coffee) Machines: I need assistance. I think I'm running Windows. Send help

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Re: We have a similar one at work

...scene of someone taking a shower...

I misread that last word...or maybe I substituted my own dream...

My dream still works with the "we recycle" message.

"You only rent coffee..."

Antron Argaiv Silver badge

We have a similar one at work

at least, I think it's still there...haven't been in for two months.

It grinds the beans and brews a passably good cup of java, so long as you do not select powdered milk...

It appears to be made by a Canadian company.

Being friendly with the company admin whose responsibility it was to clean and un-bork it got me a look inside. They're quite clever, with a bog-roll style filter paper that advances after each cup and a large container for the grounds. Clever design, it's about a 1/2 cu meter and sits on the countertop.

Now, here's the good part: the manual is online, and the default access codes are in it (and are seldom changed). The bad part, is that the owners can talk with it over a cellular modem (or so the labels claim). So we haven't messed with it. But the temptation (and the password) is there, all right.

First task is to change the default video that plays while it's brewing to something more...inappropriate.

Russia admits, yup, the Americans are right: One of our rocket's tanks just disintegrated in Earth's orbit

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More like throwing beer cans on it as they drive by, in this case.

It is unclear why something designed to pump fuel into a car needs an ad-spewing computer strapped to it, but here we are

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Re: I hated the pump ads...

Some, though not by any means, all, of the pumps have a hidden "MUTE" mode. One of the eight buttons surrounding the screen, when "long pressed" MAY mute the audio for the duration of the sale.

WHICH button it is, or whether it exists at all, seems to be programmable on a by-pump basis. So this may not apply to you, but what else were you going to be doing for the 5 minutes it takes to fill your tank?

And there's always the "shove a sharp object through the speaker grille" approach, but I would never recommend vandalism.

Non-human Microsoft Office users get their own special licences

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Re: “Office applications have not been specifically designed for unattended usage at scale”

My worldwide colleagues and I are attempting to jointly and simultaneously review and make edits to a large (250+ page) Word document located on a sharepoint server. So, I'm getting a kick out of this.

It's going about as well as you'd expect it to. 10+ people have it open, not actively editing it, mind you, just "in" the document, and it's throwing everyone off once every couple of minutes. "You have been disconnected, remember to save any changes before refreshing"...at which point it repositions you at the top of the document and begins the minute-long refresh process. Whether or not your changes (or some portion thereof) have been saved will be revealed to you at a later time.

Now, to be fair, the doc is large, track changes is on, as are comments, there are people from my org, and the client's org looking at it, and there are lots of drawings and images, and the usual multiple levels of formatting, tables, fonts, and so on. Some folks are editing it online with Office 365, some are editing it locally, and, of course, everyone's using a different version of Word. It's hard to understand why the damn thing even works at all, but, unfortunately, this is reality in the corporate world.

Now, you might expect a company who has been developing and selling basic office software for several decades to appreciate this, and to have put some effort into developing a robust architecture before offering "shared document editing" as a product. Perhaps, somewhere, there is such a company.

But, it is not Microsoft.

Antron Argaiv Silver badge

Microsoft understands your concern and would like to offer the following explanation:

"Because we can, so f___ you."

Have a nice day!

Data centre reveals it modeled interiors on The Hunt for Red October sets

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Re: Remodelling

Lasers...don't forget the high power laser!

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One of my favourite movies...just for the product placement.

AT&T changed their logo shortly after it was released. And the Picturephone never happened...but Skype did.

The computer displays, ISTR, were all done in consultation with IBM, thus the dead black surround and lots of blue and white.

// No HAL icon???

Latvian drone wrests control from human overlords and shuts down entire nation's skies

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Re: You would think...

Have they checked the nearby trees?

Florida man might just stick it to HP for injecting sneaky DRM update into his printers that rejected non-HP ink

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Re: HP printers

Thanks for that tip.

I got sent a set of new feed rollers with the gears. Apparently, they fail around the same time, so the feed rollers come in the same kit.

There appears to be a huge body of maintenance knowledge around these printers, to go along with the plentiful spare parts. Another reason why I thought repairing it was worth the effort.

And it appears you can still get a refurbished one for well under $1k. They cost about $1700 new, I believe.

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Re: HP printers

I picked up (literally - off the porch of a local law office) a Laserjet 5 a few years ago, after reading a posting offering it to anyone who wanted it. It sat in my basement until just recently, when I started working from home.

Having nothing to lose, and being fed up with the "need to use the printer, go buy another pricey set of ink cartridges" game, I powered it up and tried to print a test page. It made grinding noises and jammed with a partially printed sheet inside the machine.

Being a handy sort of guy (and needing a working printer), I dove into it, and, after a bit of Googling, discovered that the gears that drove the fuser unit were missing a few teeth. Ordered a rebuilt fuser unit (because why not) for $120 and a replacement drive gear for $20. And, while I was at it, a full load of RAM for $40 and a network card for $20. After a few hours of watching videos and more Googling, I summoned up the courage to pretty much take the thing to pieces and replace the drive gears, fuser, etc. Vacuumed out some toner and a whole lot of dust bunnies along the way. A fresh (third party) toner cartridge for $40 and it's on my home network, printing like new.

Now, here's the thing: according to the test page, this printer was built around 1996, which makes it about 24 years old. The test page says it's printed 333k sheets. It is eminently repairable with pliers and screwdriver, and the replacement parts are not only easily available, but refreshingly low-priced. The gentleman who sold me the replacement gears mentioned that these HP printers have been known to go 1 million pages.

Sure, I spent close to $200 getting this "free" printer working again, but that's pretty much the price of the new Brother laser printer I was thinking of buying. And I like this one better...and I just found a "genuine HP" spare toner cartridge on Goodwill for $14!

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

Antron Argaiv Silver badge

Re: Never saw a car crash into a computer

JCBs have made it to the left side of the pond now.

Must have been a long and damp drive. Hope they buried some cable as they came across.

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Re: Elevator interface

It takes a not inconsiderable amount of RF to corrupt RS-232 signals, but as the driver and receiver have an impedance in the thousands of Ohms, it _is_possible.

Differential RS485 might be a better choice, lower impedance and higher data rates. Converters are relatively inexpensive (much less than $600) from places like Black Box. Or, you can build them yourself for a few bucks/quid.

Run current loop, and I dare you to find any glitches. Though your bandwidth might suffer a bit.

Run fiber and you'll attract the diggers. But you'll be safe from RF.

In case you need more proof the world's gone mad: Behold, Apple's $699 Mac Pro wheels

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Re: Re Cycle Wheels

I suspect some enterprising Oriental Entrepreneur is sourcing them from here:


Google says no more shady anonymous web ads – if you want your billboard up, you've got to show us some valid ID

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Re: A Good Step

Show me a lawyer who doesn't stretch the facts...

I'm confused about Warren's Native American claim. Did she do it intentionally to jump the queue, or was she just proud to have a link? I've got a (very) distant relative who led black soldiers in the Civil War, and I'm kind of proud of it. But I doubt that I could prove it with a DNA test as Warren did.

I do like her politics though. She's made a bit of a career attempting to equalise the power of consumers vs the financial business. I think this country needs that right now (as we slide into another recession with most of the post-2008 protections repealed by the current administration).

Move fast and break stuff, Windows Terminal style: Final update before release will nix your carefully crafted settings

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Re: If not exist

"We like to think of our customers as the final step in our Quality Assurance process"

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Re: Really!?

Jesus H Tapdancing...Microsoft, which claims to be a software company, cannot get a terminal program right?

I weep for humanity.

(at least, the portion of it that uses computers)

A paper clip, a spool of phone wire and a recalcitrant RS-232 line: Going MacGyver in the wonderful world of hotel IT

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I can top that.

Down from the mainframe, into the basement, along the corridor into the basement of the adjacent tower and up 10 floors.

A good 500 meters. Well beyond what RS-232 should have been able to do.

Worked a treat! Don't remember the baud rate, but it might have been 9600.

We did use phone wire and "66 blocks" to terminate the data lines as well as the phone lines (in separate closets, obviously). I still have some discarded ones in my home basement, where they connect outlets in each room to a wired Ethernet switch. 100Mbit/s over "CAT3" cable seems to work fine.

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Re: Remember serial breakout boxes?

Still have mine.

I used to joke with my cow-orkers that the one thing I would always be doing, no matter where I worked or what my title was, would be making RS-232 cables.

True up until about 10 years ago, when USB actually became usable.

I've traded in my sub-D pin crimp tool for a modular connector crimp tool.

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Re: Luxury

Luxury was the diode ROM boot loader board.

Cloudflare goes retro with COBOL delivery service. Older coders: Who's laughing now? Turns out we're still vital

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Re: Retrieve the old textbooks

There's still time to make a Christmas wreath out of those punched cards. All you need is a cardboard backing, a stapler and a can of gold spray paint. Pine cones, Christmas baubles and glitter optional for the centre.


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Re: Mindset

User name checks out...

IBM age discrimination lawsuit suddenly ends, suggests Big Blue was willing to pay to avoid discovery process

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Re: IBM rehires old programmers

Who knew?

Maybe those old programmers did know something after all.

// Grace Hopper smiles knowingly...

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Re: Re : The Texan Western District Court

I believe the term is "maximizing shareholder value", aka "screw ethics, how much money can we get/save?"

Microsoft's Teams clocks 2.7 billion minutes of meetings in a single day as April starts to run out for Windows 10 2004

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Re: Teams clocks 2.7 billion minutes

Sorry, I didn't notice, because I was too busy trying out my custom backgrounds

French pensioner ejected from fighter jet after accidentally grabbing bang seat* handle

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Re: "probably a design or manufacturing fault"

TFA says:

The technical investigation found that the explosion ruptured the casing of the sequence selector supposed to trigger the pilot ejection seat.


Antron Argaiv Silver badge
Black Helicopters

Re: Double ejection

Any landing you walk away from...

...and if you can reuse the aircraft, it's a GREAT one!

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Black Helicopters

I have found that (in gliders, at least) the urge to hurl during negative Gs can be suppressed by tightening the harness as tight as you can stand it, then going a bit further. Once you are "part of the aircraft", the urge is reduced significantly.

Works on roller coasters, too.

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Re: Double ejection

Safety pins left in on the pilot's seat?

I'm betting he had a heartfelt discussion with his crew chief after he landed, if that was the case.

Antron Argaiv Silver badge

Preflight briefing?

My understanding is that before you get to ride in military aircraft, it's customary to have a physical and a preflight briefing, which goes over things that you can expect to happen, and things that you may and may NOT touch. The yellow and black striped handles, and the consequences of pulling them, should most definitely have been discussed.

Boeing 787s must be turned off and on every 51 days to prevent 'misleading data' being shown to pilots

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Re: How long does it take to reboot a 787 ?

Its all fun and games until you need to find a 396 cell to replace the one that backs up the NVRAM.

Where's the best place to add Mentos to Diet Coke for the most foam? How big are the individual bubbles? Has science gone too far?

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efficient insertion of Mentos is key

I built a screw on adapter out of a bottle cap, with a drilled out centre and attached a vertical plastic tube witha a small transverse hole for a metal pin. Screw on adapter, insert pin, load tube with Mentos. Stand clear, pull cord to remove pin.

The resulting geyser was captured on video for the wife's middle school science class.

It worked so well, some kid stole it when she demoed it at school!

For the past five years, every FBI secret spy court request to snoop on Americans has sucked, says watchdog

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Re: It's not just the FBI to blame

The problem, in the US at least, is that 9/11 "justifies" everything.

Including the PATRIOT Act, and its continuing validity.


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Black Helicopters

Re: I'm shocked, I tell you!


"Let Us In!"

"Do you have a warrant?"


"Can I see it?"

[door implodes, several large men in protective gear rush in and stick multiple automatic weapons in your face, as others cuff you and lead you away]


Microsoft staff giggle beneath the weight of a 52,000-person Reply-All email storm

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Re: what a bunch of ker-ayzy guys!

Who's got the cat hanging from the branch with the "Hang in there Baby!" caption?

In my early 90s Data General days, we had just strung orange (plenum safe) Ethernet around the building and the engineers had just received their UNIX workstations. Shortly thereafter, they discovered "xnetrek", where you could zoom around the known universe, blasting Klingons (while bringing the Ethernet to a screeching halt).

Gaming hours were quickly decreed to begin at 16:00, once the network came back up.

Announcing the official Reg-approved measure of social distancing: The Osman

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2 meters

...is approximately the distance your close-talking cow-orker will back off after you diplomatically apply your cattle prod to his anatomy.

India's peak IT body tells outsourcers to check contract cancellation fine print while Coronavirus reigns

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Re: Contingency plans

"I have a cunning plan..."

IBM fires up the big iron, Facebook hands out masks, Cisco splashes cash, and CDC gets an Azure-powered bot

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Re: Trump Bot

Google "Trump Speech Generator" and take your pick.

I'm encouraged by The Internet's response to the crisis

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"Big iron"

16 systems with more than 330 peta-FLOPS, 775,000 CPU cores and 34,000 GPUs

That's an impressive collection of computing power.

The Trump Speech Generator, however (surprised there's not one yetthere are several) runs on your grandfather's PC-XT, under DOS.

Tech won't save you from lockdown disaster: How to manage family and free time while working from home

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Re: "Keeping in touch"

And there were Video phones on sales on the sixties.

Gotta call you on that. The only one I know of, was the well publicised and never really delivered Bell PicturePhone. https://ethw.org/Picturephone

Unless you had coax to the home in the 60s, all you were going to get was slow-scan TV, which is only slightly less annoying to watch than a fax machine. The bandwidth wasn't there, nor the compression technology, nor the processor power or memory. And the entrenched telephone infrastructure, while an admirably robust piece of engineering, was designed for voice calls, and (with a few high cost exceptions) voice calls alone.

The first really available (to the consumer) video calling was Skype in 2003 (I could never get CuSeeMe to work), put together by a Swede, a Dane and three Estonians as a hack. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skype

Captain Caveman rides to the rescue, solves a prickly PowerPoint problem with a magical solution

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Re: Yesterday

Clorox sheepdip tank

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Please, do go on...

Surge in home working highlights Microsoft licensing issue: If you are not on subscription, working remotely is a premium feature

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I brought my work laptop home



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