> "PC Load Letter"
Auurgh, Fighting the urge to downvote you for that memory! ;-)
336 posts • joined 6 Aug 2016
Welcome to the Hotel California
And she said: "We are all just prisoners here
Of our own device"
And in the master's chambers
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives
But they just can't kill the beast
Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax," said the night man
"We are programmed to receive
You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave!"
I know there's a risk that this comment may just sound like the ranting is some old bawbag, but do hear me out.
About 25 years ago, I worked for a smallish financial institution. The even smaller investment arm was good. Very good. They frequently topped the charts with their performance, using an in-house dBase application (eventually Clipper) that they had honed over 8 or 9 years by that stage.
There were frustrations. Data had to be loaded each day from other systems, but the biggest issue was the network IO for each client workstation. This was seen as a Moore's Law issue at the time, so more hardware was thrown at it, but really it was that IO problem.
After a while, they bought in an Oracle based system running on dedicated minicomputers. The initial budget was £1million and they ran way beyond that by the time the new system was working.
But... Their investment performance didn't so much tail off as fall off a cliff. Whatever their previous modus operandi, the new system simply did not allow it, and within a short time they became also-rans in the investment game.
I often think of this experience, as around the time of their migration I wanted to explore the possibility of a centralised system fro running the clipper app, like a linux box, running dosemu, which would resolve their IO problems.
I'm not suggesting that that old Clipper program could have been stretch out indefinitely, but that following a perfectly valid and acceptable path tossed the baby out with the bathwater.
The main point stretched by this example, though, is that we in technology, I think, are so deeply inculcated with the assumptions of "upgrade", "better", "improved" and various other ideological concepts that are so closely allied to the technology industry that we never even question them. We think such assumptions of improvement are a natural part of our lives, even though we should be able to learn from the conclusions of, say, Enlightenment thinkers who similarly got mired in a philosophy of improvement. We do not stop to question ourselves frequently enough, or ever.
It may be argued that this ideology of improvement is what has driven the technology industry to achieve the heights it has. That may be the case, but we also need to think about limits to these assumptions, because of other unintended consequences, and also because reason dictates that "believing" in principles like Moore's Law is highly unlikely to be sustainable. We may, ourselves, become part of a problem, if we leave such underpinning assumptions unexamined.
In version 2.0, the voice of a certain BBC journalist whose name sounds like Korer Lunscurd responding, "Always eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or bed—no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters in your skull.”
"Adobe Analytics, Experience Manager, Social, Target, Audience Manager, Cross-Cloud Capabilities, Campaign, Platform Core Services, Data Science Workspace, Experience Cloud Home, Data Foundation, Query Service, and Journey Orchestration."
So many buzzwords, so little work. They just need "AI" and "blockchain" in that lot and they'll have the full set.
Coloured pencils anyone?
> I've always thought BASIC was a good learners programming lingo.
You may want to have a look at yabasic, which runs natively on linux, and I think there's a windows port too.
There was also another basic. p-basic, in the 80s, that was often included on disks of "public domain" and "shareware" programs written in BASIC.
> I strongly suspect that fending off patent trolls is way beyond the financial means of any open source project,
From the article, it's likely that OIN got more involved than is suggested. That seems a real nuclear option, even just by suggestion, and one might hazard a guess that it's the bad guys who would need the inexhaustible lawyer-geld.
'"We develop bespoke Cloud-based online fraud solutions to target gullible consumers into parting with their cash, using payment gateways in Russia rotating funds through the Cayman Island to facilitate payment to public sector customers through UK-based institutions untraceable to the fraudulent activities," the notice reads.'
Well that's the House of Lords spoken for.
Those of us who were in the trenches in the late 80s and early 90s remember that Lotus 123 enjoyed a similar position of worshipful allegiance. We still remember the beancounters writing letters using one big row per line, because the answer was Lotus 123, no matter the question.
Excel may seem unassailable, but the history of computing suggests it's supremacy is just a matter of =TIME()
For those on Twitter, may I recommend https://twitter.com/Canocola for more naval stories that end somewhat sub(sic)-optimally
A recent example of his (could be her) style, the start of a thread about the K-class submarines:
If any of you have ever looked at a submarine and thought "If only they'd whacked a couple of funnels on that" then don't worry, the Royal Navy have your back.
There's so much we can learn from kids. Years back, when the Mac Classic came out, we had one. One evening, we were enjoying a visit from some friends, who had a 6 year old lad. "Can I play on the computer?" Sure. He toddled off to the box room where the Mac was kept. After some time, I realised he'd have difficulty, from switching the thing on (the switch at the back, remember?) to generally working his way around, as this was his first experience of a Mac, and generally his parents didn't let him loose on their machine. Yet there he was, happily playing a game, or whatever he was doing. He simply needed nothing explained. OK, he was a bright kid, as the subsequent directions of his life shows, but still.
As the saying goes "The best is yet to come."
In that era I discovered something astonishing regarding my own physical capabilities. I was tasked with installing an internal modem in a PC at a branch office. The PC was well plumbed in under the desk, so it was easier to crawl under and do the job on the floor. All went suspiciously well, and, although being young and green, I already knew that, when installing some hardware or doing any other hardware work, you never close the cover before testing it or risk it failing 9 times out of 10, so I switched on the PC. That's when the under-desk area came over all smoky. Yes, the modem was alight.
I discovered I was physically capable of leaping in one graceful bound from under the desk to the fire extinguisher on the wall. But modems were puny in those days, and hardly a match for taking out a fit young PFY, and the smoke was already dying down, so the office remained foam-free.
> An internal reflection from the outer window ?
I really don't know. I know I thought of many plausible explanations at the time, and I'm sure there is one, but it was a very strange and apparently inexplicable experience. I'm not making any claims about it, just that that is what I experienced.
Look, I'm just telling this story, OK? In the late 90s I was flying from Cape Town to Heathrow on a BA flight. I woke up as we were flying over the Sahara somewhere, and just as the day was lightening, a time on long hauls I quite enjoy. The sun rose, and I looked down to the ground, and far below us and to the west, on a parallel course, was another aircraft, travelling roughly at our speed or maybe slower. It was easily visible as it reflected the bright orange light of the rising sun. But then I realised that something was odd - the sun had only just touched our aircraft, yet this thing far below was glowing orange. I watched for a few minutes, when suddenly it disappeared. Nothing visible but the lovely sights of the Sahara.
I don't believe I was mistaken about the light or the angle of the sun, but who knows? It certainly was an odd experience. As I say, I'm just telling what I saw, definitely not making a claim, so please don't judge me too harshly, but seeing strange things while flying may be a pretty common occurrence.
> Can anyone explain why an electric plane would be a good idea?
That was my first thought too, but then I thought it's possible that some different way of thinking might come from such a project.
The only one my non-aerospace-engineer brain could think of is to reduce necessary onboard power, along with associated weight etc, for the critical take-off phase of flight. Most of the flight is spent in cruise mode, with far less power being required, so if this can be supplied from a new design of generator, while the extra power required for take-off could be supplied by supplementary power, eg batteries, maybe that's worth exploring.
Just a thought, and may be far off, of course.
Well, in these days of staying at home, at least as an intellectual exercise, it may be worth while doing a
apt-get install gnucobol
zypper in gnu-cobol
yum install gnu-cobol
as the flavour takes you.
Then find some documentation, such as https://open-cobol.sourceforge.io/doc/gnucobol.html or https://riptutorial.com/cobol/ or download the pdf - https://riptutorial.com/Download/cobol.pdf - and knock your brain into gear, for some of us, a gear we'd long thought seized beyond repair.
Could result in some fun outcomes, you never know.
> That means that if the NHS goes ahead with its original plans,
> its app would face severe limitations on its operation.
It's rather moot anyway. Such a system's effectiveness must depend on an accompanying testing regime that is rigorous enough to be identifying the majority of COVID-19 infections in a quick enough time. The UK seems to think that unless you're dead in a hospital or a VIP (assuming Johnson and Prince Charles can be so described) tests aren't being done at any useful rate, never mind at the scale required.
And if the system relies on self-certifying COVID-19 symptoms, imagine how the system will be gamed. Certify yourself, then hold your mobile on a selfie-stick closer to others while shopping, out for a walk etc, maybe?
No matter how sensible the EC proposals, and the corresponding support by Apple and Google, this looks to end up as just another NHSX data collecting techgasm.
I thought India had a significant investment in Owncloud already
If so, they probably already have the building blocks in place for a VC systems based on Nextcloud Talk with its open standards and other advantages. If India put its effort into improving Talk's scalability, especially regarding it federated capability, that would benefit us all.
I knew a Mirage pilot who, on a training exercise, had his plane cleft in twain by a colleague - flew right through his Mirage apparently. He "pulled the Bang Seat" as so eloquently written by the El Reg scribe, but unfortunately something went wrong with the mechanism to blow the canopy, and so he and the seat went through it. He was left for dead on landing, but showed signs of life at the hospital. He was there for 6 months. He came out pretty physically damaged but my goodness, his mind was, and probably still is, what one would expect a combat pilot's mind to be. Working with him was both a joy and a lesson in one's own inadequacy.
> ....Comes up with car brand on screen, it works,....
Yes, but where we are you have to drive 100 miles before you can pick up a DAB signal at all, making the box on wheels the more important part.
What is it with governments' overwhelming desires to switch things off rather than switching things on?
Sometimes it's the JCB operator.
I couldn't believe how much of a caricature this experience was. The office was an old mill building, next to a river. One morning, all comms went down, everything dead. I knew we had all our eggs in one basket as we the office was supposed to be temporary, and as everything was out, the issue could only have one origin. As I got up, I looked out of the window across the river, where I saw a JCB, bucket in the air, with the ripped innards of a thick cable hanging on either side. I almost laughed at the textbook example.
A quick trip across the river, to let them know the severity of their teeny weeny little bit of enthusiasm and several hours later all was well.
Similar experience here, though just one instance needed the update.
I suspect the possible reputational damage might end up being neutral. LE's transparency on this has been pretty good. The only thing that might have been added is something in the email to indicate it wasn't some scam, perhaps a non-clickable URL to a third party site explaining the email, or somesuch.
As you point out, compared to the experience of shenanigans of proprietary CAs, this was well handled.
> There are LOTS of people who think the earth is 6,000 years old
You mean people willing to spend $27million on things like this?
It was founded by a guy called Ken Ham, so don't even bother to add gags about pork barrels...
I heard about this because a relative said they'd spent a fantastic day there. Honestly, what can one say?
> The Sinclair QL was the business machine of choice for a while in Kenya.
Interesting. We got a QL in South Africa at the time they came out, and they were not ineffective as business computers with the Psion software 4-pack that came with it. Add in the price point, a quarter or so of an IBM compatible at the time, and it was a wonder.
Fast forward about 10 years ago, when I found a box of microdrives, including two of them full of recipes my wife had collected and transcribed. I used Aaron's technique of a serial connection to a laptop to siphon off the data. And no data loss from microdrives 25 years old either, despite moving countries twice in that period.
There was something satisfying about the QL. I still have some in the loft, complete with colour monitor and those all important microdrives.
While of course the Sutherland option may happen, I wouldn't hold my breath while HIE (Highlands and Islands Enterprise) is playing HIEASA (HIE Aeronautics and Space Administration). They have just fouled up most majestically their role on the R100 Scottish fibre rollout, leaving themselves open to the lawsuit that now looks to have kicked the fibre rollout into the long grass. *
See? There's the IT angle.
(* - BT, under pressure, told our community at the end of last year that our ancient 20CN exchange would finally be upgraded to something the ISPs can support. No sooner had the lawsuit been announced, and the R100 rollout indefinitely delayed, than they withdrew their commitment. Why spend money to provide a supportable service when the competition just shot itself?)
> people can use Kodi for nefarious purposes but lots of legit uses.
I hope you're planning to shop yourself. It's almost certain that West Midlands police have added using Kodi to their list of thought-crimes
>History is important, I'm not suggesting otherwise, but using it as a barometer
> against today's employment opportunities is bonkers. I mean look how things
> have gone over the last 30 years or so and we can see a few seismic changes
> in employment patterns in the UK alone.
Somewhere I have a book on IT, written in the 1960s. There is at least one chapter in the book worrying about how IT would cause fewer jobs to be required (this must have been the day of the 10s of thousands of people working calculators in huge offices) So the book speculated about the problems of the 1980s as we would all have so much leisure time on our hands, we wouldn't know what to do with it.
Same with today's speculation.
...but I can't for the life of me remember why.
I had to get the data off a production server and do a temporary smoke-and-mirrors job before restoring it all again. But we had no suitably large drives available and I recall we had to be quick. I ended up having to hit the man page of the mdadm command, and strung together a series of USB backup disks (this must have been around 2000, maybe 2002) To my astonishment, a suitable large, and most importantly, stable, disk array appeared and we got away with it. It must have been en embarrassing incident if I've blotted it out of my memory so effectively. Production continued on that string of disks until we put the main server back together again.
> Did he really last that long after such a monumental cluster fuck? Did the CFO last that long too? I'm assuming CFO != Chief Accountant.
Yes, I' m afraid it did. Off he went in his Porsche... No, the CFO didn't last that much longer, I'm pleased to say. He was way out of his depth .
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