* Posts by Tinslave_the_Barelegged

336 posts • joined 6 Aug 2016


'One rule for me, another for them' is all well and good until it sinks the entire company's ability to receive emails


> "PC Load Letter"

Auurgh, Fighting the urge to downvote you for that memory! ;-)

City of London Corporation explores options to escape Oracle's clutches


The Lareagles sing...

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!"

Ooo, a mystery bit of script! Seems legit. Let's see what happens when we run it


Re: Last time my car stalled...

Was the vampire throwing chairs?

Moore's Law is deader than corduroy bell bottoms. But with a bit of smart coding it's not the end of the road


Underpinning Ideology

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.

IBM to power down Power-powered virtual private cloud, GPU-accelerated options



What an unlikely story. It's almost as though the cloud leaves you dependent on the whim of some faceless corporates' decisions.

BBC voice assistant promises to summon streams even if you're just a little bit Brahms and Liszt


Re: 1984

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.”

Boeing brings back the 737 Max but also lays off thousands

Thumb Down

Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

>"more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

That's about one "initiative" per 30 dead passengers. What more do you want?

Photostopped: Adobe Cloud evaporates in mass outage. Hope none of you are on a deadline, eh?



"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?

Dude, where's my laser?


"Ever pondered the meaning of a project, only to find the truth was stranger then fiction?"

No, but I have worked forlornly on projects that we thought was for the greater good only to find that the real reason was the bonuses in one or two pockets.

Linus Torvalds drops Intel and adopts 32-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper on personal PC


Re: AMD vs. Intel: War Games v3.0

> This made me again realize what an old fart I am.

You didn't <GASP> /understand/ microchannel architecture, did you?


Re: @Uncle Slacky

> I think that came after the Vic-20.

To think that I, too, started on a VIC-20, then progressed to a QL. There, but for having dramatically less talent than Mr Torvalds' stand-up desk, went I.

Microsoft drops a little surprise thank-you gift for sitting through Build: The source for GW-BASIC


Re: how long before we port GW BASIC to Linux?

> 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.

Linux desktop org GNOME Foundation settles lawsuit with patent troll


Re: impressive, but how ?

> Bigger legal threats maybe ?

In the free software world's own TLA, the OIN.


Re: And thank the Imaginary Sky Fairy...

> 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.

Crooks set up stall on UK govt's IT marketplace to peddle email fraud services targeting 'gullible' punters


Hard to trace

'"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.

SAP proves, yet again, that Excel is utterly unkillable


The Wheel of History

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()

A real loch mess: Navy larks sunk by a truculent torpedo


If you enjoyed that, you'll enjoy this...

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.

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


What a pity....

...we've not forgotten that the last part of the policy is "extinguish." A read of the Techrights web site any day of the week is a reminder that the leopard has not yet changed its shorts.

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


Call in the kids

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."

'We're changing shift, and no one can log on!' It was at this moment our hero knew server-lugging chap had screwed up


"Leave it with me!" he said brightly,

Rookie mistake.

Open plan offices mean more room to sprint in the general direction of "away"

The point of containers is they aren't VMs, yet Microsoft licenses SQL Server in containers as if they were VMs


> You are installing an instance of SQL Server, so you license it on how many cores it has, like a VM.

Gosh, that makes it sound as though proprietary database licencing terms are a law of nature.

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


Infernal modems

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.

The ultimate 4-wheel-drive: How ESA's keeping XMM-Newton alive after 20 years and beyond


Great story, well written

See title.

---> all round.

Watch now the three UFO videos uncovered by Blink-182 star – and today officially released by the Pentagon


Re: Cautiously raises hand...

> 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.


Cautiously raises hand...

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.

Dumpster diving to revive a crashing NetWare server? It was acceptable in the '90s

IT Angle

Question - one detail

Did "Howard" use an H or a 4B pencil?

In other words, did his genius produce a hard or a soft reset?

(I'll get my coat)


Re: A long time ago

> These days I always put a plan together to 'tidy up' bodge work into something more long lasting once the crisis has past.

The corollary to that, a truism which always serves well, is that here is no such thing as a pilot project, only an implementation.

Airbus and Rolls-Royce hit eject on hybrid-electric airliner testbed after E-Fan X project fails to get off the ground


Re: Electric planes?

> 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.

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


Re: Yes, but.

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.

Europe publishes draft rules for coronavirus contact-tracing app development, on a relaxed schedule


Re: Meanwhile in the UK...

> 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.

India kicks off competition for home-grown video conferencing clone


Already in place?

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.

Twitter takes away twits' ability to limit ad data sharing – after telling investors its own privacy settings hurt revenue


Re: Just use Brave

Firefox with Privacy Badger and uBlock Origin also results in never seeing ads. Not sure what they would measure with that, to be honest. Another upside is that the combo works on mobiles/tablets too

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


Great story, funnily written, but wow, what luck

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.

Ofcom waves DAB radio licences under local broadcasters' noses as FM switchoff debate smoulders again


Re: But........

> ....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?

Drones intone 'you must stay home,' eliciting moans from those in the zone: Flying gizmos corral Brits amid coronavirus lockdown


Don't give them ideas...

"...directing anyone within earshot to follow government rules"

Quite possibly - next they'll be shooting people in the ear and claim it's for the sake of their health.

So many draconian toys just waiting for an opportunity like this.

Not exactly the kind of housekeeping you want when it means the hotel's server uptime is scrubbed clean


Urban Legend? It's not always the cleaner

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.

UK.gov sits down with mobile big four to formalise plans for rural shared 4G network



Let's see - that'll be £500 million for new creative writing processes on the coverage maps, and £500 million to set up the new body, only just covering the costs of the board meetings in Bermuda.

A cynical or experienced comment?

FYI: When Virgin Media said it leaked 'limited contact info', it meant p0rno filter requests, IP addresses, IMEIs as well as names, addresses and more


Re: Limited™ contact information

> What would they consider "not limited"?

We have friends who have all their eggs in the VM basket. We were staggered to find that they shell out close to £300 a month to VM. For a tenth of that, one would expect 10 times better response from a supplier.

Let's Encrypt? Let's revoke 3 million HTTPS certificates on Wednesday, more like: Check code loop blunder strikes


Re: Easy-peasy

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.

Surprise! Plans for a Brexit version of the EU's Galileo have been delayed


> HS2 is looking um, a bigger white elephant.

Meanwhile Trident replacement, meaning merely buying US missiles, looks likely to cost £200 billion. I'd rather they played space cadet with that kind of dosh.

Flat Earther and wannabe astronaut killed in homemade rocket


> 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?

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to save data from a computer that should have died aeons ago



> 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.

Private equity ponies up £2m to help launch satellites from sunny Shetland by next year

IT Angle

Don't hold your breath...

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?)

Vodafone: Yes, we slurp data on customers' network setups, but we do it for their own good


Re: BT does the same

> 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


You want a Y2K crash? FINE! Here's a poorly computer

IT Angle

Are you sure this was 20 years ago?

Seems terribly current:

'We'll leave that to Boris: "Sometimes you have to tell a tiny lie..."'

Crazy idea but hear us out... With robots taking people's jobs, can we rethink this whole working to survive thing?


Re: Seriously, how many centuries has this exact debate been going on?

>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.

Who needs the A-Team or MacGyver when there's a techie with an SCSI cable?


I know I did this.....

...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.



> If I remember correctly,

And you were cool, or at least thought you were) when you referred to "Arnies" rather than terminators.

Things I learned from Y2K (pt 87): How to swap a mainframe for Microsoft Access


Re: What he said

> Except it wasn't JUST the PFY who should have left

Absolutely right. But it seems a common aspect of people in these positions and who cause those types of chaos is an ego that rarely allows them to see they've done anything wrong at all.


Re: What he said

> 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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