* Posts by MrNigel

29 posts • joined 8 Aug 2016

One map to rule them all: UK's Ordnance Survey rolls out its Data Hub and the juicy API goodness that lies therein

MrNigel

Email postcodes

Slightly off topic, but I remember being in a meeting back in the early 90's where the GPO/PO/Royal Mail were considering giving every household an email address based on their postcode along the lines of housenumber.postcode@domain.co.uk. I think this was dropped because it didn't identify individuals, just a property. It was the early 90's thinking, you know - blue skies, out of the box, paperless office etc etc.............

Finally, a wafer-thin server... Only a tiny little thin one. Oh all right. Just the one...

MrNigel

Re: Almost IT...

....reminds me of 1978 when I worked for British Relay Special Services Division. As an apprentice part of my initiation was to test if a 100 volt line circuit was live using my tongue. Oh, how the engineers laughed at me.

Boeing brings back the 737 Max but also lays off thousands

MrNigel
Happy

Re: isit737max.com

@Dave - yeah like the info you find via a Google search of "Ryanair" is all true.... Flew 48 times to/fro my home in Spain in 2019 plus several European business trips all on FR. Guess what? I am still under the illusion that I am alive. Why do I choose to fly FR? Because you only pay for the services you use, unlike every other airline that add "free hold baggage", "free reserved seating", "free hand baggage" etc to the price of your ticket. BTW, it is Ryanair, not RyanAir.

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

MrNigel

Re: Saws

I did my apprenticeship at British Relay Special Services division, my first brush with a trade union. Apparently the union had an agreement that only two people could carry a colour TV set, but only one to carry a B&W set. Guess what? Eager me carried a colour one solo into the workshop and was severely ticked off by the rep. The same rep that taught me a Golden Rule that I have never forgotten to this day. "Don't drink out of damp glasses" he always reminded me when we had our lunchtime pints of Tetleys in the local.

Web pages a little too style over substance? Behold the Windows 98 CSS file

MrNigel

UX/Unix

....in the same way the VT220 ruined the VT100. what were they thinking with those F-keys?? Taught me how to hack termcap/terminfo though....

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

MrNigel

Re: Proper lash up

Reminds me of when I worked for 'British Relay Special Services Division' back in the 70's. We did loads of 100v line stuff in Central London and part of my 'initiation' was being forced to use my tongue to see if a circuit was live. Back when 'men were men' and snowflakes were something you only saw in February...

Zoom adds Choose Your Own Routing Adventure to keep chats out of China

MrNigel

Re: Video voyeurism gone mad

My first yoghurt end-point memory would be those pyramid shaped Ski pots from back in t'60s when I used to bathe in front of t'coal fire in Granny's parlour.

MrNigel
WTF?

Video voyeurism gone mad

As someone who first started video calling/conferencing when it was in B&W running over a private wire (or ISDN 2B+D) from a PO studio by the Thames, I am wondering how Zoom has suddenly become a noun in the same manner as Google and Hoover. Aside from the presenter-audience use cases of Teacher-Pupil and PM-Cabinet where has the seemingly mandatory feature of seeing a thumbnail of everyone picking their noses come from? I can only guess it is from social notworking video calling users who have been forced to use video conferencing for WFH reasons for the first time in their short working lives.

Social VC and Business VC are two different worlds and watching Microsoft trying to turn Teams into a consumer product is not a pretty sight. Given that Skype underpins Teams, why not point all those free 'A' subscriptions over there and let them loose in the playground? I am currently working on a contract with a project team from India, UAE, Europe and USA and have daily Teams conf calls with 10-50 users. The only video we need is the mandatory PowerPoint and Excel screen sharing with the main presenter bravely showing us their lounge wall. Everyone else has a lo-res 2 character tag which moves to the main screen when they speak. No one bothers to switch on their video unless they are showing off their new Teams Custom Background as it rolls out globally.

Never mind, the world will return to a new normal next year when Zoom usage will go the same way as hand sanitizer and facemask sales and social VC users go back to TikTok and Snapchat on their mobile as they return to physical schooling. Not so sure about Boris and his Cabinet though.....

OK brainiacs, we've got an IT cold case for you: Fatal disk errors on an Amiga 4000 with 600MB external SCSI unless the clock app is... just so

MrNigel

Re: My favourite timing bug

When I worked at AT&T Philips in the mid-80's we had the second biggest Amdahl in the UK. The biggest was with the Royal Navy. Taxiiiiii!

MrNigel

Re: My favourite timing bug

Reminds me of when I used to fault find TXE4 telephone exchanges in the early 80's using a 4 channel Tektronix oscilloscope. The final part of acceptance testing with the PO was a call load test. You would program a run of say 50,000 calls (depending on the size of the exchange) and you were allowed a very small failure rate. The tester used to print out the routing info for the failed calls (in BUMCLK or was it MUKBUL format?) and I got pretty good at finding a link between them.

One such fault was down to a batch of cards in the SPU (or was it the B-switch?) that had a transistor with a specific YY/MM manufacture date. It was flip-flopping 'too slowly' which I proved by having two traces side by side with a good/bad card. Out with the soldering iron, replace it, then fill in a Form 308 and claim the time back from the STC factory in New Southgate. Millennials have no idea what the term "Job Satisfaction" really means....

COBOL-coding volunteers sought as slammed mainframes slow New Jersey's coronavirus response

MrNigel

Re: No so much COBOL as the tools

......and who knows what future damage is being caused by today's "citizen developers". If ever there was an oxymoron....

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

MrNigel

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

When Emirates introduced the first A380's I was on a flight where self-loading cargo was on-board, doors shut then Captain announced "Sorry Ladies and Gentlemen we are going to have to reboot the aircraft". This was after ground power was disconnected so no air-con. I can tell you that it takes a sweaty 18-20 mins before engine start.

Planet Computers has really let things slide: Firm's third real-keyboard gizmo boasts 5G, Android 10, Linux support

MrNigel

Psion theft

Back in the 90's my office was broken into. It was a pro job, they did the entire office park - cut BT wires, foam in the alarm boxes etc. They forced the lock to my office and the lock on my desk. What did they steal? My Psion Organizer which I replaced with a Palm Pilot..... #GoodOldDays

Thought you'd go online to buy better laptop for home working? Too bad, UK. So did everyone. Laptops, monitors and WLANs fly off shelves

MrNigel

Upvote for Ryanair

Ryanair don't do freight - 25 min turnarounds don't allow for it and neither do most of their routes. They have just refunded 100% all my booked flights through to end of April

Microsoft, Google, Slack, Zoom et al struggling to deal with a spike in remote tools thanks to coronavirus

MrNigel

Re: Remote working hype cycle

As a Goldmine consultant in the 90s it never struck me as dangerous and I was quite happy with £750/day

The Reg produces exhibit A1: A UK court IT system running Windows XP

MrNigel

Re: Is this as ususal software related?

Reminds of the work I did at MOD locations in the early 90's when the base networks were 'air-gapped'.

We had Apricots with the lockable/removable hard discs that were removed and placed in a combination locked filing cabinet whilst eating silver service lunches in the Officers Mess with the Major. Could never get used to drinking brandy during daylight hours. Then DIGITS ruined everything......

In deepest darkest Surrey, an on-prem SAP system running 17-year-old software is about to die....

MrNigel

'National Government initiative' misty eyed memories....

I have only worked on one - the MOD CHOTS contract in 89-90. This was a wonderful initiative to get all three of our armed forces to use a common email and desktop infrastructure. I was the Uniplex (MS Office features/functions for UNIX on a Wyse 60) solutions expert and spent a happy 18 months working with Air Commodores, Air Vice Marshalls, Miss Moneypennys and lower ranks in pipe-smoke filled, oak lined offices at an MOD location in Central London.

The biggest issue in that time? We introduced automatic document labelling that put Classification/Caveat in the page footer which caused outrage as letters to bank managers and golf clubs had UNCLASSIFIED stamped on them.

Beware the trainee with time on his hands and an Acorn manual on his desk

MrNigel

Riyadh Winter Darts League 1983......

.....was my Model B finest hour. I had a B maxed out with all the add-ons (Z80, CPM, EEPROMs, speech synthesizer etc) and they all came together in one magnificent solution - A Darts Scoring Program That Spoke Your Shot-outs. I could only use it for home matches as it was too bulky (with an Epson FX-80 printer) to take to away fixtures, but what fun it was although I must admit all my older colleagues didn't quite share my enthusiasm. Still it was the foundation for a stellar career in IT consultancy...... ;-)

Take your pick: 0/1/* ... but beware – your click could tank an entire edition of a century-old newspaper

MrNigel

Re: Talking of paper...

Back in the mid-80's I worked for AT&T Philips Telecommunications based in Malmesbury where we did all the software dev for CCITT#7 BT for the DDSN. The system running the exchange hardware engineering ran on a DEC in Hilversum and as a part of my multiple day trips between both locations I used to bring the 'green and whites' back in specially constructed grey suitcases that held two stacks of fanfold paper. My record was seven suitcases in a single trip, LHR Customs took an interest in me that day - "Why is this your third trip this week Sir?"

The good old days when you could arrive at T4 an hour before a flight and still have time for a pint and sarnie, as a non-smoker I used to sit in Biz Class Smoking because it was empty, you were last on/first off the plane and beat the hire car desk queue in AMS.

Are you sure you've got a floppy disk stuck in the drive? Or is it 100 lodged in the chassis?

MrNigel

Re: One, OK, hundred, I have my doubts

....when I worked for STC in the late 70's it stood for "Standards Travelling Circus" or "Sack The C**t" depending on whether you were management or a worker. I still miss my TXK3 commissioning days in the Glasgow area, character forming stuff!

HP crashed Autonomy because US tech titan's top brass 'lost their nerve', says lawyer for ex-CEO Mike Lynch

MrNigel

Creepy 'Maths qualified' Salespeople

HP are 100% correct - they were selling snake oil. I met a number of times with Autonomy at their Head Office and rented London Sales Office next to the Ritz. It was like meeting a cult, the 20 something's in their dark suits looking like wanabee IBMer's, the chanting of 'Mike developed this clever algorithm thingy' and the sheer pomposity of starting every meeting with the announcement of their share price. Their standout tech example was a speech to text demo of a live TV news feed. Well it was 2006.......

The court case is wrong - it should be the HP shareholders bringing a class action against the board members involved in signing the deal. Due diligence?

Apple hardware priced so high that no one wants to buy it? It's 1983 all over again

MrNigel

Re: The best thing about the Lisa was ...

In 1987 I joined Sphinx Level V in Maidenhead - the Xenix 'full width shelf needed' manual set was a big seller. I also remember that a secretary at the computer company downstairs (Altos?) had a red Renault 5 with the registration number YUP 1E.

Begone, Demon Internet: Vodafone to shutter old-school pioneer ISP

MrNigel

Migrated from Demon in 1993

….because The Direct Connection (in Blackheath I seem to remember) techies knew all about uucp/mailx/sendmail/and other UNIX commands I have long forgotten. We had a nice consultancy business enabling Uniplex 'umail' for local/central Government until DNS ruined everything.....

Windows 10 1809: Now arriving on a desktop near you (if you want it)

MrNigel

Timeout

Took 54 mins on my 4 year old SP3. Who cares?

Volkswagen links arms with Microsoft for data-slurping cloud on Azure

MrNigel

Just playing catch up to BMW...

......but even I as an ardent Microsofteee won't pay £60/year to activate their Office 365 email client. They need to find a cheaper data provider so they can reinstate OTA map updates. 2018-3 update was 26GB and the download to PC, unzip to USB (which must be FAT32) then upload to car takes about 5 hours.

O2 wolfs down entire 4G spectrum as pals fiddle with their shiny 5G band

MrNigel

Backhaul nonsense

As a young lad I worked on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia TEP4 contract in the early 80's, which included 18K of mobile 'lines'. Back in t'day backhaul from a non-metro RBS to the MTX was 4x4 wire analogue circuits unless the local town mayor managed to twist a microwave dish out of the MoPTT. It was a status symbol, 2MB PCM coax didn't cut it over a glass of Siddiqui. Everything was monitored remotely in Riyadh by an AOM 101 via 19.2K X.25 links. I blame t'interweb for today's consumers unrealistic speed expectations.

Microsoft's in-store Android looks desperate but can Google stop it?

MrNigel

Clever idea to increase Office 365 take-up

I am all for it, anything that pre-installs Office apps on a device is a good thing as it means adding an Office 365 subscription is easy. I wonder if this android move has anything to do with the revamped K1 subscription announced a few days ago?

See the bigger picture guys, all this historic stuff about the 90's, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft vs. the world, Nokia/Lumia disaster etc is great for El Reg coffee time reading, but of no relevance to any of us who actually work for MNOs selling devices and Microsoft Office 365 to the well informed masses around the world.

Google racks up its first contributions to Open Compute Project

MrNigel

48V racks - 30 years on....

'Talking-up' 48 volt racks?? Takes me straight back to 1986 and my AT&T days when I was an engineer on the BT DDSN project. The first ever 48 volt Rack Mounted Power Packs (RMPP) were installed in Baynard House to power the model 5ESS-PRX switch. How I missed those copper bus-bars rising up from the basement generators/battery rooms.

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR WEEKLY TECH NEWSLETTER

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020