* Posts by Kingstonian

12 posts • joined 7 Oct 2016

Takes from the taxpayer, gives to the old – by squishing a bug in Thatcherite benefits system



Now there's a language you don't often hear of nowadays.

The company I worked for ran it on the "personal computing" MVS IBM mainframe (VM 370) to generate reports before these IBM PC things were available. I'd forgotten about its existence. I had to maintain a program in it once when the ageing writer and "owner" (an end user not a programme) was on long term illness. Must have been the best part of 40 years ago. I think at the time we had 3 mainframes - one for IMS, one for MVS and one for development. He could do things with filetab programs nobody else could (including the suppliers experts it was alleged). It was decision table based if I remember correctly. Nothing like the COBOL I was used to.

DBA locked in police-guarded COVID-19-quarantine hotel for the last week shares his story with The Register


Re: if this virus had hit 10 or 15 years ago.

Over 25 years ago (pre-internet use for most people) we just carried on as normal. Working from home was mostly impossible even for the office based staff. If taken ill we were just told to stay off work until we got better and take precautions such as not sneezing over everything (plus we had telephone sanitizers as telephones were often shared). Most didn't have air conditioning to spread disease either. 50 years ago was much the same we just carried on as normal and accepted there would be deaths. We didn't expect to be able to cure almost everything. Workplaces didn't close - this would have been unthinkable. Adults didn't have to be told how to wash our hands either. Even 10-15 years ago we would not have shut down workplaces. Some hotspots might be shut down but no general shutdown perhaps the odd school but not all of them countrywide.

Quick question, what the Hull? City khazi is a top UK tourist destination


Victorian? Toilet in Hull. No - built in 1926.

Do you mean the 1926 built grade II listed toilet in Hull built in 1926 near Victoria Pier as reported by the BBC?


Listing details at historic england


and the Hull Daily Mail's article with more pictures


New UK Home Sec invokes infosec nerd rage by calling for an end to end-to-end encryption

Big Brother

Journalists distort statements to forward their own agenda. As do Governments.

The article on the front page of the Telegraph and continued on to page 2 by Charles Hymas its Home Affars Editor grossly distorts what is said in Priti Patel's commentary on page 2 in order to support the Telegraphs own position (campaign to protect children). The Article on the register distorts the Priti Patel article to support its position e.g. "throwaway lines", "backdoors". The Priti Patel commentary appears to me to be more reasoned and doesn't mention any solutions but highlight problems and challenges.

Her paragraph regarding legitimate concerns over use of personal data and theft of private information is only partially quoted in the Telegraph. The Register says she "call(s) for end-to-end encryption to be broken with backdoors inserted for illicit law enforcement access". nowhere in the Patel article is the word backdoor used - just a need to work with tech. companies. I don't belive there will be a satisfactory solution to the issue - encryption is a tool that can be used to hide evil things but also for legitimate privacy.

You can read the Patel article on the telegraph site (paywall or with a limited number of articles per month)

Blighty: If EU won't let us play at Galileo, we're going home and taking encryption tech with us


Re: Hypocrites

The 70's referendum was about remaining in the EEC not about joining. We were already in. If we had been given a referendum vote on the Maastricht treaty then we might not be in such a mess.

We also had a referendum on the voting system in 2011.......

Windrush immigration papers scandal: What it didn't teach UK.gov about data compliance


Re: You were doing so well...

And the Police get their money from the Taxpayers - Central and Local - so any fine the police pay comes from the taxpayer anyway. Unless of course the money was taken from the responsible persons salary or pension pot.

Linux Beep bug joke backfires as branded fix falls short


POST beep

the POST beeps are (were) one of the most useful basic diagnostic tools where there's no video or other diagnostics on the motherboard.

Turn on the big red switch.



One short beep and you're good. Unless you have a COMPAQ clone rather than a genuine IBM PC so you get 2 beeps and think something is wrong until you quickly remember!

Disk drive fired 'Frisbees of death' across data centre after storage admin crossed his wires


Re: "Cut the red wire..."

Conventional rather than nuclear explosion "But He'll never know".

Keep a tight hold on your wire cutters.

Pity that episode is missing presumed lost.

Now here's a novel idea: Digitising Victorian-era stamp duty machines


Stamp Duty on receipts and Cheques

All receipts of £2-0s-0d or more needed a 2d postage stamp (which were brown in colour at least in the 1950s) as stamp duty to make them legal hence the revenue part of the wording on the stamp. National Insurance contributions used to be paid by physical stamps (not postage stamps though) which the employer bought and stuck on the employees National Insurance cards - which is why some older people talk of "I get a pension etc. because I paid my stamp" and also leaving or being dismissed from a job was getting or being given your cards as this then needed to be given to the Dole Office aka "Labour Exchange" or your next employer (now the P45 form). Also talking of cheques the bank would charge you 5/- (five shillings or 25p in new money) for a book of 30 cheques for the stamp duty (30x 2d = 5/-) . The 2d cheque duty was abolished on 1 February 1971 just before decimalisation on the 15th.

( https://www.chequeandcredit.co.uk/information-hub/history-cheque/taxes-and-stamp-duty ) The 2d on receipts was often ignored but I think not officially abolished until the same date.

Is this a hotdog? What it takes for an AI to answer that might surprise you



https://xkcd.com/645/ Hotdog for programmers?

It's 30 years ago: IBM's final battle with reality


Memories - Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

It all worked well and was of its time. PS/2 and OS/2 made sense in an IBM mainframe using corporate environment (which I worked in) with some specialised workgroup LANs too. OS/2 EE had mainframe connectivity built in and multitasking that worked. Token Ring was much better for deterministic performance too where near real time applications were concerned and more resilient than ethernet at the time - ethernet would die at high usage (CSMA/CD on a bus system) whereas token ring would still work if loaded to 100% and just degrade performance gracefully. Ethernet only gained the upper hand in many large corporate environments when 10 base T took off. Token ring would connect to the mainfame too so no more IRMA boards for PCs

There was OS/2 software available to have a central build server where each workstation could be defined on the server and then set up via the network by booting from floppy disk - useful in the corporate world. DB/2 was available for OS/2 so a complete family of useful tools was available. And IBM published its standards

IBM was used to the big corporate world and moving down to individuals via its PCs whereas Microsoft at that time was more individual standalone PCs and moving up to corporate connectivity. The heritage still shows to some extent. Novell was still the LAN server of choice for us for some time though.

The PS/2 was easy to take apart - our supplier showed us a PS/2 50 when it first came out. He had to leave the room briefly and we had the lid of the machine and had taken it apart (no tools needed) before he returned. He was very worried but it was very easy just to slide the parts back together and they just clipped into place - not something you could do with other PCs then. I came across an old price list recently - the IBM model M keyboard for PS/2 was around £200 (without a cable which came with the base unit- short for the model 50 and 70 desktops and long for the 60 and 80 towers! Memory was very expensive too and OS/2 needed more than DOS. In fact EVERYTHING was expensive.

OS/2 service packs (patches) came on floppy disks in the post. You had to copy them and then return them!

Starting in computing just after the original IBM PC was announced this all brings back fond memories and a huge reminder of the industry changes.

Ofcom finds 'reasonable grounds' that KCOM failed to maintain 999 services


999 - not in Hull in the 1950s

In the Hull telephone area in the 1950s 99 was the emergency number - no need for the extra 9


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