* Posts by wallyhall

31 posts • joined 6 Mar 2017

In Search of Lost Time: GNU Grep 3.7 released with fix for 'extreme performance degradation'


Re: grep, sed & awk

Including Tetris... (a friend and old colleague wrote this): https://github.com/csBlueChip/BAShTris

Absolute insanity!

BOFH: Switch off the building? Great idea, Boss


Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

Ah, blue fire extinguishers!

I'm *just* old enough to remember the switch-over from Red/Blue/Black (and was there another too? Green or Yellow?) to all being red.

I have to say, as a dyslexic: making all of them Red has NOT made anything easier for me.

Back was CO2 iirc, Blue: water? Red, was that foam or powder?

Apple warns kit may interfere with implanted medical devices at close proximity


Re: kit may interfere with implanted medical devices

I would have thought so.

It feels like it borders a little on the packet of peanuts that state "Warning: contains nuts". I'd certainly hope they do!

A focus on better EMF (or whatever) protection in medical devices (particularly those being embedded) would be a sensible step forward here, and perhaps some simple after-market (and thoroughly tested and thoroughly get-out-clause covered) stick-to-your-chest/shoulder protective shields might be wise.

Even if you keep your *own* device 6 inches away, I can see being packed into the London Underground or something causing just as much risk from the proximity of *other people's* devices.

Global Fastly outage takes down many on the wibbly web – but El Reg remains standing


Obligatory reference: https://xkcd.com/908/

Proof-of-space cryptocurrency Chia triggers HDD sales boom in Europe


Plotting for Chia (the up-front and once-off process of preparing the data which is "farmed") generates a significant amount of disk writes. That's documented on the Chia website, and they warn against using consumer grade SSDs (because the wear tolerance for writes tends to be relatively low).

For farming Chia (the on-going, long-running process of looking for answers to keep the blockchain secured) only reads from the drive. Whether that be a traditional spindle or a modern SSD, it shouldn't affect the lifespan notably at all.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledges £12bn green economy package


Re: Not a chance !

And while you make me think about it - parking spaces. Anyone else fed up of all the new builds with 1 small parking space for mum, dad, and the two kids?

Parking space per bedroom, with power delivery infrastructure in place for all new builds.

If they’d legislated that back in 2017... I’d not be feeling so ranty right now...


Re: Not a chance !

Nailed it.

I’ve been saying this for a couple of years ... the gov’s focus would be far better put making legislation that all new commercial roofs are solar if possible, and every new parking space in the country (whether residential, workplace, or public) needs infrastructure for power delivery.

Then, and only then, they can start considering the legislation of plug-in electric cars.

As someone who lives half way out in the sticks with regularish powercuts and a 60 mile round-trip commute to the office (praise COVID!), even I can see the problems. (And I’m fortunate to have a driveway to my house.)

For those with a 50 mile commute each way and no driveway at home... forget it.

Mind the airgap: Why nothing focuses the mind like a bit of tech antiquing


I feel your pain

Dyslexia here, with a healthy dose of dyscalculia.

I wrote about it a while back - publicly - and found a lot of people I’d known for a long time suddenly asking me informative questions and even “admitting similar conditions” themselves.

Amazing how in 2020 this is still such a taboo.

Thanks for being open about it.


Microsoft announces official Windows package manager. 'Not a package manager' users snap back


One software manager to rule them all!

Oblig. xkcd references... https://xkcd.com/1654/ and https://xkcd.com/927/

I'd like to see Microsoft improve on chocolatey, if they insist on doing it themselves.

Chocolatey was a revelation for me, coming from a yum/apt background.

If I understand correctly, historically Windows has taken a slightly more MacOS-esq approach of assuming apps will redundantly install various versioned copies of libraries in their local Program Data (or .App) directories - rather than orchestrating shared ones (which bigger Linux distributions have the luxury of being able to coordinate. Would that make this more of an MSI-on-steroids rather than a "traditional package manager"?

But if it comes pre-installed, is GPO friendly, and allows securely and reliably pulling things like Notepad3 and Chrome from their respective github/3rd party mirror locations - I'm up for giving it a go...

Labour: Free British broadband for country if we win general election


And someone mentions Brexit.



So you've 'seen' the black hole. Now for the interesting bit – how all that raw data was stored


Re: Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway.

Obligatory XKCD reference: https://what-if.xkcd.com/31/

"Ding dong" - "Internet's here!"

All good, leave it with you...? Chap is roped into tech support role for clueless customer


Re: What?

This, is precisely, why when I meet someone for the first time and they ask me what I do for a job, I say “A very interesting job actually! I work at the museum cleaning bones and other artefacts, let me tell you about the intricacies of choosing non-destructive polishes on ancient enamel teeth...”

Because if I mention IT - I’m suddenly in another voluntary support contract for life.

iPhone XR, for when £1,000 is just too much for a smartmobe


Re: Speaking for myself...

**Disclaimer which I should have included originally: I only touch my phone a handful of times in a day. It mostly sits in my pocket or on my desk. I am *not* one of those "do everything on my phone, you'll always see me with it in my hand" people. Both this and my last comment were in the context of "me", who isn't one of those people.**

Call it 4 then. £3.50 a month more. I wasn't trying to argue anything - as I hoped my title "Speaking for myself..." showed. :-) I'm very fortunate to have a disposable income which allows me to pretty well choose any of the options out there. Ethically, I make every effort to not flaunt that to my friends - particularly those who're on a significantly lower income than me (instead, for them, I try to sing the benefits of other options - refurbished Think Pads, the Android ecosystem with last-generation flagships which have crashed in price, etc).

"I-Phones have never appealed" - I think that hits my nail on the head. I've just grown "used" to what I'm "used" to. Before I bought into the Apple ecosystem, I only ever ran Kubuntu (and Slackware before that) on Dell hardware, and pushed my (then-to-be) wife down the Android route.

Mostly for me, it's my lifestyle has changed (I think). I'm growing grey hair and just don't have the motivation to tinker with "daily drivers" like I used to. I just want something that turns on and works - and _for me_, the Apple route has delivered that (as I'm sure many of the Android routes would have too).

The eggs-in-one-basket has always been a concern for me too. My photos are cross-backed up on Flickr (at a £30 a year or whatever it costs now) and everything is backed up to my NAS. Hopefully it never comes to it - but if it does, hopefully I'm prepared.

Regarding replacements being included - I've been exceptionally lucky. I had an older iPad which the gyroscope failed in, Apple replaced it out of warranty no questions asked. Same with £700's worth of innards on my white MacBook (2 years past the extended warranty).

That said, I definitely approve (and desire) the proposed push of right to repair etc. Looking at the second-to-latest MacBook Pros with those (frankly) shoddy keyboard designs, I'm starting to question how long I'll stick with the Apple route.

For anything which is "almost entirely solid state" (phone, tablet, TV dongle, etc) - I'm more inclined to believe that the liklihood of MTTF is sufficiently low that I'm happy to roll the dice - but when your laptop keyboard fails at the first sign of a crumb... that makes me question whether they have any clue as to what they're doing.


Speaking for myself...

I didn't have any form of mobile device until the iPhone 5 was released.

Given I already had a (white, plastic!) MacBook - it seemed a logical step into the world of mobiles.

The integration (subsequently with iCloud etc) has proven very slick - and that faithful iPhone 5 lasted me until the battery finally packed up just shy of 5 years later. I had the battery replaced, but figured the "speed" of the device was getting a bit laggy anyway, so I treated myself to a 7 (which is still running strong).

Assuming I average 5 years a device, that's about £13 a month on-going. Definitely a premium price, but for as long as I can afford it I will - not least because of I'm bought into that "ecosystem" the article mentioned (iCloud, MacBooks [wife and myself], iPad, AppleTV, etc).

And the rate of change is slow enough that I can keep up ;-)

Windows 0-day pops up out of nowhere Twitter


Is this why MS bought GitHub?

I’m just wondering - maybe so they could control such github accounts?!

Saves a bit of face!

BOFH: Their bright orange plumage warns other species, 'Back off! I'm dangerous!'


Re: Mind your head

I’m 6’2”, so tall, but not a giant.

I was in a shop many years ago when I bent down to avoid the clearly labelled (with yellow and back stripes - the full works) low head hight ceiling transition where presumably they’d knocked through to extend the shop floor.

In doing so I missed the equally well signed trip warning on the floor transition.

True story.

I also once walked into a full height mirror in B&Q which happened to be angled reflecting the shower parts in the adjacent isle I was desperately looking for...


Re: Hazard creation

It’s not quite as ironic, but we had a set of health and safety training “online learning” videos pushed upon us a few years back.

The first was slips spills and trips. The first director to complete it proudly announced he had achieved the highest possible score of 100%, only a matter of hours before he slipped on a dead squirrel while walking between the two office buildings.

I kid you not.

(Your first aid box story reminded me think of that.)

The one which really sticks in my mind though was when the new head of HR turns up for the first (and as recall, almost only) visit to the “not the London office” where she caught sight of me sitting on a gym ball at the desk.

“Why are you sitting on that?” she asked somewhat snappily.

“Ah you must be the new HR director?” I politely replied. “Lovely to meet you. I suffer from back pain, this is more comfy.”

“But we supply chairs. You must sit on those. That ball thing isn’t approved.”

“But my back hurts less on this than the chairs you supply. And I bought it and brought it to work as my own seat with my name inscribed on it.”

“I’ll see about this...” and with that she charged off.

Never did hear another peep about it.

I think she was actually quite a nice person, but took her job VERY by the letter of the book.

Blood spilled from another US high school shooting has yet to dry – and video games are already being blamed


Re: Early information

45RPM - agreed.

I can’t comment on America’s culture, much less Texas’. But this is clearly a tradegy of significant proportion.

As a Brit, living close to the US air bases (Mildenhall and Lakenheath) and being a generation of the internet - inevitably I’ve been told I’ve “given up my freedom” and “lost my rights” etc by not having laxer gun laws / greater “gun rights” here in the UK.

Again - I am categorically not commenting on Texas. For me however, these tragic events continue to remind me that I have a very special right and a very special freedom: the right and freedom to send kids to school without any realistic expectation of them seeing a gun, much less being shot by one.

My deepest condolences to the families of those killed or otherwise hurt.

BOFH: Guys? Guys? We need blockchain... can you install blockchain?


Unfortunately he hits the nail on the head again.

I've not worked for many employers, so I'm sure others will have vastly more saddening stories of a similar ilk.

I'll never forget one particular CIO (because we loved TLAs at that company) who upon joining had to "make his mark". Amongst various bad ideas, I'll never forget as the "most senior IT person" being pulled into a conference call he was on with a large vendor of fantastic hosting support (*ahem*) who's architect was saying words like "multi-master-replication" and "nfs-clustering" etc.

The CIO, nodding excitedly, kept saying "Yes! It sounds like we need some of that multi-master-replication with nfs-clustering!"

I'd feel unnecessarily unfair in continuing the story beyond that, except to say it all fairly rapidly disappeared after he left. A small website with perhaps 4-5 concurrent users at peak. Definitely a case of buzzword bingo over technical understanding.

Microsoft has designed an Arm Linux IoT cloud chip. Repeat, an Arm Linux IoT cloud chip


Re: Why go with Lenix? Why not create an RTOS if you’re gonna create a new OS

> Why not create an RTOS if you’re gonna create a new OS

I think we need some more TLAs and buzz words in this discussion. The story headline didn't have enough!

Has your machine really learned something? Snap quiz time


But what's the third item?

But what's the third item?

Mind the gap: Men paid 18.6% more than women in Blighty tech sector


I come from a somewhat academic background, and while I'm not saying that I do or don't agree with his conclusions, I find his arguments and research basis appear far more thorough than any of these "Gender gap %" headlines I keep seeing on the majority of UK news sites.


It's quite long (25 minutes), and it's not all relevant to the conversation - but a significant chunk of it is. FWIW, the interviewer did her job well too (IMHO).

Watchdog growls at Tesla for spilling death crash details: 'Autopilot on, hands off wheel'


Re: Don't be naive

> Is anyone naive enough to think that these car companies are going to be able to create self driving cars that work reliably?

I can't (and am not) commenting on the rest of your post.

Regarding "is anyone naive enough" - yes: I am.

I'm a software / hardware engineer, I studied robotics and computer vision (and various AI including natural language engineering) at university - and in the space of a few months we had things working remarkably well in a very academic environment.

As the various sayings go, 90% of the effort and duration is the first 90% of the project. The *other* 90% of the effort and duration is the last 10% of the project.

I'm putting aside concerns (which I share) of the software getting hacked or having severe bugs (like it suddenly overflows an integer and the car takes an immediate left turn) - I'm just talking about the capability of software driving. I can see it getting there. If Google can 9/10 identify an image of a dog as a dog - and if my £20 a month phone handset can overlay a 3D image of a frog's anatomy on the desk in front of me, I sure as heck expect a car to be able to safely navigate a road - with or without line markings or otherwise.

Two things shake me up about this story:

1. The car's sensors (or the interpretation of the data) didn't recognise a stationary block of concrete in front of it. That's a catastrophic accident, and they *must* resolve it. I don't care if it's called autopilot or "smart brake support" (I believe is Mazda's branding) or anything - it terrifies me that the systems didn't see it. I am however willing to give them the benefit of the doubt - and say that's just part of the illusive last 10%. Which brings me onto point 2:

2. We're living in the most dangerous period of autonomous cars (IMHO). It's the period where cars are *almost* capable of doing something interesting (like driving me up the road as well as I can) but they're not capable of doing it without a human overseeing it (and being ready to immediately take control). For this, I cite Uber's recent news. Perhaps the problem is made worse by the naming of the technology (Autopilot in this case) but I'll readily admit I've had a near miss on the M11 using standard cruise-control in my Mazda 3. Driver 8 cars ahead tapped his brakes, I had just that little too much relaxed my concentration from looking 8 cars ahead to gazing at the car immediately in front - when I found myself with half the time to react.

3. That crash barrier/crumple zone should have been repaired/replaced 10 days earlier. Or a temporary speed limit should have been put in place (like 30MPH). Seriously, whoever is responsible for ensuring that a car hitting that barrier at the legal speed should not result in a death has to bear some of the responsibility here (IMHO).

Anyway, rant over. I'm impressed by Tesla, I'm fascinated by SpaceX, I thoroughly enjoy Elon's enthusiasm. I'm not trying to be a fanboi. I hope I've been sufficiently objective in my words above.


Re: Selecting Lane 3 of 2

> I can't see AI systems matching that ability any time soon. For me it's level 5 autonomy, or nothing more elaborate than adaptive cruise control (and I worry about that). Level 3, 4 are going to be too dangerous for inattentive humans to be trusted with.

(Emphasis added.)

Absolutely agree. That's my feeling, and I believe several "big names" in the industry have stated it too (although I can't remember them to cite here). For as long as people are driving cars which are *not* fully autonomous (level 5, or whatever you want to call it) but which have features making the drivers "feel" like it's at all autonomous, it's deadly.

Humans are very fickle and often very small minded and short sighted, and we'll promptly switch off (get distracted) and let an incapable shadow of level 5 assume "full control" - which will continue to result in deaths (which - in fairness to Tesla and the various other manufacturers, doesn't happen all that often all things considered).

I say all that, fully admitting that I've had at least one "near miss" while using standard cruise control in my Mazda 3 - where my brain has just turned off that slight bit "too much" while crusing along the M11 when someone tapped their bakes 8 cars ahead... I sincerely doubt that I'd have reacted any differently to this guy if I'd been in his situation - with only myself to blame.

Chemical burns, explosive fires, they all come free with Amazon power packs


"Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to inform you of a fire that has broken out at ..."

No, too formal.


Samba settings SNAFU lets any user change admin passwords


> "My coffee is cold" - "it's because of linux"


I'm a part-time, voluntary sysadmin for a non-profit organisation, and I've been extremely relaxed about password policies and giving people the freedom to choose their desktop software etc.

Yet despite trying to make their lives easier at the cost of making life significantly harder as the *system administrator*, only but a few people come at problems with the expectation that it might *not* be "because we're using a network" or "Windows Professional is on a domain, Windows Home never does this" or "That Linux stuff you run it all on".

Due to budget constraints, we run Samba 4 for AD controllers and fileservers. It's extremely stable, although nowhere near as feature rich as Windows Server. But it works. And it's sufficiently compatible with Microsoft's workstation offering that I can minimise the time and energy I spend enabling people to do their jobs while giving them much of the flexibility they're used to enjoying at home.

In regards to it being "Enterprise" or not, I can't comment from that context. I consider it an absolutely legitimate production scenario - I apply change control and monitoring to it, and people are prevented from doing their jobs if it's unavailable. Today I had to patch it. We run "Enterprise" Cisco equipment we sourced second-hand off of Ebay, for which we get no support from Cisco, and we run second-hand Dell and HP workstations and server hardware which again - we get no support for.

But it works. And it's been happily running as a production solution serving multiple users for a very long time.

On an aside, my University's comp.sci department ran Samba. The rest of the University used Windows Server. I can remember a day during a C++ lab session that various file shares became unavailable and the lecturer called in assistance. Three guys came in, two in jeans and with long hair - the other with a suit and tie. The two hippy-looking jean wearers sat down and opened multiple SSH sessions and started muttering about "distributed filesystem permissions" and "ReiserFS rollout". My lecturer watched on. "What's the issue lads?" he asked. "Oh permission changes rolled out across the Windows fileservers, we didn't get notified in advance so the our Unix mirrors have fallen out of sync." The lecturer then asked, observing the guy in a suit standing behind them (now looking somewhat awkward and out of place): "Who are you then?". "Oh I'm the Windows guy."

Production system. Big university network. Enterprise grade? Who knows. But they deemed it good enough for the comp.sci department's needs. :-)

Are you Falcon sure, Elon? Musk vows Big Rocket will go up 2019


All fanboi talks aside - you've got to give the guy credit. He might be optimistic, and nearly always several years behind schedule, but he does usually deliver most - if not all of what he promised.

The number of companies I've worked for where management have had similar such optimism, and end up delivering nothing years after the original deadline and just end up binning the project (and I'm not talking about literal rocket science!) is a shocker.

Sysadmin left finger on power button for an hour to avert SAP outage


I remember doing that once

It wasn't on a server though - just when we were kids at secondary school. Guy sat next to me thought it'd be funny to "hold my work to ransom" by pressing and holding the power button on my PC. I quickly pressed my finger onto the button next to his, and discovered that if you release and press it again *really* quickly, charge in PSU survives the very outage without turning off. :-)

NASA's zombie IMAGE satellite is powered up and working quite nicely


"Magnetopause". Is that something satellites develop after they've been alive for a long time, lasting maybe a decade or so?

Serverless: Should we be scared? Maybe. Is it a silly name? Possibly


Re: "Serverless" is a marketing term. No more, no less.

And (forgive me if I'm misunderstanding here) the concept of having a bunch of individual units of logic with a well-defined input and output running and interconnected transparently over multiple distributed and disparate pieces of hardware doesn't feel particularly new either. (I'm far too young to have used it, but I believe Plan9 was possibly just "too ahead of its time"?)

1.37bn records from somewhere to leak on Monday


Full story (published Monday)

It's RCM.

<quote>At its core, RCM is a marketing firm that does email and SMS campaigns. While some of their work is legit, other campaigns ran by the company are questionable to say the least.</quote>

Link to full story: http://www.csoonline.com/article/3176433/security/spammers-expose-their-entire-operation-though-bad-backups.html#tk.twt_cso


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