* Posts by PM from Hell

149 posts • joined 24 Mar 2017


You had one job... Just two lines of code, and now the customer's Inventory Master File has bitten the biscuit

PM from Hell

Re: @werdsmith

Taking a snapshot of the VM is often not a valid way of backing up a database as several dev's I have worked with have found out.

If you want to secure a database use the database vendor or 3rd party tools to do the back up. If you are only working on a single table, copy it.

If you a re working on a key table then FFS get some dedicated time for the change, perform it on a database copy first and the perform the change in production when the database is not being updated. Its not just your updates you have to worry about. I implement systems with 1000's of active concurrent users. Its a major pain negotiating a downtime window but that's much so than trying to unpick the results of a data maintenance update that went wrong when 100'000's of other updates were taking place.

Last time I implemented a SQL Server based application shadow copying/ snapshotting was not supported by microsoft as a way of backing up an active database.

Oh sure, we'll just make a tiny little change in every source file without letting anyone know. What could go wrong?

PM from Hell

Vendor Support

We had similar issues with Oracles Service Desk. They would cycle through new recruits until they knew enough to deliver 'consultancy' this meant my DBA's had to suffer an hour of list ticking while they went through their script before they could admit they didn't have a clue and pass us on to a 2nd line engineer.

I'd put up with this for something minor but used to have to call my account manager to escalate anything serious to second line as soon as we'd been given a ticket number. We were pretty leading edge and working on a joint development at the time so were usually on beta or just released versions for the tools.

It was exciting at the time but developing business critical apps using new Oracle products is not good for your blood pressure.

F5 emits fixes for critical flaws in BIG-IP gear: Hopefully yours aren't internet-facing while you ready a patch

PM from Hell

Public services are probably at higher risk

"These flaws are particularly bad because the vulnerable BIG-IP gear is generally used by large enterprises to handle traffic to and from critical applications. A successful attack could potentially be disastrous for Fortune 500 companies that make up F5's userbase."

The F5 gear is very cost effective and good at handling high throughput internet connections with many thousands of connections. They've been heavily taken up by local government in the UK where the corporate connection is often servicing libraries. I just hope people are on the ball in terms of patching but have real concerns dies to budget cuts in most IT departments. Don't forget these devices are protecting access to your social care, council tax, housing benefit and potentially medical records too.

technical Teams have shrunk and a lot of the best guys left for private industry a few years ago. At least 2 councils I worked with didn't have full time security managers with the skills to manage CVE exploit mitigation. In one case this was addressed by using a long term contractor, in another the responsibility was passed onto the technical team - security manager roles were introduced outside technical teams for a reason !!!

AC as I'm a contractor in the local government sphere. I left permanent employment in local government as years without any form of pay increase left me unable to pay the bills.

PC printer problems and enraged execs: When the answer to 'Hand over that floppy disk' is 'No'

PM from Hell

Re: Ah IT 'managers'

I'm likely to be the one buying the first beer. In general if I'm keeping the brown stuff off the team it's to give the the chance to work on whichever problem is causing a corporate issue.

One of my most used phrases during these times is 'if it was simple we'd have fixed it by now. Give the guys time to investigate it properly'.

One reason for the beer is I will always involve the vendor at the beginning of a large unplanned outage. Often they add no value and are just asking the techs to repeat diagnostic tests they've already carried out but it allows me to re-assure the senior execs that there really is nothing more that can be done. Also If I do need specialist skills we don't have I'll normally know someone who I can bring in. Its amazing how many times that is rejected 'because he's very expensive' in reality the independent consultants I know cost less than vendor consultant and small fraction of the cost of the large consultancies.

Health Sec Hancock says UK will use Apple-Google API for virus contact-tracing app after all (even though Apple were right rotters)

PM from Hell

Re: NHSX devs apparently superior to Google devs

Or more likely "...and end up using the Google/Apple one but changing a few parameters from "X" to "X*1.00000000001"

If Daddy doesn't want me to touch the buttons, why did they make them so colourful?

PM from Hell

no Kids in the DC under ANY circumstances

If one of my team was working out of hours and had childcare issues I would go in the officer ad offer a childsitting service

PM from Hell

Re: The magically levitating disc pack

To be fair that was a 1900 series device whose design dates back to the 70's. The later 2900 series VME mainframes did behave better.

Bite me? It's 'byte', and that acronym is Binary Interface Transfer Code Handler

PM from Hell

And at the other extreme

I came across an error message in 's VME operating system Kernel - this was in the kernel stack not a GUI error

'I don't know how we got here and we are running at ACR2 so I think I better crash the system'

ACR2 was the Kernel / Microcode privileged layer with unrestricted access to memory and all devices. When I started laughing at a Kernel error message I knew I was a real diagnostician

PM from Hell

System Test - UAT - Training

I've had the same conversation endless times speaking to devs about the test data they set up. \It invariably ends up in a UAT environment as there 'wasn't time to build one from scratch so we cloned systest' and then the same thing happens again when training environments a built.

even if it doesn't If I'm asked to front up a demo at a Project Board I know that any offensive data will pop up in front of the senior execs and I'll have to spend the next hour explaining hot it will never hit the live system / website.

Guess which cloud giant Zoom picked to handle millions more video calls? Bzzt, wrong answer: It's Oracle

PM from Hell

Or its his quiet place

There's probably a party going on outside his safe room. It wouldn't look good to show the dancing girls

Elevating cost-cutting to a whole new level with million-dollar bar bills

PM from Hell

Re: The fix was $600 line drivers.

I was desperately trying to remember the name of the line drivers. They were a bit pricey at the time but after a while we stopped trying to make connections work on the other side of the building without them as trying without then having to go back and ask for cash for the ,ine drivers always provided a fight with the bean counters. A beer for the memory jogger

BOFH: Will the last one out switch off the printer?

PM from Hell

office ceiling

I have a webcam on top of one of my monitors in my home office.

When I dock the work laptop it is set to use that camera. I don't like video calls a lot normally so I keep the camera pointed at the ceiling. Even should I inadvertently accept a video call all they will see is the ceiling.

I'm working at home at the moment and although I am managing to shower and dress before starting work shaving has become a bit intermittent and I desperately need a haircut.

I did test the set-up recently and scared myself when the cam was on.

Apple creates face shield for health workers, resists the temptation to call it the 'iMask'

PM from Hell

It Definitely needs a name

How about ..... iProtection

Short of tech talent to deal with novel coronavirus surge? Let us help – with free job ads on The Register

PM from Hell

Well Done

Have one of these on me.

That awful moment when what you thought was a number 1 turned out to be a number 2

PM from Hell

Technical management tips

I've been managing technical teams for nearly 30 years and have lost count of the number of times a hughly skilled engineer has come to me panicking because they have ';irretrievably' broken something.#

My technical skills are out of the ark so these people know far more than I do about the technologies they manage.

First thing is always calm down, then describe the problem, and then work back through how we got there. In almost every case by the time they have had to go into the level of detail needed to help me understand the problem they have also worked out what the solution was, although in one case this did end up with myself and the IBM Sysprog having to re-catalogue all the VTOC's for our production database at 10 PM at night, we had it finished and triple checked by about 1 AM but were both in extra early the following morning to be sure it loaded OK

Captain Caveman rides to the rescue, solves a prickly PowerPoint problem with a magical solution

PM from Hell

A bit of kindness

I've been involved in several emergency deployments over the years where we have had to get kit out to sites disrupted by fires/ lightning strikes/floods. When the brown stuff hits the fan the guys delivering kit to site are unlikely to be technical specialists and probably have a van full of stuff to drop off. A this point anyone who can image a machine is doing so, network specialists are probably working to increase external network capacity and anyone who can help out with user support is attached to the help desk pool. Some people will be able to put the kit together them selves, some will be lucky enough to have friends/ relatives who can help them out and those both pressure off the help desk to support the people who really can't manage it. You can either take the time to ensure everything is fully configured and tested (my usual approach) or you can get kit out to as many people and possible then mop-up the issues over the next few days. When a team sized to deploy 10-20 machines a day are suddenly asked to deploy several hundred some corners do need to be cut

Azure admins' cold sweat likely caused by a 'isolated' power problems that browned out West Central USA region

PM from Hell

Gaming and video conferencing don't mix

I used to be a member of a small consultancy group. Our MD decided that we should have more regular meetings, as we were all working on different sites we did these remotely using Skype (many years ago).

The call would always end with the MD swearing at us for not buying fast enough connections as voice quality went down and down until the call would fail.

After a few cycles of this we realised that the call failure happened about 30 minutes after schools closed. He was the only person with school age kids, sure enough his sons were getting in from school and as he was ensconced in his office with a message that they must not disturb him they were taking advantage of the fact that he wouldn't be checking on them to give homework a miss and sign on to world of warcraft.

Cyber-wrath of Iran for top general's assassination hasn't progressed beyond snooping and nicking logins... yet

PM from Hell

Cyber terorists won't attack hardened targets

They are far more likely to target logistic hubs, local power generation or transmission / gas transport networks , water companies etc. Throw in a few hospitals and it may feel like the end of civilisation.

No power, no water, no way to buy petrol, no food deliveries and no healthcare.



Your McDonald's demo has expired. For full functionality, please purchase a licence or try another fast-food joint

PM from Hell

Never ever ever ever install a demo version on a production box

Or install the software without the license key. Every single time I've given in and done this the demo expired before the license key arrived. Delay the roll out, if it's an opening escalate it to the business sponsor, by pass procurement rules, borrow a company credit card, use personal relationships with the vendor. If all else fails use your credit card. This is the project managers responsibility I have never asked a techie to do any of that.

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

PM from Hell

Re: "Our service helps overcome these issues"

I've had IP address clashes on my homehub when everything is set to dynamic. The hub through a wobbly, crashed and restarted (many times) the hub cleared down the local routing table and allocated new addresses for connected devices. Powered off devices retained their original IP address. It took a while to diagnose as several of the devices are powered from TV's and power up and connect as soon as the tv is turned on.

In the end I had to factory reset half a dozen things and force several others to renew their IP addresses before the network became stable again.

Fire Brigades Union warns of wonky IT causing dangerous delays in 999 control rooms

PM from Hell

Re: Maybe the FBU shouldn't have sabotaged FiReControl then

It's very interesting how offensive you manage to be on several levels.

When the original system, was designed GPS and routing systems were still piss poor and completely ineffective with dealing with road closures etc. Call handlers in rural locations had a huge amount of local knowledge which was used to decide which station would be alerted. The closest station my not be the quickest to respond when there in a Welsh mountain in the way or a river like the Trent if there is a blocked bridge.

Even now I'm not convinced that an automated system realises which farmyards a fire engine can cut through to bypass a road blockage. Or where there are likely to be delays caused by on-road parking issues in a road through a housing development.

You'll never select all and mark as read again after this tale of peril... Oh, who are we kidding? Of course you will

PM from Hell

Re: Assaulted

I spent the weekend in a diagnostic centre where two unrelated bits of work caused chaos and hell, luckily I was very fit at the time.

There were 4 of us on shift covering the whole weekend in an office with 60+ desks. Some internal offices were in the process of being dismantled and the wall panels were being stacked in the aisle between unused areas of desks awaiting collection. it should have had no impact on us weekend workers other than a bit of noise and some banter with the contractors.

Unfortunately a PBX config cock up turned our office into a single call group, rather than calls coming in going to our teams 4 phones they were hitting any phone in the office, ringing 6 times then transferring to another random phone.

This lead to hours of trying to wait until a call hit a phone close to you then leaping over tools, piles of office bits or desks to grab the phone. It took several hours to get hold of some one who could get a telephone tech on site and several more while he worked out what had been done and backed it out. Thankfully the fault was fixed and Sunday was a quiet day. I seem to remember that was one of the rare occasions where we did nap in the office

Internet's safe-keepers forced to postpone crucial DNSSEC root key signing ceremony – no, not a hacker attack, but because they can't open a safe

PM from Hell

This sounds like a lost opportunity for a DR test

Why didn't they move the ceremony to the back up location on Thursday? This seems exactly the situation that the alternative site was built for.

Ah, night shift in the 1970s. Ciggies, hipflasks, ADVENT... and fault-prone disk drives the size of washing machines

PM from Hell

Re: How to treat newly comissioned mainframes

I worked on one mainframe installation where the machine failed its first inspection for 'saw marks on the upper side of the cabinet' It was a desk height machine and a carpenter had used it as a saw bench.

)This was not covered buy the warranty or hardware maintenance :)

Vulture discovers talons are rubbish for building Lego's International Space Station

PM from Hell

I've got a 'LAB' for the ISS

I l like the idea of a canine 'lab' at the ISS. I'll volunteer Henry my 18 month old Labrador Retriever and I'll go along as K9 Handler '

So you locked your backups away for years, huh? Allow me to introduce my colleagues, Brute, Force and Ignorance

PM from Hell

Re: Seen in the wild

I had an aged car years ago where the starter motor would occassionally stick I carried a tailor made bit of 2X4 and a hammer in the boot to free it. It never did completely fail

Take DOS, stir in some Netware, add a bit of Windows and... it's ALIIIIVE!

PM from Hell

Re: All washed away like tears in rain

I pushed my team through CNE training and certification. It was all paper based until the exam. There were a couple of errors in the answers one of which would make you fail. Candidates were briefed on the 'acceptable' answer before the course, on the course and before the exam, I still had one very able technician who could not put the 'wrong' answer into the exam and took 3 attempts to pass. He had a PHD in nuclear physics.

How a Kaggle Grandmaster cheated in $25,000 AI contest with hidden code – and was fired from dream SV job

PM from Hell

Spaying and neutering dogs

Your comment made me incandescent with rage. It comes from a 1970's understanding of dog behaviour. Fortunately there has been a lot of research into both the psychology and the physiology of dogs in the past 50 years. My own research into the subject has concentrated on males as I had a male pup. But some points are applicable to dogs of both sexes

1/ Responsible owners of pedigree animals do not allow random mating's to occur

owners of male dogs can tell when they scent a bitch in heat and will put them on a lead. Responsible owners of female dogs don't walk them in public parks etc when they are in heat

2/ Early neutering of males used to be seen as a responsible option. This is no longer the case, dogs should not be neutered until they are fully grown, early neutering will increase the risk of joint issues, hip dysplasia arthritis dues to joint wear and tear etc. in larger breed dogs they are not mature until 2 years old. By this age most dogs will have finished training and so neutering does not bring any benefits

3/ Neutering was believed to reduce the risk of cancer in dogs, this is now shown not to be true, obviously removing the reproductive organs will prevent that cancer but research now shows it will increase the risk of other cancers

4/ Neutering of males was thought to provide a docile dog. In reality juvenile dogs often suffer periods of fear, its a development phase, neutering during that phase will 'fix' the dog in that state

5/ neutering was thought to prevent 'humping' this is a juvenile behaviour which can be trained out. Dogs are either trained to stop hunting or carry on regardless of whether they are neutered or not. Female dogs also hump it is driven as much as dominant behaviour as sexual.

6/ there is a small but real risk that neutering a dog may result in personality changes. I have read heartbreaking stories of males who have changed completely after castration. Anyone who has owned a dog knows they quickly become a valued friend and family member, you love your dog for who He/ she is, you know their personality and quirks, seeing them radically change is akin to losing them.

There are male dogs who become distressed when they scent a bitch in heat and may not be trainable to behave appropriately but these are a small minority of males.

The time that Sales braved the white hot heat of the data centre to save the day

PM from Hell

Re: The quiet hero almost never gets the beer.

Of course any sensible tech support manager would have run the tape systems in parallel for at least 4 weeks gradually migrating processes to the new devices. This would normally involve testing older not recently accessed tapes as drive heads can drift and this can lead to a tape only being readable on the older device.

Those furious gun-toting Aussies were just a glitch. Let's try US drone deliveries, says Wing

PM from Hell

Re: Seriously

There was a hilarious segment in an episode of temple where a purloined transplant kidney ended up sweared all over a road. I'm the value of a transplant organ is measured in tens of thousands of pounds in medical resources alone, let alone athe extended lifetime if the recipient which must be in the hundreds of thousands. I can't see a transplant service using such a fragile delivery system. I machine they will stick with medical couriers.

150 infosec bods now know who they're up against thanks to BT Security cc/bcc snafu

PM from Hell

Re: Not at all suprised

I managed the telephony contract re-tender for a county council.

A key requirement was for the incumbent supplier to give us a full list of all lines, locations and tariffs. Unfortunately they couldn't provide this with any level of accuracy as they had accidentally transferred all the city council lines to our account previously. Whilst billing was correct they couldn't manage to provide a report which just had our properties. We also had a suspiciously large number of out-of-county lines. Whilst we had a couple of care homes and outward bound type educational establishments we didn't own the public payphone in the middle of an RAF base or various magistrates courts scattered around the UK. When we asked for a similar report from out mobile phone provider hey sent us a complete extract of all mobile numbers, usage, phone type user name and contact details within 48 hours. The only problem was they sent the data from a completely different County Council.

Remember the 1980s? Oversized shoulder pads, Metal Mickey and... sticky keyboards?

PM from Hell

HSE fone mad !!

I worked on a chemical plant which processed fluorine based compounds, the feedstock was chlorine broken from sea water and Phosphoric acid was one of the end products.

We never had any problems with kit caused by chemicals. I thought he basic idea of working with this stuff was never to let it vent to air !!

A History of (Computer) Violence: Wait. Before you whack it again, try caressing the mouse

PM from Hell

Re: Percussive maintenance

Percussive maintenance was a real thing on Mainframe kit. Especially printer and hard disk drives.

Over time the arms holding the disc read write heads would drift out of alignment. This would start to cause read write errors as they were drifting outside the track. Left long enough then the disc would become unreadable when they were re-adjusted. The initial official repair was to loosen the mountings and adjust the orientation of the arm. Needless to say making an adjustment of 1/10 millimetre then tightening the bracket always lead to extended outages and much swearing by the hardware engineer.when the work was complete to the 'correct' specification the data was often unreadable and would need to be restored from a backup.

One senior engineer decided to tackle the symptom and instead of returning the drive to spec, 'adjusted' the position of the arm by hitting the heavy aluminium bracket with a 3 pound hammer. a heavy tap would result in a tiny deformation. the fix time generally came down from a half day to a few minutes with access to the data retained. But as the engineer said it's not hitting it with the hammer that's the skill its knowing where and how hard to hit it. Line printers had similar issues as the print band slipped out of alignment but that was a far rarer event. what was quite hilarious to see was the hammer used for the job, Most Mainframe engineering tools were works of art, carefully crafted to both do the job and re-enforce what a wonderful device was being worked on and how skilled our engineers were. as the hammer wasn't an official tool it tended to be one used in a previous life as a tech in the Royal Air Force or Royal Engineers (most senior engineers had learned a trade doing National Service)

BBC said it'll pull radio streams from TuneIn to slurp more of your data but nobody noticed till Amazon put its foot in it

PM from Hell

BBC channels on Tunein remains on dumb smart speakers

I have a couple of Bose Soundtouch systems which I use to as streaming devices, both are continuing to receive BBC channels.

I have done some research and according to the BBC website the change is only applicable to 'smart' devices. It may even just be restricted to Alexa. \I must admit my research concluded once I realised I was OK.

The immovable object versus the unstoppable force: How the tech boys club remains exclusive

PM from Hell

Re: Misguided

Whilst I appreciate the sentiment, women have always had the right to be respected. I've been in IT for over 30 years when I started 30% of the team or more were female this has dropped and dropped and I'm now surprised when i come across a female dev. The proportion is higher in long established teams but the I don't see a lot of new blood coming through.

I think we have a cultural issue which ends to be addressed. This is only my experience and I'd love to be wrong but young male dev teams seem to get very 'blokey' and end up creating a hostile environment for women. I feel that us older members of the tech community need to help foster a more inclusive environment by example. I've tried to do this with as couple of teams but it does mean you need to sit down with the guys and point out how their behaviour appears. I've had variable success with this approach, some teams are genuinely shocked that they might appear hostile and are happy to dial it back, others just complain that women need to grow a thicker skin. The latter attitude needs challenging if we are going to improve the situation. I personally find a more diverse team (including ethnicity and sexuality as well as gender) tends tp be a kinder, more caring environment with in built support for team members. It doesn't mean they don't have to meet tight deadlines or work the stupid hours we all do during project deadlines. It does mean that as a manager you might get someone warning you when a team member is struggling before they burn out

IR35 blame game: Barclays to halt off-payroll contractors, goes directly to PAYE

PM from Hell

Re: IR35 idiocy

Having done a stint in Germany I really enjoyed it what, I didn't enjoy was checking into the airport at 5:50 in the morning ans not landing until 21:00 on a Friday night. I was only a 30 minute drive from the airport in the UK but a 2 hour drive at the German end,. On that contract the £450 per week flights, hire car and accommodation was paid for by my client, as the role was officially based in the UK, think about what rate you'd need to achieve to cover those costs. Then wonder if there are locals with the same experience and knowledge who have the same skills who can bill in 50% cheaper. I was worth the money as the clients head office was in the UK and it was an English speaking organisation my ability to work with our UK suppliers and technology partners made them willing to pay the bills. This was a short term engagement which rolled on for a year in 6 week increments, so there was no option to bring the wife and kids over nor to rent a house so it was Hotels all the way.

Open-source companies gather to gripe: Cloud giants sell our code as a service – and we get the square root of nothing

PM from Hell

Conference Theme Tune

It should obviously have been the Flying Lizards song Money

Google age discrimination case: Supervisor called me 'grandpa', engineer claims

PM from Hell

Re: Ageism

|I had s similar experience after being headhunted by the services director of a consultancy company.

Having had several telephone calls with him I was invited down to London for an interview with the board.

It turned out on the day that there was a meeting with a 'HR Specialist' prior to the interview. I had a conversation with someone who seemed to know nothing about the industry, had no common cultural touch points but was obsessed with web and social media initiatives (I was being recruited as a senior large systems integration consultant). I never got to the interview as the HR Flak decided I didn't have the required 'spark' to fit in with the company culture.

Justice served: There is no escape from the long server log of the law

PM from Hell

Re: Surely...

My daughter is a cabin supervisor for Emirates, when she started the recruitment process she accidentaly booked an assessment centre in Rome. Luckily she didn't have the money for the air tickets as she was going to go ahead rather than call and change the location tot he UK. It hadn't occurred to her that the assessment centres would be performed in the local language

COBOL: Five little letters that if put on a CV would ensure stable income for many a greybeard coder

PM from Hell

Re: IF Year > 50

Having managed a mainframe team in the 90's I would seriously dispute the savings, DASD was cheap CPU & Memory was expensive, anything I could do to increase throughput without having to upgrade was cost effective.

If you were using a century number there must have been a few cpu cycles used every time a data was processed so when we started tackling Y2K we went for 4 character years.

One of the system's I managed was an IBM Mainframe and the next CPU upgrade meant a change in OS licensing costs which would have resulted in a huge increase for me. Buying second user 3390 discs was very, very cheap and produced perfectly acceptable throughput. This delayed upgrading the DASD subsystems until I invested in an EMC array, and put of a CPU upgrade from a 4381 for several years until the ES9000 appeared which was the same OS. It also avoided the huge expense of moving from an air-cooled processor to water cooled.

From pen-test to penitentiary: Infosec duo cuffed after physically breaking into courthouse during IT security assessment

PM from Hell

Re: hire a more reputable firm

I Agree

Every pen test I have ever commissioned has had a very detailed scope. As I'm normally commissioning new services within corporate clients they have the estate regularly pen tested and the pen test of a new app is restricted to remote working. Every work package submitted by the pen test company has been absolutely explicit that physical access would not be required.

Right-click opens up terrifying vistas of reality and Windows 95 user's frightful position therein

PM from Hell

And how do you show a space

As a very junior programmer at the time, I had been taught to explicitly show spaces on coding forms* as an upside down triangle. Low and behold when I used this notation on a used guide for one of the first PC applications I built I got a very confused call from the end user who has spent an hour trying to find the key on the keyboard.

*Programmers were notoriously bad typists back than and it was deemed cheaper and more efficient to employ data entry clerks who would type in the code on our behalf

Tesla Autopilot crash driver may have been eating a bagel at the time, was lucky not to get schmeared on road

PM from Hell

You do know it's the 21st century don't you

With a profession which struggle to recruit and retain talented female colleagues it really is about time we grew up and stopped this kind of crap. Yes I do have a sense of humour but this was not funny and is just another acidic drip which make women feel uncomfortable in our tech communities.

The time a Commodore CDTV disc proved its worth as something other than a coaster

PM from Hell

We had a similar problem, After repeated PC thefts from some buildings we had to use we put PC cages in, we couldn't leave the keys accessible or the thieves would use them so installed lockable key safes, but where was the key to our key safe to be kept. One enterprising manager used to keep our key in the key safe for the building keys and kept the key for that in a jar on her desk full of her collection of redundant filing cabinet keys. It was a physical demonstration of obfuscation.

Whilst thieves could have broken into the key safes with a sledgehammer we were inventive about where they were installed. There was no point in using a sledgehammer on the cage as the PC was destroyed before the door broke open.

we didn't stop the PC theft problem locally but we did train the thieves to go to easier targets.

Summer vacations put an end to rampant desktop crimewave

PM from Hell

Insulated coffee mugs

I worked for a company on a COMA site, they had a great health and safety record and were so proud they had some insulated coffee mugs printed up with '365 days without a reportable accident' on them these were not the standard starbucks like vessel with a clip on lid, these were like tankards with a thick rim around the base for stability, foam filled voids and a large screw on lid which prevented spillages even if the mug was dropped, this really was a big deal. The clock finally ticked over after a full year without a single reportable accident and the mugs were distributed, followed a couple of hours later by an email requesting people to take care about hot contents, One of the management team had returned to his desk after a couple of hours gap, taken a swig of what he thought would be tepid coffee and found out it was still near boiling pint. It was a close run thing but it was decided that accident wasn't reportable. In the end most people didn't use the mugs because they did keep the drinks too hot and were uncomfortable to use without the lids screwed on.

When you play the game of Big Spendy Thrones, nobody wins – your crap chair just goes missing

PM from Hell

Re: "disk drives the size of top-loading washing machines"

I was once asked to inspect a low level cabinet on an ICL S39 system for 'delivery damage' I was booked for the system build and operator training, I was there on the day of delivery and everything was shiny and new,on the Monday Morning there were deep scores across the top corner of the cabinet,inside the vents there were scraps of sawdust.

It turned out there had been joiners in over the weekend completing the installation of some cupboard doors and the felt that a clean, brand new computer suite was an appropriate place for sawing the wood for the frames and a £250,000 cpu would make a good workbench. I had to put in the strangest call ever for a hardware engineer to clean and retest the CPU and recommended a deep clean of the floor void but the customer never did get the cabinet repaired.

Tesla’s Autopilot losing track of devs crashing out of 'leccy car maker

PM from Hell

Re: 110 Software Engineers on the wall...

It’s only correct if Elon had them executed

Front-end dev cops to billing NSA $220,000 for hours he didn't work

PM from Hell

Re: Huh?

He should be liable for the whole amount, the debt was incurred in good faith by the company he was working through and the government lost the full amount. If the Subcontracting companies do repay their profit margin less overheads and costs of investigation that could be taken off his debt but the investigation costs may actually increase his debt if that approach is taken.

But what kind of idiot attempts time fraud in a secure environment. I remember combating this back in the 90's purely by using system login details and phone logs, we had a contractor working on another contract on our time, contrary to the agreed work plan.

I suspect this was as simple as he was claiming for whole periods when he wasn't on site and a supervising manager just called the facilities department and asked for the access logs. No other technology was needed. If he wasn't on-site he couldn't be working.

Microsoft has Windows 1.0 retrogasm: Remember when Windows ran in kilobytes, not gigabytes?

PM from Hell

ICL Personal Computers

At that point ICL was trying to go it alone with their own range of PC's and put Gem on top of the OS. I Can remember if it was a DOS or C/PM variant.

The previous range of personal computers were the DRS20 machines which did run CP/M you could configure them to run multiple processes and even install a second CPU board on some of them but they were entirely green screen

The network address the DRS20 was set by a couple of thumb-wheels 'hidden' behind a hinged cover beside the screen. You could actually configure up to 54 machines on one network!! In my first job I had to diagnose why networks would stop dear after some bored worker had changed the address of his computer and it clashed with another on their network. As there was normally only one computer per office this could involve visiting up to 16 offices before I resolved it (imagine 16 users on a single network)

They were both actually very good machines but the IBM PC swept everything away before it

Oracle goes on for 50 pages about why it thinks the Pentagon's $10bn JEDI cloud contract stinks

PM from Hell

Re: Maturity Gap

Computer Associates data-centre monitoring and management suite was called CA- Unicenter The Next Generation



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