* Posts by Chairman of the Bored

932 publicly visible posts • joined 19 Apr 2017

Is that a stiffy disk in your drive... or something else entirely?

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Re. Zip disks

I remember that now! Typical beancounter behavior. ISTR there was a big class action lawsuit in the US, and the remedy was ... rebates on future Iomega purchases.

Have another go? No thanks, I'm done.

Chairman of the Bored

1.2M or 1.44M?

I cannot remember if the 1.2M were more reliable than the 1.44M, but I can definitely understand your experience.

Right when I was trying to figure out what floppy to use, a weapon of mass distraction attack diverted my attention:

The Iomega Zip drives entered my life. The 100MB were crap and the 250MB were crap getting imploded to critical mass. We then "upgraded" to the Iomega Jazz drives... and Iomega itself failed soon thereafter. Trusting data to Zip was like shooting yourself in the foot on full auto.

Chairman of the Bored

Re: That’s a new one!

You beat me to posting about the slide!

Here's some CD stupidity for you: had an office where the security officer decreed that ALL media shall be labelled according to it's sensitivity. Fair enough ... The team wrote classification levels on their CDs with sharpie markers. NOT GOOD ENOUGH thundered the security officers, "Thou shalt use media stickers!". So everyone dutifully put stickers on the CDs... And bustification ensued.

Chairman of the Bored

Help! My stiffies stuck in the slot

Back when I was younger lad making do with my little 3.5in stiffies, I worked for some rather frugal people who would scour the Earth looking for bulk quantities of cheap media.

I remember multiple lots of generic beige discs where the little sheet metal piece that covers the read/write aperture (stiffie's foreskin?) would break off inside the drive. We became quite adept at opening the drives to clean out the debris. It got to the point where my PS/2 had no screws installed, I could whip that bad boy out of my chassis in a flash.

What the staff never understood is how the firm thought it was saving money when so much labor went into fixing drives, and the stiffies themselves generally suffered from amnesia.

Menu mischief and interface deceit targeted by US lawmakers

Chairman of the Bored
Paris Hilton


Typical lawyerly text. I like the intent, but the whole technical side of my brain keeps whispering the question, "In what way can one unambiguously or quantifiably determine a given UI is a dark pattern?"

Reminds me of the struggles the Supreme Court has had defining pr0n. Justice Potter Stewart tried to explain "hard-core" pornography, by saying, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced... [b]ut I know it when I see it ..."

Paris because, the man saw it.

Want to learn about lithium-ion batteries? An AI has written a tedious book on the subject

Chairman of the Bored

For a great example of what a human can do...

Go check out:


Granted this is absolutely not academic writing. Nothing at that site will help a materials scientist push the boundaries of chemistry and physics.

But the site is nevertheless a great example of technical writing. Written by humans, for humans, with the intention of making then more effective in employing technology. AI writers can put THAT site in their pipe and smoke it.

Scare-bnb: Family finds creeper cams hidden in their weekend rental by scanning Wi-Fi

Chairman of the Bored

Dad missed a trick

First of all, good on the dad for a job well done and handling the incident in a calm manner. I would have been tempted to perform a bit of vandalism, cyber or physical

The trick he missed is to see if the surveillance is active and aggressive. When I was working in a certain central European country, my colleagues and I had a fun playing find-the-cam in our hotel rooms. Clock radio and phone seemed common. TV bezel was just a given, just throw your jacket over the TV. When you had good reason to suspect, say, the dark circle on the clock face was not kwite right ... Call your mates over to show them a "really important document" kept just outside the probable field of view of the clock face. Oooh and ahh, then go out for a pint. On your return? Note the new position of the clock, phone, or whatever! Just like magic.

In the AirBNB I'd be curious to see if the smoke detector rotates to image fun times outside the FOV

Good times.

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

Chairman of the Bored

I must've had the best walk to school

Can understand your coal lorry affinity, but somehow I got the deal of a lifetime - my walking route took me past a commercial bakery and a coffee roaster. Made friends with the owner of the roaster and sometimes worked there. Good times!

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Confession

Where the cash goes... Tore down a clothes dryer one time to identify the source of some grinding noises. Came out ahead by over $40, in the form of a very clean and slightly scorched 20 note, a bunch of fives, some charred ones and some change.

Chairman of the Bored

Re: The "stiffy" problem

Looking for a stuffy when all he's got is a floppy? We've got pills to help out with that. Consult your local, friendly physician

Chairman of the Bored

Large floppies

I seem to recall that only real reliability problems with 5.25" disks occurred when reading a 360k floppy on a 1.2MB drive. Smaller heads vs larger track sizes. Just not quite compatible

Watch out, Bali! Big Bluers set to realign their chakras at Best of IBM event in May

Chairman of the Bored

Just to be clear..

By "no elevator pitches", you mean the BOFH is specifically prohibited from engineering scenarios in which consultants 'accidentally' fall down elevator shafts?

So I guess we are left with defenestration. Ok, I'm good with that.

Spyware sneaks into 'million-ish' Asus PCs via poisoned software updates, says Kaspersky

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Same file length?

”All this smacks of an insider. Who else would have access to the signing key?"

Indeed. Smart money says you are looking for the recently separated employee who has an extremely nice house, hot car, good liquor and no debt... Along with no visible means of support.

One alternative explanation is that Asus' development environment has been pwned and modified for 'remote access'. If you're Asus' that is a pretty terrifying thought.

Don't have a heart attack but your implanted defibrillator can be hacked over the air (by someone who really wants you dead)

Chairman of the Bored

'Recommend continued use...'

Well, no ship, Sherlock! I'd say if you've got that kit wedged in your chest you're kind of committed to completing the therapy. Just swapping the unit seems a little tough.

Ah, this military GPS system looks shoddy but expensive. Shall we try to break it?

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Audiophile porn?

Sounds good. Literally. For me I experienced peak audio BS when a guy at work was talking through his, er, line out port that the gold plated digital cables give one better sound.

Chairman of the Bored

Audiophile porn?

Pro tip... instead of spending hundred of pounds per meter for monstrous chunks of oxygen-free copper (hand oiled by Tahitian virgins), do what the pros do:

Use ribbon cable. All odd conductors one polarity, even conductors the other. Idea is ot minimizes inductance by getting the area of the Amperian loops as small as possible. Inductance is far lower for a given cost than going with a large pair of conductors. You can run a lot of power over a 50 conductor ribbon, I run 100W avg without hesitation. Heat dissipation works well because of the geometry. Connectors are almost too cheap to meter. AND the darn speaker runs lay flat in cable trays.

You're welcome!

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Sorry, but...

Heh! I will see your BOWMAN and raise you a JTRS. *That* radio put the 'S' in POS. $38k each. No workie.

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Miltary testing

When vehicle-mounted whip antenna collides with overhanging tree limbs, overpasses, and whatnot failure is definitely possibility.

I saw an fun test method: a 6x6 oak beam extends between two buildings at a known height. A whip antenna mounted on a HMMWV going at a max speed is crashed into it. One hell of a "whaaaap!" sound is heard! Repeat to failure, record number of cycles, document failure mechanism...

Chairman of the Bored

I've destroyed millions!

And gotten paid to do so! But it was my duty to do so, of course, all for the sake of making products that are Marine-proof.

Highly Accelerated Life Test / Highly Accelerated Stress Screening... when used properly and in an engineering paradigm that embraces failure is an extremely powerful tool for making products robust. The idea is to drive failures as fast as possible, learn, fix, repeat. Its like fuzz testing, but in the physical domain.

But I will admit its fun to take a one of a kind artifact and simultaneously give it 100g's of vibe on six axes, abuse its power supply input, and repetitively ramp it from -100DegC to 100DegC as fast as liquid nitrogen and cartridge heaters can take it. Parts fly off, smoke erupts, "unbreakable" boxes get a weird rattle to them software locks up. Good times!

Your reward us that you get to see products go from crap to bulletproof very quickly.

Boffins put the FUN into fungus by rigging yeast to squirt out the active ingredients in cannabis

Chairman of the Bored

Darn academics...

"That means academics are on the lookout for cheap, pure sources of the cannabinoids."

If they want the good s--t, they just need to go off campus. What you're looking for is usually behind frat row. Short haircut, souped up Honda product with really nice rims.

Do not under any circumstances do business with a guy in an American car. No matter how chill he looks, he's a cop.

Now for good crank, you gotta stay on campus and go to...

'They took away our Cup-a-Soup!' Share your tales of bleak breakout areas with us

Chairman of the Bored

@NightFox. Sounds horrid. Why didn't they swap out the beer for Victory Gin?

Chairman of the Bored

One water cooler use case

One place I worked in had an extremely nice flex-time policy. Great perk.

Unfortunately the flex time and dealing with civilians in general rubbed our new Great Leader the wrong way. He was a newly retired Marine who seemed to combine the aggressiveness of Chesty Puller with the ego of MacArthur.

So the story (perhaps apocryphal) goes:

GL: "We need some serious discipline here. People wandering in and out whenever they fscking feel like it... That's BS! Everyone will be at their desks at 0800 sharp..."

Deputy: "Sir... you do have the authority to order that. But what's going to happen is that everyone will just stand around the water cooler from 0800-1100 bitching about your policy..."

Chairman of the Bored

Full stop

El Reg's got beer on tap? Oh, hell yes - that's an office I can believe in.

In hilariously petulant move, Apple shuts Texas stores and reopens them few miles down the road – for patent reasons

Chairman of the Bored

Re: My daughter learned in medical school...

She told me a case where that happened. In Texas, but I need to ask her where.

Here is the deal: in the US, OB-GYN have a rough go of it because they get sued about once per year. Some of the cases are legit, but mostly its due to reality: birth defects sometimes happen. Its a tragedy for the child and parents but stuff happens. Usually the OB is sued.

One particular lawyer in TX apparently built a lot of his firm around suing OB's specifically. So the OB practices in his town refused to serve his pregnant wife, and she had to seek all pre-natal and delivery services elsewhere. So he sued every doctor. And lost, (Yesss!!!!)

Unless you discriminate against someone who can scream loud and long to the press, you can still refuse service in the US.

Chairman of the Bored

My daughter learned in medical school...

Feed a cold. Starve a lawyer.

Now you've read about the bonkers world of Elizabeth Holmes, own some Theranos history: Upstart's IT gear for sale

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Look who was on the board of directors!

"I hope she gets a good long stretch in a regular state prison."

Aye! And we know the probability of that, eh? If she gets sentenced to anything at all, we will probably end up subsidizing a holiday with sewing circles, peloton, and goat cheese pizza

Why we tolerate a justice system where some criminals get absolute shithole cells and others a nice hotel stay is beyond my comprehension. You'd this some "real" prisoners could make a case that they are denied their 14th amendment 'equal protection' protection or something...

Chairman of the Bored

Re: "a person without qualifications.. raise huge sums..inflate..the company up to $9bn"

"But I still notice that nowhere it is written how much they actually raised and how many people beyond the few famous names fell for the scam."

Fair enough, and I don't think the author of the article or anyone else knows. From here on out its BS all the way down. Defrauded investors are going to inflate their losses to shelter their assets from tax... Insurance firms will try to minimize their loss magnitude, unless they think their subrogation contractors have an easy win. The press will want big, sensational numbers. Former board members will lowball to reduce their apparent culpability.

At the end of the day all that will be left are some very happy lawyers, on all sides. I view lawyers as the friction force on society... in the end that's where all our money gets dissipated. Whatever money got offshored is gone forever, along with depreciation on all the equipment Theranos bought. And the taxpayer will definitely have to pay for justice.

This makes me sad and a little hostile.

Chairman of the Bored

Re: "a person without qualifications.. raise huge sums..inflate..the company up to $9bn"

Where did the other $8,500,000,000.00 go? Nowhere. Most of it never existed. The $9B figure is a fantasy the street calls "valuation" which is the sum of its capital (~$500M of borrowed cash plus some bits and baubles of lab gear) plus the value of Theranos' patent and other intellectual property.

When it become apparent the firm's intellectual property was a steaming mass of bullshit, its value dropped instantly. And given that the IP was used as collateral to secure loans, a lot of investors got screwed. I'm sure the big ones will be first in line though for whatever comes put of liquidation.

Never underestimate the vapor pressure of hot, fresh bullshit. We just saw about.$8.5B worth evaporate...

Chairman of the Bored

My boss' analysis

If you drag a thousand dollar bill through the 'hood, you get the MS-13 gang.

Drag the same bill through silicon valley and you get Theranos

Amazon Prime Air flight crashes in Texas after 6,000ft nosedive

Chairman of the Bored

Re: The pilot will be blamed

Um, nope.

Went to school with a gentleman who has become an aero engineer (structures flavor) and a member of NTSB. Early in his career he did a fair amount of crash scene work. Any man willing to wade waist to chest deep in a fetid Florida swamp, surrounded by death, jet fuel, and various reptiles while looking for aircraft crumbs has got balls of stainless steel and truly uncommon dedication. He would acquit himself well on any battlefield, but is also a highly trained aero. One of many.

Read the reports. NTBS works in a perfect storm of conflict - they are caught between the aircraft vendor, engine vendor, FAA, airline company, subsystem vendors, pilot union, meteorological people, and so on. A small organization, they rely on information from all of those warring tribes and somehow manage to arrive at solid, well reasoned, and effective analysis. Note the NTSB doesn't just do aircraft. Go to their website, read the reports, and watch the taped briefings. This is one of the few chunks of the US Govt I don't mind funding at tax time.

Note as well their counterparts in the UK, EU, etc. ... pretty much any ICAO-signatory country... are generally damn good.

Read the reports and watch a little less of the "Air Crash Investigators" TV show.

Chairman of the Bored


The industry will definitely be paying attention to this report. The B767 is one of the safest airframes out there measured in fatalities per passenger-mile. Even if one includes three hijackings with fatal outcomes that remains true. So, a little surprising.

I always pay attention to B767 safety, as I nearly had a little problem somewhere around 1986 or so. New aircraft, and the design was still pretty new. I was walking past an entry door that had just been closed and the emergency slide flopped off the door into the little vestibule; had that inflated the flight attendant inches from me and myself would have had one hell of a bonding experience being crushed together. Not significant in the scheme of things but had my attention at the time.

Who needs malware? IBM says most hackers just PowerShell through boxes now, leaving little in the way of footprints

Chairman of the Bored

Ironic that...

...We have to use Power Shell to remove a lot of crap and cruft from Win 10 to make it suck less and hopefully reduce the attack surface

Blue Monday: Efforts to inspire teamwork with swears back-fires for n00b team manager

Chairman of the Bored

In every GANNT chart..

I make sure there is a Software Hardware Integration Task (SHIT) job for someone. Why? It becomes immediately flaming obvious whether anyone bothers to review the artifact. On the rare occasion I get caught off base I pull a innocent, "Oh, damn. Thanks. Don't know where my mind was, after squeezing out several hundred lines of tasks..."

Written in honor of a man I went to basic training with, Mr Richard Holden. I will never forget the look on my DI's face when he realized he now had a recruit he could scream "HOLDEN, DICK...!" to. The possibilities were endless.

IBM so very, very sorry after jobs page casually asks hopefuls: Are you white, black... or yellow?

Chairman of the Bored

Simple explanation

My guess is that the code was written in an IBM offshore Site of Excellence by a fairly junior programmer with poor cultural skills. Somewhere with a great deal of racial homogeneity. Bangalore comes to mind. The list was races was probably generated through a Google search for "races in the US", applied uncritically.

In the best tradition of MS, nothing was tested or reviewed.

I've been asked by offshore workers whether "I'm a nigger. You sound different..." I've got the check my outrage at the door as the speaker probably hasn't a clue. Trick then is to gently educate without coming across as a triggered nutjob.

What's the frequency, KeNNeth? Neural nets trained to tune in on radar signals to boost future mobe broadband

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Why don't they just geolock it


Believe it or not there was a Navy AN/SPY-1A array smack dab in the midwest for years. The navy gave an obsolete radar to NOAA's severe storms lab, which investigated its phased array tech for tornado forecast\ track. I seem to recall the experiment went extremely well, and that NOAA would love to eventually go to something. SPY-1-like.

Their budget is nowhere near adequate though. I think we are still trying to plug holes in WSR-88D coverage, and have been trying to build that system out since the 80's...

Oracle sued for $4.5m after ERP system delivery date 'moved from 2015 to 2016, then 2017, then... er, never'

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Hmmmm

@Headley_Grange- dear God, man, you just about owe me a new keyboard. Excel and LibreOffice's Calc have been the salvation of several of my employers ater getting victimized by either SAP and Oracle. One bounced straight from SAP .to. Oracle.- that was a clusterf$ck squared

Infosec in spaaace! NCC and Surrey Uni to pore over satellite security

Chairman of the Bored

How? Lots of wires

Supposedly the average high end car these days has a mile of wire, and that is a pretty humble product compared to a satellite.

See- https://www.assemblymag.com/articles/92263-wire-harness-recycling

For some years I've been expecting vehicle wiring harnesses to shrink dramatically due to use of CAN bus or related tech. Why have a whole bundle of wires going to each brake light assembly when you only need a differential pair for CAN plus power? Ground runs through the chassis. Adds cost and complexity... but with literally pounds of copper in a harness at some point adding the complexity will be a fair trade.

Using CAN or other network to reduce wiring complexity also gives you a much more enjoyable attack surface, but I prefer to call that "job security"

For the space vehicle my suspicion is that the "harness" it is not a wire loom in the car sense but rather a whole series of kapton substrate flexible printed circuit boards bearing connectors. Lighter, easier to debug, vastly easier to install, more reliable, more test points, etc. Just takes more engineering $. I can see racking up the km very quickly when each trace added to a flex backplane adds almost no incremental mass

Adding microcontrollers to a space vehicle design is a lot tougher because doing so causes a lot of financial pain - running a full failure mode effects / criticality analysis every time you add another one hurts.

Not so smart after all: A techie's tale of toilet noise horror

Chairman of the Bored

Re: FitBit is insulting

Your bike should be allright as long as your tire doesn't go flat. Just make sure you've got some extra rubber and a pump. Maybe some lube...

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Strangest sounds ever heard from the head...

Sorry about the "head" jargon. No yacht, that's beyond my pay grade. In the military you would either go to the shitter, the can, or (in polite accompany) the head. I'm still wired that way. Maybe we can agree on 'place of solitary contemplation'?

Chairman of the Bored

Strangest sounds ever heard from the head...

The Chairman was once stuck in a mass of parents at a gymnastics event, waiting for his daughter. The waiting area was near the kid's heads. Inside one was a little girl belting out the "Let it GO!" refrain from the insipid Frozen soundtrack, and a dozen people damn near died laughing.

Artificial Intelligence: You know it isn't real, yeah?

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Back off another notch?

Expert Systems... that's an unpleasant blast from the past. I remember undergoing "structured interviews" to capture my "expert domain knowledge" as an RF engineer. Wrong on so many levels... whoever decided I'm an expert needs serious help. More troubling was that the interviewers had no discernable knowledge of RF, EE, or any sort of engineering. My colleagues and I proposed questions we thought should have been obvious candidates for any real knowledge base, but were told 'the software will figure it out'. Sure.

I do not think any software was ever squeezed out, and I think I'm content with that outcome.

Chairman of the Bored

Back off another notch?

I concur with the sentiment for renaming AI to ML. But even then, Joe Public will think "gee, I suck at learning, so I will let a machine do it for me. Obviously it will do better.. "

In my org I'm calling the technology a "decision tool" and "research assistant. I do not think the tech is mature enough to independently make important decisions. By calling it a tool we declare it is (potentially) useful if used by a craftsman, but ultimate responsibility for a quality outcome remains with the human in charge.

I want to move from "Gee, COMPAS told me this guy will..." to "Based on all this information I've considered, in my judgment..."

OK, team, we've got the big demo tomorrow and we're feeling confident. Let's reboot the servers

Chairman of the Bored

Defense in depth

My paranoia and age are growing in tandem. When money is on the line I try to establish four defenses: 1) design freeze for a demo milestone. The demo environment is walled off from both the development and production servers 2) test/demonstration readiness review meeting during which we look back over the numerous ways we've screwed up in the past and discuss what specifically the new design does to avoid a repeat. 3) prepare a video in case all hell breaks loose on the live demo, install and test video on the demo-specific laptop. 4) Full dress rehearsal of the demo system in front of a panel of abusive curmudgeons from unrelated projects.

Once the demo environment is up, one keeps it away from the developers. At all costs.

Still screw up sometimes but at least the screwups are now fairly unique.

Bored bloke takes control of British Army 'psyops' unit's Twitter

Chairman of the Bored

I'll give the attacker an 'A'

For an A-plus we need to change the unit to the 69 Brigade and develop a Monty Python-esque ascii art logo to match

Brit Mars bot named while NASA 'nauts must wait a bit longer for a US rocket trip to the ISS

Chairman of the Bored
Thumb Up

My kind of people!

So the first thing the Scottish build when contemplating rocket science is a still? Oh, heck yeah. I'm all in.

LibreOffice 6.2 is here: Running up a Tab at the NotebookBar? You can turn it all off if you want

Chairman of the Bored

Two things I really like

Libre/Open's equation editor is outstanding. I'm far more productive in it than MS's, which pretty much requires constantly moving a hand between keyboard and rodent. Not as powerful as LaTeX, but not everything is a thesis.

Second thing is that calc can ingest truly enormous amounts of csv data and still run very fast. Ive thrown hundreds of MB into it, with total confidence. Excel? segfault.

Great work!

How I got horizontal with a gimp and untangled his cables

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Office archeology

I thought it was slick, Or I just wanted to get a rise out of someone. I work hard, after all.

Chairman of the Bored

Office archeology

I've found amazing stuff while under the flooring..

...scientific evidence linking dietary habits to developer weight

...personnel files chucked under the floor because the admin couldn't be arsed to file them

...awards, including monetary chits, included in said files

...entire wired and wireless network infrastructure , totally unknown to the IT/IA staff

....and a 3/4 used tube of personal lube. I did a bulletin board announcement asking for someone to claim that.

Crypto exchange in court: It owes $190m to netizens after founder 'dies without telling anyone vault passwords'

Chairman of the Bored

Re: As we get older...

Appreciate the correction on my Shakespeare reference. To be honest when I wrote that I originally thought to write of myself shifting off a register into the bit bucket. While it doesn't have the brutality of the "take a dirt nap" from my service days it still felt depressing.

Not sure what my endianness is at this point, so not sure which way I will go. Will the most significant or least significant bit be the last to go? Depends on whether you ask the ex...