* Posts by Killfalcon

365 posts • joined 7 Jul 2017


Don't touch that dial – the new guy just closed the application that no one is meant to close


Re: Critcal system

It's easy to forget, but the reason we do it "the right way" now is folks back then found out the hard way what didn't work.

I mean, even on a personal basis I'm sure any coder has habits they picked up in the immediate aftermath of a clusterf*ck. I certainly do!


Re: Timely tale in the UK

I've heard of it happening a few times, yes, though never experienced it myself.

I think the really short form is that the halon is held under pressure prior to release, and when it replaces all the air in the room it's a very sudden, loud, bang.

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


Stress can screw with problem solving skills, too, IME.

I've seen very smart, capable people flumoxed by minor problems when they've got imminent (or expired) deadlines and an arsehole manager.

That's exactly when people need things to Just Work. Mind racing ahead to deal with the problems they know they'll have, looming spectre of the PHB in the background, folks can just hit their limit on the most trivial problems, things that normally they'd blink twice and fix for themselves.

Which is great, because it keeps us employed. ;)

Not exactly the kind of housekeeping you want when it means the hotel's server uptime is scrubbed clean


Re: The cleaner did it. In the bedroom. With the vacuum cleaner.

Or the work experience kid!

One of my schoolfriends (a confirmed real human I personally know) got my school blacklisted by a local employer for work-experience placements after he unplugged a file server to make coffee.

In his defence, he was told to make coffee, and the kettle was sat next to the "server" for some reason. I mean, my mate was a dumbass, but the whole thing seems almost inevitable in hindsight.


Re: Not just cleaners

That poor clown's gonna have a very bad day if they try to lay vinyl adhesives with a Vax. A few static zaps between dust in there witht he fumes and he'll be promoted to that great Big Top in the sky to find out how many angels can fit in a tiny car.


The number of times I've seen someone click through warning boxes that would have explained the entir issue if they'd just read them...

Though I blame UI design for putting in too many warnings that you do click through on autopilot. I think a lot of cues can be taken from videogames with their "tutorial messages" thing - put the warnings up for newer users, but later on you're only seeing popups when it's something novel or important.

Disk stuck in the drive? Don't dilly-Dali – get IT on the case!


Re: Droopy Anglepoise

In a-level physics, the teacher gave us a mnemonic "What's a Watt? A Watt is a Joule per sec".

At the time, I thought "this is a terrible mnemoic, it's hardly memorable at all."

Twenty years later, I'm forced to admit it worked.


Re: Variation on a Drying scheme

Back in the day a bunch of my student firends got together to upgrade a friend's computer. He'd had this thing for 4-5 years and got it second hand in the first place, and while they were off visiting folks we thought we'd do something nice for them.

We opened it up (which was an _experience_ for those of us unfamiliar with how much dust builds up in cases) one of use took the HD off to devirus it (which was also an experience, and I was glad to have no part in), and the rest of us set about cleaning the internals enough to work out what hardware we could upgrade with hand-me-downs.

While we were at it I thought "we should clean the keyboard".

Took all the keys off, clean the board out with a brush, and dropped the keys in some hot soapy water to soak for a bit.

I was a bit worried we might end up cleaning the letters off, but they were fine. The spacebar, however? That twisted half-way down the length and no longer fit. Had to just buy a new keyboard.

I heard somebody say: Burn baby, burn – server inferno!


Re: How about a nice long hot summer?

Rural Surrey wasn't the worst place for an office, fantastic views of the wooded vales, the sounds of wind through the trees, the distance whisper of the M25, but it had it's drawbacks at times.

We had a lot of sim work to do, and for a long while people worked at their desktops, and if they needed more firepower, they'd borrow other people's (sometimes without asking). Eventually it was decided (around 2008) we needed some machines dedicated to Production work. Not quite enough will to get actual servers, mind, but still.

We had a tiny meeting room converted into a "server" room, and dedicated air-con stuck on the roof. It was just Pentium 4s, but fifty of them in a 5'*5' room needs cooling!

All was well until the first autumn, when the intakes jammed up with wind-blown leaves and the room got up to 45-ish, hot enough that the door handle was painful to touch from the outside!

It's official: In May, Microsoft will close the door, lock the vault, brick over the entrance of dreaded Windows 10 1809


Re: I give up

Just like IE is the browser you use to install a better browser, Windows is the OS you use to install Steam.

Who needs the A-Team or MacGyver when there's a techie with an SCSI cable?


Re: "an" SCSI cable?



Re: "an" SCSI cable?

Depends how you pronounce it. You'd use "an" if the word starts with a vowel sound, but "an" for a consonant sound even if the letter is different. See "a united front" for example, or "an SSD drive".

So if you say "Skuzzy cable" it's "a" as you lead with a consonant sound. If you say "Ess-Cee-Ess-Eye" then you're wrong.

It's good to talk: Union says IBM failed to consult system support techies as Scottish Power contract nears end


Re: Well IBM is one problem

It's probably mostly about getting away from IBM. My own experience is that no matter the quality of the techies doing the work, IBM's management layera reliably triple the cost to do anything.

Capita Education Services accidentally spaffs email addresses in Helpdesk snafu

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Re: It's a nice idea, but not much help with automated emails

Valid point, you've got me there. It probably wouldn't have helped in this specific case (honestly I think this was already dodging limits of the length of the list), but it'd still be worth doing.


Re: Oh for fucks sake

It's a nice idea, but not much help with automated emails: people who write code that might have to send large group mails would just write their mass mail code to limit the batch size to say, 100 addresses, and send the same email multiple times instead.

Like, uh... this one apparently was.


Theorising wildly:

Someone setup a Resolver Group who's membership was everyone in the directory (either as a test or because the system requires all users belong to a Team), called it "DO NOT USE" and then someone else used it.

Alternatively, "DO NOT USE" has a Null in the team members box and their ticketing system took this to mean "email absolutely everyone about this new ticket".

LastPass stores passwords so securely, not even its users can access them


Re: "Maybe the current outage is a sign"

Helicopters, provided they have both rotor blades still, do "glide", sorta. The blades will continue to auto-rotate and generate a surprising amount of lift that keeps them from falling too quickly. The aerodynamics make my head hurt trying to work it out, but it's a real thing that saves you if the engines fail.


World-record-breaking boffins reveal the fastest spinning thing on Earth – and it's not George Orwell in his grave


Just a "state of the world" comment that fits in the subhead I guess. It's how the kids be these days. [Resigned pessimism], but [small item of joy].

Like "Australia is on fire, but Oracle have invented an exciting new lawsuit for us to gawp at" or "half the cities in the UK will be flooding by 2050, but apple have released the new iPhone".

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


I'm an over-hyped spreadsheet wrangler now (AKA "VBA Developer" or "EUC Specialist", god help me) , but in the early stages of my IT career I had the job of babysitting a room full of 486s running stats for a finance company. They were housed in a "server room" - AKA a converted cloakroom under a post-war office with aircon, some real servers and a UPS for said servers - that one day had a fire.

I got a call on the sunday - can you come in early on monday, check the machines are okay, see what can be up and running before the finance peoples come in.

I agreed, and made my way in at dawn o'clock, wandered down to the basement, badged into the server room, walked past the burned-out hulk of the UPS, and set to work. Most of the old pentiums fired up fine: three out of the 50 didn't. Two were just dead, the other would randomly crash periodically: not bad for a hard-power-off followed by a battery acid fire.

Later in the day I was chatting to the head of our local IBM team, who said "I wanted to go rubberneck, but security say no-one should be down there unaccompanied". Guess who's manager neglected to mention that when calling me in?

So anyway, I had a nasty cough for weeks afterwards. Might not have been related, but... yeah, I probably should have thought of that myself, really.

15 years on, Euroboffins finally work out what it took to send the Huygens Titan probe into such a spin


Re: seems sloppy

I'm not sure that they had all the data needed on atmospheric density, because they'd not gotten any problems there yet. ;)

The "viscosity" of the air can dramatically change how turbulent flow manifests.

Squirrel away a little IT budget for likely Brexit uncertainty, CIOs warned


Re: Moving database ?

It's not uncommon for, say, the French office to be in France and the London Office to be in Reading, but both using a datacentre in Ireland. In that case, it's just the database that needs to move, with a possible bonus headache of what to do with your central functions that currently have access to both sets of data.


Re: "poison for slow, traditional businesses"

Most giants of any sort are still "slow", Agile™ or not. Tesco, Barcs, whoever - they always have legacy garbage fires smouldering away somewhere that make any change a long string of "but what about X?" questions that take time and money to answer.

If you're lucky, those questions happen in planning rather than halfway through implementation.

Why is a 22GB database containing 56 million US folks' personal details sitting on the open internet using a Chinese IP address? Seriously, why?



True, but they don't seem to have stopped (cite: this article we're commenting on), so they can be done for any current breaches.

A Notepad nightmare leaves sysadmin with something totally unprintable


"Error: file in use by Another User" is a recurring nightmare for me.

Y2K? It was all just a big bun-fight, according to one Reg reader


Re: When I were a lad...

The inverse of this error is in the specification of excel's date format, where day 1 is jan 1st 1900, and day 60 is feb 29th 1900.

It's presumably still there because fixing it would break a lot of spreadsheets, but it's something to be aware of if looking at historic data sets!

El Reg presents: Your one-step guide on where not to store electronic mail


Re: Still an issue today

We cheat. Desktop user profiles are synced to the 'user home' network drives at logout and re-downloaded at login. The network drives are backed up, so in theory we can recover deleted items from desktops.

It does mean the folks with massive PSTs have a slower login experience than others, admittedly. I found out all about this when I was running a beowulf cluster under my own user account - probably found every way Novell's profile management could fail back in the day... I really don't miss that.


Re: Just waiting for this to happen

I recently got caught out when I was asked if I needed access to an old scratch drive from an old role. "No" I replied "I haven't needed that in five years. Wait, how did you know to email me?"

Turns out the scratch drive with an advertised TTL of three days since last modified date... had no TTL. At all. Thankfully I'd not put anything there that could have caused issues, but bloody hell...


Re: No Limits!

Maybe a few hours,depending on the length of the email conversation, and how many people's email addresses (time stamps, time zones, etc) you need to get right - which can be very hard if the original address is no longer valid, for instance.

If you're talking discovery (or even FOIA), faking an email trail is basically about getting a dozen small details right and hoping the other side doesn't have the real email trail.


Re: Deleted

Me: "Oh, your PST is full, that happens at 2GB."

User: "Yes, I know, that's why I have five of them."

'Supporting Internet Explorer is hell': Web developers identify top needs – new survey


It's a great tool for running legacy webapps where the developer retired 10 years ago and your outsourced techies quote 100 days work to change in any way. The dark secret of enterprise isn't that the backend mainframe is running 40 year old cobol, it's that you're required to support 5 year old IE 9 appplications...

Also if you have the misfortune of supporting office automation written for IE.... Edge, Chrome, all the "real" browsers work in completely different ways. I'm not even sure if VBA *can* automate Edge.


My main recurrent nightmare isn't webpages that haven't been properly tested, it's the adverts they let a third party display alongside.

Something on this very page is currently using 79% of my CPU. Like... how? When will the advertising ecosystem get around to downranking poorly written adverts?


Re: "If you allow web applications to be more like native apps"

I for one am just lazy and use "the russians" as shorthand, since we've got nearly three generations of them being the baddies in Bond movies and the like.

Also if I say "the NSA" too often they will put me on a List.

Uber forks out $4.4m to settle claims of rampant sexual harassment and retaliation in the Travis Kalanick era


Re: Money money money

Can't we do both? Lock up the crime-doers, compensate their victims, and just to be sure kick out the execs who built a corporate culture rife with criminality and make the company take a hit to the wallet for not fixing it sooner.

British bloke accused of extorting victims for 'Dark Overlord' hacker crew finally gets his free trip* to America


Re: Where is Anne Sacoolas?

The OJ Simpson case had possibly the best outcome possible from the civil case.

He was going to put out a book called "If I Did It", pretty much taunting the family of his victim.

They sued.They got the publishing rights. They published it anyway, but the cover was printed with the "If" in the title greyed out.

So he ended up paying to publish a book that sat on shelves wherever books are sold with the words "I DID IT" in clear bold text next to his face.

Post Office faces potential criminal probe over Fujitsu IT system's accounting failures


Re: Wow, looks like Oracle and ICANN could find some board material here.

People can make mistakes: you "definitely recognised" that guy, sure, but cognitive science has shown that memories can be unreliable, and if pushed just right someone can be convinced that they *should* recognise that guy, and from there they convince themselves that they *do* recognise them. There a reason you need to also prove that the guy you recognise was definitely in the right place (DNA evidence, for instance).

But then, really, that's a massive over simplification. Cases where someone robbed someone else and got recognised are easy , sure, but loads of cases aren't that. They hinge on details: maybe both parties agree that Dave cut down the tree, but Dave says it's on his land and Jeff says it's on his land and hell, they might even both have maps that say as much - until someone gets to the land registry files and found out that Jeff's great-grandad copied the map wrong 90 years ago. Neither was lying. One was *mistaken*, which is different.

Why is the printer spouting nonsense... and who on earth tried to wire this plug?


Re: Not just a wall socket

In my student days, after a few months of ignoring an intermittent buzzing noise from a wall socket, I unplugged the 4-gang that was in it to discover a millimetre-deep trench of blackened metal carved out of the pin.

Nothing caught fire, the fuses never tripped, but damn did that teach me to not ignore buzzing sounds where the power's running.


Re: Earth Connections

When I got my place, it had gas but no central heating. The guy came in, installed the heater, then said the gas was shut off. He produced a safety card that SWLEC had helpfully left behind.

"Gas shut off as testing discovered a voltage across the gas meter".

I was getting a pixie-wrangler in anyway as the main fuse board was about 40 years old, so it was just one more thing for that guy to do, but I was very glad I was moving in in spring, not December.

Remember the Dutch kid who stuck his finger in a dam to save the village? Here's the IT equivalent


You sometimes see similar designs in software UIs

So often you hardly think about it, but a lot of interfaces have buttons or menu items only do things on mouse release, not on-click. Thankfully you can just move the mouse off the element so no-one gets stuck holding LMB for an hour, but lord knows I've narrowly dodged a hundred minor catastrophes because of it.

Motorola's mid-range One Hyper packs 64MP cam, huge screen and – ooo – 'Quad Pixel' tech


"Just 4GB" of RAM?

What do modern phones do that could need more?

Gospel according to HPE: And lo, on the 32,768th hour did thy SSD give up the ghost


Re: Pity it's not a traditional drive...

This is where good old spinning rust is better than these fancy SSDs. As a magnetic media, the bits stay stuck on even if you turn the drive upside-down

That code that could never run? Well, guess what. Now Windows thinks it's Batman


Re: "and caned the computer"

I'm quite fond of the increasingly common MMO practice of using words for their error codes. People can much more easily distinguish a Code Lettuce from a Code Moose. than they can 65413 from 64513.


Re: "and caned the computer"

I've done the automated email thing at work (office automation stuff, so no worries about user telemetry).

It works great until the email module has an error.


Re: Assume the worst

I don't, but Weird Al has him on speed-dial.

If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is: Nobody can decrypt the Dharma ransomware

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Re: Can someone explain.....

Firing the cleaner is just so petty and vindictive I almost reflexively down-voted you for telling me it happened. Jeez.

Boeing comes clean on parachute borkage as the ISS crew is set to shrink


Re: "That beast was, of course, hugely expensive and entirely unsustainable in its final form"

You say "unsustainable expensive" and I hear "phenomenally loud fire-stick that will accelerate a house to a dozen kilometres per second".

Hyphens of mass destruction: When a clumsy finger meant the end for hundreds of jobs


Re: Nostalgia ain't what it used to be...

I did some back of an envelope math: the Terminal emulator we use for connecting to the mainframe is 24*80 characters in size. If you assume each character has 4 bytes behind it (symbol, colour, etc), the space for "IO buffer" at the mainframe end is about a megabyte per hundred users.

The emulator itself is taking up about 5 megs of RAM on my desktop.

You really can' exaggerate the sheer degree of difference in focus. Yes, they're both computers, but yon AS400 is there to crunch numbers and a sliver of overhead deciding who's numbers to crunch next, where as my desktop is using a relative kings' ransom worth of ram making the task bar slightly translucent.

Uber CEO compares pedestrian death to murder of Saudi journalist, saying all should be forgiven


Re: Premeditated

By my reading of the logs, the system also incorrectly estimated the object's path and thought it wasn't going to get in the way (until it was far too late).

If I had to wildly hypothesise: the repeated re-categorisation of the object screwed up it's trajectory analysis, and *that* happened because, as you said, it wasn't trained around people crossing roads away from pedestrian crossings.

That's still mind-blowingly bad planning. This is pretty much negligent homicide.

Here are some deadhead jobs any chatbot could take over right now


Re: "Microsoft scammers"

My mum tied up one of these guys for fifteen minutes, almost by accident.

See, they called about a problem with her windows, and she thought they meant the double-glazing. My parents have literally never owned a windows machine - Amiga until commodore carped it, then Mac, so she just didn't make the connection between "windows" and computer at first.

She wised up before they did and kept it going a bit "No, my windows are fine, I can see that big green hill and a lovely blue sky over it..."

When the IT department speaks, users listen. Or face the consequences


Surprised you're doing that manually. "save an email in [file-picker location] and name it [date]+[subject].msg" is pretty simple to do in VBA and like an hour of googling.



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