* Posts by NorthIowan

50 posts • joined 3 Feb 2018

That's how we roll: OWC savagely undercuts Apple's $699 Mac Pro wheels with bargain $199 alternative


Re: Sheets of PTFE

Similar to "Sliding Robots" at Menard's or "Magic Moving Sliders" at Harbor Freight. Every home should have a box.

With them I can move a heavy hid-a-bed couch on a carpeted floor by myself. The couch is heavy enough that I only pick up one corner at a time. But that is all you need to do to put a slider under each leg.

A tale of mainframes and students being too clever by far


Re: Ah, the days before memory protection seemed necessary...

The newer Univacs of 1979 had memory protection and I would think some of the earlier ones would have had it to. The 1100/80's I started on could address 16M words but a program could only address 262K words at once without doing bank swamping. If I remember correctly, you could swap banks whenever you wanted to, but the OS decided which banks were in memory.

Burn baby burn, plastic inferno! Infosec researchers turn 3D printers into self-immolating suicide machines


Re: Since when is a 3D printer a HOME appliance?

The UK Aldis seem to have more then the groceries my local US one has.

'I'm telling you, I haven't got an iPad!' – Sent from my iPad


Re: Fork Lift licence

I think mine was just a certification to drive a forklift. :-(

Although the summer lumber yard job almost got me hired at my first Engineering interview because one of the managers did a lot of woodworking.

TomTom bill bomb: Why am I being charged for infotainment? I sold my car last year, rages Reg reader


Re: It's ALWAYS easy to sign up

I've learned that with Sirius Radio. So far we've gotten two used cars with Sirius Radios in them. The dealer sets you up with a free 1 year subscription then Sirius starts hounding you to continue subscribing when your free time is about up.

Note we never signed up but still started getting a ton of junk mail (I hate junk mail) to resubscribe anyway. Have to call to get them to stop because you can only unsubscribe online if you have an account and we didn't have an account because we never signed up. But they know who you are so there is an account...

Next car we get will have the requirement of the dealer cannot sign us up for Sirius Radio or we'll sue.

When a deleted primary device file only takes 20 mins out of your maintenance window, but a whole year off your lifespan


Re: Speaking about the f*ing manual...

Some locks are not very good.

In an emergency, see if you have a key that fits. I unlocked a minivan at church with my pickups key from the same manufacturer.

In the US, most camper storage compartments use the same key. One of my camper locks froze up so I replaced them all to get a new key. Will keep the old key in case someone else at a campground loses theirs.

Smart fridges are cool, but after a few short years you could be stuck with a big frosty brick in the kitchen


Re: recall and repair tumble dryers that burn houses down

Time to do my civic duty. Do send in all the warranty cards on appliances.

First sorry to all the Whirlpool dryer owners

I apparently didn't send one in for my old dehumidifier in my damp basement. Well the cooling coil was getting matted up with dust so I was looking online to see if there was a "how to video" on opening it up for cleaning that would be simpler that what it looked like to me. When I googled the model number I saw that there was a recall on mine. Seems that a fair number of them caught on fire. Maybe not always burning the house down, but it sometimes did.

The manufacturer had a good recall. Send in the model sticker with the cut off power plug. Get pretty much all your money back. No receipt needed.

Don't panic: An asteroid larger than the Empire State Building is flying past Earth this weekend but we're just fine


Re: Michael Fish...

The ~20 m meteor that exploded over Russia a few years back did happen to come down on the same day as another asteroid was coming very close to earth. They were in totally different orbits, but there really are a lot that come close.


If you want to worry about meteors hitting the planet.

Keep an eye on https://www.spaceweather.com/ towards the bottom of the page.

Nice chart of all know asteroids coming by in the next few months. The ones with pink backgrounds get within about 1 million miles and red background is closer than the moon. Do understand the sizes are very rough as they are estimates depending on brightness for all the new ones.

For reverence, meteor crater in Arizona is 1186 m across and was made by a meteor about 50 meters across. And the one that went boom in Russia a few years back was estimated to be 20 m or so.

The new ones have names like 2020 JX1 where "2020" is the year it was discovered and the "JX1" gives an idea of when in the year it was found.

Oh, 2020 JX1 is about 60 m and goes by on June 29th at less than a million miles. They just found it a few weeks ago so not sure if they have a real good orbit figured out yet.

Pleasent dreams.

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


Re: Press the button Max ...

I don't know if it counted as a Death March project, but I was involved with a project that was supposed to be done in 6 months. And then another 6 month, then another 6 months... I lost count.

At least the other group was delaying the release before we had to say we weren't done.

Linus Torvalds drops Intel and adopts 32-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper on personal PC


Re: $$$

P,S, and also the cost of memory when you wanted another 128 K. (Or was it 64K.)

I think you could get a whole PC a few years later for what doubling my RAM in the first one would have cost.

A real loch mess: Navy larks sunk by a truculent torpedo


Re: Of course it was going to hit the boat!

Well the 0.0001% of the time things can go sort of right.

I worked in mainframe testing in the early 80's. Some of the guys were into model rockets. We had a few Friday lunchtime launches.

The real memorable one was when the one guy improvised a 2 stage rocket out of a simple 1 stage rocket. He simply put the 1st stage rocket motor on back of the rocket.

Apparently, the fins on a model rocket need to be right on the end of the rocket. Or there was a fault in the first stage motor. Whatever the problem was, the first stage only sent the rocket up about 10-20 feet, although the rocket traveled a considerable distance doing very tight and fast loops.

We all had time to duck behind cars. But that wasn't needed as the second stage miraculously was pointed up when it engaged and the rocket flew out of sight. So at least that part went right.

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


Re: Never saw a car crash into a computer

"Servers on the tongs" was enough for this Yank to figure it out. Even though I had to guess that "tong" was the forks on a forklift.

I never drove a Fenwick. We only had Hyster's, White's and a Clark at the lumber yard that paid for most of my University degree while working minimum wage.

Internet root keymasters must think they're cursed: First, a dodgy safe. Now, coronavirus upends IANA ceremony


Re: coke-bottle eyeglasses

The one I remember is that he is an introvert who would prefer to read over doing most anything else. So after coming out to find a destroyed world is happy that nothing will get in the way of his reading. So promptly goes to what is left of the library to pick up new reading material. Then when coming out of the library, somehow breaks his glasses. End of happiness.

In case you need more proof the world's gone mad: Behold, Apple's $699 Mac Pro wheels


Well I hope they thought of it...

But if those wheels aren't anti-static there will be a lot of Mac Pros that get iZapped.

Google reveals the wheels almost literally fell off one of its cloudy server racks


Re: Have 15 slots for children in your database design...

I had car insurance from a company where the programmers though you'd only have insurance on 4 vehicles. With two teens and a pull camper we had 5. So the extra vehicle came on a separate bill.

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 foggy recesses of my mind I remember a story about NASA losing data on some of their mission tapes.

Turns out the corrupted tapes were all on the bottom of the rack. So they were close to the floor buffer that polished the floors.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to save data from a computer that should have died aeons ago


Re: you're at risk of forgetting about it

wasn't there an old On Call type store a few years ago where they traced the wires to a PC in a bricked up room?

Fed-up air safety bods ban A350 pilots from enjoying cockpit coffees


Re: Gobsmacked!

> ... if pilots prove themselves incapable of using a spill-proof cup,...

You know there will be spills caused by pilots trying to remove the spill proof tops.

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


Re: Seen in the wild

It was probably a 105 MB Quantum drive in my Amiga. When it started sticking I'd take it out of the Amiga and rotate it back and forth a few times along the drive platter's axis. More work but less drive stress. And not too much work when the drive first starts sticking.

Brit brainiacs say they've cracked non-volatile RAM that uses 100 times less power


Re: I'm still waiting...

I saw it being manufacture at TI when I interviewed there. A veeerrrry long time ago.

I think the researchers worked in the same room as manufacturing. It wasn't that big of a room.


Re: RAM clear on power off ?

Maybe restart could be changed to be clear RAM and reload OS. Although the clear part may only be needed for security.

But there would probably also need to be some sort of method in the BIOS and motherboard to do a forced clear of RAM and reload OS for those times when the OS goes TITSUP. The present holding the power button down would probably work with a few BIOS tweaks.

Why so glum, VMware? It's Friday. Oh, is it this $235m patent infringement invoice from Densify? Too bad, so sad


Re: Funny

And Vmware has 20 patents that reference it. Maybe someone should have thought about cross licensing? It's not like Vmware can say they didn't know about it.

Are you getting it? Yes, armageddon it: Mass hysteria takes hold as the Windows 7 axe falls


Re: Asteroids

According to www.spaceweather.com the nearest known asteroid today is 2020 AO. At about 49 meters it is no world killer but more than big enough you wouldn't want it hitting too near where you are. But it went by at 9.3 LD (Lunar Distances = 384,000 km or 239,000 miles) so it wasn't even close on this pass.

Cheque out my mad metal frisbee skillz... oops. Lights out!


Re: move one probe to a different socket to measure current

At least for something like a 10 Amp range. Lower currents sometimes use the same sockets.

But then you can get a shinny new meter if you forget. ;-)

I've been tempted to get a new meter with Bluetooth, recording or voice output. Was having trouble with my camper last summer and I couldn't see the meter connected on the outside from the momentary button I needed to push on the inside. Six foot extension leads would have worked to, but they're not as fun.

It's time you were T0RTT a lesson: Here's how you could build a better Tor, say boffins


Re: Solution - buy new hardware

It's the solution that's as old as computing.

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


Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

I also had a cat shut down a consumer grade small UPS at home it was under the computer desk. My Rev 1 button cover was plastic pill bottle bottom taped down solid but with a finger access slot on one side.

Another time I had a mouse shut off the power strip that was connected after the UPS. No not a 4 legged mouse. A USB mouse fell off the back of the keyboard/mouse drawer on the desk and hit the power strip power button dead center bellow it. I tie-wrapped the power cords together to form an "umbrella" over the switch.

A trio of boffins scoop the Nobel Prize in physics for the first exoplanet discovery and big bang model


" Doppler shift, which involves monitoring a star’s brightness levels over time"

To clarify:

Doppler shift, which these guys used, is using a spectrometer to look for a periodic shifting of spectral lines of the star from the planet pulling the star to and away from earth as the planet orbits it's star. Planets are really small compared to a star. So these shifts are small for even big planets. One of the not fun problems with doing this is earth's orbit adds it's own shift into that spectrometer data.

The monitoring a star’s brightness levels over time is different. Its problems are that planets are really small compared to a star, so the brightness change is small to very small. And also you have to make sure you're not counting sun/star spots as planet transits.

That time Windows got blindsided by a ball of plasma, 150 million kilometres away


Re: Not Just Mice

Touchy electronics reminded me of my first big home computer. An Ohio Scientific 8P-DF(?). Big as in it had dual 8" floppies. This was pre IBM PCs by a few years.

Anyway the touchy part is occasionally it would quit working. The -9V supply for the RAM would go to 0V. Probing the LM723 pins with a 10 Meg-ohm scope probe would make it start working for several weeks/months. After this happened a few times I replaced the LM723 and a few other parts but never got it to keep working long term.

City-obliterating asteroid screamed past Earth the other night – and boffins only clocked it just 26 hours beforehand


Re: "We need to only plan when we do see one heading for us."

There is not an emergency right now. But I'd rather some people do some planning now so there are options that are reasonably well thought out so they know the various advantages and disadvantages of the different plans.

Better to do that now while everyone is thinking clearly then waiting till everyone's every other thought is "we are all going to die" if they don't get it right. Less likely anyone picks a knee jerk dumb plan that makes it all worse.

A Register reader turns the computer room into a socialist paradise


Re: College in the 80s

Not first hand knowledge. But I think the local SA's found that out with a Novel server. You must test your backups at least once in a while. Otherwise you may not have any backups.

I don't remember if it was a big problem as I was doing mainframe work at the time.

But I also found it out myself in backing up my Amiga to tape. I had a weird cross linked file or some such. I decide that extra backups where a good idea as the previous tape had problems and of course I discovered it while backing up to the "new" tape. So 2 bad tapes and I think I was rotating through 3 tapes at a time.

Having bank problems? I feel bad for you son: I've got 25 million problems, but a bulk upload ain't one


Re: I tried my key in my colleagues padlock and it successfully opened!!

Not surprised. I started in production mainframe testing a very long time ago. So we all had our own toolboxes with a padlock. It was a new production site so all the toolboxes and padlock were bought at the same time. Turned out most people could unlock most other peoples padlocks. There were a lucky few that had padlocks that were safe from most of the other people.

Oh and then there are US built RVs (campers). Turns out 60% of the outside storage compartment locks are keyed to "CH751" so all the keys and locks are the same. One of my locks just failed so I will probably switch them all. None are storage compartments but still, it's the principle.

10 PRINT Memorial in New Hampshire marks the birthplace of BASIC


Re: School kids microsoft basic

I was just out of University (1979 or 1980) when I bought my Ohio Scientific C8P DF with a color monitor. It came with Microsoft Basic. Actually it came with 2 different Basics and I seem to remember that only one was from Microsoft.

Oh, the "DF" stood for Dual Floppies, I didn't trust the newfangled dual sided 5 1/4" floppies and I wanted lots of storage so I got the 8" drives. I think they could hold 270K bytes each. ;-)

If I had an extra $10K I could have gotten a hard drive. Held 70 or 80 MB and was maybe 14" or so as I remember.

I never had the hard drive. I assume the Microsoft Basic couldn't have worked on it as it was over 32 MB.

Never let something so flimsy as a locked door to the computer room stand in the way of an auditor on the warpath


Re: whether if they'd had their sidearms they could have shot the lock off instead

"Tried that once and the pins came out but the door still wouldn't open because the hinges (without pins) still wouldn't clear each other."

I haven't tried taking out the pins. But as I was installing a new exterior steel door I noticed the hinges had small tabs sticking up on one side of them. I probably should look better, but eventually I thought they were to prevent the pop the pins out trick. The tabs would only engage the other side of the hinge when the door was closed. Safes often have something like that, but much more substantial.

A real head-scratcher: Tech support called in because emails 'aren't showing timestamps'


Re: "WTF do you think you're doing?"

Punched cards were neat. I used them at university.

I folded and glued some old ones together to make a night stand for my room. Hexagonal post with a hexagonal top and bottom. Also had a drawer in the top part for for my glasses.

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

Big Brother

how much tougher the new floppy discs were

But you still have to store them in a good environment.

I had a job of recovering data off of some Mac 3.5" disks. The person wanted to restart a writing project that was backed up on the Mac disks. The Mac hard drive had been converted to a PC D: drive so was unusable.

So I found software to read Apple floppies on a Linux box I had, I then had to find a old drive to install in it. Floppies haven't been standard equipment for some time.

So then I could read the disks. Well I should have been able to. Turned out they had been in a box in his garage for years and we have hot and humid summers here.

I ended up having to wash mold or something off of the disk surfaces before they were readable.

What do sexy selfies, search warrants, tax files have in common? They've all been found on resold USB sticks


Old hard drives

>I guess I need to get rid of my old IDE drives, now that I don't own any computers that have the appropriate sockets,

Silly me. Was helping a lady from Church dispose of her old PC's after her husband passed away. Used Darik's Boot N Nuke on most of them. But his oldest PC could only read 5.25" floppies and I didn't have one with me and I'm not sure I could have made one at home even then.

But not wanting to throw out a 20 Meg 5" hard drive (I never had a 5" hard drive) I took it out before taking the PCs to be recycled. Only later when I thought about wiping the hard drive did I realize that I needed the controller card as it was a preIDE drive.

'Occult' text from Buffy The Vampire Slayer ep actually just story about new bus lane in Dublin


Re: Blade Runner

"Coincidentally , the page has just revealed to me that Deckards apartment is modelled on a real house in LA that was also used as the abandoned mansion where Angel, Spike, and Drusilla hang out in Buffy the Vampire Slayer "

If I remember right, in the Star Trek Arena episode, the Cestus outpost was also used in a Wild Wild West episode. Don't remember WWW good enough, but I remember being surprised to recognize the outpost that Jim West was trying to break into or out of on a rerun a few months back.

Crash, bang, wallop: What a power-down. But what hit the kill switch?


Re: Not Unique...

"I have also had a Unix server where the power button and CD Drive eject were very close together, that one got a card flap over the power button."

Yup, had to make a flap for the UPS on the home PC. It was a low flat box with the power switch on top and it was almost on the floor. A real problem with cats who walk anywhere they want to.

But mice are a problem too. I had a mouse fall off the keyboard tray and it hit the power strip power button. For that one it worked to rout the power cords over the switch and velcro them together.

Techie finds himself telling caller there is no safe depth of water for operating computers


Re: Annoying pedantry

"Military stuff always comes at eye-watering mark-ups ". Well if it's like other US government stuff. Part of the price is stockpiling enough spare parts for 10 or more years or so you can fix it without redesigning the item or requalifying a new part.

At least that was Univac's response when justifying the high cost of spare parts. Yes, diodes don't cost $$$ normally but we have to warehouse 100's of them and all the other parts (as per the contract the government wrote) so they can be fixed for umpteen years.

If I could turn back time, I'd tell you to keep that old Radarange at home


Re: Pesky microwaves

"certain atmospheric conditions (like calm and cold nights) could cause the air to stratify into layers that would diffract the microwave, effectively "bending" the signal"

You can see that some times to. We could see a long way from our old house. Pilot Knob was about 9 miles away and we could see much of the land in between.

One day I noticed that things near the horizon were stretched vertically. It was really surprising as I'd never seen anything like it before.

Pasta-covered cat leads to kid night operator taking apart the mainframe


Whats wrong with remote hardware support?

I did that once. I fixed a mainframe's printer in Florida over the phone from Iowa.

OK, "fix" is probably stretching it a bit.

The operators had called me to fix a daily batch job that didn't print out overnight. I had just fixed it a few days earlier because it had crashed due to more data coming in than usual. So it's not to surprising that they called me up again because it "failed" again.

I dialed in and checked the print queue first and saw the file and several more waiting to print. So I called the operators back and asked if the printer was on? They checked and it was on but it had been offline. Seems a tech had worked on it the day before and had left it offline. No one had noticed till they went to get the overnight printouts to distribute to the bosses.

Haunted disk-drive? This story will give you the chills...


Condensation is not good for disks.

Had someone who wanted to restart writing his book. He had stopped working on it several years before and left the Mac and a few floppies with backups in the garage. His kid had long ago reformatted the Mac hard drive to use on his computer. So the floppies were all that was left.

This being Iowa the temperature and humidity vary all over. I couldn't read the floppies reliably at first. This after I put a floppy drive in a Linux PC with the correct Linux drivers/software to read Mac formatted disks. Slid the cover over and saw that all the disks had spots of mildew on them. Spent a hour or so washing them all through the little slot with a bunch of Q-tips. Then I could read them pretty good.

Powerful forces, bodily fluids – it's all in a day's work


Re: Monitor

" whoever did it had somehow managed to fail to put a DVI plug in correctly, not noticed the force they presumably needed to apply to get it to that state"

Reminded me of the ancient times when I worked in mainframe testing. Had just helped some new hires track down a bent pin shorting out two signals. So I stated to the group that if they ever have extra trouble putting cards in that they may bend some pins if they force it. So a light bulb goes on for one of them and he grabs the card puller and pops another card out. We shine a light in and see he got the right card as there is a bent pin behind that one to.

Register-Orbi-damned: Netgear account order irks infosec bods


Registering to setup your new telly to watch the news

I almost had to do that.

I remember setting up my kids new Element TV a few years ago. Had to call into support for a special code to unlock the tuner to scan digital (or was it analog?) stations. Gave some BS reason about making it "simpler" to setup.

Yup, it was SO much simpler. Had make a phone call during business hours to enable scanning both kinds of channels. Of course it was Saturday afternoon and the kid had cable with both analog and digital channels. Couldn't get it all set up until Monday.

I was surprised to see in an ad that they still sell Element TVs. In fairness, Googling at the time showed that at least one other TV maker made a TVs with that "feature".

Just how rigged is America's broadband world? A deep dive into one US city reveals all


I'm still waiting for my 1 Gbps/500Mbps fiber*...

That will replace my slow fiber that gets 5Mbps/0.8Mbps for the base/cheapest version now. I think I could pay for faster now, but the telco web page only shows what the new fiber speeds are and no prices listed. The upgrade started in 2017 and will be done in 2019. Being out of town has it's disadvantages. :-(

Oh, I'm on an acreage like 2.5 miles out of town in rural Iowa. As far as I know, our local town telco has wired fiber to all the farms around here (they sell cable TV running on the fiber to to make $). And now they are redoing it with the max 1 Gbps/500Mbps fiber. And this is a tiny local telephone company serving about 8,000 people in two small towns plus the surrounding farms. On the map in the story, we are east of the "Y" at the end of the blurry Sioux City, Iowa.

So if my little phone company can do 1 Gbps fiber. I think most US towns and surrounding area's could do better than they are now. Certainly all of Rochester, MN should have good service from at least one provider. Now if you're in the middle of Montana 100 miles form any town. That would be different.

* To save money I'll probably stick to the low cost plans of 25 Mbps /10 Mbps or 50 Mbps /25 Mbps when the new fiber gets here. I don't have a 4K TV to feed so Netflix does fine with what I have now.

BT pushes ahead with plans to switch off telephone network


Re: Oh well

"you will not get a 50V pots line with fibre, instead at the premises you get an Optical Network Termination unit with a Battery Backup Unit which contains rechargeable cells. These will locally generate the 50V required to operate legacy POTS termination equipment. "

Which is what our local fiber optic connection is. Apparently we've had that long enough now that the last phone bill included a piece about how we might need a new battery soon. I looked and my unit still had a green light.

I hope that it lasts till they upgrade us to gigabit fiber optics which might not happen till 2019. :-(

Got some broken tech? Super Cali's trinket fix-it law brought into focus


Re: John Deere and Apple Make For Strange Bedfellows

"Farmers are using cracked diagnostic software from Ukraine so they can fix their John Deeres."

I don't know if they do that or not. But I remember the complaints were the new John Deeres and other high tech farm equipment would pop a need service notice and only the local brand dealer would be able to check that it was just an air filter or some such easy for farmer to replace item that he could have spares of to keep his operation moving. And when bad weather is due in a few hours a farmer gets cranky for any down time that might delay finishing planting or harvesting for a week or more.

America's broadband speed map is back! And it doesn't totally suck!


RE:Take this map with a serious grain of salt.

You are right about that. It says if I lived across the street I could get Mediacom. Most of the area across the street from me is usually planted with corn or beans. And some of it is marsh/swamp. But there are a few houses that may be able to get Mediacom on either end of that area so might not be totally wrong.

Oh my, the local phone company provides 1000 Mbps fiber to the lake. Not sure how you put fiber into a lake. No house boats around here. The lake freezes pretty solid each winter. Trucks can drive on it now, well not to all places. So far 3 vehicles have fallen through that I know of.

A tiny Ohio village turned itself into a $3m speed-cam trap. Now it has to pay back the fines


Re: Try not speeding. Total fine $0

Which sounds good but unfortunately is not foolproof.

A local town, Fort Dodge Iowa, had similar a speed radar that they setup in different locations around town. Made it a civil fine to discourage getting the courts involved.

But one time their were lots of complaints from people getting fines for doing +50 MPH in a downtown 25 MPH zone. Of course the radar company claimed the radars were "always right". But when tested on that street, the radar just happened to double the speed of some larger vehicles like delivery trucks and school buses. Excuse was, "must not have been correctly calibrated".

It was good they did the testing because the school bus driver was going to loose their job if the ticket/fine stayed.


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