* Posts by NorthIowan

75 publicly visible posts • joined 3 Feb 2018


NASA's Lucy probe dodges space traffic around Earth in gravity-assist flyby


Lucy in the sky with Starlinks

Glad Lucy missed all the junk in orbit.

Loathsome eighties ladder-climber levelled by a custom DOS prompt


Bill Gates

Wasn't Bill's comment that 32 MB was all you'd ever need for a hard drive?

And now you probably can't boot recent versions of Windows without more RAM than that.

FCC Commissioner demands review of Starlink rural broadband subsidies


Re: Quite Impressive

I have fiber optic to my house and I live in rural Iowa. About 3 miles out from a town population 760 and the next town has about 7600 people. It's a local company so that's why we have fiber here. You can get phone Internet and cable TV from them.

Not an easy to read map but it looks like they provide fiber internet in most of a roughly 14 x 11 mile area. But there is a big hole in that of 5.6 square miles. They don't provide fiber on the lake.

Australian digital driving licenses can be defaced in minutes


Re: People don't run red lights when they know there is a camera on.

But I saw a person run a red light with a police car beside or behind them.

Not sure which because I was about to turn left when the left turn arrow turned green. I was glad that I saw them in time to stop. And I was unhappy at first that two cars went through the red light. Until I saw the second car was a police car with it's light on. ;-)

I have seen it one other time. But then I'm a bit paranoid at left turns now.

When management went nuclear on an innocent software engineer


Re: The place smelled of burned plastic...

This was my gut fealing on what was going to happen in Ellen's story.

Not to dis your diskette, but there are some unexpected sector holes


Re: I've never seen (or heard of) hard-sectored floppy disks before

Kids stop it.

You're making me feel old.

I Googled it and both 8" and 5 1/4" floppies came in hard or soft sector flavors. I'm guessing IBM PCs and clones all used soft sector.

Happy birthday Windows 3.1, aka 'the one that Visual Basic kept crashing on'


Re: At the AC, re: Zipping Windows.

Or Macrium Reflect.

Newly released Space Force data could save life on Earth


Re: go out in the rain and watch the clouds light up

I had a bigger one come down near me in late 1992.

I was inside so I don't know if it was raining. But reports on the news said people saw the clouds light up. I just remember the big boom. Sounded like a sonic boom from a supper sonic jet.

I looked out the windows to be sure neither of the two big (yard wide) natural gas lines within a mile of the house had a giant fire raging from a leak.

I remember the year because I was changing my first born kids diaper at the time.

The wild world of non-C operating systems


Re: Burroughs Large Systems There was never an assembler for it.

Learned a bit about the Burroughs systems after the merger with Sperry. Apparently some people had a hard time believing there wasn't an assembler.

It can take a bit of time to wrap your head around that. But hey, the compiler writers just need to know what binary to put out. Not much different then spitting out assembler code.

Mary Coombs, first woman commercial programmer, dies at 93


Re: Interference.

Most likely.

But valves can be sensitive to vibrations to. It would depend on how they were biased. If the logic was running in a too linear of a region they might perturbed by vibrations. And the drivers and receivers for the delay lines might well have had some linear amps.

Fujitsu confirms end date for mainframe and Unix systems


Re: mainframe emulator

Unisys went all emulated back in 2012.

A time when cabling was not so much 'structured' than 'survival of the fittest'


Re: Don't mix power tools and alcohol

Best tool for anyone drilling or nailing into walls. Non-contact AC Voltage detector, I like the adjustable voltage one. You can make it more sensitive for 24 V AC wiring or less sensitive to get a better feel for where a wire is. Never assume it's 100% right, but they are wonderful.

I first learned about them when I was having my dead dishwasher replaced. The installer used one to test that we had the right breaker turned off. The dishwasher was hard to turn on, so we couldn't just try to turn it on to be sure the power was off.

The return of the turbo button: New Intel hotness causes an old friend to reappear


Re: Kids!

Bah!! I maybe older.

My first pre IBM invented small computers was an RCA 1802 based COSMIC ELF running 3.579545 MHz. It could have run 6.4 MHz but by using the color burst frequency you could drive a regular TV from the "graphics co-processor" chip. Really a DMA driver chip that with the processors help could clock out bits and sync pulses.

All this worked with 4 K of RAM and about 2 K of EEPROM. I soldered all the chips onto the two boards. Only missed a couple of pins on the first go. ;-)

Speed was not that blazing as it used 32 clock cycles per instruction.

No shift lock key, It had a HEX keypad with a few other buttons. I wonder if the tiny basic cassette I never used is still readable...

Computer shuts down when foreman leaves the room: Ghost in the machine? Or an all-too-human bit of silliness?


Re: Motion sensor lights in toilets

Motion sensor lights came out before cell phones had lights.

Back then you had to be quick or hope someone else came in for the next stall. ;-)

Perseverance rover drilled a rock on Mars and probably snaffled a core sample


Re: Qualifying parts for space ain't cheap.

It's been too long, so I don't remember if my professor actually work on a Mars lander mission or just was familiar with them. But he said the heat sterilization of a Mars lander took the electronics through 90% of their expected lifetime.

Fix five days of server failure with this one weird trick


Re: The "inspector"

Or pick one up by the hot end.

Well I was very intent on the next connection to solder. But I wasn't giving the soldering iron the attention it deserved.

After that, I finally bought a soldering iron stand with the nice spring loop guard.

I haven't bought new pants for years, why do I have to keep buying new PCs?


Re: When you say "pants",

They still make Brother printers, I hope.

I just bought one last week to replace my 18 year old HP. It prints and scans much faster. ;-)

The wrong guy: Backup outfit Spanning deleted my personal data, claims Cohesity field CTO


Re: buy a 1TB portable

Plan on buying at least 2 or 3. One can fail and you are out of luck if you find out after your PC dies to.

And you need to take a copy off site from time to time.

Houses can burn down, get hit my lightning or be damaged by storms.

Or even hit by a car. Saw the video of that a few years back. Car hit the second floor. The house was on flat ground. But the divide road by it had a curb and the car was going way too fast.

Texas blacks out, freezes, and even stops sending juice to semiconductor plants. During a global silicon shortage


Re: ensuring the diesel in winter ready

Some years it gets cold sooner than expected. Or there are newbie truck drivers from the southern US who don't know to not bring a full tank of "southern" diesel up north in a cold spell. Then their semi-trucks come to a stop when the fuel jells.

We know it's hard to get your kicks at work – just do it away from a wall switch powering anything important


Re: Why have the switch ?

Well if you can reach the switch on the outlet you can pull the plug. Most of the time. What if the plug only has bare wires coming out of it? I never saw a UK outlet so I don't know if the switch would help with that case.

The Novell NetWare box keeps rebooting over and over again yet no one has touched it? We're going on a stakeout


Re: Fluorescents...

If you have an old fluorescent fitting just replace it with LEDs when the bulbs need replaced.

You can get LED tubes that fit in place of the fluorescent tubes. I plan to use the LED tubes that are made to be direct wired to AC without the ballasts. Some of the LED tubes are made to work with the fluorescent ballasts, but then you need to have a working ballast.

Watt's next for batteries? It'll be more of the same, not longer life, because physics and chemistry are hard


Re: The good news is that there appear to be literally trillions of possible battery chemistries.

That may be the bad news to. With so many possible battery chemistries it takes a long time to find the few good enough ones. And that does not include the time to figure out the non-chemical variations of all those chemistries such as making the anode/cathode with the right sized pores for that chemistry..

Oh, no one knows what goes on behind locked doors... so don't leave your UPS in there


Re: don't know what a floppy disk is

I can do better than 5.25" floppies. I still have my 8" floppies. Some let me boot MS basic on my OSI 8DF(?) computer. That is pre IBM PC that used a 6502 chip running 2 MHz.

This PDP-11/70 was due to predict an election outcome – but no one could predict it falling over


Re: The elevator did it

I remember an old wireless phone I moved into my home office started making a tick sound every once in awhile. When I kept track it was something like every 1 minute and 50 seconds. Finally realized it only happened when I had my cellphone on. I assumed the tick was when the cellphone checked into the local tower to say it was still in the area.

Putting the d'oh! in Adobe: 'Years of photos' permanently wiped from iPhones, iPads by bad Lightroom app update


Re: No file exists...

...unless there are: 3 copies on 2 different media and 1 is stored off site...

Was my motto until I discovered a disk corruption while doing a backup. Then I realized that the backup I was writing to was gone and that now had only 2 backups. Assuming the disk problem hadn't messed up either of them. That was when I was using tapes.

Now I consider 3 copies as a bare minimum when I tell people they should do backups. I keep 8 copies in my backup rotation.

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.