* Posts by StewartWhite

40 publicly visible posts • joined 19 Apr 2018

Java SE 6 and 7 devs weigh their options as support ends


Re: Version numbering still confusing.

That's where you're going wrong, it's fork handles, "hot incense" and a spirit blanket. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ozpek_FrOPs&ab_channel=RikRamsden for an explanation.

After 40 years in tech, I see every innovation contains its dark opposite


Re: a planetary-scale "ignorance amplifier"

There's still fun to be had even with placing books in genres, e.g. Huntingdon library had "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" under Travel which made me laugh so much I almost got thrown out.

Ransomware the final nail in coffin for small university


"heading cats"?

I thought herding cats was difficult enough but the "heading cats" problem seems even trickier to me.

Accenture announces 'Accenture Song' – not a tune, but a rebrand


Re: I am disappointed.

Computer Associates had a truly terrible corporate "anthem" (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2YrwzxRZxY&ab_channel=tedloveschicken) that they had as hold music if you ever had the misfortune to have to phone them.

Unable to write 'Amusing Weekly Column'. Abort, Retry, Fail?


My favourite error message

My "favourite" error message of all time is VAX Basic's "103: Program lost - Sorry" from the '80s. No explanation of why it was lost or what to do next other than punch the screen but a nice little apology at the end.

AWS power failure in US-EAST-1 region killed some hardware and instances


Re: Ever heard of a UPS?

How do you know that the problem was probably with a UPS? Nobody's provided that info as yet. I know all too well that UPS systems themselves can fail but you also have surge protectors for the circuit itself if you're hosting important "stuff" but you might be surprised at the number of cloud hosting companies who don't bother with such fripperies as DR - witness the SSP Pure insurance broking platform debacle in 2016 https://www.insurancebusinessmag.com/uk/news/breaking-news/the-ssp-outage-two-weeks-on-37592.aspx

More importantly, IF the UPS has failed, where are the backups/what are the DR plans if the impact is this bad? These are absolute basics that cloud vendors need to be performing as a matter of course rather than getting more people signed up to their new "shiny" just so Jeff can fly to the moon.


Ever heard of a UPS?

"As is often the case with a loss of power, there may be some hardware that is not recoverable"

What a bunch of clowns! Amazon's revenues in 2020 were north of $385 billion but it can't be bothered to pay for and install a UPS or two and then when there's a power borkage restore from DR system/backups maybe? What exactly are people paying stupid amounts for when hosting in AWS?

Customer comment and contributions no more as Microsoft pulls the plug on Office 365 UserVoice forum


Microsoft claim at https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/topic/uservoice-pages-430e1a78-e016-472a-a10f-dc2a3df3450a that

"Note: We will be moving away from UserVoice feedback sites on a product-by-product basis throughout the 2021 calendar year. We will leverage 1st party solutions for customer feedback."

Utterly academic anyway from the point of view of Microsoft actually listening to the views expressed - they're just ceremony to pretend that they're listening whereas they obviously know far better than all their customers.

Alleged Ponzi mastermind on the run from FBI hid in lake with sea-scooter, collared after he surfaced half-hour later


Learning from the master?

"... materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, promises, half-truths, and omissions, and the concealment of material facts,” - if any of these are a crime then surely El Trumpo will be doing some serious time in the near future?

Excel Hell: It's not just blame for pandemic pandemonium being spread between the sheets


Don't use the wrong tool for the job then blame the tool

It's easy to blame Excel (and tbf it's got plenty of stupidity inbuilt) but this is just a highly public version of using what can be a reasonable tool for the wrong job.

In a previous role I had the Accountancy team complain that their documents weren't as easy to type/use as everybody else's. Turns out they'd mandated that only Outlook and Excel were allowed to be used in their team so they weren't allowed to use Word.

You can use a hammer and chisel instead of a screwdriver to undo a screw but if you do, Shirley it's you're fault and not the hammer's?

Amazon's auditing of Alexa Skills is so good, these boffins got all 200+ rule-breaking apps past the reviewers


& why exactly would Amazon care about this?

Not sure I understand why anybody's surprised by Amazon's behaviour. Jeff simply doesn't care about anything unless it's adding to his billions of $ or polishing his ego. If you're not drinking his Kool-Aid and buying his crap then you're unworthy of Amazon's attention in the "World of Jeff".

Getting some other saps to develop rubbish apps that break the rules for his platform, why would Amazon care? Twitter don't care about fake ads, Facebook doesn't care about hate speech, they all think that because they're part of some new "paradigm" that they're above the piffling laws that mere mortals have to abide by.

VMware to stop describing hardware as ‘male’ and ‘female’ in new terminology guide


Surely replacing female with jack should be unacceptable to these morons as Jack is a male name?

How do you run a military court over Zoom? With 28 bullet points and a ceremonial laptop flunkey, of course!


I prefer the variety in the Peek Freans Trotsky Assortment

"Revolutionary biscuits of Italy, rise up out of your box, you have nothing to lose but your wafers, yum yum yum yum yum."

Who's still using Webex? Not even Cisco: Judge orders IT giant to use rival Zoom for virtual patent trial


Re: Webex and Skype

"...looks... like carp"? Like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carp? It's all a bit Shadow over Innsmouth for my liking

Tux icon because El Reg has no fish

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


Re: These are wheely gweat!

Welcome my friend to the iTurd:


After 20-year battle, Channel island Sark finally earns the right to exist on the internet with its own top-level domain


Re: Glad they didn't overthink the process....

Good points. In the UK we still also have the House of Lords which is being ever expanded with fat and overpaid idiots who we are told by our overlords have much more expertise than us proles and hence couldn't be replaced by an elected 2nd chamber.

Politicians elected to a 2nd chamber wouldn't necessarily result in a better system of government but it could stop the ridiculous expansion by patronage of the Lords with yet more ermined buffoons. IMO they might well be idiots but at least they would be our idiots and there's a chance that they might stay awake during debates - the Lords are a national embarrassment with OAPs snoring and drooling on the leather benches just so they can collect their daily expenses and eat at restaurants that are subsidised by taxpayers.

Morrisons tells top court it's not liable for staffer who nicked payroll data of 100,000 employees


Re: Depends if decent efforts at data security made by Morrisons

Is the hypothetical mop a Morrison's own brand? If so, kudos to them for building a sturdy enough cleaning implement such that it can bludgeon many people to death.

Never mind monitoring dead crims, Ministry of Justice has just palmed Serco another £800m


So let me see if I've got this straight - a company defrauds the MoJ and hence the UK taxpayer out of multi-millions and then rather than being barred from being awarded further contracts for a lengthy period is rewarded by being given another contract for further major moolah.

And this makes sense how?!?

If you have a security alert, I feel bad for you, son – you got 99 problems but a hack ain't one


My response to Kaspersky is "If your software generates so many false positives that you can't find the actual threats within normal behaviour then, to use a phrase that would annoy Jacob Rees-Mogg, it's not fit for purpose"

HP crashed Autonomy because US tech titan's top brass 'lost their nerve', says lawyer for ex-CEO Mike Lynch


Re: Pot and Kettle

HP and Autonomy are as bad as each other. Lynch is just another obnoxious wannabe Steve Jobs style bully and HP/HPE has been "led" by people who know nothing about technology for decades.

What I don't get is why people don't read up on Enron and similar accounting scandals and see that Lynch et al just copied their ideas such as being obsessed with the stock market valuation, banning any analyst that dares to disagree with how clever they are and booking 10 years worth of revenue and "profits" as soon as a deal is signed even though the money ain't ever going to be handed over. Lynch then added his own asininity by vastly over-rewarding salespeople who exceeded their targets and sacking the worst performing 5% every quarter.thus encouraging them to lie and cheat even more than usual (I know - software salespeople that lie, who'd have thought?).

Campaigners cry foul over NHS Digital plans to grant policy wonks and researchers access to patient-level data


Re: Snomed CT

Ah the good old Reed codes. My favourite is E845, “accident involving spacecraft injuring occupant”.

YouTube's pedo problem is so bad, it just switched off comments on millions of vids of small kids to stem the tide of vileness


So you think YT is as important as electricity - really!? YT has made a v minor positive contribution to society whilst at the same time intoroducing major problems that it does not want to deal with because that would get in the way of it making $$$$$$$

I'm not actually demanding that YT be shut down - simply that it obeys the law, why is that so unreasonable? if their business model doesn't work without breaking the law why is that society's problem? Given this "logic" presumably organised crime is ok as it's business model is fine, it's just those pesky laws that get in the way.


"You can't put the genie back in the bottle" is just defeatist. All I'm asking for is that they don't break the laws of the land in the same way that I'm not allowed to. Using their sophistric logic I could get somebody else to record spout hate speech which, as long as I didn't listen to it beforehand, I would be free to play in public until somebody objected to it and even then I wouldn't be guilty of any offence as long as I stopped playing it because i wasn't the "publisher".


YouTube's defence of "we're not publishers because we only police uploads via automated algorithms and only have humans review content when it's flagged by other humans" is drivel.

There are so many postings and comments (e.g. from the BBC on PM earlier this week) along the lines of "it's an incredibly complex situation and there's no easy answer" but IMO that's just not true. YouTube et al ARE publishers but they happen to source the material that they publish for free from anybody with a YouTube account, which YT then make loads of lovely money from via advertisting etc.

If YT had to abide by the same rules as conventional media then they'd have to hire an awful lot of people to police content in advance or their business model would be broken and they'd have to close down. To which YT etc. respond "It would be too expensive and take too long to vet all submissions". Well tough - just because you're an Internet based company making billions doesn't mean that the law should apply to conventional media and private citizens but shouldn't apply to you. The world existed before YouTube and it will continue to exist even if YT disappears. There's nothing that's on their (or others) sites that we couldn't all do without (even El Reg).

Boss regrets pointing finger at chilled out techie who finished upgrade early


Re: Oh so familiar

"...typically by front-weighting revenue recognition (eg, sign a 2yr services contract, recognise the entire value on date of signing)."

Booking all of the revenue at the time the deal is signed (and then not writing it down when it never actually appears) was an Enron speciality and that went SOOOOO well for them it's a bit of a surprise that IT companies (e.g. Autonomy before HP were stupid enough to buy them) want to play the same game but no surprise that the auditors aren't interested.

Bottom line, if you believe a company's publicly presented figures then you're just a mark waiting to happen.

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


I guess it had originally been put up there so couldn't accidentally be pressed - before my time there started so couldn't say for sure. I presume they hadn't banked on somebody of Doug's height coming into the server room.


Working with a v tall (almost 7 foot) colleague in the server room and he leant back from the rack as I took a look at the KMS screen only for his head to whack the kill switch and turn almost everything off. upside was that a couple of v old systems didn't go down as they were plugged into non protected sockets so we got those properly plugged in as soon as we bought everything else back up.

Housing biz made to pay £1.5k for sticking fingers in its ears when served a subject access request


Re: Fine

I had a recruitment agent e-mail me out of the blue without an unsubscribe option that refused my SAR on multiple occasions. Had to prompt the ICO about it endlessly and they finally got the recruiter to cough up that they didn't have anything on me as they'd decided to action the "right to be forgotten" part of my request before the SAR. ICO just told me tough - yet another agency that's the usual waste of time, space and money (see OFGEM, FCA etc.).

Not cool, man: Dixons spanked over discount on luxury 'smart' fridge with wildly fluctuating price


There's little point in complaining to Trading Standards as they are now just part of the local council and have got such a limited budget that they won't do anything. I've complained to our local trading standards office and they barely bothered to respond, let alone do anything.

See https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/aug/07/trading-standards-institute-consumers-are-no-longer-protected for why they likely won't do anything if you complain to them.

Furious Apple revokes Facebook's enty app cert after Zuck's crew abused it to slurp private data


Re: Promise to do better

But isn't FB's motto "Move fast and break privacy"?

NHS England digital boss in hot water over 'puff piece' written about her future employer


You're assuming that NI is purely for healthcare when it also covers other benefits that cost a signficant amount to the public purse, e.g. the state pension, so your figures don't stack up I'm afraid.

US Department of Defense to fling $1.76bn at Microsoft


Not sure that JEDI is a great name for the project given that Enron used it for a number of their corporate scams.

Nissan EV app password reset prompts user panic


The Nissan Connect is, and always has been, shockingly bad - so bad that I wouldn't trust the information it returns and I certainly wouldn't expect Nissan to take app privacy/security seriously given that they can't be bothered to fix problems that have been known about since at least when I bought a Leaf two years ago.

I agree with other posters - the car itself is great, the app is appalling rubbish that should never have been allowed to escape from the lab.

Shocker: UK smart meter rollout is crap, late and £500m over budget


It's not just a matter of the old style meters being a few % in our favour, plenty of the SMETS meters have been found to over-record usage by considerable amounts (but v rarely the opposite, i.e. in the customer's favour). See https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/six-reasons-say-no-smart-meter/ for some further interesting reasons as to why they're such a bad idea.

Health secretary Matt Hancock assembles brains trust: OK, guys. Let's cure NHS IT


Re: Pointless

Agreed. This committee (they might call it something else but it will just be the usual talking shop) will be the usual waste of NHS time/money as they don't seem to have realised that the NHS is still stuck in the 20th century as the world's biggest buyer of fax machines, they hate people sending them e-mails (my wife has just been given a 65 character e-mail address to respond to re. an appointment), they still can't send notes electronically from one surgery/hospital to the next on a reliable basis and they're still running XP all over the place (saw an example of this on a laptop at Kings College Hospital in London a few months back).

There are simple and relatively cheap solutions to the above (and other similar NHS IT problems) that will be ignored because they're not "sexy" like apps so the culture of continued failure will continue because actually resolving the real problems is not as exciting as Matt Hancock getting his own app.

Re Ben Goldacre, he's very pro establishment when it comes to certain areas (e.g. nobody must question the results of papers if they're published in a suitably auspicious journal, see the NICE/PACE farrago that he refuses to even acknowledge as a problem) so I wouldn't hold out much hope there, especially as he's got no expertise I'm aware of in real-world IT.

Chap asks Facebook for data on his web activity, Facebook says no, now watchdog's on the case


Re. "If they have so much data, that they themselves can't access it all in a timely manner, then it breaks that part of GDPR as well.", it' ain't necessarily so. In the UK the ICO has already ruled that Queen Mary University London (QMUL) did not have to comply with a request to provide the raw data used to produce the results of the discredited PACE trial. This was under the Freedom of Information Act rather than GDPR but it's quite conceivable that the precedent will remain in the UK. The spurious argument that the ICO accepted was that the database is very large (it isn't), that the process involved in extracting the information would be too onerous (it wouldn't) and that they would be "creating the data" (they wouldn't). Facebook could be able to use this kind of perverse logic with the additional points that their dataset is far larger and more complex than QMUL's.

"QMUL explained to the Commissioner that the relevant raw data is held in a very large database of 3000 variables with 640 rows. It went on to explain the steps required in order to provide the information to the complainant. The Commissioner considered the explanation of the steps required to locate, retrieve and extract the information. He determined that the application of section 12 was not appropriate in the circumstances of the case. QMUL was, in fact, stating that it would be

‘creating’ the information and the information was therefore ‘not held’."

https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-taken/decision-notices/2015/1043578/fs_50557646.pdf (section 12)

Salesforce ‘Einstein’ now smart enough for customer service


Re: "Delighting" customers is a counter-productive waste of time

I guess it's a question of terminology. I view getting it right first time wherever possible as simply being competent, not delightful. Corporate cheerleaders tend to view delighting a customer as going "above and beyond" the original request - I virtually never want this as I doubt v much that they know what it is I really want and I don't have time to tell them.


"Delighting" customers is a counter-productive waste of time

The answer is not to use "AI" (almost certainly nothing of the sort but a buzzword that the marketing types love) but to employ knowledgeable people who you pay a reasonable salary to (and who you sometimes move out of the line of fire to work outside of support, e.g. on small projects, to reduce burn-out).

As both a provider and user of customer support I despair of this "You must delight your customer" mantra/rubbish. What I (and research studies in this area have also shown is generally true) want is for my query to be dealt with swiftly and competently - that's it. If they're spending time "delighting" one customer it's almost certainly at the expense of another who's getting shoddy service because of lack of time. Despite what self-promoting egotists such as Richard Branson think there is no meaningful evidence that delighting customers makes any significant difference to customer loyalty - it mainly just boosts the self-esteem of the delighter.

Support is too often considered to be an expensive and barely-tolerated necessary evil. IMO it's one of the most important measures of what a company really is rather than what the corporate mission statement/nonsense says it is. If support is good then I'll take the company seriously, if not I'll likely take my business elsewhere.

Fixing a printer ended with a dozen fire engines in the car park


Re: smoke, try flames

Late 80s at Cambridge University I had somebody come round to report that the printer was only printing "little black squares" rather than the correct text and it was a really important document that had to be printed immediately. When I got there I found that the reason for the little black squares was that the printer was on fire at the back with smoke billowing out of it. After hitting the fire alarm and evacuating the building I asked the person in question about the smoke and they said "Oh, I wondered if that's was what was causing the problem".

Cutting custody snaps too costly for cash-strapped cops – UK.gov


Re: I wonder what would happen ...

Actually other organisations HAVE been allowed to use "our systems are rubbish and it's all a bit complicated" as en excuse to avoid complying with the law. Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) was able to weasel out of supplying the raw data used in the discredited PACE trial by the following ruse which the ICO in a piece of rank stupidity allowed and in so doing created a ridiculous precedent whereby if you deliberately make the data not directly accessible and then end the contract of the only person who knows how to extract the data you're magically absolved of the need to provide it. Seems to me like a suitable "Get out of jail free" card to be used when GDPR comes along for all unscrupulous organisations.

"QMUL explained to the Commissioner that the relevant raw data is held in a very large database of 3000 variables with 640 rows. It went on to explain the steps required in order to provide the information to the complainant. The Commissioner considered the explanation of the steps required to locate, retrieve and extract the information. He determined that the application of section 12 was not appropriate in the circumstances of the case. QMUL was, in fact, stating that it would be

‘creating’ the information and the information was therefore ‘not held’." See https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-taken/decision-notices/2015/1043578/fs_50557646.pdf (section 12):

"QMUL has explained that the Chief Investigator of the PACE trial retired from QMUL on 31 December 2016. While QMUL remains the holder and owner of the raw data from this clinical trial, it has effectively lost the means to locate and extract it because this requires specialist knowledge. There is no longer anyone at QMUL with the ability to produce data from this trial. QMUL no longer employs anyone involved with the PACE trial."