* Posts by Caver_Dave

537 publicly visible posts • joined 11 Jul 2018


Japanese tech startups testing cash incentives for office return

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: Japanese office reality.

I do wish I could up vote so many more times for that (accurate in my experience) diatribe.

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: I'll be honest....

The pre-pandemic monthly trip to the Office was something to be looked forward to.

The loss of that (as people moved away during the pandemic) is the only effect the pandemic has had on my working.

Virgin Atlantic flies 'world's first fossil-fuel free' transatlantic commercial flight

Caver_Dave Silver badge


I've not seen it written down, but wouldn't the amount of Hydrogen required by a plane, actually be a significant advantage (lighter than air) when it comes to take off, and this diminishing as it requires to come back to earth will also be an advantage.

My guess is that the buoyancy of the Hydrogen will be far less than the mass of the plane and passengers. Maybe someone has some figures on whether it will actually be a measurable advantage?

BOFH: Monitor mount moans end in Beancounter beatdown

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: Excellent!

I do 15 minute resolution.

However, the very large project that is my main task (I could potentially log against 11 projects this week) has over 200 time codes. This is so that metrics can be gathered accurately for future forecasting, and so I don't mind too much.

It has meant that my timesheet entry for "filling in timesheets" is now 45 minutes rather than 15 minutes per week. I also need to modify my spreadsheet that formats the time/project/day from chronological order into the correct aggregated format to copy into the official tool (now that we have these 200 sub-lines in a new column) which is a PITA.

EU lawmakers scolded for concealing identities of privacy-busting content-scanning 'experts'

Caver_Dave Silver badge

The names of the experts

The names cannot be provided for the participants in a conversation half-overheard in a Brussels Bar.

NASA just patched Voyager 2's software but spared Voyager 1 the risky rewrite

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: Software long term support is not rare in some industries

They used to have physical twins of the probes.

I remember them running a copy of Mars2020 rover around a sand and boulder strewn parking lot.

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Software long term support is not rare in some industries

Software long term support is not rare in some industries.

If you are willing to pay a reasonable amount, then Wind River will support and enhance 25+ year old versions of the VxWorks RTOS.

I've recently performed enhancement work on 1990's vintage VxWorks 5.x, in a situation where changing to a newer hardware and software version was not a palatable option for the customer, but they wanted to support a new/replacement peripheral.

(Wikipedia has a list of publicly acknowledged VxWorks projects that you can see have no chance of replacement and need long term support.)

I would imaging that NASA have a "digital twin" of Voyager to test their code updates on - something that Wind River highlight in their Studio IDE CI/CD platform and has been supporting at processor level using SIMICS for decades.

That script I wrote three years ago is now doing what? How many times?

Caver_Dave Silver badge

On the flip side

Back in the mid/late 1980's my boss was asked to produce something for the Ferrari F1 team. (We did lots of techy things for the teams.) He decided on a TMS320 based solution (fastest DSP at the time), that I (as the only employee of the company - the boss worked for another shell) would design the hardware and software for. The problem was that the official TI assembler was about the same price as my yearly wage.

So, I had to write my own macro-assembler for the TMS320. It was a great learning experience and meant I knew the chip inside out.

The hardware struggled a little with noise on the dual layer PCB as 30MHz clock was quite fast at the time, but this turned out to be from the radio producing company next door! (It worked perfectly on a Sunday morning!)

I later rewrote a Javascript interpreter that was taking too many time and memory resources on a 4MHz 8086 Internet set-top box where memory was used for screen refresh for 50% of the time.

Getting "deep and dirty" is something everyone should do at least once to get a proper understanding of what is involved.

(Like every driver should spend a night 'on the motorway cones' to get an appreciation of that. I helped change the contraflow at the M2 jnct 5 one night. It is bloody scary standing next to cars doing 80+ in the 50mph limits imposed in such situations! - obviously pre-speed camera days.)

Making the problem go away is not the same thing as fixing it

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Making the problem go away is not enough

While my wife's elderly parents were alive, she would fetch them on Christmas Day morning and I would cook the dinner.

When they eventually passed, my wife said that she would happily cook the Christmas Dinner if she could be left in piece.

She did not see the funny side when I put her shower cap over the smoke alarm in the kitchen/dinner.

Caver_Dave Silver badge
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When fingers in the ears is a problem

One place I worked there was one of those very piercing electronic alarm sounders right next to the urinals, so it was difficult to put your fingers in your ears when it went off.

Annoyingly the weekly test was any time within a 2 hour period, so that had 2 problems:

* Everyone waited for at least 30 seconds to see if it turned off i.e. was a test

* You dared not go to the toilet during those 2 hours until it had gone off - and then there was a rush

Mars chilled for aeons, but stayed so stressed it gets crusty marsquakes

Caver_Dave Silver badge

It a shame the lead author was not called Simon, then...

Sizzza could have told us about S1222a

Stop the groaning, half of you misread it as that :-)

Buyer's remorse haunts 3 in 5 business software purchases

Caver_Dave Silver badge


"perhaps the software company salespeople could focus less on their quarterly targets and more on selling solutions that genuinely address the needs of end customers"

In the late 1980 and early 1990's I gained a reputation around our county.

People would ring in to the computer dealership (remember them?) and say they needed a computer.

I would go in an spend 1/2 day or so going through their needs and in at least 50% of the time, I would show them how to streamline their current processes to continue for longer without having to buy a computer and all associated expenses at that point. (Almost always the streamlining of the processes made it easier to move to computerisation later.)

I told them exactly when (based on their growth) it would be appropriate to start using a computer, and almost every one contacted us again at that point and we sold them the computer, printer and infrastructure they now needed.

I had a boss who was very onboard with this approach, and his reputation in the 'clubs' he was a member of rocketed as a result of these honest appraisals.

In the 8 years I was there, we had very few questions after I had installed the equipment and provided some training, and certainly no customer complaints.

A certain premium could be sought to provide that level of long term customer engagement, but these days everything is about the short term bottom line and IT supply has been reduced to little more than box shifting.

One door opens, another one closes, and this one kills a mainframe

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: IBM, too, maybe...

But now you would feel at home in any US muscle car.

They go around corners in a similarly imprecise way.

Caveat - I've only driven one, but it did handle like that and (the original UK) Top Gear were always saying it.

Atlassian buys 'asynchronous video' outfit Loom for almost $1 billion

Caver_Dave Silver badge


So someone has cloned the video recording functionality that comes free with the camera app on Windows, and many other free tools on other platforms, including phone cameras, called it 'hip' name and sold it to the stupid for lots-a-dosh!

Either I'm missing the point, or the person in charge is a great salesman - to sell you something you already have!

Engineers pave the way for building lunar roads with Moon dust

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: Sigh, read the article, people!

Blue ^H^H^H^H Black Sky thinking!

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: Inevitably

A local undulating and bendy road I travelled last night has very large patches along a two mile length where the surface has melted and the aggregate has sunk. Driving over it in the heat, it actually sounds wet. When I reported it to the Highways Dept. they put sand in their gritter and very sparsely spread sand over the surface - within hours it was gone. Now whenever it rains the slick road surface becomes a skating rink.

So, from this experience, I can't see melting the surface of a normal Tarmac road will help at all.

Mars helicopter to try for new speed record on Thursday

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: I know my maths isn't great...

It should be "up to 10 m/s".

It has to lift off vertically, accelerate to the target point, slow down, take the photographs, then accelerate back, slow down and finally land within that time period.

Excel recruitment time bomb makes top trainee doctors 'unappointable'

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: This is not an IT failing

Management at a higher level should have ensured that all areas were using the same Excel template - then this could have been completely avoided!

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: "all GP practices have changed to appointment booking solely via an online portal"

"all GP practices have changed to appointment booking solely via an online portal"

This is clearly discriminatory against the old, or other people who do not use the Internet. Especially given that the cohort when ringing are not liable to be in the best of health and able to deal with online forms.

This from an organisation that should know better!

Scripted shortcut caused double-click disaster of sysadmin's own making

Caver_Dave Silver badge


Learnt that for exactly the same reason.

Police ignored the laws of datacenter climate control

Caver_Dave Silver badge

I used to test milaero conduction cooled boards in an oven between -50 and +85 degrees.

I once found the remains of a biro that had accidentally been left in the oven by the night shift. It had softened into an oval instead of round, and that was in less than 8 hours.

Caver_Dave Silver badge

That describes the telephone cables between my village and the one on the next hill that has the exchange, except that the conduit had filled with water over the last 50 years. I got a friendly OpenReach Engineer to put a little hole in the pipe near the bottom of the valley. The 'water' (a disgusting sludge) ran out for weeks. The broadband was little better though.

Not even the ghost of obsolescence can coerce users onto Windows 11

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: Forced upgrade even of machines that pass checks?

I have an i7 processor in my convection cooled PC - one of the faster types - and its not supported. I made sure that I had TPM and all the other requirements as I was putting it together around the time that the first hardware requirements for Windows 11 came out.

When Windows 10 goes unsupported I will move to Linux (I use it for work 50% of the time anyway). I just need to find a seamless move from Outlook.

Youngest child is in the 6th Form and the school insist on Windows files for submissions (and I really can't be ar5ed to argue too hard), but what they don't realise is that she has been on Ubuntu for years!

It's the older children and wife that I will have to prize away from Windows (one of them is already on 11). I might just stop the Office subscription one day!

NASA taking its time unboxing asteroid sample because it grabbed too much stuff

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: Why waste all that money?

You beat me to it.

Although I only have myself to blame as no-one else is allowed in my office with the soundproof door.

Human knocks down woman in hit-and-run. Then driverless Cruise car parks on top of her

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: Two related stories (from with the past 3 months)

The Police have already made it clear that they will be recommending prosecution to the CPS. They are just waiting on the Coroner's verdict on which vehicle actually caused the death, and so which driver to go after.

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Two related stories (from with the past 3 months)

I have a friend who was hit by a drunk and managed to grip the bonnet until the vehicle was very nearly stopped, at which point she was pulled under the engine compartment. A few large farmer types lifted the front of the car to pull her out. Stopping in that position actually saved her from much more serious injury from say the rear suspension or axle (with differential) which were lower than the front suspension and engine.

So in the article stopping on top of her may have been a lucky accident that potentially reduced the injuries.

I know of another woman where the rider of a motorcycle was knocked off by the car in front and she was unable to stop before the rider went under her car. The rider is dead, but the Coroner is trying to work out at which point they died in order to know which one of the drivers should be prosecuted for manslaughter. (The driver in front already has the dangerous driving charge for knocking the bike rider off.) This is a UK example and so precedence may differ across jurisdictions.

Kaluma squeezes JavaScript onto the Raspberry Pi Pico

Caver_Dave Silver badge


Wow, the standard must have changed somewhat.

At the end of last century I was a programmer for an Internet set-top-box manufacturer.

25Mhz Intel processor, 64M of RAM (half of which was the screen memory and couldn't be accessed by the processor for half the time while updating the screen). It had a fully compatible browser including a JavaScript interpreter (which I wrote) and an area for cookies, passwords, history, etc.

At least this is a story against the bloatware that is more common place.

Beta driver turned heads in the hospital

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: Only 2.5 years in the NHS ....

I was once travelling with a hospital consultant in his car. It started spluttering - obviously to me it seemed like a fuel starvation problem.

Honestly, he got out and look at the exhaust pipe, but then he was a Proctologist!

Switch to hit the fan as BT begins prep ahead of analog phone sunset

Caver_Dave Silver badge

If only Police would arrest a few people!

It might stop the mass events lighting Chinese Lanterns or releasing hundreds of Balloons.

I was once at a wedding where they released around 100 Chinese Lanterns. I left in disgust and followed the lanterns to where they fell (luckily there was a full moon as once the flame goes out they are very hard to spot.) I helped the Pig farmer collect them from around the Pig Arks in the fields. I found out who the wedding planner was and the farmer did write to them, but got no reply.

NASA's Mars Sample Return mission is in danger of never launching

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: HS2 - "people can't not know this"

The train line bypassed Northampton as they were not sure that the engines could make the climb out from the river valley that Northampton lies in. Mostly the hills to the north where the branch track does go across the Althorp estate - quite close to the house actually. (The land owners were blamed in some quarters, but Robert Stephenson, the engineer of the London and Birmingham Railway was determined to avoid gradients steeper than 1:330). Kilsby tunnel was still required to the north by the mainline.

Watford Gap (between the Cotswolds and Northampton Uplands) is used by Train, Canal and M1 motorway - they and the A5 are about 100m apart as they pass through Buckby Wharf. It always surprises me that it was not heavily bombed in WWII to cut such arteries.

How is this problem mine, techie asked, while cleaning underground computer

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: Dirty Jobs

I used to use an Aircraft restoration company for building very nice bespoke test equipment enclosures.

Lawsuit claims Google Maps led dad of two over collapsed bridge to his death

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: Pointless to complain.

When electronic maps became popular they started putting up "street name signs" on the country roads. One near us was given a name very different to the one it had been called for at least 4 centuries.

I asked the District Councillor when he deigned to come to our Parish Council meeting. He mumbled something about Google, and clearly said that it was essential for roads to have names. When I asked if the District Council would replace the signed with the correct name, he said they had no money to make the changes and didn't know how to tell Google that it had changed.

It made us think that Google had funded the signs to help their directions, but the wouldn't be drawn further on the matter. An FOI request received a reply that it was privileged information.

(For context there is one countywide committee that decides on speed limits, weight limits, etc. When you ask to see the meeting minutes you are told that they haven't published any in 25 years. My MP has also tried and received the same answer, but now he is a minister he has no time to pursue this abuse.)

Caver_Dave Silver badge

But they do disappear

A625 under Mam Tor, Castleton, Derbyshire. A main road until 1979 when some of it slipped away.

BT confirms it's switching off 3G in UK from Jan next year

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: 'New' - old techniques

When DECT first came out (I had serial number 6 on my dev board) I used it so that the car park supervisor at the Twin Towers would be told when one of the lamps in his vast underground car park was ABOUT to fail (slight change in the colour output). [Predictive analysis]

A Jet Heritage charity didn't have the money to change engines every x hours. I produced cockpit H/W and S/W to log the current used to start the engine to work out over time when it might fail. [Predictive analysis and when used over the whole fleet, would probably class as big data]

Home automation with wireless, X10, IP and mobile (via SMS and MMS) control and reporting.

Neural nets in its early days demonstrating voice recognition for a major UK bank.

Matching engines and exhausts for a high performance car (and racing) manufacturer - so old that the the details were stored on dBase and the matching algorithms in Pascal (with feedback when the power output of the pair was measured, this tweeked a large matrix.) [Machine learning]

Warehouse picking and (very limited space) stand-down area allocation for a major distribution company. Had to work out the picking sheets for every picker, how to utilise the stand-down area (space for 8 lorry loads), how to load the lorries (60 lorries per night), and when the lorries had to leave (to fit their delivery slots), all within 30 minutes of the orders coming in. (Acceptance criteria, was that the software had to do it better than the team of 3 people with 20+ years experience, each! And they did it incrementally over 3 hours.) [Basically, what would now be called a digital twin, was built and used to tweek the basic algorithms output to actually fit all the constraints.]

These (and probably many more that I can't remember) were all last century!

Caver_Dave Silver badge


There needs to be an obligation to actually supply 4G before they turn off the 3G.

I live in a 'not spot' for all the networks, although their coverage maps say that we should get 3G and 4G, and the customer support droids only refer to that!

FFS I can actually see a transmitter from upstairs windows! (I will admit that I'm probably outside of that particular cell, as they are gradually putting up more towers and reducing the cell radius accordingly.)

Icon as I wrote the assembler code for echo and noise cancellation routines for some Nokia phones last century. All paths through the filters had to take exactly the same number of clock cycles and I achieved it with only one NOP. (How many of the younglings even know about such things?)

Getting to the bottom of BMW's pay-as-you-toast subscription failure

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: coccyx-centered comforts in cold climes

As someone who had incontinence for a while (due to an injury) I can add that they feel almost exactly the same as pi55ing yourself.

NASA wants to believe ... that you can help it crack UFO mysteries

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: A zero day in human DNA

" Brown Noise" I had to look that up.

I previously thought Brown Noise was created in the toilet, the morning after a dodgy curry.

These days you can teach old tech a bunch of new tricks

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: Booting DOS?

Yes, MS-DOS used BIOS calls for much of its work.

This is where the copying of CP/M came in useful, as many of the calls were similar enough that you could write one piece of code to run on both. I used to demonstrate this on an Epson Qx-16 as it had both Z80 and the NEC equivalent to 8080 processors. Running CP/M-80 and MS-DOS 2.x.

1986 - now that does make me feel old!

Ford, BMW, Honda to steer bidirectional EV charging standard

Caver_Dave Silver badge


Does this mean that they might come up with a common standard for the charging connectors?

Why do the manufacturers insist on having different connectors on their cars?

Charge stations have to support multiple different charging styles and whenever you turn up to one, there is nearly always a queue for the type of connector you want and empty spaces at the other types.

(For a while we had two electric cars with different connectors, so the choice of which vehicle to take on a longer journey was determined by which connectors were reported broken on the various charging stations. And broken was nearly always on the payment taking side, rather than the physical ability to supply watts.)

Microsoft Edge still forcing itself on users in Europe

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Is this different from Outlook -> File -> Options -> Advanced -> File and browser preferences -> Open hyperlinks from Outlook in: -> Default Browser

This seems to have tidied up things for me.

Caveat emptor: I am on Windows 10, but was suffering with almost everything suddenly appearing in Edge, including emails

If you like to play along with the illusion of privacy, smart devices are a dumb idea

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: Why would a Washing Machine require my Date of Birth ...

Filling it with caving gear after a muddy cave is a very quick way to block everything up. (I always pre-wash in a local stream before undressing, or if not available then a hosepipe when I get home.)

Surface mud from rugby never seemed to block it at all.

MOXIE microwaved Mars air into oxygen, but now it's time for a breather

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Short sighted?

So Oxygen is in short supply in the Martian atmosphere. NASA are planning to extract it and use that oxygen to burn, either in people or rockets. Thereby reducing the atmospheric oxygen further. This doesn't sound like a long term solution to me.

Watt's the worst thing you can do to a datacenter? Failing to RTFM, electrically

Caver_Dave Silver badge

If you've ever jeopardized a major project with a moment's inattention

A moment's inattention is all it takes for the majority of issues in my experience. That's why you should have proper review procedures.

Even Agile likes "pair programming" for instant review.

PEBCAK problem transformed young techie into grizzled cynical sysadmin

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Not just in SW

I have been struggling to get my solar installation sorted for over 5 months now (Senergy Direct).

At the last visit by their experts, I insisted that we started from basics and asked them to double-check that the load-balancers that they were struggling to connect to were actually fitted.

Once you knew what you were looking for, you could see from ground level that they had not been fitted!

Largest local government body in Europe goes under amid Oracle disaster

Caver_Dave Silver badge

"clinging to their jobs"

I had a relation who started work with her local borough council as an Administration Assistant.

On the first day she asked her boss what she should do - "Get anything you want from the Stationary Stores, make a cup of Tea and read a book."

After 2 months of doing nothing her boss left and she was automatically promoted.

She asked a new boss what she should do - "Organise a replacement for your old job"

"But I didn't have anything to do" "But we have a budget for that position and so it must be filled"

"What do I do after I have employed the replacement?" "Manage them"

My relation left after another month of not doing anything.

Caver_Dave Silver badge

"you ought to look at Somerset"

I will raise you with Northamptonshire.

Corby in North Northants and Northampton in West Northants had old borough councils that were bailed out by the rural districts when they were made into the 2 unitaries, but they still snaffle the vast majority of all spending. And council tax across the unitaries have gone up steeply to fund the towns at the expense of the (schools and bins only) rural spending. (Yes I know that social care is a legal requirement, but they get around that by providing it all in the towns.)

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: Easy win but challenging keep.

Ex Chairman of a Parish Council. There were no political affiliations in my council, over all the years that I was involved.

We were the "pillars of the community" trying to do right by what our parishioners wanted.

We used to work with the district council and things tended to amicable.

Then the district council was replaced with a unitary, who changed rules without informing us and generally tried to dump on us from a great height (trying to pass responsibilities down to us, but providing no extra money for it).

That was enough - I was no longer willing to spend hours trawling through the obscure depths of their website to find out what they had changed this week and not told us about - and resigned.

Yes the political affiliation of the layer above us changed, but I think that the problem was that the good people who used to be in the districts, who we could work with, were replaced with the aresholes from the old county and borough councils, who got themselves into huge financial and legal trouble and caused the imposition of unitary status in the first place.

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Re: Easy win but challenging keep.

Back in 1989 (showing my age!) I took an option on an old wharf warehouse building and tried to get planning permission to change into flats. Turned down flatly by the local district council and told there was no way it could ever be converted. I withdrew my option on the building.

1 year later I find that it is being converted and so checked into it. It had been bought and planning permission obtained (on what looked like an exact copy of my plans) by one of the district councillors.

Apparently, I could only get this looked into on the grounds that they lied to me that it could never get planning permission and then it was granted to a councillor with my plans, by spending around 8 times my annual salary trying to get a judicial review.

Just in it for themselves, the bastards!

Caver_Dave Silver badge

"Hence why unitary authorities were created"

I used to live in a council district that had one of the lowest council taxes in the country and one of the largest per capita savings.

Piss poor manglement by the county council and county town borough council brought them to bankruptcy.

Government handlers were brought in and decided that unitary status was the answer and would provide so many cost savings to the tax payers.

Guess what? My district council (and another) were linked with the borough which paid off most of their debts with the savings in the two districts and the council tax has gone up considerably, with fewer services in the rural areas.

IT needs more brains, so why is it being such a zombie about getting them?

Caver_Dave Silver badge

Across all sectors

A medical doctor completing training this year will earn the equivalent of 10 cans of Baked Beans per hour.

In 1984 that was 26 cans and they had no debt accrued in 10 years of training!

When bus or train drivers earn many times more, (or even supermarket shelf stackers!), how are people incentivised to do academic or technical jobs?