* Posts by Caver_Dave

143 posts • joined 11 Jul 2018


This'll make you feel old: Uni compsci favourite Pascal hits the big five-oh this year


Re: pascal was simply useless.

Used Pascal in HE and then Turbo Pascal on Z80 CP/M based laptops and handhelds for many commercial systems in the late 1980's and most of the 1990's.

For some of the systems I did, look up the Epson PX4 (F1 timing systems, Gallup pop chart, Tie Rack and most Pharmacists ordering systems), PX8 and HX20 (even had a voice interface!)

Also Epson EHT (touch screen handheld used to load balance Concord luggage, although that application was in C on DOS!)

[ICON: as there was only me and John Franklin of Epson who knew the ROM disassemblies inside out.]

Paying Arizona: Google sued by state for location data revenues after tracking state's citizens via mobiles

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UK Government

UK Government Coronavirus press conference slides (23 May 2020)

Includes Google mobility data, before and during the outbreak.

Ahh... caring, sharing Google

Apple, Google begin to spread pro-privacy, batt-friendly coronavirus contact-tracing API for phone apps


Re: Has no-one thought of the children?

The WHO has many studies that show that children are almost immune to the illness and very unlikely to infect anyone even if they do catch it.

Child to child transmission is almost zero

Child to adult transmission is almost zero

The above two reasons is why schools are open in many countries

Adult to child transmission is very low

In the UK 1% of all over 90's have already died from it

30% of all those who have died from it were over-weight and had Type II Diabetes

Death from Covid-19 is very age and illness related.

The figures are all published, but they don't make Tabloid headlines and don't keep Union reps in the faces of employers.

Unless you are a pensioner with underlying health conditions, the most dangerous part of your working day will still be the travel to and from!

Windows invokes Sgrîn Las Marwolaeth upon Newport


Re: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

Name dropper!

'We're changing shift, and no one can log on!' It was at this moment our hero knew server-lugging chap had screwed up


Re: marketing

Because they are to F'in noisy!

DBA locked in police-guarded COVID-19-quarantine hotel for the last week shares his story with The Register


Re: And this is why the Aussies are on top of it

Two flies in the ointment:

1) There are a couple of clusters of unexplained Coronavirus outbreaks in the UK in December and many more in January (two choral societies in Manchester for instance) - all linked to people travelling back from Wuhan. The illness already had a foot hold well before the WHO announced the problems.

2) Some people in the UK refuse to do as they are told! The self isolation of travellers has been generally ignored if you look at the clusters of illnesses that surround many of them, and the general public seem to be even worse!

So we really cannot learn from the lessons of China - where people do as they are told (often forcibly) - see fly no. 2 above.

But we have learnt from Italy, as our Health Service was not overwhelmed like theirs was.

We can learn from those countries that still impose quarantine, such as Australia. We only did it for the first flights from Wuhan, but now we have to enforce it - see fly no.2 above.

Working back from the death rates (although they are a little skewed by the Care Homes) and WHO figures for the number of asymptomatic or mild illnesses, we get figures of 5-10% of the population have been infected. Now is the time for the next stage, but yes, we will see the numbers of infected bounce back up again, but if people follow the rules, this should be well within the limit of the NHS.

Remember this is an illness of age:

2 deaths in under 10's - both with pre-existing conditions

27 deaths in under 25's - most with pre-existing conditions

1% of all over 90's dead from this virus.

In my view school children could be back, if there are sufficient young teachers available, so parents can get back to work - except for those children where they live with the most vulnerable. This half school year can be generally be written off - not because the teachers have not tried to provide remote work for the children, but because so many children (with their parents blessing) have not done any of the work. These will all have to be "brought back up to speed" in September to the detriment of the rest of the classes :-( I have many reports of this from teacher friends, where those who do not bother much in class, have not returned any work since they have been at home!

Sorry rambling - I'll get my coat!

Britain has no idea how close it came to ATMs flooding the streets with free money thanks to some crap code, 1970s style


Re: Experienced tester.

Many years ago I had the absolute pleasure of working with two testers Cheryl and Caroline. Outside of the office they were great company and we all (developers and testers) got on like a house on fire. Inside the office they had PMT ratcheted up about 1000%, which was absolutely brilliant for the job!

The bug report I found the most amusing/terrifying went along the lines of :

System - some employee pay and benefits system

Problem - cannot enter minus one for number of children of employee

Rational - Employee has divorced and their partner now has sole custody

Dumpster diving to revive a crashing NetWare server? It was acceptable in the '90s


Re: Photo

If you try hard enough, you may still be able to find it working somewhere.

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


Will this still work?

I had a call to go down to Silverstone one day from an F1 team who was using some of my lap timing kit; they wondered if the timing beam (a little metal box on a normal camera tripod) would still work after a "little prang".

I found the box and parts of the tripod embedded quite deeply into the side pod of the car and some of the data cable dangling on the floor.

The box was fine, once I had replaced the data connector, but the tripod and cable had to be replaced.

[icon : I designed and sold all sorts of electronics, computing and telecoms kit to most of the F1 teams, some NASCAR (via Nigel Mansell) and other high-end formula around the world, and did the first in car telemetry in the late 1980's and early 1990's]

Absolutely everyone loves video conferencing these days. Some perhaps a bit too much


Re: Paris...

I used to supply electronic timing and in-car telemetry to F1 teams (1990's). Occasionally, I would have to go on-site for a test session. Oh, the glamour - NOT! Just one example: drive overnight from the UK to Monza, spend all daylight hours and quite a few more at the circuit, struggle into a nearby hotel (rinse and repeat 3 times), then drive overnight back to the UK.

ZX Spectrum prototype ROM is now available for download courtesy of boffins at the UK's Centre for Computing History



I used to have a book called "The Complete Spectrum ROM Disassembly" and I only threw it out a few years ago. (Now it's online).

I found it very informative and it really helped me learn the assembler language.

Zoom's end-to-end encryption isn't actually end-to-end at all. Good thing the PM isn't using it for Cabinet calls. Oh, for f...


Re: Webex....

Good enough for European leaders, good enough for National leaders, but not good enough for Parish Councils.

We were told last week (via our county association) that we could not use any electronics alternatives for meetings!

World's smallest violin to be played for opportunistic sellers banned from eBay and Amazon for price gouging


Re:Carol V

Having worked briefly with her before she was famous, I can attest to Carol having a wicked sense of humour, and if she had done the above it would not have been a mistake.

However, is seem to remember Judith Hann holding calculators.


Need to put reserves on

We are newbies to eBay selling.

My wife recently sold a pram and all its possible accessories. We had asked £50 (original prices over £360), the lady that came round to collect actually gave us £10 as she was embarrassed to have the winning bid of £5! (It cost us more than that in deep cleaning everything.)

[ICON] I'm glad my wife's self-isolation has finished and she is going back to the NHS front-line today as she has contracted the eBay bug and would sell the coat off my back!

UK enters almost-lockdown: Brits urged to keep calm and carry on – as long as it doesn't involve leaving the house


Re: Medics

A significant part of my Wilderness First Aid and Casualty Care training over the years has been about when not to bother.

My daughter has just qualified as a UK doctor and they are worried about the percentage they lose as bureaucracy use that is a valid metric without any form of context. (It's one of the metrics provided to prospective patients when they chose where to have treatment.)

[ICON] My only white coat is used for stock judging, not for medical use!


Re: Paranoid Rant

Or the large numbers of twitchers descending on my local reservoir from all over the country because someone thought they saw a bird! This means that it is now closed and it was the main dog walk for the locals.


Re: And use food delivery services where you can.”

Where the hell do you live? My nearest shop is 4 miles away, and they complain that they can't buy anything from the wholesalers!

I normally self-isolate to a large extent because of multiple issues. I spend £100 - 150 a week on a weekly shopping delivery from the nearest superstore (8 miles) for my family and have done for all of this century! However, for the last 3 weeks we have not been able to get a delivery slot and the earliest delivery we could get is still 2 weeks away.

My Pharmacist wife is in isolation due to a virus (don't think it is that one, but as there is no testing for NHS staff we don't know for sure), but had to break this to travel to the superstore (see above as to why the local shop was not an option) to get a few basics, but came back almost empty handed.

Things may be OK in the large cities, but just outside a county town the situation is dire!

BT's Wi-Fi Disc ads banned because there's no evidence the things work


Re: thinking the discs were battery-powered instead of needing a mains electrical connection.

When ripping out the leaking water jet bath in my house just after we moved in, I found a trailing socket and plug for the water jets pump under the leaking bath! The socket was wired directly onto twin and earth back to the distribution board with a nail for a fuse!

After the electrician electrocuted himself 3 times trying to sort out the wiring, we gave up and had the whole lot replaced. Some of the lights were on bell wire!

[ICON] fire, as that was what we expected if we didn't replace the whole wiring


Re: "Only we guarantee Wi-Fi in every room"

300 baud acoustic coupler!

Now I do feel old!

Looming ventilator shortage amid pandemic sparks rise of open-source DIY medical kit. Good thinking – but safe?


Re: Apollo 13 anyone?

An air scrubber and a calibrated ventilator are two completely different beasts!

India's tech hub Bengaluru tells IT outfits to send workers home as part of COVID-crimping action

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Scammers still working

I had two calls from 'Microsoft' this morning. (I have a physical phone line due to being in a mobile not-spot!)

When I tell them to p1ss off they normally just put the phone down, but one of them left me with the parting shout "I will send Covid-19 down the phone line to infect you!"

Good to see they know as much about disease as they do about computers!

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


Yes, at my last company the cleaners did not go into the lab areas (even after a fly infestation!)

Back to the late 1980's. A husband and wife translation team worked from home. The husband’s computer kept losing the Wordstar (I think) documents, but never when he was at the desk. I soon had him saving the work to floppy on a regular basis, but was despatched by my boss to see what was happening. I had a very boring morning watching this couple in their living room. The husband went to the shops at lunchtime and the wife looked to me and put her finger to her lips. She then proceeded to remove the plug from his monitor, plug it into the printer and print off a couple of documents, before replacing the plug in his monitor. Unlike her computer with a separate CPU box, his was integrated and of course her removing the plug removed the power to the CPU as well. I had set up the autoexec.bat (or whatever it was then) to run Wordstar when it was powered on, so the husband only saw a loss of the document. Once I had explained the issue to the wife, I left a fault sheet listing a power cable entanglement issue (i.e. something that was their fault and I would not be blamed for) and then left. I never had another call from them, other than a regular order for more printer ribbons.

Microsoft, Google, Slack, Zoom et al struggling to deal with a spike in remote tools thanks to coronavirus

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Remote working

I work from a Home Office, as do most of my colleagues around the world (including China where a home office is very rare). We write a certifiable operating system; so a job that would traditionally be penned in a "gofer farm."

We tend to use Zoom for project (text) chats and its video for conferences, or when we just want to see someone (e.g. talking with line manager or customers). Had a call yesterday afternoon (GMT) with 157 participants with only 3 reporting slight, transient breakup of sound.

We use Remote Desktop to talk to lab equipment (wherever it happens to be in the world).

It's great to get out for a walk around the village at lunchtime and catch up on what's going on (I'm also Vice-Chairman of the Parish Council) and if there was a shop or cafe it would be used. Working from home (normally) helps both local businesses and the community cohesion.

If two outcomes of this pandemic are that more people work from home and more people use video conferencing rather than travelling to meetings, then it will have a lasting positive legacy.

Broadband providers can now flog Openreach's new IP voice network in bid to ditch UK's copper phone lines by 2025


I have used a Vonage adaptor ever since I got a fibre provider into our local Parishes. So it's all IP for us, without changing the physical phones.

BTW my mobile coverage is also via my broadband and a Femtocell.



In my Parishes fibre system, 2/3rds of the green box is battery backup.

UK.gov lays out COVID-19 guidance as the tech supply chain considers its own


Re: Come on

Corona is the type of virus, Covid-19 is the disease it causes.

This is like Measles is the disease caused by the Rubeola virus and the German Measles is the disease caused by the Rubella virus.

Maersk prepares to lay off the Maidenhead staffers who rescued it from NotPetya super-pwnage


I certainly recognise the "they move on to another job as soon as we get them trained up enough to be useful".

Scottish biz raided, fined £500k for making 193 million automated calls


Re: Spoofing of phone numbers should be limited

What p155es me off is that my doctor, school, local hospital and police (i.e. the only people I really want to hear from) all have a blank CLI!

Sure, check through my background records… but why are you looking at my record collection?


And if you don't do social media?

6 or 7 years ago a respected ex-colleague wrote a job requirement that was effectively a copy of the headlines of my CV and made sure that I was on the distribution list of possible candidates. I dutifully applied after a quick chat with him regarding what was actually required. And then all went quiet, until I heard from someone else I know that they had got the job.

Being a nosey bugger and wanting to know what I had done wrong in the application, I rang the company boss who had conducted the selection. His answer was that as I had no social media presence he couldn't work out what sort of character I was and therefore I was dropped immediately. He got a good idea of my character as then (to his credit) he received a 5 minute description as to why his lazy assumptions were so wrong and then he apologised profusely.

Still wouldn't work for him though!

London's top cop dismisses 'highly inaccurate or ill informed' facial-recognition critics, possibly ironically

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Dr Kuntz

I worked for large multinational electronics (and in those days mobile phone) company. I went to a meeting in Germany and was shown into a room with my colleagues where only one local stood waiting. He announced loudly "Right my name is Dr. Kuntz and my brother is indeed an inspector in the local police. Now you Brits just get over it!" At which point his colleagues trooped in for the meeting.

Don't use natwest.co.uk for online banking, Natwest bank tells baffled customer



Why do so many large companies insist on 2FA via SMS only?

It's almost as though they don't listen when so many of us tell them that we don't get a mobile phone signal!

It is the digital dark ages when you are no longer able to perform basic banking etc. because the charlatans operating the phone networks will not provide basic coverage to many parts of the UK. The phone sign coverage maps are pure lies in some areas (such as mine where I should get 4G, but don't get anything unless I walk to the bottom of my garden, where I can sometimes get 3G.) At least smart meters don't work!

And they said IoT was trash: Sheffield 'smart' bins to start screaming when they haven't been emptied for a fortnight



They have planted new trees in roads not too far from the mature trees that received much attention (unfortunately, much of that from chainsaws!). And yes, I am told that they received a grant for planting the fairly ragged saplings!

Hear, hear: The first to invent idiot-cancelling headphones gets my cash


Re: Not a lot of people know this ..

My bit of trivia. The ripple moves backwards as 12mph!

Tech can endure the most inhospitable environments: Space, underwater, down t'pit... even hairdressers


The record stores thought the computers were crap

Or at least one did.

I looked after the UK pop chart terminals (Epson PX4 and a little smaller than a ream of paper) for a while and we had a courier based return system. The courier took out the replacement equipment in a box, the store manager would swap the replacement equipment for the broken, and the courier would bring the broken equipment back in the same box.

One set of equipment came back with a surcharge as the courier had to wait around for some time for the broken kit, and the paperwork had a scribbled note apologising for the state of the box. The box looked fine, so (luckily for me) we did some investigating before we opened it.

It turns out that the courier had to wait while the store manager found the computer... in what had just come out of the broken sewer!

Wake me up before you go Go: Devs say they'll learn Google-backed lang next. Plus: Perl pays best, Java still in demand


Continual Professional Development

How many of you have logged your CPD assignments in order to maintain your skills and professional (chartered) status, in the past year?

How many of you would go to a doctor, dentist, pharmacist, accountant or even lawyer who had not?

Until Software Engineers are required to have Chartered (or local equivalent) status to practice, then wages will be suppressed by the mass of (relatively) unproven workforce.

My Pharmacist wife earns more in 3 days than I earn in 5, despite me earning more than the UK average according to this survey.

I'm reaching for the flameproof coat now!

This AI is full of holes: Brit council fixes thousands of road cracks spotted by algorithm using sat snaps


Re: The ulterior motive

Around my way the regular inspection is every 6 months for each section of road. At which point a bloke drives around in a little Council van and diligently measures every 'large' pothole to see if on that day it meets their exacting standards for repair. If so, it will be added to the repair list. After a (long) while another man will come out and try to identify the hole and paint a yellow square around it.The next day it will be badly patched.

If you can find the claim form on the County Council website (it is very well hidden) you have to supply a photograph of the damaged vehicle tyre/wheel in the same frame as the hole with the yellow square clearly visible. An FOI request by the local paper showed that they rejected 90% of claims in 2018. Clearly their lawyers are more competent than their repair teams!


Money saving

It means that they are only fixing damage so large that it can be seen from space!

The "up to 30cm across and up to 10cm deep before any action is taken" metric used by my County Council would mean that few car wreckers would have any chance of (commercially) being seen from space.

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


Re: No hammer needed

SWMBO uses a shoe as a hammer and a butter knife as a flat bladed screw driver. She says that if they don't work then it's too technical for her and I have to fix it.

As she doesn't wear stilettos and most screws are now cross head, I deem her antics become safer as time progresses and everything gets smaller.

Beware the Friday afternoon 'Could you just..?' from the muppet who wants to come between you and your beer


You mentions cars

IT support is like all the people that 'drop around' to have a chat about the snow and bad travelling conditions, when all they want is a free lift in your 4x4. - Before you start, it is electric and the roads around here are like driving across a field in parts!

I never seem to get a lift in their convertibles in the summer.

Now I work from home, we have got rid of one car and SWMBO takes the electric one to work, so I don't get bothered by the free lift brigade any more. :-)

One-time Brexit Secretary David Davis demands Mike Lynch's extradition to US be halted


Re: Saccolas

I worked in that area in the mid 1980's, and almost every time I had to drive in the direction of the base for work, my boss would give me the lecture about crawling speed around the corners and slowing down if there was an approaching car on a narrow road "because of the Yanks".

It doesn't help that most of them learned to drive in cars almost as wide as our country roads.

An FOI request to Northamptonshire Police regarding the number of accidents in the area would be interesting.

It has been a very well known problem locally, for a very long time!

Rugby legend Will Carling tells El Reg: Techie stats bods will love this year's Six Nations



If they really want to provide all the stats, then put them on an interactive and constantly updated website. Then those who want to watch the game can view the TV and those who want the stats can look at their tablet in conjunction with watching the game on the TV. Choice for the consumer - it won't happen then!

Icon - rather like the last collision that put me out of the game permanently!

We’ve had enough of your beach-blocking shenanigans, California tells stubborn Sun co-founder: Kiss our lawsuit


Not quite right

District Councils in the UK can move footpaths, so long as they go through the necessary statutory steps.

My father has a footpath that moved from a neighbours field onto his field access path. The first he knew was when the footpath signs were replaced. The Parish Council didn't know about the move, but apparently it was widely advertised. Funnily enough, when I asked to see proof from the District Council they rejected my FOI requests claiming I was being vexatious!

My county is changing democratic structure to get rid of the District Councils. Not particularly a good move in the views of the proletariat, but the council workers seem to love the idea, and I bet none of the scheming b'stards get the shove, instead getting 'golden hellos' into the new structures, protected pensions, etc. Local government seems institutionally corrupt (and don't get me started on their planning decisions!)

It's always DNS, especially when you're on holiday with nothing but a phone on GPRS


On Call / not On Call

A long time ago, everyone in my IT group had to take a turn providing overnight and weekend cover for the haulage business (all their real work is done at night when they re-stock the supermarkets). I told the head of IT that there was no mobile coverage where I lived, but he insisted. So for four years, every month there were no responses to any calls for a week, when it was my turn.

The company didn't collapse, I didn't get a bollocking, and I received the on-call supplementary payment. Everything must have just worked when I was on-call - I must have been a lucky talisman - I saw that the other guys logged lots of calls (unless that was a scam).

The Register disappears up its own fundament with a Y2K prank to make a BOFH's grinchy heart swell with pride


Boss names

I once had a boss called Jo Bubb. She wondered why we called her Bielza and not Jo !

2 more degrees and it's lights out: Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix's toasty mobile bit barn


F1 Jobs

I produced the first F1 in-car telemetry system many years ago as well as selling lap-timing equipment to the F1 teams (and many other formulas). Everybody had two or three jobs. For all the teams I can remember, the guy who worked my lap-timing equipment, was also the gearbox man and a truck driver.

The time PC Tools spared an aerospace techie the blushes


Early 1992

A customer of mine was a pharmaceutical wholesaler with a McDonnal Douglas mainframe controlling everything it could (at least everything early 90's style). Each of the wholesalers in the UK had a proprietary protocol to communicate with the chemist shops when they placed orders. I went to one chemists where they had 3 identical Epson PX-4 computers, one for ordering with each wholesaler they used. I quickly created one piece of code that would interface to all the wholesalers and reduce the number of computers in the (always) crowded chemists to 1.

Now, the wholesaler mentioned above, wanted a receiver to take orders from any of the remote order entry computers, and to increase the number of incoming order modem lines, and buffer orders when the mainframe was having its regular TITSUP. Just for fun some protocols where 8 bit no parity, some 7 bit even parity and one was 7 bit odd parity. The longest expansion bus I could find with sufficient power supply allowed 32 incoming modem interfaces. I got a 25MHz 486Sx and a 'large for the time' hard disk.

Within a week of first trials it was buffering all the orders and faking order reception when the mainframe was AWOL - all very mission critical. And all backed up, and the recovery procedure documented and tested. That should have been the end of a very successful project until the customer pointed out that I hadn't done the tasks on the back of the SOW - I had only been given a single sided photocopy!

Page 2 said that the computer also had to be used as a word processing terminal - "as it was only a backup for the main frame"! And the customer would not pay until that was demonstrated as well. They might have been brilliant at stock control, but they just could not understand that all orders were now passing through the PC and that it had to be dedicated. I, my employer, and the local university lecturer (who played golf with the wholesaler's MD) all tried to persuade the MD but to no avail.

So the order entry system was made into a Terminate-And-Stay-Resident program and the demonstration was made with creating and printing a Wordstar document at peak ordering time. At which point the glass door in front of the terminal was locked and not opened in the 5 years before I moved to another company. Just before I left, the wholesaler MD reported that the PC had never missed a beat and credited that with the software being in a TSR. He had apparently read in a magazine on the shelves of WH Smith, at the time he was writing the SOW, that TSR's had to be the most reliable software and that was why he insisted on it. (I can't work out whether he was a genius or a dick?)

Hate speech row: Fine or jail anyone who calls people boffins, geeks or eggheads, psychology nerd demands


Elon Musk

Apparently calling someone "pedo" is OK in the US - I just hope that it isn't in the UK

[I used the US spelling on purpose!]

What do you mean your eardrums need a break? Samsung-owned JBL touts solar-powered wireless headphones you don't need to charge


Tried it

Given a reasonable size roof it works well. I tried to make one many years ago and it worked reasonably well. On rainy days it lit a small LED light. I reckoned that about an hour of drizzle would give about 8 hours of light. It really needs a tiny solar panel as well for those rare days when it does not rain in the UK.

Main problems I found:

As water tends to run down the inside walls of the drainpipe it needed a funnel type arrangement to move this to centre and concentrate the flow. However, when it rained heavily this made the pipe back up! A diversion pipe slightly higher up the pipe, bypassing the funnel, would resolve this and could be built into the battery holder (I actually used a large capacitor).

It was quite a pain to build, but that would be much easier with a 3D printer.

I didn't do a patent search, as I was never going to sell the devices, but I'm sure there must be one out there. And if there isn't a patent - then this is prior art!

Revealed: NHS England bosses meet with tech and pharmaceutical giants to discuss price list of millions of Brits' medical data



"This record-organizing programme includes the creation of a “single, standardised, event-based, longitudinal patient record” repository for 65 million Brits. Basically, everything you can imagine collected, cleaned up, curated, and searchable, in one place."

Isn't that what the last 'x' number of digital reforms were supposed to do?

If the data is all still in separate data stores then it's no wonder they still (to use an apt colloquialism) "don't know their arse from their ear-hole"!

When is an electrical engineer not an engineer? When Arizona's state regulators decide to play word games


Re: So... is he an engineer?

Make that three



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