* Posts by VTAMguy

24 posts • joined 23 Jul 2018

Happy Hacking Professional Hybrid mechanical keyboard: Weird, powerful, comfortable ... and did we mention weird?


Smart ones you can, yes.


DIP switches for the win

Flaky, crude, Windows-only keyboard configuration programs, generally cringe-worthy amateur appearing code masquerading as useful software, are not an improvement.

I won't be ignored: Google to banish caller roulette with Verified Calls


Google Verified Spam

Any business stupid enough to pay money to Google for something like this is a business I definitely want nothing to do with. Doesn't Google do anything real any more? It's always this kind of drek being puished as innovative, along with endless tinkering and rearranging the controls on things to no real purpose. They seem to have a million engineers and software people but they only seem to be able to manage useless stuff like this. We the humans would like software written primarily for us, and not developed primarily with a constant eye out for corporate interests. Not seeing a lot of that these days from the overloards, and they're not even pretending like they used to.

Shine on: Boffins bedazzle Alexa and her voice-controlled assistant kin with silent laser-injected commands


List of reasons avoid this thing entirely for the rest of your life gets longer and longer

Added "laser injection attack" to my list of reasons I will never pay money to have a spying microphone installed in the most intimate spaces of my home. If you want to keep track, here's how to start your own list: take a piece of paper and number it 1 through 50 on the front. Then put numbers 51 through 100 on the back. Label this paper 'A' as there will be multiple pages. At some point, the reasons to avoid this thing will pile up so much you might want to consider a binder for them.

Mitigations. Yeah, I got a mitigation for you. It uses a canvas sack, some lead weights, and a long pier into the ocean.

Hey is trying a new take on email – but maker complains of 'outrageous' demands after Apple rejects iOS app


or Pine

Same advantages for pine (now alpine) - all text, no crap. Email from people is text, and I read it. Email from Corporate Entities is generally an attempt to reproduce a Corporate Web Page, and I decline to view that sort of drek. Especially likely to be seen as unwanted are those propaganda missives that include -only- an HTML part, as if their particular shouty message could only be expressed with the garish and vulgar typography they invariably select ("web designers"). Words have always been the best way for me to express and understand complex concepts, so if you're sending me pictures of Shiny Things and your words are "Buy This!", then you've made yourself rather unattractive in the competition for my attention.

Logitech Zone Wireless: Swanky headset means business, but that also means it comes with a hefty price tag


Logitech vs. Linux

Another "management app" from Logitech that will likely run only under Windows. Logitech as a corporation has deliberately turned its back towards Linux for years, refusing to acknowledge that such an OS even exists, which is fine because I can turn my back too. They are really enamored with their stupid USB dongles even when it makes the product less convenient to use - why require a dongle if you already have to use a physical USB cable to charge the thing anyway? For me, much of their stuff has not been innovative nor has it been reliable.

Florida man might just stick it to HP for injecting sneaky DRM update into his printers that rejected non-HP ink


Re: As business models go

+1. The brand name of HP was revered for superior engineering in a number of different fields. They were all engineers and they cared about engineering high-quality products. Now it's all frat boys with spreadsheets ferreting out how to scrape the last few dollars from the carcass, and then at some point it'll either go under completely or it'll get rebranded with a stupid Silicon Valley name we can mock.

The Adobe Flash Farewell Tour 2020: LibreOffice to axe export support for .SWF in version 7


Still companies trying to foist it on users

There are still large companies *cough*Vanguard*cough* who try to convince clients to conduct sales chats with a Flash client, and get all confused when you tell them you'd rather eat vomit. They see it as a failing of the stupid customer who won't cooperate rather than as a massive techincal fail from their employer.

Tick tick Zoom, is this thing on? US comms giant Verizon pulls on BlueJeans for 'undisclosed amount'


Re: Verizon

Exactly, as soon as I see the name Verizon I know that whatever software they've attached themselves to and are buzzwording will both suck and never be used. It's all fairly automatic by now - Verizon acquisitions quickly sink under the waves without any noise, or users. They just don't get that everyone thinks of them solely as the phone company with a stupid name, and not for anything else.

Boeing 787s must be turned off and on every 51 days to prevent 'misleading data' being shown to pilots


Bail out this company for sure

Yet another design from Boeing which can kill people. We should definitely be bailing them out with taxpayer money. Definitely. They try so hard and they've been so open and transparent about everything.

Microsoft expands AI features in Office, but are they any good? Mixed, according to our vulture


Re: "when you use Microsoft Editor, your content is sent to Microsoft's servers for analysis"

Here here. I was about to make a post very similar to yours although mine was going to have more NOs in it. Having my content be sent to random corporations without my consent is just not ever going to be a happening thing for me. I don't want my editor to have any AI abilities. I don't want my editor to suggest anything at all to me, ever. I don't want my editor to do anything but accept my input and commands, and produce text files on the computer that I'm working on. I can take care of all the other stuff with my brain, which has a lot more to do with producing readable documents than the stuff Microsoft vomits up under the guise of being helpful. Maybe all that nonsense is helpful in maintaining employment for thousands of sub-par Redmond "programmers", but none of it helps me at all.

Ring in the changes: Mandatory two-factor authentication, login alerts, targeted ads opt-out after punters voice privacy gripes


Re: "personalized advertising can deliver a better customer experience."

+1 to that. In addition to the usual feeble AI responses ("oh you bought a new car - want another?") there is quite often a fundamental mischaracterization of what personalized means. If I'm searching for information about healthcare for my small domesticated rodent pets, I get lots of ads with plenty of poison and knives and information on how to kill them. Plenty of other complete failures that miscontrue entirely what they think I want. Contrary to what their PR flacks spew, it's all very crude and badly designed and completely wrong most of the time. That is, it was aggravating until I blocked all ads of any kind from any source on every site. The whole "we're personalizing ads to make it a better experience" campaign is utter doo-doo. I block them all, the whole sorry lot of them. Websites that play games with ad-blocker blockers are abandoned. There will never be a website so critical to my life that I have to put up with eating turds to read it.

Ah, night shift in the 1970s. Ciggies, hipflasks, ADVENT... and fault-prone disk drives the size of washing machines


PDP-10s were mainframes?

PDP-10s were mainframes? Never saw a DEC computer room that covered an entire NYC block or took up multiple floors of a large mid-town bulding, but saw plenty that were full of 370 and (later) 3033 mainframes. DEC was more like medium metal than big iron. If there are so many disk drives that they recede from view into the distance, that's a mainframe. If you could see everything you got in one room at a glance, you were only eligible for baby mainframe designation in the 70s, maybe. Have to be a big room though.

Smart speaker maker Sonos takes heat for deliberately bricking older kit with 'Trade Up' plan


Plastic blister packs

Giant plastic blister packs for tiny little items exist because of big retailers who fear shoplifting more than the destruction of the earth or the well-being of consumers. They care desperately about their product until such time as they get your money for it, at which point they think stamping a little recycling triangle on their tat absolves them from the consequences of the damage they chose to inflict for their personal financial benefit.

Bad news: KeyWe Smart Lock is easily bypassed and can't be fixed


Manufacturer claims on Amazon that the problem is "resolved"

Someone posted a question to the Amazon listing for this product that asked when it would be taken off the market as being insecure, and the manufacturer (or facsimile thereof) answered that the issue "has since resolved this with the updates done through the mobile app". Well, someone's lying here. Interesting also that Amazon has blocked any reviews of this thing except if you have already purchased it. They don't want the bad news spreading, obviously.

Let's Pope mass upgrade of Vatican Library data centre is blessed with some of that famed infallibility


Press release article, no research done, no real information presented

Reads like a press release from Panduit. Not a lot of real information about the process here other than a bunch of statistics like you would find in a press release.

Good news – America's nuke arsenal to swap eight-inch floppy disks for solid-state drives


Series/1 minicomputer not exactly a behemoth

It's a small minicomputer, maybe the size of a small refrigerator, hardly a behemoth. Not everything IBM was behemoth.

The dread sound of the squeaking caster in the humming data centre


Re: Not Me But...

> And how long did it take to get everything booted up after an orderly shutdown?

A few minutes at most, either to reload a 3705 or even to reboot an MVS or VM system. There were no Terabytes of disks to fsck, there were no Gigabytes of useless libraries to load, and remote data communications paths rarely had bandwidths greater than 9600bps. (You could monitor data trafffic by displaying it on a DataScope and watching it go by.) The size of everything was expressed in K or M. The machines were very slow but everything in the IPL path was hard coded assembler language purpose built to get things running. The mainframe OS and the 3705s were independently restarted as needed.

Also, the 3705 was anything but a "simple beast". It was a computer with a complex OS in its own right, supporting async (aka Start/Stop), bisync (aka BSC, for older 3270 terminals), and NCP for native SNA devices like newer 3270 clusters. Larger shops had multiple person groups of systems programmers who were dedicated to the 3705s (we had about 10 scattered across various data centers). We had very imaginative names for them: I, J, K, etc. Cabling was huge and unwieldy, and duct space was at a premium in many areas.

And yes, the 3705 load button could have been accidentally clunked by an IBM CE documentation cart, but those were big and heavy and rarely moved. Usually the CE would just go get what was needed as it was easier. I do not remember the castors on those carts being crap; if anything they were extra heavy duty like everything else IBM manufactured. More likely was the cart hit a bump in the raised floor tiles and veered off course. I could see that. CEs screwed up just like all of us other humans did.

The biggest uptick in demand for software devs by bosses is for... *rubs eyes* blockchain engineers?!?


Re: tabs not spaces?!

Next thing you know there'll be people proclaiming that they prefer vi over emacs, if you can imagine such a thing. Total insanity. If you're hard core old school, you have (setq-default indent-tabs-mode nil) in your emacs init.el file, putting spaces where spaces belong like a real programmer, and everyone else can go back to bleating about how they preserved 437 precious bytes of disk space by using tabs. You say you wanna use tabs when entering source code but have them converted to spaces when you save? Sure, but if you have to do it that way, your editor already sucks.

Why does that website take forever to load? Clues: Three syllables, starts with a J, rhymes with crock of sh...


Re: Your JS can KMMFA.

Amen to that. I choose what to view on my screen, not hucksters. Advertising does not help me in any way, ever, and it never will no matter how "nice" the slick ones pretend to play. It doesn't improve or enhance my life. From my viewpoint, advertisements are completely and utterly useless, and so I choose to never see them anywhere I have control. It's not my problem to figure out how websites get paid and I don't care - I didn't choose to litter the Internet with ads and I'd be happy without them forever, in any context. Sites that play gatekeeper games either have their flimsy security disabled on the spot or get dumped into /dev/null forever. Internet overlord wannabes: you are never going to be able to show me any ads, ever. If your data slurping site dies without ads, that's just fine with me - adios mother fucker, and take all your useless social media 'jobs' down with you.

Q. What do you call an IT admin for 20-plus young children? A. A teacher


Re: Tell me about it

Yes, this. See New York Times articles:

A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley


"Technologists know how phones really work, and many have decided they don’t want their own children anywhere near them."

Silicon Valley Nannies are Phone Police for Kids


The Digital Gap Between RIch and Poor Kids


"America’s public schools are still promoting devices with screens — even offering digital-only preschools. The rich are banning screens from class altogether."

Sysadmin sank IBM mainframe by going one VM too deep


CP == Hypervisor

In IBM's VM/370, CP is the Control Program, which we now call the Hypervisor. It was responsible for creating and running the various guest operating systems. Since every guest operating system up to that point was definitively not personal in any way (think monster OS/VS1 and bigger monster MVS), the nice folks in IBM Cambridge also developed CMS, the Conversational Monitor System. (It was first called the Cambridge Monitor System but IBM marketing said no sorry). This was an IPL-able (aka bootable) OS that provided a facsimile of a "personal mainframe", which you could use to create and edit files, run some utilities, and interact in a limited way with other CMS users. CMS would not run on a bare metal machine - it required a VM/370 CP environment.

The # character (that would be an EBCDIC # thank you) was the default escape character used to signal that the command should be intercepted by the CP rather than the guest OS. when that became necessary, eg to re-IPL. Another way to escape was to hit the 3270 "PA1" key, which would then normally display a status of "CP READ" allowing direct input of CP commands. Just to muddy things a little more, the CP could receive commands directly from CMS as a courtesy default, meaning the #CP prefix wasn't necessarily always strictly required under CMS.

It was common as dirt to run VM/370 as a guest OS under VM/370. There are likely few VM system programmers from that era who haven't done it just for fun but it also served a real purpose: testing new versions of VM/370, testing new important guest operating systems under new versions of VM/370 and testing local modifications to VM/370 were all useful tools. When running VM under VM (under VM etc), the escape character would be different (it was settable as well). When juggling CPs, one was well advised to keep track of one's place on the perilously teetering stack of operating systems and issue commands to the proper CP using the proper escape character (EBCDIC please). Someone not used to this juggling might reflexively type, eg #CP IPL because that's what motor memory has instilled, but such haste can easily cause the teetering stack to vanish in the click of an ENTER key. Oopsie. Don't do that.

The NYC/northern NJ computing landscape of the late 1970's and early 1980's was littered with IBM mainframe shops running VM/370, MVS, VS1 and DOS/VS. There was more mainframe iron there than anyplace else on the planet, it seemed, and everyone who was anyone in the VM world met up at the MVMUA conferences, usually held at MetLife in Manhattan.

-Grayhaired VM/370 systems programmer



PROFS was XEDIT fancied up with a database to hold documents "centrally", but it was a known resource hog. It was initially seen (by IBM) as suitable for use by clerical level staff. Then it morphed into a do-all monster and imploded in on itself. Not a shining example of software technology from that era.



Agreed on the quality of IBM keyboards. Minor correction: 3270 technology used coax cables. And the CP command is "IPL" (Re-IPL is used as a verb).

And yup, it wouldn't take long to get back into the swing of old friends like EDGAR again (Edit Data Graphically And Recursively!). One little-remembered VM CP command was DIAL which was used in place of LOGON to put the terminal under control of a guest OS (eg ACP, Airline Control Program).

-Grayhaired VM/370 systems programmer

(Systems programmers write code, in BAL, that runs in privileged mode. I'm not a friggin 'admin' and I don't have to login as root. Don't call me admin or I'll delete your A-disk.)


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