* Posts by Medieval Research Council

33 publicly visible posts • joined 25 Mar 2019

Steve Jobs' $4.01 RadioShack check set to fetch small fortune at auction

Medieval Research Council

Re: Why wasn't the check cashed?

I recollect from living in the USA for 6 years, your paper checks were returned to you after processing and payment. So possibly there is a stack of Apple/Jobs checks somewhere.

Techie wasn't being paid, until he taught HR a lesson

Medieval Research Council

Re: Proof if needed

There was a time when our software ran on both Primos and VMS computers. It happened that if a few more days were needed after the promised (by Marketing) deadline for shipping needed to slip we would send VMS tapes to the Primos customers and vice-versa.

Atomic energy body proposes fusion framework to manage British energy grids

Medieval Research Council

Re: Nice

Dounreay PFR had reached reached the end of its design life and IIRC only produced about 250 GW. Not a lot, conventional power stations were be making 660 GW X 4 four boilers+turbines at the time. I worked on the construction of the PFR as an apprentice in 1970. Seeing at first hand the standard of the construction work I was surprised it lasted the 25 years until the planned shutdown.

SpaceX's second attempt at orbital Starship launch ends in fireball

Medieval Research Council

Re: Today's SpaceX Success

"1) Failure is an inevitable part of the engineering process.

2) Engineers learn from their failures, ultimately leading to better designs.

3) It is essential to understand the causes of failure to prevent it in the future.

4) Engineers should not be afraid to fail but learn from their mistakes and use them to improve their designs."

All very true, I have watched several iterations of a small assembly I was designing explode in a shower of small pieces of cast-iron on the test-bench. Sadly in the early 1970s the company did not have a high-speed camera which might have showed which part failed first leading to a cascade of failures. Basic problem (IMO) was a constraint on one component which had to be taken from current production and was not up to job, as I told the Chief Draughtsman every morning as I asked to have the DO's one and only HP calculator from its overnight storage locked in his desk . Left to join an outfit where my view was given decent consideration -- even if we rarely got paid on time.

Arm swans off to Nasdaq despite UK gov pleas to IPO in London

Medieval Research Council

One of the founders of ARM told me today that he has been invited to be on BBC Radio4 news at about 18:15 on Monday 6th March. If the TV side want to interview him perhaps a haircut first....

Space dust reveals Earth-killer asteroids tough to destroy

Medieval Research Council

"Let’s hit Earth with a cubic mile of hot fudge sundae.”

Later research suggests Niven and Pournelle were optimistic about the consequences....

Mouse hiding in cable tray cheesed off its bemused user

Medieval Research Council

Long ago, and in another country, I was due to demonstrate our CAD program running on the newly announced Sun-2 (that's M68000 Sun-2, not Sparcstation 2). Waiting with tie fully up to collar while the journos were given a light presentation and drinks, then another presentation -- and drinks, then... I pulled out the keyboard connector. Sun crashed of course. So then there were a frantic few minutes while I rebooted it , fired up the CAD program and got the demo material back on the screen.

Later I was told I could have "plugged it back in, typed 'C' and the Sun would have recovered".

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

Medieval Research Council

3 Mb Pertec removable packs were (and the one in my kitchen still is) 15". I knew of the rumour that taking them on the Underground would corrupt them but I had no option well before dawn on the day of the

formal announcement & demonstration of version 1.0 of a big new product. This was occasioned by the project leader (and later co-founder of at least 3 companies AtC has worked for...) turning up with a 1/2" tape of the latest version to install on a Pr1me computer that had no tape drive as delivered. I don't recollect the size of the CDC 80 Mb "washing machine" packs but I'm sure they were more than 12".

If you fire someone, don't let them hang around a month to finish code

Medieval Research Council

Re: Gardening leave

"Ah the Cambridge IT Mafia. Back in the day I swear nearly every IT company had at least a few people who had worked with each other at a previous company at some stage."

Absolutely. In 40 years (FSVO) in Cambridge I have only worked where I already knew someone, except the first when I was assigned to a project by an external partner. And I've employed someone I'd worked with before to start work less than 36 hours after his CV landed on my desk.

How to polish the bottom line? Microsoft makes it really hard to claim expenses, say staffers

Medieval Research Council

I had a 600 mile flight and a 2 day drive back to the construction site with a new Land-Rover. Overnight stay cost £1.00 (it was a long time ago...) Claimed £1.00 for it and was told I had to have a receipt. Jumped into the Land-Rover, drove 10 miles to the nearest town and bought a book of receipts and a ball-point. Claim paid.

A few weeks later I was due a long-weekend break with travel paid to get home. So I claimed for the price of a return aeroplane ticket and actually drove to watch some forest stages of the RAC Rally in Scotland. No receipt, claim paid without question.

Never mind the Panic button – there's a key to Compose yourself

Medieval Research Council

Re: Yes! Both!

Try typing in English on a Danish keyboard to a computer that thinks there is a Swedish one there.

Another wrinkle in the fabric of time was a Swedish ISP who tried to be helpful by changing some characters of files emailed from and to UK. The effect on attached keyfiles took days to track down because we always got back what we had sent and eventually we had to arrange to ftp as 'binary'.

Thank you, FAQ chatbot, but if I want your help I'll ask for it

Medieval Research Council

I am sure the CEO's, never, ever test their own system to see if it is customer-friendly.[

I had a company chairman complain about our on-hold music, so he must have listened to it. Miles Davis bebop, noisy club, bootleg. I explained that I had had to put my own CDs in the phone switch and perhaps he could supply me with something he thought more suitable.

Nothing arrived so Miles Davis it remained. Hmmm, did I reclaim that disc when the company fell as the dot.com bubble burst?

Ooh, an update. Let's install it. What could possibly go wro-

Medieval Research Council

Re: Windows NT 4 SP2

But the 1620 did have a fast card reader.

Up to a point Lord,.err, Watson. I took a program I'd written in an attempt to optimise the spread of football pools selections from the 1620 which ran for 25 minutes and produced garbage, to a Prime 300. On that the program ran for 25 seconds and still produced much the same garbage.

Luckily (actually not luck) what we did as our day job on the Prime in 1975 is still in use worldwide today. Our new nuclear power stations are being designed with it.....

.... 1975! We had no idea how long it would be in use, never thought about it.

Medieval Research Council

Re: Windows NT 4 SP2

Remembering GEORGE shows how old you are.

I don't remember GEORGE, only CompSci students could use the 1903. We poor MechEng trash students had to learn Fortran II for the IBM 1620.

Facebook rendered spineless by buggy audit code that missed catastrophic network config error

Medieval Research Council

Re: Some sympathy

"For example, operations staff using the fire exit at night to avoid all the hassle with the front doors."

One place I worked in the 1970s (CADCentre Cambridge) In the early hours it was impossible to find the security guard to be let out because he'd be sleeping in some random place. So standard practice was to go out through a window and simply close it, couldn't secure it of course. When someone wanted to come it in at night they would wander round the outside until they found a office with the lights on and knock on the window. We all recognised each other of course, especially the regular night owls.

Electron-to-joule conversion formulae? Cute. Welcome to the school of hard knocks

Medieval Research Council

Mid 1970s my project leader would bounce his latest graphics programming ideas off me because I was a still a mechanical engineer at the time and wouldn't understand a word. I worked for Dick Newell -- not unknown in computer graphics.

Try placing a pot plant directly above your CRT monitor – it really ties the desk together

Medieval Research Council

Re: We’re talking CRT era here

"Hotel de la Poste" ring any bells -- or the pig farm next door?

The wheels come off Formula 1's notification service as fans plied with attacker's messages

Medieval Research Council

I got this on two devices, both with push notifications off. Expected the first "foo" to be followed by "bar" and then "baz".

Prince Philip, inadvertent father of the Computer Misuse Act, dies aged 99

Medieval Research Council

Re: Wouldn't it be lovely

He was a touch short with my mother when she tried to give him some dog shampoo at the County Show "For the corgis".. His response "I don't /have/ any corgis".

Mother made horse shampoo as well, should have tried that......

A floppy filled with software worth thousands of francs: Techie can't take it, customs won't keep it. What to do?

Medieval Research Council

Customs at JFK airport wanted to charge me per foot of a 2400' tape until I pointed out that it was a used tape not new, and after some searching through their books they couldn't find a rate for used tape and let me take it away. Another time a TV set modified in the UK to pretend to be a colour terminal, which were extraordinarily expensive in 1980, took a long time to get through even with wires hanging out of the back and a British mains plug. As it was in a box that had COLOUR (sic) on every side it was of course stolen the first night it was in the office in New Jersey. Phone call to Stevenage the next day was "Please send another, and a mains transformer too."

I've got the power! Or have I? Uninterruptible Phone-disposal Stuffup

Medieval Research Council

Re: And I love the ones in the UK.

I flew from there every week to Amsterdam and back over one winter. And a couple of days ago a C130 belonging to the Svenska Flygvapnet flew over my head in the way in to Marshalls. Is that international enough?

Lay down your souls to the gods of rock 'n' roll: Conspiracy theorists' 5G 'vaccine' chip schematic is actually for a guitar pedal

Medieval Research Council

Re: Doh!

1982/3. I was working in a city with lots of bookstores, GF was working in a remote suburb so I was instructed to obtain a copy. Gave it a quick look-though before handing it over. My opinion of its accuracy was not well received.

I built a shed once. How hard can a data centre be?

Medieval Research Council

Re: And contrawise

Commer TS3 -- seems to be a sort of mini Deltic. Deltics sound fabulous and I often say they are the only diesel I know that sounds good. Any pointers to recordings of the TS3?

A 1970s magic trick: Take a card, any card, out of the deck and watch the IBM System/370 plunge into a death spiral

Medieval Research Council

I did drop a full box of cards on the Underground once. Good News: I was on the way home after a successful run on the CDC6600 (the actual one now in the Science Museum). Bad News: trying to catch the box I crushed the roll of plotted drawings I had under my arm. Getting plots out of that program was a gamble, mostly losing the bet. Luckily the ante was the responsibility of British Steel, and not questioned back at base!

A decades-old lesson on not inserting Excel where it doesn't belong

Medieval Research Council

Re: Anon because....

When I was our company representative on the "local traffic" tea and bikkies forum I asked HR for a list of the postcodes of all our staff so I could work out the range of journey lengths. No names, no addresses, just the postcodes. What I was given was an xls of the staff records, names, spouse/partner, addresses, number of dependents, etc. Two columns were "blanked out", consisting of just hashmarks, one was salary and I forget the other. Of course when the column is only 4 characters wide and a number greater than 4 digits is in the cell hashes is all you get. Until you format the column to fit the data.

When there was a serious round of redundancies, me included, a few months later I was sorely tempted ...

Fancy some post-weekend reading? How's this for a potboiler: The source code for UK, Australia's coronavirus contact-tracing apps

Medieval Research Council

Re: Apple-Google API

You've clearly not bothered to read any of the articles about this. Whether it's of any use in another matter, but there's no reason the majority of Android device won't have access to it.

At the moment there is, it requires Android 8 or newer. The figures I've found for Android version in actual use that have 8 or higher is around 40%. We have to wait for versions that will work on earlier Androids to get decent access figures. I have prepared an old phone to use with the app (data scrubbed, factory reset, new SIM, new email account) but it's version 5.1 -- too old at the moment.

UK finds itself almost alone with centralized virus contact-tracing app that probably won't work well, asks for your location, may be illegal

Medieval Research Council

Re: It asks for your location?

"The answer to my question may well decide whether or not I use the app."

And throughout the land there was hurried searching for old, but not yet discarded, phones. And the data scrubbing thereof. And the factory resetting and 99p PAYG SIM installing. WiFi select OFF (don't want to connect to home), BT ON, tracker installed. Current phone: WiFi ON, BT OFF.

Have I missed anything? I'm over 70, I do miss things you know.

Medieval Research Council

Re: Covid jail "prank"

Good morning, Citizen.

We have noticed that your postcode is registered as SW1A but most of your live contacts are in TF7 at a location calculated to be Tesco Superstore in Telford.

We have corrected your registration.

Christmas in tatters for Nottinghamshire tots after mayor tells them Santa's too busy

Medieval Research Council

Re: Geez I wonder what's up Squire?

No Pastafarians?

Solipsists seem to be missing too, but maybe that's because they ask the question as well as answering it.

Hi! It looks like you're working on a marketing strategy for a product nowhere near release! Would you like help?

Medieval Research Council

Nor /that/ story, but....

I was our representative on the local traffic discussion group (Cambridge Science Park / Cowley Road estates). Asked Human Remains for a list of postcodes that our people lived at. No names, no addresses needed, just the postcodes. Received a spreadsheet with name, full address, dependents and salary. The salary column was all stars because it was simply too narrow. Click > drag > full disclosure.

A day in the life of London seen through spam and weak Wi-Fi

Medieval Research Council

' " I've experienced stronger throughput on 1200 baud dial-up."

You're as old as me then. '

Not old enough to have demo'd 3D CAD over a 300/110 accoustic coupler then? With prospective customer's switchboard breakning in at intervals to see if the long-distance call was still in progress.

Techies take turns at shut-down top trumps

Medieval Research Council

At PPOE -many

The building power was known to be on the edge of reliability and I wanted all the servers out of my office (!). So while looking at the circuit breakers I found the one labled "Board Room" was too hot to touch. Checked in board room and there was nothing even plugged in. So I pulled the breaker to see what would go out.

All the servers.

Seven hours later I had them back, and a few days later the MD's permission to have the building rewiring I had been requesting for months. And a separate, air-conditioned space for the servers.

She didn't fire me for that but for saying that Linux was the way to go for movie render farms not NT4.0 (yes that long ago).

Medieval Research Council

Re: did anyone ever use these buttons the way they were intended to?

That was after an internal window was broken playing corridor frisbee in the Terrapin. DAMHIKIJKOK