* Posts by AndyMTB

44 publicly visible posts • joined 2 May 2019

Screwdrivers: is there anything they can't do badly? Maybe not


Re: Not screwdrivers but...

After years of replacing parts in desktops and lappies, I can wholeheartedly vouch for the fact that leaving out a few of those very-easy-to-lose screws definitely improves performance. My best result was a new motherboard where I misplaced 2 of the fixing screws but the PC went loads faster as a result.

Work for you? Again? After you lied about the job and stole my stuff? No thanks


No, it was dial-up via a Gandalf modem.

Man who nearly killed physical media returns with $60,000 vinyl turntable


I bet it still jumps...

..when the kids "dance" (bounce up and down) on the lounge's wooden floor.

Yes, I know it should be attached directly to the wall but not all of us live alone.

Security? Working servers? Who needs those when you can have a shiny floor?


Re: Clean keyboards

My grown-up daughter has a dual-screen desktop for "serious" work which she can't do on her everyday laptop. I've upgraded the innards a number of times, it's running linux and suits her just fine. However, she insists that she just loves the very old keyboard, which works great except that half the letters have worn off. Doesn't seem to matter to her but drives me crazy when I'm called upon to upgrade etc. I'm sure I never usually look at the keyboard but I must somehow be aware of where my fingers are. Peripheral vision? (sorry!). Anyway, now turn up armed with my own keyboard.

Duelling techies debugged printer by testing the strength of electric shocks


Re: Obvious reply ...

Yep, 2:30

What's up with IT, Doc? Rabbit hole reveals cause of outage


Bunny Bug

My sister was persuaded to look after her son and partner's "house rabbit" for a week. It arrived in a hutch which was situated in the dining room, but my sister used to let it out for a run around a couple of times each day. During one free-time, she had to take a phone call and when she finally rang off, said rabbit was nowhere to be found. After a hour or so's panicky searching, Flopsy (not his real name, he asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons) finally appeared from behind a lounge chair. Not just any old lounge chair, but my brother-in-law's top of the range electric recliner, carefully lined up for the perfect Sky Sports viewing angle.

So, rabbit is re-boxed, and all is quiet until 8pm when Dave's team was playing, it was discovered that the chair was inoperable. Changes of fuses etc were to no avail. After a few days the "chair engineer" turns up and the problem is quickly diagnosed. "Bad news for you I'm afraid" he says - "You've got a rat somewhere!".

Engineer agrees to comment on the worksheet "degraded wiring" and my brother-in-law is still none the wiser. And there's no chance he will read this journal!

This can’t be a real bomb threat: You've called a modem, not a phone


Re: We protect our own

Not Troubles related, just an ordinary visit to a RAF base to sort out a database. The Unix guy was there already and had asked me to bring along some server hardware bits and bobs - a large box containing stuff I had no idea about. The car in front of me at the gate stopped, a rather well built military type got out and stood tight-lipped while a couple of guards proceeded to empty his car and question him about the contents. I particularly remember a full set of golf clubs being tipped out onto the floor.

My turn came, thinking to myself "I may be in a spot of bother here...". I start to get out, guard waves me back in the car, examines my pass through the open window and checks I know where I'm going. "Is that it?" asks I. "Oh sure, that chap in front gave our mate a hard time on the parade ground last week. He's a stickler for doing things by the book".

You reap what you sow.

IBM ends funding for employee retirement clubs


Re: Warning: Old-Git Post

Is the still functioning golf course the one that uses a certain military machine's front-ends as stand-up rain shelters on a number of holes?

Seriously, you do not want to make that cable your earth


Re: What On "Earth"?

Talking about twisted-pairs and wiring - I asked on our local freecycle site if anyone was getting rid of an old lawnmower/raker. I just wanted a pair of handles. Was invited to pick up a defunct mower which had the appropriate handles, it looked quite new (and was a good quality machine). When I got it home I noticed the cable had obviously been run over, and was patched up with coloured insulating tape. Surely that couldn't be the reason it wasn't working? Unravelled the sticky tape to inspect the join and found....let hand side of cable, blue and brown wound together, the same on the rhs, then both twisted ends wrapped together and securely taped. Had to wonder how many fuses/circuit breaker re-sets he'd gone through before abandoning the fix!

Anyone want a fairly new electric lawnmower (no handles)?

In the '80s, spaceflight sim Elite was nothing short of magic. The annotated source code shows how it was done


Re: Hang on...

I had a TI-99 computer, onto which I tried to code a finite element stress engineering program. I soon ran out of memory, but then had the idea to use the full-colour graphics processor. By coding an integer into a character and shoving it onto the screen, I could then revisit the cell and work out the number eg red-upper-C = 78. Ran like a dog of course but very interesting seeing the graphical representation of a matrix being solved on the screen as the program worked its way down the diagonal.

Orders wrong, resellers receiving wrong items? Must be a programming error and certainly not a rushing techie


Re: Dropped cards

Same here, massive decks for aircraft finite element models. Our main computers were the other side of of the city, a particularly large set of cards slid out of the van on a roundabout in the city centre.

Incidentally, we used a home-made FE program running on an ICL 1906A. The full analysis run could take days - or rather, several nights in batch. The Fortran code was converted to run on a new Vax,taking just a few hours. Probably run in minutes on the lowest spec PC you can find these days.

Amazon textbook rental service scammed for $1.5m


Re: In law

They're certainly throwing the book at him.

Microsoft shows off Office 2021 for consumers ahead of the coming of Windows 11



I'd heard that the launch was being delayed in the UK due to specific hardware interface problems, missing drivers apparently. They don't want the launch to tank.

Fix five days of server failure with this one weird trick


Re: Power supply on the floor?

Was there something about single-ended and double-ended terminators? I wasn't really a sysadmin but was involved in a large (at the time) migration of an Oracle db from old raid-5 disks to new super-dooper smart raid arrays on a "massive" HP T500. We had a whole night to do it but the new raid arrays wouldn't connect. Finally fixed the problem just before the takeaway closed, so we could enjoy our Chinese while the DAT tape slowly restored the database.

Hmmmmm, how to cool that overheating CPU, if only there was a solution...


Re: The first/only water cooled ICT 1301?

George! I loved George (V3 I recall was the one I cut my teeth on). And those temporary files "!" whose name incremented each time you created a new one - ! became !1 then !2 if you created 2 more temp files, so you had to be on your toes to keep track of them. Were the command files called macros? We had the use of an ICL 1904S the other side of the city, a PDP 11/70 on-site and then, wonderfully, a VAX 750 which of course blew the socks of everyhting with it's unlimited virtual memory, all 500Mb of it.

Ouch! When the IT equipment is sound, but the setup is hole-y inappropriate


Re: "tales about all manner of things being inserted into all manner of orifices"

Yes, they were indeed Treats, and that was the ad. Made by Mars but no longer available, at least not here in the UK


Re: "tales about all manner of things being inserted into all manner of orifices"

Similarly for me - peanut stuck in ear. My mum warmed up a spoonful of chocolate, poured it into the guilty orifice and once it was set gave me a sharp slap on the other side of my head. Came out a treat.

Terminal trickery, or how to improve a novel immeasurably


Re: Black magic

Ahh yes, generation numbers mycode.for;34 What anguish when I moved to Unix, before I got into the habit of saving the original file with a datestamp, at least until I discovered sccs.

Apple's latest macOS Big Sur update stops cheapo USB-C hubs bricking your machine


I wonder if it's to do with thermal monitoring. Do the Apple chargers slightly under-power compared to spec, so a true-to-spec 3rd party charger needs to be watched?

Wine pops cork on version 6.0 of the Windows compatibility layer for *nix systems


Re: Not always a game, though

I've managed to get my Edge 705 (a usb device) and an old car GPS unit to connect to Garmin Express running Wine, via this link https://christitus.com/garmin-express-linux/.

Runs very slow, you may think it's not working but look at "top" to reassure yourself it's winding up. Once displayed it runs ok. I only use it for software or map updates, I upload rides directly into Connect via the "upload" option.

React team observes that running everything on the client can be costly, aims to fix it with Server Components


Re: Lightning fast javascript?

So the entire page would be sent as X-directives...? Think of the advertising revenues, blockers and pi-holes wouldn't have a chance!

Pizza and beer night out the window, hours trying to sort issue, then a fresh pair of eyes says 'See, the problem is...'


First thing I used to do when faced with a config issue was scan the file system for files modified in the last few days. Easy-peasy in unix, probably not feasible with Windaz registry, thankfully never was called to do anything serious on a click-click-drag o/s.

'We've heard the feedback...' Microsoft 365 axes per-user productivity monitoring after privacy backlash


Re: The LOC Metric

A long time ago, our department (primarily programmers) was subjected to a "number of lines of code per week" metric. Cue one of my colleagues unwrapping his code - DO I=1,20 became 20 pasted copies.

Who knew that hosing a table with copious amounts of cubic metres would trip adult filters?


Re: Inside joke?

When PCs were first being rolled out in the Aerospace factory I worked at, slowly replacing DEC's All-in-One offering on a Vax cluster, they had a tedious habit of locking-up/not booting/disconnecting from the network (Pathworks over Decnet - there goes all the old 386 protected(?) ram. One bright spark I workd with suggested a Fast Action Response Team to dash around the facory to sort things out. He would have got away with it too, until he suggested we leave calling cards in case the user was away at lunch -"You've been FARTed". You know who you are, Frank!

Master boot vinyl record: It just gives DOS on my IBM PC a warmer, more authentic tone


Wasn't there a little optical reader gadget mounted on a sucker that you placed on the top RHS of the tv screen? Source code would was broadcast like a changing bar-code and downloaded to your BBC while you watched the program.

It's always DNS, especially when a sysadmin makes a hash of their semicolons


I still (at home -I'm retired) copy config files to a .YYYY-MM-DD extension version before making any changes. Used to be standard practice on Oracle control files, hosts files, *.ini,*.config etc

Dell online store charges 16 million dollars for new laptop with paint job


Re: Some would say


The Two Ronnies, any excuse to re-watch!

And how do I make links clickable?

Microsoft drives users to the Edge: Internet Explorer to redirect to Chromium-based browser in November


Upvoted for pi-hole! Reminded me to check on the status of mine - uptime 134 days. Amazing how much faster sites run when you don't even have to fetch the ads!

Proposed US fix for Boeing 737 Max software woes does not address Ethiopian crash scenario, UK pilot union warns


Re: Why

Ahh, you answered my question! You watched those old films too?


Re: Why

Couldn't they fit one of those knobs onto the wheel, like you used to see cool dudes using in their cars on old American PI films? Those guys used to whip the steering wheel round in a frenzy when they were chasing the baddies.Were they called "dead man's hands" or am i getting mixed up with the kill-switch on trains?

We don't need maintenance this often, surely? Pull it. Oh dear, the system's down


Similar tale with an application written against an Oracle db. This software near enough ran a chemical plant, I inherited the db when the client switched to us for maintenance. Performance was always slow, and got dramatically worse with a new, major, all-singing all-dancing upgrade - even though a couple of new app servers were added and the db server was improved . So one weekend I left trace on, carted the couple of Gb of log files onto a spare server and ran tkprof to sort the sql. I thought I'd get maybe 20 or 30 high-usage statements that accounted for the bulk of the resource consumption, that could perhaps be addressed with indexes etc. No, there were thousands of single-use statements - it transpired that hardly any statements were re-usable, so the db was having to parse and optimize every single query. They'd used loads of dynamic sql, forming up the statements to include eg "part_no='A1234dd5". Turned out that bind variables were an unknown to the newly-recruited sql "expert". Took them about a month to re-jig the most widely-used bits of code, and performance became satisfactory (it never became fast, I always said it was because we running on windaz). The software vendor had the good grace to send thanks, and intimated that other customers were grateful too.

Why cloud costs get out of control: Too much lift and shift, and pricing that is 'screwy and broken'


Re: Cloud is a Rolls Royce

Morris Marina. I loved mine, my first car passed on from my father when he upgraded to an Austin Maxi.

You *bang* will never *smash* humiliate me *whack* in front of *clang* the teen computer whizz *crunch* EVER AGAIN


Re: With great power comes great incompatibility

Must admit I too have been "busy" googling Walsall, the plugs and switches they made took me back to my childhood growing up in Willenhall - our house was fitted exclusively with Crabtree products. I'm guessing I must have had an uncle who worked there. I definitely had an uncle who worked at Yale as a master locksmith. Even as a kid I could get back into the house without a key by applying what Uncle Les had taught me!

Finally, a wafer-thin server... Only a tiny little thin one. Oh all right. Just the one...


Zombie Hand

Pre-dating the days of IT (well, OK there were a few BBC 1st gens knocking around) when I were just a lad earning some extra pocket money working weekends and holidays at the local car-wash (yes, it was called "Jeeves"). Me and my mate were considered trusty enough to open-up, cash-up and even drop the takings off at the bank when the manager was away. The start of the day involved powering up the whole plant, separate relays for brushes, rollers, heaters etc, and a certain order these switches had to be turned on/plugged in. Bit of a faff running back and forth, so Pete and I had worked out a system where he did one end and me the other, suitably timed so that the power-up sequence was maintained via synchronized yells. Worked really quickly and efficiently, until the day we managed to get out of step. I plugged in the last connector but unfortunately it was already live at this point, resulting in a big, black smoke-filled bang. Needless to say I jumped back a socially-distanced 6 feet from the billowing socket, but with a charred and completely crusty-black hand.

"This is going to hurt soon" thinks I, as Pete comes scampering along to investigate the loud noise. He goes a bit weak-kneed and has to sit down when he spies my hand, which surprisingly was still attached to my arm and hadn't started to register on the pain threshold yet. I tried to flex a finger, and the skin cracked along the joint. I say "skin", but it became obvious that my hand wasn't completely barbecued, it was merely covered in a thick layer of carbon that had spouted out of the electrical socket. A few dabs with another finger to confirm this theory, then a swish under the tap confirmed that everything was indeed still in working order.

And the surprising thing was, after we'd re-set the master relays and re-powered up it all worked, even the exploding plug. Lessons learnt - until Pete and I had a go at fixing the VI form vending machine, but that's another story.

If Daddy doesn't want me to touch the buttons, why did they make them so colourful?


Re: z-fold?

We always called it pyjama paper.

Linus Torvalds drops Intel and adopts 32-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper on personal PC


Re: New PC

Yes, my own desktop feels a bit like Trigger's broom. New everything (a few times over) apart from the case and the ethernet cable. At least I'm a whizz at getting it open these days.

Well, that's something boffins haven't seen before: A strange alien streaks around Jupiter


Re: Who said they came from Mars....

Did anyone else tape up a torch so as to shine Mysteron-doughnuts across the walls?

Das reboot: That's the only thing to do when the screenshot, er, freezes


Re: Funny that

Or setting someone's VMS prompt to "Help ?" and seeing how long they persevere trying to get out of "Help".

Windows Terminal hits the big 1.0: Fit for production?


What you need is that Ubuntu thinggie - type "photo" and it suggests "shotwell" etc

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


Re: The fix was $600 line drivers.

A friend of mine went to a fancy-dress party as Gandalf - he "painted" (think it was lipstick) his eyelids and walked around blinking a lot,

BOFH: What's the Gnasher? Why, it's our heavy-duty macerator sewage pump


OS/2 !! - remember the tag-line "a better Windows than Windows". If only we'd have believed them....

What a meth: Elderly Melbourne couple sign for 20kg shipment of drugs, say cops


Re: Not them...

That's even worse! An old totally unsuspecting couple getting caught up in all of this. Does the old dentist's drill treatment work on dentures?


Somewhat irresponsible of El Reg to publish a full colour picture of the old dears, don't you think?