* Posts by ITMA

34 posts • joined 18 Aug 2019

Here's what Europeans are buying amid the COVID-19 lockdown – aside from heaps of pasta and toilet paper


Re: Webcams?

It's easier to get bog roll - and that's saying something....

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


Re: Paris...

At least you could read what was on the keys!

I once worked for an outfit in the UK in the time before smoking in the workplace was effectively made illegal.

We had a combination of machines running DOS, Windows 3.1 and a Dec MicroVAX with serial terminals running the main finance stuff. One senior person in the accounts department was a chain smoker. The keyboards were the usual light brey/beige - except this persons. Dark brown!

They had started life as the usual colours - no prizes for guessing where the dark brown sticky stains came from. Anytime I had to look at a problem on that persons kit I wore nitrile gloves - which stuck! Should have had a full hazmat suit.

Microsoft goes into Windows lockdown for builds from May, citing 'public health situation' (yes, the coronavirus spread)


Re: Devistating

"In this time of crisis I need the daily distraction of evolving features..."

This is Windows 10 we're talking about - you mean DEvolving features, surely?

Rounds of stupid crap features nobody asked for, nobody wants, and the vast majority of posts after they have been pushed out are usually "how do I turn the bloody thing off?"

It's Baaaaaack (or is it?): Microsoft Teams suffers a Tuesday totter


I wish they'd stop forcing it to auto-start with Windows (just like Skype) and requiring you to login to the stupid thing to stop it (just like Skype)!

Windows 7 goes dual screen to shriek at passersby: Please, just upgrade me or let me die


You are joking - aren't you?

"Windows 7 is like that arthritic old cat who lives with an elderly relation. It smells a bit, is a pain to look after and demands near constant attention – and will frequently leave a dirty protest if it doesn't get it. But your great aunt loves it."

What utter bollox!

If Windows 7 is "Your great aunt's cat", then Windows 10 is that stroppy teenager Kevin (of Kevin and Perry) right down to not doing as it is told and refusing wake up - took bloody months to find that to get WOL working again, I to had disable all sleep modes settings AND turn "fast start" OFF. No such hassle with Windows 7 on the very same machines.

"Microsoft has spent the last year begging Windows 7 users to move to a better place."

Prey do tell! Where is this "Shangri La"?

Microsoft clearly hasn't learnt from past mistakes - Windows 8. If users are still reluctant 4.5 years after 10 was released, surely that should be telling them something? Offer users a truly "better place" and begging them to go there is the last thing you will be doing. More like having to get out the way before they are trampled in the ensuing stampede.

AI 'more profound than fire', Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai tells rich folks' talking shop



In fact for the most up to date breakdown (it fluctuates):


For October 2019 out of about 825 TWh "combustibles" - burning stuff (coal, gas and others) - accounts for 484 TWh. That works out at almost 59%.

I think I would rather go be the IEA's figures that what the app on your phone says.



But that is assuming of course that your "electricity generation" is typical of the whole planet.

This source says somewhat different:


"World electricity generation by source in 2017. Total generation was 26 TWh."

Coal (38%)

Natural Gas (23%)

Hydro (16%)

Nuclear (10%)

Wind (4%)

Oil (3%)

Solar (2%)

Biofuels (2%)

Other (2%)

Given that in their figures coal accounts for the majority (38%) I seriously doubt that between 2017 and now it has dropped by that much (down to just 4%).


"AI is one of the most profound things we are working on as humanity, it is more profound than fire or electricity or any of the other bigger things we have worked on"

Well considering AI requires electricity to work, and most electricity is (still) generated by fire (burning gas/coal/oil) I think not.

Also we can have both fire and electricity quite independent of each other (if we want) all without the aid of AI.

Most "alternative" ways of generating electricity depend upon material which need fire in their production. So given that AI can't exist without fire AND electricity, NO... It's not more profound...

Load of Big Green for Microsoft: Lloyds Banking Group inks company-wide Managed Desktop deal


Re: Office 365

"As elReg have extensively documented, 'Office 360' might be a more truthful name in any year."

But IBM might have (may be they did) get upset due to similarities of the name to their IBM S/360 and OS/360.

German taxpayers faced with €800k Windows 7 support bill due to Deutschland dithering


Re: migration to Linux

When RBS bought NatWest much of NatWest was on NT4 Workstation.

They made a great song and dance about "world's biggest IT migration project successfully delivered on time blah blah blah". Except they were only talking about the core banking systems (largely mainframe based). Much of the back and front office stuff was still NT4 Workstation.

One particular part of the "NatWest" family included in the purchase was Coutts Bank (and Coutts Group IT). There were at least three projects just to get Coutts off NT4 and onto XP. Project Monument, Monument 2 (the return) and Monument 3 (deja vu).

Why three? Well because Monumnent 1 was a monumental screw up. Completely underestimated the scale of the task - and that was just one part of NatWest.

So yeah, it's a LOT more complicated and involved than user training..


I agree! What's wrong with the occasional, and possibly more "real world" FFS! LOL


Re: Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper

"the OS is just a tool to that end, one of many, and not an exclusive choice either. It's part of the toolkit."

Here here!

Unfortunately I think the "fanboys" of all OS available tend, in their "enthusiasm", to forget one fundamental and immutable truth - most PCs are tools used to run businesses and provide public services.

Customers of those businesses, and users of those public services, don't give a monkeys about what OS or apps are used to do it.

Neither do those running those businesses and services. They don't care if they use Windows, Mac OS, Linux, DOS or cream cheese with day-glow green poker dots. As long as it does what they need in a reliable and cost effective manner.

An FD I used to report to put this very succinctly - "It's a tin box. If it breaks or doesn't do what I need, I'll get a new/different tin box".

Intel end-of-lifing BIOS and driver downloads for dusty hardware


Re: Had it with HP

Oh I don't know - I've came across a couple even worse.

Though trying to find the drivers for an HP which happened to have been bought originally in Portugal, then outfitted with a UK keyboard, was an experience. According to HP's website that model didn't nor had it ever existed - until I looked at HP Brazil's website!!!!

For that reason I will not buy HP PCs - ever!

ASUS is another. As soon as they discontinue a product, i.e. stop selling it, it's like they try and erase it from history. I've had that with another laptop (not mine TF!), so that's another manufacturer who's PCs I won't go near with a galactic length barge pole.

Listen up manufacturers - this sort of attempt at rewriting history does NOT encourage us (well me) to buy your new kit. It just ensures I will NEVER buy your kit.

Flying taxis? That'll be AFTER you've launched light sabres and anti-gravity skateboards


Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

I grant you that WELL DESIGNED and PROPERLY TIMED traffic lights can help in the vicinity of roundabouts where the traffic is uneven.

The problem is when traffic lights are placed directly on the entrance to a roundabout. Having any traffic control light on the entrance to a roundabout which can show green automatically means that you MUST have another traffic light ON the roundabout just before the entrance which shows red - and that's the problem.

Traffic lights ON the roundabout itself basically cause the roundabout in many cases to seize up as they bring the flow of traffic around the roundabout to a halt. The tailbacks from those lights then can (and frequently does on the M25 J28 and J30 and in Chelmsford on the Army & Navy roundabout) block both entrances to (showing green) and exits from the roundabout just exacerbating the problem.

Perhaps what is needed is to have traffic lights on the approaches to roundabouts where possible set back from the actual entrances. Traffic that passes the lights then still has to obey the basic rules of joining the roundabout. You can still control the flow of traffic approaching the roundabout to join but removes the need to have traffic lights ON the roundabout itself.

The alternative is to introduce a new rule for a new style of traffic light (in the UK) which does NOT show green. It can show red to stop traffic, but when not showing red traffic has to obey the normal rules of joining a roundabout eliminating the need to have traffic lights around the roundabout showing red stopping the flow around the roundabout itself.


Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

"Congestion in cities is caused because the road network is largely 2D, with crossroads"

Or as we have in the UK, roundabouts - until some idiot decided they needed traffic lights around them. Then they stopped working properly....


" Death is even less undo-able."

Are we talking the Blue Screen or Black Screen variants of Death? :)

Microsoft picks a side, aims to make the business 'carbon-negative' by 2030


Re: Because Windows 10 insists on powering down the NIC hardware

Finally! Found what Microsoft have done!


"Fast Start Up".... Hmmm.. Well done Microsoft! Another thing which wasn't broken so you "fix" it anyway and break something else.

Will someone from Microsoft please explain WHY you have to disable Fast Start Up to stop Windows totally powering down the NIC and breaking WOL? That is really sensible NOT....

And Microsoft wonder why Windows 10 has been something of a "hard sell".


Re: Easy

Perhaps you should leave such things as running and maintaining entire networks of PCs to us adults then...

Meanwhile perhaps you could explain to my users how they are meant to do their jobs (and our company meant to function) when the horrendously expensive CAD and optical modelling software they need is for the most part NOT available for Linux.

No, Linux just isn't a workable solution for many. The OS is just a tool to run applications. No point in having any particular OS if the apps you need don't run on it.


Re: Because Windows 10 insists on powering down the NIC hardware

Oh they do know.

I just don't think they care. Neither do Dell or Intel whose NICs, such as the 82579LM used in many slightly older Dell (Optiplex) PCs. They'd much rather sell you a new PC.

Frankly selling the idea of fitting cheap PCIe NICs (upon which WOL works under Windows 10) to every machine is a far, far easy sell to my FD than new PCs. It's a no-brainer of (for us) between several hundred pounds or several tens of thousands of pounds

And allows saving costs on both energy and downtime for maintenance by keeping that maintenance to outside of business hours.

I have two Optiplex 790's which I use at home (I'm writing this on one) on both of which WOL worked perfectly under Windows 7. Now that they are on Windows 10 Pro 1909, whatever BIOS settings and power management settings in Windows are used, as soon as I shut them down the NIC goes dead. No power, hence no WOL.

The same is true of several Optiplex 7010s on the estate I manage for work which have been upgraded. Shut them down and most of the time - but not always which is a bit weird - the NIC is shutdown and again no WOL.

I even have an ancient Dell Precision 470 (dual CPU) at home which also run Windows 10 Pro perfectly well. The ONLY problem it has under Windows 10 is WOL. Even then, very occasionally it will wake up. The rest of the time, the NIC has been powered down by Windows - no link or activity lights and no WOL.


Re: Easy

Items 3 and 4 can to an extent be mitigated by Microsoft simply fixing the WOL bug affecting many slightly older machines which have Intel or Realtek NICs (Dell Optiplex 790 and 7010 for instance).

WOL worked perfectly on these machines under Windows 7 and they are perfectly capable of and do run Windows 10 fine. Except Microsoft wants us to throw them all out and buy new hardware, or have to resort to leaving them on 24/7 so that out of hours maintenance tasks can be performed.

Simply because Microsoft don't want to fix the problem with WOL which would allow admins to do what they have done for a long time - remotely wake up machines, do the out of hours maintenance and shut them down again.

This also has security implications since not being able to wake up these machines limits one's ability to quickly deploy critical security patches out of hours and at weekends.

For many SMEs, explaining to the FD (financial director) that you have to throw out 50+ (or 500+) otherwise perfectly good PCs (which run Windows 10 fine) simply because Microsoft says you have to, goes down like the proverbial lead balloon.


Re: Given that Windows 10 will run on the same spec PC as windows 7, why would you chuck it out?

Hammered home by not fixing blatant bugs in things such as WOL which worked perfectly on slightly older, but none the less amply capable hardware, under Windows 7 but mysteriously doesn't work under Windows 10. Because Windows 10 insists on powering down the NIC hardware even though it is told not to.

Making said older, but perfectly serviceable hardware much harder to manage in enterprise (and also SME) environments.

Could this be because it and its cohorts in the PC hardware industry would much, much rather you scrapped all those perfectly good machines and bought new ones.

Microsoft waving its "ECO Friendly" credentials? B***S**T!#

Fix WOL and you might have a chance of being taken seriously.

EU declares it'll Make USB-C Great Again™. You hear that, Apple?


So it's rather like using significant amounts of processing power, all the minerals etc necessary to make the electronics, the data communication infrastructure to send the data back and forwards between client device the system the does the donkey work of voice recognition - all so a lazy so and so can sit on their backside and not be bothered to get up to operate a light switch.

Blackout Bug: Boeing 737 cockpit screens go blank if pilots land on specific runways


Re: Lifestyle change

As the old rule says:

"Take off is optional. Landing is mandatory - even if it requires lithobraking."

The problem with some airports is that it now can cost more in car parking charges for 15 minutes to drop someone off (the "express drop off" zone at London Stansted - not in even IN London) than the person you're dropping off may have paid for their return flight.

A user's magnetic charm makes for a special call-out for our hapless hero


Re: Erasing hard-drives...

Many 2.5" laptop drives are far more fun since they use coated glass platters.

One swift blow with a hammer - especially one of those plastic "dead blow" ones that come certain brands of steel racking - and you have an instant hi-tech maraca LOL.

They just shatter....


Not just that.

Apart from the fact at the time CRT monitors still ruled the roost, hard drives had cases moulded out of solid (thick) aluminium with an aluminium lid - and aluminium does strange things to magnetic fields that try to go through it (I've used neodymium iron boron magnets for damping oscillations in a thin aluminium pendulum).

Also virtual all high speed drives use(d) "voice coil" head actuators to sweep the r/w heads across the surface of the platters. If open one of these drives - as I did on a dead Seagate Hawk 3.5" 1GB (yes 1GB!) SCSI hard drive - inside just to one side of the platters, where the "voice coil" end of the head assembly are a pair of neodymium iron boron magnets (still the most powerful permanent magnets available). And that is INSIDE the drive - albeit with the field not going directly through the platters.


Re: Hmmmm

When I first encountered Neodimium Iron Boron magnets (still the most powerful permanent magnets available) back in the late 80's, a sales rep brought two big (0.5" x 2" x 4") ones as a demo.

They could sure screw up the display on a colour monitor (I tried it on a 15" CUB RGB monitor, plastic case not metal) but still couldn't defect the electron beams anything like enough to do that.

We used much smaller ones for damping oscillations in a pendulum made of thin sheet aluminium.

So no, not starter.


Re: Hmmmm

Yes he did as the reported problem, and the problem observed was :

"It powered on, showed sync, but no video at all."

Nothing what so ever on the CRT. No flicker of anything, until:

"As a last resort," said Max, "I hit the manual degauss button and was rewarded with colours, strange colours in a bizarre pattern."

Using the built-in degaussing coil on colour CRT monitors does NOT cause the picture to stabilise - it does the opposite. For the few seconds it operates the alternating magnetic field generated from the degaussing coil disrupts the fields from the scan coils causing short, gross picture instability.

What it certainly does not do it cause a non-existent picture to come back - unless there is genuine PSU fault in both monitors that for some mysterious reason does not occur when tested elsewhere.

Only when the picture does "magically" appear does it then reveal the presence of a strong permanent magnet via the usual expected symptoms. However, then finger of suspicion for the everything, including the reported problem of "no picture", is quite firmly pointed at the magnet. Which is complete rubbish.



A nice story... Shame it gives every indication of completely made up. I think the appropriate technical term would be "utter bollocks".

Even a pretty huge rare earth magnet could not in any conceivable way produce a "fault" of no display on a CRT monitor which can then be "magically" fixed by using the degauss button.

Image distortion and really stranger colour patches over the face of the screen, yes. No display all - no.

How do I know this?

Well apart from growing up in a house where my father was a "TV engineer/Video" engineer - back when they came and repaired your CRT in your living room, so I've had my head in the back of CRT based TV since I could walk - one of my previous jobs has been in the UK technical support department of NEC (Uk) Peripherals at their UK HQ supporting their Multisync (CRT) range.

The Guardian's IT columnist, Jack Schofield, fell foul of "talking bollocks" when writing in his column about some new Sony Trinitron monitor and how it was brilliant because it had this "unique" Sony feature called an "aperture grill" that no other colour CRT monitor has.

Erm, no Jack. They all have them, and the generic name is "shadow mask". In fact colour CRT monitors cannot work without them. The only thing unique to Sony is the the specific layout and shape of the holes.

I did get a grudging, curt response some weeks later in his column when I wrote in to point this out.

Jet2 hacker who deleted every account on UK company's domain cops 5 months in jail


Re: ... with a history like that

The problem with point 1 - "don't do drugs" - is it leads you into that "can of worms" debate about "recreational drugs", what is and isn't?

It's a via biased "moral" question when alcohol and nicotine are almost always excluded when, if fact, they ARE both recreational drugs.

Why is the printer spouting nonsense... and who on earth tried to wire this plug?


Re: Not on the wall socket

A couple of years back we had to get a Fixed Wiring Testing Certificate for our main building for insurance purposes - first we'd ever had to do.

Not unexpectedly if through up a few "horrors from the past" which needed rectifying. However, NONE of them matched what our "jobbing electrician" pointed out after it had been done by some other mob of so-called "qualified" electricians:

In the main "electrical room" where the main building DB is, the incoming TPN goes through a three pole fused isolator (big cartridge fuses each of 100A) upon which the inspecting electricians had put a nice "PASSED" sticker on complete with signature and date.

Our regular jobbing sparky pointed to the big 32mm hole in the side and shook his head.... "How the f*** can that have passed?" then put a blanking plug in it.

The same mob had not long before done PAT testing of everything in the building. Needless to say when they get calling for retesting the following year they didn't have their calls returned.

And what it is about PAT testers where they seem hell bent on putting their "TESTED PASSED" stickers over the part of PSUs (laptop, plugin etc) which gives the specifications? PITA that is.


Re: The user replied: "The same electrician who changed that plug rewired my house last week!"

I know a place with several physics PhDs who do this all the time. Meanwhile, into these "daisy chains" of extension blocks they have plugged multiple "plug top" SMTP mains adaptors. I don't think despite their "brains the size of planets" they have any concept of SMTP "in-rush currents"... Hmmmm

Also, I'll often see them set up some bit of kit in one corner of several special "tables" (I won't say what type as that gives too much away). No particular reason WHY that corner, that's just where they have decided to put it. Usually as far as possible from the nearest power outlets or any associated equipment (PCs etc) which may need to be connected.

Their solution? Move their equipment? Oh no.... NOTHING as sensible as that. Just stretch every cable to the maximum. Mains cable, USB, network, doesn't matter - "they" think they are all "stretchy"...

And yes these people REALLY DO have PhDs in physics..

And then there were two: HMS Prince of Wales joins Royal Navy


Re: History repeats itself

Rodney and Nelson (Nelson class launched 1925) both had 16" guns - three turrets each mounting three 16" guns. Albeit in a rather "odd" arrangement for the time.

Firing broadsides from such armaments did, however, have a tendency to cause appreciable damage to the firing vessel, particularly at low elevations.


Re: Bloody Shambles

Lack of aircraft was not always the issue.

Malta, for instance, had aircraft to provide air cover, just almost no fuel to fly them. Until the somewhat daring dash (some would say running battle) by the SS Ohio (the fastest tanker the Allies could lay their hands on) to resupply them (Operation Pedestal).

It made it - just.


Security? We've heard of it! But why be a party pooper when there's printing to be done


Security? Phhaa

I work for a (small) organisation where I was asked by "The Board" to implement auto screen locking on all machines - a very sensible approach which the ENTIRE WORLD uses.

There was one employee who just didn't like it. Acted like a total spoilt brat to find ways around it. And the support I received from those who asked me to implement it? Jelly for spines and absolutely no balls. They couldn't even see what the problem was when the same user, having exhausted all possible ways he'd thought of to get around it (is nudging your mouse every few mins to stop your PC locking SO F****** hard????? Apparently so for this PhD), decided he was no longer going to use his work his PC and started bringing in his personal laptop instead.

The moral for management - don't ask me to implement security on the company's network unless you're prepared to grow a pair of effing balls and put them where you effing mouth is....


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