* Posts by Arbuthnot the Magnificent

50 posts • joined 3 Dec 2019

BOFH: You'll find there's a company asset tag right here, underneath the monstrously heavy arcade machine

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Re: Personal heaters

I work in an office in a wooden superstructure built onto the roof of a university, christened the "shanty town" by the staff. Like a sauna half the year, ice house the other half. Every office has a cooling fan and heater, both strictly forbidden.

Start or Please Stop? Power users mourn features lost in Windows 11 'simplification'

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Re: I don't use Windows much..

Yep, that's probably why I love xfce so much!

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

I don't use Windows much..

These days I only boot into Windows when I absolutely have to (i.e. Wine lets me down), but when I do, do you know what I want? XP. I don't care what is going on under the bonnet, just make it look and work like XP and I'll be happy enough.

For a true display of wealth, dab printer ink behind your ears instead of Chanel No. 5

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Balls to inkjets

I'll stick with the LaserJet 2100 I pulled out of a skip 10 years ago, thanks (although the DeskJet 840 I had before that was built like a tank).

ASUS baffles customer by telling them thermal pad thickness is proprietary

Arbuthnot the Magnificent


Just been through this with an old Compaq laptop I refurbished as a spare. CPU was easy to deal with but the GPU pad was dust and could I hell find out what size it should be, so just figured out the width and bashed some copper shim in there with paste both sides.

Philanthropist and ex-Microsoft manager Melinda Gates and her husband Bill split after 27 years of marriage

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

I'd be the last one to thank Gates for the atrocities he's perpetrated on the world of computing but absolute fair play to him for the work he's done since he left Microshaft. I don't know what you've got against the word "philanthropist" (apart from it being hard to spell) but it seems to me to be a pretty good term for someone with millions in the bank who is trying to spend it to improve the lot of their fellows rather than just spaffing it on yachts and Bolivian marching powder.

Traffic lights, who needs 'em? Lucky Kentucky residents up in arms over first roundabout

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

They should think themselves lucky...

They should see the abomination that is Durham Gate roundabout. The person that designed that should be strung up.

New systemd 248 feature 'extension images' updates immutable file systems without really updating them

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Re: Errr but...

"replacing the serial init scripts with a parallel boot process is fine"

My OpenRC machine has parallel service startup now, works perfectly well enough for me!

Why yes, I'll take that commendation for fixing the thing I broke

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

The moment of terror

Some years ago I was looking at a minor glitch on a customer firewall, located 300 miles away in a secure datacentre. It was a Cisco ASA of some variety and dozens of small branch sites connected back to the main corporate network through it. I can only assume I was overworked or hadn't been getting enough sleep because I enabled verbose debugging to my console, but for all protocols; the thing almost immediately locked up under the strain and flashing red signs started to appear all over the big NASA-style status monitor on the office wall. Cue the afore-mentioned moment of horror. The boss ran in to the office in full panic mode as I was thinking about clearing my desk and updating the old CV, but then I realised - there was no external logging for the firewall so the only trace of what I'd done was in the running config. "I know, I've just seen the outage! Calling the datacentre now!" I rang the site and had them power-cycle the device, 5 minutes later everything was happily reconnecting and I was taking the credit for my calm and prompt response. I never owned up to it.

helloSystem: Pre-alpha FreeBSD project chases simplicity and elegance by taking cues from macOS

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Foundation thrillogy: Rust programming language gets new home and million-dollar spending account

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Re: Er, Shurely Shome Mishtake?

I'm a scientist not a programmer (Jim) but I use Python a lot in Monte Carlo modelling, etc. I'm hearing a lot of rumblings in the community from people taking the time to learn Rust to move to that from Python for performance reasons, whereas the older generations used C++ or something (I know one old chemistry prof who is a whiz at Fortran). If I had the time I might look at it myself.

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

I'm no expert, but I get very strong "old man yells at cloud" vibes from that blog.

How do you save an ailing sales pitch? Just burn down the client's office with their own whiteboard

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Re: UUC, was Interviews

My mother was in the ROC, I'll have to pass this on to her! I used to sneak a look at her paperwork as a boy, I seem to remember all this talk of sealing your house against fallout and such fair put the wind up me. It did make me question the worth of bothering to learn my times tables.

Scottish Environment Protection Agency refuses to pay ransomware crooks over 1.2GB of stolen data

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Ha, take my "angry upvote"!

Linux developers get ready to wield the secateurs against elderly microprocessors

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Re: Dear me

In lockdown last year I rebuilt my old 486SX25 and got Gentoo running on it (admittedly, I did the compiling on a "modern" Pentium 4 and moved the disk across). Why? Just to see if I could. It took an hour to boot and wasn't really useful for much though, so I went to Windows 3.1 to play Heretic.

Developers! These 3 weird tricks will make you a global hero

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Re: And also started deviating from it

cf. the recent change in xfce 4.16 that moves the file chooser buttons to the titlebar. 20 years of muscle memory fighting you there every time you try to save something. (At least it's fairly simple to turn it back).

You've got to be shipping me: KatherineRyan.co.uk suggests the comedian has diversified into freight forwarding

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Website redirection

So, I'm not sure if I'm proud of this or not... some years ago I parted with my ex in rather less-than-ideal circumstances. I dealt with the domain for her small business, and in a fit of pique redirected it to the Wikipedia entry for adultery. It was like that for weeks before she noticed...

It's better to burn out than fade Huawei: UK rolls out schedule for rip-and-replace rules

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Re: justified by the sanctions levelled against the company by the Trump administration

Sovereignty... the vote for Brexit was more-or-less a vote to become the 51st state IMHO...

If I pedal faster and feed it spinach, my robot barman might pull more pints

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Re: All that effort seems like a bit of a waste

More vigorous? Don't be silly, I haven't jumped up and down on a bed since I was about 5.

Considering the colonisation of Mars? Werner Herzog would like a word

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Well, he might have a point, but...

I'm no Musk cheerleader, I'm glad he's doing some of the things he's doing but as time goes on it becomes more and more apparent that he's a swivel-eyed loon. However, this whole "we shouldn't be going to Mars / building the Large Hadron Collider / whatever while there are hungry kids / homeless people / global warming" argument is pretty tiresome. It's not like the whole planet can just drop everything to work on one problem at a time, we should be doing ALL of these important things. Maybe if we spent a bit less on missiles and drones...

Need a new computer for homeschooling? You can do worse than a sub-£30 2007 MacBook off eBay

Arbuthnot the Magnificent


Not much experience with Mac, but I'm writing this comment (in the pub, it's Friday) from my 2010 Panasonic running Artix Linux - less than £100 on eBay for a reasonable i5 with 8GB of RAM, one SSD install later and it runs really well. I also recently set up a Dell Latitude i3 that my old employer threw away for my sister. Plenty of scope for cheap computing, as long as you move away from the bloat and planned obsolescence of MS.

UK govt advert encouraging re-skilling for cyber jobs implodes spectacularly

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Re: You mean "faux outrage"?

No, she doesn't have a "divine right to any job", what she does have though is a reasonable expectation that the government she has paid her taxes to will not throw her and the culture of the country under a bus. Even the arch-Tory Churchill himself said: “The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sus­tain and encour­age them….Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the rev­er­ence and delight which are their due.”

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Re: You missed off...

RE: cybernetics; the amusingly-named Norbert Wiener invented the term and tried to push it but it never really took off, unlike the rather more comprehensive "Information Theory" of Claude Shannon. (Yes, this is simplifying a lot of interesting history a lot. See "The Information" by James Gleick).

Microsoft Exchange 2010 support ends in a matter of days and there are 139,000 internet-facing servers still up

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Re: Exchange 2010

Right, wasn't aware of that, I left there in 2016. My bosses were always very leery of the latest versions, we went straight from 2003 to 2010 - it also avoided the problem of going from 2003 to 2013 directly.

I was pretty sad when I shut down the last 2003 box, it was what I certified on, and I knew it would be the last one I ever saw. Yes, it was shit, but it was shit I knew. I suppose it's the same feeling the last flint-knapper had when everyone was using copper tools or something.

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Exchange 2010

Last 2010 project I worked on was a large upgrade from 2003 to 2010, this was only in 2015. NHS trust, the latest versions were never allowed (the project started a year or two earlier). So yes, I expect there are still a few of them around!

Can The Register run Crysis Remastered? Yes, but we don't see why you would want to

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Crysis original

I played the original back in the day and really liked it. Over lockdown I played it and Warhead (courtesy of GOG, lost the originals years ago) on my Phenom 2 / RX470 rig. Now that's admittedly not a high-end system but I still had to tone the graphics down to make it smooth - an RX470 with 8GB VRAM! BUT it still looked really good, and I think it's a great game, interesting story and characters, great open environment and cool mechanics. I'll admit I don't understand the modern obsession with chasing framerates that the human eye cannot even detect - gameplay is more important.

The Battle of Britain couldn't have been won without UK's homegrown tech innovations

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Most Secret War

Anyone interested in WWII boffinry should track down a copy of "Most Secret War" by R.V. Jones:


The power of Bill compels you: A server room possessed by a Microsoft-hating, Linux-loving Demon

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Re: I once destroyed the internet.

As a callow youth I worked as a technician at a certain awful UK PC chain, and occasionally had to deal with customers at the till. The obnoxious ones would get their card surreptitiously swiped over the magnetic detagger as I returned it.

Competitive techies almost bring distributed disaster upon themselves – and they didn't even find any aliens

Arbuthnot the Magnificent


In about 2005 I was network admin for a big print manufacturer and I had the SETI client running on all our servers and desktops. One of the Beancounters asked about power consumption of the PCs being on overnight (even though the factory consumed so much electricity that we literally had our own substation onsite) but I appeased him by using group policy to set the monitors to power off - he didn't know the difference between the PC being off or just the monitor.

ReactOS hits a milestone – actually hiring a full-time developer. And we've got our talons on the latest build to see what needs fixing

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

It's interesting...

But in the last few years I've tried it about half a dozen times on different machines, and I've yet to be able to get into the desktop. I hope they get it running though, it could be fun!

MediaTek trumpets cheap gaming chipsets for strange subset of people who enjoy PUBG on their smartphone

Arbuthnot the Magnificent


Known to me as "where the F*** are the drivers for this F****** MediaTek dongle".

Paging technology providers: £3m is on the table to replace archaic NHS comms network

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Hospital pagers

About 6 years ago I was involved in procuring a pager system for a new-build NHS hospital, and I worked alongside the winning vendor (Multitone) to implement it. They were the only sensible choice, and were a pleasure to deal with. Their system is robust and feature-rich, and to label it "archaic" is missing the point. The hospital was covered by dual redundant transmitters with dedicated cabling, analogue line as well as VoIP connectivity, and the devices themselves also supported WiFi IP connectivity. There were interfaces to the phone system and SMS links to staff mobiles as well - this thing was the absolute definition of belt and braces. To hear some muppet link Hancock say we need to get rid of it because it's obsolete like faxes is ridiculous. If I was going to go into cardiac arrest in the middle of a huge steel-framed building I know I'd rather the crash team was called on a Multitone pager than some Android app written by the lowest bidder.

Only true boffins will be able to grasp Blighty's new legal definitions of the humble metre and kilogram

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

NPL and the kilogram

A few years ago I was on a tour of NPL and jolly fascinating it was too. The tour guide gave a talk about the standard kilogram, how it's calibrated against the other other ones in France etc. (including the time the boss left his backpack, containing the UK kilogram, on the Eurostar and had to dash back to find it). The highlight for me was the fancy high-tech plasma machine they use to clean the kilogram to remove all the atmospheric pollutants that sink into the surface, especially compared to the French solution - one particular old chap gives them a run down with a chamois, and only he is allowed to do it so they are all the same!

BoJo looks to jumpstart UK economy with £6k taxpayer-funded incentive for Brits to buy electric cars – report

Arbuthnot the Magnificent


That'll really help people commute to the jobs they lost.

Devuan Beowulf 3.0 release continues to resist the Debian fork's Grendel – systemd

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

"false dichotomy"

They keep pushing it as being "sysvinit vs systemd" because sysvinit is old and not perfect, but completely ignore the existence of OpenRC, S6, runit... I use Artix Linux, Gentoo, GhostBSD, all on OpenRC, works perfectly, simply and understandably. You want to use systemd, fine, but don't try and make everyone else use it.

Snapping at Canonical's Snap: Linux Mint team says no to Ubuntu store 'backdoor'

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Debian and Debian derivatives

If you want a shiny Debian-based distro that's as neat, tidy, fast, well-supported and full-featured as Mint but without Canonical interference there's MX, which also has the bonus of choice between systemd or not. For a purer Debian-but-no-d experience Devuan is getting pretty good these days - I keep an ASCII partition as it's the only way I can get my organisations outdated Pulse Secure VPN client to work.

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

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Quite an upgrade...

I've got a photo somewhere of his old student 486, which is on display in a museum in Helsinki.

A paper clip, a spool of phone wire and a recalcitrant RS-232 line: Going MacGyver in the wonderful world of hotel IT

Arbuthnot the Magnificent


A firm I worked for many moons ago "splashed out" and upgraded the office network cabling to CAT-5E, but refused to put any spare cabling in to allow for growth - to keep costs low they only put in exactly what was needed at the time. Fast forward a few months and a bunch of new starters are announced - all needing PCs and phones. I could install small switches by the clusters of desks to handle the extra data connections but the phones were analogue, so I'm ashamed to say I ended up splitting CAT5 cables to connect more than one phone through, with a similar mess at the patch panel. This was in place for at least a decade before they went VOIP.

Pervasive digital surveillance of citizens deployed in COVID-19 fight, with rules that send genie back to bottle

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

It is with great reluctance that I have agreed to this calling. I love democracy. I love the Republic. Once this crisis has abated, I will lay down the powers you have given me!

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

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Contingency kit?

I used to work on telecoms provision in the NHS - a new build hospital we specced up had mainly SIP with ISDN2 plus some POTS emergency lines for ambulance service etc. It's all about belt and braces.

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

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Re: Seen in the wild

My late father-in-law was a TV repairman in the 60s and 70s, and he used to have the apprentice distract the owner whilst he gave the box a smack to break the tin whiskers! Often he could then just furtle around drinking tea for half an hour and declare it fixed (got to make them think they are getting value for money).

You spoke, we didn't listen: Ubiquiti says UniFi routers will beam performance data back to mothership automatically

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Re: "In other words, you ain't got no choice."

"Is there anything that's worse than an ASA?"

Yes, a PIX...

The delights of on-site working – sun, sea and... WordPad wrangling?

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Re: Greybeards might recall

NI is still very much alive - LabView is everywhere in my field (physics). It's widely loved for how powerful and flexible it is, and hated for how arcane it is to configure and debug.

Unlocking news: We decrypt those cryptic headlines about Scottish cops bypassing smartphone encryption

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Re: IndyRef2

Hmm - on my second LineageOS handset, with no real problems - USB access works from my Linux machine.

Dixons fined £500,000 by ICO for crap security that exposed 5.6 million customers' payment cards

Arbuthnot the Magnificent


Worked in PCW as a tech when I was a nipper, many moons ago. Everyone slagged off the old REPOS terminals but you wouldn't have had a problem with them! I was there when the first Windows-based checkouts arrived - Eclipse, I think it was called. Queues to the back of the store when the things went wrong (which was, in the words of the now-legendary Tom Jones, not unusual).

GSMA report: Sorry, handset makers, 5G is not going to save the smartphone market

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Re: For a mobile device, 4G is more than fast enough for me.

Yep, I use 4G at home (with a Teltonika router) because wired broadband is crap in the area (rural Durham) and it's OK for that. Never use 4G on my handset though; I always set it to 3G because it's fast enough and I'd rather have the battery life.

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

Arbuthnot the Magnificent

Re: He was stupid

Yes, if you're going to get back at the shitty company that laid you off because you wouldn't suck up to the boss and lie to customers, by maybe deleting the firmware from all of their switches and routers and scheduling a reload, you'd best do it from the library or something. I imagine.

Motorola's mid-range One Hyper packs 64MP cam, huge screen and – ooo – 'Quad Pixel' tech

Arbuthnot the Magnificent


Touchscreen on my old Smart Ultra failed last week so I picked up a second-hand LG G3 on eBay for peanuts, one root and wipe and Lineage OS installation later I've got a nice phone. If you don't need / want Google bloat it's amazing how nicely older hardware runs.

I'll give you my Windows 7 installation when you pry it from my cold, dead hands (and other tales)

Arbuthnot the Magnificent


Nobody said "leaving to escape updates" but "leaving to escape MS". But since you mention it, updates in Windows are much more of an ordeal than in any Linux variety (except possibly Linux from Scratch, but that's not a fair comparison).


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021