* Posts by Sandgrounder

51 publicly visible posts • joined 22 May 2020


Microsoft to kill off third-party printer drivers in Windows


Is this wish list for common functionality provided by any other platforms or are we Microsoft bashing? Does macOS or any of the Linux distros provide a common print preview API for example? I actually agree with your post, Microsoft had the resources and could of done a great job, instead of resting on their Windows 3.1 laurels about having a shared printer driver for multiple apps and never moving the sticks on to the next step.

The only other platform I'm aware of, Android, made printing even more hell than Windows by forcing a separate printer app to be used. Had to save the file to the file system and load up a separate app made by your printer manufacturer (if they bothered) to print anything. I'm out of date on this, maybe Android printing has evolved since the dark days a mere handful of years ago but it was an awful mess.

Keir Starmer's techno-fix for the NHS: Déjà vu disaster or brave new blunder?


Re: NHS Linux

Who cares what the question is, we know the answer.

God help us all if this is the best our vastly experienced, highly educated, incredibly smart IT community here can come up with.

We may as well leave it to the PPE graduates.

Europe’s biggest city council faces £100M bill in Oracle ERP project disaster


Re: So what is the right answer?

Yes, it's all so simple. Standardise it. Why has no one else ever thought of this?

Why not setup your own company and present your brilliant plan to local authorities? I'm sure they will be blown away as you present the standard processes that you will be implementing. Along with your strategy to get their entire work force on your side to make it happen.

Your book of standard best in breed solutions for all business functions will be worth it's weight in gold. You will have no difficulty in attracting investors and finance with such breath taking knowledge. With full multi vendor support to get everything working seemlessly together the implementation should be trivial. Throw in a single website, knock up an app and it will be done.

Can you deliver next Tuesday?


So what is the right answer?

How about some ideas about what an alternative solution would look like? Something plausible, not the usual "I could write this in my shed with a couple of mates" type of answer.

There are a few challenges to consider,

a) This is a big enterprise, a multi billion £ "business" ;

b) Whilst on the surface it appears there are many local authorities doing similar stuff, the reality is that there are major differences between how each and every one operates. Each need a bespoke solution. "Make them all work the same way" is about a realistic a plan as "just stop crime" is as an answer to prison overcrowding.

c) there is a reason the same suppliers get asked every time - they are running these systems already. whilst there are well publicised issues, a huge amount of local and national government stuff totally depend on them to function.

d) The depth and breath of functionality required is huge. It is hard to visualise how much these systems do if you've no experience with them.

e) the customers/end users lack the skills or understanding to support these projects. Keeping the lights on day to day is challenge enough. This is both in business and IT skills.

f) there are existing legacy systems that have to be kept running whilst the new project is done. Migration of these to new processes/systems is high risk, high complexity and time critical.

g) doing nothing is not an option. Existing Hardware is approaching end of life with no like for like replacement. Software and even operating systems are no longer supported. Many existing processes can't manage the changes that will be required to support new business requirements.

Microsoft enables booting physical PCs directly into cloud PCs


Re: Oh God No

How is this any different from what already exists? Enterprises have been removing local admin rights and rolling out thin clients to developers since the 90s. If your corp is going to shaft you

they have already done it so many times, you don't even notice any more.

University still living in the Nineties seeks help with move to SAP S/4HANA


Re: Is it just me?

A lack of knowledge is not the issue. It is the absence of skills and experience.


Re: Here's a thought...

You just belong to a bygone era where organisations valued their staff, provided proper training, career paths and a job for life.

Hire a brilliant team of your own, write it all in house, maintain and modernise as you go is a fairytale. The reality is failing systems, unfit for purpose and impossible to maintain. In the real world, even the best designed and built systems fall into decay as the original authors move on, new staff fail to understand the system and new requirements bend the old designs past breaking point.

In 21st century IT, skilled and experienced staff are seen as a burden and cost centre, to be ruthlessly rooted out and cast on the bonfire. Ironically, often replaced by a bunch of cheap students.

Large organisations reap what they sow.


Re: Is it just me?

Would you buy a car from your local higher education college because they run a mechanics course?

Professional software development is a highly skilled business that requires time and experience to learn. No matter how bright the students, they cannot deliver something like this.

A significant chunk of my business comes from companies that thought it could be done for free/on the cheap by a bunch of students. My experience is that 99.95% (approximately) of such code ends in the bin and 100% of such projects fail.

And that's before we open the can of worms about academics.

Linus Torvalds suggests the 80486 architecture belongs in a museum, not the Linux kernel


Re: Genuine question...

Ok. I feel qualified to answer this. I was tech lead on a project for a major bank that needed to migrate a few hundred small programs from running on old/obsolete x86 architectures to a modern, fully supported and maintainable environment. These programs were not the core banking applications, these just ran in the gaps between the main systems, doing one or more jobs necessary to keep data processed and flowing across the enterprise.

Sounds a straightforward task,

- we had the knowledge and skills to read the old code;

- all the programs were in a small, isolated area, walled off from most other systems;

- there were minimal functional/logical changes, just rewrite it to do the same as it did;

The project ran for over a year and had still not been completed when I moved on. We found significant challenges in multiple areas

a. No-one knew what each program was doing or why. There was no documentation. There were no business users who remembered why the program had been needed. There was no IT knowledge as to why something was done.

b. No-one understood what the data was. As much was scraped from application screens as written to database tables. Many fields had multiple types of data in, mixes of dates, numbers and alphanumeric codes. Many fields were bit masks for other fields.

c. The enterprise world is dynamic and ever changing. One example springs to mind where data from source A and outputs it to destination b, takes data from B, mixes with source C and D, writes out to destinations E, F and G. but when source C is a mainframe screen with 15 fields, of which only 12 still exist, and there is an update part way through the rewrite that removes that screen completely. what now? Anyone know where the data can still be found.

d. There were 100s of hard coded edge cases, all interwoven into an impenetrable web of conditional logic statements, tress and branches.

e. The test data was not fit for purpose in most cases. With 20+ years of industry mergers, new products, obsolete products, half migrated systems etc, there could be 4000 different types of data from records in a single table.

f. The number of test cases required to test every possible combination of data was rising towards infinity. We stopped calculating past 100 billion.

g. For the majority of the programs it was not known how many systems would be impacted by an individual program, let alone be able to plan a proper regression test.

Yes, we had the original source. Yes, we could write it again to do the apparent same thing in the new environment. That was usually the trivial bit. Finding out whether it still did the same in every use case in every combination with no impact to anything else. Almost impossible.

These programs dealt with moving transactions between hundreds of thousands of current accounts, savings accounts, loan accounts, bad debtor accounts, accounting systems and so on every day, with total revenue in the hundreds of millions.

To anyone who has never seem the complexity and scale of enterprise systems, it is like trying to handover air traffic control duties at Heathrow to a parking attendant in a small car park.

So save the smug old-timer comments for the playground. Realise that there is a whole world of IT technology, skills, knowledge and implementation that has been achieved by the efforts of many from several differing generations across the last 50 years. You think you know it all. Think again.

Microsoft tweaks Store policy for open source once again


Re: MS is a Wolf in Sheeps clothing

Any glaring examples of products that have been ripped from Foss?

Amazon Elastic Search was the most blatant case I can remember.

Apple. They don't stop at Foss, they do it to commercial products too usually accompanied by banning the original vendor from the app store to boot.

Anyone care to list others for the hall of shame?

Sage accused of strong-arming customers into subscriptions


Not Fit for Purpose

I would suspect that selling accounts software without TLS 1.2 for the last few years could leave Sage open to claims that their product was defective and not fit for purpose.

For their corporate lies department to then attempt to force perpetual license holders to purchase a new product as the only "fix" for their defective software could be tantemount to blackmail.

If I were a customer, I would be seeking legal advice to seek immediate redress.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio: Too edgy for comfort?


Re: Fan fare

Do all your machines come from the $100 bargain bucket, do you deliberately buy crap or are you the unluckiest user on the planet?

Are the rest of world really that dumb to keep buying Intel? OK, the answer to that is obviously yes but that's not the point.

You say Facebook, Teams? Problem solved, it's a software issue.


Re: iPad + Magic keyboard/stand

Let me fix this for you:

iPad + Magic keyboard/stand are an expensive and inferior copy of Microsoft Surface devices. Whilst the iPad hardware is great, the fisher price OS that the vendor insists on inflicting on its users is a crime (and will remain so whilst touch screen and macOS remain isolated from each other) .

If you are happy with the surface pro format, why change? If you like Microsoft hardware but need some more oomph including a graphics card or prefer more of a traditional laptop whilst keeping a pen for writing/drawing, then this is a decent, if pricey upgrade.


Re: Fan fare

Have you ever set eyes (ears?) on this laptop or is your expert opinion based on your intuitive understanding from the spec sheet?

In days gone by, manufacturers considered thermal properties and heat dissipation when building PCs, be they full size towers or laptops. Even the choice of fan made a difference on whether your device ran quietly or sounded like a jumbo jet taking off. Days before the cult of thin swept all before it.

As an actual owner and daily user of the Surface Laptop studio, I would like to share my experiences

- in my normal daily activities the laptop is virtually silent and the fans remain off. These activities include software development and running various simulators and emulators when testing mobile apps.

- on the rare times the fans do come on, they are an order of magnitude quieter than the typical laptop fans I've heard from other devices. Certainly no worse than using an average business grade desktop PC.

As to other points in the article:

- I've never cut my wrists on its edges. They are no sharper than any other device I have used and I can use it to work on all day with no ill effects when away from my usual desktop environment.

- The battery lasted for a full 8 hour workshop yesterday, where OneNote was used constantly, with Teams and Outlook running in the background. I've never tried hours of video rendering or continual code compilation tasks whilst waiting for it to die. I also doubt it will get close to an Apple M1/2 powered laptop. However, in [my] normal usage, I am never concerned that the battery won't last a half day at a customer's office plus a few hours on the train home. It beats my previous Surface Book 2 comfortably.

- I love the form factor for taking notes, drawing architecture diagrams, annotating documents. To borrow a phrase, it just works.

US must adopt USB-C charging standard like EU, senators urge


Re: Absolute bollocks

"perfectly working windows"

3 words I never expected to see together.

Apple’s M2 chip isn’t a slam dunk, but it does point to the future


Interesting metric

Fastest processor for x watts.

I wonder if the car industry will take it up. Will we start to see adverts such as

"This VW Golf is the Fastest car that does 50 miles per gallon"

Safari is crippling the mobile market, and we never even noticed


Commentard Bingo

Take your seats folks, its Bingo time.

- Web pages should be plain HTML, no scripting, no CSS


- Lazy Web Developers


- Why does anyone need a smartphone, The good old telegraph is fine for everyone


- Who uses a mobile anyway, it's much easier to whip out my desk, chair, 3 widescreen monitors (one portrait aspect) and boot up my workstation to find directions whilst on the move via my custom bash scripts


- Apple isn't a monopoly, Raspberry pi exists


- If you want a fully functional computer, optimised 10,000 times, that fits in your pocket, that can do almost anything anywhere and now you want to run your own software, go and built it yourself


- We should take what our Apple overloads prescribe and be grateful for it



Failed gambler? How about an algorithm that predicts the future


A data revolution

A database that can predict its own data. Imagine the opportunities this will provide

- No more clunky data access code for inserts / updates, the db knows what is about to arrive.

- Banks no longer needing to track transactions, they can simply predict your balance.

- Instant democracy, no more pesky voting, results will be in before the count starts

- As for IoT, forget it. We can predict what sensors would have been installed along with the readings

iOS, Android stores host more than 1.5 million 'abandoned' apps


Re: Google

Simply not true.

There are tens of thousands of apps created by companies and distributed for free as it provides a better / easier / faster / shinier / more persistent * way for customers to use their services.

* Delete as appropriate

For example:

Banking apps

Streaming services

Messaging services

Apple's Safari browser runs the risk of becoming the new Internet Explorer – holding the web back for everyone


I disagree. Apple are equally malicious.

They want to keep control of the customer at all costs. That's why they keep Safari crippled.


Re: Oh no, we don't have the latest!

Here is another crazy idea. Rather than wait for "them" to build the Web just the way you want, why not have a go at building it yourself. Then you can sell what you have to others.

That would surely prove that you know better than "them" about what "they" want.

Tip: I wouldn't recommend you bet your mortgage on this.

Feeling saucy? Wave of Microsoft releases includes go-live licence for .NET 6


Re: market share

ASP.NET Web Forms has been around since 2002, is still supported today, old apps using it still run, new apps can be created with it. Classifying this as constant chopping, changing feels a little harsh.

Apple's M1 MacBook screens are stunning – stunningly fragile and defective, that is, lawsuits allege



It is down to the M1 chip, causing real hARM.

Yet to figure why they named it after the M1. As it supposedly runs rings around the competition, M25 would be more suitable choice.

Visual Basic 6 returns: You've been a good developer all year. You have social distanced, you have helped your mom. Here's your reward


Re: Visual Basic

No, from what little I remember, it was never in the same league as Delphi.


Re: Extreme VB Programming

Yes, that would be the one. Great read.


Extreme VB Programming

I learnt from a book all sorts of "proper"/extreme programming you could do with VB. Passing string pointers around, direct read and writes to memory locations, multithreading, accessing the real Windows API and best of all, how to hack MTS and COM+.

Used it to great effect to help modernise an enormous and cumbersome MDI based VB application. Kept the MDI shell in place whilst rewriting the core functionality in C# using .NET 2002. Only needed a few calls to obtain the MDI child window handles and drop in the .NET forms into place and wire up the event handlers.

My biggest learning of all - just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should.


Re: Visual Basic

Delphi was the fixed version of VB4 that we all longed to use but work wouldn't go for it.

If only Delphi had used C syntax rather than Pascal, it would most likely have conquered the world.

Something went wrong but we won't tell you what it is. Now, would you like to take out a premium subscription?


Re: You joke, but...

It is amazing the number of people expecting all their apps and software to be free whilst still expecting to be paid themselves for the job they do.

Pay peanuts, get software written and tested by monkeys.

The Audacity of it all: Version 3.0 of open-source audio fave boasts new file format, 160+ bug fixes


Still no VST Instruments?

Disappointing to see that there is still no support for VST instruments. Given the ubiquity of them in music production since the early 2000s and that Audacity is a wannabe Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), this is a huge omission. Despite this, it is still in the premier league of open source tools. I can't think of many others that get so much right - including the user interface. For free, you cannot argue with what the team have produced. This is one project I will not hesitate to contribute to once I have been able to put in the leg work to learn enough to be useful.

Some of the comments above made me chuckle. It reminds me of people seeing word processors for the first time and being amazed at what they could do. Yes folks, editing audio on computers is a thing. Works quite well too.

Harmed by a decision made by a poorly trained AI? You should be able to sue for damages, says law prof


Running short on software patent infringements?

This smells like a lawyer looking to open up a new front for huge paydays against any company that uses a system that could be, in the eys of a lawyer, labelled AI.

Been wronged by AI? Call us now to start your claim.

Whilst the intention may be honerable, I'm sure that the genius who came up with software patents was worried about protecting the little guy too. How well that works.

There are so many issues here. For example, demographics change. Populations age. The % of each population group fluctuates.

Does a company have to check the census every year to figure out how many Somalians are in a local population in case it has increased or decreased?

How does a company validate the dataset for suppliers?

Who decides whether the dataset is relevant to the task in hand?

How much will it cost to retrain your AIs for every product for every update? Will make server patching appear a walk in the park.

How long is your dataset valid for?

Will end up with an army scouring through every possible product containing AI looking for the slightest chance to claim a trivial infraction against anyone ticking a box for todays list of society's protected charactistics.

Insufficient latter day saints in your traffic modeliing for your 10 year old route planning app? Where there's blame...

150,000 lost UK police records looking more like 400,000 as Home Office continues to blame 'human error'


Re: UK Data Protection law and GDPR

"Anybody convicted of a crime will have their records stored forever"

That is not true. Only personal data from category 1 and 2 crimes are kept forever. Data from minor offences like traffic violations has to be deleted after a fixed period of time.

Dratted 'housekeeping', eh? 150k+ records deleted off UK’s Police National Computer database


Re: the loss relates to individuals who were arrested and then released with no further action

This would be a perfectly reasonable opinion on the Guardian comments as everything is either the fault of Brexit, Cummings or both. I suggest it is almost certainly not that. We in Britain had laws and systems of knowledge recording long before our European brethren gathered together to invent civilisation and we continue to have them.

I too have no evidence to support such a belief, but opinion trumps [pun intended] facts every time.


Re: Backups

Yep, there is specific legislation that describes in detail what data the police have to delete and after what time period. It is nothing to do with GDPR.

Personal [nominal] data depends on a number of factors as to if/when it can be deleted. Data on category 1/2 offenders cannot be deleted. Data on offenders in categories 3 and 4 is deleted after 10 years (IIRC).

Unsolved crimes obviously have no offenders. Nominals may still be linked with these as suspects, witnesses, victims and so on. Similar rules apply as for offenders, the data cannot be deleted for category 1/2 crimes.

Most police systems follow a POLE model, people, objects, location, events. Personal data is not limited to people. Locations can be classed as personal, eg. home addresses of nominals or non-personal, eg. crime scenes.

Objects can also be in scope. These can include items held as evidence and as such, deleted personal data can trigger destruction of physical evidence, warehouse records and so on. This is usually only an issue for object data held by individual police forces and not on the PNC.

The seriousness of this incident is getting overhyped by the press. Whilst crimes occurring across force borders will not be easily linked, it is completely false to suggest that criminals will become unknown by the police, their fingerprints no longer available. Data is held in a multitude of other systems by police forces, some off the shelf, some custom built. There is some level of automation to transfer data from some of the packaged systems to the PNC but , to my knowledge, there is no linking of data for deletion to/from the PNC. Each force is responsible for deleting its own data, and the PNC is managed separately. The deleted data will still exist in the original source systems. Dependent on which system, it may be possible to identify the data in the force systems that was transferred into the PNC and is no longer there. This may be an option if other attempts to restore the data are unsuccessful.

Last stop before MAUI: Xamarin Forms 5.0 released for cross-platform mobile, new features, new bugs


Re: Another week, another version of another unwanted Microsoft framework...

More like a once independent species assiilalated by the Borg. Free will and a right to self determination may have been lost but there is a rather cool hive API and you can release any 3D shape as long as it is a cube.

Surface Laptop Go: Premium feel for a mid-range price, but Microsoft's Apple-like range once meant more than this


Re: Proprietary ports - DIE DIE DIE

They have both usb-c and a bespoke connect port. Charging works on both. Why is continued support for an additional proprietary port supporting hardware that could deliver power and drive a full docking station that pre-dates the latest USB-C equivalents classed as bad? Perhaps they lack courage to screw all existing users?

Unsecured Azure blob exposed 500,000+ highly confidential docs from UK firm's CRM customers


Re: Listen to what Teacher says..

The reality is that users are located anywhere in the world and need access to their data. The days of air gapped networks and data locked on a single mainframe reachable only from inside one building are long gone.


Re: Listen to what Teacher says..

Teacher is a fool.

This has nothing to do with cloud. Incompetence places data at risk regardless of who owns the box it sits on. It is naive in the extreme to think that because you can physically touch a server, it is safe. A proper security strategy has to assume that the internal network is equally as compromised as a public one.


Re: "Azure blob security"

No, it doesn't cost more to create multiple blobs. This is purely a design decision.

For a multi tenanted application, it would be expected that a separate blob be used for each tenant.

In a single tenant application a single blob for different customer's data would not be unusual, in the same way multiple customer's data would be in a single database.

Apple fires warning shot at Facebook and Google on privacy, pledges fight against 'data-industrial complex'


Re: the “data-industrial complex”

It's not that Apple want to protect consumers, they merely want to block access for anyone but themselves. Their primary business model is to 100% own the customer relationship. All other providers must be locked out.

Max Schrems is back... and he's challenging Apple's 'secret iPhone advertising tracking cookies' in Europe


Advertising does work

So many claims on here that advertising does not work made by no doubt very clever people who can sidestep most of the tracking. You must all be so much smarter than those dumb business people who buy ads.

Yet many of those dumb business people make an awful lot of money selling stuff. And they keep buying the ads too.

Advertising doesn't work? Really? Who are the people being dumb now?

Office 365 for the iPad will feel a little more desktop-ish now Microsoft has tossed it trackpad, mouse support


The same sheer bloody mindedness that won't let them put touch screens in their Mac books but prefers to invent ridiculous touch screen function keys instead. Comes with a free reality distortion upgrade that tells users that less is more - like their disappearing ports and jacks.


Re: Madness

Probably was true in 2014. Not so these days. Take for example the Microsoft Surface Go. Similar size to an ipad, but is a real computer that runs a grown up OS, not a Fisher price version. Perfect when you have real work to do as well as watching Netflix.

Fitness freaks flummoxed as massive global Garmin outage leaves them high and dry for hours


Connect architecture

I would guess that the platform architecture was designed to preserve power whilst running over low bandwidth comm links. Data has to be compressed and packaged very efficiently when making use of very low bandwidth (or high cost) data links. That takes processing power which drains battery life. When the receiver has a finite sized battery and is expected to run for long periods, this can be problematic. It remains a key challenge when working with remote sensors communicating over satellite links for example.

In days of old, when connectors were male/female and masters controlled slaves, Bluetooth had higher power requirements and batteries were lower capacity. Add to that a watch sized device meant to run for days. Power savings could be made if the full data stream did not need unpacking and converting continously by client apps.

Then consider the lower software costs of maintaining a single reporting API that doesn't need rewriting with each new form factor or device and it kind of makes sense.

Finally, replace the engineers with the beancounters and why change a working product not milked completely dry yet?

To be fair I personally found the Garmin Connect APIs to be well designed and implemented,and the support first rate. Unfortunately the licensing terms meant only those with a serious enterprise budget could access the data in near real-time. The rest of us had to make do with whenever the user finally synced their device.

Linux kernel coders propose inclusive terminology coding guidelines, note: 'Arguments about why people should not be offended do not scale'


Re: Thin end of the wedge?

I'm fed up with this cultural appropriation of the term black. The idea that black is bad goes back to the dawn of human history.

Which is more likely, a group of northern cave dwellers hiding away after sundown because they were frightened of far ranging equatorial tribes or frightened of the dark?

Black belongs to everyone, not just people of a certain skin colour.

Black can be bad. There, I said it. Send for the pitch forks.


Re: Loaded words replaced by euphemisms

Oh yes, the classic SOMETHING MUST BE DONE rallying cry so beloved of politicians and management.

Barclays Bank appeared to be using the Wayback Machine as a 'CDN' for some Javascript



Whilst not very clever, this is just their brochure site. Their online banking is somewhat more stringent and is (wasl setup to not allow connection to any other 3rd party sites. Hell, it wasnt long ago that their main site didn't use https.

Windows 10 Insider wondering where Notepad has gone? Fear not, Microsoft found it down the back of Dev Channel


The Grand Daddy of Modern design

Notepad was the first ever app to receive the Modern design. All that whitespace.

GitHub redesign goes mobile-friendly – to chagrin of devs who shockingly do a lot of work on proper computers


Re: I'll tell you what you want...

Now that is a statement I can't argue with. Have an upvote.


Re: I'll tell you what you want...

The evidence points to a mixed record for Microsoft. They had a little early success with companies like Forethought and Consumers Software that built the products that became PowerPoint and Excel and don't forget Visio that made , er, Visio. It would be interesting to calculate the returns on those purchases with the sales of the Microsoft Office Suite.

NAVision cost them $1.45 billion and became Dynamics. Unsure that would be classed as a success, except by a Dynamics evangelist but it has probably more than paid its way,

Nokia is the best remembered disaster but Microsoft probably lost more money (nearly $7 billion write down) on aQuantive, an advertising platform that was expected to challenge the likes of DoubleClick.

Skype cost them over $8 billion and if you only judged results by user feedback, it has been an unmitigated disaster from the start. A disaster that revolutionised the international calling market, taking over 45% at times, and earning billions of dollars per year.

The purchase of Minecraft ruined the game forever according to some but under their stewardship it is quoted as the 2nd most played game of all time. Maybe the 112 million monthly players have failed to notice that it has been turned to sh*t.

I realise that factual statements about one the Reg's favourite bogeyman won't go down too well in these parts but just occasionally the rabid hatred and blind ignorance can be annoying.

PS. I don't have any Microsoft shares but I sure wish I did, alongside a drawer full of Apple, Oracle and Amazon stock.

Microsoft brings WinUI to desktop apps: It's a landmark for Windows development, but it has taken far too long


Re: What UI framework was used to develop Teams?

It is Electron.

Take the existing website, wrap it up with a full browser and ship as an executable.

Quick and easy for the devs. Nightmare on User Street as every app now ships with a full browser.