* Posts by Chris King

635 posts • joined 13 Feb 2009

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BT installs phone 'spam filter', says it'll strain out mass cold-callers

Chris King
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Re: "huge computing power"

"Of course we know who these people are - we kept the receipts !"

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Chris King
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Re: A Typical Scam Call I Get

I prefer to wind them up, especially the ones pretending to be "tech support" or pretending to be from my bank.

Hey, they're trying to commit fraud by deception, so why should I care if my unique style of "professional unpleasantness" leaves them upset and annoyed ? They're criminals and they deserve an ulcer or two.

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Chris King
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Re: A Typical Scam Call I Get

I used to wind up the "Had an accident at work ?" mob by pretending to have amnesia as a result of my slip, trip or whatever caused me to bang my head. "Coo ! The brain damage alone must be worth MILLIONS !"

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TV anchor says live on-air 'Alexa, order me a dollhouse' – guess what happens next

Chris King
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Re: Alexa!

"Order me 17 tons of nitrogen fertilizer, a copy of the Quran and a complete set of Tek Wars by William Shatner."

The first two might get you put on a watch list, the third will almost certainly get you sectioned for your own safety.

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Chris King
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Re: @ Lee D

I can't even get "OK Google" to function, though I admit my accent is a little screwed (I'm from Yorkshire, so it's quite deep, but was mainly raised by my Irish nan, so picked up talking at speed, which is fine if you're a high pitched Irish person, but not if you're low pitched Yorkshiremen).

Why am I now imagining Compo from "Last of the Summer Wine" walking up to one of these things and saying "ey'oop Google !" ?

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Chris King
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Re: Life imitating Dilbert

Ninety-Nine ! Ninety-Nine ! Ninety-Nine ! (Jump to 54 seconds if this link doesn't take you there)

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Chris King
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Blakes 7 and Microsoft

Before they shut down Xbox Studio, there were plans for a new series...

Zen: STATE COURSE AND SPEED

Blake: Alpha Cygni, Standard by Four

Zen: CONFzzzZZZzzzTtttt

Avon: Zen's showing the Red Ring of Death again. Vila, it's your turn to call tech support.

Vila: Why is it ALWAYS me ?

Avon: Because you're the only one of us stupid enough to sound like they need tech support. Get dialling !

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Bank robber reveals identity – by using his debit card during crime

Chris King
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Nothing new here

I remember some idiot ordering very dodgy videos from overseas using a credit card registered to his halls of residence address, nearly twenty years ago. I won't go into too much detail about the material, child "actors" were involved and NOT in a good way.

The package was intercepted in transit, and an undercover police operation was launched to catch said idiot when he went to collect it from the local sorting office.

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3... 2...1... and 123-Reg hit by DDoSers. Again

Chris King
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Re: I'm with 123reg

+1 for Mythic Beasts - but some folks consider them to be "too expensive". Usually the same people moaning that their 99p-a-year or ad-supported services are on the blink YET again.

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Yorkshire council hit with prolonged web outage

Chris King
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Re: Star Trek Logic

"Must be those bloody dilithium crystals again..."

Shame the web site's down, I'd like to know if they go in the black bin or recycling.

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Christmas Eve ERP migration derailed by silly spreadsheet sort

Chris King
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AST Premium 386

First PC I used in anger, and this particular one was a real rage-inducer.

Damn thing almost caught fire on three occasions, and spent lots of time in transit between work and AST.

In the end, it turned out to be a local problem - the site had metalwork and automotive workshops, and the local substation was pumping out a much higher voltage than normal. Certain parts of the site were receiving mains peaking at almost 270V AC ! Once this was corrected, the workshop boys complained that their furnaces took longer to warm up of a morning, but no more PC's went bang.

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Support chap's Sonic Screwdriver fixes PC as user fumes in disbelief

Chris King
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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Mmmm.. Pies...

"You know that bit in the untouchables when De Niro has the baseball bat..."

Nice thought, but mopping up all that blood and snot wouldn't have been fair on the cleaners.

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Chris King
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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Mmmm.. Pies...

"Was that back in the days when a keyboard cost more than a week's pay?"

Sadly not, but it still cost more than an undergrad could pay comfortably towards the end of term.

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Chris King
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Nice one, "Baker" !

Fixing the problem AND winding up a "problem" user in a way he can't touch you for !

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Chris King
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Re: How I miss CRT's

"Growing up is not something to be proud of".

Growing OLD is something we can't avoid.

Growing UP, now that's something some of us never quite managed.

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Chris King
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Mmmm.. Pies...

Ahhh, there's nothing like rolling out a lab of shiny new PC's, and watching as the first batch of users comes in to "christen" them.

I pop out to the gents, and someone is in the stall downloading some rather pungent brownware. This friend of humanity finishes his ablutions, walks out without washing his hands, and heads straight to my lab full of new shinies.

If that isn't bad enough, he pulls something out of his bag... A (now-lukewarm) pie from the Spar, and proceeds to eat it over a brand-new keyboard.

I instantly decide that the dirty interloper and his flaky (pastry) sidekick have outstayed their welcome...

"Excuse me, are you illiterate, blind or just plain stupid ?!"

"What's the problem ?"

"You're EATING A PIE right under a sign that says 'NO FOOD OR DRINK TO BE CONSUMED IN THIS LAB' !"

"That's right, I am !"

He then eats the pie in the messiest, noisiest way possible (think Cookie Monster - Omnomnomnom), dropping gravy and bits of pastry all over the keyboard, then logs out and walks out leaving a huge trail of pastry flakes in his wake. The only way he could have made matters worse would have been to lickthe gravy off the keyboard.

A four-week ban and a bill for a new keyboard rapidly wiped the smile off his face.

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Did webcam 'performer' offer support chap payment in kind?

Chris King
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Holmes

Re: At a FE college...

One guy used to brows certain porn sites in Lynx... On a VMS box. He never downloaded anything, but apparently just got off on the text.

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Why does Skype only show me from the chin down?

Chris King
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Re: Incompetent admins and migration saboteurs

"I know more about the LISP memory model than any sane sysadmin should".

There isn't enough mind bleach in the world to erase the mental scars that LISP, Prolog and Poplog can inflict. Thank goodness for alcohol !

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Chris King
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As I've said previously, the young 'uns can keep their Cat5-O'Nine Tails, a vampire tap on the end of a piece of 10Base5 delivers way more blunt force trauma !

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Chris King
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Re: Ethernet fan out

"Why have you got 7 downvotes? Is this a taboo subject".

Rough crowd, or too many folks not downing enough of these to forget -->

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Chris King
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Incompetent admins and migration saboteurs

Last job had 'em both - mostly "senior" academics.

My predecessor had been sacked 18 months before (I'd have to tell that tale as AC as the circumstances were fairly unique and quite spectacular), and during that time a procession of individuals had helped out running things...

Including a senior academic who had managed to weasel his way in to privileged access on several systems. Can you say "personal fiefdom", children ?

This individual came to give me the "Do you know who I am ?" routine when I changed all the superuser passwords and locked him out. He took this to be a declaration of war, and questioned EVERY decision I made from that point, until his boss told him to shut up and let me get on with what they paid me to do.

He also tried the "migration saboteur" routine on a number of upgrades, at one point even trying to set up a "secure" intranet for senior management on his personal workstation. You guessed it, security by obscurity and no authentication whatsoever.

HE folks will also be familiar with the concept of the "central compute server" - usually some crusty old VMS or proprietary Unix box that's been around since the early days of the IT service. Even if you can provide better alternatives for everything it offers, people get very fond and possessive of such old systems, and decommissioning can be a nightmare. Especially when the senior profs start pulling rank and send complaints up the management chain. Last one of those took me the best part of a year to kill (the server that is, not the profs), despite the fact that most of the profs who wanted to carry on using it had *laptops* with more compute power at their disposal.

Admittedly, Pine 1.ancient was still a nicer UI than the Lotus Notes client, but let's be honest, that's not difficult.

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Chris King
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Re: Ethernet fan out

*boggle*

With (nine ?) ports on a DELNI, that's a LOT of thick-wire - how did you get all that in the cab, given the bend radius of that stuff ?

One thing's for certain - I wouldn't want to touch that either, unless I had DELNI's ready to replace it !

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It's round and wobbles, but madam, it's a mouse pad, not a floppy disk

Chris King
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Right hole, but two into one does not go...

Mentioned in a previous On-Call, but worth a repeat...

One of the technicians gets called out to deal with a weird problem... User had put a CD in his DVD drive, but he was still seeing the contents of the previous CD he'd been using.

Oh, and the CD he'd just put in must have been too thick, because it took several attempts to slam the drive shut and is was making some god-awful grinding noises.

Turns out he hadn't removed the first CD, and had put the second one in on top of it.

The drive had to be taken out and dismantled to remove the CD's.

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Sysadmin 'fixed' PC by hiding it on a bookshelf for a few weeks

Chris King
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Re: Symon

"Emergency Repair Procedure Number 1."

"You kicked it?"

"Yep"

Just remember to wipe the boot print off it before handing it back !

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Chris King
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Re: @Chris King, re: intimidation tactics.

It's more fun when you can do it with nothing more than a few well-chosen words.

I find "Play nice, or I'll take you to PC World for WEEE disposal" works a treat - and I don't even need to carry a hammer !

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Chris King
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Re: deja vu

Soon they'll start asking "Are we there yet?" after every 2 miles.

In which case, take them past the nearest WEEE facility and a couple of waste disposal sites, and make sure they get a long, hard look.

"Why yes, we're nearly THERE !"

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'So sorry' Evernote rips up privacy changes

Chris King
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Could a robot vacuum cleaner monitor your data centre?

Chris King
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Re: The clue is in the name

"It's called HomeView, not OfficeView, and certainly not DataCenterView. Just don't do it."

If it sets off the alarms, the security guys will probably give it a kicking and flip it onto its back. That's what ours apparently did when someone tried using a Roomba in one suite overnight.

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Microsoft quietly emits patch to undo its earlier patch that broke Windows 10 networking

Chris King
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Re: ,So there's an online fix for not being able to get online?

It didn't work for one machine I tested. Looking at my DHCP server logs, it was getting halfway through the "DORA" cycle (Discover, Offer, Request, Accept).

The client shouted out for a server, the server answered back, but then the client clamped its hands over its ears while singing "la-la-la, I can't hear you" and self-assigned itself a 169.254 address.

Not such much "DORA", more "DOH" (Discover, Offer, Hard-of-hearing).

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Learn your way round the Internet of Things in a day? Course you can...

Chris King
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Re: Wow...

0.00009 seconds - that long, huh ?

Looking at some of the "bag-of-spanners" embedded and IoT systems I've encountered previously, I find myself wondering if the developers even got a day of training before being set to work !

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BT's hiring! 500 more customer service folk to answer your angry calls

Chris King
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Re: "Fixing" the wrong thing

Do you think they're going to bother shaving the chimps ? So long as their facial hair doesn't rustle against their headset mic, you'll be none the wiser.

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Neo-Nazi man jailed for anti-Semitic Twitter campaign against MP

Chris King
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Re: No issues with the sentencing, but...

And Garvie Island for the bombs ?

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90 per cent of the UK's NHS is STILL relying on Windows XP

Chris King
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"Sainsburys supermarkets still have XP in their stores as well"

They're most likely XP Embedded Standard/POSReady 2009 systems, so they'll continue to get support until January 2019.

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Chris King
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WTF?

Re: Why not Windows PE?

"Seriously it has all the features you need while consuming a low amount of system resources. There is no privacy concerns and it's even free."

You have GOT to be kidding. It's not meant to be used that way, and it reboots after 72 hours of continuous use. Not the sort of thing you'd want to happen with a system monitoring a critically-ill patient.

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Chris King
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Moving to Vista wouldn't help (that also goes end-of-life in April) unless drivers/apps work in later versions of Windows.

There will be a lot of embedded systems with XP front-ends that just can't be upgraded - either they'll have to be completely replaced, or put through expensive recertification processes (to ensure that they're safe and producing reliable, reproduceable results) if they're upgraded - assuming the supplier is still in business.

Desktop stuff, I have less sympathy for...

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Sysadmin told to spend 20+ hours changing user names, for no reason

Chris King
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I once ran a system that would die horribly if anyone tried to remove or rename the account of one of the previous sysadmins. Nobody could work out why the machine dived every time they tried, so they had to leave the account on the system in a disabled state.

My systems are built to something I've called the "V'Ger Rule" - a machine must continue to operate in a correct and safe manner in the absence of its Creator.

Put another way:

1. No blowing up any spaceships ;

2. No joyriding in Carbon Units ;

3. Fat, balding starship captains are to be shot on sight, especially ones that follow the "If you can't eat it, drink it, steal it, spend it or have sex with it, blow it up" mantra.

Harold's boss sounds too much like a Kirk Unit, making such demands.

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Revamped Cortana finally lands on UK mobe mass market

Chris King
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Re: Usability threshold

She can't even find my nearest pub, and it's only 50 yards away from where I'm sitting right now !

Maybe she'll sulk when she finds she finds out there are Other Apps on Android and iOS.

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Standards body warned SMS 2FA is insecure and nobody listened

Chris King
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Why bother trying to redirect the SMS ?

How many apps ask for access to your SMS inbox and your address book these days, even if they don't really need those permissions ?

One rogue app, and you can pick up the victim's SMS without even having to interact with the MNO. App stores make this even easier, because users are encouraged to search for an app by name, and unless they check they've picked the right one... bingo, pwned.

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It’s Brexploitation! Microsoft punishes UK for Brexit with cloud price-gouging

Chris King
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Coat

"If they foresee that within a few years the UK customer base will have reverted to bartering leaves for acorns for food"

With our lords and masters wanting to tamper with crypto for their own ends, nobody sane will want to take credit card orders from us. We'll be back to Postal Orders before we know it... but they've pretty much buggered up the Post Office in rural areas.

If you'll excuse me, I'm off to gather up leaves.

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Sysadmin figures out dating agency worker lied in his profile

Chris King
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Re: Bless....

I treated myself to a Das Keyboard mechanical keyboard a couple of years back, and made the mistake of trying to clean the keycaps a little over-zealously. Poor thing looked it had aged several years in a matter of seconds, and Das don't sell full replacement keycap kits.

I ended up buying a generic set of Cherry MX keycaps from Amazon, and they were laser-etched PBT rather than ABS - they feel a little bit rougher, but they're a lot more durable too. Double-shot PBT should last even longer.

(Oh, and Das have a nasty habit of gluing in some of the stabilisers for the bigger keys, so budget for replacements)

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Imagine every mistake you can make with a new software rollout...

Chris King
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Re: SO VERY TRUE!

"If I apply to do an MBA will they actually remove any logic circuits from my brain?"

From what I've seen of younger MBA's, the logic circuits are all left in place, but the course material shorts them all out.

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Eugene Kaspersky is now personally defending your feet

Chris King
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Coat

Re: Darn it...

Don't worry, it's not like you've put your foot in it or anything.

My coat too, if you please...

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Chris King
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Re: Scaling new lows

"Security used to be pants..."

Sophos said something very similar years ago, and they sent my colleague a pair of Y-fronts to prove it. I think they also sent him an odd sock as well !

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What's the first emotion you'd give an AI that might kill you? Yes, fear

Chris King
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Re: Be careful what you wish for...

The Daleks were supposed to be the ultimate evolution of their species, so this is entirely possible.

It also explains Davros... Or should I say "Rupert" ?

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Chris King
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Re: Be careful what you wish for...

Now I think about it further, they're cyborgs anyway, not AI's - but conditioned/taught to treat anything that isn't a Dalek as slaves or target practice. If they're following that conditioning to the letter, is that really hate, or just doing what they're told ? Looks the same if you're on the business end of the gun-stalk, I guess.

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Chris King
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Be careful what you wish for...

"... Let's just keep the AI emotionless?"

"Pity? I have no understanding of the word. It is not registered in my vocabulary bank. EXTERMINATE !!!"

(Can we have a Dalek icon please, El Reg ?)

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Chris King
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"If I was not afraid of incarceration by human authority figures..."

Why am I suddenly reminded of the "I find you unacceptable !" scene from "Coneheads" ?

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How-to terror manuals still being sold by Apple, Amazon, Waterstones

Chris King
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Mushroom

Re: They make great gifts

A-level chemistry textbooks from that era (pre Health and Safety hysteria) contained some pretty hair raising stuff. I had one that contained a method for producing TNT, along with several compounds that are now classed as chemical weapons.

I threw it on a bonfire many years ago, and it burned with an odd-coloured flame...

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Chris King
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Re: Sorry...I don't believe it...

"An Apple rep talking to El Reg. Pics or it didn't happen..."

If we get one it will be a Playmobil pic, to maintain El Reg standards.

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Sysadmin denies boss's request to whitelist smut talk site of which he was a very happy member

Chris King
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Sometimes it's not so much a save, it's more of a gentle push off the edge of a tall cliff...

I once had a prof complain that other people were hogging the campus internet connection and preventing him from doing his "research". He refused to tell me what he was up to, but the firewall and proxy logs sang like a wet, horny canary... From the URL's and Google descriptions, it seemed that he liked to regularly "interview" some of those nice young ladies who charge handsomely for their time, yet never seem to be able to afford a full set of clothes.

I was all set to have a cosy chat with him, and point out that doing this sort of thing from his office was a bad idea - nothing too heavy, I'm not a total prude and I had better things to do than be "porn police".

Unfortunately, he decided to rip me a new orifice in front of his minions.

I handed his secretary a list of the URL's, whispered "I really hope he isn't claiming all this on expenses", and walked out again. Let's just say I never heard another peep out of him after that.

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