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* Posts by AOD

57 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

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Helpdesk/Service Desk Recommendations

AOD

FogBugz

A few years ago we brought in FogBugz to replace a freeware ASP "thing" that somebody thought was a good idea to install.

Of the packages I've seen/used (Jira, Remedy, Service Centre), FogBugz is by far the slickest and you can genuinely use it in place of your Outlook for both logging and responding to mails/issues. So you're not jumping between Outlook (or whatever your mail client is) and your Helpdesk system.

The folks who write it (Fog Creek Software) use it themselves and you have the option of both a hosted solution, or you can get it installed on your own server (Windows or Linux).

There are plenty of keyboard shortcuts to help productivity and the ability to define your own snippets (key shortcuts that get expanded into boilerplate text) is inspired.

There's a 45 day free trial,I'd suggest taking it for a spin and seeing what you think.

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WD 'restoring connections' after WEEK of MyCloud outages

AOD

Re: I knew that there was a reason

Not got any direct experience with WD, but I do have a QNAP NAS that offers a similar sort of facility.

However I've ignored it completely in favour of using the proper VPN option provided by my home router. Fire that up on the laptop or phone and as far as the device is concerned, it's at home.

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BT finally admits its Home Hub router scuppers some VPN connections

AOD

Plusnet

I moved from BE to Plusnet shortly before the $ky purchase of BE was announced.

We've not had any downtime (running on one of their FTTC connections) and we're using our own router. The ISP supplied one is kept for fallback/trouble shooting purposes only.

One the few occasions I've had to contact their tech support, they've been helpful, easy to get hold of and straightforward.

1
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Plusnet shunts blame for dodgy DNS traffic onto customers' routers

AOD

Re: For me there is a basic question

Why are Plusnet users not using the Plusnet provided routers?

Simples, because I wanted something that was more capable and had gigbit ports, oh and would support VPN access and could be easily moved to something like DD-WRT if required.

As for using an ISP's own DNS servers. I stopped doing that years ago when I got my first USB Fujitsu ADSL modem courtesy of Pipex.

In my experience, ISPs DNS servers were usually a point of failure at the most inopportune times. OpenDNS was/is my preferred choice but YMMV.

The PN router is retained as a backup device and for troubleshooting if my ASUS goes belly up.

For the record, my WAN side access is disabled in addition to WAN side ping responses.

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Euro cops on free Wi-Fi not-so-hotspots: For pity's sake, don't use them for email

AOD

Home routers that offer VPN access

I'm doing this with my Asus RT-N16 which although only supporting 2.4Ghz Wireless N connections, allows me to VPN to the interwebs via my home connection.

I've got it setup on the iPhone, the W7 lappies and the Nexus 7 as well. A doddle to setup.

If I want to do anything like online banking over an untrusted wifi connection, on goes the VPN.

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NHS care.data leaflet shovage: Like a 'notice for Earth's demolition' posted to Alpha Centauri

AOD

"Ever thought of going into advertising?"

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Ho, ho, HOLY CR*P, ebuyer! Etailer rates staff on returns REJECTED

AOD

Re: I feel it in the air

I do wish people wouldn't post misleading rubbish about the distance selling regs.

Contrary to some opinions here, the return of an item in original packaging in a condition fit for resale is *not* a requirement of the regs. That doesn't stop some retailers from trying it on but that's the point when a trip to the following site will come in handy:

http://dshub.tradingstandards.gov.uk/

6
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MANUAL STIMULATION: Whack me with some proper documentation

AOD

Re: + signs are valid in email addresses.

@JimmyPage, as somebody with an apostrophe in their surname and a reasonable knowledge of the website innards (having supported a few), it never ceases to amaze how many fall at such a seemingly simple hurdle.

I remember looking at some ASP code years ago and thinking "why the hell are they building the SQL on the fly, why don't they just use parameters instead?"

The other benefit is that it makes you less vulnerable to wonderful things like SQL injection, pause for obligatory xkcd reference:

http://xkcd.com/327/

Oh and when it comes to validating input items on a webpage, please either stop the user from entering the verboten characters in the first place, or even better, make the validation interactive so it checks the field as you're populating it and either shows a cheery green tick or a red frowny face along with a suitably annoying message.

I don't want to get to the bottom of something that resembles a morttgage application only to find out then that my chosen username is taken or that you can't find my fscking address!

Any website that has hacked me off to that extent is simply left behind whilst I Google an alternative that does give a stuff about the UI and HCI side of things.

1
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Down with Unicode! Why 16 bits per character is a right pain in the ASCII

AOD

What else to expect from something as backwards as Delphi? Pining for the days of Turbo Pascal is like pining for the days of Lisp Machines, only without sense and good taste.

If' you're going to have a little rant, please get your facts straight. Delphi evolved from Turbo Pascal but it is a distinct product and a very sophisticated one at that. Please enlighten us as to why you regard Delphi as backward? Do you have direct development experience with it that you can share or is it just that it's non MS and therefore can't be any good?

From experience I can tell you that when it was introduced, it brought features that gave the competition a swift kick to the happy sack, including but not limited to:

A WYSIWYG menu editor for designing your forms. The sad equivalent in VB3 was truly pitiful.

Decent object orientated support in a strongly typed language (Object Pascal).

Support for building applications as a single EXE. No more DLL's to fling around the place if you preferred not to.

3
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EasyJet wanted to fling me off flight for diss tweet, warns cyber-law buff

AOD

Re: Its my aeroplane, its my rules....

His tweet was inciting the mob

Really? The massed fellow travellers/self loading cargo were all avidly glued to Twitter to see what they should do as they passed through the airport? FFS, give me a break.

What exactly was he inciting them to do? Complain, or for those that were British, just sort of grumble a bit or tut under their breath?

Oh and for those of you pointing out the section of Squeezyjet's conditions of carriage that allows them to deny boarding, the most relevant bit I can find is:

19.2.7 You have used threatening, abusive or insulting words to, or have behaved in a threatening, abusive or insulting manner towards, a member of easyJet staff, crew or Airport Staff or a fellow passenger;

From what I can make out, the comment he tweeted was directed at the company, not at any particular individual (eg staff member, crew or Airport Staff). As the company is a legal entity in its own right, it doesn't fall within the definition of individuals given above who may be insulted/abused and cannot therefore be relied upon as grounds to deny boarding.

Oh and for the individual who downvoted the funeral story, you weren't the SG on the desk that day were you?

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AOD
WTF?

Re: Alarm bells

Any provider of goods or services has the right to refuse service to anyone being dick.

Really? Kindly cite the relevant legislation or portion of Easyjet's conditions of carriage that basically state they can deny boarding if they don't like what you're posting about the company.

Take your time...

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AOD

Bad ol' Squeezyjet

First off, +1 for the Free Speech bit. Unless he's breaking any laws (in which case you should involve Plod) then he has every right to criticise as much as he wants.

My own experience with Squeezyjet was similarly crap. A family group including myself were checking in for a flight from Gatwick to Ireland for a funeral and rocked up to the check-in desk at some ungodly hour of the morning.

Me: "Good morning, we're on the "oh whatever it was" to Dublin this morning".

Squeezyjet Gimp:"Good morning sir, hmm, I'm afraid I have some bad news for you this morning" (wink,chortle)

Me: "Really, and just what might that be?" (starting to get annoyed)

SG:"Well sir, I'm sorry to have to tell you that not everybody will be able to get on the flight today!" (pause for effect, then laughs).

Me: (fixing him with a Paddington Bear stare): "I don't find that especially amusing, particularly as we're all travelling to a funeral today. Are you denying boarding to any of our group?"

SG : (looking suitably crestfallen): "No sir."

Me:"Good, then perhaps you'd like to give your pathetic attempt at humour a break and get on with what you're supposed to be doing which is checking us in for the flight, if that's not too much trouble?".

I didn't feel sorry for him at the time and I still don't. Some things just aren't funny and boy did he pick the wrong group of passengers to joke with about denying boarding .

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THE TRUTH about beaver arse milk in your cakes: There's nothing vanilla about vanilla

AOD

Re: Hunt down the villanous abusers of this small rodent. I call for ..

Have a +1 from me for the Poppies reference.

I will now have "Radio P.W.E.I" bouncing around in my head for the rest of the day.

2
0

End of an era as Firefox bins 'blink' tag

AOD
Coffee/keyboard

Re: actually..

Grikath, have an upvote from me for working in a Pratchett reference.

Strictly speaking though, I think you'll find that there would be 3 states the cat would be in.

Alive, dead and bloody furious.

1
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Sky falling: 119,000 Brits flee O2, Be after Murdoch broadband gobble

AOD
Mushroom

Re: Just saying...

Well hey thanks for that constructive addition to the ongoing discussion at hand. There's nothing like a bit of name calling to elevate the proceedings.

Did you have anything to add such as direct experience of either ISP?

For myself, I didn't want to go near $ky because of their fiasco with half speed FTTC connections. I value the reliability of my connection and wanted an ISP with round the clock support who know their stuff and I wouldn't get fleeced to call if there was a problem.

Thus far I've had to engage Plusnet support on one occasion and that was to confirm that what I thought was an outage was actually scheduled maintenance by BT at the exchange (it was during the wee hours so I wasn't inconvenienced per se, just twitchy if it wasn't working by the time the Missus surfaced and had to access her office stuff).

Tip for the day, find out the support contact number(s) and the URL for your ISP's status page and save them both on your phone before you have an outage. Oh, and if they offer a email/twitter/RSS option for status notifications get signed up to those as well. ISPs should really make that part of their signup process.

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AOD

Re: 'Whiff of octogenarian media lord sends 1 in 5 running'

I too recently jumped ship from Be, as luck would have it shortly before the $ky announcement.

Had several happy years with them without a single days outage. Despite the connection not being that fast (typically syncing at around the 12Mbit mark) they provided the service they promised to and had excellent support for the very odd occasion it was required.

The network migration was actually reasonably painless, the trickiest part was the reflashing of their router which otherwise hadn't been touched in terms of firmware since joining. I seem to recall it involved a direct cable connection with a static IP address and the sacrifice of a small mammal to the deity of your choosing.

They never really got their fibre plans together (which makes sense now) so once the CAB at the end our road was finally Infinity enabled earlier this year, we jumped over to Plusnet and are enjoying the 76Mbit connection hugely. This happened literally a week or so before the $ky announcement which when I read it, I recall thinking "Phew!".

Now,normally Be would ask you to return their Speedtouch router after leaving, but when I called them post migration to confirm where to send it back to, they advised "no need to do that any more sir since the recent announcment regarding $ky".

A class act, even to the end and a shining example of how to treat customers.

1
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Linux 3.11 to be known as 'Linux for Workgroups'

AOD
WTF?

Re: Autoexec.bat & Config.sys

You know, even installing 95 was almost an exercise in self abuse.

My second job involved a stack of IBM Thinkpads (way before Lenovo) and a frequent need to reinstall 95 on them due to dipstick salesdroids frequently fscking things up.

My best friends were a stack of Win 95 install disks taller than a Pringle's tin and a lot of patience. See, even if you had a Win 95 CD, from what I remember, once you'd reached a certain point in the install process, it would reboot and start the install in anger. At that point you no longer had a working CD driver (had to re add it later from what I recall). Bit hazy on the exact details as I think my brain has glossed over some of the more horrific details in self preservation.

Our finest hour was one twunt who breezed in on the Friday afternoon of a Bank Holiday weekend with a fscked machine in tow. Said numpty had let his offspring loose on the machine (allegedly!) and it now needed a rebuild. We enquired if it needed to be done before the Bank Holiday and were firmly told "No".

I headed off early and was half way home when I got a call from my boss:

"Hi, you remember that fscked machine you saw earlier today?"

"The one that we're going to rebuild next week?"

"Yes, that's the one, he needs it before close of business today"

"Really? That's not what he said when he came in earlier."

"Yeah, I know. Sorry about that"

So what did we do? Well, there was one guy in our team left in the office but he wasn't a PC guy, his specialty was AS/400s and all that went with them.

Having been through the 95 install process so many times, I told him to grab the Win 95 install discs from our secure storage location (bottom drawer of that storage cabinet opposite your desk mate), grab a coffee and get comfortable.

I then proceeded to walk him through the complete installation process over the phone and the end result was one fully functioning Thinkpad with 95 onboard.

The salesdroid was happy and so was Boss. I was happy I hadn't had to drive back to the office and bugger up my weekend.

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AOD
Thumb Up

Re: Windows 3.x was never an Operating System

Have an upvote from me for mentioning RiscOS. Happy days with my Archimedes A410 at Uni followed by a RiscPC when I graduated.

RiscOS wasn't perfect, it had its flaws (the multi tasking was cooperative so naughty apps could make it unhappy) but some of the stuff was genuinely jaw dropping such as the realtime font anti aliasing that made documents look good on the cuboid multisync monitors of the day. Oh yeah and the same outline fonts used for screen display were used for printing as well.

The RiscOS task manager was quite something as well. You want a RAM disc of a certain size? Sure, click on the relevant section and drag a slider to set how much memory to dedicate to it. Bam, one RAM disc created dynamically.

The thing I found most ironic was that I knew far more about what was going on under the hood in the PCs I was working with commercially than I ever did with my Acorn machines because they just worked.

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AOD
Unhappy

Autoexec.bat & Config.sys

Oh sweet Lord I've just had an awful flashback to those 3.11 days!

Wheezy Compaq 386 machines on a token ring network in my first ever job. The pain that Autoexec.bat and Config.sys imposed upon you when trying to get stuff running on the machines.

I can still recall when the first Dell 486 hit the office. Suddenly the software build task that used to take 90 minutes for a single DLL, now took about 10 mins or less. We were suitably impressed.

Not the good old days, just the old days.

6
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Girls, beer and C++: How to choose the right Comp-Sci degree for you

AOD
Thumb Up

Re: Pascal

> If you can design and code in Pascal, moving on to C/C++ should not be too hard.

I'd agree wholeheartedly with that statement, at least where C is concerned. Our Comp Sci course at Exeter (great scrumpy BTW) spent the bulk of the first year programming module teaching us about classic stepwise refinement, top down analysis and illustrating how to code such things in Pascal (I'd previously learnt Pascal at school) with all the strongly typed variables & nicely setup data structures one would expect.

At the end of the first year they then proceeded to teach us C in a week, on the basis that having learnt about such wonders as functions, loops, data structures and I/O, applying that to another language was (in large part) about the differences in syntax and system libraries for doing useful things. It worked surprisingly well and when I graduated, my first development gig (I landed the job a day before graduating) was working on a CASE tool written in C using SQL under Windows.

C++ is quite different with respect to the object orientated approach it takes which did take some time to get my head around. I think it represents quite a different way of looking at things if you've started with something classic such as Pascal and/or C. I will say this, none of the commercial systems I've seen that were implemented in C++, did so to make what I'll call "good" use of the object orientated features.

Maths as already covered elsewhere was v. important. As the department didn't have its own lecturers, we had our Maths lectures with the other engineering & science students.

I viewed the course as a good introduction to a number of topics that were useful to build upon after graduation. I was lucky in so much as a school friend in the year ahead of me went to Exeter and took the same course. I was able to get the lowdown on how good/bad it was from him and also visited for a couple of days to get a better idea of the campus lifestyle etc.

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We're losing the battle with a government seduced by surveillance

AOD
FAIL

Re: Person Of Interest

A lot of software for one number?

I don't know if you've followed the show since the start but the point of the one number a week (and it's not always just one number either) is that this is all the machine is supposed to be able to communicate to the main characters without detection or arousing suspicion.

So far as it's government overloads are concerned, it's happily detecting acts of terrorism and passing them the details although the show wisely stays away from going into much detail about such acts.

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Amazon yoinks Dora and SpongeBob from Netflix for MEELLLIONS

AOD
Happy

Re: Location is Everything

Not sure how the VPN or UnoTelly option would count as cheating, but the reality is that services such as Netflix etc are beholden to the rights owners/content providers as you mention.

The days when content will be routinely licensed on a global basis are not yet with us, in the meantime it's a case of making the best use of what's already available to us.

Only having experience with Netflix, I will say I was and remain very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the image via the PS3 and ATV2. Our internet connection originally ran at around 11Meg downstream (now 76Meg thanks to FTTC) and I was used to DVDs being upscaled by a broadcast quality scaler (Denon 3930 with the Realta HQV) so Netflix was a real eye opener for me.

Is it perfect? No. But for me its more than good enough that I'm more interested in what I'm watching than trying to see if I can spot banding or chroma upsampling errors.

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AOD
WTF?

Re: Location is Everything

Actually, where Netflix is concerned that's not true.

You can either go down the VPN route to access other Netflix regions or you can try www.unotelly.com (amongst others).

Basically you use their DNS servers to access programs on the Netflix CDN (content delivery network) so you can choose which region you want to see content from. Works like a charm and if you have multiple devices with Netflix clients (eg Apple TV & PS3) you can point one at your "home" region (eg default DNS settings) and the others at the "foreign" region.

This is what I've done so our ATV2 sees Netflix USA whilst the PS3 sees Netflix UK. Oh, and it works with your existing Netflix account, no need for a secondary account or additional billing from them. The UnoTelly bit is chargeable, but at least you have the choice.

I don't work for Netflix or UnoTelly, just a happy customer of both.

Oh, and to anybody saying the playback quality on Netflix is bad, I'd have to disagree. On our Pioneer Kuro (non full HD) the quality is very respectable and is easily equal to if not better in many cases than DVD). That's from the PS3 or the ATV2.

As to the woeful interface, well that's down the manufacturer of the device you're using to watch it on. The interface on both the PS3 and ATV2 is I think pretty good but don't have much experience with other devices in that respect. For example I like the way that the PS3 will cue up the next episode in a series when you hit the end credits of the current episode and starts playing it automatically after a delay unless you intervene. If however the ability to playback Netflix has been "bolted on" to something (eg TV, dvd/blu ray player) then I could believe that the experience is less than entirely slick.

1
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Orange customer clobbered with SIX-FIGURE phone bill

AOD
Joke

4 Geesus

Is this what people mean when they say the 4G tariffs are seriously bad value for money?

Isn't the real story that he had enough signal coverage to download that much data? I wish my Vodafail 3G signal was that solid, although not to the tune of £163k.

0
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Bad Microsoft patch trapped you in a boot loop? Here's your fix

AOD
Facepalm

Re: Sounds like it's more window-dressing than an actual fix

Hmm, Bitlocker.

Not having had the pleasure of this myself (only running lowly W7 Pro 64 which this far appears to have survived this) I'm not familiar with the hoops that Bitlocker makes you jump through.

I can say that when SWMBO's office lappy got hit with a rootkit (why do they run them with local admin rights...), the Truecrypt recovery disc definitely saved the day. It enabled me to completely decrypt the hard drive in situ and then set about fixing the issue (the machine wouldn't boot either).

1
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Microsoft begins automatic Windows 7 SP1 rollout

AOD
WTF?

Never mind SP1, what about IE10?

Last night my Win 7 Pro laptop was automagically updated to IE10 which broke the 1 thing I use IE for, hosting my office remote access software.

A quick trip to the System Restore sorted that one out but grr. I do so hate it when MS insist on labelling their browser upgrades as "essential" updates rather than optional.

I know I could set Windows Update to show me the updates for approval prior to applying them, but it's still tres annoying.

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Build a BONKERS gaming PC

AOD
Stop

Re: So what's the total build cost then?

For folks that are interested in an automotive experience, could I direct you towards the following:

http://www.costco.co.uk/view/product/uk_catalog/cos_5,cos_5.6,cos_5.6.2/140490

Not strictly a PC as such, but I think you'll agree it is suitably bonkers.

I especially admire the part that states:

Price includes delivery, set up and training.

3
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eBay: Our paid Google advertising was a total waste of money

AOD
Thumb Up

Re: Loyal Customer

Have a +1 from me for the Dwarfer reference, although Mr. Flibble's very cross his name didn't get spelt correctly.

1
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En Garde! Villagers FIGHT OFF FRENCH INVASION MENACE

AOD
FAIL

Zis is Night'awk, are you receiving me?

Mon Dieu!

I cannot fathom how the Reg headline writers didn't think that this story was ripe for a bit of 'Allo 'Allo? I mean come on, given the following aspects:

France

Communications

It could almost have written itself, couldn't it?

For the benefit of readers who don't have a clue what I'm wittering on about, feel free to expand your horizons here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/'Allo_'Allo!

4
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Ten four-bay NAS boxes

AOD
Thumb Up

Re: iSCSI

I can't speak for any of the other brands but the QNAP software (I have a TS-410) supports iSCSI, CIFS, NFS and a whole bunch more. It supports dynamic disk expansion so adding more/larger disks doesn't mean you lose access to your data while it does its thing.

As for the whole "why not roll your own" argument, well to be honest, you're paying for the convenience more than anything else. The HP microservers mentioned elsewhere are nice bits of kit, but AFAIK, they don't support hot swapping drives with the stock BIOS (whereas a lot of the NAS units will support hot swapping).

My TS-410 acts as a focal point for our movies (happily feeding multiple Apple TVs running XBMC), stores our photos (which are backed up to S3 and Crashplan) and also acts as a backup destination for our home machines.

It also runs Sickbeard with Sabnzbd and wakes up a hibernating XBMC client via WOL to update the shared mysql media library (also on the QNAP) when something new has arrived.

I spend most of my days solving IT related FUBARs so when I get home, I don't really want to do that all over again. The QNAP is a bit of kit that I can just leave to get on with it knowing that if there is an issue, it will either email me (assuming it can) or I can get some guidance from a helpful user community. The most serious issue I've had with it was when I found it flashing lights on two drives claiming they were degraded/not available (the unit has 4 x 2TB drives running in RAID5). Turned out it was caused by a brief power outage (and the drives were fine after a complete power cycle), following which my next purchase was a UPS to prevent a repeat.

3
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Storing punters' till receipts? UK.gov wants you to hand it over

AOD
WTF?

Some retailers already ahead of the curve...

We recently had cause to pursue a faulty appliance supplied/installed as part of a fitted kitchen which failed spectacularly after less than 3 years of very light usage.

The retailer in question (B&Q) after attempting the usual fobbing off towards the manufacturer (eg "It's out of warranty, why are you annoying us?") finally agreed to refund the purchase price.

That was the good bit, the scary part was when they insisted that the refund could only be applied to the card used by my wife to place the deposit for the kitchen back in 2008. WTF is a retailer doing retaining this level of detail for that period of time? Please don't make me laugh by suggesting that the data is suitably secured either.

Is it really credible that they should be retaining this information on the off chance that they need to issue a refund because they could easily cut a cheque instead.

0
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Chemical giant foils infected USB stick espionage bid

AOD
Thumb Up

More of this sort of thing...

What a refreshing change to hear about users that aren't clueless numpties and a switched on IT department.

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LCD to have killed all* other TV technologies by 2016

AOD
Angel

Re: OLED tomorrow, plasma today

As an owner of two Pioneer plasmas (one Kuro Panel - 508XD and one TV - 436SXE) I've yet to see anything that would make me want to switch. Neither are full HD but they both look pretty good when fed a decent signal either from Blu Ray or $ky HD.

Our reaction to features such as 3D or Smart TV is pretty much "meh!", so unless there's a truly compelling reason to change, there won't be any upgrades round our way for some time.

0
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Europe's prang-phone-in-every-car to cost €5m per life saved

AOD
Unhappy

Re: could cut vehicle thefts also

If only life were that simple...

Several tracker type gizmos can report vehicle location via GSM, however the thieving scrotes just carry a GSM jammer along for the ride which means they don't have to concern themselves about such things.

More sophisticated units can detect jamming and will trigger an alert/alarm, but that's normally held as a selling point for the higher end models.

2
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Brits upscaling their TV buys

AOD
WTF?

Re: Smaller the income, larger the TV

Do you have any research you could point us at to back up this delightfully Daily Fail bit of social comment?

As for the generalisation that large TV sets are vulgar, well, I suppose one will just have to manage with the Pioneer 436SXE (43 inch) in one's master bedroom and the Pioneer Kuro 508XD (50 inch) in one's lounge.

1
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Sysadmins: Your best tale of woe wins a PRIZE

AOD
Thumb Up

Re: EBKAC

The other variant I've seen on that is the "error code",as in:

"It was a code ID10T"

1
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BT to fibre up another 98 exchanges, puffs 'FTTP on demand' offer

AOD
FAIL

Openwound strike again!

As with others, my "available date" has automagically been put back by 3 months yet again.

My cabinet is at the end of our road but we're in a conservation area (Chislehurst) and judging by the planning decisions on the council website, applications for the new fibre cabinets are not going well.

In such a situation, you'd think the sensible thing to do would be to not give a date (the exchange was enabled some time ago), except our area is also covered by Virgin as well.

Coincidence do you think?

0
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RBS collapse details revealed: Arrow points to defective part

AOD
Boffin

Re: Should've

Hi AC,

Have you got a link for any of these fancy new features in Windows Scheduled Tasks? Last time I looked the Windows scheduling facilities were no more advanced than those back in Windows 2000 as detailed here:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb726974.aspx

Sure the snap in under Win 7 and the latest server versions for managing the tasks looks snazzier, but I bet if you export the tasks via the command line to .CSV they'll look the same, eg:

schtasks /query /FO CSV /V > schtasklist.csv

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AOD
WTF?

Re: Should've

Cron, really?

Have you ever had to use a pukka enterprise grade scheduler such as CA7, Autosys, UC4 or Control-M in a production landscape? I could be taking a stab in the dark here but I'm guessing not.

Cron bears as much resemblance to any of these as does say Windows Task scheduler.

They are very different in their modes of operation, resilience (if configured properly) and capabilities.

For one thing, they support the concept of dependencies (eg only run this job once the previous one has completed successfully) and alerting when things don't go to plan.

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'Inexperienced' RBS tech operative's blunder led to banking meltdown

AOD
WTF?

Re: no backup of the schedule?

A more fundamental question to be asked here (speaking as someone who has provided Production support for several banks and seen most of the enterprise schedulers in action, excluding mainframes) is why on earth was the original CA-7 upgrade being performed during the working week?

Changes of this nature should be performed at the weekend so there's some breathing space if things do go pear-shaped.

Of course the fact that they went pear-shaped in the first place is likely down to inadequate testing/preparation for the upgrade itself combined with less than "expert" staff being used to actually perform the upgrade.

1
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Drobo brings RAID, battery backup to the desktop - and the hand

AOD
Mushroom

Repeat after me..

RAID is *not* backup!

1
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Vodafone unfurls booster brolly for mobes

AOD
FAIL

Re: At last!

You're perhaps thinking of the Bulgarian dissident who was jabbed with an umbrella?

The poison in that case wasn't polonium, it was ricin.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2636459.stm

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Oracle staffer accused of sex-for-favours in Singapore

AOD
Joke

Is that what it takes to get a discount out of Oracle these days?

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iPhones, iPads to be FULL OF FACEBOOK and NOT GOOGLE

AOD
Facepalm

Sorry, can't talk right now...

Hmm, some of those call handling options sound very similar to Profiles on older Nokia handsets

I seem to remember an app on my E61 that would do pretty much everything described in terms of call handling/messaging etc and was location aware (granted via cell mast id rather than GPS but at least it didn't nag you to switch on wifi to improve accuracy ).

Was very useful as it would switch profiles when you got into the office or back home or any other location you setup.

Of course if Apple provided the relevant API access then 3rd party devs could have done the same some time ago.

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Ten... freeware gems for new PCs

AOD
Thumb Up

Full disc encryption goodness

+1 for TrueCrypt which I used on my previous XP machine and now on my current (Win 7 Pro, HP Elitebook) rig.

It will do full disc encryption and can take advantage of AES hardware acceleration found in many newer Intel CPUs to help keep the performance up. Even on a Win 7 install with multiple partitions (boot, main win 7, recovery, tools) you can encrypt the main partition without any problems. Even if you don't have the shiny AES instructions available, the performance is still very respectable.

Continuing the disc related theme, a mention has to go to Clonezilla which allows you to perform bare metal backup & recovery. It will also perform deployments and can use multicasting to boost performance. I used it to transfer my Elitebook from the stock HDD to an SSD and once I'd resized the HDD partitions before cloning to the SSD, the process ran like clockwork.

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AOD
Thumb Up

Another security related suggestion...

Excellent suggestions, I'd also add Secunia PSI to this which will monitor your installed apps and ensure they're kept up to date (in some cases automagically updating them for you). It helps reduce the chances of being hit with an exploit for an old version of a piece of software, especially if they're not good at managing their own updates.

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Ten... smartphone survival accessories

AOD
Mushroom

Tumi alternative

A (probably cheaper) alternative to the Tumi can be found here:

http://www.maplin.co.uk/worldwide-travel-adaptor-with-twin-usb-charger-393930

The specs claim it will charge USB devices at 5V up to 1A so you may be able to get away with charging an iPad with this (I'll try this with the wife's iPad when she's not looking)...

Nuke icon in case the experiment doesn't pan out...

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Roku 2 XS IPTV player

AOD
Coffee/keyboard

Apple TV ++

For a streamer, the ATV2 is a decent bit of kit as long as you take the time to jailbreak it and get XBMC on it.

It has Netflix onboard natively, which on our BE broaband connection performs admirably. Quality is good, even on our lounge screen (a 50inch Pioneer Kuro) and we were so happy with it that we picked up another the last time we were in the USA for the master bedroom. I especially liked the fact that they have parental controls as standard so I can decide whether my 6 year old can browse Youtube or not.

Both of them share a central media library based on our NAS, with the XBMC library updating itself via a nettop PC that gets woken from hibernation via wake on lan and then goes back into hibernation once the deed is done. It did take a bit of tinkering to get it running with the shared library and extras but the process for both this and the jailbreak are well documented online.

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Iomega TV with Boxee

AOD
Linux

XBMC ++

The comments for the Revo et al are valid (I have an R6310 sporting Win 7 which I also run a variant of XBMC on called OpenELEC booting off an SD card) but a potentially cheaper (albeit less flexible) option is to get hold of an Apple TV 2, jailbreak it and install XBMC on it. This will handle just about any format you can throw at it (http://xbmc.org).

I'm running two of these streaming media from our QNAP NAS (wired, not wireless before anyone leaps in) and they work like a charm. You do need some basic command line abilities for the initial setup but the process is well documented step by step on various sites.

The bit I like about the ATV2s is that they're relatively cheap (£99 or $99 across the pond), small and have no fans. The fact that they can also stream Netflix as well (recently available in the UK but make sure you have the 4.4.4 software onboard otherwise don't bother) is a bonus. They are limited to 720p and won't output full hi def but as neither of my plasmas are full HD, it doesn't really bother me.

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Complexity killed the IT quality of service ...

AOD
Coffee/keyboard

Can't manage what you don't measure...

I agree that the user experience is important and should be monitored. If possible, you should consider whether it's possible to "bake in" the capturing of suitable performance information from the outset.

One reconciliation system I worked with a few years ago, had the inbuilt ability to record the details of what the user was doing (eg what options they had selected when performing a particular task) along with the time it took to perform and how much information it resulted in). This could then be recorded in a separate database for review/analysis.

All too often the "lone user" performance issue is difficult to quantify "it seems slower than yesterday" with nothing to actually back it up.

Having the details of what the user was doing "Hi Fred, I can see you ran the same report yesterday and it took only 2 seconds longer today..." can be a powerful tool. Once you have that raw data you can start doing more useful things with it (eg is the average time to run a given process creeping up and up over a period and if so, what are you going to do about it).

The view that support folk would like to deal with a significant meltdown in their systems in my experience couldn't be further from the truth. Whilst a frontline L1 helpdesk call handler may not have the time/knowledge/incentive to proactively suggest improvements, if the systems are that complex, they'll be backed up by the relevant L2 application support groups who will have a vested interest in ensuring that improvements are introduced proactively.

At a basic level, it is human nature, if you can do something to reduce the "noise" generated by avoidable support requests then you'll do it. The beneficial side effect is that hopefully the user experience is also improved :-)

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