56 posts • joined 19 Jan 2010
Re: VAX Notes
Blimey, EuroForum is a blast from the past: I still remember how much of my daily schedule that thing accounted for! I never did find the correct timesheet code for it though. :D I wonder if my archives are still readable after all this time...?
I wish I'd experienced DEC under Olson's caretaking: everyone had very fond memories of the company under his stewardship, which was in direct contrast to Palmer's reign. Still, Olsen will be remembered far longer than his successors, and quite rightly; a larger than life figure in every way.
About the only certain thing is that it wasn't very clearly pronounced. I can see how the first and third occurrences could be mistaken for "fuck", though going on to conclude "that's definitely what it said" is perhaps taking it a bit far.
Well done! Sad to see you leaving, though.
Re: Detained by customs
Yeah, same thing happened to a friend and myself when visiting the US for the first time back in the '90s. I have no idea what they wanted; and, I suspect, neither did they: probably the novelty factor of finding the only two non-Americans on the flight and jerking us about. Three hours in 40+ degrees with nothing to drink was a bit of a bummer and not quite the welcome we'd anticipated, though apparently not that uncommon.
Ed Vaizey seems to be one of the worst culprits for leaping on any passing bandwagon that he thinks will help get his face in the paper, unfortunately. I'm not sure he and his ilk have the integrity to care about the effects their more ill-conceived policies have, as long as it keeps bringing in votes from the idiotic contingent of the electorate.
Paid less? In what way?
Is this allegation of lower pay for someone with the same experience and qualifications doing the same number of hours in the same job, or is it just an overall average amongst all men and all women of working age? Because, y'know, one's an honest comparison and one isn't. I'd be disappointed if El Reg is doing the latter: its tendency to not fall for such politically expedient opportunism is something that usually sets it apart from other "news" outlets.
Re: employment contracts
I've wondered the same thing myself. I've had contracts that have stipulated "thou shalt not work in the IT industry for three years following your departure" that left me wondering what I /should/ be doing: stacking shelves at Tesco? Spending three years dead for tax reasons? As it was, I just made it clear that I didn't agree to that and several other bizarre clauses (being responsible for dead co-workers was another) and nobody felt like remonstrating with me, but reading stuff like this I'm rather glad I did amend my contract. Even if it's not enforceable, I can do without the threats and other aggravation.
The Sun, that legendary bastion of morality
Sigh. "Charlie" may be synonymous with cocaine to Sun hacks, but for (most of) the rest of us, it's just a name. Don't they have some alleged "pea-doh" or someone who looks a bit funny to be throwing to the wolves today?
Sometimes facepalming just isn't enough.
Re: "It is a mistake to equate the US Government with the American People."
Sad to see you got so many downvotes for your effort: I agree with you and have seen that as much as the U.S. gov't has repeatedly screwed us over whenever it gets the chance, in stark contrast, the U.S. people have often acted with kindness and sacrifice. Some of us appreciate that, and the occasional reminder is no bad thing.
To the person objecting to the name "PershingDriver", I suspect it references the tank rather than the general.
But as far as the article's subject matter goes, I'm glad the EU has told the U.S. gov't to mind its own business. And maybe it'll earn it more respect than it did successive UK leaders and their habit of brown-nosing them.
Re: Hiring and old HP hand
Pretty much in complete agreement with you there; what surprises me is that someone disagreed strongly enough to downvote your comment. I'm genuinely curious to know what on earth they objected to...
Re: So much for internal security
"Oh wait all those Nigerian cleaners with fake visas got caught."
I'm too knackered to work out whether or not that was a serious comment, but virtually every office I've worked in has had its resident kleptomaniac. The cleaners are often the first to be blamed, but in every occurrence, thefts have tended to occur well before their shifts started. Even when there are keycard-controlled booths or turnstiles people will still try the "someone must've just wandered in off the street" because they don't want to accept that one of their colleagues is a tealeaf.
Re: Is there an English translation?
Good to see the spirit of DEC is still alive and well at HP!
Obviously when I say "good" I mean "extremely sad", but you get the idea.
The more things change, and all that
Much the same thing here when I graduated 20 years ago; my qualifications got me six months' manual labour in a factory! It was a little galling seeing endless tech companies bemoaning the lack of candidates with work experience whilst none of them were prepared to offer it: "come back when you've been working for one/three/five years" being a common response to the dozens if not hundreds of applications I sent off. It was at least small consolation that my situation wasn't unusual, though.
I think most galling of all was being given the choice to do a "useful" HND in computer science or an "alternatively useful" degree in sociology: I went for computer science, only to subsequently find literature from local tech companies typically boasting that all its staff had degrees - but all in sociology and the like. In one particularly egregious example I don't think they had a single technically-qualified member of staff on their IT team.
I'll be the first to admit that not all IT graduates have the sun shining out of their collective arses, but some of the metrics used to recruit staff are even more questionable. Though I also have to admit some of the best staff I've worked with started off as secretaries and receptionists.
I don't currently own any hats. I'm tempted to buy a bunch of them for a laugh but considering how successful the petitions site was, I suspect in the long run I'd just end up with a load of headwear that I don't want.
Paying Sky to be spammed
We currently have a Sky subscription, but thanks to their ludicrous amount of advertising on something we already pay (a lot) for, it's always been on a knife-edge. I suspect that, like us, people subscribe not out of acceptance but thanks to the lack of choice where ad-free channels are concerned, but I can't see the day is that far off when we'll stick two fingers up at them and save ourselves some money and aggravation: even pre-recording stuff and fast-forwarding through the crap every 10 minutes gets old fast.
A rationalised tank
"2.) Europe currently has 3 MBTs under development (EuroLeopard, Leclerc, Challenger). WASTE. Rationalize towards a EuroMBT."
They try to do this on an occasional basis, sometimes involving the Septics too, but it never quite works out thanks to conflicting needs (or at least political machinations in the guise of conflicting needs) tending to drag a workable specification all over the place until it breaks. Even when they just try to adopt certain common standards, such as the "need" for a multi-fuel engine, look what happened: the Chieftain ended up with the export-crippling (albeit technically quite interesting) L60 at the 11th hour while the Germans stuck with their much more workable diesel and the Americans with petrol.
The current situation of technology-sharing is probably the least worst solution, even if it does leave something to be desired, and even then there's the risk it might go in the wrong direction such as suggesting that the Challenger II should use the Rheinmetall gun because of its "increased lethality"; which may be true, but it's something where the cynic in me wonders if it's just because the Americans and Germans use it - though admittedly in part because to my untrained eye it looks a bit of a one-trick pony and, well, the traditionalist in me says it should have rifling, dammit!
It isn't helped in that countries often tend to be rather parochial about this sort of thing, and in the case of the UK the random application of the rationale "it's the best because it's the most expensive" seems to factor in, too. That said, I genuinely quite like the Challenger II. Just a shame it doesn't get more international sales...
But in contradiction to everything I've just written, the British Army historically have certainly not been averse to importing some of their best weapons: looking at small arms, for example, some of the best examples were foreign designs, such as the Bren, the Vickers (even if Sir Maxim did much of the design here), the Lewis, pretty much anything made by FN... though there does seem to be a certain national pride regarding the tank. Nearly as much as subsequently moaning about our own designs! (And "guilty as charged, m'lud").
RIP the tank. Again.
Quite. I've seen the tank's imminent death predicted for as long and as frequently as I've seen Unix described as obsolete and on its way out. I've no doubt people have their reasons for believing it, but it's not going to happen - or if it does, they'll find out the hard way that it still had a job to do, if not today then tomorrow.
Based on the Color Computer?
Was the Dragon actually based on the Tandy Color Computer or just similar to it? I remember this was a bone of contention at the time, with some people claiming it was just a repackaged CoCo and others asserting that any similarities to computers living or dead was purely coincidental.
I suspect both are products of the off-the-shelf BASIC they employed to run on the 6809 which presumably rather limited the supporting chips that were in use; I remember bemoaning the consequent use of the 6847 graphics contraption rather than the BBC Micro's much more capable 6845, for example, but that's rather getting off the point.
Not Orac. Probably.
I seem to recall that this was the popular assumption in the computing press at the time, but I also seem to recall that this was disputed by Oric themselves (or at least a spokesentity of theirs).
Unfortunately, though, I don't *accurately* recall what anybody may have definitely said on the subject! :P I blame old age, since I was already in my teens back then. Though I'd like a Blakes (no apostrophe, talking of typos) 7 association, I suspect it was the invention of a contemporary journalist, sadly.
Re: Dragon 32
I remember being interested in it because it filled that spot between the Spectrum with its nasty "dead flesh" keyboard and the BBC Micro with its nasty price tag! Its main problems were that neither the BASIC nor the graphics were really up to scratch; the BASIC wasn't *terrible*, but it was looking a bit lacklustre by the time of its release and though the screen resolution was okay for the time, the lack of colour options was problematic from a games perspective.
It wasn't all about games, though, and it was certainly an interesting machine, most of all for those who had deep enough pockets to invest in a disc-based system where more "serious" operating systems than the run of the mill such as Flex and OS/9 were available. Sadly, my pockets were only deep enough for a second-hand Bush cassette deck and the joy of wrinkly tapes!
So someone with SAD potentially getting a rude letter to turn off their lights isn't a civil liberties issue? 100 watt incandescent bulbs are already considered contraband, so ludicrous though it sounds, it isn't an unreasonable concern.
What's the betting that insurance companies are (at least in part) responsible for pushing ahead with this whole mess? Nobody else seems quite so obsessed with getting hold of medical data, and previous encounters with them seem to suggest they view it as a right rather than a privilege, with all the rather cavalier attitude that goes alongside such an expectation.
Whether or not it's the case, it's worth opting out on that basis alone. Of course employing a less than conducive method of doing so is par for the course, but it's probably better to play the game to get the desired result than to have to try to clean up the mess afterwards, which if prior experience is anything to go by is neither entertaining nor particularly successful.
Looks quite a bit like something I remember seeing around 25 years back - wasn't the name Hotol, or something along those lines? I forget now. Last I heard was some government type supposedly staking a claim on the design and then sitting on it, in that time-honoured fashion.
I'm astonished (and very pleased) that this really seems to be happening. Yeah, I know the proof of the pudding, etc, but this is further than most pre-election promises seem to get.
What I'd really like is if they go beyond the rubbish enacted by the last government and deal with older rubbish too, such as nuisances like the Gatso: and before the "hur hur, follow the rules, /the rules/!" brigade turns up, my hope is that in doing so we'll actually see patrol cars on the roads once again, which seem to have become an endangered species over the past 20 years. The amount of problems caused by overlooking non-speed-related road nuisances while they're too busy compromising everyone else's privacy hasn't exactly made the country a better place.
The likelihood of seeing the end of ID cards, the DNA database, kids being routinely fingerprinted and so on is an excellent start, though. But that doesn't stop me wishing that they go much further.
I agreed up until the point where you politicised it. But "same shit, different name" arguments aside, we do seem to be facing a major "something must be done" scenario. The question is if anyone will do it on our behalf.
I suspect you may well be right here. If I remember correctly, much the same thing happened with DLC; I may have some of the exact details wrong, but I seem to recall EA's position progressed something like this:
1. Customers who sign up to our online services thus proving they have a legit copy will be rewarded with extra free content in addition to the game.
2. Customers who sign up will gain access to the parts of the content we removed from the retail copy prior to release.
3. Customers who sign up will be able to buy the content we removed from the game prior to its release.
Of course the sales they settled on in version 3 of their "DLC vision" turned out to be very expensive for a given amount of content compared to the original normally-priced game and require the use of their proprietary non-refundable points-based system with its own exchange rate.
Suddenly doesn't sound like such a great deal. Especially as the pirates can still get the lot for free.
And how surprised am I?
Nothing EA does in its anti-consumer crusade surprises me any more. Surprised, no, just saddened that this sort of behaviour continues unabated.
EA would have gone to the wall years ago, unmourned and unlamented, if it didn't buy up highly saleable companies like Bioware that actually worked for their reputation, which it then infects with its unhealthy attitudes.
It seems to be the Kraft Foods of the games world.
I can't tell the difference either (well, between a high-quality ogg and flac in my case) but one thing I did learn to beware of is the problem converting from one format to another: if yesterday's mp3 is re-encoded into today's ogg which is then converted into tomorrow's flavour-of-the-month, you end up with a sort of digital analogue (pun unintended) of cassette-to-cassette recording, where the losses will soon become apparent.
There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth when I decided to go down the flac route years ago: not just because I had to buy more of the then expensive storage, but I'd already encoded a large chunk of my collection twice, first into mp3 and second into ogg. But in hindsight I'm glad I did: the tools for generating mp3s, oggs or whatever aren't exactly transparent, but it's nice having the option without the niggling thought at the back of my head, "I'm going to have to do all that again one day. And so many of them are scratched to buggery."
Sigh: what I find really depressing about remote working isn't the technology choices or lack thereof, but that PHBs still form the biggest obstacle. "If we can't shoulder-surf, we don't believe you're doing any work", regardless of whatever one may or may not produce.
As for the technology itself, back in the day I had a kilostream and a pair of DEC bridges, the remote one needing resetting by an IT bod on average twice a day, leading me to regret not choosing the much bigger and uglier router instead. Access to the intarwebs (such as it was) was provided gratis by the company through their network, which was a workable solution in terms of their own data integrity and kept everyone happy provided I didn't do anything that would also get me booted off an ISP.
But that was 18 years ago, and thanks to the observation in the first paragraph, I've had little chance to see how things have progressed in that time.
Maybe someone should sell the resulting lack of commuting as a "green" issue... nah, it'd make a difference so it would never work.
Re: Hey you
Thanks for that - I was trying to think of what a trip into London made me think of, and that served as a nice reminder. Well, for specific values of "nice" of course.
Re: Evan Harris
That's because, whatever one thinks of his personal agendas, he was a totally crap MP, only answering a lamentable 7% of his correspondence in 2008 for example. As someone in his constituency, I'm glad to see the back of him; I'm no fan of the Conservatives, but hopefully his Tory replacement will actually do something for the area rather than spend all their time getting their face on the telly.
More a case of privacy intrusion
I think I've become deaf to the concern about paedophiles supposedly on every street corner thanks to the tabloids' unhealthy obsession with the subject, but for the sheer scale of the disregard for other people's privacy, I hope they throw the book at the scrotes responsible.
@@An interesting idea
"And Disney should be free to take a Hans Christian Anderson story for free, turn it into a cartoon and own the copyright for ever?"
Yeah, this is something that really sticks in my craw: "we got rich off other people's copyright-expired IP, but we don't want anyone else doing the same". I dunno what I think is worse, Disney's "copyright expiry's for me but not for thee" attitude or the fact that so many people have grown up thinking that Disney's crassly saccharine retelling of old tales are the genuine article.
As an aside, who's been downvoting every response that calls for a modicum of balance? Own up!
I have to admit to a certain amount of schadenfreude at the idea of Microsoft enjoying such quality support. Even though it's not going to do the rest of us any good.
Very sad news. Guy consistently wrote some of the most readable literature in the computing press, always offering some sort of interesting angle that would grab my attention, and seemed a thoroughly decent chap; if I didn't read anything else in PCW, I would still check out his stuff.
Thanks, Guy. You'll be missed.
My memories of this thing aren't especially positive: it seemed to generate a heap of unnecessary and irrelevant paperwork that did nothing to improve coding quality, which actually suffered due to having substantially less time to spend on it and its associated procedures.
Maybe I've just suffered especially bad implementations of ISO9000, but my experiences of working through it being introduced are two-nil to it being entirely counterproductive.
Though I'm certainly not arguing against quality control in general, and competent project managers with the relevant planning and cat-herding skills are worth their weight in gold. Speaking as an end-user as well as a programmer, I'm as aggrieved as anyone at companies that take the "can't be arsed, it'll sell anyway" approach to quality assurance.
Better Instaspeak requested
"Instaspeak: Skip the story - simply click on any headline to comment."
Great idea in principle, but I object to the possibility that I may still inadvertently read the headline before commenting. Not fair!
Not just in the US
> "In Europe you would legally have difficulty working the types of hours that is often expected in the US. There is almost a macho culture of working long hours for the sake of it - obviously still receiving a 40h paycheck. Then there is the 2 weeks of personal vacation."
Well thank random deity for the 48-hour opt-out then, that handy little slip of paper often stapled to (as yet unsigned by the prospective employer) contracts or which the hapless employee is menacingly coerced into signing amidst mutterings of the never-to-be-seen-anyway bonus payments and the ever-looming redundancy programme. I've frequently witnessed people pressured into putting in dozens of extra hours every week for nothing more than the tomfoolery of presenteeism.
The four or five weeks' holiday is nice, though... if you can actually get to take it. Even though some unused holiday can be theoretically carried over, some managers are adept at making their staff jump through such hoops to negotiate when they're allowed to take it that it may as well be as tight-fisted as their US cousins' fortnight off. Of course the time spent at work instead of on one's contracted holiday is about as productively spent as the not-so-voluntary unpaid overtime, i.e. not at all.
I'm just bemused about how all this sort of foolishness came to be accepted as normal.
Still using Pine here, too; well, Alpine at any rate. I still have my yearly ritual of trying to move into the 21st century of graphical excitingness, but invariably give up after a few weeks as they're all more fiddly to use in one way or another. Or several ways, usually.
> "being taken over by BT made them shit."
I'd like to blame BT, but I don't think they're the culprits here: and though BT aren't exactly paragons of good customer service either, they're probably still a big improvement over what Dabs' customers had become used to. Dabs had become pretty diabolical a good couple of years before BT appeared on the scene in 2006. Or rather a bad couple of years, if my memories of trying to get them to take back defective stock are anything to go by... Dabs must've lost a lot of customers during that time due to their habit of jerking them about.
Re: Worst ever mail-order company
I can think of a few other candidates for "worst ever", but Dabs were pretty seriously awful. Strange, because many years ago, their customer service department were actually very helpful, but five or six years back they became crap beyond belief. Maybe their performance was inversely proportional to their illustrious leader's drug intake and the assorted hangers-on that tend to come along with that sort of thing; all I know is that trying to get them to sort out even the most basic problem was an excruciating and interminable experience. It'd be interesting to see if they've improved since he sold the company, but I won't be first in line to find out.
Then again, the same thing happened to Simply Computers when they were rebranded as Misco: "New! Now with no customer service."
> "The idea behind social search is that we surface content from your social circle,"
That's nice. Anybody know what the hell he's going on about, though?
Sigh. At least he didn't say "leverage" or "paradigm". Unless I just missed it.
No Archer, no business case. End of story. He's the author that all the literary greats such as Shakespeare, Plato and Hubbard looked up to. Look, if you can say "thousands of authors asked to be excluded from the project ... Wells, Kipling" etc then I don't see why I can't do the same!
Sigh, I remember when Archer was just the Conservatives' resident buffoon, before he became the man whose glare could turn even Mandy into stone.
Bloody hell - £430? I'm not getting into any "x is better than y" arguments here, I'm just astonished at the size of the wad they expect punters to hand over. My flabber is well and truly gasted.
For some reason I misread "Soda Stream" as "cream soda": the thought of a sort of weird barley wine whisky hybrid mixed with cream soda is... well, it's... actually, words fail me.
Words don't fail the Soda Stream contraption I had as a kid, though: it was made of fail, as was that horrid, bitter, syrupy diarrhoea substitute that you'd get in place of cola. That the perpetually almost empty CO2 cylinder would half-heartedly make even more flat than before it started. The '70s were great, but the Soda Stream didn't really contribute to their greatness.
Er, where were we? Oh yeah, frightening beer. I think I'll view that one as a spectator sport.
Re: can it understand Geordie?
Actually this technique was used by radio operators during WWII to confound German eavesdroppers whose English language skills tended to begin and end with an understanding of RP: though not guaranteed to trip them up, it was still reputed to be rather effective.
Stating the bleedin' obvious
> "Quite what gives chips this magical power is uncertain. Green offered: “There are a number of possible nutritional and psychological mechanisms which could explain the mood changes after eating chips. It may be down to the biological effects of nutritional components on brain chemistry, or simply a pleasurable oro-stimulatory sensation, triggered by the way chips taste.”"
I was musing over this, and thinking that the improvement in mood may be due to serotonin or tryptophan or blight or smeg or whatever it is that potatoes are made of, but then it came to me: "a pleasurable oro-stimulatory sensation, triggered by the way chips taste." And in those exact words, no less. Yes, you read it here first, apparently: people feel happier when they eat something tasty. As opposed to some execrable rubbish like salad.
Of course chips were better in the olden days, when they were cooked in dripping and served in newspaper and you'd just done a 26 hour shift down pit etc.
Re: Sylvester McCoy
In spite of his random wibbling on politics, I always thought he had the potential to be a decent Doctor, if only his scripts weren't almost uniformly appalling and the special effects budget consisting of whatever Blue Peter had assembled the previous week. The only likely conspiracy I see is Michael Grade arranging for it to be crap so he could say "look how crap it is! Let's cancel it" because he personally disliked the show.
Well thanks for this article: I now have the stirrings of some memories of post Tom Baker Who. They're not pleasant.
Eric the title
> "In fairness, 14-odd years in IT and the best boss I've had to date was a woman."
One of my best bosses was also a woman. Mainly because she never turned up, other than the one occasion she announced she was now in charge. Six months of bliss, not being interfered with by one of our legion of PHBs.
There does seem to be a better correlation between the effectiveness of a boss and their (in)attendance than any other factor, at least in my experience.
"Real" RAM vs. "toy" RAM
That's all very nice, but since my budget stretches to toy computers, toy RAM is what I end up with. Lots of reasons not to like PCs, but lots of currency-shaped reasons not to buy something better.
- NASA boffin: RIDDLE of odd BULGE FOUND on MOON is SOLVED
- Pic Mars rover 2020: Oxygen generation and 6 more amazing experiments
- Microsoft's Euro cloud darkens: US FEDS can dig into foreign servers
- Plug and PREY: Hackers reprogram USB drives to silently infect PCs
- Boffins spot weirder quantum capers as neutrons take the high road, spin takes the low