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* Posts by Peter Gathercole

1845 posts • joined 15 Jun 2007

How the iPad ruined the lives of IT architects

Peter Gathercole
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It's a simple balance...

...availability vs. cost.

There have been highly available and even un-interruptible services around, but you have to pay for them, and they don't come cheap. Nor do the staff to set them up and run them.

Microsoft probably have an HA offering now, but I expect that even they will charge a premium.

Segregating the function, so that you can put your information distribution systems on simple, small, cheap, and redundant servers in front of your actual service machines can help with the appearance of a service being available (as well as increasing the security), but if you truly want high availability, it's going to cost.

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Animal Liberation drone surveillance plan draws fire

Peter Gathercole
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"shoot the drone out of the sky"

He's obviously not seen birdshot in action fired from a shotgun. If you can hit a clay pigeon or a bird at 20 metres, you should be able to do enough damage to bring one of these 'copters down, which is within the range of most shotguns.

And if they tried to retrieve it, that would be trespass.

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World's first petaflops super dumped on scrap heap

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Paying to keep it running.

The heat that comes out of these systems is regarded a low-grade. What this means is that the temperature differential is not high enough to make it particularly practical to use.

Roadrunner is air-cooled (see the picture, spot the hot-cold aisles and no water-cooled rear doors), so the the heat will be picked up by the air handlers.

I've worked with 2 generations of IBM was water-cooled supers, and the output temperature of the water is around 25 degrees centigrade (although slightly hotter for the newer system). This is colder than the ambient temperature of the halls (it's a power concious organisation that is experimenting with running the machine rooms hotter than you would normally expect to save power). This makes it less than luke warm, and certainly not hot enough to even heat the water to wash your hands. The cooling works by cooling the water before sending it to the super (input temperature around 13 degrees centigrade), so the cooling was actually at the wrong end.

Of course, you could use heat-pumps to concentrate the heat, like ground water heaters, but there is a law of diminishing returns operating. If it takes more electrical power to concentrate the head than would be necessary to directly generate the same amount of heat, there is no gain.

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Peter Gathercole
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Boffin

"Think of all the copper"

is not that appropriate as a title for a picture showing fibre cables! Those are fibre Infiniband cables, with electro-optical transceivers (like SFPs) at both ends. The colour is a dead give-away.

Undoubtedly there will be quite a lot of copper in the system, but not in the picture.

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Oracle's new T5 Sparcs boost scalability in chip and chassis

Peter Gathercole
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Boffin

Re: Kebabfart M5-32 is not the only one with 32TB RAM

I would dispute that seti@home is an HPC workload. It is a distributed workload, partitioned into units that can be worked on in isolation from each other.

There is a huge difference between a distributed workload and a proper HPC workload, and people like weather agencies, atomic research institutions etc. would be only too happy to explain.

Proper HPC needs a huge interconnect, so that a single model can be broken down into multiple threads spanning many systems, all passing data between each other.

BTW, IBM P7 795s are quite cool, but P7 775s are even cooler (literally, water cooled cooler!). I know, because I work with a couple of clusters worth.

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I am NOT a PC repair man. I will NOT get your iPad working

Peter Gathercole
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Re: As far as my neighbours are concerned

It's not impossible. I can claim both in my experience (it's even on my CV)!

(Historically, UTS and AT&T R&D UNIX on Amdahl mainframes, AIX/370 on IBM mainframes, and two generations of IBM HPC where I currently work!)

Currently, I don't think there is any mainframe proper sold with UNIX, although Linux would not be a problem. I don't count HP Integrity Superdome or the IBM 795s as mainframes.

But having said that, I still get asked about PCs. My stock answer is "PCs, horrible little systems. I can't stand them!"

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Peter Gathercole
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Stop

@Ross K - Don't be dense!

Each direction of my daily commute takes me 75-90 minutes to travel 42 miles.

It's not traffic that slows me down, it's the fact that there is not a single stretch of dual carriadge way or better, and there are things like towns and villages to drive through with speed restrictions, tractors and other farm machinery, caravans, sheep, cyclists and even the odd tourist who thinks that doing 25 on a national speed limit country road because it's pretty does not worry the people behind them who cannot pass because they cannot see far enough ahead to pass safely.

Just because you may be able to jump on a motorway and burn along at 80 does not mean that everybody can!

My lifestyle is my choice, I admit, and I put up with the drive because it's actually a nice place to live with many other benefits, but sometimes it does get too much.

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iPads in education: Not actually evil, but pretty close

Peter Gathercole
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Re: modern technology @dz-015

Why? Because some of them may actually think of working in the field, and they cannot make a decision about whether they would be able to until they have relevant knowledge. It's truly shocking how little almost all kids know about how computers work when they leave school.

I'm not saying that there is no value to iPads, but that there are better ways to obtain the skills. In their day, BBC micros could do representative actions for almost the whole spectrum of contemporary computing skills (I know, I built and ran a lab of them in the early '80s at Newcastle Polytechnic that was used to teach computer appreciation), as well as learning to program. I used it to teach structured programming in BBC Basic and Pascal, assembler programming, word processing, spreadsheets, graphics (including basic design using a digitiser, WIMP and touch screens), robotics, basic networking (putting an oscilloscope on the Econet cable was a real eye opener for the students), and many more things than I can remember.

Tablets can do some of these, but I think that as a representative computing device, they are poor. It really does depend on whether they are the ONLY devices available in the schools.

Photo, music and video editing can be done, but would be better on a machine with more memory and disk, for anything except the smallest project.

For an art and design tool, something that had the accuracy of a Wacom digitiser is essential.

And about cooking a steak. You don't need to know how to farm just like you don't need to know how to fabricate a CPU or memory chip, but you need to know how to use the cooker, pans an utensils in order to perform the creative culinary part of cooking. Using an iPad is like knowing what seasoning to use.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: modern technology @dz-015

The amount of 'learning' necessary to get an iPad working is minimal. The one good thing about what Apple have done is to make it so any fool can use one with little to no training. And even if they did not have one provided by the school, a large majority of kids will learn transferable skills from their own devices. If there is any benefit, it will be having a standardized device for distributing learning material, but there are other probably for more practical and better value devices for this.

Owning a tablet myself, I can understand that using a media consumption device may be useful, but I actually don't find it very useful for my work, because of the difficulty of getting information on and off because of the (very sensible) security policies of where I work. Schools would be no different, especially when you use such a controlled device as an iPad without some sort of relaxation of the restrictions. So unless you categorize learning as another type of consuming media (maybe it is), I find that the overall value of providing iPads is poor compared to other uses for the money.

Over the years, I've seen technological aids used in teaching, using slide and film projectors, television, video-recorders, audio tape based language, micro-film and fiche based interactive courses and finally various generations of computer based training. But do they work better than a good teacher and appropriate books? I'm not sure, and I think back to the most memorable years of school when a sometimes boring subject was brought to life by a capable and enthusiastic teacher with nothing more than a blackboard and text books.

Give the kids an appropriate understanding of how they (computing devices) work, together with the correct amount of other real life skills (reading, writing, basic maths, contemporary history, nutrition), and that will be a much better use of time and resource.

I am still waiting for the delivery of the promise of natural language recognition combined with Artificial Intelligence (always 5 years away for the last 30 or so) that will make interacting with your information system like interacting with another person. When we get this, all this crap about learning how to use a computing device will become obsolete, and we can go back to learning useful knowledge rather than teaching the current in-vogue fad!

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Peter Gathercole
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Mushroom

"Specialist Technology College"

My youngest is doing A levels at what is described as a "Specialist Technology College".

I got a text last Thursday asking him to attend a special session in the Media centre.

When he came home, he had been told that because of a "computer failure", all of this years assessed media work would have to be redone, because it had all been lost. His timetabe for this week was suspended, and he was expected to spend the whole week just catching up.

Whatever "computer" they were talking about was not the only failure.

Icon speaks for itself.

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Are the PCs all getting a bit old at your office? You're not alone

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Congratulations PC makers!

Back in the Mid '90s (around the time of the Pentium 90), I looked after some older IBM PS/2 Model 80s, which had 25MHz 386DX processors (they really were cutting edge at one time). I also had access to OS/2 running on various systems.

IIRC, there was a dancing animals (birds and monkeys) video shipped with OS/2 Warp that I managed to run on the PS/2s (AIX PS/2 with xanim ported, again IIRC). It was pretty low resolution, and the extension was .avi, although I don't know what the codec was (do I still have an OS/2 Warp install CD to find out - I must check), and these systems did not have sound cards, but they were running video. If they could do compressed video, I'm sure they would have been able to do MP3 audio.

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Oi, Microsoft, where's my effin' toolbar gone?

Peter Gathercole
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Boffin

Re: Death of the sensible UI

I say go back to troff, tbl, eqn, pic and ms or mm macros, edited using emacs.

No, seriously. I mean it. Take that straight-jacket off of me! I'm a retro-technologist, not mad!

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Software bug halts Curiosity: Nuke lab bot in safe mode

Peter Gathercole
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Pint

Re: Can you imagine the stress...

Actually, the couple of times I've seen someone do a recursive delete of / on a UNIX box (rm==UNIX/Linux) has not caused the system to reboot. What happens (at least on AIX) is that as soon as you hit /usr/lib and /lib, and wipe out some of the shared libraries, the system becomes largely unresponsive, but does not reboot. You end up not being able to log in or issue remote commands, and anything that spawns a new process that is not already running fails with exec errors. This largely happens unnoticed, unless you happen to have an open session. The system just seems to die, but still responds to icmp echo requests because of IP offload to the network adaptors.

Mind you, the next step of physically rebooting the system fails, with the system stopping before it's able to even start init. Again, on AIX, IIRC, it stops with something like 553 on the LCD display (which shows how long it has been since I saw this, as LCD codes on modern Power systems normally display 4 digits now), which normally means that it can't mount the /usr filesystem, but in this case means that it can't even run the mount command. I expect something similar but specific to the flavour of *NIX on other systems.

Time to reach for that system backup that you took. Or a pint to help you consider your options!

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Mark Shuttleworth: Canonical leads Ubuntu, not 'your whims'

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Guess that includes me then @Connor

I started reading your comment, and had to check that I was not the author. I've taken exactly the same route, right up to accepting Unity on Precise (12.04).

My Laptop is old. It's not that powerful, but it is mine and it works, and I would prefer to not have to replace it at the moment. It worked fine with Gnome 2 on Lucid, although Compiz worked better with Hardy (KMS implemented in the kernel in Lucid and other distro's broke certain ATI drivers)

It runs Unity 2D, but the experience is awful, both because it is not the full-fat version, and because the performance is crap. Same KMS issue as Lucid preventing composite rendering, probably.

So, I've put Gnome 3 with Cinnamon on (just install the package, and select at logon). I would prefer for it to be offered as a choice during install, but I can stay with Ubuntu and remain current enough without having to change the way I work. So far, I've managed to keep it sufficiently like I want it.

I'm not sure that Unity will ever allow me to work the way I want to as it handles windows in a completely foreign way to what I want to do, but I guess that time will tell.

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First C compiler pops up on Github

Peter Gathercole
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Boffin

Re: Allow me @Phil

Bell Labs PDP11 UNIX V7 and earlier did not have any support for overlays. I worked with them on RSX-11M, so I understand what you are talking about.

As far as I am aware, there was some prototype overlay code in the later BSD PDP11 releases, but it would only work on a machine with 22 bit addressing and separate Instruction and Data space (I&D) machines (11/70, 11/44 and later systems). Before this, the standard trick used for large software programs (and I saw this done for the BSD release of Ingres) was to split large programs into several executables, and use some proto-IPC interface to spread the function around. IIRC, Ingres from a BSD 2.3 tape used named pipes. Shared memory and message queues were all in the future, but I believe that the was a primitive semaphore implementation in UNIX V7. Have to look to find out.

There was some work done by Keele University in the UK to produce an overlay loader for UNIX V7 on PDP11s, which I managed to get working on my Systime 5000E (a strange beast, being a PDP11/34E [normally 18 bit addressing, no I&D], but actually with 22 bit addressing added by Systime). I used it with some success, but I never managed to get VI working on my small machine. It was all good fun, as was debugging the Calgary device buffer modifications to maximise the number of device drivers you could compile into the kernel on this 22bit non-I&D machine. Out of the box, the mods assumed that if you had 22 bit addressing, you had to have separate I&D spaces, because no DEC PDP11 did not.

Fun times, long gone.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: I'll delve into my archives ...

I would have thought that the Berkeley code would be re-distributable. The Berkeley software license was pretty permissive from the work go.

I'd love to know about the UnixTSS myself. Not because I have any (I obeyed the rules and always left it behind when I changed jobs), but I would love to see some of it again, especially the STREAMS and RFS code.

I just wish I had taken copies of the Bell Labs V6 PDP11 distribution, and the BSD 2.1 and 2.3 tapes I worked with in the very early '80s. I know that V7 and a later PDP-11 BSD tape images are available, but by that time, they were already getting difficult to work with on non-separate PDP11 systems.

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Tesco: Every little (effort to kill Amazon, Spotify) helps

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Half-hearted.

And it does not work on Linux, and did not on Android devices last time I looked.

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Twenty classic arcade games

Peter Gathercole
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Mushroom

Re: Missile Command anyone?

I used to be pretty good at Missile Command. Was certainly on the High-Score table most times anywhere I played, and often at the top.

One day I cam to my favourite machine (with the smoothest track ball), and there was a stranger playing. I watched him clock the machine (twice, IIRC), have cities stacked up across the screen, and then get bored after about 45 minutes and walk away before he was wiped out (in fact, before he even started losing significant numbers of cities). You would not believe how erratic the intelligent mines became, and yet he could hit them. I think he must have maxed out the difficulty levels, and the machine started using more and more lurid colour combinations to put him off.

I never saw him again, and I lost all interest in playing, knowing that I could NEVER be that good. In fact, that was pretty much the end of me spending time in Arcades.

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Keyboard, you're not my type

Peter Gathercole
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IBM Model M

People are talking about Mechanical and Model M in the same comments. As a complete fan of the IBM Model M, I was actually disappointed to find when I tried to clean some Tizer or Irn Bru from one of mine (that child of mine will never be fully forgiven) that once you get through the deep hex head screws and plastic welded lugs, what sits under the buckling spring mechanism is still a membrane keyboard, just with the aforementioned spring and plastic rocker sitting on top.

So no microswitches (in fact, I'm not really sure any keyboard used microswitches), although keyboards from the late 1970's and 1980's had discrete push-to-make release-to-break key switches soldered directly onto PCBs. My Issue 3 BBC micro ended up with more solder on the back of the keyboard PBC than metal track, because the repeated strain on the soldered pins would lift the PCB track from the board, and break it.

I remember Newbury Data RS232 terminals from my time a University having the same problem. You would often find one with the 'return' key nor working, which everybody avoided, but could still be used with Ctrl-M instead!

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Pricey mainframes, hyperscale boxes boost Q4 server sales

Peter Gathercole
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And another point

How does the Windows market share get measures. Is there a chance that it measures the number of systems sold with Windows, rather than the number that actually run Windows?

I know that most large businesses can buy Intel systems without a Windows license, but does anybody have any idea of how many actually do rather than just junking any pre-installed windows installation and reformatting the disk?

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Peter Gathercole
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Colours

Blimy. On my monitor, it's difficult to see the difference between the bright red and bright pink on the market-share charts. Never mind, neither look particularly important,

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Apple 'insider' explains why vid adapter hides ARM computer

Peter Gathercole
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Re: I wonder if you can hack the cable...

A cable virus! Load it into the cable and it back-hacks the iDevice.

I believe that there was some concern about FireWire some time back, and some speculation that Lightening may be vulnerable in the same way through RDMA. Anybody remember whether these fears were proved groundless?

Mind you, as the software had to be loaded from the iDevice in the first place, you you would need to get it past Apples App. police.

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Best Buy takes axe to touchy Windows 8 PCs - lops $100 off price

Peter Gathercole
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Coat

@Hans 1

Not sure whether you were commenting to me, but I have known users who worked entirely from inside Emacs.

Before the advent of WIMP, the multi-window, multi-buffer and electric modes for Emacs allowed users to run a shell (using Emacs as the command editor), read their mail and news groups (there were mail and news clients written in Lisp), compile and debug their code, and even run NetHack from inside an Emacs window on a serial terminal that had a termcap definition (you know, something like a VT100/220 compatible, I won't call it dumb because termcap defined a dumb terminal as one that could not do cursor addressing).

The extensibility of Emacs was legendary, something that has surely been forgotten over the years.

You young whipper-snappers just don't know how easy you have it grumble grumble....

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Peter Gathercole
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Happy

But the integrated editor is horrible

Made me laugh out loud! Embarrassing when at work.

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Peter Gathercole
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Happy

Re: Discounting the cheap boxes

My goodness. At this rate with the keyboard shortcuts, we'll be able to pitch a comeback for Emacs!

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Strategic SIEGE ROBOTS defeated by 'heavily intoxicated' man, 62

Peter Gathercole
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Re: pretty stupid robots eh

This used to be a 'lost' Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy episode linking the first to the second radio series. It was only broadcast twice originally, and then disappeared from the airways as it was neither in series 1 nor series 2. I recorded it

It's since made it into the CD collections fortunately.

What I like is when Marvin is left to delay a Frogstar D. Can you guess with what weapons? Something pretty devestating surely? No, nothing.

IIRC, his last comment as the Hitch-Hikers offices collapse around him after being destroyed by a neutron-ram is "What a depressingly stupid robot"

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So you won a 4G licence. The Freeview interference squad wants a word

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Sigh @everyone who replied

The C4 signal from Wenvoe is quite bad, and C4 appears at a different position (FV channel 8 between BBC3 and BBC4?), and not all FV boxes allow you to manually re-number channels.

I'd spotted the rescan myself after I'd posted. I must admit that rescanning is getting depressingly frequent, especially on my older FV boxes that don't do it automatically.

The splitter boxes are intended for multi-occupancy buildings (which I suppose my house is at the moment) and are quite expensive. If it were really that simple, you would not be able to buy 8 port LNBs.

And even if I did become eligible for AT800, and they agreed to fund an intelligent splitter and/or install the wiring, the disruption of laying cables over the whole of the house would be horrible.

I'm just hoping that I will not be affected. Only time will tell.

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Peter Gathercole
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Flame

Re: Sigh

And someone will pay to replace my multi-outlet TV amplifier in the loft that feeds all of the room in the house?

We need this because in West Somerset (in England), the closest transmitter is Wenvoe (in Wales), and I prefer not to get programs in a language I don't understand (I suppose that I could learn Welsh...), but that would still mean that I got S4C not Channel 4, and also that I would get Welsh news, weather etc. I had enough of that when I was working in Swansea.

So. I point my aerials at Mendip, and the signal strength even since switchover is marginal without an amplifier.

I do get fed up when people assume that you've only one TV in the house, and suggest a single solution like "buy Freesat or Sky" will only do that one TV. If I were to provide separate satellite boxes on every TV in the house (my kids are all grown up but living at home [unfortunately], and have their own TVs in their bedrooms), it would cost a fortune, and I would need at least an 8 port LNB, plus lots of point-to-point wiring.

I need Freeview to work, and as all of our channels are at the top end (we're still getting the multiplex with BBC1 on channel 61 at the moment, so will have to retune again at some point I guess), it is very likely we will be affected. And there is no cable installation.

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Microsoft: Office 2013 license is for just one PC, FOREVER

Peter Gathercole
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Re: if you don't own the software..

You've already given them that right. It's in the Windows EULA.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: How does this work for upgrades... what's the dentition of a computer...

For Windows, MS calculate hashs of information about a number of different components in a system (processor, memory, network card, display adapter, disk and controllers, BIOS signature and many others), and actually stores this on their systems as well as in hidden and protected files that not even an Admin user can change. When you change components, the checking process tries to work out how much of the system has changed, and either allows the change or deems it a different computer and asks for re-authentication. It's been like this since XP. It allows you to change processors, disks and display adaptors with relative impunity.

Unfortunately, now that PCs have heavily integrated motherboards, most of the components Windows check are actually on the mobo. This means that changing that is almost certainly going to trip the 'it's a new computer' check, and has done for much of the last decade. The Microsoft Licensing Centre have been fairly good about this in the past if you've cared to explain, and issued the new authentication strings if requested, but I suspect that is likely to change.

I suspect that Office will plug into that process, bearing in mind Windows already does in the Genuine Windows (dis-)Advantage tool, and non 365 Office only runs on Windows.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: You have got to be jesting @Marshalltown

I'm nit-picking here, but if all you have to use is an MS file format, that does not prohibit you using OO or LO.

Of course, if they also want the file to be formatted the same, then you should really avoid MS file formats completely. (Did you notice? Changing the target printer often upsets the careful formatting even in the same version of Word!)

If you definitely want to make sure a documents looks correct, you really need to use a proper page description language.

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Peter Gathercole
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Facepalm

@Wensleydale Cheese

Ah, but you probably can't use the Windows license that came with the computer in the VM. Microsoft were very careful about the time it changed the EULA for Vista to only allow the higher tier of Windows licences (did they call it ultimate or elite or something like that) in a VM.

If you bought any system pre-built and pre-installed, it is exceptionally unlikely that you had this type of Windows license with it.

As you can probably tell, I'm not a Windows user myself, although I did peruse the EULA for Win7 when I built my youngest kids PCs. There's a lot in the various MS EULA that I don't like (particularly about gathering and sharing information about you), but the kids wanted to be able to run mainstream games, so what choice did I have.

My favourite clause of ridicule in a MS EULA was in the XP Home one, which tried to limit the number of systems (unspecified what constituted a system) on a home network to 5 or less by prohibiting you from connecting to more than 4 other systems from a computer running XP Home, but then XP itself trawling the what it could see and trying to stick it's fingers into anything it found. Completely unenforceable clause. The one for the old Microsoft Intellitype keyboard (seriously, an EULA for a keyboard! - well strictly for the driver software although it was stuck to the back of the keyboard) was a hoot as well.

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Peter Gathercole
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Devil

Re: Same case for a decade?

BTX - What a waste of time!

My brother brought me a Dell something-or-other that had stopped working and he wanted fixing. No problem says I, and open the case.

Hmm, something wrong here, everything's arse about face. Ahhh. BTX mobo.

Could I find anything either retail, eBay or other tat bizarre. No.

Could not even reuse the case. Stripped the reusable bits and scrapped what remained.

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Ubuntu? Fedora? Mint? Debian? We'll find you the right Linux to swallow

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Raspberry Pi @Nick Pettefar

Don't get me wrong. I'm System V through-and-through, but you have to regrettably admit that it's pretty dead now.

OK, Solaris and AIX are still mainly System V versions of UNIX, but I can't see IBM doing an R-Pi port of AIX any time soon, and I think that the license for OpenSolaris would prohibit a port.

In case you hadn't noticed, UnixWare (the last linear descendent of the Bell/AT&T code) of pretty much died with SCO, and any chance for a reversion to Novell died when it got subsumed into Attachmate. That pretty much killed any chance of a new System V variant.

And there's an interesting point. I wonder who you would approach if you wanted to become a new System V source licensee? The OpenGroup?

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Peter Gathercole
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@Vic re Amarok

Agree on Amarok. When I did a dist-upgrade of my Ubuntu desktop box from Hardy to Lucid it did the 1.4-to-2.something upgrade for me, and I was lost for weeks trying restore all of my music.

The bugs are mostly fixed now (at least the ones that were affecting me), but I still find it bloody annoying to maintain music on an external device. It was sooooooo much easier with 1.4.

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Peter Gathercole
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@dajames

I overlooked that one (and that is strange, because I had the exact same problem with TomTom myself). Ironically, I also have problems updating my Android Phone and Tablet because the installers both need Windows (although I think the tablet could be done using an update stored on the micro-sd card if I tried hard).

But I would also wonder whether the myTomTom (or whatever it is called) would suffer the same problem as S-OED that you mention.

So, how do we pressure these shortsighted vendors to provide native Linux apps? They'll have to something to cater for tablet filled PC free households at some point.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Right. @Seanmon

Tried any Windows install from Microsoft provided (i.e. not vendor supplied recovery) media recently? If so, did every bit of hardware work, especially on a laptop? What! You've never installed Windows yourself? Then you're not qualified to comment.

From experience, I absolutely know that Ubuntu or Mint will be able to use more hardware from generic install media that Windows without the vendors drivers disks.

What you are complaining about is that you can't get a system with Linux installed.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: "Comfortable with the terminal" @Prio

Did you check that your DVD drive worked and the disk was readable in it? This is the biggest problem I get when trying to use older systems. They may load the bootstrap, but get stuck further in on the disk. Does Mint have a 'Check Media' menu item on the boot strap?

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Peter Gathercole
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@Gray

I can only assume that you've never used a modern Linux.

All mainstream distros on mainstream hardware will do pretty much everything a home user would want to do out of the box, with the possible exception of patent restricted file formats, and there is no way in hell that you can blame the Linux community for that problem.

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Clarkson: 'I WILL find and KILL the spammers who hacked me'

Peter Gathercole
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Re: I don't mind being compared by age...

I have an working knowledge of an internal combustion engine as well, but I don't have greying hair in common. This is despite my being only about two months younger than Jeremy, and is neither because I am bald nor is it because I use dye.

I sympathise with my follicaly or pigmentaly challenged compatriots.

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Review: HP Spectre XT TouchSmart

Peter Gathercole
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Unhappy

@Sandtitz

..... only there aren't any. List me a current laptop that has a 4x3 screen that fills the entire lid of the the laptop. I've tried to find one, and I can't.

It's funny that 7 years ago, my needs were quite mainstream. My requirements have evolved (faster processor, more memory, bigger disk, better graphics adapter), but the manufacturers have moved in a completely different direction (shiny, wide-screen aspect ratio, no optical media, bigger or smaller form-factor).

So in order to remain mainstream, I have to change, right?

I'll go back to my cave now, as it seems like I belong with the Dinosaurs.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Why do I feel so alienated by the PC manufacturers @AC 10:30.

If you look at my other posts, I've been a Thinkpad user for over 10 years.

What I would like would be something with the form factor of a T23, the 4x3, 1440x900 resolution of some of the T43 and T60 models, but a better processor than either of those.

I'll probably have to look for a second-hand T60 at some point, and see how long that will last me.

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Peter Gathercole
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Why do I feel so alienated by the PC manufacturers

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that I can see about this machine that would encourage me to buy one to replace my current laptop. It's -

- Too expensive.

- Too big.

- Not the screen format I want.

- Has a mirror instead of a screen.

- Encourages people to touch the screen and leave greasy finger marks.

- Probably more powerful than I need.

- Comes with an OS that I neither want nor need.

The problem is that almost every company making laptops is aiming to produce the same type of machine, meaning that there is nothing made by anybody that I would consider.

Am I really that much different from mainstream users now?

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Atomic Weapons Establishment ditches 2e2 in funding row

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Non-story.

If I were AWE, I would want to invoke the 'distroy all data you hold for us' clause of the contract that they must have. Otherwise, who knows where it will turn up!

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Remember that Xeon E7-Itanium convergence? FUHGEDDABOUDIT

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Re: BeFuddled

I always viewed it as Intel royally screwing HP in order to get access to some of the IP that they needed to speed up the Pentium processor.

PA-RISC was a fairly nice processor that HP had developed from discrete logic into multi and then single chip designs. For a preiod of time in 1990-1994, HP, Digital and IBM went head-to-head to try to produce the fastest chip/system. But rapid development of processors is an expensive operation, and HP did not commit to the same level of resource to keep the processor development going.

When Intel wanted to speed up their x86 processors, they needed to use technologies that they did not hold the rights to, mainly for the superscalar and deep pipeline techniques. They approached HP with an offer to take on the development of the EPIC processor which was to succeed the PA-RISC2 64 bit implementation in exchange for the rights to use some of the technologies that HP used in the PA-RISC family. This enabled Intel to produce faster and more competitive x86 cores (I think the first Intel processor to benefit was the P6 Pentium Pro), and in theory removed the cost of developing the next generation 64 bit processor from HP.

When it came to producing the processor that they promised to HP, Intel were a bit tardy. They produced the original Itanium which was something like 2 years late, was not as compatible with PA-RISC2 as it was supposed to have been, and was slower than promised. Compared to other contemporary processors, the Merced implementation of Itanium was considered very disappointing. So Intel benefited greatly with their own processors, and HP suffered.

This left HP with a gap in the late '90s that meant that they had to continue using the PA-8X00 processor family beyond it's natural lifetime. The fact that HP managed to get significant performance increases by iterative evolution was probably a testament to the design of the original processor and the people remaining in HPs processor development team.

Sounds like HP are still being screwed over. I wonder if there is anybody left in HP who regrets the decisions taken back in the mid '90s.

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Stricken 2e2 threatens data centres: Your money or your lights

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Re: I love it! @AC 10:57

I quote from my original comment.

"and (importantly) that you control the process and the media."

I think you just made my point over again.

My response to "Dr Who" was actually about rogue administrators in an un-outsourced IT department being as big a risk as an outsourced operation going bad. But I tried to make it a little relevent to the original story as well.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: I love it! @Dr Who

That is why you have a reliable DR set of procedures that take periodic copies of the data out-of-easy reach, and (importantly) that you control the process and the media.

E2E may have the best DR procedures around, but if they 'own' the media that the backups sit on, they are just as unavailable to the end user as the servers that they back up. This is why it is more dangerous.

I wonder how many outsourcing contracts contain clauses that immediatly revert the ownership of the backup media and documentation for the backup process to the end customer in case of insolvency of the outsourcer. Sounds like a good clause to me.

In the case of trusting your administrators, you should spread the responsibility to more that one administrator to make sure that it is performing properly, but this will allow for the situation that if someone trashes all the data on your live systems, you just invoke DR.

Of course, if someone is really malicious, and is allowed to screw with the systems for more than your longest off-site backup is viable, then it is still possible to destroy all the data, but you hope that there is no conspiricy and that such behaviour would be spotted. But you could say the same about the financial director, the pruchasing officer, or even the caretaker. It's not just IT people who could be holding a grudge.

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Tracy brothers are back: Thunderbirds Are Go! again in 5... 4... 3...

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge
Happy

Re: More to the point... @Steve

The records were unusual. They were 7" discs, but were played a 33 1/3 RPM. I'm fairly certain that my father still has the records somewhere.

When I was reading the stories to my children several decades ago, I found myself mimicking Johnny Morris' vocalisations. I guess that it must have had a profound effect on me.

IIRC, Rev. W Audry actually wrote 32 or 33 of the original books, before his son Christopher picked up the reigns. Each of the stories in the original books was said to have been inspired by real events on the railways, and I always though that made them much more believable. Once Britt-Alcroft started getting more stories written, it all went to pot, and the Rev. is probably spinning in his grave at the latest stories.

What I would like to know is whether the Chris Payne, who appears in the titles of the original TV series is the same Chris Payne who worked on computer controlled railways for his final year project at Durham University in 1980/81. If it is, then I knew him.

Listening to records of Johnny Morris reading the Railway Stories, and Ian Carmichael reading Winnie-the-Pooh, also on 33 1/3 7" discs are probably are some of my most enduring childhood memories.

BTW. There were also Century 21 Stingray, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet stories on vinyl disc. You've got to remember that there were no home video players back in the 1960s. Records and reel-to-reel tape were all there were.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: I'm worried... @Wize

There are some very good insights into the production problems that Doctor Who had in the 30 minute-an-episode days contained in a book and audio-book by one-time Dr Who producer Barry Letts, called "Who and Me". It is serialised on BBC Radio 4 Extra on their rotation. It's a good read/listen.

There were so many scheduling, budget and logistical issues around this production format (like the sets had to be taken down every week during the episode filming - no wonder they were flimsy) that once you know, you wonder how the show was ever made!

My personal feeling is that the episodic story line was both a benefit and a curse, but I think that it was good training for handling long-running issues in life, and definitely made it more of an event in the week than the current self contained stories.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: The Captain Scarlet effort on CITV was good

But to me it never had CGI wow.

Maybe I need to watch it again, but to me it looks to have been animated using the Max Steel or Action Man CGI rendering engine, which make movements look unrealistic. I know it was probably a different company doing it, but the Starship Troopers CGI series looked better.

Hopefully, they will use a better engine for the Thunderbirds remake.

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