back to article UK rail lines blocked by unexpected Windows dialog box

Window admins rejoice! It isn’t just you that can’t get Office 2010 to uninstall silently. The mighty brains behind the UK railways have had just as much trouble. As well as the usual passenger information boards, detailing the day's cancellations and delays, London’s Victoria train station also features displays on every …

  1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    Why a copy of Office is needed on a PC tasked with showing line information is anyone’s guess

    So that they can be pwned by poisoned documents, of course.

    1. MotorcyclesFish

      "Why a copy of Office is needed on a PC tasked with showing line information is anyone’s guess"

      Because the pictured screen is a very zoomed out Excel spreadsheet with updated information populated by a 30,000 line VBA script.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: "Why a copy of Office is needed on a PC tasked with showing line information is anyone’s guess"

        You missed the bit about the 30,000 lines being undocumented and written by a temp who left 5 years ago.

        1. My-Handle

          Re: "Why a copy of Office is needed on a PC tasked with showing line information is anyone’s guess"

          It's not my fault! I tried to tell them the documentation was important, but they never gave me the time to do it! Well, not until 1 week before I left.

        2. elDog Silver badge

          Re: "Why a copy of Office is needed on a PC tasked with showing line information is anyone’s guess"

          Documenting VBA is pointless. Isn't the code self-explanatory?

          I know/hope that this was just a joke, but running VB scripts/macros in production code anywhere is asking for fragility and breakage and lack of accountability. Next time use logo.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Coffee/keyboard

            Schadenfreude

            HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

            After a while this won't be funny any more. just sad.

      2. Pete4000uk

        Re: "Why a copy of Office is needed on a PC tasked with showing line information is anyone’s guess"

        Really??

    2. billdehaan

      I've worked on rail line overviews. In the bad old days, you had to install either Visual Studio or Office just to get some god damned necessary DLL, which was absurd. Fortunately, those days are long gone.

      One of the most important restrictions we have with these systems is to NOT install third party software on them. They're dedicated display systems, not general-purpose computers.

      Of course, that won't stop people from trying...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If it's anything like our company, I'll go with "Software updates and rollouts are done remotely by someone who doesn't know what you do and was too lazy to check what all the thousands of machines did so just pushed O365 out to all machines because they were told 'everyone' had to use it now."

    4. JLV Silver badge

      Hey, it's the vendor's trial bundle.

      Up next, Oracle's Ask.com Toolbar.

  2. DailyLlama
    FAIL

    Um

    I managed to uninstall Office 2010 silently. It's not that hard...

    1. Phil Kingston Silver badge

      Re: Um

      They may not have been trying a silent uninstall, maybe these machines are just in the wrong ou or something.

    2. Craig 2
      Joke

      Re: Um

      I managed to uninstall Office 2010 silently. It's not that hard...

      I thought Windows Update was how you silently uninstalled things?

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Um

        Yes, like your data...

    3. Korev Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Um

      I managed to uninstall Office 2010 silently. It's not that hard...

      I hear DBAN works well...

  3. malle-herbert Silver badge
    Holmes

    "Why a copy of Office is needed on a PC tasked with showing line information is anyone’s guess"

    Powerpoint ?

    1. Efer Brick

      Re: "Why a copy of Office is needed on a PC tasked with showing line information is anyone’s guess"

      Overhead power point

      1. Tony Gathercole ...

        Re: "Why a copy of Office is needed on a PC tasked with showing line information is anyone’s guess"

        Nope, at London Victoria it would have to be third-rail power point.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: "Why a copy of Office is needed on a PC tasked with showing line information is anyone’s guess"

      It's not Powerpoint, if you look closely you can see the text isn't in Comic Sans.

    3. Frederic Bloggs

      Re: "Why a copy of Office is needed on a PC tasked with showing line information is anyone’s guess"

      Isn't the powerpoint where they plug the trains in?

  4. Tom 7 Silver badge

    TBF running the trains better is one thing Clippy could do!

    NT but a replacement bus service the other way.

  5. Brennan Young
    FAIL

    It's not that Windows failed, it's that it failed in public view

    I always thought it was an own-goal to include the brand name (+ identifiable look 'n' feel) in error messages and alert boxes which are likely to appear in public places.

    Microsoft clearly still thinks this is good PR.

    Compare Apple's "grey screen of death" which mentions neither Apple, nor any of their brands. On the contrary, it has an international flavour, with various languages and alphabets, so you could be forgiven for unconsciously blaming the failure on humanity generally.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: blaming the failure on humanity generally

      Yes, people hold it wrong.

    2. Tomato Krill

      Re: It's not that Windows failed, it's that it failed in public view

      So the error message pertaining to an issue with Office shouldn't contain a reference to Office, not should it look like an error message as people know them?

      I'm not sure that's such a swell idea...

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: It's not that Windows failed, it's that it failed in public view

        They should use this error message: https://54below.com/app/uploads/error-message-1024x576.png

        (Yes, yes, I'm still living in the 90's)

        1. Terje

          Re: It's not that Windows failed, it's that it failed in public view

          What's wrong with a good old "Guru meditation"?

  6. reprobate

    You can see the diagram for yourself if you wish at:

    http://www.opentraintimes.com/maps/signalling/vir1#T_VICTRIE

    except that the spoilsport of a web operator hasn't got the Microsoft error message to display!

    1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      "

      You can see the diagram for yourself if you wish at:

      http://www.opentraintimes.com/maps/signalling/vir1#T_VICTRIE

      "

      It's not interactive! How useless. It would be much more fun if you could alter the signals and points with a mouse-click.

      1. David Nash Silver badge

        OpenTrainTimes.com

        +1 for this useful website.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It looks like you're trying to run a rail network. Would you like help?"

    At this point I'm not which one runs worse.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge
      FAIL

      I don't often say this, but I'm pretty sure even Microsoft couldn't make the trains run worse.

      No Microsoft error messages showing at St Pancras tuesday night, but the destination boards were ordered pretty much randomly (actually, by platform - but because they're all one long list, not individual boards headed by destination, that's no help whatever) and contain entries for trains that left an hour before.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        "and contain entries for trains that left an hour before."

        I think you will find they haven't actually left yet. Especially if it is trains from the Thameslink platforms.

      2. elDog Silver badge

        "destination boards were ordered pretty much randomly..."

        Well, just click on the header of the column you want to sort by and they'll be rearranged to your specs, sir.

        You may need to jump about 12 feet in the air to click on the header, only to realize that they forgot to install touch/punch screens.

    2. Giovani Tapini
      Trollface

      Clippy - on - rails

      that is all

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sigh!

    As a user of the 'Brighton Line' I'm just waiting for the Union to call for a strike on the grounds that not all their members got to see the message and that the Railway Operator was discriminating against their members.

    Yes, I'm being sarcastic but the impasse between the NUR (or whatever they are called this week) and the TOC's has been going on for more than two frigging years. I know of many people who have given up trying to commute by train because of the uncertainty. If you think that BREXIT is a cause for uncertainty, then any Brighton based commuter will gladly bend your ear for a few weeks on uncertainty.

    And... another weekend with half the line shut for so called engineering works.

    Roll on Friday... oh wait, I need to work on Saturday bummer.

    Yours, disgruntled of Kemp Town.

    1. paulf Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Sigh!

      @AC, "the NUR (or whatever they are called this week)"

      Coughs, it's been the RMT since 1990.

      Perhaps the railways should stop talking about disruption and just give a coefficient of entropy for the day's service.

  9. John70

    At least it hadn't started installing Windows 10.

  10. Dunstan Vavasour
    Headmaster

    "Train Station"

    Am I the last person who calls it the "railway station"?

    1. reprobate

      Re: "Train Station"

      No, I too insist on calling it a railway station. "Train station" is 'Merkin usage.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Train Station"

      Railway station has been in decline since 1913 and since 1997, more people have used train station. (According to Google ngrams)

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: "Train Station"

        Looks pretty terminal to me.

        You would think that their IT people would simply have moved to another platform. Bad luck if you want to go to places like Streatham as I think they normally depart from platform 10 IIRC.

    3. katrinab Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: "Train Station"

      Do you go to a "bus station" or a "road station"?

      Trains run on railways, buses run on roads.

      1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: "Train Station"

        "Do you go to a "bus station" or a "road station"?"

        Neither. Public transport is for plebs.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Train Station"

        No, trains run on railway tracks.

        A railway station is a building and facility belonging to a railway (currently National Rail or similar).

        Of course you could just follow the train announcers and refer to the stations as "service stops" *shudder*

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: trains run on railway tracks

          Historically partly to give a monopoly. If people had built better roads for the steam engine pulling a "train of wagons", anyone could have used them.

          "Trains" that don't use rails/tracks do exist.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Train Station"

        Do you go to a "bus station" or a "road station"?

        I go to the "gare routière"

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: "Train Station"

          Apparently, according to some announcements, the trains are calling TO "Harrow & Wealdstone", "Watford Junction", "Hemel Hempstead" etc etc.

          And the one that really annoys me is on the underground...

          "Please move along the platform to your left and towards the end carriages as the middle carriages is where the train is most busiest."

          *grinds teeth*

    4. RayG

      Re: "Train Station"

      "station" = "place where something is stopped". It's a "train station" when just YOUR train is stationary for an indefinite period of time. It's a "railway station" when the ENTIRE railway is stationary for an indefinite period of time. Problem solved, leaving only the mystery of why the term "railway station" is becoming less common when the condition of the entire railway being stopped doesn't seem to.

      (says I, from behind my... work station)

      1. Joe W

        Re: "Train Station"

        @ "work Station": using the fall update of Win10, I guess ;p

        1. RayG

          Re: "Train Station"

          :-D Ha! No, it's just slow. Apparently there are leaves on the five-volt line.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Train Station"

      'Am I the last person who calls it the "railway station"?'

      Yes, guard/train captain now calls it a 'station stop'... as opposed to a 'stop in the middle of nowhere for no reason' or a 'hurtling through the next stop because TPTB are checking punctuality today and we might be 30s late at the terminus 150 miles away'

  11. Jove Bronze badge

    Windows

    Why Windows in the first place on a system with a narrow functional requirement?

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Windows

      Because the display system is an Excel Spreadsheet with information populated by a 30,000 line VBA script.

      Some people here seem to think MotorcyclesFish was joking when they said that. It sounds very plausible to me.

    2. Len Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Windows

      I understand that in some cases it makes sense to use a tried and tested off-the-shelf OS like Windows. It may not be perfect but its flaws are often well-known so you can work around it.

      What does puzzle me, though, is the use of Windows for systems like this, or those ad displays, public information displays, video terminals etc. They usually have a very narrow set of requirements (some network activity, some display functions, some times limited mouse or keyboard input) that could easily run on a much more pared down OS without all the unnecessary baggage that a consumer desktop OS like Windows has.

      If you develop the application in a high level stack (Java? Python?) and run it on a severely pared down Linux or BSD flavour that only has the minimum required functionality compiled for this task you'd likely be much more reliable. You could probably even do a major hardware or OS upgrade without the higher level application noticing it.

      Anyone able to shed some light on this?

      1. Anonymous Bullard

        Re: Windows

        Anyone able to shed some light on this?

        Yes. It's all about economics.

        The companies that produce these aren't trying to make the best product possible - but the most money possible.

        Windows developers are 2/1p.

        If their "wiz kid" nephew can whip up a billboard in VB6, by copying stackoverflow question code, then so be it.

        But yes, this isn't completely the fault of Windows - the consumer OS designed for Grandma - but perhaps the fault of those deciding to use it.

        1. Trapper John

          Re: Windows

          "Windows developers are 2/1p."

          Those are the wizard-runners. The ones smart enough to write code can't be had for less than a pence apiece.

      2. ExistentialAngst

        Re: Windows

        The only reason this situation occurred is because the engineer preparing the disk image didn't do their job properly. It's not Microsoft's fault - sorry to burst everyone's bubble. How do I know this? I spent 6 years working on very high profile Windows and Linux based vending machines on every aspect from preparing the disk images, writing the drivers and the application software. If you live in London I guarantee you've used one of the devices I've worked on.

        To address your question as to why people use Windows for these kinds of applications, there are many and which apply depend on the organisation. To cite a few: a) Legacy - many systems were developed for Win32 before Linux distributions were practical alternatives, b) compatibility - much middle-ware and drivers are only available for Windows, c) familiarity - many engineers are familiar with Win32, d) continuity - Microsoft isn't going to go away any time soon, e) cheap, easily available hardware platforms. So, I know the next question is "why don't companies dump Windows and switch to a Linux distribution". Usually the reason is the cost of porting the software outweighs any measured benefit.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Windows

        If only there was an embedded edition that could be used in such situations

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows

      "Why Windows in the first place on a system with a narrow functional requirement?"

      Good question.

      A RPi would be ideal for this sort of thing. The cost of keeping a few spare RPis, pre-imaged cards and PSUs ready for swapping in the event of a problem would be negligible.

      1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Windows

        A RPi would be ideal for this sort of thing.

        And if they'd done that six years ago they'd be running on original Pi B hardware and Raspbian Wheezy and in another decade they'll be so behind the times we'll be laughing at them like we're laughing now.

        Because. It's simply what happens.

        1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

          Re: Windows

          @Jason Bloomberg - "in another decade they'll be so behind the times we'll be laughing at them like we're laughing now"

          Why? It'd just be a dusty screen that still works.

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: Windows

            Why? It'd just be a dusty screen that still works.

            And as if to prove a point, I have a "wall" at work with 14 Raspberry Pis. 13 of them are original, 2012-vintage, Sony-built model B units with 256MB RAM. They are being used as looping video players running 24 hours a day and apart from a few new SD cards and an occasional software update they just work.

            The SD cards have been replaced because the originals were bought in a rush and weren't terribly good quality (the Sony Pis only became available about two weeks before we needed them), and because early versions of the OS would quite happily irretrievably corrupt an SD card if you removed the power unexpectedly. The OS updates to help with that but mainly because over the years I've used more and more Pis, and each new generation needed an updated OS and I really only want to keep one OS image in play. I use "Lite" images and yes, the latest version does still run on the older hardware.

            In total (if I've counted correctly) I had 17 or 18 first generation model Bs and have "lost" three (I think). One failed because the SD slot cracked and now won't reliably hold a card in place, the other two just "died" for no apparent reason after many years in use. I also had three (lucky me) original China-built Pis between work and home. All three have been withdrawn from use due to "odd" errors which make them unsuitable for 24 hour use. They seem to work fine, but then stop for no apparent reason.

            M.

      2. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Windows

        A RPi would be ideal for this sort of thing

        You mean like one of these?

        :-)

        M.

    4. hplasm Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Windows

      Why Windows in the first place on a system with a narrow functional requirement?

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Windows

        So that after hours the station staff can play Candy Crush.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Windows

          So that after hours the station staff can play Candy Crush.

          If the OS is as old as some claim, Candy Crush is too new. More like Solitaire.

        2. Christian Berger Silver badge

          Re: Windows

          "So that after hours the station staff can play Candy Crush."

          Actually they do that on their mobile phones now.

          1. onefang Silver badge

            Re: Windows

            "Actually they do that on their mobile phones now."

            So much better when it's up there on the wall, for everyone to see their high score.

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Windows

        > Why Windows in the first place on a system with a narrow functional requirement?

        The only reason would be to use F#

  12. nematoad Silver badge
    FAIL

    "...alas, yet to receive a response."

    Can you blame them for keeping quite?

    Talk about a balls-up.

    Oh, and all the posts about it being an Excel spreadsheet, where were the joke icons?

  13. mrfantastic

    What about node.js interfering at Reading Station?

    https://www.reddit.com/r/CasualUK/comments/9u4zsc/the_new_sign_outside_reading_train_station_runs/

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: What about node.js interfering at Reading Station?

      It's the new techno-televangelist screed!

      REPENT!

  14. Roland6 Silver badge

    Shock horror - it's not running XP!!!

    Whilst Office 2010 can be run on XP, that toolbar, looks like a Windows 7 toolbar.

    I suspect someone has simply taken a bulk standard OEM Windows PC that has Office Starter (2010) preinstalled and didn't bother removing unnecessary stuff and simply configured the full screen (IE) browser application.

    Now if this were a screen in one of the signalling boxes, I would be much more concerned...

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Shock horror - it's not running XP!!!

      The crashed signalling display I saw last week indicated it was running NT 6.1 SP 1. Quite impressively it had an an IPv6 address showing.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Shock horror - it's not running XP!!!

        >NT 6.1 SP 1

        That's commonly known as Windows 7 SP1 ...

        1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Shock horror - it's not running XP!!!

          "NT 6.1 SP 1 - That's commonly known as Windows 7 SP1 ..."

          Well I've learned something I didn't know, or more likely been reminded of something I'd long forgotten. Thanks ->

  15. JJKing Bronze badge
    Coat

    Beware sleepers.

    Perhaps they were training some new IT hires and they got a bit off track.

    My coat is the one with the HO train set in the pocket.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ancient meme is ancient

      I think you meant

      "Perhaps they were training some new IT hires and they got a bit...

      (•_•) / ( •_•)>⌐■-■ / (⌐■_■)

      ...off track.

      YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!"

      1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: Ancient meme is ancient

        Glasses Pull

        Fade To Quip

        ...

        Sorry, I've spent far too many hours on tvtropes.org.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Ancient meme is ancient

          It looks like their IT system...

          ...

          ...

          ...

          ... went off the rails.

  16. jimbo36

    Why does the Twitter poster exclaim like it is preventing him from doing his job? Given that he works in Healthcare I'm guessing he was just a passenger and those screens aren't designed for passenger use ..

    (Doesn't mean it wasn't an issue for someone else of course)

    1. Rob Dyke
      Joke

      The post is required, and must contain letters.

  17. Wiltshire

    Where's Windows for Warships when you need it?

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/01/05/windows_for_warships_hits_type_23s/

    Please insert disc 39 of 40...

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Coat

      Where's Windows for Warships when you need it?

      It fails to Surface...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Where's Windows for Warships when you need it?"

      Still happy running on most US and UK warships and submarines.

  18. Kane Silver badge
    Joke

    "We asked the UK’s rail operator, Network Rail, if they were having some IT difficulties but have, alas, yet to receive a response."

    That's because Outlook 365 hadn't finished its install yet.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Office

    "Why a copy of Office is needed on a PC tasked with showing line information is anyone’s guess (and two Internet Explorer icons indicates there is double the fun to be had)."

    What? *Every* copy of Windows has Office amirite? why it just *has* to be there. Ref: exporting data from software like Sage: why allow .csv exports when you can require hooks into Excel. Oh, and that means you can't even work on report permissions on the freaking server without Excel installed on the server.

  20. JohnG Silver badge

    Can these systems, that display the state of the rail network and store stuff in Office365's cloud, also be used to alter signalling?

    1. Barrie Shepherd

      They are information displays, for staff, and while they take data from the signalling control systems they cannot interact with the control equipment.

      In the rail industry these secondary displays are considered non vital.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        hile they take data from the signalling control systems they cannot interact with the control equipment.

        Before Solid State Interlocking (SSI), the signalling control systems had very limited interaction with the control equipment, input from a signalman being required.

      2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
        Pint

        @Barrie Shepherd - "while they take data from the signalling control systems they cannot interact with the control equipment"

        Thank Goodness!

        Much appreciation to the techies and safety officers who fight the on-going battle to keep it that way.

  21. steviebuk Silver badge

    Paddington 247

    Had an odd one last week I think it was. Had an "incident" which you could clearly see from the info box was at West Ealing. Then the next few shots they blurred it. Odd.

    Bit late.

  22. ThirdWoody

    Okay so this system is some sort of extra information box for platform staff to see what is going on.

    It's probably fed from the Open Data feeds which also feed a bunch of Web services such as open train times and real time trains et al.

    It will be running on a standard COTS IT system used for office staff hence the 365 install.

    It has no access to safety critical or safety relates systems.

    I'm not bragging (I'm really not) but I have worked in and around railway signalling and control for a decade and look at this stuff a lot.

    It's done as cheap and quickly as possible to get info to people on the front line. The thinking required to build a cut down box running a custom OS running some neat pure code which is optimised is vastly outweighed by the fact a windows box is £40 a month on internal lease and will be binned off in 5 years when it all gets changed anyway.

    1. gfx

      raspberry pi

      A Raspberry pi is 40 quid once and can display a webpage. Saves 2360 quid over five years and less energy.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: raspberry pi

        But does the code base require Ruby...

        ...

        ...

        ...

        ... on rails.

      2. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: raspberry pi

        A Raspberry pi is 40 quid once and can display a webpage.

        But much harder to find someone you already have, who knows what to do with it.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: raspberry pi

          But much harder to find someone you already have, who knows what to do with it.

          Anyone who can click a couple of options to cause Explorer to auto-launch, go full-screen and display a fixed web page on Windows should be more than capable of doing exactly the same thing on Raspbian with Web (Epiphany) or another browser of choice, even if they've never handled a Linux machine in their lives.

          If they're not, put them back into the office making colourful Powerpoint stacks to explain to middle management why the trains are late again today.

          M.

  23. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Victoria Station

    Not the place to have a Buffer Overflow.

  24. fakington1

    None of you work for the Railway I see

    Why you are surprised by this, I've no idea?

  25. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. SimpleMystic

    "We apologise for the issues with your journey today, this was due to overrunning IT work"

  27. mr_souter_Working

    Why do companies use full blown PC's for displays?

    It's easy - they want an easy to maintain solution - and there are a lot more people that know about Windows than know about RasPi devices

    At a previous company, I tried to convince my boss to suggest that we could use cheap Raspberry Pi devices to power screens at the various receptions for the council we supported (these screens only display a list of meeting rooms and what is on in each - with the data being pulled from an Exchange calendar)

    His reason for not doing it - if I left, nobody would know how it worked.

    So, at each reception for the council, they have a dedicated desktop PC, complete with windows, full office, keyboard and mouse, antivirus, that is a member of the domain, and is logged in as a specific user account, which is used to drive a screen to just show some basic information.

    cost of each PC - £600

    software licenses are bundled with the enterprise agreement, so are not a major factor.

    they run 24/7, and use all that electricity.

    I would put total running costs at £200 per year per device, to cover maintenance calls and electricity

    inertia, fear, take your pick of the reasons why this happens, and why it will continue to happen.

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: Why do companies use full blown PC's for displays?

      "His reason for not doing it - if I left, nobody would know how it worked."

      Yes, but seriously if you actually have people who know Windows, that is justified. Unfortunately in 99% of companies using Windows, nobody has the faintest clue about Windows. Even Microsoft often seems to not have read their own documentation.

      Also if I had a company with people knowing Windows, I'd seriously be worried that Microsoft buys them out, after all there are perhaps a couple of thousand people who actually know Windows, while there are millions of people who know Linux.

  28. Christian Berger Silver badge

    I remember the times...

    ... when those systems ran on dedicated hardware on redundant hardware which would be switched in between several times per second so any error would flash. Also those systems would check every graphics primitive they have drawn.

    And before that they had fault detecting relay circuits which would signal when any of their relays would fail.

    Today it seems those systems are made on the least suitable systems for the job, with no thought on how to make it work safely.

  29. AndrueC Silver badge
    FAIL

    One of the several things I hate about Windows is focus stealing. Several years ago they implemented flashing icons on the Task bar (and they are still present) but applications can still steal focus. You can be half way through typing a password and and something else grabs the focus and suddenly half your password is in plain sight. And it makes trying to launch an application in the background painful.

    Focus should stay where the user put it. If you want to attract their attention flash an icon or - if you must - popup an unfocused message bubble in a corner.

  30. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Isambard Kingdom Brunel now rotates in his grave!!

    > Yankee software shit on British screens

    > Screens made in Taiwan anyway

    > "Engineers" with the skills of room maintainers led by the nose of penny-pinching management types thinkfluenced by fad propellers, no longer building machines but just "downloading" stuff to a very generally used platform and hoping to hell it works

    > No-one knows how to fix stuff or is even aware that there is a problem

    OUTSOURCE THE WHOLE NATION!

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel now rotates in his grave!!

      +1 for 'Fad Propellers'!

  31. Chris 125

    Those aren't really designed to be customer-facing displays so either the person complaining about it was a railway employee (and probably knew of a better route to get the problem resolved) or they're just being dicks. I would imagine only a tiny fraction of rail passengers know the headcode of the train they're about to board and so can use this display to find the platform.

    1. David Nash Silver badge

      headcode

      is that the number shown on OpenTrainTimes.com?

      Why don't we have proper train identifiers used for the public here, as they do in many other countries?

      Here trains always seem to be identified by the station it's leaving and the time (optionally with the destination). That's often ambiguous and inefficient. Much better to say "train 12345"

      1. Twanky

        Re: headcode

        or Pelham 123?

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: headcode

          Trainy McTrainFace?

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: headcode

        Some trains especially those that ran on the old BR Southern Region used a two digit headcode to describe the train route. On the Brighton Line headcode 4 was London-Brighton while 5 was also London-Brighton but reserved for the Brighton Belle.

        Since the late 1950's every train has had an identifier (or TIN, Train Identification Number). Old BR Diesel (and Electric) Locos used to display this on the front of the Loco. The first digit was for the train class. '1' was Express and so on.

        The working timetable shows this Number. Passenger timetables generally don't show it.

        For more infor, Wikipedia is your friend

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Train_reporting_number

        {Any decent Gricer from the late 1960's would know many of the TIN's off by heart}

        Now it is time for a Pint at the Railwaymens!

      3. really_adf

        Re: headcode

        Headcodes are not unique across the network, and letters include B and O that could cause confusion, so probably not a good choice. They are however useful to signallers since they are short and encode the type and route for the train.

  32. chartupdate
    FAIL

    Feelin' Blue

    There are passenger display screens at Waterloo which keep falling over with BSOD errors (a brief diagnosis of which suggests the boxes they are running on, screwed to the wall inside plastic cases, keep overheating.

    Yet there's one, tucked away in a corner by a ticket machine which has been crashed for nearly two months now. I'm convinced they've forgotten it is there, or that nobody has decided it is their job to report it.

    https://twitter.com/ChartUpdate/status/1050066728032583681

  33. Frank Thynne

    Are there really idiots still using Microsoft software in important areas like Infrastructure? Years ago the US Department of Defense banned Microsoft from mission-critical projects. Have we learnt nothing?

  34. hapticz

    noxious one

    much ado about nothing, trains continue to roll like background apps.

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