* Posts by John Riddoch

308 posts • joined 12 Jan 2009

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I've got a verbal govt contract for Hyperloop, claims His Muskiness

John Riddoch

I've said it before - a lot of Elon Musk's ideas are pie in the sky, but if we don't aim for that, we'll keep making small incremental steps. Something from his ideas will work in a real word setting and may revolutionise part of our lives or our planet and that has to be a good thing.

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User filed fake trouble tickets to take helpful sysadmin to lunches

John Riddoch

Happened to me

While I was working at a university in the computing department, we had a student from the engineering school (which did an MSc in Information systems) come across asking to use the SPARCstations and the Oracle DB for her summer project. I set her up with logins and gave her some minimal help when she'd needed it.

Near the end of the project, I was in the lab reinstalling the servers (we gave them a clean build over summer) she thanked me for the help (which had been minimal) and asked what I liked to drink. I said whisky, half expecting a half bottle of Grants or something to appear and was rather shocked when she came back a few days later with a 70cl bottle of Balvenie :)

Given how little help I'd actually provided, I was rather shocked, but wasn't going to say no :)

16
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School of card knocks: Russophone criminals offered online courses in credit card fraud

John Riddoch

Re: Sounds great...

That depends on whose card it is/was...

1
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Solaris, Java have vulns that let users run riot

John Riddoch

Calendar manager has been a security screwup for at least 10 years and I remember switching it off across all our servers many moons ago. I doubt many desktop Solaris users even use CDE these days (Gnome being preferred) so it should have been switched off/uninstalled.

As for Java, yeah, the vast majority relate to "untrusted code" which basically means "code run in the browser" in the majority of cases. Another reason I don't install Java browser extensions and I haven't missed them in ages.

4
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UK regulator set to ban ads depicting bumbling manchildren

John Riddoch
Mushroom

The regular butt of jokes

Straight white men aged 20-50 have been the "bumbling" ones in adverts for decades. Why? Because you can't show anyone else being an idiot:

- Woman? That's sexist.

- Non-white? That's racist.

- Old person? That's ageist.

- Young person? Also ageist, it's not good to make fun of kids either.

- Gay? That's homophobic.

Basically, making the man the butt of the joke minimises the chance of offending minorities, but it has led to the "competent housewife vs bumbling husband" trope which is pretty much everywhere. We're now swapping one form of political correctness for another, or trying to. Either way, someone will undoubtedly find something to be offended about.

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User left unable to type passwords after 'tropical island stress therapy'

John Riddoch

Re: Government staff: need I say more?

Been a while, but when I was working at the Uni, one of the lecturers (might have been a grad student, can't remember) emailed the support staff asking "Is email working?" I replied with something like "seem to be.."

Never heard anything back from him.

13
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O Rly? O'Reilly exits direct book sales

John Riddoch

Probably inevitable...

I've got some of their excellent books I used to learn Perl, sed, awk & vi with back when I started out. However, the web now has some decent resources available for free and sites like Linux Academy bundle up training into videos with VMs available to practice on, so the market for the books is probably shrinking. For many people, that's a good enough resource, others prefer the physical books.

Here's hoping they can continue to create good content and make money from it, however they're going about it.

2
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Fasthosts' week to forget: 4-day virtual server summer bummer

John Riddoch

Either that, or the people at them weren't doing their jobs correctly...

1
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What hardware? Oracle is on cloud nine, er, twelve right now – $200,000,000,000

John Riddoch

Re: A bit OT, but...

It's not a GPL issue, you had to do it on Solaris, AIX etc as well, even before Oracle on Linux was a thing.

As for "use a decent OS" - again, it's the same on Linux, Solaris, AIX.

2
1
John Riddoch

Re: A bit OT, but...

It's done that for years, still does AFAIK. I'd always assumed it meant it was sure to be linked in with the most current libraries, so optimised for the target architecture. It was a pain as you needed to have linker tools installed on servers running oracle RDBMS which is a potential security issue.

I have a suspicion it was due to something in the 90s where some OS vendor(s) broke compatibility with a patch so they had to relink, but with better lockdown on ABIs/APIs now, it shouldn't be an issue.

Oh, and you're also supposed to relink after any OS patching/upgrades.

0
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F-Secure's Mikko Hypponen on IoT: If it uses electricity, it will go online

John Riddoch

Re: They lock down everything and you will not be able to program it.

Correct, but an end user who only cares about email, browsing the web and watching some videos will be happy their files aren't getting encrypted by ransomware and their online banking credentials stolen. Meanwhile, the hobbyists & developers will avoid those devices and stick with full blown Windows, Linux or Macs.

8
2

IBM's contractor crackdown continues: Survivors refusing pay cut have hours reduced

John Riddoch

Re: Why contract these days?

I know some companies force contractors to take 2-4 weeks off over Christmas, when things are normally quiet anyway. I suspect this is written into the contracts, so people go in with eyes open, though. Having the employer force you to take 2 weeks off without much notice is a bit off.

13
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Fighter pilot shot down laptops with a flick of his copper-plated wrist

John Riddoch

Seen similar

My son's tablet computer kept shutting down because the sensors thought the case being folded over at the back meant it was closed so put the tablet into standby. I "fixed" this by putting the tablet in the case 180 degrees round, so the sensors & batteries didn't match up and it worked fine. It blocked the camera hole, but that wasn't really used much so not a loss.

5
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That minutes-long power glitch? It's going to cost British Airways £80m, IAG investors told

John Riddoch
Joke

Re: Oh dear, how sad

Never mind...

1
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DUP site crashes after UK general election

John Riddoch

The Tories sold themselves as the only way to avoid Indyref2. That probably turned out sufficient voters who don't want to split from the rest of UK. The fact Alex Salmond isn't particularly well-liked by the locals probably didn't help either.

11
2

Pop-up Android adware uses social engineering to resist deletion

John Riddoch

Re: No other options but to press "OK"

Depends how it's coded, it could handle that as a "no action". You'd probably have to open up a task list and kill it off manually.

In any case, that is horrifically bad English, so it's pretty obvious the author is not a native speaker. It would be interesting to see what a linguistic analysis of it could reveal about the author.

7
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Ex-MI5 boss: People ask, why didn't you follow all these people ... on your radar?

John Riddoch

There were several bombs left by the IRA in public places where they warned the police in advance of the explosion so people could get out of the way. It still caused terror and awareness, but generally wasn't indiscriminate slaughter. Where they aimed to kill, it was generally targeted (generally, because there were civilian casualties), whether that be RUC, army, politicians etc.

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Lloyds finally inks mega 10-year cloudy outsourcing deal with IBM

John Riddoch

GruntyMcPugh - yes. HBOS outsourced to IBM many years ago (about 15 I think) and the staff were brought back in-house again (possibly after it became LTSB). Some of those staff are still there, so they'll have been employed by a few different companies (BOS, HBOS, IBM, LTSB, Lloyds) while still doing the same job.

1
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Dodge this: Fiat-Chrysler gets diesel-fuelled sueball from DoJ

John Riddoch

Re: Eco?

This is for "light duty vehicles", not just cars, so 3l probably isn't as excessive as you might think. Also, diesels are generally more efficient for CO2 emissions making the "eco" flag worth something. The realisation and understanding that NOx is worse than CO2 is beginning to be understood better by the general populace now, not sure how long the scientists have known.

0
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HP Inc wireless mouse can be spoofed

John Riddoch

Re: Mad.

In my experience, travelling with a wired mouse is a pain in the rear end. Every time you unpack or pack the mouse, you have to sort out the cable and connect it. With a wireless mouse, it's just less hassle and I always prefer a wireless mouse when I'm on the go with my laptop. Batteries last for ages on a good mouse (Logitech M510 in my case, same batteries for months with regular usage) and they're standard AAs so easy enough to get hold of if they do go flat.

There is also the advantage that a cable will drag on a mouse, so you'll have less resistance on a cordless one; possibly more of a win for anyone needing precision (gamers, graphics designers)

Finally, there are enough cables across a desk; being able to remove a couple of them might be seen as worthwhile just for tidiness.

The above said, I still use a wired keyboard & mouse at my home PC :)

1
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Do we need Windows patch legislation?

John Riddoch

Let's look at other operating systems from the same era:

Solaris 8 - released Feb 2000 - support ended March 2012

Solaris 9 - released May 2002 - support ended October 2014

AIX 5.2 - released October 2002 - support ended April 2009

HP-UX 11i - released December 2000 - support ended 2015

All seem to run to a similar end of support timeline, although AIX is considerably shorter and HP-UX is slightly longer. All in all, the XP end of support timeline isn't unreasonable, there has been plenty time and warning about migrating off of it.

16
5

Uber may face criminal charges over alleged stolen self-driving tech

John Riddoch

Re: err, wot?

Levandowski was an employee, so Uber are relying on that to force it to arbitration. It's tenuous for Uber to try and force it down that route, but it's not surprising they're trying to run the edges of the rules & law as they see fit.

0
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Mozilla to Thunderbird: You can stay here and we may give you cash, but as a couple, it's over

John Riddoch

Re: dominate corporate email client is Outlook.

Recent versions of Outlook at least give you the option to set OOO in advance so you don't forget about it, but I can see the attraction in an automated link between them. There are, of course, issues with automating that:

1. I tend to customise the OOO message to say when I'll be back and who to contact in my absence; hard to automate that.

2. Away from office might mean working from home, or at an all day meeting where setting out of office might not be appropriate or required

Certainly seems like it would be worth exploring, even if it's not the default option to have it enabled.

4
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FBI boss James Comey was probing Trump's team for Russia links. You're fired, says Donald

John Riddoch

I'm only surprised he didn't learn about it from Twitter...

8
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Another ZX Spectrum modern reboot crowdfunder pops up

John Riddoch
Joke

Re: It was shit back in the day

I spy a C64 user ;)

6
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IT error at Great Western Railway charging £10k for 63-mile journey ticket

John Riddoch

Re: Not a denial

That was my thought - there's no 1st class available, so we put a "dummy" price in of £10k. It could then fall into an IT problem because the systems didn't exclude the £10k fare and mark it as "not available".

7
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Dark times for OmniOS – an Oracle-free open-source Solaris project

John Riddoch

Re: It was designed to fail

Sun had an odd relationship with x86 - they dropped it briefly, but then reinstated it after customers complained. Solaris 10 eventually started with fuller support for x86 from the word go, but by that time Linux had largely won the market share. Oracle also tried to limit Solaris x86 support to Oracle hardware which didn't go down well either.

Frankly, I believe that if Sun had embraced x86 properly 10+ years ago they'd have done far better and probably stalled Linux adoption, but they were too busy trying to focus on making money from SPARC (which was struggling to stay competitive against POWER).

17
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How to breathe new life into your legacy kit now you've gone hybrid

John Riddoch

Watch your running costs

Legacy kit can have ruinous run costs; evaluate carefully how much you're actually spending in:

- hardware support

- power

- cooling

- data centre space

In some cases, those ongoing costs can make it cheaper over 2-3 years to buy something new.

2
0

US military makes first drop of Mother-of-All-Bombs on Daesh-bags

John Riddoch
Mushroom

"where's the Kaboom?"

"There was supposed to be an earth shattering Kaboom!"

12
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Intel's buggy Puma 6 chipset earns Arris a gigabit-modem lawsuit

John Riddoch

Re: Danger for Chipzilla?

Not sure on US law, but in the UK, the contract of sale is between the consumer and the vendor. The fact the vendor is a victim of crap products from a supplier isn't part of the contract of sale.

Under UK law, the Sale of Goods act would be applicable and it sounds like the modem would fail under the premise of being "fit for a given purpose" and the buyer should return to point of sale for a full refund.

2
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Twitter sues US govt to protect 'Department of Immigration employee' who doesn't like Trump

John Riddoch

Interesting point - does your employment contract over-rule your free speech rights? I know my work (private company) has a clause about not disparaging the company or its clients in social media which seems reasonable enough, but given how messed up things are in the US right now, it might be seen as limiting the opportunities to challenge the government.

3
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UK gov draws driverless car test zone around M40 corridor

John Riddoch
Terminator

Re: "that buyers of driverless cars"

I suspect most people who don't have a car do so because they either can't afford one (so they wouldn't be able to afford a driverless car either) or they can't be bothered driving where they live (e.g. London, where you can get by without a car fairly easily). Add in the fact that driverless cars should ease gridlock by driving better (less having to hammer on brakes, smoother drives, no slowing down to rubber-neck, etc), I don't think it's as bad as you might be worried about.

Of course, the roads are getting busier year on year, so in 20 years time, who knows what mess they'll be in?

11
2

Creators Update gives Windows 10 a bit of an Edge, but some old annoyances remain

John Riddoch
Black Helicopters

New one on me too, although I use Windows 10 Pro hooked up to a domain (Samba on the NAS) rather than a Home version which may make a difference.

5
1

Squirrel sinks teeth into SAN cabling, drives Netadmin nuts

John Riddoch

Re: SAN?

A SAN can spread a relatively large distance - I've worked in places where the SAN has stretched several miles to the DR datacentre, so you could, for example, run clustering between sites (makes for an easy DR solution, simply fail over the cluster).

4
0

A router with a fear of heights? Yup. It's a thing

John Riddoch
Boffin

Sun M-Class

The old Sun M-Class servers (M4000/M5000) had a setting in the XSCF where you could set altitude and it would (presumably) adjust fan speeds/cooling accordingly. Was never a problem for us as we weren't high enough above sea level to care, but the function was there.

5
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Microsoft kills Windows Vista on April 11: No security patches, no hot fixes, no support, nada

John Riddoch

Re: ME Hated?

My understanding is that a lot of the stability issues were due to driver compatibility - lazy vendors wouldn't write a new driver, they'd just repackage the 98 driver and ship. In some cases, you'd get away with it, sometimes you'd hit an edge case where the driver threw a wobbly and BSOD'd.

I had ME back in the day and found it ran OK, at least as well as 95 had, i.e. you had to reinstall every 6-12 months to keep it working well. That said, it didn't seem to be much different from 98 from a user perspective so didn't have much benefit for the stability issues you've mentioned.

1
5

Sysadmin's sole client was his wife – and she queried his bill

John Riddoch

I remember when I left my job at a University where I had a Sun Ultra 1 as my main desktop, running Solaris and some hodge podge of window managers for my desktop. When I signed off in the March, I realised I hadn't actually logged out (let alone rebooted) since the October. My desktop had been stable for about 5 months, with only getting locked at night and would probably have lasted a few more months if I hadn't been leaving.

10
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UK's largest hospital trust battles Friday 13th malware outbreak

John Riddoch

Re: re ageing tech

XP isn't getting any security patches would be the starting point. Work on things from there. If it's old, it's probably not supported by the vendors and so there are no security patches and it makes it more hackable. Older desktop versions probably don't have a supported, up to date anti virus solution either, so your AV/Malware protection is incomplete.

Add in that more modern operating systems tend to have better security features built in as well, so older tech really is asking for a kicking.

3
1

Ex-Autonomy CFO pleads not guilty to charges he inflated the company's value

John Riddoch

Re: Accountants eveywhere need to watch out

The US-UK treaty doesn't affect immigration, that'll be why.

9
0

CES 2017 roundup: The good, the bad, and the frankly bonkers

John Riddoch

Re: My fav useless item of the show.

I've heard of folks using photographer's jackets in the same way. Basically, any vest/jacket with a lot of pockets.

3
1

Christmas Eve ERP migration derailed by silly spreadsheet sort

John Riddoch

Re: Ah, Excel sorting

or importing data which has an e in it; e.g. LUN IDs like 12E3 or MAC addresses like 12345678e123. It'll "helpfully" assume they're numbers in scientific notation and import them. You can reset to text, but by that time, it's changed the underlying data as well and you have to recopy/reimport. PITA.

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

John Riddoch

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

I assume you mean Gruinard Island for the Anthrax island - that has been decontaminated and deemed safe now.

2
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Sysadmin told to spend 20+ hours changing user names, for no reason

John Riddoch

Re: Push back and automate

When I worked in Academia, we used to have <classname ID><initials> as the login ID; e.g. Computer Science 2nd year Bob Smith would be cs2bs.

Caused havoc with clashes (manually managed), people changing courses mid year (there was considerable overlap between computing & business computing, so some students could and did switch courses) and of course we'd go through the same rigmarole over summer as students went up a year. We ended up going for their matriculation ID (7 digits) prefaced by u (undergrad) or p (post grad) as Solaris/NIS at the time didn't cope well with all digit usernames. This had the advantage of (a) being unique and (b) not needing updated every year.

Thankfully all the account creation was scripted, all I had to do was feed in a list of real names & login IDs and it created the accounts, gave it a random password and printed a "new login" sheet for the lecturers to hand out.

7
0

Guess King Battistelli's plan to fix the Euro Patent Office. Yep, give himself more power

John Riddoch

Re: Ways to get rid of him

30th June 2018 apparently, at least according to Wikipedia.

3
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Veritas lays off a third of its sales staff – merry Christmas, everyone!

John Riddoch
Mushroom

"organizational changes"

Gah, bloody corporate double speak - just say job losses and be done with it rather than hiding it behind "organizational changes" or "moving to a new operating model" or other such crap.

7
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Vegans furious as Bank of England admits ‘trace’ of animal fat in £5 notes

John Riddoch

Never mind the shoes, I wonder how many of the vegans/vegetarians decrying this outrage are using a leather wallet to hold their cash in?

39
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Linux in 2016 catches up to Solaris from 2004

John Riddoch

Re: About Brendan Gregg

Even if you don't understand DTrace, the DTrace toolkit Brendan provided is excellent and for most admins does over 75% of what you'd want to do with DTrace in a bunch of easy scripts.

I've done some basic stuff with DTrace over the years and the power to trace what is going with negligible performance impact is amazing; it's found the source of a few issues over the years (mainly proving the problem was the application...), here's hoping the Linux equivalent gets the care that DTrace has had.

7
0

FBI reopens Hillary spillery

John Riddoch

You can see the counts of executive orders by presidents here. He's hardly the most prolific user of them, although some of the previous highs (such as FDR) were no doubt borne out of the necessities of the time (war, mainly).

9
0

Criticize Donald Trump, get your site smashed offline from Russia

John Riddoch

Re: If this asshat gets elected..

I did read an article a while back which basically said we're currently living in the chapter entitled 'factors leading to' for a future history book. What we're leading to isn't entirely clear yet (and won't be for some time, in all likelihood) but change is happening for good or ill.

5
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The server's down. At 3AM. On Christmas. You're drunk. So you put a disk in the freezer

John Riddoch

Fortuitously timed backups....

BTDT - once had a script wipe out the mail spool folder (a combination of a script to remove mail folder for users no longer in NIS, /var/yp/securenets and a new subnet being put in which everything got multihomed on, including the NIS master/mail server). That was a bad time to realise we'd never reinstated the mail backups which were causing problems a few months back...

Luckily, it was about a week after I'd taken a full backup of pretty much everything as an ad-hoc yearly backup thing and it was just after New Year (so minimal mails coming through). Managed to restore that and advise users how many mails they'd missed if they asked (by trawling the mail logs). That was a scary morning...

After that, the script merely mailed us the rm commands to remove the mailboxes so we could sanity check it...

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