* Posts by Nick Ryan

2648 posts • joined 10 Apr 2007

The longest card game in the world: Microsoft Solitaire is 30

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Microsoft Solitaire has done more to reduce worker productivity than any virus or hack.
But not as much as Microsoft PowerPoint...

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Before the easy availibity of benchmarking software we used to test a system's performace by playing solitaire on it. This was both for the general feel of drag and drop but the key test was the animation upon completion (which on particularly crappy systems would jerk very badly and glitch).

I don't know how original this completion animation was at the time (probably reasonably so) but it's interesting to see the same animation being played out in many modern versions of solitaire both on PCs and on mobile devices.

HPE's Black Thursday: Staff face pay cuts or the ax, office closures to save $1bn+ after coronavirus slams IT titan

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Re: Welcome to the 'New Normal'!

After the current typical failure of the UK's "contact tracing" app (aka incompetently cobbled together spyware) I can't wait for what ridiculous total spyware solution they come up with when it comes up to demonstrating that one has either had the vaccination or has had covid-19 and therefore have antibodies to it (me). Doubtless some central tracking system which will have special exclusions for "celebrities" and "politicians".

Das reboot: That's the only thing to do when the screenshot, er, freezes

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Seriously though...

Whenever I include a screenshot in an email I always make sure that it's edited somehow to make it obvious that it's a screenshot - resized, borders, cropped, anything it needs so it doesn't appear to be "real"

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Re: Funny that

Other old ones:

  • Swap mouse buttons
  • Remap mouse buttons to different functions (requires custom mouse application)
  • Small amount of tape on the optical sensor
  • Removing the battery of a wireless mouse
  • Swapping wireless mice between desks
  • Swapping wireless mouse dongles between systems

Project Reunion: Microsoft's attempt to tear down all those barriers it's built for Windows developers over the years

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Re: So let me get this straight

Non-static bindings may be a PITA to manage at first sight, but with a standard template library to manage them they work fine. And what's more, rather than an application just arbitrarily failing to load with no error messages or suggestions whatsoever as to what the problem is, it's possible to log and to present the user with a useful and meaningful error message as to why the application is failing to even load.

Alternatively embrace "modern" development, do no error handling whatsoever, leave expected errors to generic exception handlers and provide no logging or error messages at all when something goes wrong. Because it will.

A real loch mess: Navy larks sunk by a truculent torpedo

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Re: Of course it was going to hit the boat!

Pretty much inevitable really.

Many years ago, and before digital photography was even remotely widespread a friend at the time showed the (digital) video of when he and some friends gave their home made rocket powered it's maiden flight. It was large and had to be launched from a height of about six feet therefore was hand launched by a few people carrying it at shoulder height in the quasi-suicidal way that these guys operated. The plane launched successfully, dropped down to near ground height skimming the grass while very slowly gaining height. It was launched on a ranch, with the only things in sight other than grass being some very distant trees and a single, inexplicable, fence post several hundred metres away. Inevitably the plane hit this fence post dead on, not even a glancing blow.

I've tried searching for this video online, but just can't find it, which is a surprise seeing as these guys were pioneers in all things digital :(

NHS contact-tracing app is best in the world, says VMware CEO... whose company helped build it

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Re: Wear the mask

You forgot gloves...

They have value as long as the gloves are very regularly very carefully removed and carefully replaced with clean gloves. Failing to remove gloves very carefully is an issue with trained NHS staff, let alone the general public.

Not replacing gloves does nothing other than keep a virus off your own hands, it certainly doesn't help to prevent the spread of a virus, and some studies have indicated that wearing gloves spreads a virus faster.

Go on, hit Reply All. We dare you. We double dare you. Because Office 365 will defeat your server-slamming ways

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Re: spoilsports

Go to the printers as the C-level will print whatever document they have to the first printer in the list. If it doesn't turn up on the expected printer they'll typically print it again. After a few times they may try printing it to a different printer if they are particularly adventurous, but usually it will involve shouting for their PA to fix the printer (which has been working just fine and by now has printed out a dozen copies of a confidential report to a printer in a different room/office).

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Re: Amazing!

Luckily for me I only wound up having to deal with a single email storm and it wasn't a reply-all one. It was a stupidly configured server with an "out of office" auto-responder which responded every single time an email was received rather than just once to each sender. The sender, in NZ as it happens therefore a good 8-12 hour delay before I could contact their IT team, had sent an email to an invalid email address on our domain. Our server correctly responded at the SMTP conversation level that the email address was invalid at which point their server created a response for their user which generated a fresh "out of office" message to the invalid email address, which our server responded to and so on...

In the end I temporarily blackholed their domain and waited for the thousands of pending email messages and their responses to go through the queues.

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Re: User education

I've very occasionally done something like that in the past, but not for a long time as I learned to at least read the messages...

The worst techie example was a previous IT assistant that I had, who wasn't exactly the most talented despite his opinion of himself, who had a problem with his system and by the time he thought to raise it with me he had rebooted two core servers, restarted a firewall, restarted various services, restarted his own PC at least twice too and still couldn't resolve the problem. I had him demonstrate the problem to me and quick as a flash he closed the error dialog and continued with the process that he was having a problem with. I had him go back and start again and asked him this time to not close the error dialog and to instead read it. Frustratingly enough his muscle memory closed the error dialog a second time, but I managed to read a little of it and I knew that it would be reporting the problem. The next time he stopped and I had him read the error message: a user access level error that took us moments to fix. He'd been working on this problem for a day and a half.

The point of containers is they aren't VMs, yet Microsoft licenses SQL Server in containers as if they were VMs

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I'm struggling with the use case as to why someone would want to fire up a very light weight VM (which is what containers are meant to be) and have an instance of MS-SQL server running in it. MS-SQL is anything but light weight. I can understand lots of containers with MS-SQL clients running in them, but to fire up MS-SQL servers on demand? It feels like either a bit of an edge case or a rather "interesting" design choice.

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It's a nightmare isn't it? It took quite a lot of consultations with Microsoft's licensing monkeys to confirm and validate a solution.

In the end we have a license of Windows server datacentre edition with licenses for the number of cores on the VM host servers. This gives us an unlimited number of guest instances of windows server DC edition.

Senior MP tells UK Defence Committee on 5G security: Russia could become China's cyber-attack dog

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Re: Hanlon's razor

It's also very encumbered by patents. While this sort of works, this only remains the case as long as there are enough different patent holders that they are forced to cross-license them across all competitors - mergers of large organisations really don't help with this. When there are too few different patent holders the barrier to the entry to the market to any other organisation is so high that it's restricted to a few who then with less competition no longer have to worry about quality and innovation and can instead milk the market for all they can.

The solution is, of course, open standards. Unfortunately when it comes to theoretical and practical power and radio research this can rapidly become very expensive and that's before the different spectrum licensing regimes around the world come into play. As a result it's an expensive market to be in and the investment in research needs to be paid for somehow...

I'm fairly sure that arbitrarily deciding that individual suppliers are "bad" is not going to help though.

Browse mode: We're not goofing off on the Sidebar of Shame and online shopping sites, says UK's Ministry of Defence

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Re: world's biggest English-language news website

There is absolutely nothing of value on that hate filled trash site. Occasionally I click a link and accidently wind up on it and I'm never not appalled by what I see. It's all about rabble rousing, blaming others (doesn't matter who, as long as it's "others" - standard right wing hate propaganda) while pandering to bitter old people about how things were "better in the past" and the awful awful, sexualisation of women and girls while the rest of the content in it is the sexualusation of women and girls...

It's to the point that whenever I see somebody reading the print version I immediately think "racist" in my mind. That's not a constructive or nice generalisation to wind up making about people that I don't know but, given the content which is so insiduous and repetitive (brain washing, in effect) and the comments from those that read it, unfortunately inevitable.

What's worse than an annoying internet filter? How about one with a pre-auth remote-command execution hole and there's no patch?

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Re: Huh

FTFY: Security vulnerability in a web tool written in any scripting language; must be a day ending with "y".

Seriously... clueless developers abound and it's staggering the awful quality of code that gets vomitted out often using "modern", "progressive" and other bullshit excuses as to why errors don't need to be handled, to excuse the barely mappable mesh of external dependencies pulled in at uncontrolled times and why making a complicated mess is somehow a good idea.

As for repeating the same mistakes that have had solutions and well established best practices for well over 30 years? Never trust user input and only construct queries using proper parameters.

Florida man might just stick it to HP for injecting sneaky DRM update into his printers that rejected non-HP ink

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Re: HP printers

I first bought a brother laser printer about 15 years ago. It lasted about 12 years, drivers were simple, included in windows (even 10) and I only replaced it when so many parts were worn out that it was cheaper to buy a new printer than to repair all the drums and rollers and cogs and so on. I replaced it with a new Brother laser printer, of course. I also bought genuine toner from Brother because there was no point in buying cheaper copies as the price wasn't that different and frankly, I'd rather "reward" Brother with continued purchases than have them go down the horror of the HP route.

I'm doing this to stop humans ripping off brilliant ideas by computers and aliens, says guy unsuccessfully filing patents 'invented' by his AI

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I think we're safe. Six hours have passed and I can't see the Rise of the Machines in action so far.

Either that or they are just applying urgent software updates and are rebooting...

Mayday! Mayday! The next Windows 10 update is finally on approach to a PC near you

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Re: daubing the veteran OS with the Fluent Design brush.

You do realise that it was very easy to set directory exclusions for Windows Defender?

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Re: Just wait

Sorry, but I don't think you understand the scale of the combinations of hardware out there.

Let's take a typical laptop from a typical laptop manufacturer as this keeps the amount of user changes down to a minimum.

Just a single model of a laptop with a bland and seemingly consistent branding and model number will typically have a good number of hardware and firmware (BIOS) revisions from first launch to 9-12 months later when it's replaced by an almost identical model using cheaper, newer components but for a slightly higher price. To keep things simple let's assume only 5 revisions of the hardware between release and retirement, these changes are usually small, but will often require slightly different drivers or if not, they are still different somehow - otherwise they'd be the same. To keep things simple each of these 5 revisions is just a single change in some hardware, doesn't really matter what.

That's 5 revisions just for this single manufacturer's laptop model that lasts 6-9 months before it's replaced. However this is very far from the end of the these changes, because this model can be fitted with an option integral webcam and an option TPM chip. So we're now up to 20 different versions of the same laptop. But wait, there's a different US version due to some local WiFi nonsense therefore there's a US version and "rest of world" or "international" version. OK, we're now up to 40 different versions of the same laptop. It gets better though, because this is an international company and therefore the keyboard is available in American, English, German, French, Spanish, Portugese and so on.... let's just assume only 10 different keyboards are available. That means that we are now up to 400 versions of the same laptop/

* Assuming no numerical model interactions between the US only WiFi and American keyboards, it could be that the US WiFi model is only available with an American keyboard for instance - if this simplification offends you, just add some more keyboard layouts to the example...

It's a simplified example but it doesn't include the almost unlimited extra things that could be plugged into the laptop such as external monitors, docking stations, mice, keyboards, dongles, USB storage devices and so on. Many of which will have their own versions of hardware and drivers and integrate closely with the host system through DMA. This is before the different BIOS versions come into play and the different operating system versions and languages and installation options and whatever the user failed to click "no" to at the appropriate time.

Elevating cost-cutting to a whole new level with million-dollar bar bills

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Re: "Cars of the day... " Harumph. I owned an original shape Ford Ka from new.

It wasn't that long ago that certain models of Renault cars had a join in the wiring loom under the carpet in the passenger footwell. All "fine" unless it was repeatedly trodden on by a heavy passenger, crushed by a heavy object or when the car leaked and it got wet (in which case the standard "fix" was to just drill a hole in the floor of the car)

We're in a timeline where Dettol maker has to beg folks not to inject cleaning fluid into their veins. Thanks, Trump

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BoJo is 100% about BoJo - every message from him starts with "I", or comtains "me"... never "we". He has zero capacity to give a shit about anyone else other.

Humurous buffoon and all that aside... this is the charmer that had his PA buy his wife her birthday, anniversary and christmas presents. Every year.

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Re: Give a child the information in the wrong order.

I strongly suspect that anybody who dares to contradict his Trumpness in any kind of meeting is quickly and summarily fired. This leaves a room full of dire sycophants who are either entirely out for themselves regardless of what it does to the country or anyone else, or just try to suspend their disbelief and to try to survive the idiocracy by never disagreeing or being very careful not to appear to disagree.

Trump didn't get to be such a complete and utter narcissist by letting anybody question him.

IBM Watson GPU cloud cluster Brexits from London to Frankfurt – because GDPR

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Re: Presumably that only applies to UK users

The data already there... is already there.

Which is fine as long as absolutely no processing is performed on the data or the data does not include any data covered by the GDPR. It doesn't matter how or when the data gets there, it's the processing that matters (and data transfer is a process).

Microsoft 365 invites users to 'Ask Me Anything' – as long as it doesn't require a clued-up exec to deliver clear answers

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I can help you imagine how it looks...

  • Pick a narrow width font with verticals roughly half the width of Arial or Helvetica. Extra points if you find one where uppercase I(i), lowercase l(L) and the number 1 all look identical
  • Render this font in point size 8
  • In mid grey
  • On a white background

I've found that applying an override stylesheet is the only bloody way of being able to read the "modern" Microsoft web pages.

Paranoid Android reboots itself with new Android 10 builds

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Re: Don't post spoilers like that

The ending was a bit weak and a let down.

Worth watching though.

Europe publishes draft rules for coronavirus contact-tracing app development, on a relaxed schedule

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The ONS standards are that any number less than 10 is unreportable due to being too narrow in scope.

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Re: The Oxford paper doesn't say 60% is really enough

Please stop ranting.

However you are quite correct, once given power governments are usually very unkeen to let it go. In the UK some more sensible people forced the government to put a six month review period on the Coronavirus Act 2020 - as in it has to be specifically voted on again to continue for another six months.

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Re: We know what you did ...

There are massive shortages of equipment and there are no cures for the virus (and in most cases, there are no cures for viruses, just preventatives). Right now all we can do medically is to try to keep the patient alive until their own body can fight off the virus and this is why ventilators and all that are really important.

I've had the virus and got over it a couple of weeks ago with just minor post-viral pneumonia to show for it while my lungs are healing. The virus hit my lungs rather than my throat therefore I didn't have a cough, just bad chest pains and a somewhat reduced lung capacity.

Was it bad for me? No because I don't have any underlying breathing issues, or other serious health issues, and healthy lungs and the ability to fight off a virus are the key factors. Elderly people have a reduced ability to fight off new diseases and often have lung related issues as well therefore it's particularly bad for them.

For me, it was a bit worse than the usual seasonal flu which I tend to just ignore and get on with my life. However I was left short of breath, dizzy and confused as a result and even a just 15 minute telephone call resulted in a nap for an hour afterwards. For anyone with existing lung issues it would have been very unpleasant and very bad and likely to have required urgent medical intervention. If someone also had a reduced immune system and their body is slow to fight off the virus, it would spread much faster and be even more serious.

It's never been about me catching the virus, I expected to really, it's about me not passing it onto those that will suffer from it, mostly the elderly and those with existing lung conditions or weakened immune systems. There are also the occasional outliers who either has a genetic weakness to the virus, undiagnosed health issues or just crap unlucky and rather than start with a small infection get a large dose of it to start off with and thereby overloading their system before their bodies can fight it off... such as health care workers who are not given enough protective equipment.

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Re: We know what you did ...

Unfortunately while stupidity kills, it doesn't kill quick enough (for the rest of us)

Not only is Zoom's strong end-to-end encryption not actually end-to-end, its encryption isn't even that strong

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Re: Citizen Lab's visual demonstration of AES-ECB encrypting an image.

Given the encoding it would (should) be possible to differentiate the various structures, as in filter out the multiplexed audio out to start off with. That leaves the video data. Most live encoding schemes don't use B frames, for obvious reasons, therefore we're usually left with just I and P frames. I frames are usually identifiable by their size and consistency whereas P frames being what they are can be pretty much any size and in numner and describe any of the various deltas between first the I frame and the next generated frame and then from one generated P frame to the next... from block data changes, colour adjustments, block position changes (movement) and so on - they are very efficient and well compressed therefore quite unlikely to be readily guessable compared to the I frame. Which given all the block filtering won't be too easy to pick out anyway.

I do agree though, the example image is a bit unrealistic and unhelpful and is rather unlikely to be possible. However given better processes and more processing power? Who knows. Definitely best to avoid known weak encryption schemes.

A paper clip, a spool of phone wire and a recalcitrant RS-232 line: Going MacGyver in the wonderful world of hotel IT

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Re: Proper lash up

A place that I worked at in the early 1990s trialled automatic system documenting through extracting the comments from the source files. They gave up very quickly when they found what the developers had written in the comments...

Cloudflare goes retro with COBOL delivery service. Older coders: Who's laughing now? Turns out we're still vital

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Re: Retrieve the old textbooks

I don't have anything that old, but I have kept hold of some old computer magazines from the lates 1970s and early 1980s. I'm think a few were PCW (Personal Computer World) but others were more business oriented. Quite an interesting read just for the adverts alone but also the articles complaining about the same old problems!

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Nope, wrong character. Definitely C-hash. Which originally described it rather well, although to be fair it's matured a bit since although some of the language additions make me want to gouge my eyeballs out attempting to work out how the principle of being easy read and therefore less easy to make mistakes got fired into the sun at some point.

Iran military manages to keep a straight face while waggling miracle widget that 'can detect coronavirus from 100m away'

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Oh ye of such little faith

This can be proven to work so very easily:

  • Walk into a hospital with lots of Covid-19 patients in beds.
  • Point the device at the patients and any suspect looking staff.

Done, proven.

I may have been hoping a long range temperature sensor - point it at someone's forehead and measure their temperature, but this so much better! :)

Linux fans thrown a bone in one Windows 10 build while Peppa Pig may fly if another is ready in time for this year

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Re: I will avoid Windows 10 for as long as I can

Unless you enjoy a default that breaks almost every single UI design principle and other than this is an inconsistent half-baked mess... I'd avoid anything with the Win8 UI (desktop and server) if at all possible. While it is possible to install NoStart (or others), this doesn't fix the entire mess that everything else is.

The Win8 UI makes the Win10 UI look well thought out and good.

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Re: The Matrix 4?

I know, it would be amazing. Can you imagine just how good a sequel to The Matrix could be. Shame they never made one.

OK brainiacs, we've got an IT cold case for you: Fatal disk errors on an Amiga 4000 with 600MB external SCSI unless the clock app is... just so

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Re: The SCSI implementation on the Amiga was badly broken.

There were a few different scsi.device implementations around and one was very well advised to use the latest stable version.

The next issue was the filesystem driver which also needed to be updated to a version that coped better with different, generally faster, speeds of CPU.

In many ways the Amiga OS's implementation of such things was very elegant, flexible and extendable. From memory, at the time, there were no other systems capable of reading and writing so many different devices and formats. Generally the only one that caused a lot of trouble was the MAC diskette because it used a variable rotation rate.

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Re: Just a guess, TTL timing?

Wow. That's a bit of detective work, and ever so slightly out of every single C64's warranty period!

Upstart Americans brandish alligators at the almighty Reg Standards Soviet

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Re: It's crocodiles that'll eat you.

Sounds about right. From memory there are considerably more deaths in Africa due to hippos than any other large animal, other than fellow humans.

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Re: I heard ~9 meters is how far the virus can travel...

How far can a droplet of water travel? That's how far the virus can travel.

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Re: Of course! Cricket!

Please! A cricket bat is 6.894 linguine in length (0.481 Osmans). Enough of the fangled antiquated imperial measurements, they're just not, erm, cricket.

Microsoft attempts to up its Teams game with new features while locked-down folk flock to rival Zoom... warts and all

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Re: User configured backdrops? Woot.

By way of text the Microsoft "standard" is now a tiny, really narrow pitch font rendered in a mid grey on a white background. Basically, nearly fucking unreadable.

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Control of file management in teams...

Control of file management in teams... where is it? It's been asked for as a feature for years rather than crappy background substitution. The usual Microsoft rep response is to "go do one, we know best and we want your staff to share your corporate documents in an uncontrolled way".

With the slightly paranoid data management and policy hat on... it is not remotely acceptable to not be able to lock down the teams client to prevent the creation of online data silos. Allowing the instant distribution, sharing and duplication of files on external servers hosted in unknown regimes (possibly the US, therefore zero data protection) is not remotely acceptable in any passably regulated industry or any organisation that deals with sensitive personal data. This is aside from other critical data management tasks such as the discovery and backing up of data.... also pretty much impossible with Teams.

Microsoft prevents Domain of Danger from falling into miscreants' paws by forking out cash for corp.com

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Once Upon A Time it was Best Practice.

I never understood how it could be Best Practice back then - it always seemed to be a really stupid thing to do. No AD setup I ever created used a .local domain however I inherited a lot of them over the years and they have all been annoying.

Real-time tragedy: Dumb deletion leaves librarian red-faced and fails to nix teenage kicks on the school network

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Quake used a software 3D engine that required a maths coprocessor (which was becoming standard in many CPUs at this time).

C&C used a sprite based rendering engine, no heavy 3D calculations required.

Ethernet standards group leaves its name in the dust as it details new 800Gbps spec

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That's shocking. Just shocking.

What is the porn industry going to about this abusive and flagrant, blatant even, stealing of bandwidth by the likes of netflix, amazon and so on? Do they have the financual reserves to be able to lobby (bribe) enough politicians?


Apple creates face shield for health workers, resists the temptation to call it the 'iMask'

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Can't knock Apple for this kind of thing.

Even if one was to be really harshly cynical and call it a marketing/awareness exercise, it's still a good thing.

Official: Office 365 Personal, Home axed next month... and replaced by Microsoft 365 cloud subscriptions

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Re: Aduntgeddit

Oh dear, "Algorithmic Inference (AI)."... that's good. And considerably more likely to be correct than any form of neural net processing being anywhere near a spell checker. Possibly a very small amount of machine learning, but Artificial Intelligence? Not likely. Most likely just a few more data processing algorithms.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, health secretary Matt Hancock both test positive for COVID-19 coronavirus

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Re: Brexit Bus...

If you are having trouble with horoscopes and have come back here... if you read what I wrote, I pointedly stated that there was in inflationary increase in the budget year on year. This is not "new spend", this is nothing more than inflationary increases so the NHS budget is not slashed further. Claiming that a regular inflationary increase is "new spend" or something that counters the abject lies of the Brexit bus shows a total gullibility and failure to understand the maths. Are you even trying to suggest that only because of Brexit that the government are increasing the NHS budget in line with inflation, and that without this they would not be and therefore effectively reducing the NHS budget even more every year?


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