* Posts by Dave K

302 posts • joined 25 Apr 2008

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Sysadmin’s worst client was … his mother! Until his sister called for help

Dave K
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Re: Dave

If she couldn't figure out document naming, right clicking and looking at the modified date is going to be a stretch.

Plus, can you remember what date you created a certain set of worksheets last year? Helps to narrow things down a bit I grant you, but still hardly a perfect solution!

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Dave K
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Ahh, parents

My mum wasn't especially computer literate either, but as a primary school teacher she increasingly started to use the PC at home for creating work sheets, reports and various other bits of work. Incredibly, she did manage to get the hang of selecting the "Sue" folder in "My Documents" when saving the files, but had a nasty habit of simply accepting the default filenames that Word suggests (ie, usually the first sentence of the document). She also did not get the hang of subfolders.

Result, one single folder after a couple of years with about 400 documents in it, all called things like "Chapter 1.doc", "Chapter 1 (2).doc", "4+3=.doc", "Ben and Sarah went to the shops to.doc" etc. And then she wondered why it was difficult trying to find some earlier work she'd done so that she could modify and update it...

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Huawei P20 Pro: Triple Lens Shooter promises the Earth ...

Dave K
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For me, an £800 phone with no SD card slot and no headphone jack is a real deal-breaker. Why would I pay premium money to lose two of the key features from my current phone?

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2018's Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop is a lovely lappie

Dave K
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Agreed. I find several HP trackpads to be too large these days and my wife argues the same with her Samsung laptop. Problem is that if the trackpad is too large, you cannot rest your palms when typing without constantly catching the trackpad and moving the cursor/carat around. Result, my wife has her trackpad disabled 95% of the time and has to use a mouse - which renders the trackpad largely useless overall.

And still a 16:9 movie-friendly screen I see. If Lenovo, HP, Dell or someone could make a nice business laptop like this with a 16:10 or 3:2 matte screen, I'd buy one in a snap! Yes, such screens are more expensive. But then, this is an expensive laptop, so it is annoying to see them penny-pinching over the screen.

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Dave K
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Re: US$2,579.00

@AC - don't need wifi, bluetooth, speakers, mic, video camera built in.

Bluetooth is the only one I can agree with. Well, that and more USB ports and an RJ45 port of course.

For the others, you've obviously never taken your work laptop into a meeting room (hang on, where's my net connection gone), or attended Skype/Jabber calls with one (no mic, camera or speakers)? It's easy to say that headsets solve these, but when I'm working from home, why bother with a headset if I'm in a room by myself? I've also attended conference calls with a group in a meeting room with my laptop - hence speakers and mic become essential.

If you are worried about the camera, some recent Lenovos have had a mechanical shutter you can close over the camera. This is a far better solution than removing the camera altogether.

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It's baaack – WannaCry nasty soars through Boeing's computers

Dave K
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"Anyone care to speculate what would happen if they did?"

Anguished yells from the cockpit of "Hey Cortana, what the f**k" when the Windows-powered guidance system decides to reboot to install critical updates, just as the pilots are in the middle of a choppy and misty approach to a busy airport...

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Microsoft's Windows 7 Meltdown fixes from January, February made PCs MORE INSECURE

Dave K
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Control

Funnily enough, it's situations like this why I demand proper control over updates. As I have an AMD system (hence, no Meltdown), I chose not to apply the January patches. Thought I'd let the worst of the issue blow over, and give chance for any bugs in the (rushed) patches to be sorted out and fixed first of all. As a couple of months have passed, I was now beginning to think about patching, and then this story rises up.

I will apply the patches to my system in due course, but MS's "quality control" doesn't have the greatest reputation lately, hence why I prefer to delay installation a bit first.

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BOFH: Give me a lever long enough and a fool, I mean a fulcrum and ....

Dave K
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Hope Simon unplugged the Management Buzzword Detector before that meeting, otherwise I smell a combustation-oriented workplace depopulation on the horizon...

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User asked why CTRL-ALT-DEL restarted PC instead of opening apps

Dave K
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Re: Feeling Old...

Indeed, I remember having two or three different boot floppies around for certain different games. I still remember today that Dune 2 needed 604k of free conventional memory in order to run. DOS 6 then came along and made the process a lot easier by including "memmaker" that could automatically load as much as possible into high memory for you.

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El Reg deep dive: Everything you need to know about UK.gov's pr0n block

Dave K
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Re: Still at it

People should have a right to be able to access legal content (regardless of how seedy or unpalatable you may perceive it to be), without having their personal details required by law to be logged in a nice big tracking database.

People should also have a right to privacy in their own homes.

Or do you disagree with these?

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Five things you need to know about Microsoft's looming Windows 10 Spring Creators Update

Dave K
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Re: I don't know what I'll be using for OS on my next machine ...

My decision is a while off yet. Only built my current PC at the end of last year. I have to admit to running Windows, but its Windows 7 on here (despite MS trying to block me from doing so). In a couple of years time when Windows 7 support ends, I'll have to re-evaluate my options. One thing is for sure, it won't be Windows 10 in its current guise.

And before people suggest Linux, I do use it on a couple of my systems, but I have too much MS-only software/games for my main system to make Linux an option on here.

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Dave K
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Business as usual

"the company basically doesn't care about you"

Nothing new there. Microsoft hasn't cared about the user for ages. Windows 7 is probably the last time that Microsoft cared in any way about the user experience with Windows.

Ultimately, it's more of the same. A few very minor tweaks that are hardly worth mentioning, some secretive changes that MS won't mention, and yet more disruption as everyone's PCs spend ages updating again. Well, everyone with Windows 10 anyway...

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CTS who? AMD brushes off chipset security bugs with firmware patches

Dave K
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A lot of the people sticking up for AMD are doing so because these flaws have been blown out of all proportion, and have been disclosed in a manner designed to try and cause maximum financial damage to AMD. The whole point of researching flaws in software/hardware products should be to allow them to be fixed to improve security, not to try and make a quick buck by blowing them out of all proportion whilst crapping on the companies involved so you can short-sell their stock. Whatever your thoughts on the flaws, CTS's conduct regarding the disclosure of these flaws absolutely stinks.

Had the typical process been followed (flaws disclosed to AMD to give chance for patches to be developed first), these flaws may well have been easily patched long before public disclosure - in which case, no big deal at all. After all, pretty much all complex software and hardware systems will contain security flaws that are identified and mitigated over time.

They even went to the level of calling one of the flaws "RYZENFALL". Again, a deliberately inflammatory name designed to try and damage AMD's brand.

When a firm attempts to profit from security issues in this manner, they deserve all the stick they get.

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Office junior had one job: Tearing perforated bits off tractor-feed dot matrix printer paper

Dave K
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Re: out of paper!

I've seen that before when someone had the wrong printer selected. Thought they were printing to one just down from their desk, but actually had one further down the corridor selected. Once I pointed this out to them and we went to the correct printer, we found 16 copies of their report in the tray...

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It's Pi day: Care to stuff a brand new Raspberry one in your wallet?

Dave K
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Another good thing to note is that the new SoC can supposedly decode H265 streams in hardware. For someone like me that uses a Pi as a media centre, this is a welcome addition!

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Stephen Hawking dies, aged 76

Dave K
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A tragic loss of a brilliant mind and a sharp wit.

When once asked what he thought about fame, his response was "The downside of my celebrity is that I cannot go anywhere in the world without being recognised. It is not enough for me to wear dark sunglasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away".

Rest in peace Stephen Hawking.

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Developer mistakenly deleted data - so thoroughly nobody could pin it on him!

Dave K
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Penny pinching...

It never ceases to amaze me how companies have documents, systems and other intellectual property worth millions, yet don't want to spend a comparatively paltry amount of money to ensure that information is properly and securely backed up and protected. Many don't learn until something like this happens...

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A smartphone recession is coming and animated poo emojis can't stop it

Dave K
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Re: "Phone makers had banked they could compensate for slowing volume by pushing up prices"

And a headphone jack - the removal of which is certainly putting myself off a lot of new phones...

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Microsoft says 'majority' of Windows 10 use will be 'streamlined S mode'

Dave K
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Majority to use S mode?

Really? This prediction coming from a company that predicted that users would accept the Metro Start screen in Windows 8? The same company that predicted that a locked down and effectively S-Mode-only ARM tablet would be a success (Windows RT powered surface)?

MS haven't exactly done a stellar job lately of predicting what their customers want.

My prediction, a minority of people will use it. Businesses predominantly won't use it as most of them use desktop apps that won't work in S mode (I don't know of any businesses that run everything they need from the Microsoft Store), most home users won't use it because again, they often run apps that aren't available in S mode (games being a big example for many). The only people that will use it is very restricted use scenarios such as some schools, public terminals and your old gran who just uses The Internet to access iPlayer and BBC News...

Note, not necessarily knocking S Mode here, just MS's daft prediction...

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10 PRINT "ZX81 at 37" 20 GOTO 10

Dave K
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"Your imagination has died with age."

Agreed. I'm a bit too young for the ZX81, I cut my teeth on the BBC. Games like Repton 3, Pac Man, Defender and of course Elite are still fun today, and really show just how much you can get out of these machines with some clever programming!

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Reg man wraps head in 49-inch curved monitor

Dave K
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Re: So what about...

Agreed. Personally I find 60Hz fine for gaming (with v-sync to prevent any tearing) and instead prefer the extra height of a 16:10 screen - more world on the screen with less space taken up by the HUD.

As it is, although it might be possible at a push to tell the difference between 60Hz and 100-120Hz, I'd love to see anyone who could play two machines (in a blind test) and spot the difference between 120Hz and 144Hz.

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Dave K
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It varies. I have three monitors, a 1920x1200 screen in the middle, and two 16:00x1200 monitors each side. Although there's the black bezels inbetween, it does at least mean that I can very easily snap three applications on the screens at once. For two screens however, I can accept that a single wider monitor would be better.

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Sysadmin left finger on power button for an hour to avert SAP outage

Dave K
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Re: Typed 'Reboot' where ... ?

It's unfortunate if he was otherwise a good admin. After all, if there's one thing you do know afterwards is that you have an admin who isn't going to make that mistake again in a hurry...

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Dave K
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Well, I'm assuming that as these were Y2K updates, we're talking of a server from around the mid-90s. I still saw plenty of AT (ie, mechanical) off switches in those days.

As it is, hindsight is a wonderful thing. However, mistakes do happen...

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My PC is broken, said user typing in white on a white background

Dave K
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Unfortunately, that's quite common at a lot of places. Tickets are often allowed to be "pended" and hence have the SLA counter paused if you're either waiting on the user for something (more info required and they're not answering phone/e-mails), or waiting on a third party (ie, order to arrive, PC supplier to come and fix the PC, etc). Given that a lot of larger companies grade their support personnel by their SLA metrics, finding feasible and justifiable ways to pause the SLA counter on tickets is quite common.

On a different note, my favourite one was from a few years back - made all the more amusing that the user that showed up at my desk previously worked for general IT support (before moving over to providing ERP support). Anyway, the user handed me a faulty mouse and asked for a replacement. I calmly turned the mouse upside-down and pointed out the strip of gaffer tape that one of their colleagues had applied to the sensor for a laugh. Cue a red-faced user making a hasty retreat!

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4G found on Moon

Dave K
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Re: My hopes and dreams, dashed.

I'm just wondering how pissed off so many people will be to realise that there's better mobile phone reception on the moon than in their own home.

Of course, It'll get really interesting once the Moon gets proper fibre broadband installed...

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A bit of intel on AMD's embedded Epyc and Ryzen processors

Dave K
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Re: Still waiting for my ThreadRipper

Zen is not supported on Windows 7. Saying that, I've managed to get my Ryzen 7 to work fine with Windows 7, but I appreciate that it's not an officially supported configuration, so it's always going to be a case of YMMV.

AMD do a bit better than Intel here at least. Windows 7 drivers are available for most bits, whereas with my Kaby Lake NUC, I had to resort to editing driver INI files in order to get the IRIS graphics working under Windows 7.

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Batteries are so heavy, said user. If I take it out, will this thing work?

Dave K
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>>"Perhaps a little basic maintenance / checking should be included in the driving test?"

Actually, it is these days. There's a couple of basic questions before you set off relating to this and the instructor will ask you to raise the bonnet and will ask a couple of simple questions such as how to check the oil level, how to check the coolant level etc. Can't remember off-hand when it was added to the test mind you, but it was certainly there back in 2005 when I took my test.

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iPhone X 'slump' is real, whisper supply chain moles

Dave K
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Re: Don't Apple do this every year?

>> "No one upgrading because the current tech is "good enough"."

Fully agree, but I'd also add that on top of existing tech being good enough, the added problem is that the replacements are getting so darned expensive. Hence, replace a fast, fluid and fully working phone with one that's only slightly faster and flashier for $1,000?? Easy to see why more and more people are saying "No" to this.

And to note, Samsung are getting there as well. Last time I was due an upgrade, I did look at a new Samsung phone, but balked at the price before sticking with my existing handset.

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Ubuntu wants to slurp PCs' vital statistics – even location – with new desktop installs

Dave K
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Re: Sounds like Windows

>> "It'll be interesting to see how the Linux fan bois who are always bashing Microsoft's data collection respond to this"

Easy!

1) Canonical provided a simple and clear list of what they want to collect, right from the off. MS didn't.

2) Canonical provide an "Off" option that completely disables the data collection, and presents it to you during installation. OK it might be better if it was opt-in rather than opt-out, but the point is that it's easy to switch it off.

Hence, you can see what they collect, and easily switch it off. If MS were clear and provided a functioning "Off" switch, there'd be a lot less animosity aimed towards them.

PS: Also, not a Linux fanboi. I have Ubuntu on one system, but all my main machines run Windows 7.

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Microsoft's Windows 10 Workstation adds killer feature: No Candy Crush

Dave K
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The biggest issue however is that Candy Crush keeps coming back. With all previous Windows versions, you could remove the games (either via a custom install, or via the "Turn Windows features on or off" applet), and they were gone for good. Not in Windows 10 where Candy Crush keeps on popping up again like an unflushable turd.

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Dave K
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Re: A thought.

4 Processors, not 4 cores.

I have an 8-core Ryzen CPU in my current desktop (with AMD's hyperthreading, so shows as 16 cores to Windows). Both Windows 7 (primary OS) and Windows 10 (popped it onto a spare disk to confirm it is still shit) spotted and supported all physical and virtual cores.

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Still not on Windows 10? Fine, sighs Microsoft, here are its antivirus tools for Windows 7, 8.1

Dave K
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Re: Marketing vs reality again

"We hear from our customers security is one of the biggest motivators for their move to Windows 10,"

In my experience, the two biggest motivators are the fact that Windows 7 goes EOL in less than 2 years (and companies have bad memories of the rush and cost when it came to eliminating XP usage before support ran out), plus the fact that MS has made sure that it's increasingly difficult to buy new systems that support Windows 7 (due to the Kaby Lake+ block).

As such, most customers I see are moving to Windows 10 because they're being forced to do so, not because they want to. And it's not surprising. Most companies want a reliable and stable platform for their systems, not one that gets regular and major "feature upgrades" that offer little-to-no benefit whilst making office PCs unusable for hours at a time (due to the upgrade), and also causing additional downtime (when a PC fails to upgrade properly).

Hence, many customers don't like Windows 10 compared to Windows 7, but feel as if they have little alternative right now.

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No Windows 10, no Office 2019, says Microsoft

Dave K
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Re: As soon as Windows 7 support finishes

>>"I would be pretty disappointed in a laptop that only lasted 7 years. I have a 12 year old one (HP/Compaq) and a 9 year old one (Asus) that still work fine"

Agreed, nothing a few upgrades won't generally fix. My main laptop is a Lenovo X201 from 2010 (last good laptop Lenovo made IMO). Popped an SSD in it, upped the RAM to 8GB and it still runs very speedily indeed - plenty fast enough for everything I throw at it. The battery life was getting a bit poor though, so I bought a new one for it and I'm back up to around 8 hours off a single charge. The old girl still has plenty of life left in her (and remains resolutely free of Windows 10, like all my computing products apart from one Windows 10 test laptop I keep laying around).

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Should ISPs pay to block pirate websites? Supreme Court to decide

Dave K
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Re: Pass it on

>>Just to play the devils advocate....

Sorry, rubbish analogy. A better one would be to say that the police/councils can pass the cost of installing speed cameras (to catch those flouting the speed limits) onto the DVLA - seeing as it's the DVLA that collects the road tax which is used for maintaining the roads.

Even then, it's still not a great analogy really.

Ultimately, I for once agree with BT. If a company wants a dodgy site blocked (because they either cannot be bothered to go after the actual perpetrators, or can't for some reason) and they manage to get a court order for it, they should pay the costs for the block.

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Borked bog forces flight carrying 83 plumbers to bug out back to base

Dave K
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83 plumbers on a flight with no working loo? Sounds like a piss-up to me!

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Ubuntu reverting to Xorg in Bionic Beaver

Dave K
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Re: It is the video hardware driver's fault

I'd have to disagree. On my NUC (Intel Iris graphics), I had major problems with 17.10. Every time the monitor is disconnected, the session crashed and all running programs closed. Disconnecting the monitor is often for me as the NUC runs as a little home-server and is controlled via a KVM. Only solution I could find in the end was to downgrade. Not sure whether this is a Wayland issue or a Gnome one, but either way it was a pretty nasty bug.

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Microsoft whips out tool so you can measure Windows 10's data-slurping creepiness

Dave K
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More control?

>> "and to provide you with increased control over that data," said Windows and Device Group privacy officer Marisa Rogers on Wednesday. "This is all part of our commitment to increase your trust and confidence in our products and services."

If you want to provide more control and increase customer trust, PROVIDE A F*CKING OFF SWITCH!

Doesn't matter how transparent you are, a lot of people (understandably) don't want Redmond knowing exactly what they have installed, how they're using it, etc.

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'WHAT THE F*CK IS GOING ON?' Linus Torvalds explodes at Intel spinning Spectre fix as a security feature

Dave K
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Having an "Opt-In" solution to security is potentially very dangerous. It should be the other way around - apply the security fix unless the user/application explicitly configures otherwise (being aware of the potential risks), or unless a processor flag confirms that the CPU is not vulnerable. I'm fine with the option being changeable, but Opt-In is very risky.

Ulimtately, there should be three options - the CPU does have the "fixed" flag, so no performance sapping workarounds are used, the CPU does NOT have the "fixed" flag, so the performance sapping workaround is applied (by default), and thirdly the CPU does not have the "fixed" flag and the user has explicitly opted out of the workaround (at their own risk).

Of course the issue here is that Intel are not only planning on a flag to show that their CPUs are fixed (via microcode), they're wanting kernel developers to then opt into the fix (such that it won't be applied by default).

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Dave K
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"I wonder if there's a compromise. Introduce another flag that shows it's not broken"

Isn't that the same as a flag to say it's secure? This is what Linus is wanting - future CPUs to state "I'm fixed" so that the performance-sapping workarounds aren't applied. Intel on the other hand is wanting the security fix to be opt-in, which as Linus rightfully states as insane.

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User had no webcam or mic, complained vid conference didn’t work

Dave K
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Re: Your Network is broken!

My favourite one (and a familiar one to many) is the phone call from a user asking if "the system is down". This is of course for a company spread across the globe with probably neck end of a thousand different systems here and there...

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Sueball smacks AMD over processor chip security flaw silence

Dave K
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Also, if this wins it will set in motion a dangerous precedent. What about software flaws? These are also typically not made public for several months to allow for patches to be developed. If a particularly nasty one crops up and MS's share price dips a little, will shareholders start trying to sue (if they believe they can win) - even though by the time it's made public patches are available?

Let's be honest, AMD's share price should recover. After all the Spectre flaws affect pretty much all current CPUs, and the patches for these are application level and should not really affect performance. It's a far different story with Intel where the Meltdown fixes can cause substantial performance losses for some workloads (particularly in data centres).

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PC lab in remote leper colony had wrong cables, no licences, and not much hope

Dave K
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Re: Sounds perfectly normal

Yep, MIPSPro is indeed licensed software. GCC isn't too difficult to install however, check out Nekoware for a nice library of IRIX binaries, GCC 4.7 is amongst them.

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Hold on to your aaSes: Yup, Windows 10 'as a service' is incoming

Dave K
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Re: Who didn't see this coming?

And yet Microsoft don't realise that many people don't want an endless stream of "improvements" - especially when these involve lengthy installations (during which time the PC is unusable), and a steady stream of issues when these "improvements" break other applications or fail to install properly.

The fact that Windows 7 is still doing so well should kind of hint that a sizable percentage of users don't care about "the latest features" and prefer long term stability over a steady stream of changes. Other vendors recognise this (for example, Ubuntu gives everyone the choice of the regularly updated version, or the more stable LTS version). Unfortunately MS seems to think that only very specific businesses might want a stable and dependable version of Windows, so the LTSB branch is out of reach for most home users.

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It gets worse: Microsoft’s Spectre-fixer wrecks some AMD PCs

Dave K
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>>"Others have been able to do so, only to have their machines quickly download and install the problematic patch all over again"

And this milord is exactly why mandatory and forced updates are a BAD thing!

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Microsoft patches Windows to cool off Intel's Meltdown – wait, antivirus? Slow your roll

Dave K
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Re: Huge Baby Huge

>> "I dont' see anything that looks like a microcode update from Intel to address the root cause."

That's because Meltdown is beyond the scope of a microcode fix.

As a result, the "fix" doesn't actually fix your CPU at all - it re-writes core parts of your OS so that the CPU flaw can no longer expose parts of kernel memory. That's why this fix involves lots of patched Windows files. Think of it more as a workaround than a resolution :)

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Kernel-memory-leaking Intel processor design flaw forces Linux, Windows redesign

Dave K
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Re: Hmmm...

The other issue here is what MS does regarding Windows 7. It would not surprise me in the least if they tried a clever/efficient patch for Windows 10 and a simpler (and slower) bodge-job for Windows 7/8. Still, I guess we'll find out soon enough. They'd also better make sure that the changes only apply to Intel machines. I don't want MS to arbitrarily slow down my AMD PC as a result of this - you'll note that AMD submitted a Linux patch to ensure their CPUs weren't caught up in this, will MS do the same?

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Dave K
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>>Intel has been the Gold standard in processors.....

>That was a joke, right ??

There have been other black marks too. The 3.8GHz Prescott P4s that throttle under repeated high load. The whole dirty Rambus saga, the 1.13GHz PIII that had to be recalled due to stability issues, the CPU serial number privacy scandal, etc.

Although Intel seemed to have turned a corner since Core 2 Duo came along, they've made loads of previous muck-ups.

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Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the data centre temp's delightful

Dave K
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Should add, I've also lost air-con to a server room at a later job due to the weather. This time I was working at a University and was in charge of a small server room for one of the departments. During winter, I came in one morning to find the room like a sauna and the air-con system pumping out warm air.

The reason was that the external air-con units had been mounted on the ground outside (this was a first-floor room) as it was cheaper than running chiller pipes up to the roof. The building had a sloped roof, and we'd had some snow a few days before. As the snow began to melt, a huge pile slid off the roof and buried the external units which promptly tripped out due to the sudden lack of airflow. And just like that, every air-con unit stopped and up rocketed the temps!

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Dave K
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Had an issue with humidifiers many years ago myself. We rocked up at work one day (this was at a local council) to find the server room covered in puddles of water. It was dripping through ceiling tiles, all the vents, everything. Obviously the first thing we did was to immediately shut everything down and kill the power to the room to protect the servers and reduce the risk of electric shock.

After the maintenance guys had taken a look, we found out the problem. Turned out that the previous day, a new humidity control system had been installed for the building's central ventilation system. The job however had only been half done and the control unit for the humidity regulator wasn't set up properly. They'd then left the system pumping out maximum humidity overnight. Unfortunately, the main plant room was adjacent to our server room, and the first place this nicely humid air went was through the ducts/vents above the server room.

Of course, the server room is a cool room due to the air-con, so the moisture in the air immediately condensed and dripped out all over the place. My colleague's LCD screen had over a litre of water in it when we tipped it upside-down.

The solution was to install the proper control unit for the humidity system, and re-direct the vents so that the "central air" system no longer pumped through the vents above the server room. Amazingly we lost no servers due to this. The only casualty was a desktop PC that ended up with blue/green rust on the motherboard. Even the previously mentioned LCD screen worked fine once we took it apart, dried it out thoroughly and then re-assembled it.

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