* Posts by Russ Pitcher

24 posts • joined 29 May 2008

Tech support discovers users who buy the 'sh*ttest PCs known to Man' struggle with basics

Russ Pitcher

I recall my early days in the industry when I was still playing the desktop support role. One user who had been working at the company for at least six months, and who I was, shall we say, familiar with, put in a call for urgent assistance. As he worked just around the corner from the HellDesk I popped out straight away. On arrival at his desk he gave me an apologetic look and told me that he had a knotty problem with a word document he was writing. He showed me the screen that had a single line of large point text on it, looked me in the eye and said "Sorry to bother you, but I've tried everything and I'm stumped. How do you get the cursor onto the next line?"

I stared mute at him for about five seconds then, without breaking eye contact, reached out and hit the enter key. Bless him, his face lit up like a Christmas tree and he couldn't thank me enough. "I'll have to remember that!" he said as I left him, more than a little bemused that he has survived in the job that long without that kind of knowledge.

I wish I was making that up!

BOFH: The case of the suspicious red icon

Russ Pitcher

Re: 1bs

I kid you not, I once had a new, mid-30s and supposedly experienced user raise an urgent call. I got to his desk quickly where he sat with MS Word open and one line of text (at about 48pt) with the cursor at blinking away the end.

He leaned towards me and in a perplexed voice said, "I've spent about 15 minutes trying everything and nothing works. How do I start writing the next line??"

I leaned over, hit Enter and walked off without a word. If it hadn't happened to me I wouldn't have believed it...

Watchdog snaps: Privatise the Land Registry? What a terrible idea!

Russ Pitcher

Re: Dogma

Whilst, in essence, competition is generally a good thing that's not always the case. Additionally, can you imagine the pain of buying a house if you had to choose which company to use to get your land registered?

In the end we'd probably wind up with something akin to the privatisation of the water companies. There are, I think, six of them so that must mean that there is competition - brilliant! Until you realise that each company covers a particular area and the consumers have absolutely no choice of provider. So what was created was basically six monopolies.

I can see no benefit whatsoever in privatising the Land Registry, apart from a quick windfall of cash and, if I'm being cynical, profits for their mates.

Elite: Dangerous 'billionaire' gamers are being 'antisocial', moan players

Russ Pitcher

Re: Tickets

I'm not sure where you got your number from, but in the pre-release Gamma stage there were over 170,000 players and a lot more have joined since. The game has been delivered to everyone who has paid for it. Apart from a few glitch cases, as far as I can tell the vast majority of players are happy.

I've backed the game on day 2 of the Kickstarter and have been testing and playing since Alpha 1. Yes, there are issues, just like any other major online release, but I feel that they are getting slated a little too much. I've gone to LaveCon and the launch party and spoken at great length to a number of the developers. The impression I have formed of the devs I spoke to and the company in general is that they genuinely care about making the very best game they can. Of course money is an issue but it's far from the only driving force.

Rosetta probot drilling denied: Philae has its 'leg in the air'

Russ Pitcher

Pot, meet kettle

Don't be an idiot - how many comets have you landed on? I would prefer to talk about the amazing achievement and put it alongside the great successes of others, particularly NASA, but if we're resorting to purile one-upmanship then I'm game for that. I could point out that Beagle 2 was a low budget mission, about $100 million in today's money. Perhaps I should list a few other failed Mars missions and their rough budgets in today's money:

Mariner 3 - ~$300 Million ($55M 1970$) - Failed - Fairing didn't separate

Mariner 8 - ~$300 Million ($55M 1970$) - Failed - Didn't get into orbit

Mars Observer - ~$1300 Million ($813M 1993$) - Failed - Lost comms before orbital insertion

Mars Climate Orbiter - ~$460 Million ($327M 1999$) - Failed - Burned up

Mars Polar Lander - ~$155 Million (110M 1999$) - Failed - Landing failure

Deep Space 2 - $47 Million (29M 1999$) - Failed - No data returned

Why not applaud the successes of the incredibly complex decade-long flight and landing and note the fact that the primary objectives were only 60 hours long and it looks like they'll achieve most of them.

Whichever way you look at it it's something to celebrate.

Obama HURLS FCC under train, GUTPUNCHES ISPs in net neut battle

Russ Pitcher

Prioritize the type, not the source.

I'm happy with different TYPES of packets being prioritized - video, voice etc - using some sort of QOS. What I'm not happy with is different SOURCES of packets being prioritized/delayed.

If ALL vidoe packets were slowed, then that would affect ALL providers on that network. That's fair and provides a differentiator between this ISP and that ISP. If Netflix packets are prioritized and StartupVideoOnDemandCo packets are hindered then that is NOT reasonable.

Surely the basic principle is simple: If you connect using my network then you pay $x/GB transferred and/or $y according to the top speed of the connection. Add price bands for volume and you're done. Simple. It shouldn't matter whether you are Joe Nobody with your 2MB personal link to the world or Jack Google with your 10TB backbone.

If the peering connections are completely unbalanced then clearly peering as it stands does not work and you should create new agreements and balance the pricing and/or service between the ISPs, not charge the end users to carry their traffic! If the ISPs want the protection of Common Carrier status then they should behave like common carriers. Obama is in essence correct - an Internet connection is pretty much a necessary utility these days and will only become more and more necessary. I wish the UK gov would think the same and ensure that everyone in the UK has an acceptable connection if they want one. It should be part of the basic infrastructure now!

Astounding: We're about to stick a probe in orbit of a COMET

Russ Pitcher

Re: "Rosetta craft screams 6 billion km through space to reach its cosmic prey"

Ah, but just because no-one can hear you, it doesn't mean you're not screaming!

Virgin Media boss AND ex-Murdoch man: BSkyB broadband is 'lousy'

Russ Pitcher

Re: Sieze the opportunity

I've also been with Virgin (née ntl, née CableTel) since the minute they dug a trench outside my house and I've had a somewhat different experience.

I had about a 30% uptime for the first six months with many, many hours on the phone CableTel simply lying to me about where the issues being 'outside their network'. Being the geeky type I immediately proved them wrong and got 3 months service for free. To be fair the service improved rapidly and was generally stable, although the customer service was a joke for years. For the past three years or so however, the service had been terrible. I get outages of an hour or so around once a month and every three or four months I have outages of many hours. The customer service is awful - I have more than once spent over FOUR HOURS waiting in a queue - and despite me providing plenty of appropriate diagnostic information, they insist I walk through their muppet script to get the same details and perform the same tasks I've already done myself. They often blame my pc/router/switch/weather/cat and only after an hour or so agree to send an 'engineer'. The outage will then get mysteriously fixed some hours (or days) later, some time before the engineer is due. If he does turn up he's almost invariably stumped and we're on to round two of the customer service merry-go-round. In fairness, I've had superb engineers on two occasions who have identified the problem in minutes and undone the bodge job performed by previous poorly-trained staff.

The only reason I haven't moved is that I can't bear to go from a 120MB connection down to a 3MB ADSL one - the only 'competition' there is in my area. As soon as OpenReach finally realize that they need to lay fibre to the cabinet, not just the exchange, before the punters can sign up then I'll happily change my intermittent 120MB cable for a hopefully stable 70MB of FTTC.

Google's driverless car: It'll just block our roads. It's the worst

Russ Pitcher

Oh, for Pete's sake!

This is a lousy article - possibly the worst I've ever read on El Reg. What we have here is an author who has already made up his mind and is desperate to find any argument to use against the idea, no matter how weak, rather than a reasoned assessment of the technology taken to its logical conclusion. And to be honest, complaining about the possibility of improving mobility and freedom for the physically and visually disabled is pretty offensive!

This is a prototype of a new and game-changing technology. All the points made and more need to be worked out, no-one is denying that, but how about exploring the real impact that such vehicles might have - for better or worse - as they are gradually introduced into the real world, improving all the time. What might life be like in 20, 50 or 80 years time? Think how much better life could be if the two hours a day I currently spend driving to and from work - sometimes with my mind on other things, no matter how good my intentions are - could be spent starting work during the commute, reading a book, calling friends, doing anything within reason! Properly managed, this could reduce congestion, shorten journey times, improve efficiency and boost safety. None of this will happen overnight, but if we work hard it will probably get there.

And no, I don't like the idea of giving up the right to drive my own vehicle, but surely a reasonable compromise can be worked out and the potentially huge benefits are worth some sacrifice? Every disruptive change is just that - disruptive, but after the pain comes the real benefit. The industrial revolution was a bugger for those that lived through it and lost their livelihood, but I'm glad it happened!


Russ Pitcher

@Graham Dawson - Re: Am I the only one ....

Erm... it does include a time component.

1 Watt = 1 Joule per second

Got a Netgear router from Virgin Media? Change your admin password NOW

Russ Pitcher

Indeed it is, but...

And how many friends and mums actually listen and can be bothered to take action in an area that they're already scared of. Techies also tell their mums to back up, install NAS devices and write one-click backup scripts and add calendar reminders and mums STILL don't every back up, despite being reminded at every visit and having lost important data in the past.

Even those with tech-savvy relatives and/or friends rarely listen. When they plug it in and it connects to the internet they consider the matter closed. The don't have the inclination to think about the complexity of getting connected. As far as they're concerned the modem is just a tap for the modern world. Plug it in to the wall, turn it on and out pours the internet. If you make devices for the masses then, as far as is possible, that is what should happen.

4K-ing hell! Will your shiny new Ultra HD TV actually display HD telly?

Russ Pitcher

These are not the pixels you are looking for.

Rather than trying to squeeze more and more pixels into limited bandwidth, wouldn't it be better to make the best use of the 1080p pixels we already have by increasing frame rates and colour depth and attempting to reduce or improve the overdone compression on existing channels? That way we can realise the full potential of FullHD which, if done correctly, should more than enough for most households.

Or is it easier to market "MORE PIXELS!" than better quality...?

Speeding cops, fearsome drops and Death Star shops

Russ Pitcher

Re: Personally

Agreed! I'll buy a 69p game without thinking - it's the cost of a Mars bar. Even a £1.99 app isn't much to risk on a whim, but this constant Upgrade for 69p, Unlock for £1.99 and 10,000 credits for £27.99 drives me bananas.

If it's not realistically playable without purchasing in-app or if the micro-payment nagging gets too much then I simply won't play it!

George Soros pumps £50m into fibre-gobbling ISP Hyperoptic

Russ Pitcher

Re: Maths?

You're not wrong, but I'll bet that there's an installation fee, just like every other provider. Another £75 per installation would swell the coffers significantly and I wouldn't be surprised if the business is expected to run at a loss for a while.

How UK gov's 'growth' measures are ALREADY killing the web

Russ Pitcher

Re: Care-o-Meter hovering at zero

Market forces are indeed about finding the price that consumers will pay for a given item, and circumstances can and will change as the world evolves. This is not arguing against that, but it is arguing about the right of corporations, or anyone else for that matter, to steal work. If a photographer puts in substantial amounts of time, effort and hard-won skill to create a desirable image then it's reasonable to suggest that they should be allowed to set a price and expect to get that price, if the market thinks it's worth it. If we simply allow anyone to copy and paste that image from a website, or publish it after legally stripping the metadata and then refuse to pay as 'a reasonable search' - read as short as legally possible - didn't turn up the creator's phone number then photography isn't worth spit any more, no-one will be able to afford to make a living doing it and there's another nail in the coffin of the creativity and expression that enriches everyone's lives.

FFS I bet you wouldn't agree that it's right that I should be able to pick up your phone in a bar, remove the SIM, whisper "does this belong to anyone" and then LEGALLY walk off with it would you?? A weak analogy I know but it illustrates the point.

I'm an amateur photographer who licenses his work with a creative commons license that allows pretty much anyone to do pretty much anything with my images as long as it's non-commercial. I think we should all encourage sharing of images within reason; but at the end of the day they are MY images and I should be able to control what happens to them. It's not for governments to give away mine, or anyone else's rights.

LHC spots mesons flipping between matter and antimatter

Russ Pitcher

Re: And the "Standard Model" is?

Personally, I'm looking forward to the No' As Big As Medium Model But Bigger Than Wee Model Model

'I'd buy that for a dollar': Apple on Moto phone patents

Russ Pitcher

Fair, Non-discriminatory. Don't get the issue

Surely if it is FRAND, then the patent holder sets a REASONABLE price for licensing the patent - say $x per item or per use of IP, and then publishes that price and charges everyone the same. Therefore FAIR and NON-DISCRIMINATORY in its application.

Am I being too simplistic?!?

Top admen beg Microsoft to switch off 'Do Not Track' in IE 10

Russ Pitcher

Re: It's a good default

They do. On the Windows 8 installation screen Do Not Track is shown with a slide-switch that is set to on. One click half-way through the installation and it's off. What's the problem there?

Microsoft have been battered for years over their relaxed approach to security. As soon as they change tack and do what's been demanded of them they instantly get shouted at. If I was them then at this point I'd throw my hands in the air, accept that I can't win no matter what and do whatever I felt like...

EU greases up orphan works copyright loophole for Big Culture

Russ Pitcher


Having a central register of all images/footage covering all sources is a fine notion until you think about it for a few seconds. I took about 10,000 usable images last year and I'm just a reasonably enthusiastic amateur. How on earth would you propose that we manage the 100s of millions of images created each year with a single system? And then scale that globally.

Whilst I agree that the photographer should make an effort to be discoverable by thoughtful use of metadata and maybe watermarks the final responsibility should be on the party that wants to use the image. I spotted a bike in town the other day and that would have made it a lot easier for me to get home. I couldn't find the owner after a short search so I just took it. Is that OK?!

If everyone, especially commercial users of images, were prevented from stripping the metadata from images, preferably by law, then the bulk of the problem would go away because anyone who cares about their images makes damn sure that their details are embedded in the file!

So, just what is the ultimate bacon sarnie?

Russ Pitcher

Re: You don't fry bacon, you grill it...

What!?! The fat's where the best bit of the flavour is! Fry it quickly and when you're done cooking the bacon you can fry off some thick mushroom slices in what's left.

Hungry now...

Disable Gadgets NOW says Redmond

Russ Pitcher

Re: I do

On Windows 7 if you adjust the date/time from the taskbar you can add two zones using the Additional Clocks tab. The additional times appear when you hover over the clock.

Other than that you can use ZoneTick to show pretty much what you want on the taskbar.

Pints under attack as Lord Howe demands metric-only UK

Russ Pitcher
Thumb Up

Full steam ahead

Born in 1971 I'm theoretically a metric lad, but I think in feet, pints and miles most of the time and mm and kilos at other times. A forced move to metric would probably drive me nuts, BUT...

Having the world measured with two systems, one of which is really the bastard child of dozens of unrelated 'systems' is madness, and selling 568ml of milk, or a sheet of MDF at 1220x2440 is lunacy. 1220mm x 2440mm is roughly 4' x 8', but not exactly, therefore it makes little sense from a metric point of view and doesn't really fit imperial systems well.

Yes, a forced change would be a real pain for those of us over 20, and some might never fully adapt, but just think how much better things will be for future generations. Sometimes you just have to accept that something is broken and it will be worth the pain to replace it in the long run.

FSF takes Win 8 Secure Boot fight to OEMs

Russ Pitcher

How is Microsoft restricting OSs exactly??

As far as I can tell Microsoft are only insisting that a PC has the ability to enable UEFI secure boot (note: not Microsoft secure boot!) in order for it to obtain a Windows 8 certification. It is not insisting that users be prevented from disabling secure boot. It is not preventing other vendor keys being present in addition to the Microsoft keys.

I don't see how they can be painted in such a bad light for trying to get a useful security feature implemented! Whilst it's true that if lazy OEMs fail to allow secure boot to be disabled or fail to allow the addition of new keys then unknown or unsigned OSs will be prevented from being installed, but surely that is a problem with the OEMs, not Microsoft. Once again this is not a Microsoft feature, but a UEFI feature.

Yes, I'm a PC guy in general, but I use Apple and *nix devices as well and I'm by no means blind to Microsofts failings, but all I can see here is uninformed fanboi/MS-hater ranting.

Heaviest Virgin Media downloaders face new daytime go-slow

Russ Pitcher


This is ridiculous! I don't download films or torrents, but occasionally (~twice a month) I have to download DVD-sized software from MS for my job, and then suddenly my connection is nobbled for hours!

If the cap was set to kick in if a rolling 3-day average exceeded 3GB, for example, then I'd never have a problem. This sort of thing would allow most users who occasionally hammer their connection to use their 20MB as expected (when they get 20MB of course..), but would put a stop to those who blast the system 24x7

To be honest, if it wasn't for the lousy ADSL round my way I'd have been long gone from the Virgin/NTL/CableTel cowboys.

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