* Posts by John R. Macdonald

48 posts • joined 16 Feb 2009

BOFH: Putting the commitment into committee

John R. Macdonald

Re: 80 columns

@dajames

One didn't always enjoy the luxury of card sequence numbers. A diagonal line drawn across the card deck with a marker pen helped in that case.

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

John R. Macdonald

Re: 80million?

Not to mention on Ryanair you may even get to enjoy a lap dance.

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Please do not scare the pigeons – they'll crash the network

John R. Macdonald

Re: Tape drive fun

A couple of similar war stories: Early 1970's the company decides they need a picture of the mainframe computer room for a company publication. Bring in professional photographer, run an all-tape sort job so as turn on all those pretty lights on the tape drives. Photographer takes his picture ... and the flash triggers a sensor somewhere causing an emergency shutdown of the whole mainframe.

A bank where I was a contractor in the 1970's started suffering an outage every, say Tuesday, morning, at 9:00 on a segment of their network. It took six months to find the root cause which was part of the cabling for that segment was buried next to a railway line. Every Tuesday morning an exceptionally heavy goods train would come rumbling down the line at 9:00 causing vibrations that knocked out that segment.

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Tech industry thumps Trump's rump over decision to leave Paris climate agreement

John R. Macdonald

Re: Trumpy the clown

@Ivan 4

NASA certainly disagrees with you concerning Arctic ice:

Since 1978, satellites have monitored sea ice growth and retreat, and they have detected an overall decline in Arctic sea ice. The rate of decline has steepened in the 21st century. In September 2002, the summer minimum ice extent was the lowest it had been since 1979. Although the September 2002 low was only slightly below previous lows, it was the beginning of a series of record or near-record lows in the Arctic.

You can read the whole thing here:

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/WorldOfChange/sea_ice.php

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BA IT systems failure: Uninterruptible Power Supply was interrupted

John R. Macdonald

Re: If it got interrupted...

@TheVogon

One installation I worked in, learned the plastic cover and label thingy the hard way (the hapless third party support techie who pushed the BRB instead of the door opener was banned permanently from the site to boot)

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‪WannaCry‬pt ransomware note likely written by Google Translate-using Chinese speakers

John R. Macdonald

Re: More to the point

Isn't Cantonese the official language in Hong Kong, not Mandarin?

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

John R. Macdonald

Re: "In summary then: we're fucked."

@John Smith

Actually Wahhabism goes back to the 18th century and it's the Saudi Kingdom's state religion.

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BOFH: The Boss, the floppy and the work 'experience'

John R. Macdonald

Re: Being on a placement myself...

@PeterG.

RPG was the main language on the 360/20 for commercial applications. BAL was available of course and, if you had the necessary hardware (12 (!) KB memory and a disk), a subset of PL/1.

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Russia and China bombard Blighty with 188 cyberattacks in 3 months

John R. Macdonald

Re: Defence vs Defense

Very likely ;-)

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John R. Macdonald

Defence vs Defense

@etatdame

"Defence" is the preferred spelling used in most varieties of English except American English which uses "defense".

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RAF pilot sent jet into 4,000ft plummet by playing with camera, court martial hears

John R. Macdonald

Re: Low level loss of concentration

@SkippyBing

An aggravating factor for the German Starfighters was a change from pure high-speed, high-altitude fighter/interceptor to low-level fighter-bomber with increased equipment (weight) and mental task load.

Low level flying in crappy weather over hilly terrain didn't help either. OTOH the Spanish Air Force didn't lose a single one.

IIRC the German nickname for the F-104 was the 'The Widowmaker'

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Support chap's Sonic Screwdriver fixes PC as user fumes in disbelief

John R. Macdonald

Re: It's the sun

@PAKennedy

Heard of a similar story concerning a mainframe (this was back in the 60-70's) that would crash fairly regularly during summer in the afternoon.

At first it was thought the cause was a defective aircon installation but checks and sensors said everything was okay.

Turned out that when the sun did its daily stroll across the sky, the computer room had this one particular window which would, in the afternoon, let the sun shine directly on the glass lid of the disk unit housing the system pack.

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It's round and wobbles, but madam, it's a mouse pad, not a floppy disk

John R. Macdonald

Re: Insert a new disk and press Return

@Terry6

Still it's a bit sad when stroller/pram manufacturers have to instruct users, before folding said device, to "remove child first".

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Hell desk thought PC fire report was a first-day-on-the-job prank

John R. Macdonald

Re: Metaphors

@triggerfish

Pulled a similar prank in the same time frame on a particularly gullible luser by explaining the '0's could negotiate the curves in the phone line easily because of their roundish shape but that the '1's had a harder time flowing down the wire.

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If we can't fix this printer tonight, the bank's core app will stop working

John R. Macdonald

Re: Some time ago...

The IBM 1403 N1 printer model could print at 1100 lines/ minute or even 1400 lines/minute (when using a reduced print chain a.k.a. Universal Character Set).

When VIPs were visiting the data center a program was run to cause one of the printers to make 'music'. Other programs produced 'pictorial art'.

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John R. Macdonald

Re: Fired?

"Remember, in the 60s they expected these systems to be replaced within ten years. Hence the millennium bug..."

Eurm, not really or not only. 6 digit dates were used to save space on storage media. An IBM 2311 disk had a capacity of 7.5MB. A 2400 tape stored, depending on blocking factor and recording density, 113-170MB.

So shaving two bytes off each date stored for an application could save quite a lot of (scarce) space. Also Y2K was 30-35 years down the road. I don't remember many people thinking that far ahead. The assumption too, as you pointed out, was those current at the time applications would be replaced some time in the future.

I remember doing a gig in the early 1970's for a large insurance company whose master file resided on 100+ tapes (tape because the data center's raised floor couldn't handle the weight of the necessary disk units if the file had been stored on disk). So cutting down on storage requirements was a must.

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UN council: Seriously, nations, stop switching off the damn internet

John R. Macdonald

Iraq not Iran.

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Down and out in the Middle Kingdom: Beijing is sinking

John R. Macdonald

Re: "delicious example of the challenge of science writing in non-metric America"

And rods.

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Gun-jumping French pols demand rapid end to English in EU

John R. Macdonald

Re: Lingua Franca

What used to be Indochina (Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam). To which you can add Pondicherry/Puducherry in India, ruled by the French until 1954.

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John R. Macdonald

And counting

@Mike Moyle

'Septante', 'huitante' and 'nonante' are used in Belgium and Switzerland. The French use 'soixante-dix', 'quatre-vingt' and 'quatre-vingt-dix' (except in certain financial areas where (ac)counting errors tend to be on the expensive side when calling out numbers)

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Computerised stock management? Nah, let’s use walkie-talkies

John R. Macdonald

Re: Do you have any tea?

Cue the old joke:

Q: Why do the English drink tea?

A: Have you tried their coffee?

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Oh, sugar! Sysadmin accidently deletes production database while fixing a fault

John R. Macdonald
FAIL

Things seen in a distant past

Reminds me of a gig I did as a contractor in the mid 1970's. Client company was running a small IBM mainframe (370/135?) with removable disks.

To make things 'easier' for everyone (operations and programming staff) TPTB decided the production and test disk packs would have the same volume serial numbers.

They did until the day the production disks were overwritten during a test run.

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BOFH: This laptop has ceased to be. And it's pub o'clock soon

John R. Macdonald

Re: I like the idea of Schroedinger's hosting

@AC

Well I've witnessed a version of your option 1 in the late 1960's. A production program (PGMA) blew up after three and a half years of faultless running.

The actual cause was an uninitialised numerical variable. Why didn't PGMA fail earlier?. Because the program (PGMB) that ran before PGMA left memory contents in a state such that the uninitialised variable in PGMA actually contained valid numerical content. Then one day PGMB was replaced by PGMC that left memory contents in a different, i.e.non numeric, state and PGMA subsequently failed (during the graveyard shift IIRC).

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The monitor didn't work but the problem was between the user's ears

John R. Macdonald

Re: Running 24/7

Saw something similar to this in the late 1960's. The IBM 360/30 in question had removeable hard disks (2311's with a whopping 7.5MB capacity if you must know) and the operators would 'speed up' disk swaps by opening the enclosure before the disk had stopped spinning and use their hand to stop the disk.

Management put an end to that after the platters on a disk were warped by such operator antics.

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British Judo in deep shido after cyber attack

John R. Macdonald

Re: nostalgia...

Actually he is a seventh dan in Aikido.

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LOHAN sponsor Lucidica explains the benefits of being French

John R. Macdonald

Re: French Foreign Legion

Not the officers. The troopers are (supposedly) foreign. Management is French.

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Égalité, Fraternité - Oui, peut-etre. Liberté? NON, French speedcam Facebookers told

John R. Macdonald

Re: Google Waze

I'm in France.

The monthly fee for the Coyote I have is 10 or 12 euros depending on your subscription plan.

For your, ahem, research and if you can read French

http://www.moncoyote-forum.com/t20178-radar-mobile-mobile-dit-mouvant (about 1/3rd down the page)

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John R. Macdonald
Alert

Re: Google Waze

Are you sure about the Coyote dynamic updates? I'm not. When I upgraded my Coyote, the salesperson showed me the undocumented way of reporting the new mobile radar trap zones (unmarked police cars with radar hidden behind the front number plate that snap your rear plate if you are speeding when overtaking them).

The drivers in this Rodez case are appealing their sentence.

Oh and a better subtitle could be "Vous rigolez n'est-ce pas?"

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Snowden latest: NSA targets Gaza, pumps intelligence to Israel

John R. Macdonald

Re: I am shocked!. Absolutely Shocked!

Actually Israel does have spy satellites. Just look up Ofeq with your favourite search engine.

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The gift of Grace: COBOL's odyssey from Vietnam to the Square Mile

John R. Macdonald

Re: COBOL and Reverse Polish notation (not really!)

Later versions (as of 1976?) of COBOL allowed one to write

DIVIDE CAKE BY 8 GIVING SLICES.

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GCHQ tracks diplomats' hotel bookings to plant bugs, say leaked docs

John R. Macdonald

Re: all your base belong us

"What's next - tapping the hotel sewers to extract DNA and biological samples?"

Has already been done.

When Nikita Khrushchev visited Vienna in 1961, for a summit meeting with Kennedy, the CIA allegedly rented the hotel room below his and tapped (groan) the plumbing to gather K's bodily waste. Similar operations have made against other world leaders such as the late Syrian President Hafez Assad and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev by the Mossad and the CIA.

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How to spot a coders comment

John R. Macdonald

Re: mainframe

True IBM mainframe COBOL programmers don't use columns 1-6.

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Idaho patriots tool up to battle Jihad with pork bullets

John R. Macdonald
Angel

Re: ::pops some corn & grabs a beer::

To quote Clark Adams:

"If atheism is a religion then being in good health is a disease"

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REVEALED: The gizmo leaker Snowden used to smuggle out NSA files

John R. Macdonald
Big Brother

Re: Why not 2?

The police/security service in some countries work in teams of three. Why three? The reasoning is it is fairly easy for two people to collude but much more difficult with three.

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Leaked Obama brief reveals US cyber defense, offense policy

John R. Macdonald
Big Brother

After all these leaks will The Grauniad be named as a criminal "co-conspirator" by the US?

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En Garde! Villagers FIGHT OFF FRENCH INVASION MENACE

John R. Macdonald

Re: Roaming charges not the only problem...

Works both ways! Driving along the west coast of Turkey north of Antalya one is constantly flip-flopping between Greek and Turkish networks.

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John R. Macdonald

Re: Ancient news.

"But France never had an analogue cellphone network."

Are you sure?

France operated an analog system called Radiocomm 2000 (my SO is French and had a Radiocomm 2000 carphone in her car back in those days).

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US general: Beware of Iran's Revolutionary Cyber-Guard

John R. Macdonald
Mushroom

Re: Let's not forget

Minor nitpick: Iran is not an Arabic country (Iran means 'Land of the Aryans' in Persian). Persian is an Indo-European language. Iran is an Islamic (Shia) country though. Muslims are already members of the nuclear club courtesy of Pakistan.

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Singapore allows pre-crime strikes against online crooks

John R. Macdonald
Happy

Re: Yet another reminder

As the T-shirt says, Singapore is a fine city. A fine if you do this, a fine if you that or a fine if you don't do something else.

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Satnav blunder sends Belgian granny 1,450km to Croatia

John R. Macdonald
Thumb Up

Re: Question:

The European Union,through the Schengen Agreement and the Schengen Convention, did away with internal border controls between participating countries and even some non-EU countries.

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John R. Macdonald
Happy

Re: Question:

During the Cold War a former Belgian colleague managed to drive unintentionally, on back roads, from Italy into Albania. Fortunately for him, an Albanian French language teacher spotted the Belgian plates on his 2CV before the local plod and guided him back to Italy.

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Anonymous turns private eye in Ohio rape case

John R. Macdonald

Re: They only kidnapped, drugged and raped her...

Didn't a rapist walk free recently in California because of a quirk in Californian law? I can't remember all the details but it had something to do with the fact that the victim was not married.

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Debenhams cafes ban outré terms like 'espresso' and 'cappuccino'

John R. Macdonald

Re: No. I asked: you for coffee?

I don't know about Germany but in France one asks for 'café au lait'. Café blanc is meaningless to your average French waiter/waitress.

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McKinnon will not be extradited to the US, says Home Secretary

John R. Macdonald
FAIL

Re: Hoorah!

Actually France and the US signed an extradition treaty (in Paris) on 23/04/1996. Ask Ira Einhorn.

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French Skyper freed after accidentally hacking bank's phone system

John R. Macdonald

Pass code

<pedant>

The subtitle should read "C'est le plus merdique passcode dans le MONDE. Et l'espace"

</pedant>

FTFY

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Mind mapping for IT pros

John R. Macdonald

Concept maps and beyond

Another neat program in that category of mind tools is Axon Idea Processor.

Very powerful but only runs on Windows 2000/NT/XP/Vista and Windows 7.

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John R. Macdonald

One more

Another neat program in the mind tool category is Axon Idea Processor. Very powerful. Only runs on Windows 2000/NT/XP/Vista and Windows 7 though.

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Michelin strikes key 'e-wheel' deal

John R. Macdonald

Le la le la

Quick course on some pitfalls of the French language:

La France refers to the country.

Le France refers to the ship of the same name (i.e. le navire France).

</pedantry>

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