* Posts by Terry 6

3200 posts • joined 31 Jul 2009

To test its security mid-pandemic, GitLab tried phishing its own work-from-home staff. 1 in 5 fell for it

Terry 6 Silver badge

Some of the fake TV License ones look very convincingly official And I'd guess an awful lot of non-tech savvy/non suspicious minded cynical bastards ( I think there's an overlap) would be worried enough to click on the link and put in their bank details.

Terry 6 Silver badge

The problem is partly companies.

A strict...."We will never send you official emails with links that ask for your log-in details" policy should be a basic. Internally and externally. Admin and sales/ marketing.

Every time someone gets an email with a link that asks for a username etc.they're being trained, Pavlov style, to respond. The first 100 times may well be legit. But the 101st may well not be.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: I have been caught out....

Classic examples are when banks are sending you security advice emails one week, and "click here and log in for more information about our great new offer" emails the next.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Not bad? Users? Policy?

NO! I agree that they might well be in HR or even lower pondlife, if there are any.

But they work in a tech company. They should have a better than basic level of awareness at the very least.

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

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: "Or is it only us for whom the days are blurring?"

I can't approve that, but otoh......

Years ago i was wanting to buy a pretty expensive calculator in a department store. They were displayed in a square counter sort of arrangement, with the sales staff on the inside. I stood near the one I was interested in. On this occasion the staff were over the other side, chatting. And ignoring the customer, me. They knew I was there, just not bothered.

So I got annoyed waiting, and decided to occupy myself. By collecting the price tickets, from in their little holders, walking round to where the sales staff were so engrossed in their conversation.

I simply said, "You've wasted my time, I'm wasting yours." Then dropped the pile on the floor in front of them and walked out.

Terry 6 Silver badge


In London they don't even say "where used to be".

It's all "Go past [ famous name who used to live there but died in the 1950s] junction. Turn right at [service station that was demolished before you were born] corner. Bear left onto the [Pub that lost its licence in the 60s interchange]" and so on.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Funny that

Perfectly reasonable if it doesn't have a little "peel me" arrow. Sometimes they do sometimes they don't.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Seriously though...

S'what I used to do, a hand drawn arrow, with spidery "click here" messages. In the early days printed on to a sheet of paper and given to the colleague(s) in need of help. That sort of thing. A few years later getting my hands on a decent free programme ( when personal computing was still not so common) that allowed me to annotate screen shots was a God-send. Can't remember what it was even called now, decades later.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

No. you can blame the companies for this. When did you last see a manual that stated more than the blindingly obvious bits, or even any manual at all, quite often? As soon as something gets beyond that initial start-up level, as in using the many and various controls within a device or programme the manual, index or whatever becomes resolutely unhelpful. And even the get-started manual will often stray into telling you to use some switch, menu or option that it a) doesn't define or b) give the location of.

When you have competed installation you need to place the 2nd level whooshdiggler into the wamabooxle filter. WARNING USING A 1ST LEVEL WHOOSHDIGGLER MAY INVALIDATE YOUR WARRANTY

And of course any such product specific terms or commands used in the manual will not appear in the Index if there is one (unlike "print" "save" "on" etc. which are all present).

Windows Terminal hits the big 1.0: Fit for production?

Terry 6 Silver badge

That's also assuming you can remember precisely what the programme is called, even if you do remember that you have to use this acronym. Fine if it's a programme you use often enough to remember it.

But not much help if you are trying to load "That thing I used to help sort out the server three months ago".

And at least that one has a name that describes what it does. many of mine don't or it comes later in the name.

There's a screen reader called "Balabolka" or some such name, (and I only recall that much because I just had a scan through my Start menu folders). Or there's "Greenshot" (my screenshot s/w of choice). Aabby Fine reader, .Belarc advisor, Reflect, VeraCrypt, Revo, Wise shutdown and so on.

Terry 6 Silver badge


For me moving the mouse to the start menu or pressing the Win Key are automatic actions. Scrolling down my list of programme folders almost equally so.

Or was, since the recent iteration of the Start Menu - which has presumably been redesigned by one of the same mind dead, cretinous, idiotic jellyfish who invented Win 8's "charms"*. Because it now exhibits similar stupid behaviour. Using it is like trying to grab a receding wave, as the list now suddenly vanishes from in front of you if you move a hair's breadth to the left.. May they suffer a thousand mosquito bites in their most sensitive body parts.

*or those of you spared that curse. The charms were Windows controls hidden in various areas of the screen, like some kind of computer game. When needed they could only be found by randomly clicking around in the areas where they were hidden until, like the Genie, they'd suddenly appear. More often than not though they'd randomly appear suddenly, poof our of nowhere and obscure what you were doing, because the mouse had accidentally touched the invisible magic lamp. May the designers' reproductive organs be nibbled by mice.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Which is ok if the programme and its purpose are easily definable.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Those Windows users (me included) who never use the Start Menu and instead run apps by hitting the Windows key and just typing....

Which is all fine and dandy if you can remember what the fucking programme is called. Fine for WORD, or EXCEL and others which have memorable names or are frequently used (In which case there'd be an icon anyway)

But a bit of a bugger when the software is little used and has a stupid name. At which point you start to to need a customisable start menu that makes it easy to group programmes according to function. ( Doable in Win 10, but not simple).

e.g. I have among other programmes; quick_any2icon.exe, three different pdf converters with similar names, Openshot video editor, Fairstars CD ripper, Freac,fsquirt, etc etc.

And there's no way I'd find many of these by remembering their names. But in my Start menu I have folders labelled for Office programmes/Video programmes/Utilities /Graphics/music and so on.

Which narrows down finding the stuff considerably.

SAP proves, yet again, that Excel is utterly unkillable

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Excel excels

In such cases you have to wonder;

1) Was this actually the most sensible approach at the start, i.e. did they not think of creating something more appropriate or was this just one more example of that bane of our lives, short termism- get it done so that it works now and by the time it goes pear shaped they'll have moved on?


2) Was there a phase two point when they could have concluded that it was time to move to something more suitable while it was still practical to do so, but decided not to, because short termism again - bodge it so that it will last a bit longer - as above

. Or

3) Did no one ever even consider thinking about perhaps reviewing their current working practices in the light of increased complexity and size of the projects?

I've hit my head against the consequences of all three over the years. And in every case it was all about not making a (spending) decision in this year's budget. And I've met plenty of other similar situations too.

My (least) favourite example - the council decided to have all singing, all dancing copier printers everywhere, that could be networked to our PCs. But decided not to network ours, that year, to save a few bob.

Two years down the line when it was very clear that this was wasting useful amounts of ££ and time they, eventually, agreed that it could be done, and then they another eventually later agreed to actually allocate time to do it. Except it couldn't be done. It wouldn't connect to the network. And after yet another eventually they realised that the machine had been installed without a network card, to save a few more pennies, And by the time they'd worked this out there were no available cards, or contract supplier's will, or something. So it didn't get done within the lifetime of the contract.

No (apparently?) one knew who'd selected this or signed it off, of course.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Excel excels

the file created 15 years ago when all this was fields and there were 2 users

And that's the point I was trying to get at earlier.

Because Excel is the go to start point for a simple data set it locks even large organisations in if they start with it, because they weren't a large organisation/department when they started.

In effect it's not Excel is a prime example of the mantra "if the only tool you have is a hammer everything starts to look like a nail" so much as that when you are using an awful lot more nails you might need a bigger hammer.

What's lacking is a simple ( Excel like) programme, that easily scales up without learning a new, complex and scary programme.

I suppose the dream would be something that still looked like Excel even when it had been turned into a proper database under the bonnet.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Excel excels

people who think it's a database program

OK. Mini rant here.

This doesn't apply to big databases that definitely need the full relational hoo hah. But most don't.

<rant>In my youth there were numerous flat form databases. Simple, easy to use. And for most purposes they did all you needed. e.g. List of members' or clients' names, date they used the service, date of payment etc etc. With some basic search facility. How many clients joined in January, that sort of thing.

Simple, easy to use. Limited learning curve. Didn't need a specialist to set up. Then they all seemed to vanish.

Now there's just Access, which is much more complicated to set up and if you're not used to it, not at all intuitive; or stuff that's even scarier/more expensive to buy/expensive to set up/complicated to use than even that.</rant>

But there's also Excel.

Which pretty much does what people need it to do for most use cases. So they start using it. And once they start on it they stay on it.

I think maybe there needs to be a set of DB tools that can scale from flatform. Starting simple and easy, but with guidance to make itself into something a bit more complex, one step a a time as a need grows

Latest NHS IT revolution is failing to learn lessons from the last £10bn car crash

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: ANybody can do IT

No. The point is not to ask what they want. Because that doesn't get any kind of useful answer.

The professional equivalent of I want a pot of Smarties with all with all the blue ones taken out.

You need to ask front line staff what they do. How they do it. What is making it harder for them to do it. And. Could it be done better.

You do not want to ask the senior managers this. Those people do not know; what the various job roles actually do, what are the numerous extra bits of the various jobs that people just do because they have to even though it's not written down anywhere, what those joblets are called, where and when they do that stuff - or how they do it.

Without that you can't match an IT tool, or even a staff canteen for that matter, to their needs.

Behold: The ghastly, preening, lesser-spotted Incredible Bullsh*tting Customer

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

It's nice when a kid is proud of their school and takes learning seriously.

Too much of my career was working with kids who had learnt from their parents that school meant nothing and teachers were just there to childmind. I've had to defend physically a class teacher from a parent threatening physical violence, because she'd had the temerity to tell the kid off the previous day, for some appalling piece of behaviour. Literally preventing said parent from running into the classroom with fists flailing.

And I've watched two mums start thumping nine bells off each other outside a school gate.

I've seen kids parked outside a pub at 9pm while the parents were inside boozing in a pub next to their school .

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

Judging by some news items over the last few weeks. Yes.

When there are thousands of schools, each one effectively independent of and even competing with the rest, and these days no longer under the control of local authorities, there will be a bell curve of barminess. From extremely sensible and relaxed where possible, through to extremely rigid and demanding for no particular reason.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

Interestingly, Phonics packages that have been disastrous with most kids have worked well for a number of autisitc kids we'd worked with, but to a limited level.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

I don't know why you call those notes "patronising" since the same paragraph your comment makes it clear exactly why those notes serve a need. There's probably a better way. Schools would love to have a better way to get parents talking to their kids- some have meeting for parents, coffee mornings and the like where they can discuss it For the six or seven parents who turn up. And in the schools I've worked the attendance level is usually inversely proportional to parental availability.

But you don't provide any such creative solution.

My suggestion over the decades that no one should be allowed to have a child until they past a test hasn't gained much support. (Driving a car otoh you do need to.Even more Ironic since this thread is about the IT driving test, so even that.......)

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

Absolutely. My daughter is the true expert at this point, she's a paediatric ( try sounding that out) Speech and Language Therapist ( or at least was pre-Covid19, she's currently working on a Post-covid recovery ward, not having worked on a ward since her degree, assisting some qualified nurses who, themselves haven't been on a traditional ward for even more years.).

But she'd agree. As would the specialist teachers she usually works with.

And they also agree about phonics, I gather, saying pretty much word for word what I do, despite being about 40 years younger.

The support for what you say about language is pretty evident too. We don't normally choose words to say/write/. They just appear. And spelling too. We do not normally decode our words to spell them. We just write/type them, maybe correcting them if they look wrong and we can usually identify why and where they look wrong. Sounding out tends to be an act of desperation and is more often than not embarrassingly rong.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Yes the users are bad

Yes, by the 80s I was teaching and I'm pretty sure there were posters in the computer ed rooms with such labels.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

Yes. The evidence for how we do really read is pretty solid as long as you don't use "reading is sounding out words" as a starting point, and then measure progress in reading by how well you sound out. Hint, kids who've been well taught phonics will do really well on reading tests designed to see how well they can decode words. As long as the test is constructed not to have too many irregular words. And they will read books constructed to have phonetically regular words really well - though the richness and lucidity of the content might be rather lacking, to say the least.

But we know that;

*readers don't actually scan words sequentially, our eyes dot around the page, drawing in information

*we don't really read whole words and phrases; we pretty much recreate the text by drawing upon our existing knowledge of language and story ( or facts in non-fiction, though as far as I'm aware non-fiction is a bit of a Cinderella in research terms- at least it was in the 90s before Phonics became everything anyway).

*that a significant proportion of words do not have any kind of phonetic regularity (chasm, busy etc) or are ambiguous ( e.g. The wind blows/ wind the clock now or most ea words like head/read/lead/dead/weather/wheat and so on ) so clearly need to be accessed by other means. Another group have complex phonic patterns that will slow reading, and so fluency, down to a crawl ( as in "ambiguous" above).

*that human perception and recall do not work by recording a video of events, but that we actually construct and reconstruct perceptions, e.g we are not aware of the blind spot in our eyes, even if we shut one, because our brain reconstructs the scene as if it isn't discontinuous.

*that likewise attention is not continuous and sequential as it has to be in phonic reading, but is also largely reconstructed. Which is partly how magic tricks work. And then there's the fun observation experiments where the subjects fail to notice a gorilla walking through the middle of a basket ball game they've been asked to focus on, or the more serious research on crime witnesses that show how easy it is for them to miss seeing what actually happened if they were looking a some other event. And so on.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

Err, yes and no

Because that's a bit specialised, and can wait.

Also, kids are taught partitioning quite early on.

So will easily get that 7x16 = 7x10 +7x6 or 2(7x8) and so on

( and that 5x12 is 5x10+....etc).

Terry 6 Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

Yes yes yes. THAT.


Talk develops language, which precedes reading.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

Yes, and this starts at around the age of 4 now. Governmental tests of mechanical skills that schools are required to impart for the kids to achieve. My favourite example of this is the 12x table.

In the days when teaching the tables was strongly taboo I fought for it - it's rather useful.

So I have no objection to making teaching tables a requirement.. But not for testing of it. Testing, with the likelihood of failing, makes learning that kind of stuff much harder for a lot of people ( not just kids) and leads to disposable learning ( learn, pass test, forget) which defeats the object.

But the govt. have mandated testing - to 12x12. It's the 12x12 that gives the game away.

Tables to 10x makes sense. We only needed 12x though when we had shillings and inches, but it has no intrinsic value today. The govt. motivation isn't mathematical knowledge, but rather measurable and traditional fact based, Behaviourist, education.

The whole reading curriculum is based on a behaviourist premise that to teach reading all you need to do is teach kids to decode words sound by sound, despite decades of evidence that "Phonics" is not how we actually read and represent a small but useful part of reading.. All based on "research" performed by a government committee that was appointed to reach that conclusion. A lead chair who was a known advocate of phonics, who took evidence from "successful " schools, which he both defined and then identified as being good at teaching phonics. As opposed to producing kids who read well and liked reading. Then having demonstrated that the schools which taught phonics well were good at teaching phonics he recommended that this was how schools have to teach reading.

Am I angry about this? Too fucking right I am.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

I looked at doing and ECDL some years back. Since there wasn't anything in it that was all that complex, and that I hadn't done years before and anyway doing IT stuff was never more than a side component of my substantive job, it clearly wasn't worth it to me. But I can imagine if I'd decided to change direction a few years later for some reason I'd have been turned down for all sorts of roles for not having it.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

No. There was a quiz question about which champion celebrated his 18th birthday by taking a driving test, during the week.

It is unclear why something designed to pump fuel into a car needs an ad-spewing computer strapped to it, but here we are

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Huh?

Some (older?) caps have unremovable keys while it's unlocked. Since it's the same key for the ignition driving off without it wasn't an option.

Twitter sticks a beak in, Clippy-style: Are you sure you want to set your account alight with that flame?

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: "the microblogging anger echo chamber"

Or indeed to insult the people who don't.

And even, come to that, to insult the ones who aren't sure either way.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Never tweeted, but ...

That'd be fun. The way Twitter works there'd be an awful lot of traffic generated by people trawling back through edits to try and find "gotchas".

"....but what you said at first was....etc. etc."

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Never tweeted, but ...

Here on El Reg we get a 10 minute edit slot. Long enough to realise that what we wrote was ambiguous, or wrong. Or just porely speld, if wee bovah.

On Twitter they do threads, so the word limit is slightly mythical. But that means that delete and retrype doesn't work when yore spelling or you're punctuatshun let's you down. Because the the topic and thread gets even more jumbled than usual. A 10 minute edit slot would be useful.

Nervous, Adobe? It took 16 years, but open-source vector graphics editor Inkscape now works properly on macOS

Terry 6 Silver badge

That assumes that said students aren't introduced to something provided for them through an institutional license, by a teacher who has themselves grown up with that bit of kit. FOSS software always has the disadvantages that; no one is marketing it, no one has much of a track record of using it (a bit Catch 22) and more often than not it's emulating something that's already established.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Casual user

I've used Inkscape for odd bits and bobs for years.

I can't remember what I used before and by and large it does all I could ever want for my limited uses.

But it does have idiosyncrasies that make using it a bit harder than need be. I can't compare to other s/w. Maybe they're the same.

Things like; the drawing space ("page") is by default a small rectangle within a larger one. Which has to be zoomed in to fill the programme window, but doesn't quite fill it. And it's default orientation is portrait, while my tablet is landscape. But changing the orientation is not obvious. (The option is buried under "File-Properties if my memory serves me correctly). The " resize page to selection" command is in edit, if my memory serves me correctly- but that changes the page size to a selected object, as far as I can see. You can't select the workspace and resize the page to fit that.

And tablet sensitivity is a default to "off" and even more difficult to locate ( luckily this only needs to be done once.)

These things need to be more obviously ( intuitively) located.

On the whole it's a brilliant job by these volunteer enthusiasts. But it does suffer that usability effect; developers are seldom the best designers. (Come to that, half the time neither are designers imo) What's obvious to them may not be so logical to the average software user.

The "where would you expect to find the page orientation command" type of question may not get asked.

Instead a good engineering decision is made that groups x feature with y, because they're of a class. But this may not be the way that the actual end user classifies these things..- maybe, arguably, it should be in edit. Just as maybe "select al in layer" could arguable be in the layers menu, ( Doesn't Photoshop Elements do that - anything to do with layers is in the layers menu, at least in my ageing version 9).

Which is not to take anything away from this brilliant product.

As Brit cyber-spies drop 'whitelist' and 'blacklist', tech boss says: If you’re thinking about getting in touch saying this is political correctness gone mad, don’t bother

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Are there no other people of colour that read this rag?

Rather depends which words you change.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Are there no other people of colour that read this rag?

And my abiding impression is that this kind of fuss is rarely made by minorities but by white middle class people coming from privileged backgrounds.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Where does this stop?

"Allow" and "deny" aren't actually shorter. Both are 2 syllable which is longer than a single syllable utterance.

Arguably, too, the syllables are harder to make. The "w" and "y" sound both require a bit more physical effort than "k" or "t"*. Normally I'd check this with my daughter, she's the expert. But currently she's reassigned to working on a NHS ward for the duration.

Before anyone poo poohs the idea of effort, humans tend to naturally and unconsciously avoid high effort sounds and words. We tend to use simple words with simple sounds in our speech. And since speech production is largely unconscious this is a hard one to change. (Think about it. You don't actively select which words you utter, normally)

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Wouldn't it be far, far easier....

That'd be my view. But it's not up to me ( a white person) to take that stand.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Yeah...

This is the thing. I'd have no problem with this if it stood on a firm foundation. Words that are used negatively about minorities are best avoided. In reality though the descriptors black and white long predate their use for people who are. or are not, white. From before most white people were aware of "black" people. Black in quotes, because the skin colour was applied to the word rather than the other way round. "Black" people aren't mostly black. The word was applied to brown people, and probably by white people at that. Come to that, while white people are seen as white, a pasty pink colour would be a better description for the most part. And the pejorative use is more tied to the idea of daylight good, dark night bad than that of colour adjectives per se..

Nine million logs of Brits' road journeys spill onto the internet from password-less number-plate camera dashboard

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Massive invasion of privacy

If you'd seen the result of a speed related accident maybe you'd be thinking about that a bit more clearly.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Ah, Sheffield

That definitely seems to be a deliberate tactic in some councils. I used to work in Hackney ( pre satnav) and there were certain buildings I couldn't get to in the car. I could see them, a mere 50 yds to the right* (say).. But the road would be a No right Turn. As would the next and the next and the next for a mile or two. Then there would suddenly be a compulsory left turn that took me back the way I'd come from, in a parallel road, And all the (now left) turnings, that would take me back to where I wanted to actually be would end with a compulsory Left turn, that would take me back down past all the roads I'd already passed........

I still wake up sweating from nightmares about this. Decades later.

*Before you wonder, there were double yellow lines everywhere, so I couldn't just park and walk either..

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Too much credit

Yes and no. Judging by the pages of Private Eye there are definitely a fair number of councils where Cllr. Thingummy owns a development company, or his her spouse or their brother does. And said Cllr seems to be able to make sure that planning decisions to,say, build a block of ugly flats in front of a natural beauty spot get through despite much of the town protesting. Said Cllr usually getting re-elected because of membership of the party that is always in power......

Family meeting! Chocolate Factory makes its business-like video-chat service free to anyone with a Google account

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: The kids spotted this last week

Absolutely, and with classes now taking place online anything that keeps the peer relationships going is a bonus for when they return.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: free to anyone with a Google account

There's a rub. Zoom have played fast and loose with their security and data harvesting to the point that reputable concerns are very wary of it. It was going to be a way to connect my wife and her colleagues with their classes for some face-to-face teaching and parent meetings during lockdown. But it's been prevented because of the poor security.

Meanwhile MS are advertising their service on TV a lot. And now this from Google.

Three things in life are certain: Death, taxes, and cloud-based IoT gear bricked by vendors. Looking at you, Belkin

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Never buy IoT kit

In fact this is exactly right. It's no different to putting chalk into bread flour etc etc.

An age old scam.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Never buy IoT kit

No. Unless you are a techie you just think "It connects through the internet". The internet is like the water to most people, just there to dump old bikes in.

This idea of servers and stuff - whoosh over their heads.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: IoT rules?

Your PC, at least, can be kept running long after MS decide to abandon it, should they choose.

Because it can have a new OS. But not an IoT jobby. At least not currently.


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020