* Posts by AndrueC

3329 posts • joined 6 Aug 2009

IT error at Great Western Railway charging £10k for 63-mile journey ticket

AndrueC
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Mushroom

Re: El reg adds to the problem

I am sure you can find some exploding UK train images el reg! ...

Or even a video.

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Exploding femtocells: No need for a full recall, says Vodafone

AndrueC
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Meh

Re: Kak kit to fix Kak network

Acquired a used one from a friend for free but they are locked to a particular contract or some such so never worked.

That's a little harsh. The SS3 will (sensibly in my opinion) only provide a service to registered devices so you have to be able to manage the device list. That is done through the Vodafone account portal which means registering the device to your account. That requires that you enter the SS3 serial number and wait 24 hours. Granted the s/no on the SS3 is very small writing it wasn't too onerous.

But despite (or because of?) me being a Vodafone customer I cannot simply post a complementary message. As regards the SS3 I remember one occasion when the entire system was down for over a week. Vodafone's support was awful. Most of the team knew nothing about the fault (including some but not all forum staff). Those who did know could only acknowledge it and say that it was 'being worked on'. The rest just trotted out the standard troubleshooting steps often causing users unnecessary inconvenience in working through them. Some were even asked to send their SS3 back to get a replacement.

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AndrueC
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Meh

They are a bit power thirsty as well. Mine was always pretty warm to the touch and the power meter I own claimed it was consuming 40w (for whatever that's worth).

I retired mine when I got my S7 because that supports 4G and will always use it in preference to 2/3G which is all that the SS3 supports. Since my house does have a 4G signal (albeit somewhat weak) the SS3 was being ignored. Luckily it turns out that one bar of 4G is good enough for voice calls (1 bar for 3G was not). My S7 also has wifi calling but so far hasn't used it.

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Customer satisfaction is our highest priority… OK, maybe second-highest… or third...

AndrueC
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Happy

Are you also responsible for my all-time favourite? Which was, during Windows logon process

Me? Work for Microsoft? Sir! I am offended.

:)

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AndrueC
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Joke

Lol. I once needed to use an internal error code to signify that special processing was required for an anticipated failure. Basically a built-in, behind the scenes try it another way instead. So when it came to defining the corresponding error string in our library I chose "This is not an error.".

There's no reason I can think of why anyone would ever have triggered that to appear but I like to chuckle and hope that someone somewhere got wound up by:

ERROR: This is not an error.

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AndrueC
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Boffin

On the subject of error messages, as a developer I often fall foul of Windows failing to give precise information. The all time offender was when I was working with SPTI (SCSI Pass Through Interface) which unsurprisingly involves some quite complex API calls - you have to go through IOCTL, FFS! - often requiring structures with many members (ooh er missus) some of which point to yet more structures. To say nothing of the fact that you're using it to issues SCSI commands which have their own complexity and in the case of IDE drives are proxied by Windows.

So when you get error code 87 back from a call there is a tendency to use profanity. From MSDN:

''ERROR_INVALID_PARAMETER

87 (0x57)

The parameter is incorrect."

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It's 30 years ago: IBM's final battle with reality

AndrueC
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Re: Interesting times

Actually, it did support 32 bit applications.

That Windows integration piece in OS/2 was cool, I thought. Pretty much seamless and you could choose how seamless it was - full screen or pretend to be an application on the desktop. The bit where it could link into an existing installation was just brilliant. Licensing payments to Microsoft for Windows? Not today, thanks :D

But then the entire VDM subsystem was cool. A true 'Virtual DOS machine' rather than the Windows poor cousin. You could even boot up different versions of DOS. I seem to recall one of their bug fixes was to the audio subsystem to support a Golf simulator that triggered tens of thousands of interrupts per second. From what I vaguely recall they said they removed the need on the card side and faked the results inside the VDM. The VDM team must've gone to extraordinary lengths in order create what we'd probably now call a Virtual Machine.

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AndrueC
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Boffin

Re: Interesting times

I think you might be confusing two things there. Having pre-emptive multi-tasking doesn't preclude having a single message queue. The two things are only tangentially related.

Multi-tasking is the ability to run multiple processes (or multiple threads) by switching between them. Pre-emptive multitasking means that the OS can force a task switch, cooperative multitasking means that each process has to yield control back to the OS. OS/2 was an indeed one of the earliest (possibly the earliest) PC OS that was preemptive. Windows was only cooperative until 9x and NT.

But nothing about being multi-tasking requires that the OS even support message queues. Early versions of Unix offered pre-emptive multitasking but in the absence of X-Windows probably didn't have any message queues. In fact arguably an OS probably never would. Message queues are usually a higher-level construct typically implemented in the GUI framework.

And, sadly, it is indeed true that the early versions of Work Place Shell (the OS/2 default GUI) had a single message queue. IBM's recommendation was that developers implement their own queue sinks. The idea being that every application would have a dedicated thread that did nothing but accept messages and store them in a queue. The main application thread(s) would then empty this 'personal' queue at their leisure. I'm not sure why they wanted this design - maybe because then it was the application's responsibility to manage message storage? Sadly (and not surprisingly) most developers couldn't be arsed. As a result the WPS could often lock up. Now the OS itself wasn't locked - other processes would keep running just fine. If you were lucky enough to have a full screen VDM open you wouldn't even notice until you tried to go back to the WPS. When it happened to us my colleague and I used to ask the other one to Telnet in to our boxes and kill the main WPS thread to get things going again.

One of the big features that OS/2 Warp finally brought was multiple message queues. Sadly by then it was too late. It's a shame because I did like the WPS. It's object oriented nature was great. Windows has never offered that. In the WPS an icon is an object that knows where it should appear. In Windows it's just an icon that Explorer choose to render in a particular location. Right click it and Explorer tries to work out what to put on the menu. Do the same in WPS and the icon will create its own menu.

OOP GUIs are powerful things.

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AndrueC
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Re: Interesting times

I remember Sunday afternoons playing Geoff Crammond's Formula One Grandprix in a VDM while downloading messages from CompuServe using the multi-threaded Golden Compass. My first experience of real multi-tasking on a PC.

I also used it to develop DOS applications as the crash protection meant that I only had to reopen the VDM, not reboot the machine.

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Alabama man gets electrocuted after sleeping with iPhone

AndrueC
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Joke

Re: so much wrong here...

I hear they still like using cheques as well. They can't even spell properly and refer to them as 'checks'. Weird people. Nice and friendly in small groups though :)

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AndrueC
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Joke

Re: so much wrong here...

Australian plugs also have the earth pin at the bottom, and there's method in this.

Because you live on the other side of the planet and electricity wouldn't flow so well if it was upside down?

:D

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AndrueC
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Re: and things like chargers tend to have plastic prongs with metal tops.

One thing I will say about us as a nation - we sure knew how to design a safe and sturdy mains socket and plug.

And for those wondering about the plastic legs.

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Ofcom pressuring BT to slash wholesale prices for superfast broadband

AndrueC
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Meh

I think what Ofcom are doing is removing the profit from slower services while allowing Openreach to set whatever margins they like on faster services. Thus they hope to encourage Openreach to invest in NGA.

The problem I see with that is twofold:

* Firstly - if they remove too much profitability too quickly Openreach might be starved of funds.

* Secondly - it assumes that there is a significant appetite in the market for faster services.

On the latter point, there just isn't much appetite for faster services. You've only got to look at package take-up to see that most people are buying on price. This might come as a shock to those of you clamouring for Gb connections but you really are (at the moment) in the minority. Most people - even families - have yet to see any need for >40Mb/s services.

If BT came out with a sensibly priced 1Gb/s offering it would flop. Frankly if their up to 80/20 service required special hardware it would have been a flop. There just isn't that much demand for it. So forcing openreach to market a product that very few people want is a risky strategy.

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Forget robot overlords, humankind will get finished off by IoT

AndrueC
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Joke

Re: Robot wars?

Their robot ears will apparently fight it out.

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How about a nice game of ... Tetris? Oxford eggheads slow PTSD onset with classic game

AndrueC
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Joke

Re: I remember when I played that a lot one weekend

Slight tangent - but I also experienced the same with Ultima Underworld, charging down endless tunnels when trying to get to sleep. The only way I could drop off was to find a handy cul-de-sac to mentally bounce around inside for a while.

I once spent a holiday weekend playing the first three series of Doom. The only thing that left me with was a tendency to go through doorways sideways :)

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I need an ISP that offers IPv6. Virgin Media: Whatevs, nerd

AndrueC
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Re: If in the UK, I recommend

IDNet have offered it for several years as well.

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AndrueC
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Facepalm

Plusnet doesn't either, and they are a pretty big ISP (and owned by BT of course). They ran a trial for a few years but it ended late last year when the last of the (old) gateways that supported it were decommissioned.

The only hope is that their new network can support IPv6 but they are running an internal shake-down or trial. If the new network can't support it..words fail me.

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EE scrap connection fee... to hike broadband and telly packages

AndrueC
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Unhappy

A spokeswoman said the "small change to the price" to its broadband and EETV packages reflect an investment in content.

Cool story, bro. I don't want content from my ISP so can I have a discount?

<sound of hollow laughter>

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BT hit with £42m fine for Ethernet compensation delays to competitors

AndrueC
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Facepalm

Oh how ironic. It was around that time (winter of '12/'13) that I was helping get fibre installed to our office park. I thought it was a bit naff how they suddenly extended our go live date by two months. I forget what their excuse was but I remember I thought it was lame.

The irony is that six months later I was made redundant when the office was closed down and I notice now that the village it was part of now has FTTC and we'd have been happy just with that.

Unfortunately as with all corporate fines it will just be placed into the 'operating expenses' column and most likely paid for by customers.

Still, it does you good to laugh.

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Why do GUIs jump around like a demented terrier while starting up? Am I on my own?

AndrueC
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Unhappy

Re: You hit it Dabbsy

Forget damm stupid attempts at GUI innovation. Read what Xerox figured out in 1970s, which took till mid 1980s for Apple to get right and mid 1990s for Microsoft to get right. It's been downhill the last 20 years, especially the last 15.

Amen, friend. It's been 'style over function' for far too long now.

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AndrueC
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Mushroom

Ye Gods! How did I miss this excellent article last Friday? Maybe I was working. Still - that's a poor excuse.

Anyway I am right with you here Dabbsy. Prior to XP you could pop up the Windows Start menu during boot up and navigate it. Telling things to launch while the rest of the system got ready. Not any more though. Hit 'Start' and just as you're reaching the target menu item the damn' thing closes on you. FFS! If the menu is enabled it should be navigable. If the system really doesn't want me trying to launch things while it's getting ready then disable the bloody menu!

Then there's Visual Studio. Oh what a tease. It appears within a fraction of a second when called. But you can't do anything with it for a couple of seconds. You load a solution and it appears immediately. But you can't do anything with it for several seconds. Then there's the oh so cryptic 'A background process is taking longer than expected' during a build.

But the best of all (in a negative way) is if you accidentally ask it to go the implementation of something in a third party library. Now fine - it's a useful feature when you need it. But mostly you don't. You just got a bit carried away. So a dialog box appears telling you it's downloading several dozen megabytes from somewhere. Damn. Luckily there's a cancel button so you click that. Another dialog appears telling you that it's downloading something else now. Arse! Click cancel. The decompiled source appears anyway. Clearly the VS development team have a different definition of 'cancel' than I do.

But my number one pet hate is Windows' focus stealing. It's pretty much the one thing above all else that a GUI should not do. Yet as Dabbsy alludes to it does it. I've had password dialogs hidden by text editors so I get to type my password in full sight of everyone else (security - we've heard of it). And, yes, cancel buttons appearing over the top of 'Ok' buttons. MS even claimed once to have fixed it but it was only a partial fix (the occasionally flashing task bar icon).

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Our Sun's been using facial scrub: No spots for two weeks

AndrueC
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Joke

The sun is going out? That's all we need. Gas and electric are expensive enough as it is!

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Plans to force ISPs to filter content branded 'disproportionate'

AndrueC
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Childcatcher

(in the UK) cable and satellite channels have fewer restrictions on content (ie 9pm watershed) than terrestrial channels

That's...not entirely correct. The transmission medium isn't really relevant :)

It's somewhat more complicated than that but the simple version is that adult content must be protected (usually by a PIN) outside of the watershed hours. Since that requires the programme to be encrypted it generally restricts such 'out of watershed' content to only be on premium channels hence only on satellite and cable. But they are the same restrictions.

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Europe will fine Twitter, Facebook, Google etc unless they rip up T&Cs

AndrueC
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Stop

Re: Good luck

Well, Europe? You got the balls?

Yes, we do. The EU has taken them on before and won(*). The EU is too big a market for even US based companies to ignore.

(*)Although personally I think the IE ruling might not have been the best thing for them to do and I dislike the irritating cookie warning.

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BT's Openreach to hire 1,500 engineers

AndrueC
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Meh

Re: The Elephant in the room - PIA / FTTC/Vectoring by two or more Telcos.

It wouldn't surprise me if BT have outfoxed Ofcom again - they have been running rings round them for over 30 years.

The limitation is technical. G.FAST mandates something called vectoring. For VDSL it's optional. In simple terms it's like noise cancelling headphones but for DSL signals. The problem is that it requires the DSLAM generating the DSL signals to know all the data being sent down all the lines so that it can predict the raw wave forms and calculate how to modify them to minimise interference. If two independent DSLAMs are sending signals down wires in the same bundle then vectoring is going to be compromised unless they talk to each other. Now I'm not saying that you couldn't link two DSLAMs like that but it'd require a rare degree of cooperation between the owners.

Luckily it's not as bad as the OP portrays. For one thing no technology that supports VDSL is ever installed in exchanges. For one thing it's not allowed due to concerns over interference. For another the technologies concerned work best on short lines which is why both of them are installed in street side cabinets. The link back from there to the exchange is Ethernet over fibre so interference is not a problem.

The only problem really is pointless duplication of media. We should get one entity to lay the cables then use GEA to separate out the data at the exchange. Exactly what Openreach currently does with FTTC and FTTP. I think all we need is Openreach to pull its finger out. An alternative would be a consortium where whoever lays the cable provides a wholesale service for other CPs. Sadly I think that again leaves us stuck with an Openreach 'monopoly' because only OR has the funds to tolerate other CPs piggy backing off their investment.

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Oxford Uni boffins say internet filters probably won't protect teens

AndrueC
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Facepalm

Education is better than walking around with a blindfold over your eyes. Who'd a thunk it?

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BT agrees to legal separation of Openreach

AndrueC
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Boffin

Good question. All I know is that it's always up to the builder to contact openreach and ask them to extend their network to cover the new properties. They have a choice of technologies. FTTP is not just a matter of 'fibre instead of copper'. There's more to it than that.

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AndrueC
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Meh

I live on a new build estate (Dec 2015

Your builder might be at least as much to blame there. FTTP has been an option for new builds for a while now. Sadly it sounds like yours went with the cheaper copper option :-/

For anyone currently buying a new build you might want to look at openreach's current offering.

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AndrueC
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AndrueC
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Go

Re: What about BT wholesale though?

BT wholesale can continue to do that. The agreement is not saying there will be no further contact with the rest of the BT group. In fact it makes that situation better as BTw might be free to resell products from other suppliers. Maybe even the altnets, once they become mature enough to tolerate losing some of their margin to BTw.

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AndrueC
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A good decision, I feel. It avoids the legal and financial difficulty of a full separation. It also means that openreach retains the backing of the BT group which help them get investment funds from the markets.

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Devs bashing out crappy code is making banks insecure – report

AndrueC
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Facepalm

The findings are surprising

Not if you've been involved in software development for them. I worked for a short while helping rewrite some code for an investment bank. They were baking defects and poor design in right from the start. They seem to rely on thorough testing rather than good design and implementation.

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BT splurges £1.2bn on securing Champions League rights, Sky heads for an early bath

AndrueC
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Meh

Re: Ban exclusive rights

While that would be good for consumers pockets, it wouldn't be good for the game.

Are you sure? To be honest I have no interest in the sport whatsoever but in my experience pouring money into a sport rarely improves it. Maybe it would appeal to more people if the participants were doing it purely for the love of the game rather than love of the money.

Just a thought.

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Frustrated by reboot-happy Windows 10? Creators Update hopes to take away the pain

AndrueC
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Boffin

I'd be happier if my work machine didn't require me to reboot when I want to install something. It's maddening. I've spent time trying to debug MSIExec (and that has nothing to recommend it) and just can't get to the bottom of it. It's just that after a while my machine becomes unable to accept any installation until I reboot. At that point it will install multiple things.

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Security slip-ups in 1Password and other password managers 'extremely worrying'

AndrueC
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Unhappy

Re: Little blue book

I've got some bad news for you: the Pearly Gates have been upgraded

Meh, there's nothing but a bunch of self-righteous, boring do-gooders up there anyway. Imagine having to spend the rest of eternity never committing a sin.

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Linux on Windows 10: Will penguin treats in Creators Update be enough to lure you?

AndrueC
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Joke

Re: Like automobiles ? Diesel ? Petrol ?

Anyway, this is hardly a new approach from MS

I mentioned Xenix once but I think I got away with it.

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New prison law will let UK mobile networks deploy IMSI catchers

AndrueC
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Big Brother

Cool. I used to walk past HMP Birmingham several times a week during the summer when out for my lunchtime walk. Mind you - what's the range of these base stations? There's a fairly busy railway line that isn't that far away and quite a few houses as well.

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Tech contractors begin mass UK.gov exodus in wake of HMRC's IR35 income tax clampdown

AndrueC
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Joke

Re: Yet again

No long term strategy and half thought out legislation put in place for a "quick hit"

Good to see government processes carrying on as normal then.

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Mysterious Gmail account lockouts prompt hack fears

AndrueC
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's kinda weird.

GMail ain't my primary mail account (I run my own mail server) but it's useful to have it linked to my phone. This morning I got a notification on the phone saying 'something has changed you have to sign in'. So I signed in..and that was that.

No explanation of what had changed and no further comment from GMail.

This article prompted to check using my laptop and it got straight on using it's login cookie so..um?

Good job I don't use it for anything important :-/

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Brit lords slip 30Mbps Universal Service Obligation into UK Digital Economy Bill

AndrueC
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Meh

Re: Sad, but necessary

Market forces in South Korea are pushing providers way above gigabit levels for home installations

So what? This article is about the UK and speed is just not a huge driver in the UK. Sales figures for the various packages available from ISPs makes that very clear.

If there was a huge demand for speed every VM customer would be subscribing to the top tier package. But they don't. It remains a minority interest. From time to time VM actually have to close the bottom package and bump people up for free to try and make their average speed figures better.

Same with BT - now fine not everyone is close enough to their cabinet to benefit from the up to 80/20 service but even taking that into account it's still not popular. Most people just don't want the fastest package they can get.

What they want is reliability and low cost.

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AndrueC
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Meh

Re: Stupid dick.

if my understanding is correct

It is. We now have a pretty good idea of what 'the people' want and it turns out that most people do not want the fastest connection possible. A lot of people who could get up to 80/20 (by which I mean they are close enough to the cabinet to benefit from it) in fact choose lower packages. Only a minority of VM customers bother to pay for the top rate. And as you say there's still a lot of people happy with their ADSL service. As time goes on this is likely to change but the idea that 'everyone' is clamouring for ever faster speeds is simply not true. The market is showing that very clearly.

Now of course this is an evolving market and over time it's likely that the demand for speed will increase but people demanding investment would be wise to understand the market they are operating in. There probably will come a time when everyone wants 100Mb/s so it would be sensible to plan for that. It's just not wise to claim that time is now because market sales do not support it.

Now would instead be a good time to work on the have-nots and that's what this USO is trying to do.

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I want it hot and wet – preferably with Wi-Fi

AndrueC
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Some people consider my penchant for turning up for full-day appointments a couple of hours in advance to be a waste of my time. Not so. It means I beat the commuter rush and anticipate any traffic delays

Hah, I so agree. I usually arrive at my office around 8am, despite the boss' insistence on working 9 to 5. Partly it's to avoid the worst of the morning Banbury crush but also because I'm a morning person. I just can't stay awake much beyond 11pm so that means I'm awake at 7am. With only a 20 minute commute to get to work I could sit at home and read but it makes more sense to use the company heating, the company lighting and avoid the traffic. Plus it means I can ensure the continuous kettle is boiled in time for everyone else (wot a caring soul I is).

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Your IDE won't change, but YOU will: HELLO! Machine learning

AndrueC
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Joke

Good AI programmers also tend to be good managers

Which begs the questions: Which are most rare - AIs or good managers? And which would you rather have?

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Pack your bags! NASA spots SEVEN nearby Earth-sized alien worlds

AndrueC
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Meh

Re: 39 Light years

btw , there was plenty of fresh water falling on me from the sky all the way to work this morning.

It wasn't falling here. It was being hurled at me. Mightily.

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Google devs try to create new global namespace

AndrueC
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Re: Spam Me Senseless

So create a fake email address. Or an account specifically designed to handle Upspin related messages.

Yes the latter will get spammed but you can probably ignore it for the most part and let the spam just fester on the server. If someone has a good reason to contact you about your Upspin shares they can use your legitimate email address or other contact channel. If they don't know what they are..well maybe there's no good reason for them to be contacting you anyway ;)

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In colossal shock, Uber alleged to be wretched hive of sexism, craven managerial ass-covering

AndrueC
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Meh

Re: A hive of donkey coverers?

I have yet to see any ladies in charge of an SRE division here

On the plus side (in the context of this discussion) we're now onto our second female Prime Minister and this time it pretty much came down to a choice between two women.

I suppose what's sad about that is that sexual discrimination is still a thing here despite such advances :-/

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UnBrex-pected move: Amazon raises UK workforce to 24,000

AndrueC
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Happy

If they employed a few people at Banbury to run a collection point they could save some money on couriers. I walk past their new warehouse every lunchtime when I go out for a walk so picking a parcel up would be easy. After all fair's fair - I have to put up with legions of 'white van man' when I drive to/from work now that it's operational.

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Huge if true: iPhone 8 will feature 3D selfies, rodent defibrillator

AndrueC
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Devil

Re: Power button

deliver small shocks to your ears if it detects that you're holding the phone wrong.

Or perhaps if it detects that the music you're listening to wasn't bought through ITunes.

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Round-filed 'paperless' projects: Barriers remain to Blighty's Digital NHS

AndrueC
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Facepalm

Re: 2018? Are you having a larf?

I even saw one Doctor transcribing the paper notes into the computer system yesterday morning.

Well that's completely unnecessary. My employer has been providing digital dictation software to the NHS for several years now. I help write it. It handles the workflow from audio recording through transcription to review and dispatching. Doctors have no need to type or use pen and paper.

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Global IPv4 address drought: Seriously, we're done now. We're done

AndrueC
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Facepalm

Re: IPv6 usage soaring?

considering how many users are on large ISPs which have enabled ipv6 like Sky and BT.

But note that other large ISPs, like the BT subsidiary Plusnet, have not yet enabled IPv6. They ran a trial for a while but their recent network upgrade meant withdrawing the gateways that supported IPv6 so now no-one on Plusnet has IPv6.

Progress - they've heard of it :-/

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