* Posts by Valerion

542 posts • joined 12 Oct 2009


Northern UK smart meter rollout is too slow, snarls MPs' committee


Re: Change supplier

About 3 years back I had a supposedly impossible problem with my old dumb meter (the digital display had completely reset to zero leading to all sorts of hilarity trying to get the issue acknowledged and dealt with by British Gas).

They eventually agreed it was knackered and fitted a smart meter. A week later I switched supplier and it became dumb again. Utter waste of time and money...

Not so smart after all: A techie's tale of toilet noise horror



I used to have a step-counter thing that linked to my health insurance. If you got enough steps in a week then you got free coffee and cinema tickets.

I found that ironing with the thing on my right-wrist was a sure-fire way of racking up enormous numbers of steps.

What did turbonerds do before the internet? 41 years ago, a load of BBS



I remember back in the mid-late 90s I was working for a small provider of Point-Of-Sale systems to a couple of niche industries. We had a requirement from one of our bigger customers to automate the sending of data from his shops to a central system but we had no way of doing it.

In the end I setup an instance of a BBS on each remote system (forget which one it was now), setup an "end of day" option on the system menu that would zip the data and put it into a specific place, then launch the BBS. Then I wrote a quick VB app to dial into each one and send the keypresses to initiate the download of that file.

Quite Heath Robinson but worked well!


Re: Simpler Times Indeed

I did much the same, albeit a few years earlier. First phone bill made me a very unpopular child for a while!

Treaty of Roam: No-deal Brexit mobile bill shock


Re: So predictable !

I think it's also the case that the RoI would have a duty to maintain a border should we be on WTO terms, in order to protect the Customs Union and Single Market. With no physical checks on the border there would be nothing to stop any old goods being shipped into the UK from anywhere (regardless of whether we charged duty or not) and then being moved into the EU.

Reliable system was so reliable, no one noticed its licence had expired... until it was too late


Re: Remember Y2K?

I see it used a lot these days by leavers as a reason why Brexit won't be bad.

"It's all project fear! Remember Y2K? That was a load of made up rubbish too, why should we believe anyone who says Brexit will be bad?".

Naturally you can't reason with these people and point out that Y2K wasn't a disaster because a lot of people worked (and billed) a lot of hours to sort it all out. They just call you a brainwashed remainer or something.

Yay, we got a B for maths. Literally, a bee: Little nosy nectar nerds smart enough to add, abstract numbers


As a software developer

Not only do I have to worry about AI taking my job, but now I have to worry about bees taking it, too.

Seagate punts external PS4 drive at the millions who uninstalled their game libraries to fit Red Dead Redemption 2


What am I missing?

What advantage does this drive have over literally any other external drive?

I think I've got a 2 or 3 3TB drive plugged into my son's PS4. I just bought one and plugged it in and it worked.

Nothing 'unites teams' like a good relocation, eh Vodafone?


I've been asked to relocate

My first question was "What job are you going to give my wife?" I don't see why she should give up her career to suit whoever I was working for at the time.

They also offered £8000 relocation. And I pointed out that would nowhere near cover the costs of selling and buying. They seemed to think I could use some equity in my house to cover costs... Er, no.

I stayed where I was and relocated to a higher paying job elsewhere instead.

In Space, Still: 20 years since Russia hurled first bit of floating astronaut hostel into orbit


$220m for 12m x 4m storage?

That's getting close to Big Yellow Self Storage rates!

Microsoft sysadmin hired for fake NetWare skills keeps job despite twitchy trigger finger


Applied as a dev, interviewed as a DBA

A few years ago I applied for a job that I didn't really want but was paying a lot so thought I'd sound it out at least. I'm a c# dev, but it turns out they really wanted a DBA. I had a fair bit of SQL Server experience, but not much from the DBA side, but thought what the hell, I'll do their tech test.

So I had a quick Google for DBA test questions, picked the first link, and boned up on my knowledge. I quickly realised I didn't really know enough to be a DBA, but I learned a bit.

Anyway, I get to the test, and discover it was the exact same one I had been looking at online. They had literally just nicked it and presented it as their own. Therefore I knew all the answers and got a perfect score.

They admitted they were actually quite surprised about how I did given I got higher scores than all the actual DBAs who applied, and I ended up on a phone interview with their lead DBA and somehow got through that as well.

Then the manager left and the new one came in a couple of weeks later and gave me a call to say that really they wanted a c# guy.... I gave up at that point as I didn't really want the job anyway.

Junior dev decides to clear space for brewing boss, doesn't know what 'LDF' is, sooo...


Back in the day

With SQL Server 6.5 I was diagnosing an issue that ultimately came down to SQL not having enough memory allocated to it. Back then you had to specify how much RAM you wanted it to use (I assume it's more clever now but I don't really know).

Anyway, it was running on NT4 and I set it to use half the available memory. I forget how much it had - 256mb or something - but completely forgot it was in 2Kb increments so setting it to 128Mb really meant 256Mb.

Net result was the machine booted, SQL started and immediately took all the available RAM and the whole thing blue screened. Obviously, this was whilst I was at the client site, whilst remote controlling their server which was in a data center elsewhere.

We had to get a technician out to put more RAM in the server in the end. They weren't impressed...

Should a robo-car run over a kid or a grandad? Healthy or ill person? Let's get millions of folks to decide for AI...


Re: Important 'cause...

The computer won't be going "Oh F**" like the human driver would.

The computer would probably not have got into that situation in the first place. If there are bad road conditions it would have slowed down.

It won't be distracted like the human who is changing the station on the radio or reprogramming the satnav - it will always be paying attention.

If there are pedestrians it would already have scanned and judged them whilst they were walking along the side of the road and determined which would top its kill-list should they step out - it wouldn't do it only when they became a problem...

Cathay Pacific hack: Personal data of up to 9.4 million airline passengers laid bare


Is there a list somewhere of companies that haven't been hacked yet?

Yes - I have pasted a comprehensive list below:

London flatmate (Julian Assange) sues landlord (government of Ecuador) in human rights spat


Ecuador could solve this in about 3 minutes

Pull the fire alarm and make everyone, including Assange, evacuate the building. They could add some canned smoke for extra realism.

FYI: Faking court orders to take down Google reviews is super illegal


Re: Sooo, they fined him less than he spent to do it legally

He got fined $20,000 but apparently spent "$30,000 fuckin thousand dollars" - which is $30m, which seems a lot.

UK defence secretary ponders £50m hit to terminate Capita recruiting contract


The Sun

Are we really basing all of this on an article from The Sun?!

UK.gov to press ahead with online smut checks (but expects £10m in legals in year 1)


Leisure Suit Larry

I propose a verification system based on the Leisure Suit Larry implementation where people have to answer questions that only those over 18 would know the answers to.

Would fit in with the porn theme, too.

Why are sat-nav walking directions always so hopeless?


Re: never seems to taste the same?

Anyway the reason you can't get a decent cup of tea in Spain is they haven't invented the kettle yet.

The Americans have also yet to invent it. Every time I go to Florida on holiday I rent a place, and it always has a filter coffee machine. But no kettle. On the one or two occasions that there has been one, it has been the "put it on the hob for 4 hours until it boils" variety.


Re: Too many apps

Can I ask how wind direction (which changes) can help with navigation? Genuinely curious!

Simple - it's pretty much guaranteed that the way you want to go will be walking into the sodding wind, rather than it helpfully blowing you from behind.

Sorry, slipped in Dabbsy-esque double-entendre there.

Salesforce dogged by protests, leaked emails, and guerrilla blimps on first day of Dreamforce


Re: Wait, what? Did I miss something?

I was thinking* of buying tickets for the show at Twickenham next year.

Better avoid it incase James Hetfield starts extolling the virtues of Devops inbetween songs.

*Expecting tickets to be stupidly expensive so wouldn't have gone anyway.

WWII Bombe operator Ruth Bourne: I'd never heard of Enigma until long after the war


The Bourne Enigma

Why wasn't that the title?!

Fascinating read and I must congratulate Ms Bourne on a very astute memory. I can't remember what I had for breakfast, let alone the finer points of operating an extremely complex machine over 70 years ago.

I want to buy a coffee with an app – how hard can it be?


Re: The best solution seems to be Starbucks

If the alternative is Costa, we're already winning.


The best solution seems to be Starbucks

And I never thought that'd be something I'd ever say.

But the mobile order thing works well. I know exactly where to order it when walking back to the office, so that as I enter the shop it's either just being made, or is ready within a minute or two of me arriving. No paying in store, no queueing.

The butterfly defect: MacBook keys wrecked by single grain of sand


Re: Pledge to Protect

My Mac is a late 2009 - I googled the repair but its way beyond my capabilities, totally frustrating as despite the age its got updated RAM and a 1TB HD and works just fine.

My sister-in-law had a Lenovo laptop with a dodgy keyboard due to some juice spillage. Despite having no experience or expertise in computer repair, she was able to order (for about £25) and replace the keyboard herself. It took her about 10 minutes and her £350 laptop was as good as new.

Good luck with that on a £1500 Macbook...

Capita admits it won't make money on botched NHS England contract


Don't worry guys

I'm sure the executives who put the winning bid together got massive bonuses and promotions.

I know you were all worried for their well-being.

Half of all Windows 10 users thought: BSOD it, let's get the latest build


Re: Rolled out != working users

If that is the case then I would reconsider your "expertise" then as you obviously do not know how to configure a Windows PC to work properly! Out of the 8 machines here that I have in the house, only ONE issue has arisen after an update on ONE machine only - Asus AI Suite stopped working but was easily fixed by installing a later version of it. Every other update has gone smooth as silk with no problems. I have to admit that W10 has lowered my workload dramatically as people don't seem to have so many problems like they had with W8 or previous versions. Lucky? Maybe, but then again maybe I know how to configure a W10 machine so it doesn't have problems or use hardware that has good driver support?


I never claimed to have any expertise in fixing Windows 10 Updates, or Windows in general. Neither have I "configured" any of those affected computers (although I'm not sure what you actually mean by "configure". You probably don't know either.). I'm also pretty sure I said quite clearly "I use Macs".

And why should anyone need ANY expertise in order to continue having a working system when MS push out an update?


Rolled out != working users

Based on my sample size of 2 (that's my inlaw's desktop and laptop), 100% of computers had issues.

Desktop - broke Excel. An elderly version sure, but was working fine previously. The fix was to install OpenOffice. Also broke his music player and his speakers but I was able to get those working again eventually.

Laptop - has the "desktop" issue and is currently a paperweight. I simply don't have time to do anything more to try and fix it, and I'm hoping that MS might actually get their fucking arses in gear and release a fix. No sign so far, and this seems to affect an awful lot of people. They just don't seem to give a shit.

So in my circle, every computer this update has touched has broken in some way. I've personally had to spend hours trying to fix things. That's my evening/weekend time that I would rather spend doing anything else. Personally I moved to Mac years ago and haven't had any issues with any of them on any update. But because I'm the "expert" in the family (I'm a software engineer but that just means "computer fixer" to any family member) I have to waste my time because of MS's fuck up.

I am cross.

The glorious uncertainty: Backup world is having a GDPR moment



Surely you wouldn't make them read/write and modify and go all horribly wrong like that as suggested?

You'd do the delete on the primary instance, then take a new snapshot to replace the existing one with. Most places would do snapshot creation automated on a schedule anyway so it would probably just sort itself out overnight. You'd then just delete the old one.

Microsoft patches problematic OS to deal with SSD woes


Have they fixed the other issue?

The one that seemed to totally bork computers that had Avast or AVG on them when the latest Win10 update was applied?

My mother-in-law's laptop is sitting, utterly useless, in my house whilst I wait for MS to get a fix out for that one.

Police block roads to stop tech support chap 'robbing a bank'


Re: Must have been a quite impressive experience

"Put your hands up" is usually the first demand, is it not?

Thus button-under-counter is probably a really bad idea.

Don't most people have knees?

US websites block netizens in Europe: Why are they ghosting EU? It's not you, it's GDPR


Golf Galaxy

I'm off to the USA in a few weeks so thought I'd have a little browse on the Golf Galaxy website, lest I am able to persuade the Mrs to let me buy something whilst we're there.

But no. Great big message saying "Because of GDPR, visitors from your location are not allowed to browse the web store".

WTF? I only want to look at some gear online, not even to buy it!

I assume I'll be denied physical entry to the actual store as well if I look like a shifty European.

MPs slam UK.gov's 'unacceptable' hoarding of custody images


DELETE from IMAGES where STATUS=Innocent;

What is this non-normalised lunacy?

And where are the quotes around the text?

Is this a Capita example?

Map app chaps Waze add shout-at-sat-nav support for Ford cars


Put it on Carplay!

I like Waze - it's better than my built-in sat-nav, and miles better than Apple Maps.

If Apple allowed it on Carplay then I might actually start using that again (having decided it's useless and turned it off).

Fixing a printer ended with a dozen fire engines in the car park


Shut down production in a clean room

Many years ago I worked for a defence contractor in a building that was partly converted into a clean-room, for a different part of the business. They had a production line in there making something fairly hush-hush (radar equipment, I think).

Anyway we had a couple of Ducati's delivered to work, so that we could fit some electronics onto them that we were developing for the customer. Naturally, we had them outside, by one of the clean-room air outlets, and were revving the bollocks out of them, as you do (especially when you are 25 years old).

A couple of minutes later a man in a white lab coat covered in clean-room garb came out and asked us very nicely if we would mind doing that elsewhere, as that was actually their air intake and we'd tripped all their alarms with our exhaust gas, shut down production and triggered an evacuation of the room.

He really was very nice about it all. We decided our boss didn't need to know.

Sir Clive Sinclair dragged into ZX Spectrum reboot battle


Re: Answer me this

...and Laser Beams!

Of the "Frikken" variety.

Take-off crash 'n' burn didn't kill the Concorde, it was just too bloody expensive to maintain



For those of closer to London, I highly recommend the Brooklands Museum Concorde Experience.

You get to go on the plane, sit in the seats and they do a simulated take-off. It's all very well done, and the rest of the museum is worth the visit too.

SpaceX finally Falcon flings NASA's TESS into orbit


Re: Arithmetic

No you don't. The article was counting launches of the Falcon 9, of which there are 25. Not launches of all types of Falcons.

If you include the Falcon Heavy, which uses 3 boosters (none included in the 25), then it's 28.

Size does matter, chaps: Oversized todgers an evolutionary handicap


I knew it!

That's my best excuse yet to the ladies - I'm highly evolved!

'I crashed AOL for 19 hours and messed up global email for a week'



This happened only a few days before I started at Compuserve. The people running the introduction training course made a very big deal out of it!

Cryptocoin investors sue Chase Bank for sky-high credit card charges


Re: The Bank is RIGHT

a) it's a CURRENCY - so it's a CASH ADVANCE

It's not a currency. If I sell you 400 sheets of paper with £10 written on it, that does not make it a currency. It's no more a currency than the VBucks my son keeps pestering me to buy for Fortnite.

You also self-defeat your argument with the term "Cash Advance". If I buy $400 then I can actually go into a bank, and ask for that $400 in cash. Try walking into a bank and asking for your Bitcoin in cash. There is no cash version, therefore it is not a cash advance.

Cinema voucher-pusher tells customers: Cancel your credit cards, we've been 'attacked'


Happened to me

I had an email from Sodexo in February, a few days after my card got used for a few fraudulent transactions.

Luckily Natwest were on the ball and blocked the card before I even realised.

Edit to say that this was done via the Tastecard Plus site - I had no idea who Sodexo were or that they were the one providing that service.

Sysadmin wiped two servers, left the country to escape the shame



People don't drive 300 km in Britain.

They drive 186.411 miles.

Most of it over potholes.

Go park yourself: Brit firm flashes self-parking car tech


To paraphrase Jasper Carrot

Who has right of way at an unmarked junction?

That's easy. Me.

We sent a vulture to find the relaunched Atari box – and all he got was this lousy baseball cap


Re: Aaaahhhh come on....

In all seriousness why bother holding an event where you can shed no light on the problems or give any worthwhile information?

I imagine that Mike wanted a reason to go to the conference and stay in a nice suite at a nice hotel, and this was the only way he could swing it.

Uber hopes to butter up Brit transport chiefs with lots of lovely data


Really? With several ANPR systems (the ones we know of) in action?

The problem with ANPR is it doesn't know what you do between cameras. Did you go straight from Camera A to Camera B in 20 minutes? Or did you spend 15 minutes driving around side streets? Maybe you pulled over, made a phone call, had a cup of coffee in a cafe etc. I suppose they can ignore outliers in the data, with Uber they do know the details of what was going on so the data is more useful.

Identifying planets with machine learning, dirty AI searches, and OpenAI scholarships


Re: Asarian Humlion

AKA Eccentrica Galumbits, the triple-breasted whore of Eroticon 6.

Fender's 'smart' guitar amp has no Bluetooth pairing controls


Re: As a practicing[0] guitarist ...

Alas, most amateur guitarists seem to believe 'if it doesn't sound good acoustic, I need to add more distortion pedals'.

When I was younger, and reached the level of "still shit" as a guitarist, I very quickly realised that anything I played on acoustic sounded terrible, but by plugging in, and whacking up the overdrive things would sound a lot better!

A Hughes failure: Flat Earther rocketeer can't get it up yet again


Re: 1,800 feet

Why does he need to go up?

Can't he just journey to the actual edge of the earth?

Long haul flights on a one-aisle plane? Airbus thinks you’re up for it


Re: How bad does it have to get?

Funny how many people will pay around a grand for a mobile phone, but then will fly with the cheapest crappest airline that Google can find them.

When I buy a phone, I expect it to last at least 2 years and be bloody good at everything it does.

When I fly to, say, Florida on holiday, it's an 8 hour flight and then I'm off the plane and it's forgotten. It simply isn't always worth paying loads more money just to get there a bit more comfortably. Usually, I'll just suck it up and complain a bit.

Had a horrid flight with Air Transat back from Montreal (would have been ok if they'd not given the extra legroom seats that I paid for to someone else). But at the end of the day it was bloody cheap so I could put up with the discomfort for a few hours.


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