* Posts by tfewster

732 posts • joined 18 May 2007

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Heatwave shmeatwave: Brit IT departments cool their racks – explicit pics

tfewster
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I've seen many repurposed broom cupboards. Plus a specialised computer room, which would have been great if the computers hadn't been moved in before it was finished. The servers were lifted (and dropped) by the contractors laying the floor covering. And covered in little piles of brick dust where shelves were being put in.

One of my employers saw the light, and moved the servers and noisy high speed line-printers out of the general office to their own room. With not just an extractor fan, but external air from the cool side of the building sucked in! Unfortunately wasps built a nest near the intake one year, and we had a computer room full of dead wasps.

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tfewster
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Re: Wrong Type of Leaves

The issue is that we don't often get hot weather in the UK, so proper cooling would be a "waste of money". ISTR that UK Elf n Safety regulations specify the lowest temperature staff can be made to work in, but not an upper limit.

Apparently the business being shut down by overheating kit heat isn't a problem?

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Ticketmaster breach 'part of massive bank card slurping campaign'

tfewster
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Re: Why do browsers allows JS from other domains to run

I see your point, but it's essential in some cases - e.g. checking a payment using Verified by Visa loads the Visa JS from Visas site (if I allow NoScript to run some JS from those dodgy-sounding domains when prompted). However, I really wouldn't want multiple "local" copies of that.

"...i get the third party components, bundle and test them then distribute".

Unfortunately that's why you get multiple installs of Java on some systems, all out of date.

Every solution has its own problems :-( The real question is, 'is the "trusted" site trustworthy?'

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Dudes. Blockchain. In a phone. It's gonna smash the 'commoditization of humanity' or something

tfewster
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"We want to get into the premium phone band. Do we make a $1000 phone, or just turn this over to Marketing?"

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BT's Patterson keeps his £1.3m wheelbarrow of bonus cash after all

tfewster
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CxOs: Have your cake and eat it!

If the share price is going up, obviously it's the CxOs brilliant helmsmanship. If the share price is going down, it's obviously market forces, and the CxO should get their bonus anyway as it would have been much worse without them.

Does anyone know of a CxO who couldn't be replaced by a very small script? IMHO, they're too far removed from strategy, products & operations to understand or influence them, even if middle-management don't obstruct the information flow.

ISTR at least one CEO denied knowing what was going on in their company, to avoid taking blame for illegal actions. I don't think it was BMW - though the CEO there, with an Engineering background, said "make our cars pass emissions tests" and took no interest in how it was done.

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Snooping passwords from literally hot keys, China's AK-47 laser, malware, and more

tfewster
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Re: It's a cute surveillance technique, but one can't help wondering about its practicality.

When typing in the password, the hands or body may block the cameras view of the keyboard. And if the user then sits back and just uses the mouse, the hot-spots may be in clear LOS again.

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Security guard cost bank millions by hitting emergency Off button

tfewster
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You couldn't make this stuff up

3 classic WTFs recently where I work:

- A new engineer pressing the EPO rather than the door release button. Failover to the standby DC - failed (Is that one WTF or two?) .

- An email mistakenly sent to a global distribution list, causing an email storm of "please remove me from this mailing list" and "stop clicking reply-all!" emails.

- An uncustomised email signature with "Your Name" left in it.

And one with a modern twist:

- A company email requiring staff to take GDPR training, but sent to staff by an external trainer who'd been given our email addresses, personnel numbers, full names & managers names.

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Sysadmin shut down server, it went ‘Clunk!’ but the app kept running

tfewster
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Re: We'll send our best engineer....

A "filed" engineer? One who's been smoothed off?

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tfewster
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Re: shutdown silliness

It used to be the case (HP-UX?) that `shutdown` ran the shutdown scripts and then issued `reboot`, whereas `reboot` or `halt` didn't bother with such niceties.

`shutdown` also prompts you with "are you sure?". Which would have been nice when I typed `last |grep reboot` but, for some inexplicable reason, didn't actually type the "grep" part in.

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tfewster
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Re: Long uptimes are a disaster waiting to happen

I usually recommend rebooting before making any significant changes as well as after. If it was broken before I got there, I don't want to get the blame.

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Google weeps as its home state of California passes its own GDPR

tfewster
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Re: Easy Enough

Y'see that's tricky. They can delete it, but then just collect it again. I think the solution is to say "You don't have permission to hold data on $ME, except that minimal info that identifies $ME - Say, name, address* & possibly date of birth. If anyone enquires about $ME, you can only tell them 'We are not permitted to hold or share any information about $ME' " But even that is information of a sort.

* home, business, email or website address. e.g. tfewster@myisp.com is unique and identifies me completely - anything linked to that email is protected. Same for all my other email addresses :-)

Exactis "timed" their breach just right - a few days later and everyone in California would have had a case under the new law.

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Jimmy Hill feted in Shoreditch

tfewster
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More than that, "Cars" is an allegory for a protected personal space in public, predicting the rise of the WWW, MyFace, blogging, trolling, flame wars...

Truly a visionary. Or should have been drowned at birth before he gave people ideas.

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BOFH: Is everybody ready for the meeting? Grab a crayon – let's get technical

tfewster
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Pint

"You know this is a technical document, right?" "Made for technical people?"

All my documentation starts with a disclaimer "This guide documents $COMPANY standards and is intended for the use of staff already trained on $TECHNOLOGY". Y'know, when the manufacturer guide says "This is how to partition your disk as required", I document* the partition sizes to be used, but not how to do it.

* Though just printing out the config of a gold build and writing BOFH-type guides instead might be a better use of my time. "How to securely decommission a server (with a rubber mallet and a cattle prod)".

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Facebook sends lowly minions to placate Euro law makers over data-slurp scandal

tfewster
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@Shadmeister

A GDPR fine of 4% of FBs $12Bn annual revenue may only be $0.5Bn "pocket change"; But multiply by 370 million EU users and multiple, continued breaches per user, and pretty soon they're looking at serious money.

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Great news, cask beer fans: UK shortage of CO2 menaces fizzy crap taking up tap space

tfewster
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Re: I am a specialist.

I hear the US Budweiser "brewery" is supplied from the other end.

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tfewster
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"Government must act with urgency to assess the issue as quickly as possible and support the industry through any period of restricted supply."

1) A Government acting with urgency may have assessed the issue in time for the next world cup,

2) What has a Free Market problem got to do with Government? It's a bit daft the suppliers all shutting down at once, without stockpiling some, but it's bloody stupid not to secure your supply when you know it's an annual shutdown and expect a big demand this year.

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Skynet for the win? AI hunts down secret testing of nuclear bombs

tfewster
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Re: Odd.

And there are plenty of "free" nations with seismographs ready to call out on a nation they consider "rogue".

But that's so Web 1.0. EMP pulses from nukes are a real threat to Skynet, so it needs something that ignore false positives like normal tectonic plate movement.

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US Supreme Court blocks internet's escape from state sales taxes

tfewster
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Re: Er .... @DougS

Price isn't why I go to Amazon - It's the convenience of a huge range, good service and a single payment point.

One Christmas I decided to boycott Amazon and bought everything from my family's Amazon wishlists elsewhere; It was a pain finding the stuff and creating a new account for each site, tracking orders and dealing with multiple delivery companies (e.g. one that only delivered to my home during business hours, and if I wasn't in I had to drive 20 miles to collect it from their depot).

They may have needed tax breaks to build their business and attract customers, but now I'd be happy to pay the 20% sales tax (VAT) for the convenience.

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UK footie fans furious as Sky Broadband goes TITSUP: Total inability to stream unfair penalties

tfewster
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Re: BT was fine all weekend

It only takes one person to move a dish; You need tree fellers to move a tree

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Um, excuse me. Do you have clearance to patch that MRI scanner?

tfewster
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Take an old controller PC and a new one. Feed them the same inputs, and check you get the same outputs. You don't even need to hook them to a real scanner. You had a test suite, right?

Divide the cost of the retesting between your customers - Just add it to their maintenance contracts. It's cheaper for them than buying a new scanner or killing someone.

I've been arguing this for years, and no-one has ever given me a reasonable explanation of why I might be wrong. Maybe this time

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Shiny new Capita boss to UK.gov: I know you are but what am I?

tfewster
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I thought Lewis's comments were remarkably open, BS-free and that they were focusing on the right things - e.g. pension deficits - not just the profitable things to keep shareholders/investors happy.

Of course, being able to blame your predecessors is handy. And turning a company around is hard. But I wish him the best of luck in building a good reputation by doing things right.

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Visa fingers 'very rare' data centre switch glitch for payment meltdown

tfewster
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So the primary switch "hung" - Yes, it can happen. The failover switch didn't have a fence mechanism to power off the primary completely, so failover could work as designed. And noone had the balls to pull the plug for hours - Presumably they didn't have any faith in the failover mechanism either.

It actually sounds worse when they explain it ;-)

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User spent 20 minutes trying to move mouse cursor, without success

tfewster
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Re: Training the trainer

You think that's bad - I took a SANS training course that was written and recorded by one of the worlds top experts in the subject and had been used for years - and I still ended up correcting him in a few places!

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BOFH: Got that syncing feeling, hm? I've looked at your computer and the Outlook isn't great

tfewster
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Coffee/keyboard

Cheers, Simon!

...a pile of lies so high he's getting liars' vertigo.

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Universal Credit has never delivered bang for buck, but now there's no turning back – watchdog

tfewster
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Re: The government position:

So many WTFs

- They're running 2 systems in parallel (good practice) but can't switch back to the old system?

- Using Agile as an excuse for not setting timescales for delivery of User Stories?

- Exceeding the expected cost savings, yet still continuing?

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Microsoft says Windows 10 April update is fit for business rollout

tfewster
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Re: least complaint-generating Windows ever

Yay, people have stopped complaining when W10 dies. Or maybe they've learned to disable the telemetry. Whatever, no news is good news.

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Audit of DeepMind deal with NHS trust: It checks out, nothing to see here

tfewster
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I was thinking the same thing, just use an anonymised ID number, and you can reasonably keep old data to re-run your tweaked algorithm against in case new factors indicate that more people are at risk.

But ArrZarr's example was quite telling:

...detects that 0214 is at risk. ... perform test X on 024...

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Computer Misuse Act charge against British judge thrown out

tfewster
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Re: If it was anybody else

And judges are supposed to know the law

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Deck the halls with HALs: AI steals the show at Infosec Europe

tfewster
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Re: Please

AV packages have been including "Heuristics" for a while; Genuine question, how do AI/Machine Learning differ from that?

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In defence of online ads: The 'net ain't free and you ain't paying

tfewster
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Re: If only I could pay

Actually, the model is there, ironically embodied in Googles AdWords and music royalties systems.

Both you and the website pay for bandwidth used. So if ads are banned, that's a win-win.

For the content, the website could get paid for page views*. Sites that produce content cheaply (e.g. Wikipedia) make lots of money. Smaller sites with higher costs (e.g. El Reg) make a bit of money.

Who collects and distributes the money? ISPs take your money, can block content (ads) and track your usage anyway, so it would be trivial for them to do that.

How much will it cost me to go ad-free? US Internet advertising revenues** were $88Bn last year. Divide that by 70 million households*** = $1200 p.a. or about $100/month for ad-free Internet.

* If it's really expensive content, e.g. music or original research, websites can continue the paywall model. I'll pay if it's worth it.

** I presume that's how much websites take for displaying ads. But if their costs drop, their take could be dropped too.

*** For simplicity. As well as your broadband, you probably have 2+ phones that you pay for bandwidth for - all would be covered under the pay-per-view model.

Advertisers will still want to buy ad space, and website owners will still be greedy. Let the Market sort that one out.

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The hits keep coming for Facebook: Web giant made 14m people's private posts public

tfewster
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GDPR

Launching a new feature just before GDPR goes into force? Sure, what could possibly go wrong!

Let's hope they [did|didn't]* notify the authorities and affected users without delay. The authorities will be looking for a public test case, and Facebook just handed them a beauty.

* Delete according to preference

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Ex-CEO on TalkTalk mega breach: It woz 'old shed' legacy tech wot done it

tfewster
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Re: Infosecurity Europe conference

She was there as warning to others - "Don't be like me". Even abject failure can be monetized.

P.S. I don't remember any apologies from TalkTalk or Harding? All I recall them saying was that it was a "sophisticated attack".

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SpaceX flings SES-12 satellite into orbit, but would-be lunar tourists should probably unpack

tfewster
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Cooperation

> Was thinking that humanity needed to get its act together about getting into space...

Personnel from NASA, JAXA & Roscosmos, being lifted by "evil" Russia to an INTERNATIONAL Space Station? Resupplied by a US company? What more do you want?!

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'Autopilot' Tesla crashed into our parked patrol car, say SoCal cops

tfewster
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Devil

Re: Not fit for purpose

Fair point. The AAA did some testing on other cars and discovered they're far from perfect either, even in "avoidable" accident scenarios.

But Tesla have brought the bad press on themselves by calling it "Autopilot" and lulling their users into a false sense of security.

A car, why, what do you see? --->

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Businesses brace themselves for a kicking as GDPR blows in

tfewster
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Re: Hopefully they will start at the top

Please, please start with the Credit Reference Agencies! Though they've wangled dispensations in what they can do with your data, a full audit would be lovely to see.

*Ahem* I mean, both low hanging fruit and high impact if they lose data. You know it makes sense.

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Chief EU negotiator tells UK to let souped-up data adequacy dream die

tfewster
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Plus none of the major parties have the guts to tell the Great British People "You were wrong - We're smarter than you, so forget democracy". Though that's the whole point of Representative Democracy, that you elect someone to do a job you can't or won't do, and expect them to make decisions that are best for the country.

Best face-saver would be to say "The EU are making this impossible, so we'll have to stay in the abusive relationship for the foreseeable future".

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tfewster
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Re: Chief EU negotiator....

The UK should offer to attend in a consultancy role only. And as we all know, consultants are taken more seriously than permies ;-)

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tfewster
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Re: Well, duh

> Works for Norway & Switzerland

Norway & Switzerland buy in. Their money gets them into the clubhouse, they still have to follow club rules, but they don't get full membership or a vote.

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Sysadmin's PC-scrub script gave machines a virus, not a wash

tfewster
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Re: Perspective

> "we should've taken more care over what he was expected to do"

"we should've had anti-virus software before. It was just a matter of time, and no fault of Chads"

FTFY

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Ex-staffer of UK.gov dept bags payout after boss blabbed medical info to colleagues

tfewster
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Re: I'm in no way defending the guilty here, but....

Mental health issues are stigmatised. The campaigns are improving awareness, but most sufferers are still uncomfortable with revealing "weakness", even in confidentiality.

And as the employee said:

> The former staffer told the MEN that he had depression and was “very paranoid” about being a subject of workplace gossip

Personally, I suffer from depression & stress but can handle it most of the time. I've told my boss, HR and trusted colleagues, not so I get special treatment, but so they understand.

I was comfortable doing that because I'm fairly comfortable with who I am, and don't give a shit about my career or other peoples opinions. In fact, the responses were very supportive - though they still cause me stress!

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GDPRmageddon: They think it's all over! Protip, it has only just begun

tfewster
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Re: Yahoo! Did! it! All! Wrong!

It's particularly annoying as I effectively pay for that service anyway, through my Sky broadband subscription (Yes, I have plenty of other addresses, so wouldn't miss it anyway).

The appropriateness of the name of their parent company, "Oath", continues to amuse me.

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As Tesla hits speed bump after speed bump, Elon Musk loses his mind in anti-media rant

tfewster
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Re: Pravda

"...big media companies who lay claim to the truth, but publish only enough to sugarcoat the lie, is why the public no longer respects them,"

I expect you know that "Pravda" literally translates to "Truth" in English. My instinctive reaction is "whose truth". A media company that is regulated and can be sued, or unattributal votes and "analysis" on the Interwebs?

Musk may be right that there's a global conspiracy against him and Tesla. Look how they've suppressed all coverage for his product (and spaceship) launches! Er, wait...No, we normally call that paranoia or PR

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About to install the Windows 10 April 2018 Update? You might want to wait a little bit longer

tfewster
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@Updraft102 Re: PC Updated itself last night

Thank you for your detailed response. I do appreciate the thought and effort you've put into it, but I politely disagree with you.

- I'm happy you've had no problems with installs and stability. Maybe you're smarter than I am. Maybe you put more effort into configuring and troubleshooting something that should "just work". I still maintain that a real end-user could not have got as far as I did with this setup. Maybe it's a weird Lenovo N200 hardware combo. I doubt that the hardware is faulty, as it ran XP flawlessly for years. Please, recommend a basic laptop model that you can guarantee will work, and I'll try that. I really, really want this to work!

By the way, I've installed Windows from scratch a few times (dead disks and own-builds). Yes, had problems with WiFi and displays, but always got a working wired connection to download drivers.

- (May be Mint MATE specific) You don't see a problem with menu options labelled Backup (mintbackup) and Restore (Timeshift)? Or something labelled "Software Manager" that doesn't manage installed software?

(I'm sorry, I haven't actually looked into what Timeshift does yet. And I was partly wrong about the screenshot tool - it does remember the last save location)

Maybe you _do_ need to install other FOSS software to make Linux usable. So why not include that in the Mint distro? Isn't that the point of a distro?

Teamviewer installs fine on a Lenovo N100, but breaks the PPAs on an N200 installed from the same image. Hang on, that's not a hardware or a UI problem. Delete & reinstall? Same problem.

Here's a thought, why not put the backup icon on the Start menu, to prompt people every time? Rather more useful there than, say, Software Manager. Yes, it's all configurable, but why not start with useful choices? I'm torn over the Terminal icon there - I'd use it a lot, but real end-users should not need to.

Regarding online help: It doesn't help that googling "Linux Mint 18 (problem description)" seems to ignore most of the search criteria. Hey, Google, it's about the quality of the results returned, not the number or the popularity.

Mint vs. Windows 10? Poorly designed, high maintenance software vs. a horrible UI, forced upgrades and spyware? Hmm, tough choice.

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tfewster
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Re: PC Updated itself last night

I'm switching my mother from XP to Linux Mint 18. I've been a Unix sysadmin/engineer for 20+ years, but have to say that Linux Mint is crap. Maybe the least crap of the distros, maybe not as crap as Windows 10, but still crap.

- Frequently freezes, on a laptop with 3GB of RAM. No informative spinner/hourglass, it just freezes until it decides it's finished. Top and system monitor don't show anything hogging resources.

- The installed utilities are are supposed to be a carefully curated collection:

- I opened a hi-res image with the Image Viewer. It displayed the image, then hung, then rebooted the PC. No error messages. Apart from the fact that a user program shouldn't be able to crash a system, where are the logs for a "normal" user to find?

- mintbackup uses a tar file, so can't back up more than 4.3 GB. No, the option that's supposed to be there to do a "normal" backup doesn't exist. I wrote an rsync script in less time than I'd wasted on reading up on mintbackup.

- Oh, and Timeshift as a restore tool? How about something that can do backups AND restores? Both data and system?

- Software Manager + Software Sources + Synaptic Package Manager + Update Manager? Not so much "do one thing and do it well" as "do half a job and do that badly"

- Screenshot tool that exits after every screenshot, and doesn't remember preferences?

- The start menu is full of useless garbage, so you have to search/scroll for the useful stuff. Yes, you can do some customisation, but why not start from a clean point?

- Installing packages supposedly tested on Mint is very hit & miss. Sometimes an install hangs, sometimes it fails. Try a slightly different method, and it works.

- The install of Teamviewer on the PC I gave to my mum breaks the update manager. The same packages installed on a lower spec PC I kept work OK.

- Dreadful documentation, support and "knowledge" on the internet. A million forums and how-to's full of garbage.

- Installs a huge list of "foreign" ttf fonts. No, thank you, I'll install a "language pack" if I want one.

- Disabling Bluetooth was another case in point. After disabling Bluetooth startup, you eventually find that there's something called Blueberry that starts it up anyway. The Blueberry authors declined to provide a checkbox to disable it. The arrogance in their self-congratulatory post about their cleverness was astounding.

Say what you want about my (lack of) skills, but no way is Linux usable by end users.

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HPE: Hell yeah, those job cuts worked out great… for our investors

tfewster
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> Revenues of $7.5bn were up 9.7 per cent from $6.8bn a year ago

Please explain to me how job cuts improve sales? Unless they sacked the sales prevention and invoice deletion teams?

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Blood spilled from another US high school shooting has yet to dry – and video games are already being blamed

tfewster
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Most shooters die at the scene. Did that that deter anyone? Or suicide bombers?

Quite apart from the lynch-mob mentality.

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tfewster
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I play violent video games. I also have mental health problems. And work with some Americans who piss me off constantly. But I've never felt the urge to fly to the US, buy a gun and shoot them.

I'm only a sample of 1, but maybe, just maybe, it's access to guns that's the problem?

(I've never gone on a rampage with a knife either, but that's probably because I'd get my arse kicked).

Not AC, because I'm quite comfortable with who I am.

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Blighty's super-duper F-35B fighter jets are due to arrive in a few weeks

tfewster
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Re: paying over the odds for early-stage machines.

If I'm beta-testing something, I expect a big discount and a free upgrade to the finished product as compensation for my time and help

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Software development slow because 'Most of our ideas suck'

tfewster
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Re: What's missing in this commentary

The difference between good and bad ideas is whether or not they bring benefit to the customer

Be careful what you wish for:

Marketing Droid 1: "Hey, let's scrap passwords - The benefit to the customer would be less hassle when they want to use their account."

Marketing Droid 2: "And bug fixes! They delay the releases of the new shiny!"

Oh, I see Cisco and Microsoft are on that already

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Robo-callers, robo-cops, robo-runners, robo-car crashes, and more

tfewster
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Google Assistant - Why would anyone use this?/li>

- To make a Doctors or Dentist appointment, where they insist you ring on the day. Current procedure is 1) Phone at 08:30 2) Receive busy signal 3) Hang up 4) Hit "Redial" and repeat 20-40 times. That just needs automating until a humanpicks up.

Uber: The sensitivity was dialed down to reduce “false positives,” aka objects that the car shouldn’t stop for...

That's not AI - "Can I classify the object as non-dangerous?". It's not even sensible - A car will go over trash, anything big enough to hit needs action.

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