* Posts by mhoulden

245 posts • joined 8 Dec 2009

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Which scientist should be on the new £50 note? El Reg weighs in – and you should vote, too

mhoulden

I'd go for Caroline Haslett. She's done lots of good stuff but the one that most people will have heard of is that she designed the 13 amp plug and socket.

Spent your week box-ticking? It can't be as bad as the folk at this firm

mhoulden

Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

I thought it was more a classic example of mushroom management: keep the customer in the dark and feed them horse manure.

CIMON says: Say hello to your new AI pal-bot, space station 'nauts

mhoulden
Happy

Are you sure it isn't Yes Man from Fallout New Vegas?

Agile development exposed as techie superstition

mhoulden
Boffin

Re: Bad example

If she knew anything about Newton she'd have known that he was a deeply religious and superstitious man who dabbled in the occult, alchemy, prophecy, Biblical chronology and interpretation, Rosicrucianism....

Or Windows API programming as it's known these days.

Department of Work and Pensions internal docs reveal troubled history of Universal Credit

mhoulden

Re: Hmm

I'm happy for someone to tell me why I'm wrong, but isn't it just a glorified payroll system with a heavy dose of the workhouse test and the old Victorian attitude of the undeserving poor? A good start might be to use a company that specializes in doing such things rather than the usual suspects, and ditching the political condescension that makes it so expensive.

So you accidentally told a million people they are going to die: What next? Your essential guide...

mhoulden

Anyone can make one mistake. However, if one person kept making the same mistake over and over again on a life-critical system like this, I'd want to know how they were put in a position where they could do so. Why was no one supervising him when he sent the incorrect alert? Did no one check it before it was sent? Did anyone else try using the system to make sure it was foolproof and fail safe? If someone else made the same mistake, what actions were taken to stop it happening again? Scapegoating one person is easy but it looks like there are serious management issues that they'd rather not go into.

Engineer named Jason told to re-write the calendar

mhoulden

Re: Not IT related, but on topic ...

I heard about someone who was tasked to get a long weight, so he went to the local ironmongers, had a bit of a laugh with the staff there, and came back with a sash weight charged to the company's account.

O Christmas wreath, O Christmas wreath, thy potent skunk's in bunches

mhoulden

Re: Note to self...

A few years ago a girl set up a stall selling Girl Scout cookies outside a pot dispensary. She sold 117 boxes of cookies in 2 hours and to had restock 45 minutes into her shift.

A certain millennial turned 30 recently: Welcome to middle age, Microsoft Excel v2

mhoulden
Mushroom

30 years on...

...and Excel still won't let you open two documents with the same name. I know why (VBA uses the name as a reference) but it's still incredibly annoying if you're trying to compare two files. And as for whoever decided to implement copy & paste in a completely different way to other apps...

Microsoft faces Dutch crunch over Windows 10 private data slurp

mhoulden
Trollface

Re: Too Late....

I've sometimes wondered what would happen if you played the Windows 95 Microsoft Sound, a bit of dial up networking and then the AOL "You've Got Mail" sound at them. They're all on Youtube so they're easy to find. "Sorry about this. I don't use my computer very much."

User left unable to type passwords after 'tropical island stress therapy'

mhoulden
Coat

Re: One week at Bigger Blue.

Most places have an induction process where the boss sits down with you and explains things like where the toilets are, what the arrangements are for lunch, stuff about health and safety, and so on. I'd be very surprised if dress code wasn't also mentioned.

50th anniversary of the ATM opens debate about mobile payments

mhoulden

Searching for PPRO Group brings up this as the description for the top link: "PPRO is a full-service partner for PSPs and payment providers in the e-payment environment as well as an e-money specialist for corporates and consumers." They also issue a lot of press releases saying how their products will replace cash, including the one quoted in this article.

I still haven't found what I'm malloc()ing for: U2 tops poll of music today's devs code to

mhoulden
Megaphone

I wonder what % of developers would like to work in silence but can't because they're in an open plan office with a noisy project manager holding conference calls at the other end. Add in the relatively high incidence of autism spectrum disorders among developers (which can include a tendency to be distracted by things like background noise) and it's not surprising people sometimes want to put some music on.

Faking incontinence and other ways to scare off tech support scammers

mhoulden
Trollface

One of my favourites is still the person who put the phone next to a radio tuned to the Today Programme and let the caller have a long conversation with John Humphreys. Bonus points if you can do it during Thought For The Day and get them to have a discussion about religion.

India to world+dog: Go ahead, please hack our elections ... if you can

mhoulden

Hackathon?

I'd have thought the easiest way to hack them would be to slip the returning officer some cash for the admin password.

My fortnight eating Blighty's own human fart-powder

mhoulden

The name "Huel" is supposed to be a portmanteau of "Human" and "Fuel". However I prefer Dave Gorman's suggestion that it's actually "Hipster Gruel".

Local TV presenter shouted 'f*cking hell' to open news bulletin

mhoulden

From the article I see the TV station reported itself to Ofcom. Local TV doesn't have the highest audience figures (BARB reports a 0.02% audience share for the entire Made TV network), so did anyone actually see it?

Reg man 0: Japanese electronic toilet 1

mhoulden
Holmes

Already been done, and there's already a vulnerability. It does require Bluetooth and to be reasonably close but it's one way to cause mischief from the next cubicle.

Soylent bars farting recall

mhoulden
Pint

Re: PEOPLE!!!!

There will be from lunchtime onwards

New Mac candle smell

mhoulden
Flame

I understand there was going to be another one that smelt like a new Samsung Galaxy Note 7 until they realised that was just a normal candle.

HP Ink COO: Sorry not sorry we bricked your otherwise totally fine printer cartridges

mhoulden

Re: Sorry to hear about your miscommunication snafu HP...

Most scanners and copiers detect the EURion constellation which is a pattern of symbols on banknotes. On the new fiver it's on the white bit near the transparent window. If they find it, they refuse to copy and come up with a cryptic error. It wouldn't be too difficult for a printer to do a bit of processing and check they're not being asked to print something criticizing the manufacturer.

Two Sundays wrecked by boss who couldn't use a calendar

mhoulden

Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

Those free gyms, laundrettes, breakfasts, etc aren't there just to be nice. Breakfast makes sure you're in early and the health and wellbeing stuff is supposed to reduce the number of unproductive sick days. Other things keep you at your desk so you work longer.

Your 'intimate personal massager' – cough – is spying on you

mhoulden
Alert

Re: Anonymous sex

Could be worse. A few years earlier the contraption might have used line-of-sight infrared like a TV remote control instead of Bluetooth.

Argos changes 150 easily guessed drop-off system passwords

mhoulden

Re: So how long until...

In a couple of months they'll probably hold a security review and change it to ArgosStore124.

Happy Mappiversary, Ordnance Survey

mhoulden

Re: re: What is the air-line ?

Also known as the Dangleway, which I think is more in keeping with El Reg house style.

Spam King sent down for 30 months

mhoulden

Re: And the difference is ?

That's easy. Wallace didn't pay for it. I wonder how many hacked accounts flogging fake sunglasses and handbags were his responsibility.

Microsoft did Nazi that coming: Teen girl chatbot turns into Hitler-loving sex troll in hours

mhoulden
Terminator

Re: Tay: A river

Now I want to see a William McGonagall bot.

New Monopoly version features an Automatic Teller Machine

mhoulden
Mushroom

Re: Anyone working on an Ad-Blocker for board games?

There's an idea. How about mixing in a few Cards Against Humanity, or Exploding Kittens cards?

"Why am I sticky?"

"You have won second prize in a beauty contest"

or

"Go straight to jail"

"Nope. The Pope of Nope has spoken."

You've seen things people wouldn't believe – so tell us your programming horrors

mhoulden
Boffin

Re: Bad code? Don't talk to me about bad code...

Some code I've seen does similar:

1. Get current date in US format (MM/DD/YYYY HH:MM:SS)

2. Insert record using that date (as a string) as the last modified date

3. Use that date to determine which record was inserted and get the primary key

I'm in the UK so it tends to go funny after the 12th of the month, and this is a complex web app that can have lots of people using it at once, so two people inserting records at exactly the same time is unlikely but not impossible. It would be so much easier if the person who originally wrote it knew about SELECT @@IDENTITY (it's on SQL Server), but I think that's one of the reasons he was invited to take his services elsewhere.

Don't get me started on the section of code that was written in Classic ASP by a team that didn't bother with Option Explicit and liked global variables with names like zotz...

Periodic table enjoys elemental engorgement

mhoulden
Boffin

Seeing as the marketing department for Despicable Me wants to have them everywhere else, what about Minium? Alternatively, isn't it about time Richard Feynman had his own element?

El Reg picked a pack of ace pic-titlers

mhoulden
Trollface

There's a new design Etch-a-Sketch!

ICO fines PPI claims firm £80,000 over 1.3m spam SMS deluge

mhoulden

Re: Good

I like the idea of fining them £80K per text, and then banning the directors of the company from running any more claims management companies so they can't do it again.

Terrorists seek to commit deadly 'cyber attacks' in UK, says Chancellor Osborne

mhoulden

Cyber Plan, Cyber Plan, Plans Whatever a Cyber Can

I quite liked this post from the legal blogger David Allen Green, who realised you could replace "cyber" with "spider" and have something that makes as much sense: http://jackofkent.com/2015/11/george-osbornes-national-spider-plan/. Eg: "To those who believe that spider attack can be done with impunity I say this: that impunity no longer exists."

George Osborne likes his meaningless little slogans, like "long term economic plan", "security" and "Northern Powerhouse", and I think "cyber" is the latest one.

NHS IT must spend a fortune to save a fortune, says McKinsey

mhoulden
Facepalm

Has McKinsey ever said anything that can't be translated as "Please give us lots of money"?

Solar panel spammer hit by UK’s biggest ever nuisance calls fine

mhoulden

The fine is a good start, but I think the line:

HELM is part of the Government Green Deal initiative

should be amended to

HELM was part of the Government Green Deal initiative

so they can't pester anyone else to buy their solar panels. It would also encourage other companies to behave themselves.

Samsung smart fridge leaves Gmail logins open to attack

mhoulden
Holmes

Re: IoT crazy

Background music to play on the toilet sounds like one of the rounds on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. If it starts playing Golden Brown or Raining Blood it might be an idea to see a doctor.

Using complicated electrical devices to curry favour with brats – the new black?

mhoulden
Childcatcher

Taking someone to Currys because of their exam results sounds more like a threat than a treat. "Screw up your A levels and you'll end up working here."

Slippery, slimy find: LEGGY, WRIGGLY fossil shows SNAKES weren't legless. Or ARMLESS

mhoulden
Boffin

I've seen Data Wranglers in the credits of a few TV shows.

Raising a stink in court: Innocent poo banditry warehousers win $2.2m

mhoulden
Holmes

Re: Please, El. Reg.

Either the picture of a gavel that's there now is a replacement, or someone really needs to go to the proctologist.

Sunday Times fires off copyright complaint at Snowden story critics

mhoulden
FAIL

As the article mentions, even in the UK "fair dealing" allows limited sections of copyrighted works to be quoted for review purposes. Dave Gorman mentioned this in Modern Life is Goodish when he was told he wouldn't normally allowed to show a magazine cover, but he could put it up to say "what a dreadful cover" because then it would be fair criticism. (He may not have been entirely serious about not being allowed to show it). "We state that we have a good-faith belief that..." has to be a lawyer's way of saying "I think...". If they were sure, they'd say so.

DON’T add me to your social network, I have NO IDEA who you are

mhoulden
Mushroom

Personally I'd quite like an option on Linkedin that says "You may not attempt to contact this person by Linkedin, email, phoning his employer's switchboard, carrier pigeon, semaphore, Morse code or any other means of communication invented now or in the future if you are a recruitment consultant trying to earn commission on a job that you can't fill. If you do, you will forfeit your first-born child, be forced to walk down the street ringing a bell and wearing a sign that says 'Unclean - recruitment pimp', and be required to hand over all the commission you have made to the people that you have recruited". Even though I've made it clear on my profile that I'm not looking for a job, some of them still contact me just in case.

Why voice and apps sometimes don't beat an old-fashioned knob

mhoulden
Alien

Re: Don't panic

Why do you think the marketing execs were put on on the B Ark?

City of birth? Why password questions are a terrible idea

mhoulden
Boffin

"Hello. You have reached the answering machine of Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the first telephone. If you've invented another telephone..."

(From the Celebrity Answerphones round on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue a few years ago)

Today, the US govt must explain why its rules on shutting down whole cell networks are a secret

mhoulden
Black Helicopters

Whatever criticisms there are of how we do things in the UK, the MTPAS scheme does at least make some of its rules public: https://www.gov.uk/resilient-communications. The rules are a bit out of date and a have a few inaccuracies: for example they refer to BT, Kingston Communications, and Cable and Wireless for fixed line telecoms but not Virgin Media. I'm pretty certain there'll also be a non-public version, but at least this is better than the US version.

What's Meg Whitman fussing over: The fate of HP ... or the font on a DISRUPTIVE new logo?

mhoulden
WTF?

Presumably the empty minus sign is supposed to signify that there's nothing left when you remove the company's core business. It'll be interesting to see how they trademark it. I know the Bass logo of a red triangle is one of the oldest trademarks around, but these days they have to be a bit more distinctive.

Give us a week to gut Superfish, begs Lenovo CTO

mhoulden
Terminator

Wouldn't it be nice if one of the actions taken was dismissing whoever was responsible for signing the contract with Superfish in the first place? I know selling aggregated data to advertisers is one of the main ways some companies make money, but Lenovo should really have found out how they were gathering it.

Scary code of the week: Valve Steam CLEANS Linux PCs (if you're not careful)

mhoulden

The Adobe Acrobat Reader installer does that as well. Incredibly annoying if there's a chance you might need to reinstall it or run it on another machine later.

Lizard Squad gang moves from PlayStation, Xbox Live attacks to Tor

mhoulden

Re: Lizard Squad...

Given that the gaming networks attack happened on Christmas Day, I think you can guess how much of a life these people have.

Heyyy, you seem to be trying to post a drunk picture You know your boss looks at this?

mhoulden
Flame

Personally I'd like something that pops up a warning, "Caution: what you are about to post is an urban myth/has been stolen by an obscure radio station desperate to boost its profile/is a cheesy motivational homily that will make people on your friends list feel nauseous. Do you wish to continue?" At least when these things did the rounds by email people had to put in a bit more effort.

Facebook's plain English data policy: WE'LL SELL YOU LIKE A PIG at a fair

mhoulden

Before we start the tired old trope of "if you're not paying for it then you're the product", perhaps the advertisers might like to think about where they get their money from. It might sound obvious, but it comes from the people who buy what the advertisers are selling. This can be a high risk game: a poor advertising campaign can kill the product or even the company.

Hoover found that offering free flights was very expensive. New Coke and Dasani quickly disappeared after bad publicity. Susan Boyle's record company could really have chosen a better hashtag than #susanalbumparty. More>Than Insurance were fined for flyposting with their first "Where's Lucky?" Campaign. Overuse of pop up adverts means that almost every browser has a built in pop up blocker.

Using data mining techniques to make adverts more "relevant" means that people who see them are more likely to be better informed about the product, but also more critical. It's not surprising that El Reg doesn't allow comments on sponsored articles because you know people who use the item will just list its shortcomings. If a company's only profits come from displaying adverts, they get a bit stuck if people don't buy from them.

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