* Posts by irrelevant

112 posts • joined 30 Mar 2010


Even tech giants find themselves telling folk not to use default passwords on Internet of S**t kit


Re: I assume you meant "IoT device"


I switched ISP yesterday. Whilst I was waiting to get hold of the VDSL passwords from them, in order to connect my own router up, I tried using their router in Bridge mode.

Connected laptop up, accessed Web interface. Simple default password being name of ISP. But it then forced a password change. Usual silly rules. Didn't like my normal format of password for IoT devices, but was quite happy with P@ssword123. Far more faffing about than I needed when it was only going to be used for a couple of hours at most just to stop the kids wailing.

And of course, for the vast majority of users whom just get the box and plug it in, it would have been sat there still on the obvious default password. Absolutely no point in making it hard for me to get in and change a few settings. They supplied a random wifi password on the sticker underneath, why not a random management password?

Operation Desert Sh!tstorm: Routine test shoots down military's top-secret internets


Filling cabinets

1980s, I rescued a filing cabinet that was being thrown out at work (Ferranti)... Not sure of the age of the thing, but it had a Ministry of Aviation asset tag on it.

I didn't have the keys, so naturally I managed to lock it accidentally by pressing in the protruding lock. My dad looked at it, compared it to a similar cabinet he had, measured back a precise distance from the front and drilled a small hole in the top. One poke with a bit of wire and we were back in. I guess it's easier when you have another one to look at..

OK, it's fair to say UK's botched Emergency Services Network is an emergency now, right?


Re: Wrong in so many ways....

Seconded. I spent much of the last week in and around a couple of hospitals. In the first, brand new building, the paramedics couldn't get a signal from inside A&E on their radio. In the other, central Manchester, no 4G and barely usable 3G. Even the wifi was borked.

Let's talk about April Fools' Day jokes. Are they ever really harmless?


Re: Colour coded for a reason....

1982 or thereabouts. I was a lowly apprentice at Ferranti,with too much time on my hands. Worked out that if you covered one of the pins in the new-fangled BT modular jacks with sticky tape, then when the phone rang, and was answered, it not only didn't answer, but kept on ringing!

Even more fun than just swapping over handsets between nearby phones.

When customers see red, sometimes the obvious solution will only fan the flames


Re: Ahh, spelling errors

I once received an email from a largish computer security company that was sent me in error due to autocomplete..

Comms room, comms room, comms room is on fire – we don't need no water, let the engineer burn


Re: P.C's dont' really burn - Do they?

I'm sure I've posted this before, but it's worth a repeat. Back in the early '00s, we had a cash-strapped customer that wanted another terminal on their accounts system. They mostly had fancy but dumb terminals but for this one we did a deal and put in a PC. Nothing special needed, it just booted the terminal emulator from a DOS floppy, so somebody dragged an old 486 board out of the heap, slung it in a new case with a meg of ram and a floppy drive. Job done.

It could only have been a couple of days later, we got a paniced 'phone call. "The computer has exploded!" and it wasn't working any more. So myself and a colleague went off to look, chuckling about customer over-reactions.

When we got there, the case, a mini tower, had, fairly typically, been installed on the floor under the desk, right by the knees of the girl who was using it. On the carpet in front of it were the power/reset buttons, the front of the floppy drive, and the blanking plates from the 5.25" bays. We cautiously pulled it out and the back panel, where the expansion slots were, was visibly bowed outwards.

By now we were somewhat less jovial, so we pulled it back to the office before investigating further.

Once we pulled the lid off, we found the problem. This old 486 board had its cmos battery backup in an AA sized box on a flying lead, cable-tied to the chassis. Whomever assembled this had connected it backwards.

Two days of being reverse charged, and the battery had had enough, and exploded violently. Violently enough that bits of the plastic box encasing it had punched holes in the ribbon cable to the floppy. The only trace of the battery itself was the nasty acidic film that coated everything inside the box, eating away at anything metallic.

I don't think we were able to salvage anything from that machine, even the case was a mess!

I just pity the poor girl who had her legs next to this thing when it went off. She certainly didn't deserve the laughter we had over the "explosion", before we saw it!

To members of Pizza Hut's loyalty scheme: You really knead to stop reusing your passwords



First thought from media reports is that as the rated points have been redemed, surely they have the address the pizzas were delivered to? Might be a starting point to find the perp.. (although if the local delivery drivers are typical, they sit on the road and expect you to come out to them..)

I do use pizza Hut occasionally, because they are one of the few places still open at 2-3am.. Plus once you factor in the various offers codes and deals it's not particularly expensive. No sign of my points going missing, but I use a long random and unique password.

I do

Never let something so flimsy as a locked door to the computer room stand in the way of an auditor on the warpath


Re: First step, tell them to fire security

Visited a customer, early 90s, whom hired out mobile cranes. You've seen the size of those things. They had one taken for a joyride once.. Just across the yard and into the side of the offices. Nothing was going to stand in that thing's way! I think this was the point they moved *all* the PCs into a secure bunker at the back of the building (walls and ceiling lined with steel bars, no room to get a vehicle nearby outside) and used kvm extenders to the monitors and keyboards out in the office..


Re: First step, tell them to fire security

IT company I worked at once suffered a break in. They nicked a handful of desktops. Boss then decreed that all doors to be kept locked. The visit two weeks later involved them kicking through every door in the building. The cost of the damage by far exceeded the loss in goods. Locked door policy was swiftly reversed!

That was the point he opted for security cages for the servers (Thankfully overlooked so far,) bars at the windows and security shutters on the front. As the made-to-measure bars were going to take a few weeks, he had us improvise... We ended up with 15mm copper pipe spayed with white paint, held in place by timber buttons with holes drilled through. Wouldn't have stopped anything getting through the windows, but looked the part from outside.

Sky customers moan: Our broadband hubs are bricking it


Re: Wireshark

Mine is still stuck on MER. only thing connected is a box running my own firewall/filtering, everything else is on the other side of that.

Oddly just yesterday, for a few hours, was getting Sky Broadband Shield block messages on some sites, despite having turned that of years ago. Wonder if they have been doing some other tinkering.

Techies take turns at shut-down top trumps



Most of my gainful employment has been with SME accounts systems, where the "server room" was at most a broom cupboard with an NT based box in it. But many of these companies were in manufacturing, so a walk round the shop would offer many opportunities to see the Big Red Buttons. However the only time I ever encountered one pressed intentionally was before all that, when I was a lowly apprentice at Ferranti, during stint in the machine shop when one of the other kids decided to faint while stood at a lathe. (Thankfully he didn't fall into it, but the instructor wasn't taking chances.)

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


Ah yes. After getting addicted to BBSs, then the quarterly bill came in, I wrote my own BBS software (for the BBC micro, later to be sold by Pace) so people could call me instead..! It worked, but I very quickly had to get my own phone line(s)! That ran for many years, even after I left home and moved to London for a new job; my dad got quite good at rebooting it when necessary.

Techie finds himself telling caller there is no safe depth of water for operating computers



I used to do support for an accounts software company. Visited one customer, an engineering supplies firm, and all the computers on the ground floor that would normally sit on the floor under the desks had been placed on little home made wooden plinths.

Apparently, between a neighbouring set of playing fields and them was a car park, which had recently been resurfaced. First decent downpour and they discovered that the car park was a lot less absorbant than before, and all the water running of the playing fields was now getting across the car park and pouring through the offices and warehouse area..

After a couple of episodes, their solution was just to raise everything up by six inches, above the water level, until The Powers That Be could come up with a permanent solution..

You were told to clean up our systems, not delete 8,000 crucial files


rm -rf /

Not me, thankfully, but I got a panicked late night call from one of my colleagues whom, at that time, was stationed at a major customer. One urgent dash down to Stoke later, I found the doors unlocked alarm off, and not a soul in sight. My colleague arrived soon after, as he had slightly further to travel.

It seemed their on-site IT tech had attempted to do a later night restore of a backup, and wanted to clear out the relevant folder first. But issued the rm in root... He called it in, but had bolted by the time we got there. I don't think he was ever seen again.

We managed to recover the system; he had done the usual backups first, thankfully. But had we not, it would probably have taken down the company. Then known as Midland Cellular, it went on to be better known as Phones4u. Now, with hindsight....

Um, I'm not that Gary, American man tells Ryanair after being sent other Gary's flight itinerary


A street I lived on some years back (early 90s) had another person with the same surname some numbers up. We had the phone ex-directory. They didn't. I often wonder just how many people looking for us got them. I know my dad ended up speaking to them...!

Forward a bit, I notice that the various doctors at my GP surgery all have firstname.lastname@nhs.net addresses, except for the one that has firstname.lastname2@nhs.net. Apparently a lot of people write to her namesake..


Re: It'll never happen...

I own my own domain.. It's a single word ".com" that is somewhat daft. I received emails to it from the day I registered it (in 1996.) Every so often I re-enable word@word.com and view the flood of website registration messages..

Not as bad as having the home phone number appear on a list of fax numbers for G4S.. Had some very interesting offender information faxed to us every few weeks. ICO were very interested! Luckily the courts have moved away from faxing these things now.

Why millions of Brits' mobile phones were knackered on Thursday: An expired Ericsson software certificate


Re: Standby?

My home broadband was down yesterday, too. (second exchange fault within a week, thanks, Sky.) But I'm prepared for that. I've a cellular dongle plugged into the firewall that is set up as fallback. Runs on O2...

Tumblr resorts to AI in attempt to scrub itself clean from filth



This makes me wonder why they don't just release an app that simply won't allow access to flagged posts. Leave them on the system, accessible via Web browser, just not via the app. No problem with deleting anything, then, and problem is avoided.

Groundhog Day comes early as Intel Display Drivers give Windows 10 the silent treatment


Re: Office 2010

I use it, simply because I paid real money for a however many licence many years ago. I see no reason to throw more money at Microsoft when we only use Word/Excel maybe a couple of times a month, and other parts way less. It still works, does its job, and the family are familiar with it.

Oracle? On my server? I must have been hacked! *Penny drops* Oh sh-


Re: 1200 baud down, 75 baud up

300 baud, you had it lucky, I had to use 110 baud...

Ah bugger it. I mostly used 1200/75 V23 and 1200/1200 V22, but played Essex MUD a lot, and one day the JANET links went down, and the (two) direct dial numbers were only 110 baud. (Usual 300 baud modem but I had to change a jumper on my motherboard! Gosh I must have been addicted..)

TV Licensing admits: We directed 25,000 people to send their bank details in the clear



Going back a few years now, but I started getting the threatening letters at a PO box I was tenting at the time! I'm not sure how they thought I'd get a TV into the pigeonhole, back of the desk at the local showing office!

Check out this link! It's not like it'll crash your iPhone or anything (Hint: Of course it will)


Re: Here's an evil thought...

It was usually more effective to redirect the Break vector to a customised error... Only way around that one was to power off..

Support team discovers 'official' vendor paper doesn't rob you blind


Re: "opting for cheaper 3rd party labels"

Spotted a "Gold Plated" OPTICAL cable the other day ...


Re: The story is ...

Certain supermarket round here still does it to this day. Last few digits (excluding the final checksum) of the barcode are the new price in pence.

Of course, EAN checksums being as they are, will treat 0100 the same as 0001... Now, when you can just key in the barcode at the self-scan, it's easy to be a little dyslexic, and no need to print your own labels at all.

How a hack on Prince Philip's Prestel account led to UK computer law


RIP Steve Gold. silentmodems.com.

To follow up on a couple of comments; prestel used V23 modems - it was originally designed to be used from a modified *television*, not a telephone. (It made sense in the 70s - most people had a TV, but they were still a bit too expensive to have a second..) Only later did they relent and allow Set Top Boxes/dedicated terminals/computer access!

Prestel sets had the same feature as BTX - you could set the customer ID in memory, and it would be sent out when an ENQ code was received. Whatever system it was connected to... Many viewdata-format BBS owners found prestel IDs in their logs ...

The Prince Philip prestel account was, I am told, set up for a demonstration and never actually used thereafter... I was promised screen grab from the "hack", but sadly never got them.. The System Manager ID used was, I understand 2222222222. If you consider that the public demo account was 4444444444 and Micronet's demo account 8888888888 ... It's a wonder they didn't get dropped in it beforehand.

Telecom Gold was a separate text-based service that offered messaging with other national services around the word and was thus great for business communications. There was a gateway from Prestel quite late on, but it was cumbersome.

And thanks for the links to viewdata.org.uk - that's my site :) I really must so some updates...

Almost EVERY SAP install hackable, researchers say


Doesn''t surprise me

I have an account with a major UK business that gives me access via SAP Netweaver Portal - one time, I connected and I was in somebody else's account completely! The company helpdesk simply wasn't interested; told me to log out, clear cookies, go back in again. Didn't even ask who I had ended up as..

Landlines: The tech that just won't die


Re: What is this rant actually about?

" An alternative, of course, might be to introduce PAYG for landline." ... They did ... and withdrew it again. Look up BT Pay&Call https://www.bt.com/pricing/current/Exch_Lines_boo/1612_d0e1.htm#1612-d0e1

FWIW, we're currently with BT for internet & line rental, but only because it worked out cheapest last time round for our pattern of usage. It's been passed around various companies over the years. Our primary telephone number IS a "landline" number, but it was ported to A&A some time back and now comes in via VoIP, ringing on the house phones AND on our mobiles. We never use the number associated with the physical line... that only ever gets wrong numbers.

'80s hacker turned journo, IT crime ace Steve Gold logs off



So shocked to hear of Steve's passing.

My enduring memory of him was meeting him (at Euston I think) with one of the first mobile phones clutched to his ear; they really were the size of a brick, and almost as heavy!

His Micromouse articles on Prestel/Micronet 800 inspired me to run my own (irregular) comment and news pages on Prestel; I ended up working for Micronet myself, left home and moved to London to rent a room from his friend of his (and the standby Micromouse,) We spoke many times, although not as much as we should have over the last few years.

Steve, you were a great chap, a good friend, an amazing writer, and you will be sorely missed.

(And you never did dig out those microdrives with the saved Prestel pages you promised me!)

Rob (once known as "The Mad Sysop".)



Is this possibly the worst broadband in the world?


Re: But...

The other issue is that 56K modems only ever managed to reach speed that if you were within spitting distance of the exchange. Line lengths and db losses made just as much difference to them, too. I was our resident modem guy, so got to meet lots at various clients, and never saw one hit over 48K - most of the time they would train at 33.6, or less, and that was in an urban environment. I would imagine the OP would get a lot less.

(Here in inner-city Salford, ADSL wise, I got 5-6 Mbps a mile or so from the exchange. FTTC now gives me a slightly rocky 30Mbps... 100 yards or so from the cabinet as the crow flies, but apparently the 100 pair cable takes a meandering route around the estate before it gets as far as us.. )

The hoarder's dilemma, or 'Why can't I throw anything away?'



Oh I'm definitely a hoarder...

I had to empty the attic a while back, so that the joists can be checked. The spare room now has ~40 cardboard boxes, ~20 plastic crates, and god knows how much loose stuff piled up in it. And that's just the stuff that had made it to the attic. Lots of viewdata kit, BBC Micros, and other Acorn related stuff, but plenty of DIY bits too - everything from light switches to an electric shower...

But it works, too... It seems that I'm now the leading expert on Prestel, (www.viewdata.org.uk) with a more comprehensive collection of documentation and items than anybody else, mostly stuff I've just not thrown away over the last 30 years! All I need to find now is the server-side stuff and I'll be happy.

Mega spam-spewing Grum botnet finally KO'd

Thumb Up


I hope it's this lot that's been sending spam with a /from/ address of one of my emails for the last year or so... Month-to-date alone I've had around 1,300 "Undeliverable" messages land in my mailbox... god knows how many more got through, but it's enough to actually cost /me/ money, due to the sheer volume of DNS lookups it creates bumping me off the free DNS tariff I was using. I am well p***ed off with it.

Small banking Trojan poses major risk

Thumb Up


Well one of the hosts is visible in the image on the linked writeup - in the hex-dump, they masked out the ASCII, but left the hex version visible - so that's one down...

RIP Ceefax: Digital switchover kills off last teletext service


Re: BBC Micro program

Pretty sure I've got copies of SEAFAX kicking about. I'll post a copy somewhere and put a note on the BBC Micro mailing list.

Harking back to Oracle, has everybody seen


But of course, my fondest memories are of Prestel - same display format, but delivered via the telephone, and thus able to be totally interactive!


The BBC Micro turns 30

Thumb Up


I remember Prestel - in fact, I've got a whole website devoted to it and it's ilk. Come reminisce over at www.viewdata.org.uk :-)

Diebold demos cloud-based ATM



Yep, been a while since I saw a blue-screen on an ATM (and I really did..) but hardware failures seem common.

What seem particularly unreliable at the moment are self-service tills in supermarkets - the one next to me yesterday had a window desktop, a DOS-type window saying "this launches something-or-other", a "terminal" window with "Welcome to ASDA" in it, and a pop-up error message box advising it couldn't communicate with the scanner. Looked terribly bodged-together to me!

Sky makes iPad trolley for square-eyed shoppers



Local Sainsburys offered mini trollies for the kiddies to push themselves, about 15 years ago. Even with stupid big poles on the top to make getting them outside tricky, they lost the lot within a couple of weeks. I can see these lasting considerably less time..

Ultra-cheap HP TouchPads to hit UK at 6pm

Thumb Down


Saw this last night, and DSG webstores were all showing out of stock. Phoned round all the local stores this morning, and nothing available. Nobody had to go away and check... "They're Rocking horse shit" said one store.. Shame; the Mrs was interested in one to play with..

Videotree VideoSpa bathroom TV


Wall 'em in

I've seen bog standard TVs being used before now behind sheets of glass in, erm, the gents in various places before now. I'm sure that must be much easier, and cheaper.

News Corp kills BSkyB bid amid 'difficult climate'


Been there, done that.

We did... but they all gobbled each other up until there was no competition left.

Moderatrix kisses the Reg goodbye


best wishes

I never had the (mis)fortune to exchange banter with you, but always enjoyed your comments. You brought a very human touch to the place. I'll miss you.

Groupon India publishes 300,000 user passwords



google filetype:sql e10adc3949ba59abbe56e057f20f883e

Google confirms US antitrust probe


Asda price

I've had plenty of vouchers off the asda price guarantee site. I'm happy that they honour their promise. However, it only applies to the total of the (comparable) shop, not each item, which means some items in your basket can be more expensive and they can still stand by it being 10% cheaper if the cheaper items are cheap enough..

What I also like is the £2 vouchers they give you if they make a mistake on your bill, even if you usually have to ask for them...

Now Sainsburys' "we check our prices against Tesco" labels that they put on the shelf edge to make out they are the same price (do they think we think Tesco is cheap?) ... they seem to get annoyed when I correct them with the actual Tesco prices...

Number-crunching in the Cloud



Ah yes ... some 15 years ago I was involved in putting in a EPOS system for a batch of local authority leisure centres. One of the key things it had to produce at each centre was a finance statement to be sent up to the head office. We had the specification, and past examples that the centres had produced using spreadsheets, but couldn't tie the two together. And when we populated our system with duplicate data, our report just didn't match their manual one.

In the end we asked the staff outright how they produced theirs. "Oh we just fiddle with the figures until it looks right."

Kindle Store awash with auto-generated crap 'books'

Thumb Down

Seen that.

I came across a fairly expensive book on Amazon when looking for old viewdata/Prestel publications. The list of chapters was diverse and unconnected, but the couple of paragraphs of sample content matched exactly the wikipedia articles, and the pertinent chapter was the very article I'd contributed much to myself!!

A sysadmin's top ten tales of woe



Ah yes ... aircon drip trays sited directly above the brand new IT room, raining down into the cupboard with the power distribution racks in it. Major player in the mobile phone retail sector, mid 90s. I was on-site at the time, too..

Same place, year or two earlier, I was dragged out of bed because their tech had done an rm -r in exactly the wrong folder ... at least he'd phoned his boss before bolting. We arrived to find the place empty and barely even locked up.

Reg hack cast adrift as Illuminati Online goes off-line



My first email address came with my first internet access account almost 20 years ago! £10/month for dial-up to a local POP, that had a mere 16 lines available. The line of takeovers is long - goto www.nwnet.co.uk these days and see how many company names you can find before you end up at TalkTalk ! I stopped paying long ago, but that email address still works, and I collect mail from it to this day.

by 1995, I was using a .ml.org subdomain (anybody remember them?) for self-hosted services due to a very early cable-modem trial service giving me unfettered internet access. When they went bump, I bought my own domain in 1996, which became my primary email and web address, and despite being passed about between several registrars, DNS hosts, countless webhosts, and revisiting self-hosting, I'm currently using Google Apps for email (but not web);

Email is about the only contact method that has remained unchanged for me for 20 years!

Dynamic ninjas kill off free DNS service


Free for life?

from Dyn Inc. sendlabs@dyn.com

date 3 February 2010 20:52

subject What's Next for EveryDNS Users

"First off, anyone who has donated to David and EveryDNS since 2001 will be grandfathered into free Custom DNS hosting with DynDNS.com. Back in 2001 we made an announcement to our 19,000 free Custom DNS users that they would have service for life because of their early adopter loyalty. We promise to honor that same commitment to you. Have no fear."

Rackspace backtracks over toff-proof sign-up process



I've got an apostrophe in my surname too. It causes no end of problems, but does sometimes throw up interesting SQL errors.. What irritates me, though, is the sites that automatically de-capitalise the letter after the apostrophe. If I take the trouble to type in mixed case, please keep it like that!

Worst incident was when O2 upgraded their website - old version was quite happy with me. New version crashed with lots of errors as soon as I logged in.. it took months before they fixed it - by creating me a new login and misspelling my name - and I could get into my bills again.

My young daughter has a first name with a hyphen in it, as well as the apostrophe in the surname. I can foresee many interesting times ahead with websites...

Launcher Pro

Thumb Up


Have to say, I'm not a big bells-and-whistles fan, but I put this on my X10MiniPro a while back following a recommendation somewhere (probably another Reg article, or it's comments) and have been blown away. Much better than the stock launcher, which was limited to 4 icons & 1 widget on the home screen. I've still not explored all it's features, but its made the phone a much more pleasant device.

Sony wins subpoenas revealing visitors to PS3 jailbreaker site

Thumb Down


I think I might have visited his site; I know I looked at the fail0verflow one when the news broke. And there IS a PS3 in the house that shares the same internet connections. It's my lad's, and is completely untouched. Heck, he even buys things off PSN. If Sony try and allege anything against us, I'll fight it tooth and nail!


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019