* Posts by Alister

3335 posts • joined 19 May 2010

How to build a real lightsabre

Alister Silver badge

No, you've got it all wrong, what you do is, you get a real-looking hilt and film yourself waving it around, and then you employ Industrial Light & Magic to draw the blade on every frame of the film...

That's how you get a real lightsabre!

GCHQ creates Github repo, offers graph database code

Alister Silver badge

Why is GCHQ releasing Gaffer now?


Brit 'naut Tim Peake preps for Space Station launch

Alister Silver badge

I'm waiting for Donald Trump to decry a British Army bloke for joining ISS...

ISS 'naut trio return to snowy terra firma

Alister Silver badge


Given what happens when you bite 'em, I would think the last thing you want in zero-G is a box of crackers.

Tablet computer zoom error saw plane fly 13 hours with 46cm hole

Alister Silver badge

Ground Control to Major Tom...

Surely he must have been given clearance to taxi, and then clearance to take-off, from ground-control in the Tower, so why didn't they query where he was trying to take off from?

WordPress hosting biz confesses to breach, urgently contacts 30,000 users

Alister Silver badge

At WP Engine we are committed to providing robust security.

Umm, demonstrably not, I fear...

We are writing today to let you know that we learned of an exposure involving some of our customers’ credentials


Puppet jerks into life, hugs Microsoft and orchestrates apps

Alister Silver badge
Thumb Up

Which makes it even greaterer, presumably.

Yay! Much more betterer!

Microsoft encrypts explanation of borked Windows 10 encryption

Alister Silver badge

Re: Silly Peeps

After all these days someone else might have encrypted your sock pictures, sock novels, sock videos, sock music and sock design software along with your .sck design files so it's not as if they really know whether or not you yourself chose to encrypt your sock data so it's best to play safe and have a good rummage about the place just to make sure.

Ha, you're nothing but a sock-puppet...

BTW, if anyone's thinking of buying me Xmas presents, I could do with some socks...

Boffins could tune telescopes to listen to lasers on Mars

Alister Silver badge

Disaster Area

So, along with the Laser banks, the main speaker stacks can go on Tharsis Plateau, and the blockhouse for the instruments in Valles Marineris. Should be a good show!

After the first chord has been played, the planet should be just about terraformed...

IT pros are a bunch of wedding and funeral-dodging sickos

Alister Silver badge

Re: Not allowed to have a life - ever

@Uncle Slacky

I don't know where you work, but I'd stick to it like glue. For me, Joe Drunk has got it spot on, and I work in an allegedly civilised country.

Alister Silver badge

Curious answers

“People call me Jesus because I have long hair and save them from IT issues.”

Nope, balding and beardy

“We are treated like wizards”

More like witches - ritually drowned, burned or beheaded on a regular basis

“Everybody loves me”

Everybody hates me :(

“I am seen like a god and treated incredibly well”

What planet are you on?

“I am a hero or villain, sometimes both at the same time.”

Hmm, I think hero is a bit strong

“I’m either ‘Mr fix It’ or ‘he’s the one that broke it’”

Yes, this.

“My boss always blames me when something breaks.”

Emphatically this!

Also, no-one realises how much you do, until you're not there. The last three holidays I've been rung up or emailed for some stupid question, the answer to which was already well documented.

Team America, world police, take down 37,479 counterfeit sites

Alister Silver badge

Whenever I see the words "Team America" I immediately think to myself "fuck yeah".

I wish I didn't.

Mr Grey, the Russian hacker who helped haul in 1.2 billion logins

Alister Silver badge

Re: Why am I Mr Grey?

Are they sure it's one man? A group of 50 maybe??

Sounds a bit shady to me...

So why exactly are IT investors so utterly clueless?

Alister Silver badge

a freeriding Australian colleague claimed that he only had to utter the word “bottoms” to make an Englishman snigger. We suspect he may be onto something...

Is this not, in fact, one of the main reasons why the Minions are such popular characters in Britain?




Suck it, Elon – Jeff Bezos' New Shepard space rocket blasts off, lands in one piece

Alister Silver badge
Thumb Up

@DropBear Re: The space joyride market seems crowded..

Rocketry, on the other hand, is not a field where substantial advances are possible anymore...

There's no huge untapped potential left to explore here, only novel commercial applications and price points...

But isn't that the point? The technology is now mature (it may not be the best way, but it's the only realistic one for a while), so the next step is commercialisation, which will hopefully lead to dropping prices and greater uptake.

We need a commercially viable space transport industry, so that we can then sensibly consider permanent settlements on other moons and planets.

Alister Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: @Alister "The successful VTOL, especially the "L" bit, is a major step forwards."

@Arctic Fox

those of us of certain age

Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately, in this context) I remember it well, and was old enough to watch, and appreciate the Apollo11 landing, on a flickery black and white tv as well.

Alister Silver badge

Re: The space joyride market seems crowded..

<wanders off, muttering and wondering how this will improve humanity or help space exploration.>

It really is laughable reading some of the commentards on this thread. Their echoes could be traced back through history... listen!

"That Christopher Columbus, who does 'ee fink 'ee is, sailing off all over the place, waste of money, what use is it?"

"And what about that Captain Cook, eh, wasting the Royal Navy's money, can't see the point, we've discovered everything that's worth finding"

"Stupid steam Joyrides, have you seen them rich toffs paying good money to ride around on that circle that Richard Trevithick's built? What's the point of that then?"

"I hear George Stephenson's offering rides on his new steam tramway thing between Stockton and Darlington. I mean, what's the point? Who wants to go to Darlington anyway?"

"I'm glad they've brought in that new Locomotive Act, having someone in front with a red flag will just show those idiots who think horseless carriages will ever amount to anything. What a waste of money!"

"Have you heard about that Wilbur Wright bloke? He's supposed to have invented a flying machine thing, he's showing it off all round Europe. Can't see the point myself, it's not like it's useful for anything"

"They ought to ban those barnstormers, whizzing about everywhere in their airyplanes, why would you pay money to go up in one of them things, it's not like they're any use for anything really"

"What about Harry H. Knight and Harold M. Bixby then, they've put up $18,000 for some crazy stunt to fly across the Atlantic. What a waste of money!"


Alister Silver badge

Re: Nouveau riche?

But seriously, this is not space, it's not even close. It's just above the Kármán line, a fairly arbitrary distinction, going fairly slowly by satellite standards. Go and do something useful with your money.

But this is exactly how road transport, and later air transport, finally took off (if you'll excuse the pun).

In both cases the rich eccentrics were the ones who started, with small steps, and eventually what they were doing progressed until it became of interest to more staid businesses, at which point some serious money started to be invested and it became more and more commonplace, and more accessible to the general populace.

The trouble with space travel is that it started with a politically driven effort to score points which was very dramatic, but very shortlived, and therefore skewed our perception. What you are seeing now is much more "the norm" it's just we've had our expectations raised by what's gone before.

The successful VTOL, especially the "L" bit, is a major step forwards. Elon must be grumbling to himself today that he didn't get there first, but a bit of healthy competition will benefit everyone.

Indian scientists teach computers to see by watching Cricket

Alister Silver badge

Re: AIs that understand cricket could have an impact on global politics

Because historically, no two cricketing nations had ever gone to war on each other.

Umm... India vs Pakistan??

Alister Silver badge

Re: Yes, but...

... and friendly chimney sweeps??

Fifth arrest in TalkTalk hacking probe: Now Plod cuff chap in Wales

Alister Silver badge

Re: Bless

Ydw. A oes gennych caws ar dost yn Llundain?

Yes, and they don't call it Welsh Rarebit, either... :)

Hilton confirms hotel credit-card-snaffling sales till malware hit

Alister Silver badge

Exposed data includes cardholder names, payment card numbers, security codes and expiry dates.

Great, all the information you need to make an online payment then.

Addresses and PINs were not exposed, Hilton concluded

Oh well, can't have everything

North Korea is capable of pwning Sony. Whether it did is another matter

Alister Silver badge

Re: @Trevor_Pott "They've reversed the polarity on the tachyon inverter"

If that is not a Star Trek reference than I do not know what is. James Doohan would have very happily delivered that line.

I think it's a combination of Star Trek and Doctor Who.

Jon Pertwee once ad-libbed "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" and it became a bit of a catch phrase for the Time Lord, but "tachyon inverter" certainly smells more Trekkie to me, although more TNG than TOS.

Alister Silver badge

They've reversed the polarity on the tachyon inverter and suddenly used the thermostat to overwrite the hidden sectors on the tablet that controls the nuclear reactor. Oh noes!

Trevor, you've done it now mate, releasing closely guarded details like that can only lead to you being picked up for terrist activities.

A font farewell to Fontdeck as website service closes

Alister Silver badge

Re: A resourceful web developer

How can anyone using a third party service guarantee any kind of up time/latency/page loading times etc. to a client?

This, exactly.

One of our sites was responding incredibly slowly some time back, and we traced the problem to the loading of custom fonts - not, as it happens from Fontdeck on that occasion, but a different supplier.

The web team was getting flak from the client, and were a bit snotty about our servers when they passed it to the Sysadmin team, so we took great pleasure in telling them there was bugger all we could do about it, and gave them the support email of the font provider. :)

Alister Silver badge

Cloud = Vapour

Our Web team use Fontdeck quite a bit for custom fonts, so this is going to hit them hard.

As with the reported shuttering of Adobe's Photo cloud, this does call into question why you would constrain your business to the point of reliance on a cloud based service, which may disappear at any time.

Granted, Fontdeck have tried to do this in the least disruptive way, instead of abruptly disappearing without trace, but if no-one else provides an exact replica of a particular font they currently supply, then designers, developers and clients will all have to start again picking a replacement, which all costs time and money.

So what incentive is there to use a cloud based service, given you could be left in the lurch at any time?

Remember Windows 1.0? It's been 30 years (and you're officially old)

Alister Silver badge

Re: At Least Get an Old Person to proof-read the article

Windows 3.11 on the other hand was to me at least a notoriously buggy interim release, quickly replaced by Windows 95 (and my company skipped Windows 3.11 entirely; so I view 3.11 as the first _Vista_ type release - the one to ignore until the right one came along).

This is completely at odds with my remembrances, my experience was that Windows For Workgroups 3.11 was the first edition that gained any traction in a business environment, allied with the TCP stack add-on, and is certainly the first Windows edition I remember dealing with in any numbers. Prior to that we used to run MS-DOS and various custom front ends like XTree Gold.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Why the hate for Me?

I think you must have been lucky.

I had personal experience of installing ME on a large number of machines, due to a misguided PHB insisting, and a more god-forsaken unstable piece of crap has yet to be found (yes, even Vista and Win8 were better!).

Without any exaggeration I think we left it a month before uninstalling it and going back to 98SE - no small undertaking in itself.

This was on a range of hardware from different manufacturers, so it wasn't just a single model of PC.

Alister Silver badge

A couple of thoughts...

Firstly, you really should have included Windows 2000 in the "Good", to my mind it was the most reliable, bomb-proof OS they produced, especially with SP4 plus.

Secondly, although Vista was unmistakeably awful in it's own right, one of the big reasons for it's failure was Microsoft's then policy of not releasing details of the new OS to hardware manufacturers until the last minute - on the grounds of secrecy - which meant that when the OS was released almost nobody had got round to writing Vista compatible drivers for most common hardware, including graphics cards, sound cards, network cards etc. so you were bloody lucky if your chosen hardware would work properly.

Science Museum trumpets Da Vinci expo

Alister Silver badge

Amongst the exhibits on display you will find the following:

A machine capable of travelling submersed in a marine environment, the "Going-Under-The-Water-Safely Device"

A device invented to encrypt and decrypt messages, the "Engine for the Neutralizing of Information by the Generation of Miasmic Alphabets"

A machine to make coffee really quickly "The-Very-Fast-Coffee-Machine"

A device to propel a small projectile accurately and quickly, "The Gonne".

We chew over CCS Insight's look into the fu-ture-ture-ture-ture

Alister Silver badge

We're all DOOMED! Doomed, I tell ye...

World needs 252,288,000 seconds to decide fate of leap seconds

Alister Silver badge

Re: Why the high degree of granularity?

Do you really want to live in a world when things are out by an hour?

Exactly! What about lunchtime, or beer o'clock!.

What we need is for them to take off an hour now, and then gradually add a second for the next few years...

Ofcom asks: Do kids believe anything they read on the internet?

Alister Silver badge

...she sulked off to her room and spent the spare time she gained reading real books!

The Anarchist's Cookbook, for example?

Short weekend break: Skegness or exoplanet HD 189733b?

Alister Silver badge

Re: Skeggie? Why oh why?

The ONLY place on the east coast colder than Skeggie is Hunstanton. Winter clothes needed for August in both places.

Rubbish, you should try Scarborough, a more joyless place is hard to conceive.

Oh, and what about Grimsby - the clue is in the name :)

Looking for a council house in Sheffield City? Meet your fellow tenants

Alister Silver badge

A spokesperson from Sheffield City Council said: “... We noticed immediately and recalled the email and alerted data protection officers."

The very first lesson in school ICT, and in all these IT literacy courses should be "YOU CAN'T RECALL AN EXTERNAL EMAIL!"

I bet they feel so proud they recalled it immediately...


One-armed bandit steals four hours of engineer's busy day

Alister Silver badge

Re: Hands up if...

Hands up if...

...You've been the one to have to do a long drive to switch a box back on after you got confused between "Restart" and "Shutdown"

Never sure if it's more embarrassing explaining to the boss why you suddenly have to drive to the other side of the country (UK only), or explaining to an onsite technician that you fucked up, and please can he wander along and restart it...

eBay scammer steals identity of special agent investigating him

Alister Silver badge

one count of stealing a special agent's identity

Is that really a specific offence on the statute books? Wow, they do think ahead, don't they!

Rise of the handy machines: UK gears up for first Robotics Week

Alister Silver badge

Bring Back Robot Wars!

That is all

Telecity's engineers to spend SECOND night fixing web hub power outage

Alister Silver badge

Amazon AWS EU-West1

We run some monitoring software on a VM instance in Amazon's EU-West cloud, which we use to keep a check on our servers which are in various datacentres around the UK. Yesterday at about 14:00 GMT we started getting buried in alert emails, as the AWS instance couldn't see any of our stuff in Union Solutions, 6Degrees, Node4 and various other providers. We ended up turning the monitoring off, and weren't able to start it again until past 19:00 GMT last night, and it's still a bit flaky today.

Rap for wrap chaps in crap email trap: Chipotle HR used domain it had no control over

Alister Silver badge

Similar example

A newish developer with our company, who was working on some bulk mail software, decided to create his own test email addresses by running his fingers up and down his keyboard, and then inserting a dot before the last two or three letters. He did this for about 1,000 addresses, and then sent them all a test email.

He was successful in creating quite a few real domains using that method and we ended up fielding a lot of bounces, including some from an obscure military establishment in the US...

I wasn't best pleased, especially since we have our own test email server with a specified domain set up for sending to.

Brit cops accused of abusing anti-terror laws to hunt colleague

Alister Silver badge

Re: Entirely too distracted

Sorry, wrong Cleveland...

Telecity London data centre outage borks VoIP, websites, AWS...

Alister Silver badge

Telecity refused to comment when The Register phoned them to ask what had happened.

Oh! You managed to get through then?

Pope instructs followers to put the iPhone away during dinner

Alister Silver badge

Re: Expert


Before the ubiquitous availability of Internet access and use of mobile devices, there was very little opportunity for families (or friends) to communicate with each other through the day and this, naturally puts a large focus on those times when it is possible to have a conversation.

But that was then. Now, families have the ability to communicate very nearly whenever they want. Through social media and mobile phones, I would suspect that many parent know more about their where there children are and who they are friends with and what music and activities they like than they ever did before.

The thing is though, Dan, that communication is all very well, and you are correct that it is easier and more available now, but the ability to communicate is notthe same as proper social interaction, and in particular the close family interaction which you get from regularly eating together or gathering together.

There is strong evidence to suggest that the children of families who set aside time to get together regularly are more confident socially, and in particular young children's language acquisition and literacy development are much better in families who regularly eat together than in children from families who rarely spend time together.

Decoding Microsoft: Cloud, Azure and dodging the PC death spiral

Alister Silver badge

Microsoft is a long way behind Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) market but makes up for that to some extent by a huge SaaS (Software as a Service) presence with Office 365,

Whilst this is undoubtedly true, Azure does have one distinct advantage, and that is the cost of Database storage if you need to use Microsoft SQL.

Unsurprisingly, to bring up a Windows Server 2012 VM with SQL Server 2014 on it requires software licensing, however Microsoft deliberately undercut their normal SQL pricing to make it a no-brainer to choose Azure over AWS.

Apple's OS X App Store downloads knackered by expired security cert

Alister Silver badge

But you'd have thought a company with the vast resources of Apple could assign someone to keep an eye on such things.

Umm, I would argue that in a company of Apple's size, (or Google, or Microsoft, or Facebook) then it's likely to always be someone else's job, whereas in a small company it will definitely be assigned to a single individual.

And even then, it's possible to miss one... ask me how I know...

Royal Mail mulls drones for rural deliveries

Alister Silver badge

Re: "Jumping enthusiastically onto the airborne parcel bandwagon"

over the top pie-in-the-sky ideas

Quite apt considering we are discussing aerial drones, but we must ensure these ideas don't end up in-your-face...

What the Investigatory Powers Bill will mean for your internet use

Alister Silver badge

Will investigators have powers to examine web server logs?

Yes, for those based in Britain.

So, as someone who currently hosts a load of websites for friends, when am I going to be instructed as to how long I need to hold web log data from my servers?

And. as a Sys Admin for a company that hosts thousands of web sites in the UK (but is not an ISP by current definition) when are we going to be formally informed as to our obligations regarding log data? At present there doesn't seem to be a clearly defined period for which we have to hold logs, nor is there much information about when we should destroy log data.

Trident test-shot startles West Coast Americans

Alister Silver badge

A likely story...

<tinfoil hat mode>

They say it was just a Trident launch now, but we all know it wasn't anything from Earth. They'll be telling us next it was swamp gas from a weather balloon that was trapped in a thermal pocket and reflected the light from Venus....

</tinfoil hat mode>

Swedbank smacked by DDoS attack

Alister Silver badge

It wouldn't happen to be in the same data centre as ProtonMail, would it?

Fancy flying to Mars? NASA's hiring

Alister Silver badge

Brian Kelly, director of Flight Operations at the Johnson Space Center, described right now as "an exciting time to be a part of America’s human space flight program".

Until the next round of budget cuts, anyway.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019