* Posts by Cpt Blue Bear

382 posts • joined 2 Aug 2010

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User dialled his PC into a permanent state of 'Brown Alert'

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: Haunted messages...

"Someone once spotted me in the machine room on a security camera. So they remotely logged into the machine nearest me, made it beep, so I turned towards it - then they typed "Hello Martin..." on the screen.

I will admit to a slight HAL shiver..."

This was a mate's favourite prank way back when he was a Novell admin. The joys of Netware messaging...

When I was a site service monkey, a colleague (that seems like a grand word for another site service monkey) struck up a romance with a Berlin based server admin like that. I have no idea if it worked out but after several months he quit and jumped on a plane for Germany. We never saw him again...

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Spanish govt slammed over bizarre Catalan .cat internet registry cop raid

Cpt Blue Bear

"Might even happen here in the States. I reference the "State of Jefferson" movement"

More radically look up Cascadia. That ones been bubbling since before the Civil War

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User demanded PC be moved to move to a sunny desk – because it needed Windows

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: open a PC ... and then remove the floppy disk ... without setting off the alarm

This reminds me of my first brush with the legal / forensic side of the IT dodge.

As a junior site service monkey I was sent over to the office of a company that owned a lot of car yards in Adelaide. I was handed a carton of Pentium CPUs and a big bag of DIMMs and told to go replace the ones onsite. No reason was given, so off I went in my little noddy car.

I arrived to find the police winding up their crime scene. It seems that overnight someone had broken in and removed all the CPUs and RAM from a dozen brand new machines. Now these things had intrusion alarms so the cunning buggers had gone in through the front panels and stripped the machines to their motherboards without tripping the alarms. All the bits were neatly stacked, along with the screws next to each machine.

A rather attractive DC asked me what I thought of it. I replied that whoever did it clearly knew exactly how these boxes were assembled, where they were and how to to them without tripping the building alarms. In short, its an inside job.

These days I'd know better than to volunteer such an opinion. I'd offer to write it up in a report and charge a fee.

I did discover just how loud those little bastard sirens are when I failed to get the disarm key in and turned fast enough...

A note for those under 40: back in the early to mid 1990s CPUs, RAM and HDDs were hell expensive. Also highly portable, easily concealed and readily disposable due to a combination of tight supply and system builders with lots of orders and few morals. There were cases of Intel freight getting hijacked at gun point. Most disties kept this stuff in a locked cage that wouldn't look out of place at a crack dealers' premises.

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Cpt Blue Bear

Re: Professionals can miss obvious things...

I agree that its not obvious due to OWA's bloody awful layout, but that is beside the point.

Several times I have observed that something is so dumb / obvious / such a basic fucking requirement that there is no way anyone, competent or otherwise, could have designed it that way and that there must be a proper / better / easier way to do something. Mostly I have been right and a look at the manual or asking someone in possession of a clue will reveal it.

The problem is a whole class of users who accept not just what is given to them but what they see in front of them without question.

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Commonwealth Bank: Buggy software made us miss money laundering

Cpt Blue Bear

"Remind me who the criminals are again here please?"

If you really need someone to, it was the bank.

They committed an offense 53,500 times and took a fee to do it each time. As Norman Fletcher said, if you can't do the time don't do the crime.

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Flight Centre leaks fliers' passport details to 'potential suppliers'

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: I, too, smell Human Error

I find the best card to play is to refer then to legal for a short sharp dressing down.

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Oz government wants its own definition of what 'backdoor' means

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: Politicians don't understand what they're dealing with...

"While many politicians are motivated, quite genuinely, by fears of terrorism and criminality online"

Perhaps many are, but in this case our government are motivated by fear of their misdeeds being revealed. If this is about anything more than theatre to distract from their recent catalogue of fail, its about catching whistle blowers not criminals.

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TfL, WTH is my bus? London looks up from its mobile

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: There, there children. Sorry your pacifier is b0rken.

"Timetables might work in your dinky donk toy town; in the big city, timetables are just a guideline."

I recall them working well in Tokyo so I guess it should work in your dinky donk toy town of London :-)

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Cpt Blue Bear

Re: WTF is my bus?

"So the app has little benefit."

Au contraire, it has tremendous benefit. As the first poster here said, its a pacifier. It gives people something to do while their bus is not arriving. This results in happier customers and fewer complaints without actually improving the service.

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NHS WannaCrypt postmortem: Outbreak blamed on lack of accountability

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: "Windows XP used on 4.7% of systems"

It does in the eys of a whole bunch of muppets.

The vendor charges extra for servers so they must be special and not at all just a $25 Promise RAID card and an extra drive (HP or might have been Dell) or just extra RAM (Apple). Its magic server dust. It must be true 'cause the salesman told me...

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BOFH: Putting the commitment into committee

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: Agency Query

Of course they don't wonder. They get a commission each time.

The first rule of business management seems to be not to question where the money comes from as long as it keeps coming.

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Cpt Blue Bear

A site I used to visit regularly had a door to nowhere.

It was put in by previous tennant some time in the 1970s (by the fittings and paint) to communicate with the building behind. By 2005 that building had been demolished, then the developer ran out of money and the site stood empty. We unlocked it to take a look and it was quite a spectacular drop of 5 floors onto builder's rubble. After than people were regularly told that the solution to their problem was "through the green door".

All it needed was an auto-close and a lime pit at the bottom to make it perfect.

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Cpt Blue Bear

Re: It's all true...

"I considered it, but settled for dropping hints to a nit-picky colleague as to where the errors were. That way I wasn't the petty one..."

Nicely played, sir.

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Fighter pilot shot down laptops with a flick of his copper-plated wrist

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: Oh the tales of a service engineer...

"One evening with Ninja like stealth we put a strip of black insulation tape over the laser unit. I managed to perfectly take out one column of his spreadsheet."

That's doing it the hard way (ooo! nurse!). Open drum cover, rub finger on side of nose (supplied) and then on drum surface.

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Cpt Blue Bear

The Middle of Nowhere is not in Cumbria

Its in Australia. I've been there. See that bit on the map? Bit to the west... yeah 'bout there. They say that if you climb a tree you see the edge of the world. I couldn't find a tree.

Cumbria, on the other hand, is walking distance to Civilisation(tm) and, as I remember anyway, the countryside is sort of soft and cuddly.

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Cpt Blue Bear

Re: Everyone missed the classic one

I really do wonder if the change in women's (and men's lets be fair) fashions hasn't decreased the number of industrial accidents.

I heard a similar but much more scary story over coffee (bad) in the canteen of a large petroleum company. The teller had been working maintenance on fuel bowsers at a site in North Queensland. While working on a pump he'd watched a woman pull up in company 4x4. The vehicle is big and she isn't so she has to slide across the seat and jump down. As she brings the nozzle into close proximity with the vehicle she earths through the body (he swore he actually saw the spark) and suddenly she's holding a low pressure flame thrower. He hit the Big Red Button and someone pulled her clear but the Landcruiser was a write off.

What scared him most was this happened at a petroleum handling facility where everyone was trained and certified so there were half a dozen men with (the right) fire extinguishers and a clue about how to use them on hand in seconds. Think about what happens at a suburban servo...

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Cpt Blue Bear

Re: I am sure there are many similar stories

I reckon the latter is still one of the commonest causes of bad data rates.

Several times I've been to see customers complaining about dodgy ADSLs. Query router diagnostics - low sync rate, high attenuation, low S/N. Ask if it gets worse when its windy or raining. Get positive response. Wander outside and follow line to pole finding loose or broken cables clearly visible from the ground. Call phone company to report line fault. Leave. Bill.

The best one was a tree branch that had grown into the line pushing it two feet from where it should have hung. [SING]When the wind blows the cable will rock and down will come sync rate etc[/SING]

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Cpt Blue Bear

Re: Random PC reboots

Saw a couple of beauties during my Site Service Monkey days.

The first was at a printers (from memory) located on an industrial park. PCs would spontaneously reboot at what the client reported as random intervals. It was more frequent on hot days than cool so it was assumed to be heat related - a reasonable assumption as the building was not air conditioned. Cue replacing heat sinks / fans / power supplies and motherboards to no avail. The cause turned out to be the compressor at the cold store located immediately behind causing a massive power spike whenever it cycled and enough EMF to make all the (CRT) monitor shimmy. I have no idea if the problem was ever really solved as I moved on soon after.

The second was caused by an espresso machine on the same circuit as the "faulty" PC. I arrive on site, reception girl asks would I like a coffee. I reply in the affirmative and sit down to examine the patient, which appears to be working as expected. I hear whoosh, splirt, etc from the next room and the PC reboots as the coffee machine browns out that loop...

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Google to give 6 months' warning for 2018 Chrome adblockalypse – report

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: This is world where...

"Over 1 in 5 who claim to use an ad blocker incorrectly cited antivirus software or ad-blockers that don't exist, the IAB finds. Consequently, genuine ad-blocking levels might be lower than reported."

Or self selecting survey respondents are self selecting and tell you what they think you want to hear or complete nonsense. Doubly so if you pay them for it.

Given the number of people I know who install adblockers as part of a system setup for others, I suspect that a large number of users don't even know they are using one.

The whole situation is muddy.

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Life is... pushing all the right buttons on the wrong remote control

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: A lovely tale...

"10 years ago, after a spat with VirginMedia, I got rid of my television service. I thought it would be a temporary separation, but it has matured into a fully fledged divorce."

I had a similar but more extreme experience. Fifteen years ago my TV died. I put it out on the curb for the hard refuse boyos and, for a number of reasons, never got around to replacing it. The extra time I suddenly had to do stuff was a revelation. If I really wanted to watch something, I'd have to actually go to somewhere else to do it which made it more like going to cinema but with comfy seats, people I like and beer.

Then The GF moved in bringing her TV and I'm back on the junk. Grrr.

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Sysadmin finds insecure printer, remotely prints 'Fix Me!' notice

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: back in the 'code red' infection days

Ah those were the days!

It was either Code Red or Nimda or somesuch that had me driving from site to site as Site Service Minion for a managed services company. Park car, sign in, remove worm, patch, sign out, drive away - rinse and repeat for the working day. I billed 15 hours in one working day. A colleague managed 25 billable hours but worked a 13 hour day and drive 400km to do it.

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Would you believe it? The Museum of Failure contains quite a few pieces of technology

Cpt Blue Bear

Intuitive

Intuitive my arse.

Intuitive is a marketing buzzword used to make lowest common denominator buyers think they will be able to use the expensive toy they are being pitched. Second only to "innovation".

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Cpt Blue Bear

Re: Harley perfume

" 350LC

Isn't that a lawnmower?"

No. Its an accident looking for a place to happen from the days before tyre, frame and suspension technology caught up with engine output. For the full catastrophe you wanted an RD500LC.

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Cpt Blue Bear

In defence of Lancia Betas (sort of)

You should have owned one in decent climate or a country where the powers that be don't try to destroy your car in some half-arsed road safety measure that everyone else gave up before WW2. Then you could have discovered the dodgy electrics, cheap plastic fittings, saggy seats and terrible build quality.

They went like buggery and looked cool, mind. I enjoyed mine no end. Probably my third favourite car I've owned.

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Australia scraps temporary visas for skilled workers

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: Facebook?

"Why is a government making announcements such as this via a closed platform"

It makes a change from their habit of announcing stuff on Sky News which has about the same audience of an amateur football match and you have to pay to receive. It is however owned by Rupert Murdoch so I presume they can be relied upon not to ask awkward questions or look to closely at the details.

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Online ad scam launders legions of pirates and pervs into 'legit' surfing

Cpt Blue Bear

"Yes. I really would rather make just one ad and send it to exactly the right people."

[In a Ford Prefect voice] So, you don't want to waste your time showing me ads that aren't relevant to me and I don't want to waste my time viewing ads that aren't relevant to me. How about we just agree that no ads are relevant to me? You could, in theory, stop showing me any ads and save us all time and effort. Then you could stop poring your analytics and come down the pub. Agreed?

Ta for the snake oil - I'll rub it on my dicky knee.

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eBay threatens to block Australians from using offshore sellers

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: The real reason most people here in Oz buy overseas...

"When I replaced our dead TV last year, I purchased it from the mainland for ~$300 and it was delivered to my door. Purchasing the identical item from JB HiFi in Hobart was $50 more and still needed to be carted an additional 30 odd miles to my home."

Don't feel picked on 'cause you live in Tassie, mate. I live in Adelaide. Last year I needed new tyres for a Landcruiser. Best price for what I wanted locally was $2800 for five if I picked them up and fitted them myself. I got them online from a mob in western Sydney for just under $2500 including freight and five steel rims ('cause apparently its safer to ship tyres mounted...)

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Cpt Blue Bear

Ebay haven't insisted on Paypal exclusively for at least a couple of years. I don't think they ever did in Australia.

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Cpt Blue Bear

Re: Seems Resonable.

The gist is that the so called "logistical" solution costs a lot to set up and run. The ATO or customs or someone estimates that its around $60 an item to assess and collect the tax / duty and store and forward the goods. GST here is 10% so, being a pragmatic bunch downunder, we don't bother if its going to cost more than it pays. The original estimate was $100 per item because no one had any idea what it would really cost so they took a guess. Hence the $1000 limit.

In the UK there is a lower threshold because VAT is 20% and they charge an administrative fee to recover it. My understanding is this piecemeal VAT recovery is a net loss maker.

A massive expansion of the public sector to administer this is anathema to our conservative ruling party (confusingly named the Liberal Party but actually Tories). They would prefer to off load the collection on someone else. Hence trying to get foreign vendors to do it.

Basically, what we have here is theory and ideology bumping up against reality.

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Cpt Blue Bear

Re: The real reason most people here in Oz buy overseas...

I'll add:

3. Multiple local distributors each taking a cut.

Back in the Bad Old Days (tm) an item might be imported by an importer who sold it to a national distributor who sold it to a local distributor who sold to a wholesaler who broke down the palette and sold piecemeal to retailers who couldn't meet the local distributor's minimum order.

Before I get accused of stretching the truth, I am not making this up. This was the actual supply chain for an item. At each stage nark up was about 30%.

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Cpt Blue Bear

This is precisely what they do now.

The problem is it costs money to do.

More than the revenue collected. Hence the $1000 threshold.

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Cpt Blue Bear

Well yes, but that would mean abandoning the only donors they have left. Instead we get "Look! Over there: a three headed monkey!"

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Cpt Blue Bear

Because the banks have no idea of the purpose of the transfer, perhaps?

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Boss swore by 'For Dummies' book about an OS his org didn't run

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: That boss again...

"it would create random debits and credits to customer accounts if the amount paid wasn't an exact amount equalling the bill"

Either we worked at the same place in the mid-1990s or this was not uncommon. It looked random but was caused by a rounding error causing some badly declared variable to "clock" around. I can't claim credit for finding the problem - that was way above my ability - but I did get the job of telling the CFO that his P&Ls were wrong and had been for years.

The post script came some months later when they were declared insolvent. It seems they had been using the phantom receivables as collateral at the bank...

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Cpt Blue Bear

"As somebody who's done this before at several companies and government related jobs, this here is the worst thing you can possibly do. The things I could tell you about how my week gets off track by Monday afternoon.."

No no no no. You are managing it wrong.

Imagine you have a deadline looming for an impossible task, project that will never fly or you just don't want to be the one to get blamed. What you need is A Good Reason (tm).

Fist you lay the ground work by being useful to higher ups. C-level is perfect but department managers can serve. You are looking for someone sufficiently above your pay grade that you can plausibly say "I felt I couldn't say no" and sufficiently remote from your real work that they have no idea what you should be doing.

A former workmate had this game down to a fine art.

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As you stare at the dead British Airways website, remember the hundreds of tech staff it laid off

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: I share your concern

"Scum class in BA is vile and angers me"

I haven't flown BA in 20 years. Back then it was surly service, threadbare seats and microwave dinners for inflight catering. In retrospect it was emblematic of England at the time. I see that they have gone downhill from there...

These days I quite enjoy flying for work. That's mostly because I won't do it unless they send me business class. On most airlines you get wider seats and plenty of leg room plus a complimentary drink and can blag a second if you ask nicely. I've actually had a Singapore steward cover me with a blanket and tuck me in after falling asleep like they do in the ads.

What, you won't spring for a seat up the front of the plane? Then its clearly not important that I go.

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Customer satisfaction is our highest priority… OK, maybe second-highest… or third...

Cpt Blue Bear

“I’d like you to make me a mocha-caramel-hazelnut frappe, with raspberry syrup, whipped cream, and a pinch of nutmeg. Then I’d like you to shove it up your ass and get me a cup of coffee.”

Enough of this talking! Coffee, woman! My consumption grows ever worse and Colleridges drugs are wearing off.

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Windows 10 Creators Update: Clearing the mines with livestock (that's you by the way)

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: Wish I could use it

"- Sleep/resume will randomly turn into a complete shutdown/wake - I have a dozen windows open, close the lid, and maybe 20% of the time when I open it again the machine will boot from cold, all windows (and unsaved work) gone. I am getting VERY familiar with the Excel/Word "document recovery" pane."

Windows sleep / resume seems very sensitive to hardware.

Try setting the close lid option to hibernate instead.

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Federal Police toss nbn™ under a bus over leaks to Senator

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: Better for democracy

The usual reason is that investigators ended up at the door of someone who is politically untouchable. It doesn't breed corruption with time, it is fucking corruption.

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Google promises policy review after several big brands pull YouTube ads

Cpt Blue Bear

Distraction from the real issue

This is not really a Google problem. The ad agencies (like Havas) jumped at an easy, cheap placement method. They didn't do anything until it became a minor scandal and you can bet it was their customers that prompted the pulling of ads not the agency. Either they didn't understand what they were buying on behalf of their customers or they were blinded by all those shiny dollar signs.

If I were a Havas customer I'd be asking some very pointed questions starting with "exactly what the fuck are we paying you fuckers for?"

Now look what you've done: I'm defending Google. I need to go take a shower...

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Counter-terror cops arrest pair for sending poo-smeared toilet paper to public figures

Cpt Blue Bear

Brown carpeting!

In Oz we call this brown carpeting. Its traditionally done anonymously using a jiffy bag rather than a letter.

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New York to draft in 250 IT contractors because state staff 'lack talent'

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: Pay?

"This isn't the entire story, a lot of government IT jobs are filled by people that know someone that know someone. It's nepotism to the extreme - "My nephew knows computers! Yeah, he fixed my screen saver, hire him and make him an admin or something". So you get arrogant novices without a disciplined approach to problem solving that give up quickly."

Things must be different where ever you are. I have never come across this in the government sector. It is shockingly common in among non-profits and unremarkable among companies that have recently made the jump to a grown up IT dept.

My experience is you find two types in the public sector: the young and green and the old and time serving.

The former are generally well trained, knowledgeable and enthusiastic to make things work. They are usually working for a fraction of what they would get in industry, either because they lack the work history to get a look in at a corporate HR dept, or because they think its a secure job (ho ho ho). Once the enthusiasm is beaten out of them by a combination of rigid systems, brainless management, budget cutting and people telling them that all public servants are stupic, overpaid and lazy they either bail out in favour of a private sector job or become job-hopping greasy pole climbers in order to escape into management.

The latter are often quite good on one topic - usually some obsolete system - but pretty useless if you need someone who can deal with anything later than NT4. They can be surly and unhelpful, which I think is a pretty normal reaction if you started what looked like a promising career 20 years ago only to have it tank due to factors well outside your control. Add a bunch of young guns who come and go talking about things you no longer even understand and the knowledge that at least some of those you started with managed to move on and up, but you are trapped until whatever system you know is retired and then you'll just have to hide in the toilets and hope no one notices until retirement day.

Basically, the same surly resentment of their own failure at life that in the general population led to Brexit, Trump and our own beloved One Nation party (known affectionately as One Notion around here). But I digress...

Where was I? Oh yeah, my experience of public sector IT, and the public service at the state level, is of well meaning and competent people trying to get things done in spite of their work environment. At the federal level morale and conditions have savaged to the point in some departments that the norm is now what the army used to call dumb insolence.

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Windows 10 Anniversary Update crushed exploits without need of patches

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: Windows is the lowest form of Desktop Experience available

"I just did this on Windows 10 with Edge.

The first link you get is for Mozilla, not an advert."

I just tried this too and the aus.easydownload.net ad is first. Do you have an ad blocker installed by any chance? Or did you mistake the ad for the Mozilla link like so many others? Please check the URL (green line).

Where I don't get the ad first is Firefox with uBlock enabled - turn off uBlock and the ad appears at the top.

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Cpt Blue Bear

Re: Windows is the lowest form of Desktop Experience available

"Hmm, I call bull"

I can vouch for this one being true 'cause it nearly caught The Girlfriend's Aunt last week.

Tried it just now and if I use Firefox (with Ublock and a bunch of other get-out-of-my-face type plugins) I get the same result as you. But if I use IE11 then my first result is "Mozilla Firefox 2017 Free - DownIoad Mozilla Firefox Free!" with "Mozilla - Official Site" second. WTF? Tried it with Chrome (with ABP) and I get the dodgey ad at the top as well.

But I don't see an ad for Edge on any of them. Curious.

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Why Theresa May’s hard Brexit might be softer than you think

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: Hard and soft brexit.

If you'd peppered that liberally with obscenities it could have been pure Malcolm Tucker. Regardless, by half way through the first paragraph I was reading it with a Scottish accent...

"..I'm likely to use an awful lot of - what we would call - violent sexual imagery..."

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Sayonara North America: Insurance guy got your back when Office 365 doesn't?

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: Three words:

Man, do you have an overly simple view of business risk management!

The reality is that the compensation clause is there to make the buyer feel what you describe.

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IBM pays up after 'clearly failing' DDoS protection for Australia's #censusfail

Cpt Blue Bear

"It's arrogance"

No, its fear.

I've been involved in writing a few postmortem disaster reports (on a much smaller scale and fuck load less public, mind) and this looks like a classic case where the underlying problem is fear. The people making the decisions are terrified because they know they can't do the job. They make bad decisions because they want to believe someone else will dig them out of their hole. They bluster and repeat the official line when questioned while knowing full well is BS because that's all they can do. They hide the truth, dissemble and lie outright. And they panic.

Every one of your bullet points can be explained by an underlying culture of fear.

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Support chap's Sonic Screwdriver fixes PC as user fumes in disbelief

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: Gadget influenced by waving something in front of it?

Mother !@#$er!

My uncle is complaining of this exact problem with his Galaxy something. It started yesterday. Wanna guess what he got for Christmas? Go on - take a wild shot in the dark...

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NBN is essential, says Essential poll, but not Turnbull's NBN

Cpt Blue Bear

Re: Telstra doesnt own the copper

"Maybe you should be asking the question why would we spending 11 billion dollars on copper lines that havent been maintained and are in need of replacing? Most people dont know this deal went through."

The short answer is to get the rights-of-way. We didn't buy just the contents, we also bought the ducts. Which also turned out to be unmaintained and in need of replacing. And occasionally full of asbestos.

In Telstra's defence (Christ! I'm going to have to take a shower after writing this) the lines weren't maintained because they were going to be replaced by shiny new fibre. Why spend money on something that's going to be replaced in five years?

Most people are completely unaware they bought the network. Doubly so that much of what we bought was already paid for by their parents back when Telsta was Telecom Aust and government owned.

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IBM throws ISP under a bus for Australia's #Censusfail

Cpt Blue Bear

"The ddos was too small to even register on global attack map yet overwhelmed their configuration."

That's because it didn't happen.

The system failed under load and the work experience lad running it panicked. IBM have admitted as much in their submission (well OK, the panic bit rather than who was in charge). The DDOS story came out because that's what they thought they were dealing with at the time and now they can't take it back without looking like muppets. This is a classic management face-saving situation.

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