* Posts by Zombieman

33 posts • joined 25 Oct 2011

Britain beats back Argies over Falklands online land grab


Couple of interesting points...

Most ccTLDs follow the ISO 3166 standard for 2 alphabetic character codes - there are exceptions, such as UK for example, assigned as an "exceptional reservation" within that ISO spec.

FK was assigned in the 1974 edition of the ISO 3166 standard - ref https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_3166-1_alpha-2

Seems to me all ICANN did was follow the ISO spec.

ZX81 BEATEN at last as dev claims smallest Chess code crown


Re: ZX81 - remember it well

(oops, human memory error, a literal "3" cost 7 bytes in BASIC not 8, in case anyone says anything)


ZX81 - remember it well

Seeing a (partial) screenshot of 1K chess, and (still) remembering how low memory ZX81s used memory for the screen, that's a minimum of 124 bytes for the screen. Add in the 125 bytes of system variables thats a quarter of the machine's 1K gone before you look at code.

I seem to remember reading that the 1K ZX81 chess program didn't have an internal chess board, it actually used the screen display AS the storage for the board. Also remember reading there was no memory to store a starting position, so you had to reload from tape for every game, the initial position being on screen and loading alongside the program.

And I also remember "no advanced rules", so no en passant and no castling - can't remember if that was implemented in the "16K" version.

ZX81 "tokenised" BASIC let you do some wonderful memory saving things - for "speed" ZX BASIC stored floating point within code, so "3" cost you 8 bytes IIRC, but "INT PI" cost you 2 bytes. Any experienced ZX programmer will probably still remember the small integer recipes such as NOT PI for 0, SGN PI for 1 for example.

DAMN YOU! Microsoft blasts Google over zero-day blabgasm


Schedules, bloody schedules

Whilst Google and Microsoft are doing the PR equivalent of slapping each other in the face with a wet fish, people with exploits keep coming and have an almost total disregard of anyone's schedules, 90 days, calendar dates, day of week/month, whatever. They pay attention "a bit" hence the phrase "patch Tuesday, exploit Wednesday" that has come about.

IMHO if a patch is available, let it free as soon as you've tested it suitably (more than recent months please Microsoft *grin*) - any worthy sys admin has tools in place to control patching (hint for MS: that WSUS thing you have) so if they want to deploy monthly they can just let the updates build up until they are ready but still have the opportunity to respond to "zero day" problems.

BOFH: SOOO... You want to sell us some antivirus software?


Two main categories... ah, third category... ah good point, fourth category... but apart from that, what have the Romans ever done for us...

REVEALED: Google's proposed indie music-killing contract terms

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Nice pic used to feature/highlight the story

Full marks to whoever at El Reg chose a still from Emma Blackery's song about Google+ for this post in the "top story" area...

Microsoft poised to take Web server crown from Apache


To quote the report "However, Apache continues to dominate in terms of active sites, i.e. sites which are actively managed by humans rather than being automatically generated for use in activities such as link farming and domain squatting."

Yeah, if Microsoft do shout about their wins you can bet they miss out the bit about being the preferred choice for link farming and domain squatting.

DOCX disaster recovery: How I rescued my wife from XM-HELL


I haven't kept up with OOXML (is it still called that?) so I've don't know if Microsoft have managed to release a version that complies with the format properly yet - I know their own software wasn't compliant when Microsoft were "fast tracking" the standard (by some accounts it shouldn't have been).

And a Microsoft only world isn't always safe, or even compatible with itself... Yellow or green from the default palette? Yeah the "new" format can't always distinguish (yes I've seen colours change just closing and opening files)... Open file, modify file, save file, looks successful, see no errors, close file, look on disk, is my file there? Not always...

From the article, seems the "fault recovery" of both office suites might not be as friendly/helpful as they perhaps could - having said that, fault recovery is HARD to write and design the "best" way to handle errors.

Open wide, 'Friends': Facebook wants to give you a 'Privacy checkup'


"Previously, for most people, it was set to Public"

So when I joined the default was I believe "Friends of Friends"... Then Facebook decided unilaterally to change loads of things to being Public (Oi! No!!)... Think this was around the time there were discussions about partnering with search engines...

Soon after that the new (current) privacy model came in "because the options were confusing" IIRC along with easily changing visibility on a post by post basis... Not sure if that was even possible before...

Of course I thought the original privacy options actually were clear enough, though every so often you felt you needed to check every couple of weeks in case FB changed your settings for you...

Ho hum...

The amazing .uk domain: Less .co and loads more whalesong


Having always "known" that .uk was one of the first "country code" top level domains it is interesting actually looking up the history (look up ".gb" on Wikipedia for some "fun" reading). This highlights the way the Internet at least historically used to work, whatever happened "first" tended to be unshakable even if something "more right" came along later, in this case standardising on using an ISO list of two-letter country codes.

Personally I'm in awe of whoever chose names like "duckula" and "horde" within the UK government usage of the .gb domain.

P.S. Guernsey and Jersey and ISO codes and thus do have their own ccTLDs (.gg and .je) as does the Isle of Man (.im)

6TB - big? Pah! Seagate plans to put out 8TB and 10TB MONSTERS


Re: What about 2.5" drives

3.5" became enterprise standard when manufacturers stopped building 5.25" drives in quantity. ;) Quantum did briefly (mid to late 90s) bring out the "Bigfoot" range of drives going back to 5.25" standard (one of the earliest drives to exceed 1 GB).

eBay boss tells workers to ignore 'noisy' Icahn's PayPal sale campaign


Carl Icahn is starting to remind me of a one man version of Statler and Waldorf from The Muppet Show - looking at their Wikipedia page and pictures of Carl on the web I'd say he's even starting to resemble Statler.

Microsoft closing in on Apache's web server crown


That's the thing with statistics - slice them up and you can prove anything you like, even multiple contrary proofs simultaneously - Anyone remember "lies, damn lies and statistics"?

Personally whenever I see the figures for "active sites" (i.e. trying to filter out "parked" domains/sites) I imagine someone at Apache blowing a raspberry and shouting "we still have over half the web, suckers!"

YES, new Office for OS X is COMING, says German Microsoft bod


Microsoft Mac development

About the "personnel reshuffling within Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit" description. Makes me imagine people shuffling along to some other company.

At one point Microsoft did write some really good software on the Mac, including their Outlook Express 5 which was one of the best email clients I'd used on any platform (personally didn't even remotely like Apple's until OS X 10.4, the first time I decided it was usable)

Today's "Outlook" for Mac seems to have strong ties to Entourage, which started off fairly disastrously (in my experiences) and still has some of the original bugs, particularly connectivity. It even misses out certain features Microsoft implemented in Outlook 2003 on Windows (e.g. polls/voting, which personally I don't think should have been part of Outlook but there you go).

As for interoperability, some of the blame can I think laid at the docx/xlsx etc formats. I remember seeing a document pass from Mac to PC (or vice versa, can't remember) and on the receiving machine where background colours had been chosen (from the default palette no less) both the yellow and green turned into a single colour, and on saving stayed that way even when sent back.

I don't even want to start thinking about the UI on Mac Office 2011, a bizarre mix of menu bars (forced by the OS), toolbars and "ribbon" elements (and I personally hate ribbon UIs).

OpenOffice.org, NeoOffice, LibreOffice, take your pick and add Apple's Mail and Calendar and I'd say you don't need anything from Redmond's suite.

NO, ELEPHANTS, it's we DOLPHINS who NEVER FORGET our best pals


So this dolphin swims up to a group and say "Hey everyone! Anything interesting going on? By the way I'm Dave." With that one of the other dolphins excitedly say "Hey! Dave! Is that really you this time? Wow I haven't seen you since you were fin length to a turtle! Well you would NOT believe what those strange looking monkeys have been doing recently..."

EA Origin vuln puts players at risk


Yep... Origin includes a web browser inside their UI... And unless they've changed something since I last looked it tends to go to pages with too much content for the box provided (at least on my system) and has no scroll bars... Made it rather awkward getting DLC for Mass Effect 3 like the extended cut when the confirm/purchase/whatever button is off the bottom (forcing scrolls by drag highlighting text worked)... So with that (and on average needing three attempts to start ME3 every time) I "knew" it was buggy... Didn't know it was THAT buggy... Luckily I'm not affected having totally uninstalled Origin after finishing ME3 and was personally glad to be rid of it...

The Sinofsky Letters: Defenestrated Windows overlord corresponds


Smiling and shuddering...

Reading through that article has really brought a smile to my face, as has the comment stream...

Until that was it got to those CONFIG.SYS lines mentioning HIMEM et al... (Yep, load driver that allowed that 640 to 1024 kilobyte range, tell DOS to use it, make remainder memory available as XMS, load CD driver high, all to give as much memory to DOS software as possible)

Then my head re-filled with memories of when I was writing "real mode" DOS software needing to load up about 2 Meg of data at once... Some sort of DOS call to get HIMEM to give you the memory address of a routine you had to call directly to copy memory back and forth? Something about the DI register? (maybe, maybe not, 'twas a long time ago). And OMG just remembered MOUSE.COM didn't support the "Hi Color" (16 bit) graphics modes and I had to write my own mouse sprite code...

Having an UP button again is such a nice thing though... Only takes one instance of being in a folder with a really long name and having the breadcrumb thing only allowing the current folder or the root to be selected (or whatever it does) for the lack of an UP button look like a worse idea than ME and Vista combined... Shame the rest of the Win 8 UI comes with it... Totally IMHO....

Sites can slurp browser history right out of Firefox 16


Slow the frel down guys... ?

It is said that one reason for these lightning fast browser iterations is to assist the web developers, implementing new features as soon as possible. As a not exactly ex web developer it's making my head spin and in some cases breaking code faster than I can fix it...

This thinking might be naive but can we just slow it down a bit, put in some decent testing that is more than just passing a test suite, and just maybe there is more chance at catching these things before they hit a mainstream release?

Maybe I should get a few shipments of Cadbury's Caramel over to the Mozilla and for that matter Google folks... (ooh I might be showing my age referencing that advert)

Sophos antivirus classifies its own update kit as malware


I think this might be the first time I've heard of an anti-virus/security package classifying itself as malware, though having said that no doubt it has happened before. The more typical rogue AV headline is when operating system files are involved... Bit unfortunate that it targeted the update mechanism... I have this vision of a developer standing like a scolded kid, head down, tracing a partial-circle with the toe of one foot say "uhhm... I did something silly..."

Apache man disables Internet Explorer 10 privacy setting


I'm not 100% sure but I believe for a brief period of time the DRAFT of the standard did state that in the absence of clear user preference it the setting should be off (I think I read something to that effect on W3C's site a while ago). However as far as I can see this sentiment does not appear in the current version of the draft, nor the allegedly previous version, in fact it goes out of its way to say the spec only defines HOW the user's preference is communicated and not what any default should be.

P.S. I notice this change to Apache's default configuration file has been explicitly reverted on GitHub by the way.

Google to axe IE 8 support, cuts off Windows XP lifeline


The article fails to mention it is Google *Apps* that is dropping IE 8, not Google as a whole... Also as for cutting off XP lifeline... Well just compare the XP vs Win7 usage share against the usage share of various IE versions that various commenters have posted then it's fairly clear that many of the XP holdouts are not using IE anyway. ;)

Sony preps PS3 with old-school design


Two thoughts...

Top loading mechanism = Sony making sure there is plenty of ventilation because you need to get to the top of the unit???

Also... with another new design for this console... the question needs to be asked... what features are being dropped with this revision? Seems every other hardware revision has dropped something...

Facebook phone app attempts to seize ALL YOUR MAIL

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Side effect?

Who wants to bet this is a side effect of their recent "land grab" of changing everyone's published contact details within their own site.

I'm hoping it is, and then hoping that the engineers "looking into" this issue decide that the only solution is a "roll back" of the contact details changes....

Oh look, a flying pig...

Sysadmins: Your best tale of woe wins a PRIZE


AppleTalk / Thin Ethernet

In the days before the joys of having a structured cabling network installation we had two, parallel, networks. A Thin Ethernet system with various Sun and Burroughs machines along with a couple of PCs, and an AppleTalk network for the Macintosh systems. A few very very special machines were on both networks...

BOTH of these employed long segments of cable which plug into "something" and that something plugs into the computer. If the computer was not at the end of the chain, you had two long segments of cables connecting to either the Ethernet "T" connector, or the AppleTalk "dongle"...

Barely a week passed without one of the IT staff needing to walk around and follow the cables around the rather "organically" laid out cable runs to find out where one, either or sometimes both networks had been "segmented" by someone having, for example, taken a machine home to work, or moved to another office and taken said "T" connector or "dongle" with them because they "thought it was a vital part of the computer"...


The day the M.D. acted as a doorman...

A long time ago (this was before XP) I was running maybe five minutes late one day (co-incidences are so unfair), and as I approached the building, from inside the building the Managing Director opened the door eager and worryingly pleased to let me in...

Expecting something about being late I approached. nervously, saying good morning, and he was strangely not sounding bothered about me being late. What he WAS bothered about was that no-one in the office was able to login to their desktops as he calmly explained the situation saying he hoped I would be able to help.

The other local techie could login to our (then single) server, not his machine, and had found rebooting the server didn't help... I poked around for five minutes and saw a DHCP configuration change from about 2/3 days before, reverted it, and as if by magic everyone could login!

An offsite techie had changed something which SHOULDN'T have caused an issue, but somehow did. He was confused because of the time delay, thinking any changes should've been immediate if there had been a problem. Every DHCP request was failing (never worked out why), so no machines were getting IPs for the network (having lost the rights to the IPs from the Monday), so couldn't communicate with the server to validate the login details.

Took me WEEKS before I stopped nervously looking for the M.D. ready and waiting to open the door for me each morning.

O2, Be Broadband axe Pirate Bay access


Negative side effect of blocking

At the moment, all these blocking are sounding like they're at consumer level ISPs?

What are these consumers going to do? My guess, if they're not already doing so, is using their work computers, if the business network hasn't performed a "soft block" on the domain name (and those can be EASILY worked around).

So what then? Are the court orders going to be issued against the corporate level ISPs providing leased line or other such Internet access?

Here's the problem though... Businesses with ANY intellectual property do actually need to be access these services so they can investigate and send cease-and-desist letters else the courts can potentially say that the business are not actively defending their IP.

Pushing this further and further underground is just getting closer to the situation of having a "dark Internet" where the piracy lives without being visible to anyone using the "open Internet" as it is...

Don't make the illegal activities invisible!

Advertisers slam Microsoft over 'Do not track' decision


Good for them

DNT on by default? Good!!

The "tracking" of people across web sites is an EXPLOIT of an unintended side-effect of the technology designed for web sites THAT THE USERS VISIT to "maintain state" between pages... Examples of maintaining state include logging in, remember me systems, shopping carts, site preferences...

Advertisers can still advertise without tracking, sites hosting adverts won't suddenly not be able to have adverts. Their complaining is like some script kiddie complaining that Microsoft fixed a security flaw that let them take over a remote system, or a WOW cheater complaining that Blizzard shut down an exploit that gave them an unfair advantage.

It is precisely this sort of thing that has prompted the EU to investigate privacy, and you end up getting these silly laws that mean even "1st party" cookies are now forbidden unless the user explicitly says yes, and if the user says no to a prompt, guess what, you can't remember that choice, so the user is asked again, and again. Web sites are forced to show little banners, like the register.co.uk rather ironically covering up the privacy policy link (oops).

Bitch and whine all you like advertisers, I'm with Microsoft on this one!

Strong ARM: The Acorn Archimedes is 25


So many things making me feel old this year...

If I remember correctly I went to one of the first big shows where the Archimedes was being shown... May have even been the first big show... The visual stuff being shown off at the time was, bearing in mind I'd only really seen 8-bit systems (e.g. ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64) and early IBM PCs, was mindblowing... The various BBC Micro's with Music 500 and Music 5000 systems were blowing me away with the sounds... I came away with the foldout Archimedes brochure (so nice to see the "paving slab" image again) and the separate single page price list, and *SO* wanted one... Never got one...

The 25 year anniversary doesn't make me feel quite as old as the 30 year ZX Spectrum anniversary earlier this year, but look at the difference in technology that "just" 5 years made... In comparison it's feel like we've been standing still for ages now and it's just the software moving on... IMHO... :)

Hit upgrade on Symantec Backup Exec, and unleash Hell


The warning signs were there...

The bulk of the UI and management really had not changed that much all the way from my first experiences as Seagate Backup Exec, through to Veritas Backup Exec, and right up to Symantec's 12.5 version... Little bits and pieces changed but with each new implementation of the UI, the basic layout was retained...

The 2010 version suddenly gained a new "dashboard" like view, whilst keeping the old views around. In hindsight (wonderful thing) this was a hint of changes to come.

During the 2012 installation/upgrade, the messages on screen (if you don't just go Next Next Next Next) do clearly talk about a new user experience and a new backup paradigm, AND though I didn't try it, it did offer a "rollback" option as well.

Yes the UI is radically different, and yes it is odd having distinct backup jobs for each server, and yes sometimes the migration sometimes does "odd" things if you have backup jobs that have been endlessly tweaked or have "bizarre" configurations (might have explained some long standing oddness), in my case ending up with one backup job called "Incremental Incremental Full", but in the long term I think I will grow to like the UI... Right now I'm still adjusting, having performed my upgrade yesterday and got my first test backup running about the time this article was posted.

Beware the warnings! They are there for your benefit!

Windows XP update fails in infinite .NET patch loop


Windows Update vs XP vs .NET - not news

My own personal experiences of .NET via Windows Update on XP have always been fairly hideous any time more than one patch at a time is concerned - it is almost like WU deliberately patches out of order and then trips up on itself, so not seeing anything new except perhaps the KB numbers... "the numbers have been changed to protect the guilty, I mean innocent" :)

This is why on the office network I ended up keeping 8 different .NET installers so that on a new machine I could set XP up, disable updates, run each installer in a specific order and only then turn on updates.

Thankfully Win 7 WU seems much more robust...

Ofcom's Local TV dream: No smut, an hour of news, endless ads


Local?! Hah!

Local TV??? I won't get excited because it probably won't be too long before Ofcom play into the hands of some money grabbing nationwide group by relaxing regulations and next thing you know what was a network of local stations will be a network of nationwide "repeaters".... If they follow their own example of what they allowed to happen to "local radio" anyway...

Google dumps + from Boolean search tool



+Google +"missing the point" +again ???

BOFH: Hordes unleashed... by a RAM upgrade


I'm with the BOFH at the end

A Corrie company mailing list!!?? Literally *cough* *splutter* when I read that... Oh and that Outlook bit is so true, and *SO* annoying..."this email address isn't working" *thwack* yes it is, just Outlook THINKS it isn't because it isn't trying properly...

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