* Posts by GlenP

282 posts • joined 25 Apr 2012

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Ooh, my machine is SO much faster than yours... Oh, wait, that might be a bit of a problem...

GlenP Silver badge

So a lot of models had a "turbo button"

The "turbo" button was, of course, exactly the opposite, it was a brake! Could never convince users of that though.

Are you sure your disc drive has stopped rotating, or are you just ignoring the messages?

GlenP Silver badge

Re: del *.* confirmation

Working with both Apricot (remember them?) and IBM compatibles was confusing as the former didn't reserve A: and B: as FD drives, so typically the main HD was A:.

I shall admit to occasionally starting to format the HD on customer's machines! Fortunately I'd always notice quite quickly and kept a copy of Norton DiskDoctor handy for Undelete.

GlenP Silver badge

Re: I can believe it!

Just to add, 30 years later the users still don't read the messages on the screen!

GlenP Silver badge

I can believe it!

With one system we stopped using Y to continue as the users would never actually read the messages, sometimes resulting in data loss.

We started using a random character generator instead, with second character confirmations for more "dangerous" tasks, so, for example:

"Do you wish to erase all data? Press L to continue"

"Do you really wish to erase all data? Press T to confirm"

It worked.

Glen

Begone, Demon Internet: Vodafone to shutter old-school pioneer ISP

GlenP Silver badge

Also My First...

As with many above they were also my first ISP proper, having previously been on Prestel*. As I was living at Parents' at the time I did most of my browsing late at night to avoid tying up the phone line (and hoped the "ding" from the phone when connecting or disconnecting would go unnoticed).

I moved over to Zetnet for a while as they were cheaper then Freeserve came out and made more financial sense for the relatively limited use as I wasn't at home very often.

*To email a friend in the pre-Internet days I would dial in to work, initiate a PSS connection to JANET (Joint Academic Network) then onto the Northumbrian Universities network to access a MicroVAX in their department. Login to that and send an email!

If I could turn back time, I'd tell you to keep that old Radarange at home

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Pesky microwaves

A friend had a microwave internet link that would fail twice a day, consistently but slightly later each day. The link passed across the bay she lived near and would fail at high tide.

GlenP Silver badge

Re: NTP

You're assuming there was an external network connection, and it still wouldn't have cured the problem.

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

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Like leaving documents on top of the bin

Back in my first, Civil Service, job any document in or on the bin that hadn't been torn through would be returned to your desk. Sensible policy (although it didn't seem to be followed by more senior people from some news reports!)

Error pop-up? Don't worry, let's just get this migration done... BTW it's my day off tomorrow

GlenP Silver badge

Forget professors and lecturers - if you get on the good side of secretaries, security, storesmen and technicians (including syshacks) you can get absolutely anything done and in an amazingly short time.

Being on the right side of a technician obtained us the superuser account for a Unix box to which (for no apparent reason) we only had access during limited hours. The box was standalone in a small lab and only we were using it so it was incredibly frustrating to be kicked out of our opsys project* work for a few hours in the middle of the day. From superuser a quick su would get us into our group accounts and we could carry on working.

*I wonder how many undergrads these days are expected to write a multi-tasking operating system?

50 years ago: NASA blasts off the first humans to experience a lunar close encounter

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Remeber those heady days of the Apollo missions well

I can't remember the Apollo 8 mission (I was 4 at the time) but I remember the lunar landing, we were actually allowed to watch TV (B&W of course) before school.

Ding dong merrily on high. In Berkeley, the bots are singeing: Self-driving college cooler droid goes up in flames

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Theft

Bloody Yanks going about stealing other people’s IP. Mind you a certain brand of British shoe polish started it

Don't blame the Brits, it was the Aussies that started Kiwi polish.

LG's beer-making bot singlehandedly sucks all fun, boffinry from home brewing

GlenP Silver badge

Unless the pricing comes in significantly cheaper than I would pay for a decent beer in bottles I really can't see the point.

I have made my own beer (results variable) and cider* (from both concentrate and apples), it's time consuming and really not worth it most of the time.

*One cider brew wasn't so much uncontrolled strength as close to a controlled explosion! 8.5% alcohol and so dry you had to have another pint to cure the dry mouth, well that was my excuse.

Support whizz 'fixes' screeching laptop with a single click... by closing 'malware-y' browser tab

GlenP Silver badge

Re: LOUD NOISES!!!

Yep, used to often diagnose those over the phone.

User: My computer* is beeping all the time.

Me: Remove the file that's resting on the keyboard.

User: How did you know that?

Me: Years of experience!

*Or terminal, I do go back that far!

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Foodie Friday

I acquired a decent laptop in a similar way. The user had managed to load it with so much malware he just gave up and bought a new one.

Admittedly it wasn't the easiest wipe and reinstall I've ever done (it took a while to get the thing to boot of CD) but a free £1,000+ worth of laptop and extras for a few hours work seemed a reasonable return.

Microsoft sysadmin hired for fake NetWare skills keeps job despite twitchy trigger finger

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Memories ...

Paper documentation is good, and I often still prefer it. But Dec used to take it just a tad too far in my opinion.

In my first job one of my responsibilities was to update the DEC manuals every month*. One bookcase of VAX (which were referred to occasionally) and another with PDP manuals for a system that was never turned on.

*They were ring binders and packs of updates were sent out. I quickly developed the technique of always tearing the old versions out so they couldn't get mixed up with the revised ones. I then had to tear every one of the old ones through before I could bin it as otherwise the cleaners would return it to the desk (Civil Service rules).

Where to implant my employee microchip? I have the ideal location

GlenP Silver badge

he found he could silently slip in and out unnoticed by pushing his unsophisticated old ID card through a gap between the Yale lock and the door frame

I worked in an office where it was generally quicker to open the front door with a credit card rather than the key. The Yale lock was only used at lunchtimes when the front office wasn't always manned (overnight there was a deadbolt) but still not very secure.

Bright spark dev irons out light interference

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Blu Tack

I recently acquired a ZX81 and expansion pack. Haven't tried it though so no need of the Blu Tack yet.

Junior dev decides to clear space for brewing boss, doesn't know what 'LDF' is, sooo...

GlenP Silver badge
Happy

Coincidentally...

I'm just about to log on to our SQL server as the data drive is a bit full. Those LDF files do take up a lot of space...

My hoard of obsolete hardware might be useful… one day

GlenP Silver badge

Re: True story...

I can believe it.

A lot of years back I managed to sell a stack of obsolete AS/400 kit that we no longer needed to our maintenance provider for a reasonable sum. It was all unobtainable new and they had customers still using it.

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Power adaptors are always useful

I keep any 12v and 5v adapters anyway (and need a 16vAC one so will have to hunt through the boxes) as they come in useful for the model railways, LED lighting, powering RPis, etc.

UK.gov to roll out voter ID trials in 2019 local elections

GlenP Silver badge

So...

Not everyone has a form of acceptable photo ID, I have family who don't drive and have never travelled abroad.

The best way to screw the competition? Do what they can't, in a fraction of the time

GlenP Silver badge

Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

I remember 10Base2, including making up the cables (wonder if I've still got the crimp tool anywhere?)

One of my employers had installed, at great cost, 10Base2 networking using make-before-break plug in cables, so in theory you could connect and disconnect individual machines without killing the whole network segment. The cables alone were eye-wateringly expensive, even more so in one of the buildings where they'd gone for the shielded version due to "noise" from the workshop. The downside was that it was very difficult to keep track of total cable length so I ended up buying a full blown network tester, wish I'd managed to retain it.

Just about as I was leaving they recabled everything with 10BaseT instead, probably at further vast expense.

Should a robo-car run over a kid or a grandad? Healthy or ill person? Let's get millions of folks to decide for AI...

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Important 'cause...

Exactly my opinion having been there (and you can leave out the asterisks, I got as far as Oh F <crash>).

The reality, I believe, is that in most cases either there is insufficient time to make a decision that will materially affect the outcome or the vehicle will be out of control anyway.

Want to roll like one of the biggest minds in physics? Prof Stephen Hawking's wheelchair is up for auction

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Chariot of a gifted mind

My first thought was why not donate the chair to someone who needs it, but...

It is an old model, highly customised to the owner and probably, after several years use, knackered (to use a technical term!) From family experience wheelchairs do not last indefinitely.

Better to sell it as a curiosity and use the money raised.

BT, beware: Cityfibre reveals plan to shovel £2.5bn under Britain's rural streets

GlenP Silver badge

Will Soon Have It...

If I decide the increased cost and risk* is worthwhile. GigaClear have just been digging up the street to install the FTTP cabling, funded mainly by you and me (via Westminster and Europe).

I am in a rural area (fields immediately behind the house, etc.) but we already have FTTC which, being reasonably close to the box, runs at around 78 Meg (if I plug the fast laptop directly into the router). Is it worth another £15 a month (by the time I've subscribed to a VOIP provider as well, c**p mobile coverage) to up that to 300?

*By risk I mean that with only the one provider if they fail, which has happened, I'll be left with either hoping someone else takes over the infrastructure or reverting to the FTTC connection which will take time.

Cops called after pair enter Canadian home and give it a good clean

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Mistakes Happen

It turned out that the builders had different plot numbers to the actual house numbers (WTF?),

Not all that unusual. Where I live they extended an existing road and added a new cul-de-sac as well.

Plot 1 became 23 xxxxx Road, Plot 3 became 1 yyyyy Close. There was certainly potential for confusion as initially the post code databases only new the plot numbers.

Happy 60th birthday, video games. Thank William Higinbotham for your misspent evenings

GlenP Silver badge

If we move away from graphics the first "game" I can remember playing was the "guess the animal"* one that seemed to be a mainstay of demonstrations at the time. First played it on a primary school visit to the local college, so around 1974/75, from a terminal with an acoustic coupled modem (not sure where the mainframe was situated). The Science Museum had the same "game" running on a terminal well into the early 80s.

Glen

*For anyone too young to remember the computer would ask you to think of an animal and then ask a series of questions to guess the answer. If it guessed wrongly it would ask you for an additional question to distinguish it's guess from your answer, early machine learning?

Scanning an Exchange server for a virus that spreads via email? What could go wrong?

GlenP Silver badge

PC Anywhere and the like have been around since the mid 1980s. I was certainly using it (via modems) in around 1988.

Take my advice: The only safe ID is a fake ID

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Aliases are fun

One site even accepted 5th Nov 1605 as my DOB....

A friend had persistent problems with contacting TalkTalk, he hadn't joined them voluntarily, they'd taken over another provider and his details had been transferred. He always had to remember that the answer to the birthdate question was 01/01/1900 as the previous company hadn't recorded DoB.

Powerful forces, bodily fluids – it's all in a day's work

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Just the Usual...

That's reminded me of the user who managed to kill a deskphone by squirting so much cleaning spray on it drowned!

We educated her that you spray onto the cloth not the item.

GlenP Silver badge

Just the Usual...

The only contaminants I can recall are the usual beverages (Coke, Tango, coffee, etc.) and stationery.

Sugary drinks were always the worst, in the days when keyboards cost a lot (£100+ sometimes) we'd end up dismantling them and scrubbing the boards under the tap. They usually survived to work again.

Many years ago when the first plain paper fax machines came out we had an FD who insisted we reused paper in it to save money. Which was all very well until someone put a piece of paper with still wet Typex on the top of the stack the "wrong" way up. The £100 or so for a new toner/drum kit after I'd tried every trick in the book to revive the damaged one would have bought a lot of paper. Reusing label sheets could have a similar effect when a label peeled of onto the drum but 1,1,1 Trich would usually get things clean again.

The current employers had bought two very expensive sheet feed HP scanners. One of these wasn't feeding properly which may have had something to do with the paper clips and staples that had been ground through the mechanism. It didn't survive the experience!

Where can I hide this mic? I know, shove it down my urethra

GlenP Silver badge

Not necessarily an error (although they seem to be out of stock):

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Texet-512KB-USB-Flash-Drive/dp/B004GUU5BE

Rookie almost wipes customer's entire inventory – unbeknownst to sysadmin

GlenP Silver badge

Re: And then billed 3 extra hours?

I seem to recall the clock speed on the Commodore PET could be increased by the simple use of a POKE command to a register. This was only safe for certain CPUs though, if you had the "wrong" one the chip would fry itself.

Biggest con I reckon with PCs was the so called "turbo" button which was nothing of the sort. It was actually a slow-down button for app compatibility.

Why are sat-nav walking directions always so hopeless?

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Recently...

Trouble is after 30 years and a lot of redevelopment the pubs had changed!

Bridge Hotel is still there but the Cooperage has gone. Several others had either gone or changed.

GlenP Silver badge
Pint

Recently...

Walking round Newcastle, not having lived there for over 30 years, I resorted to TomTom to find somewhere. It reckoned it was 2 1/2 miles away, when in fact it was about 300 yards on foot. I gave up and went back to my ageing memory to find a couple of pubs. One was still there but the other closed down a few years ago,

Blueprint of modern construction can be found in a tech cluster... of 19th century England

GlenP Silver badge

Interesting...

I'm just back from a holiday visiting Ironbridge and Shrewsbury (and the Llangollen Railway). Hopefully when the museum is open it will provide an excuse to go back again!

I want to buy a coffee with an app – how hard can it be?

GlenP Silver badge

I Finally...

Delved into the world of app payments and tickets recently in Wales when I used the Trainline app for tickets from an unmanned (and no ticket machine) station. It worked fine, and I was vindicated as the conductor on the train was unable to take card payments, his machine only worked when it had a 4G signal (I did say I was in Wales!)

It was noticeable though that when I went to scan the barcode on the screen at the ticket barrier the "customer services" person seemed a bit surprised that it actually worked!

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

Had the reverse with EasyBus in North Wales the other week. No app, no contactless or card payments, cash only and he didn't have change for a £20 note.

I just dredged up enough change for the return ticket I wanted.

First Boeing 777 (aged 24) makes its last flight – to a museum

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Feeling old yet?

So am I! I was regularly crossing the "pond" when they came out, a huge improvement.

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

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Imprisonment would be fair, I think

When I moved in to my house, a new build which had been standing empty for about 6 months, there were several increasingly threatening letters from TV Licensing. They were also giving misinformation as to their rights, implying a right of access to the inside of the property that doesn't exist.

Microsoft: Like the Borg, we want to absorb all the world's biz computers

GlenP Silver badge

I can see the attraction of this. Business systems are slowly becoming less dependant on legacy compatibility (our ERP and Finance systems are both now browser based and becoming browser agnostic) so that reduces the issues significantly. Setting up computers is a pain in the proverbial, especially with remote sites where I have to get the equipment here, get it set up then ship it out again. Being able to just place an order and have it arrive at the user's desk would be handy, especially if I can then forget about it.

There are huge buts to this though. Microsoft's reputation for cancelling services is a major issue. I already rejected moving to Office 365 due to the amount of admin work needed, I suspect having to administer your estate is actually going to be a lot harder than they admit. I wonder about the application install and config, e.g. are they prepared to install Acrobat Reader (answer, almost certainly no, "use Edge").

Definitely not for me.

Sysadmin misses out on paycheck after student test runs amok

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Why...

As I read it he'd been running the program on other machines though.

GlenP Silver badge

Why...

did a student have access to the admin system in the first place?

Back in the day when I worked at the local college we'd certainly have noticed the excessive CPU times almost immediately as we reported on the heaviest users and applications weekly*.

*By far the biggest application for page swaps was a simple game which the students must have been playing endlessly. It had been written by one of the programmer/analysts who'd subsequently left but I found that by moving a subroutine from a separate function to inside the main code it would run without swapping. The system performance noticeably improved.

Solid password practice on Capital One's site? Don't bank on it

GlenP Silver badge

It seems to be common with banking but I had one the other week in an app where not only could you not cut and paste but you couldn't swap between the app and the password manager to check on the password as it would immediately wipe what you'd already entered. With any complexity to the password there's then little choice but to write it down.

A flash of inspiration sees techie get dirty to fix hospital's woes

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Noisy phone lines in building

When I started at a previous company as IS manager the DP Manager, who became my junior, had previously had a free hand at IT. We still had mainly dumb terminals on an AS/400 connected via Twinax (it ran from the concentrator then terminal to terminal with a terminator on the last connection). No real problem, except that every time a new terminal had been added he'd simply run two new cables from/to the nearest two terminals even if they were across the room. The end result was that the cable runs in the main office zigzagged across the floor.

It took about 20 minutes after hours to recable the entire office so that the runs went down each side. I've hated cable covers in offices ever since!

Abracadabra! Tales of unexpected sysadmagic and dabbling in dark arts

GlenP Silver badge
Happy

Re: Case sensor

The drives I talk about above are 40-80gb

What are these gb of which you speak?

I'm going back to the megabyte days!

First HD I had in my own PC was 20MB, stretchable to 32MB with an RLL Controller*.

*They packed more data on the outer edges of the disk where it spins faster, ACT had done something with floppy drives that appeared to play music as they actually varied the spin speed.

GlenP Silver badge

Everything starts working once I'm within 12 feet

Only 12 feet? I managed over 100 miles yesterday! Call from user at a remote plant, the moment I picked the phone up at my end her problem went away.

GlenP Silver badge

Re: Case sensor

I had an Apricot 486SX PC where the HD had probably got a coil gone in the motor so once in a while it wouldn't spin up. Easy enough, turn it on and just give the box a bit of a rotational tweak. Again, had to be timed right between power coming on and POST reporting no boot disk, but that wasn't too much of an issue.

Way back we'd had an HD that was really sticky. Can you run a disk without the top of the case? We could then but only long enough to retrieve the data having got it moving "by hand".

Tax the tech giants and ISPs until the bits squeak – Corbyn

GlenP Silver badge

Re: tax dodgers

It's only neutral if that value of the goods and services you are selling are worth the sames as what you are buying. A large profitable company will never be able to make the two match up so they will be paying VAT on their profits.

Assuming the company is VAT registered, not so. The company receives VAT income from its customers, it makes VAT payments to suppliers. The nett balance between those is either paid to or, occasionally, claimed from HMRC. To the business the overall impact is neutral.

Heads up: Fujitsu tips its hand to reveal exascale Arm supercomputer processor – the A64FX

GlenP Silver badge

Re: ARM dreams of being in a laptop?

Has no-one made a Raspberry Pi into a "laptop"?

Yes...

https://thepihut.com/products/pi-top-v2-raspberry-pi-laptop-green?variant=484475240465

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