* Posts by Alterhase

18 posts • joined 4 Feb 2013

Twilight of the sundials: Archaic timepiece dying out and millennials are to blame, reckons boffin


What happened to being able to tell time by looking at the sun?

It is my understanding that part of the education of a gentleman was the ability to tell the time to within fifteen minutes by looking at the sun. Then the pocket watch and later the wrist watch came along and the need disappeared.

Ahh, progress!

Icon because how else would you know it was time to head to the pub?

Only plebs use Office 2019 over Office 365, says Microsoft's weird new ad campaign


Re: Office 365

I never got comfortable with the "ribbon" and so migrated to LibreOffice at work and OpenOffice at home. They do everything I need. My only problem is that LibreOffice needs to be restarted every other day, perhaps because I am hitting it pretty hard.

Users fail to squeak through basic computer skills test. Well, it was the '90s


Re: Mouser mat

Ahhh -- Left-handed mice!

I once did support work for a company where one of the vice-presidents was left-handed and used a left-handed mouse. Whenever I came to help him with some computer issue, I took me a long time because I was always clicking the wrong mouse button....


Re: Not so long ago, Mainframe-to-XP migration

Many years ago, when teaching an "Introduction to Computers" class to adults, I recommended Solitaire as a way to practice mouse skills....


Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

Touch pads drove me crazy until I learned how ot switch them off. On one laptop, I even had a "app" which turned off the touch pad for a couple of seconds each time you hit a key on the keyboard.

IBM insists it's not deliberately axing older staff. Internal secret docs state otherwise...


Job for Life

I was a thirty-year IBM employee back in the old days of the Watsons et al. Like the old HP, the old IBM did feel responsible to the employees.

I remember one time when the project I was working on was canceled, my manager came to me and said, "I don't have any work for you right now, but stick around and I want you on my team for an interesting project that is coming up." So for a couple of months, I reported for work daily and read technical books and magazines -- the hardest part was to keep from bothering my friends (colleagues) who did have real work to do....

Another time, during a time of tight budgets, the headcount in the department I was managing was cut below the minimum I felt was necessary to do the job, so I went to my manager and said "Get me out of here!". He helped me get one of the best jobs that I had in IBM. (Interestingly, three years later the department that I had left had twice the minimum headcount that I said I could run it with.)

What happens when a Royal Navy warship sees a NATO task force headed straight for it? A crash course in Morse


Morse Code and ELF

The discussion of Morse code reminded me of my first real tech job after I got my BSEE and while I was working on my MS in Computer Science. I was working on a project to understand the propagation of Extreme Low Frequency (ELF) radio waves which were in the range of 15-30 KHz. Since ELF signals propagated around the world and penetrated water a few feet, they were used to communicate with slightly submerged submarines trailing a mile-long antenna. Due the low carrier frequency the signal bandwidth was very small and was used for low-speed Morse communications. Several of my colleagues on the project knew Morse and could transcribe it, but since it was all encoded strings of numbers, I never bothered to learn it.

A few reasons why cops haven't immediately shot down London Gatwick airport drone menace


Re: Flak

Ahhh -- I seem to remember a plane going down in the Hudson River in New York because of a bird strike. I would assume that a couple of pounds of meat and feathers would generally do less damage than a couple of pounds of metal and plastic.

Have a gander at this: Amazon agrees not to act as Silicon Valley's foie gras dealer


Re: Kinder Eggs

Ahh, kinder eggs! That's the only kind that will be legal in California when Proposition 12, which was passed last month, goes into effect. It requires that all egg-laying hens have at least 1 square foot of usable floor space by the end of 2019 and be cage-free with accommodations like scratching posts, nests and perches by the end of 2021.

Oh, you mean "Kinder", the German word for "children". I didn't know we harvested eggs from them....

College PRIMOS prankster wreaks havoc with sysadmin manuals


Re: PDP-8, FOCAL and the 1130

// face down, 9 edge first!

Wow, that brings back memories.....

2-bit punks' weak 40-bit crypto didn't help Tesla keyless fobs one bit


Re: break and enter

Yes, that's the way to do it.... but you should know how to drive.


Automated payment machines do NOT work the same all over the world – as I found out


Re: Could have been worse

> "Oggetto inaspettato nell'area di insaccamento."

Ahhh -- This is why this Silicon Valley techie avoids the automated checkout lines at his local supermarket!

Normally three of the six automated checkout stands are out of service at any given time and the working one that I choose to use decides it does not like me and says "Please wait for attendant" in the middle of the checkout process, leaving me to wait for a human being to finish checking out other customers in the human-attended lines before coming over to reset the machine.

To slow the rise of the machines, I choose the human-attended checkout lines whenever I have more that one item to purchase...

Potato, potato. Toma6to, I'm going to kill you... How a typo can turn an AI translator against us


Re: Hmmm

I former colleague of mine said that, because she was dislexic,it did not make much difference to her when reading if the letters within a word were out of sequence....

Not OK Google: Massive outage turns smart home kit utterly dumb


Space Wars

I am surprised that no-one has commented about the American Commander-in-Chief's idea for a new branch of the military to wage war in space.

Far beyond Google locking people out of their homes, disrupting the Internet from space by whatever means would quickly take us back to the 18th century.....

German IKEA trip fracas assembles over trolley right of way


Re: "Open another queue"

>>> Perhaps Aldi are trying to cut yet more corners by encouraging shoppers to step forward and man more checkouts themselves.

Aldi is behind the times -- many Safeway grocery stores in our area have "self-checkouts" where you get to scan the items yourself and then wait several minutes for a store clerk to come over to reset the terminal when something goes wrong, as happens in about half the cases....

Ahh, progess!

Fixing a printer ended with a dozen fire engines in the car park


Re: IBM 3800 maxed out at 12,423 lines per minute, not 20,000

As someone old enough to have actually worked on the development team for the IBM 3800 printer, I can confirm that the original model was rated at 12,000 lines per minute.

One my memories was that we used laundry bins to catch the output from early versions, before the burster-trimmer-stacker (BTS) was developed. The continuous paper would fly in an arc for several feet before landing in the basket.

Whoa, Gartner drops a truth bomb: Blockchain is overhyped and top IT bods don't want it


Re: You['re] all missing the point.

<i> it seems to grow exponentially in resource requirements and inversely in speed</i>

This seems to me the fundamental problem with blockchains. And if you are not going to catenate multiple transactions on a single blockchain, how does it differ from a conventional hash checksum?

First video inside thinking fish's brain captured by boffins


Reminds me of a dead salmon...

From http://boingboing.net/2012/10/02/what-a-dead-fish-can-teach-you.html

In 2009, a team led by neuroscientist Craig Bennett and psychologist Abigail Baird ran an fMRI experiment using the salmon as their subject. Not only did they really put a dead (and frozen) fish into an fMRI machine, later analysis of their data actually produced evidence of brain activity — as if the dead fish were thinking.

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