* Posts by FeRDNYC

66 posts • joined 8 Jun 2013


BOFH: State of a job, eh? Roll the Endless Requests for Further Information protocol


The System is real

The worst part of this New-Fangled World of Tomorrow we live in is that computers really can be imposed between users and the support staff ostensibly there to help them.

My cable company even introduced an automated "Stupid Luser Tricks" system on their phone-support line a few years back. Now if you call in to report that you can't access the Internet, instead of getting a tech at all, you get connected to a phonebot that (a) talks you through the steps of resetting your cable modem (in the laborious detail typical of interfaces designed for the lowest common denominator), and (b) actually checks that you're following along with every tedious step. So when it says "unplug your modem", your modem had damn well better power down, because if the system's able to reach it after you said it was unplugged, you're in for a whole world of "Hmmm, something doesn't seem right. Let's start over..." pain.

As much as this frustrates me personally (as a technically-minded customer), in theory it could be a good thing. A lot of support's time really is taken up solving "problems" that only require them saying, "Have you tried turning it off and on again?" Eliminating that tedium could mean that they're more available to focus on handling real issues. Or, it would, if the introduction of automated level 1 support didn't always coincide with a reduction in human support staff. So the few who remain are just as overworked, except now all of their time is spend handling only two types of issues: Real problems that can't be solved with a simple power cycle / reset, and new problems created by the automated idiot-support system.


Re: Missing item

Sorry! That's usually me. I'm of the opinion that necromancy is always better than starting a new issue over from scratch and having to cover the same ground over again (assuming the previous history is still relevant), but wow is there some disagreement on that point.

Python creator Guido van Rossum sys.exit()s as language overlord


Re: Re introducing ":="

Two-digit years wasn't so much about typing as it was about data storage, back in a time when saving two bytes per date seemed like real economy. If it was just about typing, they could've allowed operators to type a two-digit year, but stored it as 19xx, in which case Y2K would've been a snooze. (The same way UNIX has always stored dates as integers — seconds since the epoch — for efficiency, and therefore UNIX/Linux were largely immune to the Y2K bug, at least in terms of system code.)

Pascal did indeed use ':=' for assignment (and '=' for equality test), whereas C went with '=' and '=='. Which probably was about typing laziness regarding the shifted character.

(Or possibly internationalization — did the ':' character appear on all early keyboard layouts? Does it appear on all of them now, for that matter? Obviously it's already required if you want to write Python code, so it's not an issue using it for ':='.)


Re: Is this equivalent to the following, widely recognised as horrible in any C-like?

And, in fact, PEP 572 isn't JUST about list comprehensions. It adds in-expression assignment generally, a very common language pattern which Python previously lacked. So, while these two expressions are equivalent:

foreach my $x (@input_data) { # Perl

for x in input_data: # Python

other common in-loop assignments such as (again, Perl):

while (my $x = $parser->get_token()) {



had no direct syntactic Python equivalent. But with PEP 572, this can now be written in Python as:

while x := parser.get_token():


In-expression assignments like that are generally a common pattern. They can be abused, of course. But C is the king of "enough rope to hang yourself" so a feature being open to abuse isn't an argument against the feature. It's against abusing it.

(And I would argue that the list comprehension form does not count as abuse. There's a reason they went with := instead of =, and it was to avoid exactly the type of horrible C code you mentioned.)

Because while

if (a = f(b)) {

is absolutely horrible C due to its "hidden" assignment, if the syntax were

if (a := f(b)) {

that would be far less problematic, because it's clearly different from a == test for equality.


Re: Is this equivalent to the following, widely recognised as horrible in any C-like?

Soooooorta, but you're also inside a for loop (which is what a list comprehension is, an expression evaluated for every member of a given list), so there's also a sense in which it's a shorthand for (in Perl):

foreach my $x ( @input_data ) {

my $y = f($x);

push(@output_data, [$x, $y, $x/$y]) if ($y > 0);


Yes, the assignment is inside the if statement, but that's because you've already compressed the for loop into a one-line comprehension and there's really no way to locate it anywhere else. The point is to call f(x) only ONCE, assign it to y, and then output the tuple iff y > 0;


Re: Reinventing a more limited wheel

Nested list comprehensions are hard to comprehend

I'm impressed how you seemingly managed to say that without a trace of irony.


Re: This happened to Perl too...

...I don't want to find that joke baked from low-hanging fruit funny ("Hey, this guy is finding humor in the common perception that Perl syntax is hard to read, do they have a Nobel Prize for Humor yet?") ... ... ... but dammit, it IS funny.

There's More Than One Way To Earn An Upvote.


Re: Reinventing a more limited wheel

The new syntax is not only using fewer characters, it's far clearer about what's actually going on than your example. Yes, you have to wrap your brain around the := operator, but that's just syntax and syntax is trivial. But when you compare your version:

[(x, y, x/y) for x, y in ((x, f(x)) for x in input_data) if y > 0]

vs. the PEP 572 version:

results = [(x, y, x/y) for x in input_data if (y := f(x)) > 0]

The fact that there will be a result for every item in the input_data list and that y = f(x) in the output are both made far clearer and more obvious in the latter form.


Re: Futuristic progression of Programming Languages?

You forgot OSes, they suck too. And worse, you forgot fanbois, who suck in all kinds of spectacular ways.

Yes, well, the value of pointing out that all hardware, software, and OSes suck is to remind us to focus on an individual example's positives, rather than its negatives, because they all have negatives.

There are no redeeming positives to fanbois, though, so there's less value in noting that they all suck, even though they most certainly do. They suck not only individually but collectively, and they should be dismissed in the same manner: Begone, all ye fanbois!

BOFH: But I did log in to the portal, Dave


This is why you want to at least deal with local vendors

Cross-country murder is a lot harder, and in the US turns it into a Federal crime.

Back at the very tail end of the 20th Century, I had a home DSL line (I knooowwwww!) at my apartment in Boston, with service through an ISP located in California. They resold service from one company (AT&T), installed by a second (Covad), and so FlashCom's #ONEJOB was basically to just collect my monthly payments in return for doing exactly nothing. It should've been TWO jobs, the second being to keep my service active. And therein lies my mistake.

After a few months of relatively trouble-free access to the new-fangled Information Superhighway, some sort of physical calamity befell my line that took it out of service. It's ancient physical copper wiring in an old, old city, these things just happen. Unfortunately, though, getting a company clear across the country to service your telephone line is not the easiest thing. And, I couldn't call AT&T because they wanted nothing to do with me: I wasn't their customer, FlashCom was. So, I waited.

It eventually came to pass that a service tech had been dispatched, and determined that the line was dead. (Gee, thanks.) Furthermore, he determined that it was the last unused pair of copper wires in the trunk, there were no more available, and so they were very sorry, but there was nothing they could do about restoring my service. (Because that line only carried DSL, and no analog telephone service, it wasn't subject to the regulations that would've required them to sort out the problem, no matter what they had to do — even if it meant digging up the street and running an entirely new trunk to our building. This is why regulation is a good thing, folks.)

Now, mind you, it's taken the better part of five weeks to make this determination, with my line down the entire time. Then the other shoe dropped.

Turns out, FlashCom had been continuing to bill me for the entire five weeks that my line was down and I was not, in fact, receiving any of the "service" I was paying them for! Naturally, when I discovered this, I immediately stormed off to their website (yes, it is possible to "storm" to a virtual location, as I learned that day) to cancel my non-service. I mean, after all, they were a modern dot-com company, with a customer account portal and everything!

A customer account portal which promptly crashed every time I attempted to submit the cancellation form.

After trying three times, and now completely livid, I practically broke the buttons off my phone pounding their phone number in, to speak to their billing department in person. This involved subjecting myself to the same four-song hold music loop I had already become intimately familiar with, over the preceding five weeks, but this time I don't think I even heard it.

To make an already-long story slightly less long, the tale ends with me SCREAMING, completely unhinged at what sounded like a tiny 70-year-old woman in their billing department (because screw her, she knew the risks), after she suggested that I log in to their customer portal and cancel the account myself.

Seriously, I was so belligerent she had to hang up on me. And to her credit, when I called back a few minutes later, slightly less rabid, she did finally process my cancellation and release me from the hell that was FlashCom. Which promptly went out of business some time within the next two months.

BOFH: Guys? Guys? We need blockchain... can you install blockchain?


Re: The value of IoT- Everything is divisible by 0

It's been a squirrely problem since 1985, when the first IEEE 754 Standard for Floating-Point Arithmetic was released, as it was designed around the requirement that every operation have a well-defined result. (Prior to IEEE 754 invalid calculations, including dividing by zero, would simply result in a program crash and for the most part everyone was fine with that.)

Since the IEEE improved everyone's lives, to quote Wikipedia on divsion by zero:

The standard supports signed zero, as well as infinity and NaN (not a number). There are two zeroes: +0 (positive zero) and −0 (negative zero) and this removes any ambiguity when dividing. In IEEE 754 arithmetic, a ÷ +0 is positive infinity when a is positive, negative infinity when a is negative, and NaN when a = ±0. The infinity signs change when dividing by −0 instead.


Most calculators will either return an error or state that 1/0 is undefined; however, some TI and HP graphing calculators will evaluate (1/0)² to ∞.

Microsoft Math and Mathematica return ComplexInfinity for 1/0. Maple and SageMath return an error message for 1/0, and infinity for 1/0.0 (0.0 tells these systems to use floating point arithmetic instead of algebraic arithmetic).


Re: Sorry IT guys you aren't unique in this

Oh, trust me, nobody in IT believes they've invented the corporate fad. At plenty of companies, the management-style-du-jour roller coaster was fucking things up for the entire corporate drone population long before the endless revolving door of educational fads or IT trends swooped in to make knowledge workers' lives more "interesting". Plenty of that crap's been in heavy rotation since the 1980s, if not longer.

The thing that sets IT trends apart, though, is that they have this tendency to captivate non- IT people. Because IT is everywhere and every company makes use of IT, scenes like the one in this episode are all too common. Some management type catches wind of a new shiny that the company absolutely must be doing, despite not actually having the first clue what it even IS. I mean, that stuff's for the nerds to sort out, right?

You don't really get much of that, outside of IT. Management styles and trends mostly infect management, and while the workers are definitely the ones who suffer at least whatever nonsense they're enduring is being implemented at the right levels. And whatever educational initiative is in vogue this week, at least you know the people dabbling in it are educators, or involved in the educational system to some degree. You're not going to see the manager of a coffee shop stroll in some morning and announce that they're going to be implementing Mindfulness. Employees at the nearest big-box electronics store aren't likely to receive memos detailing the TV department's new Brain Gyms initiative.

In IT things like that happen all the time, even within companies that aren't remotely in the IT business. Here in the US recently, a beverage company decided (while in the death throes of failing as a beverage company) that they were going to radically reinvent the company to save it. They changed their name to something absurd involving (you guessed it) blockchain, and then promptly still folded because oddly enough a beverage company isn't well-positioned to make the transition into the exciting world of blockchain. (Plus, I wouldn't be surprised if the one person on staff with any sort of technical know-how resigned on the spot the moment they got wind of that idiot plan.)


Re: Published at 08:36

Pity us poor Americans — it's only 8:45am now on the east coast, and the other side of the country is still fast asleep.


Re: Unfortunately he hits the nail on the head again.

I'll never forget one particular CIO (because we loved TLAs at that company)


"TFW one particular CIO (because TLAs were AOK at that LLC)..."

FTFY. ...Shit!

BOFH: Give me a lever long enough and a fool, I mean a fulcrum and ....


Truly, many enjoyments were on-mirthed in the readification of Simon's maximally recental authoring.

BOFH: Turn your server rack hotspot to a server rack notspot


Re: Quiet beers?

I think it's me who's bitter, not my beers.


Re: Chekhov's PDU

Although, does it still count as an application of Checkov's if the characters actually discuss the gun and its firing? I thought his rule was all about implicit foreshadowing?


Re: new keyboard alert !

"I think Simon sees himself more as Lucifer Morningstar (like the TV series), bringing people their just deserts"

10 billion points* and a round of drinks for properly spelling it "deserts", though. Cheers!

* – (Cash equivalent value: €0.0005)


Re: When your vendor provides

So... Biblically, then?


Quiet beers?

Oh, quiet beers sound absolutely lovely. Mine are always so freakin' loud, and they just will NOT shut up! "You're a failure!" "You'll never amount to anything!" "You paid $100,000 for a degree you'll never use!" SHUT UP BEERS! I could get a boyfriend, if I wanted that kind of helpful input.

BOFH: Honourable misconduct


Re: half eaten chicken kebab!

Either that, or more practice at meat eating. ...Nah, let's go with the beer one. (More meat for me!)


But why?

I find myself left with one burning question: Why is the Bastard doing this?

He's going to some pretty great lengths to, ultimately, protect the PFY from himself. Which feels a bit out-of-character for someone whose primary motivation is usually personal gain — whether it be in terms of financial benefit, reduced workload, or even just TEH LULZ.

I can't get a read on the motivation here, though. It could be a further sign that he's getting soft in his middle age, and genuinely wants to help his employee (even if he'd never admit to that reason). Then again, perhaps the PFY has some leverage against Simon that would make preserving his job a typically selfish act. Or, I suppose it could simply be that it's a chance to fuck with the standard-issue cast of company stuffed suits, something a BOFH generally seems to view as its own reward.

BOFH: The trouble with, er, windows installs


Re: Over reliance on Windows...

As long as they open, period! Non-openable windows are the BOFH's greatest challenge. The sort of person who designs buildings with those is liable to suffer a catastrophic database normalization error in their own home.


I can see a new Facilities trend...

"It's a very nice office space, good parking, but does it have first order normal windows?"

BOFH: But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?


Re: Draw full of random keys

You were pedanting, and overlooked "could of"? (It's "could have", or the contracted form "could've".)

Tsk. How quickly can we get a sales guy in to talk about some pedant upgrades?


In the comments on a story about defenestration? C'mon, people. This so-called "Adam Payne" is a transparent alias!

Yours Cordially,

George Glass

BOFH: Come on, PFY, let's pick a Boss


Re: Filling a seat

Man, I hated having to hire, always tried to keep the clan happy so they wouldn't quit and force me into interview mode.

How did you draw the line between clan-appeasement, and keeping terrible people around just to avoid the interview process? That sounds like quite the tightrope act!


I wonder if Simon has stolen the PFY's boots

Has stolen Stephen's boots, right? Or David's. But I think "Stephen" sounds spottier.


Re: Explains a lot

Sounds to me like you're the Boss, wondering what the Director does! Don't sit in any chairs with kickable backs.

BOFH: Oh go on. Strap me to your Hell Desk, PFY


I have a computer cart in my spare room...

I say cart because as far as I'm concerned the thing's too narrow to be considered a desk, so it's a cart. Found its way to me free from someone who had no use for it. Now I have no use for it, but I do have the space so I hang on to it anyway.

It's single-person width, large primary surface, full-width (and full-depth, surprisingly) slide-out keyboard shelf fixed below, couple of shallower shelves mounted far above and below the main surface, and all of it fixed to these two vertical side pillars on wheels.

The pillars are there because the thing's height-adjustable, using these two knobs below the main surface, one on each pillar, that crank the desk upwards or downwards when you turn them both frontwards or backwards at the same time.

It's a nice idea, but the problem is that you can only adjust the height of the "desk" surface when there's no weight on the "desk" surface, and there can't really be anything on the shelf below the desk surface or you won't be able to get to the knobs. So, apparently they expected anyone using this cart as a "desk" to completely remove everything from it, whenever they wanted to adjust the height.

Life's too short for that sort of nonsense. So, now it sits, piled with spare-parts boxes, construction materials, and miscellaneous crap, making itself minimally useful to my life.


Re: Benedict?

I just automatically assumed the BOFH was referring to Benedict Arnold, yeah. (More than anything else, simply because there was no way Simon was going to just toss the PFY's name in there like that, so it had to have some other meaning. America's most famous turncoat was the closest logical fit.) A rare bone tossed to the BOFH's US following!

BOFH: That's right. Turn it off. Turn it on


Re: Thus is the great dilemma of IT support born

"Ars"? I don't even know where I am! (Hey, it's Friday. Morning! Early, here in the US.)

I meant El Reg, of course. And I apologize to all the limey gits who make this site go, for confusing them with the effete Condé Nast toadies who roam Ars' virtual office halls!


Thus is the great dilemma of IT support born

If you make changes without informing the users beforehand, good lord how they'll scream and wail and cry when the changes take them by surprise, wholly unprepared to encounter something in their lives that's slightly different from how it was yesterday. "How very could you?" they'll wail, "And just when I had gotten used to the old way [that I spend the past five months loudly complaining about]!"

But if you do notify them of changes being made, then... well, we saw here what happens, then. There's really no winning move, in this game. The only choice you get, is which way you'd prefer to lose.

P.S> Here's a ponderable, heading into the weekend:

Think Ars will ever add <blockquote> to the list of "basic HTML" supported by their ripped-from-the-1990s comment system? It'd be so nice to have properly-delimited indicators of quoted text, instead of having to play games with italics as most of us do. And if they don't ever add it, will I ever stop trying to use it every time I quote someone, just in case they've changed the system without telling us?


qq{Actually, I've literally just received an email from a user about a fix I made saying: "it's not made it any worse but not better"*. That pretty much sums them all up really doesn't it?

*(The user then goes on to say that the thing which was broken is now working, but apparently that doesn't count as 'better')}

Well, obviously. If it's just back to the way it was before, how is that better? You can't make something "better" simply by fixing it, there needs to be real improvement. Words have meanings, you know!

When the user's been so inconvenienced that they're forced to interact with support, you need to throw in a quick spritz of armadillo repellent or a peril-sensitive undercoating, something that adds real value! That's how you placate them. They just want to feel special. /s

BOFH: Putting the commitment into committee


Re: The real question here

I think mauve has the most RAM.



"You need a reminder alarm?

"I have a simple logic I follow:"

Ooh, a busy loop. That's smart, good way to ensure that cycles don't get eaten up by frivolous things which aren't on the TIGASA list!


First rule of TIGASA list...

"Wait, you didn't tell her about the TIGASA list did you? And more importantly, that the pattern on the curtains not quite matching the living room wallpaper is most definitely not on the list?"

Agreed. At the very top of my TIGASA list is "Making sure other people don't know which things that they care about are not on this list." It's part of the overall "peacekeeping/cowardice" theme that makes up the bulk of the first dozen or so items.

BOFH: Halon is not a rad new vape flavour


Re: CRTs

"there used to be an offset bias on the beam deflector so that the beam did not strike the phosphor at right angles, but at an angle that would aim the beam away from someone sitting directly in front of the monitor.

"Electrons from an electron gun in a CRT are relatively low energy, and can easily be stopped by the metalised inside coating of the glass, and the glass itself. And the energy was not high enough to generate X or gamma rays."

IKR? They really made it quite the hassle, modifying those things so that they were actually dangerous! Took bloody forever.

BOFH: This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back


A new BOFH is born!

You know, it's said that every time a server reboots, a sysadmin earns their LART.

Why do GUIs jump around like a demented terrier while starting up? Am I on my own?


The web is still the worst place for this

I get most irritated by it in the various Facebook interfaces I use (both desktop AND Android app, displaying an eerie synchronicity in their ability to annoy), where so much of the input system attempts to "automagically" provide assistance in ways that actually end up sabotaging you.

Search-result popups are the worst, since they all insist on being typeahead autocompleted, and they populate the list of matches in multiple passes. So you'll go to match an @-tag, or type the name of some entertainment property you're "Watching / Reading / Listening to / etc.", and when it (usually) appears in the first pass of matches, you'll reach to select that item... only to have it slide out from under your pointer or finger as a second pass brings additional matches that shift around the contents of the list.

It's absolutely maddening. Especially since it's the sort of thing you can accidentally do two or three times in quick succession, while you get progressively more frustrated with yourself for not being as ponderously slow and schizoid as their UI.

Ubuntu UNITY is GNOME-MORE: 'One Linux' dream of phone, slab, desktop UI axed


@oneguycoding - "Correct on all points, except for the point on gnome 3 usability in the early days. Gnome 3 ended up being the desktop that made all other desktops feel clunky IMO."

An opinion you're entitled to, but definitely not a universally-held one. I definitely heard some of that sort of response, quoted loudly and often by the Cult of William Jon McCann, but there were plenty of the rest of us who were completely frustrated with the changes, and the sudden loss of features we'd spent over a decade relying on. I even once sent Jasper St. Pierre an email, thanking him profusely for extensions.gnome.org, and for being one of the only people within the ranks of the Gnome developers who appeared interested in "making Gnome Shell feel less like punishment".

I'm definitely not a luddite, and I'm fine with new things when they work well. (I think PulseAudio is great, for instance. I know it's been a problem for some people, but I remember what a nightmare Linux audio had always been, and every time I move VLC's audio from my speakers to my bluetooth headphones, or start a song playing in my fileserver's music server with the audio exported over the network to my desktop, it feels like living in the future. I've also had no real qualms with systemd, only my own teething troubles and needing to relearn some things, but I could and did. Plus, the direction they're heading with it, where there'll be an instance to manage user sessions, is exciting. $HOME/.config/autostart/ can't die fast enough for my taste.)

Early Gnome Shell broke a lot of things without offering anything in the way of alternative solutions, and appeared to do so glibly and without remorse. That was what really upset a lot of people. And it made us vindictive and petty, and we remain so to this day. You should've seen how viciously I mocked them when the Gnome 3.18 release notes included this item for Nautilus: "Context menus can now be activated on a touch screen using press and hold." They redesigned the entire interface around touch, with giant controls, minimal chrome, and no freakin' tooltips, but it took them 9 releases to figure out long-press menus?


Re: Mir -> Wayland then?

My understanding is that Wayland wasn't "designed NOT to work over a network", but simply that Wayland was designed to handle local display only. All manner of remoting capabilities can be provided, if necessary, by an external component. Which doesn't currently exist and which nobody appears to be working on. (Other than VNC and the other loosely-coupled solutions wich already exist for remote display.)

I agree it's an annoyance, simply because when running Wayland and I'm ssh'd in to my filesever, I can't type "sudo gparted" or "sudo meld" and have the application show up on my local screen, something I've gotten used to doing while running Xorg because the X11 proxying Just Works™.

I'm not entirely sure that particular annoyance is a big enough complaint about Wayland to make it a bad thing, and in fact I'm quite sure it's a much smaller problem than a lot of the legacy features I had to unlearn when they were stolen by Gnome3/Shell or newer Nautilus versions. Then again, I'm also still running Xorg on my main systems because I use (older) Nvidia cards with the proprietary drivers, so it's not an issue I've had to face yet.

BOFH: Defenestration, a solution to Solutions To Problems We Don't Have


Re: BOFH is playing the long game

Jimmy James was my favorite "Newsradio" character. I love Stephen Root.


He's getting soft in his middle age, what with this thinking people's lives have value. He clearly seems to believe that James isn't too far gone to be turned to the Light Side of the Duct Tape, but putting in the effort to do so is definitely unlike him. Those reassurances about the drop out the window being only two stories were similarly out of character.

BOFH: Elf of Safety? Orc of Admin. Pleased to meet you


Re: Prestige of an unflushed turd?

On the ISS they call them "escapees" and they have to chase them down in zero-g. Everything about space is AWESOME, even defecation!


I hear they're doing amazing things with retinoids and androgen blockers...

How many years can the PFY remain the PFY, before it's time to consider the possibility that his acne condition may require more aggressive medical intervention?

BOFH: The case of the suspicious red icon


Worstest thing about 2bs...

The absolute most frustrating thing about 2bs, though, is that they CREATE the 1bs. Their desperate need to seem like they know what they're talking about makes them paranoia patient zeros around innocent, impressionable 1as.

I can't count the number of times I've seen a n00b 1a turn up, and meekly bring up some symptom they've been having:

"Hey, my computer's been running kind of slow..." / "Whenever I try to launch $APPLICATION, the window disappears right away." / "My computer won't play the videos on $SITE..."

Doesn't matter, whatever it is, if there's a 2b within earshot they'll immediately "jump in" to flaunt their superior knowledge.

"You've got a virus."

"REALLY?" (All wide-eyed and trusting.)

"Oh, definitely. Guaranteed."

I used to try to talk the poor 1a down from the ledge and keep them from becoming 1bs, by explaining that there are several potential causes for their problem, a virus being only one possibility (and not particularly my go-to first assumption)... but there's really no point. Messy reality can't compete with decisive, uncompromising answers, even if they're wrong.

Don't go chasing waterfalls, please stick... Hang on. They're back


Re: Bah!

Whereas "Code Monkey like Fritos. Code Monkey like Tab & Mountain Dew. Code Monkey very simple man, big warm fuzzy secret heart. Code Monkey like you." –Jonathan Coulton

...And Real Programmers, of course, "wrote in machine code. Not FORTRAN. Not RATFOR. Not, even, assembly language. Machine Code. Raw, unadorned, inscrutable hexadecimal numbers. Directly."

You can always rely on the Ancient Ones to cock things up


Re: Tech can bite you in unusual ways

>> "The driver must have been new to the job, ..."

> From my experience - no. Just a forklift operator. A pack of forklift drivers can do more damage than a squad of military demolition experts.

See Also: Backhoe operators, the bane of network engineers the world over. Nothing can send a backbone provider's day spiraling into Tums®-dependent hell faster than the phrases "backhoe" and "fibre cut" being employed in close proximity.


Well, see, there's your problem...

It is of course well known that careless talk costs lives, but the full scale of the problem is not always appreciated.

For instance, at the very moment that Alistair said "Please ensure the child element is linked to it’s parent," a freak wormhole opened up in the fabric of the space-time continuum and carried his words far far back in time across almost infinite reaches of space to a distant Galaxy where strange and warlike beings were poised on the brink of frightful interstellar battle.

The two opposing leaders were meeting for the last time.

A dreadful silence fell across the conference table as the commander of the Vl'hurgs, resplendent in his black jewelled battle shorts, gazed levelly at the G'Gugvuntt leader squatting opposite him in a cloud of green sweet-smelling steam, and, with a million sleek and horribly beweaponed star cruisers poised to unleash electric death at his single word of command, challenged the vile creature to take back what it had said about his mother.

The creature stirred in his sickly broiling vapour, and at that very moment the words please ensure the child element is linked to it’s parent drifted across the conference table.

Unfortunately, in the Vl'hurg tongue this was the most dreadful insult imaginable, and there was nothing for it but to wage terrible war for centuries.

Eventually of course, after their Galaxy had been decimated over a few thousand years, it was realized that the whole thing had been a ghastly mistake, and so the two opposing battle fleets settled their few remaining differences in order to launch a joint attack on our own Galaxy - now positively identified as the source of the offending remark.

For thousands more years the mighty ships tore across the empty wastes of space and finally dived screaming on to the first planet they came across - which happened to be the Earth - where due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet was accidentally swallowed by a small dog.

(With apologies to the great Douglas Adams)


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