* Posts by Steve Kerr

73 posts • joined 26 Jul 2013


Packet switching pickle prompts potential pecuniary problems

Steve Kerr

Talking of massive bills.

Back in my first job, used to have to download oil drilling data from drilling rigs in the North Sea (back in 1987)

Had a few ways of doing this, most involved setting up a comms link at the heady speeds of 4800, sometimes 9600 if managed to use the leased line link up to the goonhilly satellite base station.

So trying to get a comms link running with over an inmarsat link, in those days, had to pay for the satellite uplink and downlink costs, so everything was double cost - at £5.87 a minute times two plus vat

Spent 8 hours trying to get a comm link going with BP - we worked out that the bill was probably around 5 and a half grand minimum, and it never worked!

Fun times

Ah, this military GPS system looks shoddy but expensive. Shall we try to break it?

Steve Kerr

Miltary testing

I heard that military testing of equipment was based on "can it survive being used by a soldier to hammer in a tent peg?"

When you're cold, wet and just want to get into your tent, anything becomes a hammer

Blue Monday: Efforts to inspire teamwork with swears back-fires for n00b team manager

Steve Kerr

Managament (another name for donkeys beginning with A)

Worked for an investment bank once, had a manager that would take all the glory but none of the blame. Basically, anything that went well, he would crow from the rooftops that it was him that made it happen, anything that went wrong, he would throw to the wolves. I discovered this when I had a rather irate head of European settlements screaming obscenities at me down the phone.

There was a major issue and every day we had a meeting in a seniors manager room for updates, so round the room we would go where everyone would update on their tasks, he would always say "Not done it yet, getting right on it" - for 2 weeks. In the end in the middle of the meeting where he said it yet again, when it came to me I said, "Oh, I've done that". I was moved team the following week!

I got pushed a couple of years later (which I was happy about), I heard he got pushed at some point too.

Northern UK smart meter rollout is too slow, snarls MPs' committee

Steve Kerr

Re: If smart electricity meters can save electricity,

Oddly you mention smart water meters - I've just had one put in as part of a initial test scheme.

I had no say in this as technically speaking, the installation is outside of my property - had a letter through saying it was being done with no opt out.

I will need to query if that means I can now get up to the second water usage from my incumbent supplier (Thames Water)

Crash, bang, wallop: What a power-down. But what hit the kill switch?

Steve Kerr

And then there was silence

Used to work for a large investment bank.

Went from my floor to the dealer floor to help with an issue, when I got there, there were people standing up looking round like meerkats.

Went back to my floor, people still standing up

Turns out, the power was out in the computer room, 1000 cabinets worth of stuff.

There was an electrician in the computer room, who was moving an electrical point, he had followed the cabling under the floor in direct line to a pair of power sockets on a pillar.


That cable, went round the pillar to the other side and another cable came round the pillar to the socket. On the other side was an emergency power off button.

Back in history when the DC was built, all the EPO's were wired up with orange cable labelled EPO every 6 inches, the installers ran out of EPO cable so rather than getting more, they used what was there which was reels of power cable in grey. The poor electrician, couldn't get the final tile up as something was sitting on it so assumed that he had the correct cable.

Outcome, a day of carnage for an investment bank :)

The electrician was escorted from the premises never to return.

Techie finds himself telling caller there is no safe depth of water for operating computers

Steve Kerr

Basement canteens

Not quite water.

One place I worked at had a basement canteen on split levels.

All well and good until the fuel tanks for the diesel generators sprung a leak and flooded the lower part of the canteen in 3 feet of diesel.

There was a background smell of diesel for months and even after redecorating could still see the depth line the diesel made.

Struggling with GDPR compliance? Don't waste money on legal advice: Buy a shredder

Steve Kerr

Wouldn't it better to have

an Enron compliant shredder?

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

Steve Kerr


Many years ago, on a production VAX, I created a small loop with lexical functions to get error messages and their associated meaning. One vax running at 100% CPU making everything run rather badly.

I was working in Operations at the time, VMS support were a tad upset to understate it :)

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

Steve Kerr

Bye bye.....

Used to use demon when they first started out on dialup

then onto Broadband at 512K, managed to get it via their then owners when demon themselves didn't sell it. Rather surprised the chap from demon when there was issues with it (fault in the exchange), he told me it wasn't available to buy from demon yet, got it sorted.

Went all the way up to 8mb, started having flaky connections, argued with the now indian support who said I should wait rather than move as I asked for MAC code as exchange was being upgraded, then moved to Be and now on Entanet.

I still have my demon mail domain hosted on O36x now as I've been using it for so many years and it's not a lot to keep it.

Fun days at the beginning of the internet boom now long gone.

Low-power chips are secret sauce behind long-life wearables

Steve Kerr

Re: Lower end

The height of technology with a very luddite function - Sony FES Watch

I have the version 1 of these, can change the pattern on watch strap and face but in essence, it's a an analogue watch, the version 2 allows patterns to be uploaded to the watch and gives the ability to have a numeric display.

A conversation with a friend went thus...

Me: Got a new watch

Friend: what else does it do?

Me: Tell the time

Friend: what else does it do?

Me: Change the pattern on the strap and watch face:

Friend: What apps can it run?

Me: It's a watch, it tells the time

Friend: What else can it do?

Me: It's a watch, it tells the time

Friend: No, what other functions does it have?

Me: Er....It's a watch, it tells the time.

Friend: Can you sync it with your phone?

Me: Er.....It's a watch, it tells the time.

Lost the will soon after, couldn't understand the concept of a hi-tech watch that just told the time.

Tech support discovers users who buy the 'sh*ttest PCs known to Man' struggle with basics

Steve Kerr

Joy of users

Had this call once

user "I can't login"

me "to what"

user "the program"

me "which program?"

user "don't know, don't you know?"

me "We have many programs, what does it do?"

user "don't know"

me "what's your login id?"

user "don't know"

me "I suggest you talk to one of your colleagues and call back when you know which program and which user id your using"

Never got a call back

It doesn't work with Docker, K8s right now, but everyone's going nuts anyway for AWS's Firecracker microVMs

Steve Kerr

I Read that as microVMS

Before digital got rid of it and it all became OpenVMS

I am impressed that VMS is still going, used to love managing VMS systems

Anyway, I reminisce and digress.

Clunk, bang, rattle: Is that a ghost inside your machine?

Steve Kerr

Old Victorian building

My first job was working in an old Victorian building in Aldwych back in 1987

Was working late one evening - by myself.

The office was basically split into two with a computer room in the middle, the far side, where my desk was only had one way in or out, past the computer room and it was the 6th floor.

Long story, but part of my job was developing oil survey graphs in a dark room that was in the computer room.

I came out of the room and out of the computer room and heard the floor creaking to my right (one way in or out), it was a slightly raised floor and only creaked if someone walked on it. So I went down the corridor as was expecting the building security guard to be doing his rounds.

Got round the corner, the creaking immediately stopped and nobody was visible, as i said, I was the only one there. 11pm at night, old Victorian building, Usain Bolt had nothing on me on exiting the floor with two 90 degree left hand turns.

Rest of the time I worked there, used to turn out the lights and leave at a run!

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

Steve Kerr

Screwing over the competition

Done work for one bank once, they were charging something like £3-4000 a day for some upgrade work/

We were called in to do another piece of the upgrade work on a piece of connected software.

They paid us (1/3rd the price per day) to reverse engineer what the other company were doing to interface their software.

I went through what they were doing and wrote out a step by step guide on how to do the interfacing in under 1/2 day.

Turns out they were charging £3-4K to do what worked out to be just 10 minutes of configuration.

Was cheaper to get us in to reverse engineer it than to get the software vendor themselves in.

Reminds me of some other consultancy I was doing in Romania, I was asked to listen in on a meeting the bank was having with a software vendor that were trying to sell a bespoke 50K euro add on solution to the bank

Listened to what they said, the bank asked my opinion, told them they could do what this add on would do with what they already had with a bit of config in about an hour.

That was one very angry shouting salesperson at the other end of the phone when they just saw their nice cushy sale and bonus evaporate!

Perfect timing for a two-bank TITSUP: Totally Inexcusable They've Stuffed Up Payday

Steve Kerr

Re: Outraged of Tunbridge Wells

Or......and this is getting out there a bit...

Go to a cash point and get a balance view!

It looks like tech-savvy drivers will have to lead connected car data purge

Steve Kerr

Recessed reset button in glove compartment

Like a number of devices, why not just add a recessed reset button inthe glove department.

Press and hold for 5 seconds to factory reset the car.

No weird and wonderful menus to navigate.

For rental cars, in the rental agreement, all they need is for either the renter to press the reset button or for the rental company to do it when they get the car back and do their return checks.

if all car manufacturers done this one feature, wouldn't even need to bury it in the back of user manual.

Damn, should have patented that!

Tech rookie put decimal point in wrong place, cost insurer zillions

Steve Kerr

Re: Lira?

They actually done this with the Romanian currency years ago (LEU/RON).

They took off the 4 trailing zeros, so 50,000 became 5.

When I was over there, both sets of notes were still in use, actually, was fairly straightforward to use, don't know about behind the scenes though I think the currency name changed as well to make it easier to deal with, think RON became LEU

Think I still have a 50,000 note around here somewhere.

About to install the Windows 10 April 2018 Update? You might want to wait a little bit longer

Steve Kerr

PC Updated itself last night

That's annoying - had an update when shutting down PC, assumed it was just more security patches, only found out this morning it was actually an updated windows 10 version.

Thankfully didn't screw up my PC.

Thanks microsoft for "asking" whether you could install a new version but in hindsight, with microsofts "All your windows belong to us" attitude now, not surprising <sigh>

One day when they annoy me too much, switch to Linux it will be.

Sysadmin shut down the wrong server, and with it all European operations

Steve Kerr

Nickname for one of my colleagues

Can't remember what he done (over a period of time)

but nickname he got was Captain Chaos

Sysadmin wiped two servers, left the country to escape the shame

Steve Kerr

Customer sites

Had to fly to Jersey to do a customer upgrade

Solaris upgrade and application upgrade.

Specified to customer that they must be a full backup before I got there on Saturday morning

Got there Saturday morning, asked about the backup, finally got hold of their Unix admin, nope, didn't do it.


On site customer said do the upgrade anyway


Disk 1 of 2 - whirr whirr whir -OK

Disk 2 of 2 - whirr whirr, disk read error

Oh shit!

Retry, whirr whirr, disk read error

<swear swear swear, no backup, swear swear>

remove CD, look at scratches, customer doesn't have another copy

Oh shit.

Bit of saliva, bit of cleaning, bit more saliva, bit more buffing

Put disk inm whirr, whirr whirr (20 minutes or so later) - done.

Seat of the pants upgrade with customer standing there too!

Was also their Solaris disks!

Another customer (in Jersey oddly)

IT Manager "you broke our system"

me "it was OK on the weekend it was upgraded" - This was wednesday

IT Managaer, "you have to come over fix it now, rant rant rant rant"

Me - immediatte flight to Jersey

IT managers manager, flies over from Guernsey

All in computer room at console

dig through events, log in on wednesday, 5 minutes later, errors

All look at IT Manager.

Sheepishly admits he logged in and "done something"

Irate Guernsey Manager

2 return flights bought at no notice and one emegerncy consultancy day shows IT manager in bad light.

Suspected drug dealer who refused to poo for 46 DAYS released... on bail

Steve Kerr

Out then in again

So, according to police, we was released from police custody on legal and medical advice.

He was immediately rearrested on intent to supply class A drugs and taken to hospital.

Moments of freedom!

Windows 10 S to become a 'mode', not a discrete product

Steve Kerr

different version

No, that will be Windows 10 SE

IT peeps, be warned: You'll soon be a museum exhibit

Steve Kerr

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

Actually, my plasma TV died a few weeks ago.

Found a bloke (looks a retired electrial engineer) up the road that fixed it for £100 including parts.

As good as new!

So, thought I would have to take it to recyling but turns out it was a short on the Y board and Panasonic sell a repair kit.

Very nice, helpful, bloke too.

'The capacitors exploded, showering the lab in flaming confetti'

Steve Kerr

A couple of incidents spring to mind

When in college doing electronic systems I think it was, there was this sorted of breadboarded stuff which was like lego with little diagrams of components on the back - you could plug them in to create a circuit so you had a visual representation from the top. Power was supplied by a separate box with lots of dials.

Whilst doing an exercise, there was a loud bang, looking round there was a mushroom cloud billowing to the ceiiling and across it whilst a student standing in front had a stricken look of terror on his face.

From this, we (the rest of his classmates) formualted the theory of random connections in electronis :)

Another incident when working was in a computer room early 90's and needing a monitor plugged into a headless PC. Designated monitor was on, so we thought, fine. Turned off, unplugged and plugged into headless PC

<FLASH><BANG!> - I was standing over the top of it when it bliew, the ensuing mushroom cloud billowed up and there was a frantic rush to find anything to dissipate it before it hit the smoke detectors in any kind of concentration!

That's not including the ICL 2900's that could be crashed by accidently banging into them (never done that) and EPO cable that was incorrectly labelled such that when an elecrician cut it because he thought iwas a power cable that was being removed, the whole DC went down.

User asked help desk to debug a Post-it Note that survived a reboot

Steve Kerr

Xerox photcopiers

One company I worked for had those huge Xerox photocopies with 1/2 dozen trays, scanning facilities, remote connections - the full works, all the bells and whistles.

Could I get it to do photocopy a sheet of paper? No......

10 minutes later and with the user manual managed to finally work out how to go through the menu settings to actually photocopy something.

So much for sticking the paper on the glass and pressing the glowing green button (didn't do anything).

That was the day I realised that photocopiers had become too complex to copy a page of paper! 23 years ago that was

SCO vs. IBM case over who owns Linux comes back to life. Again

Steve Kerr


I thought SCO was fully owned by the lawyers who are pushing this?

Can't believe this has been going for so many years now.

Should nuke it from orbit and be done with it :)

Canucks have beef with Soylent as to whether or not it's a real meal deal

Steve Kerr

Re: Soylent Green

Actually, only in the film was it made of people, and it wasn't a very good film at that.

The original book "Make room, make room" by Harry Harrison is much better and soylent green was actually made from Soya and Lentils hence the name SoyLent Green.

Not being pedantic, much :)

Survey: Tech workers are terrified they will be sacked for being too old

Steve Kerr

Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

From memory, you had the old George 3, the newer VME but they both ran under CME (Concurrent Machine Environment).

ICL - the company that liked to move against trends in computers, like making them faster as the years went by.

Bank I worked for, got rid of their old 2900's for some spanking new 3900's which were actually slower than their 20 year older counterparts!


WPA2 KRACK attack smacks Wi-Fi security: Fundamental crypto crapto

Steve Kerr


So would this also be the case for WPA2-Enterprise being that both will be based on the same core standards?

Blade Runner 2049: Back to the Future – the movies that showed us what's to come

Steve Kerr

Re: Total Recall, Red Planet, The Martian, Mission to Mars, The Last Days on Mars, Escape from Mars

I see a new reality TV show.......

The Kardashians on Mars, The Kardashians in space, just anywhere but here!

Science fiction great Brian Aldiss, 92, dies at his Oxford home

Steve Kerr

Sad to hear this news

Brian Aldiss was one of my all time favourite authors.

Not read any of his books for some time though going to go back through them again now.

Another classic sci-fi author gone.

Linux-loving lecturer 'lost' email, was actually confused by Outlook

Steve Kerr

Shouting managers

Working for one bank had the following

PHB - "I want you to do A, B, C"

Me - "That's a bad idea becaseu......"

PHB - "I'm tell you what to do, do it"

Me - "Fine, I'll do it against my better judgement"

3 Years later

PHB Approaches desk in front on lots of peopl"

PHB - "Why the <swear swear swear....did you do this?"

PHB - More sweary stuff

2 days of email searching later and email forwarded to PHB with comment "here's what you asked me to do"

Response from PHB......Tumbleweeds blowing past in silence.

No apologies, nothing.

Arse that he was

How can you kill that which will not die? Windows XP is back (sorta... OK, not really)

Steve Kerr

The 64bit versions were because XP64 was actually Windows Server 2003 with all the servery bits removed. I spent days going round and round in circles trying to get updated service packs and it kept taking me to the Windows 2003 server page before I then discovered what it really was.

I had it (still got the install disk somewhere) because having a 64bit machine meant I should have a 64bit OS, silly me.

Who knew the traumas that would cause over the years as various bits of software said I wasn't running Windwos when I went to install them. Still, on a positive note, viruses didn't work either :)

It was stable though, I give it that.

Look out Silicon Valley, here comes Brit bruiser Amber Rudd to lay down the (cyber) law

Steve Kerr
Big Brother

They don't want terrorists

What they really want is all the information on you.

How better to control the proles by having all their information about.

Think Terry Gilliam's Brazil, but worse, much much worse.

I welcome our ministry of information overlords.

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

Steve Kerr

Re: That's funny

I've been looking for one for a few years and all the ones I've seen have been damn expensive, saw them in offices in Sweden, everyone had them.

Since I was going to work from home a lot, looking at desks and decided to look at Ikea and saw they were selling motorised desks, they're pretty sturdy, the one I've got has a max weight load of 100Kgs. They're also very heavy and have a 10 year warranty, can't sneeze at that.

Best desk I've bought for the price.

Based on hellish work past few weeks, I would still like a management crushing desk though :)

Steve Kerr

That's funny

Especially as I have an electrically operated height adjustable desk that I'm well, sitting at currently.

Better desk at home than in the office but as I work mostly from home nowadays.

Did come from Ikea though and is surprisingly solid.

Was 20% cheaper than 2 months travel on the train into London from just outside the M25 and saves the 3 hour round trip hell that is Southeastern and Thameslink combined.

How to avoid getting hoodwinked by a DevOps hustler

Steve Kerr

Re: If they’re a 'DevOps Expert', they probably aren’t

You mean, it's a whole bunch of cobblers?

Australian govt promises to push Five Eyes nations to break encryption

Steve Kerr

Re: Farenheit 451

I'm sure you've seen the way successive governments on both sides are dumbing down education for the masses whilst keeping the elite schools for their own ilk and rich bodies.

They already ARE producing a nation of illiterates that watch rehashed reality TV and other bilge and are addicted to putting out their inane ramblings on twitter, fkucbook, or whatever the current favourite is.

Politicians are living in cloud cuckoo land if they think they can back door encryption, they'd have to make everyone use key escrow where they (and their global friends and the criminals - hard to say which is which) have the keys. They are bound to produce a law that says, any other type of encryption is a WMD and therefore life imprisonment regardless of why you had - no doubt, this will include security researchers being the first to be investigated and probably imprisoned without trial secretly.

</rant over - got called out last night and in a bad mood!>

Infosec guru Schneier: Govts will intervene to regulate Internet of Sh!t

Steve Kerr

Re: Good, fast, cheap. Pick two

Yup, had one of those as a hand me down.

Had separate tuner (though I used a VCR), teletext box and speakers.

Was a really goof TV, shame it died, took me months to find something comparable which turned out to be a plasma screen.

America 'will ban carry-on laptops on flights from UK, Europe to US'

Steve Kerr

The safest option

Just ban all flights to/from the US, just to be sure.

No worries about Laptop bombs, Samsung incendiary devices or terrorist hijackers etc......

No need for homeland security peons on minimum wage and minimum clue either

Problem solved.

Well this is awkward. As Microsoft was bragging about Office at Build, Office 365 went down

Steve Kerr

Re: Cloud just means...

But then, the SLA just means that if they don't don't meet it, they'll throw you a scrap like give you a subscription credit for the downtime, will never account for any loss of business due to the outage

Forgetful ZX Spectrum reboot firm loses control of its web domains

Steve Kerr

That's terrible, I remember the launch of that :(

Used to call it the egg flan

Nerd Klaxon: Barbican to host Science Fiction exhibition this summer

Steve Kerr


That's round the corner from my office, looks like lunch times when I'm in the office will be spent at the exhibition :)

Would you like to know why I get a lot of action at night?

Steve Kerr

Re: Sorry

Yup, tablet based ones never worked for me, ever.

I use Beconase, when it used to be prescription only and the over the counter version now - been using for 28 years now every summer.

On topic - I hate going into the office on the trains where I always seem to be surrounded by people that seem to be going down wiith the plague. Stay home, you're not a martyr to the cause, all you're doing is spreading misery and decreasing productivity across more people

Why I just bought a MacBook Air instead of the new Pro

Steve Kerr

Bye Bye Apple

Not an apple fan boy.

Have had Macs for years as when I get home, I can't be arsed with messing around with PC's, I do that enough for work, I just want something that does what I want.

So the MBP 13 from 2009 will be carrying on until it dies, maxed out memory at 8GB and a 1TB SSD. Does fine for me for my current needs, got a fast PC for anything else anyway.

Since Steve Jobs popped his clogs, Apple pulled the plug out, and now they're circling the drain, they just don't realise they're on the event horizon of it yet, all just drinking the kool aid and patting each other on the bak.

With all that cash sloshing around, they could really start innovating with really interesting stuff, but no, the accountants have probably taken over so rehash after rehash.

Nearly disappeared many years ago, bounced back to a hugely profitable company, now going make to being lacklustre and just another faceless company at the back of the room.

Cerber ransomware menace now targeting databases

Steve Kerr

Re: Most of these arrive via the Inbox

How about being forced to listen to 24x7 Clinton and Trump campaign speeches alternating on a loop.

I would say about a week, but I would think those scum would sink into insanity after about 6 hours when their brains start dribbling out their ears.

New MacBook Pro beckons fanbois to become strip pokers

Steve Kerr

Was looking at a new macbook pro...

to replace my ageing macbook pro from 2009.

Not any more.

Not paying that much money for something so uninspiring.

So, windows 10 laptop or OS free laptop and install linux on it.

Or just give it and doing something else more interesting instead

Action Fraud warns of fraudulent anti-fraud warnings posing as Action Fraud

Steve Kerr

Answering the phone

Working from home several days a week, I'm aghast at the number of calls to my home phone number per day.

What I'm going to do is get a telephone recording device and answer thus.

"Serious Fraud Office, John speaking, how may I help you?" and see where the conversation goes from there.

Edward Snowden's 40 days in a Russian airport – by the woman who helped him escape

Steve Kerr
Big Brother

Re: If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear...

If you've got nothing to hide then they will produce some trumped up charges to get you regardless therefore you have everything to fear.

Don't worry, soon, it'll be brought up that citizens will always commit some crime at some point so whereas in Christianity you get original sin, there will be original crime so every baby will be barcoded on their forehead at birth. Any attempt at coverage will result in instant jail time and there will be barcode scanners on every lamppost, every street corner, every bit of roadside furniture.

Oh yeah, in case of any governments getting thoughts about this, I patent it so I can be barcode free :)

Vodafone: Dear customers. We're sorry we killed your Demon

Steve Kerr

Demon e-mail

I remember joining Demon at the beginning when i had an Amiga and Compuserve (had an account iwth them for one month) didn't support them, had to to run my own mailserver on the Amiga to get my e-mails!

Switched to ADSL when I discovered they were about to start, bought it thru whoever owned them. The support person at Demon when I had an issue (faulty equipment at the exchange) was rather surprised I already had their broadband package as it was actually being sold by them yet.

Left them when their ADSL speeds went off a cliff and it made playing PS3 online games impossible due to network dropouts. Their attempt at keeping me was "we're going to upgrade soon"....yeah, right.

As I've had the e-mail domain so long, when I left, I paid them to keep the e-mail, my paid for service moved to NamesCo or whoever they are a couple of years ago, not had any issues with it, so hopefully getting what I'm "paying" for rather than crying about losing a service I haven't paid for.


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