* Posts by AJ MacLeod

431 posts • joined 11 May 2006


Disk drives suck less than they did a couple of years ago. Which is nice

AJ MacLeod

I doubt it makes any significant difference, it's mostly not the interface that fails but the business end. I've had just as bad experience with Seagate SAS drives as SATA ones (probably worse, actually, if the percentage of SAS vs percentage SATA failed are considered.)

AJ MacLeod

Interesting - the results pretty well mirror my own experience, even though I'm dealing with far fewer drives (still hundreds of them.) Overall, I won't buy a Seagate drive if I can possibly avoid it; for well over a decade they have consistently been the worst in terms of reliability for me.

Most annoying is the way they seem to avoid logging real SMART failures - even obviously knackered Seagate drives will often pass an extended SMART test.

Then again, I won't buy a spinning drive at all if I can possibly avoid it - SSDs may fail in a more brutal manner but they have been orders of magnitude more reliable in my experience, even fairly ancient ones.

The D in SystemD stands for Dammmit... Security holes found in much-adored Linux toolkit

AJ MacLeod

Re: I use FreeBSD, and for good reason.

As recommended above, Void is quite BSD-like in many ways (including a ports-like packaging system.) It won't hold your hand in any way though, so maybe isn't the easiest way in to Linux; the documentation is fairly minimal but other than the init system and package management there's really nothing void-specific so there's tons of useful info online. (The Arch wiki is very good for example, though I don't personally like the distro.)

AJ MacLeod

Re: what?

PulseAudio got a bad reputation with me because despite claiming to do things I wanted it completely failed to deliver; not helped by the fact that the minuscule amount of "documentation" available was either wrong or useless. Jack works pretty well on the rare occasions I need that kind of really careful attention to audio paths and ALSA / dmix works perfectly well everywhere else.

AJ MacLeod

Re: Devuan user here

Void wasn't always so pure and untainted... in fact I hadn't realised until a month or two back that they'd abandoned systemd ages ago and so had ignored it up until then.

Which is a shame, as it turns out to be a great distro, a huge breath of fresh air in terms of lack of bloat. I'll stick with Gentoo for my desktop, but for lower-powered machines or those random laptops lying around Void is my default choice now.

Why is my Windows 10 preview build ticking? Microsoft reminds users that previews have timebombs

AJ MacLeod

Re: Also in this build...

I regularly remove Candy Crush (and the ten million assorted other abominations MS force feed hapless users) from new PCs only to see it "....Installing" in the start menu a second or two later. Usually I can win the race after uninstalling it the second or third time, after which is stays out until the next Windows update of any significance.

If at first or second you don't succeed, you may be Microsoft: Hold off installing re-released Windows Oct Update

AJ MacLeod

Re: X marks the spot (@Bob Magoo)

Sometimes, as you say, the drive is still mapped and accessible - but not always. Just as often it's not accessible, and to make matters worse it can be almost impossible to actually delete the mapping and recreate it (Windows won't let you disconnect the drive because it's "already disconnected" and won't let you recreate the mapping because it's already mapped.)

Definitely a bug that's been around for quite a long time, and very annoying it is too when it randomly springs up.

In memoriam: See you in Valhalla, Skype Classic. Version 8 can never replace you

AJ MacLeod

Re: Vendor neutral, platform neutral, where do we go?

Doesn't Signal require you to link it to a mobile phone?

We (may) now know the real reason for that IBM takeover. A distraction for Red Hat to axe KDE

AJ MacLeod

Re: Wot Wayland?

Arcan does indeed seem to be much better (or at least, more deeply) thought out than Wayland - I'm very impressed at how far he's got since I last read about it. His explanations of why he's chosen particular routes seem reasonable and overall he reads like one who has a definite idea not only of the "Big Picture" of what he's doing, but just as importantly, also cares about the small details of how he gets there. That's the bit that leads to good software which has a hope of being maintainable and efficient I think.

Having said that, for all I've read over the years - decades, even - about how broken X is, it really does just work for me. For that reason I'm quite happy to carry on using it for another decade if that's how long it takes for any replacement to actually match it in terms of real world performance.

Open-source this, open-source that, and the end of the Windows 10 Creators Update

AJ MacLeod

Re: Too True.....

start typing, but don't be surprised if the application you want to run doesn't show up even though you know it's installed; the start menu is intermittently broken on Windows 10 and has been since before it was released.

Far more reliable to do win-r and type the actual name of the executable and ignore the start menu completely...

Microsoft Windows 10 October update giving HP users BSOD

AJ MacLeod

Re: Your fault for buying HP and running Windows. @Waseem

I'm not sure it was ever best of breed (really ancient Laserjet printers were good I suppose) but if it was, it was a very, very long time ago indeed.

Every manufacturer has their problems but very few have been so consistently poor in my experience than HP, particularly with laptops. The servers are OK I suppose, if you forget about that time when they said you'd need a support contract in order to get continued firmware updates...

On the seventh anniversary of Steve Jobs' death, we give you 7 times he served humanity and acted as an example to others

AJ MacLeod

Re: "oh boy" @John Brown (no body)

"Yes, tablets, mp3 players and smartphones all existed before Apples products came along, but Jobs and Apple improved them considerably. "

That's merely a matter of opinion, and I couldn't disagree more.

My cheap and ancient Sansa Clip MP3 player sounds significantly better than any iPod I've tried and I don't need a huge and awful piece of bloatware to operate it. My Blackberry smartphone is 8 years old now and still operates as my main business phone, three or four days minimum between charges. Tablets are all pretty dumb, but I remember using a Nokia one back in 2007 which ran proper Linux and didn't stop you getting at it either.

Apple certainly "dumbed down" each of those items considerably, but that's not an improvement to your average Reg reader.

That syncing feeling when you realise you may be telling Google more than you thought

AJ MacLeod

Re: rounded interface

I hate new "improved" UIs more than most, but I must say I barely noticed the extra roundedness. Everything about the tab bar is inexplicably more grey and harder to read, but aside from that it's pretty much the same as before. I'm even finding it hard to get too riled about the GMail UI update (other than those stupid non-optional automatically suggested replies!)... I think I must just be getting old and worn out!

I am also amongst those who don't use Chrome on computers I care about though... I dislike Mozilla as much as Google and have resorted to Pale Moon for most of my browsing.

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

AJ MacLeod

Imprisonment would be fair, I think

As per the title - they've been intimidating and harassing thousands of people for years, accusing them, without any evidence, of the terrible crime of watching TV. Surely an actual crime like this is worthy of a few managers doing jail time for criminal negligence?

They've been sending me letters for about a decade now to which I feel no moral obligation whatsoever to respond... I like to think of the amount of income generated for Royal Mail, without inconveniencing the postie too much (must be a nice change to deliver a boring old letter and not a bulky Amazon parcel with a delivery deadline!)

Kernel sanders: Webroot vuln creates route to root Macs

AJ MacLeod

Re: Asking for trouble

Simple typo - they just missed the question mark at the end...

TSB goes TITSUP: Total Inability To Surprise Users, Probably

AJ MacLeod

I was sorting out an account problem for a customer with BT the other day, using the only method that seems to work these days (the online chat.)

The guy at the other end was actually very helpful and more importantly resolved the issue quite quickly - I was almost impressed for a minute, until the email arrived.

They had sent a plain text (well, strictly speaking I expect it was HTML, but..) log of the entire conversation - including the account number, address, security question and answer to the security question!

We've found another problem with IPv6: It's sparked a punch-up between top networks

AJ MacLeod

The cake

...might have worked, if only they'd written "please" correctly.

Windows 95 roars once more in the Microsoft round-up

AJ MacLeod

Re: 200Mhz

They definitely did (presumably, do) exist. My Pentium PC was only a 166 though, and not even MMX. Still staggers me to think it cost £1,645 (32MB RAM, with 17" monitor.)

Its install of Windows 95 (the first version, not OSR2) lasted two years before finally grinding to a complete non-booting halt, when it was replaced by Linux - never looked back since!

Early experiment in mass email ends with mad dash across office to unplug mail gateway

AJ MacLeod

@Alan Brown

I was out walking this morning and overheard a very confused "conversation" between two Glaswegian grass cutters and a carload of German tourists... the poor baffled Germans were perfectly comprehensible, the Weegies nigh unintelligible, even to me.

I was tempted to suggest they might try communicating with the tourists in English but refrained...

Outage outrage: TSB app offers users a TITSUP* encore

AJ MacLeod

Bank of Scotland offered "online banking" a decade before that... back when they were actually something like a decent bank, with knowledgeable and helpful staff.

Their web-based banking was also very good until the various mergers ruined most of what had been good...

AJ MacLeod

@Mystic Megabyte

Yes, I've had to do that for the first time this month as the RBS closed and left me little other option. As you say though it takes a good bit longer for the money to reach my account, I have to prepare cash pay-ins separately and I lose the helpful double-checking by the bank staff...

AJ MacLeod

Re: Surprised they have any customers left...

The problem is that in many places there isn't a better option to choose. My nearest town has two banks remaining, one of which is the TSB and the other Bank of Scotland.

The banks which have closed were the Clydesdale (criminally incompetent for years and "lost" my account) and RBS (branch staff were extremely good, pity the rest of the bank was... well, just criminal.)

The staff in the Bank of Scotland these days are ignorant, beyond unhelpful and patronising too for good measure... that leaves just the TSB as the only bank left to choose from.

Online banking is great, when it works - but especially for business banking you really need a branch within reasonable distance and for many of us there just isn't a good option available :(

While you were basking in the sun, the relentless march of the Windows-maker continued

AJ MacLeod

So is it just me that always loathed mice with those stupid side buttons, carefully placed precisely where you need to grip the thing in order to move it? One second you're carefully selecting text and the next second there's a flurry of unwanted clicking and some helpfully defined button assignments have emailed your selection to the person you'd least want to read it...

Time to dump dual-stack networks and get on the IPv6 train – with LW4o6

AJ MacLeod

Re: Throw caution to the wind and it will fall upon someone else

You can still use DHCP with IPv6, similar to how you describe; it really isn't at all necessary though.

I've been playing with IPv6 for a little while now after a couple of decades of waiting for it to quietly go away... I must say that there are definitely some ways in which it's much easier than v4. Being able to simply use as many (potentially publicly routeable) addresses as you like on the same interface is pretty cool - you can easily have a different address for each service you run if you want.

It does require a definite shift in mindset though which isn't easy when you've been used to the same system for all these years!

Devuan ships second stable cut of its systemd-free Linux

AJ MacLeod

Re: Pulseaudio next, please

You can use apulse to use Firefox without PA, or you can take the route that many of us did - tell user-hostile Mozilla to jump and just use Pale Moon instead.

Relive your misspent, 8-bit youth on the BBC's reopened Micro archive

AJ MacLeod

@Dan 55

Brilliant, thanks - I had "keyboards and computer music" in the 80s, these books had a great style which somehow made complex concepts understandable in fairly few words.

I will download a few others and almost certainly learn something!

Happy birthday, you lumbering MS-DOS-based mess: Windows 98 turns 20 today

AJ MacLeod

Re: The ONLY things going for it were

Teiwaz: KDE reached version 1.0 in 1998, although I started with a pre-release version and it was already really very good as I mentioned.

Having said that, as I gradually found my way around Linux I later switched to WindowMaker and use it to this day on my main PC - stability and responsiveness never get old!

AJ MacLeod

Re: The ONLY things going for it were ( @AC )

1998 was when I dumped Windows for good and switched to Linux full time... Point 1 is utter nonsense: KDE was already vastly superior in usability, flexibility, reliability and sheer functionality than any version of Windows Explorer until Win 7 (and even then it was superior in some ways.)

Enlightenment made Windows look like something from the stone age and ran incredibly smoothly even on limited hardware.

Point 2 - It may not have had the same range of MS Office copycat equivalents, (though why on earth shouldn't StarOffice count? I used it and it was fine... also WP8 a little later on which was sadly not as good as the Windows version.)

On the other hand, there were many other routes to document creation from a different school of thought - LyX already existed to make LaTeX more accessible and was far better than Word for my (academic) purposes.

Point 4 is mostly nonsense - true, there were specific abominations like WinModems and WinPrinters appearing around this time - (although I had both, and within a year or so both were quite well supported.) Already though, the sheer range of hardware supported was beginning to be extremely impressive - particularly since most of it was done by parties other than the device manufacturers.

Point 5 - modems were a breeze to set up, unless they happened to be cheap junk masquerading as modems but missing most of their important parts. Even then, many of them could be persuaded to work with a little extra effort - probably better spent on obtaining a half reasonable device in the first place though.

And on and on and on - 20 years later I wouldn't dream of running anything else on my own PCs - I waste enough of my day getting paid to fix endless Microsoft induced problems, I have no intention on having to do that after work too!

Microsoft commits: We're buying GitHub for $7.5 beeeeeeellion

AJ MacLeod

I still have mine (quite a modern one - from 1996) stored away just in case I ever need to use a serial mouse again. Unlikely, but probably more likely than with 99% of the other ancient technology I have stored away for much the same reason!

High-end router flinger DrayTek admits to zero day in bunch of Vigor kit

AJ MacLeod

Re: 2850n

Have a look at the International ftp site, looks like is available for the 2850 ( http://www.draytek.com.tw/ftp/Vigor2850/Firmware/v3.8.8.2/ )

The firmware on the international site isn't always necessarily identical to that on the UK site though so I'd try it on your least important router first just in case!

(Edit - just realised I'm making an assumption that you're in the UK - even if not, the readme seems to indicate this firmware covers a wide range of 2850 variants.)

AJ MacLeod

Scary stuff

I wasn't notified about this one for some reason, but have just finished a round of checks and upgrades on most of the 2860s and 2862s in my care - several of the 2860s seem to have been hit, with the DNS server settings changed in the LAN sections. Always disturbing when such a central bit of networking gear is hacked, hopefully that's all that was done but who really knows?

Definitely no default passwords in use here, usually all but HTTPS access to remote admin blocked.

Generally I'm a big fan of these routers for SMEs as they've proven themselves incredibly reliable over the past decade and more, plus the firmware updates keep coming long after the initial purchase... I suppose such a popular router was always going to be a prime target.

Welcome to Ubuntu 18.04: Make yourself at GNOME. Cup of data-slurping dispute, anyone?

AJ MacLeod

Re: I've opted out of 18.04

If you know exactly what you want (and don't want) then Gentoo is likely a good home for you. It's the only workable way to get pretty much exactly the distro you want, whatever that may be. There are other options that get you kind of close-ish to what you want; and some that get you exactly what you want but are a nightmare to maintain long-term.

I've personally found it just a bit too much hard work to maintain on servers but on my desktop I couldn't live with anything else.

Finally: Historic Eudora email code goes open source

AJ MacLeod

Re: Pegasus (and Netware)

I used to do something similar with a bit of basic shell scripting to check my university staff email from the comfort of my Linux desktop without having to suffer logging in to an NT machine in one of the labs and running Pegasus Mail. Nothing against Pegasus, it wasn't bad as far as mail clients went in the late 90s.

I didn't bother with anyone else's mail though, reading my own was enough of a chore!

AJ MacLeod

Re: 460MB of code?!

You're welcome to your opinion (I know other people who irrationally love Eudora without ever being able to give one point in its favour other than that they're used to the mess.)

However... I have actually used Eudora myself and had to deal with it on other people's PCs now and then (within the past year, too), and it IS inevitably a horrible mess. Bloated is subjective and relative perhaps, there are undoubtedly even more bloated clients out there... but regardless, those piles of old libs that aren't otherwise on the system is Eudora induced bloat.

Old is fine by me - I use loads of software that is ancient and great - but this was pretty horrible decades ago and hasn't improved any with age!

AJ MacLeod

460MB of code?!

No wonder it's such a horrible bloated old mess. I've dealt with many email clients in my day but rarely found one I disliked as much as Eudora (Windows 10 Mail app and virtually all mobile email apps excluded.)

Sadly there are no email clients I really like, although claws mail has been the best of the bunch for me for many years.

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

AJ MacLeod

The home directories ("User" folders) should still be there, just a bit more difficult to get to. Booting off a Linux USB drive, or hooking the hard drive up to another PC would be the easiest way, although you could also probably do it with cmd.exe if you're comfortable with DOS commands... I was able to launch cmd.exe (via windowskey-r) on the machine I saw with this.

AJ MacLeod

Seen this too (with AVG installed)

Got a PC in this vicious circle just now; you can't roll back as that fails, you can't use system restore as there aren't any restore points; Windows helpfully tells you to reset your PC but the reset option isn't available!

Best you can do is boot to a "different OS", i.e. back to your botched non-desktop. Most stuff won't run - stuff as basic as Explorer for example. services.msc does, control panel doesn't; disabling the AVG related services doesn't help at all.

Looks like the only way out for this is a reinstall from scratch. I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I needed to do that for Windows 7 (and previous) - you can virtually always fix it when things go wrong. With 8 onwards, if the various basic "system restore" s fail, you've had it. Utter rubbish.

I think the person who owns this PC may get it back running Linux (with her consent of course)- she only needs it for basic word processing and email, and at least once she's got used to which buttons to click for Libreoffice and Thunderbird they will stay put. With Windows 10, who knows what the next unwanted update is going to add/remove/destroy?

Cheap-ish. Not Intel. Nice graphics. Pick, er, 3: AMD touts Ryzen Pro processors for business

AJ MacLeod

The "normal" Dell desktops are slow because many of them still (as far as I've seen) have spinning disks. Coupled with a SSD, pretty much any of the mass market CPUs is more than fast enough for any office work.

I switched to speccing Lenovo a year or two back because Dell were so ridiculously slow in making SSDs a viable option.

You love Systemd – you just don't know it yet, wink Red Hat bods

AJ MacLeod


I'm not really bothered about whether init was perfect from the beginning - for as long as I've been using Linux (20 years) until now, I have never known the init system to be the cause of major issues. Since in my experience it's not been seriously broken for two decades, why throw it out now for something that is orders of magnitude more complex and ridiculously overreaching?

Like many here I bet, I am barely tolerating SystemD on some servers because RHEL/CentOS 7 is the dominant business distro with a decent support life - but this is also the first time I can recall ever having serious unpredictable issues with startup and shutdown on Linux servers.

AJ MacLeod

You should consider that maybe these "stuck in their ways" old school types have a vast store of accumulated experience which tells them that some changes are just plain stupid and shouldn't be embraced at all.

You have GNU sense of humor! Glibc abortion 'joke' diff tiff leaves Richard Stallman miffed

AJ MacLeod

Re: info

Totally beside the point of this discussion of course, but I have been using GNU software for two decades and don't think I've ever come across a worse documentation system than info. The browser is so unusable that I'd actually virtually forgotten that "info" exists - after an initial struggle to see the logic I've always just used such man pages as are available rather than waste time trying to untangle the writhings of the tortured mind that created the info browser!

LLVM contributor hits breakpoint, quits citing inclusivity intolerance

AJ MacLeod

Emacs and Tabs

Conflicted - I want to upvote you for the first line and downvote you for the second!

Press F to pay respects to the Windows 10 April Update casualties

AJ MacLeod

Re: Homegroups

You can of course still use Workgroups and the old fashioned file and printer sharing to share with other machines running at least XP up to Win 10 (can't remember whether anything older than XP will work but you probably wouldn't really want anything that old loose on your network anyway)

AJ MacLeod

Oh good, some utterly useless junk removed

... now if only they'd do the same for the other 20 or so "Apps" that blight every new Windows PC and will never be used (mistakenly clicking on their stupid oversized tiles and closing them as soon as possible doesn't count.)

Firefox to feature sponsored content as of next week

AJ MacLeod

Re: Be Brave...

That's happened a few times already, there are a couple of *fox forks (and Palemoon which I have been using since Firefox dropped ALSA support and drowned the dissent of unhappy users last year.)

VMs: Imperfect answers to imperfect problems, but they're all we have

AJ MacLeod

Slightly myopic

I don't think I've ever seen anyone use VMs for security by isolation; certainly as far as I'm concerned they solve real problems relating to ease of snapshotting and migrating entire servers across (sometimes fairly dissimilar) hardware.

What a mesh: BT Whole Home Wi-Fi users moan over update

AJ MacLeod

Re: Mesh Networks

Indeed... it didn't work back then, either!

Prof Stephen Hawking's ashes will be interred alongside Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin

AJ MacLeod

Re: "There is no heaven or afterlife..."

"With the goal of dragging your "thinking" back onto the rails, you may restructure the major point around the following alternate presentation:

Imagine others' observation of you exactly one year before your birth."

OK, if you insist we move from our original frame of reference (our own experience) to another; you are making the altogether unprovable and in many ways irrational assumption that every aspect of our being (including the non-physical "soul" / "sentient self") can be detected and measured and is subject to the same limitations as matter, which it almost certainly isn't.

I am quite enjoying "it" while it lasts and making the most of it while I can, but I have reason to believe that much still better awaits - as old Blaise pointed out, my worst case scenario is apparently a great deal less bad than yours so I hope for your sake you have an epiphany in time :)

AJ MacLeod

"He was a Newton, an Einstein, a Galileo level Great."

No. He wasn't remotely close. Undeniably he was a very clever chap and (for a scientist) brilliant at getting his opinions broadcast, but in the end of the day his actual useful scientific output was virtually nil, and not worthy of even being mentioned in the same breath as Newton and Einstein.

AJ MacLeod

Re: "There is no heaven or afterlife..."

Er... your reasoning is rather obviously flawed. Try to think back to when you were one year old; virtually nobody can remember anything at all from that period in their life and yet they were demonstrably extant and experiencing things in a more vivid way than they ever would again...


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