* Posts by AJ MacLeod

403 posts • joined 11 May 2006

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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!

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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 3.8.3.2 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.)

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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

AJ MacLeod

@Sheepykins

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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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)

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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.)

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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.)

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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.

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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!

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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 :)

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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.

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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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Rant launches Eric Raymond's next project: open-source the UPS

AJ MacLeod

These (servers with built in UPS) have certainly existed in the dim and distant past - Apricot made some (the one I'm thinking of was MCA so that dates it.)

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Cryptocurrencies kill people and may kill again, says Bill Gates

AJ MacLeod

Re: Tabs?

If your editor doesn't have a trivially simply function to change the width of tabs on the fly, I'd argue that it's broken. (e.g. :set ts=5)

One tab always produces the correct spacing, whereas it's very easy to insert the wrong number of spaces (and a mistaken extra tab press is much easier to notice.)

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AJ MacLeod

Tabs Vs Spaces

Learning that Bill Gates uses tabs is the very first thing that has ever made me question whether I've been right in doing so all these years. Then I realised that it just goes to prove that nobody can be wrong on everything...

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Teensy plastic shields are the big new thing in 2018's laptop crop

AJ MacLeod

Those other form factors aren't what they seem

Have a closer look at those proper sized desktops (i.e. mid tower.) Unless you want to pay for a high end workstation class machine, more and more of these office grade towers are just laptop / small form factor components awkwardly shoved into a massive empty box.

I like proper tower PCs as the standard components are much easier to keep basic replacements in stock for - (e.g. one ATX PSU will fit vast arrays of PCs from brand new to well over a decade ago)

What is the point in a standard sized box if you can't put standard components into it?

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Firefox to emit ‘occasional sponsored story’ in ads test

AJ MacLeod

Re: Bye Bye (@JohnFen)

I'm afraid it's not Mozilla (the nonprofit) we need - it's a complete replacement for them. As far as I'm concerned, they are a bad actor themselves; maybe not quite such a bad actor as Google or Microsoft but certainly they've conclusively proven they understand nothing about and care nothing for their users.

Like many here I'm sure, I used Firefox since before it was even called that and I'm very disappointed in just what a mess Mozilla have made of what was a real success story; at this point I just want them gone and slightly optimistically hope someone else will gather enough momentum to replace them.

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AJ MacLeod

Re: Bye Bye

You're right, it doesn't have all the same features - it does however have the ones I actually want and use, including playing audio on a standard Linux system using ALSA.

Mozilla can't die off quickly enough for me now - they're far past the stage where they've become merely embarrassing, getting to the point where they're becoming a liability. Actually, come to think of their political meddling - they've already reached that one too.

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Why did I buy a gadget I know I'll never use?

AJ MacLeod

Re: Five varieties of Firewire cables

If they also need say 16 more serial ports I can provide some PCI cards to help... (I can't throw them out, they've never been used!)

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Ubuntu 17.10 pulled: Linux OS knackers laptop BIOSes, Intel kernel driver fingered

AJ MacLeod

Re: Can't we just get rid of UEFI?

I must admit I have downvoted your opinions on many occasions but in this case you are spot on. Somehow after a few decades dealing with technology one gets an instinctive "feel" for things that are good ideas and things that are a botched mess from day one; from the beginning UEFI seemed to me to be the latter. Daily experience of it soon confirmed that feeling; it's just a clumsy, sprawling mess.

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AJ MacLeod

@MarkET

Apricot had quite a few features back in the mid 90s (particularly regarding device security) which the rest of the world still hasn't quite caught up with or are at least rare.

Strangely, there is almost nothing on the Internet about any of it with the happy exception of what seems to be most of their manuals and software ( http://insight.actapricot.org/insight/default.htm )

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One more credit insurer abandons Maplin Electronics

AJ MacLeod

Aberdeen to York

... is a slightly strange way of putting it - when talking about shops across a geographical area you'd generally name the two most distant points geographically rather than alphabetically!

As far as I know they have shops across the UK from Inverness to Truro which is pretty decent coverage. I've not used the physical shops for years (since they're mostly full of cheap tat and very few useful components if my last visits were anything to go by.)

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Tired of despairing of Trump and Brexit? Why not despair about YouTube stars instead?

AJ MacLeod

Re: 'If you are still with us'

"..."and haven't passed out from banging your head repeatedly against a desk or wall..."

I've cemented mine into a microwave oven, I saw it done somewhere and thought it would be a good way to avoid having to watch idiots doing idiotic things on youtube...

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Looking through walls, now easier than ever

AJ MacLeod

Most recently built (or renovated) houses in the UK will already have a fairly complete metal foil surround in the external walls thanks to two layers of aluminium foil either side of Kingspan/Celotex insulation and maybe another on foil backed plasterboard.

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Mailsploit: It's 2017, and you can spoof the 'from' in email to fool filters

AJ MacLeod

Re: Classic reponse from Mozilla

Thunderbird is probably the most comprehensive and shiny GUI mail client available on Linux, but it is also horribly bloated.

Claws mail is the best alternative as far as I can see (and not vulnerable to this attack IIRC) - it's GUI enough to not need years of fiddling to become comfortable with, feature-complete for almost everyone, reasonably bloat free and dead stable.

Not brilliant for viewing HTML email, but then again I'd rather not have a full blown web browser embedded in my email client anyway...

(The situation isn't any better on Windows by the way, proper email clients are sadly not fashionable and nobody seems interested in working on them.)

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The Quantum of Firefox: Why is this one unlike any other Firefox?

AJ MacLeod

Re: Fix Thunderbird too!

Unfortunately Mozilla's "fixing" of Firefox has resulted in it using far more memory than before, not less. The usage is spread out over a plethora of separate processes which perhaps makes it less easy to see, but in my testing with my normal set of just over 20 tabs open it uses around double what Pale Moon does in identical circumstances. It's not even perceptibly faster, not that I found Pale Moon slow in the first place.

I agree that it would be lovely to see some real attention to cutting the bloat in Thunderbird, but I'm not holding my breath...

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AJ MacLeod

Re: PaleMoon

fishman: I wouldn't be in any rush if I were you. I also switched to PM a while back, over Mozilla's attitude on supporting ALSA and have been really happy with the improved performance and stability from PaleMoon. Having read such praise for this new version though I thought I'd give it a fair try, loading up both with identical sets of tabs and switching back and forth to feel the difference. The most obvious difference is that the new FF is a massive resource hog - it takes vastly more RAM than pale moon to display exactly the same content. To add insult to injury it is definitely not perceptibly faster at all on my machine (oh, and of course there's no sound.)

After a good start Mozilla lost the plot years ago and I won't miss them when they finally fizzle out completely - I just hope that others like Pale Moon can gain enough active developer support to continue their good work.

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Munich council: To hell with Linux, we're going full Windows in 2020

AJ MacLeod

Re: @Anthonyl

I'm pretty sure Picasa itself will run OK under WINE as from distant memory I seem to recall the Linux version was basically the Windows one bundled up with WINE (as is for example Teamviewer on Linux.) If it comes to the bit, Microsoft themselves are doing this now the other way round!

Image manipulation is not something I do much of these days, but I mostly hear Darktable and Rawtherapee mentioned in connection with this (or shotwell for much more basic requirements.)

Of course it doesn't matter what software you're coming from and going to, there will always be a learning effort required and rarely does one program excel the other completely in every area. When I moved from Windows about the only thing I actually gave up without finding a decent replacement for was Mathcad but overall the move was well worth that sacrifice.

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AJ MacLeod

@ubermik

Can you expand a little on which version of Windows is actually finished and ready for corporate use by clueless non-technical users? Windows 8, maybe? or 8.1? MS deposited an OS on non-technical users that looked completely different to anything they'd used before, dumped people into full screen apps with no visible way of getting out, etc etc etc. Now we have 10 - but which version of 10 is that? It's never finished either, always in flux.

There's nothing particularly good about Windows in this kind of environment, any more than there is anything particularly bad about Linux (which it's plain you don't really have any significant experience with.)

I support SMEs running both (and a few using OSX) and I can assure you I spend far less time per week supporting the ones using Linux on the desktop. Yep, they run whole companies with Linux on their desktop - companies whose business is nothing to do with computing, whose users are as ordinary and non-techy as you can find. Do you know what? It doesn't matter. After being shown how to open a web browser, word processor, spreadsheet and email client, 90% of their training is done.

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AJ MacLeod

@Anthonyl

If you really want to eliminate MS you will - I got sick of their utterly useless software over 20 years ago and as soon as I learned about Linux I switched; my Windows 95 drive was wiped less than a year later.

I am not even a programmer - at the time I was an engineering student, and proper mechanical engineering at that! Linux was ready for the desktop all the way back then, assuming technically competent user willing to think a little bit.

In any case, what's wrong with "workarounds" if they actually work? I must admit I don't use WINE for anything currently, but many years ago I did and it worked perfectly well for several applications.

Just a heads up on Picasa - it doesn't exist any more, like a lot of image handling software it's been replaced by online versions, for better or for worse... though these happen to work fine on Linux!

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Intel's super-secret Management Engine firmware now glimpsed, fingered via USB

AJ MacLeod

@Ole Juul

And as a bonus, you don't need your central heating on while the P4 is running...

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Logitech: We're gonna brick your Harmony Link gizmos next year

AJ MacLeod

Glad it's not just me... often people are slightly surprised by my hatred of short-lived pointless gimmicky gadgetry (though obviously they don't see it as that!) and the complete absence of such from our house, despite my obvious happiness with working in IT all these years.

In fact, you can't even see a TV or electronics of any kind in the living room, even the screen and media player are hidden away in an alcove cupboard and only pulled out on their arm when actually wanted (the speakers are discretely hidden elsewhere in the room.)

I actually sometimes feel slightly nauseous when I think of the sheer volume of horrible toxic, non-biodegradable tat that gets churned out, bought and then ditched only months later.

Logitech make decent and cheap keyboards and mice, but for anything else I wouldn't touch them with a bargepole...

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Dell forgot to renew PC data recovery domain, so a squatter bought it

AJ MacLeod

@CAPS LOCK

If you mean Windows 10 then the licence is tied to the device (embedded in BIOS/EFI); if the machine has ever had Windows 10 installed then it will automatically activate if you install the same version (i.e. Home/Pro), it doesn't have to be from the OEM image and it doesn't have to be the same release of Windows 10 as was previously installed.

For Windows 7 you will mostly need to go through activation by phone carry on if you install from standard install media but it'll almost always be successful.

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AJ MacLeod

I now feel even more justified in automatically removing the Dell backup and recovery software from every PC I deal with... who'd want to reinstall a Dell factory image anyway? It's quicker to deal with missing drivers etc on a bare Windows install than to sit and uninstall 20,000 pointless bits of bloatware (and 7 different versions of MS Office in foreign languages.)

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BlackBerry Motion lurches into UK stores

AJ MacLeod

Re: @AJM

Thanks for the confirmation, that is good news... as I said I don't plan on ditching my current phone until it either dies completely or my phone company drop BIS, but it's nice to have some kind of plan for either of those events occurring! I am so fed up with the state of "smart"phones these days that I was seriously considering just ditching them altogether and going back to a featurephone if push came to shove.

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AJ MacLeod

If the fingerprint scanner really does work as a trackpad and works as well as previous BB trackpads, this would be the first Android phone I think I'd even consider. Especially if the touchscreen could be disabled completely...

Mind you, even then I'd only consider it if my seven year old 9105 died first - one day, perhaps, someone will make another smartphone with multiple-day battery life, easily replaceable battery, a proper numeric keypad and a touchpad instead of (or at least as well as) a touchscreen... probably not, but I live in hope!

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Wanna exorcise Intel's secretive hidden CPU from your hardware? Meet Purism's laptops

AJ MacLeod

Re: We need companies like Purism @Michael Habel

If someone's concerned enough about security and privacy to disable the IME I don't think they're very likely to be interested in running Windows of any variety.

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Ubuntu 17.10: We're coming GNOME! Plenty that's Artful in Aardvark, with a few Wayland wails

AJ MacLeod

Re: Looks tempting

"Wayland: About time. Pushing all UI through a pipe/socket was good in its day, but the desktop needs more. X11 has had its time..."

So I keep hearing. Strangely though, my desktop doesn't need more anything - it works brilliantly, just like it has since the 90's in fact. I'm not quite so skeptical about Wayland as I am about SystemD though - as far as I can tell it's a far better idea and implemented far less badly; with proper, flawless backwards compatibility with X11R6 and equivalent, reasonably effortless network transparency I would be prepared to accept it. Not any time soon though... it just isn't necessary.

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AJ MacLeod

Re: I wonder why it's *still* not the year of Linux on the desktop

Nobody _needs_ to agree on the "best" distro or desktop combination, it's pretty much irrelevant... this has always been one of the major strengths of the Linux (or other OSS) desktop.

Frankly I wouldn't use Gnome 3 if you paid me to, WindowMaker has been my "desktop" of choice for work over the best part of two decades and works better than ever... consuming a whole 2599 kB of RAM at the moment.

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Azure fell over for 7 hours in Europe because someone accidentally set off the fire extinguishers

AJ MacLeod

Re: The insane thing about it is... (@garetht t)

A modest server hardly requires redundant A/C - but basically all the stuff in your list that actually matters in real life is quite readily achievable for even quite a small company with nothing more than a dedicated well ventilated IT room.

Redundant power - UPS capable of handling several hours of outage is easy to get and even a small petrol generator could easily be kept on hand in the unlikely case of an outage lasting any longer than that.

Redundant Internet connections - Easy. (And even a 3/4G last ditch option would be plenty for an Email server)

Low latency links to backbone... hardly necessary for the majority of companies, especially if the bulk of their IT is based on one site.

Physical security... really?

Audited and certified systems and procedures... whatever. In practice, plenty of companies get along much better with just a bit of personal responsibility and good old common sense. If your IT staff consists of a handful (or fewer) of reliable, competent individuals that work well together they'll make sure that nothing too stupid is likely to happen.

You can keep your cloud, it's just your data on a pile of other people's computers managed by fallible humans you can't speak to and the whole edifice waiting to fall over when any one of the billion or so sequences of events occurs that wasn't covered by the "certified procedures"

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