* Posts by Laura Kerr

226 posts • joined 21 Apr 2015


Silent Merc, holy e-car... Mflllwhmmmp! What is that terrible sound?

Laura Kerr

Re: Loud speaker mounted on the roof

"QM2-sized foghorn"

I like your thinking. After several near misses in the centre of Edinburgh when dumb tourists have stepped out in front of my Defender I'm seriously thinking about fitting a Peterbilt truck horn, like the truck in Duel had.

You're on a Huawei to Hell, US Sec State Pompeo warns allies: Buy Beijing's boxes, no more intelligence for you

Laura Kerr

Re: That seems like a dangerous stance

"Too much effort was expended on global issues, not enough on European threats. "

Well, with an empire spanning the globe, Britain had to focus on international issues. And though you're right about the financial drain following the First World War, there are a few tricks you've missed:

1. At the Versailles conference in 1919, Woodrow Wilson explicitly threatened a transatlantic arms race, which eventually led to the Washington Naval Treaty. That imposed a level of parity between the naval powers, and was weighted in America's favour, and against Britain. Britain had a huge empire to protect; America did not. It was probably the first time the US successfully flexed its muscles on the international stage.

2. During the First World War, Britain and Japan were allies. That alliance was terminated under American pressure, weakening Britain's position in the Far East and necessitating greater defence expenditure there. There's proof of the rot setting in here - the guns of Singapore could have pulverised an attacking naval force, so the Japanese simply advanced down the Malay peninsula instead.

3. By 'German ambition' I'm assuming you're referring to the rise of Hitler. The Nazis weren't a serious threat until after the Wall Street crash of 1929. Fear of a return to the hyper-inflation of the 1920s stoked by a nationalistic demagogue helped to persuade more people to vote for the Nazis in the elections up to 1933. And after Hitler became Chancellor, it didn't help that the US had retreated into isolationism.

You could argue that Clemenceau and Lloyd George should have told Wilson to sod off back to the ranch, but that's looking back with a hundred years of hindsight. The war-weariness of Britain and France helped to accelerate their decline, while the US, who had not suffered anything like as much, slowly but surely pushed them aside.

Laura Kerr

Re: That seems like a dangerous stance

"this sounds like it would hurt the US more than anybody else"

'Zackly. And to put the old tin lid on it, it might be quite some time before Lord Dampnut's cabal realised the impact that would have. The days of American hegemony are slipping away, and just like the way empires throughout history have disintegrated, the people in charge will be the last to know; and they'll find it out the hard way.

It's probably far too late for America to recover its dominance, anyway. Lord Dampnut's just presiding (for very small values of 'presiding') over a great power in its death throes. Some time in the next few decades, future historians will point to a date between December 1972 and November 1989 as the end of the American empire.

It was the same on this side of the pond. It's a popular belief that the British Empire ended on 15th August 1947 with Indian independence, but the first nail was hammered into the imperial coffin on 21st January 1906, with the election of the last Liberal government. By the time India gained independence forty years later, the British Empire was rotten to the core.

Britain had its day of glory. So did the United States - and to an extent it still does - but the sun's sinking towards the horizon. I might not live to see it finally set, but my kids probably will.

What did turbonerds do before the internet? 41 years ago, a load of BBS

Laura Kerr

Re: Ahm the days of non-resume..

Out of interest, which side of the pond are you on? The term that used to get bandied about in region 25 tended to be 'leeches'.

Laura Kerr

Re: Hairnett BBS

So do I!


I still have it all archived away; in fact I dug it out a few years ago. Ah, the joys of the phone ringing in the wee hours as the midnight line delivered the mail, and awaiting the next Night Owl CD in the post.

Granddaddy of the DIY repair generation John Haynes has loosened his last nut

Laura Kerr

Still have the ones for my old bikes

Including the one for the BSA A65, complete with its deathtrap brake maintenance instructions.

The manual was spot on for the engine, but the cycle parts were a different matter. The Haynes manual blithely stated that the brake shoes were interchangeable. They weren't, as I found out after nearly going under a bus when the brakes suddenly faded. I couldn't work out WTF was wrong with them.

Then I found an original A65 handbook at a swapmeet. There was a whole section devoted to maintaining the brakes, including diagrams that showed the brake shoes had offset liners. Once I'd found a set of original shoes, they worked just fine.

Good manuals generally, though. Saved me a fortune back in the day.

RIP John.

One click and you're out: UK makes it an offence to view terrorist propaganda even once

Laura Kerr

Re: Easy get-out?

"if you are of the girly persuasion then I guess you don't commit an offence"

Sadly not. Every Act of Parliament has two sentences at the start:

Reference to the masculine includes the feminine


Reference to the singular includes the plural


NHS England digital boss in hot water over 'puff piece' written about her future employer

Laura Kerr


"make sure it can deliver what we want it to without costing billions."

You're new to the world of government IT, aren't you?

Big Red's big pay gap: $13,000 gulf between male and female Oracle staffers – reports

Laura Kerr

Re: Equal Opportunity cars

Depends if he swings both ways.

Are you sure your disc drive has stopped rotating, or are you just ignoring the messages?

Laura Kerr

Re: Favorite prompts

"It's all gone horribly wrong. You should not have seen this message. Press OK to continue"


NHS England's chief digital officer goes full digital, ditches health service for GP app biz

Laura Kerr

Re: Moving away

"they no longer understand that there are such things as patients."

Quite correct, there aren't. They're called 'service users' now.

I'm deadly serious, BTW.

Laura Kerr

Moving away

"We need to move away from the paternalistic, clinician-led culture, to using a targeted mix of partnership approaches and encouraging personal responsibility for health where appropriate."

What exactly is wrong with a 'clinician-led culture' in healthcare? Call me old-fashioned, but when I need healthcare, I think I'll take the advice of a doctor over a beancounter any day of the week.

Hubble 'scope camera breaks down amid US govt shutdown, forcing boffins to fix it for free

Laura Kerr

Re: Easily solved

We can hope, but how can you be certain he won't be re-elected?

An upset tummy and a sphincter-loosening blackout: Lunar spaceflight is all glamour

Laura Kerr

"NASA wasn’t privy to all the details"

I see what you did there.

Spending watchdog points finger at Capita for 1,300 shortfall in British Army rookies

Laura Kerr

Re: How?

@ Doctor Syntax

Yup. And for bonus points, a lot of those requirements themselves have a high degree of mutual incompatibility. That means a Decision Has To Be Made so les grandes fromages hastily reconvene. This time, without the minion present, the atmosphere is a little more confrontational:

GF1: I want these changes to go in asap.

GF2: These ones have a higher degree of business need.

GF3: This third lot also needs to go in. And they aren't compatible with the first lot.

GF1: I want these in immediately. I've promised the Minister.

GF2: Hey, hang on. These ones are important, too.

GF3. I want doesn't get.

GF1: Do you know who I am?

GF2: I want these changes implemented immediately. If that doesn't happen, I'll scream and scream and scream until I'm sick.

GF3: Yeah, well my dad's bigger than your dad.

..etc. Eventually the requirements backed by the loudest shouter are somehow squeezed on top of the live system. No regression tests can be done, as testing was one of the first corners to be cut, so a few happy path scenarios are run and the most glaring faults hastily corrected. The Go / No Go meeting spends most of its allotted time whittling down the remaining list of bugs until the defect mask's met.

It goes live, falls over and is plastered with hot fixes until it only needs rebooting once a day.

Then rinse, squabble and repeat until end of contract.

Laura Kerr

Re: How?

"My dear lady, it sounds like you've been Sir Humphry's secretary."

You might say that. I couldn't possibly comment.

Laura Kerr

Re: How?

Gubbmint IT projects have their own playbook, and it's almost the direct opposite of how sane development works. In the real world, you work out what the website has to do, make the best estimates of throughput you can, add in some contingency and ensure the architecture is scalable, design the interfaces for the payment, warehousing and transport systems, implement a decent security layer and separation of concerns and so on. Then, with a fairly comprehensive set of requirements, off you go.

Now in gubbmint, first of all, a minister bumps their gums in public about how the new shiny will go live on date X. Just to emphasise the importance, they do so in the House of Commons, which means it's recorded in Hansard. Then they pass it on to their minions, who giggle 'bananaaaa' and set up a Senior Manglement Team, a Steering Committee, a Stakeholder Forum, a Supplier Management Review Group and a Procurement Executive. This all takes time to put together - must get this right, old boy, as it's a Ministerial commitment, don't y'know - so some time is taken up with assigning people, synchronising diaries and debating terms of reference for each group. Then it goes up to the Minister for approval. Once that's been obtained The Plan is assembled using the Great Hammer of Microsoft Project.

Next step is to Gather All Ye Requirements. As all stakeholders must be consulted, a few months are burnedspent on workshops that rapidly turn into either meandering debates or turf wars. Technology allows these to be done via con-calls so that half the attendees dial in, go on mute and play on Facebook, while half the rest are mumblers who can't express themselves clearly.

With the workshops concluded, the next step is to assemble a set of requirements that make the Chequers Brexit plan look like a model of clarity. But hey, there are the requirements, so they're cut 'n' pasted into a tender document. In order a provide full transparency, a different font is used, and redacted text is included.

Off they go to tender and a couple of months later, a shortlist of bidders is invited to present their solutions. While all les grandes fromages are being seduced by the glittering PowerPoint, the minion assigned to monitor The Plan opens it one morning and cries "bananaaa!" in horror as the dates all turn red. Off they go to raise the alarm. Les grandes fromages yell at the minion for speaking truth to power and then convey an emergency meeting to review the situation. As it's so urgent, people are flown in business-class from all over the country. A locked-doors session then ensues.

GF1: How did we get to this point?

GF2: It's just not acceptable.

Minion: We fixed the end date and we've used up a lot of time in requirements gathering.

GF3: Why didn't you tell us before now? For God's sake.

Minion: I did. You all get highlight reports each week.

GF1: Oh, is that what they were. Well, really. You should have escalated it.

GF2: Absolutely. It's just not acceptable.

Minion: I did. You asked me to refer it to the Steering Committee.

GF3: They haven't met for some time. Pressures of other work, it seems.

Minion: Nobody told me that.

GF1: Well, what are we going to do? Have you got any bright ideas?

GF2. You'd better come up with something. It's just not acceptable.

Minion: We might be able to deliver a Minimum Viable Product if we cut a few corners.

GF3: What on earth is a Minimum Viable Product?

Minion: It's usually shortened to MVP.

GF1: Oh, MVP. Well, why didn't you say so? Best get on with it then.

GF2: Agreed. The current situation is just not acceptable.

Minion: Bananaaa!

GF3: OK, off you go then.

The meeting breaks up and eventually an MVP is delivered six months late by a DevOps team using Agile methodology. However, as all the budget's been used up, the MVP becomes the end product.

That's how you piss 350 million up the wall. Those stakeholder workshops need attendees and options papers don't write themselves. But hey, why should the GFs care? They're sitting pretty under the shelter of the magic money tree.

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

Laura Kerr

I think he trains their staff.

HMRC: 30 months to prep Northern Ireland backstop systems, 24 for customs

Laura Kerr

Did someone mention burning bridges?

I can't get rid of the thought of Darth Mayder and Arlene duetting this:

It's on and off and on again

Going on and then

Taking all I got again

Bleeding me leaving me dry

You're hanging on for what you can

Dragging out the pain

Taking all I give again

Fakin' it, making me cry

Open the pod bay doors: Voice of HAL 9000 Douglas Rain dies at 90

Laura Kerr

Just what do you think you are doing, Dave?

New Zealand border cops warn travelers that without handing over electronic passwords 'You shall not pass!'

Laura Kerr

Re: In the near future

"I see you used profanity in a public forum on The Register. You are fined five credits for repeated violations of the verbal morality statute."

Surprise! VAT, customs likely to get a bit trickier in a Brexit no-deal world

Laura Kerr

Re: "selected group of importers"..given access to make "certain types" of declarations,

"And in line with the "testing" of the Universal Credit system they will be the simplest cases with the smallest number of transactions to the fewest number of countries."

Hey, I'm sure they'll at least have done a thorough stress test, where the devs all log in simultaneously one Friday afternoon and confirm that the system comes up.

Facebook brings banhammer down on over 650 pro-Iranian 'fake news' accounts

Laura Kerr
Big Brother

"include anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli, and pro-Palestinian themes, as well as support for specific US policies favorable to Iran, such as the US-Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA)"

iranian support doubleplusungood verging crimethink. kerr oldthinker, unbellyfeels TrumpSoc, values ownlife unvalues prolefeed. kerr uncrimestop, unblackwhite. send joycamp speedful.

Connected car data handover headache: There's no quick fix... and it's NOT just Land Rovers

Laura Kerr
Thumb Up

"When I buy a car, I want one that doesn't have any connection to the bloody Internet."

I agree with you - I can see no benefit at all in having my car spew data all over tinterwebz.

You might end up having to go retro in a few years, though. I have a Land Rover, but it's a Defender. Apart from the ECU, the only electronic gubbins it has are the immobiliser and tracker. A nice big chunky metal steering wheel cover and a Rat Trap transmission lock help keep it safe. Low-tech, analogue and effective. And that's how I like it.

Space, the final Trump-tier: America to beam up $8bn for Space Force

Laura Kerr

Re: One little sticking point


The Outer Space Treaty is a bad deal, a terrible deal, the worst ever deal, and unfairly discriminates against America. I will rip it up. Lunacy Reason will prevail! #covfefe

Boffins build a NAZI AI – wait, let's check that... OK, it's a grammar nazi

Laura Kerr

Re: The problem

Or Hinglish.

Laura Kerr

Re: Grammar Nazi?

'No, " Ve haff vays of making you talk, correctly!"'

Diese Kommas sind verboten! Bring ihn raus und erschieß ihn!

Die Korrektur:

No. "Ve haff vays of making you talk correctly!"

No big deal... Kremlin hackers 'jumped air-gapped networks' to pwn US power utilities

Laura Kerr

Re: More detail please

She did.

Laura Kerr

Re: More detail please

Hang on a tick. You could try crossing an air-gapped network by infecting a software package destined for it before it's taken across the gap, but then what?

Basic security (granted, that's a bit of an assumption) would require that you check everything coming in from outside, even a vendor's network. A simple checksum calculation would show if a package has been tampered with. For that to pass, the correct checksum would have to be replaced by that of the compromised package.

OK, that might be achievable. But once you've installed your malware, how do you pass commands to it?

TBH, this reads like Cold War reds under the bed. Time to set up camp at Greenham Common again?

BT's Patterson keeps his £1.3m wheelbarrow of bonus cash after all

Laura Kerr

Re: Avoid any company with "British" in the name.

BP - originally British Petroleum - seems to be still doing OK.

NASA spots asteroid on crash course with Earth – with just hours to go

Laura Kerr

Re: dont be a panicky idiot

Assuming you don't fire blanks, of course.

MH370 search ends – probably – without finding missing 777

Laura Kerr

Re: Someone probably knows where it is/was

"Well the Titanic was found after almost 100 years."

True, but that Titanic's position was known. And it's a lot bigger than a 777. If MH370 broke up on impact, the wreckage may sink into the silt and stay there until the oceans run dry.

IT systems still in limbo as UK.gov departments await Brexit policy – MPs

Laura Kerr

Dr Pangloss says

"both departments appear optimistic that they can deliver what's required to be ready for March 2019, whatever the outcome of the negotiations."

That one statement has lightened my day. Even if - IF - the 30th September deadline for a deal is met, AND it gets quickly ratified by all 27 EU members, there will be something like three or four months to 'deliver what's required.' We all know where that will end - and even if the 'implementation period' is used to cobble something together, it'll still go down to the wire and a be a bag of spanners when it goes live.

Unless of course 'what's required' consists solely of slideware festooned with meaningless stats and management speak, in which case there's plenty of time for that.

Warning to all Oxford Classics graduates - there's a reality missile heading your way. I just hope Holyrood can pull Scotland back from the brink.

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

Laura Kerr

Re: Missed a trick here

"recall a boss getting a remote piloted wheel chair at least!"

Yes, I remember that. IIRC, he disappeared down a manhole somewhere in Cornwall.

Laura Kerr

Re: Blockchain is the new XML

"hire a twat on £1200 per day"

Two months = eight weeks = 40 working days.

40 * 1200 = £48,000.

Good gig, that. They might have been twats, but they were smart twats.

Laura Kerr

Missed a trick here

Well, not quite. The parcel trolley sounds like a Good Thing.

But a good BOFH could have a ball with a building full of IoT tat. After hardening implementing security, he could have IoT wireless speakers acting as bugs, IoT fridges altering their temperature to cultivate salmonella, IoT copiers pumping out full-colour pron, IoT coffee machines emitting superheated steam while ordering extra supplies for Mission Control's own machine, IoT light switches plunging the room into darkness whenever the Boss opens his clueless yap, IoT heating controls turning room temperatures up to Incinerate and IoT door locks keeping the occupants of that room confined to the oven. Plus an IoT car park shutter that guillotines the Boss' new pride and joy.

Yup, definite potential.

UK 'meltdown' bank TSB's owner: Our IT migration was a 'success'

Laura Kerr

"I'm so glad they don't run something important, like a nuclear power station."

DON'T give them ideas.

Huawei CEO sings 'Bye, bye, mister American Pai', trims US C-suite

Laura Kerr

Re: "Think of the children" or something

"So that One mistake was to be dismissive of the IJN. In the inital conflict of the Second World War. The Pacific Theater was the only lagitimate one for the USA to be envolved in."

Um... you are aware that Hitler declared war on the US a couple of days after Pearl Harbor, aren't you?

'Dear Mr F*ckingjoking': UK PM Theresa May's mass marketing missive misses mark

Laura Kerr

Re: Not just mail merge

"Did anyone offer to fill the gap in your life?"

Sorry, but I have absolutely no idea what you're on about.

Laura Kerr

Not just mail merge

My turn to 'fess up - a long time ago, in a century far, far away, I was testing a middleware system that was supposed to receive text files, send them on to somewhere and record the file name in its audit database.

Yawn, boring stuff. But the thing was having a real hissy fit and just would not work, or log anything to say why. I thought it must be some sort of edge condition, so prepared a big batch of text files, named text1, text2 and so on, all the way up to text100. Then, in a flippant moment, I added one called 'bollocks'.

Guess which one worked.

Airbus plans beds in passenger plane cargo holds

Laura Kerr

Re: Glossing a commercial turd

" You go to bed on the plane like you would in a hotel room, but you wake up at destination, the idea behind London->Scotland sleeper trains of the past."

Not in the past at all - the Caledonian Sleeper service is still very much alive. I see it on the way to Euston most mornings.

Accenture, Capgemini, Deloitte creating app to register 3m EU nationals living in Brexit Britain

Laura Kerr

Re: Reduce the overcrowding

OK, so we send 'em all back... then what do we do when the EU nations reciprocate?

Laura Kerr

Re: Ah...Scrum of Scrums, Agile, DevOps.....

Every two weeks, a new edge-of-your-seat thrill, as Team A's new front end release breaks Team B's business logic, so Team B has to implement a fix that breaks Team C's database. That means Team C has to deploy a hotfix that renders Team A's front end unusable, so Team A deploys a fix that locks up Team B's code.

Team B patches the problem and introduces a few security holes as a bonus, causing Team C to throw a hissy fit because the patching and fixes now allow SQL injection, so a bunfight ensues over whose responsibility it is to harden security.

Then external security consultants take a look at the design and promptly flatten it with a simple pen test. Next, the pen test report detailing all the holes is deemed as needed no further action by a suit who thinks SQL injection is a new DVD release, while the poor sods administering the system keep it cobbled together with a collection of cron jobs running fifty-three scripts written in seven different languages.

Then when the inevitable data theft occurs, the aforementioned sods catch the heat for it.

I think we need a Private Fraser 'we're doomed' icon.

2001: A Space Odyssey has haunted pop culture with anxiety about rogue AIs for half a century

Laura Kerr

Re: Ah well, back to my PowerPoint slides

"However I watched it on a bigger TV a year or so ago and it felt that what I was really watching was an object of great beauty being carefully assembled."

Spot on. If you ever get the chance, see it in a cinema. It's mind-blowing on the big screen.

Laura Kerr

"There was a soundtrack available, I bought it on CD some years ago."

I've got it on vinyl. I think it was the first LP I had.

We need to talk, Brit Parliamentary committee tells Mark Zuckerberg

Laura Kerr

Re: About time

"it being invoked on Zuk would be a reason for a major celebration."

I can't stand the smug little git, but there's one wee problem - we can't sling him in chokey unless we get him over here in the first place. We're a bit short of gunboats these days, so unless he comes voluntarily there's not much HMG can do, other than block Facebook in the UK, which would be political suicide, or declare him persona non grata, which isn't going to worry him that much. He'll probably throw his UK minions to the wolves, though.

China to offer recoverable satellites-as-a-service

Laura Kerr
Thumb Up

Re: An oaken shield you say?

I wish I could upvote that more than once.

Now get your coat.

Administrator PwC chops Maplin staff

Laura Kerr

A vero sad day.

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

Laura Kerr

"the hospital treatment he needs"...

... is likely to involve some lube and a bottle of phosphate that has a rather long nozzle.

BOFH: Honourable misconduct

Laura Kerr

Re: I think I even have a script for that.

"For example, making Simon's alter ego a female would tick a huge box with the BBC in terms of representing women in central roles, without seriously impacting on the story lines."

Very true, but - I spent a long time trying that out, and it just didn't work; as Steven is subordinate to Simon, it was difficult to get anywhere without overtones of sexism and bullying creeping in. Same with the KZEEEERT - the stories worked better with that strictly rationed. There are other outbreaks of violence to compensate, though :-)

There is a female central role, and she's on the same level as Simon. Similar attitude to corporate silliness too, which makes for a good relationship. She's just as intimidating as Simon, but in a different way.


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