* Posts by albegadeep

45 posts • joined 10 Mar 2017

How I got horizontal with a gimp and untangled his cables


Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

"I once used one of my cats to help run... cable..."

Named Five, by any chance?

Junior dev decides to clear space for brewing boss, doesn't know what 'LDF' is, sooo...


Re: Killing a database?

"Paranoid? If there is a reason for your paranoia it is no paranoia..."

"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean no one is out to get you."

Boss helped sysadmin take down horrible client with swift kick to the nether regions


Re: Am I missing something?

"The sort that think progress bars actually reflect the work undertaken... or that thinks using a CLI is the very essence of doing clever things"

I really do expect the progress bar to reflect what's going on in the background. It's kind of the point of having it in the first place - if it's wrong, why have it at all?

Using a CLI requires a certain amount of knowledge and cleverness that most users don't seem to have. As a result, people who can use a CLI tend to be the more knowledgeable and technical ones. (Though thinking you're clever because you use a CLI is a bad sign.)

Tech support chap given no training or briefing before jobs, which is why he was arrested


Re: Back in my day

I carried a SAK for a number of years, until I got a Leatherman Super Tool as a gift. The steel is so much better that the blades stay sharp for WAY longer. The SAK promptly went into a drawer. (Still have it, 15+ years later.) I also received a multitool pen (one of these: https://www.amazon.com/Multi-Tool-Multi-Function-Tool-Multifunction/dp/B001IYGAOM). I carry both at all times (except where prohibited, of course). The tiny blades of the pen are a fantastic complement to the larger tools in the Leatherman.

Tech support made the news after bomb squad and police showed up to 'defuse' leaky UPS


Re: Obligatory (Units of measurement)

There is a long-standing tradition of unusual, but Vulture-approved, units of measurements:


Oddly, there's no entries for time. "Sparrow's fart" might well be a good standard for short timespans - any suggestions for longer ones? Paint drying, bad speeches, Shelby light bulb?

Blame everything on 'computer error' – no one will contradict you


Re: One of those sounds like a computer error

"...never fill the machine with anything other than £20 notes."

Yup, my bank does this. I'm in the US, and my bank's ATMs only allow cash withdrawals in $20 increments.

Boss sent overpaid IT know-nothings home – until an ON switch proved elusive


Re: Way Back...

"The switched plug(s) is/are supposed to be mounted upside down."

Where do they do that? In my part of the US, there's no rule about which way is up! Most houses '90 and older are smiley-face orientation for all outlets (ground pin down), but more recent ones are sometimes ground-pin-up. Wiring the garage, I specifically researched this topic; apparently it's electrician's preference here. Switched outlets are not uncommon, are almost never marked, and can be either both outlets switched or just one.

Sysadmin unplugged wrong server, ran away, hoped nobody noticed


Re: anything from 1A to 13A

"The logical solution is a "bus" architecture"

I think we're talking about pretty much the same thing, but maybe I wasn't clear on my original statement. Here's an example of what I mean: My garage has 14 outlets, each designed for 120V 20A. I'm likely to pull some serious current in total (electric heater, air compressor, and lathe all at once, for instance), so it's split in 4 circuits, each with its own 20A breaker. 2-conductor (plus ground) wiring rated for 20A starts at the breaker, goes to the first outlet, from there to the second, and so on, stopping at the last outlet on the circuit - "radial" as opposed to ring. Pull over 20A on any one outlet, and a breaker trips, but there's 80A available in total.

Most equipment (house or garage) has a built-in, hard-wired cable rated higher than what the equipment should ever pull - but no fuse. Lamps, radios, and other low-power devices often have smaller cables; I can see why a fuse would be a good idea, in this case.

In contrast, most computer equipment has a cable that is removable at both ends. These are typically larger than those for lamps and radios, but are a fairly standard cable size and (presumably) rating - any "computer cable" can be used in any application, because the protection is provided by the breaker, and the outlet and in-wall wiring can take the breaker's trip current. If the equipment itself needs protecting, the manufacturer builds in a fuse to the equipment, not the cable.

(Side note: most house outlets are 15A; 20A outlets have a slightly different pin configuration. 20A outlets will accept 15A plugs, but not the other way around.)


Re: anything from 1A to 13A

In the developed world on the west side of the pond, we use radial circuits, with wire designed to take more current than the breaker's trip point. Cables/plugs from machine to wall (and outlets, for that matter) are also designed for full current, so they don't need a fuse - and are therefore interchangeable. If the individual equipment needs a fuse, the manufacturer puts one in the equipment.

'I crashed AOL for 19 hours and messed up global email for a week'


AOL memories

Well do I remember AOL. We had it back in the '90s. Used a 2400 bps modem to connect, and everything took FOREVER. My parents finally got fed up and bought a 28.8 kbps modem - and got no increase in speed. We rapidly switched to a local ISP, which was WAY faster.

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

Thumb Up

Re: It can be the simplest of things ...

"and those who can't count to 1023 on their fingers."

Oh, good, I thought I was the only one who counted in binary on my fingers! Icon: 16!

User fired IT support company for a 'typo' that was actually a real word


Re: Away in a manager

At the risk of adding TNT to a flame war - nano. Not kidding. It's simple, easy to use, and the most common keyboard shortcuts are always displayed at the bottom of the screen. (Of course, I rarely use regexes.)

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


Re: Mirror C: to X: first

"historically you'd better hope there's external SCSI, spare drive bays, or similar."

My first server was a 100MHz P1 bought from university surplus for $10, in 2000. A Compaq with all kinds of weird custom parts inside (memory and processor on a riser card!), and the boot disk was a SCSI hard drive too small for practical use. So we added a second drive to an available IDE port. No extra drive bays - no problem, just zip-tied it to the existing drive bays. Ran like that for 5+ years, never had any problems with it. (Eventually replaced with a P3, which I am currently in the process of replacing. It's amazing how low-powered a small web/mail/file server can be.)

User asked why CTRL-ALT-DEL restarted PC instead of opening apps


Re: Feeling Old...

Wasn't it TSR who back in the day published Dungeons & Dragons?

Ah, memories of the Gold Box Games. Produced by SSI (Strategic Simulations, Inc.), they used 2nd Edition AD&D, licensed from TSR (Tactical Studies Rules). The last game actually used VGA graphics and sound cards. Ah, the stacks of 5.25" floppy disks those used. I still play the series occasionally, though I use the Forgotten Realms Silver Archives version and DOSBox.

My PC is broken, said user typing in white on a white background


Flaming computer

Had an acquaintance pull a very old computer out of storage. She set it up, plugged it in, and turned on the monitor and computer. Monitor simply showed a blinking cursor in the upper left for a couple seconds... before a sheet of flame came out the front of the computer. A ceramic capacitor on the back end of the motherboard had popped (literally blew the top off it), igniting the quarter-inch-thick layer of dust inside the computer.

I personally once took a power supply to a computer shop, asking if they would test it. The tech picked it up, turned around and took two steps toward the back, then turned back around and set it on the counter. "It's fried" he said - pointing to the scorch marks on the outside that I hadn't noticed during removal.

Secret weekend office bonk came within inch of killing sysadmin


Re: fibre or fiber

For speakers of English west of the pond, it's "fiber" - for networking, storage, or diet. Though "fibber" is the same on both sides.


Re: And sometimes the flood is concrete

Thinking of the concrete-encased equipment:

C3PO: "Oh. They've encased him in Carbonite. He should be quite well protected. If he survived the freezing process, that is."

Ignore that FBI. We're the real FBI, says the FBI that's totally the FBI


Re: Emails from the FBI

"Is it normal in the States for government departments to send out emails and messages to the general population?"

No, unless you specifically signed up for receiving emails. And even then, it would be a generic broadcast message (local city council letting you know about a road being blocked for a few days, for instance) rather than a demand for you to do something.

In my experience, emails asking me to do something don't have a chance of being legitimate unless my name is at the top, and the "from" email address actually matches who it's supposedly from. Even then, even when I believe the message to be legit, I usually manually type the web address (from my memory) rather than click the email's links.

User stepped on mouse, complained pedal wasn’t making PC go faster


"My wife was so bad for this that I labelled the plugs."

I routinely do this, just for me, so I don't have to trace down what plug is what. Especially for the computer desk - desktop, screen, speakers, router, server, printer... you think you unplugged the printer but it was the server instead... Masking tape and a sharpie makes quick work of that problem.

My band saw has an attached light - the light's plug is labeled. Every outlet in the garage is labeled with what circuit it's on. Kitchen outlets, which are on 2 different GFCIs, are labeled with which GFCI they're on.


Re: Old age + Experience != transferable skills

" telephone system still requires me to dial a '1' to tell it I'm calling the next city"

Even more confusing - where I live, some numbers in my area code are "local" and some are "long distance". "Long distance" numbers require 1+[area code], while "local" ones won't allow it - same area code!.



"PC" = paper cassette, in this case. Being in the US, we don't use A4 paper, only letter and legal. (Usually.) It'd say PC LOAD then the paper size required - LETTER, LEGAL, A4, etc. Apparently got users confused - "I wasn't printing a letter from my PC, I was printing a spreadsheet!"


From the glossary in the book Science Made Stupid:

Circular logic: See logic, circular.

Logic, circular: See circular logic.

As for cryptic error messages, try HP Laserjet's "PC LOAD LETTER" (it's out of letter-size paper) or SAP's "Local error from FTP subsystem" (local directory to copy file to, set by default in the program, doesn't exist).

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the data centre temp's delightful


Re: Tonnage

"Surely when they teach science in school they teach using SI units in this day and age? Or do they still do everything in feet, pounds etc?"

In the US - yes, both. Gravity is 9.8 m/s^2 or 32.2 ft/s^2. Road distances are in miles. Doctor's office weighs in pounds and ounces, and measures height in feet and inches. Yet most physics classes are taught (primarily) in SI units. The common joke here is that only pharmaceutical companies and drug dealers use grams - the rest of the country uses pounds and ounces.

"...an anachronism from the colonies."

That probably is from here, but we haven't been colonies for over 200 years. "The States" would be an acceptable replacement.



Re: Lawyer firm names

Then there's Dewey, Cheatem & Howe, of Car Talk fame.

Hot chips crashed servers, but were still delicious


Re: tale of the cleaner

Had a contractor replace the windows in my house a few years ago. Wife was home but I wasn't. When done in the study (where the desktop and server are), he plugged his big, high-power shop vac into the only available outlet he spotted - and when the vac wouldn't start and the "power strip" started beeping, told my wife it was faulty. Of course, it wasn't a power strip - it was a UPS designed to handle one computer... Sure enough, power dropped enough to reboot the server.

Disk drive fired 'Frisbees of death' across data centre after storage admin crossed his wires


Re: @Wolfclaw

"...they all wore bow ties."

A co-worker used to repair photocopiers for a living, and was required to wear a tie. One day, a machine started up while he was working on it, the end of his tie got caught in a roller, and started pulling him in. He managed to flail around the back of the machine and get the power plug out of the wall. Upon returning to his office, he asked his co-workers how they kept this from happening to them. One yanked his own tie - which promptly popped right off. "Clip-ons" he said.

User dialled his PC into a permanent state of 'Brown Alert'


Re: Brownouts

My most memorable bad translation was from putting together a model helicopter for a college project. "Insert M2 rod end pin type" it said. Being Americans, it took a bit of head-scratching to realize that M2 meant 2 millimeter, and "pin type" was a bare threaded rod as opposed to a ball link. In other words, "Insert pin end of pin-type (not ball link), 2 mm rod."


Re: spreadsheets and calculators

"A colleague who can happily bend Matlab (or Octave) to his will, or write C to solve a knotty numerical problem, still has a habit of using Excel as a tabular repository of unconnected data."

I've coded in Java, C, C++, VBA, Perl, Smalltalk, Pentium assembler, and several more, own and operate my own Linux server, etc ect. - and I still do this all the time. Excel (or OO/LO Calc) is a convenient medium for storing tables of information. Use what works.

Magic hash maths: Dedupe does not have to mean high compute. Wait, what?


Bucket or Bouquet?

"Bouquet residence, the lady of the house speaking..." Hyacinth Bucket, Keeping Up Appearances

Amazon recalls dodgy solar eclipse shades that offer no eye protection



Some of the glasses are listed as being made by legitimate manufacturers, and have their logos and ISO cert info on them - but are counterfeit, and possibly dangerous.


'Adversarial DNA' breeds buffer overflow bugs in PCs


"New Rose Hotel"

Exactly what came to mind for me. Gibson's short story included (if I recall correctly) a hacked gene sequencer located in a rival company reprogrammed to quietly crank out a deadly virus...

Can GCHQ order techies to work as govt snoops? Experts fear: 'Yes'

Paris Hilton

I'm a telecom operator?

"Section 261 of the Act defines that a "telecommunications operator" is anyone who provides or controls a communications network of any kind."

I have a home network that I control and administrate. Does that make me a telecom operator???

(Thankfully, I'm in the US, and we don't have crazy surveillance laws... never mind...)

Four techies flummoxed for hours by flickering 'E' on monitor


Re: "by the size of his Micro Channel Adapter"

My first hardware install was a sound card into a 486 DX33. Physical install went fine, Win 3.1 played the startup sound, my brother and I gave each other high-fives... and suddenly File Explorer was "not found". Not a single program worked. Huh. Restarted - no Windows. In our inexperience, we didn't know what IRQs were, much less realize that having the sound card on the same IRQ as the hard drive could cause problems, like corrupting the entire Windows directory. My parents were NOT happy.

I still have my folks' Atari Video Pinball machine (white version). 7 built-in games, no cartridge capability. Still worked last time I tried it.

Blue Cross? Blue crass: Health insurer thought it would be a great idea to mail plans on USB sticks


Something similar just happened

I read this story a couple days ago and shook my head. Then yesterday, a colleague gave me a packet (opened!) of information from a vendor about a piece of equipment we purchased. It contains (among other things) a USB drive with the job number on it. Huh. I wonder what's on it... (Verifying autorun is disabled, verifying that file extensions are shown, inserting mystery drive...) Hmm. A couple raw data files, and an executable in a folder named "Service Software"... uh, no thanks, I'll pass...

(Actual, true story, happening right now.)

Spies do spying, part 97: The CIA has a tool to track targets via Wi-Fi


Don't cellphones already do this all the time?

"Rough location" determined by wifi, even if GPS is turned off. It seems accurate to within a hundred meters or so, close enough to know within one house or so where I live.

PC rebooted every time user flushed the toilet



(Floppy cable upside-down) Yep, seen that one a few times myself. Learned the first time from DOING it myself.


Troubleshooting networking issues...

at a relative's. Nice hot summer days, his network (multiple routers and hubs, lots of devices), set up a couple years before, would intermittently drop out, or simply lose packets for a few seconds. Was driving us all nuts.

I started plugging my laptop into various hubs/routers and running hour-long ping sessions to other machines. Finally found two connections between hubs that were the issue. Pulled out the network plugs and took a REALLY good look.

Turns out, in each case, he had made the cables himself and one wire hadn't quite gotten all the way to the end of the plug. When it got hot enough (one of these was in an attic area!), the dodgy connection between the pin and the conductor would shift just enough to drop out. Recrimped two plugs, and everything's been fine since.

Humanity uploaded an AI to Mars and lets it shoot rocks with lasers


Re: Obligatory xkcd

Or, for that matter, this one

I have to admit, my first reaction to turning a "nuclear-powered space tank" equipped with a laser powerful enough to vaporize rocks over to an AI was "NOOOOOOO!!!!" And then it occurred to me that the laser's range is probably only a few feet/meters. Ah, well, not in my backyard, well that's alright then.

Fighter pilot shot down laptops with a flick of his copper-plated wrist


"ejection tie from Martin-Baker"

I'm imagining this as a fantastic bit of marketing - tie should say "Martin-Baker worked for me".

Microsoft Master File Table bug exploited to BSOD Windows 7, 8.1


Re: Applications are vulnerable?

that thing about the browser and OS being so tightly integrated that it can't be removed was just a story.

Then how come, under XP, when IE hung up, Word and Excel documents wouldn't load, but everything else worked fine? Happened to me loads of times. Luckily my employer finally allowed us to use Firefox, and a lot of problems went away.

Dell BIOS update borks PCs


Had Apple do this to us once.

OS X major update caused the hard drive access to run at <1% of former speed - but with no read/write errors. I copied the whole drive over the network to my desktop, took 3 days. Apple claimed, with a straight face, that OS updates "often" caused previously undetected problems to show up. Took it to the GEEEnius bar, they ran their HD diagnostics, said it was a failed hard drive. They showed me the results - there was literally only one single word, "FAILED" in giant red letters. Charged us $150 for a new hard drive. Came back to pick it up after, and they wanted $200 instead. We made a scene, manager came in and gave it to us for the originally-quoted $150. Got it home and it was a bigger drive than agreed; I suspect they were out of the smaller ones and upgraded us without permission.

Meanwhile, my 7+-year-old desktop, assembled by me and running Ubuntu, continues to chug away... Wife hasn't updated OS X or her iPhone since...

We're 90 per cent sure the FCC's robocall kill plan won't have the slightest impact


Maybe a change to Caller ID:

If the caller ID matches the ANI, send it on through. If it doesn't, put a star in front of the caller ID. Then have an option for blocking any starred numbers, or doing a Captcha.

Linux-using mates gone AWOL? Netflix just added Linux support


Netflix on Linux nothing new.

I've been using Pipelight to watch Netflix with Firefox on Ubuntu for quite some time. Recently (month or two ago?), I found that it's no longer necessary - just turn on a user agent switcher to make Netflix think it's Windows. Sounds like now that isn't necessary either.

Now if only I could play my Flash games in Firefox without Pipelight...

User lubed PC with butter, because pressing a button didn't work


Re: I'm an Excel abuser

"I wonder if it works in LibreOffice Calc as well."

Seems like it did. It just used basic worksheet functions. (I use LO at home, Microsloth at work.) It used blocks of data - one line of 9 columns per sudoku cell - to essentially do the "dot method", where a 0 is "not possible", 1 is "possible", and 2 is "this is the right value". One block checked for a 2 (known value) in that cell, setting the rest to zeros. Another checked to see if it was the only 1 left for that cell. Repeat for row, column, and 3x3 grid. Results of the last check were part of the input for the first one (circular reference, illegal unless running in iterative calculation mode). You entered the starting conditions into a standard-looking sudoku grid, which was used as the other possible input to the first check, and read the results from another standard-looking grid which monitored the last check. The hardest part was writing a reset function - change the N in one cell to a Y, and watch it reinitialize itself.


I'm an Excel abuser

Definitely, hands-down. Though as much in the drug sense as in using it in unintended ways. Right now I have a macro-based timer running. I once wrote a sudoku-solving spreadsheet - without macros. (Tricky, that. Hint: use iterative calculation and circular references.) Also a Mastermind clone, with variants from the original 4-wide, 6-color to 40-wide, 20-color, also macro-free.

In more mundane usage, I keep a running list of all my current and previous (complex) tasks, complete with job numbers and current status. Coworkers are always amazed when I can pull up a job number from 5 years ago, on a project I didn't even remember doing, in less than 30 seconds.

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