Seriously, an internet connected shoe, for £300. Fuck off.
84 posts • joined 31 May 2017
Email list based groups are fine for a small level of traffic. Once the number of emails per day gets above a certain limit then you have to invest time in curating the input, via email rules, switching to daily digests, or other mechanisms to control your inbox. It's much easier to deal with the data deluge using a forum based system that has a topic subscription mechanism and other ways to manage notifications. It may be OK when it's you, Nigel and those two other blokes from down the pub, but pinned topics, FAQs, shared documents, hosted videos, etc are all reasons why email list groups don't scale well, and forums do.
You are correct, if users choose the words then there is a big reduction in the name space on offer. My password generator extracts random words from /usr/share/dict/words and combines them with a few digits and punctuation characters. Very often I get words that I would never have chosen myself, or didn't even know existed. It is tempting to try generating another password with something more memorable, but then you are "playing with randomness", which defeats the purpose of using random words. Instead, I look the word up, learn something new, and that process seems to make it stick in my brain. Who knew that "calp" is a type of limestone, dark grey or bluish black in colour, that is found in Ireland?
I suspect they were talking about magnetic core memory. It would have been 24,000 tiny magnetic rings strung on a mesh of set and sense wires. Each ring/core can store 1-bit of data. http://www.ricomputermuseum.org/Home/interesting_computer_items/magnetic-core-memory
"the teachers had blank faces when I asked them some machine code questions"
I had the same problem. At O level I was expected to write a simple BASIC program on a Commodore PET that showed I knew how to use GOTO and GOSUB commands. Instead I wrote a picture editor and printer driver in machine code - my teacher had no idea of the complexity of the task and I got a bare pass.
At A level I wrote a machine code version of Conway's game of life, instead of a BASIC program that did stock control. The teacher had no idea what I was doing. I got lower marks than all the people on the course that I helped to implement the merge sort that was required to get a top grade.
"Little tip if you use Gmail... you can add indicators to your email address by using a '+'"
It's a good tip, which I try to use as often as possible. However, many websites have email address checkers built into the web submission form that reject the '+' character as invalid. I've tried emailing site owners with a link to the RFC that defines valid characters for email addresses, but haven't had much response. By not much response, I mean absolutely nothing, not a single reply.
"WAH! I copied the .COBOL back to .COB and started over again. As I knew what I wanted to do this time, it only took about a day to re-do what I had deleted."
When this has happened to me, I end up with better code than I had before. Re-doing the work gives you a better perspective. Even if functionally no different it will be cleaner, well commented, and laid out more consistently. I sometimes now do it deliberately (although just saving the first new version, not deleting it) to clean up the code.
"Knowing how something works is - very obviously - not the same as being able to repair it"
But it certainly helps to know what a job involves when you have to get someone else to do it. I can do many repair jobs on a car but some are out of reach because of specialist tools or lack of manuals. But I can make a much more informed decision, when choosing someone to do the job for me, if I know how it all works in the first place.
"you do this once a year right? use one of the other computers."
You don't work from home do you - where is this 'other computer' of which you speak? Oh yes, it's a 4hr round trip to the nearest office. Even once a year is an unnecessary pain in the arse compared to actually getting your IT to work for everyone in the company, no matter where they worked.
Yes, many copies. Just going through this after my father' s death. The solicitor has been completely useless, HSBC's bereavement service an utter shambles, and more than one party we have had to notify have needed a second death certificate after loosing the first one.
Oh, and you needn't have bothered so much about problems with renewing license keys. Once you'd figured out the relationship between the modules and their keys, it wasn't difficult to clone a valid key for one module and activate any other module you wanted.
[ In a future On-Call, I could tell the tale of how we managed to got hold of the Tetraplan system source code. ]
At the other end of the scale you have Continuous Payment Authority. They can take as much as they want from your credit card without contacting you for authority, just notifying you of the charge. None of the protection that you get with Direct Debit payments, and if your credit card is declined then *you* are in breach of contract. Popular with money grabbing insurance companies.
Tetraplan by any chance? I used to do custom development of their accounts package using their weird conversion of BASIC to C via convoluted macros. The C-ISAM link to I-SQL trick was a common dodge so that a real forms entry system and report writer could be used instead of the horrors of the Tetraplan code.
I'm surprised no one has mentioned waze - it's much more focussed on the driving experience than Google Maps. The community call in of hazards ahead works well to alert you of weather, traffic and other "things to be aware of" (eg lurking boys in blue). It's prediction of trip time is usually within a few minutes, even on a journey of hundreds of km. And it will re-route you around road closures and very bad traffic conditions - saved me a few times when the M25 gets randomly shut in the wee hours with no hint of a diversion route.
You've fallen into the trap. You say "we import" but in fact, it is "the EU import". We trade with the outside world under EU treaties. Those treaties allow for the easy importation of goods to the EU, and therefore to us. Once we are outside the EU we will not have those treaties in place and import/export, from everywhere, will become a lot more difficult. Best case is that we can renegotiate to get the same deal as we had in the EU. But we would have to do this on an individual basis with every country we trade with, and that takes time, and negotiators that we do not have. Worse case is we have to fallback to WTO tariffs - that is a very bad position to be in.
While travelling around the Scottish highlands a few years ago I stopped on the side of a road, running around the upper levels of a loch, to admire the view. Obviously a regular test route, two fighters snaked noisily through the valley at high speed. Were they at a low level? I was looking down on them.
A blank tape or disc would have been noticed by my customers in just a few hours. So, when you didn't have anything to ship, the process was this: Start writing something that looked like the correct install files to media, open media door part way through (we're talking about the 5 1/4" floppy and QIC-150 era here) to generate an IO error. Put broken media in an inappropriate mailing package. Dance on the package so there is an obvious footprint and other plausible wear and tear marks on the outside. Send package. Act surprised, and blame The Post Office, when media is not readable by the customer. Before the advent of downloads over a "network", that would buy you a couple of days development time. Who said we weren't agile back then?
A few years back I was at a customer site helping to set up a nice new fangled Unix box to replace the IBM mainframe that was their current system. While working in the machine room we saw smoke coming from an IBM disk system - size of a washing machine, probably about 40Mb of data. We all evacuated and called the fire brigade. I was surprised to see that the first person to arrive on the scene was an IBM engineer, summoned by some automatic hardware failure alert. He was frantically trying to extract the removable disk pack when the firemen did turn up and forcefully pulled him away from the smouldering disk drive.
"Dropping lumps of sodium into dishes of water"
Our chemistry teacher was a small man, but liked big experiments. He took a cork sized chunk of sodium out of the oil filled jar, and cut a small piece off - about the size of a dried pea. We watched it fizz around in a petri dish for a few seconds. Ho hum. Then he told us that potassium was more reactive. To demonstrate this we were led outside, with a similar, oil filled jar of cork sized potassium chunks, one of which he lobbed into the swimming pool. Bang - science!
That's true for the general business case, but this is IBM's service division where the cost of the IT focused jobs that could be outsourced is way more than 2-3%. I believe their target was 80% but it is now 60%. That makes it very attractive for the period of time when the low wage economy is working for them. Once the wage bill starts rising then the figures don't add up any more, but the IBM execs that pushed this scam through will be long gone by then.
I don't know the details but think you are probably correct - there is no radical new tech here. So, if it is so simple to make, why didn't they just do it? Rather than take a load of money off willing punters, and then string them along, with no product (ever) in sight. Even if not intended at first offering, this debacle now has SCAM printed all over it.
When I first started learning to drive I was sure that it was going to be easy as I had watched my dad drive for years and was very keen to apply what I had seen to my initial lesson. But I had a big problem at the first corner, although I was fully aware of the steering wheel motion causing a change in direction of the car, which seemed so easy and obvious, my real life road experience was on a bicycle. Holding the wheel at the classic quarter to three position and steering by only moving it a few degrees, just as I would with a pair of handle bars, required immediate intervention by my instructor. What had seemed so obvious, was incorrect because I my perceived understanding was missing some vital information, and my application of prior experience was plain wrong. Easily corrected by the instructor but probably something that should have been covered before I got in the car. [ Note this was a long time ago, before such things as driving video games where I might have picked up some more obvious clues. ]
"Facebook and the internet are two different things."
You know that, and I know that. But sadly there are many social media casualties that are clueless to this kind of distinction. And not just Facebook=The Internet. How many times do you see people "go to a website" by typing the address into the google search box and hitting return. Then choosing the top, or some other random result, from what gets served up. The ability to type the address into the browser's URL box and then click "visit website" is an alien notion to their understanding of Google=The Internet.
They know exactly what they are doing. They understand completely that a universal encryption backdoor is not acceptable. But they will keep on pushing this in public until, at some point, they will give us the options of 1) Be a good citizen, don't use encryption; 2) Use an FBI approved encryption method (with a backdoor); 3) Use any other encryption method (you're automatically a person of interest). If they make the penalties for option 3 scary enough, then the sheeple will choose 1 or 2. Their concession to device vendors who don't want to be forced into only 1 or 2, will be that when you first initialise your new shiny you will get the three options:
1) Don't encrypt this device (not recommended)
2) Use FBI approved secure encryption (default)
3) Use non-approved encryption (this can lead to seizure of your device by security officials and severe criminal penalties if the encryption key is withheld)
Sorry to tell you, but if you thought that Win 7 was a step in a downward direction, then grab a parachute for Windows 10. I've spent 2 days trying to figure out why the latest FCU won't install on my Lenovo P50. Apart from two, seemingly random, hex error codes, I have no clue as to where to look. The Microsoft support pages are vague to the point of obscure on the issue... something, something, device driver, something. How about pointing me to an error log file?
But it's the IBM way. A project manager with the problem: "If it takes 9 months for a woman to conceive and then give birth to a baby" then it stands to reason that all you need to do is contract this out to three women and get the job done in 1/3rd the time. Simple Maths.
There is a difference between well written and well documented complex code, and poorly written and badly documented complex code. Simplicity is a great goal, and there is usually no reason that the non-clever, easy to understand route shouldn't work out to be the most efficient. But there are cases where trick code is necessary - just make sure it is thoroughly documented for those that come after you. Very often it will be yourself, some years later, with no clue as to why you did what you did back then - you have to write your explanation to satisfy that future idiot.
My O level project was writing an on screen editor that allowed a Commodore PET to bypass the standard font settings (such as they are with a dot-matrix device) and create custom graphics characters for printing. Mostly in hand written machine code (we didn't have an assembler) to drive the screen and printer. I got a poor mark because they couldn't understand it - I should have written a BASIC program to read in and some numbers and plot a pretty graph like everyone else.
My A level project was also confusing to the examiners who seemed to be only looking for a stock inventory system (or anything that allowed you to show off your "skill" in producing a bubble sort) written in BASIC on a CP/M machine. Instead I wrote an assembler version of Conway's Game of Life (BASIC was too slow for real time updates) and got a lower mark than three of my fellow students for whom I had written half of their projects. I probably should have included a bubble sort in my assembler code.
I've tried Mint a couple of times but didn't like the inability to make a major version change without backing up all your user data and doing a destructive install. An in-place version update is possible with Ubuntu, why not Mint - or have they fixed that with this release?
And if they've ditched support for KDE then that is another "no from me".
I've been fortunate to have had one of those managers. I was on a two week secondment to our US team and wondered why everyone there was so happy and motivated, compared to the grumpy crew I worked with in the UK. For instance - our manager refused to hire someone we had personally recommended, for their technical skills, because she didn't like the socks he wore to the interview. She also had no clue as to what we actually did, in stark contrast with the US manager; who I once spotted walking through the support centre and, seeing that one of the incoming call queues had a long wait time, he pulled up a chair, put on a headset and dealt with the backlog. First day on my return to the UK I made a request to move permanently to the US, so glad that it got granted.
Hiding a kill switch in case of no payment reminds me of a coding contract that was starting to wobble and it was decided to make sure we would get paid by removing access to the source code that was being developed on the customers machine (it was some Sperry/Unisys machine that we didn't have access to in-house). Encryption options were few and far between in the late 1980s so we simply used compress to obfuscate the data. We did this every evening before leaving work in the knowledge that the backups ran overnight and would only contain the "encrypted" data.
Sure enough the customer refused to pay the next instalment, and said they would continue on their own with what we had done so far. We said, go ahead. Despite engaging the top support people to "de-crypt" the files, they never figured out that they were just compressed, and had to cough up the rest of the contracted money to get the source code back.
Have a look out for a repair cafe in your area. My local one is staffed by volunteers who have skills in diagnosing and fixing electrical items. No formal lessons, but you can learn a lot from the old hands who have previously worked in the electronics industry. We're crying out for young 'uns who want to learn how to fix things rather than throw them away.
You can't compare a referendum to a general election. In a general election people will be swayed by an "of the moment" issue, or use their vote as a protest, knowing that they can change their mind in five years (or May-be less) time. A referendum decision is much more final. Making it absolutely clear that this is a one-shot deal, and ignoring the initial advisory status of the referendum, is one of the big failings on all sides - both political and from all of the commentators.
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