* Posts by Nematode

45 posts • joined 15 May 2018

Brekkie TV host Lorraine Kelly wins IR35 ruling against HMRC, adds fuel to freelance techies' ire over tax reforms


Hmmm. Bl**dy h**l. There I was expecting a discussion on IR35, and all I learn is a new set of slang that has passed me by in all my 64 years. How come, and this is a criticism of all News Site "Comment" sections, all of you guys have the time, during the normal working day, to post all these (mostly fatuous and thoroughly unimportant) posts, and of course to read the article in the first place, and, actually, to be on El Reg site in the noughth place. Or don't you have work to do? Actually, no I don't, I'm retired and managed to go my whole contractor career without an IR35 case, phew. (OK, some, but not all, will have a genuine excuse.) And what's the proportion of permies vs. contractors on this thread? So, for those who don't have a valid reason for being here, think - are you a professional, or an MGB? Don't bother replying, I'm not going to rise to the bait. You're probably saying, no, we don't need to be serious, it's alright to have a bit of fun. My point entirely. On either Company or Client time. Ducks brickbats and thumbs downs. And off to work out what I can do next out of all the post-retirement possibilities....

Customer: We fancy changing a 25-year-old installation. C'mon, it's just one extra valve... Only wafer thin...


"They are designed by people that are engineers in the more traditional sense, not software people." Or just as likely (more so in my experience), software peple who haven't got a clue about the real world. Unfortunately some of the software people I was dealing with with the system I worked on were the main dev engineers. Common problem: 12 controller cards in a cardfile, 11 are operative, the 12th was a standby failover card. Software problem on one of the 11? Fails over, then takes the backup card down too, and with it, the plant. Or the asynchronous "set this valve to X position" call, which then allows the next line of code to execute without the valve yet being as required. Had to add in a synchronous call function into the basic opsys - after 2 years of this system being in existence. How did the deve engs not know the set statement had to complete and get feedback from the valve position. In a major control company. In a Process Engineering environment. Like they had been working in for 20 years+


All sounds entirely normal commissioning to me. I am still suffering the physical-after effects of when the valve that moved, that shouldn't have, was a 36" diameter gas line valve from one of the major offshore high pressure (70+ bar) transport lines coming to the beach. And why is this noteworthy? Cos it was in 1988.

El Reg deep dive: Everything you need to know about UK.gov's pr0n block


Is the Digital Minister's name seriously Hancock...

Guess who's working on a health data-slurping digital tool? Bzzt! Nope, it's the UK Department for Work and Pensions


Nice idea to use evidence in assessing benefits for the truly ill. Evidence is arbitrarily and constructively ignored at present. As someone who is fortunately retired but if I wasn't a major health event a year ago (and I mean major, only just surviving it) would have had me entirely unable to work now, but by the DSS rules I would actually have no chance of getting benefits, I would welcome an evidence based assessment system. Chance of this actually happening? Nil.

HMRC: We 'rigorously tested' IR35 tax-check tool... but have almost nothing to show for it


HMRC simply do not care

Sysadmin's three-line 'annoyance-buster' busts painstakingly crafted, crucial policy


I'm glad I retired. I don't think I understood any of the above, other than (i) DNS, (ii) broken and (iii) coffee break.

Techie finds himself telling caller there is no safe depth of water for operating computers


Ha ha. Reminds me of working for a controls company, doing real-time control by computer. One Control Room was in a basement which got flooded. Of course, everything went down and we were called. They got the water drained off from the control room. As we went underneath the desk-level CRTs and operator keyboards to see what damage there was to the kit underneath, we took the panels off. The first panel exploded with water behind it when sufficient screws were loosened. All the panels were still full of water. The Site Report following this incident suggested in the Lessons Learned section that in future all control panels should be fitted with drain holes !! :)

Trying to log into Office 365 right now? It's a coin flip, says Microsoft: Service goes TITSUP as Azure portal wobbles


At least when your own servers were down you could run down the corridor and suggest politely to the systems guys that they needed to look at it as the whoel company was sitting around doing nothing. No chance with Microsoft.

Plusnet vows to shove a sword in members area 'White Screen Of Death'


Yeah, right

What makes I think that a problem that's been around for months will suddenly be fixed today? #WSOD

If I could turn back time, I'd tell you to keep that old Radarange at home


Re: Line of sight

Used to love getting no work done at a well-known Contractor's office in Old Street. Who linked their remote building in by line of sight microwave from their main office. And when it was foggy.... :)


Time waits for no man, except for the Captain. I commissioned a DCS control system in the late 80's, on a well-known UK gas terminal. One day I found the client's Instrument/Elec Engineer plonked in front of a display, (a Captain's Chair, hence the nickname) watching the bottom right corner. Every once in a while he'd jump out of his seat, point at the screen and say "There it is!, Done it again!". After a while he came to me to complain that the system clock was wrong. Except it wasn't, it was spot on. So he got me to watch too, and sure enough the on-screen digital clock would get to e.g. xx:00:00 then jump to xx:00:02 or so. I had to explain that the screen display was just a task, like all the other 100+ or so tasks, and its priority was pretty low and due to that it occasionally re-synced itself with the system clock. I'm sure he was still there when I left....

Begone, Demon Internet: Vodafone to shutter old-school pioneer ISP


Re: Turnpike

I developed my dislike of tagged email filing systems with Turdpike. Couldn't believe Google brought it back with Gmail. #foldersforever

Just updated Windows 7? Can't access network shares? It isn't just you


Only another year before they stop fannying around with W7 and then it'll be stable. :)

My 2019 resolution? Not to buy any of THIS rubbish


I very much doubt a 1968 vinyl is anywhere near what vinyl can actually do technically. Only a few decent labels turned out quality stuff back then, Decca classical being one. Most of my 60's 70's and 80's vinyl just doesn't hack it really, though the odd CD replacement/remaster etc is usually grotesque in its CD-ness


Re: Hmm

No, not worried, because on my phone I jave to turn voice recognition on. Which I do occasionally. By mistake. Before turning it off again


Re "smart" speakers, I loved the true story the other day about the parrot ordering stuff online from Amazon

Detailed: How Russian government's Fancy Bear UEFI rootkit sneaks onto Windows PCs


Re: Wait, what?

And why would a recruiter want your CV in an editable format? Er, oh, I see, they're going to EDIT your carefully put together professional record so that can misrepresent you.


How can I find out if I'm vulnerable / protect against it

Had a look around for a non-expert description of how to check if our PCs are vulnerable and if so how to protect them. UEFI discussions get to a mega level of complexity quite rapidly. I was hoping for somethjng like boot-to-bios-configure, check Secure Boot setting, switch it on, sorted. Win 7 Dell Vostro laptops. Cheers in advance!

Error pop-up? Don't worry, let's just get this migration done... BTW it's my day off tomorrow


Re. being laid off and still being needed to Fix Stuff, the old joke is

"There was an engineer who had an exceptional gift for fixing all things. After serving his company loyally for over 30 years, he happily retired.

Some time later the company contacted him regarding a seemingly impossible problem they were having with one of their multi-million dollar machines. They had tried everything and everyone else to get the machine fixed, but to no avail. In desperation, they called on the retired engineer who had solved so many of their problems in the past. The engineer reluctantly took the challenge.

He spent a day studying the issue. At the end of the day, he marked a small "x" in chalk on a particular component of the machine and proudly stated, "That's where your problem is". The part was replaced and the machine worked perfectly again. The company received a bill for £50,000 from the engineer for his service. They thought this was steep and demanded an itemized accounting of his charges.

The engineer responded with the following account:

Chalk: £1

Knowing where to put it: £49,999


With the coming of browser checks for https certificates, and warnings when they are not right / expired / chain broke worrying users who don't understand these things, why do people still insist on migrating their sites to https when they have no data traffic worth encrypting? Don't they realise they are creating themselves huge maintenance headaches? Er, that'll be a "no"

Jingle bells, disk drives sell not so well from today. Oh what fun it is to ride on a one-horse open array...



Windows 10 can carry on slurping even when you're sure you yelled STOP!


Windows 10? What's that?

Probably you mean like Skype upgrading itself even when you told it not to

College PRIMOS prankster wreaks havoc with sysadmin manuals


Ah, Pr1mos. I remember that. Sort of like VMS but a more human friendly interface. Loved the script language. Used to run a program, inspect the output, grab data from it to feed into next program(s) and iterate until solved. Try doing that with "Apps" or even MS's OS-level script language, which I use so often I can't even recall its name. Also let you do shenanigans, like the chasp in this article.

UK taxman told to chill out 'cos loan charge is whacking tax dodgers and whoopsies alike


"failing to distinguish between genuine tax avoidance and innocent mistakes". Er, what about folk genuinely in business on their own account and whose employment status for employment rights are "non-employed" when the tax man decides "employed for tax purposes".

Support whizz 'fixes' screeching laptop with a single click... by closing 'malware-y' browser tab


Confession time

OK, so, in the days we used to have huge CRT monitors on top of horizontal desktop boxes on the real (wooden) desktop (this was about 1992 or so), keyboard in front, I was also wielding a project data lever-arch file that we also used to use "back then". I managed to whack the CRT with the corner of the lever arch file. I mean, this was a heavy file, and it was a heavy whack. The screen went blank. Oh c*ck, I thought, and thought I had better not do anything but call on the support guys who were very good and one had for exampled secreted some extra memory in there for me once, by getting round "the system". Anyway, aforesaid technie turns up, takes a look at the set-up, leans over, and turns the brightness control up, which was one of the line of controls at the front of the CRT. CRT now working normally. Face red.

That Saudi oil and gas plant that got hacked. You'll never guess who could... OK, it's Russia


I recall working (in 1987) for a well known DCS manufacturer who used a semi-proprietary OS. We used to get sales questions from prospective customers asking how secure it was from virus attacks. We used to jokingly say that if anyone could hack in to the OS and get anything to run, we'd probably hire them as a developer, so arcane was the OS and so difficult to get it to actually do what WE wanted it to. Actually, I quite liked the OS as it was so simples

Memo to Microsoft: Windows 10 is broken, and the fixes can't wait


MS should realise that W10 is an OPERATING SYSTEM and not an end in itself. It should be invisible, reliable, secure, bug free, easy to use, give us one or maybe two consistent ways to run programs or change settings, not many many, not steal our data, not force "upgrades" on us and, oh, do what an OS should which is lie there out of sight and let just us run the applications which we're actually using a computer for in the first place. Jeez I had to hack the registry yesterday to export a Powerpoint slide to jpg at a decent resolution. The average user can't even find that fix much less do it. My wife would have simply turned the machine off.

MS need to shift their entire paradigm and realise where they are in the product development curve and just settle for less. Apple is not a lot better, and getting worse. If I could have truly seamless app level compatibility with Linux, I'd be on Mint or Ubuntu like a flash, but unfortunately there are too many real-world mismatches, and the favoured answer of some to "just run Windows in a virtual machine" is also not real world simple. But Linux is not far off the ideal. No wonder it's used for web servers

In Windows 10 Update land, nobody can hear you scream


In Windows 7 Update land with Woody's Patch Lady page, no-one can hear you laugh

Take my advice: The only safe ID is a fake ID



An amusing and appropriate sidebar advert - Gear, Best

HMRC contractor scores IR35 payout after yet another taxman blunder


Again, TG I'm retired. I was never afraid of losing an IR35 case, but Very Afraid of having to fight one. Glad to see what we used to call (in the fledgling PCG as it was then) the nuclear option being rolled out.

UK taxman told: IR35 still isn't working in the public sector, and you want to take it private?


Thank God I'm retired

I was never fearful of losing an IR35 case, but was very fearful of ever having HMRC coming after "me", since logic has nothing to do with it, in any way shape or form. Never has, never will. Anyone still out there has my utmost admiration for hanging in there. And I couldn't believe Philip Hammond spouting yesterday in response to the rescue of House of Fraser that he wants to update the tax system for the digital age. Be afraid - be very afraid!!

Google Chrome: HTTPS or bust. Insecure HTTP D-Day is tomorrow, folks


"Although Chrome is the first mainstream browser to affix high-visibility warnings system to non-HTTPS websites"

Huh? Firefox has been doing this for yonks

No, seriously, why are you holding your phone like that?


Smart-"Phones" ?! Ha! Voice quality absolutely pants; you'd think in these days of incredible technology they'd get the mic right. My son has the latest i-thing-phone and I can never hear him. Get your act together "phone" makers.

Other beef: DECT phones fightign each other, or fighting smartphones - "No, I can't hear you so I'll turn you up so I can hear you, oh, I'll also turn up the background noise too" "And I'll foof a lot" "Fffff ffff ffffff pub ffff foof ffff fooooffff you know"

CEST la vie, IR35 workers: HMRC sets out stall for ignoring Mutuality of Obligation


@701arvn "HMRC's challenge is to make Contractors pay the tax they should,"

Erm, I and all the contractors I knew did/do pay the tax they "should". Actually, most contractors pay more in tax to the gumment than permies, across corporation tax, dividend taxes and tax on salaries (even low ones). The "big" differences are (i) NICS - and why the helll shoudl I pay big NICS when I don't get the same benefits when I'm out of work (or in my case, long-term sick) and (ii) deferring salary/dividends - but why can I not do exactly what the bigger companies do which is to even out the peaks and troughs of company income. It's not as if I am benefitting in tax because I don't take an income - since I am also not benefitting from the income itself. This whole thing is driven by (i) HMRC scratching around to maximise intake and (ii) jealousy of permies against the high rates contractors get. I always said, if you want Contractor rates, quit and become a contractor, see if you can hack it. Grrrr.


Jeez. I'm retired now (thank God) but this issue of HMRC's stance on MOO still winds me up rotten. I never had a fear of losing an IR35 case but I did have a huge fear of having to fight such as case as HMRC are such [insert your own expletive here]. Of course MOO is relevant, and the judges, not HMRC, are right. It's the one big thing that makes the difference between a contractor and a staffie. Yes, two people may sit next to each other and appear ostensibly to be doing the same work (they might even be doing the same) but one can be sacked just like that, no process, no rights, the other can't. If there's nowt to do, the employer has to make the Staffie redundant. And the continuing division between Employment Law and Tax Law is against all principles of fairness. Everyone, GO NUCLEAR !! (old PCG members know that that means)

Office 365 celebrates National Beer Day by popping out for a pint


Re: About Time MS were taken to task

"I though this 'cloud thingy' was supposed to improve availability?"

The Cloud is merely the latest name for Thin Client. Didn't work then, either

Sir, you've been using Kaspersky Lab antivirus. Please come with us, sir


NSA: No Such Agency.

And anyway, Sir, why do Americans use that word, Sir, so much when being forcefully polite, when they don't have Knighthoods?

Microsoft pulls the plug on Windows 7, 8.1 support forums


Re: Paraphrasing

"Rest assured that I am extremely glad to be of assistance to you today, and that it is my utmost job to ensure that your happiness is increased following this support interaction. I will ensure you that I will do the necessary and support you in your support needs. I understand that you are unable to get windows 10 to work properly after this hour's massive fucking update. My solution at the moment is that you should reinstall windows."

Oh and, pretty please, PLEEEEZE give me 5 out of 5 performance stars on the survey we'll foist onto you in a minute


It's one of the reasons I stick with M$ OSs (and W7 fo rthat matter) since there's always plenty of 3rd party help / programs and always someone who's been there before. Woody's site is a classic. So I doubt I shall ever change the habit pf a lifetime and start asking M$ for help. Since I'm also not buying a Surface. Nice product, but worse hassle than Apple to get fixed if it breaks

Half of all Windows 10 users thought: BSOD it, let's get the latest build


Re: What Is The Point For Continued OS Redesign/Updates

So if this is the last Windoze, does that mean M$ are working on a Totally New OS?

Microsoft patches problematic OS to deal with SSD woes



First rule I learned when I moved to a professional software support role was: Never Update Your Users Until You Are Sure That The Release Is A Stable One. That's why I said No (and still am) to Win 10.

In fact, I personally think "updating" a Windoze machine is a bad idea and for my personal machine would only ever buy a new one designed for the OS in question. For example, I dread what problems the NHS are goign to have in upgrading to Win10. For goodness sake, Win 7 from XP usually produced a machine slower than a very slow thing

HMRC opens consultation to crack down on off-payroll working in private sector


Jeezo am I glad I'm retired now and no longer have to be concerned about IR35. My commiserations to those who still need to worry. It's time the entire contractor workforce adopted what we used to call on the PCG boards (RIP) the "Nuclear Option". I get caught, you get hit for holiday pay etc etc. HMRC are just wilfully blind when it comes to the fact that a Contractor and a Staffie sittign next to each other migh tbe doing the same "tasks" but they sure as hell aren't doing the same "job". One can be let go at a moment's notice, has no holiday or sick pay (especially sick pay, as I know to my loss - 14 months out of work), the other has to have his/her employer go through hoops of Employment Law before they can consider sacking them. Shurely it's time that Employment and Tax Law were unified. Shurely it's against one "Human Rights" to be taxed as one but not employed as the other or v/v

Openreach consults on shift of 16 MEEELLION phone lines to VoIP by 2025


Yeah right

"Each person's mobile has taken over that role for everyone" Spot the city dweller. In fact even in our local town the 400 metre radius around Tesco's is within a mobile signal, and as for us in the boonies...


Hype hype hype

This just strikes me as the usual modern-day hype and bright-idea-ing by some ivory tower "strategic thinker". Mark my words - this will never happen in the timescale suggested. Eventually, it might but in the end it will require money, lots of it, and not just for the kit, but also for the meeelions of extra OR/whoever staff they'll need to deploy it all. Where's that money going to come from? And this from a company that is just sacking several thousand employees (OK, not the same skills but the guys at the sharp end need decent backroom and admin staff too). And this is before they start on thinking about what they'll do with us rural bods. Yes, I have copper so according to one post: "Technically, nobody in range for copper should be out of range for fibre. The physics just don't support that." Yebbut, physics and OR and costs and real-world speeds don't always tie up. I can get ADSL at ~ 3Mbps but am too far away from the cab for VDSL which drops off speed per 100 metres a lot faster than ADSL. I would dearly love this to work out as it'd mean I get a decent broadband service too, but I ain't holdin' my breath

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