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It liiives! Sorta. Gentle azure glow of Windows XP clocked in Tesco's self-checkouts, no less

"Unexpected operating system in baggage area, please remove and try again"

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Morrisons have a different message. Theirs says (at some volume): "Surprising item in bagging area."

I don't know why it's surprising. OK, this particular item was a cucumber, which could cause surprise in various NSFW ways. But the staff member didn't seem at all surprised at the checkout going on the fritz, and nor was I.

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DO YOU HAVE A MORE CARD?!?!

No, now please stop shouting at me Morrisons POS.

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Morrisons self-checkouts do seem to be set at FULL VOLUME at my local store, can hear them aisles away!

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The first thing I do when using a self service checkout is to mute it.

Oh, and going with the heaviest item first seem to help stop the scales from fucking up as much.

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Thumb Up

Local Optician

The big machines that measure the pressure in your eyes (Henson) used to use BBC Micro to do the work. I know there were still some around 15 years ago. I'm sure there are still some doing a good job now. Can tell from the distinctive two tone startup tone.

That said, they're not Internet connected, so perfectly safe.

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Joke

Re: Local Optician

That said, they're not Internet connected, so perfectly safe.

Yes but did they lock down the USB ports?

icon -------------->

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Re: Local Optician

But are they Econet-connected? :-/

No Clock

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Local Optician

> Yes but did they lock down the USB ports?

At some major EU airports, the PC's used by security staff to the X-Ray (etc) machines have their cables and unblocked USB ports facing users, directly on the edge of the desks right where they're accessible to people just casually leaning on the desks.

For anyone so inclined (not me) they'd be truly trivial to stick something in.

Not sure how that gets past any security audits.

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Go

Re: Local Optician

Various endpoint protection programs can lock down the USB ports -- there's a (slim) chance they're using something like that. Though that probably wouldn't save them from USB Kill or similar. But I suspect that deploying that would quite likely cause you to be delayed from reaching your flight, or anywhere else for that matter.

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Re: Local Optician

Could be BIOS blocked, or simpler, they just pulled the internal cable. Then again, I'm probably giving them way to much credit.

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Re: Local Optician

Er... MonkeyBob was joking about the USB ports because a (normal) BBC Micro doesn't have such modern niceties.

I say normal, because people do tinker - for example, this is from 2012:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTOVBADSPMs

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Local Optician

For anyone so inclined (not me) they'd be truly trivial to stick something in.

Well, I don't care how you get your jollies, but I feel truly sorry for you if it will readily fit in a USB port...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Local Optician

> Well, I don't care how you get your jollies, but I feel truly sorry for you if it will readily fit in a USB port...

Definitely not readily, but with enough force most anything can be made to fit anywhere.

(Ouch!)

Wonder if that would count as "self-tasering"?

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Re: BBC Micro

We have one of these in the workshop at my company. Its doing the same job as it always did, running tests on new/refurbished hardware.

It'll only get replaced if the company we are doing the work for stumps up the cash to replace it, the problem being that if it were to break, we're out of replacement hardware for it...

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Re: Local Optician

That can easily be done via Group Policy or an application control piece of software.

I sometime wonder if the writers at The Register have worked on large scale IT, running XP is not really that bad especially if the machines are not connected to the Internet.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Local Optician

> That can easily be done via Group Policy or an application control piece of software.

Strongly suspect any decent grade USB malware would get around the more common USB blocking approaches.

Sure, someone plugging in (say) some random storage device or wifi stick will likely not have it work.

But anyone clueful doing it "on purpose" and with evil intent is probably not going to be stopped by the kiddie barriers.

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Trollface

Re: Local Optician

No, they're journalists, not IT propeller heads. You can tell by their ability to write something resembling English in paragraphs numbering greater than one.

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Re: Local Optician

"running XP is not really that bad especially if the machines are not connected to the Internet"

For point of sale equipment, it is almost certainly connected, if not to the internet at large, at least a corporate network. You could create a communication system that lets information about payments be sent out without networking, but that is difficult and probably wouldn't be attempted. These vulnerable devices have been used before to gain access to payment information, usually after a breach somewhere else in the network.

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Re: Local Optician

Software blocks?

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Re: Local Optician

"running XP is not really that bad especially if the machines are not connected to the Internet"

They probably use floppy disks to collect the transactions. Didn't all XP computers come with a disk drive?

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Re: Local Optician

Even older tech can be connected to the internet: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/05/21/azure_sphere_goes_retro_in_its_43_year_old_altair_basic_boots/

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Uhm, but the versions of POSReady2009 I've played around with does not have CHKDSK installed... so what gives here?

It's a real PITA, especially when it reboots and the file system's dirty, and there's no CHKDSK installed.

Maybe I'm missing something here somewhere...

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Maybe you missed the bit where it was hopeful that the failure that is Tesco's would insist of something better than the cheapest of cheap work when building the PoS?

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I don't know about POSReady 2009, but with the earlier versions of XP Embedded that I was familiar with, pretty much every component of regular XP was available as an option, it just depends what the person that builds the image chooses to include.

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Anonymous Coward

>I don't know about POSReady 2009, but with the earlier versions of XP Embedded that I was familiar with, pretty much every component of regular XP was available as an option

.....indeed and you can actually go the other way and keep the EOL'ed XP editions fresh using the POSReady 2009 updates and a couple of registry hacks. Latest updates were rolled out 10 days ago BTW so why this is a story I'm not sure.

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XP registry

I did this out of curiosity on an XP desktop used a couple of times a year in the workshop. It's pretty easy (unlike Win10) to review the suggested updates and hide the ones only needed for a POS and inappropriate for a workstation.

I have a 2 way belkin box someone chucked out. The other PC on the box, sharing screen, keyboard and mouse is running Linux Mint + Mate. The WINE on it runs some old VB6 and other programs needed in the workshop for test gear that won't run even on 64 bit Win7, though they do work on 32 bit win 7.

Likely the Office XP / aka Word 2002 might be a risk?

Fine if not used on the Internet or with files of unknown provenance (data or programs).

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Eh?

Built on the XP codebase, these embedded operating systems hit end-of-life in January and April 2019 respectively, as Microsoft explained four years ago.

Either there is some time travel involved or there is a date wrong. I was under the impression that we were not yet in 2019 and especially April as BREXIT would have happened and someone would have told me. (sic)

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Re: Eh?

Makes sense if you assume "will" is implied before "hit end-of-life".

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Re: Eh?

That's present continuous, 'they hit', rather than past simple, 'they hit'.

Pesky irregular verbs, eh?

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Re: Eh?

I go back to work next week.

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Joke

Tesco PoS terminal

correct on both counts ....

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Next time you see a self-service checkout throw a wobbly and revert to XP, don't panic straightaway.

Thank you for that sage advice.

Because of course without it, I would have run screaming from the store crying "OH MY GOD , WE'RE ALL DOOMED!".

NOT!

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This post has been deleted by its author

Some taxis still run XP

Ok it was about 4 years ago but was in a London Black Cab & the display's inside were in the middle of rebooting XP Embedded edition

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Re: Some taxis still run XP

Well, 4 years ago, Windows XP was legal!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Some taxis still run XP

> Well, 4 years ago, Windows XP was legal!

"Legal"?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Some taxis still run XP

Well, 4 years ago, Windows XP was legal!

I don't know what the rules are where you come from but XP is 18 tomorrow. In civilised countries, people say that someone is "legal" when they reach 16 or 18. Four years ago, it was approaching 14. You can get locked up for that!

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Azure Glow

I see what you did there :3

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I've seen that a few times at the wee Tesco I pop into now and then.

Apparently trying to use certain flavours of US credit card forces a reboot.

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After brexit I wonder if my Danish Visa card will også cause them to BSOD. In fact the whole country will probably BREXSOD

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Next time I see one of the tills rebooting at our local supermarket I'll snap you a pic.

Last time I saw it happen, they were Windows 2000 Pro.

(And no, it's not a Tesco. Or indeed any supermarket that has any branches in the UK, as far as I know)

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Last time I saw XP in the wild (i.e. not reported by El Reg), it was also a self-checkout at US hypermarket chain Meijer. I know the local Ace Hardware locations also use a Windows-based POS, but I don't know which Winver.

I don't understand why NCR and the lot their peers bother to use anything so bloated when an R-pi properly configured could do the job. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong, please.)

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I don't understand why NCR and the lot their peers bother to use anything so bloated when an R-pi properly configured could do the job. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong, please.)

I suspect it's a matter of availability of drivers for the hardware, there may not be Linux equivalents to run the various peripherals.

Certainly when our company had a brief dalliance with ticketing kiosks, some years ago, the only available software was Windows based, and relied on a proprietary interface card to join all the bits up - no USB equivalents.

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Also programmer availability. Windows desktop GUI programmers are easier to find than Linux desktop GUI programmers. Any Visual Basic programmer can do a Windows GUI.

Also on a typical big-company Windows-based corporate LAN, developing for Windows is easier than developing for Linux because everyone has Windows PCs.

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Cross platform development is EASY

It shouldn't be hard at all for find a developer who can make a GUI that runs on multiple platforms.

Java does it, .Net/Mono does it. There are no real differences, a button is an instance of the button class regardless of the underlying OS or graphical subsystem. This is precisely the main drive behind these languages. Sure there may be a difference in IDE but anyone who has used an IDE long enough will be able to adapt and anyone who hasnt will just see it as part of the same learning curve as before, assuming they do the development on the LInux system itself! They could just keep using their proffered IDE and simply test on a Linux system.

My god you could even use the most universal of cross platform of interfaces, HTML!

I have developed stuff for android. The IDE runs in Java, on any OS that runs Java. The VM that I test on runs on any platform that runs a supported Java, heck I usually just forgo the VM and push the app to my personal phone, using USB! With full debugging, live over USB. In Linux, just by plugging it in. I dont do it in windows because I cba to hunt down the driver I need.

Also, if anyone is using Visual Basic nowadays to do anything other than making a GUI for prototyping I'd be very worried.

And windows PC's can run virtual machines nowadays. Download a development environment turn-key VM, run it in a hypervisor. Develop on windows, compile, move to the Linux VM, run.

I've been doing this since the early 2000's there really is no excuse any more.

Once all the kiddies with their Linux running raspberry Pis grow up and expect to program on Linux because "everyone had a linux RPi" we will see the opposite argument I bet: "Nobody will develop a GUI for windows because everyone runs Linux and ts hard to find developers who can write a GUI for windows".

Everyone running Linux would be great of course. But that argument would still be stupid just as it is now. Cross platform development is EASY. The hard stuff was done by other very clever people a long time ago.

Hey, did you know? Minecraft runs on Linux, and windows. One executable. What is this sorcery?

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Re: Cross platform development is EASY

It shouldn't be hard at all for find a developer who can make a GUI that runs on multiple platforms.

No, maybe not.

Now find a developer who will write the kernel drivers for the proprietary hardware that runs on multiple platforms...

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Re: Cross platform development is EASY

Yep a cross-platform UI for kiosks would be straight-forward. Otherwise... not-so-much.

Kiosks are much simpler for such things because the UX is constrained by the very specific nature of the device. But the vast majority of software in the world does not run on kiosks. It runs on various different devices and form factors and operating environments, many of which specifically differentiate themselves from others by differences in the UX.

If cross-platform development was EASY, everyone would be doing it by now and it wouldn't need to be constantly re-invented to get-it-right-this-time-no-honestly-we-have-nailed-it-now. I am guessing you don't remember (perhaps weren't even born at) the time of the likes of Omnis and various other 4GL's that had "nailed" cross-platform development in the 90's - a time when there was far less diversity in platforms to contend with.

Which is of course why Omnis and it's ilk went on to dominate the software development industry and why we are all using those tools now.

Oh, but wait. Then came Java with it's Ultimate Solution to the write-once-run-anywhere problem. Hmmmmm.

Then .NET. Then Qt. Then FireMonkey. Then Xamarin. Then .net Core (Jeez even .NET is taking two bites at the cherry).

It's almost as if this is a bit harder than some people seem to think.

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I don't understand why NCR and the lot their peers bother to use anything so bloated when an R-pi properly configured could do the job. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong, please.)

I't probably because whomever originally specced out the system design was only familiar with Point-and-Drool MSWin dev environments.

Now if these companies had been anything less than abject cowards, they could have funnelled a bunch of money and effort into ReactOS development in 2009 or earlier (when they'd realize they were setting themselves for the situation), it might have been ready by 2014. They'd have full source code, wouldn't be dependent on questionable updates, and could save boatloads of money on licenses. But as I say, it would require companies not suffering from Cranial-Rectal Insertion.

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No, I think it's an honest mistake. They went shopping for a POS operating system and obviously Windows was the first thing that came to mind. That's the trouble with acronyms - they tend to result in hash collisions.

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