nav search
Data Centre Software Security DevOps Business Personal Tech Science Emergent Tech Bootnotes
BOFH
Lectures

* Posts by Kubla Cant

2074 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

Silent running: Computer sounds are so '90s

Kubla Cant
Mushroom

Re: Wonderful Nostalgia

And before Windows sounds, Novell had a command called FIRE PHASERS that made the standard PC speaker make a sort of 'Pew pew' noise.

I think the PHASERS part was (appropriately) phatic - FIRE CARRONADES would still result in a weedy 'Pew pew'.

2
0
Kubla Cant

Re: Ringtones are cringworthy

Before they became cringworthy [sic], I had the opening bars of The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised from Messiah. The message seemed appropriate.

6
0

Is this cuttlefish really all that cosmic? Ubuntu 18.10 arrives with extra spit, polish, 4.18 kernel

Kubla Cant

Ubuntu's decision to put the menus at the top of the screen was a usability disaster.

Too true, but it's a disaster shared by Mac OS. It gets even better when you install Excel on a Mac: you have the ribbon, a menu at the top of the window, and another, subtly different menu at the top of the screen.

I thought there were people who actually study the ergonomics of user interfaces. Do they keep their results secret?

5
1

Chrome 70 flips switch on Progressive Web Apps in Windows 10 – with janky results

Kubla Cant

MS spend a lot of time on their UIs and compared to the amount of time most Web designers spend it shows.

If anybody spent a lot of time designing the Windows 10 UI, it must have been a team of psychopaths.

My least favourite bit of Microsoft UI is their penchant for providing a fixed-size dialog for editing long text values, such as the environment tool in Control Panel.

4
1

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

Kubla Cant

Re: Are you Sue?

In the 1970s a teacher friend discovered her new class had a Yvonne. But pronounced Wy-von-knee, her parents saw it written down...

But the fact that you write "a Yvonne" rather than "an Yvonne" makes me wonder which consonant you start the name with.

4
0

Microsoft deletes deleterious file deletion bug from Windows 10 October 2018 Update

Kubla Cant

Re: After 43 years in the business ...

Businesses seem to regard IT as a cost and nothing else.

Maybe. But it's an odd attitude when IT is what the business sells.

9
0

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave me tea... pigs-in-blankets-flavoured tea

Kubla Cant
Joke

Re: Sprouts

the secret is to not overcook them

Quite right. They're ruined by people who put them on to cook on Christmas Eve. 05:00 on Christmas morning is plenty early enough.

26
1

Microsoft liberates ancient MS-DOS source from the museum and sticks it in GitHub

Kubla Cant

We still have to wonder why modern keyboards have "Break", "Pause", and "SysRq".

And, of course, the key labelled "Scroll Lock", which doesn't.

2
0
Kubla Cant

Re: - and /

NT had Unix style sym links, then the interface to set them vanished on a later NT

Reappeared in recent Windows versions as mklink, but for some unfathomable reason you need system privilege to use it. I can create and remove directories and files, map network drives, map a drive letter to a directory, and do all sorts of other stuff, but creating symlinks is only for the big boys.

3
0
Kubla Cant

CP/M looked a bit PDP-8-like

Except that one is an operating system and the other is a computer. Perhaps it was a bit like RT-11, RSX or RSTS? I recall that CP/M and RSTS both involved extensive use of a command called PIP.

2
0

Why are sat-nav walking directions always so hopeless?

Kubla Cant

NCN Signposts

A similar experience is available to anyone who has a bike, but no smartphone.

Try following the National Cycle Network signposts. If you're lucky you'll encounter nothing worse than a rough track with massive flooded potholes. I finally gave up on NCN when my route was signposted across the middle of a ploughed field. It would have been impassable even on a mountain bike, and I didn't fancy arriving at work caked in mud.

10
0
Kubla Cant

it gives you an immediate indication of which direction you are walking in

I'm sure I remember that Google Maps used to do that, but they've upgraded it so it doesn't. The only way to tell which way to go now is to walk 200 yards in a random direction to see which way the pointer moves (usually the wrong way).

5
0
Kubla Cant

Re: Hahaha...

what our USAnian friends have against people with a love of walking

No recreational activity allowed unless it involves lots of expensive equipment. For example: rugby is played by blokes equipped with nothing much more than a strip of insulating tape around their ears, while every American "football" player wears about $1000 worth of protective gear. Cycling used to be a fairly cheap activity until the Americans got interested.

It's hard to make walking expensive.

42
0

Blueprint of modern construction can be found in a tech cluster... of 19th century England

Kubla Cant

columns, which could cope with up to 2.5 times their normal load. If one was broken, those surrounding it could collapse under the extra weight

Is this a bug or a feature? My knowledge of structural engineering is limited, but it sounds like there is sufficient redundancy to survive failure of a single column.

Fascinating write-up, nonetheless. This is now on my list of places to visit (as long as the columns haven't all collapsed).

5
0

As one Microsoft Windows product hauls itself out of the grave, others tumble in

Kubla Cant

Who would want such a thing?

My wife has a Nokia Lumia that runs Windows, and I'm afraid she absolutely loves it. The hardware's gradually failing, and I don't know what we'll do when it gives up the ghost entirely.

She tried an Android phone recently, but in a couple of weeks her SIM was back in the old Nokia. I was sufficiently desperate to take her into an Apple store on Saturday, where I was surprised to find that the IPhone UI is more-or-less indistinguishable from Android.

Is there such a thing as a Windows emulator for Android?

7
0

Spent your week box-ticking? It can't be as bad as the folk at this firm

Kubla Cant

Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

Morel of the story... don't practice mushroom management.

34
0

I want to buy a coffee with an app – how hard can it be?

Kubla Cant

Madness

A long, long time ago, somebody invented money. The nice thing about it was that you could use it almost anywhere, to buy almost anything. Then along came plastic cards, which in many ways were even better. With the development of contactless payment, they became an easy way to pay for anything, at any price*, anywhere.

But the "if it's not an app it's old skool" madness has now taken over. Every company in the world has to have its own app - a petrol station I used recently was promoting an app that would enable me to pay for fuel at any of their outlets (which I can do already), but not, presumably, at any other company's. Why would I want such a thing?

* A friend who is a similar age to me (i.e. more quatrodecennial than millennial) was upset when she saw her 24-year-old son's bank statement: "It's tragic, he's having to pay for coffees and sandwiches with his card". I explained about the stigma attached to cash money these days.

21
0

30-up: You know what? Those really weren't the days

Kubla Cant

Re: "who had a computer at home (with a modem)"

The problem was the modem - many computer didn't come with one, and they were expensive

Before BT was privatised and relaxed the rules, modems all had to be tested and approved by Post Office Telephones. As a result, there were about three models available, each costing more than a week's wages. All were robustly engineered so that you could stand on them to flash an Aldiss lamp - this being generally the fastest communication they could manage.

vi was built by programmers, for programming

I wouldn't have the nerve to badmouth vi. But for those of us who don't use it all the time, the startup sequence is usually like this:

$ vi filename

<start typing stuff, then notice that I didn't enable insert mode until the first 'i' in the stuff>

:q!

$ vi filename

i

<start typing...>

24
1

National Museum of Computing to hold live Enigma code-breaking demo with a Bombe

Kubla Cant

While the machine does its work, participants in the conference will hear papers

If they're in the same room they may struggle to hear the papers,

34
1

Click your heels, um, mouse thrice and you've quickly got Ubuntu on Hyper-V in Win 10 Pro

Kubla Cant

Solution?

I recently acquired a sexy new Dell laptop. The fly in the ointment is that it came with Windows 10 installed. Even after several weeks I feel a wave of nausea every time I see the garish applications on the start "menu".

I've thought about zapping the horrible thing and simply installing Linux, but reports on the web suggest the battery life suffers. I've also tried a dual-boot installation, but it turns out the Ubuntu installer can't see the disk unless I tweak some BIOS setting that can only be changed before installing Windows.

I wonder if this might be a solution?

2
4

Voyager 1 left the planet 41 years ago – and SpaceX hopes to land on Earth this Saturday

Kubla Cant

Telstar

It's great to find that name still in use, but now my head's filled with warbly electric organ music.

30
0

Microsoft gives Windows 10 a name, throws folks a bone

Kubla Cant

Re: What's this Silverlight thing?

In an era where complete emulators for entire processor architectures can be implemented in pure JavaScript...

But SmallBasic presumably runs in a different era.

1
1

Mozilla changes Firefox policy from ‘do not track’ to ‘will not track’

Kubla Cant
Black Helicopters

Rearranging the deckchairs

I've just spent 30 minutes reading the fascinating, but ultimately rather depressing page about client identification that @Norman Nescio posted. The short version seems to be that browser-detectable tracking is strictly for kids. It's only a matter of time before more sophisticated undetectable tracking methods are commoditised and generally used. To my personal knowledge, they're already used as part of anti-fraud offerings.

Basically, were all doomed.

3
0
Kubla Cant
Thumb Up

Re: Check your tracking status

Thanks @Norman Nescio: very interesting and useful links

5
0

Fruit flies use the power of the sun to help them fly in straight lines

Kubla Cant

Drosophila can fly nearly 15 kilometers - over nine miles - across Death Valley in a single evening

As long as there's an over-ripe banana on the other side of Death Valley.

The other superpower of fruit flies appears to be evasion. Judging by the way they fly and their small size, you expect to be able to grab one in flight, but they always seem to dodge at the last minute.

8
0

No need to code your webpage yourself, says Microsoft – draw it and our AI will do the rest

Kubla Cant

Re: The Last One.html

The Last One was actually the first in a long line of tools that make simple things easy and complicated things impossible.

2
0
Kubla Cant

Re: I do wonder...

That's an interesting and plausible explanation, but I'm sure the coins-above-notes annoyance isn't limited to change from electronic cash registers. I'd always assumed the reason to be a subconscious fear that the notes might blow away.

1
0
Kubla Cant
Mushroom

Web development these days is all about dragging in pointless dependencies from NPM.

Don't forget superseding last week's must-have tool with this week's. And devising new opaque commands. I just got used to npm, then I read a book where some of the commands have to be executed as 'ng npm'. Even this is apparently too lucid, as somebody's introduced a command called 'n'.

2
0

Windows 95 roars once more in the Microsoft round-up

Kubla Cant
Angel

20Gb disk? I'm sure Gigabyes were such stuff as dreams are made on in 1995.

4
0

Fire chief says Verizon throttled department's data in the middle of massive Cali wildfires

Kubla Cant

Re: All these people agreeing with Verizon...

carry on with the Ad Hominims

I think you mean ad hominem. I'm not sure what the plural is (maybe it's "testimonial").

If it means anything, "ad hominims" means "to the ape-men".

6
2

It may be poor man's Photoshop, but GIMP casts a Long Shadow with latest update

Kubla Cant

Re: Forget the geeky stuff, sort out the user experience.

an abstract application name is just not helpful

Gnu Image Manipulation Program. The name says exactly what it does. (Apart from the Gnu bit, but then Adobe Photoshop doesn't have much to do with mud houses.)

41
5

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

Kubla Cant

Re: Eh?

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

15
0

Et tu, Brute? Then fail, Caesars: When it's hotel staff, not the hackers, invading folks' privacy

Kubla Cant

The hacking world's summer camp ... a week of lectures, networking, and partying.

No doubt I'm succumbing to stereotypes, but imagining the sort of party they have at the hacking world's summer camp makes my toes curl.

0
0

Ad watchdog: Amazon 'misleading' over Prime next-day delivery ads

Kubla Cant

Re: Better than things used to be

I hate you can't ask to have items delivered all together, and you get things delivered three days in a row

I recently ordered some dental floss from Amazon. It's a fairly low-value item, and it's annoying to run out, so I ordered 10 packs.

Over the next couple of weeks I received 10 deliveries. Each packet of floss was packed in its own padded envelope (though it's not a breakable item) and individually posted from the Netherlands. Luckily, they were small enough to be pushed through the letterbox.

0
0
Kubla Cant

Better than things used to be

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.

Long ago, before I found refuge in IT, I used to be involved in direct response marketing. We would advertise "Please allow up to 28 days for delivery", and I'm afraid it was not uncommon to miss that deadline. It seems incomprehensible now.

I agree that Amazon should adhere to the delivery schedule it advertises, but I'm still childishly thrilled when things arrive the day after I order them.

24
0

Samsung Galaxy Note 9: A steep price to pay

Kubla Cant
Headmaster

Re: The one thing I wholeheartedly agree with Jobs on ...

The one thing I wholeheartedly agree with Jobs on is stylii

Well you and Jobs both have it wrong. The plural of 2nd Declension Latin nouns such as "stylus" is formed by replacing "us" with "i", not by adding as many "i"s as you think looks cool. You're probably confused by the fact that "radii" has two "i"s. The first of those is part of the root, and appears in the singular, too.

Pedantic? Yes, but if you don't know how Latin works, you'd do better to stick to your native tongue, in which "styluses" is a perfectly acceptable plural.

4
0

Prank 'Give me a raise!' email nearly lands sysadmin with dismissal

Kubla Cant
Headmaster

Asking for a what?

Point of information: in English, the thing you ask for if you want to be paid more is a "rise". I believe this word is difficult for foreigners, who misspell is "raise".

4
13

Devon County Council techies: WE KNOW IT WASN'T YOU!

Kubla Cant

Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

Lemme guess - Serial comms, and cheap cables without the DTR pin connected?

I think it was actually some weird optimisation in HP laser printers that was supposed to save memory*. It wasn't very well implemented, so the output occasionally have bits missing.

*Printers of the time, especially PostScript ones, would often fail to print complex pages because of insufficient memory.

5
0
Kubla Cant
Headmaster

Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

When doing long print jobs, they would start to loose letters.

Did they also start to add letters, thereby mis-spelling "lose" as "loose"?

27
0

Julia 0.7 arrives but let's call it 1.0: Data science code language hits milestone on birthday

Kubla Cant

Re: Indices...

Only Visual Basic really seems to have arrays sorted out.

It's been a long time, but I recall that Pascal allows array [x..y], and the indices don't have to be contiguous, or even numeric.

0
0

Top Euro court: No, you can't steal images from other websites (too bad a school had to be sued to confirm this little fact)

Kubla Cant

Re: What to do with the fine

Considering the possible backlash, and the cost of the litigation if I was the artist involved I'd be donating the fine back to the school as a thanks for being involved in establishing my rights.

On the other hand, the artist has had to finance a law suit and subsequent appeals all the way to the ECJ. His opponent was backed by the more-or-less unlimited funds available to a German state. In return for assuming this massive risk he gets... €400.

10
2

Oh boy: MPs prepare to probe UK.gov's digital prowess and tech savvy

Kubla Cant

Further issues include the digital skills capacity in government, which has historically struggled to recruit and retain the best people

Since their latest effort is to arbitrarily apply IR35 to as many public-sector jobs as possible, the struggle is likely to continue.

5
0

From toothbrushes to coffee makers to computers: Europe fines Asus, Pioneer, Philips for rigging prices of kit

Kubla Cant

Never mind shops getting back lost revenue, how about consumers being refunded for overcharging? If the price-fixing manufacturers had to shoulder the cost of locating everyone who bought the overpriced goods and offering a partial refund it would right a wrong and be a costly deterrent.

8
0

ReactOS 0.4.9 release metes out stability and self-hosting, still looks like a '90s fever dream

Kubla Cant

Widdershins is anticlockwise, Richard.

Depends whether you're looking from above or below.

1
0

It walks, it talks, it falls over a bit. Windows 10 is three years old

Kubla Cant

Re: If only!

the Windows 7 hold-outs should finally feel able to make the upgrade

How? I own a Samsung laptop, a few years old, but still perfectly usable in Windows 7. During the Great Nag I finally decided to try Windows 10, but the installation failed because of hardware incompatibility.

The hardware in question is an Intel processor with integrated GPU, about as vanilla as possible. I need hardly add that none of the Linux distros I've installed has had any problem with it.

14
2
Kubla Cant

Re: Windows Update on 10

Will there ever come a time when Windows can be updated without reboots? Other operating systems seem to manage most of the time.

9
0

Tech team trapped in data centre as hypoxic gas flooded in. Again

Kubla Cant

Re: Oops

Maybe it's the font, maybe it's my eyes, but when I read the words "Shift Supervisor" that many times it transmutes into something that must be one of the worst jobs in the world.

15
0

The e-waste warrior, 28,000 copied Windows restore discs, and a fight to stay out of jail

Kubla Cant

Re: Linux Mint is free

complicated, confusing, and difficult. And that's just email

As far as I know, the email system built into recent releases of Windows isn't complicated, confusing, and difficult. It's non-existent.

Some Windows users may pay for a local copy of Outlook, but I suspect most simply use some kind of webmail site. And that's the same whether your browser is running on Windows, Linux, MacOS or other fine operating system.

It's odd that people who allege Linux is difficult to use seem to have managed primitive versions of Windows without issue. And many are quite happy to use MacOS, which has far more in common with Linux than Windows.

14
4

This job Win-blows! Microsoft made me pull '75-hour weeks' in a shopping mall kiosk

Kubla Cant

Re: To be honest...

...difference between 'professional' and other workers for overtime...

I think the rationale is that "professional" workers put in extra effort in the expectation (realistic or otherwise) of promotion. Your career prospects are also supposed to make you a stakeholder in the business, so you put in more effort than you're paid for. The free overtime is an investment in your future.

A worker in a menial retail job has no prospect of promotion, and won't be paid more if the business thrives, so can't be expected to contribute free overtime.

This, at any rate, is the line that management expect people to swallow.

The theory is borne out by people like software engineers. They're professional and often highly-paid, but they can only be promoted by turning good engineers into crap managers. They usually get overtime and out-of-hours pay. Me, I'm a contractor, so I have no prospects of any kind.

14
2

If this laptop is so portable, where's the keyboard, huh? HUH?

Kubla Cant

I don't see how you can say both "I need dual monitors to do my job" and then "I need a laptop".

Here I am, working on a laptop that has dual monitors, keyboard and mouse connected to it. The monitors are more-or-less essential for my job.

When I have to do out-of-hours support, or when I work from home, I can carry the laptop home in my backpack and use the monitors etc that I have at home anyway. I can also use it on the train, where I connect to the company's secure VPN via a mobile hotspot. Neither would be possible without the laptop.

This has been the usual arrangement in most of the companies where I've worked over the past five years. Fortunately, they haven't had an idiot like Lee D making the decisions.

13
0

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing