Archive for PEBKAC

Does porn make you stupid?

And if not, how do you explain this dumbass?

I watch porn every now and then. It’s not very often but sometimes I just have the urge. Anyway, about a week ago, I was searching and I came across this channel of a couple. I’ve came across videos of couples before but this couple was really funny. Apparently throughout most of their videos, they constantly make jokes. I liked it so much because it is exactly how and friend and I are in bed together. I don’t know much about them. It was a male and female, both white, they were both really funny, and most of their videos were shot with a headset camera. I don’t remember anything about their channel name. If anyone has any idea who this is, let me know.

Fortunately, there is very little porn on the Internet, so this should be really easy to find.

Seven-year-olds can learn how to set browser bookmarks. Why can’t he?


Ding, dong, the Web is dead

Which old Web? The World Wide Web, and, says Rob LoCascio, founder and CEO of LivePerson, the first brick falls this year:

When we started building websites in the mid-90s, we had great dreams for e-commerce. We fundamentally thought all brick-and-mortar stores would disappear and everything dot-com would dominate. But e-commerce has failed us miserably. Today, less than 15 percent of commerce occurs through a website or app, and only a handful of brands (think: Amazon, eBay and Netflix) have found success with e-commerce at any real scale. There are two giant structural issues that make websites not work: HTML and Google.

In the case of HTML, it’s an instance of “We were never intended to do that”:

In the early years, we were speaking in library terms about “browsing” and “indexing,” and in many ways the core technology of a website, called HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), was designed to display static content — much like library books.

But retail stores aren’t libraries, and the library format can’t be applied to online stores either. Consumers need a way to dynamically answer the questions that enable them to make purchases. In the current model, we’re forced to find and read a series of static pages to get answers — when we tend to buy more if we can build trust over a series of questions and answers instead.

How often do you get the answer you need on your first trip to the FAQ? Not very, I suspect.

But that’s a design problem. The 800-lb gorilla in the room is far more sinister in intent:

As Google made it easier to find the world’s information, it also started to dictate the rules through the PageRank algorithm, which forced companies to design their websites in a certain way to be indexed at the top of Google’s search results. But its one-size-fits-all structure ultimately makes it flawed for e-commerce.

Now, almost every website looks the same — and performs poorly. Offline, brands try to make their store experiences unique to differentiate themselves. Online, every website — from Gucci to the Gap — offers the same experience: a top nav, descriptive text, some pictures and a handful of other elements arranged similarly. Google’s rules have sucked the life out of unique online experiences. Of course, as e-commerce has suffered, Google has become more powerful, and it continues to disintermediate the consumer from the brand by imposing a terrible e-commerce experience.

Meanwhile, about 15 percent of the questions flung at me on Quora boil down to “How can I get the highest possible ranking on Google?” I haven’t the heart to tell them “Build a really shitty site.” Yet.

LoCascio sees 404s in our future:

I am going to make a bold prediction based on my work with 18,000 companies and bringing conversational commerce to life: In 2018, we will see the first major brand shut down its website. The brand will shift how it connects with consumers — to conversations, with a combination of bots and humans, through a messaging front end like SMS or Facebook. We are already working with several large brands to make this a reality.

Facebook? Please.

When the first website ends, the dominoes will fall fast. This will have a positive impact on most companies in transforming how they conduct e-commerce and provide customer care. For Google, however, this will be devastating.

At least there’s some redeeming social value.

(Via Jeff Faria.)

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How times have changed

Joy of Tech update to classic tech cartoon

We never knew we had it so good.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Admirably tooled

There exists something called LMMS, and this is its core functionality:

  • Compose music on Windows, Linux and macOS
  • Sequence, compose, mix and automate songs in one simple interface
  • Note playback via MIDI or typing keyboard
  • Consolidate instrument tracks using Beat+Bassline Editor
  • Fine tune patterns, notes, chords and melodies using Piano Roll Editor
  • Full user-defined track-based automation and computer-controlled automation sources
  • Import of MIDI files and Hydrogen project files

I understood about half of that, maybe. And it doesn’t do a thing for the visuals if you’re uploading it to YouTube or some such place. Still, someone with actual talent — not me — can make wondrous noises with it.

I found this one last night:

This chap might be a third my age; most of the 40 or so tracks I’ve acquired from him qualify as good “production music,” the sort of stuff you find in your better movie trailers before the actual musical score is completed. “Denouement” here is totally different, and totally, well, wondrous.

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Crueler intentions

This goes back a couple of years, but I only just saw it, and the truth of the matter remains:

Pure BDSM (Blue Damned Screen of Microsoft).

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Sociopath says what?

A year and a half of diminished mobility has not made me happier, exactly, but I think I’m grateful I didn’t turn into this loser:

So people think that I am an idiot and that I can get some jail time now because I got verbally violent and threatning towards an at&t technician. I had severe issues with my internet where I cannot access certain websites and because everytime I am on an skype call it breaks up and I can’t hear my friend patty talking. The technician guy came and blamed everything on saying that I have too many things plugged and connected to my router and said that the lines and modem is all fine and that the problem is from us. I have an airport extreme router and that thing works fine because it is made by apple who makes good products. He says I have over 20 devices connected and said it is slowing down the bandwith and says the signal drops because the modem and router is in my room on the other side of the house and he wants to move it downstairs. I said no but he got my family on his side and they were forcing me to bring it down. I got mad and yelled at the technician and threatened to take a hammer and hit him. He then told my family that he can’t do it now because I don’t agree with it so I got what I wanted. He says he wants to press charges. After he left I called spectrum and setted up an installation date to get rid of at&t. My family is mad that I did it without their permission. My friend andy says that I am an idiot and says that the at&t guy is right and that I am such a selfish brat. He says its their house and your taking control over it. He says they should kick you out.

Update: He says the at&t guy knows what he is doing because he said he has been doing it for 15 years while you are a college drop out and know nothing. I took computer science classes back when I was in college so I know what I am talking about and the at&t guy is wrong. It is at&t’s fault and I am switching to spectrum regardless of what they say. Spectrum is better anyways. Andy says I am gonna get jail time. I have papers proving my mental illness so I am safe.

Update 2: How come people think that I can get in trouble for being violent to the technician when I have papers proving my mental illness ?? How come people don’t believe what I say when I took computer science and computer networking classes back in college ? Why do people think that I know nothing because I am a college drop out when I took these classes ? I know what I am saying and the problem is the at&t’s modem and poor crappy network service.

Worthless little corksoaker, wouldn’t you think? And he thinks he’s immune to any form of punishment because he has “mental illness.” That’s reason enough to lock up his unworthy ass for the rest of his unnatural life.

Oh, and Andy? You deserve better friends than this.

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“Or else,” it says. We all made fun of Oregon when they decided to allow self-service gas pumps sufficiently far from Portland or Salem to keep the legislators from ever having to witness such a ghastly sight, but in real life, the joke’s been on us for quite a while:

We now expect as a matter of course that we will be self-servicing much of our interaction with everybody from Wells Fargo to Kroger to Google to the airlines, via Byzantine web forms with unique logins and mandatory 12-character passwords that expire every afternoon at 3:01. We understand that when we call for help that we will be forced to navigate through a deliberately confusing touch-tone questionnaire in which the penalty for making a single mistake is to be disconnected and pressing the “O” key out of frustration results in a snippy-sounding recording of a stoned Valley Girl saying, “Hmmm… I didn’t get that.” Bitch, of course you didn’t get that! You’re not real!

They promised us that service and retail work would replace the factory jobs that were sent to China, but the minute people got uppity about wanting to earn the inflation-adjusted equivalent of 1968’s minimum wage the corporate cash taps get opened and all of a sudden an insane amount of money is being spent on machines to replace those service and retail jobs. The most obvious and obnoxious example: the self-checkout machines at grocery stores and Wal-Marts across the country, which cost about $20,000 per lane and last five years, thus theoretically saving money over the $60,000 per year it would cost to staff a checkout lane sixteen hours per day.

I obviously have never hung around all day to check, but I must ask: can these things actually run sixteen hours a day? God knows Voldemart is not in the habit of keeping checkout lanes open for more than a few consecutive hours.

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In the fall of 2013, WordPress came up with a perfectly wonderful enhancement:

Updates while you sleep: With WordPress 3.7, you don’t have to lift a finger to apply maintenance and security updates. Most sites are now able to automatically apply these updates in the background. The update process also has been made even more reliable and secure, with dozens of new checks and safeguards.

On Monday, 4.9.3 was released. On Tuesday, 4.9.4 was released:

This maintenance release fixes a severe bug in 4.9.3, which will cause sites that support automatic background updates to fail to update automatically, and will require action from you (or your host) for it to be updated to 4.9.4.

Well, hey, it lasted almost four and a half years without breaking. And at least they wasted no time getting the problem solved.

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Adventures in malware

The trouble started Saturday morning when a Windows function I wasn’t even aware existed suddenly stopped running. Shortly thereafter, up popped a notification from Malwarebytes, to the effect that real-time protection had been switched off. Okay, fine. I toggled the switch; the legend “Starting” appeared, but “On” never quite got there. I switched over to Scan mode, and the scanner lingered on “Checking for updates” for several minutes, but no actual scan was to be had. I rebooted and watched as the same sequence of events began.

What to do? Desperate times call for desperate measures. I uninstalled both my browser — in case that had been the attack vector — and Malwarebytes, and cranked System Restore to go back four days.

It failed. I shook my head, started to hunt down some more help files, then tripped over the problem: I hadn’t disabled good old Windows Defender before running System Restore, so it quit. The second System Restore did actually work; I reinstalled both the browser and Malwarebytes. (Never, ever throw away a product key, children. Trust me on this.) Satisfied that things were normal once more, I posted my tale of woe on Facebook. Others had suffered similarly; Roherta X was the first to point me to the actual cause, which was Malwarebytes itself:

Earlier this morning, we published a protection update that caused connection issues for many of our customers. As a side effect of the web protection blocks, the product also spiked memory usage and possibly caused a crash. We have triaged this issue and pushed a protection update that resolves it.

If the update does not resolve the issue automatically for you, please shut down web protection, check for protection updates, and restart your computer.

The root cause of the issue was a malformed protection update that the client couldn’t process correctly. We have pushed upwards of 20,000 of these protection updates routinely. We test every single one before it goes out. We pride ourselves on the safety and accuracy of our detection engines. To say I am heartbroken is an understatement.

Heh. He said “root cause.”

So maybe I didn’t have to jump through all those hoops. Still, I’m going to figure out some way to reward myself for not panicking.

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Admitted tripod

Somehow we never knew this until just now:

Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out.

Note to future Photoshop failers: The best-looking three-legged women are the ones commonly believed to have two nice legs.

(Via HelloGiggles.)

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Comparison test

In the post-Rand McNally era, we will need evaluations like this:

Or you can wait for a GPS to lead you into a lake.

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One piece at a time

The modern-day site builder takes the place of so much scutwork that it’s possible to overlook a scut or two. I shan’t tell you where I found this, for I am kind, kinda sorta:

© 2023 by Name of Site. Proudly created with

Surely this will be found and updated some time in the next five years or so.

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The times, they are ahead of us

CFI Care (not its real initials), my current health-insurance provider, recognizes that some of the documents on their Web site might require some, um, additional software to view. Thoughtfully, they’ve put links to such applications on the claims page.

Or maybe not so thoughtfully:

Software links

Apple, of course, dropped support for the Windows version of QuickTime and encouraged its uninstallation, two years ago; Adobe will take Flash Player out back behind the woodshed and shoot it, two years from now. Windows Media Player, inexplicably, refuses to die.

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The right to be an asshat

It’s evidently more limited than some people think:

Three months ago PB & Jeff got to what they thought was the end of their Pikmin 2 playthrough because they had gotten enough money to pay off the debt. They posted a comment on the video saying that they knew that that wasn’t the true ending of the game but that because they were getting sick of playing it and it wasn’t getting as many views as the other games that they played that they weren’t going to play anymore. That video got a lot of comments telling them to continue playing it. As the days went by less and less people told them to continue playing it. Myself, however, has been posting “Finish Pikmin 2!” on every video they upload since they quit playing. I up the amount of comments I leave every video. The first video I posted it once, the second video twice, the third three times, etc. By this week I had gotten to the point of posting it around 90 times each video. Even though people were telling me to stop and Jeff himself told me that they were completely done with Pikmin 2 I kept at it because I refused to let them not truly finish the story. Earlier this week my account got shut down so I automatically created another one to continue spamming. That got shut down so I created another. Same story. Again and again I kept creating accounts to spam their comments. Now whenever I create an account it is instantly shut down within a minute. Why?

There is reason to doubt that this person exists; there is no reason to doubt that the world would be a better place if he didn’t.

That said:

Look, jagoff, you’re messing with YouTube. That means you’re messing with Google. And Google has all kinds of ways to make you wish you were dead. (We do not know for certain if they can actually kill you, but do you want to take that chance?)

And be grateful it’s not 150 years ago. Either PB or Jeff could perforate your unworthy carcass with lead, and the law would gravely assent: “You were right, he needed killing.”

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Dead but insufficiently buried

Save the date: the 15th of February marks the return of Circuit City.
That’s what they say, anyway:

Following a tease of a CES announcement, current company CEO Ronny Shmoel confirmed on Monday that something called Circuit City will arrive as “a new, more personalized online shopping experience” starting February 15. The announcement event, which was reported by tech-business outlet Twice, included promises of AI-driven recommendations fueled by IBM’s Watson platform, plus unexplained “augmented reality” and “search by photo” features.

Curiously, Shmoel also promised “real-time tech support via video chat,” but it’s unclear whether this feature will include two-way video feeds—and, thus, whether Circuit City is prepared for a deluge of Chatroulette-caliber video surprises from trolls.

Wait a minute. Didn’t we hear this same story two years ago? Why, yes, we did. From the late, lamented Consumerist:

Back in 2009, the medium-box consumer electronics chain Circuit City closed. Systemax, the owner of TigerDirect, acquired the brand’s website and customer list, and kept it going until 2012. Late last year, Systemax decided to shut down its technology business, and that included selling the twice-defunct Circuit City brand. Now yet another company has acquired the brand and wants to make a go of it as physical retail stores.

Call me when someone opens an actual Montgomery Ward store.

(Via Fark.)

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Over and done with

The technological revolution, says the Z Man, has just about run its course:

Companies like Google and Apple stopped being technology companies a long time ago. Instead, they are oligopolists. In the case of Apple, they were never a technology company. They were a design and marketing firm that repackaged existing technology into cool consumer products appealing to cosmopolitan hipsters. They sell expensive display items for the trend setters and the fashionable.

As a reader at Sailer’s site observed, Google now resembles an adult daycare center where mentally disturbed women terrorize the few people doing real work. Google has not done much of anything, in terms of tech, once it gained a near monopoly of on-line advertising. The reason Susan Wojcicki can wage endless jihad at a money losing division like YouTube is it is owned by an oligopolist given a special right to skim from every internet user on earth. Google is now a tax farmer, not a tech company.

Well, that and the fact that Wojcicki was the head of rival Google Video, which YouTube was trouncing in the marketplace. The solution she proposed: buy out YouTube. Which they did, there not being too many things on earth that Google can’t buy out. (One of them, we may assume, is Apple.)

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Increasing clouds

“We have incentivized instability,” says Tam:

Nowadays, half the software you interact with doesn’t even reside on your PC. Further, there are whole departments at, say, Facebook or Blizzard or Google whose entire job is to “enhance the user experience”. If they’re not constantly dicking around, adding and removing features, changing what buttons do, moving things around … then they’re not doing their jobs.

There’s one sort-of-amusing upside to all this: it’s tricky to pirate software when that software calls home every time you use it. Guys who’ve gotten used to reinstalling the trial version every 29 days are despondent; why, they don’t even beg for serial numbers anymore.

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Get with the program

A refugee from the Department of Redundancy Department, I suspect:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Is there a site where you can hire programmers to program ideas for a program?

It’s almost a shame to tell him Yes.

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This will not be your only warning

Web sites in the European Union routinely warn you of the hazards of cookies, those tiny little files that get dropped on your computer so that you can stay logged in, keep shopping, or get tracked. This sort of thing is not required Stateside, but if it were, I’d kind of hope it read like this:

Cookies in use. If you’re in the EU, consider this a warning. This is a Blogspot site, so Google runs the backend. I don’t know what they are doing with the cookies and they’re not saying. If you are concerned that Google is tracking you, you should never visit a Google Blogspot site, use Gmail, or use Google as a search engine.

If you are concerned about being tracked on the internet, you should log off, shut down your PC, move to a cabin in the woods, grow your own food, never visit a bank, use a cell phone, or drive a car made after 1999. Don’t go outside and look up at the sky, either.

If you are visiting this site from a EU country, you should get an annoying popup at the top of the screen. If you want to see it, here it is in English.

Do I drop a cookie on you? If your name and email address and URL remain inside the comment box, even though you haven’t logged in any time in the last 10 years, then the answer is Yes.

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You were expecting maybe Blogger?, the official Web site of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, has changed its underpinnings:

Eight years ago, the Obama administration chose an open-source content management system to power the website. In 2017, the Trump administration also chose an open-source CMS, albeit a different one from what has been in use since 2009.

In October 2009, the open-source Drupal CMS was chosen to power the website, a move that was heralded at the time as a big win for both Drupal and open source. With relatively little fanfare, the website was relaunched on Dec. 15 using a WordPress CMS, instead of Drupal.

Why go through that sort of change? Some say it’s money:

According to a report in the Washington Examiner, the move to WordPress is all about cost saving, with the relaunched site saving U.S. taxpayers an estimated $3 million a year.

The distinguished developer and “open-sourceror” Snipe isn’t buying that explanation:

The decision for the whitehouse to move from Drupal to WordPress makes no sense. No money is saved, and more likely they will end up using insecure WP plugins (or risky defaults) which will increase the threat profile.

I’m also not buying the money-saving explanation, but I’m thinking purely politically here: the Trumpians wanted to toss Drupal because the Obama administration picked Drupal. No other reason is necessary.

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Shorts circuit

I can’t even think of an introduction for this:

[T]he Cleveland Clinic — the country’s leading center for clinical research in male fertility — found that men who keep their phones in their pocket for more than 4 hours per day experience a 50% reduction in sperm count! Here at SPARTAN, we didn’t want to this to threaten our modern life. We want to keep using technology without changing any of our habits. That’s why we have created the SPARTAN Boxers.

The product, briefly:

The SPARTAN Boxer is the boxer of the future. For the first time, we are bringing together design with innovation to create underwear that shields your family jewels from wireless radiation.

We’re bringing to underwear the same advanced technology used in space suits (no kidding!). We developed a unique technology, WaveTech, a high-tech fabric incorporating pure silver fibers within the cotton of the boxer. WaveTech acts as a faraday cage (or electromagnetic shielding), which prevents radiation from reaching your cherries. Our SPARTAN Boxers have been tested by the MET Laboratory, Baltimore, USA and they block over 99% of all cellphone and Wi-Fi radiation.

Is there a demand for this? Well, the Kickstarter goal was $2371; backers have put up about $27,000 so far.


Not the girl of your dreams

That cute little Filipino girl is actually a fairly sophisticated bot:

Dutch researchers say 1,000 men from around the world made contact with a 10-year-old “girl” in the Philippines during a 10-week investigation, many of whom wanted to pay her to take of her clothes in front of a webcam.

That was four years ago. “Sweetie” is now, um, twelve, and evidently she’s still a draw.

The “Sweetie” project first made headlines in 2013. It can now handle thousands of simultaneous conversations and send perpetrators warning messages.

The BBC says that at least 100 men from the UK have attempted to put the move on the fictional young lady.

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The machines will do us in

New computer, you say? Darling, it’s a nightmare dressed like a Chromebook:

I could just see it. It had everything: a processor so fast that it was measured in googlehertz rather than megahertz, more ram than the entire sheep population of New Zealand, a hard drive bigger than the Great Plains, and a megaplex sized-monitor capable of displaying 2.5 trillion ordinary colors at warp six and with such a blistering intensity that your eyes boiled in your skull. A broadband connection so huge it could suck the Library of Congress dry in a nanosecond. The CPU was covered in sable. The keyboard fashioned from rare woods. The wireless mouse was surgically implanted in my finger tip so all I had to do was gesture mystically.

The worst, however, was yet to come:

This Christmas puppy came loaded with Fritterware. It had Openfly OS, BrokenWindows Version 6.66, HomelessOffice 2020, Chrome Crunch, TurboSax, iEverthingEverywhere and Schlong. Ye Olde Paperclip was back as the host of my new computer’s “interactive” training program aptly named RageMaker.

You can see where the problem lies:

Nothing is worse than a fully loaded new computer, and I’ve been using them for nearly 40 years. Setting up a new computer is like getting ready to French Kiss an elephant; you know it will be a new experience, but you know it won’t taste like veal cordon bleu.

Which is why I had my last one assembled by a local builder: he doesn’t dare install all that crap, because it would cut into his margin. (OS is a legit Win7 Home Premium; it’s the single most expensive component in the box.)

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I have no idea how it went

A little warning came down the pike last week, and they followed it up yesterday:

We recently alerted you to an impending operating system upgrade of your individual VPS instance on the host machine, “iad1-vshost221.”

The day of your upgrade has arrived! Within the next few hours we’ll be upgrading your VPS and its host machine from Ubuntu Linux version 12.04.5 LTS (also known as Precise Pangolin!) to 14.04.5 LTS (aka Trusty Tahr!).

If you have more than one VPS and aren’t sure which one is on this host machine, you can check the Support / Data Centers page in your DreamHost Panel.

The upgrade will be done in two phases. First, we’ll upgrade your host machine, which shouldn’t take longer than an hour. Once this is complete, we’ll begin sequentially upgrading the VPS guests, which may take up to 25 minutes. Keep in mind, this means there are two separate periods during which your VPS (and websites) will be unavailable.

In most cases, you won’t need to do anything to prepare for the upgrade. Just kick back and let us handle the tough stuff!

LTS, in Ubuntese, seems to denote a stable release that will be supported for long periods of time, which would make sense in view of the fact that they’re replacing a 2012 version with one from 2014.

And I didn’t even notice it happening.


Crazed criteria

Syntax nothwithstanding, you’d think this was a straightforward question:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: What is makes a battery good?

But no, this guy has an agenda the size of a farking wall:

I mean Laptop battery, one cost $18.00 in wallmart and the other one $119.00 plus taxes schipping and procesing, hundred dollars of difference what the F…

I really do need a battery the one that i have i paid 25 bucks in some dirty, dreadfull and flirty website place with no “trust” green sight and last two month only 2 years ago and now, i saw an 18 bucks battery in wallmart, what the hell…wait a minutes, everything in walmart are made in Mexico, mostly china or another country with dictatorial regimen support for Trump and his henchmen. That telling that something might be wrong with this particular battery, something smell like “chorizo” no good.

That is what my question about batteries is that for, thanks for bright me with your patient and intelligency, thanks a lot cuz google works schit on this peculiar issue.

I’d ask him for a source that details the Mexican government’s support for Donald Trump, but I’d have better luck asking the neighborhood ferret quantum-mechanics questions.

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Spite tonite

For this dullard, anyway, revenge is a dish best served as malware:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Can keyloggers be detected in word documents if sent to recipient? Will that persons computer catch the keylogger?

Here is where it gets really stupid:

I’m trying to get back at an individual who hacked into my computer via IP address. This is purely for ethical reason not some utter bullcrap. I just want to make sure the keylogger is undetected

Sorry, Charlie, but Utter Bullcrap rules this day. If someone actually hacked into your premises, which is probably unlikely, getting an email from you will set off all his warnings and your script-kiddie malware drop will never do a thing. Either come out and fight like a man — pistols at sunrise, I propose — or clamber back into the basement and learn how to protect yourself.


A reason for gratitude

Disk space. Blessed, wonderful disk space, bordering on, sometimes even exceeding, adequate. You can’t know how wonderful that is unless you were around when such a thing was simply not possible:

During the late Eighties and early Nineties, I did my salaried work on a VAX, as did all my colleagues. At first, the storage space on that machine consisted of a single disk pack: a stack of magnetic platters bound together that was manipulated by a washing-machine-size drive. The capacity of that pack, the sole storage available to some thirty software types, was a mind-blowing 32 MegaBytes.

What’s mind-blowing, really, was not the 32 MB, but the fact that 30 users were expected to work within that space.

Our problem was complex, in that the compiler for the language we used — CMS-2M, a Navy proprietary language that’s no longer of importance — produced big intermediate files. It was practically impossible to compile a source module given the disk quota. So the SysAdmin had to make provisions for “temporary overflow:” i.e., an amount of extra storage available to each user, over and above his quota, that he could exploit while he was logged on. He couldn’t save anything in the overflow space, but he could use it to run compilations and linkages. The moment he logged off, anything in the overflow region would disappear.

The Law of Unintended Consequences struck at once. After the temporary overflow provision was enacted, no one ever logged off. Pretty soon the disk was at 99.9% capacity. VMS ceased to function properly for lack of disk space.

In 1990, I was working on a startlingly up-to-date IBM midrange: a System/36 with a tremendous 200 megabytes of what IBM persists in calling DASD. I was starry-eyed for about a week, when the weekly cleanup routine dropped into my schedule. This cleanup was accomplished by setting delete indicators, copying the production files less any records to be deleted, then removing the originals. (You may be sure that an hour before I launched this, I cranked up our little QIC drive and backed everything up.) Eventually this scheme ran afoul of the laws of physics as understood by Big Blue: you are not allowed the luxury of fragmented files. Every file must start here, end there, and get there using only the sectors in between. When we started seeing production files going over 100 MB, this routine would crash unceremoniously, and while there was no data loss, there was also no file reorganization going on, so the files kept getting bigger. Alternative storage? Well, we had magazines containing half a dozen 8-inch floppies, which would hold maybe 7 MB total. The right answer, though, came in the spring, when the entire machine, previously the size of a Speed Queen washer-dryer pair, was replaced by a box half the size with ten times the space.

For the record, I’m now working on an IBM Power System box. Available DASD, for the moment: 1.5 TB. Quantity in use: 73 percent. Threshold at which the system will shut down for lack of space: 90 percent.

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Where has all the toner gone?

Not a very long time spilling:

Printer toner all over the goddamn place

In case of such a misadventure, some useful advice:

Don’t try to vacuum it up. Holes in most air filters are larger than particles of ink, so you’ll just launch them all up in the air.

Edit: also, that powder is very flammable. It’s static too, so electricity can build up in the tube, causing sparks. And it’s also cancerogenic. Fun combination!

Hazmat team to the server room, stat!


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Firefox and friends

I think I reached this point many months ago:

My Firefox browser just “updated” to 57. I promptly backdated it to 56.0.2 and turned off automatic updates.

I have a bunch of add-ons I use with Firefox — one of which is essential for the way I publish this blog — and the browser’s new paradigm has already ruined one of them. 57 broke another and I’ve had enough. The aforementioned extension that enables me to publish the Tally Book conveniently would be one of those I’d lose with 57, so 57 simply had to go.

I grew weary of Firefox’s feeping creaturism about the time they told me I really needed the tabs to be moved, because reasons. I then installed the Pale Moon browser, version 24.4.2, and set it up to look as much like the last Firefox version I could stand. Now at 27.6, it still looks like that long-ago-forgotten Firefox, though most of the code, originally a fork of Mozilla’s, has been rewritten, and a whole new rendering engine has been shoved under the hood. It has a couple of quirks, but so what else is new?

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Little slices of time

I’ve always been an op, not a coder: I could pound on a DECwriter, I could change a ribbon on some arcane IBM printer like the 4214, and when called upon, I could speak some pidgin version of VAXese. But I remember these days frighteningly well:

The last time I went down this road I wrote my own search function that would return the element with the closest value to my requested target. I also wrote my own insert and delete routines. I did this because when I went to school everything about computer programming was about saving CPU cycles. Beginning programmers got seven seconds of execution time on the mainframe. I screwed up once in a junior level class and burned my entire semester’s allotment before the OS kicked me off. That rated some words from my professor.

I wonder why it took me so long to figure this out. I’m thinking it might because most of the programming work I did involved making things work, and there was no end to it. Well, I guess it did come to an end which is why I am unemployed. Computer companies eventually got their acts together and started building machines that worked when you turned them on, and software companies started producing software that people could use to do something useful. Took a while but they eventually got it sorted.

I got a reminder of this last week when I ran an optimization cycle on the database that underlies this site. Cut the size from 125 MB to 121. And I remembered my very first hard drive, which would hold almost one-sixth of that database — reluctantly.

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