OK, wreckers. It's 'fess up time!

Page 8 of 16  
I couldn't afford the Heathkits.
1). Teletype connected to University of MN 2). Univac AN/YUK ... can't remember anymore. US Navy, CRPI (Card Read/Punch/Interpreter), reel to reel tapes. 3). IBM CE training on the EAM equipment (029 keypunch, 402 accounting machine) 4). Burroughs L8200 - First in the Navy, 12k RAM, 3 cassette tape drives - ones you didn't have to press "play" to make work. 5). IBM 360/40, with Memorex's version of the 2314 what was it? 29mb removable packs. The Ops manager was so excited as they were the first voice-coil activated drives to replace the hydraulic actuators. The venerable 1403-N1 printer. 6). Brief encounter with IBM 1401, and I think 10mb removable disk packs. To reproduce a deck of cards you had to interleave blank cards with the source. And the printer included some kind of inverted comb. 7). Commodore Vic-20, 4kb of ram, and sprites! 8). Commodore 64 9). PC Junior, stacked with expansion jazz 10). Dual-processor Compaq "luggable" with 80186 daughter board, there wasn't enough oomph left in the power supply to run a 20mb HDD. ...
Joe Gorman said the following on 1/6/2005 7:34 AM:

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I've never seen "5MB" spelled that way before. And it _was_ huge, grep "Hawk removable platter". Big blue thing, maybe 16" in diameter, around 2" thick, big white handle on the top to lift it out of the drive. I think my drive had 5MB fixed, 5MB removable. Size of a small washing machine.
Fun times...
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I'm not as "ancient" as some, but my first computer was a sinclair Z-81 with 2k or 3k of memory, 1980. Cost an amazingly low $200 then. I later moved up to a Timex-sinclair T-1000 with 16K of memory, using my tape recorder as a storage device. Moved up again to an Atari 400 with their tape drive and 16K memory, got a MPP (now USR) 300 baud modem, then a 1200 baud modem for "only" $175. I remember picking up 10DSDD 5.25" floppies for the incredible low price of 19.95, and I didn't even have a floppy drive yet then. an Atari 800, a few Atari ST's, including the areas first 20mb HD made for it ($600 IIRC). Back then, slide show programs were intended to read off floppies and show them as fast as they could load. When I tried it on the HD, it flashed through the images about every 2 seconds. :)
I finally "upgraded" to a PC when my last ST died.
John
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Ha! That's funny. I loved those machines. They had the best gui. Gem Desktop, I think it was. I had a garage business going where I would solder in the sockets and pop in the chips to turn the Atari ST520 into the ST1040. Then you'd get your host controller, your external drive enclosure and you were smokin with a 20 meg HD. I still get warm fuzzies thinking about all the bulletin boards I dialed up way back then. Remember how frustrating it was to get the constant busy signal on the really popular ones?
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mark wrote:

Yeah, and the really schmootzy ones had two or three phone lines.
Back then the only real-time chatting you ever did was with the sysop. Sysops could never type worth a damn.
I find the same is true more broadly of the general population now that instant messaging stuff is abundant. I never have been able to adapt to real-time. I don't IRC or ICQ or AIM or blah blah blah because I can't stand to sit there for 45 minutes waiting on the putz on the other end of the line to finish a sentence.
I don't type fast enough to pass a typing test for a secretary job, but I type leaps and bounds faster than anyone I've ever chatted with online. I find it all but impossible to believe that vast numbers of office types can hammer out words faster than I can.
Wow, now there's a thought. Best non-woodworking thing you ever bought. Has to be the Microsoft Natural Keyboard from 1991. I forget how many millions of words I've typed on this thing, but it's up there. Hrm. 4,500,000 as a very, very conservative estimate. It might be up to three times that.
Damn I yack a lot.
The new ones are crap, and this one exceeded its life expectancy several million switch cycles ago, I'm sure. I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I really, really, really hate the new ones. Anybody want to get rid of an early '90s vintage Microsoft Natural Keyboard, from before they redesigned it, when they were still made in the USA?
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Hey now... I could always keep up with the 300 baud modem, y'know.

It's different with IM though, because you don't see what they're typing real-time, like you did back in "the day" on BBS's and like with Unix 'talk'.

They do make good hardware. They should stick to their strengths, but sadly they feel like they need to do OS's also.
Dave "you read about Bill's BSOD at the CES again, right?" Hinz
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Dave Hinz wrote:

There's some modern internet based flummy where you do type in real time though, I think. I seem to remember watching letters crawl slowly across the screen and wanting to finish what they were trying to say already so they could just hurry up and get it out. That was in the post-BBS era, but I have no idea what it was. I've looked at a number of IM type things and IRC long enough to say "ewwwwwwwwwww" and go back to email.
I just don't get IM at all, really. People can send email in nearly real time, and there's no expectation that the person on the other end is going to sit there twiddling his thumbs while you get around to saying something that way.

They used to make good hardware. Their newer hardware is pretty crappy.
Their OS really is crappy. It's not even a war anymore. I can't help it that so many people either want to or are forced to run that bucket of crap. I'm just glad I don't have to fool with it very often.
I was over at my boss's daughter's house trying to fix her DSL. I was trying to do everything by the book for the tech support drone because I couldn't get it working without calling to find out what her password and stuff was supposed to be (that I asked her to please write down someplace safe the last time I had to do this.) After the copy of XP Pro that I had just installed about six months ago--which hadn't been used much ,at all since I put Linux on there for her--horked up for the fourth time in a row, I had to tell the drone "Look, I know this is going to scare you, but I HAVE to switch over to a real operating system. This piece of crap is driving me nuts." After I booted the Linux install it only took five minutes to get everything humming. Problem was Windows trying to be friendly and giving me cached versions of status pages from the modem because the internet connection was broken, and it assumed everything on the other end of an IP address had to be on the internet.
Or something. I could have figured it out, but I just didn't have the patience to continue screwing with it. Part of that is familiarity, and a large measure of it is pure crappiness.
Anyway, that whole experience was kind of funny. The tech drone at one point said something to the effect of "I'm glad you know what you're doing, because you lost me six pages ago." I really ought to figure out a way to do this kind of crap for a living. Problem is they don't actually want to hire someone who knows anything about this stuff to help people. They just want a drone to read a stack of FAQs.
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Actually, I never "got it" until I got into the job I now have. We work in different parts of the building, state, and country, but work together. When we're doing a deploy/release, there are folks in maybe 5 locations (plus usually at home if it's off-hours) all working together, getting whatever done. We go into Yahoo Messenger, open up a conference, and can all get to whoever else is on. Little side comments go on also, of course, usually smartass comments about the conference, not shared with the whole group.

Ah well, at least they're meeting expectations then.

I'm doing a "friends and family support" thing this weekend. Just loaded up my USB thumb drive with XP Service Pack 2, Grisoft's antivirus, AdAware, and the Firefox installer. Should do it. Trading this for having our ... dog groomed. And she's gonna feed me beer while I'm working, so it's a win-win as far as I'm concerned.

Yeah, I love that.

It's hard to find good tech support people, though, because either of us would quit if forced to do the job. Once in a while you get a good one. I called once for someone, new system. "OK, so do I use DHCP or do I need to set up an address? How about DNS? Right. What's your NNTP server? IMAP? POP3? Anything else like defaultrouter or web proxies? OK great, thanks. Nice to talk to someone who knows the answers, by the way.". How often does that really happen, though?

Ah. Somewhere in IE config is "show friendly error messages", you can turn that off and get actual meaningful things. (was that a 401 or a 403?)

Some of each, I'm sure.

Ah, so he was a good one, because he _recognized_ that you knew where to go. It's the ones who tell you blatantly wrong things that piss me off. "Reboot and clear your cache." "Um, why exactly?" "Because I can't go on to the next line in my script until you do that."

You've just summed up tech support hell right there.
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Dave Hinz wrote:

Yeah, it's kinda like database stuff I guess. I could learn it if I had to, but I have no personal use for it, so fooey on it.

:)
The last time I did one of these for a different "client" I went to the fridge after and took home *all* the beer. They got off cheap.

Yeah, like I can remember everybody's password for everything. Nine computers, eight routers, six cable/DSL/dialup modems. I don't even have a big "network" but it's big enough I need a crib sheet. I wrote down her particulars some place where *I* can keep up with it this time, so I can deal with future problems over the phone.

Probably. That's the other side of the problem, isn't it? Most of the people you deal with are too stupid to find their ass with both hands if you super glue both hands to their ass.

Probably about as often as the techs get someone like you on the phone, I imagine.
It happened to me once. About 3:00 AM. I called and got the doorman, answered the token questions to prove I wasn't an idiot, and I was lucky enough to get a drone with enough sense to realize I was talking about something, but he had no idea what it was. He passed me up to a real tech who had all kinds of actual working knowledge. It took two minutes to solve the problem, and the problem was UP-stream, thank you very much.

Neither. It just volunteered a cached page for me without asking. How friendly. Except it was a page from a router that was no longer connected, instead of a page from a DSL modem at the same address. How very helpful. I find Windows is frequently helpful that way.

Yeah, me too. "OK, I'm rebooting. Beep. There, I'm rebooted. Next question. Yes, this machine boots very fast. Next question please. It's a, um, Octegenarian 4000. They're new. Next question please." :)

I discovered a new kind of tech support hell on this one. They had some kind of voice recognition thing on the voice mail, so I had to talk to the HAL 9000 and tell it where I wanted to go. But I kept confusing it because I found the idea of talking to a voice mail thing so humorous that I kept giggling and making it lose its place in the tree. I kept imagining Scotty picking up that mouse. "Computah, Ah want information on transparent aluminum."
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On Sat, 08 Jan 2005 02:06:25 -0500, Silvan
... snip

Yep, that's becoming a problem for even regular users. My company's password policy requires changes every 90 days, the main LAN log-in then starts dunning you 20 days before password expires, asking, "Password expires in xx days, do you want to change now? (Yeah, right, tell me when I have a couple days left)" Then, in addition to LAN and main PC there are a minimum of 5 other applications, sites, or web log-ins that each require passwords, each changing every 90 days, each demanding various complexities or not allowing certain similarities to prior passwords. Now, I'm an engineer/engineering manager who has more than one or two things to think about each day and wasting brain cells memorizing each of these ever changing passwords is just not somehthing that even hits the bottom of my priority list. So, like every other user, all my passwords are written down -- yep those password policies really helped improve security, didn't they? Now, I won't say where those passwords are, but suffice it to say, I don't hide them under my keyboard or mousepad -- I have a little bit of operations security sense.
Sorry -- rant mode off
... snip

You know, the sad thing is that approaches like this are likely to succeed because the metrics being kept will show that 1) Number of calls to tech support decrease over time (obviously they are getting a better product out, it's not because people have given up on the product and support) and 2) Duration of calls has decreased (the automated menu is providing an optimal solution, it's not because callers get frustrated and give up)

+--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+ Now we'll just use some glue to hold things in place until the brads dry +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
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Mark & Juanita wrote:

They're on a big yellow Post-It note on the front of your monitor, right? :)
It floored me when I saw a machine at a, um, locally owned store which shall remain namless. The server responsible for handling all the credit card transactions for the store. Big yellow Post-It note with usernames and passwords right on it. Gee willakers Mrs. Cleaver, I wonder if I can figure out how to break into that machine?
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Silvan wrote:

My set up requires new passwords every 30 days. So the password on the second month is a 1 in front of the old ones, on the third month they revert to the original passwords, the fourth month gets the 1 back in front of them, and so on. Fortunately I only have 4 to keep up with. Hardest part is to remember whether this is a 1 or non 1 month.
Saw an article about passwords -- the security experts were saying that these foolish ideas about different passwords for everything plus the required frequent changes has caused the opposite result of what was desired. Security is worse because of the very thing you all mentioned -- a post it note with passwords and user names on the computer. If they are conscious of security they use the pale yellow instead of the neon green ones so they don't stand out as much. If they are real conscious of security, they hide it under the keyboard instead of taping it to the monitor.
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Mark & Juanita wrote:

One client of our has insane IMO requirements: 15 characters, must include at least a number and a special character, and NO WORDS! Usually for requirements like that I'll use the dictionary technique. Open a thick book, use the first word I see, open to another page, use the page number, open to another page & use the first word I see, etc. This client's policy wouldn't accept e.g. banana48file62uses323/count because it said "banana" was a word!
However, a password of this form is blessed. <g> aaaaaaaaaaaaa1/
-- Mark
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On Sat, 08 Jan 2005 19:52:23 GMT, "Mark Jerde"

Ostensibly this is to prevent dictionary-driven programs from trying combinations of words and numbers to break into a user's account. Now, applying the common sense rule here, coupled with the fact that most security protocols either lock out the user for a certain period of time (30 minutes, 2 hours, etc) or permanently (requiring sysadmin to reset the password) after 3 (or some other number) of failed login attempts -- given that the user hasn't chosen aardvark1 as a password, how long is it going to take an automated hacking program to get user access with brute-force attacks? Given the example you cite below, just because banana may be a word is not an aid to an attack on a system with a password lock policy.

Oooh, I can see how that is *much* more secure than the banana password :-)

+--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+ Now we'll just use some glue to hold things in place until the brads dry +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
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Mark & Juanita wrote:

Reminds me... I had a bit of fun once, for no particular reason. I decided to list out all the possible passwords for a... I don't remember, maybe 7 character password and write them to a file. I ran the program, and it filled up my 40 gig hard drive in practically no time, probably less than five minutes, and hadn't gotten much past stuff like @@@@@@! or whatever.
Of course I knew there were 13.4 bajillion different combinations, but that really drove it home. I never really thought about how big the resulting text file would be to hold them all listed out.
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Years ago, one of my Windows NT instructors mentioned two passwords to use that most people would never think of..
1. Rather than using conventional keyboard characters, use something from the extended ASCII character set by holding down the Alt key and using the numeric keypad to enter the ASCII equivilant number representing the character.
I believe he demonstrated by using the ASCII number equivilant to 'backspace'. Hold down the Alt key and enter using the numeric keypad, 008 then let off the Alt key. Not only would most people never think of it, it wouldn't display anything on the screen.
2. The other simpler example he used, was based on the fact that in NT at least, in User Manager for Domains, you can look up any user, but the field that lists the users password, displays 14 *'s no matter what the password is.
Simply use a password of 14 *'s. (**************)
One of the Salemen at our company, has a company issued laptop. He was having some problems with it one day, so he asked me to come take a look at it for him.
Yep, right on the OUTSIDE lid of the laptop was a piece of paper perhaps 4x6" with both his login name for the corporate network AND the password! Didn't even tape it to the INSIDE of the lid!
At least the way he taped it to the lid was such that when the laptop was open, anybody from across the room that looked at it would see it upside down....

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On Sat, 08 Jan 2005 02:06:25 -0500, Silvan

I did tech support for a while. The reason for the script (and the stupid questions) is to weed out the calls that are just someone who is trying to print with the printer off or something. I spent a lot of time on the phone with someone once because their system was running but the monitor was totally dead. I suspected it was unplugged (you sometimes just get a feeling from the person you're talking to). He absolutely *refused* to check to see if it was plugged in "I've been in this industry for x years and I know how to use these things." "OK, let's try it on a different outlet to see if it will work there before I have you ship the monitor back for a replacement." Long silence while he crawls behind the desk to "unplug" it. Suddenly he comes back on the line "Never mind." click.
A friend worked support for the local cable company. The "clearing question" for them was "what time does your VCR show?" If it was flashing 12:00 you could safely assume they were incapable of following instructions an you simply terminated the call and dispatched a service guy.
The point is that there is usually a reason for the stupid questions. When you deal with a Windows system reboots are a normal part of any debugging cycle because it is too stupid to forget anything until you turn the power off. Especially network stuff. I have had to turn off (power off, not just rebood) every system on my network and bring them back up again in order to restore communication. Win98 is really bad that way, but XP does it quite a bit too. I find it is not uncommon to need to reboot 15-20 times in order to make a network change work. There is no logical explanation (other than that Microsoft writes crummy software), but it *does* work a lot of the time. It frustrates the heck out of me to reboot four times with nothing changing and have it suddenly work on the fifth, but that's life in the MS world.
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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wrote:
... snip

You ought to try Windows systems on Novell networks. Not only do you have to power off, you have to unhook the LAN cable (and shake the bits out) before you can reboot and Novell forgets you were connected to the network. Part of this may be because of a stupid policy that only allows one simultaneous network logon per user id -- it's irritating as all get out when an app freezes the computer and simply re-booting won't get you back on the network.

+--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+ Now we'll just use some glue to hold things in place until the brads dry +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
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Tim Douglass wrote:

:)
Dad's job, growing up, was similar. I remember those conversations at 2:00 AM. "Is it plugged in?" Pause. "Is it PLUGGED IN?" Longer pause. "Is it turned on?"

Yeah, I know. That's why I humor them.

Right, which is why I don't run Windows at my house. I *can* do it, but it's not worth the hassle.
Although, I guess I won't be saying that too much longer. I'm going to throw Windows on my son's computer. I can't quite expect him to learn the Linux way of programming his Lego Mindstorms, and he's on the team at school. The trick is going to be making sure that pile of monkey guts doesn't figure out how to get onto the internet even though it will be plugged into a router. The last time I tried this, it said "Oh, I see you have installed a router. Now Internet Exploder is ready to acquire viruses for you." Maybe that would be friendly to some people, but I actually like having complete control over every aspect of my system. I'm not used to things happening without my express permission, and that annoys the hell out of me.
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Hey Michael,
I think you can block a range of ip addresses that the router will pass with a subnet mask. Set a static IP on your son's computer (say 192.168.0.129) and set the ROUTER subnet mask to 255.255.255.128. This should pass all addresses between 192.168.0.0 and 192.168.0.127, and reject all else (assuming you set your lan address to that particular block address).
I THINK that's the right approach ... you can still use the hub portion to allow connections on your lan, but the subnet mask will prevent him from crossing the divide to the real world.
Or, for even more fun, set the subnet mask on all your home computers to 0.0.0.0 (allow all to communicate), leave your router subnet mask set as 255,255,255,0; and set your son's computer to 192.168.x.y, where x is 1-255 (just not zero), and y is 0-255.
*****
Wouldn't WINE be a better approach however? It would allow you to retain your linux administration stuff, but allow the windows application a place to run (er die?). BSOD only kills the windows app, not the supporting OS.
HTH,
Rick

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