Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Windows 10 - Has nothing been learned after 20+ years?

I have a modest home network - my computer, my wife's computer and a couple of printers. It's been going for some time under Windows 10. Today, wishing to print to one of those printers, I received the following pop-up message:

Do I trust this printer?

Hmm, I've never really liked the cut of its jib. It never really fitted in with the other devices, always seemed a bit of a loner. Had its own agenda, if you know what I mean. Did a reasonable job of printing but would I want to rely on it in a crisis, say if I was being menaced by two big men in a dark alley? I know nothing of its family background. It might be the unstable one, the one that nobody in HP ever talks about. Maybe its references were forged and it is living a double life, secretly faxing away in the small hours to destinations unknown.

No, I don't think I can actually say I trust the printer. But what the  **** has that got to do with anything at all? I am sending print information for it to print. All I ask is that it should print the pages then stop.

And if you think this is all about installing a driver and ensuring that it comes from a trusted source and therefore that Microsoft are justified in asking the question, read the first paragraph of this column again. I've been connected to this printer for many months. Any damage that it may have done has been done long away and the results no doubt filed away in a dusty cabinet somewhere in the bowels of GCHQ (under "T" for "Total waste of time").

It staggers me that after more than 20 years of using Windows to connect to printers, such a message should appear at all. How the hell am I supposed to check the drivers and security settings built into a printer? I have physically connected it to my network. That is all that the system needs to know.

I am so glad I don't do front-line IT support anymore. This is the sort of event that makes one swear in front of innocent young ladies, punch holes into walls (the flimsy kind you get between cubicles) and bang down tea cups onto desks crowded with papers without first emptying contents of same. Not good for one's image as the cool guy who fixes things.

[Anyone with fond memories of AnthonyG as "the cool guy who fixed things" is cordially invited to share them with us. Thanks: Ed]

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Do You Sincerely Want To Be Rich?

Two men  (let's call them Del and Rodney) survived a boating accident and ended up on a desert island. They reconciled themselves to surviving there, knowing that their chances of being rescued were slim. They had some fishing gear and were pleased to find one coconut palm under which they could shelter.

After a couple of days, during which each had caught a few fish and found it hard work, a coconut fell at the feet of one (Del, as it happens). He was delighted and was on the point of opening it when he had a thought. "This nut will be good to eat" he mused "But in the long run fish is better for survival. I could trade this to my colleague for some of his fish and enjoy a rest from fishing."

He offered the coconut and was pleased that Rodney was interested in it.
"I'll give you two fish for it" said Rodney.
"Three would be better" countered Del.
"OK, three, you drive a hard bargain".
The coconut changed hands. That night Del was happy to have three extra fish and Rodney turned the coconut over in his hands.
"This is great" he thought "I've a got a coconut worth three fish. What a fine investment".

The next day was hot and Del was thirsty. "Wish I hadn't sold that coconut" he thought "Maybe I can buy it back." But Rodney wasn't keen to sell until the price was upped to five fish. Del had to spend a few hours catching them but in the evening he was once more the proud possessor of a coconut. He was just about to crack it open when he stopped.

"Hang on, this nut is now worth five fish. That's a 66% increase in value since this morning. What a fabulous investment. I'm going to hang on to this, I could be rich in a week". Rodney was thinking "Five fish, what a brilliant result on my investment, I could be rich in a week".  The next day Del traded the coconut for nine fish and bought it back later for fourteen. He had to make it a deal in virtual fish, or fish futures, as they called it but he didn't care because he assumed he would sell the coconut back for even more fish futures in the future.

After two week the coconut was worth 150 million fish futures and each man was so rich he ceased to fish altogether (why work in the hot sun when you are a millionaire?). They lazed about, occasionally trading the nut and fish futures for ever more ridiculous amounts, were discussing setting up a payments system based on the coconut (or on individual hairs, priced at a very reasonable 40,000 fish each), utterly failed to notice a ship on the horizon that sailed on by and eventually died of starvation. But they died rich, that's the point.

No resemblance with any real crypto-currency is intended. This column is not making any specific investment recommendations and if you lose money buying coconuts or fish futures, that is your lookout. As indeed it is if you buy any artificial "currency" knocked up by some wideboy in his shed and marketed to you as "The next big thing, everybody's buying it, don't miss the train".

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Dr. Commuter Helps Out ... the BBC

This is one of those questions that keeps on coming up, especially at this time of the year with so many unwanted or unsuitable Christmas presents being given. I can give a totally unequivocal and direct answer to this one - NO.

If you have any questions for Dr. Commuter, do please let us know at the usual address.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

What Every Man Wants For Xmas

Any bloke would be pleased to receive a decent pocket-knife for Christmas. So you can imagine I was well chuffed when Mrs C. handed over the following piece of hardware:

Ignore the pencil, that's only there to show the scale. What you may not realise is that this apparently keen piece of kit, with its embossed handle and serrated edge (perfect for scaling fish or something) is actually made of chocolate. Quite delicious, in fact, and we finished it off whilst watching Rowan Atkinson (as Maigret) sleep-walking his way through "Montmartre" (or a studio looking something like it) on TV. Seems like a good way to see in the festive season to me.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Red and the Blue

The decision by the Government to scrap our EU-compliant passport design in favour of the traditional British blue is a slap in the face for those who decry our glorious national history. At last we can say goodbye to the jackbooted symbol of Euro-bureaucrat oppression and the hated red covers that had every true-blue Englishman spitting with rage each time they had to be produced. No more, my friends, no more. Henceforth at airports we shall bound like gazelles over the queues of swarthy, unshaven foreigners as they frantically hold aloft their red  badges of shame. We shall merely gesture to the slight bulge in our pockets. "British, old chap. That's all you need to know" and surely the gates will open, the officials will touch their peaked caps in deference and customs men politely usher us down the "No questions asked" aisle and out into the bright air of freedom.

But why stop there? Why do we have to produce a passport at all? It should be enough to say, loud and clear at the frontier "Look here my good man, I'm a subject of Queen Victoria Elizabeth". And any insolence will be rewarded by either a sound thrashing with a bullwhip or a letter to the Times. And why, when we leave these hallowed shores, should we Brits have to pay foreign taxes that only go straight into the pockets of some greasy, sweating overweight man in a smoke-filled cafe? Duty-free at at all times should be the watchword, nay, our birthright. We should have the right to demand the lowering of all foreign flags as we go by, and hats to be doffed in our presence. For we are a proud nation (©N Farage) and what is the point in being proud if you can't get proper respect from the lesser breeds?

I see a bright future dawning, my friends. I can also see an unmarked ambulance arriving outside and two men in white coats consulting clipboards. I wonder what they can possibly want with me?