Backbytes, an irreverent and offbeat look at the lighter side of technology in blog format computing computing

BT keeps us in the dark

"Paul Starbrook isn't the only one fuming at BT," says Tony Johns at Tinuviel Software, who has also been a victim of BT's decision to block port 25, among other things.

"We had two days without email - no information from BT at all, either before or after. Fortunately we had a good ISP - Fasthosts - who opened up a new port to bypass this 'security' enhancement and posted the info on their site," he says.

So a weak cheer for the ISP industry, or at least some of it. "BT seems oblivious to the effect on its
customers, yet the Indian call centre regularly calls me at all times of the day and at weekends with
'offers' that I don't want.

"Why couldn't they spend some of this wasted time keeping the customer base informed?" he says.

We don't know. BT hasn't told us.

August 7, 2008 in backbytes | Permalink | Comments (0)

This one will run and run

Duncan Munro works for NHS Grampian Department of eHealth, so he knows a thing or two about sick technology.

He was looking at the data sheet of a 3Com 4500 26-port switch the other day (we are assuming this was during a lull in the excitement that pervades the Grampian region) and the mean time between failure rating of 47 years caught his eye.

"Will there be a prize given to anyone in 2055 who is still operating one of these switches? What speed will the rest of the network be running at?" he asks.

"Has there been a little old man tucked away in a test facility for the past 47 years waiting for one to break? Perhaps they can only claim their pension once it does. Does anyone else know of equipment destined to last that long?"

So many questions, all of which deserve an answer, we think. If you've been sitting in a back room for 47 years waiting for something to go wrong, this is your time in the sun.

August 7, 2008 in backbytes | Permalink | Comments (0)

Turn left at the living room

Our quest for sat nav stories brings us to Bodfari in North Wales, where Amanda Sandland lives in terror in a house on a tiny country lane that shows up on sat navs as a short cut.

Trouble is that lorry drivers who do everything their computer tells them to do have banged into her little house 15 times, leaving her with huge bills and even bigger insurance premiums.

Amanda's daughter has moved out, because she was frightened when a lorry ploughed into the house a few feet from her bedroom.

Now Amanda's too scared to watch TV in the front room in case she gets buried under the rubble.

"I don't blame the drivers," she told The Sun. "They are just following instructions."

August 7, 2008 in backbytes | Permalink | Comments (0)

Things get heavy for mobile users

Very many predictive text errors in our postbag, so let's kick off with Nick, who doesn't want his second name used for reasons that will become apparent.

"I have been caught out by the same error a number of times, when sending a text to a work colleague who's name is Heather. Unfortunately, the default prediction when entering her name is 'heavier'. This is bad enough but since she's rather large, I am sure you can see the trouble it has caused."

"Mobile phone predictive text, and Word's spell-checker, always suggests Dairymaid for my first name," says Diarmuid MacDonald.

"I guess it could be a lot worse." See above, Dairymaid.

"My phone insists on showing the word 'nun' instead of 'mum'. Why should 'nun' be considered a more commonly used word than 'mum'?" asks Richard Johnson.

f you are Nokia's chief T9 engineer, or whatever you are called, please advise.

August 7, 2008 in backbytes | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cod and quips on the menu

We've drained the well dry of computer games codpiece puns, but not, it seems, of codpiece anecdotes.

"When I was a D.Phil student in the 1970s, my wife worked as a typist for a local insurance office," says Ian Graham at TriReme International.

"She complained regularly about the inanity of the conversation, restricted to clothes, soap operas and what to cook their husbands for dinner." But one day she came home to report ecstatically the following dialogue:

"I just can't think what to make for Jack's tea tonight."

"Why not do some of them lovely new Birds Eye codpieces?"

August 7, 2008 in backbytes | Permalink | Comments (0)

Carried off at its convenience

First to the important stuff: “I can confirm that Jerry the cat has been captured and is back with its owners,” says our Polperro correspondent Kerry Hoskin, who combines this hazardous role with a job at Plymouth Marine Laboratory.
We are delighted to be building a regional network of dedicated reporters, but we have to deny his request for payment.
After all, we can find out everything from the village’s web site, including the news that the derelict public loo was sold at auction for £29,500.
On the other hand, as satnav-using lorries get themselves wedged in Polperro’s tiny streets again this summer, we are all looking forward to pictures.

June 17, 2008 in backbytes | Permalink | Comments (0)

Identities are immaterial

“I sometimes wonder about the vetting of readers’ articles,” writes a reader, “especially when you have contributions from readers such as Terry Lean.”
If you recall, Terry was the guy who was sent an excellent investment proposal in his spam from the Foreign Secretary.
“I know it’s quite likely that Terry is a genuine contributer and a very nice chap but who next? Maybe his brother Crimp, his cousin Polly Ester or Lynn Enn,” adds, er, “Ray Onne”.

June 17, 2008 in backbytes | Permalink | Comments (0)

Keep quiet about nuisance callers

We are not so much a campaigning page, more one that doesn’t know when to shut up. So we are happy to claim the credit for exciting – but probably useless – developments at the Telephone Preference Service.
“Since you featured my problem, TPS will now accept complaints about silent calls – but will not act on them,” says John Loader. “They now forward all complaints to Ofcom.”
It seems that when Ofcom set up the TPS, it did not know about autodiallers, so TPS simply does not have the authority to do anything. A tip: if you’re an irritating and malicious cold caller, it’s not making a call to a TPS-blocked number that will get you in trouble, it’s opening your mouth when you get through.
“When I worked for Post Office Telephones silent calls were treated as malicious and a crime, now they’re honest commercial practice,” John adds.
“How about a campaign to make silent calls illegal because of the effect they can have on vulnerable people?” 

June 17, 2008 in backbytes | Permalink | Comments (0)

Retro style

We commented three weeks ago that the computer studies exam paper that used the spelling “programme” was old-skool.
“It must be very old indeed – the spelling ‘program’ was adopted at the 1953 Conference on High Speed Digital Computers held at the National Physical Laboratory,” says Ross Morton.

June 17, 2008 in backbytes | Permalink | Comments (0)

Let’s hear it for the boys

Not everyone’s delighted with our thread about mothers who don’t understand technology. 
“Bet there won’t be any tales of IT-inept dads. Wouldn’t amuse the (presumably predominantly male) readership, would it?” asks a female reader.
Fair cop, we’re bang to rights, but when it comes to making fun of our relatives we can honestly say that we’re gender-neutral and hope you are too. Prove it, and pass on our apologies to mums who happily grasp science and technology.
But while we wait for funny male dimness: “In the days when cars had big shiny hubcaps, my mum spotted a large dent, on a neighbour’s car near the top of the hubcap,” says Martin Smale. “‘That must have been a very high kerbstone he hit,’ she said.”

June 17, 2008 in backbytes | Permalink | Comments (0)

 

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