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By TheophileEscargot (Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 08:35:35 AM EST) Reading, Me, MLP, OBMS (all tags)
Reading: "They Do it with Mirrors","A Victory of Eagles". Me. Web.

What I'm Reading
My third Agatha Christie was They Do it with Mirrors, a 1952 Miss Marple. Not as good as the last two which were apparently her classics: not a particularly ingenious murder. Maybe her Thirties books are better?

Random Agatha Christie fact from MR: "In Agatha Christie’s autobiography, she mentioned how she never thought she would ever be wealthy enough to own a car - nor so poor that she wouldn’t have servants."

What I'm Reading 2
Latest Temeraire book was A Victory of Eagles. Bit of a change of tone for this one: Laurence is in a somber mood after being convicted of treason and Napoleon invades Britain and it's a bit darker than the others. Good to see it going in an unexpected direction: alternate histories sometimes seem a bit too tied to real history.

This is the most recent novel, so not much more for the moment. Apparently Peter Jackson has optioned the movie rights though: could be interesting if that gets through development hell.

Had an annoying project go live this week: basically just a ginormous database script making incredibly complicated data changes.

Main problem was that 4,000 of about 6,000 database rows relating to the main $ENTITY just disappeared from the live database at 4:30 PM on the first day.

Turned out the problem was partly my fault, partly the fault of the horrible legacy ASP application. The way it works is that it grabs all the related data from the database, lets the user edit it in the browser, then synchronizes the database again.

More specifically, the code deletes all the related data from the database, then goes through the data objects from the client, adding each row one by one. Without transactions, and with only a bubble-up error handler. So if something goes wrong 2,000 rows/objects in, the remaining 4,000 rows just vanish from the system.

So partly my fault, since the new data setup allowed the user to add an object with a duplicate primary key, which caused the initial error. However I do not feel terribly guilty, since it's not really a great way to do things. But I am slightly depressed at having to take the blame.

Home Computer Woes
The "CPU Fan Failure" message kept happening, so I took it back to the shop. Took photos as hulver suggested, but fortunately this time it failed front of them. They're going to get someone from Dell in to look at it: I suggested they replace the fan with one from one of the other models, but they thought it might not be the fan at fault.

The saga continues. Only hope the Dell guy doesn't refuse to admit there's a problem too: hopefully the shop guys will be keen to get rid of me for good and will insist.

When I'm dealing with this kind of thing, or I'm on a support line, I generally don't mention that I work with computers. It doesn't seem to make any difference to procedures, and I figure I'll be better placed to spot bullshit in case they try it. Plus I'm shit with hardware anyway. What do you guys do?

Finally managed to configure the last-computer-but-one for broadband now, so at least I've got some access, though it struggles with some things.

Operation Become More Stoic
Major backsliding in this department this week, as I allowed the incidents above to get to me, despite their triviality. Epictetus says:

When you have had enough to eat today, you sit down and weep about tomorrow's food. Slave! if you have it, well and good; if not, you will depart: the door is open-- why lament? What further room is there for tears?
Articles. UK Christians not persecuted. UK police forces large and expensive.

Pics. Old London

Video. Grey Bloke: What Facebook Is For. Omnidirectional treadmills. Model aeroplane POV (MeFi)

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Depressingly... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #1 Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 08:51:55 AM EST
I still know more about hardware than the average person employed to fix computers I've owned.

I generally don't say anything at first, because it's no fun being told how to do your job. Still, sometimes you have to say something, otherwise you'll be there all day.

I find that's often the case with many by ambrosen (4.00 / 1) #3 Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 08:59:07 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Police report... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #2 Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 08:54:13 AM EST
These three points present an interesting picture, not so much of the police and home office, but the people writing the report:

· The Home Office micro-manages policing, obliging forces to spend money on particular staff or equipment. One example of this was the recent rollout of a new national radio system, where forces that needed to replace their ageing systems were offered money by the Home Office to do so – but only if they opted for the Government’s preferred system. One estimate suggests that up to 60 per cent of the money spent by police forces – as much as £7 billion – consists of these earmarked grants.

· The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) is leading the development of a new national police database, but the first phase of this is still missing tens of millions of records, meaning that police in one region have no way of knowing if a suspect has committed crimes elsewhere. The NPIA has no power to compel forces to adopt the new Police National Database.

· There is no single IT system that forces can use; each of the 43 forces must pay to develop their own. Savings could be made in this and many other common areas – collaboration between Kent and Essex has generated savings of £2.8 million since 2007.

Yes I noticed that by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #9 Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 09:37:26 AM EST
They're not very consistent.

What I found most interesting was that the UK has the world's most expensive police force, even though they still seem to keep complaining that they don't have the resources...
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
It's worth noting that... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #11 Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 09:52:46 AM EST
the "most expensive force in the world" claim is referenced only to "Reform research" with no actual published data named.

That's a bit depressing. Especially because I vaguely remember when those figures were first bandied about and (for example) there was some suggestion that the authors hadn't taken into account how various portions of the US police budget were channeled through other line items (notably anti-drug efforts and homeland security.)

[ Parent ]
US police by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #13 Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 10:57:26 AM EST
Given the huge number of organizations involved in law enforcement in the US, it would be no simple matter to come up with a real cost number.  I also find it hard to believe that UK policing would be more expensive given all the expense dealing with interactions between police organizations on the Federal, state and local here in the US.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Knowledge by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #4 Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 09:11:22 AM EST
I generally don't say anything at first, but if they start using a script, I start saying things like "I can't ping the gateway" to avoid it taking forever.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
traceroute is my favorite magic word by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #6 Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 09:14:48 AM EST

[ Parent ]
yeah, ping or traceroute, etc by gzt (4.00 / 1) #10 Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 09:38:26 AM EST
Generally, though, with hardware issues, I let them go through the script, because I have very patchy knowledge of anything.

[ Parent ]
I don't mention familiarity with computers by garlic (4.00 / 1) #5 Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 09:12:36 AM EST
because sometimes I do need the guy on the phone to ask me to doublecheck that it's plugged in. Checking another fan seems like it'd be faster than getting a dell guy in to diagnose the issue, especially if you start insisting on a new box completely -- which would be my suggestion. Something going wrong with it and no attachment on your part means get a new one. The main benefit of the walk-in stores is being able to get it fast, and return it fast.

Humility by ucblockhead (4.00 / 3) #7 Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 09:28:01 AM EST
Ever since I discovered while talking to Creative on the phone that I'd plugged the speaker plug into the mike jack, I try to avoid taking umbrage at "stupid" questions.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Indeed! by R343L (4.00 / 2) #12 Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 09:54:13 AM EST
The other day, at work actually, while trying to figure out something with $OtherGroupDownSouth I was asked to check a few really, really obvious things. But I checked them anyway and took no umbrage. Because they should check the obvious things first because maybe I had overlooked them (stupid today? just stupid?  forgetful? doesn't matter why ...).


"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

[ Parent ]
Checking the fan by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #8 Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 09:34:50 AM EST
Well, the fan keeps spinning even when it's allegedly failed, so it may well be the motherboard or something. Also it's an intermittent fault, so it's a bit hard to just check a different fan: it might work by coincidence for a while.

I've installed and configured enough stuff I'd rather keep the existing hard drives at least.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
I thought by bobdole (4.00 / 1) #15 Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 03:10:19 AM EST
computer repairs these days usually involved ripping out the hard drive and replacing the rest, for it to be sent of to India or where ever, if at all, they salvage parts anymore.

-- The revolution will not be televised.
[ Parent ]
I build my own computers (except laptop of course) by Tonatiuh (4.00 / 1) #14 Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 11:59:37 PM EST
I always build my own, this is partly to avoid dealing with annoying technical support.

If something goes wrong I return the offending hardware and get a replacement part.

It is also interesting to do because  one gets up to date with the latest changes in technology.

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