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Randomness XVI: Brains versus Bleach - an Epic Rap Battle in Iambic Pentameter.

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12 hours ago, Erifnogard said:

Speaking of ghosts in the machine, the 'improved' credit card machine we were forced to 'upgrade' to at work crashes into a hard reboot if someone sticks a Capitol One credit card into the chip reader.  Every time.  A reboot takes 3-4 minutes.  :zombie:

 

Thankfully it will at least let us enter those by hand. 

Back when i worked in retail, we had one custome that couldn't use his credit card at the store at all.  If he inserted it into the chip reader it would cause the system (all three registers) to crash and reboot.  It had a chip so he couldn't swipe the card, and you couldn't  type in the number without rebooting the system the same way as the chip would.  And when i worked for the store with the bullseye logo, we still had the d readers that would actually pull the card completely into the machine, found out the hard way that those dont work very well with the fabled AmEx black cards.   Those particular cards are metal and slightly thicker than regular plastic cards and so got stuck in the system, thankfully there was a cutout on the bottom of the reader so you could push the card out manually.

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34 minutes ago, FaekiasDracon said:

Back when i worked in retail, we had one custome that couldn't use his credit card at the store at all.  If he inserted it into the chip reader it would cause the system (all three registers) to crash and reboot.  It had a chip so he couldn't swipe the card, and you couldn't  type in the number without rebooting the system the same way as the chip would.  And when i worked for the store with the bullseye logo, we still had the d readers that would actually pull the card completely into the machine, found out the hard way that those dont work very well with the fabled AmEx black cards.   Those particular cards are metal and slightly thicker than regular plastic cards and so got stuck in the system, thankfully there was a cutout on the bottom of the reader so you could push the card out manually.

That tells me that the problem had to have been somewhere in the point of sale software/data files. 

 

Visa, MasterCard and Discover all have 16 digit card numbers.  The first digit tells what type of card it is - Visa is 4, MC is 2 or 5, Discover is 6.  For Visa and MC, the next 5 digits are the issuing bank and their card type - business, gold card, etc. Those first 6 digits and the next 9 digits are the customer number.  The last digit is a checksum that is calculated with a Luhn algorithm from the other 15 numbers.   Discover is the same, only I don't know how many digits are used to id the issuing bank.  Likewise, for Amex, but they only have 15 digits and start with 3.  When a card is manually entered, typically the checksum is the only way to verify it's a valid card, until the issuing bank is contacted and other things like expiration date and CVC/CVV code are verified.  Mag stripe and Chip have additional info that the system can use - so a corrupted mag stripe or bad chip could have many other things that caused problems besides the card number.

Anyway, if manually typing the card number in also crashed the system, it would most likely have to be doing it as a result of the checksum calculation OR because the card number had somehow been flagged within the POS system itself. 

 

If it was the checksum calculation, some software engineer had a huge bug in their code or the code was corrupted in that particular system.   Probably some divide by zero error that only a few cards would trip. 

My guess would be that the card was somehow flagged in an internal POS database, and that customer's card entry was corrupted.  A lot of POS systems tie card numbers to an internal database for blacklisting and/or marketing purposes.  The systems I work on have an internal blacklist - if a card pre-authorized at the set pre-auth amount, but is declined for the final balance, our system will internally black list the card so that the same card can't be used again without taking to management.    Other POS systems tie the card numbers to marketing or customer convenience - for example, Home Depot and many other retailers have long offered to email you your receipt.   I can easily see how an internal entry in the database could get corrupted and cause issues. 

Do you know if it was ever resolved for the customer? 

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2 hours ago, kristof65 said:

That tells me that the problem had to have been somewhere in the point of sale software/data files. 

 

Visa, MasterCard and Discover all have 16 digit card numbers.  The first digit tells what type of card it is - Visa is 4, MC is 2 or 5, Discover is 6.  For Visa and MC, the next 5 digits are the issuing bank and their card type - business, gold card, etc. Those first 6 digits and the next 9 digits are the customer number.  The last digit is a checksum that is calculated with a Luhn algorithm from the other 15 numbers.   Discover is the same, only I don't know how many digits are used to id the issuing bank.  Likewise, for Amex, but they only have 15 digits and start with 3.  When a card is manually entered, typically the checksum is the only way to verify it's a valid card, until the issuing bank is contacted and other things like expiration date and CVC/CVV code are verified.  Mag stripe and Chip have additional info that the system can use - so a corrupted mag stripe or bad chip could have many other things that caused problems besides the card number.

Anyway, if manually typing the card number in also crashed the system, it would most likely have to be doing it as a result of the checksum calculation OR because the card number had somehow been flagged within the POS system itself. 

 

If it was the checksum calculation, some software engineer had a huge bug in their code or the code was corrupted in that particular system.   Probably some divide by zero error that only a few cards would trip. 

My guess would be that the card was somehow flagged in an internal POS database, and that customer's card entry was corrupted.  A lot of POS systems tie card numbers to an internal database for blacklisting and/or marketing purposes.  The systems I work on have an internal blacklist - if a card pre-authorized at the set pre-auth amount, but is declined for the final balance, our system will internally black list the card so that the same card can't be used again without taking to management.    Other POS systems tie the card numbers to marketing or customer convenience - for example, Home Depot and many other retailers have long offered to email you your receipt.   I can easily see how an internal entry in the database could get corrupted and cause issues. 

Do you know if it was ever resolved for the customer? 

I dont know if the issue was ever resolved, it hadn't been when i left that job in 10/2016.

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55 minutes ago, Jasper_the_2nd said:

 

82196569_2481123018820792_1786680797130915840_n.jpg?_nc_cat=106&_nc_oc=AQksrm140sIEY0k9OTfEvyZ4RSaPNthF8HMuEEIQ68GstU8IXxUBI6P6r9IdYNpgI0k&_nc_ad=z-m&_nc_cid=0&_nc_zor=9&_nc_ht=scontent.xx&_nc_tp=1002&oh=49b93a9c21befe6ff63e118c7e2b9fa3&oe=5E993592

 

Bravo Alpha Romeo Kilo! Over!

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I meant to post this the other day, but apparently got distracted.

Saint John has a lot of very lovely churches. Some great architecture.  

But one is unfortunately currently being torn down (according to the news the real estate investor who bought the property wanted to save and restore it, but had multiple specialists look at it and it was deemed to far gone.....so he's planning to put up an apartment complex there instead....you can apply your own personal level of skepticism to that).

Whenever I go to the 5th floor to get something from the cafe, that's the first thing you see.  So I finally remembered to take a pic.

church.jpg.d46724d8d7e0e8d85b7b74c11dbed429.jpg

 

I remembered today because I went to get a pop and most of the middle is gone now.  I'll try to take a pic later....if it is still there.

 

I love old buildings and architecture so I'm always a little sad to see one being torn down...

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This is not my usual rant about an individual owner that won't upgrade - this one is about a corporation.  I'm putting this one in a timeline, because it paints the bigger picture with fewer words. 

1996 -  Car Wash Teller Gen 1 system designed and released. Gen 1 teller designs are based on tech * tech manufacturer had been using in Gas & Oil field industry since mid 80s. 
1999 - Customer X installs Gen 1 Teller systems at multiple sites from their regional distributor
2002 - I begin working for the master US distributor of these systems
2003-  Gen 2 teller system designed and released using latest chip sets
2005 - Gen 1 teller system discontinued, remaining systems put on sale, tentative end of life is estimated to be 2010

2006 - last Gen 1 teller sold
2006 - I start my contract with the manufacturer when the master US distributor closes

2007 - Customer X's regional distributor goes out of business. I begin handling all service with Customer X's head service tech. Since I had dealt with him a few times over the last fibve years already, we're already on a first name basis. 

2012 - Effective end of life for Gen 1 teller systems is reached as we no longer have many critical parts to repair them. All Gen 1 customers advised to budget to replace tellers. and do so at their earliest convenience. 
2012 - Dial up credit card processing support for new customers is discontinued due to changes in Payment Card Industry rules. All existing dial up customers are advised their current provider is currently grandfathering them, but changing their merchant number for any reason will require upgrading to internet credit card clearing.

2014 - Gen 3 teller system designed and released

2014 - Backwards compatibility of control computer with Gen 1 systems is formally dropped. All Gen 1 customers are advised of this
2016 - Customer X is purchased by a larger corporation, thus requiring new merchant numbers, thus requiring an upgrade of the control computers to internet.  Customer X and their new owners are advised that they should buy new tellers as new software may not be 100% compatible with their old system.  Customer X declines, and upgrades control computer only, leaving Gen 1 tellers in place. 
2017-2019 - Customer X advised multiple times that the situation is growing more dire and their tellers are obsolete. Head tech there is pretty good, and they have replaced one site, so they're limping along the 3 remaining sites with parts from that site and old tellers they've bought from other regional sites who've pulled out Gen 1 tellers, including their biggest competitor in the area. 
2020 (today) - Customer X head service tech calls because they can't get Feature Y to work for a new fleet customer at one of their locations.  Feature Y hasn't worked on Gen 1 tellers since 2014 - only legacy fleet accounts created before 2014 and marked as "don't convert" during the upgrade process will work. Gen 2 tellers require a different method that is incompatible with Gen 1 tellers. Customer X once again advised that they need to replace their Gen 1 tellers. 

Since they've been using the new software for 3.5 years, and just now noticed that Feature Y no longer works for new fleet accounts, it was hard to have sympathy for the problems this is going to cause them with their new fleet customer, which is a local Police Department. :lol:

What makes this funnier is that the same parent corporation just replaced a Gen 2 teller with a Gen 3 one when they purchased a smaller operator in a different state and were advised the control computer needed the internet update if they wanted it to take credit cards. They chose to just replace the entire system, rather than deal with the upgrade, at 4x the cost.    That tells me that the corporation's wallet isn't the problem, it's the people specifically in charge of Customer X's locations. Or it's because the head tech is too good at keeping old equipment running. 
 

 

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7 minutes ago, Jasper_the_2nd said:

I meant to post this the other day, but apparently got distracted.

Saint John has a lot of very lovely churches. Some great architecture.  

But one is unfortunately currently being torn down (according to the news the real estate investor who bought the property wanted to save and restore it, but had multiple specialists look at it and it was deemed to far gone.....so he's planning to put up an apartment complex there instead....you can apply your own personal level of skepticism to that).

Whenever I go to the 5th floor to get something from the cafe, that's the first thing you see.  So I finally remembered to take a pic.

 

I remembered today because I went to get a pop and most of the middle is gone now.  I'll try to take a pic later....if it is still there.

 

I love old buildings and architecture so I'm always a little sad to see one being torn down...

I love old buildings, too, especially churches. 

We have a similar problem in our town. The previous school administration building was the old high school built in 1921 and retired in 1980.  It's a gorgeous building on the outside, but it has a lot of structural and insulation problems, a large part of which are because the foundation wasn't done well for the soil type it's on.   It was cheaper for the school district to move the admin offices to a new smaller building last year than it was continue to pay the utility bills at the new building and the school board opted to spend money on some much needed expansions at the HS and JH rather than refurbish the old building. 

The old building is going up for sale soon. The town is hoping that someone will buy it and spend the exorbitant amount of money needed to restore it, but a lot of us are resigned to the likelihood that it will just be torn down. 

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Spoiler

Image result for alligator vs. austrailian salt water crocodile size"

 

The Australian Saltwater Crocodile.  Does not tick.  Will not ask you if you think that's a knife.  May like belly scritches.  Significant downside if he does not.

 

@Erifnogard - please do not send your gators to Australia.  The Irwins are already hip deep in small helpless animals.

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2 hours ago, kristof65 said:

This is not my usual rant about an individual owner that won't upgrade - this one is about a corporation.  I'm putting this one in a timeline, because it paints the bigger picture with fewer words. 

1996 -  Car Wash Teller Gen 1 system designed and released. Gen 1 teller designs are based on tech * tech manufacturer had been using in Gas & Oil field industry since mid 80s. 
1999 - Customer X installs Gen 1 Teller systems at multiple sites from their regional distributor
2002 - I begin working for the master US distributor of these systems
2003-  Gen 2 teller system designed and released using latest chip sets
2005 - Gen 1 teller system discontinued, remaining systems put on sale, tentative end of life is estimated to be 2010

2006 - last Gen 1 teller sold
2006 - I start my contract with the manufacturer when the master US distributor closes

2007 - Customer X's regional distributor goes out of business. I begin handling all service with Customer X's head service tech. Since I had dealt with him a few times over the last fibve years already, we're already on a first name basis. 

2012 - Effective end of life for Gen 1 teller systems is reached as we no longer have many critical parts to repair them. All Gen 1 customers advised to budget to replace tellers. and do so at their earliest convenience. 
2012 - Dial up credit card processing support for new customers is discontinued due to changes in Payment Card Industry rules. All existing dial up customers are advised their current provider is currently grandfathering them, but changing their merchant number for any reason will require upgrading to internet credit card clearing.

2014 - Gen 3 teller system designed and released

2014 - Backwards compatibility of control computer with Gen 1 systems is formally dropped. All Gen 1 customers are advised of this
2016 - Customer X is purchased by a larger corporation, thus requiring new merchant numbers, thus requiring an upgrade of the control computers to internet.  Customer X and their new owners are advised that they should buy new tellers as new software may not be 100% compatible with their old system.  Customer X declines, and upgrades control computer only, leaving Gen 1 tellers in place. 
2017-2019 - Customer X advised multiple times that the situation is growing more dire and their tellers are obsolete. Head tech there is pretty good, and they have replaced one site, so they're limping along the 3 remaining sites with parts from that site and old tellers they've bought from other regional sites who've pulled out Gen 1 tellers, including their biggest competitor in the area. 
2020 (today) - Customer X head service tech calls because they can't get Feature Y to work for a new fleet customer at one of their locations.  Feature Y hasn't worked on Gen 1 tellers since 2014 - only legacy fleet accounts created before 2014 and marked as "don't convert" during the upgrade process will work. Gen 2 tellers require a different method that is incompatible with Gen 1 tellers. Customer X once again advised that they need to replace their Gen 1 tellers. 

Since they've been using the new software for 3.5 years, and just now noticed that Feature Y no longer works for new fleet accounts, it was hard to have sympathy for the problems this is going to cause them with their new fleet customer, which is a local Police Department. :lol:

What makes this funnier is that the same parent corporation just replaced a Gen 2 teller with a Gen 3 one when they purchased a smaller operator in a different state and were advised the control computer needed the internet update if they wanted it to take credit cards. They chose to just replace the entire system, rather than deal with the upgrade, at 4x the cost.    That tells me that the corporation's wallet isn't the problem, it's the people specifically in charge of Customer X's locations. Or it's because the head tech is too good at keeping old equipment running. 
 

 

When BAM had its PoS software and systems put in there was ONE person in the installation company that had to do every store with the PoS system.

 

And he wasn't available.

 

So our Admin user name remained Admin, with a password IMBEDDED IN THE SOFTWARE that was CHANGEME.

 

On a PoS interface.

 

And it remained that way for two years until that ONE person could fit us in his schedule. That's two years for US. The bug had been there for years before that.

 

Because he had written a patch for the problem, but wasn't allowed to put it in general distribution because he was not one of the software engineers from the company that wrote the software, and they didn't want to contract him for that patch.

 

He boasted that the patch didn't even take a half meg.

 

But weird contracts gave only him the rights to install that half meg patch, and only for his clients, and only through that one company using the software that they were authorized support and distribution for.

 

For thousands of stores in hundreds of chains.

 

As long as he was the only one installing it, it counted as "field testing".

 

And he only had that right because the patch was a candidate for general distribution that never happened.

 

Because they were working on a new version of the software that NEVER HAPPENED. And the software company had outsourced tech support to India.

 

He HATED that patch, and if he had known how big a chunk of his life it was going to screw up he would have posted it on the net, rather than trying to go through channels. He was running from location to location for the better part of ten years.

 

For an installation and testing that only took an hour at each location.

 

But once his name was on it as a candidate, he COULDN'T PUT IT ON THE NET.

 

And there were a vast number of similar patches, and if he ever had to work on a system with one of those unofficial patches he had to make a Batch file of all the data, erase the data, revert the system to its unaltered state, load the Batched data, test it, install HIS test version of the patch, and test it again.

 

We were a security breach, but kept the Admin and CHANGEME, because OUR contract would have been breached if we had installed any of those unofficial patches ourselves. But, fortunately we never even knew about those patches. Because our management didn't include any Sys Admins, or techies in general.

 

But the Inventory and database on the software really was top notch.

 

It was ONLY the PoS that we had licensed as part of the corporate bundle that was the problem.

 

You can take PoS to mean either Point of Sale, or...

 

Then I was reading an urban fantasy short story, where the werewolf was a Sys Admin, and he was kvetching about THAT EXACT SAME BUG! I instantly knew that Patricia Briggs had had to use that exact same PoS!

 

And it was going to be a permanent resident in her head. ::P:

 

 

Edited by PaganMegan
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3 hours ago, kristof65 said:

 They chose to just replace the entire system, rather than deal with the upgrade, at 4x the cost.    That tells me that the corporation's wallet isn't the problem, it's the people specifically in charge of Customer X's locations. Or it's because the head tech is too good at keeping old equipment running. 
 

 

 

I've known guys like that who take it as a personal challenge to keep stuff running in whatever creative way possible. 

 

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4 minutes ago, Inarah said:

 

I've known guys like that who take it as a personal challenge to keep stuff running in whatever creative way possible. 

 

I MARRIED a guy like that. <_<

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3 minutes ago, Inarah said:

 

I've known guys like that who take it as a personal challenge to keep stuff running in whatever creative way possible. 

 

The bubblegum and baling wire method of operation!  We had some plants like this.  prided themselves on how long they could keep something operational.  Worst case was when I was in Tucson.  The plant finally retired their ammonia compressors... and donated one to the Smithsonian Institute and the other to the Arizona museum of Mining.  they were the first and 4th industrial compressor units produced by York compressors.  they were complete with the 6 inch belt drive and the 2 ton flywheel. 

 

They were replaced by  2 units one tenth their size and 5 times more energy efficient...  although the old units had been, up to that time running for 105 years without a single unanticipated failure or outage.  The fact that they had to pay the cost of a new compressor overhauling these every 5 years in manpower and equipment was besides the point...

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    • By WhiteWulfe
      After seeing my first thread on it (I think it was @Glitterwolf's thread for such an honour) my first thought was pretty much "that looks like a LOT of fun", followed closely by "but I've never painted anything other than a few Space Marines!".  Yeah, well, challenge accepted, because I kind of fell in love with how Ebonwrath looks.
       
      Yup, I'm going into this technically with very little skill in painting, but while I'm waiting for Ebonwrath (and some gnolls and paint, gnolls are the honour guard for the paint, I swear) I'll have both of the learn to paint kits to work through, and assuming everything pans out (aka assuming I filled out my Canada Post FlexDelivery stuff correctly) I'll be picking those up after work today, and then about a week and a half (ish) later Ebonwrath will be in.  Seems like a semi-insane thing to do, dive right into painting a dragon when you originally were getting paints to steadily work on your WH40k Catachans army (and Skaven, sooooo many Skaven o_O ), but I figure why not have fun with life.  Besides, what better to put all the new skills the LTPK's are designed to help you get a baseline grasp on than a gigantic dragon of cuddles DOOOOOOOM that, in my eyes at least, can be bribed with cookies.
       
      Some say I'm insane, I say to be a good delivery driver you need just enough insanity...  Not enough to pass the entrance exams, but enough to be perfectly fine wearing shorts in -5C weather.  :P
       
      Anyways, onto the rolls!
       
       

      I wound up rolling 14, 19, and 3....  So Terran Khaki as the main, Pure Black as the secondary colour, and Lava Orange as a highlight.  Well now, that's an interesting mix in my eyes.  I'm not quite certain as to how this mix will pan out, but on the flipside I chose to dive into this headfirst, so I'm also going to give it a whirl as a full on three star challenge.  I'm actually kind of liking the sound of these colours, as I've had a number of different design possibilities come to mind already!
       

      Obviously, given the current promo and Rictus seeming like a nice and dedicated, honourable skeleton, I had to get a few other items into the cart for free shipping (plus a free skeleton!), and for someone to keep the gnolls in check while Ebonwrath is napping away in it's blister pack.  Can't let the gnolls steal the cookies after all.  Pure Black is included in one of the Learn To Paint Kits, so I didn't add it into the order from Reaper.
       
      Here's hoping I won't have to make too too much room in my gaming area to work on Ebonwrath ^_^;;;;; (since it's still another two months before I can get a dedicated miniatures area set up, but man am I looking forward to such!)
       
       
      EDIT (Jan 7th @ 15:44 MST): Totally forgot to add this in...  For additional information regarding the rainbow dragon challenge, here's the main thread for it!
      (end edit)
    • By Inarah
      Link to original challenge: 
      I don't have any of the dragons selected for the challenge. I do have the dracolisk, https://www.reapermini.com/OnlineStore/basilisk/latest/77379
      So I'm painting that. 
       
      Die roll, 13, 18, 2.  Earth brown, palomino gold, clotted red.   Good colors.  I don't have the Earth or Clotted Red but can approximate. 
       
      Baby needs a bath first. 
       
       
    • By HornedTurtle
      So I decided to do this random dragon challenge thing.
       
      My rolls.

      Main 20 9039 Pure White
      Secondary 6 9227 Brilliant green
      Miscellaneous 10 9023 Imperial Purple
       
      And my intent is to do the 3 star challenge, I was planning this before rolling.  Interesting colors, I have the pure white but not the other two.
       
      The arrival of Deathsleet with his Halloweeny reinforcements, and the missing two paints.

       
      And here he is ready for the paint.

       
      I started with giving him a primer of brilliant green cut with 2-3 times as much pure white.
       

       
       
       
    • By InvisibleThumb
      Stuck my thumb in the box of unpainted bones and pulled out a Kyphryxis.
       

       
      must unbag bag and dry fit, trim mold lines and scrub, but first, the random colors...
       

       
      15, ah what could that mean?  I'll look later.  Let's roll another.
       

       
      seven!  Good.  Nicely spaced numbers.  Will look it up in a minute.  For the third roll...  Well darn gotta wait for the full minute so the time shown is different...  Finally!
       

       
      oof!  One!  Critical miss.  Well, it's probably a boring color at the top of the table.  Let's see what this means:
       
      15: mint green
      7: olive green
      1: fire red 
       
      huh.  Whadaya know.  Time to go see what I've got for colors... (To be continued)
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