* Posts by Dr Who

432 publicly visible posts • joined 25 Oct 2007


Decades-old Home Office asylum system misses EOL deadline, no new timetable in place

Dr Who

Case study

CID “started as a database containing basic details about asylum seekers and was initially expected to be an interim solution."

This is what they should teach Comp Sci and MBA students. How IT happens in the real world.

Cumbrian Police accidentally publish all officers' details online

Dr Who

Good job

EXCELlent work everyone.

Brit healthcare body rapped for WhatsApp chat sharing patient data

Dr Who

Re: Something not quite right here

It's not the app that's the problem. It's the mechanism (or lack of it) for controlling access rights. Who decides who will be a member of the WhatsApp or Signal group? Who decides what each of those members can see or do with the data? There are no mechanisms in place on messaging apps whereby an organisation can maintain control of and audit who accesses what information.

Artificial General Intelligence remains a distant dream despite LLM boom

Dr Who

Effectively saying that something must be true if you can't disprove it. A very theological argument. It doesn't work for all powerful beings or all powerful technology.

TCS bags £234M Teachers' Pensions deal as Capita set to end 29-year run

Dr Who

Alternatively ...

FUBAR-ready, SNAFU enabled, omnishambles platform

Google Cloud's watery Parisian outage enters third week, with no end in sight

Dr Who

A fire incident has occurred

No it hasn't. You're just trying to sound official or technical or something. What has occurred is a fire, not a "fire incident". Just like it's not a "flood event" it's a flood. And when did we move from having a storm to having a "severe weather event"? Anyway, gotta go, I had a curry last night and can feel a catastrophic evacuation event coming on.

Quantum computing: Hype or reality? OVH says businesses would be better off prepared

Dr Who

For most businesses, planning for quantum computing will I suspect be more of a cybersecurity issue. At some point in the not too distant future it will be economically viable to start brute force decrypting what is currently strongly encrypted data using quantum techniques. Crucially it will be possible to do so within a useful timeframe - for example where the target is still in business / alive in order to blackmail or prosecute them.

Crooks and spooks are right now hoovering up encrypted traffic in anticipation of being able to decrypt it quickly whilst it is still useful to them.

Nobody is giving a date for when quantum computing will be able to deliver this, but it is definitely a case of when, not if, and it could be in the next few years. When it happens it will be sudden, and I imagine catastrophic.

Capita IT breach gets worse as Black Basta claims it's now selling off stolen data

Dr Who

So ....

The crap 'it a fan

Curl, the URL fetcher that can, marks 25 years of transfers

Dr Who

Different things

wget and axel are file downloaders.

curl is a way of interacting with a URL in much more complex ways. How are you going to test an API call that requires a POST request, a json encoded payload and basic auth username with wget?

Super Bock says 'cyber' nasty 'disrupting computer services'

Dr Who

Amazing this AI stuff

"The situation causes major restrictions in its supply chain operation to the market of some of its products in the different marketing channels" reported ChatGPT in a translation that is barely distinguishable from one that would be made by any 1st year GCSE Portugese language student.

WAN router IP address change blamed for global Microsoft 365 outage

Dr Who

We all depend on the cloud, whether we like it or not.

The very term cloud software stems from the cloud symbol used from way back when in network diagrams, originally to depict a large private WAN.

These days, practically nobody runs a private network to every geographic location that needs access to central systems, and that applies whether those central systems are on prem, in colo or on some sort of SaaS or PaaS offering.

The cloud in the diagram now depicts the internet, itself a network of many networks, owned and run by many different organisations, any of whom can mess up the world's routing tables. And let's not even mention the DNS root servers.

Whether you like it or not, you depend utterly on the cloud, wherever your mission critical software is running.

Rackspace confirms ransomware attack behind days-long email meltdown

Dr Who

Re: So...

Most small and many medium sized businesses employ service providers for things like accountancy, legal and payroll/HR. They couldn't possibly do it in house, so the problem is identical. You need to find someone you can trust, and until fairly recently Rackspace had a good record. There's nothing to say that the accountancy practice you use won't go bust, or mess up - in fact they often do.

Dr Who

Re: So...

As many have said before, that's all very well if you have an in house IT team and your own geo-redundant hardware infrastructure. Reading various articles about this disaster, most of the hosted Exchange customers are small businesses with 20 or 30 users. They haven't got a cat's chance of running their own mail systems (especially Exchange based). They have no choice but to trust someone else.

We've used Rackspace, amongst others, for dedicated servers and VMs (not email) for a couple of decades and they really were fanatical and technically excellent with their support and services back in the day. Recently we've been steadily reducing what we have with them. The aforementioned job cuts and service centre offshoring have reduced Rackspace to a budget operation of the 1&1 (now Ionos) ilk.

For the average small business, it's very hard to know who to trust with their mission critical stuff. They don't even know what questions to ask of a supplier, let alone what the right answers would be.

Low code is no replacement for software development, say German-speaking SAP users

Dr Who

Low code in essence is just another level of abstraction from machine code - a very high level language if you like.

The art of programming though is a way of thinking, a mental approach more than a particular language. Ask a business person to define the process or problem they need solving or automating, and inevitably you'll get a vague, poorly specified, ill thought through answer. Your next step is to tease of them what they're actually after, and make them aware of the knock on effects of what they're asking for. It's the classic beginners exercise of writing down how to make a cup of tea. Most non-programmers miss several of the crucial steps.

No matter how high level the language, you still need to think like a programmer to make the machines do useful stuff. Putting amateurs and hobbyists in charge will inevitably lead to a mess of a system and most likely the loss or corruption of valuable data.

Automating Excel tasks to come to Windows and Mac

Dr Who

People will die

Indeed. Why use a database management system when you can frig a piece of software, which wasn't designed to manage data, to try and do the same job in a much more complicated and error prone way that can literally kill people. Think losing thousands of safety critical Covid data records whilst using Excel to share the data.

China discovers unknown mineral on the moon, names it Changesite-(Y)

Dr Who

Re: The Genie's out of the Lamp and Exploring the Delights of Pandora's Open Box

amanfrommars never has, and never will, pass the Turing Test. Which is odd for someone whom I believe to be an actual human. Always fun to read though.

Concerns that £360m data platform for NHS England is being set up to fail

Dr Who

Misunderstanding the NHS

The NHS is an umbrella for a myriad different organisations and a million odd staff. Some of these are private (think GP practices, dentists and pharmacists for example) and some public (largely emergency, acute care and chronic care). If the NHS stands for one thing it's that for its users healthcare is free at the point of delivery. In this context, delivering a monolithic national software stack is a complete nonsense.

Each organisation in the NHS should be free to choose from best of breed solutions for their particular area of operation. The national framework should aim instead to set standards for data interchange such as xml schemas for patient records plus possibly some kind of middleware service to ease the integration of systems via their APIs. A central data repository for healthcare analytics requires only anonymised data, the aggregation of which can be automated using the aforementioned schema definitions and APIs.

In this way a competitive software ecosystem is established ensuring best value for money for the tax payer, avoiding a supplier monopoly, denying the government another unjustified opportunity of harvesting personally identifiable data and finally denying politicians and civil servants the opportunity of a lucrative non-exec role in the private sector. These are also the reasons why the NHS always fails to get sensible technology solutions.

OVH blames hour-long global outage on human error during 'routine' network reconfiguration

Dr Who

All talk, no trousers

Ms Thunberg might have a thing or two to say about this and the FB outage :

Change control - blah, blah, blah

No single point of failure - blah, blah, blah

Systems engineering - blah, blah, blah

UK Ministry of Defence apologises – again – after another major email blunder in Afghanistan

Dr Who

Presumably the suspended person is the muppet who included the addresses in the cc field.

It should be people at the very to of the MoD who ultimately get suspended. The system is at fault, not an admin clerk. Being able to paste the addresses into the cc field means they were somehow available on a standard email distribution list or most likely an Excel fu**ing spreadsheet. They should be on a secure list server where nobody can see the addresses and where each recipient receives an individual copy of the email, preferrably with the address in bcc, and the sending of which is logged and stamped with the ID of the user who authorised the sending. Nobody, whether within the MoD or outside it should see these addresses on screen.

Or even better, use a secure portal to communicate.

FFS Mailchimp would be a thousand times more secure than what the MoD is doing, apparently routinely.

These twats have put actual lives of actual people, along with their families in grave danger of death or worse. No fine is big enough - a spell in prison should send the right message.

Ransomware-hit law firm secures High Court judgment against unknown criminals

Dr Who

Re: Sigh...

Propagander : have a good look

Dr Who

Re: Nail, meet hammer!

Exactly what I was thinking. It's like someone trying to shoot down the Death Star with a shotgun.

BOFH: Where there is darkness, let there be a light

Dr Who

Re: Definitely pick which battles you want to fight...

Upvote for "more than a hod of house bricks"

9 years after SpaceX strode into Texas village, Elon Musk floats name change for Boca Chica: 'Starbase'

Dr Who

You've got to Marvel at him

Starship, Starbase. Henceforth Elon shall be known as Starlord and all shall bow before him.

Who knew? Hadoop is over, says former Hortonworks guru Scott Gnau

Dr Who

Re: The future is MUMPS?

Good call ghudson. I remember the InterSystems reps coming to visit us soon after the launch of Cache for a demo. Must have been over 20 years ago. It was very impressive which is why I still remember the demo.

Fusion boffins apply plasma know-how to building thrusters

Dr Who

Impulse drive

The guy clearly has a warped mind.

Spaghetti Junction! Brum hospitals on hunt for new ERP and finance supplier to untangle current systems

Dr Who

Sounds promising

An NHS organisation with a large pot of cash to spend and which "... provided very little details on its requirement for the new software or of the potential challenges that lay ahead". What, as they say in the trade, could possibly go wrong?

Germany prepares to launch COVID-19 contact-tracing app 'this week' while UK version stuck in development hell

Dr Who

Foreign suppliers

Nobody told the American and Swiss developers that much as it is a lovely place to visit, things happen ever so slowly on the Isle of Wight.

Plus ça change plus ç'est la même chose as they say in (some parts of) Switzerland.

City of London Corporation explores options to escape Oracle's clutches

Dr Who


SAP - very funny.

Why not pick best of breed SaaS offerings for each of the functions then integrate. That's one thing SaaS services make very easy, either through custom integrations directly via their APIs or more likely pre-built integrations via the likes of Mulesoft of Zapier. The added advantage is that you're not over the contractual barrel for a decade with a single supplier.

The days of the monolithic ERP are surely over, along with the near business death catastrophes that were so often associated with their implementation.

SAP proves, yet again, that Excel is utterly unkillable

Dr Who


I used to know an accounts clerk who typed numbers into Lotus 123 on and IBM AT, added them up on a calculator, then typed in the total. And she kept a paper spreadsheet as a backup.

I preferred SuperCalc myself.

Airbus and Rolls-Royce hit eject on hybrid-electric airliner testbed after E-Fan X project fails to get off the ground

Dr Who

So ... the shit hit E-Fan then

Microsoft's Teams clocks 2.7 billion minutes of meetings in a single day as April starts to run out for Windows 10 2004

Dr Who

Teams clocks 2.7 billion minutes

Education, education, education

Ever dream of being an astronaut? Now’s your chance. NASA wants new people for the Moon and Mars

Dr Who

Re: Not all good...

If it's Boeing I'm not going.

Fujitsu warns HMRC Projects team that 30% of them could be out of a job come April

Dr Who

A little bit of Schadenfreude maybe

For years the industry bemoaned the move from in house teams to the big outsourcers. Now, the big outsourcers are getting a taste of their own medicine as they lose work to the big cloud providers. Bitter? Me? Just because my small business lost loads of local work to monolithic national framework contracts with the likes of Capita and Fujitsu? Well, yes actually.

Well, well, well. Internet-of-Things speaker biz Sonos to continue some software support for legacy kit after all

Dr Who

I'm 51 and I've got a so called "old" Sonos speaker (I think it's 3 years old).

I also have an amp and speakers I bought when I was a teenager ... and they still work brilliantly ... even with smart TVs and smartphones.

GCHQ: A cyber-what-now? Rumours of our probe into London Stock Exchange 'cyberattack' have been greatly exaggerated

Dr Who

Nothing to see here

A) Massive cover up to avoid tipping off the Russians that we're on to them.

B) A software upgrade gone wrong.

Drawing on all the experience gained over a long career in IT troubleshooting, on balance, having assessed all the possibilities and even though the client tells me the problem is definitely B, I'd still have to say that the most probable cause is A.

Now it's Terrance Dicks' turn to regenerate: Golden-age Doctor Who mainstay dies aged 84

Dr Who

In my view morals started to slip with the introduction of jelly babies, but I don't think Mr Dicks was responsible for that. RIP and thank you.

Yahoo! customers! wake! up! to! borked! email! (Yes! people! still! actually! use! it!)

Dr Who

Bring joy to your inbox


Don't panic! Don't panic! UK IT job ads plummet as Brexit uncertainty grabs UK tech sector by the short and curlies

Dr Who

Re: And the NHS is doomed

I thought you were joking at first, but suddenly realised you were serious.

No mainstream politician of any persuasion has ever argued with the principle of free at the point of delivery. Ever. Nobody. Where opinions differ is how we might arrive at that point of delivery - and that is a subject for legitimate debate as the current system depends too heavily on the sacrifice, dedication and unpaid overtime of a million odd NHS workers who see the NHS as a vocation, not just a job. If those workers suddenly worked to rule the whole shooting match would collapse. It is an abuse of all of those staff to leave things as they are. Blair/Brown admirably tried chucking vast sums of cash at the existing system but sadly that didn't solve the problem. We need to suspend the ideological dogma and have an open, rational discussion about the options. If we don't we are massively failing patients, NHS staff, and the tax payer.

Not very Suprema: Biometric access biz bares 27 million records and plaintext admin creds

Dr Who

Re: I guess they're off the Christmas list now

Efookinxactly! Nail on the head. If this was oil leaking into the ocean, or toxic gas into the air, there would be monumental fines, cleanup charges and possibly criminal charges (think Deepwater Horizon or Exon Valdez). It wouldn't prevent all incidents, but it would change corporate culture enough to reduce the worst excesses. But as it's "just" our identities at stake, nobody gives a toss. It'll be interesting to see whether a South Korean company can be prosecuted under GDPR given the have a large European client base. That would at least show that the law is moving in the right direction.

PIN the blame on us, says Monzo in mondo security blunder: Bank card codes stored in log files as plain text

Dr Who

Re: All the no's

Monzo provides a great current account service. Opened an account for the sole purpose of a two week train trip with the family through Europe last month because there's no transaction fee or pumped up exchange rate for card payments abroad. Now thinking of switching permanently - it's brilliant. Like someone said transactions, even abroad, ping immediately into the app so you can see whether some dodgy trader has ripped you off while you're still staring them in the face. No more ten day waits until things appear on your account. This is a current account as it should be.

Not too happy about the logging bug, but in the grand scheme of things it's not catastrophic and they've owned up and cleaned up.

The entire holiday was done with booking.com, airbnb, the trainline and heavy use of google maps and translate en route and what could have been a disaster was a triumph. We only pre-booked some of the stuff in advance and did the rest on the fly. We all moan about the cloud on the Reg, but if you just step back and think what's possible now that was either impossible, or at the very least unbearably more complicated, just a few years ago it's pretty amazing really.

OK, so I may have told some Italian waiter that his mother had the face of a pig and he himself was of dubious parenthood, but you know, Google's not perfect - and I probably would have got some instant offline feedback from the waiter.

It's Friday lunchtime on International Beer Day. Bitter hop to it, boss'll be none the weiser

Dr Who

66.5 litres = 117 pints

For once in my life I can safely say I am well above average - by a considerable margin.

Bear insistent on playing tonsil tennis with you? Just bite its tongue off

Dr Who

Need a bigger sample

Does "bear runs away" always follow "bloke bites bear's tongue off" or was the bear actually bored and about to wander off anyway. Need more data. Any offers?

Cloudflare goes big on serverless with new command line, lures devs with free account tier

Dr Who

Re: This will likely end badly

I agree. I still can't get Pine to send HTML messages.

What's a billion dollars between friends? Uber tosses match on mound of cash in first results since going public

Dr Who

Re: So, double the losses of last year ?

I think the sweatiness is largely in the investors' bum cracks.

Ex-student, 52, suing university for AU$3m after PhD rejection destroyed 'sex drive'

Dr Who

Social Sciences - complete and utter Kant

After he'd worked his way through Marx and Engels followed by a course of Durkheim with a finale of Max Weber's famous nail biter "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism", it's little wonder his mojo has left him. Case dismissed.

Salesfarce to Failsforce: Salesforce database blunder outage enters day three as fix falters

Dr Who

Re: I never get tired of saying it

Crikey, haven't we moved on from this sort of thing yet?

You might as well ask how that IT thing is going for ya? Abacus, slide rule and paper spreadsheets were just so much more reliable. Never had a power outage with those. Or a virus.

Embrace the new, make it work for you and learn valuable lessons from those who fail to make it work for them.

Blockchain is a lot like teen sex: Everybody talks about it, no one has a clue how to do it

Dr Who

Re: the "Trough of Disillusionment"

Nobody claimed that the blockchain was part of the crypto currency innovation/invention. As you say, Bitcoin uses pretty much bog standard blockchain theory.

Satoshi Yakamoto's contribution was the idea of proof of work which is the mechanism for minting new coins. The proof of work process is a mathematical guessing game whereby the creation of new blocks in the chain can be made artificially harder as more people become miners (creators of blocks). The aim is to limit the rate of coin production. This is an inherently stupid idea as all it does is increase the demand for computing power and therefore energy.

Blockchain is not new, it was just brought to the world's attention by the prospect of unlimited riches, and in a classic gold rush most people are digging in the wrong place. The only ones who'll make money are those selling the picks, shovels and pumps.

Julian Assange jailed for 50 weeks over Ecuador embassy bail-jumping

Dr Who

Re: Look, I'm not against the guy, but...

"like a girl". Seriously? I am not being woke or PC when I say that making cowardice a female characteristic is at best juvenile and at worst obnoxious.

Insane in the domain: Sea Turtle hackers pwn DNS orgs to dash web surfers on the rocks of phishing pages

Dr Who


Computer systems within a registry and registrar were infected by tricking employees into opening spear-phishing emails laden with malware from sometime around January 2017, and continuing through the first quarter of 2019.

Really? For two years? In not just registrars but *registries*! Gordon Bennett. We're all doomed.

French internet cops issue terrorist takedown for… Grateful Dead recordings?

Dr Who

Not now Cato you fool! There is a time for censoring and and time for not censoring ... and this is not one of them.