* Posts by Yossarian

17 publicly visible posts • joined 2 Jul 2009

TalkTalk kept my email account active for 8 years after I left – now it's spamming my mates


Re: Catch-22

Couldn't agree more! I live.

Stylus counsel: The rise and fall of the Apple Newton MessagePad


Re: Bah!

I guess this is one of the few instances where America was well behind us Europeans.

From a poor northern English background (think mining village with reasonable unemployment) I remember seeing mobile phones starting around 92 or 93, my low level sales guy dad got given an analogue one by the company in 94 and had a digital one in 95. These were reasonably decent Nokia phones with multiline dot matrix displays, huge but fitted ok in a coat pocket and with a tiny ariel which wasn't really required.

At university in 97 a few rich kids had mobiles, but by 99 I was one of the few without and I took a lot of stick for my refusal to get one.

Not as ubiquitous as today obviously, but UK uptake in the 90s was quite good from my recollection.

I remember finding it strange watching US TV shows and seeing these arcane boxy phones up until Matrix came out.

More on topic my first experience was a palm something or other in the late 90s and having to learn Graffiti. It worked well but after a couple of weeks I realised paper and pen was much better so it went in a box and there it stayed.


GCHQ attempts to downplay amazing plaintext password blunder


Re: Banks too?

Banks use Hardware Security Modules (HSMs) to hold PINs which are heavily protected beasts.

Without physical access it's pretty much impossible to get anything out of them and then they normally have a myriad of access detection sensors which delete the memory if you try anything (I've tried kicking one, it got upset and deleted everything)

I wouldn't worry about these normally but I recently found that BarclayCard will display your PIN on the web site if you ask, that sounds very silly to me.

Sysadmins: Your best tale of woe wins a PRIZE


Three of my best

I am a sysadmin now, but these come from before my time, so all but the last were someone elses problem:

1) Bad company using two sockets for around 10 big servers in a tiny cupboard of a room with fans on the same sockets and a little over used, surprisingly had a fire in one of the sockets. They decided that instead of getting it fixed properly they would run an extension cable to the next room and run half the servers from that one instead. A guest CEO was wating in this room one day for a meeting and his phone complained that it was empty, the only socket he could see was the one by the door which was already in use, but he couldn't see what for so decided it wasn't as important as his phone. Bye bye stack of servers. The sysadmin put a postit note on the plug for the next year until we moved offices and built a proper server room with more than two sockets.

2) At a customer the sysadmin had to shutdown a big honking Sun server for routine maintenance. After many hours of waiting he finally phoned to say we could start the applications whilst giggling away to himself. The story helped get over the massive wait late at night: He had tried to boot the server and found that the boot disk was corrupted, tried to repair it and massively failed. After hours of trying to get hold of a replacement he looked in a desk drawer and found a Sun disk with a massive boot print on the case and the words boot written on it. Plugged it in and it booted the server perfectly. So the big production server ran with a boot disk that had a boot print on. Makes it easy to identify.

3) Standard story of the kid left to play with a production server (the one with the boot boot disk), everyone had to leave early (to go to the pub...) and left me to finish up an installation, I decided to clean up the tmp folder so ran "rm -rf *". Shame it was the wrong folder.

Four hours later I finished rebuilding the server, fortunately it was an active-active system so I could just copy everything from the mirror and change all the config for server name / IP etc. I got free beers and a large amount of respect for not bottling it and single handedly bringing it back (I was about 1 year into the job and had no idea what I was doing). Unfortunately I had messed up one file which was only found a month later after someone who didn't know the story had been ripping his hair out trying to find the problem, so I only got a little shouting at.

Final boot note, one sysadmin I worked with sent an email to the entire company informing them that the email server was broken and he was working on it... He didn't last long.


Re: I call bollocks

Wouldn't be too sure, I remember a Watchdog piece about a modern European car (I believe a Renault but not sure) where they had converted it to right hand drive by leaving the break linkage on the left hand side and bolting a bar behind the carpets to the right.

The passenger could happily apply the brakes (the real brake pedal moved) by pushing hard on the carpet. I remember this only being a problem with the brake pedal, so helpful when the other half thinks braking is a silly idea when a tree will suffice.

OpenBSD 5.0 reveals MAD-themed release


Another beer from me

Superb system, makes my life so much easier.

I've never seen a firewall that beats pf, don't doubt there is one, but it's probably not free.

Keep up the good work!

Wilhelm Lindt, would you care to enlighten us?

It's not 100% secure, nothing is, but two exploitable issues in ~16 years does speak for itself...

I would love to know which secure operating system counts you in.

Who the hell cares about five nines anymore?


"how does software cope with 'entire data centre failures'?"

Surprisingly easily...

What you do need is the entire infrastructure around it and to put a lot of thought into it, but effectively this is the approach behind the internet.

We have a varied selection of DNS root servers for the simple reason that one may fail.

What you can't cope with is thinking that one server in the data centre is key and if the data centre fails this server might still be available, but normally this shouldn't be allowed to happen. Take google for an example, do you think people can't search if one data centre was to be removed from the face of the planet? All traffic would simply be switched to a peer data centre (hopefully :)).

I work in banking where HP NonStops and the like are king, but we've managed to create very acceptable replicated systems that cost a fraction of the price with very similar availabilities, mostly through software but of course you need the infrastructure around it.

One problem that is common is that on a HP NonStop people are scared to have any down time for the obvious reasons, so problems are woked around and systems not upgraded because any downtime would be horrendous. We can upgrade servers in the middle of the day with no downtime because the peer is handling all the load, then upgrade the peer later.

The system as a whole is 99.999% available (one customer rated it at 100%) but each node can (and will at some point) fail.

A nice story with a NonStop from years ago: the company was a bit tight fisted and decided to not replace a broken system fan, the backup fan broke, server overheated and shutdown. Millions of euros lost in downtime and a massive amount of anger due to a ~5 euro fan :)

HP NonStops do stop (if very, very, very rarely) and when they do the proverbial does definitely hit the fan! (see icon)

Facebook offers 500 million users SSL crypto


No option

Instead of looking for a button, just stick an extra s in the address: https://www.facebook.com

Just tried it and it's rather slow and no chat. Seems to be a bit beta.

We should have a "Going but bit of a lame dog" icon...

Major Facebook redesign, smoothed-off Zuckerberg unveiled


RE: Germerican

You forgot ignorent, aggressive, over inflated sense of importance...

I like Germans, but it is true!

His name means "Sugar Mountain" though, how sweet :)

Frenchman cuffed for naughty lip-slip email to MEP


"displaying contempt towards a public servant"

Surely we are all guilty of that one!!!

Tesla says 40% of its Roadsters may catch fire


"such speeds are always illegal"

Not in the land of kraut and honey!!

Sort yourselves out Tesla, stop messing around with little fires and get some proper power:)

BT ad banned for 'misleading' customers over broadband speeds


It's a shame...

First priority is that f**king go compare idiot!!!

They can play wall to wall crap BT adverts if they just get rid of that git.

Whoever came up with that advert needs to get every sexual disease going.

Followed closely by the idiots who "sell any car"...

Mine's the 16Mb+ pipe that talks Deutsch... Sorry

Booze makes you clever, having none makes you stupid


Title? What title?

amanfrommars? Is that you? Do you have a new (slightly more intoxicated) alter ego?

If not I must demand that someone goes to mars and asks him what he thinks he is doing! I miss the old fella, it's been ages since I've read his mad droolings.

Anyway, of course alcohol makes you smarter, just nobody understands you due to the way it affects your vocal chords. Then you've forgotten all the clever junk you came up by morning due to the hangover that makes you stupid again.

The one with the label saying "Made in Mars" and the bottle of Scotch in the pocket, please good sir.

BT Tower to open for first time in 29 years


Maintower as well

Come down south to Frankfurt and you can stand on the top of the 200m maintower for less than €10 (I really can't remember exactly, but it's well worth it).

They also have the "festival of the skyscrapers" or something like that every year where you can go up 30 or so large buildings, as far as I remember for free.

Nice that BT is making the attempt but should do better.

A much better view though is Emley Moor TV mast in Yorkshire, they must open this to the public.

The one with the acrophobia tablets in the inside left pocket

Yes, Internet Explorer is on the wane in Europe



What a steaming pile of %&//!%&!

Now, where did that popcorn go... (Sorry, you started it)

NatWest suffers calamitous online banking breakdown


Partial DR

Unfortunately the likes of IBM and HP got to the banks first. Their idea of disaster recovery is to fit a massive, expensive mainframe with fault tolerant hardware and have a hourly (or even daily) backup of the data.

The managers can argue that the hardware can never fail so there is no point to having a fail over site constantly ready. Should the primary system actually fail then it can take hours if not even days to get the DR site on line.

Of course, software bugs are every where and fault tolerant hardware is not (HP Non Stop sometimes does stop), so every so often this happens, but you would be surprised how resilient these systems are. Think 10 years up time...

Personally, I write software tolerant banking systems which can switch loads between data centers in less than 30 seconds. Take that Google!

On a tangent, I once saw a multi-million dollar Tandom go down because some penny pinching manager hadn't bothered to replace the $5 backup fan. When the primary failed due to old age the system went down for a day and he lost his job. Shame.

Mobile operators question net snoop plan


Silly Government

Security experts have been trying to convince people for years to check for the little padlock icon.

It would be amusing if the day after this goes live 99.9% of the web traffic of the UK goes through offshore https proxies / pop3s / imaps etc negating the entire exercise.

Obviously the criminals that they say this is meant to target already use these so it is only to satisfy NuLabours 1984 tendancies.

German secure proxy available to anyone who wants to pay my extreme beer tab...