Given the utter arse that was TLJ, I thought Abrams had a good stab at fixing things. It tried too hard to tie lose ends up and was overburdened with the fake emotional guff that mars so many current films. But overall, I enjoyed it.
40 posts • joined 9 Dec 2010
I was a Systems Engineer for a local IBM reseller at around this time. The company made TONS of money performing "miracles" with PCTools, Norton Utilities and Maynard parallel port tape drives.
These were the days when an SE's competence was measured by 1) who had the most Microchannel Adapter Description Files in his recovery toolkit (the most obscure, the better), and 2) who could cram the most drivers into Himem.sys and autoexec.bat. It was always tricky finding the space to get the drivers for the Token Ring NIC, external CD ROM, and the aforementioned Maynard units to load.
Now, where's my pipe & slippers...
Back in the mists of time, I worked for a very large IT services & hardware company. One of the grey beard sysops I was friendly with relayed the following tale to me. I have no idea if its true, but it sounds feasible.
The company worked very closely with the "Computer Department" of the local Uni and a couple of times a year, it held guided tours around their Ops Centre for groups of students
During one of these tours, the group of fresh faced little darlings were being herded out of the machine room, when one of them pointed to the big red emergency stop button by the door and shouted over the noise of fans, printers and whirring disk packs, "what's this for?" Unfortunately, he misjudged his arm length and / or the distance to the button, and depressed it. As in the original story, the button was of the "release to break" type. As coincidence would have it, the tour guide was standing right next to the phantom finger flinger and immediately smashed his hand down over the student's screaming "Don't move!!!"
According to the legend, the lad had to stand in place, holding the button closed for well over an hour while the Ops Team frantically arranged for workloads to be shifted and large beige boxes to by gracefully shutdown. Unsurprisingly, the button was fitted with a perspex cover shortly afterwards.
I spent the late 90’s in the infrastructure team of a large finance house. I made (in)appropriate use of their fairly impressive internet pipe to feed my Usenet binaries habit – I was on dial up at home. The bank’s security team were still on the learning curve of how to deal with these “newfangled PCs” – until then everything had been run on a mainframe and a couple of minis.
As the security team skilled up, they started making changes to firewall policies and started blocking unapproved ports, which of course included Usenet’s 119. That was the end of my bandwidth pilfering, until a few weeks later when I received an email from my premium Usenet provider, announcing the availability of their service over port 80!
Downloading resumed and all was well for another couple of months. Until the day the Security Manager stopped at my desk and said quietly – “Very bloody clever. Now knock it off…” and walked away. I was grateful for how he handled it, so immediately curtailed my leeching. I found out later that they’d started analysing the firewall logs and my activities stood out a mile.
At around the same time, I was working for a large manufacturing company and helped with their roll-out of internet for everyone – up until then it had only been available for us in the IT ivory tower.
We ran a big information campaign – email, posters, training courses on browser use, acceptable use policy, yadda yadda yadda. One of the things we stressed was that all access was logged by IT, with full details of sites, addresses, user ID, etc.
One of my tasks was to setup and manage a proxy server and produce weekly usage reports for the IT manager to peruse. Not long after we went live, a certain username and dodgy looking URL kept appearing in the reports. Being a conscientious sort, I followed the link and landed on a hardcore BDSM site.
I showed my boss the site and the username of the frequenter. He decided, as it was still early days, to send out an email to all staff, reminding them that IT were logging ALL their online activity. No change, the same name and site kept coming up in the reports. The boss sent an email directly to the culprit, warning of consequences if the activity continued. It did.
In a final attempt to fix the problem, before getting HR involved, my boss arranged a face-to-face meeting with the user. He never disclosed the details of their conversation, but when he returned from the meeting, me and the rest of the team were genuinely concerned for his health – his face was bright red and he was covered in sweat.
Apparently, the drop-dead-gorgeous, part time model, marketing assistant wasn’t phased in the slightest about her browsing habits being subject to scrutiny, and in fact complained that it wasn’t fair for her “stress relieving” internet activity to be restricted.
Shortly afterwards I was tasked with finding a more sophisticated proxy solution that could actually block sites, based on content.
Once took a call from a user who's PC was showing a "301 Error" on boot (it was a long time ago).
I told her that usually meant there was a problem with her keyboard. To which she exclaimed "My Keyboard!!! It's gone!!!" and promptly hung up.
Turns out one of her colleagues had "borrowed" the keyboard and she hadn't noticed in her early morning, pre-coffee daze.
Many years ago, I was the engineering buyer for a factory that produced various liquid and powdered products. Occasionally, we'd have visits from prospective customers, who came in for a tour of our state of the art, automated production facilities.
Over time the some of the production areas could get quite dirty, so the customer visits were always proceeded by a big clean up around the factory. One such day, a recently employed production assistant was tasked with cleaning up the office areas, including the process control booths.
Noticing the state of many of the keyboards attached to the various DEC VT100 terminals (I did say it was MANY years ago), she decided they'd all benefit from a good scrub and proceeded to do just that in the sink in the factory break room.
A couple of frantic phone calls, and several called in favours later, we had a taxi full of replacement keyboards on the way from the local DEC distribution centre. I forget the final bill for the episode, but it was well into four figures, not counting lost production time.
We moved house last October, to an area where all six cabinets on the local exchange have FTTC. Apart from the one serving the new house. Openreach's "When can I get fibre" page said the cab was to get FTTP "within six months". I thought that acceptable and so we moved.
Over the succeeding months, my daily checks saw the wait time come down to four, then three months. In May, we even had BT contractors in the road pulling the fibre into the ducts. Then, in July the availability checker jumped back up to "December 2017".
In frustration I contacted the local MP who promised to take the issue up with BT. Several weeks later he replied, forwarding BT's response which was just a regurgitation of the information I had included in my complaint, and a closing paragraph which amounted to "screw you, we'll finish the job when we're ready".
It comes to something when the local MP can't even get a meaningful response out of these b4$t4rd5.
Having also suffered extensively at BT / OpenReach's hands when I used to manage a 15 site, MPLS network, I am no longer able to articulate how much I loathe and despise them and their de facto infrastructure monopoly. I sincerely hope they're first against the wall, come the glorious day.
Depending on my disposition on the particular day, I either unload a torrent of abuse that would make Malcolm Tucker blush - I find it very cathartic; or I explain that I don't have a computer, or a phone or electricity as I live in a tent. In a field.
A variation on the last one, for the "you had an accident" scumbags, is to agree that it was indeed a very serious accident, in which I died. The longest period of confused silence before they hang up is currently seven seconds.
The site is literally 1/3 of a mile "over the border" into wales, less than five miles from the city of Chester, and three and a half miles from the massive Airbus factory at Hawarden. And if that's still too parochial for you, its 12 miles from the center of Liverpool.
The western side of the site has been sold & cleared, but the eastern side is still there. It looks like a set from 28 Days Later and needs some tlc from an industrial sized strimmer, but there are plenty of offices, sheds and other assorted buildings there. I drive past it most days.
I think the point that everyone is spectacularly missing is that the entire IT industry needs to rapidly get its shit together.
The recent spate of high profile security breeches just prove what many of us have suspected for a long time - the entire framework upon which online security is based is fundamentally flawed and its high time the big brains out there came up with a radical new approach to protecting networked systems, and I don't just mean employing increasingly illegible "Captcha" boxes.
"Hello? Mr Bank Manager? Oh, Hi. Look, I've got into a spot of bother and need to borrow some money please." "Weeeellllll, about $1.5M should cover it". "Monthly income you say? Hmmm, well, I don't actually have a job at the moment, but my outgoings are really low...Hello...? Hello...?"
Joking apart, how does someone earning, what, £40k ish? pay a fine of $1.5M?
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