* Posts by DButch

39 posts • joined 17 Nov 2011

It has been 20 years since cybercrims woke up to social engineering with an intriguing little email titled 'ILOVEYOU'


I remember logging in one day that May and seeing the first I LOVE YOU message come in - from the engineering VP I reported to. I thought: "Cute, but seriously out of character for him. Then all the other engineering VPs and senior VPs, then the VPs and senior VPs of sales and support, etc. After the 30th email I decided it was getting a bit creepy (didn't open the attachments). It got into the lab test and research systems and kept breaking out because people refused to install updated malware protection despite my explaining to IT and Senior management what should be done.

Until the CEO got a flood of I LOVE YOU messages and sent out a response so scorching people got radiation burns. It was very amusing watching the subsequent scramble to protect all the Windows PCs and servers.

Divert the power to the shields. 'I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain!'


Re: The biodiesel had 'gone-off' ...

A variant from the 1965 US East Coast blackout - lots of businesses, hospitals, etc. had emergency generators with plenty of good fuel. And electric starter motors wired to mains power... When I got to college I worked in a Power Systems Engineering lab - we were still conducting post-mortems of the blackout 5 years afterwards. (And stirring up new (oh) shit stuff...)

Tesla’s Autopilot losing track of devs crashing out of 'leccy car maker


Re: Autonomous driving is months, years, or decades away

Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached a major milestone on the way to FSD vehicles. We've reached FAD - Fully Assholish Driving - a necessary step on the journey. It will have to be customized for local driving characteristics, of course. For example, in France, all sensors on the left and front of the car will be ignored, since the only known rule is "yield to the right". We're doubling our R&D team just to handle Boston because no one knows HOW they do it there. Stay tuned for local updates from your nearest dealer.

Truth, Justice, and the American Huawei: Chinese tech giant tries to convince US court ban is unconstitutional


Re: China the bully...

US companies, including two major high tech companies I have worked for, have no concept of goodwill and friendship. They went very willingly to China to take advantage of the much lower cost of manufacturing there. They willingly accepted China's quid pro quo of - "put some engineering R&D in China if you want to actually sell your goods in China" as part of the deal. As someone at another blog said: "China didn't steal US jobs. US companies lined up to give the jobs to China." Now, China is an aggressive actor. But the US is not in a really good position to criticize given our own actions of the past few decades.

ed - bit of punctuation cleanup

Webroot dunked in Carbonite: Should be quite well protected – if it survives the freezing process, that is


Re: I suspect this won't end well

Carbonite backup just fired up on my PC as a result of them buying out Mozy a while back. In 24 hours it's backed up just over 1% of my PC. I figure it'll be sometime in May before Carbonite is done. I like that they are being respectful of my resources, but I'd be happy to see it use at least some of my network bandwidth for actual, you know, backing things up a BIT faster.

Techie finds himself telling caller there is no safe depth of water for operating computers


Re: Water cooling?

Maybe because of the little incident I describe at Digital Equipment Corporation in the mid-70s? In fact, the pipes were running along an outside wall of the computer center. How the forklift operator managed to punch through a cooling pipe and presumably through the wall of the computer center in a way that very precisely funneled the water in under the raised floor is unknown. I'd have assumed it would take some very precise engineering and construction to achieve that result.


That sends me back to the mid-70s. I was working for Digital Equipment Corporation in Maynard, MA. The company had just built out a new computer center and started moving equipment in. Suddenly, our DECSystem-10 hosting the main engineering databases shut down. Calls to the new computer center weren't being answered. After about 30 minutes we got word that it was going to be off-line for a couple of days, as were all the other systems in the new center.

A week later I ran into one of the data center operators I knew who had been on duty that day. He was sporting a cast. A fork-lift had run into one of the (2) cold water pipes for the center air conditioning and somehow managed to do it so that the water poured in to the space under the raised floor. He looked across the floor to the still empty side of the room and saw air driven water spouts start to march across the room towards the newly installed equipment. The cast on his wrist was from hitting the EPO switch at a dead run so hard he broke his wrist. Fortunately the EPO also killed the air conditioning fans and that slowed the water flow just enough that they were able to cut off water a bit before it reached the machines. It took a couple of weeks to get everything fully dried out.

Excuses, excuses: Furious MPs probe banking TITSUPs*


Re: Rare Events One And All

Many years ago the US company I worked for replaced their sales processing system after years of study and development (apparently very little actual testing though). It promptly and very quietly collapsed, which no one realized for almost an entire quarter. We almost had our stock delisted.

The reason for the collapse? The old sales system had stopped working properly years before, and only appeared to work because a small army of people were hand carrying sales orders around the non-working parts of the old system. Nobody involved in creating the replacement system had, apparently, ever thought to track an order step by step through the old system or asked: "What are all those people carrying sales orders around actually doing?"

Bright spark dev irons out light interference


Re: Elastic band RAM retention

Shades of Digital Equipment's Rainbow 100 microcomputer - an attempt to get in on the budding small office and home computer market in the early days of "PC Wars". The engineers designing the circuit board also didn't want to add clips to hold in the memory or add-on cards. They just made the slots really tight. They probably should have talked more with the people designing the memory and add-on cards. THEY were very slightly tapered to make it easier to insert them in their slots. If you jostled the system even slightly, it would spit cards randomly out of the slots. When you tried to turn the computer on its side to put it in the upright stand, you were very likely to find every single memory and add-on card in a pile at the bottom of the case.

Six critical systems, four months to Brexit – and no completed testing


Re: Testing?

When conducting a dangerous experiment always make a backup copy of yourself.

Software update turned my display and mouse upside-down, says user


Software, we don't need no stinking SW to flip your display!

When the VT100 (Digital Equipment Corporation) came out, it was designed for VERY easy service. Which also meant very easy physical hacking. Pop the top off and the magnetic yoke on the back of the tube could be rotated at will. Wise engineers will make sure there is no charge in the system by shorting some key points to earth - but a feature of the VT100 was that there were very few capacitors in there - not like older video terminals (or television tubes).

The yoke had a single screw clamp - easy to loosen with about a half twist of a screwdriver. Tilt the display whichever way you wanted.


Re: Oh noes

I started with teletype terminals on a DECSystem 10 - on a flexy floor in Digitals Maynard HQ (old Civil War era woolen mill. Floors were independently suspended so the big weaving machines didn't transmit vibrations between floors. It was very soothing - as you got into the right rhythm the machines would start rocking back and forth, encouraging you to rock back and forth yourself. When a heavy cart came down the hallway, an up and down motion was introduced, amplifying as the cart neared, dieing down as it passed. I kind of missed that as the VT30 (with the "gunshot" carriage return) and the VT05 terminals came out.


Re: Oh noes

I have half my systems set up with the mouse set for right hand operation and the other half set for left hand operation. Helps keep me even.


Re: you touched it last

Ouch - I was once told of a new QA inspector who insisted on 100% functional testing of the explosive bolts used to release the spent stage from the rest of the rocket. I hope it was apocryphal...


Re: Every day's a school day

The setup line for an old classic. Bravo!


Re: Every day's a school day

When Digital Equipment Corporation released the VT100, one "feature" was that you could easily and with no tools pop the top off and (after certain precautions) rotate the magnetic yoke at the back of the tube to rotate the screen display.

I've seen the future of consumer AI, and it doesn't have one


Re: An "AI powered cooking assistant"?

I have a recipe application that runs on Windows. It's actually pretty well done. You can point it to a recipe on a web site and it will load it, you can scan a recipe in from a newspaper or magazine, it'll scale a recipe, etc. It'll generate a shopping list for a recipe if you want. When I actually cook I have it dump the recipes I'm using to HTML files and push them over to an ancient (by now) Surface RT. I don't care if I spill sauce on it... And it doesn't talk to me or try to make helpful suggestions.

Now ask Alexa: "Alexa, are you part of Skynet?"

Sysadmin's PC-scrub script gave machines a virus, not a wash


Valentine's day virus

One day I got to work, fired up my computer, and got my first message: "I love you man!" From my boss (a VP). I thought: "Yeah, cute." Then my antivirus said it had blocked an infection. Then I got messages from all the VPs and Senior VPs in engineering, some of the board, and about half my colleagues. Pop-up messages from the anti-virus product filling my screen as fast as I could close them. At that point, it was officially creepy. A lot of the engineers weren't running with any protection.

Dell sell-off saga gets weird: Subsidiary VMware may buy parent in 'reverse merger'


I still remember a comment from a business finance course I took many years ago that Dell was a bank with a computer manufacturing facility strapped to its side. At that time, Dell made its money on the float between the time it charged the customer and the much later time when they actually paid their suppliers.

Brit military wants a small-drone-killer system for £20m


Re: Flock of Gulls

Old National Lampoon article about Greyhound buses equipped with side mounted 1000 lb bombs which, as the article said: "Can be dropped to deadly effect." Yes, I agree.


Re: @Credas

An old C.S. Forester novel - "The Ship", described a light cruiser's mission as "To give without receiving". Applies to any naval vessel that sacrifices armor for speed. A paraphrase of Moliere: “The secret to fencing consists in two things: to give and to not receive.”

Dell buys out EMC in mega-super-duper $67 BEEELLLION deal


Re: Growth?

The Maginot line worked fine, it was France' neglect of the taxicab fleet that doomed them.

Top VW exec blames car pollution cheatware scandal on 'a couple of software engineers'


Re: Does he remember Monica Lewinsky scandal?

No, he came nowhere near losing his job OR going to prison. He was impeached, and the trial in the Senate collapsed because he had NOT lied in court by the definitions the prosecution agreed to use, they couldn't find anything else to accuse him of, and a fair number of Republicans turned out to be having their own affairs.

This really drove the Republican Party insane because he proved that:

1) He was a lot smarter than them and their lawyers and

2) Republicans don't get much sex - and certainly no oral

Even if he'd been convicted, removal from office would have been the only penalty.


Re: Fall Guys

I could also see (well, speculate) that some non-standard modes might be useful when attempting to run diagnostics on the emissions control system itself for repair. I've certainly put a LOT of special test code in some of my SW designed to inject errors that are otherwise hard to trigger so I can test obscure error paths and make sure some of the people implementing and testing downstream code get a nasty shock if they trust my parameters too much...

Before anyone protests, it's all under a strictly defined "test mode" compilation flag AND per management directives, of course.


Re: Other makers

I saw a comment in one of the early articles after this broke that there were "a lot of questions" around how VW could get the claimed combination of power, fuel economy, AND low NOx pollution from a relatively "primitive" pollution control system. I suspect no one in the industry wanted to blow the whistle lest questions be raised about THEIR results.

I've already heard another question about a somewhat less elaborate hack in a similar vein - control of urea injection designed to insure good results in test, but stop using it in regular driving to avoid drivers having to refill the urea solution too often (or at all).


The engineers involved would be in Germany, since the design was mainly done there working with Bosch, who supplied the pollution control system components. TDI diesels with the pollution control hack were shipped to a lot of countries, including Germany itself. It might not have required that much work on the part of VW engineers since it looks like it took advantage of (presumably) test modes in Bosch' own equipment - simply turned various features on (or off) to get the desired reduction in pollution during emissions tests.

An article in the Telegraph states that Bosch sent a memo to VW in 2007 warning that use of the SW to defeat emissions test measurements would be illegal. Wonder if some VW engineer made an incautious comment in front of a Bosch representative leading to that warning.

US Treasury: How did ISIS get your trucks? Toyota: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


Re: Hmmm

The trucks and weaponry are probably all paid for by the US' Security Assistance Program, and the Treasury department feigns dismay when they wind up being immediately transferred to the "bad guys" (who might well have been the good guys just the other day).

Lies from VW: 'Our staff acted criminally but board didn't know'


According to an article in The Telegraph the base software was implemented by Bosch for test use only and they warned VW in 2007 that use in "the real world" would be illegal. That means the basics of the "defeat mode" were already there and the VW engineers just had to figure out when to turn it off (when detecting that a test was underway) and back on (normal driving conditions detected).

Run Windows 10 on your existing PC you say, Microsoft? Hmmm.


Windows 10 running well

On my original Build 2011 Samsung Tablet. In fact, running better than it did with Windows 8 (the new bits seem to have solved a USB host controller timing issue that meant that sometimes I would get touch OR bluetooth but not both until I uninstalled and reinstalled the device).

Dual core 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB memory - so a BIT above minimum specs. Fast boot (that's the SSD) and snappy general performance.

Start menu is still a mess - takes up WAY too much real estate, but I don't care - I got a replacement from Stardock and am working fine with my Windows 7 start menu in place. The "Modern UI Applications" run just fine in resizable windows.

We tried using Windows 10 for real work and ... oh, the horror



Try out Start10 from Stardock - creates a nice, compact, Windows 7 (or XP) style start menu. Much easier to use on larger screens (not free, but not very expensive either). There are a couple of other people who have created Windows start replacements.

Super Cali goes ballistic – Uber says it's bogus (even though its contract is something quite atrocious)


Re: As good as this ruling may be .....

If you follow the link to the ruling (from the article) and scroll down to the legal reasoning, there's specifics for why the commission decided that the plaintiff was acting as an employee, and several precedents (among them a case against Yellow Cab from 1991). Part of the reasoning is a list of some of the criteria for considering someone an employee rather than an independent contractor - worth the read.

FCC says cities should be free to run decent ISPs. And Republicans can't stand it


Re: Multiple competing sewer systems

Pity about your city - the city I live in does an excellent job handling our infrastructure with a combination of direct employees and contracted services.


Re: How is it a "threat to the free market"...

Private companies lie as well. And big private companies often have big bureaucracies full of (wait for it) unelected bureaucrats, many of whom want and try to accumulate more power. Basically when you are trying to defend Comcast/Xfinity by pointing to problems in government you simply look ridiculous.

Heistmeisters crack cost of safecrackers with $150 widget


Re: My extensive knowledge of nuclear weapons

"My doomsday bomb will contain only red wires."

EU move to standardise phone chargers is bad news for Apple


Re: Standardised connector... like, err, Micro USB

You can get connectors that only implement the charging part. Problem is, you always wind up with one of them when you actually want to connect to your computer...

Why Teflon Ballmer had to go: He couldn't shift crud from Windows 8, Surface


Re: Not just Ballmer

I remember listening to a presentation on Microsoft back in '95. Microsoft had clearly missed the first Internet wave but was already regaining ground. The analyst's comment was along the lines of "Microsoft doesn't gain ground because they make good decisions, they gain ground because their rivals make worse decisions. If this was a boxing match I'd swear that Microsoft's opponents had been paid to take a dive."

John Sweeney: Why Church of Scientology's gravest threat is the 'net


A religion is a cult that has had some of the nasty bits worn off. Takes a few hundred years.

RIP: Peak Oil - we won't be running out any time soon


Citigroup is being misleading

Actually the whole thing with shale and other sources of oil fits quite neatly with Peak Oil. The prediction is that as conventional sources of oil go through their entirely predictable life cycle, the incremental cost of production goes up over time. Conventional oil field preduction can be temporarily boosted or extended with new technology - and the oil produced costs more per barrel than the original oil when the field was producing at peak.

Share and tar sand oil (and deep water drilling) wouldn't even be considered if the current cost of oil wasn't high. Eventually, any field will reach a point where the cost of extraction (direct and indirect) exceeds the value of the oil/gas extracted - and that field will be shuttered until the value of an incremental barrel rises due to scarcity to the point where extraction becomes economically justified again.

Punters lose backups in cloud storage biz spat


If backify was applying strong encryption to the data stored at Livedrive (I know, assumes competence not in evidence) it would be nearly impossible for Livedrive to make the data available without the keys. Of course, this also assumes Livedrive didn't do something totally cavalier - might mean I'm 0 for 2 here...


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