Re: Fixing things long after they have gone live
79 posts • joined 10 Nov 2012
It is inevitable that as the number of users of a finite resource increases the performance degrades.
The obvious solution is to upgrade the resource - relatively easy to do with fibre, not so easy to do with terrestrial wireless, very difficult/costly to do with LEO satellites.
Cluttering up near Earth unregulated/unmanaged space with more and more satellites has many other serious (bad) consequences.
Making more money or doing something just because it is possible is not a good enough reason!
I am always surprised that nobody ever criticises the hardware.
There were many projects that came up with hardware designs that made it impossible to have a buffer overflow - and much else besides. Capabilities, for example - and to those who point out their problems may I point out that capabilities are WAY better than what we use now.
Unfortunately 40 years ago the hardware simply was too slow to implement much of this stuff.
Now we have the equivalent of a Morris Minor with a V10 engine - goes like hell but is unstable even in a straight line, generally corners dangerously and braking is just an afterthought that causes heart stoppages.
Commissioning a new head office there were problems with M$ software and people were flown out from the UK.
Quite soon the network (installed and well tested) was blamed for the inability of Exchange to work.
When asked how the M$ people were connecting to the servers the reply was 'network' - simply told the M$ cretin that the network did NOT discriminate traffic and that M$ should extract their digits.
M$ eventually found the problem/s.
This happened in South Africa where the ANC government just increased the state debt by taking a huge loan for COVID-19 purposes that was immediately gobbled by the corruption that has brought the country to the brink of disaster.
Why would anyone expect that there is the moral will to stop this?
Many years ago when I was still young I travelled from Johannesburg to Windhoek to upgrade the operating system on an ICL SYSTEM 4, taking THREE copies of the necessary stuff on 9-track magnetic tapes.
The mainframe could not read ANY of them!
Eventually got a colleague to plead with a passenger about to board a Windhoek flight to nurse a removable disk pack (quite large in those days!) as hand luggage which I very gratefully accepted from hm on his arrival in Windhoek.
Seems that the 'skew tape' used to align the heads on the tape drives was not well - but simply remedying this with a 'valid' skew tape was not an option as many years of the site's tapes would have become unreadable!
The US government and military of the day had probably asked for something,but I bet that NOBODY had an inkling as to what would eventually emerge as the Internet!
An amazing feat of design that needed only a few tweaks to make it not only "usable" but eminently so!
The distributed nature of the design enabled it to scale so far past the original expectations that it is almost miraculous.
As for devices like firewalls one can view them as a choice of the end user, like having a wall around your property or not - not a part of the Internet per se and will probably be required until the last crook has disappeared from the planet!
The Internet (previously ARPANET, previously ...) works well because it is "stupid" and the "clever" bits are the endpoints.
Change the endpoints as much as you like and the network will still (mostly) deliver the packets used to carry the data.
Putting "clever" bits into the network itself will simply produce problems that are avoidable.
See this old paper https://www.hyperorg.com/misc/stupidnet.html
Any proposal by any government to enable control will end in tears!
Like everywhere else Windows is often deployed (even when the alternative is probably better).
I am distrustful of most "digital security" as it is usually an afterthought (bolted on after the disaster) or badly thought through in the first place - and I have experience where the resistance to good security is fueled by "convenience".
All it takes is ONE slip to let the bad boys in!
Sad to SA that SA has had good computer people for many, many decades but the "brain drain" is fast depleting the pool.
A simple count of the number of flaws is not useful - a common, easily used vulnerability counts for as much as an obscure (but possibly more dangerous) one.
Also, the number of copies of a given piece of software containing a flaw can result in a 'less dangerous' flaw causing widespread damage while an obscure flaw may never be exploited.
While Assange et al are probably guilty of some or other crimes, it seems that the US has MASSIVE security problems that allow secrets to be taken so easily!
I wonder what the security spending by the US is? Probably make one's eyes water - yet very poor value for money, it seems
In my experience I can quite often do a better job (and at low or no cost) then the "professionals"
My 2001 Mercedes Benz E200K stood for around six months because both "keys" (more like TV remote controls) stopped working.
Eventually figured out that both keys had developed small holes in the flexible parts after much use and all sorts of rubbish had clogged up the lens through which the infrared is transmitted / received.
Imagine what I would have paid to an authorised dealer!
Decades ago all sorts of interesting architectural stuff was tried but found not to be feasible with the hardware of the time.
What happened to all of this?
Hardware architecture that provides decent protection (at least much better than what we have now!), can prevent buffer overflows and all sorts of things - probably at a performance cost, but look at what simply focusing has got.
In the book "Elements of Programming Style" (Kernighan and Plaugher) there is the statement relative us.fast as possible!
Imagine the uproar if a CPU appeared that had an architecture similar to IBM's SWARD!
Never been chased by a white rhino but was scared as hell when a black rhino and calf decided that we were not to be tolerated anywhere near her and offspring (no quadbike).
Hippo, however are definitely to be avoided - actually saw one chase off a lioness attempting to make a meal of an unsuspecting waterbuck.
Ignorance is definitely a problem, though, as in my youth (about 40 years ago) my wife and I went walkabout at St Lucia (Natal, South Africa) and despite walking past MANY hippos survived unmolested, which my wife ascribed to them being vegetarians!
A little off-topic, it seems that it was fashionable to be anti-apartheid yet it is now the fashion to say nothing against what South Africa got in apartheid's place - a good example is the rolling blackouts this last week courtesy of the bankrupt state power corporation and the ANC "liberators" that has further damaged the ailing economy.
I did not use my 2001 Mercedes Benz E200K for around 6 months because BOTH keys stopped functioning, and I refused to be ripped off by an official dealer.
The short story is that the "key" seems to use infrared communication with the car once inserted into the socket on the dashboard - years of use eventually left a hole in the plastic shell (both keys) through which dust and other rubbish entered and obstructed the lens at the tip of the key.
Problem resolved by cleaning the inside of the lens with a small brush, at no cost.
Used my bicycle while the car could not be started - lots of exercise and quite a saving on fuel costs!
Some years ago out on a run training for the Comrades Marathon (in South Africa many of us are quite unusually fond of running long distances!) I had completed a fairly steep uphill section when my bowels decide to move as well.
The only thing to do was to head for a service station a kilometre or so along the road that I knew had public toilets.
The bowels became more and more insistent the faster I ran and by the time I reached the service station I was on the brink of being (literally) in the brown and smelly stuff.
Without any regard for signage,or anything else for that matter, I vaguely was aware that I caused a stir as I entered the toilet.
Once relieved - of the bowel problem and that I had managed to avoid disaster - I realised that in my rush I had run into the ladies.
Came out trying not to look too flustered and set off again after thanking the staff for the use of the facilities!
The bank I worked for was moved to TCP/IP while all the others in the country at the time were captive IBM accounts using SNA.
When Burroughs became a problem and a move to IBM s/390 and onwards was done I refused to succumb and used Cisco channel-attached routers - tunneling the SNA between sites and avoiding the FEP and associated software costs.
Imagine my astonishment when the person in charge of IT enquired about our SNA network!
It took 2 days to craft a suitably snotty reply that pointed out that while he was being a big-shot and contemplating his navel we had saved a bundle of money and had only a single IP network,
Execs usually cannot discriminate between execute as in kill and execute as in carry out operations!
Sounds like my wife's laptop running Windows 10!
Just installed Ubuntu MATE 18.04 on 4 machines - 2 laptops, an old HP microserver and Raspberry Pi and all are working flawlessly - and fast, and updates actually work, and, and, and . . .
Have fun with Windows :)
The disease that managers only need to know how to manage and have no idea of the area they are managing pops up everywhere!
In my 70 years I have only come across 3 genuine managers (and hundreds of fakers) themost impressive of whom told the MD of the company publicly "not to f*ck him around, as he had been f*cked around by professionals".
Surprisingly, he was not fired or "punished" in any way.
Was it because he was actually an asset to the company who got things done?
Strange that I have found so many people who have trouble using Windows - especially Windows 8 & 10 when the UI changed so much.
Yet some of those people who opted to change to Ubuntu MATE from XP have no trouble at all?
The fallacy that Linux has no GUI tools and is all command line is just male bovine excrement spread around by (mainly) Windows bigots (who have probably never put in a fraction of the effort learning the Windows way than they did when trying Linux - if they ever did).
Registry changes are WAY more dangerous than running a somewhat cryptic command line in an unusual case using LINUX.
Even if a Windows user finds someone who can explain what registry entries to change the procedure can quite easily end in tears.
Most LINUX admin tasks can be done using a GUI that most users can understand - I can't say that for Windows, especially Windows 10 that usually has problems after an "upgrade"
I recently found a laptop so old that it has only 384MB RAM - after some scratching around I discovered ANTIX which turned this geriatric device into a usable device again!
The biggest issue I have found with reviving PCs and laptops by installing LINUX is that those users that give credence to the forecasts of doom by Windows bigots find fault (even though the evidence that they are better of is ignored)
Not quite 50 years ago I worked on a range of mainframes where the bottom machine in the range had loops in the microcode to make it slower, and therefore cheaper, than the next model in the series!
So "switches" may actually exist in the Intel microcode for some purpose/s of which we are unaware.
Get out the tin foil hats - thay may actually be required!
In the 1970s I worked on ICL System4 mainframes which were IBM360 instruction set compatible - the big difference between the two was the System4 had 4 sets of registers (one for each processor "state") which avoided the save / restore overhead when switching context. Quite clever.
I think the real problem is that while many architectures and implementations were explored around 50 years ago most were too slow / expensive given the hardware technologies of the time - they seem to have been forgotten.
Perhaps the old stuff should be dusted off and considered again.
About 15 years ago when the company was moving into it's new head office building I received a call from a colleague asking for assistance because the clever little Microsoft boys sent from the UK (we are in Johannesburg) to fix the Exchange problems had informed him that the network was the cause of the email system's ills.
I rushed over and asked one of the M$ people how they were accessing the servers - via the network, of course!
After some harsh words and advising him to extract his digit and look for the actual problem and not blame the network that treated all traffic (more or less) equally the problem was fixed.
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