* Posts by Grumpy Rob

7 posts • joined 20 Oct 2016

The reluctant log trawler: The buck stops with the back-end

Grumpy Rob

Re: 16bit

"Some customers in the past have found that their bill is inversely proportional to how grateful they were"

A bit off-topic, but reminds me of my (long deceased) great-aunt who a loooooooong time ago worked as an operator in a manual telephone exchange in a country town. When you were connected to a subscriber, to charge them you pressed a button on the switchboard which clicked one unit on their billing meter.

If a subscriber became abusive the operators were always very nice - because they just kept clicking on the billing meter button as long as the subscriber kept yelling.

'Beyond stupid': Linus Torvalds trashes 5.8 Linux kernel patch over opt-in Intel CPU bug mitigation

Grumpy Rob

Linus is right!

Linus is right, in that it's not up to the Linux kernel to solve security problems of the type that AWS is trying to mitigate. If the data you're processing is so sensitive what the hell are you doing running on something in the cloud? It's not just when you're processing the data that you're vulnerable - the input and output data has to be stored in the cloud too. But cloud providers have never been hacked - right?

I'm just amazed at the number of companies and government/semi-government organisations that are using cloud-based email and data processing/storage. Has no-one done a risk assessment of what could go wrong? But it seems the beancounters have taken over and cheaper beats secure every time - until an excavator or a fire takes out Internet connectivity and the business is left without any access to their corporate data for hours or even days. Yeah - much cheaper!

Moore's Law is deader than corduroy bell bottoms. But with a bit of smart coding it's not the end of the road

Grumpy Rob

Horses for courses

One problem I've seen with software development is the old "when you've got a hammer everything looks lik a nail". Young programmers learn one language, and think that it's applicable to all problems they're given. So I've seen what should have been a simple web application run like an absolute dog because it used MEGABYTES of Javascript and MEGABYTES of HTMl to render a few simple and small tables. But the developer was using Java/Swing (I think) and some client side libraries that were HUGE. Who needs click-sortable columns on a table with typically three or four lines of data?? But the developer clearly didn't know any better.

Once you know a thing or two you can select Python for quick and dirty one-off jobs - it doesn't matter if it takes a few hours to extract/migrate data if you're only doing it once. While for a production task you may pick something more efficient and suited to the task - and (gasp!) actually do some thinking at the design stage.

One of my early jobs (more than 30 years ago) was writing the telemetry driver for a SCADA system that had three dual-CRT operator consoles. All written in assembler and fitted into 256k bytes of core memory.. including the OS. And the Interdata 32 bit mini had its performance measured in DIPS (dozens of instructions per second). As with a previous poster, when I sit waiting long seconds for a 4 page Word document to load on an i5 machine with 8Gb of RAM I just shake my head in amazement/disgust.

'Year-long' delay to UK 5G if we spike Huawei deals, say telcos

Grumpy Rob

What could possibly go wrong?

Gee - I can't think of any reason why you wouldn't install equipment in the CORE of your national communication network from a country that:

- has recently been accused of hacking into businesses all over the world and stealing IP

- has the power to coerce a local company to spy for it while ensuring that that company can't tell anyone about it.

And if you think you can mitigate the risk by inspecting the source code then you're dreaming - for a start try looking at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Obfuscated_C_Code_Contest to get an idea of how you can hide stuff if you want. And then the nightmare of checking that *every* piece of kit delivered has the same firware, doesn't have extra hidden ROM, firmware updates are "clean", etc, etc, etc...

BTW - I would be just as suspicious about equipment bought from the USA, except that with the "Five Eyes" agreement they already have access to all our phone conversations anyway!

The bottom line is that if you don't have equipment designed and manufactured in-country you can't really trust it 100%. So you're already stuffed!

BA IT systems failure: Uninterruptible Power Supply was interrupted

Grumpy Rob

Coarse colonial

May not be relevant, but my favourite quote (not original) when sytems go down is:

Q: Why is a computer system like an erect penis?

A: Because if you f**k with it it's going to go down.

Seen it any number of times!

systemd-free Devuan Linux hits version 1.0.0

Grumpy Rob

Re: geez, the ignorance about systemd here is astounding

Well, let's see what Linus thinks about the Red Hat developers working on systemd (back in 2014).

http://lkml.iu.edu//hypermail/linux/kernel/1404.0/01331.html

Oh, sorry - Linus must be an ignorant troll too </sarc>

South Australia blacked out by bad bespoke software, not wind farms

Grumpy Rob

Gosh, I like simple answers to complex questions!

There are a few contributors who seem to think network stability is really simple, but I can assure you it's not. Once you have a succession of big disturbances on the transmission network you are in uncharted territory. It's all very well saying that big rotating machines (i.e. coal-fired turbines) have lots of capacity to "instantaneously" provide extra power, but that's conveniently ignoring the problems involved in trying to keep widely separated generators in sync - there are transmission delays, reaction times of the turbine governors, etc, etc Even if the SA generation had been 100% coal-fired there's no guarantee that it would have stayed up. So it's just opportunistic to blame wind generation.

I certainly agree with the consensus that the introduction of lots of green power could have been better managed (hindsight *is* 20-20 vision), and griffo is right that this was a "learning event". But I get *really* annoyed by the pollies and pundits mindlessly (or is it duplicitously?) demanding cheap AND 100% reliable electricty - it's an engineering trade-off, you can't have both simultaneously.

And on the subject of the cost of electricity - it's a few years since I looked at the annual reports of the NSW electricity distributors, and they were then 100% Government owned. But from memory the annual reports showed that the distributors paid a total annual "dividend" to the Government of around a billion dollars, plus another half a billion odd in debt repayments. But "dividend" is just accountant bullshit for tax, since they are (well, were) publically owned assets. So a lot of the blame for high electricity prices lies at the door of our pollies, rather than "network gold plating" or green energy. Don't believe me? Well get off your bum and look at the publically available annual reports.

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