* Posts by Chairman of the Bored

932 publicly visible posts • joined 19 Apr 2017


Sort your spending habits out, UK Ministry of Defence told over £20bn black hole

Chairman of the Bored

Wait a sec...

Did you say the US DoD has greater transparency than UK MoD? Whoa! Quick, get your coat, we're going to Vegas!

IBM bans all removable storage, for all staff, everywhere

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Bah!

What do you do with non-removable little grey cells? Exterminate the effective ones by forcing people to participate in writing vision statements, endlessly reorganizing, and other forced fun!

Chairman of the Bored

Symptom of why IBM is slowly dying?

Faced with the security issues inherent in flash drives, the IBM we grew up with would probably see this as a golden marketing opportunity. IBM would (over)engineer a fairly secure, usable, well documented hardware/software solution that would ensure file and data portability while maintaining information assurance. It would work well and cost a bloody fortune.

But today we get this risk averse culture that identifies only problems - not solutions.

Chairman of the Bored

Two use cases

My org hasn't allowed USB sticks for several years, and I get it - a flash drive can be the sucking chest wound of security.

My guess is that IBM will do what we do: if you have a business case for using USB, we can make an exception for you. There will be training and documentation involved. Drives will never be used to bridge between internal nets. The USB sticks themselves will be obtained from Central Supply which (theoretically) does due diligence on the supply chain. We have 1:1 accountability between specific sticks and personnel. You lose it, we talk.

Two use cases that work for me: I've got a stash of USB sticks with software, patches, tools that I might need to take to customer hardware. Single use... Once plugged in the customer machine we assume they've got cooties. Crush with hammer or snap in half to prevent reuse, bring carcass back for accountability, and then let the logistician destroy utterly

Use case 2 is to have some sticks with Kali Linux. If weird stuff starts happening on the net, use a single use Kali instance to have a little look around. Again, destroy when done.

Chairman of the Bored

But, but...

I found this nifty USB stick in the parking lot! It even has an IBM logo on it, so it must be legit, right? Let me put it in re... <Boom>

US Congress finally emits all 3,000 Russian 'troll' Facebook ads. Let's take a look at some

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Purpose

"A competent campaign with a moderately appealing candidate might have won easily." Oh, hell yes. Given that option I would have voted early and continued voting all day...

US border cops told not to search seized devices just for the hell of it

Chairman of the Bored

Hiding gun parts on/in person?

Just run his body through an MRI scanner. I'm sure any hidden gun parts will come out in the end.

NASA boss insists US returning to the Moon after Peanuts to show for past four decades

Chairman of the Bored

"may have failed"?

Seriously? That's beyond high class understatement. Asking whether NASA has performed well in manned space flight lately is like asking Mrs. Lincoln whether the president enjoyed the play at Ford's Theater...

Red Hat smitten by secure enclaves 'cos some sysadmins are evil

Chairman of the Bored

Totally agree with first two posters...

...and will add the observation that security research and peer review becomes significantly harder.

Equifax reveals full horror of that monstrous cyber-heist of its servers

Chairman of the Bored

Ok, I will bite...

...and ask why they've got the driver's licenses and passport information? Tax ID I can almost see, but why the primary ID documents? Maybe I don't want to know.

NSA sought data on 534 MILLION phone calls in 2017

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Seems like a lot

Perspective? CIA World Fact Book claims US has about 121 million landline phones and about 396 million cell phones. Internet users somewhere around 287 million. Population is about 326 million, gowing 0.81pct annually.

I absolutely cannot remember the reference but I seem to recall the total call volume is in the ballpark of 6 billion per day, as of around 2010.

So, big numbers.

Drone 'swarm' buzzed off FBI surveillance bods, says tech bloke

Chairman of the Bored

Re: re: net gun effectiveness

Yes, that video is good clean fun for the family but it had every fiber of my being crying out, "Oh, FFS! Let the pilots do free flight, but then let the shooters use 10 or 12ga shotguns with number 2 bird shot. Use rednecks who hunt birds on the wing, not cops..."

My PC is on fire! Can you back it up really, really fast?

Chairman of the Bored

Obligatory link to the Microwave Mortuary

Sadly, one of my designs made it in here... Some fun stuff to look at:


Chairman of the Bored

@The Real Tony Smith

Satisfying to build the real hardware! Driving around everywhere with scopes, extremely expensive kit, or highly proprietary info in our cars ... good times. But what would we have done in a wreck? Somehow I don't think auto cover would cover anything, and suspect ones employer could develop amnesia about asking us to drive...

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Capacitors

@Marmite, excellent! You know and I know some of those reverse polarity events might not have been entirely accidental... 8}

Chairman of the Bored

@Lukes scope

That must've been exciting! Power machines are unforgiving.

Most "fun" I had in electrical machines lab was a lab partner who was supposed to pull the neutral coming off a motor/generator pair, pull through current transformer, and reconnect. Instead she pulled a phase line, at full load. L di/dt cannot be denied... It arced, she conducted, and then she launched off the floor like a moon rocket... Most graceful and energetic leap I've ever seen... Flew over motor/gen, smacked her head into the wall, and somehow came to rest without getting caught in the spinning bits. Survived but badly shaken. Come to think about it, I was pretty shaken, too.

Chairman of the Bored

Exploding VGA monitor

A monitor smoked on wrong mode? Let me guess, it was a flat CRT ViewSonic?

Chairman of the Bored

Re: I Caused A Small Fire In A VMEbus Rack

One jumper -> two? Somebody got lazy with the PCB layout. Bug!

Chairman of the Bored

Nearly got fired...

...early on in my career I had to take a brand spanking new digital storage oscilloscope out to 'the field'. At this point the DSO was a new invention and cost more than my house, car, and possibly spouse.

I went out to the trailer at the work site, plugged it in... And its power supply went up like a volcano. Took out the main CPU board, too.

Turns out there were three problems: 1:the lazy fscking electrician who wired the trailer was asked to provide a circuit of split phase 240V couldn't be bothered to install an outlet with a NEMA L6 socket and just wired 240V to a standard 120V NMEA 5 socket. 2: the standard half bridge power supply architecture that can work on either 120 or 240V without a hard switch was not yet ubiquitous and sure as hell wasn't featured in my DSO. 3: I plugged it in

I nearly got fired because I didn't take a meter to the outlet before plugging in the scope. W.T.F.! Who does? The whole point of a standard outlet is ... Standardization!

Twitter: No big deal, but everyone needs to change their password

Chairman of the Bored

Re: feh

@Shoot Them Later: +1 for xkcd reference

Techies! Britain's defence secretary wants you – for cyber-sniping at Russia

Chairman of the Bored

Ahhhh... Psyops!

In US service we have the LBU-30 leaflet dispensing canister bomb. Those of us on the ground called it the "bullshit bomb". I think your honorable minister must have gotten hit by a BS bomb, because that would explain a lot.

Favorite psyop fail:

A translation problem is mentioned in Noel Barber’s The War of the Running Dogs – The Malayan Emergency 1948-1960, Weybright and Talley, NY, 1971. The author tells of a guerrilla ambush that caused the British commander to immediately fly to the nearest village where he harangued the collected inhabitants:

“You’re a bunch of bastards,” shouted Templer; and Rice, who spoke Chinese, listened carefully as the translator announced without emotion: “His Excellency informs you that he knows that none of your mothers and fathers were married when you were born.”

Templer waited, then, pointing a finger at the astonished villagers to show them who was the “Tuan,” added “You may be bastards, but you’ll find out that I can be a bigger one.” Missing the point of the threat completely, the translator said politely, “His Excellency does admit, however, that his father was also not married to his mother.”

Let's be Frank: Bloke drags Google to the US Supreme Court over $8.5m privacy payout

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Democracy Under Threat?

Well, AC, that's about the most succinct summary of the mess we are in I've seen. Please don't forget to include the privatized police state while you are at it. Miniluv is thriving... Let's break out the Victory gin and drink immediately. Wait... Why's my gin *brown*?

NASA dusts off FORTRAN manual, revives 20-year-old data on Ganymede

Chairman of the Bored

Download TK50?

It will cost you, but...


Failbreak: Bloke gets seven years in the clink for trying to hack his friend out of jail

Chairman of the Bored

He followed rule 1 of social engineering

Whatcha doin' on the roof?

"Trying to get better reception."

Oh, okay...

Epic! Tell the truth if possible but reveal as little as necessary.

‘I broke The Pentagon’s secure messaging system – and won an award for it!’

Chairman of the Bored

Mandatory sexual harrassment

@Hans, yes... I can see where that would cause problems! I'm a little bitter about the topic at present. Last year I got a complaint lodged about my healthy snack. I got to my desk, grabbed my fruit supply out of my messenger bag, chucked them on my desk, and started logging into all my desktops.

Didn't realize my banana was resting on top of the mandarins in a way that was "sexually suggestive" "repulsive" and "triggering".

Oh FFS! Sexual content and context? Yeah, right. It was a damn snack!

Now of course, after I won my appeal... A subordinate sometimes brings me two mound-shaped cupcakes with a cherry on top of each. Hmmmm....

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Work ethic

@Doctor Syntax... I like it! Perhaps I need a BOFH moment.

"A vision without resources is an hallucination." -Thomas Friedman.

So maybe we start with an hallucination, obtain resources and call the result a vision? Ok...

So here is my concept of operations- 1. if we fire all the pecker checkers we can save money because we won't have a drug testing program... 2. With no whiz quiz, if we want some good hallucinations, we can now drop acid. 3. Propose acid to PHB. 4. Since PHB gets all the good $#it first, we have PHB take some of these little guys... And... Thud! Wait four to five min to make sure the pulse really is gone... Then... Dirt nap!!

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Work ethic

Neither, so my day is "light" on the BS compared to some of my colleagues who do. I'm at max 50pct productive in a mid-size firm, and that's even considering the fact I'm senior enough to blow off - or authorize my people to blow off - the worst of it. Now when I was working for the govt... THAT was spectacular BS. Pure and unadulterated BS, straight from the source.

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Work ethic

Working long hours as a US/UK cultural issue... Can't speak for UK but I'd say my sample size of 1 out of 320M says it's a big problem in the US, but not for reasons one would think.

I'm looking at my schedule for the day... I'm frittering away four hours on mandatory sexual harassment training... mandatory records management training... an "all hands" to discuss our piss poor morale... a meeting with one of my subordinates to discuss HIS piss poor morale. That's half my day gone. Tomorrow we hear from legal about compliance issues that are only tangentially concerned with anything we do, another two hours. Then we have to craft an ever-fscking "vision" statement in yet another demented "all-hands" group grope. Still have to get the work done? Overtime. Big-time. I blame the lawyers!

IBM Australia to end on-shore software support

Chairman of the Bored

I think IBM figured out...

What a man running from a tiger does: one doesn't have to outrun through tiger, you just have to be faster than the other guy.

Instead of shooting for legendary quality, it looks like IBM has realized all it needs to do is suck slightly less than DXC and HPE.

Programmers! Close the StackOverflow tabs. This AI robot will write your source code for you

Chairman of the Bored

Re: I think I can summarize what's pissing off the other commentards

@Deive, looks like I need to tighten up my terminology! By AI guy what I mean is the class of academic researchers who have very little experience with the hard realities of real life operations. Sometimes people push elegant solutions to non-problems, and do so in such a way that if you blindly implement the proposed solutions, you're screwed.

Chairman of the Bored

Re: I think I can summarize what's pissing off the other commentards

@Doctor Evil, thanks for that. I did not realize National Geographic did articles on the cargo cults... I will go back and have a read. Back then I was an obnoxious kid and my interest in Natl Geo was probably more prurient than strictly necessary and therefore centered on their excellent photography...

Chairman of the Bored

I think I can summarize what's pissing off the other commentards

For AI guys who don't understand the pushback... I'm going to take a risk and put words in other people's mouths.

Nothing will piss off a senior developer faster than a team member who doesn't know what the hell he is doing and cargo cults some random code off the internet, pulls the pin, and rolls it in. If you don't know what Prof Feynman means by cargo cults, look it up and then look at what you're doing. In my organization doing cargo cult development will cause us to send you out the door.

All this AI does is automate cargo cult development.

It's been said that amateurs discuss tactics, generals discuss logistics. Well, in this world I could say amateurs discuss coding. Senior leaders discuss specifications and proofs. Battles are won with coding. The war is won through writing specifications, documentation, test cases. All the crap we hate to do ... is actually critical. The stuff we like to do (coding) is necessary but insufficient.

Any competent CS can code, and code in whatever language they need to get the job done. Thats a minimum condition of employment. How does this autocult 2000 stuff help with documenting it's own assumptions? How do I effectively prove this crap meets a formally reviewed spec?

If the AI can help me craft better specifications, craft test cases with optimal coverage and effectiveness for a given level of effort, help me have documentation that at least resembles the effen product... THEN I will be impressed.

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Go with the Flow

@data source,

Agree with you about needing decent flow editors and visualization, but I think it's lacking more than that.

20 years ago I did a lot of signal processing development in the Simulink framework built on Matlab. Think of it as flow oriented visual programming for signal processing... Complete with automagic code generation for the then state of the art TMS series digital signal processors. The code generation was ... Adequate. The overall construct was good enough for academic exploration of algorithms and "toy" systems. But for anything of real world complexity we had to go right back to C.

Fast forward to today and we have the gnuradio software defined radio framework. It's got an amazing bunch of blocks that abstract processing, io, hardware... Your little lines connect data flows, beautifully colored by data type. But for industrial strength work, one still falls back on it's excellent C++ or python APIs.


I think it's because the visual tools do not fit as well into ones configuration management framework. How do I quickly diff two graphical flows? How do I patch a graphical flow? A competent developer can very quickly get the gist of a code patch on inspection, but it feels like the cognitive load of parsing two visualizations and looking for subtleties is difficult... Hopefully technology will advance enough to eliminate these issues.

And, yes, I will have trouble trusting code generated by an AI who's internal algorithms cannot be understood or properly documented.

Chairman of the Bored

Not sure I would have chosen a readline as an example

Given how tough it is to properly armor I/O against buffer overruns and whatnot, I tend to require that the calls be simple, readable, auditable, and written by someone competent...

Did you guess 2019 for Intel's 10nm chip ramp up? Congratulations

Chairman of the Bored

Not bad for a firm was "stuck" fabbing DRAM

In the dark ages before the microprocessor, Intel was an also-ran making dynamic ram chips. Federico Faggin's epic 4004 and later 8008 micros changed the world and transformed Intel. You cannot say that about many people, but he did.

Sad note: F.F. (and you can see the F.F. on chip die) left Intel to launch the Zilog Z80 and Intel for years downplayed his role in creating the modern micro.

Apple debugs debugger, nukes pesky vulns in iOS, WebKit, macOS

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Why not scan properly?

@2+2=5 cunning plan? Or is the plan to use cunnilingus to distract the windows fans? Think I saw that movie. Damn, I'm distracted already. Sorry!

Audiophiles have really taken to the warm digital tone of streaming music

Chairman of the Bored

I miss stadium rock

Lord knows how many decibels... But when the whole stadium is moving, it's loud... Remember going to the Monsters of Rock concert. Just .... Wow.

Steaming is nice but you don't get a contact buzz that lasts for hours...

IETF: GDPR compliance means caring about what's in your logfiles

Chairman of the Bored

Re: How long are you required to keep financial records?

Thanks to all for clearing up my understanding; seems like a reasonable approach.

I think this can make for some very interesting log file rules though ... I can understand needing to wean my marketing weenies off the port 80/443 slurp, and really appreciate the value of doing so. But anything that's hitting ports I think are interesting (SSH, internal DHCP server).... It's going to take a lot to keep my hoarding instincts at bay.

Chairman of the Bored

What I'd really hope for is consistency

Govt expects my firm to cough up any piece of trivia created from the big bang to present... In a format of their choosing... More or less immediately.

But $DEITY help you get data back from any of the government services or their most favored contractors in any time frame whatsoever. FOIA? It's like playing the lottery, but it takes you years to lose rather than days.

This 3 day thing feels like a trap - who wants to be the first poor sod hit with a subpoena for full log details - down to full IPs - concerning an attack two months past - while compliant with the draft standard? Good luck, and start drinking immediately!

Chairman of the Bored

How long are you required to keep financial records?

Just curious. In the US the IRS can stick a probe in you for seven years, standard. Longer if they are pissed off. You better have receipts to back up every jot and tittle on your tax forms, and I suppose these would be covered if we had a GDPR-like law. Not only do I have proper names in them, but for some these are combined with websites, snail locations, etc. How does a European keep their personal or corporate financials on the right side of the law now?

For the record, when I dump a log, I want some privacy. Whether I get it... Who knows.

UK's Department of Fun seeks data strategy head – experience not needed

Chairman of the Bored

Call me cynical, but...

...if the UK govt is anything like the US govt, this sort of ad is written to match precisely one person: whomever their new line managers wish to award with the position. On closer inspection one typically realizes this is a sinecure or administrative assistant position, highly customized.

I've usually seen this used for the boss' kid, or the admin who could suck the chrome off a trailer hitch, whatever. The boss' kid usually gets a 'strategic planning' role; the mistress gets a 'financial analyst' position.

The relatively low salary is probably a step up for the lucky incumbent, but has to be below certain thresholds that would trigger additional external scrutiny (aka adult supervision). Sound about right?

Musk: I want to retrieve rockets with big Falcon party balloons

Chairman of the Bored

Re: "100 per cent oxygen at 16 psi " would kill you fairly fast.

@AC, thanks for that detailed post and great link. This really does boggle the mind. As a hardware engineer I tend to think I'm really hot stuff, but looking at what was accomplished in the early space program reminds me that (1) my ignorance is vastly larger than my knowledge, and (2) we truly do stand on the shoulders of giants. Thanks!

Chairman of the Bored

Re: "100 per cent oxygen at 16 psi " would kill you fairly fast.

@SC- quite correct. On orbit, one maintains O2 at a cabin pressure equal to the partial pressure of O2 at sea level, about 5.1psi. I guess - but don't know - that having to design for a lower static pressure makes the spacecraft lighter? Wonder what they had to do with Apollo spacecraft to move to a mixed gas system after the Apollo 1 disaster (what an awful way to die)

Found an interesting systems description link:


Looks like internal pressure at launch was about atmospheric and the astonauts would be provided pure O2. Doesn't say whether the cabin was purged to eliminate the N2 but it's probably a reasonable assumption that it was. As the rocket lifts off the cabin is allowed to depressurize to 5.1psi or so, which happens around 20-40sec after launch. Atmosphere inside is definitely pure O2 at that point. On reenty the astronauts have to repressurize with external air during descent.

So the 'nauts are probably breathing pure O2 at full atmospheric pressure, at least while waiting for launch. Imagine that with countdown holds that might be quite a while. Wonder how close the men got to physiological limits...

Tech bribes: What's the WORST one you've ever been offered?

Chairman of the Bored

Not a bribe but one hell of a nice touch

CPI / Eimac Division television broadcast tubes... Your vacuum electron device fits into a wheeled chassis that contains the external RF cavities, cooling circuits, and whatnot. Big sucker, but puts out 10s of kW of clean RF power, with extraordinary reliability.

On the chassis is a little red toolbox, made of high quality steel, with the old Eimac logo emblazoned in gold upon it's lid. Inside are spare o-rings, EMI gaskets, hand tools, and all the little bits and baubles needed for tube alignment and cal. In a world of low quality crap and abusing users, it's a little bit of sanity.

Interestingly, as cool of a collector's item one would find the boxes - and RF engineers are inveterate tinkerers and frequently collect bits of interesting kit - I've never even heard of one getting nicked.

BOFH: We know where the bodies are buried

Chairman of the Bored

Re: A thouhgt - a very curious and potentially disturbing one

@Marshmallowtown, that's a disturbing thought! Or maybe not - than janitor in my building is probably tolhe most polite and hard-working bloke in the whole place. Interesting.

On a similar vein - lived near a gentlemen who used to a flag officer is the USN. Had a tour as shipbuilding superintendent. Real rough looking guy, and for some reason wanted accurate information about how things were going on the ways rather than rely on the BS feed provided by his staff... So his habit was to ditch his staff, pull on some filthy overalls, and walk around the docks and see for himself, at least until his staff found out and warned the contractors, sailors, mafia, etc what the old man was doing.

Asked him how he found out. Answer was something like, "well, the docks were nearly empty and everything looked pristine. Found a sailor polishing a railing for no good reason and asked him why. He answered, 'some g....m mother...er From NAVSEA is walking around to see what's wrong so I gotta polish this f....g railing. What a d...khead!...'

Asked what he did to the sailor. Response was something like 'why would I do anything??? I wanted honest feedback and I got it. he was the only man in sight doing his f....g job, so why should I be unhappy?'

Amazon, LG Electronics turned my vape into an exploding bomb, says burned bloke in lawsuit

Chairman of the Bored

So... Do we change this guy's name to Hot Rod?

Too soon!

British Crackas With Attitude chief gets two years in the cooler for CIA spymaster hack

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Another Perspective....

Totally agree. Right up the point where you start harassing the wife I might buy an argument that you're a politically motivated activist using illegal means to further your cause. Illegal, but I can respect other viewpoints. Intimidating a person's spouse though? That's out of bounds. Where I come from you get your ascii kicked at a bare minimum.