back to article The nuclear launch button won't be pressed by a finger but by a bot

Nothing could hurry Cool Dave. Tall and taciturn, he would make his way around school between classes at his own pace. When he talked, he not so much spoke as delivered a quiet soliloquy in a thoughtful and deliberate manner. Cool Dave looked you in the eye. He spent time considering before answering questions. He never …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the risk of both hackers and evil insiders a key reason missile launchers require turning two mechanical switches too far apart for a single person to both turn?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      While the final action may be manual - are the messages that trigger it pre-determined from the (figurative?) push of the POTUS button?

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Trump would never push the button - too much like manual work. Jared will do it for him, after of course receiving careful instructions from Putin via Sergei Kislyak.

    2. gryphon

      I seem to recall reading somewhere that Russia have a missile farm that can launch automatically with no human intervention if it detects certain things like a nuclear detonation over Moscow, seismic activity over a certain level which would denote same etc.

      i.e. A guaranteed retaliatory strike. One would hope that the computers making the launch decisions were isolated and unhackable but..

      Obviously this could be complete rubbish but somebody in Russia might have been watching Dr Strangelove at some point and had a lightbulb moment. :-D

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You are sort'a correct

        AFAIK, when Russian missile forces go on the highest possible alert (something which requires presidential authorization nowdays and used to require politburo authorization), some of them move to an automated launch. What are the triggers - nobody knows.

        There was only one time in history when they were on that alert status - it was during Able Archer 83. The combined paranoya of Andropov, deployment of medium range Pershing missiles to Europe and NATO running exercises with participation of actual heads of state nearly got us an E.L.E. We should really thank providence that no earthquakes, meteor strikes or solar flares happened that week.

        1. Cuddles Silver badge

          Re: You are sort'a correct

          "What are the triggers - nobody knows."

          They may not advertise it to the rest of the world, but I kind of hope someone knows. James Cameron made a documentary about how bad an idea it would be to leave that decision up to the computers.

        2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: You are sort'a correct

          "What are the triggers - nobody knows."

          I hope somebody did, or are you suggesting that, as was popular with ancient world dictators, when the system was finished the designers were executed so they couldn't repeat it?

          Ah well

          French President: "I have ten mistresses. Apparently I married one of them, but which? I don't know."

          American President: "I have ten heads of executive agencies. Apparently one of them works for the KGB but which? Nobody can tell me."

          Secretary of Politburo of the Communist Party of the USSR: "I have ten trusted advisers. Apparently one of them is competent, but which? Even he doesn't know."

          Spot which part of this old joke seems to have come true.

        3. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: You are sort'a correct

          At that time, I was running around a wet rainy Denmark with a rifle full of blanks on a NATO exercise. We were told there wer something like half a million Russian marines off the coast of Poland as a response to the strikes there and that Margaret Thatcher had said if the Russians made a wrong move we would be sent in to back the Poles.

          I suppose having a couple of hundred 7.62 blanks was marginally better than shouting BANG at them.

        4. Keven E

          Re: You are sort'a correct

          "There was only one time in history when they were on that alert status - "

          This guy seemed to be on the precipice... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasili_Arkhipov

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        "I seem to recall reading somewhere that Russia have a missile farm that can launch automatically with no human intervention if it detects certain things like a nuclear detonation over Moscow, seismic activity over a certain level which would denote same etc."

        I think you're referring to the Dead Hand (aka Perimetr) system. No one really knows if it still exists or not since it's considered top secret by the Soviet and now Russian military.

      3. B*stardTintedGlasses

        I believe you are referring to this my good sir.

        Quite a good insight in this article into the "Dead Hand" system.

        http://uk.businessinsider.com/a-spherical-bunker-in-russia-was-the-most-secure-place-in-the-entire-cold-war-2015-3

        And simples:

        http://knowledgenuts.com/2014/03/26/dead-hand-russias-terrifying-doomsday-device/

        1. CustardGannet
          Terminator

          A message from Skynet :

          You, humans, are the weakest link.

          Goodbye.

    3. Gavin Chester

      See The Film Wargames

      While in the film the key switches were replaced as the humans were considered a possible weak link in the chain, its not a huge stretch to consider replacing the human with a box to do the work as its cheaper, and does as its told.

      1. Chz

        Re: See The Film Wargames

        Humans *are* the weak link in the chain, and the US certainly knows it and plans around it.

        As in, no you don't need enough weapons to nuke the entire world 3x over, but they know very well that in all probability something like half of their crews will never follow the order to launch. The whole point is that the people with the keys have to go through all sorts of tests to prove they're sane enough to be in command of weapons that can bring about Armageddon - and yet, no sane person could ever follow the order to launch.

        I'm sure it's been considered to replace the human element many times, but cooler heads have prevailed.

        1. TheProf
          Mushroom

          Re: See The Film Wargames

          "The whole point is that the people with the keys have to go through all sorts of tests to prove they're sane enough to be in command of weapons that can bring about Armageddon - and yet, no sane person could ever follow the order to launch."

          That needs a Catchy name or 22.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the risk of both hackers and evil insiders a key reason missile launchers require turning two mechanical switches too far apart for a single person to both turn?

      True, but that's what you have social engineering for. Apparently FBI's James Comey was misled into going public with the Hillary enquiry status by a fake email, which pretty much nuked (pardon the pun) Clinton's chances in the election.

      Given that some humans actually voted for Trump I think we can safely say they're not as safe as they are alleged to be either.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Own goal?

    Most of the nations that are likely to host the hackers who would do this are the ones that the missiles are aimed at by default, so any such hack wouldn't give much opportunity for post-launch gloating.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Own goal?

      IIRC It has been said that the religious right in the USA has a literal belief in the biblical prophesy of Armageddon. They believe it inevitable and see a Middle East conflict and a nuclear wipe out as necessary precursors to their achieving the heavenly Rapture.

      They wouldn't be the first in history to commit to a suicidal action for a religious/cult/nationalistic ideology.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Own goal?

        Don't forget all the radical Muslims seeking to summon the 12th Imam and so on. I think even Judaism has its version.

        1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Own goal?

          I just plan on surviving the nuclear induced Fimbulwinter that will follow.

        2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: Own goal?

          "Don't forget all the radical Muslims seeking to summon the 12th Imam and so on. I think even Judaism has its version."

          I'm not aware that either religion has any mainstream group that believes in a catastrophic, civilisation-destroying, eschatological event. They just imagine that the Messiah/12th Imam will come and bring the reign of peace and justice for all. Daesh wants to start off by killing all non-Muslims or enslaving them, but that's just typical nationalist evil, no religious soup needed.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Own goal?

        They wouldn't be the first in history to commit to a suicidal action for a religious/cult/nationalistic ideology

        Sometime it might be worth you reading GW Bush's rationalisation[1] for launching Gulf War 2[2]. The words "peace and safety" occur lots of times - which is one of the phrases used in the Bible to denote the end of times.

        [1] If he had any other than DT

        [2] And it wasn't just the desire to outwar his daddy.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The only way to handle the threat of nuclear annihilation is with black humour***. Today's article is apparently lacking that essential - very depressing. Reminds me of the film "When the Wind Blows".

    *** Dr Strangelove

    *** "Duck & cover - and kiss your ass goodbye"

    1. Trilkhai

      I think you might be mixing up two versions of the nuclear instructions...

      1) One old edu video repeats the words "Duck…and cover!" in sync with kids/adults ducking low to the ground and covering their head/back with their coats.

      2) Some schools taught that if there was an incoming bomb, everyone should lean forward, lace their fingers behind their necks, and put their head between their knees — hence the "and kiss your ass goodbye." (Both parents in/near SF were taught that one.)

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        WHOOSH! It was intentional, as a dark joke, since ducking and covering isn't going to do much against a direct hit, thus the kiss your ass goodbye part.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Nothing anyone can do about a direct hit

          It was all about surviving a near miss.

  4. Admiral Grace Hopper

    Einstein A-Go-Go

    You'd better watch out, you'd better beware,

    Albert said that E = mc²

  5. Franco Silver badge

    It's funny how the perception of art changes over the years as life starts to imitate it.

    When The Running Man came out it was seen as a fairly standard Sci-Fi action flick, by the mid 2000s it was starting to look like a prescient satire on the future of reality TV.

    Incidentally, although they didn't explicitly name Trump, Big Country predicted the future in 1991. The song was called Republican Party Reptile. Sample lyrics "he knows the surgeon's gonna keep his wife young", "he likes to play with the NRA and their toys". Well worth a listen.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im4EFEDSUVI

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Yet the film wasn't much like the original book as written by Stephen King under the pen name Richard Bachman.

      1. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

        King also had a book under the Bachman name called "Rage," which described a school shooting incident, way before they were common.

        So is King predicting the future, or is he causing it? <glances warily at the dog/>

        1. Guus Leeuw

          Re 2nick3

          Dear sir,

          Can i assume that you have not read The Dark Tower?

          Regards,

          Guus

      2. Franco Silver badge

        In another adaptation that is nothing like the book, the portrayal of media sensationalism in Starship Troopers is also not that far from the truth. The aforementioned Chris Morris did something similar in Brass Eye as well.

        Robert A. Heinlein's book inspired little but the title in the film, and the book is still considered overtly militaristic to the point of fascism by many, although remains on the recommended reading lists of many militaries.

        On a final note, the same director (Paul Verhoeven) also did a fine job skewering consumer culture in Robocop, the omission of which is just one of the many reasons the recent reboot was crap.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Heinlein keeps getting read because he still has some interesting ideas, such as not being allowed to vote before making a significant contribution to the country first (though in his case that universally meant serving in the military). Goes back to the roots of the original voting restrictions to landowners (people with actual skin in the game).

    2. Little Mouse

      "like a prescient satire on the future of reality TV"

      Max Headroom - 20 Minutes Into The Future showed us a clip that could have come straight from "Embarrassing Bodies", but titled "Dr Duncan's Symptom Video Show".

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Trollface

        Does that mean we can blame the Simpsons for giving Donald Trump the idea of running for president back in 2000? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtparSnQhFc)

        1. Graham Dawson

          They made that joke because he'd already run. He's run on and off since the 90s.

      2. Alistair Dabbs

        Embarrassing Bodies

        I wrote about this a while ago.

        1. Little Mouse

          Re: Embarrassing Bodies

          OMG - A tip of the hat (or a cock of the beaver) to you, sir.

          I watched Max again for the first time since the eighties only a couple of months ago. Looks like you were way ahead of me.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Well of course the Bachman Books 'Running Man' is based on real events that happened in the 1920s/30s. They had these dancing endurance competitions (dance marathons), by the Great Depression people were so hungry and thus desperate to win that they'd would sometimes literally die on the dancefloor from exhaustion. There are stories of hotel staff just dragged off as if they'd fainted, and competition would carry on.

      Of course the Lawnmower Man is the story from that book that really got changed when they filmed it.

      On the same topic, I though Chris Morris was making satire of news programming in the 1990s. Apparently the industry thought he was making training manuals. Sometimes I see a headline and am convinced it must have been written by Morris.

      1. gryphon

        Dance marathon as seen in They Shoot Horses Don't They with Jane Fonda

    4. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Not future - history

      I don't remember whether in fact Nancy Reagan had a lot of plastic surgery, but a second wife has to work harder. I believe I recall a "Spitting Image" sketch where Ronnie was surprised when Nancy walked in with apparently two sets of front side ladybumps; she explained the lower ones were her knees, brought up along with everything else presumably but don't think about it.

      As an early work, Charlie Brooker made a web site called "TV Go Home" of fictional TV guide listings of increasingly awful programme ideas. Then entirely too many of them got made, but usually without credit.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TVGoHome

  6. GregC
    Thumb Up

    Why do they do it? All I can think of is that it must be something to do with the very nature of computing itself. If I went around saying I was a proctologist instead, I'm quite sure they wouldn't all be clamouring for me to stick my finger up their arses. At least, not without an appointment.

    I'm going to make this point next time someone asks me to "have a quick look at the computer".

    Have a bonus internet point for the Rage Against The Machine video too.

    1. Hank Waggenburger III
      Thumb Up

      Smell my finger?

      If I went around saying I was a proctologist instead, I'm quite sure they wouldn't all be clamouring for me to stick my finger up their arses

      Enquiringly minds and all... I conducted an experiment along these lines at the office this Friday afternoon. You won't believe what happened next.

      Icon for what I have been mostly doing today-->

  7. jake Silver badge

    We've already had a nuclear war.

    It was a trifle one sided, but it was a war, and nukes were involved.

    The next one, and people being people there WILL be a next one, won't be quite as benign. The trick is to move to one of two places: The back of beyond, or Ground Zero. In the first, hopefully you've found a place where the Jet Stream & miscellaneous eddy currents will conspire to keep the fallout away from your "victory" garden[0]. In the second, you are the fallout, and won't give a shit.

    Me, I'm more worried about earthquakes. Rogers Creek is just a couple hundred yards from where I type(o) ... But it's hardly something I lose sleep over.

    [0] And that you have enough ammo and know how to be able to harvest the chow ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We've already had a nuclear war.

      "On the Beach" portrayed that situation. Even Australia wasn't far enough away from the conflict to avoid the literal fallout form the northern hemisphere.

      Long term survival would depend on there being no "nuclear winter" due to dust in the atmosphere for several years. The food chain would be totally disrupted even for self-sufficiency using surface resources.

    2. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: We've already had a nuclear war.

      I never found the name of the books/radio show... but there was one on Radio 4 about such an event. There were only 2 groups of people to survive. Australia and one or two of the nuclear subs that were submerged at the time.

      Made for an interesting story (that I only caught one episode/chapter of :( ).

      PS, ah, both the comment above and Google found it! :) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Beach_(novel)

      (Edit) Though I'd assume in reality radiation would not be the risk (chernobyl city outside the facility is quiet "livable" in comparison) , but nuclear winter and food/society collapsing in the aftermath. So not as grim as the book would make out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We've already had a nuclear war.

        "I never found the name of the books/radio show. [...]"

        Your description fits "On the Beach" exactly. Available as a book (1957) - also film (1959) on DVD and BlueRay. Also a TV adaptation (2000).

      2. thecornflake

        Re: We've already had a nuclear war.

        On the book subject there's also Down to a sunless sea following a passenger jet that's in the air when nuclear war breaks out. Be careful of reading spoilers of the ending online if you look it up though :)

    3. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: We've already had a nuclear war.

      Nah, the trick is to be far enough away from ground zero that you don't get smote but near enough that you still get superpowers*

      * I would offer credit except I can't remember who originally made that joke.

  8. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Public sector?

    "They struggle to get sufficient numbers of specialised cyber experts to help – instead relying on hordes of lobbyists, pseudo-experts and opportunists"

    The problem is that what they need are cyber-experts, who may or may not exist, but they're only allowed to offer them peanuts. What they're actually allowed to get are a bunch of useless merchant bankers from PwC etc who will wander in, look around, tell you water is wet, and today is Tuesday (approx), sell you some inappropriate software that they just happen to make, and give you a bill for a couple of million squids. But that's worth it, because they're consultants

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Public sector?

      Replying to myself - there's a lovely story that we all might appreciate.

      My local council were suckered into the consultant trap. Massive cuts to funding and they needed to save money, and got in PwC to make some suggestions. Bill of £2 million to start with, plus a slice of the savings. Of course the staff and public could have come up with the same ideas, but these were better ideas because they came from consultants.

      The best bit...if they made a suggestion for something, and the council decided not to use it (perhaps it was politically unacceptable? like putting dead people in with the food-waste recycling to save on cremation fees sort of thing, or at least hiking parking fees in towns so no one goes there and all the shops go bust) then PwC still get paid their share of the projected savings anyway!

      Champers all round in the PwC boardroom.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Public sector?

        Best poster I can remember seeing in an office:

        "Consulting - if you're not part of the solution, there's money to be made prolonging the problem..."

        1. John Mangan

          Re: Public sector?

          It reminds me of a post-grad 'Into Business' course I attended where we had a Management Consultant providing part of the experience. Someone asked the obvious question, "So, if you go into a business where a project is running over budget and over time, how do you know you can fix it?". Without a pause the guy replied that somewhere in the organisation there will be a person who understand the issues and knows the solution but (s)he's only paid £x,000/annum. You find him/her and write up the solutions and because you are being paid 10(0)*£x,000/annum the big-wigs will listen to you.

          At the time, as a callow youth, I was flabbergasted by the cynicism and effrontery of it. I've learned my lesson in the intervening years.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Public sector?

            People value what they've paid for. People value even more what they've paid even more for.

            1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

              Re: Public sector?

              "People value what they've paid for. People value even more what they've paid even more for."

              George Smiley: Ever bought a fake picture, Toby?

              Toby Esterhase: I sold a couple once.

              George Smiley: The more you pay for it, the less inclined you are to doubt its authenticity.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Public sector?

            where we had a Management Consultant providing part of the experience

            Sounds a bit like the "wealth creating seminar" we got conned into attending once. Some bloke in a (pretty ratty) suit telling us how to make millions.

            The obvious question occurred to me during the Q&A that followed - "if your scheme is as good as you say, how come you are not sunning yourself in the Caribbean rather than driving a crap old car to a cheap hotel conference suite and trying to flog expensive books and courses to credulous punters?"

            We left very soon after the question.

        2. DocJames

          Re: Public sector?

          Best poster I can remember seeing in an office:

          "Consulting - if you're not part of the solution, there's money to be made prolonging the problem..."

          Try www.despair.com

          We put them up all around the junior doctors room in one job...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Public sector?

        My local council were suckered into the consultant trap. Massive cuts to funding and they needed to save money, and got in PwC to make some suggestions. Bill of £2 million to start with, plus a slice of the savings. Of course the staff and public could have come up with the same ideas, but these were better ideas because they came from consultants.[..]

        Champers all round in the PwC boardroom.

        That's small potatoes compared to the National ID scam scheme. That started with consultants sitting so long on their hands that some with residual level of ethics asked to be taken off the project. Naturally that didn't stop them billing for the full complement of staff during that period..

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I dont trust computers

    I work with them, and the people that work on them, and the strange people that think they know what they should be doing and the chasm's in their thinking.

    Yes, I don't trust computers.

    1. cklammer

      Re: I dont trust computers

      .. and yet you read Alistair Dabbs El Reg - curious and curiouser :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I dont trust computers

        ".. and yet you read Alistair Dabbs El Reg"

        Whose articles are often illustrations of why we shouldn't be too trusting of humans and IT combined.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: I dont trust computers

        .. and yet you read Alistair Dabbs El Reg - curious and curiouser :-)

        It's not for the computer aspects, honest. It's more for the concentrated loathing of computers and business that exudes from his every word :-)

    2. picturethis
      Alert

      Re: I dont trust computers

      "Yes, I don't trust computers."

      I trust computers (except possibly ones running with the Pentium floating-point bug), it's the humans (for now) that write the software that I don't trust to write code that meets the intent.

      Computers do what they've been programmed to do (for the most part), not what the programmer intended them to do.

      This will change in the future as the adoption rate of AI increases.

      re: the future of AI - what concerns me the most is that researchers claim that the goal of AI is to mimic a human brain - Why anyone would want to mimic something that is not reasonable, completely unpredicatable, selfish and has 100,000 years of self-preservation at-all-costs survival instinct evolved into it is beyond me. Seems to be a catastophe in the making.

  10. Your alien overlord - fear me

    The trouble is IT security expects have the reputation of fast cars, wild parties and fast, wild women.

    This attracts the wrong sort into the industry so perhaps we should promote IT security people as dulllards with no social skills/life?

    1. Franco Silver badge

      "The trouble is IT security expects have the reputation of fast cars, wild parties and fast, wild women."

      I must be going to the wrong parties, as the nearest any IT Security bod I know gets to this is playing Grand Theft Auto.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      The trouble is IT security expects have the reputation of fast cars, wild parties and fast, wild women.

      Whose fault is that?

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      so perhaps we should promote IT security people as dulllards with no social skills/life?

      You rang m'lud?

      (And anyway - anyone that's really, reaaly good at IT Ops stuff will very rarely get promoted - it's the flashy PM's and Marketing droids that get the available spaces while the IT people get the "you are too valuable doing your current job spiel". Which is why I've changed companies a number of times..

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Flame

        Until yesterday I've been driving round in a 15 year old VW Golf. It was a bit ratty, but perfectly reliable and you wouldn't believe the amount of stuff you could cram into it with the rear seats down.

        Unfortunately there was nothing wrong with the car, but there seems to be something wrong with other peoples' opinion of you if you drive a ratter - since no self-respecting poor person would be seen dead in anything less than a £30k BMW or something.

        Finally, at the wife's behest, I finally allowed myself to be shamed into buying a new (second hand) car that's only 10 years old (but it is a £30k BMW :) ) Now people look at me and hate me rather than despise me - people are such twats - nice car though :)

        Can anyone explain to me why I have to drive round in a valuable, highly depreciating, asset to prove that I'm not poor? (Even though the previous owners all apparently lived on council estates where google maps shows every other car is very flashy, if not brand new).

        I sometimes earn more in a year than these peoples' houses are worth (well, not quite, but almost) and no-one seems to own their cars either - but the perception is *everything* apparently.

        Personally, I would much rather send my kids to a decent school, live in a nice house in a nice neighbourhood and yes, drive round in a shitty looking reliable-as-fuck 15 year old VW Golf - but that makes me poor in other peoples' eyes somehow - people are idiots.

        This is why I am more in demand than ever at work, even though I keep hiking my rates - it's all about perception - and the fact that most people are seriously fucking stupid.

        Not even techies are immune. I once put forward the idea that two loaves of bread that were baked at the same place, using the same ingredients, but were then sold under different brands - one at the Co-op (50p), the other at Waitrose (£1.50) - and guess which one they said they would choose? (Bearing in mind I've already told them that they are exactly the same) - out of 10 people I asked, every single one of them said they'd buy the Waitrose one.

        I no longer think I'm an alien on this planet - I think everyone else is :)

        1. Public Citizen
          Childcatcher

          Or - You could have spent the money you paid for the BMW on something ~even older~ than the Golf but that was a "flash car" in its day and be thought of as *eccentric*.

          Meanwhile, instead of depreciating every time the page turns on the calendar your Classic just gets mellower and will eventually put your kids through that school you have in mind.

          If you work it right you can be thought of as the John Steed [60s spy spoof reference] of the IT Department.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            I did consider that, but most of the cars I was thinking of really need to be looked after (garagaed etc) and I'm having work done on the house etc so the garage is a workshop for at least the next year, I don'y want to ruin a classic!

        2. Kiwi Silver badge
          Boffin

          but that makes me poor in other peoples' eyes somehow

          Don't worry, a few replacements of the drivers door handle, various bits of display electronics, automatic wipers, split water lines (and perhaps an engine or two when they quickly cook because the radiator that was full a moment ago is now drained due to the sudden and very catastrophic bottom hose failure) and various other bits of crap-idea-built-from-utterly-shit-materials and you'll be plenty poor in your own eyes.

          I suggest you try to bill your wife for every one of those repairs. Or maybe more deserving, divorce her. And as the ultimate punishment, let her have the car as well - that'll teach her!

          (don't know why people still shell out any money for those things, bmw are absolute shit, poor design and even poorer components - and I've done enough work on them to know (up till I told my friend he was barred from calling till he got rid of the car)

  11. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Mushroom

    We will all go together when we go

    As Tom Lehrer said so eloquently

    1. EddieD

      Re: We will all go together when we go

      You can never quote the good doctor enough...have an upvote.

      As an aside, it is rumoured that Tom invented the vodka jello shot during his stint at Los Alamos - no liquids were allowed in the computer/machine room, so he made up jelly* with vodka so that he could have a wee dram when working.

      *Sorry, I'm British. I can only say jello a very limited number of times...

  12. Paul Westerman
    Mushroom

    I want Forbin

    We need to build Colossus and Guardian ASAP

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: I want Forbin

      And throw in a whopper or two.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: I want Forbin

      IoT with nukes? Sure, what could possibly go wrong?

  13. CJN1946

    When I worked many years ago for the government our computers weren't connected to Joe public's internet but had a private one of their own. Much safer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Much safer."

      IIRC the threat from a disaffected insider is greater than an external agent. They would have have a motive, knowledge, and opportunity.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        IIRC the threat from a disaffected insider is greater than an external agent.

        Not entirely true - especially nowadays with the "everything connected to everything else" world. The threats are equivalent, but different in emphasis.

        Which is why IT security *should* follow the mantra of KISS[1], minimum security rights consistent with function, defense in depth and paranoia[2].

        [1] No - not the generic rock band. And no, my 'mom' doesn't know who Gene Simmonds is (as per the current Radio 2 promo) - for her, music stopped in (roughly) 1950.

        [2] Not necessarily in that order. Paranoia is the highest calling of the IT Security professional. Along with "Trust no-one[3]"

        [3] And yes, that includes the cats. Especially the evil black cat and the wannabe evil calico one.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Trouble comes when IT gets overruled by the executives.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            "Trouble comes when IT gets overruled by the executives."

            Whilst true, there is a counter-measure.

            If you are consistent and can always back up your position with well thought out arguments (nothing emotive, but passion is allowed) you can spend a few years building up a reputation of being a no-nonsense troubleshooter who does the right thing, even when it isn't popular.

            Then, when you've pulled their nuts out of the fire enough times for you name to be familiar to people at C-Level you get to throw your toys out of the pram on occasion and sometimes you are listened to :) Having said that, you also have to be prepared to leave* and take your 'legendary arse saving' reputation to another firm before they wake up and realise you are serious.

            *You don't get to do this often, so you have to pick your battles, and you'd better bloody well be right!

            Manage this incredibly arcane ritual properly and you stand a chance of auto-correcting one, perhaps two, major potential fuck-ups in your career. No one will give a shit, only you and a few others will ever know, but your reputation will gain depth and that, my friend, is a bankable commodity these days.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Better hope they don't have Executive Reality Distortion Field, though. Get their arses out of the fire, they'll just take the credit for it, shush you, and note they have scare stories ready should you try to jump ship.

        2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          "Paranoia is the highest calling of the IT Security professional."

          Have an upvote - it's the first thing I teach the newbies - 'you can't be too paranoid'.

  14. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Nuclear war and thrash metal

    I spent my adolescence of 1980's listening the cream of thrash metal bands telling me the end was coming and to get ready, when Gorbachev walked out in Reykjavik all the metalheads were ready, ha ha! Graphic depictions of the end of humankind and planet Earth, rich tapestry of mayhem and destruction and we couldn't get enough of it. The glorious tones of Nuclear Assault, ToxiK, Anthrax, Testament, Megadeth, Destruction, Sodom and Exodus. ( Real thrash and death fans don't include Metallica post 1987! )

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. Kiwi Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Nuclear war and thrash metal

      The glorious tones of Nuclear Assault, ToxiK, Anthrax, Testament, Megadeth, Destruction, Sodom and Exodus

      Oh, I got moderated for saying something bad about Metallica. I think.. Oh well, thanks for the headsup about ToxiK and Sodom - I'd not previously come across them.

  15. Potemkine Silver badge

    You Sir sounds like a left leaning anarchist!

    Bravo! ^^

    This article reminds me of an old movie, Colossus: The Forbin Project

  16. gypsythief

    Origami X-wings!

    I made one!

    http://i.imgur.com/9cNSIEg.jpg

  17. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Ultimate nuclear defense system

    Sell lot's of expensive, exclusive housing and property to your nuclear armed potential enemies.

    London seems to be doing quite well. Not only a cheap defence, but profitable too!

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Ultimate nuclear defense system

      Omit the "nuclear" - long ago, Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem about it. In effect "What are you doing - that's your property you're trying to invade with my army that you haven't yet paid for!"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ultimate nuclear defense system

        "Since it's OUR property, we're not invading, and once we take your over, it'll be OUR army, too. So win win for us. CHARGE!"

  18. WibbleMe

    Hello I am a security expert, I recommend a big analogue cog that needs to be turned... you could say things have gone full circle! ha

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
    Coat

    Mutually Assured Destruction sounds like a good option.

    Mine is the one with the inflatable self-sustainable space station in the pocketses

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heaven when I die? Not bloody likely...

    God doesn't want me & Satan's got a Restraining Order.

    Besides, there's a reason why there's only a stairway to one but an entire highway to the other and I can't drive 55.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Heaven when I die? Not bloody likely...

      I hear DC's Lobo can't really die for precisely the reasons you state. He trashed BOTH Heaven AND Hell and NEITHER want him back. I also strongly suspect any alternative afterlives have been briefed on him as well.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Heaven when I die? Not bloody likely...

        " He trashed BOTH Heaven AND Hell and NEITHER want him back."

        Sounds a perfect candidate for Valhalla.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Heaven when I die? Not bloody likely...

          I don't think so. Vikings may be boisterous and love a good fight, but they've got nothing on Lobo. Remember, HELL doesn't want him back.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Heaven when I die? Not bloody likely...

            Who the fuck cares? Both Lobo and Hell are nonexistant, developed to separate the drooling masses from their money.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Heaven when I die? Not bloody likely...

              Same can be said for Valhalla, or just about any other piece of fiction. Point is, some people can make demons look like saints. They're probably also not afraid of Hell.

  22. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Wasn't one of the concerns about Y2K that it might trigger a 'dead men's switch' system by interrupting power and/or communications for missile bases?

    Tom Lehrer - So Long, Mom (A Song for World War III)

    Anyway, as long as there isn't a mine shaft gap, I'm not too worried.

  23. UKHobo

    down votes

    This thread is seriously lacking in down votes. Everyone is congratulating everyone on saying the right thing about inevitable Armageddon. I feel it's my duty to comment something undeniably fabulous to bring balance to this madness:

    I'm an avid Trump supporter also a Kim Jong Un fan and I hang on T Mays' every word. Computers are all crap and there's no chance that any hack intentional or otherwise could bring about a nuclear event. The first of my illustrious world leaders to push multiple buttons will be carved into history for eternity..albeit a short one

    Down vote that. I thank you

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: down votes

      > I'm an avid Trump supporter also a Kim Jong Un fan ...

      Up-voted for consistency.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: down votes

      Bad troll. No cookie.

  24. Conundrum1885

    The thing which is going to kill us all

    Is 9.6 miles across, travelling at 47,308 km/h.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: The thing which is going to kill us all

      Shirley that's 9.6 miles across at 29,396 miles per hour?

      Or perhaps 15.45 kilometers across at 47,308 kilometers per hour?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The thing which is going to kill us all

      Your mum went skydiving again?

  25. Kiwi Silver badge
    Linux

    Bit late but..

    Bit late but here for the benefit of anyone who reads it..

    It's bad enough fighting off the neighbours without so-called friends at work taking advantage of your goodwill and knowhow.

    I've started a new policy of "I'll get on to it once my house/car/etc is clean" or "I need to get such&such completed before I can take on a job like that. If you want me to get it done faster you'll need to help me out".

    Even a "I was going to vacuum the house today. Tell ya what, you bring the PC round and I'll fix it while you vacuum". The one I tried that on complained about doing work for me for free and I said not to ring about computer problems again. They were shocked and said the thought I liked computers, to which I said "I like them when they work, I don't like fixing them. I effing hate fixing Windows problems!".

    So, want me to fix your computer? Sure. But expect to be tidying my house or cleaning my car or.. .while I work on it. Equal time, even though my work is often the more skilled.

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