back to article Using WhatsApp for your business comms? It's either that or reinstall Lotus Notes

As I make my way home after a busy day, I often enjoy a knee-trembler by the church wall. "Here we go again," I can imagine you mentally tutting, "Dabbsy's off on one of his string of oh-so-predictable double entendres in a cynical ploy to grab my attention at the beginning of his pointless weekly Reg column which I wouldn't …

  1. Alister Silver badge

    Ah, "Donal' wuar's yoor troosers", I feel better now.

    1. smudge Silver badge

      Always liked the Elvis P impersonation starting at 01:50.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        I'm not sure whether to be pleased or worried that as soon as I saw the word "Troos" in the article, that particular song began playing in the back of my mind before I'd even got to the bottom of the article and the YouTube vid (which of course had to get a play).

  2. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Megaphone

    "Most memorable of all was the way it sang out "der-der-der DER-der!" from each PC's internal speaker for every arriving email all over the open-plan office of 150 staff, and absolutely nobody knew how to shut the fucker up."

    Didn't the speakers have a volume dial on them? Inquiring minds want to know.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      "Internal speaker" so no, the program could drive it directly, without any way of controlling it

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        RE: Alister

        Thanks for the clarification. Seems like a design oversight.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: RE: Alister

          Back in the days before soundcards and external speakers were a thing (which is when LotusNotes was written), the only way for programs to make a noise was to utilise the internal speaker which was fitted to most IBM PCs (and clones) originally for BIOS beep codes and other notifications.

          The only way to drive this speaker was to poke a certain memory location, which caused the speaker to click. If you wrote code to do lots of clicks in a row, you would produce a sound at a certain frequency, and with lots and lots of differently timed loops it was possible to make sound effects and (sort of) music.

          However, to the best of my knowledge, it wasn't possible to alter the attenuation or volume, what you got was what the speaker was capable of.

          When Windows came along, it had the ability to alter the volume of the speaker, but programs that used the direct approach to drive the speaker bypassed the Windows media controls, so even muting the speaker in Windows wouldn't stop the sounds.

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: RE: Alister

            but programs that used the direct approach to drive the speaker bypassed the Windows media controls

            Some speaker drivers for Windows 3 hadn't heard of multi-tasking, so if you set the Windows 'OK', 'Alert' and other sounds to be an audio clip of James Brown singing a refrain of 'I feel good' you could freeze the PC for 16 seconds almost every time the poor soon-to-be-demented user clicked a mouse button. Or so I'm told.

          2. AndrueC Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: RE: Alister

            And even more primitive was the Sinclair Spectrum. It didn't even have a proper speaker, just one of those piezoelectric thingies. But one clever bugger came up with this.

            All that just by flipping bit 0 of port 254.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: RE: Alister

              "And even more primitive was the Sinclair Spectrum."

              And even that was preceded by the same technique on the TRS-80 model I. There were even games with (a very small amount of) speech output. Ah, found the one I was thinking of on Youtube, Robot Attack from Big 5 Software.

              Early users had to do stuff with the cassette play to get the sound out, later people discovered you ust had to plug an amp/speaker into the cass out socket. Even earlier sound was done with timing loops in the CPU and de-tuning a MW/AM radio near the computer. And obviously other people did clever things with the very first valve computers too.

              1. Dabooka Silver badge

                Re: RE: Alister

                I had that on the Dragon 32 although I always thought it was branded as Android Attack (in my defence I was about 7). I do recall the flash on the box claiming 'Real Digital Speech!' and my favourite 'Written in 100% machine code!'

                'We'll get you next time' wa occasionally spoken when you clocked a level and escaped.

          3. Nick Kew Silver badge

            Re: RE: Alister

            Back in the days before soundcards and external speakers were a thing

            Ah yes. The PC establishing its credentials as a serious machine for business by not supporting sound beyond basic beeps, and by implication not being a games machine.

            Ironic that it then became the main games machine, and that you needed an additional sound card. Though even before the soundcard, a game could have a memorable (if ugly) soundtrack: anyone else remember Leisure Suit Larry?

            1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

              Re: RE: Alister

              Ummmm yes.

            2. Nick Kew Silver badge

              Re: RE: Alister

              Gah. Must correct myself.

              Larry's soundtrack was just a melodic beep, but bearing in mind that limitation, it was probably as great a soundtrack as any game has ever had. And entirely appropriate to the character of the game.

              Much more memorable than the green-on-black (as I saw it) graphics.

        2. VeganVegan
          Facepalm

          Re: RE: Alister

          Lotus Notes as a whole was a design oversight.

          1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

            Re: RE: Alister

            That is, by a considerable distance, the politest description of Lotus Notes I have ever encountered.

            1. macjules Silver badge

              Re: RE: Alister

              Me too. I once had to build a website from a Lotus Notes database. To me it was like trying to nail jelly onto a wall, although not as much fun.

      2. Spacedinvader
        WTF?

        Unplug it?

        I can't be the only one to unplug the little internal speaker...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Unplug it?

          Yes, never even connected the internal speaker in my own builds, the loud bios beep was annoying enough. Unplugged some at work.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "without any way of controlling it"

        A pair of wire cutters suffices. A former colleague was said to carry a pair in her handbag but this was supposed to be to deal with pub sound systems.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Or a screwdriver inserted between the grilles to mute the noisy fucker forever!

        2. Dave K Silver badge

          Wire cutters are my preferred option. I "upgraded" our microwave oven with a pair of wire cutters a few years ago. The thing used to give 5 loud, shrill "BEEP"s when it had finished cooking, followed by a further 5 BEEPs every f**king minute that you didn't drop what you were doing and attend to it. And there was no "official" way of turning the beeping off. Obviously it was designed by a team who catered to people with extreme Alzheimers, and who hadn't read the section in the manual that recommends "letting food rest" for a few minutes after cooking...

          Anyway, when you're defrosting some chicken for a curry, having to keep wandering over to it with onion-coated fingers just to open the door and slam it shut again to shut the f**ker up, you eventually lose the final shreds of your patience and attack the internal beeper with a set of wire cutters.

          The result is bliss, and made me wonder why I didn't do it sooner. It cooks, it stops when the timer is up, and it just sits there silently until I'M ready to attend to it. Wonderful!

          1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

            The excellent work of Chinese user interface designers, if I'm not mistaken.

            The companies who make microwave ovens *used* to take pride in a well designed user interface. Now, we're lucky if it's even understandable. Outsourceing at its finest!

            1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

              Microwave UI

              "The companies who make microwave ovens *used* to take pride in a well designed user interface."

              The three button design? Stop, open door and nuke for 30 secs or 1 minute.

              No need for any of that other guff :D

            2. Rol Silver badge

              Kill 'em all.

              My digital kitchen scales are currently working as designed - supporting several tonnes of accumulating waste in a local landfill.

              And why you may ask? Well it ran on, ever so conveniently on hand, watch batteries - that is when wrist watches were a thing, but that wasn't the major stumbling block, oh no. The designers included the ever useful feature of a digital clock, which ensured the battery was dead on the rare occasions I needed to be precise about cobbling ingredients together.

              The design team have all since died horrendous deaths, but keeping this world sane is getting a little bothersome, what with all the international travel, and banning weapons on flights, which means I have to buy new equipment when I get there. I asked Mark Thatcher if he could help with the logistics, but without his mum's influence to get him off any potential jail time he was reluctant to get involved. He did wish me well and advised me not to get too complacent when operating in an impoverished nation with seemingly inadequate security infrastructure. I replied that I'd probably just stick to claw hammers and flat head screwdrivers, which he agreed to being a good choice for small jobs, but not so if I intended to overthrow the government. "One megalomaniac designer at a time" I chuckled, and we parted ways.

          2. Tomato Krill

            You know I honestly don't know why I hadn't already done just this but as soon as this coffee has been shown who's boss I have a date with my dishwasher that has exactly the same attention deficit issues...

          3. Bill Gray

            Re: loud, shrill "BEEP"s

            As a lad in the early 80s, we had a microwave with that exact way of notifying you when it was done. My teenage ears were much more sensitive than they are today, and I did a bit of disassembly and snipping to quiet the monster.

            I now have a microwave with a similar feature, but my hearing has got to the point where the shrill BEEPs don't bother me as much. But I've no idea why a less piercing tone, somewhere around middle C, could not be used... surely, someone has done a careful study to determine the optimal alert tone frequency, and I have every confidence it is a few octaves below both the '80s microwave and my current microwave.

        3. Nick Kew Silver badge
          Angel

          A pair of wire cutters suffices. A former colleague was said to carry a pair in her handbag but this was supposed to be to deal with pub sound systems.

          I think I'm in love!

        4. 2+2=5 Silver badge

          > A pair of wire cutters suffices.

          That brings back memories of school friends cutting the speaker on one of these Casio calculators so you could play 'Invaders' at the back of the class without being (so easily) detected.

          And on a related note, years ago I once rang the manufacturer of the Concurrent CP/M machines that we were using to ask which IO port the 'beeper' was mapped to. I was passed through to a gentleman who rather snootily informed me that the Audible Warning Device was mapped to port whatever. :-)

      4. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        The internal speaker was driven from a single binary output - it was either fed with a voltage between its terminals or it was not. Beeps and tones were created by rapidly toggling that voltage on & off at a suitable frequency *in software* (via a timer interrupt if the programmer wanted to be sophisticated). Thus no way of adjusting volume (until the CPU became fast enough to feed a supersonic PWM waveform, at which point it could produce full sounds rather than just beeps).

    2. JQW

      I remember being on site at a customer site some years ago, running some obscure DOS E-mail app which issued similar beeps which were difficult to disable.

      This particular installation divided users up into many small groups of about 4 to 6 users, each group bearing the name or number of the cubicle the users were sat in. Every time a global E-mail went out it propagated around the office in alphabetical order by user group name - which meant a 10 second wave of beeps spreading linearly around the building from one end to the other.

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        @JQW - "propagated around the office in alphabetical order by user group name - which meant a 10 second wave of beeps spreading linearly around the building from one end to the other."

        I have to wonder - was the naming scheme chosen BECAUSE the BOFH realised this would happen?

    3. Alistair Dabbs

      PC internal speaker

      This was 1992, remember. Some of us also worked on Macs (QuarkXPress was Mac-only at the time) and we used ResEdit to change the Lotus Notes notification sound to explosions, Terminator movie audio clips, etc.

  3. Alex Walsh

    We are family

    We have an extended family Slack group, with various sub groups for parents/adults and kids. All school related emails go to a specific email account which distributes them over Slack on a keyword basis and we have a shared Google calendar that pings updates to everyone. It works for us better than bits of paper or conversations that switch between text/twitter dm/Facebook Messenger/Whatsapp depending on who's involved.

    Would that we did something similar at work- I even get emailed a spreadsheet of dates my for diary, rather than actual calendar invites.

    1. Andy A
      WTF?

      Re: We are family

      Could be worse. At one place I worked you got a JPG of the text as an attachment, meaning the email took roughly 20 times the capacity it needed to.

  4. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

    Troos?

    I thought it was "trews".

    1. Doctor_Wibble
      Trollface

      Re: Troos?

      Subject to correction by someone who can be bothered to STFW, 'trews' is an olde englyshe word verily spaketh by Bill of Shaking Spears, 'troos' is the one true scots word which has stood the test of time (possibly feet heroically well apart with a roar) quite obviously being short for 'pantaloons', as any fule kno.

      1. dak

        Re: Troos?

        Naw, it's definitely trews, as in "tartan trews", the traditional wedding outfit of those not brave enough to wear a kilt.

        1. Bonzo_red

          Re: Troos?

          As favoured by a certain Alex (cough, cough) Salmond, when First Minister

    2. Franco Silver badge

      Re: Troos?

      I've never seen it spelt troos, only as trews. It's pretty rare to see anyone wearing them either in my experience, other than my graduation ball at University (an affectation of some students for various reasons) and the traditional attire of Doddie Weir when appearing at Murrayfield at this time of year I don't think I've ever seen any outside of the window of kilt shops.

    3. Alfie
      Headmaster

      Re: Troos?

      Perhaps Mr Dabbs needs a dictionary? http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/trews

  5. tip pc Bronze badge

    Is Alister paid per word?

    I remembered why I don’t bother reading this now.

    1. cosymart
      Big Brother

      Re: Is Alister paid per word?

      Perhaps he's related to the late Ronnie Corbett? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4sSS_QuZHM

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Is Alister paid per word?

      "I remembered why I don’t bother reading this now."

      Memory getting a little shaky these days? Otherwise why would you have read it today?

    3. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: tip pc

      You realise you don't have to read it right? I'm sure Alister isn't holding a gun to your head and forcing you - Otherwise your complaint/comment wouldn't exist.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is Alister paid per word?

      I'm afraid it was, in my opinion, a bit of a sub-standard column this week. I usually do really enjoy Alistair's articles, but this was more on a level of some of the more mediocre Grauniad columnists, or perhaps even the homemade photocopied newsletter of "Street Furniture Admirers Monthly", or maybe it was just quickly cobbled together on the train... :-(

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is Alister paid per word?

        We all look forward to your riveting contributions! I'm sure Vulture Central can spare a couple extra KB for another witty column - perhaps on the back of Orlowski's page, you might leave a mark there.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Is Alister paid per word?

        Street Furniture Admirers Monthly"

        I wonder if that will make a guest appearance on HIGNFY any time soon?

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Is Alister paid per word?

          Ah, that reminded me of one of the sillier Dilbert cartoons.

    5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Potemkine! Silver badge

    No choice

    Our customers want to exchange with our Sales force using Whatsapp, Instagram, Skype, Tinder... hmm no, not Tinder.

    Of course neither the customers nor the sales force give a fuck about security or confidentiality, all of these being annoyances caused by these bloody IT guys who can't stop making work and life hard to their fellow coworkers... The only thing we could do was specifically saying (more precisely writing, knowing the value of words for salesmen and saleswomen) that we warned them, and we couldn't be held for responsible in case of data theft. I would be surprised if our situation was an exception.

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: No choice

      But on the plus side, think how much more secure it'll all be once FB messenger, WhatsApp and whatever the other one was all merge into one master communications package run by Facebook...

      ....no...sorry...I cannot keep a straight face!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No choice

      Of course neither the customers nor the sales force give a fuck about security or confidentiality

      True, but unlike the customers, a business can get into legal trouble for using unsafe methods of communication that hand off data to third parties without the customer's permission.

      This is why I seriously question the use of "developers can access all your email" Gmail for any European business, and forcing customers to use Twitter/Facebook to talk to you is also an idea that ought to result in massive fines - why should a customer have to sign up to this just to talk to you?

      We support messaging, and two of these are totally free: Telegram and Signal. However, the use WhatsApp for business is a sackable offence in our company, irrespective if it's on company or personal devices as we take client privacy very seriously - even if the client does not.

      1. jmch Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: No choice

        "the use WhatsApp for business is a sackable offence in our company, irrespective if it's on company or personal devices"

        Use of WhatsApp on personal devices at work DOES have a use... No client data of course but its good to have an informal channel that coworkers can use to fire some ideas around. That it's not under company control and undocumented is exactly the point - some important things that need to be said might never get said if everything is documented. It allows the watercooler and the 'quiet word' to be extended from the physical office to the virtual.

        Plus of course it would be a prime channel to bitch about management

        1. Potemkine! Silver badge

          Verba volant, scripta manent.

          Plus of course it would be a prime channel to bitch about management

          Never let written evidences when you're bitching.

          I learned that lesson the hard way when I was 7 and decided to insult my older sister... I never repeated the mistake.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No choice

        "developers can access all your email" Gmail

        If I remember correctly, there are many US government organizations which use Gmail for work. I seriously doubt they are doing this without having done some audit, or that Google would have passed that audit if they just let developers access your emails.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No choice

          Re: GMail. Unfortunately, many/most Americans don't "get" privacy, or why laws like the GDPR are important (clue: if you take the "P" out of GDPR, what are you left with? The GDR and StaSi, etc), so, sadly I can easily see many US businesses "entrusting" their email to GRUgle without a second thought. (Notwithstanding that very rarely is email a secure and encrypted means of communication in any case.)

      3. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: No choice

        It does raise the question for dealing with confidential customer data where you personally have signed an NDA (as opposed to a blanket NDA between your and their companies).

        As any email you receive containing such information or possibly with it attached can be read by your company IT admins etc should it take their fancy, presumably even using company-provided communications means would/should be forbidden?

      4. Dave559 Bronze badge

        Re: No choice

        Good to hear that there is at least one business using Signal, although everything I have read about Telegram seems to suggest that their homebrewed encryption technique could perhaps be a bit sketchy, unfortunately.

        Perhaps also worthy of consideration is Threema (which doesn't seem to get enough publicity), based in Switzerland, and which also has an app specific for business communications.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No choice

          Good to hear that there is at least one business using Signal, although everything I have read about Telegram seems to suggest that their homebrewed encryption technique could perhaps be a bit sketchy, unfortunately.

          The prime argument is more to encourage clients to use anything-but-WhatsApp, because that's the only app that doesn't use hashes to match people in your address book, but explicitly copies the whole thing. Given what we know about privacy, that is an absolute no-no.

          As for Threema, we were using that well before it became popular because the CEO has known its main author for years. We use Threema exclusively for internal company communication (it's mandatory). We also tend to recommend it companies due to a variety of very good arguments, GDPR compliance is but one.

          So yes, Threema gets a big thumbs up from us.

      5. BlueTemplar

        Re: No choice

        Signal is the least bad of the bunch, but still suffers from the lack of interoperability (aka "federation").

        (Also, using your own servers - required if you want the best security - might be poorly supported ?)

        The XMPP (aka Jabber) protocol is the way to go (using OMEMO for end-to-end encryption).

        Notable programs supporting it are Pidgin (desktop),

        Jitsi (with the additional feature of cross Windows-*nix video calls),

        Conversations (Android, free on F-Droid)

        and ChatSecure (IOS).

      6. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: No choice

        This is why I seriously question the use of "developers can access all your email" Gmail for any European business,

        Email is not a secure way to transmit confidential information anyway, whatever the provider. An email is a message thrown in a transparent bottle that anyone on its journey can read.

        Don't ever use email to share sensitive info unless they are in an encrypted attachment.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No choice

          Email is not a secure way to transmit confidential information anyway, whatever the provider. An email is a message thrown in a transparent bottle that anyone on its journey can read.

          Don't ever use email to share sensitive info unless they are in an encrypted attachment.

          That depends on how you set it up and how well you are in control of the end points. For instance, if that wasn't done well, UK's Criminal Justice email system that MoJ is running would otherwise be pointless.

          As for the "my messages are safe because I encrypt them" argument that PGP users put forward, that protects only your content. There's more that you give away when you communicate, something that Gordon Welchman used to great effect during WW II.

  7. chivo243 Silver badge
    WTF?

    Skype - Kill it with Fire! Now!

    Spent most of the week hearing about how Skpye doesn't work well.... and YOU need to fix it! Like I have control over how skype works?!! Like Satan Nads would listen if I called and said it's broken, fix it?

    After the dust settled, me an a colleague exchanged the "You get what you pay for" look and both said it's free! What do you expect??

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Skype - Kill it with Fire! Now!

      Well, Skype IS fixed.

      It's called Wire :)

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: Skype - Kill it with Fire! Now!

        +1

        Looks great, unfortunately, not everybody our organization is talking to, is in our organization. Skype gets used for lots of interviews, and then we look as stupid as skype...

  8. chivo243 Silver badge
    Trollface

    "der-der-der DER-der!"

    That's where Nibbler parked his car!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the work-provided messaging system is crap, obstructed by metaphorical marching bands or, much more typically, utterly non-existent, it stands to reason that employees will make do with alternative routes when left – quite literally – to their own devices.

    My place of employment expects employees to use Skype for Business, which is monumentally horrific to use, battery slurping, and getting no attention from Microsoft because they want to push businesses onto the next shiny (Teams, which can't even do half of what Skype for Business fails at doing). Also it has the unhappy habit of dying silently in the background after a couple of hours making completely useless anyway. There has been no official pronouncement over the suitability WhatsApp yet, probably because everyone knows this Skype for Business is shit.

    You'd at least think they could nudge people towards Signal instead of WhatsApp, but this is a corporation which gives everyone laptops but hasn't yet got its head round Bitlocker and has no network backup, it's all on the hard drive.

    So presumably Skype for Business is so bad because Microsoft's customers (the businesses) complain so little to them and they know they can get away with it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A Crazy Situation

      My Boss is one of the nicest guys I have ever worked for - Despite being a self-made man and developing a business in an extremely competitive space, he is one of the few people working at this level who is not afraid to muck in and work at the 'coalface' and not be a jerk about it. And yes, I like the guy. :)

      His only fault lies on the admin side - it took over a year of moaning from the staff to bring in a dedicated ticketing system for customer support, and we are still fighting for a secure messaging system.

      The argument against it is - "We will use it to gossip" - despite all pointers to the opposite.

      We have to use public methods to communicate to this day. It is just inefficiently crazy!!

      Anon, as I don't want to draw attention to the company.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: A Crazy Situation

        The argument against it is - "We will use it to gossip" - despite all pointers to the opposite.

        It will get used that way. For a short while and eventually bosses can ask people to restrict their personal use of it once they've got the hang of using it. That's what happened in our company anyway. Now it barely gets used, at least in the relevant groups I have to be a member of. When we first started using it, it was pretty much seen as a private Facebook group by some employees, especially sales and marketing.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So presumably Skype for Business is so bad because Microsoft's customers (the businesses) complain so little to them and they know they can get away with it.

      That MO pretty much extends to their whole product line. The only time they didn't get away with it was with Windows 7, but they know as well as you do that businesses are staffed by heard animals lead by idiot decision makers that are easily swayed on the golf course.

      Nothing new, really, proudly screwing over customers since, well, almost forever.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Trollface

        Our place "upgraded" us from Lync to Skype for Business.

        Lasted about 3 weeks worth of bugs, non-functionality and general issues before that one got reverted...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          In one deployment project I was on, after the first couple of weeks the build script had "disable Lync" added to it. ;)

  10. Terry 6 Silver badge

    It's not about the staff

    Management are the responsible(?) people. And it's up to them to ensure that all the stuff gets done. Unfortunately, from what I've seen, once management gets hijacked by bean counters you might as well flush anything down the toilet that doesn't impact on the next financial report.* Stuff the future. They don't do future.

    *Data security, building maintenance and decor, IT systems, staff furniture other than the CEO's* etc etc

    And as I type this, I'm remembering, wasn't one of the BHS issues that sod all was done to keep the buildings looking fresh and in decent repair (or even watertight.)?

    Which has also just reminded me of the time the chief education officer kindly sent his recently discarded office chairs for us to use in our reception area.**

    **Which then reminded me of the time they sent us a totally useless computer network that was so unusable it had been discarded by its previous department

  11. lglethal Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Oh deary dear...

    "The figures swell to 53 per cent when surveying global frontline workers in the retail, hospitality and entertainment industries..."

    Not to be too hard on the poor dears, but is anyone in the frontline of retail, hospitality or entertainment likely to be handling anything confidential or sensitive?

    1. Seanmon

      Re: Oh deary dear...

      Like, ummm, credit cards?

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Oh deary dear...

        Yes, but thats not something a retail person would be typing into their phone now is it? We're talking about messaging confidential information, do try to keep up...

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Oh deary dear...

        "credit cards?"

        Let alone all sorts of other personal data if they're taking bookings. And we wonder how we got where we are.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh deary dear...

      Well certain people in the entertainment industry regularly handle items that are *very* sensitive. But generally you wouldn't put those into a phone.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Oh deary dear...

        I was going to make a joke about strippers and keeping it confidential, but well...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh deary dear...

      My parter works in hotels and use of WA is endemic (a combination of generally high staff turnover, no corporate phones and the expectation that Kids Today are permanently glued to their smartphones), and utterly full of highly confidential information. Heaven forfend anyone famous comes to stay because the chats are always full of stuff like "So And So is arriving on $date to start filming/singing/interviewing $media_thing, their PA has sent me this itinerary so you all know when things need to be ready for", and there's plenty of other highly personal snippets "Such And Such has put in some really weird requests for room service! I wonder if she's pregnant?", "ZOMG, Thingmabob in room 17 just asked the concierge if he knew of a good escort agency!".

      The overwhelming majority of the staff are trustworthy and wouldn't dream of divulging any of this outside of work but are oblivious (and not trained) to the ramifications of this information being proxied via a not-necessarily-neutral third party. When I raise an eyebrow at any of this, I'm told it's completely normal and I'm always making things to complicated by moaning about it.

      1. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: Oh deary dear...

        Is WhatsApp not end-to-end encrypted?

        We don't use it for work but I am interested to know how it is less secure than some other sanctioned messaging service?

        1. Brenda McViking
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Oh deary dear...

          It sure is. But most people back it up, unencrypted, to google drive when first told to so by a popup. So that Uncle Sam and the rest of the 5 eyes can have a nose through everything whenever they like.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oh deary dear...

          And do we really trust Facebook not to sniff the message text as you type it into WhatsApp, before encrypting the message for transmission? (Or am I really far too cynical?)

          I'm sure I also read somewhere about Facebook itself keylogging everything you type in Facebook as you type, before you actually post the comment (I think someone was investigating network traffic, and saw a lot of AJAXy stuff as they were typing?)?

        3. tony2heads

          Re: Oh deary dear...

          The main reasons we use WhatsApp for operational use is that it is encrypted and everyone had it on their phone anyway. There is a site-to-site ( secure?) video conferencing system, but takes 10 minutes to get it working.

        4. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Oh deary dear...

          Also in another thread someone it was said that it fails GDPR because all contact information is slurped, not just the numbers, and numbers aren't hashed before uploading. Other phone number-based chat apps allow you to disable the contact permission and manually add contacts, WhatsApp doesn't.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh deary dear...

        "... expectation that Kids Today are permanently glued to their smartphones"

        It's not an expectation, they really are glued to them.

        1. Martin
          Happy

          Re: Oh deary dear...

          "... expectation that Kids Today are permanently glued to their smartphones"

          It's not an expectation, they really are glued to them.

          Not just kids. My 21-year-old daughter regularly pulls me up for not paying attention because I've absent-mindedly started scrolling through my phone :)

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh deary dear...

        "The overwhelming majority of the staff are trustworthy..."

        Just FTR, why are you employing untrustworthy staff?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oh deary dear...

          Not me employing them, but the nature of hotel work in London at least means that even if you've got a loyal cadre of completely by-the-book permies, you'll still have a great deal of agency workers coming through your doors to cover for seasonal fluctuations, sickness cover, etc. As far as I'm aware these aren't vetted a great degree so the occasional bad apple is a statistical inevitability.

          As another poster mentioned, use of WhatsApp is universal for notifying people of their shifts as well as other day-to-day business and there's no exfiltration protection or endpoint security at all.

    4. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Oh deary dear...

      is anyone in the frontline of retail, hospitality or entertainment likely to be handling anything confidential or sensitive?

      I suppose that may depend on exactly which bit of the entertainment or "hospitality" industry we're looking at. The tabloids generally love it when something sensitive gets handled without sufficient attention to confidentiality.

    5. Stork Bronze badge

      Re: Oh deary dear...

      We rent out tourism accommodation, and I have had to add "please do not send card details by email" to our template.

      You would be surprised...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Confused

    Currently using a mix of Skype, Skype for Business, Teams and Slack.

    It's a mess. No one seems to want to force the issue and push everyone onto the same comms.

    Something will give eventually.

    1. MotorcyclesFish

      Re: Confused

      If you can accept the huge risk to data and productivity, that's almost sellable as a "user-led competition" method of discarding useless apps. Almost. It'd be interesting to know what's winning for the users, and what's winning for the sysadmins.

    2. Franco Silver badge

      Re: Confused

      Sadly a very common problem, IME usually it happens when companies merge and no one wants to upset anyone so rather than settling on one option they use multiple.

      Spent 2 years on a contract where half the country had Skype for Business for IM/presence/conference calls and the other half had Cisco Jabber, and all of the IT staff had both.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Confused

      Currently using a mix of Skype, Skype for Business, Teams and Slack.

      It's a mess. No one seems to want to force the issue and push everyone onto the same comms.

      Something will give eventually.

      You forgot Yammer - clearly you don't work for the same company that I do.

  13. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

    Team Lotus

    Last time I was forced to endure Lotus Notes (our company was borged by the big blue, it was foisted upon us), mid 2000s the user interface still looked like a piece of Windows 3.1 shareware, the kind of thing that would be on a cover floppy disk of an early 90s edition of Computer Shopper or Windows User magazine.

    I will say though, that I did like Lotus Symphony for the tabbed documents user interface - something I wish they would add to Libreoffice.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Team Lotus

      Hmmm that sounds familiar, wouldn't have been a three letter Pharmaceutical company would it.

      Legend had the decision to switch was made over by which executive won a round of golf, I can only presume it was crazy golf.

      Ohh the hilarity we had when shared machines in our plant area's suddenly ran out of space on the HDD's thanks to 30+ user profiles each with 60Mb+ Lotus Notes profiles resulting in a culling of the profiles on the affected machines.

  14. oiseau Silver badge
    WTF?

    A lot

    Hello:

    ... some 32 per cent of organisations were relying upon WhatsApp, SMS and (God forbid) Skype to communicate with colleagues, deliver commercially sensitive information ...

    Hmmm ...

    32% of anything is a lot.

    And if my math is right, 53% is almost 66% more than a lot.

    In this case, a lot of idiots.

    Have a good week-end.

    O.

  15. PhilipN Silver badge

    OMD

    Ta, Dabbsy. Good choice, since we can look on in amazement that McCluskey and Co actually looked like that in the same way we can look back aghast at having the monstrosity which was Notes foisted upon us.

    But Andy Stewart?? No, no, that was way below the belt. Now I shall be humming A Scottish Soldier all night. So - misery loves company :

    https://youtu.be/SCSB_BiNSZo

  16. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I know the staff at my local post offices have to use a Whatsapp group to find out which branch they are going to be working that day, I know this because when their was an outage on one of the mobile networks the local PO was closed one morning because the staff never receive the messages about which branch they would be working in that day.

    1. Tomato Krill

      Well then how would they have received any sort of notification even if using another messaging service?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You have post offices run by the GPO still?

      Shock, ALL of ours were shutdown and seemingly without any competitive tender farmed out to corner shops run by a certain ethnic group, result I no longer frequent several of them as the proprietors are rude, incompetent and refuse to stamp paperwork mandated by royal mail.

      Even better when my wife complained, the owner of least one gave her major attitude and looked at her like she was scum, all because she deigned to enter his shop in western attire rather than a niqab. Complained to Postoffice about it and the refusal to stamp the documentation when it clearly says "this must be stamped by post office counters in case of a claim being made"....result NOTHING was done, automated "we will respond to your complaint in 7 to 14 working days" since then DEAFENING silence, no surprise there, for all the racial equality stuff, one group seems to be a lot more equal than the rest of us.

  17. Herring` Silver badge

    Notes

    OK, I may be in a minority here, but aside from the horrible UI, Notes was pretty good for developing workflow apps. Also some nice security features. These days I sometimes come across a requirement for something that needs workflow/DMS/email/security etc. but there isn't anything else that quite fits the bill.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Notes

      There is nothing that can do what Notes can do. I am still working as a Notes developer and, from the Designer point of view, I am quite happy with the product.

      But I agree that the client interface really needs a facelift. Hopefully R10 will address that.

  18. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Happy

    ... an Airbus A380 coming in to land.

    Brilliant!!

    I do however often feel that an incoming Airbus would be more easily avoided than that shit load of students cycling three abreast along the narrow bicycle path on the wrong side of the road as I cycle to work in the morning. The poor dears apparently find it too much of an effort to make a detour of AT LEAST TEN WHOLE METRES (shock horror) to cycle to their lecture halls on the right side of the road so as not to inconvenience other people.

    </rant>

    1. ibmalone Silver badge

      Re: ... an Airbus A380 coming in to land.

      What city are you in? My pet theory is many students, particularly foreign ones, find themselves routinely cycling on British roads for the first time and simply don't understand the way cycle lanes work. Tourists and TFL bicycles are another good one for this, there's a particular cycle lane on my commute which has a normal car lane coming the other direction. It involves coming off a bridge and turning 180 degrees. You will then from time to time find yourself heading downhill into someone cycling uphill on the right hand side (for them) of the road, on the basis it's got a picture of a bicycle, so that's where they should be.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ... an Airbus A380 coming in to land.

        As it's an upside-down bicycle, perhaps you should oblige?

  19. Dave559 Bronze badge

    Left to their own devices

    You missed a trick with the song there: the Pet Shop Boys will be unhappy now!

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Left to their own devices

      They probably would.

  20. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    Ah, Lotus Notes. The cut-and-thrust of corporate managed databases, employee forums and sending email without having to use the command line. Most memorable of all was the way it sang out "der-der-der DER-der!" from each PC's internal speaker for every arriving email all over the open-plan office of 150 staff, and absolutely nobody knew how to shut the fucker up.

    I did at one time track down where Blotes kept it's notification audio files, and had suitably replaced it with a Monty Python & The Holy Grail WAV of "message for you sir!" Was especially helpful in a lab with multiple people running Notes (I would know which was mine). Later on Lotus seems to have switched Notes to using some obscure and otherwise unused codec for their WAV files, since you could no longer make it work with any other files.

  21. SgtFalstaff
    Stop

    Thank $DEITY for the T&C!

    Sales droids were using WhatsApp and wanted to push the whole company to start using it, thankfully I found this in the T&C:

    “Legal and Acceptable Use. You must access and use our Services only for legal, authorized, and acceptable purposes. You will not use (or assist others in using) our Services in ways that…involve any non-personal use of our Services unless otherwise authorized by us.”

    https://www.whatsapp.com/legal/#terms-of-service

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Delta Chat

    Following a suggestion in another Register thread, I installed Delta Chat from the F-droid store.

    Essentially, it's an easy to use front end to encrypted emails, using an interface similar to Whatsapp, so provides end to end encryption. Since it uses email addresses rather than phone numbers to identify contacts, it can also be used to communicate as a normal email app.

    Currently, usable beta versions are available for several platforms.

    Worth a look, you might be impressed.

    1. Chronos Silver badge

      Re: Delta Chat

      Impressive. However, I remain confused. Why are we buggering about with Google, Facebook, Slack and so on, with the attendant snoopage, when we have XMPP that can do all of those things? Even goOgle used it for a while, until it became clear that OTR enf-to-end was too easy and made snooping on people's chats nigh impossible.

      Offline messages: check.

      End to end encryption: check.

      Voice and video: check.

      SIP integration: check.

      Conference rooms: check.

      Virtual whiteboards: check.

      Easily done in-house with sod-all server overhead? Yup, check. Anything it doesn't do can be added with plug-ins that probably already exist Rule 34 style, hence eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol. Until SMTP is guaranteed to be encrypted for every hop, e-mail should be left well out of the loop for anything more important than Aunty Mabel's cat photos. Banks, I'm looking at you lot.

  23. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Another good reason not to own a smartphone

    My employer can't expect me to use my phone for business purposes if it can't run any apps. If they want me to use a smartphone they can bloody well buy me one and pay for the contract. And I can switch it off when I leave work!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Another good reason not to own a smartphone

      "My employer can't expect me to use my phone for business purposes if it can't run any apps. If they want me to use a smartphone they can bloody well buy me one and pay for the contract. And I can switch it off when I leave work!"

      Mine mandated a connection the the company Exchange server which forces certain security conditions, one of which is banning POP3/SMTP connections. So I told my boss to provide a company phone instead because that restriction was not acceptable on my personal phone. So he gave me a company phone. They were obviously expecting that outcome, but never published it as an option, probably in the hope that few people would notice or care about it.

      1. M.V. Lipvig

        Re: Another good reason not to own a smartphone

        Same here. I have a crypto dongle (that's right ladies, mine comes encrypted!) because I refuse to allow company anything on my private phone. They have the option of supplying my devices, cutting me in on the profits or paying my phone bill. They chose to supply.

  24. Somone Unimportant

    the worst unstoppable sound...

    Playing an old version of a Star Trek game on a Televideo terminal connected to a Northstar Horizon running CP/M back in the early 1980's, every time a torpedo or phaser hit a vessel, the software would send CTRL-G to the terminal to play the BELL character.

    After playing a few games, my father popped the lid of the Televideo terminal, cut the speaker cable and silence reigned supreme.

    After a few more games, I got into the CBASIC source code with Wordstar of all things, removed all the CTRL-G prints from it, recompiled it (well, converted it back to its pseudo-code - anyone else remember typing "CRUN237 STRTRK.BAS"?), reconnected the speaker and lo - my father never knew.

    It's also what started me off in my career of reverse-engineering other's code.

  25. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    All phone-number based messaging apps are on their way out anyway

    Google is pushing RCS Messaging/Joyn/Universal Profile/Chat messages/whatever it's called today. They've incorporated it into Android Messages and OEMs are including it their phones instead of their own SMS app. Chances are in a year or two 90% of people in your contacts list will have it.

    Operators tried pushing Joyn a few years back but failed (of course), it took Google to do something about it.

    No E2E encryption, operators can look at messages just like SMS and MMS, so can police and spooks, businesses can use Google Jibe to send and receive (i.e. spam) messages to customers, Operators can outsource their messaging infrastructure to Google (argh), everyone's a winner except Facebook... possibly.

  26. Ian Emery Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    That bring back memories

    The knee tremblers in graveyards I mean.

    I can still remember a C130 Hercules' extremely low flyover contributing to the destruction of my Ford Cortina's glove box at 2:30am one morning.

  27. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Reinstall Bloated Goats?

    The world will end!!!

  28. Nifty

    Horses for courses

    Notes - With the boss

    Slack - With the team

    WhatsApp - With the team about the boss

  29. Mandoscottie
    Thumb Up

    crivvens min

    heh top read, and hey some of us STILL have to admin Domino 6.5.4 and notes of the same build fp3....:( about to start testing notes 6.5.4 in W10...its beyond funny, long story, to be fair its rock solid in 7, dont need Zapnotes finally....

  30. morgz84

    This article went off on such a tangent in the first few paragraphs, I gave up reading it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Typically, I find the Comments *are* the content. Uncle Dabsy just gives us a starting point.

  31. Tim Almond

    Often the reprehensible culprits, despite being generously permitted by an employer to acquire their own smartphones and pay for their own network contracts with their own money so they can make themselves available to their millionaire bosses 24 hours a day, have wilfully avoided buying any business-quality comms apps at their own expense. What a bunch of skinflints these employees are, eh?

    I already have a phone, the services are free and given the choice between using my phone to send messages on Whatsapp and some overpriced "enterprise" solution for messaging, I'd much rather use the former, because it works, someone has thought about a good UI and it has more features.

  32. UberMunchkin

    Separation of Devices

    I have a really simple reaction to this, if a company wants me to be available on some kind of chat program then they can provide me with a device to run it on, I don't run business apps on my personal device because it is my personal device, which I have paid for. I don't have a WhatsApp account and don't use Facebook Messenger, also I don't let work people connect with me on social networks.

    If you want me to be on work chat then you get me a work device, one that I can turn off when I'm not at work. There is no way I'm giving my employer any access to my personal devices.

  33. RetiredAndGood

    Blackberry Messenger is the Secure Solution

    For anyone looking for an amazing message app with security that will even make the NSA happy the only choice is BBM (Blackberry Messenger). From an IT standpoint they can standardize on it across devices and control it as needed,

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