* Posts by Alan Brown

9849 posts • joined 8 Feb 2008

Brits whinging less? About ISPs, networks and TV? It's gotta be a glitch in the Matrix

Alan Brown
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"Spend an hour on the phone, get transferred through nine people and departments to end up back with the first person you spoke to and for them to then say your package doesn't support DNS. "

Lest you think they only do this to home users, their commercial support is just as bad.

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Ah, British summer. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the internet is on the fritz

Alan Brown
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Re: Talking of bright things in the sky

"In practice unable to keep granny on-line when confronted with the mighty power of the JCB."

In my telco days the (friendly?) rivalry between microwave and fibre techs was summarised by calling this "back-hoe fading".

In later days it's proven to be a very useful way of getting spammy datacenters offline.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Pick two from the trinity

> Bastards. Would it be so difficult to have a gazette notice akin to "We're resurfacing Shit Alley on the fifteenth of September, anyone wishing to lay pipes and cables needs to get in now because we're entering a two-year sod off we've just fixed it period."

My local council did that for a major road about 30 years ago, relaying and rebedding a 5 mile stretch of road and footpath. They interacted with _ALL_ the utilities to ensure that noone would dig up anything for at least a decade afterwards.

2 weeks after the job was completed the telco ripped up the newly laid footpaths and killed all the newly planted trees along the entire length of the road to install ducting - apparently because someone in head office couldn't be arsed to read the documentation for 10 years and then misread the end date as the start date. They got served with a very large bill (all the utilities had signed off on an undertaking not to dig) and a court order to make it as good as it was before they started.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Big red ball?

"long enough for certain providers to understand what Customer Service actually means."

They already know: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dytZY74bOM4

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Airbus UK infosec gros fromage: Yep, we work with arch-rivals Boeing

Alan Brown
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" More expensive? Of course. More secure? Definitely."

More expensive? yes.

More secure? Only if you design it that way and make sure it STAYS that way.

Air gaps have a remarkable tendency to be bridged and false senses of security result in organisations not bothering to bother with hardening things internally.

Eggshell security is frequently worse than none at all, which is one of the points that Goslin was making.

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Submarine cables at risk from sea water, boffins warn. Wait, what?

Alan Brown
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Re: That land doesn't have to flood

> Well , given that a "1953 level surge" must be a constant

A surge by definition happens against the day to day average level.

The Thames barrier was intended to only be used in anger a few times per decade and to last until at least 2032. It's being used a few times per year and has already come close to being overtopped on at least one occasion.

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/feb/19/thames-barrier-how-safe-london-major-flood-at-risk

As the article points out, it's predicted that sun and moon positions are expected to result in higher tidal surges in the North Sea between 2032-2060 than have been seen in the 1960-2030 period.

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Alan Brown
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Re: That land doesn't have to flood

"The Dutch solved these sorts of problems 300 years ago."

Up to a point. It comes with other kinds of problems - eg: 1953's "de Watersnoodramp"

The British solution is called the Thames barrier - and that is no longer suffficient to contain a 1953-level surge.

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Alan Brown
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"Quite a lot of UK land is still "rebounding" upwards, "

in some parts.

Other parts (such as the southeast) are rebounding the other way, having been beyond the glaciers and pushed upwards by the land squashed downwards by the glaciers.

The result is that the UK is far more geologically active than people realise and has a long history of large earthquakes (richter 6+) at intervals far enough apart that people forget they happen (the next Dover and Canterbury quake cycles are well "overdue")

Mind you that only needs to be a 200-300 year cycle - lookup "New Madrid" to see an even bigger disaster waiting to bite people on the arse. The USA has only woken up to that one in the last 25 years and is vastly unprepared for the consequences of a sequence of 8+ shocks in the middle of the continent (it will be far worse than anything Yellowstone or the Cascades can inflict on the population there)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Total Malarky. This is abject stupidity

"Worst case storm surge in a strong tropical storm can reach 7 to 8 meters."

This.

At Avarua atoll one storm surge came through in the dead of night and silently took the entire population out to sea (The actual hurricane was 200 miles away). It was well above local treetop level so hanging onto any wasn't an option (it ripped most of them out anyway).

It was 3-4 weeks before all the survivors were located and rescued.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Not really a big issue

1: Florida is sinking faster than sea level is rising

2: So is the entire Mississippi Delta

Both of those are believed to be due to the effect of glacier melt rebound effect (where the glaciers were, the squashed land is rebounding upwards. Land just beyond the end of the glaciers was pushed upwards and now it's sinking)

3: Chesapeake Bay is spectacularly vulnerable to sea level rise and it's already rising locally there far faster than the global average(*) thanks to changes in the the Atlantic conveyor current (Gulf Stream) and location.

(*) Local changes happen all over. Long term prevailing winds cause local levels to pile up without changing the global levels one iota and currents act like river valleys. In the case of Chesapeake Bay the localised effect of the Gulf Stream is a 3 foot lowering of local mean sea level vs it not flowing nearby.

4: Storm surges can really ruin your day and your infrastructure.

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'Fibre broadband' should mean glass wires poking into your router, reckons Brit survey

Alan Brown
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Re: Integrity: optional

"I think you'll find for people like this there is no switch. It's hardwired. They can lie in your face and not see anything wrong with it. We're talking people who can lie their teeth off and fool a polygraph."

aka 'the difference between a used car salesman and a computer salesman is that the former knows when he's lieing'

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Alan Brown
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Re: Copper rocks

"* 2.4km copper line to next village, but the fibre cabinet is a mere 300m away in our village. Not cost effective to connect us. "

It is if pikeys keep stealing the copper.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Here in Manila

"PLDT are picking the low hanging fruit and connecting premises near to the access points and ticking the boxes."

Do they still have an absolute monopoly on international internet connectivity and satellite connectivity like they did at the turn of the century?

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Alan Brown
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> Reality in the UK is that like me you could easily be 1.5km from your green cab "as the cable runs"

Not just the UK.

At one point in NZ I was 40metres from the cabinet by foot and 3km by cable run.

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Alan Brown
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Re: BT Blues (the phraseology, not the music)

" because it seems to suffer from the mistaken belief the longer it takes to download something, the more it can charge you."

Partly that, partly that it believes in linear charging structures and partly that broadband is cannabilising the business leased line market.

This is WHY Openreach and the entire lines side needs to be cleaved from BT business.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Is it important?

"Then, as more of the houses nearby came on the downstream speed has steadily dropped so the best is now 90Mbit/s, but that also varies with an SNR margin that goes up and down. Why, I have no idea"

I've seen that too - started at 100Mb/s capable (80Mb delivered) and is now down to 68Mb/s delivered.

The SNR variation is mostly due to thermal cycling of the overhead line along with various routers being turned on/off (some people insist on doing this when not in use despite it being a bad idea)

Vectoring is a workaround at best.

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Alan Brown
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Not just misleading advertising on "fibre"

Any "ISP" not selling IPv6 needs to have some action taken against them for misleading sales.

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Alan Brown
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"You apparently didn't try many connections then."

There's "speed" and there's "latency" - there's fuckall difference in the latency between ADSL2 and VDSL, mainly because it's just a shitload more 8kHz 32/64QAM carriers stacked out to 17 or 33MHz from the 8MHz limit of ADSL

Latency is dictated by the baud rate - and the baud rate of a high symbol-per-shift carrier like 64QAM is LOW (as low as an old fashioned 1200bps modem)

_You_ might not see that when you're streaming your kitty porn but it shows up in spades on video conferencing or when playing online games.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Re Not copper. I'd love copper.

"this is the other problem with copper, it has intrinsic value."

Which should be "encouraging" the telcos to switch to fibre.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Same in Canada

"Yesterday in Italy the Communication Authority ruled "

Until it's upheld in court, it's not binding across the EU.

You can expect that to be fought tooth and nail by telcos across the continent.

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Skype Classic headed for the chopping block on September 1

Alan Brown
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"I abandoned Skype updates after it was bought my E-Bay"

Between this and MS, you and most of the rest of the world have abandoned it.

This is something the Stefs(*) of the world never seem to understand when they try to corner the market.

(*)http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/stef/

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‘Elders of the Internet’ apologise for social media, recommend Trump filters to fix it

Alan Brown
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Re: "USENET was a pretty clear warning."

alt.* was the warning, September 1993 was when it landed in our laps.

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Western Digital formats hard disk drive factory as demand spins down

Alan Brown
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Re: I guess this is a positive thing?

"with a 1TB SSD costing 5x that of a 1TB HDD there's still a significant demand for HDD."

Alternatively, with a 1TB SSD costing 5x that of a 1TB HDD we've reached the knee point.

It's clear that the largest impediment to adoption of SSD over the last 4-5 years hasn't really been cost so much as availability of NAND. That said I won't buy WD or Seagate SSDs.

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IoT search engine ZoomEye 'dumbs down' Dahua DVR hijackings by spewing passwords

Alan Brown
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The problem here isn't Dahua.

Zoomeye comes from the XM part of the firmware they run (and the XMEye remote access software provided) - which stands for "Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology Co.,LTD."

Xiongmai provide the core of almost ALL the chinese DVRs out there. If the support software has XM in the title then that's where it came from. They're at the heart of Dahua, Hikvision, Annke/Sannce, Swann, etc.

if the engine of the DVR is a Huawei Hi3xxx series SoC, then you can almost guarantee that the firmware is Xiongmai - and that comes with a bunch of problems:

1: It's embedded linux with hardcoded passwords (it's easy enough to unravel the firmware to verify this)

2: Xiongmai _refuse_ point blank to comply with GPL

3: It's seldom-if-ever updated

4: "Secutrity? We've heard of it"

5: These holes are mainly due to the "need" for external access through Carrier-grade NAT - qhich ends up requiring the DVR to connect to XMeye.net to say "here I am"

6: The actual DVR software is an embedded, stripped binary blob containing a bunch more GPL software (you can see the symbols inside it) that's almost never updated (sound familiar?)

7: Xiongmai are running around accusing all and sundry of pirating their software

As far as I can tell, it looks like Huawei contracted Xiongmai to make firmware for these SoCs. I've brough the GPL issues up with Huawei Europe, but they seem powerless to intervene.

A few journalists taking an interest might help.

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Copper feel, fibre it ain't: Ads regulator could face court for playing hard and fast with definitions

Alan Brown
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Re: 10Gb only with fiber?

"The important thing is that it doesn't require fiber to the house itself, which is the most expensive part outside of greenfield developments."

If you have to pull a new cable then fiber is the same price (slightly cheaper actually) as copper - and it'd make sense to run a duplex drop to save work later.

But do BT actually do that? Of course not.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Fibre vs Copper

> They *ALL* convert to copper or wireless at some point as part of distribution and as such every one of them is still a hybrid system."

The problem is the latency, jitter, crosstalk and other interference issues that come with converting from glass to a 17 or 33MHz multi-carrier 64QAM system running over a few hundred to a couple of thousand metres instead of a 333MHz 16QAM carrier running 100 metres at most (and usually mo more than 20)

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Tech team trapped in data centre as hypoxic gas flooded in. Again

Alan Brown
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Re: No one uses halon anymore.

"No one is going to die "

ALL of the modern systems work by reducing the oxygen content of the room below 12-14% (vs 19-20% in normal atmospheric conditions). Think of it as an instant trip to 15-18,000 feet without the pressure reduction.

At that point most people are going to be unconscious and anyone overweight/unfit or hypertensive runs a high risk of dying - the risk of pulmonary/cerebral edemas doesn't go away immediately after exposure either.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Never do this

"Exec very pissed at me, but the owner was happy that the place hadn't burnt down."

And that's about the point that the exec should be bouncing along the road on his arse and blacklisted from the industry, with a bunch of H&S writeups against his name.

The fire service have the power to do that. Criminal charges for interfering with fire suppression (ie: attempted arson) have a career limiting effect.

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Alan Brown
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"Ours has a 30 second stand-off."

So does ours - which you can postpone, but not cancel.

Stupidity in action. Once the system's triggered (for whatever reason) you can't UN-trigger it.

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Alan Brown
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Re: If something looks like it's about to catch fire...

"I remember watching someone try to put out an alcohol fire with a CO2 extinguisher, "

It can be done, but you have to know what you're doing.

Fortunately server rooms tend not to have such things as liquid fuel fires.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Oops

"One day (without notice or reason) the Halon in the tape library triggered. "

And THAT is my biggest worry about the bloody things.

Honestly. I've been in mountaintop "temporary" installations where the halon system was a tank bolted to the ceiling with a mechanical thermal trip (like the heat detectors in fire aoarm systems) and still had to deal with the aftermath of the bloody thing having gone off for no apparent reason with noone around for twenty miles whilst the buillding was 4 foot deep in snow.

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Alan Brown
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Re: New version of Cluedo

"The Janitor in the Stairway with the PFY's patented slippery stuff."

And PFY shouting "boo"

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Alan Brown
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Re: "if it goes off, all the dust that gets blown around is enough to kill a lot of kit."

"Some types of Halon (there are several) are clean"

Halon generally works by chemically combining with whatever's burning to extinguish the flames.

It works well, anything near the fire has to be replaced. What you absolutely do not want in a data room is a dry powder extinguisher - something which got demonstrated to the H&S wonk who insisted on having one in there by letting one off in his office during a weekend when he wasn't around.

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Alan Brown
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" all the dust that gets blown around is enough to kill a lot of kit."

Yup. So it's worthwhile _insisting_ on a full deep clean of the entire room behind the ceiling tiles and under the raised floor before commissioning (and preferably before the cabling team moves in), then go over it again before actually trundling the racks in.

In a small (8+5 metre) server room I pulled out several vacuum cleaner loads of nasty grit, destroying the machine in the process. Better that, than that the expensive hardware.

The same room has a number of sticky floor pads and dust traps which are periodically cleaned out, as are the bottom of racks.

When was the last time YOUR server room was cleaned?

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Fix this faxing hell! NHS told to stop hanging onto archaic tech

Alan Brown
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Re: The document on pagers...

"while in fact there are genuine use-cases for pagers after all"

Mainly that POCSAG standard pagers run at 150MHz and that frequency was chosen because it tends to penetrate buildings fairly well (the human body is more or less a 1/4 wavelength at that frequency, so pagers worn on the belt get reasonable coupling into a decent salty antenna, and the bit rate is low enough that they work even at really shitty s/n ratios.)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Sometimes, Paper

"You can set email servers to report back on delivery status"

The sending server. The one under your control. Nothing else it.

And there's no guarantee that the receiving server hasn't diverted it to /dev/null, or that the recipient hasn't auto-filtered it to the same location, or that he's not just 25,000 messages behind.

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Alan Brown
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Re: User story

"Now you could probably replace it with a tablet computer but you still have battery life issues,"

A proper tablet with epaper will last for weeks, if not months. Stop being windows-centric.

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Scam alert: No, hackers don't have webcam vids of you enjoying p0rno. Don't give them any $$s

Alan Brown
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Re: My fairly ancient mum got one of these...

"She was mainly concerned that they might have used special effects to create some porn starring her."

Mine would only be concerned inasmuch as she'd want a cut of the royalties.

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Alan Brown
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Re: speaking theoretically of course...

"they can watch the video of the second person's agape-jaw "

'There's no E in..... That's NOT a goat'

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Alan Brown
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Re: @AC

"this also assumes that their e-mail wouldn't end up somewhere in a spamfilter"

I got a copy today. Apart from not telling me what my password was (or even what fapsite I'd visited) the URL for the video wasn't even intelligible as a URL

Which is probably why it got through - and the fapsite was probably "fapping great steam traction locomotives" or some other entertainment which might be a tad scalding for an onanist to toot his oboe on.

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Alan Brown
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Re: speaking theoretically of course...

"even though it is even less reliable than "

Hence the old joke about those who use the rhythm method being known as "parents"

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Juniper makes a meal of Spectre/Meltdown

Alan Brown
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"[bind] only if your system is likely to accept zone data via zone transfer from untrusted sources."

WHY would you _ever_ want to do that? I mean seriously.....

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It's 2018 so, of course, climate.news is sold to climate change deniers

Alan Brown
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Re: PhD

"Public House Drunkard"

That's extremely apt for any actual philosopher. Doing it in an office has a nasty tendency for the philosopher to go insane.

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No, seriously, why are you holding your phone like that?

Alan Brown
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Linky - coming to UK soon

And with a cutoff relay too.

Do the math on what happens when coal stations go away and electric cars become more common.

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Ukraine claims it blocked VPNFilter attack at chemical plant

Alan Brown
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Re: Come on!

"The tea was on offer not from Putin's gang actually."

The problem with having a country run by mobsters is that not all of the mobsters are under the control of the mobsters supposedly in charge, and there are mob wars constantly going on in the background.

The fact that Putin is _trying_ to rule with a Stalinesque "iron fist" but not succeeding is what makes Russia even more dangerous than if he was actually managing to achieve that goal.

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Alan Brown
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"The VPNFilter nasty infects mostly consumer and the lowest tier of SME routers"

Being forced to deal with SCADA equipment in various industrial equipment and power-generation equipment makes me WISH it was as advanced as consumer or lowest tier SME equipment.

Seriously,

The kind of stuff that even advanced countires are using in factory/industrial environments would make you gnash your teeth - and the maintenance companies will react to your security demands by backdooring you via a 4G connection because you're being "difficult"

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Heatwave shmeatwave: Brit IT departments cool their racks – explicit pics

Alan Brown
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Re: But isn't the outside temperature like ...

"That's hardly even warm (says the Australian)"

The Australian isn't getting 18 hours of daylight coming from 270 (horizontal) degrees of sky. It gets a little tricky to shield against the direct heating effects of this kind of thing. (suprisingly, it's _much_ easier to work against near-direct overhead sunlight at low-latitudes than low-incident angles at high latitudes. on the other hand you only need to deal with this shit for 2-3 months of the year)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Desperate times demand desperate measures

"By the time someone followed up the alerts, the ambient temperature was heading towards 40oC"

Our rooms have an emergency power crowbar at 38C for _exactly_ this reason.

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Alan Brown
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"Both of which were nowhere near enough. They would have been OK for either of the old computer rooms but not for the new, merged, room."

BTDT. The result was a server room which was maxxed out thermally at 1/3 it's physical capacity with manglement wanting to put desks in there. Explaining the legal ramifications of putting people in with _lethal_ fire suppression kit made them go a little white. ("manslaughter charges" were mentioned)

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Alan Brown
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Re: I've done this too

"After a couple of seconds it dawns on me that it's the aircon rumble that's absent now. Which means that there's now close to 100kW going in every second that's not taken out"

You really _REALLY_ have to wonder why with millions of squids worth of kit and redundancy up the wazoo, manglement cut corners and allow a single point of failure for the cooling.

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