In Oz we call this brown carpeting. Its traditionally done anonymously using a jiffy bag rather than a letter.
342 posts • joined 2 Aug 2010
In Oz we call this brown carpeting. Its traditionally done anonymously using a jiffy bag rather than a letter.
"This isn't the entire story, a lot of government IT jobs are filled by people that know someone that know someone. It's nepotism to the extreme - "My nephew knows computers! Yeah, he fixed my screen saver, hire him and make him an admin or something". So you get arrogant novices without a disciplined approach to problem solving that give up quickly."
Things must be different where ever you are. I have never come across this in the government sector. It is shockingly common in among non-profits and unremarkable among companies that have recently made the jump to a grown up IT dept.
My experience is you find two types in the public sector: the young and green and the old and time serving.
The former are generally well trained, knowledgeable and enthusiastic to make things work. They are usually working for a fraction of what they would get in industry, either because they lack the work history to get a look in at a corporate HR dept, or because they think its a secure job (ho ho ho). Once the enthusiasm is beaten out of them by a combination of rigid systems, brainless management, budget cutting and people telling them that all public servants are stupic, overpaid and lazy they either bail out in favour of a private sector job or become job-hopping greasy pole climbers in order to escape into management.
The latter are often quite good on one topic - usually some obsolete system - but pretty useless if you need someone who can deal with anything later than NT4. They can be surly and unhelpful, which I think is a pretty normal reaction if you started what looked like a promising career 20 years ago only to have it tank due to factors well outside your control. Add a bunch of young guns who come and go talking about things you no longer even understand and the knowledge that at least some of those you started with managed to move on and up, but you are trapped until whatever system you know is retired and then you'll just have to hide in the toilets and hope no one notices until retirement day.
Basically, the same surly resentment of their own failure at life that in the general population led to Brexit, Trump and our own beloved One Nation party (known affectionately as One Notion around here). But I digress...
Where was I? Oh yeah, my experience of public sector IT, and the public service at the state level, is of well meaning and competent people trying to get things done in spite of their work environment. At the federal level morale and conditions have savaged to the point in some departments that the norm is now what the army used to call dumb insolence.
"I just did this on Windows 10 with Edge.
The first link you get is for Mozilla, not an advert."
I just tried this too and the aus.easydownload.net ad is first. Do you have an ad blocker installed by any chance? Or did you mistake the ad for the Mozilla link like so many others? Please check the URL (green line).
Where I don't get the ad first is Firefox with uBlock enabled - turn off uBlock and the ad appears at the top.
"Hmm, I call bull"
I can vouch for this one being true 'cause it nearly caught The Girlfriend's Aunt last week.
Tried it just now and if I use Firefox (with Ublock and a bunch of other get-out-of-my-face type plugins) I get the same result as you. But if I use IE11 then my first result is "Mozilla Firefox 2017 Free - DownIoad Mozilla Firefox Free!" with "Mozilla - Official Site" second. WTF? Tried it with Chrome (with ABP) and I get the dodgey ad at the top as well.
But I don't see an ad for Edge on any of them. Curious.
If you'd peppered that liberally with obscenities it could have been pure Malcolm Tucker. Regardless, by half way through the first paragraph I was reading it with a Scottish accent...
"..I'm likely to use an awful lot of - what we would call - violent sexual imagery..."
Man, do you have an overly simple view of business risk management!
The reality is that the compensation clause is there to make the buyer feel what you describe.
No, its fear.
I've been involved in writing a few postmortem disaster reports (on a much smaller scale and fuck load less public, mind) and this looks like a classic case where the underlying problem is fear. The people making the decisions are terrified because they know they can't do the job. They make bad decisions because they want to believe someone else will dig them out of their hole. They bluster and repeat the official line when questioned while knowing full well is BS because that's all they can do. They hide the truth, dissemble and lie outright. And they panic.
Every one of your bullet points can be explained by an underlying culture of fear.
My uncle is complaining of this exact problem with his Galaxy something. It started yesterday. Wanna guess what he got for Christmas? Go on - take a wild shot in the dark...
"Maybe you should be asking the question why would we spending 11 billion dollars on copper lines that havent been maintained and are in need of replacing? Most people dont know this deal went through."
The short answer is to get the rights-of-way. We didn't buy just the contents, we also bought the ducts. Which also turned out to be unmaintained and in need of replacing. And occasionally full of asbestos.
In Telstra's defence (Christ! I'm going to have to take a shower after writing this) the lines weren't maintained because they were going to be replaced by shiny new fibre. Why spend money on something that's going to be replaced in five years?
Most people are completely unaware they bought the network. Doubly so that much of what we bought was already paid for by their parents back when Telsta was Telecom Aust and government owned.
This sort of thing is nothing new and far from an NBN problem. I've seen Telstra disconnect the wrong phone line on many occasions. In one case they even reconnected it to the wrong port, swapping the phone numbers of two businesses. Seriously, explaining that fault to the operator who couldn't seem to grasp that there could be fault if the line was working.
SOP procedure seems to be to treat the fix as a new connection and tell the customer "up to ten working days" meaning two weeks. Three if it rains. Four absolute max.
Six months to fix? Sounds like you're dealing Telstra's Digital Business dept. It can take a week for them to answer the phone. Muppets.
"Technically they're economic liberals. Wristies by the invisible hand etc. etc."
They might have been 30 years ago but now the party is run by hard right neo-liberal ideologues and religious conservatives. The former seem to rely on corporate welfare to drive business and the latter would certainly be against wristies for or by anyone, because they hate the idea of having any sort of fun, but are probably OK with invisible friends. Sorry, hands.
"The ddos was too small to even register on global attack map yet overwhelmed their configuration."
That's because it didn't happen.
The system failed under load and the work experience lad running it panicked. IBM have admitted as much in their submission (well OK, the panic bit rather than who was in charge). The DDOS story came out because that's what they thought they were dealing with at the time and now they can't take it back without looking like muppets. This is a classic management face-saving situation.
"The backup generator wouldn't have been necessary if off-line generator capacity had been fired up ahead of the storm."
But in reality it was necessary. If you are running critical services in a responsible manner you don't work on the assumption that everyone downstream of you is perfect.
Thanks for the anecdote but all it does is confirm my prejudice that hospital administrators don't do their jobs very well. Amusing but not really relevant. I have lived and worked in places where the power goes off on a regular basis so we developed strategies and procedures to cope. I'm including summers in Adelaide a short time ago in that* when the interconnector to Victoria would apparently overheat and shut down.
Either way, we are talking about a once-in-fifty-years storm. I was here for it and media panic aside we coped fine. I note that nobody mentions that SA has had major blackouts after much less violent storms (meaning 8 hours+) several times in the last decade. The only reason this event was more than a one day news story is the current political situation in the country.
* My own amusing anecdote: The GF was working in emergency services at the time and would regularly ring to let us know that there was a rolling blackout scheduled ando we would lose power that afternoon so how about I knock off early and head over to her place. Strangest booty calls I've ever received...
"For the record, The Git has done as much several times in his life. He is after all (rumoured to be) human..."
And you have done it again here, mate.
The reality is that critical infrastructure cannot rely only on grid power. That would be totally irresponsible. Hospitals et al have backup power precisely because they are more important than icecream*
Uhlmann blew what credibility he ever had by being the first out of the blocks to blame it all on wind farms and then getting huffy on twitter when called out for it
* Flinders Hospital lost a bunch of frozen stuff 'cause their backup genny fell over with a dodgy fuel pump. Or maybe the mouse escaped from the wheel, I forget.
"...for some bizarre reason, set your own network as a public one."
Or had it reset for you. Since last Patch Tuesday I've been been seeing problems caused by the network type being mysteriously reset from work to public on Home Prem installs (but not on Pro). Anyone else seeing this?
"...London has an air of FOAD that I loathe. Maybe it is me..."
Its not just you. London may very well be a great city but its inhabitants are, in the words of client and born and bred West Londoner, "a pack of miserable bastards". I got by playing the big dumb cheerful Aussie and just riding rough shod over their collective tough-guy act.
From the comments below, it sounds like they haven't got any better since the mid-90s.
I've spotted it turning up recently in buzzword bingo type presentations. It's become the latest special sauce to apply to the rotting carcass of your product to cover the stench of fail. If I'm feeling malicious I ask the presenter to explain it.
"On a side note, lots of e-commerce relies on physical package handling to some degree. Why they can't leverage their natural monopoly to turn a pretty penny there"
They do. Enough to more than cover the losses on old fashioned post. That was the deal when they were "corporatised". Their recent losses are due to accounting "adjustments" and spending on vanity projects, white elephants and acquiring other carriers (yeah, yeah, I know - what's a government monopoly doing buying it competitors, etc).
I suspect Aussie Post's problems caused management that hasn't come to terms with the fact that what they manage is never going to be exciting or glamorous. That and processes that suggest a sort of cottage industry mentality. At least that's the impression I get from talking to my parcel pixie.
"..the arrogant t*ats in the Tory/Labour Remain teams gave the victory to the lying scum in the Leave campaign..."
They could hardly do otherwise given that they (that's both "sides") have been blaming the EU for anything unpalatable for the last 40 years. The alternative was to get up an say "er, no that wasn't the EU, that was us that screwed you over, sorry". Hence the (from this side of the world anyway) very strange remain campaign.
A mate's parents live in Far North Queensland (if you wonder why I capitalise it, you've never been there). There phone number was one digit off that of the local Base Hospital. This was long before the days of mobile phones and drink driving capaigns so they would get regular calls in the wee hours from some poor bastard who'd been a car crash and walked great distances to a pay phone to call an ambulance. Such people rarely seem to have change for more than one call. They drove out to pick up so many people that a wag at the hospital made up ambulance signs for their station wagon.
Oh deary me years ago I worked as a junior muppet assembling PCs for the local office of a once quite well known Singapore hardware company. (I presume I did something terrible in a past life). The "facility" consisted of "nice" end facing the public and a warehouse. The latter was quite large considering and housed a steel cage where all the valuable stuff was stored - RAM, HDDs, CPUs basically anything easily pinchable. One of the jobs for a junior muppet was collating build sheets and taking result down to the warehouse with a trolley to pick the parts.
Now the door on the cage was sprung so it couldn't be left open but would swing shut and lock (can you guess where this is leading?). One junior muppet unlocked the cage, stepped inside and started picking only to hear the distinctive clang and click of the door. The problem was he had left the key on the trolley and just out of reach.
He was rescued an hour later when one of the grown up techs came out for a smoke.
Yup. That was my first thought when I saw the ABC's timeline: morning tea, lunch and after the reminder on the evening news.
I didn't, however, think of the VPN thing. I only know a few people who use commercial services so the figure of 16% surprises me. But it would explain the "foreign" traffic without resorting to conspiracy theories.
I suspect they mistook traffic spikes for attacks and panicked.
I had no problem with it (once I found a browser it would work with) but then I did it from work in the late afternoon because I assumed it would fall over some time after 6PM EST.
One of my colleagues is $9 richer this morning having drawn 8PM local time in our office sweep on when it would fall over...
"From what I hear, they tested the site at a million forms/hour.
Apparently their are 6 million households in the same timezone on the east coast."
Maybe they should have asked the ABS how many there are...
Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, etc. I used to do this sort of BS consulting work between, or even alongside, real jobs.
A decade or so ago I got a call from a friend of a friend who's brother in law (yeah, referrals can be weird like this) ran a manufacturing business employing a dozen or so who's accounting / ordering / process control (HA!) system had shat and could I go have a look. I found an aging HP running SCO and an ancient version of Pronto. Or rather, not running it 'cause a power surge had killed it along with the lunchroom fridge and a small industrial CNC cutter. It hadn't killed the backup tape because that had been dead for years due to ingested saw dust.
I thought about how to resurrect the beast for about thirty seconds before deciding that a better course of action was a meeting with the owners to tell them it was fucked beyond recovery and they should be looking for another solution. I got a bad cup of coffee, a "thanks for being honest with us" and $100 cash for my trouble. I have no idea if they survived that set back, but one of the owners used to call me every now and again when he thought someone was trying to screw him over (about a third of the time they were).
The important lesson was: even if you can fix something, fixing may not be the best solution for the customer.
Leaving aside that this goes counter to the British military policy of having an elite army, exactly who are these enemies you want to have greater numbers than?
I've done some of my best problem solving while seated on the bog. Serious thinking frequently needs some form of displacement activity. It keeps the reptile brain occupied stopping it from interrupting with the neurological equivalent of "are we there yet?"
I hear you about the coffee machine. WTF is wrong with people? Sadly the solution is to throw the bloody thing out and replace it with a far more expensive and complex capsule machine. Just remember to hide the milk heater thing 'cause the feckers won't rinse it. Or just drink your coffee black.
Absolutely not. If you abstain you are simply abdicating your part in the collective decision.
You do not have to vote in Australia. You have to turn up and get your name marked off to demonstrate you were part of the process. What you do then is your business. You could add a "none of the above" box (which I think should be on the ballot, by the way) or draw a cock and balls or just walk straight out again. The requirement is that you are part of the process, not that you cast a vote.
Not voting is not a protest. Its just letting other people make the decision.
Further, by not voting you are increasing the value of the votes of those who do. Essentially, you leave the decision up to motivated partisan interests. You see this in local council elections all the time. True story: a mate got himself elected mayor just by getting his old school mates and their parents to vote for him. It only took about 50 votes to tip it his way because so few people usually vote. This was in an affluent city fringe suburb, not a virtual slum on the fringe of town.
Compulsory voting at worst creates noise in the system that drowns out the really loony end of the spectrum. That's why we don't have the spectacle of governments elected by 30% of the population.
If you are citizen of a country you are complicit with the actions of the government. Just ask the IMF, government creditors or anyone who ever supported economic sanctions against another country.
"A proper Cornish pasty is sealed along the top, not around one side. The ones I've bought in Cornwall1 always have been, anyway."
Indeed all those I have been sold as such in Australia, Portugal and some no-where town in the Rocky Mountains were made thus. Ironically the only place I have been offered to side-sealed forgery masquerading as the real thing was in England.
"All economists are nearly always wrong because they have learnt the theories of Marx and Keynes."
Where is the button so I can vote this for the funniest thing I've read all week? Its even funnier than our fat, white, male, protestant, conservative Australian treasurer complaining about how much he's been discriminated against.
"I have absolutely no idea what real world metrics marketing people use to value the personal data for an individual. I'm a good example of an edge case in their world; I'm 100% unaffected (in a positive way) by any advertising. I have never bought a product or service based solely on an ad. Yet, there are apparently billions of drooling idiots out there who will buy whatever the advertisers tell them to."
You have misunderstood the purpose of advertising. Its not to sell products but to convince the ad buyer that their ad agency is doing something important and valuable for them. Ad agencies get their income from selling their services not from selling their customers' products. This insight should explain about 90% of advertising. The remainder is, I suspect, mostly vanity driven.
I've watched this happen.
Many, many years ago I worked a temp job that involved loading trucks. We would load the pallets then the fork operator would load them onto the truck. Then we would tie them down with ratchet straps. The drill was to check no one was on the other side (in practice by yelling "heads!") and throw the two inch wide strap with a half kilo steel hook over the load. You had to really hoof it to make sure it went over, otherwise you had to climb the load and retrieve the bugger.
For three days we had one of those people who can do nothing right. Nice bloke, but everything he touched went wrong, sometimes with bloody results but fortunately only for himself. The final "incident" was him throwing the hook over while standing on the strap. It up went, snapped tight and came back down. He was looking up and it hit him right between the eyes. Funny in retrospect, not so much at the time.
I'm flattered to have anything I wrote read aloud by Paul Eddington - even if its only in someone's head. If it had been Nigel Hawthorne I'd also be slightly worried.
I have a mate who actually did this.
Back in the mid-90s (I'm guessing) he was paid good money (if you include the penalty rates) to baby sit a bunch of servers. Not content with just restarting the troublesome ones when someone rang to complain it was not responding he fixed the worst of them. After all, such calls seriously cut into his nap time and often interrupted his Quake playing. If you are going to be really lazy you need to do some work first, you see.
So there he is, being paid to sit in an office doing a job that really only generates a couple of hours work a week and he starts taking on small contract and commission coding and troubleshooting jobs to fill the time.
What? You mean all that second amendment bravado isn't real? Say it aint so! [/sarcasm]
+1 for the GTA reference, I think I'll dig out Vice City when I get home
But I'll answer in the spirit of being helpful and having nothing better to do while I wait for a meeting that has been postponed.
The Year of Linux on the Desktop is whenever you want it. That's the beauty of meaningless marketing guff. For me it was about twenty years ago when I first installed Slackware. You may have missed it from your ringside seat because you were looking the wrong way and for the wrong thing.
I'm sure there are any number of people here who can answer your question about the internet. Some may even give sensible and correct answers. I will take a punt and suggest the answer is no, or at least not really.
Political parties in this country, for all the massive donations they receive, are loath to spend money on real stuff. You can judge this by the quality of the photos used on election posters (which are cable tied to every vertical object right now) - clearly taken by friends, family or if by a professional one who's just found out the sitter expects not to pay for it as a contribution to the cause. I've experienced it first hand from our state conservative party (self styled as the party of small business to add surrealism to the experience) and can well imaging the feelings of a small developer who thought he'd landed a lucrative job for an influential client.
Small planes? Like 747s...
I remember standing on the "observation deck" trying to smoke a cigarette as an Air New Zealand (I think) jumbo came in with its nose at what looked like 30 degrees into the crosswind...
The Sister-in-Law works for the Oz tentacle of a formerly Danish (now owned by Spaniards, I believe) agricultural machinery manufacturer. Her boss is not able to attend the annual "foreign subsidiaries" meeting in the mother country, so she gets deputised and sent along with the CFO halfway around the world in his place. During the meeting a certain volcano in Iceland goes foom! and grounds all air traffic. She got as far as Charles de Gaul airport before finding out.
Cue frantic emails and phone calls trying to work out how to get her home. Various suggestions are made and abandoned because, basically there are half a million people in the immeadiate vicinity all trying to do the same thing. In the end the French CEO rang to say she should use his apartment in the 16th Arrondissment until further notice. Just get a taxi and show up, he'd let the caretaker know to expect her...
Oh, and pay for anything she needed on the company credit card - the usual limits had been lifted.
So there she was: trapped in Paris in April on the company dime. Life is tough for some.
"Or carry cash and use that."
That's the best advice. When in the USA I rapidly learnt to keep my foreign credit cards (including the company Amex) for big hotels and the like where they were used to such exotic things.
Actually its worse than that: we bought a shitty broken down network for billions that our parents paid to build before the current owner was privatised.
"Worked in one as well. I wouldn't be too sure about tenure of IT."
Here in Oz IT turnover seems to be about 12 months. That's because the IT staff generally have an escape route and the job is seen as either stop gap or resume filler. Mind you, more than 2 years working at a call centre is seen as a red flag on a CV in many HR departments - like still working at Mcdonalds after you are 25.
"I would hate to visit the new Apple Campus, only to be greeted by a talking shrub."
Have you been into an Apple Store (tm)? Talking shrub is a pretty good description.
"The kind of meeting I hated most, is the one they fly you out there for."
I have developed a simple defense against this this form of time wasting: if you want me in to attend a meeting on the other side of the country you will fly me business class. Meeting is at 9:30? Fine, you can fly me in the afternoon before, stick me in a convenient hotel and organise some form of transport to have me there on time.
Don't want to do those things? Then you don't need me in that meeting enough.
It may make me sound like a cunt but better that is a small price to pay. An unexpected upside is you get treated with a strange level of respect by people who would treat you like dirt if you showed up in cab fresh off the redeye.
You found the key that got the idea across. I had a receptionist who's written instructions for scanning visitor IDs had the first line:
1. click on the big red bear
She was far too sweet to see the Ifanview icon as squashed cat...
Back when I ran Helldesk , a mercifully brief contract covering for a mate who'd gone on to better things, I'd have written "PC" up for being a lazy .CNT and added him to my mental list of people to get rid of at the first opportunity.
Working the tech support phone you are the face of the company. You are also there to fucking help people (hint: the clue is in the name). The people calling need help and for many of them you are the only lifeline they have. They are probably already stressed enough from having to listen to our shitty hold music for ten minutes and they don't need you being a smartarse. It costs nothing to be helpful - even if that just means, in this case, working out that the file has gone missing and the caller needs to talk to someone else (bonus points for pointing him in the right direction) - and the whole company looks good and I get to add another successful resolution to our numbers. Enough of the latter (but not so many that the baseline gets pushed up, please) and we all get a bonus at the end of the year.
If you can't manage that then you should be looking for another line of work. Mocking people who are unfortunate enough to be in the position of relying on technology which is, to them, little short of black magic, says more about our insecurity than their ignorance.
OK, having said all that, the bloke I took over running that support desk from went on to run internal training. It was around the time that PCs were being dumped on C-level desks and I suspect someone in the company thought that if they could teach executives read and answer their own email then they could sack a few secretaries and PAs. My mate was the guy who did the teaching and his best story was the CFO who had got it into his head that you couldn't lift the mouse off the desk. Cue "click on blah", "it won't reach", etc.
I also don't get the calling people "sir" thing. I've never done it and never had it done to me. If someone on tech support did so, I'd probably assume they were taking the piss and tell them that the call will go a lot smoother is they drop the condescension. Every time I see it in story about a support call, it makes me think the story is made up by some 15 year old geek working as a junior salesman at whatever big box consumer electronics store blights your region.
"Yes Sir. Blocking the SMTP port is a service we offer as standard to all our customers.
Er.. a lot of (if not most) ISPs do indeed block outgoing port 25 for any mail server other than their own. Sounds like the user may have been more clued up than the tech support on this occasion."
Its petty much SOP here in Oz since email viruses became common. The exchange is perfectly reasonable - it sounds like both user and tech support are more clued up than the OP :-)
I've come across this twice. Its the result of using an off-the-shelf solution and being too cheap to customise it.
The second case was slightly more complex: they picked the cheapest quote and then got upset when the vendor submited an extra bill for "variations" that weren't explicitly part of the original quote. The vendor put them on the bottom of their priority list, I presume on the basis that paying customers come first and this job wasn't profitable. In the end they got sued by the supplier for non-payment. The vendor made a loss and they ended up with a shitty system that only partially did what they needed.
But I digress, the result was a number of mandatory fields that are inappropriate or pointless. The solution we suggested was to fill them in with standard but nonsense data. If it got "lost" or "stolen" at least it would raise an instant red flag when someone tried to use it.
Hmmm, just checked and I'm running FF44.0 with ABP. My existing plug-ins are unmolested and Google is still my default search engine.
I think you may have bigger issues than Firefox, mate.