* Posts by A1batross

3 posts • joined 14 Jun 2011

PC rebooted every time user flushed the toilet


My Marshall McLuhan Moment

There is a scene in the movie 'Annie Hall' where Woody Allen corrects a pedantic-but-wrong neighbor in line at the movies by reaching out of frame and pulling Marshall McLuhan in to tell the man off.

A very long time ago, when this was still relevant, I was on a help line talking to a woman about operating her Internet Gopher server (I SAID this was a very long time ago.)

I told this woman to do something with Gopher. (I no longer recall exactly what.)

She told me, "You can't do that with Gopher."

I assured her that she could.

She insisted I was wrong.

I assured her that this was completely possible.

She became very upset, cited her bona fides as a system administrator and computer expert, and told me very certainly that she could NOT do the thing I described with Gopher, because Gopher was not designed to do that.

"Ma'am," I said politely, "I'm one of the people who created Internet Gopher. My name is on the RFC, number 1436. Additionally I personally wrote the Unix Gopher client we're discussing, and I absolutely guarantee that my software can do what I am telling you it can do."

She reluctantly agreed to give it a try.

Smoke-belching flash drive self-destructs on command


Like the apocryphal space pen...

...the red button does what a Russian mallet could do!

A sysadmin's top ten tales of woe


Separate networks

Invoked like a magical spell, utility SCADA networks are supposed to be "completely separate" from the utility Intranet. Of course then there are the metering applications that watch SCADA electrical generation in order to sell power to the grid, but those are "just screen scrapers," read-only interpreters of SCADA reporting. So I was told.

So I'm doing a site audit at a nuclear generating facility in the USA, following a wire on the SCADA network. The wire runs up onto the chief system administrator's desk, where he has a Windows NT (yes... NT) box... with another wire from a second network card running off to the Intranet.

"I thought you told me these were totally separate networks?" I asked.

He looked at me and sneered. "I *HAVE* a routing table!"

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