* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16449 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

The biggest British Airways IT meltdown WTF: 200 systems in the critical path?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Workers defending their territory; managers afraid to challenge them.

"eventually come back to code you previously worked on."

And fail to understand a word of it.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"As the earlier poster mentioned - look at telecoms."

Which can be brought down in a moment by a man with a back-hoe down the street. Or a flood. Or a fire. Or a gale.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Of course you can start saying that the up time calculation should be done over a week, month or year but where do you stop - a decade?"

BA are going to have to calculate over an awfully long time.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Larger systems need to continuously evolve to survive

"This is about mapping where the problems are, finding out what the critical chunks are that *must* be improved and then building a simpler more maintainable system to perform the task in hand. In short, building a live, functioning system that is under continuous evolution."

This. It's also easier to do as you go along. A good maxim would be to aim for a situation in which the result of each added development is that the system looks as if it were designed that way from the start.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Do any really large companies rip it all out and start again?

"Not without a massive amount of planning anyway."

You should have the massive amount of planning in place anyway. If you don't test it yourself on your own terms Murphy will do it for you and not at a time of your own choosing.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Do any really large companies rip it all out and start again?

I had a client - small business, maybe a dozen employees - who did this in the run-up to Y2K.

His servers were Xenix with a fairly old version of Informix and custom applications. He did a rip and replace with SCO and a packaged system allegedly Informix compatible; he wanted various custom tweaks adding and there were more of these over the years. Also over the years I gradually discovered various "interesting" aspects to the alleged Informix compatibility that ended up with me directly amending the data in sysindexes so they reflected the actual indexes.

When he retired he sold the business to a group who presumable ripped and replaced with whatever they ran on as a group; certainly I never heard from them.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Workers defending their territory; managers afraid to challenge them.

"The way to avoid it is for management to rotate employees around different systems"

Ouch! This is how the Civil Service produces senior officials who can avoid responsibility for anything. Something goes wrong on A's watch and he immediately blames predecessor B who in turn blames predecessor C who immediately blames A and/or B.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Sunny when it is working

"it is easily seen that it isn't safe to let any of your staff go until you have reached the point where the system can be rebuilt by script."

And even then, when the staff are let go you may find nobody knows what the script actually does and you will even more likely find that nobody knows why it does it.

Not only do you need to retain knowledgeable staff, you need to have succession planning in place.

The internet may well be the root cause of today's problems… but not in the way you think

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: You had better tell me some valid reasons to vote leave

Let's take a few:

"1. Not waving goodbye to a net of £13 billion of our tax money per year"

I remember the morning after the result was declared one MP who'd campaigned for Leave demanding that the government make up for the special EU funding that his constituency receives. I wonder where those special EU funds come from.

"2. Having boarders that the UK are allowed to control"

What boarders are those?

"3. The possiblity of returning to the superior British Common Law"

Are you thinking of English (and Welsh) Common Law. Scotland has its own legal system? No matter, Common Law still applies - just about. May wants to dispose of bits of it; that presumption of innocence is so inconvenient, so let's ignore it, treat everyone as guilty and spy on them.

"4. along the same lines, No EU courts overruling our own."

I'd rather like to have had the EU courts continue to overrule May's diktats.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The problem isn't ideologies spreading on the Internet

"Thanks Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan."

Are you the same A/C that touted the same garbage on an earlier thread? You were out by decades then; you're out by decades now.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Christian Berger: The problem isn't ideologies spreading on the Internet

"Government finances are not the same as Personal Finances"

No, governments can print money in order to delay the inevitable and make it worse when it happens.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: How does breaking encryption monitor people in parks?

"At the moment the numbers are the same as what we had at the beginning of the 2000's. I don't remember us having to resort to vigilante policing due to lack of numbers then."

The threat levels were different then.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: How does breaking encryption monitor people in parks?

"As I understand it one of the London attackers was reported to the anti terror hotline for his activities in his local park."

And it now turns out that he'd been investigated and the investigation dropped and also featured on a TV documentary about radicalisation.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Christian Berger: The problem isn't ideologies spreading on the Internet

"Just a quick question, if companies don't pay tax, what is corporation tax?"

A tax corporations pass on to whoever they can - employees, customers or shareholders.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The problem isn't ideologies spreading on the Internet

"The same for money, it is not an unlimited resource we only have so much in circulation"

You're confusing money with the stuff it represents. Take flats and houses. There are indeed only so many at a given time. But money can be printed by governments or, in effect, by banks giving credit and the result is inflation. Apply that to the limited number of houses and you have the house price bubble that got us into this mess.

There's absolutely no way you can solve the legacy of that era by sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting "La la la". That's what Brown & co did while the problem was developing.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The problem isn't ideologies spreading on the Internet

"They were stuffed up by mistakes (to be polite - it could be called criminal fraud) the banks made, not their own."

The banks were operating within the environment created by government policy. Part of that policy was to exclude house prices from the rates of inflation used to determine interest rate policy.* The result was a long period of artificially low interest rates and a house price bubble that drove the rest of it. Surely any responsible economic manager should have looked at the situation and realised it was a threat. But the electoral advantage of cheap goods and cheap loans was too much to resist. When the inevitable happened the banks had to be baled out to fend off an even worse disaster.

*Another part was globalisation leading production to migrate to low wage areas, particularly China which reduced or held down prices of many items which were used to measure inflation.

Europe's looming data protection rules look swell – for IT security peddlers. Ker-ching!

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Apart from fixing all those SQL injection flaws a good deal of this is going to hinge on a business's attitude to how it manages personal data. I can't see that as a thing that can be bought in. Except, of course, for buying in the services of those specialists in being kind to those laid off; those will be needed for the muppets from marketing who'll happily spaff all the customer data to digital marketing consultants spammers.

Microsoft totters from time machine clutching Windows 10 Workstation

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Yet another version?

"And I guess people who use this kind of software wouldn't like their files be sent to Microsoft if an application crashes."

And what do their likes count for compared with those of Microsoft?

Cuffed: Govt contractor 'used work PC to leak' evidence of Russia's US election hacking

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Gotta watch those names, folks

"Like that girl named Chastity in my high school."

Mr & Mrs Belt have a lot to answer for.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Dear "The Intercept"

"They didn't say whether she used her NSA email to correspond"

No, but they do say she used her workstation. And that she had top-secret clearance.

You have to wonder just how little you have to understand security to fail to get a top-class clearance at the NSA.

First-day-on-the-job dev: I accidentally nuked production database, was instantly fired

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"All you can do is cover your ass."

Which is just what the CTO seems to have been doing.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: ehm, one thing

"Is there a legal requirement for keeping the document current?"

Very unlikely in most legislations. Would there even be a legal requirement for the document to exist? There may be a requirement if the business were ISO9000 accredited or something similar. If the latter I'd say this was a clear fail of that.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Last place I worked...

"I managed to set the primary key field for a large subset of records in the database to the same value through a badly configured UPDATE query."

The primary key didn't have a UNIQUE index on it?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"2. The dev should have had enough knowledge to have identified possible issues and raised it higher"

The documentation gave an example with, AFAICS, no indication that this was the production database. Absent a clear indication that it actually was the live database the only possible knowledge for him to identify a possible issue would be independent knowledge of the credentials for that database.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

And as far as "legal" getting involved? Well, surely any type of investigation would highlight serious security flaws internally.

I think legal will send him away with his arse in a sling.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "and thought it was ok to include the production password?"

@LDS

I think you've just described DevOPs.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: So....restore from backup

"i'm assuming that there's nothing in prod that would lead to regulatory/privacy/other issues"

Given everything else about this it's possible your assumption might not be valid.

UK PM Theresa May's response to terror attacks 'shortsighted'

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Who needs broken algorithms

Oxymoron alert

"Trusted man-in-the-middle style interception"

The open source community is nasty and that's just the docs

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "may therefore not find documentation written by native English speakers easy."

"I'm not a native English speaker"

Wow Based on your writing here I'd never have given it a second thought, just assumed you were.

UK PM May's response to London terror attack: Time to 'regulate' internet companies

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Theresa May says 'enough is enough'

"But what did they achieve?"

Legislation permitting/legalising mass surveillance.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Theresa May says 'enough is enough'

"'Enough is enough' is about as helpful as 'Brexit means brexit'."

Yes, "X is X" seems to be her idiom. At least she's made a start on understanding logic. She should drop out of politics for a while and make a further study of it.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"So Mrs Prime Minister how do you implement it?"

That's easy. Tell someone else to do it; don't bring me your problems.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: +1

"For cryptogoblin!"

That's not what he wrote.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Theresa May says 'enough is enough'

"Are we going to give the police authority to deport anyone they suspect of activity planning terrorists attacks"

Please explain how this could work bearing in mind that these are generally UK-born. To where do they deport them? And then if the police had these powers absolutely, which is what you seem to suggest, and they decided they suspected you then wouldn't you want to be able to argue your innocence somewhere, such as before a court?

Why, when we're faced with a movement determined to overthrow the rule of law which we've built up over centuries do we seem to have all these blethering, hard of thinking numpties who think that the best way to combat it is to throw away the rule of law which we've built up over the centuries?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Rant time with naughty words and opinion, so look away now kids."

If you feel the need to emphasise your argument with obscenity then you obviously realise you have a weak argument. Specifically your weakness is that by and large you're dealing with British-born individuals and you can't go about banning your own nationals from re-entering your own country.

We're dealing with people who want the West to abandon its own laws and here you are wanting the West to abandon its own laws. The terrorists have won a little victory over you.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "since she must have advisors who actually understand this stuff,"

They understand that it will give them the government of the day the ability to find out and monitor exactly what anyone is probably thinking

FTFY

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "Does the idiot woman realize how bloody stupid she sounds?"

"If you're willing to credit her with failures in our security when they happen should you not also credit her with successes too?"

The thing that makes the failures so egregious is that they seem inevitably to involve people known to the police or security services or who have been reported by alarmed acquaintances or family.

But the real problem with her, right from her Home Sec. days, is her concern with the internet and particularly with her obsession of treating everyone who uses it as suspect. This abandoning of the presumption of innocence is a more drastic blow against British values than anything terrorist organisations could manage on their own. It's a major indirect victory for them. And what could she gain by all this? Terrorists are already breaking the law; is providing another law for them to break going to be effective? Those who would be affected by her attacks on the net will be lawful users. This Home Office-sponsored action is something akin to an internet auto-immune disease.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Book stores.

"How much more funding would have prevented this one."

Hard to say but inevitably we're told after the event that the offenders were either known to the police/security or that concerned acquaintances or even family had made reports which seem to have been ignored. So a combination of more funding and a redirection of funds away from mass surveillance might have borne some results.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Book stores.

"I hope Labour use this line of attack (defence) instead of standing there and taking it because it's too soon after the attack"

If they do and then win the election they'll change their tune PDQ. We might find ourselves with a new ID card scheme.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Book stores.

"I still find it surprising that she came down on the side of Remain."

Not surprising at all. Remain was expected to win and she wanted to keep her job. It wasn't so much coming down on the side of Remain. How much effective campaigning did she actually do?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Book stores.

"campaigning for Remain for 2 years."

AFAICS she only paid the minimum lip service to the campaign consistent with keeping her job after the anticipated Remain victory.

Who's going to dig you out of a security hole when the time comes?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: IT isn't Information Security

"IT's job is to connect and enable.

Security's job is to prevent unnecessary connections and disable dangerous capabilities."

I tend to think of security of the ratio of the ease with which the intended users can connect and be able to use the facilities to the ease of the bad guys to do the same. In other words it's not useful to lock the bad guys out by locking everyone out.

I can't see how this idea can be applied without making security, or at least IT security, part of IT. The security guard in reception is SEP, of course.

Boffins find evidence of strange uranium-producing bacteria lurking underground

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "Now if the bacteria absorbs U235 preferentially things could get interesting....."

"There's sufficient difference between C13 and C14 chemical activity in biological systems that you need to take this into account when sampling for carbon dating."

You're partly right. Most carbon is C12. Back in '60s we started measuring C12/13* ratios by mass spec to get a measure of fractionation which was then used to correct the C14 measurements from radiation counting. AFAIK thse days C14 is directly measured by mass spec but I suppose there's still a correction applied from the C12/13 ratio.

*These are both stable isotopes so any change in the expected ration is presumed to have been present at the time the material was deposited.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The usual baloney

"humans had been using organic farming methods for many hundreds of years."

Personally, I've always preferred organic food to inorganic. Salt and water are a very limiting diet.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The usual baloney

"edit: it appears the article was literally edited as I posted this, 'create' being replaced with 'produce' and thereof. Not bad, but I still think 'concentrate' is better."

I'd settle for "illiterately edited for the reason you state. The result, as it stands on Sunday, is still scientifically illiterate.

Retirement age must move as life expectancy grows, says WEF

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Obviously manual labor doesn't count!

"Welcome to the Thatcher/Reagan New World Order."

I've got news for you. You're about a generation out of date. If you need to look to the past to find out where the problems are from you need look no further back than Gordon Brown and his cohort of economic managers.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Pensions

"That means that that same 40 years keeps me alive for 13 years - much longer when the magic of things like compound interest kick in."

That magic if compound interest also applies to the 5% level. The real difference between the time you selected to pay a few % and now is that current interest rates are lower so that the returns your savings would pay in retirement are now much less. This is why so many pension schemes are in deficit. If interest rates kick up again your pension fund will start to offer higher returns.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: It's insane

"Of course the real story here is that it should be fewer children."

No, less would be fine. Eating less, needing smaller clothes, smaller homes, smaller cars.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: It's insane

"I wish anyone in charge was engaged in any kind of long-term thinking."

Any kind of thinking would be a start.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Wow

"One factor in the demise of D/B schemes that is rarely mentioned is Gordon Bown's tax raid on the dividend income"

True. It was a tax on the future and that future is now.

I felt at the time - and still do - that pension schemes should have started issuing double projections: this is what your pension plan is actually likely to bring you and this is what it would have been likely to bring you without the tax. The consequences would have become widely understood very quickly and he'd have been forced to think again.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019