* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

WannaCrypt: Pwnage is a fact of life but cleanup could and should be way easier

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Re: An entire article blaming Microsoft...

"but they DID put a patch out there for a long-obsolete OS..."

AFAICS this was a belated recognition that they had no excuse for leaving an error like that unatched for so long.

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Re: At least with linux

"Still not happy? Roll your own, or persuade somebody to roll it for you."

They did. It's called KDE.

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Re: This will happen again.


Nothing's perfect. You're going to have to work on constructing the best system to fit your requirements. But why start with the least secure platform you can find? That's just plain daft.

And why set up a monoculture? Make different parts run on different platforms. It makes it harder to support? Well it also makes it a damn sight harder to attack and if you get attacked then you might find that your supposed ease of support was illusory.

Big Tyke.

UK surveillance law raises concerns security researchers could be 'deputised' by the state

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"Make June the end of May."

And do you think a Labour govt would be any less keen do use this Act? Remember, wee've been here before.

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Re: Warrant Canaries

"a real court as opposed to the kangaroo variety"

I suspect that if push came to shove and this ended up in a real court the real court would take a dim view of kangaroos.

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Re: I see your warrant, GCHQ,

"Warrant trumps invoice, I think you'll find."

Anti-slavery legislation might trum warrant. It could be an interesting situation.

The way to fight it is to publicise it as "HMG wants to create more WannaCries".

NHS U-turns on blanket IR35 tax crackdown

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"b) Good contractors hiking rates to compensate"

Or just hiking to a better gig.

BT considers scrapping 'gold-plated' pensions in bid to plug £14bn deficit

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Re: BT, a pension scheme with a telecommunications provider attached to it

"Companies didn't raid pension pots; they stopped paying in because they had to pay tax on the surplus."

Absolutely spot on. Not that facts ever get in the way of comments on BT.

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Re: Much like my pension, which I'll likely never get.

BT pension fund would be fine if they hadn't decided to not ''take a holiday' from paying into it after privatisation.

"They" in this case is not BT. The guilty party was the IR/HMRC. It is thay who decide that a pension fund is overfunded and that continuing to pay would be tax evasion. They fail to take due note of the fact that investments can go down as well as up, as can interest rates.

The adequacy of funding depends on interest rates. The amount that can be paid out from a given level of funding depends on the interest rates. We currently have very low interest rates. To fund the liabilities of the pension fund at these rates is huge. The holiday was insisted on at a time when interest rates were much higher.

Tax inspectors pensions are a public sector Ponzi sceheme so they are immune to this sort of situation. Were this not the case they might have been les capricious about declaring holidays.

Presumably this money can be got back from the shareholders?

The consequence of the enforced payment holiday is that the business (AKA the shareholders) has for some years been making large payments for a considerable period in a vain attempt to catch up and is connetted to do so for some time to come.

BA CEO blames messaging and networks for grounding

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Re: As a 3rd party....

"Are you saying they turned it off and on again?"

It seems to have been a case of turned it off.

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Re: 20/20 hindsight is easy...

"Efficiency and cost cutting are pretty much your only options"

Your IT systems then become they key to providing that efficiency. Your business becomes, as has been said in another comment, an IT business that happens to fly planes. Or another way to put it is that IT becomes one of your core competences. Becoming incompetent at that is stupidity.

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Re: Rule 1 of Press Releases

"The result, according to Penfold, is to drive an agile business"

And following the link we find "The result, according to Penfold, is to drive an agile business". That speaks volumes.

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Re: ESB?

"They probably thought they could just pop down the road to the brewery in Chiswick and get a refill there."

You thought they could organise....?

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"Let's get something clear here. a CEO may be accountable for the ultimate financial performance of a company - that is his job - but he is clearly NOT responsible for the success or otherwise of a particular DR."

He is - or should be - accountable or responsible, whichever you prefer, for ensuring that the CIO has taken whatever steps are necessary to ensure the proper operation of his side of the business.

If the CEO has lost sight of the fact that his business relies on IT for the moment to moment operation of the business (not just day to day) and not acted accordingly then he should cease to be the CEO.

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Re: Backup and DR is not sexy

"And it is a dead end career decision to go that way..."

I'd guess that a few people are currently taking a big whack of money from BA for just this.

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Re: Hardware vs software

There is still no verb "to architect".

Could you please suggest a pre-existing alternative.

The implication of the word is something at a higher level than "design" would cover, dealing with the overall form and how the components fit together but not quite the same as "specify".

If there isn't such a verb - and off-hand I can't think of one - then it might be necessary to devise one. Importing a word from one part of speech into another is a long established practice in English. All it requires is for enough people to do it so that it becomes accepted. Objections along the lines of "there's no such word" seem to be part of the process.

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Re: Hardware vs software

"The best moves have been the ones where a ground up review/re-write/rearchitect/retest have been part of the move adding new functionality, plugging gaps properly and properly re-testing."

And we all know what the chances of that happening are when the objective is cost-saving.

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"Maybe the CIO should take a leaf out of the aircraft maintenance process. Scheduled checks and refurbishments, signed checklists stamped by authorised\certified engineers as dictated by external regulators."

Way too expensive. That's why we're outsourcing it.

Stingy DXC Tech tells staff to breathe in and tighten those belts

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"When I was in part of the civil service in the 90s they changed travel expenses from 'per diem' to 'actuals' to cut costs."

You were lucky. Although I had to go to courts & crime scenes there always seemed to be some new IR reg that meant that my travel claim was invalid: start from home, should have started from the office, start from the office, should have started from home and that sort of nonsense.

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Re: Saving money isn't the point

" box-tickers, bean-counters, form-drafters, policy-slingers and suits"

These never seem to be treated as cost centres. I wonder why not.

Ransomware realities: In your normal life, strangers don't extort you. But here you are

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Re: Inevitable - erm no

"the chance of the software you use being available on Linux is about the same."

Yes, if Wine can run malware under Linux then it could also run your Windows software so the chances are indeed about the same. Looking for the equivalent native Linux applications is a much better bet.

Something tells me that's not the reaction you were hoping for.

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Re: Inevitable - erm no

"The prospect of getting ransomware is probably close to zero"

As a small population of users we're not worth targeting. If Linux were to take off then that would change. I do wonder, however, what would happen with Linux and MS Office running via Wine. Office would be as vulnerable to macros and I don't see why Wine wouldn't support Windows malware if it were introduced. Best stick to running native LibreOffice.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


I've recently been looking at autosync via Webdav. Webdav where V is for Versioning. So if your file gets encrypted your last good version should still be on the server. The cost, of course, is providing adequate space on the server for multiple versions.

Another aspect of this is that the ransomware is going to make use of the file system; whatever it sees in the infected PCs file system it will have a go at encrypting whether it's local or remote. That will, of course will include anything in the autosynced directory. But, at least on Linux/Unix, running KDE I have the option of setting up a remote Webdav link in the Dolphin file manager. That doesn't, as far as I can see, appear in the file system at all; it looks like a directory to Dolphin but not to anything such as ls using normal file system semantics. I don't know if that facility is available in Windows or Macs; if it is it's less likely that ransomware will be coded to tap into it and follow it. On Linux it certainly is possible so adds an extra line of defence on top of Linux's advantage of being a relatively small targetmarket.

A third thing I came across is that LibreOffice (and, I understand, MS Office) can edit remote files by Webdav protocol so neither the client file system nor file manager need have the file exposed to them.

There seem to be a number of ways in which this protocol can be used to defend the actual files from ransomware. Just don't bypass it by also exposing the server as something that appears in the clients' file systems via SMB or NFS.

IBM marketeers rub out chopper after visit from CEO Ginni

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"I dunno which Is dummerer"

Neither. Say what you like about IBM, they are consistent.

US laptops-on-planes ban may extend to flights from ALL nations

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Re: "Planes ban may extend to ALL nations"

"US tourism PR heads are already warning about a lost decade"

It has the added advantage of reducing the likelihood over overbooking and therefore of being seriously assaulted by simply deigning to fly.

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Re: I can see this creating a new market

"Airport laptop rental at the point of arrival."

Presumably operated by a TLA.

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"So, what do you do when you end up with two conflicting but simultaneous panics."

Strict serialisation applies.

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"Also, the airlines state, that devices with Lithium batteries should never be checked and only taken as hand luggage"

The first rule of panics is that the latest panic supersedes all previous panics.

The second rule of panics is that the countermeasures of the latest panic override those of all previous panics.

The consequence is headless chick syndrome.

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"The human body I a a natural EM absorber"

It depends on what part of the spectrum you're thinking of - X-rays. It could become a a cancer hazard for frequent fliers.

EU axes geo-blocking: Upsets studios, delights consumers

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"Just waiting for the relevant UK political representative to vote against this."

Why? It's hardly going to affect us so why bother?

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Re: So will we be able to see the full BBC iplayer site through Europe now?

Not after 2019.

Microsoft Master File Table bug exploited to BSOD Windows 7, 8.1

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Re: More like from the 1970s

"At the very least, a good "second system" design should have cleared this cruft away."

According to Brookes it's the second system that introduces the cruft.

IBM asks contractors to take a pay cut

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Re: or simply not pay contractors at all ..

"I have still not been paid for January and part of 2016."

Court judgement then if they still don't pay take your pick: apply for a winding up order or send in the bailiffs.

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Re: You should never let a company cut your rate

"I find myself reluctant to just push off somewhere else where I'd have to start building the trust again."

It helps to work on multiple company projects and being able to liaise with staff in the others. That way you can collect a number of contacts who trust you before you even work for them.

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Re: As a contractor...

"If they insist, I tend to insist on a contract extension at the same time."

You insist on a contract extension at a reduced rate?


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Re: You should never let a company cut your rate

" if your job security is based on your skillset and ability to deliver (i.e. reputation). If you don't stand up for yourself, no-one else will."

And if your reputation is good enough you'll be able to walk into another job elsewhere.

Sysadmin finds insecure printer, remotely prints 'Fix Me!' notice

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Re: "the printer was no longer visible"

"I think many things about Google but thinking them stupid isnt one."

So they'd never do anything stupid like have their streetview cars slurp any wifi access points they passed.

Your job might be automated within 120 years, AI experts reckon

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Re: Dark days to come

"The two questions are: 1) how long will it take"

Another 10 years, just like it's always been.

BA's 'global IT system failure' was due to 'power surge'

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"We would never compromise the integrity and security of our IT systems."

If this is uncompromised integrity what would it look like if it had really been compromised?

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Re: Really a power failure?

"I know that one is not supposed to attribute to malice anything which could equally be attributed to mere cock-up"

OTOH any senior manglement cost-cutting exercise is indistinguishable from malice.

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Re: Paying for criticism

"this is a complex phycological issue"

They're using seaweed to predict the weather?

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Re: Boots on the ground

"Once the dust settles I would see this as a victory for UK based IT workers"

And more than just UK-based but in.house.

Whether you're running a bank or an airline or anything else where the IT operation is essential to being able to function you have to regard IT as one of your core competences. Outsourcing it simply doesn't make sense.

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Re: Heathrow and Gatwick?

"Unless, of course, the CIO has kept a copy of the email / memo / minutes in which the CFO refused the money to replace the batteries in a big UPS"

Just sack the lot of them and start over again.

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It seems as if power failure has simply become the latest PR spokesnumpty's boiler plate to be used when even they realise "only a few customers were affected" isn't going to wash.

Or ... could it be ... all these "all the UK ran on renewables" and "solar accounted for more than nuclear" stunts were achieved by a bit of load-shedding?

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Re: Operational Failover is incredibly complex

"assuming you've documented that process properly"

And you didn't go paperless so the whole documentation is on one of the servers that's not working.

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Re: I have to agree

"Perhaps they where all on a jolly to Spain for the weekend and got stuck at the airport?"

And the BA employee with the only key to the genny shed in his pocket was on the same flight.

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Re: Heads will roll

"One question though, their tech support was outsourced to India, but was the actual work outsourced to Capita by any chance??

Its strange BOTH are claiming power issues."

Also the Pension Regulator's site has been offline for some time: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-40057025 Was that a Crapita business?

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Re: Back-up, folks?

"There are (I would guess) a lot of extremely unhappy folk out there who will probably never grace BA with their custom ever again."

Yes but we didn't all make that decision this weekend.

Windows 10 love to see PC market grow again. Future iPhone to be clear. Elvis to re-appear

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Re: Music to Microsoft's ears??


That's wants vs needs.

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Re: Please take mine

"Even with a laptop, having a desk to work on is optimal."

You haven't seen the state of my disk.

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