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Comment: interesting synchronicity (Score 2) 269 269

Just fifteen minutes ago I realized that my script to refactor the primary file server (newly converted to ZFS) into more sensible datasets had an irritating detail wrong (a path element was being duplicated in some paths).

I said to myself "oh, I'll just roll that whole thing back to the snapshot I made 30 minutes ago".

Then I go "zfs list -t snapshot" and discover that my snapshot was holding onto 0 GB because I forgot the -r switch to make the snapshot recursive.

Oh, well. By some impossible-to-separate mixture of good management and good fortune, it turns out I had a set of (different) snapshots from the last two days covering all datasets in questions. I lost very little work (only scripts were executed against these datasets and I still have all the scripts).

My real screw up?

Back in my second co-op workterm job, I managed not to notice that a system I was backing up changed the order of the listed drives between two very similar screen requests that I made almost immediately one after the other. Unfortunately, on the second pass I selected the active system drive as the recipient of the system backup, picking from the position in the menu where the desired destination drive had appeared moments before.

I had become accustomed to my home system being deterministic in the order it listed things. My bad.

This is back at the very beginnings of the 4.77 MHz era, so my PC was actually not yet what we now know as a "PC" (its father had an S-100, and its mother had a itty-bitty CRT).

Thirty years later I still can't type dd of=/dev/ada3 without making three trips to the metaphorical bathroom.

Whenever I type a disk-level dd command, I leave the sudo off, until after the third proof-read and several console consultations in which at least two different programs give me the same view of the drive name.

In dollar costs I couldn't say. In psychic cost, it's indelibly etched onto my permanent record.

I had a co-worker once (EEng) who claimed that as a junior intern during the late 1990s back when laser gear for fiber optics was all the rage, he routinely fried extremely delicate $2000 DUTs while the old hands just shrugged their shoulders. Dotcom dollars. Who really gave a fuck? It was considered barely worse than ruining a nice chair.

Comment: Took an online trading company offline for a day (Score 4, Interesting) 269 269

I was hired as a firewall admin at an online trading company, then quickly discovered the director of IT was insane, but kept management happy because he made his numbers by keeping his team constantly understaffed; I was told to work on not just servers, but installing Sun servers in racks, running cable, and fixing just about anything plugged into the network.

I made the mistake of showing competence in networking, so was asked to "expand my role" (new title, same salary), and start working on the switches themselves, including executing an "upgrade" to stacked HP ProCurve switches with VLANs (replacing a hodge-podge of random manufacturer switches). The actual upgrade went fine, basic testing (ping) showed everything stable, but as soon as trading opened the next day, everything went to hell, performance dropped through the floor and customers started calling in about trades timing out. Long story short, turned out that Solaris HME cards were unable to negotiate properly with ProCurve switches, half the machines were dropping packets due to duplex mismatches. There's a reason people call the Sun interface cards "Happy Meal Ethernet"

Cost the company approximately $180,000 in direct and customer exodus losses, and was likely a factor in their eventual collapse. I wasn't fired, but management never trusted me again so I saw the writing on the wall, and quit to do consulting work at a (also doomed) dot-com online supermarket.

On the upside, I was able to make thousands in consulting income from installing those same "lock speed to 100 and duplex to full" Solaris scripts on servers for various customers who also had performance issues plugging in Sun servers to cheap switches.

Comment: Re:Older Car Radios... (Score 1) 184 184

Well...it *might* be that your radio used an IF (intermediate frequency) to decode the AM or FM encoding...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

This signal is sufficiently high in frequency that it actually 'leaks' outside the radio - and, I suppose, might be picked up by a radio in a nearby car. But the IF's frequency isn't close to where you're tuning...so I'm not sure this completely explains the story.

(In Britain, there is a television licence you're supposed to pay to operate a TV receiver - and at one time the government used "Television Detector Vans" that drove around to houses that didn't have a TV license and picked up the IF frequencies that televisions inadvertently send out...allegedly, they could tell which room the TV was in - AND which channel you were watching - so the IF frequency must be different for different radio channels.)

I dunno - this is one of those stories that sounds kinda OK in theory - but I really doubt it would work in practice.

Comment: Re:brute force the unlock code on car stereo (Score 2) 184 184

I heard you could fix that issue by putting the stereo into the freezer for a while. Allegedly this takes the memory chip down below it's minimum operating temperature and erases it so the stereo boots up with factory defaults. Never tried it myself, but it's a trick that car stereo thieves are known to use.

Comment: Paperclip saves fairground ride. (Score 5, Funny) 184 184

I was working on one of those gigantic 'motion theatre' fairground rides:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

This was back in the era of 286 PC's - running DOS. The software was suffering timing issues and we really needed a hardware timer interrupt - but DOS already stole all but one of them - and we simply didn't have enough.

I needed a *roughly* 1kHz interrupt to monitor some ride function or other (I forget exactly what) - so I came up with the idea of putting a bent paperclip between the RxD and TxD lines of the RS232 port and using the serial port interrupt. I'd send a character out through the serial port - and at 9600 baud, with one stop bit and one start bit the character took ~1/960'th of a second to arrive back in the serial port chip...at which point it triggered an interrupt - and I could send another byte out to make it happen again.

We used paperclips on a couple of machines as an emergency hack - but later versions used a 'dongle' plug that went into the RS232 port with a wire soldered across those two pins)...this plug was named the HPE..."Hardware Paperclip Emulator".

Comment: Re:You know it's not going to work (Score 1) 254 254

Take SSL/TLS. Are they going to demand both parties stash the session key, or do their handshaking through a proxy logging each packet?

Probably not. You're thinking like a geek instead of a politician. Politicians don't get their way by understanding technology. They get their way by finding people who do and forcing them to obey their will.

In this case, what Cameron means by banning encryption is passing laws that say something like, "If your website is used by people in the UK, you must always be able to comply with a warrant demanding data and you must provide all data, even if it is encrypted". The exact details of how that works is neither here nor there to them.

Now of course the interesting thing is how this interacts with jurisdictions, and whether it would be enough to make GCHQ shut up (probably not). The UK may or may not be able to force the hands of Facebook/Google/etc because the UK is such a huge market and they all have offices there, but China was a huge market too and Google walked away from that anyway. So it's hard to know how things would play out. For companies that have no UK exposure it's not clear what they'd do - probably use ad-hoc blocking of any website they suspect might be used by The Evil Terrorists if it doesn't comply. Could be a mess depending on how heavily they enforce it.

Comment: Re:Nevermind the bollocks, here's David Cameron (Score 1) 254 254

All those figures say is that birds of a feather flock together. Tory voters tend to live near each other and because the UK has a political system designed a long time ago for resolving local issues, not surprisingly it doesn't translate votes to seats directly at the national level. As local politics becomes less and less relevant, of course, people feel this system no longer works well for them.

However, as you note, it would not have mattered if Labour had won, or any other party. There are NO parties in the UK that believe people should be able to keep secrets from the government. It's just not something that fits into the political worldview. And because the voting system collapses thousands of decisions down to just one every so many years, surveillance and encryption is simply not democratically decided at all. Basically the wheel of power is decided by the economy, and that's about it.

Unfortunately this is not specific to the UK and is true nearly everywhere, France is even worse for example, and the USA pretends to care but realistically lots of Congressmen would very much like total surveillance of Americans .... and only feel they can't demand it openly because of that darned constitution. That won't stop them doing it in secret though!

Comment: Re:At least he included warrants (Score 1) 254 254

Ha ha, did you think he meant warrants?

He meant warrant. Unfortunately as is often the case with the Tories, they use words differently to how ordinary people do. By warrant he means a ministerial rubber-stamp. For instance Theresa May last year alone "signed" nearly 2,800 warrants, a number that clearly shows zero attempt to investigate their legitimacy and indeed almost certainly means some anonymous flunky is signing them on her behalf.

Adapt. Enjoy. Survive.

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