Tag Archives: UNIX

Afford versus Effort

They are apart, but not in the mind of some. You see the old expression “You get an A for effort” got corrupted. I reckon it started after the 90’s when effort was no longer the main dish. It became not what we can do, but what we can afford so that the fat cats can get their bonus, whilst meeting all other obligations. It wasn’t wholly unexpected. I had spoken to some McDonalds people in the Netherlands in the 80’s. They told be about meeting expectations and not overrun it past the 100%, merely meet the expectations of their bosses. Do not be the ‘surprise’ no one sees coming. At the time it was an utter alien thought. I did not catch on to that exercise until mid 90’s. It was weird. You were hired to do your best, but that became you are to do your best as THEY expect you can be a nothing more. I touched on this slightly whilst writing ‘It was one keyword’ 5 days ago (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2023/03/04/it-was-one-keyword/). This must have stuck in the back of my mind, because it came out yesterday with a vengeance. Two things bubbled up. One reflects on LinkedIn and Facebook. They have (for the most) been all about the quantity and not the quality of stuff. They will give you some runaround on complexity (with loads of yada yada yada), but the foundation is that this was out there years ago. I never mentioned it before as I was designing IP to meltdown Iranian (and Russian) nuclear reactors. I did find a solution with the use of a snow globe (how is that for effort?) But the larger stage is not that, it was the story from some girl with a huge smile telling us how people died. That is how it reflects because that is how her profile picture was set. Big smile, no matter what. I do not care that some people can add emoji’s, we can stage ‘emotions’ like they were sad or angry. It would have been so simple to give any person several profile pics, one solemn, one happy (default), one angry and so on. There I a limit, but I reckon that most are covered with less than 9 profile pictures. There are plenty of accounts that have one picture, these are neutral pictures and that is fine. But showing someone how mines impact the human body with a big smile gives the wrong message. And Facebook and LinkedIn could have done something years ago, there is your A for effort right there, no effort because we get some technology babble on how they could not afford it.

This gets me to the second part. The image gives us a mothers day gift. OK, nice, optionally caring, but why? Not giving the gift, I am all for that (even though my mum died almost half a century ago), but see the second image. 

Now consider this a mockup, set to about 4 inches, optionally in merely in greyscales. The edge has the battery, and an option for an micro SD slot. There would be an USB charging option with the more expensive model having some kind of dock. And we include the one cool thing Microsoft did 30 years ago. We get the about screen to give the holder who it was from and what for (like mothers day). The screen could have not merely a calendar, which the simplest UNIX command (cal), but we could add a dot around important dates, like birthday’s mothers day, fathers day anniversary days and so on. The LCD has a clock option so that they can place it anywhere where they need time and optionally showing images, like pictures. And yes the colour version would be more expensive but that is on the buyer. So why are we looking at some acrylic heart that is reduced to a paperweight within a year? It is a nice gift and the emotion behind it is most likely real, but giving something that has long term impact, is that realisation wrong? Is that now beyond achieving? Why is that? This setting came to me in mere seconds, so why isn’t a player like Amazon all over that? They have pretty much all the technology required, the digital transparent LCD clock is decades old. No one took that for a ride to the next generation? 

That is what shows effort versus afford. We forgot to go all the way, we forgot to take the train to the station past the last station. Technology is cheaper and gets to be cheaper still. In 2005 I bought a 2GB card for my camera for $850. Now that same card is $8, in less then 20 years. So what about the other technology? We forget that our bosses need us, we don’t need them that much, the Covid era made that clear, so go all in, show your maximum effort and you will soon see that the ‘fake-it-till-you-make-it’ people will try their luck in Uber or they become barbers. You need to shine and as such you need to make your maximum effort so that you get noticed by the right people, because the greed game is unrelenting, some boss will notice this and they will see YOUR value, something your boss was eager to trivialise for HIS needs.

Just consider that for a moment.


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The theory of new

Before I connect to the story of today which BBC gives us is something from my past. In the 80’s I learned that there are 4 basic stances. Attack, defend, avoid and evade. The last two are not the same. In one we deflect here the attacker goes in the other we avoid where the opponent is expecting to be. It helped me in many of the stages I ever faced. It is the basic of being, that is how I saw it anyway. So these matters were in my mind when an article hit my eyes. It was ‘US-China chip war: America is winning’ (at. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-64143602), are they? Really?

You see the article gives us “These tiny fragments of silicon are at the heart of a $500bn industry that is expected to double by 2030. And whoever controls the supply chains – a tangled network of companies and countries that make the chips – holds the key to being an unrivalled superpower.” I cannot disagree, but the setting is folly. You see for the most in the last 30 years that industry tried to be everywhere and there is a stage where we see them in many places. But is that a good thing, or can that truly be pushed everywhere? Think of it, think of the stage from let’s say 1996 and now 2023. Electronics got to drown everything else. 

Now lets look at the simple image below

It is an abacus, and it comes from Persia about 600BC, there is enough speculation that they got it from somewhere else and that story goes back to the age of Mesopotamia. What is important is that a person truly versatile in this device can get to a result faster than anyone with a calculator and there is the solution, or perhaps the direction of the solution. The second strap is not what is out today, but what was out yesterday. In the older days we had Microsoft laptops, they outgrew their usefulness, or so that was what Microsoft wanted us to believe. The laptops were too slow, but guess what, those laptops became decently powerful Unix/Linux servers and that was a mere 10 years ago. The old PS3 could be broken into a Linux system, which was surprisingly powerful. They got a new lease on life and that is what we need to do, we need to consider other directions. Yes we see all the bla bla bla on AI and on what a powerful system can do, but guess what? AI does not exist. Machine learning does and deeper machine learning exists too and they are awesome. AI needs a lot more and these parts do not yet exist. In the first a real quantum computer is required and IBM is the closest to getting one. Once they get a handle on shallow circuits and the power is upped, that is when the system exists where a real AI could be, the second part is still a decade (at least) away. A Dutch physicist did find the Ypsilon particle and that is essential to get the shallow circuit truly going, but it is a decade away. You see chips are binary. It is either yer or no and an AI needs the Ypsilon particle. It is Yes, No, Neither or Both and these last two will evolve systems into closer to true AI and we are not there yet. So how does it all fill together? 

That is the core and we see part of that with “The manufacture of semiconductors is complex, specialist and deeply integrated. An iPhone has chips that are designed in the US, manufactured in Taiwan, Japan or South Korea, then assembled in China. India, which is investing more in the industry, could play a bigger role in the future.” This is true, or at least it sounds true, but the real issue is what can be replaced with a chip? You think it is ludicrous, but is it? Do we need them? It is a serious question. You see any new technology is derived from the limits of others and as power is more and more an issue in many places, the idea of exploring the field of mechanical computer is not the craziest. What did we overlook? What did we reject because an American told us that their chip was better? They did it before with VHS, Betamax was highly superior, but VHS had the numbers, it is the only reason they won. So what else did we reject? If an abacus can equal a person with a calculator. A system with a time advantage of 3000 years, what else is possible? We forget to look behind us (which is where I found billions in IP) what else is there and what else could be done? And this is not done overnight, this will take years, decades perhaps but it would result in a new technology stream, one not founded on electronics and guess what, when the power falls away, so do your chips. So is my idea weird? Yes. Is it preposterous? Perhaps. Is it invalid? No! There is enough evidence all over the field and seeking replacement systems is not the weirdest idea, not in this day and age. 

Consider one other system, in the old days (a little past WW2) someone invented the Knijpkap (squeeze cat) the torch had a small dynamo inside which sounded like a purring cat when operated. 

The interesting part is that it needed no battery. So how many torches do you know that have no battery? What happens when batteries are not available? We can add a recharging battery to hold that power, or not. But one device completely without battery. So what happens when we adjust this to other means? These are two simple applications, now consider one where whomever invents it reuses a mechanical computer to take the load away (and revenue) for electronic ones? That will be the exercise and it is not an easy one. It takes one with serious brains and a decade at their disposal. But I reckon the spoils will be so worth it in the end. 

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When is a job not a job?

This is not a farce or a joke, it is a serious question. So at what point have you seen a customer service role, paid $400K a year with the following:

– You will receive an email with a link to start your self-paced, online job application.
– Our hiring platform will guide you through a series of online “screening” assessments to check for basic job fit, job-related skills, and finally a few real-world job-specific assignments.
– You will be paired up with one of our recruiting specialists who can answer questions you might have about the process, role, or company, and help you get to the final interview step.

This is my view of a really silly approach to data collecting!

We get more when we seek deeper quotes like “(name redacted) has turned down high profile tech roles in Europe, preferring to be near his family in Egypt. Crossover enables him to work remotely as a Senior Software Engineer for Trilogy – a role in which he gets to learn new things every day” and it is all possible via a place in Austin Texas (a big city in the USA).

So it took less than 2 minutes to find ‘This company is a scam. Become your own contractor’ This was one source, there were more, the larger stage is found (at https://www.glassdoor.com.au/Reviews/Employee-Review-Crossover-for-Work-RVW11216098.htm). 

Now, normally I do not give a fig, I really do not care who they entangle and how they go about it, but in today’s market to find these so called ‘scams’ going on in places like LikedIn is a larger concern. And to make matters worse, they now have over 2.8 MILLION followers. When places like LinkedIn and Indeed cannot keep their offer database clean, the actual people desperately looking for a job will not ever succeed. Places like Australia have to deal with age discrimination for too much, getting data clowns thrown in the mix does not help and the pot of where to find decent and real jobs is getting slimmer. You see, there are all these people that claim that SEEK is the real deal, but consider that they have (today) 9,761 technical support jobs and 484 UNIX jobs in ONE metropolitan area, do you think that adds up? I can give you a guarantee that it does not, I used SEEK in 2012-2014 and I got ZERO returns, not one job was real, they were all recruiters gathering resumes, a fail rate of 100%, pretty impressive is it not?

As I see it, when these ‘providers’, who came in from nothing and offer a decent service, they need to make sure that their service is clean, if not their value goes straight into the basement and it has larger repercussions. So when I see messages that they cannot find people with Digital experience and some people have been applying for years, I merely giggle. One is not looking in the right place (the one who cannot find applicants), they all claim to be in a global economy and they see “Today’s top 1000+ And Digital jobs in Saffron Walden, England, United Kingdom” someone is clearly losing the plot and it is not me, it really is not. For me that part lighted up as my great grandfather came from Saffron Walden and for the viewers, see the image below. Do you really think that place has 1000 jobs to offer?

Saffron Walden

So when is a job offer not a job offer? As I see it when it is a ruse, a scam or mere data (CV) collection. That is my view on the matter. 

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A coin with more than two sides

Let us take a look at two of many more sides. The first side is given in this article: Google’s Vint Cerf warns of ‘digital Dark Age’ (at http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-31450389). The initial quote is “Vint Cerf, a ‘father of the internet’, says he is worried that all the images and documents we have been saving on computers will eventually be lost“. This sounds nice, but is that not the same as we have had forever? If we did not take care of our old photographs and our old negatives, than those pictures would be lost forever, so how is that different?


See here, the picture of an Agfa Instamatic. It is almost identical to the camera I had in the late 70’s. So, how will you get those negatives developed? Where to buy film? Most will not care about it, many have bought new camera’s, but where to print the negatives you have? Nowadays with digital images, almost any printer will print it, almost every system will show them. How is that different? So are the words of Vint Cerf anything else but a sales pitch for some new ‘forever’ saved option, likely one that Google will offer and not unlikely in a way that gives Google shared ownership. Is that under the current feelings of ‘data collection’ such a sceptical view to have?

Now, I will state, that not unlike those old prints, the owner has the responsibility to keep the images safe, just like in the old days. Even if the originals (the digital negatives) are lost, as long as a print still exists, the image remains, just like the old photographs. Yet, his quote “But as technology moves on, they risk being lost in the wake of an accelerating digital revolution” holds truth, because that is not unlike the 110mm film issue. So as long as you have a data option that survives, like the 110mm negative holder, you can always get another print. So, CDROM’s in a writable version came in the late 90’s, so we only started to have a backup option for 20 years, yet affordable digital images would still need several more years. Yes, that market has grown exponential and now, we see the application of Common Cyber Sense in another way. Now, people will get confronted with the need to back things up. As the Digital disc evolved, so has the quality of these solutions. Now the discs last a lot longer, so backing up the old discs on new discs does make a whole lot of sense, so there is a side that makes perfect sense, but is that enough?

That part is shown in the following quote: “’I worry a great deal about that,’ Mr Cerf told me. ’You and I are experiencing things like this. Old formats of documents that we’ve created or presentations may not be readable by the latest version of the software because backwards compatibility is not always guaranteed’“. This is at the heart of what Vincent Serf is getting to, so he is definitely onto something. How many of you can still access all the WordPerfect files you created in 1992? Who can still access their FRED applications and their Ashton Tate’s Framework solutions? That list is slowly and surely getting close to zero. This is what Vincent is getting to and there list the crux, because this would have gone beyond mere images and what we currently still access. Consider the Digital VAX/VMS systems, the collected data that spans decades from 1982 onwards. The IBM series one (those 64Mb mainframes with 10 9” floppies), so Vincent is perfectly correct (as a man with his experience would be), but what solution to use? Yes, his idea is perfectly sound, but the issues that follows is the one that I have to some degree an issue with, you see, sometimes things get lost, which has happened throughout history, would our lives have been better if the Library of Alexandria survived? Would it be better, or would there be more and more incriminations? There is no way to know, but the issue can be explained in another way. This is a myth I heard in school a long time ago. The story is that a person could ask whatever he wanted for a created chess game. He asked for a grain in the first square, two in the second square and so on. By the time the board was half way through, the person paying for it would owe the person 2,147,483,648 grain seeds and that is just half way through. Now think of today’s world, where we collect everything. Like the chess board we collect every part and this just increased the junk we collect and that at a premium price. So what to keep? That is the hard part, it is interesting to keep on the side that sometimes we need to allow to lose things, but Vincent has a case. Now we look at one of the last quotes: “’Plainly not,’ Vint Cerf laughed. ‘But I think it is amusing to imagine that it is the year 3000 and you’ve done a Google search. The X-ray snapshot we are trying to capture should be transportable from one place to another. So, I should be able to move it from the Google cloud to some other cloud, or move it into a machine I have’“. Yes, there is the sales pitch. “Google search” and “move it from the Google cloud“, so there we have it, the Google cloud! Still, even though there is a sales pitch in here, does that make it a bad approach? Are we better because we save EVERYTHING? That is at the heart of this little conundrum. Now, those having their data on the old Cray might consider their data worthy, so do many who had their data on UNIX mini’s, but now consider every Novell edition, every desktop, now, it will be arbitrary if people decide to take these steps, yet what happens when all data can be baked up like this, what happens when some start ‘offering’ this for ‘free’? Who then co-owns that data, those solutions? Is that such a crazy thought to have?

Here is the last part: “And that’s the key issue here – how do I ensure in the distant future that the standards are still known, and I can still interpret this carefully constructed X-ray snapshot?” This is the part that is interesting; his concept of Digital Vellum is an interesting one. Yet, how should we move forward on that? What happens when these snapshots link up, when they connect, perhaps even interact? There is no way of knowing; perhaps this would be the beginning of a new evolution of data. Is that such a weird concept? Perhaps that is where we need to look at other sides too. Consider our insight, into our memories, our ‘wisdom’ and our ability to filter and extrapolate. Is this solution a primal step from near ‘artificial-intelligence’ to possible cyber/digital intelligence? The question becomes, if intelligence is grown from memories, what do we create when we give it everything we ever collected? I have seen the stories, the way some people think that the dangers of an artificial intelligence is so dangerous. We might consider the thoughts from the ‘Cyberdyne’ stories (Terminator series), but in the end, what if the digital intelligence is the beginning of our legacy? What if we learn to preserve ourselves, without leaving a carbon footprint, without being the deadly blight on nature? At some point we will stop to exist, we die; it is a simple consequence of nature, but what happened, if our wisdom is preserved? Many come with stories and nightmares of the loss of identity, but what happens if we can store intelligence? What happens if the next century Albert Einstein would be there to help us create progress, inspire innovation for all time? Is that such a bad thing? Some of these questions are beyond my ability to answer but there is a dangerous dark side too, what happens when this becomes commercial Intellectual Property? I am all for IP, yet, should cloned intelligence become the property of anyone? I feel that I might be alive long enough to actually see that question go to court. I hope that those making that decision are a lot wiser than I currently feel.

This now gets me to story two, which also came from the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-31440978), the story here is ‘Cybersecurity: Tech firms urged to share data with US‘, which gave me the initial scepticism regarding the Vint Cerf story. So, I am not linking them perse, they are separate stories. The initial quote is “Private tech firms should share more information with government and with each other to tackle cybercrime, according to US President Barack Obama“, I do not disagree with this thought, however, there is a side to this that is not addressed. The given quote is “Senior Google, Yahoo and Facebook executives turned down invitations to the summit, held at Stanford University“, so is this about not sharing, or about keeping the data non-sharable. There is part that we see when we look at the quote “Mr Obama is backing the creation of information sharing and analysis organisations (ISAOs) to help firms and government share material on potential threats“, yes, if we consider that Snowden fellow there could be issue, but is that a valid path? You see, consider how some do NOT want the cyber threat to reduce for the largest extent, consider how many software ‘solutions’ are out there, for viruses, phishing attacks, identity theft and several other parts. There are two dangers, at one part we have a possible solution to theoretically start solving and decently diminish the danger, the other side is on how all that data gets linked, that part in the wrong hands is a lot more dangerous than many could imagine.

The following quote adds to the worry: “Government cannot do this alone. But the fact is that the private sector can’t do it alone either because its government that often has the latest information on new threats” My issue is that this should not in the hands of any private part, it could be seen as the execution of the premise ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’, those who face that lesson will not have an option. I would see a solution if there was collaboration between NSA, GCHQ, DGSE and a select few more. Reasoning? Cybercrimes have a distinct impact on national income and also national tax donations. They have all the drive to get it resolved. I have less faith in private companies, their allegiance is to profit, their board of directors and more profit. This is the issue as they will do what they need, someone falls on a sword and many get extremely wealthy, the data goes everywhere and many become exploitable, classifiable and re-sellable. I have been in data for decades, I think that governments can do what needs to be done, and it is time to change the cycle of re-iterated profit. Governments have made themselves the bitch of the private industries, the three mentioned initially is not enough, consider the quote down the line “Facebook, Yahoo, Google and Microsoft have all sent less senior executives to the conference“, so why was Microsoft not mentioned earlier? What is going on? The interesting part is that Bloomberg mentions Microsoft several times, the BBC article just twice. It is clear that something needs to be done on several levels, but it takes a different scope and a different approach, I feel decently certain that keeping the private touch out of this will be essential, for the reason that private companies have a mere commercial scope. I feel uncertain that this approach will work, it has not worked for a long time; I have seen ego and political play and personal reasoning interfere with results, in more than one nation. Whatever is done, it needs to be done, it needs to be done a lot faster than many consider and even though taking the politician out of a government seems to be impossible, we need to make sure that an approach is considered that does not allow for political exploitation, but how to get that done is another matter entirely.


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Fraud, deception or Ignorance in IT Safety?

Fraud, deception or Ignorance in IT Safety?
Again it was the Dutch NOS last night that gave me the idea of reflection on today’s blog. Their newscast and articles on NOS.nl is all about cybercrime. The news was that last year (October 2012), cyber criminals using the botnet Citadel was able to acquire over 750 GB of data. The data is coming from computers involving the Energy industry, Media corporations, Hospitals, Universities and airlines. The data seems to have gone to eastern European cyber criminals. Over 150.000 computers infected in the Netherlands alone.
Watching it, you could see login details, passwords, network layouts, detailed notes from a doctor and the medication prescribed. The amount of information was staggering! I looked a little further into this botnet. Its name is Citadel. It seems to be an ingenious piece of work. This is something the NSA, GCHQ or the FSB and several other Boy Scout units of a governmental type. When looking at the info, there was an implied strength that it could go passed and ignores many anti-virus systems. When looking at my own provider, there was an interesting lack of information regarding this botnet.
So we are looking at a three edged sword.
Are anti-viral protectors committing fraud? When looking at a Norton protection plan, and I see the green ‘Secure’ sign. Am I really secured? Tracy Kitten from Bankinfo security wrote: “Segura notes that hackers claim PCs relying on anti-virus solutions from Microsoft Security Essentials, McAfee, and Norton were infected. ‘That’s kind of worrisome,’ he says. ” So, am I paying for security I am not receiving?
It seems that this secure statement is also a case of deception. My Norton anti-virus states a secure setting, yet, citadel was initially designed to collect bank information for cyber criminals. From the two facts earlier, I must also conclude that the banks have been insincere to me on more than one occasion (big surprise I know). They claim safety and security, whilst 150.000 computers in the Netherlands seem to prove the opposite. Especially considering that banks have been trimming down on staff because much more goes on-line, yet there is no clear information that the cyber divisions of the financial industry is making any kind of strong progress. The BBC stated on Oct 10, 2012, that GBP 341 million was acquired through card fraud in 2011. The events involving Citadel imply that the losses in 2011 are not likely to go down any day soon.
Last is about Ignorance. That would be you the reader and me. These anti-viral dealers leave us with a false sense of security while we are charged $70-$100 a year, whilst it lowers intrusions, but not remove the threat. I must confess that we are all likely a lot safer with then without anti-viral protection. So stopping anti-virus protection is the worst of ideas.
I feel slightly safer as I have always refused any kind of on-line banking option. From the 90’s I knew that their X-25 protocols had several weak spots, which is now getting me to the last part of this.
If Windows is so weak, volatile and easily transgressed upon, then the dozens of security updates seem little more than a smoke screen. I reckon a lot of us should seriously consider moving to another system like Linux. Linux has proven to be a very secure system. We used to consider Apple to be very secure as it was a Unix based system, which has all matters of security or a much higher level than Windows ever had. However, that it is now an INTEL based system with Microsoft attachments makes me wonder if it remained that secure.
What is my issue with this all is that Yesterday’s news on Citadel was known with the Dutch cyber security for months, and little was done, the newscast even mentioned that many had not been alerted to this danger. I reckon that IF there is truth on transgression on ‘secured’ systems, we need to consider the dangers of connected networks. This likely endangered the infrastructure, and it definitely endangered personal information of millions. With that state of mind, how should we see the security of corporate and personal systems in the UK, US and Australia?
Consider that the implied ignoring of Cyber security is mentioned (but unproven as far as the validity of sources go). Yet, when I seek places like Norton, I get no answer (connection was reset). If we can believe people like Tracy Kitten then the financial sector that relies on massive internet presence, we are in serious trouble. On the other side is the opinion showing on the NOS site by Professor Michel van Eeten from the TU Delft. It is not really created to a directed attack. He compared it to a buck shot into the internet. It was designed to acquire login, passwords and bank details.
My issue is the fact that 150.000 systems were infected! The one flaw in the NOS newscast is the absence of the cyber safety factor. Whether Common Cyber Security was used by those infected. If so, then why are these questions not openly directed at the makers of Norton Anti-Virus, McAfee, Kaspersky and a league of other Cyber Safety providers?


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