Sunday, 14. May 2017
Slow down greed - don't wanna cry no more

So what's the current status on the Wanna Cry ransomware infection? Several hundred thousands of non-Windows-10 - also non-Linux & non-MacOS - PCs/laptops/servers may have been infected, making many of them useless due to important files having been scrambled. For many of these, apparently no functioning backups exist! Microsoft has recently finally/correspondingly released a free complete security update (no. KB4012598) for free download. All sorts of calls for more oversight and general control of the Internet - whatever that means, and does that include Internet-espionage government agencies?! - are now being made public...

In a current op ed in the New York Times some interesting ideas have been put forward, on how Microsoft and government could do much more to raise industry security standards.

One point not mentioned there, is that the fast release cycle for new operating systems, initiated at its current high-profit 3-4 year level by Microsoft* itself decades (!) ago, copied by all major op. system distributors since then, may also have contributed greatly to the current problem. All system administrators know why their bosses live by the motto NEVER CHANGE A RUNNING SYSTEM - because new software invariably contains new bugs, including doorways for exploits by viruses such as the current "big in the news" one. So, if an operating system, like Windows XP, has proved stable, it tends to be kept in use as long as possible.

Buggy software means unexpectedly high & sudden expenses.

The motto (in capitals, above) is also automatically enforced by another problem: The connecting interface** to applications - esp. big ones like database and document retrieval management systems - tends to also change whenever a major release to an operating system is installed. So, most application levels "sitting" on the op. system may have to be updated, then, too!

An upgrade always takes a lot more effort (= money) to apply than a smaller update of the current version.

So, maybe the rapidity of the whole innovation cycle is the problem. Or rather, it is part of a self-regulating overall system that will cause massive failure of partly important systems, if a more appropriate balance between release cycles and need for innovation is not found...

I am not against innovation, but it could use more stabilisation and good testing. Any software engineer can tell a story supporting that.

We are part of the world, and thus so are the things we make within the world. And the world has regulated itself for a long, long time.

Let's - especially us i.t. guys - get with the rhythm!

(* in collusion with Intel, I feel /
** API or "system calls")

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Tuesday, 18. April 2017
What all the hate eventually leads to - murderous greed

Molly Kyle of Osage County, Oklahoma A pretty mesmerising interview by the amazing Terry Gross today on Fresh Air i.a. told the story of beleaguered and betrayed Molly Kyle (pictured) of the Osage nation almost a century ago, in Oklahoma. Because the local tribe had been given a bit of land by edict of the then current U.S. president, only to find rich oil resources on Molly's part of the land - and surroundings - greedy & soulless white men moved in, married the women to get a legal title by marriage, and then proceeded to murder them - either quickly, e.g. by a gunshot to the back of the head, or slowly, by poisoning...

It's hard to grasp how bigotted these men - and U.S. society in general - were at that time, to have something like this happen over a relatively long time. How Osage natives were treated judicially as only partial citizens, as incapable of managing their own wealth, and finally as a bloody means to oil barony. At round about the time one of my favourite novels was being written: The Great Gatsby.

But then, only a decade later, my own nation was gearing up to give even greater & far more vicious murderers absolute power over millions of people, and killing many of them after stripping them and their kin of all means of earning income, then of all they owned, then of their lives!

So, as a German, a child of children who lived at that time, all I can really do - with singular vigour - is point out just how deadly hate & bigotry can become. We are living at a time, when we've been living a good life in the 1st World for several decades, on average... so now we look idly on, as every 5th or 4th person surrounding us - together with attention-greedy "big" politicians - is kick-starting the great & bloody hate machine again: In the United Kingdom break'xiting away; in the U.S.A. to help an old redneck surf a wave of whining hate into the vicinity of the nuclear football; in France in just a few days to decide on the fate of the EU.

We can. Or we can gear up - with thousandfold vigour - for another, more global "no hate" campaign!

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Saturday, 25. March 2017
Science fiction pomp rant, promptly silenced

I suppose a generally well-readable new novel by a German fantasy great, laid out & backgroundwise couched in some pomp (to align it with the "royal" precursors Star Wars & Dune?), as well as indications by a non-s.f.-consuming friend that I might be reading too many comics, made me wonder whether musical themes of s.f.(-like) movies might not also be worthy of a more critical listen...

So, apology to the virtual mentor of this blog (cf. blog name) up front, I herewith go into rant mode on a random sample of three. ('Tis fun!)

Zimmer's hammering on the new Batman trilogy

When you hear the blare of Mr. Zimmer's fanfare theme for the best detective in the (comic) world, your manly cockles - insofar as you possess some - rise. You think of your hard life, trying to retain some semblance of ethics in surroundings of great egotism, especially by your male colleagues/friends - "see how (much better) I do things, isn't it great?!". Of how you train at night, with just your computer - and perhaps some small flying mammals for company - to keep your mind focussed, as well as open for new scientific aids to a more reasoned & reasonable life! You vow to battle against hate & humans turned by it, and hope some cat-like wisewoman will pick you out of your funk, and carry you away to Paris. Macho factor: 6 out of 10 cockles.

Strauss's super triumphal fanfare at the 'dawn'

Kubrick didn't trust modern composers to give his "good s.f. film" - his challenge to author Clarke at the inception - a truly grand tonal accompaniment. So he opted in Strauss, and his operatic ode to a German superman, dreamt up by radical thinker Nietzsche... Earth & moon roll out an ever louder crescendo - the rising sun gets the heavily beaten timpanies. All of this right at the beginning to break your protective awe sheath and get you wallowing deferentially the rest of the movie!

Goldsmith's introduction of the new warlike Klingons

Hey, Star Wars reanimated the s.f. movie scene with its wild action and special effects, so no wonder the Trekkies at 20th C. Fox decided to add a little more "Wars" to their franchise, when they finally saw a profit margin for a first Trek movie, little later! The pepper in the philosophy soup was this hair-raisingly simple scene introducing the new "fiercer look" Klingons - getting clobbered by their own special methods of diplomacy... Rrrrang-ring-rang!

Zimmer's ode to a Wonderful fem icon

(This one hasn't really started yet. The ranter stares, seeming to have lost his voice. Steadily, as the e-guitar wails on, on the advent of Truth, tears come to his eyes...)

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