Thursday, December 30, 2004

XP What a crock of shite

I've just installed my first XP box on my home network. It was one of the most painful experiences I have had in recent times. To convince it that I do know what I am doing when it comes to network security and access (namely SAMBA) it tells me to fuck off and that it knows better. I get the impression it is better if you are running an XP domain, but I am not and I do not want to, but as an IT professional I know what I am doing, convincing XP that is nest to impossiable. God I hate Microsoft. For crying out load let me use my machine as I want to! You do not know better. By all means set up defaults to protect the unaware, but make it easy to configure usage, access and permissions to my needs. Never assume that the setup is fully under your control, Bill you are a moron. It is far easier for a malicous hacker to control my machine (XP SP2) than me and I have the right to do so.
If it wasn't for my need to run
  • Shockwave
  • VPN to an XP network
XP and Microsoft will be outta here. Long live FC3 and all the rest. It's gotta be better than some prick in Redmond telling me how to run my network.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Another QTAC innovation

It was simple, really. A minor path to the behind the scenes batch processes. A new library file for the batch process to run. A small change, a bug fix really.
So I rsync the distribution directory (which is rsync'd from QTAC) with the working directory. Systems fail all over the place. JCBridge breaks completely and needs a restart, users can no longer log in. The log in process goes through the JCBridge to make it faster because:
Connection con = DriverManager.getConnection(url, userID, password); takes too long to execute!
It takes only a few seconds to shutdown the server and restart, particularly as we have written a script to do it for us, in the correct order, to keep the cache being executed in the correct way, but still! A new patch to a library batch process kills the users connections! Question still on the cards: Why are we using this software?

Monday, December 20, 2004

Sharks and stuff

Adelaide's local parochial newspaper The Advertiser has a feed back section I read it today, I rarely do, I was reminded why.
Recently an 18 year man was taken by a shark of an Adelaide beach. The response to this has been fifty/fifty. Half of the respondants understand the situation and say leave the shark alone; the other half are a bunch of loosers.
The man's father has said that the shark does not deserve to die. If you really want to live on this planet, you have to take risks. You can remain inside your home, order you supplies over the phone, but you risk them not coming, or being wrong. If you go out you risk injury and death.
Everything we do has an inherent risk, we cannot eliminate it all, but that's the point. At all times we weigh up the risks against the advantages, "Is it worth the risk?" we ask ourselves. If it's worth it, then we do it, if not we don't, and each one of us is different in what we accept. Now consider that none of those useless morons who want to kill the shark want to ban cars, alcohol or tobacco and more people are killed by these every year then shark.
Lets start by removing the real threats to life and limb; Wars, John W. Howard, George W. Bush, Cars, Drugs(Of all sorts), Ozone depleting chemicals, Water, Earth, Trees, Oxygen, Fire, Electricity, Religion, Dogs; the list goes on and on. All of these are way above shark.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

I give up, really...

I have just had one of those days. The bash script I wrote and ran on the test server to upgrade to the latest QTAC distribution failed. It ran correctly on the test server, on the main server it failed because of the shite that is Ingres. No details here; ask me, via comments, if you are interested.

Unfortunately the script was one of those run once only type things as it destroys the original structures and creates new ones in their place. I have a backup, needless to say, but that is beside the point. It failed, I fixed, I fixed again, I looked at the log, I undid, I fixed and it ran. It failed on one old database(which I will address on Monday), but it is all in place.

Execute the new version of the application - all is fine, look into the obscure logging for that application and see "cannot cache forced_offer_reasons table does not exist or is not owned by you". And hey, it's right, the table doesn't exist. QTAC failed to mention that one, now we have trouble calculating fields(yes, I know, but if I explained first stage normalisation to QTAC their heads would explode). No errors at the front end, that all looks fine. So now, I have to write a script to create that table and run it against 11 databases.

Questions asked are:

  • If they failed to tell us this, what else do they leave out?

  • If the errors aren't reported fully, what are we missing?

  • Can I convince QTAC to normalise/redesign before I go completely insane?

  • What is the point of having the "cache_control" table, specifically designed to slow the system down and cuase us more headaches, when there is no entry on it that says to cache the forced_offer_reason table?

  • Do QTAC add tables without thinking (Yes) and then loose track of their purpose and forget about them?

  • Why do we have yet another table which is a simple valid values look up table there are dozens on each database and one would do?

  • Why the smeg are we still using Ingres?

And once more,

  • Why don't UniSA et al consider OASys a threat to our core business?

It is a testimony to the staff at SATAC that they get it right every year.


This post is quite slanderous, I know, but just give me a chance to show everyone in a public forum.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Who spys on the spybots?

This from slash dot, it appears the Australian Police have been given powers to tap your computer. They can, with a warrant, install spyware on your home computers without your knowledge. Once again a Benjamin Franklin quote springs to mind:

Someone who gives up an amount of liberty for security deserves neither.


What are they thinking? Why didn't the ALP stop this, question this or, it seems, even read this? This is crap!

So What's Wrong?

Anyone who argues that if you have nothing to hide, what's the problem? Simple really, what if they decide to pass a law in the interests of security that makes it illegal to gather in a group of more than four people or view this posting as the type of critisism that is a prelude to terrorist activity and make this illegal?

Perhaps I email a friend that I intend to leave the house this evening with only $10 in my wallet (odd hting to post out, but hey..) I could get arrested for vagrancy!

Do We Trust Them?

Further more; do you really trust these people to keep within the original bounds of this law? We are looking down the barrel of 1984, book burning, thought police etc. How specific is this? If you scan one of my hard drives you will find at least one item that is illegal,well was illegal, to have; read "The Hacker Crackdown" by Bruce Sterling and you will know what it is. You will also find a series of plans that involve the potential destruction of a large city, and one item that is anti-religious. Except the illegal article, they are all either short stories or chapters of novels I am working on.


There are a number of cameras around Adelaide that are meant to be there to protect us "For you safety". Is this because violent crime is on the way up? No, because it isn't. Is it because the can find criminals just walking down the street? No, they cannot. Are they there to curb the amount of vandalism? No, there aren't. Just what are they looking out for? Violent crime reporting is up, violent crime is down. No, they are there because someone somewhere thought "What if...?" and came up with a solution to a non-existent problem.

A Real Problem

Are these people looking for key words of is there to be some intelligence behind it.
Key word and phrase searches will cause problems; consider the phrase "child sex" if that is blocked or flagged as evil you stop all of the web-sites entitled "Child sex victim support group". If you check up on anyone posting about terrorism and bombing, you pretty much eliminate all news papers. Perhaps they just check for "Osama bin Laden", which means we will only ever get FOX news feeds.

I get hundreds of e-mails a day, keeping me informed about the goings and comings of our business. Of these I need to action maybe four or five a day. There is way too much information to concentrate of it all, it tends to be glossed over and I search for specifics. I have missed a couple of important things over the last couple of months because there is too much information. You cannot, seriously, except to analyse the data coming in to find threats. You can only find specific information types, like credit card numbers, pins, passwords etc. Consider this:
I will be painting my outhouse in "Maximum Green" on December 13th next year.
It's not a threat to anyone, is it?


I give advanced warning: If I find spyware on anyone's computer it goes, I will not care how it got there, it's gone.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Mod Chips - Are they a threat?

Simply put: No.

Most console mods I know of are to multi-zone the DVD capabilities not to pirate games. In fact I have seen my nephews get quite angry at the idea of pirating games.

In Australia it is border line illegal to sell zoned players, all it needs is a supreme court discission that put two pieces of legislation together(Copyright Ammendment Act 1992 and Trade Practices Act 1972) for it to be made illegal. These make it legal to parallel import movies and music, and illegal to restrict choice. So all we really need is to show that there is a DVD with different options/extras from a different zone, easily done, or there is no way of getting Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in zone 4 (It's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone over here) or even that in zone 4 the Movie is in PAL format which gives you 25fps play back and not NTSC where it is the original 24fps.

It is quite straight forward really, zoning is illegal in Australia.

The ACCC has ruled that modding a Sony Play Station is fine, but it is still illegal to copy games.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A small rant

I cannot believe I am sitting at work running a restore on an Ingres database because the suplliers of our software do not use version controls/cannot design software to save their life/do not have a clue about release schedules.
Seriously, we are approaching the most impartant time of the year and they send us a major upgrade, if we don't do this, we don't get to have minor bug fixes. It is insane. Each time we do this I have to change the back end structures and as we use slightly different database rules and procedures to them it is possible for me to screw the entire thing up if I follow their instructions to the letter.
It isn't made any easier by the fact that we have eleven databases, all of which need to be updated in the same way and some processes I need to create a script, edit the script and execute the script seperately for each database.
All this due to crap database design and crap software design.
Remind me again why this situation isn't considered a threat to our core business?
Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Is it Saudi Arabia's Turn Next?

Forget the threat to the US(oops, my bad, I meant the free world) from Iran's weapons of mass destruction, the next war will be in Saudi Arabia. After all the terrorism against US personnel is on the increase add to that the government sanctioned killings, the human right attrocities, the links to known terrorist organisations; any one of which would have had the US bully boys moving in to protect the oil(Oops, my bad, I meant the people). So is a war against Saudi Arabia a reality? Hell no! They are our friends.

Really it's not the same as Sadam Hussein, honest, after all Sadam at least paid lip service to the idea of a secular government.

Ingres Has Its Limits

Unfortunately we run an Ingres database for our internal systems.
Fortunately our web stuff uses SQLServer 2000 for its backend so we have a workaround for one of Ingres' major limitations(You know there is a problem when you are praising the quality of a Microsoft product). Ingres does not allow cross catalog joins, you can set up a distributed database but that requires an insane amount of work and repeated definitions.

The solution:

  • Set up Ingres ODBC on the Windows 2K server.

  • Make sure it auto starts etc.

  • Add an ODBC entry for each Ingres database you wish to access.

  • Go into SQLServer Enterprise manager.

  • Add a remote server for each ODBC entry with appropriate security access.

The sql

select *
from RemoteServerName1..schema.tablename1 as a
inner join RemoteServerName2..schema.tablename2 as b
on a.pkfield = b.pkfield

now works.
We now have the ability to do cross catalog joins on an Ingres database server.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Diminished Responsibility

Today's subject is: Office toilet toilet rolls.
It takes no effort to change them, particularly when there are new ones sitting in view, but people do not. It's like smokers who believe that cigarette butts are not litter or coffee drinkers who don't believe that teaspoons need cleaning. People who refuse to take their supermarket trolley to a returns area despite it being a few feet away.

All these people seem to think it is someone else's problemand, god forbid, if you actually call them up on it they abuse you.

It's all part of being in a large group and figuring someone else will clean it up or replace it or return it. Mostly it's all about not getting caught, which explains the abuse if you do actually catch them. Not taking responsability for your own actions is no way to behave. You come over as a complete moron, as opposed to someone who simply made a mistake.

We've all grown up in a well established society, if you don't want to play by the rules (ie a quick thought as to the consequences of your actions) then feel free to leave society behind. That means electricity, water, clothes, food, cigarettes, internet access, etc. If you want to play here, play fair, clean up after yourself, have the strength to say sorry occasionally, admit mistakes. It is all give and take here just be sure that you balance of give and take is even.