General interests that may or may not fit anywhere else.

Ridiculous and Stupid Computer Prophecies That Simply Won’t Die

I’m including this in general because it fits in several different categories all to do with computers. I’d actually go so far as to say that this happens outside of technology. But regardless of where it is, it is almost always utterly ridiculous and completely stupid. The idea goes that something will die out. Yet these statements are claimed over and over again, ad infinitum, despite the fact they are all illogical. Maybe it is because these would-be fortune tellers want there prophecy to come true but that doesn’t make it any more realistic.

This will not be in any specific order but for each I will give my thoughts on said prediction and why it is ridiculous, stupid and illogical. Some predictions I am especially bemused by and it is is quite obvious from what I wrote below.

Eradication of Spam

The first one is from 2004 when Bill Gates predicted that spam will be wiped out in two years time. I remember reading this at the time but I saw it recently by chance. It would be nice but as I’ve written about before, as long as there exists one person that responds to the spam in some way, it is worth it to the spammers. But let’s be honest: more than one person does exactly this just like more pay up for ransomware attacks. The reality is spam isn’t going anywhere. Tactics will change to account for ways to try to help mitigate spam but spam itself is still strong. The mitigation methods aren’t exactly that successful, either. Spam filtering is the best of the lot in the matter and it is impossible to get right 100% of the time (and this is with text mails; then consider the tricks of the entire message being in an image or images). HTML in email makes this even worse (and it is unfortunately something that is rather commonplace) in what it allows (hyperlinks themselves is one thing but embedded HTML is another entirely).  No Bill, spam isn’t going anywhere,  I’m sorry to say. The prediction that it would go away is like predicting littering will cease to occur (and sadly this will never happen because as I’ve recently pointed out, humans have a serious disregard for the planet). It just won’t happen.

Computer Mice Will Die

I seem to recall this, anyway, and all I can think of is that these predictors believed that with pens (whatever those input devices are called) there would be no need for the mouse. But that’s not how it works. Not everyone will want the alternative input methods and not every input method is appropriate for all types of input, funnily enough. The mouse will never be abandoned and that’s all there is to it. The sole exception is if manufacturers work together to ensure that mice can’t function and no mice will be replaced. But yet nowadays mice are often USB enabled and so good luck with getting rid of that capability.

Keyboards Will Become Obsolete

I really, really, really, and I do mean really, get laughs out of this one. It is so utterly stupid and ridiculous it is hard to believe anyone would make this claim. But it has been claimed many times over the years, and each time it is equally as stupid. Let’s see why that might be, shall we?

Typists can somehow type faster than they can speak. This is rather obvious to anyone who has spent much time around computers, but it apparently isn’t enough. If I were to speak at the rate I type, I would be considered manic and frankly it would be extremely difficult to follow my thoughts (the reality is my thoughts are already hard to follow, especially if spoken but through typing I can look back at it and fix any mistakes at another time – you can’t not say something you already said, can you? Granted you can’t change archives but you can at least fix any unfair thoughts and you can improve upon what you wrote before – this is sometimes called ‘editing’). This is despite the fact that my typing has gone bad in recent years. The reality is my fingers are a lot faster, accurate and more efficient than speaking. But then you have people that enter data in to databases. The syntax might not be easily spoken. Then there is the example where thoughts flow naturally in a persons’ head but not if spoken. This might occur when writing a book, for example, or perhaps the thoughts aren’t completely there (enough to speak) but are still there in some form (enough to put down in order to develop later). Oh, and yes, I’ve left two things out. First, to get rid of keyboards one would have to speak and yet software isn’t perfect (and never will be) and so it won’t get things right all the time (and without keyboards what do you do to fix these mistakes? In fact, how will you write the software to interpret the spoken words to translate into text?! That itself should say enough). While this might not be for many people, my mother works at her computer and watches TV at the same time. She’s also watched TV, crocheted and read a book all at once. No, that isn’t a fabrication, and yes she was able to follow everything and what she was crocheting had no problems, either. The TV is important: people on TV tend to be so rude as to talk (sometimes more than one person at the same time). Obviously that is sarcasm. Forget the fact that it would be hard to speak the letter you’re typing in while watching TV, how would the software discern what is being said by what person (or thing)? No, voice recognition won’t solve the problem with 100% satisfaction. My doctor recently showed me his dictaphone (that could input to a computer) and unsurprisingly it was very easy to make the input turn to gibberish. After I demonstrated this he even said that he has to tell patients this fact (he  showed me after I laughed at his inability to find the keys on the keyboard, even though I was far enough away for my poor vision to discern things well, I knew what he was trying to type and I knew his fingers were in the wrong place – by a lot). Then there is the best part. Computer programming. Oh yes, no keyboards would be a killer to this important task. Many will say that some of it can be automated but I challenge them to look at more advanced C code until it sinks in a bit. No, no and no, keyboards aren’t ever going to be obsoleted. Anything to the contrary is ridiculous and stupid.

Passwords Will Be Obsoleted

This is another fun one. The theory goes that passwords are the weakest chain in the link (hint: they aren’t; what is the weakest link is those who create passwords, reuse, share with others, write them down and list goes on and on – i.e. humans are the weakest link, not passwords) and there have been so many problems with them over the years. Or another one I’ve read is that they are no longer sufficient. Well sorry to break it to these bogus fortune tellers but they were never sufficient by themselves! They were always a weak part of the security chain. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have uses. They do. And people suggesting emojis as the replacement are completely blind – literally and figuratively. Tell me, how is a blind person going to know the difference? Tell me also, what about those who can’t really distinguish one image from another (faces being the common example even if the name of the problem is at my fingertips but not quite available, it is a known phenomenon), or has an easier time remembering text over images? And what about password managers which allow for (when used properly in the right environment) far more secure, longer, complex passwords than some stupid combination of images (I might remind you of shoulder surfing). Any organisation that removes passwords outright is woefully naive and is risking security. This is just like how passwords are limited in what characters are allowed, or only allowing a length of 16, say, characters. It’s stupid. Funny story: once upon a time I was making an account on a nameless website like and, when forced to enter a password hint/question I input something like: ‘password questions/hints are insecure’. Then, when creating a password, I got an error. I tried it twice (removed one class then the next) before it occurred to me what the problem was: they were only allowing alphanumerical characters. I’m thrilled I had made the remark about password hints at this time but I was not at all impressed in such weak password policies (passwords are weak as it is and by removing non-alphanumerical characters you make it much weaker).

Biometrics Will Take Over

Yes, well all I can say is this: your DNA is your DNA and it has already been demonstrated that fingerprints (and maybe even images of) left on something can actually be used to compromise the supposedly safer system (‘protected’ by biometrics). Oh, and just to throw out another problem: some people (rarity is irrelevant) have more than one DNA. No, this is not a lie. It’s called genetic chimeras, named after the mythological creature. Only a fool would assume it will never be a problem.

Anti-Virus Software and Firewalls Will Be Obsoleted

I saw this just today. The scary thing is that the person writing this at Tripwire is actually suggesting the possibilities based on incorrect perceptions of what security is (it is always a multi-layered thing):

If the decline in antivirus use happens, it will largely be from greater use of whitelisting, or application control, on computers and mobile devices. While whitelisting is a capability many computers have had for years, only recently has it become a default setting. Whitelisting basically works by preventing programs with certain identified harmful signatures from running on a piece of equipment.

No, the reason anti-virus isn’t used is because people seem to believe that it isn’t needed – a theory you are conveniently improving the chances of survival. Whitelisting isn’t used by default you say? That might be for Windows and MacOS but the reality is those aren’t the only operating systems around, and just because something is the default doesn’t mean it stays that way. Not addressing the issue is being irresponsible (even if through ignorance) and to use irresponsibility as evidence is idiotic. But here’s the most ironic thing: what you’re describing with whitelisting with respect to computer programs is exactly what anti-virus software does! What do you think the virus signature databases are? I’ll go further, though: you’re not talking about whitelists; you’re talking about blacklists and those defy the wisdom of: that that which is not explicitly permitted is forbidden. No, a whitelist would be deny everything by default and only allow what is explicitly allowed (hence whitelist, not blacklist). (As an afterthought, maybe you’re trying to say that whitelisting only allows software which isn’t known to be malicious, but that then is a poor choice of wording  – something I have admittedly been guilty of). But this concept is irrelevant to anti-virus software as a whole because anti-virus software also has heuristics (for example) which protects against unknown malware by examining what the potential malware does (and how it does it). This is why software that generates keys to some product is sometimes flagged as malicious when it only is using techniques that viruses also use (of which there are many). Yes, that means it is a false positive but it could have been malicious software that wasn’t a known virus. You see, this is why it is a multiple-layered concept.

Companies like Apple and Microsoft haven’t used whitelisting as a default setting to give users the freedom to run any program on their machines, but that attitude is quickly changing.

Yet here you’re describing whitelist correctly. I’ve not seen evidence to support whitelisting or blacklisting being the default under these operating systems, one way or another but I will say this: saying you can only use software that is flagged as valid will cause upset and potentially backfire in that people will find workarounds. You see, complete convenience and security are mutually exclusive (and the more convenience there is, the less security there is) and it is why you have to find the right balance (which can be really hard because humans will go to any lengths to make things even a little bit easier). When you don’t find the right balance the security becomes worse because of people being annoyed by the inconvenience of it all. Yes, people really like (if not require) convenience. This shouldn’t be surprising. Incidentally, I’m going to point out also that Apple’s Gatekeeper has been circumvented by malware and has been described completely broken by a researcher. Perhaps you see now why your supposed method isn’t a replacement for anti-virus? One hopes so.

Similar to antivirus programs, firewalls may soon become obsolete thanks to advances in other technologies.

Augment, not replace. No, firewalls are not becoming obsolete and any claim to the contrary is stupid and harmful. Yet you don’t really talk about the supposed replacements which makes your statements much worse. I return to your thoughts:

While firewalls still persist to this day, many aren’t even configured and feature far too permissive rules to be of much use. Firewalls are proving to be outpaced by the use of HTTPS network connections. In addition to that, many of the attacks firewalls are best designed to stop have ceased to be much of a problem. Plus, firewalls do a poor job preventing attacks from social engineering and unpatched software.

Yes, many are too permissive. That goes for things other than firewalls, too. I would like to think then that you understand whitelisting versus blacklisting but you demonstrated otherwise (or you have a very different idea of what black and white is). And indeed, a poorly configured firewall is in many respects worse for security. But for some really odd reason, a properly configured firewall is better for security! Now the obvious question: what the hell does HTTPS have to do with replacing firewalls?! That is such a scary statement it is something I don’t want to believe was stated (but was). You note that not all servers have web servers. You note also that they still have firewalls. You note that clients also use firewalls!! There are other protections in place, too, because once again it is a many layered thing! And no, the attacks have not ceased to be problems (but it seems you don’t understand what firewalls are designed for in the first place, as below) but even if they have, only a foolish, reckless administrator would say: “Well this attack is hardly ever seen in the wild nowadays so we’ll not even worry about it!” – that is completely stupid and counter-productive! Oh, and for the record: firewalls were never designed to prevent social engineering and vulnerable software! Those are different problems entirely. To think that you would use this as reasons they aren’t good is just crazy scary.

With fewer reasons to use firewalls, they will likely become obsolete sometime in the future.

There aren’t fewer reasons to use firewalls; any statement to the contrary would only make attacks easier (and this isn’t restricted to pentests!) – something I’m sure attackers would like a lot!

These security technologies have served some good uses in the past but holding onto outdated technology only increases the risks you’ll face in the future.

No, they are not outdated and not using them will increase the risks “you’ll face in the future”!

Hackers change up their tactics with incredible frequency, and companies need to be on top of that by adopting better security technology. There’s no reason to hold onto a ten year old server when converged infrastructure is a reality, and there’s no reason to think passwords are the best way to keep cyber attackers out when better measures are available.

I’m ignoring the first word of that paragraph. Yes, attackers change tactics. Obviously. Who would think otherwise? Is this any different from crime other than cyber crime? Of course not. But getting rid of these so-called obsoleted technologies is a disaster waiting to happen. Mark my words. Once again you fail to understand that security is a many-layered thing. Better security would be accomplished by remembering these things work together, are not obsolete, are still very relevant, and they are all part of a much bigger picture. The fact you also (presumably an honest mistake? I’m sure I’ve done similar) refer to passwords in this topic makes your points even more questionable (as if there isn’t enough legit reason to question them).

No, better technology is not available, and there isn’t a single (the keyword!) way to keep attackers out. There never has been and never will be. It’s as simple as that.

All businesses should consider carefully where they go with security in the years to come

No. Everyone should carefully consider security (and other disasters and disaster-recovery!) in general, not only in (or rather for) the future but right now. Living in the future (preparing for the future is different) is just as stupid as living in the past (and it also means you miss out on things happening now e.g. a live probe or attack).

The Americans That Cry ‘Terrorist’

2015/09/21: Apparently no charges were brought in the first place. Changed the below to account for this. It is also reported that it wasn’t his teacher who was concerned but instead another teacher. But a teacher is a teacher nonetheless and discrimination is still discrimination – for an adult to do so to a 14 year old is pathetic but one I’m (and I’m sure many others) not unfamiliar with, sadly. It is humbling to see that many have jumped to the support of this kid – including a movement on Twitter by a 23 year old psychology student called Amneh Jafari. I for one appreciate this as a general thing – too many ignore discrimination and bullying, and it causes all sorts of problems down the road for everyone (that most people never think about, understand or even care enough to do anything about it).
2015/09/20: More fixes, adjustments and clarifications.
2015/09/19: Clarified some points and added a few thoughts. Additional links and several fixes.

This is a very contentious topic – and one that I have included parts of, in other areas. For instance, there is irony that governments tend to scaremonger about terror itself. What terror is is (perhaps extreme?) fear and fear is an emotion. Emotion is easy to manipulate and strong emotions (fear is a very strong and powerful emotion) more so: if you know what terrifies someone or people, it is incredibly easy to instil that fear. You don’t need to be violent to terrorise people. You can terrify someone by making them think you’re planning something horrible against them (even if the only horrible thing you’re doing is making them believe you will be doing something horrible). The fact nations take away liberty to offer ‘safety’ shows just how easy it is to manipulate human emotion (I’m looking at the United States of America here). Terrorism is simply an ideal and therefore you cannot ever defeat it; it is impossible: this has been shown again and again (even though it should be obvious without any proof) – the so-called ‘war on terror’ only adds fuel to the fire; if someone declares war on you or someone (or something) you care about, it gives them all the more reason to believe you are indeed against them, and therefore they do indeed have an enemy that they must defend themselves from. Why would you want them to think that? Maybe so you can justify interrogation through torture or some equally inhumane, unethical and immoral thing that you would bitch about if it was done (for any reason at all) by a country like, say, North Korea? Perhaps it wasn’t planned as such but that is exactly what happened anyway! Which is incredibly stupid, isn’t it, when you consider how desperation (e.g. from torture) quite obviously affects people as well as the story of Hanns Scharff of the Luftwaffe of Nazi Germany (who treated POWs with kindness and got much more intelligence from it)? All of what happened at Guantanamo Bay is made worse because innocents were detained and detainees weren’t necessarily charged with a crime at all! The reality is that terrorism as it is typically abused[1] as, is, has always been and always will be a state sponsored thing (whether everyone sees it or not doesn’t change the fact).

But what comes along with it, typically? Xenophobia. To be completely honest, however, a phobia is a fear and people do the craziest, most stupid things ever, when they are afraid (I’ve witnessed the same with love but not from personal experience). For instance, taking away liberties in attempt to gain security and safety but which actually only tells ‘terrorists’ – is it a terrorist or is it a terrorist? – they won. Congratulations America, on ignoring history (Benjamin Franklin perhaps?) and the ‘Patriot Act’.  And people hate the unknown. Look up xenophobia, think about it a bit more and you can see that it isn’t just a fear; it is a hate of foreigners (maybe because of fear but it still results in prejudicial hate). And because of this, it is easy to spread fear (hence it being a tactic by politicians); it comes in a variety of forms but it is always a very powerful – and incredibly easy – way to manipulate others into getting your own way. This is visible throughout the world. I just came across a very sad, very real example of this (specifically xenophobia and more specifically Islamophobia), though. A pathetic example of it.

A 14 year old was arrested in Texas for bringing his teacher a home made clock! Yes, a 14 year old brought his teacher a clock he made and was arrested! And what is his faith? The one that many associate as ‘terrorist’ and only ‘terrorist’: he is a Muslim. The fact he was released is irrelevant; he shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place – he should have been praised for his intelligence and creativity but instead of impressing the teacher (which is what should have happened) it terrified (actually, I’m not sure this is really true – I admit I could be wrong but I suspect it is more than fear) her enough to have him arrested. There is nothing but prejudice and stereotyping here, both of which come from weakness, fear and ultimately hate (and I used to have a huge amount of hate, anger and spite for the world and yet… I see this). There is no reason to be scared of a 14 year old because they made a fucking clock. If this boy was a white Christian I seriously doubt he would have been subjected to this bullshit. If he was black he probably wouldn’t have been subjected to this bullshit, either. I would imagine an atheist would also be praised instead of condemned. I would go further and say that if he wasn’t a Muslim he probably wouldn’t have had any problem at all. Maybe I’m wrong – always a possibility – but in this case I seriously doubt it. And yes, it is fucking bullshit.

And I have news for those claiming Muslims are by definition terrorists (even ignoring the definition of terror). A neighbour of mine (or they were at one point) had a large family from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. They were Muslim. Yet they were the most kind, most open family – certainly religious family – I have ever met. Some will claim that they were good at hiding their obvious malice but they’re saying this out of ignorance and/or prejudice. We had a dog of pure bone and muscle weighing in 110lbs (as I recall, bigger than the average American grey wolf) – a dog that was very kind and protective, but a dog you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of (indeed every dog that was foolish enough – sometimes more than once – to attack her was taken down like a tank would against a snail, including a pitbull that charged my dog and me; the same went for humans – you did not cross that dog). But here’s the thing. They were terrified of dogs in general, yet they got over their fear to enter our house. No, they weren’t hiding anything at all. And they were treated like shit after the attacks on September 11 of 2001. Besides, did it ever occur to you that the Irish Republican Army (which most would call ‘terrorists’) aren’t Muslims? There are other examples, of course. Does the Reign of Terror in the French Revolution mean anything at all?

Just because a X is Y doesn’t mean all Y is X. That is a logical fallacy and nothing else.

Shame on you Texas police, and shame on the teacher. It is incredibly sad when stereotypes do not let others see anything else – the good and the bad that everyone has (and yes we all have good and bad). This story is taking human stupidity to exponential proportions.

[1] And yes, it is abused. Terrorist this, terrorist that, terrorist here, terrorist there and terrorist everywhere! Not all violent attacks are terrorism and not all terrorism is violence. Furthermore, you lose the credibility – at least to any decent, logical person – when you cry ‘terrorist’ for so many things, much like the Boy Who Cried Wolf (ironically there is the term ‘lone wolf’ to describe what they call terrorists acting on their own rather than part of an organisation). The reality is there has never been a time when people haven’t been terrified of something (including illnesses!). Similar is that the September 11 2001 attacks were not the first plane hijackings to occur but many tend to ignore this for some reason or another. It wasn’t even close to the first. Thank you very much Wikipedia for your excellent list of this very thing (there are far more examples than I knew of which just goes to show no matter how much you know, there is so much more you do not know!).

70 Year Anniversary of V-J Day

Just to clarify something. Japan’s surrender was not an immediate action (perhaps this isn’t surprising but you’ll find references to different days as being the day, but it was a many day process to be completely accurate). The official signing of the surrender was September 2. August 14th was the beginning of the surrender (more conflicts occurred between these dates). The speech below took place on the 15th. If you pay attention (which this year is probably much harder to not do) to current affairs, you’ll see references to V-J Day prior to September 2 (e.g. the 15th perhaps because the nation was addressed) but in the end, this was not an overnight event – it is – and always has been – a complicated war.


(Note: This most likely – I’m quite certain this is the case – includes some structural and/or disorganised flow of thoughts and as a result it might be harder to follow. I would delay this for another day but the day itself is significant enough to not consider this, at least for me.)

Earlier this year (May 2) I wrote about the end of the Battle of Berlin (and its surrender) which was shortly (May 8) followed by the surrender of Nazi Germany, resulting in V-E Day. I intended to write something about V-E Day but I never got around to it – which is unfortunate because I think there is a lot I could have written about. I also intended to write about ‘Little Boy’ (the name of the atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945) and ‘Fat Man’ (the name of the bomb dropped three days after Little Boy, over Nagasaki). But I felt a loss of words for the bombings that – along with the Soviet Union declaring war on Japan – ultimately led Emperor Shōwa (more commonly known as Hirohito) of Japan to order an immediate surrender of Japan (a coup that followed was foiled). Perhaps silence is the best way: the utter devastation and suffering these bombs inflicted upon Japan – and the world – is hard to fathom to this day. I think Emperor Hirohito’s speech holds significant value to this day, and even eternally:

To our good and loyal subjects:

After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in our Empire today, we have decided to effect a settlement of the
present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.

We have ordered our Government to communicate to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China, and the Soviet Union that our Empire accepts the provisions of their joint declaration.

To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well- being of our subjects is the solemn obligation that has been handed down by our Imperial Ancestors, and we lay it close to the heart.

Indeed, we declared war on America and Britain out of our sincere desire to ensure Japan’s self- preservation and the stabilisation of East Asia, it being far from our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandisement.

But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone– the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the
diligence and assiduity of our servants of the state and the devoted service of our 100 million people–the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s  advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.

Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilisation.

Such being the case, how are we to save the millions of our subjects, or to atone ourselves before the hallowed spirits of our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the joint declaration of the powers. We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to our allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the Empire toward the emancipation of East Asia.

The thought of those officers and men as well as others who have fallen in the fields of battle, those who died at their posts of duty, and those who met with death and all their bereaved families, pains our heart night and day.

The welfare of the wounded and the war sufferers, and of those who have lost their homes and livelihood is the object of our profound solicitude. The hardships and suffering to which our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great.

We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all you, our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable. Having been able to save and maintain the structure of the Imperial State, we are always with you, our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity.

Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion that may engender needless complications, and of any fraternal contention and strife that may create confusion, lead you astray and cause you to lose the confidence of the world.

Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith in the imperishableness of its divine land, and mindful of its
heavy burden of responsibilities, and the long road before it. Unite your total strength to be devoted to the construction for the future. Cultivate the ways of
rectitude, nobility of spirit, and work with resolution so that you may enhance the innate glory of the Imperial State and keep pace with the progress of the world.

All you, our subjects, we command you to act in accordance with our wishes.

There is criticism – both legitimate and illegitimate – on all sides, and the Emperor – perhaps more so after his death – receives criticism to this day. But the fact is Japan did not want to surrender (which I will discuss below), but they did. He took responsibility of the situation and if only everyone would heed his warning about nuclear weapons. Nuclear warfare exemplifies some of the worst of mankind (and this includes the only known uses of it in wartime) and it does so extremely well. His warning is 100% accurate. Of course, the atom was split and once done there is no going back. The Cold War worsened this with its nuclear arms race. But it also brought some good: the predecessor to the Internet – the arpanet – which was meant to be a network that could withstand a nuclear attack (which means that if a host is down, it won’t receive or send data, but other hosts will still be able to communicate with each other); and it brought the good out in some people – for instance, it motivated a woman called Lynne Cox to risk a dangerous swim across the Bering Strait between the United States and the Soviet Union in an attempt to bring friendship instead of conflict. At this time, we are in another cold war, even if it isn’t recognised as such. While a cold war is better than a real war, a conflict is a conflict, and there comes a point where any significant outbreak of war, will become a third world war, and that will likely be an apocalypse. Yet despite this, there are politicians in some countries that have no problem with war, and I dare say they even want war. That is a sign of extreme weakness and is the exact opposite of what a real leader should strive for – peace.

Japan didn’t want to surrender but neither did any other country (and there is the story of a soldier – Hirō Onoda – who thought for 29 years following the war’s end, that it was still going on; it is a fascinating story for those interested in the war, and it really shows just how much they wanted to win and could not lose). I personally feel that not giving up is a positive, productive and noble thing. There are no victors in war (which is ironic when you consider what the V stands for in V-E Day and V-J Day) but this goes beyond war; those who give up might never have what they could have, they might never accomplish great things (that they could otherwise accomplish), and they might be at a great loss. Winston Churchill himself stated that [we] will never, ever surrender. But imagine if the Allies had surrendered – the world would be very different. Imagine, also, if the Axis Powers surrendered earlier – the world would be different in another way entirely. But imagine still if Germany didn’t invade Poland on September 1, 1939 (or for that matter, take over and annex other countries prior to this).  How different would the world be today?

Despite these thoughts, too much blame is placed upon nations for their past. Punishing Germany at the end of World War 1 was an incredibly stupid decision and some recognised it then (basic logic explains why and how it was so stupid). Yet to this day some think that Germany is responsible for great harm in this world; I say that those punishing Germany at the end of World War 1 are equally responsible for harm. But that should not be the focus; consider this instead: the actions of Germany (and many other countries) might have caused great harm, but the world should learn from the past and not dwell on it.

70 years ago marked the end of a very dark chapter of mankind but the many lessons are still not taken to heart and that is equally as dark – if not darker – than the war itself. We should not only remember the impact of the war – we should also remember why it happened and what could have been done differently, to prevent it. Lastly, attention should be shifted to the present. If this is not done – and I’m afraid that history shows it isn’t – mankind is doomed to ultimately destroy itself (it already destroys the treasures of the world and that includes wildlife that has become endangered if not already extinct).

Windows 10: An example of DOA (Disaster of Automation)

I have to admit, when Microsoft first announced that Windows 10 would be the final release of Windows, I raised an eyebrow. Then, because Windows 10 was offered for free (as an upgrade for the first .. month?), I was more suspicious: if it is free, are they simply baiting the customer to upgrade, hoping to make a profit by some contract (literally or figuratively) of some kind (pay for some sort of subscription or otherwise future software or updates)? After all, some corporations (maybe even Microsoft?) have subscriptions for technical support and software, so how else could this work? I truthfully do not know but given that they are a for profit, there has to be something at play. But there is more to the story of Windows 10. When I first found out that Windows 10 Home edition would automatically be updated, I shuddered.

The fact remains that humans are not perfect, programmers are humans, therefore programmers are not perfect. If you remember, Microsoft at one point pushed out an update that was required in order to receive further updates (therefore encouraging customers to update), only for that update to prevent updates working (off hand I don’t have the information but it definitely happened and there are articles about it). That is scary when it is manual updates but it is even scarier when it is automatic. Yet, even without that mess, automatic updates is what will lead to what conveniently shares the abbreviation of Dead on Arrival  (DOA which is often used to refer to computer hardware – probably other things too – that failed quality control and therefore is ‘dead on arrival'[1]): Disaster of Automation. There are several things to consider.

Firstly, even an experienced system administrator can apply a patch (in binary distributions it would be an update to the package but the end result is the same), only to find out what was updated no longer works. I know in the past I have updated BIND (Berkeley Internet Name Domain) – which is a critical component given that it includes named (name daemon) and therefore is a DNS server – only to find it failing to start or having warnings upon restart (i.e. the postinstall script reloads the configuration file or restarts the service). What happened is as simple as ownership of files being changed. The administrator (a friend) of my slave DNS servers (second, third, fourth) has in the past had this exact same problem on his servers, and DNS failures can cause many problems.

But even if it didn’t cause problems, consider this: the update failed for some reason or another. What happens if it was automated and you’re not at the system? I won’t even get in to the problem that Windows installer is brain dead enough where you have to reboot for almost everything (or last I knew it is and I can’t imagine it is different now). Hopefully it only updates and waits for you to reboot manually.

The astute reader would point out that I’ve not given any examples so far (and Windows 10 is quite new, which makes what I’m about to show, even worse) of updates going afoul with Windows 10. For that matter, I’ve not pointed out Windows 10 problems at all (besides being created by Microsoft, that is). Well here goes.

Since Windows Updater also now considers drivers not optional, and since Windows 10 automatically installs updates, and since an Nvidia GPU driver has a bug (or bugs, maybe), people are having all sorts of problems as described on their forum. Problems like flickering (which is not at all good for eyes!) and even multi-head (more than one monitor) not working correctly (if at all).

Then there is ‘Windows Update Delivery Optimization’. What does it do? It theoretically allows you to not have to download updates from a remote (out of your network) server more than once. So for instance, you can update all your Windows 10 systems without having to download the updates more than once. Well, that is excellent that Windows has a concept similar to local repositories. Unfortunately, though, their method is presumptuous, arrogant and irresponsible. Here is what their FAQ says:

Download updates and apps from other PCs

In addition to downloading updates and apps from Microsoft, Windows will get updates and apps from other PCs that already have them. You can choose which PCs you get these updates from:

PCs on your local network. […]

PCs on your local network and PCs on the Internet. […]

You would like to believe they have a good design here. But the very fact they have on the Internet is disconcerting. From what hosts? My understanding is they now have update verification. But that should always have been in place. If they already have it, why bring it up (aside from maybe reminding people of it)? If they don’t, why the hell didn’t they have update verification?! I’ll return to this in a moment. The problem is worse, however:

Send updates and apps to other PCs

When Delivery Optimization is turned on, your PC sends parts of apps or updates that you’ve downloaded using Delivery Optimization to other PCs on your local network, or on the Internet, depending on your settings.

How is my PC used to send apps and updates to other PCs?

Delivery Optimization downloads the same updates and apps that you get through Windows Update and the Windows Store. Delivery Optimization creates a local cache, and stores files that it has downloaded in that cache for a short period of time. Depending on your settings, Windows then send parts of those files to other PCs on your local network or PCs on the Internet that are downloading the same files.

It would be one thing if it defaulted to off as it should be. Opt-out means you have to know it is enabled and it is poor design to assume the user knows everything about the system (or can remember what they know, even). Yet so many corporations (Google and Facebook to name two others with delusions of grandeur) are arrogant enough to make things opt-out instead of opt-in. But in this case, it is worse still! Not only is it defaulted on, it defaults to share updates to the Internet!:

Delivery Optimization is turned on by default for all editions of Windows 10, with the following differences:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education: The PCs on your local network option is turned on by default.

  • All other editions of Windows 10: The PCs on your local network and PCs on the Internet option is turned on by default.

Yes, great idea, Microsoft. I’m sure your grandeur justifies it all, but did it ever occur to you that most homes don’t have high upstream rates? Did it ever occur to you that they might be capped or even throttled? Did it ever occur to you, in your complete brilliance, that when [you] download content from another host, the other host is uploading to [you]? Did it ever cross your mind that many homes have asynchronous connections (and fairly slow upstream specifically), and even if they didn’t, not pushing upstream to its limit is important for – irony! – optimising connections? Even more important, did you ever consider that not everyone will want this enabled and fewer still would want it being uploaded to the Internet (or downloading from servers other than Microsoft repositories)? As a vendor you shouldn’t burden the customer any more than is necessary, and clearly this idea is not necessary.

Going back to update verification. Microsoft insists the following:

Delivery Optimization can’t be used to download or send personal content.

Yet this claim has been made before and it has fallen down due to a variety of reasons. I really, really, really cannot wait for this to be abused; some of my demons actually want it to happen sooner than later. It isn’t a matter of will it be but instead when will it be. I’m eagerly waiting.

Finally, I have one more update issue to share. The one where Windows 10 update KB3081424 (which includes security fixes) is causing some computers to enter a reboot loop. Indeed, this really is a disaster of automation and it is a fatal design flaw, courtesy of Microsoft.

[1] Some times the product is fine but the user (‘builder’) makes a mistake (e.g. there is a short that prevents the core components of the computer to boot) and assumes it is the product rather than a mistake on their part. But there are times when it truly fails to .. well, deliver what it should.

Nostalgia and Perspective: Arcades, Books and Record Stores

I’m not one to dwell on the past; I don’t find it healthy at all. It is a powerful coping mechanism for me. I can generally control my thoughts, in that I can empty my mind of all thoughts, at will, and I can focus on something specific, if necessary (the latter is perhaps somewhat fraught with peril because I’m unfortunately most familiar with negative thoughts and emotions). I can’t generally filter out other distractions but I can filter thoughts. But while I don’t dwell on the past, it doesn’t mean I don’t miss certain things. I’m just writing about some things I miss from the past, because one of those things is on my mind, and I have nothing else better to do. Some friends miss these things, too, as do people I don’t know, but this is – like always – first and foremost for me.

I’ll go in the order of the title, but I’ll also throw in some other things.

Video Games and the Arcades

I’ll not get in to my favourite type of game of all time (text adventures) because these still exist and arcades don’t (and I have no idea what happened to some of the old video game consoles I had).

The first video game console I played was the Atari 2600. I have many fond memories of the console and its games from Breakout to River Raid, to Outlaw to Adventure, and everything in between (Donkey Kong, Pac-man, Space Invaders, Frogger? Hell yes!). Next I went to the Nintendo Entertainment System, where perhaps my favourite game there would be Ninja Gaiden. That game is a true classic; it was the first game to introduce cinematic cut-scenes to progress the story. I loved the music of the game and I found it a lot of fun. Many seem to think the old games were hard but I never thought that; sure, there were some games that were harder (Ninja Gaiden wasn’t hard for me except the very end, right outside of the final boss The Jacquio; Ninja Gaiden II I beat and Ninja Gaiden III I won’t even discuss) than others, but I beat almost every game I played, repeatedly. Indeed, I knew some games better than the back of my hand (including the puzzles, mazes or whatever they might be). I spent many hours playing video games (more than the two consoles listed) at home, over the years (the last console I owned was the Sony Playstation 1), and also at what is mostly an artefact from the past: the arcades. I spent hours and hours at the arcades, and I have nothing but fond memories of the games I played, among them: Mario Brothers (note: what is on the gaming consoles is Super Mario Brothers; Mario Brothers was an arcade game!), Street Fighter, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game, Mortal Kombat (all of them), Pac-man, and perhaps especially pinball (and its Sonic the Hedgehog spinoff Sonic Spinball, although that was for the Sega Genesis/Mega game drive). There were many more I thoroughly enjoyed, far too many to mention (let alone remember). But I’ve not played a single arcade game in years. I miss that a lot. Nowadays games are connected to the Internet somehow (which I have no problem with, in fact, multi-user dungeons, aka MUDs – predecessors to the MMORPGs of today – are very much a part of me to this day) and otherwise are far superior in graphics (yet I’ve always felt that with all the hardware advances, the effects are far less impressive exactly because the hardware is so advanced; there isn’t nearly as many limitations to the hardware, and some games had rather decent graphics when you consider 8-bit versus what they have nowadays).

Book and Record Stores.

This is what inspired me to write this, actually. This past week I went to a real bookshop, something I hadn’t been in in far too long. It was wonderful. I always loved (even when I buy online I do, but it is different at a bookshop, at least for me and those whom I have talked about this) the smell of the books, the feel of the cover, the binding, the pages, everything about bookshops. You could sit down and read a book (or part of), you could browse different types of books (and genres) whether fiction, non-fiction (whether textbook or something else), and lose track of time (the same was true for record stores except there you might listen to some of the music and you would be browsing records, tapes and eventually CDs; I’ll return to this later). But mostly they are gone today. However, I want to point something out. Something I’ve long believed and now I have proof. See, many people (including employees and owners of book and record stores) believe that the world wide web (or as they would erroneously call ‘the Internet’) is the reason these stores have either gone out of business or have had to change their business model (or otherwise have drastically reduced profit). There is just one little problem with that theory. sells books for cheaper, even if you combine shipping costs. Meanwhile, when you buy in person, you don’t have shipping costs (which means you have less to spend). For instance, I finally got around to buying The Silmarillion (of course by J.R.R Tolkien). I buy hardcover where possible and it was possible for The Silmarillion, too. I spent 40 USD. However, earlier today I saw it at Amazon for 22.66 USD. That is a 43% difference! So here it is: if bookshops would actually change their pricing, they would be able to more easily compete (granted some don’t have the memories of going to an actual shop, but those who do, I know many miss them). Do I mind that I spent 43% more? No. But that is because it was an enjoyable day and I miss the older days here. Otherwise, yes, yes I would mind it.

As for other things, including the fact you don’t see records and tapes as much (I’m ignoring the revival of the vinyl scene because I’ve always thought records were better, more real and more collectible, than tapes and CDs, although nowadays tapes are far more collectible than CDs, DVDs and Audio DVDs; I’m deliberately ignoring bluray and other HD video and sound – I can’t see or hear the differences, anyway). There are many things I do miss. I have really old computer parts that I used years ago but I can’t throw out. The things that we had of yesteryear would surprise the youth of today. If they had any idea of how small hard drives were (in capacity) and how expensive they were (in comparison to what they are today, and considering the capacity differences), they would probably be floored. I still to this day have a hard drive less than 1GB. In this case it is at the ~540MB barrier (which some will remember it as that was as high as they could get it due to limitations that at the time they could not overcome). I also have a HDD that is ~2.5GB. I probably have other drives that are (guessing here) 20GB, 80GB, 120 or 200GB.

There is something else, here, though. It always greatly amuses me when kids tell adults things like “you don’t understand what it is like growing up these days .. it is so different now; we have social media, mobile phones, and we have the Internet!”. It amuses me because they wouldn’t really know anything else, so how would they know that it is so different? Of course, they wouldn’t. I’m going to elaborate just because I want to show how yes, things are different because of evolution (of technology and in general) but no, they aren’t any more complicated (with what we have and don’t have) than before. (Furthermore, things change for both better and worse. But realising this changes things significantly.) Indeed, the Internet is older than they are. For that matter, if you consider its predecessor (arpanet), it might be older than their parents (probably it is)! Certainly the arpanet is older than I am. Depending on what part of the Internet (it developed and extended itself over time) you think of, it is older than me; other parts of the Internet are younger than me. That brings me to social media and the Internet more generally: First, many erroneously believe that the World Wide Web IS the Internet but the Internet is much more than that. The WWW is a small part of the Internet, and without the lower layers, the WWW wouldn’t be ‘world wide’ at all (it might not even exist, we wouldn’t have email and we wouldn’t have many other things that people think of as a single technology). But no, the Internet isn’t new at all, and so this is not something that is all that different (the IoT – the Internet of Things – is another issue entirely, and one that has serious problems, but one that won’t be going away, unfortunately; still, this is technology evolving). As for social media: there were other ways of communicating with people. Let’s start with BBSes (bulletin board systems) and later on web based forums. Then you go to UNIX and you had the talkd (‘talk daemon’) which allowed to users (on the same system or different systems, as I recall) to ‘talk’ with each other (writing messages where one user was at the top and the other at the bottom; it showed characters as sent to the system, so you would see the actual sequences for backspace and the like but this was a matter of getting used to and then it wasn’t really a problem). Then there is IRC (‘internet relay chat’ which worked for the Internet and an internet; the latter simply being a network of networks but not necessarily connected to the global Internet). You also had (later on) ICQ, MSN, Yahoo Instant Message (and others). So no, social media isn’t all that new; it is only an extension of what we had before. I will point out some irony, though, something others have thought of individually, but something that I’ve thought of for a very long time:

Despite the ‘social media’ and the phenomenon of people looking at their bloody phone instead of where they are walking (or with whom they are eating with, sleep with, and who knows what else) and even more ‘connectivity’ (network connectivity only), we are more than ever disconnected. I’d like to say I was ahead of my time (because I wasn’t one who really socialised with peers) but I know I’m not in that way. I was (and am) just… different. I never identified with anyone (in person) and I never really associated with many people (and when I did it was only because of school; I didn’t spend time with them off campus).

Yes, I miss many things that are very different today (different is very loosely defined). But does that mean that I wish I lived in the past? No, absolutely not. It isn’t healthy to dwell on the past; you can’t change it either and the only way to stay somewhat sane (…if that is possible for me – but others can go mad by dwelling on the past, too) is to focus on right now. Even then, there are some things that are better; accept and learn from your mistakes and they aren’t mistakes. Continue to learn, evolve, grow, and you have more to experience, more to understand and more to appreciate. Similarly, if you look at what is here now, you can realise that while some things might be worse, other things are better. It can always be worse (this especially goes for your own health.. and yes, this is what it took for me to understand this though it took many years for me to do so). Always. It might not seem like it to some people but if they ever have long term hardships they will understand this (not to say you can’t understand it without hardships!). Not only will they understand this, they will be thankful for it, and it will give them strength and some sort of peace and acceptance of the world (and others).

Perspective is incredibly powerful; it changes everything!