Starting On A High Note

How can you not love Steel Pulse? I guess one way would be to have never heard of them before. They’ve been around for a good long time, so if you’d like to hear some more just hit the ewe-toob where you’ll find that they’re well represented.

Don’t let the title fool ya. I am not high on anything except being alive at the moment. I just like to start the day with some upbeat music.

Yesterday was a stone drag, work-wise. My morning began with over 4700 email messages in my inbox telling me about a client’s web site being under a protracted attack, and when I firewalled some random shithead in Latvia out he came right back on another IP address. That’s a pretty good sign of a targeted attack. The script kiddie wasn’t very sophisticated, though, so another dance on the keyboard made him go away. While I was writing the email message to tell the client that I’d just repelled an attack, another client’s cluster of servers came under attack, and that attacker was more sophisticated. He has a botnet, the bastard. Once it became obvious that it would be a whack-a-mole game I again recommended to that client the same darn active defense I’d been recommending periodically for many moons, and finally got approval to implement it. There went the day’s scheduled work. I would much rather have implemented the defenses at my leisure way back when I first suggested them, but this client is about as bad at understanding risk as most are. Humans in general are lousy at risk management — they’ll expend great amounts of worry, time, and money mitigating some novel but exceptionally rare threat, but completely ignore the much more common risks.

You’re far, far more likely to die (in the US) by legal execution than by terrorist attack. Around 10,000 Americans die each year in wrecks caused by drunk drivers. About ten times that number die each year as a direct result of (reported) preventable mistakes made by health care, uh, professionals. Most folks can’t wrap their heads around the fact that their doctors are ten times more dangerous than drunk drivers, and far and away more threatening than terrorists, because most are no darn good at risk assessment.

Just so it’s said: There are about a million and a half drunk driving arrests in the US each year. There are just over 660,000 doctors in the US.

I don’t take it personally when clients disregard my advice. People are happy to hire me because they believe that I’m smart and more knowledgeable in certain areas than they are, but as soon as the decision to hire me is made they believe themselves to be smarter and more knowledgeable of all things than I am. Naturally. You don’t get to be The Boss by being dimwitted. The client whose server came under attack first yesterday has told me a couple of times that she can debug software better than most programmers because she doesn’t understand software. Her thinking is that bugs exist because code that looks right to the programmer is wrong, and since she doesn’t know the first thing about what looks right the things that are wrong are more obvious to her. Not A Problem. As long as I’m the one writing the software and she’s the one writing the checks, she can “debug” my code all she wants. And why not? It’s hers.

I’d intended to get this posted before sunrise, but that pesky damned work thing distracted me. Be well, friends and neighbors!


6 thoughts on “Starting On A High Note

  1. digitalgranny

    I was just listening to the news about the hackers in Russia and how the people going to the Olympics, including the athletes, have to use the govts. wifi and out is already being hacked.
    At some hotels guests are being told not to flush the toilet paper down the toilet, take a shower or drink the water.
    I know it is the Olympics but it sure does”t sound appealing to me to go there.

    1. happierheathen Post author

      Wi-fi is a mostly broken technology anyway because it’s impossible to secure it against a technically savvy attacker. The second quickest way I know to get your machine cracked is to use someone else’s free wi-fi — the first quickest way is to use Facebook. Since I’ve got the keys to so many kingdoms I don’t do either.

      Every four years I ignore the Olympics. 😀

    1. happierheathen Post author

      She does actually read the source code, as most of the stuff I maintain for her is commercial open source garbage that she bought before I came on board. She has only once managed to bumble into a method actually invoked in a class actually instantiated during the failure mode, but it was still totally unrelated to the problem at hand. I just treat it like I would having a recent grad in the office: keep the clock running and smile a lot because at the end of the day all that counts are the billables. 😀

      It’s amazing how much stinky garbage people are selling as COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) software. I’d be ashamed to put my name to most of it that I’ve seen. Though it’s blasphemy, I’ve concluded that code quality is inversely proportional to comment density.

  2. whyzat

    The lady sounds like the epitome of the old saying, “a little knowledge is dangerous.” Well, I guess she isn’t hurting anyone but herself.
    I would like to see the source of someof your stats. I wonder how many of the health care related deaths were at least partially caused by the patiient doing something stupid? I guess that doctors are the least of my worries at this point in my life. It’s drunk drivers that keep me from going anywhere after 10:00 p.m.

    1. happierheathen Post author

      The data on preventable adverse events excludes patient action/inaction, so it’s not a factor. There are jillions of data sources, and about a quarter jillion conclusions, but here’s one that’s pretty recent and which states that my usual number (98k, but I round it to 100k just because I can) is too low:,_Evidence_based_Estimate_of_Patient_Harms.2.aspx

      For other causes of death due to injury, is very handy and other CDC databases on the same site are handy for non-injury causes. I suppose their data could be considered unimpeachable.

      I, too, worry about drunk drivers — but I worry ten times more about medical professionals because I’m not as bad at risk assessment as most are. The system is very clearly broken when people turn to a computer programmer for suggestions after their physicians fail them, but that’s another story entirely. The conclusion of the nuther story is that it pisses me off to no end that it falls to me to save lives (and their quality) and limbs when modrun medi-kill seance fails.


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