Monday, March 6, 2017

Pushing (and Licking) the Envelope

I don't know if you were affected by this, but a huge Amazon outage this week rendered large chunks of the internet inaccessible. Without getting ridiculously technical (and because I have no idea what I'm talking about), this Amazon service is The Cloud, or cloud storage. Engineers went to take a small number of billing servers offline and managed to enter an incorrect item, taking down 'a larger set of servers.' In non-technical terms, they screwed up royally and took a shitload of servers down. The downed servers controlled a lot of other servers and pretty soon, there were huge holes all over the internet. To make things that much more interesting, the servers hadn't been rebooted in quite a while, so bringing them up took longer because they had more work to do because there was much more data to count.

Ok, everyone goofs. Sometimes the goof is spectacular in a very public way, like this one. I had a coworker who discovered he could remotely reboot people's computers, largely by remotely rebooting people's computers. We had to take his toy away when people started complaining. That aside, this incident underscores  the fact that a lot of required planning and safety checks were flushed down the old British loo.

People get all excited about The Cloud. The salespeople from Amazon come in and promise you the Moon, stars, and the internet. Life on this very planet will benefit greatly from their cloud services. The uptime of their systems is guaranteed to be in the ridiculously high 99th percentile. And now someone makes a mistake and wipes large amounts of vital and silly services from the internet. Mistake aside, this is a huge failure of Amazon services, which should have all this stuff backed up and paralleled so well that the switchover would be imperceptible.  The fact that it didn't work illustrates what we call Single Point of Failure - where one item failing can take down the entire house of cards. You do not design any important system with a SPOF. This is also a failure of the customers because not only don't they have a Plan B, they trusted Amazon.

  • I read the news today, oh boy... about the governor of Maryland declaring a state of emergency. I don't remember flooding or rioting, so I read further. The mayor has declared a state of emergency over heroin and opioid deaths. At least he wasn't grandstanding.

I read one of those Heartwarming Stories the other day. Some lady jogger in Bumfukt was lady jogging when she got all hot and thirsty, having drank the water she brought. A guy pulling into his driveway saw her and offered her some water. She was stunned and gratefully accepted. Every day thereafter, there was a cold water bottle waiting for her outside his house. This went on over a year, during which time they got to chat and meet her husband, both of whom were really surprised and forever grateful. The good samaritan, discovering she was married, killed the husband and kept the jogger in his basement dungeon, eventually killing and eating her. The friendship kept up and the jogger left him presents on holidays. It continues to this day. Don't you just hate this kind of thing?

  • The Breach of the Day is brought to you by Coachella. Coachella, the huge (alleged) music festival in southern California, announced that its website had been breached, potentially compromising 950,000 accounts containing the personal details of ticket purchasers and people who registered for online forums. So you can not only be tres trendy at the show, your details can be all over the net and for sale in black market forums. No word on how the breach occurred. Do not reuse passwords. Do not give any personal details - make them up if necessary. Sign up for forums anonymously.

My 7yo nephew asked me for some advice the other day. It seems he's having problems with girls.. they won't leave him alone. Ever the helpful uncle, I asked him what it was like.

  • A notorious spam company misconfigured their backups, revealing all sorts of information about how they operate. If you're curious about spam, read the article.

Want a beautiful place to crash in New York City? Bring up Airbnb and for $300-$450 per day, you can get a magnificent apartment in Trump Tower. A woman who has owned the apartment since 1998 is renting it out. The apartment was available since before the election and has garnered five stars on the service, but Airbnb just pulled the listing. Well, this is a bit of an issue, wouldn't you say? Yes, the renter would pass through Secret Service, but...

  • Internet of Things fans: that Amazon outage? For three hours, all sorts of websites and services went down, meaning, among other things, that you couldn't control your internet-connected lightbulbs and other devices.

I was watching one of those border patrol shows the other day and they were demonstrating these boffo new infrared cameras. I swear they were using a gaming controller to manipulate it. Video games: the gateway to border patrol and drone-piloting.

  • Barbara Streisand says Trump is making her gain weight. This would be less of a problem if she moved to Canada, like she promised, if Trump won the election. Hypocrite.

STATS: In case you care, here's a little information on visits to this blog...

Browsers: Firefox leads the pack, with 55%. Chrome follows, with 31%

Operating Systems: Overwhelmingly Windows, at 73%, followed by Macintosh, at 10%. Linux makes up all of 6%. I should further shoot myself in the foot by disabling access for Mac and Windows users (I cannot do this).

Total Traffic: I am so embarrassed that I don't want to reveal this number. Let's say totals of about 20 visits daily. Please tell your friends. Do not send money.

ThermionicEmissions would especially like to thank the French, who are the second highest viewers, right after the US. I have no idea why but am grateful.

Finally, I'd like to thank the people who come here after visiting porn sites. Not only am I happy they choose to read this blog, they provide new and interesting places to visit when I'm bored.

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