Archive for January, 2013


Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Nilofer Merchant makes some excellent suggestions, to take the stand-up meeting that little bit further:

As we work, we sit more than we do anything else. We’re averaging 9.3 hours a day, compared to 7.7 hours of sleeping. Sitting is so prevalent and so pervasive that we don’t even question how much we’re doing it. And, everyone else is doing it also, so it doesn’t even occur to us that it’s not OK. In that way, I’ve come to see that sitting is the smoking of our generation.

After one hour of sitting, the production of enzymes that burn fat declines by as much as 90 per cent.


Thursday, January 17th, 2013

By the time I’m a century old, coffee as we know it is expected to be in extremely short supply.

C. arabica is a very fussy plant:

[It] takes about seven years to mature fully, and does best with 1.0–1.5 meters of rain, evenly distributed throughout the year. It is usually cultivated between 1,300 and 1,500 m altitude, but there are plantations as low as sea level and as high as 2,800 m.

The plant can tolerate low temperatures, but not frost, and does best with temperatures around 20°C. Commercial cultivars mostly only grow to about 5 m, and are frequently trimmed as low as 2 m to facilitate harvesting. [It] prefers to be grown in light shade.

Between shifting rainfall patterns and variations in temperature, the regions capable of growing this plant in the industrial quantities required for today’s coffee consumption are limited — noting that coffee sees a lot of trade.


Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Nick Buraglio has done some work on making Brocade’s VDX switches running NOS, work with the RANCID configuration management tool.


Sunday, January 6th, 2013

There are times—Hurricane Sandy, say—when nature rears up and reminds humankind that it’s the ultimately powerful force on this planet. But most of the rest of the time, we’re very happily dominating the natural world. It’s come to the point where scientists have come up with a name for the time humans have been on the Earth: The Anthropocene, a geological age where people are the dominant factor in shaping the physical space of the planet.

Man features the fantastical journey of humankind as it encounters and then exploits or kills every creature and natural resource on the planet. Watch the Everyman making boots out of snakes to slicing of bears’ heads to clubbing seals until he meets an untimely end. Will we receive the same comeuppance?

quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Friday, January 4th, 2013

The unauthorized certificate was created after a Trusted Root certificate authority in Turkey, Turktrust, issued intermediate Certificate Authority certificates to two entities last year that should not have received them. Turktrust told Google that it issued the two CA certificates by mistake, inadvertently giving the two entities certificate authority status.

The point of the Certificate Authority is to be a trusted third party, validating that the owner of a certificate is entitled to be the owner of that certificate. The problem lies in allowing a CA to subdelegate that authority – and to not have checked that subdelegation was appropriate.

Some form of cross-check – possibly, the requirement that any CA be vetted by at least two other CAs – is clearly appropriate.

on anonymous

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

I’m fairly sure this article was written just to goad:

Security vendor finds hacking group predictable.

Senior security researchers at Intel-owned security vendor McAfee have dubbed 2013 the year the Anonymous hacking collective will face stagnation and decline.

Anonymous, a ‘loosely connected’ hacktivist movement that sprung up from 4Chan in 2003, has for a decade directed cyber-attacks at targets as varied as News Corp, The US, UK and Australian Governments, suspected pedophilia rings, the Church of Scientology and various rights holder groups such as record and film companies.

Such was Anonymous’ momentum and impact that Time Magazine named the collective the ‘Person of the Year’ in 2012.

At the end of 2013, let’s look back and see whether this “prediction” had any merit at all. My bet: it won’t.

trust it

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

I liken the IT industry to the Wild West,” says Professor Richard Lucas, Head of the information systems discipline at the University of Canberra and an adjunct professor in ethics.

Professor Lucas attributes corrupt activity in the industry to failures in education and accreditation processes.

[…] membership to professional societies that might otherwise promote ethical practice – organisations such as the Australian Computer Society or SAGE-AU, are frighteningly low.

Employers thus often hire staff that appear technically confident “without measuring any other competency,” he said.


While the “small number of individuals at CenITex should not reflect upon the vast majority of its staff or upon the broader industry… it highlights the value of a strongly enforced code of ethics that is overseen by a professional organisation.”

If such a standard was adhered to en masse and “actively policed”, he said, organisations could confidently restrict hiring of IT professionals to those certified by a professional body.

Unfortunately, many employers have no real mechanism to measure competency at its root: many recruiters, interviwers, and the like have no way to gauge a potential recruit’s real technical ability, being fundamentally unfamiliar with the job for which they’re recruiting. And – unlike other professional fields which require some form of benchmark to determine skill – there simply isn’t one to speak of for the vast majority of IT specialities. Vendor certifications, I’m afraid to say, don’t count for anything much.

This in turn leads to a problem: if you are relying on how someone comes across in an interview to determine their ability to do the job, without really understanding what that job actually is, what’s to stop that person lying their way through the interview? And if they’re going to lie in an interview context, what other ethical challenges will they pose?