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The Actuator - August 2nd

Level 17

This week's Actuator comes to you in advance of my heading to Austin for some THWACKcamp filming next week. This filming may or may not involve a bee costume. I'm not promising anything.

Microsoft Launches Windows Bug Bounty Program Because Late Is Better Than Never

Interesting that this took as long as it did, but it is wonderful to see Microsoft continue to make all the right moves.

Passwords Evolved: Authentication Guidance for the Modern Era

Great summary from Troy Hunt about the need for passwords to evolve.

A Wisconsin company will let employees use microchip implants to buy snacks and open doors

Or, forget passwords and just go to chip implants. I'm kinda shocked this isn't in use at a handful of hedge funds I know.

First Human Embryos Edited in U.S.

Time to upgrade the species, I guess.

Indoor robots gaining momentum - and notoriety | The Robot Report

Including this link mostly because I never knew "The Robot Report" existed, and now I can't look away.

The Worst Internet In America

I thought for sure this was a report about my neighborhood.

Why automation is different this time

Set aside 10 minutes to watch this video. I want you to understand why your job roles are going to change sooner than you might think.

I'm not sure this is legit, but the store did have a Mr. Fusion for sale:

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32 Comments
MVP
MVP

Interesting article on robots and now I know about "The Robot Report". 

I have been following the microchip story in the news...of course it is also one more thing that has been written about in Sci Fi for decades coming to life.

Level 21

Ok, so I watched the "Why automation is different this time" video and I am thinking maybe I shouldn't have.  Now I am depressed and it only makes it more clear to me how many people don't see this coming and how unprepared for it we are.

Level 11

The automation thing is kind of scary

MVP
MVP

MVP
MVP

Edited embryo's...  The stuff of science fiction coming to be.  Defective genes and disease eliminated.... 
Who is to really say this hasn't already been whisked away for a top secret project or an embryo has been implanted...just because they say it hasn't been done doesn't mean it hasn't.

While the implications for good are there...someone somewhere has other plans. 

Level 14

Edited Embryo's - A little too close to Zager and Evans "In the year 2525" for me.

Worst Internet - Thankfully I live in a well served metro area. Long term I think it is a public/private partner ship that put Broadband access as important as electricity and telephone service was last century.

A chip - Ok... so let me get this straight... you put a chip in me to get in or out of the building and to get some chips for a snack out of the machine..... ok... got it! (I am completely operational and all my circuits are functioning perfectly!)

sqlrockstar​ awesome work as always.

MVP
MVP

Just saw a story on the new this morning about the embryo modification.  Interesting concept.  I'm curious as to what all they can remove.  In the future, does this mean that no more getting pregnant the old fashion way.  The lab will serve as the middle man in the process to ensure a disease free generation.

MVP
MVP

maybe, but then it becomes an A la Carte menu for features and attributes because someone will pay to have the smartest, strongest, quickest kid bioengineered to exceed.

The rich can afford it and the general populace is stuck with what nature doles out.

Level 17

The future is going to be OK, just keep your skills up to date and focus more on human tasks. Even better, learn how to automate things for others, that should be a career for a while.

MVP
MVP

I'll just borrow money to produce a world class athlete with the intent on paying back the loan when they go pro.

Level 20

That worst internet title makes me think about DSL in my old state of Ohio... it was so bad.

MVP
MVP

worst internet...sounds like my life.  I exist on fixed wireless myself.

I hear the constipated face on the call taker when I call in and tell them where their problem is...which means they have to go fix it then instead of pushing it off a day or three to research.

The micro chip thing. I am shocked that this was able to fly this day and age. The risk and insurance implications of such intrusive device leaves a company wide open for a plethora of lawsuits. (Remember, you don't have to win. You just have to settle)

As for worst internet in America... but Verizon's coverage map???

The comments are as good as the original linked content.

Bounties. Businesses have successfully gotten support from employees (for decades) by sharing cost savings with those who find & report problems.  In some cases it might be a significant bonus to the employee.  A friend works for a multi-national corporation, and she told me about a case where two employees found an inefficient process and worked out a better way of doing things that saved the company $2M annually.  The company's bounty for this kind of savings is 25%.  They split a $500K bonus between them that year, while the company saves $2M every year going forward.  And more employees started watching for ways to fix problems and save the company money, and they began seeing nice bonuses while the company became more profitable and efficient.  I like this.

Passwords.  Loved this article.  Read it, use the great points, and start thinking about what can be extrapolated out into the future.  Think outside the box.  Where will this lead to in a year--or thirty!

Implants.  If you've ever read 1984, ever been concerned about someone tracking your location and activities and searches, or if you've ever watched Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Mission: IMPOSSIBLE or anything with espionage, do you really think that chip could be nothing more than a convenience for you?  It's one thing to chip your dog, your horse, maybe even your car or smartphone.  But your SELF, just for someone's convenience?  Ridiculous.

Embryo Edits.  A certain WWII leader would have enforced this on the world if he'd been able.  Look up "eugenics" and tell me only good people will have access, and will only do good and ethical things with this technology.  Tell me the loss of genetic variation, and its associated power of defeating diseases, won't occur.  Tell me mistakes haven't been made, that intentional changes won't be made in the future that someone will regret.  Then study the Nuremberg Code.

Robots.  Read Asimov's Foundation Series.  Read his story "I, Robot."  Watch "The Iron Giant."  Then watch the Terminator series and study the word "hubris."  Understand why the phrase was coined:  "Pride goeth before a fall."

Worst Internet.  Like many comments before mine, those living in well-served areas are at a financial and social and survival advantage (in certain ways) than we who don't live in such areas.

"Automation is different this time."  Uff da.  Just uff da.

I didn't see anyone reference Roomba's news over the last two weeks.  The headline seems sensational.  Roomba's CEO denies any evil intent.

Which apparently isn't the same thing as seeking to make profit selling the floor plans of the inside of your home.

Roomba plans to sell maps of users' homes

The automation change is real, the pace it comes, and how our economy adjusts are huge unknowns. I think I have positioned myself well, but I think about my kids and what skills they will need.

MVP
MVP

The amount of things you have to opt in for many apps just for your phone or tablets is disconcerting these days.

Throw in the features you want in a connected device that require you to pretty much open your lives to having everything about you scrutinized by someone often without you being aware.. Its not just big brother anymore...its big business collecting big data in order to make big money at the expense of the uninformed or those who are oblivious.

Level 17

I added more thoughts around automation, specifically for DBAs. You can read it here: The Disappearing DBA

As someone whose job is in large part automation, I found the video intriguing, especially the ending.  We are definitely in a place where we could either go Star Trek Utopia or Hunger Games dystopia.

But an education on automation, would be great for the $15 an hour minimum wage crowd as McDonald's could easily replace most of its employees with iPads and you can see major stores moving towards automated checkouts.

I have also thought about my kids and for the ones who are gifted in the arts, I think, automation cannot replace those jobs...but if there is no one who can afford to watch the arts...

You're right, and when big business spends big bugs discovering and marketing our personal information, it results in a big amount of unwanted advertising and spam, which is just a big headache for the end user.

Wouldn't it be interesting if there were a way to trace the source of that unwanted privacy intrusion to the first web site that collected and shared our data?  Better yet, discover what will happen BEFORE visiting a site?

Imagine having the ability to:

  • Right-click on a web site's link and see what they collect and who they sell it to.
  • See how much money they earn by selling our personal data.
  • See what spam will result from using their site, allowing them to collect our cookies, etc.
  • Publish this information to let users know what they're in for when they visit that site--maybe even shame the site into behaving more ethically at the risk of losing visitors.  Nothing like hitting them in the profit margin.
MVP
MVP

there is a plug-in for some browsers called ghostery that lets you know what tracking cookies a website wants to place on your computer...and allows you to block them.

Deep Throat said "Follow the money."  Tracking websites' use of cookies is a step, but not the final goal.  Learning who takes that information and sells it, who pays for it, what's done with the money--that's something that would really be interesting.

Of course, maybe we don't WANT to know . . .

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Level 20

Another bad sign for Oracle and the future of Solaris!

Oracle Reportedly Laying Off More Solaris & ZFS Staff - Phoronix

My regional peers in other organizations report they're either in the process of moving away from Solaris, or have already moved to other solutions.  That's hard on Solaris' market share, making the future iffy.  They need more buy-in, not buy-out, if they're going to remain viable.

Level 20

We're trying to move as much as we can away from Solaris to Linux now.  Some of our development tools like IBM ClearCase and Clearquest are running on mostly Solaris now but can run on Linux.  It all needs to be tested and proven though which is a big task.  Another thing that stinks about Solaris is that unless it's x86 you can't run the servers as VM's under VMware.

Companies may need to stop trying to build a better mouse trap, and focus more on working more on getting along with other products.  Specialization and isolation and incompatibility aren't always good paths to follow if one wishes one's products to be more universally adopted.  Choosing to have your product not integrate with VMware seems like "a career-limiting decision."

Level 20

Seems that way to me as well... it's a real bummer for all the old Sun fanatics for sure.

MVP
MVP

In a past life we moved from solaris as well. It was a cost thing for both hardware and OS licensing.

I like solaris and would likely run a copy on a x86 machine for fun...but I can do more, have more software available, and more cheaply on linux these days...

Level 21

It's a funny thing; our company was a very strong Solaris shop back when I started 16 years ago.  Now we are 80% Windows and strongly aligned with Microsoft.  Most of the changes happened as a result of what our clients were looking for.

Level 20

I think we all have seen some of that... also much more Linux now.  It's not a toy OS anymore.

Where Art is, IS civilization!

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About the Author
Thomas LaRock is a Head Geek at SolarWinds and a Microsoft® Certified Master, SQL Server® MVP, VMware® vExpert, and a Microsoft Certified Trainer. He has over 20 years experience in the IT industry in roles including programmer, developer, analyst, and database administrator.