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The Actuator - July 5th

Level 17

Happy Birthday, America! I don’t care what people say, you don’t look a day over 220 years old to me. To honor you, we celebrated your birth in the same way we have for centuries: with explosives made in China. (I hope everyone had a safe and happy Fourth.)

As always, here are some links from the Intertubz that I hope will hold your interest. Enjoy!

Volvo's self-driving cars are thwarted by kangaroos

I literally did not see that coming. Reminds me of the time my friend showed me videos of Springboks assaulting bicycle riders in South Africa.

California invested heavily in solar power. Now there's so much that other states are sometimes paid...

I don’t know about you, but I’m rooting for solar power to replace much of our power needs.

Latest Ransomware Wave Never Intended to Make Money

Well, that’s a bit different. Not sure why I didn’t think about how a rogue state may attack another in this manner, but it makes sense. Back up your data folks, it’s your only protection other than being off the grid completely.

Microsoft buys cloud-monitoring vendor Cloudyn

Most notable here is that Cloudyn helps to monitor cross-cloud architectures. So, Azure isn’t just looking to monitor itself, it’s looking to help you monitor AWS and Google, too. Take note folks, this is just the beginning of Azure making itself indispensable.

New Girl Scout badges focus on cyber crime, not cookie sales

Taking the “play like a girl” meme to a new level, the Girl Scouts will bring us “stop cybercrime like a girl."

The Problem with Data

This. So much this. Data is the most critical asset your company owns. You must take steps to protect it as much as anything else.

Fighting Evil in Your Code: Comments on Comments

Comments are notes that you write to "future you." If you are coding and not using comments, you are doing it wrong.

I was looking for an image that said "America" and I think this sums up where we are after 241 years of living on our own:


Level 20

Deep fried coolaid and coke ftw!

Kangaroos Thwarting Self-Driving Cars?

     I didn't expect Volvo's Large-Animal-Detection algorithm required animals to move smoothly, and that it could be defeated by "hopping behaviors".  It seems like it "should be" an easy fix.  What else will fall through that detection crack?  Alligators or crocodiles that are low and slow and that oscillate as they walk?  A gazelle or pronghorn antelope running directly AT your car, or AWAY from your car--when the animal leaps high randomly?

California Paying Others to Take its "Excess" Green Power:

     This payment process slightly defeats the purpose of saving electrical customers money, but I found the article to be interesting and well-reasoned.  Obviously California's legislators are working at cross-purposes.  Some are trying to protect the environment and save electrical consumers money; others (apparently) kowtow to lobbyists funded by those seeking big profits through burning more fossil fuels.  A house divided against itself . . .

Ransomware That Doesn't Ask For Ransom:

     When "ransomware" locks up your data, deletes it or permanently encrypts it, without asking for ransom . . . how is that "ransomware", again?  It sounds like just another worm or virus or Trojan.  Someone's simply taken the ransomware's root code and applied it to damaging other systems, while removing the possibility of a "fix" through paying ransom (and you probably won't get the fix when you pay the ransom, or you've made yourself a target for getting hit over and over.  See "Danegeld.").

Microsoft Absorbs Cloudyne (a Cloud-Monitoring Solution):

     I'm too jaded from Microsoft releasing products and services over the last several decades that were expensive and bloated and very problematic and vulnerable to bad folks' activities.   I need a reload/refresh/reboot so I can approach Microsoft's activities with less skepticism.  I still think about how they seem to want to make infinite profit with little effort, or without thinking things all the way through.  Maybe their new products and services will be more reliable, safer to use, and less expensive to purchase and maintain.       OK, someone wake me up . . .

Fighting Cyber-Crime Instead of Selling Cookies:

     I love the title of this one.  I love that little girls are getting some useful education about electronic safety & security.  I love the empowering nature of this.  Yet I see Apple's philosophy of getting their products into children's hands, hoping that kids will grow up and buy Apple products instead of Windows.  Cisco did the same thing with their Cisco Academies--quite successfully, too.  They exposed high school students to Cisco products so kids would know Cisco-ese and influence decision-makers towards buying Cisco in the future.  At the same time, Cisco "stole" away educators who had technical skills to move into the I.T. field and also influence decisions towards purchasing Cisco hardware (teachers became trained Cisco Academy instructors, and many soon left school districts for more lucrative opportunities, leaving school districts with racks of network equipment and no one to teach the network classes).  Palo Alto, kudos for your great intentions!  I hope there aren't deeper wheels within wheels, intended to focus kids on future purchases of Palo Alto products instead of teaching general security philosophies and processes that apply to every platform.

"Who Controls The Past Controls The Future":

     That's one of the great quotes from this article.  Although EVERYONE should already be familiar with the concepts and details of this article, too few are making changed based on this information.

"Comments" In Code?  YES!

     I enjoyed the observation that "if the code was written in a confusing manner why would you expect the code author to suddenly be able to write comments about it clearly?" The takeaway should be obvious:  Code and comment and communicate effectively.  Those who don't comment are (I feel) short-sighted and inexperienced--or else they are writers of perfect and intuitive code.  When you've worked for ten years or more at the same company, in their I.T. department, your early comments are insights about why a thing was done.  Those comments become insights to future code reviewers (you and your replacement and your peers) that help guide new decisions based on old decisions.  Certainly these comments must change when new deployments occur, and when code changes.  Follow through and update them for your own sake, as well as for those who will follow in your footsteps.  This one article was worth all the others combined, IMHO.  Thanks for sharing it!

Level 15


Level 21

If that is an image that sums up where we are at "living on our own" then I think we are clearly a broke college student living in a bachelor pad.

Level 17

<!-- Glad you enjoyed the article about comments -->


I've had lots of deep fried stuff at the fair, but never seen KoolAid.  Now, to hunt down the KoolAid vendor next month at our state fair.

Level 13

They will deep fry anything......


yes, they will deep fry most anything given the opportunity.

Sometimes it is preceded by a "Here, hold my beer" moment.

But I will admit a deep fried turkey is good stuff...

Level 13

how come no one said happy birthday to Canada?

Happy birthday, Canada!

Canada Day - Wikipedia


Lol @ deep fried cool aid, although the Scots can match it, deep fried Mars bars. Like the US Milky way bar, which is different to the UK Milky way bar, which is the same as a US 3 Musketeers bar


To the point of deep fried stuff:

This link goes into a bit more details with pictures and includes the deep fried kool-aid reference.

Level 17


Level 12

Nice one, Eh! It's also kind of cool both our countries celebrate their inception so closely on the calendar.

The heck with renegotiating free trade agreements we should be working on negotiating a joint holiday and BBQ.

It could run from July 1st (Canada Day) right thru to July 4th (Independence Day).  What a party that would be... just saying...


There's a local tradition where folks from the U.S. and Canada boat over to the Kettle Falls Hotel on the first Saturday after July 4.  Weather permitting, this involves lots of people, lots of grilled food, beer, live music, lawn games, ice cream, fresh air, and smiles.

The hotel is located on the border between Minnesota and Ontario, and has a "colorful" past. 

This might just be the start of the kind of party you've mentioned.  My family visits there every year at least long enough to have an ice cream cone and take a family picture to show the kids (and we parents) aging and smiling.

Kettle Falls Hotel  - Namakan and Rainy Lake - Kettle Falls Hotel on Namakan and Rainy Lakes, Minnes...


Level 12

That's an awesome tradition... perhaps it is start to my master plan   

Thanks for sharing



Level 12

Make it a week long border party!

Level 12

Well that just made me hungry....

Level 14

Deep Fried Kool-aid .... Where has this been all my life!

As for comments in code... the 3 am you often needs a touch inspiration when solving problems. Just do it.... someone will thank you and it might not even be you!

A belated Happy Canada Day and Independence Day!!!


Mission accomplished !

I read an article somewhere (was it on here? I read far too many articles) that the UK had generated so much power via wind for a few days that energy bills were in the negative. How odd is that?

As for me and my fourth, I continued to upheld the family tradition of watching fireworks at Bethany Beach, DE. This year with storm clouds looming over my shoulder which luckily never came to fruition. A joyous time was had by all.19756492_10213700574894623_1240300939719777472_n.jpg

Level 15

Let's see I have tried deep fried beer... so I am on the hunt to find the local fair guy to sell me some deep fried kool-aid......

Nice set of articles...

Level 12

Do a Home Brew job.... all this sugary delight...

Deep Fried Kool-Aid - Street Food with Michael's Home Cooking - YouTube

Level 15

Looks like a project for an upcoming weekend

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.