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The Actuator – June 10th

Level 17

This week’s Actuator comes to you from my home, again. There are signs of businesses beginning to reopen here. It will be odd this year without 4th of July celebrations, or local and state fairs. Luckily the garden center is open, and we can spend time tending to our backyard.

As always, here's a bunch of links I hope you find useful. Enjoy!


Automation: A Failure Story
Automation makes everything better, right? Maybe not.

cmd.exe is dead, long live PowerShell: Microsoft leads aged command-line interpreter out into 'maint...
The beginning of the end of an era.

Microsoft: we were wrong about open source
This would have never happened if Ballmer were still alive.

Zoom to exclude free calls from end-to-end encryption to allow FBI cooperation
Basic security should not be an option you are forced to pay for.

Apple and Google release phone technology to notify users of coronavirus exposure
These two companies aren’t exactly known for stellar security practices, so I’m cautious about any tracing app. Still, I recognize the need for this app to exist at this moment in time. But once the tech is built, it can then be built in.

What Is Confidential Computing?
Sounds great in theory until you realize it will require a lot of cooperation between hardware and software makers. I keep thinking this is another Spectre in the making.

Microsoft lays off journalists to replace them with AI
“I spend all my time reading about how automation and AI are going to take all our jobs, and here I am – AI has taken my job.”


Was a beautiful weekend here for sitting by the fire each night.



@sqlrockstarno AI could ever replace YOU!!  I look forward to your personal perspective and insight, you are human and relatable.  AI is artificial and can be influenced by good and bad .. no thank you.   Just look at our Government ... the purest form of artificial intelligence! 

Level 14

Thanks for the articles.  I still use cmd to ping/tracert sometimes but that's about it.  If I'm on my other systems I use powershell/visual studio.  

It's way too hot here to sit by a fire!  It's miserable already......humid and hot.  We've been enjoying time in the pool.

Carina's story of automation failure is too familiar.  At the outset it sounds like it's a good strategy.  After the project eventually failed and was abandoned, hindsight reveals many of the challenges.

Working with reliable tools & web browsers certainly is a prerequisite.  Training the QA person, AND the staff they'd be reviewing, how to find problems and remediate them quickly, and eventually to prevent problems, is mandatory before starting the project.  Obviously employees will take corrections and criticism of their work poorly, so getting in front of that to prevent hard feelings is one of the most important things that can be done to help QA be successful.

I sympathize with her, having seen this exact scenario before.  A great worker might be thrust into a QA position without adequate training, and the team building the product she will focus on may have members embarrassed to have their mistakes pointed out.  That can result in resentment and worse, so strong team-building exercises should happen well before the actual work begins.  We want to make certain that all outcomes are positive, and that pointing out the mud on someone's shoes isn't a degrading thing--it's a great sign that people are interested in your clothing and in you--to help you look your best at all times.  When staff can get to the point of smiling and graciously accepting the criticism, and even THANKING the person for finding flaws so they can be corrected . . . well, THAT'S when you've got some good teamwork happening. Trust is built, and people on both sides of the conversation can both admit shortcomings and lack of knowledge and quickly admit their own mistakes.  It's a good place to work QA from after that point.

Wow--CMD.exe is dead!  Long live PowerShell.

Now, where's the training for the CMD folks who never had to use PowerShell, or who were able to avoid it in the past?

It's the passing of an era.

Zoom hasn't impressed me with its actions or its vulnerabilities.  Perhaps it'll be more friendly in the future.

This one quote from the article summarizes my feelings exactly:

“Gating personal privacy behind a paywall erodes basic freedoms and fairness.”

It seems like everyone's communications should be private--not only wealthy people or corporations.

Well, except for criminals.  Their traffic can be wide open.  But . . . someone will redefine "criminal" if we follow that logic, and soon Big Brother is doing bad things again, for power instead of for justice.


Apple & Google working to help control Covid-19 . . . it's surprising, but it's nice to read about their efforts.  I wish them the very best of success with this!

The challenges of getting 100% compliance for confidential compliance seem daunting.  We can't get 100% of people to agree on anti-malware or anti-virus tools & regularly updating them.  Nor can we get 100% of people to stop writing malware, or stop using the Internet for nefarious purposes.

And if we don't achieve 100% compliance and agreement, we'll always have that open piece of data transaction that's vulnerable.  Which is what the bad guys rely on, right?

Let's beat their hopes into the mud and get on board with this today.

I'm curious how the vulnerabilities & ethics of 800+ Microsoft writers compares to one or more AI's being compromised by those wishing to manipulate public opinion.

We can look at a person's bank account & communications and actions and determine if they're compromised, under pressure to write something or reveal secrets to blackmailers or worse.

Can we detect the same pressures, or equivalent attacks, on AI's?  If so, who would write the detection?  Who would report the problems to the public?  

Who cleans up the mess of the public losing confidence in its communications?  

When we can't trust AI's of companies in control of writing stories on which we rely to base out decisions, what are our choices?

Level 14

PowerShell the future is here and alive and well.... CMD you have served us well... retire in good health

Level 14

Zoom - an application without base security is like buying a sports car you can't lock and starts with the push of a button

Level 12

Microsoft has been wrong many times, just as any other big business is regularly wrong. I remember hearing individual Microsoft employees say the company screwed up by not appreciating the rise of the internet in the '90s, but don't recall any Microsoft leaders saying they or the company was wrong. Therefore I find it refreshing to read this acknowledgment.