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The Actuator – May 13th

Level 17

Our local Starbucks reopened this past Thursday. Mobile orders only and only one person at a time is allowed inside to pick up their order. It felt almost normal to visit the shop. I look at this as the beginning of businesses opening up again. There will be a period of adjustment as we adapt to the new normal, but we’ll get there.

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


Google and Facebook employees can work from home for the rest of the year
Google used to be proud of the fact that they kept remote workers to a minimum. Now that everyone’s working from home, it will be hard to get everyone back to the office.

Microsoft now blocks reply-all email storms to end our inbox nightmares
I can’t understand why this wasn’t implemented, say, 20 years ago.

Scientists Release Genetically Engineered Moths for First Time
What’s the worst that can happen?

Most of Zoom runs on AWS, not Oracle – says AWS
I am shocked, shocked to discover that Oracle put out a misleading PR statement.

Singapore Officials Using ‘Robodogs’ To Enforce Social Distancing In Parks
I’m starting to think we’re living in a Westworld simulation.

Google, Apple Reveal More Contact-Tracing Details
Neither company has plans to monetize any data collected. Well, not right now. Just wait until we’re about six months past rollout.

Michael Dougherty Made a Video Tribute to All of the Horror Movies Moments Guiding Him Through the P...
Enjoy this and see how many movies you recognize.


Either someone dropped a perfectly good mask on accident, or Thanos snapped his fingers.


Level 14

@sqlrockstar  A terrific group of articles this week.


First, Reply All.... yes the curse of the email titans... I wonder what was the proverbial straw that led to a solution?

Genetically modified moths - Coming soon to a streaming service near you.... MOTHRA - 2020!!!!

Robo-Dogs - I will leave the Robo-Hydrant jokes to others... but seriously... this is frightening on so many levels.

Google/Apple contract tracing - too late.... this info is being sold somehow, some way.. perhaps even in the shadows

I'm not surprised Google & Amazon have many more folks working from home.  I work for a hospital system and virtually everyone in our I.T. department who had an office or a cube was sent home.  It's a change of policy forced on us by doing the right thing and isolating from COVID-19 to help ensure our hospitals wouldn't be overwhelmed (or AS overwhelmed) when the surge of cases hits our area hard.

I didn't want to work from home due to worry about the social isolation, missing out on over-the-cube-wall technical info, humor, or just plain camaraderie.  But when EVERYONE went home, that worry went right out the door.  We chat in Teams, use soft phones on our computers, enjoy each others' video conference backgrounds.  And we get the job done every bit as well as we did prior to going home. 

Actually, I think a good number of things are BETTER from home.  Certainly I get more sleep, therefore am more alert and I participate even more than when I drove the 30 minutes to work and played parking-roulette to maybe find a place and maybe not be able to park anywhere within many blocks of my office.  I'm eating from home three times a day instead of two (or even three) meals from a restaurant or work cafeteria or drive-through fast food joint.  I'm available for contractors to consult on several work projects I have going on for my home & driveway, I'm here when the electric company and phone company need instructions for moving buried cables, I'm able to have the septic tank pumped out and can supervise from my desk through the window, the plumber can do the annual tankless water heater maintenance while I'm here . . .   And for none of these things do I have to disengage from work, or take PTO.  Personally, working from home is a wonderful thing, as long as everyone else is doing it.

Now our team's former office space is being considered for redeployment for other urgent projects, and I'm totally fine with that.  If/when one or more of us needs to be onsite, there'll be hotel / transient worker cubes available for us to sit and use.  And hey--no more endless meetings where others are attending but not focused, and no more death-by-PowerPoint.  COVID-19 is good for SOMETHING.

But Google & Amazon will have to ensure their employees' work gets done, and done securely.  Communities will need to get serious about upping the ante for rural broadband initiatives if they want to keep employees at home--which is saving my employer hundreds of thousands of dollars in office cleaning, building maintenance, security concerns, HVAC needs, etc.  Not to mention it completely negates the insufficient onsite parking situation for employees.

I'm totally up for working from home for the rest of my professional career.  But hey, Century-Link!  I know I'm rural, but there's high speed fiber buried right out past my driveway, that you won't terminate for my neighborhood's use because we have too low a density of homes. You've sent it up the road to where more people live close together, to get more buck for your work.  While I'm making by with copper DSL connectivity that never tops 10 Mb/s download and 356Kb/s upload--and is occasionally only transmitting 2 or 3 Mb/s down and 60 or 80Kb/s up.  That's not a great way to support the nation.  And you're charging me the same as the folks getting 100 Mb/s or 1 Gig into their homes.  Something has to change . . .


Microsoft, if you're only trigger anti-reply-all when there are at least ten reply-all emails to over 5,000 recipients within 60 minutes, you're no one's friend.

No one should be able to reply all to more than twenty folks, and that's probably fifteen too many.  There are other tools for that, like Teams.

I'm on board with your skepticism about releasing genetically engineered moths into the wild to combat a bio-pest.  It always looks good on paper, and is pretty much guaranteed to have bad results in practice.  Let's consider what we should have learned, but didn't, from:

Importing Rabbits to Australia, where they had no natural predators, resulted in the rabbits causing the most significant species loss of all time on that continent.

Important Cane Toads anywhere, including Australia, to control beetles.  Again, it looked good on paper, but without any natural predators to control them, they quickly grew out of control.  Worse, the beetles they were supposed to eat live mostly at the top of cane plants, and Cane Toads are poor climbers.  They soon were the demise of many species of reptiles and other predators, causing a domino effect as the critters those reptiles preyed upon lost their natural control.

Asian Grass Carp, Silver Carp, Big-head Carp, and Black Carp, imported to U.S. rearing ponds built too near to rivers that would inevitably flood and release the carp into the wild.  They out-compete other fish, destroying the food chain from the bottom up, resulting in loss of native species and posing danger to fishing industries and humans while boating their waters.

Red Foxes in Australia.  Originally introduced for "sporting" purposes (hunters wanted something to shoot), they grew out of control and populate 75% of the Australian continent today, decimating other species as they expand their range.

The list of intentionally released or accidentally introduced species numbers in the thousands.  Every one of them was a bad idea.

Could we NOT stop trying to repeat the mistakes of the past?  Maybe study history a bit, and learn from it?



Zoom runs mostly on AWS instead of Oracle?  Honestly, as an end user, I don't care which one it runs on.

I DO care about the security problems I've observed with using it.  HUGE problems.

So I don't use it. 

It doesn't matter if it's on AWS or Oracle, when it's another product with poor security, don't use it and the issue will take care of itself.

Boston Dynamics' robots warning residents of Singapore to keep their distance to control the spread of Corona Virus?  It seems we are either late to that party (I'm talking to you, New York City), or we might not be doing too badly self-isolating to keep from spreading it, even when we don't think we might have it ourselves (thank you, Minnesota!).

It's interesting to see this use of Boston Dynamics' devices, instead of just watching videos of them doing gymnastics or moving packages.

I honestly think these are the right predecessors to Robo-Cop and Terminator type devices, since the only thing controlling them is the morals and ethics of their owners.

I don't know any military leaders who can honestly say they wouldn't be prepared to launch an army of military robots against a foe, particularly when there's no risk to their operators from continents away.

In a way, these funky robots are sort of like biologic species introduced to fill some need in the environment, with folks only hoping & praying there won't be some unexpected and unfortunate consequence.



Where they say "The APIs developed by Google and Apple will not use location tracking data, according to the developer guidelines released Monday. " I call B.S.

The vendors have already proven their claims of not tracking, not listening in on your private life via smart phones, smart TV's, Siri, Alexa, etc. are simple lies.

Saying they won't use new tracking capabilities isn't even lip service. They WILL use those capabilities. Maybe it won't hurt us. Maybe it'll help rescue us from accidents or crime, or help more quickly resolve a crime.

Maybe it'll be used to falsely accuse us via data that has been manipulated to appear factual. Maybe worse.

Let's not open Pandora's Box AGAIN! For the Nth time.

But oops--the technology's already there, folks are already lined up to make profits on tracking our locations with better precision and granularity, resulting in more advertisements covering our screens and car displays, blaring noise at us to get our attention . . .

It makes me wonder if the driverless car is actually a ploy to get us away from concentrating on driving and being a better target for advertising . . . . Hmmm . . .

Frankly, even though it's for entertainment value, Michael Dougherty's video isn't what anyone needs.  Some will get more stressed by it.  Others may use it to manipulate public opinion in either direction.

Nope.  I'm not sharing that one in social media.

Level 14


Seriously, my joke about MOTHRA aside, the moth issue scares me. Despite claims to the contrary, we really know very little about the "delicate balance of nature". In Maine there is a requirement to have all boats entering the state cleaned and clear of plants. This is to avoid invasive species from taking over the waters in the state.Why?,  because there is nothing in the local environment to keep them in check.

Now the headlines are filled with warnings of the murder hornets, another invasive species, with nothing to keep it in check.

In general, my belief is that every time man messes with nature, nature goes all out to teach man a lesson. So far, we haven't scored well on the test.


Funny about the reply all situation with Microsoft.

Now granted it is generally a pain at times but there was one time it helped me solve an issue with a vender that put on"free" seminars in various parts of the country.  They did not want to abide by my repeated requests to stop sending me their "ads".  I mentioned that I would start including their keynote speaker in my responses mentioning their failure to opt out and even cease and desist requests.  That got a plea to not include them and from the other main employee what appeared to be a threat.  Well a week later the sent out another "ad" and failed to bcc the recipients and had everyone on the cc: line.  So I replied all and included all my past email correspondence and everything stopped.

Level 14

@Jfrazier  Now that is the way to send a message!


@gfsutherland it worked since it aired all their dirty laundry to a pretty good sized audience and their failures.  

Of course I am not tolerant of SPAM so I make an effort to go through the steps.  Now if it is sent through a company such as Marketo, Mailchimp, etc. I ensure they are following the terms of service...most times they are not by using my email obtained via a 3rd party.  So they get dinked.  It helps Mailchimp and Marketo to keep their customers honest.


Nice article 🙂


Our local Starbucks reopened this past Thursday. 🙂

Level 12

Good articles. I'm glad Microsoft is finally taking action on reply-all idiots, but the 5,000 recipient threshold is way too high.

I once wanted to write a VBScript to deploy onto workstations so, whenever someone clicked reply all, they would get a popup asking if the message is really for every recipient or just one individual. Naturally, my suggestion was rejected.

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.