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The Actuator – May 8th

Level 17

In Seattle this week for the Seattle SWUG. If you're in the room reading this, then you aren’t paying attention to the presentation. So maybe during the break you should find me, say hello, and we can talk data or bacon.

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

The productivity pit: how Slack is ruining work

Making me feel better about my decision to quit Slack last year.

Dead Facebook users could outnumber living ones within 50 years

Setting aside the idiocy of thinking Facebook will still be around in 50 years, the issue with removing deceased users from platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn is real and not easily solved.

Hackers went undetected in Citrix’s internal network for six months

For anyone believing they are on top of securing data, hackers went undetected in Citrix’s internal network for six months. Six. Months.

Dutch central bank tested blockchain for 3 years. The results? ‘Not that positive’

One of the more realistic articles about blockchain, a company that admits it's trying, not having smashing success, and willing to keep researching. A refreshing piece when compared to the marketing fluff about blockchain curing polio.

Docker Hub Breach: It's Not the Numbers; It's the Reach

Thanks to advances in automation, data breaches in a place like Docker can end up resulting in breaches elsewhere. Maybe it’s time we rethink authentication. Or perhaps we rethink who we trust with our code.

Los Angeles 2028 Olympics budget hits $6.9B

Imagine if our society was able to privately fund $6.9B towards something like poverty, homelessness, or education instead of arranging extravagant events that cost $1,700 a ticket to attend in person.

A Not So Fond Look Back At Action Park, America's Scariest Amusement Park

Is it weird that after watching this video it makes me want to go to this park even more?

I like it when restaurants post their menu outside:


Level 12

I have never understood criticisms like the one about the cost of the 2028 Olympics.

1) The Olympic Organizing Committee spends $6.9 billion to put on the games.

2) Ticket sales, broadcast rights, licensing, and other revenue streams make up that $6.9 billion so it doesn't cost taxpayers anything to host the games.

3) Lots of people earn money through the jobs created to put on the event.

4) Visitors attending the Olympics spend money, boosting the local economy.

5) Locals who earn more money because of work during the Olympics spend money, boosting the economy.

6) Government gets to spend the $6.9 billion paid to the organizing committee again, plus the additional tax revenue from sales, payroll, etc.

Level 14

Thanks for the articles, but I can't help but disagree with the Slack article.  Just because it's an easier/faster method, doesn't always mean it's less productive or of a lesser quality. 

Yah the slack one makes me scratch me head. Is it possible slack makes you less productive? Sure. But its a tool in the toolbox like any other.

So I use slack, I brought it into our IT department 3 or 4 years ago, and some stuff improved because of it. If it went away tomorrow, as long as we found a home for the good communication, it would be fine.

I think about it in terms of operational communication. As an IT department we had some challenges. a decade ago we were 100 people on 2 floors of a building. Hallway conversations would bridge a lot of of the gaps informally. Process and procedure were important, but the ones we had weren't ready to grow to 450 people on 7 floors in 4 different buildings. The number of applications grew that much too, and the number of devices more so.

The silos that were always kind of there, no longer melted away by proximity. We needed good ways to talk about planned and on going change controls, better ways to inform and get the right people for incident management. Email and meetings were not cutting it, and we had Skype for business, but it was best at 1 to 1 instant messages. Integration to "other stuff" was ugly, and we need something.

So what does slack do well?

     Great mobile client with decent ability to let people control notifications. Its good for off-hours support, and easy to mute/disable if you aren't the support on-call.

     Good 'Many to Many' and 'One to many' communication. Some of the things we are about to change needed 5 minute discussions, but coordinating a dozen experts in different areas is though, and email doesn't handle back and forth well. Chat           rooms have been an improvement. When you are working an issue or a change, that gets posted to a specific places. People who need to be tuned in can get alerts.

     It helps finding people, after hours you may not know who to track down, or what their cell # is. On call devices get notifcations for down things, or high priority incidents. People know to have notifications on what they care about, and people know      not to abuse direct mentions, or ignore a call for assistance.

Do people also coordinate lunch on slack? Send gifs? Sure. But they likely just move normal distractions into an area that is comfortable. Corporate culture is likely the real issue when you try to figure out productivity and these types of tools. Either they don't want them or they don't use them to be productive. Tools don't fix people, that's nothing new.


Cool article

My perception of Slack & Teams & other similar offerings is that they aren't the cause of problems, even as they aren't the solution.

People are the cause of lost productivity, and the source of efficient conversation and use of time.

Get people thinking towards a goal with efficiency and it doesn't matter if they're using chat or phones or e-mail or apps--the work will be done.

But hire people who don't stay on target, who haven't trained themselves to stay focused and on task, who can't avoid adding humorous or objectionable or unhelpful remarks . . . and you've got the makings for lost work and productivity for the whole team.

Let's not focus on the apps for communication; focus on getting people to think the way the job requires for the right kind of outcomes.

I've read that FB has been working to implement a fix for users who pass away without closing their accounts first.  It's obviously not been implemented and enforced.

Our InfoSec and Citrix teams have worked closely for years.  I don't know if the kind of problem reported in the Citrix article has happened, or is ongoing, here, but I trust our people and their tools and training to prevent it.

Of course, Citrix Corporate did the same thing, and look how their name is being dragged through the mud . . .

Blockchain testing by a bank seems reasonable in theory, but any banks or businesses who USE blockchain surely haven't seen the reports about how it's filled with risk and is unreliable.

Folks who fail to study history--even recent IT history, like BitCoin and other blockchain offerings--are doomed to repeat it by having their money lost or stolen.

Talk about building the ideal target for bad folks with Docker and its peers!

If you were a hacker or a malicious entity (private, corporate, or governmental) wouldn't you just LOVE to have access to "a place where developers can store app "containers," which can be quickly deployed or moved"?

Especially if it contained "tokens from other much-used developer resources, including GitHub and Bitbucket" that you could easily steal.

It's just another example of how the cloud isn't where you want anything of value.


I like it when restaurants post their menu outside:

I sympathize with the concerns about money and resources being able to be spent in better ways than an Olympic venue.

In my opinion, the biggest problems are where cities or countries build new facilities to try to improve their face value in the world without first planning practical means of using those facilities once the Olympic event is complete.

There are even lists of multiple sites that experienced huge financial disasters due to their poor planning, and the result is the poor grew poorer, the sick and needy weren't helped.  And new slums were created in the very places that were presented to the world as representing a bright and shiny future of optimism for that country's people.

Here Are the 7 Biggest Financial Disasters in Modern Olympic History | Fortune

I remember the headlines about injuries and deaths in Action Park.  It sure seems strange it wasn't razed to the ground years ago.


The Rise and Fall of Action Park, New Jersey’s Most Dangerous Water Park - HISTORY

Something about the statue of that red cow's head & ears made me think it was a dog.



Level 12

[Hi from the Seattle SWUG. I had the courtesy to wait until your presentation was over sqlrockstar before commenting.]

From the Productivity article-- “Productivity software should be something you use less than the thing you used before.” Makes me think that outcome of social media is anti-social behavior, and bills in congress do the opposite of what the title of the bill makes you think it will accomplish.

Level 12

I need a restaurant with this outside it--


Image source:

Level 17

So, there's a bit to unpack here, but I'll stick to my main point: I wish we could raise $6.9 billion to combat things like poverty, hunger, and homelessness as easily as we do for events like the Olympics or World Cup.

The benefits for host cities are not clear. You mentioned some possible ones, but history shows that host cities struggle to see gains during and after the event. And when you factor in graft and corruption, you can find cases where the gains went to very few at the expense of the larger whole.


If you ever visit Duluth, Minnesota, looking for barbecued wonderfulness, consider this venue:

OMC Smokehouse

"Oink, Moo, Cluck" is what "OMC" stands for, and the food there has pleased us every time we've visited.

The pictures might say it all, even though this link seems to say it goes to another kind of web page entirely--don't believe it:

Google Maps: Report Inappropriate Image

Level 17

It's about overload. Slack enabled me to go from one inbox to 91 inboxes. It's just the latest in a long list of productivity tools that start out great, but don't work as well once everyone is using them.

I also found it difficult to stay connected with user communities, as Slack offers no way to block other users. This is by design, as Slack is meant for the workplace. But since Slack is used by many communities, it loses value as it becomes far more noise than signal.

Level 14


Now here is a combo I have not tried yet... The lead two ingredients a my personal favs...

Restaurant is a short drive away... next on my bucket list...

(Courtesy of Litchfields Bar and Grill Post Rd. Wells ME 04090)

Level 14

I am not sure that anyone will care 50 years after I am gone as to what I wrote on FB... But it's nice  to know that they want me to be remembered...  

(Seriously... I had a friend who died a couple of years ago and it was strange to see people wish him Happy Birthday thinking he was still around..... strange!)

Level 14

The LA 2028 Olympics....

I am really disappointed with the whole concept of each venue trying to out do previous hosts. Billions spent on venues that really never get used fully seems a total waste. It truly takes away from the original concept of bringing the games back as "The Modern Olympic Games". It has gone so far off course and made the sports themselves and after thought.... (IMHO)

Level 13

Thanks for the articles

Level 16

The productivity pit: how Slack is ruining work

Our IT department is spread across the state as well as a lot of people work remote. Teams helps out greatly in working with other people throughout the org.

Level 16

Everything else... hot dogs

Level 13

Just think what our public transportation would be with $6.9B. 

Level 14

I think we need to train people to understand that the universe doesn't revolve around them and not everyone wants to hear their meaningless drivel.  Any tool that helps a geographically diverse team to communicate and work better has to be good but it also shouldn't be used for too much non work related stuff.  We use Teams and, as we are all reasonably sensible, it is self moderated.  If someone gets out of hand they get slapped down.  It is also recorded and everyone knows.

Level 14

Facebook.  Surely they just need to have something in their terms and conditions.  Once you are dead the account gets frozen.  A nominated next of kin is allowed 3 months to copy off anything they want to keep then the account gets deleted.

Level 14

Citrix hacked.  It could have been anyone but, because it is an IT company, it seems worse.  It's not as if it is an inherent flaw in their product.  Just the same hack that happens everywhere else.  Now, if it WAS an issue with their software, that would be a worthwhile story.

Level 14

Blockchain not much use.  At last.  Common sense starts to prevail.

Level 14

Now, the Docker breach is much more of a story.  There are some serious ramifications for this one as it could lead to further breaches depending on what was stolen.

Level 14

Olympics.  I live in London.  Londoners were taxed extra to fund the Olympics in 2012.  I haven't seen any benefits as all the new build sporting venues are on the far side of London and take well over an hour to get to.  Also, who wants to go to Stratford anyway.  It did mean a large area of London was knocked down to build stuff and businesses and people were forced to move.  OK, the athletes village is now low cost housing and West Ham United (A football / soccer team) have a new stadium but there's not much else.  I guess the construction companies made a few quid and some people got jobs for a while but was it really worth it.  I don't know.  All I do know is that I helped to pay for it and get no benefit from it.  Thanks.   

Level 14

Action Park.  I want to go there.

Level 14

There's a restaurant in Toulouse with a cow like that showing the cuts of meat.  I particularly liked the Araignée.  Spider steak - heavily marbled.

Level 13

Never heard of Action Park.  I'm definitely one of the folks that would have gone though.

The ridiculous / literal side of my mind flashed an image of a spider about three-feet in diameter, flattened on a marble countertop, ready for grilling.

Eeeww!  "Alternate-mind-image, GO AWAY!"

Level 14

Awwwww.  Now you are making me hungry.  Would you grill it legs on or off ?

Level 12

Finally got around to ready this group of articles. One of my favorite parts of your series are the wonderfully strange turns the conversations take....Thanks for the great articles and the weekly chuckles....

I'd grill it legs off because they'd cook faster than the body.  No one wants charred legs and a body with a raw interior.

All parts should be nicely tender, well-done, but still with juicy flavor.


Level 12

and there will be my nightmare for the next several weeks!

Level 14

Yep, that was my thinking.  The legs would just crisp up.  Might be a good idea to singe the hair off first too.

Level 16

Your doing it wrong, the Bird Eating Spider is supposed to be served very rare, legs on, with a sprinkle of Adobo seasoning on top.

About one minute each side on the grill, just enough to singe the hair off.

The legs should be evenly spaced, hanging out the bun when served.

Best with a red wine.

Level 20

I like the menu too.

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.