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The Actuator – October 11th

Level 17

Are you excited about THWACKcamp, yet? It's next week, and I am flying down to Austin to be there for the live broadcast. Go here to register. Do it now!

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

It’s official: Data science proves Mondays are the worst

I like having data to back up what we already knew about Mondays.

The Seven Deadly Sins of AI Predictions

A bit long, but worth the read. Many of these sins apply to predictions in general, as well as Sci-Fi writing.

Who should die when a driverless car crashes? Q&A ponders the future

I've thought and talked a lot about autonomous cars, but I’ve never once pondered what the car should do when faced with a decision about who should die, and who should live.

Traceroute Lies! A Typical Misinterpretation Of Output

Because I learned something new here and you might too: MPLS is as dumb as a stump.

Replacing Social Security Numbers Is Harder Than You Think

And they make for lousy primary keys, too.

Russia reportedly stole NSA secrets with help of Kaspersky—what we know now

I included this story even though it hasn't yet been confirmed because I wanted to remind everyone that there is at least one government agency that listens to the American people: the NSA.

History of the browser user-agent string

And you will read this, and there will be much rejoicing.

Shopping this past weekend I found these socks and now I realize that SolarWinds needs to up our sock game:



Regarding custom socks, I'll see your Duchess of SassyTown Women's crew socks, and raise you a full set of men's Lucas Films socks.


Mondays:  BAD!

     But you made me happy with this article about Mondays!  I smiled.  Next time, post it on a Monday!

Failed AI Imaginings:  

     You're on a roll here.  This is the second article that made me glad today.  It also made me glad to be literate and well-read in SF.  Keep this trend up!

Driverless Cars Deciding Who Dies?

     Designers of driverless roads and vehicles get to think out of the box here.  I think a driverless car evaluating car crash fatalities or injuries is a waste of time.  Let's get totally BEYOND a car making that decision--or even a main frame or super computer or the cloud.  Instead, let's eliminate the possibility for a driverless car to be in a crash at all.  There are virtually infinite examples of crashes and their causes--nearly all of which are thoroughly understood and documented.  Before we make the mistake of letting driverless cars decide which people should be hurt, let's prevent the accident from happening entirely.  We know the effects on driving of weather, hardware failure, natural disasters, Carringon Effects, malfeasance, stray animals, and law breaking.  Design highways and vehicles to prevent those things from causing harm.  OF COURSE!

Traceroute Lying?

     Then use NetPath!  Or, is NetPath vulnerable to the same flaws & misunderstandings and errors as Traceroute?

Social Security Numbers:

     I'll disagree with that author when they state "The problem underlying identify theft is not the existence of SSN's, but rather, how little authentication is done for a person requesting credit."  The author has accepted something I don't:  that the vulnerable / limited SSN is the problem.  Instead, he should have focused on the real problem:   people hacking & probing & stealing to leverage the SSN's vulnerabilities and limitations.  OK, I'll go along with a better system if one arrives, but until that time let's work on being the village raising the child and teach new generations ethics and morals that will make a safer tomorrow for all of us.  No, not just in one country or in another, not in most countries--but in ALL countries.  Every individual should be trustworthy.  You'll think I'm unrealistic, but given that anything someone can encrypt or hide or protect, someone else can decrypt or search for or attach, what other solution is there?

Kaspersky = Russian = BAD?

     Rather than judging a company by its ethnic name, the story implies a lot, and encourages us to infer even more.  Let's leave the Russian-sounding-name out of the game and focus on the ethics and foresight.  Should someone have vetted the company better?  Should there have been foresight that called out obvious checks & balances?  Well, hindsight is 20:20, and if the article's slant is toward the truth, then it's just another case of not raising kids the ethical / moral / just way all around the world.  Put children in environments that are safe, healthy, well-monitored, and give them supervised guidance and rewards for good behavior and something extremely unpleasant for bad behavior.  Take away bad influences and examples.  And see if you don't end up with less selfish kids who turn into better adults.  Who won't steal.

And LO, the "History of the browser user-agent string" article was rendered complex and interesting and silly.

     This one made me smile, too.  But the ending of the article:  "and the user agent string was a complete mess, and near useless, and everyone pretended to be everyone else, and confusion abounded." left us wailing and gnashing our teeth in the wilderness, searching and expecting and hoping for a denouement that remains forever out of sight.

     Mozarella The Edgy Explorer will come in one of the pre-chosen forms to provide the closure foretold by the Gates-Jobs I.T. Subterfuge. During the rectification of the Cloud, the Lactose-Intolerant Explorer came as a large and moving pseudo-packet! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the 802.1x supplicants, they chose a new form for him - that of a giant Pizza Wedge! Many SysAdmins and CISSPS knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of a pizza oven that day, I can tell you!

Level 12

pastedImage_0.jpgI got these from Loot Crate.


user agent string theory...

This made me chuckle as I remember those days.

I have a son in-law that now has sock envy regarding those Lucas themed socks.

Level 20

I like the Kaspersky link... here's one for you Thomas!  I saw this and you immediately came to mind!!!

Introduction to SQL Server Management Objects with PowerShell -- Microsoft Certified Professional Ma...

Here's another interesting one... I wonder how netpath would handle the MPLS vs. traceroute?

Level 14

Good stuff!!! sqlrockstar

Traceroute......Glad I use NetPath

Who dies.... great.... some algorithm determines whether the car I drive brick walls.... (then what... who's at fault .... my insurance company would sure want to know!).

SSN's - the saga continues.

Browser Begats - Awesome.... In the beginning there was an awestruck appreciation..... in the end colossal confusion.


may not be who dies but rather what is the least legally liable route to take...

Level 14

well said!

Level 10



Who says there are no Princess Leia Socks?

Google 'em--you'll find 'em!


You can also find the matching Skywalker Twins socks:


Level 12

I still think autonomous driving will reduce accidents to a point not seen since before cars were made. I trust AI choices more then 99% of the people on the road right now. In the unlikely situation where an accident cannot be avoided, it comes down to a choice of the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few.

For a good playout of this, take a look at Will Smith's character in the movie I Robot. He lives with the guilt of being saved by a robot after an accident when a family of people in another vehicle were not saved. The robot calculated based on injuries and everything else that Smith's character had the highest chance of survival, and saved him instead of the people in the other vehicle.

It might seem cold and calculated, and that is exactly what it is. If a situation like that comes up, you chose the best path with the most positive outcome for the most number of people. I would prefer this kind of calculation being made then a panic choice of just locking up and nothing being done at all, or worse the wrong choice being made out of self preservation or anything like that. Then again that is just me.



Mondays: I am the statistical anamoly. I like Mondays. My weekends are usually hectic with kid's stuff, yardwork, etc. On Monday I get to sit down and relax at work... lol

Traceroute: Tracert = not the only tool in your toolbox! NetPath leads the way!  😉

NSA secrets - Why are we surprised? Did the name Kapersky not give it away? Seriously though... I am begining to lose faith in everything.

Socks: Where I was at this weekend had a store that sold great socks! I would have provided pictures... Maybe next time. My collection has penguins, bacon, Darth Vader, and a wide assortment of Christmas-themed.

Level 17

It's crazy to think about such a need. If it were a human driving a car that resulted in a crash we wouldn't think about dissecting their brain to determine why they decided to make certain choices. But here we are, trying to build a brain to make decisions, and then likely end up in a place where we have to pull apart code to figure out what happened. I think the better option is to find a way to avoid incidents from ever happening. No, I don't know how to make that happen, but I wish I did.


Level 21

I find the whole Kaspersky debacle very sad because Kaspersky is the best anti-virus software I have ever worked with in an enterprise environment not to mention they always had great support.

Level 20

There's a LOT more going on than you hear in the news I think.  This story has parts the public will never know.

I'd be interested in learning any more, if you have something approaching a concise summary, ecklerwr1​.  I realize it's not your responsibility, and that you're correct about there being much not getting publicized.  So don't feel singled out if you haven't more to share.

It's one of those combinations of politics, security, business, profit/loss, human-frailties on Kaspersky's part, I bet.

Level 20

One big part of the problem you don't hear them talking about is that while installed the software will route a bunch of information across servers in Russia.  The backbone networks which traffic to these servers must traverse are known to be monitored by the FSB:

Russian law requires telecommunications service providers such as Kaspersky Lab to install communications interception equipment that allows the FSB to monitor all of a company's data transmissions."

Not that some of the same thing doesn't happen here in America as well with some of our tech companies.


Sadly, the NSA views all traffic here, too. But at least we knew about that!

Level 14

There was no need for research to tell you that Mondays are BAD.  The Boomtown Rats told us why Mondays are bad years ago.