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Byte Wars

timothy posted about 12 years ago | from the the-sanest-days-are-mad dept.

Security 169

Peter Wayner writes: "A friend of mine who works as a public defender knows a thing or two about selling fear to the jury filled with doubts. Several months before December 31st, 1999, he asked me if we should be worried about the Y2K disasters. My answer was: The machines crash every day. Why should it matter if it happens on December 31st?" This time around though, the fears are of a different nature and scope: Peter reviews below Edward Yourdon's latest book Byte Wars, one aimed at everyone concerned about online terrorism in the post-9/11 climate.

My friend who nodded as if this was the same game he played every day in the courtroom. If no one knew what was going to happen, the jury's instincts could be manipulated with a mixture of fear, sympathy and tribalism. Juries were always afraid of watching a good, relatively innocent man lose everything, he explained. Corporate executives were just as worried of the same thing happening to them.

The Y2K binge is long gone and the biggest effect on computers seems to be found in the bits representing the bank accounts of Y2K consultants. Gimmicks may fade but human nature and human fear remains the same. The destruction of the World Trade Center has given new life to the fear mongers who worry that someone may obliterate our electronic infrastructure. Edward Yourdon, the old school computer consultant who made plenty of noise about Y2K, is back with another book, Byte Wars: The Impact of September 11th on Information Technology .

When I say old school, I mean that he started programming and writing about programming in the mid 1970s and this shows in the way he spells ( "Obe Wan Kenobee") and talks about "paradigm shifts" instead of "memes." He comes from the age group that decided how much to spend on Y2K and he knows how to talk to the group that will control how much we spend on our fears of terrorism.

There is no mention of his record on Y2K on the book cover or the biography, but if you're interested, the net never forgets. The book does mention the scary days of December 1999 a bit in passing, but only to note that there was "very little awareness in the media" that some "small organizations did suffer moderate-to-severe Y2K problems." He also notes with some pride that many companies survived the turmoil after the World Trade Center attack because they made so many preparations for the turn of the millennium.

This time around Yourdon is blessed with a much more concrete threat and this both helps and hurts his cause. On one hand, no one can debate the power of airplanes as weapons in the same way we can still debate whether Y2K would make a difference to embedded controllers. On the other hand, it's not really clear what the latest attacks have to do with computer networks. He even notes that the DOD's computers were relatively unhurt by the destruction of the Pentagon. How many web sites or e-commerce sites can anyone knock out with a box cutter? One company I knew with offices on the 81st floor of the World Trade Center used a co-lo facility that survived. Their web site kept on pumping out hits even after their entire office turned to dust.

Yourdon dodges all of this by being politely vague and abstract. His chapter on risk management, for instance, counsels that we should find a "realistic assessment of risks" and weigh the probability against the danger. If we develop a process to deal with the risk, then we can ensure that the risks are shared between the stakeholders. Most of the chapter could have been written at any time about any risk , but he makes it all a bit more current by including a few references to kamikaze players who are shifting the paradigm.

Some of his advice gets so abstract that it's hard to know exactly what he is suggesting. He tells us to "examine the practical impact of increased security and decreased privacy." To him, that means warning people who rely upon the social freedom of "don't ask, don't tell" to realize that so much information about us will eventually be documented by the new security state. "Now is the time to think about such matters, not two or three years from now when you suddenly find that you can't get a job, or can't buy a house in a particular neighborhood." Should we rise up or acquiesce? Which side is he on? I'm still not sure. He does such a good job playing to everyone's fears.

Occasionally, he doles out some practical advice that is close to the needs of managers worried about the aftereffects of 9/11. We are told that terrorists may be posing as "ordinary employees" or even government employees who've "risen to high levels of trust and authority." He reminds us that "hardly anyone watches the programmers." Is some terrorist slipping in a buffer-overflow loophole? Or maybe just a crook? One of the most practical suggestions is that corporations should do more code reviews.

He's also hip to some of the latest intellectual fads. Emergent organisms like Napster can be useful and resilient. He's a big fan of empowering employees by cutting away bureaucracy so the organization can evolve some emergent intelligence. Of course, we must also be ready for more scrutiny from the security bureaucracy checking to ensure that the emergent organism isn't evolving buffer-overflow backdoors. This gets a bit confusing and he waves away much of conflict with abstract calls for balance.

In the end, Yourdon can't offer many answers because there aren't many answers to give. We had risks, terrorism, info warfare, bombs and whatnot before September 11th and we'll meet them again despite the security. Anarchists detonated a horse powered wagon filled with explosives in front of the NY Fed in the 1920s. Not much has really changed and the book ends up being a distilled version of the inchoate fears that haunt us.

The real challenge is determining how much fear we should have. Yourdon is far from the only person who automatically assumes that the attacks on New York mean more attention to cybersecurity. All of the major beltway consultants near Washington are gearing up with the new tools. The more I read the book, the more I began wondering why. Why do some kamikaze hijackers mean that the web needs to be locked down? Who really has time to worry about some al Queda l33t d00dz owning my site when so many people are dying true deaths that can't be fixed with backup tapes?

At the end of one of the chapters, Yourdon exhorts us to get our act together and secure our home computers. Our old, pre-9/11 computing style was equivalent to "living in a house with the doors and windows wide open", he says, something that was "a pleasant way to live if you were in a small town in the 1950s."

Ah, the 50s. He and everyone else should rent a copy of George Lucas's pre-Star Wars classic, "American Graffiti." In one scene, the teenagers cheerfully drop a cherry bomb down the school's toilet. In another, they destroy a police car by wrapping a chain around the rear axle. The laugh track blessed both events in the movie, but all of us know that they would bring out the SWAT teams today.

The movie managed to avoid much of the discussion about Eisenhower, Francis Gary Powers, the Russian H-Bomb, or any of the other fears rippling down our spines. The 50's seem so much more fun after editing out the fact that the Russians had (and still have) fusion bombs on the tips of missiles. No amount of frisking by airport security can keep them out of our airspace. Yet we survived and managed to laugh about kids trashing police cars.

Another solution is not to quiver and worry about Osama bin Hacker's script kiddies. We can redefine the terms of engagement in much the same way that the cops in the "American Graffiti" just laughed at those impish kids. Hacked web sites are easy to restore if you have adequate backups. Denial of service attacks from zombies on cable modems sound threatening, but they rarely last longer than Friday evening rush hour.

It's hard to argue with much of the plainspoken, largely abstract advice offered by Yourdon. All of it makes good sense. The harder problem is finding the right attitude to carry us through the night. This book is filled with worry for our future and awe of the unseen l33t d00dz hiding under the bed. There are bits of light and a stab at optimism near the end, but most of the book trades on the thoughts that will keep us up well past midnight.

Peter Wayner has two resilient books emerging this spring: Translucent Databases , an exploration of database security, and Disappearing Cryptography: Information Hiding, Steganography and Watermarks , the second edition devoted to hiding secret messages in plain sight. You can purchase Byte Wars from bn.com. Want to see your own review here? Just read the book review guidelines, then use Slashdot's handy submission form.

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First "Who Fucking Cares" Post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358354)

Really, does anyone even read anymore, let alone care about books?

Widening Wars! (-1)

Klerck (213193) | about 12 years ago | (#3358356)

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Email me and tell me what you think of widening! [mailto]

Re:Widening Wars! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358876)

Your page widening post owns.

Slashdot is dying (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358370)

It is now official - a Slashdot poll has confirmed: Slashdot is dying

Yet another crippling bombshell hit the beleaguered Slashdot community when recently a poll on the site confirmed that up-to-date and factually-correct stories account for less than 40 percent of all submitted news stories, that the user-moderation system has fallen to pieces through the oppressive power of the editors, and that subscribers don't need to pay and can use such software as JunkBuster to filter out adverts. Coming on the heels of the latest MSNBC survey which plainly states that Slashdot has lost more readers, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. Slashdot is collapsing in complete disarray, as further exemplified by failing dead last [kuro5hin.com] [kuro5hin.com] in the recent Kuro5hin technology site popularity test.

You don't need to be a Kreskin [amdest.com] [amdest.com] to predict Slashdot's future. The hand writing is on the wall: Slashdot faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for it because Slashdot is dying. Things are looking very bad for the site. As many of us are already aware, Slashdot continues to lose readers. Red ink flows like a river of blood. The subscribers scheme is the most endangered of them all, having lost 62% of its paying readers.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

Slashdot editor Rob Malda (CmdrTaco) states that there are 700 paying subscribers to Slashdot. How many normal readers are there? Let's see. The number of subscriber versus reader posts on Slashdot is roughly in ratio of 1 to 4. Therefore there are about 700*4 = 2800 normal casual readers. Anonymous Coward posts are about half of the volume of the typical posts. Therefore there are about 1400 readers who can't be bothered setting up an account. A recent article put the Trolls, who post sexual insults, foul ASCII art pictures and links to vile sites, at about 80 percent of the Slashdot readership. Therefore there are (700+8400+4200)*4 = 19600 trolling readers. This is consistent with the number of Troll posts.

Due to the troubles of Andover.net, abysmal hit counts and so on, Slashdot went out of business and was taken over by OSDN who run another troubled site. Now OSDN is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that Slashdot has steadily declined in readership. It is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If Slashdot is to survive at all it will be among geeky hobbyist dabblers. Slashdot continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, Slashdot is dead.

So why now? Why did Slashdot fail? Once you get over the myriad of incompatible personalities, particularly among the editors who have repeatedly failed to check for serious inaccuracies in their stories (see the FreeBSD 4.5 "release" as a shocking example), it's clear that subscribers will continue to decrease. Using software such as JunkBuster, readers can eliminate adverts without having to pay any money. These two significant factors, along with the corrupted "moderation" scheme (where editors have infinite power over the regular moderators), only confirm yet further that Slashdot's glory days are coming to an end.

Fact: Slashdot is dying

Rwanda (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358401)

The US government came under fire on Tuesday over its stance during Rwanda's 1994 mass killings following the release of declassified official documents showing Washington anticipated events now seen as among the most gruesome atrocities of the late 20th century.

"The US response was literally running away from any responsibility," said Salih Booker, director of the Africa Policy Center. He was reacting to documents, released on Monday by the National Security Archive, showing that as bloodthirsty Hutu militias fanned out across Rwanda, US diplomats advocated "an orderly withdrawal" of the Rwanda-based UN force known as UNAMIR that some believe could have helped protect civilians. According to Booker, the documents belie the claim made at the time that the administration of former president Bill Clinton was unaware of the scale of the killings.

"This report makes clear that the US was aware, but decided not only not to stop genocide, but also to prevent others from intervening in a way that could have saved hundreds or thousands of lives," he added. "No one had the political will to act," said William Ferrogiaro, project director of the National Security Archives, an independent research agency. "There were advocates for an initiative but bureaucratic infighting slowed the US response to the genocide." "US officials knew exactly who was leading the genocide, and actually spoke with leaders to urge an end to violence," said Ferrogiaro.

In fact, the deaths of US soldiers the year before in Somalia and difficult interventions in Haiti and Bosnia dissuaded the Clinton administration from doing more, Ferrogiaro said. US State Department representative Philip Reeker said on Tuesday the priority at the time had been protecting US citizens. "In the midst of this massive tragedy, our first response was to try and sort through the chaos and confusion to protect American citizens."

But he said it was important the international community "seek to learn lessons from the events in Rwanda in 1994." Offering to refer reporters back to statements made by Clinton in 1998, Reeker added that, "we fully recognise that what engulfed Rwanda at that time was, in fact -- as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has since determined, was genocide."

The killing rampage was triggered by the April 6, 1994, death of Rwandan Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana in a suspicious plane crash blamed by many Hutu on ethnic Tutsi. Within hours of the crash, according to witnesses, extremist Hutu militias backed by elements of the armed forces set up roadblocks and barricades in preparation for the 100-day massacre that would eventually take the lives of as many as 800 000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu. The US Defence Department knew about these activities, the newly released documents show.

In a memorandum to undersecretary of defence Frank Wisner dated April 11, 1994, a Pentagon official noted that "unless both sides can be convinced to return to the peace process, a massive (hundreds of thousands of deaths) bloodbath will ensue that would likely spill over into Burundi." But just three days later, the State Department instructed the US mission at the United Nations to work toward a withdrawal of the UNAMIR mission. The "department believes that there is insufficient justification to retain a UN peacekeeping presence in Rwanda and that the international community must give highest priority to full, orderly withdrawal of all UNAMIR personnel as soon as possible," the confidential cable said. The UN Security Council voted April 21, 1994, to pull out the troops.

Even as images of mutilated bodies began appearing on television screens, US officials were loath to classify the killings as genocide for fear it would compel the United States to intervene, the documents indicated. The Pentagon also shot down a proposal to use US electronic jamming planes to silence Hutu hate radio broadcasts inciting further killings.

There was no immediate reaction to the documents' release from the Pentagon.

Kuro5hin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358766)

If you find any sources to back this up, post it as a story on Kuro5hin [kuroshin.org] instead. If you want a discussion, that is.

Kuro5hin is for Hippies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358918)

Read the above statement carefully.

terrorists eh? (-1, Flamebait)

n3r0.m4dski11z (447312) | about 12 years ago | (#3358409)

we are told that terrorists may be posing as "ordinary employees" or even government employees who've "risen to high levels of trust and authority."

like oh, say president of the USA?

Go to Hell, Fuckwit. (-1)

TrollBridge (550878) | about 12 years ago | (#3358432)

I may not be speaking on behalf of most of the CLIT (Community of Logged-In Trolls) but may I be the first to say go to Hell.

If Gore were president, you'd probably be sucking on Osama Bin-Laden's ass right now.

Re:Go to Hell, Fuckwit. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358490)

oh face it...do you really think Bushie, one of the wealthy elite, one of the wealthy families in America really cares about ordinary people...let me repeat...do you really think the wealthy cares about you???

If you do you must by one of those who uses $100 bills to wipe your ass between lithium doses

Re:Go to Hell, Fuckwit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358728)

If Gore were president there would probably be two more very tall buildings in NYC.

Re:Go to Hell, Fuckwit. (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | about 12 years ago | (#3358759)

If gore were president, Bin Laden would have a fucking sitcom right now and your dad would still be getting sodomized in jail.

Hmm. (3, Funny)

MrFredBloggs (529276) | about 12 years ago | (#3358414)

"one aimed at everyone concerned about online terrorism in the post-9/11 climate"

"Hey, how are we going to flog this tedious book about computers?"

"Simple - put something about terrorists in it. Get me some clip art of a Arab looking guy with a gun or something."

Open Doors? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358523)

Our old, pre-9/11 computing style was equivalent to "living in a house with the doors and windows wide open"

There is an OS called Doors? And Windows isn't Open, it is just broken, constantly.

Re:Hmm. (2)

sweet reason (16681) | about 12 years ago | (#3358891)

"Hey, how are we going to flog this tedious book about computers?"

"Simple - put something about terrorists in it."

9/11 can tie into anything. soon after the event, as i turned to the food section of my daily paper, i thought "at least they won't tie this into 9/11". but there it was: an article on comfort food and fear of terrorism!

How to Think about Security (5, Insightful)

Alien54 (180860) | about 12 years ago | (#3358418)

as I saw yesterday on RFN [radiofreenation.net], , Bruce Schneier [counterpane.com] has an interesting piece in the latest issue of CryptoGram [counterpane.com] has an interesting article entitled How to Think about Security [counterpane.com]"

This is very useful. Damn Useful.

here is part of the info from the RFN story:

Here is
Bruce Schneier [counterpane.com]'s five step process, in brief.

This five-step process works for any security measure, past, present, or future:

  1. What problem does it solve?
  2. How well does it solve the problem?
  3. What new problems does it add?
  4. What are the economic and social costs?
  5. Given the above, is it worth the costs?
Take step one above, for example. Here is part of Schneier's comment on it:

Step one: What problem does the security measure solve? You'd think this would be an easy one, but so many security initiatives are presented without any clear statement of the problem. National ID cards are a purported solution without any clear problem. Increased net surveillance has been presented as a vital security requirement, but without any explanation as to why.

I love the insightful simplicity of the piece.

Re:How to Think about Security (5, Insightful)

volsung (378) | about 12 years ago | (#3358514)

Forget security measures. The process you describe should be applied to every proposed solution to just about any problem, regardless of whether it relates to security, technology, or politics.

Re:How to Think about Security (2)

Alien54 (180860) | about 12 years ago | (#3358538)

The process you describe should be applied to every proposed solution to just about any problem, regardless of whether it relates to security, technology, or politics.

I am going to get this to the attention of my local congressman.

They need all the help they can get.

Security as a Wicked Problem (4, Interesting)

jfsather (310648) | about 12 years ago | (#3358521)

I don't know how many of you get Software Development magazine, but they had an interesting article on wicked problems in the latest issue. The quick definition from the article header is this:

When you're scrambling to complete a never-ending task and no one can decide what "done" means, it helps to know that there's a name for this situation--and it's not a four-letter word.
This is essentially what the problem is with developing security plans--you never really know when you are done. The other problem is that you never have one true answer. Sure a national ID card seems like a good idea, but is it the right answer to the right question? Anyway, you can find the article here: Wicked Problems [sdmagazine.com].

Re:Security as a Wicked Problem (3, Interesting)

Alien54 (180860) | about 12 years ago | (#3358590)

After quickly looking at the article on "Wicked Problems" (damn good read, thanks for the Link) the basic problem I see that defines it are conflicting goals and purposes.

if you have a single goal, then most of the time, design and planning go well. When you have a conflict in agendas at any level, you will compromises.

Typical example: vehicle safety:

The maximum safe car likely resembles a tank. This is not incompatible with comfort because you could have a luxury interior.

Driving pleasure and exterior styling are more difficult.

Now meet a price point.

Selling the Luxury high performance tank will be relatively easy if price is no limit. Doing it under 20k (US) is maybe another story.

Schneier's Guilty of the same Scare mongering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358545)

Well, yes and no. He's certainly saner than Yourdon, but he does like to sell his monitoring service. Are we really secure? Schneier likes to wring his hands and worry alot too. I love the bogus counter clicking off the number of network events the company monitored. [counterpane.com] Sheesh. I guess I shouldn't be so negative. Security is important and you do need to make this obvious to people. But I wish there was a way that didn't involve being a scare monger.

paradigm shifts (-1, Flamebait)

alister667 (254980) | about 12 years ago | (#3358420)

The next person to use the phrase 'paradigm shifts' should be thrashed to within an inch of his/her life.

Y2K Problems (4, Funny)

wiredog (43288) | about 12 years ago | (#3358434)

I remember going to the Official Time Clock [navy.mil] of the US Naval Observatory and seeing the time as "00:01 01/01/19100".

Re:Y2K Problems (0, Troll)

MrP- (45616) | about 12 years ago | (#3358651)

Yeah, me too. I was so confused, I thought the world would end any second, so I shot myself.

Re:Y2K Problems (3, Interesting)

sweet reason (16681) | about 12 years ago | (#3358847)

I remember going to the Official Time Clock of the US Naval Observatory

i went there a few years ago and found the clocks didn't work. the html was so badly broken that it was amazing the browser didn't crash. i sent them a message about that, and they replied that the site was "browser dependent". in a way -- netscape tolerated the errors enough to put up some clocks; other browsers did not.

i just went back. the site is different but still broken. for example:
<img SRC="/cgi-bin/nph-usnoclock.gif?zone=EST;ticks=11" ALT IMG SRC="/cgi-bin/gifclock.gif?zone=EST">

some of their img tags have alt text saying that you need netscape!

i don't understand how this site was made. there are html editors that make bad code, but that bad? but how could a human produce such nonsense by hand?

Destroy the Micro$oft monopoly! (-1)

GafTheHorseInTears (565684) | about 12 years ago | (#3358437)

So I was at this party talking to this chick, and one thing led to another and we ended up in one of the bedrooms. I was fucking her doggie style, but then I accidently slipped and ended up shoving my dick in her ass. She fucking screams, and everyone in the party came running into the room to see what was going on, and there I am standing there with my dick in my hand, while she's face down on the bed crying. It was really embarassing.

Could have been worse, though. This other time this chick was riding me, and she bounced up too high and when she came down my dick slipped right up into her ass. Know what she did? Said "oooh" and kept on going. That just creeped the fuck out of me, I tell you.

Re:Destroy the Micro$oft monopoly! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358457)

Yeah right. And both of these chicks were your first cousins or sisters I'm sure.

Re:Destroy the Micro$oft monopoly! (-1)

GafTheHorseInTears (565684) | about 12 years ago | (#3358606)

The first one was my second cousin, actually. The second one was your mom.

Kinda sucks - I thought everything would be okay when I came in her ass, because I assumed that you couldn't impregnate shit; but then 9 months later she sat down on the toilet to take a dump, and there you were.

Re:Destroy the Micro$oft monopoly! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358921)

Seems to me the best part of you ran down the crack of your momma's ass after she had sucked and fucked a whole room full of fat Soprano boys. You still don't know who your Daddy is, do you?

Why don't you go play your little games somewhere else, you stupid, sick fuck?

Re:Destroy the Micro$oft monopoly! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358462)

i love chicks who love anal.

Re:Destroy the Micro$oft monopoly! (-1)

GafTheHorseInTears (565684) | about 12 years ago | (#3358683)

I love chicks who white-knuckle the sheets, grit their teeth, and reluctantly submit to anal; but then again, I'm a sick fucking bastard.

Re:Destroy the Micro$oft monopoly! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358740)

Funny, that's exactly what your mom did while I fucked her ass last night. But after I popped her cherry, she wanted more and more...

Re:Destroy the Micro$oft monopoly! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358479)

As long as you were using a condom, hit her in the shitter!

Y, C, et al (3, Insightful)

rot26 (240034) | about 12 years ago | (#3358441)

IIRC, Yourdon is something of an egomaniac.

I don't imagine that there are many subjects that he doesn't feel qualified to write a book about.

Re:Y, C, et al (4, Interesting)

JThaddeus (531998) | about 12 years ago | (#3358563)

Sadly though, as the reviewer implies, Yourdan is the Oracle of Delphi to many PHBs who's computer education ended with dataflow diagrams and HIPO charts. Why? Because their '70s era college texts for IS consisted largely of books by or inspired by Yourdan; because Yourdan has gotten rich selling his snake oil; and because they fancy they'll get rich, too. You know the type of manager I mean--the same sort of IS dumbass that thinks you need Windows servers and that everyone should be running Outlook. Solution? You got me! Every place I've been with more than a couple of dozen employees has had a Yourdan disciple in management.

Re:Y, C, et al (2, Offtopic)

swillden (191260) | about 12 years ago | (#3358825)

Every place I've been with more than a couple of dozen employees has had a Yourdan disciple in management.

And every on-line forum I've visited has a bunch of posters who can't spell a word correctly even when it's right in front of their face.

The man's name is Yourdon.

Re:Y, C, et al (1)

JThaddeus (531998) | about 12 years ago | (#3358913)

Hahahaha! Good one! Or (opps!), am I speaking to a disciple?

Re:Y, C, et al (2)

swillden (191260) | about 12 years ago | (#3358961)

Hahahaha! Good one! Or (opps!), am I speaking to a disciple? Nah, I've glanced through a couple of his books in the bookstore, but that's about it.

And, BTW, since I'm feeling my typo-Nazi oats this morning, the word is spelled "oops" ;-)

Why-2k again? (3, Insightful)

rdmiller3 (29465) | about 12 years ago | (#3358453)

This review was very well done. I especially appreciated the link back to some of the author's previous (and now, dubious) work. Heh, heh, heh... Give that man a "5" for "funny"!

This author looks like the run-o'-the-mill fear-mongering sort that the media loves to trot out when they've got no real news to talk about. So why on earth are we hearing about him at all?

Hmmm.... Maybe I should start writing book reviews for Slashdot! "Review: Discourses of Epictetus, a rational look at the problems of today's world politics and our individual lives"... written only 1900 years ago!


Re:Why-2k again? (2, Insightful)

commonchaos (309500) | about 12 years ago | (#3358609)

This has got to be the best book review I have read in at least a year... Even my short attention span could not distract me from it. He hit the nail on the head when he talked about the "fear-mongering" that goes on.

Re:Why-2k again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358686)

This is not run-o'-the mill fear-mongering, this is classic Yourdon's find-where-the-wind-is-blowing, and then spin-the-subject-into-overdrive.

The biggest threats to most businesses is not terrorism, its tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, fire, flooding, and legal entanglements (whether earned or unearned).

Those 6 threats take down a substantial number of businesses every day. Compared to all of America, only a few businesses were severely hurt, or killed off, by the WTC attack.

The biggest struggle is to get a business to do co-location, especially low-margin, high-volume small businesses.

Y2K still to come!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3359099)

Everyday we come closer to 2048!

Previously predicted... (5, Insightful)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | about 12 years ago | (#3358459)

- The end of the American programmer
- The end of the world in Y2K

Previously retracted...

- The end of the American programmer
- The end of the world in Y2K

The stuff on structured analysis and project managemetn is useful. That's about it.

Re:Previously predicted... (5, Interesting)

nicestepauthor (307146) | about 12 years ago | (#3358897)

I remember trying to use the Yourdon method on a project. We had to draw a hell of a lot of process diagrams that decomposed into lower and more detailed levels. Nobody did all the charts right, and when we were done with the charts nobody looked at them again. It was just a big time sink. We also spent a fortune on CASE tools to draw the damned things. My job was to convince everyone to use these tools and draw the diagrams.

Basically I'd say the guy has been wrong on everything he's ever written. If I was concerned about what terrorists might do to our IT infrastructure before I suppose I should be less concerned now.

oh boy [OT} (0, Offtopic)

teslatug (543527) | about 12 years ago | (#3358467)

I am completely disgusted with everyone milking the September 11th attack for their own benefit. If you have something on your agenda to promote, just find a way to attach it to September 11th and you're set.

sabotage through the internet is similar to (3, Insightful)

Mr. Asdf (267041) | about 12 years ago | (#3358480)

suicide bombers. anyone who puts in the effort can do it. the reason or planet generally survives this is because the vast majority of people are not this way. I personally am in a position such that with the click of a few buttons, or by rewriting one line of code i could cause tens of millions of dollars of damage to multiple production facilities around the world. i probably could even injure people if i got the timing right. but I could just as easily strap on some bombs and detonate myself on a crowded subway too. yet i'm fairly certain i'll never do these things. but surely someone out there will, and we'll just have to deal with it, like we always do.

Re:sabotage through the internet is similar to (2, Insightful)

Liora (565268) | about 12 years ago | (#3358743)

I think you're absolutely right, and yet I also think I'm beginning to hate how cynical statements like that sound and how cynical I must have somehow become in agreeing with statements like that.

I would like to point out, however, that sabotage through the internet is very unlike a suicide bomber in that provided you are not caught, a would-be saboteur could feasibly sabotage again, and again, and again. Successful suicide bombers have but one shot to hurt people.

I am quite convinced that because of this, despite the new fear experienced by many post-9.11, suicide bombers are still the least of our immediate first-world worries.

Not that new.... (0)

slycer9 (264565) | about 12 years ago | (#3358483)

We've all seen pulp fucktion marketed through FUD before. Sensationalistic news sells. Look at the plethora of Jon Benet Ramsay books after the story broke. This is just supermarket tabloid trash.

money grab (2, Insightful)

jest3r (458429) | about 12 years ago | (#3358484)

Isn't this yet another example of someone trying to cash-in from 9/11?

I mean security has always been an issue. Perhaps 9/11 is a wake-up call but surely we don't need a book to tell us that.

Does he consider the /. effect cyberterrorism or free publicity?

YAWN (-1, Offtopic)

Whardie Jones (557451) | about 12 years ago | (#3358491)

I barely read long ass posts. I'd just like to point out that a book like that is a waste of paper. I love how n00b progammers like to talk about stuff instead of actually doing anything.

The colo that survived? (2)

Chagrin (128939) | about 12 years ago | (#3358537)

  • One company I knew with offices on the 81st floor of the World Trade Center used a co-lo facility that survived.
And what if the jet had crashed into that co-lo facility?

Re:The colo that survived? (2)

jonr (1130) | about 12 years ago | (#3358613)

And what if some company used co-lo facility located in WTC?
Can you say DUH?

Re:The colo that survived? (2)

Kintanon (65528) | about 12 years ago | (#3358689)

The WTC wasn't a big enough hulking piece of concrete for most co-los to house themselves in. Every big co-lo I know of is in the equivelant of an underground parking deck with 50+ feet of concrete above them. I doubt an airplane would do a whole lot to that.


Re:The colo that survived? (1)

Tucan (60206) | about 12 years ago | (#3358685)

And what if the jet had crashed into that co-lo facility?

How does your question reflect on the relevance of the WTC and Pentagon attacks in relation to computer networks? What if the jet had crashed into WalMart? Should Kathy Lee write a book telling the fashion industry how to protect it's valuable interests in the wake of terror attacks?

Peter raised the question of what the attacks on the Pentagon and WTC had to do with computer networks. Here's the statement in context.

On the other hand, it's not really clear what the latest attacks have to do with computer networks. He even notes that the DOD's computers were relatively unhurt by the destruction of the Pentagon. How many web sites or e-commerce sites can anyone knock out with a box cutter? One company I knew with offices on the 81st floor of the World Trade Center used a co-lo facility that survived. Their web site kept on pumping out hits even after their entire office turned to dust.

The attacks underlie the premise of the book, but their relevance to the topic of the book is entirely suspect.

BREAKING NEWS: Linus "linux needs new leadership" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358544)

I didn't submit because I'm sure others will.

PEOPLE: Linus Torvalds sent a mail to linux-kernel list stating that it is time for a new leader for lead the future development of linux kernel.

Check it out, and be prepared to comment when the article gets in the front page.

http://www.uwsg.indiana.edu/hypermail/linux/kern el / 204.0/0004.html

Fear is easy to sell (1)

austus (199520) | about 12 years ago | (#3358546)

Why else do you think religion has done so well? If you don't believe ______, you're going to burn in hell baby! ;)

Bush: You are either with us .. #@ +1; Funny @# (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358881)

Courtesy of : George W. Bush Message To Catholics [whitehouse.org] PRESIDENT PUTS U.S. CATHOLICS ON NOTICE: "EITHER YOU ARE WITH US, OR YOU ARE WITH THE CHILD MOLESTERS" Remarks by the President to Assembled Boston Papists THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I want to thank you for inviting my wife and me to Boston, and welcoming us into your incense-saturated place of worship. Laura sends her regrets, as she opted to go to our regular church this morning, inasmuch as she's pretty serious about going to heaven when she dies, and figures that any time spent with you people won't be much help on that front. Of course, normally I wouldn't be here myself, but my aides tell me that this little cult you call a religion is experiencing a bit of a crisis, and that I should take a break from ensuring a steady supply of cheap Arabiac oil and unfettered snowmobiling in our national parks to give you folks some long overdue advice. As you know, I'm a man who speaks his mind. When I've got something to say, I don't waste taxpayer dollars by pussyfooting around like some liberal pantywaist. And so this morning, I'm going to cut straight to the chase with you people. If you're going to worship Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior, you've got to start doing it right, and stop listening to a bunch of sissies in dresses who can't even get themselves a little slice of poontang. I mean, it's no accident that there aren't any priests or mon-señors on my Presidential Prayer Squad. Hell, we've known for decades that every last one of them would rather be poking pre-teen poopers than preaching penitence. And let's be honest with each other for just a minute here - you folks knew it too. Everyone knows you did - which is why most folks are having one hell of a hard time feeling sorry for your cannibalism-reenacting asses. And so this morning, I'm putting the Catholics of America on notice. Every papist, in every state, now has a decision to make. Either you're with us, or you're with the child molesters. From this day forward, any church that continues to harbor or support priests will be regarded by the United States as hostile Christianity. And I strongly suggest you be against the molesters, for the sake of the children. You see, children are the future of America, especially if they're white, and it is our duty to protect them - all the way from conception up until the moment they exit their mother's birth canal, at which point they're responsible for receiving their own health care, except for random drug tests of course, which are wholly necessary for establishing eligibility to participate in public school activities such as "Christ Club," which I'm happy to report will soon be greenlighted by Justice Rehnquist's Supreme Court. So again, I urge you to renounce men in dresses who purport to speak the words of Jesus, lest you happen to be eager to spend an afternoon on the receiving end of an FBI body cavity search. In closing, I want to offer requisite, albeit empty thanks to Cardinal Law for having me here. While I'm obliged to denounce both his bizarre lifestyle and professional indiscretions, I nevertheless tip my hat to him for his determination to remain in office despite overwhelming evidence of incompetence and severe misconduct. Furthermore, I understand that he is the Boston spokesperson for his disease - an arch disease. As an avid jogger myself, I know how important healthy arches are, and offer my semi-sincere condolences to his dress-wearing holiness on that front. Thank you all for your rapt attention, and God Bless.

Y2k (1)

hackwrench (573697) | about 12 years ago | (#3358554)

The fear is not that the system crashes on y2k. The fear is that the system crashes, and crashes and crashes...on and on, also that data generated from those systems will become highly corrupted.

Re:Y2k (2)

Tim C (15259) | about 12 years ago | (#3358723)

Yes and no - there was also the fear that the system would crash, and crash, and crash... and so would the backup(s).

Multiple redunancy is useless if all the systems suffer from the same bug, that kicks in at the same time.



Y2K played down too much (3, Insightful)

coyote-san (38515) | about 12 years ago | (#3358560)

"Computers crash every day...."

Sure. But we weren't concerned about the average number of computers crashing, we were concerned about more computers crashing than normal. And these crashes being more difficult to fix than usual because so many people wrote their own (broken) date routines - there was no single point of failure. This could lead to cascade failures and it was not clear that any natural firebreaks existed to limit the damage.

The best analogy is probably the road net and accidents. You can usually handle a single big accident without a problem. Even two. But at some point you have so many accidents that the system can't cope. But even one really bad accident can shut down traffic citywide for hours, e.g., the torpedo spill at the intersection of I-25 and I-70 in Denver.

We saw this phenomenum in action after 9/11, when the air traffic system shut down, and later when there was the anthrax scare.

Was Y2K oversold? Of course, but the worst offenders were non-techies pushing their own questionable goods or techies trying to reach management too focused on a 6- or 12-month window.

Re:Y2K played down too much (2)

QuantumG (50515) | about 12 years ago | (#3358821)

I worked on date correction hardware in 1999. We were making a product that corrected the hardware real time clocks in PCs. Basically all of them were broken. Our sales people would go out and convince people that it was important. Our cards weren't expensive, and the firmware/drivers were tested better than anything I've ever worked on. There was basically two types of people: gimme and cynical. We supplied good support to the people who said gimme and sold a lot of cards. The cynical people would waste our time sitting through our demos, arguing about the impact. Eventually they ran out of time. We personally went to every single one of them after y2k and asked them how it had gone. The sales guys would tell me how fucked their systems were. Some experienced huge data losses which we really couldn't explain.

Compaq computers have an embedded processor which supplies the entire southbridge, ie, IBM PC compatibility. They offered to their customers a firmware upgrade that would make their computers y2k compliant. We found out about this after we had sold a lot of cards and people were coming back to us for refunds. Why we gave a refund because they had failed to do their homework I dont know. After y2k all their systems were fucked. Compaq's firmware didn't do the job.

In 2001 I got a call from this company saying they had about 400 cards left and they couldn't sell them (obviously). So I was hired to rewrite the firmware to make the card somewhat useful. Using the onboard real time clock we made a card that could lock a computer between certain times. Totally useless product in my opinion. They're on their 8th production run (or something, I dont talk to them anymore).

Call them what you will, but if all these technology startups had hired a sales force like the one I had the pleasure of working with in 1999 we might see a few less chapter 11s.

Um.. Review? (1)

camelrider (46141) | about 12 years ago | (#3358561)

This article is more rant than review. The "reviewer" seems to be more into spin than programming judging by his extensive views regarding Y2K warnings. He has just used this book to express his views on the subject without telling us much about the content of the book.

I, for one, will not read it. (1)

owlmeat (197799) | about 12 years ago | (#3358581)

Yourdon's early books were great, but now it's just a bunch of whiny garbage. It's rather sad that a once-talented CS writer is now reduced to jumping on the latest potential-tragedy-of-the-day for a subject.

Re:I, for one, will not read it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358816)

hey, that reminds me. Bob Woodward wrote another book. Something about The war on terrorism and how it relates to the shadow of Watergate.

Good marketing (3, Insightful)

moankey (142715) | about 12 years ago | (#3358582)

I remember back in college that was what marketing instructors would say religiously.
To sell you have two fundamental resources to use:
- utility
- emotion (fear and safety being the 2 best).

If you use any of the above 2 you will see all advertisements and call to actions are based on it.
In this instance fear.

Buffer Overflow or Backhoe? (3, Insightful)

caudron (466327) | about 12 years ago | (#3358596)

Combating terrorism isn't about protecting against sophisticated attacks. It's about protecting against very cheap, very simple attacks that have wide-reaching effects. They are FAR more likely to backhoe a cable or bomb a server location than to try hacking into it.

Osama isn't employing hackers OR script kiddies, he's employing desert fighters whose expertise is real-world destruction.

Adding in safegaurds against buffer overflows may be a perfectly good idea, but it won't matter a whit to a terrorist bend on causing damage to the Internet.

Its Katz!! (0, Flamebait)

KingKire64 (321470) | about 12 years ago | (#3358607)

The Y2K binge is long gone and the biggest effect on computers seems to be found in the bits representing the bank accounts of Y2K consultants. Gimmicks may fade but human nature and human fear remains the same. The destruction of the World Trade Center has given new life to the fear mongers who worry that someone may obliterate our electronic infrastructure. Edward Yourdon, the old school computer consultant who made plenty of noise about Y2K, is back with another book, Byte Wars: The Impact of September 11th on Information Technology .

Becarefull This is Actually Katz in disguise. He is trying to get us to take him seriously!!!

is Yourdon even credible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358636)

So Yourdon came out of his Y2K proof bunker long enough to publish another work of paranoia?

Is the book being promoted by Art Bell and Whitley Streiber too?

Eh? (3, Insightful)

MisterBlister (539957) | about 12 years ago | (#3358670)

People still read Edward Yourdon's books? Hasn't this sensationalist fear-monger been discredited enough? If I were him, I'd change my name and/or move to a non-industrial country in shame...

Re:Eh? (2)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 12 years ago | (#3359019)

Well said. Ed Yourdon was the credible, sensible, plain spoken champion of the Y2K hypefest. I'm not sure if he set out deliberately and cynically to use Y2K hype to scam his way into government circles, or whether he just got caught up in it and found himself having to escalate his predictions until he couldn't back out.

Let's get this straight: Ed Yourdon predicted that Y2K would be the end of the world. He changed his mind more often than his underwear, and he was always oh so careful never to predict specifics, but he gave vastly inflated credibility to all the doom mongers, and he assumed that any Y2K ready declaration not done by an independent auditor was a smokescreen. Every tiny report of a computer failure was turned into a "probable" indicator of coming failure. He turned absense of evidence into evidence of absense when it suited him, and vice versa.

The sad part was that he suckered a lot of gullible folks in. There's still people today eating through their Y2K stocks and weeping over their lost life savings, and a smaller number grubbing around on dirt farms and hand pumping water from wells who'll grit their teeth and tell you that they thank Ed for prompting them to move to a self-sufficient subsistence lifestyle. Oh yes, this is better than relying on all those fragile modern foibles like washing machines and shops. Grind. Oh yes. Grind, grind.

Don't get me wrong, those people were responsible for their own decisions, and Ed is not a bad man. But he was wrong about Y2K. He was major league wrong, and he stubbornly clung to his position that the dominoes would start falling any day now (yeah, there's that 1950's thinking again), all through 1998 and 1999, right up to December 1999. Only in the last couple of weeks did he do a complete U-turn and backpedal and dissemble like there was going to be a tomorrow, which rather makes me think that he genuinely did believe the delusional scenarios that he was pushing to government and to anyone else that would listen. And he did admit that he was wrong shortly into 2000, but it was "OK, I was wrong, BUT..." and then he was off on a completely new tack about how he had singlehandedly save the free world by fearmongering up to the rollover, and ensuring that nobody slacked off. All praise Saint Ed.

I don't blame Ed for the misery he caused, but I do blame him for being a stubborn old fool, and for creating his own little solipsistic dreamland where the world had to end, because Ed had said it would. When it failed, it was exactly like watching a religious cult falling apart when the leader absconds with the takings from the collection plate. There are still people on his Y2K discussion board claiming that there was a Y2K catastrophe, but we didn't notice because we'd all been drugged with chemtrails [carnicom.com].

So sure, buy and read this book if you like, but understand that Ed lost the plot about five years ago, and that anything he writes now must be treated as science fiction. Good old fashioned plain speaking science fiction, but utterly, completely untrustworthy.

Y2K (1)

hagardtroll (562208) | about 12 years ago | (#3358707)

He also notes with some pride that many companies survived the turmoil after the World Trade Center attack because they made so many preparations for the turn of the millennium. Yeah. Those two extra bytes used to store the year are a good anti-terror measure.

terrorism == loss of human life != hacking (5, Insightful)

Dr. Awktagon (233360) | about 12 years ago | (#3358709)

Okay, terrorism is targetting and attacking unarmed civilians in order to create fear and terror on a large scale. (ie, detonating a bomb in a crowded restaurant).

It doesn't have anything to do with hacking computers. The terms "online terrorism" and "cyberterrorism" are meaningless and maybe even insulting to victims of real terrorism.

Terrorism isn't a blanket term for everything that's disruptive and annoying. I don't feel "terror" if the internet is subverted by al Queda hackers, or the 14-year next door for that matter.

Let's not dilute the meaning of the word.. It's enough we have idiots creating phrases like "industrial terrorism".

We already have a word for breaking into computers: hacking (or, uh, cracking).

Re:terrorism == loss of human life != hacking (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 12 years ago | (#3359024)

"We already have a word for breaking into computers: hacking (or, uh, cracking)."
how about trespassing?

BINGO! New game idea for "Post-9/11" (5, Insightful)

Geek In Training (12075) | about 12 years ago | (#3358724)

I'm sure many of you have played "Bullshit Bingo," AKA Buzzword Bingo, where you go to meetings and mark off words and phrases such as "Going Forward," "Core Business," "Changing Paradigms," etc.

How about a new one for playing in the car or reading the paper? Marking off stuff like cars that have fifteen american flags on them. Or reading some off the wall article that has sudden relevence because of the "Post-9/11 Era." Or discussing the way it is impacted by the "War on Terror."

Bonus points for stores that put "God Bless America!" signs up, not only in their windows but on that giant illuminated sign with the two golden arches on it.

Sorry to be overly cynnical; it's a nice thought... but it really seems to ringing hollow now. People have just gone on about their comporate business, even if they have "heightened insecurity" in their personal lives. This book probably has interesting info in it, but now everybody is marketing it with "a sense of urgency due to the new world we live in."

If I hear "In the wake of September 11th..." one more time, I'm gonna punch a broadcaster in the nose.

Now if you'll pardon me, in the wake of my bottled water and NutriGrain bar breakfast, I'm going to get a hot bowl of soup for lunch in downtown Cleveland.

Re:BINGO! New game idea for "Post-9/11" (2)

FurryFeet (562847) | about 12 years ago | (#3358817)

If I hear "In the wake of September 11th..." one more time, I'm gonna punch a broadcaster in the nose.

I agree. But in a two-three months the noise should be back to normal and peace will return.
And then it will be september, and the media will be full of "After one year of the tragedy...".

Re:BINGO! New game idea for "Post-9/11" (1)

Peter Trepan (572016) | about 12 years ago | (#3358984)

I agree. But in a two-three months the noise should be back to normal and peace will return. And then it will be september, and the media will be full of "After one year of the tragedy...".

Unless O.J. Simpson kills someone on September 10th.

Re:BINGO! New game idea for "Post-9/11" (2, Insightful)

t_allardyce (48447) | about 12 years ago | (#3358875)

yep, the only way people are going to stop all of this "in the wake of september 11th" stuff is if something bigger happens. Personally i just don't think a massive electronic attack is going to cut it. Bin Laden wants everyone to know about his stunts, and lets face it, DoS'ing some servers and bringing a few routers down is just not going to get as much media attention as something more trendy like anthrax. What he could do, is use the EMP from a nuke to dissrupt something, that would be like killing 2 metophorical birds with one lump of plutonium

Re:BINGO! New game idea for "Post-9/11" (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 12 years ago | (#3359054)

points for someone driving a mitsubishi that has an american flag!

note:mitsubishi built the Zeros that attacked Pearl Harbor.

the opposite (1)

Petrox (525639) | about 12 years ago | (#3358814)

Heh. My situation is actually the mirror image of what this book discusses. I have been trying to find a way to exact some revenge (electronicallly) on somebody who has something coming to him (a real googly-eyed, drooling f*cktard). But I haven't been able to find any good ways to do this! (google, surprisingly, has been little help).

Any slashdotters have advice to help somebody who seeks a bit of online revenge?

How about you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358848)

byte THIS if you think I'm going to read your farking life story!!! Make your post SHORTER and maybe someone will read it!

Get real: Yourdon is a joke; has been since Y2K (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358850)

Hey, the guy earned a name for himself in the days structured programming was the new buzz. Had his name on a lot of books talking about structured programming and system analysis.

Since then, he has deservedly lost his credibility.

I remember his Time Bomb 2000 LUSENET forum from the late 1997-1999. Full of kooks and nuts. Just the kind of folks who talked about commiting acts of domestic terrorism when the "gubmint" came knocking to take away their Y2K preps and put them into concentration camps with the rest of the "sheeple". Folks there talked about lynching public officials and all kinds of stuff like that. Most of them, including Yourdon, thought there would be massive Y2K disruptions.

When the clock turned over to year 2000, and TV was showing all the people having a great time in NYC Times's Square, and his "followers" were miffed over the lack of computer caused caos and disruptions they were NOT witnessing on TV, Yourdon was on line posting to his "followers" that the "powers that be" were probably rolling old film rather than providing real time coverage of all the Y2K disruptions to prevent public panic. What a joke.

This is the guy who wrote "The Decline and Fall of the American Programmer" in the 1980's, stating how US programmers were soon to be out of a job. Since then, jobs for programmers have boomed. He thought US programmers would be put out of work by the "software factories" of Japan and other countries. The guy is, IMO, a intelligent idiot.

Your-done-for, fearmonger to the masses, has squandered any good "karma points" he once had from the 70's or whenever selling fear and dread to whomever will listen to his latest spiel he's happy to offer along with some high paid consulting to "cope" and "manage" and "prepare". IMO, the guy needs some therapy for himself.

He's back selling a new bottle of snake oil in a book. Let him peddle his nonsense elsewhere.

The review was likely apt in that his platitudes and generalizations are vauge and nebulous. Just what a consultant like him selling over priced worthless "advice" to PHB and clueless managers that remember his name from their college days don't know any better than to buy.

This guy is an embarassment to IT. Surely there are better books by better authors with better things to say with a better track record of why we should pay attention to what they have to say. Geeze, folks. Time to put a cork in this geezers yap hole already.


Thumbs Down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358859)

I've lost all credence in this author since he published that stupid doom and gloom Y2K book. Sure, he makes good points in his previous books, but lately he just seems to be more sensation than substance.

and they told me to buy stock in Microsoft... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358872)

...but I knew I should have bought stock in a flag-making business on September 10th...

Now, it's obvious the government wants their citizenry in a perpetual state of fear -- it's the best way to get extremely high approval ratings. We already know they fiddle with statistics, and keep their pockets wide and ears open in case anyone wants to drop in a few coins. I wonder if they even go as far as encouraging the writing of particular books... there are always theories about how Tom Clancy gets served up "information" for his scribblings.

Nah, I think in this case, it's simple capitalism, and someone wanting to cash in. After all, a whole real-time industry is based on the same... and no amount of "defence" is going to stop a determined man taking his life and others with him.

To stop yourself being harmed, earn the respect of as many people as possible, and so reduce the number of enemies. Ask yourself why Mother Teresa didn't go around in a bullet-proof car, but the Pope does. Ask yourself why Mo Mowlam (UK) had her bodyguards taken away within 6 months of ending her office in Northern Ireland, but hasn't yet been shitted on by dissident groups. Now ask yourself why Sharon, Arafat and Bush have a million men lining up to chop 'em.

Yourdon: the idiot's idiot (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358888)

Why hype a book written by such a know-nothing shill and relic like Yourdon? This is the same idiot that wrote the world was ending as of Dec 31, 1999, so he moved out west to "live off the grid" and ride out the impending collapse of modern society. Now he's back with anoth piece of trash writing that isn't worth the paper it's printed on. C'mon, slashdot: take down this ridiculous thread and post something more worthy. Yourdon is a plague on all the rest of us who consider ourselves technology professionals.

Very thought provoking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358904)

I'm glad i cashed in on Y2k

pretty sad when /. tech is uninformed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3358956)

My answer was: The machines crash every day. Why should it matter if it happens on December 31st?

Y2k wasn't about machines crashing, although I assume that some code could have caused this indirectly. I would have thought that the reason y2k was an issue wouldn't need to be explained here. I guess there are now two classes of geek... uber and /. web monkey. :)

"Where were you in '62?" (2)

davie (191) | about 12 years ago | (#3358999)

Nice review, but American Graffiti was set in 1962, not the 50's.

Re:"Where were you in '62?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3359103)

Good point. But didn't the 50's last until, say, 1965? I know the 60's lasted until 1972 or 73. Aren't you being precise about time and date, not culture?

About Y2K fixes... (1)

fractaltiger (110681) | about 12 years ago | (#3359007)

"My answer was: The machines crash every day. Why should it matter if it happens on December 31st?"
It didn't occur to anyone in our much feared power plants that ... if Y2K caused their computers to go crazy they could just set back their clocks.? We do it with shareware when it goes "bad," and it's not the end of the world :)

I never once heard this fix mentioned in the media when Y2K was coming, but I know that it would occur to engineers as soon as their computers went crazy...

Anyway, this is different from the issues with banking software and automatic mailers, but that's not life-threatening. Actually, nothing related to remotely hack-able computers can be fully life-threatening. You can always override the system or just unplug it from the network and have someone physically push the "FIRE" button the day we need to use the missiles.

But our wars will never be fought by robots or computers, only by humans who use them to be more efficient, and who should care a bit more about not letting their technology be captured by the enemy.

Naive answer re/ crashes (1, Troll)

dstone (191334) | about 12 years ago | (#3359058)

My answer was: The machines crash every day. Why should it matter if it happens on [insert-date-here]?

It matters because, while machines crash every day, they don't generally crash at predetermined times and in large numbers. Multiple computers (possibly serving as backups for each other) that are systematically "scheduled" to crash at or around the same time clearly have a larger impact than isolated, random, daily crashes.

Consider the analogy of cars breaking down. It happens all the time and any one incident is easily worked around. However, if there is reason to believe that a large number of cars are all going to stop working at the same time or around the same location, it could result in traffic gridlocks or blocking essential services.
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