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Favourite rant targets:

1) Bureaucratic IT staff, esp. at my secondary school
2) Microsoft and SCO (a concession to rampant CompSci-ism)
3) The recurring destruction of my computer's OSes
4) Younger sisters in general; mine in particular
5) Not noticing the flaw in my recursive function until the [company]'s development server is half filled by nested repeating folders
6) Appearing as the author beside the top 5 or more RecentChanges. Shows I have no life.
7) CATAM. Except when I'm exceptionally flukey...
8) Not being able to think of all the pet hates I *know* I have

More detail (cos I'm bored):

Bureaucratic IT staff

Ever heard of the Unicode Directory Traversal bug, one of the most famous in the error-ridden history of MS's IIS webserver? Turns out that this was open on the school's admin server - the one with all their most secret records on. Of course, when Computer Expert Friend (who we'll call Steve) pointed this out to the IT staff, they muttered some crap about it being none of their business what with it being on a server not under their full control. 3 weeks and 2 SIMS databases later, Steve and I went round to the admin staff and helped them fix the bug in all of 5 mins.

Ever heard of Flash animations carrying viruses or trojans? I hadn't and no-one else I know can give a specific example. So why then did the Head of IT, on finding me playing Flash games, complain that, among other things, it was a virus risk? I could understand if he didn't want computers to be used for Flash games at the exclusion of real work, but I didn't have any work to do and was using one of a bank of 4 otherwise-unoccupied computers.

The deputy head of IT was the real psycho. She was the one whose raw anger at me led up to the previous situation when she randomly wandered into the library where I was playing and told me that if I was found playing again I'd be banned from the school computers. My polite request for information about who would be taking over management of new content for the school website was met with frenzied cries of "don't think you can blackmail us, we don't need your help to manage a website!" Possibly true but, since the website in question hadn't been updated by anyone but me in 2 years, a bit of a debatable point. This quite apart from the fact that crazed shouting was totally uncalled-for. I think the Head of IT actually felt pretty much the same (he's not the most competent but he's generally a good bloke).

There was the time when a friend of mine mucked up a library computer, we're still not quite sure how but it wouldn't start up. I went up to report the bug, suggesting that it is possibly a bug in the computer's boot files (or whatever). Deputy person says that this is unlikely. 4 days later, with no technician in sight, Steve takes 10 mins to fix the problem (turned out to be an issue with the boot files - dlls or summat). I go up to report the problem and get laid into by a hyped deputy head of IT. I still am not quite sure why - apparently I was an accessory to messing with (ie shortening) the technician's work schedule.

I mentioned security before and let's just say that these people had no idea. They used WinVNC? as a BackOrifice? type tool to spy on people, when any idiot can tell you it isn't designed for that. After Steve hacked the password hash ("overlord" if anyone is interested) and I wrote a couple of handy apps to disable and reenable vnc at will, the system became our bitch, so to speak. Of course we never abused our power, but we soooo could have done, almost as much as with the aforementioned Unicode bug on the server with all the teachers' pay details in.

The IT staff were not exactly deep geeks and, as such, Steve discovered ARP cache poisoning before it could cross their radar. He quickly discovered how to reroute email, which proved quite handy as one time the Head of IT managed to switch the email server to the wrong port number before leaving on a day-long junket. Steve promptly rerouted all the school's email via his laptop and sent it all to the correct port of the email server, without the teachers even noticing.

Steve was a force for good in the school. With him doing "research" and me being many teachers' first line of tech support (able to fix nearly everything), we could have greatly eased the use of IT at school. The IT staff killed our ability to make a difference dead. I still resent that.

My Computer's OSes

A multipart saga

Part 1 can be found at [my site]

The story doesn't end with me finally getting debian though. I never would have believed that I was able to destroy a linux install with my bare command-prompt. A crazy attempt to resize the active partition has left me with a schizophrenic computer where the partition considers itself to be 50gb whilst the partition table considers it to be 20gb. More details when I have time.
At least you've never mounted a UFS partition as FAT32 in a fit of distraction.  It actually worked all right, too - probably by being nearly empty.  It was, however, ruined beyond the ability of fsck to repair. --NT
As root, chown everything from the root directory.  That's an incredibly good way to destroy a running linux system.  --Vitenka

My Darling Sister

I have a hairbrush. I give no-one else permission to use this hairbrush. Somehow this hairbrush has grown thick brown hair.
This hairbrush is still lucky compared to my last one, which got torched when my sister was mucking about with candles.

More irritation will be added as it occurs - the hairbrushes are the tip of the iceberg.

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Last edited August 10, 2004 6:40 pm (viewing revision 8, which is the newest) (diff)