HACKING, OPERATING SYSTEMS, AND THE END OF THE WORLD – TOM CURLEY

I watch a lot of television. Probably too much. I’m fond of action shows. I’m really fond of all the various comic book shows.

The single thing these shows have in common is they all have at least one computer genius. A girl or guy geek who’s the best hacker in the business. They always have at least a half-dozen computer monitors in front of them. Each one has 10 or more windows open with lines of data scrolling by at about a hundred miles an hour. They can do anything and everything. Instantly.

falcontradingsystems.com
falcontradingsystems.com

BOSS: I know this is illegal, but I need you to hack into the CIA, NSA and FBI servers. They have the most secure and impenetrable firewalls ever designed. Can you do it?

COMPUTER GENIUS: I was into all three 15 seconds ago, sir.

The ones that work for the FBI can find anything in 10 seconds or less.

FBI BOSS: Our serial killer is male, early thirties, white, and probably living in a two square mile region south of Albany, Georgia. He’s left-handed and likes string cheese. We need to narrow our search …

FBI COMPUTER GENIUS: Found him! His photo, home address and a copy of his permanent High School record have already been sent to your phone.

Not the real bad guy
Not the real bad guy

But this got me to thinking. What would these shows look like if they were happening in the real world?

BOSS OF SUPER SECRET GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION TASKED WITH SAVING THE WORLD FROM SUPER BAD EVIL DOERS:  OK, listen up. You two are the world’s best black hat and white hat hackers. We’ve brought you here because a Super Bad Evil Doer has stolen software that will allow him to access all the world powers’ nuclear codes. He is demanding 1 trillion dollars in ransom or he will launch all the missiles at once and destroy the Earth. You each have a whole bunch of computer screens in front of you with dozens of boxes open scrolling lines and lines of stuff. You have less than 10 minutes to somehow find our Evil Doer and figure out a way to block him from launching those missiles. Can you do it?

HACKER #1: Yes, but we will need to write some specialized software, at least 10 to 20 thousand lines of code.

BOSS: My God!  Can you do it in time???

HACKER #2: Already done sir. Now, all we have to do is upload it to the Evil Doer’s computer. Ready to send in 3, 2 ….

HACKER #1: NO! NO! NO!

HACKER #2: What’s wrong? OH GOD NO! NO! NO!

BOSS: What’s happening?!

HACKER #1: My computer is shutting down!!

HACKER #2: MINE TOO!

BOSS: Are you being hacked? Have your computers been infiltrated by some kind of malicious software? Does the Evil Doer have a genius hacker of his own???

HACKER #1: WORSE! Windows just installed updates! It’s rebooting so the updates can take effect!

windows shut down

BOSS: Can you stop it!??

HACKER #2: It’s too late! Look! It’s already started rebooting and configuring the updates!

windowsupdateinstalling_40853_l

BOSS: There’s nothing you can do???!

HACKER #2: No sir. Look at the screen. It says “Please do not power off or unplug your machine while updates are in progress”!

windows updates 1

BOSS: How long will it take to reboot?

HACKER #1: God only knows! Look! It’s still installing update six of ten! This could take an hour! Even more.

BOSS: We have less than ten minutes before nuclear Armageddon! What are we going to?

HACKER #1: Wait! I’ve got it! I can use my smartphone!

HACKER #2: Yes! We will have to adapt about 15 thousand lines of code but …

HACKER #1: It’s done! OK now, all I have to do is input and send the kill command. “NEUTRALIZE ALL NUCLEAR LAUNCH CODES.” And … done!

BOSS: Thank God!

HACKER #2: Oh NO! You entered “NEUTRALIZE ALL NUCLEAR LUNCH CODES”!!

HACKER #1: What?! Damn you AUTOCORRECT!

autocorrect

BOSS: What do we do now!!

HACKER #2: You know what? Pay the ransom. I’ve had it with Windows. I mean look, it’s still on update 6 of 10! We’re going to be here all day!

HACKER #1: I agree. Pay the money. This is just too much trouble. I’m telling you, ever since my phone updated to iOS 9.0.1, nothing works right.

HACKER #2: Tell me about it.

ios-9-overnight-update

As the two hackers walk off into the sunset discussing whether or not upgrading to Windows 10 would make the situation better or worse, small mushroom clouds appear in the distance.

doodleordie.com
doodleordie.com

Yeah, that’s pretty much how it would happen.

WHAT IS THAT THING YOU’RE WEARING? – Marilyn Armstrong

“How come Gibbs is wearing a coat in Arizona in the summer?”

I was talking to Garry. It was an NCIS rerun. We watch a lot of reruns, though this new fall season of TV is shaping up better than I expected, so maybe there will be new shows to watch.

The question about costumes comes up often and on various shows. One of the more common “duh” moments is when the male lead is wearing a coat and the female lead is skimpily dressed. No explanation needed for that one.

More weird is when each cast member is dressed randomly, apparently without regard for the plot. One is wearing a heavy winter coat, another a light denim jacket. A third is in shirtsleeves. Some are clothed in jeans or other casual stuff while others look ready for Wall Street … or a cocktail party. Women are supposedly hiking. Or running from or after serial killers while wearing 4-inch spike heels. My feet hurt looking at them.

Garry and I have done a tiny bit of movie “extra” work so I’m guessing it goes like this:  “Go find something that fits in wardrobe and be on set in ten.”

Everyone hustles off to wardrobe, which looks like a jumble sale or the clothing racks at the Salvation Army store. Most of the clothing in the wardrobe probably came from a second-hand source, for all I know their local Salvation Army shop.

The cast dives in looking for something that fits. As soon as they find an outfit … any outfit … they head for a changing booth, then off to be on set before someone yells at them. Stars get slightly better wardrobe or wear their own clothing. Wearing ones own clothing on TV shows and movies are quite common. I understand why.

The real question is not why everyone on a show is poorly or inappropriately dressed. It’s whether or not the people who produce the show think we won’t notice.

My theory is they don’t care if we notice or not. They don’t want to spend money on a wardrobe. They figure if you and I notice, we won’t care. In any case, we’ll keep watching. And they’re right. It’s a bottom-line world. The wardrobe is an area where corners can easily be cut.

The thing is, we do notice. You don’t need to be a professional critic or especially astute to see the incongruities of television costuming.

It’s not just costumes, either. Sloppy editing, crappy scripts, stupid plots that include blatant factual and continuity errors. Ultimately, we do stop watching. Because it’s obvious they don’t care so why should we?

You notice it on long-running shows that had good scripts and editing, but not anymore. Quality drifts away. Producers are baffled when loyal fans stop tuning in. Obvious to a normal person, but apparently incomprehensible to network executives. Disrespect for viewers is at the root of much of the illness besetting the TV industry.

They should be nicer to us. We’re, after all, the customers. Aren’t we?

WHAT IS JEOPARDY? – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Jeopardy

Is there anyone who doesn’t or has never watched Jeopardy? As game shows went, that has to be the most popular one ever. When I was a young adult, people were addicted to this show. It wasn’t because they assumed they could go on it to win tons of money, though some did hope for that, but because Jeopardy was and remains the original TV trivia game.

By Joseph Hunkins from Talent – Kelly from Jeopardy Clue Crew at the CES09 set

This is Trivial Pursuits for the world, broadcast (depending on the decade and year), daily or weekly. It was created by Merv Griffin (what wasn’t created by Merv Griffin?) and has been on the air as a daily (5-days a week) show, a weekly nighttime event, or a daily evening presentation, usually just after dinner time — between 7 and 8 at night – since 1964. That’s 59 years which is a great deal of television! I think the reruns are as popular as the original. Is there any other show that has been continuously broadcast for this long?

Recently, it has become a headline:


“James Holzhauer was aiming for his 26th straight ‘Jeopardy!’ win Wednesday and moving closer to the $2 million mark in prize money.”

And he won. Again. So his winning roll continues. Unless he does something really stupid, he’s will come out of Jeopardy more than comfortable for the rest of his life.

By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org

Unlike most quiz shows, it didn’t give prizes. It was all about money. You got an answer and had to answer the answer with a question. When Trivial Pursuits came out as a board game during the 1980s, I kept being surprised that you didn’t have to answer the statement with a question. While I wasn’t addicted to the show as some people were, I did watch it and much to my amusement learned a lot more miscellany than I’d previously known.

I think writers are the best Trivial Pursuit players because we accumulate tons of random information. We absorb a bit of just about everything, from what we see, hear, and read. We remember bits of conversations about anything we hear or read. You just never know when that bit of information won’t become the lead in or conclusion of your next book, post, or long, shaggy dog story.

For most of the years when I occasionally watched it, Alex Trebek was the host. Since those years — I guess the last time I watched it was during the 1990s, probably with Garry’s mom — who was an addict. But she was in good company. Millions of people followed the show either sometimes or constantly.

Countries with versions of Jeopardy! listed in yellow (the common Arabic-language version in light yellow) – Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.

It is the most popular show in elderly housing and gave them a chance to show off their knowledge, something old people rarely have an opportunity to do. Of course, we who blog are not showing off OUR knowledge. We’re just hanging out. Online!

Actually, I think blogging is our Jeopardy. We don’t cover quite as big a range of topics as the show does and did, we cover a lot of stuff. I have a genuine passion for writing about whatever weird little idea has passed across my brain.

It doesn’t need to be important. In fact, it’s unimportance is part of why I enjoy writing about it.

FAME: TO BE THE GREATEST EVER – Garry Armstrong

RDP Thursday – FAME

“Someday, I’m gonna walk down the street. People will look at me and say, “There he goes, the greatest there ever was!'”

It’s a familiar line. We’ve heard it from would be wonder boys across generations. It’s a line we hear now, used in admiration and derision, to describe the New England Patriots’ 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his former backup Jimmy Garoppolo

Sports radio and television yakkers beat the controversy drums every day. Is Brady better than Joe Montana? Peyton Manning? Steve Young? Is he the greatest there ever was? Audiences foam at the mouth during the debate. It’s the stuff media executives dream about. Drives up ratings which in turn drives up prices for those who buy radio and TV time.

The greatest there ever was.

Robert Redford echoed the line as a young Roy Hobbs in the classic baseball film, “The Natural.” Hobbs was the young everyman who dreamed of greatness. Many of us pursued the same dream.

I grew up in a generation when there were still many doors to be opened. Many challenges to be faced and answered. The social divide was still very evident in the United States. Overt racism was on display for all to see, even in so-called cradles-of-liberty cities.

Women were seen, but not heard. Ogled and groped, but not respected. It’s the way we were — back in the day.  It’s also why so many of us were inspired to succeed.  We wanted to show our worth, our value. We wanted more than respect.

We seem to have regressed back to those days but I hope not permanently.

It was a clear road we walked — to be the greatest there ever was.

Garry – College days at WVHC (1963)

I remember a hot, muggy, September 1959 afternoon at the Parris Island U.S. Marine Corps training base. The base commander stopped to chat up a group of new Marines, just returned from a double-time forced march near the swamp infested grounds that lay outside the base.

The young Gyrenes were clearly tuckered out,  cursing the sandflies who nestled in their bodies. The commander zeroed in one group, singling out a young recruit of color who had attitude written on his face. “Private, how do you like the Marines, now?”

The young man broadened his smile. “Sir, permission to speak freely, sir?

The commander nodded. Red-faced drill instructors familiar with the young man stiffened in their nearby posts braced for the worst. The recruit eyed the DI’s, smiled at them and responded to the commander. “Sir, Private Armstrong is PROUD to be a marine, sir.”

The commander smiled.

The D.I.’s seemed relieved as the recruit continued talking to the commander who could make stripes disappear quickly off a sergeant’s shoulder.

“Sir, I love the Marines. I want to be the greatest there ever was, sir”.

The commander’s stoicism was replaced with a big smile. The D.I’s chuckled softly while glaring at Private Armstrong.

Garry at Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame induction

I did want to be the greatest Marine ever. This wasn’t any John Wayne fanboy stuff. My brief stint had fueled aspirations for a career in the Marine Corps, perhaps in the communications division.  My hearing difficulties would soon end my life as a Marine, but it was a time I still remember with pride. It also helped me plot the course for the rest of my professional life.

In the decades that followed, I never lost the fire in the belly from my Marine Corps days. Some thought the “glamour” of TV news kept me happy and satisfied over the years.

I remember catching up with old friends over the years. They would tell me how successful they were. I heard about how much money they were making. The fancy cars they were driving. Vacation homes, country clubs, and so on.

I couldn’t, wouldn’t play that game. I inevitably wound up repeating how much I enjoyed my work. I talked about excitement, interesting people, dramatic stories — and the chance to make a difference.

There usually was a pause from the friend. I would then tell them I still wasn’t satisfied. Yes, I had awards, celebrity but there was something else.

I still wanted to be the best there ever was. Best replaced greatest somewhere over the years. No matter. The concept had not changed, just the wording.

I’ve been retired for more than 18 years after banking 40 plus years on the job. I think I’m satisfied with my body of work. Satisfied doesn’t do it.

Part of me still wants to be the greatest there ever was.

MEANWHILE, LIFE GOES ON – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Meanwhile

I do not think I will ever hear this word again without thinking of Stephen Colbert and the “Meanwhile” sketch on his nightly show.

Tune in. If you have to get the news, you might as well laugh at the same time.

Sometimes, it’s the only laugh I get all day.

RUN A LEVEL FIVE DIAGNOSTIC! – BY TOM CURLEY


Warning:
If you are not a Star Trek fan this might not make sense to you.
Or maybe it will.


I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek lately. Not just the original. But most of the other ones too. Star Trek Next Generation, Star Trek Voyager, and Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

screenrant.com
screenrant.com

It’s addicting! I just keep watching. One right after the other. I admit I remember all the episodes from the original Star Trek. I’ve seen them all at least a hundred times and that’s no exaggeration. As for the other shows, I’ve found that some,  I remember. Others, I’ve forgotten. BBC America  will run an episode of the original Star Trek followed by Star Trek Voyager, then a Star Trek Next Generation episode.  I’ve never watched them all intermixed like that.

That’s probably why I never noticed there is one thing that all Star Trek episodes have in common. Something that they all do in all the episodes all the time. EVERY EPISODE! EVERY SINGLE ONE! I’m betting even the most ardent ” Trekker/Trekkie” has never noticed it!

What is it?

They run a diagnostic. At least one, often more. Any time anything goes wrong on or off the ship, they run a diagnostic. It’s the go-to solution for absolutely everything.

pinterest.com
pinterest.com
THE DIALOGUE:

Ensign: Captain, the  warp drive just went down!

Captain: Run a Level Two Diagnostic. Advise me when it’s done.

Chief Engineer: Captain! The Di-lithium crystals are absorbing too much anti-matter!

Captain: Send down a Level Four Diagnostic Team and advise me when it’s done.

memory-alpha.wikia.com
memory-alpha.wikia.com

Chief Engineer: We can’t do that Captain!

Captain: Why not?

Chief Engineer: We only have three Level Four Diagnostic Teams sir and they’re all busy.

Captain: Doing what?

Chief Engineer: Well, Team One is doing a diagnostic on the subspace communications array. Team Two is scanning the inertial dampers. And Team Three is running a diagnostic on why all the food replicators on deck three are putting “American Cheese” on everything it replicates.

americaomg.com
americaomg.com

Captain: I see. So what do we do?

Chief Engineer: Well, we do have a Level Two Diagnostic Team free.

Captain: Great! Send two Level Two Diagnostic teams. That would be the same as a Level Four Diagnostic Team. Right?

Chief Engineer:  Hmm. Never thought of it that way before, but yes I guess that would work. The  problem is we only have one Level Two Diagnostic Team available sir. The other one is examining the warp core.

Captain: Oh. …  OK. How many Level One Diagnostic Teams do we have?

Chief Engineer: Three sir. But one is busy.

Captain: Yes but we still have two Level One Teams free! Send in one Level Two team and two Level One Teams.  That will give us a Level Four Diagnostic!

Chief Engineer: Brilliant sir! Why didn’t I think of that?

Captain: That’s why I’m the captain.

I’d pay money to see that episode.


Here’s the thing. My Star Trek binge started right after the election.

thecollegefix.com
thecollegefix.com

Every day, I bounce from immersing myself in the whole” Star Trek Universe” and jolt back to this one. The real world. The. Real. World.

abc7news.com
abc7news.com

I think we need to run a Level Five Diagnostic on this episode of life. Something’s terribly wrong.

Oh yeah. And, if you are a Star Trek Fan, from now on, you will notice this “diagnostic thing” every time you watch an episode of any version of Star Trek.

NO CONSPIRACIES IN THIS HOUSE – Marilyn Armstrong

After many years of not watching “The X Files,” Garry and I ran out of stuff to watch. So … we decided to try watching X Files.

Now, maybe a dozen episodes in, I have some thoughts on conspiracies and secrets.

x-files poster


Has anyone ever confided a secret to you? And you realized at that exact moment, it ceased being a secret.

Have you ever told someone something you wished you hadn’t said? Or realized that what you said should have stayed in your head and never crossed your lips?

Sincerely wished you hadn’t said anything then asked them to please, please, never repeat it? And you absolutely knew everyone was going to know about it before lunch?

top secret 2

So how did the whole “secret” thing work out for you?

Now. Imagine a secret so secret that the entire military-industrial complex including all the important politicians of the world — the basic whos-who of world power — had to keep THIS secret or the world might end.

What secret?

That aliens are here and have always been here? That we are hiding spaceships in dark caverns in the desert and mountains? That every individual in touch with this secret — and you have to figure there were a lot of them, even counting them one at a time — was mandated to retain the secret for their entire lives and never tell anyone.

Figure that’s going to work? Whatever the secret was supposed to be, it would be in every newspaper and on every television station — not to mention every social medium — before lunch. Before morning break.

It would be a multi-part television serial by the weekend … and these days … forgotten by Christmas.

That’s my point.

Not that aliens might be here — now or in the past — but that a secret of such magnitude could or would be kept for a single day, much less for decades. This could not, would not, will not ever happen in this world.

Certainly not anywhere with Internet.

Which is pretty much everywhere.