Dumb it Down! No! Dumber!

Now I know what that guy on the train yesterday felt like…

So, some time ago I built a rather complex system for a client. I gave it a name, a good solid, Latin derived name that sounds good and has done perfectly well for the last two or three years.

Recently the client has licensed the system to a much bigger company, and I’ve been working day and night to add in new features and generally neaten up the edges of the whole thing, which is fine. But then I come in this morning and and am informed that the client has unilaterally and without so much as a ‘by your leave’ changed the name of the system. Changed it from its good, solid Latin based name to a weak, insipid, non-memorable, three-times-as-long name that isn’t so much a name as a description of what the system does.

This is like renaming the Ford Thunderbird to the Ford ‘Rather Fast Car’ or Coca-Cola to ‘Fizzy Black Drink’. And to add insult to injury they’ve hooked the name up to a crappy ‘surf the internet!’ logo that looks like something from 1997.


If I’d been informed of this at the start of the project I would be annoyed. But to have it dropped on me halfway through (oh, on top of all the other stuff you’ve got to do, can you engage in a total rebranding with our shitty new logo? thanks!) makes me f’ing furious.

I’m going to continue with the programming work and give this all the attention it deserves (ie: none) until I’m got some time free – probably in about two weeks.

Wacky Train Adventures

The wonders of public transport

The scene – the train to work this morning, stopped at Perth station. I’ve taken a seat towards the end of one of the carriages, reading a book while waiting for the service to get on its way again. Seated at the end of the carriage is a slightly scruffy yet basically normal looking man with a pair of crutches. Numerous other folk are sitting and standing around the carriage, minding their own business.

The automated voice thingie in the carriage comes on. “This train runs from Perth to Shenton Park, stopping all stations. Rail replacement buses to Fremantle are available at Shenton Park. Transperth apologises for any inconvenience”.

The fellow with the crutches looks up, startled, and opens his mouth…

“F***ING C****S!! F***ING C*** TRAINS!! F***!! F***ING C***S!! F***!!” he literally screams at the top of his lungs. He gets to his feet and charges down the carriage to the door, continuing to screech obscenities as loud as he can, and carrying his crutches. “F***!!! F***ING C***S!! F***ING F***!!!”.

On the platform he screams more obscenities at a rail guard before (apparently somewhat mollified) reboarding the train and proceeding back to his seat, muttering under his breath. “F***ing c*** train f***ing stupid c*** country, f***ing f***!“.

He was actually pretty quiet for the rest of the trip.


It’s new word time!

Nimboidadjective – Highly musclebound, of low intellect and prone to violence, often as the result of hormonal imbalance (see nimboidism).

My brother and I invented the word ‘nimboid’ as children after seeing a TV news article about the z-movie classic A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell and mishearing the title. We didn’t necessarily formalise the definition, I just always figured – after assuming one of the musclebound freaks show in clips from the movie was the barbarian of the title – that this is what it meant.

Go on! try it out next time you pass a rugby league player!

40 Ways to Spell ‘Cummilroy’

Tune in tomorrow for 40 ways to spell ‘Jukambal’!

Cam-ell-eri, Camel-Duahi, Camelleri, Camilerei, Camlerey, Cammealroy, Comleroy, Cum-milroy, Cumilri, Cummeroy, Cummilroy, Gamilaaray, Gamilaroi, Gamilray, Gamilroi, Ghummilarai, Gumilori, Gumilray, Gumilroi, Guminilroi, Gummilray, Gummilroi, Gunnilaroi, Kaamee’larrai, Kaameelarrai, Kahmilaharoy, Kahmilari, Kahml Duhai, Kamilarai, Kamilari, Kamilaroi, Kamilary, Kamileroi, Kamilrai, Kamilroi, Kamu-laroi, Kamularoi, Kimilari, Komleroy, Koomilroi.

I hope this has been enlightening. Please come again.

Image (S)Hack

At the very least you could have posted your manifesto in *text* guys.

(I would like to apologise in advance for this post – it’s full of ill informed ranting. This is nothing unusual of course, but in this case it’s pretty bad. Hey, why don’t you go and read some other, more sensible post instead? Please?)

Apparently overnight the image hosting site Image Shack has been hacked by a group of people calling themselves “the Anti-Sec movement”. They’ve replaced (presumably) tens of thousands of images hosted on the site with a manifesto opposing the “full disclosure” method of publicising security flaws, and threatening “through mayhem and […] destruction” to force the abandonment of the same.


On the one hand I have to agree with some of their points. Full disclosure does have its share of problems – the main one being that the black hat hackers and the software companies get the same information at the same time, starting a race to patch the issue before it can be exploited (a race that the black hats usually win). That said, I do have some issues with the Anti-Sec manifesto as it currently stands.

(Edit: As it turns out that’s actually wrong – full disclosure policies almost always have a delay built in so that the companies responsible are told first and get time to patch the hole before the black hats find out about it. So Anti-Sec are basically talking out of an orifice other than their mouths.)

The first is the problem of security through obfuscation. Anti-Sec seems to be suggesting that if you discover a security hole you should shut up and sit on it so that no one can exploit it. This would work fine if it could be guaranteed that you’re the only person who would ever find it. This is, of course, ridiculous. Someone else will discover the same exploit and they may not have the same, upstanding community attitude that you do. The sensible thing would be to report the flaw to the company responsible so they can patch it before the knowledge becomes public. Anti-Sec may well support this method, but their manifesto says nothing about it.

(Edit: Actually they’re actively opposing it.)

The second problem I have is with their methodology. Let me quote…

It is our goal that, through mayhem and the destruction of all exploitative and detrimental communities, companies and individuals, full-disclosure will be abandoned and the security industry will be forced to reform.

How do we plan to achieve this? Through the full and unrelenting, unmerciful elimination of all supporters of full-disclosure and the security industry in its present form. If you own a security blog, an exploit publication website or you distribute any exploits… “you are a target and you will be rm’d. Only a matter of time.”

This isn’t like before. This time everyone and everything is getting owned.

Right. Well, opening a debate is one thing. Opening a debate and then forcibly silencing everyone with a dissenting viewpoint is completely another. And when that forcible silencing is achieved via threats and “unrelenting, unmerciful elimination” it’s basically terrorism.

So, it’ll be interesting to see how this thing plays out. If indeed it does play out and Anti-Sec don’t just vanish into the digital woods they suddenly emerged from like so many other online ‘movements’.

They’ll like it in Seoul

Letting demonic forces loose in the capital of the UK for fun and profit

Ok, so I’ve been thinking (oh-oh) lately about the not terribly successful MMORPG Hellgate London.

For those unfamiliar with it (ie: just about everybody) it’s set in a future London after demons have taken over the Earth. You play as a member of resistance group fighting against the demons with both high power weaponry and magic, and taking shelter in the Underground (which was apparently constructed with demon resistant properties by a farsighted conspiracy of Freemasons).

The game didn’t garner much in the way of praise and the company that made it has now gone bust – although some servers are struggling on in South Korea (is there any game that doesn’t do well in South Korea?). Nonetheless I’ve always thought the basic concept was kind of cool (I am after all a devoted Londiniophile).

Anyway I was thinking about how some games (exploiting the various location technologies present in phones and other handhelds these days) are starting to take advantage of geolocation. And it struck me – how cool would a cut down version of Hellgate London be if you actually had to play it in London?!

Think about it. Your character is sent out to battle some Demons at Trafalgar Square. In order to complete the quest you actually have to physically go to Trafalgar Square. You then sit there outside the National Gallery, fighting demons on your handheld until the quest is complete. Afterwards, when your character needs to rest, trade and replenish supplies you have to physically go to an Underground station (or at least stand outside one – making people pay for train tickets to play the game seems a little harsh).

Now naturally this approach would have some problems. The market would be restricted to people actually in London (although you could probably set up games located in plenty of major cities), there’d be plenty of gamers who wouldn’t be interested in tramping around the streets when they could be sitting inside, sucking down doritos, and the National Gallery might not want hordes of nerds standing outside playing with their iPhones. But for those people who got involved it would be an extra level of immersion – superimposing the game world over the real world in a fairly unprecedented way.

So that’s my idea. I’m sure they’d like it in Seoul.

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