Ordinarily a course like this is about as appealing as the shower scene in a Turkish prison during stabbing season, however the company concerned DOES distinguish itself by awarding fancy looking achievement certificates at the end of the course which look impressive on the office wall.(Again) Ordinarily I usually ask the certificate printers to just ensure that the output of the printer is as adjacent to the input of the shredder as possible, however in this particular case the certificates are like gold - partly because they have gold lettering (told you they were fancy) but also because they act as a form of proof of attendance.The event company is about as interested in IT as I am in the finer points of regulation international lawn bowls' grass height, however they do put a lot of effort into their social events - which often start around the time you check in and finish about the time you check out - either from the event or life itself. They like to think of themselves as innovators. So obviously you're in need of some proof that the course was robust and worthwhile...The Junket Watch priority signal is because the Service Delivery for IT Professionals gig has an overview of Investigating case studies of Service Delivery methods in local industry - the finer print noting that the local industry they're talking about is whisky distilleries in Islay. And it's basically a five-day coach tour...
Given the company's policy of not permitting all members of a support team to be absent at the same time, the PFY and I are now engaged in an unspoken competition to be the person that the Director sends. In the words of the Highlander, there can be only one...The PFY lurches into play almost immediately, laughing at the Director's rubbish jokes and promising to upgrade the RAM on his top-of-the-line Ultrabook. He choked on his words a little when he found out that the stuff was soldered into the motherboard, but then a promise is a promise.So here we are: the PFY with his static protected needle-tip solder reworking station, the Director's laptop on the actively static-protected workdesk (which, to my knowledge has never been used since it was installed at great cost) – and me, with my paper bag to collect all the bits left over... which always happens when you take a priceless piece of kit to bits.In a rare show of sportsmanship I did point out to the PFY the wisdom of backing up the machine prior to starting work, however he just saw this as me trying to make the job take longer than he'd promised - so his hybrid solution is to plug the drive into a duplication cradle while he does the hot work. Sneaky.
Now are you sure you've got the A and B drives in the right order? I ask. Wouldn't want to duplicate the formatted drive over the top of the original.I think you may have torn some of the tracks off the motherboard there, I say, leaning in and tapping on a suspiciously barren chunk of circuit board where some pads used to be whilst dropping the remains of the paper bag in the bin. After the PFY has scraped himself off the ceiling, that is.No - I have some ultrafine self-adhesive gold repair tape which should do the trick nicely, he counters.And it's true. There are only two legitimate uses for a brown paper bag in the workplace: hiding your single-malt breakfast headache medicine or scaring the crap out of a workmate. I expected more from the PFY...The Home Office has admitted to The Register that among its data breach incidents last year was one in which security vetting documents disappeared from within secured government premises.Through the Freedom of Information Act, The Register has learned that the Home Office – responsible for the UK's domestic counter-intelligence and security agency, MI5 – lost documents containing sensitive personal information relating to security vetting. In a separate incident, at least one birth certificate was lost.
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The documents were lost internally between the recipient of the postal package and the vetting team within a Home Office government building, the department admitted, adding that the contents had not been reviewed.Last year we reported that the Home Office suffered 33 data breaches which were not reported to the Information Commissioner's Office, although the department has now claimed one incident was noted incorrectly.There were eight instances in which inadequately protected electronic equipment, devices or paper documents had been lost from outside secured government premises, 13 instances of Unauthorised Disclosure and nine listed under Other.All of the information lost outside of secure government premises related to borders and immigration activity and held content which the owners could not recall in its entirety. The time frame was financial year 2014/15.Why is it that an office printer manages to churn out pages day after day without delay or complaint, yet chooses to play silly buggers the moment you are in a hurry?The green activity light is blinking nicely and my print queue is processing correctly but nothing is coming out of the printer apart from long stretches of silence punctuated by an increasingly frustrating staccato of noisy mechanical buzzes, crunches and farts.
The clock ticks, I don my shoes and coat, ready for a quick getaway. I don’t have a vast number of sheets to print but I do want them printed right away so I can catch the train. The alternative is to hunt for a print shop close to my destination, or plead with my client on my arrival to let me use one of their printers, and that always looks unprofessional.Hee-haw-hee-haw-hee-haw-hee-haw. Guh guh guh guh guh. Whoo dang-dang, whoo dang-dang.Great, it’s gone full beatbox. Stop all that electro-grunting and just print, you techno twat.I think it has switched into pornstar mode and is trying to shag the adjacent document shredder.Opening its front panel, I pull out the tray to check the cartridges. It appears that the printer components have been celebrating Holi nine weeks early: it is swirling with multicoloured powder everywhere.I pull out the carts and deadly toner continues to trickle out. There is now multicoloured powder on the floor, my hands and swirling through the office air, seeping dangerously through my pores, darting murderously into my lungs.“Toner running low” reads the LCD display on the front of the machine. My printer is nothing if not a sarcastic bastard.I dash out to catch the train, paperless. I am confident there is a print shop right next to the station when I arrive, but it turns out that it has been closed down so the site can be redeveloped into yet more luxury penthouse flats.
How many of these luxury flats do we need? Is the long-term plan to ensure that the entire population of central London is made up of Russian gangsters while the rest of us commute in daily from our hovels in the nearest affordable suburb, such as Inverness?Arriving at my client, I plead to make use of a printer so I can get my presentation documents done. A great deal of fuss is caused to accommodate my request, quite unnecessarily in my opinion, accompanied by a chorus of childish snorting and harrumphing by several of my client’s minions who have been forced to temporarily share their oxygen with someone who actually works for a living.Their firewall is so strict that I am not allowed to print from my laptop, so I cause more upset by forcing one minion to suspend his terribly important Facebook session so I can print from his PC.I log in to Dropbox, only to find that it hasn’t properly synced from my computer at home and my documents aren’t there for me to print. To save face, I output a few random business PDFs anyway, plus a few pages from a bestiality porn site so that the harrumphing tit whose PC I have borrowed can enjoy a wild-eyed visit from Human Resources later that week.
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In the end, I improvise at the client meeting with the help of a flipchart and a thick black pen that I keep at the bottom of my backpack for just these occasions. I duly win the contract and head home feeling more relaxed and less intent on kicking the fucking shit out of my laser printer when I get there.On the way back, I read the results of a survey which says small businesses like mine are proving resistant to office technology. Apparently, 65 per cent of us would rather write things down with a pen than manage our diaries, notes and to-do lists with tech solutions.No less astonishing is the discovery that as many as one-fifth of those questioned in the business survey shamefully admitted to relying on “nothing more than memory” to know what they are doing at any time.Admittedly, I have consciously cultivated my image in this column as a grumpy old Luddite but those who know me also know that I enjoy surrounding myself with tech gadgets. My grumpiness is simply the result of my honest appreciation that none of these gadgets can be relied upon in any respect whatsoever, and least of all on those occasions when you absolutely need them to work.The survey’s sign-off line giggles at twerps like me for making heavy use of smartphones and tablets for document creation without even being able to print documents directly from them. “Many who think they are up to date with business technology are often very poorly connected,” it says.Well, it’s hardly my fault that Apple has specifically designed iOS to be wirelessly incompatible with my existing printer. Expecting me to purchase a new printer to support the inadequacies of the iPhone is taking the piss. If a mobile phone’s audio speaker is weak and tinny, should I upgrade my friends and only accept calls from people with deep, booming voices?
I reach home and, still burning from my close shave earlier in the day and now determined to prove the survey wrong, I send a print job over local Wi-Fi from my Google Nexus 7. Poorly connected? Hah, I’ll teach them.Usenix Enigma The United States National Security Agency (NSA) is a notoriously secretive organization, but the head of its elite Tailored Access Operations (TAO) hacking team has appeared at Usenix’s Enigma conference to tell the assembled security experts how to make his life difficult.Rob Joyce has spent over a quarter of a century at No Such Agency and in 2013 he became head of TAO, with responsibility for breaking into non-US computer networks run by overseas companies and governments. Joyce's presentation on network security at the event boiled down to one piece of advice.“If you really want to protect your network you have to know your network, including all the devices and technology in it,” he said. “In many cases we know networks better than the people who designed and run them.”NSA tiger teams follow a six-stage process when attempting to crack a target, he explained. These are reconnaissance, initial exploitation, establish persistence, install tools, move laterally, and then collect, exfiltrate and exploit the data.During the reconnaissance phase agents examine a network electronically and, in some cases, physically. They work out who the key personnel are, what email accounts matter, how far the network extends, and maintain constant surveillance until they can find a way in.