Wimminz – celebrating skank ho's everywhere

November 13, 2013

Follow the money… even if it isn’t at first obvious.

In my day job, Cisco kit is *very* popular, for values of “very” that compare with android vs blackberry market share.

This isn’t because cisco kit is good, it is now all made in china and very cheaply too.

It is all because of the two pronged thing that is Cisco IOS and Cisco certification.

Cisco IOS + certification means anyone anywhere with a TCP connection can log in to your switch or router and admin it*****, so cheap Chinese hardware and cheap outsourced to Mumbai tech support means major mark-up to the product hyped and sold here in the west.

***** Except when this isn’t true, and the only way in is in person with a console cable, or the cheap Chinese hardware is dead and the only way in is in person to swap it out.**********

********** And it is THIS that virtual machines are designed to eliminate, nothing else, that is the unique selling point that matters, not any of the other reasons given.

If you were to ask me what to buy, I’d tell you to buy Draytek, it’s less money and better kit.

As an aside, there are still niches, when it comes to bonded EFM / SHDSL it is still pretty much http://www.rad.com or nobody in real life on the ground, as in I can’t remember the last time I saw anything else, same as anything picking up a BT fibre connection is going to be an Adva box.

In all of these above if you follow the money you can see why the decisions were made that were made, even though technically the same or better results could have been achieved for less money, a bit like in the 80’s the Equipu copier guy who came around every two weeks to fix the copier, that is how the company that supplied the copier made money, not by supplying the copier or toner, but by the constant and ongoing support it needed, that you were not told about when signing up.

I know a very wealthy man, his business put out a tender for quotes, he wanted dual homed gigE to his new office building, and he wanted a flat fixed fee per annum, which he was happy to pay up to 5 years in advance, and, he wanted an SLA, 100% uptime of at least 100 mbit, don’t give a fuck how you do it, just do it, and don’t bill me for it.

He got ZERO tenders, because his SLA requirement explicitly forbade the business model that *everyone* out there was founded on, so in the end he started a new company that did nothing but provide connectivity to his new office, he has his dual homed gigE fibre laid by his new ISP company which has only one customer, himself, with dual homed redundant microwave links on the roof to other sites in town where he has taken offices that hold nothing but the switchgear for the dishes on the roof and connectivity, and a third dish providing a satellite link.

He has 5 guys working shifts to give 24/7 coverage working on-site to ensure all these connections stay up, and to monitor the internal network, and 2 guys working day shifts to monitor and maintain the racks of servers and NAS boxen.

Frighteningly, his numbers for all this aren’t more than 20% higher than the lowballed numbers the various mega providers quoted him for the standard service, excluding the constant ongoing support calls and outages or brownouts where he had connectivity but not full bandwidth.

His “business” is selling racks to certain other business customers, each customer has a multiple of 2 full custom built racks, which are mirrors, and backups of their business, live, 24/7 replicated, backups, the deal is he can *literally* power down and disconnect the rack in 5 minutes from that customer’s phone call, and literally 5 minutes after that the rack is sealed in a custom enclosure and in a van with 2 drivers up front and 3 “guards” in back to verify seals aren’t broken etc, and that van can be at any of the London airports within another hour, or anywhere else you like at an average road speed of 50 mph….  so one copy goes to the customer, one stays in situ, and another one is built pronto to replace the one that was just pulled.

This is a very specific business segment and all of his customers are known to each other and themselves, some of them actually own others as subsidiaries,  in the same business sector… I can’t say much else about all this, but the data is basically customer records and billing databases.

The point of this is that for those who are wise to the iniquities of the “ongoing revenue from ongoing support” business model, which is essentially almost everything nowadays, there was a gap in the market, albeit a gap only someone with about 20 million of his own cash available to kick-start the project could exploit, but the gap was there, by design.

Market theory will tell you that such gaps are exploited naturally by market forces, not so, such gaps are CREATED naturally by big business, who seek to corral and control and manipulate customers, and while those who create these gaps do not exactly sow the ground with U238 and landmines, they do not do anything that might help anyone else exploit this territory.

I had the idea he is now doing, in 1998, at the dawn of the xDSL age and the end of the dial up 56k age, I didn’t have the wherewithal to exploit it, and back then I was thinking single hard disks, motorcycle couriers, small businesses with a single NT3.51 server, I wasn’t thinking big.

This man will himself tell you, part of the process before spending his own 20 big ones was to sit down with some heads and see if his project would in any way tread on the toes of those already in the marketplace, specifically, would starting his own ISP to get the product he wanted screw him with the major players, and the answer was no, on one condition, that the only customer his ISP ever served was himself.

This man told me, that it is in this business environment, that BT’s recent surprise and winning bid for nearly a billion quid for the football rights is being seen in the business world as the equivalent (and this is his words, not mine) of the USA launching Gulf War 1, which was of course all about freedom and democracy and mom’s apple pie for the kurds, fuck all to do with oil.

It is a gloves off, hat in the ring, launch *all* the thermonuclear missiles type of move, as far as all the other incumbents are concerned.

£897 million / 60 million (population) = £15 for every man woman and child in the UK, the vast majority of whom will neither be paying BT Sport customers, nor football fans.

It is, according to him, because Sky started selling broadband, hilariously effectively being a reseller of a reseller for a different BT group product, XDSL, but basically straying from the monthly subscription for a TV dish business model into the monthly subscription for a internet connection business model.

To be fair, it was a move Sky had to make, hello youtube, hello BBC iplayer, only a matter if time before the broadcast model fell to the on-demand model.

Nevertheless, it was an annexing the sudetenland moment, a kristallnacht moment, the gloves are off and now it is all down to burn rates and war chests.

The whole newspaper phone hacking thing, unrelated? Not at all, that was the archduke Ferdinand and some slimy Serbs, after all, the Murdoch empire has dirt to dish.

That is the trouble with following the money, if you aren’t aware enough you won’t see the drug dealer deliberately throwing away a million in product to burn a liability / competitor in a bust, or the biggest rivers on the planet being under the oceans.

You can’t even follow the billions, because that particular fiat currency might become worthless overnight, analogous to certain films where the protagonist must spend 100 million dollars in one year, and have *nothing* to show for it at the end…..

If you *know* you *have* to spend it now, while it is *still* worth *something*, or if you are involved in what is really a currency EXCHANGE, say 897 million Sterling at today’s “worth” for 10 million extra subscribers on monthly subscription….. the “sheeple eyeball month“, that might be a good exchange rate, I don’t know, depends if we are looking at the sheeple eyeball as a unit of currency that can be converted into sales of Brawndo, or votes, or apathy and the po-lice state…

Currently, in the UK, if you take “The Internet” to mean the backbone and all the switching gear, the local ISPs, the colo facilities and servers, home and business networking and computers, and increasingly the portable computers called mobile phones that shift *everything* as “data”, eg 0’s and 1’s, I have a truly frightening statistic for you.

The Internet = 17% of total UK electricity generating capacity.

and since all electricity consumed ultimately gets converted to heat, that means 17% of electrically sourced heat generation in the country is from “the internet”

That is bigger than *anything* since the days of steam dawned.

October 8, 2013

Stuck in the RAM

I have had jobs where sites stop being able to connect to the mother-ship, usually these are sites using an xDSL modem to log into the mother-ship, and login is of course by the trusty Radius server.

The problem isn’t that the cheapo xDSL modem is dead, though that is always the second thing investigated, or the cheapo xDSL line is dead, though that is always the first thing investigated, the problem is the Radius server just stopped working, and you can “fix” it by making a change that simply should not make any difference, changing the Radius password on the Radius server and xDSL modem / router.

I’ve had this on Cisco kit too, you need to TFTP a patch across so configure terminal and then give it an IP address, give your laptop and IP address and as a final sanity check before starting the TFTP you attempt to ping each box from the other, and it doesn’t work, and you can repeat the process ten times, and it won’t work, but if you reboot the Cisco box it will work first time.

Neither of these problems should exist, within the framework of “things as they should be” or rather “things as they are taught”.. for example it is heresy to suggest rebooting the Radius server, so it is discounted as a source of problems when a client site cannot log into a mother-ship, and for example it is heresy to suggest that any console / command line output from Cisco IOS is less than 100% truthful, and yet, if either of these statements were true, the fixes I used would not work.

When asked what the problem was, I say something “Was stuck in the RAM“, which is of course meaningless *and* inaccurate, but it is an explanation of sorts, and it is *far* closer to the truth than the official answers.

I’m not a coder, but I suspect the truth could be found somewhere in the realms of buffer overflows and bounds checking.

However, nobody calls a senior coder in when a remote office fails to connect to the mother-ship, (which one way or another is what 99% of my day job is about, making two sites connect to each other) so as a result you get anything *but* the truth.

As an aside, before I continue, if you are thinking that these are only problems encountered because I am working with cheap ass kit on cheap ass contracts for cheap ass clients, you would be as mistaken as you can possibly be… I absolutely guarantee that even if you have never set foot in the UK you will know 50% of the end users by brand name and reputation alone, even if they do not have a presence local to you.

Most of the kit is relatively speaking not very much money, anything from 500 to 5,000 bucks a box, and that is not a lot of money for a site that is turning over a million a week or an engineer that costs the end user 250 bucks before I even leave MY home, much less turn up on site… the kits itself is very mediocre quality, hardware wise, and that is me speaking as an engineer. Trust me on this.

Cisco kit sells because it all runs IOS, and finding people with Cisco qualifications who can write / edit / troubleshoot the config files, which are the files that tell the IOS what to do, is about as hard as finding a web designer, worst case scenario is there are several tens of thousands available for not very much about 90 milliseconds away in Mumbai.

This, by the way, is the SOLE reason everyone loves the cloud and virtual machines, virtual machines don’t have ANY hardware, so you NEVER need a field engineer to turn up and move a patch cable, power cycle to unstick the RAM, do an actual install or upgrade, or anything else…

So, back to the plot…

It’s down to ETHOS, car brakes were basically designed so the default state was that they were off, truck brakes were designed so the default state was they were on (and it took air pressure to keep them off).. so you pressurise a car system to make it stop, and you leak pressure out of a truck system to make it stop.

Ask yourself two questions;

  1. Which is safest.
  2. Which is cheapest to make.

Suddenly everything becomes clear.

Unless you are the bit of NASA writing the actual code that directly controls the spacecraft flight hardware, or the bit of GE writing the actual code that directly controls the control rods in the nuke pile, or… and I cannot think of a third fucking example…..  then option 2 always gets a look in.

Most of the time the bottom line is the bottom line.

“Good enough” (mostly)

By definition you are excluding the “one in a million” event from your calculations.

Which is great, *until* that event comes along… luckily for humanity in the sphere of my job until I fix it that means someone didn’t get their wages, someone didn’t get their stock in trade to sell, someone didn’t get a product or service that they were going to re-sell to someone else.

It can all be very serious and even life changing to the individuals concerned, but, the small print can cover that shit, nobody got killed…. fuck em…

We have had quite a few “cascade failures” in teh intertubez, they aren’t yet as serious as the power grid blackouts we have had, but then again the power grid is everywhere and literally in everything, and the net is still a relative newbie, chromebooks running exclusively on data living on a virtual machine in the cloud somewhere and 100% of fast net connectivity even to boot up into anything useful are still rare.

But the times, as Dylan said, they are a changin’

I am seeing, as a result of these changes, where the 1st, 2nd and 3rd level responses to problems simply do not work, because the RAM that is stuck is not in the local machine, it is in a central machine that MUST NOT be rebooted, or worse still, in a cloud virtual machine.

At that point the on the spot field engineer (me) can no longer just ring the remote server engineer, compare notes, agree on a likely cause and course of action, and resolve the problem.

I saw this happen, in the flesh, before my own eyes, for the first time, personally, yesterday, NetApp, unfortunately there were so many levels of virtuality that the server guy couldn’t diagnose which layer or virtual RAM was stuck, or where, and there was no possibility of simply rebooting as that would take the entire enterprise down and trash that whole day’s production, which was already sold and due to be in the shops tomorrow, or changing chap/tacacs/radius logins and resetting the problem that way… no worries, a whole new virtual machine was created, problem ignored.

Fuck it, I still get paid either way.

Asking people like me about my opinion on such things, well, that would be like asking a doctor about disease, fuck that, ask the pharma marketing machine, they have their eye on the bottom line.

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