The Psychology of the AWS Outage
Unless you've been living on another planet, you're certainly aware that over the past couple of hours Amazon's AWS S3 service has experienced a serious outage, which has affected thousands of sites and services around the world. For reasons I will elaborate in this post, the coverage of this outage has been blown completely out of proportion. So, what's the difference between the perceived risk associated with the AWS outage and the actual risk of this outage?
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The Perils of Naive Sorting
I wanted to compare the aggregate cited half-life of works in
different scientific disciplines. This figure tracks the median age
of the articles cited during the last year. The ISI Web of Knowledge offers such a tool, and allows sorting
by the a field's half life. I found the first three entries in the list,
mineralogy (10), orthopedics (9.7), and agriculture (9.5), slightly odd.
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Secure Passports and IT Problems
In 2003 Greece, in response to new international requirements for secure travel documents, revised the application process and contents of its passports. From January 1st 2006 passports are no longer issued by the prefectures, but by the police, and from August 26th passports include an RFID chip. The new process has been fraught with problems; many of these difficulties stem from the IT system used for issuing the passports.
On December 12th, the Greek Ombudsman
(human rights section) issued a special 22-page report on the problems of the new passport issuing process.
The report is based on 43 official citizen complaints.
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A Malfeasant Design for Lawful Interception
Earlier this month it was revealed that more than 100 mobile phone numbers
belonging mostly to members of the Greek government and top-ranking
civil servants were found to have been illegally tapped for a period
of at least one year (see
Apparently, the tapping was implemented by activating Ericsson's
lawful interception subsystem installed at the Vodafone service provider.
How could this happen?
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Vatican's Prescient Web Masters
The Vacancy of the Apostolic See web page appears to have been prepared one day BEFORE the Pope's death.
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U.S. military sites offer a quarter million Microsoft Word documents
I was Google-searching for the Air Force Operational Test & Evaluation
Center publication "Software Maintainability - Evaluation Guide". To
make my search more efficient I restricted it to military (.mil) sites,
using the Google keyword "site:.mil".
I was not able to find the publication I was looking for, but was surprised
to see a number of Microsoft Word documents in the search results.
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