In flagrante

Programmers cross swords

I caught this very amusing programmer contretemps, a Twitter pas de deux, a few days ago (maybe it was a little longer than that… hmmm, scarey, I hope I am not losing track of time). The central players were Zed Shaw and Ted Dzuiba ummm… I forgot how to spell his name. Some poor soul, the @centipedefarmer, got caught up in the middle of it, which is what I have tried to embed below.

@jamesiry good times…— Jerry Chen (@jcsalterego) March 26, 2012

Disturbance in the Wikiverse

I have been wasting way too much time editing Wikipedia. I have listened, been BOLD. Among other things, I started tidying up the Stuxnet Wikipedia article, given that one of its primary means of propagation expired on June 24, 2012 per Mikko H. of F-Secure. I will ALWAYS hold F-Secure in high esteem, by the way. Yet I was pulled, of my own free will and curiosity, into the related Industrial Control Systems (ICS) article, which was quite neglected. 

I am actually somewhat qualified to edit an Industrial Control Systems (ICS) article, based on my undergraduate and graduate school education, and my early work experience. No boasting here, just typical female under-confidence and need to justify. 

My dilemma: How much information to include? 

I really wish there was someone with whom I could speak, get some guidance. I don’t want to link to, nor quote what I am guessing are documents that don’t need to be part of Wikipedia. I mean, I found them, but there were warnings not to download or copy them. 

Since Stuxnet first appeared on the (public) scene, or at least publicly accessible infosec community scene, in July 2010, on Brian Krebs’ Krebs on Security website (well, he wrote about Belarus security software company Virus Blok Ada’s findings of it), there has been progress. Specifically, progress in creating better standards for Industrial Control Systems security practices and protocols. 
Contrary to what SO many of the LOUDEST but least informed seem to think, the people who run nuclear power plants, hydro-electric generation facilities a.k.a. dams, like my favorite Hoover Dam, water treatment plants, oil drilling platforms and heavy equipment manufacturing facilities are NOT incompetent idiots. Nor are they fragmented and hostile, even if in different countries! They have been working together, quietly, slowly, but steadily, with productive output since the fall of 2010.

I am hesitant to link to, or even provide details of the trail of breadcrumbs to the carefully drafted documents for more secure ICS in this “post Stuxnet era”, and link to it on Wikipedia. Rather, my common sense indicates that, but perhaps it would be just fine, I simply do not know.

Genuine and trustworthy expert insight sought, to no avail

I wanted to ask Eugene Spafford, Ph.D. a.k.a. @TheRealSpaf, of Purdue University renown and cyber security pioneer status fame for input. Gene Spafford should be trustworthy and well-informed, probably more so than anyone else I have stumbled over on Twitter. Unfortunately, I am fairly certain that he is quite ill with a serious medical condition, so he is not in the best mood.  He definitely doesn’t have patience or time for me, and I can’t blame him. I tried to signal to him on “open Twitter”, that I needed his guidance, but merely succeeded in irritating him, by unintentionally appearing smarmy-obnoxious. 
Who else is there to ask? No one is active in such subject matter on Wikipedia anymore e.g. Scadateer hasn’t been active in any way since 2010, nor has anyone else. No one seems to be watching the article either. At least with The Periodic Table of the Elements, there are vigilant chemists who watch over the thing night and day. They even told me to go ahead and not be afraid to change anything,  as they would quickly clean up after me if I were wrong. 

IBM Sequoia

The Industrial Control Systems article is not an isolated case. IBM Sequoia, holder of the June 2012 Top 500 List designation as “The Fastest Supercomputer in the World” is a mess too. I refer to the IBM Sequoia article on Wikipedia (I am rather certain that the physical object is lovingly well-tended). The article sources much of its content from an online article via the BBC. Unfortunately, the BBC article was full of errors. Some were grammatical, which is frightening. Others were content-based, which can happen with supercomputer articles. But that doesn’t help me! 

First of all, the Wikipedia article is ridiculously brief for an entry of such importance. Why is that? Probably because everyone would rather write about the 9 zillion manifestations of My Little Pony. Or private equity. (There is an obsession with private equity on Wikipedia, and nearly everywhere else that non-finance or C.P.A. or attorney types are found on the internet.) This is partly IBM’s fault as well. IBM should spend less time worrying about “social media” and “analysis of BIG unstructured DATA sets” for retail marketing insights. Instead, they need to stop uploading pictures of supercomputers to Flickr and making awful spelling errors that people prior to me have tried to ever-so-politely point out, months earlier, to no avail e.g. “IBM Sequoia Instillation”. They should also have someone help me re-write that Wikipedia article! 
Does IBM Sequoia require 7.9 MW of power, or 6 MW to operate?
At present, the Wikipedia article has both figures. There are other errors too, of an arithmetic sort e.g. the number of cores, nodes whatever compared to the prior fastest computer in the world, the K Computer. Again, I need someone to ask. 
Or: Perhaps there is someone more qualified than me to do this, hein?  One would think… but if so, they haven’t stepped up yet, and it is now July 21, 2012. The Top 500 results were announced on June 14 or 18, 2012. You’d think one of the teeming hordes of Wikipedia editors would have had a look at this. Instead, Wikimedia seems preoccupied with their ANTI-anti-pornography star chamber meetings.
High performance computing spam
I removed a hilarious bit of spam from the IBM Sequoia article. I can’t stop laughing long enough to type this. Under the “Operating System” heading, the spammer said that IBM Blue Gene series supercomputers, which is what Sequoia is, run on Windows XP. 
How portable!
Yes, that’s correct, the Wikimedia Foundation voted to overturn their previous decision to implement pornography controls. Do they have any idea of the kind of pornography that makes its way into Wikipedia? Yes, I realize that their concern is regarding legitimate content, for example, articles about human reproduction, or outre social or cultural practices, and their photographic depiction. 
What they don’t realize is that spammers and the 4chan folks do TERRIBLE things. I will look for those photos that I found during my first month as a Wikipedia registered user. Huge, as in 5000px by 3000px high resolution png, and even bmp, format photos uploaded by a rogue Wikipedia editor, of himself with multiple women, at the same time, including captions for each and every one. I had no idea what to do. They needed to be removed from Wikimedia Commons ASAP before children were exposed to them, and I couldn’t find anyone to tell, or anywhere to even report the problem.  I still don’t know what to do when I find this sort of thing, who to tell. They had been inserted in the article for the world famous Yu-Yuan Gardens in Shanghai. That was my only first-hand experience of this sort, but there have been others, as apparent from the article Talk page for Facebook. I will provide links. If I remember.
To be continued, and parsed into appropriate prior posts when I have a little more time.

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