Thursday, May 17, 2018

The curse of being enmeshed in long odds

I'm just going to expand on my curse, which has some funny stories, and has made me into the obnoxious POOCH you see today.

My main curse was getting into infrastructure and physics.  That was traditionally very long odds of failures because the consequences were so huge.  Now, it has just folded into the FB norm of short odds (if it doesn't happen today, it will never happen). 

Long odds were ingrained into the nuclear industry.  During my fun times when I actually worked at the old company (10 years, then 20 years of snoozing), all of us design engineers were passionate about long odds.  We designed things to survive the gorillas of operations (very shot odds).  Then the old company went totally to the gorillas, and we never built anything new.  All those old guys left, but I stayed on to suffer, always fighting a losing battle for long odds.  For a while, the regulator was with me, but then they went political.

The odds of a big nuclear release are now 1 in 100 per annum, making the odds for an individual plant about 1 in 10,000.  I have stated that odds for Pickering are 1 in 1000 because an earthquake blows away all 'defence in depth' and 'individual systems', just like a sully-type double bird strike.

The worse thing was that the long odds began to strike me more than anybody.  I can't recall how many times somebody on the phone said 'It's never happened before'.  Dammit, it's happened to me!

My biggest story happened at the old company.  I was in charge of the local internet and the Bank of Montreal just started on-line banking with their new brand - MBANX.  This was a hot thing with big advertising.  Somebody came to me that they accidentally got into the account of another of my users.  Holy Crappola!  I went to our top guy who was doing the firewall on this own time.  He found that, since we were presenting one ip address, anybody and their dog could get in to all bank accounts, since they were just hanging onto ip addresses.  MBANX was aloof.

I wrote this up in a security mailing list, and it was picked up by the newspapers.  All of sudden, their top stupid people were contacting my top stupid people, and their solution was to kill me.  In the end, my buddy the vice-president saved me, and openly condemned MBANX.  They folded their tents, forgot the brand, and hired my buddy for an obscene amount of money.  They lost millions.

I have many other such stories, but I won't bore today's generation.  :)

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