Twitter and Facebook attacked

Social networking sites Twitter and Facebook were both unavailable for long periods this afternoon (Central African Time) due to a Distributed Denial of Service attack or DDoS, a process whereby huge numbers of infected computers, controlled by a single “master computer” besiege the servers of a site with demands for data until the servers – and the site – breaks.

Graham Cluley, a computer security expert, likened the attack to “15 fat men trying to get through a revolving door at the same time.” and while this explains the situation nicely, there is no definition of how fat the men are or how small the revolving door is. Some shopping malls (Meadowhall, Canal Walk) have huge automatic revolving doors which wouldn’t have any trouble fitting 15 fat men in. I can only imagine that either Twitter has a very small revolving door or that the men in question were exceptionally obese.
It’s also interesting to note that it is men who are taking the rap for this. In this age of political correctness, I sincerely hope that Graham considered the implications of his perceived single-sex attack. While it may reflect rather negatively on the male sex, I’m sure there will be – at some point down the line – some mouthy lesbian who will claim to have been struggling to get through the revolving door as well.

And already, accusations as to who employed the 15 fat men and the angry lezza are flying around. Some have suggested that Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinajacket was getting back at twitter for the rather unsupportive stance it took around his brutally putting down opposition protests last month. Others have suggested that it was some sort of coalition or consortium of bosses who just wanted their employees to actually get on with some work for once. Especially those in Port Elizabeth.
But it seems most likely that this was basically an attack by aliens who were just warming up to take on a really big site like this one. But don’t worry, we’ll be on the lookout for a group of fat bastard martians trying to get in through our revolving door. And this being South Africa, we’ll be ready and waiting to defend 6000 miles…the only way we know how: with a gaggle of angry black mamas toi-toi’ing their way to greet them.
There are few sights more terrifying than Nkosazana, Thandiwe and their chums singing and dancing their way towards you while holding up illegible placards made from torn cardboard boxes. Believe it, because it’s true.

Once the large social networking sites have seen how well we in South Africa defend our revolving doors, they will be flocking over to Mzansi, servers in hand. We’ll have a plethora of twits in Pretoria, loads of MySpace in the Karoo and Friends Reunited in Cape Town (as long as they went to the same school). All of which can surely only be good for the economy.

Then all we have to do is somehow stop them from noticing how slowly our revolving doors actually revolve.

Good start, but…

It’s been a week of political revelation in South Africa, as President Jacob Zuma arrived unannounced in Balfour, Mpumalanga to see first-hand the lack of service delivery which has caused riots there recently and Human Settlements (read ‘Housing’) Minister Tokyo Sexwale – the man with the best name in Government since Johannes van der Undergrunties – slept in a shack in Diepsloot.

It’s good stuff and a far cry from the distant leadership of Mbeki. It’s down-to-earth, it’s populist and hands-on.
And while that’s a welcome change, it’s important to remember two things: firstly, that we’re in no way comparing Zuma to any sort of gold standard in Mbeki and secondly, that turning up on the doorstep and talking about things is really just the start.
Echoing my thoughts on the promises of Zuma’s election campaign from July 24th last year, the only thing that should actually make people believe that Zuma and the ANC care about them is when they actually deliver on the promises they have made. And that’s yet to happen.

However, Zuma’s surprise visit has certainly struck a chord with the press. Dominic Mahlangu wrote in The Times:

That the local government was lethargic was further demonstrated to Zuma when he drove to the municipal office at about 3.30pm, only to find that the mayor, Lefty Tsotetsi, had already gone home for the day.
It remains to be seen whether Zuma will take action against Tsotetsi and the other alleged under-performers on the council. But his populist pledge to visit many other local governments and departments without warning in the coming months could keep civil servants and elected officials on their toes most of the time.

And that can only be good for South Africa.

While one of Zuma’s most vocal critics, cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro graded Zuma’s performance as almost “praiseworthy” by moving the symbolic showerhead which has plagued Zuma since his rape trial in 2006, upwards in response to his Balfour visit (note the small self-portrait in the bottom corner: “Credit where it’s due”).

This cartoon removed at the
request of Zapiro’s legal team
6000, September 2009

If he is to be taken seriously, Zuma needs to act now. A lack of action now would surely be even worse than not visiting at all: The hope, the expectancy and the promise are all there now. Sadly, I have seen too many broken promises not to be skeptical about Zuma’s motives in Balfour. It’s now nearly 4 months since he was sworn in as President and as far as I can see, nothing has really changed for the better.
Some might argue that it’s still early days, but some concrete action wouldn’t go amiss already.

Sick

Bah.

With all this talk of swine flu getting a grippe in South Africa, I find myself sick in bed. Not, I hasten to add, with swine flu. I’m not sure what it is; all I know is that I’ve been stuck here sleeping, watching old episodes of Deadliest Catch and sleeping while watching old episodes of Deadliest Catch.
I have been treated to the dancing nuns on the DSTV advert about 17 times, which has been nice (who doesn’t like dancing nuns) but I’m still feeling rather ropey.

More drugs are required because the long weekend ahead brings with it the promise of sunshine, the return of the football season and live international rugby at Newlands.

Sent from my Sony Ericsson XPERIA™ X1.

Stupid

There are some people in the world who think all Americans are stupid.

I disagree. Not all Americans are stupid. I’ve actually met a couple of rather intelligent Americans. 
But then, I guess calling someone stupid depends on your definition of stupid. And, in an effort to make all Americans look less stupid, the stupidity threshold has been raised quite significantly by Shane Bauer, Sara Shourd and Joshua Fattal. They are the three Americans who have been detained after they allegedly strayed into Iranian territory while hiking along the Iran/Iraq border.

Exactly how stupid do you have to be to get yourself into that situation? At what point did these three sit down together and collectively decide that this particular hike would be a “good thing to do”?

Hmm, the border between Iran and Iraq.
There’s a safe geographical location between two peaceful and stable nations whose people love America and where we will therefore obviously avoid any sort of incident or trouble.

I’m not an American taxpayer, but if I were, I would be writing to tell President Obama in no uncertain terms that I refuse to have a single cent of my money spent in funding any sort of negotiations or diplomatic efforts to get these idiots released from Iranian custody. Words cannot even begin to describe the awesome stupidity of their actions.
One almost hopes for the Iranians to enforce the death penalty, which would at least make the trio eligible for the Darwin Awards, so that something worthwhile can come out of this sorry affair.

Obviously, this story is still unfolding and I will almost certainly comment further on it once I am back from my bird-watching trip to Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

Apple’s dirty secret…

I love my iPod. Aside from my SEX1, it’s my favourite piece of kit and I use it every day.

Fortunately, it has never exploded, but if it did, I would never be able to tell you about it anyway. That’s because it has now emerged that Apple – wonderful, lovely, ethical, not-Microsoft Apple – are trying to hush people up when their iPods explode by forcing them to sign gagging orders if they want their money refunded. That’s nice. Friendly.

Apple attempted to silence a father and daughter with a gagging order after the child’s iPod music player exploded and the family sought a refund from the company.
The Times has learnt that the company would offer the family a full refund only if they were willing to sign a settlement form. The proposed agreement left them open to legal action if they ever disclosed the terms of the settlement.
The case echoes previous circumstances in which Apple attempted to hush up incidents when its devices overheated.

Which – to me, at least – doesn’t look like the most friendly or customer-orientated settlement offer for a defective product which could potentially have seriously injured its 11-year-old owner (yes, I know she looks older) because it exploded.


Boom.

Much like the Trading Standards officials quoted in the article, I can completely understand why Apple want these incidents hushed up: Apple fans are generally hysterical, leftie drama-queens and wouldn’t want to risk damaging their freshly waxed legs by putting an iPod Touch in their Guess jeans’ pocket.

Fortunately for Steve Jobs, his brand remains safe. All he has to do is to add some feature onto an existing product – ideally a feature which should have been on the existing product in the first place (and maybe an extra letter onto the name) – and the blinkered Apple fanboys will go wild and bombard twitter with overly excited tweets that OMG! it’s going to be, like,  SO much better than their current Apple product and they CAN’T WAIT!!!!, helpfully forgetting that their current Apple product should really have done all that stuff already.
They’ll be so busy running off to the loo with pictures of the new over-priced phone/laptop/MP3 player that all the exploding iPod issues will be forgotten long before they go out and spend stupid amounts of money on the new device because it will impress their arty-farty friends; after all, it’s got that little logo on it and it may not explode.

Additionally, South African Apple fans will seek sympathy from similarly brain-washed individuals over the price of Apple products and how we only get the new stuff weeks after it is released in the US; crying about discrimination, while conveniently ignoring the fact that this happens here with every make, model and manufacturer of anything vaguely technological.

Yes folks, believe it or not (and some of you won’t) Apple is a big, ugly, capitalist company which is in business to make money. It doesn’t matter how trendy you think their products are or how cool it is to have the latest thing which looks exactly the same as the last thing does or did. There are very few people who find your chatter about memory size or connectivity exciting. They’re smiling and nodding just to be polite and because they’re waiting for the big bang when you play your next Jonas Brothers track.