Weekly Wrap 302: Rain, rest, and the equinox

Old Target: click to embiggen My week of Monday 14 to Sunday 20 March 2016 was pretty much as planned, though slightly more tiring than I’d hoped.

Right now I’m more in the mood to listen to the rain outside than write, so I’ll leave it there.

Articles

Podcasts

None. But scroll down for details of a new episode of The 9pm Edict in just a few days.

Media Appearances

None.

Corporate Largesse

  • On Monday morning, I dropped into Tech Leaders Forum, and had a coffee on their tab. Nothing newsworthy was said, however.

The Week Ahead

I’m spending the short work week before Easter in Lilyfield, in Sydney’s inner west, as well as Easter itself. I’ll be working steadily through three geek-for-hire projects, catching up a big chunk of that bookkeeping for the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), and writing a ZDNet column.

On Wednesday night, I’m finally recording and streaming that episode of The 9pm Edict podcast. That’s at 2100 AEDT on this website. Details will be posted on Monday.

That much-delayed episode of The 9pm Edict podcast will be produced and posted over the weekend. The recording won’t be streamed live, for a number of reasons, though I might stream the finished podcast at a specific time so you can enjoy it together.

Further Ahead

The short week after Easter will be an extension of the plan just described. So will the following week, at least at this stage.

After that, I should be in Canberra on 12-14 April for the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) Conference. A plan is slowly evolving.

I’ll definitely be on the Gold Coast on 24-27 May for the AusCERT Cyber Security Conference.

Update 23 March 2016: Edited to reflect changed plans.

[Photo: Old Target. Today I found one of the National Rifle Association regulation practice targets that I used when I went to American Shooters, a firearms range in Las Vegas, in 2011. I think I need some more practice.]

The 9pm Supplementary Sense of Occasion

Photograph of someone constructing a bolt bomb

In last night’s episode, titled The 9pm Inadequate Sense of Occasion, there were three things which may not have been entirely clear. Let’s deal with those issues right now.

One, I failed to identify a commentator I quoted, someone who’d given their opinion of America’s response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Two, my description of a bolt bomb was misleading. Three, I may not have been entirely clear in expressing my opinion of Australia’s Attorney-General.

Continue reading “The 9pm Supplementary Sense of Occasion”

Why people who say “train station” sound stupid

Google Ngram "railway station" all English: click to embiggenI cringe when people talk about the “train station”. “It’s ‘railway station’, you morons,” screams my brain. Well as it turns out, they’re actually not stupid — at least not for that reason. It’s just another relatively modern shift in language.

The chart at the top of the post is a Google Ngram search of their entire English corpus since 1820 — the first public steam railway in the world was the Stockton and Darlington Railway, which opened in 1825 — comparing the usage of “railway station” (blue) versus “railroad station” (red) and “train station” (orange).

You can click through to the full-size chart, or run the search yourself.

As you can see, the most common usage has almost always been “railway station”, with “railroad station” distinctly second-place. A “train station” wasn’t even a thing until the 1950s, but it rose in popularity quite quickly. “Train station” has been the most common usage since the mid-1990s, although it has been declining again since around 2000. I wonder why.

My understanding is that many railway terms derived from the military, because until the railways came along nothing else had been organised on that sort of trans-national and even trans-continental scale except armies. Hence trains have “guards” for their safe operation, and “stations” along the line where staff are stationed to maintain the entire railway system — including fuel, water, trackwork and signalling.

Railway stations are therefore part of a railway’s entire operation, not merely “train stations” for trains to stop at. For me, someone talking about “train stations” is showing their ignorance of how railways work: it’s more than just the trains.

Since I had the Google open in front of me, I thought I’d look at the variations in US versus UK English. It seems that “railroad station” isn’t the dominant American usage that I’d imagined.

Continue reading “Why people who say “train station” sound stupid”

So China hacked some US newspapers…

Screenshot of NYTimes.com: click for original storyOn 31 January The New York Times reported that it had been hacked by China, their networks penetrated for some four months. The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post too. So naturally I ended up writing about it.

For Crikey I wrote China not the only ones taking part in cyber spookery, which puts these attacks in the context of the online espionage and sabotage operations of recent years.

“Countless organisations have experienced the same scenario in recent years,” I wrote. “But it’s big news this time because journalists were the targets.” Cynical, perhaps, but I gather security ├╝ber-expert Bruce Schneier said much the same thing, so I’m kinda chuffed.

And for CSO Online I wrote Chinese attacks show up useless infosec, again.

“Recent attacks on US newspapers are further proof that, despite making billions, the information security industry is pretty much screwed,” it begins. That one won’t make me any friends. So nothing new there.

I must admit, I found both stories fairly straightforward to write. I guess I’ve been writing about this stuff long enough to feel confident about it.

China has denied the accusations, of course.

As it happens, this week’s On the Media podcast from WNYC begins with a six-minute backgrounder on the hacks which is well worth the listen.

Visiting San Francisco for VMworld 2012

I’m heading to San Francisco for VMware’s VMworld 2012 event starting on Sunday 26 August and staying on for the rest of the week.

I see that the logo features the words “Right here right now”. If they play that effing Fat Boy Slim song, I will truly go postal!

This will be my fifth visit to San Francisco in the last two years, and I must admit the place really is growing on me. Apart from the fact that it’s in that collapsing empire called the US. It does depress me to see the disabled veterans begging on the streets.

I mentioned this trip on Twitter about half an hour ago and already I’ve been told to visit a “beer mecca” called Toronado. What else, do you think?

And yes, I’m travelling as VMware Inc’s guest.