Always check your sources

At the dawning of the internet age the aim was to provide a platform to share information, initially between higher education facilities. It was a golden age of what was essentially a library of information shared across the United States and later the world. The early fact checkers were academics interested in facts, data and a robust discussion. Skip forward to 2021 and the situation has changed. Fact checkers are often the opposite. They don't check anything, they make up stories and never check sources. My recommendation these days is that if you see something that has the label “fact checked” or similar then to try and get as close to the source information as you can and check for yourself.

Windows 11 inches ever closer but builds have not been all that stable with a recent one breaking the Start Menu and Taskbar. It was quickly patched but it shows that all is not going smoothly a month or so away from the launch. A few official testers received a message indicating that their hardware was not good enough for Windows 11. The hardware check was originally not being made for virtual machines but is now being applied in the later builds. I’m sure this will all work out just fine, it isn’t as if Microsoft has any history of problems just before release to general availability, or that they send out codes that could destroy users’ data.

After what seems a very long time Linus Torvalds, not a fan at all of GitHub, will pull Paragon Software’s NTFS driver into the 5.15 kernel source. This will finally add support for the Windows file system with full read and write capabilities. The current driver only has limited write support. This will also mean that some of the next generation media players, based on Linux, will finally be able to access the Windows file systems properly.

Can you hack space? Without a warp drive probably not but there are a lot of hackers trying to get into anything they can. Like any government agency across the world, Nasa has its own share of cyber-attacks. There is a full report at oig.nasa.gov/docs/IG-21-019.pdf. Think about how much we rely on the orbiting structures above. Communications and GPS alone facilitate transportation and trade along with financial services and knowing what tomorrow’s weather will be. The platforms that communicate with these assets are also at risk and these are international issues not just local concerns.

With so many components, some of which are not even encrypted, the worry about potential hackers is real, and with satellite numbers increasing it can only get worse. Private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin are also at risk due to their large technology investment, research and infrastructure. Private organisations are often better at security than government departments but the overall interconnectivity can put everyone at risk, including the basic supply chain components. There are few internationally shared regulations and policies dealing with cybersecurity and space. Those making decisions often have limited knowledge in the area, not uncommon in the modern age. Hopefully there are some clever people looking at this, otherwise we may see the Robot Wars series play out in space. Coming to a TV or streaming platform near you soon.

Today’s game tip. The team strength score in Raid Shadow Legends is meaningless as it is a raw, not comparative number. Your strength score can be three times that of your opponents and you can still get easily crushed.

When was the last time you saw a tape drive and were not the sysadmin of a large data store? Many people have seen the spinning tape drives in old TV shows, but for a long time now smaller form factor tape drives have been the mainstay of data backup. The Linear Tape-Open (LTO) organisation has recently signed off on efforts by Fujifilm and Sony to create tapes that meet the LTO-9 standard.

This means new offerings like 18TB tapes, up to 45TB when compressed, are now on sale. Unlike previous updates this one only provides 50% more storage capacity compared to LTO-8. Backup tapes like these are easily air gapped from people like ransomware hackers. Tapes are, as you may expect, quite a bit slower at reading and writing when compared to a hard drive, with recovery at around 3.6TB per hour, but this is a lot faster than trying to recover from scratch. Many suppliers have released new versions based on LTO-9 with each new version typically taking about three years to appear. This one took four, probably because of the disruption a certain minute organism has been causing. Until something better comes along, tape backup will remain a thing in some organisations.

In other news snippets, Samsung has been offered a nice deal to set up chip-making in Texas and Intel is maybe spending €80 billion in Europe on chip plants.

James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years’ standing. You can contact him at jclhein@gmail.com.

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