Jul 202024

This is a bit of rant poking fun at the sheer quantity of misinformation about CrowdStrike’s little issue yesterday (to clarify when this post was written – more information will come out).


Some of the earliest symptoms of the issue were some Microsoft services having issues. Oddly enough I wasn’t using many of those yesterday (I usually do) except for Teams which didn’t seem to suffer … at least not as much.

It appears that Microsoft may run CrowdStrike Falcon on at least some of their servers (although the jury is still out on this one – some are saying it was an independent outage). Despite Microsoft having their own security tools (Defender), this isn’t quite as unlikely as it may seem – particularly safety conscious organisations may well run two of more anti-malware products.

And CrowdStrike is more mature than Defender at least in the fancy “behavioural analytics” area.

The Internet

… wasn’t broken at all. Many services were broken true enough, but probably more were working just as well as normal. Microsoft’s platforms are very widely used, and CrowdStrike is a big name in cybersecurity, so it is hardly surprising that there was so much disruption.

But to say this broke the Internet is a bit of an exaggeration. Kind of what you would expect from mainstream media.

Who Are CrowdStrike?

Not surprisingly, many people just haven’t heard this name before. It is very widely known in the cybersecurity community with a wide variety of security focused services, including top-flight anti-malware products.

But they don’t sell to individuals so they are not well known amongst the general community.

The product at the centre of all this is CrowdStrike Falcon, an anti-malware agent that goes a bit beyond “anti-virus” in that it attempts to go beyond blocking known viruses and attempts to block behaviours known to be malicious.

As such, it receives very frequent updates – up to every hour (although probably many hours) which puts this sort of catastrophic failure at a rate of somewhere in the order of 0.001%.

What Went Wrong?

This starts to get a bit technical …

Some of this was informed by CrowdStrike’s update; some by educated (I work in this field although I’m not familiar with CrowdStrike’s product) common sense.

First of all, this was not a kernel driver update (although the relevant filename made it appear so) but a content update. As previously mentioned, these are sent out very frequently. The content update triggered a bug in the kernel driver and caused a “blue screen of death“. This would repeat after every reboot until the relevant update was removed or updated (the crash doesn’t occur immediately which sometimes allows the agent to download a fixed update).

Secondly this update was tested before being released (do you really believe that an approximately 0.001% failure rate is achieved without testing?), but something went wrong with the testing process. We don’t know what, and CrowdStrike don’t either. Yet.

Why Was It So Widespread?

Simply because although generally unknown to the general public, CrowdStrike Falcon is generally regarded as an excellent security product and is very widely used. Perhaps more widely used than previously suspected.

But the whole Internet? Clearly not, but it’s in the mainstream’s media to be a bit ‘click-baity’ in their reports.

As A Statue
Jul 142024

Having just spent a couple of nights in a cheap hotel (which is my own choice so no complaints about that), I have a few suggestions with regards to hotels. Most of which would be cheap to implement, make life easier for both you and your guests.

Sure some will cost money, but still worth considering.


Beds are rather critical to what we’re there for – if anything that is the only reason we’re there. A place to sleep overnight without being squished into strange contortions in a car, or under a bush hoping it doesn’t rain.

You do fine with the beds themselves, but the bedding?

I’m sure how you make beds is very impressive at an exhibition and if you want to make an exhibition of how you make the beds, stick it in the fucking lobby.

I don’t want to struggle for half an hour to untangle the bedding to get into bed; in fact on my latest stay I just didn’t bother. I slept on top of the duvet with the addition of a few towels.

Just don’t tuck that shit in. It’ll save your staff time, and it’ll save your guests time.

“For Your Safety”

Oh please! We know that those window chains preventing them from opening far enough aren’t really for our safety. They’re a legal safety belt so that if someone does something really dumb like crawling through the window, you’re legally covered.

Replace the notice with “For our legal protection”, and allow us to unscrew the safety cable (“On your own head be it”). Most of your guests are adults and have been successfully dealing with the dangers of open windows for years; sometimes decades.

Nicotine Addicts

… don’t disappear in a cloud of smoke just because smoking is now prohibited in hotel rooms. And how many fire alarms have been triggered because vaping triggers ‘smoke’ alarms? Or by especially steamy showers?

Let’s face it, those smoke alarms are just a bit shit – they should be looking for smoke particles not all particles.

But ignoring that, making some sort of arrangements for nicotine addicts might well make sense – not only for those who are addicted, but also those who aren’t. Smokers usually exit the hotel and smoke somewhere on the ground floor which often seems to climb into hotel rooms. Certainly the room I was in caught the occasional whiff of smoke.

Give the smokers a balcony on every floor with an active ventilation system that ejects the smoke at roof level. More convenient for the smokers, and less nasty smells for the other residents. And a separate balcony for vapers; despite what you might think, vapers don’t necessarily enjoy cigarette smoke.

Ceci n’est pas une cabane de plage
Jul 112024

A combination of Tory incompetence, mismanagement, the austerity fetish, and probably outright corruption has allowed us the electorate to drive a knife into the heart of the Tory beast. But the job is not over yet; the beast still lives if wounded.

The Tories may well thrust the knife in themselves with a variety of different groups moving the party to the right with the impression that the country is moving in the direction of ReformUK. Ignoring their traditional supporters.

But in case sanity returns by the time of the next election, we should be planning on finishing off the Tory beast. That doesn’t mean the right shouldn’t have a party – there is still a bunch who would vote for a centre-right party.

But the current Tory party itself is guilty of such atrocious mis-management that it deserves to die.

We need to demand electoral reform – getting rid of a government so miserable in performance and fractured in nature shouldn’t require tactical voting. People should be free to vote with their conscience and belief and to find the result reflects their vote in proportion to everyone else.

It is worth pointing out that the 2019 election result gave the Tories an 80 seat majority on 44% of the popular vote whereas the combination of Labour, Greens, and Liberals got 46% of the popular vote. How is giving the right-wing the government when a left-wing ‘coalition’ had a majority of the popular vote supposed to be fair?

And that was quite possibly the poorest result for the left of centre parties in recent times.

If we do not get electoral reform, we need to push tactical voting twice as hard – and drag old old stories of just how bad the Tories in government really were.

A long road to the gatehouse
Dover Castle Gateway
Jul 062024

So various places are now filling up with articles whining about how if MPs were selected by the share of the vote, Labour would have gotten far fewer MPs and the minority parties (such as ReformUK whose voters seem particularly dumb) would have gotten more.

For example, Labour got 412 MPs with just 34% of the vote; if they had 34% of the MPs, they would have just 221 MPs which would require a coalition to obtain a majority. On the opposite side of the equation, ReformUK got 5 MPs (far too many!) with 14.3% of the vote which would have gotten them

But there’s two aspects to the unfairness of the results :-

  1. We don’t have proportional representation. Labour doesn’t put that much effort into constituencies that are their safest seats or those they’ll never win. A win in a seat with a 20,000 majority is worth no more than a seat with a majority of 1. To a very great extent, sensible political parties have been practicing “tactical campaigning” for a very long time.
  2. This election has probably seen more tactical voting than has ever been seen before – backed by a massive campaign, this has probably seen quite a few Labour voters (for example) voting for Liberal Democrats in constituencies where that makes the most sense to get rid of the Tories (and visa versa). So the share of the Labour vote is suppressed; probably a surprising amount.

That’s glossing over the fact that many supporters of smaller parties (such as the Greens) have been voting tactically for decades – I’ve often voted Labour when I’d rather vote Green.

You will see pretty pictures of what parliament would look like if MPs were allocated according to voter share – they’re all completely fictional. Voting would be quite different if we really allocated MPs according to the proportion of votes. So that kind of speculation is rather pointless.

But it does highlight the need for proportional representation.

Tunnel of Arches