Re: Stupid users (was Re: Is there a term for this?)

Subject: Re: Stupid users (was Re: Is there a term for this?)
From: Phil Snow Leopard <philstokes03 -at- googlemail -dot- com>
To: Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>, "techwrl (techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com)" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 9 Feb 2012 00:28:48 +0700

I can't speak for Google docs and other systems, but in Apple's OS X Lion its true that every document you create is actually a new SQLlite database; however, you don't need 'undo' because Autosave effectively captures every change to the database and allows you to roll back through it from any point all the way back to the point of creation with Versions. Resume restores the state of the computer and all its application windows to their previous state when you closed them or when the computer powers off (even the latter is a result of a system crash).

While in some situations this might be a good thing, there are other where it is a great danger. Two simple, if imaginative (but not that fanciful) scenarios should illustrate the point:

Imagine a worker, let's call him Non-Techie Terry, who's hacked off with his job. In anger, he writes a deeply insulting and incriminating letter about his bosses and colleagues and saves it as a draft. Just then, before he closes the document, the computer crashes. Non-Techie Terry calls IT support to come and sort out his computer. IT techie says no problem and restarts the machine. Big Boss just happens to be walking by..."Problem with the Mac, Terry! God and we paid so much money for them!". He just happens to be standing over "supervising" (you know, the way Big Bosses do...) as the IT Jock gets the machine up and running. And what should come up on re-boot right in the middle of the screen thanks to Resume? Yup, Terry's incriminating letter. See you in the Job Centre, Terry...

Instead of the machine crashing, suppose Terry finishes his draft and off he goes for a coffee break (remembering to log off his computer as he has been taught), only to come back 15 minutes later and think better of his harsh words. Non-Techie Terry re-edits the draft into something far more reasonable, attaches it to an email and sends it off to his line manager. No problem...maybe he even imagines being thanked for his constructive criticisms...

EXCEPT...behind Non-Techie Terry sits his colleague Twisted Toby. Having spied Terry's first draft over his shoulder on the way back from the water cooler, Twisted Toby waits for Non-Techie Terry to go for that coffee break. In less then 15 minutes, Twisted Toby has by-passed Non-Techie Terry's password (a simple procedure in Lion that requires no special knowledge or s/w thanks to the fact that the Install disk in Lion is now included on the hard drive as a Recovery partition), accesses the hidden and locked SQLLite Versions database, prints off Terry's first incriminating draft and puts it in his bosses' mailboxes...once again, see you in the Job Centre, Terry.

To repeat earlier posts, I'm not saying these features have no value, I'm saying they are a nightmare if they are not configurable and manageable by the user. The concept of keeping all versions of a file in a hidden and locked SQLlite database is a disaster waiting to happen. The idea of having a computer re-boot and resume all previous windows on the screen with no option of preventing that is likewise a security nightmare.

If you happen to be in a "Non-Techie Terry"-like situation, your only recourse is to make sure that you enable Filevault 2 on your computer. That's the only way you can stop someone bypassing your passwords. Of course, if the boss is standing over you when you bang in the password, you're still going to get that incriminating document slap bang in the middle of your screen, unless you know a hack or two and have Admin access to your machine., but then you're not Non-Techie Terry are you....!


Tech Writer

On 8 Feb 2012, at 23:43, Gene Kim-Eng wrote:

> A minor nit about this statement is that most database systems are really not "saving your work as you go." What is actually happening is that you are changing the database in real time as you work. Many don't even cache keystrokes and thus have no undo capability. So rather than protecting stupid workers they are really the exact opposite: minefields where free range stupid users can wreak irreversible havoc.
> Gene Kim-Eng
> > NOW it's even worse: Apple software (and Google docs, along with most
> > database systems) now saves your work as you go.

Phil Stokes
àààààààà 10330

Tech Writer:

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Is there a term for this?: From: John J. McDermott, CPLP
Re: Is there a term for this?: From: Gene Kim-Eng
Re: Is there a term for this?: From: Tony Chung
Stupid users (was Re: Is there a term for this?): From: Phil Snow Leopard
Re: Stupid users (was Re: Is there a term for this?): From: Gene Kim-Eng

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