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Links for 2019-09-23

  • AIB makes a mess of security upgrade, locking out thousands of customers

    Ireland’s largest bank, and they’ve really made a mess of this. Lots of false positives on the “rooted device” detection code it seems. It seems detecting “rooted” devices is a part of the PSD2 spec, and you have to wonder why…

    (tags: aib security fail rooting devices mobile paranoia)

  • A deconstruction of the BBC’s “windmills actually increase global warming” article about SF6 from last week

    ‘This is a neat example of how eminently resolvable challenges around the clean power transition are framed by deniers and ideologues as incurable curses, while actual scientists and engineers just get on with fixing them.’ As Aoife McLysaght notes: ‘This is a great, informative thread. Yes SF6 is has a warming effect, but it’s released v little, is a feature of all switches (not only wind turbines as implied), and alternatives are in the works. Wind turbines aren’t zero emissions but they are v low.’

    (tags: sf6 emissions wind electricity global-warming climate-change bbc bias science)

  • Crash Course | The New Republic

    Boeing’s MCAS disaster as a parable of late-stage capitalism:

    [Boeing] engineers devised a software fix called MCAS, which pushed the nose down in response to an obscure set of circumstances in conjunction with the “speed trim system,” which Boeing had devised in the 1980s to smooth takeoffs. Once the 737 MAX materialized as a real-life plane about four years later, however, test pilots discovered new realms in which the plane was more stall-prone than its predecessors. So Boeing modified MCAS to turn down the nose of the plane whenever an angle-of-attack (AOA) sensor detected a stall, regardless of the speed. That involved giving the system more power and removing a safeguard, but not, in any formal or genuine way, running its modifications by the FAA, which might have had reservations with two critical traits of the revamped system: Firstly, that there are two AOA sensors on a 737, but only one, fatefully, was programmed to trigger MCAS. The former Boeing engineer Ludtke and an anonymous whistle-blower interviewed by 60 Minutes Australia both have a simple explanation for this: Any program coded to take data from both sensors would have had to account for the possibility the sensors might disagree with each other and devise a contingency for reconciling the mixed signals. Whatever that contingency, it would have involved some kind of cockpit alert, which would in turn have required additional training—probably not level-D training, but no one wanted to risk that. So the system was programmed to turn the nose down at the feedback of a single (and somewhat flimsy) sensor. And, for still unknown and truly mysterious reasons, it was programmed to nosedive again five seconds later, and again five seconds after that, over and over ad literal nauseam.? And then, just for good measure, a Boeing technical pilot emailed the FAA and casually asked that the reference to the software be deleted from the pilot manual.? So no more than a handful of people in the world knew MCAS even existed before it became infamous. Here, a generation after Boeing’s initial lurch into financialization, was the entirely predictable outcome of the byzantine process by which investment capital becomes completely abstracted from basic protocols of production and oversight: a flight-correction system that was essentially jerry-built to crash a plane. “If you’re looking for an example of late stage capitalism or whatever you want to call it,” said longtime aerospace consultant Richard Aboulafia, “it’s a pretty good one.”?

    (tags: boeing business capitalism engineering management fail disasters automation cost-control stock-market fly-by-wire)

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