January 12th, 2007


Developers: Nobody Special

It was nice to be able to feel a little virtuous this morning when I read Tales from the Crypto, where Alun was complaining - justifiably - that too may software developers run with local Adminstrator privileges. Although we may be (OK, we are) sinners in other respects, none of the developers at work run as Administrator any more, and this trend is now being picked up by the rest of the organisation, rather than the other way round.

I gave up running as Admin a little over two years ago, and though it took a while to convince anyone to join me, the rest of the development department took the plunge about a year back. Now, with us as guinea pigs to show that it's possible, the IT department is planning to push it out to the rest of the organisation.

This order of doing things is at least in part due to the small family company of a decade ago gradually becoming a medium-sized business; so we're developing a more corporate approach, rather than having had it ingrained for years.

I'm glad that this is one aspect of security where we're doing better now. Many of us will have been used to being lowly users when using computers at university. It's not so hard to go back. It'll help to protect your computer whoever you may be, on whatever platform, and if you're a developer - especially if you're a developer - it will help you to write better-behaved software.
Black Hat

Cashed In

Since it's only a relatively minor news story outside Scotland, I thought it would be worth mentioning the downsizing announced yesterday at NCR's plant in Dundee. About 600 jobs are expected to go, as NCR transfer most of their manufacture of cash machines to countries where labour is cheaper.

Without commenting on the rights or wrongs of the fact or how it was handled, this is a significant blow to Dundee. NCR was the second largest industrial employer in the city (after Michelin), and have been there for 60 years. There are people who've worked there all their adult lives, and second generation workers.

Although you might not have been aware of it at the time, the chances are good that you've used an NCR product from Dundee - at one stage they were manufacturing a third of Europe's hole-in-the-wall bank machines.

I don't think I know anyone working for NCR at the moment, but I certainly have in the past, and as a significant technical employer locally there's always been a chance I might end up working there some day - now reduced.

It is slightly hopeful to see that the research part of the business will remain in Dundee, along with some of the more complicated manufacturing processes. I'm glad that's the case; this seems like the sort of job that we should be trying to keep if jobs are going overseas, but it doesn't help the unfortunates who will lose their jobs over the next few months.

I'm not directly affected by this news story, but it's close enough to home to be thinking "There but for the grace of God..."