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Re: [noise, personal reply] CBC address.

A post from Alice, that might be worth reading twice ...

On Sun, 5 Nov 1995 [email protected] wrote:

> On Sat, 4 Nov 1995 [email protected] wrote:
> > Does anyone on this list know if the CBC has a web site on the Net?
> <www.cbc.ca>  They have a lot of shows in .au (so I hear) or accessible by 
> realaudio. Don't know if they have any mpigs [sic] though. There's an alt 
> newsgroup too.

Uhhm, thanks ... I guess ... but I wasn't _really_ looking for the 
CBC web site.

I was actually looking for someone to HOST a website which might 
showcase one particular program from the CBC, a program broadcast
in Canada which highlighted how AECL (Atomic Energy of Canada, Limited)
fails to practice safe computing and then when confronted, implements
a calculated program of strategic misrepresentation.  (i.e.  they lie.)

I thought that someone who strongly felt that error-free protocols and
error-free methods were important -- especially in mission critical
applications like medicine, commerce, or nuclear power plants -- might
possibly contact the CBC, and either voluntarily donate some bandwidth
and a host site, or conversely build a site devoted to showcasing the
human tragedy that can follow in the wake of shoddily designed

I mean, good grief, we have Atomic Energy of Canada taking a cavalier
attitude towards computer code.  Not only is AECL involved in nuclear
medicine, in building wonderful radiological tools to help cancer
patients (theoretically) live, but they BUILD nuclear reactors worldwide.  

The CBC broadcast documented how this international firm REACTS to
reports of computer software errors.  It documents how the firm reacts
to reports of people dying because of sloppily written computer code.

The program is NOT (unfortunately) on the www.cbc.ca website, but
should be placed on the net and made available.  I'm not sure how, 
that was misunderstood.

But your next statement helped make it clear.

> You oughta use Sameer's (or someone else's) replyable remailer when asking 
> questions Alice.

I wasn't really asking for an answer, my Ottawa friend.  I really wasn't
looking for _another_ email in my mailbox to answer and address in my
copious spare time.  I was looking for some assistance. 

No direct reply was necessary.  

Someone could simply announce that they were volunteering to quarterback
bringing a host website online, and dealing with all the issues that are
involved with that (including liasing with the CBC.)

I'm not *quite* sure how you misread what I was hoping to achieve.

If however, you were looking to convince me to post to from a remailer
that allows replies ... one that might let you send me known plain text
back through it ... something traceable back to me ... then I *might*
really understand, and I might beg off for a bit. 

Bit premature, and such ...

I think I'll pass on _that_ offer, especially since I really wasn't
looking for a personal private reply to what I wrote. 

Maybe, if I requote myself, it will be a little clearer all around.

(That's, strike two, btw ... to my Ottawa friend.)

Here's what I wrote:

> I know that it is rude to follow up one of your own posts, and I
> apologize in advance for this horrible faux-pas, but hopefully, it's
> excused this one time.  I wrote:
> >One example of this that should serve as a useful case study is a recent 
> >problem which was brought to the Canadian public's attention just this 
> >week, on a program called the Fifth Estate.  The CBC (Canadian 
> >Broadcasting Corporation) detailed a software code problem in one of 
> >AECL's (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's) instruments which deliver 
> >penetrating radiation.  
> >
> >The software which controlled the radiation dose, would periodically 
> >override the oncologist's calibration and deliver a radiation dose 100 
> >times what was prescribed.  This software "bug" literally killed wherever 
> >the machine was in use.
> Does anyone on this list know if the CBC has a web site on the Net?
> I'm hoping that someone (hint, hint) who has a convenient website, one
> with lots of spare bandwidth could volunteer to contact the CBC and
> persuade them to copyright clear the Fifth Estate program clip which
> documented some of the risks of software bugs in mission critical
> applications, and allow it to be placed on the Net.  I'm hoping that this
> English language piece reaches a wide international audience. 
> The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is a Crown Corporation which has
> historically received its primary funding from the Government of Canada. 
> Recently, it has suffered under the budgetary ax, and the push for
> privatization.  I'm pretty confident that the Corporation would copyright
> clear the clip for MPEG distribution across the Net, if they were
> approached with the concept that the clip was a demonstration of the CBC's
> journalistic excellence and integrity, a piece which is demonstrative of
> the critical need to continue their funding.  A concrete demonstration of
> the need for the CBC.  And a piece which could well receive deserved
> international acclaim. 
> The site would help them, and would simultaneously be a site of
> international public service. 
> Nothing will drive home the need for quality software, quality code, and
> quality security more than the vivid graphic pictures of the consequences
> of sloppy code, or of the risks if certain critical systems, LANs, or
> private networks are compromised, or if security and privacy (which are
> flip sides of the same coin) are ignored. 
> The sight of a body, that has had a hole burned straight through it from
> the front through to the spine is truly chilling and drives the message
> home.  Nothing seems to speak as clearly as a picture ... as to what the
> stakes are ... of what "bugs" in code do ... and of what a network
> compromise can leave in its wake. 
> A picture of consequences.
> Six people died in Canada and the United States due to the software flaw. 
> Even after numerous reports of the flaws, the company refused to even
> acknowledge the existence of a problem, and in fact did everything within
> its power to make sure doctors, radiologists and physicists were unaware. 
> The attitude of trivialization can only be characterized as fantastic, and
> would be unbelievable to anyone who has not viewed the piece. 
> It's one hell of a backgrounder which not only details problems, but looks
> at solutions -- it examines attitudes, especially management attitudes.  It
> truly deserves an expanded audience.  From teachers, to students, to the
> international media, to the concerned private individual, all will be
> served well if this piece gets wide attention. 
> Takers, anyone??

Now, how on earth, (after rereading what I wrote) did my words get
misunderstood??  And how on earth did someone figure that they needed to
establish a bi-directional communications channel with me?? 

I mean it's not like I'm atacking AT&T or Netscape, I'm simply trying to
coordinate a basic public service, and blow the whistle on bad code.

Blow the whistle on software which people expect (rightfully) to be
reliable ...  software which people expect (rightfully) not to cause any
human harm. 

Alice de 'nonymous ...

                                  ...just another one of those...

P.S.  This post is in the public domain.
                  C.  S.  U.  M.  O.  C.  L.  U.  N.  E.