Thursday, July 31, 2008

Techie snickers over Terry Childs coverage

"While the full story behind San Francisco city government computer engineer Terry Childs hasn't yet come out, one thing is certain: the mainstream media is ignorant about technology," writes blogger Sharon Fisher on, a site for software developers. She says she's not condoning Childs' alleged actions, "but some of the newspaper coverage of his actions has bordered on the ridiculous."
    For example, reportedly he kept the configuration information in short-term memory that might not be saved in the event of a power outage, because he wanted to keep other employees from gaining access to it. This is certainly not on the list of best practices for network administrators. However, in the hands of the local newspaper, this became evidence for a booby trap: "the ultimate revenge on his bosses, prosecutors say -- the meltdown of the city's computer network at the flick of a switch," the San Francisco Chronicle reported breathlessly.

    Similarly, one of the other things Childs was criticized for was that he "had created an ability to track anyone who tried to get into the system." Eek! I would hope any network administrator worth his salt would do the same.
She offers more examples from the Chroncle's coverage, but the implication from Fisher's article is clear enough: Reporters need to learn more about technology or else it will be easily manipulated.

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