Page 3 of 13

Anti-updaters are the IT equivalent of anti-vaxxers

Unless you have been on Point Nemo for the weekend, you are probably aware of the biggest ransomware outbreak in history: WannaCry. Like any other ransomware, WannaCry could have been avoided by adopting two simple best practices:

  1. Keep your operating systems up-to-date
  2. Take backups regularly

IT professionals have always recommended these best practices. However, there is an increasing number of people who justify disabling automatic updates. I call these people anti-updaters.

Anti-updaters are particularly active among Windows users. They usually claim that Windows Update’s interruptions are impairing their productivity.

We’ve got an update for you

While I understand that Windows Update can be annoying, its interruptions do not justify turning it off. For instance, Microsoft released the critical MS-17-010 patch that addresses the vulnerabilities exploited by WannaCry two months ago. This means that the PCs infected by the ransomware were at least two months behind with patches. Automatic updates would have prevented many of these infections.

I tried to argue with an anti-updater. I suggested that her tutorial for turning automatic updates off on Windows 10 fosters an irresponsible behaviour. The following is an extract from the conversation:

Anti-updaters such as @geeklil at @CNET are no different from anti-vaxxers—they should be banned from the IT industry. #WannaCry https://t.co/1eNmfwNX0i

— Alessandro Rossini (@alerossini) 13 May 2017

@alerossini @CNET LOL. You guys, um, know that you can update software manually, right?

— Sarah (@geeklil) 13 May 2017

@geeklil @CNET IT professionals do, but most people either don’t know or don’t care.

— Alessandro Rossini (@alerossini) 13 May 2017

@geeklil @CNET Disabling automatic updates is among the primary causes of the spread of ransomware. That’s why your article is dangerous.

— Alessandro Rossini (@alerossini) 13 May 2017

@alerossini @CNET This is a how-to piece. I don’t know what to tell you aside from “don’t read how-to articles as advice.”

— Sarah (@geeklil) 13 May 2017

@geeklil @CNET That’s a flawed argument. Your article does foster irresponsible behaviour among the non-techies.

— Alessandro Rossini (@alerossini) 13 May 2017

@alerossini @CNET Nope. CNET is for both techies and non-techies.

— Sarah (@geeklil) 14 May 2017

@geeklil @CNET The fact that CNET is also for techies does not respond to the argument that your article fosters irresponsible behaviour among non-techies.

— Alessandro Rossini (@alerossini) 14 May 2017

@geeklil @CNET That’s a logical fallacy of avoiding the issue: when an arguer responds to an argument by not addressing the points of the argument.

— Alessandro Rossini (@alerossini) 14 May 2017

@alerossini @CNET Every article written isn’t for every person. I’m not really sure what you want me to do about that.

— Sarah (@geeklil) 14 May 2017

@alerossini @CNET Now, if it were a piece *advising* people to turn off auto-updates, you’d have a point. But it’s not.

— Sarah (@geeklil) 14 May 2017

To me, this way of arguing is problematic, as it spreads misinformation about automatic updates. Like scientists are fighting against anti-vaxxers, I believe it is time for IT professionals to fight against anti-updaters.

We may not have seen the full extent of the WannaCry attack, as the ransomware may spread again when people go back to work on Monday morning and turn their PCs on. Perhaps individuals and organisations will learn the lesson this time. Nevertheless, I hope you will join me in this campaign to stop people from disabling automatic updates, regardless if they are techies or not.

Introducing Adaptive CV

Now that I have got a new position, I will not be jealous if someone uses the same CV template as mine 🙂 Therefore, I decided to publish my CV template as open source. I call it Adaptive CV.

Alessandro Rossini's CV

Adaptive CV allows compiling different variants of a CV (e.g., a résumé and an extended CV) from a single LaTeX source. It is particularly suitable for academic CVs but flexible enough to be used with any CVs.

You can create your Adaptive CV on Overleaf or fork me on GitHub.

Please let me know if you have comments or questions, and good luck if you are seeking a job!

My selection of restaurants in Oslo

I love food and wine, and I enjoy trying new restaurants, often picking them on the Restaurant Guide from Aftenposten the Michelin Guide. In ten years in Oslo, several people have asked for my selection of restaurants in town, so here it is (last updated October 2023).

My favourite restaurants:

Last but not least, my favourite coffee bar:

  • Tim Wendelboe: Internationally recognised coffee roastery and espresso bar—probably the best coffee in Norway

As you may have noticed, I have not included many Italian restaurants in my selection. This is because the best Italian restaurant in Oslo is my place, of course 🙂

Cheers!

A step forward in my career

Dear friends and colleagues,

I am excited to announce that I have accepted a position as Senior Advisor at EVRY Cloud Services in Oslo. EVRY is the largest IT company in Norway and among the largest in the Nordics with almost 10 000 employees. Cloud Services is a new business area of EVRY that offers advisory and consulting services to assist customers with designing the cloud solutions that best fit their requirements. I will start on the 1st of March, and I am looking forward to it!

EVRY at Fornebu

I would like to thank SINTEF for four rewarding years with the organisation; I will try to be a good ambassador for SINTEF in the future.

With optimistic wishes,
Alessandro

Dear Norwegian, our thing is over

Dear Norwegian,

I am a frequent traveller, and I have been one of your loyal customers for about ten years. I have always experienced excellent service from you, and I have always recommended you to all my friends and family. I used to be one of your greatest fans. At least this was the case until I came to the gate of flight DY1550 from Oslo to Budapest on 25 September:

Ground personnel one: “Sir, you have two pieces of hand luggage, so we need to check them.”

My luggage consisted of a Rimowa Salsa Ultralight Cabin Multiwheel (dimensions 55 x 40 x 20 cm) and a Dicota Notebook Backpack Light (dimensions 47 x 33 x 20 cm). The size of the luggage was fine, but the Rimowa weighed 7.4 Kg and the Dicota 5.4 Kg, for a grand total of 12.8 Kg.

My infamous hand luggage
My infamous hand luggage

Ground personnel one: “I am sorry, but your luggage weighs 12.8 Kg and the maximum allowed is 10 Kg. We have to check your luggage, and you have to pay 400 NOK.”

Me: “Madam, I am on a business trip. Once I arrive at Budapest airport, I will only have one hour and 20 minutes to get to Budapest Keleti train station, buy a train ticket to Bratislava at the international ticket office1, and board the train. I have two pieces of checked luggage included in the ticket, but in order to minimise the risk of missing the train, I have decided to take hand luggage only. If I miss the train, I will be in serious trouble. Is an excess weight of 2.8 Kg that much of a problem?”

My ticket including two pieces of checked luggage
My ticket including two pieces of checked luggage

Ground personnel one: “Sir, too many passengers have broken the rules and brought excessive weight on board lately. We have to ensure that passengers obey the rules.”

Me: “Well, as we speak, other passengers are bringing hand luggage that looks much bigger and heavier than mine…”

Another ground personnel—who had probably started the day off on the wrong foot—jumped into the conversation:

Ground personnel two: “Don’t you understand that it doesn’t help to quarrel!? Don’t you understand that it doesn’t help to point at other passengers!? You have been caught with excessive weight. We will check your luggage and you will pay 400 NOK. Period.”

He used the term “caught,” seriously… Like I was committing a misdemeanour.

At this point, I avoided answering to be polite. I gave them the Rimowa and paid the 400 NOK fine fee. Yes, according to the rules, I was wrong and they were right. Yet, since my ticket included two pieces of checked luggage, they should have avoided treating me like I was trying to abuse the system. Besides, given my risk of missing the train to Bratislava, they could have shown some consideration. Eventually, I lost 20 minutes to collect my Rimowa at Budapest airport. Fortunately, I managed to catch the train at the last minute, but I arrived at my destination with a lot of unnecessary frustration and stress.

I have never experienced anything like this in my ten years as a frequent traveller. Not even Ryanair has fallen so low. One thing is certain: from now on I will give priority to SAS and other airlines over yours.

I have some friendly advice: stop this excessive strictness right now. Your hard-line policy seems to aim at exploiting customers rather than offering them a better service, which may give you the reputation of being cheap—as in “of little worth because achieved in a discreditable way”—rather than just low-cost. Getting rid of this reputation is extremely difficult, especially among business passengers, and you do not want to be placed into the same basket as Ryanair.

All my very best,
Alessandro Rossini, Ph.D.

Footnotes

  1. Slovakian railways do not sell international tickets online nor on machines.