£750M project depends on lovenest.co.uk and other idiocies



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    <font size="3"><font face="Calibri">About 8 years ago, I started working for a large Energy
    company in the UK – InitrodeUK, let’s say. After a few months of working on
    this and that I was given a project of my own, in conjunction with a rather good
    Business Analyst, Ayesha. InitrodeUK were building their first Wind Farm (at
    the other end of the country) and needed some IT support. This was a £750M to
    £1B project.<o:p></o:p></font></font>

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    <font size="3"><font face="Calibri">The Wind Farm was in a field in the middle of nowhere; it
    had a Web Server on site running the SCADA (System Control and Data
    Acquisition) system, serving up instantaneous readings of all sorts via a
    fairly pretty set of Web Pages. Ayesha had managed to get this connected to the
    Internet via a Satellite broadband provider, and the users had a stand-alone PC
    with a modem which they used to look at it.<o:p></o:p></font></font>

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    <font size="3"><font face="Calibri">My job: get data out of it, average various readings for
    last 10 minutes and store the results in a database and email them to a 3rd
    party Forecasting company. Every 30 minutes the Forecasting company would email
    or FTP us their energy production forecast for the next 72 hours. This would be
    stored in the database, where later actual metered production would also be
    stored and various finance etc reports generated.<o:p></o:p></font></font>

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    <font face="Calibri"><font size="3">The company who actually built the Wind Farm and provided
    the SCADA system didn’t have any way to get the data out except via the web
    pages: OK, HTML scraping (ugh) coming up! Still how can I contact the web
    server? Ayesha and I go to the Network team and explain what we need: can they
    open a VPN for us? And how about FTP for the forecasts from the 3</font><font size="2">rd</font><font size="3">
    party?<o:p></o:p></font></font>

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    <font size="3"><font face="Calibri">After cleaning ourselves up and applying a few bandages we
    started thinking laterally.<o:p></o:p></font></font>

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    <font size="3"><font face="Calibri">We commandeered the stand-alone PC from the users and put it
    on my desk. I developed my scraper and it tested out OK. We set up a free email
    account with someone (Freeola?) – I set the name part to simon.smith and got
    Ayesha to select the domain from the available list: lovenest.co.uk - thanks,
    Ayesha!<o:p></o:p></font></font>

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    <font size="3"><font face="Calibri">Now for the other side: no FPT, but can I have a corporate
    email address assigned for the emails from the SCADA scraper and the Forecaster? Nope: there needs to be a real person behind it and
    there wouldn’t be, just a service account and policy yadda yadda yadda.<o:p></o:p></font></font>

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    <font size="3"><font face="Calibri">However: we had a server! It was dedicated to this job
    (£750M had some affect)! I had Admin
    Access! It was going to be promoted to production! I had it reading email from
    my account using a freebie MAPI library I’d found on the Internet. Oh well, we
    could just keep that going…<o:p></o:p></font></font>

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    <font size="3"><font face="Calibri">Nope. The MAPI library was rejected and forbidden for some
    reason I never understood. I ended up installing Outlook on the server.<o:p></o:p></font></font>

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    <font size="3"><font face="Calibri">Everything was ready on time and it went live successfully.<o:p></o:p></font></font>

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    <font size="3"><font face="Calibri">However, the stand alone PC was still on my desk and I
    couldn’t get anyone else to take it – not a server so not allowed in the data
    centre’s and so on. There was the Satellite router, with the PC on top of it and
    the screen on top of that, with the keyboard in front of the router, reaching
    just to the edge of the desk. Turns out that router power switch was just the
    right height to be pushed by the keyboard. And it turns out that if I got up in
    just the right way my chair would hit the keyboard. This generally only
    happened when I reached under the desk as I got up, such as when picking up my
    stuff because I was going home. There were a few weekends when no data was
    collected at all…but the Forecasts still came in and seemed alright to the
    users….<o:p></o:p></font></font>

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    <font size="3"><font face="Calibri">Then the Wind Farm had a power cut and SCADA system went
    down (not powered by the Wind Farm!). We had to fly someone up there to turn it
    on again. He arrived with a UPS from PC World and left it there. However, there
    was another problem: it turned out that there was another system supplying data
    via the Web server to another location in InitrodeUK: it went into a system
    located in one of our Power Stations, and that didn’t come back when it was turned
    on again. Eventually we worked out that the Power Station Firewall was blocking
    it because when it came up the Satellite ISP gave it a new IP address. Seems that power cuts were quite frequent and while the UPS brought the system up again, the ISP would change the IP; the techs at the Power Station had to look at
    their Firewall records to see who was being rejected and try to give them
    access to see if it was the SCADA system.<o:p></o:p></font></font>

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    <font size="3"><font face="Calibri">Eventually, the Satellite ISP went out of business. When we
    got Internet access again, I added a modem to my desk, and started a 15-month
    long phone call.<o:p></o:p></font></font>

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    <font size="3"><font face="Calibri">That was a while ago; we have a few more Wind Farms now and they
    are managed far more sensibly!<o:p></o:p></font></font>

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  • @ghytred said:

    no FPT, but can I have a corporate email address assigned for the emails from the SCADA scraper and the Forecaster? Nope: there needs to be a real person behind it and there wouldn’t be, just a service account and policy yadda yadda yadda.

    That is exactly why Google+ is left behind by many organizations (you need a "spokeperson" account not a company account). Those policies are made by people who should not make policies. Like Flickr that does not allow company accounts except to post photos of the latest company BBQ. Then they complain that Facebook is eating their lunch.

    Note: TRWTF is using Word (or Frontpage Express maybe?) to write your post then copy-pasting the superb output in the CS editor.



  • @Ronald said:

    Note: TRWTF is using Word (or Frontpage Express maybe?) to write your post then copy-pasting the superb output in the CS editor git bird death traps wind farms.

    FTFY



  • @ghytred said:

    The company who actually built the Wind Farm and provided
    the SCADA system didn’t have any way to get the data out except via the web
    pages: OK, HTML scraping (ugh) coming up!
    A SCADA system without a data historian/database would have been TRWTF 30 years ago. Having one without a data historian 8 years ago is just plain criminal - especially on a product that was expected to be installed in the middle of nowhere. But then again given that no UPS was initially spec'ed out tells me that the people who did the site engineering design were incompetent amateurs.



  • @ghytred said:

    a Web Server on site running the SCADA ... connected to the Internet

    What could possibly go wrong? because we all know how secure this kind of stuff is.



  • @ubersoldat said:

    @ghytred said:
    a Web Server on site running the SCADA ... connected to the Internet

    What could possibly go wrong? because we all know how secure this kind of stuff is.

    It's more secure when you don't have iranian engineers bringing usb sticks full of camel p0rn a viral vector in the data center.



  • TRWTF is not using Excel. You'd also get better resilience against power outages because of Auto-Recover.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @mott555 said:

    TRWTF is not using Excel. You'd also get better resilience against power outages because of Auto-Recover.
    But woe betide you if you want Undo to work across a Save…



  • @mott555 said:

    TRWTF is not using Wasabi. You'd also get better resilience against a change of the underlying operating system because of the cross-platform compiler.

    JOSTFY.



  • @Ronald said:

    @mott555 said:
    TRWTF is not using Wasabi. You'd also get better resilience against a change of the underlying operating system because of the cross-platform compiler.

    JOSTFY.

    This is the only image in the article. I will now assume you are talking about a spreadsheet program for Amish first-graders.



  • @Ben L. said:

    This is the only image in the article. I will now assume you are talking about a spreadsheet program for Amish first-graders.

    No, that would be Quattro Pro.

    Quattro Pro was pure magic. It could pull data from a database using the powerful QBE techology, which as everyone knows was the inspiration for ORMs and MVVM.



  • @Ronald said:

    That is exactly why Google+ is left behind by many organizations (you need a "spokeperson" account not a company account). Those policies are made by people who should not make policies. Like Flickr that does not allow company accounts except to post photos of the latest company BBQ. Then they complain that Facebook is eating their lunch.


    When did Facebook start allowing company accounts?



  • @pjt33 said:

    @Ronald said:

    That is exactly why Google+ is left behind by many organizations (you need a "spokeperson" account not a company account). Those policies are made by people who should not make policies. Like Flickr that does not allow company accounts except to post photos of the latest company BBQ. Then they complain that Facebook is eating their lunch.


    When did Facebook start allowing company accounts?

    I'm not a Facebook historian but given the number of companies that say "follow us on Facebook" or "Like us on Facebook and you get a free muffin" I would guess companies have been on Facebook for a while.



  • My point was that unless I missed a change, Facebook has the same policy as Google+: you need a spokesperson account, not a company account. (Of course, that doesn't mean that everyone obeys the policy). So that's not why Google+ is "left behind by many organizations".



  • @Ronald said:

    I'm not a Facebook historian but given the number of companies that say "follow us on Facebook" or "Like us on Facebook and you get a free muffin" I would guess companies have been on Facebook for a while.
    Those are company pages, not accounts.



    A real-person's account needs admin access to them.



    Souce: I'm an admin for a company's facebook page.


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