Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Lindsay Tanner… check before you put anything on Facebook!

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-03-17

Dear Lindsay

Mate, don’t put a link in your facebook page until you know the page you link to won’t leave you red-faced.

I appreciate your note (here) that points to a page Maxine McKew has put up ( to improve consultation regarding Early Childhood development.  Love what you are trying to do on the consultation thingy.

Personally, linking to a bandwidth-sucking page of videos is not what I would do.

So, I tried to read the transcripts… Oops! and another Oops!

First off, the transcripts are RTF and PDF… not exactly great for the vision impaired (which is why the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commissioner is doing a WebWatch name-and-shame of those who do not provide good old HTML).

But when I tried to pull the documents from those links, there was a pretty major stuffup… apparently they are stored on an internal test network, because the host where the documents live doesn’t end in, in fact, it doesn’t end in au, net, com, org, or any other two-or-three character part of a hostname.

How the hell do you expect the following names to resolve?

You don’t have to be Cerf or Berners-Lee to know that a domain ending in "" will never be found by anyone on the internet!

My guess is that the pages we can see were hard-coded for use in a test environment as a proof of concept, rushed into production without a proper simulation… and you rushed to advertise the link before asking "does this page work?"

It’s not like you’ve got stupid people working for you at AGIMO (the Australian Government Information Management Office) because we both know they are a pretty switched on bunch, and even nit-picking me can’t find a bad thing to say about those folk.

It’s not like you aren’t aware of how poorly most agencies manage information and the way systems are built and maintained, because you commissioned the Gershon Report which highlighted just how few agencies actually understand what needs to be managed and how to manage them, because very few of the agencies had even heard about COBIT, and you must have been aware of what was in that report, because you promised to implement every single recommendation (and good on you for doing that!).

I love what you are doing with more efficient supply chains, I love what you are doing pushing more consultation channels the public can use, I love the way you commissioned and accepted the Gershon report…

So please, take a few handy tips:

  • Get your staffers to have another look at my posts on the Gershon Report (I liked it, but think it missed something).
  • For goodness sake, get someone to put their arse on the line before moving a new public-facing system into production, guaranteeing that it has been properly tested.
  • But please, because I think you and Faulkner are the two Ministers doing the best work (it ain’t "sexy", but it is critical and you are both pushing in the right direction), how about you ask your staffers (Hi, Mike!) to give such links a poke and a prod, so you don’t do this again.

If I didn’t have my daughter and grandson down here, I’d offer to move to Canberra and help you out for a bit.  I’m working close to Swanston and Queensberry, just around the corner from your office… so I don’t mind being called in by your staffers again for a quick chat.  If you want me for something longer than a quick chat, my boss will probably hire me out by the hour or the day.

I’d love to know the title of the person who signed off on the system, the person who told you it was fine.  If you yell at them with language so strong that the paint dissolves off the wall, I couldn’t really blame you.

Please, don’t do this again, or we’ll have to wonder if you’ve caught some virus (possibly PHBV) that destroys common-sense on any technical matters, probably by sitting too close to Senator Conroy.

Notes/See Also:


4 Responses to “Lindsay Tanner… check before you put anything on Facebook!”

  1. zombinol said

    Yes, agreed, correct, I couldn’t argue and how shrewd to point out how a link can go horribly wrong….

    Whats the (possibly PHBV) link all about – Error 404 – Not Found


  2. Dave Bath said

    Zombinol… on PHBV… Me go oops to… forgot the http colon slash slash…. (love to say it was an intentional “pun”, but it wasn’t).

    The PHBV expands to PHB-Virus, and then to Pointy-Haired-Boss-Virus. (The link is to the explanation of PHB at the jargon file)

    PHB /P·H·B/
    [Usenet; common; rarely spoken] Abbreviation, “Pointy-Haired Boss”. From the Dilbert character, the archetypal halfwitted middle-management type. See also pointy-haired.

    pointy-haired adj.
    [after the character in the Dilbert comic strip] Describes the extreme form of the property that separates suits and marketroids from hackers. Compare brain-dead; demented; see PHB. Always applied to people, never to ideas. The plural form is often used as a noun. “The pointy-haireds ordered me to use Windows NT, but I set up a Linux server with Samba instead.”

  3. Dave Bath said

    BTW: On Facebook Lindsay Tanner said “thanks” about the alert… with the nice save (it’s true) that using these things allows instant feedback and fixes…

    BUT… The fix to the transcript links was to replace it with a single link…. to….

    Same problem!

    The people doing this are probably Microsoft-Certified (it’s asp and served up by MS-IIS 6.0) so the attention to quality doesn’t surprise me.

    (Meanwhile, serves up with Sun-ONE/6.1 ASP server which is more-than-likely sitting on top of Apache. Why didn’t Defence Signals Directorate, the security experts, use MS-IIS? Duuuuuurrrrrr!)

  4. Dave Bath said

    Actually, if all of replaced IIS with apache (which Oracle, IBM, etc use) without or without SunOne according to this recipe, they might get decent developers rather than drongoes who think that “point and click” training removes the need for understanding and caution.

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