On the importance of having a good backup strategy.

October 19th, 2017

I’m shocked that Borepatch and ASM826 aren’t on this like flies on a severed cow’s head at a Damien Hirst exhibition. But apparently it falls to me, as the ex-backup guy.

A non-profit organization in NYC called Bronx Defenders wants to study the NYPD’s asset forfeiture records. They filed a request for this information (under New York’s Freedom of Information law) in 2014, and litigation is ongoing.

The latest revelation? Not only is the NYPD saying they don’t have the technical capability to pull the data Bronx Defenders wants…

New York City is one power surge away from losing all of the data police have on millions of dollars in unclaimed forfeitures, a city attorney admitted to a flabbergasted judge on Tuesday.

More from Ars Technica:

…an attorney for the city told a Manhattan judge on October 17 that part of the reason the NYPD can’t comply with such requests is that the department’s evidence database has no backup. If the database servers that power NYPD’s Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS)—designed and installed by Capgemini under a $25.5 million contract between 2009 and 2012—were to fail, all data on stored evidence would simply cease to exist.

When it was activated in 2012, Capgemini vaunted PETS—which was built using SAP’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) software platform as well as IBM DB2 databases—as a flagship public sector project. The company went as far as submitting PETS as a nominee for the 2012 Computerworld Honors awards. But the system was apparently designed without any scheme for backing up the database or any sort of data warehouse to perform analytics on the data.

Adding to this, the NYPD now actually disputes that the PETS database runs on DB2:

Neil tells me our whole argument is that the NYPD’s database is not an IBM database so he definitely didn’t say that NYPD personnel said “the database is in IBM.” He says he was referring the Petitioner’s expert, not any NYPD personnel. The “He” would be Robert Pesner, the Petitioner’s expert, not NYPD personnel.

Okay. So it doesn’t run on DB2. What the frack does it run on, and why are there still no backups?

(It looks to me like both Backup Exec and Commvault have DB2 agents. But I’ve been out of the business for a while, and can’t tell if those have been deprecated.)

Edited to add: Now the NYPD is saying that PETS is backed up:

Contrary to some published reports suggesting that NYPD does not electronically back up the data in its Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS), all such data is backed up continuously in multiple data centers.

Which, I guess, is good for the NYPD. But as Ars points out, it isn’t consistent with the statement in court that there are no backups of the forfeiture database, unless that database isn’t stored in PETS after all. That seems like the more likely explanation, but it raises the questions: where is it stored, why isn’t it backed up, and why is the NYPD so secretive about those first two questions?

Promoted.

October 19th, 2017

By way of great and good friend of the blog Joe D, in the comments: a record store owner in Michigan decided to pull a prank on his customers and make them think he only had one album in stock.

And what album was that?

You’ll have to click through to find out, though I will give a hint: it was one that is thematically appropriate for this blog.

One of the most interesting aspects of the display is that Taylor went out of his way to make sure customers understood that the copies are not for sale. Taylor says that he has about 75 copies of the album, and sheepishly admitted that he is “stockpiling the Herb.”

Firings watch.

October 19th, 2017

Tom Jurich, athletic director at Louisville, was officially fired yesterday.

He joins Rick Pitino, who was officially fired “for cause” on Monday.

Mr. Pitino, of course, denies that he knew anything about payments to athletes. Even better: he’s suing Adidas. The discovery process in that lawsuit should be interesting.

In other news, another APD officer has been fired. Interestingly, his firing was for “insubordination”: specifically, he didn’t show up for interviews with Internal Affairs.

And why was he being interviewed by IA? He’s been charged with making false statements about his wife and her eligibility to receive SSI. (Previouly.)

According to the Statesman, he and his lawyer said they wouldn’t do interviews with IA until the criminal case was resolved. The rules say: you can’t do that. You have to come in and answer IA questions, or you get canned. Whatever information IA gets can’t be used against you in a criminal case; it can only be used for internal discipline. (This is why officers are required to submit to IA questioning. This is also why some things, like officer-involved shootings, are investigated both by IA and the Special Investigations Unit: SIU handles any possible criminal aspect of the case, can seek charges if warranted, and the subject has the standard legal protections. IA investigates internally: the union contract says officers have to answer IA questions, but any information gathered can’t be used to build a criminal case.)

Anyway, IA said “this won’t be used in the criminal case”, the lawyer apparently said, “okay”, and they still didn’t show up. Twice. Which makes it “you’re fired, do not pass ‘Go’, do not collect $200” territory.

TMQ Watch: October 17, 2017.

October 18th, 2017

Every once in a while, instead of being all snarky and stuff, we like to ask you to go out and read something else on the Internet that we think is interesting or important or both.

“the depression thing” by Zach Holman.

Therapy basically got me rubber duck debugging myself. Even when I’m not programming I’m fucking programming, I can’t get away from it, ha. But it’s true: the mere notion that I’d have to discuss my life with someone else later meant that I became far better at self-analysis than I ever had been.
That was one of the many neat realizations I had during this whole experience. Therapy tricks you into becoming better at therapy.

After the jump, this week’s TMQ…

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Your loser update: week 6, 2017.

October 15th, 2017

NFL teams that still have a chance to go 0-16:

Cleveland
San Francisco

What the heck, Denver? You had one job.

At least I don’t have to feel that bad for Infidel de Manhatta: it doesn’t look like the Giants will get that first draft pick, but maybe they’ll end up getting a relatively high one.

I still like Cleveland’s chances.

From the legal beat.

October 12th, 2017

Two quick notes:

1) Remember our old friends Detective Jeff Payne and Lt. James Tracy? The guys who arrested a nurse for refusing to let them draw blood from an unconscious patient without a warrant?

Detective Payne has been fired. Lt. Tracy has been demoted to “police officer III”.

“In examining your conduct,” Brown wrote to Payne, “I am deeply troubled by your lack of sound professional judgment and your discourteous, disrespectful, and unwarranted behavior, which unnecessarily escalated a situation that could and should have been resolved in a manner far different from the course of action you chose to pursue.”
Brown was similarly critical of Tracy, saying his lack of judgment and leadership was “unacceptable,” and, “as a result, I no longer believe that you can retain a leadership position in the Department.”

Both men have five days to appeal the decision. The criminal investigation into their actions is ongoing.

(Hattip: Reason‘s “Hit and Run”, and Patrick Nonwhite on the Twitters.)

2) The Travis County DA has dropped one of the 13 felony charges against Dawnna Dukes.

Apparently, one of the analysts with the Texas DPS crime lab “examined the wrong date” when looking at Ms. Dukes’s travel activity, leading to “a felony count that erroneously stated Dukes turned in a falsified voucher for Dec. 22, 2013.”

It is unclear how prosecutors, DPS investigators and Texas Rangers failed to notice these holes in the case during an investigation that spanned more than 18 months.

The touch.

October 12th, 2017

Once again, I’m asking you to help somebody out.

Great and good friend of the blog, and founder of Operation Blazing Sword, Erin Palette, was pretty seriously injured Tuesday night. Erin is recovering at home, but has expenses and will probably have more.

There’s a GoFundMe here.

You guys know the drill: tomorrow’s payday, and I plan to donate as soon as the direct deposit shows up. I won’t ask you to give to a cause I won’t give to.

Quote of the day.

October 12th, 2017

I’ve been thinking a lot about Chesterton recently, and this quote in particular:

“The dog could almost have told you the story, if he could talk,” said the priest. “All I complain of is that because he couldn’t talk, you made up his story for him, and made him talk with the tongues of men and angels. It’s part of something I’ve noticed more and more in the modern world, appearing in all sorts of newspaper rumors and conversational catch-words; something that’s arbitrary without being authoritative. People readily swallow the untested claims of this, that, or the other. It’s drowning all your old rationalism and scepticism, it’s coming in like a sea; and the name of it is superstition.” He stood up abruptly, his face heavy with a sort of frown, and went on talking almost as if he were alone. “It’s the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense, and can’t see things as they are. Anything that anybody talks about, and says there’s a good deal in it, extends itself indefinitely like a vista in a nightmare. And a dog is an omen and a cat is a mystery and a pig is a mascot and a beetle is a scarab, calling up all the menagerie of polytheism from Egypt and old India; Dog Anubis and great green-eyed Pasht and all the holy howling Bulls of Bashan; reeling back to the bestial gods of the beginning, escaping into elephants and snakes and crocodiles; and all because you are frightened of four words: `He was made Man.'”

–“The Oracle of the Dog”

Firings watch.

October 11th, 2017

John Farrell out as GM of the Boston Red Sox.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, sitting at a dais without ownership, provided no explanation for the dismissal of the five-year skipper who won a World Series in 2013 and just finished in first place in back-to-back seasons.

Gary Andersen “mutually parted ways” (read: you can’t fire me, I quit) with Oregon State on Monday. Anderson and Oregon State:

…agreed to release each other from the remaining contractual obligations. Andersen was under contract through the 2021 season.

Which is noteworthy, because:

Andersen signed a contract extension in December and had more than $12.4 million remaining on the deal. Oregon State owed him $883,332 for the rest of this season, $2.75 million for 2018, $2.85 million for 2019, $2.95 million for 2020 and $3.05 million for 2021.

TMQ Watch: October 10, 2017.

October 11th, 2017

Yes, we’re late. We got tied up on Tuesday.

But, in our defense, TMQ isn’t timely this week either.

Last weekend I attended a ceremonial event, and paid no attention to sports. But how can you miss me when I won’t go away? Please note that I wrote today’s column in advance, not knowing what happened last weekend in sports or current events.

After the jump, 2,000 words, no pictures (except the header), and one subject in this week’s TMQ

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Norts spews.

October 9th, 2017

Two quick ones, because I have a doctor’s appointment shortly and probably won’t feel like blogging afterwards:

1) Well covered, but at least one person sent this to me, and it does involve blow (maybe):

Chris Foerster has resigned his position from the Miami Dolphins hours after a video surfaced showing the team’s offensive line coach snorting a white powdery substance off what is believed to be his desk at the team’s training facility.

He apparently resigned in lieu of a firing, so I’m putting this into the “firings” checkbox.

Related: “Just who is this model whose snorting video brought down a married Dolphins coach?”

Obit watch: the great Y. A. Tittle.

Tittle threw for dozens of touchdowns and thousands of yards, won a Most Valuable Player award and was selected to seven Pro Bowls. But he endeared himself to New York not as a golden boy but as a muddied, grass-stained scrapper.
He was a balding field general with a fringe of gray who, at 34, in his old-fashioned high-topped shoes, had undeniably lost a step or two, but kept picking himself up off the ground to find a way to beat you, and New York cheered.

And he was a good Texas boy, too. ESPN.

Obit watch: October 9, 2017.

October 9th, 2017

Two obits from the past few days that I find sadder than usual:

Connie Hawkins. As a young man, he was a basketball prodigy.

Even as a playground legend, Hawkins had the jaw-dropping flash that superstars like Elgin Baylor, Julius Erving and Michael Jordan would display, turning pro basketball into a national sports spectacular.
“He was Julius before Julius, he was Elgin before Elgin, he was Michael before Michael,” the longtime college and pro coach Larry Brown once said in an ESPN documentary on Hawkins. “He was simply the greatest individual player I have ever seen.”

But he was banned from college ball and the NBA in 1961.

College basketball at the time was engulfed in its second point-shaving scandal after players had received money from gamblers to affect the final score of games. Hawkins was questioned by the New York City authorities about possible connections with one of the fixers, but he was never accused of wrongdoing.

He played with the ABA and the Globetrotters for a while.

Hawkins’s path to the N.B.A. was buoyed in part by a 1969 article in Life magazine by David Wolf. “Evidence recently uncovered,” Mr. Wolf wrote, “indicates that Connie Hawkins never knowingly associated with gamblers, that he never introduced a player to a fixer, and that the only damaging statements about his involvement were made by Hawkins himself — as a terrified, semiliterate teenager who thought he’d go to jail unless he said what the D.A.’s detectives pressed him to say.”
On Hawkins’s behalf, Roslyn Litman, a civil liberties activist, along with her husband and law partner, S. David Litman, and another lawyer, Howard Specter, sued the N.B.A. on antitrust grounds, arguing that the league had in effect illegally barred Hawkins and deprived him of the “opportunity to earn a livelihood.”
They won. The league paid Hawkins a settlement of nearly $1.3 million and dropped the ban. Hawkins joined the N.B.A. in 1969 and became an instant star with the Suns.

He played seven seasons in the NBA, was a four-time all star with the Suns, and was named to the Hall of Fame in 1992.

John Thompson.

Mr. Thompson was arrested in 1985 and charged with carjacking and an unrelated murder.

After being sentenced to 49 years in prison for the carjacking that he insisted he did not commit, Mr. Thompson was convicted of murder and received the death penalty.

He spent 14 years on death row in Angola.

Just 30 days before his scheduled execution, a private investigator hired by his lawyers stumbled upon a forgotten microfiche.
The film included images of a laboratory report that had been received by the district attorney two days before Mr. Thompson’s trial was to begin. The report categorically undermined the prosecution’s case, revealing that the blood type of whoever committed the carjacking did not match Mr. Thompson’s.
Moreover, in a deathbed confession, a former assistant prosecutor admitted he had deliberately hidden the blood evidence from Mr. Thompson’s trial lawyers.
After tests confirmed that Mr. Thompson’s blood type and DNA did not match the perpetrator’s, his robbery conviction was overturned. In 2002, the murder verdict was reversed. A year later, he was retried and acquitted after the jury deliberated for 35 minutes.

Mr. Thompson was awarded $14 million for his wrongful conviction.

But in 2011, an ideologically split United States Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that Mr. Thompson was not entitled to damages after all.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who dissented, said at least five prosecutors had been complicit in violating Mr. Thompson’s constitutional rights because “they kept from him, year upon year, evidence vital to his defense.”
But Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, said Mr. Thompson had not demonstrated that the office of District Attorney Harry Connick Sr. (father of the singer) had systematically withheld exculpatory evidence, particularly from black defendants, or had not trained his assistants sufficiently.
“The role of a prosecutor,” Justice Thomas wrote, “is to see that justice is done. By their own admission, the prosecutors who tried Thompson’s armed robbery case failed to carry out this responsibility.
“But the only issue before us,” he added, “is whether Connick, as the policy maker for the district attorney’s office, was deliberately indifferent to the need to train the attorneys under his authority.”