Thursday, December 11, 2008

Once again into the breach...

Saw the idiotic "hackers can shut the power grid down" nonsense elsewhere to justify putting the National Guard in charge of "cyber-security" (as if a M-16 can stop a computer virus!). GAH!

Okay, first of all, the power grid predates the Internet by, like, a whole fucking century, and secondly, most of the important power lines in the power grid are nowhere near any kind of Internet access. And thirdly, our power grid is so fucking backward here in the United States that half the time when someone needs to switch power from one trunk line to another, someone has to actually go into the field with a goddamned pole and bang some big-ass blade switch (up on the tower) manually to do the dirty deed.

My brother works in the industrial controls field and reports that his customers use dedicated cell phones and dedicated phone lines (with modems) to communicate back to the central office for those things that are computerized. Because nobody is gonna run a goddamned DSL line to a goddamned power substation when a fucking POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) line with a modem will work just as well for what they need to do. You know those movies where you got white-lab-coated scientists in front of gleaming consoles controlling the power grid while sitting in front of video monitors showing video of major power substations? Those are fucking movies, dudes. Reality is a lot less interesting.

Reality is that the main threat to our power grid is thunderstorms, closely followed by squirrels, not hackers. Well, that and the whole ramshackle run-down state of the whole goddamned power grid, which has gotten only sporadic updates over the past forty years and has a tendency to collapse if you fucking yell "Boo!" in the direction of a power substation...

-- Badtux the Rude Penguin


  1. JHC! It's time to bring back Clark...

  2. Well maybe the National Guard *could* be of use for the security of our electrical grid, now that I think about it. They could stand around under the transformers and shoot the goddamned squirrels before the squirrels manage to short them out and blow them up.

    - Badtux the Snarky Penguin

  3. If they would like to see the switching on a 32KV line they could stop by my Mother's any time there's a major electrical storm in the area. because they have to reset it on the pole on the side of her house almost every event.

    They have actually modernized some of the switches - by installing a lockable handle on the bottom of the pole with the rod running up so they don't need to use a regular utility truck that can carry the old "guisarme" long enough to reach the switch loop on the top.

    You can initiate the process on the Internet ... by e-mailing Gulf Power and waiting until they send somebody out.


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