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Happy Holidays – and big thanks to everyone who’s working today!

Yes. there's a message in the Christmas tree.

Lots of us have the day off today, but there are plenty of people who don’t, including a veritable army of IT techies, helpdesk staff, sysadmins…

…and if you’ve ever been on IT duty over the Christmas period, you’ll know what a tricky time it can be.

If all goes well, and some years it does, you end up having a quiet and peaceful time of it, and you say to yourself, “That wasn’t so bad. I might just put myself forward for next year, too.”

But you can only relax with hindsight, meaning that you can’t really relax at all while you’re on duty.

If something goes wrong, you have to spot it, investigate, make a plan, and fix it – sometimes all on your own.

If you fix it, you’re merely doing your job, so you won’t get any special thanks just because it’s Christmas – remember, most people are off work so they probably won’t even notice.

But if you don’t manage to fix it, well, that’s a different story!

Most people are off work, don’t forget, so they’re relying on you more than ever, and they probably will notice, and once they’ve noticed, they’ll feel very strongly about the matter, and they’ll be sure to tell you.

So, if you’re on duty right now, we know you’re supposed to keep focused.

You’re not supposed to distract yourself with not-strictly-relevant-to-work pastimes such as playing online games, watching cat videos or wrapping unsuspecting colleague’s desks in silver foil as a New Year’s joke.

But you can use your “waiting for bad things to happen” time for work-related personal development.

So, we’ve picked our favourite Serious Security and Anatomy of… technical articles of recent years, in the hope you’ll enjoy perusing them…

…or at least find them useful to keep pre-opened in “emergency browser tabs” that can hurriedly be brought to the foreground used as important reference texts if needed.


Serious Security: What 2000 years of cryptography can teach us


Serious Security: GPS week rollover and the other sort of “zero day”


Anatomy of a pseudorandom number generator – visualising Cryptocat’s buggy PRNG


Paul, if you are going to mention people working christmas, you might spare a thought for the front
Line workers, hospital staff, emerg medical and paramedices, firemen and police who on this day put their lives on the line and saved more that the hard drive.
30 out of 37 yrs i have not been home on
Christmas often till the next day.


You’re right.

Technically I did include everyone, implicitly at least, but wanted to focus here on sysadmins and IT staff, but I probably should have given a specific shout to emergency workers (and not just for their work at Christmas but for their work all day, every day) in an article of this sort.

So to everyone in the emergency services anywhere in the world (and especially to those fighting bushfires in Oz), for care workers, for anyone who’s spending their Christmas looking after people who can’t look after themselves, to anyone who’s out there sticking up for the little guy…

…thanks. You’re heros, the lot of you.


Couldn’t you have given your blogging a rest for Dec 25/26? Not an essential service is it.


Well, your comment was posted over the weekend – a time when you could have given the ol’ internet a bit of a rest.

Yet you did not… and here we are.


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