1 (edited by librefan 2018-04-24 16:01:18)

Topic: April fools’ 2018

Have you read TF’s most stunning news ever? Spectre & Spell

Now I edited the text bit, not altering the meaning. Anyway I’m not a native speaker, so maybe someone can improve it or correct it.

Here goes:


If you read our news, it is likely that you have some kind of interest in information technologies and as such, it is equally likely that you heard about the infamous Intel vulnerabilities known as Spectre and Meltdown along with the tremendous cohort of processors they impact.

Needless to say, TuxFamily looked carefully into these particular issues. Like many other companies and organisations we wondered "what next?". After all, despite their well-deserved media coverage Spectre and Meltdown are but successors to row hammer and INTEL-SA-00086 and surely things cannot end here, right? So, the natural conclusion we came to is that we have recently entered some kind of dark period, the extent of which ought to be counted in years, characterised by a strong focus from all security-related I.T. professionals on hardware vulnerabilities. Basically, everything we discovered (vulnerabilities), learnt and improved (good design and coding practices, security audits, peer reviews, etc.) or strove to prevent in the last 20 years will have to be done again in the field of hardware. Another way to put it is, one way or another we are probably going to be betrayed by every existing piece of I.T. hardware in the coming years. It would be tempting to detail what would, and hopefully will, put an end to this era of misery but this is not the point of this piece of news.

The main point is, TuxFamily is moving out of x86 processors. For various reasons we cannot afford to wait until every piece of hardware is deemed a threat to our mutualised infrastructure. Instead, we have to move on, even if that implies designing our own machines. And guess what? This is exactly what we intend to do, thanks to our main sysadmin being a professional electronics engineer as well. After further investigations about what sounded like a crazy idea at first we eventually found the perfect brick to start building the perfect architecture TuxFamily ever dared to dream about. And this brick happens to be... the glorious TMS5100!

Surely we can’t expect all of our beloved hostees to react to that technical name. But we surely expect our plan to suddenly make a lot more sense after we rephrase it. We intend to rebuild TuxFamily's infrastructures based on Speak & Spell devices!

A good old Speak & Spell (Copyleft FozzTexx, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons).

Just think about it. Thanks to their simple design (no notion of rings, no fancy MMU, etc.), not a single hardware vulnerability has ever been registered for these chips. That's right, not a single human ever had to utter "ah, crap, we’ll have to handle the TMS5100 F00F bug ASAP". THAT is what we call "reliable foundations".

And this is where we need you! As of today, all of this remains a theoretical project. We are light-years, if not parsecs, away from our goal. To bootstrap this engineering endeavour, money is not what we need—we still have plenty since our organisation officially moved to the Cayman islands. What we need is a total of 3,261 Speak & Spell devices. Unfortunately we only have 1 for the moment, though in fact we’d have two if a member of the staff didn’t refuse to let go of his device, claiming it’s sacred and he’s still using it on a daily basis and we have no right to take it by force and we’ll have to write our damn news ourselves if we do. We have no doubt whatsoever that some of you still have such devices in their basement and are willing to help us achieve hardware independence. Therefore, please quickly mail us your Speak & Spell devices to the following address:

TuxFamily - Spectre & Spell project
1, Rue du Ciel Étoilé
F-75000 Paris

Serge, our favourite intern, will be in charge of receiving, checking, registering, labelling, storing and/or dispatching the precious devices. All languages (English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese) and variants (e.g. Speak & Read and Speak & Math) are accepted, and all donators will receive weekly updates reflecting our march towards a better future. Do not hesitate, donate now!

With your help, we’ll be able to replace our infrastructures in a matter of just a few years. Of course, hostees should expect a transition period marked by very slight losses of performance compared to the current infrastructure. But surely this almost painless transition will be long buried and forgotten by the time the I.T. hardware industry put their products back on track security-wise.

Edit: as many of you already guessed, that awsome piece of news was of course our traditional April Fools' prank. As severe as hardware vulnerabilities can be, we are too lazy to design and build our own hardware and therefore do not actually need your Speak & Spell devices. If by any chance you insist on sending us your Speak & Spell, please contact us to get our actual postal address. In fact the one mentioned above is based on Santa Claus' postal address, the French variant transposed in Paris to be precise, and none of you wants to mess with Santa's after-sales service, right?


I really enjoyed the punch line

none of you wants to mess with Santa's after-sales service, right?

“Customer service” is the usual phrase, but after-sales is perhaps funnier. What happens after sales, especially after Christmas sales, must be hell, what with sales bouncing back — customers sending back their presents in outrage, what?  Spectre and Meltdown??, Speak & Spell??, are you mad? —  and Santa Claus simply not coping.

Re: April fools’ 2018

Hi librefan!

Thanks a lot for your kind review of our Gallicism-infested writings -- I am going to study your various improvements (using that web thingie at https://text-compare.com/ as it looks way more efficient than diff-so-fancy) with the intent of integrating them into the official website.

Re: April fools’ 2018

Hello Xavier,

I wouldn’t say "Gallicism-infested".

Anyway my version is probably far from perfect. I’m not too sure about the commas in particular. I removed some of them but perhaps some more should be removed. Punctuation in English is very different from the French way.

Maybe you should give a shout to your English-speaking hostee, even if American English is quite different from British English.