What is something about your profession that people don't understand?

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Martin Blank
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What is something about your profession that people don't understand?

Post by Martin Blank » Tue Aug 04, 2020 3:48 pm

I find that many people have some pretty severe misconceptions about my job as a legal hacker. Yes, I get to break into things, but there are rules and it's not magic.

One of the biggest misconceptions out there that actually impacts my ability to do my work is when we ask for backup credentials in case we can't get access. The most common response from clients is, "Well, you're hackers, so you don't need credentials." If we don't need credentials to access the inside of your network, you have bigger problems than you think. If you've implemented even a modicum of security, we're not marching straight into your database, and at some point, we might need credentials to access key functionality, since access is required to test it. In addition, if functionality is only shown to specific users, we may never know that it's there because while we're going to try the /admin URL, we're probably not going to try /vm22628-panel-admin if we don't see it.

Most other things we can explain around, but that one causes us a really irritating amount of trouble.

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Re: What is something about your profession that people don't understand?

Post by raptor9k » Tue Aug 04, 2020 5:26 pm

I minored in infosec 20 years ago because it was more interesting than math. It's not my job, but I find it fascinating. It never hurts to stay informed, so I follow quite a few folks in infosec twitter (plus...corn facts!). It amazes me how many people don't understand that gaining access to the system is usually the easiest part. Red team has their work cut out for them when they aren't allowed to phish the technological moron in the corner office, but you still need to see what you can get up to once you've gained access.

A few I see as a software engineer:

Complexity of change vs complexity of request. This thing I want only takes me one sentence to explain, so, it's not a lot of work right? Oh, it only requires entirely re-architecting that entire section of the application...

Scope Creep. I know we said it needs to do x and you've been working on this for weeks, but what it really needs to do is y and we didn't tell you that because we tried to do your job for you. You'll be able to meet the original deadline right?

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Re: What is something about your profession that people don't understand?

Post by auntmousie » Tue Aug 04, 2020 5:57 pm

I'm a lawyer. I work appeals for Social Security Disability claims. My work typically starts after a person has been denied at a hearing - and depending on the issues, may continue up through litigation in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The popular conception of lawyers is strongly affected by televised legal drama, be it Perry Mason (old or new) or Law & Order. Based on that, my clients often think that what really wins their case is a brilliant argument that persuades the judge that I'm right and the other guy is wrong. What they often fail to recognize is that facts matter... and frankly, facts matter more.

For one thing, Social Security is technically not an adversarial process - it's inquisitorial, which mostly means there is no lawyer representing the other side. There's just a claimant and the (administrative law) judge... which means there's no "other guy" to be wrong. It's just the judge, who does a few hundred cases a year, and who is paid to weed out people who are overstating their limitations or outright lying. They make their living being skeptical, and some of them are pretty rotten bastards as a result.

Now, when I step in at the federal court level, it is technically adversarial; there is a lawyer representing Social Security. I know most of them and we're on good speaking terms. But the downside is, the federal judge is obliged to defer to the administrative law judge's opinion as long as it's reasonably supported by substantial evidence.

In practice, that means - if nine people out of ten would read the record one way, but the tenth person would definitely read it the other way, and the judge goes with person #10, that's reasonable. The court won't second-guess it. So, I have to have good facts.

Sometimes a situation breaks new ground, and we have to apply the law to a situation that wasn't anticipated by its language. In that narrow circumstance, a good argument wins the day.

But 99% of the time, it comes down to having good facts.
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Re: What is something about your profession that people don't understand?

Post by Martin Blank » Tue Aug 04, 2020 6:25 pm

I started following LegalEagle on YouTube and he harps on the realities of civil cases vs. movie depictions all the time, how the surprises that are so common on the screen are so rare as to be basically non-existent. It's just who can persuade the judge based on the facts that both sides agreed to long before the trial date, and that most trials don't happen because everyone can see where the facts point, and the expense of a trial is pointless.
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Re: What is something about your profession that people don't understand?

Post by BtEO » Tue Aug 04, 2020 7:01 pm

I only follow the one lawyer on Twitter, and he mostly just tweets about how much of a shit show Brexit is going to be; not so much these days as the inevitable slide to no deal isn't actually that interesting from a legal perspective.

I work in retail. So mine is more about what people choose not to understand so that they can be entitled arseholes without feeling any guilt.

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Re: What is something about your profession that people don't understand?

Post by gravity » Wed Aug 05, 2020 3:54 am

People underestimate how important a good plot line is in romance books. You can't just have two characters meet and have highly descriptive sex scenes every now and then. It doesn't work that way. You actually have to have reasons for the sex scenes.

And yes, throwing in sex scenes into a book that has been written actually works fairly well if the relationship was already there and it makes sense. Throwing a plot into some sex scenes for pacing breaks usually doesn't work as well. Sex gets boring after a while, and no one really wants to read 50k words of sex. They get tired of it, and feel like the characters should to.

None of this applies to human/dinosaur erotica, of course.
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Re: What is something about your profession that people don't understand?

Post by Rorschach » Wed Aug 05, 2020 9:31 am

Sex gets boring after a while
—-
I have a system that avoids that.

Here’s something I didn’t understand until I took the thirty silver pieces and went from teacher to manager of teachers:

the five minutes I apologetically took up of my boss’s lunchtime to ‘ask a quick question‘ isn’t so much of a problem as the fact that eleven other people were doing the same thing.

Subject-specifically, the question I get asked most is ‘How do you teach people who don’t speak English in English?
And the answer is, of course, you don’t. Or at least not with anything much more than the English you want them exposed to for that lesson. And so some of our corridors are awash with starter teachers drilling “Hello. I am happy. Are you happy? We are happy.” It sounds soul-crushing and it is. But it’s also kind of comforting. There’s not a lot of ambiguity there. Nuance comes in as you go up the levels and that makes teaching both much more difficult and much more interesting.

The other thing people don’t understand is: it’s not enough to speak a language. You have to be able to think of fun and effective ways to get students to use that particular piece of English. Something interesting, relevant, and meaningful.

Or you can just fuck it and work through the student book, pressing play whenever there’s a listening exercise. Some people do that too.
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Re: What is something about your profession that people don't understand?

Post by gravity » Wed Aug 05, 2020 2:13 pm

You gotta get the kiddos dancing. When I taught kindergarten they loved the hell out of the stand up, sit down song. But yeah, starting with the basics can be difficult, and it's even harder if the hour they have with you of English a day is the only English they get exposed to, so no matter what their parents think will happen, there is no way they'll be fluent little talkers after four years.
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Re: What is something about your profession that people don't understand?

Post by FirebirdNC » Wed Aug 05, 2020 2:58 pm

Working as a vet tech people think you get to play with fluffy kittens and puppies all day. In reality we are dealing with some very nervous bitey animals who will mess up your day given half a chance. Plus there is a lot of poop and buttholes involved in testing and treating your animal. If your animal is growling at me before I even touch it you better believe it is getting a "party hat" (muzzle). Also the majority of animals don't like their nails trimmed and I currently have too many scratches to count. I have already had someone ask me if I was a cutter after seeing my arms. Taking your pet to the beach to "wear them out" before their appointment just means they are going to be wet, sandy and amped up. The hardest part for me has been the euthanizing both from the very grieving individuals to the "they are too much work I want them put down" and yes that has already happened a few times. Restraining a 150lb dog that doesn't want you to is a workout! Not all sunshine and rainbows for sure.
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Re: What is something about your profession that people don't understand?

Post by auntmousie » Wed Aug 05, 2020 4:41 pm

FirebirdNC wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 2:58 pm
The hardest part for me has been the euthanizing both from the very grieving individuals to the "they are too much work I want them put down" and yes that has already happened a few times.
I wish that surprised me, but I can't say it does.

I live in a mult-cat household. Specifically, I haven't had less than 10 cats at any time over the last 15+ years. I'm currently at 12, having just taken in a mama and her eight-week-old kitten.

About seven or eight years ago I discovered a service in my area that does home euthanasia. So when it's time - and I mean, when the cats tell ME it's time, not the other way around - they get to go to sleep at home, surrounded by familiar sights and smells, in the loving arms of their very own human.

I can understand that not everyone has that option... but I can't understand why anyone would want anything less for a member of the family. The "people" you're describing would land me in a lawsuit.
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Re: What is something about your profession that people don't understand?

Post by FirebirdNC » Wed Aug 05, 2020 5:37 pm

Yeah the vet and I were very upset with a recent customer who basically said if we wouldn't put down a healthy dog he was going to take it home and shoot it. I had a good cry afterwards not gonna lie. I have certainly lost some of my faith in humanity with some of the clients, but have also met some really wonderful people who are willing to do whatever they can to make their fur babies happy.
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Re: What is something about your profession that people don't understand?

Post by Seir » Wed Aug 05, 2020 11:29 pm

When I was an EMT:

1) No, our lights and sirens doesn't mean we're exempt from traffic laws, actually, we're more liable for accidents when driving lights and sirens. Additionally, unlike what sitcoms will have you believe, we can't use those lights and sirens willy-nilly to get past traffic jams or red lights in a non-emergency situation. We can actually get in deep shit for that.

2) No, we don't know the cost of this trip, that's the billing department's domain.

3) Generally, we'd rather not tell you about the worst thing we've seen . There's a reason why they're our worst and we'd rather not remember.
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Re: What is something about your profession that people don't understand?

Post by Norphus » Thu Aug 06, 2020 11:03 am

Speaking as a computer sysadmin and someone who has worked in technical support

1) I do not want to fix your personal computer
2) If you somehow do manage to wangle me into doing that, a beer or two isn't compensation enough for taking up $HOURS of my time
3) Just because something has a plug on it or is somehow related to a computer network, it doesn't make me an instant expert in it. See: Fax machines, telephone systems, CCTV
4) No, I still don't want to fix your personal computer
5) I'm a network engineer, not an expert in $INSERT_SOFTWARE_HERE. I don't know how pivot tables in Excel work, I barely understand Mail Merge, I'm not a programmer
6) Seriously, if you ask me to fix your computer again, I'm going to break your legs.

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Re: What is something about your profession that people don't understand?

Post by raptor9k » Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:06 pm

Many if not most programmers don't know how the software they write works or what it does, unless they wrote the entire thing from scratch by themselves. There's a VERY good chance they have a rudimentary grasp of or don't actually understand the business side of things at all. The business knowledge accumulates over time but the more people you have on a team the less knowledge each individual developer will have about specific sections of the code base without personal effort to tear down the silos.

It's still a little baffling we're as effective as we are on unknown systems. A year or so ago I changed jobs and jettisoned nearly 15 years of domain knowledge to work in a completely different industry. After a few weeks training in a massive software package I was making changes to critical sections of the code :D

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Re: What is something about your profession that people don't understand?

Post by gravity » Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:27 pm

Norphus wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 11:03 am

6) Seriously, if you ask me to fix your computer again, I'm going to break your legs.
Don't break their legs. If you break their legs they can't walk away and leave you alone.
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