Saturday, 23 October 2010

Forty-eight hours on ...

It is now well over forty-eight hours since the Scottish Parliament's e-petition website crashed. It is still not operational. We should now be told by the Parliament's officials exactly what the problem is and just when it is likely to be rectified.

A report on the saga of the e-petitions website in Scottish lawyers' magazine The Firm can be read here.


  1. Let's face it - with the dedication to the serving of justice that we see in the top of your society, it would maybe be more surprising if was running. :-)

    Ah, that was a bit strong, perhaps, but I just revisited the McKie-case.

    - - -

    So I am of course not saying the petition was deliberately sabotaged from inside. Most likely not.

    But as 15-years web professional I know just how simple a script (="program") that petition is based on. The programmer's work for writing the code is only some hours. I'd long have been out of business if fixing such matters would have taken more than another few hours.

    Of course it is not always so. There may be something profound to deal with.

    But then, if things are real hard to fix it takes nothing more than 15 minutes to install a "Sorry we are down..." page, with a bit of explanation, and an estimate of when the site could return to normal operation.

    Even if the server is totally crashed and gone, you simply alter DNS settings to temporarily point to a new server.

    But those managing the - site, did for some reason not do this.

    So I'd say, that something is truly a bit unusual, problems with the motivation, or somewhere else.


    The e-petition website was probably sabotaged deliberately for keep up the Scottish "Lockerbie-Fraud".
    Looks for a Indian computer programmer, he solves the problem in 5 minutes...

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd.

  3. sfm: Having been an admin myself for a few years, I would surmise this is neither network, server nor disk related - i.e. not a hardware related issue. Reason: replacing hardware and restoring software and data from backups is straightforward and very unlikely to snag.
    More likely something has 'become' corrupted in the applications or data level for unknown, but not necessarily malicious, reasons - so why not a quick restore from backups to fix it? Maybe 'best practice' administration was not being applied.
    The fact that some of this web site is up but this particular bit is down, is intriguing.... if I were to hazard a guess at what failure could bring a partial web site down for two days I would guess corrupted 'keys'. Since from experience, if you goose (unintentionally) the symmetric keys which keep your SQL database private you can get in a pure fankle trying to sort it. 'Glad it's not me, if this is what happened!
    BTW - [Warning: CT START] Key corruption is also the most efficient way to kill a server which has secure data - since it keeps it down for a 'while' and the method has plausible denialbility built in, for free. [CT END]

  4. 'Even if the server is totally crashed and gone, you simply alter DNS settings to temporarily point to a new server.'

    Why hasn't this been done? Basically it reeks.

  5. I agree with Ruth: something reeks in the state of Scotland!

    It is only Newsnet Scotland, The Firm magazine and Prof. Black's blog that have reported on the crash of the Scottish Parliament's website.

    Why are the mainstream media not interested in what looks increasingly like a cyber attack on the democratic process?

    And how many MSPs are concerned enough to ask questions and debate the issue in Parliament?

  6. Basically because they are not interested in democracy but only a sham. They want to preserve their own individual positions of power and in doing so support a corrupt system that works hand in hand with the UK Establishment/secret government that connived with them to send an innocent man to prison and then a secret deal for his release.

  7. Re: Scottish Government Web Site
    "Email the IT services team if you have any technical problems or comments about our website at:"

    I did, since I wanted to talk to the horse, but still awaiting a reply.

  8. I received e-mail notification of a comment by Jonathan, but it does not now appear. Here is what he wrote:

    The conspiracy theory voiced in the comments above, that this is some kind of malicious attempt to stop further signatures on this petiition, does not appear to coincide with common sense.
    1. The entire e-petitions site is down, not just this one petition.
    2. However, the cached version of the e-petitions website is available at This states (as the site has for some years I believe) that "You can now support e-petitions by texting its unique ID number and your name to 07537 400395". The unique number of this particular petition is 417.
    3. Accordingly, anyone who wishes to add a signature to the petition (cached full text of which is at can do so for the price of a text.
    4. Doesn't it seem just an itsy-bitsy implausible that some Machievellian in the Scottish Parliament would take the entire e-petitions site off line just to stop signatures to this one petition for a few days, when it doesn't even stop them? Ruth's comment, for example, assumes that Kenny MacAskill of all people is an agent of what she calls the UK secret government. Er, opposing political party I think.

    Bitter experience over many years of IT and working with IT departments suggests to me that there is nothing particularly strange in a site being down for three days and this requires no cyber attack (a theory, incidentally, inconsistent with the theory that this is the fault of the evil Parliament).

  9. It's so strange that in a democracy people have to fight tooth and nail to obtain justice.

    The UK has been under the threat of terrorist attacks for years and yet for all the money spent in prevention no full inquiry has been made into Lockerbie, UK 's worst terrorist attack, so lessons can be learnt. All the evidence points to the fact that Megrahi had no part in the bombing and yet our government, which makes so much of terrorism, is content to leave the murderers at large. Worse, Megrahi's appeal was delayed and delayed and finally when the delay became all too obvious a deal was made for Megrahi' release in order to scupper an appeal in which no doubt it would have been revealed that Scottish judges' decision was perverse and that that they were subservient to the Establishment.

    Our government, too, is content to cover up the death of Dr Kelly. when all the factual evidence points to murder. So we have another potential murderer on the loose.

  10. [Most of the CT comments are tongue-in-cheek, surely?]
    I am sure the head of IT for the Scottish Parliament is not particularly happy with a 3-day outage - this isn't the 1980s, after all. I would think he was promised 99.999% uptime on his 'platinum maintenance contract' - which is easily delivered btw by the big web hosting players. (Money for old rope actually, nowadays)
    Also, the cached site is a slow read-only snapshot - not a mirror site which would sync back to the primary host when signatures were added etc. (albeit Jonathan not suggesting this - point is, people easily put off by obstacles and then their attention wanders...)
    It's all second rate crap, and makes our government look like amateurs, whatever the reason for the fault.

  11. I doubt it's a conspiracy. For one thing I'd never underestimate the powerful's ability to just ignore their challengers.

  12. First, I hope Mr. Jonathan is not trying to argue that the downtime is not 100% destructive to the petition?

    I have the following comments:

    1. Right. So motivation to do something should be high?

    2. The cache you mention is not working for me, but anyone can find google's own cache by putting

    in the search field, and, when Google show search results, click the little "cache" just right of the text excerpt.

    3. Texting into a petition that is off line, by looking up a cache to find the details?? Let me guess just how many will have been thinking about doing this. LOL!

    4. As time goes by nothing would surprise me, but as already stated, I really don't think this is the case.

    What I do say is, that the motivation for lowering the impact seems limited.

    Any experienced webmaster have had downtime for client's sites.

    But 3 days without even a notification brought on the URL being down?

    Well, at least I'd not recommend the IT-managers in your gov. leaving their job to compete in the private sector. ;-)