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posted by martyb on Monday February 08 2021, @08:40AM   Printer-friendly
from the fixed-in-a-flash? dept.

When Adobe Stopped Flash Content From Running It Also Stopped A Chinese Railroad:

Adobe's Flash, the web browser plug-in that powered so very many crappy games, confusing interfaces, and animated icons of the early web like Homestar Runner is now finally gone, after a long, slow, protracted death. For most of us, this just means that some goofy webgame you searched for out of misplaced nostalgia will no longer run. For a select few in China, though, the death of Flash meant being late to work, because the city of Dalian in northern China was running their railroad system on it.Yes, a railroad, run on Flash, the same thing used to run "free online casinos" and knockoff Breakout games in mortgage re-fi ads.

[...] So, when Adobe finally killed Flash-based content from running, this Tuesday Dalian's railroad network found itself ground to a halt for 20 hours.

The railroad's technicians did get everything back up and running, but the way they did this is fascinating, too. They didn't switch the rail management system to some other, more modern codebase or software installation; instead, they installed a pirated version of Flash that was still operational. The knockoff version seems to be known as "Ghost Version."

This, along with installing an older version of the Flash player to work with the knockoff Flash server setup, "solved" the problem, and the railroad was back up and running.

(Emphasis preserved from original.)

Has anything like this ever happened where you work or worked?

Also at: Ars Technica; official's account (in Chinese).

Related/Previously:
Flash is Back in South Africa.


Original Submission

Related Stories

Flash is Back in South Africa 26 comments

South African Government Releases Its Own Browser Just To Re-Enable Flash Support | Zdnet:

For some people, it's apparently easier to manage your own browser than port some web forms from Flash to HTML.

The South African Revenue Service [(SARS)] has released this week its own custom web browser for the sole purpose of re-enabling Adobe Flash Player support, rather than port its existing website from using Flash to HTML-based web forms.

Flash Player reached its official end of life (EOL) on Dec. 31, 2020, when Adobe officially stopped supporting the software.

To prevent the app from continuing to be used in the real-world to the detriment of users and their security, Adobe also began blocking Flash content from playing inside the app starting January 12, with the help of a time-bomb mechanism.

As Adobe hoped, this last step worked as intended and prevented companies from continuing using the software, forcing many to update systems and remove the app.

As SARS tweeted on January 12, the agency was impacted by the time-bomb mechanism, and starting that day, the agency was unable to receive any tax filings via its web portal, where the upload forms were designed as Flash widgets.

Ethical AI art generation? Adobe Firefly may be the answer. 13 comments

https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2023/03/ethical-ai-art-generation-adobe-firefly-may-be-the-answer/

On Tuesday, Adobe unveiled Firefly, its new AI image synthesis generator. Unlike other AI art models such as Stable Diffusion and DALL-E, Adobe says its Firefly engine, which can generate new images from text descriptions, has been trained solely on legal and ethical sources, making its output clear for use by commercial artists. It will be integrated directly into Creative Cloud, but for now, it is only available as a beta.

Since the mainstream debut of image synthesis models last year, the field has been fraught with issues around ethics and copyright. For example, the AI art generator called Stable Diffusion gained its ability to generate images from text descriptions after researchers trained an AI model to analyze hundreds of millions of images scraped from the Internet. Many (probably most) of those images were copyrighted and obtained without the consent of their rights holders, which led to lawsuits and protests from artists.

Related:
Paper: Stable Diffusion "Memorizes" Some Images, Sparking Privacy Concerns
90% of Online Content Could be 'Generated by AI by 2025,' Expert Says
Getty Images Targets AI Firm For 'Copying' Photos
Adobe Stock Begins Selling AI-Generated Artwork
A Startup Wants to Democratize the Tech Behind DALL-E 2, Consequences be Damned
Adobe Creative Cloud Experience Makes It Easier to Run Malware
Adobe Goes After 27-Year Old 'Pirated' Copy of Acrobat Reader 1.0 for MS-DOS
Adobe Critical Code-Execution Flaws Plague Windows Users
When Adobe Stopped Flash Content from Running it Also Stopped a Chinese Railroad
Adobe Has Finally and Formally Killed Flash
Adobe Lightroom iOS Update Permanently Deleted Users' Photos


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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by sjames on Monday February 08 2021, @08:56AM (1 child)

    by sjames (2882) on Monday February 08 2021, @08:56AM (#1110199) Journal

    A pirate version of software called "Ghost Version" to run a railroad? None for me, thanks, I'm driving!

    of course, using flash to run a railroad in the first place....

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 09 2021, @04:44AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 09 2021, @04:44AM (#1110554)

      Haha, the jokes on you, they use flash for their traffic lights too! So much for your driving.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Runaway1956 on Monday February 08 2021, @09:10AM (1 child)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 08 2021, @09:10AM (#1110202) Journal

    Another of these outlier cases that made headlines over the past week was the case of the local train station in the Chinese city of Dalian. Initial reports claimed that the rail station had to stop all rail traffic after its internal systems, built around Flash, stopped working.

    This turned out to be false, and later reports from Chinese media clarified that railway traffic never stopped in Dalian because of the Flash EOL. However, the reports also admitted that there's some truth in the original report and that, indeed, some internal traffic statistics system had stopped working at the rail station on Jan. 12, when Adobe blocked Flash content from working.

    That system was eventually upgraded to a Flash Player version that Adobe offers inside China only, which does not contain the January 12 time-bomb mechanism, allowing the system to continue working beyond the Flash EOL.

    https://www.zdnet.com/article/south-african-government-releases-its-own-browser-just-to-re-enable-flash-support/ [zdnet.com]

    An internet search turns up dozens of sources that ran the above story. However, the ZDNet story seems to debunk all of them.

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 08 2021, @02:46PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 08 2021, @02:46PM (#1110250)

      This turned out to be false, and later reports from Chinese media, with their balls in the hand of the big chinese brother, clarified...

  • (Score: 1, Troll) by fakefuck39 on Monday February 08 2021, @09:10AM (2 children)

    by fakefuck39 (6620) on Monday February 08 2021, @09:10AM (#1110203)

    That area of China is not quite the same as saying "China."

    We get offended when America is portrayed by the EU with goofy cartoons of an uneducated fat redneck on a scooter who thinks a 1/3lb burger is less than a 1/4 pounder, who lives in a trailer park with his mullet, and speaks a redneck version of English incomprehensible to a normal person. Indian people get offended when you say "Indians shit on the street and wipe their ass with their hand instead of toilet paper." They do - a minority of them living in uber-rural villages without running water or any toilets or sewer system.

    So the area of China this happened in - it's the one where people don't know basic arithmetic and shit on the street, while burning wood in the winter because it's too rural to have heat. In fact, as someone who doesn't speak Mandarin, I can immediately tell by the their redneck accent where they're from, despite not knowing the language. That's where this railroad is from. It's actually a surprise there is any computer system running it at all, so it running in Flash is actually very modern for the area.

    Now, here's an interesting tidbit, since my wife can read that Chinese propaganda blog linked in this post. They're making this political, and blaming the USA for shutting down their railroad. And they're not saying "Adobe disabled Flash because it's no longer supported." They're saying something akin to "USA now prohibits the use of Flash and is enforcing this on the world."

    Then they go on how their amazing skilled staff and teamwork defeated this evil problem and how glorious their success was, and how highly praised they were by the authorities.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 08 2021, @09:17AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 08 2021, @09:17AM (#1110206)

      That's where this railroad is from

      Lemme guess, the railroad doesn't speak mandarin to your ear.

      They're saying something akin to "USA now prohibits the use of Flash and is enforcing this on the world."

      But of course uneducated fat rednecks on scooters who think a 1/3lb burger is less than a 1/4 pounder, who live in trailer parks with their mullet, and speak a redneck version of English incomprehensible to a normal person would do that.

      Then they go on how their amazing skilled staff and teamwork defeated this evil problem and how glorious their success was, and how highly praised they were by the authorities.

      Heck, a lot better than rewriting it in Golang.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by PiMuNu on Monday February 08 2021, @03:49PM

      by PiMuNu (3823) on Monday February 08 2021, @03:49PM (#1110264)

      > And they're not saying "Adobe disabled Flash because it's no longer supported." They're saying something akin to "USA now prohibits the use of Flash and is enforcing this on the world."

      Only as bad as all of the conspiracy nutjobs talking about Corona virus (e.g. POTUS).

      Hum, I wonder if mentioning the orange one should now qualify for Godwinning.

  • (Score: 2) by legont on Monday February 08 2021, @01:02PM (1 child)

    by legont (4179) on Monday February 08 2021, @01:02PM (#1110223)

    Has anything like this ever happened where you work or worked?

    A good friend of mine works for a large international insurance and they did exactly this. Well, they prepared in adwance and probably "fixed" the flash themselves as opposed to a pirated version, but in the end it's exactly the same setup for now.

    --
    "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 10 2021, @06:55PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 10 2021, @06:55PM (#1111217)

      Of course it happens.
      Once people get a tool working well enough, they want to keep it going or for more people.
      I've heard of

      • bank loan calculations for certain banks being based on a cascade of linked spreadsheets.
      • Access databases used by several departments
      • Running manufacturing control software in a PDP-11 emulator on a DOS PC

      To be fair, the EOL thing is a new thing. The B-52 is a 50 year old design. I have hand tools made in 1901 that work better than many modern ones.

      And I have battery operated tools that stop working & can't be repaired after 5 years of use. I have a thermal camera that is 5 years old and can't be used because the software updated & won't support the "old" one

  • (Score: 2) by shortscreen on Monday February 08 2021, @01:29PM

    by shortscreen (2252) on Monday February 08 2021, @01:29PM (#1110229) Journal

    TFS is so busy trying to celebrate software developers breaking stuff and mock the railroad operators that they don't explain the real issue. Did they have Flash configured to automatically update, thereby falling victim to the kill switch?

    I don't normally use the Flash plugin, but just out of curiosity I did a quick search for an SWF file (hey, the old Heaven7 demo came with one!) and then opened it in Opera 12. Yep, still works. Must be I didn't receive the kill switch update. So sad.

  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday February 08 2021, @01:46PM

    by VLM (445) on Monday February 08 2021, @01:46PM (#1110238)

    The story seems propaganda, made up.

    The headline makes it sound like they ran their track SCADA system on flash.

    The article details seem to imply instead of using Excel or google spreadsheet like most businesses, they did their scheduling and planning management phase stuff in a bespoke flash app.

    It seems that a couple google spreadsheets later, the railroad would be right up and running again.... If they wanted... which they don't, as a propaganda issue.

    Ironically, Club Penguin used flash and was discontinued; if someone was dumb enough to use club penguin as a corporate intra office chat network, its not really abode's fault, or club penguin's fault, when they shut down and every sane company out there is using IRC or slack or discord or some group chat supplier.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 08 2021, @08:44PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 08 2021, @08:44PM (#1110363)

    I think they forget that at one point Adobe was promoting a full stack platform called BlazeDS. UI that runs in Flash was called Flex iirc. It was cut from the same mold as Micros~1 XAML and QT/GTK's XML UIs. That was a couple years before HTML5 was ready, back around the same time as Silverlight.

    I get that Flash is a shit platform, and I say that as somebody who developed with BlazeDS and Flex, but I think that Adobe is trying very hard to make us forget that they did try to make it a serious platform and now they've fucked over enterprise users.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 09 2021, @09:07AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 09 2021, @09:07AM (#1110612)
      I remember Microsoft promoting Silverlight too... I saw it as a "dead man walking" but I wonder how many suckers went in big on it.
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