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111 comments

Should've read the manuals. (5, Funny)

ZaMoose (24734) | about a year ago | (#42947755)

I mean, even my Linksys warns me to only update firmware when I've got an Ethernet cable plugged in to it, because you know how wireless upgrades go.

Re:Should've read the manuals. (4, Funny)

eksith (2776419) | about a year ago | (#42947777)

They don't make CAT6a cables that long :/

Re:Should've read the manuals. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42948579)

For that distance you'd need a LONGCAT6.

Re:Should've read the manuals. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42953401)

I see what you did there.

Doesn't matter... (2)

mschaffer (97223) | about a year ago | (#42948655)

It doesn't matter as it's further than 100 meters away.

Re:Doesn't matter... (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#42949453)

It doesn't matter as it's further than 100 meters away.

That limit is because of how long it takes for a minimum sized packet to traverse the network for collision detection. If you can guarantee there won't be collisions (a switch does this) then you're pretty much not limited by length anymore other than signal strength. All you need is a bunch of switches to boost the signal up and you're golden.

Back in ye olde days of hubs, they were half duplex because the transmitting NIC would send bits down the line and read the bits off the received end. If the bits didn't match, it was a collision and the detecting card jammed the link to tell everyone to back off. As the minimum packet was 64 bytes, the length limit came into play to allow the packet to reach the other end before transmitting stopped so if it sent the packet with no collisions, it was reasonably confident the packet made it intact. If it was too long, the NIC could send the packet out and another host could transmit, causing the packet to be corrupted, and the host wouldn't see that its packet got corrupted.

In this day and age of full duplex and switches everywhere, it's less of an issue.

Re:Should've read the manuals. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42953767)

Depends how thinly you slice the cat!

Oh wait, wrong joke...

Re:Should've read the manuals. (-1, Offtopic)

kutahuja (2845699) | about a year ago | (#42948115)

http://www.cloud65.com/ [cloud65.com] my buddy's sister-in-law makes $65 an hour on the computer. She has been out of work for 6 months but last month her income was $19316 just working on the computer for a few hours. Go to this web site and read more

Re:Should've read the manuals. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42953417)

http://www.cloud65.com/ [cloud65.com] my buddy's sister-in-law makes $65 an hour on the computer. She has been out of work for 6 months but last month her income was $19316 just working on the computer for a few hours. Go to this web site and read more

So 297 hours is "a few?" Or are you just horrible at math?

Also, we don't care. Many of us software developers make more than $65/hour "on the computer."

What could possibly go wrong? (5, Informative)

IronHalik (1568993) | about a year ago | (#42947763)

Windows 8 (5, Funny)

puddingebola (2036796) | about a year ago | (#42947813)

Actually, it was just some confusion when someone right swiped on Windows 8. The Charms bar came up and then the weather app launched and nobody knew how to close either one.

Re:Windows 8 (2)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about a year ago | (#42948195)

The mere fact that it is called a "charms bar" just makes me squirm in disgust. What the fuck were they thinking?

Re:Windows 8 (3, Informative)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#42948233)

They were thinking "How can we grab some of Apple's share?" and apparently a "charms bar" is the way to go.

Re:Windows 8 (5, Funny)

Megane (129182) | about a year ago | (#42948477)

They had to do something to compete with the Genius Bar at Apple stores!

I hear Ubuntu is going to introduce a Granola Bar to compete with both of them.

Lucky Charms Bar! (1)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year ago | (#42951557)

Maybe they can update it and add Google's "I'm feeling lucky" button to the mix of a charms bar and come up with. . .
.
the Lucky Charms Bars or LCB for short which could also stand for "least common blue-screen-o'-death"

They must not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42947815)

be able to figure out how to get the start menu back. My mom had this same issue. They should give her a call.

Communication Reestablished (5, Informative)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about a year ago | (#42947855)

http://www.space.com/19853-space-station-contact-lost-nasa.html [space.com]

Update: NASA has reestablished contact with the International Space Station. For the latest news, read: NASA Restores Contact with Space Station

As far as NASA officials can tell, the space station's loss of communications was unrelated to the software update, Kelly Humphries, a public affairs specialist at NASA told SPACE.com. It was a coincidence that the space agency lost contact with the station as the computers were being updated.

Re:Communication Reestablished (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42948181)

As far as NASA officials can tell, the space station's loss of communications was unrelated to the software update, Kelly Humphries, a public affairs specialist at NASA told SPACE.com. It was a coincidence that the space agency lost contact with the station as the computers were being updated.

If I had a dollar for every time I'd tried to use that excuse with a customer ...

Re:Communication Reestablished (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about a year ago | (#42952673)

Other reasons given include Increased sunspot activity, interference from the Van Allen Belt, Jupiter is aligned with Mars, the Vulcan-death-grip ping has been applied, excess condensation in cloud network, interference from lunar radiation, a star wars satellite accidently blew up the WAN, and BOFH intervention.

Shortly after the dropout, an astronaut was seen spacewalking near the station holding a floppy disk over his head.

Re:Communication Reestablished (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about a year ago | (#42948395)

Coincidence is really a stretch. How many times have I had to support someone with their problems (PC, DVR, Car, etc.) where they claim nothing changed nothing changed.

Later to find out "Oh yeh, I DID just install something before the problem... I just thought it was a coincidence"

There was a quote from a TV series called "The Unit" which accurately depicts my thoughts on the matter.
Mack: You believe in coincidence?
Bob: Do you?
Mack: Like I believe in God, I believe in it. But I've never seen it.

Yep (4, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#42947861)

Every time the offshore admins want to apply an update, I ask them "what is your contingency plan should you brick the server?" and they always answer "Call the vendor". Sigh.

Re:Yep (5, Interesting)

omglolbah (731566) | about a year ago | (#42947983)

We do a full image backup of the server.
Then we shut it down (they're all redundant) and remove one set of drives from the mirrored raid.
Start back up.
Run the update.
Verify that the update went ok
Perform new image backups.
When everyone is satisfied shove the mirrored drives back in.

Then again, we're "offshore" as in an oil rig and patching control system HMI servers... so I guess having a contingency plan would be required. This rig (where I am at now :p) makes 50 million USD a day in natural gas.. so uptime is paramount!

Re:Yep (4, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#42948107)

That's a different, and probably more appropriate definition of "offshore". That also sounds like a very good procedure. I would have added "we only upgrade firmware to solve specific problems and vulnerabilities appropriate to our environment, not just because it's 'the latest'". But I'm told I'm too conservative.

Here, the admins are offshore (as in, physically on the other side of the world) but the machines are still local. They've rebadged former mainframe operators to be "hands and eyes" in case a button has to be pushed or a memory stick changed out. Of course, "hands and eyes" have had no hardware training whatsoever. I made some fuss recently when I caught one of them changing out a memory stick with the gator clip on their wrist strap dangling in the air. The response was to raise the issue as to why I still had access to the computer room? Geh.

Re:Yep (2)

war4peace (1628283) | about a year ago | (#42948171)

Offtopic, sort of, but never have I seen, in about 8 years or so, a computer component being toasted by static discharge, and here nobody ever uses grounding when they work with hardware.

Re:Yep (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year ago | (#42948475)

I have, but only when the humidity level dropped to where there was static electricity in the air. The kind that hurts when you touch a door knob. But if you live off the southern coast (Houston TX for example), you can get away without needing anti-static grounding. Just a simple act of touching the chassis once is enough. Though honestly, that still violates best practice procedure. And when handling RAM, it's exceedingly important to be cautious as you could kill a single transistor and start flipping bits and thus corrupting data. ECC will correct those errors, but don't damage the hardware to begin with is my point.

Re:Yep (2)

asc99c (938635) | about a year ago | (#42948605)

Neither have I, and I don't bother with any precautions when working on PCs. But I have also assembled an AIX server which would have been just about into six figures in US dollars, and thought for that one I'd spend five minutes to go and find the anti-static equipment!

Re:Yep (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#42950497)

Offtopic, sort of, but never have I seen, in about 8 years or so, a computer component being toasted by static discharge, and here nobody ever uses grounding when they work with hardware.

There are ways to handle computer components safely without a grounding strap. For instance, putting bare forearms against the chassis frame when removing or inserting components.

One could argue that the ground strap is there to insure that you are always statically grounded even if you forget, or don't know about, other precautionary measures. I'd like to posit that someone with absolutely no hardware training probably doesn't know to touch the chassis before handling components, but apparently this also means they don't know (or forget) about connecting the gator clip to the frame. So it's a lose-lose situation.

Re:Yep (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42950639)

I have, an NVIDIA Geforce 4. All it would do when powered on was dump its character map over the screen in various colors.

Re:Yep (1)

yahwotqa (817672) | about a year ago | (#42950797)

You and I must work for the same big company. How many times have I notified someone about something that is incorrect, and instead of expected reaction "right, it's not supposed to be that way" I got "you're not supposed to know about it".

Re:Yep (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42948225)

Serious question (unfortunately posting anonymously to not lose some moderation) ...

Its 2013... any reason you're not using virtualization for these sort of things? It may be overkill for abilities like live migration, particularly if your software is intrinsically highly available and bringing a server down doesn't matter, but a snapshot revert is always going to be the fastest way to recover in an emergency.

Re:Yep (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#42950727)

Large app servers, database back-ends, and outward facing servers remain physical. Just about everything else is a candidate for virtualization. It so happens that my responsibilities are primarily with big physical servers.

But let's talk virtualization... you haven't seen a mess until you've seen a firmware update pushed out that takes three-quarters of your VM farm offline. Virtualization allows you to be responsible, by migrating off a few servers at a time, upgrading them, and if successful, move the instances back. But if anything a big VM farm gives the irresponsible an even greater opportunity to shoot one's self in the foot. Since most the hardware is identical, why not patch them all at once and save time? And then... oops.

Re:Yep (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#42948401)

"This rig (where I am at now :p) makes 50 million USD a day in natural gas.. so uptime is paramount!"

If it's making that much, then natural gas is too expensive, almost by definition.

Re:Yep (1)

omglolbah (731566) | about a year ago | (#42949269)

The Troll A platform can produce 122 million standard cubic meters of gas in a 24 hour period.
That is 4.3 billion cubic feet of gas per day.

Re:Yep (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#42952005)

You're just reinforcing my point.

If one rig can produce enough to "make" $50 million a day, then the retail price is far too high.

But if, as the other poster mentioned, that is actually gross revenue rather than profit, it's a bit of a different story. I'd still be interested in what kind of margin they're operating on.

Re:Yep (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#42948603)

I knew an admin who was so scared of updates breaking something and getting called up to London at 6 PM to fix it he just never bothered. Every time the staff infected the RDP server with a virus because they were stuck with IE7 he blamed them, and one even lost her job over it.

Eventually the company got fed up, ditched us and found another support company. The first thing they did was install all the updates and virtualize all the servers.

Re:Yep (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#42950663)

I knew an admin who was so scared of updates breaking something and getting called up to London at 6 PM to fix it he just never bothered. Every time the staff infected the RDP server with a virus because they were stuck with IE7 he blamed them, and one even lost her job over it.

Eventually the company got fed up, ditched us and found another support company. The first thing they did was install all the updates and virtualize all the servers.

Right, but there is a huge space between "being cautious about updates" and "never installing and update". System updates, and most especially firmware updates need to be staged just like any application update. You apply them to non-critical systems first, test, and then cautiously apply them to up the line to your most critical system. Even then, you have to watch your application support matrix. We've had issues where drive-by updates (installed over the weekend by offshore admins) brought us to an unsupported OS version. So great... you're on the latest OS version... You're also out of compliance with your service contract, and any application issue tickets may be blown off by tech support.

So what we get, is an email in the middle of the night that the following two hundred machines are going to have firmware, driver and OS updates applied, with absolutely no thought put into which of these machines are mission critical.

But, it appears that "it was the latest update" is a valid excuse when a half dozen servers are bricked and a mission critical application is offline until motherboards can be replaced. It's really no way to run a business.

And mass midnight patch sessions are a way to generate metrics showing what a wonderful job the outsourced admins are doing. Because the metrics don't include the collateral damage of blind patching.

The very specific problem with Internet Explorer is that in the early days of the net web applications were coded very specifically for IE eccentricities, and these apps only work with those early versions. (IE6 usually.) Often the original developers are long gone, or the vendor has been acquired or gone out of business, and there are never going to be any updates to the app that allow usage of a modern browser. And it's hard for IT people to make a business case because the executives' impression is "it works now". Because they can't see the collateral damage of hundreds of employees stuck with an ancient browser. Mass upgrading the browser is a real good way to lose your job if it makes a critical web app unavailable. This is not an excuse to never patch, but like anything, you have to use a bit of sense.

Hello, IT (5, Funny)

Clancie (678344) | about a year ago | (#42947867)

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

Re:Hello, IT (1, Funny)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about a year ago | (#42948141)

One does not simply turn a space station "off and on again".

Re:Hello, IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42948329)

Boromir simply turns space stations "off and on again?"

Re:Hello, IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42948365)

Yeah, that would be the joke. DarwinSurvivor... just.

fir/5t (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42947869)

polite to bring variations on the in ratio of 5 to Is not prone to BUWLA, or BSD THINKING ABOUT IT. can coonect to it just 0wnz.', subscribers. Please

Re:fir/5t (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42948303)

polite to bring variations on the in ratio of 5 to Is not prone to BUWLA, or BSD THINKING ABOUT IT. can coonect to it just 0wnz.', subscribers. Please

I have mod points, but where is the "+1 worse than usual word salad" mod?

I don't think they update on the fly they send the (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#42947895)

I don't think they update on the fly they send the files and verify that they are 100% before starting a install locally

Re:I don't think they update on the fly they send (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42947923)

Have you heard of grammar?

Re:I don't think they update on the fly they send (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42947975)

Have you heard of pedantry?

Re:I don't think they update on the fly they send (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42948389)

Nothing to stop space radiation from flipping bits after they're verified though. ;)

Don't worry, it's not bricked. (5, Funny)

Nanoda (591299) | about a year ago | (#42947911)

Someone is going to have to hold down the button on the side for 10 seconds though.

Re:Don't worry, it's not bricked. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42949545)

1 Flying Toaster coming right up! Err... in 90 minutes.

Redundant systems? (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | about a year ago | (#42947917)

So, the entire space station only has *one* single radio communications device, with no redundant/emergency backup?

Re:Redundant systems? (2)

sv_libertarian (1317837) | about a year ago | (#42948065)

They also have an amateur radio station on board that can be used for emergency communications. It would have been a CB, but West Virginia couldn't get their mobile home module into orbit.

Re:Redundant systems? (2)

A10Mechanic (1056868) | about a year ago | (#42948413)

As an amatuer radio operator, I'd love to take up the slack and do comms for them. Get enough of us, and we can provide global support, free of charge, and would be honored to do it! There *may* be some coverage holes in the south Pacific...

Re:Redundant systems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42949805)

When all else fails... Amateur Radio.

Re: Redundant systems? (1)

David Dionne (2845797) | about a year ago | (#42952167)

Kwaj could pickup the South Pacific. There were plenty hams when I was out there... But the problem is NASA, to quote one of my prior NASA co-worker (one of the few actual skilled) "NASA's welfare for nerds...". NASA and its contractors are in serious need of a "job skills" audit, at least in IT. It's an embarrassing living, breathing, self-perpetuating Charlie Foxtrot.

Re: Redundant systems? (1)

David Dionne (2845797) | about a year ago | (#42952419)

I was just asked (privately) to be more specific, which I found interesting. So it'd be a worthy idea to start an audit, if such an audit existed, with the NISN IT Security group based out of Marshall Space Flight Center primarily outsourced to SAIC. That should get the ball rolling AND KEEP IT ROLLING.

Re: Redundant systems? (1)

David Dionne (2845797) | about a year ago | (#42952503)

They have Sr. Computer Scientists pulling deep six figures (of our tax dollars) that don't know the difference between 8086 (x86) and RISC, or how to change the IP address on a windows box and that stared at a shell prompt like it was a practical joke. I later found out that she was previously a bar tender "friend" of the civil servant who called in a favor or something...no wait, that was a different one.

Re:Redundant systems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42948343)

So, the entire space station only has *one* single radio communications device, with no redundant/emergency backup?

Of course not. The station remained in contact with ground stations in Russia; that's how instructions were relayed to them during the TDRS outage. But that wouldn't have made for a sufficiently sensational headline.

Talk with the crew on Wednesday (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42947963)

On Wednesday Feb. 20, 150 of NASA's social media followers and their guests will have the unique opportunity to talk to three of the six crew members aboard the International Space Station, and speak with agency scientists and engineers about the ground-breaking research taking place daily on the orbiting laboratory...

http://www.nasa.gov/connect/social/social_ISSscience_feb2013.html [nasa.gov]

Screen is stuck on this: (3, Funny)

Bill Hayden (649193) | about a year ago | (#42947999)

Applying update 8 of 27...

Please do not turn off your computer.

Re:Screen is stuck on this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42948109)

Somebody must've ignored

Warning: do not turn off your control bridge!

No one ever goes to the source (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42948029)

This has been fixed for over three hours.

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition34/e34_021913.html

Is it really that hard to check with NASA?

Re:No one ever goes to the source (2)

PRMan (959735) | about a year ago | (#42948859)

Are you kidding? I'm just happy when Slashdot isn't 3 DAYS behind. 3 hours is a massive improvement.

In Space... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42948213)

No one can hear when you BSOD

Aliens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42948575)

It's just the aliens masking their hostile takeover of the space station.

90 minutes (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#42948675)

What is that, once an orbit? Does this mean they lost routing from other stations, and can only communicate when over US receivers?

Re:90 minutes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42948843)

Close. They were communicating with a Russian ground station, which came into range for a few minutes during every orbit.

DRM is bad (1)

msk (6205) | about a year ago | (#42948903)

This is what happens when you patronize a phone vendor who locks the bootloader.

Software Verification and Validation (4, Interesting)

DERoss (1919496) | about a year ago | (#42949779)

I spent over 20 years of my career (now retired) working for a company that did independent verification and validation (IV&V) of software used by the military to operate its unmanned space satellites. Not once was a satellite lost from an error in the software if we were involved.

There were some 10 or more other, unrelated companies developing software for various space satellites. We did more than merely test the resulting products. We started by reviewing the developers' design documents; our reviews required responses or revisions before any coding could occur. Next we reviewed the developers' programming documents; our reviews required responses or revisions before programming could be completed. Then we reviewed the developers' test documents; our reviews required responses or revisions before the developers could conduct their own internal unit tests. We attended the conduct of those internal tests and audited the results to ensure that the purposes and criteria of the tests were satisfied.

Finally, the developers would deliver their software to us. We would test the products at the package and system level. We looked at how products from different developers interfaced with each other, whether human interfaces were reasonable, and whether the government's requirements had been met. Our test documents were reviewed by the military organizations that would be using the software, and we did not start testing until we responded or revised our test documents.

This IV&V process approximately doubled the cost of providing software. However, no such software caused a satellite to land on the White House or (worse) on the Kremlin. In the early 1990s, the Pentagon decided to save money by eliminating IV&V. I continued testing software for military satellites, but then it was within the companies that developed the software. When schedules or costs were at risk, testing was cut short.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

Re:Software Verification and Validation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42950645)

...When schedules or costs were at risk, testing was cut short

It's such a pity that nobody thinks cutting testing increases the risk.

Re:Software Verification and Validation (1)

Groboclown (1156791) | about a year ago | (#42950719)

My stint on the ISS testing team years and years ago (back when the Interim Control Module looked like it was needed) showed that, though everyone wanted the thing to work, there were more pressures to make papertrails than make quality work. That being said, oh man, that Ku-Band data stream got seriously hosed.

This is a job for Ham Radio (voice & 9.6k AX.2 (1)

ivi (126837) | about a year ago | (#42950709)

Well, if the Kenwood TM-D700A is back on the air (ie, after -its- recent glitch),
Ham Radio could save the day, albeit only when there's another Ham operator
on the ground, in the coverage footprint to talk to & (hopefully) reliably relay
messages to / from NASA.

Ideally, the very-speed (9.6 Kb/Sec, AX.25 data mode) packet radio link
would let ISS forward its messages into the world-wide store-and-forward
network, as well as fetch any incoming messages.

(Of course, the same radio provides an unencrypted voice mode channel,
concurrently, with data mode traffic.)

PS If they do this, & find it works for them, it just might justify an upgrade
to Kenwood's current model - the TM-D710A - instead of completing the
repair of the older TM-D700A.

The newer radio can help put the ISS on the EchoLink voice network -
for which there's an Android app - as well as APRS for position reporting.

#OpISS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42951085)

Citizens of the World! It has come to our attention that almost on a daily basis, copyrighted material is being uploaded to individuals aboard the ISS. We have stood by for a long time, but can no longer remain at the sidelines and have taken action to take down this music piracy network. Being in LEO, on the US side of ISS, does not mean one is not under US jurisdiction and answerable for one's actions.

- MAFIAAnonymous.

We do not give.
We do not free.
We are MAFIAAnonymous.
Expect us.

Not surprising at all (1)

David Dionne (2845797) | about a year ago | (#42952019)

I worked at NASA for 4 years, there are some talented people but they're so far and few between those people must hide their skills like early Christians hid their beliefs. It was shocking...it's a miricle more and much worse doesn't happen on a regular basis.
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