HikingStick writes "In an unprecedented move, FedEx has made a bid to purchase Bayer, maker of Levitra and many other drugs. The new company would retain the FedEx name. This news release coincided with FedEx's decision to resurrect one of its old slogans for use with the new FedEx-branded Levitra:
"Levitra: When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight."" top
HikingStick writes "Returning to work after a leave of absence, Maryland Pubic Safety and Correctional Services employee Robert Collins was told he had to hand over his Facebook password if he wanted to return to work. Collins was rightly concerned, and the ACLU has chimed in." Link to Original Source top
HikingStick writes "I'm not sure if you've been asked this before, but is the code behind Slashdot proprietary or open source? From reviewing the copyright statement, it is clear that the Slashdot page design and non-user-generated content are owned by Geeknet, Inc. I was just wondering if the code that drives the message board, the moderation system, and the other features we know as Slashdot are open- or closed-source.
If open, I'd love to utilize the framework as part of an Intranet site I'm working on. If not open, why not?" top
HikingStick writes "As you may know, China is the world's top supplier of rare eath minerals that are vital to many advanced manufacturing operations. As China has grown, they've been reducing the amount of such materials that may be exported. On September 8, after Japanese officials arrested a Chinese fishing boat captain who ran into a couple of Japanese patrol boats, Japan stopped receiving shipments of these materials, and supply lines have not returned to normal levels since then (though they are improving).
It's too late to ask if we're too dependent on China's supply of rare earth minerals. The question is this: what can be done? Japan is hoping to become a leading recycler of such mateirals, and is pursuing new mining opportunities in Mongolia. Do any other areas of the world hold promise for increasing supply, or must we simply wait until China realizes it has the rest of us by the... that they have the upper hand?" Link to Original Source top
Natural carbon crystals found--harder than diamond
HikingStick writes "The science desk at MSNBC.com just published a report that a new, naturally occurring form of carbon has been found in a meteorite fragment. From the article:
"researchers were polishing a slice of the carbon-rich Havero meteorite that fell to Earth in Finland in 1971. When they then studied the polished surface they discovered carbon-loaded spots that were raised well above the rest of the surface — suggesting that these areas were harder than the diamonds used in the polishing paste...graphite layers were shocked and heated enough to create bonds between the layers — which is exactly how humans manufacture diamonds, Chen explained.
"Ferroir's team took the next step and put the diamond-resistant crystals under the scrutiny of some very rigorous mineralogical analyzing instruments to learn how its atoms are lined up. That allowed them to confirm that they had, indeed, found a new "phase" or polymorph of crystalline carbon as well as a type of diamond that had been predicted to exist decades ago, but had never been found in nature until now."" Link to Original Source top
HikingStick writes "The backup device at my place of employment is on its last legs. I'd like to investigate some other options, but am not sure where to begin. Let me provide some background information to let you know where we are at.
When I took my current job with a mid-sized manufacturing firm, they already had a backup technology in place, using LRO2 tape cartridges and a shrink-wrapped backup solution (Symantec). They produce a lot of design documents (in AutoCAD and SolidWorks) which reside on a file server, have a third-tier ERP solution (Global Shop), a Windows Server 2003 infrastructure, and Exchange 2007 running on W2K8 Server. The current tape device is connected by a SCSI2 connection to the server that hosts the ERP tool.
When I began, backups were completing in an eight-hour nightly window, and filling less than one LTO2 tape (with compression enabled). Their preferred backup method was to run a full backup (resetting the archive bit) every night of the entire ERP server and all network data locations. Even before adding the Exchange Server was added to the network, the nightly full backups started requiring a second tape.
[At that point, we had the option of going to Full-Differential or Full-Incremental schedules, but those were nixed by management (long story--mostly a lack of knowledge about backups, which is another issue). The company currently only keeps backups on a two week rotation. When I arrived, they had nothing older than two weeks. I make some periodic backups of each server that I keep locked away just in case.]
With the Exchange Server added, not only did we need the second tape, but we also needed to push out our backup window, starting earlier and ending right as the next day's shifts started. This leaves me no time for maintenance.
The LTO drive appears to be failing based on the number of errors and failed jobs we're having (I've tried new media, and have run a cleaning tape periodically). What options would you suggest for backup? When implementing a new solution, I'd like to simultaneously address a few of the nagging issues:
Keeping backups longer than two weeks
Not having to change media
Improve backup speed
Allow for redundant copies of backups
Allow for independent backups of servers
One technology that interests me for backup is USB-attached storage--keeping a set of external HDDs for backups, copying them to a remote location for archiving, etc. What do you recommend? As you can imagine, budget is a key limitation, so I'd like to get the most bang for the buck. We have no choice but to do something. I just want to have some options before the drive completely fails and I get an edict to replace it (with the same model), thereby preserving the issues we already have."
HikingStick writes "Well, as much as it has been a media darling in recent years, Apple has had some troubles with reports of iPods overheating and burning users. And then there was a case where an iPod caught fire on a ship. As KIRO TV (http://www.kirotv.com) began to do their research using FOIA, Apple fought the release of the information. While very few incidents have actually been reported, there were enough for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to consider possible "future action, including a recall,". However, they've not issued a recall because current iPods use different batteries, though they reserved the right to do so if future problems were discovered. So Apple must not be pleased about a lawsuit filed in Cincinati regarding "an iPod Touch, one of Apple's newest edition of iPods, also powered by a lithium ion battery, [that] exploded and caught fire while in a teenager's pocket."" Link to Original Source top
HikingStick writes "I've noticed that any time the concept of Creationism comes up, it automatically spurs a response as zealous and hateful as that often associated with groups of any variety of religious backgrounds. I'd like to challenge my fellow Slashdot readers to do their best to set aside their ideological viewpoints and approach this topic logically.
As I understand it, Darwin's original theory grew out of his observation of the natural world. He argued that, due to observed variants among species and unique characteristics in isolated populations, a rational origin could be explained by natural selection rather than as the result of divine intervention. I don't know if Darwin had any personal views that would have biased him toward this conclusion, or whether his work was purely objective.
Why then, is it villainy for someone to examine the complexities of life on this planet and theorize that there must have been some rational, intelligent force behind it? Has anyone actually paused to consider the possibility that such a theory may have merit?
Evolution posits that a species may have developed flight over a period of millions of years as a way to get away from ground-based predators. Is it blasphemous to wonder how that species survived until the capability for flight was fully developed? When a scientist observes two species in a complete symbiotic relationship, is it blasphemy to posit that their interdependencies are too complex to have developed via natural selection? It seems to me that, in many cases, "evolution", or "the evolutionary process", is used to provide explanation for complex interactions and interdependencies that remain unexplained aside from the term itself. How did a bat evolve to use echo location rather than sight? To those who accept evolution, the equation seems clear:
small flying mammal in lightless cave + evolution = modern bat
But what exactly transpired? What happened? How did the bat change? How long did this process take? What did the creature do in the interim (aside from flying around hitting walls, stalagtites, and stalagmites)?
I know many will read this post and instantly assume I am some right-wing nut, but I am seriously interested in each response. I hope to read reasoned answers rather than dogma, so let's see what comes. At least with creationists, their presuppositions are plainly in view. They see the role of science as a means to understand more about this universe, its characteristics, the apparant natural laws, and the force or being they believe must be behind them. Is it really so wrong to allow someone to attempt to understand this world through a different theory? From where I sit, so long as those involved are applying the scientific method to govern their observations, experimentation, and the development of theory, then we should have a scientific community that embraces a multiplicity of views. While most of Einstein's work did a splended job, it has not stopped other theorists from coming along and presenting other theories (e.g., chaos theory, string theory). Is there no room for dissent or new theories in the world of evolutionary science? Has the theory of evolution moved from being theory to being doctrine?" top
HikingStick (878216) writes "Alright, I'm an old dog, and I need some help from you system jockies who have been in the game lately. I was in the trenches a long time, but ended up in a cushy job for the past nine years. It's not that the job was bad, or that I let all my skills degrade. It's just that I was in a big enough shop that I was able to specialize. Now, I'm back in the game in a big way — I'm the new (and only) IT guy at a mid-sized manufacturing firm, and I've been charged with building an IT department. In short, I'm back to doing everything, but I'm finding that some of my preferred methods are no longer supported. Thus, enter the Ghost issue.
Ghost used to be one of my most dependable tools for cloning hard disks for future recovery, or when preparing for mass deployments. It seems that, since the final days of Ghost 2003, the venerable tool I knew and loved has become a glorified (and bloated) consumer backup/recovery tool.
My question is this: What tool(s) do you recommend for disk cloning or duplication? I'm not looking for the ability to back up specific files and folders, but I am looking for that old-time-Ghostiness: being able to copy either to/from both disks and partitions (e.g. disk to image to partition, image to disk, partition to image to disk). I don't need no stinkin' GUI, but I won't refuse one where available. What say you? What tools do you use for cloning/disk-partition duplication? We're currently a Windows-only shop (something I hope to change), so keep that in mind." top
HikingStick writes "Recently, I made a change from being a tech specialist at a large company to founding an IT department at a small-to-mid-sized manufacturing firm. The transition has been interesting to say the least. In addition to all of the day-to-day tech support and network maintenance duties, I've also inherited management of the phone system (something completely new to me). The company will soon expand to the point where it will exceed the capacity of their current phone system (a Norstar system set up by the local telco). I've been asked to research and recommend a new telephone system that will handle a minimum of 75 nodes today, and potentially 200 (or more) within three years. There are two caveats. First, part of the expansion plan (for the next three yeras) is likely to include multiple sites. Secondly, it does not appear that IP telephony is an option right now, as we still have only local telco-provided 4 megabit DSL for our connection to the outside world.
The current phone system is fairly archaic (no direct dial to any desk — all calls go through the front desk), and that was the design by choice when the system was deployed years ago. We have five lines (one published incoming, and the others reserved for outgoing). We may reach our phone capacity in the next 30 to 60 days.
What phone systems have you worked with, and what are their pros and cons? What might you recommend for this environment? Are there vendors to avoid?" top
HikingStick (878216) writes "I've been in the tech field for over 15 years. After more than nine years with the same company, I've been asked to step in and establish an IT department for a regional manufacturing firm. I approached my company early, provding four weeks notice (including a week of pre-scheduled [and pre-approved] vacation time). I have a number of projects to complete, and planned to document some of the obscure bits of knowledge I've gleaned over the past nine years for the benefit of my peers, so I figured that would give me plenty of time.
That was a Friday. On the following Monday, word came down from above that all of my privileged access was to be removed — immediately. So, here I sit, stripped of power with weeks ahead of me. From discussions with my peers in other companies, I know that cutting off high-privilege users is common, but usually in conjunction with a severence offer (to keep their hands off the network during those final weeks, especially if there is any ill-will).
With my privileged access removed, I can neither finish my project work nor even document some of the processes which I had intended to update. My team lead came by this morning (he believes management's decision was a bad call, BTW) to ask about documentation for projects I worked earlier in the year, but that documentation was done months ago. Had I not had a great performance review recently, and such good rapport with management, I might have thought they were doing it to get me to leave earlier than scheduled (perhaps so my benefits would expire at the end of May rather than at the end of June?). In this case, I think they wanted to move towards a best-practices approach (stripping high access from departing employees), but that they forgot to consider the immediate impact on my work team: I was on call this week, I have a dozen open work requests, I cannot process any new requests, and all this newly created slack was dumped onto my teammates before the team lead had time to determine the best way to spread out my workload (one of the reasons I gave them four weeks notice). It's been a rather emasculating experience. They obviously didn't consider the impact on my morale, either (so much for finishing my term just as I began it — running full steam ahead).
What say you? Should I argue for restored access, highlight the fact that I am currently a human paperweight, request a severence package, or simply become the most prolific Slashdot poster over the next few weeks? Does your company have a policy/process for dealing with high privilege users who give notice? What is it, and do you make exceptions?" top
HikingStick writes "A group of University of Wisconsin alumni sued Intel on Wednesday for patent infringement. They claim that the Core 2 Duo infringes on a University of Wisconsin owned patent filed in 1998 "a method in which certain instructions that would normally have to wait for other instructions to finish processing before they can move forward can be processed in part while waiting for the other tasks to finish.
"[They] tried to get Intel to license the technology back in 2001, but the company wasn't interested. Intel has also "aggressively marketed" this type of technology with its Core 2 Duo promotions..."" top
Amid significant customer demand, the computer maker said on Thursday that it has returned to offering the older Windows version as an option on some of its consumer PCs.
Like most computer makers, Dell switched nearly entirely to Vista-based systems following Microsoft's mainstream launch of the operating system in January. However, the company said its customers have been asking for XP as part of its IdeaStorm project, which asks customers to help the company come up with product ideas.
Another great example of Dell being responsive to customer needs, but how will Microsoft spin this? Sure they make their dime (okay — many, many dimes) regardless of the OEM OS, but it does demonstrate that consumers don't really want Vista, now doesn't it?" top
HikingStick (878216) writes "Microsoft, in a press release today, announced a $3 (USD) software bundle that includes basic editions of Windows, Office, and other MS educational titles. It seems their actions acknowledge a general fear of losing potential markets in the developing world to the open source community.
Through the Partners in Learning program, Microsoft today announced the Microsoft Student Innovation Suite, an affordable and reliable software package for governments purchasing and giving Windows®-based PCs to primary and secondary students for their personal use at home and for schoolwork. The education suite includes Windows XP Starter Edition, Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, Microsoft Math 3.0, Learning Essentials 2.0 for Microsoft Office, and Windows Live(TM) Mail desktop.
Microsoft will offer this suite in the second half of 2007 for $3 (U.S.) to qualifying governments that purchase and supply PCs directly to students.
HikingStick (878216) writes "[Or, perhaps I'd have more luck with this submission if I retitled it "Did George Bush Kill Captain America?"]
Just a few short weeks after Marvel killed off Captain America, Newyorkbusiness.com reports that Marvel
unveiled plans for a $1B theme park in Dubai. Marvel is building the part with help of a regional firm, Al Ahli Group, and negotiations have been underway for the past two years. Is it possible that Cap, an icon of Americana, was killed off so there would be no American overtones to the park? Let's face it — most of Marvel's other heros could appear on any national background with little change, but good old Captain America may just be too much for an international marketplace — especially in the Mideast today. Did our current involvement in the Mideast force Marvel to kill off Cap? What do/.ers think?" top
HikingStick writes "The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports an AP pience today that Universal Music is teaming up with SpiralFrog.com to offer an ad-supported free music site. Unlike previous ad-based music sites, SpiralFrog downloads can be stored on a hard disk or portable music player,not just streams. but they will be locked down to prevent (make difficult) transfer to CD.
From the lead-in...
"Universal Music, home to artists such as U2, The Killers and Audioslave, will make its catalog of recordings and music videos available for free on an ad-supported Web site launching later this year..."
The question is, will this compromise position (limited use) be successful?"