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Study Finds 0.3% of BitTorrent Files Definitely Legal

Merc248 Re:As I said in the earlier story on porn... (321 comments)

I used to work there as well fairly recently. It was kind of amazing how much traffic we were able to handle. :)

more than 4 years ago

10 Tips For Boosting Network Performance

Merc248 Re:11. (256 comments)

There's other network file systems out there... like AFS.

more than 4 years ago

Germany Demands Google Forfeit Citizens' Wi-Fi Data

Merc248 Re:Privacy laws (318 comments)

Guy #2: "What is this I don't even"

*Guy #2 is thrown into a white room, and is prodded with large sticks for hours on end*

more than 4 years ago

Software Recognizes Sarcastic Tweets

Merc248 I don't see this as a problem (168 comments)

Just end your sarcasm tags before being sarcastic. This won't conform to W3C standards, however.

more than 4 years ago

Confessions of a SysAdmin

Merc248 Re:Switch to *NIX (385 comments)

Right. But what of politics and whatnot, preventing people from changing the infrastructure?

Also, when I say someone could fuck up the infrastructure, I mean the people who are architecting the infrastructure in the first place, not any environmental issues like any malicious attempts at penetrating the network, or whatever.

Also, I must stress how important it is to use some semblance of configuration management; it's almost necessary when you're managing at least 100 servers.

more than 4 years ago

Confessions of a SysAdmin

Merc248 Re:Switch to *NIX (385 comments)

Bah. I'm a Linux sysadmin, but it still sucks the life out of you to maintain them. Someone can still royally fuck up the infrastructure and make maintenance a living hell. But it is more of a joy to work with *nix systems than Windows systems, I'll give you that.

more than 4 years ago

Good, Portable "Virtual" Linux Distro?

Merc248 What's your goal? (261 comments)

Are you simply easing them into what a modern Linux desktop distro looks like, or do you want to teach them some stuff about the command line?

If it's the latter, why not just construct a Xen box and roll out a bunch of VM's that students can use remotely? Either that, or if you can subsidize the monthly costs somehow with a lab fee or whatever, you could always roll out a ton of EC2 instances or Linode slices for them to play on.

Of course, you'd have to worry about security, and it's not exactly the least complex solution, but you'd also force them to work in a command line.

more than 4 years ago

Why Computer Science Students Cheat

Merc248 Re:how to not cheat (694 comments)

God, you've no idea how annoyed I am of hearing people who end up jumping into a field they don't like.

Typical conversation between me and various people in college (or who've just graduated from college):

me: "What'd you major in?"
person: "X"
me: "Awesome! What sort of stuff interests you about X anyway?"
person: "Oh, I'm just doing X because I can make a ton of money with it."
me: "Oh... okay."


more than 4 years ago

Virtualizing Workstations For Common Hardware?

Merc248 Re:We did something else which was a lot more usef (349 comments)

One thing I should add: it can be a little tedious to figure out what command line switches are required for whatever program you're wanting to install, especially since the whole system can install everything, including .msi's and regular .exe InstallShield packages. This tedium pays off in a big way, however: if you set it up like how the original developers set it up, where you can pick between two or three models in the bootstrap stage, then it's extremely easy for an operator to queue up 50 machines at once for installation within 10 minutes.

For example, it took me a good week or two of scripting out all of the installation stuff so that it prompts the operator for only two pieces of information: 1.) computer use type (student lab computer, laptop, etc.), and 2.) owner's username. This only takes about a minute to fill out, and streamlines the hell out of the process. Compare this to a naive Acronis image that hasn't been sysprepped, which requires about 15 minutes per computer to rename the computer, make sure that the owner has admin rights, etc. If the computer has been sysprepped, this should be reduced down to about 2 minutes, though if you're in a heterogeneous computing environment, you'll have problems down the road where you're forced to update a ton of images for however many permutations you've bothered to save to an image.

more than 4 years ago

Why Computer Science Students Cheat

Merc248 Re:how to not cheat (694 comments)

I wish I could've done this earlier; I really really enjoyed CS, but the program I was in at a private university was more about software engineering than CS theory. I still enjoyed coding, however.

When I went to the local public university (University of Washington), my GPA wasn't up to snuff. I LOVED computer science, but this interest was not enough to actually get me into the department.

C'est la vie.

Thankfully, I also liked the other majors I ended up graduating with, which were math and philosophy. But I think I would've loved being in the CS dept. a lot more than either of those two combined...

more than 4 years ago

Virtualizing Workstations For Common Hardware?

Merc248 Re:We did something else which was a lot more usef (349 comments)

Yep. Before I left, we were in the talks of replacing it with WDS, since we were in the process of migrating everything to Windows 7. The general area where unattended fails is when it comes to partitioning the disk.

Someone else suggested to use OPSI; I haven't had a chance to test it out before I left, so I don't know how well it works with deploying Windows 7 nor with any sort of server OS.

more than 4 years ago

Virtualizing Workstations For Common Hardware?

Merc248 We did something else which was a lot more useful (349 comments)

I used unattended on a FreeBSD box at one of my old jobs, since we had like five or so different models of computers. It works sort of like RIS, except it's easier to extend the system since it's all written in Perl and it's all open source. We dumped the contents of an XP disc on the server, then slipstreamed driver packs into the disc directory structure; this catches almost everything but the most obscure hardware out there. Unattended allowed us to run post-install scripts, so we threw in a bunch of other software packages that would install after the OS was done installing, like Office 2007, Adobe suite, etc.

This was substantially better than a disk image; we took care of all of the drivers in one fell swoop, so the only thing we used as a differentiator between computers was how the person used the computer (if it's a student lab computer, we loaded a bunch of stuff like Geometer's Sketchpad, InDesign, etc. If it was a faculty's laptop, we'd load software to operate stuff in the classroom.) We save space on the server, and we save time when it comes to putting together another "image" for a different use case.

But as others said above, I wouldn't virtualize the workstation, even if it eases up on the IT dept. a little bit; just be smart about what deployment method you use. I wouldn't recommend using unattended if you had only about three different models; it's likely substantially easier to just use CloneZilla.

Oh, and use a centralized software deployment system such as WPKG. Your disk images will go stale after a while, in which case you'll have to make sure that you can manage the packages installed on clients somehow.

more than 4 years ago

Verizon CEO Says "We Will Hunt Heavy Users Down"

Merc248 Re:Come to Verizon! (738 comments)

"This is my queue to pipe in the theme for Jaws"

What do you mean, that makes much more sense!

*pets my queue*

more than 4 years ago

Fixing Internet Censorship In Schools

Merc248 Re:an excellent argument... (207 comments)


When I was working at a private high school for a while, our whole department agreed that there really shouldn't be any filter, because it only really encourages two things:

1.) It encourages kids to try to break the filter (actually, this can be a good thing if you're wanting to hire some student TA's)
2.) It discourages responsible web browsing.

But yes, we also knew that our jobs would be in jeopardy if we never had the filter in place... so we had a Barracuda web filter that we administered.

(Thankfully, there's a school in Seattle called "Seattle Academy", which is actually quite radical when it comes to its policy with technology in the school: there's free wifi for everyone and there's no filter.)

more than 4 years ago

University of Wyoming Studies Video Games

Merc248 At the other UW (University of Washington)... (81 comments)

... there's a game studies collective called the "Critical Gaming Project" (, which is ran by a few English graduate students. I've taken a class from them once, and it was interesting to see what sort of ways we can actually read into games. We've read stuff from Henry Jenkins from USC (he used to be at MIT's Media Lab for a decade I believe), Espen Aarseth, etc. Games studies is still an emerging field, and there seems to be a lot of interesting things coming out of that field of work.

more than 4 years ago

Best Resource For Identifying Legit Applications?

Merc248 Re:Why are you doing this? (255 comments)

Every time I've tried introducing a revenue stream, it's only resulted in people shying away from getting my help.

Even though it means, "yay, more free time for myself," it also means, "wow, people really don't value technical support."

more than 4 years ago

A Public Funded "Microsoft Shop?"

Merc248 I was in the same position (490 comments)

Though I was working in a private high school, there were a lot of factors that came into the ultimate decision to switch the entire system from Novell NetWare + SuSE (for backend services) + Windows to an entire Windows shop. For one, there were a lot of high powered donors who we couldn't really question, since some of them really WERE shills for Microsoft and basically gave us free licenses for all of our server operating systems. Second, we brought in consultants, including a consulting project manager who was playing it safe (he was also heavily promoting Microsoft and proprietary products over anything else we could draft up as a solution; I kept hearing "best practices" when talking about Microsoft products, and "not best practice" for any OSS software.) Third, I was the sole person in the department (out of four) who was comfortable with the UNIX command line interface. Finally, fourth, I had a direct superior who had just taken over as IT Director and didn't want to rock the boat too much.

I riled a lot of people up before I left, and I admit, I fucked up in my politicking. After fighting with the project manager (and on a much smaller level, with my direct boss), I was able to get a grand total of two FreeBSD boxes and one Debian backup box (out of twenty servers.) When I decided to leave, the fate of all three were in question, despite them providing internal services that we simply didn't have (network/host monitoring, centralized syslog, backup.)

I tried to suck it up, though what ultimately made me leave was the irrationality of possibly dismantling services for no reason other than the fact that other people didn't understand UNIX (I made the business case of all three servers and didn't implement them simply because they were FOSS.)

So I think you have three options:

1) Play it safe.
2) Try to rock the boat and see how far you get.
3) Leave ASAP.

more than 4 years ago



LOPSA Mentorship Program Launched

Merc248 Merc248 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Merc248 (1026032) writes "LOPSA has launched a mentorship program for system administrators, and is now soliciting for both mentors and proteges! It costs absolutely nothing to join the program, though if you're wanting to be a mentor, you must be a LOPSA member (but not if you're wanting to be a protege.) It's a great way to advance one's career in system administration."
Link to Original Source

Statistics Textbooks for the Sciences?

Merc248 Merc248 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Merc248 writes "I've recently been in contact with a few professors working in biology who have been employing mathematical techniques in their research, with one particular professor interested in taking me in as an intern. Now, most of my training up to this point has been in mathematics (though I'm only an undergraduate, and I haven't exactly finished up all of the higher level courses available in my university), and from what I can tell, the biology side of things can be picked up easily while working in the lab. However, I also need to learn statistics, and while there are a good number of statistics textbooks out there, most of them seem to be concentrated on totally different applications which I have no use for. I suppose what I'm looking for would be a good statistics textbook on its application to the natural sciences, as well as a good theory textbook on mathematical statistics. What do you guys recommend?"

Self Study Suggestions for Computer Science?

Merc248 Merc248 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Merc248 writes "Right now, I'm a mathematics major in my fourth year. I've a great interest in at least the idea of computer science (but NOT programming). From what little I know, there's a lot of deep mathematics in computer science, and it is something that I would love to look into. However, I don't know of a good introduction to these sorts of deeper mathematical topics; the university I go to has an extremely competitive computer science program with all of the classes that would at least give me an idea of what the topics are like, which means that I probably won't be able to take those classes at all anytime soon. I figured that studying textbooks by myself would be the best option, though I have no idea what a good, classic computer science textbook would be. Maybe there's another resource that I do not know about? What do you guys suggest for someone who wants to know more about computer science in general and wants to perhaps delve into the topics a bit deeper?"


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