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Favorite Star Wars Movie?

MrZaius Troops (457 comments)

What, no Troops option?

about 3 months ago

In case of a blackout, batteries etc. will give me ...

MrZaius Nepal: Notes from 16 hour+ rolling blackouts (328 comments)

As nice as it is to have an solar panels to power your inverters, the main solution to this sort of problem is axing consumption. The main source of power to an inverter, without going nuts and spending ridiculous amounts of money on the initial outlay for solar panels, essentially has to be the mains. Going off one or two inexpensive panels, you'll still be draining your batteries - Just more slowly.

Given a reliably powered ISP, the secret to dealing with this sort of event on a regular basis is maintaining power to your router and/or modem. Reliable power to your ISP link and USB-chargeable portable devices that can be powered separately by dirt-cheap batteries & solar units intended solely for the purpose of providing USB power are enough to make anything bearable. Don't power anything you don't need. Run phones and tablets and netbooks on batteries in succession, and you can make it through 8-10 hours without power, until you can recharge your inverter & portable devices off the mains again.

A DS or a PSP's nice to have, too, for when the ISP goes down or your batteries for your router die.

Different problem from a prolonged outage, but it's a fun problem. Good excuse for a nap if you screw up. Good luck with cooking & food storage, though.

more than 3 years ago

Software Piracy At the Workplace?

MrZaius Re:Since you brought it up... You're liable (1006 comments)

You're liable, but you could fix it.

Would recommend the asker take three tacts simultaneously:

1: Call a lawyer to verify that the below oughta work.
2: Move everything you can away from proprietary platforms, but be realistic - You'll just end up canned if you start replacing desktops and office suites without serious buy-in from all levels of the company, but they'd have to be braindead not to let you at least get the servers legal for free. Likewise, 7zip over Winzip, etc. Thorough implementation of step 2 can, hopefully, greatly lessen the cost of step 3.
3: Don't call the BSA - Call the nearest Microsoft sales rep and ask him to come in and give you a price on a site license to get you legal. Let them decide if they care about what's going on if management tells them where they can put it, but I'd be surprised if they did. Right now they're just hearing from some lowly service provider. Get the vendor on site, and they're staring at a multi-billion dollar behemoth that's capable of pursuing legal action against them but all but certainly won't if you play ball

Whistleblowers deserve some protection, but when there's means available to get a company caught up on their licenses without bringing in the imminent risk of major lawsuits/in a way that's beneficial all 'round and you still call in the trade-group-police, you're doing your employer a grave disservice. Again, go to the vendor first. There's no way to be 100% sure this will work and allow you to keep your job, but it's worth trying before you jump ship.

more than 4 years ago

Google Apps Not the DC Success Many Believe?

MrZaius Re:This is a DC problem, not a Google problem (139 comments)

Did you even bother reading the article summary? It is plainly a Google problem if they're misrepresenting the level of adoption by the local DC government. Off to RTFA.

more than 4 years ago

A Different Perspective On Snow Leopard's Exchange Support

MrZaius Re:How does this *free* Mac users? (276 comments)

However, it does nothing to actually free users from Microsoft.

It does something: For any user with no administration responsibilities, this makes it possible to completely avoid directly running or ,in the case of organizations that allow personally-owned equipment on their network, purchasing any Microsoft product. Freedom is relative, but this is change is certainly a noticeable one.

more than 4 years ago

Dell Makes $3 Million From Twitter Sales

MrZaius Re:Twitter IS a good marketing tool (76 comments)

Wow. Overreact much? You made three points I disagreed with and wrote about, and completely misunderstood what I said. I was writing about vendors responding to reviews on those sites, not the sites themselves. Very public responses to individual customer complaints on neutral ground/away from their own sites obviously yields some value.

Reading-challenged pot, meet kettle.

more than 5 years ago

Dell Makes $3 Million From Twitter Sales

MrZaius Re:Twitter IS a good marketing tool (76 comments)

Business value isnt about the individual complaint; its about problems and tweaks that affect large groups of users.

I call BS. If the parent poster can spare time to do this, it's a great thing. When I see this sort of proactive and aggressive outreach from customer service and developers at a firm that makes a product I'm looking at, I am much, much more likely to do business with them. Seems like common sense, and a fairly straightforward extension of the trend in the same direction long seen on myriad reviewer & feedback engines (ala Newegg, eBay, Amazon, etc) and other high-visibility forums as well. At least a couple of them maintain a similar character limit, to boot.

On a related note, the customer has every right to be lazy enough to not want to create yet-another-account on yet-another-bugzilla-install just because some lazy developer doesn't feel like hooking into an open authentication network ala OpenID.

more than 5 years ago

Survey Finds Airport Wi-Fi More Important Than Food

MrZaius Re:Wifi should be 100% free in airports. (247 comments)

The incentive isn't the airport's, although one could argue that they could make the same money by charging it from resident carriers.

The strong incentive to cut and axe the prices lies with the carriers. You already see free but restricted service in most business class lounges. If they just came to their senses and did the same throughout a terminal, perhaps tied to an eTicket number, they'd quickly win fans enough to warrant the expense.

more than 5 years ago

Windows 7 Streams Media To the Xbox 360 and PS3 Seamlessly

MrZaius Server build? (121 comments)

Nice as it is to have this on your desktop, I'd much rather have decend UPNP/DLNS/whatever on my NAS.

Does this have any ramifications for the server build? Better yet, are there any BSD or OpenSolaris with similar functionality out of the box that'd give you ZFS capabilities?

more than 5 years ago

State of Colorado Calls Firefox Insecure, IE6 Safe

MrZaius Context (530 comments)

Given that their site is down at the moment, rendering their explanation unavailable, I'd like to point out that there is a rational argument to be made for the notion that using preinstalled and patched IE installs instead of a third party browser can increase security. I disagree with it (based on a number of factors expressed elsewhere in this thread), but it's a good argument:

You increase the number of potential security holes on a workstation by increasing the number of installed applications. Your sysadmin is responsible for both maintaining and securing IE and Firefox, and is unable to uninstall the former. This, thank God, goes away in Windows 7. In the meantime, however, you can still disable and cripple IE in a way that limits its exposure - It's just more work than most Windows-heavy, Microsoft-ceritified admins are willing to do as doing so often strips them of their preferred choice, and the tools that they've been heavily trained in locking down and adapting to their local networks. If understaffed and underfunded, forcing IE usage may actually be the right call for some agencies and offices.

Still no excuse for any IE6 or earlier builds being used in the wild.

more than 5 years ago

Amazon Caves On Kindle 2 Text-To-Speech

MrZaius Re:DRM for text is a really ridiculous idea (370 comments)

You're right at the current price point. When the publishers and Amazon are raking in $10-20 for an ebook with no physical substance, sometimes 50-100% more than the cost of a paperback, it certainly does seem worth breaking.

Only by loosening the bounds that hold 'em and substantially dropping the price will they ever be able to effectively compete with the printed word, piracy, and free content without completely stripping out the DRM. Tightening up the DRM and raising the price (by forcing duplicate purchases in some cases) seems like a ridiculously ill-thought out move.

more than 5 years ago

Which Distro For an Eee PC?

MrZaius Re:Wait (466 comments)

It's like the event logs suddenly became human readable, the shell started to suck less, and a KDE-like start menu started letting me just type in what I want without navigating the typical Windows Start Menu hell. It's harder than you might think to go back to XP after a substantial period of time on an optimized Vista install.

Not that there's any way at all that I'll defend its astoundingly slow file transfers and deletion speeds, after a service-pack and years of patches. Still, it works well enough in-game and does have some strong points from an administrator's perspective, given modern hardware and well-written drivers. (Albeit not well enough to get me to use it more than 20% of the time.)

more than 5 years ago

How Do You Document Technical Procedures?

MrZaius Re:Culture of Knowledge Management (401 comments)

Find a way to encourage those who posess the knowledge to document it (even informally)

Have someone responsible to assemble, massage, and manage all the documented knowledge

Use something that can be migrated - anything that can't be output to text or html might result in lost data when you upgrade to new software

Work to develop a culture that uses this knowledge and generates more - it's hard to encourage people to document when management places no value on it (vs. getting work done)

There's an important one that you missed, that ties deeply into the first three:

Use an open, collaborative approach to all but the most important (and no, not everything is important) documentation. There's nothing like having a newb fill up a wiki with the procedures that he had to learn on the fly to get up to speed. Perspective is everything, and is frequently worth more than expertise or real official authority. It's important, as you say, to manage it and have an authoritative and openminded manager responsible for the project (and truly dedicated to it), but it's more important to get everyone involved.

Also, to hammer home the point that both you and I made in passing, informal documentation is potentially far more useful than formal documentation. Unless you've got some old fashioned boss that's willing to plunk several grand down on having a team of writers exhaustively document your projects, it is far, far more important to maintain speed and flexibility of documentation than the "officialness" of the thrown together stuff you get from swamped project leaders and ivory tower developers.

more than 5 years ago

IBM Files Patent For Bullet-Dodging Bionic Armor

MrZaius Great - Throw 'em around during a firefight (379 comments)

While this seems like a great way to protect an unarmed VIP (as seems to be the intent), it seems like it'd be a little bit problematic when installed in the armor of a soldier in the field. This seems like it could be more dangerous than beneficial in such circumstances, unless you also apply a number of safety precautions. What if the wearer is already firing or moving? Will it be smart enough to detect preexisting movement? Will it be smart enough to disable the wearer's firearm, in the event that he is already firing at another target?

more than 5 years ago

Help Writing an Open Standards Policy?

MrZaius Re:Don't call Bruce, call a lawyer! (52 comments)

The really important thing I bring to the table is experience in how other similar efforts have failed, and how to get around the problems that killed them.

This obviously isn't an unheard of problem, and is likely to become an even bigger issue with the noise that the American federal government is making about open standards and open source under the new administration. Any chance you'll be willing to just help everyone out at once and crank out another book? The above reads like a tagline on one I'd buy in a heartbeat.

I remember reading essays by you and others in Open Sources et al nearly a decade ago, but the state and tenor of the marketplace and political arenas have changed enough strip those works of much of their relevance.

I say sit down with one or two management oriented, calm, cool-headed people and hammer out a book offering up the same answers you say that you can give to the originator of this thread.

more than 5 years ago

Users' Admin Logins Make Most Windows Malware Worse

MrZaius Re:Ignorance on users part (including IT people) (420 comments)

It's a combination of ignorant users and ignorant IT people. I've never seen a single IT person use.....a command line utility that allows you to selectively strip administrative rights on applications as you use them thatâ(TM)s been on Microsoftâ(TM)s site for years (after I pointed it out to them).

What's really frustrating is that this isn't done by default. It seems rediculous that basic userspace applications, especially the in-house developed applications like IE and Office that have consistently been at the core of most major problems over the last few years, aren't already dumped in a jail and run as unpriveleged users by default. It should be perfectly possible for the devs to strip out any legitimate need for a UAC rights escalation or even a need to leave a full-on chroot-style jail from these applications, and then to block the apps from even requesting an escalation of rights. That they haven't gone this far yet seems troubling to me.

more than 5 years ago

Software Piracy At the Beijing Branch Office?

MrZaius Re:He's Right (614 comments)

This is about more than just pirated software. Depending on where the Beijing office got the software, it could be carrying a malware payload that handed over back doors to all of their computers. China is well known for using corporate (and other) espionage to further their political agenda. Hooking into company systems to exfiltrate any possibly valuable data is far too common.

Quite right. Given my druthers, the first and most important thing I'd do is strip them of any and all administrative rights and, most importantly, re-Ghost the boxes nightly or run them as thin clients. The security situation is so poor in-country that you shouldn't even consider letting the local staff manage their own stuff if we're talking about such a tiny little office. Five guys wouldn't warrant a separate sysadmin in the states, and it still doesn't abroad when you've seen malfeasance on this level and are operating in a country with a massive corporate espionage problem. Again I say, strip them of their rights.

Make sure you have a couple of spare, online, patched workstations ready to go for when one fails 'cause you don't want them to have to have local admin rights. Grab yourself an IP-KVM, too and make sure you have two ISPs running into the office, even if the second is just some dinky little 256kbps line. That'll give you the capability of having them jack a KVM-enabled computer into a switch or firewall for diagnostic purposes if one of the two networks goes down and you can't remote into those devices. Likewise, it'll give you the capability of taking a peak at a bad NIC prior to having them swap a workstation out for one of the spares. Having Ghost on the network or something like it would be useful at that time to allow you to replace the no-longer-spare equipment you've had to have them put into use.

If I could get approval to do so, I might also lock down their workstation's USB ports and optical media to the point of uselessness and drop a monitor-less *NIX box with good AV software somewhere in the office with a ton of USB ports and DVD-ROM drives to remotely scan and introduce anything they think they might need onto the network myself. This should, of course, also be paired with an HTTP proxy that blocks any sort of executable code beyond the stuff that's used to render a normal webpage from coming in. I'd then set up MAC address whitelisting on all networks, wired and wireless. This would be a PITA, but it would give you an extremely high level of control over the network there, going far beyond what you have now, and limiting any practical attack vectors to hardware based attacks (keyloggers) and viral attacks embedded in flash apps, PDFs, etc. I don't think I'd bother with this step back home, but it seems worth it in China. Of course, this carries with it some rather dramatic drawbacks if your "design" shop is doing software engineering, and probably shouldn't be considered. Seems perfectly reasonable if we're just talking about artists or a bunch of people running AutoCAD.

Protecting your proprietary knowledge is probably well worth the level of hassle you'd be subjecting everyone to, yourself included, by doing the above.

more than 5 years ago

Senator Prods Microsoft On H-1B Visas After Layoff Plans

MrZaius Re:Republican? (574 comments)

You forget that neither of our parties tows a truly conservative party line anymore, and that the newly nationalistic neo-conservative Republican party recently adopted an anti-immigration theme as one of its core messages. We wouldn't be having this conversation if the H-1B employees had just been employed overseas.

more than 5 years ago

Britannica Goes After Wikipedia and Google

MrZaius Re:Huh? (385 comments)

-1, Didn't Read the Article

The changes won't appear on the site until they have been reviewed by someone paid by Britannica.

They must really be on the ropes. They're into full-on me-tooism, but obviously don't get what makes Wikipedia awesome at all.


They may not be paid, but editors of the German "de" Wikipedia do almost exactly the same thing through their use of MediaWiki's "FlaggedRevisions" feature. Not something I'd ever endorse a thriving wiki to do, but something that can and has been done, and something that's being proposed right now on the English wiki.

more than 5 years ago

The Secret Lives of Ubuntu and Debian Users

MrZaius Re:I've been using linux since the mid nineties. (501 comments)

She's never installed a package and she never will

You must think highly of her.

Or they maintain rigid change control practices in the home. If we were to hear her side of this story, I'm willing to put down cold hard cash that she requires that changes to non-sysadmin household policies (switching milk brands at the grocery market or moving from Netflix to Blockbuster) be preceded by three forms and two meetings. You wouldn't believe the number of consultants they hired to write specifications and the amount of capital they raised for the separate fund site before they decided to order their very own test tube baby.

more than 5 years ago


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