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Comments

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The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy

Simulant All my LEDs still work. (585 comments)

hmmm.... I've got 20 or so LED bulbs in my house, installed over the last 2-3 years and have not lost one. Most are Phillips, purchases when on sale. The most I ever paid for one was about $15 and the latest ones cost $5.

I've gotten better results with LED than either CFL or incandescent.

3 days ago
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The Minecraft Parent

Simulant Re:half nonsense (173 comments)

It's relatively safe environment if you run your own invite-only server. If the setup is too much to handle, you can rent one.

about two weeks ago
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Verizon Working On a La Carte Internet TV Service

Simulant Re:It is not just the "extra" channels... (108 comments)

It sounded to me like the author just wants some of us to continue to subsidize his ESPN viewing.
There is literally nothing on basic cable I miss after 15 years of no cable. HBO was extra anyway.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Killing Off Windows Phone Brand Name In Favor of Just Windows

Simulant Re:Abject brand mismanagement (352 comments)

Microsoft is trying to be Google and Apple at the same time and they will likely fail badly at both.
All because they can never stop growing....

about three weeks ago
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L.A. Times National Security Reporter Cleared Stories With CIA Before Publishing

Simulant Re:No surprise here (188 comments)

The US mainstream press has rarely been more than a non-analytical echo chamber for US policy, or worse yet, has/had an agenda of it's own (Hearst... Murdoch) What good is a press that merely repeats what the government says? A press that gives equal credence to two sides no matter how ridiculous one (or both) might be? A press that only bares it's teeth for scandal no matter how inconsequential? A press beholden to advertisers over readers?

At least now, we have variety at our fingertips if we wish, but it's hard not to be cynical about any of it. I personally think that Google News has been the best thing to happen to news in this century as at least we can now easily get a (theoretically) random sampling of all kinds of coverage, flawed though that coverage may be. It makes it a little easier for the critical reader to figure out what's really going on.

about three weeks ago
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Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?

Simulant Re:Binoculars (187 comments)

Binoculars won't cut it if you want to see Jupiter's moons or Saturn's rings. Even if they have the magnification you still need a tripod to hold the view steady and you really need something with an equatorial mount to follow the objects or they will slip out of view very quickly I used to have a 90mm refractor with a manual equatorial mount (you had to rotate with knobs).. I'd go electric if I got one today... especially if a bunch of kid's are taking turns looking through the thing.

about a month ago
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Microsoft Surface Drowning?

Simulant Re:My wife has a Twist too... (337 comments)

I find that my Twist has twitchy or broken touch & mouse control. All pointers can randomly jump around no matter if you are using the trackpoint, touchpad or external mouse. Touch misses so often it's practically useless for anything other than launching apps. Auto-rotate is unreliable and frequently sticks in the wrong orientation. I expect (or hope) that these hardware problems don't exist on the Surface but I would still expect any Windows 8.1 hybrid to act like a slow tablet and mediocre laptop combined into one device which frequently does what you did not mean to ask it to.... Even the appearance is hard to get used to. I can't see the windows controls/scroll bars very well, for instance, no matter the color scheme.

about a month and a half ago
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Microsoft Surface Drowning?

Simulant Re:I have a Lenovo Miix 2 11" (337 comments)

I've got a Lenovo Twist and it is, by far, the most frustrating device I've ever used. It's partially Lenovo's fault for bloatware & minor hardware issues but mostly I blame it on the schizophrenic OS that is Windows 8.1. Want to use it as tablet? Try manipulating that file with your fingers when a default app takes you to the desktop. Want to use it as a desktop? Whoops... That file just opened up in some crippled, full screen metro app...
Just want to login to the damn thing? Why is the screen stuck upside down? I just pulled a neck muscle.... <Sigh>

about a month and a half ago
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Microsoft's CEO Says He Wants to Unify Windows

Simulant Re:Yay.. This is easy to imagine (322 comments)

You'd think someone would have thought to allow separate default apps for desktop/tablet mode. Launching a file from one mode only to have it open in the other is aggravating hell... desktop windows controls don't work well with touch input.. not on my 8.1 tab/laptop anyway. And if you went the other way, you find yourself in a crippled metro app that doesn't have the function you were looking for.

about 2 months ago
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New Microsoft CEO Vows To Shake Up Corporate Culture

Simulant Translation (204 comments)


LAYOFFS

about 3 months ago
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IRS Lost Emails of 6 More Employees Under Investigation

Simulant Re:Massive conspiracy (465 comments)


Having worked in government IT for a bit, I'd say their story is entirely plausible and not entirely unreasonable. How many years of backups should they be required to keep? But hey, don't worry. Congress shall pass laws mandating backups and we will spend millions on tapes to be used once until
subpoenaed.

"Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence"

In any case this is some petty, inconsequential, political bullshit we are talking about. Did the extra scrutiny result in anything? Anything at all?

about 3 months ago
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Seattle Approves $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage

Simulant Re:Who hires workers they don't need? (1040 comments)

Oh, but cheap, exploitable labor is the Capitalist's god-given right. Just another commodity.

about 4 months ago
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Study: Stop Being So Cynical, You Could Give Yourself Dementia

Simulant Really? (153 comments)

Tell you what... If you stopping making up misleading headlines I'll try and not be so cynical about them.

about 4 months ago
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U.S. Drone Attack Strategy Against Al-Qaeda May Be Wrong

Simulant Re:Whats the alternative? (433 comments)

IMHO,

Ultimately this is a culture war and will only be won over the long term. For starters we could push back against Saudi Arabia instead of coddling them. I don't see how anyone can expect to win a war against Islamic fundamentalist terror when the spiritual center of Islam is controlled by fundamentalists with unlimited funds from oil sales. We also need to promote a more equitable distribution of wealth, world wide. Poverty breeds violence, ignorance, and fundamentalists of many stripes.

We could quit behaving like hypocrites, ignoring blatant and obscene human rights abuses by our Islamic dictatorship "allies" because it's profitable in the short term.

We could quit pissing our pants at the thought of terrorism, accept that it may occasionally happen (as it always has), and carry on instead of over reacting. Islamic fundamentalist terrorism has never represented the existential threat to western society that some would have us believe. It may be a thorn in our side for quite some time but the pain and damage it inflicts is entirely absorbable.

We should quit using this pathetic war on terror as an excuse to destroy ourselves.

about 4 months ago
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Gen. Keith Alexander On Metadata, Snowden, and the NSA: "We're At Greater Risk"

Simulant Re:Irrelevant data (238 comments)

The reaction to 9/11 pretty much proves that the US will accept no risk unless it's self inflicted.

about 4 months ago
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Do Embedded Systems Need a Time To Die?

Simulant Re:Terrible idea (187 comments)

Even Nexus is only good for a few years.... I'm holding my breath for another year of N4 updates.

about 5 months ago
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Could Google's Test of Hiding Complete URLs In Chrome Become a Standard?

Simulant Re:And the question of the day is... (327 comments)

Absolutely. For example Microsoft's misguided decisions to do things like hide file extensions by default and obscure the way files are organized with with My Documents, symlinks, and .ini files which hide true directory names have been counter productive in my experience. These decisions only serve to assist a limited subset of users who never venture beyond routine computer use and totally screws them over when they do.

about 5 months ago
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Could Google's Test of Hiding Complete URLs In Chrome Become a Standard?

Simulant Re:And the question of the day is... (327 comments)

There's got to be some acceptable balance between ease of use and NOT keeping users ignorant.
What constitutes ease of use for my mother is not necessarily the same as ease of use for my kids. It seems to me that we should be designing software that will teach our kids useful skills while not deliberately obfuscating the way technology works rather than for a previous generation who may never need or want to know what's really happening.

about 5 months ago

Submissions

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The true cost of Microsoft

Simulant Simulant writes  |  about 4 months ago

Simulant (528590) writes "A recent blog post on Microsoft's Volume Licensing Website attempts to clarify just what requires a CAL (Client Access License). The answer appears to be more or less everything on your network if you have Windows servers doing network basics like DNS & DHCP. According to MS, not only do all your network printers and other gear need CALs, but also your e-commerce customers, once they've authenticated to any software running on Windows.

The ridiculous CAL situation has never gotten the outrage it deserves with most of us being ignorant or in denial. With more and more MS audits happening these days perhaps we can spread the word."

Link to Original Source
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Google Enterprise Support Experiences?

Simulant Simulant writes  |  about 5 years ago

Simulant (528590) writes "I like Google as much as the next geek but I'm having reservations about referring customers to Google Apps. I recently had a case where a paying Google Apps customer's email was deleted (by what appears to be an unknown person with access to the account) without their consent or knowledge. This has happened twice.

The first time Google enterprise support was contacted I got nowhere. It took a few days to get a response and when I did, the technician kept insisting that she could do nothing unless I provided the SMTP message-ids of the missing email. She never explained how I was supposed to obtain the message IDs for mail that no longer existed. She also ignored direct questions about the availability of backup and restore services, instead directing me to the Postini website after the third or fourth query. I gave up at this point, primarily because there had been long delays between the time the mail was deleted, noticed, and reported. I also suspected accidental deletion on the part of the user. The experience left a bad taste in my mouth, though.

A month later, it happened again only this time ALL of the mail in the same user's account disappeared. This time I called rather than emailed and was unfortunately assigned to the same technician who again, was slow to respond. When she did, I go this:

"I've taken a close look at this account, and I didn't see anything suspect in the recent activity- about 4000 messages were manually deleted, and about 15000 messages manually had labels removed from them, but it looks like it was done by someone who was legitimately logged into the account."

Now, is it just me or does the deletion of 4000 messages (all of them, in this case) from someone's account without their knowledge not count as "suspect" activity?

After further delays I was finally able to get a log of recent account access where I discovered that the user's account had been repeatedly accessed from an IP in another city. The technician also failed to note this as suspect activity though she did point out that my logging into the account AFTER the mail had been deleted was anomalous.

What I still don't know, despite asking repeatedly is:

  * When, exactly was the mail deleted? (and by which method)
  * What is the official Google policy or ability to restore data in the case of accidental or malicious deletions?

  My questions to Slashdot are:

* What has been your experience with Google Apps support?
* Do you think that I got a reasonable response?"
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Cheap RAID Alternatives for home networks.

Simulant Simulant writes  |  more than 5 years ago

simulant (528590) writes "After running single drives with occasional backups for years now , I finally decided to give RAID a try at home. My media collection is over 1TB now and a little built-in redundancy would be nice. (I'd still back up, of course but a less frequently... not much of my data is irreplaceable).

And so the nightmare began.... I've got a lot of extra equipment lying around and did not plan to buy anything other than three new 1TB drives, the cheapest I could find. (probably Mistake #1)

My first thought was to simply install the new drives in my existing Win2k3 server. This server was already full though and I didn't want a lot of downtime so I decided to build a dedicated NAS box instead. I had some low power mini-itx boards that I thought would be perfect and I'd heard of free solutions like OpenFiler and FreeNAS. After reading up on both FN and OF, I decided FreeNAS would best suit my needs so I built a test box with a bunch of random drives. These drives weren't the same size so I didn't use RAID on the test box but, it worked and I really liked the result (though performance was a bit slower than I would have liked) So... I ordered the three 1 TB SATA drives.

Attempt #1

    My mini ITX boards have only 1 PCI slot and no on board sata so I had to install a sata card for the new drives. No problems there. I installed the card and the three drives and proceeded to build a RAID5 array in FreeNAS. It takes A LONG TIME to build a RAID 5 array on cheap hardware. I was looking at about 24 hours. Half way through, two of the drives started reporting errors and Hardware ECC Recovered time went through the floor (lower is bad) After a few more attempts (and several days) I finally gave up and decided to return the two drives. It took a week or so to get the replacements.

Meanwhile, I played around with my FreeNAS system and a single drive and decided that performance was simply too slow. The onboard NIC was only 100Mbps and since I had to use the PCI slot for a sata controller I couldn't put a 1000Mbps card in the box. 8-9MBps was about the best I could get over the network. Not really good enough. (btw, this first FreeNas box with 4 drives in it drew about 90 Watts)

Attempt #2

    I decided to switch to an Athlon 64 based mAtx board with more slots and onboard sata. I also installed a 1Gbps NIC. This was going to suck some more power but, maybe with Cool & Quiet and good power settings I could minimize the power usage. I also began to re-think Freenas, as cool as it was, If I was going to set up another box with more or less the same specs as my current server, I may as well just make it the server and get rid of the old one. Why run two boxes if you don't have to? So, somewhat reluctantly, I decided to ditch FreeNAS and install Win2k3 on the new box. (I did play with OpenFiler as well, just for kicks, but since I use my server for much more than just storage, Win2k3 works better for me. BTW, if you really just want a simple NAS Box, I would have to say FreeNAS is superior, at least in the ease-of-use department, to OpenFiler at this stage)

    My replacement drives arrived, I installed all three drives in the Win2k3 box and proceeded to build a RAID5 array (yes I know... Windows software RAID sucks but I don't have the money for a hardware RAID controller). 12 hours later..... one of the new drives has errors, Windows is reporting it can't re-allocate bad blocks, and Hardware ECC Recovered is through the floor again. Crap.

Ok... so maybe RAID 5 on cheap huge drives is not such a great idea. The rebuild time is way too long (though in Windows it appears you can use the array during a rebuild) and these cheap drives have too many bad blocks. I'm not getting a very warm feeling about this. Well... I've got two good 1 TB drives so let's just mirror those and see what happens. I remove the bad drive and configure the other two as a RAID 1. The rebuild takes about 12 hours but it is successful. Cool. Now lets move some data around.

    I fill up the array at about 40MBps over the network which is quite acceptable. ( Though, can anyone explain why it takes so much longer to sync the array than to fill it up?) It runs for a day and then there's brown out in my neighborhood. Another 12 hour rebuild. Next day, I'm moving more data around and the drive I'm copying from (on a different machine) experiences some sort of read error and my new server locks up while copying. After 20 minutes of trying to kill the copy, I finally have to hit reset. Blam... another 12 hour rebuild. Soon after that completes, I reboot after installing a piece of software and, despite a clean reboot, the raid1 array is re-syncing again! (btw,performance takes about a 50% hit during a resync)

    So.. Now I've got this nice new server (140w, btw) with lots of space but it's in rebuild mode 80% of the time and I've probably spend 40 or so hours on this project, originally intended to be a simple capacity upgrade.

    I've learned alot about RAID in the process and I'm coming to the conclusion that it does not make much sense on cheap hardware or large drives. It seems odd to me that RAID requires a sector to sector match on each drive, that a reboot even when the drives aren't being accessed (or being read only) triggers a re-build, there there isn't some sort of quick verify mode, and that there isn't some less anal retentive system which can provide similar redundancy at a low level. Is there some consumer grade RAID replacement that just matches files rather than sectors/blocks?

I've got drives with bad blocks that are still useful and running 5 years later I just avoid the bad blocks.

At this point I think it's back to single drives and after hours rsync backups. Are there any other solutions out there?"
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Simulant Simulant writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Simulant (528590) writes "Come on guys... this is arguably more important than Vista's release to Windows sys admins.

Windows PowerShell 1.0 is now available. It's a massive improvement over the old command prompt and is available for XP and Windows Server 2003, as well as Vista.

If the object oriented environment doesn't suit you, you'll still want this if for no other reasons than you can now 'cd' into UNC paths and use backs slashes & forward slashes interchangeably in path names. Tons of other good stuff including regex support.

This is most definitely worth a discussion on Slashdot.

Download at:

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/technol ogies/management/powershell/download.mspx

Developer's Blog at:

http://blogs.msdn.com/PowerShell/"

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