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How One School District Handled Rolling Out 20,000 iPads

Voyager529 There's only one way that that's a good idea (285 comments)

It's only a good idea if they can negotiate a peering agreement with Verizon so that they don't end up getting the slow internet anyway...but then Verizon will be mad at them and try to get the internet on their side by writing a public nastygram, which might actually be a good thing because Verizon will find itself on the wrong end of the "Think of the Children!" argument.

3 days ago

Critroni Crypto Ransomware Seen Using Tor for Command and Control

Voyager529 Re:Backups (122 comments)

As so often, the solution is called "Backup".

Also you could not store your documents in the "My Documents" folder, make a folder on your C drive, store your docs, pics & important stuff in that. So if you do get cryptoransomed they will have done the wrong files.

That will only take you so far. With so many programs defaulting to the My Documents folder, it'd be annoying at best to have to point to c:\realdocs "because viruses". The user could point the "My Documents" folder to c:\realdocs, but now we're in the same boat again. Even if a user decided it was worth the hassle to deprecate the use of the system variable, c:\realdocs would still be accessible by the same user. From Windows' security standpoint, there's no difference between the user being attacked by ransomware, and the user adding a password to an Excel sheet. Thus, ransomware doesn't need root privileges to mess up a user's files.

Even beyond that, the next generation of ransomware wouldn't exactly need a foundational rewrite to go to %user%\recent and see where those files point to and encrypt all the .docx, .xlsx, and .qif files there. I'm sure that somewhere in userland, there's some indication as to where the Dropbox/OneDrive/Gdrive folders are, and encrypting all that stuff. Even less complicated would be to search all available hard drives for user generated file types. .dll files wouldn't be worth it, but .qbw files very much would be. Ultimately, trying to thwart an attack of this nature would be of limited success, because from the most literal of standpoints, the virus is doing nothing different than what a user would be doing.

Amongst the things that makes this kind of attack so successful is that very problem: if you're trying to prevent outbound traffic at the firewall, you've already lost, basically. How does security software distinguish. technically, between a cryptovirus taking a file hostage, and a user passwording a file with WinRAR and uploading it to SpiderOak? That, good friends, is a question that I pay ESET a nontrivial sum to discuss and determine.

4 days ago

Google To Stop Describing Games With In-App Purchases As 'Free'

Voyager529 Exposed Stats? (139 comments)

See. what I thought would be a useful stat to show would be "the average amount that those who spend, spend". In other words, if Google showed how much was spent on a given "freemium" app by those who spent >$0. This would give users a meaningful metric with which to decide whether it's worth it to attempt to use the app, because they could, on average, expect to spend that amount. If an app has a spending average of precisely $4.99, and the pro version costs $4.99, then it's fair to assume that users only pay for the 'pro' key within the app, and it won't nickel-and-dime all day. If $25 is the going rate, it's clear that the game is a skinner box and isn't worth it.

Of course, the bleeding obvious issue is that developers wouldn't be too fond of that number getting too high, which people would be less inclined to do once they have the feeling of going 'above average'.

about a week ago

Microsoft CEO To Slash 18,000 Jobs, 12,500 From Nokia To Go

Voyager529 Re:Don't ask; I'm not telling ... (383 comments)

You should have offered to help.
For $200/hour + expenses.

Too cheap.

You're negating the value of the "plus expenses" part when paired with a little creativity...

"I'd never make it there in time to help you if I didn't rent that Aston Martin!"
"The only place to eat between my location and your office was Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. I certainly didn't want to drive out of my way and delay this further!"
"The only laptop capable of handling that kind of process was the top-tier Macbook Pro...but I negotiated a discount on the iPad that I gave to the CEO in your name to ensure that you get full credit for leveraging the synergies!"

about a week ago

FreeBSD 9.3 Released

Voyager529 Re:What is BSD good for? (77 comments)

So I am honestly asking, what is BSD good for. I presently use CentOS and I am perfectly happy with it but for some reason BSD has a magical "hard core" allure. So what I should ask is: what excuse do I need to use it?

Three reasons I personally can think of. First, NetBSD specifically is a fork intended to run on basically anything with a microprocessor. CentOS will run on x86 hardware, and in the form of Pidora and similar, runs on ARM. Try it on an Itanium or SPARC or PowerPC Mac, and things get a smidge more interesting.

Second, ZFS. Now cue those who believe that file system nirvana is found in btrfs or ReiserFS or HFS+, but I'm a huge fan of ZFS as a file system. If you're like me, you'll be using BSD in the form of one of its descendants, like FreeNAS or NAS4Free, where ZFS makes lots of other things much easier.

Finally, the license. I'm neither a programmer nor a recompiler so my use of BSD licensed software is essentially identical to my use of GPL software ('free as in beer', with the occasional bug report). For purists and programmers, there is a difference in what is and isn't allowed under the respective licenses.

about a week ago

With New Horizons Spacecraft a Year Away, What We Know About Pluto

Voyager529 Re:Anyone have Cliff Notes? (128 comments)

There's actually an even dumber reason than that.

The RTG on New Horizons was a spare from Cassini. It was very much "use it or lose it" as finding more plutonium for a RTG is getting more difficult every day.

Oh c'mon, you're trying to tell me that *nobody* at NASA had the common sense to call a few Libyan nationalists and order some used pinball machine parts off of Amazon?

about two weeks ago

Ode To Sound Blaster: Are Discrete Audio Cards Still Worth the Investment?

Voyager529 Discrete? Yes. Creative? Not so much. (502 comments)

Now admittedly, I'm a bit bitter about a problem that's not really Creative's fault. I bought an Audigy 2 ZS for my laptop using PC Card...and then the next wave of laptops only came with an Expresscard slot. So, I ponied up again for an X-Fi card that fit the Expresscard slot...and then laptops stopped coming with those. Now I fully admit that Creative isn't to blame for that, but it is sad just the same. However, I digress.

I use my onboard audio for nearly all of my listening needs. My internal speakers are utter crap (I think one is blown, actually), and thus, even if Creative added all the super-duper offboard processing in the world, it wouldn't sound any better than what those speakers can pump. Adding a nice set of Sennheiser or Denon headphones, I can start to hear some of the MP3 sizzle in the 128kbps MP3s, and a handful of 192's, depending on the song and the encoder and settings used. Even playing video games, the difference between 'Good Enough' and 'X-Fi Good' never comes into play, because it's the nuts-and-bolts of the big picture that will make or break it in either direction - if the sound effects and musical score is good, the miniscule difference an audio chipset will make has nothing to do with it. If they're crap, a ZxR processor isn't going to change anything.

That being said, I still use offboard audio hardware on a regular basis. I use my Rane SL3 to DJ with Serato. Even if it wasn't a de facto hardware dongle to unlock the Serato software, there's no motherboard chipset that supports 2ms latency from end-to-end of the audio path. In other words, my SL3 can reliably take an audio signal from my turntable, translate it into speed and directional data, and send MP3 audio back out, in 2ms. Creative doesn't make hardware like that. The story is pretty similar for my Audio6 (which I use for Traktor) and my Connectiv (which I used to use for Torq and Deckadance, though it required closer to 5ms latency to be stable). I have a MobilePre USB that I use occasionally for XLR and 1/4" recording. These are niche products for niche purposes, but the fact that your local Guitar Center sells a range of these kinds of interfaces demonstrates that there's indeed a market for discrete audio hardware. Creative just doesn't make it.

about two weeks ago

Alcatel-Lucent's XG-FAST Pushes 10,000Mbps Over Copper Phone Lines

Voyager529 Re:Meanwhile, in DSL-land (149 comments)

Your ideas are intriguing and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter. No seriously, I'm with you on the 3mbps/sec DSL situation and am wondering what software/hardware you use for this. I see this as being quite handy on Patch Tuesday and similar. I have half-ideas as to how to make it work, but I'm interested to hear about your tried-and-true setup.

about two weeks ago

Microsoft Kills Off MapPoint and Streets and Trips In Favor of Bing Maps

Voyager529 Re:And, probaly, nothing of value was lost. (174 comments)

I for one had never even heard of these products, and I don't think I've ever encountered a web site using it. All I see is Google Maps when sites need to do something with mapping.

Well, duh. MapPoint and S&T was a plastic-disc software title, intended for end users to do stuff without an internet connection. See kids, in the days between the joys of attempting to re-fold a paper map and always-on, always-connected internet streamed maps, companies got all the street information together and sold a software release in a perpetual licensing format. People could then take their laptops and a serial (later USB and/or Bluetooth) GPS add-on and navigate with a laptop, without worrying about data plans, cellular outages, or getting stuck on a necessary phone call that brought into question one's allegiance to accurate navigation.

In the case of MapPoint, routes and distances were mass queried and used in tandem with Access and Excel to make geographical and topological data useful in a business context.

Websites are going to use Google maps (or yahoo/mapquest/bing, to a much lesser extent) because their APIs allow embedded maps nice and easily. For folks who need offline information, Google Maps was never intended to fill that space. Now, it seems, Delorme is the sole holdout for plastic disc mapping software.

about two weeks ago

Microsoft Kills Off MapPoint and Streets and Trips In Favor of Bing Maps

Voyager529 Re:Dang. What's next, Encarta? (174 comments)

Annoyingly, it's not just Encarta. It's seemingly any offline reference title. Grolier's is paywalled to oblivion, Britannica gives the first two paragraphs, Simon & Schuster haven't sold a reference app in years, and Wikipedia is, well, Wikipedia.

Now yes, the internet is how we get data around fastest, and even CDs were a de facto subscription since you'd buy a copy every year or two to stay current. I get that. Where plastic disc media had some usefulness to it was that, for K-12 schooling, it was easier to cite them as one would cite a traditional printed volume. Additionally, even if not the most bleeding edge information, most information contained therein would remain relatively consistent from year to year (especially ones on historical matters; technological matters, less so for obvious reasons). It also provided a baseline with which to compare other sources. If Encarta and Wikipedia disagreed, it'd pose the question of 'why'. Was there some sort of major breakthrough that allows Wikipedia to show its strengths as being an up-to-the-minute, crowdsourced reference, or is the Wikipedia article amidst an edit war? At least with Encarta, there's some semblance of "information freeze" where it's accurate to the point where the disc was pressed, and can be relied upon as such.

Sending reference works "to the cloud" makes sense, until companies paywall the whole thing, you don't know what you're really getting when you fork over your Mastercard, and it causes people like me to wax nostalgic for the plastic disc for well-written, relatively unbiased descriptions of WWII battles.

about two weeks ago

Microsoft Takes Down Domains

Voyager529 Re:No customer notification (495 comments)

Just wondering... Considering that their main domain was hijacked. How would you expect them to send email?

Using a Hotmail account.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Web Language That's Long-Lived, and Not Too Buzzy?

Voyager529 Re:Java (536 comments)

But in terms of long lived, go with Java. It has no buzz or the glory the pretty new things have and thats why its still in wide use in the enterprise.

I'm more of the persuasion that the reason why Java is still in widespread use in the enterprise is because it predates most other solutions and no one wants to pay between five and nine figures to replace the existing system.

Java is getting particularly annoying in that they're try to make the runtime environment more secure...and in doing so, have a tendency to break things to the point where it's a requirement to undo all the new security defaults in order to make the Java stuff actually load. Oracle has indicated that it will soon remove the ability to allow things to run by clicking 'yes/allow/run' to half a dozen warning error messages, which means that the amount of time and effort to make the JRE security requirements happy may eclipse the time saved in using it in the first place. Java is also a nonstarter on mobile devices. Finally, I've had major issues reminiscent of IE6 hell - $SOME_APPLET is only compatible with a particular version of the JRE and it's impossible to upgrade without breaking it, so people are stuck on that particular variant of Java.

Disclaimer: I haven't written a line of code since college. I have, however, had to support Java applets and, without exception, they cause these kinds of problems. I don't care if you use PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby, or .NET...just please...PLEASE spare the support staff the hell of dealing with end user Java sites.

about three weeks ago

Boston Trying Out Solar-Powered "Smart Benches" In Parks

Voyager529 Re:dismal state of batteries (119 comments)

If you have a compatible phone (predominantly Samsung, though a handful of LG units are also in the mix), this solves the problem. It does keep your phone from being anorexically thin, but I personally don't mind the extra heft. I generally get between 2 and 3 days out of a charge. This past weekend it lasted an entire ten hour drive as a GPS Nav courtesy of Waze (meaning GPS receiver and screen on the entire time, both notorious power suckers), through areas with spotty cell reception. They support NFC and come with a case.

I'm not affiliated with them in any way besides being a super happy customer. It single handedly determined whether I was going to replace my recently-broken HTC One with a One M8 or a Note 3. It was a no-brainer.

about three weeks ago

Evidence of a Correction To the Speed of Light

Voyager529 Re:CAR ANALOGY, SUCKAS! (347 comments)

In other words, the photon is like embarrassing photos of Kim Kardashian on TMZ, and a neutrino is like relevant news stories on Slashdot? :-P
Thanks for the help =)

about a month ago

Evidence of a Correction To the Speed of Light

Voyager529 Is there a 'less nerdy version'? (347 comments)

Genuine question - this seems like an interesting thing, but as someone whose expertise in physics is incredibly limited, is there anyone who would be willing to provide an "explain it like I'm five" version for an individual like myself who is interested in understanding the speed differences observed in the particles?

Thanks, internet!

about 1 month ago

Netflix Trash-Talks Verizon's Network; Verizon Threatens To Sue

Voyager529 Re:I want to see where this goes (364 comments)

If the ISP is concerned about this, they can just ask Netflix for a caching box.

I actually wondered whether it'd be practical for Netflix to offer this at a customer-by-customer level. Give them a magical device that's the lovechild of an AT&T Microcell and a Western Digital MyCloud drive. End users can't access the Microcell at all; they're just widgets hooked up to the router. Have Netflix tie a particular magic box to a particular customer's Netflix account. Then, Netflix can send the user's instant queue titles to the magic box during off-peak hours to help distribute the load. Additionally, some variant of bittorrent-style swarming could help ease congestion on the tier 1 providers by minimizing the amount of traffic needed from them. When users want to watch content from their instant queue, they stream it from the magic box, no buffering, no quality degradation, no need for bits from Cogent during peak hours. Everyone wins.

about a month and a half ago

AT&T Charges $750 For One Minute of International Data Roaming

Voyager529 Re:t-mobile (321 comments)

... just sayin
Every one of their new plans they have unlimited data including international.

It's among the reasons I too am a customer of theirs. It's also what worries me about the Sprint merger. I have a gut feeling that we'll end up with a Sprint-like T-Mobile (not super-evil, but still a huge corp), rather than a T-Mobile like Sprint (a company that seems to go out of its way to make life miserable for Ma Bell and VZW).

about a month and a half ago

Free Wi-Fi Coming To Atlanta's Airport

Voyager529 Re:Used to be billed to the boss... (135 comments)

WiFi is the entertainment system that keeps you from getting bored at the airport.

Back in my day, if you wanted internet on your laptop, you needed an actual cable long enough to go from your phone jack to your dial-up modem...and somehow, my parents survived!

about a month and a half ago

Free Wi-Fi Coming To Atlanta's Airport

Voyager529 Because Airport Wi-Fi sucks (135 comments)

First, in order for airport wi-fi to not-suck, you'll need a massive subnet with a TTL of no more than 30 minutes. Yes, I've been in airports where a /24 subnet was apparently just dandy...

Second, everyone who's in an airport seems to want to stream Netflix or something like that; I do hope that Netflix throws a peering widget their way, because the thousands of iPads in that airport will strain the pipe pretty efficiently.

Third, you're on a single collision domain, half-duplex, along with everyone else. 5GHz may help matters, but 2.4 will still be needed for compatibility, and if you're stuck on it, you'll probably get useful speed out of a dial-up optimized RDP session an an SSH window, but the only way regular web browsing is ever worth it is if you have some absurdly early flight (5AM takeoff or similar), at which point 'using my computer' plays second fiddle to the better activity: sleep.

Sorry, I've just never seen it worth it. I always load up my hard drive before I go, and I've never regretted it.

The airport: the worst place to be in the cloud.

about a month and a half ago



No Windows 7 XP Mode for Sony Vaio Owners

Voyager529 Voyager529 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Voyager529 writes "While virtually every Core 2 Duo processor supports the hardware virtualization technology that powers the Windows 7 XP Mode, The Register UK reports that the Core 2 Duo processors in the Sony Vaio Z series laptops had the virtualization features intentionally crippled in the BIOS. Senior manager for product marketing Xavier Lauwaert stated that the QA engineers did this to make the systems more resilient against malicious code. He also stated that while they are considering enabling VT in some laptop models due to the backlash, the Z series are not among those being retrofitted."

Linux replacing Active Directory, but with AD UI?

Voyager529 Voyager529 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Voyager529 writes "In about three weeks, I graduate with a BS in Information Technology. The curriculum is largely Windows based. In the token Linux class I did take, my professor spent half the time talking about Roman coins, and the time that we did spend in Linux, we spent using the cat and ls commands, along with other simple scripting issues. These things are useful no doubt, but it seems to be a case of putting the cart before the horse.

Being as most of the system administration stuff I learned on Windows Server and Novell. I would like to learn more about how to administer a LAN using a Linux system as opposed to Windows Server. I tried using SuSe Enterprise Server in a virtual machine at one point. DHCP, DNS, and the like were pretty easy to pick up. The issue I ran into was trying to do the things that are done in Active Directory on the Windows side.

I know that this is slashdot, and all the purists will tell me that I should learn to do all of this on a command line and whatnot, and I don't entirely disagree with you. I just want a place to start. Is there a Linux distro that *gasp* emulates the interface of Windows Server to a sufficient extent that I wouldn't be completely lost in?

Thank you in advance!"


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