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At CIA Starbucks, Even the Baristas Are Covert

Zocalo Re:Yeah So? (241 comments)

Given that they apparently couldn't figure out how to work around the issue for themselves we might not be talking about the most imaginative bunch of case officers here. I can picture it now; they got a whole queue of people called "Bond, James Bond", "Jason Bourne" and "Jack Ryan". Hilarity ensues...

3 days ago
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On Independence for Scotland:

Zocalo Re:Probably a bad idea, but... (192 comments)

I'm in favour of it on behalf of Scottish self-governance, and as a Brit from the NW of England I can only imagine that the feeling that the government in London doesn't give a damn about the provinces is far worse than it is where I grew up. However, overall I think it would be a disaster for both countries. Scotland is much more Pro-EU and Anti-Conservative than the rest of Great Britain, so one likely outcome would be a Conservative victory in the next General Election, resulting in Cameron's promised referedum on EU membership going ahead with a likely victory for the anti-EU crowd in the referendum. Given the likely reaction from the rest of the EU to this, I don't imagine this would work out very well for the rest of the UK.

I'm also deeply concerned by the fact that Salmond's default response to any argument as to a potential problem is accuse people of being "wrong", "bullying", or whatever, but has in almost every instance failed to provide a plan for what the SDP will actually *do* to address the point should they be successful in getting a "Yes" vote. I'm really starting to think they have no idea what they are going to do in the event of gaining independance, other than to thrash out a plan in the aftermath of the vote - as if a half-baked plan is going to work for anyone. Finally, even if Scotland gains independance and manages a successful transition to higher GDP and wealth, does anyone *seriously* think that those benefits are going to be distributed where they are needed, and not simply end up in the back pockets of the politicians and business leaders that get to determine how the new nation is going to work?

about two weeks ago
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To prepare for a coronal mass ejection, I ...

Zocalo Head for the hills, or the coast, or... (151 comments)

CMEs usually lead to an enhanced chance of aurora, so if I'm in a suitable location it's more a case of getting the camera gear out and heading off to somewhere scenic and away from any major source of light pollution. Keep watching the skies, we could be in for something spectacular if it hits us head on.

about three weeks ago
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Is It Time To Split Linux Distros In Two?

Zocalo Re:No Need (282 comments)

I would say the same thing. The user can currently either choose a different "sub-distro" based on their primary flavour of choice, opt for a desktop/server specific spin, or just accept the current one distro to rule them all but just install the necessary packages for what they want approach. There really shouldn't be any need to split a Linux distro (or BSD distro for that matter) in two for this (and why stop there, why not a phone/tablet optimised version, or one for embedded devices...?) - just provide a specific spin for desktop that includes a selection of GUIs and another for servers that includes a broader selection of alternative server daemons and maybe a simple GUI for those that really need it. Apply some task specific optimizations to the default configuration files for bonus points and off we go.

about three weeks ago
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GSOC Project Works To Emulate Systemd For OpenBSD

Zocalo Re:Er? (314 comments)

Where, exactly, do I state that I am putting a GUI on a server? Perhaps you got confused when I mentioned Gnome requiring SystemD as an example of how applications making SystemD a dependency was forcing distros into a Hobson's Choice of either adopting SystemD whether they want to or not, or going through a lot of pain to replace it with an alternative when it breaks major dependencies like Gnome? RHEL, like many distros, includes Gnome - but how many of those distros have adopted SystemD mostly as a result of this, not because it is better or worse than the alternatives?

Note also that I point out that the dependencies work in *both* directions; as antientropic points out Gnome requiring SystemD is absolutely an issue with the Gnome team and nothing to do with SystemD, but it does have implications in that it helps build a mess of inter-dependencies that is making it increasingly hard to strip systems down to the minimum. RHEL's insistance on NetworkManager by default, with all the baggage that brings, doesn't inspire confidence either, as this is apparently one of the next daemon in SystemD's sights - maybe SystemD can improve it, but I'm not holding my breath.

Anyway, regardless of that, we've made our choice and moved to BSD; SystemD played a significant part in that, but it definitely wasn't the only factor, as I noted in my OP. ?

about three weeks ago
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DNA sequencing of coffee's best use:

Zocalo Re:Context (228 comments)

Improving the qualities of robusta or the hardiness of arabica, either works for me. I love the smell and taste of a well prepared coffee, but the increasing use of robusta has started to mess with my digestive system for some reason (I suspect the part that makes robusta taste bitter) making me feel like I've drunk acid. Adding sugar or salt (depending on the chain) helps a bit, but the result has been to pretty much stop me from buying coffee to drink from the usual high-street chains that are all we available here, and my attempts to offer feedback in the form of suggesting a "premium" high-arabica based brew don't seem to be getting very far.

about three weeks ago
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GSOC Project Works To Emulate Systemd For OpenBSD

Zocalo Re:Er? (314 comments)

I have three main issues with SystemD that might help you understand where some of us are coming from:

1. It effectively works as a monolithic replacement for several daemons, contra to core UNIX design tenets, and even though some of those sub-daemons can be swapped out with an alternative, often that works by running the second daemon in parallel - you can't actually disable the SystemD equivalent, let alone remove it altogether. This makes troubleshooting much more complicated when something goes wrong, especially if you have booted a system from a recovery disk to troubleshoot after a crash, compromise, or whatever and can no longer directly access several of the key sources of information necessary to do that.

2. Because of the growing number of packages that depend on SystemD, and vice-versa, it's creating a huge mess of package inter-dependencies that mean that it's getting almost impossible to build a stripped down and hardened server. Ballmer might have been right with his "Cancer" comment, he just wasn't specific enough: Gnome requires SystemD, $distro wants to bundle Gnome, therefore $distro adopts SystemD - and forces the default install of all the other package dependencies that go with it, thereby increasing the attack surface of the system. So much for hardening systems by removing all superflous code, huh?

3. All that cruft seems to be bogging the system down. We are currently migrating a large number (much larger than planned after initial results) of systems from RHEL to BSD - a decision taken due to general unhappiness with RHEL6, but SystemD pushed us towards BSD rather than another Linux distro - and in some cases are seeing throughput gains of greater than 10% on what should be equivalent Linux and BSD server builds. The re-learning curve wasn't as steep as we expected, general system stability seems to be better too, and BSD's security reputation goes without saying.

That said assuming that it "just works" a SystemD based desktop with everything from a desktop application down to the kernel talking through the same set of core services does sound like a nice idea. The problem is that most of us are not actually running Linux desktops; we're running servers and would just like the OS to mostly get the hell out of the way so we can get on with running whatever server daemons we are using. If SystemD were better architected - say a core PID1 init replacement, then a bunch of optional packages I don't even need to install if I want to use an alternative or not bother with at all, plus a massive clean up of the dependency hell that it has introduced - then I'd be a lot happier with it, but as it stands I just can't see including it on a hardened Internet facing server as being a remotely sane thing to do.

about three weeks ago
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Invasion of Ukraine Continues As Russia Begins Nuclear Weapons Sabre Rattling

Zocalo Re:Not the end... (789 comments)

Also, since both sides are talking via the UN and elsewhere neither side appears to have breached 6 either.

about a month ago
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Invasion of Ukraine Continues As Russia Begins Nuclear Weapons Sabre Rattling

Zocalo Re:Sigh... (789 comments)

Well, the like-for-like retaliation from Ukraine won't happen. One of the terms of Ukraine's independance was that they give up the nukes they had left over from the break up of the USSR, but their supposed pay back from that would be protection from NATO if Russia were to invade. Now that a full scale invasion of Eastern Ukraine is clearly underway that comment was almost certainly aimed at NATO in an attempt to give them pause while the Russians consolidate their position and get dug-in.

At this point in time, with almost no response by NATO/the West other than some obviously ineffectual sanctions, my money is on Russia successfully annexing enough of Eastern Ukraine and the Crimea (albeit as an "independant" state with its capital in Donetsk or Sevastopol) that it can resupply the Crimea via land from mainland Russia.

about a month ago
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You Got Your Windows In My Linux

Zocalo Re:Too late, we already bailed. (613 comments)

Likewise. In the process of migrating a considerable proportion of a large RHEL estate over to BSD here. A general lack of satisfaction with RHEL6 started our look at alternatives - including other Linux distros - but SystemD was our deciding factor in the making the slightly more drastic leap from Linux to BSD. Despite the dream of Linux on the Desktop, most of us are actually running Linux on servers with (hopefully) competent personnel, so we don't really need some cuddly desktop OS that needs to pander to the lowest level of luser or the additional cruft and abstraction layers that brings, let alone the mess of package dependencies that seems to be afflicting Linux at present. In some cases we're seeing significant perfomance gains for what, in theory, should be the same basic set of code so for us it's more performance for less cost, and possibly an interesting call with our RHEL rep when the first tranche of RHEL licenses come up a renewal we are not going to need...

The King is dead, long live the King!

about a month ago
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Ukraine Asks Zuckerberg to Discipline Kremlin Facebook Bots

Zocalo Re:Wait.... what? (254 comments)

Hmm, the plot thickens. I suspected it might just be a regional office based in Russia covering a large area of Eastern Europe that happens to include both Russia and The Ukraine that just happens to be located in Russia, which would have been a fairly sensible choice given that it has a both a larger on-line population and better technology infrastructure. That however does not appear to be the case at all. A quick search on Google shows that FB has been looking into opening a Russian office since early 2010, well before the conflict started, but while some of the stories from 2010 talk about it in the past tense, there is speculation in the future tense about it happening from 2012, and a map of FB offices around the world shows nothing in Russia. My guess is when they say "office", they really mean "department" or "desk", and it's actually most likely based either in the EU or the US.

about a month ago
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Ukraine Asks Zuckerberg to Discipline Kremlin Facebook Bots

Zocalo Re:Maybe, but maybe not... (254 comments)

That would be why I wrote "Ukrainians believe", but given the obvious bias shown by certain elements of the media on both sides of the conflict I don't think it much of a stretch that this could actually be happening. My point though was more about the general problem here in that most tend to be local enough to fall within the territory of the same regional office for a given company, and that office is within a country with a stake in the conflict, let alone one that has a track record for having poor freedom of the press, then accusations like this are probably inevitable. Now that the issue has been highlighted, we can only hope that FB et al think about how they might deal with such potential censorship in the future.

about a month ago
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Ukraine Asks Zuckerberg to Discipline Kremlin Facebook Bots

Zocalo Re:Maybe, but maybe not... (254 comments)

Reading between the lines of the article I think you probably got the gist of what happens, but missed the crux of the complaint. I get the impression that Ukrainians believe something like this is happening:

  1. 1. Pro-Ukraine poster makes a post.
  2. 2. Pro-Russian bots generate complaints into Facebook's automated systems.
  3. 3. The post gets automatically blocked.
  4. 4. OP appeals to the Ukrainian office to get it re-instated.
  5. 5. OP's appeal is denied because the Ukrainian office is actually in Russia and headed by an alledgedly non-neutral Russian.

There's definitely a potential problem there, and one that will probably be repeated in similar circumstances in the future. Seems to me that the best thing FB (or anyone else) can do in this situation is to remove oversight for posts made by both sides from regional offices in the area in question and hand them off to more neutral offices, at least for posts concerning the conflict.

about a month ago
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Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

Zocalo Re:Irreversible? (708 comments)

Nope, just pointing out that using an absolute like "irreversible" isn't perhaps the smartest thing for the IPCC to do as it will almost certainly be seized on by the climate change deniers. Doubly so since it's demonstrably not the case except in our ability to use current science to resolve the problem.

Frankly the only things left in doubt for me about GW is just how much of a contribution mankind has made (it's certainly not zero, but I don't think it's 100% either), and whether the changes we *can* make to reduce the symptoms will have a worthwhile effect. Given enough will we can obviously reduce our GHG emissions significantly, migrate to cleaner fuels and generally move closer to living in balance with nature, but is that enough? The irony is that the more the AGW deniers are wrong about the level of our involvement, the greater the difference that we can make by changing our ways, but if they are right then we are all doomed to ride this out, wherever nature is taking us.

about a month ago
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Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

Zocalo Re:Irreversible? (708 comments)

"Irreversible" is a very strong word, and clearly incorrect. We're not so much talking about unscrambling eggs here as something than *can* be corrected, and in all likelihood *will* be corrected, just by leaving it alone and waiting long enough. The problem for us humans here today, of course, is that we won't we around that long and in all probability neither will many generations of our decendants. I fully expect the naysayers to latch on to this in combination with the historical record showing that the earth has been warmer than this in the past as further "evidence" that the IPCC has no clue in their rebuttals over the next few days.

about a month ago
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Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

Zocalo Re:Choosing Sides (826 comments)

Not just the Registry, but it's also rapidly becoming the equivalent of "svchost.exe". I probably wouldn't have a problem with SystemD if it were designed to be *much* more modular, but the design goals for the package seem to be to embrace, extend and extinguish a significant number of other processes essential to the Linux boot process and to bring most of it straight into PID1. That's just asking for major problems if/when anything goes wrong, and makes troubleshooting a nightmare because you have one huge black box instead of a bunch of daemons. If the SystemD team want to manage network startup, system logging, firewalls and whatever else takes their fancy, then fine, go right ahead; just do it in a way that makes it easier for system admins to disable it and plug in a more fully featured and/or stable alternative, and do it as a child of PID1 so if/when it does crash it doesn't bring the whole system down with it.

If you want an eye opener take a look at the dependency list for SystemD and those packages that depend on SystemD some time, note how entries appear in both lists, then consider the following questions: Bearing in mind that SystemD is the first thing that is loaded after the Kernel; does that look like a good design to you? Does it explain why so many distros have adopted it, given that many of those dependencies either won't work without SystemD underneath or require a considerable amount of customisation to use any alternative?

Still, there's always BSD.

about a month ago
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Iceland Stands Down On Travel Alert: From Orange To Red and Back Again

Zocalo Re:OMG (29 comments)

You missed my point, I think, I wasn't saying there was any connection with Eyjafjallajökull other than it might have prompted a slightly over cautious reaction in closing airspace before any actual airbourne dust became apparent. Sub-glacial volcanoes don't tend to throw huge volumes of ash into the atmosphere, so the main danger in the event of an eruption is far more likely to be flash floods than airbourne ash, although predicting the nature of a volcanic eruption is hardly an exact science so only time will tell. Of course, if Bardarbunga does manage to erupt with enough power to throw a sufficient volume of ash high enough into the atmosphere to cause chaos on a par with 2010 then an awful lot of ice is going to have to have been melted in the process, so there could still be a combination of physical damage from the hlaup and economic damage from disruption to air travel.

about a month ago
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Iceland Stands Down On Travel Alert: From Orange To Red and Back Again

Zocalo Re:OMG (29 comments)

Probably just erring on the side of caution after Eyjafjallajökull in 2010. There are a whole number of ways the potential eruption, if it happens all, could go but most of them are probably not going to result in massive volumes of ash being pumped into the atmosphere; the most likely outcome being that the melting ice will cool the magma and prevent anything hazardous reaching the atmosphere. The main danger from Iceland's sub-glacial eruptions is actually the hlaup, or outflow of water from beneath the glacier in the form of a potentially devastating flash flood, which is why people have already been evacuated from the highlands. If there is an eruption, I suspect the priority with be evacuating whichever sections of the coastal lowlands are going to be in the path of any outflow (somewhere along the South coast, I suspect), rather than rerouting aircraft in the area.

about a month ago
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BBC and FACT Shut Down Doctor Who Fansite

Zocalo Re:Anyone know what, exactly, was the issue? (186 comments)

Thanks for the clarification, I was leaning towards that being that case, but as others have noted that *really* need to be in the summary as it sets the tone of the entire story from "fan site shut down" to the far more accurate and far less newsworthy "site hosting lots of copyright infringing content shutdown". There's a big difference between the BBC exercising its rights to shutter outright copyright infringement and the BBC strong-arming a legit fan site for using too much content, and it's not that the latter gets DICE more page views and ad impressions.

about a month ago
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BBC and FACT Shut Down Doctor Who Fansite

Zocalo Anyone know what, exactly, was the issue? (186 comments)

FACT was involved, so my first guess was that they were hosting full episodes, or perhaps links to torrents, but according to TFA DWM had refused to carry any of the leaked episodes from the new series which seems unlikely for a site turning a blind eye to copyright, yet further up is the following quote: "Often times, having watched stuff there led to me purchasing the exact same content on iTunes as well as all the various other content available for Doctor Who", which implies they were hosting episodes, or at least extensive clips.

So, is this a case of major fansite being shutdown for using a more copyrighted material than the BBC was prepared to stomach (in which case where was the friendly letter asking them to "tone it down a bit, please"), a copyright infringement portal being shuttered for hosting/linking to aired episodes and other content, some kind of trademark issue, or just a domain grab by the BBC ("doctorwhomedia.co.uk" is a fairly nice domain name, afterall)?

about a month ago

Submissions

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Star Citizen takes the crowdfunding crown, reboots the Space Sim genre?

Zocalo Zocalo writes  |  about 2 years ago

Zocalo (252965) writes "Star Citizen, Chris Robert's attempt to reboot the Space Sim genre, hit a major funding milestone earlier today, exceeding the previous record of $4,163,208 secured by the game Project Eternity and more than doubling the initial funding target set by the producer of the Wing Commander series. With Stretch Goals now being passed every few hours bringing new features to the planned game, and David Brabham annoucing a new installment of the classic Elite using a similar funding model at Kickstarter could this be a wake up call for the big game publishers to take another look at the genre?

There's still two days left of Star Citizen funding as well, so if you feel like being a part you can chip in either at the main RSI site or on Kickstarter."

Link to Original Source
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A glimpse at piracy in the UK and beyond

Zocalo Zocalo writes  |  about 2 years ago

Zocalo (252965) writes "The BBC has a fascinating look into the music download habits of the UK population based on stats compiled by Musicmetric. The stats, gathered through the monitoring of BitTorrent swarms and geo-locating the IPs, shows the hotspots for music copyright infringement across the UK and regional preferences for certain types of music. Some of the outliers are somewhat unusual though, suggesting some problems with the methodology or sample size, unless people on the Isle of Wight really do prefer trumpet-playing crooner Louis Armstrong to the likes of Rihanna and Ed Sheeran who top the lists nationwide.

Not in the UK? There are some global stats on the "Most pirated near you?" tab of the story. Better yet, if you want to crunch the numbers for yourself all of the data has been made available at the Musicmatch website under a Creative Commons license and a RESTful API to access the data (free for non-commercial use!) is also available."

Link to Original Source
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CNet / download.com trojaning OSS tools

Zocalo Zocalo writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Zocalo (252965) writes "In a post to the Nmap Hackers list Nmap author, Fyodor, accuses C|Net / download.com of wrapping a trojan installer (as detected by various AV applications when submitted to VirusTotal) around software including Nmap and VLC Media Player. The C|Net installer bundles a toolbar, changes browser settings and, potentially, performs other shenanigans — all under the logo of the application the user thought they might have been downloading. Apparently, this isn't the first time they have done this, either.

Fyodor's on the lookout for a good copyright lawyer, if anyone has one to spare."

Link to Original Source
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Free IPv4 pool now down to seven /8s

Zocalo Zocalo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Zocalo (252965) writes "For those of you keeping score, ICANN just allocated another four /8 IPv4 blocks; 23/8 and 100/8 to ARIN, 5/8 and 37/8 to RIPE, leaving just seven /8s unassigned. In effect however, this means that there are now just two /8s available before the entire pool will be assigned due to an arrangement whereby the five Regional Internet Registries would each automatically receive one of the final five /8s once that threshold was met. The IPv4 Address Report counter at Potaroo.net is pending an update and still saying 96 days, but it's now starting to look doubtful that we're going to even make it to January."
Link to Original Source
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Following protons on a trip to (& through) the

Zocalo Zocalo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Zocalo (252965) writes "Ars Technica visits CERN and takes an in-depth look at the LHC, providing details on the extensive array of supporting technologies and science that don't get the same level of media attention as the main ring. The article details the various stages and sub-accelerators that protons go through in their roughly 6 million kilometer journey from CERN's proton sources, through to their entry into the LHC's main 26km ring and then onwards to an eventual high energy collision at one of the four detectors. Unsurprisingly, there is no mention of any of Dan Brown's outlandish super-jets and paragliding facilities, but there are plenty of fascinating bits of information about the accelerator and the high degrees of precision involved in its construction and operation."
Link to Original Source
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KDE Software Collection v4.5 officially released

Zocalo Zocalo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Zocalo (252965) writes "Version 4.5.0 of the KDE Development Platform, the Plasma Desktop and Netbook workspaces, and many applications are released today. The KDE team focused on the usability, performance and stability of many previously introduced new features and technologies — click on the relevant links for the full announcements. Ars Technica has already posted a quick look at the new release of the Plasma Desktop here."
Link to Original Source
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Microsoft to pay providers to delist from Google?

Zocalo Zocalo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Zocalo (252965) writes "Slashdot recently discussed Mark Cuban's plan to kill Google which was later revealled to be just a thought experiment, but has Microsoft been taking the idea seriously? According to Matthew Garrahan and Richard Waters of the Financial Times, discussions to achieve just that may already be in the early stages with News Corp., and probably with other providers too. Could getting search engine providers to pay for the "privilege" of indexing their sites be a means for old media companies to survive in the Internet era or does Matt Brittin's (Google's UK director) statement that "economically it's not a big part of how we generate revenue" indicate that Microsoft (and News Corp.) are grasping at straws?"
Link to Original Source

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