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Ask Slashdot: Smarter Disk Space Monitoring In the Age of Cheap Storage?

coofercat Re:Check_MK (168 comments)

We're switching to check_mk too. Honestly though, anything with a graph will do - periodically stick something into Graphite or just stick another line onto a CSV. Then draw a graph, draw a rough trend line and there's your answer. Getting a nice email/text message with that information takes a bit more work (where check_mk might help), but so long as you can see it with enough advanced warning, checking the disk graphs weekly (or even monthly) is probably enough.

yesterday
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SMART Begins Live Public Robocar Tests In Singapore

coofercat So it begins... (12 comments)

For anyone thinking that we'll never see the google car, or that autonomous vehicles will never drive on our roads - this is how it starts. At first, it's a specially designated track and a crappy car. Then it's a much bigger track, occasionally crossing legacy roads and railway tracks. Then it's a much nicer car you might actually want to sit in for more than 10 minutes, then it's able drive almost anywhere except city centres or places where it's considered too dangerous/complex, then it's about a variety of fancy cars from various manufacturers all cooperating to provide a seamless service (although maybe a tiered one). Then finally, legacy cars are side-lined, banned or otherwise taxed into oblivion.

yesterday
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British Army Looking For Gamers For Their Smart-Tanks

coofercat Re:Surely not the "largest" tank? (152 comments)

Why larger at all? Why not make it remote controlled, small, but have a big gun on board with a handful of shots loaded in it. Then, instead of using just 10 of them, you use a couple of hundred. Sure, each one is 'easily' neutralised by relatively small weapons, but the fleet would be hard to stop, and any one member of the fleet would be sufficiently deadly to cause your enemy problems.

yesterday
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New Microsoft Garage Site Invites Public To Test a Wide Range of App Ideas

coofercat Re:Make an app, then see if it has a market?? (72 comments)

It's just the "google 20%" output from Microsoft. They're trying to show that they're vaguely innovative - and the problem with innovation is that quite a lot of the time it doesn't work out (seemingly for Microsoft, more times than most).

When Google came out with Wave, we all wondered why they'd bothered - they tried it, people didn't get it and so they closed it down. This is no different.

That said, Floatz looks like a particularly crap idea - if I want feedback from my friends, I'll send them an email (or get my wife to post on facebook). I suppose there's something about finding other people around me that I don't know, but I'm not so sure I'd like to ask them their opinions.

2 days ago
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Will Fiber-To-the-Home Create a New Digital Divide?

coofercat Re:No. (289 comments)

I live in the UK - in a mid sized village, and I get 17mbit/s down on an ADSL2+. I can get fibre to the cabinet and zip up to 50mbit/s for about twice the money if I want. However, there are places in the UK where you can't get broadband of any kind - you're stuck with 64k dialups from almost no providers that still run that service. Hence, there is something of a digital divide - those people can't work from home, can't use bittorrent, etc, etc. They can't realistically do all the usual fluffing about on the Internet that the rest of us do either - even electing for paperless billing and online payments for household bills isn't the no-brainer it is for the rest of us.

It's debatable how much of a problem this divide really is. However, we can be sure that in 10 years, those people might be able to access the government ordained 2mbit/s minimum broadband, but the rest of us will have more like 50-100mbit/s as standard. Those out-lying places will always be at a disadvantage, although hopefully will at least be able to leave something to download while they go off and do something else - which isn't really very feasible for them today.

So what I'm trying to say is that there is a divide, I'm not sure how terrible it really is, but in the future that divide will narrow here in the UK when everyone can get broadband of some description. Whilst 2mbit/s looks pretty rubbish to me, it's enough to hold an online meeting, or to log onto your bank and whatnot. You can't go crazy, but you can at least participate in what the rest of the world takes for granted.

2 days ago
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U.K. Supermarkets Beta Test Full-Body 3D Scanners For Selfie Figurines

coofercat Re:Clothes (159 comments)

If you want clothes that fit, you don't shop at Asda.

2 days ago
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3-D Printed "Iron Man" Prosthetic Hands Now Available For Kids

coofercat Re:biocompatibility (64 comments)

So don't pick your nose with it more than once? Okay, got it - I'll wait until I'm 'well stocked' ;-)

4 days ago
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Millions of Voiceprints Quietly Being Harvested

coofercat Re:Is this one way? (86 comments)

No. The 'print' is something akin to a hash - you can't use it to make a voice synthesiser. I'll leave it to the researchers to figure out if you could construct a synthesiser that created the same 'print', if you knew what the 'print' was to start with - I suspect that'd be possible, but non-trivial (and wouldn't sound anything like the original voice - the original may have said the words "my voice is my password" in a well chiselled English accent, but the synthesiser would only need to say "sfhjie" in a Swahili-esque accent, for example). I'd imagine it would be a similar task as creating a known hash from some data - ie. generally very hard.

about two weeks ago
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Millions of Voiceprints Quietly Being Harvested

coofercat Re:This is going to backfire in an ugly way (86 comments)

About 20 years ago, Nuance did a demo where they played a recording of Margaret Thatcher, which the system identified as being her. They then asked an impersonator to do the same thing, but the system could tell they weren't Mrs T.

I'm sure these sorts of demos are part truth and part smoke-and-mirrors, but the point being that it was a long time ago and something they claimed to be able to do. You can bet they've got it sorted now so that it's considerably more accurate. I have no idea if they have a means to stop a recording being played back though - that's presumably a harder problem to solve.

about two weeks ago
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Independent Researchers Test Rossi's Alleged Cold Fusion Device For 32 Days

coofercat Re:He tried patenting it... (986 comments)

So if I throw a few random things together in my shed and invent teleportation, I can't patent it (even if I have a working demonstration) because I can't explain how the physics of it work? That sort of sucks, no?

Let's say, just for a moment, that this guy has stumbled upon real, honest to goodness "cold fusion" (or any sort of miniature, controlled fusion reaction).. Just because he can't explain it doesn't mean it's not real. Lots of real physicists who spend their days trying to figure these sorts of things out can't explain it, so how can this guy be expected to do so?

That said, patents (even European ones) suck in lots of important ways (not least this one). This guy needs to mortgage his house and make a reactor somewhere. He can keep it secret if he wants, but he has to make one that makes a useful amount of electricity that could one day be connected to the grid. If he can do that, then investors will be available to help him pass the regulations and get it connected. Once it's actually doing something, then the patent will either be granted or it won't - either way, he'll be making money. I'll admit he'd need some balls to do all this, but unless he's going to put his own money on the line, I don't suppose anyone else is going to help him much.

about two weeks ago
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Gmail Security Is a Problem For Tor Users In Repressive Countries

coofercat Re:Security requiring cell phones (74 comments)

Sounds to me like you need a better bank. If my card is used without my authorisation, that's fraud and I get a refund. Sounds like you don't...? (I'm still not going to give boobtropolis and a West African prince my credit card numbers, but normal retailers are fine - even the little ones).

about two weeks ago
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Eric Schmidt: Anxiety Over US Spying Will "Break the Internet"

coofercat Re:What's sauce for the gander is sauce for the go (179 comments)

I'd still rather my data to be snooped by my own country's security services than by the Americans (if though there's an awful lot of data sharing between then). As such, I might be inclined to buy services from local suppliers than from Google. That's bad news for the US, in two ways - 1) it removes a bit of revenue from American companies, and 2) it promotes non-american companies, and the technology they need. Ultimately that means places like silicon valley stop being one of the few centres of technology innovation, and instead there are lots of SVs all around the world - again, bad news for the US.

This isn't all just me making stuff up - it's already happening. Sure, the US is no where near bankrupt because of it, but it doesn't take a genius to work out that it'll mean there's less opportunity for Americans now and in the future.

about two weeks ago
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At CIA Starbucks, Even the Baristas Are Covert

coofercat Re:What undercover agents are these? (242 comments)

If they're tottering about in CIA HQ, then I suspect neither are any of these people.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Multimedia-Based Wiki For Learning and Business Procedures?

coofercat Re:Try Confluence (97 comments)

You can run your own instance - my company does (as did my previous employer). It's got a few rough edges, and a few annoying bugs, but it's a very usable wiki.

However, as noted above, anything is only as good as its content. Company wikis tend to be "write only", but definitely need a critical mass to get going.

about three weeks ago
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First Shellshock Botnet Attacking Akamai, US DoD Networks

coofercat Re:Question about how this works (236 comments)

There are other vectors - in fact, any place that the website code (be it C, PHP, Java, Perl, whatever) runs another program *via* the shell. It depends on the language as to how this can happen. In perl, if you don't specify the full path to the thing you're calling, and you don't use a list for each argument then it'll go via the shell as a helper to make it do what you want. Obviously, anywhere you've called something as "sh -c /some/path/thing", then you're also going via the shell.

Simply calling something via the shell (or calling a shell script) isn't enough - you also need to pass some environment variables populated with user input. This seems incredibly unlikely except in CGIs. In most cases, you'd probably pass some command line arguments (maybe from user input), and you might statically set an environment variable or two (perhaps for a password or something). Those aren't a problem - it's only user input.

For anyone running CGI, you're most likely at risk. For anyone not doing so, you're probably not at risk, but code review will tell you for sure. This is no heartbleed (as the media seem to be making out), but it's pretty serious for anyone vulnerable.

As for how to scan for it - well, good luck there, it could be anywhere, and it could be nowhere. You'd literally have to scan every single URL on a site to find a problem - and even then you might still miss it.

about a month ago
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Obama Presses China On Global Warming

coofercat Re:The pot calling the kettle black (261 comments)

Well done America! Goodness, what great achievements you have. As the richest country on earth, you've got a way to go before the rest of us look upon you as being some sort of beacon of goodness.

As for Congress and the President (and Senate, and everyone else for that matter) - their collective responsibility is to run the country. If they can't get their act together, what makes you/them think that anyone else should make any effort at all?

about a month ago
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Obama Presses China On Global Warming

coofercat Re:The pot calling the kettle black (261 comments)

You're saying something like "if you're not a Democrat, you must be a Republican" (or "if you're not with us, you're against us"). It doesn't follow - it's overly simplistic and doesn't take into account any sort of reality.

Just because China is ostensibly Communist, doesn't mean it's what the climate rallies were going for, nor does it mean that it's the perfect implementation of Communism. Likewise, America's version of Capitalism is deeply flawed - it's actually not Capitalism in the true sense of the word at all.

I won't speak for the those that rallied, but I suspect what they were actually going for was to root out some of the "profit at all costs" aspects of America Capitalism, which doesn't mean America has to become Communist, Marxist, Anarchist or anything else - it just means it needs to think about a little more than itself.

about a month ago
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Obama Presses China On Global Warming

coofercat Re:The pot calling the kettle black (261 comments)

You'll also have noticed that this is all about "asking" China to do something, and not about America doing anything at all. All Obama had to do was to say "we're going to add a 5% import tax on all Chinese products that don't have a green certificate". That sort of approach may not be perfect, but it hurts the Chinese in ways that they can remedy, and whilst it ostensibly hurts the American consumer, the tax collected helps them in other ways. The tax collected could be used to stimulate local manufacturing or something - or perhaps green projects.

So as it stands, this is just one dirty country asking another dirty country to clean up. Doesn't mean anything at all, and apart from some carefully worded responses, the Chinese need do nothing about it at all.

about 1 month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Have You Experienced Fear Driven Development?

coofercat Re:Wow... (232 comments)

...and also, FDM - Fear Driven Management.

Eg. "Thou shalt not rework that heap of shit to unblock countless other ideas and projects because it's way too scary".

about a month ago
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Treasure Map: NSA, GCHQ Work On Real-Time "Google Earth" Internet Observation

coofercat Re:So they'll suffer from TMI (267 comments)

Start now - install orbot onto your android phone, and make sure it's set to start at boot time. Even if you don't pipe any information down the proxy, at least there'll be yet another Tor log on going on that they have to watch.

about a month ago

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About Coofer Cat

coofercat coofercat writes  |  more than 8 years ago

I'm a chap from London, UK, trying to make his way through this ole' life as best as possible.

I've been a sysadmin for most of my professional life, mostly playing with Sun systems, latterly more Windoze and Linux though. I'm quite good at "getting things to work" - that is, making things work they way they ought to.

At the moment, I'm working for my own company, Pre-Emptive Limtied. It's a small company that makes appliance based products, the first of which is a search engine. We make use of open source products and "glue" them together with a bit of development and a proprietary administration and usability layer.

In my spare time, I can often be found boozin' in pubs, or scaring off the opposite sex. I've also got a blog.

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