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Comments

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Systems That Can Secretly Track Where Cellphone Users Go Around the Globe

donaldm Re:When Roaming people turn off cell mode (74 comments)

actually, when you buy in bulk TBs are cheap, and mem prices drop, especially when you have 100 GB/s pipes

Disks may be relatively cheap especially in OEM quantities, however when the requirement is for multi petabytes then you cannot think in terms of a collection of single disks even in a RAID array you have to consider a Storage Area Network and the infrastructure to manage, backup and even do a recovery. When you start adding up the costs this does not come cheap.

Yes governments, especially those in first world countries can build up the necessary infrastructure to capture information and it comes out of tax payers pockets, but you only need one whistle-blower and that government has egg on it's face. Of course some governments don't care and are quite happy to build something like this even if it means their people starve.

yesterday
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Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

donaldm Re:My opinion on the matter. (754 comments)

If you want a job doing any type of linux work, you better know RPM. Period.

You don't really have to know the ins and outs of "rpm" but a quick "man rpm" will help immediately and of course the web has a huge amount of examples. You can get by with only a few options however like most commands in Linux/Unix there are some more esoteric options that can be very useful on the odd occasion.

Now I suppose we can start discussing the proposed depreciation of "yum" to "dnf" (default in Fedora 22 which is about a year away). Both have man entries although at the moment (Fedora 20) I only use "yum". I have tried "dnf" and it also works.

2 days ago
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Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

donaldm Re:My opinion on the matter. (754 comments)

Everyone I know who uses vi uses ":wq" rather than ":x". Don't know why. I'm an emacs user, so I couldn't even tell you what the command is to save and quit; I just move my fingers and feet in a pattern stored in muscle memory, and things get done.

Well I normally use "ZZ" although I can use :wq or even :wq! if I want to overwrite a read-only file if I own it or am root. Of course there is always the good old :q! when you have stuffed the file so much that you really just want to exit without updating and head down to the pub :-)

2 days ago
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Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

donaldm Re:My opinion on the matter. (754 comments)

Mac OS uses launchd, FreeBSD uses init.d, many Linuxes use systemd.

And Solaris uses SMF. This is more than just nuance; each of these systems are different and completely incompatible. It really means that the argument of "It's just Unix" and therefore the same/similar is ignorant or possibly maliciously false to further a political point.

We also should talk about HPUX and AIX which are very much alive and well. Looks around and ducks for cover :-)

2 days ago
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Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

donaldm Re:My opinion on the matter. (754 comments)

Of course, but it's still a nice feature until you have figured it out or received a patch that fixes the problem.

If the daemon crashes on execution, then gets restarted, say, 100 times a minute, how is that a nice feature?

I think you as the System Admin would notice this and make sure the service is shut-down for debugging purposes or reported to the appropriate people as a failure in their software. This is no different to what was done over 40 years ago.

2 days ago
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Munich Council Say Talk of LiMux Demise Is Greatly Exaggerated

donaldm Re:NT is best (186 comments)

If constant reboots and BSODs are still your impression of Windows, you should give it another try with a more recent version. Things are quite smooth these days, thanks to the NT6 kernel.

Err! Win NT6.0 was Microsoft Windows Vista and we know how everyone loved that. Even with NT6.1 (Microsoft Windows 7) you still could get constant reboots and BSODs (first hand experience). Still NT6.2 (MS Win 8) and NT3 (MS Win 8.1) may me stable to you but that GUI IMHO looks like something designed by a 5 year old.

Over 7 years ago I switched to a Linux distro and have never looked back.

2 days ago
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Facebook Experimenting With Blu-ray As a Storage Medium

donaldm Re:Why not the "boring" Tape storage? (193 comments)

That's not really how tape systems work. Generally they keep an index online so you can tell the tape system to pop in a specific tape and goto a specific position, longest load times... in real world that i've personally witnessed... 10 mins

You do realise that tape is normally classified as "off-line" backup/storage which normally means that the tapes are taken off-site. If you are talking about a virtual tape machine and your data is still in the cache then recovery could be a few minutes but if the data is not in the cache then you will need to wait till the tapes are brought back on-site and that can take a few hours.

3 days ago
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Facebook Experimenting With Blu-ray As a Storage Medium

donaldm Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (193 comments)

Why is it that you can turn off blue ray drives, but not hard drives?

Last I checked, my hard drives were simple to power on and off on the fly

Companies that have massive storage and computing needs cannot and should not be compared to your home PC. I suggest you look at Storage Area Networks (SAN) and the implementation and costs associated with them. Taking Facebook as an example you cannot just shut-down a SAN even it is used as a "near-line" storage device, so using BD as "near-line storage" devices is actually a very practical and economical solution.

3 days ago
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Facebook Experimenting With Blu-ray As a Storage Medium

donaldm Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (193 comments)

Seldom used data sitting in spinning power draining disks has a continuous power cost.

Seldom accessed HDDs can be spun down, or even completely powered off.

You do realise that HDD's can fail so you would need redundancy (ie. more than one) The same can be said for BD but since they are passive disks you don't have to worry about the electronics. Yes you do need a BD reader/writer to read/wite to the BD disks, but that writer/reader can be replaced if faulty without any loss of data. While you can spin down HDD's this is not a good solution for a variety of reasons, one of which is that the disks (remember "redundancy") may not come up properly.

When people discuss things like this you have to be aware that for large amounts of storage we are not talking about simple SSD's that can be found in any PC configuration, you have to look at storage arrays which are not exactly something you can just casually switch off to conserve power, so it makes much more sense to consider using "near-line" media storage devices such as BD/DVD/CD which don't have any electronics associated with them except for the device reader/writer which consumes much less power then a storage array and can easily be replaced without any chance of data loss.

BTW I am well aware that a faulty disk can be read for it's data however if you actually work out the costs involved and there is no guarantee that you can get back all the data then cheap BD disks are a better solution.

3 days ago
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Microsoft Lobby Denies the State of Chile Access To Free Software

donaldm Re:Publicly Funded Governments (159 comments)

You are stuck with either GNOME or KDE for RHEL, and most users are going to expect GNOME. We also run into where our users have to emulate the users' environments, which often means GNOME for the GUI. Third, there are a lot of situations where a GUI is required (say, the default installer for a lot of things, like Documentum, Matlab, Oracle, etc). Trying to get people not to use the default GUI is near impossible.

If you use a graphics installer for Redhat you are not really using a window manager like KDE, Gnome or even Xfce. Anyway have many users are using RHEL for the desktop? (although you could). As for installers for Documentum, Matlab, Oracle, etc they are specific to the software application and will run under most window managers. Actually you would normally install software like what you just mentioned via client software which could even be on a Microsoft Widows machine.

As for "trying to get people not to use the default GUI" that is the wrong thing to say since if you are the system admin it is very easy to set up particular users to only use a specific Window Manager using "kickstart" (very useful if you want a consistent configuration across all machines). Of course you could do a manual installation as well but that can get very tedious across hundreds of machines.

5 days ago
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Microsoft Lobby Denies the State of Chile Access To Free Software

donaldm Re:Publicly Funded Governments (159 comments)

But what about military secrets?
What about ongoing stings of organized crime syndicates, and the undercover police who might threatened?

If you want your documents kept secret there is plenty of encryption software available. The problem you have with any type of secret documentation is not really with the software but the people using the software so to coin an old saying "loose lips sinks ships", and the more eyes on something the more likely it will eventually be leaked.

Anyway what is this got to do with a government or any other organisation using "open" software compared to "closed" software because what you have just said applies equally to both.

Are these exceptions? How many lives is this principle worth?

If(instead) these are valid exceptions, what objective criteria would you use to separate the valid secrets from the invalid?

Basically the creation and handling of any type of information falls under "Company Policy" and again it makes no difference if the underlying software is "open" or "closed" source. At some stage there needs to be some trust because the more you don't trust the people who are handling information the more likely that information will be leaked.

People have been trying to solve the problem you just laid down a simplistic solution to for decades now.

And therein lies the problem. People are human and under certain circumstances can deliberately or accidentally divulge information that otherwise should remain confidential or even top secret to a particular company or even a government.

5 days ago
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Xbox One Will Play Media from USB Devices, DLNA Servers

donaldm Re:my TV do that, why should I buy a XBOX 360 (112 comments)

I have a no-smart-tv (LG) and it can read any USB drive (including HD)

I think you are not understanding what a USB stick/drive is. Basically The most common USB connectors support USB 1, 2 and now USB 3 and normally have a type A (the most common) and type B (more boxy) connectors see here . What is important to note is what type of file-system is actually on the device.

For USB devices that are 16Gb or less the most common file-system is FAT32, however over 16GB you may find NTFS, exFAT or even FAT32. If you are like me who has a Linux OS on my machines then you may find that I have changed the file-system on my USB device to ext3 or ext4 or any other of Linux file-systems that support journalling (I am aware NTFS supports journalling), of which there are quite a few. I would assume that most modern TV's that have a USB slot can read FAT32 and possibly exFAT or NTFS although less likely, however I would be surprised if that same TV could read other file-systems although many Linux file-systems are patent free.

about two weeks ago
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DARPA Wants To Kill the Password

donaldm Re:Passwords died in the 80s (383 comments)

In the 80s we didn't even bother with passwords, okay maybe by the late 80s.

Err no! you are thinking of early PC's and their single tasking equivalents. Passwords to access multitasking computing systems have been around from at least the 1960's. The Unix OS was designed and enhanced with user names and appropriate passwords going back to at least the early 1970's.

Actually even today a good password is quite hard to break even with so called "man in the middle" attacks providing you are using something like ssh and possible one time passwords (I used this type of access back in the mid 1990's) to access machines.

In many ways as long as you have a good remembered password to access your PC you should only have to worry about your PC being compromised by Viruses, Trojans and social engineering attacks. As long as you are aware and know how to recover from an attack (most people don't) then you are pretty safe from mall-wear. Even if you are compromised then you should have some idea on who to contact such as Banks , Web site etc to report and hopefully resolve the issue.

about two weeks ago
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DARPA Wants To Kill the Password

donaldm Re:All good until someone simulates biometrics... (383 comments)

You can change a password, you can't change your retina print. What do you do when your account is compromised? Get new eyes?

Instead of all this BS, just make an app that stores all the sub-passwords from a master password.

There are plenty of apps that allow you to store your passwords in a database. Do a lookup on "password manager" and you should get over 250,000,000 hits. The problem is that you need to make sure that the passwords you use are not trivial and should be preferably over 8 alpha-numeric characters in length as well as having at least one special character (ie. !,@$# ... etc). A password generator is actually very good for this however the more complex a password the more you need to rely on a password database or at least the sites you are connecting to being able to save your password such as in your browser.

The biggest problem I have faced is the arbitrary password rules. Some sites require you have to choose from .\$[] character set whereas others cannot have it in the password. Some have length limits and some minimums. Some require at least two alphanumeric characters. Some allow phrases some don't.

That is not really a problem if you generate appropriate passwords and have a password manager.

Of course at some stage you really must remember at least one or two passwords. One to log you into your PC, Workstation, Mainframe etc and the other to access your password database if you have one. Oh yes you also have to have a contingency plan in case you are compromised such as knowing who to contact and it does not hurt knowing how to restore your data as well, assuming you do backups.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: What To Do About the Sorry State of FOSS Documentation?

donaldm Re:It's open source (430 comments)

The problem with software documentation is exactly the same as it was over 30 years ago. This is not to say that software documentation is bad, in fact most are surprisingly well documented with the main problem being the user (oh dear!). Now let me explain why I said this.

When an application is designed (hopefully), written and documented there is a percentage of time that is allocated to all three attributes and usually the smallest percentage is (you guessed it) the documentation although the initial design should be the groundwork for the documentation in the first place. However no matter how well documented a software product is, you are always going to have detractors saying thing like "The documentation is obscure" or "There is not enough documentation" or "The documentation is too long". Usually the detractors fall into attitude of "The application should be so good I don't have to think or do any reading anyway".

The author of the article gives an example of LightDM which has fairly meagre documentation if you go to the web site. Oh the horror (sigh!). Well the application is a "Desktop" which can be likened to Gnome, KDE, Xfce and even Microsoft Windows. In this particular case you normally have a system setting GUI or you can go to the web for more information. If you do a Google search on LightDM you get something like 472,000 hits so there really is no excuse for saying that there is not enough documentation and information.

Personally I don't blame the so called technical elitists from saying RTFM (coined well over 30 years ago) and then come to me if you can't find what you want. The last bit is what I normally say as well and many users seem to have selective deafness. With the Web and decent search engines getting information could never be easier, the problem is that many users who complain don't seem to want to use their brain.

about three weeks ago
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HP Gives OpenVMS New Life and Path To X86 Port

donaldm Re:VMS user interface is utterly obsolete (136 comments)

You joke, but "nightmare" would be an accurate description for today's youth if asked to work with VMS. :-)

We are talking about a CLI (DCL) which is so out of date you cannot even edit commands which span more than one line.

You could run a GUI on VMS as far back as 1992 if you had a Graphics Workstation. It pre-dates Win NT by about a year.

about a month ago
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HP Gives OpenVMS New Life and Path To X86 Port

donaldm Re:Excellent! (136 comments)

For budding Necromancers and magic users in general, did you know that by incrementing the letters of VMS by one you get the following:

V --> W
M --> N
S --> T

The original letters summoned and bound the Old Ones in clusters to do your bidding. Unfortunately the incremented symbols have not bound the Old Ones properly so take care not to summon up something that could bind you into the darkest depths were there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ;)

about a month ago
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Microsoft's Nokia Plans Come Into Better Focus

donaldm Re:that feature exists already (149 comments)

You can use the "Office Lens" with Windows Phone 8 phones today. Handy.

Guess that is useful for those 3 people.

Actually you can get OCR applications for Android and iPhone. Of course the better ones you do have to pay for but there are quite a few which are free.

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

donaldm Re:Microsoft Linux (322 comments)

KDE: more like Windows than Windows itself ;-)

Actually KDE "can" be configured to look like MS Windows, but why would you when it can do so much more.

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

donaldm Re:Waiting for Windows to come full circle (322 comments)

What if Microsoft released a commercial "Window Manager" for Linux?

You mentioned the word "commercial" by that I assume it is going to cost. Since most window managers for Linux are free I can't see this being a big selling point.

about a month ago

Submissions

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donaldm donaldm writes  |  more than 7 years ago

donaldm (919619) writes "A few months ago I once said jokingly to some of my colleagues that it won't be long before someone sues Nintendo for patent violation on their Wiimote. Well unfortunately I was right as the following Arstechnica article shows http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061208-8385 .html

My next crystal ball prediction will be a patent case on accelerometers which are used by Nintendo and Sony in their contollers. I really hope I am wrong but with the sad state of patents (rumble anyone) I won't be surprised."
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donaldm donaldm writes  |  more than 7 years ago

donaldm (919619) writes "SecurityFocus columnist Mark D. Rasch, J.D looks at the license agreement for Windows Vista and how its product activation component, which can disable operation of the computer, may be like walking on thin ice. Read the following http://www.securityfocus.com/columnists/423?ref=rs s for the details (two pages).

To quote Mark " Does the Microsoft EULA adequately tell you what will happen if you don't activate the product or if you can't establish that it is genuine? Well, not exactly. It does tell you that some parts of the product won't work — but it also ambiguously says that the product itself won't work. Moreover, it allows Microsoft, through fine print in a generally unread and non negotiable agreement, to create an opportunity for economic extortion. "

Now could be a good time to look at alternative OS's."

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