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Comments

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Ask Slashdot: Aging and Orphan Open Source Projects?

mcrbids Re:Retired developers (140 comments)

Have you considered starting a company around the OSS Project? It's typical for a project in your position to spawn a commercial support entity to satisfy support needs, the $$ for which is also used to develop/support the project.

yesterday
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Can the Sun Realistically Power Datacenters?

mcrbids Re:Obligatoriness Extraordinaire (237 comments)

Sadly, there just aren't enough places with lakes to store anything like the amount of power we'd need to store. You also have to deal with transmission loss between the solar site and the point of use. There was this proposal a while back to use massive, carved granite/stone blocks to store power but it doesn't seem to have achieved much mention beyond its initial proposal.

about a week ago
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Tesla Announces Dual Motors, 'Autopilot' For the Model S

mcrbids Re:Read speed limit signs (283 comments)

Never mind highway 505...

about two weeks ago
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Vax, PDP/11, HP3000 and Others Live On In the Cloud

mcrbids The value is the software (62 comments)

Up until about the year 2000, I ran a small hardware shop for customers. Gradually, it became clear to me that the value of computers isn't in the hardware, it's in the software and data that they hold.

In response, I reinvented myself and co-developed a company that hosts data for (now) hundreds of clients and tens of thousands of users. Comparing the total hardware value of all our servers to our annual revenue puts hardware expenses (roughly) in petty cash. Servers host a *lot* of data, it's the data and the software used to manage the data that's valuable.

about two weeks ago
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Belkin Router Owners Suffering Massive Outages

mcrbids Go for the 100% Open Source option (191 comments)

I've had issues with the last several routers, so I recently bought the very first, 100% OSS router. My thinking is that if it's open source, it's probably high quality code, and it's more likely to get updated than proprietary firmware, where they are cash incentivized to just have you buy the new router rather than fix old bugs.

As far as hardware goes, it's mid-range router hardware, N300 Wifi with respectable antennas and a ho hum 100 Mbit hardware switch. The UI was a little odd, more complex and far more options than your typical Wifi router interface.

However, in the month or so that I've had it, it's been the least problematic Wifi I've had in a few years. I live in a densely populated area with quite a few other hotspots in sight, and I haven't noticed any issues where restarting the router made a difference.

I haven't had the chance yet to hack it, but even as just a router, this is a winner. Also, support products that are consumer friendly like this one. It's not even more expensive! (Currently just $52)

about two weeks ago
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Belkin Router Owners Suffering Massive Outages

mcrbids Re:Live by the cloud, die by the cloud. (191 comments)

Fake Internet connectivity is when some WiFi access point hijacks all DNS requests to take you to some login web page or ad.

So my company presents at trade shows. Trade shows often have Internet service available at ridiculous prices, and frequently, performance is horrible. Often, rather than pay that ridiculous price, we have a laptop set up with the same configuration as our servers, and run with a recent backup copied onto the laptop. This lets us demonstrate our products with a "sandbox" - same as we use for development - without having to bother with the on site Internet.

Our mobile "server" is set up to wildcard DNS to a locally hosted copy of our website. Other vendors, of course, see our hot spot and figure they can use it to get Internet service on somebody else's dime. When they find that all they can get to is our website and product, it's typical for them to get upset - more than once we've been accused of hacking!

Now, set up the hot spot with an SSID like "NoInternetHere" as a way of discouraging trouble.

about two weeks ago
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Grooveshark Found Guilty of Massive Copyright Infringement

mcrbids Re:Some content should be avoided... (171 comments)

Raise your hand if you honestly think that Mickey Mouse as a trademark will enter the public domain in 2023. ....

Me neither.

about three weeks ago
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New Research Casts Doubt On the "10,000 Hour Rule" of Expertise

mcrbids Re:In our time and age? (192 comments)

The ability to network is a skill I've spent a significant amount of time to become adept at.

about three weeks ago
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Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

mcrbids Re:net metering != solar and 10% needs new physics (488 comments)

Nice to see *informed* input!

I would argue that the problem is the flat rate pricing of $/KWH. A KWH produced at 1 AM has far less value than one produced at 7:00 PM. Why are we charging them the same? Much of the issue you mention would largely vanish if electricity prices were negotiated more frequently. EG: hourly or 15 minute increments. If there really is a surplus of power between 10:00-2:00, as you state, then the price during that time of day would be low to accommodate. This would create an incentive to input power when there's matching demand, and let the utility company profit off the difference.

Yes, it's a significant cost to upgrade the power grid and contracts to work this way, but when has it been bad to connect buyers to sellers in a way that reflects an accurate use of resources?

For example, I read a study a while back that pointing solar panels West of due South resulted in a much better match between electricity use and demand

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

mcrbids Re:I can't see this happening (108 comments)

Note that the reverse trend is happening. Thanks to the very low cost of production and distribution, there are many, many, many alternate "shows" out there that you can watch.

Have you missed youtube entirely? What rock have you been hiding under? Also, the place with the most interesting display of documentaries and "non-primary" content is NetFlix. There is a *ridiculous* amount of youtube channels with interesting content.

For example, as a violinist, I like Taylor Davis' work immensely - she mixes violin and many of the themes to movies and games I've loved....

Remember when MTV was a close as you could get to stuff like this?

about a month ago
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Verizon Working On a La Carte Internet TV Service

mcrbids Missing the point (108 comments)

I see the exact opposite trend. Netflix is growing by gangbusters, but is the epitome of having many shows that "you aren't paying for". It's not a la carte... at all! You pay a flat rate of $8/month and stream whatever you like.

If you combine horrible customer service, high prices, and synchronized broadcasting, and you have unhappy customers switching to clearly better alternatives. "Paying for channels you don't use" is a symptom. The real problem is that they are horrible companies offering a previous generation, substandard service at ridiculous prices that have risen much faster than inflation.

about a month ago
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Microsoft Killing Off Windows Phone Brand Name In Favor of Just Windows

mcrbids Re:Brilliant! (352 comments)

You don't know Microsoft very well, then. They've literally never done anything else!

1) They were late to the party with DOS. They ripped off QDOS and sold it to IBM. It was IBM who launched Microsoft, it was Microsoft's non-exclusive contract with IBM that allowed the IBM compatible market to begin. That had never been done before, and only happened because IBM didn't take the microcomputer seriously.

2) They were late to the party for GUI. Windows was quickly thrown together after trying to work together with IBM and deciding to be dicks to IBM and steal lots of their design work.

3) Windows '95 was a rebrand of "Windows". So was Windows CE ME NT, XP, Vista, Mobile, and RT. In a sense, Windows 7 is the first "debranding" of Windows back to its marketing roots.

4) Microsoft goes through a major change in structure every 2-5 years. It's always made the tech rags, all the way back to the 1980s.

5) Their now dominant office was a rebrand of their MS Word, Excel, and Power Point, which were sold separately.

6) Each of these Office products was a late comer in its field, in part winning due to strange incompatibilities encountered by the "other guys". Remember the phrase "DOS isn't done until Lotus won't run". Lotus 123 was the leading spreadsheet at the time.

and so on.... Just don't pretend that this BS is anything *new*. Market conditions were right, and MS had a combination of luck and determination to make the best of it. The market conditions have changed remarkably.

about a month and a half ago
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The State of ZFS On Linux

mcrbids Re:Unfamiliar (370 comments)

Scrubbing doesn't thrash your CPU as much as it thrashes I/O. Remember that both I/O and CPU are part of your "load average". This would be expected; it's reading every block on every device in your system.

You're right about the memory; I've forgotten that detail since RAM is cheap. 1 GB per TB is the recommended amount, though I've worked with far less in practice in low/medium write load environments.

about a month and a half ago
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The State of ZFS On Linux

mcrbids Re:Unfamiliar (370 comments)

There are so many pros for ZFS that I don't even. Until you try it, you won't "get it" - it's more like trying to describe purple to a life long blind guy. But, I'd adjust your list to at least include:

Pros:
- Data integrity
- Effortless handling of failure scenarios (RAIDZ makes normal RAID look like a child's crayon drawing)
- Snapshots.
- Replication. Imagine being able to DD a drive partition without taking it offline, and with perfect data integrity.
- Clones. Imagine being able to remount an rsync backup from last tuesday, and make changes to it, in seconds, without affecting your backup?
- Scrub. Do an fsck mid-day without affecting any end users. Not only "fix" errors, but actually guarantee the accuracy of the "fix" so that no data is lost or corrupted.
- Expandable. Add capacity at any time with no downtime. Replace every disk in your array with no downtime, and it can automatically use the extra space.
- Redundancy, even on a single device! Can't provide multiple disks, but want to defend against having a block failure corrupting your data?
- Flexible. Imagine having several partitions in your array, and be able to resize them at any time. In seconds. Or, don't bother to specify a size and have each partition use whatever space they need.
- Native compression. Double your disk space, while (sometimes) improving performance! We compressed our database backup filesystem and not only do we see some 70% reduction in disk space usage, we saw a net reduction in system load as IO overhead was significantly reduced.
- Sharp cost savings. ZFS obviates the need for exotic RAID hardware to do all the above. It brings back the "Inexpensive" in RAID. (Remember: "Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks"?)

Cons:
- CPU and RAM overhead comparable to Software RAID 5.
- Requires you to be competent and know how it operates, particularly when adding capacity to an existing pool.
- ECC RAM strongly recommended if using scrub.
- Strongly recommended for data partitions, YMMV for native O/S partitions. (EG: /)

about a month and a half ago
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Predictive Modeling To Increase Responsivity of Streamed Games

mcrbids Re:bad name (120 comments)

FYI: The larger Geo Metro 1.3 liter engine produced 70 HP. Cars in the 3,000 lb range fit in the "mid sized sedan" range which typically have 150-225 horsepower.

Yes, it was under powered, but it was not a "Geo Metro".

about 2 months ago
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Tor Browser Security Under Scrutiny

mcrbids Re:Why not work with Mozilla (80 comments)

My questions are thus... why not move to a model where the entire OS is forced through the tor proxy, This could be done with the use of a dummy network adapter and disabling the current adapter while tor is in use. Yes it would likely break certain OS features during that time, but there it is.

This is a bit like plugging a power strip into itself. It might seem self evident why that should work, but alas, it does not. /s

How do you think TOR communicates with the Internet at large, if not using the OS network stack? And if you coopt that stack, how, pray tell, do you expect TOR to be able to communicate with the TOR nodes?

about 2 months ago
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Netflix CEO On Net Neutrality: Large ISPs Are the Problem

mcrbids Re:Big Data (181 comments)

Their own CDN site talks about putting Netflix gear out for free. So they are basically saying they want the free ride. No one gets rack space, power, and connections for free.

I know a guy who is a network engineer at a regional ISP. They are ecstatic about hosting Netflix gear "for free" because of all the money they save! Despite the consensus here, bandwidth isn't free, it's a huge expense. And their largest use case is Netflix. By hosting the Netflix servers at the data center, they cut their network traffic by something like half.

It's a pretty big deal for them.

about 2 months ago
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Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board

mcrbids Re:Microsoft is a spent force (142 comments)

Revenue for a company on the way out frequently looks really rosy right up to the last bit. Take a look at Nokia which was making massive profits by not investing in smart phones. They had massive market share in "feature phones" that overwhelmingly outsold smart phones. That is, until they became so passe that even the kids didn't want one. Now the pieces are being sold off to... wait!

You know, I didn't even mean to pick Nokia because of its relationship with Microsoft, but it just occurred to me... Whelp!

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Comcast blocking DNS for BitTorrent users?

mcrbids mcrbids writes  |  more than 2 years ago

mcrbids (148650) writes "It appears that Comcast is killing BitTorrent use by blocking DNS to BitTorrent users.

For the past week, I've been having issues with my Comcast cable where everything "works fine" except DNS. Even setting up my own caching name server did not work since UDP port 53 was a black hole as far as the public Internet was visible to me. Resetting the modem/router fixed it, only to have the problem reoccur anywhere from a few hours to a day later.

Last Friday I noticed BitTorrent running on my Mac, sharing only a CentOS ISO image, and killed it. I haven't had a problem since. Can anybody corroborate this apparently new tactic being used by Comcast to censor BitTorrent use?"
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Apache webserver vulnerable to "slow get", too

mcrbids mcrbids writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mcrbids (148650) writes "About a month ago, a story broke that http (apache, IIS and everything else out there) was susceptible to a "slow post", where a malicious client starts a connection to a web server, sends headers indicating a very large upload via POST, and then sends that upload very slowly, starving resources and eventually causing a DDOS.

Well today, doing some research to see how effective this attack was (hint: VERY EFFECTIVE) I tried the same thing using http GET as well, and saw very similar results. With a simple, 20-line PHP script run from my laptop, I was able to take a fairly beefy internal webserver (8 core, 12 GB RAM, CentOS 5) offline in just under a minute, and keep it that way for as long as I wanted to. The technique was simple: send "GET /" and then append letters, 1 or 2 every second or so. After several hundred simultaneous connections were achieved, the web server was no longer responsive. I don't have an IIS server to test against, and don't feel like using any "unwitting volunteers".

It doesn't take a large botnet to take most hosts offline. It takes only a single, relatively low-powered laptop and a 20-line script hacked up in PHP 5.Given that the "slow post" attack is already well known, it's only a matter of time before a black hat discovers that even disabling form post won't protect anybody, either!"
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Disable Advertising? No way!

mcrbids mcrbids writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mcrbids (148650) writes "Dear Slashdot,

This is the only way I can think of to actually send a communication to you. I noticed tonight a checkbutton labelled: "As our way of thanking you for your positive contributions to Slashdot, you are eligible to disable advertising."

Well, I'm not going to check it. I've spent years writing my often +modded posts, and have enjoyed doing it! Your adveritising is subtle enough to not detract needlessly from the experience, you get a few pennies from my daily views, and I have purchased more than one item due to an ad posted on Slashdot. It's a win/win/win situation, and I will not be checking the button, nor do I steal content from websites by using products like Adblock. If a website has ads posted intrusively, then I avoid that site, rather than legitimize a website that is offensive in nature by giving it the benefit of my eyeballs.

Thank you Slashdot, for maintaining a high quality, highly relevant site for over 10 years now! I've not paid a thin dime for any of your content, and I have spent countless hours pontificating finer points; you have more than deserved whatever revenue you get from your classy, unobtrusive ad impressions!"
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Root hole found in Linux

mcrbids mcrbids writes  |  more than 5 years ago

mcrbids (148650) writes "Looks like a pretty serious hole has been found in Linux — affecting 32 and 64 bit versions of Linux with and without SELinux using a creative way to exploit null pointer references. You can check it out yourself. As of this writing, there are no patches available for this, making it a potential zero-day exploit."
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Rockstar squelches connection to Michael Savage

mcrbids mcrbids writes  |  more than 5 years ago

mcrbids writes "While poking around online I found this article which details an an easily verified connection between Rockstar Energy Drinks and Michael Savage the "shock jock" commonly found on ultra-conservative talk radio. Michael Savage has been banned from entering the United Kingdom due to the hateful nature of his monologues. Strangely, he broadcasts from the highly liberal San Fransisco on KNEW AM Rockstar has responded with the standard C&D route with lawyers, et al. Is this going to be another example of a company who hasn't discovered the Streisand Effect or is there legitimately no connection between Michael Savage and Rockstar Energy drinks, even if they are at the same address and share the same CFO? (Michael's wife, Rockstar CEO's mother)"
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Best javascript framework?

mcrbids mcrbids writes  |  more than 5 years ago

mcrbids (148650) writes "For the past 6 years or so, we've been heavily developing a proprietary, custom vertical application based on Linux, Apache, PHP, and PostgreSQL in a home-rolled PHP framework based loosely on Horde. We've been quite successful in the marketplace with our relatively classic technology based on HTML 3.x.

After investing heavily in fully redundant server clustering over the past year or so, we're finding that we'd like to improve our look and feel, improve response time, etc. and the natural way to do this is by incorporating javascript/ajax into our product. We've already begun some using ajax(y) in a few areas where very large tasks need to be coordinated over a long period of time — EG: longer than a typical browser timeout.

But we don't want to re-invent the wheel. There is a bewildering array of javascript frameworks, and with any framework, there's the risk of getting stuck trying to do something not anticipated by the framework developers.

So, which is the best, and why? Which should be avoided? Here are some of the frameworks I've seen so far:

Dojo, Ext JS, Fleejix.js, jQuery, Mochikit, Modello, Mootools, Prototype, Qooxdoo, Rico, and Scriptio. So far, in my research, jQuery and/or Prototype seem to be front runners, Dojo perhaps a close second.

I'd be most interested in the opinions of people who have switched from one to the other, and why?"
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Turbo-charging logging?

mcrbids mcrbids writes  |  more than 6 years ago

mcrbids (148650) writes "I'm revamping our web-based application and am currently reviewing options as far as logging, particularly with redundant, clustered hosting solutions. I've run into a few problems that it seems no amount of online searching seems to have found.

My first concern is about scalability — our application writes directly to local log files. Unfortunately, many of the log entries are quite large and so cannot be piped over syslogd. Other options are much heavier, come with significant administration overhead, or bottlenecks. Is there a syslogd replacement that will allow for very large (tens of KB or larger) log entries?

My next question is about logfile integrity. A perfect log file is write-only, never rewrite. A one-way street, data goes in, gets saved, and never gets deleted. But any log file is essentially just a file, and a single # echo "" > /path/to/log will kill the log file dead. Yes, you can log remotely, but this increases complexity and therefore the chances of failure. Also, what if your remote log server is also compromised? I've been considering the use of a CD-R, especially the ability to recover from a buffer underrun during a write sequence. I've simulated a few, tying up the HDD with I/O while burning a CD-ROM. It under-ran, renegotiated, then resumed writing without incident. Why not use this capability, leave the drive in a sort of permanent under-run, and renegotiate for log entries? Wouldn't doing so create a file that could not effectively be erased, even if the host was compromised?"

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