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Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

mlts Re:Palm IIIx (580 comments)

I have a Palm VII. It was fiddly, but it worked and works now (although no wireless anymore) as a great password manager that is offline and will always remain offline.

The device I have that I say has the best design for being timeless is the Palm V. It is one of those things that even 15 years later, it still looks relatively modern (other than the lack of a color screen.) It held up with daily use for years until smartphones caused the device and its charging cradle to wind up on the shelf for good.

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

mlts Re:test gear that was made in USA in the 50s and 6 (580 comments)

I would say that my old HP48SX calculator with a card for additional functions still works and is useful. Engineering calculations are engineering calculations, and the tactile feel of the buttons is a lot more accurate than trying to use an emulator on a smartphone.

Just the small engineering touches showed outstanding build quality. For example, the card had an edge connector, but there was a sliding metal flap that kept the connector on a card shielded until it was inserted into the calculator.

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

mlts Re:Anything built before 2001 (580 comments)

I remember an early 1990s computer case for a generic 386 (back when we had hundreds of beige box makers.) It had multiple cam locks (Medeco or Ace, forgot which), as well as a keyswitch. It wasn't made out of tinfoil sheet metal as today's cases, the thickness had to be at least 1/8 of an inch. That case was used and reused by a friend of mine because it just worked without issue, and why waste something that well made.

I wouldn't mind going back to the days of repair rather than replace. Better off to pay twice as much for something and be able to maintain/expand/upgrade it than have it break or go obsolete and contribute to more landfill clutter.

yesterday
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Bug Bounties Don't Help If Bugs Never Run Out

mlts Re:There aren't infinite bugs (228 comments)

People talk about bug free code. It is a matter of won't, not a matter of can't.

Sometimes, there are products out there which can be considered "finished". Done as in no extra features needed, and there are no bugs to be found. Simple utilities like /usr/bin/yes come to mind. More complex utilities can be honed to a reasonable degree of functionality (busybox comes to mind.)

The problem isn't the fact that secure or bug free software can't be made. It is that the procedures and processes to do this require resources, and most of the computer industry runs on the "it builds, ship it!" motto [1]. Unfortunately, with how the industry works, if a firm does do the policy of "we will ship it when we are ready", a competitor releasing an early beta of a similar utility will win the race/contracts. So, it is a race to the bottom.

[1]: The exception to this rule being malware, which is probably the most bug-free code written anywhere these days. It is lean, robust, does what it is purposed to do, and is constantly updated without a fuss.

yesterday
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SSD-HDD Price Gap Won't Go Away Anytime Soon

mlts Re:Disagree (248 comments)

I don't see tape being killed off until magnetic density in HDDs hits major diminishing returns. Even though there is only one tape drive maker these days (Quantum with the LTO line), they can keep advancing tape because the media has a lot more area than a HDD platter (or a stack of platters.) An average LTO-6 tape is 846 meters long, and that is a lot of space, even with factoring in the physical contact that the media has to go through.

It would be nice to see a consumer grade tape drive that can run from USB 3 or 3.1, especially if WORM cartridges were available, with media about 1TB native in capacity. Couple this with some decent backup software, and it would come in handy to mitigate data loss. Tape's advantage is that it is inexpensive, easily stored (drop a cartridge, and if there is no physical damage, it will still work), and can be set read-only in hardware.

I've wondered if a HDD maker could make archival grade hard disks, with media that can last 25 years or so. This might require multiple sets of read/write heads (similar to a drive that had two sets and could access different data sets at the same time independantly.) Couple that with a form factor that is easily grippable/manipulable by a robot, and that would replace both VTLs and real tape libraries.

2 days ago
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SSD-HDD Price Gap Won't Go Away Anytime Soon

mlts Re:RAID? (248 comments)

I've seen a couple hard drives in laptops that present themselves to the BIOS as multiple volumes, although I don't know what brand they are (if someone does know the make/model, please enlighten me). One had a 32 GB SSD partition, then a 512 GB HDD partition. Unlike drives that have an 8GB cache, having two volumes allows the OS, swap, perhaps an application to sit on one volume while everything else is on the HDD.

As for the backup hard disk, that is a wise idea as the first level of defense. It can't hurt to have another means of backup just in case malware nails that drive, but having the backup drive will counter a number of "oops" issues (deleted files, etc.)

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: System Administrator Vs Change Advisory Board

mlts Re:Nonsense (285 comments)

There is a balance. If you bend over too much and let them "do your job", there may be grave issues several months down the road.

The problem with that is the "it happened on your watch" statement that will be uttered come any calamities in the future. The patch they rejected that causes an outage later on won't fall on their heads. It will fall on the sysadmin's head. Even though it won't be the sysadmin's fault, they will get fired because management has to appear to do something, and the sysadmin was in the driver's seat.

One can't be a complete douchebag, but one can't just cede control over completely. If push comes to shove, it is better to get laid off because a H-1B is taking over than be fired for cause.

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: System Administrator Vs Change Advisory Board

mlts Re:Nonsense (285 comments)

Another thing that might happen is that change management gets selectively enforced. One set of machines would be scrutinized where every change, even an addition of a drive to an array, would require a meeting and people signing off on the change, while the machines running a different OS would be able to be taken down, reinstalled, or otherwise modified at will without any paperwork needing to be done. (And vice versa.) Even SANs need to be documented because if someone puts both paths of a production box's MPIO links on the same drive controller, then reboots the controller, there will be Hell to pay.

Change management needs to be even across the board, be it SAN configurations, Windows, UNIX, router configurations, ASA rules, phone switch configs, VMWare configurations, and so on. If one group starts getting a free pass, then the whole system ends up being pointless come an outage that ends up being traced to undocumented changes in a part of the company that has gotten carte blanche.

Change management in even a SMB requires someone dedicated to the task of dealing with documenting changes. It requires a dedicated server, change management software, and someone who will maintain/backup/archive that. That server will be a PITA... until an outage happens and the fingers start pointing. Then, it can save a person their job.

Ideally, the change management software should allow people to put in their own changes. Say an admin is changing passwords or moving files from one filesystem to another. Might as well have a tool where items like that can be documented. Same with calls to a vendor for support, so later on, if something breaks, a simple search might come up with historical data.

All and all, a change management system is a good thing. However, it needs to be universally enforced with various grades of policies (emergency fixes can go on without approval, for example) for it to be of any good.

2 days ago
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Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

mlts I'll give you six amendments: (1571 comments)

Here are six amendments (not in any form of airtight legalese) that would be useful:

1: Campaign donations are forbidden. Each candidate for an elected office will get an equivalent place to state their platform. Advertising anything election related on a commercial (paid) basis will be a crime.

2: Similar to Article 9 of the Mexican Constitution: Only US citizens can influence the politics of the nation.

3: A "no confidence" vote can be done on Congress, forcing a complete re-election with no incumbents allowed in for the next term (but can run after that.)

4: Same as Article 23 of the Mexican Constitution. No double jeopardy, and after three trials, the defendant is now absolved of charges.

5: Same as Article 10 of the German Constitution, guaranteeing privacy.

6: The right to a firearm is guaranteed. However, part of school education is firearms training, from elementary school to high school. The purpose of this is to "un-Hollywoodize" firearms, and make them perceived as a tool (similar to a chainsaw or weed whacker), and no more. If packing becomes pedestrian or gauche, the gun control problem will go away by itself.

These are not perfect, but they will go a ways to address critical issues.

2 days ago
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Pollution In China Could Be Driving Freak Weather In US

mlts Re:Polution tax (156 comments)

If the microwave was repairable/servicable with magnetron parts available for example, there wouldn't be anything wrong with an $800 unit. In fact, going back to appliances that are designed to be repaired rather than replaced is probably one of the best ideas that can happen in the market.

One example of this are portable generators. I can buy a no-name Chinese model inverter on the cheap. However, if I need to find a carb, jets, brushes, or other parts, I -might- be able to adapt something, or I might just be SOL and have to buy a new one. Or, I can pay the price premium for a Honda, Yamaha, or Champion make, and be able to find parts almost anywhere.

If LED light bulbs mature enough so they have a long MTBF, then three for $25 is a good deal. That isn't a bad thing either.

Similar with a phone. If it were made somewhat modular where RAM, flash storage, and other parts were upgradable, with the antenna being easily swapped out, then paying twice as much for the device wouldn't be a bad thing.

It would be nice to see something other than the absolute race to the bottom when it comes to materials, fit/finish, customer support, and overall quality.

3 days ago
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How Apple's CarPlay Could Shore Up the Car Stereo Industry

mlts Re:Show me a good regular head unit and (193 comments)

Even the meth-heads have stopped stealing car stereos. That is how stagnant the industry has gotten.

3 days ago
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How 'DevOps' Is Killing the Developer

mlts Re:whine (224 comments)

I have seen some companies have their developers given autonomy, with their own DevOps, mainly because it allows for what is needed to get granted. New subnet for lab testing? It is a lot easier to get a DevOp guy to configure the VLAN for it than to submit a ticket to a different organization that isn't connected at all, nor knows what needs done.

Of all the organizations in a company, dev needs the loosest reins (while still keeping separation so that the loosened policies don't allow for a security breach to compromise other departments.) The other department that needs autonomy is QA, because $DEITY knows what needs to be tested against.

So, having an autonomous DevOps means that the dedicated programmers have people that know what they want/need, and have the ability to get that.

In my experience, this does seem to work and work well in SMBs that are not just hiring H-1Bs or offshoring their entire dev department in toto. Larger companies, depending on corporate culture, not so much. Dev and QA should be autonomous. They have to be because that is where things get invented and bugs get squashed.

3 days ago
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Lack of US Cybersecurity Across the Electric Grid

mlts Re:Energy Control Systems Online? (95 comments)

I wonder what ever happened to the concept of the data diode. That way, stuff can be monitored... but it would take someone physically there for action [1]. I've done this on a low bandwidth basis by using two machines on physically separate networks, a serial cable that has one line cut (so it could only send signal one direction), syslog on one side, and a redirect from the serial port to a file on the other side.

[1]: Of course, this isn't 100%, someone can pretend to be a manager or upper muckety muck, but it is a step up from a remote attacker just typing in blkdiscard /dev/sda on an embedded machine that got exploited.

3 days ago
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The Security of Popular Programming Languages

mlts Wonder how Ada 2012 would fare... (188 comments)

I wonder how Ada 2012 would do in this test, although I don't know of any websites that use this language for a backend.

3 days ago
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The Best Parking Apps You've Never Heard Of and Why You Haven't

mlts Re:Bicycle! And motorcycle. (163 comments)

Similar dilemma. A regular bicycle is unfeasible due to distance. Hopping a bus with a bike is iffish, since there are only two bike spaces in the rack per bus that shows up every hour... and assuming a slot got made free, it would be a battle of speed with others. Which leaves folding bikes and having to lug a Brompton into and out of a building.

Even if you find a space, the parking meters are kiosks on every block, and you -will- get a ticket between the time you walk to the kiosk, get the ticket printed out, and come back to the vehicle to put it on.

So, the easiest thing to do is hail a taxi and go from there.

4 days ago
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Bachelor's Degree: An Unnecessary Path To a Tech Job

mlts Re:It's possible to get a job without a degree... (286 comments)

The ironic thing, most of the places were private companies without a government contract. They wanted the security clearance because someone else did the vetting for them.

It isn't how I like to be, but just what narrow piece I saw after graduating college. Without the alphabet soup, you never had a chance of passing the first rounds.

4 days ago
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Bachelor's Degree: An Unnecessary Path To a Tech Job

mlts Re:It's possible to get a job without a degree... (286 comments)

In my experience, you won't get an HR person's attention unless you have the alphabet soup after your name. A bachelor's gets the resume out of the round file. A MCSE/CCIE/RHCE gets it scheduled. A CISSP or TS-SCI clearance gets it to the tech guys to be interviewed. In fact, when I got out of college, most interviews went like this:

Interviewer: "Do you have a CISSP or TS-SCI? No? Next in line, please."

It really didn't matter about experience... one could be clueless in IT but have a MCSE, and be further along than someone who had many years in the field, but didn't have the cert.

5 days ago
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Mathematicians Use Mossberg 500 Pump-Action Shotgun To Calculate Pi

mlts Re:fixing the parent posting (307 comments)

I'm wondering if they got results without a choke, or at full choke. This might be statistically significant.

5 days ago
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44% of Twitter Users Have Never Tweeted

mlts Re:Probably typical (121 comments)

You can count me in that category. I signed up way back in 2008 because after getting out of college, prospective employers would demand if I had a FB/MySpace/Twitter account, and if not, the interview was up, as the HR rep felt that it was mandatory for anyone in IT to have social networking accounts to be considered up to date in skills.

So, I created a Twitter account, followed EMC and a few other names, and called it done... it did make the bean counters happy because they thought I was "with it".

5 days ago
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UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate

mlts Re:Nuclear? (429 comments)

+1.

We have 50-60 years of technology advancements. Look how cars have advanced. Had there not been such a strong oil/coal lobby, there would be advancements that would be impossible in today's political climate:

1: Thermal depolymerization -- turn waste products back into crude ready for use again.

2: Droughts would be mitigated as issue with desalination plants combined with the infrastructure to pump it inland.

3: More technologies would be possible to reclaim used components. Waste can be recycled cleanly.

4: More expensive (expensive as in energy) chemical processes can be used to reclaim toxic sites.

I think future generations will think we are dolts as not to have moved to nuclear sooner, because more energy available per person can mean a lot more advances and a better quality of life.

5 days ago

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