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Comments

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I think next winter will be:

racermd Re:winter is coming (91 comments)

In the upper-midwest, we still get 4 seasons. However, they're unique to the geographical area.

Almost Winter - Lasts about 2 months in October/November. Leaves fall off the trees early "just in case." Sometimes they're right about oncoming snow, other times, they get it quite wrong and we don't see anything until nearly January. Either way, it's a yearly mess.
Winter - Lasts about 4 months from December through March. Prime hockey season - playing or watching. You don't drive so much as do your best to control the constant skid on your way to/from work/bar.
Still Winter - Lasts about a week in late March or early April where, if you begin thinking it's spring, the weather will dump one last "Hurrah!" snowfall to ruin the first grilling day you schedule because the weather was nice for about that week.
Road and Car Repair - Lasts about 6 months between April and October. Damage to roads and cars are repaired in preparation for the next stretch of cold, snow, salt, and sand.

Why I still live here, I have no idea. But I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Maybe I'm crazy...

8 hours ago
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Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

racermd Re:"Accidentally" (455 comments)

There's a big difference going from squad-mounted cameras to officer-worn cameras. The cars can have systems mounted in them to maintain their own archive throughout the retention period (if necessary) and offload on demand, though offloading to a central repository makes sense, too. The officer-worn camera isn't going to built like that since, presumably, it has to be as light and unobtrusive as possible. As such, storage is going to last for a few shifts before needing to be overwritten. It certainly won't be enough to last the mandated retention period. It's likely going to be docked at the end of an officer's shift for the offload to occur.

Also, with regards to the license plate reader (LPR) systems, they usually only keep the video long enough to process the license plates and, maybe, keep a still-frame image of the plate being read. That's a LOT less storage space required than keeping the full video.

As far as training is concerned, the officers really only need to know the basics. How to wear it, how to plug it into the base station when done with their shift, etc.

Lastly, make no mistake - law enforcement agencies across the nation don't really like the idea of wearing cameras at all times. They're doing it not to monitor the public at-large but rather to cover their own behinds when a "he-said/she-said" argument is raised, particularly with citizen video evidence that may show events out of context. Tracking the public is really only something those at higher levels are particularly interested in - state and federal level agencies, primarily.

about two weeks ago
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Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

racermd Re:"Accidentally" (455 comments)

The way this sort of thing works from a non-video perspective is that records are stored for a set retention period as defined by that particular policy. In many instances, that means about a year but can vary from organization to organization. It doesn't matter what the retention period is so long as it's published and followed.

If an incident occurs, a car crash for example, those relevant records are manually flagged in the system and often copied out to be maintained separately in a case file. A very similar setup would likely be implemented for video recordings.

The problem, again, is adequate storage to keep ALL video recordings within the retention period so they can be accessed should a case be opened for them. The storage necessary for individual case files would need to be increased, as well, but not at the same scale.

about two weeks ago
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Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

racermd Re:"Accidentally" (455 comments)

I have some actual experience with this subject as an employee of a company that installs and supports various recording equipment for various public safety organizations - mostly the local, county, and state police and mostly the multi-line phone/radio recording equipment. The company I work for also installs and supports interview room video recording equipment, handheld and remote dictation equipment, and a bunch of other stuff that may or may not be geared towards the public safety sector.

We looked into installing and supporting officer-worn cameras but the market is actually pretty dry from a reseller point of view. There's really only two major players in that space with equipment that agencies actually want to buy (and one of the companies rhymes with "phaser"). All other manufacturers are basically joke products, mostly due to their inability to compete on bulk (or, specifically, lack thereof), price, or features. The two major players aren't talking to resellers right now - one is in-house only with their own nation-wide (and probably world-wide) sales staff, the other is just too busy trying to get resellers signed up across the nation.

Background out of the way, the major problem as I see it is logistics. The political issue of recording everything an officer does while on-duty is pretty much settled at this point - it's going to happen. But how does an agency handle all that raw data? Police forces are typically run on a shoestring budget and rely heavily on donations. The cost of implementing a storage mechanism for all that raw video, with backups and redundancies, for their mandated retention period, is not a trivial task.

And don't think the agencies can simply go out to Amazon, Google, or Dropbox for cloud storage. That video is considered "criminal justice data" and cannot simply be stored on a commercial-grade cloud. There are specific rules on data access such that it must be 100% controlled by the entity that generated it (read: police). Even non-police IT staff from the city, county, or state have to be certified for doing IT work for a police agency since they're exposed to criminal justice data in the course of doing their job. Granted, it's not terribly difficult to get that certification, but the rules about what you can and cannot do and the punishments for violating rules are quite lengthy. Every state in the U.S. has very similar rules since it's ultimately driven by, and approved by, the FBI - all the way up to the director. Long story short, agencies need their own storage system with their own, dedicated off-site backups that only certified people can access - physical, logical, or otherwise.

So the purchase of the camera system is the first major expense. Training on how to wear and use the cameras also incurs a substantial expense. Storage is going to be wicked expensive. Let's then move into how to actually USE the recorded video.

I don't think the body cameras are going to be streaming all the recorded video in real-time to the central repository. Right now, I'm betting all the video is stored on the device in a memory buffer. Once the shift is done, the camera is likely placed into a dock of some sort for offload. Even if a system is developed so the recordings are immediately offloaded or streamed to a car-mounted storage mechanism, it still needs to go back to the central storage repository. That makes real-time analysis of the video quite a bit more difficult. I would think the initial use of the video from the body camera is going to be quite similar to that of the phone/radio recording solution - analysis after-the-fact for training and/or used as evidence in a court case. Both situations are going to occur quite a bit after the video was recorded.

What they're (probably) NOT going to do is mine that video for use with LPR software. As it is, the LPR software is tied to the squad cars so officers in the field are more aware of their surroundings. Feeding a near-constant stream of video from dozens of officers per day just to keep track of a handful more cars and their potential locations at a given point in the day is not exactly a cost-effective (money nor time) way to use the cameras. The video is simply going to be available as another source of evidence when dealing with conflicting reports of what the police or subject(s) did or didn't do.

about three weeks ago
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Of the following, I'd rather play ...

racermd Re:Munchkin! (274 comments)

We have a simple Munchkin rule in our group - no player can take more than, say, 30 seconds to play a card or they lose their turn. This rule is selectively enforced if the table thinks the game is taking too long and is announced before it takes effect.

Also, as regards to the "gang-up" play, we actually have players whose sole mission is to screw with the leader because they never plan to win. It's an expected part of the game. Eventually, however, as a second (and third) player nears the point of winning, the pool of cards available to those types of players to do much of anything effective starts to dwindle and gives other players a window to win.

Our group is usually 4-8 people and we rarely get over 45 minutes per game of Munchkin. Monopoly games often take longer than that for the same number of people.

about a month ago
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Police Recording Confirms NYPD Flew At a Drone and Never Feared Crashing

racermd Re: So (310 comments)

The recording of police dispatch traffic falls under a different mandate but achieves similar results. Every PSAP has such a mandate but is specified on a case-by-case and agency-by-agency basis.

Also, I'm pretty sure the normal dispatch radio traffic doesn't overlap much with the FAA radio traffic (if ever) and I doubt that sort of traffic was recorded by the NYPD under their records-retention mandate. Obviously, they'll have their own radio dispatch traffic recorded (which probably has some aircraft-to-dispatch traffic) but will probably leave the FAA to record anything going on in the skies between the aircraft and the tower. What was released was the FAA recordings and was most likely not recorded by the NYPD. I don't think we've heard the NYPD dispatch traffic yet and, at this point, I doubt we will.

I speak with some experience on this sort of matter but only from the perspective of my locality - as in, not NYC.

about 2 months ago
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Police Recording Confirms NYPD Flew At a Drone and Never Feared Crashing

racermd Re:So (310 comments)

The flight controller didn't do any of the recording. The FAA (a *federal* agency, mind you) mandates ALL radio transmissions be recorded. The flight controller's only job is to control traffic. They have zero ability to trigger, delete, modify, etc., recordings. The pilot of every aircraft should know this so it wouldn't be something they'd be all that concerned about. Their supervisors/managers on the ground may not know this, however... And the FAA is quite good about responding to FOIA requests.

Also, firing a federal employee is actually really hard, even for cause. Usually, they're just given a crappy job with almost nothing to do so they'll feel motivated to quit on their own. Trust me, that's actually a LOT easier than getting firing someone at the federal level. Besides, even the NYPD can't get a federal employee fired since the NYPD is a state-level agency.

The most likely outcome, in my opinion, is that the NYPD will grudgingly admit their mistake, tell the pair to knock it off in some semi-friendly manner while the cameras are watching, then go back to business-as-usual until they're caught in their own lies again. Meanwhile, we'll all continue to bitch and moan about the "police state" and post ignorant comments in random places on the internet. Heck, I'm doing that right now!

about 2 months ago
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I prefer my peppers ...

racermd Re:Depends on the dish (285 comments)

I'll do you one better. My mother could never eat Heinz ketchup because, to her, it was too spicy. I think it might have been the garlic or onion flavors in it. We always had Hunts in the fridge.

Until I finally moved out on my own (a few decades ago), I hadn't realized food was supposed to have so much actual flavor! My mom's cooking was clearly centered around her sensitivities. I wouldn't say my brother, father, and I suffered, per se, but I can appreciate a much wider variety of foods now that I know what they're *supposed* to taste like. Food hasn't been boring ever since.

about 6 months ago
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Some Sites That Blue Coat Blocks Under "Pornography"

racermd Quite misleading (119 comments)

There are a number of assumptions being made about all of this.

First, it's assuming one is using BlueCoat to begin with.

Second, it's assuming that the users of BlueCoat products are using some of BlueCoat's subscription services to ease management of those devices.

Third, it's assuming that the users of BlueCoat products are not modifying the filters by hand.

I've had some hands-on experience with BlueCoat products in the past, particularly the web-filtering/proxy devices described here, and our organization was large enough to have some of our staff (including myself) manage it part-time as part of their full-time IT responsibilities. We set it up in full white-list mode so that everything not explicitly allowed was blocked by default. We could have set it up in black-list mode or even a hybrid black- and white-list mode. We did not, however, subscribe to the filtering list that BlueCoat offers. That's just one option a customer can choose.

It is unacceptable to me that such filter subscriptions should block well-meaning websites under the guise of preventing porn. But it's entirely possible to remove or even white-list those same sites, on an individual basis, by the customer even if they're included as part of the filter subscription configuration. It's lazy on the part of the staff at BlueCoat for maintaining an inaccurate list and it's lazy on the part of IT managers and staff for keeping those sites blocked if their policies didn't specifically prohibit users from accessing them. The blame can't be solely pinned on BlueCoat, but they certainly share a significant portion of it with IT staff.

about 6 months ago
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How Do You Backup 20TB of Data?

racermd A backup is just another copy (983 comments)

I'm in a similar situation and I actually have planned for a worst-case scenario. However, my storage needs are slightly more modest at about 5TB (give or take).

My main, active archive exists on my primary desktop and is the location that will get the most changes. That, in turn, is backed up to a dedicated NAS server (currently an 8-bay Synology unit packed with 3TB disks) in my home. THAT, in turn, is backed up, off-site to a friend's NAS units of similar construction and capacity via CrashPlan. The free version offers "backup to a friend's computer" as an option, though the paid subscription offers to store data on CrashPlan's servers, instead. The cost is fairly reasonable for that option if none of your friends has enough storage for you.

One other last point - it might not make sense to back up EVERYTHING you have. Photos, critical documents, etc. (things you can't easily replace) should absolutely be backed up. Copies of game files, software installations, etc. (things that can be replaced relatively easily from the original media) should probably be left out of the backup set. That limits the amount of remote storage required as well as the time it takes to back up those items in the first place.

about 6 months ago
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Crowdsourcing Confirms: Websites Inaccessible on Comcast

racermd Re:Stop (349 comments)

Alternatively - use one of your ISP's DNS servers, one Google DNS server, and, if possible, one other 3rd party DNS server. Assign them in any order you'd like. For me, it's OpenDNS, Google DNS, ISP DNS, in that order, as I'd prefer to get results from someone OTHER than my ISP but also not Google, if I can avoid it. They already know far too much about everything as it is. There's no sense in giving them an additional information vector.

about 6 months ago
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New Home Automation?

racermd Re:conduit in anticipation (336 comments)

Assuming 100v/120v (as is common in the U.S. and a few other places), a 30A plug is going to be quite different than the standard 2- or 3-prong plug typically found inside the average home. Instead, they're usually the circular variety with a twist-to-lock design. They're nice for devices with high-current requirements, like air compressors and some welders. But it's probably more practical to put in more of the 20A variety so those devices with the more typical 3-prong plugs can connect.

about 8 months ago
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Could IBM's Watson Put Google In Jeopardy?

racermd Re:Better searches no good if they're too slow (274 comments)

My point was that Google has diversified so much that ad revenue from search isn't a make/break deal for the survivability or even general health of the company. They're not going to give it up without a significant fight but, while it's also a big one, it's not their only revenue stream. Not by a long shot. They'll survive - comfortably - without the search portal if they have to.

about a year ago
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Could IBM's Watson Put Google In Jeopardy?

racermd Re:Better searches no good if they're too slow (274 comments)

Good point. And this is also ignoring that the question is rather moot, anyway. Google's dominance in the search-engine game isn't as important as it once was. Their other service offerings, like GMail, Maps, etc., are FAR more important to the company that the search engine and portal. Even *if* a competitor comes along and de-thrones Google from the search space, Google has far more going on in other aspects of its business to worry about it for more than a few minutes. Watson de-throning Google in search isn't going to disrupt Google as much as the original article might suggest.

Google's main income is ad revenue in those products, including search. The users are the product being sold to advertisers. As long as Google can keep getting eyeballs on ads, no matter the service offering, their income stream is safe.

about a year ago
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If I could change what's "typical" about typical laptops ...

racermd Re:Tall screens, essentially square (591 comments)

I guess you missed the class where they showed everyone the Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V commands which are probably far more common than anything the Insert key does.

That said, I use Alt-Ctrl-Ins when connected to a VM console and I need to use Alt-Ctrl-Del for any reason since that's the designated "alternate" for that combo within the VMWare window.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Protecting Home Computers From Guests?

racermd Some realisticlly helpful advice (572 comments)

If saying, "no," isn't an option, try these suggestions.

One option might be to set up a laptop with some sort of reversion/reimaging software. If you're into Windows, try something like DeepFreeze. This is probably the least labor-intensive option. You just need to un-freeze it, in a clean state, to do software and OS updates before re-freezing it again. The user has full control over the computer (as much as you want, anyway) and is simply reset to the pre-defined state upon reboot. The DeepFreeze software, I believe, can also leave some areas unlocked so changes there can persist through a reboot, if desired.

Another option might be to set up a laptop to PXE boot and get a read-only image to boot from. Configure all changes to be saved to local media until you decide to wipe it clean. This requires some network infrastructure to set up as well as keeping the custom boot image up-to-date.

Yet another option would be offer up an "unlocked" laptop but drop it on a "protected" VLAN with heavy internet filtering. Again, there's some network infrastructure to set up as well as some likely subscription fees for filtering software/hardware at the gateway. The bonus here is that, if you have any (now or later), kids' computers can be placed on that VLAN without too much worry on your part. It also protects the rest of your computer equipment from being attached from the inside of your LAN by a compromised device since it'll be on a totally separate "untrusted" VLAN. This isn't exclusive to the other options presented here, either, and can be used in combination.

You could also just bite the bullet and simply re-image the laptop every time someone uses it. Again, if you're into Windows, you could easily set up Windows Server with WDS and capture a customized WIM image so it'll have all the apps you want installed from the get-go. Other options exist for Linux and Mac.

One last option I can think of involves an Android tablet that can be re-imaged back to stock form easily. Samsung units are good about this with the ODIN tool and a USB connection. Just connect the device to the computer, select the appropriate image in the ODIN utility, and it's back to factory-fresh form in a matter of minutes.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Best To Set Up a Parent's PC?

racermd Re:Remote Access to BIOS (firmware) level .... (418 comments)

vPro only works when you've got all the supporting pieces to allow it to work. And the remote access part of it is under the AMT umbrella.

Got that K-series Core i5/i7? vPro isn't going to work. Got a Z75 chipset? Again, vPro isn't baked in and it won't work. Got a computer with an older Core2 CPU? There's an extensive list of requirements which probably were never shipped with consumer-grade computers when new (it was quite specific).

Even if we assume the computer has all the right hardware, you still need to enable and configure it in the BIOS (if it isn't enabled by default), then make sure you've got access through the router/firewall. Remember, we're assuming a relative is calling for help on their home computer.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Best To Set Up a Parent's PC?

racermd Re:Get TeamViewer (418 comments)

I don't normally reply to ACs but I need to here.

My reason for LogMeIn over RDP (even the Remote Assistance feature) is two-fold:

First, I get unprompted, unrequested access to the computer. The person actually requesting help doesn't need to do a thing other than make sure the computer is powered on (and, presumably, connected to the internet). They don't have to click on anything. They don't have to be walked through opening ports on the router/firewall. If the computer is powered on and connected to the internet, I can just log in and get to work on the problem. If they've got a problem impacting LogMeIn connectivity, their problem is likely severe enough to require me on-site, anyway.

Second, assuming a LogMeIn Pro account is used, there's the back-end file transfer and other management tools I can use without interfering with the user sitting at the keyboard. I can set up alerts for all sorts of behavioral problems - event log triggers, application crashes, CPU/Memory usage above a threshold for a period of time, etc. That way, I would know about problems BEFORE they called for my help.

about a year and a half ago
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Don't Want a Phonebook? Give Up Your Privacy

racermd Re:File a police complaint for littering (357 comments)

This isn't a question of not getting a regularly-scheduled life-saving $thing. This is a phone book. If someone gets opted-out by a 3rd party and they still want to get a phone book, they should get an annual mailer (that everyone gets) telling them how to get one.

Tell me the publishers of the phone books wouldn't be happy to send one from their stockpile anytime someone wanted one.

They don't need anything more than an address to NOT deliver to.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Best To Set Up a Parent's PC?

racermd Re:Get TeamViewer (418 comments)

RDP works great when you've got the router/firewall rules set up for it. However, it's a bit of a security risk to set it up and leave it.

TeamViewer is nice if you can get them to walk through the steps to get a connection going. Same goes for all other types of "request help" options.

I prefer the free version of LogMeIn. The agent is small and it generally stays out of the way when you're not using it. If you get a support call, you can just jump into the computer without any action on their part. If you pay to get a LogMeIn Pro account (it's not exactly cheap which discourages personal use), you can do a lot more back-end monitoring/alerting and system maintenance (file copies, remote command prompt console, event log viewer, start/stop services, etc.) without directly affecting the console session.

about a year and a half ago

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