Ask Slashdot: Unattended Maintenance Windows?
I do this for a lot of clients. Automatic Deployment Rules in Configuration Manager, Scripts, Cron jobs etc. For test / dev, it absolutely makes sense as I usually have a monitoring system that goes into Maintenance Mode during the updates. If things take too long or if services aren't restored post update, the monitoring system gives me a shout that something needs remediated.
For production, it varies on the expected impact. If it's something I tested in pilot with zero issues and the application isn't something with an insane SLA, sure, I'll use an automatic deployment. When I'm working on hospital equipment such as servers processing imaging or vitals monitoring for surgery, that gets nix'ed no matter what due to the liability concerns. I usually suggest building up trust / experience by automating the less critical systems and phasing in more sensitive systems until you've both gained a lot of experience with it and have more management support to do so as when crap goes down, it's easier to say this is a tested processed we've been using for years vs yeah, oops, new script sorry that knocked down our ERP system.... Resume generating event right there...
So, I guess it depends, just another tool for the toolbox and it's up to the carpenter to know when to pull it out.
New Home Automation?
I have a similar layout, around 3,800 sq feet on three levels. Z-Wave is indeed a solid recommendation to build the individual items on. GE's Jasc products (in wall outlets, in wall switches, adapter outlets are pretty good, I've got a bunch and I've yet to have an issue. Amazon usually has decent prices but be VERY careful about what switches you buy as three and four-way switches are not wired like you'd expect as one will be a normal switch and the others simply send a signal to that outlet - very different from traditional wiring.
For the hub, you'll want to evaluate what type of features you want. Do you want internet or smart phone connected (you probably do) - in which case take a look at SmartThings or Mi Casa Verde. The problem I've run into however is that if you want to tinker, not all products play well with other products. You can't use SmartThings to control Phillips Hue light bulbs for example - instead you have to integrate the bulbs into IFTTT.com's web service and then trigger them via the web via actions in SmartThings. Totally does work, but it adds a small amount of latency. When you flip a switch, you really do expect instant results and that 1/2 to 1 second is perceivable.
Another question is security, do you want open/close sensors on your doors and windows? Now is the time to wire it if you can and the wiring is thin and cheap. The z-wave wireless sensors you buy work, but do you really want to swap out batteries on a house that size? Plus, they seem unreasonably priced by my standard. Wired ones are 1/3 the going rate and are much more failure resistant.
You'll of course want ethernet around for your normal PCs, but make sure to add in a good location for wireless routers and put a few jacks where you'd want video cameras, even if you don't want to install them right now. Cable is cheap, rewiring isn't. Also, while Z-Wave products create their own mesh networks, the hubs that translate from Z-Wave to WiFi or ethernet need to have a good connection for them to work well. I find that I have to buy an extended range model to cover the house, but my location isn't ideal. That said, depending on your building materials you might need a repeater or two so an extra jack is a godsend when you need it. Keep in mind, you'll need a switch closet somewhere if you put a jack in each room. I ended up with 14 jacks coming into a bedroom simply due to poor planning regarding where the cable drop for internet ended up. I really should have put that in an actual wiring closest or something but too much was already dry walled before I got involved.
Schlage makes good door locks by the way. Tried a couple before ended up with them. PINs are so much easier to manage when I need someone to dogsit.
Audio: do you want centralized music/media controls? If so, it's easy now and a PITA later. Wireless exists, but latency is always an issue and SONOS is damned expensive.
How Safe Is Cycling?
And Boulder is one of the most bike friendly cities in the world where drivers are used to cyclists and he's still had several major and potentially life threatening injuries (if it was enough force to break a collar bone, he could have broken his neck if he'd landed differently). Image what it's like elsewhere.
Motorola Uses NFC To Enable Touch-to-Unlock For Smartphones
The part most folks are missing that while you could do this on certain custom roms, almost every phone maker has the NFC sensor turned off unless the device is unlocked. While I use tasker and NFC quite a lot, I can't make it do this without installing a custom rom that enables the NFC. Now the flip side is that if the device is processing NFC when locked, that means someone can bump into you and have your phone activate website URLs or trigger things like google wallet depending on your settings.
Ask Slashdot: How Do I Request Someone To Send Me a Public Key?
I have to do this all the time for work as I used to manage an large HR unit's IT needs - and they really do need your SSN, on every damn piece of documentation...
Find a secure service or hosting option that meets your security requirements, there are hundreds out there. Personally I tend to use LastPass's secure notes or if it's not super secure data I'll just use Evernote w/ attachments and send them a private URL. Again, if you don't like those options, there are literally hundreds of others including roll-your-own services, I've used Accellions (clunky but it works), Box.net and Dropbox or even just spinning up your own web server w/ a required password you give them over the phone. All of varying levels of security and hassle to the end users. To them, it's just an email with a link and perhaps they have to enter their email or go through a sign up process the first time.
It doesn't have to be that hard.
Colorado Town Considers Drone-Hunting Licenses
Keep in mind, it's Colorado, permitted growing is allowed currently for medical and will soon be available for recreational as well. Sadly as a resident of the state, I'm in the loop as I used to work on a university campus.
Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Block Noise In a Dorm?
While I don't have ADHD, I work adjacent to a call center and find it completely unbearable.
I often use music, but the noise level would be so high that it could lead to hearing damage for 8 hour shifts unless I also paired it with extremely bulk isolation cans which I don't find comfortable.
For about $100 you can get Active noise canceling headphones on Amazon. They work even if you are not listening to music and will actively negate the noise with opposing sound waves from the area giving you a highly muffled experience and I can speak from experience that it handles human voices well as well as things like jet and train noise. (disclaimer: I'm not a sound engineer so do your own research). I use the Sony ones, but other brands may be good as well.
Ask Slashdot: Little Boxes Around the Edge of the Data Center?
No idea about others here, but nearly all of our peripheral boxes got pulled into virtualization projects and the "private cloud" thing management bought into. Seems to increase reliability in our systems since they get "free" piggy back rides on high availability systems so one DC failure doesn't take down our even our semi-important systems.
To access them we just fire up the VPN with two factor auth over wireless at Starbucks from our laptop/tablet/phone if we need to log in. Beats the hell out of sitting in the chill, roar or heat of the DC.
Ask Slashdot: Best On-Site Backup Plan?
Even if you don't want it in the cloud, CrashPlan has a good PC to PC software (Free) that's very friendly and allows version control. Either way, you are a fool if you don't have an offsite. Most thefts or things worthy of an insurance claim would destroy or make unavailable your backups.
Find a family member or friend with an acceptable internet connection, trade them external hard drives and allow reciprocal backups over the wire.
Reality though, maintaining multiple TB drives is more expensive per year than paying a cloud service.
Ask Slashdot: Scripting-Friendly Smartphones?
No need to rebuild the wheel, most data centers have various monitoring capabilities ranging from WebServer enabled monitoring systems (personally I like the units from ITWatchDogs), SNMP trapping to hand written scripting. Just borrow that functionality for your lab equipment.
Here's what I do to monitor temp, security, water leaks, fire etc:
Purchase a sensor unit that supports SNMP trapping or is able to push email alerts (WeatherGoose II ITWatchDogs was about the cheapest I could find for DC rack monitoring needs I had that supported lots of external devices, dialers etc). Since it supports various external sensors, you can make your own and tie it into the monitoring system (temp, humidity etc are built in, but smoke alarms etc are extra add-ons that either you buy or you can make as long as it's the right voltage).
If using SNMP, have a monitoring server that can react any number of given ways, mine sends screen shots of the room from the security camera as well as and various alerts for too high temp, water leaks etc. If it's fire, it CC's our emergency fire system. I also use other things like "Site Uptime" monitors and such from 3rd parties on the email front, but that's more targeted at mail servers.
For email alerts, I have a couple rules in Exchange (on the server level) to distribute it accordingly.
I do use Tasker heavily to automate my phone, but really I don't rely on it as being mission critical as you never know when you'll be out of reception. Instead I try to use the servers to handle responses to the rest of my team and use Tasker to control when and when not to wake me up in the middle of the night.
Midwest Earthquake Hazard Downplayed
Mountain Grove Missouri closed their entire school system that day. I distinctly remember having a new NES game and being particularly annoyed that I was explicitly told not to stay inside at any point of the day for more than a few minutes.
Hacking Automotive Systems
A lot of us car nuts have been hacking our car computers for years. There's systems that go light years beyond the factory systems. 10 years ago, I was able to use my Palm Pilot II to modify my fuel trims while driving, monitor horsepower and adjust an electronically controlled boost controller for my turbo. That was all on a 1990 Talon AWD so it didn't even had ODBII yet.
My new model actually fully replaced the EEPROM chips in the ECU and has bluetooth capabilities to be controlled from my smartphone, controls the doorlocks, radio, moonroof etc. In theory, it would be a trival bluetooth hack to not only cause the engine to stop but to detonate the engine (destroy - not actually cause an explosion) by pulling the fuel trims too lean. The bluetooth module was a snap on vampire chip with a tiny lead to a receiver. The whole system looked 100% factory and was tiny.
It would be a trival system to integrate a remote kill and unless they were specifically looking for a technology related problem, investigators would likely never realize that it had been installed.
Look At Sick People To Give Your Immune System a Boost
I'll admit, I only skimmed the article, but wouldn't it make a lot more sense that the immune system would be boosted from the physical act of them taking the "Before" sample? The fact that you're missing blood is something the body would definately sense and react to. Not saying it's implausible, but it seems like a rather large hole in the logic.
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