2371 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
The disks may go, but the blocks will remain
Strange how things stick around.
Ever since spinning storage came into being, it's been based on blocks of data. Blocks make up files and directories. Block sizes change, the error correction associated with them also changes, but the concept has been remarkably resilient for 50+ years.
Given that almost everything else in the computing world, including memory word size, has changed during that time, shouldn't there be more suitable formats for storing and retrieving data than a mechanism devised for technology over half a century old?
Not just a technical problem
A "disaster" could involve staff, too.
For example, what if the canteen serves a dodgy lunch and all your network admins are off sick for 2 or 3 days?
How about if your star DBA leaves and takes his/hers/its sidekick to the new firm ... and another DBA starts maternity leave ... and the last one, sick of having to do the work of 4 people has a nervous breakdown? You can't train up replacements in the blink of an eye - and training them takes time away from doing the job, itself.
As with most problems that actually bite companies in the arse, it's not the foreseen situations that are the problem: they are the ones that will have contingency plans. It's often the ones we are blind to because they are so familiar that we can't even see them.
Not what you think
> It has reduced his sexual drive
Isn't that the HDD where you keep the porn?
Re: I did 1,000 hours work at University
>>Not as much physics as there is now?
>Would you mind expanding on that?
Well, for a kick-off, one extra-curricular lecture we had was from a colleague of some guy at Cambridge who has some interesting ideas (not even theories at that point) about event horizons an' stuff. There's been a lot of work on cosmology in the past 30+ (cripes, that's depressing) years: string theory, branes, shennanigans just after the BB . Not to mention the discovery of most of the quarks.
Re: I did 1,000 hours work at University
> Couple of hours lecture a day and a few hours work outside that ... sounds about right.
My Physics BSc. course was roughly 30 hours of lectures and lab work a week. "Homework" on top of that.
Looking at non-Oxbridge university terms now, they appear to be about 10 weeks each. So as a rough calculation, my course took up about 1,000 hours in the first year alone.
What does grate is that when I was studying the subject, some decades ago, wasn't even as much physics as there is now.
Govt. in the wrong business?
> would return £20 for every £1 spent
That would require those rural users to consume an awful lot of porn. Will HMG then start financing other errr ... "industries" to satisfy this demand from these newly connected folk (assuming their tastes are the same as their urban cousins).
Or will these benefits to the economy be more pedestrian and largely illusory? Such as being able to tell the estate agents that your house in the boonies has high-speed internet, thus increasing its value by 10 or 20 grand?
Let the arguments commence
> Phones, tablets, ebook readers, MP3 players - ... allowed to stay on ...[except] “bulky” laptops, because of their size and concerns they might get in the way during an emergency situation
"I'm sorry sir/madam, you'll have to put your tablet away, it's too bulky and might cause injury in an emergency."
"But that guy over there has a much bigger device (guy turns to the camera, smiles and gets a "ting" star added to his upper incisor) and you've let him keep it."
And so the pre-flight fights start. With everyone else using their flight-approved devices to video the jerk¹ in question. Will we need the iphone equivalent of case-checking frames: small enough to fit in and you can keep it on. Too big or overweight and away it goes.
While I applaud the sudden and uncharacteristic attack of common sense, I can see yet more rows caused before take off, when everybody else just wants the flight to start.
 deliberately left ambiguous as to whether the jerk is the attendant or the passenger.
Good idea gone bad
On the face of it, you'd think it would be a simple matter for Invitations to Tender to stipulate that the bidding companies must not be currently under investigation (or that their parent companies mustn't be, either) for tax irregularities in their registered country.
However it would appear that a rule such as this would make it impossible for HMG to outsource anything to any of the "usual suspects". Whether that would open the door for a new generation of independent, squeaky-clean, contractors to pick up - or whether any new contenders would only qualify since they hadn't yet been given the opportunity to screw-over the taxpayer, is questionable.
Could the solution be a compromise where companies would only be barred from future government contracts if they were really, really corrupt? Or would that still disqualify all the exisiting players?
> still has a stake in social network
What? Like Van Helsing had a stake¹ in Dracula?
 Actually, he didn't. He used a knife through the heart. But that would not make much sense (as if that was a criterion).
Re: Better storage
> You need an SD card made with SLC Flash
You could well be right. But doesn't that just delay the inevitable failures?
I appreciate that the Pi was never designed, nor meant, to be used in environments where reliability was important, but there doesn't seem to have been much work done with the Linux distros to mitigate what must be a very common failure mode.
Re: Better storage
> I need to look at the configuration a bit more closely to eliminate as many writes to the SD card as possible.
Yes, I've discovered the same problem. I have a Pi in a remote location (my Mum's house) that' is running 24*7. It used to burn through SD cards in a couple of months in normal operation. I diddled around a bit and put /var/log and /tmp on tmpfs . So far this card has been running for 6 weeks and no obvious corruptions yet. Fingers crossed.
But I'd never trust the Pi as the sole storage device for any valuable data. I don't even trust that it will run for months or years unattended.
> a new curved iPhone
Has anyone analysed the screens of phones (or monitors, for that matter) and come up with any functional benefits that would accrue from a non-flat screen?
I have a distinct feeling that this gimmick falls into the "because we can" category for the fashion conscious and could well be the next 3D so far as irrelevant and pointless technological changes (I nearly said: advances) are concerned.
If you're ever described as "core .... "
Just remember that the core is the part of the fruit that is discarded after all the nice, fleshy, bits have been consumed.
Cornflakes and beer
> Obviously we're not referring to anyone who works at Vulture Central
Why not? Don't they have cornflakes for breakfast?
Quite apt, really
Let's look at what we have here.
A company that has no tangible products has a share price that is at artificially high levels because it's trading on a market that is bouyed up by the continued "printing" of imaginary money (aka $1Tn per year of quantitative easing).
Why do I feel like I'm stuck in a gigantic game of monopoly, where the only losers are people with real, live, stuff you can touch?
There is no innocence
> God forbid you are innocent
The difference between being found guilty and not being found guilty (whether not being charged, or being acquitted in a trial) is only in the degree to which you are punished. In ALL CASES, irrespective of your guilt, bad things happen to you.
As the article says, even before you are charged, you are deprived of your freedom Every piece of electronic storage is removed from your house - some of which you may get back, though whether it would be after weeks, months or years is questionable. So how do you manage your work and your life while your "property" is gathering dust in a police lock-up?
The only solution is to buy replacements, presuming you are allowed to. So apart from the time you spent in a cell, you are also several £££hundred or thousand out of pocket - and still no-one's even charged you with doing anything wrong.
The problem is that our laws are based on the 18th century ideas of freedom and physical captivity. While you might be freed to walk the streets at some point after you finish "helping police with their enquiries", modern-day freedom requires a lot more than just physical presence. So all the restrictions and confiscations (whether temporary or permanent) exact a huge toll on ordinary people living ordinary, modern lives. Can you imagine a motorist having their car impounded for months while a traffic cop (possibly any given force's only qualified "forensic" traffic cop) plods slowly through the backlog of cases, for months on end, until they get to your 31MPH and only then decide not to prosecute and hand you back several car-shaped pieces of your vehicle? That seems to be on a par with the sort of thing that an IT accusation can bring.
Re: Fixing the wrong problem
> the real skill programmers lack is in business, rather than what business lack is an ability to understand software
The key point is that programming is a technical skill and business acumen (not necessarily through formal qualifications - I suspect that real-world experience beats an MBA every time) is an enabling skill.
Technical skills without the means to apply them are just as useless as being able to run a business but not having anything to "sell". As we all know, there is generally a chasm between the techies and the business people: they talk different languages and get frustrated with each others' inability to see that they are right.
The question is: can you teach techies to "do" business and can you teach entrepreneurs to write code? The practical world shows us that in most cases, the techy tends to end up working for the innovator, rather than being the one who runs the show - though that could be down to choice rather than drive. Hence giving programmers lessons in running a business would move them closer to self-generated success, than trying to get a successful business-person to understand objects, pointers, interrupts and GIT.
I suppose the ultimate goal would be to get the monkey to do the lot.
Fixing the wrong problem
> hordes of British kids embraced programming, as did many adults, delivering the most IT-literate workforce in the world
But almost none of them had any business nouse, whatsoever.
That is what was lacking - not programming skills. It's all very well being able to poke and push and type HEX into a Sinclair ZX80. But unless you can analyse the market, identify what products will be needed next year, persuade the banks to lend you the monkey and employ the right people to: (a) work together and (b) come up with the goods, then being able to write tight code is irrelevant.
> the collective relief-sighs of spooks,
But spooks make their living from uncertainty and insecurity. Not from having a world that is happy, safe and secure. So if there was any unclenching being done it would have been from the high net worth Blackberry users (or mostly ex-users, these days) on hearing that their traffic data would not end up in the hands of an unknown entity. Though I do hope they don't unclench too much - that could be embarrassing.
The spooks however: not so much. From their point of view, a world with no worries means less need for their services. Although they are very, very good at stirring up FUD (Yes, there's a threat and we've categorised it as "a potential risk". No, we can't tell you more for reasons of national security. No, how we will deal with it is classified. You just need to know that we'll require an extra billion - no, better make that two - to keep you all safe.) and pressing all the anxiety buttons. So the lack of a chinese player in the Blackberry endgame? Maybe the sound is really that of sorrows being drowned.
November 5th - done properly.
That's how to organise a fireworks display.
Re: 10 Types of bosses
This year marks the 500th anniversary of the very first management handbook: The Prince by Machiavelli. Even if you don't want to be a boss, yourself: it's worth a read (and it has the added benefit of not being very long). That way you can identify the traits as described by an expert and wonder in the realisation that in the past half-millenium, nothing much has changed. With the possible exception of no longer being able to do away with your opponents.
Notable in the opening few paragraphs is any mention of the female gender - although I have worked for three [ Edit: 4. Just remembered about my first IT vacation job while at university ], and more if you count "dotted lines", women in the past. Although some of them still fit into the descriptions offered.
However, my favourite worst boss was The Twister.
Whatever you said to him (and this one was a bloke) would be twisted into an unrecognisable statement and then thrown back at you. For example: "We've been delayed because the delivery from the suppliers hasn't turned up". becomes "So what you're telling me is that you failed to manage a third party who was critical to the project?".
It became so bad that we (the team) were only prepared to communicate with him via email, so there was written proof of what had been said. Obviously it slowed things down, but sometime keeping your arse covered is the overriding factor - and getting any work done comes in a distant second.
Re: Uh, hang on ...
> Some of us have clues
Indeed. Like the 95.5% of users who didn't have a password in the top 100. But where's the story in that?
Busted accounts - does it really matter?
Most people only sign up to websites in order to gain access to the trough of free downloadable stuff. The account being the "deal with the devil": you get a 30 day trial of their product, they get to spam you to oblivion with offers, discounts and deals (none of which you ever had any intention of accepting).
Whether or not you have the integrity to supply true and valid log-in details is also debatable. If you simply regard a vendor's attempts to get into your inbox as an annoyance you could well have typed the first thing that came to mind - I expect that a significant number of these stolen accounts list Afghanistan as the country in users' addresses, for that very reason.
You'd hope that the level of security surrounding accounts is a step or several below the security that contains any credit card info (though there should never be any CC data that's not behind industrial strength protection). So the value of all these accounts, probably with multiple accounts for each trough-feeder, should be very small. Apart from having simple passwords - matching the value that individuals place on these accounts - I wonder how many "users" have equally simple names. Maybe most of the 1.9 million "123456" passwords were protecting "Mickey Mouse"'s account.
Domestic suppliers - strategic advantage
> I'm sure the Chinese have had a good go
If I was running the country that made the chips, firmware and phones themselves I'd have many, many opportunities to add surveillance abilities right down to the level of the silicon. So if you really want a secure phone, there seems to be few options other than building your own - from scratch.
Shame we blew it.
Why wait - use existing solutions?
Both the Cubieboard2 and the Olimex A20 have LCD interfaces (not HDMI: raw LCD) built onto their boards. Both vendors sell LCD screens in various sizes and definitions than you can use on your projects right now.
Sure neither of those SBCs is a $25 Pi (but then, nor is a Pi - has anyone, anywhere paid exactly 25 USD and received a Pi? - ever?)
Some of these screens even have add-on resistive (yeah, I know) front plates you can add that work with Debian. There's even talk of a 15.6 incher coming soon. Now if I could just persuade zenity or yad to do what I want I could dump the keyboard and mouse completely.
Time for a new hashtag, methinks.
Maybe when this starts to appear on the FB blabberings of the "other 95%" of the population's social media excretions, it might just "click" with some some of our parochial cousins that not everyone on the planet identifies with their vocabulary, ideologies, values hangups or even spellings.
OTOH, maybe they should be the ones flagging their posts, instead.
Re: How many tapes?
Sounds like something Cheryl Cole would do.
How many tapes?
> that's 24,000TB
And how, exactly will you do an off-site backup of that?
Even if you just do a device - device copy and you have a 100GBit/s link to your beta site, that's 24 million GByte - and a frightening number of I-O channels needed to keep the connection running at 100%. So, running at 10 GByte/sec will take nearly a month to perform that backup.
Looks like the world will have to re-embrace a 1980's adage: never under-estimate the bandwidth of a van filled with CDs.
Kill the competition
So let's suppose that FB accept this guy's recommendations. That they do manage to harness all the lies, wishes, flights of fantasy and misconceptions that FB-ers put in their profiles (and possibly their posts, too). What then?
They become the most success advertising platform the world has ever seen. The accuracy of their targetting produces stupendous results and advertiers eschew all other media in favour of FB. So all the world's advertising money stops flowing to newspapers, TV and magazines and they all go out of business.
Net result: one advertising monster, serving trivia to the world and bugger all print media, serious reporting, analysis, whistle-blowing or reigning-in (though if it kills off the Daily Mail all that might be a price worth paying). However, most of the quality TV that we import (let's forget about ITV and other commercial UK TV as lost causes and not worth their bandwidth) into the UK would be gone,too.
So maybe FB already know how to leverage advertising. Maybe their analysts have performed an in-depth analysis of the consequences and decided that while they could do that, it wouldn't serve their purpose (as they'd also kill off most commercial websites and ad-dependent searches, thereby destroying the attraction of the internet which they rely on) and therefore they choose not to dominate - primarily for their own benefit.
Sometimes you have to let the goose have it's freedom to continue laying those golden eggs.
One-sixth of nothing
... is still nothing.
Not every XP instance has an internet connection. Some are used solely for dedicated purposes and wouldn't recoognise a connection if it snuck up and inserted itself firmly in their ethernet port.
For boxes (or virtual instances) like this, XP is still perfectly good. In fact, once you remove, or never install, all the malarky involved with keeping the O/S "safe": a euphemism for working around all the security bugs and bad design, it's storms along, incredibly fast.
Just don't plug anything into it.
Re: soft is good, mostly
> I never want to think about rice production in the Po valley again.
OK, I'll bite. What on earth have the Teletubbies got to do with knowing about where countries are?
(It's probably a good thing that I was told at age 12 that I couldn't do geography any more).
Advice given to an ex-colleague
He came out of university with a 1st in history. After a few jobless years he asked his university careers people. They suggested teaching. He asked his college mentor who also suggested teaching and added "if the worst comes to the worst, there's always computing". Which is how he ended up in an IT company.
So far as employing social scientists, this extract from the report is telling:
recruit social science graduates because they have the skills of analysis and communication that our economy and society needs
Though personally, I'd think that what "our economy ... needs" is people who actually make stuff.
Executive chairman bites himself in the arse
> with "no risk of discovery."
Errm. That sounds to me like a very good definition of privacy, but has nothing to do with anonymity. You don't need to know someone's identity to catch them if they're performing a criminal act - just ask any policeman.
As for giving free reign to "our networks"? Well, no. You can still have security at the point of entry to the network - or even at sensitive nodes within it. However the privacy element still holds: that if someone wants to say or do something once they have been validated and allowed access, their right to do or say that privately can be upheld.
The problem is that the
NRSA don't have the skills or ability to properly determine who are the righteous folk who should be allowed in and who should not. That's their failing to keep security up to speed with network development.
Of course, that doesn't mean people should be allowed anonymous access to sensitive, secret or vital infrastructure. But only a damn fool would permit those anywhere near a public network.
Success in IT
> the jobs are more competitive and demanding with long hours
It does sound to me like most of the pressure is coming from within.
My experience of working (some might even say: succeeding) in IT is to do what you say you will, at the time you have stipulated and with as little drama and error as you can muster. There's nothing wrong with saying "I can't do that" - except the injuries done to personal pride. You might even get thanked for saying-so up front, rather than your inability to deliver becoming apparent when it's too late to fix it (unless you have found someone else to lay the blame on). You will get the occasional arsehole of a boss who puts you down and belittles you for admitting to limitations, but planting some pr0n on his/her computer is an easy fix to that problem (and might even get you to fill the ensuing vacancy).
If you feel pressure to excel - one that my colleagues will testify that I have never felt - then that's something within you, as a person. Nobody else is driving you. Any demands you have (reasonable or otherwise) are ones you place on yourself: either though having agreed to someone else's agenda, or from some sort of self-image that requires you meet some sort of standard.
A successful IT person is a happy IT person. No more, no less (and you can probably scratch "IT" from that aphorism).
Re: Bogosity @Pete
> And if you think an A20 is so much better, and the boards so much better designed, well, try some benchmarks
OK. RPi BogoMIPS = 700 or thereabouts
Olimex A20 BogoMIPS = 1800 a Cubieboard2 with the same spec scores bout the same, provided you have CPU clock scaling turned off.
root@A20:~# cat /proc/cpuinfo
Processor : ARMv7 Processor rev 4 (v7l)
processor : 0
BogoMIPS : 1816.97
processor : 1
BogoMIPS : 1823.52
Despite the oft repeated mantra about teaching children, it's clear that the Pi is completely inadequate for use in an educational environment. Especially when most UK schools (and that's what we're talking about, not some third-world location) have PCs coming out of their ears. If you want to teach programming, drop some educational software on a PC and just get on with it - with the kit you already have.
No. What we see with most of the million-sold Pis - at least the ones that generate publicity - is a split between children using them to play games, people trying to pimp their cars with an on-board "PC" and the home enthusiast who sees it as a cheap way to run XBMC. There are a small minority of experimenters who get an LED to flash and a smaller minority who write some original software - a tiny proportion of whom go on to contribute something new and useful to the community.
However, any serious home SBC-hacker will already have moved on to one of the A20 boards that are so much more powerful and better designed.
A Get Out of Jail card
I suspect the reason a lot of people take calls while in meetings is that they are hoping the call will provide them with an excuse to leave.
Most meetings are irrelevant to most of the participants, serve little or no purpose (except to share responsibility for any decisions made - thereby muddying the waters about who's to blame for any cockups that arise) and have far too many attendees: most of whom know nothing about the topics on the agenda - if there even is one.
So yes, it is rude to take calls during meetings. But it's also rude to require the attendance of so many disinterested and unnecessary staff. So many meeting organisers consider the number of staff they can pull away from doing proper work as some sort of ego trip or empire building. A well-timed SMS can be the best way to get back to doing something useful.
Oddly, I have noticed that call-taking is a feature of the lower echelons. Among (truly) in control individuals: Cxx types, they hardly ever take calls while doing something else. While this may be because they have professional gatekeepers guarding access to them, because nobody has the
balls fooishness to interrupt them or simply because they are better at organising their time, I cannot say. I do get the impression that they consider being interrupted a sign of weakness and lack of control. And of course, no other attendee would consider cutting *them* off to take a call. Maybe there should be a CEO present at every meeting?
@ James Micallef
> permanent war is required by politicians
Although it's worth noting that the British armed forces have been on active deployment somewhere on the planet every year since 1948.
As for the original piece:
> The expiry period for such secrets is a bit shorter these days:
There are secrets and there are secrets. I am sure, though based on no evidence, that what gets leaked to the public, or gets its whistle blown,is only the tip of the iceberg compared to all the stuff that does stay behind closed doors.
Surely the leaders who weren't spied on should be the ones who are outraged. The conclusion would be that they weren't worth the effort.
The Apple "brand" is known to be high price, high status. If it tries to introduce cheap products, it will devalue the whole line and lose its cachet. (Just as you don't see a budget-priced Rolls-Royce).
The solution would be for Apple to open a second line: extolling the virtues of "It's still an Apple", but with its own branding, style, lower prices and possibly less ornamental value.
If they did that skillfully, it wouldn't canabalise their premium offerings as it would address a different market. After all if Unilever can manage to market both Persil and Surf, you'd think that Apple could work out how to sell iPads and <some-other>Pads.
The only question is: would it have to start suing it's own arse off for patent infringements?
> £18m ... for a three-year Next Generation Digital Analytics
So £6M year. That makes it large enough to be noticed, yet small enough to be able to bury in the detail when it all goes terribly wrong.
Hopefully they haven't made the beginner's error of stating up-front what benefits they hope to get from this (or even worse: having some measurable targets). However it all sounds airy-fairy enough that they'll be able to take whatever this collection of buzzwords produces and say that that's what they expected to get from it.
delete the pointer
> it is very difficult to completely remove potentially offensive or upsetting material
Consider a name to be a pointer to a structure containing all the online material about an individual.
There seems to be a lot of scope for a person to change their name and leave all that old stuff behind. So what if "Fred Smith" has been tagged in lots of FB photos, banned from every forum west of the Caucasus and #FredSmith has made several career-limiting comments about certain types of people - or politicians.
A quick name change, moustache, new accounts, a (very) limited migration of email contacts and a ceremonial burning of his/her/its old PC and as a musician might say: viola! Fred Symthe comes into the online world - reborn, fresh, all slates wiped clean. All the old stuff is still there, but now orphaned and so long as the moustache stays in place or the prosthetic nose doesn't fall off, should stay that way.
I can see this become a right of passage and possibly even a very popular 18th birthday present (and again: post-graduation, prior to trying one's luck in the job/partner markets).
As with politicians, the more you engage with them, the greater is their feeling of validation. It doesn't matter what you say - all they take away from the encounter is "these people all care".
So criticising him or RA just adds fuel to his fire - as well as giving him a load of twitter idents for free, to spam in the future.
> Bringing the family computer into the living room
... for 1995. However technology, mobile phones and tablets have rendered it useless (and you have to question the clued-in-ness of those people still offering this sort of advice).
Basically, telling children about abstract threats doesn't work. Even getting them to pay attention to simple road-crossing instructions is hard. Consequently telling them that the internet is full of baddies, when they know from their first-hand experience that it isn't just kills your credibility.
Maybe what we need are a few modern-day fairy tales. Stuff like the original Grimm Bros. material: cooking children in ovens and the like (Hansel & Gretel, before it got watered down). Though since kids are so inured to "horror" from zombie-TV, video games and modern media, it's difficult to know what would induce enough fear of strangers, without scarring the little darlings for life.
.. and some fish. That doesn't make it "fishier" that a larger pond with proportionately fewer fish.
However, following the same statistical misdirection that only accountants would consider valid - OK, maybe lawyers, too - , I nominate my house as a technological hotspot since every worker there is in IT.
Re: tension sheet
> If Apple can patent ...
Maybe I should submit a patent application for A method of ascertaining the current time using audio tokens and social interaction
I.E. ask someone.
(Though I'm unclear how I'd go about enforcing the patent and collecting royalties. More thought needed.)
The bracelet features six screens, ...
A true "how a smartwatch ought to work" would monitor your brainwaves and detect when you wanted to know the time, then stimulate the correct neurons with the required information.
Anything less is barely an improvement on a 500 year-old fob watch.
That slight "ding" in the door
> “a very advanced nanomaterial” is embedded in the resin, which is sealed in between two layers of carbon fibre to form a “super capacitor”.
... now turns into a major cost. I don't think the local "dent removers" will be able to deal with this one.
Old word, new meanings?
> The fact that you don't have to install a 3rd party client to a PC is awesome
So now awesome means sensible?
> I've Remote Desktop'd home, and it just works. This is awesome but I bet it'll cause some security risks.
and now it means, what? nice, surprise, expected, shocking, insecure?
Maybe the trick is to completely ignore any sentence that contains the word, since it appears to have so many meanings. As Harry Nilsson¹ might have suggested "A meaning in every direction is the same as no meaning at all"
 The Point, album release: 1971
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