716 posts • joined 24 Jul 2009
It sounds like part of your problem was, originally, not being particularly well organised ("spend an hour hunting around for old mIRC"? Really? Once, maybe, but every time you set up a new machine? Fool me once etc).
That being said, if you've gone through 18 client machines in 7 years (presumably through choice rather than buggering the hardware up) and use several devices for connectivity, your setup starts to make sense.
What sort of security do you have for inbound connections? It sounds like you're set up for external access - is that right?
You need VMware Server - it's free, though now out of support and obsolete. It runs on various flavours of linux, though for version 2 Ubuntu seems to be the only non-enterpise version.
For the VM licensing it gets fiddly. If you run Ubuntu as your host OS but want to have 3 separate Windows XP VMs, the normal assumption is that you'd need 3 licences. If you won't ever run more than 2 at a time, you might get away with having 2 licences, but I wouldn't want to bet on it unless the terms of your license explicitly allow you to count licences in this way.
There are tutorials on setting up VMware Server for Ubuntu and Fedora at http://www.howtoforge.com/how-to-install-vmware-server-2-on-ubuntu-8.10 and http://www.howtoforge.com/how-to-install-vmware-server-2-on-a-fedora-9-desktop, and advice on creating virtual machines in VMware Server at http://www.virtuatopia.com/index.php/Creating_VMware_Server_2.0_Virtual_Machines.
It probably helps if you're using a decent router at home rather than one of the freebie pieces of cack that ISPs are so keen to give new subscribers...
Yes, but no.
If your usage scenario is correct, you still have a new endpoint that needs to be managed for updates, etc. Steam in particular is a fucker and will install half a dozen runtimes along with Direct X when you install your library, which will then need updates along with the usual stuff.
I can *sort* of see the idea having legs *if you can do everything in the VM*, but if gaming and other system intensive stuff is still done locally, all you're doing is creating extra systems that you need to maintain over time to save on the pain of the initial migration/setup process.
At which point, why aren't you looking at booting from VHDs or booting directly to a virtual machine? (Yes, non-trivial to set up, but if you're *that* terrified of migrating from machine A to machine B, surely it's worth it...)
That sounds nice, and it might even help for gaming via RDP, but it's hardly feasible when the budget for the host system (including OS) is $750 as per the article.
Thanks for mentioning RemoteFX, I had no idea it existed and it sounds quite interesting :)
Your best bet there is to download the offline installer from http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/internet-explorer/downloads/ie, write a quick batch file to silently install it, *then* run Windows Update. (You can couple this with a bit of VBscript to automatically enable Microsoft Update and pull down updates for Office and other non-Windows MS stuff too, if you're interested).
None of which makes it alright for Microsoft to have done something so bloody stupid in the first place.
Booting from a VHD seems the least miserable way of doing this if you want to take full advantage of local hardware (ie graphics-intensive stuff, which is a no-go if you're RDPing to a VM manager) without waiting to transfer a full system image over your home network every time you boot up. This does bring with it the inevitable anguish of Windows reactivation when you move to a new set of hardware. Still less hassle than a clean install from scratch though.
It doesn't help with OS migrations, either. (Mind you, neither does OS virtualisation).
Ah, I appear to have gotten confused between Ninite, Ninite Pro and Ninite Updater. (Only the first one is free).
The point about Secunia's PSI covering a much wider base of software in terms of detecting updates & vulnerabilities still stands, but they can't be treated as direct rivals as they aren't aiming to do the same things.
(That being said - having long ago spent some time looking into automating the installation of a local set of "standard" software packages with very basic install scripts and silent installation switches, Ninite is of limited use to me either at home or at work...but that's my local bias rather than a judgement on the tool itself.)
I may be confused here, but...
...is all your home computing work is done via RDP to a virtual machine? That must be awesome for gaming :P
The idea of running all your home computing on one box with virtual machines is interesting, although kind of horrific tbh (that may be because all the home computing in my household involves at least some system-intensive stuff, mostly gaming but also some video editing and graphic design work).
I was expecting this article to be about something like booting from a VHD to allow for ease of migration between machines, rather than network-bound VMs.
Also, Ninite sounds interesting but I'm not convinced it's worth the money compared to the somewhat-less-simple-but-free Secunia PSI (http://secunia.com/vulnerability_scanning/personal/) which also supports a wider range of software. Allegedly the latest version features automatic updating, which (if it works correctly - I haven't tried it yet) would solve its biggest flaw.
Nope, but since there are several games commonly referred to as football in areas where they are popular (eg gaelic, american, rugby), but only one game is commonly known as "soccer", the use of the term in a tech blog with an international readership avoids confusion. And since the brainspace overhead of a single word which you may consider to be largely synonymous with another word is generally quite low, it's not even that difficult to cope with seeing it.
Don't let that stop you from having a good old whinge though.
Oh, don't get me started on that, they can be an absolute disaster when it comes to what OSs they offer machines with. "Yeah, you can have RHEL 6 on that one, but for some reason our amazingly nifty and not at all crap online interface won't let you generate a quote for it so you'll have to request bespoke quotes every time you need one of these workstations with it..."
(I suspect that the relative paucity of vendors going along with the idea of refunding the Windows tax these days is down to Microsoft being more aggressive about allowing them to do so, but there's no way to prove this...)
After being stung in a similar fashion I've taken to having ISO images of recovery discs stored on an external drive. Technically redundant, yes, but useful if the disc itself gets scratched or damaged somehow...
It's going to get interesting if it's media without licence keys or activation files, given that 10 seconds in google will lead you to sites like http://forum.notebookreview.com/windows-os-software/428068-legal-windows-7-download-links-just-like-vista-before.html which point out that you can quite easily download ISO images of Win7 media from DigitalRiver.
Dell have been getting a bit silly with this lately, offering the choice of *not* having the OS recovery media and saving a couple of quid off the order.
Frankly, I don't see the point. Yes, some organisations have Volume Licence agreements. If they're stupid enough to still buy their machines with a preinstalled OS, GIVE THEM THE &%$*ING RECOVERY MEDIA ALONG WITH IT. Whatever you lose in cash you will more than make up for in customer goodwill.
I don't understand why OEMs are so goddamn stupid about this. Hell, even Apple provided reinstall media for the MacBook Airs on a USB drive - or at least, they did before the advent of Lion and its combination of recovery partition and network-accessible (and slow as all hell) downloadable recovery tools...
With Sony involved, I'm entirely sure that the group's primary focus will be to provide users with mechanisms to easily format-shift their material, and in no way will they try to hopelessly hobble the technology in order to try and prop up the craptastic notion of the "triple-play" media (which makes me laugh, given that the couple of digital editions I've seen bundled with DVDs have small print saying that the licence expires within 2 years).
I guess I'll be buying my SD cards (and probably media players as well, since I currently use a Sansa Clip+ for mp3 playback on the hoof) from someone other than SanDisk in the future then. That's a shame, they're bloody good at what they do.
I don't disagree with you, exactly. You describe a very sensible pragmatist's approach to dealing with the current state of many (most?) businessplaces.
I suspect, however, that you're at least partially missing the point made by Wozniak in the original article - namely that, if your goals as an organization are to promote free thinking and a creative approach to solving problems, enforcing a restrictive culture with a particular set of values on all employees is not necessarily going to be achieve those goals.
Enforcing the long-standing convention that there is some sort of cargo-cult-like relationship between the attributes "Wears a suit" and "is a professional" doesn't *necessarily* do much to help this.
You're right in saying that challenging the long-standing convention may prove difficult - but personally I have a problem with the idea of continuing an irrational convention just because it's easier than having to actually use our headmeat to think about things (and, more troublingly, justify our thought processes afterwards). There have been plenty of absolute bounders who wore suits - certainly more than enough to scientifically conclude that the theorem "Wearing a suit marks you out as a professional" is acceptable without further evidence only to the sort of intellect that genuinely believes they've just been offered a chance to purchase the Brooklyn Bridge or similar.
I suspect you've misunderstood a key part of the phrase "you wear what you want to wear" in the original article.
You like wearing suits? Fair enough, knock yourself out. Some of us don't, however. Whether it's a purely aesthetic reason or a practical one is irrelevant. In a corporate culture that mandates suits, it is foolish to assume that "wearing a suit = is a professional business person", because the actual convention states that "wearing a suit = makes you *appear* to be a professional business person".
If you want an environment that fosters creative development and exploration, an overly-proscriptive environment where conventions are treated as though they were cosmological truths handed down by the Alien Marmite Gods is probably not a great place to start.
Are they continuing the Latitude 21xx series? I've yet to convince anyone in my organisation to buy one (the things are preposterously priced for netbooks - as in, even with a volume client discount they're substantially pricier than any of the tried-and-tested units from the likes of Asus or Samsung, though of course, those companies aren't selling netbooks with business-class support agreements....).
Heh, it's funny how UK.gov is so keen on ever-increasing surveillance of the plebeian masses but when it comes to a (relatively innocuous) piece of legislation that applies the same principle to those elected to serve, suddenly such surveillance is about as popular as diarrhoea in a spacesuit.
The thing is, though - enabling standard user accounts to work properly under Windows XP involved a horrible amount of effort with group polices and all the rest, and is frankly far beyond what I'd expect *anyone* to do in the case of a non-domain-bound machine, because that way madness lies.
As for "no need to tear everything up and start again"...well, neither of us have seen the source code or know how much of it was inherited from previous iterations for legacy reasons, so let's not start being proscriptive without all the facts to hand, eh?
You appear to have interpreted my point about XP differently than I expected - I was stating that XP was an unusable load of crap for its first year and a moderately crap OS for the next two, and made the leap forward 3 years into its existence. The same timescales, roughly, applied to Vista. Yet because XP had been around for longer, the Bad Old Days have been forgotten and its now The Good Old Days. Microsoft's desire to shore up quarterly profits meant that instead of sticking with Vista for longer, they jumped to Windows 7.
I don't disagree with your UI complaints, though I will point out that if it frustrates you that much your best bet is to get to grips with the Windows CLI. It's possible to do an awful lot at the CLI that will work on XP, Vista and 7 without hassle.
Yeah, "Click, download, install, job done" - except for the couple of gigs worth of updates including the bump to 10.7.2, several firmware updates and a recovery drive image update.
But hey, let's not let facts get in the way of OS preference pissing matches, eh?
In the case of the PS3, the hardware and OS are supplied by the same company who decided to supply you with updates.
In the case of Android, it's open-source(ish).
In the case of Windows, it's closed source commercial software. Saying it "should be free" is like saying cancer "should be curable" - it requires a local context that is missing from your statement. It should be free because you don't want to pay for new versions? It should be free because the Alien Marmite Gods say so? What's your logic?
@Nigel - Rubbish!
Amongst other things, Vista brought with it a user hierarchy that lets you actually work with standard user permissions (even though it still has the usual MS/Apple problem of creating an account during setup which is a member of the administrator group). Yes, you can do this with WinXP but for an awful lot of software it means nothing but heartache, whereas with the elevation system that Vista brought with it, relatively few problems materialise when running with user permissions (even those few problems that do appear are usually down to devs being lazy and not revising their code to take account of these changes).
That alone makes it worthwhile, IMO.
It also brought a bunch of other changes, many of them under the hood, but you appear more interested in dismissing it because it isn't Linux, so I'm not sure it's worth discussing them.
It has many flaws, but those who like griping about Vista seem to have all forgotten what XP was like before SP2 came out (a good 3 years after its original launch) - XP SP0 didn't even have native USB2 support, FFS! SP1 was marginally less crap but certainly nothing to sing and dance about.
(I don't particularly like the ever-shortening lifespan that Apple and MS seem to think a commercial OS should have, but it's glaringly obvious why they do it so at that point either put up with the rules of the game or don't play it.
WTF?! "Two years after its first appearance (...) back in May 2009"?!?!
Oh, come ON, El Reg, you lot should all know that variations of this game have been going on for at least 15 years at this point.
Jesus. What next, a story affirming that they've got that Interweb thing on computers these days?
I suppose I should've really been asking two questions:
1. Is a unibody chassis a core non-optional requirement for an ultrabook? (eg is it part of the Intel spec)
2. Is aluminium the only option for a unibody chassis?
It seems the answer to 1 is "no but it's highly desirable as it helps justify the higher, more profitable price tag" and 2 is "also no, but the alternatives aren't necessarily any better".
Is there a particular reason that ultrabooks have to have a unibody chassis?
Seems to me an easy way around the issue is not to bother with them, unless there's some compelling reason (beyond "Well, that's what apple do") to use 'em.
The guy does, overall, have a point.
Modern western culture demonstrates an inability to distinguish between the individual and the achievements of the individual, so very often we end up with individuals being unquestioningly celebrated as geniuses instead of recognising their achievements as being noteworthy.
It's not just Jobs either - it happened with Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse and countless others. It's the same way that when talking about Kurt Cobain nobody ever mentions that, tragic though his case was, perhaps taking heroin to help cope with a stomach ulcer was not a smart thing to do.
Bloody simian brains, making it easier to relate to other simians on daft grounds like "S/he was alright, someone you'd get on with if you met 'em down the pub" than on grounds like "A moody but exceptionally talented artist/musician/athlete/goat-herder".
If the original sprites don't do it for you, get yourself the Doomsday Engine and the high-res texture packs and rediscover just what a well-made game it is.
Ah yes, carbon dioxide is a naturally-occurring substance and therefore couldn't possibly be bad for you.
I invite you to partake of some wild almonds in that case, since by your own logic cyanides are naturally occurring substances and thus can't be bad for you. I look forward to your conclusion regarding this.
As you would know if you had any understanding whatsoever of chemistry, chemical reactions are exceptionally context-dependent. Environmentalists are concerned about increased CO2 production not because they claim CO2 is inherently awful but because in the specific context of having an increasing proportion of it in our atmosphere (compared to the proportion present around 100-150 years ago) we will generate climate variation that is detrimental to the overall goal of densely-populated human existence on the planet earth. There *appear* (note I say *appear* since the arguments on this subject are far from over and the science is far from definitive) to be some links between increasing temperatures and other climate adjustments in relation to increasing atmospheric CO2.
That is what this is about, not some retarded renaissance fair fetish that, let's be honest, only exists inside your head. You may take the view that the science underpinning climate change as a model has collapsed, but simply saying this doesn't make it so - if you've any interest in the scientific aspect of this you should be working to convince the rest of us with hard data, modelling and simulations which give us predictions against which we can test. Spouting bollocks about the imaginary treehuggers in your head does nothing except flag you as being potentially in possession of defective headmeat.
Saving money through smarter procurement?
Well, I'm not opposed to it, but it won't happen by itself.
You "save money" (or rather, optimise expenditure) on tech by first making sure you understand what you're trying to do, and then making sure you understand how you're going to do it.
The ongoing fetish that UK.gov has for outsourcing project and consultancy work is a terrible strategy for this, because it's so open to abuse by those who want to ensure they keep getting more work.
The smart way to do it is to bring people with industry experience and knowledge in-house, paid reasonably well but not exorbitantly (which is easy enough when you consider the extortionate rates often paid to consultants) and get *them* to deal with the procurement work, on the basis that they'll be better place to spot the utter bullshit so often proferred by tech suppliers for what it is.
Without overhauling a bunch of stuff (including the existence of middle or senior management who want to be "involved" with tech provision despite being unable to understand any of it), it'll never happen, but now and again it's a pleasant daydream for those of us with our noses to the grindstone...
Having lived in Ireland for a few years, it continually amazes me that mobile phone service provision over here is so abysmal by comparison.
I don't mean in terms of coverage, or cost, or whatever. Just in terms of the policies governing how providers work.
If you've ever tried to port a number from one provider to another in the UK you know that it's a miserable ballache of a process. Operators whinge and moan and insist they can't make it faster/better/easier because of unspecified technical reasons. Yet, across the Irish Sea, operators regularly process such changes within 30 minutes of the request being made.
My suspicion is that, as with many other areas of UK service provision, network providers have gotten used to getting away with a general lack of actual service to the customer, and they resist suggestions like this because they suspect they'll get away with it (because the Regulator has limited powers and seems terrified of using them).
Never mind a "friendly reminder" when you're close to your limit - ask yourself why have they never implemented a system that would cut off your data access when you hit your limit (or some agreed point a bit over it eg 5% above your cap) and redirect you to a page telling you what it'll cost to buy more data access that month? They don't do this because they know people spend more when they're not aware what their usage costs them. It's the same reason that if you're on a £35/month contract but only using a fraction of your minutes/texts/data, they go out of their way *not* to tell you - unless the contract runs out and you threaten to leave.
Across all the providers operating here, the term service applies only in the loosest, most generous sense. I've no objection to them making a profit, but do so in an honest and upfront way, not by being lying gits who hide behind unnecessary bureaucracy.
There's a Frozen Food Instit- oh, wait, it's the US, of *course* there's a preposterous lobby group^W^W entirely independent and scientifically-backed institute for the totally unbiased and methodical research into frozen nutrients. In no way is their chief area of interest described as how best to sell crap food to the kind of people who think that:
a) Kerry Katona is a role model (rather than a demonstration of How Not To Do It where "It" is pretty much any aspect of life) and/or
b) Iceland is a place that sells quality, nutritious food.
(I say all this as a big fan of pizza, but once you start rolling your own dough and baking them with a pizza stone you'll never want to go back to the frozen crap ever again!)
First, *obtain an egg*. *Then* make clever techie jokes.
Heathrow Terminal 1 is to be avoided whenever possible, they seem to make a point of employing uneducated, poorly-trained and unprofessional numpties for their security services. On several occasions in the past I've seen their baggage scanning operators pass multiple bags through while looking away from the screen to chat to one of their colleagues (usually about the previous or upcoming weekend's antics).
I didn't say it was a *good* pre-emptive measure, did I? :)
I think many aspects of airport security are retarded (eg - you can't take liquids through in case someone manages the long, tedious, and unlikely-to-succeed process of creating a binary liquid bomb on board the plan, but you can buy plenty of flammable liquids in duty free) but the point of having any kind of individual scan is to prevent people from taking dangerous or restricted materials on board an aircraft.
Whether they implement those scans in an effective manner, or whether the list of materials perceived to be dangerous is sensible, are a separate matter. A coherent, pragmatic and measured approach to airport security would, in my view, do well to take those considerations into account, but then we come back to Security Theatre, don't we?
Do you actually think that if they spot something explosive on you, they let you get on the plane anyway?
Scans like this are a pre-emptive measure. It's far more likely that a scan will catch something that will be recognised as dangerous while the person is there being scanned than it is that a subsequent investigation would involve someone saying "Hmm, maybe it was the vest made of what we thought were sausages that was the explosive bit".
It is still more likely that someone wanting to get an explosive agent onto a plane would try and bypass airport security entirely or do something interesting and worrying with some modified electronics. But hey, don't let that stop you from claiming that those with nothing to fear should have nothing to hide. (even though, by that logic, you'd be walking around naked 24/7...)
FFS - aside from anything else, if you knew what you were talking about you'd know that thermite has an ignition temperature of at least a couple of hundred degrees celcius, which is why it normally takes something like a magnesium ribbon fuse to get it started. And given how feckin' brightly magnesium ribbon glows when lit, the chances of anyone managing to subtly take down a plane by burning a hole through the fuselage with thermite unnoticed are astonishingly small. Not to mention the fact that unless you've got a *lot* of thermite, your attack surface is going to be titchy which then means you need to know *exactly* where to set it off to have an effect of any kind.
Don't let the absence of facts stop you from parroting some nonsense, though. A factually-lacking scare story about how the scanners are pointless does nobody any favours.
Odd that they didn't bother going for the SSD option but equally I suppose the space constraints are a hassle.
I'm intrigued by the description of resuming from hibernation as "a hassle" though - in my experience it's "press button, give it say 20 seconds, enter password, resume working".
Oh, FFS...a machine that's comparable spec-wise to an MBA but several hundred dollars cheaper, and you complain about the aesthetic aspects of it?
It's got integrated ethernet, the USB ports support USB3 as well as USB2, it's got an HDMI out (no faffing with adapters that cost £20-30 a go) and an SD card slot. And, in fairness, a 1.5kg 13" laptop is still far from "chunky".
Why is it that I had to go to Engadget to confirm the ports I've listed above when they're visible in one of the screenshots you posted in the article? Poor form.
Hmm. Based on the substantial (negative) change in quality of service we've received for all our Sun kit (all still under pricey enough service contracts) since Oracle took them over, I'm not surprised. (There again, Oracle did *start* their takeover of Sun support services in a manner that indicated their overall strategy, by completely bodging the database import for their existing customers and service contracts, to the extent that we're still getting letters and emails asking us whether we want to renew our support contract for some kit that we don't own and which Oracle believe to be in a different county....)
@ A J Stiles
I quite like the Pratchett version myself.
"Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day, but set him on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life".
Nononono, you don't ask the *user* what they want^W"require", that tends to give answers like "full admin rights", "the shiniest possible machine with a glowing fruit logo on the back so I can show it off down the pub" and "the following media acquisition/playback software that have nothing to do with my day-to-day work but which will be used to abuse the living hell out of the company network in a decidedly non-compliant-with-the-terms-of-use-mentioned-in-my-contract sort of way".
The *correct* way to do this is to talk to the line manager of the people involved, determine what they're being paid to do, conduct testing if necessary to determine the best way of doing it (which may well *not* involve using a software package the best part of a decade old, and may well involve a bit of training on how to use software written in the current rather than previous century) and then determine a plan for implementing any changes that are needed.
Playing the Devil's Apricot here, I have friends from college in Ireland who've secured lucrative software development jobs in COBOL working for the Civil Service because their staff have been known to demand intensive paid retraining courses for such massive system overhauls as... minor changes to the UI (where minor means "the functions are the same, the menu looks the same, a couple of the buttons have been made a bit smaller but otherwise look the same").
Ignoring "Wah, it's different!" is not the same as ignoring "Over the last three months we've done productivity monitoring and found that even with training the new product is slowing us down and costing the company money".
Yeesh. I've heard of piercings but that's ridiculous!
Dominic, was your primary goal with this article to deter people from seeking jobs through you or others in your field? It certainly seems that way.
Yes, crap CVs are annoying. If you're such an awesome headhunter, though, you should be waaaaaaay past the point where you're talking to the kind of people who submit shit CVs, or trying to fill the kind of job that might even conceivably be within reach of someone who submits a shit CV.
Of course, bullshit articles with damn near fuck-all in the way of useful advice passing themselves off as advice on how to improve your CV for technical job applications are *also* annoying.
As far as I'm concerned, any company using a Facebook page as one of their main customer interface channels is not professional. This goes double for companies that don't bother having an actual *real* webpage any more.
Given that Amazon are *entirely* a web-based retailer, who spend a considerable amount of time and money on their web presence, in what fucking world would it make sense for them to dick about on some other website? Especially one as dedicated to pointlessness as Facebook?
It's like a national hobby in the UK is not knowing how to get an issue resolved, and thus resorting to whingeing about it elsewhere instead of taking any kind of useful action.
Humans have lots of inherent needs, but also the ability to be aware of how they behave and, where possible, alter that behaviour.
If you're happy with your purchase because you made an informed decision when buying, great :) More people should be doing this when buying electronics. But I question the suggestion that "It makes me better than you because not everyone can/will afford it" is something that benefits anyone in the consumer electronics market.
As for the notion of paying to be an individual, you, er, appear to have failed to understand how individuality works. I could go off on a spiel explaining that individuality expressed through mass-produced products is inherently a contradiction in terms, but instead I shall merely point you at this page by Bill Watterson who explained it far more concisely:
You may also want to refer to the PE section of this comic from TheOatmeal.com:
If the product's high quality is why you bought it, why do you care if someone else (whether "joe unemployed" or not) gets a similar product for less than you paid? Especially when the OS is being pushed as a substantial part of that experience and Android =/= iOS?
Or are you trying to hint that being willing & able to spend money on Apple gear is your way of trying to tell other people you're better than them?
AC. can you cite a source backing up your assertion that a majority of gamers are unemployed and unemployable? It's a hard one to claim, because if the only people playing games are unemployed and thus presumably Living Off Mum & Dad and/or on benefits, the games industry shouldn't be worth more than the film industry (see, for example, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/video-games/6852383/Video-games-bigger-than-film.html). For the games industry to generate that kind of revenue, people with more disposable income than that typically possessed by those living on benefits have to be playing them.
So in the absence of further evidence, your statement is incorrect.
That being said, I suspect your original post was a metafictional piece of trolling, given its apparent intent to wind up its audience and its publication in the comments of an article about the repercussions of a child's intent to wind up their audience.
Good grief, what a load of old bollocks.
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