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* Posts by Lee D

403 posts • joined 14 Feb 2013

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Hey small biz: You know what you need? A tape library – Overland

Lee D
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"Small" business messing about with 60 LTO tapes? It's hard to imagine.

And I was of the opinion that tape is pretty much dead. I'm sure the end-run of backups is a tape in a safe somewhere, but 60 tapes in an active device, presumably cycled and moved off-site or into secure storage? Doesn't seem worth the effort.

The last time I had to RESTORE from tape (i.e. where all other methods have failed, and not for test purposes) was... god knows. Back in the 90's. Keep some spinning rust going, it's cheaper than a handful of tapes, provides much quicker restore even if it's not a guaranteed backup solution on it's own, and grabbing one file off it takes seconds. And it doesn't really care if you keep it in a slightly damp/cold room.

Seriously, what class of small business has a guy cycling 60+ tapes throughout the week as just their last-ditch backup, not counting all the other IT management?

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Do Moan! MONSTER 6-day EMAIL OUTAGE hits Domain Monster

Lee D
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Re: Lack of communication

Clearing the spool on a mailserver that receives any significant amount of traffic can take, literally days.

It's like the old newsgroup servers. Even today, it can take several weeks to catch up if they go offline for a short period.

If your email server isn't handling a fair amount of traffic all day constantly - why not? What's the point of having it?

If your email server IS then getting 6 days behind and being asked to catch up WHILE also handling the normal traffic you always used to handle is a LOT to ask. Not to mention the number of test emails people will fire and the pings people will do to "see if it's up yet". It could take 6 days to get back up.

That said, there is NO excuse for not being able to provide basic MX service in the meantime while you clear the spool in the background (there are companies that you could set up in seconds and just point your MX records at until everything died down). Unless, of course, you actually lost data. In which case, good luck continuing to host people's email...

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Lee D
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Yeah, there's a reason I like to run my own servers and just have domains "point" at a particular server, and not rely on any one provider to receive my email. I managed to switch from Hotmail to self-hosted to GMail to GMail forwarding from self-hosted and nobody who emails me was ever aware.

6 days is too much - you will have lost that email forever and the sender will likely never know, now. I'd pull my domains from them after 24 hours - forcibly if necessary.

This is why I quite like domain hosts that let you change DNS (MX specifically but sometimes even nameserver) settings yourself on an automated interface - putting in a couple of backup MX's is no hassle and even changing them in an emergency is pretty do-able. But the MX pointing only to the people who host the domain for a couple of quid a month? No thanks.

Sure, it's no guarantee to even do that, if the domain-holder or nameserver goes offline, but then you are quite literally into "tear the domain back from them" Nominet territory. The last time I had someone had troubles with my domain was... er... never... and I'm able to repoint everything to a new VPS in a matter of minutes (plus 24 hours for DNS propagation, but even that's a lot quicker nowadays).

Stop hosting email with cheap junky outfits. There's no excuse that they can't provide a skeleton email service in the meantime (even if it means routing their MX to a third-party that they hire) while they fix their mail-servers and catch up with lost email. 24 hours and out. Hell, I get a little jumpy every time I have to change MX or other DNS settings or even just wait for a ten-minute outage to catch back up. Six days is inexcusable.

Hell, buy yourself one of the many backup MX services in future for your domain - god knows why this place can't do exactly that for you while you wait.

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Linux systemd dev says open source is 'SICK', kernel community 'awful'

Lee D
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Re: The Linux community has always been this way.

Sorry, I work in schools. Linux has a bad reputation, not because of the lead developer (who nobody has heard of), mailing list flamewars (which nobody has witnessed) or anything else.

It's people who throw it in because "it's free" and expect it to do the same job without the same amount of management that they'd give a Windows machine in a similar position.

I've done it. I've put Linux in schools. Several times. And I've also taken it back out again. Because the primary problem is not "Linux community is unfriendly" (it's NEVER been mentioned). It's actually "Linux isn't Windows and doesn't run Windows binaries, and isn't supported by the people selling us Windows on commission". And pretty much no other reason.

And you'll find that almost every school in the country has a Linux box or two, anyway. Espresso and Knowledgebox are two HUGE content providers who put Linux Apache/Squid proxies for their content into school networks. Almost every primary school has one. And most schools (primary and secondary) have Smoothwall controlling their front line - a Linux box in a 19" rackmount. And let's not even get into their access control, CCTV, or other systems.

Linux isn't in certain places, not because of anything to do with attitudes or personalities (because even Linux experts don't deal with people like Linux or Lennart), but because "it's not Windows". It's not even Linux's fault, that. And it's unsolveable while people are blinkered. It's pretty much the same reason that almost every Mac I've ever seen in a school is Windows in some way (dual boot / boot camp) and sees ten times more use as Windows than as Mac.

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Top 10 SSDs: Price, performance and capacity

Lee D
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Speed is not the only factor.

They are a storage device. Given that EVERY hard drive I've ever owned has ended up full to the brim (and, no, not with trash, but with work, programs, and data I've made), it's not a consideration of speed if they don't start in the Terabyte range at least.

And now my primary machine is a laptop (which can run all the 800+ games on my Steam account quite happily, as well as browse website while I'm abroad), I don't have many choices and I don't have any possibility of putting in one TINY drive and running that for everything. Fortunately, my laptop does indeed have two SATA ports for 2.5" drives and there's a cheap gadget you can get to turn the Blu-Ray slot into a hard drive bay (which would actually make more sense for me). But, still, I'd expect 2Tb of total storage in the machine at minimum, which is what I have with HDD at the moment.

That said, the Samsung EVO 840 1Tb is actually on my wishlist. Just needs to come down in price, just a smidge. Then I can replace the first Windows / data drive with an SSD and keep the other 1Tb for long-term data that only gets read occasionally (in comparison).

But not everything is about speed. I'd much rather have a first-gen SSD speed on a 2Tb drive than have to pay through the nose to get 1Tb at this-gen speeds, or even just £50 for tiny storage at this-gen speeds. Hard disks are primarily STORAGE devices. Sure, it's nice if they go faster, but it's not speed that is the primary concern of most people who want them.

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Desktop, schmesktop: Microsoft reveals next WINDOWS SERVER

Lee D
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Surely, with Hyper-V clusters, you've always had that kind of capability?

Move VM's off one server. Migrate. Slowly move them back. Migrate the other servers. Job done?

I'm not in an industry where I see many highly-available clusters of a significant size but isn't the new capability really just a more-risky in-place upgrade that relies on everything working with no way back?

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DVLA website GOES TITSUP on day paper car tax discs retire

Lee D
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Had the reminder through LAST WEEK.

Renewed... LAST WEEK.

Pressed the buttons, typed in the card, done. No problems.

They obviously can't scale but NOTHING works on day one. Even Steam haven't managed to stay up through the first days of their big sales after many years of trying and substantial cloud-backed wallop on everything they touch.

Reminds me of the tax-deadline when online filing came in. Everyone tried to do it on the last day. Don't. Do it before that. Your teacher wouldn't have accepted the excuse back in school.

That said, technology fail - if you're going to move government services, they have to work. Whatever. Or at least go to a page with a phone number where you can have a human do it for you. You do NOT want to get in the situation where people can't legally drive because you can't take their money.

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Microsoft on the Threshold of a new name for Windows next week

Lee D
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1, 2, 3, 3.1, 3.11, 3.11 for workgroups, 95, 95 OSR2, 98, 98 Second Edition, XP, Millenium Edition, 2000, Vista, Server 2003, Server 2008, Windows 7, Server 2012, Windows 8, Server 2012R2, Windows 8.1 (possibly not in that order).

Damn, it could be ANYTHING. Going from history:

There's a good chance it's going to have a number. There's half a chance it'll be consecutive and half not. There's a small chance it'll have a point number. There's a fair chance it'll carry some moniker or tag on the end of it, even with a number.

I'll go for "Windows 9.0 for Metro Server Groups". Think I covered most angles there.

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Bad boy builds beastly Bash bug botnet, boxen battered

Lee D
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What scares me most is the continued use of bash in remotely-callable scripts. I honestly thought we'd stopped doing things that way years before Perl went out of fashion and we moved to some real CGI and web security because we realised we had malicious people around.

I get having bash wrappers to, say, start services, collate and rotate logs, etc. but bash called remotely to do things like set environment variables (especially for CGI scripts, even if that was the "standard") seems dangerous from the very mention, before you even think there could be a vulnerability in bash. It's just an unsuitable tool - an entire shell, being executed by a remote user, whatever the actual context, to set some text into an environment variable.

Let me try an experiment - Windows Server, IIS, have your apps wrapped in a DOS batch file. Nobody else just as worried as I would be? ((The Windows equivalent of this bug would be, as far as I can tell, IIS being asked to retrieve a page with a request header and in doing so executing CMD with an arbitrary unchecked string taken straight from the request header to set, say, the PATH variable, or lots of other CGI-required variables, but not distinguishing between some plain environment variable content and ANY valid command. It seems... far too obvious and dangerous to have lingered in web circles for 25 years if ANYONE had been watching out for security problems)).

Bash scripts are useful but we should have stopped using them on anything remotely accessible decades ago. The only times I've ever seen it done deliberately was in a "single-floppy router" Linux distribution where literally every byte was precious and they were squeezing 2.4 kernels and full routing functionality into a 1.44Mb bootable disk (used Freesco for 8 years, I think, running my local network off dial-up and then ADSL). Even there, the use was internal, to provide things like statistics and internal configuration over a shell CGI script that obviously only had one dependency and little security (assuming no malicious local users, basically). Hell, I have had networks where the logon etc. scripts performed all kinds of miracles but - the point was - you needed to be a local user, already logged for, and they merely automated processes you were already allowed to do.

To have bash be able to be executed in the context of a remote user's HTTP request to bring in - of all things - environment variables (the bug is really that function definitions are to be in those environment variables allowed too, but even running of bash to set a string into the environment is worrying me), and have the power to run any internal bash command or - critically - any available command that the web-user can access, seems incredibly stupid to have been lain open for any length of time.

What with this and Heartbleed, someone - and I'm specifically looking at the "security" distros here - needs to go back to first principles and find stupid things that we're doing. Even if we've done them for 20 years without problem. We need to say... that's stupid. Why are we still doing that? If there's a problem in software/function X, we are fully compromised. And start to revoke trust in large corporations and organisations that have looked into these things and never spotted that running a full bash on EVERY CGI environment variable handed to you by a remote user is just an incredibly stupid thing to do, vulnerability or not.

And, of course, there's probably nothing that things like SELinux can do because - well, the user obviously INTENDED bash to act on this information because it wouldn't work otherwise.

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What the 4K: High-def DisplayPort vid meets reversible USB Type C

Lee D
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Re: 100W? Isn't the copper a bit thin for that??

PoE can do 30W over Cat5 cable, with only a 5 degree C raise in temperature.

Don't see what's so impossible about 100W over a USB cable which, in my experience, can be as much as 2-3 times thicker than some of the Cat5 that I manually crimp and patch.

If PoE isn't dangerous, then 100W over this USB connector probably isn't either. And I assume that someone has sat down and worked out the numbers before releasing millions of devices to the public that might get hot.

To be honest, I bet your cable heats up more just from sheer conductivity from that huge TV...

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Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water

Lee D
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Re: Locked phones

Given the existence (and therefore presumably profitability) of at least 8 different betting shops in one street in my town, common sense does appear to be in short supply among the general populous.

Owning a phone for "only" £30 a month is, thus, tempting to those people whether or not they are tied into a contract.

Personally, I put off smartphone use until 2 years ago - my girlfriend had done the same and follows what I tell her to do, tech-wise at least. Then we bought a Galaxy Ace each because it was the cheapest phone that we could own outright. Over time we ditched Virgin contract (my girlfriend makes lots of foreign calls and it worked out well) for Virgin SIM-only (with a Tesco Calling Card for international call), for giff-gaff SIM-only (cheaper international calls than even the calling card).

Just this month, we ditched the phones and moved to S4 mini's because - again - we could own those outright without having to worry about contracts and suppliers. It took about ten minutes to change onto the new phones and a day for our original numbers to come across onto a clean mini-SIM. The old phones will go to family in Italy who still haven't caught up with the smartphone era for precisely these reasons (and data packages over there are prohibitive).

So technically - over 2 years - we're both on unlocked S4 mini's, with 4G-capable SIMs that have cheaper international calls than most international call providers, and we aren't on a binding contract but pay ~£10 a month for the connection (and basically zero over that except for her phone's international calls separately at literally pence per minute) and have two spare unlocked Galaxy Ace's for when foreigners come to stay that can run our sat-nav programs and speak Italian to them..

Not everyone will go through that hassle, not everyone will know those paths exist, not everyone will be bothered to do that every year and evaluate their choices - especially when they can just walk into a shop, pay £35 and walk out with a top-end phone. The fact that over the initial year, on a contract, you could have bought my phone outright, have it be unlocked all the time, never get tied into a contract, get comparable voice / data packages, etc. is invisible to most people - and chances are they're in at least a 18 / 24 month contract.

I had the same thing with my mum about twenty years ago. We stopped renting a TV from what was Radio Rentals. We did the maths and worked out that we could have had a new TV every year for ten years and still not paid the same amount of money. And we'd have had all the old TV's to sell / give away / use around the house.

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iPHONEY: Fake iPhone 6 images splattered over Chinese internet

Lee D
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Don't get the fuss personally.

Another version that, until it's in shops, you can't buy anyway. Wait until it comes out. Wait a little longer to see if it's a stinker. Wait a little longer and buy the cheaper competitor.

What's to fuss over?

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Your move, sucker! Microsoft tests cloud gaming system that cuts through network lag

Lee D
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Given the sheer amount of possibilities in anything but the most trivial of games, this is likely to not help very much.

Think about it - with mouse-movement and a forward key, just how many different places can you end up in within even 100ms? And how many of those would let you die or give you a near-miss if you were to fire / someone was to fire at you? We're talking vast amounts of calculations for something which is literally down-to-the-pixel at affecting the next few hundred milliseconds of the game (and if you weren't alive, but shot, you have to predict the rest of the gamefield based on both a bullet here, there, over there and nowhere at all, all at the same time, before the player's "real" input comes in over the wire.

Can't imagine it will help except in the contrived games (something like Bomberman?) or consoles (where input ranges are limited and stepped).

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AVG stung as search revenue from freebie scanners dries up

Lee D
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Just to add my two-penneth...

Comodo I find pretty good, the free and commercial versions. Of course, there's an option or two you have to turn off but that's par for the course nowadays.

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Lee D
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- Build excellent product.

- Give away for free.

- Become the "de facto" tool that experts recommend. Get thousands of subscribers just from the quality of your free tool.

- Wait a year.

- Spam the hell out of your users, force upgrades to ad-filled versions, bundle spyware, try to trick them into installing the pay-for version, hide the free version on your site so deep that the experts have to dig it out for users.

If this was Slashdot, I'd add...

- ????

- Profit.

But, as noted above, all that happens is people soon forget about you and say "Ah, yeah, AVG. Was great until they bogged it down in junk."

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Trying to sell your house? It'd better have KILLER mobile coverage

Lee D
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I'd rate "Internet connection prospects" better than most things mentioned on that page.

But, of course, location, location, location (which in turn gives you some guarantees on schools, nightlife, chances of some bloke pilfering your car, etc.).

Pick a nice area. Then make sure you've got Internet. Because that's one thing you won't be able to "fix" yourself. Mobile signal? If your internet is good enough, get your own personal picocell. But chances are that if you're in a nice, internet-connected area, there's going to be mobile signal anyway.

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Microsoft says 'weird things' can happen during Windows Server 2003 migrations

Lee D
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InI did exactly this several years ago now.

Never had a problem.

Inherited 2003 DC's, put on a single 2012R2 DC, moved all the config, files, services, etc. over and slowly converted each 2003 machine to 2012R2.

Did it half-live, half-not (school system, summer holidays) - never saw this problem. I'm guessing it relates to some obscure configuration or even just an hotfix gone bad.

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Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU

Lee D
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If you're large enough to justify using Oracle, you would hardly care. In fact, you'd probably pay it for the option to move that much faster.

If you're not large enough to justify using Oracle, STOP USING ORACLE.

I don't particularly care what companies this huge charge for databases sold on this scale. If you're even CAPABLE of paying that much money for one piece of software running on one processor, you're big enough to know what to do about it and hire experts to manage it and the time is critical. Everyone else can just jumble along on "normal" business databases quite happily.

Seriously, I'm not even sure at what kind of scale I'd need to start thinking to myself "Hmmm... Oracle might be what I need here". Possibly government-sized? I don't know. Certainly not 99.999% of the IT that's out there in the world.

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Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage

Lee D
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- He confessed that "restoring the service itself is not as simple as rebooting it (turning it off and on again is the ultimate solution to most problems)."

BLOODY MICROSOFT HAS A LOT TO ANSWER FOR. No, a reboot is NOT the ultimate solution to most problems. It's a temporary stopgap when you confess that you have no idea what happened and cross your fingers that the unknown problem will never happen again.

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Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol

Lee D
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The reason that paracetamol is prescribed is because it tends not to conflict with other things you're taking.

My ex- has joint hypermobility syndrome - basically every joint is completely loose, your knees can go backwards, your hips dislocate, etc. This puts enormous wear on the joints and gives you arthritic symptoms (enough that it's often misdiagnosed as arthritis - basically the OPPOSITE of reality - itself).

The doctor put her onto all sorts to ease chronic joint pain and at one point told her off. He'd prescribed her something, so she'd stopped taking paracetamol. He told her the point of paracetamol is that it's low-impact on other drugs, and can be taken (on doctor's orders!) en-masse without prescription, so she could still take some ridiculous number of paracetamol AS WELL AS her other drugs. She was taking so many paracetamol, on his specific advice, that it was actually difficult to buy them without people asking questions or running into per-store limits.

The point of paracetamol is not to cure long-term, high-intensity pain. It's to take the background ache down a peg or two and not interfere with better painkillers. That's why you should use it for a headache, say, but not take JUST paracetamol when your break you back.

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Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them

Lee D
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I work in IT in schools. We recently had a bunch "e-Safety" sessions - several with the kids, two with the parents, one with staff.

Product names were not mentioned in the sessions, they weren't there to sell, they were there just to inform. At each, it was offered that if any parent had any problems or questions, IT-wise, they should come to me and I'll help them install ISP filters / filtering software etc. at home. This was met with great enthusiasm in the session, much gratitude from the governors, and I hung around outside the session just to be visible.

Bear in mind that we're a private "primary" school, going up into Year 8, with just under 400 kids. Just the kind of kids old enough to go on things that they're too young to be on.

Out of all their parents, all the sessions, etc. hundreds of parents attending a specific session on e-Safety, I got one parent ask my details. They took my email. I never got an email from them.

People just aren't interested in filtering the net. If they are worried what their kids are doing, they MAKE THEM DO IT IN FRONT OF THEM, like proper parents do. If they aren't worried, they wouldn't activate a filter. An online babysitter (literally a "net nanny") is pointless and horrible parenting. And the biggest threat now isn't PC's or laptops or tablets that use the wireless, it's smartphones that bypass it to talk 3G directly.

Nobody cares. Because, well, good parents are managing the problem already without the aid of unnecessary technology, and presumably bad parents couldn't care less anyway.

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THUD! WD plonks down SIX TERABYTE 'consumer NAS' fatboy

Lee D
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Re: Bays

"Urgh.. a Seagate... well, I'm not going to work with HIM..."

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Microsoft's MCSE and MCSD will become HARDER to win

Lee D
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Re: Purpose of qualification

Sorry, but IT is one of the few industries where you can branch out on your own - uncertified - and still get a ton of stuff done.

Stick an ad in the paper to "clean your PC" for £40. You'll eventually do the PC of some business that was in dire straights, then go help them out. Bang, instant "career experience" (self-employed) moving into the B2B side of support.

But paying £699 for an MCSE course (or, worse, making someone else pay for you) is just a waste of money if you're out of work. See the attitudes that most IT guys have to it in the comments above, then ask who's going to be the "technical" guy on the interview panel at the very least.

It's not like you have to legally have a qualification to work in IT (unlike an electrician, gas fitter, taxi driver, etc.). You can start now, for friends, do the horrible jobs for yourself, then slowly turn it into a career. I know, I've never had any other job but in IT and never been unemployed for a day, and never had any certifications (which, as I stated above, is actually sometimes seen as a positive thing precisely because of the reputation of those certifications). The best guys I've worked with don't either - the smartest techs I've seen don't. And the places I've gone to with entirely MCSE-certified staff? God, I wanted to kill myself. They solved about one ticket a day, and struggled all the way.

Recruitment agencies are in fact the worst culprits. So you tell your agent "I don't care about MCSE, I just want experience - on the job or self-employed". One line of criteria, and your recruitment people can't manage that? THEN STOP USING REED. (cough).

Honestly, IT is the easiest career path to get into if you're even vaguely techy. You can make a killing just going round people's houses and cleaning up the viruses, honestly. I bet even some entrepreneurial spirit like knocking on doors and asking if they have any computer problems that you could help them with would likely generate enough business on a quiet day.

You won't walk into Google, or IBM, or Facebook, but damn sure you can get there if you try (my friend just moved from Rackspace to Symantec to Google datacenters, and they had nothing past A-Level and only on-the-job training).

I started from uni making websites for friends. Then one friend worked in a school, so I went there and did their website. I was just a kid, didn't even know what to charge them. Then a few visits later it was "Oh, well, we have this little computer problem, I don't suppose you could take a look?". Within a year I worked in six schools in the Borough, supporting their entire infrastructure (including finance, child protection data, etc.) and was slowly pushing RM's expensive support contracts out single-handedly (I succeeded in almost all of the schools I worked at). Did that for 8 years, ran out of time to handle schools, made enough money not to care about dropping some of them. Then worked a few tech positions, always being promoted, recognised and headhunted. For the last five years I've been an IT manager for independent schools.

I literally have NO INDUSTRY QUALIFICATIONS, and in the beginning had never touched a server let alone managed one. But I outdid those who do have qualifications, managed the systems better, and offered what the clients were missing. Did I sweet-talk my way in? No, I'm terrible socially. Did I undercut them? No, a lot of schools couldn't afford me. Did I need to prove training and qualifications when word-of-mouth and nice headteachers phoning other schools worked enough to fill my working week? No.

IT has the lowest barrier-to-entry as a career. The guy you get in to install that rack, or setup that server, or configure that access control system, or whatever? Chances are he's just a guy that would be out of his depth on anything else. But you trust them to come in and plug things in all over your network all year round. And it's a short step from being in that position, to being regarded as actually a good troubleshooter to an entire career where nobody questions your experience.

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Lee D
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I have spent my career running Microsoft networks.

Not once have I ever felt hindered by not having a Microsoft certification.

And, anecdotally, though I'm sure there are many MCSE's out there with good skills, I only really hear the term in interviews now. The last two times in the manner of "Do you have any MCSE or other certifications?", "No, just fifteen years experience.", "Oh, good... the last guy we hired who said he had all the certifications was just rubbish and did X, Y and Z...."

Honestly. I tell no lie. I was hired in two interviews with a major factor being that I actually asked if their previous guy's MCSE's had made them a better IT guy. Both times the answer was no, and both times the employer actually reeled off a list of people they knew with MCSE's who they regretted hiring.

And why? Because of this reason. It's memorising how to click the new icon that's appeared in Windows 8 whereas before it used to be underneath another icon, or vice versa. The questions teach you how to USE a computer, not manage it. And when they do veer into technicalities, it's so Microsoft focused as to be useless.

I was working with another IT Manager a few months ago, and he was hiring a technician. He had a little practical test, a little written test, and an interview. He shared with me the results of the tests and asked my opinions because, literally, they were SO BAD that he couldn't decide but was being made to by his circumstances. People didn't know what RAID was. They couldn't explain the simplest of technologies. They have no idea about what order to do things in, or even Microsoft-specific stuff like how to do the simplest of management on an AD.

The questions on "common problems" that occur MS networks, the answers were hilarious. People didn't know how to reset a profile,or a password. They had literally memorised the path, and done it so long ago it had got corrupted in their heads, and the answers were junk. What we were looking for was NOT a menu-selection, but a general overview of the process - we don't care WHERE the menu is, you'll find it if you know what it does, or you can Google it at worst. We care that you know what clearing a profile means, what the implications are, when you should and should not do it, and most importantly that you TAKE A BACKUP (whether explicitly, by keeping a shadow copy, by renaming the folder, etc.).

MCSE doesn't furnish you with any IT skills that are useful. I could teach a teenager everything in MCSE in a few weeks, and most of it would probably NEVER come up if they were actually working with me. The bits that did, I bet they could Google quite easily and find a more comprehensive and reliable tutorial in seconds.

The guy doing the hiring, though - the only technician he had was a young lad who'd done A-Level's, worked a bit for his uncle, and then had to find a real job and ended up in the IT department. He was fabulous. Quite learner, very keen, even touched on programming etc. while I was there because he was trying to suck all the knowledge he could out of us. And didn't have a single IT qualification to his name.

The guy they ended up hiring. All the certs. Left in a month, and had been nothing but trouble in between. And the young lad was so scared of being ignored for promotion etc. because of the age/experience/certs that that guy had.

Dumb employers with no sense of actual IT might request an MCSE. I get that. If you don't know the industry, a certification looks good. But, like I say, it's like a guy with a McDonald's Chef Certificate applying to run your businesses kitchen (or, in some cases, a catering business or even a posh restaurant). I don't have one and have never had a problem explaining it. If it ever took two sentences, I probably wouldn't ever want to work for such a company anyway.

In all the places I've worked, freelance and employed, they don't particularly care - mainly because experience has showed them that it has more correlation with £699 in spare cash, time on your hands and a gap on your CV than anything to do with IT skills. Some places have asked if I wanted to do it as part of training. I politely declined each time. When they ask why, I show them the course content which, if I couldn't do, I wouldn't be able to do the job they asked me to do.

I fear that making them "more rigorous" will just be a matter of more obscure questions, because the marking still has to be "easy to do" and the training for it still has to be given by people who've never managed a network in their life.

If I were Microsoft, I wouldn't continue with MCSE, I'd change the name entirely and reinvent it. Because everywhere I go, MCSE has a bad name. Most of the people in my position that I ask about such things, they are ashamed to admit they have one, and quickly qualify it with "Oh, well, my employer made me take it, and they were paying, and it was a couple of days off so..."

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Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS

Lee D
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Re: This is a Windows API problem

What bloody idiot allowed that to propagate through to modern Windows?

And what kind of damage would happen if Windows just said "Okay" and then ignored the new timer functions and/or returned TIMER_NOCANDO (the most colloquially named timer constant I've ever seen)?

MS should have deprecated that call or at least said it was "not guaranteed" 10 years ago.

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Lee D
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Get rid of that awful Google Update service that constantly reinstalls itself and triggers firewalls and all sorts just to check that Chrome is up-to-date, and we'll talk.

If you WANT to check for updates, create a scheduled task, not a service, and let me disable the damn thing.

11
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X marks the chop: Microsoft takes axe to Nokia's Android venture

Lee D
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Patents?

3
0

Dungeons & Dragons relaunches with 'freemium' version 5.0

Lee D
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Re: Paper shortages

Wow.

It doesn't matter what level of nerd-dom I manage to discover, there will be a nerd-based argument about how some sub-strata of it is better.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a nerd too, just for slightly different things.

(The best boardgame I ever played was Advanced Space Crusade, but never got into RPG's even with a brother mad on WH40K, several trials of DnD and no shortage of nerd-friends to play against. Sadly, even ASC is consigned to the scrapheap so that people can sell the plastic models in it for a fortune and you can never get a "full box" of it ever again, but it was a great, simple game without all the hassle of the DnD rules and having to deal with ridiculous amounts of non-rule situations.)

4
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Running the Gauntlet: Atari's classic ... now and then

Lee D
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Recently booted up the classic for a four-player fest with some (non-gamer) friends at a party.

The comments on Facebook the next day revolved around "Yellow Wizard, keep the hell up and stop shooting the potions!" (NB: I was red warrior, not yellow wizard").

Great fun and one of those few games that is truly endless without getting boring quickly.

The remake (which is on Steam, by the way) better live up to the original. So tired of junk remakes at the moment (Syndicate, etc.).

2
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July 14, 2015. Tuesday. No more support for Windows Server 2003. Good luck

Lee D
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Re: What's the real danger ?

"We didn't have the money" is not a viable excuse for failing to abide by the law. In fact, it will just make the problem worse when you are compromised, then held responsible for running an "obsolete" and unsupported operating system on the servers, and then fined hugely. It's not the beancounters who will fall in that case, they will just say "Well, our IT guy said it was okay".

And as my more verbose post says - if you have that large a network, there's even less reason to cling onto operating systems that were designed before some of the kids that left the school I work at this year were even born.

Latest technology? No... because you'll want to spend a year or so testing ANYTHING on that scale - I am more suspicious of "zero day updating" than I am of letting working systems continue. A botched install without proper planning will provably cost you money. But equally running unsupported software over a decade old for no good reason other than "it costs money to replace", that's just asking for more trouble. I'm surprised you can even find new hardware that will boot it, to be honest. I haven't seen a 2003 driver for, say, a RAID controller in a while - and UEFI BIOS are quite common now.

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Lee D
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Re: What's the real danger ?

It all depends on how common YOUR usage is.

The places where you can assume that your users are always going to be non-hostile and that you're holding nothing of import that you have to protect? Sure.

But did you know you can get done for a DPA violation for just letting someone have access to certain data that they weren't required to have as part of their job? And PCI standards pretty much dictate that you have to be on the new OS with official update procedures in place and supported software throughout?

Before you even flinch, you have to consider that - say - every school MUST upgrade. All web businesses MUST upgrade. Most offices MUST upgrade. Anything on the network periphery MUST upgrade whatever you're doing. Anything that handles credit card data in any way - even offline - MUST upgrade. And so on. Before you even start, you're close to the majority of computers in the majority of workplaces. At that point, convenience, homogeneity, simplicity of deployment and just hardware refresh means that you probably shouldn't be on 2003 almost anywhere now.

Sure, I've run an internal Intranet server for years and got several hundred days of uptime from it, because it wasn't critical, held no important information, and wasn't accessible remotely. But the problem today is that the places you can do that are increasingly rare. I converted a school from 2003 to 2012R2 only last year (they'd not bought into the MS annual licensing, so only had VLKs for 2003, so we were putting it off as long as possible until we KNEW we had to upgrade). But it was still technically in support then and even then we KNEW we were leaving it very late. Only a tech-savvy Bursar, a huge injection of cash, and dire warnings of what would happen if we stayed on 2003 much longer prevailed (for a start, our MIS system was dropping support for the same reasons given above, and MIS software runs the school).

Consider even a basic school or office. Your Exchange server is front-line, so that has to go. Your probably have RD or website hosting machines - they have to go. Your AD servers have publicly visible names and (in a small scenario such as that) probably host user files too. It takes a second to guess share names and start poking holes in them, especially if they aren't updated. Sure, you have staff processes in place to discipline those who access data like that but as soon as you go from small business to having employees that might be unhappy, you have to protect them.

So that's all your main internal servers. Now you're doing that, you need to integrate old 2003 servers with your brand new (presumably) 2012R2 setup. The hassle of doing so, especially if you've taken the opportunity to virtualise, means it's probably just easier to wipe them out and put in a 2012R2 VM to take their place. Hell, you can do it on the same hardware if you like - the chances of you being in a place that is at 100% CPU on all their servers is vanishingly small - and it's silly to drag around old systems like that.

Sure, for some reasons, for a mom-and-pop shop without direct finance detail access, you can get away with not keeping up. For the majority of places, someone's going to have your arse for not keeping up to date - whether that be data protection, PCI-DSS, or just your boss. I'd say if your IT FTE (full time equivalent) staffing is much less than 1, you "could" get away without updating. For anything else, you damn well shouldn't be because almost certainly there's more on the line than just your job.

And if you don't know the DPA, PCI-DSS, etc. off by heart but you deal with personal data / card info, the chances are you're going to fall foul of it before long anyway. And if you do, you know why you have to keep up-to-date (hint: the potential for PERSONAL LIABILITY now!). You can't afford to let the data you have get into other's hands, so you can't be sloppy about managing it, so you can't put it on out-dated computers of any flavour.

It doesn't save you automatically but if you can show "reasonable effort" was used to secure the system, and not just "I let it linger on a 11-year-old OS", then chances are you'll be seen as doing your job, and not being irresponsible with people's data.

8
1

Virgin Media goes titsup AGAIN. The cause? Yet MORE DNS strife

Lee D
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Re: another router doesnt make a diff....

I call bluff, or misconfiguration.

I have DNS going through my own VPS, and direct to Google servers. Any machine you use on my local net you can query any nameserver you like and get the answers (if you want to be paranoid, yes, even if your DNS returns deliberately false answers just to test them).

If you're using your SuperHub, you might need to do modem mode, but I VM don't intercept DNS to anything other than their own servers from what I see (there's a variety of tests you can do here). Hell, I've read that's one of the easiest ways around their "you can't see this page because of a court order" messages, not that I've ever needed to do that.

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Lee D
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Ah, yet again saved from any inconvenience by my setup:

Internet router (in this case SuperHub in modem mode, but previously everything from dial-up modem to cable modem to ADSL2 from several different providers in several different houses)

Forwards everything to a WRT54G that actually DOES the proper routing, DHCP, DNS caching, etc. (and also has proper, real security on it beyond what WPA2 can provide, is a VPN endpoint, DynDNS client, etc.).

Which offers everything else out to the rest of my network. Which has never needed to be renumbered, or even needed a single setting set (DHCP for everything).

Impact: Zero. The WRT54G hasn't used any ISP DNS in its life - OpenDNS, Google DNS and my own private DNSMasq running on a VPS all the way.

Impact during the previous outage: Zero.

Impact when SuperHub wireless was found insecure? Zero (the wireless isn't even switched on).

Impact when moving house / changing ISP's / sticking on a 3G dongle for an emergency connection? Zero - get an Internet connection out of a Ethernet cable somehow, shove everything down it, plug it into the WRT54G, done.

To be honest, the amount of times it saved me has paid for the router and initial configuration hassle ten times over. I thought we were supposed to be IT people on here? Having to change DNS at every computer? Haven't set a DNS setting on something that wasn't a static-IP AD DC (with deliberately hard-coded settings) in over a decade.

People moaned about the SuperHub etc. being a heap of junk - I wouldn't even know - it doesn't do anything but pass traffic, doesn't even try to *interpret* traffic, for me. And so has always just worked. The real config is on the device that's older than any of the computers that use it and has been running 24/7 all that time. And, similarly, can be replaced in a heartbeat with some bodge if something goes drastically wrong.

3
0

Teensy card skimmers found in gullets of ATMs

Lee D
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Sod all the other security measures.

Just send me a text when a transaction occurs on my account. I'll be able to tell you IN SECONDS that it's fraudulent.

Like my Italian girlfriend's entire family and friends have whenever they have a transaction occur. Her dad was worried because when buying something for us in B&Q once, his phone beeped twice while we were still at the checkout and he was able to tell the girl (via a translator) that she'd double-charged him for the goods. It was THAT quick, even internationally.

Prevention might be better than the cure, but we clearly can't prevent and a rapid diagnosis will catch more than sheer ignorance ever would.

Anyone know a SINGLE UK bank that offers this? They can have my current account in a heartbeat.

10
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Computing student jailed after failing to hand over crypto keys

Lee D
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Re: Which crypto?

Nobody has yet proven a break in AES or TrueCrypt. It's probably those.

And beware the scaremongers - strange that OpenSSL/Truecrypt happened just as EC was starting to be proposed as a secure alternative, despite the fact that nobody has ever seen AES or Truecrypt broken...

8
1

Insecure AVG search tool shoved down users' throats, says US CERT

Lee D
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Re: @Stuart Longland

Ironically,

All of my best utilities, tools, and even to some extent OS's are similarly "free".

Freeware has been around for DECADES.

Shareware has been around for DECADES.

There's always been a difference between the two but neither stopped the other existing or made every programmer jump ship to earn cash.

And, believe it or not, in the old days everyone who gave stuff away didn't take over your computer in order to turn you into a cash cow just so they could claw back the 50p that the ZIP library they wrapped in a GUI cost them to make.

Nobody is obliged to pay for this stuff, because it's given away for free. And people will happily pay to NOT use software that tricks them into installing junk and costing them time and money to remove. They'll use your competitor instead.

Just because you give something away for free does NOT mean you're entitled to try to take over the computer of every person that downloaded it in order to pay your costs, and certainly not without the user's explicit permission.

And without free, truly free, software, there's an awful lot of stuff that would just fall over.

If you gave it away, I'm not obliged to pay you. Certainly not against my will by installing a toolbar that I don't want.

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Lee D
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Shove junk that I don't want into your downloads?

I stop using your software.

At BEST, I remove the junk and keep a "clean" version someone on my network that I only ever use to install from (i.e. you not only lose your paid-for junk, but quite likely any future updates, and I'll start looking for alternatives).

It's things like this that force me to move towards software where I have a choice. I'm not a GNU/FSF fan at all, but to me open-software does precisely what I need to do and nothing more, especially where installation is concerned.

Don't even get me started on the places that take freeware like Irfanview and "bundle" it for no reason (surely against the EULA of a lot of this software, if it isn't and it was my software, it most certainly would be very quickly).

Honestly, a great way to turn off your customers. And you know what, a ZIP utility installing a browser toolbar is NOT something that ANYONE actually wants. Stop it. I'm looking at you IZArc, that I recommended and used personally for years until you started that nonsense.

And why do I get annoyed? Precisely because I want you doing NOTHING MORE than you absolutely need to do to do the job, because of problems like this. Especially when you want to insert yourself into my web-browsing path, redirect my searches, even change my proxy to something third-party. It's a massive security issue, even if things aren't written by a technically incompetent programmer, or maliciously intended.

9
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Use Tor or 'extremist' Tails Linux? Congrats, you're on an NSA list

Lee D
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Re: they're a spy agency

They're not good at it. We're discussing it for one thing. The leaks were trivially performed by someone who should never have been party to that kind of information. Even on a military level, leaks of sensitive material are incredibly easy things to do (the hope is that the punishment that Manning et al receive is enough to put you off doing them).

In fact, I'd say this shows just how bad they are - personally, I believe the techniques they are using at INCREDIBLY bad at collecting anything useful. The signal-to-noise ratio is just far too low and they've had to resort to basically listening to every packet in order to get anywhere. And, to be honest, we just don't hear of that many cases which end with "And the plan was foiled by the NSA/GCHQ". In fact, we don't. You could argue that's secrecy, but I don't think it's all that common at all.

And, at the end of the day, nobody is above the law. You want to spy, you spy legally. The people you are spying on will consider it illegal while you are on their soil, of course. If the law does not apply to spies, we could just say that and have done with it. But the fact is that it applies to them the same as everyone else. Some countries have forgotten this recently, but even in the MIDST OF WAR it can be illegal to treat an enemy inhumanely. That's how stupid it is to claim that a spy is above the law. If a spy gets caught breaking a foreign law in a foreign country, yeah, hard cheese, that's your job that we've given you permission to do (but that permission does not extend to overriding the target country's permission, obviously). But if a spy is caught breaking the law left, right and centre on it's own soil when EVERY statement it makes says that it's complying with the relevant laws, that can be taken - ironically, by just the extremists it's looks to contain - as a descent into anarchy.

Personally, spying in the last 50 years or so is nothing more than amateur hour after being left behind - brains-wise - by the rest of the developed world. There was a time and place where intellectuals dedicated their lives to forwarding their nation's cause and were at the cutting-edge of science (and inventing new sciences along the way). Those days have passed, and we have kids with McDonald's chef certificates using encryption that those agencies can't beat (yet, again ironically, invented for just that kind of purpose).

Spying en masse, on your citizens and allies, illegally, and then claiming it's legal, is a recipe for disaster. All this "acres of supercomputers" nonsense that gets spouted? I can only think that if that's considered a viable intelligence source nowadays, you might as well pack up the invisible ink and laser watches now. I honestly JUDGE the modern GCHQ for becoming nothing more than government-funded, consultant-advised, facebook-watchers.

And I'm almost certainly on some list somewhere. I've education background in cryptography, I can code, I've run TrueCrypt and Tor, I use Linux, and I'm pedantic about the security of systems. I'd be disappointed if I wasn't. But I'd be a million times more disappointed if any of those are even considered a factor without some actual real suspicion based on something other than my website/OS preference first.

Spying's gone seriously downhill. It's now just a "Google him" exercise with a "private Google" that the NSA/GCHQ are trying to build for themselves.

46
2

LG drops G3 quad HD Android mobe with FRIGGIN' LASER camera

Lee D
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Re: £480 RRP

Yep. 1.5 laptops. Sure, I get that smartphones are very powerful nowadays, have OpenGL ES, etc. and in a tiny, compact, power-saving unit, etc.

But give me a £10 Tesco special and a real laptop any day.

1
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Migrating to Windows Server 2012

Lee D
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Sorry, if you're still there you need to learn something before you learn Server 2012:

Virtualise those damn things. Sure, it's a huge job, but just get it done. Then your migration is on your own schedule (which you obviously seem to enjoy if you're still on 2003 - only 11-year-old tech).

Plus it'll save you a ton of migration hassle as you don't have to "switch" anything off - just virtualise it onto your first 2012 server (and, please, 2012R2 if you're going to make the leap), then carry on running it and - over time - slowly strip off those functions and put a 2012R2 VM on the same machine that takes them over. When you realise that the 2003 VM has been on 0% CPU for a month, switch it off and see who complains.

I'm certainly not one of those first-day guineau pigs, but 2003 was dead when I did my last 2003 migration two years ago (and we knew we were taking the mick running so long, even then). The transition to 2012R2 is pretty easy, for the vast majority of things, and gives you an awful lot of new features. At the time, I didn't even bother to virtualise (but wish I'd been able to - licensing problems mainly) - just slapped 2012R2 servers in, joined them to the old domain as a DC, pulled the DC roles over, rasied the DC level to something this-decade, migrated user data, began pulling over roles/features. After a while, the 2003 machines were obsolete, so they got formatted and brought online as 2012R2 until I found a use for them (mostly secondaries for various functions). There was nothing so drastic that it wouldn't survive the change, and actually I spent most of the time converting crusty old batch scripts to GPO's that handled print-management and drive mappings (yes, in 2012R2, that all works properly).

If I'd been able to virtualise, it would have been even easier, and without downtime. Put 2012R2 machine in. Join to domain as client. Install Hyper-V role. Run Sysinternals Disk2VHD on the 2003 servers. Grab the VHDs and copy to the 2012R2 servers. Create new virtual machine (isolated from the network), and test operation. Schedule 30 minutes of downtime. Turn off 2003 server. Bring its VM onto the network (two clicks). Test. Listen out for people shouting. When nobody does, start preparing a 2012R2 VM and take over the functions and data one by one. With DFS etc., a good team, and proper planning, it can be done in a day.

Quite why we need a livestream event to do that, I don't know.

1
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The cute things they say

Lee D
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Forwards me a Viagra spam:

"Hi, Just so you know, I got this this morning"....

Thanks. Now so did I!

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Splash! Three times as much water as ALL of Earth's oceans found TRAPPED underground

Lee D
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Re: Bible Thumpers Rejoice

I was hoping for more of a query about sea-levels rising, etc...

To be honest, I'd be shocked if the water wasn't making it's way through somehow. Are you telling me that someone thought that billions of tonnes of a tiny molecule are somehow magically floating atop water-tight rocks that slide over each other and expose enormous holes in themselves all the time, when the pressures of deep-seas are such that we can't even send metal boxes down there? I wouldn't be surprised if they were actually some of the fuel for the Earth's internal heat that's hotter than the Sun - H and O make quite a bang, and H is pretty much the basis of a star.

Maybe not in the forms we know, maybe not in states usable by us, but we basically fire water into the hot rocks ourselves and collect it for heat, so it must be happening naturally all over the surface too. At the kinds of pressures and heats that turn dinosaurs into oil and trees into diamonds, though, who really knows how it happens?

1
7

Yet another reason to skip commercials: Microsoft ad TURNS ON your Xbox One

Lee D
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Like the old classic:

"Voice recognition, eh? Whatever you do, don't say "Delete all files", yes?"

Don't get the point of, nor the need for, voice recognition. Especially not when it has to listen 24 hours a day just for that 2 second gap when you want it to turn on, and not all the other times you might say something similar.

17
5

'CAPTAIN CYBORG': The wild-eyed prof behind 'machines have become human' claims

Lee D
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Re: So much to do, so little time...

Excusing the "chest masters"...

Worse than that... we can't even decide what intelligence is. The Turing Test is not really well-defined and certainly isn't a cover-all explanation of when we hit "AI". I would reject it out of hand as having achieved nothing more than this article points out - deception by one human of another using a machine as the tool of that deception. That's not really "intelligence" on the behalf of the computer, only a display of intelligence, or lack of it, by the humans.

All AI that I've ever seen is highly dubious and amounts to nothing more than basic heuristics, or gibberish. Although I can happily claim that humans give the latter all the time, we tend to perceive those humans as "non-human"... a guy telling you what his gerbil had to say about a certain place is the kind of guy you'd move down the bus away from. And the former do not describe humans at all - in fact, there are a vanishingly small number of "rules" that any particular instance of a human will follow blindly every time. And en-masse, we're even more dumb.

I hate the focus on "AI". We don't have it. We don't have anything on the horizon near it. And we've been doing and saying the same things for nearly a hundred years, if not more. We're not even close. We can do interesting things, we can automate machines to a high degree and we can have them do some wonderfully difficult work a lot quicker than we ever could (e.g. in the computer vision areas, etc.), but there's not a peep, not a glimpse, not a sign, of any real "intelligence" that I've ever seen.

Which makes me wonder, sometimes, if there's more than just a "complexity" problem to be solved to approach AI... whether there's some inherent physical process or characteristic that inserts enough "illogical" or random elements into the physics to make everything just that bit more capable of breaking from logic and rules and into decisions and intelligence. I'd place my bets on something quantum, personally.

And the bit that really annoys me? It takes a human baby several years of constant, intense, personally-focused training to get close to mastering the baby-end of intelligence. Yet every AI project I've seen tends to be a year or two old at the most - usually just long enough to write a paper, get your doctorate and then flee before someone asks you to do any more on it. And the computer systems we have don't even approach the complexity of the human brain, nor it's genetic "bootstrap" headstart on being successful at forming intelligence quickly from a blank slate.

Start an AI project that is intended to run continuously and last 100 years, using the most powerful hardware available, which we train constantly in the same intense amounts of data and detail as we could a baby. Then we might approach something akin to a three-year-old. It's no wonder we've got nowhere with it so far.

13
1

NeoPost: This is how you DON'T do PIN security

Lee D
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Frankly (haha!), most franking machines are a pain in the butt. Everywhere I've used one it still dials up over PPP to top-up and you can happily top-up hundreds of pounds each time (I believe it just gets invoiced, but I don't really care).

The ink-cost alone is probably wiping out a lot of the savings of franking mail, not to mention the hassle of keeping analogue lines around, or buying the start-of-the-art Ethernet ones and supplying power/sockets/Internet to them.

To be honest, the largest use of them I see if to print pretty postmarks, not to save any money. And it's one hell of an expensive post-mark when the inks are nothing but an old HP deskjet cartridge with some knobs on to stop you cloning them (literally, I recognise the casing / head layout).

If I ran my own company, I'd say sod it and go to CostCo and bulk-buy stamps and stick them on. By the time you pee about weighing the item, feeding it through, correcting paper jams, replacing inks, topping up, etc. you might as well just lick a stamp.

And if urban myth is correct, bulk-buying of stamps is a good way to beat inflation...

10
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Redmond is patching Windows 8 but NOT Windows 7, say security bods

Lee D
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Re: As someone still running Windows XP x64 ...

Despite the fact that, only last year, I did move my previous employer (a large independent school) from XP (32-bit!), Server 2003, Office 2003 to 8, Server 2012R2, Office 2013 - I can't agree with you here.

We threw it onto every PC, every client. In fact, I had one image whereas with XP I'd needed several (CPU architecture differences, etc.). I set up the image with 8 with Classic Shell, and to be honest it was pretty indistinguishable. All software ran - over 200 pieces of it - apart from a single 1990's-era Quicktime-based heap of educational junk that had never been updated and the company went bust years ago - which still ran, but crashed on a certain function. All hardware was supported (did not install a SINGLE driver across a network of 200 machines, all booted from the same PXE image) - I deleted 5Gb of old XP drivers that I'd needed for the same machines!

It all worked. And, with the fudginess of the XP-backwards compatibility, imaging and network setup, there were speed IMPROVEMENTS to running 8. Things felt, and were, faster. XP - for instance - didn't have AHCI drivers for quite a lot of our hardware and we were running in IDE mode.

We held off for ever until we couldn't hold off no more. And, single-handedly, I deployed a network of it after managing the same network on XP for many years. In one school summer (six weeks). There was nothing wrong with it. It just worked. Things just ran. And Windows looked like Windows (all Metro apps were uninstalled, for instance). On the same hardware.

I don't quite know what you're holding off against, though I admit I held a huge amount of scepticism on my own part. To be honest, if we had needed XP for anything, I'd have virtualised it on PXE-deployed images, the transition was just that easy. That's how you're going to have to do eventually, and if you use Linux underneath the VM, nobody will care - and I quite understand that kind of philosophy. But XP x64 on raw hardware? Give in, mate. At least just throw it inside a VM and admit the usage - you like the interface, not the OS running your machine - VM it and put a modern OS (any OS, even a thin-hypervisor) on the actual hardware and save yourself an awful lot of hassle. And then no disk-sector issues forever more.

Though I'm not the kind of person to dive into anything early (hell, I'm a Slackware guy and the above network had at least two Slackware servers!), there's really no reason to hold back on newer Windows except paranoia. You're used to configuring XP, get used to configuring 8 to the same depth and all the stuff you don't like about it can be turned off.

In fact, I'm about to do the same again for another independent school - same kind of size, but coming from 7. They were 8-fearers who'd even had a failed 8-trial - until they saw my 8 image. This summer I'm redoing every 7 PC to 8. We have no software that demands 8, and we have licensing which means that it costs no more to deploy 8 than to deploy 7 - but the fact that we stay on supported configurations with a long lifetime and, more importantly, a lot of new features (some of which we switch off, like Metro, of course) for basically zero downsides means that it's not an issue. And our banks are starting to make noises towards only supporting the smartcard readers on 8, and various educational suppliers debating similar.

XP was great. I used it myself for years. I'm on 7 at home. But I do most of my real work in VM's of various OS. The fact is that the base OS does not matter anymore. If you're a home user, VMWare is free. If you're an 8 user, you have Hyper-V for free - or you can just use the free Hyper-V hypervisor on the bare hardware. If you're commercial, the cost of a hypervisor software is either free (with Server editions) or lost in the noise of any upgrade.

Bite the bullet, put your hardware on something recent. Stop making problems for yourself. And admit that what you like about XP is the GUI and the working pattern. Not the OS.

6
3

Freeview's rumoured '£100m YouView killer' is real – and it's yet another digital TV thing

Lee D
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I don't need any more platforms. I do not struggle to access the content available for the prices it's available for.

What gets my goat is that the content either isn't available, or I'm not prepared to pay that much for it.

I pay for cable-TV with my broadband and phone. That gives me several hundred channels of junk, that I don't really watch. To be honest, my girlfriend and I lived for four years without a TV, and barely noticed, and let's face it - a landline is optional nowadays. So really we both know that 2/3rds of what we pay for is wasted, but it still turns out to be a reasonable deal for our broadband connection. We never press the red button, and I think we bought a pay-for movie once (and it crashed halfway and wouldn't let us resume it, but that's probably just fluke).

We have FreeviewHD. It shows the same stuff as cable but isn't interactive, doesn't offer Pay-TV, etc. Not that we use either of those features, but given that both are plugged into the telly, we default to the one that gives us more channels/features. We also have FreeSat plugged into the TV. We use it so much, I moved the dish to point at an Italian satellite for my girlfriend (and we don't watch that either).

Over and above that, we use BBC iPlayer and 4oD's YouTube channels for anything that we've missed and need to watch. That's rare. We had Amazon Prime for the trial month. We watched four old junk movies and then I stopped the payment on it before it went live. If I'm honest, I benefited more from the free delivery on Amazon than I did the streaming/on-demand/pay-TV even with hundreds of free TV/movies on it.

But yet, I still can't get some old comedies on DVD anywhere. They just don't exist. Try to find "The Two of Us". Yes, you might have hated it but I will spend money to find it... I have Series 1 on DVD after waiting - what - 25 years? Series 2 has never come out. It was the same for Just Good Friends - Series 1 and 2 on DVD only after 20+ years. Series 3 came out nearly 10 years later. And that's stuff just sitting in archives, that's been digitised already (they show it on Freeview/cable etc.), that they could sell to me today on just about any format they liked. Apparently, they're not interested in that.

But they like to try to sell me the latest Disney movie on every format possible for basically the same cost as a Disney DVD (i.e. ludicrously expensive) with copy-protection coming out of its ears, even 30 years after its initial release. I honestly couldn't care less about that.

We've solved the "access method" problems. We've solved the "payment method" problems (everything from a small monthly payment for lots of content to one-off payments for purchases and and rentals). Now can we get something worth buying?

I'm honestly this close to just upping my broadband connection and turning off the TV. I wouldn't pirate (that would imply that there was something worth watching/stealing), but I'd get more value out of it.

Until then, I just trawl bootsales for DVD copies of movies I want to watch. It's served me well, but I'm hardly a cheapskate. I just begrudge a movie costing more than the meal I eat in front of it for four people.

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TrueCrypt turmoil latest: Bruce Schneier reveals what he'll use instead

Lee D
Silver badge

Truecrypt isn't Windows-only.

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Skype to become 'Star Trek' style real-time translator, says Redmond

Lee D
Silver badge

If it's anything like Bing Translate, they can keep it.

My Italian friends are frequently in hysterics at the translations it gives of quite simple Italian phrases - not just bad grammar, but totally inverting the meaning of the sentence or failing altogether to translate words that a quick Google pops up the English for in seconds. Unfortunately, the Facebook default is Bing (wonder how much that cost them).

We only use Google Translate: not perfect, obviously struggles on local dialect words and things like that, but at least you can get the gist of a post. Wouldn't want to think what the average speech recognition accuracy would add to the error margins on Bing... you have to remember that a 90% recognition rate on a translation tool that's 90% right is actually giving an overall accuracy of 81%. And, to be honest, I've never got any voice recognition tool to work well enough to justify it... Siri just completely blanked me just now, then didn't understand me, then finally realised I asked for a web search, then from "furry dice" managed to get "-". And then went off to Google "-".

Sorry, voice just isn't there. It wasn't there 20 years ago, it's not there now.

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Watch this: IPv4 must die! So let's beef up on IPv6

Lee D
Silver badge

Re: IPv6

Then setup what you would if your whole ISP was IPv4.

There's an IPv4 address SET ASIDE for automatic, on-the-fly, ISP-independent, 6-to-4 translation. You just set up your local equipment, then make the last link in chain go through 6-to-4 and it talks IPv4 only. That's it.

Personally, my stuff is all using IPv6 anyway. My host is Tagadab (part of Claranet), they do cheap VPS and servers and every one gets 5 IPv4's and as many IPv6's as you like. You click a button, your server gets an IPv6 allocated and routed to you. It's that quick.

Given that every mobile operator in the world is using IPv6 by now (they have to if they want to support the latest standards), your ISP not keeping up is pretty poor show.

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