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* Posts by Michael Hoffmann

178 posts • joined 12 Jul 2007

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FREE PARTY for TEN lucky Australian Reg readers

Michael Hoffmann

Mandatory rant?

Having moved to Australia 10 years ago, Melbourne in specific, I'm now supposed to let loose with a huge Melbourne vs Sydney rant, right?

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NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark

Michael Hoffmann

Slowpoke Curiosity?

Was a bit surprised to read this - having thought Curiosity with its greater oomph would have done that in a fortnight.

Then even more surprised when googling told me that as of Jan 2014, Curiosity had only just passed 3miles/5km!

I mean there's stopping to smell^H^H^H^H^Hlaser-blast the roses^H^H^H^H^Hrocks, but this is just dawdling! ;-)

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Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol

Michael Hoffmann

I'll add mine...

6'4" with mild scoleosis, back problems had been with me since my teens. Twice I'd had lumbago so bad that the inflamed nerve-muscle spasm feedback loop affected my breathing. They injected opiates, AFAIR, directly into the mess to shut everything down.

Only thing that finally broke it was physio-therapy, regular massages (deep tissue, not feel-good "Swedish"), getting my butt to the gym and - of all things - horseback riding. Now in my sixth decade, I still get the odd back-pain episode, because as a consultant on client site you always get the crappy chairs, but nothing like it used to be. Back muscles are strong enough that keep the bent spine in check. A spot of canter and a bit of massage keeps everything loose.

Like others wrote, Paracetamol does nothing for me, painwise. All it does is what the song "Pretty Paracetamol" describes, if any others remember Fischer-Z. And I don't mean the "soothe my aching brow"... I mean the "multiply by two in the mirror on the wall" part.

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New Star Wars movie plot details leak, violate common sense and laws of physics

Michael Hoffmann
Unhappy

Re: Hope the super weapon

You just had to do it, didn't you?

Make me cry and remember how I longed for a couple of good movies made of the (early) Humanx universe novels?

Nor Crystal Tears is still one of my personal favourite First Contact novels. Or The End of the Matter - before Flinx became annoyingg.

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Michael Hoffmann

Re: I've seen this one already...

Ah yes, the one Star Wars feature so bad that even Lucas wanted to destroy it...

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Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists

Michael Hoffmann

Significantly fewer now reported

As of this morning (Aus time), it seems that significantly fewer specialists were on that specific flight. Number mentioned now is around 7, including a former chariman of the HIV/AIDS organisation.

Source: The Guardian, Australian edition

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Gust catches Amazon's skirt, reveals glimpse of 'Netflix for books'

Michael Hoffmann

Let's see the catalog first...

If they manage to add the top technical and science publishers, I would be quite interested. That means, from O'Reilly and Apress to Addison-Wesley and Springer. I'm increasingly moving my tech library to ebooks, once I found how convenient it is to have them always with me on a tablet on client site (even though I will always remain a dead-tree fan - just something about having solid paper in your hands to flick through).

You can keep the Hunger Games, 40 grayscales etc etc. Even LOTR - that one I will always enjoy with my much-loved dog-eared now-30+ year old hardcopies!

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Retiring Reg hack explains how bass playing = tech reporting

Michael Hoffmann
Pint

Nothing else to say

... but raise this icon to your health!

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Physicist proposes 1,000-foot state-sized walls to stop tornadoes

Michael Hoffmann

Re: No bricks will survive category 5

It didn't work in Pacific Rim either! A category 5 kaiju won't be bothered by such a wall.

...

What? Isn't that what we're talking about?

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SHOCK HORROR: Oz's biggest govt agencies to miss infosec deadline

Michael Hoffmann

Just who is surprised by this?

Having been "IT security manager" at one such organisation, I can only laugh bitterly:

<bitter laugh>Ha!</bitter laugh>

Didn't last long because existence as a fig leaf for auditors wasn't my idea of a dream job.

Procedure went something like this:

- develop policy and procedure according to best practise and common sense

- get buy in from the people who actually have to deal with the stuff (ops)

- get audit tickbox

- have CIO overrule it/ignore it

When this finally happened with something as simple as the password policy (CIO decrees 6(!) character length, no special characters, probably because the fucking moron's password was 123456) I threw in the towel and walked.

Yet, they were declared standard compliant by the auditors (the usual gaggle of smartly dressed boys and girls from Ernst&KPwC led by a senior partner who mostly was thinking about what vineyard or yacht he was going to add to his collection from the billables).

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Higgs boson even MORE likely to actually be Higgs boson - boffins

Michael Hoffmann

Re: Bad news for a lot of physicists

@dan1980

I would overall completely agree. My concern is that we have had 30-40 years of *mainstream* theoretical physics apparently rambling through the wilderness. When you have decades of grant money flowing into theories that even their adherent admit can't even be proven one way or the other, I can't but call that a "discipline in crisis". I'd barely call it science, seeing how they've left the scientific model behind.

Reading the books by Lee Smolin and Peter Woit was depressing.

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Michael Hoffmann

Bad news for a lot of physicists

Apart from the mildly amusing snark comments (and a few trolls), I'm surprised that nobody has commented on the fact that this is very bad news for a lot of physicists. If you hang about physics sites like Not Even Wrong, Of Particular Significance, Resonaances, etc, a lot of the posts and discussions there are/were about the fact that a lot of the "pop science" - string theory, multiple dimensions, supersymmetry, multiverse - depended on a "non-standard Higgs".

Some people had built careers and tenure on that. Even quite lucrative media presences (Michio Kaku, I'm looking at you). The more standard the Higgs becomes the more it's ripping to shreds a lot of the fashionable physics of the last 30-40 years (which is probably why theoretical and experimental physicists aren't on speaking terms anymore ;-) - and some people may be asking themselves just what the hell they've been doing all that time.

There's quite a lot of agonising over it: where does physics go now? who's going to fund it?

Obviously "if only we had even bigger accelerators" isn't going to fly.

I'm no physicist, just very scientifically interested, and following those blogs can be a bit disheartening.

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DON’T add me to your social network, I have NO IDEA who you are

Michael Hoffmann

Oh, come now...

... surely I can't be the only one who thinks that of all the idiotic social networks out there, at least LinkedIn has (or had) some claim to utility, namely professional in kind.

I *have* gotten jobs through LinkedIn, as recruiters down here all use it quite intensively (and arguably make up the majority of my connections). My current one in fact: both through recruiters finding me and getting me interviews, as well as potential employers checking out your profile. One before that, too, come to think of it.

Otherwise my connections are old colleagues across the world who I stay in touch with through LI, as a don't use Farcebook or Twatter.

That said, I joined LI when it was still fewer than 100K people - now they're what? 280 million?! What used to be fairly qualified connection requests has turned into an endless stream of, it has to be said, Indians/Pakistanis/SriLankans randomly spamming you, desperately hoping to snag a job and a visa out of you.

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IBM slashes SoftLayer prices and plugs it into more data centers

Michael Hoffmann
Unhappy

One minor problem...

As recent article in Business Weekly, Forbes, as well as ongoing blogs by people like Bob Cringely have pointed out: IBM can't afford a cloud price war.

They have 13 layers of management and Roadkill 2015 to feed. They need margins and they've already cut to the bone in terms of people who do the actual work or have any sort of clue (and by plenty of accounts have already gone below that).

I expect that SoftLayer will undergo the blueification soon, if they haven't started already. *Nothing* but absolutely NOTHING must come between Ginni and EPS20!

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Game of Thrones scribe George R R Martin will KILL YOU for US$20K

Michael Hoffmann

Re: Focus, George, focus!

Thank you and a spiritual thousand upvotes for mentioning Robert Jordan!

I have friends and acquaintances telling me I'm cutting off my nose to spite my face for refusing to read the books and watching the TV series, but back then I made a vow that I will never go through the Wheel Of Time experience again.

It seems Martin fans are already going through the same "milking it for every typed word" stage and looking at the author, he is a walking cardio-vascular disaster waiting to happen. I wouldn't wish the same end on any fan: the series being finished by a second rate hack (sorry, Sanderson fans, that's my opinion). It may be even worse: the series is finished "made for TV" by studio committee!

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Marc Andreessen: Edward Snowden is a 'textbook traitor'

Michael Hoffmann
Facepalm

Bread. Butter.

I suppose he knows which side his bread is buttered on, hmm?

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Oregon hit with federal subpoena over failed healthcare website launch

Michael Hoffmann
FAIL

Amateurs!

Should learn from Queensland Health about how to *really* blow billions. Guess IBM does Fail&Corruption better than Oracle.

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NBN Co hoses down 'user pays' story

Michael Hoffmann

Re: I would love to be able to pay

That guy lost me when he went on a "5mbps should be the priority, not 25" and "100mbps is pointless".

Quote: "There are zero internet applications, real or imagined, that would require more than 5 megabits other than ultra high definition TV."

Words fail me...

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Thanks for nothing, Apple, say forensic security chaps

Michael Hoffmann
Trollface

Alternate article title

"Good on you, Apple, says rest of the world" ?

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Vladimir Putin says internet is a 'CIA project'

Michael Hoffmann
Facepalm

Russia disconnects from Internet

Idly wondering what would happen if Putin decides to cut all of Russia from the Internet.

Pro:

Rapid decrease in spam, hacks, malware, botnets, once the master command&control centres become unavailable

Con:

Rapid decrease in pr0n, "dating" (read: prostitution) sites, and Russian mail order brides.

Leading to brains of hordes of nerds overdriving like Scotty's warp drives trying to go warp 9001. Leading to another scenario of "paradigm shift" and "this time it's different" which will make the insanity of the dot-com and web2.0 bubbles look like lost change behind the couch cushions.

Hmm, now I know what Civilization: Beyond Earth uses as its "Big Mistake" background...

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NBN Co in 'broadband kit we tested worked' STUNNER

Michael Hoffmann

And only today even The Age (*) is commenting about brain drain in Australia:

http://www.theage.com.au/business/startups-starved-of-venture-capital-20140421-370ck.html

They blame it on lack of VC, but gee, I wonder if utter lack of support for technology in terms of infrastructure might also be to blame.

(*) Paywall or Greasemonkey, take your pick

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Amazon HALVES cloud storage prices after Google's shock slash

Michael Hoffmann

RIP Rackspace?

I'd been using Rackspace for years. It was problem-free and the price difference was small enough that I saw no reason to shift.

Now, however, it's significant. I wonder if this could doom Rackspace, who just can't keep up with a destructive price war.

Should I make the switch? (yeah, yeah, never ask El Reg for advice for they shalt say both yay or nay...)

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Forget superstars, this HYPERGIANT star is 1,300 times the size of OUR SUN

Michael Hoffmann
Boffin

Re: Thin Star Stuff

Which makes me wonder whether, once it starts shedding layers as they frequently do, enough mass will remain above the Chandrasekhar limit to go neutron star or black hole.

It may end with a whimper, not a bang...

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The long war on 'DRAM price fixing' is over: Claim YOUR spoils now (It's worth a few beers)

Michael Hoffmann
Facepalm

Just great...

What if I *was* a US resident at that time, but no longer am?

I better start a lawsuit to get my $10!

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HP 'KNEW' about Autonomy's hardware sales BEFORE the whistle blew: report

Michael Hoffmann
Thumb Up

Re: Caveat emptor

Seems to work just fine. 4 links, two with epic burn, plus two with PP slides for evidence.

Never thought I'd see something that raises Oracle in my esteem!

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JAILBREAK! US smut spam king Kilbride flees minimum security prison

Michael Hoffmann

Confused about time frames

If he went to jail in 2007 with a 72 month (6 year) sentence, then why was he scheduled for release in 2015? Were there other sequential sentences involved?

Asking because when I started reading I was halfway expecting a "dumbest criminal" story where the perp escapes despite only having a couple of weeks left anyway.

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Galaxy is CRAMMED with EARTH-LIKE WORLDS – also ALIENS (probably)

Michael Hoffmann
Thumb Up

Billions and billions

Was I the only one who mentally read the "billions and billions" in a Carl Sagan voice? Or even more so, in a Johnny Carson Does Carl Sagan voice?

I feel old...

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Murdoch: I'm a Jawbone fanboi - and it's going to help me live to 100!

Michael Hoffmann

This is the guy I think of...

... when I tell people that longevity or "immortality" advances in science and medicine would be a Really Bad Idea.

Never mind overpopulation and all that! The simple fact that it's people like this who would benefit, preventing planet Earth and the rest of us plebs from at least getting natural relief of their ilk after around 4 score years, is what would make it the most irresponsible invention ever made.

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Long time ago? Galaxy far, far away? You ain't seen nothing yet

Michael Hoffmann
WTF?

Re: "An artist's rendition of..."

Am I missing something? Image processing (to normalise the massive redshift) isn't the same as "artist's rendition". Where did it say that first photo is merely created by some "artist"?

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BlackBerry inks deal to go private for $4.7bn

Michael Hoffmann
Unhappy

Worth it for patent trolls?

In the vein of your post, and possibly a sign of the times, my first thought when I saw the announcement was whether a patent troll syndicate would spend $4.7 billion in the hope of raking in far more through (threat of) lawsuits and settlements.

If the plan is to get some of the cash back then make more by going on a suing spree it would possibly be the biggest gamble the PTs have ever undertaken. Of course, anybody buying up pieces would want to gain some of that IP with it. So, could the consortium make all their $4.7b back by selling smallish IP chunks to the PT maggots descending on the carcass that was BB?

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400 million Chinese people can't speak Chinese: Official

Michael Hoffmann
Headmaster

Re: No wonder

I swear there was a Wikipedia article on this, but google gave me:

http://voxy.com/blog/index.php/2011/03/hardest-languages-infographic/

http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikibooks:Language_Learning_Difficulty_for_English_Speakers

(yeah yeah, Wikibooks is almost like Wikipedia)

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Finally it happens: MAN BITES DOG - after stabbing himself

Michael Hoffmann
Paris Hilton

Re: That's not a "hound".

What's wrong with dogs being a "conversation piece"?

Our conversations generally go like this:

Me: "Dear, <any random dog of our pack> just threw up what looks like pieces of possum again and smells like he rolled in cow pats."

She: "Bath time *again*?! And YOU clean the carpet this time!"

Country dogs make great conversation pieces!

Though I agree with the sentiment on the type of dog the object of the icon tends to have.

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Another big SAP project hits the rocks in Oz

Michael Hoffmann

Going troppo

Having worked on projects up there myself and having no intention to defend the Ibmentureitsu style conglomerates, the "natives", i.e. Darwinites, frequently aren't a help either.

Not sure I can blame 'em. After a week something up there, the heat, the humidity, the beer, just saps the life out of you. I wondered how they can get anything done - and maybe the locals have given up wondering and just drink beer.

I like heat and sun, but not when it involved putting in major IT systems.

A thought occurred to me: how do the Canadians deal with their remote, isolated, sparsely populated areas? Does Ottawa take care of all of their IT projects?

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Pulsars: the GPS beacons of the cosmos

Michael Hoffmann

Missing something?

I might have to read the Arxiv article but from the Reg article it's not clear how this Galactic Positioning System would work once you move quite a ways out of the solar system.

IIUC, Pulsars are not omni-directions, in that they have quite narrow beams out of their poles. Move "aside" a bit and you are no longer swept by the beams, making the pulsar effectively invisible.

Other would "appear", of course, as you move around space, but how would map them into an all-encompassing galactic navigation chart?

This may be just general knowledge for those familiar with mapping techniques, which I'm sadly not.

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An afternoon with Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer

Michael Hoffmann
Thumb Up

Re: Governments and interest in science.

I can highly recommend his books. Especially "This Is The Way The World Will End" is enjoyable and fascinating. He makes a small reference to its topic in the interview when mentioning that "astronomy can kill".

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WoW gold farmer throws sueball over real world gold theft

Michael Hoffmann
Meh

Wouldn't that be...

*EX* boy friend, in these circumstances?

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Snowden's secure email provider Lavabit shuts down under gag order

Michael Hoffmann
Facepalm

Re: ECC Patents

Why does this keep popping up?

Quick check on Wikipedia, then follow the links for further research on the actual patent situation around ECC. In short, it's pretty much specific implementations that are held by former Certicom (now RSA) that are patented.

The NSA itself is a licensee nowadays.

Problem is more that *ignorance* about the patent situation is holding ECC back.

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Upstart's 'FLASH KILLER' chips pack a terabyte per tiny layer

Michael Hoffmann
Thumb Up

Re: Sounds Familiar...

Wasn't petty, because this hyped up press release immediately brought "power breakthroughs" (a la uber batteries or micro fuel cells that will power an Alienware latop for a week at full load blablabla) to mind.

Wake me when I can buy one for <$500/TB and I'll jump on the early adopter bandwagon.

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Robot cop called in after MAD BONGER blown up in LIQUID MARIJUANA EXPLOSION

Michael Hoffmann
Coffee/keyboard

Icon says it all! :-D

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Comet ISON seen eructating 300,000km-long methane and CO2 BELCH

Michael Hoffmann
Boffin

Naming?

Could someone in the know explain the naming to me? It makes no sense: what if the ISON discovers another comet? Will that be ISON2? ISON The Sequel? Return of the ISON?

Don't comets normally get named after their discoverers, as in the actual *people? Hence, shouldn't this be Nevski-Novichonok, just like Levy-Shoemaker or Halley or what-not?

I'm confused that even NASA calls it "comet ISON".

How does the official naming system work?

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Boffins: Dolphins call each other NAMES. Not RUDE ones!

Michael Hoffmann
Alien

Man/dolphin/chimp the Streaker

And here I was hoping they'd determine the dolphins speak in Trinary and I could get my job app in for the Uplift Institute.

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Divers nearly DEVOURED by HUNGRY SEA BEASTS

Michael Hoffmann
FAIL

Swallowed? Hardly

"A humpback whale's mouth measures up to 15 feet across, but its esophagus is only about 6 to 10 inches wide."

Never mind humpbacks are baleen whales.

Cool vid though.

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Paypal makes man 1000x as rich as the ENTIRE HUMAN RACE

Michael Hoffmann
Joke

Shoulda charged a fee!

I do think he would have been in his rights to charge PayPal a "administrative and transaction fee" - or what PayPal itself calls their charges - in the reversal of this.

As a generous person he could have left it at a low, low 0.001% of the total amount. Piddly, really!

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Russian mobile operators say 'nyet!' to Apple, 'da!' to Samsung

Michael Hoffmann

Re: That's because men are men in Russia

Actually the pony-tailed drama queens and hipsters I see on Melbourne public transport are also going Android, going by the S3s and S4s. You know, because they all used Android before it was famous. ;)

Admittedly, I just switched to an S4 myself, although sans pony-tail. It's only been a few months and there's some adjustment. Do have to say I'm not quite convinced - Android feels rougher around the edges, not as well integrated. Very hard to put my finger on it - again, may just be de-programming my brain.

I don't do the zealotry thing - who knows in a couple of years I'll be back on Apple. Or brain implants (iBrain).

Some issues I have actually seem to stem from the S4 itself and not Android: I have hands with long fingers and I'm constantly hitting the wrong buttons, and the unit just feels somewhat awkward to me. Something I never encountered with ye old iPhone. YMMV.

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Big Blue cedes software and systems training biz to partners

Michael Hoffmann
Facepalm

Beat me to it...

... indeed, just what *does* IBM make anymore? Apart from mainframes and Lotus Notes?

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Planet-busting British space bullet ready to bomb ice moon Europa

Michael Hoffmann
Trollface

Beagle Redux?

So, this is like a certain ill-fated Mars Probe, but this time you poms get to say "we mean to do that!" ?

(downvoters ahoy: you're already going to pwn us 5:0 in the Ashes, so you can take one little jibe from your Antepodean cousins, mkay?)

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VMware waves goodbye to Zimbra

Michael Hoffmann

Re: Email is still the number 1 collaboration tool

I'm probably naive in saying that I had high hopes in Google Wave showing us what future communication could look like. RIP.

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Michael Hoffmann
Happy

Re: It's a real shame.

Note I am in no way involved with the company, just a content (as in happy) user of the software: give Communigate Pro a look.

Years ago I was a paying user, running it on Solaris in a SOHO environment. If you ran it without paying, the worst they did was a attach a little "you are running this on a free version of CGP" into emails. Nowadays, it's free with full functionality for up to 5 users with quite fair support pricing for higher numbers.

It's a full enterprise communication suite, with email, IM, scheduling, VoIP(!), and a host of others that I don't even use in my little SOHO setup. Runs happily on any Linux distro I've thrown it on, also available on WIndows, IIRC. Very kind in its use of resources.

Works like a charm with Outlook clients, if you need to, as it comes with MAPI adapters.

I was going to use Zimbra but I had many of the concerns voices here, such as expected life of the product that was being bounced around like a hot potato. In addition the free version was crippled. Not the case with CGP.

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Graphical front ends for PowerShell? Here's a couple for you

Michael Hoffmann
Thumb Up

Re: Geh

An excellent justification for both. Which means that the ideal GUI tool would always offer the option to show the actual CLI commands being issued. Is that the case with these tools?

With that you'd follow Martin 71's example of "getting it right" via the GUI on one machine, then take the CLI output, parametrise it and copy&paste it into a CLI wrapper - for, while, whatever loops for N machines, M disks, and X files (har!).

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OFFICIAL: Humans will only tolerate robots as helpful SLAVES

Michael Hoffmann

Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butlerian_Jihad

Off to found the Mentat School now...

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