Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:Actual Solaris Sysadmin Here - Here's the story (Score 4, Interesting) 190

by Ereth (#49045315) Attached to: Five Years After the Sun Merger, Oracle Says It's Fully Committed To SPARC

I remember the first time I had a real hardware error on a Dell system running Linux. Straightforward enough, called out DIMM1. So I called Dell. They said "Oh, that doesn't necessarily mean a memory error. The way the PCI bus works that error could be on the bus itself, in the memory, or in the card in the first PCI slot. There's no way to tell".

Seriously? No way to tell what "Error in DIMM 1" means? That's what the guy insisted. His solution? Turn the computer off and reboot. If it crashes again, call him back.

This was on a Production database. No way was I going to just power off/on and wait for a follow up crash. I was used to sending Sun explorers and getting exact part numbers back for failures. If Dell couldn't do that, why were were playing this game?

Dell finally agreed to send a technician with all three parts so he could diagnose and we could solve it with one downtime instead of several. But as a long time Solaris guy, I was totally disgusted.

Sure, for edge servers, startups, small things, you can get away with that. But for business critical in Enterprise? I want better support from my vendor than "reboot and let us know if crashes again".

Comment: Re:Nope (Score 1) 332

by Ereth (#48897043) Attached to: UHD Spec Stomps on Current Blu-ray Spec, But Will Consumers Notice?

You apparently need smarter friends.

I just put a 55" UHD TV in my home office, to replace an aging 50" DLP. That's not your normal viewing space as the typical viewing distance is only about 4 feet away (my living room has a projector and a 120" screen). Hooked it up, got some 4k content and my nephew literally exclaimed "WOW" and when his wife came to get him, I believe her exact words were "Holy crap!". Within seconds both of them could see it was better.

I want a 4k projector for the 120" screen, but those are still in the $20k range, so no time soon for that. In the meantime, "Breaking Bad" never looked better than in UHD.

Comment: Because physical keyboards aren't universal (Score 4, Insightful) 544

by Ereth (#47551795) Attached to: Lots Of People Really Want Slideout-Keyboard Phones: Where Are They?

I thought that the reason physical keyboards were going away was obvious... with a software keyboard you can make one part and sell it in every country in the world. The software keyboard is infinitely flexible and can be changed to represent any language. A physical keyboard can't, and so a phone manufacturer has to make a different physical keyboard for each market, complicating inventory management and increasing price overall since they can't amortize chinese keyboards with US phones.

The cost of giving it to you isn't the cost of making it for you, it's the cost of not being able to sell your phone in all the other countries, and THAT is the truly "high" cost that you can't afford to pay to get them to make one for you.

Comment: Re:Accept, don't fight, systemd (Score 1) 533

by Ereth (#46952901) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Practical Alternatives To Systemd?

SMF didn't replace init. Init is still there. It will still run legacy rc.d scripts, just like always.

SMF incorporated the existing common rc.d scripts and gave them dependencies, so that, say, Apache doesn't start if networking is down. It also gives you the ability to bring up the entire stack by simply starting something at the top, and it's aware of what beneath it needs to be enabled to work. It also gives you a log of everything starting up, so you can track down the problem (though, granted, often the log is not particularly useful - "restarting too often" doesn't tell you as much as I'd like).

I don't know what problems you are having debugging networking problems in Solaris, but I do it all the time, from the command line. I don't know any serious Solaris admins who use that god-awful SMC gui tool. We all use the command line. And Solaris maintains backwards compatibility, so we still have ifconfig, and snoop and all the same tools you've had since Solaris 2.5 available to you.

SMF is all XML, if you want to read the configuration or make your own, you can.

Comment: Re:Plan not grandfathered and minimum standard. (Score 5, Insightful) 723

by Ereth (#46718705) Attached to: Can the ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Be Believed?

To follow up on this.. I actually had an employer plan once that had a maximum annual payout of $1500. Not MY out-of-pocket maximum, the Insurers out-of-pocket maximum. I took one test for Sleep Apnea and I was done. They refused to pay for anything else the rest of the year. When I confronted my employer about it, they said "Well, it's cheap, and contractors don't tend to care about health insurance". That particular employer didn't offer any other plans. Oh, and my payment for this plan? About $1500 a year.

Some health plans really NEEDED to be eliminated, as they were little more than fraud.

Comment: Re:Should be legal, with caveat (Score 1) 961

by Ereth (#45531175) Attached to: Why Scott Adams Wished Death On His Dad

My mother had cancer. While visiting in my home, she had a stroke, which put her into a coma about an hour later. We called 911, went to the hospital where we were told she would never awaken from that coma. She had a "no extraordinary measures" clause in her living will. The hospital honored it, and so did my father and my sister and myself. We knew within minutes of arriving at the hospital that my mother would never leave the hospital alive. She would never again open her eyes. She would never say any more words. In fact, when I asked the doctor if there was any chance she would awaken, he informed me that they were giving her medication to ensure she didn't, because her organs were shutting down and she'd be in terrible pain if she were to awaken.

So, all of that, guaranteed that this was her end, she was going to die, right then and there, and we still had to sit there and listen to her moan for 18 HOURS. 18 hours of watching, waiting for her final breath, and there wasn't anything we could do to ease her passing.

This wasn't "terminal illness, you'll die in six months", this was "you'll die sometime in the next few hours" and it was STILL illegal to make her passing easier, not only for her, but for her family.

My 18 hours is nothing compared to what Scott Adams had to deal with, and it didn't cost us $8,000/month, but the feeling is the same. When my dog had kidney failure I took him in, we gave him a shot, and he passed quickly and mostly painlessly. Why couldn't we have done the same for my mother? Why did she have to endure 18 hours of waiting for her organs to fail? Why did we have to watch, unable to help?

I understand the law is there to prevent people from dying when they've just been diagnosed, but there comes a point where the only thing left is to die, and we should be able to make it easier on the dying, and on their loved ones. It is a crime against humanity that we cannot.

Comment: The time has come to move forward (Score 4, Insightful) 253

by Ereth (#44231661) Attached to: The Air Force's Love For Fighter Pilots Is Too Big To Fail

As a former Naval Aircrewman, and an all around "flying is awesome" kind of geek (I knew I wanted to fly when I was 3), I have to say I understand the reticence. Flying is awesome. It's hard to give up something you love doing.

At the same time, the cost-benefit analysis is swinging/has swung towards unmanned craft. They can have performance envelopes that won't allow a human inside. They can have significant cost savings in not having to protect the human inside.

Situational Awareness is big, but we do that with the Electronic Battlefield now. Some years ago I was very much in the "you'll never replace a pilot in the cockpit" side of the argument. Now.. I think the F-35, a fighter I so desperately wanted, should be eliminated, and replaced with drones. Times change. Technology changes. We all love the Sopwith Camel and the P-51, but you wouldn't use either one in a modern war.

It's going to be a difficult political move, but it's the right move, long term. And it took me many years before I could say that without gritting my teeth first. :)


Thousands of Blackbirds Fall From Sky Dead 577

Posted by samzenpus
from the silent-spring dept.
Dan East writes "In a fashion worthy of a King or Hitchcock novel, blackbirds began to fall from the sky dead in Arkansas yesterday. Somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 birds rained down on the small town of Beeb, Arkansas, with no visible trauma. Officials are making wild guesses as to what happened — lightning strike, high-altitude hail, or perhaps trauma from the sound of New Year's fireworks killed them."

Comment: Re:It's not Mac vs Windows, it's Windows vs Unix (Score 1) 424

by Ereth (#34652704) Attached to: Why Android Is the New Windows

Considering that Unix is STILL dominant in the Datacenter I think your argument that "The window for Unix closed when the 386 processorr[sic], Windows NT and the client-server model enabled developers to do similar things with a PC that could only be done with a minicomputer or Unix box before" is totally flawed.

You are probably unaware that major commercial vendors made their products for desktop Unix for many years. WordPerfect, for example, which at the time was the most dominant word processor on the planet, made versions for many Unixes, including SCO, and several other x86 Unix products that existed at the time. These major vendors left the market because of fragmentation.

No less than John Carmack has complained about the problems developing for Android vs the ease of developing for iOS. Feel free to ignore history, but having lived through it, I see it playing out again.

Comment: It's not Mac vs Windows, it's Windows vs Unix (Score 1) 424

by Ereth (#34634332) Attached to: Why Android Is the New Windows

There has been a lot of discussion of late comparing the Apple iOS market and the Android market to the battle between Windows and MacOS many years ago. I think this comparison is misleading, and I think people looking at todays "OS Wars" would do well to remember the "OS Wars" of yesterday.

The comparison goes like this: Apple makes a proprietary device, with their own OS on it, and you can only get it from them. Google makes an OS (Android) that they license to multiple vendors, and you can get it on a large variety of hardware. This makes Google Android the Microsoft Windows of this battle.

Except that what a lot of people don't remember is that when Windows rose to dominance, Apple wasn't their only competitor. The truly entrenched product was Unix. And Unix owned the Datacenter. Unix people couldn't imagine Microsoft Windows ever being inside their Datacenter. It was inconceivable. And so the Unix vendors engaged in what we now call the "Unix Wars".

In the Unix Wars, there were a lot of vendors selling variants of AT&Ts UNIX. Now, in theory, these would all be compatible with one another, because they all came from AT&T (or Berkeley) as a starting point. But the vendors all wanted to make their product better than the competition so they all added different things, so theirs would stand out. And Developers quickly found that they couldn't make one version of their application, but had to make multiple versions, one for each of the major UNIX products out there. They might have different graphical interfaces, or they might have different hardware capabilities. And so, the application market was splintered.

Microsoft, on the other hand, while allowing their product to run on absolutely anybodies hardware, was very controlling over how Windows looked and acted. You could buy Windows from CompaQ or from IBM but what you got was the same. You had the exact same interface, you had the exact same applications, you had the exact same programming libraries available, so developers could make one copy of their application and it would run everywhere Windows did. Microsoft controlled EXACTLY how Windows looked, what was on the desktop, what was on the menu bar, no matter who you bought it from.

It is Apple, not Google, who is following this model. Sure, iPhones are only available from AT&T in this country, but they are available in a lot of other countries, from a lot of other vendors. And you can run your app on any of them, they'll all look and work the same. And when the AT&T exclusivity runs out and you can get an iPhone on other carriers, it will still look and act exactly like an iPhone.

Google, on the other hand, lets the carrier modify their OS how they see fit, and we are seeing a repeat of the "Unix Wars" all over again. Each carrier tries to make their version better, put a better front end on it, change how the hardware works, make theirs just a tiny bit shinier so people will buy it instead of the identical version from their competitor. And the Developers have to deal with that difference, and the Android market is fractured, at least a little bit, because of it.

iOS vs Android isn't MacOS vs Windows. It's Windows vs Unix. And Apple is playing the role of Microsoft this time.

Comment: Re:well done (Score 1) 1695

by Ereth (#33523036) Attached to: Rackspace Shuts Down Quran-Burning Church's Sites

Rackspace has no requirement to have anybody as a customer. They are a business. The customer violates the terms of service. They have every right to refuse to service that customer.

I was once faced with a similar situation many years ago when I was one of two employees in a very tiny ISP here in Jacksonville. Sondra London was one of our customers and had collected writings of the convicted Gainesville murderer Danny Rolling. She was hosting her site at America Online, when a Senator complained and AOL shut her down. She came to us to see if we would host the book, which was essentially "How to become a serial killer". She has every right to publish that book, but we did not have a requirement to publish it for her. I spent a lot of time thinking about the First Amendment issue there. I am an ardent Free Speech supporter, but I had to choose to not be her distribution point for what was clearly "bad speech". She found a much larger distribution point, and went elsewhere.

Comment: Math education in America is pathetic (Score 5, Interesting) 1268

by Ereth (#33241100) Attached to: US Students Struggle With Understanding of the 'Equal' Sign

Math education in America is pathetic. I went through my nephews High School textbook and there wasn't any MATH in it. There were lots of pictures of butterflies and "Why are we learning this?" columns and the whole thing looked like it was designed to be entertaining, rather than educational. The math was an afterthought, with hardly any problems, no explanations of those problems or how to solve them, and no answers. I was stunned, especially when I learned it was written by four math professors.

There is some argument, of course, that this is on purpose, and that we fail our duties to educate our children because an educated populace would be a danger to those in power. I'm not prepared to accept that, but I do think we've completely failed in our duty, and the uneducated masses of today is evidence enough of that.

My father has a saying, "There's no teaching if there's no learning. Until there is learning, you aren't a teacher, you are simply a presenter". I think we have far too many presenters, and not anywhere near enough teachers.

panic: kernel trap (ignored)