Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Note: You can take 10% off all Slashdot Deals with coupon code "slashdot10off." ×

Comment the editorial is unnecessarily harsh (Score 1) 594

Sure, Virgin is building a "millionaire thrill ride". I don't dispute that. But more broadly useful technical knowledge and expertise will still be gained in the process. Furthermore, the test pilots know the risks, and accept them willingly; I'm sure if Virgin asked for volunteers, there would be a long line of people (both qualified and not) lining up to test these things.

If you're going to criticize it for not doing enough to help us get to Mars, you might as well criticize any and all non-essential spending of any kind that doesn't help us get there. Or if you really want to look at the cost/benefit angle, should we not be prioritizing fixing the problems on this planet first, before we embark on the exceedingly expensive and dangerous endeavor of putting humans on another one (which, lest we forget, is extremely hostile to Earth-based life)? If we are (as the author seems to be) worried about a "dinosaur killer" asteroid event, we should put the money into figuring out how to detect and deflect incoming asteroids. Seems to me that would be much more cost-effective, and have higher odds of success than evacuating humanity to Mars.

Comment FTDI overstepped their authority, but... (Score 1) 572

They seem to be the only vendor of USB serial chips whose products seem to "just work" under the majority of use cases, on both Windows and Linux. Every time I have had a weird USB serial problem (on either OS), the solution has been to get a FTDI-based device. Problem solved.

If 3rd party vendors are illegally appropriating their IP, then they can go after those vendors in court. I also have no problem with them rigging their driver so that it does not work with "clone" products. But intentionally damaging devices they do not own steps over the line.

I do not think a boycott is the answer. Yes, they made a mistake with this driver update; but do you really want to (potentially) drive the designer of the best existing USB serial chip out of business? If we go that route, everyone loses.

Comment Re:Not sure why Asus is out (Score 1) 294

I've been using Asus almost exclusively for roughly a decade. My initial reason for doing so was the fact that they continued to support ECC on their consumer AMD motherboards while other vendors did not.

Linux compatibility out-of-box has been so-so, but all issues I've encountered have been solvable. Ubuntu 10.04 had problems with the NIC, audio, and temperature/fan monitoring on the Asus M5A97 EVO; all issues were addressed via use of out-of-tree drivers, and with 12.04/14.04 everything "just works". Getting Linux to boot from a software RAID-1 array on the Asus M5A97 R2.0 was a pretty major PITA, but some of that came down to my own lack of familiarity with UEFI and GPT.

The fact that AMD hasn't released a new chipset for Socket AM3+ in a very long time actually has a silver lining for Linux users -- it means their chipset driver support in current distros is mature and stable.

I have no first-hand info about their Intel boards either, as I haven't built an Intel-based system since the age of the dinosaurs. A former co-worker built an Intel-based Debian system on an Asus motherboard a couple of years ago though, and I don't recall him having any real issues aside from the same audio codec problem I hit with the M5A97 EVO and Ubuntu 10.04.

Comment Incredibly heavy-handed (Score 1) 495

Hmm... Microsoft behaving like a spastic bull in a china shop? Who would've thought it was possible...

All well and good that they're trying to fight the good fight against malware; but taking out millions of legitimate users as collateral damage is simply unacceptable. Somebody really botched this operation. I hope there's some sort of accountability (but I'm not going to hold my breath).

Comment Re:My condolences... and some other thoughts (Score 1) 552

That's tough. If it is months, or even (a small number of) years, then there's hope. If it is on the bad side of "if ever" then the question needs to be asked: how likely is it that technology will be capable of giving her a quality of life that she is willing to accept? I have no idea what the legal ramifications are, but since she is obviously conscious and aware, in a sane world her wishes -- based on the best information available -- should take priority over all else.

Comment Back in *my* day... (Score 1) 521

...control-S (XOFF) was used to pause the scrolling on a "dumb" CRT terminal. I don't think I have ever used it to save a document.

Systems I care about (i.e. anything I use for "real work") are on UPSes. If the hardware or software is unstable enough that it crashes unexpectedly more often than once every couple of months (give or take), I fix/replace the hardware or start looking for alternative software to accomplish the same task.

Comment My condolences... and some other thoughts (Score 2, Interesting) 552

First of all, my condolences. That is a terrible, terrible thing to have happen. I feel especially bad for your sister-in-law, as this is pretty much a worst-case scenario -- conscious and aware, but unable to do anything. The mere thought of being in that kind of state terrifies me.

The brain is quite resilient. Your idea of some sort of brainwave device may actually have some merit; the "biofeedback" craze of the 1970s and '80s demonstrated that you can train yourself to modify your own brainwaves (and other "involuntary" bodily functions), and people have been working on brainwave-based control devices ever since. I'm not sure what's currently out there, but perhaps a creative combination of off-the-shelf sensors and some hacked-together interfaces to a laptop or Raspberry Pi type device could yield some useful results.

If you don't mind telling, what is her prognosis for recovery? Is this believed to be a temporary, or (shudder) long-term/permanent condition? This will certainly affect how you will want to proceed.

Comment Management cares about the bottom line (Score 3, Insightful) 192

If you're primarily focused on meeting the letter of "service level agreements", IMO you've already entered what I'll call "metrics hell" -- a desolate realm where meeting some (more likely than not) ill-conceived measure of "performance" takes precedence over actually helping your users get their jobs done more efficiently. Closing helpdesk tickets within some predefined timeframe is meaningless in the grand scheme of things if you haven't actually solved the users' problems.

Comment Re:Another day, another hole... (Score 1) 236

Noise and size aren't an issue, as it is in the crawlspace. Out of sight, out of mind... quite literally! All maintenance is done over the network.

All kinds of crap has gotten piled in front of it since I set it up; I haven't needed physical access to the box in over 3 years. When I eventually do need to get at it (which, at this rate, probably won't be until Ubuntu Server 10.04 goes EOL in about a year) I will need to un-bury it first!

I hear you on the Realtek NICs too. While their poor reputation was indeed deserved in the past, they seem to have gotten a lot better over the past few years. I don't know if they have fixed bugs in their silicon, or if recent drivers have implemented workarounds; but whatever the reason, they seem to work reasonably well now.

Comment Another day, another hole... (Score 1) 236

It is crap like this, and the abysmally unreliable hardware most consumer routers seem to be based on, that has convinced me not to buy consumer routers any more. Been using an old PC (running a copy of Ubuntu Server booted from a CF card) as my router for several years now.

Yeah, I know the power consumption of an old PC sucks compared to a consumer router. But after going through 3 routers in something like 5 years I was sick of dealing with that crap. The PC-based router is way more stable and reliable.

Comment This really resonates for me! (Score 1) 226

The phrase "technology utility player" almost perfectly describes my current role. My official job title is "Principal Software Engineer". However, I spend less than half of my time doing actual software development. I am also responsible for maintaining the Linux side of our infrastructure (it is a mixed Windows/Linux environment and IT only manages the Windows side); occasionally get pressed into service debugging low-level hardware issues in prototypes of custom boards and cables; and until fairly recently was being shipped all over the country on short notice to support product demos.

TBH I actually enjoy this kind of role, except for one aspect: I don't think management understands that everything takes longer because I am juggling so many different things. All they really see is that Project X, which was supposed to take 80 hours, takes a month or more of calendar time. Or that infrastructure issue Y goes unresolved for weeks because it isn't an emergency (yet) and never floats to the top of the priority list.

There used to be two of us "utility player" software guys here. The other one quit a few months ago, and we were not able to find a replacement with the same mix of skills. This has definitely lengthened the list of things I need to juggle.

"The fundamental principle of science, the definition almost, is this: the sole test of the validity of any idea is experiment." -- Richard P. Feynman