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+ - Magnetic Field of Earth Weakening a Sign Poles Are Flipping->

Submitted by Trachman
Trachman (3499895) writes "The magnetic field of Earth is weakening more rapidly than many scientists thought it would, a sign that Earth’s magnetic poles might flip within a few hundred years as opposed to thousands of years. Data collected from Swarm, the collective name for three European Space Agency (ESA) satellites, confirms that Earth’s magnetic field is weakening, something which has led to many past switches in Earth’s magnetic poles.Deep ocean core studies have confirmed, according to NASA, that the Earth’s magnetic poles reverse on a relatively frequent basis. They usually switch anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 years. As it has been 700,000 years or so since a flip has taken place, Earth is overdue for one. The weakening magnetic field might be a sign that the switch will occur sooner, rather than later. Scientists, according to a report by LiveScience, had thought that Earth’s magnetic field was weakening by about five percent every hundred years. At that rate, they calculated that a flip in the Earth’s magnetic fields would not happen for around another 2,000 years. However, the new data from Swarm indicates that Earth’s magnetic field is actually currently weakening at a rate of five percent every decade instead of century. That rate is 10 times faster than the scientists had allowed for in their calculations about when the next flip would happen. That being said, we know that the Earth's magnetic field is primary protecting shield from cosmic particles and, consequently, is a primary factor to the Earth's temperature.

My Scoop is following: At the risk of being not popular here at Slashdot I dare to ask: can magnetic field changes and climate changes be connected and analyzed in concert?"

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Murphy says no. (Score 1) 241

by NotSanguine (#47434559) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Unattended Maintenance Windows?

In general, don't do anything that isn't your core business. Or another way of saying it, Do What Only You Can Do.

If you are an insurance company, is building and maintaining hardware your business? No, not in the slightest. You have no more business maintaining computer hardware as you have maintaining printing presses to print your own claims forms.

Maintaining hardware and the rest of the infrastructure stack however, is the business of Amazon AWS, Windows Azure, etc. The "fantasy" you're referring to is the crazy idea that you, as some kind of God SysAdmin, can out-perform the world's top infrastructure providers at maintaining infrastructure. Even if you were the best SysAdmin alive on the planet, you can't scale very far.

Sure, any of those providers can (and do, frequently) fail. Still, they are better than you can ever hope to be, especially once you scale past a handful of servers. If you are concerned that they still fail, that's good, yet it's still a problem worst addressed by taking the hardware in house. A much better solution is to build your deployments to be cloud vendor agnostic: Be able to run on AWS or Azure (or both, and maybe a few other friends too) either all the time by default or at the flip of a (frequently tested) switch.

Even building in multi-cloud redundancy is far easier, cheaper, and more reliable than you could ever hope to build from scratch on your own. That's just the reality of modern computing.

There are reasons to build on premises still, but they are few and far between. Especially now that cloud providers are becoming PCI, SOX, and even HIPAA capable and certified.

Yes. AWS, Azure, etc. are focused on (and are actually pretty good at) providing compute services (whether that be PaaS or straight-up VMs). However, what they are not is contractually responsible for the safekeeping or integrity of your data.

There are definitely use cases for using "someone else's servers." Use them for external-facing resources like a web presence, customer portal, extranet services or even email. But when it comes to business critical systems and data, no one has a more compelling motive to secure and maintain them than an internal IT staff.

I imagine you'll disagree with me, which is fine. I would point out that despite the costs of implementing and maintaining a highly availabile internal virtualization environment, many of those costs are significantly offset by the usage and maintenance contracts as well as network connectivity required to support internal access to "someone else's servers."

In the end, it's a matter of balancing the costs against the criticality and confidentiality of the data, IMHO.

Assuming it would require me to provide personal information, remind me not to do business with whatever company you work for. Then again, if you're a shill for a "cloud" (marketing-speak for "someone else's servers), I understand. Either way, carry on.

Comment: Re:First contact? (Score 1) 90

Please tell me the novel doesn't wreck the ending in some weird appeasement to religion like the movie did.

Not as I recall. There were other things that the movie ruined too. It's an okay novel, I wouldn't buy a hardcover it's not worth that, but the mass market paperback would certainly be cheap enough to make it worthwhile to read.

Comment: Re:Raises the question (Score 1) 241

by NotSanguine (#47432959) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Unattended Maintenance Windows?

This raises the question of why people don't just avoid the pedantic bickering by saying "raises the question".

Because, generally speaking, pedants are tedious and annoying, and no one else cares about the trivial minutiae in which pedants like to get bogged down. It's irrelevant to the topic at hand.

At least, that's what my wife tells me. ;-)

There. FTFY. Pedantry and grammar nazism all in one pretty package. You're welcome.

Comment: Re:Murphy says no. (Score 2, Insightful) 241

by NotSanguine (#47432921) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Unattended Maintenance Windows?

...Better yet, use Amazon EC2 for your infrastructure so you can spool up as many redundant systems as necessary.

Exactly. Because if Amazon screws up, they won't blame you. That fantasy and a couple bucks will get you a Starbucks latte.

Using someone else's servers is always a bad idea for critical systems. Virtualization is definitely the way to go, but use your own hardware. Yes, that means you need to maintain that hardware, but that's a small (or not so small, in a large environment -- but worth it) price to pay because Murphy was an optimist.

Comment: Re:First contact? (Score 1) 90

And hook up a TV and big speakers to isolate the signal. Then once we decode it, we can transport a volunteer to the alien planet. Though, we should build two, just in case a religious terrorist blows one up. If we do this carefully, with Small moves, it's possible. Small moves.

If you're going to channel "Contact" at least use the novel instead of the movie. The novel was enormously better. Not that that says much, as the movie was awful.

+ - Unattended maintenance windows

Submitted by grahamsaa
grahamsaa (1287732) writes "Like many others in IT, I sometimes have to do server maintenance at unfortunate times. 6AM is the norm for us, but in some cases we're expected to do it as early as 2AM, which isn't exactly optimal. I understand that critical services can't be taken down during business hours, and most of our products are used 24 hours a day, but for some things it seems like it would be possible to automate maintenance (and downtime).

I have a maintenance window at about 5AM tomorrow. It's fairly simple — upgrade CentOS, remove a package, install a package, reboot. Downtime shouldn't be more than 5 minutes. While I don't think it would be wise to automate this window, I think with sufficient testing we might be able to automate future maintenance windows so I or someone else can sleep in. Aside from the benefit of getting a bit more sleep, automating this kind of thing means that it can be written, reviewed and tested well in advance. Of course, if something goes horribly wrong having a live body keeping watch is probably helpful. That said, we do have people on call 24/7 and they could probably respond capably in an emergency. Have any of you tried to do something like this? What's your experience been like?"

Comment: Re:Technically, it's not a "draft notice" (Score 1) 199

The age bracket in question is, today, decidedly not non-violent. Opposition to a draft today might not take the form of "flower power" and "sit ins." More likely, it would provoke the militia movement into actual violence.

That's so cute! I bet you believe in Santa and the tooth fairy too! You are very naive, friend. Things would not go down that way, at all. Also back in the 1960s and 1970s, not all the protesting was non-violent. And even when it was non-violent, the police often were not. That certainly hasn't changed.

What's more, you'd see quite a bit of this sort of thing. I'm not sure who this "militia movement" might be, but if you think they'll spark firefights with police/military/other government folks over sending other people's kids to war, you're kidding yourself.

I suggest you educate yourself and go back on your meds.

+ - Hints of Life's Start Found in a Giant Virus->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "In the world of microbes, viruses are small — notoriously small. Pithovirus is not. The largest virus ever discovered, pithovirus is more massive than even some bacteria. Most viruses copy themselves by hijacking their host’s molecular machinery. But pithovirus is much more independent, possessing some replication machinery of its own. Pithovirus’s relatively large number of genes also differentiated it from other viruses, which are often genetically simple — the smallest have a mere four genes. Pithovirus has around 500 genes, and some are used for complex tasks such as making proteins and repairing and replicating DNA. “It was so different from what we were taught about viruses,” Abergel said.

The stunning find, first revealed in March, isn’t just expanding scientists’ notions of what a virus can be. It is reframing the debate over the origins of life."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Technically, it's not a "draft notice" (Score 1) 199

But I think that, while it's politically impossible, a really good pragmatic case could be made for starting to require Selective Service registration for everybody right now.

The only thing that should happen is for the draft to be outright banned via a constitutional amendment. It's disgusting that any country that claims to be free allows such a thing to exist.

You might want to take that up with Austria, Finland, Israel, Norway and Greece, amongst others.

Note that the US (unlike many other countries) does most emphatically not have compulsory military service. So, your call for a constitutional amendment seems rather ridiculous.

Comment: Re:Technically, it's not a "draft notice" (Score 2) 199

The Selective Service System had discontinued it during Nixon's administration but during Jimmy Carter's administration the President got the draft registration re-instated as a chest pounding measure to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

There. FTFY. As I recall, I had to register with the Selective Service System when I turned 18. There was no draft. However, the law did have some teeth, as those who did not register were deemed ineligible for Federal college financial aid programs.

Comment: Re:Generalization Fail (Score 1) 702

by NotSanguine (#47403485) Attached to: When Beliefs and Facts Collide

No, that was not the claim. The claim was simply that "scientists mostly share the same view". And when discussed in context with the article of this thread, the point is that the black and white departmentalization doesn't makes sense. In your case, you are departmentalizing the 97% as all being completely in line with each other. In reality, there is a scale, and within that 97% there are varying degrees of certainty on any of the key aspects as well as interpretation of the data. And, as with most things, the truth is somewhere in between the extremes.

Perhaps you should read my comment again. The claim is (and not my claim, either) that the conclusions (and data) of that 97% actually agree that AGW exists. Agreement about how much impact, potential (if any) action to be taken and the validity of any particular climate model or models is much more fragmentary and is, as it should be, contested, discussed and, most importantly, research along these lines continues.

I never asserted that those 97% are "completely in line with each other." I merely noted that the oft-cited study which makes such a 97% claim, only claims that 97% of climate scientists agree that AGW *exists*. I make no claims or assertions at all. I was attempting (and in your case, apparently failing) to clarify that single point.

My apologies if my grasp of English was inadequate to that task.

Comment: Re:Generalization Fail (Score 2) 702

by NotSanguine (#47395685) Attached to: When Beliefs and Facts Collide

Do you think scientists are all exactly in line on the rate of GW, the extent to which it is exacerbated by human activities, which of those activities are most impacting, to what extent we can improve the situation, and the expected impacts in the future?

No. But that's not the claim that's being made. The claim is that 97% of climate scientists agree (based on their research and the data underpinning that research) that AGW (climate change due to human impact) exists. Questions about severity, impact and potential mitigation/solutions are not included in that claim. Understand now?

"Be *excellent* to each other." -- Bill, or Ted, in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure