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Comment: As a Change Manager... (Score 5, Insightful) 284

by Pete (big-pete) (#46777571) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: System Administrator Vs Change Advisory Board

I work in Change Management for a major telco, I chair the IT CAB, and I oversee server and client patching (amongst many other changes!). When we patch clients, we are patching up to around 30,000 real and virtual desktops - when we patch servers, they also number in the thousands.

There is no way we would allow a sysadmin to patch anything at any time without some level of oversight, an individual admin has no oversight on other patches, hardware interventions, application releases, network upgrades, business campaigns, etc that may be happening on our environment at any given moment (this isn't their job to be keeping track of all of that info). For server and client patching is as light as possible, but we still maintain a close oversight.

On the Wednesday following the second Tuesday of each month (for example), I sit down with the Windows server guys and the Windows client guys, and we review their proposals to patch - usually we have a fairly rapid timescale that we can meet to ensure that the patches are deployed (including pilot testing, etc to catch any issues before everyone's desktop is broken!), sometimes there are other major interventions that overlap, and then we need to make prioritisation decisions and decide which has priority. We have made similar agreements with the Linux teams, where they have a special process to patch, and we have close oversight on Unix patches, as upgrading these servers with a reboot can be a very big deal.

The last thing you want is an application version release of a critical ordering application happening at the same time as a system software patch, and then to have an issue afterwards - is it the application version, is it the systems patch, was there some conflict with the activties being performed at the same time? Troubleshooting gets more difficult, teams point fingers at eachother, and the whole time the business is screaming blue murder.

Of course in an Incident situation there is more flexibility to get things fixed fast, and with security issues I am keen to break open the S-CAB process to expedite a rapid approval flow to ensure that security holes are fixed as fast as possible - of course most changes are encouraged to follow the rules though, the change calendar is published, and everyone knows when the "standard" slots for deployment are, and if most people manage to schedule their changes within those windows, then it minimises potential conflict for everyone.

Change management are not your enemy, they are your friend - once you register your change with them, they have your back, they will guard from other interventions clashing with you, will stop you from inadvertently upsetting the business, and will decrease change related Incidents. However, with great power comes great responsibility, and Change Management need to find the right process for the right type of change - we cannot have a full in depth investigation into every configuration change, every patch, every bug-fix, every new server to be provisioned. A good Change Management team will guide changes to the appropriate flow, and grease the wheels for certain types of interventions - it seems that the CAB mentioned in the summary are still finding their feet a little, and I am sure they will evolve over time as they start to understand which changes are high risk, and which can be allowed to pass with a lighter touch.

-- Pete.

Comment: Re:police arive within 'minutes' (Score 1) 894

by Pete (big-pete) (#45701967) Attached to: How the Lessons of Columbine Saved Lives At Arapahoe High School

Change 'hobby' to 'social drinking'. How about we take this logic and apply it to alcohol (as it relates to deaths due to drunk driving)? Any takers? If not, why not?

Well, although the UK haven't taken the extreme measure of banning alcohol, the penalties for driving or attempting to drive with excess alcohol are quite severe. The minimum penalty is a 1 year driving ban for a first offence (3 years ban if previously convicted within 10 years) and a fine of 125% of relevant weekly income (maximum £5,000), rising to a maximum of 5 years driving ban, and 6 months imprisionment (just for the driving offence, not taking into account any penalties for any other crimes committed at the time).

-- Pete.

Comment: Re: Yea (Score 3, Interesting) 218

by Pete (big-pete) (#45233461) Attached to: 87-Year-Old World War II Veteran Takes On the TSA

I do my part, as a European I actively boycott travel to the USA. There have been several opportunities for both myself and others to take trips to the USA, and I have proposed and worked with alternative plans every time. It's not a lot, but it's what I can do.

As long as the USA has insane paranoid immigration policies and the TSA I will not travel there, and neither will my immediate family. (I did go to Miami many years ago for a conference, but that was back when things were still sensible)

"Visa Waiver" my ass, that's just a visa-lite. If I need to apply to enter, they can forget it. The last countries I needed to request a visa to enter were Mauritania, Mali, and Burkina Faso, and as far as I could tell that was just a glorified way of squeezing extra cash out of visitors - and at least they didn't demand fingerprints and invasive grilling by border-guards. Mauritania border guards just wanted a small cash donation, and the others were happy with a ballpoint pen, an apple (he actually wanted sweets, but all we had was fruit) and an empty fuel-canister.

-- Pete.

Comment: Re:4 years (Score 1) 682

by Pete (big-pete) (#44990061) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Suitable Phone For a 4-Year Old?

(yes, in our household we still use wooden blocks and other toys that don't come in fancy packaging, and yes our kids can pretend that just about anything is phone, or a car, or a plane)

That's kids for you - my 1 yo daughter recently grabbed a pack of toothbrushes from the shopping trolley as we went around the supermarket, and started babbling into it as if it were a cellphone.

-- Pete.

Oh, and where the hell is the "per post" checkbox to indicate not to use the Karma Bonus? I know it used to exist, and some of my posts just aren't worthy of the +1. I don't want to turn it off on all my posts, but it's nice to sometimes preemptively mod myself down to 1.

Medicine

Fifteen Years After Autism Panic, a Plague of Measles Erupts 668

Posted by samzenpus
from the paying-the-piper dept.
DavidHumus writes "Some of the longer-term effects of the anti-vaccination movement of past decades are now evident in a dramatic increase in measles. From the article: 'A measles outbreak infected 1,219 people in southwest Wales between November 2012 and early July, compared with 105 cases in all of Wales in 2011. One of the infected was Ms. Jenkins, whose grandmother, her guardian, hadn't vaccinated her as a young child. "I was afraid of the autism," says the grandmother, Margaret Mugford, 63 years old. "It was in all the papers and on TV."'"

Comment: Re:Uhm, nope. (Score 1) 156

And if you buy AppleCare you not only get Apple warranty for three years instead of one, but free phone support on top of that.

I live in Belgium, and my first year warranty came up on Monday this week for my MacBookPro Retina. I came very close to buying AppleCare, but I baulked at the cost at the last moment (340 Euro). With this new ruling, I'm glad I gave it a miss, if it only gives me 1 additional year of coverage, and free support calls that I won't use anyway...

Having said that, I've had quite a bad run with AppleCare, I bought it for my first MacBookPro, which was then stolen 1 week after I activated the AppleCare - AppleCare doesn't help much for a stolen laptop... I then didn't buy it for my replacement MacBookPro, which developed a fault (pink areas on the screen that should be white) after about 2 years and 360 days...doh.

-- Pete.

Comment: Re:X10 (Score 1) 235

by Pete (big-pete) (#43189719) Attached to: Smartest Light Bulbs Ever, Dumbest Idea Ever?

It was once promoted with some really annoying blinking pop-up ads for the X10 wireless control system. Around 2001, X10 was the fourth most popular property on the web. You can still buy X10 gear. It works fine. Nobody cares.

Thanks to those ads back in the day X10 made it onto my "never ever buy" list. Whenever I hear about X10 (even now) those ads are the first thing that jump into my mind, and I suddenly become highly disinterested in purchasing.

-- Pete.

Comment: Re:i like to limit my DHCP scope (Score 1) 884

by Pete (big-pete) (#42964805) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Dealing With an Advanced Wi-Fi Leech?

My point is that it is *incredibly* trivial to connect to a wireless router that has DHCP enabled and just use an IP address of your choosing

I recently ran into issues at home due to relying on this. I bought a firewall for my network, and assigned it as the DHCP server, I planned to have a DHCP allocation higher in the subnet, and to have most of my devices self-allocate an IP address lower down in the subnet (so I didn't need to have a static allocation via DHCP). To my surprise the self-allocated IPs weren't working, and couldn't get an outside connection, but anything allocated via DHCP could.

It seems that my firewall by default drops anything coming from an address not assigned via DHCP (which is nice actually, as it stops the behaviour listed in the quote). So I had to reserve DHCP addresses for my "known" devices, and have them assigned that way. Once I have everything assigned, I can restrict DHCP to the range of known devices, so anything else trying to connect will need to spoof a MAC to get an IP, and runs a very strong change of colliding (hence alerting me, and disrupting the offending traffic).

-- Pete.

Comment: Fix Patents (Score 4, Insightful) 376

by Pete (big-pete) (#42808063) Attached to: Economists Argue Patent System Should Be Abolished

I have my own ideas about patents, I think there should be categories, rather than all patents being valid for the same term.

Patent duration should be related to the amount of R&D needed to develop and turn into a meaningful product, so if we absolutely have to have software patents, then they should have a duration of 1 or maybe 2 years - but a pharmacutical patent with a long development process and high costs can have the full existing term.

This would maintain the purpose of patents to allow the "inventor" to control their product within a reasonable time, but it would not stifle innovation where other new developments are trapped by a massive maze of existing patents in a fast moving field.

-- Pete.

Comment: Re:Multiple Methods (Score 1) 212

by Pete (big-pete) (#42724013) Attached to: How Do You Backup Your Data?

I have a time machine backup to an external hard-drive, I store important data additionally on a NAS with RAID-5 (the next time I buy a NAS it'll be RAID-6 with high reliability disks [URE rate of at least 10^15]), and I also upload to an online service.

I'm still toying with backing up the NAS to AWS, but I just don't have enough upstream bandwidth to make it comfortable.

-- Pete.

Comment: Re:Patent situation can be fixed easily (Score 1) 259

by Pete (big-pete) (#42713917) Attached to: How Newegg Saved Online Retail

I have my own ideas about patents, I think there should be categories, rather than all patents being valid for the same term.

Patent duration should be related to the amount of R&D needed to develop and turn into a meaningful product, so if we absolutely have to have software patents, then they should have a duration of 1 or maybe 2 years - but a pharmacutical patent with a long development process and high costs can have the full existing term.

This would maintain the purpose of patents to allow the "inventor" to control their product within a reasonable time, but it would not stifle innovation where other new developments are trapped by a massive maze of existing patents in a fast moving field.

-- Pete.

Comment: Re:An e-book is not a book. (Score 1) 465

by Pete (big-pete) (#42494001) Attached to: Death of Printed Books May Have Been Exaggerated

I am buying all my reading material as e-books where possible now - I have an iPad and a Kindle, but I only use the iPad for reading large page PDF files, the Kindle is used for novels etc.

My main irritation is when I see e-books priced more expensively than hardcover books. Sure, I understand that ebooks are taxed at full rate in the UK as opposed to a reduced rate for paper books, but on the flip side there's no printing, materials, quality control, shipping, etc which is needed with physical goods. If I try and buy an ebook and it's above the price of the printed copy, then it's off my list of things to buy for a few years until it becomes reasonably priced.

-- Pete.

Those who can, do; those who can't, simulate.

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