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Comment Small Form Factor PC With Quad Port NICs? (Score 1) 384

Setting aside all the negativity (most of it relatively justifiable, even if absurd sounding, and most of it also relatively work-around-able):
  - Bricking all the pumps at once (I assume this is being done before/after hours, and there IS a recovery procedure)
  - Networking creating sparks that blow the place up (How is hooking up 2 cables to 2 pumps different than hooking up 1 cable to 1 pump)
  - Interrupting customers (Again, before/after business hours, or during non-peak hours, and only doing a few at a time)
  - Simultaneous hacking exposure (Connecting device doesn't have to be internet-connected, and in that case, how is connecting to one a time different than connecting to all of them)
  - Automating yourself out of a job/hourly pay (Nothing wrong with working smarter, rather than harder; applies to just about every career, even with an hourly wage) .. I'd look at something like a small form factor PC (yeah, not as convenient as a laptop) with a couple of quad port NICs.

Run your virtualization hypervisor of choice (VMware ESXi or VMware Workstation, VirtualBox, whatever), and install your vendor's preferred OS and software application as a VM. Clone it many, many times (as many times as you have NIC ports). Give each one of them a single dedicated NIC. Run cables to each pump, and start your engines (that's about as close as I can come to making a gas station pun).

It's a fairly simple solution in that it doesn't require any fancy networking knowledge (VLANs, iptables, NATting, etc), and you're using a very straightforward virtualization configuration that most vendors will agree is supportable (their preferred OS, a single network port, etc).

If you can find a way to setup a couple of quad port NICs on your laptop, you could probably use that as well. In fact, many laptops have the option of purchasing a "docking station" that often have PCIe slots. If that's the case, maybe that's all you need to make the above solution work.

I think that being able to do "4 or 8 at a time", using a solution like this one, would be a huge improvement over doing 8 or 16 of them "one at a time".

Comment We are first in some things! (Score 1) 247

“We lead the world in only 3 categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined, 25 of whom are allies."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

(Skip to 3:20 for the part I'm talking about.)

Comment All these years.. (Score 1) 93

And here I thought my solution of attaching matching pretzels to each cup, and then tying the string to the pretzels, ensured our communication was private. The only difficult part was trying to add a third party after you had already eaten the bag of pretzels, as finding a third matching pretzel at that point was sometimes quite difficult.

Comment Re:What the hell (Score 2) 168

Overall, I was quite pleased at the presentation my children's school gave to the parents that attended "technology night". Privacy concerns, including advertising data, were among the many topics discussed, and the district and school representatives who were involved in the deployment had just about all the answers we needed. In our particular case, it turns out that all of the tracking data is restricted to authorized district personnel, and can be/is destroyed on-demand (after a student leaves the school, etc).

As I'm not directly involved (just a parent of a couple of students), I can't say what has been implemented thus far, but I don't believe they're doing any AD-to-Google SSO; from what I can tell, they are managed independently. Unfortunately, I can't help in this regard.

Overall, for those concerned about privacy around student accounts, I encourage you to reach out to your school and ask for a copy of their "terms of service", both for the students using the accounts, as well as for the school/district usage of Google's services. From what I've seen of the local implementation here, I'd say they have kids' privacy (at least from an advertising perspective) at the forefront of their policies.

Comment Crossing a line.. (Score 1) 224

Honestly, I think you're crossing a line that's probably best not crossed. Becoming an employee of a company, and licensing your own IP to that same company (whether or not it was premeditated), is creating a conflict of interest. Rather than going the employee route, you should market yourself as a consultant, charge whatever fees are necessary for implementation and the associated licenses/royalties, and then move on. This doesn't offer you any long-term employment benefits, but it completely avoids the potential conflict of interest you're talking about, which if not handled extremely carefully, could haunt you for a long time to come (in the form of legal disputes over pay surrounding your IP).

My 2 cents.

Also, IANAL.

Comment To expand a bit.. (Score 1) 62

.. For those who didn't click-thru and read:

"An assessment by The UPS Store and the IT security firm revealed the presence of this malware on computer systems at 51 locations in 24 states (about 1%) of 4,470 franchised center locations throughout the United States." .. so it's not super wide-spread. Only 1% of their locations? I think it would be interesting to pick ANY national retail operation and see if malware could be found on LESS than 1% of their systems.

It also only impacts particular The UPS Store locations:

"Does this impact UPS corporate or other The UPS Store center locations?
No. Each The UPS Store location is individually-owned and runs an independent private network. The malware was isolated to those locations."

Not cool? Definitely.

The super wide-spread impact of the Target breach? No.

Disclaimer: I am a local customer of The UPS Store, but the location I frequent was not impacted.

Comment OpenOffice + MySQL (Score 3, Interesting) 281

While I never did get around to implementing it (or really needing it), I was always intrigued by the fact that the OpenOffice "Base" application can connect to a MySQL database (and has been able to for many, many years). You may want to consider investigating that, as it may provide a fairly "user friendly" and "easily supported" interface to a solid database backend.

Comment Engraving (Score 1) 250

It's been about 20 years since I did this, but back-in-the-day, I worked for a school district that hand-engraved every single piece of equipment that it purchased. I was responsible for deploying a few hundred PCs, from receiving from our vendor to physical setup and software installation. Somewhere early in the process, I had to write down a serial number, assign and put on an asset tag sticker, and then use a Dremel to "neatly" (as good as I could do at 15 years old) engrave the school district's initials into the chassis somewhere (usually the underside or rear). Looking back on it now, I probably could have saved myself a lot of headache if I had engraved every single device in a similar fashion at all of my employers since then. Yeah, removing small chunks of plastic or metal may not be the ideal solution, but it certainly is one of the more permanent solutions. I haven't looked at laser engraving, perhaps that's a bit "neater".

Now I have a sudden urge to carve my initials into my belongings..

Comment Would it not be easier.. (Score 5, Insightful) 144

Would it not be easier to just install traffic monitoring devices along roadways, and let your car's on-board navigation system interface with those? That way you don't need the traffic scouting drone, and the inherent risks that come with trying to operate one while driving.

I could see it now.. inattentive drivers/operaters causing the traffic scouting drones to collide with other traffic scouting drones, creating drone "road kill". What a mess.. No, this is a Bad Idea(TM) all around.

Comment EverQuest II (Score 1) 555

When people ask what I play, and I respond with EverQuest II and PlanetSide 2, they're always shocked to hear that the EverQuest franchise is still around. Yes, I still poke around in EverQuest II, although not nearly as much as I used to. Some of the reasons are life changes; I'm not working from home nearly as much anymore, and if I am, I'm probably babysitting one or both of my kids. Other reasons include the fact that a number of my friends and guildmates moved on to other games, or had real-life changes that prevent them from playing as much or at all. I still love the game, and here's why:
  - The Antonia Bayle server specifically has a really great community!
  - The game has so many "mini-game" options that you're never bored; you can quest, group, raid, tradeskill, decorate houses, roleplay..
  - The development staff wants EQ2 to continue to be a really great game with really great content, even at 8 years old.
  - They named it "EverQuest" for a reason.. there is still content that I haven't explored yet, and I've been playing for quite a few years now.
  - The lore behind the storylines is extremely rich, and has been developed over many years, making everything you do feel like it's a part of some grand historical adventure.

The game isn't perfect; they have made the game "easier" for people to play in all sorts of ways that have really ticked off veterans. Some of the changes I feel are for the better, but others I think were pretty stupid.

All said and done, I still love EverQuest II. I'd recommend it to someone who is looking for an MMORPG. And the best part? It's free to try out.

Comment Not a "new" problem.. (Score 4, Informative) 243

I'm quite surprised that the rest of the world is just now being made aware of this practice. I worked for two competing shopping-mall chain video game stores in the mid-to-late 90's, and both of them had policies almost identical to this. The shrink-wrap machine in the back room made the fact that an item was "checked out" very simple to conceal from the customers.

To be completely honest, I really don't care, as long as:

- The materials are sold to me in a "new" condition
- If it requires any sort of registration key, I better not ever find out it's already been registered

Without this policy in place, I'm fairly certain a lot of video game stores would simply stop having employees; it's one of the best perks of working at one. Discounts are nice, but playing for free? That's even better.

Printer

Submission + - Inkless printers to be built into digital cameras

MattSparkes writes: "A revolutionary way to print pictures without ink has been invented by a US company called Zink Imaging. The company, a spin-off of Polaroid, says it will use the technology to make hand-held printers that can be integrated into mobile phones and digital cameras. "The key to creating the devices is doing away with ink, using a new type of digital printing that changes colour of paper when heat is applied.""

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