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Comment: *USB* Ports (Score 2) 59

HDMI's not USB. The speaker jack is usually not USB. An external webcam with a bandaid over it to block it is really not much more useful than the built-in webcam with a bandaid over it.

External DVD, yes, if the laptop doesn't have one built in (my wife's ultra-portable doesn't; my work laptop does.) No, if there's a built-in, unless you really need the blu-ray burner. And yes, external hard drive sometimes (USB3 are becoming common enough these days, but there was a while you might use E-SATA instead.)

I'd prefer mouse and keyboard to connect over Bluetooth rather than USB, but most "wireless" mice and keyboards insist on using their own USB-frob to actually connect to the device, running whatever random standard or non-standard.

Comment: Re:Still Acesulfame K (yuk!) (Score 1) 492

by billstewart (#49563591) Attached to: Pepsi To Stop Using Aspartame

Sorry, you're not getting my caffeine until you pry my cold dead fingers off the coffee cup.

The other sweetener I've seen showing up in sodas lately has been stevia. I normally avoid the stuff like the plague - tastes worse to me than aspartame does, though in a rotting-organic-bad way rather than a metallic-fake way. Maybe cola flavors can mask that, though.

Comment: Still Acesulfame K (yuk!) (Score 1) 492

by billstewart (#49561629) Attached to: Pepsi To Stop Using Aspartame

Aspartame doesn't taste as bad to me as saccharin did, but it's still bad, and the soda companies usually use acesulfame K as well, which tastes far worse (but doesn't break down as quickly as aspartame.) Unfortunately, Pepsi's keeping the acesulfame K in their recipe, so it'll still taste bad.

When I want diet soda, I drink iced tea. Tastes better, and restaurants give you refills. (And if it's bad iced tea, you can add lemon and sugar.)

Comment: Dual Homing Failover and IPv6 address aggregation (Score 1) 389

by billstewart (#49543191) Attached to: Why the Journey To IPv6 Is Still the Road Less Traveled

Yeah, that turned out to be one of the big problems with IPv6 address aggregation - sounds great in the ivory tower, doesn't meet the needs of real customers, which is too bad, because every company that wants their own AS and routable address block is demanding a resource from every backbone router in the world.

IPv6's solution to the problem was to allow interfaces to have multiple IPv6 addresses, so you'd have advertise address 2001:AAAA:xyzw:: on Carrier A and 2001:BBBB:abcd:: on Carrier B, both of which can reach your premises routers and firewalls, and if a backhoe or router failure takes out your access to Carrier A, people can still reach your Carrier B address. Except, well, your DNS server needs to update pretty much instantly, and browsers often cache DNS results for a day or more, so half your users won't be able to reach your website, and address aggregation means that you didn't get your own BGP AS to announce route changes with, but hey, your outgoing traffic will still be fine.

My back-of-a-napkin solution to this a few years ago was that there's an obvious business model for a few ISP to conspire to jointly provide dual-homing. For instance, if you've got up to 256 carriers, 00 through FF, each pair aa and bb can use BGP to advertise a block 2222:aabb:/32 to the world, and have customer 2222:aabb:xyzw::/48, so the global BGP tables get 32K routes for the pairs of ISPs, and each pair of ISPs shares another up-to-64K routes with each other using either iBGP or other local routing protocols to deal with their customers actual dual homing. (Obviously you can vary the number of ISPs, size of the dual-homed blocks, amount of prefix for this application (since :2222: may be too long, etc.)

Comment: IPv6: Longer addresses + magic vaporware (Score 1) 389

by billstewart (#49543107) Attached to: Why the Journey To IPv6 Is Still the Road Less Traveled

IPv6 was originally supposed to solve a whole lot of problems - not only did it have longer addresses (which ISPs need to avoid having to deploy customers on NAT, and in general to avoid running out of address spaces and crashing into the "Here Be Dragons" sign at the edge), but it was also supposed to solve a whole lot of other problems, like route aggregation, security, multihoming, automatic addressing, etc.

A lot of that turned out to be wishful thinking, e.g. the hard part about IPSEC tunnels is the key exchange and authentication, not building the tunnels, route aggregation didn't really work out because enterprises weren't willing to use carrier addresses instead of their own, and small carriers also wanted their own addresses instead of sharing their upstream's address space, or if it wasn't wishful thinking, it was addressing problems that IPv4 found other solutions for, like DHCP for automatic addressing.

And while NAT is a hopeless botch, it does provide a simple-minded stateful firewall as default behaviour, while IPv6 users need explicit firewalling to get the same security with real addresses (which they needed to do anyway, but especially if you're using tunnels, you have to be sure to put it in all the right places.

Comment: Future: IPv4 via NAT, IPv6 Native (Score 1) 389

by billstewart (#49543037) Attached to: Why the Journey To IPv6 Is Still the Road Less Traveled

Back when I was closer to the ISP business, the general plan of most consumer ISPs was to start supporting IPv6 (once they had all their hardware and operations support systems able to manage it - it's amazing how many moving parts there are), and migrate most users to dual-stack, with NAT for IPv4 plus native IPv6, or else to use NAT IPv4 with tunneled IPv6.

Comment: Comcast was ahead of many US ISPs on IPv6 (Score 1) 389

by billstewart (#49542999) Attached to: Why the Journey To IPv6 Is Still the Road Less Traveled

Comcast may have lots of other issues as an ISP, such as banning customers from running server at home, and monthly usage caps (if they still do that), but they were ahead of most other US consumer ISPs on taking IPv6 seriously.

(My ISP supports IPv6 over tunnels, but doesn't run native dual-stack, at least on telco DSL. And I really should get around to actually trying it out, but I haven't...)

Comment: Re:Yes, Old SATA SSD, not Rotating Disk (Score 1) 160

by billstewart (#49542969) Attached to: New PCIe SSDs Load Games, Apps As Fast As Old SATA Drives

Anonymous Coward was asking if the "old SATA drives" referred to old SSD drives that use SATA (which wouldn't be too surprising if it were almost as fast), or old rotating hard disks that use SATA (which would be really surprising to find it faster than SSD.) Google results for the X25-m say yes, it's an SSD, just a bit older one that uses SATA instead of PCIe.

Comment: ROI depends on investment as well as return (Score 1) 139

by billstewart (#49384253) Attached to: IT Jobs With the Best (and Worst) ROI

The original material talked about salaries and job titles; it didn't say how much investment it took to develop the skills to get those titles. Some of those skills are things you can add quickly; others take a long time or access to appropriate work environments. (For instance, learning PHP is quick, and Ruby on Rails isn't that hard either. But while you can learn SQL and MySQL pretty quickly, becoming a DBA really needs access to real-world databases and workloads that you're involved in administering.)

Comment: Radio Shack Closing Around Them (Score 1) 92

by billstewart (#49368043) Attached to: Arduino Dispute Reaches Out To Distributors

I started playing with Arduinos a couple of years ago. You ordered them by mail order at the time. Eventually Radio Shack started carrying them, which made it easier for anybody to pick one up (and while I live in Silicon Valley, if I needed a few resistors or LEDs or simple components to go with them, it was often easier to stop at Radio Shack than Fry's or mailorder.) Now they're fighting over the name, and Radio Shack is going out of business.

Comment: Booth Babes never made sense at RSA (Score 3, Informative) 326

by billstewart (#49351139) Attached to: RSA Conference Bans "Booth Babes"

They were a really clear indicator that the occasional companies that hired them seriously didn't understand their audience, and hadn't brought anybody who knew anything technical to their booth, probably not even any marketing people who understood the product, so you could pretty much skip them, because they were pretty much always useless as well as unprofessional.

On the other hand, you can totally bribe us with chocolate or especially coffee, and we might sit through your silly magician act for a raffle ticket for an iThing as long as there was technical content at your booth, and we'll pick up blinky tchotchkes with your logo on them. The woman I'd rather talk to at your booth is the one who developed the cool product, or can explain it well.

When my company's been at trade shows in the area, about half their staff are booth-running professionals, rather than product-related, from the people who set the thing up and make sure all the marketing content is there to the people who herd customers in, figure out what they're interested in (even if it's just at the buzzword level), bring them over to the right part of the booth or find the right person if they need to, scan your contact info, get the speakers on and off the stage, etc., and about half are either main-office or local people who know something about whatever we're trying to sell. They seem to do a good job on the mechanics of it (I've occasionally ended up as local booth staff), and they're seriously good at respecting the audience.

Comment: Never happened. (Score 1) 54

Never did - here's the Wikipedia about the Indiana Pi Bill. The crackpot proposed a bill that would acknowledge his collection of R33lY k3wl mathematical discoveries and let Indiana schools teach them free (in return for royalties from other user, if I'm reading it right), it snuck past the Indiana House, and a Professor Waldo told the Indiana Senate how bogus it was. It was close to passing there anyway, but one senator pointed out that it's not the Senate's job to establish mathematical truth. And now you know Where Waldo Was.

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