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Comment: My profession would be useless, hobbies useful... (Score 1) 727

by emag (#46736703) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

Frankly, as a sysadmin, it would take quite some time for my profession to be useful. However, I am not solely defined by my profession. My hobbies, such as firearms, cooking, woodworking, dabbling in a little gardening and other low tech stuff would end up much more useful, after the apocalypse. I actually enjoy unplugging and doing something that doesn't require a computer now and then.


NASA Forgets How To Talk To ICE/ISEE-3 Spacecraft 166

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the hackers-in-space-was-a-better-movie dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Randall Munroe's XKCD cartoon on the ICE/ISEE-3 spacecraft inspired me to do a little research on why Nasa can no long communicate with the International Cometary Explorer. Launched in 1978 ISEE-3 was the first spacecraft to be placed in a halo orbit at one of Earth-Sun Lagrangian points (L1). It was later (as ICE) sent to visit Comet Giacobini-Zinner and became the first spacecraft to do so by flying through a comet's tail passing the nucleus at a distance of approximately 7800 km. ICE has been in a heliocentric orbit since then, traveling just slightly faster than Earth and it's finally catching up to us from behind, and will return to Earth in August. According to Emily Lakdawalla, it's still functioning, broadcasting a carrier signal that the Deep Space Network successfully detected in 2008 and twelve of its 13 instruments were working when we last checked on its condition, sometime prior to 1999.

Can we tell the spacecraft to turn back on its thrusters and science instruments after decades of silence and perform the intricate ballet needed to send it back to where it can again monitor the Sun? Unfortunately the answer to that question appears to be no. 'The transmitters of the Deep Space Network, the hardware to send signals out to the fleet of NASA spacecraft in deep space, no longer includes the equipment needed to talk to ISEE-3. These old-fashioned transmitters were removed in 1999.' Could new transmitters be built? Yes, but it would be at a price no one is willing to spend. 'So ISEE-3 will pass by us, ready to talk with us, but in the 30 years since it departed Earth we've lost the ability to speak its language,' concludes Lakdawalla. 'I wonder if ham radio operators will be able to pick up its carrier signal — it's meaningless, I guess, but it feels like an honorable thing to do, a kind of salute to the venerable ship as it passes by.'"

Supreme Court Ruling Relaxes Warrant Requirements For Home Searches 500

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the arrest-everyone-until-someone-consents dept.
cold fjord writes with news that the Supreme Court has expanded the ability of police officers to search a home without needing a warrant, quoting the LA Times: "Police officers may enter and search a home without a warrant as long as one occupant consents, even if another resident has previously objected, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday ... The 6-3 ruling ... gives authorities more leeway to search homes without obtaining a warrant, even when there is no emergency. The majority ... said police need not take the time to get a magistrate's approval before entering a home in such cases. But dissenters ... warned that the decision would erode protections against warrantless home searches." In this case, one person objected to the search and was arrested followed by the police returning and receiving the consent of the remaining occupant.

Comment: This may not be the cheapest... (Score 1) 168

by emag (#46198117) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Distributed Online Storage For Families?

This may not be the cheapest solution, but it's what I'm planning to do...

  • Everyone acquires a NAS device (Drobo, Synology, etc) of an appropriate capacity, ideally something that can handle several TB and is expandable.
  • Fill up with 4TB drives.
  • Install BitTorrent Sync, and share out a portion of the NAS.

You can install the client on your desktop, mobile, linux, and freebsd devices, too (you'll want a supported NAS, so something linux-based or FreeNAS or such, unfortunately nothing MIPS-based.

I'm primarily planning on just dropping something (probably a Drobo 5N) off at my mom's (she & my step-dad aren't tech savvy), and setting everything up for them, including backups of their PCs to the device, sharing of photos & videos, etc. And then setting up replication of critical, irreplaceable data between their place and mine. On my side, I already have a Synology DS1813+ that I need to set up, first.

The Synology stuff also has the capability to deal with IP Cameras for monitoring (though I suspect that if you just set up a share to dump images to, you won't need a license for it). For streaming, I believe both Drobo & Synology (as well as others) have media servers, so app-enabled TVs, BluRay players, and game consoles should be able to stream appropriate movies and music as needed.

I'm thinking the NAS, my laptop (which I'll also start backups to the NAS, likely NOT shared), my VPS, and my mobile devices (phone, tablet) will all sync, as will my wife's laptop & devices.

Yes, this is probably heavily overdone, but it also avoids putting private data on systems that I don't control, and avoids the commercial cloud providers at the same time. And, not surprisingly, I play a sysadmin for my day job, so this ties in nicely with that, too.


A New Use For Drones: Traffic Scouting 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the drone-find-me-a-gas-station-and-some-donuts dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Renault's new concept car gives drivers an unusual companion: a small flying drone, controllable via tablet or preset GPS waypoints, which scans the area ahead for obstacles and traffic. The so-called 'flying companion' can exit the vehicle via a retractable hatch in the roof, and buzz around the immediate vicinity shooting video and photos; as this is a concept, actual hardware and software specs aren't available, although Renault's engineers envision something closer to the size of a small bird than some of the larger drones currently available. But how practical is a 'driving drone'? Considering all the accidents caused by people texting or Web-surfing while driving, it seems questionable to introduce a piece of hardware that could prove even more distracting—imagine trying to successfully guide a drone with touch-screen controls while navigating a fast-paced roadway, and you can see why the idea of a "flying companion" would raise the collective blood pressure of traffic-safety officials. Yes, it would be safer for a passenger to handle drone-flying duties while the driver concentrates on the road; but it's also a near-certainty, if such a concept ever went into production, that more than one driver would attempt to multi-task the navigation of two vehicles at once. Do you think this idea is feasible?"

Comment: Surprisingly relevant (Score 1) 444

by emag (#46031765) Attached to: Who Makes the Best Hard Disk Drives?

Through sheer coincidence, I started shopping for a "large" home NAS today (large to me, at least, 5-8 bays for 4 TB drives), while snowed in at home. So I've been looking a lot at drives, too. This may definitely help, especially since I do have a budget.

Of course for work, this may help even more, since I'm shopping for stuff for there during my day job. I think I'll probably specify Hitachi drives where possible for that. Oddly, most of the drives in our cluster happen to *already* be Hitachi 2 TB SATA drives.

The end of labor is to gain leisure.