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Comment: Re:Toner? In a capital budget? (Score 2) 146

by ka8zrt (#44148415) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: IT Spending In Engineering?

Not just that... different companies/universities work differently from others. For some universities, things like toner for those printers, servers, etc would come out at departmental/college level, with no real traceback to who is using what. If the prince professor of the department wants five servers and you are forced to take them out of your budget, server pool, etc. instead him or his team having to budget for them, chances are your boss is going to drop the pain on your shoulders as opposed to leave that prince professor screaming about how his vision is being thwarted. At others, the prince professor, like everyone else, submits budgets from which said items would come. Sure, it may just be a single line item by the time it reaches his boss or his boss's boss, but when that prince professor has spent $4000 on toner cartridges and either has to beg for more, or figure out where in his internal budget his next toner cartridges will be purchased...

Of course, right along with this is the stupidity of "if you don't spend it, you loose it next year" is pure southbound ejecta from a northbound male bovine. If partway through a year I realize that large expense will be needed next year, and I cut back on expenses somehow during the remainder of that year (maybe by using mass transit and staying at a much less expensive hotel instead of getting a room at the hotel where a conference is being held which was in my budget originally), I should not be penalized. But sadly, way too many universities, governmental agencies, etc. think that this should be the case.

Comment: Re:Welcome to reality (Score 5, Informative) 146

by ka8zrt (#44148281) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: IT Spending In Engineering?

Four words (which should be printed in blold letters, etc.) come to mind about similar situations
- CompuServe
- Lucent Bell Labs

While these were not IT spending per-say, in both cases, upper level management had their own inept vision of reality and agendas. The lower levels tried to get management to understand, management refused to listen, and the rest as they say is history. Sadly, folks at the upper levels of both of these were not entirely a bunch of idiots with sales, marketing, MBA or accounting folks. In the case of CompuServe, we were clearly tech heavy all the way to the top at the time. We just had management who had their own vision/plans, and could not be convinced of the fact that was was being done was wrong. In the other case, I don't remember how many of the upper level folks came from the more technical backgrounds, and how many were from backgrounds which were more in tune with the typical "business suit" mentality. But communications became more unidirectional, incorrect decisions were made, and these companies were gobbled up while many tech folks either left between the mind set in the work environment, or were later tossed overboard in management's attempts to lighten the load to keep from sinking (you don't throw those who are working on bailing out the ship overboard while you are sinking and expect to not sink).

At this point, the best course of action is to attempt to work your way up the ladder, convincing them with how your IT costs relate directly to making your company money. You don't say what sort of engineering firm, but tying those costs to directly to modeling stress/loads in an architecture engineering firm, the SQA of a software firm, etc... and then looking at options such continuing to use 3yr old (or what ever the figure is) computational systems, and tying the costs of doing so to what your firm does, listing all the pros/cons, and then presenting it up the ladder while addressing the issues raised at each level... While it does not guarantee success, but this is the way you win a battle like this. Lots of details, hard numbers, pros/cons, and facts. Periodically, each of you will be faced with making your own personal evaluations of stay/leave, but such is life. If you are lucky, you will either make it through the storm, or have a way off the ship which keeps you from swimming unexpectedly. If not, you just hope you can swim to shore or to be able to catch hold of a rope dangling off another ship. But regardless, such is life... not all ships can avoid the heavy weather, and you just hope that the ones you are on do not go down with you stuck onboard (and that those at the wheel are smart enough to take the advice of folks like you when you spot a storm off in the distance, or notice that the wind is coming at you from the wrong direction).

Good luck and may you never be faced with being on a ship where the captain refuses to point the bow off course as required by the weather you are in, and instead only listens to a navigator who continues to point you towards your next port (or worse, having to report through said navigator).

Comment: Verizon FiOS - Lumnos (Score 1) 250

by ka8zrt (#40745199) Attached to: I most recently switched ISPs ...

I had been quite happy with Verizon business class FiOS when I lived in Pittsburgh, but we just moved, and cannot get Verizon. However, I was able to get something similar (FTTH like FiOS) from an ISP which also does CoLo, and so far, I am quite happy with my service. I will say that it is definitely better than my first month with Covad (though a chunk of that was probably Ameritech), and RR business, and if I need more than 5 IP addresses, I can add more as they are needed. Not bad for central VA. :)

Comment: Re:What's the problem? (Score 1) 355

by ka8zrt (#39086443) Attached to: FOIA Request Shows Which Printer Companies Cooperated With US Government

Not so easy... There are techniques to pick out such differences between different inks. Depending on the specifics of the ink/toner, it could come down having to print the page with a full background of the tagging color (yellow), then immediately printing on the same page the desired material. But even then, if I decided to use steganographic techniques, and mask out carefully selected areas where I will later be printing that info, given a state-of-the-art lab like those that DHS, the FBI or Secret Service have, the pattern could still be detected.

Comment: Re:Most systems cannot support GigE??? (Score 1) 359

by ka8zrt (#37390794) Attached to: Why We Don't Need Gigabit Networks (Yet)

Yep. And you can have a managed 24 port 10/100/1000 switch for under $300 now, from a quick search on Newegg. Unmanaged will run you just over $100. Mind you, this is not the CPE which exists between my network and my ISP which they provided. This is one I purchased. And if you only need a few ports, the DGL-4500 wireless router from D-Link supports 4 RJ45 ports plus an uplink, all supporting GigE... and gives you 802.11N... I bought one of these back in 2008.

Comment: Most systems cannot support GigE??? (Score 2) 359

by ka8zrt (#37370976) Attached to: Why We Don't Need Gigabit Networks (Yet)

Gee... what third world country or year is the OP posting from??? My workstation, built in 2007, supports GigE and is capable of speeds nearing the theoretical limit, just as it can on a 100Mbps link. I also have several of my servers connected on the same GigE VLAN. As for 10Gig... my old employer had racks and racks of servers which we tested and found to be able to use a significant portion of a 10Gig link. Of course, these systems were using NICs which were at the time (about 2 years ago) running about $700 ea., and connected to switches running about $20K each... but when you build a super computing cluster (to which we had a dedicated 10Gbps connection to the NLR)... you don't skimp on your infrastructure.

Comment: Re:Not uncommon to seclude a dangerous kid... (Score 1) 56

by ka8zrt (#31490232) Attached to: School Putting Autistic Children in Fenced Enclosure

True... but this is not just for HFA, AS, ADHD or similar students. I have seen such a room used with NTs as well (such as teens who get out of hand). I have no problems with that sort of thing, so long as it is across the board, and not used as an easy way to seclude a student who they don't want to deal with for other reasons.

Comment: An observation from an adult with an ASD. (Score 2, Interesting) 56

by ka8zrt (#31475428) Attached to: School Putting Autistic Children in Fenced Enclosure

After having read the original article and the comments made on it, I would like to share some comments about this, coming from a perspective which probably differs from what may be 74/75ths to perhaps 149/150ths of the rest of you who are Neurotypicals (NTs). You see, I have been diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD... God... how I hate that last word), such as those who who are being put into the enclosure. However, in my case, my childhood occurred before ASDs were widely known by teachers and doctors, and for the most part, a bright but reclusive and awkward child. It was not until I was in my 40s that I was diagnosed, at which point, I could look back at my life and see where various events, behaviours and tendencies may very likely have been the result of my being on the spectrum.

1) Nowhere was the size of this area indicated, nor sufficient details about the surroundings. If it is of a significant size, OK. But even then, it has been pointed out by folks in the area that it lacked adequate shade and was in other ways lacking when compared with another playground at the school, which was apparently featured on a pamphlet of some sort.

2) When possible, kids with ASDs, whether they are low functioning and in need of 24/7 care, or so high functioning that they generally appear normal, should be treated as much the same as NTs, doing the same activities on the same playgrounds and as much as possible in the same classes. Yes, we **may** need a bit less distraction in the classroom (no covering the walls with unnecessary maps, posters, etc.), **may** have issues with bright lights, the buzzing from the lights, etc., and **may** get upset at changes such as a substitute. We **may** also be subject to being bullied. But at the same time, we **may** act up because we may be bored with what the NTs have taken days to understand while we got it in no time flat. (And grades are not a good indicator here...) The list goes on... But all this is necessary, because by doing so, we learn to socialize as best we can, and people have a chance to learn that AS vs. NT is no different than where we were born, the color of our hair, our race or anything else.

3) If you are going to fence off an area, take advantage of the fact and fence off an area for all the kids to use, not just those diagnosed with an ASD. I know of many schools where this was done for younger kids, who NT, Aspie or Autie are prone to go running off under the right conditions (such as chasing off after a ball). Indeed, the entire playground areas at schools I attended were big enough to play baseball in, if not larger.

4) As for the "dirt floor" comment... ours were a mix of asphalt, grass and dirt covered with sand, pea gravel or wood chips, to cut down on puddles and mud while allowing a chance for the kids to work off excess energy. More recently, there has been a move to use the rubber "asphalt" which is springy and more forgiving than either the hard ground or asphalt... fewer injuries from falls. And no, this is not a fancy rich area, but rather rural Appalachia, where 90% of us fed the livestock both before and after school, and were used to seeing garbage cans in the halls to capture water from leaks in the roof.

Don't get me wrong... I am not saying all children should be treated in 100% the same way. That is one of the problems with NCLB as implemented in many schools, and perhaps symptomatic of trying to teach 30+ children in a single classroom with one teacher. If a child has a speech impediment, such as saying "ch" vs. "st" but otherwise has a large vocabulary and reads and does math several grade levels higher than their peers, you should have a speech pathologist work with the impediment and give them instruction at their advanced levels when ever possible. If, however, they have problems reading or doing math, but are otherwise doing fine, give them the extra instruction they need in those areas, and otherwise they are just like any other child. Perhaps by doing so can we reclaim what once put us on the Moon, and go beyond that to possibly fix many of the ills which we are presently suffering.

Comment: Re:yes (Score 1) 1049

by ka8zrt (#30728716) Attached to: Does a Lame E-Mail Address Really Matter?

1/2 the BINGO, and I will give you the rest for free. Not only are they octal, they are the octal representation of a 36-bit number which was the user ID. The first 24-bits (which would be like the 70004 in my PPN) were a group, to which things like privileges were granted. The last 12 bits (the 3304 in mine) were a user within the group. When you entered your PPN and password to login and had authenticated, the group part of the PPN determined whether you initially went to CIS, or if you went to some more select service such as for a company (say Reuters). Then when you said something like 'GO CB', your X.25 connection through the network would be torn down to your login node (where your modem connected) and be "Yo-Yo"ed to a node for that part of the service (such as CB, which was on nodes such as 'mhadp' IIRC).

As for ls671's question... how long did it take? Each individual agent, not that long. But one day it might be an agent from San Diego and the next an agent from Boston. Then looking at things like the USENET paths, it would take even longer.

Comment: Re:yes (Score 1) 1049

by ka8zrt (#30728514) Attached to: Does a Lame E-Mail Address Really Matter?

The comma was indeed noted. I can also say with a 99.9% certainty that you are from Europe, and not a Cserve employee, given the project is in the 11K block. :) As for post AOL/WorldCom... I saw the stupidity on the wall more than 24 months before the acquisition/split, and have friends who are still working on both sides of that division, just as I have friends on both sides of the Avaya/Lucent split. But on the PPN... I have seen nobody mention what the underlying structure of the PPN is...

Now, back on the general thread... Generally, I would say that things like 'partyd00d420@foo' should not be considered. However, there are also just so many account names you can come up with on things like first initial and last name. So, then the question becomes how much can/do you deviate before you end up being considered as having a lame account ID? Here, I opted to go with my call-sign... is that lame? How about a name or nick-name which is not a typical spelling (in my case...Cinnion, which is the ancient welsh spelling for Kenyon)?

All-in-all..yes, it is a tricky matter. But at the same time, there is something to be said about getting 'tastefully creative' when you name is John Brown or Jane Smith (not the case here).

Comment: Re:Th e other half (Score 4, Interesting) 211

by ka8zrt (#30723410) Attached to: Half of All Data Centers Understaffed

-1 or more about not thinking this through though. (and not funny at all)

As someone who has until recently done research in data centers and their operations, and personally dealt with the *NIX side of *NIX vs. NT years ago, I know the reality as opposed to the half-thought-out dreams some have. Yes, *NIX makes it much simpler to manage a machine, and increase the (servers/admin) ratio, among others, but it is not a solution which scales to where one person can administer 10K servers. As you add servers and applications, that ratio will reach a limit where you have to add yet another admin (operational, network, hardware, etc.). And should that site not be willing to do so, you end up with one of those "understaffed" data centers. Where that point is reached depends on a multitude of factors, including the behaviour of those using the data center (stupid developers, hands on users or workload characteristics cause that point to be reached sooner), the applications (a bunch of database servers will likely reach it before an equivalent amount of web servers), the amount of storage on those servers, and even the individual admins and how they are organized themselves. Throw in things like buying the cheapest hardware, or buying bleeding edge hardware (say 1.5TB drives when they first come out, or 10Gb ethernet cards), and it gets even worse as you try to deal with first generation drives failing or buggy drivers.

Can two people administer 500+ servers with 1.5PB of storage? I know personally that it is possible. But to do it and keep everyone 100% happy? No. And that precludes things like having people who are hard to satisfy, having to backup all that data, running it in a non-university production environment, etc. When I left CompuServe in 1997, the numbers were far different, with IIRC 25-30 operators of varying skill levels, about 10 of us in admin positions (who were called upon by the operators when they could not handle something), and around half a dozen or so network and hardware folks. Total number of servers? Around 1200 running BSD/OS, and around another 1000 running either our proprietary OS on systems which came out of the DecSystem 20 designs, or systems running a specialized NT 3.51 load, and perhaps a total data storage of around 1.5TB. And things were simplified by things such as having dozens of machines which were identical handling application X. Of course, we also had 3 data centers, and did backups of at least one of each machine in a given group. And then there is the fact that some applications required the developers to administer the application itself.

And looking forward... There were no regular 12 hour shifts at either of these. Yes, I was on call darn near 24*365 (I got vacation time off at my latest employer, but at CSI, I was on call even during vacation, and averaged 80hrs/week at the end). But when the fecal material hit the fan, and we had unusual problems like a computer room flooding or a critical server failing... it was possible to have to put in a 24 hour shift. Such is the life of a senior systems engineer in an operations group, which is one reason I try to avoid positions like these.

Comment: Re:yes (Score 1, Interesting) 1049

by ka8zrt (#30722840) Attached to: Does a Lame E-Mail Address Really Matter?

Not a valid email address, or at least it was not when I was a part of the operations team at CompuServe, and I seriously doubt it ever was, given that we were trying to move away from the numeric IDs and were going to disallow totally numeric email addresses unless they were the one internally assigned by our systems. I helped teach Secret Service and FBI agents how to recognize these sorts of "fake" IDs.

Bonus bragging points if you can explain the true source of CSI's PPNs.

As for TFA... While folks really should not throw out folks just because they have an email address at AOL, Hotmail, GMail, etc, I am quite sure it happened. Sad, considering that sites like this were good for getting a inexpensive or free permanent email address which did not change when you changed ISPs or employers.

- Doug (one time 70004.3304@compuserve.com)

In the sciences, we are now uniquely priviledged to sit side by side with the giants on whose shoulders we stand. -- Gerald Holton

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