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Comment: Re:This is why you need.. (Score 1) 258

by mlts (#47432941) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Unattended Maintenance Windows?

There is also the fact that some failure modes will take both sides down. I've seen disk controllers overwrite shared LUNs, hosing both sides of the HA cluster (which is why I try to at least quiesce the DB or application so RTO/RPO in case of that failure mode is acceptable.)

HA can also be located on different points on the stack. For example, an Oracle DB server. It can be clustered on the Oracle application level (active/active or active/passive), or it can be sitting in a VMWare instance, clustered using vSphere HA, where the DB itself thinks it is a single instance, but in reality, it is sitting active/passive on two boxes.

Even if the backup stays up, failing back can be an issue. I've seen HA systems where it will happily drop to the backup node... but failing back to the primary can require a lot of downtime. For active/active setups, it can require a performance hit for resyncing.

Comment: Re:I've toyed with this concept.. (Score 3, Insightful) 258

by mlts (#47432809) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Unattended Maintenance Windows?

Even on fairly simple things (yum updates from mirrors, AIX PTFs, Solaris patches, or Windows patches released from WSUS), I like babysitting the job.

There is a lot that can happen. A backup can fail, then the update can fail. Something relatively simple can go ka-boom. A kernel update doesn't "take" and the box falls back to the wrong kernel.

Even something stupid as having a bootable CD in the drive and the server deciding it wants to run the OS from that rather than from the FCA or onboard drives. Being physically there so one can rectify that mistake is a lot easier when planned as opposed to having to get up and drive to work at a moment's notice... and by that time, someone else likely has discovered it and is sending scathing E-mails to you, CC:5 tiers of management.

Comment: Re:No. (Score 1) 490

For gaming, things have been "good enough" going on almost a decade.

For true studio work, I've not checked recently, but I think M Audio has a PCI interface card for a few C-Notes. I think things have shifted to AI (audio interface) cards anyway, as opposed to discrete sound cards like SoundBlaster successors.

However, I wouldn't say SBs are pointless... for retro gaming, some games have better sounding music coming from the "primitive" FM synthesis at that time.

Comment: Re:Kids mix fine with LED's (Score 1) 242

by mlts (#47416793) Attached to: My most recent energy-saving bulbs last ...

I also went to CFLs because of the energy savings. However, I'd get a few years life out of them.

However, I switched to LED bulbs virtually everywhere. Their energy savings is not that much better than CFLs... but there is far less of a mess when a LED bulb hits the floor than an unprotected CFL. So far, I've not had any of my LED bulbs burn out, even with daily use, some on dimmer switches.

I know there is a cost premium, but between the longer life (barring an overvoltage, which will fry LEDs quickly) and the fact that physical damage won't result in a mini Superfund site, they seem to be worth the cost.

Comment: Re:No airgap? (Score 2) 86

by mlts (#47360667) Attached to: Western Energy Companies Under Sabotage Threat

Worst case, replace the keyboard with something like the Optimus Maximus keyboard with the keys changing characters every time a password is asked.

What really is needed are what we had before everything got linked to the Internet. We need separate networks. Examples of this would be SIPRnet, NIPRNet, and GRU's equivalents.

Yes, this network can be hacked, but it adds an additional barrier -- one has to hack the network (which likely will be designed with this in mind from the ground up), forge access as a trusted machine (tough, due to machines having their own public keys), then try to attack the targets themselves.

I wonder why this isn't done. I would think a "BIPRNet" would be obvious since it gets sensitive traffic and things like wide-open SCADA systems completely off the Internet, but still allows remote access and management.

Comment: Re:What logic! (Score 3, Interesting) 139

by mlts (#47335345) Attached to: Norway Scraps Online Voting

Another problem with electronic voting is the complexity. Paper ballots are simple. A mark or a hole punched through some wood pulp.

With electronic voting, there are so many vulnerabilities. From voting machines that will change one's vote to Kodos before it even gets registered on the machine, to votes being switched in transit, there are no real ways to actually protect that info from a determined, well-heeled intruder. Paper trails are still forgable, but we have had thousands of years dealing with paper, and it requires a definite physical presence to alter results.

This isn't to say it cannot be done, but it would require a cryptographic infrastructure from a dedicated smart card that the voter has, to cryptography at every link (so votes added/subtracted from a county would be detected)... and all this assuming the hardware maker didn't add their backdoors.

Maybe NYC is right... time to go back to mechanical voting machines or at least pen and pencil.

Comment: Re:waste of time (Score 1) 380

by mlts (#47326983) Attached to: New Chemical Process Could Make Ammonia a Practical Car Fuel

Supercap technology is one of those that addresses it. Yes, it takes a lot of amperes, but instead of feeding a battery a constant voltage/amperage and nursing it along with its chemical reactions, while watching its SoC and temperature level, a supercap can be charged quite quickly, since the charge is a physical process (electrons stashed at one end of the dielectric.)

Of course, the problem is that batteries have such a relatively low energy density per volume. Get battery energy within an order of magnitude of diesel or gasoline, and this revolutionizes things. Ineffecient diesel and gasoline engines that have a sizable chunk of their energy spat out the tailpipe now get replaced by vastly more efficient electric motors. Noxious fuels get replaced by whatever electrical source is usable in a region, be it geothermal, wind, solar, or others. Petroleum can be used for its most important use -- making plastics, rather than just turned into carbon dioxide.

Comment: Re:try it in a VM? (Score 4, Interesting) 176

by mlts (#47326897) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is It Feasible To Revive an Old Linux PC Setup?

I have a machine of a similar vintage running an age-old copy of RHEL. I keep it, but the chances of me firing it up are slim to none, because I can fire up VMWare Workstation with an older OS release. Plus, even if the hardware is rock stable, it uses more energy than a modern computer and OS. Running a VM from a SATA SSD consumes a lot less power than an older 3.5" IDE HDD which might have at most 128 or so gigs.

It is fun to fire up old hardware, but other than having the right stuff to play a game (DOSBox is good, but some older MS-DOS games won't work correctly unless they are on bare metal, and don't sound "right" unless they are played on an antediluvian FM-synthesis sound card), there isn't much of a point to it.

Comment: Re:so true (Score 1) 279

by mlts (#47317439) Attached to: Why Software Builds Fail

Of course, said code module can change, so even if your deps are right now... it might be that the black box code library that does some essential functions might not work the same after it gets updated. In some ways, this is easy to find (if you do a library upgrade and things break, with no other changes.) However, if there are other confounding variables, this might be a fairly difficult task.

Comment: Re:Because I'm lazy (Score 3, Interesting) 279

by mlts (#47317381) Attached to: Why Software Builds Fail

When in CS, I had a prof that had one rule that for release (not beta/alpha/dev) code, if the code had even a single warning, it was unshippable unless there was an extremely good reason (which would be part of the README) of why it happened. Yes, this was a PITA, but he was trying to teach something that seems to have been lost.

Comment: Re:Thanks for pointing out the "briefly" part. (Score 3, Interesting) 461

by mlts (#47316627) Attached to: Half of Germany's Power Supplied By Solar, Briefly

It verges on astounding. I've read for years that Germany has ceded sovereign control of its land to Russia for natural gas, and that German citizens would freeze by the tens of thousands if Putin turned off the taps. However, Germany is still going strong and doesn't have brownouts or rolling blackouts as naysayers have been saying would be a certainty.

This doesn't mean nuclear power is bad. The ideal would be to work on the latest generation plants, maybe even thorium plants. However, due to NIMBY syndrome and fearmongering, any advances in nuclear power are swept under the rug, while anything that might happen bad with 50-60 year old plants that (by moratoriums in place) cannot be upgraded/replaced will be blasted on the front pages of any periodical or website.

I do agree about storage. I'm hoping Germany is a frontline player when it comes to higher energy density per volume and weight when it comes to batteries. If a battery is made that even comes within an order of magnitude of gasoline or diesel's energy by volume, this would fundamentally change transportation as we know it.

Comment: Re:I really don't care (Score 1) 208

by mlts (#47309785) Attached to: The Simultaneous Rise and Decline of <em>Battlefield</em>

I would love a spiritual successor to NWN, or a NWN-like RPG that one can fairly easily build player-written modules and other content, with characters that can persist between modules.

This was the nice thing about NWN1 and NWN2. Both had long tails, and had not just single player campaigns, but player-written content that was just as good if not better, as well as persistent worlds which has the long-lost roleplay feel of MUDs gone by.

So far, I've dropped a little bit of cash on a failed Kickstarter, but there just isn't anything in this genre [1]. I would love a spiritual successor to NWN.

[1]: I'm not meaning F2P MMOs like Neverwinter, but a game that focuses on the RPG aspect as well as the player creation tools, as opposed to just buying the latest DLC.

Comment: Re:Ocean garbage patches? (Score 3, Interesting) 139

by mlts (#47283857) Attached to: Continuous System For Converting Waste Plastics Into Crude Oil

Expanding on that, the US Navy (and I'm sure other nation's ship fleets) have excellent nuclear reactors. Even with current technology, thermal depolymerization wouldn't be that hard to do, especially near the Pacific Gyre with the large amount of floating waste available there. Then said ship either stays put, transferring the recovered crude to another vessel, or returns to harbor with useful resources.

Comment: Re:Document escrow is not new. (Score 1) 208

by mlts (#47275009) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Bequeath Sensitive Information?

I do a similar version of this. I have a few document escrow services and a couple friends that have pieces of my master keys. It is a system that requires "x out of y" pieces to re-assemble the keys, so if one person is out, the key can still be recovered.

I have a couple symmetric keys and a private key. That way, if RSA or ECC get broken, the core data is still protected until all the escrow places plop down their segment of the keys.

To be safe, the key part and the SSSS (Shamir's Secret Sharing Scheme) utility is not just stored on an archival grade DVD and a USB flash drive, but also UUencoded and printed out (with a QuickPAR recovery record just in case.)

"No problem is so formidable that you can't walk away from it." -- C. Schulz