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Comment: Re:Depends on the dish (Score 2) 285

by racermd (#46574177) Attached to: I prefer my peppers ...

I'll do you one better. My mother could never eat Heinz ketchup because, to her, it was too spicy. I think it might have been the garlic or onion flavors in it. We always had Hunts in the fridge.

Until I finally moved out on my own (a few decades ago), I hadn't realized food was supposed to have so much actual flavor! My mom's cooking was clearly centered around her sensitivities. I wouldn't say my brother, father, and I suffered, per se, but I can appreciate a much wider variety of foods now that I know what they're *supposed* to taste like. Food hasn't been boring ever since.

Comment: Quite misleading (Score 1) 119

by racermd (#46545787) Attached to: Some Sites That Blue Coat Blocks Under "Pornography"

There are a number of assumptions being made about all of this.

First, it's assuming one is using BlueCoat to begin with.

Second, it's assuming that the users of BlueCoat products are using some of BlueCoat's subscription services to ease management of those devices.

Third, it's assuming that the users of BlueCoat products are not modifying the filters by hand.

I've had some hands-on experience with BlueCoat products in the past, particularly the web-filtering/proxy devices described here, and our organization was large enough to have some of our staff (including myself) manage it part-time as part of their full-time IT responsibilities. We set it up in full white-list mode so that everything not explicitly allowed was blocked by default. We could have set it up in black-list mode or even a hybrid black- and white-list mode. We did not, however, subscribe to the filtering list that BlueCoat offers. That's just one option a customer can choose.

It is unacceptable to me that such filter subscriptions should block well-meaning websites under the guise of preventing porn. But it's entirely possible to remove or even white-list those same sites, on an individual basis, by the customer even if they're included as part of the filter subscription configuration. It's lazy on the part of the staff at BlueCoat for maintaining an inaccurate list and it's lazy on the part of IT managers and staff for keeping those sites blocked if their policies didn't specifically prohibit users from accessing them. The blame can't be solely pinned on BlueCoat, but they certainly share a significant portion of it with IT staff.

Comment: A backup is just another copy (Score 1) 983

by racermd (#46472845) Attached to: How Do You Backup 20TB of Data?

I'm in a similar situation and I actually have planned for a worst-case scenario. However, my storage needs are slightly more modest at about 5TB (give or take).

My main, active archive exists on my primary desktop and is the location that will get the most changes. That, in turn, is backed up to a dedicated NAS server (currently an 8-bay Synology unit packed with 3TB disks) in my home. THAT, in turn, is backed up, off-site to a friend's NAS units of similar construction and capacity via CrashPlan. The free version offers "backup to a friend's computer" as an option, though the paid subscription offers to store data on CrashPlan's servers, instead. The cost is fairly reasonable for that option if none of your friends has enough storage for you.

One other last point - it might not make sense to back up EVERYTHING you have. Photos, critical documents, etc. (things you can't easily replace) should absolutely be backed up. Copies of game files, software installations, etc. (things that can be replaced relatively easily from the original media) should probably be left out of the backup set. That limits the amount of remote storage required as well as the time it takes to back up those items in the first place.

Comment: Re:Stop (Score 1) 349

by racermd (#46457973) Attached to: Crowdsourcing Confirms: Websites Inaccessible on Comcast

Alternatively - use one of your ISP's DNS servers, one Google DNS server, and, if possible, one other 3rd party DNS server. Assign them in any order you'd like. For me, it's OpenDNS, Google DNS, ISP DNS, in that order, as I'd prefer to get results from someone OTHER than my ISP but also not Google, if I can avoid it. They already know far too much about everything as it is. There's no sense in giving them an additional information vector.

Comment: Re:conduit in anticipation (Score 1) 336

by racermd (#45950589) Attached to: New Home Automation?

Assuming 100v/120v (as is common in the U.S. and a few other places), a 30A plug is going to be quite different than the standard 2- or 3-prong plug typically found inside the average home. Instead, they're usually the circular variety with a twist-to-lock design. They're nice for devices with high-current requirements, like air compressors and some welders. But it's probably more practical to put in more of the 20A variety so those devices with the more typical 3-prong plugs can connect.

Comment: Re:Better searches no good if they're too slow (Score 1) 274

by racermd (#45062147) Attached to: Could IBM's Watson Put Google In Jeopardy?

My point was that Google has diversified so much that ad revenue from search isn't a make/break deal for the survivability or even general health of the company. They're not going to give it up without a significant fight but, while it's also a big one, it's not their only revenue stream. Not by a long shot. They'll survive - comfortably - without the search portal if they have to.

Comment: Re:Better searches no good if they're too slow (Score 1) 274

by racermd (#45061235) Attached to: Could IBM's Watson Put Google In Jeopardy?

Good point. And this is also ignoring that the question is rather moot, anyway. Google's dominance in the search-engine game isn't as important as it once was. Their other service offerings, like GMail, Maps, etc., are FAR more important to the company that the search engine and portal. Even *if* a competitor comes along and de-thrones Google from the search space, Google has far more going on in other aspects of its business to worry about it for more than a few minutes. Watson de-throning Google in search isn't going to disrupt Google as much as the original article might suggest.

Google's main income is ad revenue in those products, including search. The users are the product being sold to advertisers. As long as Google can keep getting eyeballs on ads, no matter the service offering, their income stream is safe.

Comment: Re:Tall screens, essentially square (Score 1) 591

by racermd (#43370111) Attached to: If I could change what's "typical" about typical laptops ...

I guess you missed the class where they showed everyone the Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V commands which are probably far more common than anything the Insert key does.

That said, I use Alt-Ctrl-Ins when connected to a VM console and I need to use Alt-Ctrl-Del for any reason since that's the designated "alternate" for that combo within the VMWare window.

Comment: Some realisticlly helpful advice (Score 1) 572

by racermd (#43363257) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Protecting Home Computers From Guests?

If saying, "no," isn't an option, try these suggestions.

One option might be to set up a laptop with some sort of reversion/reimaging software. If you're into Windows, try something like DeepFreeze. This is probably the least labor-intensive option. You just need to un-freeze it, in a clean state, to do software and OS updates before re-freezing it again. The user has full control over the computer (as much as you want, anyway) and is simply reset to the pre-defined state upon reboot. The DeepFreeze software, I believe, can also leave some areas unlocked so changes there can persist through a reboot, if desired.

Another option might be to set up a laptop to PXE boot and get a read-only image to boot from. Configure all changes to be saved to local media until you decide to wipe it clean. This requires some network infrastructure to set up as well as keeping the custom boot image up-to-date.

Yet another option would be offer up an "unlocked" laptop but drop it on a "protected" VLAN with heavy internet filtering. Again, there's some network infrastructure to set up as well as some likely subscription fees for filtering software/hardware at the gateway. The bonus here is that, if you have any (now or later), kids' computers can be placed on that VLAN without too much worry on your part. It also protects the rest of your computer equipment from being attached from the inside of your LAN by a compromised device since it'll be on a totally separate "untrusted" VLAN. This isn't exclusive to the other options presented here, either, and can be used in combination.

You could also just bite the bullet and simply re-image the laptop every time someone uses it. Again, if you're into Windows, you could easily set up Windows Server with WDS and capture a customized WIM image so it'll have all the apps you want installed from the get-go. Other options exist for Linux and Mac.

One last option I can think of involves an Android tablet that can be re-imaged back to stock form easily. Samsung units are good about this with the ODIN tool and a USB connection. Just connect the device to the computer, select the appropriate image in the ODIN utility, and it's back to factory-fresh form in a matter of minutes.

Comment: Re:Remote Access to BIOS (firmware) level .... (Score 1) 418

by racermd (#43098029) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Best To Set Up a Parent's PC?

vPro only works when you've got all the supporting pieces to allow it to work. And the remote access part of it is under the AMT umbrella.

Got that K-series Core i5/i7? vPro isn't going to work. Got a Z75 chipset? Again, vPro isn't baked in and it won't work. Got a computer with an older Core2 CPU? There's an extensive list of requirements which probably were never shipped with consumer-grade computers when new (it was quite specific).

Even if we assume the computer has all the right hardware, you still need to enable and configure it in the BIOS (if it isn't enabled by default), then make sure you've got access through the router/firewall. Remember, we're assuming a relative is calling for help on their home computer.

Comment: Re:Get TeamViewer (Score 1) 418

by racermd (#43097875) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Best To Set Up a Parent's PC?

I don't normally reply to ACs but I need to here.

My reason for LogMeIn over RDP (even the Remote Assistance feature) is two-fold:

First, I get unprompted, unrequested access to the computer. The person actually requesting help doesn't need to do a thing other than make sure the computer is powered on (and, presumably, connected to the internet). They don't have to click on anything. They don't have to be walked through opening ports on the router/firewall. If the computer is powered on and connected to the internet, I can just log in and get to work on the problem. If they've got a problem impacting LogMeIn connectivity, their problem is likely severe enough to require me on-site, anyway.

Second, assuming a LogMeIn Pro account is used, there's the back-end file transfer and other management tools I can use without interfering with the user sitting at the keyboard. I can set up alerts for all sorts of behavioral problems - event log triggers, application crashes, CPU/Memory usage above a threshold for a period of time, etc. That way, I would know about problems BEFORE they called for my help.

Comment: Re:File a police complaint for littering (Score 1) 357

by racermd (#43092141) Attached to: Don't Want a Phonebook? Give Up Your Privacy

This isn't a question of not getting a regularly-scheduled life-saving $thing. This is a phone book. If someone gets opted-out by a 3rd party and they still want to get a phone book, they should get an annual mailer (that everyone gets) telling them how to get one.

Tell me the publishers of the phone books wouldn't be happy to send one from their stockpile anytime someone wanted one.

They don't need anything more than an address to NOT deliver to.

Comment: Re:Get TeamViewer (Score 2) 418

by racermd (#43083591) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Best To Set Up a Parent's PC?

RDP works great when you've got the router/firewall rules set up for it. However, it's a bit of a security risk to set it up and leave it.

TeamViewer is nice if you can get them to walk through the steps to get a connection going. Same goes for all other types of "request help" options.

I prefer the free version of LogMeIn. The agent is small and it generally stays out of the way when you're not using it. If you get a support call, you can just jump into the computer without any action on their part. If you pay to get a LogMeIn Pro account (it's not exactly cheap which discourages personal use), you can do a lot more back-end monitoring/alerting and system maintenance (file copies, remote command prompt console, event log viewer, start/stop services, etc.) without directly affecting the console session.

Comment: Re:File a police complaint for littering (Score 2) 357

by racermd (#43082337) Attached to: Don't Want a Phonebook? Give Up Your Privacy

Your address alone should be sufficient. Your name should not be required (nor any other information) since it's the address they're delivering the books to. They don't need to know who lives there (even if they already do) or what their "marketing preferences" are (even if they already do). They can send a bulk flier in the mail once per year to let you know how to get one should you want/need one.

Comment: Re:File a police complaint for littering (Score 1) 357

by racermd (#43082271) Attached to: Don't Want a Phonebook? Give Up Your Privacy

I was suggesting the sign be placed at my own front door, for instance. Or you could do so at your own front door. This isn't a public space we're talking about. It's clearly private property, beyond the reach of the typical easement. Just because you can see it from a public space doesn't mean it's a public space.

And, besides, at the very least, if they deliver a phone book to your door, that's a non-government entity - public or private - that is at least trespassing. A sign is sufficient for that to be a violation.

And, besides THAT, if the contractors delivering phone books on behalf of the company, they're representing the company, itself. There's substantial case law on such things (that I won't go digging for because I'm not too proud to admit I'm lazy). Much of that apparently depends on how much of their income is a result of that specific contract work (i.e.: whether or not they have other contracts for other companies, for instance) but, in small claims, you could easily make the case that the contractor represents the company so the company should be on the hook, not the poor shlub that needs a few extra bucks to drop a dead tree at everyone's door in a neighborhood.

The contractors are probably required by the company to deliver to every house (except the ones on their do-not-deliver-to list). But that's a contractual problem between the contractor and the company. If the contractor breaks a law because the company policy said to do it, that contractor is still breaking a law. And the company that told them to do it is likely in some hot water because the contractor is acting on behalf of the company.

I'm in my mid-30s and stopped using the phone book(s) for their intended purposes as soon as I got my first DSL connection back in late 90s. I've only ever used them since as weights or stands. The problem should be correcting itself already. It hasn't. And it's getting to the point where if I *don't* want one, I have to tell them more than my address, which should be simple enough. They're trying to turn a negative (for them) into something positive (for them). By collecting personally-identifiable information at the opt-out stage, they're able to use it for their own marketing purposes or sell it to someone else that will.

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