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Comment: Re:Hardware requirements (Score 2) 641

by buysse (#46698971) Attached to: Meet the Diehards Who Refuse To Move On From Windows XP

That's why (if they're smart) there are three spare ISA cards on the shelf, or more, preferably already installed in identical machines.

I work with a group that has ISA-based cards for research data acquisition (EEG variant, if I remember correctly) with a study that's been running for 20+ years on the same subjects. They can't swap the hardware, because the output data wouldn't be directly comparable -- newer equipment is "better", but in terms of continuity for the research, they need the same, not better. There's a stack of old 286 or 386 machines in the basement, and we run a Netware server (since they were originally tested with the DOS Netware clients over IPX, we continue to use it) to get the data from those DOS boxes to something vaguely modern over NFS.

ISA also had the oddity that the clock speed for the bus wasn't fixed. It's variable based on CPU speed on the original systems, the last machines shipping with ISA would lock it at 8Mhz or so (i.e., a 1/4 multiplier on a 33Mhz bus CPU, like a 486DX2/66).

They've considered it. And they're probably terrified of that happening -- it's either going to mean the end of a research project, or a multi-million dollar expense along with a major disruption in work. If it was less dire than that, they probably would have already replaced it.

Comment: Re:Something that gets me... (Score 1) 93

by solios (#44373335) Attached to: New Shrew Has Spine of Steel

This would be why I snort derisively at rapture-like interpretations of The Singularity - evolution is an endless process of optimization, not a directed A to B to C progression. Animals that haven't evolved in millennia - sharks, for example - aren't "Evolutionary dead ends," they are in fact optimized for survival in their habitats.

Comment: Here's my picks... (Score 0) 321

by solios (#42400805) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Was Your Favorite Web Comic of 2012?

1. Best overall - Menage a 3.

2. Funniest - Sam and Fuzzy.

3. Best art - Massively subjective, I'll go with Supernormal Step.

4. Most relevant to me - Why, my own of course! Among The Chosen. Finished two chapters of Dead City Radio, produced a prequel, and got series production heading forward again after four years going back and sideways.

Comment: Not Searchable. (Score 5, Insightful) 171

by solios (#39536037) Attached to: Software-Defined Radio For $11

Time isn't the issue for me. The issue for me is the fact that video "tutorials" feature voices that frequently grate on my nerves. Worse, the video tutorial cannot be quickly searched for the relevant information.

Seriously. I can find out if a text tutorial is relevant to the issue at hand in seconds. With video tutorials, I've typically closed the tab before the "host" finishes talking about how great he is, how great the software is, and what the tutorial is going to cover.

Comment: Weird neighborhood for a museum. (Score 3, Insightful) 54

by solios (#39240927) Attached to: Museum of Engineered Organisms Opens In Pittsburgh

Garfield isn't exactly gentrified - in the 4900 block of Penn Avenue this place is a good distance from the Carnegie Science Center (north shore) or Natural History / Museum of Art in Oakland.

Out of the way of casual tourism, a couple of blocks from Garfield Artworks and two doors down from a really good Vietnamese restaurant.

Comment: Re:Reflections (Score 1) 960

by buysse (#38234810) Attached to: Why Everyone Hates the IT Department

Way late to answer, but you'll probably be notified.

Typical consumer drives are intended for relatively low-heat, low-vibration environments. The firmware on the drives is typically optimized for desktop access patterns, and will automatically slow or stop the motor to save power. The drive assembly itself is quite a bit different -- lower quality bearings, less isolation on the heads (protection from vibration). Datacenters are hot, noisy, and vibrate badly. Consumer drives fail in that environment at a lot higher rate.

Firmware is typically optimized very differently, for different access patterns, power usage, etc.

The same model consumer drive, over different revisions, may have different capacities. In a RAID-1 config, if the replacement drive, or the drive you buy to create the mirror, is a few hundred sectors smaller, there's no joy and no mirror. If I remember correctly, some consumer-targeted RAID controllers actually reserve a bit of the disk and don't present it to try to protect against that particular problem. I ran in to that a lot in the past, not as much recently, but it still happens. Hell, back in the mid-90s I had that happen with enterprise SCSI drives that weren't vetted through a vendor that pushed it -- same model of the Barracuda from a random cheap-ass vendor (Dirt Cheap Drives, if I remember correctly), different capacities. Ruined my bloody weekend.

Going outside the facts, and moving to the artificial reality of vendor contracts, HP or Oracle may well respond that they won't support something until you pull the consumer-grade shit out of the machine.

Now, after all of that -- I do use consumer drives in servers when it's worth it, and when I can afford the risk. My backup media servers (Netbackup) are Sun x4500s with 48 internal disks -- those disks have been swapped with cheap-ass WD 2TBs and have close to 100TB of available space. The disk is managed by ZFS with single-parity RAIDZ and is used for staging backups before pushing to tape to move offsite (weekly/monthly), and duplicated storage of short-term backups (daily).

I'll use it for scratch space, and I'll use it when I can afford to lose it (or at least lose access until I rebuild and restore). If there's data I care about on there, it's typically using ZFS so that block-level checksums are done and I'll at least know that the data is bad without silent corruption.

I've got shit to work with for budget (public higher education), and the cheapest reasonable "enterprise-like" disk I can get runs us about $400/TB usable -- Dell MD3200 SAS-connected array with dual controllers (four hosts redundant, 8 non-redundant, and it's really an OEM LSI Engenio (sp)). Best I can do for disk on the SAN is more like $600 (Nexsan, Dell/LSI MD32xx), and those prices aren't for a single TB purchase. Most SAN-connected disk is still in the $1000/TB range and higher. I'm counting these prices including support (NBD response, usually) for three years or so. The other constraint is that I want the vendor to exist in a few years and have some track record, and I need to be able to get it past purchasing, which usually means state-or-U-level contract -- I've had to support some random shit bought from HPC vendors, usually OEM'd Infortrend or similar, and don't want to deal with that shit ever again.

It's all about the application and level of risk that's acceptable for that app/system. I'll never stick shit disk on a SAN to use with a VMware cluster, but I will happily throw a pair of cheap disks in a standalone ESX server that's running developer VMs or testing. Prod systems need to be expensive shit, sadly, to avoid giving the vendor an excuse (I'm looking at you, Oracle).

The speed increase matters once in a great while too -- more RAM is usually more effective, and cheaper.

"Lead us in a few words of silent prayer." -- Bill Peterson, former Houston Oiler football coach