Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:I didn't think they called them that these days (Score 1) 164

by servant (#48833095) Attached to: The Mainframe Is Dead! Long Live the Mainframe!
If the problem is small, use a small tool.


If the problem is big... use the 'appropriate size tool'.

When I was a systems geek on mainframes, it was the dawn of the PC (pre Mac) era. There were and are problems that are better suited to big data bases with lots of computing power. Sometimes it can't be parallelized. At the time, there were mainframes with 6MByte/sec i/o channels - 24 of them, 8 4-core processors run by a single Operating System (or several, users choice). Yes they were tuned to the workload of the company. -- Getting rid of the 24 mainframes in 12 data centers around the world cost a boat load of money. It cost much more to add in the number of 'file servers', desktop PCs, workstations, additional networking(that was needed in any case), add in UPSes wherever 'data was critical', in addition to the numbers of 'trained administrators' to help install, maintain, and train the PCs even after users were trained. ... The old IT department was discarded, except for the most critical functions - printing paychecks.

The number of stories of people not backing up their PC because it was 'so reliable compared to the mainframe' and loosing years of effort, and still blaming IT even after being warned verbally and writing, was legon.

Mainframes are great. They are not all things to all people. They should be just ANOTHER tool in the tool bag of society to help get the job done.

(From the days of Beowulf clusters, PCs have been trying to figure out how to 'create a cheap mainframe'. Real mainframes are not just CPU power, they are I/O power, shared resources that can be dedicated in large or small portions to the task at hand. They never solve problems by themselves, but no computer does. It still takes systems designed, engineered, programmed, distributed, and maintained for the life cycle of the application system to make ANY computer useful no matter how large or small it is.)

Comment: Re: I'm shocked, SHOCKED! (Score 1) 190

by servant (#48795989) Attached to: Tesla vs. Car Dealers: the Lobbyist Went Down To Georgia
IMHO they should let Tesla do their thing. Dealer networks are afraid that they are not needed any more and other companies will see the 'new' paradigm could work for them too and put dealers that don't add real value out of business. GM & Ford could do it where their dealers aren't adding value and make more $$.

Comment: All apps from one screen to another... (Score 1) 421

by servant (#48738715) Attached to: What Isn't There an App For?
There was a 'system that did that' years ago. SUN had java stations that provided desktops. You plugged in your ID card and you got your desktop displayed. You un-pluged your ID card (when you got up or walked away), your session was locked, and available to be displayed anywhere else with the same ID card. You remained logged in, your display was locked. You did NO computing locally (other than driving a printer or access USB stick data), all computing was done on a shared server.


It worked. Few bought into it. You were just born a generation late! =8-D

Comment: Re:"NAS" hard drives? (Score 1) 190

If you look at the Backblaze blogs, they publish their experiences with drives. Any 'green drives' are 'short life' drives, to date. They are just now starting to look seriously at 6T drives.


Backblaze does actively monitor their drives in their pods (data server computers stacked full of drives). They tend to use FreeNAS if I remember right for their pods, due to file system does 'self healing' (think RAID 5 or more on steroids). It is good, just not perfect. And they keep multiple copies in different pods to keep down single point of failure issues.

There is more to data reliability than just drives, it is still a good place to start.

Comment: Nice start... (Score 1) 190

Tape is and will stay for the foreseeable future the best near-line storage. I like the high density disk drives, but the cost per gig to store data once you get into the multi-peta or exabyte range is huge compared to tape.


I have always wanted a data 'black hole' that I could retrieve data from. But it still isn't there. One that does automatic HSM (hierarchical storage management) so you store in on fast devices, it stays there a while, then migrates (automagically) to slower devices, and eventually to 'archival storage' that can be slow to get to.

So far I haven't found an answer I can afford (personally). -- If you know of something, please let me know! --- Think 'net to SSD, to Disk, to slow disk/nas, to tape or optical drives. Tape and optical data still needs to be read and written on occasion to stay fresh (especially tape). Tape also wares out (so do optical media after 50 or so years, tape degrades dramatically after 5). -- also need multiple copies for when one gets 'bit rot' happens.

Commercially I like IBMs Tivoli Storage Management (just because I used it), but that comes at a pretty hefty price, but it works well when set up and tuned correctly.

Comment: Sequestering Carbon with Trees (Score 1) 363

by servant (#48697301) Attached to: Trees vs. Atmospheric Carbon: A Fight That Makes Sense?
Part of the problem with trees, is we need to grow them, and once they are grown, we need to cut them down and plant new ones. To keep the wood from rotting, we need to sequester it, like bury it in old salt mines, or at least re-fill old coal pits that we want to 'reclaim'. They also need to be sealed from the general atmosphere so they don't rot or decay and turn back into free carbon available for being used even for nature made carbon based substances. ... Making useful stuff we keep around (longer than houses in the USA - 20 to 50 years) makes sense too. Burning the wood or wood products just returns the carbon to the atmosphere.


This is true for ANY organic organism, not just trees.

Comment: Sometimes, the best plans of mice or men... (Score 1) 200

by servant (#48622447) Attached to: NASA's $349 Million Empty Tower
Yes, it is a bad thing, but depending on the context of the decisions, using it might have been throwing another many millions down a 'now known to be unproductive' drain.


Possibly finding out WHY it was funded initially, and WHY it was 'mothballed' (I am guessing reduced funding) should combine to give you an answer.

Comment: Just Do It... (Score 1) 200

by servant (#48622383) Attached to: NASA's $349 Million Empty Tower
You may need to take lower paying positions, or better, start a company to use both the 'liberal' and 'STEM' skills. Is it easy? No. But if it is your passion, easy doesn't need to be part of the equation. You have the thinking skills, now it the time to use them to take your life in the direction you desire.


You might not get to work at NASA, but you can work toward your passion.

You may need some additional education, and you are taking good steps in that direction. Not gathering a lot of additional debt is also a good financial decision for now and your future.

Comment: Happening in the US too (Score 1) 602

by servant (#48543413) Attached to: UK Announces 'Google Tax'
That is what lots of 'offshoring' of US work has done here too.


Ireland and Iceland have been some of the English speaking beneficiary countries. But there are more (not necessarily English speaking as a primary language).

This is why the US is about to do something to 'repatriate capital' in giving some tax breaks to bring some $$/capital back to the US. I think I heard there is about $20T and they hope to repatriate at least $2.5T of it. - but I could have the numbers off by a large factor too

Comment: No New Computer for New Spacecraft (Score 1) 197

by servant (#48543295) Attached to: Orion Capsule Safely Recovered, Complete With 12-Year-Old Computer Guts
Equipment has a development life cycle. Even things developed with 'new' hardware, takes 3 to 6 months to be available for 'product engineers' who put in 3 to 6 months before a product is available for 'public consumption'.


More complex/sophisticated/environmentally robust equipment take much longer. Getting new avionics is a 3 to 5 years cycle. It even takes the military 3 to 10 years to get development done for earth bound hardware.

The Nuke industry/govt agencies require 'hardened' hardware, that takes about as long as getting military OK for use.

Space craft life cycle, to keep from continuously re-engineering the same system many times before the first flight is 'frozen' at a stage that seems way to early in most venues. But that is what has been found as needed to be safe and reliable. It also becomes a 'religious issue' about not touching systems once they are 'flight ready'. Many of the designs, since they are 'one off' are not designed to be upgraded, at least not hardware wise. Even software upgrades are hard due to the 'flight ready' validation process. So unless a 'mission critical' need for 'uber new' hardware/software is found, it isn't going to happen (at least not in any 'market speed' speeds). So yes, we fly 'ancient' but reliable hardware.

How to get around this? Go work for NASA, get more funding, make it a priority to fly 'less outdated' equipment. I watched John Glenn go into space on TV. I watched the first foot steps onto the moon, live. I am proud of every step we have taken.

We have had very few pay the price over the years, and part of that price of keeping the payment in lives low is flying over-tested, over-worked, over-priced, outdated hardware.

I do want to fly newer equipment, but I don't want less safety. Flying fewer manned missions, and more 'robot' missions with newer hardware is one choice, but I don't want to give up on manned exploration. (Before the haters chime in, man in this case is mankind, being inclusive, not exclusive, in gender, race, etc. I do dislike feeling like I need to include explanations whenever I use words correctly, or having to be PC otherwise.)

Comment: Re:Are they really that scared? (Score 1) 461

by servant (#48539629) Attached to: Why Elon Musk's Batteries Frighten Electric Companies
One day I was sitting by a guy on an airplane and as typical, struck up a conversation.

He worked on home fuel cells that need hydrogen to work. His unit took in natural gas, release CO2, and kept the hydrogen for use in the fuel cell.

This is how most current commercial hydrogen is generated today, making it not very efficient way to get power (and NOT 'green' because of the mass CO2 release).

With this generator you could be off grid in town if you had a natural gas (methane) supply. Still the cost of electricity is way above the cost of commercial power, or even current solar costs.

Comment: Computer Professionals are NOT computer users. (Score 1) 545

by servant (#48539511) Attached to: Should IT Professionals Be Exempt From Overtime Regulations?
Painting everyone that uses computers as computer professionals, is like saying that everyone that can provide healthcare is a doctor, from mom's with sick kids, secretaries that keep asprin in their desk, MRI operators, etc, including the 'health care professionals' from pharmacists, researchers, doctors, janitors in healthcare facilities, nurses, 'real' doctors, etc.


Time to go back to the drawing board to define what the term means, not just what is convenient.

Otherwise a 'computer professional' is asking you if you want fries and a malt with that burger just because they press a key on a 'data entry device'.

Money can't buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you're being miserable. -- C.B. Luce