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Comment Re:increasing signal to noise with business triage (Score 2) 360

This is great, and exactly what one organization I once worked for did. We had "business liaison" positions within every department, and "application owners", which were dual roles - these people were generally business users, with extra training so that they could work effectively to bridge between IT and the userbase. As part of these dual roles, they were included in the IT decisionmaking and change control process, so that they knew what was up before it happened, rather than finding out afterwards, and so that they could advocate for their department's needs ("You can't change payroll the day before we run it!" "Tuesday doesn't work because that's year end closing!")

We also filtered everything IT through the helpdesk, from change controls, to access requests, to outage notification & paging, to trouble tickets and support requests. Problems which weren't reproducible were stopped there. Things that seemed to be user education would either be handled by the helpdesk, or assigned to the appropriate business liaison to see if there really was a problem and gather more details. Remote control sessions were utilized by the helpdesk to gather screenshots. Intermittent problems were weeded out unless they recurred, in which case the previous calls were referenced to verify that this really was recurring. We leveraged our engineering and operations teams for troubleshooting when appropriate to gather logs. Only after we had concrete, conclusive details of a problem did something get passed to developers - and when we did, it was handled quickly, because we'd gathered all the information efficiently and correctly.

As a result, the developer teams were able to focus on fixing bugs, not triaging problems. The helpdesk always had ready access to all the relevant teams via phone, email, and instant messaging, and was well respected within them, because we were their filter, firewall, and front line, as well as their secretaries. (And we had the decisionmaking power as far as who got paged at 3am and who didn't!)

Comment Re:Anyone who asks this question should not be in (Score 4, Insightful) 450

I'm going to call BS partly on this. Most of the business world is using basic productivity software, probably Microsoft Office, with some users needing access to an accounting package or CRM. Thin clients aren't so much about up front cost as they are about reducing long term support costs. Using thin clients in an enterprise or small to medium business environment gives you a lot of benefits to the long term bottom line. From a security perspective, you cut the "attack surface" of your network very sharply - from dozens if not hundreds or even thousands of desktops that each need antivirus, security updates, administration, and security monitoring, down to a handful of servers that you can lock down pretty tightly. From a support perspective, you are no longer managing all those desktops, you are now managing a handful of servers. You have all the data for your organization where you can make sure backups are happening, and where you can keep tabs on what data is being stored and where it's stored, so you no longer have to worry about that file with a million customer social security numbers or credit card numbers sitting on someone's desktop, where you won't find out about it until after it walks out the door. Also, with a good setup, you ease the pain of patch days a fair bit, since you don't have to chase breakage across all those desktops, just across the app servers. You remove the expectation of user control because a thin client is clearly not a desktop (the "but I can do it at home, why can't I do it here" syndrome). These are damn good reasons to go to thin clients on the desktop, even if the up front costs are the same or even slightly more, and they apply to most desktop users. Only "high-performance" application demands, like CAD, and software development need fat desktops. Now, on the laptop side of things, internet connections in the field aren't something you can count on, even with mobile broadband and wifi penetration, it's not always there, and it's not always good enough. so thin clients aren't going to make much headway there for a long, long time.

Comment Re:tell ya why, too (Score 1) 766

I would respectfully disagree here. Desktop Linux is a moving target and will be for the foreseeable future. There are too many applications that are considered part of the operating system in the Linux world that have meaningful upgrades within that time frame, upgrades that even for a fairly basic end user are highly desirable, or even mandatory (at least to some users), such as newer browser packages. Highly technical users actually have it easier keeping on an LTS release (even though they are the least likely to do so), because they have the technical know-how to upgrade packages to versions that aren't part of the OS release (either via third-party repositories, repackaging the applications themselves, or via manual installation.) With this in mind, six months really does seem about right on the desktop, especially when you consider that for Ubuntu's regular desktop releases, there's an 18 month (N+2) support cycle in place. This gives enough time to delay upgrading or to even skip one release without losing vendor support. In practical terms, considering that upgrades generally won't happen the day of a new release, the average user will upgrade every 6-14 months - once or twice a year, and the upgrade itself is comparably painless to the processes that exist for Windows - even a major upgrade can be done in place, with the system still usable before, during, and after upgrading.

Submission + - What Does DHS Know About You? (

Sherri Davidoff writes: "Here's a real copy of an American citizen's DHS Travel Record retrieved from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol's Automated Targeting System (ATS). This was obtained through a FOIA/Privacy Act request... The document reveals that the DHS is storing the reader's:
  • Credit card number and expiration
  • IP address used to make web travel reservations
  • Hotel information and itinerary
  • Full airline itinerary, including flight numbers and seat numbers
  • Phone numbers, incl. business, home & cell
  • Every frequent flyer and hotel number associated with the subject, even ones not used for the specific reservation


Submission + - The Future of System Administration (

Matt Simmons writes: "System Administration is changing. Where once, we logged into machines to make them work, we've progressed to managing-through-programming, and we're becoming developers in addition to administrators.

This is an interesting layer of abstraction between us and the machines. I've always thought that, regardless of how far the rest of the society was from the cogs of technology, sysadmins would always need to know the underlying mechanisms of how things worked. With the current tools and trends, that's looking less and less like reality. We can automate virtual machines to be created, installed, and configured all by pressing a single button. What happened to the fun of blinkenlights?"


Submission + - Firewall Rulesets Still a Problem? (

dasButcher writes: "Security admins used to complain endlessly about the complexity of managing firewall rulesets. But those complaints have diminished as management consoles improved and the firewall has taken become less important in the grand scheme of IT security. But several new products are coming to market to audit and optimize firewall rulesets. As Larry Walsh writes in his blog (, it's not clear whether this is really a problem or the last vestige of the old perimeter firewall. So Walsh asks, "is firewall ruleset management still a problem?""
America Online

Submission + - AOL "This is Spam" link as email DoS?

alabamatoy writes: "AOL email offers its users a clickable link in each email message it delivers to them which is marked "This is Spam". Users who click on this link in an email message cause the sending SMTP server IP address to be added to some kind of AOL internal spam-source blacklist. This causes ALL subsequent email from that server to be blocked to *ALL* AOL users. For small hosting services, this can be a killer. Attempts to convince AOL to identify the user who reported the message as spam have failed (its against their internal privacy policy, they say) so the small hosting service is left with no mechanism to remedy the situation, other than repeatedly trying to convince AOL support that the site really is not a source of spam, and the problem is simply a stupid AOL user. For an entity like (for example) a recreational organization using this small hosting service, email group lists will almost always include one or more AOL users. All that's required to break email connectivity to AOL for ALL customers of the small hosting service is for one AOL user to stupidly click on "this is Spam" button, and all email to AOL grinds to a halt. Does anyone have any insight into how to resolve this problem?"

Comment multiple sound cards and braindead applications (Score 2, Interesting) 427

My chief complaint, both on Windows and Linux is that probably 99% of applications have no concept of anything other than the default sound card, making multiple cards useless for all but a few niche applications. Apps that use sound need to provide a way to specify which device is used in case the user wants to use other than the default, period. None of the solutions for audio so far have really done anything to make this better (or they make it worse in the process) - granted, it's mostly an application issue, but control of device selection in the mixer as well would help.

Comment Re:Vote Verification by Internet (Score 1) 507

This is actually very, very, very bad. The reason we have a secret ballot is to make it difficult to obtain votes by coercion. You should be able to tell for sure at the polling booth how your vote was counted - but only at the moment you are standing there should there be any possibility for a vote to be connected to an individual voter. While this seems far-fetched now, if votes were individually traceable, we'd have far greater problems of election fraud to concern ourselves with - which would include the use of violence to force people to vote a certain way.

Submission + - Apache Sends Open Letter To Sun

IIO writes: "The Java portion of the blogosphere was abuzz in the last several days over an open letter that Geir Magnusson Jr. of Apache Software Foundation sent to Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun Microsystems. At issue is the "field of use" restriction in the licensing terms of Sun's Java Compatibility Kit that Sun offers to Apache, which Apache deems "totally unacceptable." Sun's response is here. A unbiassed analysis of the dispute can be found here."

Submission + - SQL-Ledger Relicensed, Community Gagged

Ashley Gittins writes: "Users of the popular accounting package SQL-Ledger are being kept in the dark about a recent license change. Two weeks ago a new version of the software was released but along with it came the silent change of license from GPLv2 to the "SQL-Ledger Open Source License" — presumably in an effort to prevent future forks like LedgerSMB. As it turns out, the author is making deliberate attempts to prevent the community from finding out about the license change. All posts to the SQL-Ledger mailing lists asking about the license change are being censored and direct questions to the author are going unanswered. This behaviour is not a first for this particular project, and is part of the reason for the original LedgerSMB fork. So, does a project maintainer have an ethical obligation to notify his or her community of a license change? What about a legal obligation?"

Submission + - Dovecot mail server reaching 1.0.0

spinash writes: Timo Sirainen and a crew of developers announced the release of Dovecot 1.0.0. It took almost 5 years, but it's finally ready ! Dovecot is an open source IMAP and POP3 server for Linux/UNIX-like systems, written with security primarily in mind. Dovecot is an excellent choice for both small and large installations. It's fast, simple to set up, requires no special administration and it uses very little memory.

Submission + - High-tech shuttle protected by low-tech traps

Cerlyn writes: The Kennedy Space Center, where the high-tech Space Shuttle launches and can land, is actually part of a wildlife sanctuary. But in order to deal with the alligators, coyotes, wild boar, and other animals which pose a risk to the space facility, NASA takes an extremely low-tech approach.

The Miami Herald has an article on John Tanner, who has been in charge of trapping wildlife around the Kennedy space center for over 40 years. So whether you have an alligator beneath an ice machine or inside of a missile silo, Tanner's your best bet.

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