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Comment Make sure the contracts meet your needs (Score 1) 227

While you can get into the 'nuts and bolts' of the solution the vendor is offering (you have not bought it yet have you ?) you can minimise some of the risks you may face by transferring them to the supplier.

Have someone perform a risk assessment on the system - and focus on the quantitative aspects (ie what the cost to the community will be if it fails). Make sure that the contract has compensatory and insurance options in excess of those amounts, so that it is in the vendors 'hip pocket' best interests to ensure it does not fail. And of course make sure that the contract has provisions for review, should the potential impacts change or the vendor changes company name, is bought out, etc :-) (yes - i've seen that happen)

You could also have someone do a thorough risk analysis of the system (google up the NIST SP800-30 document) as well as have them supply a complete inventory of hardware, software, and services they will be using to deliver the solution. Again, NIST have an online database where you can look up what vulnerabilities are known for some IT products.

Have the vendor perform a detailed risk analysis of the system - see what they think are problems, and what are not. Where you see gaps - ask them and see what color their faces turn.

Have a look around to see what failures or disasters you have seen in SCADA systems, refer those scenarios to the vendor, and ask them what technical measures they have taken to ensure that a similar act could not happen to them

You should also have your own people clarify and document their own roles and responsibilities with the system - don't assume that you have the resources on hand to manage your side of the situation responsibly - again a risk analysis will help out there.

And of course get it all in writing.

Comment But what is Ubuntu intended to be ? (Score 1) 11

I guess the answer to your question is to ask what Ubuntu is.

I'm still working out 10.04 myself, and the OSX style look and feel is probably the best hint to the direction Ubuntu is going - it's a consumer oriented environment that is based on Linux, but is heading in it's own direction.

Just like OSX is Unix with bells on it (few would admit it), and Ubuntu is a free alternative with extras added on.

Ubuntu is the Linux desktop, with the intention of making it easy for end users. The poor people who support it will just end up sweating it out as they do supporting all the other commodity OS desktop systems.

I know what you mean about the kernel compiling - I always thought that the Ubuntu goal was to technically allow you to do it, but put enough obstacles in your way that you would give up and stop trying. Any kernel work I have done recently has been on other distributions :-(

Of course a cynic would say that the changes to the system are designed to keep those people who are 'Ubuntu Certified Professionals' recertifying year after year :-) I guess it's a case of finding whatever the current Unix is. Redhat may still be close (haven't played with it seriously since RHEL4 myself).

Maybe you should look at NetBSD :-) ?

Comment Finally a tool for locating 'cheap' iPads (Score 2, Funny) 248

There have been many attempts by people to track down stocks of iPads in shops - now Apple is building a database of what iPads are where.

Considering the other attractive, valuable goods their owners may also have the value of this data to criminals will be quite high.

Of course it is safe (you can trust Apple) and their servers are secure (nobody ever hacked a Mac) and their partners can be trusted (AT&T are a good company).


Comment What about the rest of it ? (Score 4, Interesting) 64

Physical space is the least interesting point of this article. Other things would be:

What racks are they using (at least 42RU in height) ?

How do they get power into these (4 chassis, each with 6 x 15A power inlets) ?

Are they using rack top switches, or is there more equipment?

Are they using liquid cooled doors - if so whose ?

I once tried to get answers from HP on how to power their equipment at this density - they diddn't have a clue. It's worth remembering that each of these chassis has six power supplies, each rated at up to 2.2KW. Even allowing for a 2N configuration, that's a massive amount of power, and a lot of cables.

Submission + - A forgotten prediction

An anonymous reader writes: I have just watched the movie "The network" (1976)

There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those *are* the nations of the world today. ... We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. ... One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.

Why isn't this movie in modern consciousness like the novel "1984" (perpetual war justifies loss of civil rights) or possibly "Fahrenheit 451" (all off-line knowledge is treason). Are recent movies like "Gattica" and "Equilibrium" with their worrying but narrow prediction of societal break-down more valuable?

Comment Cost effective is a customer decision, not yours (Score 1) 411

Talk to your customer, and ask them if you should be keeping copies of their data.

If they don't want you to, problem solved.

If they do, ask them how badly they want to (ie $$$)

If they won't pay the costs, problem solved

If they will, again problem solved

My advice would be to cost out the price of a proper tape library - I know you said you don't want to do that, but honestly if you don't want to do it properly you are taking a huge risk by cutting corners. Tape is one of the best archival forms for storing (you've seen how many people are doing it) and to do it on disk takes more work and effort that you can probably manage. If the customers want multiple copies kept, then charge it at a sensible price and use a commercial storage firm.

It may sound strange, but if you do it properly while you are a small business, then you will have fewer problems when you become a large business. If you are trying to grow your own solution then you are effectively expanding your menu of services to scientific and storage services, or potentially risking becoming a small business that failed.


Submission + - Tight-arse vendors ??

slincolne writes: Does anyone have any interesting stories of 'tight arse' vendors who skimp on the deliverables ? Recently I've been involved in the delivery of some high end enterprise grade storage, and it's amazing what doesn't come with hardware that costs over a million dollars.

For example, one of the techs asked if we had an allen key so he could pop off a panel — of course none came with it and the previous tech brought his own tools and (naturally) took them away.

A Brocade 47k director (high five figures) needs 4 x 15A power cables — it ships with one set (the wrong ones naturally). It used to be that equipment like this came with multiple sets depending on where they were shipping, or at least you got the option to order the type you need.

They don't even bother shipping with cable ties or velcro.

Now HP used to ship torx keys with their servers (before they went tool-less) and they come with velcro and cable ties so you can rack and cable them neatly. If you buy a domestic ADSL router they come with all the cables (some even include spitters).

Whats's the problem with vendors these days — why is it that they can't get the basics right and ship a complete unit that has everything the customer needs to get them racked and lit up ?

Does anyone have any similar stories ?

Comment Lease a generator set (Score 1) 260

Lease a genset. Don't buy - lease.

Lease companies take care of the messy bits like maintenance, and you don't need to worry about the ability of the technicians - it's the companies problem.

Of course as part of this you will probably need to review the state of your existing UPS's - if they are no longer covered by the manufacturers warranty then the batteries probably need replacing by now.

Comment Re:Able to use a phone post earthquake (Score 1) 95

yeah - but let's not get to carried away about this.

This season there have been people who received these messages - about a fire that occoured 12 days previously. The carrier technology is interesting, but as the emergency services people who manage the back end systems don't update them they are not what you consider reliable.

They are making these SMS's spacially aware - they use your billing address to work out where you are located. Unfortunately the billing systems have a habit of aggregating states. Tasmania is considered part of Victoria, so you have a whole state that gets warned when a fire occours in another state separated by a large body of water and no chance of it spreading.

The Australian solution is cr*p - it's not managed properly, not targetted properly, and is already viewed as unreliable.

At present the best way to stay informed is to buy a scanning radio receiver and tune into the local voluenteer fire brigade radio channels.

Twitter has the potential to be a much better solution than SMS - once you can easily look for tweets within a geographical area of interest. Couple that with staff who are IT savvy rather than good with the hose and there is a real chance this could be quite good.

Comment That's a laugh ! (Score 1) 705

My High School did have such courses. They were mandatory, and I did attend. I was advised by the teacher to avoid keyboards as I did not have the aptitude. I've been an IT professional for the following 20+ years, and it (frankly) hasn't been an obstacle - I've coded for years, and written more than I care to remember. IT is not about typing - it's more about adaptability, analytical skills, communications, and problem solving. It would be far better if schools invested in teaching pupils more useful general skills, such as communications, problem solving, presentation skills and teamwork.

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