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Comment Re:Is NASA suffering from mission creep? (Score 2, Interesting) 55

There's another important factor in the paranoia about data breaches and risk that's often VERY overlooked.

As part of the chain of responsibility, the CIO community (the individual CIOs at the 11 NASA centers, and the federal CIOs in general) are very risk-averse. Why might that be? Well, in addition to the normal slamming your agency has to endure if there's a data/privacy breach, the CIOs and decision makers may also be civilly or criminally liable for negligence if it can be shown that they were permitting workplace practices that went against federal regulations. A few CIOs that I know are actually carrying personal liability insurance (out of their own pockets) to cover themselves in case such accusations are leveled.

Now, imagine you're the person tasked with pushing the envelope technologically (Hey, it's what NASA does) but the only thing your bosses ever remind you of is that it's your ass on the line if anything is ever breached, inappropriately stored or transmitted, etc -- and that fines and jail time aren't out of the question. That's enough to make someone pretty risk-averse!

Comment Re:Is NASA suffering from mission creep? (Score 2, Informative) 55

To follow up on this (Disclaimer: I am a NASA employee), NASA and other federal agencies are prohibited by policy and law from transmitting or storing many of our data types on non-government owned hardware and networks. (Transmitting of course can be done if it's tightly encrypted). Processing our data on private servers is strictly prohibited in many cases.

The most frequently cited laws and policies which dictate this are FISMA and OMB M-06-16, but there are many others. Employees are even prohibited from doing team collaboration with things like Google Docs, because information which is not yet deemed to be sensitive (say, an immature design for a propulsion system) might become very sensitive, and once it's "out" it is out for good.

Like it or not, there's a lot of other countries with developing missile programs, communications programs and many other technologies which have dual civilian and military use, and NASA is charged by congress with keeping technology that may have military applications out of foreign hands.

If Nebula is able to perform as well as clouds such as EC2 and the like, and allow NASA and other federal agencies to do cloud style processing within the government sector, it could save HUGE amounts of taxpayer money that's otherwise legally obligated to be "Wasted".

Comment Re:Well, then... (Score 1) 735

I'm an IT Security guy, and am part of a union. Our parent organization is the IFPTE -- International Federation of Professional Trade Engineers. I'm sure you could contact them about unionization at your workplace if you think you need to organize.

Comment Soekris Net55501 + m0n0wall (Score 1) 376

I've had fantastic luck with m0n0wall on a Soekris Net5501 box - The hardware was basically built for routing, switching and firewalling and m0n0wall is a great distribution.

Hit for info on the products. (I have no financial connection whatsoever, just a satisfied customer)

Comment Re:You can't teach people who don't want to learn (Score 2, Insightful) 932

Sounds like you both enjoy poking fun at each other and bickering about inconsequential things. Assuming this doesn't rise to the level of genuine arguments (like couch guy below) I say it sounds like a normal and healthy relationship. Just thought you might appreciate the thought after all the other comments soon to follow.

(5 year wedding anniversary 2 weeks ago, goin' on 9 years together, bicker like it's been 80)

Comment Re:Good (Score 1) 551

This whole "iPhones are an ungodly sum" meme is getting old. Have you priced out a smartphone vs an iphone lately?

My iPhone w/ 3G service is costing me $50/month LESS than a Palm Treo 755 w/ Verizon that I just gave up to make the switch. Same minutes, same texts, MMS is no skin off my teeth since the data unlimited gives me twitter/facebook to send photos instead.

Comment Re:You know why Amazon charges that much? (Score 1) 487

Ouch! Generally we use interns and junior staff to watch over the techs on the floor. This policy stands mainly because it's not just Sun coming in to maintain Sun equipment, it's a vast range of vendors and suppliers. A/C guys to come change the A/C filters, fire guys to check the fire system, electrical guys, safety guys, structural guys for earthquale checks... you get the picture! Quite a lot of those folks are NOT at all capable of knowing not to (for example) lay a big plastic sheet across the air intake to a cooling system while they're trying to inspect the fire sprinklers.

Even our junior staff may not know the specifics of the board being replaced in the E4k by the Sun guy - but they've had datacenter care and respect driven into their skulls by the time they've been there a month, so they can keep watch.

Comment Re:You know why Amazon charges that much? (Score 1) 487

Perhaps it's moronic to have a key and highly paid staff member watching over a tech in the datacenter, but I never said we had to have it be a highly paid senior person. We generally have our interns and junior folks supervise tech staff. They're not there to supervise the tech in their area of expertise, they're there to keep watch over the tech so they STICK to that area and don't accidentally muck up the rest of the datacenter.

Comment Re:You know why Amazon charges that much? (Score 1) 487

It's not an issue of not having cameras in the datacenter (we do), but an issue of having someone right there to -prevent- the tech from doing anything stupid. "Hey, watch out, don't plug your cell phone recharger into that protected outlet" for instance. Security cameras can help you write the incident report after your outage and possibly prosecute malice, but that's not much comfort. The outage has been had, the damage has been done.

The technicians sent out by support contractors aren't familiar with the potential pitfalls of your datacenter, and often aren't even competent at anything beyond the exact task they're being sent out to do. Electrical guys repairing a UPS battery could easily decide that shutting off the power "just for a second" is an acceptable thing to do, and security cameras are no substitute for supervision.

Comment Re:You know why Amazon charges that much? (Score 1) 487

It's great having someone tell you they will be there in three hours to replace your power supply, that you then have to dedicate a staff person to be with when they go out on the shop floor because some moron in security requires it.

Not to pick apart your comments too much, but I wouldn't allow a support (sub) contractor unrestricted access to the floor of our datacenter; there's too much they can accidentally screw up and then claim it wasn't them because no one was looking. If they're given permission to be on the floor with an open rack to do maintenance, someone should be watching them. I don't think that qualifies as moronic.

Comment NANOG comments... (Score 2, Insightful) 426

There was just recently a large discussion about this topic on NANOG. The mailing list archive where the thread begins can be found here:

Gee, I wonder why Verizon would think that consumers don't need VOIP? Perhaps competition has something to do with it...

Comment Re:Ironkey also supports Linux! (Score 1) 191

It's been a while since I spoke to their techies during my product evals, but as I understand it the drivers are loading and then encrypting the USB channel between the OS and the actual IronKey. They then accept your password and pass it to the key's cryptochip, which holds the keys that were generated during initialization, and decrypts/encrypts the data as it's leaving/entering the key (on the fly).

The drivers also, of course, have to power the key generation process since you can always nuke a key and regenerate its keys.

Finally, they do make a "Personal" and "Enterprise" product in addition to the Basic. In those models you get features like a hardened, privacy-tightened Firefox (for Win*) and, most important to me, remote management of the keys for your enterprise. Those kind of advanced features do require drivers.

Comment Re:Ironkey also supports Linux! (Score 2, Informative) 191

It practically doubles the cost of the drive if you're a standalone user with no job involving computers; for me, it was very easy to go over to my officemates' desk and initialize it on his Windows machine.

Also, I did a pretty good amount of work using the IronKey inside a VM. Using VMWare Fusion in MacOSX Leopard and a Windows XP VMWare image, I was able to mount the key inside the Windows image and do an initialization successfully. One thing I did notice was that when doing so, it would always unmount my ipod from the VM, which was a bit odd.

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