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Comment Virtual Machines (Score 1) 142

I have around 30 virtual machines running on a single tower server running ESXi. Solaris/x86, Windows XP, 7, server. A dozen different Linux installations. (Mostly used for software development, with a Jenkins-based continuous integration system building code across different platforms, spinning VMs up as needed).

Pretty much anything I could do with a rack of servers, I can do remotely with a bunch of VMs. I can access the console remotely, reboot, power-on, power-off virtual machines remotely. I can create a new VM and install an OS on it remotely. Add network switches, replumb the network between them. Mount or eject ISO images.

And there's stuff you can't do easily with physical servers that you can with VMs. Take a system snapshot, change something or test something, then roll back to the snapshot.

For "production" use there are a lot of tradeoffs between hardware and virtualization, but to play with or develop on it's hard to beat.

I have 8 cores, 16 gigs of RAM and a bit under 3 terabytes of disk. It cost a lot less, burns less power and makes *much* less noise than the rack of servers it replaced. You could get by with a lot less than that if you limited the number of VMs you had running concurrently.

Comment Re:noob question (Score 1) 299

Because in this context "free" sometimes means "freely available to use", sometimes it means "sorta freely available to use, but you need to mention us in your docs" and sometimes it means "impossible to use, due to proprietary license that may (or may not) allow you to link to this code at all".

Some of the more bizarrely licensed "free" code isn't even compatible with other "free" code, and they can't both be used in the same application. Or maybe they can, but you're not allowed to distribute the application. (See readline-vs-openssl for one annoying example of that).

In the world of software licensing "MIT" or "Apache" or "Artistic" means "free", "BSD" usually means "free", but "Free" almost never means "free".

Comment Re:Serious question to tablet owners (Score 1) 324

It's great for (some sorts of) casual gaming. It's a decent media player.

It's superb for traveling and conferences - it's got a good web browser and mail client. And adequate IM/IRC (which'll get a lot better come November). It makes a decent ebook reader (not quite as good as a dedicated e-ink device, but better than anything else). And it has VPN and an ssh client, so I can even tunnel in to my production servers if I have an "Oh-shit" moment - usable with the on-screen keyboard, more so with the little bluetooth one I can leave in the hotel room unless I need it. And it'll do that over wifi, or in an emergency I can pay $15 and get cellular data without needing a contract. Runs all day on a single charge. And it has all my music on it too, and streaming netflix, so I'm not stuck watching crappy hotel TV late at night.

So it's not a replacement for a laptop, or even a netbook. But it's great for being the only thing I need to carry at a conference or on a plane - and it's half the weight of even an ultralight laptop/netbook, let alone the seven pound monstrosity that is my main laptop.

And having one around - it's very nice for other things too. Checking imdb while watching TV, having docs open while I'm working without having to use up laptop screen space for them.

Comment Re:my word, (Score 1) 866

makes the UK 40% tax for income over £40k look enormous!

That's 9% state income tax _on top of_ 35% federal income tax. And there are a bunch of other taxes too. It would still be less than California income tax, which tops out at over 10% state income tax (along with sales tax of up to about 9.5%).

Around half of US residents don't actually pay any income tax (family of 4 earning $50k (£32k-ish) - or thereabouts is the threshold before you pay anything), so there's a fairly heavy income tax burden on those who pay them in order to carry the rest.

Submission + - PostgreSQL 9.0 released (postgresql.org)

greg1104 writes: "PostgreSQL 9.0 has been released today, including a pile of new features (with example usage for many). The biggest pair of features now included with the database allow near real-time asynchronous binary replication to slave nodes, along with the ability to run queries against them. Packages such as pgpool-II 3.0 have already been updated to build clusters using that feature, allowing transparent application load-balancing across multiple nodes for scaling read-heavy loads."

Comment Not really, no (Score 3, Interesting) 374

Is it a license violation to use GPL code in a Windows program that's built with Visual Studio, given the author is unlikely to provide a copy of Visual Studio on request? You cannot rebuild the application, even given the entire source code, without access to a non-GPL piece of software you don't have access to.

You might not like it. You might even think it's against the spirit of something or other. But it's not a GPL violation.

You could argue that one difference is that Visual Studio is available to anyone prepared to pay for it. I'm sure that the build environment for the device you're talking about is also available to anyone prepared to pay for it. It likely costs more than you'd want to pay, though.

Comment Re:But your U.S. prices do not include tax (Score 2, Informative) 248

I always consider sales tax in the US to be a bit of a non-issue on things like this, since (unless I'm mistaken) avoiding it is pretty trivial, by ordering online from a distributor in another state.

You're not mistaken that avoiding it is pretty trivial, but it's also probably tax fraud.

Most states require you to pay a "use tax" at the same rate as your state sales tax on anything you order from out of state and don't pay sales tax on. As with any other tax fraud you're fine until you get audited.

Comment Start with kits (Score 1) 301

Start with a kit, like these or these. See if you enjoy the practical end of putting something together. You'll need some basic tools - a soldering iron, sidecutters, solder.

If you enjoy that, then there's a bunch of different ways you can go, depending on what you're interested in. Microcontroller based systems, if you like software too, are easy enough to start working with. Or if you prefer analogue electronics, old school audio and radio, then you'll want to learn some more about the theory and practice and there are lots of good books there - I like The Art of Electronics but choose something that suits your style and covers the areas you want to start with.

But first see if you enjoy the mechanical end of putting a circuit board together.

Comment Buy insurance (Score 1) 1197

You'll want insurance. Also, you'll want insurance coverage without any break in it, ideally, or you can hit a range of problems.

There are several ways to do that. If you're really setting up on your own then you're already looking at incorporating or setting up as an LLC. As part of that, talk to a local business insurance broker about various things, including health insurance.

If you're a professional, check with your professional associations. The IEEE (which is a great organization for engineers, software or otherwise) offers group insurance to members, for example.

If your skills are individually valuable, rather than being a commodity, consider working part time for either your previous employer or a random startup. There are other advantages to doing that as you set up on your own (peers to bounce ideas off, access to resources, actual income) but group health insurance is one of them.

Don't skimp on preventative care - dental and optical in particular. If you're young and healthy and don't have kids then you can skimp on the health coverage, going for a high deductible plan and doing the risk modeling yourself - a common thing for individual insurance, which can be very expensive otherwise. But if you have kids, or are thinking about it, don't do that.

And, once you've asked slashdot, talk to your spouse. Unless (s)he is on the same page about this, as well as everything else about setting up on your own, then you're well and truly fucked, both in relationship and business terms.

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