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Opossums Overrun Brooklyn, Fail To Eliminate Rats 343

__roo writes "In a bizarre case of life imitates the Simpsons, New York City officials introduced a population of opossums into Brooklyn parks and under the boardwalk at Coney Island, apparently convinced that the opossums would eat all of the rats in the borough and then conveniently die of starvation. Several years later, the opossums have not only failed to eliminate the rat epidemic from New York City, but they have thrived, turning into a sharp-toothed, foul-odored epidemic of their own."

Comment Great control room setup (Score 3, Interesting) 421

I used to work for a large insurance company in Chicago. The director charged with building our NOC in 2000 basically traveled throughout the country visiting other large IT organization's NOC's and took the best ideas and made them work for us - and it did resemble 24.

Take a large crescent shaped room with a 30' or more ceiling. The video wall was three different sections (this is important for separation of displays and multiple tools at the same time). The display units were high end rear projection systems that were each hooked up to computers that drove the display and were roughly 3'x5' each. Of course there's no seam or separation between the screens. Any group of screens can be used to display anything you want (1 screen, 2, 4, 6, all, etc). Pretty basic stuff nowadays, but it was great ten years ago. The left and right banks had three screens stacked on top of eachother, by either 4 or 5 wide. The center bank was 3 high by either 8 or 10 wide.

Three rows of crescent tables with low walls in front separating them, and minimal separation between workspaces - you want people in a NOC to work very closely with eachother, especially in case of an outage. Each station had two or three LCD screens mounted on articulating arms, but not to be stacked on top of eachother like those trading desks you see with 6 or 8 LCD screens at them. That would be too tall, and you couldn't look over the top to see the main video wall without standing. The room sat close to 50 people. Around the edges of the room are various cabinets, printers, personal storage for the three shifts of employees that work in the NOC, etc. Of course high end chairs are important as others have noted. Lighting is also equally important. You have to be very careful with making sure it is as close to natural lighting as possible. The lighting we used was recessed and inset so that no lightbulb shone directly out or down on the people - it made it less harsh, but still very bright in the room based on a good design. Wireless headsets are important, and also minimizing speakerphones and any other distracting noise.

Behind the rows of tables at the back of the crescent in the donut hole section if you will is an enclosed room large enough to sit 30 people comfortably with power, phones, and network connections to cover it. The walls facing the NOC are floor to ceiling glass, and it has connectivity to the videowall of the NOC so that displays from their can be sent to the meeting room as well. It has every high end normal conference room tool you could need - multiple video conferences, smartboard, integrated microphones and speakers, etc. Everything was hidden inside builtin cabinets made of high end wood. This main room is the situation room. During a large outage, 2nd and 3rd level staff will work out of the room in conjunction with the NOC teams. Directly upstairs from the situation room is another identical room, also with floor to ceiling glass walls looking out to the video wall of the NOC. This upper room was reserved for senior and executive management use during a large outage. Engineers and Executive management have different needs during an outage and require separate spaces and separate functions, although constant information does need to feed between the two. The upper room was more of the showpiece room. It had a motorized curtain that you could press a button on the wireless control panel to open and close. The entrance from the building going up to the second floor board room does not give anything away for what the NOC itself looked like, so once everybody was assembled in the room and the button was hit, it never failed to impress first time visitors. They would always leave their chairs at the conf table and walk right up to the glass wall to look down at the people working in the NOC and see what was displayed on the board.

It was an extremely impressive setup. I am now in sales and visit customer sites on a daily basis and I have yet to see something that even approaches what this director designed at my old employer.

You can't forget to include cable or satellite to display weather and headline news. For fun, don't forget to include a high end stereo system and a blu-ray player so you can watch movies or the occasionaly superbowl game since you already have cable service anyway.

Comment Discover recurring payments on secure #'s (Score 1) 242

I use secure #'s from my Discover card for every purchase I make online that I can - I have however come across a few that won't accept Discover, and then I think twice before I purchase on a non-secure card. This feature is available on every Discover card of every persuasion and has been for a few years. It's not technically one time use. My understanding of it from experience is that if the same company charges the exact same amount to your number at a common interval (1 month, etc), then the charge will be accepted. It has worked for me before - I believe with Tivo. However, many times companies will process the first payment themselves, and subsequent recurring payments will go through a clearinghouse. The different payment info is enough to get the payment denied, which can be both good and bad depending on if you really wanted to setup a recurring payment.

I used to have a Visa credit card from MBNA and they offered secure numbers as well. They probably still do, but check into it before making the plunge. Unfortunately I got rid of MBNA and now just use Chase, and they do not offer secure credit numbers, so I have no backup if Discover isn't accepted. Maybe they paid too much for Bank One and Bear Stearns.

Comment Re:175/hr is slow? (Score 1) 119

This is really how it works? Come on, what decade is this? I've been on the user side and now I'm on the vendor side of packet based application performance products. Think wireshark or the defacto standard certain brand name that jumps into your head. A primary part of the job is showing people how inefficient their database calls are when they either ask for everything every time and don't cache it, or they get tiny bits and pieces a few bytes at a time instead of larger more efficient downloads.

So Twitter can't bundle multiple requests into the same stream? It's not exactly rocket science - even SNMP can do this now. It saves processing power, bandwidth, time to load, etc. Pretty crazy.

Comment Re:Makes sense (Score 1) 506

This is all pretty much common knowledge to anyone who has had an kicked a caffeine habit. And yes, certain soda's have much, much more caffeine than coffee which generally has much less than 100mg per cup. My habit started in High School with a two liter of coke on the way to school and through the first period or two (band, not real class). It soon moved up to a peak of 1800mg per day by way of no-doz and other generic caffeine pills. I couldn't function without it. I finally woke up one day, stopped cold turkey all pills and all liquid forms of caffeine, and after a week or so I was fine again. It is a real addiction, and there are real symptoms. You also will get accustomed to it like any other drug and build up a tolerance.

I'll drink 3 or 4 cans of pop a week, and I'll have coffee 2 or 3 times a week, but that's nothing compared to most of my coworkers. I do it more for the liquid than the caffeine as I believe I have all but killed the possibility of caffeine affecting me for a decade or two. Also, I had a science teacher who taught us in school that caffeine will take up to an hour to ingest into the body, so the immediate effect on most people of perking them up within the first few sips is pretty humorous to me. The pills never did that - it would take a while after I took them to do anything. I would like to find out if that is true, but I think it is.

Comment My solution - Raid 6 (Score 2, Insightful) 609

You don't specify what constitutes lots of data. In my case, 2 years ago I went for 6 750GB SATA drives in a Raid6 configuration. There's some very good posts here about some lesser known data reliability options, but personally I wanted to go with a worldwide standard that had been around for a long time and wasn't reliant on a couple guys hacking code in their spare time to make disk redundancy and file access work.

I bought a standard full size tower case, got a very large power supply, and spent a good deal of money on a mid-tier Raid controller. My primary requirement was Raid 6 so I could lose two drives without losing all my data, and my secondary requirement was having true hardware raid support. Most Raid controllers that are not enterprise business class are not true hardware raid - meaning that they use software and the CPU for some of the operations. This slows down file read/write. I did the research and read reviews and got a decent Promise card - if you have the money, go for LSI, Areca, or 3ware. Next, I got a Promise hot swappable 4 drive SATA bay. Not really sure why, it doesn't serve any purpose since in 2 years I haven't had a failure and thus have not had to hot-swap a drive. A very important thing is that I also purchased 7 drives for my 6 drive setup. So I already have a spare if I need it, and I don't have to worry about having the spare cash when a drive fails, or waiting on an RMA if it was still under support, etc. The one thing I wish I had done, and still might, is buy a spare raid controller with the exact same chipset. If your raid controller fries, ALL of your data is gone unless you can get the array up and running on an identical controller. That's a freaky thought!

6 drives in raid 6 at 750GB gives me a little under 3TB of disk. I wanted that in a single partition for ease of use, so I messed around with some 64 bit Linux distributions and did not have any luck. I finally settled on Vista of all things, but only after I got fed up with fighting with Linux - I didn't give it a fair shot, I should have been able to make it work. The only thing I can think is that it didn't like my controller or motherboard.

So, 6 drives of 750GB in Raid6 gives me 3TB. At the time I had less than 1TB of stuff, and wanted to make sure I had room to grow. I didn't grow anywhere near as quick as I expected, and I'm still at less than 2TB today. 2TB drives in a raid6 would give you 8TB, and that's if you only used 6 drives - you could easily add more into that same Raid6 array (depending on how good your Raid controller is). Even if all of your movies are dual layer quality, say 6GB each, that's over 1300 movies. That'd certainly last me a long time!

Comment Re:The key benefit to overpaying (Score 1) 432

I'm with you on getting a refund vs owing the government. I purposely set a higher withholding amount on my W2 so that I get extra money back at the end of the year. My finanicial advisor (who is a friend that happens to be a certified advisor) gives me crap about it every year.

The way I look at it is this: If I had an extra $50 or $100 in my paycheck, would I actually save it or would I spend it? My answer is simple - I would find something to spend it on. So since I don't need it to balance my budget, I'll let the government hang onto it for me. That way in February when I get my money back I'll have a large chunk of money all at once that I can use to either spend on something big I needed to save for, or I can use it to fill up my Roth IRA for the previous year. So instead of going out to dinner an extra couple times per month, by loaning the government my money interest free I can actually get something substantial instead of wasteful.

You just have to know how the psychology works for you. Same concept as bribing yourself to get the paperwork done early, or setting your clock 10 minutes fast so that you're always on time. You know it's dumb and so does everyone else - but that's the system that works best for you.

Comment Re:If he's a hacker... (Score 1) 403

Hmmm. Close, but I'm not convinced. How about this one.

If you had a million dollars locked in a safe and someone cracked the safe and stole your money (without damaging the safe), would you put your next million dollars in the same safe even though it was still perfectly usable? Of course not. But if they caught the thief and recovered every penny of the money stolen, would they also be able to charge the thief for buying you a new safe? I don't think the US courts have any procedure for doing that, except maybe you can collect damages in a civil court which could be the cost of a new safe to keep your money in.

Comment Microsoft Money Back Guarantee (Score 1) 194

I don't know if Microsoft offers an official money back guarantee program in other continents, but they do offer one for North America. I used it recently myself because the copy of Windows XP that I purchased for a client would not install due to an odd raid controller. I had to return it and buy Vista instead. They took it back with zero hassle, and I had a check in the mail a couple weeks later that I think actually included the shipping charges from me shipping them the XP media kit. This program does not cover computers purchased with pre-installed software though (OEM). For that you have to go to the company you bought it from. I was pretty happy when I realized I could get my money back from Microsoft and not have to eat the extra cost of the software license. Anybody else in a similar situation, the website is:

Microsoft Product Refund

Comment Re:I partially agree - twitter, facebook, etc are (Score 1) 381

I think you're actually right. That's exactly what I was looking for. I'm never going to get it because even though I'm only 30 and have lived and breathed tech for my whole life, I have no desire to talk to people without actually having something useful to talk about. As they said on a certain chick flick "That's not exactly a soup question".

I'll never call myself a true introvert - there were plenty of those at my college. Typical computer nerd style, and my friends and I were definitely not like them. But, your point is valid. I don't go out of my way to talk to people I have no reason to talk to right then.

Comment I partially agree - twitter, facebook, etc are bad (Score 2, Interesting) 381

I just had this discussion with my wife over the weekend, but in our case we were talking mainly about Facebook and not Twitter, but the same principal applies. My take is that I like the concept of being able to keep in touch with friends and family easily, but the implementation of facebook, myspace, twitter, and sms messaging leaves a lot to be desired. Facebook and myspace allow other people to post things which you may or may not want posted about you, and it keeps those postings for a certain amount of time (# of posts). Yes, you can delete them, but that's not the point. If there was damage, it's already done. Twitter is completely abused by people posting things about going to the store or going to a movie. Who really cares about that except stalkers or people who need to live vicariously through other more exciting people? I see the point for texting/sms, but I can't stand hearing about people that constantly text their friends. If you need to have a conversation with someone with multiple questions and answers, then it's a lot quicker (and cheaper) to call them. It's only quicker to text if it's a single message with a single response. Yes, I'm very technologically literate - I have worked in the computer networking hardware industry for ten years. But the implementation and addictiveness to many people of these four services is really bad. I know a few people who use these services solely for posting pictures and stories for family and good friends - I definitely get that.

For the flip side - my wife uses facebook quite a bit and likes getting updates from people she probably wouldn't call and talk to. Also enjoys looking at pictures when someone posts them. I get that - I just don't get the constant attention it requires. I look at her page, and see 3-4 updates from some of her friends on a daily basis, and we're not talking high school or college kids here. And half of them are lame attempts at introspective comments like - "can't wait to go drinking", "feeling lonely", "two days until the weekend", "my life is like xxx song lyric", etc. She agreed with me about that stuff, but it seems like most of our joint friends enjoy posting comments like that. As for twitter, she equated it to instant messaging. Definitely not the same thing because it's kept forever and isn't a two way conversation.

I'm not starting flames. I just don't understand why so many people are so addicted to these computer based types of social networks when to an outsiders perspective many of the posts seem either phony or useless. There have to be other people out there that agree with me, or that can come up with rational reasons as to why I'm wrong.

Comment Re:Looking for better interns? (Score 1) 123

I'm not sure what country you're from. Since you say college instead of some other term I'm going to guess US. I'm not that long out of college myself. In my experience, and that of many of my friends, it's all in who you know. Very few people get internships out of the blue. It's either through family members and friends of family (church, people met at activites, etc), or something setup by your college's student employment department. At least one internship was required for us to grauate, and many people did two.

I actually did three (one with one company, and two summers with another), and I wasn't alone with that. Internships (at least for IT) aren't that hard to come by if you don't wait for them to find you. Engineering might be completely different. Then there's paid vs unpaid internships - all IT internships are paid, but I had friends in other areas that had to work for free.

Internships are not real jobs. The person doing the hiring isn't really all that concerned with your skill level. It is much more important to them that you are an outgoing person with opinions on things that might be able to bring the company some extra value. If they have a large internship program and routinely have dozens of interns, them might want to hire people they think will work well together personality wise. An internship interview is typically only a few minutes, vs a real interview of an hour three times with three different people.

Really, it shouldn't be very hard to find an internship - don't be shy and do ask around to everybody you know. You'll likely be surprised. And yes, a resume is a must - even for an internship. Once your name gets on the interview list for the internship, you have to screw up pretty bad to not get it.

Submission + - US Government Deals Serious Blow to Online Poker

walnutmon writes: In late 2006 the Safe Port Act was passed, this included a piggy-backed law that made moving money to and from online gambling sites illegal. However, some sites including Pokerstars, Bodog, and other online poker rooms continued to operate using intermediary funding sources such as FirePay and Neteller.

Today a very serious blow has bean dealt to online poker players.

After the arrests of two top officials from, they are no longer processing payments from Americans to any gambling sites. This made up a whopping 64% of's business. Neteller was a convenient way to get around the sneaky law, and now online poker players will have very little to turn to. From the article:

"This is the first piece of news that will really hurt the likes of Pokerstars and Full Tilt," said analyst Tejinder Randhawa at Evolution Securities.

"If you look at the gambling chat rooms, you'll see NETeller was one of the main payment methods," he added.

According to gambling portal, Full Tilt Poker depended on NETeller for 75 percent of transactions, and the world's biggest site, Pokerstars, used NETeller for around 60 percent of wagers.
There are many players who play online for the fun of the game; however, there are also many who have played online poker professionally to make a steady income. Sell your poker books, and look to a more American way of making a living. The safety of our ports depends on it.

Submission + - China Shoots Down Orbiting Satellite

Scoria writes: " reports that the Chinese successfully destroyed an orbiting satellite with a ground-based missile during a test conducted last week. The U.S. has determined that the target, the Chinese Feng Yun 1C (FY-1C) polar orbit weather satellite, is no longer in orbit. Australia, Canada, and the United States are protesting the move, which demonstrates a critical vulnerability in satellite-dependent technology such as the Global Positioning System."

Submission + - SPAM: Cigarettes - 11 percent more nicotine since 1998

FiReaNGeL writes: "A reanalysis of nicotine yield from major brand name cigarettes has confirmed that manufacturers have steadily increased the levels of nicotine in cigarettes. This independent analysis, based on data submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) by the manufacturers, found that increases in smoke nicotine yield per cigarette averaged 1.6 percent each year, or about 11 percent over a seven-year period (1998-2005). Nicotine is the primary addictive agent in cigarettes."

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