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Comment Re: Dupe (Score 4, Insightful) 840

I'm a 40-something, and I used to handle maintenance on my car as well, but it's simply not cost effective anymore.

My car takes 6 quarts of SAE 5W20 - estimating a cost of $5.00/qt for semi-decent cheap oil, that is $30 right there. Add the $8 oil filter, and we're up to $38. Not counting my time, or costs of driving to purchase oil and dispose of it, we are now at almost $40.

I drive my car to the same shop, about 6 miles away from my house. In addition to the oil change, they top off the other fluids and check my brakes, hoses, belts, lights and even rotate my tires as part of a standard 'service visit'. All that for a 'package price' of $29.99. It was only $19.99 fifteen years ago, but cost have risen a little. The guy that owns the shop, and his small staff always pay attention to what they are doing, so I have had exactly zero major incidents with their quality of service.

I replaced the battery in my car recently and I ended up having to spend $20 on tools just to get to and remove the dead battery. The only reason I did that was because the shop was closed the week of Christmas and I didn't feel like bugging the owner.

Now, when it comes to electronics, I'm all over it. I've repaired a few televisions, my refrigerator, washing machines and several other electronic items around the house. Many smaller devices, however, seem to be designed to become basically scrap when they break.

Submission + - Astronomers Identify Asteroids That Can Easily Be Captured

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Long overlooked as mere rocky chunks leftover from the formation of the solar system, asteroids have recently gotten a lot more scrutiny as NASA moves forward with plans to capture, tow, and place a small asteroid somewhere near our planet and two different private space companies, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, plan to seek out and mine precious metals and water from near-Earth asteroids. Now Adam Mann reports that astronomers have identified 12 candidate Easily Retrievable Objects (EROs) ranging in size from approximately 2 meters to 60 meters in diameter that already come (cosmically) close enough to our planet, that it would take a relatively small push to put into orbits around Lagrange points near Earth using existing rocket technology. For example, 2006 RH120, could be sent into orbit around L2 by changing its velocity by just 58 meters per second with a single burn on 1 February 2021. Moving one of these EROs would be a “logical stepping stone towards more ambitious scenarios of asteroid exploration and exploitation, and possibly the easiest feasible attempt for humans to modify the Solar System environment outside of Earth (PDF),” write the authors in Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy. None of the 12 ERO asteroids are new to astronomers; in fact one of them became briefly famous when it was found to be temporarily orbiting the Earth until 2007. But until now nobody had realized just how easily these bodies could be captured.

Comment Re:Lockdown (Score 1) 414

Citrix is overused in some deployments I've seen, but can be a real boon for specific applications. On my network, workstations and users are locked down tight as a drum, users can install apps, but only from a list of specific offerings, for everything else the must call *me* first. The majority of our applications on our network are installed locally, installed and updated via Group Policy and some fancy scripting. All machines are loaded from images via RIS/WDS. The network runs smoothly and is extremely stable, with workstations running for 3-5 years without so much as a hiccup.

However, my company has a handful of problem apps though that cannot be used at remote locations:

(1) An accounting package that requires so much bandwidth for it's file/database traffic that it could easily saturate a 10Mbps pipe by itself. (No we *can't* change, it's an industry-specific package that would cost my entire annual IT budget to replace, and that's *before* the soft losses like training and wasted employee time)
(2) A collection of HR Management software that refuses to install or update properly without full admin access.
(3) Full remote desktop access for remote users needing direct access to their files in a centralized network document store. There are "Offline Files" users syncing their files over high-bandwidth VPN connections, but that doesn't help when you need to work on a shared Access database or other file that cannot be synced for some reason.

Standard Windows Terminal services can probably do much of what we need *now*, but when the system was deployed, Citrix was *required*. The accounting and HR systems specifically - they simply didn't function correctly over standard NT 4.0 Terminal Services. We keep using it because we own the software and it works smoothly, so why break something that's working? :)

Performance-wise, the primary applications actually load significantly quicker than they would on even a Gigabit LAN-connected machine (The Citrix servers are are on our network backbone). Because the majority of the network traffic is confined to the core switches, they require minimal bandwidth outside of the core. We limit LAN users to 768kbps, but WAN users are limited to 256kbps, with no ill effects - in fact, they rarely use all that bandwidth.

Citrix/Terminal Services, like any other tool, has it's applications - used incorrectly it's just another source of problems, but in the right situation, it can be a godsend.

Back on topic, our current IT Staff:Users ratio is 75:1, and we spend most of our time handling user requests or teaching.

Comment Re:RTFA (Score 1) 628

Yes, I'm OK with my coffee intake, I only drink coffee when I want to. I happen to love the taste of strong fresh-brewed coffee, and I drink it black. If I go a day or two without coffee, no big deal, I don't get headaches or have any trouble sleeping. I've gone on vacation for two weeks without a single cup of coffee. I really enjoyed that first cup when I got back though.

My coffee intake is balanced out with good water intake (rarely below 2L day), natural fruit juices (orange and cranberry are my favorites) and a generally good diet. I rarely drink soft drinks, and when I do it's normally diet (sucralose - I'm allergic to aspartame).

When I was young (5-12) I had a massive problem with insomnia, staying awake for 3-5 days straight. I actually started sleeping better after I began drinking coffee. I became sharper and more alert during the day, and slept longer and deeper at night. I also had asthma as a child, but when I began smoking, it just disappeared. When I finally quit smoking (a couple weeks before my first child was born), the asthma came back with a vengeance - even on a drug plan, my medication costs more than cigarettes would, but I don't want to be a smoker anymore.

My family has a history of long-lived smokers and drinkers of coffee, most males living well into their 80s, women into the 90s and beyond. Most have high blood pressure, myself included, but heart attacks are actually quite rare in my family.

My point is that these substances affect individuals differently, I apparently have a gene that allows caffeine to make me sharper and more alert but to stave off the unwanted effects until extremely high doses.

Comment Re:RTFA (Score 5, Interesting) 628

I would tend to agree - I drink more coffee than that before 9am. I drink coffee all day long, even into the night. I have done so for more than 25 years with no hallucinations (as far as I can tell) or baseless paranoia.

Once upon a morning a long time ago, at an ISP now long since defunct, I drank 4 espressos, 6 double cappuccinos and a full pot of my regular strong coffee. I also had a "coffee bean" candy bar in addition to a couple really rich chocolate eclairs. I actually got a nose bleed, but no hallucinations.

OTOH: My sister and one of her friends once drank 3 cans (each) of Jolt cola, a 2L of Mountain Dew (each) and then split a few full 1lb bags of Plain Chocolate M&Ms. The hallucinated for at least an hour until they crashed - and hard. Probably needless to say: they both felt sick for a full day afterward.

Comment Re:Counter-intuitive! (Score 5, Informative) 160

I'm not an antenna designer, but by the looks looks of it, the design is basically a miniature on-chip waveguide, efficiently channeling the RF energy toward the external antenna, minimizing wasted radiation.

Wires radiate RF like mad unless they're heavily shielded, which is something you really can't do effectively in tight spaces. Of course, testing was done at 5.2GHz, so it will be interesting to see how it works at cellphone frequencies - packaging size might become a factor at lower frequencies.

Sony Sues Rootkit Maker 334

flyboy974 writes "Sony BMG Music Entertainment is suing the company that developed anti-piracy software for its CDs, claiming the technology was defective and cost the record company millions of dollars to settle consumer complaints and government investigations. The software in question is the MediaMax CD protection system, widely derided as a rootkit. Sony BMG is seeking to recover some $12 million in damages from the Phoenix-based technology company, according to court papers filed July 3."

Submission + - Canadian Piracy Claims Debunked (

Steve writes: "Law professor Michael Geist and filmmaker Daniel Albahary have just released an excellent film called "Putting Canadian 'Piracy' in Perspective." It does a great job of debunking the claims that piracy is rampant in Canada, and demonstrates that these claims are little more than scare tactics and straw-man arguments from corporate and government interests looking to change Canadian law to their benefit."

Submission + - Lightning strikes reported by iPod users (

Raver32 writes: "Listen to an iPod during a storm and you may get more than electrifying tunes. A Canadian jogger suffered wishbone-shaped chest and neck burns, ruptured eardrums and a broken jaw when lightning traveled through his music player's wires. Last summer, a Colorado teen ended up with similar injuries when lightning struck nearby as he was listening to his iPod while mowing the lawn. Emergency physicians report treating other patients with burns from freak accidents while using personal electronic devices such as beepers, Walkman players and laptop computers outdoors during storms"

Submission + - Astronomers seek help to organize galaxies (

Raver32 writes: "Scientists need help sorting through an unusual digital photo album: pictures of about a million galaxies. They are asking volunteers on the Internet to help classify the galaxies as either elliptical or spiral and note, where possible, in which direction they rotate. It would be the largest galactic census ever compiled, something scientists say would provide new insight into the structure of the universe. "We're in the golden era of astronomy," said Bob Nichol, an astronomer at the University of Portsmouth in southern England. "We have more data than we can assimilate, and we need help." Astronomers say computer programs have been unable to reliably classify the star systems."

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