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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 6 declined, 2 accepted (8 total, 25.00% accepted)

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Submission + - Future-proofing medical systems (arstechnica.com)

jsepeta writes: "I work for a cardiologist. Our nuclear imaging camera (ADAC Genesys Gamma Camera)https://cache.trustedpartner.com/images/library/000264/uploaded/Philips_Genesys_Lg.gif runs through a Solaris server and a Solaris workstation. Recently we've had some downtime because of power supply and hard disk failures. Although we have a service contract to keep this gear up and running, the technician who came to provide service recently spent an entire week attempting to rebuild the Sun workstation, and failing. He tried multiple hard disks, CD-ROM drives, and CD-ROM installation media. One could consider his efforts a comedy of errors, if not for the fact that the system is still down and patients can't come in for medical imaging appointments. I have a tiny bit of Unix experience but not enough to gauge the technician's abilities and knowledge.

I have been told by the technician and by a sales rep at a parts firm that ADAC, who was bought by Philips, installed a "magic number" on their hard disks to prevent people from replacing hard disks for the Sun workstation without going through them first. The software that we use for imaging is called Pegasus, and it relies on a dongle installed on the serial port of the Sun workstation. While I agree that companies who sell medical equipment and software are well within their rights to use whatever copy protection methods they want, this does make the maintenance of these systems more difficult. And in this instance, patient care is being compromised by our inability to get this system running again.

My guess is that our system is 10-12 years old; the Sun workstation runs at 440mhz so it's not particularly fast by today's standards. I've performed perhaps thousands of installations and reinstallations of various computer systems over my 20+ year IT career, so for me, replacing a hard disk is usually a simple procedure. The trick in our case is that the existing dead drive is a 20gb IDE mechanism and we obviously can't buy something new to meet those specs. In the past, our technician had replaced several of these drives before, usually 'stealing' a working drive from an existing system. However, last week, it did not work with 2 such replacement drives.

My immediate questions are thus:
1) what tools would one use to clone a Solaris 7-formatted drive so that we can get our system up and running?
2) if the Genesys / Pegasus systems rely on a dongle, what is actually going on with the "magic number"? If it's just a license code, I'm sure we have one amongst the binders of ADAC/Philips materials. But tying a code to a hard drive makes little sense, if you've already sold a system which is leashed to a security dongle.
3) when Philips took over ADAC, did the licensing agreement stay the same or change? are licenses granted in perpetuity? should we be forced to replace our system because of Philips' inability/lack of desire to support a 10-year old system? I am certain that when new, this system cost a pretty penny. I am assuming that Philips has no moral agenda to force customers into buying new systems.
4) Would it be possible to retrofit something new onto this camera? What kind of effort would it take? I have been told that our service vendor is working on a modernized system that runs off Mac Pros (still UNIX, I guess) but their software isn't ready (or is vaporware). I'm not sure what the likelihood would be of keeping these old systems up and running, but if the camera component still functions mechanically, newer solutions would slice the images much faster than our existing hardware."

Submission + - Prolonging the life of USB devices to a new OS 3

jsepeta writes: "I currently work for a doctor's office, and had previously worked for a company that develops medical software. In both positions, I've had to use and implement biometric fingerprint scanners. The ones I've seen are cheaply-manufactured USB devices, and I've seen them work under both XP and Windows 7. However, the devices we're using at my current office were discontinued by APC two years ago, and the company whose software we're using with these scanners (Softex Omnipass) no longer supports these devices as a result. We have a few of them running under Windows 7, and would like to install more (I have a box of unopened units) but Omnipass 6.5 doesn't install on Windows 7, and as I mentioned, newer versions of Omnipass work on Windows 7 but do not support these specific devices with current drivers.

First, does anyone have any good suggestions for password management software and drivers that might work with these units? They do not appear to be much different from the others I've seen, and I'm avoiding replacing all the units outright. Second, I'm sure that other slashdotters must have similar experiences running various computer peripherals long after the manufacturer has ceased support. For example I have a box of abandoned peripherals including a serial Microsoft Sidewinder, a SuperDrive (the "floptical", not the CD-optical device), and the like."

Submission + - Need help convincing boss to invest in new systems

jsepeta writes: 2 weeks ago I accepted a new job as a network admin 350 miles from home, and the offer was less than I had expected: no moving expenses, low end of the salary range, and no vacation time for a year. My first day I discovered that our primary domain controller had been freezing, we have no backups, and no antivirus protection, as well as a surprising lack of security on our cloud effort in a data center. Of course, first weekend the PDC breaks, and the boss dismissed my request for additional hard drives so there's no place for me to save backups to. After dedicating my Sunday-thru-Wednesday building a new DC and CRM server in VMWare Free (we're hosting no fewer than 4 functions on every server), the boss decided not to repair the 2 dead servers, and then went back on his plan to buy a replacement server after I'd already explained to him the deficiencies in our network. After spending far too many 10+ hour days in the office, I'm ready to GTFO.

With 20 years' experience maintaining computers and servers on networks, I realize that I have no desire to be in the hot seat when his cheapassed house of cards built on used 5 year old Ultra320 hard drives purchased from Ebay fails again. But in the interim, what strategies can I engage in to impress upon him that while he may have spent/wasted a great deal of money on the old network admin, the company is now at great risk for crashing and data loss unless he commits some money for equipment and software for backups. We're running a mixed Win2k8/2k8R2/CentOS environment and the $8500 pricetag for Backup Exec was nixed, as well as the $3500 from Roxio Retrospect. BTW, I tried running Windows backup on the DC that died BEFORE it died, but it froze twice while trying to make the backup — and now he thinks I'm responsible for killing the damned server. Keep in mind that the company is a startup in the medical software field, and there are NO older pc's sitting around to do squat with. Also, Microsoft's built-in backup software had pretty crappy logging from the W2k8 server I ran it from. One of the problems is he's a seemingly smart guy who's run other companies with far less IT resources than this company, which is a software development house. He's against my suggestion for offsite backups, even though I warned him that if a server in the data center goes down, he's going to lose not just data but customers.

Submission + - Alternatives to Adobe's $2500 Creative Suite?

jsepeta writes: "I've been using Adobe products for years, and own several older versions of the products from their Creative Suite: Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, Acrobat Pro, and Dreamweaver. I'd like to teach some graphic design and web production skills to my coworkers in the marketing department, and realize that most of them can't afford $2500 to buy Adobe's premium suite, and frankly, shouldn't need to because there should be competitive products on the market. But I cannot seem to locate software for graphic design & printing that output CMYK files that printing companies would accept, and am unfamiliar with products that are better than FrontPage yet still easier to use for Web design. Any suggestions? Our company is notoriously frugal and would certainly entertain the idea of using open source products if we can implement them in a way that doesn't infringe upon our Microsoft-centric hegemony / daily work tasks in XP."

Submission + - Alternatives to the Annual Symantec Tax

jsepeta writes: "I work as the head and only full-time IT staff for a medium-sized Medical services company. We have 7 locations and fewer than 250 employees with email addresses. We have 17 servers running a variety of services, from data storage to application hosting to MS SQL and few other databases. When looking into licensing for the current year so as to upgrade our Symantec Backup Exec, I was a bit startled to see how much we would owe them for updates; the maintenance fee for 2007 is fair ($350) but requires we REPURCHASE all options (SQL, open file access, etc), turning an annual upgrade process into a big ordeal. Are there any commercial alternatives that do as good a job backing up and recovering data for less $$$? What about freeware/Linux solutions? I'm familiar with Dantz/EMC Retrospect but even that has a pricetag I'm not certain what the owner would commit to (although $1000 for unlimited clients/servers sounds quite reasonable to me). About our environment: my company is notoriously miserly when it comes to spending money on IT, to the point that corners have been cut that I wouldn't have considered when working for companies of a similar size that have an IT budget perhaps 10x larger than ours. We're a Microsoft shop, for better or for worse, and are tied to the Windows platform based on not just on cost but also on user knowledge/experience and several applications that will run only under windows. Almost all our servers (800mhz-2.6ghz) are running under Windows 2000 which I'm hoping to upgrade/replace with Win2k3 (dual xeon 2ghz) to carry us through the next several years. Newer workstations are generally ~2ghz although older ones exist in the 500mhz range. Main app is Office 2000 and we use our ISP's email rather than Exchange. Our WAN infrastructure relies on DSL and Cable from a number of providers including Comcast (argh) but at least we're using Cisco routers. We already pay Symantec $5000 per year for antivirus protection, but adding an additional $5k to the mix for keeping our backup software up to date seems a bit extreme; sure files need to be backed up, but how much better does version 11 work over versions 10 and 9? I'm hoping to find a way to reduce our annual payments to Symantec because I'm not certain I want to stay on their "hamster wheel of progress". I am fairly unhappy with them as a company: their tech support isn't that good, updates for antivirus corporate are unreliable, products often have difficulty uninstalling and reinstalling, and they've gobbled up a number of competitors over the years that made compelling products (Central Point MacTools anyone?) Given these issues, I hate to believe that Symantec's products are the best available. What recommendations do y'all have for helping my company to kick the Symantec habit?"

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