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Comment Re:Internet of (some) Things (Score 1) 114

The failure mode of fridges is generally much simpler. Most over temp conditions are due either to power loss (in which case your temperature monitoring and/or internet is out), catastrophic failure (in which case it's pretty obvious) or someone leaving the door open. For the last 20 years or so, fridges have had audible alarms when the door is open for more than a minute or two -- which pretty much solves the problem for a COG of about $10.

On the other hand, I really would like a bar code scanner on the fridge so when I use up an item, I can just scan it and have it added to my grocery list/order. (I guess I could use a phone for this instead.)

I struggle with what my fridge really has to say to me. Perhaps there are a few appliances that are smart and have interesting things to say, but the fridge isn't high on the list. Alarm systems, maybe, but for alarms 24x7 reliability is critical and the IOT folks haven't been particularly successful at demonstrating this. Maybe a thermostat, but except for vacation houses it's hard to see the benefit of being able to remotely control/monitor temperature.


Comment Re:So basically ... the attack wins? (Score 2) 212

It's always a problem with pro-bono clients or favors for friends client. If it was a top-paying client, they might have pulled out all the stops to prevent the attack.Every pro-bono and service provider (whether lawyer, ad agency, programmer, etc.) understands the dynamics. Full-freight clients come first and the top two or three clients come even before them. Discounted, best-efforts, pro-bono and clients of friends come below.

Hopefully, the relationship is described and understood in advance.

Comment Prius hybrid does this... (Score 1) 210

At least on my generation of Prius hybrid (and probably others), the ScC (state of charge) is "inaccurately" reported on the user display. When it shows all bars, the traction battery is charged to 80% and when it shows "empty" it's really at 20%. By managing user's expectations they think the battery fully charged or fully empty.

By carefully managing the SoC, Toyota (and others) are able to guarantee the battery for 10 years. (Slightly different as the traction battery is not a LION battery, but same theory.)

And the battery is replaceable, but rather expensive (in absolute dollars, but not as a percent of the overall "device" cost.)

Comment Re:yet more poor design. (Score 1) 113

You probably need to recreate the sandbox each time (or at least at some frequency) because you can't tell if the sandbox has been corrupted by the malicious code. Trying to bypass the accounts & authentication just punches more holes in the OS.

It's not an easy problem, especially if you are concerned about speed.

Comment Re: We don't want data caps. (Score 1) 148

It would be better if they sold data by the GB, rather than a fixed amount by the month. I agree that people who use more data should pay more, but once you buy a GB of data there should not be a time limit on when you can use it.

With the "by the month" model, the provider gets the breakage at the end of the month -- if you buy 10GB and only use 8GB, then you've paid for 2GB that you have used. However, if you go over the 10GB, then you pay for everything you use.

A fairer model is the electric or gas company where you pay a fixed fee for the physical wires or pipes and then a per KWHr or BTU variable cost.

For the car analogy: it's like if you buy 20 gallons of gas on Monday you have to use it up by the end of week. Any gas left over you have to return to the company. If you use more than 20 gallons you have to buy it at 5x the normal price.

The caps trick consumers into thinking the per GB cost is low... but only if you use up the entire amount. In the example above, if it's $50 for 10GB, and you only use 8, then your cost per GB isn't the advertised $5, but is $6.25/GB.

Comment Not too surprising... (Score 4, Informative) 147

There are lots of systems that were designed around embedded PDP-8s and PDP-11s. And given the numbers of Digital VAX sold and specialized software it would not be very surprising if some of these systems are still be used. There were probably over 1.5 million of these machines sold (about 300,000 PDP-8s, 700,000 PDP-11s, 500,000 VAX machines), so there's probably some happily humming away.

I'm sure the same is true for some earlier IBM 360/370, but they had a better upgrade path and were more expensive to start with. Most of those machines got replaced when they came off lease or the parts availability expired. But probably some of the software from the early 360's is still be used.

Those were the days when machines were rock solid (and weighed about as much). Unlike today, when electronics are designed to be replaced every two years or so.

Comment What's old is new... (Score 2) 202

Multi r/w heads aren't a new concept. Some of the really old drives had them, and in fact the very original magnetic recording "disks" had a r/w head per track. I think in the trade off of more heads versus faster spinning, faster spinning won out.

I seems that there should be a market for more platters, in a slightly different form factor.

Comment You might take a look at appriver (Score 1) 244

You might take a look at appriver secure tide ( email filtering. It's SaaS email filtering that you put in front of your smtp server. It has reasonably good controls and does a better than average job. It's reasonably priced.We use it and have been happy with the filtering quality, price and support.

Barracuda networks also sells a SaaS spam filtering service, haven't used it, but have heard good things about it.

Comment Load via nose or tail (Score 1) 96

The technology already sort of exists. There are cargo planes that can lift up the nose or tail, and then have freight containers loaded. This gets around the air frame structural problem that some have noted.

I envisioned a "passenger" module that would be slid out once the plane landed, and a "pre-loaded" (with passengers) module would be slid in. This avoids the unload/clean/load time of turning around a plane. If it takes 20 minutes to turn-around a plane (which is pretty fast), the module approach could cut it to 5.

The logical extension, would be to equip the modules with wheels, so the plane could exchange "passenger compartments" without coming to a full stop and use in-flight refueling to keep the planes in the air.

Comment If your goal is to make things simple, this isn't (Score 1) 173

If your goal is to make things simple, this isn't the answer. You're going to end up with lots of "sort of works together" software, all of which will need patching and will occasionally just stop working.

For not many dollars, and a lot less time investment you can use something like logmein remote which will give you nearly always reliable, and secure remote access to the machines. You can even set it up so no one needs to be at the remote machines for you to log in. As long as the machine is booted, you'll be set.

I've used logmein (paid) and it's nearly flawless.

As for monitoring all the URLs your son accesses, you could probably set up a proxy server on the local machine that emails you the URLs daily. But the option of routing the traffic back to your machine via a VPN is just a solution looking for a problem. If^h^hwhen something goes down, you'll be busy rebooting ever bit of hardware along the way.

Good (or just practical) engineers remember... keep it simple stupid.

Comment Is the computer possibly overheating? (Score 1) 517

One issue I've seen mostly with laptops (although also with desktops in dusty environments), is that the fans get clogged with dust, grit and hairs that cause the machines to overheat and then the CPU goes into thermal slowdown mode. So from a cold start after installing the OS the machine is cool, after a couple of hours of installing updates the machine has reached a toasty temperature and the CPU throttles down. Looks like it's the OS, but it's really the hardware.

Look at the event log in admin tools and see if you are getting CPU throttle notifications.

Hard to clean the fan on most laptops, and may not be worth the time on many old desktops.

Comment I have to disagree... (Score 1) 517

Our 5 year old Dell Optiplexes still give reasonable performance with the initial hardware configuration 4/8 GB RAM, 7200 RPM drives, 100/1000 ethernet. They've had all the MS patches applied over the years. Only software installed on them in Office 2010, Adobe writer & antivirus.

I'm guessing that the problem lies with some of the applications, and more likely antivirus.

Comment How critical are the ipads in flight? (Score 1) 263

The iPads aren't directly controlling any of the flight or navigation systems. If an ipad "crashed" in flight, it would be an inconvenience but not a major flight safety issue. The plane would continue to fly, and the pilots could navigate safely to an airport via ground control. All of the ipads crashing at one time might overload ground control, but not likely. Also, the flight waypoints are preloaded into the navigation computers prior to takeoff, so plane will continue on its flightpath with or without the ipad.

I guess I'd be really scared when they start using the ipad for navigation, engine control or auto pilot. (Or perhaps, just for the inflight entertainment).

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