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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 (https://www.appriver.com/services/spam-and-virus-protection/) 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).

Comment Reliability and longevity (Score 1) 138

Although I agree that some of the user-facing electronics in automobiles are overpriced, the core components use time-proven technology that is reliable. Even a low-end car (sold for less than $20,000) has engine electronics that are expected to last for ten or more years, an operating temperature range of probably 0 F to 120 F, and can withstand fairly heavy vibration over its lifetime. Your average computer or phone perhaps operates from 40 to 90 (although rated for much less) and would fall apart if put on a shaker. The electrical environment is relatively bad -- voltages range from 10 to 14 V and there are 4, 6 or 8 plugs firing off sparks. Some of the devices also are critical safety items -- for example brakes need to have redundancy and degrade gracefully if power is lost.

Contrast that to your average PC/Mac/iThing which is put into the market with buggy software and has critical patches every month.

For airplanes, cars and other transportation, I'd trade off tested and proven hardware and software for cool-looking flat icons on the touch screen.

Comment Financial stability, trustworthy commerce... (Score 1) 40

A functioning economy with commerce is part of the solution. One of the functions of banks, beside a more secure place to hold your cash, is to use the deposits to make loans that allow businesses to develop. Businesses generate jobs, wages and more infrastructure. All which help develop civil and functioning societies. Although far from a complete success, take a look at how Rwanda has developed post civil war.

I not sure that this particular company will not suffer the fate of other attempts, but the concept of providing banking to otherwise unbanked is a good idea.

Comment I don't get why you would need this in production (Score 1) 89

On a production engine, the specs of every unit will be identical (to machining tolerances .001 in). So once you solve the problem just encode the parameters in the controller and you can use something much less powerful (and more reliable). For solving the problem, use whatever high-power equipment you'd like. Attach a hundred sensors and throw a supercomputer at it. Even better, rather than "machine learning" (aka, we don't understand it, we will let the computer tweak it until it gets better), simulate the physics and solve the equations for a complete solution.

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