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Comment Re:Latency? (Score 1) 169

In 99.9% of the apartments and condos around here, residents can get a landline [thus, DSL] and Comcast hookup right into their unit. A few apartment complexes offer high-speed Internet included, but it's typically something like a 768 kbps DSL shared by 200 residents--and provided by some third-rate company like MDU. Residents wind up just getting cable or DSL because of that.

There is one student-only apartment complex here with an interesting arrangement:

- It's physically off campus.

- It's managed by the university's housing department.

- The CATV drops go to the campus CATV headend, which just re-modulates all of Comcast's channels and adds several campus-only channels. So you can't get cable Internet.

- The phone drops go to the campus PBX, so no DSL.

- The Ethernet drops, instead of being connected to the holy-crap-fast campus network, are managed by Third Rate Internet, Inc. And the residents have zero alternatives.

The on-campus dorms have super-fast Ethernet through the campus network. Ironically, if dorm residents want landlines, they get a copper pair straight to Embarq, so on-campus dorm residents could get DSL if they wanted, but I'm not sure why they'd want to.

Comment Sounds familiar... (Score 2, Interesting) 495

I used to be the sysadmin for a high school. The thoroughly incompetent Web design teacher had a very simple method of ordering computers: go to Dell's website, build-to-order the most expensive computer, and select the most expensive of every option.

I burst her bubble by telling her that the school district had standardized on one OptiPlex and one Latitude. She had a screaming fit because she couldn't get some overpriced Inspiron that lets you listen to CDs with the cover closed. The district purchasing director said she could have it if she could justify needing that for job. So she didn't get it.

This $16,000 WS2003 box sounds like something a trust-fund baby would get.

Comment Re:Geohashing by building reference (Score 1, Interesting) 230

On a recent geocaching trip, I compared the coordinates on my TomTom [primarily for driving] against my friend's Garmin, which was exclusively for hiking.

At any given point, the two devices were off by, at most, 15 feet. There were a few geocaches we found online whose locations were impossible--for example, in the middle of a football stadium. The fact that our two GPSs only disagreed by about 15 feet meant that whoever planted the caches had the coordinates wrong. Or possibly Googled them. :-)

Comment Re:Hate to break it to you... (Score 0) 904

- Set the boot order to C first to prevent booting from user media.

- Set a BIOS password.

- Padlock the chassis shut and, if necessary, cable the computer to the table.

- Kensington security cable locking each monitor to the table too, if necessary.

As with anything, it comes down to a matter of if your boss will help you with security policy, or if s/he will shoot you down in the name of keeping users "happy" and letting them do "whatever they want"?

Where I work now, it's simple. If you give out your password, change the OS on your workstation, circumvent group policies, steal RAM,'re fired. Signing an agreement to not do this was a condition of my employment.

Where I used to work, one user stole a computer, then brought it back for me to "fix" it, and my Michael Scott-esque boss let this type of stuff happen, not wanting to ruffle any feathers or piss off the users. Care to guess why I don't work there anymore?

Comment Re:How about: less douchebaggery? (Score 0) 904

I was a Windows sysadmin for a school, and I used group policies for security AND for an enhanced user experience.

In student computer labs, I used Group Policy to have a startup script copy a .vbs file to "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup" that would add the lab's printer, make it the default, then display a dialog box noting that the printer has been added and made the default printer. The dialog box was my smart-ass addition after users complained that the printer-adding script "didn't tell them" the printer had been added.

Yes, I could have copied the file manually/with a script or just included it in the image, but I didn't want a custom image for that lab, and the group policy "just worked".

Comment Re:Doing the math (Score 0) 147

Where I live, pre-ATSC, I could pick up zero channels using an indoor antenna--I joked that Comcast jammed the airwaves. Mount an antenna on the roof, and you're in business--bonus points if you had an antenna rotator.

At home, I have cable TV, but no roof antenna. If Comcast fails because of an idiot with a backhoe, we're stuck with whatever is archives on the TiVo.

Now, if Comcast goes all-digital, forcing us to get a cable box, we might dump cable TV, get Internet-only, and put an antenna on the roof. We'd need two ATSC tuners.

Comment Re:allowed??? (Score 0) 256

True--an absentee ballot can be intercepted in the mail. The same vulnerability exists for Oregon's 100% mail-in voting. For that matter, your boss could tackle you at the polls as you walk from the privacy booth to the scanner. If I ever vote absentee, I'll be damn sure to put the ballot in a locked mail drop, not the mailbox in front of my house.

Despite this problem, absentee ballots are, IMHO, a good thing. If I lived abroad, I'm not sure if I'd trust the nearest American embassy/consulate to be the official proctor of my absentee ballot and forward it on to my county. I'd want to mail it straight to my county myself--drop it in a public mail drop, or in a country with an unreliable mail system, send it via UPS or FDX.

Mail interception aside, I know of a major weakness in absentee ballots:

BOSS: "Every employee will request an absentee ballot from the county supervisor of elections, sign the affidavit, and turn the ballot, privacy envelope, affidavit, and outer envelope over to me. Failure to comply will result in termination."

Note that this is theoretical. If this boss doesn't wind up in federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison over this, he'll wind up with an empty workplace.

From the aspect of the actual elections office, there's a pretty strict procedure for absentee ballots:

- Ballots are mailed in. The mailing MUST be in this EXACT order: ballot, privacy envelope, affidavit, outer envelope. ANYTHING missing or in the wrong place will result in the whole package being shredded and a note made of the shred.

- The canvassing board opens the outer envelope and verifies the affidavit. If everything checks out, the affidavit is filed away, and the privacy envelope is thrown into a pile. Once the ballot hits the pile, goodbye link.

Comment OK, but... (Score 0) 204

Not only should the President's weekly radio address be available as a YouTube-esque Flash video--so should the actual video files.

Better yet, hash the video files and post the hash values on This way, anyone who wanted could mirror or archive the videos, and anyone downloading it from anywhere could prove that it's the real thing.

Comment Re:Parking tickets (Score 0) 291

The parking services at the university I attended would take photos of improperly parked vehicles to show to the offenders if they attempted to contest the tickets.

I still live in the same city: the university and city have pretty much stopped enforcing all parking, so this parking-ticket service would be kind of useless here. I once saw an abandoned car parked illegally go 5 months without a ticket.

Comment Liberum (Score 0) 321

I installed this with a user base of about 200 people, and it worked beautifully.

It uses ASP, but before pulling out the pitchforks on me, it was on an IIS server I already had in internal use, and it integrated with Active Directory beautifully. Users could go to http://servername/helpdesk and be at the helpdesk with no authenticating--only a one-time questionnaire for name, department, and room.

Comment Safety? (Score 0) 116

Yeah, I want to carry around some hydrogen with me. Heck, even if *I* were in charge of airport security, I wouldn't want hydrogen beyond my security checkpoints.

I've seen fuel-cell emergency power systems for datacenters and buildings. Sure--I want massive hydrogen tanks laying around. Can you say "terrorist target"?

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