Friday, August 22, 2008

One reason not to rush to XP SP3

I was reading an article in InfoWorld about how Vista users are rushing to get the Service Pack 1(SP) but XP users where not speeding to get the SP3. They offered that the reason is the pent up frustration with Vista. I personally use Vista Business daily and have be impressed with what it has done to the battery life of the venerable old Tecra M1 I use for home internet access, I now get about 4 hours of real runtime on the balanced power profile up from 2.5 in XP. I feel that this is a good improvement on a P4@1.4ghz, and the performance is very acceptable.

I wanted to offer a different reason that some users may not be rushing out to get the SP3 update. If you remember the bomb MS lobbed at us with SP2, you probably are appreciably cautious as the changes where quite drastic. Others may fear application compatibility, even though requirements normally read SP(level) and normally mean SP(level) and above. I may be in the minority here, but I think I did find an edge case that prevents you from wanting to upgrade to XP SP3. I have been running Nimbus MySan for testing mounting the bulk of my Media Centers' storage into a dedicated storage host. MySan lets you quickly and easily setup an ISCSI Target in you home on a XP SP2 machine (server 2003 as well). In my testing we managed to corrupt a machine that was running the MySan software (unable to access the operating system even in safe mode) when we upgraded to SP3. I need to test some more to verify that this was the cause, but our trouble started at reset after running updates, a separate install that have not been updated to SP3 have not exhibited the behavior we got from the failed machine.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

System Admins are not stupid hacks (generally) pt.1

For the past few months I have seen a steady stream of "How to work around your IT dept" styled articles. No I admit that some IT departments are not helpful, and are not interested in helping, but sometimes there is a reason for telling you to not do things. On the chopping Block first is a Wall Street Journal article from a while ago, "Ten things your IT Dept won't tell you". I don't want to tear apart all 10, but I feel compelled as every suggestion is inappropriate, dangerous or stupid.


Now the first point that I came up with is that if you have to send extremely large files externally as a part of your day to day job function and you don't have an appropriate methodology in place, there is a significant failing if the design of work flow and should start and your management should address it with IT. Barring that you are more likely doing something not work related, or inappropriate for company time. So begin with asking you supervisor why there isn't resonable accommodation (FTP, WebDav, etc) in place, if they don't give you a satisfactory answer, look further upstream. Most everytime you will find that the reason there isn't a reasonable solution in place is that no one thought to broach the subject with the IT department, or if it has been brought up, the line of business was unwilling to pay to play. IT rarely covers out of its own budget all of the hardware in a company (how could they?) so business lines are responsible to purchase hardware to support their IT initiatives. They don't like that they cannot get IT to cover the cost, so they encourage their employees to be creative. This is really both irresponsible and stupid. The largest files that I have had to work with are always Multimedia (picture and video), and utilizing a third party to transmit those files (in the case of licensed Images and video) transfers liability for any misuse of those files by that third party to your company (as you implicitly authorized them to act as an agent for you). As you are unlikely to have the authority to authorize such relationships, violations like this are grounds for termination should it ever result in a misuse. Even worse you may find yourself personally liable for the misuse, especially if you are found to be violating your companies IT policy for information handling. Accountants sometimes are tasked with sending rather large reports. Since this is normally internally there should be some way of accommodating this with out resorting sending it as an attachment (ever heard of Read-only?) that is best evaluated by working with your IT department.


This one is pretty obvious and really shouldn't have to be addressed, but again this is mostly all about liability. XYZ application has unknown interactions with company systems and leads to future potential for trouble. iTunes and Instant Messanger applications are the most common place that people butt up against this restriction and up until recently I was fairly tolerant of these uses, but given how The Shadow botnet spread quietly through IM systems I am very cautious about this. Couple that with the iTunes updater force installing the Safari Web browser onto users and opening them up to the infamous "not a bug" carpet bombing vulnerability(recently patched) and the two most popular ways to waste time at work are dangerous to the network. On a final note the WSJ article specifically mentioned file sharing applications. I am at a loss for this one, folding at home on company equipment is bad enough, but participating is what is more than likely illegal file sharing is really asking for formal discipline or a pink slip. I may have to come back to this separately as there are really so many things wrong with suggesting that people install whatever applications they want on a work machine. I think the problem may stem from the number of people that have PC's in their home that are given administrator access come to expect that they can do whatever they want on any PC.

I won't waste too much on this one, but really do you come to work for your own needs or to work. Leave the casual browsing to the professionals on your IT staff and get some damn work done in a given day.

I can only assume that this was aimed at the traveling professional, but I am still a little frustrated with the mentality, the work laptop is for the working. If you like looking at the nice naked then maybe you should take along your own laptop to look at them on. Behind male enhancement, the quest for free pornography leads to more spyware/adaware and general maliciousness than almost all other browsing combined. You want to explain the next day at a meeting/presentation why your laptop is owned because you had to look at some neekedness (sadly yes this has, and will continue to happen). Clear your tracks by not going there. An Eee PC is about $400 runs XP or Linux, and is small enough to not be too large to travel with.

No, just No. Indexing documents from work onto other servers (even working on them from home on your own pc) exposes your computers to the possibility to being seized in the eDiscovery process of litigation (lying in the face of litigation can extend the discovery process and possibly get you fired) which is becoming very prominent in the minds of IT departments due to recent rulings(pdf)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Digg is funny Reditt is easy

I don't go to digg very often I preffer to just digg via badges, but I submitted an article from GAS and had to go to the site. I am amused by some of the smart ass comments they have as part of the process. I hope that Digg can keep that same quirkiness when if they ever sell the company.

Related but not note, I signed up for a Reddit account and was very surprised about them not requiring a verification. I wonder how they prevent gaming of the system? I don't know if it is just because they don't have the traction that Digg does, but seems like a system ripe for exploitation. My $.02... also, how come there isn't an html code for the cent symbol? Seems like it would be a useful one for bloggers.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Theme for the next little while

The main things which seem to me important on their own account, and not merely as means to other things, are knowledge, art, instinctive happiness, and relations of friendship or affection.
Bertrand Russell
British author, mathematician, & philosopher (1872 - 1970)

Today's viewing

Saul Williams Black Stacie

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Mudkip for the hot

If the photo below doesn't make sense to you just move along, there is nothing here for you to see.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Proam call girls

I have had this in my writing queue for about 3 months, and still am not sure what it is that I am trying to say, but here goes.

In the wake of the Eliot Spitzer Circus I was curiously turned on to a few blogs run by Professional Amateur Call Girls, or girls that primarily support themselves through the profession but don't work for someone else. Since I am not sure what else to call them ProAm is the best I could come up with.

I have been reading their blogs (no links, the eye of the world has already looked very hard in their direction and unsettled several of their lives) and have only this to say: I doubt that very many people in this world could be as honest about their lives, even in an anonymous setting, as they are on these blogs. I realize the sexual nature of the business is very personal, so maybe that is what brings it out... but I doubt I could be so honest.

Media Center Extender DVD Playback

So my household is a Media Center centric one, and I have long been annoyed by the lack of DVD playback for the Media Center Extenders. I think Microsoft may have crippled the extenders for no real reason, that I can tell. They seen to think that streaming of DVD's constitutes a breach of the rights that studios grant you. I fail to see how I am not allowed to share in my own home the contents of a rightfully purchased or rented video with myself. The logic is fuzzy to say the least, but that is the line Microsoft decided to walk. They sidestepped the issue in the current generation of extenders somewhat (some of the extenders have built-in DVD playback capabilities). For me this is somewhat academic as the old generation of Media Center Extenders are not supported by vista, but since I bought it I feel that it should be of some use to me.

I'm sure this is an old hat for the true followers of The GreenButton, but I thought I would share for the rest of class. The link outlines the process for creating a Hardlink between a fake mpg file and a ripped .vob file.
Linking VOBs for extender playback presented on of all places an MSDN blog, is helpful with fairly easy to understand instructions.

As a side note having been burned by the lack of support for the last generation of MCE accessories by the new version of Media Center I do not plan on buying any additional accessories. I have a rarely used HP extender and 2 Media Center Portables (one Creative and one Samsung that technically still work w/ Vista). I suppose I would just like a nod from the device manufactures "hey you bought our stuff, thanks".

--------------------Update on this Post---------------------------
There is a way to make this work, that isn't so manual.