DISH network tip.

On 9/23/2015 8:23 PM, Ralph Mowery wrote:

My solution is typically to avoid the upgrade!

I can read and write 9-track (half inch) magnetic tape, 8/5/3.5" floppies, MO media (various sizes), all sorts of different tape and oddball media (e.g., Orb disks), etc. In the past, these were necessary to support arbitrary requests from clients ("Hey, I bought this really neat, oddball tape drive! Can you send me the files you've created on one of these tapes?")
I keep a Compaq Portable 386 to give me a couple of ISA slots (I have an Opus "Personal Mainframe" that is ISA based): <http://www.oldcomputers.net/compaqiii.html
I run virtual machines to support old OS's on newer hardware.
I've got a laptop that has floppy, PCMCIA, S-video, serial, parallel, etc. ports that i use when I have to interface to a piece of equipment "in the field", etc.
The only "generic" machines that I operate tend to be laptops. No particular hardware (peripheral) quirks -- beyond what the manufacturer supports in its drivers. And, only install applications that don't need to access specific types of peripherals.

Yes. And, you have to constantly ask" what am I *gaining* for what I am *losing* (which, at the very least, is a fair bit of time spent reinstalling software on a "new" machine! That, of course, assumes the protection schemes on "portable" and allow your license(s) to be transferred!)
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On Wed, 23 Sep 2015 23:23:52 -0400, "Ralph Mowery"

That is what my last W/98 machine is doing right now. It runs a real nice SCSI scanner, a FAX program that is usually "off" (not answering the phone) and it is my print server. Occasionally I also do some old DOS stuff on it. One of the down sides of W/7 for me is it will not talk to the W/98 machine. In XP it is seamless.

I have a 1.44 drive in my media machine and it is shared as a mappable drive on the network so if I have something looking for an A: drive, I have it. I have a soft copy shop manual for my old truck that needs it.

For most people who were not getting OTA stuff, that was barely noticed. I have pretty much migrated to flat screens now but I still have one CRT in my shop and we just set one on the curb ... working. These days a modest size flat screen is only about $100. I paid $400 for a 58" one the other day.
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On 09/24/2015 02:16 AM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

It can be done but is a bit tricky. Google "windows 7 to windows 98 networking" (without the quotes)
The best solution for me though was to buy my own network storage device.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
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That might be a good solution for net storage but it won't do much for my scanner ;-)
I have a mirrored pair on one of my machines that maintains my common files. I had one of those "toasters" but it was far from trouble free. To start with it required a driver on every machine that used it and that was bugware.
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As the modified subject line says, what follows is pure technobabble...
On 9/24/2015 7:56 AM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I've given up on COTS NAS boxen. They all tend to be "closed" solutions (even those built on FOSS software). A good test is to crash a volume (after having made an offline backup!) and see how painful and successful recovering the volume will be! Then, crash the *appliance* (i.e., imagine the *box* has died) and trying to recover the volume contents on "something else". So, *when* either of these scenarios manifest, you'll know what sort of nightmare you'll encounter! (Hint: rebuilding a multi-TB array can be frighteningly slow -- especially on the underpowered hardware often used for these appliances!)
Instead, I've been designing a "distributed NAS/RAID" system. I use a set of Optiplex FX160's: <
http://gallery.techarena.in/data/513/Dell_FX160_1.JPG
running headless and diskless. External (portable!) USB drives act as the persistent stores. I PXE boot a custom OS/userland that turns them into appliances.
This allows me to serve files via a wide number of protocols: SMB/CIFS, NFS, FTP, HTTP, etc. So, the stores are just seen as bytes -- they don't care if they are accessed from a DOS machine, Windows, OS/X, UN*X, etc.
Daemons running on the boxes (more than one box could be online at any given time, obviously) catalog the contents of the attached volumes. Filename, "container" (which may be a directory *or* the name of an archive "file" -- or, even an archive within an archive!), size, MD5 fingerprint, date of modification, etc. are cataloged and maintained on an RDBMS.
From this, the system can (automatically) determine equivalences; file X on volume Y in container Z is another instance of file A on volume B in container C.
A daemon periodically walks through the filesystem verifying each file is accessible and HAS NOT BEEN CORRUPTED (i.e., it's computed MD5/size agrees with its *stored* MD5/size). So, a user knows that a file is still present (RDBMS catalogs the names of existing files; if a file has gone missing, it will exist in the RDBMS but not on the associated volume in the specified container!). AND, knows that it's contents are still intact -- even if he hasn't tried to access the file recently! (the daemon has done so for him!).
The equivalence relationships allow the system to recover a lost file though this may require human intervention (e.g., if the backup copy exists on another volume attached to a different host that isn't currently powered up, then the user must perform those steps!).
It's not designed to be a highly *performant* solution but, rather, automate what a user would do in an ad hoc manner to preserve large quantities of information without having to herd them into a single appliance: "Crap! My copy of RinTinTin is trashed! Where do I have *a* backup squirreled away? Let me drag out that disk and find the backup. Then, refresh my "original" while I am at it to ensure that I have at least N copies to fall back on!"
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On Thu, 24 Sep 2015 13:14:23 -0700, Don Y

I have lost 2 drives in my mirrored set over the years and recovery was pretty painless. I get a message that a drive has failed. I swap out the bad one (you could hot swap them buy why bother) Power up and the RAID controller sees the drive and restores it while you are off doing other things. I am not sure how long it takes but the next time I look things are fine. I also keep an image of my C: from a fresh load and periodically after that. It is the ultimate "System Restore" that gets around hardware failures and the worst viruses. The "data" drives are backed up many times, including drives in a cabinet
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On 9/24/2015 3:42 PM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

How large are your mirrors? E.g., my music archive is a bit larger than 1TB (plus another 1TB for its mirror); my "software" (purchased) archive is about 2TB (with a 2TB copy); the historical archive for the database used in my current project is 3TB (so a 3TB duplicate); etc. Each of my workstations has at least 1T spinning ("working storage").
Rebuilding a complete mirror of any one drive takes a *long* time.
My USB approach is actually much worse (in terms of potential rebuild time) because it is USB-based. But, putting drives *in* a machine leaves me trapped with that particular type of machine. E.g., I have SATA, SAS, SCA, SCSI-W and PATA drives... which should I "standardize" on?

I image each system as I build it. E.g., after installing the OS. After installing drivers. After installing updates. After installing "core utilities" (like archivers, compressors, etc.). After installing the applications. Then, finally, after configuring the applications.
So, I can roll back to an arbitrary point in the build process and "start over" from that point. (I keep a typewritten log of the build steps *in* the image so I can see what I did to get to a particular point; includes any license activations, etc. so I don't have to revisit the original media unnecessarily -- ISO's kept in that 2T archive)
This is particularly useful with Windows machines. But, also handy with the other boxen that I use -- too hard to keep track of all the little details required for each system, otherwise!
I have two laptops that are configured to automatically restore themselves from a custom image that I hide on a hidden "partition". These are handy for on-line work: any infestation goes away as soon as I reboot.
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On Thu, 24 Sep 2015 18:12:26 -0700, Don Y

I have a 1TB mirrored set that is a little less than half full I didn't think there was a terabyte of music out there ;-) I have over 6000 songs and it is a lot smaller than a TB. Movies are the ones that gobble up bytes.

It happens in the background so I don't care.

These days SATA seems to be the way everyone is going. I have a few SCSI drives but they are tiny compared to newer drives and I don't use them. The last couple machines I bought don't even have PATA ports. I still have a stack of drives tho

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On 9/25/2015 8:17 AM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

My archive is 96K/24b lossless. Far more "expensive" than MP3's (even 320Kb MP3's are small by comparison). I "play" music through "network speakers" throughout the house (like streaming audio, in a sense, but higher fidelity and precision) Rather than transcoding MP3's "on the fly", I've ripped or transcoded all my music "one time" and stored it in this "bigger" format (disk space is cheap!). This cuts down on the processing required in the audio server and the "network speakers".

You are vulnerable to a second failure while the mirror is being rebuilt. What if it dscovers the "mirror copy" is corrupt while reading it to recreate the "primary"?
E.g., RAID5 arrays that incur an error often become irrecoverable before the array can be rebuilt (admittedly, more costly than rebuilding a simple mirror/RAID1)
This is why I have daemons running to verify each file is intact whenever a volume is "spinning" -- so the window in which it can fail is reduced. It also ensures *every* copy of a file (which can be more than one on *a* spindle or more than one spindle!) is checked for integrity -- its not "use the backup if the primary fails (and HOPE the backup hasn't failed BEFORE this but wasn't noticed)"

In the future, there will be something else. My archive spans more than 30 years...

I image machines onto *bare* SATA drives (typically 80 or 160G). I use a USB "dock" to connect the bare drive to the machine in question (when creating or restoring the image). This lets me keep many "image drives" in the same sort of space that 2.5" external USB laptop drives might occupy.
[I like one machine per drive so I don't have to put much structure in the filesystem on the drive: /machineA ./firstImage ./secondImage /machineB ./firstImage ./secondImage vs. an adhesive label ON the drive ("MachineA") with: ./firstImage ./secondImage
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On Fri, 25 Sep 2015 08:48:19 -0700, Don Y

I don't have much that is not backed up on another machine. The mirrored set is just for convenience. My media files are on all of the media machines (4 PCs right now.) That is the bulk of the material. The rest of the stuff is pretty small and easy to keep backed up. A lot of it is in my "cloud" (my web site) buried in a password protected FTP directory you can't navigate to without the URL.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Only in U.S. some IT stuffs are antique. Developing countries don't have those old museum pieces in use. They never seen it or had it.
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Sometimes products, sometimes people.
I saw on the local TV station (in North Carolina) where someone complained and took a new car back because the built in GPS unit would not understand voice commands. While voice reconition has came a long way , I still don't think it is there yet. Sort of like me trying to understand some of the off shore help line people.
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On 9/23/2015 7:24 AM, Ralph Mowery wrote:

It depends on whether you are looking for "limited domain" recognition or completely unconstrained recognition. Also, the amount of "smarts" you put into the vocabulary qualifier in each system.
For example, words like almond and salmon are often mispronounced. Regional dialects can make BIG changes in how even simple things are said (some places say "mash", others say "maysh"; the 'r' sound differs from Boston to NYC to damn near everywhere else; "oil" --> "earl", etc.) Some words defy pronunciation rules (Worcester --> wooster, Billerica --> billricka, Berlin --> BURlin or burLIN). Some subcultures alter the pronunciation of words (INsurance vs. inSURance, POlice vs. poLICE).
But, if you *integrate* the application with the speech recognizer, you can get significantly improved performance. E.g., a driver might command "Radio ON" or "Radio OFF" or "CD On" etc. But, you wouldn't expect him to say "Radio own" or "Radio fluff". So, don't consider words other than those you *expect* to encounter when you do the analysis/recognition. If a user genuinely says "Radio own", it's sort of OK for you to MISrecognize that as "Radio on"! :>
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On 9/22/2015 5:55 PM, Don Y wrote:

But, wouldn't you at least expect the average user to know what a plug/power chord is?

A long time ago there were some issues with a particular public database list was crashing. No one could figure out why it was doing that, so one day I had some time on my hands and thought I'd give it a try and see if I could figure it out. It turns out that the back end of the DB list had a flaw. When a new list title was created with a particular symbol that was actually invisible when created, that symbol would crash the list. It could only be seen from looking at the list from the back end, not the public view. If that new list item was deleted from the DB, the list could then be refreshed and returned to normal working view.
Some people thought it was funny to crash the list, but no one tried to fix it because they thought it was some big mystery. I'm not even a major techie when it comes to stuff like that, but I like to analyze and solve problems. Kind of even surprised myself when I fixed the issue. Then I passed on the solution to the others who needed to know.
I guess I think it's not so hard to do that sort of stuff, but then again being analytical is kind of normal for me. Many people just aren't analytical.
--
Maggie

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On 9/22/2015 8:47 PM, Muggles wrote:

My neighbor's mom had some car problems. She brought the car over to the neighbor's house. Neighbor went out to take a peek: "Mom, how do you open the hood?" "Gee, I don't know! When I take it to the gas station, the guy just does THIS (puts arms out at her sides like a priest inviting his congregation to pray) and *poof*, it opens!"

There are lots of cases of software not properly handling "unexpected" input. Business wants to lower the quality of individuals they "need" for any given task. Just like McDonald's has a cash register that features *pictures* of the food items (so the operators don't have to THINK about what they are doing -- 5 hamburgers? Just press teh hamburger button 5 times!), software is moving towards a "black box" implementation style.
Which is fine. *If* the black boxes are well defined and folks completely understand how they operate. If, OTOH, they just "kinda" know what the box is supposed to do (and imagine that it does all the "other stuff" exactly the way they happen to NEED it to be done, at this point in time), then you're in for a rude awakening when it craps out.
Just because you happen to think A then B then C then D doesn't mean the real world (or real users!) will comply with that expected behavior!

In school, damn near every course had its own "custom" computer system (this predates the PC). Each professor had his own idea how a computer system should work, etc.
The system for one of my classes had two disk drives (volumes): 0 and 1 (sort of like C: and D:). If you asked the system to show you the contents of disk *2*, it died.
But, back then, we were using dot matrix printing terminals (DECwriters). So, it took a while for everything the computer had "sent" to your terminal to actually get printed. There were ~30-40 of these attached to the computer all residing in the "lab" where we did our homework.
The favorite trick was to finish YOUR homework assignment in the wee hours of the morning (when all the "staff" was home, asleep) and then list disk 2 and calmly walk out of the room -- listening to the printers stopping, one by one, as you walked down the hall. Then, the groans from the remaining students who knew they could not finish their homework by morning (machine is dead until someone comes in to reboot it!)

Exactly. Many people want to be told "the answer". And, if not spoon fed that answer, just sit in "pause" mode waiting for it!
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On 9/23/2015 12:10 AM, Don Y wrote:

LOL

yeah, that's for sure. I used to train people to do specific tasks. Many people could learn the tasks, but more often then not I had to alter the material being used to teach them and re-present it to them in a more dumbed down fashion. Everyone was different and it always required me to find out how they learned before they'd understand the tasks they were learning. There was only 1 person who couldn't learn the material no matter how I presented it to him.

LOL not nice!

In school I was always asked to show my work on how I solved a particular problem. I used to love to diagram sentences!
--
Maggie

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On 9/23/2015 7:56 AM, Muggles wrote:

In general, your process should tolerate folks doing things in whatever order suits them -- or the circumstances under which they are operating. You can *choose* to train them to do things in a particular order. But, it is rarely a good idea to *force* that order on them *in* the product.
E.g., when I fill out my income taxes, I don't start at line 1 and proceed through all lines in sequential order. I *rarely* fill in my name and address until the return is complete (why bother filling it in if I might end up having to start over on a fresh form?) So, forcing me to do A then B then C is wasteful and regarded as an unnecessary constraint. What if I can't recall my SSN? Does that mean I can't fill out the form until I've recovered it??

I went to an engineering school. This was almost expected behavior. If you weren't probing to see how things worked (or didn't) you probably should have been an accountant, not an engineer!

Yes. As a kid, it was *stressed* -- you'd often receive a fair portion of the "credit" for an answer if you showed your work and the teacher could see where your mistake crept in. By contrast, if you just write down your "answer", then the teacher is left with a simple go/nogo decision. (If the answer is 37, then 25 is wrong; not 46% wrong!)
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On 9/23/2015 10:08 AM, Don Y wrote:

That all makes total sense to me.
[...]

hmmm maybe I should have been an engineer!
[...]
--
Maggie

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On 9/23/2015 8:19 AM, Muggles wrote:

Naw, you probably wouldn't like the company you'd have to keep! ;-)
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On 9/23/2015 10:46 AM, Don Y wrote:

Really? I like details and figuring things out that other people say "can't be done". :)
--
Maggie

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