* Posts by Paul Rafferty

4 publicly visible posts • joined 18 Jul 2007

Helpdesk Heroes or unappreciated geeks?

Paul Rafferty

A long time ago...

I took a job in a financial house in Dublin. Day one, I remember the overly smiley boss walk me into a room that had no windows, where three incredibly stressed-out helpdesk staff were on the ceaselessly ringing telephones. After 20 minutes of waiting to get a chance to introduce myself, I found myself picking up the 4th telephone and saying, "...er, good morning, you're through to the helpdesk" and getting an earful from the other end. The next 3 hours (I'm not kidding) were spent picking up the phone, writing down details, hanging up the phone which immediately rang, and repeating the process. By lunch time I had a nice little list of 'things to do'. Thus began, what was to be, a daily occurance.

I found within about a week, that they were imaging their NT workstations using some weird archaic software. They only had three types of PC hardware, but around nine NT builds, none of which had been updated in over a year. All had huge problems, like failed software installations, hard-coded WINS entries and 'previous' user profiles. Complete mess. I remember building one and realising that several apps didn't work. "Oh, that must be the Market Data build. Yeah, you're better off using the Valuations build and installing EDW on it."

Solution: Create one NT Workstation build with ALL software perfectly installed and configured. Install ALL disk controller & network card drivers, enabling them only in certain 'hardware profiles' (remember them?). The result was an image that worked on all PCs in any department (only breaking one or two licenses). I burned a bootable imaging CD and made four copies. "Every problem you get, no matter how small, use this CD." A few months later, you could hear a pin drop in that office.

Feedback from overly smiley boss: "I'm failing you in this performance review. You've been coming in late."

Bug exposes eight years of Linux kernel

Paul Rafferty


In reply to some of the previous comments:

Linux is mainstream in the datacenter. 'Finding' bugs and exploits requires advanced coding skills. The source is open. If you ask me, this makes it more secure. Closed source software might be full of bugs and exploits, but without being able to see the code you'll never know. Security through obscurity.

The popularity of Linux on the desktop will cause it to become less secure, but that's because a desktop OS needs additional bells and whistles. For example, Flash Player (closed source) has been the preferred attack vector at recent hacking tournaments. The kernel usually has its vulnerabilities fixed pretty quickly. Plus, you can compile your own kernel and leave out all of the 'bits' you don't want, making it smaller, faster and more secure. You don't have this option with closed source software.

"And seeing as OSX is a variant of *nix does this affect them as well?"

Being a varient of *nix has nothing to do with the Linux kernel. OSX doesn't use the Linux kernel. Neither does Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, BSD or any other Unix.

"isnt it wierd how no matter how serious the bug is when it is on linux its not a problem..dont worry the community will save us!!!!"

I love the spelling, grammar and multiple use of exclamation marks. You do a service to all MS "fanbois", but you don't seem to have any grasp of 'how serious the bug is' either. Lame.

Apple tablet unveiling brought forward

Paul Rafferty

The tablet's time may have come...

Last time tablet PCs tried to take over the world, they didn't have the benefit of the Netbook legacy. What netbooks have proven is that it is possible to build a cheap, light and underpowered computer and turn a profit. But while netbooks popularized the pixie-computer, I think they chose the wrong format. Are we about to see the slate PC take over the world?

Seriously, imagine a 9" multi-touch slate PC, built to be as light as possible...

- no optical drive

- no keyboard.

- 32GB flash hard disk

- 2 e-SATA ports

- 4 USB

- Bluetooth + WiFi

- Multitouch display

By designing the shell so the ports are aligned with an cheap dock, the device could be extended with SATA hard disk and blu-ray, USB network adapter & pass-through ports. I WANT ONE! ...Provided that it'll run the OS I choose, that is.

How green is my V-word?

Paul Rafferty

A few crucial details are missing from this article...

1. There is a significant reduction of metal & plastic in a virtualised environment in comparison to a non-virtualised environment.

2. The virtualised environment requires less human labour, transport costs and fuel usage to set up. The same applies to upgrades (which are no virtual too) and future server deployments.

3. The ability to migrate a virtual server to another country without any physical movement of parts.

In short, less metal, less fuel, and easier management. Also, while I agree that it's unwise to compare a good VM infrastructure with a badly set up datacentre, it's still pretty obvious that a server room that has been designed to cool you virtualisation kit is going to be 'greener' than a larger server room with a larger number of physical servers in it.