Planet Xdroop

March 24, 2015

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Blather Blog

Religious Doctors

So if* Ontario doctors win the right to A) refuse to provide a particular treatment on the grounds of religious freedom AND B) refuse to refer their patients to doctors who will provide said treatment, will patients get the right to interrogate their doctors on their religious beliefs before or during any consultation or treatment planning?

Seems to me they'd have to.  You can't have it both ways -- if you have a religious right that may directly influence a course of treatment you may or may not propose and/or carry out, I as the patient should have the right to be fully informed as to where your influences are coming from.

Alternatively, if some doctors want freedom of religion, and that religion precludes them performing some of the duties of being a doctor, maybe the correct resolution of this conflict is for those people to recognize they can't be doctors in Ontario.

It is one thing to say "I don't believe it is right for me to do this" and quite another to say "I don't believe it is right for anyone to do this".  Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose; in this case the practice of these religions is affecting other, probably non-practitioners, and I think that the right to practice your religion ends at my health care.

* = I don't think it will come to that.

by David Mackintosh (noreply@blogger.com) at March 24, 2015 07:45 AM

March 20, 2015

Blather Blog

Migration Contemplation -- An Even Crazier Idea

So it occurs to me: if a Mac, ie new hardware, is on the table, why not consider doing something really stupid?


I mean, yeah, no half-measures here.  If you want portable, let's get portable.

But exactly how stupid an idea would it be?
  • It has a small display.
  • RAM is limited to 8GB.
  • Storage is limited to 512GB.
  • It is totally non-upgradable.
  • It fails the "too small to be a primary computer test", but does so so convincingly that the lack of heft becomes a virtue, not a liability.
On the positive side:
  • It is ultra-portable.  It is small.  I like small.  My first laptop was an "executive" laptop, something that became one of the first "Ultrabooks" before those started to bloat into whatever they have become.  This would be small.
  • There pretty much isn't anything I do today that I couldn't do with this.  It would pass all my criteria for staying with Windows.  I could even fit all my current storage needs into it, although barely -- and the form factor would mean that most of my VM'ing would be pointless and those things could go.
  • You can get an i7, which should be enough horsepower to get me around for a few years..
  • It has an available docking station with multiple USB ports, a Gb interface, and a video out, and can apparently run two external 1080p monitors at the same time that the main display is running.  So I could probably buy a third monitor and do two monitors natively plus a third through USB, and have the tablet display turned off while it was docked.
But it's probably expensive, right?
    Oh.

    Oh, my.

    Help, this isn't looking like a stupid idea after all.

    by David Mackintosh (noreply@blogger.com) at March 20, 2015 09:00 AM

    March 19, 2015

    Blather Blog

    Migration Contemplation -- Why No Mac?


    So after yesterday's post on migrating to Linux, one of my Twitter wags tosses this at me:


    And on paper, the Mac looks attractive.  However, if you start with considerations like:
    • I'll be runnng VMware, so I need CPU
    • I need more than 256GB or 512GB of storage
    • This is my primary computer, so a small 13-inch display probably isn't going to cut it
    • I can be out of my office for long periods of time, so I can't have a baby laptop on the road and a "real" computer at the office
    ...you end up with something like this:


    In other words, I have to go to my boss and tell him I want to spend $4500 on a laptop.  And that's a minimum -- I could probably make an argument for the faster CPU options.  Forget considerations like I'll probably want more than 16GB and 1TB before the end of this proposal's lifetime.

    So yeah, that's not going to fly.  Considering my current i7 is almost five years old, I somehow doubt there's budget money for that kind of computer.  Although if I open negotiations with this, I can probably be "talked down" to a i7, 16GB, 1TB-SSD, 1080p that will come in under $3K from HP or Lenovo.

    Realistically if I could increase the RAM in this HP from 8GB to 16GB I'd be set for at least a while, but that's not possible with this particular hardware.

    Anyways, kids, that is why Macs don't get mentioned by me.

    by David Mackintosh (noreply@blogger.com) at March 19, 2015 05:29 PM

    March 18, 2015

    Blather Blog

    Considering Migration -- or, Why I Run Windows, 2015

    One of the kids at the office is all keen to have me move my primary laptop to Linux.

    Linux is where I started at this company, my first laptop ran Mandrake, and a moved through a succession of Fedora Cores over the years.  I did stupid things like runing Ximian Desktop and keeping a bodged set of RPMs of olvwm cobbled together.

    Abe speaks the truth
    What did it for me was when I started to get into the family way; I lost the time to fiddle with things.  I had other things to do with my life after work hours.  Tools started to get in the way of work, and when the world moved on it inevitably left me behind with broken messes.

    When that happens to someone, Windows is the perfect environment because it doesn't change very fast, it is bog-standard, it does a lot of things adequately well despite not having much in the way of customization available, and for the most part one can just bother the helpdesk staff when there is a problem.  I've certainly done that over the past few years.  "This is broken and I can't figure out why", is what I tell them.  Sometimes they can help; sometimes they can't.  But it stops being my problem to solve.

    For the most part, the things I said back in 2008 are still true, except that today it is Windows 8.1 Pro instead of Windows 7 Pro.  But still.  One wonders if running Windows is a Socially Responsible Choice or if I am part of the disintegration of society.  And when someone comes along with an alternative, it can be attractive.

    So first of all -- why am I considering this?
    • Windows 8.1 on this hardware is less stable than Windows 7 was.  I am stuck with phantom hangs, mysterious refusals to boot, phantom 100%-cpu-usages that don't have any obvious offenders, occasional crashes, and I've already fought with anti-virus.  My perception here is that I'm spending more time than I should fighting my tools when I need to be working.
    • Much of what I actually do day-to-day and hour-to-hour is in terminals to unix systems.  Changing to linux would let me do mosh connections in a much more robust, native way.
    • Plus there's the ability to try different window managers.  I like the idea of ratpoison, I wonder if I would actually like working with it.
    On the other hand, why might I not want to do this?
    • I have the boot drive encrypted with BitLocker.  This isn't the most secure thing in the world, but it is an order of magnitude better than the nothing that most people run with.
    • Windows almost certainly handles the hardware use cases better than Linux.  My concerns here are the usual suspend/unsuspend, dock/undock, multiple monitors, and network behaviors including 802.1X wifi authentication.  I shouldn't have to think about any of that, and for the most part, I don't with Windows.  My battery life is pretty poor right now, and I somehow doubt that running Linux will improve it any.
    • Plus the special hell that printing always is on Linux.
    • The Office infrastructure is pretty embedded.  We use Sharepoint, Word, and Outlook corporately.  I use Excel and OneNote pretty heavily and my corporate data is backed up using OneDrive.  I'd be forced into a VM for proper native use of these tools; for some of them I could probably find open-source replacements.
    • I use GoogleDrive to share some files from home with my work system.
    • Our company uses a windows-based online backup tool for backups that wouldn't work with Linux; one way or another I'd have to spend some time re-inventing that particular wheel.
    • Like it or not, there are still some web interfaces that only work properly in IE.
    • I like my desktop environment.  I have all the gadgets I like in a sidebar, and sourcing and configuring Linux replacements would be a pain.  I especially like the countdown gadget that tells me when the pager is coming back to me (or, while I have it, how long until I can get rid of it).
    • This laptop is five years old now and will probably be replaced with something newer.  So while the hardware in this laptop is probably fairly well understood by the linux community, new laptops almost always have terrible hardware support; it would be frustrating to go from Windows to Linux, only to be forced back to Windows when the new computers come.
    • Frankly I don't like the idea of Ubuntu, and that would probably be what I'd be running.  CentOS is more of a server-OS that wouldn't give me as good an experience.
    • And yeah, there's the whole "we fear change" joke that's funny because it is true.
    So how viable is this?  Here is what I have open right now:
    • IE for the sharepoint site.  I'd lose the tight integration with Word from Sharepoint if I went to Linux, or I would be forced into a VM.
    • Firefox.  Available on Linux
    • Chrome.  Possibly available on Linux, it seems to vary.  I seem to recall that CentOS 6.x has been declared too old for Chrome.
    • Outlook.  Well it turns out that the OWA interface isn't as terrible as it used to be.  So that might be usable.
    • VisionAPP which I am using as a Remote Desktop Protocol multiplexer.  RDP sessions used to be pretty terrible under Linux, and with the current infestation of Windows servers showing no sign of abating that's a serious concern.
    • Skype.  There is allegedly Linux support for Skype, although I'll bet you that it isn't anywhere near top-tier support.
    • MobaXterm, which I am using for mosh sessions.  No concerns here.
    • tftpd-64.  I'm using it as a syslog target today, but all of its functions are available in Linux much more natively.
    • Excel.  Although I only use this for tables, rarely for calculations or graphing or fancy things like that, I do have to share those excel files with others.  So that'll either be a VM thing or something that I have to have strict compatibility with, which rules out OpenOffice.
    • FortiClient -- for VPNs to FortiGate firewalls.
    • OneNote.  I've been putting notes into this daily for two years now, so at the very least I have to be able to access that information; ideally all that data would be exportable into whatever I chose to replace it with.
    • OneDrive.  This is where my corporate data is stored.  There is no way that there will be a Linux solution for this.
    • Our corporate backup tool.  This is a wheel that would require reinventing.
    • Gadwin PrintScreen.  I presume screen-capture software exists in the linux world...
    • PasswordSafe -- one of my customers distributes passwords with this app, and while I hate it (KeePass is much nicer as an app, and I use LastPass in my web browser), that's the tool they use.  So I'd probably have to run that in a VM.
    • iCloud -- running but not configured.  It would mean that either my iOS devices would have to be managed from a VM or a computer at home instead of this one.
    • GoogleDrive -- don't know what the state of support for that is.
    • Paegent -- native functions are available in Linux.
    Things that I run frequently that would have to be dealt with:
    • vSphere client -- since my VMware environments are all 5.1 or older, I'm stuck with the non-flash interface.  So that has to run in a VM.
    • Our helpdesk sharing software is a Bomgar.  Don't know if there is Linux support.
    • Couple of versions of Juniper Network Connect.  However they get run in VMs today.
    • There are other things installed, but for the most part these are tools installed to fake a Linux environment or tools that came from unix originally like ncftp or wireshark.
    So, any show-stoppers?  I guess if I wanted to run a VM (or VMs) then there's really no software reason to hold back.  I could even get Workstation running and do the seamless desktop integration thing.  Thing is, I don't run a VM all the time today, and running a VM all the time would feel like a hack.  I would have to commit RAM to the VM that my desktop couldn't use, and once that was exhaused I'd be swapping.  Since my current platform is Windows, then all the RAM is available if needed, and any Linux VM I run will be small -- rarely more than 2GB because I don't need more for what I do locally and if I do need more I have access to bigger machines/VMs to run on.

    As far as my hardware/OS complaints go, eventually I'll get a new laptop and the hardware complaints should will go away.  And Windows 10 is supposed to be the shit when it comes out.

    I don't actually have time to do anything about this right now because I'm too busy, and I wonder if this mental exercise is more about hiding from the things I should be doing instead.

    But really, after writing all this out, I don't see a compelling need to change.  Maybe if we had a second laptop that was similarly powered to this one I could run them both in parallel for a while, but I suspect I'd be continually reaching for the Windows computer to get things done.

    The kid at the office is going to be sooooo disappointed.

    by David Mackintosh (noreply@blogger.com) at March 18, 2015 10:00 PM

    Review: Run All Night

    Shooty shooty bang bang.  Fathers do bad things that they don't want their sons to do, and sons hate their fathers for the choices made beyond their control.  Although a bit gratuitously violent, the number of so-called "innocent" victims is probably very small, except for a number of cops who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.  So it was OK, but I still don't think I liked it because I'm getting old.

    Unrelated, the sound of the bass in that particular theater was terrible.  All of the explosions in the previews sounded like they were explosions in the next theater except cranked up to be audible in this one.  Hugely distorted.  Wasn't as bad through the movie, but I think that was more due to the nature of the movie than the sound system.

    by David Mackintosh (noreply@blogger.com) at March 18, 2015 07:00 PM

    TV: Programming Note

    What we're watching, winter 2015:
    • Sleepy Hollow
    • Elementary
    • Resurrection (until it finished)
    • Agent Carter (and I assume that's finished too, we just have not caught up yet)
    • Agents of Shield
    • Criminal Minds
    • Big Bang Theory
    • The Odd Couple
    • Gotham
    • The Flash
    • Castle
    • Stalker

    by David Mackintosh (noreply@blogger.com) at March 18, 2015 06:28 PM