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Gene Kim on scheduled maintenance

The excellent book The Phoenix Project has a choice quote that stuck with me.

In this scenario, the Yoda-like character asks the hero to imagine a company that makes deliveries. If the trucks break down, the deliveries stop, right? So you change the oil, since not changing the oil causes trucks to break down.

“Metaphors like oil changes help people make that connection. Preventative oil changes and maintenance policies are like preventative vendor patches and change management policies. By showing how IT risks jeopardize business performance measures, you can start making better business decisions.”

Read More »Gene Kim on scheduled maintenance

The problem with Lifehacker’s computer manufacturer ranking

Lifehacker posted a controversial computer manufacturer ranking this week. I’m not sure how you can rank anything with Apple, HP, and Dell in it and not be controversial–someone’s going to be offended that their favorite isn’t at the top and their least favorite isn’t dead last–and while I agree with it more than I disagree with it, there are at least three problems with it.

So, let’s go.Read More »The problem with Lifehacker’s computer manufacturer ranking

Forget the word “should.”

After talking with another former classmate/newsroom-mate, I wanted to bring out the highlight from yesterday. I’m not saying this would have saved Brian, but it was life-changing for me, and I’d say there’s probably a 10% chance it can be life-changing for you, too. If you’re one of the 90%, it’s more likely to be merely helpful.

The problem is the word “should.” And while I generally think striking words from the English language is a bad idea because language control is thought control, this is one instance where I don’t think thought control is a bad thing. “Should” is a club that we use to beat ourselves up with far too often.Read More »Forget the word “should.”

Goodbye Amazon Affiliates, hello Viglink

I’ve been an Amazon affiliate for more than a decade, which meant that if I mentioned a product, posted a link to Amazon and someone clicked the link and bought it, I got a little bit of money. It didn’t make me rich, but in a good year, I made a couple hundred dollars, which paid for the upkeep of the site.

Well, Amazon and the state of Missouri are fighting, so Amazon is discontinuing the affiliate program for Missouri residents. The loss won’t break me, but by the same token, it’s nice to have that money coming in to pay for things like equipment upgrades. I found Viglink, and I’m going to give that a try.

Read More »Goodbye Amazon Affiliates, hello Viglink

EMET protects against what your antivirus cannot–and it’s free

A few years ago, Microsoft quietly released a security tool called EMET–the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit. EMET is now in version 4.0, and it’s probably the best security tool you’ve never heard of. And that’s a real shame.

Modern versions of Windows and modern CPUs include several security-enhancing technologies that aren’t necessarily switched on by default. EMET is a wrapper that forces software to use these technologies, even if they weren’t designed from the get-go to use them. The idea, then, is that if a badly behaving data file tries to exploit a traditional vulnerability in one of these programs, EMET steps in and shuts it down. A real-world example would be if you visit a web page that’s playing a malicious Flash video, or that contains a malicious Acrobat PDF. The malicious data loads, starts to execute, and the minute it misbehaves, EMET slams the browser tab shut. You won’t know right away what happened, but your computer didn’t get infected, either.Read More »EMET protects against what your antivirus cannot–and it’s free

Snickering at the Emachine

For several years, I administered a command and control system for the U.S. Air Force. I sat in a datacenter, surrounded by racks jam-packed full of servers, and they kept the building at 64 degrees year round. I quickly learned to keep a jacket handy. I did several things, but mostly patch management.

Our system consisted of a diverse collection of Dell 1U and 5U servers, HP blades, and a couple of Sun SPARC boxes. It was a professional-looking setup, and except for the times we were doing massive system upgrades, the system generally worked as well as it looked.

Then we got a neighbor.

Read More »Snickering at the Emachine

Notes on the Compaq Presario SR2011WM

I’ve been working on a Compaq Presario SR2011WM. It’s a basic, low-end, single-core Celeron D system from 2006 or so. It can take up to 2 GB of RAM, runs Windows XP adequately, and has SATA ports, so you can put an SSD in it if you want. But don’t be fooled by the name–the Celeron in this machine is single core, and has a Prescott-era Pentium 4 core in it at that, not a low-TDP, Pentium D-style core.

In case you’re wondering, the easiest way to get it to boot from USB is to plug in a USB drive, hit ESC as the system runs POST, then select your USB drive from the menu.

Now let’s talk about options for upgrades.Read More »Notes on the Compaq Presario SR2011WM