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Networking Education IT

Behind the Scenes at MIT's Network 118

Posted by Zonk
from the mighty-interesting-technology dept.
BobB writes "MIT's head of computer networks and security gives an inside look at how the techie school is fending off hackers, cranking up its network to handle voice over IP and become a fiber network operator to link to other research institutions. From the article: 'Q - How do you actually enforce security standards among MIT's departments and network users? A - Enforce is not a word you can use at MIT. We try to entice people to do the right thing. We've made a lot of progress. We've removed the financial incentive to run your own network, which used to be cheaper than having us do it. We've been a cost-recovery network since forever now though. At many universities the network is free and they just fund it out of operating costs.'"
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Behind the Scenes at MIT's Network

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  • by zappepcs (820751) on Friday January 19, 2007 @12:13PM (#17682948) Journal
    FTFA:
    Q:.. I know MIT has not been immune to breaches either, but what do you think when you hear about new breaches like these?

    A:.. The problem we all have is the Microsoft patch of the week. I hate to say it, but it's sort of the payback for universities not paying attention to security for decades or being sloppy about administrative computing. ....

    Not that MS is the only problem, but they helped secure that mentality. I don't think Linux would have made it easier or better either. He goes on to talk about use of SSNs and other bad ideas. If only businesses would listen to this type of advice!!
    • by TodMinuit (1026042) <todminuit@nosPAM.gmail.com> on Friday January 19, 2007 @12:18PM (#17683030)
      If only businesses would listen to this type of advice!!

      If only consumers would demand that business listen to this type of advice.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bugg (65930)

        If only ideas were evaluated on their merit, rather than based on the amount of money people can throw towards them.

        "Market forces" don't guarantee smart outcomes, especially given that smart isn't correlated with wealthy.

    • I don't think Linux would have made it easier or better either. I don't have to reboot as often when patching in Linux vs MS and OS X (yes, I have all three). That offers a bit of an advantage, in the sense of the lack of downtime encouraging patching more often (after testing, naturally)
  • by mabu (178417) on Friday January 19, 2007 @12:20PM (#17683066)
    FTA:

    What about dealing with wireless on campus these days?

    We recently started surveying our community about what mobile devices they are using, how they are using them, etc. We have a team of people worrying about this.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rucs_hack (784150)
      Wireless on a whole campus? Wow. Is that standard in the US?
      At my uni we have wireless within the CS dept only, and that only within a small part of the building. It's monumentally shit.
      • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Friday January 19, 2007 @12:43PM (#17683418) Homepage Journal
        It's becoming standard. Heck, my CITY [oregonlive.com] is going wireless, and this article says the building I work in will be covered by MetroFi in the next 4 months.
        • by identity0 (77976)
          Woo, another Portlander... Portland State University's had a campus-wide wireless thing for a while now, at least couple of years. It's acceptable - they don't seem to cap even bittorrent, and the bandwidth is good.

          OTOH, I hear from my friends in the networking dept. that security on the regualr network in general is a mess outside of the most important stuff like student records and mail. Mostly they have problem with random faculty members putting up their own servers or demanding school servers, and gett
      • by Kadin2048 (468275) <`ten.yxox' `ta' `nidak.todhsals'> on Friday January 19, 2007 @12:49PM (#17683524) Homepage Journal
        It's not "standard," but there are places that do it. Generally small campuses, or ones that didn't build-out wired infrastructure when they should have, and are now trying to catch up and be 'wired' using 802.11 as a substitute for a real copper network.

        I know there are quite a few schools deploying it strategically, which seems like a good plan. It only takes a few minutes walking around a college campus to realize that there are a few key places where wireless would be most useful, and a lot of places where it would probably be underutilized. Libraries are huge -- go into any uni library and you'll see rows of people typing away on laptops. If you can't afford to put an Ethernet drop at every study carroll, wireless is the next best thing. (Well, actually, both would be best.) Study lounges and communal spaces are probably next, followed by cafeterias and big lecture halls (if you want to encourage people to use laptops in class; some schools might have faculty that would rather discourage that). In warm climates, outdoor locations can be great locations for Wifi, too.

        But deploying it all over a large campus would, for most schools, be impractical. It would take too many base stations and would cost too much for the number of users you'd probably have at a time on most of them. I think if you did roll it out everywhere, you'd probably find pretty quickly that some nodes took huge amounts of load, while others were basically never used. For this reason, most large places with a competent IT staff don't just shotgun it all over campus, but are more selective.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Jjeff1 (636051)
          MIT has deployed wireless all over the place [mit.edu]. I go there once a year for the MIT Mystery Hunt [mit.edu]. I was amazed last year as part of the hunt took us into a boiler room deep inside the basement of some building. The boiler room was a maze of pipes and of questionable safety, but screwed to the wall was a WAP; in the boiler room.
          • That's actually not all that unusual. Building Automation [automatedlogic.com] is definitely taking MAJOR advantage of Wireless Technologies. So, that WAP you saw in the boiler room is probably associated with the Building Automation System and thus very unlikely to be connected to the internet and DEFINITELY not connected to MIT's Intranet.

            Wireless solutions are being deployed much more frequently in newer buildings and also in older facilities in lieu of having to replace devices that are depracated and run new wires (bo
            • Knowing the likelihood of MIT students to be in boiler rooms and other such locations, it would not surprise me in the least to find that you can, in fact, pick up a wireless internet connection there. Whether or not that particular WAP was involved is another question.
          • by yppiz (574466) *
            I remember heading down to one of the mechanical rooms (possibly the same one you saw) that leads to the long steam tunnel and seeing an RJ-11 ethernet wall-jack back in the mid-90s. This was at a time when my entire campus was connected to the internet via a 56k microwave link that would go down every time it rained.

            Was I envious? Just a bit.
            • by Jjeff1 (636051)
              It was in the basement of building 9. I can't remember the room. There was one place where you had to climb a short flight of stairs to walk along a wooden platform over a 3 or 4 foot pipe. But above you was another similar pipe, you had to crouch down to fit between.
      • by Overzeetop (214511) on Friday January 19, 2007 @01:01PM (#17683740) Journal
        Not quite "everywhere", but Virginia Tech has it in most places on campus (~30k students over a pretty big area). It's pretty fast, even in well-populated areas. Interestingly, the hardwired, general access 10bT ports are no faster than the wireless, as I found out one day when I figured I might get a speed boost while d/l a new knoppix image off a (known) very fast server. Still peaked at 3Mb - really no better than my DSL at the office. Go figure.
        • by zerocool^ (112121)
          A 10 base T port wouldn't be faster than a decent wireless connection, but I was under the impression that there weren't many of them left on campus, that almost all the ports were now either 100-base Tx or gig-e.

          I run the CS department's mirror (http://mirror.cs.vt.edu) at VT, and I have contacted the Knoppix folks about becoming an official mirror. I never got a response, and got lazy and never set up my mirror server to mirror knoppix. I'll look into it; you could then download it off of my server at (
      • My Uni has gone overboard when it comes to wireless.

        We have a access point in every room and two in lecture theatres.
        You can get a decent connection half way in to the city!
      • by quanticle (843097)

        I don't know about the rest of the country, but at my school (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities) we have large outdoor area with wifi, and almost all of the buildings have wireless internet as well.

        However, the building wireless networks are controlled by the departments that reside in the buildings, so, while there is internet, you may not be able to access it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Stevecrox (962208)
        I thought MIT was the big tech University, at my Uni (University of Plymouth (UK)) we've had a wireless network that covers the ENTIRE campus, its powerfull enough that you can actually still pick it up in the city centre (I keep meaning to investigate that because I can pick it up a quater of a mile away and that sure as hell breaks the 802.11g spec.)

        Plymouth University isn't small (about 30000 students enroled) because of the cost of notes the IT department modifed MS Exchange and started putting all le
        • by yandros (38911) on Friday January 19, 2007 @03:30PM (#17686464) Homepage
          MIT has had wireless networking essentially everywhere for about 10 years now.

          The article is talking about efforts to develop and support new uses. In particular, it is surveying new uses for wireless devices at the moment (the most public being an opt-in program that will tell you where your friends are connected to the network in real time).

      • At Iowa State University we have wireless over our entire campus - including our 50 acre central campus green. Here is a map [iastate.edu] that shows all of the APs. The overall service is really good - both for signal strength and bandwidth.
      • by zerocool^ (112121)

        I work for the Computer Science department at Virginia Tech (www.cs.vt.edu).

        Our campus networking people (communications network services, or CNS) run all our networking and telephone services, and they have FULL campus coverage for 802.11 wireless. They use positional testers to make sure that all indoor areas have full signals. They use full cisco systems access points, and power-over-ethernet to ensure that they can put them pretty much everywhere.

        All classrooms, libraries, dorms and cafeterias on VT's
  • Public IPs (Score:5, Informative)

    by avalys (221114) on Friday January 19, 2007 @12:24PM (#17683116)
    The cool thing about MIT is that they own the entire 18.0.0.0/8 Class A address space, so every device on campus has a public IP.

    And all computers (even student machines) are connected directly to the Internet - no NAT, no firewall, no protocol limitations, no bandwidth caps.

    The catch is that all computers need to have a registered MAC address in order to get on the network, so if your Windows machine gets infected with a virus, they can disconnect you in a hurry.

    • by JimXugle (921609)
      Easy Solution... ban Windows.

      Linux FTW!!! /duck
    • Re:Public IPs (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Zackbass (457384) on Friday January 19, 2007 @12:45PM (#17683450)
      All computers on that use DHCP need registered MACs, if you've got a static IP there's no need at least as far as my experience has been.

      IST does a damn fine job, the stakes on having the network running smoothly are quite high and they get it done, but more importantly is the amount of freedom they allow. We've got the most heterogeneous environment I can think of with hundreds of Course 6ers looking for new ways to bend the network and Course 15s finding new ways to try to break it. There's everything from half broken 486s to Playstation 3s running SVN repositories to completely custom embedded devices sitting all over the network (not that they support these devices) running like a well oiled machine.
      • by mdboyd (969169)
        IST? Are you sure you don't mean ITS?

        As far as DHCP needing registered MACs, you're half right. If you need your computer to only use one IP address, then yes, you would need to "lock-in" a MAC address to that IP in the DHCP configuration. If you don't mind who gets what IP, you can just set up a pool of addresses and let DHCP assign leases to those addresses for a period of time -- not good for something such as a web server. The latter is what most home routers do for wired connections.
        • by mdboyd (969169)
          Nevermind about IST/ITS.. i realize now you were talking about the school of IST and their research... my apologies
          • No, there's no school of IST... The people who run networking at MIT used to just be called Information Services (I/S), but are now called Information Services and Technology (IST). It's not an academic department, it's the same as the IT dept at most schools.
        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by Aerion (705544)
          IST? Are you sure you don't mean ITS?

          As far as DHCP needing registered MACs, you're half right. If you need your computer to only use one IP address, then yes, you would need to "lock-in" a MAC address to that IP in the DHCP configuration. If you don't mind who gets what IP, you can just set up a pool of addresses and let DHCP assign leases to those addresses for a period of time -- not good for something such as a web server. The latter is what most home routers do for wired connections.


          The parent poster i
        • As other people have said but not as clearly, grandparent was talking about MIT's particular setup.

          You do need to register your MAC to get a public IP address over DHCP, because they do keep track of who has which IP (legal and administrative reasons).

          "IST" was a typo for IS&T = Information Services and Technology, the network-running people at MIT.

          -geofft.mit.edu (18.242.0.29).

          18.242.*.* is my dorm. That's 65536 IP addresses for under 400 residents.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by curlynoodle (1004465)
      Penn State issued a public IP for every machine connected to their network. It still may be so. Before Napster came down, I hosted my music collection, amongst other things, on the Internet via FTP.

      In my time there, they did not, however, actively monitor systems for viruses and malware. I often received spam from student PCs attempting to spread viruses via attachments. Many lab systems suffered from various malware, although that improved in my last year after they switched to a pseudo-thin client set
      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by petabyte (238821)
        In my time there, they did not, however, actively monitor systems for viruses and malware. I often received spam from student PCs attempting to spread viruses via attachments. Many lab systems suffered from various malware, although that improved in my last year after they switched to a pseudo-thin client setup.

        In my time there (I was only on campus in 2000), they did regularly scan the machines on the network for exploits and they would disconnect you for SubSeven or Nimbda or the like. I never had any
        • What the hell were you seeing IPX traffic from in 2000? Unless someone in your dorm was running a Netware network that was badly configured, it shouldn't have ever reached your machine. On top of that, unless you had IPX enabled on your computer (another WTF in 2000) you shouldn't have seen it, especially on an ordinary software/home user hardware firewall.
    • by allscan (1030606)
      My little college of 6,000 students had an entire /16 which meant student computers had a "public" IP. However, they were all routed through firewalls and packet shapers. I knew this long before my internship because I could never access my machine by using its IP address, damn security. Also, student machines were on a separate VLAN so when someone brought there computer from home that just so happened to have zotob or melissa on it, it couldn't infect all school owned systems. On a side note, when I i
      • I believe my college (RPI) has a /16 or two, but I'm vague on the details. We're also visible yet firewalled from the public Internet. At least this means dyndns works within the network. If I need to access something on my personal machine from the outside, I generally log into one of my accounts on the school's network and proceed from there. So I can indirectly access files and what not, but not a game server.

        We're (currently or at least recently) ranked among the top ten most wired campuses. Apparently
    • by houghi (78078)

      The catch is that all computers need to have a registered MAC address in order to get on the network, so if your Windows machine gets infected with a virus, they can disconnect you in a hurry.

      "Dumb BOFH closed me down AGAIN. Very soon I will be running out of MAC adresses to spoof. I hope that happens after I graduate. I hear other people are disconnected as well and the adresses they use are somehow the same as mine."

      Or something like that. Looks a lot like security through obscurity.

      • U of Toledo does the same thing. Let's just say after going through DE:AD:BE:EF:F0:0D, DE:AD:BE:EF:F0:0F, DE:AD:BE:EF:F0:10, etc. for about 20 iterations they apparently got pissed off and rather than banning my MAC address again they traced it through the switches and physically disconnected all 8 ports in my suite.

        They apparently weren't happy about the fact that my (campus only) DC++ server had about 10TB total shared and about 450 regular users constantly transferring gigabytes upon gigabytes across th
  • enforce? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 19, 2007 @12:38PM (#17683336)
    How do you actually enforce security standards among MIT's departments and network users?

    I like to rely on my friends Mr. Louisville and Mr. Slugger.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 19, 2007 @12:45PM (#17683456)
    From the article: "our toilet server, which does voice mail and all the other crap, runs Asterisk software"

    Wow, at MIT, even the *toilets* are servers? No wonder they have their own class A! :-)
  • Disappointed... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by creimer (824291)
    I really hate articles that describes all these great networks and server rooms but don't have any pictures of the hardware. It's not like someone is going to search a picture to find an unsecured air vent in the ceiling so they can drop down among the laser sensors to hack into the computer.
    • by revlayle (964221)
      Really?

      *scribbles out "Get in through AIR VENT*
      *jots down, "trying entering through a loose floor tile"*

      yes... no one would ever do that!
    • by Joebert (946227)
      What if they're running the same hardware that tom hacker has been studying since the hardware was released & knows how to make do things that not even the inventor knows are possible ?
    • by tokul (682258)
      I really hate articles that describes all these great networks and server rooms but don't have any pictures of the hardware.
      Will you see the difference between photos of Cisco switches and Dell boxes in MIT and similar dusty boxes in other campus or commercial data center? Google for Dell PowerEdge 2850. Lots of pictures.
  • That MIT-level hackers (See Steven Levy's book) have direct, Class-A network access to the Internet, or that a school like MIT still doesn't get the idea of the network as an infrastructure utility rather than a cost-recovery service.
    • by Allador (537449)
      "... a school like MIT still doesn't get the idea of the network as an infrastructure utility rather than a cost-recovery service."

      It's not always that simple. Budgeting in a large higher-ed institution is complicated.

      And they may provide the service infrastructure-style (ie, universal coverage, goal of 100% uptime, etc), but use cost-recovery for the accounting.

      An example of why it's complicated:

      Say the network system needs a major build-out, and its going to increase the year-over-year cost of running th
      • Universities should look at such things more the way cities do. Yes, it's all funny money anyway- but it makes more sense it seems to me that you should provide ports as part of the cost of creating the building full of offices that those ports go to. Physical wire networks are much more like electricity in an office building than it is like a Happy Meal from McDonald's, and it makes more sense to charge like the first than the second.
  • The fact that the phone is a different color is going to be upsetting to some of them.

    I know users can be pretty dense where change is concerned but to say that people would be upset because the phone is a different color is even worse than what I had to go through recently.

    I was assigned to replace someone's pc with one of our new ones. After I was done I got a call from him asking if he could have his old keyboard back because the keys on the new one weren't the same. I looked at the old one an

    • by Lethyos (408045) on Friday January 19, 2007 @01:02PM (#17683770) Journal

      I looked at the old one and compared it to mine (the same type he had). The only difference was the six buttons where Home, PgUp and so forth are located are arranged vertically on the new keyboard compared to horizontally on the old one.

      When I switched to a keyboard that rearranged my “Super Six”, I was distraught too. I kept hitting the wrong keys and it was annoying for some time. This is not a trivial difference for people used to not staring at their keyboards as they work.

      • by VWJedi (972839)
        I don't get it... What possible benefit could keyboard manufacturers gain by changing the layout of these keys?
        • by ajs318 (655362)
          Even worse, IMHO, is the loss of the "insert" key on some modern Logitech keyboards, which have a double-sized "delete" key instead. As well as being used (with CTRL) as a shortcut for "copy" and (with SHIFT) for "paste", it's also used for "scroll up one line" in Links.

          I bet the microcontroller still recognises the contact pair and sends the code, though. In fact, I'd be surprised if the FPC didn't have space for a key there.
          • I think the loss if Insert is because while some like you apparently use it, most of the rest of us accidentally hit it when aiming for other keys and then get pissed as we type over a few words without noticing.

            Also, using it for Copy and Paste? That's what Ctrl/Cmd + C/V are for, or and middle click, or any of the other standard ways to copy/paste. I've honestly never heard of using Insert in copy/paste operations, and I like to think I'm fairly experienced in the computer world.
          • by tuxicle (996538)
            What about the abomination called the F-lock key [wikipedia.org] on many newer Microsoft/Logitech keyboards? At least if they had the default power-on mode to "F-lock" it wouldn't be so bad... except for Joe Sixpack I guess.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

      by RajivSLK (398494) on Friday January 19, 2007 @01:04PM (#17683802)
      Are you kidding me? All he wanted was his old keyboard back. If somebody gave me one of those new keyboards with the vertical layout I would probably beat them around the head with it.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday January 19, 2007 @01:06PM (#17683828) Homepage Journal
      If someone wanting thwe same keyboard gives you a bad sttitude, it's not the customer, it's you.

      Did you consider when using his keyboard he didn't look at the keyboard?

      If this person job is data entry, then YOU were in the wrong for not anticipating then need for the same keyboard layout.

      • Um, no. Everyone is getting new pcs and they come with the same keyboard. And no, he's not in data entry. In fact, he only uses one of those keys for one particular purpose when in a mainframe session.

        Further, it's not the keypad keys I was talking about. It was the same six keys but in a group to the left of the keypad. On the old keyboard those six were horizontal. On the new keyboard, vertical. In fact, the key he used was one spot to the right of where it was on the old keyboard.

        If people can't a
        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by llamadillo (936949)
          I totally agree with you. Much as with your example of the rotary phone, the world will pass this user by if he does not adapt to the new keyboard layout. This is precisely why the Western world was able to move beyond the inefficient QWERTY keyboard with only limited resistence.

          I applaud your efforts to avoid 30 seconds of work, and especially the hour you've subsequently spent bitching about it.
        • by Cassini2 (956052)
          Changing peoples' keyboards can have a significant impact on the bottom-line results for your company. Rearranging keys on someone's keyboard can really slow them down. Also, certain job types and people retrain far more slowly than others. People in highly stressful jobs, managers, and older workers do not pick up on changes quickly. Giving a user their old keyboard back is a zero-cost change, and won't reduce their productivity. Unless you have a pressing reason not to do it, then let them have their
        • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by honkycat (249849) on Friday January 19, 2007 @01:40PM (#17684352) Homepage Journal
          What, you think because someone doesn't like something because it's different we should coddle them?
          No, but people get very comfortable using their tools. Is it really a ridiculous request to keep the old keyboard? Is it really something worth mocking him over? As an IT worker, your job is to support the users, not to make arbitrary changes to their working environment. If there's a good reason that the request NOT to have his keyboard changed would create a serious problem, then he's got to adapt. Otherwise, it's just a jerk in IT going on a power trip.

          Frankly, the keyboards with those 6 keys vertical bug the heck out of me, too. It's a lot harder to feel where the middle row is when it's 3-high instead of 3-wide, since my fingers are arranged horizontally on the keyboard.
        • by BluMeNe (1035866)

          What, you think because someone doesn't like something because it's different we should coddle them? "Oh my, how do I operate this car now that I don't a stick to shift gears" "Holy hell! I don't have a dial to turn when I use the phone. How am I going to call someone?" "What happened to the knob on the tv? How am I going to change the channel?"

          in each of these instances, it would be a poor user who voluntarily changed to something they hate. Changing a user's keyboard is instead having their choice made FOR them.

          • Of the three, the only one someone has a choice in is purchasing a stick or automatic car.

            The remaining have been forced upon people. Try finding a rotary phone in the store or a tv which has a knob (not buttons on the front) to turn channels with.

            • by kv9 (697238)
              BadAnalogyGuy would be spinning in his grave, if he were dead now. people *love* their keyboards. I curse and moan every time I have the misfortune of using one of the L-shaped-enter ones and the backslash suddenly isn't *there* anymore. I won't even mention the lappy/desktop switching. drives me crazy. give the guy a break, and let him have his keyboard back. as someone stated above, he should beat you over the head with the new fancy one.
            • Of the three, the only one someone has a choice in is purchasing a stick or automatic car.

              The remaining have been forced upon people. Try finding a rotary phone in the store or a tv which has a knob (not buttons on the front) to turn channels with.

              Have you gone car shopping recently? Try finding anything with a big engine and a stick. Aside from small cars and cheap trucks, stick shifts are rare in the modern vehicle marketplace. Hell, on my Thunderbird, I had the choice of a V8 engine OR a stick. Most full-size trucks are the same way. That boggles the mind, because the reason I want a stick is the be able to better control how I put more power to the ground, not just to make up for a shitty V6 that can't feel fast with a slushbox.

              The problem

        • by Kreigaffe (765218)
          Now, I know it's very tiring to carry a keyboard all the way back there, and exhausting to have to lean over to switch the plug for the new keyboard, but exercize is good for you.

          I'm using a keyboard I got with my computer.. the one I had 3 boxes ago. Actually, it's so hard-used that the little nub on the J key is worn off.. and the one on the F key is getting there.

          It's not just key positions people get used to, but the angle of the keyboard itself, and the feel of the keys. Feel of the keys is HUGE fo
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SomeGuyFromCA (197979)

          On the old keyboard those six were horizontal. On the new keyboard, vertical. In fact, the key he used was one spot to the right of where it was on the old keyboard.

          And the point of this key rearrangement?

          Each of the three things you note is change for the sake of benefit. Automatic transmission*, direct access to the number, arbitrary number of channels.

          What is the point of rearranging the six-block that you describe?

          If someone said "Here's your new phone. You have to use it constantly for your job. Oh, by the way, we rearranged the numbers so they now go

          789
          456
          123
          0

          , would you just accept this change-for-the-sake-of-change, or would you want to know why the pr

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by skis (920891)
        If someone wanting thwe same keyboard gives you a bad sttitude, it's not the customer, it's you.

        Looks like you were one of the people getting new keyboards.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yes, it is, you nimrod.

      You probably spend a ton of time picking out your gadgets or aligning things to just the way you like them, but I suspect you just throw any old thing at users and expect them to "deal with it", after all, they're just clueless anyway, right? Hey, if the user liked the keys arranged horizontal v vertical, then what's wrong with that, and why does it justify your bad attitude becuase of it?

      You give us IT "professionals" a bad rep.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eldepeche (854916)
      I can't believe someone with enough technical responsibility to replace someone else's computer would use those keys so seldom that he wouldn't care if they were rearranged. It's bad enough that my laptop isn't big enough to have them, but if they were all there and I had to look at them, I would flip out.
    • Not that I am going to win a prize on Slashdot...but my keyboard is 11 years old - half the age I am. My keys are smooth, not rough like some new ones, and the letters are staring to fade. (Do the math, I have only been able to use it a lot for the last couple of years.)
      • I win by default. I have an original IBM PC/AT keyboard from 1984 that I pull out whenever I need something for my headless servers (they are old boxes with only PS/2 ports and all my other keyboards are USB). It's the oldest keyboard you can readily use on a brand new computer. Since I don't have any devices with a full size DIN AT connector, I cut that off and installed a mini-DIN PS/2 connector.

        The keyboard is two years older than me and built sturdy enough that I've stepped on it many times without d
        • I have two Model M's, of slightly different vintages; one really old with the grey logo, and one with the slightly newer blue logo. But the best bit is that both have the extra-long detachable cord which I find extremely useful. I actually used one of them as the remote control for my MythTV box for quite a while before I bothered to build an IR receiver. And to think that people just threw them away. Silly buggers, you'll never find a better keyboard than an old Model M.

          I am 100% certain that those two key
    • by cdwiegand (2267)
      Are you kidding? I hate that Microsoft decided to reorganize the keys, removing the insert key. I use that key! And the stupid stupid Function Lock. Ugh! No one I know uses the "Application menu" key - why not play with that? But don't mess with my function or insert keys.
    • After I was done I got a call from him asking if he could have his old keyboard back because the keys on the new one weren't the same. I looked at the old one and compared it to mine (the same type he had).

      A call. Meaning you weren't there. So you spent effort to go back, compare keyboards, and complain.

      If you had said "Certainly; I'll drop the old keyboard by when I go by your department" / "I'll send it by interdepartmental mail" / "Come pick it up from my office", you wouldn't have had to spend any actua
      • by MLease (652529)
        A call. Meaning you weren't there. So you spent effort to go back, compare keyboards, and complain.

        Not quite. If you look closely, you'll see that the OP wrote, "I looked at his old keyboard and compared it to mine" (i.e., the one in his own office, which was the same as the user's new one). Not, "I went back to his office and compared it to his new one".

        And he didn't say that he did not return the old keyboard, he merely expressed his annoyance that the user made what he viewed as a silly and arbi
    • by belg4mit (152620)
      I sincerely doubt anybody will truly be thrown off by the color, but IS&T has a long
      history of grossly underestimating their users. It's been over a decade since DPMS
      was conceived, but the Athena boxen (run by IS&T) don't use it or any other kind of
      power saving; for fear that someone will sit down in front of a machine with a black
      screen and be so stunned and bewildered that they'll come running and screaming and
      bother the sysadmins.

      As for dealing with the bone-headed keyboard layout propagated by M
    • by Allador (537449)
      This is actually not a trivial change. For people who are fast touch-typists, particularly developers and/or writers, this is significant.

      I use the Home/End very very often, and Delete, and PageUp/PageDown quite a bit as well. If the button layout gets rearranged, then you have to re-learn.

      Plus the horizontal six (the common layout on large keyboards) is much more efficient, as you just move your hand over and can find any of the six keys with nearly zero hand/finger movement. Finding them in the vertica
    • by psm321 (450181)
      You've got to be kidding. That vertical layout is the worst thing to happen to keyboards in a long time. Half the keyboards here are like that, and they are impossible to use if you use those keys even occasionally (which I do while developing)
  • From the article:
    The FCC chief of staff told Educause this wasn't about universities and to go away, but Educause wouldn't let it go and asked the FBI. And of course if you ask the FBI if they'd want cameras in every bedroom of every American citizen, they'd say of course, we could cut down on domestic violence. They woke a sleeping giant. For now, CALEA is a source of angst for IT, but the lawyers are busy.

    CALEA = Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, http://www.askcalea.net/ [askcalea.net]

    So, they've
  • Everything was better with ITS! Just get a DECnet hooked up between a few PDP-10s, and... TADA! No viruses! (Not that I'm old enough to remember ITS... :P I'm a retrocomputing geek.)

  • City College of San Francisco converted to VoIP, oh, a year or two ago IIRC. Had some conversion issues, but it works well now far as I know. CCSF has some 3,000 employees IRRC (largest community college district in the US with nearly 100,000 students and seven or more campuses.)

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.

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