NPR on Maglite

NPR ran an article on the Maglite company.

They make damn good flashlights (though I wish they had a better tailcap-to-body contact other than two little, easily-bent springs, as well as a LED single-AAA Solitaire, which is a constant companion on my keychain even though it’s dim and flickery), and it’s good to see Mr. Maglica’s insistence on making their excellent products in the US.

I’ve got a few of their LED 2xAA Minis, an LED 2xD regular, and an old incandescent 2xAA Mini that I’ve upgraded with a third-party LED bulb. Excellent, all of them.

While they might not be as bright or lightweight as my Surefire or as waterproof as my Princeton Tec dive light (not that I expect ordinary, non-dive lights to be waterproof to more than a meter or two), they’re bright, rugged, and reliable, which is exactly what I want in a general-purpose flashlight.

Note to FTC: Much like Mr. Allen, I observe a pants-free lifestyle. Feel free to kiss my ass. For good measure, the TSA is invited to do the same.

On The End Of The Wirkd

I’ve been playing some Fallout 3 recently, and if the end of the world ever happens, I’d like to think that life in such a world would be similar to certain aspects of the game.

Specifically, that people would be generally decent folk, and continue to help advance human understanding, even in hostile environments.

That said, I suspect that in reality, things would be a bit more like the bands of raiders and other predatory groups in the game. Oh well.

Update: I obviously meant “world”, not “wirkd”. Stupid iPod keyboard. I’m going to leave it unchanged for maximum hilarity.

Sorry

Sorry for not posting more about shooty-related stuff. Things have been rather busy on my end, and I simply haven’t had time to go to the range recently.

That said, I am ogling a Swiss K31 rifle quite mightily, and once my C&R comes back with my updated address, I suspect that it may be in my future.

“Proprietary” as a positive selling point?

Why is it that companies use the word “proprietary” as a selling point?

For example, a big shipping company has a partnership with the US Postal Service to provide various package-management and expedited-delivery services1 and, as part of the list of things they claim make their service better, they mention “proprietary software”.

Other companies mention proprietary formulas, methods, etc.

Do people usually think of this as a positive thing? Maybe it’s my background in science (essentially all discoveries go through peer review and are published for all to see) and being a bit of a free software geek, but I don’t see proprietary things as a good thing.

  1. Mostly by moving the package through their own network to the post office closest to the recipient, then handing it over to the post office for last-mile delivery. Why this is better than sending something entirely by UPS/FedEx or entirely through the post office, I don’t know. []

“Enterprise-class”, my ass

The university has licensed a particular brand of anti-virus software for all students, faculty, staff, etc. The department I do IT work for (my day job) has a central console that allows administrators to monitor the status of the anti-virus software on all the computers on the network.

I know it well, as I was the one who set it up.

Unfortunately, it’s a piece of crap and is two major versions out of date (the university only got the newer versions a short while ago). It’s also not going to be supported soon, so we had to upgrade it.

Most end-user software seems to handle in-place updates really well. Mozilla Firefox, Windows, even Acrobat Reader update really easily. Certain other software, like Apache, MySQL, and other such things also update reasonably smoothly.

This anti-virus console is not one of those things.

I honestly couldn’t think of something that’s more of a pain in the ass to upgrade.

It turned out to be faster and easier to simply install the newer console on a different server, configure it by hand, and then manually re-install the client software on the 200 or so desktop systems (again, by hand) than it was to try to upgrade the existing console.

The new one’s quite a bit better than the old one, but there’s still no built-in “upgrade in-place” feature, so in a few years someone’s (hopefully I’ll be in grad school by then) going to have upgrade to the next version. That’ll suck; a lot of the configuration is stored in some unknown way, and not accessible to the GUI or the configuration files. If even the tiniest thing gets out of whack (which happens on occasion), diagnosing the problem (not to mention fixing it) is a massive pain in the ass.

Compare that to Windows Server Update Services — a simple Group Policy change on the clients1 and the clients get all their Windows Updates from the WSUS server, which can manage which updates are to be deployed to clients. Quick, simple, and scalable, all through an intuitive GUI.

Say what you will about Microsoft, but they have enterprise-class management down pat. This anti-virus company, though…not so much…

  1. We don’t have an Active Directory, so we can’t push it from a central system, but have to do the changes by hand. There’s a lot of inertia and legacy systems here. Oh well. []