Archive for March, 2010

Book review: The Black Swan

I recently read The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. In a nutshell, it’s about how improbably events (“black swans”) can be completely unexpected by people who think that events follow typical probabilities, and the mess that results. I enjoyed it, although Taleb won’t be winning award for humility anytime soon.

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Future reform

While some media conservatives were ranting about the end of American civilization after the health care vote last weekend, there were a few thinking ones who were addressing what the Obama health reforms meant for the country and for people going into the future. True, if you blinked you would have missed the intelligent commentary, but it is out there, and yes, it does have some value in figuring out where to go next.

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The battle is won, now the fight moves on…

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to some pretty strong emotions when I watched those 216 votes come in last night on C-SPAN. As somebody who, perhaps foolishly, believes that the point of politics isn’t to merely score more points than the other people, but to enact real programs that lead to a better life for everybody, these kinds of victories are few and far between. Considering that health care reform has been almost a century in coming, these things are far between indeed. This may be the most important bill I will see in my lifetime, on par with Social Security and Medicare. To undertake a significant transformation of how health care is viewed in this country has been foolhardy; to see it succeed is nothing short of astonishing.

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Liar’s Poker

I recently read the book “Liar’s Poker” by Michael Lewis, about Wall Street in the 1980s. I’m not sure what prompted me to pick it up from the library: I’d heard of it several times before, and maybe the current financial mess made it apparent that revisiting some of the excess that got the ball rolling was in order. Surprisingly, I did find a significant connection between that time period and today, enough so that it wouldn’t be inaccurate to argue that the recent financial collapse was the direct consequence of actions set into motion 30 years ago.

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Moving from Ghost to Clonezilla

Update: In addition to this post, check out my guide on customizing custom-ocs.

In a previous post, I talked about using disk imaging software for setting up Windows in a corporate environment. For years, I’ve used Symantec Ghost, specifically Ghost 8. I’d previously manually run Ghost from a network drive, booting from a custom floppy bootdisk with a DOS Novell client to allow me to log into our network (we still use Novell). A couple of years ago, I switched to running Ghost from an external USB hard drive that stored all the image files. To make it even more automatic, I wrote a tiny utility in assembly that reads the model info from the computer’s BIOS and uses the correct image file.

As time went on, though, the shortcomings of Ghost became apparent. The biggest one is speed: by running Ghost in a DOS environment, I was limited to USB 1.1 speeds. Ghosting a 20 GB Windows 7 partition would take around 40 minutes. When you are ghosting many machines at once, the quicker you can do it, the better. I knew of a great, free alternative in Clonezilla, but would it work for what I needed?

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SD59 Convention Pictures

I’ve uploaded pictures from the DFL SD59 convention last Saturday here. Plenty of samples below the jump…

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