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Stuart Burns

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Data scientist image via Shutterstock

Let’s hear it for data scientists! Making our lives more and more frictionless

There’s a lot of hype around data scientists. You can blame big data and the cloud. Data scientists are lauded, hunted and positively desired by those wanting to squeeze the most from their information. In accordance with such demand come large salaries – the average is $123,000 in the US. Like the Yanks of WWII, data …
Stuart Burns, 24 Sep 2015

Modernise and prosper: It's time to imbibe server orchestration

Server farm deployment used to be a simple enough process. Sometimes it was manual, sometimes it was automated. The odd shell script here or there, or some basic file manipulation was the order of the day along with PXE and other automation tools. It was workable at best. As virtualisation technology matured, so did the …
Stuart Burns, 11 Sep 2015

Attention sysadmins! Here’s how to dodge bullets in a post-Ashley Madison world

If the Ashley Madison saga has taught us one thing – well, many things, but one main thing – it was never, ever, ever use a work email account for personal pursuits online. Once trawled, data from the leaked site revealed that thousands of those with Ashley Madison accounts – presumably men, given the site’s overwhelming …
Stuart Burns, 07 Sep 2015
Man and Superman

Security for those who know they can't win the security war

In a post-Snowden world most IT people are painfully aware that most of us would not win a fight against a well-funded organisation, or government, that wants the data on your network, laptop or device. When someone is targeted by such an entity, they won’t go for the ever-popular “spooks” style secret bugging or custom zero- …
Stuart Burns, 27 Aug 2015
Handing over dollars picture via Shutterstock

Windows 10 marks the end of 'pay once, use forever' software

Comment Windows 10 is the last version of Windows that will ever be released. If this really is the last version of Windows desktop operating system ever, though, where will Microsoft make its money? Microsoft, after-all, has built a multi-billion-dollar business on sales of new versions of Windows through retailers and to PC makers, …
Stuart Burns, 31 Jul 2015
Frustation, image via Shutterstock

Run Windows 10 on your existing PC you say, Microsoft? Hmmm.

Throughout my career I have seen many Windows releases with minimum requirements that were a little bit deceiving. Sure, the machines would boot, but you would sometimes have enough time to brew a fresh pot of coffee before the computer was in a usable state. That usable state excluded any applications you wanted to run on top …
Stuart Burns, 15 Jul 2015
Hipster with laptop photo via Shutterstock

Summer breeze makes IT fine, blowing through sysadmins in my mind

Comment Summer is here and IT bods can rejoice because if users aren’t already on their annual two-week holiday then those remaining – the ones with kids – will be soon once schools break up in mid July. It’s the time of year when the heavy lifting side (physical or virtual) of infrastructure upgrades can be done without pesky users …
Stuart Burns, 09 Jul 2015
Vulcan bomber bomb bays, photo Phil Holding

Goodbye Vulcan: Blighty's nuclear bomber retires for the last time

Visit a British air show before September and it's possible you’ll get the opportunity to witness the last Vulcan bomber in flight - and this is definitely the last year you'll get the chance, this time. Alongside the staple leather-clad wing-walking ladies, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, simulated Apache attack- …
Data scientist image via Shutterstock

The wonderful madness of metrics: Different things to different folk

Managers and customers love statistics and metrics. Companies can live or die by how good their metrics are and the potential penalties for failing to meet the required service levels as defined in agreements. It can also be: “Have my team met their SLA” or: “What is the uptime on the server farm”. The dictionary defines the …
Stuart Burns, 23 Jun 2015

Data AWOL? Thank God for backup. You backed up, right?

Backup is a fundamental component of a healthy infrastructure. I admit backups are neither cutting edge nor sexy but they are important. It is an often-quoted statistic that of the companies that suffer serious data loss, one third go out of business within three years. Actually, it’s worse than that: 94 per cent of companies …
Stuart Burns, 18 Jun 2015
Chains image via Shutterstock

Virty servers' independence promise has been betrayed

Server virtualisation in its current state is pretty much done. The market is mature and critical tier one workloads are absolutely at home on tier one virtualised platforms such as VMware and HyperV. Virtualisation tends to be a very useful technology in larger organisations for what most administrators would say are the wrong …
Stuart Burns, 08 Jun 2015
Signs on the Metreon, across the street from San Francisco's Moscone West, in preparation for Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference

A world of conferences beckons for the Apple sysadmin

Unlike most of its rivals, Apple is primarily a hardware company which also happens to make the operating system and application delivery platform, taking a cut from the sales of software and media that others create for its platform. Mass laptop and desktop management is not really what Apple does; it lets others fill this void …
Stuart Burns, 07 May 2015

Excessively fat virtual worlds – come on, it's your guilty secret

Now that virtualisation is seen as a robust and mature technology, managers and administrators are looking to reduce server deployment and management costs further. One area of potential cost reduction is reclaiming unused or under-utilised infrastructure capacity. Most virtual estates that have grown organically over the years …
Stuart Burns, 22 Apr 2015

Are YOU The One? Become a guru of your chosen sysadmin path

Systems administrators are system administrators, right? Not really. Once upon a time systems admins were jack of all trades and (perhaps) master of them all. Most of the IT-related functions were performed by an administrator and if some new technology came along they adapted and learnt the new package or system. However, as IT …
Stuart Burns, 17 Apr 2015

Learn yourself hireable: Top tips for improving your tech appeal

There comes a point in most people’s career when they get a bit bored of the day job and start looking to move. but one factor that can prevent upward mobility is a tired CV. Aside from the obvious updating and checking for grammar and punctuation errors, what else can give that bit of sparkle back to the resumé and get it …
Stuart Burns, 13 Apr 2015
Facebook data center - interior, lit up

One day all this could be yours: Be Facebook, without being Facebook

Data centre design is a costly business, costing Apple $1.2bn for a pair of “next-generation” carbon-neutral plants in Ireland and Denmark. Even the smallest average Joe data centre will easily cost north of $1m once the options such as multihomed networks, HVAC systems and other such critical kit is installed with redundancy, …
Stuart Burns, 30 Mar 2015
French fries

Sysadmins: Step away from the Big Mac. No more Heartbleed-style 2am patch dashes

Patching is a necessary evil for network administrators. Unfortunately, an awful lot of them have been burning not only the midnight oil, but also the weekend oil to keep up with patches such as – but not limited to – Heartbleed and Shellshock. The bad news is that this is only the start. As software vendors move towards a more …
Stuart Burns, 04 Mar 2015
Boring Christmas

Reg man confesses: I took my wife out to choose a laptop for Xmas. NOOOO

We love our gadgets and phones and suchlike. Gadgets can also make great gifts, so long as you get the "right one". Some this Christmas season - like me - will no doubt have thought what a great idea it would have been to buy their partners (or some other significant loved one in the family) a new laptop, device, or tablet as a …
Stuart Burns, 25 Dec 2014

Tough Banana Pi: a Raspberry Pi for colour-blind diehards

Review The Raspberry PI Model B+ is the hot new SBC (Single Board Computer) of the moment. The cheap price, low power usage, good support and ease of use make it a very good buy for DIY nerd projects and media front ends. One common complaint is lack of RAM and CPU. Now, however, there are choices for Power users – the Banana PI from …
Stuart Burns, 28 Nov 2014
Pre-teen sysadmin on the Disney show Shake it Up

Social misfits and group interviews: Yup, it's the startup interview circuit

A lot of people have either worked with or know someone who worked at a startup. Lots have good experiences while some have bad experiences – and they have the scars to prove it. Their stories are funny, odd and sometimes downright weird. I have had an on-off relationship with startups ever since I left university. One thing is …
Stuart Burns, 25 Nov 2014

Bang! You're dead. Who gets your email, iTunes and Facebook?

Two things in life are certain: death and taxes. Amazon and other international corporations have found ways* around the latter, but no one can avoid the former. In the age of Facebook and Google accounts, and with the existence of services such as iTunes where people invest considerable sums in entirely virtual goods, the …
Stuart Burns, 19 Nov 2014

YOU are the threat: True confessions of real-life sysadmins

Some sysadmins will go to extremes to secure a network, viewing it (wrongly) as their property. For proof, look no further than Terry Childs, the City of San Francisco sysadmin who lost his job and subsequently refused to give over the system's virtual keys to his superiors in 2008. It took just under a million dollars, several …
Stuart Burns, 19 Nov 2014
workman in high vis jacket bent over, super-imposed on cloud background

Words to put dread in a sysadmin's heart: 'We are moving our cloud from Windows to Linux'

The worldview of elastic compute, or mine at least, has historically had very little Microsoft involved in it. Recently however, I have attended several job interviews and one question that has invariably been asked is: “We are planning on moving from Windows to Linux. Have you done it before?” This situation usually arrives …
Stuart Burns, 10 Nov 2014
Cartoon of  green skeletal figure reaching out of phone

BYOD: don't let the dream turn into a nightmare

Most vendors and analysts agree: you can’t avoid BYOD (bring your own device). But despite all the excitement about letting people use whatever smartphones, tablets, convertibles or latest thingamajig they want at work, many businesses are still wary of the BYOD trend. Some organisations, by necessity, just cannot adopt BYOD …
Stuart Burns, 06 Nov 2014

Inside the EYE of the TORnado: From Navy spooks to Silk Road

Comment TOR is the most widely used system for the provision of anonymity for internet users. I'll look at how TOR came about: its beginnings in the US Navy; growth and use by both pro-democracy freedom fighters and the less savoury elements of the internet; and how the NSA may have managed to peel the onion router for the FBI to help …
Stuart Burns, 29 Oct 2014

Make life easy for yourself when you move to the cloud

So the boss has decided that the company needs a “highly scalable elastic cloud infrastructure” and in true Dilbert style, the rank-and-file IT people have to build said cloud yesterday. The most important first step is: don't do anything... Yet. An organisation’s, or at least the IT department’s, staff need to understand not …
Stuart Burns, 17 Oct 2014

Keep a beady eye on your business's cloud service shopping

If you believe the hype, it is only a question of time before every Tom, Dick and Harriet in your organisation becomes a tech decision maker who can spend your company's money, with the power to do so a mere click away. “Shadow IT”, the term emerging to describe the buying of IT and technology services without any central …
Stuart Burns, 16 Oct 2014

Got your NUDE SELFIES in the cloud? Two-factor auth's your best bet for securing them

Bill Gates in 2004 predicted the death of the password over time. “They just don’t meet the challenge for anything you really want to secure,” Gates said. Ten years on, passwords haven’t gone anywhere and as the recent nude-celeb-pics-on-iCloud proved, the medium is still not up to muster yet is in widespread use in scenarios …
Stuart Burns, 16 Sep 2014

Pay to play: The hidden cost of software defined everything

An oscilloscope manufacturer this month slapped a hacking enthusiast's website with a DMCA take-down order after he revealed how you could unlock extra, low-cost options in one of the vendor's systems using a series of simple workarounds. Go ahead, chuckle – it’s an obscure dust-up in a lost corner of tech, but haven’t you …
Stuart Burns, 28 Aug 2014

You've been arrested for computer crime: Here's what happens next

It isn't just paedophiles. It is the accountant who thinks he is worth more than the company decides to pay him, and decides to create and pay fictitious invoices. It is the card-cloning gangs buying and selling mag stripes and card dumps. It is the drug dealers who think they are smarter than the police. Or it is just the plain …
Stuart Burns, 07 Nov 2013
Maurice Moss, IT Crowd

Techies with Asperger's? Yes, we are a little different...

Shortly after being told I have Asperger's syndrome, I stood in front of 30-odd people, my work colleagues, telling them I have Asperger’s and what it means to them and to me. Some were like: "Meh, whatever!", some were busy looking their watches: "Is it lunchtime yet?" I could feel my job slowly ebbing away. It was like …
Stuart Burns, 08 Oct 2013