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Ask Slashdot: AT&T's Data Usage Definition Proprietary?

nicolaiplum Bet their code sucks (562 comments)

Telco billing platforms are well-known to be shoddy and inaccurate, both because this is a hard problem to get right and because the engineering quality is low. I have personally worked on several that I know gave wildly inaccurate bills to some customerrs (high or low - I referred to this as our "double or quits" feature).
So I am confident that part or all of AT&T's reticence is because they do not want it to be known how low the accuracy and quality of their billing platform is.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Is There a Professional Geek Dress Code?

nicolaiplum Wear good casual (432 comments)

My attitude to this is to wear interesting T-shirts (complex attractive design or image, or attractive band logo, or amusing slogan, or so on, but not offensive) in good condition, newer good-condition black jeans (always looks smarter than blue), and smart shoes. I've never been poorly groomed, but I have not become worse groomed either.
This puts me in the category of people who dress casually, but care.

Another way is to mix some more or less formal clothing, such as very good shoes with casual jeans and shirt, or wear an over-shirt open if that fits your image, or so on.

more than 2 years ago

Google Outs 3D Maps For iOS Ahead of Apple

nicolaiplum Google Maps on iPad still behind (197 comments)

Yet Google Maps on iPad doesn't even have a distance measure, nor support offline map fragments (even as uselessly as Android). It also doesn't look vector-based yet, it's still tile-based. Google really have some catching up to do, and shouldn't be focusing just on minority new features for Google Earth.

more than 2 years ago

Meebo Discontinuing All Services Except for Meebo Bar

nicolaiplum Re:IM? (121 comments)

Sending cell text messages is also not entirely reliable between networks, especially internationally to/from US cellcos.
Also, cost.

more than 2 years ago

Audi Gives Silent Electric Car Synthetic Sound

nicolaiplum What about the people next to the road (402 comments)

What about the people who live next to a road? Or people walking along a separated pavement (sidewalk to the Americans) next to a road? Quieter cars benefit them all - in fact the reason we have maximum noise restrictions on cars at all is to reduce noise pollution to others.

Why should we require noise pollution?

Is this going to be some attempt to legislate that urban areas have as much vehicle noise in future, as they do today and no less?

more than 2 years ago

Salesforce Uses Chatter To Monitor Employees

nicolaiplum CEO organisation leadership fail (82 comments)

If you are the CEO of a company and there is an inner circle of influential employees driving your business and you do not know about them you are not doing your job as CEO.

It is completely reasonable and often a good idea to have an inner circle of high-ability influential employees to drive your business (see, for example, Good to Great, J Collins). It is entirely incompetent of the CEO to not know who they are and not to be using them to build a successful enterprise.

more than 4 years ago

Why Wave Failed

nicolaiplum They didn't aim it at Sharepoint (350 comments)

Wave did not take off because there were no Wave servers worth a damn that weren't Google.
Wave protocol is a Sharepoint killer. It's not a new cool social medium, it's a workgroup and corporate information sharing system.
And I want to kill Sharepoint, because the stupid thing only works with Windows.
Many organisations do not want, or cannot, share their information with Google. Google doesn't even use any translucent database techniques to help users keep their data private. Google being a Wave server is useful for some public publishing, but there must be your own private Wave server for Wave to be usable by most of the target market. The target market is the market of Sharepoint, larger organisations who are always more careful with their data.
So Google's error was not to make something noone wanted. It was to make something none of the interested people could use, because they did not release a free Wave server to use inside your organisation.
They will make the same mistake, of assuming people will share their data when they won't, again in future.

And I really don't care that people, usually from Google, say that Google can be trusted not to read users' data. That's not relevant; they can be compelled to reveal it to random other authorities without the users' knowledge or consent, and if anything like that does happen, they don't give any information out as a matter of policy.

more than 4 years ago

eBay Denies New Design Is Broken, Blames Users

nicolaiplum Business problem, not tech problem (362 comments)

This is not a technology problem. This is a business problem. If you are running a shopfront, online or offline, in a competitive marketplace, you need to make it as accessible as possible to all the customers you want. For eBay, that is "everyone" (for a hot-dog stand, it is also "everyone"; for a Rolex dealer, it's only people who can afford a Rolex). The higher you make the barrier to entry, the fewer customers you will have.
Now if you're a person wanting a partner to sell your stuff with, do you want the stupid partner, or the smart one?
If you're a customer wanting to buy, do you use the easy website that works, or the one that doesn't work right? What incentive is there for you to use the hard-to-use site?
eBay thinks they have incentives (product range, large base of existing users, etc) to overcome these things. They may be right. They could be wrong. It's their business choice to make it work less well for some people. If they are unable to make it both work better for some people and well enough for others, they may have a serious business problem; if they choose to make it better for some people and worse for others, that's a courageous business choice. If it makes them, or their sellers, less money, it's stupid.

more than 5 years ago

How Long Should Companies Make E-Bills Available?

nicolaiplum Re:Have NAS, will save (299 comments)

"Personal responsibility... try it!"

Oh stop being stupid with that red herring!
This isn't about "personal responsibility".
It's about transfer of effort and risk from the company billing you to you yourself.
And about companies removing a service that they have led you to expect will be available. This person is expecting to pay their last bill online, like they expected to (and succeeded in) paying their previous bills online.

about 6 years ago

How Long Should Companies Make E-Bills Available?

nicolaiplum "Paperless" just makes you do all the work (299 comments)

"Paperless" or "Online" billing simply makes it entirely your own problem to remember to make the regular effort to access the billing information and print it off or save it (and back it up). It does not remove the requirement to keep your own archives for as long as you need them (which for financial information is as long as the taxman can ask for it!)
Many companies can and will blame you when you don't have a copy of the billing information because you didn't download it or relied on them to keep it available, from utilities to banks.
So the only way is to either archive it yourself, religiously, or have them send you bills.
$30 payment for going paperless, as offered by my bank? $30 doesn't pay for very much of my time spent downloading and saving records. I'll stick to having my bank send me the information in a handy-to-archive form on durable media so I don't have to think about it.

about 6 years ago

What Carriers Don't Want You To Know About Texting

nicolaiplum Re:Correlation (570 comments)

In some parts of the world, notably the North American continent, one cannot expect SMS between carriers to work properly; there are many missing routes, including where there is a route from carrier A to carrier B but not from B to A so you can't get a reply to your SMS. Also even when it works it can be very slow, transit times of hours are within my experience.
It's not like Europe where SMS can be expected to work so well that it effectively always works and is fast.
Of course the North American telcos still charge you for your SMS when it disappears into hyperspace because their network isn't configured properly, but I'm sure you all expected that.

more than 5 years ago

What Carriers Don't Want You To Know About Texting

nicolaiplum There's infrastructure as well as bandwidth (570 comments)

While it is true that SMS is carried in the control channel of GSM [1] and that control channel has reserved bandwidth not available for voice call channels, it is also true that heavy SMS traffic will saturate this control channel and that some carriers have had to increase the control channel bandwidth in order to make room for the volume of SMS. You can observe the control channel saturation (and resulting inability to set up new calls, while existing calls continue fine) in any major city in the UK from around 23:45 on 31 December to 00:30 on 1st January. So the carriers do have to put a bit more bandwidth into lots of SMS.
However there is also an SMS messaging centre to operate, which is a pile of computers to route messages, as well as storage on each cell base station for the SMS waiting to be transmitted to the handset - rather like email it's too cheap to meter, except for all those mail servers you need to forward and store the email.
The profit margin on SMS is clearly huge (consider that bulk SMS rates are at most half the cost of single SMS out-of-plan from a handset in the UK) but it's not 100% profit and 0% cost.

And finally, think about spam: the reason you don't get much SMS spam (compared to email) is that it costs quite a lot to send SMS compared to email. If you make SMS as cheap as email, you'll make it as spammy as email, and you need to think about how to avoid that.

[1] I'm going to ignore CDMA here, I wish the rest of the world would do the same.

more than 5 years ago

Against Unknown Viruses, Avira AntiVir the Winner For Now

nicolaiplum Missing some market leaders (170 comments)

This is an interesting test, but some market leaders are missing, notably Trend (El Reg quotes Gartner saying Trend has 13.8% market share, third after Symantec and McAfree). If I am to use this research to pick a solution or to pick a better solution, the chances are high that someone in the management is going to "suggest" (try to make me use...) "Trend" because they've heard of it; if they suggest "McAfee" I can use this research to shoot that down, but not Trend.
Meanwhile, to bang the open source drum, they also didn't test Clam AV. I don't know Clam's market share, but I have to say I like it a lot for its ease of integration into my UNIXy infrastructure compared to the commercial ones I've tried, and I consider it worth testing because of its different development methodology with undoubtedly different strengths and weaknesses compared to the big commercial AV vendors.
So it's all very interesting but not entirely useful to me.

more than 6 years ago


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