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Valve's Economist Yanis Varoufakis Appointed Greece's Finance Minister

sinij Valve sale on Greece debt! 75% off! (228 comments)

Valve sale on Greece debt! 75% off! Limited time only, until insolvency supplies last.

6 hours ago
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Scientists Determine New Way To Untangle Proteins By Unboiling an Egg

sinij Re:Cryptography is lost (154 comments)

We will always have car analogies.

yesterday
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Fark's Drew Curtis Running For Governor of Kentucky

sinij US politics are tainted with money (119 comments)

US politics, thanks to judicial rule-writing, is forever tainted with money. "Regular citizens" have absolutely no chance to get elected, unless they sell-out in exchange for campaign contributions.

If Jesus Christ returned and was running for congress today, we would probably see attack adds smearing his family, alleging connections to Romans, and questioning the time he spent on the cross.

2 days ago
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Fake Engine Noise Is the Auto Industry's Dirty Little Secret

sinij Re:its nothing new really. (807 comments)

You don't need a tachometer for standard gearbox, most of the drivers will shift by sound or speed and will never look at the tachometer.
Had a friend who drove a manual car without tachometer. Ford-something. It had "shift up" dash light that would come up above 4000ish rpms. Was only weird the first time you drove it.

5 days ago
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Interior of Burnt Herculaneum Scroll Read For First Time

sinij The only readable phrase so far (66 comments)

The only readable phrase so far translates to "Never gonna..."

What could this possibly mean? We will have to wait until the rest of the text is scanned and translated.

about a week ago
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Google Thinks the Insurance Industry May Be Ripe For Disruption

sinij Data mining (238 comments)

I would not want Google, a massive data mining company, to use its access to private and confidential information to sell anyone insurance. Just imagine "You searched 'hit and run' twice in the past year, and 'how to dispose of a dead body' once, your premium goes up by 1000%".

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Tablet and Software For a Partially Sighted Person?

sinij Re:Large TV, hight contrast (63 comments)

Imagine having to use 2 inch tablet to send out emails. That how using a regular-sized tablet would feel like to a legally blind person. I have one in the extended family, and while they could see the tablet, reading from it is out of the question.

It is one thing to be supportive, it is another thing to set them up for failure. There are limitations imposed by their condition, and it is unwise to ignore these.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Tablet and Software For a Partially Sighted Person?

sinij Large TV, hight contrast (63 comments)

Connect laptop or desktop to a large TV and put a high-contrast scheme.

about two weeks ago
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Tesla To Produce 'a Few Million' Electric Cars a Year By 2025

sinij Money talks, electric car walks (181 comments)

I love the idea of electric cars, and Tesla is on my "lottery win" shopping list. With that said, if you apply hard numbers these cars do not make any sense at the current gas prices. Tesla's battery mega factory may change these numbers, but as of right now electric car premium substantially overshadows any and all gas savings. This is even before we start talking about hidden costs of scaling electric car ownership up.

As to mass-producing these cars, I have doubts that infrastructure could handle mass-adoption. The key issue is time it takes to charge, with gasoline one fuel pump can get driver in and out under 5 minutes. With charging stations you need 30 minutes or so. So Tesla has to build lots and lots concurrent "charging slots" and then develop congestion-mitigating techniques at the popular sites. Then they will have to invest into electric grid to support massive loads incurred by charging stations (ironically, the cost effective way to do this is by building 'load balancing' natural gas generators). Then they will have to mitigate inevitable increase in electricity costs due to supply&demand curves. Imagine what will happen to electricity costs during peak usage when everyone runs AC AND charges electric cars at the same time!

So we have following major roadblocks: a) cost of batteries b) cost of expanding charging stations network c) cost of electric grid infrastructure upgrades d) cost of accommodating increased load during peak times . Could all of these challenges be met? Sure, but it is unlikely achievable without public funds.

about two weeks ago
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Wireless Keylogger Masquerades as USB Phone Charger

sinij Re:One more reason to use a wired keyboard (150 comments)

A device that broadcast over sufficiently large range random flood of mouse clicks would be a very effective DoS tool in a corporate settings.

about two weeks ago
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Wireless Keylogger Masquerades as USB Phone Charger

sinij Re:Dewhat? (150 comments)

Well, I advocate and practice usage separation. Have a secure device dedicated for "important" tasks like banking. This way you can have usability in most cases, and security in cases that requires it.

As to how do you educate users that their keyboard, smart TV, smart thermostat, router, in-car infotainment system, child monitoring system, fitness band, implanted defibrillator all require security patches? You can't. Unless they are Dick Cheney, who has a very well deserved reason to be paranoid.

about two weeks ago
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Silicon Valley's Quest To Extend Life 'Well Beyond 120'

sinij Re:Really? (272 comments)

Please listen to the above poster.

about two weeks ago
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Wireless Keylogger Masquerades as USB Phone Charger

sinij Re:Dewhat? (150 comments)

I work in InfoSec, and insecure implementation is widespread and the norm. This is unlikely to change, not until consumers start demand product certification.

In my experience, common implementation flaws are 1) hard coded keys, 2) leaking of secrets 3) weak randomization leading to predictable keys, 4) use of weak cryptography.

about two weeks ago
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Silicon Valley's Quest To Extend Life 'Well Beyond 120'

sinij Re:Really? (272 comments)

You are suffering from depression. Go see your doctor.

about two weeks ago
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NVIDIA Announces Tegra X1 Chip and Drive CX and PX Automotive Platforms

sinij Re:Cars are for driving (12 comments)

Sorry, but no. There is no need for a fallback for infotainment. Inability to browse cat pictures or watch youtube is not an emergency that has to be planned for, with redundancy acquired at a great overall expense. These infotainment systems increase car costs, you end up paying for them regardless of usage.
 
Also, if you don't already own a smart device, yet can afford a car equipped with infotainment system, it is clearly a matter of choice.

about three weeks ago
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NVIDIA Announces Tegra X1 Chip and Drive CX and PX Automotive Platforms

sinij Cars are for driving (12 comments)

Car are for driving, why would anyone want to pay for bolted-on infotainment system that will sit most of its time in the garage or in the parking lot outside your office? The same infotainment system that would be obsolete in 4 years, when most consumers still consider 4 year old car "recent"?

Most people already have tablets, smartphones, laptops and other multipurpose infotainment devices. We can bring them in and out of the car, and (ideally only when riding as passengers) use them in the car. These devices are generally supported by manufacturers and developers that specialize in electronics and software. They get frequent security updates and adequate security measures built-in. When in a couple of years these electronic devices become obsolete, it is relatively inexpensive (you don't have to take out 8 year financing to get one) to replace.

Meanwhile, in-car infotainment systems are serious security and safety concern. There are known and demonstrated issues (look up work by Dr. Charlie Miller & Chris Valasek) that allow remote and local attackers to hijack car functionality and potentially cause a car crash via exploiting infotainment systems.

In closing:
Dear Car Manufacturers,
Please limit yourself to designing cars. Your infotainment systems are not desirable, and are not competitive with better and cheaper systems offered by Apple/Samsung/Microsoft. Bundling infotainment into unwanted "technology" packages makes your automobiles too expensive compared to competition. Don't confuse consumer demand for backup camera or in-dash GPS for demand for infotainment system.
-Consumers

about three weeks ago
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Experiments Create Particles Out of a Vacuum Using Neutrinos

sinij New ways to generate... gravity? (86 comments)

Is this a way to generate... gravity? I am not a theoretical physicist, but aren't pions once-removed from gravitons? I remember reading and failing to understand something about pion-graviton scattering.

about three weeks ago
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2014: The Year We Learned How Vulnerable Third-Party Code Libraries Are

sinij Re:Magic ball prediction - 2015 (255 comments)

I really hope you are wrong, but I know that unless government regulators step in with massive fines your prediction will likely be true.

The only reason we see so many recalls recently is because Toyota was massively fined for gross negligence with uncontrolled acceleration issue.

about three weeks ago
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2014: The Year We Learned How Vulnerable Third-Party Code Libraries Are

sinij Re:Magic ball prediction - 2015 (255 comments)

Car manufacturers will have to learn that they will have to a) patch cars b) support them out of warranty with security patches c)educate users and independent mechanics to apply security patches. Soon, it will be "Quick Lube and Patch" service stations.

Personally, I prefer my cars air-gaped. I place negative value into infotainment systems and any car functionality that is no directly related to driving. Unfortunately, I am in the minority.

about three weeks ago
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2014: The Year We Learned How Vulnerable Third-Party Code Libraries Are

sinij Magic ball prediction - 2015 (255 comments)

My magic 8 ball tells me that in 2015 we will learn that proprietary and embedded software is even more vulnerable. My Tarot Card deck tell me that we will see a lot of hacked car wrecks in 2015, now that Volvo released the demon by putting a web browser into in-dash system. Rest of the lemmings are sure to follow. Not that you really need a browser to pwn a car, with Bluetooth-to-CAN-BUS exploits shutting down cars demonstrated as early as 2012.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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ActivisionBlizzard numbers - WoW providing 30% of the revenue

sinij sinij writes  |  more than 2 years ago

sinij (911942) writes "

World of Warcraft (WoW) has helped ATVI maintain its stock price, with this one single game providing roughly 30% of the revenue for the entire company via its expansion packs and monthly payments. Subscription revenue alone totaled $1.2 billion both in 2008 and 2009, and an additional $1.36 billion in 2010. Corresponding costs (the overhead cost of maintaining WoW’s virtual world) totaled a mere $404 million in the first two years mentioned, and $241 million in 2010. This means that WoW subscriptions have generated gross margins over 80% consistently. Since WoW has very high operating leverage any decline in revenue will have dramatic effects on the bottom line.

Forbes takes a detailed look into underlying finances of ActivisionBlizzard, and Vivendi's on-going efforts to sell its stake in the company. Diablo3 cash-shop revenues are not mentioned, but this would explain Blizzard's desperation to diversify from WoW subscription revenues."
Link to Original Source

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Why Warhammer Failed - Insider Story

sinij sinij writes  |  more than 4 years ago

sinij (911942) writes "EA insider, airs dirty laundry over what went wrong with Warhammer and what could this mean for upcoming Bioware Old Republic mmorpg.

Anyway, back to Warhammer. We shouldn’t have released when we did, everyone knows it. The game wasn’t done, but EA gave us a deadline and threatened the leaders of Mythic with pink slips. We slipped so many times, it had to go out. We sold mor ethan a million boxes, and only had 300k subs a month later. Going down every since. It’s “stable” now, but guess what? Even Dark Age and Ultima have more subs than we have. How great is that? Games almost a decade make more money than our biggest project.

Read it all here! "

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sinij sinij writes  |  more than 8 years ago

sinij (911942) writes "I'm tired of hypocritical complaints about canned and outsourced customer support from people that given choice, will switch brand/provider/subscription to save extra 5%.

A while ago I had to write some customer support scripts as part of my work turning around small telecom. These scripts were badly needed, some of the people that were doing technical support were outright abusive ether without realizing it (cultural differences) or as a way to get let go and collect unemployment or as a way to channel their frustration with the universe on unwilling victims.

Script and demonstrative firing for not following it drastically improved things by eliminating what-were-they-thinking calls and subsequent PR nightmares. Most calls are trivial and can be scripted - they are ether RTFM, 12-oclock flashers that are too cheap to pay for 'complete install' option and are too stupid to follow step-by-step instructions or people venting about things we can't/won't change.

You also have to realize that CS/TS is never about helping people, its all about customer retention at lowest cost - when you have somebody to yell at when problems happen you are not as likely to stop paying. Trying to help customers cost a lot more, often cost-prohibitive, and leads to customers relying on your technical support to solve every single, no matter how trivial or marginally related problem. My favorite example for scripts is a four hour recording of a complicated problem that that resulted in service costs being equal to TWO (2) year profit from that client.

I understand everyone would love to have perfect customer support, where they deal directly with a professional that tries to work on your problem. Thing is, unless you are enterprise client brining thousands of dollars of profit you are not going to get it. Your bargain discounted plan that you switched to save 5% from your last deal typically has 10-20% profit margin and can't support anything better than scripted scapegoat support. Most people want cheap, quality service, right away and all the time - you can do maybe 1.5 of these things at once.

Another problem with first tier technical support is that all qualified people move on/get promoted, resulting in bulk of people working at first-tier support are ether recently hired students that don't plan on sticking around, immigrants with language/cultural difficulties or people with significant social/attitude/whatever problems. Without canned script, that strictly enforced, you end up with few people that end up better-off and most that work significantly worse. You also cannot allow exceptions for qualified people or next time you fire some asshat for trying to have phone sex with a customer (true story) you will get sued for discrimination or selective enforcement."

Journals

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Necessity of enforced customer support scripts

sinij sinij writes  |  more than 8 years ago

I'm tired of hypocritical complaints about canned and outsourced customer support from people that given choice, will switch brand/provider/subscription to save extra 5%.

A while ago I had to write some customer support scripts as part of my work turning around small telecom. These scripts were badly needed, some of the people that were doing technical support were outright abusive ether without realizing it (cultural differences) or as a way to get let go and collect unemployment or as a way to channel their frustration with the universe on unwilling victims.

Script and demonstrative firing for not following it drastically improved things by eliminating what-were-they-thinking calls and subsequent PR nightmares. Most calls are trivial and can be scripted - they are ether RTFM, 12-oclock flashers that are too cheap to pay for 'complete install' option and are too stupid to follow step-by-step instructions or people venting about things we can't/won't change.

You also have to realize that CS/TS is never about helping people, its all about customer retention at lowest cost - when you have somebody to yell at when problems happen you are not as likely to stop paying. Trying to help customers cost a lot more, often cost-prohibitive, and leads to customers relying on your technical support to solve every single, no matter how trivial or marginally related problem. My favorite example for scripts is a four hour recording of a complicated problem that that resulted in service costs being equal to TWO (2) year profit from that client.

I understand everyone would love to have perfect customer support, where they deal directly with a professional that tries to work on your problem. Thing is, unless you are enterprise client brining thousands of dollars of profit you are not going to get it. Your bargain discounted plan that you switched to save 5% from your last deal typically has 10-20% profit margin and can't support anything better than scripted scapegoat support. Most people want cheap, quality service, right away and all the time - you can do maybe 1.5 of these things at once.

Another problem with first tier technical support is that all qualified people move on/get promoted, resulting in bulk of people working at first-tier support are ether recently hired students that don't plan on sticking around, immigrants with language/cultural difficulties or people with significant social/attitude/whatever problems. Without canned script, that strictly enforced, you end up with few people that end up better-off and most that work significantly worse. You also cannot allow exceptions for qualified people or next time you fire some asshat for trying to have phone sex with a customer (true story) you will get sued for discrimination or selective enforcement.

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