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Comment Re:The point (Score 2) 532

Chemical addiction stinks. If you're truly hooked, "whether or not you can afford it" isn't really a question that's up for debate. It's like air, you have a hunger for it that can't be ignored, and causes a person great distress when denied. Other "less important" things like utilities and clothing and food will have to step aside to feed the chemical dependence.

Though I'm not arguing against it, raising the price while still making it legal in ever-shrinking situations is probably the most effective way to wean people off their drugs.

The money raised can also be plowed back into the social services that are there to help provide support for the addicts. In the end, the tobacco companies will see their "profit from the misery of the public" shrink into nothingness over time. We can't get there fast enough.

Comment Re:OpenVPN port tcp/443 (Score 3, Informative) 68

It's actually not all that difficult to spot vpn traffic. Run some DPI and just simply look at the size of the packets being exchanged. L2TP/IPSEC/etc will all have very regular size exchanges that virtually uniquely identify them. Doesn't matter how you encrypt or tunnel it if you don't change the payload sizes.

It's like saying "You can't block my bittorrent client if I just change my port!" Actually, yes we can. And we do. Quiet easily actually.

I haven't looked closely into TOR to see if it pads with random size data, (betting they DO) but that's what they need to do with vpn to seriously defend against traffic analysis.

Even with that, it's still not bulletproof, but it dramatically increases the work and false positives on the detection side of the fence.

Comment need more details (Score 5, Insightful) 277

If his account wasn't the controlling account, and the school really did lock themselves out, they started the problem. If he used rng for a good strong master organizational email password, and it got wiped as the laptop got returned, he may not have it to return. (one wonders about the state of the school's backups...) As an employee you can't just assume the school is going to go retard on you and require you to provide copies of stuff they ought to already have. To the school's credit, he ought not to have wiped the computer before returning it, that's his bad.

When I last changed jobs, it was well known that I had copies of work-related data on personal drives, as I mirrored them to several around the shop for everyone to use the tools and data on. I was asked to delete that data on my personal drives when I left, which I did. I found out months later that the GM went on a wiping spree, intent on nuking ALL the service drives. (bright lad, that one) I was asked later by the SM if I had that data. nope. The SM finally found one last service drive in an old service machine that had been replaced and mothballed, saving enormous headaches. If they'd have lost that data for good, tough. NOT my problem.

It does sound like Williams isn't going out of his way to be cooperative, but it also sounds like the school is expecting more than they are entitled to in the way of cooperation. Will need to get more details on both sides. Even if he "violated policy" while he was working there, that'll be tough to find any legal liability over. You fired him, that's what you do when they violate policy. That doesn't also mean you're allowed to fine, sue, or break his knuckles after you've parted ways.

Comment Walled Garden under fire? (Score 2) 121

This appears to be an attack on the fundamental principle of the "walled garden". I don't think this is a good idea. You may not like it, but then fine don't buy it. Apple sells this as a feature, that benefits the users by improving quality control, a problem that non-walled appstores have to deal with more all the time. It's not bulletproof, nothing is, it just improves it quite a bit. I find it reassuring that I don't have to sweat it when browsing the app store, "I wonder if this app is legit?"

Comment Re:Similarly (Score 1) 389

You are shitting us right? Nobody is that incompetent.

We were all at a loss for words. On a related note, we've had SEVERAL pc techs over the years that were ex-best buy techs. We hired the ones that honestly knew what they were doing, after they'd gotten sick of having their hands tied, wrapped in duct tape, and coated with epoxy when trying to actually work on a machine in the store.

The basic rule they have, and by "rule" I mean "do this and we will fire you on the spot", was "if the GeekSquad CD doesn't fix the problem, tell the customer we have to ship it to our service center for $$$ to fix the problem." Techs that went outside these bounds, or god forbid, used their own tool (like malwarebytes) would be fired. See, it's all about the money. Good techs can't tolerate being told to NOT fix something when they know how to fix it and have the tool on their flash drive to do it.

It frustrates them to no end, and they find work elsewhere. And that's why Best Buy has idiots for techs, they insist on it. There's a youtube video of a tv channel unplugging an IDE cable on a new computer and taking it to various repair shops to look at. Most of them told the undercover crew they needed a new hard drive or power supply and quoted big money to fix it. Just one hole-in-the-wall shop said "this cable was unplugged, here it's fixed now, no charge for something silly like that!" The tech at best buy may have even seen the unplugged cable, but wasn't allowed to report that as the problem nor fix it. Corporate policy.

I was proud to work at a popular repair shop in my town where we focused ourselves on customer loyalty rather than milking the illiterate. Honest service all the time lightly salted with free service like the cable above gets you loyal return customers and excellent word-of-mouth. (good thing too, they rarely advertised, we got new customers all the time saying they had no idea we existed before today) Many of our loyal and returning customers were ex-best-buy customers that had been burned a time or two before either looking elsewhere or getting a referral to try us instead. Though TBH, if we had advertised much more we would have had to turn people down, we were just a 7-person shop.

To witness the disgusting state of compute repair in many towns, google for: computer repair undercover

Comment Re:Similarly (Score 1) 389

This is standard procedure at most comp repair shops. I was the lead tech at one for a decade. If a customer didn't want to give us their password, we had them create a dummy account so we could login and test our repairs. Any good repair shop goes through these steps, either by habit or by policy:

1. gather information
2. verify or diagnose problem
3. if necessary, authorize repair with customer
4. repair
5. VERIFY complaint is resolved
6. return equipment to customer

Step 5 is very important. Surprisingly to some, our first job is not to fix what we consider broken. Our first responsibility is to resolve the reason the customer brought it in. It's an easy mistake to make to check in a machine, see an obvious problem, fix it, return it, and have the customer come back upset that we didn't fix the problem they checked it in for. This happens when steps are skipped above. One example of this is getting a computer checked in during a storm of recall checkins to fix a widespread issue. Techs can get in a rut and just plow through another recall and out the door without paying enough attention to it, only to get an angry call from a customer that checked it in for some OTHER reason and wasn't even aware of the recall, and their reason for checking it in wasn't addressed. They often don't give two hoots that we fixed something else, their main beef is we didn't fix what they asked us to fix. Sometimes they have a long drive or its otherwise very inconvenient to drop off and pick up, and this just winds them up more when they have to make a second trip.

I know in our case we considered a mistake like that to be totally our failure, and would at the very least allow the customer to bring it back in and get free rush service to fix the actual problem. The service manager usually paid extra close attention to it at that point, and would personally verify with the customer that the complaint was resolved when they picked it up. Often they were credited or totally refunded the original service charge also. Free service makes GM frown and tends to get techs yelled at later.

So cut them some slack when they ask for your password. If that bothers you, make a test account for them to use. They won't mind. Oh, and more OT, the geek squad ransacking people's computers... wow. At a loss for words. But, we LOVE the geek squad, they are a constant source of revenue for us. They attract business to our area, burn customers and drive them to us, and on rare occasion they even have to check in machines to us that they themselves have broken worse. (that's my favorite... I recall a wireless antenna cAX on a new just-out-of-the-box computer getting cut during a memory upgrade, as well as a computer getting checked in for no boot because they'd upgraded ram by installing a sodimm in a PCI slot...)

Comment Re:Well that's a hell of a security hole. (Score 1) 254

Pretty sure that's why all the big voice-responders out there have chosen activation phrases that are incredibly unlikely to trigger a false activation. "Siri" isn't a name or word anywhere afaik. Nobody says "okay google" in a normal conversation. "Cortana" is an original also afaik.

"Alexa" on the other hand.... that one's in use. Not terribly common, but it's out there. And was a bad choice for that reason. So if you have a voice assistant that responds to "Alexa", I suggest you either find a way to change the activation trigger or leave it off when you're not using it. It's perfectly acceptable in most cases to have to press and/or hold a button to trigger voice activation, and really that's the best way to go imho, regardless of how carefully chosen the activation trigger is. It's not really intended to be a hands-free feature so much as it is intended to save you from having to type in your query or tap a bunch of buttons for a command.

Comment Re:Good for them (Score 4, Insightful) 258

If they were just trying to bolster funding, one would expect that they would inflate checkout rates for more popular titles then so as not to draw suspicion. Despite there being other possible options for "ulterior motive", "looking for a fix to offset a stupid decision by upper management" (or what someone passionately believed was a bad decision) looks like the frontrunner.

The policy's primary reasoning/justification was probably "clearing shelf space to make room for new books", so ultimately the need for that will end up getting re-examined. That's the risk you take when going behind management's back. You have to be sure that when your actions finally get exposed (and they almost always DO), you not only need to be right, but you need to be show to be unambiguously right. (and sometimes that's not even enough - they're management after all, and just like you they're allowed to make mistakes occasionally) Sometimes managers have a caretaker above them that will shelter them from fallout due to ineptitude, so either it doesn't matter or they don't care if they're wrong.

So it's difficult to defend what may have been a very well-intentioned act without substantial evidence to show that it was justified or perhaps necessary. I just don't think we have enough evidence at this point. Maybe later.

Comment Re:Twitter isn't helping (Score 2) 207

that causes a problem later when you try to search your document for and it can't find it because your "smart word processor" changed the quote to a smart start-quote and now you have no way to type that as part of the search string.

The other problem being they aren't ascii so they have to be represented by unicode. Basic text editors are hit-and-miss on their support for unicode, causing a litany of problems. Screwing up character counts and indexing, right/left arrows attempting to step over the ansii one byte at a time, etc.

The first thing I do before using a "smart" word processor is to turn off those smart quotes, hyphens (the double long -) and hyperlink auto embedding. Oh, and try copying some code out of a word processor or website that has "educated" your quotes, into your IDE. oh, those just LOVE smart quotes... (and LOVE to blow up with creative and unhelpful errors, at often incorrectly offset locations as a result of your pasting in garbage)

Comment Re:For Rent? (Score 1) 212

that's not how botnets generally work. They're more like timehare services, and typically you can even get time on just a specific number of machines at a time - you pay by the hour by the cpu time. So if you rent a botnet and don't use it, you're just throwing your money away and someone else will use your time and pay for it too, making the bot herder more money.

This article is a little surprising in that it sounds like the FBI going after these people is a *new* thing. I thought it was part of their mandate to deal with interstate crime, and that botnets would be right up their alley?

Should be interesting to see what he gets for his crime. I personally see taking control over thousands or even hundreds of thousands of computers is deserving of some pretty severe punishment and I don't think the criminals or the law for that matter takes it as seriously as they should. This sort of crime is just going to continue to grow until we start throwing the book at them. Traditionally it's been a low-risk, low punishment, high-gain crime that's only been restricted by the technical requirements, which is proving to be a lower and lower bar as time passes.

Comment Re: That's nice (Score 1) 142

actually they DO. When a machine is about to crest the 3 or 5 year mark, Apple re-evaluates inventory. California (and other places?) have extended consumer protection laws that require them to keep a deeper stock of parts. So all remaining inventory generally goes to CA-only repairs. Parts they have way too much of are sold off and will appear elsewhere. At 10 years, CA laws even admit "you need to buy a new computer now and quit trying to repair that ancient piece of junk".

Some parts that turn out to be very high demand (usually due to recall or design flaw) dwindle before even the 3 year mark, and Apple will stop selling the parts outright, requiring a return of the bad part for rebuilding. (mostly on motherboards) I recall this also being an issue with the older A/B airport cards. We bought a CASE of them juuuust before Apple put them on the restricted list, and we sold every one. I also had the foresight to order as many imac g5 power supplies as I could get my hands on, and we were selling those for two years after nobody else had any in stock. My manager started out by complaining about why I was stocking up so many of them, "don't worry, we'll sell them!" And we did. And no, we didn't even gouge our customers, the price stayed about the same even long after they had turned into unobtainium.

Comment Re:I'm no physicist but... (Score 1) 86

Indeed, same thing happens with these roadways they're trying to use to power stuff like ice indicators and traffic displays. That energy's gotta come from somewhere. Either it's hitting up your MPG or is making your walk more tiring.

I bet it's quite noticeable on a bicycle too. And pushing that baby stroller just got more fun. But on the upside, it'll probably reduce the number of posers flying by on their longboards and rollerblades.

Comment Re:yes they should (Score 5, Insightful) 1081

But really it is there for a REASON.

There was a reason we had it. Several actually.
1 travel time of a day or more to the polls for a significant chunk of eligible voters (and outside information getting to the voters was also greatly slowed)
2 extremely limited current information on political issues and events for the average citizens (not a lot in the way of "informed voters")
3 because of (2), many of the politicians and people running the government were sincerely worried about what would happen if the election became a popularity contest among the dumb citizens and a truly bad person was elected president of the country (some would argue we had that happen last night, others would argue it was inevitable given the available options...)
4 the college gave the final say to a smaller handful of more politically-informed people (the electorate) that could, in the event of insanity by the "dumb public", choose the sane option, overruling the popular vote.

The reasons for the college have long since disappeared. The best reason we have at this point to continue using the college is that we've been using it since forever and we're not comfortable with change, even when it's for the better.

The whole "first past the post" scheme itself has problems also, and IMHO should be ditched while we're at it. CGPgrey has a great explanation of this issue and how to fix it: It doesn't completely fix all the issues, fixes several problems, improves some of the remaining issues, and doesn't cause any new problems. Please watch this before responding, I promise you'll enjoy it if you're even remotely interested in the voting process, even if you don't end up agreeing with it by the end,

There is one thing I'd like to clear up that I think a lot of people miss when this discussion comes up. It's actually a point toward KEEPING the college. Just because I have an opinion doesn't mean I'm going to blindly ignore opposing reasons, and here's a good one anyone thinking about this needs to consider. Everyone games the college. In a political race, they'll do anything they can (legally, or that they can get away with) to help their candidate win. I'm OK with them doing everything they can within the rules to win. States with lower electoral votes get mostly ignored in races like this. States that have a history of voting very strongly in one direction also get ignored by both candidates. (one says "I have it in the bag, why waste my time here?", the other says "I'll never win these, why waste my time here?") So this WILL tend to create a lopsided popular vote vs electoral vote. Campaigning would be done VERY differently if we went strictly by popular country vote. It's difficult to look back at an election and say with any confidence "would it really make a difference?" States that got lots of ground pounding due to their high electoral count and "batleground state" status would see a lot less traffic, and other more moderately populated areas would see more campaigning. Surely this would change the numbers quite a bit. In what direction is very hard to say. Some years, maybe no noticeable difference. Other years, maybe a huge difference. So what I'm saying is that we can't just look at an election where the popular vote and electoral vote disagree (even somewhat strongly) and say with any great confidence "it would have made a difference if we did it the other way this election". Because we can't. But that being said, I still believe a popular vote using proportional representation would produce results that more closely aligned with who the public would rather see in office. (a lot moreso for congress than president, actually)

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