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Comment: Re:Wanna give up on these guys yet ? (Score 1) 574

by FireFury03 (#46757675) Attached to: Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

Wouldn't you have validated their password from the web portal side of things in the first place.

Ok, (1) what web portal? (2) when your email client is giving you a generic "something broke" message, how do you know to validate the password? Or are you going to validate *everything* one thing at a time until you (hopefully) find what's wrong rather than properly diagnosing the problem?

Comment: Re:Buy a certificate to retrieve your core dumps (Score 1) 574

by FireFury03 (#46756129) Attached to: Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

Microsoft would probably do it the way it does crash reporting, where the user is given the option to automatically send error reports to Microsoft. The developer can retrieve these crash reports by 1. forming a corporation or LLC, 2. buying a certificate from VeriSign or DigiCert in this company's name, and 3. registering with Windows Dev Center Hardware and Desktop Dashboard (formerly Winqual).

Yes, because its so useful for the developer of your mail reader to get "password wrong" notifications instead of the person who's actually supporting that user...

Comment: Re:Wanna give up on these guys yet ? (Score 1) 574

by FireFury03 (#46754831) Attached to: Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

>> I shouldn't need to tcpdump their IMAP traffic to discover that the server is telling them their password is wrong damnit!

You should use encryption and not be able to analyze the traffic anyway.

Oh, don't get me wrong, everyone uses encryption. Unfortunately a few times over the past couple of years I've ended up getting people to temporarilly turn encryption off so I can dump the traffic and see WTF is going wrong because the damned applications won't display or log a useful error. I know *most* people don't understand technical error messages, but would it kill them to stick a "details" button on the dumbed-down error popup to make it trivial for a techie to ask the user to click it and read out a more useful message?

Comment: Re:Wanna give up on these guys yet ? (Score 5, Insightful) 574

by FireFury03 (#46753973) Attached to: Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

At least it fails gracefully with a clean error code. In Linux world it would show up as a dialog with corrupted text and a mysterious "Invalid argument" error message written in some log. ;)

Mostly under Linux the error messages are useful to someone technical. Increasingly other OSes (Windows, OS X, iOS, Android) consider useful error mesages to be not user friendly and just give you a generic "something broke" error that is no use to man nor beast - frequently I'm left digging out tcpdump to diagnose customer's problems because the application itself won't give me any information (yes, even in the system log) - I shouldn't need to tcpdump their IMAP traffic to discover that the server is telling them their password is wrong damnit!

Comment: Re:Why do people listen to her? (Score 4, Insightful) 586

by FireFury03 (#46746393) Attached to: Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"

I think she is wrong to connect vaccines to autism. But attacking her personally is not necessary or relevant. Her general position that she is not against vaccines in general but only against un-safe vaccines is a valid position. Why bother nit-picking nuances or perceived contradictions in wording. It's all irrelevant. The only issue is: Are existing vaccines safe and could they be made safer? All else is nonsense.

The problem is: what constitutes "safe"? You're never going to have something that's completely safe, so it all comes down to probabilities. This is comparing the chance of your child being harmed through your actions (getting the vaccine) vs. the chance of them being harmed through your inactions (not getting the vaccine). Rationally, if getting the vaccine reduces the chances of the patient being harmed then obviously that is the right course of action, but does this make the vaccine "safe"? I suspect a lot of people take the irrational line that they don't want to take any action that might harm their child, but never properly think about the consequences of inaction, so go down the inaction line even if that is the worse choice.

Partly, there is a problem that diseases like measles aren't very common these days, to people perceive the risk to be very low. They ignore the fact that these deseases are uncommon *because* of vaccination.

Secondly, she seems to have a failure to understand basic statistics by her comment "If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f--king measles" - this argument is comparing a certainty (the child has autism) with an uncertainty (that the child will suffer lasting damage from the measels). Given the choice between a certainly autistic child and a child with a small chance of dieing (or other serious complication from measels), I might make the same decision and go with the measels, but that's not the choice the anti-vaccination crowd are making. If the argument had been comparing two certainties - "If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the child to die from measles or have autism" - then I imagine the response would be very different.

Whether or not you believe that vaccines cause autism (and there is absolutely no evidence that they do), the above rational arguments still apply - if the chances of serious injury or death from measels for unvaccinated people is higher than the chances of autism for vaccinated people then having the vaccine is a complete no-brainer.

Comment: Re:Yes, yes it is. (Score 1) 408

by FireFury03 (#46692893) Attached to: Apple: Dumb As a Patent Trolling Fox On iPhone Prior Art?

One obvious example is the keyboard/trackpad layout of all modern laptops. It was Apple on their PowerBooks who pushed the keyboard toward the screen, making room for palmrests and pointing devices below. Prior to that, everyone was putting keyboards tight against the lower edge. They didn't patent it, and the rest of the industry quickly followed.

It doesn't sound like an especially revolutionary concept, hardly worth a parent. It's basically like me patenting putting my kettle to the right of my toaster instead of to the left.

Comment: Re:Cynicism (Score 1) 148

Also, you're ignoring a 4th option: they might actually make more money by having reasonable roaming charges.

This bill is about not having *any* roaming charges. You pay the same abroad as you do at home.

Yes, so they will make some money from me when I'm abroad, just as they do when I'm at home. Compared to, at the moment, them making nothing from me while I'm abroad.

Comment: Re:Touristy places will be in for a surprise.. (Score 2) 148

While I largely agree, Google maps and translate can be pretty useful. And to a lesser degree, posting photos on social networks is nice, if not all that important.

I've found that preloading your tablet / phone with openstreetmap maps works extremely well - I spent 2 weeks navigating around the Canadian rockies with Osmand running on a tablet and had no problems. Posting photos on social networks can probably wait until you're within range of a wifi hotspot.

Comment: Re:Touristy places will be in for a surprise.. (Score 4, Insightful) 148

Would you go to a tourist place where your internet that you intend to use to keep in touch with home sucks? Maybe you will, but how many like you?

Yes, I would. Because oddly, when I'm on holiday I'm actually more interested in doing holiday type stuff than spending my time using the internet. Its useful *occasionally* (getting weather forecasts, etc.) but it's not a huge loss to not have it. Which is why I turn roaming data off on my phone when I go abroad and just use wifi hotspots in cafes, etc. on the occasions I want to use the internet.

Comment: Re:Cynicism (Score 5, Insightful) 148

Option B : Mobile providers raise the standard charges the exact necessary amount to avoid having losses due to this law.

Option C : Mobile providers raise the standard charges more than necessary and justify the raise saying ordinary people need to pay for the yuppies who roam Europe in their sports cars while chatting on their phones.

The rates are largely set by the market - if they could get away with raising their standard rates, don't you think they would have already done so?

Also, you're ignoring a 4th option: they might actually make more money by having reasonable roaming charges. As an example, on my PAYG contract I pay £0.01/MB while at home, but while on a trip to Canada earlier in the year it would've been £6/MB - *600 times the domestic charge*. The upshot was that I simply turned off 3G on my phone and didn't use it at all - zero profit for the MNO. If the charges had been more reasonable then I probably would've left it turned on and they would've made some money. Same goes for voice calls too. (FWIW, roaming charges within the EU have been regulated for some time and are much much lower anyway)

This is basically the EU saying "you've shown you can't be trusted to not take the piss, so we're taking our ball and going home".

Comment: Re:When should you abandon a service for error? (Score 4, Interesting) 127

by FireFury03 (#46628841) Attached to: Western Digital 'MyCloud' Is Down 5 Days and Counting

I had something similar happen recently, my bank website authentication going out for four days (it was part of an upgrade that went bad).

That's pretty much unthinkable these days. It really made me think, if that's even possible it may be a good idea to abandon this bank for some other.

Would other people give a service a one time pass for a multi-day outage if they otherwise liked the service? Or should that be a flag to drop them, any time it occurs? If the criteria you use to leave a service is too strict, you may be switching often...

Things break unexpectedly - whilst it shouldn't happen, it does and so long as it doesn't happen frequently and the vendor is reasonably proactive I'd generally give them a pass (for one thing, moving a bank account or similar is probably more hassle than a one-off outage). If it keeps happening then yes, I'd move to a vendor that has historically shown to be able to run a more reliable service.

However, one thing that I think is unforgivable is when the vendor doesn't bother to actually keep their customers informed. A single "the service is down, sorry" post which doesn't give any ETA, progress updates or anything just isn't good enough. Tell the customer what's going on! It seems to be all too common to keep the customer as uninformed as possible these days, especially with the larger companies. I imagine it's a combination of PR damage mitigation and liability concerns, but its just not helpful to the customers - I'm much happier to give my business to a company who says "oops, sorry, we screwed up, here's what went wrong, but we've now investigated and put measures in place to make sure it doesn't happen again" than a company who has an unexplained outage and doesn't provide any information about it.

I'll give an example - back in the 90s I had my internet connection from a small ISP called Demon Internet. They were pretty good - the techies knew what they were doing and they gave regular status updates. If something went wrong, they would publish it. If an outage was caused by someone screwing up then they'd let everyone know, even if it's a stupid "oops we unplugged the wrong cable". Then they got bought by Thus, a much bigger company, and the "big company" mentality very quickly showed - the techies stopped talking to the customers, status updates rarely happened and they especially never admitted that they'd made a mistake. I wasted hours on several occasions debugging my CPE because they swore blind they had no network problems so it must be my end before it became very apparent that they did know about problems in their network and they were just trying to keep it quiet. And that is why I dropped them - I'm not interested in dealing with businesses that waste my time by covering up their problems and refusing to keep their customers informed.

WRT services like MyCloud, I do wonder what kind of terms & conditions they give the end user, given that this is essentially a paid-for service. If they provide absolutely no service guarantees and can shut it all down on a whim then clearly it isn't worth paying for.

Comment: Re:Spinning Space stations (Score 1) 113

by FireFury03 (#46628369) Attached to: Astronauts' Hearts Change Shape In Space

Just to put it in perspective, IIRC from my high school days as the president of the school's Space Settlement Design Team (don't laugh, we qualified for the international-level finals every year we competed back in the very early 2000s!), a torus a mile in diameter needs to rotate once a minute in order to achieve 1g. Tethers or not, it's hard to keep something like that together.

Wikipedia suggests that you probably want to keep the speed at or below 2 rpm and certainly no more than 7 rpm.

Comment: Re:you have things backwards (Score 2) 192

by FireFury03 (#46626271) Attached to: Supreme Court Skeptical of Computer-Based Patents

So how exactly does making everything free spur innovation??

Firstly, being able to "stand on the shoulders of giants" is good for innovation. Patents often stop that, especially in a fast moving field like computing - having to wait for the patent to expire before you can build upon it is a problem. You may argue that someone who wants to build upon a patented technology should just licence it, but the licence fee may be out of the reach of many inventors. And that's assuming the patent owner is even interested in licensing it - they may well just tell you to bugger off.

Secondly, the constant fear of being sued into oblivion if you happen to accidentally infringe someone's patent is a brake on innovation. It's pretty much impossible to write software that doesn't infringe someone's patent these days, so you're basically relying on not pissing off the wrong people. And giving the existing big players the ability to shut down a new competetor before they even get going is certainly not good for innovation.

The original intention of patents was twofold:
1. give the inventor a limited time to profit from their invention and recoup development costs.
2. provide documentation of the invention so that, after the patent has expired, the public can build their own rather than being at the mercy of the inventor.
I certainly think both of these intents are great. Inventors *should* be able to recoup their development costs; but I don't think that's working these days - big companies ship such volumes that they are going to recoup their costs in short order anyway, and the small inventors simply can't afford to defend themselves, so the patents simply benefit the large companies (whether or not they are innovating) at the detriment to the small inventor. The second of these intents is a good thing too, but modern patents are trash - they are so thick with legalese that they're downright impossible to understand anyway, and the details are so scant that you wouldn't be able to reproduce the invention from the documentation provided in the patent.

So to my mind, the problems with patents currently outweigh the benefits.

Comment: Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (Score 2) 192

by FireFury03 (#46626101) Attached to: Supreme Court Skeptical of Computer-Based Patents

I should add, the only people who think patents should be abolished are people who don't create anything.

Anyone who creates has a different opinion. I don't agree with current patent law and the situation, but ranting around about getting rid of them just makes you look ignorant.

No, I create stuff all the time and I think patents are a big problem. The stuff I create probably falls into 2 categories:
1. Stuff that someone else has already patented. And by that I mean I developed it on my own without knowledge of the existing patent, but someone somewhere probably already patented it. Patents are supposed to be novel enough that this should almost never happen, but we all know many modern patents are complete trash and a trained chimp could've come up with the same solution.
2. Stuff that someone else will patent at some point in the future.

Either way, I can't afford to patent all my own inventions, nor can I afford to litigate. So patents aren't helpful at all to me - they only serve to put the brakes on development because its basically impossible to write software without infringing someone's patent these days, so everyone is just living in hope that the patent holder doesn't notice or get pissed off with them. That isn't a healthy way to do things.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen