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Comment: Re:My email to press@starbucks.com (Score 4, Insightful) 103

by Andy Smith (#49759125) Attached to: Hacker Warns Starbucks of Security Flaw, Gets Accused of Fraud

For most of my life I've worked freelance so I haven't had much experience of the corporate world. But I recently worked for a small newspaper company (approx 400 employees) for a year and it was an eye-opening experience. It amazes me how anything ever gets done in these blind, ignorant, slow-moving organisations.

I'll give you one example. The company's web filter had an issue with our own web sites, which prevented us from reading them. When I asked IT about it they knew what the problem was, but they couldn't authorise the fix and they suggested I raise the issue with my manager. But my manager was unapproachable -- asking for something to be done was the best way to make sure it didn't get done. It took over a YEAR for a small newspaper company to fix an IT issue that prevented staff from reading their own newspapers' web sites.

I dread to think what life must be like in big corporations. I don't want to ever experience it.

Comment: Agreed BUT (Score 1, Interesting) 616

by Andy Smith (#49710885) Attached to: Editor-in-Chief of the Next Web: Adblockers Are Immoral

In very black-and-white terms I agree with Martin Bryant.

BUT... to give one example, a lot of web sites (including Slashdot) are unusable on my iPhone nowadays because of ads that either (1) automatically redirect me to a product on the App Store as soon as the ad loads, or (2) try to do that, but do it badly so Safari closes the web page and reloads it.

Maybe if advertisers didn't behave so aggressively, people wouldn't aggressively block them. I block ads on my Mac, and if it was possible (maybe it is?) then I'd block them on my iPhone too. Not because I object to adverts, or even because I want to avoid seeing them, but because they make browsing the web an obnoxious, frustrating and potentially dangerous experience. (The only virus I've ever had was from an advert force-loading a malformed PDF document.)

Comment: Re: Such is C (Score 1) 264

by Andy Smith (#49636751) Attached to: C Code On GitHub Has the Most "Ugly Hacks"

I always wonder when I see code like that, which is focused on optimisation, why they use divide and modulo? Aren't they slow? Why wouldn't the coder have used >> 3 instead of the divide by 8, and & 7 instead of the modulo 8? Genuinely asking because these strike me as obvious further speed boosts. Does the compiler automatically make the changes?

Comment: Law enforcement doing what they should do (Score 1) 254

What a bizarre summary, with all the talk about Pearl Harbour and how the Virginia Tech shooting date has greater significance locally than naturally.

The fact is that this was a clearly-made threat, whether genuine or not. Law enforcement took appropriate steps to investigate. It's not even an IT issue, just because someone used their phone (?) to post the threat on a public forum, or whatever you want to call Yik Yak.

Comment: IPhones (Score 5, Interesting) 484

by Andy Smith (#49552543) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Are the Most Stable Smartphones These Days?

You're not kidding about iPhones (or rather iOS) becoming less stable.

I've got an iMac, Macbook Air, iPad Mini 2 and iPhone 6 Plus, all in daily use, and it was a godsend to me when Yosemite and iOS 8 introduced handoff and full AirDrop support. Except... it only works randomly. One minute the iPhone can see everything but nothing can see it. Then it can only see the iPad but now the iMac can see the iPhone.

I regularly need to transfer screenshots from my iPhone to my Mac and I used AirDrop for about a week, but then it stopped working and hasn't worked since.

When it first stopped working, I started using Cloud Share and uploading all the screenshots to the cloud so I could then download them on the Mac... but there's always one file missing. No matter how many screenshots I transfer, if n>1 then only n-1 turn up on the Mac.

Honestly over the past couple of months I've lost confidence in Apple. There's no point adding these great features if they don't actually work. And in my experience, Apple features that don't work never get fixed. New features seem to be more about marketing than actual usability.

Comment: About time (Score 2) 105

by Andy Smith (#49398561) Attached to: Court Refuses To Dismiss AT&T Throttling Case

Internet / telecoms companies really do seem to view their customers as enemies.

15 years ago in the UK there were dozens of broadband startups and big-name companies advertising "unlimited" broadband and then throttling you if you went over a couple of gigs. I don't think a single one of them got hauled through the courts for it. The biggest one, British Telecom, had their throttling exposed by a primetime TV show, and they just breezed on, lying to customers, untouchable.

Comment: Wouldn't really matter (Score 5, Insightful) 447

by Andy Smith (#49364709) Attached to: Why the Final Moments Inside a Cockpit Are Heard But Not Seen

Someone like Andreas Lubitz could have just reached up and stuck something over the camera lens. That's if he even cared about being filmed, which is doubtful. From what we're hearing about his desire for notoriety, he'd have probably loved to have those last moments caught on camera and broadcast around the world.

We're probably going to see a lot of TV news shows and newspapers calling for cameras in cockpits, but it won't be anything to do with safety, it will be because the footage has commercial value to news organisations.

Comment: Bullying (Score 5, Informative) 662

by Andy Smith (#49346283) Attached to: Jeremy Clarkson Dismissed From Top Gear

Anyone who has been bullied at work must be sickened by the public support for Jeremy Clarkson. Even in sacking him for the physical assault on Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon, BBC director general Tony Hall seemed almost apologetic, taking the opportunity to thank Clarkson for his work on Top Gear and wishing him the best for the future.

But if you've experienced bullying first hand then you know what a destructive force the Clarksons of the world are. Your workplace becomes a place of dread and fear. The stress becomes not just a part of your daily life, but a part of who you are as a person. It changes you.

My own experience of being bullied began when I took a job with a company that had just promoted a long-standing employee in to a management position. He had no experience of managing people, he received no training, and he openly said that he didn't want the job. He was visibly stressed almost constantly, and resented that he was still expected to work and not just manage other people's work.

Very early in the job I was shouted at in the middle of a busy office for completing a task that should have been cancelled. It was a foul-mouthed and very personal tirade of abuse, accusing me of being untrustworthy, and came totally out of the blue. Then my manager realised that he had forgotten to mark the task as cancelled, and quietly in a private room away from other staff, he apologised and promised never to speak to me like that in front of people again.

The details of bullying incidents are generally repetitive and boring, so suffice to say, this was just the beginning of what became regular abuse: Shouted at in the middle of the office for things I had allegedly done wrong, and then apologised to in private.

I put up with the abuse for way too long. I'd spoken to my union rep and kept a bullying diary as advised, but I never started a grievance procedure. Colleagues said I should, and one day I ended up talking to the company secretary about it, but I backed off, determined to resolve the issue myself. Ultimately, I told myself, this is a case of two grown men having a clash of personalities, and I should be able to resolve it. But of course I couldn't.

After about a year I had to take time off work for an unconnected health reason, which seemed to go on a lot longer than one might expect. After a week back at work, I was off again with flu, which seemed to go on forever. My doctor was puzzled and I was sent to the hospital for tests. But in conversation with my doctor one time I mentioned about how it was actually quite nice to be off work because it was an escape from the bullying, and it was as if I'd said the magic word. My doctor was certain that the stress of being bullied was the root cause of my poor health. It explained everything. It turns out that a year of sleepless nights and constant anxiety isn't very good for you.

The BBC has done the right thing in sacking Clarkson. When I finally had to take formal action against my manager, the company was combative, and handled it on the basis that I was making it all up. I opted for the least "official" form of grievance, third-party arbitration, and my manager held his hands up to what he'd been doing and promised to change. Whether he could or not, I don't know, as I've not been well enough to return to work yet.

I've watched every episode of Top Gear since Clarkson joined the programme. I like him as a presenter. But I see him now for what he really is: A person who knows how to present himself to the people who control his career -- his bosses and the viewers -- but feels he can abuse the people below him. No doubt he will now be snapped up by another TV channel, or Netflix, and he'll continue to make great programmes that entertain millions. But we know now what he's like behind the scenes, and even a bully that knows he's a bully will still be a bully.

Comment: What about prevention? (Score 1) 262

by Andy Smith (#49339945) Attached to: RadioShack Puts Customer Data Up For Sale In Bankruptcy Auction

"New York's Attorney General says his office will take 'appropriate action' if the data is handed over."

So they must think handing over the data would be unlawful. Why not prevent it from happening in the first place?

Submit the customers to a lifetime of real world spam, and then do what, take action against a company that doesn't exist anymore?

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