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Comment I'd like to reverse the process (Score 1) 254

I'd like it if, rather than the merchant charging me and the bank having to figure out if it's legitimate or fraudulent, I send a message to my bank/card-issuer saying "Pay this merchant this much, here's their reference number and here's my TOTP authenticator code.". That should reduce the problem dramatically, and turn the physical card and/or knowledge of the account number into a last-ditch resort when I can't get a data connection, can't get a text message out, can't get a voice call out or don't have my phone with me and the store doesn't have a phone line I can use.

Comment Re:Cheating regulations is rampant (Score 5, Informative) 91

Not quite the same thing. What VW did was recognize the test and change operating modes only during testing. What Samsung did was build a "Home" mode for optimum energy savings and other modes (including changing settings from the defaults in Home mode to give a custom mode) that optimized viewing experience at the expense of power use. The EU's tests use "Home" mode and don't test any other modes, while most consumers immediately adjust the TV for optimum viewing regardless of power consumption, so of course TVs in normal use use more power than their test scores indicate. But the TV doesn't change anything on it's own and it doesn't run any differently during the test than it does in the same mode in normal use, it's just that the EU didn't bother testing the TV in the configuration most consumers are going to set it to. Myself, I'd run the test in every mode the TV has and compare results because you know consumers aren't going to ignore additional modes.

Comment Surprised this still works (Score 1) 139

I'm surprised this scam still works today. All of my cards automatically reject purchases where the shipping address isn't the billing address of my card. I can add addresses to the valid list, but I have to do it beforehand through their web site or through customer service. That should shut this kind of scam down.

Or the other obvious change of, instead of having the merchant charge my card, have me tell my bank/issuer to pay the merchant. Then the merchant never needs to know my card number and it's a lot harder for scam artists to operate.

Comment Pay-for-access idea (Score 1) 229

How about an ad blocker that charges advertisers per view to let their ads be seen, and pays users a portion of that (say split it 10% to the blocker's developer, half the remainder to the site and half to the user) if they allow the ads to be shown to them. If the advertiser wants more views, they can either a) make more interesting ads that people actually want to see or b) offer more money for people's attention.

Comment Re:Engineers were just as guilty (Score 1) 569

Can you afford to walk away from your job right this minute? Knowing you'll get no unemployment compensation, no welfare, no assistance of any kind? It's one thing to voluntarily follow orders, quite another when the person giving the orders is holding the welfare of your family hostage against your good behavior. In my book people who refuse to recognize this are complicit with management in the act, they directly help management perpetuate the conditions that let management get away with these crimes.

Comment Re:I said "No, I won't put that code in." (Score 4, Insightful) 569

Exactly. The basic problem is a lack of management ethics. Management considers it perfectly acceptable to cheat like this, knowing they're cheating and breaking the law while doing so, and they expect everyone in the organization to follow along. Management also considers it perfectly acceptable to lie about why they let someone go, rather than simply fire them for disobeying orders (which would leave the employee free to say exactly what orders they disobeyed) they find some other innocuous excuse and leave the employee no real way to respond when asked by a future employer why they were terminated. Until management ethics is fixed, it won't be possible to do anything about engineering ethics.

Comment Go limp (Score 4, Interesting) 381

I'd go limp: "We'll comply with your request. Please send us the contact information for the service that you'll accept as authoritative for whether or not a request from a particular IP address originates in France or not. We'll also require a binding agreement that the determination of this service cannot be contested by either Google or the French government, and that if any third party demonstrates that the service made an incorrect determination use of that service will be discontinued and the French government shall not demand compliance from Google until the French government has selected a new authority. Until we are in receipt of this information and agreement, Google will unfortunately be unable to operate the French-localized Google site and will be unable to serve search results for France or any French entity or person. Have a nice day.".

Comment Geographic diversity (Score 5, Informative) 68

First rule: have facilities capable of running your business in more than one location. Everywhere is susceptible to disaster of one sort or another, but if you pick areas far apart that aren't geographically similar they probably won't both suffer disasters at the same time.

Second rule: the probability of disaster taking out your main facilities is 100%. It will happen. The only question is exactly when it'll happen, and the only constant in the answer is that it won't be at a good time. If anyone in your organization doesn't like this, remind them that reality doesn't really care what they like.

Comment Apps and APIs (Score 1) 255

I think there'll still be apps, but things will evolve to having apps in parallel with APIs. For example, for an appointment-management service there'll be an app (or more than one, eg. a webapp for desktop use and a mobile app or mobile-optimized webapp for phone/tablet use) for customers who just want to let clients make appointments and want to be able to manage those appointments and don't need a lot of customization. There'll also be API access that would let customers get at the basic operations (with appropriate authentication and filtering for safety) that the apps themselves use so more sophisticated customers can use the service's functionality through a custom interface. It won't be an exclusive-or situation either, a customer may have their Web developer use the API to integrate setting up appointments into their own client web site while their staff use the standard webapp to manage appointments.

Neither the app nor the API will likely be free, either. The customer's clients won't pay in the above scenario, but aside from a trial period the customer would have to pay for access to the service (the amount probably depending on their usage and what features they want access to). We're about to hit a point where merely being able to get a huge userbase won't be considered valuable, you'll need to have a feasible roadmap for getting a revenue stream from your users. A thousand users each paying a monthly subscription will be more valuable than a million users not paying you anything. And frankly it's a lot easier to maintain paying users if you start them out as paying users.

Comment Re:A lot of people are dismissing this idea outrig (Score 1) 289

It's complete bullshit, at least at the current state of the art. It's not a new idea either. People who aren't actual developers have been pushing this idea of drag-and-drop "programming" since the early 80s at least. 30 years of work, and the most they've managed are tools to automate generating the boilerplate code to lay out UI elements in the software's interface. They haven't even managed to automate moving the values from the UI fields into the software's internal objects/variables, the task's just too complex for their tools. So, why would anyone thing they'll overnight overcome all the problems and hurdles in their way and suddenly make orders of magnitude more progress in the next couple-three years than they have in the last 3 decades?

Comment Re:Risk assessment (Score 1) 154

Well, #1 and #3 come under technical "Can we do it?", at least the parts where the company has the technical ability to switch providers if one goes out of business and to handle connectivity problems (I classify a provider going out of business as just a particularly severe and long-term connectivity problem, communications with their systems is completely down and won't ever be back up). The rest is all business decisions, the same sort business makes about every external vendor the company does business with. Legal issues in particular aren't something IT should be involved in, the company pays real lawyers to advise the business on that sort of thing and if I as a techie know more about the legal aspects than the lawyers something is really wrong.

Comment The answer is yes (Score 4, Informative) 154

The first call comes from the technical people, and answers the question "Is the company technically able to move to the cloud, and if not what's required to get it to that point?". Once you've got that covered, then business can decide whether it makes sense to move and whether they want to invest what it'll take to make it happen. If it isn't technically possible it doesn't matter how much business wants it, and business can't make a determination about investing what's needed to make it possible if they don't know how much investment it'll take. You can't make a cost/benefit decision if you don't know the cost.

Comment Re:Had ex-employee leave me for six figure COBOL j (Score 2) 86

The problem isn't the systems. It's 50 years of business logic embedded in the code that runs those systems. Half of it was never documented, because management needed it Right Now and once it was working they needed the developers on another project they also needed Right Now. Of the half that is documented, most of it has undocumented special cases in it and nobody has a clue whether they're needed anymore or not. And this is where the sticking point is, because you can't configure a canned solution to do the job if you don't know what the job is and there's always parts of it so arcane that the canned solutions just won't handle it (this is usually the final nail in the coffin of SAP projects that actually went long enough to get the basics working).

So the decision's more often whether to spend a million dollars on a new system and keep 100 developers, analysts and the like at $100K/year working for 8-10 years on the new system and keep those 10 COBOL developers working for the same period (because you need the old system working until the new one's at least mostly ready), or just keep the 10 COBOL developers working.

Comment Hostile governments... (Score 5, Informative) 124

"'s significant that someday a large portion of the world's traffic will flow through networks controlled by governments that are, at least to some extent, hostile to the core values of Western democracies."

And some of those will be the governments of Western democracies. That's the truly maddening part.

Comment More basic than just finding the results they want (Score 5, Informative) 118

The basic flaw is worse. They didn't just run one test, find the results they wanted and go with it. They ran a test with only an idea of what they wanted, then took all the results they got and picked out ones that were positive for conditions or treatments they could go with. It's like going into a test for a drug to treat heart attacks, finding that it doesn't do anything for heart attacks but does seem to lower cholesterol levels, and announcing that the trials of your new cholesterol medication were positive.

Having to declare up front what their goals are destroys the ability to cherry-pick like this. What we're seeing with the drop in positive results isn't so much the difference in clinical effectiveness of the drugs but the dragging into the spotlight of the pharma companies' ability to predict what their drugs will do and how well they'll do them. There's a very interesting blog here that covers a lot of this, and one conclusion that keeps coming up again and again is that medical biochemists and researchers don't really have a good way of predicting from lab results what a compound will do in a live human. It also highlights fairly often how the drug companies will keep pushing a drug through trials even though the results aren't encouraging. It's a common attitude in business and finance, that now that you've invested this much money in something you have to get some return out of it to justify the cost. It's also a common failing in gambling, the belief that now that you're in the hole you have to dig yourself out somehow. But in gambling, if you're holding a bad hand your best bet is to fold. Don't worry about how much you've already got in the pot, it's already lost. Fold and cut your losses before you throw any more money away. Drug companies are notoriously bad at making that decision to walk away. They're also notoriously bad at dealing with a field where there aren't many good rules you can follow to get results. MBAs like process and procedure and predictable results, and right now biochemical research is in a situation where the new stuff is all likely out in areas where there isn't a lot of research, there isn't a good map of the territory and you're going to be doing a lot of "poke it with a pointy stick and let's see what it does" work.

In space, no one can hear you fart.