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Comment Re: Like the nazi used to say (Score 5, Interesting) 431

Some kid broke a couple of thermometers in a classroom a couple years ago around here and the EPA was called when word got out to some helicopter parent. They brought in a device to measure the mercury vapor level in the room and the room was declared a hazard after taking the air measurements. The room became a suit-up, limited exposure-time environment while they figured out what to do. Students houses were visited and clothing and shoes bagged for hazmat disposal. Seriously. I believe the room's carpet is now rolled up and buried in a hazardous chemicals disposal facility. The paranoia prevalent today about mercury is ridiculous and is unfortunately being backed up by supposed scientific authorities.

It's funny that my generation is not the one with all the crazy levels of autism claims, and we're the ones that freely played around with mercury in our chemistry classes.

Comment Remote Support Should be Easy, But Isn't (Score 5, Interesting) 288

Having worked in user support and network administration for multiple industries, I can imagine the frustration for caregivers when even the remote support software is just too confusing for the user.

For instance, many of the most popular remote support services require the end user to jump through multiple hoops that may include surfing to a particular web address (which they invariably type into Google or Yahoo instead of the address bar), entering a series of digits they swear they typed correctly (but often haven't and are too stubborn to re-read what they typed), then watch the screen for browser interaction prompts (which may be reasonable-sized prominent pop-up dialogs, but are more often either a noticeable thin yellow bar at the top or bottom of the browser window, or even worse, a pop-up window that somehow ended up as a pop-under, even though that's not how it is supposed to be), then click only the buttons that answer in the affirmative. All of this assumes the user's browser even works correctly.

Some days, it seems that even the young-uns can't figure out how to allow a remote support session.

I do know there are a few less-complicated remote support products, but they are few and far between, do not seem to be popular enough to be in common use in these scenarios, and often have more security issues than the services I mention above.

Much of the remote support problem is the catch-22 of browser security. If you don't secure the browser more, the customer is at risk. If you do secure the browser more, the customer's experience is further complicated.

There are those who would say "just educate the user". These are the people who do not understand their fellow humans and the limitations different types of learner and different generational barriers.

So, what about writing down instructions ahead of time? That gets into what the original post discussed; The interface will inevitably change, either for the browser or for the remote support service.

I'm not saying I think there is a fix. I don't. I do think it is something that might could be solved if the industry becomes more aware of the Human Interface Design problem it has.

Comment Re:...meth (Score 1) 168

I'm sure there will be folks who disagree with this, but between me and one long-time industry veteran I just unscientifically polled, we think copper's easier to repair after a vandal cuts it, so I'd rather have a cut copper than a cut fiber. Additionally, a cut fiber line can have exponentially more traffic in it compared with even the largest copper lines, so it ends up affecting more service during the downtime. This doesn't mean I don't like fiber (capacity and long-distances make it king), it's just some of the reality of the situation.

Automated fiber splicing equipment does make the job of repairing fiber easier than it was 20 years ago, but the job is still somewhat more delicate than splicing copper, and seems prone to more complications.

Comment Re:...meth (Score 1) 168

Never underestimate stupidity, people will always surpass expectations.

I can tell you firsthand that you are incorrect in your assumption that they wouldn't be looking for copper. At my job, we've had one particular 24-count fiber cut by idiot copper thieves multiple times over the past few years (at least that line is only a 24).

They usually gravitate to our cross-country runs that are out in the woods or in huge, out-of-the-way fields where they won't be noticed. The problem is that the morons just automatically assume that any large black phone cable on the pole is going to be copper. Once they cut into it, if it is fiber, they just leave it laying there and we end up having to track the cut down using an OTDR. If it is copper, they'll take a span or two of it with them before bugging out.

The reason computer chips are so small is computers don't eat much.

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