Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
For the out-of-band Slashdot experience (mostly headlines), follow us on Twitter, or Facebook. ×

Comment: 5 GHz bands are much quieter (Score 2) 146 146

by billstewart (#49992457) Attached to: WiFi Offloading is Skyrocketing

Almost everybody's on 2.4 GHz, and the bands overlap with each other as well as with your microwave oven. If you can run your Wifi on 5 GHz, and don't have distance problems, it's really what you want.

Unfortunately, while my Linksys WiFi router can use both frequencies, it can only use one at a time, and I've got a few 2.4GHz-only devices in the house, so I'm stuck with 2.4. Occasionally it gets tempting to switch it to 5 GHz and drag out its dumber predecessor to run 2.4 on. (I bought the newer one because I needed 802.11n to compete with all my neighbors' 802.11n drowning out my wimpy 802.11g system. I was also surprised to find that it didn't support IPv6 sigh.)

Comment: Most phone spammers are thieves (Score 1) 193 193

by billstewart (#49941483) Attached to: 86.2 Million Phone Scam Calls Delivered Each Month In the US

Sorry - anybody who works for Rachel from Cardholder Services or Fake Microsoft Technical Support or Fake IRS is a scammer, and knows that their job is to rip people off. Thieves don't rate the "just doing their crappy job" excuse, unlike the people who call up trying to sell me legitimate services when they know (or should know) that I'm on the Do Not Call List so I'm not interested.

Comment: Spammers with Broken Robots and Bad VOIP (Score 1) 193 193

by billstewart (#49941463) Attached to: 86.2 Million Phone Scam Calls Delivered Each Month In the US

Look, it's one thing for spammers to call up and waste my time. But more than half of them these days call up and don't ever play a message or put their agent on the phone so I can waste their time. I don't know if they're just badly understaffed (at least they could play a recording), or their equipment is broken, or their call center is checking my number against the Do Not Call List after I answer instead of before (presumably because of how they charge each other for various services.) And lately I've been getting people with bad VOIP systems calling up and playing crackly versions of the "Rachel from Cardholder Services" tape - at least they could use a higher bit rate.

I work from home most days, and my wife usually get up a couple hours after I do, so I answer the phone on first ring to avoid having it wake her up if I let the answering machine get it. Real calls at that time are usually the pharmacy's robot saying there's something ready, or the gas company robot saying they're still going to be digging up the street; other calls are usually spam robots.

Comment: IRS Scammers (Score 1) 193 193

by billstewart (#49941415) Attached to: 86.2 Million Phone Scam Calls Delivered Each Month In the US

I've had some interesting conversations with them, when they called my cellphone instead of my home phone. One of them was telling me how stupid Americans are, we only speak one language while he speaks lots (I asked him in French, German, and Spanish if he spoke any of those languages, but he was on a rant.) Eventually he decided to just start insulting me, thinking that telling me I was a "black n-----" would be a useful insult. Since I was in the lobby at work, I didn't go into a long rant about how racist that was and how he probably didn't get along with the various colors of people in his country, but hung up on him. The other guy was mainly bragging about how I'd never be able to trace his call, and he was using Magic Jack for VOIP, and how he could break into my mobile phone (which he demonstrated to me by calling with his caller-ID set to my number), and was at least more amusing to talk to, for a shameless thief.

Comment: Re:Best "nice try" was the guy in India... (Score 1) 193 193

by billstewart (#49941391) Attached to: 86.2 Million Phone Scam Calls Delivered Each Month In the US

My mom was amused by those scammers. She's used Macintoshes for nearly 30 years, and her Mac is only on the internet when she tells the modem to dial up her ISP. (Her vision's not good enough to use the web, and modem's plenty for email, much to the frustration of my siblings who don't like using sub-broadband speeds when visiting her.) So the "Your Windows machine is sending out viruses!" got a very quick hang up.

I've kept some of them on line for over an hour, when I've had time; eventually the caller's boss came on and yelled at me for wasting his employee's time. Other times I've told them I didn't have time for their lying bullshit right now, and got aggressively cursed at.

Comment: HTC Aria on AT&T also (Score 1) 104 104

by billstewart (#49932633) Attached to: Samsung Cellphone Keyboard Software Vulnerable To Attack

Apparently there was a period of a couple of weeks when I could have gotten the upgrade from 2.1 to 2.2, but the carrier didn't actually push it, just made it available if you noticed and asked it to download, and soon after that, when Google Play came out, my Locked-To-Android-Market phone could no longer do any updates. I couldn't find a smartphone that small to replace it (sorry, but smallness is a feature for something you carry in your pocket), and eventually replaced the phone when apps I wanted were only running on 4.x anyway. I suppose I should go back and Cyanogenize it.

Comment: How we know they didn't crack Snowden doc cache (Score 1) 222 222

by billstewart (#49931903) Attached to: Glen Greenwald: Don't Trust Anonymous Anti-Snowden Claims

If the Commies (more likely Russians than Chinese, for economic reasons) had cracked Snowden's document cache, they'd be able to throw lots of people at reading them all quickly and correlating them, and they'd need a month or so to recall any spies that were outed, or give them good false information to spread, and bust any US and other countries' spies they can (or give them even more disinformation.) But after that, they'd be free to start releasing documents embarrassing to the Obama and Bush Administrations and the permanent NSA/CIA/DIA/FBI/DEA/TLA/etc. agencies, totally tanking most of their composition here and throwing the US into chaos, along with GCHQ, UK Parliament, and probably some Canadians or the Deutsche Bundesfoo..

They haven't. This either means they haven't cracked the document cache, or that they're a really devious conspiracy, blackmailing US/UK politicians or waiting until after the election or something. (Maybe they want the Tories to trash the UK, for instance.)

Comment: I have an HOA, but they're my neighbors (Score 1) 557 557

I'm in a 32-unit condo. Yes, we've got an HOA, but it's just us. We've occasionally hired management companies to do stuff for us, but only when it made sense. And yeah, we've occasionally gotten into arguments, like the current one about what trees need to be cut down (the cheapskate builder who built the place in the 70s did things like planting redwoods and some fast-growing trees right next to the building, so we're having problems with roots and roofs that stay wet all the time, but they are nice for shade. And we do occasionally have people who get grumpy about the monthly fees, but the accountant is one of the residents, you can see all the numbers, and possibly we need to be putting even more into some of the maintenance funds than we do.

Comment: Conduit FTW. And Documentation! Lotsa sockets. (Score 1) 557 557

I live in a condo. It was built in the 1970s, with the kind of high quality building where right angles weren't really a requirement, just kind of a suggestion, cement subfloor needed to be smooth enough to cover with carpet, not actually good enough to replace with wood later, redwoods and other trees were planted too near the buildings so we're having root problems, etc. Even though some of the folks have been here since the beginning (and it's only a 32-unit complex), nobody's got a bloody clue where lots of the wiring and plumbing is. We know where a few parts of it are, but how the plumbing or electricity gets between the upstairs and downstairs units is mostly a mystery, and when the cable company wanted to replace the old analog system with digital, they just ran new cables on the outside of the building and made holes because they couldn't figure out what was going on inside (so I've got some really convenient cable jacks that aren't on the new system.)

But yeah, conduit is the way to future-proof any communication technology that does need wires. Also, heating/cooling ducts can be really useful (both for themselves, and for adding in wire later if you didn't have conduit.) I currently live in a part of California that has lots of buildings with electric heat (lowest upfront cost to the builder, and my annual heat costs are higher than when I lived somewhere with actual winter), and we don't really know how the 220V line gets from the thermostat to the heater, and don't want to rip out the ceiling and walls to trace it. (Before that I lived in a house with steam radiators, which I liked, but there wasn't a way to put in central A/C.)

Putting in more sockets along the walls than your current electrical code calls for is usually a win, as is home-running them all to the electrical box if you can. I needed more power upstairs, and we had to rip out a bunch of bathroom wall and ceiling to run the cables from the circuit breaker box. Also, you should put in a circuit breaker box that's big enough to add a bunch of random things later, instead of one that just barely has room for the initial wiring.

Comment: I asked them about NiMH's (Score 1) 243 243

by billstewart (#49846317) Attached to: Company Extends Alkaline Battery Life With Voltage Booster

Some applications care about having nearly 1.5 volts, and this device will make a disposable battery last a lot longer for them; I've had a few electronic or electro-mechanical devices that got grumpy about only getting 1.2 volts from NiMH, so I asked these guys about it.

Their response was that it'll boost the voltage just fine, but may be bad for the battery's life, because they really don't like being drained too low, and the Batteriser is designed to suck every bit of power it can out of a disposable battery, not to treat a rechargeable battery nicely.

Lithium-Ion batteries are even more picky, and need special control circuitry that'll cut off the power if the battery's voltage gets too low (and also cut off charging if it gets too high.) NiMH aren't as picky about it, but you can still shorten their useful life a lot if you mistreat them; back when I was using a lot of them, I'd typically only get 5-10 full charge/discharge cycles from one if I wasn't careful. They could make a model that worked with NiMH if they wanted too, but it'd probably cost them a few cents more in circuitry, and they're trying to make a low-cost retail device.

The best solution I found to that problem was Nickel-Zinc rechargeable batteries, which have a chemistry that puts out 1.6 volts, so almost all of the devices that are picky about voltage are really happy with them, and capacity was similar to NiMH. Unfortunately, they seem to have disappeared from the market a bit after I bought the first batch of them, or at least Fry's stopped carrying them.

Comment: Re: HD VOIP (Score 1) 66 66

It's apparently more complicated than that. AT&T and Verizon have started offering it, on LTE phones, but it's rolling out slowly on a geography-by-geography basis, rather than being available everywhere at once.

* (Disclaimer: I work for AT&T, so I should probably know this stuff, but I do network security, not mobile phones.)

Loan-department manager: "There isn't any fine print. At these interest rates, we don't need it."