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Comment: Re:As someone who used to do support for Comcast (Score 1) 143

by sjames (#48948613) Attached to: Comcast Employees Change Customer Names To 'Dummy' and Other Insults

At least one of the customers that got called asshole did nothing more than insist on cancelling a premium option on their cable service. Her 'offense' was actually wanting the option cancelled.

As for the rest, for better or worse, these people are the only people reachable and so their job is to listen to the complaints. I do try to avoid screaming, but when I tell you there is no signal on the line at all anywhere on my street, I do not want to hear "reboot your computer" or I can't ping your modem, please be home between Monday and Thursday of next week so I can send someone who doesn't have any equipment to fix the actual problem (yes, paraphrased). Of course you can't ping my modem, your network is down. Apparently they haven't been provided any training at all and can't even look up other customers in my neighborhood so they can try pinging their modems.

Yes, it's the management's fault that they don't even have that very basic knowledge and necessary tools, but since they can't or won't put a manager on the phone (probably a matter of policy), all I can do is ask them to take dictation into a note on the account.

"Human Shield" has never been a pleasant job title, but it's the one that fits their role in the company more often than not.

Comment: Re:w***e ? (Score 2) 143

by sjames (#48948207) Attached to: Comcast Employees Change Customer Names To 'Dummy' and Other Insults

Sure, some people who call for support are frustratingly inept or just act like assholes. I get that. Sure, a support person may feel a need to vent by the water cooler. Fine and dandy.

But, these support assholes are changing the customer name in the database such that the bills go out addressing customers as "asshole" or "whore". That is beyond unprofessional. Perhaps their paychecks should be made out to "dumbass", or "fuck head". Fair's fair.

Comment: To Be Fair to Comcast (Score 2) 143

by Greyfox (#48948005) Attached to: Comcast Employees Change Customer Names To 'Dummy' and Other Insults
Last time I called them to update my expiring credit card number, I didn't even have to talk to a human being. It was all handled by a computer that was easy to understand, quick and didn't try to upsell me on any Comcast bullshit in the process. I gotta say I like Comcast a lot more when I don't have to talk to anyone there.

Comment: Re:Not my findings (Score 1) 198

by IamTheRealMike (#48947635) Attached to: The NSA Is Viewed Favorably By Most Young People

So, now you have strong evidence that the people you talk to are not representative of America as a whole.

I would not put it that way. I'd say we have strong evidence that opinion polling can easily result in confusing or apparently contradictory results. The first sentence of the linked blog post has an air of mild surprise about it, and not surprisingly - when polled, 75% of Americans disagree that their government is trustworthy all or most of the time, yet they view most departments favourably? That makes little sense.

Something else doesn't make much sense. This result can easily be read as "people approve of what the NSA is doing". That must be what favourable means, right? Yet this very same polling agency has found a year ago that a majority of Americans oppose NSA practices. It's possible things have changed in the span of 2014, but other polls frequently return contradictory results too. This one by the Washington Post says, in the same set of questions, most people think monitoring all online activity to prevent terrorism isn't worth it, but monitoring all phone calls is. Why the difference?

At any rate, it's certainly true that the civil liberties wing of western societies has done a really appalling job of explaining to people why this sort of behaviour by governments is so risky, and Americans don't have recent local experience to fall back on. Unlike, say, people in former Soviet bloc countries, or Germans.

Comment: Re:In other news... (Score 1) 198

by IamTheRealMike (#48947567) Attached to: The NSA Is Viewed Favorably By Most Young People

TFA is actually covering opinion polls relating to several government agencies, but in typical Slashdot form, TFS only focuses on the NSA section, because that will be more inflammatory.

.... or maybe, just of more interest to a tech/geek focused site? I guess the NSA is a lot more relevant than the VA, especially to non-American slashdotters like me.

The poll isn't very surprising given its consistency with previous polls, but that doesn't change the fact that the attitudes of Americans don't seem to be very internally consistent or easily explainable. Either American people are just strangely illogical or there's some subtle issue with the polling method (or both?). The big question mark this survey leaves hanging is why trust in government is at an all time low (along with falling trust in most institutions), yet iterating specific parts of the government yields mostly favourable views. This is such an odd result that the very first sentence in the poll writeup says:

The public continues to express positive views of many agencies of the federal government, even though overall trust in government is near historic lows.

Yes, indeed. The public does A even though B. How strange.

The way the poll works means there's little information that can be used to explain this. Perhaps the 8 departments they chose to ask people about aren't the reason people distrust government. Perhaps their distrust falls exclusively on Congress, or on the judicial branch. We can't tell from this result alone.

Another possibility is that the wording of the poll - although superficially neutral - does trigger bias. The question was "do you trust the government in Washington always or most of the time?". People might be distinguishing between "the government in Washington" and "other bits of the government", e.g. the NSA is not actually in the city of Washington whereas Congress is. Ditto for various other departments and especially the military which does a great job of spreading itself around the country.

My final thought is that people might be more naturally inclined to take out their dissatisfaction on Congress than on the executive branch, because getting mad at Congress feels like it might achieve something due to voting, whereas getting mad at the NSA is about as useful as getting mad at a brick wall. They answer to no one and can't be controlled, so it's a lot more comfortable if you can convince yourself they're on your side rather than not.

Comment: Re:"Support" != actually sacrifice for (Score 1) 374

by sjames (#48947427) Attached to: Most Americans Support Government Action On Climate Change

It is possible to do it proportionally. For example, just replace some of the income tax with the gas tax. The thresholds for income tax could even be adjusted so that the EIC pays for the gas tax for the poor. You could tax based on octane rating as well. Few poor people drive cars that need premium gas.

Comment: What a piece of doodoo (Score 1) 316

by MeNeXT (#48946185) Attached to: How, and Why, Apple Overtook Microsoft

My heading reads like the article. When looking back it's amazing what we can prove. Apple almost disappeared because of that mentality. Apple was the biggest PC maker when they lost the market. Apple was the biggest smartphone maker when it lost the market. The reason they were successful, as well as reason for their downfall is the same. Give the user what they want.

When Apple was leading in PC sales they produced an economical system which allowed the user to own a computer. IBM took that away because they continued on Apples lead and allowed the user to modify the system. With thousands (if not more) people scratching itches Apple could't compete. On one side you had IBM that was less restrictive stole the market and on the other you had Apple who was not permissive in modifications. Again we see the same with iOS and Android. If MS wants to take the phone market all it has to do is open Windows phone and remove all the restrictions, or at the least be less restrictive than Google. If MS would allow any app store it would take the lead. Or even less restrictive allow people to use and modify it as they see fit.

Comment: Re: Demand (Score 1) 205

by WebCowboy (#48945671) Attached to: New Study Says Governments Should Ditch Reliance On Biofuels

Mostly wrong. Emissions from burning biomatter are less than coal, and particulate emissions from power plants are very stingently regulated.

Particulates, called "fly ash", are removed electrostatically and collected along with the bottom ash--particles that are too heavy to go up the stack. This ash can be pelletised and used as a high quality fertiliser.

Processing food waste is a big challenge, from straw, husks, peels and such to animal waste (you can feed a lot of food products to livestock but you still have manure to handle). Such waste is not immediately must be composted or cooked or otherwise processed otherwise it does more harm than good.

I do not support subsidised production of " fuel crops" like switchgrass and surplus corn, but food waste in the developed world is almost tragic. Developing biomass energy technology is vital to recover this wasted energy source. Making it into automobile fuel is a bad way to do it, but burning it to make electricity or heat homes or capturing the methane (much more serious source of greenhouse effect) from landfills or stockyards or barns to use, well, solar be damned. This is recovering wasted energy anyways.

It should be said that though studies like this are scientifically valid, they are commissioned with a political agenda in mind. First we had peak oil, we were going to run out so we had to get off oil, which was a valid observation at the time. Then technology made more oil recoverable and now we have reserves that could stretch out centuries. But wait, if we burned all that oil it would release all this carbon and make our climate like it was when the dinosaurs were alive--also a theory with scientific merit. But then we use technology again to try to solve the issue and it gets shot down as well. Biofuels are inefficient and compromise food production. Nuclear is dangerous and makes toxic pollution. Wind is unreliable, destroys habitats and kills birds. Solar is similar in that it destroys habitat and is unreliable--we need to store and transmit power at night time. Hydro ruins rivers and floods lands and so on.

There is a pattern here. Scientific studies funded with the purpose of starting at a pre determined conclusion and working back to a credible theory to back it. Just like science funded by big oil or ither industries, governmental entities do this too. In cases like this it is done to justify ideological policies or the creation of bureaucracies.

Case and point...Kyoto and related accords spearheaded by the UN, which is dominated by developing and undeveloped nations and representatives that lean heavily socialist. The whole world needs to address climate change, but developing nations get a free pass and the rest enforce emissions caps through elabourate trade and credit schemes adminustered by a large bureaucracy. The real problem of climate change continues apace, but the agendas of developing nations to get a competitive advantage in industry and socialists have a means of wealth transfer/equalisation as well as guaranteed jobs running the cap and trade market...a handy nest-feathering scheme for them too (nothing is more treacherous than a wealthy socialist ;-)

It sure would be nice if we all did what is sensible and simple while we thought of all these wild future schemes...biofuel is a great concept when viewed in the "reduce, reuse, recycle" mindset. Using up thousands of acres to grow switchgrass for the sole purpose of making ethanol to put in cars is asinine, but so is building a solar array in the desert the size of Phoenix compared to making pig poop into electricity, which would have otherwise polluted waterways and released much more damaging methane into the atmosphere. Bonus is that the byproduct of creating electricity with pig poop is a quality, much more eco friendly fertiliser to *increase* food production.

But then that doesn't create scarcity which can be used to hold power over a population, nor does it advance the socialist cause of wealth redistribution. Also the concept is too simple there must be a get big government/corporate buy in a solution must be complex, intrusive, widespread and expensive.

+ - Gmail is no longer acceptable - Slashdot, please opine on alternatives! 4

Submitted by Press2ToContinue
Press2ToContinue (2424598) writes "Bettering security, I enable a VPN now (Avast Secureline) before accessing my banking and any other financial sites. Difficulty: gmail then thinks I'm a bot, and requires a captcha. In the past, after a few days of answering captchas, Google disabled access to my gmail, without recourse. It lasted 48 hours. I don't need this happening again. So, Google has now gone far enough IMHO. I need a reliable, secure email provider, with calendaring. So, (ahem, apprehensively) /.r's, you know the history (and can you see into the future?) of this sordid tale, what email service do -you- recommend to keep -my- email communications private? Or do you succumb idly to the false sense of security that accompanies the services of the almighty Goog?

(with a semi-faux-sheepish, yet vaguely wicked grin)"

You can measure a programmer's perspective by noting his attitude on the continuing viability of FORTRAN. -- Alan Perlis