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Comment: Re:"Rest assured, the data is going to be obscured (Score 5, Informative) 266

by bmajik (#48028231) Attached to: Microsoft's Asimov System To Monitor Users' Machines In Real Time


I work extensively with Microsoft customer usage data (although on Visual Studio, not Windows)

Odds are, unless you've been very intentional about ticking the checkboxes the right way, Microsoft is already collecting usage data from you -- for a variety of products. Never without your consent, of course.

The issues around anonymizing your data and removing PII are taken very seriously. It's damn frustrating, because I often look over the data for user 234209342349 and think, "I wish I could email this guy and ask why the hell he is doing that". But there is no way for me to recover PII for VS client customers.

For the Visual Studio products, a typical approach is that data that might have a PII impact is one-way hashed on your local machine, so that PII never goes over the wire and never gets to Microsoft to begin with.

You can use tools like filemon to see where VS dumps the usage data files it generates. I don't remember if these look like binary mess on disk or not, but they get written to disk, and then you can see them go over the wire some time later. You could of course use a packet sniffer to see the on-the-wire format, and if it differs from what is stored on disk.

The data we scrub in VS covers the obvious things -- account names or email addresses -- but also some more subtle things -- like file paths (because these could contain your username, or a company name, or anything else), and even thing like VS Project Type names (because Company Foo can create their own Project Type, and might put their company name in the Project Type Name)

So anyway, there's actually not much of a story here. I can't comment on the truth or accuracy of what MJF is saying. However, what she is saying is that, in effect, the latency between usage data being locally captured/calculated, and that data being sent to Microsoft (assuming the user has allowed usage data to be sent), is now much lower than it was in the past.

For VS, at least, I know what data we have available to us. I opt-in to all of the MS data collection stuff, because I see no evidence of it being used inappropriately, and, because I know that we use it to try and understand what users are doing and why they are doing it.

Opting into the data collection stuff effectively gives you "a vote" in how we do things in future releases.

Comment: Re:Start menu usage dropped in lieu of what? (Score 1) 266

by operagost (#48027241) Attached to: Microsoft's Asimov System To Monitor Users' Machines In Real Time
The problem is that searching now requires hunting for a hidden menu, which rarely appears even when you know where to point (especially in a remote session). Then, when you have it, you have to click again to change where you search, then type what you are looking for. I've gone old school-- I've relearned all the hot keys (Win+F for search) and treat Windows Server 2012 like it's a DOS app, because the GUI is unusable.

Comment: Re:Fine. Legislate for externalities. (Score 1) 475

by operagost (#48027169) Attached to: Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power
If you have a battery bank, you are either off-grid or you have a very, very expensive hybrid system. It is horribly expensive to be grid-tied AND off-grid; that is, with the ability to run off the panels and/or batteries alone. It costs almost as much as having two entirely separate systems-- totally off the scale. That's an area I'd like to see improve.

Comment: Re:Depending on local ordinances... (Score 2) 475

by operagost (#48026835) Attached to: Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power
"Progressives" are the worst reactionaries around. They'll impose regulations like this under the guise of Depression-era ideas of "modernization" that were aimed at enlightening the poor, ignorant hicks in the backwoods. Meanwhile, we've moved past that, but you just try to take back your liberty and see what happens.

Comment: Re:So? (Score 1) 475

by operagost (#48026713) Attached to: Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power
In the USA the road taxes on diesel fuel are higher than on gasoline-- and our adoption of diesel passenger cars is very low-- so de facto we have higher taxes on the heavier vehicles. Of course, toll roads also charge by axle. Won't be a big change in the status quo.

Alternatively, one could just realize that many government fees are not about proportionately recovering costs, but influencing certain behaviors that have a variety of costs and benefits elsewhere.

I don't like government trying to modify human behavior, other than to keep humans from harming other humans.

Work continues in this area. -- DEC's SPR-Answering-Automaton