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Comment: Re:AT&T Autopay - Ha! (Score 1) 229

So, there was no billing error here. The guy actually had his modem making long-distance calls for inordinate amounts of time. Doesn't seem like an AT&T error. Though it definitely sucks for the old man/woman!

No billing error? The entire billing system sucks balls at the largest possible frame.

There should be a legislative directive that all such usage-based billing plans provide an option for the end user to set hard spending caps, which are automatically enforced by the service provider.

Show me a corporation that doesn't—at least attempt—to enact hard spending caps enforced by automatic systems wherever and whenever possible. Heads roll in the gutters when a corporation loses $100 million because some trading desk manages to go rogue with respect to set trading limits. (By the Finnish system of traffic fines, a $100 million loss for AT&T is about on par with some old geezer tabbed for $25,000.)

End users are, of course, purposefully disadvantaged to have to police their own usage by manual vigilance, because everyone knows this is a lucrative fail mode for AT&T's revenue piracy service.

That this whole thing sucks balls right down to the bag root is the least possible diagnosis.

Comment: Re:More like to his own parents (Score 1) 160

Heh. That shows what I get for relying on my memory rather than looking it up again.

I'm particularly embarrassed that I followed a previous poster's lead in mispelling Gary Kildall's name.

Though, as the article you linked explains, Kildall did have a chance to make this deal and blew it, leaving it to Gates to pick up. Had Kildall been a better businessman Microsoft would never have become what it did, regardless of Gates' mom's connections.

Comment: Re:Vacuum robots (Score 1) 45

On the topic of vacuum robots...

Has anyone seen any vacuum robot that integrates with central vacuum? I'd love to have the robot's base station connected with my central vac so when the robot returns to charge the central vac empties the robot and maybe even cleans its filters a little. The combination would be true launch-and-forget ongoing carpet cleaning.

Comment: Re:Chrome - the web browser that's added as bloatw (Score 1, Insightful) 216

by swillden (#49606081) Attached to: Chrome Passes 25% Market Share, IE and Firefox Slip

I've seen it included with CCleaner and Avast. It's a plague.

You're referring to CCleaner and Avast, I assume? The AV industry is certainly a plague on the world.

Anyway, thanks for the specifics. I found some information that says CCleaner's installer asks if you'd also like to install Chrome -- it isn't bundled; it prompts for an additional download, AFAICT. I don't see anything about Chrome related to Avast other than that Avast has a Chrome extension.

Even assuming those are true, are the any other packages bundling Chrome? Is it just AV vendors? The claim is that it's added to a "lot" of products, and that that explains its growth and its presence on millions of machines. I don't think CCleaner and Avast are enough to move the needle significantly, even if they both always installed Chrome.

Comment: Re:More like to his own parents (Score 1) 160

Maybe. But IBM approached Kindall first. I strongly suspect that if he'd said "Sure! I'll license it to you for $5 per machine", IBM would have done the deal with him. There really weren't any "back room" negotiations required; it was a pretty straightforward deal.

It is perhaps possible that Mary Gates learned that IBM would be interested in a licensing deal, but I'm skeptical that John Opel would even have known that much about the project. IBM was an enormous company and the PC project was a small effort that nearly all of the company thought was irrelevant. It occurs to me that perhaps Mary Gates talked to Opel and found out that he didn't know much about it, and realized that the project didn't have much internal support, and from that deduced that the execs in charge were fighting internal opposition and might see a licensing deal as a way to get to market faster and cheaper before they could get shut down.

But all of that is purely speculation. What is clear is that (a) IBM did approach Kindall first and he ignored them, and (b) an OS licensing deal was good for the PC project. I see nothing to indicate that IBM wouldn't have accepted such an offer from Kindall.

Comment: Re:More like to his own parents (Score 2) 160

You were obviously not there at the time. Bill Gates got rich because IBM signed the daftest contract in computer history from their point of view. Yes: IBM - the company known for hiring the very best in legal expertise signed away their arms and legs

Why? - I would like to know that!

I don't think it's so strange. IBM didn't expect the PC to be a success. It was a niche project pushed by a few execs over the objections of more -- who saw it as undercutting IBM's real business, to whatever degree it was successful -- and ignored by most of the company as irrelevant. Other parts of the company were actively trying to kill the project. The group developing the PC needed an operating system and needed it quickly. They couldn't take the time to build one, assuming they could find the budget, and likewise couldn't pay a lot of cash up front. Licensing an existing OS for a low per-unit cost was an obvious win.

And, of course, by the time it became clear that the PC was a success, it was too late to change OSes, and by then Gates would've been a fool to sell. Besides, the cost to IBM was low and the machines were selling well. As long as IBM was the only company selling PCs, there really was no significant downside to IBM, and IBM was confident in its legal teams' ability to shut down clones... until Compaq performed a successful clean-room reverse engineering of the PC BIOS.

It ultimately boils down to lack of foresight, that the PC would be so important, and that IBM couldn't prevent clones. Without understanding those, IBM had no reason to insist on ownership of the OS.

Comment: Re:More like to his own parents (Score 2) 160

It helped with Billy's mommy was on the IBM's Board of Directors. So he got the sweet deal of licensing his software, instead of selling it outright.

No, Mary Gates was never on IBM's Board of Directors. She was on the United Way board, along with John Opel, then CEO of IBM. This may have helped Gates. Still, I don't see any reason Kindall wouldn't also have been able to get a licensing deal. There's no evidence he tried.

Comment: Re:Another way to bypass it (Score 2) 34

by swillden (#49605257) Attached to: Researcher Bypasses Google Password Alert For Second Time

Nicely done.

I expect this may turn into something of an arms race between phishing page authors and Google. The cleverest phishers may be able to stay consistently ahead of the extension, but I expect that they'll have to work for it... or would if significant numbers of people used the extension. I just checked the Chrome Web Store and so far there have only been 67K downloads. That's something but it's a long, long way from universal coverage.

The positive aspect of that is that as long as usage remains low, it won't make sense for phishers to bother trying to defeat it, which means it will offer good protection to the few who do.

Comment: Re:This again? (Score 1) 432

by Bruce Perens (#49598949) Attached to: New Test Supports NASA's Controversial EM Drive

OK, I will try to restate in my baby talk since I don't remember this correctly.

Given that you are accelerating, the appearance to you is that you are doing so linearly, and time dilation is happening to you. It could appear to you that you reach your destination in a very short time, much shorter than light would allow. To the outside observer, however, time passes at a different rate and you never achieve light speed.

Comment: Re:Almost... (Score 3, Interesting) 222

by swillden (#49598143) Attached to: Want 30 Job Offers a Month? It's Not As Great As You Think

Every... Day.... :-/

I have a polite canned reply, which basically says that unless the recruiter's client is looking for developers to work 100% remotely, AND that their pay scales are likely to exceed Google's by a significant margin, AND that they do really cool stuff, then I'm not interested. Oh, and I don't do referrals of friends (they get plenty of spam themselves).

I don't actually mind the recruiter spam. It only takes a couple of keystrokes to fire the canned response, and there's always the possibility that someone will have an opportunity that meets my criteria. Not likely, but possible. I'm not looking for a new job, but if an opportunity satisfies my interest requirements, I'm always open to a discussion.

However, when they keep pushing even when they know their job doesn't fit my requirements, then I get pissed and blackhole their agency. That also takes only a couple of keystrokes :-)

Comment: Re: Yes, but.. (Score 1) 314

by swillden (#49597393) Attached to: Mozilla Begins To Move Towards HTTPS-Only Web

That's one way. There are always other options. The key is to hook in at the layer that you're debugging. The wire is almost never that layer, unless you're debugging the network card driver. Or the hardware, but in that case Wireshark (or Ethereal, as I still think of it in my head) is usually too high-level.

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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