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Comment: annoying downgrade, ingores major usage patterns (Score 4, Insightful) 100

by xeno (#49807129) Attached to: Google Calendar Ends SMS Notifications

I find it really ironic that Google, a company so used to being the new hotness upstart company, is so willfully ignoring usage patterns of a significant minority comprising "the youth" and people on the wrong side of the internet divide, and much of the third world, and anyone without a data plan outside of wifi range.

What these people have in common is they use sms or some form of text-like DM instead of email, so email notifications sit in an unread inbox and are effectively useless. Syncing calendars is fine as long as each individual maintains their own calendar, but sms is one of the nice ways to notify individual attendees without some major calendar confab.

For example, my kid's french tutor uses Google calendar for scheduling, and if you load the calendar it shows *every* person scheduled on that calendar, which is great for finding available spots, but it's not something you would leave visible. Turn it off/non-visible, and you lose web notifications. However, at present each person gets an sms notification for their appointment, even if they turn the calendar off. Sooo.... Google expects every person on a shared calendar to leave that calendar active at all times in order to receive web or email notifications, which are likely ignored if not disabled?

It's a tone-deaf move. Personally, I use sms to ensure my kids get the notification no matter what, and this downgrade will result in all sorts of ignored events and missed appointments. One workaround, at least for t-mobile, is to email the notification to ....tho there was some talk of the service being taken down to avoid abuse.

Comment: Re:What happens when you have insular advisors (Score 1) 389

by xeno (#49784989) Attached to: Obama Asks Congress To Renew 'Patriot Act' Snooping

For an individual or small group, I won't assume malice where incompetence or failure is an entirely viable explanation.
For a large group, inhuman malice towards individuals is generally indistinguishable from studied and successful neutrality.

Why? Because open naivete and narrow cynicism are both excellent spices, but neither fills the stomach.

Comment: What happens when you have insular advisors (Score 4, Insightful) 389

by xeno (#49783761) Attached to: Obama Asks Congress To Renew 'Patriot Act' Snooping

Note to Obama: You are being lied to.

Seriously, and trying to sidestep most of the political angles: This is what happens when a person with authority collects a small set of advisers -- in an effort to cut noise/increase focus/get to data-driven decisions -- and then those advisers are not challenged or regularly rotated or infused with new thinking.

This instance pains me, partly because by my citizenship I'm on the wrong end of the Patriot Act aka "Putin's Law" ...but even more because I make my living by gathering and giving security and privacy advice on both the technical and compliance sides. When Obama's not even getting the quality of mid-market commercially-available advising, we're all in deep doo-doo.

To wit:
- Let's get real: metadata IS the data. Who/when/how/where you called is just as important as the what/why content of the call. The ears don't get much more totalitarian than this, we just don't have totalitarian fists yet. (Oh wait... *watches news about street cops outfitted with combat armaments and light tanks, then acquitted for movie-style executions*)
- NSA's collection of citizen's communication data and metadata have not led to even one single foiled terrorist plot. Not one. It's not even the right model to catch the stuff we know about in hindsight. The only reliable detection tool for decades has been manual notification by family and friends to authorities, and there's still no good unified repository and workflow system to handle it.
- There are multiple documented instances of abuse where the collected information was too tempting for federal employees not to do something stupid or illegal or both. (LOVEINT is almost funny, but multiple instances of commercial espionage have been alleged and documented.) If we amass this kind of information, people will use it for whatever purpose they imagine -- justified or illicit -- because admitting there's no legitimate function is the worst option of all.
- In the big picture, total security really does obliterate freedom. How I wish we could discuss that without hyperbole. Maybe we could stay grounded by involving the French, who are further into a discussion about how overreaction to Muslim immigration will destroy their governing principles as effectively as any perceived human threat.
- It deeply troubles me that Obama appears to have no better tech-sourced intel than 3rd tier CEOs buying security guidance from consultancies with 800 number to a sales guy and $150/hr bill rate.

What a sad state of affairs.

Comment: King Midas in reverse (Score 4, Insightful) 129

by xeno (#49764783) Attached to: Microsoft Reportedly May Acquire BlackBerry

I'm horrified, partly because I'm on the verge of buying a BB Passport. It's the best thing they've done in years, and since playing with SWMBO's (she bought one instead of a galaxy edge, after much comparison). The BB has a nice android implementation, simple hack to add the Google apps, better security and sandboxing of droid apps, and real keys with a touch surface that flows right onto the 1440x1440 touchscreen. Oh, and all that stuffy Blackberry stuff. It's a truly awesome piece of hardware. And now Redmond wants to gut 'em for their IP portfolio and security reputation?

In the mobile market, Microsoft is like King Midas in reverse: everything they touch turns to shit.* But this isn't a rant about Microsoft, it's a worry that Blackberry -- having done the amazing job of pulling out of the total nosedive they were in -- might get stomped just as they level out, and ship something even better. What a disappointment that would be.

*apologies to Tony Soprano

Comment: single-purpose tools better be awesome + durable (Score 2) 270

by xeno (#49699101) Attached to: Here Comes the Keurig of Everything

Yes, kitchen counter space is limited. And toolbox space, and desks, and dressers, etc etc. Keurig has a functional niche (places where mess is intolerable or there's no one to clean it up, like medical lobby or a low-use office), but their marketing has convinced a broader market that it's too cool not to have one. It won't last. Already there's blowback about the amount of waste produced by this particular device, and popularity is waning... just like most other uber-popular single-use doohickeys.

In order to survive past initial novelty-driven sales, a single-purpose/non-flexible device had better be utterly awesome at what it does, and seriously durable in both function and regularity of need. That's why the regular pan stays while the egg-magic pan goes to Goodwill (not durable, don't want eggs every day), and virtually every Rolodex has been replaced by a free app on a general-purpose portable computing device (not flexible, need changed). The Keurig makes consistent mid-grade coffee (not awesome), and is moderately durable at best (and DRM is a form of intentional breakage), which means market survival will eventually come down to flexibility. Can JoeBob consumer make ramen with a Keurig? No? Then eventually he'll keep the kettle and throw out the Keurig.

'Jus sayin... as I sip decent coffee out of a mug, made with a 15yo Cuisinart kettle, an $0.80 sbux Via packet, and less waste/cleanup than Keurig. The packet will change, the kettle will stay.

Comment: Dude, my mom's on Woo Woo (Score 4, Insightful) 179

by xeno (#49643623) Attached to: Is Facebook Keeping You In a Political Bubble?

No, because I dropped Facebook a couple of years ago. Too narrow a view on the world, too much of a social/political/financial echo chamber, too prying re personal detail, too much advertising, and too much extremely-creepy influence on ads I see externally. I miss a *little* of the content, but most of it was OCD junk from distant relatives and bloviating nonsense from industry "thought leaders". Good riddance.

Comment: What, no "Model T" ??!??!? (Score 4, Funny) 318

by xeno (#49640383) Attached to: Tesla To Unveil Its $35,000 Model 3 In March 2016

Ok, ok, I know Ford would sue the bejezus out of Tesla if they did it, but... I so hoped that after the Roadster ("Model R") and the Model S (...well...), the affordable car for the masses would be the Tesla Model T. Can they at least spell out "Three" on the nameplate, with a big capital "T"??? Please ?? :)

Comment: You're going to have your Windows RT and LIKE IT. (Score 1, Interesting) 125

by xeno (#49632835) Attached to: Ubuntu May Beat Windows 10 To Phone-PC Convergence After All

So.... really, how is this different from Windows RT leftovers, warmed up and plonked onto a phone a la Atrix as mentioned above?

It's got all the overhead of Windows but in a walled garden, etc etc. As before, what's the compelling advantage versus Android (which is faster, less costly, runs everywhere) or iOS (more pretty, more apps, and reliably walled-in)? It seems like they're beating the wall with their collective head.

More pointedly, the scraps left between the two big players in mobile aren't enough to create a success condition for Windows Phone 10, UNLESS somehow Microsoft fixes all the hassles with syncing enterprise AD accounts with consumer-level Microsoft accounts, AND all those Fortune 1000 companies with their own cloud implementation plans abruptly change their security policies to allow confidential documents to transit MS cloud services under consumer msft accounts (e.g. do phone buyers allow an employer to have complete control of their personal phone aka Blackberry, or carry two phones). Unlikely on all fronts. They can build it, but who's gonna come?

Comment: only one good manager in five years (Score 5, Interesting) 211

by xeno (#49589321) Attached to: Yes, You Can Blame Your Pointy-Haired Boss On the Peter Principle

I just quit Micro^h^h^h^h for this exact reason.

Over a period of 5 years:
Hired in.
Report to a guy who looks 12, but turns out to be an Excellent Manager*.
Do my best work in a decade.
Excellent Manager reorg'ed from Inspiring General Manager to Disastrous Director.
Excellent Manager is driven out by political fuckery by Disastrous Director.
Disastrous Director is fired for malfeasance.
Inspiring General Manager won't come back, had enough, quits managing to do research.
Report to Microsoft Lifer, old EM's technical manager a who does a passable job leading.
Microsoft Lifer is reorg'ed under General Manager/Bottlewasher who can't stop micromanaging.
Lifer gets ruthlessly fucked with, has entire team's work credited to incompetent Level 67 Blowhard.
Lifer's team is reorg'ed under Blowhard, except for me+handful.
Old EM's peer Last Asskicking Manager quits because he won't work for Blowhard.
GM/Bottlewasher can't stop micromanaging everyone.
Lifer gives up and takes a non-mgmt job.
Report to McManager hired from military, who used to manage 600.
GM/Bottlewasher can't stop micromanaging everyone.
McManager reorg'ed, team reduced to 5.
Blowhard steals work output from McManager, leaving no credit.
GM/Bottlewasher lines up all resources behind Blowhard.
McManager demoted to my peer.
Report to new guy Perennial Survivor, brought in by another reog.
Lifer demoted to my peer.
Old Excellent Manager quits to work for Amazon, because it's saner(!!!).
Survivor admits 80% of Botlewasher's 2015-16 yearly plan is bullshit makework.
Fuck this noise, quit. Even a startup is saner.

*only one in 5 years.

It's easier for incompetence to hide in large enterprises. They used to write books about how great Redmond managers were. Now the entire enterprise is infested with pointy-haired, risk-averse, beige, wannabe-hipsters who can't make any decisions other than to stab each other in the back. And front. And sides. Precious few people do actual work, when so much effort is devoted to bad management and the shielding of productive people from that bad management.

Comment: give and take (Score 1) 104

by xeno (#49552509) Attached to: Vizio, Destroyer of Patent Trolls

Ok, now Vizio, you have my attention for being a good guy... in this regard. I'm in the market for a couple of new screens every year (home offices for two, couple of tech saavy kids, etc etc), and this sort of corporate behavior is a huge influencer in my decision of whose almost-commodity product to buy.

If you're listening at all: I'll buy your products again this year. How about you try to be better about the GPL?

Comment: What do people want? (Score 1) 445

by xeno (#49183027) Attached to: Microsoft Convinced That Windows 10 Will Be Its Smartphone Breakthrough

I see this sort of news couched in discussions of "What do people /really/ want?" but that has little relation to what would be a market success.
That's like asking "What kind of food do people really want?" when the reality is that people cluster around multiple options in the market.

With plenty of room for debate, there are multiple clusters of success in the mobile market today. For the sake of argument:
- safe, pretty, predictable, simple, stable, walled garden -- apple totally owns this ~20% of the market, populated mostly with 1+gen older iPhone devices
- predictable, pretty, open/powerful, cheap, with a walled garden that's easy to exit -- android devices mostly running 4.3 and prior
- powerful, predictable, pretty, walled garden that's easy to exit -- top-line android devices mostly running 4.4+
- purpose-built, totally walled, predictable, safe (and fugly), designed for easy remote mgmt by corp -- used to be owned by Blackberry
- totally walled, predictable, safe (and very pretty), designed for easy remote mgmt by corp -- top line windows mobile devices

From this view, Windows Mobile doesn't compete in or intersect much with the same success cluster as newer OR older clusters of Android. So you have to ask yourself, what does success look like for Windows mobile? Dominating the market that Blackberry/RIM dropped through their own mismanagement? Not being snide here, but I keep looking at WinOS devices, and see elegant solutions to problems that few people have or that are increasingly becoming solved by feature subsets of other clusters.

Comment: wide range of solutions (Score 0) 343

by xeno (#49074747) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Version Control For Non-Developers?

Other posters have given several solutions, just collecting and adding my voice to a few of them:

in a pinch:
Google docs: lightweight and simple, with limited functionality and a light learning curve
Sharepoint: simple to use, full of hassle to administer, limited functionality, gets expensive
mediawiki: like sharepoint without the licensing problems, but gets limiting beyond simple document collections

More serious solutions:
Alfresco: serious document/object management and workflow, free version to start/pay for support if you like it (spinoff of Documentum)
Documentum: elder god #1 of doc management, excellent repository, workflow, project management functions. rather expensive
Opentext Livelink: elder god #2 of doc management, excellent repository, project management, nice Visio-like workflow development that makes sharepoint devs cry, also rather expensive.

Google docs if you need a fix today, Alfresco if you have a month or two to fix the problem and want it to stay fixed.

Comment: Re:Only Office (Score 0) 343

by xeno (#49074617) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Version Control For Non-Developers?

MSOffice has NEITHER version control NOR document management built in. Word/Ppt/etc provide track-changes internal to a file, which is a very nice feature for tracking edits and incremental rollback. However, this shouldn't be confused with file/object version tracking, repository functions, checkin/checkout or other functions external to the file objects. Sharepoint provides some of these, but it's still basically a wiki for content management. OP is looking for a solution to "fix the wrong file version" not "fix a bad edit."

+ - HP Security Research (ZDI) claims $125K Microsoft bug bounty

Submitted by xeno
xeno writes: Articles at ZDNet and Threatpost describe HP's Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) team winning Microsoft's $100K Mitigation Bypass Bounty for compromises of the Isolated Heap and MemoryProtection functions in the most recent IE. Their findings included how to do an "oracle" compromise of MemProtect to make it provide details on how to completely bypass ASLR, which has broader implications. HP also provided solution guidance to MS and received another $25k through the BlueHat Bonus for Defense. HPSR posted a video announcement, and researchers Brian Gorenc, AbdulAziz Hariri and Simon Zuckerbraun are donating the entire $125k proceeds evenly to STEM education programs at Texas A&M, Concordia, and Khan Academy.

Kleeneness is next to Godelness.