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Comment Re:This is will never fly in the courts (Score 2, Insightful) 395

This is bullshit. When they arrive at the station and their train is not there, usually they'll ask someone working there or start to complain to someone working there, at which point they'll get informed about the facts of life.

You've obviously never been in a public facing position with an angry New Yorker who's Tom Tom is telling them to go down a road that's closed either. Why should they require their staff to put up with rude and aggressive asshats when the situation is caused by something totally out of their control? Particularly if a guy is pointing to a train schedule on his little computer. Do we honestly expect the average station worker to understand that the schedule on the little computer is someone's hobby? It's hard enough to get one of them to tell you where the public toilets are.

The problem is, a third party service is required to spread the information. In the UK, there are at least 10 different websites, where you can search, book and print anything you could possibly need (including a bus service or a taxi at the destination), and if you're on the move already, you can just send an SMS, and they'll text you back with the information you need.

Yes I know...I've been there done that. I don't know how all of those systems play together but I'd be willing to bet that they are not dependent on some well meaning guy sitting down with a copy of the schedule keying in timetables by hand. Chance are there is an official API or some other way for all the third parties to grab the data directly which cuts the risk of human error down significantly. In an ideal world MTA would come up with a way to accommodate what is obviously a public demand for the information.

Again I don't agree with what MTA's doing, but this is the only place where I think they might have a legitimate concern. It does not justify horrid abuses of copyright law however.

Comment Re:This is will never fly in the courts (Score 5, Insightful) 395

Not to mention stupid. It's their own best interest to make that information as widely available as possible.

Not that I agree with what the MTA is doing, but I can see where they might be coming from, if for no other reason from an accuracy standpoint. I'm sure they wouldn't disagree that it is in their best interest to make the information as widely available as possible. However, you'll note that it says that Schoenfeld enters the data manually. What happens when he has a typo or transcribes a column wrong and borks an entire train? Customers get angry because they miss expected connections and blame MTA not Schoenfeld.

Of course they've got other issues where they've supposedly got a deal with some vendor to provide some kind of mobile scheduling service, but I wonder most about the liability MTA could face if people rely on someone's home grown hobby and it goes bad. Sure in the end they'd come out OK, but there'd be lots of bad press and time spent cleaning up the mess.

As one of the posters to the blog pointed out copyright law isn't the proper way to go about this objective. Sadly it's probably just the first thing that came to mind when Director Somensmuck called Legal and said "Johnson? We've got a problem. I want to know what you're going to do about it before you go home tonight."

Comment Re:Road signs (Score 1) 519

Half the time when im out, I have no idea where I am. I am where my gps told me to be. This bothers me sometimes, but the tradeoff is that I can literally go anywhere I want. Now when people start to tell me directions I just tune out and know I'll just do what the gps says. I can and have driven across the state with no problem.
Guess what? I don't have a GPS and I can literally go anywhere I want too. Not knowing where you are should bother you a little bit. GPS is great until you encounter real world situations where you have to make a quick decision that takes you off the route. Many times in my part time work as a police officer I've had to close a road due to an accident, a fire or something like that. In my city, the main streets are roughly N-S and E-W. If one road is closed, you backtrack to the last major street, make a turn and then turn the same direction up the parallel road.

I can't tell you how many LOCAL people have gotten irate with me when I tell them that the road is closed and they'll have to detour.
Citizen: "But my TOM TOM says I HAVE TO GO THIS WAY."
Me: "Sorry sir, road's closed - bad accident."
Citizen: "(demandingly) OK, what do I need to do then."
Me: "You'll have to go back to the first light and work your way over to the next road which is Pine. Pine parallels this street and will take you to Miller Road as well."
Citizen: "I can't do that. There's no way to put that in my Tom Tom!"
Me: "Sir, you've gotta move, there's 100 cars behind you and I've got a firetruck trying to get through the jam."
Citizen: "But I'm LOST and it's YOUR fault because you closed MY road!"
Me: "You're right sir, it is my fault. Tell you what, I'll draw you a map on the back of a ticket for obstructing traffic."

Many people know one and only one way to get home, and they are utterly incapable of dealing with everyday hiccups that make them think. When you're being flagged into a detour in rush hour traffic there's no time to stop in the road and try to reprogram your GPS. Even if you don't know the street names, understanding how a town is laid out combined with a little common sense can make a huge difference. I really believe that those who constantly rely on a GPS lack the ability to spatially reference themselves because it's a skill they just don't use. Throw in an emergency where you don't have five minutes to think out a course of action and you've got a real problem.

Comment Re:At the risk of being called an ass... (Score 1) 408

"I almost always fly with a firearm" - what the hell for?
One of our many hobbies is competitive target shooting. When we take a vacation we usually try to find a local event, whether it's a national match or just a local IDPA league to participate in. It's a great way to meet people outside the usual tourist areas and get a real flavor for the area. Forget the travel agent - we've gotten more good advice on places to eat, things to see/do (and places to avoid) from the locals than any other resource. It's tough to find a group of regular people hanging out where you can drop by and join in for a few hours uninvited. Target matches are a great place to do just that. Sure we'll meet a few "characters" but by and large we've had nothing but positive experiences.

Comment At the risk of being called an ass... (Score 4, Interesting) 408

My wife and I take one vacation a year, and it's always at least a week long and more than two days driving distance away. The closer destinations we'll sometimes do as last minute weekend specials pop up and we'll drive. We budget carefully and have a predefined amount of money taken out of our bank account each month and into a special vacation account.

The two of us combined make about $80,000 a year, no kids, both cars paid for. Generally speaking when it comes time to book our flight we will pay for first class tickets. The logical, analytical side of me points out how much more I'm paying for marginally more expensive services. When you've paid for a first class ticket, they will bend over backwards for you. I almost always fly with a firearm within the US and they'll handle dealing with TSA on that for me. We get lounge access while waiting for our flight to board, the attendants welcome us by name when we sit down in the plane. The seats lay nearly flat and if I want my seat reclined a bit on takeoff they're not going to say a word to me. I have an oversized carry-on but that's OK because there is plenty of overhead bin room. The meal choices are infinitely better and they give you as many bottles of water as you want - no need to buy them at the airport after you're through security. You get a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, hand sanitizers etc so you don't have to worry about clearing those through security either. In many cities they'll get us complimentary shower access once we arrive.

Perhaps most importantly is that my wife arrives in decent shape. She has IBS and is terrified of flying. There's always a food choice she can handle, and I discretely let the concierge at the gate know that she's terrified of flying when she's out of ear shot and they make sure the attendants go out of their way to make her experience as comfortable as possible. Hell, we returned from London three weeks ago and a few days later a handwritten note from the concierge came in the mail thanking us for flying with them and hoping that my wife found the flight relaxing.

There's nothing you can do about TSA and their stupid regulations, but at least when flying first the airline will go out of the best they can.

Comment Re:I believe it (Score 3, Interesting) 173

I wonder how much the 'browsing the Internet' bit really matters. As others have pointed out, there have been other studies that promote the benefits of massages, naps, etc. Seems to me the common denominator is taking a break at natural intervals. I spend enough time at the keyboard during the day that my Internet usage is really minimal (no, seriously!). On the other hand, if you walk in my office you're always going to find the Wall Street Journal opened up to some article on the side of my desk. I will periodically peek over and read for a few minutes after finishing a task while waiting to start the next one, such as the five minute lull at the start of conference calls where the host keeps saying "Let's give the others a few more minutes to join..." An aside - I start my conference calls on time. After a year, even my boss was trained to be no more than 30 seconds late.

In terms of workload, I consistently fall into the 'exceeds expectations' category when it comes time to figure out year-end ratings. Yet I also keep a fairly regular schedule. I'm not in the office 12 hours a day like the guys across the hall who consider it a badge of honor to eat lunch AND dinner at work yet bitch when their reviews keep coming back as 'meets expectations.' And yes, we more or less have the same job duties.

Comment Re:Really? (Score 1) 325

When you terminate a contractor or employee it is wise to also terminate their access to your servers...
Unfortunately it's not as simple as this. At my company we have "Service Accounts" which are not owned by individuals, but by technical groups. Any program that is not going to be run interactively is supposed to be run via a service account. The password is controlled by the group and does not expire. The idea is that if Jack quits and his ID is disabled all the cron/task scheduler jobs won't quit working and cause a massive outage. Likewise an expired password could cause big problems.

In 99% of the cases the service account has extremely limited rights so it's actually not a bad model. However there are at least a dozen accounts that I know of that are members of the Domain Admins group or some other group that effectively gives admin rights on almost all servers. These are typically used for security patches, server audits and the like. I left one of the support groups over three years ago but I still remember a Domain Admin service account password. Hell, after setting up scheduled tasks for four years it's kind of hard to forget it. If I wanted to be really malicious I'd wait until the next round of layoffs were rumored and then I would set my script up using the service account and have it check a few random people's logon ID's to see if any were disabled. I'd pick some highly technical, somewhat eccentric individuals. Later on the forensic investigators would show up and the first thing they're going to do is look at the list of highly technical people in the AD support group who were set up as triggers. "Hey, didn't we fire Peter Gibbons last week? Well he's one of three people who would trigger this thing...plus his friends Michael and Samir...Naga...Naga...NotGonnaWorkHereAnyLonger"

Comment Re:The Republicans cared so much (Score 1) 347

That's still not entirely accurate. The Republicans were making all sorts of noise about putting tighter controls on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while the Democrats were screaming that we needed to open the spigots further and let them engage in even riskier activities. All at the same time that Chris Dodd (D-Conn) was getting a "special deal" from Countrywide Mortgage, which he is yet to disclose the details of despite promising six months that he would share the details shortly.

For my day job I work for a bank, and not one that made risky loans. We're actually turning a modest profit right now. In the last five years, the amount of regulation that we've been forced to endure is incredible. I for one would like to know how my industry has been deregulated in the last eight years where such regulation has been entirely at the behest of the Republicans. I work in the sector that's having the meltdown and I'm yet to figure out exactly what has been deregulated. Every single year the percentage of time I spend on regulatory activities goes up and yet my job has remained basically the same. In general each year the regulators get more savvy, more risk-adverse, and more demanding.

It's not as cut and dry as some would like to make it out to be. To say it's the conservative's fault or it's the Republican's fault is disingenuous. I'm going to go with the poster who says that a better tag for this one would be "Bipartisan."

Enlightenment

Submission + - The Lure of the Straight Razor

DingleBerryMcGee writes: "It seems that the most common getup amongst the tech savvy is a black polo shirt accompanied with a pair of wrinkled khakis overloaded with PDAs, and phones at the waist. Another common theme is a semi-smooth shave accentuating a pallor only five consecutive days in an unlit room playing World of Warcraft can provide. The Montreal Gazette goes into some detail highlighting the growing trend of Straight Razor shaving. The author discusses the necessary equipment, as well as his own experience learning an art so contrarian to technological progress.

Some of the major benefits to a straight razor over modern 'pull and cut' cartridge razors or electric shavers are: decreased ingrown hairs, razor burn and acne, smoother shaves, and the "what are you crazy?" expression on people's faces when they find out you shave with a straight."
Slashdot.org

Submission + - Saddam Hussein Executed

Rendo writes: "BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has been executed, according to two Arabic language media outlets. Hussein was hanged before dawn on Saturday in Iraq, at about 6 a.m. (10 p.m. Friday ET), the U.S.-backed Al-Hurra television reported."
Privacy

Submission + - Computer's heat may pose security threat

Virtual_Raider writes: Wired is carrying a story about the method that a security researched used to identify anonymous computers behind anonymity services.

From TFA

His victim is the Onion Router, or "Tor" — a sophisticated privacy system that lets users surf the web anonymously. Tor encrypts a user's traffic, and bounces it through multiple servers, so the final destination doesn't know where it came from. Murdoch set up a Tor network at Cambridge to test his technique, which works like this: If an attacker wants to learn the IP address of a hidden server on the Tor network, he'll suddenly request something difficult or intensive from that server. The added load will cause it to warm up.
From The Onion Router's site:

Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security.
I'm left with a couple of questions such as, what additional meassures could a private person take to prevent against this new vector of attack? What legitimate uses can this technique have for law enforcement seeking to pinpoint a criminal? Interesting all around.
Communications

Submission + - AT&T clears final hurdle to $86 billion BellSo

Quasimodoca writes: "As reported by Reuters- AT&T Inc. on Friday cleared the final U.S. regulatory hurdle to acquire local telephone carrier BellSouth Corp. (NYSE:BLS — News), bolstering the company's position as the top U.S. telephone provider. In a somewhat surprise move late Thursday AT&T conceded to some of the FCC's net neutrality provisions to complete the acquisition."

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