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Comment Re:Fairness? (Score 3, Informative) 319

Why are people complaining? Take a basic individual plan and a basic (Moto W755) phone on Verizon:

  • 2-year contract
    • Monthly plan: $39.99/mo
    • Phone: $0
    • Cancel after 1 year: $654.88 ($479.88 + $175 termination)
    • 2-year cost: $959.76
  • Month-to-month contract
    • Monthly plan: $39.99/mo
    • Phone: $249.99
    • 1-year cost: $729.87
    • 2-year base cost: $1209.75

It's still cheaper after one year to pay the full $175 ETF on-contract than go month-to-month because they inflate the "real" cost of the phone. The month-to-month plan is nothing more than a veiled warm-and-fuzzy to the people who want to "stick it to the phone company."

Comment Re:Except for Domain Controllers.. (Score 2, Informative) 201

Agreed...when I was reading up for one of the Server 2008 AD MCTS exams, I cloned a base VM image of Server 2008 to simulate two DCs, a file server, an IIS/application server, etc. I had to download and run NewSID because every server I joined to the domain (i.e. the "primary" DC) had problems getting joined correctly. I don't recall the specifics but Server 2008 did throw a hissy fit and I had to run NewSID on each VM prior to joining before I could do anything else.

Data Storage

The Sidekick Failure and Cloud Culpability 246

miller60 writes "There's a vigorous debate among cloud pundits about whether the apparent loss of all Sidekick users' data is a reflection on the trustworthiness of cloud computing or simply another cautionary tale about poor backup practices. InformationWeek calls the incident 'a code red cloud disaster.' But some cloud technologists insist data center failures are not cloud failures. Is this distinction meaningful? Or does the cloud movement bear the burden of fuzzy definitions in assessing its shortcomings as well as its promise?"
Bug

Server Failure Destroys Sidekick Users' Backup Data 304

Expanding on the T-Mobile data loss mentioned in an update to an earlier story, reader stigmato writes "T-Mobile's popular Sidekick brand of devices and their users are facing a data loss crisis. According to the T-Mobile community forums, Microsoft/Danger has suffered a catastrophic server failure that has resulted in the loss of all personal data not stored on the phones. They are advising users not to turn off their phones, reset them or let the batteries die in them for fear of losing what data remains on the devices. Microsoft/Danger has stated that they cannot recover the data but are still trying. Already people are clamoring for a lawsuit. Should we continue to trust cloud computing content providers with our personal information? Perhaps they should have used ZFS or btrfs for their servers."

Comment Re:G-Mail? (Score 2, Informative) 594

The balance sheet will break out assets and liabilities on a specific basis and you can clearly see where the banks got burned - mortgages, mortgage-backed, and asset-backed securities, on both the assets and liabilities -- basically, assets which the banks clearly didn't know how to count. (See Merrill Lynch's 10-K as an example.) For ML, there were massive losses in securities financing transactions, mortgage/asset-backed securities, and considerable losses on derivatives in 2008. The summarized balance sheet clearly shows what happened -- high leverage levels means that it only takes a 3% drop to wipe out shareholder equity (for ML, it was barely 3% - $667.5b in assets against $20b in equity) and ML saw a 34.56% decline in assets FY08 ($1t in FY07 to $667.5b in FY08). They got the leverage to 13.18 in Q1 2009 (down to 13.18 on $569.8b assets, $529.6b liabilities, $40.2b equity) which gave them a 7% cushion, but with a 14.6% decline in assets during the quarter. Profits and share issuance can help raise the equity and counter a drop in assets, but you're pretty much screwed trying to make up a 34% decline.

The ratio for ML reached its peak at the end of 2008, as the subprime mortgage market cratered:

  • 2004 - 20.02
  • 2005 - 19.13
  • 2006 - 20.57
  • 2007 - 30.94
  • 2008 - 32.37
  • Q1 2009 - 13.18

There's always been a race between big financial firms to beat each other to the very last penny (the concept of "flash" trading, for instance, has a hint of desperation in it) so one by one they decided to out-leverage each other to bring in bigger profits faster. It's a risk management problem -- ML bet their future in FY06 on continued success in prime brokerage and securities financing, as well as commercial and residential mortgage loans and long-term debt, while ignoring a 18% drop in equity due to a net loss in continuing ops, stock repurchases, and dividend payments of $1.40/share.

Comment Re:maybe if they used their release notification l (Score 1) 103

You (and only you) access your Wordpress blog twice a month to make a semi-monthly post.
You see the admin panel when you log in.
The admin panel shows you when an update is available.
Therefore, you may be up to a half a month behind on update notifications delivered through the admin panel.

A half a month doesn't sound like a big deal but look at the most recent releases:

  • 2.8.1 - July 9, 2009
  • 2.8.2 - July 20, 2009
  • 2.8.3 - August 3, 2009
  • 2.8.4 - August 12, 2009

They really need an e-mail distribution list for those not already monitoring the development blog via RSS or security blogs, because 10 days is a reasonable amount of time for someone to not log into their blog. It has nothing to do with whether you use the admin panel or not, and everything to do with the critical "fix for a fix" that comes barely two weeks later.

Comment Re:Blackboard execs should all be killed (Score 1) 142

Actually, I am quite familiar with it. Maybe your downtime was due to a poor server setup? A poor network setup? A poor computer setup? All of the above. Maybe it was implemented incorrectly? There are a lot of factors that would give you a poor user experience...that doesn't necessarily mean the software was crappy (though it could have also been the software itself).

Blackboard had multiple major software/hardware failures at their own Virginia datacenter hosting Blackboard for schools on Blackboard's own equipment. They had network cards write bad data for such a long period of time that the best backup Bb had would've resulted in nearly a week's worth of lost data (at the end of a semester, no less); they had major database corruption that required bringing in a 24/7 team of Oracle techs; they had a network component failure bring down the datacenter for several hours. In two semesters their own hosting had a week's worth of unplanned outages.

Comment Re:Great (Score 1) 274

No longer working as intended? What possessed Microsoft to change these three features:

  • Add-Ins: previously at Tools --> Add-Ins; now at Office Menu --> [program] Options --> Add-Ins --> Go
  • File properties (the Windows Explorer version): previously at File --> Properties; now at Office Menu --> Prepare --> Properties --> Document Properties --> Advanced Properties
  • Start Slide Show quick-button: previously at bottom-left, now at bottom-right

So...the menu structure clearly wasn't letting people find the first two features, so they put them into a new menu and required two or three more clicks than before, including actions which are clearly repetitive? (Once the document properties "window" is open, I still have to click Document Properties --> Advanced Properties to get the Explorer version of properties?) I find it hard to believe that they moved the "start slide show" button from the left to the right because "people couldn't find it." (If they couldn't find it on the left, why would they suddenly find it on the right?)

Comment Re:Can some American please explain to me... (Score 1) 232

Your money is gone until you call the bank and they replace the funds pending an investigation. If you have $1000 in a checking account and someone fraudulently charges $1000 to that account's debit card, of course you can dispute the charge and likely get your money back. Your balance, however, is $0 *until* the bank replaces the money. E.g. if you had auto bill-pay run the same day for $200 and didn't see the $1000 fraudulent charge until the next day or received an overdraft notice, you'd overdraft by $200.

I would never use a debit card on my primary checking account for that very reason. At least if I need to dispute a fraudulent charge on my credit card, I don't have to worry about being temporarily out of $1000 and waiting a day or two for the bank to replace my money.

Comment Re: (Score 1) 119

For some, the web isn't even ".com," it's whatever name they type in the address bar sans TLD. I had a user complain that she couldn't access Google. She edited the URL already in the address bar to read "http://www.google" and didn't know why she was getting the 404. (I guess there's a browser which will append a ".com" without using a specific keystroke?)

With other users getting to Google from their Yahoo home page by searching for "google" and clicking on the first link, I wouldn't bet on gTLDs going too far with the user base. It will probably only be a cash cow for ICANN and the major search engines.

Comment My uni apparently didn't get the memo (Score 3, Interesting) 125

My university's website still links to Ruckus for "Music--Free and Legal Downloading" and we just had a whole bunch of copyright "awareness" posters put up in our computer labs that I think mention Ruckus.

Of course, every time I heard their name, my first thought was always "Are they still around?" If it wasn't clear before, the music labels don't care about anyone other than themselves, given the sudden shutdown.

Comment Re:Heh, good luck getting rid of Blackboard (Score 1) 497

Um, your two choices are really one. Blackboard bought out WebCT, so Blackboard pretty much owns the "Learning Management System" market.

And yes, it's a crappy system. Our university lost Bb service for an entire week -- during exams, no less -- because Bb allowed a corrupted database to be backed up so far back that when no one could download or upload files, Bb and their Oracle consultants had no choice but to rebuild. Not to mention the lack of communication from Bb on when they were taking down the system to fix the problem; they would say "We won't touch the system from 9am to 5pm" and promptly take it down at 1pm to try a new fix, without any advance warning.

WebCT wasn't a great system, but at least it worked and wasn't resource-intensive. Bb runs these painfully-slow Java applets that waste their time pinging the home server, require the Java applet to upload files (you can upload by HTML form but it still needs the Java applet to get to the upload page), and Bb will break if you try to use multiple tabs or if your browser crashes. It's too bad Bb did end-of-life on WebCT, but of course it makes perfect business sense to Bb.

These problems have pissed off so many faculty members that it might be forcing the administration to reconsider the Bb contract. So yes, I agree, it's administration and faculty that drive IT decisions, not IT.

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