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Submission Summary: 1 pending, 97 declined, 9 accepted (107 total, 8.41% accepted)

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Submission + - Which is the best-managed U.S. bank?

Futurepower(R) writes: I see plenty of evidence that banks don't manage their web sites well.

When I check my balance at Ally Bank, the NoScript and Ghostery Firefox add-ons tell me that 11 other sites* would be contacted if I didn't have protection. See the sites below.

The Barclays U.S. Bank web site terms of use say that Barclays U.S. Bank has no legal responsibility or liability for anything it says on its web site. Quoting: "... THE BANK DOES NOT WARRANT THAT: (i) THE SITE OR THE SITE CONTENT IS CORRECT, ACCURATE, RELIABLE OR COMPLETE..." If you can't depend on what the web site says, how can you feel comfortable that you know enough about the bank to want to be a customer?

I talked with a representative at CapitalOne 360 Bank when I discovered that now there is no way to send a secure message to the bank. (My wife has an account.) The secure messaging only allows receiving messages from the bank. If you have a question, you have to call and talk with someone, and you have no way of proving what you were told. The CapitalOne 360 Bank representative said that there were too many incoming messages for the staff to answer, so incoming messages were recently deactivated. Customers are not allowed to keep the incoming messages from the bank; they are deleted after 90 days.

I have plenty of other stories like that. In my experience, top managers often have little knowledge of technology, and often seem not to want any knowledge.

So, which is the best-managed U.S. bank? What are your stories about banks?

*Here are the web sites linked when I check my balance at Ally Bank. Advertising: Adobe Audience Manager, Advertising.com, DoubleClick Floodlight, DoubleClick Spotlight, Google Dynamic Remarketing, MediaMath, and RUN. Site Analytics: Omniture (Adobe Analytics) and Qualtrics. Other web sites: Demdex.net and Omtrdc.net. When I tried to visit the Omtrdc.net web site, I got a Firefox message: "Your connection is not secure. The owner of omtrdc.net has configured their website improperly. To protect your information from being stolen, Firefox has not connected to this website."

Submission + - How to connect 2 networks together, 1 with no internet access? 2

Futurepower(R) writes: A customer needs an ultra-secure network. Everyone will have 2 computers, one with proprietary software, another with internet access.

What is the best way to pass data between the 2 networks, while creating restrictions like avoiding transfer of files with banned file name extensions?

What is the best way to share a monitor?

Submission + - NSA = No Sales for America. Surveillance reduces sales and corrupts democracy.

Futurepower(R) writes: A member of an advisory group to President Barack Obama said about surveillance, "There can be serious negative effects on other U.S. interests". — From the Reuters article, Russian researchers expose breakthrough in U.S. spying program." The U.S. National Security Agency has figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba and other top manufacturers, giving the agency the means to eavesdrop on the majority of the world's computers, according to cyber researchers and former operatives."

"China is seeking to make its own secure smartphones, in an attempt to insulate its handsets from U.S. surveillance." — Wall Street Journal
Links: Direct, possibly paywalled, also through Google Search.

How will China react to Windows 10, which gives Microsoft complete control over any computer connected to the internet?

Articles about Microsoft spying:

Microsoft's Software is Malware. "Malware means software designed to function in ways that mistreat or harm the user." — Gnu.org

How Can Any Company Ever Trust Microsoft Again? — Computerworld UK

Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages — The Guardian

In a democracy, citizens are allowed to participate in government. Secret government projects in the U.S. make the U.S. less of a democracy and move toward hidden control.

Articles about secret agencies often assume there is good management. An employee of an NSA sub-contractor, Edward Snowden, was able to copy huge amounts of data. What would stop NSA employees from listening to telephone conversations of CEOs to find inside information for profiting from buying stock, for example?

Submission + - Windows Media Center TV Guide not updating 1

Futurepower(R) writes: There are thousands of complaints that Microsoft's Windows Media Center TV schedule guide (EPG, Electronic Program Guide) is no longer being updated. For example, see Microsoft's Feedback center.

Microsoft says it is working on the problem: Media Center EPG Update — 7/24/2015.

Microsoft will disable Windows Media Center if a customer moves to Windows 10: "Any PC that is upgraded from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 will lose the Media Center functionality, and there's no way to get it back."

Submission + - Microsoft PAYS people to use Bing! (bing.com) 1

Futurepower(R) writes: I learned from CyberInferno's Slashdot comment that Microsoft PAYS people to use Bing search!

So:

1) To get people to use its search engine, Microsoft feels that it is necessary to pay.

2) 31% of Yahoo’s revenue comes from Microsoft paying it to use Bing.

3) Yahoo paid Mozilla Foundation to change the search configuration of Firefox without notice. I imagine that most people won't know what went wrong or how to re-configure Firefox. When people have problems with Firefox, they may switch to another browser, like Google's Chrome.

4) People may think they are using Yahoo search, but there is no such thing as "Yahoo search". Actually, without being notified, Yahoo customers are using Microsoft Bing search, and their search information is being given to Microsoft.

5) Microsoft pays Yahoo to use Bing. Yahoo pays Firefox to use Bing. Eventually, when the news about why Bing use is increasing is more widely known, people who don't feel comfortable with the situation may switch to Google Chrome. In effect, Microsoft is paying for a powerful ad campaign to get people to switch to Google Chrome.

6) Those who want to be paid by Microsoft must use Bing directly, not through Yahoo.

7) The trickiness and dishonesty may cause further collapse of Yahoo. In effect, Yahoo is being paid to decrease the popularity of Yahoo.

8) In effect, Mozilla Foundation is taking money to decrease the popularity of Firefox.

9) In effect, Microsoft is paying Mozilla Foundation to make Firefox less popular.

10) That may be a way to artificially increase search traffic, But It's Not Good (BING). To me, that's another example of Microsoft DIE, the Dastardly Insertion of Evil.

11) And, of course, all of that is bad for Microsoft's reputation, decreasing the popularity of anything from Microsoft. So, Microsoft is paying to decrease the popularity of Microsoft.

That is so WEIRD that I feel compelled to joke about it. (WEIRD = When Every Idea Rates Dumb)

Submission + - Problems with Windows XP caused by Microsoft.

Futurepower(R) writes: We are seeing 4 kinds of problems with Windows XP today at 2 remote locations:

1) One kind of problem is similar to the one in this April 7, 2014 story about computers in Australia: Pop-ups irritate Windows XP's remaining users. Microsoft Security Essentials on computers in the United States give pop-up messages about the MSE service being stopped.

2) Computers are requiring far longer to start, perhaps 12 to 15 minutes. Then the MSE pop-up appears.

3) Microsoft Security Essentials now calls into question whether XP is genuine. These are all computers that have run without issues for several years. The customer bought licenses when Windows XP was first released.

4) We have seen problems with the Windows XP operating system detecting a key stuck down when no keys were pressed on the keyboard. That is a software problem, not a keyboard hardware problem. It causes the system to be un-responsive because the key being detected is not one actually pressed, but is actually a key combination. Again, that is happening on computers that have been trouble-free for years. That problem began happening after a Windows update.

Microsoft said it would support MSE on Windows XP for another year. See the Microsoft article, Microsoft antimalware support for Windows XP. Apparently that support is not happening in the normal way.

Submission + - Windows XP did not instantly become unsafe on April 8. 1

Futurepower(R) writes: Windows XP did not instantly become unsafe on April 8, 2014, the date Microsoft calls the "end of life" for Windows XP.

"End of life" is a way for Microsoft to make more money. Governments and big corporations are often influenced by people with no technical knowledge. Because of their ignorance, governments have already paid Microsoft probably more than it costs to fix the few security defects found each year. However, the taxpayers of those governments will not be allowed to have the fixes.

It's like Toyota told all owners of older Toyota vehicles that the vehicles are unsafe now and owners must buy new vehicles or pay millions of dollars to keep them. Except its worse: Software doesn't have mechanical wear.

This article contains tips about how to use any version of Microsoft Windows safely that can be shared with people you want to help. Unnecessary computer maintenance is an ugly way to make money.

Submission + - How to turn off Slashdot Auto-Refresh? 4

Futurepower(R) writes: Slashdot's Auto-Refresh is annoying. I go to another window to do something, and when I come back, what I was reading is not there!

How do I turn Auto-Refresh off?
Software

Submission + - Book software?

Futurepower(R) writes: "What is the best software to organize and print a book? The software must order and format all the chapters, generate the table of contents and the index, and allow HTML links inside PDF files. Good documentation and ease of use for non-technical operators would be a big plus."
Firefox

Submission + - Mozilla Foundation should fix Firefox instability. 1

Futurepower(R) writes: "Unfortunately, Mozilla Foundation suffers from poor management. The rapid unexplained major version changes are only the most visible evidence.

Mozilla Foundation is a rich, rich corporation. No one should make the mistake of thinking that work on Firefox is done mostly by volunteers.

Did you see $78.6 million worth of improvements in 2008?

Did you see improvements suggesting that Mozilla Foundation had $168 million in assets in 2010? (Official PDF file, see page 2. Numbers are in thousands, as it says at the top of the page.)

Firefox is a world-class asset. Firefox is extremely important partly because those who need to do a lot of research online depend on Firefox and Firefox add-ons such as Session Manager, Session Manager Export Tool, Mozilla Archive Format, Flashblock, Multi Links, and Tab Mix Plus. There is no substitute for the capabilities of Firefox together with Firefox Add-ons. (Add-ons are also known as extensions and plug-ins.) For those who do research, Firefox is simply the best browser. Firefox is literally a world-class asset.

Biggest flaw: Firefox is unstable. The first step in improving management would be to fix the instability of Firefox. There would be a huge additional advantage in doing that, as someone else mentioned. Investigating how Firefox can be so unstable under Microsoft Windows might reveal flaws in Microsoft Windows that make the OS so unstable when using Firefox.

Firefox instabilities are experienced most frequently by those who open many Firefox windows and tabs, and leave them open while putting the computer into standby or hibernation several times. That is the pattern of use of those who do a lot of online research.

An example of research: For example, in researching HDMI cables there are numerous manufacturers, distributors, online sellers, explanations of HDMI standards, explanations of the U.S. National Electrical Code, and online reviews. The research is made far more complicated by the many companies that try to take advantage of the ignorance of the average person about cables. Good research is important because HDMI cables are often embedded in the infrastructure of buildings. Poor cables may need to be replaced when video equipment is upgraded, sometimes requiring tearing walls apart. Equipment upgrades may be years away, but are almost certain to happen.

One condition of instability: Windows XP 32-bit with Service Pack 3, for example, becomes unstable when Firefox has taken all the available memory, and is beginning to require the OS to use virtual memory. It seems a reasonable guess that Microsoft will be slow to fix Windows instabilities since poor experiences encourage people to buy new versions. Microsoft requires payment of the full price for each new version of Windows. Microsoft does not allow upgrade pricing even when a previous version has had many flaws, as with Microsoft Windows Vista. The laws against unfair business practices of those who have virtual monopolies have had no effect on Microsoft, apparently.

Firefox crash info: Here are some links for those who want to discover more about the instabilities in Firefox.

about:crashes
Put about:crashes into your URL bar and press ENTER. Firefox will then show a list of crashes of the copy of Firefox on that computer.

Crash info for all users and all versions
https://crash-stats.mozilla.com/products/Firefox

Crashes per 100 active daily users, version 7.0.1, last week's version
https://crash-stats.mozilla.com/products/Firefox/versions/7.0.1

Top crashers, version 7.0.1
https://crash-stats.mozilla.com/topcrasher/byversion/Firefox/7.0.1/14

Notes:

1) The lists of crashes are ONLY the ones that Firefox caught. The lists do NOT include crashes that don't start the crash reporter.

2) Version 7.0.1 sometimes stays in memory even though the GUI was closed.

3) The crashes are often preceded by rapidly increasing memory use. Firefox often corrupts Microsoft Windows, so that Windows needs to be re-started. When Firefox corrupts Microsoft Windows it often damages operations in Windows that are not connected with browsing.

4) The crashes and memory gobbling have been reported for more than 10 years, since version 0.9 of Mozilla Suite, before Mozilla began using the name Firefox. Firefox is still unstable even though the change reports for every version say there have been "stability improvements".

5) Versions 4 to 7 of Firefox were more unstable than the Firefox 3.6.x versions. Version 7.0.1 is more stable than the others, but still unstable. So there has been some improvement. This week's version, 8.0, is too new to have extensive statistics."

Submission + - Western Digital buys Hitachi, Seagate buys Samsung 2

Futurepower(R) writes: "Western Digital is buying the Hitachi hard drive division and Seagate is buying the Samsung hard drive division. So the major hard drive competitors will be reduced from 4 to 2.

Hitachi recently plead guilty in the U.S. to bid-rigging and price-fixing conspiracies. Samsung recently plead guilty in the U.S. to a price-fixing conspiracy.

The European Commission is investigating both the Western Digital-Hitachi and the Seagate-Samsung hard drive division mergers. Apparently there is no action by the U.S. government concerning the mergers.

Will having only two major makers of hard drives make it easier to raise prices?"

Submission + - Western Digital buys Hitachi, Seagate buys Samsung (hitachigst.com) 2

Futurepower(R) writes: "Western Digital is buying Hitachi and Seagate is buying Samsung. So the major hard drive competitors will be reduced from 4 to 2.

Hitachi has recently plead guilty in the U.S. to bid-rigging and price-fixing conspiracies. Samsung has also recently plead guilty in the U.S. to a price-fixing conspiracy.

The European Commission is investigating both the Western Digital-Hitachi merger and the Seagate-Samsung merger. Apparently there is no action by the U.S. government concerning the mergers.

Will having only two major makers of hard drives make it easier to raise prices?"

Databases

Submission + - Best framework for database programs?

Futurepower(R) writes: "We want to write an application that uses a database. What is the best C++ GUI framework?

Also, what open source database applications are good examples of coding using that framework? We are interested in the PostgreSQL v8.4 and/or SQLite v3.6 free databases.

The cross-platform Nokia Qt 4 framework is impressive, and the database classes look clean, but the license causes concern. The Qt 4 license says that if any work was done with the free version of Qt 4 it cannot be used in a commercial environment unless it is licensed as GPL. Technically that means that someone experimenting at home could corrupt an application written for commercial use. GUI design is done with Qt Designer.

WxWidgets is also cross-platform, free, and has database classes. Apparently there is no support for SQLite. There is a commercial application, WxDesigner, for designing GUIs.

Dabo looks helpful for desktop database applications.

SQLite Database Browser is an example of a open source SQLite database application using the Qt framework.

There is a extensive list at the The GUI Toolkit, Framework Page, but no indication if the frameworks have database classes, and the latest update to the page was in 2007.

An open source example of good coding for database access and good GUI design would help us avoid the usual hassles."

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