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Comment Thank-you (to "sjames") (Score 1) 177

I was just going to post when your comment made me rethink the whole thing and write this reply instead.

Having worked in I.T. for 25 years or so now, I'm pretty familiar with the "computer security" marketplace. Most of the time, you've got a combination of "former hackers who decided they could make a living out of selling comp-sec stuff" and big companies seeing $$$$'s by getting behind these initiatives to sell solutions.

Meanwhile, in the rest of corporate America, I.T. expenditures are increasingly under a microscope, because companies have long since been burned by and learned from the old idea that I.T. was an investment in the company's future. These days, I.T. is viewed more like a line item expense on budget spreadsheets. Sure, it's necessary .... but it's necessary like hiring a janitor is necessary, or like buying office supplies is necessary. When your I.T. staff recommends the latest gizmo that promises to do X and Y to stop outside system attacks or to analyze traffic? They start asking a lot of questions. What would it really cost us if we didn't buy this and we got hacked? What kind of disaster recovery stuff do we have in place to put things back to the way they were before the hack? What else can I.T. do to improve our security before we go buying all of this new stuff?

And guess what? In the majority of situations, the reasonable answer is to say "no" to the expensive new security appliances or software. A lot of that stuff is going to quickly become obsolete anyway. (Quite a bit of it is subscription-based where it receives regular updates from the manufacturer as long as you stay current on your payments. Guess what? When the (often small startup) security company making it gets bought out by someone else or goes belly up, you're often left with a costly paperweight that someone wants MORE $'s to replace with the "new, supported alternative/improvement" to it.)

If your I.T. people are competent enough, they should be keeping up with all the OS and software updates/patches, and that alone seals up quite a few of the security holes at NO extra cost. Other times, the smarter choice may be outsourcing one or more of the services you used to host in-house. Let the "big guys" host it for you and let THEM pay all that money for the fancy security appliances to protect your data AND the data of thousands of other customers of theirs. At scale, those security tools/software purchases make a lot more sense.

Comment Another reason I don't have Verizon .... (Score 1) 218

I was once a Verizon customer, many years ago. (Actually, I started off with AmeriTech who they took over.) Back then, it was all about your analog cellular minutes per month in your plan. Even then, Verizon became unworkable for me because as I used my phone heavily for business and personal use, I kept racking up more minutes of usage in a month than my plan had. Overages were billed at something outrageous like 25 cents per minute.

I called Verizon's customer service at one point, saying basically; "Hey... look. I'd like to keep your service, but you've got to sell me a package with enough minutes so I don't keep getting these overages. Can I buy a bigger plan?" Their response was no ... they didn't sell plans larger than the one I had, and didn't feel most customers needed such a thing.

These days, everything's about the data .. not the voice minutes. But same thing seems to apply. They want to dictate what their customers need/want.

In reality? Yes, I get that LTE cellular technology isn't really capable of the traffic loads carriers would get if they just gave everyone unlimited free data usage on their devices. But that's a shortfall of the technology then. That's not the customer's fault, who know what he or she wants and is willing to pay for.

So what do I propose? I think at the very least, all of the carriers should be doing everything in their power to open up the use of wi-fi access points to their subscribers. This is one area where Comcast actually has things right. I can go all over the U.S. and as long as I'm a current Comcast broadband customer, I can log in to any wi-fi hotspot identifying itself as XFinity. It constantly impresses me how often that gets me an Internet connection when I'm out and about someplace, while others don't have a usable wi-fi.

Comment Alternative to trashing CRTs (Score 1) 166

The push to "recycle" old CRTs by sending them to places that claim to properly dispose of them is probably misguided to begin with. There's a mentality that CRT = ancient, worthless technology. But until 2006 or so, these were still being manufactured and sold in stores. The dropoff in sales was sharp and sudden, once LCD and plasma technologies took hold.

The fact is, you still see a number of motel chains using CRT TVs in the rooms. And why not? They're perfect for that purpose! Being heavier/bulkier and known as of "no value", it prevents theft, while still serving their intended purpose just fine.

And the concerns that they contain toxic substances are overblown too. By the time the personal computer was invented, the front glass of CRTs stopped using lead and replaced it with barium. Monochrome CRTs don't even contain enough lead, period, to fail an EPA test for it. The *rear* glass of a color CRT is still often leaded glass, but that lead won't ever leak out of intact glass. You'd have to crush it up to release the lead that's vitrified into the glass itself.

Instead of spending money to tear these things apart, I think it'd make more economic sense to hang onto the working ones and to refurbish the defective ones using parts from broken ones. Especially as time passes, there will surely be some renewed interest and fascination in the technology. (Maybe even collectors and enthusiasts wanting to buy one to watch at home, just like we saw the resurgence in popularity of vinyl records?)

Comment Re:Isn't surge pricing an AUTOMATED process? (Score 1) 428

Of course you have a human who programs the logic in the code. My point is, people are acting like there was supposed to be some way for Uber's corporate staff to monitor the news 24 hours/7 days and immediately jump in as soon as reports of the bombs going off in trashcans came out. "Quick! Let's stop the usual rate management software and insert new rules to give people cut rates in NJ and NYC until we say it's ok to return to normal operation!"

Or maybe you're just upset that Uber charges peak rates during busy times in the first place?

Comment Isn't surge pricing an AUTOMATED process? (Score 1) 428

As far as I understood things, Uber's system automatically raises prices based on surges in demand. There's no human intervention involved.
So getting all upset at Uber for this is pointless. Yes, most companies like to give people some financial breaks in times of disaster, like cellphone companies waiving fees for residents in flooded area or areas hit by tornadoes. But Uber can't really do anything about the computerized system working as designed and re-calculating rates based on usage, as soon as an event happens like the bombs going off.

Maybe they'll decide to issue those people credits in the coming weeks? Who knows? But people getting all angry and deleting the app seems stupid to me.

Comment So we're back to this headphone jack thing again? (Score 1) 248

Look ... The headphone jack is gone on the iPhone 7 series because Apple wants it gone. It's as easy as that. If a 1/8" stereo headphone jack is THAT big of a deal to you? You obviously need to start considering other smartphone products. I'd say chances are real close to 0% that Apple will decide to bring it back again in a future iPhone.

Despite the uproar, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus phones achieved record sales. T-Mobile said they sold more of them the first day than they've ever sold of ANY phone in their company's history. So there you have it.... Despite all the Internet rage, the truth of the matter is -- people still think the new iPhone is worth buying.

I pre-ordered one myself, in fact. I've been using the iPhone since the very first version was released, other than a couple of brief stints on Android devices. I'm most comfortable with the iOS menu system and like the iPhone overall. I think each new iteration has brought enough value to make it a worthy upgrade from older models I've owned and the 7 series is no different. When I look at how I *really* use my phone, I see that I almost never plug anything into the headphone jack anyway. Sure, I had a Square reader that used it. But I already upgraded that to the new bluetooth model that can read chip cards and do Apple Pay. In the car, my stereo uses a USB to lightning cable to attach it. I have an LG bluetooth stereo headset I use with it, so no need for a headphone jack for it either. And the Mophie and other battery cases I've owned already required dongles to plug something into the headphone jack since their design made it impossible for a regular jack to plug far enough into make good contact with the phone. So yeah ... this really isn't going to be a lost feature I care too much about.

If you're one of those purists who just HAS to use your iPhone as the audio source for your flawless music listening experiences? Apple has added a few proprietary things on to the bluetooth specification so the wireless EarPods and other headphones they make for it will use those enhancements to make wireless listening better than what you usually get with bluetooth. (Probably fixes some of the glitchiness where audio skips occasionally, etc.) And the free adapter they include still lets you plug in your 1/8" headphone jack anyway ...

Comment Hrmn .... (Score 1) 412

At least here in the USA, such things have happened (kids filing lawsuits against their parents over various grievances) -- but I think 99.9% of the population takes a very dim view of it.

I guess I'm ok with the legal OPTION being available for such things? But it seems really extreme. I'm not sure that most minor kids fully realize the ramifications of doing such a thing. I mean ... as much as you may dislike your parents embarrassing you with your childhood photos, you may later decide that was "nothing" compared to a lifetime of not communicating with your parents anymore (which is VERY likely to be the outcome if you won a lawsuit against them).

Comment Re:Headphone jack is WAY overrated on a phone (Score 1) 324

Well, seeing that T-Mobile just reported the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus pre-orders broke their ALL TIME sales record for any phone -- I don't think it's at all clear that my opinion was just "crap", and nobody really wants this new phone that lacks a headphone jack.

Freeing up the space inside the phone that the 1/8" jack occupied so it could be used for other things counts as an advantage. So does the ability to make the phone a little bit thinner (even if that's a very minor advantage). Say what you will about the need for devices to get thinner and thinner ... but it's a proven seller. Laptops keep getting thinner and I can't find almost anyone who actually says they preferred one of the older, thicker styles to any of the thinner variants. People have a certain admiration for "sleekness" and appreciating how much tech is crammed into a small, thin space.

But really, the "benefit" here amounts to giving people a push to use superior technology. That's something Apple does often, through deletion. Remember the uproar when they got rid of the 3.5" floppy drive in all of their computers? Turns out they were right.... All they did by removing it is give people that little push to move on from older tech. I remember the Windows people's snarky comments back then. "If they ever did that on a PC, we'd lose the ability to do BIOS flash upgrades and troubleshoot by booting from an alternate drive!" (Those sure look like weak arguments today when you can do all of that from faster USB flash drives that hold hundreds of times more data and cost less than a box of floppy disks.)

Comment I'm not seeing good explanations here.... (Score 4, Interesting) 128

I read the article and I feel like nobody is being very forthcoming with the real motivations behind wanting to cede control of this to the "global community" or NOT wanting to.

How much does it cost U.S. taxpayers to maintain control of the domain name database? Or does it actually generate considerable positive revenue? (ICANN says it's "non profit" but so was our Major League Football association for a long time, as well as MasterCard.)

Why do companies with a big web presence, such as Facebook, want control to go global? Is there some problem they've experienced in the past where they can't get a domain registration in a timely manner because it's all U.S. based?

I can understand the concerns of the Republicans trying to block this transfer, if there's really no evidence ICANN isn't handling everything well as it stands today. The Internet WAS an American invention, based on our military network. It may indeed be a global thing today -- but I'm not sure it's wise to give away global control of the domain registration process if there's not a valid argument for why it would improve the efficiency of the process? (In other words, doing so just on some philosophical idea that "Global Internet isn't really global if domain database for it is run in the USA" doesn't sound like a good enough reason to change something that's worked well this whole time.)

Comment Headphone jack is WAY overrated on a phone (Score 4, Insightful) 324

I'm fighting what seems to be the majority opinion with this ... but I really don't take issue with Apple ditching the headphone jack on the iPhone 7.
For starters? It's always been a troublesome connector when dealing with phone cases. Many of them didn't allow you to push a given 1/8" jack far down enough into the phone to make a connection. (Always depended on how much plastic material someone happened to put around the metal part of the jack and so forth.)

When using a $100 extended battery case, such things become serious problems, because you're losing the functionality you paid that much to add, every time you have to take the phone out of the case to use a set of wired headphones, or to plug it into the AUX jack in a car, or ?? That was the problem that initially drove me to start using bluetooth stereo earbuds. (I have pretty good results and sound quality with the LG Tone Infinum.)

Besides that, though? I'm already attaching my iPhone to my Alpine stereo via a USB to Lightning cable in my Jeep. Not using the headphone jack at all for that. That allows the stereo to control much more on the phone than if it was just using an analog audio plug connector.

There have been some good arguments made against this change and DRM, arguing that eliminating the 1/8" stereo jack in favor of something like Lightning connectors amounts to finally plugging the "analog hole" that ensures non DRM access to audio content. But I think it's VERY far-fetched to suggest the entire industry would ditch the analog audio jack. The connector is so prevalent because it's very inexpensive, as much as anything else. It's so easy to implement an audio jack in a circuit and the cables for it are about as cheap as they get. This is just something Apple sees benefits to doing (a way to ensure all the gadgets attached to the new phones use a digital audio pathway with power and control channels as part of the standard). It means more profits for Apple too, certainly. But Apple doesn't make these changes JUST because they can charge more afterwards. They only do it when they see a way to improve the user experience.

Apple has a long-standing fascination with changing around connectors and jacks when they think they have a superior way to handle one of them. The "mag-safe" charging connector on their laptops is a good example. Yeah, it's proprietary and costs more than a barrel plug, up front. But it sure did put a stop to all those costly laptop repairs when someone breaks the charging jack loose inside of it.

Comment Class actions .... (Score 1) 104

Class actions have been "very effective" in enforcing the rights of a group? I'd say they've been most effectively at generating profit for the attorneys involved.
As someone on the receiving end of quite a few class action judgements over the years, I'd say it's rare when the settlement resulted in the company making future changes that prevented the problem from happening again? They simply view these as costs of doing business.

There were a lot of class action settlements involving banks and the way they proceeded overdrafts on people's personal checking accounts, a while back. I received a grand total of maybe $35-40 over those situations. In those cases, the banks did correct the issue -- but I'm far from convinced it was the class action lawsuit frenzy that motivated them to change. The practice of putting through a check for the largest dollar amount first, to maximize overdraft fees on multiple small ones that subsequently bounced was getting media attention and creating consumer outrage before anyone ever considered a lawsuit. Truth be told? I imagine quite a few individuals got those charges refunded by going into the banks and complaining.

Most of the time, a class action will be over a design flaw in a product. By the time the court system grinds along and decides to award a settlement, the product is already several years old and long since out of production. The idea is that everyone who bought it gets some compensation -- but realistically, you don't get awarded anything covering your frustration or your costs involved in trying to rectify the initial problem. You just get some small fraction of the item's original purchase price. Heck, often times, all you get is a discount towards buying something ELSE from the same manufacturer. That's pretty much the ultimate joke... The company gets to keep you as a customer when they would never have sold you another product otherwise, just by offering to give you 20% off or what-not? Some penalty for selling faulty goods, that is!

Comment re: money in Star Trek (Score 1) 145

Actually, I don't think it was so inconsistent .... Just not as well explained to viewers as it could have been.

Those enlisted in Starfleet or living on planets under their control didn't have to work for money anymore.... For those who lived on planets outside their zone of influence, results varied. Many of those planets still exchanged currency for goods and/or services. Technology like replicators don't appear to have been universally available or prevalent.

Comment Legally logical -- but leads to certain things too (Score 3, Interesting) 238

I think this was probably the correct legal conclusion. Clearly, the computer and operating system were meant to purchase as a bundle. If I buy any other product bundled up with something else, returns or exchanges are "all or nothing" (speaking as a U.S. citizen, anyway).

You can't just buy the package deal of a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush, and say "I want to know what the included toothbrush is worth, and get refunded for just that part of the package, because I still want to use the toothpaste."

That being said? This probably helps clarify that bundled OEM software or operating systems should be treated as free "throw ins" when making computer purchases. They're generally restricted in their licensing provisions anyway, so they're useless for anything except that specific computer they were bundled with. About the only significance I see with the pre-loaded OS is that hardware manufacturers may have designed the whole machine not to run many other options.

Hopefully, more people will put pressure on the vendors to ensure their computers can run alternate OS's, instead of just buying them first and making assumptions it "should be able to work". My workplace was recently bitten by this when we bought one of those Intel NUC PC's to replace a dead Dell PC running our Finance's scanning software and flatbed scanner. The old system was all configured in Windows 7 Pro so we hoped to just image the drive and blast it back onto the NUC, to get things back up and running. Nope! The NUC seems to not be able to run anything older than Windows 8.

Comment re: Trade Shows and relevance (Score 1) 28

Actually, I'm not so quick to declare the trade show dead, just because of the Internet's popularity. But I do think these consumer product trade show events are of declining interest simply because the gadget and electronics market is super-saturated.

I used to get really excited whenever an event like CES or Mac World rolled around, following everything carefully even though I didn't have the opportunity to attend. These days, I just kind of yawn and make a mental note to check out a few of the highlights, maybe after the event is done.

Honestly, they just don't release many things anymore that aren't just incremental improvements on something I already own or know about. When I'm ready to buy or upgrade, I'll do my research THEN, based on what's readily available and shipping. And I think that's how MOST tech-heads and gadget-freaks I know approach it, too. We might follow a specific area, such as new photography gear for people into that hobby, or even a sub-set of that -- like "What's new in drones?" But a big expo of all things electronic that any company wants to show me at one specific time and place? Not such a good use of my time attending that, or even following someone's blog who is there, in real-time.

Comment I haven't run into this issue either, but ... (Score 3, Interesting) 133

There are definitely quite a few misc. problems and quirks involved with running Windows 10 -- and surely more with the "Anniversary edition" update.

One odd thing I've noticed is that I run a Surface Pro 4 (Microsoft's OWN hardware, so should be completely optimized for Win 10!), and it seems to occasionally lose contact with my Microsoft branded bluetooth mouse. It doesn't happen *often*, but I'd say if I leave my system running and attached to its dock, and don't come back to it for a couple days, there's a good probability the mouse won't work. Turning the mouse off/on again does nothing. Only real solution I've found is a Windows restart. I think I lose control of the mouse like this once or maybe twice while in the middle of using the computer too, during the middle of the day. So I can't really blame this entirely on a "sleep mode" problem or what-not.

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