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Comment Re:And in the other direction... (Score 2, Interesting) 191

do the world a favor and skip a couple hours of TV and make a telemarketing firm's life hell.

You know what would be awesome? If somebody were to set up a phone bank to which we could forward telemarketing calls to tie up the agents' time without having to actually stay on the phone feigning interest. It wouldn't have to be too fancy - just a basic IVR that did something like this:

Joe Blow: Hello?
Telemarketer: Hello! My name is Jim and I'm...
Joe Blow: Oh, hi Jim. Can you hold on a sec? I want to forward you to my other phone because I don't like to keep this line tied up. It'll just take a sec.
Telemarketer: Uh, sure, no problem.
[forward to 555-whatever]
[ring ring]
IVR: Thanks for waiting - I really need to keep that other line open. So what can I do for you?
Telemarketer: Oh, uh, as I was saying, my name is Jim and I'm calling on behalf of...
IVR: Oh, oops - can you hold on a second? Somebody's at the door. Be right back, thanks!
Telemarketer: Oh, um... ok
...[random delay between 1 and 5 minutes]...
IVR: Sorry, I'm back. My neighbor Shirley is looking for her dogs again. Ha ha ha ha ha.
Telemarketer: Oh, no problem sir. So, as I was saying, I'm calling on behalf of The Human Fund. We see that you donated...
IVR: Oh, crap. I have to get the roast out of the oven. Can you hold on a sec again? Sorry - thanks!
Telemarketer: Uhhh, ok I guess...
...[random delay]...

...and so on. Surely such a service wouldn't be too terribly expensive or difficult to run these days, would it?

Comment Re:This depends on the site... (Score 4, Insightful) 515

For the love of God, why do people insist on build entire websites in Flash? Sure, it's pretty and shiny, but it also breaks navigation, as anybody who's ever made the mistake of hitting the back button from 4 levels deep into a Flash-only site knows all too well. And good luck bookmarking an internal page for future reference, or God forbid, trying to explain to somebody else how to get to said internal page, especially if the idiot designer decided to make his links shaped like bunnies and rainbows because standard buttons with text labels are just too utilitarian.

This is why people learned to hate Flash-heavy sites. Flash is fine if used appropriately, but site navigation belongs in standard HTML that provides a predictable user experience.

Comment Re:$100 ... PLUS $10-$15 Charger PER Title (Score 1) 271

Good movies don't have to cost that. The problem is that nobody watches them, most people want to see the most expensive brain-dead CGI fest that can be made.

The Ice Storm is a very good movie. It had a budget of $18 million. Critics at Rotten Tomatoes give it 75%+. Yet it failed, because people prefer to watch overpriced shit.

People also want to see movies starring A-list celebrities, and made by/with expensive directors, producers, scripts and scores.

Take your $18 million movie and add in two stars, correspondingly high-end producer and director, a script based on a popular franchise and a world-class score, perhaps with an original song by a top pop star, and you're well over $100 million, even if you cut everything else to the bone. Add in the CGI fest and you're easily over $200M.

Comment Re:As an advanced user, this does not bother me! (Score 1) 504

They gave us a $40 discount on the laptop, and charged us for the optimization, "so it will show as a sale for the optimization"

Presumably this is because the sales staff have their performance measured based largely on their ratio of add-on sales to total unit sales. Typically these things apply not only to the floor sales staff, but also bubble up to their supervisors, the shift managers, the store manager and the district manager, which tends to make such contrivances endemic to the organization. This way everybody in the chain gets credit for whatever sales incentives are in place while shifting the discount to a less-noticed line item in the management reports.

There was something posted a couple months ago about very similar schemes being practiced at either Staples or Office Depot.

Comment Re:Typical! (Score 3, Informative) 176

As long as you don't take part in the settlement, you can still sue them individually.

Actually, as with most class action settlements, everybody is opted in by default, and you must explicitly opt out in order to retain your rights to sue on your own. Didn't hear about the settlement in time to file a claim or opt out? Gee, that's a shame.

From the table at the bottom of the official settlement page:

Exclude Yourself: Get out of the Class You may ask to get out of the Class and keep your right to sue on your own about the claims in the lawsuit.

Do Nothing: You remain in the Settlement. You get no money or compensation and give up your right to sue about the claims in the lawsuit.


Submission + - Computer Failure Causes Gridlock in MD County (

Uncle Rummy writes: A central traffic control computer in Montgomery County MD failed early Wednesday morning, leading to widespread gridlock across the entire county. The computer, which dates to the 1970s, is the single point of unified control for all traffic signals in the county, which comprises a number of major Washington DC area suburban communities. When the system failed, it caused all signals to default to stand-alone operation, rather than the highly tuned synchronization that usually serves to facilitate traffic flow during rush hours. The resulting chaos is a yet another stark reminder of how much modern civilization relies on behind-the-scenes automation to deliver and control basic services and infrastructure. The system remains down Thursday, with no ETA in sight.

Submission + - Disney close to unveiling new "DVD-killer" (

Uncle Rummy writes: The Wall Street Journal reports that Disney is close to releasing a new system that will sell permanent, multi-device access to digital media. The system, dubbed Keychest, is being positioned as an answer to consumer concerns about purchasing digital media that are locked to a small number of devices, and thus as a way to finally shift media sales from an ownership model to an access model. They claim that such a service would reduce the risk of losing access to content as a result of a single vendor going out of business, as purchased content would remain available from other vendors. However, they do not seem to have addressed the question of what happens to customers' access to purchased content if the Keychest service itself is discontinued.
The Internet

Submission + - How Would You Monitor Internet Access in the Home? 2

gwn writes: I googled this problem only to learn that I really need the help of folks who have a clue. I need your help Slashdot. I have been charged with the task of setting up a system to covertly monitor the internet use of some relatively tech savvy teenagers. The environment consists of a basic home network with each user accessing the internet with their machines through a common shared dsl connection. I am looking for suggestions on how to accomplish this. If you have had success with software installed on the client, proxy servers installed on the network, or sniffing software, etc., please let me know the details. The adults in this situation are simply concerned for the teens. And yes, they have talked to them, but know they are not getting the whole story.

Submission + - Deposit the "Wrong" Amount of Cash in Your Bank, G (

corbettw writes: "Reason has a story up about a North Carolina convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison for depositing money into his bank account. Not ill-gotten gains, just money he received from clients and dutifully reported to the IRS and paid taxes on. But because he deposited it in chunks less than $10,000, he's going to prison for the rest of his life."

Comment Re:How do you know when you've decrypted something (Score 1) 104

Here's a bit by Schneier on how to recognize plaintext. Basically, plaintext looks like plaintext, either because it's intelligible lanugage, or because it matches the characteristics of a standard document format (headers, layout, etc.)

How one would go about programming a computer to recognize plaintext, I have no idea, but presumably somebody smarter than me has worked it out.

Comment Re:Yeah, right (Score 1) 759

Never happen. All it takes is one accident after the cuts, and all fingers point back to the Congressmen who championed the cost cutting bill. No politician worth his salt will put himself in the position to be the target of a statement like this:

We at the FAA told the Congressional committee that we couldn't afford to reduce staffing levels without impacting the safety of the air transport system. They bulled ahead in spite of our clear and repeated warnings, and now we have the proof of our words - a tragic midair collision of two commercial aircraft resulting from inadequate staffing of the ATC system necessitated by the budget cuts mandated in the Make Government More Efficient Act.

Comment Re:Yeah, right (Score 1) 759

Actually, it probably would be more like coupons for $50 off a retail purchase of Windows 7. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs' lawyers, having successfully consolidated the various claims into a class action, would receive several million in cash under the terms of the settlement.

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