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Comment Re:Formula change (Score 1) 534

I do definitely think Apple messed up. If they had been up-front about it and said "hey, if you hold the phone like this without a case, you lose a lot of signal, to the magnitude of 24dB, which is more than other smartphones out there" then people would have been able to make an informed decision. It brings into question how much signal loss is bearable when using a phone, and when does it fall upon the carrier / manufacturer to mention the problem to consumers beforehand and, if they fail to do so, what will they do to rectify the situation.

In my opinion, Apple should give everyone a bumper case to go with their iPhone 4 if they request it. That solves much of the problem. Alternatively, they should allow people to return the phones, getting back all of their $$ including taxes paid. That way Apple will have dealt with the problem and given people an option to get out now that they know the full extent of the problem.

Comment Re:Formula change (Score 3, Interesting) 534

Well, There are some issues with the calculation of bars. I could pretend I knew what I was talking about, or that I'd RTFAs, but instead I'll just post this link to a FANTASTIC review of iPhone 4 vs. iPhone 3g[s] vs. Nexus One reception under various holding-conditions. ALL phones suffer signal loss when you hold them. The iPhone 4 is just a SLIGHTLY more egregious offender than other phones. That being said, though, it is much better at having a high quality of service even with lower signal strength. Something something something dBm something signal to noise something something.

Comment B&E (Score 1) 350

While I agree that a company might not survive me breaking into a warehouse and emptying it of all contents; I'm pretty sure they can recover from me breaking in and taking a picture of all their merchandise. This is just another ignorant "$1 of COPIED software = $1 of STOLEN merchandise" claim, which is is just a damn lie.

Not to say that software piracy is okay; it's just nowhere near as bad as people make it out to be. Look at it from MSFT's point of view: would you rather have 3rd world countries pirate Windows XP and Office, thereby perpetuating your monopolistic control of all things business (at NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU), or would you rather have them install Linux and OpenOffice, slowly building momentum behind alternatives so that they may eventually compete with your software stack? I think the answer to that is pretty obvious. Fighting piracy is a balancing act, make the penalties to customers that CAN pay for the software high enough that they wouldn't want to pirate it, and just don't prosecute (most) people who can't afford it.

Comment Easy Relying on Users (Score 1) 951

Users, in the vast majority of occurrences, want to just get their job done. They don't care how the software works, and as long as it works, that's perfectly fine. When it inconveniences them, they just want the inconveniences to go away, not learn C++ from the ground up so they can pinpoint the error for you.

To that end, I have two suggestions based on the situation in which you find yourself.


If you're supporting a program that you wrote / helped write, make the error message box more than 5 paragraphs of memory addresses and an OK button. Make the popup something that a user actually cares about, like "Oops, the program made a mistake. Please help us fix it by clicking submit below." Have a submit button that will automatically gather all (of the automatically gatherable) information for you, put it in a report, then allow users to add their own comments to let you know what they were trying to do. Always give them a way to skip a certain step, mentioning just how helpful their submission could be to finding the error and eliminating it forever, giving them more facebook time at work. If your process is slightly informative and makes the end-user feel valuable, they'll be more likely to help you. On a side-note, always send thank-you e-mails to users who report issues, even if it's an automated e-mail. Thank them for their invaluable help, because it's only due to users like them that the program can be improved. Stroke some ego.


If you're doing 'desktop support' in a general manner, where you need to fix errors caused by other programs, make it easy for users to report those as well. Put a pleasant-looking note (so they don't just trash it) on their monitors with clear instructions on how to take a screenshot and get it to you. Emphasize that helping you find the problem means it won't happen again when you find out why it happened. Users are lazy creatures, and the easier you make it on them, the more likely it is that they won't mind helping you.

Comment Re:Proudly Canadian (Score 2, Interesting) 104

Leaving ethical implications of piracy aside, I'm just curious whether you're sure your BT connections are encrypted. Many clients offer encryption for the purpose of circumventing traffic shaping procedures used by some ISPs, but are very adamant that this encryption does NOT provide any assurance in skirting the law. As far as I am aware, no client offers true endpoint-to-endpoint encryption, but even if they did offer it, most clients choose low-strength ciphers like RS4, because using the stronger AES cipher requires a lot more CPU cycles for both the handshake (which must be done with every peer you connect to), as well as the actual encryption of the sent data.

While encryption does make it harder to detect that the traffic crossing ISPs networks is in fact BT-related, it's not impossible for them to crack it. Also, being that circumstancial evidence, or simple blackmail, has worked for the RIAA thus far, I wouldn't be willing to chance it.

Were I to be interested in torrenting some content in a less-than-legal manner, I would ensure that I remained low on the RIAA (and others') priority lists by:
1) not downloading anything that is immensely popular (i.e. selling well) right now, or hasn't been released yet
2) encrypting as much of everything as possible in the event that the connections generated by me do catch someone's eye
3) not piss off your ISP by torrenting to your max bandwidth during peak hours (most clients have a download-scheduling preference pane that will allow you to restrict, or eliminate, downloading during these peak hours ). PS, if anyone has found any good, concrete data on when peak internet usage is, i'd love to see it :)
4) use a blocklist (some people like 'em, some people hate 'em). there's not much concrete data on whether they really help, but it helps me feel better. some clients (like Transmission) have built-in ones

And of course, feel free to correct/discuss any of this.

Comment Ethics; Compliance; Job Security (Score 1) 1006

What's at issue here? There are legal, personal, and ethical reasons for doing a number of things here, and as IT personnel, it's your job to plot a path through this mess. You know there are wrongs, and those should stop. You know what would be right, and it's your job to ensure that happens (and sooner, rather than later).

So what do you do? Well, first off, keep everything on record, via e-mail BCC'd to one (or twenty, if you're paranoid) personal e-mail accounts you set up specifically for the purpose of documenting this.

First, you need to inventory what's going on. How many machines do you have, what software are they running? How many licenses do you have? Make a database of all of your licenses.

Secondly, it's your obligation via your position (as well as ethically) to let your employer know what's going on. It needs to be completely transparent to them what the current situation is, and how illegally the company is currently operating. If your boss is an unethical jerk; it's your job to tell HIS boss (if it's that large of a company) what's going on. Tell everyone who might get their ass kicked by the BSA what's going on. Yeah, they probably should know. But it's your job to make damn sure they do.

Third, propose options for fixing what's wrong. It'd be a lot easier on you to report them to the BSA, collect a fat check (maybe?), and go to Tahiti. It'd take some real gusto to actually break out a bucket o' elbow grease and fix this stuff. Find out what software you have and do an analysis if you really need it all. You mention Office, Acrobat, WinZip, and AVG, most of which have previously mentioned FOSS replacements. No, they won't be as *good*, but they will be legal, and in most cases they will do all that you need them to do. They will also be less likely to contain malware / keyloggers / other crap that I'm sure your employers would rather forego dealing with. You might even be able to find some commercial, non main-brand replacements for some apps (I recall some companies making PDF creators / editors that don't cost an arm and a leg, and will probably get the job done).

What were you hired for? Your company counts on you to:

1) make sure everything works so that business can continue
2) make sure everything is legal & licensed
3) minimize the cost of running the IT department while maximizing value

It's that last step that can lead people to consider employing unethical practices. We all want to save a couple of bucks. If you want to do your job and be able to look yourself in the mirror, you need to do everything you can to enact a swift transition to new practices. By all means, cover your ass by documenting your efforts and if need be quit your job & report the company, but try to do your job as much as you can before you resort to that drastic measure.

In my opinion, you'll be a hero if you can suggest some sort of a compromise that won't kill your company, but still make them legal. No, you can't go and uninstall every illegal piece of software right away, because the company will go under from a loss of productivity. But do try everything you can to fix the situation, write up a nice and pretty report that you can cc to all company management that gives them a good idea of what's going on (make sure to give them a summary that explicitly states the urgency of the situation), and for jc's sake put all the work you do on your resume.

In the end, you're doing this job for yourself. Don't accept the morals of the lowest common denominator, try to raise the lowest common denominator. Do some real good and bring another company up to compliance. People like you who want to do what's right are rare, and people who are willing to work 16 hour days for a week to get this done ASAP are even rarer. Work your butt off for a little while to bring more than just problems to your management, help them by bringing them solutions too.

What'll make you feel better? Sinking your company and dozens of jobs because of ignorant management, or convincing that management that you're doing everything you can to save them money and act legally, potentially saving the company and all those jobs from disappearing with one BSA report?

Comment Re:In related news... (Score 5, Funny) 144

Barack of Love: President Obama tours the world in Air Force One with the other leaders present at the G-20 summit. They face off in a series of challenges designed to test their mettle, in a style reminiscent of American Gladiator meets Real World meets Bromance, to see who is worthy of becoming Obama's best friend and top advisor. 19 enter, one will remain... 8PM / 7 Central, only on Fox.

In all seriousness though, I'm intrigued by the Twitter feed. Not so much the Facebook / MySpace thing.

Comment Re:Different from wearing a mask? (Score 1) 366

I think I may have come across as too harsh in my original post.

I completely agree that any act done to cover up criminal activity should be punished. If my buddy felt like robbing a store, and I pulled up a big truck in front of the store to obscure the criminal activity, I would absolutely say that I was at fault and should be charged with something.

My main concern is with the idea that "if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide". While I in fact don't have anything to hide per se (from the government, at least), I feel that I do have the right to privacy. I personally would look at the third amendment (protection from unreasonable searches/seizures) as giving me the right to obfuscate my activity from such unreasonable searches and seizures. For example, if I'm walking around a public street shouting into my cell phone, anyone around can hear it. If I, however, stand in a corner and make sure no one's around before I speak into my cell phone (or do so in my own home), I would feel violated if someone was spying on me. Much in the same way, I feel like using the internet without certain means of securing your data in transmission, or obfuscating it from outside parties, would be akin to standing in a corner hoping no one is spying on you. It's fairly easy to intercept unencrypted wi-fi traffic, for example.

The trouble comes in making the distinction between the right to privacy that I believe each of us has or should have, and an illegal activity designed to hinder law enforcement. If I am always, 100% of the time, connected to a VPN to protect my personal information, and then don't purposefully disconnect before committing a crime, would that be considered "deliberately" avoiding being identified? I'd be willing to bet that most people would say that if I was connected to a VPN 100% of the time, that's not "deliberately" avoiding being identified, and is just something of a standard practice for me. What if I connect to the VPN ONLY when I do banking? If I connect 25% of the time I spend online, and happen to commit a crime while using a proxy/vpn, is that deliberate concealment of a crime?

That gray line is what can begin to erode citizens' privacy. If it starts with this, I don't think it's too far-fetched to see legislation that says "if you encrypt illegal information (mp3s/movies), we'll tack on 50% to your sentence". I like to encrypt my laptop because I have information that's sensitive to ME on it, pictures of loved ones, passwords to my e-mail, tax return information, et cetera. If that fell into the wrong hands, my personal life would be severely compromised, even though I have nothing illegal on my computer.

Well... that was a bit rambly... but anyhow, in addition to this, even though it was never really enumerated in the constitution, the supreme court has historically regarded the right to privacy as being an inherent right. Typically, it's attached to either the 9th (enumaration of rights in constitution shall not limit those not mentioned) or 14th (No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States) amendments.

And, for the record, I am pro-government. I don't think that this is what they're intending. However, if everything is just taken on 'good faith' without discussion, that could create considerable gray area that might be a problem in the future. I like my privacy, and don't want to see it go away :)

Comment Re:Different from wearing a mask? (Score 2, Insightful) 366

However, if one of the fundamental conditions of accessing said 'public space' is that you have to wear that mask, or you can't go outside, should you still be penalized more for wearing the mask?

Proxies are everywhere, and are even encouraged in many places. For example, my school encourages us to install a VPN client for use while connected to the unsecured school wireless network in order to protect sensitive data that may be transmitted (bank logins, e-mail logins, et cetera).

Oh; and I believe the section in question is at the bottom of PDF page 8, numbered page 6. Section 2B1.1.

All around, this seems pretty silly to me. If they want to increase the punishment for committing crimes on the internet, fine and dandy, but masquerading what SHOULD in all honesty be some basic internet safety practices as "sophistication in a crime"? That's just stupid.

Comment For all the lazies out there... (Score 4, Informative) 1079

His assets weren't seized for the use of "scary voodoo operating systems". Oh, and for future reference, his name is Riccardo Calixte.

Application for the search warrant:

Here's a summary.

I) Why do we want his stuff?
      a) we think it's been used to commit a crime
      b) we think it contains evidence of said crime
II) What do we want to take?
      a) anything that can hold data (PCs, peripherals, phone, etc)
      b) documentation that may contain his passwords (computer manuals, post-its)
      c) evidence of ownership over systems used in offenses at the time of offenses
III) Where are we gonna find his stuff?
      a) his room.
IV) Why do we think we need to take his stuff?
      a) his roommate said that Riccardo hacked into the university computers to change peoples grades
      b) Riccardo was suspected of stealing a computer from the university previously
      c) the roommate's computer started acting funny after getting into arguments with Riccardo
      d) e-mails were sent out to the whole university saying that the roommate was gay
      e) network administrative staff said that according to their records, Riccardo did it
      f) Network Admin says: those e-mails came from their dorm, from a computer with the same name as one registered by Riccardo. additionally, a profile was posted on a gay dating site, screenshotted, and included in the e-mail. the only computer to visit said site within 5 days of the incident was Riccardo's. he accessed the site frequently 2 days prior to the e-mail.

It continues with more info as to why the originating officer is a good candidate to evaluate this stuff.

I think that's enough probably cause to warrant further investigation; but that's just me. I would encourage you all to actually read the thing, not just take my word for it, but hopefully this will quell some of the "omgz he wuz arestid fur uzing l1nuxz!!1" comments.

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