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Comment Re:5,999,999 now (Score 1) 141

I too am in the camp that just switched from ATT Uverse to Comcast within the last 3-6 months.

The reasons were several... First of all, I was paying for ATT Uverse Internet/TV/Phone package, and the bill I was paying was $154/mo (which was their promo pricing still). The promo pricing was ending, and I calculated what the new price would be for all of this, and it was over $170/mo. My family decided it wasn't worth it, and we were 'cutting the cord' for TV.

With that price from ATT, I was getting 18/2 internet speeds (actually got about 23/1.5). They couldn't get me any faster service in my neighborhood, they tried to boost me up to their top teir in my area of 25/2, but the speed went down instead of up. Just to get the 18/2 plan, they had to bring 2 lines to my house and bond them on the side of the house. The non promo price for internet alone was going to be $65/mo.

I switched to Comcast, internet only, and was able to get a 200/10 plan for $70/mo, which isn't bad. When the deal runs out, it will be $90/mo, at which point, I may keep it, or lower it down to their 100/10 plan for about the same price I'm paying now, which is still 4X faster than what I got on UVerse.

I signed up for a 3rd party VoIP provider for home phone, (Ooma in case anyone is interested), and pay about $12/mo for this, instead of the $40 that ATT wanted to charge. TV is being taken care of with streaming services, currently Hulu, but may move around as needs and content change, along with several FireTV boxes running Kodi as well.

Comcast speeds have been great, my actual speeds I'm getting are 240/12, so looking at this, the 'extra' provisioned speed I'm seeing over my advertised plan is more than entire UVerse plan speed! Couldn't believe it, and am happy at this. Plus, right after I switched, ATT announced they were going to enforce Caps, while currently Comcast has their Cap "not enforced" at the moment (for however long this lasts, but either way, staying with ATT would have gotten me Capped earlier anyway).

With Comcast, I was able to purchase my modem myself, and own it, instead of the forced monthly rental from ATT UVerse, and the service hasn't gone down in the several months I've gotten it, so it's not all bad. Granded I haven't had to deal with Customer NonSupport yet, but that's never fun no matter who your provider is. Another bonus was my "ping" time went from 32ms on UVerse to 12ms on Comcast, so it's better for gaming and other lower latency activities.

All in all, I'm saving a ton of money for way faster service. Granted some of the saving is from cutting the cord, but even taking TV out the picture, and comparing Internet/phone services, I'm still paying less for much more than I was getting before.

These are the reasons I switched, which made sense for me in my situation in my area. It sounds like different areas have different services for both Cable and ATT offerings though so it might not be the same story everywhere. It seems some areas are lucky enough to have ATT offer >100Mbps plans, which in my area they couldn't even touch. Also, even though I'm in the Bay Area, my neighborhood is an old neighborhood in the suburbs and there is no way Fiber of any kind is going to get brought in anytime while I'm alive, so I'm wasn't going to hold my breath for Google fiber or Fios.

Comment Re:Is this so hard (Score 3, Interesting) 113

You don't need to prevent spoofing, and you don't even need a community black list. Implement this at the carrier and the problem will be done: 1) have service answer call, and make sure user is real and not a robocaller by asking them to press a specific (random) number key... 2) After completion of the previous step, ask the user to state their name. 3) after the completion of the previous steps, then ring the owners phone, and when they pick up, the service will tell them the phone number of the caller, along with a playback of the person's recorded name. 4) you have the option to dump/reject the caller, or allow them to connect. Once you allow the caller through, that person goes through without authentication next time they call (unless you remove them from you whitelist). Non whitelisted number can still get through if they are legit, and numbers that are spoofed still have to go through the process before they make your phone ring. This would kill almost all robocalls and still allow screening of non-robocall sales calls. Problem solved, just needs to be implemented for all phone line types.

Comment Re:Crestron! (Score 1) 18

Crestron integration is already happening with this from what I've heard from others in the industry. It's not native supported by Crestron, but more of a custom hack-together solution, being experimented with by a couple of people here and there but it is happening already, at least on a few programmers test bench (not sure if anything has been deployed in the field or to someones house yet). Same with Amazon Echo integration with Crestron, so you can talk to your Crestron control system and have it do things (which also relies on IFTTT as the middle man).

Comment Re:It can be fine... (Score 1) 536

And I carry around several of the USB-to-RS232 adapters as well and use them in my day to day job ALL THE TIME. I wish they didn't disappear, but I'll admit that the uses for them have shrunk to a very small subset of (usually) tech personel of some type or another. Now, the quality of the adapter can be iffy, as not all them meet exact RS232 spec's and chipsets, so I've also had issues with some that work fine on most equipment, but some equipment won't talk to them because they are out of spec, making having top notch most expensive converters the ones that I have to buy to be reliable across the biggest set of devices.

The mini-phono jack however is not a 'niche' connector used by a shrinking group of computer nerds. It's EVERYWHERE. From day to day use phones, mp3 players, car stereo's, home stereo's, laptops, PC's, and extends into the pro-audio world on everything (well technically pro-audio uses 1/4 phono, but even then, a $2 passive adapter will adapt it to work with 1/8" mini). I even see some devices (Samsung TV's) that use 1/8" mini as a serial port. I've also seen Android apps that let you send serial commands from the headphone jack. So the uses are more than audio as well, even though that is the use case for 99.9% of people.

Comment Re:I've thought about this (Score 1) 120

I researched solutions for Robo Callers, and the best option I could find is a third party box called the "Tel-Lynx Guardian". It plugs in-line between phone and wall (like an answering machine), and answers all your calls for you and requires all callers to perform a one time qualification before they can get through to you. When it answers, it has a automated voice prompts of it's own and requires 3 things. The first time a caller calls, it answers before ringing your phone, and requires the person on the phone to record their name, and the phone number they are calling from (and I believe a random number digit is requested as well to verify it's a human). If the caller gets past those steps, then the device rings your phone, and when you pick up it announces to you the information it collected in the qualification process and gives you the option to dump the call or allow through. Once you let the call through, it adds that caller to a whitelist that is then allowed straight through to your phone from then on so they don't have to jump through the automated system everytime.

The only problem with it, is it only works for landlines and land-VoIP phone service. I almost got one, but recently switched to a new VoIP home service that includes personal black-lists, community black-lists, and NoMoRobo integration, which has helped greatly.

Unfortunately, there are no options for cell phones that I have found, comming short of having your number bounce through a land-line with some type of filtering before going through to your cell. I would LOVE a software version (or implementation at the provider) of the Tel-Lynx device functionality for use with cell-phones, and I think would kill the Robocalling industry.

Comment Re:All they had to do (Score 1) 26

Not to be critical, but you might want to release the triangle wheel first, that way the square wheel is an improvement over it (however still flawed), then after that a pentagon wheel, then a hexagon wheel... The users will feel the product is getting better and better with each release, even though the wheel still isn't round.

Comment Re:Awesome! (Score 1) 87

I'm highly skeptical of the info in the article of being able to root 90%. When I got my GalaxyS5 (running 4.4), I needed to root it (for reasons I won't go into here), but in order to root it, I had to install "SafeStrap" for a recovery boot option, ODIN to flash older kernel to the device, boot to recovery, and downgrade the kernel, then use "BusyBox" and "TowelRoot" to root the device... then recovery boot again, and use ODIN to re-flash current kernel back. This method involved rebooting the phone multiple times, flashing from recovery mode (which an app can't run in recovery mode), sideloading some apps that aren't available in the Play store, and using ODIN (windows program) from a connected PC, plus having downloaded 2 kernels to have handy (and moved to the SD card) for the flashing.

With all that said, how is a "flashlight" app achieving all this when there were too many steps that required user interaction and couldn't be done by an app on the phone? I call BS to the 90% number.

But I agree with the parent, that Root access should be a menu setting, and not require the technical gymnastics that it has become. If not on all phones, then at least on all phones purchased outright that are "unlocked" and not from the carriers (Nexus and other brands similar). I have bought 2 phones recently for family, where we paid full price outright for them, not through the carrier, and are not carrier branded nor even sold through the carrier, and yet they have no root access on them. Why? Would people still use Windows/MacOS if all you got was a user account when you installed, and didn't have admin privileges? I think not. Why is this deemed acceptable on a phone when it's not acceptable on a PC. I would make the same argument for the mediaplayers out there as well, like FireTV, NVidia, AppleTV etc. Should all have root access as an option.

Comment Gang Related, not random (Score 5, Interesting) 137

This has been a more recent problem, and it IS gang related. Some relevant information about the problem... there are 2 feuding gangs, one from Richmond, and another from Vallejo that are having some kind of feud between each other (don't know which specific gangs). The corridor of the freeway and towns mentioned are for the most part, all the towns in the stretch between these two locations. El Cerrito is just West of Richmond, and if you travel east, there is Richmond, San Pablo, El Sobrante, Pinole, Hercules, Rodeo, Crocket, and then the bridge with Vallejo on the other side. The majority of these shootings are happening mostly at night, not during normal driving hours and almost all of them have been in this specific corridor (with a couple outliers happening near Berkeley).

These are NOT people on foot taking pot-shots at passing cars or anything of the like. These are mostly targeted, and are between multiple cars on the road, not on foot, so the perpetrators shoot and then just drive away and get off the freeway down the road. In some of these cases, one gang will in Richmond will spot a rival gang member on their turf, and chase/follow them, until the rival members gets on the freeway toward vallejo and the ensuing shooting occurs on the freeway. I think most of the shootings that I'm aware of, have happened on the East bound side, which indicates travel from Richmond toward Vallejo.

I've also heard rumors that one of the reasons the shootings have moved to the freeways, and the 2 gangs are attacking there is because the freeway does not have any "Shot-Spotter" system installed, which some of these cities in that corridor of the freeway do. I don't know if this is accurate, but it does make some sense. So in other words, if one gang intends to attack another gang IN Richmond, the shot-spotter system would detect it and they have a more likely chance of getting caught. If they follow the person onto the freeway, then open fire on them, then the Shot-Spotter systems are useless. So this could already be a case of one "safety system" pushing the violence out of the area where it has naturally occurred in the past, to a new area that does not have the same "safety system". So there is the real possibility that putting some system in place on the freeway will just push it somewhere else, maybe a worse place (for those not involved).

Comment Re:I don't believe it for a second (Score 3, Insightful) 388

This was my first knee-jerk reaction as well. Right after they couldn't win a court case involving the same thing, it's convienient that now a personal more heart touching request is being made by a non-government agency. This raised red-flags immediately when I read.

While I feel for the guy, and understand the reason behind his request, my next logical reaction was "why didn't you get the password from your son before he passed away?". If it was a sudden, unexpected death, like a car accident or something then I understand not having plans for that, but this was cancer... he had time (maybe little, maybe a lot (while for the family, not enough time in general), but there WAS time to get that info from him while he was alive. Or to have the son take his password off the phone so it was unlocked and not protected at all.

I understand when a family is going through something like this, they don't want to think of all the things that need to be done on a rational level, but this proves that you still have to think of and deal with issues while you can if you are going to consider them important after the fact.

Comment Re: What? (Score 1) 410

This isn't entirely true. While you ARE on a contract, the phone is 100% yours after the contract is up, thus it doesn't hold up to the "renting" the phone paradigm that you suggest. It's more of a finance than a rent. If the phone was rented, then no matter how long you had it, it would still belong to the carrier. Similar to the cable companies "renting' the cable modems to the users, you never own it if you cancel service, no matter how long you've had it. On the other hand, after a 2-year contract, the phone is mine to keep, I can get the SIM unlock code, and I can take it another provider, or sell it on the used market, or whatever I want with it. They don't ask for it back. Thus, it's not renting.

Submission + - A Bot That Drives Robocallers Insane

Trailrunner7 writes: Robocalls are among the more annoying modern inventions, and consumers and businesses have tried just about every strategy for defeating them over the years, with little success. But one man has come up with a bot of his own that sends robocallers into a maddening hall of mirrors designed to frustrate them into surrender.

The bot is called the Jolly Roger Telephone Company, and it’s the work of Roger Anderson, a veteran of the phone industry himself who had grown tired of the repeated harassment from telemarketers and robocallers. Anderson started out by building a system that sat in front of his home landlines and would tell human callers to press a key to ring through to his actual phone line; robocallers were routed directly to an answering system. He would then white-list the numbers of humans who got through.

Sometimes the Jolly Roger bot will press buttons to be transferred to a human agent and other times it will just talk back if a human is on the other end of the line to begin with.

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