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Comment Fixing Number Spoofing is Hard (Score 1) 120

Sure, it's just a simple matter of programming to re-architect the signalling system that's driven the phone companies since the mid-80s. Unfortunately, number spoofing has been an important feature for legitimate businesses - it lets them do things like always give you the number of their main office as caller-id, even if the person is calling from a remote office, or let you give the direct number of the caller, even if the call is getting routed through the company's main office PBX VOIP gateway. It also provides the ability to do a lot more complicated things. And (this mattered more back then than now) it let them run phone switches on processors that were made in the 1960s and 1970s, and with mainframes that might have 10 MIPS of CPU power (compared with the wimpy 1 MIPS VAX I was using in 1980.) My wristwatch probably has less RAM than that, but probably a much faster CPU, and my wimpy Android phone has about as much RAM as my VAX had disk.

And yes, within the next decade we may well have re-architected the world's phone systems away from the designs we used back then (and much of the implementation has changed radically already), but interface standards stick around a lot longer than implementations, and are a lot harder to get rid of.

Comment Thank you! Lost, not "denied". "Foiled" is ok. (Score 1) 245

"Denied" would be the party not accepting him because he's not a member or didn't file the right paperwork or whatever. Dude lost, not only because he didn't have the credibility with most of the party that Gary Johnson has, but also because he's too crazy and embarrassing even for us.

"Foiled" would be ok :-)

Comment Bitcoin's designed for transactions not investment (Score 1) 106

Bitcoin isn't really designed for investment, in the buy-and-hold sense where you hope the value goes up.
What it's designed for is making transactions, so you can buy and sell regular goods over the internet with lower transaction costs than credit cards or PayPal, and so you can buy and sell (ahem) less regular goods over the internet with much less traceability than credit cards or PayPal, even though you don't get the advantage of being able to cancel the payment or limit it to $50 if the seller defaults.

Of course, what it's really not designed for is storing in a bank where somebody you don't 100% trust is holding it for you, because it's also an extremely convenient transaction methods for embezzlement, either by the bank's managers or employees or other insiders, and digital safecracking lets you become an insider without all the noise and dust of using dynamite or the risks of using guns.

Comment US Government Hackers worry me more (Score 1) 91

I'm really not worried about Chinese or Russian or Enemy-of-the-month-i-stani 1337 h4x0rs tracking what the US presidential campaigns are doing. I'm much more concerned about US government hackers monitoring who's involved with what political campaigns, and slightly concerned about campaigns and their totally-not-coordinated-with-the-campaign supporters' committees hacking each others' resources.

The biggest risk with foreign hackers isn't foreign governments tracking our political movements - it's foreign criminals compromising web pages, figuring that they'd be good targets, and if you're giving that $20 donation to some candidate who's not good at web security, they can redirect it to themselves.

Comment 30-100 feet is enough for smartphone wifi (Score 1) 99

Occasionally it might be nice to have longer range, but 30-foot through-wall and 100-foot free-space is usually enough for most wifi environments I'm in, and having a phone wifi that didn't burn battery so fast would be extremely useful, and would more than justify having to put a few extra wifi repeaters in my office space.

Comment Really-Low Power Medium-speed is cool too! (Score 1) 99

Sure, there are times that longer range is what you need, but there are a lot of applications for which Really Low Power is a real enabler, and 11 Mbps is plenty (while Bluetooth/BLE/Zigbee speeds may not be), plus being able to use one software stack instead of having to keep a Bluetooth one and a Wifi one or needing some badly designed hopelessly insecure IoT gateway box is a big win. 1kbps is enough to drive your lightbulbs, but if your refrigerator needs a software update or whatever, the higher speeds are useful.

I'm still using 3Mbps DSL at home (don't watch enough TV online to make 6Mbps useful), so 11 Mbps is fine, though I've upgraded from 802.11b to .11n for higher reliability (and I'd use 5GHz if my router could do both radio types at once.)

Comment Incompetent Evolutionary Teaching (Score 2) 385

40 years? You're trying to blame your parents, or your high school teachers, or what?
First of all, we've had a reasonable amount of wide evolutionary belief since the 1870s, Mendel's work was rediscovered around 1900, the Scopes Monkey Trial was in 1925 (because evolution was sufficiently widely known to be a threat to some people's social position), DNA in the 1950s.

The real problem has been how badly many people were taught about it. Not only was there the whole Social Darwinism thing and the Eugenics movement, using misunderstood and misrepresented "evolutionary" ideas to justify discriminating against and mistreating other people, there was the positively-intended fluffy belief that evolution was somehow about "progress", and evolving meant we were "improving" every day, or every generation, or certainly "scientifically" better than previous species.

How often do you hear people today talk about humans evolving into even more advanced species, or talking about how people they disapprove of needing to evolve? That's why people like Sarah Palin can ask "Why are there still monkeys?" That usual picture of the monkey evolving into the ape, then the Neanderthal, then the Cro-Magnon, then modern humans, each one standing taller and moving ever forward? It should be a picture of a whole bunch of monkeys and apes and hominids running around in various directions from each other.

Comment Certainty about dogs from wolves is very recent (Score 1) 385

Sure, we've known that dogs are related to other canines for a long time, but it's only fairly recent that we've had enough genetic data to be sure that they're descended from wolves, as opposed to other theories about jackals, foxes, coyotes, multiple species of wolves, etc., especially since there's a lot of potential for hybridization (e.g. the recent coywolves in the US, which descended from hybrids of coyote, wolf, and domestic dog) and domestication may have happened in multiple places at multiple times.

Comment Flint before the Crash (Score 2) 393

Flint used to be an ok working-class factory town before they closed the factories, though it's been rapidly downhill since, and of course before the criminally incompetent water administrators poisoned everybody who was left while drinking bottled water at the office.

I've only been there once, back in the 80s, staying overnight because my connecting flight to Exciting Dayton Ohio got cancelled because of fog. If you needed to find a motel near the airport, fast food that was still open, and coffee in the morning, it was as good as anywhere else.

The parts of Detroit and Windsor Ontario I was in around 2007 were ok also - we were bidding on upgrading data center equipment for GMAC (oops, the financial crash trashed that project), and we had some generic office space in some suburb near them. I did drive through the business parts of downtown (which were ok) and went to Windsor for dinner - there's good Middle Eastern food there, and I'd never driving south into Canada before.

Comment Can't use that - some robocalls are my pharmacy (Score 1) 172

I do get a fair number of legitimate robocalls, e.g. from the pharmacy or my dentist's appointment reminder system or whatever. An extra-fancy answering system could probably identify the most common good robocallers and only play that for evil ones, but especially since they keep faking caller id, it's hard to do well enough.

Comment Re:Ask them to put you on "Do Not Call" list first (Score 1) 172

That employee you want me to sympathize with is usually working for a scammer like "Heather From Account Services" or "Microsoft Technical Support" or "The IRS", or at best for "Maybe they really are selling solar panels for your roof but they didn't check the Do Not Call list or their own Don't Call Me Back list or even figure out if they're calling a home or business", so if they aren't thieves themselves they're working for shoddy businesses that waste their time and the time of the people they're calling, so they're probably going to do just as bad a job of providing services to anybody they sucker into buying.

And if you marked them as interested just so they get more calls, you're an asshole who deserved whatever they said to you.

I've occasionally gotten calls from surveys that probably were real Gallup polls, but unfortunately for them I've got no interest in telling them my age or income level, even though I'd happily tell them that I'm planning to vote "other" rather than Democrat or Republican, no, I'm not undecided, yes, I think Obama's done a terrible job but any of the Republicans would be even worse (or, if it's a push poll for one of the candidates or parties or political fund-raising groups, that their questions are so hopeless that there's no way to answer their "Politician X, Threat Or Menace?".)

Comment Re:Does anybody press 1 (Score 1) 172

I much prefer the ones that aren't pretending. And yes, I almost always press 1, because putting a human on the line costs them a lot more per minute than the robocaller bot. If I feel like taking the time, I'll stay on the line; otherwise I'll put the phone down and wait for the telco's hangup tones. (Now that we've got VOIP at work, sometimes it takes me a minute to answer the Lync popup, unmute the speakers, and put on my headset, so sometimes they're gone before I can press 1.)

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