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Comment Re: Like the Altair 8800 - it's the first of it's (Score 1) 273

Yep, you're right. Commodore had the PETs and CBM machines. Oh, but they were built after Commodore got a demo of an Apple 2 (happy?) prototype:

"In September 1976 Peddle got a demonstration of Jobs and Wozniak's Apple II prototype, when Jobs was offering to sell it to Commodore, but Commodore considered Jobs' offer too expensive.[3]"

There was a lot of work being done in parallel. That's what happens when new chips are introduced.

Comment Re: Like the Altair 8800 - it's the first of it's (Score 1) 273

Actually CP/M ran just fine on the Altair 8800 and other S-100 bus computers, around 1975 or so (the first version of CP/M was released in 1974, but Wikipedia isn't clear as to what it ran on when). There were lots of different designs for personal computers, mostly built around the S-100 bus, and many of them were used by small businesses and hobbyist types even long after the first home computers hit the mass market.

But you're right, the Apple ][ was a new concept entirely. And by the time Atari, Commodore and the rest got into mass production the market changed. I think that the 3d printer world is in that same place as early PCs were in the late 1970s, still waiting for a great efficient design and mass market appeal. Unfortunately everyone thinks they're the next "the two Steves."

Submission + - Sysadmin Gets Two Years in Prison for Sabotaging ISP (bleepingcomputer.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Dariusz J. Prugar, 32, of Syracuse, New York, will have to spend 2 years in prison for hacking his former employee, Pa Online, an internet service provider (ISP) formerly located in Enola, Pennsylvania. According to authorities, Prugar had used his old credentials to log into the ISP's network and "take back" some of the scripts and software he wrote while as an employee there, after being fired in June 2010.

Seeking to hide his tracks, Prugar used an automated script that deleted various logs. As a side effect of removing some of these files, the ISP's systems crashed, affecting over 500 businesses and over 5,000 residential customers. When the former ISP couldn't fix the issue, they asked Prugar to help. During negotiations, instead of requesting money as payment, Prugar insisted that he'd be paid using the rights to the software and scripts he wrote while at the company, software which was now malfunctioning, a week after he left. This tipped off the company, who detected foul play, contacted the FBI and rebuilt its entire network. The ISP shut down operations in 2015.

Submission + - The Lack of Women in Cybersecurity is a Problem and a Threat (securityledger.com) 1

chicksdaddy writes: The devaluation of traditionally “soft” skills like empathy, communication and collaboration in the information security space may be hampering the ability of IT security teams to respond to human-focused threats and attacks, according to this article at The Security Ledger. (https://securityledger.com/2016/12/cybers-lack-of-women-a-problem-and-threat/)

Failing to prioritize skills like empathy, communication, and collaboration and the people who have them (regardless of their gender) and focusing on "hard skills" (technical expertise) "limits our conceptions of security solutions and increases risks to our systems and users."

The problem goes beyond phishing attacks and social engineering, too. “Studies have shown that projects that embrace diversity are more successful. It’s a simple truth that people with different life backgrounds and life experiences bring unique perspectives to problem-solving,” says Amie Stepanovich, the U.S. policy manager at Access Now.

In short: "when we keep hiring technologists to solve problems, we get keep getting technical solutions." Too often, such technical fixes fail to account for the human environment in which they will be deployed. “It’s prioritizing a ‘tech first’—not a ‘human first’ or ‘empathy first’—perspective,” says Dr. Sara “Scout” Sinclair Brody, the executive director of Simply Secure.

This isn’t the first article to raise a red flag over the technology sector's glaring shortage of empathy. (http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/silicon-valley-has-an-empathy-vacuum).

And while instilling empathy and compassion in adults who lack it might seem like a tall order, the piece argues that it isn't an unsolvable problem: there are entire fields—like user experience and human-centered design—dedicated to improving the way humans and technology interact. “Shockingly little of that,” says Brody, “has made it into the security domain.”

Submission + - Nuclear Bailout for Excelon Again (bnd.com)

mdsolar writes: A nuclear power plant “bailout” bill appears set to become law after making its way through the Illinois House and Senate on Thursday.
The legislation funnels $235 million a year to power-producing giant Exelon Corp. for 13 years. The money subsidizes unprofitable nuclear plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities that Exelon said would be shuttered over the next 18 months.
Opponents argued that it was wrong to subsidize a company that remains profitable, and that coal-fired power companies haven’t gotten such help. They also argued it will cost consumers.

“Here we go again, picking winners and losers,” said Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon. “The money has to come from somewhere. This is a bailout for a very profitable company.”

Comment All about scale (Score 1) 54

The advantage of big companies is that they gain economies of scale. But customer service doesn't scale very well. Every time customer service becomes a focus, the accounting department shuts down the budget. Call center personnel are low paid and poorly trained because their managers are low paid and poorly trained, having come up through the ranks of the underfunded call centers. This happens across the board. The engineers know that they could improve reliability (and customer satisfaction) by upgrading old equipment. But the accounting department/shareholders won't risk the dividend by releasing a lot of capital if the payback isn't within an arbitrary time period. So population dense areas get constant upgrades (because managers can easily justify the upgrade), while areas with longer payback get put on the back burner -or worse, the old stuff from the upgraded area gets shipped off to the more expensive operating areas.

Of course this all limits innovation in an industry. It only really works when there isn't sufficient competition, through controlling access to capital and/or regulation. By precisely controlling the upgrade cycle and product offers, you can define what constitutes customer service. It worked great for the old Ma Bell AT&T, and today it seems to work well for the cellular industry. The cable ISPs are slow to learn, but getting there. When the cable companies manage to rein in the marketing department we'll see customer service improve.

Comment Timely clickbait article. (Score 1) 60

This morning I did a mass unfollowing on Twitter. Amazing the amount of vitriol that's been going through the past few months, from people who up until this year were mostly interesting to me for their ability to entertain. That and all that bitcoin crap that I never bothered to purge. Here's hoping my feed can get back to hobbies and tech news again.

Comment Re:Free market solution? (Score 1) 48

Banking is hardly a free market. And separating yourself from a bank isn't as simple as it once was.

In the last year I've had several disappointing experiences with big businesses. All of them have been difficult, but the more competitive the market the easier it has been:

I own an Audi A3 TDI. My iPad Pro bricked after an iOS update. And (although I wasn't directly affected) Wells Fargo cheated a bunch of customers.

Although it has been a hassle, I was able to buy a new vehicle, one that isn't an Audi, just by visiting a dealer in town and picking one out. Sorting out selling back the vehicle to VW looks to be fairly straight forward and I never have to think about Audi again.

Apple screwed me out of several days of use and I had to complain a lot, but they replaced my dead iPad. If they didn't I would have likely sold all my Apple hardware and gone back to Microsoft and Android devices.

I'm considering moving my accounts from Wells Fargo. This will mean contacting a dozen or so different entities to change payments, deposits, and a bunch of other semi-automatic transactions, having to get new credit cards, and a very high likelihood of someone losing a payment. The first bank that offers a concierge-like service for getting all that sorted out will get my business. But I won't hold my breath.

Comment Re:Proves my concerns (Score 1) 48

Which is why people should be vetted and subject to background checks prior to working for a company. I'm sure everyone has a price, and a few people with a past do reform, but you're an example of someone who could have done some real damage but chose not to. I don't know what motivated you to not pilfer the data, but I'll bet the fear of the consequences wasn't necessary at the top of the list.

Comment Re:Unsurprising (Score 2) 21

When the goal is to deliver 4KHz worth of audio that hasn't changed at all over the last 100 years, It's pretty easy to get to 99.99% up time. Note that 99.999% uptime was only for SONET level circuits. When the product is narrowly defined by you, you get the ability to define what reliable service is. Helps to have the ability to raise rates every few years even when your operating costs drop. Also helps to control the central office upgrade cycle. That way you can make damn sure that switch's software is mostly bug-free.

Once you start running advanced networks it gets a little more hairy. And now that flat-rate pricing, instead of per-minute billing, is the norm, people are using the network much more than they used to. Because the upgrade cycle is less than 10 years, it makes sense to centralize as much as possible, especially for CPE provisioning and services. Years ago, switching for local calls was handled entirely within the local CO. These days there's going to be a virtual switch that could be located in another state, or maybe even just one or two for the entire country. If the local CO's link fails, or there's a badly managed maintenance order, what would have been isolated to a single town can now affect whole regions or even be national. But it helps keep the margins high and maybe keeps the competitors at bay.

Not saying it's right, just saying that current network management practices encourage centralization. And maybe there's something to that. Fixing one (hot backed up) thing that can restore service to millions in a few minutes might be cheaper and better than single point of failure devices all through the network. Certainly easier to patch and maintain a few redundant servers than thousands of individual units.

Comment I wonder when we'll see A-series MacBooks? (Score 1) 136

Somewhere in the bowels of 1 Infinite Loop I'll bet there's a mockup of a MacBook with an A10 processor. Or multiple A10 processors. Running a crude port of macOS. But because that would mean another round of porting legacy software over to the new chips it won't happen until they can get a good emulator experience. Seems to me that's where things should be headed, just basing on what's come up over the last few years.

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