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Comment Re:Something's not right... (Score 1) 131

I'm imagining a situation where this kid was the rock-star of the organization, which was pretty weak in the IT side. He wrote the systems that controlled everything, and he probably setup all the servers, etc. Since he was pretty young, he didn't use proper AAA systems, and probably created logins for himself on all the systems. He probably knew all the back-doors and other ways to get into the systems since he built it.

When he got fired, his employer probably removed his key-card access (if they used one), and most likely his email. They didn't /know/ about all the shadow systems and logins that exist because he didn't document them. And that is where the problem began...

Comment Re:Yes please (Score 4, Insightful) 304

But here is the kicker -- Senator A and Senator C both have towns in their districts that build floatys and arm-wings for the Navy... The Navy doesn't actually need them, and if they completely control their own spending, they will cancel the contract. Both Senators will have heavy job losses in their districts, spurning hard economic times, making it harder for them to get re-elected. If they write a bill that dictates that the Navy buys all these floatys and arm-wings for the Navy, then they saved jobs and are heroes... The same goes for army/navy bases, etc. Heck, it's reasons like that, that there is a fully stocked air-force armory in my town -- 75 miles away from the closest air-force base and 30 miles away from the closest airport that can even land a jet.

And that is why things don't chance. If we made these organizations more efficient and allowed them to spend in ways that are actually useful to them, lots of people lose their jobs (mostly people in congress, but you know)...

Comment Re:Why is that possible in the first place? (Score 4, Informative) 97

Actually, since digital switching began in the 60's and 70's, there have been three fields transmitted with every call (well, a lot more, but these are relevant)
BTN = Bill To Number -- this is the number that the call is billed to. This is actually validated by the connecting carrier, and still is today. In most cases it will be the circuit number, SPID, or an account number for really large customers.
CPN = Calling Party Number -- this is the number that the call is presenting itself as -- the Caller ID if you will. A long time ago, this was always validated by the phone company against the customer's record of DIDs. In the early 90's the LECs started charging companies to open up this field so that they could hide call center numbers, etc. and to make their phone number their brand. In the late 90's some LECs started offering this as a standard feature as a differentiation against other CLECs.
RTN = Route To Number -- this is the number the call is destine to.

This biggest problem is that we started getting a lot of smaller CLECs that didn't understand the technology well enough and started giving everybody closer access to the PSTN (for example, by not watching the CPN they were sending). The problem was exacerbated when VoIP became a thing and CLECs started allowing anybody access to the PSTN with no restrictions and no regard to their physical location.

These scams are hard to track down. I'd venture to say that 80% of them are running on stolen credit cards, on AWS (or other cloud provider) EC2 instances, connected to some VoIP provider that is billing another stolen credit card. They connect their SIP phones from anywhere to the PBX in the cloud and they start. Labor is cheap in other places in the world and with everything being in the cloud they can be pretty much anywhere. If they get shut down, they just use another stolen credit card and launch another EC2 instance and they are back in business a few minutes later.

Comment Re:Why are they messing about? (Score 4, Insightful) 97

The problem is that most of these scam calls are originating from outside the United States. Our laws can't do much outside the US without a lot of legal paperwork -- and in most cases it won't be worth it.

One easy solution is to give consumers access to the BTN or Bill-To phone number. This is the number that is being billed for the call -- essentially pinning down the place where the call is being switched into the PSTN. If you get the BTN, you get the person behind the call -- regardless of what their Caller ID is. Unfortunately, right now, the only way to get access to the BTN is via the SS7 protocol (not available to consumers), or to compel your phone company to give it via a subpoena. Enough abuse from a single BTN -- cut them off until they can clean up their act.

Comment Re:acrobat reader dc, for those that want... (Score 1) 17

You do realize that you still run all the Adobe software on your local computer -- the only thing that makes it "the cloud" is that it includes a document management and file storage piece. Oh, and I think /some/ settings are shared across installs of the software.

When they switched to this model, they also changed it so you rent the software instead of purchase it. The advantage is that they push updates more frequently, but you are paying a monthly fee for it.

Comment Re:lolwut? (Score 1) 96

Sure. But the hard things are :
  - Ads, and tracking their placement, etc.
  - Encrypted Content (most content producers don't want their content streamed unencrypted -- and that causes issues for vanilla browser deployments)
  - Streaming (this becomes less trivial if you are looking to utilize existing infrastructure to stream to the browser).

And these are why HTML5 video is still slow to roll out. Once the HTML5 spec had a basic video player, everybody moved onto the next shiny object and left the rest so everybody had to come up with their own solution.

Comment Re:How is this different from any university? (Score 2) 334

A lot of it has to do with the states dropping their support of higher-ed. In Michigan, as recently as 2000, 80% of the major Universities' operating budget came from the state. In 2015, it was down to 15%. Costs to educate each student (budget / number of students) has been flat, without considering inflation. Funding sources from outside the state have gone up, but not enough to offset the difference. Consequently, tuition used to cost $135/credit hour for in state, and now it costs $375/credit hour.

Comment Re:How is this different from any university? (Score 1) 334

When I helped run our Boy Scout troop when I was much younger, I learned some things about the United Way. In order to become eligible to receive a donation, you have to sign your organization up to volunteer for the United Way. In our case, we had to help run one of their call centers for I think three or four weekends. THEN, after you become eligible, you then have to buy their merch -- things like United Way flags, shirts, etc to promote them. Finally, the donation will usually come at an awards dinner -- which a few people from your org have to attend (and pay for).

They gave us a check for $1,200 for a new trailer. Not counting volunteer time, the troop ended up paying about $1,000 in fees, merch and expenses to participate. Sure, next year it would have been better but to tie up 8 guys for 4 weekends for $200, there were much better ways to get donations or raise money (selling popcorn would usually net us about $8,000 and selling Christmas Trees would net us closer to $10,000).

Comment Re:these new companies trying to get around old la (Score 3, Informative) 261

In Michigan it's not easy to become a dealership (not a franchise -- they can't sell cars).

You first have to join the dealer trade association. Then you have to apply to become a franchise with the state. The Secretary of State decides your initial market area that you are allowed to cover. If you don't belong to the dealer trade association, you immediately are not given a territory, and most likely won't be approved by the State. In order to get your dealership license, you also have to have a setup for service, dollars spent, setup with the SOS for tab registration, etc. Essentially you have to dump a ton of money into the location right away -- in essence a huge barrier to entry for anybody starting up.

Comment Re:Biggest effect will be on nearby Best Buys (Score 1) 167

This actually started with Wallmart. When Wallmart started carrying electronics, they were demanding to be cheaper than their competitors. They used their strength as a retailer to force the vendors to make custom versions of their products to accomplish this. On printers, they would ship without ink, for computers they would have 30 or 60 day warranty instead of 1 or 2 years. For TVs, they may have had certain featured disabled (for example, DVI ports were there, but you couldn't tune to them).

MOST electronics stores carried the same SKU at the time, and Wallmart/Sams Club had their own. Then other retailers started demanding custom packages -- so they got their own SKUs too. It's not that bad, but you will typically see 3 or 4 different SKUs... a discount retailer (Wallmart), a big box retailer (BBY/Micro Center), and online retailer (Amazon) and sometimes a SKU for premium retailers.

Comment Re:What Employee Works Without Pay? (Score 1) 120

And I think that is the key. They were upfront about it, and allowed you to make an informed decision. The owners of this wrkriot company lied and deceived their employees about what was going on.

If there are rough waters ahead, be open and honest about it. Most people will understand and try and help out. In this case, they lied about what their situation was to most of the employees they brought on and continued lying when they ran out of runway and couldn't pay them anymore.

The crazy thing was they leveraged themselves so much, they had no way to control their spending. Private jet service? Hiring dozens of employees when you are on the edge of the cliff? Just speaks volumes of their willingness to live reality vs. living the dream.

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