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Comment Between the lines.. (Score 0) 96

"There's a giant coal plant outside our offices providing power....but we purchased electricity credits in some far off land to offset this"

My local power corp allows me to purchase Green Energy too -- all through the same wires. I get to pay more for the same electricity coming to my house - but am lead to believe it really came from a solar panel somewhere on a mountain.

Comment Re:Deinstitutionalization + Social Media + Guns = (Score 1) 674

Yes - and the liberals get caught in a loop where they believe that an endless stream of money exists to hand out and support different programs. And the environment is on fire leading to environmental terrorism.

It isn't just a Conservative problem. Liberals get stuck in the same loop. I think -- *People* get stuck in a loop and their personal bias skews the information presented.

I love how talk radio hosts make things up too. "I can't find anything disproving this - so ... I don't know... this might be true" Nothing proving a negative so it must be true.

Comment Re:Conspiracy theorists at work. (Score 1) 674

I read a blog post from a guy who worked at the pizzeria while in college. One tenant of the "theory" is that the members meet and run the operation from the basement.

The previous employee says... "there isn't a basement in this building - it's on a cement slab." The owner has even confirm this separately in a BBC article.

Of course this employee wasn't privy to the secret bat tunnel entrance in the back parking lot ! :-P

Seriously - google search shows that there's a "Boston Bomber" like search of misinformation going on where somebody has discovered evidence of a "space beneath" the building because....well....there's a picture of a basement in the building next door. OMG. ha ha ha -- somebody else followed up and pointed out that the purported pictures show Round European electrical outlets so the pictures can't possibly be from the USA. Wrong building !! whoa duh.

How uninformed can people be ? -- but doesn't stop them from Post First and Asking Questions Later. (pFAQl ?) Post FAQ. Post Truth. Interesting.

Comment This seems very different (Score 1) 116

I don't think there's a checkout in this model. You just fill your bag and walk out.

The self-service pay stations are a temp solution until they can be removed. IBM ran an ad in the 1990's that predicted the future for RFID technology - just grab items and walk out. Walmart tried to do it - requiring vendors to place RFID in all items. I don't know why the Walmart initiative failed.

Maybe technology has made the important step forward.

But you're correct - this is a labor saving initiative. People will be replaced by machines. Those new jobs? Robots. Here they come.

Comment Finally - IBM suggested this a decade+ ago (Score 1) 116

Even cashiers are being automated.

At one time Walmart pushed vendors to put RFID in all items. They hoped to remove checkout lines - fill your basket and walk out the door.

Maybe technology has moved that magic step forward. Plus the world is **ready** for this - we've all been using self-checkout stations for awhile now --- and many of us are still waiting in the Thanksgiving lines at Walmart.

Prime is working for our family. Beyond "Top Gear Two" (TGT :-) The Grand Tour being a favorite - we do buy more. Just click and it arrives - terrific for those things We Need but it isn't worth driving to the store to get them.

A local grocery store is putting in some kind of "drive in" --- details short at this time. Change is coming.

Comment Re:I call bullshit. (Score 1) 354

I thought the same thing - but then read several articles describing this actually is a feature -- one case somebody died. If the car isn't locked in this manner the doors will open as expected.

I wonder the reason behind this feature?

This is ridiculous. What if it goes wrong? You hit a pole or land in a pond and something short-circuits - can't open the doors?! My car - like most I'm sure - will unlock the doors if the airbags go off. Great! But if it fails I can still pull the latch and open the door (granted from inside and needs two pulls of the latch). There is no way that I know of to lock the car.

Next we'll find out Chrysler designed it and hackable from the internet.

Comment Re:Escape is easy (Score 1) 354

The headrests from the front seats of my car cannot be removed - all part of some fancy anti-whiplash system. This seems to be a fairly common "modern" design. Sure - the technician probably knows of a way to do it...but you ain't doing it in an emergency.

Although difficult - the back ones do come out. Seems to be by design - slides up to the top...then one side becomes very very difficult to pull on.

Submission + - 6 seconds: How hackers only need moments to guess card number and security code ( 1

schwit1 writes: Criminals can work out the card number, expiry date and security code for a Visa debit or credit card in as little as six seconds using guesswork, researchers have found.

Fraudsters use a so-called Distributed Guessing Attack to get around security features put in place to stop online fraud, and this may have been the method used in the recent Tesco Bank hack.

According to a study published in the academic journal IEEE Security & Privacy, that meant fraudsters could use computers to systematically fire different variations of security data at hundreds of websites simultaneously.

Within seconds, by a process of elimination, the criminals could verify the correct card number, expiry date and the three-digit security number on the back of the card.

Mohammed Ali, a PhD student at the university's School of Computing Science, said: "This sort of attack exploits two weaknesses that on their own are not too severe but, when used together, present a serious risk to the whole payment system.

Submission + - Facebook started trending false news stories on a regular basis (

dkatana writes: "Facebook started trending false news stories on a regular basis." that's the conclusion of Susan Etlinger. She is an industry analyst at the thinktank, Altimeter Group, where she focuses on data strategy, analytics and ethical data use.

“In the Facebook News feed, which is optimized for engagement, the consequence is that the most controversial and provocative stories tend to be shared more than real news reporting, and Facebook has not had a way to make verification and authenticity an important part of the algorithm and then Facebook started trending false news stories on a regular basis.” That, Etlinger told Cities of the Future, “is an example where a machine has too much responsibility.”

When asked about the possibility of people using data and AI to influence political decisions and distort information to the public, Etlinger is outspoken:

We don’t even know the level of intentional misinformation that has been shared.” Etlinger says. “Obviously the US news media, as an example, is full of conspiracy theories right now. The reality is [AI] is an incredibly powerful technology, even more because it is very difficult, and in some cases impossible, to go back and understand exactly what happens in an algorithm, and AI.”

Comment Star Wars missile defense redux (Score 1) 147

Finally - a use for all of that "Star Wars" missile defense technology developed back in the 1980's !!!!

Of course - they never were able to get short an actual missile out of the sky, it kinda had to follow a predicable path, but still all that can be dusted off and made ready again.

I think that program (SDI) was estimated to cost a few trillion USD$. How many drone killers will it take to pay that off?

Submission + - Online Security at IRS phone scam finally may be fizzling out (

amandabin writes: We all should be thankful on this Thanksgiving Day that one of the worst scams to hit the Lehigh Valley, and the nation, finally is on its way to being cooked.

Complaints about the IRS phone scam have dropped significantly in the past month or so. After three years, international detective work and technological advances finally have carved deeply into these turkeys' business.

The scheme isn't completely stuffed away yet, so remain vigilant. But it's certainly not as prevalent as it was.

The relentless calls started in fall 2013. Con artists pose as IRS and U.S. Treasury agents and threaten people with a lawsuit, arrest or grand jury investigation unless they immediately pay supposed tax debts.

The debts aren't real but the callers bully people into paying over the phone, usually with prepaid debit cards and iTunes cards. More than 9,600 people, including some locally, have lost a combined $50 million. A California man lost $136,000 when he was exploited repeatedly over 20 days, according to the U.S. Attorney General's Office.

I heard from hundreds of people who got the calls. Some were scared. Others were confused about whether the calls were legitimate. Many knew they were fraudulent and wanted to know how to stop them or where to report the scoundrels.

Nearly 2 million complaints about the scam have been reported to the Inspector General for Tax Administration. It's also the top scam complaint to the Better Business Bureau.

But it's been a month or more since I've heard any complaints. Reports to the inspector general and the BBB are way down.

That's because some of the people accused of making the calls have been locked up. Early last month, authorities in India raided a call center and charged 70 people with fraud. On Oct. 27, U.S. authorities announced that 56 others had been indicted; some of them in the states, along with five call centers in India.

"We are encouraged that our investigation, which resulted in the announced law enforcement action in late October, has had a significant impact on this criminal activity," inspector general's spokeswoman Karen Kraushaar told me.

At the peak of the scam, more than 30,000 calls were reported to the inspector general in a single week. That was down to about 1,000 in one recent week.

People still are being ripped off, though, and the inspector general recently learned of 40 people who lost money, Kraushaar said.

"It is extremely important that people remain vigilant and remember to hang up on callers who claim to be IRS or Treasury employees and make threatening calls demanding immediate payment," she said.

In about the past month, the Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker website has received 91 reports of tax fraud, compared to 489 the previous month. While those figures include all types of tax scams, the vast majority are IRS scam calls.

"We are pleased with the drop and are looking forward to the day when we aren't getting any IRS tax scams reported," said Kelsey Owen, communications and public affairs director for the Better Business Bureau office that covers eastern Pennsylvania.

There are variations of these scam calls. Sometimes the callers are men. Sometimes they are women. Some calls are live while others at least start as robocalls. Callers often instruct victims not to tell anyone about what's going on and to remain on their cellphone while they are buying the prepaid cards to pay their supposed debt. The callers try to sound official, sometimes offering badge numbers and case numbers. But their foreign accents often give them away.

In addition to the arrests, technology also played a role in reducing the number of calls getting through.

As I reported in a recent column, a new technique being developed by phone and technology companies to block illegal robocalls stopped a substantial number of these scam calls during a test.

While this is all good news, I fear the fraud could catch a second wind. Schemes as profitable as this often morph into new ones. The Better Business Bureau also warned of that.

"We know from past experience that scammers are opportunists," Emma Fletcher, manager of the BBB's Scam Tracker, said in a news release last month. "Hopefully this crew won't be stealing from anyone again for a long while. But we will be keeping an eye on incoming scam reports so we can alert consumers what the 'next big thing' in scams turns out to be."

The IRS phone scam already was evolving prior to the raid in India. John Miller of Bethlehem Township told me he got several calls in late September from the "Office of Taxation" that followed the same script.

"I guess they gathered that everybody has figured out the IRS game so now they're trying a different name," Miller told me.

If you get an IRS scam call, you can report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (800-366-4484, or the BBB Scam Tracker (

Protect yourself against scams by reading my previous Watchdog columns at If you are targeted with a new scam, let me know and I'll warn others.

The Watchdog is published Thursdays and Sundays. Contact me at, 610-841-2364 or The Morning Call, 101 N. Sixth St., Allentown, PA, 18101. I'm on Twitter @mcwatchdog and Facebook at Morning Call Watchdog.

Comment Re:The debugger was very good. (Score 3, Interesting) 133

Yes it is fantastic. I grew up on dbx and xdbx (at least AIX version added wonderful stuff). WinDbg is a frustrating mess of amazing-power coupled to arcane commands. VS lays over this what xdbx did for dbx.

Best VS debugger feature was IntelliTrace (C# / .NET "only" feature). Still need to have the Enterprise or Ultimate license - but if you have it - wow. One can walk code backwards from a break-point looking to answer the inevitable question "how did execution get to this line?"

Although none of the MS tools provides "where" like a dbx/core dump provides (although WinDbg can come close).

For all of the hate that some spew at MS - the one thing they have always been good at is ease of access for complex technology. SQL Server - easy to use. VS - easy to code. Windows 8 - never mind.

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