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Comment AMEX security (Score 1) 68

I have a corporate AMEX card and compared to my personal Visa/Mastercard cards, security is unbelievably worse.
For Visa/Mastercard cards issues by a local bank, authentication and operations like changing the PIN is done by an IVR system with a preshared password. Sometimes for extra security a live person asks some basic questions like the passphrase or you last weeks' expenses. In fact the bank warns me that I should NEVER tell anyone the card details such as its number, expiration date and CVC code. They rely on other details for authentication, which means if an unreliable bank employee or an eavesdropper records all this info, they will be unable to use it to spend your money.

When I activated my AMEX card, the customer rep asked me for all information printed on the card (including the number, all codes, expiration date etc.), and even was helpful enough to set the PIN retrieval number to the batch code of the card (printed clearly on the front of the card)!

Also, it appears they have no SecureCode/3DSecure system. Sometimes (but not always) online charges ask for your ZIP code (but not a one-time password like other banks do).

AMEX security looks like it was designed by a first-year student. Maybe it's a common thing for US banks to put convenience before security. European merchants frown upon chipless cards and ask for proper ID, and almost all online purchases require 3dSecure/SecureCode authentication with a one-time password (usually sent by SMS or a hardware token).

Comment Re:*Please* don't use the old-style keyboard light (Score 1) 219

I've owned laptops with such lights for years and this feels more natural than backlit keys. You can actually see your hands and a bit of background instead of a bright glowing screen and bright letters in complete darkness. Cheap backlit keyboards also leak light, especially when looking from an angle.

And if you touch type the letters don't matter at all, you only need the light to find the keyboard.

Can't say I prefer one to another, but these lights do provide some advantages over backlit keyboards.

Comment Re:What do we get? (Score 1) 468

OK, I'll bite :)
- A much better task manager. Very easy to spot resource hogs and kill them. Also, it shows tons of useful information such as HDD performance/usage, proper network usage (not %, but a scalable bandwidth chart)
- File History - Microsoft's answer to Apple's time Machine. Oh, and if you reinstall Windows, this is used to restore your files automaticlly.
- Metro apps - they will no longer be fullscreen and some are quite nice and easy to use. Most apps (like News, Weather, Mail, Bing Translate, Here Maps etc) work offline. And unlike Windows apps, the installation procedure is much easier and doesn't include crap like toolbars, viruses or changing system settings without asking.
- Tons of features, such as iso mounting, better printer drivers, ability to easily forget previously connected devices, settings sync, native support for fingerprints, conservative use of metered connections, a great theme collection and so on

MS did spend too much resources on Metro. There's tons of stuff which is never used on a desktop and which failed to be embraced by developers. Charms are useless, Metro apps on a 24" screen are wasteful (running a 4-function calculator fullscreen? really?), settings are split between Control Panel and the brand-new Metro settings screen. I've owned a Surface RT and many things did make sense, it was actually pretty usable, especially starting from Windows 8.1.

Submission + - Slashdots stops sucking effective immediately!!

GrabbaTheButt writes: In a complete 180 degree turn of events, the overlords at Dice have decided to end all Slashvertisments, kill Beta and end all stories that have no place on this site.

When asked why such a radical change? Management said "we have decided to start listening to our user community and stop thinking straight out of our asses".

Comment Re:Its starts with terror and kidding porn (Score 1) 176

In Russia they started blocking websites with the same reasons (+ a "methods of committing suicide" category to supposedly prevent kids from killing themselves). Then, once they had the infrastructure in place and more or less working they added a bunch of other stuff, such as:
- down-with-the-government posts
- pirated content

The blocked site list is managed by incredibly dumb people. That included blocking an Everquest wiki article on magic potions (supposedly it describes drugs) and Github for a single repository containing a list of suicide methods.
The blocking of Github was particularly nasty because Github is HTTPS-only (so it's impossible to block a specific page) and the agency basically said they don't give a shit if this is interfering with legitimate business - if you need Github so much, write Github and demand them to should honor takedown requests by the Russian government.

Comment Re:I in never post on ... (Score 1) 114

Twitter is useful for rapidly searching for news: accidents, network issues at a local ISP, realtime coverage of press conferences, that sort of thing. Also, many companies and websites have their own Twitter accounts and post news there - something like RSS replacement which is realtime and quick to browse (because messages are limited).

Comment Re:nah it's a dead cat bounce (Score 1) 269

"Modern" solutions like syncing only a handful of songs you expect to listen or streaming everything is much more difficult than carrying a complete audio library with you.
My current music library is something like 120 gigs. That includes
* regular 256-320kb/s MP3 albums
* FLAC albums
* soundtracks from games
* "bonus" stuff like remixes, instrumentals
* random compilations grouped into hierarchical folders
* stuff shared by friends which is yet to be listened to be deleted or saved
* "souvenir" CDs bought from obscure street bands without proper tags

The only players which can keep my complete music libraries are HDD-based. And the only way I can keep my audio organized is to keep it in folders rather than a single list with 11000+ tracks, 500+ artists, 1000+ albums.
The only portable player capable of carrying all my library was an iPod Classic. I even wrote a script to replicate the folder-based organization into hierarchical lists in iTunes. Being able to instantly play a song you haven't heard in many years, or being able to choose a song which matches you mood is really awesome. Having multiple days of battery life is also kind of impressive.
The only thing wrong with iPod Classic 6G was its audio quality. It seems Apple's vision was for Classic at that time was to be a video player capable of carrying TV shows (and plugging into a TV if necessary), that's why filling it with music made the library completely unmanageable.

Comment Re:The future of printing? (Score 1) 178

For home, printers are indeed used much less than 10-15 years ago.
Photos can be demonstrated on a tablet or TV, short documents and books can be read on a tablet. Printing emails is no longer the only option of keeping them safe. Maps can be used on a phone instead of being printed.

But if you need a formal or signed document, printers are still heavily used. I don't know how it's in the US, but in some countries you need stuff like
- passport copies for opening bank accounts, car registration, and so on
- offline bank payments (required as proof of payment by many government organizations here)
- visa application forms and supporting documents - can be over a hundred pages in total when preparing documents for the whole family.
This stuff is often difficult to get right the first time, so having a printer at home is much less stressful than driving to a print shop several times to get everything right.

Now in corporate/education, you may also need printed and signed confirmations for other stuff (especially when required by law). One more thing for which printers are better than tablets is handouts - making notes and diagrams with a pen is much more effective than fingerpainting on a tablet/touchpad or typing text on a laptop.

And let's not forget that printed documents never run out of batteries and have to be seriously damaged to be unusable. If you have a printed boarding pass, it's much less likely to fail.

Comment Re:HP (Score 2, Informative) 118

HP's consumer and enterprise laptops are entirely different and seem to be designed by different companies.
The Envy, Pavilion, "Essentials" lines may appear like chinese-designed OEM machines in an HP-styles package.
The Pro*, Elite* series are very different. They have
- custom BIOS with tons of options (unlike the consumer versions with almost no options and a text-based interface like you see in cheap OEM motherboards)
- much better touchpads with really nice buttons. The consumer versions often have weird stuff like virtual buttons, buttons with a loud "click" and non-existing travel. While enterprise laptops have buttons with some travel distance and a smooth click. I can't describe it but they do have a very nice feel, somewhat closer to keyboards.
- better components. Almost every corporate laptop has Intel networking chips (or at least Broadcom). The cases don't flex as much as consumer versions.
- the Windows 8 era machines include Windows 7 AND 8 installation disks - choose whatever you like. And proper, not "single-language reduced crap with tons of Symantec/McAfee/BonziBuddy bullshit" Windows editions.
- 3-year warranty. Not even Apple offers that kind of support.

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"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers." -- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a particularly vivid fantasy)