* Posts by Timo

334 posts • joined 26 Sep 2007


Hold horror stories: Chief, we've got a f*cking idiot on line 1. Oh, you heard all that


What, no three way call faux pas?

I'm sort of surprised that nobody has offered up this one: it was common to "tap" someone into a call, making it a three-day call. And by "tapping" again you usually dropped the third party.

But not this time. We were in a meeting, calling anther office, when it came up that we needed some information from a co-worker who was not particularly fit for her job. Tapped her on, asked the question and got a response, then boss tapped to drop her from the call and said something to the effect of "man I hate working with her she is such a pain to work with", only to hear a response of "hey Bob I'm still on the line". Much backpedaling ensued.

From then on it was determined that it was better to hang up completely and redial the first call then to risk getting caught with the third party still engaged.

It's 2019, and a PNG file can pwn your Android smartphone or tablet: Patch me if you can



My aging Moto phone on 7.1.1 says that it's security patches are from June 2018!?!

I bet it will be the 32nd of NEVER when the next set of security updates will be released. Might as well leave the barn door wide open.

Jammy dodgers: Boffin warns of auto autos congesting cities to avoid parking fees


Re: Captain Obvious hits back?

Dear AC, I think your two ideas, while good, appear to be completely contradictory. If autonomous cars are not allowed to roam the streets without passengers, how will they legally be able to go park themselves after disgorging said passengers?

And I bet that will be how government will attempt to regulate it.

Microsoft polishes up Chromium as EdgeHTML peers into the abyss


Re: I did use Edge...

I also used Edge as it came with a new work laptop. It did seem faster and fairly integrated. But after the silent "upgrades" blew away my bookmark files for the third or fourth time, I decided it wasn't polished enough to be ready for actual use. Too many other options out there that don't shit the bed on the easy stuff.

Is Apple going ease off its HomeKit chokehold? Sure looks like it...


will need hubs or gateways?

I think you will still need at least one hub or gateway/bridge to get the IPv6 packets out of your network and into the mesh, won't you? It does help clear up compatibility concerns, and the clutter and expense of having to buy a different wireless bridge with each brand of smart home device. I bet the the HomeKit devices were more expensive to manufacture because of the chip and its licensing costs, making them either higher priced and uncompetitive, or lower margin, so would have been a deterrent to manufacturers.

CableLabs sends its time lords to help small-cell mobile nets


Tight timing needed

For the higher throughput 4G and 5G situations the user device will often be receiving multiple streams of data from multiple sites.

Also in order to improve throughout at the edge of a cell's coverage it means that the interference from adjacent sites must be managed and coordinated. With LTE's OFDM structure it can mean that other sites will not transmit in certain time or frequency subgroups so that the air is clear for the mobile to hear from it's serving site, thus requiring incredibly tight timing to pull it off.

Buttonless and port-free: Expect the next iPhone to be as smooth as a baby's bum


using microwaves to charge your phone

I heard that Apple products could be rapid-charged by putting them in the microwave for 20 seconds!

But what if that really worked? And why is there no internet urban myth about that?

1 in 5 Michigan state staffers fail phishing test but that's OK apparently


In other news

11 out of 6 people are bad at math

Airbus CIO: We dumped Microsoft Office not over cost but because Google G Suite looks sweet


Re: Exell or not with Excel

A large company will have a dedicated accounting system, but as soon as the beancounters need to make sense out of some info they'll dump it into an Excel file and massage it into a report.

Probably not the best tool for the job, but the one that people can get around on.

A smartphone recession is coming and animated poo emojis can't stop it


Re: Back to basics

Could it be something going on with the network? Since that phone is packed with radios, any change in the RF conditions or configuration of the networks might adversely affect the battery drain. The lower your received signal the higher it will need to transmit to get back to the tower. Same if the operator has configured the system to ask the phone to register with the network .

Put a phone in a metal box and it will drain the battery searching for a signal and trying to reach any tower it might find.

From tomorrow, Google Chrome will block crud ads. Here's how it'll work


OpenDNS at the firewall

OpenDNS is free, sure they scrape your queries, but I find that there are settings in it that hobble many of the most obnoxious ads and don't break much. They also steer you clear of malware sites, and others if you wish. I have been blocking doubleclick domain resolution as well, and it cut back on the ads without breaking much of anything.

Configure your firewall to use it for DNS instead of your ISP's, and then for extra umph set up the firewall to funnel all DNS queries through it (individual devices and smartphones can select their own.) All of a sudden your internet got a cleaner.

BOFH: We want you to know you have our full support


All true

Amazon product reviews mimic this exactly, as do everything on the Microsoft web page.

I haven't figured out the ones that come back with "I don't have the problem you describe and I don't even own this product, but it seems like it might/should work for you."

I think it is because there is some sort of community pissing contest where people are ranked based on the number of comments, regardless of their helpfulness.

You did miss the usual Microsoft support site canned reply of "I can't/won't help you unless you spend the next 5 hours dumping all of these logfiles and tracking down a long list of details." Those copy/paste-tards usually are able to do everything EXCEPT actually help.

'The capacitors exploded, showering the lab in flaming confetti'


Re: Improbable - disagree

We let the smoke out of a bunch of lab equipment, many times. I was working at a company that supplied equipment for airplanes, which run at 120V, 400 Hz, and we would have to run our checks from a PC connected by a serial line (120V 60Hz).

To save money on the 400 Hz system they did not tie the grounds together, and you can imagine what happened. Plug the device under test into 120V 400Hz, then connect the serial port to the device, and nothing would work. Blown serial port. We got really good a replacing plug-in serial boards, because we blew them out so often. Maybe once or twice we would blow a power supply, or in those days pop a fuse. the one 400 Hz power outlet gained a huge note "FLOATING GROUND".

Magic Leap blows our mind with its incredible technology... that still doesn't f**king exist


Hyperbole aplenty

The last time I recall getting this amount of hype and superlatives was with the Segway. It was going to revolutionize walking or something, and be bigger than the Internet. And it too was delayed, to heighten the hype and drama.

And didn't it have some nickname too that played on the magicalness of it all, wasn't it Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers type of "secret hype code name"?

Apple succeeds in failing wearables


I'd like to fail like this

Even though they're a failure they still sold over 3 million blingpieces in a quarter of the year. I wish I was such a failure.

Online outrage makes Logitech drop a brick: Now it will replace slain Harmony Link gizmos


why did it need the cloud

Seriously I have the question of why it needed "the cloud" in the first place. Not owning any Logitech remotes I assumed that the cloud link was so that the user could go to the cloud and download profiles for new types of remotes to impersonate. In which case the cloud access would be pretty useful. Is that true?

It would still suck to orphan them though.

One-third of mobile users receive patchy to no indoor coverage


Yes that is true. But the places where you likely need it the most are home and work, and presumably you're already set up on those networks. In practice I sometimes found out that I had low/no coverage and would then connect to the nearest hotspot.

There are some of the new disruptive cellular alternatives (Google Fi) that prefer a WiFi connection and will log in automatically if they have deals with those network providers.

Robot takes the job of sitting on your arse


other names

What about:

The Butt-ler


Robo-butt, Ro-Butt

With flames shooting out of its arse.

Why are we disappointed with the best streaming media box on the market?


agree completely

We have three Roku boxes in the house. They're the quickest and easiest way to get smarts in a TV. Plug them in and they work.

Started with Roku3 so we could stream Netflix, then a Roku1 to smartify an old projector to watch movies outside on the garage. Just upgraded a couple months ago to a Roku Stick ($45 USD), and honestly it does everything the Roku1 it replaced did, just a little bit faster. And that's about it. I loaded Plex on a machine and serve up a hundred or more movies for watching around the house. I specifically didn't go all the way up-range since they all do basically the same thing.

I am waiting for some of the usual cable channel providers to de-couple themselves from cable and allow direct subscriptions. Roku may be in the best place with their content-agnostic strategy, any provider could come up with their own app and you subscribe directly (many offer streaming apps and for now you authenticate using your cable TV account, which is really strange.) PBS has an app but it could be better, and as you mention the Roku is blind to it. The overall user experience becomes handicapped by the quality and eccentricities of the app itself (Netflix's app is both good and frustrating at the same time). The Roku search function does well to find a certain show across all of the online libraries. In general it works but the seems to be nothing breathtaking about it. Casting is convenient but my Android phones don't seem to support it.

You may not have experienced the oddities of the Roku app and how it struggles for control with the included remote. There's just something about how it is a dumb remote rather than an extension of the interface that is baffling to me. In my experience Tivo has a much better Android-app remote where it acts as a smart extension of the controls.

2019: The year that Microsoft quits Surface hardware


I see a lot of them

I keep seeing more and more of these Microsoft tablets. In fact my company just splashed out a ton of money to buy them for all the managers. They're flashy enough for the management types, but they can also get real work done.

I bet they are pricey but does anyone know how much they are losing on each one? Is a small price increase (or cost reduction) all it would take to make things balance?

At one time Microsoft was somewhat interested in selling hardware as it was a tangible product and visible for people. But it is hard for a software company (that can change their answer on a whim) to have patience for hardware. There's also the legacy cost and EOL and supporting stuff that has already shipped.

Unloved Microsoft Edge is much improved – but will anyone use it?


wasn't ready for prime time, and now the damage has been done

I got a new job and a new W10 laptop a year ago, so I used Edge and it seemed fine and workable to me. Until Windows updates silently discarded my list of freshly saved bookmarks (that I needed to get my job done and had saved for a reason). And it happened more than a couple of times in rapid succession.

So I switched the default browser back to IE, and use Chrome for other general websurfing. I'm not that interested in going back to Edge. Does it do something that the other ones can't?

Memo to Microsoft: Keeping your promises is probably a good idea


IBM was hardware, Microsoft not so much

IBM tried to keep their hardware customers happy. That was back in the days when you sold hardware at gigantic margins and the software was incidental.

Current times are different. Hardware is commodity and all the value is in the software. You don't need to buy any hardware if you get software that is in the cloud. Or you're the new IBM where the hardware is commodity, software is open source, and you make money on consulting.

Now Microsoft comes along but they're a software business. Two keystrokes and a few mouse clicks give you new software, just go download a fresh copy. Hardware doesn't work that way, it is persistent.

User thanked IT department for fast new server, but it had never left its box


Re: Credit for something I didn't do?

Some time ago I had a PHB/manager that REQUIRED the use of a unix workstation, like her minions were using. The monitor had multiple inputs and she was always complaining of how when she undocked her laptop the screen would switch to the workstation and not switch back without a tedious sequence of button pushing on said monitor, and required grousing.

After about a year of watching her do this I said "just unplug the workstation, after all it has been stuck on the boot screen the whole time!!" The boot/init script was stuck about halfway down the process so it had never been operable, despite the claims that "I'm using it for my work".

She was the kind of boss that worked double-hard to try to cover up the fact that she was incompetent, so getting caught in a failure like this did not go over too well. A very expensive paperweight that thing was.

Nest cracks out cheaper spin of its thermostat


Forced air

A large majority of single-family homes in America are heated by forced-air furnaces, so they are relatively quick to warm up, and may be the most responsive to programmed cycles. It is the most straightforward way to get heating and cooling in one system. Zoned heat/cooling is not common unless you're in the money or have made a substantial addition to the size, but even then it is like two large zones.

As many have described there are a lot of other types of HVAC with different tradeoffs of efficiency and response times. As they say YMMV.

Volterman 'super wallet': The worst crowdsource video pitch of all time?


missing a disclaimer "not to scale"

With all of the electronics and batteries that thing is not going to fit into a pocket and leave any room for the usual wallet items like money and credit cards and ID.

I also got a right laugh out of: "This is Rob. At first glance he's just a regular guy."

No he's not, he's a bearded hipster.

Rob won't buy this. It would need to be steampunked or artisanal, or shiny white to match his earbuds.

Couldn't get past 30 seconds. Do not want, do not need.

Florida Man to be fined $1.25 per robocall... all 96 million of them


I wanted to get a 900 number

I wanted to get a 900 number for my home phone, that way when any of those robocall companies called me I'd make money. Maybe $10 for the first minute and $5 for every minute after that.

IBM warns itself of possible outages in lab shift screw-up


extreme short term viewpoint

In many cases it costs money in the short term to save money over the long term. When a company is so focused on the short term finances that they lose track of the bigger picture then they're not going to last very long. Management will formulate the idea that they're very expensive to maintain and will sell off or shut down the whole thing.

This is where private equity can come in and make the correct big picture investments and make money.

IBM: ALL travel must be approved now, and shut up about the copter


Doesn't solve all the problems

This has a very definite side-affect: now that every travel approval has to go all the way to the top, they're going to take their own sweet time deciding to approve or not. What will happen is that the delays will push the traveler from the cheap early advance purchase ticket into the much more expensive last-minute fares. There might be fewer trips, but each trip will cost much more.

Or maybe management will think they're smart and wait until after it is too late to approve. At which point they'll be issuing credits for service level agreement failures.

Naming computers endangers privacy, say 'Net standards boffins


Here are your network-specific hostnames

99% of your general public will not understand what the network specific hostnames are for. You'll end up with another layer of facepalming:







AWS offers $20 bribe to derps who buy old IoT condom-o-matic dunce dobbers


they probably made some money from the advertising

Amazon maybe isn't getting the advertising revenues they expected - I'm sure Tide and Charmin pitched in to make these a reality.

Supermarkets are strange - the business setup is nearly opposite of what you'd assume. It is more like real estate where the shelf space is what they rent out, and make a very small margin on the actual sales.

How Apple exploded Europe's crony capitalism


did much the same in the US

Apple came in and broke the grip of the US operators. Before the iPhone we were stuck with lousy choices for phones. Verizon was too arrogant to allow another company to speak to their captive customers. AT&T was starving for an advantage, and put themselves at the mercy of Apple. AT&T had a couple boom years of exclusivity while Verizon got to eat crow.

Same thing happened in Japan. Softbank deployed world spec networks and then the iPhone. Everyone in the telecom world said that it would never work, Japanese required custom products,etc. After only a year or so Softbank had picked up huge market share.

Insecure IoT networks for medical data? Easily fixed, shrugs Arqiva


small bits

The Sigfox network only burps out a message of 12 octets, so around 100 bits. The data that is there is going to be fairly abstracted or obfuscated. And nothing would preclude them from encrypting/encoding the data, sending it, and then decoding it when they pull it from Sigfox's cloud. So wouldn't it be like sniffing encrypted internet traffic?

Boffins turn phone into tracker by abusing pairing with – that's right – IoT kit


what is the uptake rate on the patched software?

So Belkin spends the time and money to issue updates to their software, which is promising, but how is that handled? Do the devices automatically update or does it require the user to do it? Publishing a software update is a necessary step but doesn't guarantee that it will be installed. How many people that buy those light switches are going to be mindful of updating, if the thing works (as far as they can tell)?

Want to spy on the boss? Try this phone-mast-in-an-HP printer


Re: For added awesome

It is getting off topic, but that is part of the reason for Wi-Fi calling. Hard to beat the price of an already installed wireless access point. Put the coverage where you need it.

Coming soon to smart home devices? Best Before labels – with patch cut-off dates


this may be a step in the right direction

Once the hardware has shipped and the manufacturer has pocketed the money the ongoing support just looks like cost. And as the device is supported it also means people aren't as motivated to replace them so the vendor loses out on those replacement sales too. This all works against the consumer.

So maybe educating the consuming public, and embarrassing vendors into declaring their support plans, may be the way to get this translated into business results and business terms that the beancounters can understand.

Four reasons Pixel turns flagship Android mobe makers into roadkill


Re: It's the age old problem...

This is where I thought Microsoft would be around to catch the OEMs running away from Google. At the time of Winphone 7 and 8.1 they *were* slightly less evil than Google.

Now is pretty bad timing and Microsoft is going to miss this window of opportunity. Their phone OS is having a lie-down, and they're shooting themselves in the foot with W10.

BOFH: The Idiot-ware Project and the Meaningless Acronym

Thumb Up

Re: huh ?

No - getting involved is the best way to make sure that you don't get tasked with anything. I've just done this with a few "initiatives". Offering to RUN the committee (into the ground) is even better! You tell your daily taskmasters that you're too busy with the "task force", meanwhile you're in charge of said task force and get to use the whip on everyone there, making sure that you don't have any actual work to do besides taking credit for everything that is being done. As they say on fireworks: "light fuse and point away from body".

The boss has the attention span of a housefly so in a month's time there will be another long-term plan to torpedo.

Keep your friend close, and your enemies even closer! Or embrace, extend, extinguish!!! You have to beat them at their own game.

My Nest smoke alarm was great … right up to the point it went nuts


Re: I had a first gen go wacko

Hammer, or garden hose, would fix the beeping

Is Apple's software getting worse or what?


Re: What is going on?

I have been waiting for the day when people start to realize this.

"In the old days" we didn't have to keep keeping up with the constant changes to "apps" and software, the functional and interface changes. Back then you got a piece of software and maybe you'd get some downloadable updates, and you had control over your corner of reality.

Now it is a continuous revision cycle where apps get updated and things generally move around just because the developers changed their mind. Things get added and taken away, and you have no control over it! Get on the bus, sit down, and get ready to go where the driver wants.

NIST: People have given up on cybersecurity – it's too much hassle


Re: Don't blame the users

This is where social engineering plays. It is really easy for the crooks to impersonate the companies, hoping to confuse you long enough to hand over some money or information. And like viruses and spam, when the companies improve their information it is an escalating war that will need to be solved some other way.

It happens in real life (hucksters misrepresenting themselves), on the phone (Microsoft calling), and online. It has always been lucrative.

Or maybe you're implying that the legit companies and the crooks are all acting the same way, which is also true. Many "legit" companies are finding that they can get pretty far with the sin of omission (not telling you everything that is going on.) This has also been going on and has almost always been lucrative *in the immediate term*. So who are the real crooks?

Apple iMessage URLs ship OS, device, and IP data to sites, dev says


iMessage was a way around expensive SMS

At the time that iMessage came out sending messages over the data connection was much cheaper than sending them by SMS for 10 cents apiece, and was a way for Apple to gain control over the wireless operators. Now that SMS is dirt cheap and data is capped the equation may be different.

Invasion of the Brandsnatchers: How Nokia and BlackBerry inhabit the afterlife


I expected things to turn out differently

I estimated that Google would continue to screw over their hardware "partners" by turning the hardware into a bottom level commodity product, which would send hardware vendors running into the arms of Microsoft. Back then Microsoft was a more competent company than they are now, and less evil than Google. This was probably 6-8 years ago.

Now Android and its apps have become a security and bug problem on all fronts, but Microsoft has decided to opt out of mobile for a while so they they figure out what they are doing.

FCC death vote looms for the Golden Age of American TV


EPG subscription

I never understood why the Electronic Program Guide is a separate piece of information aggregated and provided by a third party. With the whole move to digital TV it seems there would be enough spare bits in the datastream to transmit the EPG, and it *could* be updated in near real-time.

Except it didn't work that way. I guess what may have happened is that TV Guide and other companies (think newspapers and yellow page printing companies, not media companies) started something as a service to the TV companies, and that model hasn't been disrupted for some reason.

Well that and the TV stations proved that they were not capable of handling subcarrier data - for a few years in the 90's many VCR's were sold with the capability to automatically set their time from the TV signal so they weren't blinking "12:00" forever. I heard that many people had problems with it because the time sync server at the TV station was not maintained, so many VCR's were showing the wrong time, and could not be manually overridden.

Pull the plug! PowerPoint may kill my conference audience


Re: Ho Hum

I proctored a science fair type event last year at the middle school, and one youngster was in a complete panic about getting his computer to recognize the screen and transmit said information to the projector. He had shown up a little early to test things out, and it just didn't work at all. He had no other fallback method to get the job done.

Only after another fellow spent 30+ minutes trying to figure it out did the boy mention that he had just upgraded to windows 10 the night before, and in the process wiped out all of the specialized drivers for his gaming laptop. Most importantly was the video driver with the soft control to switch between laptop panel and projector modes was not loaded.

An important lesson learned for him: If the sodding thing is working, DON'T F**K WITH IT RIGHT BEFORE YOU HAVE AN IMPORTANT MEETING, unless you have a few days to test it and work the kinks out.

HP Inc's rinky-dink ink stink: Unofficial cartridges, official refills spurned by printer DRM


Re: The odd thing is

Planned Obsolescence is the cause. If a company builds a product that is so good you only need one of them, then their volumes go way down and the cost goes up (paying for the quality.) So if that company designs the product to crap out after a few years they might be able to sell you the replacements too. True for both hardware and software businesses. There is some opportunity to provide more functionality as technology improves, but that value need to be compelling.

The other scenario is that company B comes along with a substitute product at a lower cost (but with much lower lifetime.) Which one will you go for? If you buy on price you'll buy B. If you buy for "lifecycle cost" you'll choose A.

Don't shoot me for this - I'm only the messenger!

You're guilty but broke, judge tells Wash.io – the 'Uber of laundry'


Where is the "Uber" of washing machines?

Washing machine sharing? I post online with some whizzy app the availability of my washer, someone can come by my house and use my washer and dryer to do their clothes. I suppose if I really was bored I could post that they could drop off their stuff and I'll wash, dry, and fold, for a price that may or may not compete with the local laundromat.

After all I'm not using it 24x7, so it makes use of the idle time.

Or what if I post that I have a half a load of bright colored clothes and willing to take on anyone's other half of a load for a price. That's really pushing the envelope on efficiency. Green even.

The line forms here - first 5 people willing to put up a million can get in on the ground floor.

My Dell merger wish list


Dell got where it is by being a fast follower

The thing that made Dell the powerhouse (in the 1990's this is) was that they followed the major PC companies and then applied their supply chain optimization to produce clones of clones at much lower cost.

Dell may have had R&D spending, but it was focused on manufacturing and supply chain, not on computer tech and moving the industry forward. So they saved on a lot of R&D and risk, letting the majors invest in tech and take risks with products out in the open for all to see. Dell would come along and take the safest path with their products now that the market had been sorted and/or the trail had been blazed by someone else.

When IBM veered off into services Dell lost one of their main sources of tech innovation and places to monitor product data. HP eventually caught up with them on cost and so Dell's major advantage was minimized.

Don't get me wrong - Dell did do some really good things in the market but I posit that it was mainly around the supply chain more than the tech itself.

FCC goes over the top again to battle America's cable-box rip-off


This is going to solve itself eventually

People will dump their cable subscriptions altogether. Too bad there aren't many good internet access alternatives (cable modem or DSL, both brought by the same companies we hate.)

The thing that would accelerate their switching would be if the cable industry gets more anti-customer than they already are. If they doubled the price of cable people would dump it immediately and figure out something else. It would also open the door for a bunch of better internet access providers.

Who cares if satellite radio is a monopoly, you could always listen to commercial radio (that is mostly adverts with a few songs scattered inbetween). At this point nobody listens to radio and uses internet streaming or music stored on their player. Go ahead with your monopoly, we'll just substitute it with something different.

Got to dash out for some rubber johnnies? Amazon has a button for that


Can be hacked to do more useful things

There are instructions out there on the internets on how to turn these into more useful gadgets than just ordering another roll of toilet paper (GIUF = Google is Ur Friend). Something like not registering them with Amazon, instead getting them to hit a server on your internal network.

Are these just launching in the UK now? They've been available in the US for some time, maybe a year. I do not think they automatically order things, they push them into a queue of some sort on the site, and you have an opportunity to kill the order before it goes through.

I do think the people that use these will be in for a general fleecing, as Amazon will start ratcheting up prices once it determines that you're a captured customer that doesn't shop around or price compare. Like boiling a frog.

And Amazon surely is selling the button as advertising space - I bet each of the brands listed have paid a nice sum to get their logo placed on a button. So this is a nice scheme by Amazon to separate fools/tools from their money.

FCC airwaves auction opens bidding


these are really just transfer payments

While these look really great (make the operators pay for the spectrum), we all know that it will come around to the general public as higher service prices. These enormous companies don't have billions of dollars stuffed in the mattress somewhere.

Other countries dole out spectrum by way of other methods but those also have problems. The law of unintended consequences is one of those things that is hard to get around.


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