* Posts by AdamWill

1102 posts • joined 4 Nov 2010

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The Google Home Mini: Great, right up until you want to smash it in fury

AdamWill
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in Maps app settings

you can change / unset your Home and Work addresses in the settings of the Maps app.

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AdamWill
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settings in Maps

You can turn off all those annoying notifications in the settings of the Maps app.

Of course, this just prevents the app displaying the notifications. It doesn't stop Google drawing all these conclusions about where you're going and where you're parking your car when you do it :/

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Elon Musk says Harry Potter and Bob the Builder will get SpaceX flying to Mars

AdamWill
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Context

But you're both completely ignoring the context of the analogy. It wasn't an analogy about the *difficulty* of the task. It was an analogy about the *defined scope* of the task. He was saying that SpaceX's goal is to provide the service that gets people and materials from point A to point B - and not, for instance, to provide shelter and power and so on and so forth at point B. In the way the transcontinental railway companies provided a way to get stuff from coast to coast, but didn't build wells and houses and all the rest of the stuff that was needed for people to actually live there in comfort.

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Q. Why's Oracle so two-faced over open source? A. Moolah, wonga, dosh

AdamWill
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Re: The Open Source economy is a fraud...

Er...what does that have to do with open source?

To put it another way, is this not a precisely equally valid question:

"What happens when proprietary software companies can't make enough money to support their operations and there isn't a large software house around who can afford their valuations?"

And thus, can't we reduce both questions to:

"What happens when companies can't make enough money to support their operations and there isn't a large company around who can afford their valuations?

at which point it has nothing at all to do with open source (or, indeed sofware at all)?

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Open source sets sights on killing WhatsApp and Slack

AdamWill
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Re: Searching for old messages in different apps = nightmare

Er...why don't you just put the address into their contact details?

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El Reg was invited to the House of Lords to burst the AI-pocalypse bubble

AdamWill
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I was gonna say...

...it should be nominated for 'Freudian slip of the year'...

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Home Sec Amber Rudd: Yeah, I don't understand encryption. So what?

AdamWill
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One of these things is not like the others

Er....nuclear power (at least, nuclear fission) *is*, demonstrably, unsafe in practice:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Daiichi_nuclear_disaster#Event_rating

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster#Human_impact

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-does-the-us-do-with-nuclear-waste/

Other forms of power generation are, of course, 'unsafe' in their own ways, some more than others. But suggesting some kind of equivalence between the claims that 'vaccines cause autism' and 'nuclear power is unsafe' is patently absurd.

The same can almost be said for genetic modification of food; of course many claims that we know for sure it's incredibly dangerous are wildly overblown, but claims that it's certainly safe are almost equally dodgy. The truth is there's nowhere near enough data to be really sure what various long-term impacts of it will be, but one lobby wants everyone to pretend it'll all definitely be fine and we should just go ahead and genetically engineer the shit out of everything, while another lobby wants everyone to somehow revert to a state of pastoral bliss that never existed, and sane people who would like some sort of rational compromise involving careful scientific investigation get stuck in the middle.

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Apple’s facial recognition: Well, it is more secure for the, er, sleeping user

AdamWill
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Re: Biometrics

Also remember that the vast majority of smartphone users have such a strong preference for 'convenience' it's almost off the charts.

I'm actually (for once) more or less entirely positive about touch ID and face ID for 99.9% of phone users for this simple reason. I mean, the internet is full of comment threads like this about how touch ID can be 'defeated' using complex schemes involving gummy bears or whatever and face ID can maybe be defeated by, well, we don't know yet, but very likely something at least equally complex (given that Apple really does seem to have done some pretty solid work on making it resist the old 'use a photo' gag, etc.)

This is all fine and dandy and very nerdy, but rather heroically missing the point. How hard was it to break into most people's phones *before* touch ID? It was about as hard as 'pick up phone, swipe screen', because most people *just didn't bother locking their phones*. They don't want to bother typing a passphrase or swiping a pattern, it's effort they're just not willing to expend.

Even people who *did* lock their phones generally used a hilariously weak password or pattern and never, ever changed it. Getting into one of those is about as hard as 'try 1234' or 'shoulder surf for a few minutes until you see them enter the pattern, *then* steal the phone'.

It's not like the competition for touch ID / face ID is 'a world of people who lock their phones with strong passwords and change them regularly'. It's 'a world of people who don't lock their phones or use 1234 as the password'. Given this, all the arguing about Mission Impossible-style scenarios is a bit ludicrous. Touch ID vastly improved *practical* security in the real world by making it much more convenient to have at least *some* security, to the point where lots of people use it who never locked their phones before. That's a *good* thing.

It does seem to be the case that face ID isn't *really* better than touch ID in any particularly identifiable way but Apple chose to go with it because of the 'can't put a fingerprint sensor on the front' problem, and that's a decision you can reasonably question. But I don't really have a lot of time for 'well, some security researchers managed to compromise it with an awful lot of effort and time so it must be a terrible idea' dick-waving.

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Sacre bleu! Apple's high price, marginal gain iPhone strategy leaves it stuck in the mud

AdamWill
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Re: Compare like with like

Uh, what an absurd assertion. There's about seventy bajillion pieces of open source software, you can't *possibly* make a generalization like this and have it be remotely useful. Some of them are well documented, some of them are not. Amazingly enough, quite a lot like non-open source software!

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AdamWill
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Re: Compare like with like

They were...really different. You could *do* a hell of a lot with late-stage Windows Mobile devices, but it was an awfully clunky experience. You could do a lot less with early iPhones, but what you could do felt a whole lot nicer than using a WM device. So, I mean, it's kinda natural people have different takes on this.

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AdamWill
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From what I read, the demo wasn't actually a failure of FaceID at all. It's just that the device they tried to demo with didn't actually have it turned on. Someone managed to freeze frame the error message, and it's something like "In order to enable FaceID on this device you must (blahblahblah)" or something along those lines. So it's not that the facial recognition failed, just a configuration issue.

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Red Hat speed fiends celebrate automation

AdamWill
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Re: Burying the lede

Depends on the user, really. Again I'm not in that department, but AIUI, Tower is a very big deal for some customers. And then again, as you say, some users are fine with just the open source Ansible proper (this is all we use in Fedora). Depends on your scale and particular setup, I guess.

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AdamWill
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Burying the lede

It was kinda funny to find this way down the bottom:

"And Red Hat Ansible Tower 3.2, coming later this month, was announced along with the open source AWX project, the upstream version of Ansible Tower."

when I know that, to the Ansible folks, that was by far the biggest hairy deal in this whole event (note: I work for RH, in a different department). Yup, that basically means we open sourced Tower, like we said we were going to. Here it is, have fun:

https://github.com/ansible/awx

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AdamWill
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Re: Commissioning

Well, one of the ways you're "meant to do it" is to use Ansible for *all* changes. This is more or less how we run the Fedora infrastructure, for instance:

https://infrastructure.fedoraproject.org/cgit/ansible.git

if you want to change the configuration of a server, you commit your change to that repo and run the playbook. Always. You don't go in and start poking around interactively.

But really, that's just one pattern. I wouldn't say Ansible has a "main use"; different people use it for lots of different things. It's a tool, and upstream's pretty agnostic about how it's supposed to be used.

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15 'could it be aliens?' fast radio bursts observed in one night

AdamWill
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no

It's never lupus, twins, or aliens.

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Nasty firmware update butchers Samsung smart TVs so bad, they have to be repaired

AdamWill
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Re: Bricked TVs

But the dumb models are generally the lowest end in terms of picture quality. It's now more or less impossible to buy a dumb TV with decent image quality.

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SUSE pledges endless love for btrfs, says Red Hat's dumping irrelevant

AdamWill
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"even if, as was the case with this decision, Red Hat was never a big contributor or fan of btrfs."

This is not accurate. SUSE's graph actually shows that Red Hat *was* a big contributor to btrfs from 2009 to 2012; Red Hat is the darker red that comes second from the top in the bars. It looks like in 2011 and 2012 RH was one of the largest contributors.

As I've written elsewhere, the story of RH and btrfs is basically that we were indeed quite enthusiastic about it initially (as those numbers show), then we got less enthusiastic about it and tailed off contributions and future plans for it correspondingly.

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Continuous integration platforms are broken – here's what needs fixing

AdamWill
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CI is fine

Well...I'm as sceptical as anyone about the cults of Agile and DevOps. (Both have fairly reasonable ideas at their core, and the people who came up with Agile were mostly perfectly sensible software developers who just wanted to do some software development, but of course they got taken over by a bunch of charlatans and turned into ridiculous management cults). But CI (properly understood) is really a pretty simple and sensible idea that doesn't *need* to be tied to either of the cults. It's really just this:

0. Have some tests.

1. Don't take any code that doesn't pass them.

...that's it. That's the whole thing. And it's really not a bad idea - especially since adopting CI forces projects which hadn't done 0 yet to do it, which is a very *very* good thing.

Your code really *should* have a good test suite that's easy to run. And once you've got that, it's really not difficult at all to set up some hooks to run it whenever someone wants to merge code, and reject it if the tests fail. It's simple to understand, it's not that difficult to set up (especially in ecosystems where there's a kinda standard way of doing it, like github+travis), and it really *does* help.

It's not a panacea, of course not, and anyone who tells you it is should be laughed at. It doesn't replace, you know, planning, or integration testing, or lots of other things you should still be doing. But it sure does help.

(Sadly there does seem to be a nascent Cult of CI developing, which at least from where I'm sitting mainly seems to be based around completely misunderstanding what CI actually is and applying the term to all sorts of other stuff.)

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Paris nightclub red-faced after booze-for-boobs offer exposed

AdamWill
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Joke

as if

"It is not clear what sort of punishment the staff will receive, but given the bar is in Paris, it might involve being forced to be pleasant to customers for a whole year. Sacré bleu!"

Any self-respecting Parisian member of the service industry would choose the death penalty over that.

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The future of Python: Concurrency devoured, Node.js next on menu

AdamWill
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Re: Python and Threading Explained

So apart from thames' entirely correct point, there's another thing you're missing, here. It's the old point about optimizing the wrong thing, basically.

Here's a real world example: I had a Python app which didn't do anything terribly complex on the local system...and then, as part of its work, had to run three separate queries to a very slow-responding network server. Like, each query would take 30-45 seconds to run.

So here's the basic performance profile of the app: everything that actually happens locally, as part of the app's code, took, oh, about a half a second to run. And then those three network queries took ~2 minutes. On each run.

Conclusion's pretty obvious, right? To the overall performance of the app it doesn't matter a jot whether all the code that executes locally is written in Python, Perl, C or frickin' COBOL. If rewriting all that Python in C would make it thirty times faster, that would save...0.48 seconds, from a total execution time of...2 minutes 0.5 seconds. Woop woop.

*However*, if I could just get it to run the three network queries concurrently, that would save about 80 seconds. (Which, of course, is what I did).

So, yes, Python is not a particularly fast language. But that doesn't mean there's no reason why you might want to use some kind of concurrency in a Python codebase.

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Red Hat banishes Btrfs from RHEL

AdamWill
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Re: After so many version of Fedora that promised brtfs as the default filesystem

Few points:

1. If you look at the proposed / accepted 'Features' / 'Changes' for the last several Fedora releases (we changed the name from 'Features' to 'Changes' a few cycles back...) you'll notice that whole circus of 'we promise it's going to be the default next release!...no, wait, we're delaying it again' stopped happening several releases back; it hasn't actually been proposed as a feature/change for several releases. Which some savvy folks interpreted as something of a sign about RH's declining keenness on btrfs, and...well, I guess now it's not revealing any secrets to say they weren't wrong. :P

2. btrfs isn't being 'binned entirely' from *Fedora*; this announcement is specific to RHEL. Its status in Fedora for a long time has basically been "it's there, and it's approximately as supported as any other filesystem which is included and selectable from the installer but isn't the default", and that's still its status at present. Though I know the installer team has made noises about how their lives would be rather easier if they could kick it out of the installer again, I don't think that idea's live *right now*.

(Also FWIW, which is very little as I'm certainly not plugged into to all the internal channels on this, I don't *think* there's anything particularly political about this, it's purely the case that our storage folks have been kinda gradually losing confidence in btrfs being really good enough for our customers for some time.)

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AdamWill
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Note: I work for Red Hat, but not on the relevant teams, so I absolutely don't have the authoritative answer on this, it's just my impression.

"Go check lkml and see who is involved and maybe the reasoning for dropping Btrfs becomes more-clear as they lack expertise and may want to cut costs rather than employing people who know it well"

My impression is it's kind of the other way around. Generally we hire people to work on stuff we're interested in shipping. There was a period when there was quite a lot of belief within RH that btrfs was The Future, and IIRC, at this time, we actually did employ multiple folks to work on btrfs full-time. (This was the period when it was a running joke that btrfs was going to be the default in Fedora in the *next* release...every release...it kept getting proposed as a feature, then delayed).

Over the next several years, enthusiasm for btrfs just kinda generally declined internally, because it always seems to be perpetually not quite ready and running into inconvenient problems like eating people's data. (Again, this is not my main area of focus so this is only a vague impression I have, I'm not in a position to cite lots of data or state this authoritatively; I'm not going to get into a "who's right, SUSE or RH?" debate because I just don't have the expertise and I have nothing at all against SUSE), and in this time, most of the development resources we had for btrfs got reallocated elsewhere.

So it's not so much "we don't want to ship btrfs because we don't have anyone to work on it" - I mean, it's not like we don't have the money to hire some more storage engineers if we *wanted* to - it's rather more "we're not hiring people to work on btrfs because we decided we don't think it's the right horse to bet on any more".

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Cloudflare: We dumped Daily Stormer not because they're Nazis but because they said we love Nazis

AdamWill
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Seems to me...

...the problem here is that the real problem is that we have engineered ourselves into this corner in the first place. Yeah, I know that's not directly productive, but the key point is that I'm not sure there *is* a good answer to "how can we reasonably handle this situation in its current form", when the 'situation' is that the internet is clearly a vitally important forum for information interchange, but you *need* the services of one of a handful of random private companies to put something on the internet in such a way that any vaguely capable jackass can't take it down again.

There's *kind of* a parallel with newspapers and book publishers, I guess, but it's not a very good one at all. In the first place, newspapers obviously have to be *highly* selective in any case - they can't print anywhere *near* all of the content submitted to them (unsolicited articles, comment pieces, letters, whatever). And there's a much broader ecosystem of book publishers, and the cost of setting one up (or a magazine or whatever) really isn't very high at all, so that's a much more robust ecosystem. And Before The Internet you could at least just print out a bunch of pamphlets and go hand them out in the street or whatever; yeah, it's not *as* effective as getting a book or academic paper or newspaper article published, but the gap is a lot less stark than the gap between being On The Internet and not being On The Internet.

I dunno, doesn't seem like there are any exactly easy answers.

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Google and its terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week in full

AdamWill
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Re: Suggestion

Well, sure. I figured that was pretty obvious, so I thought it'd be a waste to go over it. Pretty much *any* job requires all those basics, and we have pretty well-established methods for dealing with them. My point stands, though: the requirements for most jobs are much more complex (not more *difficult*, I have a huge degree of respect for musicians!), and it's much harder to come up with a close-to-perfectly 'fair' technique like this for evaluating applicants.

(though from the stories I've heard, I am somewhat sceptical that all musicians actually *do* get along with their fellow musicians...it sometimes sounds like the authorities need to ensure the pub where the brass section goes and the pub where the strings go are not within screaming distance of each other...:>)

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AdamWill
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Re: Suggestion

It's a nice idea, but it can be difficult to accurately assess everything that's involved in most jobs in that way. The handy thing about the symphony orchestra case is that you really only need someone in a symphony orchestra to be good at one thing: playing the music. Which is pretty easy to assess in exactly the way you described. Most jobs are not so singularly-focused, and involve many different tasks, and different people in the same job might actually go about doing it differently. How do you account for all those things?

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AdamWill
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Re: Dynamic?

....what the hell? You can 'win' any argument by coming up with some spectacularly ridiculous 'what if' scenario. What if it turned out James Damore was actually a Time Lord who was Genghis Khan, Robespierre, Hitler *and* (okay, fuzz the timelines with me a bit here, it's nothing the BBC hasn't done...) Mao in his former incarnations? Would you support him THEN?!?!? Huh? Huh?

I mean, jeez.

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AdamWill
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Re: No alt right

er, no it's not. The term was coined by someone from that world. Bleeding heart liberals like me generally dislike it because we prefer to call fascists, fascists.

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AdamWill
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Re: Optional

Jeez. I thought the point here was pretty obvious: this (the 'clarification' of the code of conduct) can only possibly affect Google employees. So why would it be an issue of public interest?

I mean, feel free to take a side on whether the guy is some kind of heroic truth teller (sigh) and whether or not he should have got fired. But it seems a bit odd to me that you'd demand Google 'clarify' its code of conduct to people who *aren't bound by it*. Hence my point: if you're a Google employee, then your request is perfectly reasonable, but surely you have better places to ask for a clarification of the code of conduct than a random internet forum. If you're not, it has precisely zero impact on you, so why do you think Google should be obliged to interpret its code of conduct for you, when you have no standing relative to each other at all?

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AdamWill
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Do you work for Google? If so, why are you asking here, and not...at Google? And if not, why would you care?

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Commentard Quizwall experiment ends with more quizzing than commenting

AdamWill
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Re: Wonderful Stuff

Wait, post-modernism was invented in the medieval period? Quick, get onto a history journal, you're going to be famous!

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AdamWill
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Re: It would be funnier...

pfah, I'm way ahead of you. I have socialist opinions before I even read the headlines.

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Oh, boy! Uber investors behind CEO sueball say Travis Kalanick won't let the company grow up

AdamWill
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"Uber is the most important and promising company of our generation"

Oh fuck off, it's a taxi app.

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Ancient IETF 'teapot' gag preserved for posterity as a standard

AdamWill
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Obligatory

https://http.cat/418

(also, for you heathens who prefer dogs, https://httpstatusdogs.com/418-im-a-teapot )

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Assange offers job to sacked Google diversity manifestbro

AdamWill
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Re: Assange shouts at world to stop forgetting him

You realize peppering your post with 'SJW' has the same effect on its credibility as doing the same thing with 'Micro$oft', right?

And no, he wasn't 'polite'. It's fundamentally not polite to question whether your female colleagues are biologically capable of doing their jobs.

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The Next Big Thing in Wi-Fi? Multiple access points in every home

AdamWill
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Optional

Erm...why is this article talking about all this like it's new and uncertain when there've been like a dozen companies selling mesh wifi devices in the consumer market for a couple of years now?

https://eero.com/

https://madeby.google.com/wifi/

https://amplifi.com/

https://www.linksys.com/us/velop/

https://www.netgear.com/orbi/

Etc., etc., etc. I mean, you can already search and find *multiple* mesh wifi roundups from mainstream tech publications. Including one from six months ago calling mesh "the hottest trend in consumer wi-fi": http://bgr.com/2017/02/14/best-mesh-wifi-system-2017-mesh-network-router/

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Our day with Larry Page: Embedded with one of the world's richest men

AdamWill
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To be scrupulously fair, it's a transcript of a videotaped interview at which something like a dozen people seem to have been present. Some of the weirder bits read like they're a best attempt to write down serially what was *actually* people talking over each other, or at cross-purposes.

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AdamWill
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Optional

Actually, quite a lot of people with different political views think Rumsfeld's 'unknown unknowns' thing is a pretty sharp piece of analysis. It comes off as a bit absurd on a first, superficial reading but it's really pretty solid. Say you're a general from the Red country at war with the Blue country. A "known unknown" would be "I don't know exactly how many troops Blue has over in that base". An "unknown unknown" would be it turning out that Blue's been negotiating with Yellow for the last six months to launch a sneak attack next Wednesday and trap you in a war on two fronts, and you had no idea about it. It certainly *is* a wise policy to always be aware that there can be things you don't even know you don't know.

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Linux kernel hardeners Grsecurity sue open source's Bruce Perens

AdamWill
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It can be *two* things. :P

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AdamWill
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"So whatever one think's of the appropriateness of the move to sue Perens, it was always inevitable that they would do so in response to such a public post. They (and their customers) have no choice."

I think it's important to point out that this is, quite clearly, *absolute* claptrap. They most certainly did have a choice, and they made a terrible one. All your verbiage does nothing to change this.

Most of your other assertions are equally ridiculous. Perens will not have to 'defend his interpretation in court', because that's not what defamation is. He only has to prove he didn't defame anyone. He can do that perfectly well even if his interpretation is wrong.

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AdamWill
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Well, it doesn't seem that cut and dried, in either case, because there's what seems like a reasonable difference of opinion about whether this really *is* adding a restriction to the rights granted by the license. GR's position is that the license applies to the current code that actually exists, so a clause that adds a restriction that would only apply to future code which hasn't been written yet (and which the user certainly hasn't been given a license to yet) is OK.

But that's not really the point here. The point is that it's a complete dick move to sue someone for defamation merely because they stated their opinion about the license interpretation, *clearly marked as* a personal opinion. It doesn't really _matter_ whose interpretation is correct, that's still a crappy thing to do.

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AdamWill
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Yup. I don't know whose interpretation of the law is correct, but I feel comfortable saying the party that thought suing for defamation was a great way to deal with a difference of opinion is behaving extremely crappily.

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Four techies flummoxed for hours by flickering 'E' on monitor

AdamWill
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Re: @ Chris 125

Pfah, he should've gone with the old standby alt.sex.bestiality.hamster.duct-tape ...

ftp://ftp.armory.com/pub/user/leavitt/html/data/bizarre.html

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AdamWill
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...and that young man went on to invent Flash. True story.

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UK regulator set to ban ads depicting bumbling manchildren

AdamWill
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Optional

It doesn't exactly work like that, though, does it? Negative stereotypes don't necessarily "directly" affect people in the sense I think you mean. They have a more gradual, long-term, compounded effect. And it's often not an entirely obvious effect to observe at the level of a single person, because often the effect is to influence a person's perception of what roles (in terms of work, home life or anything else) are reasonable choices for them, and it's not easy to perceive when someone just doesn't even consider doing something because they've learned over time that it's not a thing that People Like Them do. After all, *most* people don't become astronauts or firefighters or Olympic athletes, so it's hard to look at *one* person who didn't do that and say "hmm, maybe media stereotyping played a role in this". You have to have a more sophisticated analysis.

One case I've found really interesting lately, which maybe isn't one you'd expect, is the show American Ninja Warrior in the U.S. It's an extremely popular sports-reality show (involving extremely fit people doing extremely hard obstacle courses), and to its credit it's made a conscious effort to promote female competitors. It's really fascinating to see the number of kids who see a woman doing well on a show like that and are inspired to take up the activity for themselves. I've seen more than one girl say something along the lines of they just didn't know it was *okay* for girls to be strong, muscular and powerful before seeing ANW or something like it: they just didn't see it as a choice. And indeed if you think about it, someone like Meaghan Martin (look her up, she's amazing) isn't a common sight in the media; if you think about the stereotype even of a 'fit' woman, it doesn't look like her. There's an overlap with tennis and all the shade that gets subtly thrown at players like Serena Williams who are unapologetically muscular and powerful; there's a strong current of belief that even elite female athletes must be somehow 'feminine', i.e. slender and pretty.

To put it simply: of *course* what you see around you, in the real world and in the media, affects your idea of what you yourself are capable of and 'allowed' to do, especially at the young ages where people often form their goals. It would be surprising if it were otherwise, wouldn't it? There are also of course obvious potential downsides to allowing what is effectively censorship, but I think it's nuts to deny the idea that widespread stereotyping can have this kind of effect.

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'My dream job at Oracle left me homeless!' – A techie's relocation horror tale

AdamWill
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Olympics? Er...

"Wow, Oracle," ... "I was proud. I made it into the Olympics of IT"

Uh...does this guy read, like, any tech news?

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Bonkers call to boycott Raspberry Pi Foundation over 'gay agenda'

AdamWill
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Optional

Confucious say, 'man who believe attribution of quotations on the internet is a fool indeed'.

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

AdamWill
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Re: @Adam Will Er....

But the story specifically referred to caller ID spoofing, not 'content made to sound like'.

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AdamWill
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Er....

The calls, 96 million of them in total, were presented on caller ID as coming from travel companies like TripAdvisor, Expedia, Hilton, and Marriott.

...

"Neighbor spoofing takes place when the caller falsifies the caller ID to match the area code and first three digits of the recipient's phone number, instead of the caller's number or the number where the call was actually originating."

So, er, which is it? Pretending to be TripAdvisor, or neighbour spoofing? I don't quite see how it could be *both* for the same call...

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Oh, wow, Canada: No more carrier-locked phones for Canucks

AdamWill
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Re: G

The three major Canadian carriers use the same frequencies, so that's not likely to be an issue. (Does mean you can't really take one of their phones to a minor carrier like Freedom, but then that's always been the case).

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