* Posts by DougS

12863 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

Y'know that ridiculously expensive Oculus Rift? Yeah, it just got worse

DougS Silver badge

Re: Has the author developed a sudden brain problem?

I'm no fan of Trump, but that's hardly an example of "neo nazi" memes. A single $10K donation is hardly newsworthy for a multi multi millionaire, either.

Prime Minister May hints at shaking up Blighty's 'dysfunctional' rural broadband

DougS Silver badge

Re: good starting point

Sounds like Virgin Mobile (I assume that's "VM") uses the same HFC scheme that cable companies in the US do. Fiber to the node, where nodes are located every few blocks so you have maybe a couple hundred homes per node. For something like G.fast the length limitations are a bit shorter, but it is still cheaper to run fiber to a cabinet and copper from there.

DougS Silver badge

Re: good starting point

Terminating fiber costs more, as does the the optical interface in the router. That's the reason why Intel backed away from using fiber for Thunderbolt, after all.

What's wrong with putting a fiber cabinet on each block - or at the head of each cul de sac, if they're built like most US developments are? You do short copper runs from there to the houses.

You're going to have to run the copper anyway - some people insist on a hard line telephone and won't want to rely on VOIP or cell, and the local cable company probably isn't equipped to deliver TV over fiber. I suppose if you really want you could run fiber to the home alongside the copper and leave it unterminated for "future use". But it'll never be used in our lifetime, because there is no usage case for > 10 gigabits in the home.

DougS Silver badge

Re: good starting point

What's the gain from running fiber to the premises when having copper the last couple hundred feet can offer speeds up to a gigabit using G.fast over standard phone wire or cat5e, or higher using DOCSIS 3.x and RG6?

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

DougS Silver badge

@JDX - whole driving force behind IoT

You say the driving force is "fairly powerful computers are dirt cheap to the extent you can put them in stuff at little extra cost". I think the driving force is adding features no one needs so you can charge more for a product that should be simple like a thermostat, refrigerator or light bulb.

DougS Silver badge

Profiling & monetization

Given that Google owns Nest now, I think this is inevitable.

Since it has motion sensors, it probably knows if you get up to go the bathroom in the middle of the night on a regular basis. You'll probably start seeing ads for whatever they give old men to stop them from doing that!

'Flaw' in iOS 10 private browsing... not as bad as it looks

DougS Silver badge

What do they mean by "suspend state"?

Is it if you leave Safari running in the background when do the backup, or would it get the private data even if you kill Safari first?

Google's home tat falls flat as a soufflé – but look out Android makers

DougS Silver badge

SD cards are nowhere near as fast as a decent flash implementation. Compare the speeds that the iPhone and Galaxy S7 achieve to their internal storage with the pitiful rates that SD cards are capable of - especially for random data (i.e. an app writing a bunch of small files)

DougS Silver badge

Google had perfect timing

With Samsung potentially having round two of their Note 7 PR mess on their hands, a lot of Note 7 buyers will be looking at alternatives. And hey here's a phone that's the same size, same screen, same performance, same price which has a chance of actually getting updates beyond the end of 2017.

I think the Pixel is going to be a hit, not because it converts iPhone buyers but because it steals customers from Samsung!

Can Facebook influence an election result?

DougS Silver badge

Re: You mean progressive?

Many republicans used to consider themselves liberal under that definition, until the meaning got twisted to be "opposite of conservative" and they did such a good job of making it a four letter word that liberal democrats now call themselves progressives.

DougS Silver badge

If it is thrown to the House, Trump wins

The only chance of the election going to the House would be if the race is super tight, and Johnson wins Utah. He has no chance in other states.

I think it is dangerous to assume that if the election was thrown to the House that they wouldn't pick Trump. You might wish that sanity would prevail and they'd pick an actual adult like Paul Ryan, but that's very unlikely IMHO.

Here's how the process would work when the republican majority House members met behind closed doors to determine their strategy:

1) Some actually support Trump and would signal their intention to their colleagues that they are voting for him no matter what

2) Some would believe it is wrong (or feel it is bad politics that could cost them their next re-election bid) to choose someone that didn't even run for President, or perhaps ran but wasn't nominated, and would signal their intention that they feel forced to vote for Trump

3) A few might think that way but dislike Trump so much that they'd signal they would vote for Hillary over Trump (especially if they were lame ducks and didn't have to worry about political repercussions - at least two retiring house republicans have already announced their support for Hillary over Trump)

4) Due to worries that splitting the votes between Trump and Ryan would send Hillary to the White House, the plan to choose someone other than their nominee would be discarded and enough republicans would get behind Trump that he wins

DougS Silver badge

Voter turnout has a liberal bias

The higher the turnout, the better for democrats it is, because those who register republican are more likely to actually vote than those who register democrat - probably because republicans tend to be older and older people are more likely to vote. Thus, there is a correlation in elections where the higher the overall turnout the better the democrats do, at least on a national level.

So if Facebook merely presents the "I voted" button to every one of its users in the USA, without trying to slant it by party, age, or any other factor, I'm sure in certain quarters it would be claimed they were trying to influence the election.

Though I wonder if that would be true for this election, which is unique in that both candidates have record high unfavorability ratings, so most people casting a ballot for Trump are doing so because they hate Hillary, and vice versa. Greater turnout might induce more reluctant republicans to vote against Hillary than the reverse.

'My REPLACEMENT Samsung Galaxy Note 7 blew up on plane'

DougS Silver badge

Re: has there been any news on WHY they catch fire?

This has been covered by the news already. The batteries made by Samsung SDI were the problem in the original Note 7s, because the "squeezing" process they did on them to try to maximize the power per volume to fit in the chassis was in some cases placing the positive and negative too close together / penetrating the insulating layer between them. As one wise guy suggested, maybe they should have removed the 3.5mm jack to make room for a bigger battery instead:)

As for this latest incident, they said they would be using batteries from a Chinese supplier that had supplied the batteries for the Note 7s sold in China for replacements, which had no exhibited this problem. So either that's wrong, this is a new problem, or this was just a case of very very very bad luck for Samsung.

Given the reports from some customers that their replacement Note 7s are overheating and draining the battery very quickly, I tend to think this isn't bad luck but they have another PR disaster on their hands. One person claimed to be on his 4th Note 7, having replaced his original (which he said was trouble free) and having the overheating problem with all three of his replacement Note 7s. Even someone as loyal as him will give up on Samsung at some point. Google had good timing with the Pixel introduction (I'll bet they did some last minute checking of the batteries they are using to be extra sure before they went on sale!)

DougS Silver badge

Re: "He took it out of his pocket and threw it on the ground"

Almost all men carry their phones in their front pocket. The picture of the burned phone didn't show any obvious bending damage such as a cracked screen.

DougS Silver badge

Saw the same thing on US news

There have been reports over the past couple weeks from people with replacement Note 7s saying they get very warm, and that the battery drains extremely fast. Obviously that can't be a widespread problem affecting everyone or it would have made the news, but it isn't like all million phones with the dodgy battery went up in flames either. Perhaps Samsung put too much pressure on the Chinese battery supplier they got the replacement batteries from, trying get replacement devices out ASAP to repair the PR damage.

This only makes the PR damage worse - now there will be a microscope on the replacement devices and if another few go up in flames I predict two things will happen in the US 1) Samsung will be ordered to do a SECOND full recall 2) the FAA will ban bringing Note 7s onto airplanes, even if powered off (and if someone tries to hide one in violation of such an order, they'd be in for a big fine)

Google had good timing with the Pixel introduction. They may soon have a lot of demand from former Samsung customers!

‘Andromeda’ will be Google’s Windows NT

DougS Silver badge

Re: What's the incentive for vendors to use this?

If Samsung started using them they'd get that scope pretty quickly.

Another possibility would be HERE Maps collaborating with Apple to combine their traffic data. Between the two (especially if Samsung went from Google to HERE) suddenly Google would be the one lacking scope.

DougS Silver badge

Re: What's the incentive for vendors to use this?

Well the risk for Google is that if a couple big vendors decide not to follow Google into Android2 land, and fork Android1 and develop their own layers, then suddenly Google goes from 80% of the market to 40%. That would deal a massive blow to their advertising business as those people would end up using Bing or DuckGoGo for search, and other non-Google services.

I think Google thinks they are so indispensable for those services that no one would dare leave them, but I don't think the average person would even notice if you replaced Google with Bing for their searches. For the type of searches the average person does they are the same. Here Maps is a good alternative to Google's, and so forth. Google isn't indispensable, they just think they are.

DougS Silver badge

What's the incentive for vendors to use this?

If they don't let vendors modify the software at all, then there is no way for OEMs to differentiate their Android2 phones. Physical appearance alone isn't enough, since most phones look pretty similar these days.

If Google tries to lock things down too much, OEMs might not choose to follow.

Twitter to take buyer bids

DougS Silver badge

Re: I'll bid....

So long as you don't have to personally guarantee the debt, who cares? You just pay yourself a big fat salary and keep extending your line of credit until the banks say uncle, then declare bankruptcy.

Worked for Donald Trump.

Good God, we've found a Google thing we like – the Pixel iPhone killer

DougS Silver badge

Re: Awww thats sad

Sorry AC, but you're wrong on that. Perhaps you ought to actually READ Apple's privacy policy and compare it with Google's before making such a stupid statement.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Awww thats sad

Apple doesn't collect your personal data to sell to marketers. Google does. That's ALL Google does - that's literally their entire business! Time you accepted that.

The only thing Apple does with targeted advertising is that it has its own ad network that is an option for developers to use in iPhone apps. Those apps don't get any personally identifying info unless you give it to them. Most use other advertising networks because they are less picky about the ads that allowed and the information they're allowed to use (i.e. the others are more willing to screw you over, so they pay better)

DougS Silver badge

They also copied the price

Android fans constantly complain about several things about the iPhone: 1) lack of SD slot, 2) lack of removable battery, 3) overly large bezel, 4) high price - even the $100 premium to move up to the next storage tier

This phone copied all four of those features exactly from the iPhone, so if Android fans go gaga over it, they've never got any room to complain about Apple again. :)

Stingy sapphire lens in Apple's iPhone 7 is as scratchy as glass

DougS Silver badge

Re: Did they say it was still sapphire?

There were online reviews that said they didn't appear to be using sapphire any longer. But they say they are, but it sounds like someone managed to scratch one (presumably with metal and not a diamond or other sapphire)

DougS Silver badge

Did they say it was still sapphire?

I read several reports they didn't use sapphire on the iPhone 7 any longer, though I can't figure out why they've stopped. Anyone know if it is the same story on the Plus with its two cameras, or maybe that's now a "value add" to further differentiate the two?

Google says it would have a two-word answer for Feds seeking Yahoo!-style email backdoor

DougS Silver badge
Trollface

Re: The feds would have to ask correctly

Well, not the contents, but if they bought AdWords for "ISIS" and "attack on NYC" they would at least know how much they're talking

WikiLeaks claims 'significant' US election info release ... is yet to come

DougS Silver badge

Re: Ah, now Trump makes sense

What would be the point of releasing information that supposedly could swing the election AFTER the election? Assuming it is true, and assuming people care, then it is relevant to people's decision about who to vote for.

At least for that 10 or 15 percent who are amenable to changing their minds. The people who have been supporting Trump for months would still vote for him even if he did shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, and the people who have been supporting Hillary for months would still vote for her even if video surfaced proving she did found ISIS.

The risk is that if someone fabricated false "evidence" against one of the candidates using Wikileaks as a patsy, and it is released so close to the election that it can't be disproven in time to avoid swinging the election.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Ah, now Trump makes sense

The NY law requiring registration of charities is only triggered if you accept donations from the outside. If you donate to your own charity, it isn't needed.

Though the digging done by a dogged Washington Post reporter who contacted 326 charities found only ONE donation, of under $10,000 from Donald Trump since 2008. He hasn't donated to his own foundation since 2008, everything it got has been from the outside (hence the need to register it with the state of New York) But he has used it for personal uses, like buying portraits of himself, signed memorabilia, and at least twice to make donations to other charities to settle debts of his company - something that's quite illegal.

I think Trump refusing to release his return was three reasons:

1) hide the fact he hadn't paid taxes in ages (even after the 18 year period for the $915 million loss expired, he's probably had subsequent losses some years to allow him to continue paying no taxes) This explains why he was getting the property tax break for having taxable income of less than $500K, something he earlier claimed was a mistake (despite it being automated by computer and happening in multiple years) He got that break because his taxable income was ZERO.

2) hide the fact he contributes little or nothing to charity. Since it wouldn't reduce his tax burden, he probably sees it as pointless. Especially when he can lie and claim he donates millions, knowing that no one ever checks - until you run for president!

3) hide the fact that he's not nearly has rich as he claims. Who knows what his net worth is, but it sure isn't $10 billion. If he was worth anything remotely like that much he would be funding his campaign like he said he would, and wouldn't be running scams like charging over 3x the going rate for the Trump Tower office space his company is renting his campaign.

While #1 has been exposed, he doesn't want #2 and #3 exposed as well. Who knows, maybe among the big dump Wikipedia is claiming is coming soon will be Trump's complete tax returns. Surely some hacker has been able to hack his accountant? I'm sure Hillary will have a lot of bad stuff in that dump as well, so it probably wouldn't even matter for the election - but it would matter for a civilian Trump (whether that's in November 2016 or November 2020) who could no longer claim to be the big deal that he claims he is which would irreparably damage his brand.

Google's hardware extravaganza: Ad giant takes on Sonos, Roku, Linksys, Amazon, Oculus... you name it

DougS Silver badge

Re: Pass

I was thinking the same thing. Google kills more products than it keeps, so half the stuff announced today will be gone in two years.

After baffling Falcon 9 rocket explosion, SpaceX screams: Hands off our probe!

DougS Silver badge

If they try to hush up the reason why it blew up, it might matter if it later does carry US payloads. The government gets involved in finding out the cause of plane and train crashes (including cargo ones where no one dies) surely when a rocket blows up that's equally within their purview.

EU turns screws on Android – report

DougS Silver badge

Re: @ratfox

Why would consumers be "locked in" to other search or maps? If Samsung sold phones with Bing Maps and DuckGoGo and prevented you from downloading Google Maps and Bing Search, then you'd have a point, but I'm not sure that's even doable on Android.

The idea is that by other companies getting more use they can improve their products and compete with Google. Otherwise Google becomes the only alternative - and based on your post worrying about being "locked in" to non-Google alternatives, I guess you already believe that. Enjoy your self-enforced monopoly!

DougS Silver badge

@ratfox

Monopoly doesn't mean 100% market share. Google has a dominant position in both mobile OS and mobile search, and are using its mobile OS to further its dominance in mobile search.

The requirement to bundle Google Search seem less meaningful since many people will download it, but if Samsung made a deal with Microsoft to bundle Bing Search, or some OEM that tries to sell a "more private' Android (whatever that means) might bundle DuckGoGo search.

Just like there were a lot of people who used whatever browser their PC came with, there will be a lot of people who will use whatever search their Android phone comes with. If the bundling didn't matter, Google wouldn't be doing this...

Should Computer Misuse Act offences committed in UK be prosecuted in UK?

DougS Silver badge

Why can't governments come to agreement on this?

If the US laws were broken, allow the US law and sentencing to apply but he gets jailed in the UK. Likewise if a US citizen hacks the UK, UK law and sentencing would apply but he gets jailed in the US.

Then there are no concerns about how he's treated in prison or distance from family. If the UK government is concerned about length of sentence, maybe they can help represent him in the trial or plea bargaining negotiations.

Sudden explosion in reports of exploding phones

DougS Silver badge

It is just news coverage of exploding phones that is going up

Normally if someone's phone caught on fire in Australia or Greece it isn't going to make the news for the Reg to hear about it, and if they did they probably wouldn't bother writing about it. But with exploding phones become newsworthy thanks to Samsung, every report is getting a lot more attention. Once the hype dies down there will still be the odd exploding phone (more likely if you keep it in your back pocket, I imagine) but they will again be ignored.

Plus we have to consider the possibility that some of these reports are bogus. Not saying this one is, I don't know enough about it, but I'm sure some people will take advantage of the hype to 1) get attention for themselves 2) try to get a phone replaced that they broke in some other way by burning it up 3) try to get some sort of settlement if they can claim injury. "My butt has second degree burns, but a Macbook would make it all better".

DougS Silver badge

How well they handle what?

Samsung had a defect in the batteries they made that was the direct cause of explosions. So far we have (that I've heard in the past week) two reports of exploding/burning iPhones. One that burned up during delivery, and from the picture of the box was mailed in was OBVIOUSLY caused by something piercing the battery. Now we have a report of someone's phone catching fire in their back pocket - I have to wonder how many times he sat on it if he keeps it there.

If there was a manufacturing defect in the iPhone or its battery that was causing a rash of explosions like Samsung, I'm sure Apple would recall them. If they didn't, the CPSA would force them to in the US, and I'm sure the equivalent EU body as well. But you don't recall phones after one or two reports. Otherwise Samsung would have to recall more than the Note 7, because there have been reports of other Samsung models going up in flames as well.

Consider too how many more iPhones 7s (assuming this latest report even is an iPhone 7) there are out there versus Note 7s, so comparing a couple reports of iPhones going up out of the 20 million or so sold by now, and the hundred or so reports out of the couple million Note 7s shipped. If iPhone 7s were blowing up at the same rate, there would be a thousand reports already.

Super Cali: Be realistic, 'autopilot' is bogus – even though the sound of it is something quite precocious

DougS Silver badge

Re: Hell, yeah!

No difference between an electric and a hybrid that run on batteries alone at lower speeds in that regard - less tire noise and more fuel efficient cars are often sold with low rolling resistance tires which make less noise.

Sure, the engine and wind noise is quite audible at 70 mph, but there usually aren't pedestrians around cars going that fast. It is cars going 20-30 mph that it is helpful to hear - especially for kids who won't always remember to look both ways so having them make enough noise to get their attention is a safety benefit.

Apple to automatically cram macOS Sierra into Macs – 'cos that worked well for Windows 10

DougS Silver badge

This is a much smaller update than going from Windows 7 to Windows 10

It is more like going from Windows 7 to 7 SP1, or Windows 10 to whatever they are calling the Windows 10.1 that came out in August that's still named Windows 10 to confuse people.

People wouldn't have complained so much about it if Microsoft had:

1) given people a way to permanently refuse the install

2) not later decided that closing the dialog box with the 'x' meant ACCEPTING the install

3) not added a bunch of Google like personal information collection

4) not offered strong hints that Windows would eventually become a subscription service, so updating to 10 now might mean having to pay to keep running it down the road

Apple isn't doing any of the things with Sierra that made people hate Windows 10 so much, and there's no hint they will.

Oops: Carphone burps up new Google phone details

DougS Silver badge

Re: Wonderful news @Khaptain

You really think waiters are writing down credit card numbers and selling them to eastern block crooks? Fraud in the US almost exclusively happens now because card numbers are electronically stolen - something equally likely to happen whether the card is taken away for a moment or never leaves your sight.

Ericsson’s patent pool is far from the new start the IoT needs

DougS Silver badge

Licensing your uniqueness to China

Let's say some company figures out a way to have your phone read your brainwaves in a totally secure way so you can just think "unlock" and your phone will unlock, you think 'open Facebook' and it will, you think what you want to text and it does it. It works so well you don't even consciously think those things before long, it becomes second nature like typing or driving.

Obviously this would be a killer feature that would give the company which invented it a massive market advantage. If China implements a law like this that would require them to license this invention to others, one of two things happens. One, if they think it is secure against reverse engineering they could keep it a trade secret. If there's no patent, there's nothing to license. If they do patent it, they could decide it isn't worth creating the additional competition and simply not sell their phones in China. There would be grey market imports by the millions, of course, so the law would serve no purpose other than to make things more expensive for Chinese customers and make it difficult or impossible for them to get post-sale support.

When it comes to more mundane stuff like slide to unlock, there would always be the worry that China might decide "that's an essential feature, you have to license it to others". I guess if that happens you do a cost/benefit analysis of the sales loss in China versus being forced to license it. For slide to unlock I think the decision is easy, but for things between slide to unlock and brainwave reading, it becomes more difficult to decide.

Upstart bags $2.5m to help put the brakes on self-driving car hackers

DougS Silver badge

Re: Sales of "connected and fully autonomous vehicles"?

I'm not thinking about a car being hacked to send out false information, but someone building a device that would pretend it is a car (or more likely a LOT of cars) and do so. That would be difficult to track, sort of like if someone drove down the highway with a cellular jammer - by the time the cops got someone out there with the equipment to locate the jammer he'd be long gone.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Sales of "connected and fully autonomous vehicles"?

When we get to the point of having enough autonomous cars that having them communicate (versus just assuming all cars are driven by half-insane meatbags) is helpful, sure.

But you better think long and hard about how to do it, because if my car can tell the cars behind it "accident ahead, slow down" what stops a miscreant bent on creating havoc from sending out such a message to all cars and making your 20 minute commute take two hours?

DougS Silver badge

Sales of "connected and fully autonomous vehicles"?

I assume sales of either connected OR fully autonomous vehicles was meant, with ALL of the total in 2020 being connected and none fully autonomous. Maybe they'll hit 15% fully autonomous by 2025, we'll see.

What would really help security is getting rid of the stupid and pointless "connected vehicle" concept. WTF should a vehicle be accessible from the outside? Unless it serves a REALLY important purpose, such communication should only be capable of being initiated from/by the vehicle! Being able to unlock or remote start your vehicle with an app might be convenient, but such convenience comes at an enormous price given how poor security is these days. Being able to access diagnostics remotely does nothing for the car owner but make him more insecure. What's wrong with having the vehicle upload diagnostic information (preferably only with the OK of the owner) rather than having that be remotely accessible?

How to steal the mind of an AI: Machine-learning models vulnerable to reverse engineering

DougS Silver badge

Re: But when AIs get too smart...

Well, Microsoft's Tay was an example of a low IQ AI being turned into a racist Nazi. Sort of like how some low IQ humans raised in a racist Nazi environment become racist Nazis.

EU's YouTube filter plan was revised '37 times'

DougS Silver badge
Facepalm

37 iterations in short succession?

I'm sure no industry lobbyists took advantage of that to insert consumer unfriendly loopholes.

Yahoo! couldn't! detect! hackers! in! its! network! but! can! spot! NSFW! smut! in! your! office?

DougS Silver badge

This has been worked on for a LONG time

When I worked at a university in the mid/late 90s, a couple of the professors were working on image processing to determine nude pictures. Then there's the question of what is "NSFW", which might not need to be fully nude. Even wearing clothes that are see thru or too tight or a suggestive pose could be NSFW, while a naked person in the right setting might be OK. It is a judgment call even for humans, an algorithm will never master it.

Dublin shopkeeper catches forecourt fouler with his pants down

DougS Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: CCTV

No, pretty sure in this case he mean movement detection!

DougS Silver badge

Political correctness run amok

I'm not a Trumpian "political correctness is ruining our country" kind of guy, but things are going too far if you can't criticize someone for shitting in the street because they might have mental issues!

When you get down to it, pretty much everyone who commits mass murder obviously has mental issues. I guess we should only say nice things about them, too?

DougS Silver badge

Re: Horse did it?

Eating meat or processed sugars has little to do with how foul shit smells, as anyone who has ever smelled pig shit would know. There's a golf course I play occasionally that borders an organic farm that raises pigs. When the wind is just right, the smell from the pigs wafts over to the course and it is pretty terrible even though the pigs are at least a quarter mile away at the nearest point! Those in the know check the forecast and avoid that course when the wind is from the east!

I suspect the smell difference in horse poop may have more to do with the difference in the horse's stomach and digestive process compared to a human's than their diet. But hey, I've never compared the smell of a human on a vegan and normal diet, so possibly there's something to that.

I just know there's a lot of variation in the smell of my own shit that can't be accounted for by diet. Usually it isn't too bad (though I'm probably used to it) but occasionally it smells like I ate something half rotted that died again and rotted the rest of the way in my digestive system. Even if I haven't had any meat or cheese in the past few days. No idea what triggers that occasional very foul smell, maybe I'm just sick in some way but don't know it, I'm just glad for bathroom fans on such occasions!

Want to make US$1.5m this weekend? Just jailbreak iOS

DougS Silver badge

It means either iOS is tougher to break into, or an iOS crack is more valuable on the market (which may mean the same thing, or may mean the value that can be reaped from its customers is higher)

Zerodium is an exploit broker, not sure if they sell to criminals, but if they don't they certainly would sell to security companies and governments which is almost as bad!

Termination fees for terminated people now against the law

DougS Silver badge

How do you enforce a termination penalty against a dead person?

If they have automatic deductions from their bank account, then the heirs have to fight it out with the company if the ETF is already taken. But if they send a bill, they can't make the heirs pay. They could file a lien against the estate of the deceased, but most of the time they are unlikely to find out the deceased is actually deceased in time. By the time they quit sending notices and hand it over to a collection agency, the estate has probably passed probate.

Guess this is yet another reason not to use debit cards or auto deductions from bank accounts to pay your bills.

DougS Silver badge

Two types of contracts

One where something of value was received, and the contract is essentially a mortgage. Examples would be a mortgage (duh) and buying a car over time. You can't cancel the contract and keep the house or car unless you pay the remaining amount that is owed.

There are other contracts where there is no reason to hold them to the contract, like say if you sign up for cable and they require you to have it for a year to avoid people signing up during football season say and canceling over the summer when there isn't much on they want to watch. Or an apartment lease, where they want a year term because it is a hassle to find new tenants. If the cable boxes or keys to the apartment are returned, there is no reason they should be able to hold the heirs to fulfill the contract.

Then there are some in-between things, like a no money down auto lease. You can return the car, but if the car was only leased for two months, it is worth a lot less (being a 'used' car) than the two months worth of lease payments would make up. It might be justifiable for the leasing company to require some sort of payment for early termination of the lease.

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