* Posts by doublelayer

1739 posts • joined 22 Feb 2018

Twitter, Reddit and pals super unhappy US visa hopefuls have to declare their online handles to Uncle Sam

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: Question (not a Merkin)

Short summary:

U.S. Citizens: Covered.

Noncitizens inside the U.S.: Covered. The Fourteenth amendment extends the rights to all "persons", which has been interpreted to mean everybody, including illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants can say everything they like as they're deported.

U.S. Citizens outside the U.S.: They are covered by those protections as far as the U.S. is concerned, but they have to follow the laws of whatever country they're in. For example, if the U.S. decides to search their stuff, they still need a warrant.

Noncitizens outside the U.S.: Basically, the U.S. doesn't give them any rights whatsoever. This applies to visa applicants and basically everybody. Whatever they want to do to you, they feel they have a right to do to you.

Note: Certain areas in control of the U.S. are not considered parts of the U.S., including Guantanamo Naval Base, Diego Garcia shared base, and other bases operated in whole or in part by the American government located outside the boundaries of the U.S. If you end up on one of those, you have no rights and they'll probably show you exactly how fun that can be.

Nokia's reboot of the 5310 is a blissfully dumb phone that will lug some mp3s about just fine

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Re: Wireless FM radio

I believe their statement there means that you do not have to plug in a wire to serve as an antenna. Most phones with FM radio capability do not have an antenna built in and use the wire connected to the 3.5MM jack to serve as the reception antenna; without it, you either get an error message or just get static. That said, I couldn't find a manual for this device and I'm certainly not buying one, so I cannot confirm my supposition.

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: Would this be a good 'phone to have ...

I looked up information by country, and it seems that it's already been shut down in Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Canada. Taiwan, New Zealand, the United States, and Switzerland will be following suit soon, some of their providers already having dropped coverage while some others maintain it. The remaining areas where 2G will remain for some time are Europe, Africa, and South America, though details are not clear. Keep that in mind before buying something.

So you really didn't touch the settings at all, huh? Well, this print-out from my secret backup says otherwise

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Re: Ah, customers.

I'm not exactly sure who you replied to, but if it's the person immediately above you, I seriously hope their attitude is used during the development of flight control systems. If you respond to malformed data by throwing an error and skipping it, then you can handle the loss or damage of some of your equipment. You know it failed, you know it's not available, so you fall back to something else or alert the pilot. If you handle it in some way, you don't know what it necessarily means. This is similar but not identical to what took down the 737-max--their data was wrong, the computer didn't control for it, and it crashed the aircraft. It wasn't a format error as much as an unreliable piece of tech, but by failing to identify when it was going wrong and take appropriate action, including crashing the autopilot and making the pilots control manually, they smashed up two airplanes, a few hundred people, and their company. You cannot be liberal* with possibly damaged data if it means people die.

*Liberal: In the sense of accepting it. Liberal reading with frequent rejection is fine.

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: Ah, customers.

A lot of standards are very strict about that. You get sections like "This value must be 0 or 1. If any other value is sent, the process must fail." or "Attempts to pass data that does not follow the above format must be rejected with the following error code".

What's more, this is often a good thing. It prevents certain types of malformed data from being processed in such a way as to create unpredictable results or security problems. If it says ten bytes, and they give you twelve, that could be a buffer overflow if you don't check, meaning a security problem and a likely cause of really broken code. Even a thing that's less obvious can be problematic. If I support 0, 1, or 2 while the spec only supports 0 or 1, then if they change the spec to have a 2 but it's not the same as my 2, I've got a broken nightmare, my users are using it, the standard's been violated, and one or likely all three of us has a problem on our hands.

Trump issues toothless exec order to show donors, fans he's doing something about those Twitter twerps

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Re: @El Reg, teach your authors some basic journalism

Do you really fail to see the link between the death count and the tweets concerned? The proposal and fight over mail-in ballots is a result of a risky situation. The death count helps to indicate why the situation is risky. Without the high death count, there would not be a situation leading to the call for mailing ballots. Without that call, there wouldn't be this argument among political figures about the legitimacy of doing that. Without that argument, the tweets that are the subject of the article would not exist.

You're not getting Huawei that easily: Canadian judge rules CFO's extradition proceedings to US can continue

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Re: @WolfFan - China really shouldn’t have

I am not saying they have. If they decide they want to increase the pressure, it's well within their abilities to start the charge process, with real information gathered from these people or with completely invented evidence. I have little doubt that they would do so; China has not proven itself capable of justice under its current government. My earlier point was that, even if they had some type of valid charge, the trial wouldn't be valid because they aren't being tried for those crimes, but held for use as political game pieces.

This can be used in two ways. First, it pretty much invalidates any complaint China may have about Canadian operations, as Canada has adhered to the rule of law while China has thrown it out the window. Second, it can be used as a comparison to allege that statements of a similar nature by the American president mean that a fair trial there will likewise not be forthcoming. In my opinion, I think a trial there would likely be fair, but there may be attempts at interference after it completes. Still, if the American government wanted the trial to be clear of qualms about its integrity, the president shouldn't have made those statements. He did, nobody stopped him, and now they're going to have to lie in that bed they made.

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: @WolfFan - China really shouldn’t have

The original accusation by American authorities was that she made fraudulent claims to American banking officials about not doing something that would be illegal in the U.S. She and her company are allowed to do those things, but American investors are not allowed to invest in them if they do. She supposedly told them that those things were not happening so they could invest while continuing to do them, which would be fraud. The same would be true if she lied about what the company was doing or could do in some other way, for example if she told investors that Huawei had chip-manufacturing capacity they didn't have--Iran is only relevant because of a law impacting the investors which caused them to ask for details.

Later, the president decided that she could be used as a bargaining chip, which is very very wrong. That needs not to happen, and just saying that makes it very concerning. It may in fact lead to the dismissal of the extradition because her lawyers in Canada can claim the statement means that a fair trial cannot occur; they have already started that particular argument. However, it does not prevent the original charges from still being valid charges if proven. Similarly, there may be valid charges against the two Canadians, but China has proven that they too intend to use these people as bargaining chips, which makes the issue of a fair trial relevant.

cmd.exe is dead, long live PowerShell: Microsoft leads aged command-line interpreter out into 'maintenance mode'

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Re: Never used PSH... question

Not at all is the better answer. While the commands have aliases, the parameters very much do not.

Consider this command that I've used with some frequency. If I know a file is somewhere in a crowded directory and part of the filename, but I can't find it, I can do this to give me the full path:

dir /s /b | findstr [name]

Not a clear command. Neither /s nor /b are clear; you just have to memorize them. What happens in PowerShell? Neither parameter is recognized, and they're treated as paths. There are certainly replacement parameters. However, I would need to look them up. Instead, I'll just move over to git bash and use the real ls and grep to do it properly--the dir way is faster only because I have memorized it.

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: Microsoft only have themselves to blame

"The verbosity, though, means you can actually usually take a correct guess at the command you're after, and its parameters, without having to Google what you're attempting to achieve."

I'm glad that works for you. It doesn't work for me. I usually have no clue what a command is called, and I am often very baffled about how I'm supposed to extract parts of the results. I have to wonder if part of the reason you know these things is not that it's so clear and standard, but that you've used it enough that most things you want to do frequently you've already seen--while you may not have memorized them, you can take guesses based on having seen them before.

The problem with PowerShell is that it's intended both as a CLI system and a programming language. Not a scripting language, but a programming one. Meaning lots of things like exceptions and type confusion which can be harmful. Consider how a user interacting with it as a CLI sees certain elements. An easy example is error messages. Let's compare some error messages printed by unix tools and PowerShell commands:

Listing a nonexistent directory:

[email protected]:~$ ls /doesnotexist

ls: /doesnotexist: No such file or directory

PS C:\>ls c:\doesnotexist

ls : cannot find path 'C:\doesnotexist' because it does not exist.

At line:1 char:1

+ ls c:\doesnotexist


+ CategoryInfo : ObjectNotFound: (C:\doesnotexist:String) [Get-ChildItem], ItemNotFoundException

+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : PathNotFound,Microsoft.PowerShell.Commands.GetChildItemCommand

Copy a file onto itself:

[email protected]:~$ cp file1 file1

cp: file1 and file1 are identical (not copied).

PS C:\>copy file1 file1

Copy : Cannot overwrite the item C:\file1 with itself.

At line:1 char:1

+ copy file1 file1


+ CategoryInfo: WriteError: (C:\file1:String) [Copy-Item], IOException

+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : CopyError,Microsoft.PowerShell.Commands.CopyItemCommand

Yes, the information is there. The error messages are possibly a little better, in fact. But the rest of the data is useless and it gums up the output stream. It's all there because people are expected to run these commands in scripts and catch these things. Well, let's say I'm writing a script to copy things and I want to catch the copy-onto-itself bug for some reason. What do I catch? Look at that error printout from earlier. Is it WriteError? IOException? CopyError? Which of these can I even catch? What else might cause that but not be this particular error? Is there a CopyFileOntoItselfException?

None of that is obvious. An easy method to find out is to go online. What if I don't want to? Well, on a unixy OS, I can do "man cp" for a full log or just run cp with no arguments to get a summary. What about PowerShell? Maybe just "copy" will do the trick:

PS C:\>copy

cmdlet Copy-Item at command pipeline position 1

Supply values for the following parameters:

Nope, that's not it. Might they have made a man command for me? Yes, they have. While we're on the subject, I'm noting here that the only way I can find commands is by entering their unix versions and seeing if someone at PowerShell HQ has linked them to me. While get-help is not that hard to guess, I could see several other options such as get-documentation, describe-command, show-manual, and various other things.

Let's try "man copy". It pulls up a typical man page, except the basic one doesn't really say anything. It talks quite a bit about the command being able to copy and rename a file in one command because well, duh, but it spends only a couple terse lines talking about parameters and doesn't mention errors or exceptions. There are two other views, detailed and full, and maybe one of those contains that information. Detailed doesn't. Full doesn't. Finding out that neither does takes reading long man pages with very long examples sections.

So if I want to use it as a method of launching things, I end up having to see plenty of pointless details that only matter if I'm writing programs. If I'm writing programs, I have to hunt the internet for information about what a command can do. They should start with a good CLI and build the scripting onto that, but they didn't. It shows.

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: Strings

No, I think there are two faults: one with the programmer and one with the vendor.

The vendor's comes first: they need to make a better method of figuring out what version of things is being run. They have lots of methods, but as pointed out they don't have a specific format.

But there's also the programmer. It's pretty clear that trying to extract version information or really anything from a copyright string is bound for failure. It's not meant to include all that information. The internal string that gets rendered could be any of these:

"Microsoft Windows Version 10.0.15926536, copyright 2001-2020 Microsoft Corp"

"Microsoft Windows Version 10.0.15926536, copyright 2001-{$current_year} Microsoft Corp"

"Microsoft Windows Version 10.0.{$patch_version}, copyright 2001-2020 Microsoft Corp"

"Microsoft Windows Version {$major_version}.{$minor_version}.{$patch_version}, copyright 2001-2020 Microsoft Corp"

"Microsoft Windows Version {$version_number_string}, copyright 2001-2020 Microsoft Corp"

Or even "{$product_name} Version {$product_version_string}, copyright {$copyright_start_year}-{$current_year} {$product_vendor}"

And that's just a few of many possibilities. Relying on that isn't a good idea. It's bound to break, and I'm surprised MS did anything at all on hearing it. I'm actually surprised they did hear about it--if I had written a script and it broke, I wouldn't anticipate any assistance from them and I would have found some other method to get around it.

Raspberry Pi Foundation serves up an 8GB slice of mini-computing goodness

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Re: What happened to the Pi Zero W?

They're quite popular, and there never seem to be enough manufacturing runs. They've been one per order basically everywhere since release. I guess the manufacturing capacity has been focused on the 4 instead and supply for the others has suffered. I'd check smallish resellers as they probably ordered in bulk and may have a few in stock. Amazon and similar general selling sites will never sell such a thing at list price.

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Re: Further back than that....

I think this is probably near the high end of prices the foundation will want to target, because if they go higher, they'll start being similar to other computing devices. Still, the small computing devices you can buy for £74 or thereabouts are going to have nothing on an 8GB Pi 4. Most that I have found at slightly higher pricepoints are Intel Atom-based things with a whole 2GB (4GB if you find the one place selling them on clearance). Meanwhile, it's still lower than the price for a low-end laptop unless you're entering the used market. If your use case can benefit from the extra memory, this probably offers it at one of the best prices out there. If it can't, the 4GB version is available for significantly less.

doublelayer Silver badge

I don't know how we would find that out, but completely anecdotal evidence from my experience is that rarely happens. I have 16 GB in my laptop, but it's an Intel processor at 2.9 GHz (from a while ago). Other machines I've set up tend to have faster processors if they are paired with that much memory.

You are correct that it is certainly possible. The question is how many people can really use it, because if the Pi foundation thinks it's not that many, they have little reason to make one. They're probably not making much more profit on high-memory versions, and even a small manufacturing run means risk if they can't sell them.

doublelayer Silver badge

Doesn't really surprise me. At some point, lots of memory isn't so useful unless paired with enough processing, and they can't do much more of that without running into major thermal or power problems. I'd imagine that many memory-intensive tasks one might want to do on a pi-style machine will become processor-limited rather than memory-limited. In my case, most memory-intensive things I do involve either running VMs or manipulating large databases, both of which also require a lot of processing.

Clearview AI sued by ACLU for scraping billions of selfies from social media to power its facial-recog-for-cops system

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“Clearview AI is a search engine that uses only publicly available images accessible on the internet. It is absurd that the ACLU wants to censor which search engines people can use to access public information on the internet. The First Amendment forbids this.” (Tor Ekeland)

Hey. You seem to be missing several important details about reality. Let me inform you about them.

Search engines don't have full access to everything, nor do they have the rights to any piece of information they find. That falls under other laws, not the first amendment. The first amendment does not allow you to store information you don't have a right to. The first amendment does not allow you to mine biometric information. The first amendment means you can say things and print things, nothing more. Did you sleep through constitutional law class?

Paying Arizona: Google sued by state for location data revenues after tracking state's citizens via mobiles

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Let's hope this continues to spread and more cases are filed against them. This has gone on too long. Let's also hope that the judgement runs along the lines of $10 per person per day of owning an Android device from which Google scraped data. Of course it won't happen, but hope is fun sometimes.

Embrace and kill? AppGet dev claims Microsoft reeled him in with talk of help and a job – then released remarkably similar package manager

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Re: All big guys have similar attitudes

That's bad, but it's often hard to combat. Unless a patent or copyright was violated, nothing blocks someone from looking at what you did and trying to copy it. We probably wouldn't want that anyway because the big companies would be able to accuse anything that is at all similar to something they did of having seen their thing, which they're already distressingly happy to do.

This situation strikes me as similar to recent complaints by developers of open source software that cloud providers have been running their software and making money from doing so without paying them. The issue is clear and it's undesirable, but it's also unsurprising because the license terms of much of that software state quite clearly that people are allowed to do this. If I had looked at AppGet's operation and created a competitor on my own, I would not have violated anything and the author probably wouldn't be very upset with me. If MS had done the same without talking to him, he would have been more annoyed but couldn't prove much. The issue seems like a recruitment and PR fiasco given their talks with him, but it doesn't change the justification of any other actions.

Rich Communication Services: Nobody uses it, nobody wants it, but analysts reckon it's on the verge of a breakthrough

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Re: Nope

Um...not really. The centralized model argument is the only good one you've made. The security of the protocol itself has been verified repeatedly, and the data available to a potentially malicious Signal server is known. We have access to the code and we can take chunks of it, including their protocol, if it suits us.

The centralization argument is a good one--we shouldn't rely on Signal's servers because they could be compromised or removed. That's a valid concern. However, the comparison here has been between Signal and RCS. RCS is also centralized. Now I can hear the arguments already--Signal runs the only servers, whereas RCS is run by multiple mobile companies. The problem being that you need your mobile company's servers to send or receive RCS messages, and you also need your recipient's provider's servers to be operational. That's two single points of failure or interference. In addition, it restricts you to using one communication mechanism to send RCS messages--no sending one over WiFi unless your mobile provider supports it, and even if they do, it takes exactly the same path after leaving your local network. Neither are decentralized.

A decentralized communication system with end-to-end encryption would be nice. The one I've used before is encrypted email, which does offer that but has some usability problems. We can use a few other options or design a new one. RCS is not it.

In addition, RCS places a lot more requirements on hardware and mobile provider support. If I have any network connection, I can send an email with encrypted contents. If I have any verifiable mobile connection at setup time and any connection later, I can send a Signal message. If I have any mobile connection on any provider worldwide, I can send an insecure SMS message. If I have a specific set of phones running on one of two providers in the U.S., I can send an RCS message. That means that, if I go to a different country and get a local number, I can still send email, SMS, and Signal, but RCS is not an option no matter what I like--I just have to wait for someone there to implement it and hope they do so with the encryption enabled, because I can neither verify what their code looks like nor bypass them.

doublelayer Silver badge

Oh, is that so. So what I'm hearing is they added end-to-end encryption. In a build that isn't the suggested one. On two carriers in America. Who have partnered with Google to get it. Twelve years after the initial protocol was started.

Given that we've had completely functional, auditable, few-restrictions end-to-end encryption on Signal for six years and completely functional, auditable, no-restrictions, decentralized end-to-end encryption on email for at least twenty, you'll forgive me if I find the introduction of the feature in a limited beta version of a protocol that's only available for a third of one country's mobile market on specific hardware only unimpressive.

doublelayer Silver badge

Except RCS offers basically none of those benefits. Encryption: no. Centralization: yes. It's a little decentralized because you can go through your mobile company and skip others if your recipient is also on that provider, but it's still using a relatively small set of centralized servers, and given the number of times people have demonstrated successful attacks on those servers, it's likely not private.

You want decentralized, encrypted, text communication with support for rich content, images, etc? Good news. We have that. It's called email with PGP. You can use WiFi or cellular to do that. RCS is no more secure than SMS and likely less useful or secure than most centralized chat apps.

Twitter ticks off Trump with new 'Get the facts' alert on pair of fact-challenged tweets

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Re: I would pay full ticket price...

The weird versions are trying to explain what it means. Many don't seem to realize the "Congress shall make no law" part; they think that there should be no limits whatsoever. For example, all the people who get very annoyed when someone tells them to leave a private place where they have been lecturing without permission. The explanations are attempting to state this in clearer language because those people either never read the text or don't understand what it means.

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: I would pay full ticket price...

You have to summarize the points and include a clarification that many people seem not to realize. My suggestion is this:

The first amendment means the government can't make what you say illegal, but other places can decide what you can say on their platform.

That's for the 140 character limit. If I'm allowed to go to 280, I'd include the following clearer version:

The first amendment stops the government from denying you the freedom to say or write things, but the government can still restrict your actions while you say those things and private organizations can decide what you are allowed to say when you're on their platform.

It doesn't cover the other rights granted by the amendment, but it at least gets the point of "freedom of speech" through.

China to test digital version of its currency at 2022 Winter Olympics

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Re: Why the uproar ?

What's different here? Well, let's check out a few things. If I'm in an oppressive country and I want to do something about it, money is quite handy. Here's what can happen now:

My friend: I'd like to start printing a lot of information that I have found and distributing that.

Me: Sounds good.

Friend: But I'm afraid that they'll figure me out when they realize my bank account has been drained right when the publications start.

Me: I'll chip in, and I have other friends who are also interested. We'll all help.

Friend: Thank you.

Me: Hands cash to friend.

Other friends: Hand cash to friend.

Friend: Goes to office supply store, buys paper and ink cartridges with cash.

Government of oppressive country: Doesn't know who bought those supplies.

With digital-only transactions, they would know. And they'd know who sent cash to my friend in the first place, meaning that we couldn't support the attempt financially without also being on the radar.

So yes, it's worse because it's China, a dictatorship. It wouldn't be good here either. We don't have to worry about our governments imprisoning us for buying paper and printing a lot, but we do have reasonable concerns about who has access to information. Information about where you spend money gives a potential criminal plenty to use to steal your money or identity, track you physically, and the like. At the moment, if you are concerned about this, perhaps because you have already become a victim of identity theft, you can stop using credit cards for much and switch to cash. With digital-only currency, you don't have that option and you will rely on the integrity of that system. In addition, if that system works like cash, there's a possibility that people will be stealing it with stolen access credentials without recourse, as it has been done previously with cryptocurrencies and stolen keys. With physical cash, criminals can only steal the amount they find--if my wallet is stolen, the criminals don't get any cash I store elsewhere.

Frontier: Yes, yes, we've filed for bankruptcy protection, but that's not stopping us giving key staff $38m in bonuses

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Re: Verizon sold wire line knowing this outcome

"This article should really blame Verizon and the like for abandoning the services where they cannot make large profit."

Really? So it goes like this:

Verizon: We have some businesses that won't make a bunch of money. We want a bunch of money. Also, we probably shouldn't just turn them off because that will disconnect all our customers. Any ideas?

Employee: Sell it. Someone will want it. They'll pay us money for it, and the customers get service from that place.

Verizon: Will anyone want it?

Employee: Sure. You could make money. Someone will want to try.

Verizon: Anyone want this infrastructure?

Frontier: Yes please.

How is that blameworthy for Verizon? They didn't want something, and they found someone who did want it. While they didn't think it would be profitable, it wasn't inherently harmful--just not worth very much. If Frontier bought Verizon's infrastructure then decided to take sheers to all the cables, would that be Verizon's fault too?

Linus Torvalds drops Intel and adopts 32-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper on personal PC

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Re: AMD Dreams

But that's not an intrinsic limit either of the instruction set or of memory. Should we need to remove that limitation, it can be done. It would require some OS code changes, but they get updated all the time so we can manage that. Current processors can't connect to that much memory anyway so any limitations would be removed by the time they can. The next limit would be 16 exabytes, which would be much harder to work around, but I figure that one is a long time off.

Contact-tracing app may become a permanent fixture in major Chinese city

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Re: @Wade Burchette - Define freedom!

So Jefferson was a hypocrite about slavery, being happy to make others do it while not wanting to do it himself. What else is new? I think the inherent injustice and hypocrisy of basically all of history has been realized before. The question that now concerns us is the present, and whether we like the person who said it, the point still may have validity to the present. Similarly, we should keep in mind the failings of people in the past so we don't repeat them. In this situation, for example, we would be keeping in mind that freedom for some didn't mean freedom for all, so we should be very careful to ensure that everyone gets the benefits we create or maintain now.

Home working is here to stay, says Lenovo boss, and will grow the total addressable PC market by up to 30%

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Re: NUCs & Similar

Monitors, definitely. Minidesktops, I doubt it. I think laptops connected to monitors is the way they will go and probably the right one too. The reasons are many.

First, a laptop is likely more useful for the user. Work is most effective at a specific place with full-sized peripherals, but a laptop allows that person to move to a different place if they need to. If their previous office is unavailable or noisy, they can relocate to a different part of their house (assuming they have one available). This also makes it easy for them to bring their machine elsewhere for those occasional in-person events or meetings. Not to mention the benefits of the built-in UPS.

It also benefits the employer. By providing a laptop, they can push several potential costs back onto their employee. They don't have to buy the monitor if they're feeling miserly, nor do they have to spend IT support time on getting peripherals to connect. Laptops are more likely to use a generic power adapter which can be sourced quickly if damaged, which could be useful if the WFH trend leads to WFH from further distances.

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Re: I have to say I'm with Lenovo on this

I don't think that's necessarily the case. Not allowing WFH when it is feasible is certainly annoying, but forcing it can be equally if not more so. And there are times when it isn't a good idea, such as when frequent collaboration is required, where physical proximity helps quite a bit. I would actually not be surprised to hear that the least human of bosses try to push WFH when they realize that it doesn't really lead to the decrease in productivity they previously predicted. It allows them to push the costs they had to pay back on the workers, primarily real estate. When they get to pocket some of that cost saving, lots will consider it.

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Re: All this talk....

I think you just pointed out that many offices have people who produce useful things. Lots of work is done without manually building things and yet is useful. Design, programming, architecture, research, writing, and many other things can be done from a typical office environment. If you're just considering the location, much of small-scale engineering counts too--initial prototype creation and small-scale repair often occurs in offices that have big tables with equipment on, but they're still basically offices. Sure, lots of people there will be doing nothing, but you can find a way to be unproductive anywhere you go.

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Home working leads to more laptops

They seem quite confident about home working leading to increased sales of machines. Ignoring for the moment how home working will catch on, I'm not certain about the other chunk of that. Sure, some companies will have to change out computers for home workers, because they did desktops and would have to switch to laptops. But if a worker already has a laptop from their employer, they don't need to replace it. Also, I'm guessing most businesses that will be switching to home work have already done so, meaning the first round of obligatory laptop purchases probably started two months ago and is ongoing. That implies that this quarter's sales may be somewhat high, but that it probably won't be a longterm trend because a lot of other companies won't be buying new machines or replacements until the ones they're using more actively are much older.

Maybe Lenovo was hoping for more personal purchases because children have been doing online schooling while their parents use existing machines, but those purchases have also likely been made and online schooling is not going to continue as long as home working. I think their optimism may be premature and they'd better make quite a bit of progress in this quarter if they hope to hit that growth target.

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Re: Market +30% = wages -30%

All of that is going to have to balance itself against the profound distrust our employers have for us. I think the main reason that hasn't become much of a thing so far is that a lot of employers are afraid we won't be as productive or as conscientious when not in their office. Let's see whether this period at home is enough to kill that idea or if they are eager to get us back there. Either way, it will be a disappointing option for several. I would prefer the office, but I also prefer that people have the choice if feasible.

Das reboot: That's the only thing to do when the screenshot, er, freezes

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Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

I think I know why companies stopped writing manuals. At some point, they must have realized that, with their manuals online, I could download them before a purchase to do research on what their product could do and how complicated the process was. No, they want me to figure out those things only after the purchase, which led to the new idea of refusing to publish the manuals and only including a paper copy with their product. But then, people started scanning those and uploading them, so what more could they do? They just had to stop making the manuals. I'll still figure out how the feature works, won't I? Surely I'll keep buying things without any idea what they do or how.

doublelayer Silver badge

Escape is sadly rarely an option.

ESC, however, is surprisingly often an effective option. I think that's why it's over in the corner of the keyboard, to make it easier to press by someone looking over the user's shoulder.

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Re: ID10T error

Helping the user understand what went wrong and how to have it not go wrong next time is very useful. However, even if the tech was busy and just wanted to do a quick solution, let me show you how the workaround would have gone.

Tech: "Right. Now instead of using this email, I want to try loading the program the normal way."

User: "But I'm supposed to use the new version. It's coming out now."

Tech: "Let's just try it."

User: Opens old program.

Old program: Works.

User: "This one works, but it's the old version. I'm supposed to use the new one."

Tech: "No, use that one. The other one isn't ready yet."

User: "The email says it's ready. They sent it to me because it's ready."

Tech: "No, they want you to use this one. They're just showing you what it will be like."

User: "I don't think that's right. You don't write this program; you're tech support. Trust me on this one. I use this program all the time."

Tech: "Trust me. The program you can open normally is the right one."

User: "Maybe you should discuss that with my boss, but he's not here. I'll get his boss."

Tech: "No, I don't need to talk to"

Tech: "Wait. Come back. No, really, it's just a minor"

Door: Closes behind user.

Minutes: Pass slowly.

Customers in line: Look angrily at tech.

Door: Opens. User comes back.

User: "This is the manager of my boss. She will tell you about the program update."

Manager: "What's the problem?"

Tech: "There will be a program update but the user thinks it was released now. They're trying to run a screenshot."

Conversation: Forks here. If manager is clueless you can end up in a loop. We will proceed on the fork where the manager knows what a screenshot is.

Manager: "I see. Can I see the message, please?"

User: Shows message to manager.

Manager: "Ah. You see here where the update is said to be coming out soon, but not yet?"

User: Yes.

Manager: "And this attachment is a picture ..."

Manager: Continues to explain situation to user.

Manager: Now annoyed at tech for not doing this themselves.

Isn't it a lot easier just to solve the situation well with a useful explanation that will probably prevent it in the future as well? Workarounds only work if the user understands why they're doing the workaround. They can cut out several contingent explanations, but if you provide no reason for your alternate suggestion, people will think you're just winging it and you don't really know what you're doing.

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: Yes, Daily, or even hourly!

In all fairness, they did read that screen and they did what it said. Apple didn't say anything about why the app didn't work and told them to go talk to you. They did that. There's little the user could do at that stage; either you would have to update your app, Apple would have to reverse their 64-bit only decision, or they would have to downgrade their OS. The latter option isn't really an option because that's a lot to ask, plus the error message didn't tell them to do so.

To test its security mid-pandemic, GitLab tried phishing its own work-from-home staff. 1 in 5 fell for it

doublelayer Silver badge

Very much this. It's really important for us and basically everyone else to realize that, while a lot of phishing emails that have come in and will continue to come in are terrible and obvious, there can and will be more sophisticated ones. It takes longer to get the logos into the right place, make the login page work the same, get text checked for spelling, grammar, and naturalness, and do the work behind other links in the message that a user might check for authentication, but that work can be done. I've seen several not bad attempts. None of us is immune to a message crafted well enough.

doublelayer Silver badge

The problems are email and people. Email can be modified to do some things. No impersonation is a good start. Wouldn't help in this case--they didn't impersonate, they used a valid misleading domain. Showing link contents before going somewhere would be nice. Probably wouldn't help in this case. Subsetting HTML so it's harder to do visual tricks would probably annoy a lot of people, but some of those people are the people who send multimegabyte messages overloaded with logos, so I'm fine with it. Probably wouldn't help in most cases because if everyone can't do it, and scammers can't do it, then they still look the same.

In the end, someone has to decide whether to click the link or not. The email system can try to point out potential problems, but automatic means can't block everything malicious. While email needs some updates, it can't and won't fix stupid user syndrome.

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: Not bad? Users? Policy?

I disagree--HR is HR, and whether it's tech or something else, they're going to have knowledge of HR matters and probably not much else; HR doesn't really need to know anything about the product as long as they can understand when people are doing something wrong. What I don't know is who these people were who received the messages. If only fifty went out, it could be basically any subset, as wikipedia estimates they have about 1200 employees.

If it's fifty people in HR, sales, and finance, it's regrettable but not that surprising to me. If it's fifty developers, we have a major problem.

Mind your language: Microsoft set to swing the axe on 27 languages in iOS Outlook

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Re: Words will be said

Well, 2% of India's massive phone market can be quite a few devices. Not quite 55 million, but still a large chunk. Several countries whose languages are supported aren't that big. I don't see Danish (population of Denmark 5.81 million), Czech (population of Czechia 10.7 million), or Greek (population of Greece plus population of Cyprus 12.04 million) being removed from the supported lists, even though by most potential arguments those make more sense. Not all of those people use Outlook on IOS either, and in all four of those countries, a large section of the population is likely to speak another language, primarily German or English, which would remain supported.

Speakers of the removed languages may also speak English, Hindi, Spanish, or Russian but not necessarily. Certain other languages, such as Tagalog, are not associated with multilingualism with a supported language; while English and Spanish are spoken in the Philippines, the lingua franca in many areas is Tagalog, with people being bilingual in that and their native tongue.

doublelayer Silver badge

I doubt that. If they did the translations for Windows usage, they would have all the data needed to keep up translations for IOS too. It doesn't take much effort. If they're dropping it here, they're likely dropping it everywhere where Outlook is run. Even if they split up the decision, I can't see them leaving IOS untranslated but all other platforms functional.

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: Apple is going to write off all ...

It sounds like the interface will no longer be translated into those languages, but you can still type in them. Similar to how I can type any language I want even while my mail client continues to use its previous localization. While I can well sort of, no actually it doesn't make sense. I was going to give them some leeway on a few languages that aren't spoken by very many people who almost all speak another language anyway, but they've got some very large languages on that list. They were able to afford that before, they can continue to.

For the price tag, this iPad Pro keyboard better damn well be Magic: It isn't... but it's not completely useless either

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Re: Because ... it’ll just work : Nope

I don't think that was agreement. What I heard there was that yes, Apple devices last quite a while, but so do other machines, so there's not much difference, so the higher prices aren't justified on that alone. The point of disagreement is that you claim that Apple devices will likely last longer, whereas the reply claims they will both last quite a long time, and probably a similarly long time.

Not that I necessarily agree, as there are many Apple devices that seem to get support for longer over some of the most well-known competitors, but I too have seen very functional devices from all sorts of manufacturers that continue to function for long after they were purchased. If hardware is treated well, including good management or at least replacement of its software from time to time, they usually keep working for longer than the average user expects. I do give Apple some credit for some of their devices, the easiest example being IOS devices getting several OS updates whereas Android is just getting to having some likelihood of security updates, but in other cases Apple has proven themselves to not be so interested in device longevity, including their battery fiasco and making everything less repairable as the years go on.

AT&T tracked its own sales bods using GPS, secretly charged them $135 a month to do so, lawsuit claims

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: Telekom

Their salespeople are often happy to talk to you if you're a possible customer, but the conversation often goes like this:

Me: I'm considering your internet service for my house.

Them: Great.

Me: Can I get a static IP?

Them: We don't normally include that unless you want a business plan. I can transfer you to that team if you like.

Me: I've already got an IPV6 block. Can you route that traffic to me?

Them: What?

Me: Never mind. Do you have any statistics about latency?

Them: No.

Me: I'm not asking for a guarantee or SLA. I'm just looking for a basic estimate.

Them: Sorry. I don't know what that means and I don't think we have that.

Me: Can I bring my own network equipment?

Them: Sure. Just plug anything into the router.

Me: I already have my own router. Do I need to go through yours?

Them: Er ... not sure.

Me: Well, I would like to sign up now. [Previous research has shown me that few of these questions are answered online either]

Them: Great. Would you also like home phone service? It's not much more per month...

This applies to any provider. After a couple of these, you just give up on asking others.

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: Telekom

I've definitely found that with corporate versus personal sales. At a very basic level, the amount of information and control about the product or service is significantly higher when it's a company buying it. With corporate internet service, I get information about the type of line, the expected bandwidth, the expected latency, firewall rules and how I can turn them all off, IP addresses and what I need to do to get statics, full manual for the supplied or suggested modem if I use it, freedom not to use their equipment. With the exact same company, home service looks like "Up to 100 MB/s" [I'm not sure if "MB" as opposed to "Mb" 's a typo or a deliberate lie). I've had a home ISP who had unremovable firewall rules on outbound traffic, and they were one of the best. I think it happens with nearly every other product as well. Oligopoly power is fun, isn't it?

Hey Siri, are you still recording people's conversations despite promising not to do so nine months ago?

doublelayer Silver badge

That wouldn't surprise me. Unfortunately, it's not just Apple doing this. Amazon and Google were both caught keeping databases of this stuff and they're almost certainly still doing it. Microsoft probably doesn't have a database because who uses Cortana, but it's probably worth checking anyway. Only Apple, to my knowledge, has any level of disclosure about capturing and sending out the data with an opt out switch that, well I don't know whether it does anything, but it's there. People are going to have to learn that data is stored and analyzed and monetized and published and leaked and they should probably care. So far, they don't seem to have figured that out.

FCC boss pleads with Congress: Please stop me from auctioning off this spectrum for billions of dollars

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: No real danger

You're absolutely right. No, I don't want that. Unfortunately, they've already started to do that. It is, for example, the FCC's responsibility to identify the companies selling location information from mobile providers, which is illegal. It is their responsibility to investigate those places and fine them, and it is their responsibility to collect those fines. They have instead chosen to ... do nothing. If they are already placing themselves above that law, I don't see a reason they'd balk at placing themselves above another law.

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: So it's actually more of the same

I'm not that knowledgeable about this band, but I've just done some searching about who currently uses it. Sure, there are emergency services on the list. It seems mostly to be extra capacity needed in urban areas, but not their main bands. However, I note one other user, American UHF channels 14-20. Maybe it's me being paranoid, but I'm wondering about that television company that has been so linked to this director before. I wonder how many stations they have using those channels and how expensive it would be to move them. That will probably require more research, but it might explain some of the vehemence.

With millions upon millions out of work in the US, here come the scammers claiming victims' unemployment money using stolen info

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: Scammers are an infamia

I have had plans where, while you didn't pay for calls directly, you had a time limit after which you would have to start paying. Incoming calls would not count against that limit until you had been on them for at least a minute, but then the clock would start to count down. I think you can still get such a plan here, but I haven't had one like that in a decade. I think it's mostly still available for those who prefer lower bills, because mine is higher than it has a right to be.

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: Scammers are an infamia

While I tend not to actively interact with their call by pressing a number to talk with one of their agents, I frequently leave the call connected and wait for their automatic system to hang up. Depending on how complex their setup is, it may have a limit to number of concurrent calls (or better yet, they may pay by the minute). Since incoming calls are free on my plan, I am happy to let them keep talking. Back when they had an Eliza program handling the first stages and would call me once a week to test it out, I used to have it play against a simple program I wrote to read out random sentences whenever the bot stopped talking. Sadly, they seem to have stopped and now the only calls I get ask me to press one and hang up after two or three repeats of their recording.


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