* Posts by sketharaman

169 publicly visible posts • joined 6 May 2019


Amazon on the hook for predictably revolting use of concealed clothes hook spy cam


Fastest way to bankrupt Amazon

Please tell me this hook spy cam is the only product sold on Amazon that can be used for illegal purposes? The other day, I was watching a movie called THE K!LLERS on Netflix. At one point, the protagonist buys a FOB COPIER from Amazon to duplicate the keycard to the villain's home. If the villain sues Amazon... If everyone starts suing Amazon for such products, it would be the fastest way to bankrupt the world's fourth largest company. While on the subject, it would also be the fastest way to bankrupt the world's largest company WalMart, which also sells similar products.

HP exec says quiet part out loud when it comes to locking in print customers


"Funny how marketing messages change depending on the audience".

It would be funny if marketing didn't craft different messages for different audiences.

I've been selling tech for 35+ years. Vendor lockin is an open secret of the IT industry. While vendors may not talk about it openly to customers, they have always been bragging about stickiness / loyalty and other manifestations of lockin to investors for ages.

HP printer software turns up uninvited on Windows systems


Pleasant surprise!

I know I'm dating myself but, back in the days of 3.1, '95 and XP, Windows used to install drivers for HP, Epson and other popular models of printers, scanners and other peripherals by itself. I'm pleasantly surprised to learn that recent versions of Windows give a checkbox to let the user decide which drivers to install.

Meta sued by privacy group over pay up or click OK model


Well said. Meta / Facebook is a private sector company. It's under no obligation towards fundamental rights, which are obligations only on public bodies. Users are not entitled to Facebook. As the last line of the article says, they can always quit Facebook.

X fails to remove hate speech over Israel-Gaza conflict


Re: Private property

Elon Musk didn't become the richest guy on the planet by paying $44B for public property.


Private property

Twitter / X is private property. It's none of the business of Wannabe Activists like CCDH to question what Musk has or does not have on it. Per law in many American states, property owners can shoot tresspassers, so shooting the messenger is not wrong in USA!

Digital democracy or IT anarchy? Gartner flags the low-code revolution


One man's robust governance...

"Democratization... accompanied by robust governance" is a nice soundbite but one man's robust governance is another man's redtape. It was redtape that caused "non-democratization" of digital delivery in the first place. Not sure how it can accompany democratization of digital delivery.

Europe bans Meta from using personal data to target ads


So spam ads are okay, huh?

Meta's ad-free scheme dares you to buy your privacy back, one euro at a time


Kudos to Meta / Facebook for calling EU regulator's bluff. We'll finally see how many people who find it fashionable to complain about privacy infringements put money where their mouth is by opting for the paid account and how overzealous the EU regulator is for overestimating that number.

When is a PC an AI PC? Nobody seems to know or wants to tell


What happens in a PC anyway?

With the growing use of virtualization, VDI, cloud storage and cloud computing over the last 10-15 years, virtually all programs and data of the PC user are increasingly resident on the cloud. As a result, a PC has virtually become a Dumb Terminal these days. I wonder what user-specific data is even there on the local hard disk of the PC anymore for AI PC to get trained on and work as a Personal Assistant.

City council Oracle megaproject got a code red – and they went live anyway


Re: A drop in the ocean

+1. My heart bleeds to see Oracle being made the Fall Guy here (Disclosure: Ex-Oracle employee).

UK procurement is too glacial to bring AI into defense, MPs told


Not just AI

Why just AI or Defence, public sector procurement is too slow for a lot of technologies. Woz a time when we quoted 386 based PC to a bank. By the time they placed the order, 486 was out and 386 was out of production. We offered free upgrade to 486. But, due to rigid tendering rules, bank refused.

No customer left behind, SAP's Klein tells users angered by cloud-only decision


Re: If you are a SAP customer, you are already doomed in any case

I don't know what exactly but it says something that SAP gets away with this practice all the time. Not only did it win SAP v. Diageo but it pulled a similar one against Microsoft in ca. 1998. Microsoft built a VB-based indirect materials procurment portal with access to all of its 30K employees. Once the portal processed the Purchase Request, it handed over the approved PR to SAP MM to raise the PO. Microsoft had a 2K user license of SAP and SAP wanted Microsoft to buy up licenses for all the 30K employees who indirectly accessed SAP. IIRC, the case was settled out of court and Microsoft agreed to cough up for 5K more licenses of SAP.



Singapore may split liability for phishing losses between banks and victims


Float Income Redux

Banks will thank regulators for the opportunity to delay payments and thereby earn float income under the pretense that they need to "carry out extra due diligence on the authenticity of the payment". Once again regulators will have transformed a problem of 5% of culpable customers into a problem of 95% of blameless customers. Good job.

Google promises eternity of updates for Chromebooks – that's a decade for everyone else


ChromeBook - Peak VFM!

My daughter got a ChromeBook as prize when she won the national Doodle 4 Google contest in 2013. For the first time, it has gone to the repair shop today. Enough said about length of support and repairability of this product. In my 35 years experience of working in the IT industry, ChromeBook easily has the highest Value For Money.

Local governments aren't businesses – so why are they force-fed business software?


Q: Local governments aren't businesses, so why are they force-fed business software (like ERP, HCM, Financials)?

A: Because many politicians think running local governments like a private sector company is the most efficient use of taxpayer money for providing public services.

Want tunes with that? India-made POS terminal includes a speaker


Soundboxes like this have been supplied by PayTM, BharatPe, Walmart PhonePe and other PSPs in India for over a year. I'm told that they have been supplied by AliPay and other PSPs to stores in China for many years.

I've been to dozens of stores that have a soundbox. While playing music is not a bad idea, I haven't seen a single store doing so.

The key functionality of the soundbox is to announce completion of a payment. Before soundbox came along, the store attendant had to stop what he was doing and look up his mobile phone to track the SMS or PUSH notif announcing payment completion. With the soundbox, he is able to multitask. Also, the SMS and PUSH go only to the phone used to sign up with the PSP. Quite often, that phone is with the storeowner, who may not be in the store all the time. As a result, the store attendant would need to look up the notification on the payor's phone. Crooks have been known to show a fabricated screenshot on their phone and scoot with the goods without paying. It was too late by the time the store realized that it had been swindled. Whereas the soundbox is a standalone device that's always present in the store.

Soundbox solves a very tangible pain area for stores, especially small stores where there are only one or two employees, there's no checkout line and the store attendant attends to the next customer by the time the previous customer makes the payment. Literacy or accessibility have primarily nothing to do with soundbox although they could be useful secondary use cases for it.

What happens when What3Words gets lost in translation?



Sneaky of W3W to use extremely convoluted numerals to buttress its claim that words are easier to remember than numbers. In practice, nobody quotes LATLONGs. They text it and the recipient just clicks the link. Ergo, there's no need to speak out, much less, remember numbers like 40.712772, -74.006058. Besides, there are alternative systems like LinCode, which use a sequence of pure numerals like mobile numbers or credit card numbers, without any decimals or plus / minus signs, and they're way easier to speak out than W3Ws like mine: bristle.slam.parsnip.

OpenAI urges court to throw out authors' claims in AI copyright battle


Re: Please can we have a standard like a robots.txt file

Yes. OpenAI recently announced the two lines that website owners can add to their robots.txt to tell its bot not to scrape their website's content. I already implemented on my company's website: www.gtm360.com/robots.txt.

User-agent: GPTBot

Disallow: /

Criminals go full Viking on CloudNordic, wipe all servers and customer data


Where are the backups?

As the article says, backups also got hit by ransomware when its servers were being moved from one datacenter to another: "Some of the machines were apparently infected before the move, and during the transfer servers that had been on separate networks were all connected to CloudNordic's internal network. This gave the intruders access to both the central administrative systems, storage, replication backup system and secondary backups, all of which they promptly encrypted for extortion."

Brainwaves rock! Scientists decode Pink Floyd tune straight from the noggin


Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid

If this had art, it would be the modern day equivalent of GEB.

So much for CAPTCHA then – bots can complete them quicker than humans


We've been hearing that bots are better at cracking CAPTCHAs for at least four years - ever since Verge published this article in 2019: https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/1/18205610/google-captcha-ai-robot-human-difficult-artificial-intelligence. Still a vast majority of the most popular websites in the world continue to use them, even at the cost of annoying their users. I'm somehow inclined to take these research findings with a barrel of salt.

Workday wants racially biased recruitment algorithm claims thrown out


Re: Data vs what you do with it

This is tricky terrain. It could be argued that, had the software not provided protected classes in its filter options, the human user wouldn't be able to discriminate by protected class. It's somewhat like one's belief on whether guns kill or people kill using guns. IIRC there have been cases where software vendors have been ordered to modify their features to ensure compatibility with local law.

Indian developer fired 90 percent of tech support team, outsourced the job to AI


Not Whether But When

For at least the last 10 years, I've received, on an average, better quality of customer service from chatbots than Human CSRs. Six years ago, I wondered if chatbots can replace humans. I think it's clear now that the question is not whether but when. But there's no need to cry for CSRs - by relieving them from mundane tasks, chatbots will enable human CSRs to focus on more strategic things. https://gtm360.com/blog/2017/05/26/can-chatbots-replace-humans/

SSD missing from SAP datacenter turns up on eBay, sparking security investigation


Incidents like this will add fuel to the fire of SAP user group's concerns about whether SAP is really better at running SAP than its customers. https://www.theregister.com/2023/05/23/sap_americas_user_review/

FCC questions ISPs' selective memory about data caps


Well played FCC

Suppliers will now think twice before they rise to the occasion and waive their TOS during Black Swan events. Well played FCC.

Gen Z and Millennials don't know what their colleagues are talking about half the time


Jargon rocks!!!

According to a study, when stripped of all the jargon, a 6-page credit card agreement ballooned to 24 pages. So there's a reason why jargon is there. ProTip: Make the onetime investment required to learn jargon. Otherwise, you'll find every meeting taking 4X the time and perpetually whine about lack of work-life balance.

Chinese chipmaker insists it has Intel on-side, not inside


Onside Inside Hardly Matters

Reminds me of the mid-90s when Compaq got tired of the Intel hegemony and replaced the Intel CPUs on its PC range with rival AMD's processors. This was a time when Intel's high-decibel "Intel Inside" ad campaign made PC customers question the brand of CPU used in their PCs. Compaq countered this with an ad that went, "When it says Compaq on the outside, nobody cares what's on the inside".

Healthcare org with over 100 clinics uses OpenAI's GPT-4 to write medical records


"Carbon Health claims 88 percent of the verbiage can be accepted without edits."

As long as they know which 88%, what can go wrong, huh?

H/T John Wanamaker: 'Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.'

Australia fines tech companies for exploiting foreign tech workers


Going by USA, UK, Germany, etc., the foreign workers on visa know what they're signing up for and will happily work at the underpaid wages. The ones really being exploited are the local workers who are replaced by cheaper foreign workers basis an immigration policy that purports to prevent any pay disparity.

This legit Android app turned into mic-snooping malware – and Google missed it


No big deal?

I don't see what's the big deal when Google is the developer of the #1 app in this genre. Called Google Amplifier, Google positions it as an accessibility feature but, going by the PI in Scott Turow's latest novel SUSPECT, it's more widely used to snoop conversations taking place in your neighbor's apartment!

SAP's cloud drive hits speed bumps with American users


Brilliant Concern!

"SAP historically has been a manufacturer of its software, not an operator of it. Its customer base is very savvy operators of SAP software, not good creators of it. When you do a RISE Cloud deal, you give operational control away to SAP, and you're not sure if SAP can do it equal or better than you."

This is a brilliant concern about Cloud in general and SAP in particular. I've never heard a single customer articulate it in this manner. For vendors who have been providing managed ops of their software in addition to building it, this could be a huge competitive advantage over the SAPs and Oracles whose first tyst with operations is very recent - in the cloud era.

What's your Mean Time To Innocence – the time needed to prove that mess is not your problem



Microsoft Azure CTO believes confidential computing is the future of targeted advertising


Good news?

"The bad news – if you are a consumer – is that this allows for scenarios where companies can more easily target you with pitches that are tailored to you personally."

Arguably good news - so many customers say they want their banks, retailers and other suppliers to make better use of their preferences to provide a more personalized experience - instead of adopting a one size fits all approach and spamming everybody with the same irrelevant thing.

Owner of 'magic spreadsheet' tried to stay in the Lotus position until forced to Excel


Palm Desktop

I've never let it come in the way of upgrading my PC but Palm Desktop is the golden source of my contacts even today. The software came free with my Palm m105 PDA in circa 1998, worked fine with the Palm Tungsten|TX that I bought in circa 2007, and has been working on all five Windows laptops that I've used during this period. On more than one occasion during this period, I've tried to migrate to Microsoft Outlook, Google Whatever, Samsung Whatever and half a dozen contact management tools but somehow I find myself going back everytime to the 25 year old tried-and-trusted warhorse.

India's major IT outsourcers slow hiring and fret about deal pipelines


Re: Hopefully a reversal

Then stop pretending to be more competent than the market needs or is willing to pay for.

Red Hat layoffs spark calls to unionize, CEO wades in



Tell me you don't understand Capitalism without telling me you don't understand Capitalism.

Tokyo has millions of surplus Wi-Fi access points that should be shared with blockchain, says NTT


Re: I have a hammer, everything is nails

Not sure if your last sentence is sarcasm but, for the record, WiFi sharing has been around at least since 2006 when FON began its service. I wrote about it here: https://sketharaman.com/blog/2006/09/10/is-web-30-going-to-mean-user-generated-internet-access/.

More recently, Helium is taking a shot at this, just with blockchain / crypto tokenomics. Here's the NYT article on it: https://archive.ph/PuzB6.

Microsoft may stop bundling Teams with Office amid antitrust probe threat


Free or not free?

Does it mean customers of Office will need to pay for Teams separately or that they'll still get it free but only need to install it separately?

UK Android app devs to get choice of billing system on Google Play


Kudos to Google

In the early days of Play Store, app developers would tell us, "We're on Play Store, Google is doing our marketing, why do we need you?" Now they have conveniently forgotten about that and are trying to pretend that the only value provided by Play Store is payments, which others provide for 3-4%. By giving a takeoff of 3-4 percentage points for alternative billing, Google is making it clear that it also charges only 3-4% for payments and reminding them that, while they're free to take their payments elsewhere, they still need to pay for marketing and other value provided by Play Store. Fair is fair.

Uncle Sam threatens AI with its nastiest weapon: An audit


Height of regulatory overreach. Normally I'd have said if Trump comes back to power next year, all this will get dismantled but, in this case, AI will stonewall the audit all by itself...



LOL reminds me of the convo between NYT reporter Kevin Roose and Sydney chatbot from Microsoft / OpenAI!

Samsung reportedly leaked its own secrets through ChatGPT


How do I upload a PDF file to ChatGPT?

Anyone knows how these guys even managed to upload a PDF to ChatGPT? When I asked ChatGPT this question, this is the answer I got:

"I'm sorry, but as an AI language model, I don't have the capability to receive or store files, including PDFs, from users." ~ https://sharegpt.com/c/7ttzFqL

Users slam SAP's public cloud and S/4HANA migration strategy


Re: "that's not how the cloud works"

"Now"? LOL! The SAP that I've known since 1996 has always tried to decide how you should run your business with emphasis on, say, Best Practice. The success of SAP is also testimony that many companies do want to told by outsiders how to run their company. That said, in the present context, SAP is talking about how cloud works. Its statement is about technology and the infra in which its software runs, so it's not a statement on how you should run your business but more about how I will run my software. Also, almost all SAAS vendors say the same thing, so it's not SAP alone.

India-based cybergang busted for selling fake KFC franchises


No Google Ads?

Woz another scam run a few years ago offering AMUL franchises. It spent a lot of money to buy Google Ads for Amul franchise related keywords. Not sure if the current KFC franchise scammers didn't use Google Ads at all or some PR guys have done a good job to keep Google's name away from the story.

If scammers use your AI code to rip off victims, the FTC may want a word


Section 230 Safe Harbor

Totally agree, just that regulators conveniently skip the various extant exemptions to the blustery threats they make in public. For example, telephone companies have always enjoyed indemnity from prosecution for the nefarious deeds conducted over their copper and fiber connections.

Global finance wonks worry financial services too invested in outsourcers, Big Tech


Pied Piper of Hamelin

I can't think of a more free will action by IT customers to surrender their independence and lock themselves into a vendor oligopoly than their decision to migrate software systems from onprem to cloud.

Germany to court Indian IT talent – starting with easier visa application processes


Re: so what happened ?

When I lived in Germany, they'd tell me, "German is a very difficult language. Just because you can speak English doesn't mean you can learn German so easily. There's only one You in English. There are two forms of you in German, Sie and Du."

I'd tell them, I come from India, in Hindi, there are three forms of you, namely Aap ("Sie"), Tum and Tu ("Du"), in some parts of India, mother calls child "Aap" and in other parts of India, everybody calls everybody else Tu, so don't worry about me. That'd stop all hints that I couldn't pick up German.


Re: What a difference a change in government makes

I was in Germany at the time and I remember the slogan very well.