When Davis asks why she couldn’t simply do that during the earlier call, her explanation is enough to make you pound your head through a wall in frustration.
“We try to negotiate, and again, that is a valid charge,” she answers. “But since I advised my manager that there is a recording and you were misinformed, then she’s the one who can approve that $82.”
Seemingly flabbergasted, Davis asks to confirm, “You’re telling me that if I didn’t have a recording of that call, you wouldn’t have been able to do it?”
“Yes, that is correct,” answers the rep, confirming that the only way to get Comcast to erase a bogus charge from your account is to have recorded evidence that you were promised in advance that the call would be free.
Die Bundesregierung erhöht den Druck auf ausländische Nachrichtendienste, ihre Aktivitäten in Deutschland offenzulegen. Nach Informationen von SPIEGEL ONLINE drängt das Auswärtige Amt (AA) alle ausländischen Botschaften auf offiziellem diplomatischen Weg, ihr gesamtes Geheimdienstpersonal zu benennen.
Konkret fordert eine bereits am Mittwoch versandte Verbalnote, dass alle Staaten, einschließlich der internationalen Partner, Listen mit den Namen aller aktiven Agenten vorlegen sollen. Ausdrücklich sind Konsulate, Kulturinstitute und auch Geheimdienstler miteingeschlossen. Die Bundesregierung erwarte nun, dass die Note “von allen angeschriebenen Vertretungen beantwortet” werde, hieß es im AA.
Berlin drängt mit dem ungewöhnlichen Schritt auf mehr Transparenz für die in Deutschland tätigen ausländischen Geheimdienste. Im Ministerium von Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) heißt es diplomatisch, Ziel des Vorstoßes sei es, zwischen der Bundesregierung und den Botschaften “einen gemeinsamen Sachstand” herzustellen. Tatsächlich aber belegt die provokante Bitte die deutsche Frustration über das Treiben der ausländischen Nachrichtendienste. Vor allem die konstante Weigerung des Partners USA, Berlin zumindest das offizielle Personal der CIA, NSA oder des Militärgeheimdienstes offenzulegen, sorgt in der Regierung für Ärger.
It does sound like they plan to perform a comprehensive cross checking between what embassies are willing to report, what they already know for certain, and what they have evidence to suggest may be incorrect. And draw conclusions over which countries are friendly or hostile..
Today is a good day. I just had a call from a telemarketer. Did I yell and scream at them, you ask? Certainly not. Like a good IT administrator I put my skills to use for their benefit. Here’s how the conversation went:
Computer: “Press 9 to not be contacted in the future. Press 4 to speak to someone about your mortgage issues”
TM: “Hello, are you having problems paying your mortgage?”
Me: “Hi, this is the IT department. We intercepted your call as we detected a problem with you phone and need to fix it.”
TM: “Oh… ok, well what do we need to do?”
Me: “We’re going to need to fix the settings by pressing 4-6-8 and * at the same time”
TM: “Ok, nothing happened.”
Me: “Are you using the new Polycom phones that we deployed?”
TM: “No, it’s a Yealink”
Me: “Ok, I see. You haven’t had the new Polycom phone deployed to your desk yet. Let me check our technical documentations for the Yealink.”
Me: “Alright, do you see an “OK” button on your phone?”
TM: “Yes I do”
Me: “Alright, you’re going to press and hold that button for 10 seconds.”
TM: “OK, pressing it now”
Me: “Perfect, let me know if you get a password request”
TM: “OK, nothing has popped up ye—-”
That’s right. I made a telemarketer unwittingly factory reset his phone which means he will be unable to make anymore calls until someone is able to reconfigure his phone and that will take at least an hour or longer if they can’t do it right away!
In sum and once again: Amazon is not your friend. Neither is any other corporation. It and they do what they do for their own interest and are more than willing to try to make you try believe that what they do for their own benefit is in fact for yours. It’s not. In this particular case, this is not about readers or authors or anyone else but Amazon wanting eBooks capped at $9.99 for its own purposes. It should stop pretending that this is about anything other than that. Readers, authors, and everyone else should stop pretending it’s about anything other than that, too.
Apple may well be the only tech company on the planet that would dare compare itself to Picasso.
In a class at the company’s internal training program, the so-called Apple University, the instructor likened the 11 lithographs that make up Picasso’s “The Bull” to the way Apple builds its smartphones and other devices. The idea: Apple designers strive for simplicity just as Picasso eliminated details to create a great work of art.
Steven P. Jobs established Apple University as a way to inculcate employees into Apple’s business culture and educate them about its history, particularly as the company grew and the tech business changed. Courses are not required, only recommended, but getting new employees to enroll is rarely a problem.
Although many companies have such internal programs, sometimes referred to as indoctrination, Apple’s version is a topic of speculation and fascination in the tech world.
It is highly secretive and rarely written about, referred to briefly in the biography of Mr. Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Apple employees are discouraged from talking about the company in general, and the classes are no exception. No pictures of the classrooms have surfaced publicly. And a spokeswoman for Apple declined to make instructors available for interviews for this article.
Late last month, a Siamese cat named Coco went wandering in his suburban Washington, DC neighborhood. He spent three hours exploring nearby backyards. He killed a mouse, whose carcass he thoughtfully brought home to his octogenarian owner, Nancy. And while he was out, Coco mapped dozens of his neighbors’ Wi-Fi networks, identifying four routers that used an old, easily-broken form of encryption and another four that were left entirely unprotected.
Unbeknownst to Coco, he’d been fitted with a collar created by Nancy’s granddaughter’s husband, security researcher Gene Bransfield. And Bransfield had built into that collar a Spark Core chip loaded with his custom-coded firmware, a Wi-Fi card, a tiny GPS module and a battery—everything necessary to map all the networks in the neighborhood that would be vulnerable to any intruder or Wi-Fi mooch with, at most, some simple crypto-cracking tools.
And so now the US has to use American weaponry to destroy the American weaponry it gave Iraqis to make Iraqis safer, in order to make Iraqis safer.
There’s a nice little feuilleton in the New York Times looking at why everyone whines about their iPhone slowing down when Apple releases a new variant.
Starting from a personal complaint by a professor, one of his students looks at the incidence for “iPhone slow” in Google Trends and notes that there’s a leap every time a new model is released.
That is released – not announced – so it must come from actual use, rather than just thinking that it isn’t quite up to date.
It’s also noted that releases of new Samsung models do not coincide so strongly with leaps in similar search terms. Obviously there’s something specific to Apple here, and that’s that major upgrades to the iPhone coincide with upgrades to iOS, something which 90 per cent of iPhone users will implement.
Famously, Android users do not tend to upgrade their OS over time. So, we might think that this observed slow-down is a result of trying to run the new OS on old hardware which isn’t quite up to supporting it. And we’d probably be right there.
However, we can now go off on our own and go a little further than this. For what’s really remarkable about these OS upgrades is how good Apple has been at keeping new versions of iOS compatible with old versions of hardware. No one at all would suggest running today’s Samsung bloatware (that bit that floats around on top of Android) on hardware three years old. But it seems perfectly acceptable to be running this year’s iOS on old kit. It’s also at this point that we can wander off into a couple of bits of economics for illumination.
Oracle’s much-ballyhooed data redaction feature in Database 12c is easy to subvert without needing to use exploit code, attendees at Defcon 22 in Las Vegas have heard.
The redaction features in 12c are designed to automatically protect sensitive database material by either totally obscuring column data or partially masking it – for example, recalling just the last four digits of a US social security number when a search query is run.
But according to David Litchfield, security specialist at Datacomm TSS and the author of The Oracle Hacker’s Handbook, the mechanism is so riddled with basic flaws that you don’t even need to execute native exploit code to defeat the redaction – some clever SQL is all that’s needed, we’re told.
“If Oracle has a decent security development lifecycle in place anyone would have found these flaws and stopped them in tracks,” Litchfield said.
“Anyone with a modicum of SQL would have found these bugs.”
Litchfield said that within five minutes of investigating the redactions system, he found serious flaws in the coding. He’s previously documented his findings here [PDF].
It’s official, Windows 8 is a write-off . Sales for the operating system have been poor and now it is even starting to lose market share to Windows 7. To Microsoft MSFT credit it has bravely persisted addressing issue after issue. Most notable was the major Windows 8.1 Update 1 patch released in April which makes the OS a genuinely credible platform. Still it remains far from perfect and now Microsoft is prematurely pulling the plug.
In a blog post by Microsoft Senior Marketing Communications Manager Brandon LeBlanc, he explains that there will be no more major update releases for Windows 8: “despite rumours and speculation, we are not planning to deliver a Windows 8.1 ‘Update 2’.”
Google has come up with a way to overcome the ad-targeting gap between mobile web visitors and mobile app users, according to people familiar with the matter.
The online ad giant is set to begin testing a new method of targeting tablet and smartphone users that connects the separate tracking mechanisms that follow what people do on the mobile web and in mobile apps respectively, the people said. Until now, advertisers have usually been forced to treat individual mobile users as two unconnected people, depending on whether they are using a mobile browser or apps.
A Google spokesman confirmed the effort. “As an alternative to less transparent methods, we’re doing some tests to help businesses run consistent ad campaigns across a device’s mobile browser and mobile apps, using existing anonymous identifiers, while enabling people to use the established privacy controls on Android and iOS,” the spokesman said in an email.
The targeting method relies on Google’s two-million-plus network of third-party sites and its mobile app ad network AdMob, which is able to track and serve ads to users of hundreds of thousands of mobile apps across Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile operating systems.
Obama said the department and administration have started reaching out to veterans who are on the wait lists to match them with care, have fired people and are investigating numerous allegations of misconduct.
Obama and members of Congress said one of the most important provisions of the bill is free: It allows McDonald free reign to fire people who are not doing their jobs or have engaged in unethical behavior.
If an employee does not meet standards of conduct, “You should be fired, period,” Obama said. Whistleblowers, Obama said, should be protected.
“If you blow the whistle,” Obama said, “you should be thanked. You should be protected for doing the right thing. You shouldn’t be ignored and you certainly shouldn’t be punished.”
“…Unless you blow the whistle on my or any of my pals. In that case, you’d better flee the country quick or my people will kill you or lock you in a cage for the rest of your life.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the spread of Ebola in West Africa an international health emergency.
WHO officials said the possible consequences were “particularly serious” because of the virulence of the virus.
The announcement came after experts convened a two-day emergency meeting in Switzerland.
I wonder… if they announced a vaccine tomorrow, would all the anti-vaccine people line up to get a shot?
When Peter Ho, the senior defense official, met with John Poindexter back in 2002 about the Total Information Awareness program, Poindexter suggested that Singapore would face a much easier time installing a big-data analysis system than he had in the United States, because Singapore’s privacy laws were so much more permissive. But Ho replied that the law wasn’t the only consideration. The public’s acceptance of government programs and policies was not absolute, particularly when it came to those that impinged on people’s rights and privileges.
It sounds like an accurate forecast. In this tiny laboratory of big-data mining, the experiment is yielding an unexpected result: The more time Singaporeans spend online, the more they read, the more they share their thoughts with each other and their government, the more they’ve come to realize that Singapore’s light-touch repression is not entirely normal among developed, democratic countries — and that their government is not infallible. To the extent that Singapore is a model for other countries to follow, it may tell them more about the limits of big data and that not every problem can be predicted.
Edward Snowden, the former US intelligence contractor turned whistleblower, has been granted a three-year residence permit to remain in Russia.
Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told reporters on Thursday that Snowden had been granted asylum allowing him to move about freely and travel abroad.
Funny coincidence that, just as the Russians want to be really annoying to the West…
Speaking on his radio show on Tuesday, Wiles said, “Now this Ebola epidemic can become a global pandemic and that’s another name for plague. It may be the great attitude adjustment that I believe is coming… Ebola could solve America’s problems with atheism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography and abortion.”
“If Ebola becomes a global plague, you better make sure the blood of Jesus is upon you, you better make sure you have been marked by the angels so that you are protected by God. If not, you may be a candidate to meet the Grim Reaper.”
President Obama is letting the CIA play a major part in censoring a report on brutal human-rights abuses perpetrated by CIA employees. This has always been self-evidently absurd: No possible arrangement would present a bigger conflict of interest. What many Americans might not know is that the CIA isn’t just intent on covering up torture. It’s also averse to the public knowing more about renditions, a euphemism for kidnapping people and handing them over to violent thugs.
A rendition victim is now speaking out to highlight this aspect of the controversy. Today, she’s a 23-year-old college student working toward a degree in the humanities. When her family was kidnapped she was a frightened 12-year-old girl.
Essentially, the British public has allowed right-wing press barons like Rupert Murdoch to frame the political debate to such an extent that the actual meanings of basic political words and phrases have become lost. This alarming scale of political illiteracy has not been brought about because the public is inherently stupid or gullible, it has come about after decades of effort from the right-wing media to frame the political debate in such a way that basic political words and phrases like “socialist” and “left-wing” have been divorced from their actual meanings.
Although this blogger is writing about the UK, the lesson is the same across the Murdoch media empire and beyond. The Big Lie, repeated frequently and consistently actually wears a hole in people’s heads.
The Ebola pandemic — which has killed 887 in West Africa including 255 in Liberia — has terrified people so much that some local leaders discern divine meaning in it. According to Front Page Africa and the Daily Observer, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf called on Tuesday for all residents to fast for three days and pray for forgiveness.
“Relying on His divine guidance for our survival as a nation,” she announced, “I call on all Liberians to observe three days of national fast and prayer to seek God’s face to have mercy on us and forgive our sins and heal our land, Liberia, as we continue to fight against the deadly Ebola virus.”
That followed a recent recommendation by the Liberian Council of Churches, which said in a statement last week the outbreak has Biblical implications. “God is angry with Liberia,” the religious leaders said, according to the Daily Observer. “Ebola is a plague. Liberians have to pray and seek God’s forgiveness over the corruption and immoral acts (such as homosexualism, etc.) that continue to penetrate our society. As Christians, we must repent and seek God’s forgiveness.”
Intelligence services collect metadata on the communication of all citizens. Politicians would have us believe that this data doesn’t say all that much. A reader of De Correspondent put this to the test and demonstrated otherwise: metadata reveals a lot more about your life than you think.
The numerous possibilities that tracking devices offer to health and insurance industries are not lost on O’Reilly. “You know the way that advertising turned out to be the native business model for the internet?” he wondered at a recent conference. “I think that insurance is going to be the native business model for the internet of things.” Things do seem to be heading that way: in June, Microsoft struck a deal with American Family Insurance, the eighth-largest home insurer in the US, in which both companies will fund startups that want to put sensors into smart homes and smart cars for the purposes of “proactive protection”.
An insurance company would gladly subsidise the costs of installing yet another sensor in your house – as long as it can automatically alert the fire department or make front porch lights flash in case your smoke detector goes off. For now, accepting such tracking systems is framed as an extra benefit that can save us some money. But when do we reach a point where not using them is seen as a deviation – or, worse, an act of concealment – that ought to be punished with higher premiums?
Or consider a May 2014 report from 2020health, another thinktank, proposing to extend tax rebates to Britons who give up smoking, stay slim or drink less. “We propose ‘payment by results’, a financial reward for people who become active partners in their health, whereby if you, for example, keep your blood sugar levels down, quit smoking, keep weight off, [or] take on more self-care, there will be a tax rebate or an end-of-year bonus,” they state. Smart gadgets are the natural allies of such schemes: they document the results and can even help achieve them – by constantly nagging us to do what’s expected.
The unstated assumption of most such reports is that the unhealthy are not only a burden to society but that they deserve to be punished (fiscally for now) for failing to be responsible. For what else could possibly explain their health problems but their personal failings? It’s certainly not the power of food companies or class-based differences or various political and economic injustices. One can wear a dozen powerful sensors, own a smart mattress and even do a close daily reading of one’s poop – as some self-tracking aficionados are wont to do – but those injustices would still be nowhere to be seen, for they are not the kind of stuff that can be measured with a sensor. The devil doesn’t wear data. Social injustices are much harder to track than the everyday lives of the individuals whose lives they affect.