Thursday, July 31, 2014

Geekabout: 40 Most Disastrous Cable Messes

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Geekabout: 40 Most Disastrous Cable Messes

If you think that rat’s nest of cables behind your computer is bad, check out some of these cable disasters – it'll make you feel a lot better about your own personal "computer-cable hygiene"! This is the definitive list of the all-time worst (or at least sloppiest) wiring jobs ever, including out-of-control computer wiring, A/V cables gone-bad, data center disasters, and ridiculous power lines from around the world.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Naked Security: Anatomy of an iTunes phish

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Naked Security: Anatomy of an iTunes phish – tips to avoid getting caught out

... We often forget that many things are "obvious" only with experience, meaning, in fact, that they're not really obvious at all.

That's why we do phishing walkthroughs fairly regularly on Naked Security.

The idea is to step you through a typical email phish, pointing out the telltale warning signs in the original email and the web pages that follow, so you know what to look for in future.

So, even if you'd back yourself to spot a phish every time, here's a step-by-step account that might help to save your friends and family in the future. ...

Friday, July 25, 2014

Getting internet working in our new home

We just moved to a new home a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, Verizon FiOS is not available in the new neighborhood. The next town over is just getting wired now, but that’s there, not here. Rumors of local political problems between the town government and Verizon tells me that although FiOS might be available in 6 months, it’s also possible that it won’t be here for 6 years or 60 years. Needless to say, transferring the FiOS service from our old house was not an option. Verizon’s only internet offering for this location is DSL, which isn’t sufficient for my needs (telecommuting, including VoIP through our corporate VPN.)

For TV service, we subscribed to Dish Network. Mostly because the previous owners used it and the dish was already on the roof. That installed quickly and after three weeks I’m quite happy with it. But that’s for TV only. Dish does offer satellite internet service, but the latency inherent in a geostationary satellite link (over half-second round-trip packet times) makes it useless for interactive services like remote-logins and VoIP. Since both my wife and I require interactive services (distance learning, telecommuting, FaceTime, etc.) satellite internet is a no-go.

Which leaves Comcast internet as the only possibility for high bandwidth and low latency. We subscribed to their 25Mbps internet-only service. Due to the fact that we were involved with moving and closing on two houses (buying the new home and selling the old one), I was in no state of mind to research and buy a modem, I elected to rent Comcast’s modem, at least for the first few months, just to keep it simple.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Dilbert: That's an enginnering secret

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Today's page on my Dilbert desk calendar...

...struck a chord. It reminds me of real-world practice that I faced several years ago.

At that time, my employer's Federal sales group worked fairly closely with engineering. They would frequently request features - very specific micro-managed features. Sometimes these features didn't make sense - there were better and simpler ways to do the same thing.

As good engineers, we would ask them "what task are you trying to accomplish with this feature?" figuring that if we know what they were trying to do, we might be able to suggest a better or more efficient or at least standards-compliant way to solve their problem. The answer we always got back was "sorry, that's classified."

Fortunately, our sales people were fairly knowledgeable, so we could discuss the topic at length with them (never mentioning what the end customer actually wants to do, of course) and the sales people could help determine if an alternative feature would be better, but it was still a very frustrating way to work. Even when the feature is developed and tested, it's frustrating to know that you can't test it against the customer's usage because you aren't allowed to know what that usage is. And when you get a bug report devoid of actual usage data, it's really hard to find and fix the bug.

I think Dilbert (in today's strip) has it easy!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cutter or just cats?

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I was trying to find this strip a few years ago. It appears that the indexing for Dork Tower is now complete enough that I was able to find it.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

New home

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To all those who know me in real life, I've moved (with the family, of course) into a new home in a new town, about an hour away from the old one. I'll be sending out e-mail with new contact info soon and those who know me, feel free to ask.

To those who don't know me in real life, move along, nothing to see.