Daily Placebo

  • Wednesday, February 22, 2012
  • Take a Deep Breath.

    Why the FBI might soon cut off your Internet
    WHAT? Oh, stupid alarmist headline writers.

    The FBI is NOT shutting off anyone's internet connection. The "DNS Changer" Trojan goes into your system settings and modifies your DNS settings to connect with a server operated by the BadGuys any time you enter a web page. (this is bad) The BadGuys have been caught and the FBI has been operating the BadDNS servers as legitimate DNS points under the provisions of a court order. (this is good) The court order will expire on March 8th and the FBI will no longer be able to provide DNS servers at the address used by people who are still infected by the trojan. So your DNS lookups will fire off into the ether and never get a response.

    Gizmodo:The FBI has a court order allowing it to set up temporary replacement DNS servers so that those with infected computers or networks can get the worm off of their systems. The court order, however, expires on March 8th. Unless that order gets extended, anybody who hasn't cleaned up their act before it expires, might get cut off from the Internet altogether.


    FBI:
    As part of that order, the defendant’s rogue DNS servers have been replaced with legitimate ones. Internet Systems Consortium (“ISC”), a not-for-profit entity, was appointed by the court to act as a third-party receiver for a limited period of 120 days during which time it will administer the replacement DNS servers. Although the replacement DNS servers will provide continuity of Internet service to victims, those replacement servers will not remove the Malware from the infected computers.


    If this happens to you, your internet might appear to stop working on march 8th, but all you need to do is point it at an active DNS server to make it go. (just like always.) That first article makes it sound like the FBI is digging up the wire in your front yard to keep you from spreading the virus to others (which would be a serious problem and gigantic lawsuit)


    You can go here: http://dcwg.org or here: https://forms.fbi.gov/check-to-see-if-your-computer-is-using-rogue-DNS for instructions on checking your settings, but I doubt you've got it unless you install really sketchy codecs on your machine.

    Between this IP...... and this IP
    77.67.83.177.67.83.254
    85.255.112.185.255.127.254
    67.210.0.167.210.15.254
    93.188.160.193.188.167.254
    213.109.64.1213.109.79.254
    64.28.176.164.28.191.254


    You should go ahead and change your DNS to Google's Public DNS anyway though, cause it's faster than the ones your ISP provides and the numbers are SUPER easy to remember:

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  • Thursday, October 20, 2011
  • Do We Need Data Privacy Laws?



    Holy crap these people are morons.  The 3rd amendment, really?  That's not really my go-to amendment for supporting arguments about the right to privacy; and shouldn't the modern interpretation be that soldiers can't use your WiFi without consent?  It's about about having to afford agents of the state with accommodations in peacetime.  Collecting information about you, well that seems more up the search and seizure alley to me.

    But none of that really matters at all because we're not discussing constitutional limitations of the government, we're talking about private companies potentially using information about individuals without consent; and companies are not bound by constitution, they are bound by legislation.

    So we move on to Rep. Marsha Blackburn, corporate advocate, who thinks your personal information is akin to a natural resource.  She thinks we should "allow our free market to explore this natural resource and learn to commercialize it, protect it, and respect it."  Uh... the free market hasn't really been so great about creating sustainable cycles of use and stewardship when it comes to the natural resources it depends on.  More like exploit, monetize and move on.  If she read up on The Tragedy Of The Commons she might observe that most companies participate in a land grab to box out competitors and aren't so big on communal use of public property for public good.  Not that they should be; they're entities designed to funnel money into the hands of their shareholders.  They're not some kind of representative agency created to protect the interests of its citizens.

    "Why should government be the decision maker?"

    *snap* *snap*  Marsha!  Over here!  Pay ATTENTION.  We created the government as an agent to represent its people and protect their natural rights from being violated.  In nature man's right to life, liberty, and property are in danger from other men.  And since "we" cleverly decided that corporations are people too, the government needs to protect us from them too.

    So, jumping back to your terrible analogy of user information as a natural resource; this isn't some undersea oilfield in US territorial waters where bureaucrats can exchange drilling rights for coke and Bj's.  This is more like the natural gas fields underneath people's homes in New York state, it technically belongs to someone else even if they're not using it right now.  

    Companies need to get permission by individually offering property owners enticements of cash and lies.  What representative Blackburn is suggesting would make slant drilling the standard, where companies try to siphon off as much product as they can without the actual owners physically cutting them off.  It's not stealing if there's just no laws that mention it.

    I understand that there's a large grey area in the arena of intellectual property like this and data about me may not technically belong to me.  For instance, street planners may survail traffic patterns and the fact that I use a certain street twice a day could be included in that summary.  That sounds pretty reasonable in an aggregate analysis, but it starts to sound a little creepy if the study records my individual license plate number or has enough stations in town to record my individual movements with a certain accuracy.  But such is the case with publicly observable facts and information, we'll need to work through as a society to decide what types of surveillance clash with a reasonable expectation of privacy.  Some methods will probably end up being technically legal but socially unacceptable, while we might decide to flat out ban others.

    Separate from public facts is private data accessible only to specific entities, only through a special or business relationship.  This could be information your utility generates about you as a result of the service they provide.   (location, call history, data usage, browser history, power consumption, payment habits)  It's private information that many of us would think twice before actively divulging in a corporate survey, but in many cases is being compiled without the user's knowledge or express permission.  This intimate data becomes available to the company as a side-effect of the user's service.

    I imagine a tenant-landlord situation where, as a result of living in the apartment, the occupant can unknowingly disclose information about himself to the renter.  Some of the incidental data may seem innocuous like what time someone goes to work in the morning, while other potential information would be very sensitive and gross invasions of privacy to have collected and stored.  

    As much as I distrust industry in general to use private data responsibly, I'm equally wary of the idiots discussing the issues above.  They're the ones that are supposed to have a firm enough grasp on the concept to write the rules that protect those of us not savvy enough to protect themselves.

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  • Tuesday, August 23, 2011
  • Real Names On The Internets.

    Some people are getting a little uppity cause Google said "Hey guys can we all just put down our real names on Google Plus?"  Yeah, I've got a pseudonym or two that I'm known to employ, so I completely understand the appeal of writing something up and sending it all over the world without feeling like some pissed-off ogre will come knocking at your door.  That's the beauty of anonymous speech and I think it's an important part of the Internet and life in general.  But I don't agree that anonymous interactions are appropriate in every possible corner of the Internet.  Here's an article that seems to think it's being cheated out of something by Google's social networking reboot.

    For the TL;DR crowd:

    #1: I will be really mean to you because I know who you are.
    #2: I won't say offensive things because I'm afraid of what you will think.
    #3: I will find loopholes.
    #4: I have confused privacy with anonymity.
    #5: I noticed that other services are different.

    I know, I know, I'm taking Google's side again.  And mostly I don't care about the issue, but it does make it easier to figure out if I know someone or not (you ever try to look back through your mid-90's AIM contact list and remember who each SN is?)  Maybe it's cause I'm almost 30 and I enjoy organizing my address book, but I like having a reliable list of contacts at my disposal with addresses and phone numbers, heck even job titles.  It took me like 2 years to figure out that Jeff was "Clark Griswald" on FB for some reason.  If you wanna share things publicly as karebear24 that's fine, there's still twitter and wordpress and digg but I see Google+ more as an auto-updated Rolodex contact card than a soapbox/megaphone for faux-lebrities trying to shoehorn more eyeballs onto their egos like most of these tech analysts want it to be.  You don't like it, fine don't use it.  Frankly I'll be perfectly happy if G+ never takes off enough that local news stations are begging me to Circle them on the Googles.

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  • Thursday, February 10, 2011
  • Check this dude out.

    If I were a pelican I too would sit on the pier waiting for fishermen to feed me their catch.  Fun fact: the pelican's distinctive bill and crazy ass neck area are an evolutionary advancement designed to make tourists take pictures of them.


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  • Wednesday, January 26, 2011
  • We're About Done Here.

    So it seems like some of my thoughts might get passed to someone who can decide to pass them to someone else if they want. Consumerism in action! I also got a call this afternoon from another representative who wanted me to reiterate my problem verbally. I declined since the last rep indicated that my request had been fulfilled. I've gotta say that they certainly had lots of people responding to me fairly quickly, if not completely in the manner I'd hoped. Maybe Sprint is aware there could be some pushback and wants to alleviate people's concerns and complaints.

    I think I showed unprecedented restraint not ripping into the various, irrelevant, repetitious and often essentially meaningless ad copy each of these representatives is apparently required to insert into their replies. Lets look at some now, shall we?

    3G Customers benefit just as much as 4G users when purchasing the HTC EVO with the $10 Premium Data Fee.
    Uh, no. You just said in the prior sentence that 4G customers get faster data speeds. That is a benefit that 3G customers don't get.

    The embedded Premium Services allow you to do more than ever before within the 3G Network.
    I really have no idea what an embedded Premium service is, so it's hard to argue about. But I'm pretty sure you don't either.

    You can take an 8 Megapixal Video and stream directly to the internet.
    Uh, not at the upload speeds I hit using 3G. Also I'm not sure 8 MP video is a thing; isn't video quality measured by resolution and compression? 720p video uses 0.92 MP

    Sprint is extending the $10 Premium Data Add-On to all smartphone activations and upgrades beginning 1/30/11!
    Why do you have an exclamation mark there? That's not good news. 'hey guys, super news, we're raising your rent 14% next month!'

    Rather than imposing limits and overage charges on data plans for wireless phones as competitors have done, Sprint is extending the $10 Premium Data Add-on to all smartphone activations and upgrades beginning 1/30/11.
    Sweet molasses, I just got a wicked case of deja vu. No, wait you actually just said the second half of that statement in the previous sentence. Glad you decided to take another stab at it in a more somber tone. And, yes, instead of waiting to see if I could possibly ever go over the 5GB allotment that doesn't apply to me anyway (hint: I'm never going to use 5GB in a month while I still have wired internet) you decided to preemptively charge a $10 overage fee every single month. Now that's service!

    The $10 add-on is necessary on smartphones because these devices on average use 10x more data than an average feature phone.
    Here's an advanced math lesson for you. 10 * unlimited = unlimited. If you can't handle some folks calling your bluff on an unlimited plan, maybe you shouldn't be selling it to them. Also, I've averaged 7.6 MB of data use per day over the past 6 months with a smart phone. Lets ignore how far under INFINITE MB that is, and look at how much less than the 170.6MB per day a feature phone would have to use to hit the 5GB cap. It's 22.26 TIMES LESS data than a feature phone is allowed to use, not ten times more.

    This Premium Data pack is for unlimited data usage while in 3G/4G Sprint network and also for the rich data experience that smartphones provide whether in 3G or 4G Sprint network.
    I'm tempted to declare this nonsense and move on, but lets break it down. 'Premium data is for unlimited data usage and rich data experience.' Again, I'm not sure what rich data usage is or how it's different, but given the option I'd pick unlimited over rich. And I already had unlimited without the premium pack.

    This $10.00 Premium Data Pack ensure maximum utilization of all the features on smartphones.
    Nope. Standing over my shoulder and making sure I open every app installed (even those crap apps I can't uninstall) would ensure maximum utilization of features.

    Anyway, I'm getting tired of making the same point over and over again, so I'll probably just drop it. The machine wins. But come on, you have to admit that selling a more unlimited data plan is as silly as extra virgin olive oil.

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    2 Comments:

    At 2:01 PM, Blogger kennethj said...

    extra virgin at least you get lower acidity, also could you put some reddit buttons in here somewhere

     
    At 3:47 PM, Blogger jeadly said...

    Hey, I made this template when digg was cool. Get outta here with your reddit.

     

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    Success?

    Thank you for your reply.

    As a smartphone user, Sprint provides you with the best overall value
    and an unlimited Premium Data experience over the Sprint network for
    just $10 per month. Together with our Everything Data Plans with Any
    Mobile, Anytime starting at $69.99, you can save up to $40 a month
    compared to our leading competitors.

    With Premium Data, you can fully engage in all the advanced features of
    your smartphone without the worry of exceeding data usage caps while on
    the Sprint network.  This Premium Data pack is for unlimited data usage
    while in 3G/4G Sprint network and also for the rich data experience that
    smartphones provide whether in 3G or 4G Sprint network.  This $10.00
    Premium Data Pack ensure maximum utilization of all the features on
    smartphones.

    I have also forwarded your feedback regarding the publication to the
    appropriate department so that they can look into this matter.

    Thank you again for contacting us.

    Sincerely,
    Ronald L
    Sprint

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    Lets See If That Does It.

    Michael,
    It's good to know that the plan descriptions on the Sprint web site are accurate, thanks. However that displaces the only difference I could discern between the normal data plan and the premium data plan. Premium data does not refer to 4G and it does not refer to unlimited usage caps. I'm going to assume it does not refer to reduced latency or packet loss. So I'm at a loss as to how this offering is value added.

    Maybe this discrepancy is grammar based. I've been assuming that premium in your usage is an adjective describing the data available to my device. However, since I can detect no additional value an adjective would convey, it sounds like Sprint means to use this term as a noun.

    premium [ˈpriːmɪəm]
    n
    (Business / Commerce) an amount paid in addition to a standard rate, price, wage, etc.; bonus
    adj.
    Of superior quality or value: premium gasoline.

    If this is the case I'd suggest rephrasing your publications and paperwork to refer to the "data premium" instead. That indicates an extra fee on top of the usual rate for unlimited data. Although the user's device is apparently the metric you're using to charge the premium so maybe "device premium" or "smartphone premium" would be more appropriate. These devices are even value added from standard feature phones, so you could use "premium device premium" if you wanted! These are all good.

    I'm also curious whether sprint has taken into account all the features users can take advantage of with advanced handsets. The cameras and processors are listed as reasons that users will use more 3G bandwidth than their feature phone counterparts. However if using a larger portion of the 3G back-haul system is a rationale for a device premium, shouldn't specs that potentially lower traditional data consumption be justification for discount? I'm referring to the WiFi and WiMax radios in these devices that can ease the burden of over-taxed infrastructure by making use of high bandwidth and non-Sprint systems.

    Look, I know all these semantic arguments aren't really going convince you to drop the new fee Sprint is assessing. And I'm actually fine with paying what I pay for service. (I wouldn't complain if it was less, but who would?) But I find it insulting that Sprint thinks they can raise their prices and not admit it in their advertisements. If you need more money to roll out 4G nationwide, that's fine. If you've realized that demand is increasing for smart phones and decided to charge more in response, that's fine too. But I do have a problem with selling the same service for more money while pretending that it also has more value.

    There's nothing that we'll resolve over the phone that we can't resolve via written word. I know you don't make the policies or write the advertising copy. I just wanted to share some thoughts with you as a fairly well informed customer. (If it's confusing to me, my mom isn't even going to try.) This poorly clarified fee makes it harder for me to recommend Sprint for its billing transparency, though I will continue to do so based on your service and products.

    If you still want to speak with me that's fine, though I feel I've articulated myself fairly well and won't have much to add. Please just mark me down in the "customer would prefer less marketing and more substance" column and send it up the ladder. There must be more consumers that feel the same way, I just wanted to mention that I agree.

    Thanks for your time,
    Jeadly

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    More Confusing.

    Thank you for your reply.

    I understand your concern regarding the data usage limitation on the 3G
    network.

    Please know that the unlimited 3G data is available with the plan
    Everything Data Share 1500 active on the account and there is no 5GB cap
    on this plan. I apologize for the breakdown in communication at the
    previous interaction.

    There is the 5GB data cap on the connection card plans Sprint currently
    offering.

    Effective January 31, 2011, the $10.00 data pack will be applicable on
    all the Smartphone. Sprint is extending the $10 Premium Data Add-On to
    all smartphone activations and upgrades beginning 1/30/11! Rather than
    imposing limits and overage charges on data plans for wireless phones as
    competitors have done, Sprint is extending the $10 Premium Data Add-on
    to all smartphone activations and upgrades beginning 1/30/11. The $10
    Premium Data Add-on, previously charged only on HTC EVO 4G, HTC EVO
    Shift 4G and Samsung Epic 4G devices, will now apply to activations and
    upgrades of all smartphones.

    The $10 add-on is necessary on smartphones because these devices on
    average use 10x more data than an average feature phone. Even with this
    charge, Sprint customers still enjoy the best value in wireless.

    I have also arranged the call for you to discuss the issue in details.
    You will receive a call from Sprint toll free number (888) 211 4727 by
    one of our specialists within the next 24 hours.

    We value your business and appreciate the opportunity to answer your
    questions. Please reply to this email or visit sprint.com if we can be
    of assistance.

    Sincerely,
    Michael K.
    Sprint

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  • Tuesday, January 25, 2011
  • My Retort.

    Hi Mark,
    Thanks for your reply. Your list of features seems fairly analogous to the description of three benchmarks I'd mentioned from the website.
    1) fast processor 2) nice camera 3) big screen
    I understand that the processor may power data-based Android applications, and the user could upload high-megapixel images, and that the screen can displayhigher resolution web video. (You also note that the EVO is capable
    of outputting HDMI video, which wouldn't effect data use totals unless
    you're suggesting that they could stream down HD quality video over a
    3G connection.) But the presence of these abilities on a device does
    not equate their constant employment.

    I was pleased to see you mention that the Premium data fee would
    remove the 5GB data cap when connected to the 3G network. This is indeed a difference between just "data" and "premium data". And in
    fact I'd forgotten that Sprint imposes a 5GB monthly data restriction
    on its phones. I can see on the "plans" portion of the sprint.com
    shop page that the Wireless Broadband plans list 5GB in the "monthly
    usage" column. It's a bit odd that the "Everything Data" and
    "Everything Data Family" Plans don't feature a similar column. They
    do however feature this text description that could be misinterpreted
    as mobile data without a monthly cap.

    "Our Everything Data plans give you unlimited data, messages and calls
    to any mobile, anytime while on the Sprint Network."

    It is not in fact $20 for unlimited data, it is an unlimited SMS, MMS,
    mobile to mobile calls plan with a 5GB cap on other data. It costs
    $30 for a premium plan with unlimited data, messages and mobile to
    mobile calls. That was my misunderstanding of the stated details.
    With these new data-hungry devices I understand not wanting
    unsuspecting customers to run up against data caps which make their
    features unusable, or worse to be charged overages. However I would
    think opting-in to truly unlimited data would be a per user decision,
    rather than blanket by phone model. This is the case with minute
    plans across all phone models, with options ranging from 0 to 200 all the way through 3,000 or unlimited minutes. This would be like Sprint
    only offering an unlimited minute plan on a phone that features
    high-fidelity audio hardware.

    If you run through the numbers a user would have to send and receive
    over 170 MB of data each day on his mobile device to run afoul of the
    (admittedly generous) 5GB cap. While this may be feasible on phones streaming 720p video, I think it's unfair to assume all your customers
    are amateur videographers. I've attached the graph of my personal
    data experience which includes an EVO 4G for all months and a Hero
    from June through November, replaced by an Epic 4G in December. As
    you can see, we have trouble cracking 350 MB across two devices most months. This is embarrassingly far from our 10GB limit and I promise
    to try harder in the future.I understand from the footnote that these data do not include
    transactions conducted through the Clearwire WiMax network, but I can
    assure you that those would be minimal additions. I usually only
    enable my 4G radio when in DC or Baltimore to run the FCC speed test
    application. Frankly the fact that 4G data isn't included leads me to
    postulate that Sprint is unable to track 4G usage. It's strange to
    think, but that seems like a more plausible reason to coerce me into
    an unlimited data tier than worries about my 1GHz processor and 5MP
    camera conspiring against my historical usage trends.

    I guess from a consumer perspective I'd appreciate if you would
    highlight the 5GB cap on normal data plans and truly unlimited data
    usage for smartphones on the premium data plan. To market something
    as limitless when in fact it has clearly set limitations dilutes an
    offering that actually delivers on the same promises.

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    A Reply From Sprint.

    Thank you for your reply.

    I understand your concern regarding the $10 Premium Data Fee with
    smartphones.

    HTC Evo & Samsung Epic ’s features are custom made for data-loving
    customers. These data-rich features are available to Samrtphones
    customers regardless if they are in a 3G or 4G network. This will remove
    the 5GB data cap when you are on the 3G network. Plus faster data speeds
    if you live in or travel to one of the available 4G markets.

    “3G Customers benefit just as much as 4G users when purchasing the HTC
    EVO with the $10 Premium Data Fee. The embedded Premium Services allow
    you to do more than ever before within the 3G Network. You can take an 8
    Megapixal Video and stream directly to the internet, or stream a feature
    length film to your HD TV. You can perform complex video conferencing
    for yourself or a group. It takes social media to a whole new level.”

    With Premium Data, you can fully engage in all the advanced features on
    your HTC EVO Epic phones without the worry of exceeding data usage caps
    while on the Sprint network, including:

    * 1GHz Snapdragon processor improves all aspects of the device
    performance: applications will launch faster, navigating on the device
    is quicker; the multimedia experience gives you real-time communication.


    * Dual cameras: An 8 megapixel primary camera with flash; and a video
    camera great for streaming. Its HDMI capabilities allow you to record
    and output HD-quality video to your HD-capable TV.

    * 4.3'' display, one of the largest available on a smart phone,
    maximizes your web browsing and video watching experience.

    I have also arranged a call for further clarifications. One of our
    representatives will call you within the next 48 hours from Sprint toll
    free number (888) 211 4727.

    We value your business and appreciate the opportunity to answer your
    questions. Please reply to this email or visit sprint.com if we can be
    of assistance.

    Sincerely,
    Marc N.
    Sprint

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