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Messages - The Gorn

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1
Discussions - Public / Re: How do you stop spam phonecalls?
« on: September 21, 2017, 04:19:31 PM »
That's what I always did with my landline.  I finally decided to get rid of the landline because I just never used the phone.  At $80 a month it just wasn't needed anymore. 

Very similar deal here. We were paying $85/mo to CenturyLink (which I understand is in rural NJ also) for POTS service with caller ID, voicemail and a few other features. I first tried to strip down the service, but the dumb assholes at CenturyLink kept breaking features that they would say during the phone calls to them would be working. They seemed to go out of their ways to drop features we needed and the price reduction was minimal.

They are a dinosauric company that deserves to collapse.

Finally I ported our landline number to a VOIP service - Voipo.com. We prepaid for two years of all inclusive VOIP phone service for... drum roll... $185 (149+36 in fees and taxes.)

The quality is *exactly* the same as a real landline. Voipo has a ton of control panel functions that allow me to black-hole repeat spammers and also to do things like route phone calls, mark certain incoming phone numbers to automatically record the calls, forward calls, download voice mail as a WAV, etc.

Basically I dropped our phone expense from $85/mo to 7.71/month and the functionality is 100x better. There have been a few glitches but they're well worth dealing with to save $77/month or over $900/year. They supply the VOIP converter box.

Voipo supports "simultaneous ring", where the phone ringing here causes a second phone to ring, and whoever picks up first seizes the phone call. The simultaneous ring is what Nomorobo uses to block phone calls. (you set your phone service to simultaneously ring the Nomorobo number.)

2
Discussions - Public / Re: CCleaner infected with malware
« on: September 20, 2017, 06:22:51 PM »
...what a great loss to the tech support community to find out that these help utilities are infected with malware.  Its just sickening.

Maybe something happened when the company was bought out, that surely is possible like pxsant said. 

I always believed that the PC desktop industry had a bit of a soul and some integrity, more than the smartphone industry, for instance. Companies like Spinrite and CCleaner and Malwarebytes always seemed like shining examples of good citizenship.

Fast forward to 2017 - fuck our customers, we can cash out BIG because we have this 30+ year old reputation we can trade off of, and it'll become someone else's problem.

3
Discussions - Public / Re: CCleaner infected with malware
« on: September 19, 2017, 04:49:31 PM »
CCleaner has been one of the most innocent programs around, right up there with Malwarebytes. Amazing.

4
The spammers are now localizing their junk shit. We've been getting a LOT of what appear to be local same area code calls. Often with the same exchange (the three digits before the final four digits.) They appear to be trading on the idea that the call looks like a neighbor's number, or a local business.

It's infuriating. But it's not exactly new. We've been getting these for months, but increasingly now.

5
Discussions - Public / Re: How do you stop spam phonecalls?
« on: September 17, 2017, 09:16:51 AM »
In fact -

Nomorobo has a big incentive to let VOIP customers on their service for free: DATA COLLECTION. They can SEE spam call floods in real time. The more free members, the more data and the more accuracy.

Brilliant.

6
Discussions - Public / Re: How do you stop spam phonecalls?
« on: September 17, 2017, 08:43:19 AM »
I'd try Nomorobo:  https://www.nomorobo.com/.  The pricing is at the bottom:  $1.99/mo.  VoIP landlines are free and the blocking is very good.  Not 100%, but I'm very happy.  (But maybe that's because the price is right  :-X)

I'm not sure how Nomorobo builds its database.   I think they may do it partially based on the wisdom of crowds because when I report a robocall they missed they ask when I received the call and "just now" is an option.  So if 1,000s of reports come in for any number -- spoofed or not -- "just now" they know it's a fake number.

What a great recommendations! Thanks.

Yes, your hypothesis is correct. There's NO way to predict spam calls in advance. From the short video I watched on their site it seems to be a very real time thing - nomorobo will see an avalanche of calls from the same number and can preemptively decide that it's a number to block really quickly.

Exactly how Gmail and spam blocking sites handle email spam.

Also, maybe VoIP has a protocol where parts of it can't be spoofed and can be used to identify the source.

Not at all. My understanding is that VOIP is a translation of POTS (plain old telephone service) voice calls into a purely digital, TCP networked environment. VOIP is more like an interface layer between old phone system and digital networked voice. The POTS system of direct dial and DID numbers and PBX systems doesn't contain any such "real source of call" info and is basically wide open. The caller over POTS can be programmed to appear to be anyone. VOIP doesn't receive any better data than what a POTS phone would receive.

You can't extract data from a legacy source that isn't there and isn't part of the protocol.

So there's no inherent way to defend against the calls except with flood detection.

7
Discussions - Public / Re: How do you stop spam phonecalls?
« on: September 12, 2017, 08:15:32 AM »
Phone calls are obsolete. I need to get a text only device.   

Communicating with many people, you want the stuff *in writing*.  Text and email constitutes it *in writing* and whatever is said on the phone is vapor and has never been said.

Indeed, the old system of telephone and POTS phone numbers are now almost completely devoid of trust. A caller ID has no meaning today. POTS phone numbers are probably going to go the way of FAX in a few years.

8
Discussions - Public / Re: How do you stop spam phonecalls?
« on: September 11, 2017, 06:09:58 PM »
Here's the problem that has emerged with spam calls:

The callers now spoof legitimate phone numbers, down to your local three digit exchange. So there is virtually no possible defense against spam calls. If you block these numbers you may inadvertently block legitimate callers.

For example, the other day I received a call with the caller ID showing up as KROGER (grocery chain) and the commonly seen three digit exchange. It was one of those G()(*& D(*&(*&   --- "Why hello. Our records show that you stayed at one of our resorts...".

Commercial dialing systems used by telemarketers (such as "predictive calling" systems) have a means to spoof the origination, but do so legitimately with the source number's consent. A few years ago a guy I hired to try telemarketing for me did this. His system first made a test call to my number that would show up to called parties, and I had to press a digit to OK it and give my consent. Once I OKd it, he could make calls on my behalf with his system.

The current scam practice seems to be to use software that lets telemarketers plug in any number with no validation.

9
FTE, Job and Career Discussion / Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
« on: September 05, 2017, 10:40:51 AM »
I have a background in AI as I did it in college and than in defense. I know way to much about it. Device intelligence like what unix posted about fridge, security, your car and other household appliances is not really true AI. Early AI was glorified rule patterns that were like this:

If ABC = XYZ than
   Do  DEF
Else
    If GHI than
        Do DEF

This is an expert system. Rules - based automation. Essentially you have access to higher level testable conditions (IE, you're not testing program variables as such) and you trigger real world actions based on the tests. I never worked with expert systems but I recognize the basic concept.

If Trump wins 2016 election than
   Do  Pepe_memes
Else
    If Hillary wins 2016 than
        Do Nuke Haiti


The other major branch of 1980-90s AI was neural networks, which had the attribute of fuzzy logic. Today you have many models of counter top rice cookers that use fuzzy logic (I guess it avoids burning the rice.)

A good short definition here at the top o' the page: https://www.google.com/search?q=neural+network+fuzzy+logic&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

I surmise that neural networks can "learn" and grow in functional capabilities. Rules based systems are more like compiled software.

In terms of digital computing I don't know of any other AI type tech.

By modern standards of newness, both of these technologies are older than snot.

10
FTE, Job and Career Discussion / Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
« on: September 04, 2017, 02:40:56 PM »
Gorn, serfdom is good if you're making money and treated ok at a job.  Not everyone wants anything more than that.  I always had good jobs until I got older.  After that, I got to pick from the trash.

I agree with that thought.

Except that after you were at your career peak, and this applies to me, too: the "peak" of a typical IT career is so much less today than it was 20-30 years ago in terms of respect and real earning potential.

In other words it's pot luck to identify a technical specialty that will pay off, and THEN the payoff isn't even that much today.

And that picking through the trash phase can come much faster today than it did a decade ago.

11
FTE, Job and Career Discussion / Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
« on: September 03, 2017, 05:08:05 PM »
I'm totally NOT sold on the career potential of pursuing AI or robotics or other leading edge technologies for two basic reasons:

#1. It is NOT a career building decision. It's serfdom. No matter what technical knowledge you have, you ALWAYS drift toward being a serf. This is because work culture and business culture have both deteriorated substantially in the last 30 years.

#2: "AI" and "robotics" are quite broad. You can't compare them to PCs because with the PC revolution of the 80s there was enough specialization of platforms (basically MS-DOS) that it was fairly straightforward to find a sub niche to exploit. With either AI or robotics where is the bubble of dependable market demand that will allow you to learn something reasonably stable that you can find work in? Either AI or robotics encompasses huge broad swaths of buzzwords and technology.

12
FTE, Job and Career Discussion / Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
« on: September 02, 2017, 11:04:17 AM »
The entire topic of predicting trends in order to prepare oneself for career moves or emerging business opportunities is absolutely fascinating to me. Since I've done so poorly at it myself.

13
FTE, Job and Career Discussion / Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
« on: September 02, 2017, 09:35:12 AM »
Easy to say, EXTREMELY hard to do in a truly productive way. I'm not denigrating you, but reflecting on the same issue that has been in my thoughts - "how to avoid not having the right tech under my belt" - answer: absolutely no way possible unless you have personal connections to big league players. One way of doing this: knowing venture capitalists socially who are willing to share ideas.

Your avoidance of Unix example is a PERFECT illustration of this.

One doesn't understand something thoroughly until it stops being an abstraction to you. Studying tech trends in isolation is too abstract to make any difference in one's insight.

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FTE, Job and Career Discussion / Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
« on: September 02, 2017, 09:21:21 AM »
I understand your rationales but you're making the same overly-conservative individual techie thinking on his own judgement that I did in my career. I say you and I and others at our level are incapable of predicting future trends and growth opportunities.

In exactly the same manner as you, I rationalized in the mid-1980s when I could have had some OTJ experience with ethernet, modern networking stacks, and TCP/IP, that computer to computer communications had been around FOREVER. Arpanet was a closed DoD system with no possibility of commercialization.

Therefore TCP/IP was NO BIG DEAL, it succeeded things that performed more or less the same tasks.

I was utterly wrong to disregard this buzzword that everyone at work was yapping about. TCP/IP started to be applied in ways that create commercial opportunities only a few years later. I had plenty of warning.

There was really no trade news to indicate to me that I should jump that bandwagon at that time, either.

I just don't think you or I have a handle on these things and where they will lead which is more important than where they are now.

And it may not be any of these things either.

15
FTE, Job and Career Discussion / Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
« on: September 02, 2017, 08:58:07 AM »
I really find it hard to believe that work in these areas will ever be more than 1-10% of all IT work. 

It's the same old story of keeping IT workers off balance and in their place. 

"You're not good enough.   Do you have any data analytics experience?  No?  Didn't think so."

BTW, Udacity's AI course this fall led by Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun has signed up 80,000+ people.   AI might be interesting, but a huge waste of time in terms of it being an employable skill for the average person.

This is a really interesting opinion.

I felt exactly the same about Arpanet and TCP/IP in the mid-1980s when my DoD employer was hiring some specialists to implement a networking stack in our system. I felt it was too distant to be relevant in any way conceivable. I stuck with my character mode RS232/RS422 protocols where real men coded and sheep ran scared.

Less than about 7 years later (1993ish) the first browsers were being built at CERN and you could get TCP/IP over dial up from anywhere if you paid a subscription. Just a couple years later it's a gold rush.

So I think at least one of those technologies has the potential to be a game changer and profitable for an early adopter.

But the REAL problem at our level is which one? These f***ing bastards aren't going to tell you! They may not even know. Or they do but they want to kill off thousands of careers of underlings in the process of migration so they won't be honest.

Where I agree with you is that for the IT worker it's impossible to know where the best career position is, so the churn of multiple new technologies is a smokescreen that makes it impossible to build or plan a career.

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