Thursday, September 24, 2015

Identity Theft Made Easy

So, I call $company. The automated system guides me through the hoops, in particular, asking for my "secure credentials", normally "the last four". Then it connects me to a representative.

And the first thing the representative says is: "What are your last four"?


I just identified myself to your automated system.
It authenticated me.
Why do *you* need to hear it again?

If this is a part of the $company's protocol, it's redundant.
If this is an unscrupulous employee harvesting personally identifiable information, it's a vulnerability.

The problem is, you cannot distinguish between the two. So either way, we're screwed.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Full-Time Employees: Who wins? Who loses?

Just read The Case Against Full-Time Employees.

There's no TL;DR, read it if you care to compare it with my counterpoint, which is pretty simple:

  • A long term full time employee is a known variable.
  • Freelancers and contractors are the unknown.
  • The more is known, the less uncertainty.
  • The more uncertainty, the more risk.
  • The more risk, the more threat.
  • The more threat, the more contingency.
  • Somebody has to pay for the contingency.
  • Business can't pay the contingency, it has to be profitable.
  • That leaves only one party that can be held responsible for paying.

That party is *you*, the customer.

Note that pay is not necessarily monetary.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Wolfenstein: The New Order - profile sharing bugs

How to reproduce:

  1. Play the game logged in into Steam account A;
  2. Start new game on the same computer logged in into Steam account B to which the game is granted under Steam Family Sharing;
  3. Oops...
  • Expected result: progress, perks and collectibles are separate for Steam account B, they are also preserved for Steam account A;
  • Actual result:
    • Progress is reset for account A;
    • Perks are reset for account A;
    • Collectibles are *not* reset for account B;
    • Steam account B gets stats and ranking where existing stats and ranking for account A is a base to which personal stats of account B are added;
    • Steam account B gets *some* achievements based on above stats calculation.
At the same time, starting the game on a different computer while logged in into Steam account B yields an empty list of everything (no perks, no collectibles, no stats) *but* erroneous world and friends rank obtained before.

Fallout for Steam account A owner: [at least] can't selectively play game chapters even though the game was already completed.

Lesson: different players must play on different computers, or get really sophisticated about backing up game data, taking risks of likewise sophisticated screwups.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cox: Some Thinking Required

TL;DR: if you're an Internet provider, you really gotta have your diagnostic and escalation procedures established and available. Otherwise people will say "you suck".

Above is my connectivity since this morning (normal speed is 50Mbps down with ping in low teens). At this speed, *nothing* works. That is, unless you're willing to stare at the screen for a few minutes. No matter which SpeedTest server I go to, I get the same speed. Looks like throttling.

Home network is fine. According to Cox reps, account is in good standing, and no throttling is activated.

Calling Cox. After 30 minutes on hold, "We gotta make sure your cable modem is connected directly to the computer". Really? In 2014? When it is next to impossible to find a house *without* WiFi? When it is well known that connecting a Windows computer directly to Internet is a bad idea?

Long story short, four Cox reps I was talking to

  • made me reboot equipment multiple times (each of them);
  • failed to realize that the previous person has gone through the "standard process" already;
  • failed to understand and/or acknowledge that the problem can't be resolved by the book (for the simple reason it is *not* in the book);
  • failed to offer me a way to confirm or deny the assertion that the problem is somewhere in Cox network;
  • failed to offer a reasonable way to escalate the problem (one guy just lied to me that he will connect me level 2 support, and simply dumped me onto the next rep from the pool (after fiddling with my equipment for several minutes while keeping me on hold).
As a result, I've spent 90 minutes on hold and talking, with the ultimate solution offered being a service visit.

...on Saturday.

I was about to say that I can't wait until Google Fiber gets here, but then remembered that their customer service is even worse.

UPDATE (6 hours later): It gets worse by the hour:

My only hope is that I'm not the only affected and that either other people will finally notice, or whatever is causing this will finally collapse and cause an outage that *can* be reported and fixed "by the book".

UPDATE (8 hours later): It's still crumbling down, hopefully it'll go beyond the pale and back by the morning:

And when the sun came back

...but now I have to spend more time on hold to *cancel* that service appointment.