All that remains is the laptop

Just watched the Apple computer event and it was really boring. All they presented were Macbook Pros. No Mac Pro, no iMac, no mini, nothing. Oh, and no Apple display.

The message I got from all this, and from the connectivity on the new Macbook Pro, is that Apple thinks that the Macbook Pro, in combination with the new LG 5k displays, actually can do the job of the iMac and the Mac Pro. That you don’t really need anything else. Or rather, that they can’t be bothered with it all anymore. Even during the ostentative computer event, they couldn’t keep from gushing about the iPhone instead. They’re simply bored with computers.

The Air is clearly on it’s last leg. The cheapest Macbook will cost substantially more than the Air when it’s gone, which to me means that schools won’t be able to afford them any longer. So that leaves, what? Lenovo and Dell?

It feels like the end of an era. I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft is the new Apple. Just look at the Surface Studio.

Our specialist who works on the trace rout department

So from last night sometime, I couldn’t get at my email server. Nobody here could. From another net it worked fine. So I figure I need to talk to Bluehost.com, the hoster. I had a chat earlier today that I had to cut short due to other things. And due to me being close to completely losing it. So this is act II. The only thing that kept me sane during this hour-long confrontation with inanity was the thought of publishing it here. So here you are. Bluehost support in all its glory.

Continue reading “Our specialist who works on the trace rout department”

Medical IT crap, the why

(Continuing from my previous post.)

I think the major problem is that buyers specify domain functionality, but not the huge list of “non-functional requirements”. So anyone fulfilling the functional requirements can sell their piece of crap as lowest bidder.

Looking at a modern application, non-functional requirements are stuff like resilience, redundancy, load management, the whole security thing, but also cut-and-paste in a myriad of formats, a number of import and export data formats, ability to quick switch between users, ability to save state and transfer user state from machine to machine, undo/redo, accessibility, error logging and fault management, adaptive user interface layouts, and on and on.

I’d estimate that all these non-functional requirements can easily be the largest part of the design and development of a modern application, but since medical apps are, apparantly, never specified with any of that, they’re artificially cheap, and, not to mince words, a huge pile of stinking crap.

It’s really easy to write an app that does one thing, but it’s much harder and more expensive to write an app that actually works in real environments and in conjunction with other applications. So, this is on the purchasers’ heads. Mainly.

A day in the life of “medical IT security”

This article is an excellent description of some of the serious problems related to IT security in healthcare.

Even though medical staff actively circumvent “security” in a myriad inventive ways, it’s pretty clear that 99% of the blame lies with IT staff and vendors being completely out of touch with the actual institutional mission. To be able to create working and useable systems, you *must* understand and be part of the medical work. So far, I’ve met very few technologists even remotely interested in learning more about the profession they’re ostensibly meant to be serving. It boggles the mind, but not in a good way.

Some quotes:

“Unfortunately, all too often, with these tools, clinicians cannot do their job—and the medical mission trumps the security mission.”

“During a 14-hour day, the clinician estimated he spent almost 1.5 hours merely logging in.”

“…where clinicians view cyber security as an annoyance rather than as an essential part of patient safety and organizational mission.”

“A nurse reports that one hospital’s EMR prevented users from logging in if they were already logged in somewhere else, although it would not meaningfully identify where the offending session was.” 

This one, I’ve personally experienced when visiting another clinic. Time and time again. You then have to call back to the office and ask someone to reboot or even unplug the office computer, since it’s locked to my account and noone at the office is trusted with an admin password… Yes, I could have logged out before leaving, assuming I even knew I was going to be called elsewhere then. Yes, I could log out every time I left the office, but logging in took 5-10 minutes. So screen lock was the only viable solution.

“Many workarounds occur because the health IT itself can undermine the central mission of the clinician: serving patients.”

“As in other domains, clinicians would also create shadow systems operating in parallel to the health IT.”

Over here, patients are given full access to medical records over the ‘net, which leads physicians to write down less in the records. Think this through to its logical conclusion…

Apple quality control needs work

Just wasted several hours trying to find out why home sharing stopped working on my Apple TV. I’ve got the one with optical audio output, can’t remember if that is called the gen 2 or 3, but you know which one I mean.

Duck-ducked it thoroughly, finding a truckload of similar complaints over the last two years, which in itself wasn’t too encouraging. Most recommended logging out and in from home sharing, changing the computer name in system settings, and so on. Nothing helped.

Finally I changed the wireless from my very current tower Airport Extreme to a slightly older, flat square, Airport Extreme, and lo, all the misery resolved itself. Which reminded me that the Extreme did an update maybe two days ago.

I’m getting increasingly bad vibes about Apple quality, or lack thereof. 

You’ll never miss your anus ’till it’s gone

John Oliver did a segment on the IRS, calling it the “anus of the nation”, something you don’t like, but can’t live without.

Now, I know you guys (USA) hate when we point out how far behind you are, but I really can’t help myself.

In this segment we have IRS people complaining of the ugly state of checks they receive. Checks… really? What is this, the middle ages?

People also complain about waiting lines to get in to get IRS assistance. Really? You don’t have phones? Ah, yes, they don’t work. Over here, the IRS actually answer the phones, or they call you back. They really do. They’re polite and very thorough. The few times I needed to ask about anything, I got so much information and advice there was no way I could misunderstand. An hour on the phone with two advisers is nothing out of the ordinary. On the other hand, I’ve only ever needed to ask for anything twice the last fifteen years, since the tax code here is actually very simple. At least in comparison.

Your forms are complicated, the tax code changes all the time, and regular people can’t handle it. Really? Over here they’re one page, with a second page if you have a registered company. That second page is replaced by a two page form if you own a limited partnership (as I do).

The form itself is already filled in with your income according to their information, your withholdings, and your regular and interest deductions. If you own stock, all the capital gains and losses are also already filled in. The “owner of a partnership” form has some complicated calculations, but those are done for you in a webbased form after you fill in how many shares you have. It carries the totals over from year to year automatically.

Oh, and BTW, you can do the whole thing over the internet. It requires that you have a full two factor authentication, but most people here have that already from the bank. And that authentication works most anywhere. Someone without a company normally only needs to sign the form without filling out anything at all.

The end result is that even for a company owner, the personal tax return takes something like ten or 20 minutes to do, is totally painless, and actually almost fun. This also causes very few people here to hate the IRS, or even much complain about it. At least compared to the US. That’s the way to run a tax system.

Payza takes the sleazy price

Payza must earn some kind of prize for this… got this email today:

Dear Martin Wehlou,

Since you haven’t logged in for 18 months, your account is now dormant and a monthly inactivity fee of $10 USD is being applied. 

For more information on dormant accounts, please review Section 12.1 of our User Agreement.

To avoid the dormant account fee, all you need to do is log in to your account. So come on by and see what we’ve got for you!

• Personalize your account and make it even safer by setting up your customizable avatar and welcome message.
• It’s a small world after all – send money to loved ones in over 200 countries. Always free, always fast. 
• Our fresh account design makes for easy account navigation – find what you need, when you want it.

Thanks for choosing Payza, 

Team Payza

 
My first thought was: phish! Goes to phishtank! But no, this was real. Checked headers and links. Real as it gets.
 
Checked the user agreement, and yes, there it was. A “dormant fee”. And, an unspecified “reactivation fee” after dormancy. It was on page 24 of a total of 41 pages.
 
And, no, no way to cancel the account anywhere. I did find an unobtrusive link to delete the credit card, though. Wrote a support “request” to them:
I’ve received an email from you that I initially was certain was a phish, but actually seems to be real. You’re starting to charge me for *not* using my account… Oh, man, this is so sleazy I can’t believe it.
Additionally, there seems to be no way to cancel my account either. What I did was remove my credit card. If you so much as attempt to charge me, I’ll file a complaint through the bank.

I think you may have earned the epithet of most sleazy, not to say borderline criminal, internet company yet.

So, just remove that account pronto.

 

The basic idea here seems to be to exploit people who have changed their email addresses and won’t get the warning. Or who for some other reason aren’t paying attention.
 

The CIA Campaign to Steal Apple’s Secrets

The CIA Campaign to Steal Apple’s Secrets:

A few months after Comey’s remarks, Robert Litt, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, also appeared at Brookings. “One of the many ways in which Snowden’s leaks have damaged our national security is by driving a wedge between the government and providers and technology companies, so that some companies that formerly recognized that protecting our nation was a valuable and important public service now feel compelled to stand in opposition,” Litt said. He appealed to corporations to embrace “a solution that does not compromise the integrity of encryption technology but that enables both encryption to protect privacy and decryption under lawful authority to protect national security.”

(Via The Intercept)

The official line seems to be that it’s ok for the US government to break any law or constitution it pleases as long as the public doesn’t know. It’s not the governments fault for breaking the law, it’s Snowden’s fault for letting us know.

The governments (all of them) tried to drive a wedge between the tech companies and the users but failed, at least a little bit. Litt turns this narrative around and claims that Snowden’s revelations are driving a wedge between the tech companies and the government. No, it’s the act of the governments that is driving a wedge between themselves and the rest of us, tech companies, providers, and the public alike.

The pure gall is breathtaking.

Do read the article. There’s a lot of worrying stuff in there, including the attempt to subvert the XCode tool chain in order to build in malware into other developer’s executables.