March 28, 2014

25 Reasons Why Cable Technicians Hate You

By JaySlatkin June 13, 2008

It is no secret that we dole out criticism of the cable companies, perhaps, on a daily basis. We thought it might be fair and equitable to learn what cable technicians hate about the customers. We found out about this post written by a cable tech who isn’t afraid to let it fly, “And every once in a while, we get the one customer, and we just fucking hate you,” says “InstallerTechJeff” on Cable Rant Forums. The 25 reasons, inside…

First off I would have to say, I really love being a cable guy. It is a very respectable job, and I have been doing cable for just over 2 years. It’s a decent job with good benefits. I love people. I love being around people. Particularly in the area I work in, I don’t typically have to deal with your everyday morons. Most customers are very happy to see me arrive, and I am usually very happy to meet them as well.

Keep some things in mind though. First of all, we are human beings, and if we at any point realize that there is going to be a substantial amount of work to do in order to get your services up and running, it may and probably will become irritating.

And every once in a while, we get the one customer, and we just fucking hate you.

1. We call you to confirm the appointment and to let you know we’re on the way. We get there. You’re not home, so we leave, and we end up having to come back to do the damn job because you are liars and said you were home, when you weren’t. We are on schedules you asshole. You can wait another day or until the evening to get your shit installed.

2. Your dogs shit everywhere in your yard. Pick that shit up, we have to work in it. Slob.

3. Your dogs shit in your house. Shoot your dog please.

4. Your children are climbing on us. Control them. I for one love kids, and love playing with them but put that bugger in the crib sometimes.

5. Your house smells like ass. Clean up your plates that have plants growing on them now. This bowl that had milk in it is molding and looks like green beans now. It’s gross. Pick up your shitty diapers, and spray some air freshener or I’m coming back in with a surgical mask on (yes we have those), and I would prefer not to hurt your feelings.

6. Your router. Do it your damn self.

7. Offer us a drink, it’s hot, we’re probably going out of our way to make sure your shit works!

8. We’re not going to assemble your piece of crap computer! We’re not going to fix it either, we’re the cable company, not Geek Squad.

9. We’re not there to set up your surround sound system. We are not Circuit City.

10. MOVE YOUR CRAP OUT OF THE WAY!!! If we have to access your attic to change splitter configurations (or to do a wallfish), move your own shit out of the way, it’s not our job to move your boxes and luggage in your closet. We’re not Mayflower or any other moving company. In fact we’re not there to move any furniture, electronics, computers, clothing, boxes, etc. IF ANYTHING HAS TO BE MOVED, YOU NEED TO MOVE IT OR YOU DON’T GET YOUR CABLE. If we break something we have to pay for it. Here’s a solution, move your shit before we get there (ie. dressers, entertainment centers — move these AWAY from cable and AC outlets, so we have access)

11. If you are ordering Internet make sure you have a computer there for us to test it on when we arrive. common sense.

12. If you are ordering digital phone, you don’t need a phone there (we have test phones), but don’t expect us to run 3 phone outlets for free. the sh*t aint happening.

13. If your installation has to get rescheduled, don’t flip out. Its not our fault your drop got cut and has to be road-bored, and we are only adhering to our companies policies.

14. You don’t get a new box every time a new one comes out. That’s not how it works. They are all designed to do the same thing. If there’s a problem we’ll replace it, but don’t waste our time.

15. YOUR INTERNET IS NOT SLOW, YOUR COMPUTER IS!!! Take a few weeks to learn about how computers work. It’s important nowadays because computers rule the world right now. 95% of the time, if the internet is slow, your computer either has too much porn/spyware/adware/virus, etc to properly function. Run the recovery disk or fix it otherwise. Because if the signal levels are correct, your internet is going to be fast. modems usually don’t just go bad.

16. Dogs – A lot of us love animals but put those bitches up if they bite. It’s not funny. That’s why so many of my teammates hate dogs!! I love them, and most other animals but some of you idiots don’t train your animals. Put the mean ones away somewhere (preferably somewhere that is not important to the cable installation).

17. Put some damn clothes on. It was your choice for you to have us there at 8am, not ours. I’d rather be sleeping still. So get your ass up.

18. Coax wiring — don’t try to do it yourself, because you probably don’t know what youre doing. Radio Shack and Wal-Mart coax cable sucks. It’s usually RG-59 equivalent and is good for nothing. We use RG-6 or better. and the connectors, and dielectric/outer sheet layer differences on our cable make worlds of difference. Thanks for trying to help, but trust us on this one.

19. If your house is over 450 feet from the tap (or pole) don’t expect premium services (digital cable, internet, or digital phone) to work well, if they work at all. You probably shouldnt even have cable.

20. If you are ordering digital cable, make sure you have a working TV there for us to test it on when we arrive.

21. Contractors are hard workers, but there are bad eggs everywhere (contractors & in-house alike). Some of us were contractors before we worked directly for the company! Don’t hate!

22. Don’t get an attitude, when speaking to the tech, unless the tech has one first.

23. We physically CANNOT give you free HBO. your set-top box is provisioned from the office, not from your house.
This request, although typically offered for humor-purposes, is getting old.

24. THERE IS NO CABLE SWITCH. YOUR CABLE IS NOT TURNED ON WITH ANY TYPE OF SWITCH OR SIMILAR DEVICE. IN FACT: Less than 1% of my jobs are connected properly with good parts where I only have to connect it at the tap. We almost always have to tone outlets out, sometimes run new ones, scrub old ones, add equipment to your account, correct job codes, etc.

25. If we are not assigned your installation, we do NOT want to pick it up early. Unless the tech is VERY bored with no other work, he will probably not want to do it early, don’t ask.

And finally. If you feel like we did a good job AT LEAST let us know, and gratuity is nice too. You tip the Pizza man and wait staff at a restaurant right? Well they are just doing their job, and if they are nice and give you the service you want, you tip them. We work harder for our money, and we are way underpaid too, so don’t be shy!! We remember these things!

We don’t expect $50 or anything crazy like that, in fact we don’t expect anything, but if we have to spend 3 or 4 hours crawling your house to rewire it, and hang a new aerial drop just so you can have service. Come on. And be nice to the service/repair techs too!! They have WAY more experience and they have to work just as hard (or harder) to fix an issue the installer left behind.

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RIAA Demands Personal Details of Pirating YouTube Users

RIAA Demands Personal Details of Pirating YouTube Users
By Ernesto
on March 27, 2014
C: 68

Breaking

After focusing on P2P file-sharers in the past, the RIAA is now going after pirating YouTube users. This month the music group obtained a subpoena at a federal court in California and has asked YouTube to hand over the IP-address, email and all other identifying information related to user(s) who uploaded two leaked Chris Brown videos.

youtubesadsmallTo many, uploading a music video of their favorite artist seems to be a relatively harmless act, but the major record labels clearly disagree.

Up until now “pirating” YouTube users would only get a slap on the wrist by Google, and have their YouTube accounts terminated at worst. However, it appears that the RIAA has had enough and is now going after the uploaders of two leaked Chris Brown tracks.

The RIAA’s quest started earlier this month when Vice President Anti-Piracy Mark McDevitt contacted YouTube personally to demand the takedown of the leaked tracks “New Flame” and “Die it For You.”

“We are asking you for your immediate assistance in stopping this unauthorized activity,” McDevitt wrote in a letter to the video hosting service.

“Specifically, we request that you ensure the removal of the infringing files from your system, or that you disable access to the infringing files, and that you inform the site operator of the illegality of his or her conduct,” he added.

YouTube was quick to comply, as both videos are unavailable at the time of writing. However, the RIAA didn’t stop there. Instead, the music group went to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to obtain a subpoena for the personal details of the uploader, or uploaders.

In their request the RIAA explains that it requires a subpoena to identify those responsible for the uploads. Among other things, they are looking for the IP-addresses and emails associated with the accounts in question.

“The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identity or identities of the individual or individuals assigned to this URL,” RIAA writes. “This information will only be used for the purposes of protecting the rights granted to our members, the sound recording copyright owners, under [the DMCA].”

The RIAA’s request for a subpoena was granted by a court clerk on the same day. This means that YouTube now has until April 15 to hand over the requested information, unless it decides to appeal.

RIAA subpoena to YouTube

subpoena-riaa-youtube

To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that the RIAA has gone after YouTube users. Whether this is an isolated incident has yet to be seen, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if the record labels want to set an example.

The RIAA has been an active proponent of criminalizing those who “stream” copyrighted videos in the past. While that failed through the PIPA bill, this may be an opportunity for them to test the water under current copyright laws.

In any case, YouTube users should be aware that the RIAA and others can obtain their personal details on a whim.

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December 4, 2013

Facebook Uses “Social Signals” and Profile Information to Stop Piracy

 

Social networking giant Facebook has been granted a patent to use profile information to analyze whether shared files are “pirated” or not. The data is carefully analyzed using several social indicators including the interests of the poster and recipient, their geographical location, and their social relationship. According to Facebook the patent can help the company to “minimize legal liabilities,” but whether users will be happy remains to be seen.

facebayIn common with other sites dealing with user-generated content, Facebook has to battle a constant stream of unauthorized copyright material.

When it comes to targeting infringement Facebook has a better track record than its Russian counterpart VKontakte, which may be due to its progressive anti-piracy measures.

TorrentFreak has learned that one of the anti-piracy strategies developed by the company uses the social profile information of Facebook users and their connections to others as a factor in determining whether a shared file is copyright-infringing or not. Facebook was granted a patent for its invention today, but it’s not known whether the technology is already being used on a wide-scale.

The patent in question is named “Using social signals to identify unauthorized content on a social networking system” and in the introduction Facebook describes the wealth of personal and social information the company can tap into.

“”[…] users have been voluntarily divulging more of their personal information, such as their friends, geographic location, preferred television shows and movies, hobbies, and activities to social networks,” Facebook notes, adding that they can also see who people communicate with and who they are connected to.

Taken together this is a treasure trove of information, but one that’s currently underutilized. With its new anti-piracy tool, however, Facebook hopes to use this intelligence to predict whether shared content is legitimate or not.

“While all of this information is recorded and stored, it has not been used to predict the nature of any content items that users interact with. In particular, the social activity surrounding a piece of content on a social network has not been used to predict whether the content is unauthorized,” Facebook writes.

 

 

Facebook’s social anti-piracy tool

facebook-pirate

 

 

The patented technology can be used to detect a wide variety of unauthorized content, but piracy in particular is a problem for social networks, Facebook explains.

“Some users abuse the content posting feature by posting content items that infringe on copyright laws or otherwise violate the social network’s terms of use. For example, users might use the content sharing feature to post chapters from popular novels, episodes of television shows, or links to web pages on external domains that might contain similar copyrighted content.”

By using social signals to detect copyright infringing links and files, Facebook believes that operators of social networking sites can “minimize legal liabilities.”

To come to an accurate estimate of the infringing nature of a file, the patented system can use all social indicators available to it, including what people “like” and where the live.

“The social networking system may collect social signals about the content such as the diversity of the viewers of the content, the relationship between the viewers and another user or other entity that is featured or tagged in the content, and the relationship between the viewers and the user who posted the content,” Facebook writes.

“The social signals are then used to calculate a series of aggregated metrics to generate a prediction for whether the content is an unauthorized use of the social networking system.”

The final step is to delete the allegedly pirated files or links, or hand them over for a more detailed review.

Facebook doesn’t reveal whether the patented system is already in use or which personal details of Facebook users are considered. However, according to its privacy policy the company can use all available user information to protect “rights or property” of Facebook and others.

Nonetheless, not all Facebook users will be happy to see that everything they do is being carefully screened for hints of piracy.

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July 27, 2013

Skype says it will kill its Desktop API by end of 2013

By

summer-of-mobile3

Summary:It started life as Skype Public API in 2004 and was reborn in 2011, but it is time for Skype Desktop API to sail into the sunset. Yes, Microsoft is killing it and is asking developer to instead embrace Skype URIs.

summer-of-mobile3

Skype, the Microsoft-owned internet telephony service, is planning to kill its Desktop API (application programming interface), according to an email sent to developers by Chris Andrews, Head of Skype Developer Program. Skype wants folks to use Skype URIs as its believes that will allow the developers to access Skype via various platforms — mobile, web and desktop.

Skype is deeply enmeshed into the new Windows. Skype URIs need the Skype client for all communications, as Skype explains on its developer website. The action is to some extent driven by the growth of Skype on mobile, which has actually helped the company grow its usage.

The Desktop API enabled third party applications to communicate with the Skype network and is going to stop working sometime by the end of 2013. “Although we will continue to support the Desktop API for the rest of 2013, in September the App Directory will close,” Andrews wrote. (Full text of his email is below) I have reached out to a few third party app developers and will update the story with their reactions.

The Desktop API is the descendant of the Skype Public API that was first introduced in 2004. In November 2011, Microsoft introduced the Desktop API with much fanfare. Developer chief Andrews at the time told software industry trade publication, the SD Times:

“Skype released its first public API in 2004,” he said. “The biggest request was for a so-called ‘headless version’ of Skype that was all the functionality of the application without the user interface. That was available through SkypeKit in June 2010. Now, we’ve added a video API so developers can embed Skype video into their Mac, Windows and Linux desktop applications.”

Here is Chris Andrews’ complete note.

I am writing to inform you that due to some changes we are making to improve the overall Skype Experience, the Desktop API will cease to function correctly from September 2013 and we have made the decision to de-commission it.

As you may know, Skype has been investing in technology improvements, which will significantly benefit Skype users across all platforms, especially Mobile devices (see “Skype’s Mobile Future”). These changes will significantly improve the speed of delivery of calls and messages, whilst retaining excellent battery life. In addition, as more people are using Skype on more devices, we are also working hard to create a more familiar and consistent Skype experience across all of the major platforms (see “Skype passes 100M Android Installs and Launches Redesigned 4.0″).

As a consequence of this, we have decided to retire our Desktop APIs. These APIs were originally created in 2004 and do not support mobile application development. Going forward, developers will be able to write applications, which use features of Skype across all the major platforms, through the use of Skype URIs. We believe this will allow developers to create innovative mobile, web and desktop solutions, while retaining a familiar and consistent Skype experience across devices.

Although we will continue to support the Desktop API for the rest of 2013, in September the App Directory will close, chat functionality through the API will stop working and we will begin notifying users with messaging in Skype for Desktop. As a result, we wanted to give you notice now so you have the opportunity to modify your application in response to these changes.

I want to personally thank you for your investment in Skype throughout the years. This decision was not made lightly. Going forward, we hope you will consider the use of URIs as a way of developing innovative Skype powered solutions. If you have any questions or comments about the changes, please contact us at skypedev@microsoft.com . We’ll do our best to address them in a timely fashion.

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How Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages

 

• Secret files show scale of Silicon Valley co-operation on Prism
• Outlook.com encryption unlocked even before official launch
• Skype worked to enable Prism collection of video calls
• Company says it is legally compelled to comply

 
 
Skype logo

Skype worked with intelligence agencies last year to allow Prism to collect video and audio conversations. Photograph: Patrick Sinkel/AP

Microsoft has collaborated closely with US intelligence services to allow users’ communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to circumvent the company’s own encryption, according to top-secret documents obtained by the Guardian.

The files provided by Edward Snowden illustrate the scale of co-operation between Silicon Valley and the intelligence agencies over the last three years. They also shed new light on the workings of the top-secret Prism program, which was disclosed by the Guardian and the Washington Post last month.

The documents show that:

• Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web chats on the new Outlook.com portal;

• The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on Outlook.com, including Hotmail;

• The company worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which now has more than 250 million users worldwide;

• Microsoft also worked with the FBI’s Data Intercept Unit to “understand” potential issues with a feature in Outlook.com that allows users to create email aliases;

• In July last year, nine months after Microsoft bought Skype, the NSA boasted that a new capability had tripled the amount of Skype video calls being collected through Prism;

• Material collected through Prism is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a “team sport”.

The latest NSA revelations further expose the tensions between Silicon Valley and the Obama administration. All the major tech firms are lobbying the government to allow them to disclose more fully the extent and nature of their co-operation with the NSA to meet their customers’ privacy concerns. Privately, tech executives are at pains to distance themselves from claims of collaboration and teamwork given by the NSA documents, and insist the process is driven by legal compulsion.

In a statement, Microsoft said: “When we upgrade or update products we aren’t absolved from the need to comply with existing or future lawful demands.” The company reiterated its argument that it provides customer data “only in response to government demands and we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers”.

In June, the Guardian revealed that the NSA claimed to have “direct access” through the Prism program to the systems of many major internet companies, including Microsoft, Skype, Apple, Google, Facebook and Yahoo.

Blanket orders from the secret surveillance court allow these communications to be collected without an individual warrant if the NSA operative has a 51% belief that the target is not a US citizen and is not on US soil at the time. Targeting US citizens does require an individual warrant, but the NSA is able to collect Americans’ communications without a warrant if the target is a foreign national located overseas.

Since Prism’s existence became public, Microsoft and the other companies listed on the NSA documents as providers have denied all knowledge of the program and insisted that the intelligence agencies do not have back doors into their systems.

Microsoft’s latest marketing campaign, launched in April, emphasizes its commitment to privacy with the slogan: “Your privacy is our priority.”

Similarly, Skype’s privacy policy states: “Skype is committed to respecting your privacy and the confidentiality of your personal data, traffic data and communications content.”

But internal NSA newsletters, marked top secret, suggest the co-operation between the intelligence community and the companies is deep and ongoing.

The latest documents come from the NSA’s Special Source Operations (SSO) division, described by Snowden as the “crown jewel” of the agency. It is responsible for all programs aimed at US communications systems through corporate partnerships such as Prism.

The files show that the NSA became concerned about the interception of encrypted chats on Microsoft’s Outlook.com portal from the moment the company began testing the service in July last year.

Within five months, the documents explain, Microsoft and the FBI had come up with a solution that allowed the NSA to circumvent encryption on Outlook.com chats

A newsletter entry dated 26 December 2012 states: “MS [Microsoft], working with the FBI, developed a surveillance capability to deal” with the issue. “These solutions were successfully tested and went live 12 Dec 2012.”

Two months later, in February this year, Microsoft officially launched the Outlook.com portal.

Another newsletter entry stated that NSA already had pre-encryption access to Outlook email. “For Prism collection against Hotmail, Live, and Outlook.com emails will be unaffected because Prism collects this data prior to encryption.”

Microsoft’s co-operation was not limited to Outlook.com. An entry dated 8 April 2013 describes how the company worked “for many months” with the FBI – which acts as the liaison between the intelligence agencies and Silicon Valley on Prism – to allow Prism access without separate authorization to its cloud storage service SkyDrive.

The document describes how this access “means that analysts will no longer have to make a special request to SSO for this – a process step that many analysts may not have known about”.

The NSA explained that “this new capability will result in a much more complete and timely collection response”. It continued: “This success is the result of the FBI working for many months with Microsoft to get this tasking and collection solution established.”

A separate entry identified another area for collaboration. “The FBI Data Intercept Technology Unit (DITU) team is working with Microsoft to understand an additional feature in Outlook.com which allows users to create email aliases, which may affect our tasking processes.”

The NSA has devoted substantial efforts in the last two years to work with Microsoft to ensure increased access to Skype, which has an estimated 663 million global users.

One document boasts that Prism monitoring of Skype video production has roughly tripled since a new capability was added on 14 July 2012. “The audio portions of these sessions have been processed correctly all along, but without the accompanying video. Now, analysts will have the complete ‘picture’,” it says.

Eight months before being bought by Microsoft, Skype joined the Prism program in February 2011.

According to the NSA documents, work had begun on smoothly integrating Skype into Prism in November 2010, but it was not until 4 February 2011 that the company was served with a directive to comply signed by the attorney general.

The NSA was able to start tasking Skype communications the following day, and collection began on 6 February. “Feedback indicated that a collected Skype call was very clear and the metadata looked complete,” the document stated, praising the co-operation between NSA teams and the FBI. “Collaborative teamwork was the key to the successful addition of another provider to the Prism system.”

ACLU technology expert Chris Soghoian said the revelations would surprise many Skype users. “In the past, Skype made affirmative promises to users about their inability to perform wiretaps,” he said. “It’s hard to square Microsoft’s secret collaboration with the NSA with its high-profile efforts to compete on privacy with Google.”

The information the NSA collects from Prism is routinely shared with both the FBI and CIA. A 3 August 2012 newsletter describes how the NSA has recently expanded sharing with the other two agencies.

The NSA, the entry reveals, has even automated the sharing of aspects of Prism, using software that “enables our partners to see which selectors [search terms] the National Security Agency has tasked to Prism”.

The document continues: “The FBI and CIA then can request a copy of Prism collection of any selector…” As a result, the author notes: “these two activities underscore the point that Prism is a team sport!”

In its statement to the Guardian, Microsoft said:

We have clear principles which guide the response across our entire company to government demands for customer information for both law enforcement and national security issues. First, we take our commitments to our customers and to compliance with applicable law very seriously, so we provide customer data only in response to legal processes.

Second, our compliance team examines all demands very closely, and we reject them if we believe they aren’t valid. Third, we only ever comply with orders about specific accounts or identifiers, and we would not respond to the kind of blanket orders discussed in the press over the past few weeks, as the volumes documented in our most recent disclosure clearly illustrate.

Finally when we upgrade or update products legal obligations may in some circumstances require that we maintain the ability to provide information in response to a law enforcement or national security request. There are aspects of this debate that we wish we were able to discuss more freely. That’s why we’ve argued for additional transparency that would help everyone understand and debate these important issues.

In a joint statement, Shawn Turner, spokesman for the director of National Intelligence, and Judith Emmel, spokeswoman for the NSA, said:

The articles describe court-ordered surveillance – and a US company’s efforts to comply with these legally mandated requirements. The US operates its programs under a strict oversight regime, with careful monitoring by the courts, Congress and the Director of National Intelligence. Not all countries have equivalent oversight requirements to protect civil liberties and privacy.

They added: “In practice, US companies put energy, focus and commitment into consistently protecting the privacy of their customers around the world, while meeting their obligations under the laws of the US and other countries in which they operate.”

• This article was amended on 11 July 2013 to reflect information from Microsoft that it did not make any changes to Skype to allow Prism collection on or around July 2012.

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