Category Archives: Irreverent

The Casio Databank and Trash of the Future

Casio DatabankWith the Apple Watch coming out this Monday, it’s important to ask, “Why would anyone want this?” It’s a valid question. It’s a question I asked when people started sporting watches with calculators on them decades ago. And the answer then was the same as I believe the answer will be today: no one does. But in this case, Apple has an installed base of people who think being a college educated upper middle class person requires having lots of Apple devices. So I figure the Apple Watch will fare better than the Casio Databank. But still, I’m going to think them silly until I’m wearing one. And at best that will be a long time because I’m a late adopter. Just ask Will.

The one thing about the Casio Databank Apple Watch that does make it potentially useful is being able to pay for your groceries by holding your forearm up to the cashier as if you were using some until now secret Vulcan ability. Or perhaps better, a Jedi trick, “These are not the groceries that must be paid for.” Of course, it is just normal Apple technology — namely, Apple Pay. And Apple Pay is the system that Eddy Cue told us absolutely, positively could not be hacked! You know, because no information was being transferred.

Of course, if you believed that pitch, you probably also believe that the mind meld is a real thing too. But alas, that was just Leonard Nimoy acting. Ultimately, if Apple is to know if you have money to pay for that broccoli, it will have to have access to your bank account. And thieves, no idiots themselves, figured out that it was during that phase of the transaction that they would attack. The results? According to one security expert “the fraud rate [is] a stupendous $6 per $100 of transactions.”

I know that I can be hard on Apple. It isn’t that I don’t like the company. I think that in general, it is a great hardware company. It tends to be overpriced. And over the last decade, the quality has really slipped. But it’s still good. What it is not — and what it has never been — is a good software company. And that’s fine as long as they completely control the hardware platform. But when not, expect problems. But in this case, Apple’s claims about security was just hubris. Nothing is ever that secure — especially when it comes to money.

And the first fixes that Apple has released for this problem seem to have made things worse. This, of course, is one of the big reasons that I’m a late adopter. I really don’t see what people get from being an early adopter. When people excitedly show me new stuff, I am not impressed. I am grateful. I think, “Thank you for doing the beta testing so that this technology will work properly by the time I finally decide to use it.” Of course, in the case of the Casio Databank Apple Watch, I’m skeptical. As it is, I long ago gave up my watch for my phone. Unless I can talk on my watch, I don’t see the point. And I don’t buy that much broccoli anyway. I’m more a cauliflower man, myself.

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Filed under In the News, Irreverent

Professional IT Work Is Hard

Brandon A, IT ProMeet Brandon A. He’s an IT pro! You probably haven’t seen his smiling face on your webpages because you are not an “IT Pro” and so can’t really make much use of the services of Spiceworks. That’s because it is more an “experts talk to experts” thing. It reminds me very much of the Experts-Exchange — a place where IT professionals go to ask and answer each other’s questions. Why it is that Spiceworks has been given over a $100 million in venture capital money, I cannot say. But then, my experience with venture capitalists is that they are generally a bunch of fools, running around looking for the Next Big Thing™, with little interest in actual business models and how Spiceworks — which is almost entirely dependent upon advertising revenue — will ever be a company worth that kind of money. But I digress.

I put up the advertisement there because I like the image of the guy. It says a lot about the kind of people the company is trying to attract — people like me. I assure you: he is not an IT pro. He’s an actor. Take away the terrible haircut. The ridiculous glasses. (Having a medical tape repair between the lenses would have been too much; it would have been parody.) Take away the uncool facial hair and the bad teeth. And most of all: take away the harsh lighting! What do you get: a guy who looks terrific in his head-shot.

Almost every person I know in high tech simultaneously sees himself as “IT Pro” Brandon A here, and as a pretender. Because IT is that way. The field is so broad and ever changing that what the best IT professionals bring to any job is a general knowledge. The only difference between the guy on Spiceworks with the question and the guy with the answer is that the latter guy recently had to struggle with the problem.

I know that I often feel a little strange when clients hover over me as I mess about trying to figure out the solution to a problem. There is a feeling that I ought to be able to walk it, and immediately know the answer. But computer problems are rarely like that. If they were, there would be a book called, “Easy Solutions to Every Computer Problem Ever.” And there isn’t. Other than “Is it plugged in?” and “Did you power cycle it?” there really aren’t any standard answers. Being a paid WiFi Hero is not like this:

But we muddle on. We try things. We discuss problems with each other in language that isn’t intended to exclude everyone else, but usually does. It’s hard work. The only thing easy about it is that we manage to look like “IT Pro” Brandon A without even trying!

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Filed under Hardware Repair, Irreverent