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* Posts by Shannon Jacobs

606 posts • joined 9 Apr 2007

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Verizon to limit unlimited 4G plans

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

No such thing as uncontested connections

The issue is NOT wireless versus wired. The issue is CONTROL, as in the big companies (and their pet governments) want to control our access to the Internet. If most of the content was moving locally via shared WiFi networks, then they wouldn't have any chokepoints. Yes, there are some natural monopolies, but information is NOT one of them.

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Android ransomware demands 12x more cash, targets English-speakers

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

If the spammers weren't making money, then they would stop sending the spam. Even worse, the money they do make is used to fund ever more diabolical and vicious forms of spam (like the latest round of ransom-ware), but what really angers me is that the spammers gladly target weak victims like children and people who know very little about computers.

Meanwhile, the big email companies that do understand the threats have adopted the business model of "Live and let spam", which also infuriates me. The spammers obviously LOVE filters, since the filters just give more credibility to the spam that slips through while ignoring the blizzards of spam that disguise the new and more dangerous attacks.

Why don't any of the major email providers provide REAL anti-spammer tools to break the spammers' business models? I'm not saying that we can eliminate all spam or turn the spammers into decent human beings. I'm just saying that we could reduce their profits, and that many of the spammers would respond by crawling under less visible rocks. Less spam would make the Internet more valuable for everyone.

Considering the numbers, the approach that seems most promising would be crowd-driven analysis and counterattack targeting. Essentially there are lots of people who hate spam and only a few suckers who feed the spammers. If ANY email system made it easier for the wannabe good Samaritans to help out, then the crowd can help cut the spammers away from the suckers. The integrated anti-spammer tools could allow volunteer spam-fighters to help analyze the spam in several steps. At each step the automatic analyses would be confirmed or corrected or refined, eventually focusing on the most effective countermeasures to disrupt ALL of the spammers' infrastructure, to pursue ALL of the spammers' accomplices, and to help defend and protect ALL of the spammers' victims, even including the poor corporations whose reputations and customers are abused by the spammers. (Concrete examples of specific targeting suggestions available upon request. There are LOTS of obvious ones.)

By the way, I think you have to limit the anti-spammer tools to the targeting, and the actual kill buttons should remain under the control of the professional spam fighters working for the email services. I would be WAY too eager to pull the trigger.

P.S. Proof of concept: Stock market pump-and-dump spam has almost entirely stopped. The stock exchanges acted to block the profits, and the spammers gave up.

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Carlos: Slim your working week to just three days of toil

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Shades of Couch Potatoes of the World, Unite

Seriously, that's the result of my analysis of alternative time-based economic models. I disagree with Carlos, however. Lots of people simply aren't creative, and you can't force them to be creative. They can still make contributions to the economy by their consumption of other people's creative efforts, but I am not aware of any economists who are thinking along those lines. Conventional economists are just looking where the light is bright. Easy to measure money, but time is a more difficult thing. (Actually, when I discussed it with a google guy, he put it in terms of attention, and I sort of agree, but I also think that time can be enhanced with more attention...)

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NO TIME to read Facebook? Delegate the task to your FUTURE SELF

Shannon Jacobs
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Better economics: Couch Potatoes of World, Arise!

Time is a precious and limited resource. I already lack enough time to pay attention to the data I am receiving now.

Here's my offer. I want to let you legitimate companies bid for some of my time. I'll say how much advertising I'm willing to receive, and say what I want to buy now, and you can bid to reach me. Of course I can't advertise that information, but I'm willing to split the auction proceeds with the intermediary that protects my privacy.

The profits will mostly pay for content that I actually want to see. Some people might use the money in other ways, but I want some substantial and meaningful data about the real world, NOT 24/7 filler when there is NO REAL NEWS.

I actually did write a longer (if still incomplete) economic analysis of an economic system aligned along these principles. I wasn't joking about the couch potatoes.

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Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot

Shannon Jacobs
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Another advantage: Deniability?

Well, mostly I feel like these results are "intuitively obvious to the most causal observer" and I've already been doing things that way for a while. My approach to low-security passwords is slightly different, but the basic idea is the same.

However one of my secondary criteria is whether or not it may be advantageous to claim that the account was hacked. Especially appropriate for venues where you like to tell jokes and feel concern about getting too close to the edges upon occasion.

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Remember when Google+ outed everyone by their real names? Now Google's sorry

Shannon Jacobs
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Should I try to claim my favorite nickname?

Naw, why would I care. I already got it on Outlook. Oh, wait. No improvement there.

Why doesn't ANYONE offer a sincerely anti-spammer email system?

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Listen: WORST EVER customer service call – Comcast is 'very embarrassed'

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Freedom <> Obscene profits

Freedom is about meaningful and unconstrained choice, but that is NOT equal to monopolistic profit maximization, which is fundamentally about removing choice. If the consumers actually have meaningful options and can freely choose among them, then the free market will effectively minimize the profits. Not eliminate profits, but certainly prevent monopolistic price gouging. Heaven forbid, but you'll have to actually WORK for a FAIR profit against your competitors. Don't you just hate that?

Intuitively obvious to the most casual observer, but any questions?

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The Windows 8 dilemma: Win 8 or wait for 9?

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Actually, the last Windows OS that was probably justified by new features was Windows 95

No, you're getting confused by the two sides of the same coin. One side is the meaningless changes that create user confusion and lost productivity. The other side is the lack of meaningful changes that would justify the upgrade.

Sorry, but I don't count "We're pointing a gun at your head" as constructive justification.

Microsoft's monopoly has become quite destructive to the entire industry. No significant change is permitted without Microsoft's blessing. Meanwhile, their monopolistic position has destroyed their competitive edge and made the company lazy. There really are lots of new things that could be added at the OS level, but that would be hard work.

Considering problems without solutions is pointless, so here's the solution. Cut Microsoft into three to five pieces. Each new company starts with a complete copy of the source code and an equal share of the employees. I suppose they should use a draft system to make it as fairly competitive as possible. Then the new teams compete. One of the daughter companies may focus on security, while another pushes the OS towards higher performance and a third focuses on compatibility--and the market gets to decide which is best. The new competitors can even share as much information as they want (especially for standardization), as long as they share it with the rest of the market.

The shareholders would NOT suffer because the most important result would be faster overall growth. Even if one child company does poorly, that would be offset by others that flourished. Of course, a shareholder could hurt himself by selling off or buying the wrong shares, but that's always true. Or maybe that's only the second most important result? More freedom from meaningful and unconstrained choice is important, too.

Sadly, this model of non-cancerous growth won't happen. American law requires each large company to grow like a cancer just to survive. That's what happens when the rules of the game are written by the most cheaply bribed politicians working for the least ethical and greediest businessmen. (The 99% of nice businesspeople just don't matter anymore.)

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Dead letter office: ancient smallpox sample turns up in old US lab

Shannon Jacobs
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Re: Is it just me.....

Consider it a serendipitous experiment, but one that could be quite useful. Imagine that they discover some records showing that there was more of it. If they know that the part they have is not viable, then that is a much less serious situation than if they discover it is still viable and some of it is missing.

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Bloodied Samsung's profits down 25% as it clings to mobe crown

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

The only good profit is an obscene profit?

Sorry, it's the rules of the game that are obscene. What do you expect when all of the laws are written by the most cheaply bribed politicians working for the least ethical and greediest businessmen based on the 'cancer is GOOD' business model. Unfortunately, it still can't help them solve their problem. You see, their problem is that they don't have enough money, and there is NO amount of money that would be "enough" for such sick personalities.

Let me make clear that most businesspeople are good folks. They just want to play the game fairly and by the rules. They are NOT the 0.1% of the businessmen who are buying the politicians to rig the game.

Oh yeah. About Samsung. I don't know if they are bribing politicians with the aggressiveness of the google. What I do know is that profit is based on the small difference between two large numbers. It is only a small fraction of the manufacturing costs and net sales income. The stock market only cares about these actually tiny fluctuations because it is just a sick gambling game that has NO relationship to the original purposes of issuing shares to pool risk for large capital expenditures.

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Fridge hacked. Car hacked. Next up, your LIGHT BULBS

Shannon Jacobs
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This was the only mention of "car" besides the title

So what was the hacked car? Michael Hastings?

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Russian law will force citizens' personal data to be stored locally

Shannon Jacobs
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I couldn't imaging Russia was doing something right

Turned out I was right. No, it doesn't mean locally as in your local personal computer (where possession is nine points) but locally as in a computer they can get a hold of (as in your possession points are none).

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NSA dragnet mostly slurped innocents' traffic

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Arguments in defense of the NSA

(1) When you do the math, it turns out that keeping the data is free. You only incur a cost when you erase the information. Therefore the NSA is just trying to save money.

(2) As the marginal cost of storing data declines, the cost of keeping your personal information is approaching zero. However, the cost of evaluating information to insure that it does not have any value and will never have any value is quite large, obviously much larger than zero. Therefore, even if they never looked at the information, the NSA can't afford to assess it for deletion.

In conclusion, we are SO screwed.

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Windows 7, XP and even Vista GAIN market share again

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Still asking why (anything post XP)

My primary OS these days is, per force, Windows 7, but I still can't say why. Seriously, I cannot give you a single solid reason to adopt any new Microsoft OS. I was going to say "after XP", but I'm kind of hard-pressed to see anything really great about XP, now that I think about it. I suppose you can argue that XP was the ready for prime time version of Windows 2000, and Windows 95 certainly added some crucial TCP/IP support, but...

There are some fuzzy reasons, mostly in terms of speed. However, I think that's mostly a matter of Microsoft playing games. I firmly believe that Microsoft could have souped up XP to run faster than Windows 7 if they had expended about half the effort in that direction. These days it actually seems like Microsoft is trying to make Windows 7 run slower and slower, especially in booting. (Anyone else noticing increasingly slow boots on their Windows 7 boxes?)

The new feature justification is really thin, especially as the new features increase the sheer number of potential security vulnerabilities. At this point, I have given up trying to figure out what services and overhead is being wasted on my newer machines. Yeah, Microsoft has reduced the BSoDs, but Adobe seems to be picking up that slack very nicely. (My newest theory about Adobe is that they think the crashes and constant updates are some kind of cheap marketing visibility.)

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Occupy Google: Protesters attack ad giant as I/O gets underway

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

How can I help fight the EVIL?

As someone who used to think the google was going to make the world better... Well, I'm not sure what to say about it, but I'm definitely sad that the google is so EVIL now. It actually took a couple of years to persuade me they had gone to the dark side, so to speak, but it still saddens me. I actually noticed the first signs at least several years ago--and I still don't know what it was about, though I ask the google from time to time. They've stopped talking to peasants, obviously, but I think that's just a secondary symptom of the creeping EVIL.

Originally my feeling was that the google was sort of innocent. As the system works in America, most businesspeople are fine and upstanding and just want to play fair, but the definition of "fair" has been attacked or even destroyed. The so-called rules of the business game in the US are written by the most cheaply bribed politicians working for the least ethical and greediest businessmen. They love the business model of cancer, and the only problem they understand is not solvable: No matter how much they rig the game, they will NEVER have enough money. Their love of money is insane, and they don't care that the cancer always kills its host.

However, as I noted, originally I thought the google was sort of innocent. Then I found out the google has become the leading lobbyist among high tech companies. In other words, the google is now helping to write the crooked laws. If you know of any evidence to the contrary, let me know, but I haven't seen it yet. (Though some of their legislative initiatives seem to be neutral or at least not obviously EVIL, I suspect it's because I just can't see the rest of the picture, and some of the legislation they are pushing is clearly EVIL.)

Constructive solution time (to be ignored, of course). A better economic model is evolutionary, not cancerous. It would also increase freedom (in the form of meaningful and unconstrained choice). If a company is sufficiently successful, the company should be obliged to reproduce, NOT simply continue with mindless and cancerous growth. Several ways to do it, though I think the amoeba offers one of the simplest models. The company splits into (at least) two independent entities that have to compete against each other, each evolving in its own ways and offering MORE choices and MORE freedom.

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EFF wants you to open your Wi-Fi to IMPROVE privacy

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Where's the financial model? TANSTAAFL

I like the idea, but I spent some time on the OWM website, and the current implementation is not seriously flawed. More like MASSIVELY flawed. The technology is actually kind of clever, but only in an narrow and ignorant way.

There are some solutions that could make this work, but the fundamental problem is always the money. In brief, if you offer to give away something of any conceivable value, you can rest assured that it will be abused. It's one of those two out of three jokes. You can have accountability, privacy, and minimal investment (approximately "free" in the economic sense), but NOT all three at the same time. I could go into quite a bit of detail in the analysis, but since there is no evidence of such deep thinking on the OWM website and since this is basically a comment on what that website says, I'll skip it. If someone involved in the project wants to discuss the problems and more importantly, some SOLUTIONS, then feel free to drop me a line.

Overall I think the EFF was a good idea, but they are just too confused. Feeling charitable and based on my study of other languages, I'd be willing to say that it comes from the essential confusion in English about "free", "freedom", and related words, but since the EFF is supposed to be a pack of lawyers, that discussion would be like the opposite of trying to teach your grandma how to suck eggs.

I really wouldn't mind if you mooch off my Internet connection, but only as long as you are a nice person. As OWM stands now, it's just an invitation to not-nice persons to do not-nice things.

Freedom is about meaningful and unconstrained choice. Not beer.

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DON’T add me to your social network, I have NO IDEA who you are

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Bug me and get squashed

I know it's the Reg, but can't you think of ANY constructive solution? I know it's the Reg, so I feel like I'm wasting the keystrokes, but maybe you want to be a hero and maybe the Reg has more credibility than I've noticed, so here's the obvious solution:

Users should have the option to post a 'greeting' message to people who want to have a link. Of course everyone might be a little different, but I can make it more clear with the concrete example of what mine would say (if only I could):

(1) If you are an old friend, then I'm interested in hearing what you've been up to. However, my memory isn't so great these days, so please include enough data to convince me you really are you. (2) If you have some legitimate reason to get in touch with me, make it EXTREMELY clear, but beware the next case. (3) If you are ANY kind of spammer and you are bothering me, then I will do everything I can to nuke your account and your business model and put you in jail, too.

Unfortunately, to make (3) really work, then the SMS in question would need to get sincere about fighting spammers, and so far I haven't noticed any SMS or even any email service that is so serious. The spammers' business models certainly are vulnerable, but "Live and let spam" is the basic model of the google of EVIL and all of their friends. (That's actually a different topic, but evidently no one has the guts to offer customer-pull advertising (auctioning off the customers' LIMITED time) as an option to advertiser-driven-push advertising.)

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Sony CEO forced to shush shareholder heckling at fiery AGM

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

I was at the meeting, but not many non-Japanese

I was actually in the 6th row or thereabouts, and one of the noisiest hecklers was about 4 rows behind me. However, the largest disturbance was around 10:15 in the back of the room. I think it was in the right corner and went on for some minutes.

However, I'm beginning to think this sort of thing is just sort of normal for Sony... I remember seeing a guy charge the stage at one of the meetings.

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Samsung peddles tyred Smart Bike concept

Shannon Jacobs
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Where's my exercise bike hooked up to streetview?

I feel like bicycling through virtual Paris in the spring, eh?

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British boffin tells Obama's science advisor: You're wrong on climate change

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Lew... That's enough

No reason to read any farther.

Credibility and integrity = 0.

P.S. Credibility is obviously 0, but I'm being charitable on the integrity part. If he actually believes what he writes, then his ignorance might be even more unbelievable than his columns. In other words, I'm guessing he can't possibly be as stupid as he writes, but has been paid off.

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CIA rendition jet was waiting in Europe to SNATCH SNOWDEN

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Shocked, shocked I say.

I'm just saying that because I'm sure I've already been on their watch lists ever since I accidentally typed the big dick Cheney. So much trouble for forgetting to capitalize a "d" and a certain lack of humor?

War crimes? Damn good thing Iraqi lives are worthless, even in the 10s or 100s of thousands. Dare I say a million? Or actually, shouldn't we just say the big dick's books are still open? You know, it's like a pitcher who left a couple of men on base and still gets their runs added to his ERA. Or maybe we should use the joke about the outfielder who messed up so badly that no one can play center field now.

Kind of makes me laugh at my naivete. When Dubya snuck into the White House in 2000, I had no capacity to imagine the mess he would leave behind. Then in 2008 I actually had a delusion that President Obama could clean it up. You know what they say: "Fool me once, shame on... You can't get fooled again." Hey, thank goodness you can't fool me any more. My vote has been cancelled to zero!

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Snowden never blew a whistle, US spy boss claims

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Trust American justice? ROFLMAO.

Whenever I see a suggestion like Kerry's, I'm reminded of a conversational exchange I had with a law student. This was right after Bush v. Gore, and he came right out and said that he was in law school because he believed America was becoming a judicial dictatorship, and he wanted to be one of the dictators. (I have to describe it as 'a conversational exchange' for certain reasons, perhaps even legal ones.) If he has become a judge since then, I hope he's losing sleep over his ancient honesty, but I certainly deny having any copy thereof.

It's hard not to think that America has passed a point of no return. I used to think the conspiracy theorists were nuts, and I still think that most of them are, but I'm increasingly inclined to think that some narrowly focused and small-scale conspiracies are plausible. Was Michael Hastings killed by hacking his car? It's possible that could have been done by a couple of people, and most of them wouldn't even have had to know what they were doing. Was Ron Suskinds effectively neutralized by poisoning his son? If the appropriate psychoactive chemical exists, a single actor would have sufficed. I don't think I'm going too far out on a limb to predict that Snowden is likely to come to a bad end, especially if he persists in bearding the giant.

John Kerry was once a man of high principle. Long time ago. At this point, I trust his words far less than Snowden's.

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Still using e-mail? Marketers say you're part of DARK SOCIAL

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Push-driven advertising and extreme greed?

This push-driven model of advertising is increasingly reminding me of the cancer-style business rules of America.

American companies are basically legally obliged to grow as cancerously as possible. If they can't grow fast enough, then they get acquired or go bankrupt. At root, this is driven by the business model of a few extremely rich people who bribe the politicians to write the rules of the business game that way. It even makes a sick kind of sense when you consider their overwhelming problem. They "need" more money, and their problem is that there is NEVER enough money to satisfy their need.

As it applies in the push-driven advertising world, the "need" is for more of our time and attention, and they can NEVER get enough, no matter how many intrusions and privacy invasions they devise.

There are solutions, and some of them are obvious, but I think we need to start by rethinking economics. Money is not the only significant entity in the universe. Amazingly enough, time has a kind of fundamental equality for all of us. My 24-hour day is the same quantity as the day of Bill Gates or the Koch brothers or even a house plant. Disclaimer, I'm not equating those three (or five) entities. It's the TIME flow that is the same.

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China ponders ban on IBM servers

Shannon Jacobs
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Not Snowden, but crazy oscillation

One of those weird coincidences that I'm just finishing the Cuckoo's Egg, about a time when America's cybersecurity efforts were quite ineffectual. American tends to oscillate in a crazy way, and since 9/11 the country has gone overboard in the other direction.

Then again, I don't recall whether or not anything Snowden revealed refuted the descriptions of the book. It is certain that some of the stuff he blew the whistle on took a lot of time and effort to create. Maybe Cliff Stoll was just an easy patsy? "Nobody here but us cyber-virgins!"

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Help. Mailing blacklists...

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Why don't we put the spammers out of business?

Might sound like a rhetorical question, but we actually could do it--IF we only had better spammer-fighting tools. At least that applies to the rational spammers who are in it for the money. Basically it depends on one ratio: The number of people who feed the spammers (with money or information) is MUCH smaller than the number of people who hate spam. It is well known that the response rate of the suckers is on the order of 1 in a million. If only 1 in a thousand of the non-suckers helped out, then there would be 1,000 people blocking each sucker. I'm not saying we can eliminate ALL spam or turn the spammers into decent human beings. I'm just saying we can make spam much less profitable and that most of the sociopaths who send the spam (and who victimized the OP in this case) would crawl under less visible rocks.

How? I think the best approach would be an integrated anti-spammer tool built into the major email systems. There would be several rounds of analysis to classify the spam and focus on the best countermeasures, ultimately targeting ALL of the spammers' infrastructure and accomplices, and helping and protecting ALL of the spammers' victims, even the Joe-jobbed corporations. Some spam fighters may even earn enough reputation to pull the triggers, though I doubt I'd ever reach that level. I'd be too prone to blast away at any likely spammer, but I could still help with the targeting even if I couldn't be trusted with the nukes.

If the spammers can't target the biggies, then their entire so-called enterprise collapses. Insofar as the biggies would also profit from less spam in a more valuable Internet, I can't understand what is holding them back.

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What's that crunching noise? Lenovo running over rivals' bones

Shannon Jacobs
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Re: A great success

Is the G a smartphone? That's how little I know, though my recollections of Motorola were not positive and I'm hard pressed to regard that acquisition as an actual asset...

However, what I was actually looking for in this article is new evidence about the profitability of their smartphones. In the last report I read on that topic, only Apple, Samsung, and Huawei were actually claiming profits on their smartphone sales. Is Lenovo in the black, too? Based on this story, it seems possible, though I still regard it as unlikely... More likely they'd be trading off profits for market share, at least for now.

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Senate slams ad servers for security failings

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: Better yet

Make companies responsible for negligence and their incompetence. Then they would act in much more defensive ways rather than simply shucking the blame.

All of the other suggestions (at least so far) are kind of stupid for a lot of reasons, but I'm just going to focus on what I regard as the most obvious one. Children are naive and innocent and need to be protected from vicious criminals while they are growing up and learning how to defend themselves. If that isn't enough, then how many times do you want to recover your children's computers from being pwned by attack ads from websites with drive-by malware installers?

P.S. I mostly blame Microsoft for so firmly establishing the no-liability EULA. I offer two observations: (1) If Microsoft were held accountable for all of the economic damage inflicted by their mistakes, then they would be bankrupt. (2) If they faced the threat of liability for their mistakes, they would design MUCH better software. Perhaps the initial progress would have been slower, but what we have now is clearly a rotten house built on a rotten foundation. After 10 years of so-called security initiatives, yesterday's "routine" patches were more than 100 MB.

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Net neutrality protesters set up camp outside FCC headquarters

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Technical solutions, anyone?

Another fake crisis being exploited to increase profits. The REAL problem is that the profits will NEVER be sufficiently maximized.

Too much data for the servers and backbones? Then use peer-to-peer streaming with local caching of the popular data, especially the topical and viral videos. Most of the data could be transmitted via WiFi networks, though that software would be trickier. However, right now my computer can see more than 10 WiFi networks from my typical urban location.

Why don't we have such applications already? I certainly have plenty of spare disk space and could donate 20 GB to a network cache. Two reasons:

(1) The phone companies and cable companies still lust after monopoly profits based on control of the pipes.

(2) The governments want controllable networks, not decentralized ones.

Not sure which motive is stronger, though they are tightly linked in America by legal bribes to politicians.

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Microsoft: You know we said NO MORE XP PATCHES? Well ...

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

The gun is pointing at your head

Kind of a shame that Microsoft can't sell products on their actual merits, eh? At this point, I have accumulated several years of post-XP experience, and I cannot give a single positive reason to upgrade beyond XP. Ditto Word, Excel, and recent versions of other Microsoft Office components.

I think there are two aspects of Microsoft's business model that explain this: (1) It isn't their fault and no matter what happens to you because of Microsoft's incompetence or negligence, you can't sue them. Check your EULA if you think otherwise, but I bet you can't even read it with understanding. (2) They don't sell to you anyway. Their products are 'sold' to the manufacturers and rammed down your throat. This is NOT a case of a good idea that isn't worth stealing. It's mostly a natural result of that assuming all their potential end-user customers are thieves.

Me? I prefer personal responsibility (NOT (1)) and I resent being called a thief (NOT (2)) and I even want good software (NOT Microsoft).

Personal disclaimer time? I think the aspect that most pisses me off about this is that I fixed an old machine that still runs XP. The repair was expensive, and upgrading on a Windows path isn't even possible, but a big FY is the norm of my dealings with the big MS.

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AOL Mail locks down email servers to deal with spam tsunami

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: Stangely enough, Shannon (was: Human intelligence still has some value)

That is called adaptive Bayesian filtering, and it is pretty much the standard technology used by all of the large email systems.

The main technical problem is the tradeoff between false positives and false negatives. Essentially there is a limit where you have to trade one kind of mistake for the other. The large-volume email services are able to drive the total error rate below 1%, but the exact value depends on the volume of email and the creativity of the spammers, which is the main human problem (assuming you are willing to grant human status to the spammers, which I sometimes wonder about). In brief, the spammers are constantly studying the how to make their spam look like ham.

However, my focus is on the economic problem, and from that perspective, the bottom line is that the spammers can clearly live with the filtering. Their profits are still high enough to motivate a whole lot of spam going on, as the song goes. I don't really monitor Microsoft's email these days, but based on Yahoo in two countries and Gmail, the spammers must be making most of their money on false negatives, so the spammers' current weakness is not the filtering, but the delay time before the human victims can respond, either to websites (often via link shorteners) or email dropboxes.

Filtering has pretty much reached its limits, and we're not going to abandon SMTP, either. It's not that there is a magic solution that will permanently cure the problem, but we need a more adaptive and evolving mechanism.

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Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: Human intelligence still has some value

So are you [Stevie] a spammer or spammer's sock puppet? Or just another loser? The reason I offered the 'kindly' suggestion that the first spammer defender might be a religious fanatic is because that is actually the category of non-economic spam that I think would be relatively difficult to deal with.

As regards your [Stevie's] reading comprehension problems, I am NOT saying that it would be easy or a trivial thing. I am saying that focusing more efforts on the money side of the spammers' motivations would significantly deter the spammers, reduce the amounts of spam below the current "Live and let spam" levels, and thereby increase the value of email in particular and the value of the Internet in general.

One aspect of human intelligence is adaptability. ANY effective spam-fighting system has to have room for "Other" or "None of the above" options because the spammers are always going to look for new tricks and scams. I understand that you [Stevie] are probably a loser or quitter (since the spammers are probably too busy spamming to read the Register) and that you accept the spammer's economic argument, which is basically that the marginal cost of another million spams is approximately zero. I prefer the search for a constructive solution focusing on the imbalance between the small number of suckers and the large numbers of people who could stop the suckers--if they had better tools to do so.

Near as I can tell, there are two reasons why spam continues to be a problem. I've already mentioned the sociopathy of the spammers. The other is defeatist and passive attitudes of people who can't actually imagine doing anything to make the world better.

(So why don't I do more? Not much of an excuse, but I judge my situation is that I'm sort of locked into a good job that is already helping to make the world better in a different area. If I only had additional time and resources, then I'd gladly tackle this project, too, but...)

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Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: AOL is better than Google

I sometimes have dinner with an old acquaintance and coworker who 'defected' to google. In one of our discussions he (accidentally) caused me to realize that their current motto is "All of your attentions are belonging to the google."

Having said that, I have to disagree with the post because AOL sincerely wishes that they could do what the google is doing. The underlying business models are pretty much equivalently evil, but the google wins and profits on the execution. Economic success requires both an effective business model and effective implementation. Good quality software from the user's perspective is much less important... The technologies are morally neutral, as the poor joke goes.

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Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Human intelligence still has some value

It's really hard to take seriously anyone who defends the spammers. The best possible interpretation is that you're some kind of religious fanatic with "Live and let spam" as one of your commandments. I could answer each of your objections in some detail, except that it's obvious that if you actually read what I wrote (and I have to doubt that), then you certainly didn't think about it.

Just for the sake of illustrating why it is better to say nothing when you have nothing to say, let me spend a few seconds to consider your first "thoughtful" objection (all sarcasm intended). Do you understand the word "integrated"? Evidently not, so let me explain that word in the original suggestion. Because the system I proposed would be integrated into the email system, the authentication is exactly the same as that which applies to each user of the email system. I will go even farther and say that a good (as distinct from a minimally competent) implementation would consider the history of the reporter. An additional hedge in the particular paragraph you mentioned was "few", but I've already wasted far more keystrokes than your minimalist comment deserved.

Instead, I'll throw out another example for consideration. This one is slightly more complicated, so please don't strain yourself. Just a caution judging by your previous reply...

Recently I received a notification from American Express warning me about a new security problem. There was only one minor problem there. I am not now and have never been a customer of American Express.

This was a quite beautifully done phishing scam. I spent several minutes studying the masking, but I acknowledge that it was done at a level I could not unravel. The cover letter was doing some highly clever JavaScript manipulation, probably playing with the DOM tree, and the main body was actually an embedded and encoded HTML webpage that was intended to run locally. As paranoid as I am, there is some chance I could have clicked on the trigger, especially if it turned out that I was an actual customer of American Express.

With the anti-spammer mechanism that I am suggesting, the first round of analysis would flag it as a phishing scam, but a later round of analysis should escalate that report to a fairly high level of seriousness. I'd even want to believe that American Express might want to initiate countermeasures to protect their actual customers.

However, it could go even farther than that. What if the spam included valid personal information? In that case, there might be an actual breech of the company's servers and the actual customers may be part of the mechanism to alert the authorities.

I'm not saying we can create a perfect world free of spam. I'm saying that spammers (and to a lesser degree, the spam-loving defeatists) deserve a full load of trouble, and I'm eager to help pile it on top of them.

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Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

NONE of them are serious about fighting spammers

If they were, then they would give us effective tools to help disrupt the spammers' business models. If the spammers weren't making money, then they would stop spamming. More concretely, if they knew that a particular email service or provider was going to disrupt their scams, then they would stop using and abusing that email system.

Imagine that ANY of the big email services offered an integrated anti-spammer system. The obvious design would involve several iterations of analysis and confirmation. Basically, it would allow you to donate a bit of your time and human intelligence to target ALL of the spammers' infrastructure, pursue ALL of the spammers' accomplices, and even help and protect ALL of the spammers' victims. The victims even include the email system itself, and the various corporations whose reputations are abused by the spammers. Less spam = more value for the entire Internet.

I'm NOT saying that we can convert the spammers into decent human beings. These vicious sociopaths can only be moved under less visible rocks. I'm NOT saying that everyone has to help in fighting the spammers. I'm just saying that there are a LOT of people who dislike spam and only a few suckers who are feeding the spammers. If ANY of the major email providers made it somewhat easier, then the spammers would be more effectively cut away from their money and they would look for 'better' scams.

One concrete example that especially annoys me: Link shorteners. Easy cure: After a few people have confirmed that the link is a spammer, then the link would be locked down and repointed. Rather than pointing at the website where the spammer is waiting for victims, it would point at some website that would warn or scare the potential victims. The spammers' bait would become poison to the spammers' own scams--but you need some humans in the loop to help out. I don't mind if you want to be a free rider. I'm one of the folks who wants to ride the spammers--all the way into the dirt.

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Whoever you vote for, Google gets in

Shannon Jacobs
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All your attentions are is belonging to the google

The real motto of today's google is "All your attentions are is belonging to the google", but I didn't realize it until dinner and drinks with a former coworker who defected to the google a while back. I already knew that the "Don't be evil" slogan had become a sick joke, but that was just by watching the biggest growth industry on the Internet, the cybercriminals.

It's hard to point at proof of the google's support of the criminals, but there are just TOO many places where it is obvious that the google could make things better. However, what bothers me most is the victims such as naive children visiting YouTube. I just don't feel as sorry for bank and credit card customers who get phished, but maybe I should be more interested. After all, it is the money that drives it, and the children don't have much of their own to be robbed of.

As regards the lobbying efforts discussed in this article: Old news. Most businesspeople are fine and upstanding folks and they just want to play by the rules. The problem is the rules of the game are crooked, especially in America. The laws are written by the most easily bribed politicians who are working for the greediest, least ethical, and most short-sighted businessmen. Of course you can maximize your profits by focusing on rigging the game rather than playing it on the square.

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El Reg drills into IBM: The storage biz's got that sinking feeling

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Relative profits, not gross sales

I think the article is misguided and uninformative. The real concern is relative profitability, not the raw sales data. Having said that, I haven't seen any data to indicate the storage business is outstandingly profitable.

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OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: who do we sue?

Tell it to the Microsoft. This idea of no-liability software is probably their ONLY innovation.

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Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

It's the funding model, stupid!

I've said this before, so I guess I'm wasting time to say it again, but bad software with a good financial model wins. Look at Microsoft, Google, and Apple, just to limit it to three especially egregious examples.

My suggestion is to fund OSS with 'charity shares' where the project will have a PLAN, a BUDGET, and sufficient TESTING. Dare I say it? There should be success criteria so the donors will know if their money went to a good cause.

Why should small donors (like me) be treated with perfect contempt? Because the financial model stinks, that's why.

In a twisted way, you can mostly blame Microsoft again. The key to their EVIL financial model is that no matter what happens from their most awful software, there isn't any financial liability on Microsoft. That's the only part of the financial model that applies to OSS, and look how it worked out this time.

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Google kills fake anti-virus app that hit No. 1 on Play charts

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Obvious solution: Funding Model Tab

If the google wasn't so EVIL these days, they would solve some of these problems. Broken funding models have a rather simple and obvious approach. Just disclose some additional information that would help us in "following the money" to assess whether or not an app is legit. This is not the only way it could be done, but just one form to make the suggestion more concrete.

There could be a "Funding" tab that would describe the funding model used by the developer of the app. Most of the common options would be boilerplates that a developer could select. The most obvious options (for free apps) would probably be "Ad supported" and "Limited-function version to promote paid version". That part would be under each developer's control, and should even include free text options if the developer wants to say more.

At the bottom of the Funding tab would be Google's part, which would not be accessible to the developer. Maybe the google can't say anything, in which case it would say "We have no evidence to support the claims made in the developer's financial model above." It might say "This developer is earning advertising revenue in the top quartile of app developers" or "This developer also produces <full product name>, so please see that page to learn more about the funding."

Having offered that suggestion, I have to admit that it may not have done much good in this specific case because the financial model was pretty clear, and it was just the big lie. However, I think the reality was that the other anti-virus companies should have shot this one down quite quickly. Obviously, they should have downloaded the new competitor, and as soon as they tested it, they would have discovered it did nothing. Hmm... Now that I think about it, that's probably how this scam collapsed.

Another way it might have collapsed is if the google is checking for sock puppets, as suggested by another commenter (who I can't see now). Again, obvious, but I think the google is too EVIL to be bothered.

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How Microsoft can keep Win XP alive – and WHY: A real-world example

Shannon Jacobs
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I hate shopping with a gun pointed at my head. Hello, it's you, Microsoft?

You didn't make your case for killing XP very persuasively. What I will say based on several years of post-XP experience on 4 or 5 machines and over 30 years in the industry is that I see no compelling reason to switch EXCEPT for the gun that Microsoft is pointing at me. Pay up, or take your chances, and you certainly know how small they are based on Microsoft's security track record.

I think the economics are highly debatable. It is not like Microsoft is desperate for cash and couldn't afford the minor charity. It's simply that Microsoft wants to force us to newer OSes, and I feel no real sense of security with ANY of Microsoft's OSes. The basis of the problem is actually the reverse of following the money. No matter what damage Microsoft's errors inflict upon you, it's just too bad and by opening the shrink-wrap and accepting the EULA you have agreed to it. If Microsoft agreed to continue support for XP, at least I would think they had some confidence they can secure it, but the added complexity of post-XP OSes merely makes it that much easier for the real experts to pwn me without my ever detecting it. At least that's how it feels to me.

Unfortunately, Microsoft's business model is excellent, no matter how flawed their software is, and they have established that standard for the entire industry. Can you imagine how software would be designed if the company selling the software was actually liable for the abuse? Hint: DEFENSIVELY and CAREFULLY.

Sorry, but Linux is not the solution. Linux is more like a possible answer in desperate need of an effective business model.

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Boffins working on debris float models to track MH370 wreckage

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Looking for what isn't there?

I'm still doubtful there is any debris to find... I'm increasingly convinced one of the pilot's murdered the other one, then asphyxiated the passengers and ditched the plane intact. Maybe the sunken plane will finally break up under the pressure, though I also think he would have cracked some doors to make sure it flooded and sank properly...

If my theory is even approximately correct, I gladly admit that I cannot understand the insanity that motivated the pilot who did it. However, what I absolutely cannot understand is the crazy lack of continuous and uninterruptable remote telemetry from such planes. Even if the only bits of data they were transmitting was the current location of the black box, that would be a vast improvement. Can anyone count how many times they have had these desperate (and expensive) searches for the black boxes?

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Google settles copyright suit with Viacom over YouTube vids

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Google? Protect copyright?

That's a screaming laugh. YouTube? Protect copyright?

Why don't you go to YouTube right now and try a search for the name of any popular TV program name. You will see vast numbers of hits.

Now focus on the ones that have shortcut links in the descriptions, The vast majority of those are recruiting suckers' computers for zombie networks. I'm not brave enough or lack sufficient hubris regarding my technical skills, so I haven't done the tests, but I'd bet you are between one and three clicks away from being completed pwned. Thanks, google.

Remember the corporate motto. "All your attentions are belong to the google." Why the google shares any of the attention with the criminals is beyond my ken.

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MH370 airliner MYSTERY: The El Reg Pub/Dinner-party Guide

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Mass murder and elaborate suicide...

I'm inclined to this theory, which is probably on the southern arc. I think one of the pilots killed the other one, and then took the plane high enough to suffocate the passengers and flight crew. I'm guessing he was able to cut off their oxygen, too. After that, he flew to some distant location and carefully ditched the plane. If the plane didn't leak enough after the ditching, then he helped it along, perhaps by cracking the doors open, until the plane sank. No wreckage, no life rafts, no survivors.

If it was just an elaborate suicide, then he presumably went down with the plane. If 'only' a mass murder, then he might have ditched near land and tried to make it to shore.

Horrifying and insane. I remain unable to comprehend the lack of continuous and uninterruptable telemetry on all large planes.

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Wanna make 15 bucks? Assimilate someone into the Google Apps BORG

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

My latest google Android experience

Over the weekend I tried to report a Android bug to the google. The bug must involve privilege escalation. The google was not interested. (Actually, it's an old bug and I'd probably tried to report it before.)

Can you think of any reason why any legitimate app should ever destroy or reconfigure other apps resources? Me neither.

For the sake of research, I encourage you to post your similar experiences here. I don't want to give it away, so to speak, but let me hint that the bug I spotted involved widgets.

The google's response was useless and apparently witless, but I want to include the part that most offended me from a programmer's perspective. The only reason I have any specific suspicions about the candidate apps is because I do not allow automatic upgrades. Therefore I think I know that this OS-level bug must be related to one of a small number of apps. The google rep suggested that I enable automatic updates.

Now let's assume the google doesn't care about security. If not, they are certainly fooling me right proper. Now let's assume some criminal hacker finds a bug in the Android OS, heaven forbid. The criminal creates a plausible and harmless app and uploads it to the Google Play website. Many people download and install this app.

Now let's add in the automatic update feature. The criminal creates a dangerous version of the app that exploits the bug. This is posted on the Play website and is automatically distributed to all of the victims who are foolish enough to permit automatic update. The app attacks all of the victims. Now the criminal prepares another version without the attack and uploads that one. Poof, all of the evidence disappears as quickly as the automatic update can propagate.

I'm not sure exactly what damage can be done, but it is certainly possible that a privileged bug could attack all of the other apps on the phone, eh?

This actually reminds me of some related but ancient news. Probably at least a year ago by now. The local police arrested a gang of criminals. Part of their scam involved poisoned Android apps that harvested personal data from the smartphones. I wasn't particularly surprised that the local police wouldn't know anything about the details, but I was surprised that the google denied any knowledge. I really would have liked to know whether or not I had downloaded any of the affected apps. Even if that entire gang of criminals is still in jail, it's possible or even likely that they had sold copies of some of their ill-gotten data.

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Wikimedia wants forced disclosures of paid edits

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Enforcement matters?

I voted in favor of that proposal, but also for strengthening it. Two easy suggestions:

(1) Any article that includes paid contributions should have a tag at the top. I think this is likely to be quite prevalent for articles with any commercial impact, and in that sense it's just a reminder to be sensible about things.

(2) Any article that is involved in an infraction should get a permanent and indelible tag to that effect. In other words, your company can permanently taint your corporate reputation by trying to cheat. In contrast to Suggestion (1), for which you could remove that tag by just deleting all of the contributions from the paid contributor, this should be a permanent letter of the scarlet type. After all, if you've tried to cheat in the past, you're liable to cheat in the future. Maybe you think there should be a statute of limitations here, but I disagree. Even the permanent mark of shame isn't strong enough for my taste. It's not that I think Wikipedia's reputation is that magnificent, but I'd like them to aim high, and they do have a pretty good reputation so far.

(3) Is a messy suggestion that is probably beyond the scope of current technology, but... I think they should try to analyze contributions for patterns that suggest bias, especially bias of the motivated commercial sort. I think that commercial bias may actually be easier to detect. Unfortunately, this goes back to the notion of identity, which is NOT one of Wikipedia's strengths. Just to provide the obvious example, it might be easy to detect that a particular user is consistently criticizing (tilting articles against) several companies except for one that he is always praising (tilting in favor of), but not so easy if he uses separate accounts. Have you ever seen both of them logged into the same room at the same time, as the joke goes?

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Microsoft to get in XP users' faces with one last warning

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

When you threaten Meetup, it's blackmail...

Some DDoS scammer has been attacking Meetup, and we properly call that blackmail, but when Microsoft threatens you, it's just good business practices. Does anyone else think there's something wrong in this picture?

Slightly substantive comments:

(1) Since Windows XP is quite adequate for my computing needs, I would not have upgraded any machine except for the threats from Microsoft.

(2) If Microsoft were actually held liable for the damage done by their mistakes (including bad design decisions), then you can be certain they would design their software in an extremely different way.

(3) I still expect Microsoft to offer some form of XP support. Not because they think it's a good thing or the moral thing or anything along those lines, but just because there's too much money still left on the table.

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RSA booked TV's Stephen Colbert to give the final speech. This is what happened next

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: Steven Colbert at RSA ..

Thanks for the attempt, but... Apparently a smartphone video and he wasn't sitting close enough to any of the speakers to get a good recording? The snippets prove that a better recording exists, but I've also failed to find the full version...

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Well done on the privacy lawsuit. Now NSA will keep your phone records INDEFINITELY

Shannon Jacobs
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Big Brother

Ridiculous reactions of Reg readers to ridiculous article

Blaming the victims again.

The NSA was going to do it anyway, and the specific excuse is just a bad joke.

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Fukushima radioactivity a complete non-issue on West Coast: Also for Fukushima locals, in fact

Shannon Jacobs
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Brave words from a chickenshit coward who doesn't have to wonder which way the wind is blowing. Yeah, I live within a few hours of the mess should the #4 building collapse (which is still possible and which is still packed with nuclear fuel rods). Yeah, it does depend on the wind direction, but unlike this moron Paige or Page or whatever, I'd actually have to live with it. Or maybe die.

I have a feature request for the Register. There are certain authors who write nothing but tripe. There should be a filter to render their blather invisible.

P.S. Actually, I'm not sure his blather had any pretense of bravery to it. I only saw about 7 of his words. That was all it took to confirm it was the usual tripe.

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Another climate change myth DEBUNKED by proper climate scientists

Shannon Jacobs
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Tripe

Is there anyone left who reads a word past that byline? I think I saw two or three, but I'm obviously commenting for the sake of NOT having to read farther. Hmm... Maybe I should peek at some of the other comments to see if any of them did read farther, and even more amusingly, if any of them found anything interesting or amusing in the rest of the tripe.

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