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* Posts by Shannon Jacobs

660 posts • joined 9 Apr 2007

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Twitter App Graph exposes smartphone spyware feature

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

What a waste of humanity

Actually, the best solution is never log into Twitter in the first place. We need better economics based around the truly valuable thing in our lives--our time. In that economic system, Twitter would go away.

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Trousers down for six of the best affordable Androids

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

No Lenovo candidates? Also, what about gamesmanship?

I was surprised or maybe even disappointed not to see any mention of a Lenovo model. They did mention a Huawei, and Lenovo is doing quite well in direct competition against Huawei in their home market of China. Does this mean Lenovo is that slow in their international marketing for smartphones?

By the way, my own experience with a mid-range Huawei was quite satisfactory, whereas my HTC was a pretty major pain in the behind. Maybe it was just bad timing and the HTC was too early, but I'm not planning to give them another chance anytime soon. I've actually had three Huawei devices over the years, and they've all performed quite well. My main reservation about Huawei is actually security. Not that I think Huawei would include a back door. The damage to their reputation would be too horrendous. It's just that all the Chinese hackers can be presumed to have physical access to any Huawei device made there. If there are any flaws or security weaknesses (and I'm pretty sure there are), then they know about them.

Let me close with a word about gamesmanship. It is possible to get a high end smartphone if you are careful how you play the game and are willing to settle for a slightly older model. A few months ago I actually had the choice between the recently replaced top end Samsung and Sony smartphones, so I went with the Samsung, which has been quite satisfactory so far. I didn't write the rules of the game, but I got the phone for free with a quite inexpensive contract. (The sneaky trick in Japan is to do your data elsewhere...)

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Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'

Shannon Jacobs
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Obviously as a neo-GOP

Speaking as a shareholder of HP, I am unable to conceive of voting for her against ANY conceivable Democratic nominee. She has NO qualifications for executive leadership at ALL. I have a fuzzy recollection that I thought she was qualified when she took over HP, but unlike the neo-GOP, I often admit to and sometimes even learn from my mistakes.

I've never been a member of the Democratic Party, and long ago there was actually a period when I voted based on a 'least represented constituency' basis. However, these years, thanks to the neo-GOP voting restrictions and gerrymandering, I don't even have a vote to play with. Heck, in this last election, they couldn't even be bothered to send me a ballot. WTF did they even send me my voter registration card?

It's getting hard to remember when we actually used to pick our Representatives. Now they rig the game and pick the voters they want, and no guest voting permitted (which would destroy most of their manipulations). Today's neo-GOP is just a brand hijack. NO relationship to Lincoln's Republican Party or the GOP of Teddy and Ike.

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That dreaded syncing feeling: Will Microsoft EVER fix OneDrive?

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Data loss from early Windows phone

So far back that I can't remember the details, but it was after Microsoft induced Palm to commit suicide. At some point after that I was somehow fooled into buying a not-smart phone with a Microsoft OS on it.

Fortunately, most of the terrible memories of that Windows phone have faded, but one that still grates was how it kept losing or mangling the calendar and contacts data. My fuzzy recollection is that I normally had to restore the data on the computer side, and then it would appear on the phone, and everything would look normal, and then it would disappear on the phone after some random interval. This went on for a while until I gave up and abandoned all hope and the data. Sorry Dorothy.

I am unable to imagine the circumstances under which I would buy another Windows phone of any sort.

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ISPs are stripping encryption from netizens' email – EFF

Shannon Jacobs
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Re: One does wonder... or at least should wonder.

Stopping spam is a piss poor excuse, but considering the poverty of the EFF, maybe it's as good a reason as any?

If the ISPs and email providers actually wanted to greatly reduce the spam, then they would go after the spammers' business models. Hint: Filtering is now just a minor cost in the spammers' business models. The main effect of filtering is to increase the value of the spam that slips through. "Hey, this must be a REAL Nigerian prince if the email didn't get filtered!"

Tired of flogging the dead horse, but one more time. The big email providers should provide better anti-spammer tools so volunteers could help break the spammers' business models. We should have the tools to attack ALL of the spammers infrastructure, pursue ALL of the spammers' accomplices, and protect and defend ALL of the spammers' victims. Not just the suckers who feed the spammers' scams, but even the corporate victims whose reputations and customers are victimized.

Arbitrary example that Gmail could offer, if they wanted to. Imagine a "Fight spam" button that would analyze the spam and ask you about the email addresses in it. If you identified the address as a probable spammer dropbox, then it should be blocked before the spammer can get any sucker replies. Obviously Gmail can nuke their own dropboxes, but they can even deal with remote dropboxes in a very simple way. They can measure how long the dropbox exists, and if that provider is too slow in responding, well then the google could just slow down the email. (Actually in keeping with their increasing EVIL these days.) Small email provider can't provide 24/7 support? No problem. Google could provide an admin for that purpose with detailed reports on any actions taken and why.

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729 teraflops, 71,000-core Super cost just US$5,500 to build

Shannon Jacobs
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Pretty sure they optimized the scheduling

Almost certain that they scheduled their job to run on slack periods. You can think of it as separate budgets for peak usage and slack time. Amazon would obviously charge much more when they have customers queued up, but if you're willing to wait for idle time, then the only cost is the electricity. Ergo, getting $5,500 is better than nothing.

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Japan: Land of cheap booze and slippers in the office

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

English teaching business mostly collapsed

I did a lot of English teaching in my first 10 years in Japan, but that was a long time ago. The so-called eikaiwa industry has been collapsing pretty steadily for at least 20 years, and probably 30, but it used to be a pretty good way to make a living. The better teachers moved to universities as adjunct lecturers, though that isn't really the path I followed in leaving the business.

However, I'd mostly agree with the utility of Japanese these days. One of the larger changes I've seen over the years has been less tolerance for poor speakers of Japanese. Or maybe it's just me, since I've been here so long, studied so hard, and produced such feeble results. My Japanese is pretty laughable, except it's mostly below that level. Notwithstanding that this week I'll finish the 96th (and final) volume of the "secrets series" (Gakken manga de yoku wakaru shi-rizu). About 15,000 pages of Japanese there...

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OpenStack's success depends on IBM and HP's tech queens

Shannon Jacobs
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Financial models matter

Good software? Nice idea, but you're much better off with a good financial model, even if your software is gawdawful. Why are you looking a Microsoft? I didn't say anything.

My concrete suggestion for OSS is a kind of 'charity share brokerage' system to fund the features and software that people want. Actually, the idea of "features and software" should be generalized to "projects", which could include support, too. (Hey if enough people are willing to pay for an old version running on their old computer, that should be supported, too.)

In some ways this idea is basically like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, but I think that they FAIL for the lack of project management. The scope of a project needs to be clearly defined, and of course the required resources should be considered in advance, along with a budget and a schedule, but I think the most important missing feature of existing crowd-sourcing systems is SUCCESS criteria. When you donate to a project, you should know what success will look like, and after you have pledged all of the money you wanted to start with, you should be able to look over the results and actually see if you've made the world better.

Oh well. Pie in the sky. The actual proposal described in this article looks like another repetition of history, and I don't care if it's repeating as a tragedy or farce this particular time.

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Hackers use DRAFT emails as dead-drops for running malware

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Why was this old news revived?

Topic was reported recently, even in the Register. Why the revival today?

Anyway, we actually could do something about the spam problem. Unfortunately, it would require better tools so that we could help break the spammers' business models, and the companies that could provide such tools obviously don't care that much.

I know the google has goone EVIL, but I don't know how they are profiting from supporting the spammers. I guess that Microsoft supports the spammers out of professional courtesy, while Yahoo is too incompetent to worry about anything except scheduling their bankruptcy.

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Microsoft: OK, we'll TRY indirect sales for Surface Pro 3 in Japan

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

You may choose more EVIL now, or nothing

As usual (or at least as too often), the Reg headline was misleading. I thought Microsoft had figured out a new and more evil way to force us to use their garbage. The indirect model of forcing the OS and office suite on the manufacturers is one of their key "innovations" of their highly profitable business model. Too bad if you believe in freedom of choice, real competition, customer-driven innovation or any of that tripe (from the MS point of view, of course). However I still give them more EVIL brownie points for the nothing-is-our-fault-ha-HA anti-liability "innovations". You don't own this software. MS is just loaning you the plague of locusts (and other bugs).

So can anyone fix the latest Microsoft scams in Windows 7? Using the usual excuse of "security" upgrades, MS has recently started crippling Windows 7. All I've been able to figure out is that the system is NOT really idle, even if System Idle Process claims to be using 90% of the CPU. Quite common while booting, but I've hit it at various places, so it might be a booby trap or sabotage targeted at Adobe or Firefox (or both), rather than the forced-upgrade pressure campaign.

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Japan tells operators: Put a SIM lock in a new mobe? You'd better UNLOCK it for FREE

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Breaking the 7 GB limit counts more

I'm still not sure why SIM-locking matters, but I got a free smartphone from NTT Docomo for about 800 yen/month over the two-year contract. I actually felt kind of bad about it, even though I didn't make any of the rules. It is quite likely that my loophole is somehow related to regulation by the Japanese government, but it still feels like a violation of the Golden Rule. In the Kantian canonical form, if everyone did it this way, then the system would obviously not work. Yes, I had to agree to a two-year contract that would have cost much more, but NTT's own rules allow you to call up the next day and cancel everything except for the basic phone service. There was a nominal one-month penalty charge, but what actually hurt in a financial sense was that NTT had recently canceled most of their incentives for changing from another carrier.

The problem I faced was the 7 GB limitation. I don't need the big speeds of LTE, but I want lots of data. I was actually quite satisfied with unlimited data under 3G, but that was offered via a different company. However after Softbank acquired that company (for their bandwidth), they basically rendered that option unusable. After a lot of rather tedious research, I settled on the solution of a NTT phone without ANY data plan, and WiMax for the unlimited data (and excessive speed). The 7 GB thing is apparently NTT's policy to push people to buy fiber for their homes, and I absolutely don't need a fiber at home. However, I used 50 GB of data last month, and 7 GB still looks like a joke to me.

I want to make a prediction that things will get better, but then you have to ask why? NTT certainly isn't threatened by the competitors, though I'm unsure why. Perhaps KDDI and Softbank have been threatened with total war if they dare to offer unlimited wireless data?

(By the way, KDDI might have a similar loophole, but the basic cost is more like 1,000 yen/month. I nearly went that way, but the NTT salesman at Bic Camera was slicker.)

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Piketty-Poketty-Poo: Some people are JUST ITCHING to up tax to capital ...

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Maybe he read it, but hard to believe he understood it

Seems most likely to me that author of this quasi-review has his own axe to grind, and it didn't set well with Piketty's pile of data, so he's doing gymnastics trying to twist it into a form he can understand. While I would deny that I understood everything in Piketty's book, I'm sure that I understood a lot more than this guy, even though I have my own axe to grind. It's hard for me to summarize succinctly, but Picketty is mostly defending the current economics, and within that paradigm he thinks he has identified certain trends (especially of wealth concentration) that are clearly unsustainable.

My own take is that the paradigm is the problem, and Picketty's work is just another example of trying to find a bandage to cover the problems, when the REAL problem is that the economists are persisting in looking where the light is better, NOT where the real problems are hiding in the shadows. Money is easy to count, and even if your numbers (especially for the predictions) are completely wrong, numbers just look so solid and nice. Hey, look at our science of economics, and quit worrying about all our mistakes.

The summary of how laissez-faire economics works is that everyone should be on the edge of starvation. Simple and arbitrary example just to clarify it. Let's say there are 3 drugstores in a region, and each of them is making a decent profit (and the consumers have reasonable freedom of choice). Pure laissez-faire invisible-hand economics says a 4th drugstore should be opened so that all of them are on the edge of starvation, and whoever makes a mistake or perhaps just blinks first will go bankrupt, returning us to the knife edge of profitability. It's basically a Darwinian thing, but we don't have to live like that, and no one except the Libertarians even pretends to want to.

Me? I want a NEW paradigm of economics. I think we should be thinking in terms of time, which is much more important than money--but much harder to count in convenient ways. Most obviously, none of us even knows how much time we have left.

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Google boss: I want Euro biz to be BIGGER THAN SEARCH

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Cancer is a DEAD end

The problem is that the rules of the game are crooked. Cancerous growth is required, and the end result is loss of freedom as alternative choices are eliminated. It's the natural result of the greediest and least ethical businessmen bribing the cheapest politicians to favor their own cancerous mentalities. We wind up with one or zero choices, which is the same as NO choice and NO freedom. Either you are forced to do business with the one surviving uber-gigantic company (soon to be the google in Web search), or you have NO choices. Let's switch to the example of Microsoft. If MS doesn't feel like offering a service or feature, then you have zero choice to use that service, especially if any other company that dared to offer the feature expects MS to retaliate and crush them (Remember Netscape, eh?)

Instead of calling it a penalty for success, we should call it a REWARD for success: Required Reproduction. Imagine the google or Microsoft were cut into two or three companies. Each new child company would start with a copy of the intellectual assets, which is a trivial matter for such companies, and an even share of the physical assets and the people. Suddenly we have more choice and increased freedom to make meaningful choices, and the total market will grow and evolve more rapidly, too. Microsoft can go as slow as they want, and they obviously want to go quite slowly, but they couldn't do that if they had REAL competition.

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Me GIVE you $14 SQUILLION gadziddly-DILLION

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

There could be less spam

The spammers persist because they are making money. If we want less spam, we need to disrupt their business models and reduce their profits. I'm not suggesting the spammers would become decent human beings, but they would crawl under less visible rocks.

The article features the ancient 419 spam, where the countermeasures are obvious--but the spam remains profitable after all these years. Why don't we have better mechanisms to quickly nuke the spammers dropboxes before the suckers can reach the spammers? Simply because the email providers don't care.

Imagine that Gmail had a "Fight spam" button. In the case of a 419 spam, it would allow you to quickly and easily identify the dropboxes. If the dropbox is on Gmail, then the google can kill it instantly. If the dropbox is elsewhere, the google can contact the spammer's email provider and request the dropbox to be nuked. If they're too slow, then the google could respond in the obvious way--by being correspondingly slow in handling the email from the spammers' favorite email services. (Even if the email provider is too small to have security staff on call, they could delegate the quarantine authority to someone at the google.)

What dazzles me about the spam problem is that it persists after all these years. It wastes vast amount of resources, especially human time, and it adds no value to the Internet. Au contraire, reducing the spam would even increase the value of their email services. Yet they just continue playing patty-cake games with the spammers.

Give me a better spammer-trap and I will beat a path to your email door, with the entire spam-hating world on my heels.

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10 Top Tips For PRs Considering Whether To Phone The Register

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Actually, I like the 'skeptical' attitude, but..

PR flacks tend to to see it as negative, and the awkward truth is that I'm doubtful that even a glowing review from such a bastion of skepticism as the Register would convince me to run out and buy the product in question. Insofar as the Register's business model depends upon convincing advertisers to spend some of their precious advertising budget with the Reg, perhaps you can see the problem here...

These days I don't like to waste time with unsolvable problems, but the solution is obvious: The Reg needs a better business model, one that is less dependent upon advertising. Even better and somewhat paradoxically, being less dependent upon advertising could increase your credibility and the value of the advertising you do sell...

I suggest the Reg modify their subscription model to a kind of extended post-reading reaction model. Unfortunately, it doesn't work too well with the old 'charity share brokerage', since the Reg rarely reports on the kinds of problems that need charitable solutions. In some cases, perhaps the projects could be new software, but mostly I think the post-article projects would just be sponsorship of that article or paying for research on related articles. If enough of the subscribers agree, then you transfer the money for a job well done.

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'A motivated, funded, skilled hacker will always get in' – Schneier

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: "Find a solution to that problem, you'll be rich beyond royalty wealth.."

Show me the money, Sitkowski.

Seriously, unless you are independently wealthy, and given that you have disavowed the second clause of the Title, something smells rotten in Denmark. My first suspicious guess would be back doors in anything that's given away. Even in source form, it could be obfuscated in some harmless-seeming utility function.

To me, the root of these problems are obviously economic, but it just depends on how you understand economics. For example, start by imagining that Microsoft was not allowed to use a EULA that absolutely absolved them from any legal liability for their most egregious and damaging mistakes. Yeah, hard to imagine, but you can be sure that they would be MUCH more cautious about what features they put in the OS.

Actually, I'd go even deeper and say that the real problem is that economics itself is in desperate need of a new paradigm. My candidate is TIME, not money. The problem is that time is harder to measure and quantify, so the economists picked money instead. But try to imagine how you would budget your time if you actually knew how much you had left?

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NASA: Mars satellites menaced by speeding SPACE ALIEN

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You can ring my #bellogate. EMAIL STORM hits 29,000 hapless UCL students

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Is it spam? Only your BOFH knows for sure?

Not at all a clear presentation of the problem here. The original message was apparently some sort of trap, but what was the payload in the actual spam messages? The article is so fuzzy that I can't figure out if it is bad reporting or an attempt to protect a still-vulnerable attack vector--but I bet the spammers are all abuzz in that case.

It does remind me of a countermeasure. The key problem is that there are some quasi-legit spammers like Best Buy. Sure, they send unsolicited spam, but they actually do have an unsubscribe mechanism, but there is no way to tell how bad a spammer Best Buy is from their spam. The email providers need to test the unsubscribe mechanisms with honeypot addresses and tell us whether or not they work. Mostly I'm talking to the EVIL google there, since they have made their unsubscribe button more accessible lately, but without providing ANY useful information about when to click on it.

I think the Best Buy case is worth extra mention, by the way. I thought they were a good company and it had to be some kind of phishing scam buried in the giant spam. Boy, was I shocked when they admitted they were spammers. Let me assure you that I will NEVER buy anything from Best Buy or ANY other spammers.

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Will we ever can the spam monster?

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Can't eliminate ALL stupidity, but we could make it LESS profitable

Less profit would result in less spam. Do the numbers. Billions of people hate spam. The suckers who feed the spammers are extremely rare. If the billions were leveraged against the suckers, the spammers could not make connections. The spammers would not become decent human beings, but they would crawl under less visible rocks. The stupid suckers would not become smarter, but they would be protected from themselves and the innocent suckers (Think of the children) or the people who accidentally click on poison would be saved.

Technical countermeasures are interesting and even important, but the spammers need the human help of the suckers, and that is where the spam-hating humans could and would help, if it was only possible to take more effective measures. I'm not arguing for cyber-lyinching of the spammers, though it sounds nice, but for tools to help in the anti-spammer targeting. The spammers can't obfuscate beyond the capacity of some really stupid suckers, and we could deal with that. Wannabe spam-fighters can identify and precisely categorize the spam and help select the most effective countermeasures, and then the email providers could quickly pull the triggers--BEFORE the spammers can profit.

1. Analyze spam interatively

2. Attack ALL of the spammers' infrastructure, pursue ALL of the spammers' accomplices, help and protect ALL of the spammers' victims.

3. NO PROFIT.

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Report: HP to SPLIT OFF PC, printer biz from enterprise wing

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Me, too or three

Speaking as a long-time shareholder, I wonder why HP keeps picking such awful CEOs.

Speaking as someone who like freedom, this is the WRONG kind of stock split, but it's basically the cancer-first required by the rules of the business game in America. Doing a good job is no good. Earning a fair profit is for suckers. Grow like a cancer, and don't worry about killing the host. The ONLY concern is maximum profit in the next quarter's report.

That's what happens when the rules are written by the most cheaply bribed politicians working for the least ethical but super-greediest businessmen in the world. Unfortunately, these rules are pointless, because their problem cannot be solved. There is NO amount of money that would be enough to satisfy them, no matter how much they beggar everyone else.

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The elegant, strange and fascinating world of Three Body comes to English readers

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Point of clarification?

There appear to be a number of prior translations into English of books by an author of the same name. Is this a different series, a different author whose name appears the same in English, or a failure by the Register contributor to check the background?

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Vanished blog posts? Enterprise gaps? Welcome to Windows 10

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Can't blame an early beta for losing a blog, eh?

So what's the google's excuse? I'm just getting tired of the race to be as EVIL as possible.

Google's current motto: "All of your attentions is belonging to us!"

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Bash bug flung against NAS boxes

Shannon Jacobs
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What about Huawei shells?

Mostly I'm tracking this topic to find out if any of my Huawei devices is vulnerable. Not a peep yet, nor any warning on the Huawei website (on the last check).

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Huawei promises €1.5 BILLION French investment

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Can't hurt to ask?

Just came from the Huawei website. Anyone have any idea if they are vulnerable to the shell shock (bash) problems? (I currently have three Huawei devices.)

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Microsoft WINDOWS 10: Seven ATE Nine. Or Eight did really

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

"We will carry forward all that is good in Windows," says Terry Myerson

I, too, was unable to imagine what that was.

Natural result of the two key features of their highly successful business model: (1) Ignore actual users and sell only to makers who foist the OS onto the actual users. (2) Disclaim ALL liability for any mistake, no matter egregious and no matter how large the damages, making acceptance of that disclaimer a prior condition before you can use (not own) the OS.

What part of "highly successful" has any relationship to good or ethical?

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Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Pre-eruption monitoring

The volcano was regarded as active, with a minor eruption around 2007 and a fairly major eruption around 1979. There are seismometers on around 100 active volcanoes in Japan, and they had reported some seismic activity in this volcano around the 10th of the month, but it had seemed to be dying down before the eruption on Saturday. It seems pretty clear that there were no thermal sensors and that there should have been some.

The Japanese press keeps emphasizing that there is no magma being discharged, but that is NOT the problem here. There is magma providing the heat, obviously.

The Japanese press still doesn't want to say the victims are dead until they are officially pronounced. There is no pulse or respiration, so what more do you want?

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'Google is NOT the gatekeeper to the web, as some claim'

Shannon Jacobs
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Freedom of speech is NOT about beer

Regarding the first part, pretty much insane on its face. If they do nuke 4chan, they'll just release such pictures elsewhere. I don't believe their surface argument at all. I think it is mostly about intimidation of publication, and this is just a good wedge issue. Once they establish that your website or newspaper or any other business can be nuked for one reason, it really does become a slippery slope of trying to justify additional reasons. The real point is to create a climate of fear that results in self-censorship, the only effective kind.

Regarding the headline, I feel it was bait and switch. Not much about the google here, but having been poked, I'll say that I'm convinced the google has gone evil and that their current motto is "All of your attentions are is belonging to the google!"

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Feds: Cheeky scammers are impersonating us in criminal capers

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

They JUST noticed?

This has been going on for YEARS in various forms. However, this kind of crap doesn't bother me nearly as much as the ones targeting children, and many of the fake charity pitches are quite offensive, too. Then we get the ones that rudely share my email address with long lists of random suckers, or the ones that abuse supposedly reputable companies. Lately it looks like Apple users make especially good suckers. Then we get into phishing scams...

Hey, here's a dumb idea. Why don't we attack the spammers' business models? I'm not saying we can make them into decent human beings, but if we cut them away from the money, most of them will crawl under less visible rocks.

Do the math. There are BILLIONS of email addresses out here, and ALL of them hate spam. There are only a TINY number of suckers who feed the spammers with money or valuable personal information. If it was easier for ANY significant fraction of the billions of spam-haters to get in the way, then the spammers could not connect to their suckers. Such stupidity is truly a rare and precious resource for the spammers.

The most obvious implementation would be integrated right into a major email system. When a wannabe spam-fighter triggers it, the spam in question would be analyzed in several steps. Essentially at each step you should see an expanded webform with analytic options to confirm or extend or anti-spammer measures to endorse or reject. The simple goal would be to attack ALL of the spammers' infrastructure, pursue ALL of the spammers' accomplices, and help and defend ALL of the spammers' vcitims. Amusing that the victims includes the feds in the example of this article, eh?

Why don't ANY of the major email providers try to convert some of the spammer hate to a good purpose? Instead, it's hard not to wind up hating all email, giving the volume of the spam.

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Google grand fromage Eric Schmidt: Backing climate denier lobby a 'mistake'

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: I'm a little puzzled

Microsoft is just pretending to be less EVIL than before, but the transition of the google to EVIL is quite saddening. Yes, you can say that most of the rules of the game predate the google, but they are now major players, and so is ALEC.

The way the American system works now is that most businesspeople are fine and upstanding. They just want to play by the rules, but they don't have any influence. The actual rules are written by the most cheaply bribed professional politicians working for the least ethical and greediest businessmen. The rules fundamentally require any large company to become an EVIL cancer or die. Of course, the problem with cancer as a growth model is that it eventually kills the host, and then the cancer dies, too.

Maybe the google could become less EVIL if they have exorcists for companies.

As for the google's motto, I think it is now "All of your attentions is are belonging to the google!"

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Microsoft staff brace for next round of layoffs – expected Thursday

Shannon Jacobs
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Silly thought experiment

Let's imagine that instead of cutting off a chunk of Microsoft people, we just cut Microsoft into 3 (or even 5) equal pieces. Each new baby Microsoft would get a copy of all of the source code, and they could have a draft to divvy up the staff and the facilities. Shareholders would get new shares in the baby companies.

Now each baby Microsoft competes against the others. One baby might decide to go back to XP, and I might well switch my loyalties to that brand of Microsoft. Two of the others might stick with Windows 7 and 8 for a while, but one might focus on fixing the security problems at a slightly higher market price. Meanwhile, the last two might put their priorities on flavors of Windows 9.

The bottom line is that we would get some real choice (AKA freedom), and I bet the OSes would actually evolve much faster. Some employees would still get burned, but that's happening anyway.

Even the shareholders would benefit from the overall acceleration of the software industry. Yeah, one or two of the babies may do less well, but the whole pie of all the babies will be growing bigger. The only way for a shareholder to lose would be to sell the buy and sell the wrong shares, exactly like now.

Ditto Google and Apple, if you ask me. Any company that starts restricting choice too much should be rewarded by strongly encouraged reproduction, not penalized by temporary cancerous growth.

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Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't

Shannon Jacobs
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Not related to this week's BSoD, I presume?

So did anyone else notice a BSoD in conjunction with this week's Microsoft Update? Just asking, even though the machine seemed okay on the reboot...

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Microsoft tells judge: Hold us in contempt of court, we're NOT giving user emails to US govt

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

It's a TRAP

Covers my key concern. However, I think it's also possible that Microsoft may be playing for some people who are dull witted enough to think the big MS has an actual concern about their human privacy.

In reality, if Microsoft feels like giving the email to the government, you'll never know. Ditto the rest of them, eh?

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Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch

Shannon Jacobs
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Battery problems prevail?

Actually on my 5th Android device now, and the only one with severe battery issues was the HTC, beginning when the phone was about a year old. The Toshiba tablet's battery is acting somewhat thermally suspicious, but it's more than 3 (or 5?) years old, so I think that's not unreasonable, if a bit scary. Too soon to say about my Samsung, but the previous Huawei was quite satisfactory, including the battery. If the carrier hadn't gone to pieces, I might have stayed with it for a while beyond its normal two years...

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Everyone taking part in Patch Tuesday step forward. NOT SO FAST, Adobe!

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

How is it possible for Adobe's software to be so bad?

They patch it several times a month. They do not add ANY new functions, certainly not visible ones. And yet their program is still crashing frequently, usually several times a day. Each time it crashes, my browser is locked up for a while until it releases.

Let me guess. Since Adobe has no good news, they just create bad news. At least we're still noticing them, eh?

Actually, I think they're a kind of nice company in some ways, but they need to FIX their software.

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The Schmidt hits the clan: Google chief mauls publishers' 'abuse of dominance' claims

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Alternatives to Android

Unfortunately, the options did not seem viable to me. These days we have to pick among the various flavors of EVIL to find the one that seems least bad. The main reason I stayed with Android this time was because the google doesn't have the same degree of stranglehold on Android that the other options suffer from...

Freedom is about meaningful and unconstrained choice. We have precious little freedom these days. Politics or consumer products, we're forced to pick the options that merely seem less bad than the others.

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Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Freedom is about choice, not monopoly

First, let me congratulate the google on their success, especially since most of it came before they knuckled under to the business rules of America, which demand cancerous growth of an EVIL sort.

Having said that, they are now on the wrong side. Let's pose a thought experiment. What if you had a choice of which search engine to use? What if the google were divided into two (or more) companies, each of which started with an equal share of the resources and equal copies of the data. Then the new companies would independently start growing and improving, and there would be more choice and more freedom.

Don't think of it as a penalty for success. Think of it as a reward in the form of reproduction, rather than death in the form of cancer. Every cancer ultimately destroys its host.

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Security rEsrchRs find nu way 2 spot TXT spam

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Why dost thou spam?

Hint: Not just because you're a sociopath. It's because thou art a sociopath and making money from the spam.

I'm not saying we can cure them. I'm saying we can attack their business models so they get less money and they will send less spam. Symantec is the wrong locus of an economic attack because their business model depends on the visibility of spammers, scammers, black-hat hackers, and various other free advertising.

The companies that have the business model that is directly related to the value of email OUGHT to be the email providers like Yahoo (hopelessly incompetent), Gmail (EVIL), and Microsoft (new spots on an old leopard?). They all pretend to hate spam, but none of them are sincere about it. If they were, then they would offer integrated anti-spam tools so we could help attack ALL of the spammers' infrastructure, pursue ALL of the spammers' accomplices, and protect ALL of the spammers' victims, even from themselves.

The suckers that feed the spammers are a very precious and limited resource. That's why the spammers send out billions of pieces of carp (polite fudge) to tap them. If it were easier for the wannabe good Samaritans who hate spam to get in the middle, then we could completely overwhelm the limited supply of suckers. Let's stop the spammers from feeding, eh?

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Windows 7 settles as Windows XP use finally starts to slip … a bit

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Microsoft? Talk to users? ROFLMAO.

You seem to be missing the entire point of Microsoft's business model. It consists of two major components:

(1) Create and enforce a EULA that removes all liability.

(2) Force computer makers to include THE OS of Microsoft.

What do users want or need? Who cares? And absolutely NOT Microsoft.

As far as the OS is concerned, I am not aware of ANY compelling feature that Microsoft has added in the last decade, or possibly two. In other words, not since TCP/IP was added to Windows 95.

The closest thing to a compelling reason for OS upgrades since then is improved security. In other words, if Microsoft was talking to peasants like us, the pitch would be "You need to buy the newest OS to protect you from our OLD security mistakes, but our EULA absolutely guarantees that the new mistakes can't be held against us, either."

Have a nice day enjoying your use of Microsoft products. Batteries and XP not included.

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'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: G00gle is EVIL

Makes me laugh at my childish naivete from the days when I sort of believed the "Don't be evil" thing had any credibility. I've long understood that the rules of the business game as defined by American laws are sadly twisted. Corporations are required to be evil, to grow like mindless and vicious cancers, just to survive.

Let me clarify. I'm NOT saying that most businesspeople are bad. It's just that the rules of the game are written by the most cheaply bribed politicians, who are being bribed by the least ethical and greediest businessmen. These businessmen have an insane problem. They think they don't have enough money, and they are insane because there is NO amount of money that could solve their problem. Unfortunately, in the end the cancer always kills its host, but like cancers, these super-rich super-greedy bastards can't think that far ahead.

Returning more specifically to the topic of the article, it was actually censorship by the google that gave me my first hints they were going EVIL. This was actually many years ago, but it took some years to convince me that the google actually was as EVIL as it has become. Just another flavor of company that I am sometimes forced to be involved with because of the lack of options. Freedom? In a flying pig's eye. Capitalism? Sure, like the sheep being polled about which wolf has the prettiest teeth. We're just a bunch of sheeple playing in the games of wolves.

TINY thread of hope in the case of the google. They don't actually control the entire Internet. They barely contribute to it at all, merely harvesting directions to the creative work of OTHER people. The google actually needs some credibility, and they are losing it quite rapidly. Maybe google will fall down and go boom.

Unfortunately, when you consider the sick game of business, maybe the replacement will be worse.

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Why has the web gone to hell? Market chaos and HUMAN NATURE

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: Two problems: Live and let spam and abuse of anonymity

Just reflecting on why I don't hate the flamers so much. I dismiss them as loonies of the essentially harmless sort.

Probably the source of the down votes, however. They might not like to be held in contempt and they don't have the sick cleverness required to become spammers?

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Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Two problems: Live and let spam and abuse of anonymity

I think the two main problems can be tagged as the spammers and the flamers. The first are motivated by sociopathic greed, but many of the second group are apparently just plain sociopaths without rational motivations. Maybe I'm too much of an economic animal, but at least I can understand the spammers--and I actually hate them more than the flamers.

To me, the most amazing thing about the spammers is that they can only survive on our collective sufferance and tolerance. They are criminals waving signs, but we basically ignore their activities because it is too much bother to care. From the spammers perspective, the marginal cost of email is regarded as zero, so another million annoying spam messages is quite well justified if it gets one more sucker to give them a credit card number.

However, since I think most people are basically good folks, I actually think there is a solution for most of the commercial spam: Cut off the money. In simple terms, if any of the big email providers gave us better anti-spam tools, and if only a few of the annoyed people used those tools, we could completely overwhelm the tiny number of actual suckers who feed the spammers. The spammers would lose their money and hence their motivation. They wouldn't become decent human beings, but at least they would crawl under less visible rocks.

The abuse of anonymity thing is actually more difficult to deal with because there actually are legitimate cases where anonymity is called for. My weird constraint is that all legitimate secrecy is justified by other secrecy, but that doesn't break the chain. At least I haven't come up with any example where anonymity is justified for its own sake. The classic example of the secret whistleblower is predicated upon a secret crime to be reported, but if the crime was already known, then there would be no need of reporting it. How about the secret ballot? Well, if any revenge-seeking measures were public, then again there is no need for secrecy. (If the vengeful politician can take public revenge and get away with it, then it wasn't an actual election in the first place, and the secret ballot would have made no difference.)

The people who abuse anonymity to attack other people solely because they can't be caught are abusing the legitimate need for anonymity in some cases, but I don't see a solution--unless maybe it's the total collapse of all secrecy, which certainly seems to be where we are headed. Obviously if they only attack because of the secrecy, the death of secrecy will cure them. Seems to be one of those problems that will cure itself with a bit of patience, but I'm not especially comfortable with the idea of living in a goldfish bowl.

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Boffins propose security shim for Android

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

It's the humans, stupid, and boy, are they stupid

I think the single approach that would most hurt the criminals would be if the suckers would stop installing their apps, and the single kind of information that would most deter the suckers from installing the apps is knowing the REAL financial motivations of whoever is distributing the app.

Of course, that kind of "reality" is too much to hope for, but if some attempt were made to present the financial information, then it would help in a lot of cases. Most of the legitimate financial models are pretty well known, and the google could basically offer them as selectable options--and in most of those cases the google could offer some independent evidence as to whether or not the developer is telling the truth, and lock that part down so the developer can't tamper with it. Does the developer say he will get money from ads? Then the google can say they are paying advertising revenue. Is it a limited version for a paid version? Then the google can report that a paid version actually exists and is actually earning some sales.

Of course the google doesn't understand this, do they?

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Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

I am strongly opposed to censorship, but this beheading video manages to cross my line because the making of the video with the intention that people watch it and be frightened because of the video was an intrinsic part of the motivation of the vicious crime. If they knew that no one would see the video, then they might not have killed him, and anyone deliberately acting to distribute that video should be traced and arrested for aiding a crime or encouraging future crimes. By making terrorism succeed, that person is guaranteeing future acts of terrorism.

I actually think that professional journalists might be required for the sake of their work to watch it, but the general principle here is to negate the murderers' intentions by NOT watching the video. The sad punchline is that the victim died for the sake of freedom of speech, the underlying principle of serious journalism.

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Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Abuse of the First Amendment

If you're so proud of your actions, why the mask?

In general I am quite opposed to censorship, but I just want to go on record (since the topic has apparently not been addressed clearly) that this is clearly on the other side of the bright line, and the censorship is fully justified. This was a deliberate crime performed for the sake of creating the video and with the deliberate intention of propagating the video to threaten other innocent people.

The double irony is that the victim had dedicated his life to the First Amendment. The vicious murderer in the mask would never understand why.

P.S. Other countries have other tags for the freedom of speech, but I'm just framing it from the American perspective because it was also the victim's.

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Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

So that's what was going on, but I still argue for installing over not

One of my machines (out of 4 or 5 with Windows 7) has had 3 BSODs since this patch Tuesday, but a second machine had quite a bit of problem getting the updates installed. My initial hypothesis was that some 3-letter agency was having compatibility problems with their spyware, so I'm almost relieved by this explanation of mere incompetence. Only "almost" since this article mentions Langley. I'm sure it's just another harmless coincidence.

Not that I have any reason to protect my privacy, of course. I know I'm not likely to do anything interesting, so they are just spying on my computers because the light is better over here. It's such a nuisance to look for actual terrorists in the dark shadows without conveniently pwnable computers, eh?

By the way, as regards the post by John Tserkezis, I still have to recommend quick patching. Once Microsoft reveals the latest crop of their incompetence, you are in a race condition. If the black hats can reverse engineer the patches, your computer is just an accident waiting to happen. If you patch, then at least you are in the latest and greatest race to be pwned, so to speak.

Think what a different world it would be if Microsoft were actually liable for their mistakes. You could bet that they would be much more cautious in their programming practices. Mayhaps my computer wouldn't even be smothered under over 120 mostly mysterious processes and some 150 plus services (according to what Task Manager can see), any of which might be buggy. Oh wait. I should say "Most of which are buggy, but any of which might be mostly harmless."

Frankly, I think this level of incompetence should justify an emergency patch from the Microsoft. Oh wait. I keep forgetting the EULA. Whatever happens, NOTHING is Microsoft's fault, so why would they care about how soon they fix this SNAFU?

Freedom = (Meaningful + Unconstrained) Choice ≠ Beer | Microsoft

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Google's ANDROID CRUSHING smartphone rivals underfoot

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

You are only free to choose the lesser evil?

Actually the relative weakness of the google's control over Android is probably one of its most attractive features. The downside is the increased risk from malware apps.

These days it seems like most of the major companies are primarily notable for their degree of EVIL, and too often I feel like I'm being forced into a choice between lesser evils. As someone who used to think that the google was a nice company, now I just feel quite naive. Apple's evil is more philosophic, but apparently the most profitable. My interpretation is that they are basically against freedom and expect their customers to accept their products as mysterious black boxes not to be understood or interfered with. Meanwhile Microsoft is trying to convince us they've given up their evil ways, but the mask keeps slipping. If they offered an actually superior OS, then I wouldn't feel so bad about being stuck with a Windows XP box, eh? Actually, I think Microsoft has become to most resemble GE when they were sitting on FM radio because the AM profits were satisfactory.

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Naughty NSA was so drunk on data it forgot collection rules

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

What is the bounds on the number of years?

I thought the article was joking about the redaction on the number of years. Evidently not, but I wish they had put some bounds on the value, both for when it could have started and on when it ended (unless it is still continuing). Actually, even if they say it ended, it's probably continuing.

The main problem to me is that they are collecting vast amounts of data just because the light is better there. No, I'm not a terrorist, have no terrorist friends, and would fink on a terrorist if I ever got the chance--but the NSA still knows everyone I've ever called.

Actually, I usually use pay phones for originating calls, so I've defeated the NSA. Not that I have anything to hide. I just have a lousy and expensive calling plan--because I don't make many calls.

Sorry, NSA, I didn't mean to stand where the light was bad and deprive you of so much of my personal data.

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Hollywood star Robin Williams dies of 'suspected suicide' at 63

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: When will we take mental health seriously?

It's also the stigma attached to being average. To "succeed" in today's world, especially to succeed on a large scale (and Robin Williams certainly succeeded), you have to be more than a little bit crazy. I also suspect that he was bipolar, but if the "appropriate" chemical treatment would have threatened his success, even his ability to earn a living, then I can't blame him for wanting to succeed. I think we should blame ourselves for so badly wanting him to succeed in spite of the personal costs...

My own take is that everyone is a little crazy. In joke form, "Everyone's crazy save thee and I, and sometimes I wonder about thee/me/us." On the scale of humor as defined by Robin Williams, the joke doesn't move the needle.

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Gmail gains support for non-ASCII email addresses

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

How do you know if the unsubscribe is legit?

Trick question. You can't. Neither can the google, but working together it would be possible to get much closer. For example, you can report that you never requested a subscription in the first place, and google can test unsubscribe mechanisms with honeypot addresses. Together you can check if you issued an unsubscribe request in the past and see that it is not being honored.

This is actually important to distinguish some legitimate mail lists from spammers, but it isn't trivial.

The real problem, of course, is that the google has become too EVIL to care. Have you ever seen their miserable and execrable excuse for a spam-reporting form? Not worth your search if you haven't.

If the google wasn't so EVIL, then they would offer some really effective anti-spammer tools that would allow us to help destroy the spammers' business models. Less money = less spam. You don't have to be a good Samaritan, but I think there are plenty of people like me who would be glad of the opportunity to help disrupt ALL of the spammers' infrastructure, pursue ALL of the spammers' accomplices, and help ALL of the spammers' victims.

Well, actually I don't really care about the corporate victims or the fools who just need to be protected from themselves. My own concern is mostly with the innocent victims such as children who think they are getting a new game to play while they pwn their phones or computers. You'd be hard pressed to convince me there are more despicable bastards out there.

But the google don't care. EVIL.

The google could not possibly care less. I suppose the real question is how the google profits from the spammers. I just can't believe their also stupid enough to provide so much support for spammers without getting their beak wet. EVIL.

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African samba queen: Don't cut off pirates' net connections – cut off their FINGERS

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

No reason to get so unreasonable--unless it's on the list of optins

What we need is an integrated anti-spammer anti-scammer system. Actually, it should have a provision for bringing in external scams, too, but you basically want to be as open as possible, so no matter which way the spammers and scammers turn, you can still hit them. I'm not saying that they will become decent human beings, even without the fingers, but just that they are driven by the profits, and the smaller the profits, the smaller the problem.

The system should involve several iterations of analysis and targeting. At each point the human spam-fighting volunteer will either confirm or correct the server's analysis. After a couple of rounds of analysis, the webforms will be focusing on the most effective countermeasures. The basic idea is to break ALL of the spammers' infrastructure, pursue ALL of the spammers' accomplices, and help (as mostly protect them from their own stupidity) ALL of the spammers' victims. Yes, I might make a mistake in my analysis of a particular piece of spam, but a bunch of people will be extremely likely to get it right and even reach an agreement on the best responses.

Look at it this way. There are LOTS of people who hate scammers, but only a few suckers out there. If you make it easier to block the spammers away from their suckers, then their money will get really small. Like their penises.

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