* Posts by Shannon Jacobs

759 posts • joined 9 Apr 2007

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Hold my vodka, comrade – I got this: Russians blast supplies to the ISS

Shannon Jacobs
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Re: It just boggles the mind!

Two disastrous failures in 135 missions is not highly reliable. Big dumb boosters are much more cost effective for routine payloads.

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Windows 7 and 8.1 market share surge, XP falls behind OS X

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Now students, please use "free" and "Microsoft" in the same sentence.

Just hard for me to trust Microsoft after so many years of non-niceness. Let me break it into two categories:

(1) The money. The paying customers are the makers. Every upgrade of a Windows 7/8/8.1 machine is NOT the purchase of a newly manufactured machine. Microsoft has lots of cash in the bank and might not care, but the makers are in a viciously competitive low-margin business, and a substantial drop in their sales is liable to push some of them under. One of the possibilities is that Microsoft expects to have a better grip on the balls of the surviving makers--but I can think of others that are worse.

(2) Technical. I do not know of a SINGLE carrot in Windows 10. Not one new feature that I desperately need or even want. Actually, the Windows OSes passed my normal needs a LONG time ago, and all the cruft since then is just increasing my feeling of vulnerability for a bit of shiny. It's really hard for me to think of a single crucial feature since Windows 95, though of course I'd like the option to add some capabilities AS actually NEEDED and at the application level, NOT the OS level. Yes, some features of the OS have gotten faster, but not enough to notice since I'm already the slowest horse in the cavalry, as the old joke goes.

If I had the choice, I'd probably be running a completely debugged version of Windows 95, and I'm sure such a think OS would run the pants off Windows 10, to boot, while also being more secure and understandable. Oh wait. I forgot. Microsoft decides those things, not us.

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Teaching people to speak English? You just need Chatroulette without the dick pics

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: why english?

Good question. I was actually thinking about submitting a suggestion for a kind of vocabulary-based reading game with some derivative ideas from a Japanese game known as shiritori. The design of this game is actually quite flexible, allowing it to be used for any language learners, from children learning their first language to L2 adults to wannabe language teachers, and for any language... Well, any language that has some news-related websites and some level-sorted vocabulary lists.

Turned out it that it's a lottery. You have to pay $500 for a ticket.

Neo-GOP "charity" in action. We can't notice you unless you have $500. Poor peasants need not apply.

I'd say something rude, but I'm not rich enough to throw $500 just to get Dubya's attention.

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Google presses 'send' on 'undo send' – AT LAST

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Six years to come up with a better idea? FAIL.

Not a terrible idea, but a terribly slow implementation and it could be so much better, too. If it isn't the EVIL that's rotting their brains, there's something else going wrong at the google.

Rather than a specialized Unto feature, imagine a general future-mail feature. For the undo function, you provide a setting to make the default delivery time later than the send time. In my own case, I'd actually prefer to have a 5-minute delay, but 30 seconds is not long enough to be especially helpful. If you think faster or slower, your mileage (and setting time) may differ. In that version, you just put it as a delay in the Outbox, and opening the Outbox will freeze the sending (with a warning, of course) and allow you to view any undelivered email. Again, it should be controlled by a user setting, but I'd recommend the default be something like an "Undo-able" button or "Unsend" option when there is pending email, and the click just takes you to the Outbox.

Now for the generalization: I want a "considerate delivery" option. That would consider whether or not the email is likely to be rude or inconsiderate, based on rules that I can control for my recipients. If I know that someone receives email on their smartphone, then I would prefer that non-urgent email not be delivered at 3 in the morning in their time zone because it might wake them up. Is it routine work-related email? Then I'd prefer it not be delivered until working hours. I don't want to contribute to work/life imbalance.

Another generalization would be for tickler use to support the Calendar, sending yourself (or someone) a future reminder to make sure some task has been handled. Various others, but the real point is that general tools are better.

Of course, if the google wasn't EVIL, then they would have offered the generalized tool to break the spammers' business models. Same as it ever was, the main problem with email remains the spam. Obviously, I lost my warm and fuzzy feeling about the google.

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SGI to flick switch on new Japanese super

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Why the minor press release?

Is there something significant or interesting about this machine? Might be in the top 20 for supercomputers, but nowhere near the top, so that doesn't seem to merit a feature article. Power efficiency? If so, the article should have played it up more.

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Microsoft U-turns on 'free' Windows 10 upgrade promise for ALL previewers

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Hard to trust Microsoft on Windows 10...

The words "free" and "Microsoft" do not mix well, so when Microsoft says this is a "free" upgrade to Windows 10, it is basically impossible for me to believe that there is no catch. Here's the best I can do:

I need to see a credible explanation of WHY Microsoft would do this. To be credible, there are at least two requirements:

(1) It needs to explain the money side of it.

(2) The venue of the explanation has to be independent of Microsoft's control.

Let me try to make those conditions as clear as I can:

Condition (1) is not an expectation of opening their books. However, it has to make it clear at least roughly how much this "free" will really cost Microsoft and why MS would feel that it's worth that much money. The most plausible public explanation that I've seen is that MS believes that this is the best way for them to retain unified control over the Windows OS community. If that is true, then the threats need to be made clear. Mac? Chromebooks? Linux? In any case, the public explanation doesn't make much sense to me, and I'd like to see credible explanations of the nonpublic possibilities.

Condition (2) is actually split. One side is that it can't be published by Microsoft or on any Microsoft-controlled website. The other side is begging for journalism of credibility and integrity, which may be too much to hope for these days. The Reg's skepticism might be part of it...

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Sun like it hot: Philae comet probe wakes up, phones home again

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Pretty certain those numbers don't make sense

However, my competing wild guess would be that the transmitter is weak, so getting closer will greatly improve the data transfer rate. Data storage does not seem to be a problem on the lander end, though what I've read has only been indirect evidence on that topic.

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Ubuntu daddy Mark Shuttleworth loses fight to cancel $20m bank fee

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Already knew his judgment was less than perfect

Been trying to use Ubuntu for years, in spite of the frequently flawed decisions of the big donor financial model...

Hey, here's a silly idea. Listen to the small donors, too. Let us help pay for the features we want, even including support of features we don't want broken.

*sigh* I'm not in the mood to waste more keystrokes again, but details available upon polite and sincere request from someone who can actually use them... I'm increasingly convinced the only way to do things is to do them myself, which (1) would require quitting my current job, and (2) require more years of life than I probably have left. (Bad sign when too many of your old friends have passed on already...)

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Hey Google, what’s trending? Oh, just the death of journalism

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Limits of negativity?

Actually, part of the reason I like the Reg is the skepticism. However, this is a case where you could actually DO something. My oft-repeated always-ignored suggestion is that you start selling SOLUTIONS to the problems you are so delighted to tell us about. Wasting keystrokes, but here's a slightly different version:

You hold the subscription money in a "charity share account" that we can donate towards projects that solve the problems. Perhaps 90% is for internal projects, which basically means you take the money from one pocket to another. For example, an internal project to pay for an article you'd already published might not raise the funding, but that would give you valuable feedback about your bad choices. In contrast, a topic we're actually interested in would fund the project for the original article, a project for more research, and maybe one or more specific follow-on article projects.

The external projects would be special gravy, especially for the authors who sincerely want to solve the problems. In addition, one would hope that their research into and resulting clarity in describing the problem earns them some say in the projects that might help solve the problem.

*sigh* More details available upon request, but I'm not holding my breath waiting for requests. It seems like the only way to make it happen is quit my current fairly satisfactory job and do this one myself.

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It's OK – this was an entirely NEW type of cockup, says RBS

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Have you read Flash Boys?

Should be obligatory background for this topic. Hint: You ain't seen nothing yet--but someone profits.

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Climate change alarmism is a religious belief – it's official

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Skepticism falling over into stupidity

I actually like the skepticism of the Register, but on this topic it has simply tipped over the bottle of pure stupidity. At least seeing the byline saves me having to read farther--and by extension to ANY topic that byline gets associated with.

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'Snowden risked lives' fearfest story prompts sceptical sneers

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Au contraire, they certainly want the cluefull to be afraid

To the contrary, they are targeting both sides. They want the people who understand the truth to know that the truth will be discredited just as easily as lies can be propagated.

Then again, I think the truth here is that Snowden is also a patsy of the sincere sort. I'm sure their anti-spook spooks detected him as a possible security risk and almost as sure that he was fed the information they wanted to be leaked. Ask Michael Hastings if you don't believe me. Oh wait, his car was hacked and used to kill him. Oh wait, it was just another amazing accident.

Oh wait.

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Spy: Acres of comedy talent make this smart spook spoof an instant classic

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

General Theory of Relatively Funny things

My latest theory (with a tip of the hat to Dave Gutteridge) is that humor is linked to learning. Part of the instinctive reinforcement mechanism that drives children to play games and laugh while they are developing survival skills. it even applies to slapstick: It's funny because we are learning how to avoid the pains of getting hit and falling down. Also explains the dearth of rightwing humor: They don't WANT to learn anything that might upset their prejudices and ignorance.

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HP is 80 per cent closer to breaking up. Now, about the IT estate...

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

I can barely recall when HP was one of the best companies in the world...

The decline especially bothers me since so much of it is linked to two women executives, and I would like to see women succeed. HP is NOT succeeding and, speaking as an HP shareholder, I am quite confident this will NOT make the situation better.

Most of the problem is just the anti-freedom corruption of the American economic system. The secret is that real freedom is about meaningful choice without coercion. Freedom and large monopolistic profits don't go together. Instead of dividing highly successful companies to specialize more and reduce choices, they should force the top companies to split into competing companies and give us more freedom and choices.

As a shareholder of HP, in the example to hand, I would wind up with equal value in shares the new competitors. As they competed and diverged, I might sell one in favor of the other, but if the competition leads to more innovation and growth, I'm still going to win by sitting on both of them...

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Latest Snowden leak: NSA can snoop internet to catch 'hackers' – no warrants needed

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: Just how did Snowden get all this info?

My own theory is that he's a patsy. Snowden is sincere, and a true patriot, to boot, but the internal anti-spook spooks spotted him long ago. They recognized he could be used and thus picked him to be fed exactly the information that they wanted released (while pretending not to). If they didn't recognize the psychological profile, then they are too stupid to believe. (Supporting evidence in the amazing technological incompetence of the so-called major journalist who was dragged into it. Greenwald is also sincere, but he was and almost certainly remains a sitting duck for any hacker.)

The real goal of the Snowden "leaks" is to intimidate people, especially hackish computer experts with any trace of paranoia. If you lean that way, you certainly feel justified in being afraid of the government. In conclusion, Michael Hastings was killed by hacking his car. At least I'm thinking so. Maybe it's time for me to have one of those accidents? And you, too, for having read too far?

As regards this article, my own interpretation is that running a Tor browser is probably enough to earn the hacker tag. Or maybe just visiting any webpage where Tor is discussed. Heck, let's go all the way down the slippery slope. Searching for "tor" or any phrase that includes the three-letter sequence "tor" is probably enough to quality as a "hacker" in the NSA's all-seeing eyes.

Have a nice day. Don't get too paranoid.

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Fanbois designing Windows 10 – where's it going to end?

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Is it evil? Is it stupid? Yes, it's Microsoft!

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Superman. NOT Microsoft.

Actually, it's possible that MS isn't as evil as they used to be. It is possible they have enough money. ROFLMAO.

Another logical paradox. Anyone who gets that kind of giant money WANTS the money and will NEVER have enough of it.

Different paradox here. MS marketing people have noticed that people like choice. It's that whole stupid freedom thing of meaningful options without coercion. The problem is that MS lives by coercion and fake choice. This is why they are so confused. The only choices they (barely) want to offer are fake and meaningless choices, like the desktop wallpaper.

Monolithic thinking. Perhaps the natural outcome of a philosophy that is driven by the single metric of money? Companies are NOT people, my friend in a flying pig's eye.

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Finally! It's the year of Linux on the desktop TITSUP

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

What's the best financial model for a dead horse?

If your horse is dead and losing all the races, why don't you flog it harder?

Seriously, the problem is the financial models, NOT the quality of the software. Companies like Microsoft, Oracle, and Apple have good financial models uber alles.

Wasting the keystrokes, but I recommend funding by selling shares to future users, with the projects broken down based on such categories as new software, new features, ongoing costs, or support.

Quick (keystroke-minimizing) example, let's say you want to continue using an old version of Ubuntu but you run into a problem and discover it is no longer supported. Then you might have options to help fund some support or to help create a replacement version. If enough people agree with you, then your option wins and the money gets allocated (from the charity-share brokerage), but if not, you can pick again until you find a solution.

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White House forced to wade into Oracle vs Google Java bickerfest

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: Huh. I would have thought the money spent by Google and associates

Yeah, but all of the recent figures I've seen indicate that the google is spending much more money on lobbying than Oracle is. Ellison is only JV evil now?

On the other hand, the google's lobbying may be more spread out than Oracle's? At this point it seems the google has something of a diffuse focus...

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Windows and OS X are malware, claims Richard Stallman

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: A fool without money will soon be ignored

Must be a Windows Vista user.

The kernel of Apple's OS was BSD... Not sure how far beyond that they've gone, so maybe they deserve more credit.

(On "major" OSes I'm running Yosemite and Windows 7, myself. I'm still using some Ubuntu, but it has mostly been sliding the wrong way for my applications...)

I should clarify as regards Apple that it is the PRINCIPLE of closing the box that I regard as anti-freedom. Microsoft has adopted the same principle, but it wasn't their idea. (Perhaps I should have included that as a count against Microsoft, but never inventing a wheel is not actually a crime, just as reinventing a wheel is also okay.)

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Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

A fool without money will soon be ignored

Actually, rms has mostly gotten ignored for many years. Simple to explain. Bad software with a good economic model works. Stallman has NO viable economic model and no interest in better economic models.

My summary is that Microsoft has gawdawful software but two clever innovations in their economic model. (1) No liability, no matter what their software does to you, and (2) Sell upstream to the manufacturers, and just force the users to take, again, no matter how bad the software is.

In contrast, Apple has devised a clever anti-freedom model of black-box fashions. You do have to give them some credit for better software than Microsoft, but the profit comes from making their technologies into fashion statements.

Linux OUGHT to be competitive, but the financial models all reek like the big dog's m0e. How about #MDFC models to fund better software with charity shares?

(Actually an email exchange with rms helped lead to the key idea of a charity share brokerage, but he wasn't interested, even though he asks exceedingly good questions. The problem in the years since then is that I'm a lousy salesman and worse evangelist. I don't really care about money, either.)

P.S. Appears to be a new feature to make the new post editable in place? Or an old feature and I have a new status? Whatever it is, I like the convenience.

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World loses John Nash, the 'Beautiful Mind'

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Paranoia will destroy'ya?

Yeah, I know he got better, but I have to say that it sure seems like a peculiar and unlikely way to die.

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Rand Paul stages Senate filibuster against Patriot Act

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

My theory on supporters...

This is such a gawdawful law that I only have one theory to explain why anyone would support it. They have already been contacted by the NSA and told about their personal dirt. No, I can't prove that they are being blackmailed, but I can say that NO one is perfect, and the NSA is certainly hoovering up plenty of data that has to contain some dirt.

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Google, Twitter search deal: Did micro-blabbing site gag racy tweets to satisfy ad giant?

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

In gawd's name why would anyone want this?

Just so. I have lots of experience with Twitter, but I certainly can't defend it. Can I claim it was moderately amusing? However, now I would get more amusement from searching a sewage treatment plant.

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We caught Chinese technology spies RED-HANDED, claims US government

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

So naive. Must be American

No, they do NOT work and study in America "solely to pilfer" AMERICAN information, though there is plenty of it going on--in every direction, and not just limited to America and China.

Many of them are quite sincere and just want the best technical education they can get, and in most fields that still requires studying in America. The most important question is how long that will be true. Both China and India are producing far more engineers than the US these days, and even in the cases where some of those engineers got some of their advanced training in the States, the Americans are quite eager to kick them out ASAP, even in those cases where they want to stay and contribute to the American economy. America's technological head start is eroding away and quite rapidly.

(I wanted to include some citations, but it seemed difficult to find all of the data I wanted in one place... Surprisingly scattered?)

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Feds: Bloke 'HACKED PLANE controls' – from his PASSENGER seat

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Not even the first messenger

Actually Richard Clarke specifically mentioned the linked networks in an airplane (not sure if it was that model) in a book "Cyber War", which was published several years ago. However, I think his #1 concern was for the links between the Internet and the power grid controls.

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Penn State University network sacked by China malware blitz

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: The US will be the biggest loser in a Cyber War?

Just a mindless troll? Or you have a substantive point?

Perhaps I should be more precise.

American politicians can be legally and cheaply bribed and the practice is effectively universal. In light of so-called Citizens United and the quid pro quo interpretations of the SCOTUS, it's almost impossible to get in trouble that way. As Clarke's book put it on page 143 (writing before the google eclipsed Microsoft in lobbying): "Microsoft can buy a lot of spokesmen and lobbyists for a fraction of the cost of creating more secure systems." This was near the conclusion of a subsection called "Money Talks". (However, the book is not so old that the google is irrelevant... The authors don't see any connection to security? At least not in the first 2/3...)

In contrast, political bribery in China is expensive and risky. I don't have much data about the frequency or prevalence, but I do know that if the political winds start blowing the wrong way, your past bribery is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get shot.

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Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

The US will be the biggest loser in a Cyber War?

Interesting coincidence that I'm currently reading Cyber War by Richard Clarke and Robert Knake. The main point is that the US probably has powerful offensive capabilities but almost NO defensive capabilities, which is amplified by our extreme reliance and even dependency on our computer networks.

In contrast, China is playing BOTH offense and defense. The Great Firewall of China is actually part of the defensive perimeter, not merely censorship. Private companies don't get to tell the government that network security might reduce their profits. Even more importantly, it's much harder for them to bribe politicians to look away from the problems.

This article should be regarded as another shot across the bow.

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Jeb Bush: Repeal Obamacare and replace it with APPLE WATCHES

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: Aye

Because the friend doesn't exist. Just another lying troll. Easy to tell when they "forget" the specifics. For a while they kept trying to dig up ObamaCare horror stories, and they ALL fell flat as soon as the honest reporters started nosing around.

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Enjoying the Spring? Microsoft has 13 ways to fix that

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Another month, another billion bytes of new code?

Kind of hard to believe. Second month in a row with over a billion bytes (1,168.4 MB) of "routinely urgent" security patches. If I couldn't see the profits and the cash reserves, I'd have to wonder if there was something wrong with that economic model. Heaven forbid there's anything actually wrong with the software!

What's really bothering me about this never-ending flood (or at least minor torrent) of patches is that there must be more bugs where those came from. Just got Richard Clarke's "Cyber War", but the war is against us, and we already done lost. I'm quite sure the NSA has a much bigger list of Windows bugs than Microsoft knows about. (I'd be inclined to think that other national espionage agencies do, too, but perhaps not. At least I hope that none of them shares the NSA's biggest advantage of a copy of the source code...)

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FTC slaps orders on alleged diet pill spamvertising scam scum

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Same as it ever was: SPAM

Tiny wrinkles of improvement in email? Take the new Gmail Inbox, for example. (Please!)

Lipstick on a pig. Ugly chartreuse lipstick on a ugly wrinkled pig.

The main problem with email remains unchanged: It's the SPAM, stupid.

Why don't any of the major email systems provide us with effective anti-spammer tools? Hey, you don't have to help, but I REALLY want to destroy the spammers' business models. Cut them away from the money and the spam problem will be reduced. No, the spammers will not be magically transformed into actual human beings, but they will crawl under less visible rocks.

Today's case in point: Are you smart enough to recognize a diet-pill scam? Then you could help shut it down. Imagine an iterative webform where you would identify the exact countermeasures to hurt the spammers as badly as possible. Arbitrary example (of MANY), but imagine the spammer is using a link shortener. The best countermeasure is NOT to nuke it. The best countermeasure is to repoint it to the spammer's worst nightmare, but that needs some human help. When I recognize the diet-pill scam, then I can suggest the relinking of the spammer's shortened link to point at a website warning about fake diet pills. Voila, the scammer's own spam becomes advertising AGAINST himself.

We could do MUCH better, but the google and Microsoft are too evil to bother, and Yahoo is too near death. Sad that the spam problem will probably outlive all of them. We could do better, and most people are nice enough to want to.

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ROBOT telescope discovers ENORMOUS planetary neighbours

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Color me skeptical?

Well, I agree that it's pure science, but there is something about this discovery that makes me wonder if there isn't some other explanation for the evidence they've gathered. Detecting planets has become something of a scientific fetish these days. Or maybe I just lack the imagination or mathematical sophistication to understand how such a configuration could be stable...

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JP Morgan bank bod accused of flogging customer account info

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Want to bet on an entrapment defense?

Three thought experiments:

(1) This is just the tip of an iceberg, which is frightening or even threatening.

(2) It actually is some kind of entrapment and this guy was targeted for some reason.

(3) It's a new joint venture between the bank and the FBI for testing the ethics of bankers.

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Google polishes Chrome security with Password Alert

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

What is the real motto of the google?

The up-to-date google motto obviously can't be anything about stopping or resisting EVIL. Here's a few sordid real-world-of-today candidates:

(1) Live and let spam!

(2) All your attentions is belonging to US.

Here's a few optimistic candidates that today's google can NOT even consider:

(3) Do not support EVIL.

(4) Share public information with the world and protect private information.

Constructive suggestion time (AKA waste of keystrokes). Most people are good (IMHO), so give us tools to do good things. The google is too lazy or incompetent or EVIL to bother the criminals, but I'd be willing to donate some of my time to help out, and I bet that most people feel similarly--if only the tools existed. Clicking on a "Spam" button is NOT sufficient. Spammers obviously can live with so-called filters, but not with defeated scam models (which is why you don't see pump-and-dump spam now).

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NINETY PER CENT of Java black hats migrate to footling Flash

Shannon Jacobs
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Is anyone suprised? And does anyone want to help out?

Nothing new here, but I guess I'm glad they reminded us. There is no way to convert these scumbags into decent human beings, but if you heat up their rocks enough, they will move to other rocks, hopefully much less visible and dangerous rocks...

I wish there were more tools that would allow the potential victims to help fight against these scumbags. You don't have to help out, but I think there are lots of people who would if they could.

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Google exec and avid climber dies on Mount Everest

Shannon Jacobs
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Agreement and confirmation that I've already seen reports of their hospitals being overloaded. However, one more wrinkle is that they need to be sure such a flight doesn't interfere with more serious relief efforts. Rather than trying to find a place to land near Mount Everest, it might be better if they use a helicopter from a less devastated area for the last leg...

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Facebook fiddles with News Feed algo. Brace yourself for CONTENTGEDDON

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Facebook = SPAM

Let me count the ways, in rough order of most annoying down:

(1) They host Facebook pages for spammers. About 99% certain Facebook also provided the spammers with the email address to spam at, too. Some of the spammers' pages are obvious scams, but others are just soon-to-be-bankrupt quasi-businesses that apparently think it is legitimate to spew crap to people who have absolutely NO interest in their spewage, including never having been in the cities in question or owning any related products, now or ever.

(2) They show racist and unblockable comments in my face. (There are MANY other less offensive comments, but the racist ones are most offensive.) With the vast pile of comments to select from, it is hard to conceive why they pick those, but my theory is that the most unblockable ones are linked to Facebook pages that are somehow paying Facebook and thereby getting protected from the blocking.

(3) They show racist and sort of blockable comments in my face. In this case, it is the large supply of racists that makes it offensive. At least I think these individual racists are sort of blockable, but it is difficult to be sure because of how weirdly the so-called block list works.

(4) They shove 'sponsored' ads of absolutely no interest to me.

(5) They show 'sponsored' ads that might be of interest, but which I will block and seriously try to NEVER shop from.

(6) Some spam originates from Facebook accounts using the Facebook email system. Mostly Chinese stuff, for unknown reasons.

(7) Facebook allows their users to be abused by spammers and scammers based on abuse of the Facebook reputation. You can sort of say this one is outside of Facebook's control, but I say that they should be concerned even to the point of declaring war on such scammers. Of course that's on the theory that Facebook itself isn't a scam and that they have legitimate profits that they could tap a bit from to protect their own supposedly legitimate reputation. I also think the scammers are dumb and wrong about Facebook's "valuable" reputation...

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Google it onna Google phone onna GOOGLE NETWORK. MVNO plan imminent

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Why use GPS rather than signal strength directly?

I'm having a bit of trouble understanding why they would bother with the GPS at all. If they want to know the best WiFi network to use, then the smartphone should periodically scan the available networks and CHECK the signal strengths. Even if the GPS didn't drain the battery and even if it gave accurate locations, that is not going to guarantee the best WiFi signal, even for very approximate senses of guarantee.

In general almost all google news these days supports the hypothesis of increasing EVIL, but at least this one seems neutral. Is that a good thing yet?

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Japan showcases really, really fast … whoa, WTF was that?!

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

There was at least one shinkansen accidental fatality

Guy got caught by his necktie and dragged far enough to kill him. Happened some years ago, so I'm a bit fuzzy on the details, but I think he stepped off the train to use his mobile phone at a station, and then got caught in the door as he tried to get back on board.

There is also this story from about two years ago, though I don't even remember it.

http://www.cnc-communications.com/first-fatal-shinkansen-accident/

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Health apps and wearables make you nervous, not fit, say boffins

Shannon Jacobs
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Continuous monitoring? How about BP?

I think continuous BP monitoring might be the most useful capability for most people, but the devices are still experimental and not yet approved. The continuous monitors use sound and vibration, not pressure, to track the blood pressure. However, you'd think they could start marketing some less reliable BP meters that can at least spot the critical situations?

By the way, I really want to know what the thumb down on my earlier comment was about. Mindless criticism from another mindless critic? Or was there something interesting or provocative in my comment? You'd think I'd have noticed it, eh?

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Shannon Jacobs
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But I love TOYS

Actually, it's not just love of toys, but some concerns about my health that have had me "playing" with some of these devices over the last few years. My own feeling is that most of the data is not useful, but overall I think it reduces worry because it pretty consistently indicates there isn't much to worry about. Your mileage may vary, especially if you have more severe medical problems that I do. Mostly I've concluded that I'm suffering from "getting-old-itis", but the doctors hate to say so.

Having said that, I'm in the market for a sleep meter, and the options are almost overwhelming... Does anyone know of a good database where the various models of such devices are compared on some systematic basis?

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It's 2015 and a RICH TEXT FILE or a HTTP request can own your Windows machine

Shannon Jacobs
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Re: Flash Player - or a Prayer?

That's exactly what I was going to ask. It's not just the monthly patches, but I'd estimate they average an update every week--and the Flash Player still crashes several times a day. That's going back as long as I can remember. How is it POSSIBLE to produce such buggy software and FAIL to fix it for so long?

As regards the Microsoft patches, I'm just getting overwhelmed by the sheer size of them. If you have Office 2013 installed, then this month's patches ran over a gigabyte. Also problems with the emergency patches from Microsoft--there were at least two or three of them that just went in in the last week...

AMAZING. Can you imagine they could distribute such buggy software if they they were actually liable for the damages caused by their bugs? Me neither.

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Apple, IBM jump into bed for health data love in

Shannon Jacobs
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Trying to be optimistic, but...

Given the corporate track record, it's hard to believe the personal data won't be abused...

Having said that, I confess that I'm pretty sure that I qualify as a heavy user of these devices. In fact, right now I'm in the market for a new sleep meter. Does anyone know of some good online database comparing the various features? When I was shopping for my first sleep meter about a year ago, there were only 3 or 5 options in the stores, but on my latest visit, it seemed like at least 30 options. Then there's the exercise trackers, the BP meters, and fancy scales, many of which have options to feed smartphone apps... Just feels overwhelming.

Not exactly a comprehensive solution, but let me mention that EdX is offering a class on this topic, starting next month. I think Rice is the primary sponsor, though Baylor Medical School is involved, too. Even if I can't find such a database, maybe the class will help me understand the most important evaluation criteria?

Now we return you to your regularly scheduled worrying about corporate abuse of your personal information...

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Android gets biometric voice unlocking

Shannon Jacobs
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More erosion of my respect for the google--BAD security

The fix is obvious, but if they can't implement it yet, then they need to wait on voice authentication. The phone should NOT use the same password, but rather show some random text that you have to read. Not perfect, but at least it would beat the most obvious countermeasure of the recorded login.

Whatever happened to the non-EVIL and competent google of so few years ago?

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US hospital boffins demo cancer-busting smartphone kit

Shannon Jacobs
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Wrong problem

The fundamental problem with the for-profit model of medicine is that they have a vested interested in your being sick so they can profit. From the insurance side, they have no sincere interest in reducing costs because higher costs simply mean they can sell you more insurance to pay those higher costs.

By the way, I have experience with the pre-ObamaCare system, and it was outrageously expensive and I would have been bankrupted except for the detail that the other guy had enough insurance to pay for most of the damage he'd caused.

In contrast, my recent experience is with the Japanese healthcare system, which is quite a bit like the ACA (AKA ObamaCare). One major difference is that there are non-profit public insurance options that essentially keep the private insurance companies honest. A second major difference is that the government regulators are relatively competent and even respected and the bureaucrats are actually doing a pretty good job of keeping costs down. Two of the results are long lifespans and low medical costs.

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Russia pulls alleged 'Svpeng' kingpin

Shannon Jacobs
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Show us the money, google

If google hadn't become so EVIL, then they would be taking stronger action to improve Android security. Here's an obvious idea:

SHOW US THE MONEY.

If the developer has a legitimate business model, then it is much more likely that the developer is not a crook. No, it's not a guarantee, but it's the most important data to know, and in some cases it could be pretty close to a guarantee.

Each app on the Google Play website should include a tab for "Financial Model", maybe they should just call it the "Money" tab. The developer gets to say his piece, perhaps by just selecting from one of the most popular financial models, and then the google would say their piece at the bottom, in a place where the developer can't mess with it.

Concrete example of what a developer might say: "This is a free trial version of the <foobar> service, which is doing extremely well."

Concrete example from the google: "We can confirm that the <foobar> service is making substantial revenue."

Of course the more details the developer is willing to divulge, the more basis we would have to decide how much we trust the developer, but even in this simplistic case, we would know that the developer has some legitimacy and would lose that "substantial revenue" if the software is discovered to be malware in disguise. Based on my experiences on Google Play, right now it is almost impossible to get any idea about an app's legitimacy or finances, even though most of them seem to be using minor variations of a few basic models...

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Unpatched 18-year-old Windows man-in-the-middle diddle revived

Shannon Jacobs
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Typos in the first paragraph

As it stands now, there appears to be a misplaced "to" in the fist paragraph.

As the vulnerability report stands, wasn't this the same one that was reported last week? Quite possible that I read about it on the Reg...

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DARPA-funded team says it can SMELL Android malware

Shannon Jacobs
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Follow the MONEY. How does the MONEY smell?

If the google would make it possible for us to know more about the financial models of the developers, that would be the most important factor in detecting malware. If the developer has a sound business model, we don't need to see all the details. It would be sufficient if the google added an annotation something like "Yes, this developer claims to be selling lots of full-featured versions, and our records support that claim" or "This developer claims to be ad-supported, and we confirm substantial ad-related payments." In cases like that, we'd know there is good reason for the developer to be legit, but in another case "The developer claims to be independently wealthy, but we have no evidence of that claim", then the alarm bells should go off.

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Google-Twitter hookup rumours pushes up babble blog site's shares

Shannon Jacobs
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More or less EVIL?

My own opinion is that Twitter is an amazingly worthless waste of time. Stretching my brain to come up with two uses: (1) Source of stupid comments that can be mutated into actually funny jokes on @midnight, and (2) A convenient login mechanism for throwaway websites.

Now considering the worthlessness of Twitter, how would it's acquisition affect the key question: "How EVIL is the google?" YouTube has clearly made the google much more EVIL than before, while most other parts of the google are kind of morally neutral tools (used for both good and bad purposes), but what effect would the Twitter have? I think I'm too biased against stupidity?

Wait a minute. The article claims that Twitter is supposed to be worth $33.7 billion? My bad. Stupid wins again. Go ahead google. What can it hurt?

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Ex-NASA OpenStack pioneer Nebula sucked into black hole

Shannon Jacobs
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Better financial models needed

It's the financial model that matters. Look at Microsoft if you think the quality of the software is significant in comparison.

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Zombie SCO shuffles back into court seeking IBM Linux cash

Shannon Jacobs
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Nothing can stop SCO!

He may be able to divide by zero, but not even Chuck Norris can kill SCO!

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