* Posts by Shannon Jacobs

680 posts • joined 9 Apr 2007

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Microsoft fires legal salvo at phone 'tech support' scammers

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

But what does the scammers EULA say?

This story amuses me. If Microsoft were held fully accountable for all the crimes they are responsible for, then I'm convinced they would be bankrupt. About the best you can say regarding this particular scam is that Microsoft only set the stage for the crooks.

If Microsoft had actually accepted responsibility for the problems in their software, then you can bet they would have designed MUCH better software in the very first place and the scammers wouldn't have such a juicy market of Microsoft so-called customers to pray upon. Heck, if the scammers have a sense of humor, they probably have a EULA patterned after Microsoft's that says nothing that goes wrong is in any way their fault or liability.

By the way, the "so-called" before "customers" is because of Microsoft's other major business innovation. They don't market to the actual victims AKA users of their software. The marketing efforts are targeted at the manufacturers, and we, the users, are merely obliged to go along, quality of the software being irrelevant.

Dare I post it? It certainly appears that any criticisms of Microsoft elicit lots of mysterious down votes. Hey, let's hear why you're defending Microsoft or I'll just assume you're a professional flunky or sock puppet of some sort.

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Sony sued by ex-staff over daft security, leaked privates

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: "criminally-culpable negligence"

Well, the down votes indicate a lot of people disagreed, but the comments are so muddled that I'm not clear what they disagreed about. Presumably a waste of keystrokes to attempt to clarify at this late date, so I'll just add the very short clarification of the relationship:

Microsoft's EULA says that whatever they did wrong, you can't sue them for the harmful consequences. That is now the precedent established for major companies, especially in the high tech industry. Sony has lawyers, too, and you can rest assured that their contracts include similar wording. It's probably a blanket disclaimer, but if their lawyers are sharp enough, there's probably a specific disclaimer for email losses, too, probably right after the place where you agree that they can read all of your email for any 'legitimate' reason, but 'promise' not to abuse the postmaster power. Yes, you could argue it's an overabundance of caution, since so much email is not even under Sony's control (since the origin or destination is outside of Sony), but lawyers are extreme cowards of the most natural sort.

If you need to down vote, be brave enough to say why, eh?

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Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

"criminally-culpable negligence"

You say "criminally-culpable negligence"? Does not compute!

Seriously, you need to look at your EULA to see what happened to that concept. Or are you really trying to say that Sony didn't spend enough on lawyers to copy the Microsoft fine print?

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El Reg Redesign - leave your comment here.

Shannon Jacobs
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How to pay for resources for responsive design: Let US do it

First the summary: After a week, I still see no advantage of the new design, and it still feels less useful than the design it replaced. I would accuse it of being less intuitive, too, but I can't really remember how long it took to get used to the previous design. For example, the hot article feature was good and easy to figure out, but I'm not even sure if it exists in the new design...

Wasting the keystrokes on the funding suggestion, but:

Two-part project:

(1) Implementation costs: When enough people pledge to implement the responsive design, then you release the funds and do that project. (As previously suggested, you would be holding the money already.)

(2) Operating costs: On an annual project basis. Of course key features should be funded years in advance, but if the so-called responsive design is not a key feature, you should implement it to allow it to be turned off if there are not enough donors for the operating costs. The website would continue operating, but we would see a link to the operating-cost project. As a concrete example, imagine that the 2016 year is not funded at the end of 2015. Then the responsive interface would turn off, but we would see the link to fund it, if we really want that feature. Imagine the thrill of being the last donor who gets to turn on the popular feature? You could even feature that donor at the top of the funding donation page for the feature. Then again, if no one actually wants to support the feature, then it should remain turned off, sorry. If I had been one of the people who had wanted to put 10 quid towards enabling it, then I might be unhappy, but no skin off my nose. My pledge would become available for some other project.

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Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Obviously driven by the ads to destroy your actual assets

You didn't mention the two most obvious changes I've noticed so far. You increased the visibility of the ads and made the overall effect more intrusive (and therefore less attractive) and you made the comments less accessible (and presumably more controllable AKA easier to censor).

What are your actual assets? I think you have two: Integrity and credibility. Rewording as questions, do you speak the truth, and do we believe you when you speak? Showing how much you worship the ads damages both of your actual assets. The probable result will be fewer eyeballs for you to sell, resulting in lower revenue, resulting in greater desperation, resulting in a death spiral. Nothing special there, looking at the state of Web-based journalism.

Hey, why don't you try a different business model? Here's a version of an ancient suggestion adapted to your situation: I call it #MDFC (More Democratic Funding Campaigns), but you might prefer to think of it as "better than Kickstarter". Essentially, you would EARN a commission by supporting constructive projects related to your stories.

For simplicity and because the Register isn't worth a lot of effort for customization, I'll use an example based on a problem. A hot one right now is Web neutrality, eh? After an article on the topic, you would offer 3 to 5 links to #MDFC projects to help SOLVE the problem. You would earn your commission (let's say 5%?) by supporting the project proposal and EVALUATION of how well it worked. You would make sure that each proposal is complete, including a feasible budget and schedule for ALL of the required resources. You would work to make sure (based on your increasing experience with prior proposals) that nothing crucial is omitted, like testing or the cost of a satisfaction survey. Most importantly, you would make sure the project has clear success criteria. If enough of the readers like the project and pledge money, then you would fund the project (and take your cut) and afterwards, you would evaluate it. (By the way, a project might be internal, such as additional research and another article on the problem.)

Where does the money come from? You can hold it by acting as the "charity share brokerage" and we would trust you to manage our "charity share brokerage accounts". After we pledged all of our donation to various projects, we could look back at our donation history, see how much good we had done by helping to fund those projects, and hopefully decide it's worth another donation.

Convince me you're interested and I'll reveal some of the viral funding aspects...

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Nork-ribbing flick The Interview AXED: Sony caves under hack terror 'menace'

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: NORKs ought to fund assassination of POTUS, staring Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu

Are you being sarcastic? If so, your presentation is poor. It's a major stretch to interpret your comment as some sort of free speech claim rather than as a racist attack on President Obama.

Are you trying to say the terrorists should have come up with millions of dollars to fund their own assassination movie, or, as seems to be the case, you are saying you would approve of and presumably pay to see a movie about the assassination of Obama?

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Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Terrorists win BIG time--America is now a nation of cowards

What this means is that EVERY future movie project will be considered in terms of the risk of a "release-killing terrorist threat". Anything that is too provocative or risky will never even be made because the studio will be afraid of losing the entire investment.

In addition, you can look forward to the terrorists pushing the line to see exactly which movies they can censor. Well, "look forward" is too soft. Rather you can count on it. The precedent has been clearly established, even if the movie itself was a muddled message.

Freedom = (Meaningful - Coerced) Choice ≠ (Beer | Speech)

You do NOT have the freedom to choose to watch this movie, so this is a place where free speech crosses into the freedom area.

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EU Google-bashing is making us look really bad, say Google bashers

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Hey, if your business model is cancer, you have to protect the google

The friend of Microsoft is not necessarily your enemy, though it turns out that way about 99% of the time. The problem is that Microsoft epitomizes cancer as a business model, so they have to be nervous about attacks on the google's cancerous nature. Remember the google's motto "All your attentions is belonging to us."

If it makes you feel any better, Amazon is worse and even more EVIL than the google. I stopped shopping with Amazon more than 10 year ago because of their intrusive and aggressive use of my purchase history, but that hasn't stopped them. The other day I visited Amazon and checked some information on a book, and Amazon responds by emailing me a list of related books they want me to buy.

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Chum's house burnt down? Facebook mulls 'DISLIKE' button for that

Shannon Jacobs
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Facebook = SPAM

Facebook = SPAM is all you need to know, but they aren't the most annoying. Right now I think Amazon is still the world champion of in-your-face intrusions. A bit off topic, but consider it a warning of where Facebook would like to go: I stopped shopping at Amazon over 10 years ago because of their high-pressure sales abuses of my interests, but they are STILL doing it. A few days ago I checked a book on Amazon. I had already read it but wanted to check a detail about the English original. Then I received email from Amazon with a list of related books they were hoping to sell me. Remember I have NOT bought anything from Amazon in over a decade, and they are STILL in my face.

Anyway, on the topic of Facebook fake "likes" and fake "friends", the real problem is the oversimplification of messy reality. The world is NOT one-dimensional and binary, no matter how convenient that is for Facebook. (The comment about a "sympathize" button was sort of on the right track.)

So does anyone need an Ello invite? Interesting and promising, though I have doubts about economic models, or rather what appears to be the lack of a viable economic philosophy. In that regard, Facebook is also on trial. We know Microsoft's economic model works with total disregard for the negative qualities of their software...

(Yeah, I know you aren't supposed to mention Microsoft in a negative light. Apparently it elicits negative clicks from Microsoft's pet trolls.)

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Microsoft pulls a patch and offers PHANTOM FIX for the mess

Shannon Jacobs
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Here's the REAL fix

Make Microsoft bear some responsibility for the costs of their errors. Though it was a very successful business model innovation and helped Microsoft make lots of money so they could pretty much take over the computers of the world, in practice it has been really bad. In fact, my firm belief is that if MS were suddenly required to pay for all the damages caused by their errors and carelessness, the company would be bankrupt. (Their other major business model innovation was selling upstream, to the manufacturers, so they could basically ignore the actual users of their software. Actually, it's an exaggeration to give MS full credit for either of these, but MS perfected them.)

So here's a way to implement a solution: Cut Microsoft into separate pieces and require they compete with each other. Each company would start with a copy of the source code and an equal fraction of the employees and facilities and equipment, and after that they have to compete. They can even work on a standard version of Windows (as seen by the installed programs), but any information they exchange (for example about the Windows APIs and how they work) has to be exchanged in public.

Rather than eternal bandages, the daughter companies would have strong incentives to offer real solutions. For example, MS-A might add a data recovery service to provide some protection against loss or theft. MS-B might offer a more expensive OS but with backup services and security signatures imbedded into your data to protect it from theft. MS-C might go the route of focusing on performance speed without accepting any increase in liability. Whatever. The point is that we would have real choice = real freedom and as the code bases diverged, we would get more real security, too.

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Lenov-OUCH! 500,000 laptop cables recalled in burning mains cock-up

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

This is why the real world (Ma Nature's world) isn't so profitable

The real world isn't insanely fixated on maximum efficiency and profits. So this company won a bunch of contracts by being a tiny bit cheaper than the other companies. Well, now we see why. The big customers wind up taking a much bigger hit for trying to save a few pennies.

So the companies will focus on minimizing their liability just in case any of the victims are become collateral damage. In other words, the cheapness might cause a fatal fire, and we can't hurt the big companies just because someone dies for their cheapness. Just ask the politicians they bribed!

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Mom and daughter SUE Comcast for 'smuggling' public Wi-Fi hotspot into their home

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Wow, I can't decide who is more selfish here

The only basis I see for the lawsuit is to judge who is more selfish, but I'd be inclined to rule against the mother here. Yes, Comcast is double-dipping, essentially reselling the same access point, but that also means they are offering better service to other customers without incurring the extra costs. If the security is implemented properly (but perhaps it should be a big IF when you consider the latest security fiascoes such as Sony's), then there are no privacy problems there.

The only possibly valid part would be if the electricity usage is significantly different because of this double-dipping, and I'm basically certain it isn't. If the hot spot is active enough for that to be a concern, then Comcast is going to add some more hotspots in the area. If they relied on the single hotspot for a bunch of customers, and it goes down, they would get too many headaches (in addition to all of the regular complaints about poor throughput on the heavily loaded hotspot). Not in their interest to create such imbalance.

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'Sign in with LinkedIn' spoof allows baddies to penetrate Slashdot, NASDAQ.com and more

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Whoa. Are you sure you didn't say "Facebook"?

Boy, this sure sounds like it might be related to some mysterious Facebook spam I started seeing some months ago. The mechanism must have been slightly different, but they better start looking at it, eh? (Yes, as a responsible wannabe good Samaritan spam-hating human being, I actually sent full copies to both Facebook and the google (of EVIL), but no evidence they were paying attention.)

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Google kills CAPTCHAs: Are we human or are we spammer?

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Just another form of pattycake with the spammers and scammers

If the google were sincere about fighting the problem, then they would go after the spammers' business models. For example, they could create tools to allow us to donate a bit of our human intelligence (as motivated by our hatred of spam) to prevent the spammers from getting any money. They supply of suckers is MUCH smaller than the LARGE number of people who HATE SPAM. Why doesn't the google give us the tools to disrupt ALL of the spammers' infrastructure (rather than provide it), pursue ALL of the spammers' accomplices (rather than hide them), and help and protect ALL of the spammers victims (rather than help the spammers destroy the reputations of the same companies that are actually paying the google for ads).

I could answer at length with examples, but I'm just going to summarize: Because the google is EVIL. Their new motto is "All of your attentions is belonging to us!"

Okay, I can't resist one example of annoying google EVIL. It's the new trend in fake Android ads. The idea is to get you to click and install various kinds of poorly vetted and dangerous apps. There are several forms of it, but the two most frequent (that I've been noticing) are (1) fake controls for some kind of media player, typically showing nothing but a "Play" and "Download" button and (2) fake mailbox notifier, usually with the circle number thing to trick you into thinking there are some personal messages coming in. I think the "Download" one is most diabolical because its easy for the sucker to get confused and think something like "Did I actually want to download this app?" By which time, it's probably too late.

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Microsoft hikes support charges by NINETY TWO PER CENT

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

It isn't extortion, just check your EULA

Kind of amazing to me, but obviously this is support as extortion, but by a different name. Any business that pays that kind of money has a desperate problem. They are facing a much larger loss, and if you look at Microsoft's EULA, low and behold you shall discover that it isn't Microsoft's fault and there is nothing you can do about it.

1. Make buggy software

2. Disclaim all liability

3. Rack desperate suckers over the coals

4. PROFIT

Microsoft's other business model innovation was to sell to the makers, bypassing the end users almost entirely. Hey, but you're not supposed to argue with "success".

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Man asks internet for $1k for pebbles. INTERNET SAYS YES

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Charity as a stupid lottery?

I know that some donors want to be anonymous, but it isn't supposed to be because you donated to something really stupid.

So does anyone know of a better alternative? Rather than getting a cut off of lottery winners with no pretense of a concern as to whether anything was accomplished, I'm looking for something like Kickstarter/IndieGoGo, but where they actually EARN their cut by providing project management support. Here are some of the questions that should be addressed in a project that I'd be motivated to support (and even want to see my name associated with as one of the donors):

(1) What are the required resources, including personal commitments?

(2) What is the schedule?

(3) What are the itemized costs? Including fair payment to the workers, I hope.

(4) Is there any testing required?

(5) What is the total budget?

(6) Is this project part of a larger project? Foundational or additional?

(7) What does success look like?

To my way of thinking, the success criteria of (7) are the most important. It would be nice to look over my donations and see how many projects I'd supported that actually accomplished what they promised. Then I'd have a basis to donate some more money. Not that I'm rich, but I think even small donors should be treated with more respect than they get these days.

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Legendary Brit physicist Stephen Hawking gets full Intel comms refresh

Shannon Jacobs
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Holmes

Re: Hmmm.

Because he thinks better than trolls like you.

Now is there a filter on Reg to make the troll go away?

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One year on, Windows 8.1 hits milestone, nudges past XP

Shannon Jacobs
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Microsoft doesn't talk to real customers

Only comment that hit on my theme (in quasi-math form):

Freedom = (Meaningful - Coerced) Choice ≠ (Beer | Speech)

Microsoft may make most of the world's worst software, but their business models are great, basically with two innovations. #1 breaks my equation by marketing to the makers, not the actual victims who have to use the software. #2 is the EULA denial of all liability for any damages caused by any degree of badness in the software you agreed to use.

Still haven't found any feature in Windows 7 (or later) that would induce me to upgrade from XP for any positive reason. In other words, Microsoft is rewarded for their bad software by making us too scared of their old bugs to stay with XP.

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Tenacious Twitter tries to topple terrible trolls

Shannon Jacobs
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Better maturity filter?

How about a better kind of maturity filter? If enabled, any identity younger than your setting would become invisible? My own theory (with moderate support from observations) is that few trolls live longer than a month, and even less for the sock puppets. Long-lived trolls can be blocked, but a maturity setting around 3 months would probably block around 99% of them.

Hey, I don't want to interfere with their freedom of screech. But they have no right to my having to see their tripe.

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Will security concerns scupper your BYOD policy?

Shannon Jacobs
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BYOD versus Quality of Life

My working opinion on this topic is that BYOD for work purposes should essentially be banned. Not because of the security threats (and they are quite real and substantial), but mostly because of the deep conflict with work/life balance. As far as I have heard, EVERY company is at least paying lip service to the quality of their employees' lives, and explicitly admitting their needs to be a balance between work and non-work, but what part of 24/7/365 is a balance?

From another perspective, if ANY employee is actually that essential to the survival of the company that 24/7/365 availability is required, then the 2nd thing the companhy needs to do is to FIRE that employee. Of course 1st was creating the infrastructure (probably of other employees) to replace that employee, but the employee still needs to be fired to prevent it from happening again. Either that, or wait for the indispensable employee to get hit by a bus, at which time the company will have no option but bankruptcy.

It's always better to view things in terms of constructive solutions. The mobile devices are actually good, but they are now inexpensive enough that companies should provide them to their employees solely for work-related purposes. At the end of the working day, the employees should be strongly encouraged to turn them off, or even leave them in the office. That's what BALANCE means.

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Twitter App Graph exposes smartphone spyware feature

Shannon Jacobs
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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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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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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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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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