* Posts by DougS

12863 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

Senator Wyden goes ballistic after US telcos caught selling people's location data yet again

DougS Silver badge

The GSM/LTE call protocol may be an even bigger risk

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, because if this is true (seen on Slashdot, so I don't know) then it may not help much to block cellular companies from selling this info. If I have a cellular modem with an AT&T SIM, apparently I can call any AT&T subscriber and when their phone rings I'll get a packet back indicating the CELLID they are currently using. That would give a ballpark location estimate (within maybe 100m in a city, or a km or two in rural areas) using one of the free sites showing GPS coordinates for a given CELLID.

In a city that's easily enough for a stalker to tell if you are home, at work, at the gym etc. assuming they are spread out a bit. For a jealous spouse to determine you are not where you said you were. For a terrorist/assassin to determine a specific target is at the right location to set off the bomb. Maybe it will take the latter to happen before someone seriously considers the protocol security as a risk?

DougS Silver badge

Re: Re-seller

In today's world I just assume my phone can be tracked by my carrier, and that isn't going to change regardless of who I choose. If there were real privacy protection then I might choose my provider more carefully, and be willing to pay more for a greater assurance of privacy like I do with my phone. There will never be 100% privacy protection (even if you assume companies always keep to the letter of their privacy policies) but some is better than none.

The current situation with cell companies is far worse than with phones - while Google collects every detail about your life they don't directly sell that info to third parties they only allow effectively allow its use by using it to target their ads. If you're wanted by a bail bondsman, they can't get Google to tell them where you are (i.e. where your Android is) but it seems they can with all the major cellular companies in the US. That's bad. Very bad.

DougS Silver badge

Instead of piecemeal legislation

I sure wish there was a way to get real privacy protection. It doesn't do you a whole lot of good if only telcos are restricted from selling location data - no doubt some "tough on crime" senator will tack on an amendment allowing it to be made available to law enforcement without a warrant, because you have nothing to fear if you aren't guilty of something.

What about Google and Apple? What about Facebook and Twitter? What about the million other apps on the App/Play stores that may collect location info? What about Ford and Toyota? What about future wearables which could be almost anything, including maybe even stuff that's a permanent part of you? Some of this (e.g. Facebook) may be thought of as optional, but you'd have to be a committed Luddite to avoid the use of ANY possible location gathering device in your life.

It shouldn't even be allowed for this information to be collected, unless you specifically opt in via free choice. Google and Ford have no more right to this info - even if they keep it to themselves and don't sell it - than T-Mobile does.

Sorry, Samsung. Seems nobody is immune to peak smartphone

DougS Silver badge

Samsung was making much of its profit from RAM & flash

Not phones. The DRAM market is somewhat depressed now, but they should still be able to print a lot of cash with flash until all those huge Chinese fabs come online in a couple years and send prices plummeting (good for us, not good for Samsung)

Excuse me, sir. You can't store your things there. Those 7 gigabytes are reserved for Windows 10

DougS Silver badge

Re: Easy way to regain the 7 GB

Zero. Linux doesn't require a swap partition.

US trade watchdog, mobe makers queue to smack Qualcomm as antitrust trilogy opens

DougS Silver badge

What choice did the phone OEMs have? At the time, Qualcomm was the ONLY source for chips compliant with the US spec version of CDMA. Since that's not something that came from a standards organization, FRAND rules/pricing don't apply. Basically if you wanted to be able to sell phones that were usable by half the US market, you had to deal with Qualcomm. The only major OEMs who didn't have to talk to Qualcomm were Chinese players who didn't sell in the US market.

Samsung was the only major worldwide phone OEM that was able to work around that, but that's because they also hold a lot of LTE patents and couldn't be pushed around quite as easily as the others.

Who do you blame for Microsoft's monopoly abuse in the 90s, when they made PC OEMs pay for a Windows license for every PC sold, even if they didn't include Windows? Is that on Dell, who would basically have had to shutter if they couldn't get a deal with Microsoft to sell PCs running Windows? Or is it on Microsoft, who insisted on those terms?

DougS Silver badge

Re: Patently ridiculous?

No, software can be copyrighted, no one disputes that. If you happen upon their source code you can't put another name on it any more than you can put another name on Harry Potter books and sell them yourself.

Attention all British .eu owners: Buy dotcom domains and prepare to sue, says UK govt

DougS Silver badge

Re: Needs a local agent

No doubt some enterprising people will set themselves up to do that and charge double the registration costs for their trouble. Other enterprising people will set themselves up to do that and rely on companies that don't read contracts carefully and have their domains held for ransom, with costs escalating yearly and the implied threat that they will sell your domain to your competition if you don't pony up.

Huawei's 5G security scrutiny pain could be Cisco's gain – analysts

DougS Silver badge

Re: Summary

Only someone who doesn't understand how thin the dividing line is between China's government and major businesses believes Huawei has never added backdoors.

If the US government is able to get Cisco's cooperation, why do you doubt that China's government which has far more power over the day to day operations of businesses than the US's does would be unable to do so, or unwilling to request/require that cooperation?

You can blame laziness as much as greed for Apple's New Year shock

DougS Silver badge

The OLED upgrade isn't worth the price

The reason the X/Xs cost so much more was solely because of how much more an OLED display costs. If Apple wanted to maintain the same margins they needed to up the price by a lot to capture that increased production cost.

Is it worth it? I have the X, and the display is beautiful, but it isn't worth anywhere near the $250 upcharge over the Xr. The reason I got the X was because I wanted a bigger display without the bigger device (i.e. no bezels) but now that this is available with the LCD if I was buying this year instead of last I would buy the Xr over the Xs in a heartbeat. The difference would need to be more like $50 for me to think it was worth it given how good Apple's LCDs are.

The problem with the current price structure that they have made the Xr into the "cheap" model in the minds of buyers. Its a compromise - because it also has lower resolution and only one camera.

Apple probably should have stuck with LCD, the OLED upgrade drove prices into the stratosphere with very little tangible improvement in one's experience with the device. The problem is that now it would be difficult to backtrack and drop OLED so they are stuck with it. They could mitigate the problems by dropping the 'r' line for next year and have two versions of the s / sMax lines, one with one LCD and one with OLED, that are otherwise identical especially resolution and number and cameras - and called the OLED ones "Pro" or something but make it clear to people that the display type is the only difference.

Let the market decide if it is worth spending that much extra, and don't force those who don't think the OLED 'upgrade' is worth it to feel like they are cheapskates by handicapping the product in other ways unnecessarily.

Marriott: Good news. Hackers only took 383 million booking records ... and 5.3m unencrypted passport numbers

DougS Silver badge

Re: Huh?

Because storage is cheap, and no one wanted the responsibility for making the call to purge old data in case there was a use for it down the road.

Dark matter's such a pushover: Baby stars can shove weird stuff around dwarf galaxies

DougS Silver badge

If it filled empty space you'd expect to see tons of it in the empty space between galaxies. Instead it seems like it mostly surrounds galaxies like a halo but doesn't fill those empty spaces.

DougS Silver badge

Dark matter doesn't interact with light, but

it interacts with heat?

"Heat" is either in the form of infrared energy, i.e. light (which dark matter can't interact with) or it is in the form of particles moving faster in that area. If fast moving particles (mostly hydrogen atoms) can push dark matter away moreso than they can push regular matter away, dark matter particles must have less mass than hydrogen atoms.

But how do they "push" dark matter particles? The reason regular matter particles can push each other is because of their charge. Does this imply dark matter particles also have a charge? If so, how is it that they don't interact with light?

Crystal ball gazers declare that Windows 10 has finally overtaken Windows 7

DougS Silver badge

Re: But will Windows ever get to 11?

I wonder what his acceptable definition of "looks like" and "works like" is. Because Windows 10 doesn't look like Windows 7 - there are Linux distributions that look more like 7 than 10. Do they look enough like 7 to qualify, or do they have to be clones of the UI? Similarly, what does "works like" mean. Does it have to run Win32 applications, or is the bar lower than that?

DougS Silver badge

Re: The original title for this article ...

Yeah I wonder what the actual uptake of Windows 10 would be if they hadn't done the forced upgrades of Windows 7 PCs via Windows Update, drivers for Windows 7 continued to be available for Intel CPUs post Kaby Lake, and the support deadline for Windows 7 was extended years further than originally planned like XP.

I'll bet they'd be lucky to crack 25% if that was the case. There is no reason I'm aware of why Windows 10 should be preferred over Windows 7.

DougS Silver badge

Only if Apple does

Microsoft is just copying Apple again and staying on version 10 (or X, in the case of OS X / macOS) forever. Because only Spinal Tap is able to get to 11.

Screeech... DRAM! Weak demand hits memory-makers as they slam on CAPEX brakes – analyst

DougS Silver badge

Until usage models of PCs & smartphones change

There won't be any pressing reason to upgrade the quantity of RAM they are currently sold with - at least not based on a potentially short term price drop. If the price of 4GB of LPDDR4 is cut in half so you can fit 8GB in a phone for the same price, you still have to pay for it in terms of reduced battery life due to the doubled active power. So that price cut will likely be taken as a lower BOM cost for the phone's manufacturer, not to add 4GB of likely-to-be unused RAM to a phone that doesn't benefit from it.

Because the problem is, if prices rise again you can't replace models that come with 8GB of RAM with models that come with only 4GB (doing so is easier in the PC market though) so you have to actually NEED the additional RAM. In the past, phones have had "too little", especially since as the operating systems and apps continued to expand to more PC like functionality you wanted to have some room for future growth when new OS/app versions were installed. They've pretty much reached that point now though, so just like the trajectory of RAM needs on PCs slowed greatly after Windows 7 shipped, the same is true in today's smartphone world.

Oz cops investigating screams of 'why don't you die?' find bloke in battle with spider

DougS Silver badge

Re: Good Thing it Wasn't US Police

And missed, and hit the toddler instead.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Ticks and Lymes disease

Getting them to drop off after they've bitten you wouldn't save you from getting Lyme disease if bitten by an infected tick. Though I guess there's probably no Lyme disease on the Isle of Skye so she'd be fine aside from some very minor blood loss.

DougS Silver badge

Re: May contain nuts

He only gets the Darwin award if he hadn't previously contributed to the gene pool, otherwise his stupidity already lives on.

The fact he was using peanut butter in that way is pretty conclusive proof he'd already given up on any chance for FUTURE procreation.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Spiders: there is no "overkill"

I don't have a particular fear of spiders, especially the harmless daddy longlegs, but if I had to deal with a house that contained thousands of them I would have bought one or more of those bug bombs and fumigated the entire house while sitting with the girlfriend in the coffee shop (or better yet bar, since I hate coffee) then vacuumed up all the dead spiders while half drunk.

There's no way you could kill all or even approximately all of the spiders when there are that many, and there's no reason to expect that thousands of daddy long legs wouldn't have attracted other - potentially poisonous - spiders hoping to feast on them. Who might be pissed when their meal ticket is taken away!

The glorious Brexit uncertainty: The only dead cert on data rules for tech biz in 2019

DougS Silver badge

Re: My prediction is...

"the MSM are everyone I disagree with"

Truer words were never spoken. This "mainstream media" meme needs to die, when you get here you will inevitably end up at full Guiliani "the truth isn't the truth".

Millennium Buggery: When things that shouldn't be shut down, shut down

DougS Silver badge

I almost made a similar mistake

Though at least I would have had someone at the remote site to call and fix things. Which was a good thing, because the Atlantic Ocean was between me and it. In my case I needed to add a VLAN for asynchronous storage replication between sites, which the network guys were supposed to have done but guess they didn't think it was important enough to actually work that ticket that had been in their queue for a week. Fortunately for me (and potentially unfortunately for them) I had the password to the network devices.

I had started to type in a command, then realized its successful execution would cause my connection to drop before I could type in the following commands. So I put them in a script that would execute off a server inside the network, spent a few minutes looking over it super carefully, then decided to comment out the "meat" and just do the 'up/down' portion with a sleep 5 between them as a test, and only when that worked did I decide it was safe to do the whole thing.

Techie basks in praise for restoring workforce email (by stopping his scripting sh!tshow)

DougS Silver badge

Re: I learnt to test my WHERE clauses on a DELETE with a SELECT first

You should have read for context and thought about why I wrote this patch for the Bugtraq security list!

It originated from a discussion regarding attacks where someone who had write access one of the directories being cleaned up (often directories where everyone has write access, like /tmp) could fool that command into deleting ANY file on the system. Both of the variants posted above are vulnerable to this, so I posted a find patch I'd written with the -delete builtin which was not vulnerable.

It isn't creeping featurism if it solves an actual problem.

DougS Silver badge

Re: I learnt to test my WHERE clauses on a DELETE with a SELECT first

There's nothing wrong with the -delete option, you should first run your find with a -print (actually -depth -print since -delete implies -depth for obvious reasons) to get the list of files it will delete and sanity check it before you use -delete. Same thing as with any potentially dangerous command like 'rm -rf' or 'mkfs', you need to be SURE you are doing what you want to do and shouldn't rely on software crutches to do it for you. Failure to do so runs the risk of being El Reg's next "Who, Me?" story :)

Unrelated, but the code for find's -delete option was based on a patch I sent to the Bugtraq security list about 20 years ago. How time flies!

Racing at the speed of light, Sage superhero bursts through the door...

DougS Silver badge

Re: If...

I'm pretty sure laughter would result whether the exposed area was a beer belly or finely chisled abs. Seeing anyone do something that dumb is what makes you laugh, not what is underneath.

Good thing he wasn't Superman or Spiderman, otherwise his secret identity would have been exposed!

Your mates vape. Your boss quit smoking. You promised to quit in 2019. But how will Big Tobacco give it up?

DougS Silver badge

Re: Dopes

Wow, that seems way too specific to not be from personal experience!

A few reasons why cops haven't immediately shot down London Gatwick airport drone menace

DougS Silver badge

Re: It's not like they can triangulate the signals!

If they flew a bunch of drones in a ring around the airport 24x7, they could easily triangulate all signals to their source, and be able to mask out semi-permanent ones like wifi or radar. Problem solved!

DougS Silver badge

Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

Has anyone ever been sentenced to life in prison? If not, that penalty is only theoretical (probably used only if a terrorist tried to deliberately impact a jet with a drone) and therefore doesn't do anything to discourage the run of the mill idiots who aren't trying to kill anyone but eventually will get "lucky" and do so with enough occurrences.

DougS Silver badge

Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

And what evidence is there that Al Qaeda is trying this? The people doing it now are just idiots or thrill seekers flying around in a restricted zone, they aren't buzzing around deliberately trying to impact the jets. That could easily be tried under a whole different category with life imprisonment for deliberate endangerment of a passenger jet.

DougS Silver badge

Likelihood of being caught

I would think it is the return on "investment". If one could steal $100 million with a 50/50 chance of being caught and executed, a LOT of people would try it, that would be a far better proposition than being a gang banger in a big city and a lot of people do that. If one could steal $100 million with a 99.99% chance of being caught and a 10 year term, few would try it (that's pretty much what you'd get if you tried one of those Hollywood Oceans 11 style bank robberies where you aren't armed unless you are as skilled as those characters are)

What's the "return" on flying a drone around an airport? As far as we know, Al Qaeda and their ilk haven't tried to fly a drone into a jetliner - deliberately trying to hit the jet rather than "being in the airport's restricted zone" are two very different things and could easily have different penalties. So most of the people who do this aren't getting anything out of it, aside from a kick from breaking the law and getting away with it. That kick disappears if you risk a long prison term, or so I would think.

DougS Silver badge

They just need to make the penalty so outsized

That only a moron would try it. 25 years in prison for operating a drone too close to an airport ought to do the trick. Even if you only catch 1 out of 50, why would anyone take that chance?

Require any drones purchased in the country to have a warning that lists the penalty for illegal operation in a restricted zone, then people can't claim they didn't know. Having it be on the news when the first couple people get sentenced to hard time for doing it ought to help with that too.

Ho ho ho! Washington DC sends Zuckerberg a sueball-shaped present

DougS Silver badge

Re: @AC Good. Now close FB down

Technically Zuck lied to Congress which would lead to jail time

Lying to congress is almost never prosecuted on its own, only when it is part of a coverup for larger crimes. As a director of a publicly traded corporation, Zuck wouldn't be personally liable for Facebook's bad actions so his lies weren't to cover to crimes he's personally guilty of.

Facebook Like, social sharing buttons on your website may land you in GDPR hot water if data goes a-wanderin'

DougS Silver badge

Re: "website operators should obtain the consent of site visitors before collecting data"

Seems like GDPR is going to throw one hell of a monkey wrench in the current ad paradigm.

I really hope you're right, but I think if it does the corporate lobbyists will start a whisper campaign that the GDPR will hamstring the EU economy and some holes will be carved in it before long.

American bloke hauls US govt into court after border cops 'cuffed him, demanded he unlock his phone at airport'

DougS Silver badge

What you should do for laptops

Have a second account with no admin rights, and when they force you to open your laptop and show them what is on it just login to that second login instead of your "real" one. Install a few innocuous apps/games, leave a few files laying around like PDFs of receipts from Amazon buying some random gadget that pegs you as a typical consumer. If they decide to try to image the whole PC, they won't be able to get at your real files, because you lack admin rights (claim it is a corporate owned laptop, or your spouse the IT expert maintains it, and you don't have admin rights)

You can keep whatever you want in an encrypted VM in that other (actually real) account, or in the cloud if you want to be extra careful.

Smartphones really need to support multiple user profiles so you can play the same game with the jackboots on them.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Just say "Yes Sir"

but nobody TSA or border has ever shown the slightest interest in me or my gadgets


Heck, maybe/probably never. But does that mean you should ignore the plight of others so long as it doesn't impact you?

DougS Silver badge

Re: Just say "Yes Sir"

Keep responding to jackboots with a smile and "yes sir" and all you're gonna get in the long run are more jackboots. If everyone had your attitude, the British would still rule India and black people would still get lynched in Mississippi.

Is Google purposefully breaking Microsoft, Apple browsers on its websites? Some insiders are confident it is

DougS Silver badge

Re: Brittle software?

And how many people go to the length of buying an Android device, installing a new ROM, installing clean Android AND not installing any Google stuff like Play store or search? In the US/UK/EU, probably 0.1% do that.

In the real world, for all practical purposes, Google owns Android.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Brittle software?

most of the good things we have are down to Google NOT waiting

Such as?

DougS Silver badge

Re: Brittle software?

Google doesn't own the open source part of Android, but they distribute the open source + closed source flavor of Android that pretty much every Android OEM selling into the US/UK/EU uses. So basically they do "own Android".

Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is: 1. More ad revenue, and 2. Good PR. Lots of love – Mark, aged 34½

DougS Silver badge

Re: FB "doesn't sell user data" - sure, it just asks money or something else for simple access...

True, but ultimately Facebook's problem from this might not be legal, but financial. At some point the straw will break the camel's back, and people will start leaving the platform, then ad revenue falls, and the stock price collapses.

Not saying THIS will be the last straw, but if not it is another straw closer to that last straw.

DougS Silver badge

I'm simply arguing that being the president means you will be subject to more scrutiny, not only of the actions you take as president but any criminal behavior from years ago that was overlooked by overworked prosecutors with bigger fish to fry at the time.

I mean, right now somewhere in the US is a man or woman who will be president 30 years from now, and that person might be engaged in something that isn't legal. Is there any reason you would expect top journalists from the biggest newspapers and networks in the country devote a lot of their time to investigating that person? Of course not, there are a million like them all over the country engaged in similar behavior, the only difference is that they won't ever be the president. When they are president, they better hope they don't have too much to hide, because their secrets won't stay secret for long once journalists and prosectors start talking to people who were around them and know those secrets too.

Zuckerberg may be more famous than that anonymous future president, but he isn't the president. He is getting a LOT more scrutiny from the press looking for bad behavior than he was a couple years ago, when they were mostly singing his praises. If they turn up enough dirt, maybe it will get prosecutors looking into it, but in the US it is difficult to prosecute people for actions they take as an officer of a publicly traded company. If it is a private company you own yourself like Trump, that's a very different matter.

DougS Silver badge

Re: 10x more like

That's all? I'm surprised they didn't offer this to every small business that runs ads on them - "want your ads to be more effective, subscribe to Facebook Ads+ and get access to your customer's friends lists, contacts, likes. For an extra $1 per user, get access to their private messages so you can see what they are really saying about your business!"

DougS Silver badge

Re: FB "doesn't sell user data" - sure, it just asks money or something else for simple access...

If you get a copy of user data, they are selling it. Legally it might be something else, like how Microsoft doesn't sell you a copy of Windows, but you give them money and walk away with a copy of user data meets about anyone's personal definition of "selling".

DougS Silver badge

why can't Zuckerfuck be subject to the same level of scrutiny

Because he's not president. If the furor and investigations over Clinton's Whitewater deal (a $100K investment that lost money, but still ultimately lead prosecutors to the famous blue dress) proved anything, it is that you better be squeaky clean if you want to be a scandal-free president. You definitely don't want to be someone who thinks and acts like a mob boss, it is going to catch up to you.

There have been people in the NYC press writing articles about Trump's shady and illegal business behavior for decades, but most of us never really heard about that stuff and he wasn't ever given any real scrutiny because there are a LOT of crooks in any big city like NYC. Other than being a publicity hound he flew under the radar - he is nowhere near being one of the biggest players in Manhattan real estate, though you wouldn't know it if you listen to his lies. There aren't enough prosecutors to give everyone who deserves it the proper level of scrutiny, so most fall through the cracks.

Mark Zuckerberg did everything in his power to avoid Facebook becoming the next MySpace – but forgot one crucial detail…

DougS Silver badge

The premise of this article is bullshit

Yes, they didn't want to become the next Myspace. Myspace didn't die because it didn't have diverse revenue sources, it died because it failed to control the spam (and probably malware) on its platform due to letting users be too free with how they presented their pages - it was a lot closer to the freedom you get from setting your own web site, as compared to Facebook where you fill in fields but Facebook has 100% control of the page layout and content presentation. Google Plus, Friendster etc. failed because they were too late, Facebook already had the network effect advantage.

Facebook was already making money hand over fist when they entered into these data sharing agreements. Simply put, they got greedy, grabbed for bigger cash, and are now busy making excuses having been caught with both hands in the cookie jar up to their elbows. Had nothing whatsoever to do with "insecurity" and fear that the whole thing will come crumbling down, it was just pure naked greed and nothing more.

Introducing 'Happy Quit', where Chinese smokers are text-spammed into nicotine abstinence

DougS Silver badge


Spamming does something good for the world?

Suunto settles scary scuba screwup for $50m: 'Faulty' dive computer hardware and software put explorers in peril

DougS Silver badge

Re: Fuck!!!

Yes, getting a second dive computer made by a different company seems like a solution any Reg reader who understands how things work in the real world would insist upon. Just use the readings from the least optimistic one.

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