* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Insane blackhats behind world's most expensive ransomware 'forget' to backup crypto keys

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"This is either a particularly stupid bunch of scammers or an attempt to yank the rug out from under the whole scam by destroying that confidence."

Second thoughts, they're playing a long game - drive the scam into the ground for now and come back in a couple of years time when the competition's out of business.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"unless you expect the blackhats to be honest (ROFL)"

Not too much laughing, thank you. The whole ongoing scam relies on the marks having confidence that if they pay the ransom they'll get their files back. In may sound contradictory but their success depends on the unscrupulous being scrupulous.

This is either a particularly stupid bunch of scammers or an attempt to yank the rug out from under the whole scam by destroying that confidence.

Cancel! that! yacht! order! Marissa! – Verizon's! still! cold! on! Yahoo! gobble!

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Where's the value?

We live in strange times.

Forget aircraft – now cretins are laser-blinding ferry boat crewmen

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Let's just get Old Testament about this. An eye for an eye. And go to the permanent back of the queue for a guide dog.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Bah!

"I think it is time to treat them the same as a firearm as far as use is concerned."

In the US?

Google gives up YOUR private data to US govt – but won't hand over its OWN staff personal info

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: @AC Egg-zactly!

"the government wants data to check on whether Google's salary statistics indicate that people of certain classes (based on race, religion, gender, national origin, etc.) are being paid less for the same jobs, or if the statistics indicate that job discrimination is taking place based on these factors."

This would appear to be stuff that an employer, in a sane world, has no business holding about its employees. It's a real arse-backwards government attempt to ban discrimination that forces companies to keep the information they'd need to discriminate.

Google nukes ad-blocker AdNauseam, sweeps remains out of Chrome Web Store

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: No free ride

"I have not understood why Google is sometimes excused behaviour that many commentards would think was unacceptable if carried out by Sony, Microsoft,"

Probably because most of us use blockers. It's a bit more difficult to block ads served direct from your OS. Also, if not blocked, it's the ad itself that draws the immediate ire; the system that served it is less visible.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Maybe they should've thought the whole video ad thing over

"The problem being people become innured to ads over time so they have to become more ostentatious to MAKE you pay attention.

Hi there, ad industry shill. A recent article here reminded us of the John Wanamaker quote that only half of his advertising worked but he didn't know which half. I think he'd have been delighted with ad-blockers because they'd have provided that knowledge.

Perhaps one day your clients will take the hint - after all many of them are probably blocking ads too because, of course, this making people pay attention bit gets you the WRONG sort of attention - pissed off people are not going to be good customers. And when your clients make that connection you are in really big trouble. In the meantime no doubt your arrogance and lack of self-awareness will keep you charging to the cliff edge. The rest of us will enjoy watching you fall over it.

Networks in 2016: A full fibre diet for UK.gov

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Such a Pity The RoW Has Got IT All Wrong

"BT had the best network in the world in 1978 and then sat on its arse for 20 years while the rest of the world kept innovating and overtook it."

You do realise, don't you, that when the great cable roll-out of the 1980s happened it wasn't BT sitting on its hands. It was HMG sitting on them. BT was specifically forbidden from doing it. So we had a period where the cable companies cherry-picked where they wanted to cable for best ROI. Whether the ROI was really adequate I'll leave you to work out but there was a lot of consolidation in that sector.

Then, way after the other telcos had failed to deliver, BT is told to get on with it and being blamed for not doing what it wasn't allowed to do. The non-Virgin virgin areas are where the less good ROI was expected to be and where the better ROI was there's already an incumbent with which to compete.

So how does BT do the job ASAP and at an economically feasible cost?

Does it (a) ignore all its installed plant and fibre-up all existing premises, slowly working its way across the country replacing what already exists or does it (b) make maximum use of its installed plant and get FTTC out ASAP. As an FTTC user I reckon that if, instead, I'd had to wait for FTTP I'd be waiting still because BT's resources would still be occupied dragging out redundant cable to premises that already have copper in some of the earlier exchanges to go fibre.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

There seems to be a belief that because particular individuals want FTTP the rest of the country does and it's BT's refusal that's blocking it.

Can we go back to this article: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/12/22/gov_claws_back_440m_for_rural_broadband/

The clawback occurred because uptake for the existing product was greater than the anticipated 20%. Surely this proved that huge, pent-up demand? Well, AFAICR the unexpectedly large take-up was 30%. That's 70% of those who could have bought the existing product don't want to spend the extra money to do so. It doesn't bode well for any realistic take-up of FTTP at a still higher price. Maybe the real block isn't BT, it's the lack of customer interest beyond the vocal minority. And all the other companies who've failed to step into the alleged breach to take advantage of BT's reluctance seem to think the same.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Such a Pity The RoW Has Got IT All Wrong

"i.e. B4RN type projects to get the coverage for a cheaper price"

I read that B4RN have a £150 connection charge and £30/month rental. Cheaper price than what?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: An easy first step

"The point I'm making is if I'm buying a brand new house, I'm looking for everything to be brand new, and that includes internet connectivity."

OK, you do and presumably you're willing to pay. But if you imagine everyone else is like you how do you explain TalkTalk's customer numbers? If FTTC is good enough that's what they'll pay, not a penny a month more and they wouldn't thank you for committing them to do so. They'd agree with your comment that it's chalk and cheese, it's just that they'd see it differently.

Fatal genetic conditions could return in some 'three-parent' babies

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"There's only a couple of spots that can mutate without the mitochondrium conking it, and they lead to very rare, and ultimately lethal diseases..."

You might not have noticed but there are some stretches of mtDNA which are able to show variation. This is what is used in mtDNA typing as sold to genealogists. Although there are differences between different inheritance lines the mitochondria within individuals show a remarkable absence of variation, even in these areas where variation is able to take place.

What the paper being discussed shows is that the eucaryotic host, for want of a better word, seems to exert some control over the multiplication of mitochondria when an artificial process* creates a mixture. This provides at least a partial explanation of how the variation might be reduced.

Such a mechanism is unlikely to exist for the sole purpose of defeating IVF (although Creationists might disagree with that) nor for aiding businesses selling services to genealogists so it's likely that it exists as a result of an evolutionary process.

A functional mutation in a mitochondrion might not necessarily be fatal to the mitochondrion itself - after all, as you pointed out, the mitochondrion is supported by the host cell and, of course, by its fellows. However, if such functional mutants were able to spread they would damage the overall performance of the host organism. Some sort of mechanism for preventing such a spread would provide a selective advantage for the host and the research presented here suggests that genes of the eucaryotic nucleus are indeed involved - just what one would expect from a selective advantage on the host.

The bulk of the Nature paper is paywalled but the more general summary here, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/01/01/507244429/unexpected-risks-found-in-editing-genes-to-prevent-inherited-disorders also linked in the parent El Reg article, would be worth a read. The rates of mitochondrial mutation mentioned there might surprise you.

*Used to attempt to overcome the very mitochondrial genetic diseases you mentioned.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Prediction...

"I'm slightly sceptical about the latter, though; sexual reproduction introduces genes from the father that didn't evolve in step the the mitochondria."

It could be a factor in children not carried to term or, indeed, not implanting at all.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"To start with, in sexually reproducing multi-cellular organisms, the vast majority of all those mitochondrial mutations do not get passed on to the next generation of organism."

I know, I'm a biologist by training. But do this thought experiment.

Consider a mitochondrion moving through time. It might be easiest to visualise this as a pipe-line, the length of the pipe being time. As it proceeds the mitochondrion reproduces by fission. Sometimes one of the daughter products has a mutation. Also as it proceeds it passes junctions in the pipe. These are cell divisions. Some of the daughter mitochondria head off down these divisions never to be seen again so what happens to them is irrelevant. But providing you're following the female germplasm line, which is the only one that's relevant, you won't see the successive generations of the host species pass because the cytoplasm just goes on from ovum to ovary to ovum. If you follow that line for long enough some of the mutants will take the same branch at the junctions some of the time. On this simple model you should expect diversity in mitochondrial genomes within individuals.

Yes, the vast majority of mutations never get passed onto the next generations - in much the same way as the vast majority of sperm and pollen never find an ovum with which to fuse, but the critical thing about biology is that the numbers per generation and the numbers of generations are such that vast majority is not the same as totality.

I remember this being raised elsewhere some time ago. It seems that there is some sort of bottle-neck mechanism involved which but I don't recall the details. That means that the ovary to ovum transition might not be as invisible as the above suggests but I'm not sure whether that mechanism is sufficient to guarantee the uniformity found. The fact that the nucleus might be able to exert some selective influence makes a good deal of sense in terms of what's observable in nature. Presumably in evolutionary terms there must be a selective advantage in maintaining consistency of mtDNA.

You're right in implying that things can be different in non-sexual reproduction. In plants chloroplasts are considered to have similar symbiotic origins. Variations there are responsible for some forms of variegation which is why, for instance, the golden holly in my garden needs to be propagated vegetatively.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

That's very interesting. One of the things that's puzzled me about mtDNA is that it's so consistent within the cell. If you think of things from a mitochondrion's perspective it lives in a perpetual cytoplasmic environment, multiplying and occasionally mutating. Why should a typical cell line not come to contain examples of a number of those mutant strains? The mechanism that favours particular mitochondrial lines helps answer this.

Florida Man sues Verizon for $72m – for letting him commit identity theft

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Nice to see...

"With Brexit we don't know what is going to happen (apart from the doomsayers)."

Don't be silly. The leavers know exactly what's going to happen. Magic unicorns will romp across the country sprinkling magic dust. When the dust hit's* the ground it will germinate into money-bearing flowers and we'll all be rich and free and have an empire again and it will be like Suez never happened. And then they'll wake up.

*Leaver's apostrophe.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Citizens of the US,

" you *have* to get a grip on the difference between a State and a Federal law/lawsuit."

Has your new president-elect got a grip on that? I'm not disputing his grip on other things.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The time has come .......

"Lawyers don't like it because it would reduce the number of lawsuits"

Normally I'd have expected a lawyer to have been behind something like this. However the hand written submission suggests that no lawyer was involved, he's doing this all on his own.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Nice to see...

"People may have assumed they were voting for the latter, but the winning party has no obligation to field a specific PM for their term."

My way of putting it has always been that even if you could vote directly, whoever you voted for, you always got a politician. Now that idea's been trumped.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Nice to see...

"that tells me more about what is to come than all the carefully worded press leaks and press releases the UK government offers."

I also found IDS's reaction informative. Clearly he was a minister who only wanted his staff to tell him what he wanted to hear, not what he needed to know. It explains his spending years presiding over the ongoing disaster of Universal Credit.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The time has come .......

"There is something in that, but I can't help feeling it would involve a lot of extra judicial work in an already over-worked system, especially as claims would just get re-filed."

The best solution would be to let the judge deal with it in court. "You taking me for some sort of idiot? That's contempt. Another 99 years consecutive with what you're doing. Next case."

Ransomware scum: 'I believe I'm a good fit. See attachments'

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: People still accept MS formats in attachments?

"I think I just spotted the problem there..."

You were being distracted. The problem was HR.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"These services have gotten very good at quickly identifying new ransomware campaigns and sending the offending emails to the junk folder."

From experience I'd say there's a very effective way of getting spam through Microsoft's filters: pretend it came from them.

Identifying stuff quickly still leaves an interval during which a good number will get through.

Hapless scouser scours streets for lost Crimble drone

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

“some Dad [is] in the dog house after losing his kid's Christmas present.”

It could be the kid in the dog house after losing his own present.

How the NYE leap second clocked Cloudflare – and how a single character fixed it

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Its not just time that can have this issue

"2 full boxes of printout later (this was in 1972 on a big ICL machine) the operators manually stopped my job"

Getting your printer control characters wrong was another fruitful way of doing that.

No, it wasn't me, I didn't have a motor-bike at the time so I couldn't try to carry the stack home on the pillion, not properly secured...

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"the real world gleefully proceeds to call out all your bullshit immediately"

The real world is craftier than that. It leaves out the immediate bit.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: the code was updated to check if rttMAX was equal to or less than zero

" It is entirely possible that a second may need to be removed from UTC to align with solar time rather than one being added."

That can be achieved by having a 59 second minute. It still doesn't need to go backwards.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: the code was updated to check if rttMAX was equal to or less than zero

So the only correct option that they have is to "manually" knock back the time counter so you repeat a second as reported by the now() function fix it.


Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: the code was updated to check if rttMAX was equal to or less than zero

'I still don't follow how a time difference between successive "now" instants on the same system could ever be negative if it's measuring UTC.'

And that's only a part of it. It's not impossible to have a system's idea of UTC being reset backwards if the machine was started with the wrong time; this should not bring a system down. Surely a random function should be able to return a negative random number if called with a negative argument and even if it can't it should fail gracefully. And if you want the function to provide a positive number surely you can either check the number you call it with or call ABS() on the result.

A solution that requires the system to have the wrong UTC value for several hours must surely be the wrong one.

BTW did we ever get an explanation of why the London Ambulance Service systems crashed in the early hours of New Year's Day?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: 2038 is already a problem, today.

"The sum total of all these non-64-bit devices will easily run into the billions."

32-bit registers do not preclude handling >32 bit numbers. Arbitrary precision has been with us for a long time. A longer time than electronic computers, in fact.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "but we have external input making them unpredictable"

"That's quite an achievement when it's mostly done by tools rather than hand-cranked."

True, but people go for the easy solution - in this case, obviously, the hand-cranked version. Why can't they learn that a surname field can legitimately contain things like "O'Neill"?

Puny galaxy packs a big punch: A gazillion joules' worth of radio bursts

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Spherical

"Doesn't the energy calculation assume that it is spewing out in all directions. Might it not be focused directly at us"

One of the hypotheses to read was that this was a beam which appeared to repeat when it swept past us. However, if it's continuous that would make it even more impressive.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: That is big

Isn't Avogargo an Oz invitation to -->

Don't believe the 5G hype! £700m could make UK's 4G better than Albania's

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Government's obsession is a load of hot air"

There's a generic statement if I ever read one!

Put walls around home Things, win $25k from US government

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Why, what's wrong with a plain firewall without uPnP...?"

It would stop all those shiny gadgets working. Must have shiny.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Leave them...

I don't suppose there are prizes for simply stating the obvious.

Apple sued by parents of girl killed by driver 'distracted by FaceTime'

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Re: Not saying this is necessarily the case here...

"But sometimes these lawsuits are a requirement imposed on the plaintiffs by their own insurance companies."

In that case it would be the driver suing Apple.

Routine jobs vanishing and it's all technology's fault? Hold it there, sport

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The elephant in the room--The "O" word.

Sometimes I find myself agreeing with you.

"Will it actually take a war (that the human race may not survive) to finally resolve the imbalance?"

We're overdue a 'flu pandemic. That might have an effect.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The myth of retraining

Actually times when things are changing fast are the times to make career moves simply because there is no reserve of apprentice-trained whatevers to fill the demand for whatever the new skill is. The people who will best fill the new demand are those who have existing transferable skills.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Yeah cause retraining is so easy!

"Retraining is a myth, the generation or generations displaced by technology never recover. The buggy whip makers put out of work by the automobile rarely if ever became automotive engineers."

Those automotive engineers; where did they come from? Did some time machine import them from the future where ready-trained engineers existed? Or were they agricultural workers, or even buggy-whip makers, who retrained?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Many do not have a choice.

"I'm a software engineer but nobody's been prepared to pay me to write code for years."

We suffer from a serious industrial disease where everyone of any ability it expected to become a manager. Because of that we (a) have far too many managers roving businesses looking for somewhere to poke their unwanted fingers into, (b) too many incompetent managers because they were promoted for competence in some skill other than management and (c) jobs being carried out badly because those with skills and experience have been promoted away from doing them.

There is, however, a solution for individuals who find themselves presented with this situation and don't want to accept it. Go freelance. You will have to take on a certain amount of management in that you have to manage your own career. OTOH nobody in HR cares about taking on a 50+ freelance to cut code because they don't have to worry about fitting them into the pension scheme, career progression or whatever.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Many do not have a choice.

"But drop the ego, and surprise, the offers come in."

Not so simple. Some HRs will take the attitude TL;DR, others are looking to see an infeasibly long list of experience. Making the right choice between pruning and inflating is largely a matter of chance.

And then their are agencies who will take a CV with its emphasis carefully tuned to the advertised requirements of one client and then present it to another.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Agree completely

"Am I supposed to believe that a plumber having successfully studied to become a surgeon is going to find a wealth of positions offered to him ?"

I suspect that we should be thinking more in terms of the ex-factory worker being retrained as a plumber.

Those online ads driving you bonkers are virtually 'worthless for brands'

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: you'd think...

"Other than getting Google to work harder for their bucks I don't know but then I'm not a marketer"

One thing Google could have done is used their alleged AI chops to keep malvertising out of the system.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"The difficulty of assessing the value of advertising is a longstanding problem."

It should be getting easier. If Mr Wannamaker were still with us he'd probably have the perspicacity to realise that ad-blockers were telling him something he wanted to know. He seems to have been an exception amongst advertisers, however.

Hate 'contact us' forms? This PHPmailer zero day will drop shell in sender

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Small Business

Bot: "Please continue to hold. You are number ... FOUR ... in the queue"


Bot: "Please continue to hold. You are number ... FIVE ... in the queue"


Vinyl and streaming sales offset CD decline in UK music sales

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"the music is unavailable in any better format."

This is, however, a very good reason, especially where specific performances are concerned. e.g. my LPs got lost a few house moves ago including a much preferred version of the Brandenburgs.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: @ It's understandable...

"There is no cat's piss in Sancerre don't you know."

Can you guarantee that?

Uh-oh. LG to use AI to push home appliances to 'another dimension'

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"LG has been contacted for comment."

Ask them how the smart vacuum cleaner deals with stair carpets. Videos preferred.

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