* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Ad-blocker blocking websites face legal peril at hands of privacy bods

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: snooping my machine

'What I said - and what you didn't get - was that by not visiting sites with "bad" ads, but switching to sites with "good" ad instead, you're creating a feedback loop, which doesn't need you to actually fill out a form about ads.'

Nice one. The only way to distinguish these sites would be to turn off the ad-blockers!

What a pity we can all see through it.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: snooping my machine

'"But at the end of the chain the only way we have of expressing a preference for good quality advertising versus random malware is to install ad blockers. "

Wrong. Actually, the contrary is true: ad blocking is what eliminates any expression of preference'

Please enlighten us. If he's wrong to say it's the only way then there must be another. What is it?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: snooping my machine


I can only upvote you once. Please accept my apologies.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Already apply

"Have you ever paid Forbes for their content?"

I don't use that site so I don't know whether they have a paid for option. Do they? Because if they don't your question is irrelevant - if they don't accept payment he can't make one.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

" Any program that leaves traces of itself behind after the Windows Uninstaller has done its work has not been following the rules for a Windows application."


How did Windows Uninstaller get in here?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Grey Areas

"If a government makes it technically illegal to take non-harmful actions in order to refuse service to someone who will not pay for that service"

There's nothing to stop any server paywalling their site. That's not the point here.

And the user viewing ads is not paying. Someone else is paying, the advertiser of whatever product or service is being advertised; and oddly enough they're quite likely paying good money to piss off the visitor who will then be making a mental note never to spend their own good money on that product or service.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Bull

"So, they will do anything to hinder such a shift in the paradigms how internet advertising works."

And as ad-blockers render their current paradigms unworkable they'll change PDQ.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Bull

"Anti blockers work by checking whether the user has seen some ad or received some file, effectively retrieving the information stored in the user's cache about whether that file has been downloaded or not."

Wrong. The cache isn't involved. Neither is any information stored. Actually, if anything, the opposite is true. Ad blocking is detected by some "information" (element of the page) not being present on the client side, because of, you know, it getting blocked.

AFAICS these are two statements of the same thing.

However ultimately neither my view, nor yours, nor Mr Hanff's will be decisive. The decisive view may well be that of a court. Do you intend to provide expert evidence?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Publishers could simply

"Dude, I was so with you until that last paragraph."

To what were you objecting - that he was a publisher or that he had a safe ads policy? Should he have had an unsafe ads policy?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Publishers could simply

If the ads are hosted by the site the ad-blocker would be a no-op unless it blocked the entire site so the first part of your comment would be irrelevant. It would also enable the site would have to take responsibility for what it showed so there would be an incentive to filter out attempts at malvertising and a disincentive to repel viewers with ads that offensively attempt to stick their fingers into visitors' eyes and ears.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

@Adam 1. Could you explain your second point a little more clearly.

However, I think you've missed something from the article. It would require the site to ask every visitor to ask permission for their browser to be probed. In the interim either the ad-blocking visitor gets to read the page or, if the page is obscured my any means nobody, ad-blocking or not, probe-consenting or nor, gets to read the contents. This means that the site manages to piss off everyone, including those of whom the site might approve.

It also has an interesting side effect. It would present the page authors the problem of explaining why it wishes to probe the user's browser. If they don't give a clear explanation then it will look a little sinister to naive users and if they do it alerts such users to the existence of these things called ad-blockers which they might then investigate and find to be a good idea.

FBI spies on how many?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Why is this article tucked away as part of the rapidly disappearing news bytes? Come to that, why is anything? If it's not fit for the main page just ignore it.

The web is DOOM'd: Average page now as big as id's DOS classic

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Mobile

"Of course it's quicker, you have 'm' instead of 'www' so it weighs a lot less and with the same amount of electrons to push it through the tubes, it can go that much faster.."

Obligatory Dilbert http://dilbert.com/strip/1996-08-20

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The Good Old Days

"If only I could configure it to be like a desktop Linux PC"

Ubuntu phone?

Ten years in the clink, file-sharing monsters! (If UK govt gets its way)

Doctor Syntax Silver badge



I wonder what the baroness would think of these sentences. Does the offence count as industrial scale?

Romania suffers Eurovision premature ejection

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

About the headline

I see what you did there but no ejection from the Eurovison Song Contest could be called premature. Long overdue would be the best description.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"The effect of the decision has been most keenly felt by Ovidiu Anton, who was poised to perform Moment of Silence in Stockholm on 12 May. "

A nicely prescient song title.

How IT are you? Find out now in our HILARIOUS quiz!

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"as if looking for butchers’ hooks"

Slight hangover from the Cockney quiz?

Edward Snowden sues Norway to prevent extradition

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Since when does the USA play by the rules or give a shit about another countries laws if its own interest are at stake?"

Norway is a NATO member in the front line facing Russia. Pakistan isn't. There's a difference.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The marathon-couch-surfing champion in the Ecuadorian embassy

If he leaves the embassy he faces the humiliation of not being extradited to the US. He also faces some jail time in the UK but that would probably be minor considering the length of time he's already imprisoned himself.

Microsoft headhunters seek Linux folk for secret open source unit

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Could you strip out the contentious Google stuff and replace it with Microsoft stuff?"

Maybe they're already working on it: Cyanogen.

Nevertheless a slight FTFY is needed. "Replace it with contentious Microsoft stuff"

'Impossible' EmDrive flying saucer thruster may herald new theory of inertia

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


"The western world will likely tie itself up ..., doing nothing with it, long past the point Germany, China and possibly others are using it in space craft."

So you don't include Germany as part of the western world?

FBI boss: We paid at least $1.2m to crack the San Bernardino iPhone

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

'"It was in my view worth it," he added. Of course, nothing useful was found on the iThing.'

And we're not even told what was found that wasn't useful. So what evidence do we have, other than Comey's own statement, that the phone was broken at all?

From his point of view, of course, it was worth it as a face-saving way to climb down from a position he thought he could win and then found he couldn't.

Kent Police handed domestic abuse victim's data to alleged abuser – a Kent cop

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Disgraceful penalty

"the ICO blatantly trying to save Police face"

How do you make that out?

The ICO has said there was a serious breach. It's imposed a fine. It's done what it's enabled to do by law.

We complain when public bodies act beyond the law. That can't be squared with complaining when they don't.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Stinks of corruption

"Exactly, the person that 'lifted' (actually stole) the additional data from the phone should be charged with theft"

How many times do we have to go over this? It's just like the unending "copyright violation is theft" crap.

Theft is taking with intent to permanently deprive the owner. Copying isn't theft, it's copying. The two are not the same thing.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"It's one of the ICO's few tools in these circumstances"

It really ought to have been considered at the time the DPA was drawn up. Fines are inappropriate for a public body. There seems to be an assumption that public bodies wouldn't breach the provisions. We now realise that they're one of the categories of data managers who present most problems. In the absence of any other more appropriate provision there needs to be a mandatory requirement for personal responsibility.

But I still can't get my head round the notion that this was supposed to have been carried out in accordance with the force's procedures. Are the procedures really so stupid as to mandate this or are they so vague that anything would be in accordance?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"The force has not responded to questions from The Register as to whether it anticipated allegations of corruption as a result of a victim's private data being passed to a suspect employed by it."

Did you ask whether disciplinary action had been taken? It's one thing to have procedures, it's another to follow those procedures without engaging brain. There should have been a "this doesn't seem right" moment.

12,000 chopped: Intel finds its inner paranoid

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Always on

If something is always on I expect it to use a much more frugal CPU then x86 and its descendants. Maybe this is part of the problem.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Citation needed

"I was specifically interested to know what was transformed in the auto industry"

Replace simple contact breaker & carburettor by ECU?

How innocent people 'of no security interest' are mere keystrokes away in UK's spy databases

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Have you tried removing data, such as records of dead people from a CRM system?"

Removing data should be a design requirement. If it was and the implementation was competent then removal shouldn't be difficult.

In this case we're dealing with public servants who in positions of trust. That means they should be able to show that they deserve our trust. If it's difficult or impossible to remove the data of innocent people then we can reasonably infer that they didn't include that in the design, that they didn't intend such data should be removed and that maybe we can't trust them.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


A subject request under the DPA would be the appropriate route. You might need an FOI request to find out where to send the DPA request.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Very Sloppy Headline Writing

"Sadly some may break the rules, that is what supervision, management, the police and other agencies are supposed to be there to control"

True. And those who break the rules, at least those rules which are part of legislation, can be prosecuted. But are those who break this set of rules prosecuted? If not why not? People have been asking "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" for a very long time and with very good reason.

Intel told Irish council all was well just before 12k job cuts announced

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Why does this always come as a surprise to politicians?

'Listed companies are obliged by law to release "price sensitive" information to the markets in a controlled manner'

It depends when the last meeting with the council was but it seems dubious whether 'at the last meeting between Kildare County councillors and Intel, the company claimed things were picking up' is a controlled manner.

Magnitude malvertisers spew 400 attacks from abused Scot ad firm

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Re: People who work in the ad industry

I'm sure that as soon as they've had their morning coffee the usual suspects will be along here to tell us that it's only the ad industry that keeps the web running - and to prove your point.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"When the advertising industry gets its own house in order"

When? Don't you mean "if ever"?

Qualcomm channels Star Trek's Scotty as it faces a mobe chip wreck

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When making projections, don't mistake sigmoidal growth curves for exponential.

FBI's Tor pedo torpedoes torpedoed by United States judge

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Re: Stable Doors

"The FBI clearly messed up and need a telling off, but it can't be in the public interest for this many convictions to go down on a technicality."

That technicality might one day protect you against a false accusation.

Along with "if you've nothing to hide"* we keep hearing "nobody is above the law". Well, that one is right, nobody should be above the law and that includes the law enforcers.

*Which is too close to abandoning the presumption of innocence and should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

Prof squints at Google's mobile monopoly defence, shakes head

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Neither the article author nor the EU have come up with any solid proposals as to how their idea of a mix-and-match phone would actually work."

If the finding goes against Google that's Google's problem. But one solution seems clear enough from reading the article - remove the restrictive terms on licensing the APIs.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Maps, etc.

"Google is trying to control the Android stack, that much is undeniable, so the question is whether that control is ultimately harmful to such an extent that it is illegal"

And determining whether it's illegal is the outcome of legal processes such as that which the EU is launching. If they're doing that they must have a basis for believing it to be so and the present article presents informed opinion that supports such belief.

As you say, it's a question. Don't you agree that it should be answered by the appropriate mechanism?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Maps, etc.

"zero substantive rebuttals."

The case was stated in the article based on someone who's actually read some of the licensees' contracts. I look forward to reading your substantive rebuttal of that.

Official: EU goes after Google, alleges it uses Android to kill competition

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The EU ins in Apple's pocket

"why is the EU picking on Google"

It was explained in the article. It was explained in replies to other comments asking the same question. You should read them.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Others?

"Paradoxically, the best course of action is for them to just close up the platform and turn the whole thing into a binary blob."

That would require them to replace all the GPL-licenced stuff with something else, probably BSD.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Ubuntu Phone

"Can I go into a phone shop on the high st and buy one?"

Do you have to go into phone shops to buy phones nowadays? Last time I looked you could buy them online.

Tweak Privacy Shield rules to make people happy? Nah – US govt

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

The fig-leaf is starting to curl at the edges already.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"The problem is that they can't .. at least not without falling foul of US law when the feds come a-knocking."

There are ways. Microsoft think they've got one with the data trustee set-up they're putting together in Germany. An alternative would be to have EU nationals set up an EU corporation to run the operation in the EU in data centres owned by the EU corporation under EU law as a franchise with the terms of the franchise specifically preventing the US parent from accessing the data.

I can't think why they haven't done this already - I'm sure there's no shortage of legal expertise in setting up franchises when it comes to tax arrangements - unless they don't want to share the money with their franchisees.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"or US companies operating in the EU the solution is simply making a sincere effort to abide by the law there."

No. The solution is simply to abide by the law. Sincere efforts are not enough. It will take a serious reorganisation of how they do business. If the Microsoft data trustee scheme proves effective then that sort of solution would suffice. If not then they'll have to resort to a franchise operation where the entire operation is hands off for the US parent.

Sneaky Google KOs 'right to be forgotten' from search results

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

If they can handle stuff they don't want to be found like this it makes a mockery of any claim that RTBF would be too difficult to implement.

Are bearded blokes more sexist?

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Re: Sometimes I'm just lazy

"I spend about half the time clean-shaven and half bearded"

You could try both at the same time. Just shave one side...

Google's 'fair use' mass slurping of books can continue – US Supremes snub writers' pleas

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Here's the test case.

Google could claim copyright on the scan - and on the OCR. Some of the OCRs are certainly creative - nobody could accuse them of plagiarising the original author's words.

Catastrophic 123-reg VPS cockup deletes Ross County FC website

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

I don't know the ins & outs of this particular site* but I suspect in a lot of cases the business has no IT knowledge whatsoever. They found somebody local who could "do" them a website for some amount of money. The somebody has then arranged to host the site and moved onto the next client. The client may not even have seen the T&Cs, much less read them, much less understood them. It wouldn't surprise me if there were e-commerce sites there where the business's only copy if its entire transactional history is the website's database complete with customers' credit card details.

*It's football - my personal view is that anything involving 22 men chasing a bag of wind up and down a field could be removed from the planet with no loss whatsoever.

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