* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Stevie Graham: Why I hack mobile banking apps

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"if third parties can manage the accounts of their end users programmatically, it diminishes the customer relationship."

There is, of course, a means of cutting third parties out of the customer relationship: branches. It seems that banks don't really care very much about this.

Web ads are reading my keystrokes and I can’t even spel propperlie

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"With me it's watches rather than wallets."


After buying a new car a couple of years ago within a couple of weeks or so the dealer started texting invites to sales events. How quickly did the idiots think I replaced cars? Or how many did they think I wanted to buy?

It only stopped after I managed to find the MD's direct email address & made it clear that as I very much resent being pestered I would never buy another car from his company. Even so it got through in a muddled version; when the car was due for service they called on the landline & I discovered their paperwork had a note saying the mobile was not to be used.

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Re: Ads suck


You need to realise that the advertising industry contains a lot of people who really shouldn't be allowed outdoors without a responsible adult, preferably keeping them in leading reins. Such individuals have two characteristics. One is that they're completely self-obsessed and convinced that the entire world is waiting eagerly for their every fart, brain or otherwise. The other is that they're completely technically clueless so the fact that this ability to regurgitate something that you've just bought appears to be a miracle that they feel they have to share with the world; the fact that it's quite irrelevant hasn't yet dawned on them and available evidence suggests it probably never will.

I'm sure some advertising industry lurker will complain this characterisation is incorrect. If so, please provide evidence for your thinking so but if you do please bear in mind that it will be contrary to the experience of the rest of us.

Telling your wife why you were fired is the only punishment

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"Gary Glitter."

And if, after that, you have a faulty PC with your financial records on it would you have taken it into that branch of PC World for repair?

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Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

"on a company owned work computer there's very little right to privacy, "

There may, however, be files that are above your pay grade or otherwise out-of-bounds such as personal data.

One in five PCs will be a tablet with detachable keyboard by 2020

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Could we have a selection of IDC's predictions from 4 years ago, just so we can see how well their previous predictions worked out.

How Microsoft copied malware techniques to make Get Windows 10 the world's PC pest

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Re: Selective amnesia?

"Microsoft seem to have forgotten we paid for Windows 7."

No, they haven't forgotten. They know you only paid once. Now they're back for more and if selling your eyeballs is the only option then that's what they'll do.

Woz: World-changers to Apple Watches, why pay for an overpriced band?

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Re: Try thinking like one of Apple's satisfied customers

"It makes a real difference to how they are treated."

It makes a real difference to how they feel entitled to treat others.


FAA's 'drone smash risk to aircraft' is plane crazy

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'WTF does "Name 3" even mean...?'

Yes Minister reference. (If "Yes Minister" is also unfamiliar, Google is your friend.)

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'If it is better to be safe than sorry, I recommend a ban on guns within 5mi of the same "airports"'

You may be using that argument as reductio ad absurdum but in fact it would be a very good thing.

Pure swats away EMC patent punch, mulls $14m verdict appeal

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Patents or patterns?

"Vendors should be able to protect the investments they made in developing a patent."

One of the big topics in S/W development has been the idea of patterns. It goes back to research showing that S/W developers, working independently, would come up with similar solutions to similar problems.

It follows that the bar for originality or lack of obviousness in S/W patents (assuming such a thing should be allowed at all) ought to be raised sufficiently high to allow for this. There should be a requirement to demonstrate that, given the problem, a developer skilled in the art would not come up with a similar solution. The only test I can think of to demonstrate such originality would be to show that the problem has been well known for some time without solution. An example might be hypertext, an idea had been around for decades before TB-L came up with HTTP.

In the absence of such a demonstration one should not rule out the possibility that Pure developed their software with no less investment than EMC and, by your own arguments, ought to be similarly protected. If, of course, the allegation had been that they'd simply copied EMC's code the case could have been fought on the surer ground of copyright.

Rights warriors slam US-Europe pact on personal info slurp, urge reforms

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"Unfortunately it is a wholesale redrawing of US law – something which seems a little beyond the influence of EU policymakers."

What isn't beyond EU policymakers is to simply say no to data transfers until the US behaves itself. If US corporations wish to do business with EU nationals then they must follow EU standards. Either they buy themselves a better government or follow Microsoft's lead here: http://blogs.technet.com/b/ralfwi/archive/2015/12/08/microsoft-cloud-in-germany.aspx

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Re: "...there is little to nothing that EC officials can do about US legislation..."

" Privacy Shield* agreement.

* A misnomer, if I've ever heard one."

Just call it the Privacy Fig Leaf because that's all it is.

'Just give me any old date and I'll make it work' ... said the VB script to the coder

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Re: Medieval dates

"July, I'm taking the 12th week"

Don't forget the Little Twelfth (July 1st). The Boyne anniversary is another one that got shifted 11 days.

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Re: Medieval dates

'To address your example above, "Easter Week" is the week after Easter - the week before is, as every good Catholic schoolboy knows, Holy Week.'

I'm inclined to agree but what was the usage at the time of the document by the clerk who wrote it? The YAS archivists gave that one a miss.

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Re: VBA date handling has taken at least five years off my lifespan

"merchants rebelled against the idea of being taxed for non-existent days"

I think it was more a case of being able to handle year long contracts. If, for instance, you'd hired a shepherd or borrowed £10 for a year on Lady day 1752 you wanted the arrangement to last the full 365 days.

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Re: VBA date handling has taken at least five years off my lifespan

All this stuff is nothing compared to what you come across in medieval documents which tend to be dated with reference to religious dates such as "Sunday the feast of the decollation of St. John the Baptist". If you're lucky an archivist has already translated the dates (in 1322 that was 29 Aug BTW). Some of them are ambiguous such as "Thursday in Easter week": did they mean before or after Easter?

Watch six tiny robo-ants weighing 100g in total pull a 1,769-kg family car

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Re: synchronize their footsteps

"he was a friggin genious"

I wonder what his spelling was like.

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Re: Mighty tiny car?

"But the car is on wheels and is being pulled horizontally, reducing the actual resistance to pulling. If a car is on a flat surface and in neutral with the brakes off, a man can push a car or tow it via a rope and get it to roll."

The robots are also on wheels. On the face of it one would expect them to drag themselves backwards towards the car even if their brakes are on. The really remarkable thing here is the adhesion of the robot wheels which prevents this.

Millions menaced as ransomware-smuggling ads pollute top websites

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Re: Just update Flash...

"Love to, but running Linux here, so no more updates, ever."

It's not updated to major versions beyond 11 but still gets regular security updates for 11.

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Re: Re-sold ad spots usually the culprit

"But that would chew into their quota, and their BMW payment."

Nothing like as much as being held liable for the damage, should that happen.

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The ad industry needs to get itself under control PDQ or face extinction. Personally I could live with the latter but not with all the sorting out I'm going to have to do for friends and family whilst one or the other happens.

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Re: Checks for anti-virus?

"Are there any PCs without anti-virus products which are not already infected?"

Yup. They're running Mint or Ubuntu or Debian or Fedora or *BSD or......

Steve Jobs, MS Office, Israel, and a basic feature Microsoft took 13 years to install

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Re: Save your money!

"Here's a how to configure LibreOffice on Mac for RTL fonts."

This, of course, is the LibreOffice that some posters here would have us believe is so lacking in features that it's unfit for serious use.

Hand in hand, TSMC, ARM head to 7nm server chip land

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"You have a button on top, called the gate"

Tricky little blighters to push.

Michigan shooter says 'mind controlling' Uber app told him to kill

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Re: That's pretty sad

"he just snapped"

No previous at all?

Brits shun nightclubs and CD-ROMs for lemons, coffee and woman’s leggings

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"Still no room for anything that tracks house price inflation then ?"

That's a different index. In a rational world, of course, it's the one that should be used but nobody twigged that even when ignoring it brought about the utterly foreseeable financial disaster. The corollary of whether or not Whitehall lives in a rational world is quite clear.

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'drops rewritable DVDs, which HM’s stattos describe as “a declining technology which is being superseded by streaming services and personal video recorders (PVRs)”. So it’s no surprise that CD-ROMs are also dropped, with the ONS saying people are increasingly downloading software instead.'

When the rise of ransomware increases the awareness of the importance of backups maybe expenditure here will increase again. Or will the next revision include expenditure on ransoms?

Who watches over your data – and how do you know it won't go AWOL?

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Re: Answers: For most businesses, everybody and you don't, respectively.

"She has a number of original designs that make up a large part of her business base. She has them marked a copyrighted on all her literature."

I think I can see the fail here. She has pictures on her literature. These pictures are her copyright whether she marks them as such or not although marking them may help establish this if there's a question later. But her designs need to be registered: https://www.gov.uk/register-a-design/check-if-you-can-register-your-design or the equivalent in other jurisdictions (isn't this the purpose of the oddly named "design patent" in the US?).

Swedish publishers plan summer ‘Block Party’ to thwart ad blockers

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Re: I'd love to turn off ad blocking

"This page has an ad at the top for some sort of network analyser."

Who'd have guessed?

Virgin bins Webspace, tells customers they can cry to GoDaddy

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"I felt much the same when my ISP dropped usenet."

After a few takeovers my old ISP ended up in the hands of TalkTalk who didn't exactly drop Usenet, they just made it virtually unusable for a the times when I preferred to use it. Coupled with the inability to get a complaint through the chocolate fire-guard customer disservice department which had come in with a previous takeover I bit the bullet and moved, even though it involved changing email address. The solution there was to register my own domain which made it easier to jump ship when my next ISP was sold.

If an ISP offers these extras then they should maintain them or cut their rates if they drop them. However, it's something of a lock-in. It's amazing that ISPs haven't grasped that as dropping the service must promote customer churn.

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"There really is no reaosn for an ISP to offer hosting, or even email come to think of it these days."

There's no reason for anyone to do so unless they're making a business out of it. But as ISPs are businesses there's no reason why they shouldn't choose to do so.

OTOH if you choose to go with an ISP as host for web or email services it ties your hands if they piss you off and you want to go elsewhere.

Microsoft SQL Server for Linux is a brilliant and logical idea

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"Except no-one actually bought it!"

For good reasons. The preview was shipped with D7 so we got a chance to see what it was like. I remember trying to compile a perfectly correct bit of Delphi code. Kylix barfed on it throwing non-existent syntax errors. Cross-Kylix compiled it.

And it all ran on top of a hacked version of GPL Wine. I don't recall seeing anything about getting the source for that.

If that wasn't enough Linux switched to 2.6 at which point it threw a new crop of errors.

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Re: Why

"3. A gentle nudge in the direction of the differences in scale between global Goliath MS, and relatively minor player EDB."

The question to ask here would be "If I went for this would MS need me as much as I'd need MS?".

UK plans robo-car tests on motorways in 2017

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Re: One major difference between the US and UK

"the Magic Roundabout"

AFAICS this is very much like the arrangement at the bottom of Marlow Hill in High Wycombe which always seemed to me to be a non-threatening arrangement.

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Re: Think of "number of voters"

"a degree in Media Studies"

Maybe not the best choice to illustrate your argument.

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"the potential for robo-cars to hit British roads"

And the road users.

Ironic: CCTV systems slide open a backdoor into your biz network

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Re: Open Internet

"There's an awful lot of fuckwits on this planet, then."

I thought this was a news site.

Like masochism? Run a PC? These VXers want to help you pwn yourself

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Re: true story, here

"yet will follow anonymous instructions without taking a moment to think."

Of course. It's what the computer says so it must be right.

Polite, helpful? Stop it at once in the name of security

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Re: Security helpful...?

"Dave must be new here."

No he isn't. Maybe you are.

Hey Windows 10, weren't you supposed to help PC sales?

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Re: Privacy Issue

'Provide a switch to "one stop" turn off the data sharing with servers'

Don't bother with a switch. Just strip the whole lot out.

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Re: The Purpose of 10

"Is someone now saying that it was intended to sell more hardware?"

If you were a H/W manufacturer this is exactly what you'd think it was for.

Microsoft's done a terrible job with its Windows 10 nagware

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Re: How to increase adoption rate for Windows 10

6. Call it Windows 11. W10 is now too toxic.

TBH they'd still face an uphill struggle. A big row with the FBI might help there.

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Re: The Terrible...

"Even Ubuntu beat them to this."

And got their arse in a sling for their efforts. The difference between them and MS is that they backed off PDQ.

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Re: What users want ...

"Donating to an OSS project is a fine and socially useful thing, but what that user WANTS is to get functional tools THIS MONTH, and directly paying for a commercial package is the only effective way to get that."

No, installing a package that has the functions is the only effective way, irrespective of whether that package is commercial or OSS.

The question arises as to what happens if there's no such package. For a start "this month" is unlikely.

If a mass-market commercial package doesn't do what you want you're probably not going to see that change unless you pay humungous amounts to the vendor because only the vendor can fix it and they have their roadmap for development so aren't going to be diverted for anything less.

Specialised commercial packages might be more responsive. I've worked with such vendors. Features could be requested but, of course, such packages tend to be at least semi-bespoke so they're probably nothing like as cheap as the mass-market package in the first place.

If the OSS package doesn't have it one approach would be to use its bug/feature requesting page to make a request. This might or might not work as some projects are more responsive than others. If the need is worth it you could pay a sufficiently experienced developer to add them. The cost is likely to be similar to that of the feature request for the semi-bespoke package but you don't have the up-front cost in the first place.

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Re: What users want ...

LibreOffice, of course, is in no way bound by the attitudes of its supporters here any more than Microsoft, Apple or Google are.

If you have a problem with LibreOffice log it with them. Does Microsoft Office have a Bugzilla account?

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Re: Outlook is like democracy:

"Thunderbird has a problem (which I expect is all on the Google side). When you move messages to the local folders it leaves them on GMail. "

Have you got the Leave messages on server box ticked? (Server settings in the account settings, not general preferences). If you have then it's definitely a GMail issue because I've never seen this happen on any other server.

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Re: The Terrible...

"I never meant TB and projects like it are clumsy and slow ...I just meant they are not very actively developed and improved, i.e. the Mozilla Foundation is letting TB go because it no longer fits its business"

TB is still being developed. You're right in that it no longer fits well within the Mozilla world. There seem to be moves to incorporate it into LibreOffice.

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Re: "By the way, professional and OSS are not mutually exclusive."

"Delivering a product users need, and supporting it properly, is professional, regardless if the code is proprietary or not."

This is true. But remember the fix-it-yourself response came from a commentard here, not from the LibreOffice devs.

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Re: What users want ...

"When you're a paying customer, you do expect a very different level of support."

A while ago I had a problem with LO calc crashing when performing a particular operation. I reported the bug, it was verified, fixed and in the next update but one (there wasn't time to get in into the earlier release). You, I expect a different level of support as a paying customer, but not necessarily in a good way.

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