* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16449 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

15 MILLION T-Mobile US customer records swiped by hackers

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"And why wasn't the T-Mobile DB cleaned up after the credit checks were run? That would ensure minimal customer exposure to attack?"

Exactly this. Or are they trying to tell us that they handled nearly a million applications a day (the breach is said to have run for about 16 days and there were 15 million records stolen).

175,000 whinge to Microsoft about phone tech support scams

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Re: I outsource the annoyance

"I'm afraid that I just hang up"

That's anti-social. The least you can do is tell them to hold the line for a moment & then put the phone aside and hang up a few minutes later. Hanging up immediately just gives them a chance to try someone else.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Education...but by who?

"You can prove that you are the bank by getting them to phone you back on your bank number. It's pretty certain that if you phone a bank, the person you end up speaking to works for the bank."

There's actually a well-known scam based on this. The scammer puts a recording of a dial tone on the line to fake having hung up and then an accomplice takes over the call after the mark has gone through the motions of calling back. Ring-back verification only works if you call back on a different line.

"There really is no answer to this one, as eventually one side has to trust the other, but the banks are aware of this"

They show no indication of such awareness. The proof that they expect you to offer is the sort of information a scammer would need to impersonate you. It's no different to a faux website at www.somebnk.com collecting passwords from a mistyped URL. The onus has to be on the originator of the call.

As to your challenge there are three responses to this

(a) it's the banks' problem - they should have solved it before they started making the calls;

(b) you have an agreed set of information which they will use to identify themselves and which is different to that which you use to identify yourself, a solution so blindingly obvious that even the USPO should be able to reject a patent application;

(c) absent any such arrangement a few moment's thought should reveal to you an obvious technique which you can apply unilaterally, which works equally well with passwords if you're not sure the site is genuine and which will actually impede the fraudster so long as everybody doesn't start using it.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Education...but by who?

"My wife works in a high street bank"


You have the answer right there.

High street banks should be training their customers to resist frauds.

But do they? No they train them to fall for frauds.

They have digital marketing companies <spit/> send out emails which bear all the signs of phishing emails by purporting to be from the bank but are clearly not from the bank's domain and which include links which are also not to the bank's domain.

They phone customers and expect the customer they phoned to prove their identity without making the slightest provision to authenticate that they really are the bank.

And yet they, of all people, have most to lose. The marketing people are in charge which is another way of saying the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: And the real problem?

"complaining to Microsoft won't help"

You know that, I know that. We also know not to fall for the scam. But we're talking about people who did fall for it so it's not surprising that they complain to Microsoft. They're probably the people who call 999 or 911 when their interwebs go down & they can't twat or facebitch.

Mars water discovery is a liberal-muslim plot, cry moist conspiracy theorists

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Re: Just goes to show

"Stupidity is alive and well"

It's enough to make you wonder about the efficacy of natural selection.

BTW, is there a whoosh icon? I bet we'll need it.

Woman makes app that lets people rate and review you, Yelp-style. Now SHE'S upset people are 'reviewing' her

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Just pay $100 to be deleted."

At least partially.

Slurp data in a Eurozone country? Play by their DPA's rules – EU court

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Possible implication for safe harbour. Stuff redress in the US courts if the company you're dealing with has establishment in the EU.

Behind the curve: How not to be a technology laggard

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You know the noise the TV used to make just before the mobile rang? A couple of weeks ago we were in the pub & that noise kept coming over the speakers. The landlord said it was because he was using his phone to play the music. He normally used his iPad but it turned out he'd been one of the early adopters of the borked update. I reminded him of the saying: the early bird catches the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Accenture extends tentacles with €25m Dublin R&D centre

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'Irish prime minister Enda Kenny said the announcement was a "welcome endorsement of the government's strategy on ICT".

The country also has one of the lowest corporation tax rates in Europe, at 12.5 per cent. '

Wadya mean "also"? That is the strategy.

Tucci’s terrible dilemma: Unlock EMC value without destroying the Federation

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Re: They do!

Elliott Management isn't a business like EMC. EMC makes things.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

If the likes of Elliott are so good at running businesses like EMC why don't they set up such businesses in the first place?

What does EU farm subsidy get spent on? Yes, broadband for Irish farmers

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"So-called next generation access in Ireland is at around 71 per cent, but in rural areas that figure is only around 8 per cent."

I'm wondering about the basis on which access is measured. There's an awful lot of rural Ireland. If access there is only 8% how can the national average be 71%?

Massive global cooling process discovered as Paris climate deal looms

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


I know they're emitted by trees and shrubs in nature; I'm a botanist by training. The point of this paper is that they've discovered abiotic isoprenes being generated at the ocean surface. Short of an hitherto unknown abiotic photosynthetic process they must be derived from some organic material. What might that be?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Let me be the first to say..

"The Northern hemisphere jet stream is being disrupted by something"

Disrupted from what? How long has the existence of the jet stream been known? What records exist to show what its "normal" pattern might be?

Most of the things which we can measure now are so recently discovered that our total knowledge of them in relation to the length of the current interglacial amounts to buggerall and yet people keep making this sort of statement.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: So-

"The interesting thing is that climate isn't chaotic. Weather, of course, is, but climate isn't."

Hmmm. On the right scale weather isn't chaotic in that a weather system will follow a predicted track, more or less, at a predicted speed, more or less but such predictions fail if you try to extend them out more than a few days on the one hand and you can't tell who will get hit by a shower at one time on the other.

When we look at palaeoclimates we have very few variables we can measure and measurements tend to represent quite long periods of time so the long term changes look fairly steady yet do bounce around quite a bit on time scales of millennia. Do we really have sufficient data to say that they aren't to some extent chaotic apart from some forcing due to orbital factors?

The thing about paleoclimatology is that because the measurements cover extended periods of time they smooth out variations on the scale that warmists/non-warmists are arguing about. Even taking the longest data sets directly observed measurements only cover a tiny fraction of the current interglacial.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

What's the source of these isoprenes? Are we seeing degradation of all the plastic waste we've been putting into the oceans over the last half century or so?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: So-

The process science is intended to follow is to form a hypothesis, test its predictions against reality and, if it fails to match up, recognise that and then either discard it for a new one or modify it.

A model is a complex hypothesis, nothing more, nothing less.

With "climatic" models we have three problems. One is that the timescales that get discussed are really too short to be called climate but we don't have anything in our vocabulary to deal with the gap between weather and climate. The second is that over those short timescales meaningful measurement is difficult at best and arguably impossible. The third is that both sides are so dug into there positions that they would be reluctant to recognise any detectable* failure of prediction.

*Personally I'm not convinced we're seeing anything but noise.

SaaS biz 'made up 99% of sales and defrauded investors of millions'

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My goodness, they were busy boys.

Weird garbled Windows 7 update baffles world – now Microsoft reveals the truth

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Re: I hate to say this, but...

A W2K system should be relatively safe. It isn't going to get updates.

Solar panel spammer hit by UK’s biggest ever nuisance calls fine

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Re: A thought...

"how about a code you can dial on your phone which causes the phone company to log the source of the last incoming call and simply blocks calls from that underlying source number (so it includes withheld and non-geographical numbers, possibly also international numbers?) to the customer in question"

You're not taking it far enough. The callee gets their account credited with a fee for taking the call and that gets transferred back. Accepting calls from another telecoms business without making arrangements to do the transfer charge? Then you get to pay it. It needs some means of checking that a given source is making enough logged calls to a variety of numbers to ensure that someone doesn't get the idea of just logging every call irrespective of who calls.

Of course this might have the entirely unexpected side-effect of killing the outbound calling industry stone dead. Wouldn't that be a shame?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: A thought...

@ ckm5

Someone in the phone system knows where the call comes from otherwise they can't bill for it. It needs to be mandatory to pass the action back. If some business in the chain fails then they catch the penalty.

Arabic-speaking cyberspies targeting BOFHs with crude but effective attacks

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


Not really BOFHs. They wouldn't dare. That would be likely to result in a DDoS attack by return. With all the packets strangely elevated to 5Kv (the remote cattle prod).

Share-crazy millennials spaff passwords ALL OVER the workplace

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Re: I'm confused

It may be that these are for active accounts of employees still working there which have been shared. Neither should be possible of course.

Lies from VW: 'Our staff acted criminally but board didn't know'

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You're saying it didn't take considerable time and effort to draw up a 2nd engine profile to meet the required spec?

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Re: Dieselgate

"Unless you're taking the piss, of course :-)"

Of course they're taking the piss. As Oscar Wilde put it, "sole purpose of visit".

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: We only found out about the problems in the last board meeting

"we haven't actually *got* the very best at top level"

Of course we have. It's just that they're the best at climbing corporate ladders. That's the sole requirement for getting to the top of any organisation other than one that one founds oneself. Anything other talent is an optional extra.

Cynical? Moi?

Adblock farms out acceptable ad policy to independent reviewer

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

The advertising industry needs to learn humility

The advertising industry have just realised they've got a problem. They think it's ad blocking.

They're wrong, they have two problems and neither of them is ad blocking.

The chronic problem is that nobody outside the industry likes them because a significant number of their members are just so damn annoying. That's the pop-up, pop-under, animated, video, sound-playing membership. If they insist on poking their fingers into the public's eyeballs and ear drums the public are going to be annoyed. Ad blocking is the public's response. If the industry had dealt with this rogue element there would be no ad blockers. Up to now although it's been a chronic problem for the industry probably not been too serious as ad blocking had been a minority sport.

The acute problem is malvertising. This is moving ad blocking from nuisance prevention to being a normal part of any PC security setup alongside AV. The likelihood is that it will become a standard part of browser and/or OS builds. At that point the industry will be moribund.

If the industry wishes to survive it needs to deal with the problem at source and do so quickly. They need to look at their entire chain of brokering and serving ads so that only clean ads are served up on the net. And now that the wider web-public realises that blocking is not only a security resource but actually makes web use more pleasant cleanliness will need to include not only absence of malware but also all those other features that make advertisers unpopular. I'd guess that Google not only has the wit to see the need for this but also the resources to do it on their own. Of course this would just squeeze out a lot of other players but the security aspect would help justify this to regulators and indeed would go a long way to helping them to defend against general accusations of monopoly abuse.

In other words, I suspect that if the rest of the industry doesn't get off its high horse with accusations of stealing and the like they're going to find Google walking away with pretty well all their business. Either that or there won't be a business at all because ad blocking will be universal. What's more, because it's an acute problem, they don't have much time to do it.

Right now they need to stop thinking that they have some God-given right to our attention which the evil ad blockers are interfering with and start asking themselves what they need to do earn our willingness to grant them admittance. They need to learn humility. And respect.

It's the white heat of the tech revolution, again!

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Government’s role is to provide the opportunity for massive advances in technology [..]

"Anything else is mostly a justification that Government has too much money to play with, and should pare down the taxes to leave research institutes and corporations to care for technological advances."

Largely I agree, but where do those research institutes go to get funded if not to the government?

It's reasonable that the government should do those things which we can do better together than separately e.g. a public fire service rather than separate ones funded by insurance companies. But that's much less than big government enthusiasts think but more than small-staters want.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I still can't work it out...

"All it's saying is that companies and other people don't operate optimally, so government should actively encourage more optimal operation."

That assumes they can work out what would be optimal so as to encourage it. There's always a snag somewhere, usually between theory and practice.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Changing goal posts

"And on the civil front, Britain had the edge with the jet. You might think a quick trip to Malaga in a Ryanair bus is "a bit noisy and why can't they make it quieter", but pre-jet all planes (to put it simply) vibrated to add to the propwash battering the hull."

And those rear engined jets such as the BAC 1-11 seemed a good deal quieter, at least for passengers, then the engine on the wings variety.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

The white heat of the technological revolution

Followed shortly by "What's one of the most technologically advanced jobs we've got on the stocks? TSR2? Cancel it."

Along with the pound in your pocket speech it made Wilson one of the masters of Yes Minister's principle of getting rid of the difficult bit in the title.

Herbie goes to a hackathon: Mueller promises cheatware fix

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Re: Volkswagen is going to spend up big getting rid of its troublesome cheatware

"Weird, I've never really had problems with turbo diesels, and I have been driving them from the time VAG brought out the first turbo diesel."

Mine wasn't VAG.

The power band must have been all of 500rpm wide and on acceleration away from the lights the traffic behind vanished. Behind a black cloud.

Being a company car I handed it in when I retired & bought a 2nd hand petrol-driven Sierra with a suspiciously exact 60,000 on the clock. It was a major improvement.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Volkswagen is going to spend up big getting rid of its troublesome cheatware

"All that is needed is for the Volkswagen Group cars to have their test running parameters set back to a mode which reflects normal driving."

T'other way round.

If they did what you suggest then they would fail the emissions test. The issue is that normal running does not reflect the test results which entitled them to be on the road. It's the normal running parameters which need to be changed to bring them into line with the tests and when that's done the vehicles are likely to be down on power, have higher CO2 emissions or both. Owners will then be complaining that they haven't got the performance they paid for & maybe that their vehicles have been reclassified into higher tax bands. Either that or remediation is going to include the fitting of additional hardware to inject urea.

As I have a VAG petrol driven car I'm hoping that this doesn't extend beyond diesels. OTOH, assuming it doesn't, I'm glad that after my experience with a crap (as in crap from brand new) company car years ago I've refused to even consider another diesel.

BBC joins war against Flash, launches beta HTML5 iPlayer

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Re: I wonder what it means for get_iplayer?

I'm with you there, Keef. At present I often run get_iplayer on the laptop & then punt the file over the the Myth box to view on the big screen.

Move to the latest IE, or suck it: January’s cold comfort for Microsoft hangouts

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Once upon a time MS had this great idea about proprietary lock-in. Encourage customers to use those non-proprietary bits & pieces to build mission-critical applications and they were committed to using MS platforms for life. Except that now MS want to EoL those proprietary bits it means either abandoning those locked-in customers or charging them for extended support whilst they incur further costs in rebuilding the applications. In practice a good many of those customers are going to just keep using the old platforms as long as they can; if they isolate them from the net then there's probably no great harm in that as long as the hardware lasts. But for those current customers who rebuild are they going to think more carefully about having control over their own destinies in the future? And will that mean reducing their dependence on MS?

Web ad tried to make my iPhone spaff a premium-rate text, says snapper

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Re: Bah!

" El Reg manages to make enough money to pay their staff by convincing advertisers ... to buy adverts they know very few will ever see."

It's cleverer than that. Because we block the ads we don't get so pissed off with them that we actively avoid the product.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Advertising: mankind's most useless invention

"Adblockers and NoScript set to "stun", Cap'n."

And don't forget Ghostery.

Is Windows 10 slurping too much data? No, says Microsoft. Nuh-uh. Nope

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: You really want to "deliver a delightful and personalized Windows experience" to me?

@ dan1980

A very interesting post.

A significant factor may be that Apple's market is not the same as Windows'. In trying to grab a share of one they risk alienating the enterprise segment of the other (where Apple's consumer-based approach wouldn't have been acceptable). They seem not to have grasped this.

They also seem to not appreciate that their traditional lock-in approach may have back-fired. Where users had custom applications running on XP and dependent on specific aspects of the OS their choices in moving no vary from impossible if the development was by a company that not longer exists to expensive if it has to be extensively modified.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


And talking about "user experience" is always an indicator of a badly broken user interface.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: You really want to "deliver a delightful and personalized Windows experience" to me?

"it's a world-wide corporate thing."

That may or may not explain it. It doesn't excuse it.

Here are the God-mode holes that gave TrueCrypt audit the slip

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: People still use Truecrypt and friends?

"I'm one of those hipster"

Shouldn't you be using a Mac?

NSA? Illegal spying? EU top lawyer is talking out of his Bot – US gov

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Re: The usual

"Sorry, America, your proclamations now carry about as much weight as Israel or Syria's. Except they have the benefit at least of talking a different language when they put out internal and external propaganda."

Now there's a common misconception for you - that American and English are the same language. They're even less alike once you get propagandists deciding that words mean exactly what they want them to mean.

Thousands of 'directly hackable' hospital devices exposed online

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Apart from anything else it would appear that if these devices are accessible on IPv4 addresses then the organisation has a stock of those addresses that it doesn't need. Given the shortage I'd have thought that their beancounters would have seen an opportunity here.

Dear do-gooders, you can't get rid of child labour just by banning it

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: flawless logic


You seem to have comprehension difficulties. I suggest you go back & read TW's article again. Carefully this time. If you still don't grasp the gist of it - that he's suggesting replacing something that doesn't benefit children with something that does, read it again.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Doctor Symoleton Left and Right and Politics

Matt, your ignorance of British politics - and mine - is showing.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Left and Right and Politics

When we finally had an ex-grammar school pupil, Wilson, as PM one of his govt's policies was to pull up the ladder behind them. So after a third of a century we were back to having public school boys running the country again.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

To some extent things depend on the nature of the labour. Unskilled work in a sweatshop is one thing. However, tending the goats on the family farm is a step up as the child acquires the knowledge required to run the farm in later life is a step up although if the farm remains at subsistence level it's not an adequate step. Working whilst learning a skilled job is a definite benefit. It's becoming fashionable again amongst our great political thinkers. It's called apprenticeship but not to be confused with the TV version.

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Re: Laws

One law never changes. That of unintended consequences.

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Re: Child?

"birth rates are a symptom, not a cause"

The two are not mutually exclusive. They can act together to reinforce the situation making improvement an intractable problem.

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