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Court Shuts Down Alleged $120M Tech Support Scam

youngatheart Re:You know what's really sad? (129 comments)

Really! You were an Apple fanboi until you said this.

I'm an admin, so that probably accounts for a lot of my perspective. I judge a system by more than how convenient it is for me. Most systems have good and bad parts and I've rarely used something I couldn't find both the good and the flaws in. It's not totally unfair to call me a Unix geek, Linux zealot, Apple fanboi and MS shill if you must, they've all helped me earn a paycheck. Even Xenix and SCO had good points. About the only OS I didn't care for at all was an NCR ATM system but even that probably had something good about it if I'd looked harder.

When has Microsoft ever increased security in a application release? There's Vista, where the security was so anal, everyone turned it off. Just about everything else was worse, usually because the microsoft 'extensions' were designed to break the previous version.

I didn't turn off the UAC in Vista for myself or our company; I learned how to work with it. When we moved to Win7, we already had the skills and experience to use it, but I was really speaking of Security Essentials and Windows 8 and 10 building in anti-virus and malware protection. MS had done plenty that they deserve to be faulted for but UAC and integrated AV and Malware protection are things that I think have been good for the industry. It's no SELinux (love it) but it is a step in the right direction.

We would still be limited to Genie/CompuServe/AOL, if that model was really followed.

The open internet seems obviously the way things should have gone now, but back in the days of running a bulletin board system, it wasn't so obvious. Genie/CompuServe/AOL provided a necessary stepping stone. If you think the internet would have developed as quickly as it did without AOLs send everyone a disk approach, you're overestimating the average consumer.

You say how great training wheels are and then whinge you don't want them.

If everyone was like me, there wouldn't be a need for anti-virus and malware protection and UAC. There wouldn't be a need or market for Microsoft for that matter. I can accept that most people need protection from their own bad decisions because not everybody has the aptitude or interest or even energy to learn the things they need to in order to work with computers safely. I'm a long, long way from being an average computer user. It is a hobby, a career and a friggin' paycheck for me. Of course I don't want to follow the normal computer user recommendations, I'm not the normal computer user.

That Windows is a less stable and less secure system is a different issue. Yet many people like you, demand that everyone else be shoved into the walled garden as a solution.

Windows is a quite stable and secure system handled correctly. Microsoft has made the decision to offer backwards compatibility over and over again and there is no doubt that has hurt their ability to make Windows as stable and secure as I wish it were, but Win 7,8,10 have made significant and important strides. Vista had some serious growing pains, but if you move someone from Win7 to Vista now, it is nearly painless, proving the industry was more of the problem than Vista was. When you consider how many programs used to be designed to have free reign without ACL controls, it is clearly Vista that was on the right track. Look what disdain it got them. (Metro was a terrible decision, but it wasn't about security or stability.) The average consumer will make bad decisions even if you try to protect them from it, but making it take more thought is not a bad thing.

Walled gardens have yet to be designed so that people like me can't get around them. (Can I get a woot woot from the Cyanogen crowd?!) If every system was a walled garden, then I might be on the other side of the debate, but the way things are now, people using aptitude, yum, ports and iOS are far more unlikely to mess up their system than people who don't have dedicated package maintainers trying to protect them. You act like iOS keeps people from running what they like but I'm running software on my iPhone now that isn't in the App store without breaking the terms for Apple Care. Anybody really can, but it isn't easy to do by mistake, so the walled garden clearly has gates. If you fear the walled garden then you're either immersed in a esoteric and philosophical debate or too inexperienced to be allowed to take your training wheels off yet.

And they make a lot of money ensuring that you install only devices they approve via their obsolete-in-18-months hardware interface. Plus ensuring that you only install applications they allow and don't want to make themselves

Yup. I run Mint, but my background with LFS, Gentoo, FreeBSD, OpenBSD and other more obscure systems make me desire things that most people don't care about. Most people are happy with the iOS ecosystem. I'm not, but then that's not the same as recognizing that it works well for most people.

It's a lot easier to uninstall a faulty 3rd-party application than a faulty hidden MS service. Plus it's easier to detect that a 3rd-party application is faulty.

Bullshit. I can't tell you how many people I've walked through removing rundll registry keys to replace them with the original OS configuration after a major AV vendor messed them up. Microsoft is far from perfect, but they have the advantage of being able to review an exponentially larger user base's results and they have faster resolution in nearly every case. I was a fan of AVG for a LONG time, but security essentials has a better track record of not screwing things up and I don't think there has yet been an instance of Win8's integrated AV messing something up.

This is outright defamation. A real AV has to use algorithms and databases to check the user is doing the right thing. A fake AV has to open a telnet channel to a data-scraping server. When both are sold at the same price, I have a different conclusion on who is running a scam. And that's avoiding the fact that many real AVs provide virus removal for free.

No true Scotsman? McAfee and Norton pay to get their trialware installed with OEM systems because nobody would pay for them to do what MS now does for free and with lower impact on performance and fewer screwups. They screw up cookie handling or delete registry entries that were useful and harmless so they can appear to be doing something useful. Their business depends on MS not providing decent AV and now that MS is doing just that, they're scrambling to create non-existant problems to fix. The ethical thing to do is close shop and put a "just use the AV it came with" page up instead, but that'll never happen because they have a vested interest in fixing something they don't need to fix anymore. The best way to make money they have now is by deceiving consumers into thinking they need something they don't, and they do that. It may not be illegal but it's shady as hell. It seems to me to be a very, very short step from outright scamming. Why do you think Symantec is doing so many things besides AV now? It isn't because they suddenly decided the other markets needed them, it's because they realized that their money maker market was disappearing.

Sure there are decent AV companies out there. Kaspersky (is a pain in the ass and screws shit up but basically does a good job) and AVG do what they advertise with minimal screwups, but I have yet to see someone suffer by choosing MS's free solution instead. The only one that I still regularly recommend is MalwareBytes and I only recommend that to people who have demonstrated a tendency to fall for scams.

about a month ago
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Court Shuts Down Alleged $120M Tech Support Scam

youngatheart Re:You know what's really sad? (129 comments)

Greed.

There is/was a popular scam that involved getting people to look at their Windows error log in order to convince them that they needed "help." It was quite effective because the average user easily accepts that errors are the same as problems.

My mom and a co-worker were both targets of this particular scam. The target would receive an unsolicited phone call from someone who made the target think the caller was associated with Microsoft who would show them the errors on their computer. The caller would then try to convince the target to let the caller have access to their computer. Neither of the targets had a clue that the errors they were seeing were normal and it could have gone quite badly for them. Both my mom and co-worker declined to let the caller do anything on their computer saying that they had someone who handled this kind of stuff for them (me.) Naturally I received a not quite panicked call shortly after and was able to reassure them it was only a scam and their computer was fine, but I think either could have been victimized if they hadn't had someone they know and absolutely trust to handle serious computer issues for them.

My company gives me a phone and it's an iPhone so I can give good tech support to the boss who "needs" an iPhone. Because it is a company phone, I can't jailbreak it or hack around on it in good conscience, but it chafes. I can't put whatever software I want on it or make it work the way I would prefer because Apple makes their customers a deal: trust us completely and we'll make your device work the way it should.

As much as it chafes me to deal with such a walled garden, I can't help but think it's the way consumer products need to be designed. The harder it is for my mom and co-worker to mess up their device, the less time I have to spend fixing it.

With that background in mind, I can't help but hope MS goes more and more down the road toward building in their own computer security because it removes the incentive to get an anti-virus package which has to "solve" issues that aren't really problems in order to appear useful.

If the scammers were just a little less greedy, they could have used the same approach to sell actual anti-virus packages. I think most anti-virus companies are just slightly less greedy or they'd be running the same scams.

Greed is the thin greasy line that separates "legitimate" anti-virus vendors from criminals. For decades I've told people they needed antivirus and security software despite knowing the big vendors introduce a new set of problems, because it was necessary. Now MS is building it in and I can tell them to just use the free MS software that's built in and I get less support headaches. I'm sure it's hurting the AV vendors, but I've had to fix too many problems they caused to feel much sympathy.

about a month ago
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Why CurrentC Will Beat Out Apple Pay

youngatheart Re: Not a chance (631 comments)

Shill he may be, but he has a point about the protections of CC vs debit transactions... However, it is worth noting that your check card used as a "credit" transaction comes out of your account and gives you the same protections.

There are two real issues here. First, the credit card companies are going to start having less liability because it is going to go to the least secure system as the changes in law take effect. That's why they're loving it. Second, the battle between Wal-Mart's payment system and Google/Apple/Everybody else is actually about who gets your personal data. NFC keeps your personal data with the one company you decide to trust, where Wal-Mart's approach gives it to each merchant you do business with.

about 2 months ago
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The Argument For a Hypersonic Missile Testing Ban

youngatheart Never make it too easy to break the rules (322 comments)

One rule I try to remember is to never make a rule that can't be enforced. With nuclear bombs, there is seismic and radioactive evidence, so you can know if somebody is breaking the treaty. I doubt that such a thing exists for hypersonic missiles.

about 4 months ago
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Theater Chain Bans Google Glass

youngatheart Re:Battery Life (376 comments)

It isn't just a bit of regulation that will be required. The freedom of the press means that anyone who wants to, or even claims to eventually want to publish has a right to take pictures and video in any public place so long as their rebroadcast of copyrighted material falls into the fair use category. The right of free press doesn't give people the right to infringe on copyright or the right to privacy, but the right to privacy doesn't extend to public places. Even preventing perverts from taking upskirt videos and posting them on the web wasn't simple to legislate and that relied on defining privacy in a way that was painfully obvious already.

Consider that a ban on public photography is pointless if it applies only to g-glass since there are dozens of alternatives to clandestine video already available and dozens more will spring up as soon as g-glass is banned on a widespread basis. Contacts that take video and hidden cameras doing constant upload that melt without any provable trace of what they were doing will inevitably spring up to meet the demand. More sinister is that the fight against g-glass is is actually a fight against the right of the people to know what is going on. Nothing would make a corrupt government happier than to know that they need not fear public proof of wrongdoing.

The fight against paparazzi has been going on for many, many years and this is just a discussion of one of their most obvious potential tools. This problem isn't confined to g-glass, but the potential remedies to the problem it presents must be considered carefully if they are to have a result which doesn't cause other problems worse than the ones they solve.

You don't want to lose your privacy, and you have a right to that privacy. You're already guaranteed the right to privacy in certain circumstances, such as in your home and on your phone conversations, but that only extends to certain points. Federal wiretapping laws prohibit someone from recording your conversations on the phone unless the person you're talking to knows it is being recorded. Donald Sterling's recent time in the press shows that even in your own home, your privacy isn't guaranteed.

What kind of laws exactly do you propose where amateur journalists and bloggers can still record and report news they feel is in the public interest without having to fight a legal battle against big money and corrupt government interests?

about 6 months ago
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Efforts To Turn Elephants Into Woolly Mammoths Are Already Underway

youngatheart Re:Times sure are changing (147 comments)

We're already doing things that could wipe out the human race overnight. We're already dealing with pythons in the Everglades and zebra mussel epidemics. We've wiped out mammoths, passenger pigeons and very nearly the rhino.

If we can take steps toward showing the world what we've lost by introducing something that will demonstrate how valuable the species we've wiped out were, then I'm a happy camper. (I'll be camping in a kevlar tent with my rifle handy if we manage to reintroduce dire wolves and saber-tooth tigers, but I'll be happy doing it.)

about 7 months ago
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Efforts To Turn Elephants Into Woolly Mammoths Are Already Underway

youngatheart Re:so... (147 comments)

It doesn't make me angry that people have tried to create greater biological diversity, it makes me sad that they have failed. If they fail, then I will be sad, but if they succeed then I will be happy that the world holds something amazing which might help lead to the development of a world where rhinos and mammoths contribute to something even better: a world where the mistakes of our ancestors can be mended.

about 7 months ago
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Efforts To Turn Elephants Into Woolly Mammoths Are Already Underway

youngatheart Re:More "tradition medicine viagra" to sell ... (147 comments)

You know what, I wish you were right.

There is little that I would enjoy more than seeing biological and ecosystem diversity empowered by the ignorant and foolish.

The idea of a world where rainforests and rhinos are abundant as a direct result of stupid people putting their money into funding it makes me so giddy that my cynicism filter cuts in.

about 7 months ago
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Massachusetts Court Says 'Upskirt' Photos Are Legal

youngatheart Re:Now that's news for nerds (519 comments)

How do you determine who isn't a public figure?

about 9 months ago
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Website Checkout Glitches: Two Very Different Corporate Responses

youngatheart Re:Same rules apply (303 comments)

My daughter convinced me to take her to Kohl's for some basic shopping. I checked in on 4square and was surprised to find that it got me a discount. Then at the register, when they rang me up, it was less than expected even with the discount. I was happily surprised to discover after paying, that the receipt showed another discount which I commented on to the cashier. I was happy to hear that they often give those kinds of discounts.

The point is that when you get extra discounts, you don't assume they're made in error, you assume that you are being given a treat, probably something they are advertising and you just didn't see, by the seller.

about a year ago
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Preventing Cheating At Hackathons

youngatheart Re:Just another level of hacking (104 comments)

See the 6 different instances of "slow down" explaining when they stop speeding at F1 races on wikipedia.

There are rules for a reason in racing and in hacking competitions. There are no rules if you do it outside a group event, and as a result the risks are significantly higher.

about a year ago
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GameFly Scores In Longstanding DVD Mailing Complaint

youngatheart Re:Reclassify as a competitive product? (147 comments)

From TFA:

by reducing the price for a two-ounce First-Class flat-shaped round-trip DVD mailer to the price of a one-ounce mailer First-Class letter-shaped round-trip DVD mailer

They see the DVD mailing as competing with the internet option, therefore giving them cause to support DVD mailing by discounting the price.

I'll tell you the truth and its up to you to live with it.

about a year ago
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Writing Documentation: Teach, Don't Tell

youngatheart Re:Source code (211 comments)

Oh cool! I known that shutdown -r -t 600 works on Windows when I expect it to finish installing an update and I'm ready to go for a coffee, but I never remember what it is in Linux. Thanks to your tip, I now know I can use shutdown -h but I know the Linux guy had to put a number, so let me try shutdown -h 0 and see what it tells me about how

about a year ago
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Researchers Discover Way To Spot Crappy Coffee

youngatheart Re:Money well spent on that research (184 comments)

I'm surprised to see this comment rated so highly.

If you are paying $15 a cup for coffee then presumably you have super awesome taste buds. So why do you need chemically analyse your coffee to tell if it's the real deal? You're coffee is either worth $15 or it isn't based on what it tastes like.

Taste is a very variable thing. If you're trying to train yourself to distinguish different tastes, then you need to try different things to learn what tastes you are capable of recognizing. If you're basing your experience on faulty information, then you're being cheated of your option to learn something. If you are going to try to learn the difference in sushi or wines and you are trying to learn the differences in tastes of different options, being lied to about what you're tasting means you won't be able to tell the difference between different grades of tuna, or different types of dry red wines. As a result, you're robbed of your ability to learn what brings you pleasure and what is worth spending the extra money on.

What a pointless bit of research. Have we now solved so many of the world's important problems that the top of the list is now "make sure hipsters are drinking genuine cat's bum coffee."

If you know absolutely everything that is important to know then you're a terrible person for not sharing your insight into how to solve every world problem. For everyone else, doing research that you are able to do that adds to the sum of human knowledge is valuable. Just because you don't know how to cure cancer yet doesn't mean you shouldn't put effort into finding a malaria cure. Curing world hunger is something we'd all like to know how to do, but if you don't know how to do that, it doesn't mean that there is no value in studying computer science. The best thing to spend money learning about is something where you can hope to find some success in learning something useful. Building a machine that can detect organic compounds may sound useless to you because you don't care about coffee, but good research results may mean that same technology can be applied to better bomb detection or allow computers to do what animals already do and actually detect cancer better. Saying the research shouldn't have money spent on something you don't care about is saying that people shouldn't do what good they're able to actually able to do.

If everybody had the mentality that nothing should be done if it wasn't working toward the big problems, we'd loose all the little great things that contribute to a better world.

about a year ago
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US Lawmakers Want Sanctions On Any Country Taking In Snowden

youngatheart Seriously? What am I missing? (650 comments)

So we know that the NSA lied to Congress and about half of the representatives want to stop the spying that Snowden told us about. That would seem to make the implication that Congress has realized that the few people who actually seem to care are in the majority against it. So Snowden shouldn't be that big a fish. We have federal laws against illegal immigration but the feds have decided not to put any effort into enforcement since it isn't popular. We have federal laws against marajuana, but with states making it legal, the feds have decided not to put any effort into enforcement. Now we have one guy and enforcement isn't popular, but yet they're making a big deal of enforcement?

On the one hand, I kinda get it, you have to enforce the laws to keep your secrets safe. On the other hand they're doing that already and have made it impossible for Snowden to return to the US without likely imprisonment. Isn't that more than enough? I'm surprised they'd do something to harm international relations over it.

Is it possible that Snowden has more information they're afraid that he'll turn over to another government? If he does, what could it be to be worth this witchhunt? It reminds me of Assuange which became a much bigger witchhunt than it seemed to warrant. I'm beginning to think that there must be some really ugly skeletons in the closet if Congress is this worried about people spilling secrets.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Automatically Sanitize PDF Email Attachments?

youngatheart Re:Sumatra PDF (238 comments)

I'm with you in spirit but stuck in a situation where our single most important software vendor has incorporated interactive forms using Adobe PDF reader. Replacing it is so far beyond our budget that just discussing what it would take turns the discussion into a five year plan.

Doing our own software to replace it is even worse in terms of budgeting. If you'd like to make yourself a couple million dollars and a career for the next twenty years, you can go for it, but the initial investment requirements are going to be in the same range and it'll probably take a minimum of five years for you to get a new system past all the regulatory hurdles and any adoption.

If you do all that, drop me a line. We'll be looking for somebody new about that time.

For people stuck in reality: Our solution is to try to be very suspicious of PDFs that come into the system, but trust the ones already in there. It's not a great situation to be in but I hope this forum will give me some ideas on how we can better protect ourselves from the potential dangerous PDFs coming in.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Automatically Sanitize PDF Email Attachments?

youngatheart Re:Print to PDF (238 comments)

Good points. I rather like the idea of something that removes every PDF from the incoming email but sends a follow up message "Your recent email with the subject line 'blah blah blah' sent at 'sentdate' had an unsafe type of attachment. You can download a safe version with 'this link' or you can contact the administrator if you require the unsafe version."

I wonder if procmail could do that for you?

about a year and a half ago
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PCWorld Magazine Is No More

youngatheart Re:A Quibble (164 comments)

Really? Personal Computer means Windows only in the heads of Microsoft marketing drones. It wasn't that long ago that PC was synonymous with Home Computer which certainly would have included Apple computers.

about a year and a half ago
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The Pentagon's Seven Million Lines of Cobol

youngatheart Re:now there are multitude of pay levels. (345 comments)

I was thinking pretty much the same thing. The right approach for this is to figure out how to answer these questions:

  • Who gets paid?
  • When?
  • For what?
  • How should they be paid? (not how they are paid)
  • How do you maintain it?

The questions are simple. The process of answering them is hard. Building the software to handle the result is moderately complex but not nearly as hard as getting the answers.

The question of "how did the old software do it" should be irrevelant and it shouldn't matter that it was written in COBOL or how it worked. Fixing the software is the wrong approach and I suspect a doomed attempt from the beginning. They should have been working on how to build the right system instead.

about a year and a half ago
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The Pentagon's Seven Million Lines of Cobol

youngatheart Re:Let me have a go at it.... (345 comments)

Give me a billion dollars.

What, you want more? If you give me a billion dollars I will take it and make a very convinicing show of working hard to deliver whatever you want while I build up my "disappear and retire accounts" with only a small percentage of the money.

about a year and a half ago

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