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Comment Windows 10 needs a lot of changes first (Score 1) 495

As others have pointed out, Windows 10 is bundled with malware right from Microsoft, in the form of spyware and adware. Forced updates happening at inconvenient times can leave a win 10 almost useless, particular if what you are trying to do is CPU intensive. There is a lot of lost productivity around the way MS has forced updates, even when they don't break something important. I know people that just gave up on the personal win 10 laptops because they just couldn't use them when they wanted. Updates on Win 7 are not entirely painless but you can at least schedule them for a more convenient time.

My workplace is on Win 7 and I cannot see them changing to 10.

I'm writing this on my Linux desktop which does not come bundled with malware and where updates can be run without interfering with using the computer. Win 10 has providest the greatest boost to Linux adoption that I've even seen.

Comment First they try to kill it and now it saves them... (Score 1) 87

The music industry fought hard against streaming music services, claiming they would destroy the music industry, and what they tried to kill has actually saved them. This is just more evidence that the music industry does not understand their customers or their own industry. They blamed pirates for the falling profits when studies has shown casual pirates to be some of the biggest spending customers of legal music. Maybe the obvious point should have been that pirates do not like to wait for their music and would happily pay for service that gives them immediate access to the music they crave.

While streaming may have saved the music industry, it is also just one technology that illustrates how the world has moved on from the traditional music distribution methods. A artist can sell directly to their customers through streaming services, leaving the big labels with less control over the industry and providing content producers with much more freedom to profit from their work. There have been many stories pointing out how little artists have been paid by their labels which kept the bulk of the profits. Successful but broke artists can be a thing of the past.

Consumers win through easier access to music and by having more music to choose from.

Comment Follow the laws to avoid fines (Score 2) 160

Companies often try to use licenses and agreements to get around laws. It can be amusing when they find out that this doesn't actually work. The laws specifying the circumstance where a refund is required are very simple and not unreasonable. A customer that just changes their mind has no legal right to a refund. A product that does not live up to the claims there were made by the seller, is defective or not fit for purpose must be refunded. A truthful seller has nothing to fear.

The ACCC regularly goes after companies for breaches of Australian corporate law and $3M is not a big fine when you consider Steam refused a lot of refunds where it was legally required to give a refund. Only weeks ago a drug company was fined $6M over misleading claims. Individual offences can be up to $10M per breach.

In Australia it is actually an offence for seller to put up sign stating that no refunds are give under any circumstances.

When it comes to software being fit for purpose and living up to the original claims there are extra complications compared to a physical product. An update that changes functionality so that the original claims are not met or that makes the software no long fit for purpose could leave the buyer with a right for a refund. It might not be a complete refund, depending on the time it was in use and actual changes but it give sellers something to consider. Again, an honest and truthful seller that does not screw their customers has nothing to fear.

Comment HRD was once free (Score 2) 177

Ham Radio Deluxe is proprietary software but was originally free to use. That changed after a change of ownership. The free versions had no restrictions and worked exceptionally well with my radio gear. I have not used the new paid version of HRD because I don't like how this played out or the tactics of the new owner. I got my ham license 25 years ago and still have radios that require a license, although I don't really use them very much. Ham radio is not dead but there are many convenient methods of communication today that it is just one option of many.

Since Linux is my main OS now, I've use a some Linux based software with my radios but nothing as user friendly as the original HRD. That does not mean that there isn't good ham radio software available for Linux, just that it can take a bit more effort to get working and to use. One day I'll get my radio gear out again and take the time to get Linux setup with some of the good software available.

Comment Stronger protections needed (Score 4, Interesting) 63

Spyware and adware were once universally considered to be malware but there appears to be some exceptions now... Many ad supported mobile apps are known to leak personal data to Ad networks with no protections on how that data or sold. This should be considered spyware but many people are willing to accept it. While the subject of this article is a more extreme example of the spectrum of spyware, it isn't clear where people draw the line. Without strong legal protections, consumers are at the mercy of device manufacturers that are driven by profit, with little interest in looking after their customers privacy. Manufacturers might be embarrassed when the a caught out with poor security practises or when they are spying on users but that is a pretty weak form of protection.

A scary escalation is the move of this sort of software from the mobile device to traditional computing platforms (laptop and desktop). Windows 10 telemetry could, and should, be considered to be spyware. After MS started displaying ads it became adware as well.

When it is law enforcement or security agencies spying on the public there is much more of a reaction than when a company does it.

Comment OMG, Arresting people that break the law... (Score 2) 212

There are very few applications for a DDoS attack that could be considered legal. The FBI, and other law enforcement agencies, should be arresting those that break the law. Maybe that will leave them less time to spy on the rest of us...

There are more victims in a DDoS attack than the target. They can include:
* The people or organisations with infected devices that launch the attack that can have actual costs due to the use of their connections.
* Internet service providers.
* The rest of us that just want to be able to surf the net without reduced performance.
* Those that have a legitimate reason and right to access the target of the attack.

I can't see any reason to feel sympathetic towards the customers of DDoS for hire that get caught. Lock them up like any other criminal.

Comment McAffee was good but is now junk (Score 1) 45

Many years ago, McAfee was a good AV product but it has been junk for several years now. Unfortunately, it is getting tough to find a reliable AV that is suitable for computer literate customers. This story is not the only example of McAfee actually reducing the security of the machines it is installed on.

In the past, I encouraged people in a business environment to used the AV product that they preferred. That diversity can help to catch threats that a single product misses. Those with McAfee installed were the laptops that were most often infected by a virus and often the evidence of infection came from other computers with different AV products that prevented an infection. It was scary just how bad it was so I had to change the policy to ban it.

Unfortunately, it is tough to find a good AV product, that is reliable and does not cause more problems than an extensive infection. Too many false positives, huge drops in performance, interruption work of productive work with forced reboots and annoying popups are widespread. I used AVG for many years, including in a volume licensed business environment, until it became crapware as well... Now I rely on other security products and systems that a virus resistant.

Comment MS is completely wrong (Score 5, Insightful) 181

Telemetry should be able to be switched off entirely, on all Windows installs, so that our right to privacy in respected. Many of the apps that I use include telemetry but I only use those that provide an option to disable their telemetry, even though I will allow telemetry from some trusted apps. MS have repeated demonstrated that they cannot be trusted and it is scary that the released an entire OS that is actually spyware. In any case, it means that Windows 7 will be the last version I allow to be installed on any computer I own.

If Windows update doesn't work without telemetry, that is a demonstration of MS incompetence and a very bad design decision. Linux is my main OS and it sends no telemetry for updates, while still managing to install updates. Those Linux updates also cover every piece of software I have installed in that OS, not just OS updates.

Submission + - Google successfully uses machine learning to detect diabetic retinopathy (betanews.com)

BrianFagioli writes: Diabetic eye disease is caused by retinopathy. Affected diabetics can have small tears inside the eye, causing bleeding. Over time, they can lose vision, and ultimately, they can go blind. Luckily, Google has been trying to use machine learning to detect diabetic retinopathy. Guess what? The search giant has seen much success. Not only are the computers able to detect the disease at the same level as ophthalmologists, but Google is actually slightly better!

Submission + - Neuroscientists Say Simple Mathematical Logic Drives Complex Brain Computation (sci-news.com)

hackingbear writes: According to Dr. Joe Tsien, a neuroscientist at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, the brain’s basic computational algorithm is organized by power-of-two-based logic. He and his colleagues from US and China have documented the algorithm at work in seven different brain regions involved with those basics like food and fear in mice and hamsters. “Intelligence is really about dealing with uncertainty and infinite possibilities,” he said, “It appears to be enabled when a group of similar neurons form a variety of cliques to handle each basic like recognizing food, shelter, friends and foes. Groups of cliques then cluster into functional connectivity motifs (FCMs) to handle every possibility in each of these basics. The more complex the thought, the more cliques join in.”

Submission + - NASA X-Ray Tech Could Enable Superfast Communication In Deep Space (space.com)

An anonymous reader writes: New technology could use X-rays to transmit data at high rates over vast distances in outer space, as well as enable communications with hypersonic vehicles during re-entry, when radio communications are impossible, NASA scientists say. The technology would combine multiple NASA projects currently in progress to demonstrate the feasibility of X-ray communications from outside the International Space Station. The radio waves used by mobile phones, Wi-Fi and, of course, radios, are one kind of light. Other forms of light can carry data as well; for instance, fiber-optic telecommunications rely on pulses of visible and near-infrared light. The effort to use another type of light, X-rays, for communication started with research on NASA's proposed Black Hole Imager. That mission is designed to analyze the edges of the supermassive black holes that previous research suggested exist at the centers of most, if not all, large galaxies. One potential strategy to enable the Black Hole Imager was to develop a constellation of precisely aligned spacecraft to collect X-rays emitted from the edges of those black holes. Keith Gendreau, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, thought of developing X-ray emitters that these spacecraft could use as navigational beacons to make sure they stayed in position relative to one another. The system would keep them aligned down to a precision of just 1 micron, or about one-hundredth the average width of a human hair. Gendreau then reasoned that by modulating or varying the strength or frequency of these X-ray transmissions on and off many times per second, these navigational beacons could also serve as a communication system. Such X-ray communication, or XCOM, might, in theory, permit gigabit-per-second data rates throughout the solar system, he said. One advantage that XCOM has compared to laser communication in deep space is that X-rays have shorter wavelengths than the visible or infrared light typically used in laser communication. Moreover, X-rays can penetrate obstacles that impede radio communication.

Submission + - Morgan Stanley: Pixel Phone Will Generate Google Almost $4 Billion Next Year (9to5google.com)

An anonymous reader writes: With initial Pixel pre-orders exceeding expectations and promising activation numbers from Verizon, Google is on track to sell three million phones with revenues of $2 billion in 2016. The Morgan Stanley estimate comes as the Pixel reportedly captured 10% of the premium smartphone market in India. Unsurprisingly, the 128GB Pixel XL has the largest gross profit margin at 25%, while the cheapest 32GB Pixel is at 22%. Morgan Stanley also estimates that, compared to the iPhone, the Pixel will be half as profitable. Morgan Stanley expects Google to sell 5-6 million Pixel and Pixel XL devices in 2017 to the tune of $3.8 billion in revenue. Google is also expected to make money from increased usage of services like Android Pay and mobile search. Google’s big gains were possibly due in part to Samsung’s Note 7 debacle, with the company’s marketshare falling to 23%. Apple captured the number one position at 66%. Additionally, Google benefitted from running a number of promotions, including cashback and exchange programs. The company also heavily advertised in newspapers, with billboards, and for the first time displays in large retail stores.

Submission + - SQL Server on Linux (microsoft.com)

mj1ab writes: Earlier in the year Microsoft announced that the next version of SQL Server would run on Linux. The first CTP (Community Technology Preview) of SQL Server v.Next is now available: SQL Server v.Next—SQL Server on Linux. It seems to work as expected on a 64-bit Ubuntu 16.04 VM, but SQL Server Management Studio reports the OS as NT 6.2 (Windows Server 2012) and the data paths as C:\var\opt\mssql\data\. I guess it has a long way to go before the final release.

Submission + - EU's Law Enforcement Agency Closes 4,500 Websites Peddling Fake Brands (phys.org)

An anonymous reader writes: In a massive crackdown, police and law enforcement agencies across Europe have seized more than 4,500 website domains trading in counterfeit goods, often via social networks, officials said on Monday. The operation came as Europol, Europe's police agency, unveiled its newest campaign dubbed "Don't F***(AKE) Up" to stop scam websites selling fake brand names online. In the crackdown, agencies from 27 countries mostly in Europe but including from the US and Canada, joined forces to shut down over 4,500 websites. They were selling everything from "luxury goods, sportswear, spare parts, electronics, pharmaceuticals, toiletries and other fake products," Europol said in a statement, without saying how long the crackdown took. An annual operation run in collaboration with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security, there was "a significant increase in the number of seized domain names compared to last year," said Europol director Rob Wainwright. As part of the crackdown, Dutch anti-fraud police arrested 12 people across The Netherlands over the past two weeks as they searched homes and warehouses. Most of the raids were prompted by online sales of counterfeit goods on social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram. More than 3,500 items of clothing and fake luxury goods were seized in Holland, including shoes, bags and perfumes purporting to be such brands as Nike, Adidas, and Kenzo, with a market value of tens of thousands euros. Publishing a guide on how to spot fake websites and social media scams, Europol warned consumers had to be on their guard.

Submission + - EPA Increases Amount of Renewable Fuel To Be Blended Into Gasoline (arstechnica.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Last week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its final renewable fuel standards for 2017, requiring that fuel suppliers blend an additional 1.2 billion gallons of renewable fuel into U.S. gas and diesel from 2016 levels. The rule breaks down the requirements to include quotas for cellulosic biofuels, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and traditional renewable fuel. Reuters points out that the aggressive new biofuel standards will create a dilemma for an incoming Trump administration, given that his campaign courted both the gas and corn industries. While the EPA under the Obama administration has continually increased so-called renewable fuel standards (RFS), the standards were first adopted by a majority-Republican Congress in 2005 and then bolstered in 2007 with a requirement to incorporate 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel into the fuel supply by 2022, barring “a determination that implementation of the program is causing severe economic or environmental harm,” as the EPA writes. Some biofuels are controversial not just for oil and gas suppliers but for some wildlife advocates as well. Collin O'Mara, CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said in a statement that the corn ethanol industry that most stands to benefit from the EPA’s expansion of the renewable fuel standards “is responsible for the destruction of millions of acres of wildlife habitat and degradation of water quality.” Still, the EPA contends that biofuels made from corn and other regenerating plants offer reductions in overall fuel emissions, if the processes used to make and transport the fuels are included. “Advanced biofuels” will offer “50 percent lifecycle carbon emissions reductions,” and their share of the new standards will grow by 700 million gallons in 2017 from 2016 requirements, the EPA says. Cellulosic biofuel will be increased by 81 million gallons and biomass-based diesel will be increased by 100 million gallons. “Non-advanced or ‘conventional’ renewable fuel” will be increased to 19.28 billion gallons from 18.11 billion gallons in 2016. Conventional renewable fuel “typically refers to ethanol derived from corn starch and must meet a 20 percent lifecycle GHG [greenhouse gas] reduction threshold,” according to EPA guidelines. Other kinds of renewable fuels include sugarcane-based ethanol, cellulosic ethanol derived from the stalks, leaves, and cobs leftover from a corn harvest, and compressed natural gas gleaned from wastewater facilities.

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