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Click on the button below to subscribe and wait for a new Facebook message from the TC Messenger news bot. Any startups out there seeking to build a business by setting out to confuse as many users as possible with overly complex pricing structures, while tricking those who can’t afford the full-fat service into signing up for ridiculously over-priced rubbish and then making it really hard for them to opt out? Startups aren’t immune to dubious and irresponsible behaviour, of course — appropriating address book data without asking properly first, for instance, or playing fast and loose with TOS and scaring the bejesus out of users — but those that act like douches have to worry that their douchey behviour will cause them to (rightly) lose users. Carriers becoming ‘dumb pipes’ — or to put it slightly less pejoratively, a utility service, a la water, electricity and gas — seems all but inevitable (not that anyone is going to weep on their behalf). But this outcome is not exclusively the result of faster and more innovative startups. Having built businesses on restricting and locking in customers — to contracts, to irritating portals, to complex tariff structures, you name it — telcos clearly have trouble thinking outside their locked box approach. And while it’s fair to say that many established companies have trouble rekindling an entrepreneurial spirit — and let’s face it telcos have network infrastructure not software in their DNA — carriers could still have done more to dig themselves out of this innovation hole. Some carriers are attempting to get in on the over the top services action individually, or by banding together via collective initiatives such as Joyn. But setting aside their conservative, reactionary mindset and suspicion of new ideas — which already puts them at a disadvantage vs startups and app makers — a massive problem they face  in a pick ‘n’ mix world of opt in and out data services is a chronic lack of customer trust.
Telcos have blotted their own copybook by treating customers like cattle to be penned in and milked dry.
Before I go any further, it’s worth noting this is not, by any means, an isolated example — see the following forum posts for example (such as the one screengrabbed below) complaining of near identical issues with T-Mobile, dating back years.
1) A 70-year-old member of my family ordered a pay-as-you-go SIM from T-Mobile UK, with ?10 preloaded. 2) The SIM was left in its packet for three days until the smartphone (an iPhone) was given to her. 3) On checking the PAYG balance the morning after putting the SIM in the phone, the ?10 was found to have dropped to ?8.22 — despite no calls having been made or chargeable texts sent.
4) A T-Mobile customer service representative told us the horoscope service was a premium SMS service (each SMS cost 40p to receive). To my eye, it was pretty obvious that something dubious was going on — so at the same time as we tried to sort the issue out via T-Mobile’s customers services phone line I contacted the T-Mobile press office to ask how they could explain a customer being signed up to a premium service without their consent or knowledge? After several days investigating the issue, T-Mobile’s press office told me the 3030 service is actually a T-Mobile service, not a third party service at all. The company then claimed that the reason the PAYG SIM had been automatically signed up to receive SMS horoscopes at 40p a pop was because the associated phone number was an old number and the prior owner of it had signed up to the service.
As part of an Ofcom directive to ensure that the UK doesn’t run out of numbers, PAYG numbers are recycled. We have placed a block on [the customer’s] account to stop any further texts and we have credited her account to cover the charges incurred. Moreover, it seems rather — shall we say — suspicious that the horoscope service that was never signed up for by my family member (indeed, could not have been signed up for since the SIM was still in its packet when the service was activated) was for the correct star sign. We have training processes in place for all our customer service staff, to ensure they are aware of all details relating to the products and services we offer. The star sign being the same was a coincidence, and with the forum posts we can’t comment on specifics without investigating each case further. It is certainly possible that the prior owner of the phone number was also a pisces so it could be a coincidence.
But let’s be charitable and assume it was just coincidence in this case, and human errors in all the various forum complaints (some carrier led, some customer caused), part of the problem why carrier premium SMS services are so apparently sloppy is the lack of regulatory oversight to rein in these “errors”.
In the UK, an organisation called Phonepayplus regulates premium SMS services — but only third party premium SMS services.
T-Mobile did not provide me with information on how many premium SMS services it operates, despite my asking multiple times.


Perhaps carriers think they can get away with a few “human errors” in the premium SMS department because these services aren’t regulated. Or they would, if they hadn’t spent years destroying the trust of their users by treating them like numbers on a spreadsheet. There’s a lesson here, for any business — large or small. GNU patch is a program that replaces only parts of code with an updated version, without requiring the user to download the entire source code. The comic blurs the difference between text (in which letters and symbols represent discrete values, such as 65 being the number for the letter A in the ASCII encoding standard, and it's relatively easy for a program compiler to interpret combinations of these values as keywords and other programming constructs) and graphics (where the letters and symbols in the comic are actually represented by pattern of colored dots). The code appears to be written in Python, a programming language often referred to in xkcd. The title text also explains that patch used the content-aware inpainting to fill in all the wasted whitespace in the code. You can browse the comics from List of all comics or by navigating the category tree at Category:Comics. There are a lot of comics that don't have set-in-stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.
BuzzQuotes is an advanced image quotes search engine that allows users to view quotations in a gallery style. Carriers operate differently: their infrastructure has created captive markets, making it tough for customers to switch to a better alternative. And while the network operators are not about to lose their fiefdoms entirely, they are being pushed onto the back foot. To say so is to gloss over how badly carriers have adapted and evolved their business models — preferring, instead, to try to block upstart rivals in order to milk as much as they can from ailing cash cows, rather than accepting that the technology landscape is shifting — and moving on to pastures new. Why should anyone opt in to a new service from a company that’s been doing its best to screw its users for years? Carriers are not service businesses or entertainment businesses, they are tax collectors — putting up as many toll gates and penalty policed speed limits on your use of their roads as they can. On activating the SIM we noticed unsolicited horoscope text messages from a shortcode ‘3030’. Had there been a data breach, or were they in fact opting PAYG customers into paid services without their consent? In this instance, it appears that the premium text service attached to the number remained when the number was transferred to [the customer]. But it’s not an isolated error — judging by others complaining of this same problem with T-Mobile on various forums (and let’s not pretend, T-Mobile is the only offender here — I’ve found similar complaints on forums associated with other UK carriers). We continually look to review this process to make improvements, as well as address any specific issues as and when informed. If customers believe they have mistakenly signed up for the service, we’re happy to talk to them on a case-by-case basis.
But when you consider that part of the ordering process for the SIM involved my family member providing T-Mobile with her birth date it does seem rather less convincingly coincidental. It referred me to telecoms watchdog Ofcom when I asked if it had received complaints about T-Mobile’s 3030 service. But Ofcom doesn’t regulate this service either — having decided to remove ‘own-portal’ services (which a spokeswoman told me the premium SMSes would fall under) from the scope of its regulation in July 2012.
However it is possible to dig this information out of its website, by using — ironically — a third party  text service checker it hosts on the website (buried under multiple sub-menus). The listing of T-Mobile’s 3030 services ran to three pages — which I have composited into the below graphic. One of its features is the Patch tool, which allows the user to overwrite parts of the image, replacing them with a copy of another area of the same image.


Here, it appears the author was told to “patch” the code, but used Photoshop to do this instead of GNU patch, with devastating results. In most programming languages, whitespace is necessary to separate words, so this would combine words that shouldn’t be combined and create invalid code.
Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. To discover million image quotes, simply type your search terms into our powerful search box or browse our topics and the authors pages. Striped ShirtsPolishing Off the Week17 Ways to Wear Black Shortalls17 Ways to Wear One-Shoulder DressesLove this look?
The shift from circuit switched voice-plus-text services to all-IP mobile data has allowed Internet companies to come in and start disrupting their lucrative walled gardens. We were told we had opted in to receive the texts on March 6 — which was two days before the SIM was taken out of its packet and put in the phone. On pointing this out, the rep said T-Mobile would investigate the issue and call back the next morning. On calling T-Mobile again, a different spokesperson said we should text STOP to the number to stop the texts. When PAYG numbers are recycled, they are attached to new SIMs so no personal data is transferred.
T-Mobile had the data to calculate her star sign, as well as having her phone number and deductible PAYG balance — all the data it needed, in other words, to sign her up to a premium service and deduct money. What’s certain is that if carriers dedicated a little of the energy they plough into maintaining these anachronistic, valueless (to their customers, that is) premium SMS ‘services’ into creating genuinely useful services that customers want to use then they would have a better shot at competing with the startups leapfrogging their gates. It is often used for “patching up” photographs by overwriting scratches or other visible damage to the photo. Although the title text suggests that if you did this enough times the code would eventually compile, this would never happen. Since the code in the image is Python, the code will be messed up even more, because Python uses whitespace as a part of its programming syntax. Topics include motivational quotes, life quotes, love quotes, wisdom quotes, proverbs quotes, famous quotes, breakup quotes, random quotes, and more.
The traditional carrier revenue streams of voice and SMS are being eroded by more flexible and cheaper VoIP and over-the-top messaging alternatives, whether it’s Skype or Viber or Whatsapp or Line. According to a recent report by Strategy Analytics more than $3 billion in operator messaging revenue will be eradicated between 2012 and 2017 — thanks to the rise of OTT services. And that’s a pretty terrible position to be in when the walls of your citadel are under attack like never before. (Joyn us?
But T-Mobile’s horoscope service delivered premium SMS for the star sign that is associated with my family member’s birth date. Another of Photoshop’s features is “content-aware fill”, which could also be described as “content-aware inpainting”.
For example, statements are separated by new lines instead of by semicolons (;), and indentation is used instead of brackets to determine the scope of each section of code.
It works similarly to the Patch tool, but automatically generates a replacement texture from the area surrounding the deleted part instead of copying a user-specified area exactly.



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