Thursday, February 12, 2009

Gone Phising?

Clever Phising Scam?

I had a text earlier from a company claiming to be O2, it says,
Just to let you know, it's almost time to renew your contract. To hear your options please call free on 0800 902 0205

I immediately googled the number and found it on a website They've been quite clever with the website, linking to the main domain and using the O2 logo whilst saying that the page is under construction. But they don't forget to mention that if you want to upgrade call the number 0800 902 0205.

Googling led me to discover this page, a Digital Spy forum thread where it seems that the domain name isn't owned by O2, but in fact by a chap called Jeremy Gough. The Digital Spy forum users go on to contact O2's helpdesk who say that the site is not a fake.

Let me explain why they O2 it's not a fake.

How the industry works

There must be 30 million mobile phones in Britain now. If just half are on 12 or 18 month contracts (as opposed to pay as you go) then there could be as many as 10 million phones upgraded every year.

There are 5 major networks so, roughly speaking, they would have about 2 million phones to upgrade per year, per network. So, O2 could be upgrading as many as 10,000 users per working day.

It is simply not feasible for one company to upgrade that many phones per day without multiple warehouses and logistical-nightmare-stress-headaches. So they encourage other companies to do their distribution for them, by giving them cash-per-contact incentives.

I believe is one of those companies.

So the good customer service people at O2 are saying it's not a fake because they know that are convincing people to stay with O2 for another 18 months and O2 are reaping the benefit.

That said, I'm still not going to upgrade my phone with them.

Update: It seems that now redirects to the O2 upgrade page. I don't know if that's because O2 now own the site, or whether the owner has set up a redirector to make their page look more genuine. Interestingly, the O2 upgrade page doesn't feature the 0800 number they ask you to ring...

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Working with large data sets is hard

It seems that the most difficult problems in programming today are due to massive data sets and/or a relative lack of processing speed.

Memory is free so we've decided to store everything that we possibly can. And then we have problems analysing these massive data sets.

Google have attempted to solve the problem with their brilliant Map Reduce technique. This relies on having a number of cheap PCs on your network, and because of this, it scales well.

Anyone other than Google are a slave to the Big O.

If your algorithms aren't linear or nearly linear you're going to struggle when you want to run them over large data sets, and there's not a lot you can do about it other than throw processors at it.

Should you study Maths and Physics instead of Computer Science?

I completed my degree in Computer Science with Image and Multimedia in 2001. It seems that 2001 was quite a popular time for new computer science graduates.

However, it looks as though people are starting to move away from computer science degrees and I can only speculate that it's in favour of maths or physics instead.

Jobs requiring a good deal of maths knowledge are considered to be some of the best jobs that a human being can do.

So why do a computer science degree when you could get most coding jobs with a maths degree and have all these other options available as well?