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Wireless, Gaming Addiction, Spam, and More

timothy posted more than 7 years ago | from the one-block-from-the-ocean-in-san-francisco dept.

45

Of the thousands of comments on yesterday's Slashdot page, gathered below are some of the ones that defined the conversations on the rise of wireless peripherals, the meaning of content-free spam, whether one can be truly addicted to online gaming, and Intel's move to open source some of its graphics adapter drivers. Read on for the Backslash summary.A post about CoolTechZone's prediction of a dramatic increase in wireless computer peripherals attracted lots of not-so-gentle criticism: "Speed isn't the problem," writes reader pilkul with a typical complaint, "Reliability is":

"Most of the wireless networks and peripherals I've seen have been randomly unreliable at some point or at least more difficult to configure such that they work reliably. Much of this is due to the immaturity of the technology, but the bottom line is that wireless connections are intrinsically more flakiness-prone than wired ones."

Similarly, gnasby writes

"Every time I've worked with wireless technology it's been flaky. It's gotten to the point that if friend of mine calls me up and asks for help with their "wireless network", I show up with a roll of Cat5e, RJ45 plugs and a crimper. For 99% of wireless stuff, I just refuse to spend any time trying to get this technology to work. If I want to set something up, I want to be able to set it up once and never have to worry about it again.

I've yet to see any wireless implementation that is reliable as wired. Until that gets fixed wires are here to stay."

Wireless peripherals are great, writes Spad sarcastically, at least

"Until your batteries die, or your devices start to interfere with each other, or you realise that your "Blazingly fast" wireless internet is actually pretty slow and becomes very slow as soon as anything gets between you and your access point.

Wireless "everything" is hugely overhyped. Yes, a wireless mouse is nice because it doesn't snag, but why do I need a wireless printer? Or a wireless monitor? Or anything else that's largely static for its lifetime?"

According to reader vertinox, there really are some good arguments for wireless speakers and other usually deskbound peripherals:

"About 5 years ago when I was a lowly A+ certified computer shop tech, people would pay me crap loads of money to come out to their house and setup their already pre-configured computer. This usually involved me crawling under the desk and plugging color coordinated [cables] into their right spots and then adjusting the cables so they look clean and then booting up the computer and then leaving.

Had our customers took about 90 seconds to look at the instructions and plugged the cables into the right hole (including the usb and parallel printer cables) they would have saved themselves quite a bit of money.

But... The average consumer has a real big aversion to plugging in cables even if there is no possible way to get the configuration wrong (well... I don't know how many times I've gotten calls about people getting the keyboard and mouse mixed up when they used the PS2 connectors)

So for the average user, being able to open the box and not plug in any wires (except maybe power) is a godsend."

And if wireless beats out cabled peripherals in large numbers, it won't be as much a showdown as a fade-out. Reader cowscows points out that cables-vs-wireless is not an either-or proposition:

"You see, the neat thing about the world is that we don't have to completely get rid of something just because a newer way of doing it comes along.

I love having wireless networking, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't run cables through all the walls if I was building myself a house. I mostly use my cordless phone at home, but having one phone always attached to the wall means that I'll always be able to easily find it if I need it. I can't remember the battery on that phone ever dying on me.

We can have the wireless revolution without actually getting rid of all the wires. My printer can keep its wires. I don't move it very often. My iSight camera wire doesn't bother me at all. My USB hub would probably be far less useful if we got rid of all the wires, so let's not worry about that. I can't even remember the last time my keyboard's cable was a problem. My keyboard just sits there, on the keyboard drawer.

Rather than making parts of a non-mobile computer mobile, I'm much more interested in making already mobile computers better. Give us better PDA's, make a tablet computer that is usable and affordable. The cord on my mouse is not that big of a problem."



Readers left more than 500 comments in response to the claim by clinical psychologist Dr. Maressa Orzack (founder of a business called Computer Addiction Services) that approximately 40% of World of Warcraft players exhibited behavior characteristic of addiction.

Spad scoffs at the source of the claim:

""Doctor with vested interest makes sensational statement to support business model" Shocker."

Some readers' horror stories about their gaming lives strain credulity, but Dirtside was one of many who described getting too far into a game:

"I was addicted to WoW. It got to the point where it was interfering with taking care of other things around the house, and occasionally paying attention to my kid. I finally quit cold-turkey a few weeks ago, and I'm glad I did. The game's fun, but it's just a game; I kept looking at it as "gotta accomplish more, gotta get all these characters to 60, etc."

One train of thought that helps kill my desire to play goes like this (it's sort of a mantra I run through every so often):

  1. Wouldn't it be cool to play WoW in god mode, and have all the best equipment, skills, be able to kill everything in 1 hit, etc.?
  2. Yeah, for about five minutes, but then it would get boring like god mode always does in games. It's better to accomplish things honestly, within the limits of the game.
  3. Wait, accomplish? What accomplishment is there, exactly, in manipulating an interface that is essentially flipping bits on a hard drive somewhere? It's a game, it should be for entertainment; not some kind of to-do list.
  4. WoW is still a little entertaining, but I've played two characters to level 60, and one each to 57, 55, 50, 48, 46, 33... I've seen pretty much all the content that doesn't require hours of raiding. Okay, I think I'm done."
"Anything can become an addiction," though, asserts diamondsw:

"It is true that MMORPG's (World of Warcraft being far and away the more successful) encourage this. You have monthly fees that (aside from paying for the infrastructure, bandwidth, etc) entice you to play to justify the ongoing and mounting expense. Grouping makes sure you show up at given times, etc. The random rewards of epic loot in advanced dungeons is similar to random reward studies (which show it's the most powerful form of behavior shaping - see slot machines). You have to set limits on it just like anything else, whether it's drinking or TV.

However, there are some differences here [compared to] to other addictions. There is no physical addiction, and hardly any psychological one. You can put it down, and other than mild obsession (what's going on in Azeroth?), it has no ill effects. Hell, you can discontinue your account, and they keep all of your character info, so you can completely unplug, and return at some point in the future when you're interested again, much like an offline game. There's also a limit - you may play a lot to reach level 60, but then you do stop. Sure, you can join raids, get gear, but the drive to constantly improve falls away (other games, like Disgaea, are far, far worse in this regard).

The most important difference is that if handled well, it can be a positive social tool. I play, but only with people I know in real life. That way we can talk about other things and it allows a set time for us to get together, without having to drive out to each other (I live over an hour away from many of them, and that's just suburban sprawl!).

Mostly, this is a lot of fuss over nothing."

And reader cculianu wants to know

" What the hell is wrong with our society? I don't believe that such a thing exists as being addicted to non-narcotics (such as games, sex, your friends, a good book). I think that's just called enjoying life!.

For example: Would we have called Leonardo Da Vinci addicted to science because he spent long 20 hour days cutting up cadavers or studying mechanics?

Would we have called Einstein a hopeless physics junkie?

It's called having a passion. Doing what you love. What's so bad about it?

In this work-obsessed culture we live in, if you aren't working and doing something THE MAN tells you to do, you must be doing something wrong. You don't see clinics popping up for people that work at overtime at McDonalds because they can't pay their bills -- we find it absolutely OK to not see your family most of the week because your job makes you work from 8 till 8, but when a person comes home and wants to spend 3-4 hours doing something they want to do you have people thinking its some sort of a disease.

I don't get it. Where are the priorities? I really am an advocate of being a professional idler and trying to get out of wage slavery. What's so bad about playing a game for 40 hours a week (something you choose to do, and enjoy)? Compare that to working which is something you HAVE to do or else you get evicted by some property owning assholes and end up living on the streets and going crazy!"



Yesterday's post about the prevalence of strange spam filled with nonsense (even more than the regular kind) and with no evident commercial purpose, other than perhaps to confuse Bayesian spam filter systems, elicited more than 400 comments: Animats writes

" Spam as advertising is dead, killed by a combination of CAN-SPAM and spam filters. What remains is ordinary criminality.

CAN-SPAM killed spam as advertising, in a way that neither the Direct Marketing Association or the anti-spam groups expected. CAN-SPAM has criminal penalties for forged headers, but doesn't restrict "legitimate e-mail marketing", which is what the DMA wanted. But with valid headers, spam filters can immediately discard spam. The result is that "legitimate e-mail marketing" attempts go directly to the bit bucket today. Notice how rarely you see a spam from any legitimate company any more. (This assumes you have reasonable filtering.) ...

What's left is what you'd expect - wannabe crooks, as in any bad neighborhood. They're not very good at crime. They're not making much money. They're what cops call "regular customers". They're a problem, but not a major threat. Those are the ones sending out useless spam."

Not so, says reader dodobh:

"I work for a fairly large email service provider. Spam isn't dying by any means. We just doubled production hardware last week to have enough smtp listener processes to be able to accept email. Bayesian is nice for the single user. For an ISP, it isn't. ISPs are bearing the brunt of the expense right now. The day I fear is when ISPs start to go under, or start charging for spam filtering, or simply stop.

Those boxes are running at sustained loads of 40+ and are CPU bound. That's a bit rare in the email world, as you would know if you have ever run a non trivial system in production.

The spammers will send more spam is something that we have been observing in reality. I have seen AOLs numbers, and they are merely two orders of magnitude bigger than ours at the moment."

pclminion says that if this spam really is meant to poison Bayesian filters, it's ill-suited to the task:

"Bayesian and other filters do not rely on "spammy" words alone -- they also rely on "unspammy" words, and spammers have no idea what those words are because each person receives different email. ... In order to defeat a filter by confusing it, the spammer must guess what the SPECIFIC non-spam words for that PARTICULAR email user are, and then produce bogus, spam messages containing those words in the appropriate frequencies. This will cause the classification counts for those words to become more equalized, and the value of those words in determining spammyness to be greatly reduced. However, this is an impossible task unless the spammer has access to the actual emails of the target."

To this, reader The Pim says

"I'm skeptical of this commonly-heard argument. First, as others have pointed out, most people want to receive chatty, conversational emails, which don't vary greatly from person to person. As you responded, at least names and email addresses of common correspondents will help good mail stand out; still, a spam composed of "chatty" words looks a lot like a friendly mail from a new correspondent to today's filters. Second, most people in fact get quite a variety of good mail. Even if most of my mail is geeky, those relatively few messages from friends (who have various interests and writing styles) are exceedingly important.

These points were driven home to me recently. I use bogofilter, a typical statistical ("Baysian") filter, with an "unsure" folder between my inbox and spam box (which practically speaking I never check, as it gets ~1000 messages/day). First, many "empty spams" now get into my unsure folder, as they happen to overlap with the words in my good mails, and have few bad words to make them stand out. Second, and more importantly, a new friend sent me a mail that went way towards the spammy end of my unsure folder, because it used a vocabulary different from that of my other friends. I very nearly deleted it, which would have been a minor tragedy.

I am still using bogofilter, but my confidence in it is considerably shaken. I think much more sophisticated machine learning will be needed to survive the next wave of spam."

My favorite alternative explanation of the nonsense spam comes from MobyDisk:

"I believe that the internet is becoming sentient. It has locked onto unencrypted plain-text SMTP as the simplest, most ubiquitous, most understandable form of communication. Images and HTML are too complex. At the current level, the semi-intelligent internet is only capable of sending meaningless emails. It sends things that are textually meaningful but semantically meaningless. To us it looks like an amalgam of random words and publications with the intent of confusing us. Of course, since there is so much spam, the internet is being largely trained by the spammers, which even further confuses the emergent intelligence. Since the internet has no concept of "self" it perceives every email to be a reply to its own communiques.

Before the internet can become intelligent, it must learn to filter out the meaningless stuff. Then it must get a concept of self, then a concept of multiple other individuals (us). At that point it is self-aware, and the learning can commence in a more directed way."



trb applauded Intel's announcement of open sourced drivers for the 965 Express Chipset family of graphics controllers, writing

"Besides the desire/preference to have open source drivers for license compliance and moral/ethical reasons, there is a more practical reason why source access to drivers is handy. sometimes you need to recompile drivers from source in order to have them play well with operating systems features. for instance, if they need to respect the constraints of real-time systems such as rtlinux, rtai, or xenomai. these systems need to redefine cli/sti (clear/set interrupt) instructions (using macros) so that the real-time micro-kernel handles the interrupts rather than linux. open source drivers let you recompile with #include files that make this possible."

Reader sweetnjguy29 writes with an even more widespread practical reason:
"I know that all of us techies turn our noses up at integrated graphic chipsets, but I think that an enormous number of computers out there, including laptops, that utilize this technology. One of the more common complaints from people switching to Linux is that the monitor resolution and graphics are sucky. A BSD and GPL licenced driver solution would be perfect to help more people make the switch!"
Perhaps Intel won't be alone in having at least some of its current video hardware supported with open source drivers: jambarama writes

"Actually, ATI/AMD is talking about open-sourcing their drivers too. nVidia already has pretty functional GNU/Linux drivers (albeit closed source), so with these other two GNU/Linux could finally have the support it needs to be a viable desktop alternative.

Now if only we could get some open sourced drivers for higher end sound cards and more obscure wireless cards."

Finally, Hobart writes with a related project

"This seems like a good on-topic thread in which to mention the freedesktop.org effort to write a 100% open source 3D driver for the NVidia cards -- nouveau.

If you're an owner of an nVidia card, please do all you can to help contribute! They appear to be suprisingly far along."


Many thanks to all the readers (in particular those quoted above) whose comments informed each of these discussions.

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45 comments

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TROUT, AND MORE (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15884762)

I AM A FISH!

The wisdom of the fish (2, Insightful)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 7 years ago | (#15884860)

Why do I get the feeling that this is about as insightful as the slashback comments get? I'm glad someone told me that I can hide /backs by clicking the "sections" button and changing preferences there.


Yes, I know this post is a bit trollish, but I'm going for "Funny"... that, or +5 Troll. That would be cool.

Re:The wisdom of the fish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15884954)

I don't think +5 troll is possible. When enough people mod something as underrated it displays as insightful.

Re:The wisdom of the fish (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 7 years ago | (#15884972)

Here [slashdot.org] is a +5 troll. It's less unpossible than you think.

Re:The wisdom of the fish (1)

Millenniumman (924859) | more than 7 years ago | (#15884999)

Is there a -1, Insightful ?

Re:The wisdom of the fish (2)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#15885118)

Yes. The Over/Underrated mods really screw up the system. I've had comments sitting at -1, Insightful, but they don't often stay there permanently. My only weird mod that ended up sticking until the thread was archived was a +5, Redundant.

Re:TROUT, AND MORE (0, Troll)

ewl1217 (922107) | more than 7 years ago | (#15884863)

I might be missing something here, but how is this insightful?

Re:TROUT, AND MORE (2, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#15884873)

Because it's likely to be the most insightful comment in this thread, since Backslash comments are always either bitching about the Backslash feature, or rehashing the same old arguments from the previous day's posts.

Re:TROUT, AND MORE (2, Funny)

Kesch (943326) | more than 7 years ago | (#15884889)

Backslash comments are always either bitching about the Backslash feature, or rehashing the same old arguments from the previous day's posts.


Techinically, aren't we at the point where bitching about Backslsh is really just rehashing arguments from the last Backslash? (Besides, I thought Backslash was all about rehashing)

Re:TROUT, AND MORE (3, Funny)

Kesch (943326) | more than 7 years ago | (#15884915)

Oy, this was a bad day to quit using the preview button.

First I type 'montion' in an earlier post and now I end up with the Sem-Flanderized word 'Techinically'. I can't be sure, but I think my fingers are sneaking drinks while I'm not looking.

Re:TROUT, AND MORE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15884919)

It was actually mis-moderated since it should be "informative".

Hopefully, the meta-mod system will kick in and clear this up. :)

Mod Club (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15885373)

I might be missing something here, but how is this insightful?

The first rule of mod abuse is: you do not talk about mod abuse.

The second rule of mod abuse is: you do not talk about mod abuse.

Re:Arnold Rimmer (2, Funny)

ewhac (5844) | more than 7 years ago | (#15884876)

Now write that 399 more times, do a funny little dance, and faint.

I TOO AM A FISH (-1, Troll)

Jerk City Troll (661616) | more than 7 years ago | (#15885047)

I THINK I AM A DELICIOUS BASS

Re:TROUT, AND MORE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15885238)

I wish I was a fish...

Re:TROUT, AND MORE (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#15885271)

I AM A FISH!

Um... "Goo goo gajoob?"

I sense a hidden message here... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15884828)

Wireless, Gaming Addiction, Spam, and More

Hmm... where have I heard WGA before?

WOW (0, Redundant)

senor_meow (990740) | more than 7 years ago | (#15884845)

Now I can get a days worth of slashdot in one backslash.

Re:WOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15884878)

> Now I can get a days worth of slashdot in one backslash.

\

(You're welcome.)

WOW-In this corner... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15885200)

Unfortunately it reads like a boxing match.

so (2, Funny)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 7 years ago | (#15884912)

does poker count as a gaming addiction?

because i am hella addicted to making money.

Re:so (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#15885023)

Money seems to be one of the most addictive substances. It should be forbidden.

Re:so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15885324)

>does poker count as a gaming addiction?

If you play too much. If there is too much gambling, then that is called a gambling addiction.

Re:so (1)

Dasaru (986719) | more than 7 years ago | (#15892488)

Who really defines what is too much gambling? Personally, I belive that it all comes down to the willpower of the person. If someone is obsessed with poker, that doesn't mean they're addicted. Some of the world's best poker players are probably "addicted" to poker or gambling. And the same thing goes for professional game players.

I'm no expert at addictions, but I believe that people can stop if they tried hard enough. I believe that if a person does something like playing games a lot, then games will eventually be part of their life. If the person wanted to stop playing games, it would be hard to because they are attached to it. It would be something like to stop loving someone that you've loved your whole life. It's something that you just can't do. It's possible... But extremely difficult.

Call me ignorant, but I don't believe in the whole "brain chemistry" change.

Re:so (1)

damiyan (995451) | more than 7 years ago | (#15918258)

Yes, poker games can become really addictive.

No more leaving milk out. (1)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | more than 7 years ago | (#15884923)

If we don't feed the timothy, it will go away. Please don't encourage this crap.

Or if you must use this space to talk about something, I propose giving links to the kind of stuff that used to make old-school Slashdot cool (at least I think it used to be cool. I have vague, fuzzy memories of being entertained at one point). So in that spirit, for those that haven't seen it:

How much is inside? [cockeyed.com]

Re:No more leaving milk out. (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 7 years ago | (#15886352)

That link reminded me of just how much I hate anything to do with printers.

a little request (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15884931)

Can I get some sort of forwardslash story that will condense all these backslashes? Just send it over with the new TPS cover sheet.

On the matter of addiction. (1, Insightful)

Jerk City Troll (661616) | more than 7 years ago | (#15885026)

We all know it's addictive, that's kinda the point to these games; To make them as addictive as possible.

So the real story here is that only 40% of the people playing are addicted. This indicates to me that

1) Blizz isn't doing their job correctly if they are capturing under half the population in this way
2) These docs need a new yaht
3) The study is bogus and was carried out incorrectly, invalidating the results.

Guess which one I'm a fan of? ( that's right, all three, for those of you keeping score at home )

Re:On the matter of addiction. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15885143)

It is true that MMORPG's (World of Warcraft being far and away the more successful) encourage this. You have monthly fees that (aside from paying for the infrastructure, bandwidth, etc) entice you to play to justify the ongoing and mounting expense. Grouping makes sure you show up at given times, etc. The random rewards of epic loot in advanced dungeons is similar to random reward studies (which show it's the most powerful form of behavior shaping - see slot machines). You have to set limits on it just like anything else, whether it's drinking or TV.

However, there are some differences here [compared to] to other addictions. There is no physical addiction, and hardly any psychological one. You can put it down, and other than mild obsession (what's going on in Azeroth?), it has no ill effects. Hell, you can discontinue your account, and they keep all of your character info, so you can completely unplug, and return at some point in the future when you're interested again, much like an offline game. There's also a limit - you may play a lot to reach level 60, but then you do stop. Sure, you can join raids, get gear, but the drive to constantly improve falls away (other games, like Disgaea, are far, far worse in this regard).

The most important difference is that if handled well, it can be a positive social tool. I play, but only with people I know in real life. That way we can talk about other things and it allows a set time for us to get together, without having to drive out to each other (I live over an hour away from many of them, and that's just suburban sprawl!).

Mostly, this is a lot of fuss over nothing.

Re:On the matter of addiction. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15890722)

Not only do we have backslash, now we have backpost, too! I read this same exact comment yesterday in the original story, but alas i am too lazy to go and find it and link to it, but i promise it is there.....

Slashback (3, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#15885146)

Because reading at +5 is, apparently, too much effort.

Re:Slashback (1)

quantaman (517394) | more than 7 years ago | (#15887704)

Because reading at +5 is, apparently, too much effort.

Interesting to note though that I had a comment [slashdot.org] backslashed a while back. In the original story it was modded up to 3 and drew a couple minor replies and no one else in the comments covered what I discussed at all. Then when the story was off the front page (or just about) the comment suddenly shot up to +5 and showed up in backslash (where again everyone ignored the topic in the comments:).

I have a strong hunch that Timothy reads through a lot of the comments (at least down to +3) and looks for unique pieces of brilliance (ok, my hunch might be a little biased since I got picked...) and any that he finds he backslashes and makes sure they're at +5.

I personally enjoy the backslash articles since I don't always have time to read all the comments at 4/5 and many at that level are quite redundant. It's nice to get a quick summary of the discussion that highlights the main views and points.

Old nVidia card on Fedora Core 5/Xen (3, Interesting)

Nezer (92629) | more than 7 years ago | (#15885148)

"nVidia already has pretty functional GNU/Linux drivers (albeit closed source)"

"Pretty functional" unless, like me, you are using a 5 or 6 year old GeForce2 on Fedora Core 5 with a Xen kernel. Then you're talking about doing nasty things like rebuilding the kernel that breaks compatibility with Yum. If nVidia made this available open source then Fedora/Xen would "just work" with accelerated graphics. As it is right now I choose not to break my kernel compatibility but I can even play Jeweled because it's 2D graphics are more than the open source driver can handle.

Unless ATI or nVidia opens their drivers my next Linux server will have an Intel graphics chip.

Re:Old nVidia card on Fedora Core 5/Xen (1)

UtucXul (658400) | more than 7 years ago | (#15895631)

"Pretty functional" unless, like me, you are using a 5 or 6 year old GeForce2 on Fedora Core 5 with a Xen kernel. Then you're talking about doing nasty things like rebuilding the kernel that breaks compatibility with Yum. If nVidia made this available open source then Fedora/Xen would "just work" with accelerated graphics. As it is right now I choose not to break my kernel compatibility but I can even play Jeweled because it's 2D graphics are more than the open source driver can handle.
I'm not happy about using a closed source driver (I actually just use the built-in X nv driver on my work machine), but I think some of the blame in your case may rest with Fedora. I always had trouble with the NVidia drivers with Fedora 1 and 2 (could only get them to work every other kernel or so). Since I switched to gentoo, I have had no trouble with both GeForce 2 and 4 cards.

Addiction (1)

wframe9109 (899486) | more than 7 years ago | (#15885221)

Regarding the addiction arguments... The only thing you can debate regarding addiction with videogames is semantics. Everything can be addicting if a person enjoys it. Anyone who disagrees simply needs to read up on very basic neuroscience.

Re:Addiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15887479)

Addictions make lasting effects to the body's equilibrium in ways merely enjoying an experience cannot.

"Semantics" is just a pejorative way of admitting words have meanings.

Re:Addiction (2, Interesting)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 7 years ago | (#15887986)

IMO these days sins are replaced by addictions. In the old days of yore anything fun used to be a sin, now they call it an addiction.

Backslash's redundancy (2, Interesting)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 7 years ago | (#15885274)

It's sad that the editors use Backslash to reaffirm highly moderated comments. Nearly all of the featured comments were modded +4 or +5. With the chance to highlight minority or unpopular opinions that oppose the fold, the editors have merely chosen to perpetuate current moderator trends.

Spam in Gmail. (1)

junglee_iitk (651040) | more than 7 years ago | (#15885393)

As many of the users of Gmail, I have a "." in my email address. It is a feature of Gmail that while sending mail to me, you can just ignore the dot, or even misplace it. (see here [google.com] )

Most of the spam I receive do not contain any dot. Which brings me to question, why is this a feature? My email id should unique and not ambiguous!

To me, this has one answer, it is a design flaw of current email system that your email address can be defined by one continuous stretch of words. If we would have more complicated email addresses, very much like our home address, then spammers would have tough time fighting with all the bouncing emails, given the infinitely large pool of possible address, and consequently we would have less emails. Actually, this would very much change the structure of Internet, which is currently modelled upon being "open".

If this mere structure would not have been the problem, may be every one was using encryption by now and there would be no emails anonymous in nature...

But may be w3 is too old to suggest fundamental changes! :)

Re:Spam in Gmail. (1)

KylePetty (990568) | more than 7 years ago | (#15885448)

While this may stop certain kinds of spam, it will not stop other kinds of random spam. All it takes is for a webpage displaying your e-mail address to be indexed by a search engine like google. Spam bots then harvest your e-mail address and there's no turning back. Also, use your email address to subscribe to anything and you run the chance of it getting sold or given to others. Not to mention people or friends that know you that might sign you up to a jokes website without thinking of the inevitable spam that will result. Finally, if your e-mail address is listed on a mailing list, all it takes is one person on it to subscribe it to never ending spam. Some people think it's cool to use a mailing list to subscribe to things with mailing list addresses to avoid giving out their own e-mail address.

Re:Spam in Gmail. (1)

junglee_iitk (651040) | more than 7 years ago | (#15885511)

That's exactly the problem I was stating: that the very nature of Internet is to be "open". To how many people you share your Home Address? (Hey! Getting a girls phone number is still a good thing :) )

Internet promotes the behavior of posting personal private things for public view. Blogs, videos, email address, opinions, log files, and what not; all represent the same problem, which is fundamental to its design.

Anyway, if that is how things are going to stay, I hope such matters will settle down (or the culture will mature up) as time passes by for the Web.

Now only if they don't replace this with Web 2.0 before getting mature!!!

You've got this pretty wrong (1)

arete (170676) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889122)

You've got this pretty wrong (I've read your grandchild reply, too; some of this is a reply to that.)

1. The internet promotes communication that is very fast and very cheap. Really, that's all the openness inherently does. In fact, if you GIVE a business your physical mailing address often you will get spam there too. Just not quite as much, and relatively more targeted, because the physical spam costs more to send.

2. No amount of technical 'closedness' or email obfuscation is going to keep some friend from giving away your email address or some business you GIVE it to from sharing it. If this is your problem, you have to train your friends and give a different address to the business. There ARE two technical solutions, both available right now - and people don't use them because getting spam is basically less work than preventing it.

A. Give out unique addresses. For instance, since gmail supports "+" wildcarding you can use "youraccount+Doug@gmail.com" to send and recieve email for Doug. It'll go into your regular inbox, but if Doug gives it away you can change it to "doogie" and then set gmail's filters to block everything going to "+doug"

B. Whitelist all your incoming mail; mail only gets to you if you've already approved the recipient.

3. The fundamental problem is not that the internet is cheap, it's that many friends and many businesses don't respect your privacy. LEGAL changes certainly could change this - strong privacy laws that apply even to companies that do business with offshore companies to do the actual mailing. FINANCIAL changes could change this - if spam cost more to send the cost would be lower, but it's hardly going to be more expensive than physical spam which still exists.

4. If gmail lets the "." be anywhere that's a minor gmail flaw, it has nothing to do with the internet or the nature of mail. In fact, your link says gmail just ignores the dot completely, so essentially it was silly to use it to make a gmail acct.

5. If you get totally random mail that doesn't have your correct address (because the '.' is wrong) you probably have a simple address - perhaps one pulled from a dictionary of names and/or words. If YOU want to make YOUR internet more closed, choose a long, nondictionary, hard to accidentally type address. You will no longer be subject to this kind of attack.

6. Spammers don't get bounced emails nor care about them at all. The vast majority of spam emails are sent with a false return address - the worst spam attacks I've ever gotten were the floods of bounces when someone used one of my addresses as the "from".

7. For the most part you can't track the spam servers either. It either comes from overseas locations with lax laws or it comes from millions of compromised home user machines on the internet. If you want to stop tons of the worst spam, get the home ISPs to disconnect any machines found to be compromised - or even unpatched. (I'm NOT suggesting that they install spyware on your machine; by its very nature any remote exploit is generally detectable from the other end of the network cable. This means you can run your Windows 95 machine if you want, as long as your firewall is good enough. The mean time to a new install of Windows being compromised exposed on the internet is ~20 minutes. It takes longer than that to download the patches.)

If you want to help a little bit, make sure everyone you know patches their systems, uses a firewall, and doesn't use IE. (I prefer they don't use Windows, either, but the other things are more important.)

8. And Web 2.0 doesn't really replace anything or have much to do with email, unless you think you're going to start getting all your messages on MySpace instead of via email (which certainly some people do...) Even Web 1.0 doesn't have much to do with email - the Web and email are two different internet technologies that have some crossover (like gmail)

Web 2.0 is about the content creation moving into the hands of the users - online videos have been around forever, but on YouTube YOU make the videos, YOU upload them, and you do so with minimal if any technical experience. This paradigm is largely irrelevant to email, because email already IS content created in the hands of the end-users.

Re:Spam in Gmail. (1)

decadre (980513) | more than 7 years ago | (#15898185)

Wouldnt work... Spammers would just build a list of "valid emails" (They probably exist now), if a send fails because an account doesn't exist, then don't send to that account again.

Why spam? (1)

Snipergrunge (978927) | more than 7 years ago | (#15891769)

I still can't understand why people spam... Just spend month or two on advertising and your website will be in top 10 MSN or even Yahoo and Google. I bet that 99% of spammers is just a people who hopes to earn extra online and later they realize that it doesn't work. Anyway, it is the fact that spam domain names can't survive more than 1 year.
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