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The Sony Pictures Hack Was Even Worse Than Everyone Thought

8086 Re:Over what time interval? (528 comments)

Even 40 gigs is not small for that matter. The hackers could've attacked multiple machines in multiple locations, and used a botnet/"cloud".

about 2 months ago

Gangnam Style Surpasses YouTube's 32-bit View Counter

8086 Re:Rick-Roll (164 comments)

Actually, if you combine all different versions it beats even the 64bit integer. Techsmartly made a fancy pivot chart of it a while back: http://techsmartly.net/freePS3...

Well played, sir. Well played

about 2 months ago

Indian Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Snub Android One Phones

8086 A few caveats (53 comments)

Some factors to consider:

1. The Android Ones are a hard sell in India and nobody cares about Stock vs Proprietary Android. The Xiaomi Redmi 1S which sells for less than these phones and has much better specs is a huge hit in India. I bought one about a week ago for ~Rs. 6000 ($100) in a flash sale, and its already out of stock at all major online retailers. To top that, there's news of an even cheaper (~Rs. 4000) Xiaomi phone with a 4G modem coming soon. I did look at the Android One phones when I was shopping, but ended up getting the Xiaomi because of the better build quality and necessary luxuries like a scratchproof screen and non-shitty camera which the Android Ones lack. Also, there are better featured phones (with older Android in some cases) available in the same price bracket as the Android Ones from these same manufacturers. My servant bought a 6 inch Micromax phablet a month ago for ~Rs. 7000. (Yes, I'm not one of the aforementioned 'class-conscious' assholes, although they do exist). Btw, CyanogenMod works well on the Xiaomi and I now have a fully functional portable ScummVM gaming console - something that my iDevices and Samsung Androids from the past 4 years haven't been able to do without bricking/breaking warranty.

2. Brick-and-mortar mobile stores are a lot less regulated and organized, and come in way more shapes and sizes than the article makes them out to be. For instance, a lot of "mom-and-pop" phone shops in India will gladly sell you pirated software and content, non-licensed Chinese parts, and no-name Chinese phones. If you're unlucky, they'll even sell you refurbished items as new. These are highly independent wheeler dealers who do what it takes to make a profit. The real effect of this stocking ban will be that only big-name mobile shops such as those run by the major cellular carriers or the equivalents of Best Buy here in India will not stock the Android Ones, but the countless little shops will still do it.

3. Online shopping has reached critical mass only just now, i.e. the Diwali 2014 season. The technology and players have been around for a long time - I made my first online purchase here in 2000, but India-friendly options such as cash-on-delivery and zero-fee cash transfers have only recently come up. Trust is a huge issue here when not buying face-to-face from a person, because we don't have faith in the due process getting our money back if something goes wrong. If you buy face-to-face, you can at least go and rough up the guy who sold you the defective item, or so the argument went. But, times are changing, and people don't want to pay the "brick-and-mortar tax" anymore. Big retail in India is shit-scared, and there's possibly even corporate psychological warfare going on against e-commerce:
Story 1 Story 2.

about 2 months ago

The Daily Harassment of Women In the Game Industry

8086 Women in competitive gaming (962 comments)

Even outside of the extreme examples, women have a tough time in the competitive gaming scene and are immediately written off when they show the slightest bit of incompetence. For example, take Pyrion flax and Sheever from the Dota 2 competitive scene. Pyrion is arguably worse than Sheever (he himself would probably admit that), but he is given more airtime and taken more seriously. Here's a video that shows blatant sexism among Dota 2 casters:
I can't seem to find the video, but on day 3 of the Dota 2 TI4 championship (in the C9 vs VG match), there's a point where Sheever tries to say something about the lineups but is interrupted by other casters three times in a row. She ends up getting to say nothing before the game starts.

I don't think there's much that can be done to get women equal and fair treatment in gaming and computer-related fields, but I'm almost certain the situation will improve itself over time as more women participate. In the meantime, we just have to try to not be such dicks to the outliers and to not look at people through the lenses of gender, race and nationality.

about 6 months ago

EU's Top Court May Define Obesity As a Disability

8086 Re:Have to channel the old Hedberg (625 comments)

"Alcoholism is a disease, but it's the only one you can get yelled at for having. Goddamn it Otto, you are an alcoholic! Goddamn it Otto, you have Lupus! One of those two doesn't sound right."

There are a number of STDs that people get yelled at, too. But your point is well taken. Until recently, alcoholics were considered to just have weak character and were very badly mistreated. Recognizing addiction as a disease helped to change that stigma. Like alcoholics, for many, obesity is not a simple matter of mind over matter and a lack of willpower.

I partly agree with you. Morbid obesity that renders a person dysfunctional should be considered a bona fide disease. Ideally, the government should provide free proper rehabilitation for anyone morbidly obese to recover. But, the line should not be drawn at the BMI mark for Obese (which is what is implied), and here's why:
1. It would encourage indulgence by rewarding it, and lead to possible misuse.
2. It would increase hostility in the workplace against the Obese.
3. As as someone who almost touched the Obese line himself once, I think my weight and how I look is none of your business, or that of anyone that I engage with on a professional or social basis. Many people would be offended by being offered the Obesity benefit based on bad hair days. I don't think most Obese people want another possible label that just about anyone can throw at them.
Yelling is not the best cure, but not yelling also has major downsides. Sometimes people need to be alerted.

about 7 months ago

EU's Top Court May Define Obesity As a Disability

8086 Have to channel the old Hedberg (625 comments)

"Alcoholism is a disease, but it's the only one you can get yelled at for having. Goddamn it Otto, you are an alcoholic! Goddamn it Otto, you have Lupus! One of those two doesn't sound right."

about 8 months ago

Computer Memory Can Be Read With a Flash of Light

8086 Bismuth memory? (69 comments)

There's no bismuth like show bismuth

about a year and a half ago

US Vulnerability Database Yanked Over Malware Infestation

8086 we live in interesting times (52 comments)

Apart from the great irony of this incident, it is also a sign of things to come in cyber security and the computer industry in general. It seems we're at a point of time when you don't have to be stupid and/or high-visibility in order to get hacked, most contemporary software is ill-equipped to deal with the rising security threat, and even security service providers cannot be fully trusted. Hopefully this translates to more employment for us geeks and opportunities to build all the security features and plug up all the holes like we always wanted to but couldn't spare the time for.

about 2 years ago

The Mark Cuban Chair To Eliminate Stupid Patents

8086 Cuba libre (121 comments)

Mark Cuban is an accidental billionaire with a lot of attitude and an itchy twitter finger. His smarts are debatable, but his chutzpah is not. In this instance, however, I agree with him.

Judge Posner who ruled on an Apple v Samsung case agrees with a lot of us here: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/10/judge-decries-excessive-copyright-and-software-patent-protections/ . It's time the USPTO did something drastic about frivolous patents and patent trolling. The problem cannot go away with major systemic change, and because of the complexity of laws involved, you can't just make reforms such as "ban all patent trolls" willy-nilly. The patent trolls will just reincarnate as software company holding companies or some other type of legal entity that bends the rules.

What needs to happen are major changes to the patent examination process itself. Very few people know that when looking for prior art, patent examiners don't use Google or even the Internet to do their research. They do searches in a few official patent/scientific databases in order to make their opinions about prior art. The patent applicant and his attorney can provide USPTO with references from the Internet to prove their point and those are read over by the examiner, but otherwise the examiner has their hands tied.

If the examiner wants to deny a patent application, he/she has to move mountains and prove without a doubt that the invention is not patentable. Patent attorneys are persistent leech-like creatures who will keep appealing any such decisions using any possible argument for as long as possible. Every time a patent attorney argues and disproves a patent examiner's decision, the examiner looks stupid in front of his peers. So, by default, the path of least resistance for the patent examiner is to just keep on awarding patents based on the limited knowledge of USPTO's databases.

I know this from working as a software patent litigation expert.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Who Has the Best 3G Coverage In California and Nevada?

8086 why not 4G? (134 comments)

You should bring aboard one of these (http://nyconvergence.com/2012/03/ny-marketing-firm-uses-homeless-for-sxsw-wifi-beacons.html) homeless people and you'll have 4G internet. You won't need as much internet on the trip, either: with a homeless companion you can sing "spanish ladies" for miles, share stories about the down-low in whichever city they're from, and food, as you find the best dumpster diving joints on the interstate.

more than 2 years ago

Why Microsoft Is Being Nicer To Open Source

8086 not true (231 comments)

I don't know about the whole BRIC, but I've been practicing computer science for 13 years in India and haven't seen a single person use Linux as a desktop OS. Even as a server OS, people usually go for Windows instead of Linux, web servers being an exception. Most people just pirate MS products if they can't afford them. My two cents: MS realizes that people use mixed UNIX/Linux-Windows environments and that they're not going to gain any more market share by bashing open source, since it has 'arrived'. What they are trying to do is show interoperability with open source software, so that you buy Windows because it won't hate your Linux machines. Also, like everyone else, they're trying to build 'community' around the Windows programming environment, because that's where they've been lacking so far. ASP is losing to PHP because a lot more free code is available that can be quickly and lazily deployed. Another reason why this might be happening is because younger people who have grown up with open source software are now working at MS and they probably want to change the evil MS image.

more than 4 years ago

Negroponte Offers OLPC Technology For India's $35 Tablet

8086 More of a software problem (104 comments)

What the Indian government needs to do is come up with a linux distro that will run on old discarded hardware and contain educational applications. A lot of the costs involved in building a new computer platform are redundant when there are already a bajillion old discarded PCs that one can buy for around $35. One thing Indians and most developing nations are good at is fixing up junk and making it useful. A government supplied distro that comes with educational videos, sounds and images, a local copy of wikipedia, and a simple platform that the masses can use for writing applications such as a grain price monitor, and a usable UI written in hindi (and later on in regional languages) can go a long way in achieving their aims.
The government already owns BSNL which has a huge cellphone network throughout the country, and they can start a low-speed internet plan (available only to those with a ration card). They can collaborate with someone in China (say huawei) to manufacture PCI cards and USB dongles that can use the GSM network for data.

The problem is not hardware as much as it is software and content. If you were to subsidize and hand a netbook to every child and poor person in the world today, you couldn't expect them to use it for educational or professional benefits. They'll just log on to facebook and watch Justin Bieber videos. Just recently we heard a story about how computer use does not correlate with higher grades in developed nations. What makes people think it would be any different for a developing country?

As a middle class schoolkid in India, I would've been delighted if there was something else apart from just black and white books that I could learn from. Instead of just reading about concepts, it would've been cool if I had access to simple videos of what an atom probably looks like and speeches delivered by mahatma gandhi. Or a simple geometry application in which you can draw circles and triangles to learn about them without wasting paper.
What India can do is get together a big enough team of developers, schoolteachers and social workers to write applications and compile content for this $35 computer, integrate it into an OS distribution that will run on any x86 processor above the 486 and is portable to other platforms, and then get NGOs to install this on old machines and deliver them to the poor. When they run out of old machines to use, then, maybe they can come up with a cheap x86 or ARM based laptop that has a cheap screen, a keyboard and a pointing device and can run this OS.
My point is that there are greater educational returns for the government of India in spending money in compiling a good software distribution and getting the masses involved early instead of starting another Simputer project that leads to nothing.
To those who do not believe a computer can be made for $35, I'd point to the cheap-ass Nokia 1000 series phones that are the mainstay of the cellphone revolution. These devices can still run simple applications such as games and e-wallets, etc., play MP3s, and some can even read flash memory cards. If one could just write some applications for them and increase the screen size, bingo.

more than 4 years ago

Company Builds Fast Charging Station For Electric Cars

8086 Handcrank? (359 comments)

What about a handcrank like they have on certain radios in Africa? ( http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/05/sonys_handcrank_1.php ) Sure it would take a day's worth of cranking to get enough charge for a mile of driving, but it still could be useful in an emergency.

more than 4 years ago

Student Wants Science To Name 'Hella' Big Number

8086 bullshit (193 comments)

"Hella" seems derived from hell and that would give the spelling of this huge number a negative connotation. Numbers are numbers, they should not have any connotation. That Groucho Harpo proposal has the same problem, it has a happy connotation. Not everyone would like to hear something like: there are Hella stars in the galaxy, or, I'm sorry to report but you earned Harpo dollars this month.

more than 4 years ago

Compiz Project Releases C++ Based v0.9.0

8086 Re:favorite way (237 comments)

Compiz does need a simple Mac-style settings interface with optimal settings pre-fed along with the more advanced one. It takes nearly an hour to explore all options and select the configuration that will look the coolest for one's desktop.

more than 4 years ago

Intel Co-Founder Calls For Tax On Offshored Labor

8086 Re:Damn Skippy! (565 comments)

Adding to your point, globalization has also increased the cost of living for the existing middle class here in India. People who do not work for IT or Real Estate here are at an economic disadvantage. Today, if I want to buy a drink in Hyderabad, I have to shell out at least $5 whereas when I was in a small town Ohio it cost me $2 for one. A Honda Civic here costs about $26000 and gas costs about $5 a gallon. Cigarettes are cheap, rent is cheap, but food costs about the same here as it did there. Healthcare and broadband is a lot cheaper because of lower monopolization. You fancy folk sure imbalanced our local economy. Food costs are rising as more and more farmland gets converted to shiny call centers or future sites for call centers because land prices have skyrocketed due to the perception of a growing economy.

To add to the pain, very little permanent development actually happens here in the field of IT and CS, since we're mostly doing monkey work and the local market for IT products and services is underdeveloped. Too many Indians, too few Chiefs. If I'm an Indian businessman looking to commission a developer for, say, an account system, I have to compete with the prices that US customers are paying. Very often what Indian IT consumers end up with is half-cooked and unreliable systems. When it comes to the point when the average Indian IT worker costs half as much as a US counterpart, we risk having the rug swept from beneath us, leaving a lot of poor and hungry people who drive around in their Honda Civics.

more than 4 years ago

New Wii Menu Update Targets Homebrew Again

8086 They need a legit homebrew option (258 comments)

Everybody knows homebrew is the door for piracy. While the freedom crowd may advocate that one should be entitled to fully use the device they own, truth is that a large part of any console's cost is recovered by content, and without that cash innovation will die and/or consoles will become more expensive. Nintendo always owns a part of the Wii - they paid for it. I know it feels great to be able to play any game you ever wanted for free, but that's because it's easy to not see the food you're stealing off a video game industry worker's table and the despair of many kids who will not get to buy that new Katamari game because it's price got jacked up by ten bucks because of all the pirates. Behind that cartoon face of Mario lies an army of people: developers, marketers, testers, designers, etc that are trying to make ends meet and keep a job (by keeping a business afloat) just like the rest of us. It ain't just fun and games. Enough said.

What Nintendo needs to do is find a way to give out licenses and necessary digital signatures to small production houses and homebrew developers for nominal fees/free so that true homebrew on the Wii can be done in a legit way. How hard would it be for Nintendo to approve a few hundred true homebrew games every month? They're alienating a lot of fans this way, even if for the right reasons. And, this solution will last only the few weeks it takes Skullptura or Razor 1911 or whomever to find another backdoor.

more than 4 years ago

Cloud Gaming Service OnLive Set For Launch

8086 Re:it's magic! (115 comments)

They probably have a neat little compression algorithm figured out, something that works even better than video compression for 3d games. There is a lot more repetition in a 3d game, for example if you're running through a room in mass effect 2, you don't see too many new images (indeed you only see 3d transformations of the first images) compared to what you saw in the first 10 seconds if you scanned the room for enemies. But even if they've compressed it down to a few kilobytes going both ways, the input lag still seems to be the big problem, especially if you're trying to kill a formidable end boss.

more than 4 years ago

House Calls For Hearing On Stock Market "Glitch"

8086 Tom Clancy predicted this. and other theories (180 comments)

The novel "Debt of Honor" by Tom Clancy, especially the chapter called 'Easter Egg' is about an event much like this one. A 'glitch' triggered by two corrected entires causes a loss of transaction data, and at the same time as the 'enemy' (in this case, Japan and other Asian investors) start selling US treasury bonds to bring down the value of the dollar and american stocks while increasing the value of the Yen. In response, the government rewinds all transactions to before the glitch was triggered and gets together with big european investors to start buying back the american trading vehicles hence shittified to increase their value, and so Jack Ryan (TM) saves the world.

The book is implausible in many places but is still an elaborate and enjoyable little drama about these events. I recommend reading it if this story intrigues you and you can tolerate the low-IQ cowboy politics.

That said, this does sound like a conspiracy. Surely there would've been a number of human as well as deterministic safeguards in place for the selling of a billion stocks instead of a million. The market was already spooked by the Greek bailout and going to lose a lot of value, and a well-timed 'computer mistake' was made to help shadow and muddle the apparent cause of some of this damage. Confidence would go down less, keeping the markets afloat somewhat better. For e-discovery purposes, the point-man who made this mistake would be made to look like he was torn to shreds by management, but would not be let go of permanently and will eventually be rewarded by whoever engineered the whole thing. A pretty good play if you ask me.

Either that, or the coke dealers of New York experimented with a new brand of baking soda to cut their product with. Technological advances happen all the time in all sorts of places in that city.

more than 4 years ago


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